History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania, 1770 - 1877, by S.W. and P.A. Durant.
This is the largest sub-division of Lawrence county, and was one of its original townships. In area it is about twenty-six thousand eight hundred acres. The surface is varied, being in places much broken by hills and ravines, and in others approaching nearer to a level. The latter is the case in the southern and western portions, For agricultural purposes the township is [p. 65] not excelled in Lawrence county. The finest varieties of fruit are also grown, and the crop is nearly always a certainty. Numerous streams abound, affording the necessary water facilities, and on some of them there is excellent power. The principal streams are the Mahoning and Beaver rivers and Hickory creek.
The northeast corner of the township is crossed by the old Lawrence railway, now the Ashtabula, Youngstown and Pittsburgh division of the Pennsylvania railway. The Beaver Valley division of the Erie and Pittsburgh railway crosses the Mahoning near its mouth, and follows the valley of the Beaver river the remaining distance across the township. The only station on this road in North Beaver is Moravia, where a small village has sprung up since the road was built. The most important village in the township is Mount Jackson, and, aside from these two, the inhabitants are almost exclusively engaged in agricultural pursuits.
Asa Adams came from Washington county Pa., sometime previous to the war of 1812, and settled a mile from the State line, in the western part of the township.
Major Edward Wright came from Allegheny county, Pa., in the Spring of 1797, and settled on the farm now owned by his grandson, William Williams. He was originally from New Jersey, and while living there, before he was married, he had bought the two-hundred-acre tract on which he afterward settled, for a horse, bridle and saddle, and was soundly berated by his mother for so doing. The investment, however, proved to be a good one, and the farm is now among the best in Western Pennsylvania. Major Wright built the fourth house that was erected within the limits of North Beaver township. He had been out and hunted up his land in company with the party who were here in 1793.* In 1797, when he came back to the place, he slept the night after his arrival under a walnut tree, which is yet standing.
*See history of Mahoning township.
He built a house of round logs, near a spring just west of the present residence of Mr. Williams. The house was sixteen by eighteen feet in dimensions, and had a common bed-spread or quilt hung up for a door, and a hole left in one corner of the roof through which the smoke could pass. He lived on this farm until May 7, 1849, when he died, aged a few days over eighty years.
Major Wright brought to the township the first apple trees that were set out within it. He hauled forty-five of them from Washington county in 1799, on a "slide car," made of poles. He set out forty of the trees on his own place, gave two of them to a neighbor (Jonathan Leslie, afterwards a Presbyterian minister), two wiles[sic] west, and three to Bryce McGeehan, living near what is now Newburg, in Little Beaver township. Some of the old trees are yet standing on his own place.
Mr. Wright's only child, Sarah, was married to John Williams, in September, 1805, a few months before she was fifteen years old. As she is still living, and bids fair to continue her days for a yet long period, this may be, perhaps, an inducement to other people of a tender age to "go and do likewise." Mr. Williams came from near the Warm Springs, in Virginia, and settled on a farm which his father, Thomas Williams, had bought for him some time before. It lay a mile west of the Wright place. John Williams had been out with his father in 1802, and afterwards came back, and in 1805 married, living for some time with his father-in-law, Major Wright. He moved to his own farm in the Spring of 1812. His brother, Thomas, settled, in 1802, on a farm northeast of Wright's, and lying partly in Mahoning township. His father had purchased the farm for him. Thomas Williams, Sr., never settled in the county. The farms all along the old county line, now the boundary between North Beaver and Mahoning townships, lie partly on each side the line.
Thomas Cloud settled on the farm now owned by Matthew Davidson, and built one of the first four houses in the township.
Walter Clarke came to the farm now owned by Joseph and Sarah McCollum, on the 20th day of October, 1802. He came from near what is now Lewisburg, Snyder county, Pa., with two unmarried daughters, and others of his children and grand children, and his son-in-law. He bought four hundred and fifty acres of land, and divided it among them. His son, John, was married, and had two children; and one daughter was also married and had two children. Her husband's name was Benjamin Wells. There were also two orphan grandchildren, and thus the party was quite large. It included also a colored girl. John Clarke's son, Samuel D. Clarke, is now living on a part of the old farm, west of Mount Jackson. The portion now owned by the McCollums, became the property of Walter Clarke's granddaughter, Eunice Sherer, who was married to William Adair. Ephraim Phillips owned it next, and Mr. McCollum's wife is one of Mr. Phillips' daughters, and the place became her share of the property. It is familiarly known as the "old Phillips farm."
John Clarke left his father's house in the Fall of 1803, and settled for himself on the portion of the four hundred and fifty acres now owned by his son, Samuel D. Clarke.
One of the daughters of Walter Clarke was afterward married to John Nesbit, who was the first settler on the land now occupied by the village of Mount Jackson, and who laid out the town.
William Woods came to the place now owned by the heirs of James Wallace, just west of Mount Jackson, near the present iron bridge across Hickory creek, in 1801. Mr. Woods was originally from Ireland, from whence he came with his brother in 1798, and located in Westmoreland county, Pa.--William afterward coming to the place above-mentioned. He was married in 1801, after he came to North Beaver, to Miss Elizabeth Davidson, who was living with her relatives where the borough of Wampum now stands. Mr. wood's son, William, is now living near Westfield Presbyterian church, south-west of Mount Jackson, and was born in 1808. He bears the military title of Major, having held that rank in the "cornstalk" militia of the township.
William Woods, Sr., built a carding-mill on his place, on Hickory creek (at that time called Sugar creek, owing to the great numbers of "sugar- trees" which grew along it), in 1813; a fulling-mill in 1817, and a distillery in 1821. They are now all removed. The carding-machine and fulling-mill were run till about 1840.
Right here it may be interesting to give a description of the manner in which the "fulling" operation was conducted previous to the erection of machinery for the purpose. We quote from a description given us in Mercer county in the Summer of 1876, but the process was the same in this county. It was one of those "unique customs which would make the belle of 1877 faint to contemplate."
"Before fulling-mills were extensively established, it was common to have "bees" for the fulling of flannel, as for log-rollings and raisings. At these interesting gatherings the bare-footed young men and women would seat themselves in two rows upon the puncheon floor, facing each other, so that the feet of each of the former would just reach those of a fair damsel, the ladies being, of course, gallantly accorded seats with their backs against the wall. The flannel was then well soaked and laid between them, and by successive kicks in concert from each side, the same object was accomplished that was afterward gained by the more modern inventions. There was nothing objectionable in this performance at that time, and nothing vulgar or shocking in the row of graceful ankles, so bare and brown, for propriety is but the slave of popular opinion, and Venus, arrayed like the Tyrian women, 'Nuda genu, modoque sinus collecia fluentis,' appeared no less modest than the American lady of to-day, closely enveloped by the art of the modern dressmaker."
In early days everybody was practiced in the art of horsemanship, and many were the exciting races and adventures participated in by the settlers. On wedding occasions it was customary for them to gather from every direction, sometimes from a distance of over twenty miles. Occasionlly as many as sixty couples were present, and the entire number divided into two parties, called respectively the "bride's company" and the "groom's company;" then everybody mounted, and
"There was racing and chasing on Canoble lea."
The "groom's company" took possession of the "bottle," which was a necessary article at all such gatherings, and both parties had a race for it. Altogether they had sport enough, and enjoyed it as none but people with their limited means of amusement could. These customs were kept up as late as 1801, and possibly longer.
We give a description of a "house warming," as it used to be celebrated in the days before Lawrence county was settled, and possibly many things in it are similar to the same occasions in the history of North Beaver township. The description is an extract from "Doddridge's Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars of Western Virginia and Pennsylvania, together with a View of the State of Society and Manners of the First Settlers of the Western Country." This book was published first in 1824, and relates to the times from 1763 to 1783. The author was Rev. Dr. Joseph Doddridge, and the extract given was printed in Neville B. Craig's Olden Time, at Pittsburgh, in the month of March, 1846. It begins at page 134 of Doddridge's work, and is as follows :
"I will proceed to state the usual manner of settling a young couple in the world. A spot was selected on a piece of land of one of the parents, for their habitation. A day was appointed, shortly after the marriage, for com- [p. 66] mencing the work of building their cabin. The fatigue party consisted choppers, whose business it was to fell the trees and cut them off at proper lengths; a man with a team for hauling them to the place and arranging them, properly assorted, at the sides and ends of the building; and a carpenter, if such he might be called, whose business it was to search the woods for a proper tree for making clapboards for the roof. The tree for this purpose must be straight-grained, and from three to four feet in diameter. The boards were split four feet long, with a large frow, and as wide as the timber would allow. They were used without shaving. Another division was employed in getting puncheons for the floor of the cabin. This was done by splitting trees about eighteen inches in diameter, and hewing the faces of them with a broad-axe. They were half the length of the floor they were intended to make.
