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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 60 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 60 of 192)
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and the rings indicated an age of 175 years.
In early days the country was full of white
pine, cucumber and cherry timber.


The Middlebrook church, the first house for
religious worship in the county, stood about a
mile and a half north of Lowville, along the
Wattsburg and North East road. The first
services, held in August, 1801, in the woods on
the east bank of the West branch, near a spring
on the Enos Mann place, were attended by
ever}' man and woman in the township, the
young men having previously cleared the
ground and provided a pulpit and seats by
chopping down and squaring the timber. At
their conclusion, a motion that a church build-
ing be erected, was eagerly adopted. On the
next Thursday, all of the able-bodied men and
boys met, agreed upon a site, and put up
a structure — all within the same day — which,
though more modest than modern churches,
doubtless afforded the people as much satis-
faction. The first church was replaced in 1802,



by another of more pretentious style, built of
hewed and split logs. Services were regularly
held in this building until the Presbyterian
church at VVattsburg was erected, about 1828,
when most of the congregation dropped off.
The congregation at Middlebrook continued to
decline until April 30, 1829, when it was dis-
solved and attached to the one at Wattsburg.
In the Middlebrook graveyard were interred
the bodies of many of the foremost Presby-
terian pioneers in the county. Most of the
remains have been taken up, and the old bury-
ing place is no longer interesting except from
its associations.

The old building was torn down soon after
the last war, and some of the logs were found
to be perfectly sound. Those that could be
used were cut into lumber and employed in
building the Moore schoolhouse in Greenfield

The Methodist Episcopal congregation at
Lowville was organized in 1875, and built its
house of worship in 1876. That of the same
denomination at Phillipsville was organized
some years prior to 1848. The church build-
ing was erected in 1862, on land deeded to
the society by Norman Chapin. The Metho-
dist Episcopal congregation at Macedonia has
been in existence a good many years. The
church was built about 1890.

The United Brethren have two churches —
one on the Lake Pleasant road, at the head of
the lake, near the Greene township line, and
the other about half a mile north of Wick's
Corners. The congregation first mentioned
was organized in 1871, and put up a building
in 1872; the second building was erected
about 1890.

The Advent congregation at Lowville has
been organized five or six years, and built a
church edifice in 1893.

The cemeteries and graveyards of the
township are the Lowville and Phillipsville,
the old Butler burial ground on the James \V.
Davis place and some family inclosures. The
Wattsburg cemetery is also partlj' within the

Not far from the year 1818, a school was
held in the dwelling of B. Tracy, situated
about one and a half miles east of the present
borough of Wattsburg. In the Phillipsville
settlement, about the year 1833, a frame school-
house was erected not far from the site of the
school building now at that village. A log

schoolhouse had been used from 1828 Iii
the summer of 1819, there was a school in
the neighborhood of the Middlebrook church.
Near the line between Venango and Green-
field townships, stood what was known as the
Campfield schoolhouse, in which school was
taught at periods during the decade beginning
with 1822.


Lowville is on the West branch of French
creek, eighteen miles southeast from Erie, and
two north of Wattsburg. The Wattsburg
plank road runs through the place and consti-
tutes its main street. Lowville is the site of
the town house of Venango, a frame building
built in 1872. The Lowville cemetery, a
tract of four acres, on the bank of the creek,
contains some costly monuments, is neatly laid
out and carefully kept. Lowville ®wes its
origin to the enterprise of Samuel Low, who
moved there in 1822 from Genesee count)'.
New York, and established a grist and saw-
mill and a woolen factory. In 1834 he changed
to Harbor Creek. Col. Wareham Warner car-
ried on a tannery at Lowville with success for
some years, but abandoned it about 1860 or

Phillipsville was founded by Gen. John
Phillips, who opened a tavern about 1810 on
the Waterford and North East road, a few
rods west of the corners. The village is
fourteen miles from Erie and four from Watts-
burg, at the crossing of the Waterford and
North East road by the old Erie and Watts-
burg road.


