History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania, 1770 - 1877, by S.W. and P.A. Durant.
[p. 17] The history of New Castle, as the home of a civilized community, dates back to the early part of the year 1798; but before the white man trod the hills and valleys of Western Pennsylvania, before even the restless and adventurous pioneers and avant couriers of the English and French Colonies had begun to make their appearance here, the red race, familiarly known as the American Indians, had for unknown ages occupied the soil and followed the wild and untamed pursuits of barbarian life--the chase and the war path. On the ground where New Castle now stands a powerful chief or "king" of the Delawares, or, as they were known by their Indian title, the Lenape, had his headquarters. He was called Pack-an-ke in the Delaware tongue, and most probably answered to the name of "King Beaver" among the white adventurers of the early days. We find Christian Frederick Post speaking of this man in the journal which he kept of his adventures among the natives in this vicinity in 1758, when he was sent on a mission of peace in advance of General Forbes' army.
The dominant people in this region were the Six Nations or Iroquois of the French, the ancient Mengwe of Indian tradition, the formidable rivals of the Lenape, and eventually their conquerors, sometimes known as the Romans of America, (so called by De Witt Clinton). The particular tribe who were nominal masters of the immediate region comprising Northwestern Pennsylvania, and having their council seat at or near the present city of Buffalo, was the Seneca. But various tribes and fragments of other nations were dwelling in the same locality: Senecas, Delawares, Munseys, Shawanese, &c., &c., living quietly and peaceably together and occupying the same hunting and fishing grounds in common. Two villages of the Lenape or Delawares were in this locality: one at the month of the Mahoning river, called Kas-kas-kunk; the other upon the site of New Castle, and called New Kas-kas-kunk. The latter town was the capital of Pack-an-ke. Another famous Indian town was located on the Mahoning, near to the present town of Edenburg, and known as Kush-kush-kee. The principal subordinate chief and councilor of King Pack-an-ke was Glik-kik-an, famous as a warrior, a statesman and an orator.
*We have used Mr. Petin's history of New Castle liberally in this connection.
John Carlysle Stewart, two brothers-in-law, John and Hugh Wood, and John McWhorter--all from the neighborhood of New Castle, Delaware, came together early in the season of 1798, and located on the ground where New Castle now stands. This portion of the country was mostly surveyed into what were known as "donation lands," set apart for the use of the soldiers of Pennsylvania who served in the American army during the war of the Revolution. The line between the original counties of Beaver and Mercer was the boundary between the first and second "donation" districts. South of this line was the first, and north of it was the second district.
Commencing at the northwest corner of lot No. 88 of these lands, the line of survey made an obtuse angle to the northeastward across lot 89; thence across lot 90 it ran almost exactly northeast, and from thence, at the southwest corner of lot No. 1953, it ran straight east beyond the Neshannock creek. This deviation in the south line of the second district left a strip commencing at a point two miles west of New Castle, and widening until it reached the Shenango river at a spot a little below the bridge on Grant street. At this place the gore was about ninety rods in width, and continued the same eastward to the present city limits. This gore was called a "vacancy." There is considerable diversity of opinion regarding the amount and location of lands purchased by Stewart, but there is no doubt he owned all of the 49 "vacancy" lying between the Shenango river and Neshannock creek, and his purchase most probably extended eastward for some distance beyond the creek, perhaps far enough to cover altogether about 400 acres. That portion lying west of the Shenango river, amounting to 117 acres and 38 poles, was taken by Cornelius Hendrickson. Lot No. 89, lying a little northwest of Sankey's addition to New Castle, was taken by Joseph and Samuel Cox; No. 90, lying immediately east of Cox, and running across the river, was taken by Samuel McCleary; lot No. 1953, lying next east of McCleary, Crawford White settled on; lot No. 1951, next east of Crawford White, was taken by Henry Falls. The "vacancy" occupied by Stewart was south of White's and Falls' land.
This gore or "vacancy" occurred through imperfect or careless surveying, and it is perhaps not wonderful that the surveyors of that day, when the country was a vast wilderness, in running their lines through the woods, and over hills and dales, should have failed to make every lot come out just so many acres, or the lines to be exactly true, and all the corners right-angles.
The original town-plat, comprising about fifty acres, was laid out by John Carlysle Stewart, in April, 1798, as appears by the records of Mercer county. [p. 18] At that date the territory was within the limits of Allegheny county, which extended northwards to the lake.
The plan of the new town was a very good one, lying with the cardinal points of the compass (or nearly so), and having wide, straight streets and an open market-space, 440 by 190 feet in the center, since curiously called "the Diamond." Mercer county was erected March 12,1800, and the south line of this county was also the southern boundary of the town.
Stewart and McWhorter were both practical surveyors, but the latter, on account of having the best instruments, made the survey and laid out the new city. When the plat was completed, it was unanimously named NEW CASTLE, in honor of the chief town of the State from whence they came.
The town was bounded on the north by a line running east and west through the center of the blocks lying next north of North street, from the left bank of the Shenango river eastward to Apple alley; thence south to the Neshannock creek; thence west along the line afterwards dividing Beaver and Mercer counties to the Shenango river; thence northerly along the river to the place of beginning.
The site of the town was a sort of glade or open bottom, destitute of large timber, but covered with a dense growth of grass and hazel bushes. Along the Neshannock was a thicket of wild plum and crab-apple trees, and here and there scattered over the plat were clumps and clusters of black and jack Oaks. According to the best authority we have been able to obtain, a large share of the lots in the new town were disposed of by lottery, most probably at several different times, for when first laid out there were not people enough to have made it profitable. Lotteries were quite common and popular in those days, and even religious societies did not scruple to raise funds by means of them.
It is very probable that John Carlysle Stewart erected the first cabin in New Castle, though Joseph Townsend, Jr., who came soon after the first named party, is sometimes credited with the honor. At all events, Stewart owned the land upon which the town was laid out, and would be very likely (seeing that he came to make a permanent stay) to have put up some kind of a shelter.
His cabin, built of round logs, stood near what is now known as the Falls spring; and he lived there until as late as 1810, after which he seems to have changed his place of above,[sic] but just where he removed to is very uncertain. Some accounts say he crossed the Neshannock and lived on land owned by him on the east side.
John Carlysle Stewart is described as a large raw-boded man, of Scotch- Irish descent, quite well educated, somewhat aristocratic, and not particularly inclined to hard labor. Of his early history very little is known, but he was said to have been born in or near Philadelphia, and to have lived in his younger days near New Castle, Delaware. The date of his birth is supposed to have been about 1765, as a daughter of his, now living in the State of Indiana, thinks he was about ten years old at the breaking out of the Revolutionary war. His father, Robert Stewart, was a major in the American army during the war, and possibly his son, John C., may have located land upon a warrant drawn by him for services. It is claimed by the oldest citizens of New Castle that John C. Stewart was the first Justice of the Peace in the place, which is altogether probable. At all events he was holding the office in 1807, according to an acknowledgment on an old deed now in possession of Joseph S. White.
He was connected with a number of public enterprises, looking to the advancement of his town, at various periods during his stay in the place, from 1798 down to 1821-2-3, when he removed to Ohio. Of him more hereafter.
Among the earlier settlers who followed Stewart and his three companions, were Joseph Townsend, Jr., who came before his father and brothers, and very soon after Stewart, and built a log cabin near where the old Dickson tannery was afterwards located, and Wm. Munnel, a blacksmith, who put up his cabin on the ground now occupied by Shaw & Waddington's iron foundry. Munnel's building was a curiosity. It was a long building, built of logs, and divided into three compartments--a dwelling at one end, a horse-stable in the middle, and a blacksmith shop in the other end. John Watson, from Penn's Valley, Pa., came some time during the same year (1798), and built a cabin across the street, east from Munnel's.
Cornelius Hendrickson and his son Daniel had each a cabin on the west bank of the Shenango, in the present township of Union. They established a ferry, probably, during the year 1798, over the Shenango at what is now the west end of North street. Thomas, another son of Cornelius Hendrickson, settled in what is now Taylor township, and his son Cornelius, Jr., settled east of New Castle on land purchased of Stewart.
Jesse Du Shane, father of Joseph T. Du Shane, now living on Pittsburgh street, came from the State of Delaware to Beaver, in 1802. In the Fall of the same year he came to New Castle, and built a cabin near where Isaac Dickson now resides. He brought his family to their new home in February, 1803. The journey from Beaver to New Castle was made in a large canoe belonging to Daniel Hendrickson. Joseph Townsend, Sr., and the well- known Indian, Har-the-gig, helped to bring up the canoe and its motley load. This Indian, about that time, lived on the Neshannock, some four miles above New Castle. When Mr. Du Shane settled in New Castle, there were but four cabins between the Shenango and the Nesbannock, and these belonged to J. C. Stewart, Joseph Townsend, Jr., Wm. Munnel, and John Watson. About the year 1806, Mr. Du Shane built a new house of hewed logs, which stood on the lot just north of the two-story brick building on the northwest corner of Washington street and "the Diamond." His lot extended north to the alley. The building was about equal to three ordinary houses in those days. The same year he rented one of the rooms to Joseph T. Boyd, who opened a general store, and afterwards admitted John Wilson as a partner.
Joseph Townsend, Sr., and his sons, John and Isaac, came in 1803. The old gentleman was a saddler by trade. The two sons learned the hatter's trade of Thomas Evans, their brother-in-law, at Sharon, Beaver county. When they became of age, they started the business in New Castle, and were the next to open a shop after Isaac Jones, who was the first hatter--having commenced business about 1805. The Townsends probably commenced about 1806-8. The old gentleman lived in a house which his son Joseph built for him, for some years. In his old age he lived with his other sons until his death, which took place about 1825.
Jared and Robert Irwin, James Reynolds, Nicholas Vaneman and Benjamin and John Elliott, all settled in New Castle previous to, or about, 1800.
Jesse Du Shane married Lydia, Zanes Townsend, daughter of Joseph Townsend, Sr. He died in New Castle, January 1, 1866, at the ripe old age of ninety-five years and one month, in a house nearly opposite where his son, Joseph T. Du Shane, Esq., now resides, on Pittsburgh street. His wife died in 1855, aged 84 years.
The second daughter of Joseph Townsend, Sally, married Thomas Evans, of Sharon, Beaver county, and the third daughter, Elizabeth, married William Van Zant Smith, who died in Ohio.
