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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 63 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 63 of 192)
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William Miles. Wayne was set off from Con-
cord in 1826, and was named after Gen. An-
thony Wayne, the Revolutionary hero. The
township of Brokenstraw (of which Wayne
formed a part) constituted with Union one
election district until 1821.

Wayne is bounded on the north by Chau-
tauqua county. New York, on the east by
Columbus township, Warren county, on the
south by Corry city and Concord township,
and on the west by Amity and Union. It has
been twice reduced in size, first in 1803 by
the creation of Corry as a borough, and second
in 1866 by the act elevating that place to the
dignity of a city. The charters of Corry took
off a strip about one mile wide by two and a
quarter long, from the southeastern corner,
but what the township lost in territory has
been more than made up in the increased value
given to the balance by the growth of the city.
The south line of the township is nearly uni-
form with the straight portion of Smith street
in Corry. Wayne has an average width of
about six miles, and a length of about eight,
with a regular line on the north side, two
slight jogs on the east and west, and more
considerable ones on the Concord and Corry

The boundary between Pennsylvania and
New York, which forms the north line of the
township, was established by Commissioners
on the part of the two States in 1785, who
completed their work in 1787. They surveyed
the entire boundary between the Delaware
river and Lake Erie, marking each mile with
stones on which figures were cut, showing the
distance from the first named stream.

Wayne township contained a population

of 197 in 1830, 738 in 1840, 1,122 in 1850,
1,224 ni 1860, 1,295 in 1870, 1,306 in 1880 and
1,124 in 1890. The postoffices are Ovid
(formerly known as Beaver Dam), Katan
(formerly known as Carter Hill) and Whee-
lock, in the northeast part of the township. A
large portion of the mail matter for the town-
ship is handled through the Corry postofRce.
Before Corry grew to importance, Beaver Dam
and Columbus, Warren county, were the tra-
ding places of the township.


Generally speaking, Wayne is a hilly town-
ship, but it contains some handsome valleys
along the South branch of French creek and
Hare creek, and Scioto, Beaver Dam and
Spencer runs. The hills attain an elevation
of 200 to 400 feet above the French creek val-
ley, and are cut by deep ravines especially in
the southern portion, which, however, have
generally sloping sides, admitting of easy cul-
tivation. The summits of the ridges are irregu-
lar, but there is little waste land in the town-
ship. The character of the soil adapts it best
for grazing, and butter-making and cattle-rais-
ing are the staple industries. The principal
timber is beech, maple and hemlock, though
considerable tracts of pine, oak and chestnut
once existed in the southern part of the town-
ship. The price of farming land ranges from
fifteen to sixty dollars per acre.

The streams are Brokenstraw creek, with
its tributary. Hare creek ; Bear creek, Francis
run and Scioto run, blanches of the latter;
and Spencer run, Baskin run. Slaughter run,
Beaver Dam run and Spring brook, tributaries
of the South branch of French creek. The
Brokenstraw heads in Clymer township, Chau-
tauqua county, New York, runs through the
northeast corner of Wayne township into
Warren county, and joins the Allegheny river
at Irvineton, after a course of fifty to sixty
miles, only a small part of which is in Erie



county. Hare creek (named after Michael
Hare, the oldest man that ever lived in Erie
county and one of the pioneers in the town-
ship) rises in French Creek township, Chau-
tauqua county, New York, flows across the
entire width of Wayne township, and empties
into the Brokenstraw in Columbus township,
Warren county, about three miles east of
Corry. It runs through the latter city for a
short distance, and has a length of about fifteen
miles. Bear creek falls into Hare creek with-
in the limits of Corry, and Scioto run north of
that city. Each stream has a length of per-
haps five miles. Francis run rises about three
miles northwest of Corry, and empties into
Bear creek within the city limits, after a course
of about three miles. Spencer run heads near
Carter Hill, Baskin run near the New York
line. Slaughter run in the northwest corner of
the township, and Beaver Dam run in the
southeast part of Amity, all uniting with the
South branch in Concord, the first named a
little west of Corry, the second at Lovell's sta-
tion, the third about a mile above Elgin, and
the fourth within that borough. The length
of each of these streams is from seven to nine
miles. Spring brook is a sparkling stream
formed by a number of springs that burst out
of the hillsides at the State Fish Hatching
establishment, a short distance west of Corry,
near the line of Concord and Wayne. It
unites with the South branch after a course of
probably half a mile. Two or three large beaver
dams existed in early days a mile or so north
of Elgin, which gave name to Beaver Dam