The following interesting reminiscences
were contributed by James D. Phillips, a son
of one of the pioneers of Venango township :

" Thomas Phillips, with his sons John,
David and Thomas, jr., and his daughters
Lienor, Hannah and Polly, moved from North-
umberland county, Pennsylvania, in the year
1797. John Phillips took up 1,400 acres of
land, Thomas, sr., 200, and David 200 acres.
Messrs. Yost, Donaldson and others followed
about the same period. James Phillips, son
of Thomas, sr., and brother to John, David
and Thomas, jr., moved from Lancaster coun-
ty, Pennsylvania, in 1827. * * *

"John Phillips was Paymaster General in
the war of 1812, under Gen. Harrisoti. He




received his money, to pay off the army, in
silver at Pittsburg, and carried it through the
wilderness to Fort Meigs on pack-horses. He
served for years as the Representative of this
county in the Legislature ; afterward, he was
appointed Canal Commissioner of the State,
and subsequently was appointed and served
as Justice of the Peace for several years. He
died in the fall of 1846.

"The first postofRce at Phillipsville was
established in 1829, James Phillips, being
appointed postmaster. A post route was es-
tablished from Jamestown, N. Y., via Phillips-
ville, to Erie. The mail was carried on foot
from Jamestown to Erie, with nothing from
Phillipsville to Mill Creek township to mark
the way through the wilderness except blazed
trees. The county at that time was a home
for bear, wolves and deer.

" Levi Butler and sons Jackson and Tim-
othy, from Onondaga, N. Y., made their
settlement in 1828-2'J."


[see VENANGO.]

The first clearing at Wattsburg was made
in 1796 by William Miles, who built a store-
house as a depot of supplies for the surround-
ing country and for the purchase of furs. At
that time the headquarters of the Population
Company were at Colt's Station, and all the
trade between the lake and the Allegheny was
carried on in canoes up and down French
creek. The first road was opened to North
East, by way of Greenfield, in 1798. In 1809,
through the persuasion of Mr. Miles and others,
the county opened a road from Erie to the
forks of French creek, as the site was then
called, which, in general, followed the route
of the old Wattsburg road, though it was
afterward changed in some places. Previous
to 1822, the West branch had to be forded,
but in that year Mr. Miles got the county to
build a bridge on the same site used for the
purpose today. This was the first permanent
bridge erected in Erie county. During the
same season he put up a gristmill and sawmill,
and in 1822 he induced Lyman Robinson, a
surveyor at North East, to move over and
build a tavern. TSIr. Miles located in 1795 on
the head-waters of Oil creek, near the Craw-
ford county line, in Concord township, where

he remained until 1800, when he changed to
Union. In 1828 he laid out Wattsburg, nam-
ing it after his father-in law, David Watts, of
Carlisle. In February of the same year, he
had a postoflice established at Wattsburg, and
at the same time a weekly mail route was
opened between Erie and Jamestown, by way
of the village. The mail was carried for years
on the back of a man, who walked the whole
distance. Mr. Robinson acted as agent at
Wattsburg for William Miles for many years,
and after his death served in a similar capac-
ity for his son James Miles. The tract of
1,400 acres taken up by Mr. Miles was not
originally in his own name, but in that of
Watts, Scott & Co.

Wattsburg was incorporated as a borough
in 1883, with a population of a little over a
hundred. The town stands on the wide plain
just above the junction of the two branches of
French creek, twenty miles by the plank road,
eighteen by the old road, and eighteen and
three-fourths by the Lake Pleasant road from
Erie, and eight miles from Union City.


Wattsburg contains three church build-
ings, Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian and

The Methodist Episcopal congregation
was organized in 1827, by Elder Knapp, who
went there as a missionary in 1820. The first
edifice was erected in 1831, and the present one
in 1861.

The Presbyterian congregation, organized
in 1826, is the successor of the old Middle-
brook society, the history of which is given in
the sketch of Venango township. The first
church was built in Wattsburg about 1828,
and the second in 1855. In November, 1833,
the Wattsburg church was recognized by the
Presbytery as a separate organization.

The Baptist Church was organized April
6, 1850. On the 25th of that month the
church was duly recognized. The meeting-
house was erected in 1851.

The Wattsburg Agricultural Society is one
of the most successful organizations of its
kind in Northwestern Pennsylvania. It held
its twelfth annual fair during the first week
in September, 1895.

Wattsburg Lodge No. 583, of the Masonic
order, was instituted in March, 1875. The
lodge of the Knights of Honor was organized



in 1877 ; that of the Odd Fellows in 1889 ; the
Grange in 1874; the post of the G. A. R. in
1882; the W. R. C. in 1882, and the branch
of the State Police in 1877-


The borough has a number of mills and
factories and does a good trade. Among its
manufacturing establishments are a gristmill,
two sash and blind factories and two lumber-
mills. The water-power afforded by the two
branches of French creek is considerable, and,
with railroad facilities, the town could not
fail to become a point of importance.

