History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania, 1770 - 1877, by S.W. and P.A. Durant.
[p. 128] This was one of the original townships of the county, and was formerly a part of North Sewickley township, Beaver county. Wayne dates its origin from the same time Lawrence county was erected, and at first took in only that portion of it north of Conoquenessing creek, that south remaining as North Sewickley until some time afterwards, when it was added to Wayne.
The township of Wayne has an area of about eleven thousand five hundred acres, and is peopled with a prosperous community of farmers. The improvements throughout the township are of a high order of excellence, and the resources it possesses, both in an agricultural and mineral point of view, are almost inexhaustible.
The surface is broken to an extensive degree, the hills rising three or four hundred feet above the valleys in many places.
A considerable portion of the township is yet well supplied with timber, especially along the streams.
[p. 129] The approaches to Slippery Rock and Conoquenessing creeks are through deep gorges and thinly-settled localities, although along the latter stream the land is easier adapted to farming purposes, and is consequently filled up more. On the south side of it, towards the line of Beaver county, is a broad, level table-land, reaching back a mile or two to a range of hills bounding it on the south. The land here is rich and fertile.
The township contains the three villages of Wurtemburg, Chewton and Staylesville, the latter one of the places which sprang up while the old canal was in existence, and was superseded by Newport, in Big Beaver township, after the canal was abandoned and the railroad built.
Wayne township has for its western boundary the Big Beaver river, numerous tributaries of which head within its limits. On the east, Slippery Rock creek forms the boundary between Wayne and Perry, and the Conoquenessing enters on the south from Beaver county, and after receiving the waters of the Slippery Rock, curves around through the southern part of the township, and finally enters the Big Beaver on the line between Lawrence and Beaver counties.
Slippery Rock creek flows in a southerly direction until it reaches Wurtemburg, and here it is met by a towering bluff three hundred and ninety feet high, and obliged to turn aside. From here it flows to the westward, roaring over a dam which breasts its waters at Wurtemburg, and foaming angrily on down the channel as if seeking revenge for being turned from its course. As it proceeds it nerves itself for a conflict with the waters of the Conoquennessing, which are coming "head on" to meet it, eager for the fray. The two streams meet from almost exactly opposite directions, and after a momentary contest compromise by turning square to the north. This direction they keep until they have gone perhaps a hundred rods, when the Slippery Rock makes another effort, and bends its adversary to the west. Soon the Conoquenessing rouses, and in turn doubles the other to the eastward, but this is only a momentary victory, for the struggle is again renewed, the high bluffs rendering their aid on the side of the Slippery Rock, and again the tide is turned westward. After this the course is settled, and the mingled waters of the two streams flow onward and enter the Beaver, the frowning "Rocky Point" being a witness to their peaceful flow. The stream enters the Beaver at almost an exact right-angle and at its mouth is probably one hundred and eighty feet in width. Just above the mouth of the Conoquenessing a dam was built during canal days, for slack-water purposes, and is still standing.
The scenery along the streams is wild and impressive, especially that of the Slippery Rock and Conoquenessing. The latter has no bottom lands, at all, and the former only very narrow strips in some places. High above the streams, however, and at the base of a still higher range of hills, there are comparatively broad plateaux, the surface of them being extremely fertile.
On a stream which flows into the Big Beaver a mile below Chewton, there are several precipitous falls, fifteen or twenty feet each, where the water tumbles over jagged rocks and rushes among heaped-up bowlders [sic] nearly to its junction with the Beaver.
The greater part of the land in Wayne township is in the Chew district, and was divided into four-hundred-acre tracts, each settler on a tract becoming entitled to half for settling. There are also numerous tracts which were granted to the Washington Academy, of Washington, Pa.
Coal was discovered by James Dobbs, near Wurtemberg, about 1826. Dobbs was at the time working at Moses Matheny's salt wells. Since then, coal veins have been developed in various localities in the township. A bank was opened on a tract of Academy land, south of Chewton, and worked for some time, but it is now abandoned. Nearly every farm in the township is probably underlaid with coal. Above Wurtemburg several mines are worked, and in the northern and western portions of the township a considerable number of persons have opened banks. The vein is called a three-feet vein, but has only about twenty-eight inches of coal on an average, the most being more or less mixed with slate. The coal is generally of a very good quality.