Beaver Dam (known as Ovid postofHce)
is situated near the extreme southeastern cor-
ner of the township, on the run of the same
name, at the junction of the Erie and Warren
with the Wattsburg and Spartansburg roads,
one and a half miles north of Elgin, six west
of Corry, twenty-six by common road south-
east of Erie, and thirty-four by the Philadel-
phia and Erie R. R. " The valley of Beaver
Dam run at this point is broad and beautiful,
making one of the finest stretches of country
in Erie county. The village is supposed to
owe its origin to John Bunker, who started a
store and ashery at the cross-roads at an early
day. This was followed by another store by

Mr. Foote, and the place about 1840, boasted,
in addition, two taverns, one kept by Mr.
Crook and the other by Mr. Ellis. The stages
between Erie and Warren and Jamestown ran
through the village daily. The building of
the Philadelphia and Erie R. R., and the
growth of Corry and Union, had the effect of
drawing all of the travel and most of the trade
from Beaver Dam ; the taverns were aban-
doned, and only one store is left. The village
consists at present, besides the store, of one
blacksmith shop, a cheese factory (opened in
the spring of 1866), two church buildings,
and some twenty or twenty-five residences.
The village cemetery contains some handsome

An Associated Reformed congregation
was organized at Beaver Dam about 1820, but
was soon merged into the Presbyterian con-
gregation. The latter erected a building in
1830 on the cemetery site, which was super-
seded by a new one in 1867. The congrega-
tion broke up some years ago ; the building
was moved to Elgin and is now used by the

The United Presbyterian congregation was
started in 1859, and put up a building in 1872.
This edifice was injured by lightning, was
never repaired and is not now in use.

The Methodist Episcopal society was for-
mally organized in 1838, though services of
the denomination had been held since 1832.
A church was erected in 1839, and the present
building in 1872.

A short distance north of Beaver Dam is
" The Wayne Valley Church of United Breth-
ren," organized in 1830. Their building was
erected the same year.

A sawmill is in operation about half a
mile from the village.

The earliest inhabitants at Beaver Dam
were Samuel Smith and William Gray. The
latter subsequently removed to Waterford. In
the old Abolition times, the village was an im-
portant station of the " underground railroad."
Mrs. Elizabeth Smith died at the residence of
her son-in-law, James D. Smith, in Beaver
Dam, on the 6th of August, 1875, in the 99th
year of her age, being one of the oldest women
known to have lived within the county. She
emigrated to this country from the north of
Ireland with her father, John Wilson, and
sister, in 1798, the party settling in what is now
Union township. In 1799, she was married


to William Smith, of Wayne, their wedding
being the first in the county south of the Tri-
angle. About 181G, they removed to Water-
ford, where Mr. Smith died in 1855, after
which she made her home as above. Mrs.
Smith was the mother of tliree sons and eight

A temperance society was formed at
Beaver Dam as early as 1832. No drinking
place has been maintained in Wayne town-
ship, except in 1840, when one of the hotels
of the village received a license.

Carter Hill (Katan postoflice) consists of
a schoolhouse, a M. E. church, a butter fac-
tory and several farm houses, in the northern
central part of the township. It derives its
name from Elijah Carter, who moved there
from Greenfield when the country was still a
wilderness. The butter factory was started
many years ago as a cheese factory, and con-
tinued as such until the latter business proved
unprofitable. The postoffice was known as
Carter Hill until it was abandoned in 1883,
and has only recently been revived, under the
name given above. A Methodist Episcopal
society has been in existence some sixty years.
The church building was put up in the fall of

Hare creek, four miles north of Corry,
consists of a public hall, a Christian church,
a sawmill, a schoolhouse, and a few residences.
The religious societ}' was established before
1880, and dedicated its building the latter year.
The Dutton graveyard is near the church.

The first school instruction in Wayne was
given by Mrs Elizabeth Smith, wife of the
pioneer William Smith. She taught her own
and a few of her neighbors' children for sev-
eral years, commencing about 1808. A pri-
vate school was held for a term or two about
1822, near Beaver Dam, and the earliest
schoolhouse in the township was built at the
latter place several years later.