"The materials for the cabin were mostly prepared on the first day, and sometimes the foundation laid in the evening. The second day was allotted for the raising.
"In the morning of the next day the neighbors collected for the raising. The first thing to be done was the election of four corner-men, whose, business it was to notch and place the logs. The rest of the company furnished them with the timbers. In the meantime the boards and puncheons were collecting for the floor and roof, so that by the time the cabin was a few rounds high, the sleepers and floor began to be laid. The door was made by sawing or cutting the logs in one side, so as to make an opening about three feet wide. This opening was secured by upright pieces of timber, about three inches thick, through which holes were bored into the ends of the logs, for the purpose of pinning them fast. A similar opening, but wider, was made at the end for the chimney. This was built of logs, and made large, to admit of a back and jambs of stone. At the square, two end-logs projected a foot or eighteen inches beyond the wall, to receive the butting-poles, as they were called, against which the first row of clapboards was supported. The roof was formed by making the end-logs shorter, until a single log formed the comb of the roof. On these logs the clapboards were placed, the ranges of them lapping some distance over those next below them, and kept in their places by logs placed at proper distances upon them.
"The roof, and sometimes the floor, were finished on the same day of the raising. A third day was commonly spent by a few carpentors in leveling off the floor, making a clapboard door and a table. This last was made of a split-slab, and supported by four round logs set in auger-holes. Some three-legged stools were made in the same manner. Some pins stuck in the logs at the back of the house supported some clapboards, which served for shelves for the table-furniture. A single fork, placed with its lower end in a hole in the floor, and the upper end fastened to a joist, served for a bedstead, by placing a pole in the fork, with one end through a crack between the logs of the wall. This front pole was crossed by a shorter one within the fork, with its outer end through another crack. From the front pole, through a crack between the logs of the end of the house, the boards were put on which formed the bottom of the bed. Sometimes other poles were pinned to the fork a little distance above these, for the purpose of supporting the front and foot of the bed, while the walls were the supports of its back and head. A few pegs around the walls, for a display of the coats of the women and hunting-shirts of the men, and two small forks or buck's horns fastened to a joist for the rifle and shot-pouch, completed the carpenter work.
"In the meantime the masons were at work. With the heart-pieces of timber of which the clapboards were made, they made billets for chunking up the cracks between the logs of the cabin and chimney. A large bed of mortar was made for daubing up these cracks. A few stones formed the back and jambs of the chimney.
"The cabin being furnished, the ceremony of the house-warming took place before the young couple were permitted to move into it.
"The house-warming was a dance of a whole night's continuance, made up of the relations of the bride and groom, and their neighbors. On the day following the young couple took possession of their new mansion."
Besides these pastimes there were "log-rollings," "husking-bees," &c., and life among the pioneers was not by any means unenjoyable.
James Kiddoo was an early settler on the farm now occupied by James Brewster, east of Mount Jackson. Kiddoo owned a distillery on Hickory creek, and also had a small mill for grinding the grain he used.
William McCord came originally from Ireland, and, after the Revolution, settled in Allegheny county, Pa. About 1805-6 he came to what is now North Beaver township, and settled on a two-hundred-and-fifty acre tract of "donation land."
In April, 1802, Francis Nesbit came, with his family, and settled on Hickory creek, near where the old mill stands, south of Mount Jackson. The family consisted of his wife, five sons, and two daughters. The sons were John, Francis, William, James and Allen; and the daughters, Elizabeth and Anna. They came from Cumberland county, Pa., although the Nesbits were originally from Scotland. William Espy, who married Elizabeth Nesbit, had settled the previous year, 1801. His son, Thomas Espy, afterward went to North Carolina, and died there. A daughter of his afterward married Governor Vance, of that State. Francis Nesbit gave twenty-five dollars toward the establishment of the old college at Darlington, Beaver county.
William Espy had made arrangements to build a mill, and Mr. Nesbit, who had also been out in 1801, brought out the mill-gearing with him in 1802, and he and Espy built the mill. Espy was a surveyor by profession. They located on Donation tract, number 1786 supposed to contain four hundred acres, but a survey showed that it contained over five hundred.
Mr. Nesbit sold his interest in the mill to Espy, and took all but one hundred acres of the land. Mr. Nesbit died in September, 1802, and was the first person ever buried in the cemetery at Westfield Presbyterian Church. A man named Charles Clarke was the second person buried in it. He was killed while helping John Hunter raise a "still-house" in 1805, near the church. One other man was killed while helping at a similar work in another part of the township.
James Nesbit and his brother, Dr. Allen Nesbit, are the only ones of Francis Nesbit's children now living, and both reside near Mount Jackson. Francis Nesbit divided his land up among his sons before he died. His wife died in 1823. Allen Nesbit was the youngest son, born in 1796, and to him his father gave the old Homestead. He owns and occupies it yet. John, the oldest son, died in 1869, and left his share of the old place to his son, who afterward sold it and went to Missouri, about 1872.
Allen Nesbit finally became a physician of the botanic or Thompsonian schools and got his medical education principally from his sister's library. She married a Presbyterian preacher, who afterward died. Dr. Nesbit lives with his grand children, on the old place. He was chased a quarter of a mile by a panther when thirteen years old, and the fright and race gave him the heart disease. Francis Nesbit, Jr., died on the farm, in 1816. His property was sold, and now belongs to S. Hamilton. William Nesbit lived on his place until his death, which occurred in 1847. The place is now owned by his nephew, James Nesbit, who lives near the United Presbyterian Church. William Nesbit was, during his life, a prominent man. He was a Presbyterian Elder, a Justice of the Peace for a long time, and afterward one of the Associate Judges of Beaver county. He was somewhat read in law, and was a very capable man.
After William Espy became sole proprietor of the grist-mill mentioned, he traded it for a farm, about 1806, to a man named Wylie, who owned it about four years, and traded it to a man named James Boyes. Boyes kept it some eight years, and sold it finally to Elder John Edgar, from Westmoreland county, who had previously started a distillery near Westfield church. Edgar also put a still in operation, in connection with the mill, and was at one time collector of the excise tax. He sent a large lot of whisky to Erie, Pa., for sale, and finally shipped it on a vessel to Canada. The vessel was lost, and Edgar was broken-up in consequence, and sold out by the sheriff--the whole property (one hundred acres of land, the mill, distillery and all), being purchased by James Wallace for eight hundred dollars. Mr. Wallace's son James now owns the old place. Old Mr. Wallace built a new mill after he bought the property, but it has not been running for five or six years, and is now used for a stable.
The Nesbit family, as before stated, came originally from Scotland. John Nesbit, the father of Francis, was born in Roxburghshire, in 1702, and came to Philadelphia previous to the American Revolution, finally settling in Cumberland county. The father of John Nesbit was named Allen Nesbit. The Nesbits were followers of John Knox, and, like other dissenters, suffered persecution from the English Church. Portions of the old families went to Belfast, Ireland.
John Nesbit had made calculations to go to South America, but for some good reason changed his mind, and came to Pennsylvania, probably about 1735.
Francis Nesbit had four brothers--John, James, Allen and William--and all served more or less during the Revolutionary war, in the American army.
The following is an article furnished by Dr. Allen Nesbit to the New Castle Gazette and Democrat, and published in that paper, February 21 1868:
"Allen Nesbit was six years of age when he was brought here by his parents in 1802, from Cumberland County, so that his acquaintance with the [p. 67] history of the county runs back to his earliest recollection. He was a twin, the last of ten children; was born when his mother was fifty years of age, and weighed at his birth just fourteen ounces! In his 72d year (1868), he wrote without the use of glasses, and weighed 135 pounds; could shoulder a sack of wheat or carry a barrel of flour, and never had taken a dose of calomel, diluted iron or vitriolic acid.
