History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania, 1770 - 1877, by S.W. and P.A. Durant.
[p. 93] There was in each of the original counties of Beaver and Mercer, a township called Slippery Rock. These two townships adjoined each other, and as long as they were in separate counties they were known by the county in which each was located. On the division of Mercer and Beaver counties, and the creation therefrom of Lawrence county, these two townships were brought together in the same county. To distinguish them apart one was called Slippery Rock and the other North Slippery Rock. But finally, North Slippery Rock was divided east and west through the center, on the 13th day of April, 1854, and two new townships formed from it, North Slippery Rock no longer being retained as the name of the township or any part of it. The new organizations were called Washington and Scott, the former being the northern half of the old township and the latter the southern. This order was maintained until February 14, 1855, when the eastern portions of Washington and Scott were erected into a new township called Plain Grove. On the 15th day of February, 1859, Washington township was enlarged by the addition of a strip three-fourths of a mile in width taken from Scott, leaving the three townships in the shape they now are. This was from territory originally in the county of Mercer. Old Slippery Rock (or North Slippery Rock) township was erected sometime between the third Monday of November, 1805, and the third Monday of February, 1806.
The surface of Plain Grove township is less broken than most of those in Lawrence county. The soil is generally fertile and productive. The area of the township is about eleven thousand eight hundred acres.
The improvements in many parts are excellent, and as an agricultural township Plain Grove is not behind any in the county in most respects. It is well watered and possesses a considerable amount of timber.
Two streams of some size head near the northern boundary of the township and flow in a southerly course, discharging their waters into Slippery Rock creek. These streams are Taylor's and Jamison's runs. The power on each has been utilized, and since a very early date mills have been operated on their banks. Each has a number of small tributaries.
Originally there extended through nearly the center of the township, east and west, a strip of pine timber, reaching across into both Mercer and Butler counties. This strip was about a-quarter of a mile wide, and at one time contained some valuable timber, but the best has been culled out. The strip is not continuous, as in places narrow belts of land, covered with other varieties of timber, cross it. There were in Plain Grove township several hundred acres of this timber originally.
The coal resources of Plain Grove are extensive, and in numerous places mines are worked. The first banks in the township were opened in the neighborhood of the year 1840. The oldest banks were those opened by John and Isaac Lowry and Joseph Totten. The mouth of the Isaac Lowry mine is in Scott township, close to the line of Plain Grove, and the coal is taken out underneath land in the latter. The Joseph Totten bank (old one) has not been worked for two years. William H. H. Miles mines on a small scale, as do a number of others. The thickness of the veins in the township will average about three feet, the coal being of a good quality.
About 1860 a number of test-wells were bored for oil in the township, owing to the strong excitement raised by the discovery of oil in great quantities in the newly-opened oil regions of Butler and Venango counties.
On the farm of W. H. H. Miles a well was put down about one hundred and twenty-five feet, passing through fine beds of coal at the depths of thirty, sixty and ninety feet. The excitement in the main oil regions tended largely toward stopping the work in this part of Lawrence county, and it was finally abandoned altogether.
Another well was bored on the farm of Joseph Moore, just in the edge of Butler county. Mr. Moore's residence was in Lawrence county. This was also abandoned. In both the Miles and Moore wells a fine stream of water was tapped, and these have continued flowing ever since in a strong stream.
The rebellion broke out in 1861, and finished the oil business for at least a time, as far as this township was concerned, and nothing has been done at it since. This is out of the oil belt, but the article possibly exists in paying quantities in some places.
Iron ore is also found in the township, and generally of a fair quality. Along Slippery Rock creek the "blue ore" abounds, but is much harder to work than the "red ore," and does not pay as well, consequently it is not much used.
About 1853-55, the "Myra Furnace" was built by Emery & Culbertson and operated by those parties until 1870. Mr. Culbertson died just before the institution broke up. Of itself it was a paying establishment, but the proprietors became interested in numerous other furnaces, and, owing to the heavy strain, were obliged to close up their business. The ore they used was taken out in the immediate vicinity, together with the other necessary articles for their use, limestone and coal. The ore was of the red quality, generally easily worked. Most of it could be shoveled up readily, while with some of it the use of the pick and blast became necessary. It was similar to the ore now taken from the banks of Grannis, Houk & Co., in Shenango township.
