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Clearfield County

History of Clearfield County

by

Lewis Cass Aldrich

published 1887

 

Chapter 44

 

Copyright

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HIST0RY
OF
CLEARFIELD COUNTY
PENNSYLVANIA

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES
OF SOME OF ITS PROMINENT MEN AND PIONEERS

EDITED BY
LEWIS CASS ALDRICH

SYRACUSE, N. Y.
D. MASON & CO., PUBLISHERS
1887

 

 Chapter 44

Pages

586

587

588

589

590

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Page 586

HISTORY OF CLEARFIELD COUNTY.

 

CHAPTER XLIV.

HISTORY OF KNOX TOWNSHIP.

 

     THE first proceedings toward the organization of Knox as a separate and distinct township, were had in the year 1853, upon the presentation of a petition to the September Sessions of that year, asking for a new formation out of parts of Jordan, Pike, and Ferguson townships. For this purpose the court appointed Henry Wright, Abraham Bloom and Daniel Robbins, commissioners, to view and determine and run the lines agreeably to the prayer of the petitioners.

 

     At a term of court held in May, 1854, the commissioners reported the following boundaries for the new township. Beginning at the southwest corner of Philip Klonager's, where John McManary now (1854) lives, thence north fifty degrees east about one mile to Little Clearfield Creek ; thence down said creek about six miles to the southwest corner of Nancy Boggs's tract ; thence along the line between said tract and Isabella Jordan's to the Donald tract ; thence along said tract to the Daniel Turner tract ; thence along that tract to Clearfield Creek ; thence up said creek about eight miles to a well known ash corner ; thence north forty degrees west one mile to the southwest corner of the George Ashton tract ; thence south eighty degrees west one and one-half miles to the southwest corner of John Dorsey's tract ; thence north forty degrees west along six tracts six miles to the place of beginning, the Philip Klonager tract, to be called Knox township.

 

     On the 19th day of May, 1854, this report was confirmed absolutely, and the " Turkey Hill " school-house fixed as the place for holding elections. Isaac Thompson was appointed judge of election, and Amos Read and Thomas McKee were appointed inspectors.

 

     The new township was ordered to be called " Knox," in honor of the late president of the court. The first settlement in the township, and one of the first in the county, was made by James Rea, in 1806. He came here from Huntingdon county and located where Robert C. Hunter now lives. At that

 

 

 

 

Page 587

KNOX TOWNSHIP.

 

time it was almost impossible to keep some of the domestic animals, especially sheep, on account of the wolves and bears that prowled about the settlers' shanty in great numbers.

 

     The nearest grist-mill at that time was between Tyrone and Birmingham. Some time after a mill was erected at Moose Creek, and thither Mr. Rea transported his grist on the back of an ox.

 

     In a short time James Hegarty, who was murdered soon after near where William H. Smith now lives, settled what is now the William Witherow farm. Thomas McKee improved the land now owned by Robert Witherow's heirs, and Thomas Jordan located where Thomas Witherow now lives. John Carson, also one of the first settlers, procured the premises made vacant by the death of James Hegarty.

 

     In 1824, Peter Erhard, who lived by the Susquehanna River, near Curwensville, was drowned while crossing the river on horseback. About six or eight years previous to this time he had located some land in what is now Knox township, part of which is now owned by his grandson Enoch. By the aid of his four sons this land was improved, and shortly after the death of the father the sons moved to this land, and in connection with it bought the tract upon which the village of New Millport is situated. The three eldest sons, Christian, David, and Philip, were interested in the latter purchase, and soon erected a saw-mill, probably the first improvement on Little Clearfield Creek. It was built a few feet above where the iron bridge is now located. (The abutments of this bridge were built by Knox and Ferguson townships, and the iron put on by the county commissioners in 1884 at a cost of twenty-five hundred dollars.) This first mill was built sometime between 1820 and 1825, and after it had served its purpose and time, another was built near where the grist­mill now stands. This was soon followed by the grist-mill which is yet standing in a fair state of preservation. It has been the central point for custom work for miles around, and is still doing a good trade.

 

     Saw-mills did not pay the operators in that early day, for although surrounded by thousands of acres of immense pine forests, the facilities for transportation were so poor and the demand so limited, that lumber was scarce worth the cutting, and millions of feet that would now be worth forty to sixty dollars per thousand feet, was rolled into heaps and burned.