"The Nesbit family left a good farm, a brick house, a distillery and malt mill, to live here in a round-log cabin with clapboard roof, loft, floor and door; their bedsteads of the primitive kind, made of small poles laid on forks driven in the ground. A split-log with feet put in answered for a table, small pieces of split wood with feet for chairs, and a couple of leaves of paper greased for glass in the window.
"At the time when the Nesbits came here, there were but two houses (log ones) in Darlington, one of them a tavern partly chinked and daubed. There was then but one house between Darlington and Mount Jackson,* and not a dozen families in the bounds of what is now North Beaver, and part of them were "squatters," who soon moved away. But during the next two or three year twenty or thirty families came in, principally from Cumberland county.
*Bryce McGeehan settled in 1798-99, where Newburg now stands, and helped cut the road through. John and Samuel Sprott, John Beer and others were farther down the route, near Enon Valley.
"The load of 'moving' which the Nesbits brought with them consisted principally of the iron and other fixings for a grist and saw-mill, a barrel of salt, and one of flour, two sets of china cups and saucers, two sets of pewter plates, two pewter dishes and a pewter mush-basin, a cedar churn and a tub. In affectionate memory of the olden time, they brought with them a singularly-built arm chair, that had been brought from Scotland about seventy years before. They soon began to build mills, having to give eighteen dollars per barrel for flour, at Beaver Falls, twenty cents for meat, and a dollar and a quarter per gallon for the whisky, that seems to have been considered as one of the things indispensable at that day, and that was furnished to the hands with the regularity of the bread and meat.
"A bill of fare for breakfast then embraced bread, butter and coffee, a small allowance of pork and of preserved wild-plums or crab-apples, pone or Johny-cake, milk, butter; and perhaps a wild turkey, or leg of venison, or chunk of bear's meat, or a roasted raccoon, for dinner; and corn meal mush, out of that pewter basin, with butter and milk, for supper.
"Johny-cake was a mixture of corn meal, milk, water, and salt (with a little shortening when it could be obtained), made about as thick as the mortar they used to daub their log houses with, and put on a piece of clapboard with a woman's hand, and set up before the fire to bake. A trowel would not answer for spreading it on the board. No substitute would do for a woman's hand, as the hand ornamented the cake with the print of the woman's fingers (and, as the Doctor observes, made it look picturesque!)
"No salæratus or soda was used in those times. Our progenitors knew nothing about such stuff sixty years ago. Far better for the present generation would it have been had we, too, been kept in 'blissful ignorance' of them. The mucous membrane of their stomachs would be worth from 25 to 50 per cent. more than it is at present.
"Then there were no meeting-houses, no preaching, and no graveyard. Francis Nesbit died six or seven months after he came to the county, and was buried in the then woods, where the Westfield graveyard now is. Perhaps this was the first funeral in the township. Near that spot a small log meetinghouse was soon built, and in it there was occasional preaching.
"The appearance of the country was truly beautiful. The rich, loamy appearance of the soil, the density of the forests and thickets, the wonderful multiplicity, variety and gorgeousness of the blossoms and flowers, the exhilerating perfume they sent forth, the continual singing of the birds, the chattering of the many squirrels, the beautiful plumage of the vast flocks of turkeys, and the nimble skipping of the deer and fox, produced a sublimity and grandeur far beyond anything we have now in the cleared fields and meadows into which these forests have been transformed.
"Ere long came the vast profusion of wild fruits. Leading the van came the service-berry, growing luxuriantly on bottoms, flats and hills, and on the shelving banks small bushes bending to the ground with their loads of fruit. Men, birds and animals were fully supplied, and a great many left. Then the strawberry, plum, huckleberry, blackberry, haw, cherry and grape, each added its share to the richness that nature afforded, together with the vast amounts of delicious nuts. The woods abounded in the native (crab) apple, said by the Economites* to be the best fruit for wine on this continent.
*A peculiar sect of people living at Economy, in Beaver county.
"There was a wonderful variety of medicinal herbs, many of whose virtues in curing disease was not well known; neither are they yet appreciated as they ought to be. Then, in thick and broad patches, with its beautiful flower of every conceivable color, and moccasin shape, stood the admirable Cypripedium Pubescens of Linnæus, known to people then by the name of "ladies' slipper," and by the Indians "moccasin flower," being the most powerful nervine in use. There, too, was the Verticillati (golden seal), the best tonic known, with Virginia snake-root, ginseng, and many others of great value. Although extinct here now, there is enough of them in the newer States and territories to cure all diseases that can be cured, without importing those ship-loads of deleterious minerals and other poisons from other quarters of the globe, to crowd down people's throats, sending them prematurely and uncalled-for to the judgment-seat of the Almighty! What stupendous folly! What preposterous insanity for a rational man that the Creator, with all his exhuberant goodness and mercy to the human family in providing, as the Scripture says, enough to satisfy the need of everything that lives, would leave thirty millions in this country without such medicines as would be necessary for them! Never would He do it.
"But we should remark that there was a contrast to the former part of this chapter. In those times the people often met with a straggling panther or bear, wolf or wild-cat, neither of them being very pleasant company, if their young were near. However, we do not know that they ever hurt any of our early settlers, though they very frequently got up a 'big scare.' Then there were a great many venomous snakes, of different kinds, more to be dreaded than wild beasts. They were not at all conservative in the use they made of their teeth, either as offensive or defensive weapons. They struck with amazing swiftness and precision, greatly periling the lives of their victims if some of those powerful balsams of nature were not just at hand.
"For a few years the settlers in the northern part of Beaver county were principally from Eastern Pennsylvania, and some from Allegheny and Washington counties, mostly of Scotch and Irish extraction, and were said by writers to excel in probity and uprightness any community. Dr. Duston, of Darlington, who was the greatest phrenologist in Western Pennsylvania, stated that those Scotch-Irish far excelled the Yankees or Yorkers, though himself a Yankee. He knew them whenever he saw them, by their peculiar cranial and facial developments.
"Soon, however, people came in from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and from different countries of Europe, most of whom were highly respectable, while some were ignorant and degraded, and not calculated to improve society."
In the year 1798 a man who followed hunting and trapping muskrat and otter, settled on the bank of Big Beaver river, near the "large pond."
In 1800 five Families of squatters came to the township.
In 1802 there were twenty-four families living in the township, and the first township election was held that year.
Among those who came to North Beaver in 1801 were William Barnet, Robert Lusk, William Espy, William Mercy, Nicholas Bryant, Leonard Dobbins, William Woods, Joseph Pollock,* John Dunnon, James Applegate, Samuel Semple, John Clelland, James MeKinley, Joseph Jackson and Wm. Ritchie. Of these, the last five families were Finns, and were all related to each other. They formed a kind of clan, and came out together. Jackson was a stone mason and built chimneys, and Semple carried a case of lancets and did bleeding for the settlers whenever he deemed it necessary.
*Another authority says Pollock came in 1800.
One James Miller, afterward an elder of Westfield Church, was one Sunday riding horseback to church, when a large tree fell, the branches at the fork passing on either side of him, without injuring him in the least, but killing his horse on the spot. All the tragical deaths which have occurred in the township were purely accidental, and not a murder has ever been committed within its limits--the whites coming after the Indians were mostly gone.
A distillery was built by Lawrence Dobbins in 1801, in the northeast corner of the township. As early as 1817 there were upward of a dozen distilleries in the township, and as many as thirty have been built altogether. Nothing in that business has been done for more than twenty years, and for nearly that length of time there has been no place for selling liquor in the limits of the township.
In 1876 there was a population of twenty-five hundred, with seven hundred and fifty church-members and four congregations and thirteen schools.
William Carson came from Virginia in the Fall of 1799, and staid that Winter in Allegheny county, Pa. In the Spring of 1800 he brought his family, consisting of his wife and ten children, to the farm in North Beaver now owned by John Alexander. He had hired a hand in Pittsburgh to help him, and they built a cabin and made other improvements. The youngest child, James, was born after they came out, in 1802. Another son, [p. 68] John, is the only one of the children now living, and he has reached the advanced age of eighty-four years.
James Bowles came in 1796, and settled on the Beaver river, on what was afterward known as the Zeigler farm. He left the country previous to the war of 1812. He had been thought by the settlers to be a Tory, and was afterwards found dead somewhere on the bank of the Cuyahoga river, in Ohio, during the war of 1812. It is not known whether he died a natural death or was murdered by Indians, or possibly by some enemy among the whites.