Among other very early settlers were John Wilson, two brothers by the name of Sampson, and Andrew Noble. The last-named individual was a great hunter, and came to New Castle about 1800, and built a cabin on what is now the Falls estate, near the brow of the hill. He brought with him a monstrous long and heavy rifle, carrying thirty-two balls to the pound. Some years after his settlement he became pecuniarily involved, and his creditor, Mr. Crawford White, levied on his "big rifle" for the debt. Mr. White always afterwards called the gun "Andy." It was a fine weapon, but the boys used to say if a man lost or missed a shot, he could not afford to buy ammunition for a second charge, it cost so much to load it.
Crawford White came from Cumberland county, Pa., settled on lot No, 1953 of the "donation lands," immediately north of Stewart's purchase, in 1804. He had a brother living in South Carolina, and when he sold out his property in Cumberland county, and prepared to come West, he went around by way of South Carolina, and visited his brother. From thence he came by way of Tennessee and Kentucky to Mercer county, and lived at New Castle for about two years, when he went back to Cumberland county, and married in 1806. Returning to New Castle he at once entered into the active pursuits of life. During the war of 1812-15, he went to Erie, probably in 1813, as a member of Captain Fisher's company, raised in and around New Castle.
In 1818, Mr. White erected a grist-mill and saw-mill (both frame buildings), on or near the ground where Raney's grist and flour-mill now stands. John Tidball was the first miller, and operated the mill for Mr. White.
The old gentleman died about the year 1834. His wife died in January, 1875, at the great age of 97 years.
John Elliott had the honor of erecting the first grist-mill in New Castle, which he did about the year 1800. It was situated on the west bank of the Neshannock creek, near where the Episcopal Church now stands. It was built, no doubt, of logs, and probably contained one run of "Laurel hill" stones. The mill was in constant use until October, 1803, when it was partially destroyed, but whether by fire or flood, tradition saith not--most likely by flood.
Previous to the erection of Elliott's mill, people were obliged to take their grain down the Beaver river in canoes, to Beaver Falls and bring it [p. 19] back by the same conveyance, or take it on horseback to Allen's mill, on the Slippery Rock creek, which latter[sic] was located at what is now Wurtemburg, in Wayne township. After the partial destruction of his mill, Elliott sold out to Nicholas Vaneman, who proceeded to repair and put it in operation. It was a primitive affair.*
*See article, "Early Manufactures."
Of the men who came to New Castle with John C. Stewart, it appears that his brothers-in-law, John and Hugh Wood, remained in New Castle until about 1821 to 1823, when they left with Stewart and settled in Holmes county, Ohio, at Millersburg, where he died. It is said by some authorities that Stewart was elected to the Legislature of Ohio, and was nominated for a second term, but his shabby appearance defeated him. Others say he was beaten the first time, for the same reason, and did not run again. John McWhorter, who laid out the town for Stewart, soon after returned East. He was of a speculative turn, and bought and sold lands, and frequently visited Western Pennsylvania, but eventually died, near where he came from, in Delaware.
Stewart was engaged in various enterprises during his stay in New Castle. He was connected, with other parties, as early as 1803-4, in the erection of a grist and saw-mill, on the Neshannock, at the Devil's Elbow, and about 1810-11, in company with one Wilkins, changed his grist-mill into a forge, for the manufacture of hammered iron, it being the first mill for the manufacture of iron in Western Pennsylvania.*
*See under heading, "Early Manufactures."
It would appear that Stewart eventually became badly involved, and gradually lost all his property in and around New Castle, and was even reduced so much as to be forced to teach school for a livelihood. It is conceded, on all hands, that in his personal appearance he was altogether slovenly, and he was, withal, rather indolent, and these facts may help to explain how he became unfortunate. It is said that he abandoned his unsold lots in New Castle, and they were afterwards sold for taxes.
When he sold John Elliott the water power on the Neshannock, about 1800, he probably sold with it quite a tract of land. Elliott sold to Vaneman, and he, in turn, perhaps, sold to Gillespie, or to Gillespie and Chenowith. Gillespie's Addition to New Castle was laid out in 1811, on lands which were a part of the "vacancy," at first purchased by Stewart.
Stewart had one son, named John, and four or five daughters, one of whom married while they lived in New Castle. John died in Ohio, unmarried, and the girls married and scattered in various directions after the removal of the family to Ohio. Stewart's wife was a Wood, a sister of John and Hugh Wood, before mentioned.
Rattlesnakes were very plenty when New Castle was first settled, and it is said that on the day Joseph Townsend's log cabin was raised, a horse was hitched to a pole, or the bushy top of a small tree, and driven around the spot, to trample the tall grass down, so the men engaged in the work could see the snakes, and avoid them. But these pests rapidly disappeared, and a rattlesnake is now as great a curiosity in New Castle as an African lion.
Wolves, of the large gray variety, were very plenty in the early days of the settlement, and howled nightly on the hills surrounding the town, and wherever a stray sheep or pig was found away from shelter and protection, he was licked up in a moment. They came careering [sic] over the hills and through the valleys in ravenous packs--
"With their long gallop, which can tire
The hound's deep hate and hunter's fire,"
and made night hideous with their mournful howlings.
Deer and black bears were also very common. The last bear seen in the place was killed by Daniel Hendrickson, Joseph Townsend and Jesse Du Shane, on the hill immediately above where the present residence of Mr. John T. Phillips now stands, in 1804. It is said the bear weighed four hundred pounds. Du Shane cut off its head and hung it in his wagon-shop, to scare the boys away from his tools. It was undoubtedly effective.
The first store in New Castle was opened by Joseph Townsend, Jr., who built a double log cabin on the northwest corner of North and Shenango streets, about the year 1800. In this building he commenced the mercantile business, and also opened a public house or "tavern," as they were called in those days. Both the store and tavern were the first of this kind in the place. After a few years Townsend sold out his store to one Patrick Wilson, who enlarged and improved the business and conducted it on something like true mercantile principles. About the time that Townsend sold his store he put a small tannery in operation, which he soon after sold to William Dickson. In 1803, in company with James Reynolds, and some accounts say also with John Carlysle Stewart, as a partner, he built a grist and saw-mill at the head of the narrows on the Neshannock, which was run for a time, and sold to Stewart, or Stewart and Wilkins, who, about 1811, changed it to a forge for the manufacture of iron.
It appears from the best information, that Joseph Townsend, Jr., died about 1811. His death was a great loss to the embryo town, for he appears to have been an energetic business man, who kept his talents and capital constantly employed for the benefit of himself and the place. Patrick Wilson continued the mercantile business for some time at Townsend's old stand, when thinking the "Diamond" a better locality for business, he removed thither, and Townsend's double log cabin soon after caught flre and was consumed. The spot was long afterwards known as "The burnt cabins." At some period during his business operations, Joseph Townsend erected on the southwest corner of North and Mercer streets, a log cabin which Arthur Chenowith facetiously named "Pokeberry Exchange," on account of its peculiar color.
North street Was for a number of years the main business thoroughfare of the town, until gradually business shifted to the vicinity of the "Diamond," and from thence in course of time eastward to that portion of Washington street lying between the "Diamond" and the Neshannock bridge.
John Wilson was also one of the earlier settlers, having come in previous to 1803. He built a cabin at the foot of the hill near where the present residence of Colonel William H. Shaw is situated. He was accidentally killed on the day that Reynolds' and Townsend's mill was raised, under the following circumstances: It seems he had been to Thomas Hendrickson's distillery, situated near where Mahoningtown now stands, and was returning with a cart and yoke of oxen, and having, among other things, a barrel of whisky in his cart. On the way back, for some reason, the oxen became frightened and ran away, upsetting the cart and throwing Mr. Wilson out, and the barrel of whisky falling upon him killed him instantly.
Mr. Wilson was the father of Captain James Wilson, well and favorably known as an influential citizen of Lawrence county.
Cornelius Hendrickson, as before stated, settled on the west side of the Shenango river. His cabin stood very near where the glass works are now located. His son Daniel lived farther down the river, near where the rail way depot is now, but farther towards the river. The location was washed away in November, 1835, when, during a great flood, the embankment above the State dam was cut through to save the town from impending destruction. The waters swept furiously into the gap and carried away a large tract of land, widening the channel of the river to nearly double its original width.
Cornelius Hedrickson [sic] made claim in 1798 of all the gore known as the "vacancy" lying west of the Shenango river. It contained altogether something over one hundred and seventeen acres of land. He merely squatted on it. He appears to have had a sort of certificate of pre-emption to something over fifty acres of it, issued in 18OO. It is probable that his son Oakey Hendrickson obtained possession of one-half of the whole claim, for we find that in 1818, George McDowell, said to have been a son-in-law of Oakey, and Ebenezer Byers came into possession of it and made an equitable division, and afterwards obtained a patent for the whole. Cornelius Hendrickson was something of a practitioner of medicine, and was popularly known as "Doctor Hendrickson." His practice partook somewhat of the Eclectic school, and more perhaps of the Thomsonian. His remedies were taken largely from among the roots and herbs of the country, and be is described as having been an excellent nurse. No doubt he filled an important position among the rugged settlers of that day, and perhaps accomplished as much good, as many who in the modern day boast a classic and scientific education. He had a good deal of the character of Daniel Boone in his composition, not liking the restraints of civilization, and when New Castle began to assume the appearance of a town, he quietly departed for a newer country in the west.
He is said to have been something of a surgeon, and was wont to catch frogs and experiment upon them in the way of reducing fractures. He had four sons, Oakey Daniel, Thomas and Cornelius, Jr. Whether all these boys came with the old gentleman, we are not certainly informed, but they probably did. Oakey removed about 1820, to Lancaster county, Pa. Daniel was associated with his father in the ferry, which they established on the Shenango when they first arrived in New Castle. He seems to have had charge of it and operated it for some years. He used a "dug out" or large canoe for ferrying passengers and freight, and sometimes made trips down the river. He probably had quite an assortment of canoes and boats which were hired to others when going to Beaver Falls to get their grain ground. Daniel accumulated some property and undertook to enlarge his sphere of usefulness. At one time he entered into a contract to construct a dam on the Neshannock on the site of the old Elliott-Vaneman dam, but before it [p. 20] was completed a sudden flood carried it all away and with it a large share of Hendrickson's hard earnings. He was the father of a numerous family, principally daughters, and many of the most respectable families of the community are connected with the famous squatter family of 1798.
