History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania, 1770 - 1877, by S.W. and P.A. Durant.


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[p. 55] New Wilmington was incorporated into a borough by Act of the Legislature, April, 4, 1863, from a part of Wilmington township. The land incorporated includes an area of between three and four hundred acres, and extends to the Mercer county line. The ground on which the original town stands, was a one hundred acre tract, purchased by James Waugh, shortly before the town was laid out. New Wilmington was only made a "half borough" in 1863, and it was not until about 1872 that it became a complete borough, with all the powers pertaining to such a corporation. The present officers of the borough (December, 1876), are: Burgess, J. W. Scott; Council, John Elliott, Solomon Price, James Hunter, D. B. Seeley, William Whitley. The number of voters in the corporation is one hundred and thirty-four; at the election of November 7, 1873, one hundred and sixteen votes were cast.

The town of New Wilmington was laid out by James Waugh and sons, about the year 1824, during which year the first buildings in the new town were erected. Before the town was laid out, a house had been built by James Hazlep, and his was the first one in the place. James Waugh built the second one; he had settled, in 1798, in what afterwards became Lackawannock township, Mercer county.

The first house built in the newly laid-out town was erected by one Dr. Hindman, and is now standing at the southwest corner of the East Diamond; it is a log structure.

Very soon after Dr. Hindman built his house, a low, one-story frame building was put up by Philip Crowl. John Galloway built a tannery either that year or the next, (1824-25). It stood at the east side of the village, on the site of another building once used for a tannery and now occupied for a wagon shop by Alexander Boyd.

David Carnahan opened the first wagon shop in the place; next came J. W. R. Hazlep.

The first shoe shop was kept by Robert Hamilton, where Dr. Pettit now lives.

Thomas Wilson had the first saddle and harness shop, which stood at the southwest corner of the West Diamond.

The first blacksmith shop was opened by Philip Crowl, who afterward removed to Eastbrook, in Hickory township, where he also had a shop.

The Waughs had a small general store about the time the town was laid out, it being the first one in the place. Then next one was opened by James Hazlep, a cousin of J. W. R. Hazlep. J. & A.. Galloway bought Hazlep out and carried on the store for a time.

There are now three general stores, owned by William Marshall, Samuel Elliott and J. A. Lininger; one boot and shoe store and manufactory, operated by John M. C. Anderson, who does business on a considerable scale, and employs several hands; Smith Semple has a drug store, and there are also several confectionery and grocery stores.

Thomas Brown had the first tailor shop, although William McCready had done some work in that line before Brown came, but never opened a shop.

There are now two tailor shops, owned by John H. Robinson and Hugh Wilson; three blacksmith shops, by Samuel Pettit, Joseph Hunter an, Wm. Boyd; one cabinet-maker and undertaker, Robert Ramsey.

The first schoolhouse in the town was a frame building, still standing, and at present used as a dwelling. The first teacher in it was Robert Miller. Long before this house was built, a log school-house was put up a quarter of a mile west of town, the date of its erection being about 1810-12. The two- story brick school-house now standing, was built about 1868. It contains four rooms, two on each floor.

Samuel Pettit has a carriage and wagon manufactory in connection with his blacksmith shop.

Mrs. Christy, Mrs. Hope and Mary Young have millinery establishments.

Thomas Wilson kept the first hotel, about 1834. It stood on the north side of the street, opposite the present "Central Hotel." Richard Hammond kept the same establishment after Wilson left it. The second hotel building was the present "Lamb House," built by Robert Hammond about 1835. The "Lawrence House," not now used for a hotel, was next built, and occupied for a while by a man named Weir. These buildings were never calculated to accommodate a very large number of guests, yet, from the number of public houses put up, the "tavern" business must have been a very respectable one. The present "Central House" occupies the site of the first tailor shop, and has been remodeled from a residence, and adapted to hotel purposes, within the past year or two.

A military company was partially organized, and officers elected, in the Summer of 1876, but at that time the company was unable to secure admission to the State service, and the organization was dropped for the time being.

A cornet band was organized in the Fall of 1876, with ten pieces, under the leadership of Augustus Carver, and is fast earning for itself a reputation for excellent talent and musical execution.

Neshannock Lodge, No. 521, I. O. O. F., was instituted July 5th, 1855, with about twelve members. From its organization, it has been prosperous, and now has a membership of about fifty. It is the second oldest Lodge of the order in the county, its only predecessor being Shenango Lodge, at New Castle. Its present officers are J. W. Scott, N. G.; R. W. Morris, V. G.; D. P. McCready, permanent secretary; J. H. Means, treasurer.

The first settler on the land where the borough of New Wilmington now stands, was James Hazlep, who came in 1798, and made the first improvernents. He afterward became the possessor of some eight hundred acres of land in the neighborhood. The oldest house in the vicinity is the one now occupied by George Dice. It was built by James Hazlep, about 1800. The old James Waugh residence, built of logs and weather-boarded, is now occupied by Mr. Moreland.

Benjamin Junkin, whose people settled where Hope Mills, Mercer county, are now located, in 1805, is living in the borough at an advanced age.