The only railroad is the Western New
York and Pennsylvania, better known as the
" Cross-cut," which runs wholly across the
township from Corry to Brocton, N. Y.

The main common roads are the Erie,
Waterford and Sugar Grove turnpike, which
passes through Corry, Beaver Dam and
Union ; the Erie and Warren road, which

runs through Carter Hill and Wattsburg ; the
Corry and French creek, N. Y., up Hare
creek ; and the Corry and Clymer, up Scioto

The township owns two good bridges, one
across the Brokenstraw, in the northeast, and
one across Hare creek, just outside the city-
limits of Corry. All the rest are ordinary

The graveyards not previously named are
the old Smith, near the Spencer farm, and
the Jewish cemetery of Corry, on the Corry
road near the north line of the city. Most
of the burials take place in the cemeteries at
Corry and Beaver Dam.


The most important establishment in the
township is the Western Fish Hatchery of the
State of Pennsylvania, on the Elgin road, in
the valley of the South branch of French creek,
about a mile west of Corry. At this point a
number of springs burst out of the hillside,
furnishing a regular supply of cold, pure and
healthy water. Several thousand fish of vari-
ous kinds and sizes may be seen at all times,
swimming about in the little ponds and lakes.
The eggs are hatched under the care of the
superintendent, and when the young fish at-
tain -a proper size they are sent to different
parts of the State and put in streams to which
they are adapted. The premises consist of
nine and a half acres of land, embracing most
or all of the springs, a dwelling house, a com-
plete modern hatchery, and various troughs,
etc., specially adapted for the purpose.

The hatchery was started as a private en-
terprise, in the fall of 1873, by Seth Weeks,
the noted fish culturist, who purchased the
property. He built a house on the premises
and moved into it in the spring of 1874. In
1875 a bill was passed by the Legislature,
through the efforts of Hon. W. W. Brown, of
Corry, to establish a Western Fish Hatchery.
The State Commissioners were prompt to see
the advantages of Mr. Week's site, and bought
the property in 1876. Mr. Weeks was ap-
pointed Superintendent and remained in that
position until January, 1885, when he was
succeeded by William Buller, the present in-
cumbent. The hatchery is justly regarded as
one of the most eligible sites and practical es-
tablishments of the kind in the Union.




A little north of east of the hatchery, on a
slight hill, the early settlers found traces of
one of those pre-historic mounds, reference to
which has been made in other township
sketches. It has been plowed down, and no
sign of it is any longer apparent. About half
a mile west, on the right hand side of the road
from Corry, is another, the outlines of which
can be readily followed. It consists of a cir-
cular embankment, with a trench on the out-
side, from which the dirt was evidently dug,
and embraces about three acres, being some-
thing like a third larger than the easterly one.

William Smith, who emigrated from the
North of Ireland, is generally understood to
have been the first settler in the township, but
this statement is denied by an old resident,
who says the earliest white inhabitants were
Messrs. Hare, Rihue and Call. The first men-
tioned of these was Michael Hare, who died
in Waterford at the age of 115 years, 8 months
and 22 days, and was buried in the cemetery
at that place. He and his wife lived in a cabin
on the east side of Hare creek, about a mile
north of Corry. Hare, Rihue and Call left
before the country was cleared up, the former
making his home finally at Waterford. [See
Waterford.] Call's location was on the farm
owned by Amos Heath, and Rihue's where
Major Stanford has his brickyard in Corry.
During 1797, a man by the name of Prosser
went in. Joseph Hall settled at Beaver Dam,
in the same year, but afterward changed to
Elgin. The settlers in 1798 were William
and Samuel Smith and Daniel Findley ; in
1800, William Carson and John Kincaide,
with his five sons, several of whom were
grown; in 1806, William Gray, who changed
to Waterford ; in 1817, Joseph Grant (a na-
tive of New London, Conn.), who moved to
Wesleyville late in life ; from 1820 to 1824,
Daniel Yeager and Messrs. Perkins, Childs
and Doud. The Messrs. Smith were followed
at an early date by their brothers, James and
Robert. Samuel located originally opposite
the Perkins' place, James in the valley of the
South branch, near the fish establishment, and
Robert on the hill near the Abbey place. John
Heath, father of Amos, purchased the Spen-
cer place, in 1827 or 1828, when Amos was a