Limestone is found in many localities, but, like all the limestone of this region, lies in thin, ragged strata, and is not fit for building purposes, although it makes a very good quality of lime. The limestone exists near the summits of the hills, and is simply what remains of a once continuous bed, before the country was cut so deeply by the numerous streams into the rough condition we now behold. The stone is found at an average height, and of a nearly uniform thickness and quality, proving that the stratum was once continuous.
Iron-ore is also found, both of the red and blue varieties. About 1855-6, Charles Rhodes bought half an acre of land on the stream which empties into the Big Beaver below Chewton, and intended to erect a saw-mill. While excavating a place in which to set his wheel, he struck a vein of the "blue ore," and immediately abandoned the purpose of building a saw-mill, and began taking out ore. The business paid him well, and raised a great excitement in the vicinity. It was the first iron-ore discovered in the township, and immediately a number of persons began prospecting. Finally, John Warner discovered a bank of the "red ore," in some places reaching a thickness of twenty-two feet. Dr. John Wallace purchased this bank and worked it extensively. It is mostly worked out, though small quantities are still taken from it. Iron-ore abounds throughout the neighborhood, and many are yet prospecting for it.
The existence of the red ore was not known until after the discovery of the blue ore, but, when it was developed, the working of the latter was abandoned, as the other quality was much richer and more easily worked. It is probable that large quantities of the blue variety exist along the streams, where it seems to be usually found, and at no distant day will become a source of profit to the inhabitants of the township.
What other great sources of wealth the township possesses in her underlying formations, time will determine. But, in such a country, prosperity must surely be the lot of her citizens.
A narrow-gauge railway is being built from Chewton to the Houk Brothers' ore-banks in Shenango township.
About the year 1800, Abraham McCurdy came from the Susquehanna valley and settled near where Wurtemburg or "Dutch-town" now stands. At that time the few houses on the site of Allegheny City were small log buildings one of them being at the north end of the ferry plying between Pittsburgh and Allegheny. Mr. McCurdy had a wife and one child, a son, with him when he came to the township. A second child, also a son, was born about 1811-12. One of his sons, Abraham, is now living at Princeton, in Slippery Rock township.
John Newton came to the township in the neighborhood of 1800, and settled on the farm where his son, Jacob Newton, now lives.
William and Benjamin Cunningham came from Fayette county, Pa., in the year 1796. William settled on the farm now owned by R. S. Cunningham, and Benjamin on that now owned by Ira Cunningham. They came in the Fall of that year and built cabins and made other improvements on their places, and went back to Fayette county after their families. It is possible that Benjamin Cunningham was not married until after he settled. He married Margaret Morton, whose father, William Morton, was one of the pioneers of Perry township. William Cunningham had been married some time, and brought his family out with him in the Spring of 1797. Benjamin came back with him. The farms taken by the Cunninghams lay on the line which now divides Wayne and Shenango townships. William's farm was in Wayne, and Benjamin's in Shenango.
Some eight persons came out together, in 1796, and made improvements, six besides the Cunninghams. They were, probably, Abel Hennon, Robert and Samuel Gaston, William Cairns, Charles Morrow and John Moore. Only a portion of them settled in what is now Wayne township. William Cairns was the first settler in Shenango township, and afterwards a prominent man in what became known as Beaver county, holding different offices--Sheriff, Justice of the Peace, &c.
The Cunninghams occupy a considerable portion of the north part of Wayne township, and have contributed much towards its improvement. In possession of Hon. Joseph Cunningham, one of the Associate Judges of Lawrence county, are a number of old volumes, deserving mention from their antiquity. Among them is a volume printed by E. Griffin, in 1644, at London, England. The author was "Samuel Rutherford," Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews. The title of the work is "The Due Right of Presbyteries; or, a Peaceable Plea for the Government of the Church of Scotland." Another is a Gaelic Bible, printed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1807. There is also a "Schoolmaster's Assistant," printed in Meath street, Dublin, Ireland, in 1762, by Isaac Jackson, edited by Thomas Dilworth, a schoolmaster; a work on surveying by Henry Wilson, printed in London in 1731; and a number of ancient volumes, all well preserved. The binding on all of them is of leather. The books were the property of Donald McGregor, who brought them to this country with him when he settled, about 1808 or 1809. McGregor located on the south side of Conoquenessing creek, on the farm now owned by P. M. Cunningham.
