Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 58 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 58 of 192)
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1836. The present church in West Spring-
field was built in 1854, and the one in East
Springfield about 1866.

The first Presbyterian edifice was a small
log building which stood on the old portion of
the cemetery grounds. A preaching point was
established in Springfield in 1804, and the
building referred to was put up the same year.
The congregation was organized in 1806, and
the present building was erected in 1844.

The Christian Church was organized in
1826, and put up its building in 1839.

The Baptist congregation was organized
in 1826, and erected a church in 1883. This
building, which stood on the Ridge road,
about two and a half miles west of East Spring-
field, was sold to the township, and a new one
was provided in West Springfield in 1858.

The Universalists organized a congrega-
tion in West Springfield in 1848, and built a
house of worship in 1850, which burned down
October 2, 1889. Since then the body has
practically broken up.

West Springfield at the junction of the
Albion with the Ridge road, is three miles
east of the Ohio line, four west of East Spring-
field, and twenty-five by common road from
Erie. The Nickel Plate railroad station at
this place is known as Crayton.

North Springfield has sprung up within
the last forty years on the Lake Shore R. R.,
just west of Crooked creek embankment, about



half a mile south of Lake Erie, and twenty by
railroad from Erie. The railroad company
have at this place a station house, two water
tanks and an engine house to pump the water
up from Crooked creek. Its station was
established in 1852, the year the road was


[see SPRINGFIELD township.]

East Springfield was created a borough
Septembers, 1887. It cast seventy-nine votes

in 1892, and is thought to have a population
of between 400 and 450. The borough, which
is a station on the Nickel Plate R. R., occu-
pies a site along the Ridge road, two and a
half miles from North Springfield, on the Lake
Shore R. R.. one and a half west of Cross's
Station, on the Erie and Pittsburg R. R., and
twenty-one b}' common road from Erie.

The churches, schools, historical events,
etc., are referred to on the pages relating to
Springfield township, of which the borough
was originally a part.



SUMMIT TOWNSHIP was the last one
established in Erie county, and is the
smallest in area. It was formed in
1854, out of the western part of Greene,
the eastern part of McKean, and a
small portion of Waterford. The name of
Summit was given because it contains the di-
viding ridge between the waters of LeBceuf
and Walnut creeks, the former flowing into
the Gulf of Mexico, and the latter into the
Gulf of St. Lawrence. It had a population in
1860 of 1,038; in 1870 of 1,047; in 1880 of
1,047, and in 1890 of 903.

The township is bounded on the north hy
Mill Creek, on the east by Greene, on the
south by Waterford and on the west by Mc-
Kean. The north line dividing it from Mill
Creek is the only straight one, and has a length
of five and a half miles; the east line, includ-
ing its numerous angles, is over six miles long ;
the south line three and a half, and the west
line about five miles.


The Philadelphia and Erie R. R. runs
througli the east side of the township almost
its entire length from north to south, entering
from Mill Creek and leaving through Water-

ford. To reach the township it crosses the
summit between Mill creek and Walnut creek
by a heavy grade, passing into the valley of
the latter stream at Langdon's Station. From
there it follows the Walnut creek valley to the
main summit at Jackson's, where it enters the
valley of LeBcEuf creek, which it follows to
Waterford. The summit of the road at Jack-
son's is a little over G50 feet above the level of
the lake. The railroad stations are Langdon's,
Jackson's and Sampsonville.

The main public roads of Summit are the
Waterford turnpike, running over the hills
almost through the center of the township ;
the Waterford plank road, following the val-
leys of Walnut and LeBceuf creeks, and the
Edinboro plank road, which passes through
its northwestern corner. The old road, by
which the French transported goods from
Presque Isle to Waterford, and over which the
army passed that defeated Braddock near Pitts-
burg, in 1755, crossed the township from north
to south, and most of it is still used as a public

Summit township has no villages, and but
one postoffice. A postoftice was kept at Jack-
son's Station some years after the opening of
the railroad, which was removed to White-


ford's Corners. It was abandoned and again
revived under the name of Godard in 1882.
Another was maintained for a time at the
White church, on the Edinboro plank road,
in the northwestern section of the township,
but it, too, proved a failure. Most of the mail
for the township goes to Erie or Kearsarge.


