History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania, 1770 - 1877, by S.W. and P.A. Durant.
[p. 11] The history of the movement having for its object the erection of a new county from portions of Mercer, Beaver and Butler counties, is a very interesting one. The subject began to be agitated as early as 1820, and was persistently continued, through many failures and disappointments, until the spring of 1849 saw the effort crowned with success. The people within the limits of the proposed new county had many valid reasons for the movement. The town of New Castle was a growing place, finely located for business, and a point where numerous roads converged from all parts of the surrounding country. The line between Beaver and Mercer counties passed through the borough of New Castle, cutting it in twain, and compelling its inhabitants to attend the two widely separated capitals of Beaver and Mercer counties, in the transaction of all their legal business. Any process issued in either county against parties living in New Castle, could be readily avoided by stepping across the county line. New Castle was centrally and conveniently located for the business of the region proposed to be formed into a new county, and, in the nature of things, must sooner or later become a large and flourishing town. Prominent among those who advocated the division, were Hon. L. L. McGuffin, Wm. Dickson, Wm. Moore, John L. Warnock, Joseph T. Boyd, James Dickson, Isaac Dickson, Thomas Falls, Joseph Kissick, John N. Euwer, Dr. Charles T. Whippo, James Cubbison, and many others, inhabitants both of the borough and the surrounding country. A thorough organization was effected, and year after year saw petitions presented to the Legislature, which as often resulted only in disappointment.
The opponents of the scheme were equally untiring in their determination defeat the project. They urged, also, two very good reasons against it: First, that the counties out of which it was proposed to erect the new one, were small enough already; and, Secondly, and by far the most important objection from a partizan standpoint, the two counties of Mercer and Beaver were strong Whig counties, and the townships to be included in the new county were the strongest Whig townships. By taking them out, both the before-mentioned counties would become Democratic. In other words, the Whigs would gain one county and lose two by the operation. Consequently, the Whigs were opposed to the project from political considerations, and the Democrats in favor of it for the same reasons. This state of things was afterwards turned to good account by the friends of the measure. Matters continued in statu quo until about 1840, when the advocates of the division opted a new line of policy, and began making friends of the Democratic party. Party lines were ignored, and "protective tariffs" and "State rights" forgotten in discussing the all-absorbing topic. By indefatigable exertions, the friends of the measure at length succeeded in electing their canidates to the Legislature, but only to be again disappointed by their proving recreant to the interests committed to them. But the people would not give up the matter; they adopted the well-known motto of the gallant Lawrence when going into his last battle with the British frigate Shannon, "Don't give up the ship!" and proposed to fight on until success crowned their efforts, and name their county in honor of the heroic Commodore--Lawrence.
In the Fall of 1847 they succeeded in electing David Sankey to the State Senate, and at the next election for members of the House they elected three out of the four representatives which Mercer and Beaver counties were then entitled to. For Mercer county, David M. Courtney and Joseph Emery were elected, and for Beaver county, John Sharp, of Slippery Rock, and Dr. William Smith, who lived on the south side of the Ohio river. This last member was of course hostile to the movement. The friends of the new county now rallied all their forces, and put forth their utmost strength. Numerously-signed petitions were forwarded, and able men were chosen and sent to Harrisburg to look after them, and urge them to a successful hearing.
Among those who attended the session of the Legislature was Major E. Sankey, who remained at his post until a bill granting their petition was passed.
The bill for the division was introduced in the House of Representatives early in the session, but no action was taken upon it until the month of March, 1849, when it was passed by a two-thirds vote. It passed the Senate a few days later by a vote of twenty-two to eight, and was signed by Governor Wm. F. Johnston, on the 5th day of April, 1849.*
*See Session Laws of 1849.
The influence of Senator David Sankey and his co-workers in the House, David M. Courtney, Joseph Emery and John Sharp, was very effectual in procuring the passage of the act. By the act the new county was to be called LAWRENCE, and the county-seat was to be located in the borough of New Castle.
The people of New Castle were greatly rejoiced over the passage of the bill, and the friends of the measure called a public meeting, and had a grand barbecue, with roasted-ox accompaniments--the whole spiced and flavored with numerous patriotic speeches, the firing of guns, music and general rejoicing.
The following named gentlemen were appointed to superintend the running of the lines of the new county, and to fix the locality for the county buildings, to-wit: Colonel James Potter, Sr., of Mifflin county; Hon. Wm. F. Packer, of Lycoming county, and Hon. Wm. Evans, of Indiana county. Mr. Packer failing to meet the others, on their arrival at New Castle, May 16, 1849, they appointed Colonel John Potter, of Mifflin county, in his place.
The State Commissioners selected as surveyor to run the boundary lines, Mr. Henry Pearson, with Lot Watson and Harvey Tidball as chain-bearers, and Henry C. Falls as axeman. The commissioners of Beaver and Mercer counties and sundry individuals accompanied the party in the survey, which occupied about four weeks' time. Warner Pearson, son of Henry Pearson, then a lad of eleven years, was also with the party during the entire survey. An impression prevails extensively in the county that a portion of Butler county was included in Lawrence; but this is an error.
The following are the minutes of the survey, as taken from the report of the State Commissioners, accompanied by a plat of the county, on file in the prothonotary's office: "Commencing at a post at the corner of Wolf Creek and Slippery Rock townships, Mercer county; thence north forty-two degrees west, with the line dividing said townships, three miles and three hundred and twelve perches, to a post, the southeast corner of Springfield township; thence north eighty-eight and one-fourth degrees west, between the townships of Springfield and Slippery Rock, five miles two hundred and forty-four [p. 12] perches, to a white-oak stump, the southwest corner of Springfield township; thence north along the line dividing Springfield and Lackawannock (now Wilmington) townships, three-fourths of a mile to a chestnut tree; then south eighty-nine degrees west, parallel with the south line of Mercer county, thirteen miles two hundred and ten perches to a post on the Ohio State line; thence south with the said line eighteen and three-fourths miles to a post; thence north eighty-nine degrees east parallel with the north line of Beaver county, eighteen miles two hundred and fifty-two perches to an iron-wood tree, on the line between Beaver and Butler counties; thence north two degrees west along the line of Butler county, nine miles two hundred and forty-four perches, to a post, the corner of Beaver, Butler and Mercer counties; thence north thirty-five and three-fourths degrees east along the line between Butler and Mercer counties, five miles three hundred and ten perches, to the place of beginning."