Nothing is now done in the township either in mining or manufacturing iron, and probably nothing will be until a railroad from some good market shall open the territory and afford superior shipping advantages to those it now possesses.
Of the land in Plain Grove, as well as in other parts of the county, much was not patented for several years after it was first settled, and other tracts were never patented, and were finally sold for taxes. In many cases the original surveys were productive of considerable litigation on account of inaccuracies in description.
Among the early patents are the following:
The farm now owned by J. M. Lawrence, Esq., was patented by Benjamin Pearson, January 31, 1806, in pursuance of a warrant issued in 1805. The original tract was called "Hope," and consisted of four hundred acres. It was probably settled by Mr. Pearson, and is now owned by J. M. Lawrence, Esq., John Offutt and William J. Offutt.
On the 18th of December, 1818, a patent was issued to William George for two hundred and fifty-eight acres, including the place where David George now lives.
John Gealy's patent was granted October 6, 1810; warrant issued May 31, 1806. The amount of land was three hundred and ninety-four acres and sixty-four perches, and was patented as "Gay Lodge," and described as lying in "Slippery Rock township, Mercer county," which it then was, the township having been erected about the beginning of that year.
Michael Brown's patent was dated March 23, 1807. The land described is located partly in Plain Grove township and partly in Washington.
A patent for three hundred and ninety-two acres was granted to Joshua Miles, April 29th, 1812. It is now owned by Joseph Elder, ____ Moore, John Grandy, and Lewis Miles.
James, Thomas, John and Robert McCommon were granted a patent April 18th, 1815, to four hundred and seven acres and one hundred and thirty-one perches. The survey was made November 15th, 1815.
A patent was issued to Marmaduke Jamison on the 13th of April, 1814. The land has since been in the hands of Francis Jamison, Marmaduke Jamison, Jr., John Christy, Archibald Glenn, John G. Glenn, John Barber and Andrew Glenn, and is now owned by G. W. White, David Hamilton, George B. Hamilton, William C. Glenn, J. Barber, Andrew Glenn, James Moore and Henry Brenneman.
Samuel Allen and James Blair received a patent dated October 2d, 1818.
James George and Martha Newell--patent dated July 16th 1807; warrant issued April 8th, 1805.
John Offutt bought one hundred and sixty-five acres of Benjamin Pearson, the deed being dated May 31st, 1806.
Hugh McKee received a patent for three hundred and ninety-seven acres on the 21st of March, 1809.
These are but a portion of earlier issues of patents, as far as we have been able to obtain them, and in almost every case the settlement was made a number of years before the patent was given.
Sometime in the Summer of 1798, Adam McCracken, who was originally from Ireland, settled on the farm now owned by Alexander McCracken. He settled four hundred acres, getting half for settling.
Henry Hagan came in the same Fall, and made a small clearing, and built a cabin on the adjoining four-hundred-acre tract. The following year (1799), he brought his family, having gone back after them when he had completed his improvements. Mr. Hagan had seven children. His son John was the oldest; of his daughters, Rachel was born in Chester county, Pa., in April, 1787, and Margaret in Allegheny, in June, 1799. Her father had moved from Chester county, and lived a year there before coming to Lawrence. He was originally from Ireland. In 1818 Rachel Hagen was [p. 94) married to James McCracken, and is yet living, aged ninety years. A son of Mr. Hagan died in 1805 or 1806. His name was Henry. Mr. Hagan himself died in 1840, and his wife in 1843.
For a year or two after these families came, they had all their provisions to "pack" from Pittsburgh. A mill was not long after put up by Jonathan Harlan, where the village of Harlansburg now stands, and after this the settlers were not obliged to go as far.
A few other families were living in the neighborhood, who had come out in 1798, the year previous to the Hagan settlement, consequently neighbors were comparatively plenty.