boy of four or five. A Mr. Miller had previ-
ously lived on the farm and built a sawmill on
the run farther up, which was the first in the
township. Matthias Spencer moved to what
is known as the Spencer place in March, 1831.
He was born in East Haddam, Conn., changed
from there to Columbus, Warren county, and
then to Wayne township. In 1865, he went
to Erie to live with his son. Dr. H. A. Spen-
cer, where he remained until his death. Isaac
Kennedy, father of D. C, settled on the farm
where his son resided for many years, in 1884.
Chauncey G. Rickerson, a native of Wind-
ham, Conn., moved into the township in 1835.
Robert Osborne, from Beaver county, located
on the Miller farm in 1839. D. W. Howard
made his location in 1840, and Philander
Miller about the same time. The township did
not fill up rapidly until after 1830. John
W. Smith, son of William, was the first white
child born in the township, the year of his
birth being 1800. Joseph Grant commenced
in the valley of Beaver Dam run, near the
United Brethren church, where his son, Ben-
jamin, the famous Erie lawyer, was born in a
log house.


The citizens of Wayne township who
have been honored by election to State and
county offices are few in number, as will be
seen by the following list : Director of the
Poor, John G. Kincaide, 1876 to 1879.
County Commissioner, L. M. Childs, 1865 to
1871. Assembl)', Samuel E. Kincaide, in
1876 and 1878, for two years each time. Jury
Commissioner, O. S. Follett, elected in 1894.
Amos Heath, Dr. Osborne and D. W. How-
ard have been frequently nominated by the
Democrats for county positions, and D. C.
Kennedy has been prominent in political and
grange circles. Four of the sons of Matthias
Spencer became professional men, viz. : Two
physicians. Dr. H. A. Spencer, of Erie, and
Dr. E. V. Spencer, of Mt. Vernon. Ind. ; and
two attorneys, John W. Spencer, of Rising
Sun, Ind., and Elijah M. Spencer, of Mt.
Vernon, Ind. Both of the latter were mem-
bers of the Indiana Legislature, and John W.
was a Judge at the time of his death.


The most eminent name associated with
the history of Wayne township is that of Hor-



ace Greeley, the great editor and politician.
Zaccheus Greeley, the father of Horace, com-
menced life as a farmer on a small scale in
Vermont. Becoming embarrassed, his farm
was sold by the Sheriff, and he worked for a
time as a laborer in New Hampshire. In the
year 1825, having saved a small sum of money,
he started to search out a home in the wilds of
Pennsylvania, making his way to Wayne
township, near the New York line, where his
brothers, Benjamin and Leonard, had gone
some two years before. He there purchased
200 acres of land, to which he afterward added
150 acres more. Returning to New Hamp-
shire, he brought his family on in 1826, the
party consisting, besides Mr. and Mrs.
Greeley, of Barnes, their eldest son, and
three daughters. Horace, who had appren-
ticed himself in a printing office in Poultney,
Vt., did not accompany the familj', although
pressed to do so. During the ensuing four
years, he visited them twice in their wilder-
ness home, walking most of the way, and re-
maining about a month each time. In 1830,
he came on again, and after remaining awhile,

found employment for a short period at James-
town, and, later, in the Gazette office at Erie.
Some time during the summer of 1881 he left
Erie, called to see his parents in Wayne for a
few days, and then started on foot for New
York, where he arrived on the 17th of August,
with exactly ten dollars in his pocket. Years
after, when he had made a reputation through
the Nnu Yorker, he again paid a visit to the
township, remaining for a brief period only.
Zaccheus Greeley and Mary, his wife, both
lived the balance of their years on the farm in
Wayne and were buried near by. Mrs.
Greeley's death occurred about 1854. The
father died in 1867, at the age of 87.
Horace Greeley was born on the 3d of Feb
ruary, 1811, in Amherst, Vt., and died in
Pleasantville, N. Y., November 29, 1872. He
was the Liberal and Democratic nominee for
President in 1872. Barnes Greeley remained
on the homestead farm, where he died on
the 11th of December, 1894, at the age of 82
two. He had some of the traits of his dis-
tinguished brother, but lacked ambition and



See General and Alphabetical Indexes.

Also, Map of Erie County.

Also, Mill Creek, Wayne and Concord Township


ERIE Pag-e 387 to Page 534

CORRY Page 535 to Page 540



Founding of the Town — The Early Settlers — Population at Various Periods.
—[See Chapters VH, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, General History of Erie County.]