Thomas Hendrickson settled near the present site of Mahoningtown, where he operated a primitive distillery, which business was then as legitimate and respectable as any other avocation. It is also said of Thomas that he was something of a hunter, and could bring in as many wolf-scalps for the bounty as "any other man." He died in Plain Grove township about 1830. Cornelius we have little knowledge of. He emigrated with his father to Ohio, where they both died at an advanced age.
In the hewed-log building erected by Jesse Du Shane in 1806, a little north from Washington street, in the northwest angle of the "Diamond," was opened the second hotel, or rather "tavern," in the place.
As before stated, Joseph T. Boyd kept a store in one room of this building. The hostelrie was called the "New Tavern," and had the first regular tavern sign ever seen in New Castle. It was decorated with seven stars, and surmounted with three wooden figures, dexterously turned in imitation of a pint and half-pint bottle, and a gill measure which stood beside the bottle. It is said that on the day in which this famous sign was raised, the jockeys had a grand horse-race, free to all comers, and the man who came out last treated the crowd.
It was not long before Boyd required more room for his fast-increasing business, and Mr. Du Shane built for his use another log building, west of the corner on Washington street. Here Boyd continued his business until it became too large for the building in which it was located, when he associated himself with John Willson, and the new firm erected a building of logs on the northeast corner of the lot now occupied by the Disciples' Church, where they opened the largest general stock of goods that, up to that time, had ever been seen in New Castle.
When Nicholas Vaneman purchased the grist-mill of John Elliott in the Fall of 1803, he also purchased in connection therewith one hundred acres of land lying between New Castle and Croton. This land may have been purchased originally by Stewart, and he perhaps sold it to Elliott, or Vaneman may have bought of Stewart. Vaneman's mill, after being operated by him for some time, was partially destroyed by one of those floods which, experience proves, the Neshannock knows well how to get up. The dam was almost totally destroyed. A few remains of it were visible more than fifty years after its destruction.
An interesting and tragic incident is connected with Vaneman's misfortune, which is worth preserving. The miller whom Vaneman employed to run his mill was a man named Crane, who was naturally a little anxious about the property. Being on the ground on the day when the great ice-flood came tumbling and rolling down the creek, he was standing near the old-fashioned tub-wheel, and peering into the mill to see what damage had been done when a sudden rush of ice made everything crack around him. Eagerly bending forward and pointing with his finger toward the impending creek, he exclaimed, "The old mill is all gone to h--l!" In his excitement he lost his balance and fell into the wheel, which was in rapid motion, and was killed. His body was soon after recovered and laid out in one corner of the mill, which, after all the apparent danger, was only injured to a small extent.
After his remains were laid out, a watch-dog was placed inside as a guard, the mill was locked, and the corpse left until the next morning. It is said that Vaneman would on no account consent to have the dead body in his dwelling. Crane, it appears, had no relatives, at least not in this portion of the country, and so all that he possessed was buried with him. This consisted of the clothes he wore, a pocket knife, a pipe and tobacco, and a few pieces of silver, amounting to between one and two dollars. His remains were placed in a rough box of oaken boards, and buried on the summit of Shaw's hill.
There was no burial ground at the spot chosen, but as the only burial place was on the west side of the Shenango, and unapproachable by reason of the flood (there being then no bridges over the stream), his remains were interred in the most suitable place they could find, under the circumstances. The place has no stone to mark it, and the locality is known to very few people. This accident occurred, probably, in 1807.
About the year 1808, Vaneman sold his mill, water-power, and land to James Gillespie, and removed to what is now Wayne township, then in Beaver county, and located about a mile east of Chewton, where he built a frame grist and saw-mill, and put a set of carding machines in his grist-mill in addition.
The mills were situated on a small run that discharges into Beaver river. The amount of water was quite insignificant, but there was a fall of some eighteen feet and with an overshot wheel, equal in diameter to the height of the fall, the power was sufficient for his purposes.* Mr. Vaneman died on the 24th of April, 1832. He was of German descent, and was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania. He was twice married, and was the father of sixteen children.
*From information furnished buy George Hennon.
The first death in New Castle was that of a small girl, the daughter of Wm. McComb, about 1802-3. Her remains were placed in a coffin made of oak boards, which were split from the log as rails are, and, probably, afterwards shaved down to a tolerable even thickness. The boards were fastened together with wooden pins, it being before the days of nails. The coffin was put into John Wilson's ox cart, and taken to the first burying ground in the place, now adjoining the new Greenwood cemetery. The coffin was made by Jesse Du Shane.
The first adult who died in the place was probably the same John Wilson whose cart transported the remains of Mr. McComb's little girl to their last resting-place. As before stated, Mr.Wilson was accidentally killed, by being thrown from his cart, on the day Reynolds & Townsend's mill was raised, in 1803-4.
For several years after the first settlement of New Castle, the nearest post-office was at Fort McIntosh on the site of the present town of Beaver. The mails were, most likely, carried on horseback, as is customary in all new countries. The first post-office in the little town was established in the year 1812, under Mr. Madison's administration, and the first Postmaster was Joseph T. Boyd. The office was located in the new log store built by him and John Willson, on the corner of the lot now occupied by the Disciples' Church. Mr. Boyd must have been a very popular man, for he held the office from that date until about 1838, and afterwards for about eighteen months.*
*A list of all the Postmasters at New Castle is given in another place.
The first man to whom the title "Doctor" was given, as stated before, was Cornelius Hendrickson, Sr., the grandfather of the present Doctors Wallace. The first regular physician in the town was Dr. John Dickey, who practiced very successfully, commencing, probably, about the year 1810. He lived in a log house which stood in what is now the front yard of Mr. Joseph Justice's residence. The Doctor entered the army early in the war of 1812, and died in the service sometime in 1813.
The log house which he lived in was afterwards used by Joseph Justice, as a shop in his hatting business. A school was taught in it as early as 1813, and it was also frequently used for singing schools.
Next succeeding Dr. Dickey, came Alexander Gillfillan, a regular physician and surgeon. He was a native of Ireland, and most probably Scotch descent, and was born about 1785, so that when he first came to New Castle he was a young man about twenty-eight years of age, and his wife was eighteen. He studied medicine in Washington county, Pa. He afterwards removed to Pittsburgh, and when the war of 1812 broke out, entered the army to practice his profession. He remained in the service until the summer of 1813, when he resigned. It is said that he never received any compensation for his services, and in addition to his time, he spent forty or fifty dollars for medicines for sick soldiers. October 21, 1813, he married Miss Elizabeth Patterson, and settled in New Castle a few weeks subsequently.
The house in which he first lived was of logs, and stood near where Raney and Gordon's mills are now located. He subsequently removed to a small frame house on North Jefferson street, on or near the present site of the United Presbyterian Church.
On the 17th day of June, 1815, the doctor, in company with Joseph Justice, James Dunlap, and perhaps others, was drawing a seine in the waters of the Neshannock creek, near where the Etna Iron Works now are. In some way the doctor got beyond his depth, and being unable to swim, was drowned, notwithstanding every possible effort was made to save him. Mr. Justice came very near losing his own life in attempting to rescue him. His body was recovered in a short time, but too late to be resuscitated. The intelligence of his tragical death plunged the whole community into the most profound grief. He was the only physician in the place, and by his skill and attention to the duties of his profession, and his affable and gentlemanly deportment, had built up a fine and rapidly increasing practice. [p. 21] Every inhabitant felt that he had lost a friend. His widow, now Mrs. Blackburn, is still living near Mt. Jackson, at the ripe age of eighty-two years. She was born near Baltimore, Md., on the 25th day of March, 1795. Her father's name was John Patterson, and her mother's maiden name Mary Clendenin. Her parents were married on the 16th of April, 1793.
Mrs. Gillfillan's first child, James Harvey, was born August 3, 1814. He died of croup, November 22, 1814. Her second and last child was born about five-and-a-half months after the death of her husband. This child, a girl, named Mary A., grew up, and married Samuel R. Vance, with whom she is now living, a little below Mahoningtown. She is the mother of a large number of children, only five of whom are now living--three sons and two daughters.
On the 27th day of December, 1821, Mrs. Gillfillan married Benjamin Blackburn, with whom she lived fifty-five years. Mr. Blackburn died April 20, 1876, aged eighty-five years and six months. Mrs. Blackburn had no children by her second marriage.
The next physician succeeding Doctor Gillfillan, was Doctor Quimby; following him were Doctors Cribble, Stevenson and William Shaw. The latter practiced medicine in New Castle very successfully for many years, and was greatly esteemed for his many social qualities and gentlemanly deportment.
One of the early settlers in New Castle was John Gormly, described by Mr. Penn as a "low, thick set, middle aged man" who had a very large and muscular woman for his wife. He built a cabin of round logs on the southeast corner of Washington street and the "Diamond." He settled about the year 1805, and was a shoemaker by profession. It is related of him that on the day in which his cabin was raised, having gone where his children were piling and burning brush and rubbish, and while engaged in giving orders about the work, his wife came up behind him and lifting him in her brawny arms threw him on a brush pile and told one of the children to bring some fire and they would burn all the trash together. Another anecdote illustrates the love of fun and jokes which prevailed among the people of those times. It was some time in the year 1806; Gormly went into Crawford White's store on North street to make some purchases; among other things he procured some eggs, and for lack of a better place, put them in his hat. Stepping out upon the street with the hat upon his head, he was approached by John Carlysle Stewart, who mashed his hat over his eyes, and then suddenly, before Gormly could wipe the streaming contents of the eggs from his face, disappeared around the corner. Stewart afterwards paid Gormly all damages.
It is related of Stewart that when he was Justice of the Peace, he was out one day with Daniel Hendrickson, when they came suddenly upon a herd of deer. Hendrickson was about to shoot when Stewart exclaimed, "Hold! man, don't shoot! don't you know it is against the law to kill them now; I shall have to fine you if you kill one." Hendrickson lowered his gun with great reluctance, to consider the question, when Stewart said, "give me the gun," and immediately fired and brought down the best deer in the lot, at the same time remarking with a smile, "Dan, if one of those deer happens to run against a stump and break a leg, bring me a hind quarter!"