The area within these lines is about equivalent to a square of nineteen miles, and would, therefore, contain three hundred and sixty-one square miles, or 231,040 acres.
The ground selected by the State Commissioners upon which to locate the county buildings, was situated on the northeast corner of Jefferson and Lawrence (now Falls) streets, and was owned by Thomas Falls. According to the report of the commissioners, it was one hundred by one hundred and sixty feet in dimensions, with the longest diameter east and west.
The following extracts from the report shows that Mr. Falls agreed to donate the land to the county: "The said Thomas Falls has agreed to convey and assure, free of charge, to the Commissioners of Lawrence county and to their successors forever, the said lot of ground; and he further agrees that the streets and alleys forming the boundaries of said lot may be kept open for public use forever--all upon consideration that the public buildings of said county be placed upon said lot."
[Signed,] WM. EVANS. JAMES POTTER, SR. JOHN POTTER.
The site chosen by the Commissioners for the location of the county buildings, seems to have been not altogether satisfactory; and during the Fall and Winter of 1849, the excitement upon the subject became very great. There had been numerous competing sites, and the partisans of each had put forth strong efforts, and when the matter was decided in favor of the Falls location, the disappointed parties were loth to give up the contest.
Absurd statements, regarding the ground selected, were put in circulation, and the matter was discussed in crowded public meetings, in the hotels and business places, in the street, and in the family circle. At length it was suggested by Colonel McComb and others, that the matter be settled by petitioning the Legislature to rescind their former action, and allow it to be decided by subscriptions--the locality securing the largest amount to be the one where the buildings should be erected. Various localities were discussed, including the lots where the Disciples' Church now stands, those at present occupied by the new city buildings, the Maitland block, the one now occupied by the county buildings, and perhaps others.
The County Commissioners elected in the Autumn 1849, were John K. Swisher, John Randolph and James Oliver, all of whom where in favor of choosing a new location.
The movement, headed by R. B. McComb, Esq., and the County Commissioners, went on vigorously. Petitions and memorials were forwarded to Harrisburg, and subscription papers were circulated in favor of several of the localities mentioned. Finally, an Act, supplementary to the one passed in March, 1849, erecting the new county of Lawrence, was passed by the Legislature and approved by the Governor on the 25th day of March, 1850, the tenth section of which reads as follows:
"That the Commissioners of the county of Lawrence shall, as soon after the passage of this act as shall be practicable, designate by numbers, and in such other manner as they shall think proper, four several sites for the location of the county buildings for said county, in or within one-fourth of a mile from the borough of New Castle, including the site already fixed by the Commissioners appointed for that purpose; they shall also procure a book in which to receive subscriptions of money, land, labor and materials to aid in defraying the expenses of erecting said buildings for each of said sites, and shall permit all and every person, or persons, body politic or corporate, by themselves or their agent, to subscribe in either of said books such sum or amount of money, land, labor or materials, as he, she or they may think proper for the purpose aforesaid; and it is hereby made the duty of said County Commissioners to give every person or persons, body politic or corporate, within said county, every facility within their power to make subscriptions as aforesaid, for the space of two months from the time of opening said books; and at the expiration of said term they shall forthwith determine upon which of said sites as aforesaid the said buildings shall be erected, and proceed to erect the same in the manner directed by law, having due regard to the healthfulness of the site, convenience and interest of the citizens of said county, and the amount of subscriptions to each of said sites: Provided, That before proceeding to erect said buildings, they shall take such security as in their judgment shall be ample to insure the payment of the whole amount subscribed to the successful site." Section 12: "So much of the act to which this is a supplement, or any other law, as is hereby altered or supplied, or is inconsistent herewith, be and the same is hereby repealed." Approved the 25th day of March 1850. WM. F. JOHNSTON
The site where the buildings were finally located succeeded in obtaining the largest amount of subscriptions (some sixteen hundred dollars), and the lots were donated to the county by David Crawford. The Commissioners proceeded to advertise for sealed proposals for the erection of the necessary buildings under their plans and specifications, and the contract was let in August, 1850, to Messrs. James M. Craig and William Hamilton, for the sum of twelve thousand and four dollars; they being the lowest responsible bidders. The work was commenced in the Fall of that year, and the buildings were completed in 1852. The plans, both of the court house and jail, were very materially changed from the original designs by the Commissioners during the progress of the work. The elaborate and costly portico of fluted Ionic columns, constructed of gray sandstone, was not contemplated in the original design, and material alterations were made inside the buildings, and much extra work was also done in grading the grounds, erecting walls in front, &c., which brought the total cost up to about $32,000.
All extra work was arranged for and understood by the Commissioners and contractors. Labor and material were very cheap in those days, and the ex- penses were probably less by one-half than they would be for similar improvements at the present time.
The court house occupies a fine and commanding position, fronting the west, and elevated some sixty feet above low water in the rivers.
The population of Lawrence county at the time of its organization was, by the United States census, 21,079, including 132 colored. The population of New Castle, at that time, was 1,614, including 51 colored. In 1860, the population of the county was 22,999, and of New Castle 1,882. In 1870, the county contained 27,298, and the city of New Castle 6,164 inhabitants.
At the first election held in the fall of 1849, the following were the names of the county officers chosen: Sheriff, David Emery; Prothonotary and Clerk of the Courts, James D. Clarke; Treasure, Joseph Justice; Register and Recorder, James McClane; County Commissioners, John K. Swisher, James Oliver, John Randolph; County Auditors, Isaac P. Rose, Wm. Work, A. Galloway; Coroner, John L. Warnock.