After the Cunninghams came to the township they hewed out the end of a block "dish fashion," and pounded their corn in it for about two years, when a grist-mill was built at Wurtemburg by Ananias Allen, and they had their grinding done there.
[p. 130] William Cunningham and wife had one child, a daughter, Mattie, born January 21, 1799. They left it at some time in Fayette county, and it died in 1802, while they were away from it. Their next child, Benjamin, was born December 17, 1800. There were twelve children born to them, of whom four are now living. William Cunningham died September 16, 1865, aged eighty-six.
Abel Hennon, who was one of the settlers of 1796, located on a four-hundred-acre tract, of which he received one-half for settling. The land is now owned by Benjamin Cunningham and others. Mr. Hennon brought his wife and seven children with him when he settled, the children all of considerable size and able to take care of themselves.
Joseph Hennon came in 1798, and bought a settlement-right to a four-hundred-acre tract of Jesse Myers, who had built a shanty and cleared a small garden spot. Mr. Hennon brought his wife and six children with him. The place he settled is now occupied by his son, George Hennon, who was the first child born in the family after their settlement, the date of his birth being April 19, 1800. Thirteen children were born in the family altogether, and five of them are yet living. George and Thomas Hennon, Srs., served in the Revolutionary war. The Hennons were originally from Ireland, and located first in the State of Maryland. They afterwards removed to the valley of Jacob's creek, in Fayette county, Pa., and from there came to Lawrence county.
Nicholas Vaneman located in New Castle about 1802-3, where he rebuilt and refitted a grist-mill on the Neshannock, which had been originally erected about 1800, by John Elliott. The mill was partially destroyed by a freshet in the creek, and Vaneman removed to Wayne township about 1808-9, and put up a grist and saw-mill on what is now known as "Mill Run," or "Big Run," which discharges its waters into the Big Beaver below Chewton. The mills were frame, the grist-mill having one run of "country stone." The mills stood for a good many years, and finally fell to pieces, and none have been built on the site since. Vaneman's wheel was eighteen feet in diameter, and overshot. Further down the stream he could have had a fall of thirty or forty feet. He operated the mill until unable to run it longer, when his son continued the business for some time. The grist-mill had a bolting-cloth and facilities for grinding all kinds of grain. It did a fair "corn-cracking" business, but was never a very good mill.
George Allen settled the farm now owned by _____ McQuistan and others, previous to 1800. He sold it to Solomon Egner in 1818.
Solomon Egner came from Lehigh county, Pa., with his wife and two children. He lived till February 1868; his wife died two years before him.
Henry Booher came first to Neshannock township about 1806, and bought land of Jesse Du Shane, of New Castle, about 1810. He was originally from the eastern part of the State. His son, Samuel Booher, is living on the old Abel Hennon farm, in Wayne township.
Thomas McConahy came from County Antrim, Ireland, in 1817, leaving his family there. They followed him two years later (1819), and came to Beaver town, Beaver county, Pa. Here they stayed until 1821, when they removed to a farm of one hundred acres, lying in Shenango township, Lawrence county, having purchased it from a man named Martin, living near Darlington, Beaver county. Alexander McConahy now lives on the old place.
The farm now owned by John McConahy (son of Thomas McConahy), in Wayne, was originally settled by Peter Book, who made the improvements upon it. The original tract was four hundred acres, and, with a few other tracts in the neighborhood, did not belong to the land in the Chew district.
Peter Book was of German descent, and came from Northampton county, Pa., to Pittsburgh, from which place he came to what is now Wayne township in 1796-7. He brought his wife and probably three children with him. He first built a small log cabin on the bottom near Beaver river, and afterwards came up the hill to a spot near where Mr. McConahy's house now stands, where he built a second house.
Mr. Book died in August, 1844, aged seventy-nine years, and his wife died in January 1845, aged seventy-seven. Their daughter, Catharine, born April 1, 1798, is yet living. She was married to James Glenn, whose father was an early settler of Plain Grove township.
Joseph Work came originally from the State of Maryland to Mifflin county, Pa. In the year 1797 he came to Crawford county, where he lived until 1824, when he again moved, coming to the farm in Wayne township, Lawrence county, now occupied by his son, William Work, Esq. He brought his wife and nine children with him. The land is part of a tract of four hundred acres, originally settled by Moses McCollum, in 1797. In 1799 McCollum sold one hundred acres off the east side of it to Leonard Trover, and he made the first improvements on that part. William Work lives on the part owned by Trover.