Among those who settled in the immediate neighborhood was James McCommon (sometimes spelled McCalmont). He was born in Scotland, and when young went to Ireland. From Ireland he emigrated to Carlisle, Cumberland county, Pa., thence to Westmoreland county, and finally, in 1798, came to what is now Plain Grove township, Lawrence county, and settled on a four-hundred acre tract. The old homestead is now owned by Thomas McCommon. The family, when he settled, consisted of himself, wife and seven children. Of the children, but one--Margaret--is now living. Mr. McCommon died about 1804-6. He planted an orchard about 1800, and the orchards on the Hagan, McCracken, Wallace and other farms in the neighborhood, were planted about the same time.
Another neighbor was George Rogers, who came from County Armagh, Ireland, about 1790, and settled first in Washington county, Pa. About 1798 he came to Plain Grove township, and located on a farm now owned by David Blair and others, Mr. Blair occupying the old homestead. Mr. Roger's son, William, married a girl named Hathaway (?), living near Harlansburg, and in 1800 George W. Rogers was born on the old place. Betsey Rogers, a sister to William, was married to Alexander McCracken, and her husband afterwards--about 1800 0r 1801 - went to Alabama, and died on his way back. His wife died soon after she learned of his death, and her's was one of the first deaths in the neighborhood, the first being that of a child of James Denniston, and the second that of Henry Hagan, Jr., before mentioned. At that time there was no grave-yard, and the bodies were interred in a field belonging to Mr. Denniston, now in the limits of Mercer county. This land has ever since been used for burial purposes. It is but a short distance across in Mercer county, near the property owned by John Stephenson.
Andrew Denniston located in the northwest part of what is now Plain Grove township, about the time the other families came to the neighborhood, in 1798-9. Some of the same name were among the first settlers in what is now Springfield township, Mercer county.
After the Rogers family came, they "packed" flour from Westmoreland county for some time, probably ceasing to do so after Harlan's mill was built. When this family settled, the children were generally grown, and some of them were married.
Charles Blair and Samuel Allen settled in the same neighborhood with those already mentioned, the two coming together in 1799.
Michael Brown, William and Andrew Wallace and John Green also came early. None of them are now in the township.
The Wallaces settled a tract adjoining the Hagan farm, and Brown and Green were a mile or more to the south of them. The farms of Brown and Green lay alongside each other. The Brown farm was the one now occupied by John and David Bingham, who came sometime subsequent to 1800.
Andrew Wallace died and left his property to his brother William, who sold the whole tract in 1811 to James Burns, and the old homestead is now occupied by Joseph M. Burns.
James Burns was born near Florence Court, County Fermanagh, Ireland, June 5, 1778, and about June, 1794-95, he emigrated to America, and settled in Carlisle, Cumberland county, Pa. There he staid a few years, and in 1803 came to Brownsville, Fayette county, where he lived three years and a-half, and afterwards removed to a farm on "Ginger Hill," near Bentleysville, Washington county. In 1810 he was married to Mary Morrow, of Washington county, and in April, 1812, he came with his wife and child, Thomas H. Burns, to the Wallace farm, which he had purchased the year previous. He brought his family and goods on the backs of three horses. Mrs. Burns rode one horse, carrying her child on her knee. Eight children were born in the family, four boys and four girls. Seven of them are yet living. Mr. Burns lived on the old place until 1864, when he died in eighty-seventh year.
The orchard on the hill east of Alexander McCracken's house, was planted in the neighborhood of 1800, and bears evidence of having withstood the blasts of three-quarters of a century.
The farm of one hundred acres, where Alexander McCracken now lives, was owned by his father, Thomas McCracken, a son of Adam McCracken, and a soldier of the war of 1812. Its location is in a fine portion of the township, as are indeed all that were settled in the neighborhood, the settlers evincing good judgment in selecting this locality wherein to build their homes.
Jonathan Williams came about 1798, and settled on the farm now occupied by Eli Rogers. He was from Chester county, Pa., and came about the same time with the Glenns and Cunninghams, who settled in the same neighborhood, partially in the present county of Mercer. The Cunninghams located where the present town of Pine Grove, Mercer county, stands, and built a grist and a saw-mill on Wolf creek, at that place, some of the family afterwards laying out the town of Pine Grove. The farm Mr. Williams settled consisted of two hundred acres.