VVattsburg has been a famous butter mar-
ket for thirty years. " Wattsburg butter,"
which includes the product mainly of Amity,
Venango and Greenfield, ranks as " Chautau-
qua butter '' in the New York market and
brings the same price.

The population of the borough by the
United States census was 286 in 1870, 889 in
1880 and 382 in 1890.

The first temperance society in Erie county
was organized in Wattsburg in 1828. In 1882
a project was agitated for a new county, to be
called Miles, with Wattsburg as the county

A schoolhouse stood in the immediate
vicinity of the present school building as long
ago as 1821. All of the schools in the bor-
ough have practically been held on the same
site. The present building was erected in
1852. The schools were first graded in 1878.


The first newspaper published in Watts-
burg was styled the Chronicle, begun in 1878
by W. A. Moore and discontinued in about
one year. In 1881, the Wattsburg Occasional
was started by R. P. Holliday. This was
succeeded by the Sentinel, established by Dr.
S. F. Chapin in 1884, which is still published
by that gentleman.

The following State and county officers

have been residents of VVattsburg : Assem-
bly, Lyman Robinson, 1842 and 1845; Byron
S. Hill, 1863 and 1864; Samuel F. Chapin,
1875 to 1878 ; A. W. Hayes, 1881 to 1884.
County Superintendent of Common Sciiools,
William H. Armstrong, 1854 to 1860, the first
incumbent of the office. County Commis-
sioner, Lyman Robinson, 1839 to 1842. County
Treasurer, Newton T. Hume, December 14,
.1874, to fan\iary 7, 1878. Director of the
Poor, O. ). McAllister, 1888 to 1889. Jury
Commissioners, D. N. Patterson, 1868 to
1871 ; Robert Leslie, 1874 to 1877. Mercan-
tile Appraisers, James T. Ensvvorth, 1856;
D. N. Patterson, 1868 and 1878; O. J. Mc-
Allister, 1882. Clerk to the Directors of the
Poor, W. Barry Smith (living in Erie at the
time), 1886 to 1888 inclusive. Dr. S. F.
Chapin, Surgeon to the Soldiers' and Sailors'
Home in Erie, since October 1, 1889, was a
resident of Wattsburg when appointed.
Among the prominent citizens of Erie who
have lived in Wattsburg and Venango town-
ship, were : Joseph Williams (the banker),
P. G. Finn, Heman Janes, Amos C. Williams,
J. I. Town, T- J- Town, B. F. Sloan and the
Warner brothers. Col. W. S., M. Rush and
Joseph R. Outside of Erie, the list of former
residents of Wattsburg who became conspicu-
ous numbers Richard Blore, of Colorado; H.
T., Wm., Augustus, and Artemas Clarke, and
L. S. and H. F. Chapin, of Nebraska; Hon.
Mr. Walling, of Ohio, member of Congress ;
L. C. Chapin, professor in Yale College for
twelve years ; IBuchanan and Samuel Nelson,
of Chicago ; David Preston, of Detroit ; the
well known Town family, W. T. Everson, of
Union, and Hector McLean, of Rochester,
N. Y.


Miss Rosina Bliss died May 16, 1895, at
the unusual age of 97 years and 10 months,
being one of the most aged persons who has
ever lived in the county.



WHEN Erie county was created the
territory now embraced in Washing-
ton township, together with portions
of Waterford and Frankhn since
taken off, was given the title of Con-
neaiittee, after its lake and principal stream.
The name was changed to Washington in 1884,
to correct the inconvenience caused by two
very similar township names in the same
county. In 1844, a large slice was cut out of
the west side in the formation of Franklin
township, and another reduction was made at
a later period by taking a piece from the north-
east coiner and adding it to Waterford.

'Ihe township is bounded on the north by
McKean, Waterford and Franklin, on the east
by Waterford and LeBccuf, on the south by
Venango, Cussewago and Cambridge town-
ships, Crawford county, and on the west by
Elk Creek and Franklin. It contains three
small villages — McLane, McLallen's Corners
and Draketown. The postoffices are McLane
(sometimes known as Compton's Corners),
McLallen's Corners and Itley (Draketown).
The population of the township was 438 in
1820, 743 in 1880, 1,551 in 1840, 1,706 in 1850,
1,943 in 1860,2,744 in 1870, 1,880 in 1880, and
1,790 in 1890. It is divided, for election pur-
poses, into the East and West districts.