The tract that Nicholas Vaneman built his mills on, about 1808-9, is Academy land, and was originally settled by Lewis Kirkendall.
James Robinson and James McCreary settled at an early period in the same neighborhood.
The farm now owned by John Wallace was originally part of a large tract of land called "Kenard," conveyed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to Benjamin Chew, Jr., by patent dated January 24th, 1805. On the 18th of December, 1806, Chew conveyed it to George Allen. Allen made the first improvements upon it, and sold it to Jesse Bell, December 21st, 1816. It was a tract of one hundred and twenty acres, of which one-half was given for settling. Jesse Bell sold it, November 14th, 1820 to Ezekiel and Reuben Bell, sons of John Bell, deceased. After passing through several hands it finally became the property of John Wallace. Joseph Cunningham, James Wilson and George Buchanan each owned it at different times, as did also others. The original patent was for land lying in North Sewickley township, Beaver county.
Isaac Newton is a son of John Newton, who settled in Shenango township in the neighborhood of 1800. Isaac Newton purchased the place where he now lives, in Wayne township, of John Hazen, in 1841. He came in 1842, and made the first improvements upon it; has lived on the place ever since.
Jacob Houk settled on a farm in the neighborhood, which was originally owned by a man named McCready. Houk probably made the first improvements on the place. He afterwards removed to the State of Ohio.
The farm now owned by Levi Ward is part of a two-hundred-acre tract which was a portion of a larger tract, lying along Slippery Rock creek, and called "Randle," belonging to Benjamin Chew.
The original settlement-agreement in the two-hundred-acre tract now occupied by Mr. Ward was made between Benjamin Chew, Jr., and Joseph Arbuckle, December 2d, 1799. Arbuckle probably built a small cabin on the place, but made no further improvements, and left it. We find a second settlement-agreement made in 1801 between Chew and Hugh Smiley, and a patent for the two hundred acres issued to the latter January 24, 1805. The land adjoined some belonging to the trustees of the Washington Academy.
Mr. Smiley made the first clearing on the place, and built a log-cabin, which stood just below the present site of Mr. Ward's house. The cabin was afterwards burned.
Smiley had a small piece of wheat on a clearing he had made, probably the next year after he settled. He went back to Washington county, from whence he came, to finish some work he had to do there. The work detained him until after the wheat was ready to harvest, and when he returned he found it all cut and stocked for him, - a family named Henry, living near by, having done the neighborly deed.
There was scarcely an exception to the general rule in the community, the settlers believing in helping each other in every emergency. And slow indeed would have been their progress had they not done so, for in the vast wilderness, those scattered families, so far removed from the many facilities which were known to more thickly-settled regions, were obliged to help as in one family, and each worked for the advancement of the common interests of all.
William Ward came from York county, Pennsylvania, when a young man, with his mother and step-father, and located first in Beaver town, Beaver county. This was in the neighborhood of the year 1800. Mr. Ward was married at Beaver town to Miss Elizabeth Shoemaker, and afterwards came to Lawrence county. He located on a farm on Slippery Rock creek, now owned by Mark McQuiston, about 1806-8.
Hugh Wilson came to the township previous to 1800, and settled on the farm now owned by his heirs. He was originally from the State of Maryland, and settled in the Chartiers valley, in Allegheny county, Pa., about twelve miles from Pittsburgh, from whence he came to what is now Lawrence county. The year after Mr. Wilson arrived, his brothers, William, Andrew, James and Alexander, also came out. James Wilson was killed by the fall of a tree, not long afterwards. It happened within a few rods of the spot where the barn now stands on Martha Cunningham's place. William Wilson commanded a militia company in the neighborhood during the time of military organizations, and from that circumstance received the title of captain.
Moses Guy came to the township about the same time the Wilsons did, and settled on a part of the same farm.
Descendants of both families are now living in the township.
[p. 131] Moses Matheny came from the Shenandoah valley, West Virginia, about 1800, and settled first in the edge of Beaver county, Pa. He afterwards removed to the farm in Wayne township, Lawrence county, now owned by Cowden Weller, three-fourths of a mile from Wurtemburg.