Tradition also speaks of Wm. Munnel as a curious specimen of humanity. It will be recollected that he was a blacksmith (the flrst in the place), and built a "three-pen" cabin near where the foundry of Shaw, Waddington & Co. now stands. He had his dwelling in one end, his shop in the other, and kept a stallion in the middle. His wife's name was Lena Hendrickson, a daughter of Cornelius Hendrickson, Sr.
Munnel was, or pretended to be, a Christian, and always had family worship. He was also in the habit of indulging in a little profanity now and then, when excited, and it is said he would stop in the midst of a prayer and curse roundly, and then finish his prayer as calmly as if nothing serious had happened.
The early inhabitants were a joke-loving set, and the jokes were of the practical kind. The prominent men did not scruple to borrow wood from a neighbor, (coal was then unknown), and especially if he had it all nicely prepared for the fire. It was also customary to watch whenever a neighbor killed a pig, and if he left it out after dark to go and quietly borrow it. Sometimes the stolen property was returned, but often the loser never saw anything more of it. He took good care, however, to revenge himself upon the luckless neighbor who accidentally left anything exposed, at the first opportunity.
Among the prominent citizens of the early days of New Castle was John Willson, the merchant, and a partner with Joseph T. Boyd. He must not be confounded with the man of the same name who was killed accidentally, as before mentioned. We have no knowledge as to how long he continued in business with Boyd, probably some thirty years; but at all events he was long identified with the business of New Castle. He is described as being a man of imperturbable temper, cool and always self-possessed. He was a very prompt and energetic man in his business, and expected others to be equally prompt with himself. When necessary he would sue a dozen of his debtors at once, as may be seen by reference to the old Justice "dockets" of Arthur Hurry and William Dickson, still preserved in the custody of Alderman Bowman.
He was kind and charitable to the poor, and accommodated many a worthy debtor when in trouble. Mr. Willson was successful in his business transactions, and accumulated a handsome property. He built the brick building on the south side of the "Diamond," now known as the "Wilder House," and also the large brick dwelling situated on the northwest corner of Washington street and the "Diamond." It is said that when he abandoned the mercantile business, instead of selling out at auction he removed what was left of his stock to the upper story of his dwelling, where some of it remained until the day of his death, April 10, 1863.
Arthur Hurry, the second Justice of the Peace in New Castle, was an Irishman by birth, and, like most of his countrymen, was blessed with a voluble tongue. He had a very fair education, but, beyond the fact that he served for several years as a Justice of the Peace, we have little knowledge of him.
William Dickson, the father of Isaac and John Dickson, still residing in New Castle, was the third Justice of the Peace. He was a tanner by trade, and carried on the business for many years.
Mr. Penn, in his history of New Castle, tells a very interesting anecdote of Mr. Dickson's son, Charles, who is now dead. It illustrated the adventures of "our boyhood's days" so aptly, that we give it for the benefit of the rising generation.
The boy had been attending the school taught by Joseph Thornton, who wore the dress so common in the eighteenth century--a cocked hat, knee breeches, ruffled shirt, big shoe buckles, &c. Thornton believed religiously in corporeal punishment, as a necessary portion of school discipline, and on one occasion had administered to young Dickson a pretty severe lesson. Thornton was an Irishman by birth, and very methodical and unrelenting in his management of the youngsters who came to him for instruction. After his punishment, the boy concluded he would run no more risks of a second castigation; so, instead of going to school, he very quietly took refuge, during school hours, in the loft of Isaac Jones' stable. His father, of course, supposed the boy was at school, and the teacher supposed he was kept at home for some good reason. About a week after the lad's disappearance from school, Thornton met his father, and inquired the reason of his long absence. Mr. Dickson replied that the boy had been going regularly to school, as he supposed, but a comparison of notes soon convinced him that his son was playing some game upon both himself and the teacher. He therefore resolved to watch him. Cautiously following the next morning, at the regular school hour, he saw him enter the stable of his neighbor, Jones. Approaching closer, the boy discovered his father, and, just as he was entering on one side, he dexterously slipped out at the other and ran off as fast as his legs could carry him. His father followed until he was out of breath, when he hired another man to undertake his capture, for the consideration of a quart of whisky. The new pursuer now started after the boy, and followed him so closely that he was compelled to seek safety by climbing a tree which stood on the bank of the Shenango, near the west end of North street. The pursuer came up, and ordered the boy to come down, but the boy said he "guessed not," and no threats could move him in the least to quit his perch. An axe was procured, and a pretence made of cutting down the tree, but the truant still held out, and finally made a favorable capitulation, and came down.
It is not recorded whether the man who treed the boy received his whisky or not.
The first church building in New Castle was erected by the Presbyterians, about 1804. Previous to that date the congregation had worshiped in what was called a "tent," which consisted of a board shelter for the preachers, and logs in front for the people to sit upon. Their first church building was of round logs, and stood near the present residence of Mr. John T. Phillips, and not very far from a spring which still bubbles from the hillside. Rev. Alexander Cook was the first pastor ordained and installed, in 1801. The second [p. 22] church building, belonging to the Seceders, was built about 1814, and stood at what was then the head of Beaver street, though the street has since been extended northward, passing directly over the ground occupied by the church and burial ground.
The Methodists were the third congregation to erect a church building in New Castle, which they did about 1815 or 1816, on the ground now occupied by the First M. E. Church, on South Jefferson street. There is some difference of opinion regarding the time this church was erected. Mr. Seth Rigby, now living in Shenango township, says he hewed the logs for it before he entered the army, which he did in 1814. Mr. Joseph Justice says there was no church erected when he left the town in 1815. It is probable that both of the gentlemen are right. Mr. Rigby might have hewed the logs and they may have lain a year or two on the ground before the church was erected.*
*For a particular account of the early churches, see history of the various societies in another part of the work.
The town grew very slowly, and, consequently, the price of real estate kept a corresponding pace. In 1806, eight years after the place was laid out, it is said the best lot in New Castle could have been bought for ten dollars. Alexander Boyles, a blacksmith by trade, did actually purchase the whole square, bounded on the west by Beaver street and on the north by North street, for ten dollars. Boyles built a dwelling near the west side of his land, and a blacksmith shop near the northeast corner. As late as 1825, John Reed sold a lot on Mercer street to Thomas Rigby for thirty dollars.
In November, 1811, James Gillespie laid out an addition to New Castle, consisting of thirty lots, and bounded by Washington street on the south, by East street on the east, by Apple alley on the west, and extending to the foot of the hill on the north. This addition was probably on land bought of Nicholas Vaneman, and formerly a part of John Carlysle Stewart's original purchase.
The following is a list of the more prominent citizens of New Castle, in 1813. John C. Stewart, Joseph T. Boyd, John Willson, Arthur Chenowith, Jesse Du Shane, Robert Wallace, John Frasier, Burton Rust, Alexander Hawthorne, Michael Carman, James Gillespie, William Dickson, Arthur Hurry, Samuel McCleary, Jas. Dunlap, Dr. Alexander Gillfillan, Crawford White, David White, Philip Painter, Alexander Boyles, Isaac Jones, James M. Cunningham, Daniel Hendrickson, Joseph Thornton, Samuel Parshall, Arthur G. Long, John B. Pearson, John Hull, John Downey, Elijah Farr, Jacob Quest, John Gormly and William Cox. Hon. James McClane and Joseph Justice also settled in New Castle, in 1813.
At that date, there were four mercantile houses in the place, to wit: One owned by Joseph T. Boyd and John Willson, situated on the northeast corner of the lots now occupied by the Disciples' Church; one belonging to Samuel Parshall, situated on the north side of the same lots; one by Arthur G. Long, on the south side of the "Diamond," and one by John B. Pearson, situated on the east side of Jefferson street, not far from the present site of the United Presbyterian Church.
Parshall owned a horse which he called "Brandy," and with which he brought his goods for replenishing his store from time to time, as his stock required.
There were three hotels, or "taverns," as they were then called, in New Castle. One of them was well known as the "Pokeberry Exchange," and stood on the corner of North and Mercer streets. Another was in what is now known as the "Old Stone Corner," on the "Diamond," kept by Arthur Chenowith, and the third was in a log building, situated on or near the present site of Clendenin's block. It was kept by Robert Wallace. Two of these were log buildings, such as may at this day be seen on the borders of civilization in the newer States and territories of the Union.
The trades and occupations of the citizens above enumerated were as follows: William Dickson was a tanner; John C. Stewart a speculator and manufacturer; Samuel McCleary a stone mason; Philip Painter a cabinet- maker; James D. Cunningham a shingle-maker; Alexander Boyles and Elijah Farr, blacksmiths; John Hull a wheelwright; John Gormley and John Downey, shoemakers; Burton Rust a carpenter; Isaac Jones a hatter; Joseph Thornton a teacher; Arthur Hurry a Justice of the Peace; Crawford White a farmer; J. T. Boyd and John Willson, merchants; Jesse DuShane a coach-maker, and Chenowith, Wallace and Hawthorne, "tavern" keepers.
Arthur Chenowith came from Virginia to New Castle about the year 1810. He brought with him the first colored man ever seen in the place, and he was truly a curiosity to the juveniles, many of whom believed he was a white man painted black. He went by sobriquet of "Black Jack." Like all his race, he was intensely religious, and always attended church regularly. He used to seat himself near an open svindow, in the Summer time, in the old log Methodist "meeting house," and sing with his whole soul in the hymn,
"I'm glad dat I am born to die--Glory, Hallelujah!"
Mr. Chenowith lived, for a short time after he came to New Castle, in a log house on the hillside a little distance west of what is now called Shaw's Hill. In 1812 he built the "old stone corner" on Jefferson street and the "Diamond," Samuel McCleary doing the stone-work; which, by-the-by, looks as if it was meant to stay.
Soon after he opened a hotel in his new stone building, and continued to act as landlord until his death, which occurred about 1826. Up to 18l3 there were only a few log cabins in the portion of New Castle lying east of Mercer street. Of these three or four were in the neighborhood of Shaw's Hill, and a few more near Vaneman's grist-mill. East and south of the Neshannock there were no buildings except those of David White and James Squier, who lived about half-a-mile from the "town."