In 1796 Alex. Hamilton and William Cul-
bertson, both of Lycoming county, visited the
site of Edinboro and selected lands with the
design of establishing a colony. They returned
to their home in the fall and spent the winter
along the West branch of the Susquehanna
enlisting settlers. In the spring of 1797, they
came back, and were soon followed by JoId
Reeder, Samuel Galloway, Simeon Dunn.
John and James Campbell, Mathias Sipps,
John Mc Williams, Phineas McLenathan, Mat-
thew Hamilton, James, John, Andrew and
Samuel Culbertson, Mrs. Jane Campbell (a

widow), two of her sons and daughter Han-
nah, and the wives of Alex. Hamilton and
William Culbertson. Other parties arrived
later in the season, making about fifty colon-
ists during the year 1797. The widow Camp-
bell retraced her way to the Susquehanna in
the fall, and returned the next spring, bring-
ing her other three children. She and her
family took up over 1,000 acres, building sev-
eral cabins so as to hold the land. James
Culbertson located on the Hardman farm ;
John on the Lick, Webster and Giles places;
Samuel on the old Perry farm, and William on
the old Kinter farm. The latter soon changed
to the tract now covered by Edinboro, and
proved himself to be the most enterprising man
of the part)'. He built the first house in Ed-
inboro and the first gristmill and sawmill on
Conneauttee creek. Mr. Culbertson's earliest
residence was on the site of the Vunk house in
Edinboro from which he moved to a building
on the site of the R. C. McLaughrey store.
Alexander Hamilton took up 600 acres,
including the ISIartin Pratt farm ; Phineas
McLenathan settled on the west side of the
lake, and Mathias Sipps near the Waterford
road, not far from the center oFthe township.
Below are as nearl}- as can be ascertained
the years in which other pioneers settled in the
township : In 1798, Peter Kline ; 1800, James
Graham; 1802, Daniel Sherod: 1805, John
Tanner and Davis Pifer ; 1814, Simeon Meach-
am ; 1816, Judah Wells ; 1817, John C. Reeder;
1817 or 1818, Robert McLallen, James Port
and Nathaniel Etheridge ; 1819, Isaac Taylor;
1819 or 1820, Nathaniel Gardner; 1822, Sam-
uel Reeder ; 1824, Moses Reeder ; 1825, Moses
Gleeton; 1825 or 1826, Jesse Lewis; 1827,
Davis McLallen and Henry R.Terry; 1828,
Jacob Lefevre; 1830, Charles McLallen ; 1882,
Sherman Greenfield and L. B. Goodell ;' 1833,
George Sweet, Evi Twichell and Willard
Wellman ; 1834, J. J. Compton, Benjamin
White, Jesse Tarbelf, Wanton Slocum, the



Hawkinses and M. M. McLaughrey ; 1835,
John White, the Proudfits and the Potters ;
1836, the Shieldses. Mr. Sweet was from
Cayuga county, New York, and Mr. Conip-
ton from Delaware county. New York. Dr.
J. C. Wilson made his location in 1856, com-
ing from Bucks county. Among the early
settlers in Little Conneauttee valley were Zo-
pher Davis and John Sherwood (both of whom
located in 1819)",Walter Palmer, Henry Drake,
Russell Stancliff, Ralph D. Phelps and Theo.

Wm. Culbertson was the first and Jacob
Lefevre the second Justice of the Peace — the
first-named holding the position forty years.

The first marriage was that of Job Reeder
to Nancy Campbell, March 1, 1800; the first
death that of Mrs. William Culbertson in
1804. Jane Culbertson was the first female
child, born in 1799, and John Augustus Cul-
bertson the first male child, born in 1800,
though this was disputed by William Board-
man, of Union City, who claimed to have
first seen the liglit in the Little Conneauttee
valley in 1796.


Washington township is well watered by
Conneauttee and Little Conneauttee creeks
and their branches. The East branch of Con-
neauttee creek rises near McLane, and the
West branch in a cranberry' marsh in Franklin
township, about two miles from the Washing-
ton line. After coursing through the western
and central portions of Washington township
from the north, they unite their waters at the
head of Conneauttee lake. Flowing through
the lake, the stream continues some eight
miles further to a point near Cambridge,
where it joins French creek after a total length
of about fifteen miles. Pratt creek unites
with the East branch about a mile north of
the lake, and Herbert creek runs into the main
stream two miles below the outlet. The Lit-
tle Conneauttee rises in McKean, perhaps a
mile north of the township line, runs across
the eastern portion in a southerly course, and
empties into the Conneauttee a short distance
above its mouth, having a length about equal
to its more prominent namesake. Besides the
above mentioned streams, the north part of
the township contains the headwaters of the
South branch of Elk creek, which joins the
main stream near Middleboro.