Joseph Pollock came to the township in 1800, and located on one of two farms near where Westfield Presbyterian Church now stands, one of them afterwards belonging to William Nesbit, and the other to William Woods. The Woods place was the one on which he lived. He did not buy the farms, owing to some defect in title. Pollock afterwards moved across the Beaver river into what is now Taylor township. He was an old man, and lived until his death on his farm in the latter township, and was buried on the place. When he removed from North Beaver, he cut his own road through the woods, and it was always afterwards called "Pollock's road."
John Dunnon settled the tract next south of the old Pollock (Wood's) place, in 1801.
John Coleman settled on a tract south of Mount Jackson, in 1801 or 1802. His land laid next north of a tract settled by John Patterson. Mr. Coleman lived to be about one hundred years old, and was buried "with the honors of war" in the United Presbyterian graveyard at Mount Jackson. He had been in one or two skirmishes in the Revolutionary war, and had taken the notion that he must be buried with the honors of war, and accordingly his whim was gratified.
But two men settled in North Beaver township on land they had served for in the Revolution. They were Jacob Justice and Jeremiah Bannon. The latter settled on a place in the northeast part of the township.
Some forty years ago Henry Weon owned a tavern near the same spot, and had considerable custom.[sic]
Jacob Justice came from Franklin county, Pennsylvania, in 1797, to Washington county. He had intended to come the same year to what is now North Beaver township, Lawrence county, but fear of trouble with the Indians deterred him from so doing, and he staid in Washington county until 1799, when he came and settled on land which his warrant as a Revolutionary soldier drew. He lived on the place until his death, which occurred in 1829.
Nicholas Bryant, who came to the township in 1801, settled on a farm in the northwest part now owned by the heirs of Alexander Steele. Mr. Bryant's son, Stephen, is said to have been the first white child ever born in North Beaver township. He is now living in Iowa.
Robert, James and Ebenezer McGowan* came about 1806-08, and Robert and James bought a two-hundred-acre tract of land northeast of the present site of Mount Jackson. Ebenezer located on a farm still farther north. lying partly in what is now Mahoning township, at that in time Mercer county.
*Sometimes spelled McGoun.
The father of Louis Houlitt came to the township in the neighborhood of the year 1800. His was one of a number of families that came originally from France and settled in Connecticut, afterwards coming here. He first settled near the site of Westfield church, and afterwards removed to the north part of the township, where his son Louis is now living at the age of eighty-two.
William Rogers was also an early settler, probably coming about 1810.
Nathaniel White came from Washington county, Pa., about 1804-07, and settled on the farm now owned by his grandson, James White, who lives on the old homestead. Mr. White had nine children in his family altogether, of whom two are yet living--Samuel and Elizabeth, the latter in Ohio. He originally settled two hundred acres.
Richard Sherer settled early in the northwest part of the township.
The Whittenbergers also came early, and located in the western part.
Hugh McKibben came about 1805-06, and purchased several hundred acres of land in the southwest part of the township. He was quite an old man when he settled, and divided his farm up among his children.
James Davidson was also among the early settlers. He located on a farm which had been frequented so much by wild-pigeons that it had been styled pigeon-roost."
The Pitts family came early, and William, Jacob and John bought four- hundred and seventy-nine acres of land. The grandson of William Pitts, William 3d, now owns the old homestead, and William 2d owned it before him.
William McWatty came about 1824-25, and located on land in the western part of the township, purchasing it of James Alcorn. A man named John Shingledecker made the first improvements on the place, which is now owned by Daniel Emrey. One of the McWatty's, Rev. Robert, is now pastor of the Second United Presbyterian Church, at Mercer county.
The farm now owned by Samuel Martin was originally settled by Abrabam Reigle for Samuel Fleming. Reigle went to Ohio, and afterwards came back and died in the township. Mr. Fleming occupied the place until his death.
Elijah Lower came from Center county, Pa., about 1822-23, and located on a farm west of the Martin farm. Mr. Lower bought the land of a man named Painter, who had hired some improvements made upon it. Painter purchased it of a man named Douglass. The first man on the farm was a squatter, one Shuman, who had no title. He built a small cabin on the place. Elijah Lower was born in Philadelphia, and lived to be a little more than one hundred years of age.
Hugh Martin came from the Buffalo Valley, in Union county, Pa., to North Beaver township, in 1829, and located on the farm now owned by David and Catharine Martin, his children. He had visited the country in 1805. After he settled, he lived on the place until his death, which occurred about 1865, when he had reached the age of eighty-two years. The first actual settler on the farm was William McCreary, who came in the neighborhood of 1810.
Samuel Poak came about 1804, and settled on the farm now owned by Robert Brewster. He afterwards owned several hundred acres of land in the vicinity. He came from Lancaster county, Pa., and brought with him his sister, his wife, and two children--twins, a boy and a girl. Thirteen children were born altogether, and the only one living is Ann Poak, whose residence is at Mount Jackson. Robert Brewster's house stands a few rods northeast of where Mr. Poak's old dwelling stood. Mr. Poak had the first title, and was the first actual settler, although a squatter had been on the place and built a small shanty, which was standing when Mr. Poak came.
Dr. Alexander Gillfillan was born in Ireland, in 1784. His grandfather Gillfillan was one of the many driven from Scotland by religions persecution. The doctor's father, James Gillfillan, came to America with three sons and two brothers, Alexander and Thomas, and settled in Allegheny county, Pa., in 1788. Alexander Gillfillan, Sr., remained there, and Thomas went South. James moved to Mercer county. Afterward, Alexander Gillfillan Jr., went back to Allegheny county, to his uncle Alexander's, and while living there received his education under Dr. Peter Mowry, of Pittsburgh. Dr. Gillfillan began to practice in Franklin, Venango county, Pa., and in 1812 came to New Castle, being the second regular physician who located at that place. The doctor became a popular man, and was very successful in his profession. When quite young he united with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He purchased the lot in New Castle upon which the First United Presbyterian Church now stands, and lived upon it during his life in that place. October 21st, 1813, he was married to Elizabeth Patterson, of North Beaver township, and their first child, a son, James Harvey Gillfillan, was born August 3d, 1814. The child only lived three months and died of croup. December 2d, 1815, a daughter was born, and is now the wife of Samuel R. Vance, of North Beaver. She is the mother of eight children, three sons and five daughters. The daughters all married members of the United Presbyterian Church, thus following in the footsteps of their mother, who has been a member of that church for thirty years. Her oldest daughter is now the wife of Robert Brewster, living east of Mount Jackson. The second daughter was married to Rev. J. D. Brownlee, September 4th, 1866, and died March 21st, 1873, of pneumonia, leaving three children, two boys and a girl. The third daughter married J. E. Neven, of Allegheny city. Two of Mrs. Vance's children, both girls, died during one Summer with diphtheria.
Dr. Gillfillan went out as surgeon to Black Rock during the war of 1812- 15. A fever broke out among the soldiers, which was known as the "Black Rock Fever," and proved fatal in almost every case, until Dr. Gillfillan, by hard study night and day, discovered a cure and a preventive. He furnished the prescription to all the leading surgeons in the army, without receiving any compensation therefor. Many of the men who had contracted the disease in the army took it home, and their families were attacked with it also. Hearing of Dr. Gillfillan's great success in the treatment of it, they sent for him "from near and from far." The father and aunt of Mr. Reed Emery (who lives in New Castle), then living at Harlansburg, in Scott township, were attacked by this disease, and cured by Dr. Gillfillan.
Dr. Gillfillan was drowned in the Neshannock creek, at New Castle, just below Raney's mill, June 17th, 1815, while helping haul a fishing seine. [p. 69] A number of the leading men of the place were also in the party. Joseph Justice, now living in New Castle, nearly lost his life on the same occasion, while endeavoring to rescue the doctor.
His death was deeply mourned by all who knew him, and those who were then living and were acquainted with him, still fondly cherish his memory. His remains lie in the old New Castle graveyard.
His widow, in 1821, was married to Benjamin Blackburn, who lived in Ohio, and the couple lived together fifty-four years. Mr. Blackburn died in 1875. His widow is now eighty-two years of age, and bids fair to live many years longer. In her life she has seen seven generations in the family, four now living. Her parents were named Patterson; her grandparents, Clendennin; her great-grandparents, Colwell; her great-great-grandparents, More; and her great-great-great-grandparents, Sprucebank. Mrs. Blackburn (Gillfillan), was born March 25th, 1795.