In 1813, the steep river bank on the west side of the Shenango along which there is now a good public road, sometimes called "the Narrows," was so rocky and precipitous that it was hardly passable for pedestrians. A few years later a path was made along which horses could pass, but it was several years before a wagon-road was constructed.
It is said that in the same year there was only a cow-path running from the "Diamond" eastward to the Neshannock, winding among wild crabapple trees and hazel-brush.
The number of buildings in New Castle at that date did not exceed thirty. These were mostly of logs. The first frame-building in the town was erected about 1808, on Mercer street, a short distance north of Washington street. It was boarded on the outside with shaved clapboards. The second frame building was situated near the site of R. M. Allen's present residence. The buildings were mostly log structures as late as 1817. The population in 1813 was probably less than two hundred.
The first bridge over the Neshannock was built in 1814, according to the recollection of Joseph Justice. It was on the site of the present iron structure at the head of Washington street, and was a wooden trestle bridge.
The first bridge over the Shenango was erected in 1815. Mr. Joseph S. White has in his possession five subscription papers, which were circulated among the citizens of New Castle, in December, 1814, for the purpose of raising funds to build the same. Below is a list of the subscribers, and the amounts subscribed.
J. P. Schott, Jr., $50 Henry Martin, $5 John Fulkerson, 30 Michael Carman, 5 Jesse Du Shane, 10 J. T. Boyd, 25 Crawford White, 25 Arthur Chenowith, 15 William Dickson, 10 Henry Warner, Sr., 10 George Millier, 15 Adam Whiting, 5 Alex. Gillfillan, 10 John McComb, 5 Alexander Boyle, 5 John Patterson, 5 Seth Rigby, 5 James Moorhead, 20 Joseph Cox, 5 William Moorhead, 20 Samuel Eaton, 5 D. C. Carlysle, 4 John C. Stewart, 25 David Warner, 4 Samuel McCleary 10 William Gilson, 3 Robert Wallace, 25 William McMillen, 3 Thomas Pearson, 5 John Johnson, 5 Francis Ward, 5 William Barber, 10 Bevan Pearson, 5 John Whiting, 3 Joseph Marlett, 1 Philip Painter, 12 Alex. Lord, 5 Philip Lamm, 5 Joseph Brown, 5 Thomas Fisher, 5 Arthur Hurry, 1 John Fisher, 1 Jesse Walls, 1 Leonard Sharer, 1 Joseph Justice, 1 Cornelius Hendrickson, 10 Lewis Warner, 1 Thomas Hendrickson, 10 Joseph Kirk, 5 Peter Shoff, 10 Alex. Hawthorne, 4 John Anstant, 3 Peter Besor, 5 Samuel Parshall, 10[p. 23]
William Hodge, 2 Burton Rust, 5 James Hamilton, 10 Thomas McComb, 5 John Willson, 10 James Hezlep, 2 Robert Semple, 7 William McComb, 1 David White, 5 Talbot Townsend, 1 George Robinson, 10 Michael Book, 5 A. R. Pinkerton, 8 J. S. Alworth, 2 William Graham, 3 David Young, 10 Leonard Dobbin, 5 Samuel Wilson, 2 William Watson, 5 James Daniels, 1 Joshua Chenowith, 5 Daniel Hendrix, 3 George Book, 5 M. A. Calvin, 2 James Fulkerson, 10 Joseph Wilson, 2 Henry Robinson, 5 Henry Whiting, 2 Andrew Kelsaker, 5 Catharine Miller, 6 Joseph Asheton, 10 Walter Oliver, 3 Joseph Thornton, 5 Aaron Hackney, 3 (German name), 5 John B. Pearson, 1 Robert Wallace, 5 R. McDonald, 3 William Parshall, 10 Name unknown, 3 Arthur Chenowith, 25 Total, $705
What the total cost of the bridge was, we have no means of knowing. It was also a wooden trestle bridge, and perhaps cost about the amount of subscriptions. The bridge was built by a man named Kirk.
From an obituary of Mr. Joseph Thornton Boyd, published in the New Castle Gazette and Democrat, March 13, 1868, we make the following extracts:
"In 1758, Joseph Thornton and family emigrated from the parish of Clonca, County Donegal, Ireland, to this country, and settled in the colony of Delaware. Mr. Thornton was a gentleman of some means, and occupied a prominent position among his neighbors, as well as being a leading member of the Associated Presbyterian Church. Some time after he settled in Delaware, his daughter Martha, a lady of elegant manners and fine educational attainments, married a Mr. Robert Boyd, a surveyor and conveyancer. Mr. Boyd and his wife removed from Delaware to Pennsylvania, and located in Chambersburg, Franklin county, where, on the 26th of April, 1781, they had a son born, whom they named Joseph Thornton. In 1798, after he had left school, he was employed as a clerk in a store kept by a Mr. Maderia, where he remained until the year 1800, when he left the town of his nativity and came to Pittsburgh, where he was engaged as a clerk by a Mr. Calhoun, a dry-goods merchant on Wood street. On the 2d of April, 1802, he left Pittsburgh and went down to Beaver, and stopped with a Mr. Hanna for six months. In the Fall of that year, he came up to New Castle, and, in a letter written to his mother, he speaks of going up to see a new town that had been laid out, which he thought might some day come to something. Not liking the place, however, he went to Greensburgh, and in December, 1803, opened a store in that place, where he remained till November, 1805, when he again came to New Castle. In the Spring of 1806, a man named McDowell brought up the Beaver river a small lot of goods, in a canoe or skiff, to New Castle, but not being able to procure a room, sold his stock to Mr. Boyd; and on the 10th of April, 1806, Mr. Boyd opened a store in a log building in the northwest corner of the "Diamond," which Jesse Du Shane had built for and was then keeping a "tavern" in. He partitioned off a part of his bar-room, and rented it to Mr. Boyd. About this time, a number of new settlers came in and located in the vicinity; so that in a few years he was doing quite a respectable business, and took in as a partner Mr. John Willson, with whom he did a successful business for thirty years. In 1812 the town had grown to such importance that the government established a post-office, and the Hon. Gideon Granger appointed Mr. Boyd postmaster, which office he held until sometime during the administration of President Van Buren, or about twenty-eight years. He also held the office at a subsequent period for about eighteen months. Colonel Boyd was a man possessing many rare and excellent qualities. He was particularly noted for his gentlemanly manners and great goodness of heart, never speaking ill of any one. In his later days he united with the First Presbyterian Church, under the care of Dr. D. X. Junkin. He died in the beginning of March, 1868, aged nearly eighty-seven years. Between the years 1832 and 1838, Colonel Boyd was one of the directors of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal Company.
About the year 1807 David White, a brother of Crawford White, from Cumberland county, Pa., came to New Castle, and settled on tract, No. 55, lying south of the line between districts one and two of "donation lands." The tract contained about two hundred acres, and included the point of land lying between the Shenango river and Neshannock creek, and adjoining John C. Stewart's land.
Crawford White purchased all the land lying in the point between the streams, amounting to about thirty acres, of his brother, about 1815. He also purchased a strip along the east side of the Neshannock, sufficient to cover the overflow.
On the 17th of July, 1817, a tract, lying east of the original town plat, and including a strip on the east side of the Neshannock, was sold at sheriff's sale for debt. It contained twenty-six acres and twenty-nine perches, and was probably a portion of J. C. Stewart's property. Crawford White and Arthur Chenowith purchased this property in company, and, about 1818, built a brush-dam a few rods above where the canal-dam now is.
The same year White alone, or in company with Chenowith, erected mills on the present site of Raney's mill.
In 1820, Chenowith quit-claimed his interest in all the above described lands to White. The consideration which White and Chenowith paid for the twenty-six acres, was $650.
Crawford White, before his death, sold this property to his son, James D., who rebuilt the mills, and laid out an addition to the town, south of the original plat between the rivers, in 1837. All of James D. White's property remaining at his death, was sold to the Etna Iron Company. The canal dam, when built, flooded the old brush dam.
Mr. Joseph Justice, at this date one of the oldest living citizens of New Castle, first came to the town in 1813. His father, Jacob Justice, was a Revolutionary soldier, who emigrated from Franklin county, Pa., in 1797, intending to settle in what afterwards became Lawrence county, but through fear of trouble with the Indians, and from other considerations, located in Washington county for two years, when he again started with his family and finally located in what is now North Beaver township, Lawrence county, on land which he drew for his services in the Revolution, and remained there until his death, which occurred in 1829.
In 1813, Joseph, then eighteen years of age, came to New Castle to learn the hatter's trade, with Isaac Jones, who had been in the place for some eight or ten years. He worked at the trade about two years, when he left New Castle, and worked in various places as a journeyman, and finally, located in Hookstown, Washington county, where he carried on the business for about two years. In 1819 he again came to New Castle, and has remained here ever since. Mr. Justice has held various offices, and was the third Burgess after the town became a borough, about 1827.
Mr. Justice carried on the business of a hatter for many years, until the business became unprofitable, when he gave it up. The snows of more than eighty winters have whitened his locks, but he is still quite strong and hearty,
James Cunningham, familiarly known as "Uncle Jimmy," was quite an early settler. It is said that he was the first owner of, a frow, a broad axe and an auger in New Castle. He was a shingle-maker by trade, but his calling would not be very profitable in New Castle at the present day. Shingles were made in those days, from sections of trees sawed of the required length, which were split into bolts by the frow, and then into an approximate thickness, and afterwards shaved on a "horse" with a drawing- knife. They were made of pine or any durable timber which had a straight grain and would rive well.
Mr. Cunningham served during the war of 1812. He married, in 1813, Miss Mary A. Cruise, an orphan girl, a native of Delaware, who lived in the family of Cornelius Hendrickson. She often assisted at the ferry kept by Mr. H., crossing in a "dug out," which was propelled by an oar or setting-pole as occasion required. She was remarkably skillful, and often crossed when ice was running in the stream to a dangerous extent. Her performances on the "deep" may have first attracted the admiration of Mr. Cunningham. The new-married couple first lived in a log house, which is still standing (weather-boarded), on the northwest corner of the "Diamond." He paid a rental of one dollar per month. The same building has lately rented for seven dollars per month.
He afterwards built a log cabin of his own on the lot now owned by Webster Justice. In clearing away for the foundation there were found among the bushes growing on the ground a great quantity of flint arrow heads, the remains of a stone chimney, and various other evidences of an Indian encampment or dwelling.