Walnut creek and the West braucli of Le-
Boeuf creek are the principal streams, both be-
ing quite small in their course through the
township. Walnut creek rises on the western
edge of Greene, a little northeast of White
ford's Corners, runs across Summit in a general
northwestern direction, and, crossing the south-
western portion of Mill Creek, flows through
Fairview into the lake at Manchester, after a
course of about twenty miles. The West
branch of LeBoeuf creek has its source on the
farm of W. A. Bean, but a few feet from a
tributary of Walnut creek, and, flowing
through the township in a southeastern course,
unites with the East branch in Waterford
township, a little north of Waterford Station.
LeBtEuf creek, measuring from its usually re-
puted head, on the edge of Greene and Ve-
nango, to its mouth at French creek, has a
length of perhaps twenty miles.

The Walnut creek lands are the cream of
the township. The valley has an average
width of about three fourths of a mile, and
produces almost everything that can be raised
on the lake shore. The LeBceuf valley is
about a mile and a half wide, and the tillable
land is perhaps equally good with that of the
Walnut creek valley, but there are numerous
swamps, which however, are being gradually

On the hills, the land of the township is
best for grazing, and large quantities of butter
are produced. The whole township is a good
fruit country. The price of land runs from
twenty to fifty dollars an acre.


The first settler in the township was
George W. Reed, a son of Col. Seth Reed,
who located about 1796. In a few years he
changed to Waterford, where he died. A
tract of land was taken up in the Walnut
creek valley by Thomas Rees in 1797, but he
never resided in the township. Oliver Dunn
located in the western portion of the town-

ship the same year, but afterward removed to
McKean township. In 1800, James and
Ebenezer Graham, with their families, came
from Centre county and settled what has since
been known as the Graham neighborhood.
They were soon followed in the same vicinity
by Eli Webster and Abijah Hull. Eli Rock-
well went in in 1801, and Daniel Lee in 1802.
Among other early residents were Thomas
Rees, Jr., and John Way. P. S. Woolley
made his location about 1823, and James Jack-
son in 1825. The latter, who was originally
from Herkimer county. New York, settled in
Erie in 1818, and went from there to Summit.
The original settlers were mostly Americans,
of the Protestant faith. Within the last thirty
years, a large influx of Irish and German
Catholics has taken place, and that denomina-
tion now numbers fully a fourth of the popu-
lation. William Dunn, the first child born in
the township, in 1798, died on the 14th of
April, 1880.


The church buildings of Summit are one
Methodist Episcopal, one Catholic, one United
Presbyterian, and one of the Evangelical Asso-

The Hamlin Methodist Episcopal church,
on the road from Whiteford's Corners to W.
A. Bean's, was organized in 1837, and the
building was erected in 1852.

The United Presbyterian Church at Five
Points was organized in January, 1842, and
re-established in 1873. Its church building
was erected in 1848. Services of the same
denomination are held in the school house at
Whiteford's Corners, the congregation having
been organized in 1876.

St. Matthew's Catholic church building
was put up in 1876 on land donated by George
Reynolds. The congregation was organized
about the same time. Services are attended
by a priest from McKean.

Emanuel's Church of the Evangelical Asso
ciation, which has a building near the McKean
line, was started about 1838. The house of
worship was built in 1S68.