 

     George, a younger son of Peter Erhard, is still living, in his eighty-fourth year ; he improved the farm upon which his son David now lives; was county commissioner from 1857 to 1860.

 

     New Millport—The only village in the township is situated on the banks of Little Clearfield Creek. The first dwelling-house in the village was built by David Erhard, sr., about 1834, near the mill-race on the lot now occupied by D. W. Cathcart's stable. It has been a town of slow growth, but the building of the Beech Creek Railroad through it in 1885, gave it a new impetus; the old

 
 

 

 

Page 588

HISTORY OF CLEARFIELD COUNTY.

 

houses were repaired, and new ones built, until its appearance has so changed, that a resident of former years would not know the place. Quite a number of houses have been built on the Ferguson township side of the creek.

 

     The first industries being mills, suggested the name—Millport, and the word New, was added when the post-office was established here, to distinguish it from Millport, in Potter county, Pa. The first postmaster was D. E. Mokel, appointed in 1855 or 1856, and succeeded in 1861, by Martin 0. Stirk. H. J. Sloppy was appointed in May, 1867, and held the office until 1876, when John Fox was appointed. He resigned in 1879, and was succeeded by M. R. Lewis, who kept the office about one year, when he recommended George C. Arnold for the place, and he was appointed. A short time before his death he resigned, and Elmer E. Fink was appointed and took charge of the office July 1, 1883, and in April, 1886, Philip Erhard, the present incumbent was appointed. In January, 1887, the office was burned with all its equipments. The first store in the place was kept by W. G. Butler, in a small shop about 12 by 18. In 1853 William H. Smith and John S. Williams, formed a partnership, purchased Mr. Butler's stock, and erected the house now used as a dwelling-house by Joseph Erhard. They kept store two or three years, when they purchased the farms upon which they now live. In 1856 M. 0. Stirk came here from Lancaster county, Pa. He dealt largely in timber and real estate, bought the grist-mill and land connected therewith, erected a store-room, and drove a thriving business. He married Mary Ellen, daughter of Dr. John P. Hoyt, of Ferguson township. In 1866 he sold out and returned to his former home. He was succeeded in the mercantile business by William Wise, sr., and John Fox, who carried on business a short time when the firm name was changed to William Wise & Son. They were succeeded in 1870 by David and Joseph Erhard, who about two years after built the room opposite the M. E. Church, and which was burned to the ground on the 22d day of January, 1887, being then occupied by P. and A. T. Erhard, as a general store.

 

     In the fall of 1883, A. Judson Smith built the large two-story building corner of Main and Bridge streets. It is now occupied by him as a general store, and the only one at present in the village. In the spring of 1879 Philip Renard purchased the grist-mill and grounds from John Fox. He then erected a saw-mill to run by steam-power, and built a large dam to furnish better and more power for the grist-mill. In 1885 the saw-mill was rented by J. W. Jones & Co., of Philipsburg, Pa. They are now operating it in connection with a lath and shingle-mill. During the summer of 1885, a large brewery with a capacity of twenty barrels per day, was erected by D. W. Cathcart & Co. It was of short duration, however, for the next year the incendiary applied his torch, and it went up in smoke. A railroad station and telegraph office was established here in January, 1886, and preparations are now being made for a telephone. The first and only physician in the town is Dr. W. C. Park, who

 

 

 

 

Page 589

KNOX TOWNSHIP.

 

came here from Armstrong county in 1883, and established himself, and is enjoying a large and remunerative practice.

 

     The first school-house in the township was located across the run from where David Erhard now lives. It was built about 1842. The first teacher was Benjamin Roberts, who afterwards became a citizen of the township, and improved the farm now owned by Robert Patterson. The township now contains six schools divided into districts as follows : New Millport, May Hill, Turkey Hill, Cove Run, Pleasant Ridge and Oak Ridge, paying salaries to teachers ranging from twenty-eight to thirty-two dollars per month. Conrad Baker is the president of the board of directors, and A. J. Smith secretary. The other members are J. P. Owens, William Cox, D. G. Bauman and Martin Bloom.

 

     The bituminous coal in the township is not yet developed, except by a few banks for home consumption, by John Fox, David Erhard, William Joy, William McDonald, R. D. Fink, S. C. Snyder and Peter Mays. The C. B. C. Company are now in possession of a good share of the coal land in the township. The first voting place for what is now Knox township, was about two and one-half miles above Glen Hope, near where Fred Shoff lives. It was afterward moved to Glen Hope, near to Dr. Caldwell's farm. Next it was moved to Ansonville, and then after Knox township was erected, to Turkey Hill, where the voters now depost their ballots.