At the time of the organization of the county, Hon. John Bredin was President Judge of the Courts, with Hons. Jacob Bear and Charles T. Whippo, associates. The first election for judges was held October 14, 1851, when Hon. Daniel Agnew, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State, was elected President Judge, and John Reynolds and James Henry, Associates. Mr. Henry died, and Jacob Bear was elected in 1852.
In 1856, Hon. Thomas Pomeroy was elected Associate Judge, and in 1857, Samuel Van Horn.
In 1861, Hon. Daniel Agnew was re-elected President Judge, and Joseph Cunningham, Associate.
In 1863, Judge Agnew was elected to the Supreme Court of the State, and Hon. L. L. McGuffin was appointed, and in October, 1864, elected President Judge in his place.
In 1862, James McClane was elected Associate.
In 1866, Samuel Taylor, and in 1867, Thomas Pomeroy were elected Associates.
In 1871, Samuel Taylor, and in 1872, Thomas Pomeroy, were re-elected Associates.
In 1874, Hon. Ebenezer McJunkin was elected President Judge, and Hon. James Bredin, Law Judge.
In 1876, James P. Aiken was elected Associate. The four last named are the present incumbents.
The President Judges are elected for ten years, and the Associates for five years.
The office of Law Judge was created by the new constitution, 1873.
The following is a list of the county officers from 1850 to 1876:
Sheriffs--1852, Andrew B. Allen; 1855, Robert Gailey; 1858, Silas Stevenson; 1861, Andrew B. Allen; 1864, Thomas McConnell; 1867, David C. Rhodes; 1870, James Davis; 1873, James H. Cooper; 1876, William B. Miller.
Prothonotaries--1852, James D. Clark (died December 2, 1854), David M. Kissinger appointed to fill term; 1855, Cyrus Clarke (resigned); 1857, John S. Pomeroy; 1860, John Elder; 1863, John Elder, re-elected; 1866, Jacob Haus; 1869, Samuel K. McGinness; 1872, S. C. McCreary, re-elected in 1875.
County Commissioners--1850, John Randolph; 1851, Robert Bentley; 1852, William R. Wallace; 1853, Marmaduke Wilson; 1854, Robert Reynolds; 1855, William Carlon; 1856, William Gaston; 1857, Isaac P. Cowden; 1858, Robert, Fullerton; 1859, Thomas Cairns; 1860, James Forrest; 1861, John Wilson; 1862, William B. Lutton; 1863, Jacob Rowland; 1864, Henry H. Emery; 1865, William Y. Greer; 1866, Asa Eckles; 1867, John H. Gormley; 1868, Alex. Carpenter; 1869, Joseph Douthett; 1870, James McLawrence; 1871, David M. Courtney; 1872, William McClelland; 1873, Robert Mehard; 1874, James D. Bryson. In 1875, under the new constituion, three were elected: James Patterson, for three years; James D. Bryson, for two years, and Robert Mehard, for one year.
County Auditors--1850, John Elder; 1851, John S. Foy; 1852, James C. Brackey: (Mr. Brackey died, and David Sankey was appointed in - his place); 1853, Pearson McCreary (died in office); 1854, A. Tyler and Thomas Pearson; 1855, William Drake and William Nesbit; 1856, Joseph M. Burns; 1857, James R. Miller; 1858, Isaac P. Cowden; 1859, Philo S. Morton; 1860, John H. Gormley; 1861, D. S. Robinson and Joseph R. Sherrard; 1862, William C. Harbison - 1863, E. M. McConnell; 1864, David Warnock; 1865, Zebina N. Allen; 1866, Peter R. Sedwick; 1867, William M. Gibson; 1868, Matthew Stewart; 1869, John Jellison; 1870, Peter R. Sedwick and Robert Elder; 1871, John M. Power; 1872, George Y. Leslie; 1873, Lafayette Baldwin; 1874, John M. Power; 1875, Lafayette Baldwin, William Weller and George B. Gibson.
County Treasurers--1851, Archibald Cubbison; 1853, James S. Tidball; 1855, James Mitchell; 1857, Isaac N. Phillips; 1859, Alexander Carpenter; 1861, E. I. Agnew; 1863, Matthew D. Tait; 1865, Wm. H. Shaw; 1867, Cochran Leslie; 1869, John A. Porter; 1871, Isaac Murdock, Jr.; 1873, Forbes Holton; 1875, John Blevins.
Registers and Recorders--1852, Hugh Moore; 1855, John Hoffman; 1858, John W. Fulkerson; 1861, Robert Boyd; 1864, Sylvester Gaston; re-elected in 1867; 1870, James Crowl; 1873, re-elected (resigned); 1873, Isaac Murdock, Jr., appointed (died); 1874, William W. Officer appointed; 1874, James C. Stevenson.
District Attorneys--1849, W. P. Buchanan, appointed by Governor Johnston; 1850, James Pollock; 1853, David Craig; 1856, B. B. Pickett; 1859, John P. Blair; 1862, Robert Gilliland; 1865, J. Smith Du Shane; 1868, O. L. Jackson; 1871, A. L. Hazen, reelected in 1874.
Coroners--1852, J. H. N. Peebles; 1855, Philip Miller; 1858, Daniel Leasure; 1861, Dr. G. W. Coulter (removed from county); 1862, Malachi P.Barker; 1865, Dr. A. M. Cowden; 1867, Malachi P. Barker; 1869, M. P. Barker; 1870, J. B. Reinholdt; 1873, James Pollock; 1875, David P. Jackson.
County Surveyor--Henry Pearson was appointed by the State Commissioners to survey and mark the original boundaries of the county, in 1849. He was elected Deputy Surveyor, in 1850, by a vote of the people, and there seems to have been no election for surveyor, afterwards, until 1865, when Mr. Pearson was again elected. He held the office until his death, about 1872. There is no record of any surveyor for the county since 1865.
School Superintendent--This officer is elected by the School Directors of the county. The following gentlemen have filled the position since the first election, under an Act of the Assembly, of May 18, 1854: Thomas Berry, Stephen Morrison, Geo. W. McCracken, W. N. Aiken.