Lake Conneauttee was originally about
three-fourths of a mile long by half a mile
wide, but was somewhat enlarged by the con-
struction of the dam for Culbertson's mill
across the outlet.

The lands of Washington township will
average as well as any of the southern districts
in the county. There are no abrupt hills or
precipitous gullies, and nearly the whole face
of the country is susceptible of cultivation. A
broad, fertile valley extends from the McKean
line across the entire township, along Con-
neauttee creek, and the valley of the Little
Conneauttee, though narrower, is equally pro-

A high chestnut ridge, rising gradually
from the vallej's, lies between the two streams.
There is another ridge on the west side of the
township, e.xtending from Franklin to the
Crawford line, which is the exact counterpart
of its eastern neighbor. The price of land is
from twenty-five to $100 an acre, averaging
perhaps thirty dollars.


The principal highways are the Erie and
Meadville plank roads, the plank road from
Waterford to Drake's Mills, Crawford county;
the old Waterford road, the road from Cranes-
ville to Waterford, the State road from Lock-
port through McLane to Waterford, and the
Sherrod Hill road from Edinboro to Cusse-
wago. The old Waterford road was estab-
lished about 1802. The Erie and Edinboro
Plank Road Company was formed in 1850,
and the Edinboro and Meadville Company was
organized the same year, thus making provision
for a continuous route between Lake Erie and
the county seat of Crawford county. Both
roads (now known as one) were completed in
1852, and abandoned by the companies about
1868 or 1869. The plank road from Water-
ford to Drake's Mills, built about the same
period, was allowed to fall into the hands of
the township authorities when the others were
abandoned. In all three cases, the plank was
taken up or allowed to decay, and the
thoroughfares, although still known as " plank
roads," do not differ from other public roads,
except that they have better grades than the
average in the south part of the county.

There is no railroad in the township, and
the nearest railroad station is at Cambridge, in



Crawford county, where most of the freight
to and from Edinboro is received and shipped.


The village of McLane lies upon the Erie
and Edinboro plank road, at the crossing of
the State road, on the summit between the
head-waters of Conneauttee creek and the
South branch of Elk creek, fourteen miles south
of Erie and six miles north of Edinboro. The
name was changed from Compton's Corners
to McLane, in honor of Gen. John W. Mc-
Lane, the gallant iirst colonel of the Eighty-
third Regiment. There is a union cemetery at
the village.

The Baptist congregation at McLane, until
the erection of their church edifice, held
services in McKean township. The organi-
zation was effected during the winter of
1838-9. Services were held in the South Hill
and Branchvilleschoolhouses until 1860, when
the church building at McLane was erected.
It was dedicated January 28, 1867.

The Methodist Episcopal society at Mc-
Lane was organized in 1863. The church
building was erected in 1867.

McLallen's Corners (named from Wm.
McLallen, who located there at an early day)
is on the Little Conneauttee, at the crossing-
of the Waterford and Drake's Mills plank
road by a road leading to Pollock's bridge in
LeBoeuf township.

The Christian church at McLallen's Corners
was organized in the spring of 1828, holding
services in the schoolhouse. A church build-
ing was put up some forty-five years ago, and
overhauled and enlarged in 1893.

About a mile northwest of McLallen's
Corners a religious body calling themselves
"The Saints" hold services in a building
erected during the summer of 1894. They
are opposed to the regular church organiza-
tions and to secret societies.

Draketown (called after the Drake family
in the vicinity), is on Little Conneauttee
creek, about two-thirds of a mile south of the
State road.

The Christian Church at this place was
organized in January, 1877. and erected a
building about the same time.

There is a Methodist building at Ash's
Corners, north of Draketown, and another of
the same denomination at Sherrod Hill, in the
southwestern part of the township. The

building at Ash's Corners was erected in
1867. An old society had previously existed
in the locality and met for worship in various
schoolhouses. The congregation at Sherrod
Hill own a frame building.

The cemetery at Edinboro is the general
burial ground of the township, but a number
of graveyards are scattered about the country.
The most prominent are those at McLane and


The first school in the township was on the
west side of Conneauttee creek in what was
known as the old Plank About
1819, school was taught in a room in Isaac
Taylor's cabin, located one and a half miles
southeast of Edinboro. Soon after, a log
schoolhouse was built on the east line of Mr.

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 60 of 192)