Robert Wallace, the grandfather of R. W. Clendenin, owned, at a very early period in the history of New Castle, nearly all of the square between Mercer street and the "Diamond," on the north side of Washington street, where for many years he kept a hotel. The hotel stood on or near the present site of Bennett's block. It was built of logs. The date of the opening [p. 24] of this hotel or "tavern" is not known, but Dr. Clendenin, of Cincinnati, Ohio, has in his possession a licenses signed by Governor Thomas McKean, and sealed with the seal of Pennsylvania, which was granted to Robert Wallace in 1807, and which authorized him to keep a "tavern" and sell intoxicating liquors so long as he complied with its requirements. It is said that in the rear of this "tavern" there was a large yard, to which those who had any personal difficulties to settle, repaired and stripped to the buff, and then and there took satisfaction in the good old English way by knocking each other down till one of the combatants cried "enough!" when they shook hands, took a drink, and parted "good friends." This practice was quite common in the early days of Western Pennsylvania, as indeed it has been in many other sections of the country. When the town of Barre, Washington county, Vermont, was first settled, two prominent men disputed about the name, and finally settled it by a pugilistic encounter on the hemlock floor of a new barn, in which the man who was first knocked down won, but had to employ a physician to extract the splinters from his posterior after the encounter was over.
During the first years of the existence of New Castle, the people, like all other people in the world, whether Christian, Mohammedan, Jew or Pagan, had their various methods of diversion and amusement.
Though they did not approach the dignity of the Olympic games of the Greeks, or the splendors of the Roman amphitheatre, yet they answered the purposes of the pioneers, and broke the monotony of frontier life, and were, no doubt, as heartily enjoyed as the games of the ancients, or the sports of modern days. The amusements consisted of log rollings, raisings, wrestling, leaping, running foot-races, and throwing stones, of various weights.
On the occasion of a log rolling, which consisted of all the men and boys within a radius of five, and sometimes ten miles, getting together and assisting a settler in hauling and rolling the logs together on a newly-cleared piece of ground, for the purpose of burning them, every man carried his own dinner, consisting, generally, of corn bread, bear meat, venison, or wild turkey. After the work was accomplished, and the settler fixed up nicely for a good "burning," the whole party betook themselves to some familiar game, which they pursued until "chore time" admonished them to start each for his cabin, scattered here and there at long intervals in the forest. Many a thrilling adventure with the wild denizens of the forest occurred to them on their homeward paths, when they encountered the prowling bear, the fierce and dangerous panther, or a pack of more dangerous wolves. At log rollings and raisings, the proprietor furnished nothing but whisky, which was then considered an indispensable article, without which no out-door work could be properly done. For the female portion of the community, there were apple-parings, or "bees," quiltings, dances in the rude log-cabins, and corn-huskings.
Frequently a "quilting" was improvised on the same day and at the same place, when the men were having a log-rolling; and, in the evening, after the out-door work was finished, a jolly time was enjoyed around the big old chimney, where an immense fire furnished both heat and light at the same time. In those early days furniture was not as plenty or as costly as at the present day, and frequently it happened that there were more young men and maidens than there were chairs and seats to accommodate. On occasions like these, the young men, in the intervals of the dance, gallantly sat themselves down on the chairs and stools and took each a young lady on his lap, and held her until the next dance was called.
In addition to these amusements, there were rail-splittings and wood-choppings, in which the quantity of sturdy timber reduced to rails and cord wood in a day would astonish the men of the present generation. The sports and employments of those days were calculated to develop a hardy, enduring race both among men and women, and we can see to-day, here and there, a sturdy relic of the good old times lingering among us, far up in the "80s" and "90s," standing like the giant trees of the primeval forest, spared by the destroying hand that has leveled their companions in the dust.
They were a sturdy, rude race and strong,--
Our grandsires and grand-dames of old,--
And they conquered the forest with song,
Though the battle was fierce and long,
And hardships were many and manifold.
For they worked with the vigor of men
Who came to this forest-clad land
To win from each valley and glen,--
Though beaten again and again,--
A home for each heart in the band.
And they conquered: The forest is gone long ago;
The wild beast departed in fear;
The factories smoke in the valley below,
And the thunder of traffic goes to and fro
Where the savage once hunted the deer.
Previous to the war of 1812, the early settlers generally wore hunting-shirts made of deer-skin, or some durable kind of cloth. It had a large cape covering the shoulders, and was variously trimmed with fringe, &c. A belt was generally worn with it around the waist, in which were inserted the hunting-knife and tomahawk, for these articles were quite as commonly carried by the whites as by the Indians. The powder-horn was slung around the shoulder.
The inhabitants of New Castle were not behind their neighbors in patriotism during the war with Great Britain, in 1812-15. At least two companies were raised in the vicinity, one by Captain John Fisher, and one by Captain James Hamilton, and there were numerous individuals who enlisted or were drafted into other companies. This was then a part of Mercer county, and most of the companies rendezvoused at Mercer. Among the men who went from New Castle, were three sons of Arthur Hurry, Esq., William, Joseph, and James, who went as substitutes for others who were drafted, Alex. Boyles, John Wilkinson, William Rutter and Lot Watson.
Ezekiel Sankey, father of Ezekiel and David Sankey, was also out, and came back with the rank of major. Tom. Kendall went out, with the six- months' men. He cut off his big toe and came home. William Miller went from Union township, or what is now Union, and came home sick, and died. James Culbertson was also out. He had been a captain in the State Militia. Jesse Du Shane was drafted, but excused on account of disability. His son, Joseph T., though but fifteen years of age, tried to go as a substitute for his father; but the old gentleman caught and sent him home with a good whipping. The boy always claimed that he was entitled to a pension, for he suffered more than a great many who went to the field. Richard Johnson was learning the hatter's trade with Isaac Jones. The latter was drafted, and Johnson took his place as a substitute, and was on board Perry's flag ship, the brig Lawrence, at the naval battle on Lake Erie, September 10, 1813. He died in Ohio a few years after the war. John P. Schott was captain in the navy during a part of the war. He came to Mercer county, and settled in what is now Union township, Lawrence county, about 1814, He is well remembered by some of the old settlers, who describe him as dressed in a suit of blue, with gilt buttons, plush vest, and ruffled shirt. He headed the subscription list for a bridge over the Shenango, in December, 1814, with fifty dollars. He lived in this vicinity for several years.
During the war of 1812 the people all along the frontier became alarmed lest the British and Indians should march into the interior, and many fortifications in the shape of block-houses were erected. The inhabitants of New Castle erected a formidable one of hewed logs on the north side of Washington street, between Mercer street and Apple alley. It was a square structure, and most substantially built by pinning each successive tier of logs to the one below it, so that it would be almost impossible to tear it down. It was built in 1813, and served as a rendezvous until the close of the war. Its dimensions are said to have been about thirty by twenty feet. It was a story-and-a-half high, and had a tier of port holes in the second story. It was long known as the "old fort." Dr. Wm. Shaw occupied it as a dwelling for a number of years subsequent to the war. In 1833 and 1834, it was occupied by Joseph Kissick's family. There are two famous buildings still standing in New Castle, which date back to the time of the war with England. These are the "Old Stone Corner," built by Arthur Chenowith in 1812, and the other the old square frame, one-story structure, on Beaver street, built by Matthew Calvin, in 1815. This last was used as a dwelling by Calvin, who was a school teacher. His school building was nearly opposite the present residence of Joseph Justice, and was a log structure about 18 by 18 feet in dimensions. The old dwelling still contains the immense stone chimney, about four feet square at the top, and filling a large share of the room below with its huge fire-place, though the latter is probably not in use at this time.
The building is some two feet below the street now, and bears the scars of many Winters.
The "old stone corner" is also below about two feet, caused by the slow filling up of the streets. The latter building is still in an excellent, state of preservation, though beaten by the storms of sixty-five winters.
From 1815 to 1835, New Castle progressed very slowly in population, wealth and business, the total increase in the number of inhabitants being probably not more than one hundred. In 1814 the first bridge was built over the Neshannock, and in 1815 the first one was constructed over the Shenango; both were on Washington street. About 1816 the first Methodist Church was built. It was a small, hewed log structure, with three windows and a door. The door was on the south end, and the windows were distributed one to each of the other three sides. A sort of platform was used in the place of a pulpit. It was at the north end, opposite the entrance. In the place of richly-cushioned pews there were slab seats without backs, and it was heated in cold weather by means of a very primitive arrangement called a "ten-plate" stove. It is said that up to 1815 every piece of timber which was used in buildings in this region was hewed from the forest trees.
The Winter of 1818-19 was unusually severe--the snow falling to a depth of over three feet during a single storm.
About the year 1820 there was a battalion of five uniformed companies formed in the vicinity of New Castle. James Cubbison was captain of what was called the "Pumpkintown White Coats"; Peter Mershimer was first, and James McClane, now Judge McClane, second lieutenant. The company got their title of "White Coats" from the color of their coats, which were of white flannel.
Captain James Rigby commanded a rifle company, mostly made up from the neighborhood of Mount Jackson, and largely composed of Germans.
The New Castle Guards, the crack company of the battalion, were commanded by Captain Nathaniel McElevy. The first lieutenant was Dr. Eli De Wolf.
Captain Andrew Robinson commanded the Parkstown company, northwest of New Castle, and there was also a uniformed company in the neighbborbood of Eastbrook.
Captain William Young commanded a militia company up the Shenango, above New Castle, and Captain John Budd commanded another company at Eastbrook.
In 1821 Captain James Wilson commanded a militia company in Shenango township. Joseph T. Du Shane was then living in Shenango, and was commisioned first lieutenant of the company, but refused to serve.
The militia system was kept up for a number of years, and the "training" and "general musters" were the great days of the year, when all the valiant soldiers, from far and near, assembled to participate in the dress parade, the wonderful drill, and the "sham fight." When all the inhabitants, without regard to age, sex or religious belief, turned out to have a good time! When gingerbread, and small beer, and whisky were terribly punished, and many a weary soldier laid himself down in the friendly fence corner, to rest after the toils and fatigues of the day. On these occasions the veterans of the war of the Revolution and of 1812 "fought their batties o'er again," and the air was redolent with the smoke from belching cannon, and now and then some man a little top-heavy had his hand, or arm, or perchance his head, blown off amid the general jollification.