Senate--The State Senators, who have been elected from Lawrence county, are Hon. Wm. M. Francis, Hon. John Ferguson, and Hon. Samuel McKinley.
Representatives--Thomas Dungan, 1851 and 1852; John D. Raney, 1853; R. B. McComb, 1854, 1855, and 1856; G. P. Shaw, 1857 and 1858; J.D. Bryson, 1859 and 1860; John W. Blanchard, 1861 and 1862; Isaiah White, 1863 and 1864; Samuel McKinley, 1865 and 1866; Wm. C. Harbison, 1867; John Edwards, 1868 and 1869; David Craig and George W. McCracken, in 1870; A. P. Moore and Samuel D. Clarke, in 1871; A. P. Moore in 1872; George W. McCracken, in 1873; E. S. N. Morgan, in 1874 and 1875; J. Q. Stewart, in 1875 and 1876; and E. S. N. Morgan and J. Q. Stewart, in 1877 and 1878.
The Representatives in Congress who have been elected from Lawrence county, are Hon. John W. Wallace, in 1860, William McClelland, in 1872, and John W. Wallace, again in 1874.
Lawrence became a separate Representative district in 1871. Under the new constitution adopted in 1873, it became entitled to two Representatives in the State Legislature.
The first Court held in Lawrence county convened at the First Methodist Episcopal Church, in New Castle, on Monday, January 7, 1850. It was presided over by Hon. John Bredin, assisted by Hon. Jacob Bear.
The attorneys admitted to practice at that term, belonging to Lawrence county, were Jonathan Ayres, L. L. McGuffin, J. K. Boyd, David Craig, Lewis Taylor, W. P. Buchanan, D. B. Kurtz, J. Hoffman, D. C. Cossitt, John M. Crawford, Geo. W. Watson, John N. McGuffin and James Pollock. Attorneys were also present and admitted to practice, from Beaver, Butler, Mercer and Indiana counties.
The court house was not completed ready for occupancy until 1852.
At the time of the organization of the county it was divided, like the original colonies, into thirteen civil sub-divisions or townships; these were Pulaski, Wilmington, Slippery Rock, North Slippery Rock, Mahoning, Neshannock, North Beaver, Big Beaver, Little Beaver, Shenango, Wayne, Perry and North Sewickley. Of these Pulaski, Wilmington, North Slippery Rock, Mahoning and Neshannock were formerly a part of Mercer county, and the remainder were taken from Beaver county.
There have been material changes in the names and arrangements of the townships since 1850. The first new township formed after the erection of the county was Taylor, which was created from portions of Shenango and North Beaver, on the 19th of February, 1853. On the 13th of April, 1854, North Slippery Rock was cut in two, and the two townships of Washington and Scott were formed from it, and the old name abandoned.
On the 14th of February, 1855, Plain Grove township was formed from parts of Washington and Scott townships. Pollock township was formed May 28, 1858, from parts of Neshannock and Shenango townships. Upon the erection of New Castle into a city, February 25, 1869, this township was included within the city limits, and now constitutes the third and fourth wards. On the 15th day of February, 1859, Washington township was enlarged by taking a strip of land three-fourths of a mile wide from Plain Grove township, and another strip a half mile wide from Scott township. Union township was formed from portions of Mahoning, Neshannock and Taylor townships, September 10, 1859.
Hickory township was formed from a part of Neshannock township in the winter of 1859-60.
Evidences of the ancient or pre-historic people, sometimes known as the "Mound Builders," are not altogether wanting in Lawrence county, though they are not found as plentifully as in many other portions of the State. The most noted example of their work is undoubtedly the well-known mound situated near the village of Edenburg, and also near the site of the famous Indian village of Kush-kush-kee.*
*See History of Mahoning township.
The traditions of the Lenni Lenape and Mengwe nations, whom the first Europeans found inhabiting the vast region stretching from the Atlantic ocean and the St. Lawrence river to the Mississippi valley and southward to the Carolinas and the Ohio river, point unmistakably to this mysterious people, who rose and flourished; who built extensive cities and gigantic fortifications; who worked the wonderful copper deposits of Lake Superior, and who manufactured millions of the elaborate stone implements of war and husbandry still found upon the hills of the Ohio, the grand prairies of the West and the broad savannahs of the South.
The Indian nations had a tradition that their ancestors came from the far western wilds of the continent many centuries ago, and crossing the great river Mississippi, which they called Namoesi-sipu, or river of fish, fell upon this [p. 14] ancient people, and after many years of bloody and terrific warfare succeeded in driving the shattered remnant of the once powerful race toward the vast region of the South and West. After this great conquest, the Lenni Lenape and the Mengwe, who had joined hands against the Allegewi, as the conquered people were called, divided the country between them; the Lenape or Delawares, as they were known by the English, taking the region lying along the Ohio--the famed "La Belle Riviere" of the French, and the Mengwe, the Iroquois, or Six Nations, or Mingoes of the French and English, choosing the region lying around the great lakes and on both sides of the St. Lawrence river.
These nations eventually grew hostile to each other, and in the wars which succeeded, the Lenape, were finally reduced from their former high estate to the condition of women, by the haughty Six Nations, whom De Witt Clinton called the "Romans of America." The first knowledge obtained by white men of this region was undoubtedly that of the French traders and explorers who pushed into the wilderness, and even penetrated as far as the west end of Lake Superior as early as 1616.
Their missionaries had established themselves at various points in the vicinity of the northwestern lakes by the middle of the seventeenth century, and their great discoverer, the Chevalier De LaSalle, had penetrated from the head of Lake Michigan to the mouth of the Mississippi river in 1682.