William Elliott, a surveyor and civil engineer, came from the neighborhood of east Liberty, or the "Bullock Pens," near Pittsburgh, about 1793-94, and surveyed land which he was interested in as a "land jobber." He had control of several thousand acres in different localities, lying largely in what are now Lawrence and Butler counties. In 1799, soon after he was married, he made a settlement on land lying partly in each of these counties. In this immediate vicinity he had eight or nine hundred acres. He kept "bachelor's hall" for a while, and finally went back after his wife. About 1803-4 he built a log grist-mill on the site of the present frame mill owned by his son, J.P. Elliott. In the old mill Mr. Elliott had a bolting chest, and did considerable work for that time. The present mill was built by J. P. Elliott, in 1844, and stands on the site of the old one on Jamison's run, very near its junction with Slippery Rock creek.
Jamison's run was so named from a man who settled early on its banks. James P. Elliott was born February 4th, 1800, and his was the first birth in the southern part of the township, and possibly throughout its entire extent. The present mill contains three runs of stone and does a large business, principally custom-grinding. William Elliott died in 1813, aged thirty-eight years.
Robert Jamison came originally from Ireland, and on his arrival in Pennsylvania located on Kiskeminetas creek, where he staid for some time, and finally came on and procured land of William Elliott, settling on a four-hundred-acre tract, of which he received half for so doing. Jamison sold the property to Archibald Armstrong, who came in 1825, but did not locate on the place before 1831.
About the year 1800, William George came to the township. He was originally from Ireland, and, when he first arrived, lived with his brother, James George, near North Liberty, Mercer county. Soon afterwards he went to work on the farm now owned by J. P. Elliott, and also staid part of the time about Harrisville, Butler county. About 1805 or 1806 he was married to Phebe Sawyer, who arrived before him, and was living at William Elliott's. Soon after his marriage he settled the farm now owned by his children, David, Mary and Eleanor, the place being called Georgetown. In 1833-34 he built a log-house on the place, and in 1835 erected a log grist-mill containing a pair of burrs and a pair of "country stone" (two run of stone). The wheel, gearing, and nearly everything about the mill, were made of wood. The wheel was a twenty-feet "breast wheel." The old mill is yet standing, though long abandoned; it was built on the east bank of Taylor's run, said stream named from Thomas Taylor, an early settler near it.
About the year 1798, James Ramsey came from the Chartier's Valley, in Washington county, Pa., and settled on the farm now owned by John Lowry. The tract originally contained something over three hundred acres. He built a log-cabin on the place and made other improvements. The cabin was burned soon after his marriage, which occurred in 1801, to Sarah Taylor. Mr. Ramsey's father settled in Beaver county, and never located in Lawrence. He may possibly have been a soldier during the Revolution, but the fact is not known positively. James Ramsey's first child, a daughter named Ayls, was born in 1802.
About 1795-96, Thomas Taylor came from the Ligonier valley, in Westmoreland county, Pa., and settled on the farm now owned by Joseph Totten, his cabin standing on the hill just across from the present location of Mr. Totten's residence. Mr. Taylor's daughter, Sarah, who came with him, is said to have been the first white woman who ever crossed the Slippery Rock creek.
In the month of November, 1798, John Gealey came with his family from Washington county, Pennsylvania, where they lived on the bank of Peter's creek. At the time Mr. Gealey settled, his family consisted of his wife and eight children, but only part of them came with him. He had been out in 1797, and made improvements, bringing with him his daughter Margaret, [p. 95] who did the cooking for him while he was busy getting the place in shape to receive his family. After finishing their work for that Fall, they went back, and in 1798 Mr. Gealey again came out, bringing with him this time his oldest daughter and his son William, the latter about six weeks old at the time. Mr. Gealey left his children alone in the wilderness for a while, and went back after his wife and the rest of his family. The two children had not seen their mother for about a year, and when she came, in 1799, the meeting between her and her children can better be imagined than described. The children who came with their mother in 1799, were Renwick and Sarah. Mr. Gealey and his son Henry each settled a four-hundred-acre tract. In 1800 the oldest son, James Gealey, was married to Mary M. Smith, who was living with Charles Blair, in the northern part of the township. As before stated, Blair settled in 1799, in company with Samuel Allen.