A school was held about two miles east of
the house of Squire Webster, in a vacated
cabin, as early as 1819. In 1820 or '21 there
was a school on a cross-road which intersected
the French road. About the same time schools
were taught at Hull's Corners and on Graham



Hill. The first school house was built in 1822
by neighborhood subscriptions. This was for
years the only school building in the town-
ship. During the winter of 1841-2, there was
a school about a mile east of the Webster
farm. All of these were kept up by private


The township had at one period as many
as four sawmills on Walnut creek, all of
which have been abandoned. There are three
sawmills at present in the township, viz : one
near W. A. Bean's, one near Jackson's Sta-
tion, and one at Sampsonville. At the latter
place there is quite a settlement, due to the
lumbering operations in the vicinity.

Whiteford's Corners embraces a store,
schoolhouse and several other buildings. Close
by is a favorite picnic grove, on the line of
the railroad.

The township contains two cheese facto-
ries, the Excelsior, near the railroad, on the
public road from the Lake Pleasant road to the
Waterford plank road, and Bean's, near the
residence of William A. Bean. Both have
been in operation about nineteen years.

The nearest stone quarry to the city of

Erie of much account is the one known
as Reynolds', near the Catholic church.
It has been in operation many years, has fur-
nished quantities of good stone, and an abun-
dance is still left. Many years ago, Col.
Norris gathered considerable oil as it exuded
from the rocks at the quarry and sold it for
medicine. This circumstance led to the drill-
ing of a well on the premises, but, although
plenty of gas poured out, oil was never found
in paying quantity. In addition to the Rey-
nolds' quarry, William Liddell had a smallone
near the turnpike.

Summit has furnished but two county
officers — both Auditors — viz. : EH Webster,
from 1829 to 1832, and John L. Way, from
1849 to 1852, and from 1859 to 1862.

In 1821, James McKee was convicted of
murdering a mariner near the old brewery,
and was sentenced to seven years' solitary
confinement in the Philadelphia Penitentiary,
but died after a few months' imprisonment.
John A. Hans, also at one time a resident of
the township, but who removed to Eiie, was
convicted of causing the death of his wife, at
the corner of State and Second streets, in that
city. He was sentenced to Allegheny Peni-
tentiary, served out his term, returned to Erie
and died soon after.



WHEN Erie county was organized all
that portion cf its territory lying
east of LeBoeuf and Waterford,
to the western line of Wayne and
Concord, was given the name of
Union township. From 1800 to 1821 Union
and Brokenstraw, which included Wayne
and Concord, formed one election dis-
trict. In 1825 Amity was taken from Union,
leaving the township lines as they are at pres-
ent. Union township is almost square, hav-
ing a length of about six and a quarter by a

breadth of about five and three-quarter miles.
It is bounded on the north by Amity, on the
east by Wayne and Concord, on the south by
Crawford county, and on the west by Le-
Boeuf. The population was 200 in 1820, 235
in 1830, 543 in 1840, 1,080 in 1850, 1,954 in
1860, 1,334 in 1870, 1,337 in 1880, and 1,366
in 1890.

■ The township contains very little flat land,
and such as there is, embracing a few farms
only, lies wholly along the South branch of
French creek. The balance of the township



is rolling, with few steep hills or abrupt ra-
vines, almost every foot of ground being sus-
ceptible of cultivation. Land is valued at
fifteen dollars to $100 an acre, according to
the location. " The soil is generally a heavy
clay, with an underlying strata of hard pan,
excepting about 1,200 acres, which were origi-
nally covered with pine timber, and are a
gravelly loam, underlaid with sand. The tim-
ber, aside from the pine above mentioned, was
principally beech, maple, hemlock, cucumber
and whitewood, with a ridge of oak and chest-
nut through the southwest corner." A sink-
hole, similar to the one near Wateiford, but
of less extent, was encountered in building
the Philadelphia and Erie R. R., a short dis-
tance east of Union City. The only postoffice
in the township is that of Ferdinand.