The date of their first appearance within the bounds of the present county of Lawrence cannot be certainly determined. They had two routes from Lake Erie to the Ohio river--one by way of Erie (Presq' isle), French creek, and the Allegheny river, by which route came Captain Contrecoeur, in the Spring of 1754, when on his way to the capture of "the forks," as the site of Pittsburgh was then called. The other route was from Presq' isle, over the dividing ridge, and down the Shenango or Mahoning and Beaver rivers. They probably began to visit this region about 1731, for the colonies of Pennsylvania, New York, and Virginia were complaining of their encroachments in that year. The dominant Indian nation in northwestern Pennsylvania, at the date of their advent, was the Senecas; but there seems to have been several different tribes of the Senecas, the Delawares, the Shawanese, and, perhaps, others intermingled. The Neshannock creek is said to have been named by the Delawares, and the Shenango by the Senecas. The Cornplanter tribe of the Seneca nation (called after one of their chiefs), was the most powerful and numerous one in this region, among the lesser organizations. Their principal village was on the Allegheny river.
The first white man who visited this region, from the English colonies, was Christopher Gist, the friend and companion of Washington, who went in the interests of the Ohio Land Company, on a visit of exploration, as far west as the Miami, in 1750. He did not, however, visit the territory of Lawrence county, but, probably, passed down the right bank of the Ohio river.
It is probable that the first white man from "beyond the mountains" who visited the territory now comprised within the limits of Lawrence county, was Christian Frederick Post,* who was sent on a peace mission to the western Indians, in the year 1758, in advance of General Forbes' army, then on its way toward Fort Duquesne. He arrived, according to his journal, at Kush-kush-kee, the Indian capital of King Beaver, on the 12th of August. This was twelve years previous to the settlement made by the Moravian missionaries, Zeisberger and Senseman, at what is now Moravia station.
*A Moravian Missionary.
Whether "King Beaver" was identical with the chief Pack-an-ka, who ruled in the valley afterwards, we cannot know, but it is at least probable. On the 17th of August a grand council was held. All the chiefs and rulers, for many miles around, were present, and there was also a French captain, and fifteen men on the ground. Among the celebrated kings and chiefs present, were King Beaver, King Shingis, Teedy-us-kung, and Delaware George, of the Delawares, and there was present, also, a party of Shawanese and Mingoes.
This French captain and detachment of soldiers, may, very probably, have thrown up the fortification described in the history of Taylor township, at old Moravia village. The times were precarious, and the French knew not at what moment the treacherous savages would turn against them. From that date, until the Spring of 1770, we have little or no account of this region. Hunters, traders, and trappers probably visited it, but the savages were undisturbed in their possessions.
In April, 1770, two Moravian missionaries, Zeisberger and Senseman, came into the valley of the Beaver river, by invitation of the principal chief or king, the venerable Pack-an-ka. These missionaries had attempted to establish a mission at the mouth of the Tionesta creek, but meeting with little encouragement, and not liking the rough country,they very gladly accepted the chief's offer of land and protection, and commenced a settlement a little west of where the old village or hamlet of Moravia now stands, but in the course of a few weeks, finding the location too low, and subject to malaria, they crossed the river and made their permanent settlement on the high bluff a little northwest from the present Moravia station, on the E. and P. railway. The mission remained and flourished for nearly three years, when for some reason they were persuaded to move farther west, and, accordingly, they destroyed their church building, and removed to a point on the upper waters of the Muskingum, in the present State of Ohio, in 1773. The largest village of the Indians, who appeared to have been mostly Delawares, was no doubt at Kush-kush-kee, which Post describes as being composed of four separate towns, and containing about "ninety houses, and two hundred able warriors." Pack-an-ka was the head chief, or king, and his capital, called New Kas-kas-kunk, was located on the ground where New Castle now stands. Another town called Old Kas-kas-kunk, was located near the mouth of the Mahoning river. The principal chief, orator, and statesman, under King Pack-an-ka, was called Glik-ik-an, who was afterwards converted to Christianity by the Moravians, and finally perished in the massacre at the mission towns in Ohio, in March, 1782. The king was never converted, but nevertheless remained the steadfast friend of the missionaries so long as they remained in the Beaver valley.
The pedigree (so to speak) of the counties covering the territory from which Lawrence county, was formed, is as follows: First. Chester, one of the original counties of the province. Second. Lancaster, formed from part of Chester, May 10, 1729. Third. Cumberland, formed from part of Lancaster, January 27, 1750. Fourth. Bedford, formed from part of Cumberland, March 9, 1771. Fifth. Westmoreland, formed from part of Bedford, February 26, 1773; and, in 1785, a part of the purchase of 1784 was added. Sixth. Allegheny, formed from parts of Westmoreland and Washington, September 24, 1788. Seventh. Beaver and Mercer, formed from part of Allegheny, March 12, 1800. Eighth. Lawrence from parts of Beaver and Mercer, April 5, 1849.
The region covering about twenty counties in the northwestern part of Pennsylvania, was purchased from the Six Nations by the Commonwealth, at the treaty of Fort Stanwix,* in October, 1784.
*Now Rome, N. Y.
The lands north and west of the Ohio and Allegheny rivers were surveyed into what were known as "warrant" and "donation" tracts. The former, supposed to contain an average of 400 acres to each tract, and the latter, (which were surveyed to accommodate the soldiers of the Pennsylvania line, who served during the Revolution,) into tracts of 200, 250, 300 and 500 acres.
Soldiers' certificates and warrants were purchased and speculated in by immense corporations, "Population" and "Land companies," and by individuals. The most prominent of these were the "Pennsylvania Population Company" and the "Holland Land Company." Considerable tracts known as "academy lands," &c., were reserved for the benefit of schools and churches.