John Patterson came to the township in the Spring of 1801, and settled south of what is now Mount Jackson, on the farm now owned by Major James Patterson. During the Spring he built a cabin, made a small clearing, and planted some corn and potatoes, and went back after his family, which he brought out with him in the Fall. The family then consisted of his wife and four children--three girls and one boy; one of the girls, Elizabeth, before mentioned as having afterward married Dr. Gillfillan.
An old bear had his home in a large chestnut tree which stood on Mr. Patterson's place, and while he was away after his family, bruin took a sudden notion that he wanted some corn, and acting on the subject, immediately came down from his perch, and finished the corn-field completely, after it had grown a few inches.
In those days they went to Beaver town to mill, packing their grists on horseback, it being before the Nesbit & Espy mill was built at Mount Jackson.
Mr. Patterson was a wheelwright, and brought his tools along with him. For breaking corn he put up what was called a "hominy-block;" a log was hollowed, and a long sweep with an iron wedge driven in the end, rigged up with which to pound the corn. This was used for a number of years. For a sieve they stretched a sheep-skin they had brought along with them over a hoop, and punched holes through it. Though a very rude affair, it was used for some years.
Mr. Patterson, after some time, put up a blacksmith shop. No coal was then known, but finally a bank was discovered near Lindsay Robinson's place, and not knowing there was coal in his own neighborhood, Mr. Patterson took a bag and went after coal to that bank, bringing it home on horseback.
The first chimney he built was of logs, and only extended a few feet from the ground. Near-by the coal bank was a sandstone quarry, and there Mr. Patterson procured stone, and hired a man named Thompson to build a second chimney for him. Thompson was afterward drowned while crossing the Beaver river, near Moravia.
In the stone-quarry mentioned, rattlesnakes abounded in large numbers, and early in the Spring were very stupid and easily killed.
The first table the Patterson family had, was an old chest, which was used for some time, and finally Mr. P. procured a couple of walnut boards, and with them made a table. He also made chairs, and some of them made sixty or seventy years ago are yet in use. Their first floor was simply the convenient one of earth, and their bedstead made of split chestnut timber, with feet in. Finally a puncheon floor was laid, a table and a cupboard manufactured, and other improvements made as fast as he could get to them.
Robert Brewster came originally from Ireland, and settled in Washington county, Pa., where he was married. In the neighborhood of 1800, he came to what is now Little Beaver township, Lawrence county, and staid there until about 1806-8, when he removed to North Beaver, and located on one hundred acres of land which he bought. The farm is now owned by his son, Robert Brewster, who lives on a portion of the old Samuel Poak property. When Mr. Brewster was "coming through the wilderness," he slept on the frosty ground, and exposed himself to such a degree that he contracted the rheumatism, which was finally the cause of his death. He died October 22, 1850, in his eightieth year.
The farm now owned by S. R. Vance was originally improved by Caleb Jones, who had squatted on it, thinking it was a vacant tract, which it finally proved not to be. Jones had a grist-mill on the place, which he built previous to 1812, and operated for a number of years, doing a large business. The mill was a log structure. Before Jones found out that he was not on a vacant tract (which was not till the Summer of 1838), he had made arrangements to build another mill, and had commenced to tunnel the point of the hill, intending to put a mill-race through. The tunnel would have been some ten or fifteen rods long, and he would have had a powerful fall of nearly eighty feet. He was obliged, however, to quit the place, as an owner had been found. Mr. Vance purchased a portion of the tract in 1839, including the mill-site. He took the machinery out of the mill and put in a set of cards, and operated the carding-mill for about seven years.
Mr. Vance's grandfather, Robert Vance, was a major, in the Revolutionary army, and served seven years. He at one time raised a company during the Revolution, and from their uniform they were called "Bucktails." From that circumstance it is said that the Pennsylvania regiment known as the "Bucktails" during the rebellion, took its name. Robert Vance settled in Allegheny county after the Revolution, probably about 1790, and was from the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia, which felt the shock of battle and the tramp of armed hosts during the late rebellion.
Major Vance's son, David Vance, was one of the notable river men of early times, and operated a keel-boat line between Pittsburgh and "Limestone," now Maysville, Kentucky--making occasional trips to Cincinnati, Louisville, New Orleans and other points on the rivers. His cousin, Aaron Hart, was his partner in business. Hart's brother, John Hart, of New Jersey was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Major Robert Vance commanded a battery at the battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777, and used to tell that one of the brass guns was fired so fast that it became heated so hot as to blow molten metal from the mouth at every discharge. The gun is said to be on Bunker Hill monument, and upon it is an inscription tallying with the major's version. It is probable that in firing, the shells scraped the metal so that at the muzzle it was rough and curled, but it seems impossible that it should melt, because it could not be charged, if such were the case, without probably bursting the gun.
About 1830 a grist-mill was built on Hickory creek by Thomas Clelland, some distance above the old Jones' mill, and nearly two miles below Mount Jackson. It stood near the spot where the covered bridge now spans the creek. It was a three-story frame building with a stone basement, and was run till about 1851-52, when a flood in the creek washed away the old log dam, and the mill was never used afterward. A man named Wilson finally purchased an interest in the property, and built the stone abutments now standing, intending to build a horse-shoe dam and go on with the business. He never completed his work, however, and the mill stood as it was until about 1873-74, when it mysteriously caught fire and was burned down.
James Fullerton came from Cumberland county, Pa., with his wife and a colored girl, in the Spring of 1801, and settled the farm where his son, Robert Fullerton, now lives. Mr. Fullerton had been here in 1800, and built a cabin. The first child born in the family was a daughter, Mary, since dead, whose birth occurred in the latter part of the year 1801. In 1802 Mr. and Mrs. Fullerton went horseback across the mountains on a visit, and the jaunt was so hard on the babe, which they carried with them, that it did not grow any for a year or more, and was always weakly afterward. At that time the land where Allegheny now stands was a brushy plain, with but few houses scattered over it, and they were built of logs.
Mr. Fullerton had several cows, and one day a huge panther undertook to capture a calf which was with them, but the cattle formed a circle around the calf, and by gradually moving ahead, at last reached home in safety, having kept the panther off by a formidable display of horns, which thwarted his bloodthirsty purpose.
John Sterrett bought seven acres of land of James Fullerton, about 1812- 15, and started a tannery, but never made it profitable. Several others tried it, with a like result, until 1834, when Mr. Fullerton's son Robert took it, and, with the exception of the time from about 1859 to 1865, has run it ever since very successfully.
John and George Douglass came not long after Mr. Fullerton, and settled on a farm north of him. John Douglass afterward went to Petersburg, Mahoning county, Ohio, and opened a tavern. The old John Douglass homestead is now owned by Daniel Davidson, and the George Douglass place by a man named Norwood.
James Hope settled south of the Fullerton farm, about 1799 or 1800, his place running nearly to the present line between North Beaver and Little Beaver townships.
Fire clay, and oil, are found in the township, also occasional floating quantities of galena or lead ore. The latter does not abound in large quantities, so far as discovered. Along Hickory creek three veins of coal have been opened, the upper one about two feet thick, the next one three, and the next two. A fourth vein is still lower down, near the level of the creek. The iron ore is found in several veins, and of three different qualities--the red, blue, and honey-comb. Petroleum is known to exist, in greater or less quantities, [p. 70] in the Hickory-creek region. Coal banks are worked in various localities in the township.
Traces of the old Indian trail from Moravia to the village of Kush-kush- kee (Edenburg), are yet seen in a few places, and quite plainly on the farm of Samuel R. Vance, where it ran along the top of the ridge or "back-bone," for some distance between Hickory creek and the Big Run.
The oldest road in the township which was cut through by white people is the New Castle and Beaver road, commonly called the "Beaver road." This was opened as early as 1800, and crossed Hickory creek near its mouth, at the same place it does at present. It had nearly the same route, and ran along the bottom lands on the west side of the river.
What is known as the "Small's Ferry Road" was laid out very early, and was the first one in that part of the township. It was opened by Major Edward Wright, Bryce McGeehan, and others of the people then living, and crossed the Mahoning river at Small's Ferry, which gave it name. This was previous to the war of 1812. People passing between Youngstown and Beavertown traveled the road, which was very crooked, and laid to accommodate the settlers along the route.