When Mr. Gealey first came, in 1797, he raised a log cabin, made a small clearing, and raised some corn. He brought his goods with him in a wagon, which was probably the first one in the township. A road had to be cut ahead in order to get the wagon through, and they advanced but slowly. The old homestead is now owned by the youngest son, Renwick Gealey. The name is spelled by some "Gailey," but the correct way is "Gealey." William Gealey is yet living, at the age of eighty-five years. His wife, Joanna, is a daughter of James Stewart, who settled in 1798 in what is now Perry township, coming from what was then Adams county, Pennsylvania. His father, Matthew Stewart, had served in the Revolution. Mrs. Gealey (Joanna Stewart) was born April 24, 1801, and is yet living.
The Gealey family descended from James Gealey, who came from Ireland when a young man, probably about 1745. He married in this country.
The land which John Gealey settled was settled under Elliott & Denniston, "land jobbers"--Mr. Gealey, although having served in the Revolution, not choosing to settled on "donation" land.
John Gealey's wife was Mary Renwick, a descendant of James Renwick, of Scotland. Her brother, William Renwick, died at Black Rock, N. Y., while serving as a soldier in the war of 1812.
The Gealeys occupy excellent farms, and the family has become numerous in the neighborhood where John Gealey first settled.
James McCune came about 1800 to 1802, from what was then Huntingdon, now Blair county, and partially improved farm now owned by James C. Shaw. About 1810 he removed to the farm on which his son, David McCune, Esq., now lives, purchasing it from Hugh Hamilton, the original settler. The first farm upon which he located he purchased at two dollars per acre, from Robert Cochran, a "land jobber," who owned considerable land in the neighborhood, and had settled about 1795-96 just east of Plain Grove.
James McCune was captain of militia in old Slippery Rock township, when it was in Mercer county, and was out twice at Erie during the war of 1812-15.
The country south of Plain Grove Church was originally a plain, with no timber upon it larger than scrubby brush, and when Mr. McCune first came he drove his wagon through it without paying attention to the best way, as the path was equally good anywhere. Timber has since grown upon it, but has been cut away.
Hugh McKee came from Ireland in the year 1788, and afterwards, about 1796-98, came to what is now Plain Grove township and settled. His patent is one of the earliest issued to settlers in the township, and bears date March 21, 1809. It calls for three hundred and ninety-seven acres.
Most of the lands in the townships are "warrant lands," and were extensively operated by "land jobbers."
On Taylor's run, above where William Gealey now lives, there was formerly a beaver dam, and both beaver and otter were quite plenty. The Indians came all the way from their villages in Mercer county to trap them, and the noted Indian, Harth-e-gig, with his squaw and three or four dogs wintered occasionally in a sugar camp near by.
Nathan Offutt had a saw-mill early, and Robert Ramsey another one still earlier.
The orchard on Esquire David McCune's place was planted by his father, James McCune, about the time he came to the farm (1810), and the trees or a few of them, are yet standing--
With their gnarled and knotty branches
Covered with the moss of age.
A store was built near Plain Grove Church about 1832-3, by H. Bovard. It was a two-story frame building, containing a general stock, such as is usually found in country stores. Mr. Bovard continued the business till the Spring of 1868, when A. McKinney assumed control, and kept it in the same place until 1875, after which he removed to his present location, one-half mile north of the old stand, near the United Presbyterian Church. The large frame store-building he now occupies was built in the Fall of 1875.
A post-office was established at Plain Grove some time during the stay of Mr. Bovard, who was the first postmaster. During Buchanan's administration it was removed to the cross-roads, one mile north, and kept by Alexander McBride, who came from Harlansburg, and had a store for about a year at the corners. The office was afterwards transferred to Mr. Bovard, and, with the exception of McBride's short occupation of it, Mr. Bovard held it from the first until Mr. McKinney took it, in 1868. Mr. M. is the present postmaster. The office is named Plain Grove.
Aquilla Miles has a blacksmith shop near the site of Bovard's old store, and it is the only one ever located in the place.
About 1873 Andrew Breckenridge opened a store half a mile below the site of the one formerly owned by Bovard. It is a frame building, at present owned by Sidney Kirker, who keeps only groceries.
Near the old George grist-mill a blacksmith shop was built about 1854-6 by Alexander Pollock, who has worked in it ever since.