An act passed the State Legislature on the 3d of April, 1792, providing that all the lands north and west of the Ohio and Allegheny rivers and Conewango creek, not heretofore reserved for public or charitable purposes should be offered for sale to persons who would cultivate, improve and settle them, at the rate of seven pounds and ten shillings ($20) per hundred acres, with an allowance of six per cent for highways. For such as had made actual settlements, it was provided that warrants should be issued for tracts of not more than 400 acres to each settler. But by the ninth section it was provided, "That no warrant or survey to be issued or made in pursuance of this act, for lands lying north and west of the rivers Ohio and Allegheny and Conewango creek, shall vest any title in or to the lands therein mentioned, unless the grantee has, prior to the date of such warrant, made or caused to be made, or shall within the space of two years next after the date of the sale make or caused to be made, an actual settlement thereon, by clearing, fencing and cultivating at least two acres for every hundred acres contained in one survey, erecting thereon a messuage for the habitation of man, and residing or causing a family to reside thereon, for the space of five years next following his first settling of the same, if he or she shall so long live; and that in default of such actual settlement and residence, it shall and may be lawful for this Commonwealth to issue new warrants to other actual settlers for the said lands, or any part thereof, reciting the original warrants, and that actual settlements and residence have not been made in pursuance thereof, and so often as defaults shall be made for the time and in the manner aforesaid, which new grants shall be made under and subject to all and every the reg- [p. 15] ulations contained in this act. Provided always, nevertheless, that if any such actual settler or grantee, in any such original or succeeding warrants shall, by force of arms of the enemies of the United States, be prevent from such actual settlement, or be driven therefrom, and shall persist in his endeavors to make such actual settlement as aforesaid, then, in either case, he and his heirs shall be entitled to hold the said lands in the same manner as if the actual settlement had been made and continued."
Soon after the passage of this act, John Nicholson applied at the land office for three hundred and ninety warrants, to be located in the triangle, and for two hundred and fifty warrants, to be located on the waters of Beaver creek, representing in all about 260,000 acres. Before, however, completing his purchase, the Pennsylvania Population Company was formed, of which he was made President, and Messrs. Cazenove, Irvine, Mead, Leet, Hoge and Stewart, managers.
The capital stock of the company consisted of 2,500 shares, which was laid out in the purchase of 500,000 acres of land. To this company Nicholson transferred his claims, and they perfected the purchase by paying the legal price for them. In addition they purchased 500 more warants for lands in the "donation" district. The terms of their purchase were of course those provided in the law--the payment of seven pounds ten shillings per hundred acres, and the making or causing to be made of a legal settlement on each tract covered by a warrant. In order to induce emigrants to settle on their lands, the company proposed to grant in fee simple to every settler one hundred and fifty acres of land, if he should comply with the requisitions of the law imposed upon them; and in that way it was designed that the occupant should secure his land, together with his implements, and the company should secure 250 acres through him. But the fact that each actual settler could secure for himself, by the payment of the stipulated purchase money, a tract of 400 acres under the law, prevented, in a great measure, the success of the company's scheme of monopoly. Settlers generally, indeed, located themselves on lands covered by their own warrants, though in some cases these infringed upon lands of the company. In consequence, suits of ejectment were instituted against those who had encroached upon the lands to which the company had an incomplete title, and this state of things became a fruitful source of litigation for many years."*
*From Surveyor General's Report--1865.
The Academy lands were mostly situated in the southeastern portion of the county. Benjamin Chew, of Philadelphia, the owner of the celebrated "Stone House" at Germantown, which lost Washington the battle fought there on the third of October, 1777, secured a large tract of land in the southern portion of what is now Lawrence county, being in the present townships of Big Beaver, Wayne, Shenango, Slippery Rock and Perry. This tract was some four miles in width, and eight or ten miles in length,,and was known as the "Chew Tract." It was mostly surveyed into 400-acre tracts, and each settler was allowed one-half for settling.
The lands in the vicinity of New Castle were mostly "donation" tracts, and were entered upon soldiers' warrants--a portion of them by the original holders of the warrants, but probably a majority by parties to whom the patents had been sold and transferred. There was a body of land, located principally in the present Perry township, amounting to eight tracts, which was marked on the surveys "depreciated lands" or lands unfit for settlement, but it was found they included some of the finest lands in the county, and they were speedily taken by settlers.
The first white settlers, following the departure of the Moravians, came to Mahoning township in 1793. They consisted of a party of about forty-five persons, who left Allegheny city with the intention of settling on the north side of the Mahoning river. They had a surveyor along, one Arthur Gardner, who professed to be able to locate the lands they were in search of, but they passed by the lands, and went as far west as the spot where Youngstown, Ohio, now stands, where many of the party, becoming dissatisfied, returned to Allegheny; but about seventeen of them returned to Pennsylvania, and settled on both sides of the Mahoning. Subsequently to this settlement, others were made in various parts of the county, from 1795 to 1800. New Castle was first settled and a town laid out by John Carlysle Stewart and others in April, 1798.
When this region was first settled the only roads were Indian trails, which generally followed the larger streams, though they occasionally followed the "divides" or high land between the streams, as was the case with the trail leading from Moravia to Kusk-kush-kee. All the great trails in this region centered at Kush-kush-kee, which was for many years the principal Indian town in this region, being the capital of "King Beaver," and a place of much importance. A common means of locomotion was by canoe navigation on the Beaver and its branches, the Mahoning and the Shenango. The white settlers for several years had only foot-paths through the forest, along which they transported supplies and household furniture from Pittsburgh on horse-back, using the pack-saddle. The State of Pennsylvania at an early day--probably as early as 1805--appointed "viewers" to lay out and establish roads, which are to this day known as "State roads." One of the earliest of these was laid out from the "Scrub Grass Creek" in Venango county, via New Castle, to Youngstown, Ohio. It passed through New Castle on North street, which at that time was the principal thoroughfare of the town. The Pittsburgh turnpike was opened at an early day, and a road to Mercer was among the first running north from New Castle. The Beaver-river road was opened as early as 1805. It followed the river as near as practicable. The oldest road between New Castle and Mercer passed through Fayette. Another was afterwards opened via Wilmington.
A company bearing the above title was chartered by the Legislature in 1850. The first officers were A. L. Crawford, President; William Dickson Secretary and Treasurer, and Shubael Wilder, G. W. Crawford, John M. Crawford, R. H. Peebles, Thomas Falls, Joseph Kissick and Frederick Rheinholdt, Diretors. Work was commenced in 1851. The principal contractors were David Emery and John Morehead. The charter contemplated a connection with New Wilmington, situated nine miles north of New Castle, but the road was only constructed to the coal banks, in Neshannock township, about four miles from the city. It was completed and opened to the public in 1852. Toll gates were erected, and Mr. A. Cubbison was appointed the first toll-keeper. One track consisting of three-inch oak plank, eight feet in length, was laid; the loaded teams coming into New Castle, taking the plank, and all teams going north using the portion of the grade not planked. The road bed was handsomely graded, and the track was so perfect that a common load for two horses was from three to four tons. It was an immense improvement over the old wagon road, and a very large traffic was constantly passing over it.