Occasionally there were sore heads and blackened eyes, and the excitement in the community was equal to that which followed the defeat of the British at New Orleans, or the more recent battle of Bull Run.
When the day was over, the respective companies took their way to their several neighborhoods, whence they individually dispersed for home. The grand uniform was laid aside, the musket and the sword were hung away upon the hooks, and the community was again quiet, and things went on the even tenor of their way until another year called them again to the "tented field."
Had this militia system been in force at the breaking out of the slave-holders' rebellion, the free States could have put an immense army of tolerably well-disciplined troops in the field at once, and the long and bloody war of five years' duration might possibly have been avoided. The best guarantee of peace at home and abroad is a well-organized militia system, in which every able-bodied man is subject to a certain term of service, and wherein he learns the trade of a soldier, and submits to necessary discipline.
It is said by many of the old citizens that the people of New Castle and the region now constituting Lawrence county were working for nearly thirty years for the formation of a new county before they succeeded in their project. As a sort of preliminary step thereto, New Castle was made a borough on the 25th of March, 1825. The petition forwarded to the Legislature for the erection of the borough, it is claimed, contained not only the names of all the legal voters in the place, but also those of nearly all the boys. The people no doubt acted upon the maxim that "all is fair in war," and left no stone unturned which would assist them in the accomplishment of their object. The population of the new borough is not known with any degree of certainty, but it did not exceed three hundred.
The first Burgess elected was Robert McConahy. John Frazier was second, and Joseph Justice, third.
The merchants at that date, as they are remembered by the oldest citizens, were Joseph T. Boyd, John Willson, Samuel McCleary, Alexander McConahy and John B. Pearson. The hatters were Isaac Jones, James Dunlap, William Cox, and Joseph Justice. The blacksmiths were George Myers, John Reed and David Seibert. Joseph Emery and Matthew Justice were carpenters. Thomas Falls and William Dixon, tanners. Michael Carman was a tailor; Nathaniel McElevy a shoemaker; James Lutton a saddler; Eli Rigby a wagon-maker. Mr. McElevy was one of the earliest shoemakers in New Castle, having commenced the business as early as 1810.
RE-SURVEY.-- The town, as originally laid out by J. C. Stewart, was found to be very imperfectly platted, and a re-survey was made by authority of the Burgess and Council, about 1826-7. A committee of three, consisting of Joseph Justice, Joseph Emery and Nathaniel McElevy, was appointed to superintend the survey, which run all the lines over, and established permanent corners, as far as practicable.
David Crawford came to New Castle, from Mercer, in 1825. His widow, who is still living in New Castle, says that the little borough, as seen from a distance, presented the appearance of a large meadow, dotted here and there with sheep-pens. "Mercer looked bad enough, but New Castle looked worse!" Mr. Crawford was a printer by profession. In December, 1826, he commenced the publication of the first paper in New Castle. It was a five-column folio, called the New Castle Register. Subscription price, two dollars per year. It was published in a room on the first floor of a log house, then standing on or near the present site of R. M. Allen's residence. He published the paper about two years, when he returned to Mercer, and remained there until about the year 1831, when he came back to New Castle.
About 1828, John Willson, the merchant, erected the two-story brick building on the "Diamond," now known as the "Wilder House."
A young lady then living in the town, wrote a letter to Robert Reynolds in which she stated that New Castle was improving, for John Willson was building "a great brick house." This is said to have been the second brick house erected in the place.*
*The first was built by Crawford White, about 1814.
Joseph T. Du Shane, Esq., built the American House, on the corner of Washington street and Apple alley, in 1828-9. This property he traded to his father for part money and part land in Beaver county. He removed to the land, but returned in 1829. The old gentleman kept the hotel for about two years, when he rented it to his son-in-law, Andrew Robison, who kept it a year or more, when Mr. Du Shane (Jesse) sold the property to Andrew Lewis, who continued the business very profitably for a number of years, when he sold it to David Harlan. It is now known as the Central Hotel.
Joseph Kissick, from Westmoreland county, Pa., came to New Castle in 1831, and on the 17th of December, in the same year, opened a general store in a small two-story frame building, situated on the present site of Wood's block. He continued to do business in this place until about 1833, when he removed his stock of goods and household furniture to the "Old Fort," before spoken of, which stood near the present site of the First National Bank.
Dr. Charles T. Whippo also made his first visit to New Castle about 1833. He was originally from the State of New York, and was a civil engineer by profession. He had been engaged in various engineering works, in different portions of Pennsylvania, and came here as principal engineer of the Beaver division of the Erie Extension Canal. He settled permanently in New Castle in 1834. The doctor had studied and practiced medicine previous to adopting the profession of engineer. When he settled in New Castle, he was in the neighborhood of fifty years of age. He purchased a large tract of land near the village of Croton, of Moses Crow, and lived on it until the time of his death, which occurred about 1855-6.
Dr. Whippo's residence was outside the borough of New Castle, and hence he never figured in local politics, but he was always a prominent man in the community, and was connected with various enterprises. A short time before his death he was one of the original incorporators of the Bank of New Castle, organized in 1855. He was also President of the Board of Trustees of the New Castle Female Seminary in 1838. The doctor left [p. 26] quite a large amount of property at the time of his death. He never practiced medicine after coming to Western Pennsylvania.
In 1831, Joseph T. Boyd and John Willson, his old partner, were trading--Boyd in the store built by Boyd and Willson, on the lot now enclosed around the Disciples Church, and Willson in the building now called the "Wilder House."
Robert McConahy had a store on the corner, where Cubbisons drug store now stands, and John B. Pearson was trading in the "old stone corner."
Samuel McCleary also kept a store on the northeast corner of Washington and Beaver streets.
There were four hotels or "taverns" in New Castle at that date: one kept by John Shearer, in a two-story frame building, where the Leslie House now stands; one by Jessie Du Shane, in what is now the Central Hotel; one by Alexander Hawthorne, called the "Pokeberry Exchange," on the southwest corner of Mercer and North streets, and one by Andrew Lewis, in a log building on the north side of Washington street, between the "Diamond" and Mercer street. Hotel prices were not extravagant in those days: supper, breakfast and lodging was "three shillings," or thirty-seven and a-half cents, and horse feed "sixpence," or six and a-quarter cents.
The physicians at that time were Dr. A. M. Cowden and Dr. Wm. Shaw. The former lived in a frame dwelling on the east side of Mercer street, near to where Mr. Thomas Pearson now lives, and the latter lived in a story-and- a-half stone house on East street, where the brick residence of James M. Craig, Esq., is now located.
Before we pass from the "olden days" to consider New Castle in its more modern aspect, we will pause and give a brief notice of one of its early settlers. Thomas Falls came here with his parents, Henry and Susan Falls, in 1804. His father located on the tract of "donation lands," number 1951, next east and adjoining Crawford White's tract. At that time there were three or four log cabins where the busy city of New Castle now stands. They were the cabins of John C. Stewart, the original proprietor of the town; Joseph Townsend, Wm. Munnell, and probably John Watson. Mr. Falls remained with his parents until he was of age, when he went to Mercer and learned the tanning business of Jonathan Smith. After serving an apprenticeship of three years he went to Pittsburgh, and worked at his trade one Summer. In the Autumn of 1815, he returned to New Castle on foot, with seventy-six dollars in his pocket, the savings of his Summer's work. With this small sum he founded the tannery which many years afterwards was the property of his son, William Falls. After making the vats himself and getting his tannery ready for business, he went to Mercer on horseback and bought a small quantity of leather, which he carried to Hillsville and placed in a store to be exchanged for hides. These hides he tanned, and thus started a business which grew and prospered in his hands. His manufactured leather was disposed of in his own shop. His lampblack and oil were purchased in Pittsburgh, to which city he made frequent visits on foot. Three years after commencing business for himself, during a portion of which time he kept "bachelor's hall," he married Miss Sarah Wilson, daughter of Adam Wilson, who resided near the Neshannock Church, and began housekeeping in the old John C. Stewart house. Mr. Falls carried on the tanning business until 1851, when he resigned it to his son Wilson.
In 1831, Mr. Falls built the third brick dwelling in New Castle. Thomas Falls was born October 29, 1790, and died October 8, 1865, aged 75 years, nearly.
In 1831 there were three churches in New Castle; the Presbyterian, the Seceder and the Methodist. The first was what is now known as the "old brewery." It stood out of town surrounded by forest trees. The Old Stone Church, still standing on Pittsburgh street, was built by the Seceders in 1831. It was then quite a long distance from the town and stood in the woods. The Methodist Church was on the ground they now occupy, and was built about 1816.*
*See history of the various churches in another part of the work.
The cholera visited New Castle in 1832, but found only two victims. One of them was James Fowler, a laborer on the canal. His home was at Sharon, in Beaver county. He died at the residence of Nathaniel McElevy. The other, James Brown, a resident of New Castle, and a cooper by trade. James D. White laid out a small addition to the town in November of this year, 1832.
The year 1833 was a memorable one in the history of New Castle. Among other improvements was a new bridge over the Shenango river on Washington street. The river at this point was originally much narrower than at present, and the bridge was only about one-half the length of the present beautiful and substantial iron structure. The widening of the river was occasioned by the great flood in November 1835, when, in order to save the town from impending destruction, the embankment was cut on the right bank above the State dam, and the accmulated waters were sent out with terrific force, tearing away a great quantity of land and changing the whole appearance of the river at this point
The Erie Extension Canal was completed from Beaver to New Castle in November, 1833.
The first boat launched at New Castle was the "Rob Roy," built by Dr. Wm Shaw. It was put into the water the same month which witnessed the completion of the canal. It was a sort of flat boat, decked over. A few hours after the "Rob Roy" was in the canal, a second boat, called the "Alpha," was launched by James D. White.
The boats were similar in their construction, being each about forty feet long and eight feet wide.
There was quite a strife as to who should get his boat first into the water but the Doctor won by a few hours. It was late in the season when these boats were put into the canal, and nothing was done until the Spring of 1834 when business fairly commenced on the "raging canawl.[sic]"
Major T. Sankey purchased the "Alpha," and ran it regularly between Beaver and New Castle for about one year. The round trip was frequently accomplished "between sun and sun."