About 1850 a foundry was built by J. M. Emery, the same person who was interested in the Myra Furnace. The establishment was operated several years and finally abandoned. It stood southeast of the mill and blacksmith shop.
REVOLUTIONARY WAR.--John Gealey, who came to the township first in 1797, had served with his brother William during the Revolution.
The father of James Ramsey located in Beaver county, and had possibly been a soldier of the Revolution, but those of his descendants now living in the township are not certain of the fact.
WAR OF 1812-15.--Those who served in this war from Plain Grove were quite numerous. They generally went to Erie.
Among the names we find--
James, John and Thomas McCommon, who came to the township with their father, James McCommon, in 1798.
Thomas and James McCracken came with their father, Adam McCracken, the same year with the McCommons, and also served in the war.
William Rogers, a near neighbor.
James Burns, who came in 1811, was out in Captain Denniston's company of the 134th Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Hosack a part of the time.
James Ramsey was out as second lieutenant and went to Erie.
James, Henry, John, William and Renwick Gealey were out, all but Renwick in Captain James Denniston's company of the 134th. Renwick was in Captain James Robinson's company of the same regiment. They all went to Erie, but never saw any hard fighting. Mr. Gealey says the British ship "Queen Charlotte" came up within range and fired on the batteries which the United States troops were supporting, but without doing any damage. The batteries returned the fire, and four men were seen to fall on the British vessel, which quickly stood out of range. This was while the troops were working the American vessels over the bar.
William Renwick, a brother of John Gealey's wife, died at Black Rock during the service.
James McCune was out twice to Erie, and after the war served as militia captain.
Militia organizations and volunteer rifle companies were kept up for many years after the war.
WAR OF THE REBELLION.--Plain Grove, as well as her sister townships arose to meet the call for troops after Fort Sumter was fired upon, and sons of the veterans of 1812, and grandsons of Revolutionary heroes, came, in their turn, to do battle for freedom's cause, and like Arnold Winkelried, "made way for liberty," many giving up their lives in the conflict. The 100th (Roundhead) regiment was the one in which the township was principally represented.
A school-house was built about 1803 in a field belonging to Henry Hagan, in the southwest part of the township. It was built of round logs, and was the first one in the neighborhood. Andrew Denniston was the first teacher.
About 1805-6 a school-house was built on Robert Jamison's land, the first teacher being a man named Robb. Many a trick was played on him, but he held his own against them all. Finally a plan was arranged to turn him out, but he in some way heard of it, and shut himself in the building and barred the door, and held it for nine days against them, provisions being [p. 96] brought him in the night. The pupils saw ther [sic] game blocked, and, in their desperation, racked their brains for some expedient to get the "master" out of the school-house. Finally, some person with an overplus of ingenuity, bethought him of a plan; he procured a package of "brimstone," or sulphur, and climbing to the roof with a number of others, poured the contents of the paper down the chimney upon the fire, and he and one or two others spread their hunting shirts over the top of the chimney, and in a minute or two more Robb had torn away the bar from the door, and emerged, coughing and sputtering, completely beaten after the long siege he had withstood. Some of the witnesses to the affair remarked that "they guessed he smelt hell fast!"
Another school-house was built in the George and Taylor neighborhood about 1803-4, and a man named Mitchell was probably the first teacher.
Another was erected on the Martin farm, near the present residence of Robert McCune, and in this building a man named Gurley, or Gourley, was an early teacher.
About 1822-24, an old-fashioned log school-house was built on Nathan Offutt's farm, the first teacher being Wm. Coulton.
After the law establishing free-schools was passed (1834), a building was put up on a piece of land taken partly from the George farm and partly from the place then owned by John Bentley. David McCune taught the first Winter in it, and David Clark was the next male teacher. Elizabeth Burns taught also. The building was erected in 1838.
The number of schools in the township in 1875, was six, with an enrollment of two hundred and forty-one school children, of whom one hundred and thirty-nine were males and one hundred and two females.