A. L. Crawford served as President five years, and was succeeded in 1856 by Thomas Falls, who served four years, when Frederick Rheinholdt was elected, and served two years. He was succeeded in turn by Henry C. Falls, in 1863, who continued to act in that capacity until the dissolution of the company, in 1872, when the toll gates were removed, and the charter surrendered. During the nine years, from 1863 until 1872, the following persons served as officers of the company: Henry C. Falls, President; William Patterson, Secretary and Treasurer; R. H. Peebles, G. W. Crawford, R. W. Cunningham, Shubael Wilder, Joseph Kissick, A. L. Crawford and Frederick Rheinholdt, Diretors.
These years were exceedingly satisfactory to the stockholders, in the matter of business and annual dividends, and pleasant to the officers of the company.
The road was a great convenience to the public, and was not only a source of profit to its stockholders, but also to the owners of coal lands, and to coal dealers, and the farming community generally. But when the iron rail and the powerful locomotive came into competition in the transportation of coal, the once valuable plank road was forced to succumb, for the very good reason that horse-power cannot compete with steam.
During the palniy days of the road it was not an uncommon occurrence to see as many as sixty teams, loaded with coal and country produce,, at the same time on the road.
The old bed is now used as a turnpike, making the best wagon road in the county.
The portion of the counties of Beaver and Mercer, now constituting the county of Lawrence, was settled with the same thrifty, persistent and energetic race which originally peopled a large share of Western Pennsylvania--the hardy Scotch-Irish. Zealous in their religious belief and full Of muscle and brawn, they conquered the wilderness while they sang the "Psalms of David," and reared the church of round logs simultaneously with the, dwelling and the schoolhouse.
At the breaking out of the war between the United States and Great Britain, in June, 1812, this region was quite thickly settled and the people were not slow to respond to the calls of the State and Nation for volunteers [p. 16] to preserve and defend the honor of the common country. A large number went from what is now Lawrence county, a portion of them in General Crook's Brigade, which marched from Pittsburgh, in the Fall of 1812, and joined General Harrison on the Sandusky and Maumee rivers. Others were called to Erie at different periods, some going as many as three separate times. A few of these men had served during the Revolution, but most of them were too far advanced in years to enter the army.* During the Mexican war there were only a few who went out from Lawrence county.
*A list of Revolutionary soldiers, and those of 1812 and the Mexican war, is given in another place.
The record of Lawrence county made during the Great Rebellion is a glorious one. By reference to the Rosters furnished in another portion of this work, it will be seen that nearly four thousand men volunteered or were drafted in the county during the four years of the war. They served in all parts of the field of operations, from Georgia to Kansas, and from Pennsylvania to Texas, and in all branches of the service. Of those who went forth full of life and hope, nearly five hundred never returned, having laid down their lives in testimony of their love of country on the countless battle-fields, in the gory hospitals, and among the prison-pens of the Confederacy. Many came back maimed and disfigured for life, but with the proud consciousness of duties nobly performed, and no stain left upon the escutcheon of their country. Lawrence county turned out a very large number of men in proportion to her population--the largest number being in the celebrated 100th or "Roundhead" Regiment. Her soldiers everywhere bore themselves as became intelligent citizens of the great Republic, and left a record which their children and children's children, to the latest generation, shall ever cherish with the fondest recollections.*
*See Military Record.
The Beaver Division of the Pennsylvania canal was completed to the "Western Reserve Harbor," about five miles above New Castle, in November, 1833, and opened for business. The Ohio division, called the "Cross-Cut" canal, was finished and opened for traffic in 1838. From those dates down to about 1871, when the canals were abandoned for transportation purposes, a vast amount of business was transacted, and the canal system of navigation was considered the ne plus ultra of all schemes having for their object the transportation of goods and passengers.
The first boats constructed were calculated for both freight and passenger business. The first "packets," which were calculated expressly for the accommodation of the traveling public, and which ran at a much greater rate of speed than the regular "liners," were put on by Captain Thomas Campbell, Bridgewater. The pioneer boat was the "General Mercer," which commenced her trips, in the Spring of 1843, between New Castle and Bridgewater, (now Rochester.) Subsequently, another line known as the "New Castle Packet Line" was put in operation. These were built for both freight and passengers, and made night trips, hauling berths fitted up for the comfort of passengers. The days of the canal were busy and jolly ones, and many a veteran "Captain" won his "name and fame" by patient labor along the slack-water navigation of the Beaver valley.
But the "boatman's horn" is heard no more, and the sailorless hulks lie here and there, slowly rotting in the sun.
The first and only steamer ever built in New Castle was built by Doctor Joseph Pollock, and put on the line between the city of Pittsburgh and New Castle. The builder was one Daniel Frisbie, a ship and steamboat builder from New York city. The vessel was constructed and launched at the canal basin in July, 1840. Frisbie knew how to construct a sea-going vessel, and he put his knowledge into practical operation in the construction of Doctor Pollock's boat. The Doctor's son Hiram, and his son-in-law, Captain William McMillen, each had an interest in the new venture. When completed and launched she was christened the "Isaphena," after the Doctor's daughter, and was put in command of Capt. McMillen. She was built as large as the locks on the canal would admit. After making a few trips to Pittsburgh it was found that the new vessel was built too sharp at the bow and too deep for the waters of the Beaver river, and accordingly a new flat-bottomed hull was constructed and her upper works and engine were transferred to the new hull in October, 1840. Doctor Pollock constructed two very peculiar wheels from an idea of his own, which worked in such a manner as not to produce any wake, and so avoided the washing of the banks which an ordinary steamer produces. The new craft was very popular, and took all the passenger business, until Messrs. Reed, Parks & Co., who were running the packet line, constructed two new packets fitted up with sleeping berths and every convenience for passengers, and withal more comfortable than the steamer. These boats connected with a line of fine steamers at Beaver, and the passengers were carried between New Castle and Pittsburgh without delay. This new arrangement in its turn took all the passenger traffic from the "Isaphena" and compelled the proprietors to seek other channels for business, and the steamer was accordingly put on the Monongahela river, and ran for a number of months in 1841 between Pitts- burgh and Monongehela city. She was soon after enlarged and improved, and in 1842 was taken down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and put into the cotton trade between Vicksburg, Miss., and the region about the head- waters of the Yazoo river.