The main business was transporting produce down the canal to Beaver and bringing back merchandise. There were some five or six dams built on the Beaver river, making slack-water navigation, and the channel of the river was largely used in this way instead of a separate canal. There was one dam on the Neshannock, and one on the Shenango, within the borough limits of New Castle, and the canal passed through the southern part of the original town plat, along what is now South street, from one river to the other, a distance of something over one-fourth of a mile. The real prosperity of New Castle dates from the year 1834. There was at this date only a weekly mail between New Castle and Beaver. The route extended from Beaver to the old town of Mercer. Major E. Sankey was the contractor, and during the four years succeeding, the mails became semi-weekly, then tri- weekly, and, finally, daily, so that, since 1838, New Castle has always had at least one daily mail.
In 1834, the old log Methodist Church was replaced by a brick one, but the new church, even as late as 1836, was furnished with slab seats. There appear to have been only two hotels in the town in 1834. These were the, Mansion House, on the site of the present Leslie House, kept by John Shearer, and the old log "tavern," belonging to Robert Wallace, and kept by Andrew Lewis. It was a two-story building, and weather-boarded in front, with boards about fifteen inches in width.
The merchants were Joseph T. Boyd, John Willson, John B. Pearson, Joseph Kissick, Robert McConahy and Robert Crawford.
The physicians were Dr. Wm. Shaw and Dr. Andrews, a native of Massachusett,s. Soon after Dr. G. Barlow came to New Castle, purchased Dr. Andrews' property, married his sister, and opened a drug store on the north side of the "Diamond," near Jefferson street. Dr. Andrews returned with his family to Massachusetts. The "Diamond," in those days, was rough and uneven, and overgrown with hazel bushes, intersected with paths and roadways. On the south side of Washington street, between Mercer street and the Neshannock, there were then only two buildings, one a frame, the other of logs. The same year Robert Reynolds purchased some property on the north side of Pittsburgh street (as it is now called), above where Pearson street intersects with it, and established a tannery, which he operated from about 1836 to 1871.
In 1834, James D. White rebuilt his father's grist-mill, and also erected a saw-mill. These stood where Raney & Gordon's mill now stands, or very near it.
Several important events took place in 1835. On the 19th of May there was a grand military parade and field drill. The drilling took place in a large field, near what is now the public square in West New Castle. There were no buildings in that vicinity then. The day is remembered by the old citizens as having been very cold for the season, snow being seen in the air during the day. Major Joseph Emery was commander-in-chief of all the forces on the ground upon that day. The New Castle Guards were probably the favorite company, They were commanded the year before by Captain William Cox, and he was very likely in command on this occasion.
On the 10th day of August, 1835, the contracts for the construction of the "Cross-cut Canal," from Mahoningtown to Youngstown, Ohio, were let in New Castle, and the town was full of contractors and speculators.
Major E. Sankey then kept the Mansion House, and Anthony Squiers kept what is now the Central Hotel. There were no meat markets then in the place, and it was almost impossible to get fresh beef, for nobody dreamed of killing in the warm weather. In order to supply his guests with something of a rarity, Major Sankey killed a beef the evening before, John C. Tidball assisting him. After setting aside sufficient for his own use, the major endeavored to sell the remainder, and, failing in this, he found it next to impossible to even give it away.
The great flood, as it is generally called, took place in November of this year. The west end of the canal dam was swept away, and the land below, owned and occupied at one time by Cornelius and Daniel Hendrickson, was also carried away to a great extent, including the site of D. Hendrickson's dwelling. An island was formed where the west end of the old bridge stood, necessitating the erection of an additional bridge over the enlarged channel, which was built in the year 1837.
The dam was rebuilt in 1836. In this latter year, the Erie Extension Canal was located and put under contract, from New Castle to Erie.
West New Castle, sometimes called by the euphonious name of "Mulleintown," was laid out in May, 1836, by Ezekiel Sankey. It was situated on the tract of land known as the "vacancy," lying between the first and second districts of "donation lands." Mr. Sankey had settled in New Castle in 1823, when sixteen years of age. He at first worked on a farm for Samuel McCleary, at six dollars per month. McCleary had a store in New Castle, and paid his help mostly in store goods. Mr. Sankey bought the land upon which he laid out the town (some fifty acres or more), of Ebenezer Byers. The bargain was made for it in 1836, but the deed was not executed until January 13, 1837. It was a portion of the old Cornelius Hendrickson claim of one hundred and seventeen acres.
On the 18th of August, 1836, the first number of the New Castle Intelligencer* made its appearance. It was the second newspaper published in New Castle.
*See article "Newspapers."
In 1836, Joseph T. Boyd was postmaster. Captain D. S. Stone had a warehouse on the canal. Dr. G. Barlow had a drug store on the north side of the "Diamond," west of Jefferson street. He resided on the southwest corner of Washington and Beaver streets. Wm. Cox had a hat and cap store on Washington street, opposite the present site of the Disciples' Church. S. W. Mitchell was running a cabinet shop. J. Emery and J. Mitchell had a cabinet shop on the north side of the "Diamond," east of the "old stone corner." Wm. Dickson had a saddlery and harness shop on the southeast corner of Washington street and the "Diamond," where Patterson's Bank now stands.
R. W. Cunningham & Co. kept a store on the northeast corner of the "Diamond," and paid cash for wheat. Peter Duff had a general store on the south side of the "Diamond," and Robert Cochran also had a store on the south side, near the present site of the Cochran House. John E. Pearson was trading at the "old stone corner." Jacob Quest served as a clerk in this store from 1833 to 1840. Mr. Pearson, besides doing a mercantile business, also dealt in horses, cattle, and hogs.
Joshua Logan, who was then President of the Borough Council, had a shop on the northwest corner of Jefferson street and the "Diamond." J. N. Euwer was then Clerk of the Borough Council. W. B. Osmon, who had been a sea captain, was keeping a store near the present site of the Leslie House. T. R. George had a store near the east end of Washington street. Wm. B. Miller had a shoe store on the northeast corner of Washington street and Apple alley, near Anthony Squiers' Hotel. White McMillen was in the hatting business on Jefferson street, south of the "Diamond." George King had a wagon shop on Jefferson street, south of the canal. Dr. W. D. Grier, a new name among the physicians, had an office one door east of the "stone corner." He also kept a drug store, or apothecary's shop.
In 1836, there were no buildings of any consequence in what is now called West New Castle, and none south of the Presbyterian Church in the town proper.
In 1836, James R. Wilson appears to have been principal of an institution called the "New Castle Academy;" though where it was located or how long it flourished, the chronicles say not.
The first fire company was organized in New Castle, on the 29th of September, 1836, at a meeting held at the tavern of Andrew Lewis. Joseph T. Boyd was elected President; Wm. Dickson, Captain; and R. W. Cunningham, First Lieutenant.*
*See History of Fire Department.
In the Autumn of 1836, the mail arrangements were as follows:
From Beaver-- Mondays and Thursdays, at 11 A. M.
From Mercer-- Tuesdays and Fridays, at 11 A. M.
From Zelienople-- Thursdays at noon.
From Poland, Ohio-- Fridays, at 10 A. M.
From New Bedford-- Fridays, at 11 A. M.
For Beaver-- Tuesdays and Fridays, at noon.
For Mercer-- Mondays and Thursdays, at noon.
For Zelienople-- Thursdays, at 1 P. M.
For Poland-- Thursdays, at 1 P. M.
For New Bedford-- Fridays, at 1 P. M.
JOSEPH T. BOYD, P. M.
In 1837, another newspaper made its appearance--the Western Senfinel, a Whig paper. The first paper was issued in August. It was a small folio, with six columns to the page, and was edited bv O. C. Lockhart, who is now residing on a farm near Pulaski, in this county.
The western half of the bridge over the Shenango, made necessary by the flood of November, 1835, was completed during the Summer of 1837. During this year, also, James D. White laid out an addition to New Castle, lying between the two rivers, and south of the old county line.
The history of the iron manufactures of New Castle commences in 1838. The original of the Etna Iron Works was erected in that year, by James D. White. Shubael Wilder superintended the construction of the nail factory, and James H. Brown, now of Youngstown, Ohio, that of the rolling mill.
Mr. Wilder is a native of Plymouth county, Mass. He had emigrated from his native State to Harrisburg, Pa., in 1836, where he was engaged in the erection, or contemplated erection of iron works. At Harrisburg he, met Mr. James D. White, who induced him to accompany him to New Castle, where he took charge of the erection of a Nail factory, as before stated.
The Western Sentinel, established in August, 1837, was short-lived. It suspended publication in December, 1838.
The iron works were put into operation in April, 1839. Mr. White, who was chiefly instrumental in getting them into successful operation, lost his health, and went to the West Indies, thinking the climate would benefit him, but after a short time, during which he seemed to be a little better, he grew rapidly worse, and died at St. Croix, in February, 1840.
From December, 1838, to August, 1839, there was no paper published in New Castle, but since the 14th of August, 1839, the place has never been without a local paper. At the date last mentioned, the Mercer and Beaver Democrat was first issued. It was a four-page five-column sheet, and supported the principles of the Whig party. It was at first owned by John Speer, and afterwards by John B. Early.
In 1839. Major E. Sankey commenced the erection of the first building of any importance in West New Castle. It was a large one-story frame building, with wooden pillars in front, and is still standing on the west side of Front street. It is now used as a tenement house and is frequently occupied by a number of families at once. It was not completed until late in the Fall of 1840. On the occasion of the great Whig mass meeting held in New Castle during the Presidential campaign of that year, the speakers addressed the people from the portico of this building, which was then not quite completed.
When it was finished, Mr. Sankey occupied it as a family dwelling for eighteen years.
In 1840, New Castle contained, according to the United States census of that year, 611 inhabitants, or about one-eighteenth part as many as it now contains.
During this year the Erie Extension Canal was completed as far north as Greenville, in Mercer county.
Among the merchants in New Castle, in 1840, were W. Watson, T. McCleary, William Moore, J. T. Boyd and Joseph Kissick.
The Mercer and Beaver Democrat was suspended soon after the Presidential election.
The first number of the New Castle Gazette, a whig paper, was issued on Friday, October 8, 1841, by Colonel William H. Shaw, who continued its publication until 1864, a period of twenty-three years.*
*See article on "Newspapers."New Castle continued in next section.
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: 28 Dec 2000, 17:40