Thomas Pomeroy came to New Wilmington in 1834. His father, John Pomeroy, came from Derry township, Westmoreland county, Pa., and in 1815, located in Neshannock township, Lawrence county. In 1828, Thomas [p. 56] Pomeroy was married and removed to a place two miles east of New Wilmington, and in 1834 removed to the town where he is now living. In 1855, Mr. Pomeroy was elected one of the Associate Judges of Lawrence county, and has been twice elected since, having filled the office altogether for fourteen years. When he first came to the place he acted as Justice of the Peace for several years, and has also served as County Auditor, and was one year (1863) on the Internal Revenue Board of Pennsylvania, and two years, 1846-47, in the State Legislature.

William M. Francis came from Baltimore, Maryland, in 1839, and located in the then small village of New Wilmington. In February, 1841, he purchased a piece of land south of town, and built a house upon it, which has since been his residence. In the Winters of 1858-59-60, Mr. Francis represented Lawrence county in the State Senate, and was Speaker of the Senate in 1860.

James A. McLaugry came to New Wilmington from Mercer county, Pa., in 1835, and for two years taught school in the village. He was originally from Delaware county, New York, and from Wayne county, Pa., when he came to Mercer. Has lived on the place he now occupies since 1860. But two or three men are now living in the town who were there in 1834.


The First United Presbyterian Church was organized as an Associate Reformed congregation somewhere in the neighborhood of 1810-12. Its first church building was a rude log structure, never finished, and stood a short distance east of the subsequent location of the village. This church was originally called "Neshannock," but that name was finally dropped, and the present "Neshannock" U. P. Church is situated in the southern part of Hickory township. The congregation for sometime used the brick building now occupied by the post-office. Their present church is a substantial and commodious brick edifice, located in the north part of town.

The first preaching to the First United Presbyterian congregation was by Rev. Alexander Murray, who served while they occupied the old log church. Other ministers supplied the church for a number of years, and it was not until about 1832 that their first regular pastor was settled. This was Rev. Alexander Boyd, who ministered about six years. About 1840, Rev. David R. Imbrie was settled over the congregation and continued to serve for twenty-five years. Revs. J. R. Miller, and J. M. Donaldson preached after Mr. Imbrie, and in December, 1876, the present pastor, Rev. John H. Gibson, was installed. While Mr. Murray preached here he had four charges--Neshannock (New Wilmington), New Castle, Prospect (in Neshannock township), and Wolf Creek (in Butler county).

The Second United Presbyterian Church was organized as an Associate Reformed congregation by the Presbytery of the Lakes, February 27, 1850. Rev. Wm. Mehard was its first pastor, and still continues to serve. The original congregation consisted of thirty-two members. A church was built in 1852 and was used until 1862, since which time their meetings have been held in the college building. A Sabbath-school was organized in 1852, and has since been continued.

The Methodist Episcopal Society was organized about 1839, and the next year the present frame church was built. The building was enlarged and repaired in 1858. The first pastor of this congregation was probably Rev. Mr. Benn. Following him came Rev. Mr. Parker; then the appointment was made a double one, and Revs. Leslie and Lane were appointed. The present pastor is Rev. J. B. Wright. When the church was first organized the circuit was very large, and included New Wilmington, Mercer, Middlesex and other places. At present there are but two appointments on the circuit--New Wilmington and Eastbrook, the latter congregation in Hickory township. In the Spring of 1843, a Sabbath-school was organized at New Wilmington in connection with the Methodist Episcopal Church, with Robert Ramsey as its first superintendent. It has been kept up most of the time since its organization.

Westminster College is located here, and does much to enliven the place and render it prosperous. For a description of this interesting institution see another part of this volume.

What is remarkable for a town the size of New Wilmington, is the excellence of its sidewalks or pavements. Between six and seven thousand feet of fine stone pavement have been laid in the borough since the Summer of 1874. The work was done by O. J. Loutzenhiser, and its quality attests to his capability, and adds largely to the general improvement of the place.

The following is the history of the post-office at New Wilmington, taken directly from the Department at Washington, D. C., furnished through the efforts of Hon. Thomas Pomeroy, of New Wilmington, to whom we are much indebted for this and other valuable information. The office was established January 14th, 1828, and was known as New Wilmington P. O., Mercer county, Pa., in which county it was then located, it being before Lawrence county was erected. The post masters have been as follows:

John Carnahan, appointed January 14, 1828.
John Galloway, appointed May 8, 1828.
Joseph Cowden, appointed March 6, 1830.
Thomas Willson, appointed February 16, 1831.
Alexander Galloway, appointed April 20, 1835.
William D. Clark, appointed April 6, 1839.
James S. Hunter, appointed July 23, 1845.

In 1850, after Lawrence county was erected, the office was transferred to it, and the following is a list of the post masters since:

David McCombs, appointed April 12, 1850.
Hugh H. Means, appointed August 8, 1853.
James S. Hunter, appointed December 29, 1855.
John Balph, appointed April 12, 1858.
William Scott, appointed November 18, 1858.
Nelson P. Chambers, appointed April 30, 1861.
Mrs. Ellen M. Black, appointed January 12, 1866.
Henry H. Dinsmore, appointed September 22, 1873.

The last named is the present incumbent.

From the 1770 - 1877 History of Lawrence County by S. W. and P. A. DURANT.

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Updated: 28 Dec 2000, 17:40