Dr. Pollock came from Williamsport, now Monongahela city, where he had practiced medicine for twenty years, and settled on a farm in Shenango, township, then in Beaver county, in 1826. He removed to New Castle in 1835, where he resided until his death, in 1856. He practiced medicine only among a limited few after he came to New Castle.
Dr. Pollock was a member of the Legislature in 1831-2, and at one time a member of the State Equalization Board. He was also superintendent of the Beaver division of the canal, in 1841-42-43. The doctor was a strict and earnest advocate of temperance from his fourteenth year, at which date he was in college, and was the only one in his class who abstained from the cup. He lived to see his classmates all fill the drunkard's grave.
There are four lines of railway which traverse the county or some portion of it. These, in the order of their construction, are the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago, completed through a portion of Little and Big Beaver townships in 1850-1; the Erie and Pittsburgh, completed to New Castle from the South, June 15th, 1864; the Ashtabula, Youngstown and Pittsburgh, completed in 1864, and the New Castle and Franklin, opened in the Summer of 1874.
The P., F. W. and C. railway has about 4 miles of track. The E. and P. railway about 24 The A., Y. and P. railway about 10 The N. C. and F. railway about 12 Coal roads about 10 Total miles in the county, 60
The Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago road is one of the great trunk lines of the country, connecting the greatest grain, lumber and provision market in the world with Philadelphia and other seaboard cities. It does a very heavy business. The Erie and Pittsburgh, as its name indicates, connects the Ohio river and Lake Erie, and is also a heavy business line. The Ashtabula, Youngstown and Pittsburgh connects the lines centering at the latter point with the Ohio system, and is doing a fair proportion of the business of the region through which it passes. The New Castle and Franklin line opens up a connection with the oil regions. These lines all handle large quantities of coal and coke.
The county of Lawrence contains about 361 square miles, equivalent to 231,040 acres. According to the Second Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics for the years 1873-74, the number of acres of forest land in the county was 49,500, which, deducted from the whole number of acres, leave 181,540 acres of cleared land or land destitute of timber. The amount of swampy or untillable land is not shown, but there are probably about 150,000 acres of land suitable for cultivation.
The assessed valuation of the real and personal property for the year 1875 was $4,958,000. The number of taxables in the county, at the same date, was 7,085, and the amount of county taxes levied for the same year, was $50,801.35, equal to about $7 per capita to each tax-payer.
The following figures for Lawrence county were furnished to the Bureau of Statistics by Mr. Luther Sample, a practical farmer. They are given for the years 1874-75:
Number of acres under cultivation, 150,000 Value of the same, per acre, $50.00 Total value of improvements, $12,000,000 Bushels of wheat raised, 250,000 Bushels of rye raised, 25,000 Bushels of Indian corn raised, 400,000 Bushels of oats raised, 500,000 Bushels of barley raised, 20,000 [p. 17] Bushels of buckwheat raised 30,000 Bushels of peas and beans raised, 1,100 Bushels of common potatoes, 400,000 Bushels of clover seed, 1,000 Bushels of grass seed, 200 Pounds of wool, 300,000 Pounds of butter, 800,000 Pounds of cheese, 10,000 Pounds of flax, 60,000 Pounds of maple sugar, 5,000 Pounds of honey, 14,000 Pounds of beeswax, 200 Tons of hay, 30,000 Gallons of wine, 500 Gallons of milk sold, 20,000 Gallons of sorghum molasses, 1,500 Gallons of maple molasses, 2,500 Total value of all farming implements, $350,000 Number of men employed on farms, 500 Average wages per month, $25.00 Average wages per day, $1.25
The Lawrence County Agricultural and Horticultural Society was organized in 1852. In 1853, the following were its officers: President, R. W. Stewart; Vice-Presidents, Thomas Cunningham and W. P. Hamilton; Secretary, D. Craig; Treasurer, Webster Justice; Managers, John Simpson, John K. Swisher, William Brown, J. P. Cowden, William Blanchard, and Thomas Pearson.
The society, in 1852, offered premiums to the amount of $450. In 1853, premiums awarded, $250. The society leased, for the term of ten years, four and a-half acres of land near the borough of New Castle.
The receipts for the year 1855, were $937.50. Amount of premiums paid, $500.
The premiums paid in 1856 amounted to $510.
In 1857 the total receipts were $670.50.
Amount of premiums paid in 1858, $713.25. Since the last named year, the society has held no fairs.
The Lawrence County Agricultural Society, of Harlansburg, was organized in 1871. Andrew Nelson, President; Alexander McBride, Jr., Vice-President; Jesse B. Locke, Secretary; W. E. Kirker, Treasurer.
Three annual fairs have been held. The average annual premiums paid since its organization, have been $1,500. The lands occupied by the society are leased--value, $7,000.
We have no statistics at hand showing the number of domestic animals in the county, later than the year 1870, and as the numbers then given have been materially changed, we omit them. It will be seen that the county is extensively engaged in the cultivation of grain, particularly wheat, Indian corn, and oats. Large amounts of wool and hay are also produced, and the cultivation of the potato is very extensively carried on.
From the 1770 - 1877 History of Lawrence County by S. W. and P. A. DURANT.
Explanation and Caution | Abbreviations | Lawrence Co. Maps | 1877 Portraits
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Updated: 19 Jan 2001, 12:00