Sometime between 1796 and 1800, a gathering was held to take action in regard to organizing a Presbyterian society and building a church. The two oldest men at the gathering, Thomas Taylor and David Armstrong, were appointed a committee to find a name for the church. After the location was fixed, the name was given to it, "Plain Grove." The country to the south was a bushy plain, and to the west was a glade, while on the eminence fixed as the site for the building of the church there stood a small grove, so that the name was suggested by the surroundings of the location, and Plain Grove fixed upon.
The first elders of the congregation were William McNees and Joseph Campbell.
The first pastor was Rev. William Wood, who was ordained and installed pastor of Plain Grove and Center, November 3, 1802, by the Presbytery of Erie. Dr. McMillan was present, and by invitation delivered the charges to pastor and people. Mr. Wood was released from the pastoral charge of Plain Grove, October 7, 1816. During his pastorate there were numerous cases of the "falling exercise."
The next pastor was Rev. John Munson, who was ordained and installed February 28, 1818. He was released February 5, 1839, after a pastorate of twenty-one years.
The present pastor, Rev. Robert B. Walker, D. D., was ordained and installed April 2, 1839. The church had at that time a membership of one hundred and seventy-six. It is now under the care of the Presbytery of Allegheny.
Rev. Wm. Wood was born in York county, Pa., March 27, 1776. Samuel Wood, his father, was born in London, England, in 1749, came to America in 1768, and married Mrs. Isabella Sankey, in York county, Pa. He died in Butler county in 1817, leaving four children--William, Samuel, Benjamin and Isabella. William was the oldest. He attended the Cannonsburg Academy, and afterwards studied theology in Dr. McMillan's log cabin. In the 26th day of December, 1800, he was received by the Presbytery of Ohio as a candidate for the ministry, and was licensed to preach, October 29, 1801. During the following Winter he spent his time among vacant churches and missionary points, and was then dismissed in order to put himself under the care of the Presbytery of Erie, which received him April 20, 1802. Having accepted calls from Plain Grove and Center, he was ordained and installed over those congregations at a meeting of the Presbytery held at Plain Grove, November 3, 1802. Rev. Robert Lee preached on the occasion, and, as before stated, Dr. McMillan delivered the charges. Mr. Wood was dismissed from Center, august 24, 1808 and from Plain Grove, October 7, 1816. April 1, 1817, he was dismissed to the Presbytery of Hartford (Beaver), being prepared to accept calls from the congregations of Hopewell and Neshannock. Over these churches he was installed pastor, October 22, 1817. At Hopewell he labored for eleven years, being dismissed June 25, 1828.
Mr. Wood died in Utica, Licking county, Ohio, on the 31st day of July, 1839, in the sixty-fourth year of his age, and the thirty-ninth of his ministry. May 17, 1798, he had been united in marriage to Miss Margaret Donald, of Washington county, Pa. They had twelve children, two of whom were physicians. The elder, John D., settled in Franklin, Venango county, and the younger in Pulaski, Lawrence county. Both are now deceased. William Wood's wife died at Utica, Ohio, April 20, 1843.
In the old cemetery at Plain Grove Church are some ancient headstones, many of them so moss-grown and worn by time that the names are nearly obliterated. Slabs of native sandstone were largely used, and they have not proved as lasting as the marble slabs afterwards introduced. Following is appended a list of some of the earlier deaths with names and ages:
David Armstrong died March 20, 1811, aged sixty-four years.
Sarah Armstrong died February 3, 1816, aged fifty-six years.
William Elliott, Jr., died March 25, 1811, aged nine years.
John Emery died May 13, 1814, aged seventy-two years.
Hugh Wallace died January 11, 1820, aged seventy-eight years.
Archibald McCune died August 4, 1825, aged fifty-one years.
Mary Jack died January 18, 1816, aged forty-four years.
Charles Martin died November 19, 1828, aged seventy-seven years.
Thomas Taylor died February 7, 1829, aged eighty-five years.
Ayls Taylor died March 7, 1834, aged eighty-eight years.
William Ewing died June 4, 1819, aged thirty-six years.
Alexander Ewing died ____ ____, aged eighty-two years.
Mary Ewing died _____, 1810, aged forty-four years.
Samuel Campbell died May 8, 1826, aged ninety-eight years.
Anne Davison died February 8, 1823, aged eighty-five years.
Betsy Whitaker died December ___, 1812, aged forty-seven years.