 

     Methodist Episcopal Church.—There are two churches in the township, both Methodist Episcopal. The New Millport M. E. Church was organized, as near as we can learn, about 1845. Meetings were held in the woods, and in Wiley's school-house, and afterwards in the little church on the hill, mentioned in connection with the history of the Lutheran denomination, until 1852, when we find by the records, that on June 29th of that year, David and Christian Erhard deeded to Robert Thompson, sr., Richard Curry, Simon Thompson, George W. Curry and George Galer, trustees, a certain lot in the village of New Millport, for "thirty dollars in specie." Witnesses, W. G. Butler, John Arnold and John Miles, sr., and acknowledged before Isaac Thompson, J. P. Upon this lot a church was built the same year. It was considered a good house at that time, and served its purpose well until the summer of 1884, when it was replaced with the neat and handsome edifice that now adorns the spot, at a cost of twenty-three hundred dollars. The new house was dedicated September 21 , by E. J. Gray, D. D., president of Williamsport Dickinson Seminary, assisted by Rev. E. Shoemaker, the pastor, and Revs. Samuel Miles, of the Baptist Church, and W. F. D. Noble, a former pastor. The records, giving the names of members in the first organization are lost, but of the number were Richard Curry, who was the first class-leader, Robert Thompson, sr., Catharine Thompson, George Galer, Simon Thompson, Samuel Orr, Isaac Thompson and George W. Curry. The following ministers with some others

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Page 590

HISTORY OF CLEARFIELD COUNTY.

 

whose names we could not get, have served this church. Revs. Timothy Lee, Linthecum, Gideon H. Day, Joseph Ross, Stauber, Scott, D. Hartman, George Berkstresser, George Guyer, Alem Brittain, J. A. Hunter, Watson, Joseph Lee, Hugh Linn, Gau, H. S. Mendenhall, W. A. Houck, J. W. Buckley, Joseph Gray, J. B. Moore, W. R. Whitney, R. H. Colburn, M. L. Ganoe, W. S. Hamlin, R. H. Wharton, Furman Adams, Isaiah Edwards, S. Stone, W. F. D. Noble, E. W. Wonner, H. A. Minnigh and Bruce Hughes. The two last named are the present pastors. When first organized this appointment belonged to New Washington circuit, until after the division of that circuit, when it was a part of Glen Hope circuit. In 1870 Lumber City circuit was formed from a part of Glen Hope circuit, and New Millport was then a part of Lumber City circuit. The latter will soon be divided again, and New Millport circuit formed. The society at present numbers thirty members. William H. Smith, the present class-leader, has filled that position (with a slight intermission), for about twenty-seven years. The present board of trustees are W. H. Smith, T. S. Norris, A. J. Smith, J. M. Strunk and E. E. Fink. A. J. Smith is steward and district-steward. For several years all denominations attended the union Sunday-school until 1860, when the Methodist Episcopal school was organized. The movement was opposed by some of the members who were loath to leave the old school, and thus it did not start out under the most favorable auspices, but it finally overcame these difficulties, and is now doing good work and has seventy-five members. A. J. Smith is superintendent.

 

     Mount Zion M. E. Church.—In the spring of 1870 Rev. M. L. Ganoe now presiding elder of Danville district was appointed to Lumber City circuit and at once took up an appoinment [sic] at Turkey Hill. He gathered the few scattered Methodists together in June of that year and formed a class with H. B. Shugarts as leader of the following members : H. F. Rowles and wife, Price A. Rowles and wife, Andrew Kline, James L. McCullough and wife, and Benjamin Bloom and wife and daughters Emeline and Fanny. Meetings were held in the school-house and in the adjoining grove until 1874; during the pastorate of Rev. R. H. Wharton the present house of worship was erected at a cost of two thousand dollars, and was dedicated in the fall by Rev. James Curns. The society has prospered and greatly increased its numbers. Pastors were L. M. Ganoe, W. S. Hamlin, R. H. Wharton, Furman Adams, Isaiah Edward, S. Stone, W. F. D. Noble, E. Shoemaker, Emanuel W. Wonner. The present pastors are H. N. Minnigh and Bruce Hughes.

 

 

 

 

   

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