The chief stream is the South branch of
French creek, or Little French creek, as it is
sometimes called, which rises in Concord,
south of Corry, flows through the main part of
the latter township, across Union from east to
west, and joins the main stream in LeBreuf, a
few rods below the Philadelphia and Erie R. R.
bridge, after a course of not far from twenty-
five miles. From Corry to LeBcpuf it furn-
ishes the route of the New York, Pa. and Ohio
and Philadelphia and Erie R. R.'s. Its trib-
utaries in Union township are. on the south
side, Scotchman's, Wilson's, Mulvin's and
Carroll's runs, and on the north side Pine,
Tolbert's and Benson's runs, all small streams.
Scotchman's run rises in Bloomfield town-
ship, Crawford county, and falls into the
South branch on or near the Wade farm, hav-
ing a length of about four miles. It has two
branches, known as Stewart's and Cochran's
runs. Wilson's run also heads in Bloomfield,
and, after a length of five to six miles, ends
at Steenrod's mill. The head of Mulvin's run
is on the Shreve farm, its mouth is on the
Mulvin farm, and its length is some two
miles. Carroll's run ends in LeBoeuf town-
ship, just across the line, after a course of
about seven miles. Pine run begins near the
Amity line. Its length is perhaps three and a
half miles. Tolbert's run has its head on the
Church place, and its mouth in the borough.
Its length is estimated at three miles. Ben-
son's run terminates in the borough, near its
western boundary. The main inlet of Oil

Creek lake, in Crawford county, rises in the
southwest near the LeBoeuf line.


The Philadelphia and Erie R. R. has five
bridges over the South branch, two in the
township and three in the borough, while the
New York, Pa. and Ohio R. R., by follow-
ing a higher grade, avoided the necessity of
crossing the stream at all. The township
bridges are good, but not expensive. The main
thoroughfares are the old road to Wattsburg,the
Smiley road to the same place, the Flats road
to Waterford, and the roads to Corry, Con-
cord, Titusville and Mill Village. The Phil-
adelphia and Erie and New York, Pa. and
Ohio R. R.'s both cross the township from
LeBoeuf to Concord, following practically the
same route, by way of the South branch,
though at different elevations. A third rail-
road, the Union and Titusville, once connected
with the Philadelphia and Erie at Union City,
but has been abandoned.

The manufacturing concerns of the town-
ship are Steenrod's saw and gristmill on the
South branch, east of the borough ; Fenno's
sawmill and Seymour's saw and shingle-mill;
Kamerer's sawmill, north of the borough ; the
West Union or Carroll's cheese factory, south
of the borough on the Mill Village road ;
Wager's cider mill, south of the borough;
Vermilyea's sawmill on the Town Line road ;
Bentley's sawmill, northeast of the borough;
Miller's sawmill, in the south part ; Harrison's,
in the Wilson neighborhood; Lyon's mill,
east of the borough ; one on the South branch,
between the N. Y., P., and O. R. R. and P.
and E. R. R., east of the borough, and
Thompson's, southeast of the borough. The
Carroll cheese factory was started May 6,
1872. The township has had at different
periods as many as fifteen sawmills, the men-
tion of which indicates the immense amount
of timber that has been cut off and marketed.


The Asbury Methodist Episcopal chapel
stands near the Mill Village road, ahnost on
the line of LeBcEuf, three miles southwest of
the borough. The congregation was organ-
ized by Rev. John Scott, in 1840, and the
building was erected in 1862. A graveyard,
the only one outside of the borough cemeteries,
is attached to the chapel.



Most of the burials from the township take
place at Union City.

The Wesleyan Methodist Church, in the
southeast corner of the township, was organ-
ized November 18, 1882. A building known
as the Church at Cottage Hill, was erected in
1883, and dedicated in November of that year,
on a lot donated by F. M. Devereaux, the en-
tire cost being about $1,800. Services are
held in the church every Sabbath afternoon.