Previous to the time roads were cut through, the only paths were trails through the forest, or tracks along which the trees were blazed so the people might not lose their way. These were especially the kind which the children had to follow in going and coming from school, sometimes two or three miles away.
REVOLUTIONARY WAR.--William McCord, who afterward settled in North Beaver township, came originally from Ireland, and served several years in the Revolution.
James Alsworth served a short time as a volunteer during the Revolution.
Francis, John, James, Allen and William Nesbit all served in the Revolution. Allen was taken prisoner in General Gates' celebrated campaign in South Carolina, and died in the hands of the British. He was said to have been poisoned. Francis was the only one who ever came to Lawrence county.
William Carson served two years in the American army, and was in the battles of Germantown and Brandywine.
John Coleman was out in a few skirmishes,
Jeremiah Bannon and Jacob Justice settled in North Beaver township, and were the only men who settled in it who had served in the Revolution.
WAR OF 1812.--At the commencement of this war a volunteer company was raised, probably by Captain John Fisher, of New Castle, and participated in the engagements in Canada, some of the men afterward volunteering to go on board Perry's fleet during his memorable action on Lake Erie with the British fleet, September 10th, 1813. After Hull's surrender of Detroit in August, 1812, another company was raised and started for the seat of war, but learning they were not needed, the men returned home. Besides these there were two drafts made for six months each. One company, principally from what was then North Beaver township, went to Erie on foot, carrying their guns and provisions. This was commanded by Captain David Clark, whose father settled in what is now Little Beaver township. In 1815 a company was organized in North Beaver and Little Beaver townships, and furnished with arms, but was not called out, owing to the conclusion of peace shortly after. Of this company but four members are now living.
Of those who went out in this war, the following are the names we have found:
Asa Adams, William Rogers and James McKibben.
Edward Wright had served as a captain of militia before the war, and during it served as major, going to Black Rock, &c.
John and Thomas Williams were out at Erie. John Williams helped work Perry's fleet over the bar.
John Carson, now living, was out in the Winter of 1814 at Erie.
Nathaniel and David White, sons of Nathaniel White, also went to Erie.
John S. Benjamin and James Alworth went to Erie and Black Rock.
SEMINOLE WAR IN FLORIDA--Capt. Francis Nesbit, now living at Mount Jackson, went out in a regiment from New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1835, and participated in the Seminole war. Mr. Nesbit was in New Orleans at the time, and enlisted from that place. His regiment was commanded by Colonel Persifer F. Smith, and the company he was in was commanded by Captain William Marks. Colonel Smith afterwards entered the regular army and died on the Western frontier.
MILITIA AND RIFLE COMPANIES were organized after the war of 1812, and kept up for many years. In what was originally North Beaver township, four militia companies (one battalion) were organized, and held their annual reviews usually at Mount Jackson, although occasionally going to Darlington, Beaver county here they reviewed with another battalion, the two forming a regiment. These companies were known as "cornstalk militia," from the fact that they drilled with cornstalks and sticks.
There were also four companies of volunteer riflemen--one from Edenburg, one from Newburg, one from Mount Jackson and one from "Coontown," or Newport. These companies held their musters at Mount Jackson, and such occasions were grand gala days for the boys. The Mount Jackson company was called the "Jackson Guards," and had a uniform consisting of citizen's blue coat, white pants, red sash, and white feather with red top, in the hat. The other rifle companies were similarly uniformed. One of them was the "Marion Guards;" another, commanded by Captain Archibald Reed, and a third commanded by Captain Kirk. The volunteer companies were named, and the militia companies numbered. The latter began training about 1837-38.
WAR OF THE REBELLION.--North Beaver furnished a large number of men for different organizations during the rebellion. Among them was a company of sixty men, who enlisted for "three years or during the war," which was afterwards known as Battery B, of the First Pennsylvania Artillery, (43d Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers).
A school-house was built in 1802 or 1803, of round logs, and stood just across the line in Ohio, opposite the southwest corner of what is now Mahoning township. A Methodist preacher named Ross taught in it. On the same ground a second house, also of logs, was built about 1818, and afterward another one, which was a frame building, and used until about 1840, when the location was abandoned for school purposes.
A log school-house was built on the Alsworth tract, the land now owned by Mrs. Hannah, about 1805-6. The first teacher was James Leslie.
In the Mount Jackson neighborhood the first school-house was built about 1802, near the site of Westfield Church. It was a log building, and had an old man for a teacher. His name is now forgotten. Bears were so thick that some of the families would not allow their children to attend after the first week, for fear some prowling beast might come upon them and render them forever oblivious to schools and schooling. Mrs. John Patterson was one of the prudent women of the times, and as she feared bears more than she did the Spirit of Darkness, she allowed her children to go but a few days. "Blazes" were cut on the trees for them to follow, there being no paths or roads through the woods.
A school-house was built on John Patterson's place about 1805-6, also of logs. Peter Boss, who boarded with Mr. Patterson, taught in it first, and Mrs. P.'s children had a much shorter distance to go.
A school-house was built of round logs on what is now the Daniel Davidson property, about 1810-12. The building was erected by the McCrearys, who before this had schools in their own houses. McCreary had a still-house near by, and during intermissions the teachers in the old school-house were accustomed to go to the still and take their regular drams. This was indeed convenient, but such a practice among school-teachers to-day would ruin all their hopes of future prosperity, and fit them immediately for lives of degradation, while in those days nothing was thought strange in such a performance.
Another school-house was built of hewed logs near the same spot, and James White taught in it. It was heated by a "ten-plate stove," one of the first in the vicinity.
A log school-house was built about 1806-7, near the Bethel United Presbyterian Church, and was probably used afterward as a "Session house" by the Bethel congregation. A man named Thomas McMullen taught in this building, but was not the first. His mother lived on a farm cornering on the southwest with the Fullerton farm.
Another log school-house was built on the farm then owned by John and Archibald Stewart, and afterwards by Robert Fullerton. This was built about 1804-5, and a man named Hassan taught in it.
In 1875 there were fourteen schools in the township, with an enrollment of two hundred and eighty-four males, and two hundred and seventeen females, and an average attendance of three hundred and three.
Westfield Church is located in North Beaver township, one mile and a half west of Mount Jackson. It is, the oldest church in the township. It was organized in the Spring of 1803, by a committee of the Presbytery of Erie. At its organization it consisted of twenty-two members, including thirteen families. [p. 71] The forming of a church in this community was first "talked over at a log-rolling, or the raising of a log house."
The ground upon which the church building now stands was donated for church and burial purposes in the year 1802, by Messrs. Charles and Walter Clark.
HOUSES OF WORSHIP.--There have been erected on this ground, and near the same spot, no less than six different houses or places of worship. The first was a round-log cabin, 20x24 feet. The fathers built this in the year 1803-4. It was covered with clapboards; had puncheons for floor and seats, and was without either fire-place or stove. Before long the log church was too contracted to hold the congregation. This led the people at an early date to erect what was called "The Tent."*
*"The Tent" was constructed of lumber sufficiently large to cover the ministers from the sun and storms, while the congregation sat on logs under the trees.
In 1817 or 1818 steps were taken toward the building of a frame church. This house was not finished till 1823. Its dimensions were 36x40 feet. It was heated with a ten-plate stove, and was quite comfortable in its arrangements, for that day. Money was exceedingly scarce about this time, and all the subscriptions for completing the house were either so many feet of boards, so many bushels of wheat, corn or rye, or so many gallons of whisky. The whisky subscriptions varied from three gallons up to fifteen gallons each.
The congregation increasing, the frame building was soon too small to contain the worshipers.
In the year 1829 it was resolved to build a new and more commiodious house. After about three years of toils and difficulties and drawbacks, a large brick church, 45x70 feet, was completed. This was at that time considered one of the finest houses of worship in this section of the country, But after thirty years it became somewhat dilapidated.
In 1862 a frame church of more modern style was erected. This church was dedicated the 8th of January, 1863; and on the 8th of January, 1872, it accidentally caught fire, and was consumed to ashes.