THE act of April 8, 1792, for laying
out the town of Presque Isle, as Erie
was then known, read as follows :
" Section 1. Be it enacted, etc.:
That the Governor be and is hereby
empowered to cause to be surveyed the tract
reserved at or near Presque Isle by the act
entitled, 'An act for the sale of the vacant
lands within this Commonwealth,' passed the
3d day of April, 1792 ; and at the most eligi-
ble place within the said tract he shall cause
to be laid out and surveyed 1,600 acres of land
in town lots of not more than one-third of an
acre each ; and also 3,400 acres adjoining the
same, in outlots, not less than five acres nor
more than ten acres each. Provided ahvays,
That the Governor shall reserve out of the lots
of the said town so much land as he shall
deem necessary for public uses ; also, so much
land, within or out of the said town as may,
in his opinion, be wanted b}' the United States
for the purpose of erecting forts, magazines,
arsenals and dock yards.

" Sec. 2. That the first 200 persons that
shall actually inhabit and reside, on or before
the 1st day of January next, within the said
town, shall each and every one of them be en-
titled to one unappropriated town lot, to be
ascertained by lottery, for which they shall
respectively receive a deed, clear of all
charges. Provided, That such persons re-
spectively, or their respective representatives,
or assignees, shall inhabit and reside in the said
town for a term of three years, and also,
within the said town build or cause to be
built a house at least sixteen feet square, and
containing at least one brick or stone chimney,
on the town lots to be granted in pursuance of
this act.

" Sec. 3. That the Governor is hereby
authorized to sell 200 of the town lots, exclu-
sive of those granted by the next preceding
section, and the whole of the other outlots
in such a manner as he shall think most to
the advantage of the State, and make convej'-
ance of the same; excepting, always, such as
shall be made upon this condition : that the
respective purchasers shall and do, within the
term of three years, erect and build one house,
at least sixteen feet square, and containing at
least one brick or stone chimney, on each and
every town lot by them purchased, and no
deed of conveyance shall be granted by the
Governor to any purchaser, nor, after the ex-
piration of the said term of three years, shall
the said sale be deemed or construed to vest
any title, claim or demand in any purchaser,
unless satisfactory proof be first given that a
house has been erected or built on the town
lots sold as aforesaid ; that the streets, lanes,
and alleys of the said town shall be common
highways forever, and that, previous to the
sale or sales of the said town lots and outlots,
notice shall be given of the same in at least
three of the newspapers of the State at least
ten weeks previous to such sale or sales."

In February, 1794, the State provided for a
detachment of soldiers to protect the settle-
ment of Presque Isle. Through the dupli-
city of the English, who still coveted the
post, the Indians were stirred up into oppo-
sing the establishment of a garrison by the
Americans. For prudential reasons, which
are explained in the General History of thc
county, operations were for the time suspend-
ed. The victories of Wayne inspired such a
wholesome terror among the Indians that it
hastened the treaties of 1795, through which


all opposition to the settlement of Presque Isle
was swept away, and the title of Pennsylvania
unreservedly acknowledged by the red men.


On the 18th of April, 1795, the General
Assembly passed an act somewhat differing
from that of 1792, and repealing the latter.
The Governor was authorized to appoint two
Commissioners, who were instructed to survey
1,600 acres of land for town lots, and 3,400
acres adjoining for oiitlots, " at or near
Presque Isle, on Lake Erie," " the said lands
" so surveyed to he respectively laid out into
" town lots and outlets, in such manner and
" with such streets, not more than 100 nor
" less than sixty feet wide, and such lanes,
" alleys and reservations for public uses as the
"said Commissioners shall direct; but no
" town lots shall contain more than one-third
" of an acre, no outlots more than five acres,
" nor shall the reservations for public uses ex-
" ceed in the whole twenty acres ; and the
" town hereby directed to be laid out shall be
"called ' Erie,' and all the streets, lanes and
" alleys thereof, and the adjoining outlots
" shall be and forever remain common high-
" ways." The Commissioners were author-
ized to sell one third of said town lots and out-
lots to the highest bidders, the purchasers to
erect on each town lot, within two years from
the date of purchase, a house sixteen feet
square, containing one stone or brick chimney.
Half of the purchase money of each lot had to
be paid within three months from the date of

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 63 of 192)