William Whitaker died ____ _____, (stone much moss-grown.)
Mary Whitaker died March 9, 1813, aged eighty-six years (illegible).
Sera Dilley died July 4, 1817, aged fifty-nine years.
Price Dilley, Sr., died May 22, 1826, aged seventy-two years.
John Means died ____, 1824, aged 7_ years.
James Glenn died February 20, 1817, aged seventy-four years.
Elizabeth Glenn died November 23, 1815, aged seventy years.
Elizabeth Henderson died March 31, 1811, aged forty-one years.
On an old headstone is inscribed on the face the following inscription:
Departed this life,
On Monday, the 21
Of May, A. D., 1832,
(Consort of John Boyd),
Aged 34 years, 6
months, and five days.
On the back of the stone is the following quaint rhyme:
Reader, reflect as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I;
As I am now, so must you bee--
O bare in minde eternite.
The cemetery is situated on the brow of the hill, immediately west of the church. The church is a large brick building. Their first church was a small log structure, which stood on the same spot.
This is one of the oldest church organizations in Lawrence county, and has witnessed many changes in the country since the pioneer members first thought of "rearing a temple in the wilderness."
The next church in age in the township is the Methodist Episcopal. The pioneer Methodist in the township was James Burns, who settled on the old Wallace farm in 1812. For some time there was no Methodist preaching in the neighborhood, and Mr. Burns supported the Presbyterian Church. But he was soon found by itinerant Methodist preachers, and his house was opened to them both as a home and a preaching place. This house, which was a very good one for that day, is still standing. It was built of hewed logs, and has a shingle roof and stone chimney. The first Methodist preachers who came through this territory were Shadrach Rourke and John McMahan. James Watt was another. Meetings were held until 1840, in Mr. Burns' house, which was known as the "Burns appointment." The house was eighteen by twenty-four feet in dimensions. The preacher stood, while speaking, with his back to a window of four lights of eight-by-ten glass.
The Nazareth Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1840, and superceded the "Burns appointment." It is two miles north of the first preaching place within the limits of Mercer county (Springfield township). The first church was built of logs, on land given to the church by Washington Sedwick, and deeded to James Burns, Thomas Nelson and others, trustees in trust for the society. This house was used until 1860, when the member-[p. 97] ship and congregation had increased to such an extent that it became necessary to erect a new building to accommodate them. Accordingly, a neat frame structure was built, and within it the congregation continues to worship.
In the year 1860 the Nazareth congregation divided, and a portion of them built what is known as "Mount Pleasant" Church, in Plain Grove township, Lawrence county. It stands one and a-half miles southeast from the old Burns appointment, and was first opened for service December 11, 1860. The dedicatory services on that day were conducted by Rev. G. W. Clarke, pastor is Rev. J. M. Crouch. The first pastor was Rev. S. A. Milroy. The ground on which the house is built, and that on which the burying ground is located was given by Noah Rodgers, and deeded to J. M. Burns, Charles Blair, T. McCommon and others, trustees in trust for the Methodist Episcopal Church. The house is a large frame structure, and is enclosed with a board fence.
James Burns, who saw the bud of Methodism in Plain Grove open its petals in his old log-house in 1814, lived to see the flower thus developed grow to a large and flourishing degree. The three houses of worship were built in his time, and when he died, in 1864, he had witnessed wonderful changes since the first itinerant found him a lone Methodist, worshiping with the Presbyterians.
Plain Grove United Presbyterian Church was organized about 1859. Their first regular pastor was Rev. James B. Whitten, who staid until about 1874, when Rev. J. C. Bingham came and took charge for six months. After him came Rev. J. L. Robertson, who has had charge since. The church has at different times been supplied. A Sabbath-school has been held in connection with the church from the start. The first elders were William and Renwick Gealey, H. Bovard, Robert Peebles, James Nelson and G. B. Hamilton. They are the same at present, with the addition of Daniel Minick. The present fine brick church was built in 1860. It is situated half a mile north of Plain Grove Presbyterian Church. The present membership of the United Presbyterian Church is about seventy-five, and does not vary materially from what it was originally. The location of the church, in the edge of a fine grove, is pleasant and beautiful.
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: 21 Mar 2001, 14:40