Before the embers of the burnt church were cold, it was resolved to rebuild; and on the 8th of January, 1873, just one year, to the day, after the burning of the former house, and just ten years, to the day, after its dedication, the present house was dedicated to the worship and service of the living God. Its dimension are 45x85 feet. It is a frame building, and finished inside with natural woods. It is Gothic in its architure; has stained- glass windows, and is heated by furnaces underneath. It has a spire and Meneely bell; contains two vestibules, and a lecture and session-room. It is better arranged, more commodious, and much more handsome than any of its numerous predecessors.
PASTORS.--Since its organization, or during almost three-quarters of a century, Westfield has only had five pastors. The first was the Rev. Nicholas Pittinger. He labored in this church one-half of his time, from October 24, 1804, until September 13, 1809. The Rev. James Wright, the second pastor, began his labors, for half the time, June 26, 1816. In 1831 he gave up Poland congregation, his other charge, and gave Westfield all his time. His health failing, he resigned January 12, 1842, after a pastorate of nearly twenty-six years. March 30, 1843, he entered into the heavenly rest. His remains lie buried close by the spot where he so long preached the Gospel of Christ.
The next pastor was the Rev. Algernon Sydney MacMaster. His pastorate continued from April 12, 1843, till November 9, 1854. Since then Dr. MacMaster has been pastor of the Poland Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Thomas B. Scott was pastor from September 8, 1857, till June 19, 1860. He is at present preaching near Galesburg, Illinois.
The fifth pastor is the Rev. Wm. M. Taylor. He was ordained and installed by the Presbytery of Beaver (now Shenango), June 12th, 1861. For sixteen years he has ministered to the Congregation of Westfield. He is now the longest-settled pastor, with one or two exceptions, in the county.
ELDERS, DEACONS AND MEMBERSHIP.--This church has been served by twenty-four elders since its organization. Most of these have gone to meet with the elders around the throne. Since the year 1840 it has also had a Board of Deacons.
Some idea of the numbers and growth of the church membership may be gained from the following figures: At the organization in 1803, as already noted, the membership was 22; in 1815, it was 100; in 1838, it was 165; in 1848, it was 183; in 1854, it was 185; in 1860, it was 215; and in 1876, it was 360. It should be remembered that during all these years many moved to the West; many others were dismissed to aid in forming other, more recent, neighboring congregations; and a great part of two generations have gone up to swell the numbers of the Church triumphant.
Westfield has never been blessed with any very remarkable revivals of religion. The people have enjoyed a number of "times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord," but the growth of the church has been rather by frequent and regular additions, than by large numbers at long intervals. During the last fifteen years there has been an average annual increase of eighteen members on profession, and ten on certificate. That is, twenty- eight in all, each year. We cannot make this record complete, without stopping to say, thanks be to "God, that giveth the increase." I Cor., 3, 7.
The church has also grown in her benevolent contributions and spiritual activities. The pastor is liberally supported, and hundreds of dollars are given each year to aid in various missionary operations. The Sabbath-school numbers three hundred and fifty members. There are at present connected with the church, a Young Men's Christian Association, a Ladies' Missionary Society, and eight regular prayer meetings.
Rev. William M. Taylor, pastor.
Is the second in age in the township, and must have been organized about 1805-6. It was originally organized as a Seceder or Associate Presbyterian Congregation, and its first meetings held in William and John Truesdell's barn. Rev. David R. Imbrie was the first minister, and became their first settled pastor. He had charge for a long term, and his work was suddenly ended by his death, which occurred from heart disease, while on his way to church.
The second pastor was Rev. John W. Harsha; the third, Rev. Samuel Alexander, and the fourth, Rev. J. S. Dice, who is the present pastor.
The first elders were Bryce McGeehan, Nathaniel Hammill, Thomas Hogg (or Hoge), and, possibly, Robert Caldwell. John Hammill and William Miller were also early elders, and afterward came to the United Presbyterian congregation at Mount Jackson, where they finally died.
During Rev. Mr. Alexander's pastorate, a Sabbath-school was organized.
Their first church was a cheap log building, erected a year or two after their organization. They probably used the old schoolhouse as a room in which to hold their "session-meetings."
Their second church was a frame building, erected about 1816-17. It stood a long time, and finally gave place to the neat frame church now occupied by the congregation.
This town was laid out by John Nesbit, on his share of the old farm, about 1815. It was named in honor of General Andrew Jackson, who had on the 8th of January of that year, gained a signal victory over the British troops under General Packenham, at New Orleans, in which battle the British leader was killed.
The first house on the town plat was built by William Henry, who had been living on Hickory creek, west of the place where Dr. Allen Nesbit now lives, and had kept a store there. When the town was laid out, he removed to it, built a house, and opened his store in it.
George Eccles began blacksmithing soon afterward, and was the first blacksmith in the village.
Joseph Hughes probably had the first wagon-shop, and Robert McCandless opened the next one.
Benjamin Wells started the shoemaking business, and Samuel Lane (a descendant of the Finns, who, in company with the Swedes, settled in Dela- ware, in 1638), came at nearly the same time. Lane was a tall, slim man, and exceedingly polite.
Matthew A. Calvin built the second house in town, and opened a tavern. He had been teaching school previous to this, in New Castle. He was a lame man, and had his tavern built very soon after Mount Jackson was laid out. He had a son who afterwards became a physician, and went to Mercer county. Calvin kept the tavern about twenty years, and finally went also to Mercer county.
All the early taverns kept bars; and a well-known gentleman, who at one time had a tavern in the place, agreed to sign the pledge, and quit selling liquor at his house, if the people would buy the stock he had on hand, and pay him for it. This they did, and emptied the liquor out on the snow, and tried to burn it. It was fire-proof, however, and the boys who were fond of their cups, came and ate the snow to get the whisky out of it!
Robert Tait came to Mount Jackson about 1831, and in 1835 moved into the house where he now lives, and opened a tavern, and also carried on the hatting business. Before he came, William Miller had a shop also, and worked at the hatting business, but finally discontinued it. Mr. Tait carried it on a number of years, making several varieties of hats, from fur to silk. Miller never made silk hats. Journeymen hatters were always kept [p. 72] at work. For one year David McConahy worked at the business with Mr. Tait.
Mr. Tait's father, Samuel Tait, came from Ireland, and in 1809 or '10 located on the farm now owned by Joseph Dickson. Mr. Tait was the first settler on the place.
A post-office was established at Mount Jackson about 1817, with William Henry as the first postmaster. Before the office was established it was necessary to go to New Castle for mail, that being the nearest post-office, and five miles distant. Mount Jackson was laid out purposely to secure a post-office. The second postmaster was John Ferguson, Esq., and since him those who have held the position are Dr. Robert McClelland, James Shearer, Thomas Clelland (or Cleland), John L. Hayes, George Cooper, and Robert Tait, the latter being the present incumbent.
The first physician in the place was a mineral doctor,* named Robert Smith. Following him came Dr. Robert McClelland, also a mineral doctor. Dr. McClelland was an old school-mate of Dr. Allen Nesbit, and was persuaded by him to come to the place. Dr. Nesbit began practicing on the Botanic or Thompsonian system, while Dr. McClelland was at the place, and has kept up his practice until within the past ten or fifteen years. The Doctor has always been very successful.
*Probably these men were Allopathists.
A log schoolhouse was built about 18l5-16, where Louis Etter's wagon-shop now stands, and was the first one in the town. The ground was reserved by John Nesbit for school purposes when he laid out the town.
The first tannery in the vicinity was built half a mile south of the town, about 1822, by John Justice, who afterward removed to Ohio. Another was built about 1832 by William Alcorn. This was in town, and stood on the ground now occupied by the tannery of Henry Weyman.
John Camblin has a planing-mill a short distance east of town, which was built in 1875.
John Young, living near Norristown, Pennsylvania, purchased the soldier's warrant for the farm now owned partly by Rev. Richard M. Bear's father. Jacob Bear was the first actual settler on it, in 1825. Previous to this, other persons had "squatted" on the place, but none of them had a title.
Mr. Young never came to the county. He finally died, and his widow married a Mr. Moorhead, father of General J. K. Moorhead, of Pittsburgh; and two brothers of the latter, living in Philadelphia.
In 1876 the population of Mount Jackson was one-hundred and forty- two. The town is located on the summit of one of the highest hills in the neighborhood, having a steep descent on the west and south towards Hickory creek, and stretching off on a comparative plane towards the east and north. The place contains several stores, and has some neat and cosy residences and a substantial school building, the latter being in the north part of town. It is the house originally erected by the members of the Free Presbyterian Church.
UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT MOUNT JACKSON.--About the year 1820 or 1822 there were in the vicinity of Mount Jackson a number of persons who had elsewhere been members or adherents of what was then called the "Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America." These persons occasionally secured the services of itinerant ministers, who would preach a day or two at a time in a barn or private house to those who were disposed to attend. From such small beginnings, in the course of two or three years, a congregation of perhaps twenty-five members was organized.
About this time the services of a missionary--one John Norwood--recently from Ireland, were secured for one-third of his time. After serving for one year in this capacity, he was settled in the Spring of 1826 as permanent pastor for one-third of his time.
At that time there were, perhaps, thirty or thirty-five members. Among these the names most prominent were the Millers, Chambers, Kyles, Hammils, Davidsons, Alcorns, Blackburns, &c.
During the Summer of 1825 the first church building was erected. It was a frame. Mr. Norwood resigned his charge in 1833, and for four years subsequently the congregation was without a pastor.
In October, 1837, Mr. John Neil, a young man from Washington county, Pa., who had just finished his theological studies, became pastor and remained until about the beginning of the year 1860. Under his pastoral care the congregation increased from thirty-five members to one hundred and forty, and became able to support a pastor for his whole time.
In 1857 a new frame church building, 40 by 50 feet, was erected at a cost of between two or three thousand dollars. This building is still occupied by the congregation.
In the year 1858, at the consummation of the union between the Associate and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Churches, this congregation, in common with all others in the Associate Reformed Church, became a United Presbyterian Church.
After Mr. Neil gave up the charge, the congregation was without a pastor for over a year, when the Rev. Cyrus Cummins became pastor, and for eight years faithfully performed the duties devolving upon him. He then resigned his charge, leaving the congregation much the same as when he became pastor.
After an interval of about one year the present pastor, Rev. R. R. McClelland, having finished his course in Allegheny Seminary, took charge of the congregation in October, 1870. Since that date, although the congregation has suffered from an unusual mortality among its leading members, yet it has increased in numbers and good works. In 1870 there were 160, members; now (1877) there are more than 200. In 1870 about $1,200 were raised for all purposes; now there are $1,600 or $1,700 raised.
The building occupied by this congregation is located half a mile south of the village, on the south side of Hickory creek.
THE FREE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH was organized in 1846. For some years previous to that time, there had been a strong anti-slavery sentiment prevailing in the minds of quite a number of the members of the Presbyterian Church at Westfield. The views and feelings of the anti-slavery party were strongly opposed by the pastor, Rev. Algernon Sydney McMaster, and other members of the Westfield Church. That opposition, together with the action of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, which met at Cincinnati in the Spring of 1845, on the subject of slavery, were the chief causes which induced the anti-slavery party to withdraw from the followship of the Westfield Church. The new organization numbered about fifty members in full communion. Rev. J. D. Whelan, Rev. Wells Bushnell and Rev. George McElhany were the successive pastors in the order in which they are named; and John Davidson, William Alsworth, William McClelland, S. D. Clarke, James Gailey and Ebenezer Byers were ruling elders.
The civil war which followed the secession of the Southern States, having resulted in the abolition of slavery, and the action of the general assemblies of the Presbyterian Church, which met in 1864, 1865 and 1866, having, in some good measure, removed the causes of the separation, the members of the Free Church almost unanimously resolved to dissolve their organization and unite with other sister churches. The above resolution was adopted in June, 1866, after having maintained their organization for nearly twenty years. Nearly all the members went back to the church from which they had separated.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.--The pioneer Methodist, at Mount Jackson, was Jacob Bear, who came from Northumberland county, Pa., with his family, in 1825. Mr. Bear was born in the Buffalo Valley, in Union county.
Through Mr. Bear's efforts, a class was organized at Mount Jackson about 1838, by Rev. Rufus Parker. Rev. S. P. Hempstead was then with Mr. Parker on the circuit. Previous to the organization of the class, meetings were held as early as 1828 at Mr. Bear's house. Mr. Bear was one of the first Associate Judges of Lawrence county, the other being Charles T. Whippo.
When the Methodist class was organized, its firrt leader was Richard M. Bear, and William Marrs was the second. Some of the members of this class were Jacob Bear and wife, Charles, Richard M. and William Bear (in fact, most of the family), Robert Tait and wife, Mrs. Martha Tait, Thomas B. Tait, William Marrs, and a number of others who have since moved away. This class was organized some three or four years before the church was built. A Sabbath-school was organized early, and has been kept up most of the time since.
The church, a frame building, was erected about 1842, on land purchased from John Nesbit, who laid out the town. It has since been repaired and remodeled, and is yet standing. The present membership is about eighty.
Several men who have since been leading men in the Methodist Episcopal Church in other places, first joined it at this place. Four ministers have gone forth from among the original members of this church--Revs. Richard M., William and Charles Bear, and T. B. Tait.
Since Mr. Parker's time the pastors have been nearly as follows: Revs. John Luccock and S. W. Ingraham, who remained two years; Thos. Stubbs and D. W. Vorce, two years; John W. Hill and John R. Lyon, one year; Henry Winans, two years; John Graham, two years; William Monks, two years; S. L. Wilkinson, one year; Thomas Radcliffe, one year; T. G. McCreary; Stephen Hurd, one year; S. K. Paden, one year; J. G. Thompson, [p. 73] two years; J. B. Grover, one year; D. A. Crowell, one year; Wm. Bramfield, three years; Louis Wick, two years; Richard M. Bear, the present pastor. If these are not in their exact order, they are very near it, and probably all are named who have ministered to the congregation. Many of these preachers are dead, and the rest are scattered through various parts of the land.
Here is the site of the old Moravian missions, founded in 1770, and originally located on the broad bottom-land on the east side of the river. It is said that when the missionaries and their converts were coming up the Beaver they passed, near where Newport now stands, a village of Indian maidens who were all single, and pledged never to marry. The village was moved from the east to the west side of the river, because the former locality was too low and unhealthy. The western town stood a short distance north of the present Moravia station, and there the Moravians staid until 1773, when they removed to the Tuscarawas Valley, in Ohio.*
*See History of First Presbyterian Church of New Castle.
Long after the Christian Indians had left the locality, and after subsequent Indian troubles, the region was again settled by whites, and this time permanently.
About 1798 William Forbes settled just below the present village, and built a grist-mill and a saw-mill on the Beaver river. The mills were built in the latter part of the year 1800 or early in 1801. They were rude structures of logs, and the first in the neighborbood. The grist-mill had one run of stone, and the bolting-machine was run by a crank turned by hand. Mr. Forbes operated the mill for sometime, and it was finally abandoned and none ever built on the spot afterward. The dam was nearly half a mile above the mill, and the construction of it and the digging of the mill-race must have required an immense amount of labor. Mr. Forbes held the office of Justice of the Peace, and died sometime before the war of 1812.
James Alsworth came from Franklin county, Pa., in November, 1804, with his wife and six children, and located on the farm lately owned by James McMillan, and since sold to ____ Shaffer. Three children were born in the family after they arrived. The youngest of the six children who came with their parents was William Alsworth, now living at Moravia. James Alsworth settled a two-hundred-acre tract and made the first improvements upon it. Of the six children who came originally, William is the only one living. Those born afterward, three girls, are all living.
The village of Moravia was laid out by David W. D. Freeman, about 1863-64, soon after the Beaver railway was opened for travel. The place has at present about fifty inhabitants. There are in the village one store, one blacksmith shop, one shoe-shop, one carpenter-shop, one wagon-shop, and one grist-mill, the latter built some sometime previous to the year 1830, by Messrs. Robinson and Phillips.
The town has a fine location on the hill above the river, commanding a view both up and down the stream and across the fertile "bottoms" on the eastern shore. The Erie and Pittsburgh railway affords shipping and traveling facilities, and the town, though yet small, has a wide future before it, in which to become equal in importance to its sister towns in the county.
From the 1770 - 1877 History of Lawrence County by S. W. and P. A. DURANT.
Explanation and Caution | Abbreviations | Lawrence Co. Maps | 1877 Portraits
Previous Section | Next Section
Table of Contents
Updated: 28 Dec 2000, 17:40