One of the earliest schools in the township
was taught during the war of 1812, by Will-
iam Craig, in a house vacated by Thomas Mc-
Elhany. Probably the next school was taught
by Mrs. Susanna Pain, during the summer of
1815, in a log cabin built by Hugh Wilson.
The first house built for a school which was
successful was erected about 1818, near the
mills, now Union City. William Kellej', an
Irishman, taught in it two winters. Daniel
Sacket, who hailed from the East, taught
there in 1825, and from that date schools were
frequent. In the fall of 1835, a second house
was built, two and one-half miles distant,
where David Wilson taught for four winters.

Smith's quarry, a mile north of the bor-
ough, on the Wattsburg road, and Wellman's,
in the Carroll settlement, near the LeBcEuf
line, are the onlj' ones in the township.


'J he first settler in Union townshp was
Hugh Wilson, from the "North of Ireland, who
came early in 1797 and was joined the follow-
ing year by Andrew Thompson, wife and
four children, Matthew Gray, wife and son
Francis B., and Robert Smith. Jacob Shep-
pard, from the Susquehanna valley, went in
during the year 1798, but left and did not re-
turn until 1820. About the same time that
Sheppard first came, John Wilson, father of
Hugh, arrived direct from Ireland, with two
grown daughters. John Fagan, from Frank-
lin county, settled on the Russell Church farm
about 1798, but changed to Mill Creek town-
ship in 1803 or 1804. William Miles and his
family moved over from what is now Con-
cord in 1800, and were followed by Miles'
brother-in-law, William Cook, with his family,
in 1801. During the latter year, the settlement
was increased by the arrival of Abel K.
Thompson, with five sons and two daughters,
and of Ferdinand Carroll and family from Ire-
land. From that date to 1816, it does not ap-

pear that any permanent acquisitions took
place, but in the latter year James Smiley
with his wife and six children were added to
the colony. Of later settlers, Richard Shreve
made his location in 1820 ; Levi Barnes and
Abram Emerson in 1821, and Daniel Dun-
ham in 1836. Mr. Shreve had been a resi-
dent of Crawford county, and Messrs. Barnes,
E.merson and Dunham were from the interior
of New York. Matthew Gray founded the
first tannery. Mr. Smiley had charge of
Miles' mill for many years. The colonists
were few until 1880. Most of the families
now in the township came after that year.

The first death was that of John Wilson,
father of Hugh, who departed this life in June,

1799. The first child was Martha, daughter
of Hugh Wilson and wife, born August 18,

1800. The first marriage, and the first in the
south part of the county, was that of William
Smith and Elizabeth Wilson, in 1799, and the
second that of Thomas King and Sarah Wil-
son in 1800, both ladies being daughters of
John Wilson. Mrs. Smith, itce Elizabeth
Wilson, died August 6, 1875, in Wayne town-
ship, at the age of 99 years, being the
fourth oldest woman who has lived in the
county. Hugh Wilson was one of the first
Justices of the Peace in Erie county. He
was commissioned by Governor McKean in
1808, and held the ofl^ce till 1816 or 1817.
While he held the position, he officiated at
most of the marriages in that part of the


Union City and Union township have fur-
nished the following county officers : Sheriff,
F. E. Staples, January 1, 1880, to January 1,
1883. County'Treasurer, W. O. IBlack, De-
cember 20, 1860, to December 23, 1862; C.
W. Keller, December 26, 1866, to March 10,
1870, when he resigned. County Commis-
sioner, Robert Gray, 1843 to 1846; William
Putnam, 1858 to 1861 ; A. O. Gillett, elected
in 1884; Clinton B. Smith, elected in 1898.
Jury Commissioner, P. G. Stranahan, 1867 to
1870; James D. Phillips, 1882 to February,
1884 (resigned) ; G. G. Smith (appointed by
the Court to fill the unexpired term of Mr.
Phillips), February, 1884, to January, 1885.
County Superintendent of Public Schools,
Charles Twining, 1878 to 1884. Director of
the Poor, Andrew Thompson, 1865 to 1870;

*]i^^ ,

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 58 of 192)