Mr. Matheny was a cabinet maker, and was the first mechanic in the neighborhood. He made the first rough coffin. In 1807 he was married to Hannah Nye, whose father, Andrew Nye, had settled early on the farm on the south side of the Conoquenessing, yet owned by the Nye family. The issue of this marriage was a family of thirteen children--seven boys and six girls--all of whom lived to be men and women.
Mr. Matheny was closely identified with the plans for the early improvement of the county in which he had settled. In 1839 he built a stone tavern on the north side of the Conoquenessing, at its mouth, and rented it to Samuel Copper, who kept it for some time. Other persons also kept the tavern, but when the canal business stopped, it was discontinued. The vicinity known as "Rocky Point" is now used for picnic and pleasure parties.
At the mouth of Slippery Rock creek there is another resort for Summer parties, and on a large flat rock are often seen, during the hazy Summer evenings, parties "tripping the light fantastic toe" to the strains of delicious music, whose notes sound "sweetly over the waters," and echo and re-echo among the hills till they lose themselves in their vain endeavors to come safely through their rhythmic confusion.
Paul Newton was among the first settlers in the township. He bought land of William Thomas, the same now owned by E. G. Matheny. Thomas must have been a very early settler. An old bell was found on the place by Mr. Matheny, marked with Thomas' name and the date, 1758. The date, of course, was long before Thomas came to the place.
About 1812-15 a company of Quakers came from the eastern part of the State, purchased a large acreage of the hilly lands of the Conoquenessing, and went to work to improve the water-power. In spite of advice to the contrary they tried to build a dam twenty-eight feet high across the creek, but the attempt proved a failure. They afterwards built a brace dam on a smaller scale, and cut a hole in the rock and built a strong stone grist-mill in it. Moses Matheny took a small sack of corn to this mill and had it ground, and it was the only grist ever ground in it. The creek rose immediately afterwards and washed the dam, mill and all away. The mill stood just below the big falls of the Conoquenessing, in the bend of the stream. The date of its destruction was about 1820. After the failure of their attempts on the Conoquenessing, the Quakers went to Beaver Falls.
Hazel Dell post-office was established about 1871-2, near Matheny's mill. The first postmaster was John H. Marshall. The second, and present incumbent, is Andrew Cole.
The grist-mill now owned by E. G. Matheny was built in 1847 by Jonathan Evans. It is a frame structure; has two run of stone, and does a good business. About 1823-4 a log-mill was built on nearly the same spot by Orrin Newton. It only contained one run of "country stone." In 1834, some parties who were fishing carelessly dropped some fire into it, and it was burned down. The present mill was owned by Thomas Jones at one time, and he was caught in the machinery in some way while oiling the wheel, and killed. This happened about 1864-5.
Orrin Newton, the same person who built the original mill on the site of Matheny's building, had a primitive affair long before this, consisting of a wheel set in a crevice in the rock, and run by hand when the water was low. This was the first mill on the creek below the mouth of the Slippery Rock, and was of the simplest kind. It could grind but very slowly, and did nothing more than crack the grain. Mills of this kind were frequently met with in the early days, and succeeded, as the next step in improvement, the hollowed block and sweep or stone. The old Newton mill was at Conoquenessing Falls.
A log grist-mill, with a saw-mill attachment, was built about 1830-32, by Nicholas Mayne, and stood a short distance above the present Matheny mill. Nothing now remains of it.
James Latimer built a grist-mill two or three miles above this, about 1855. This was a good frame-mill, but, as the power was not sufficient at the place, it was abandoned, and nothing is now left of it.
Henry McQuiston built a grist-mill on the Conoquenessing, a little distance above the mouth of Slippery Rock creek, but it was only run a short time. It was a frame structure, and stood about thirty feet above the water, having a long shaft running down the wheel.
Edward McLaughlin had a saw-mill close by the McQuiston grist-mill.
About 1852, William Gaston built a saw-mill on his place, above Chewton, on a small run flowing through it. The mill is now torn down. He set a twenty-feet wheel under a natural fall of the same height, and had a fine power.
Saw-mills have been built in nearly every portion of the township, though but very few are now in operation, and those mostly portable.
The number of voters in Wayne township is about two hundred and seventy-five, making the population in the neighborhood of sixteen hundred, figuring on the population of one voter for every six inhabitants.
Of the number who went out in the war of 1812, the following are those whom we have learned:
Abraham McCurdy, Sr., out at Erie.
John Newton, also out at Erie.
Benjamin Cunningham, out a short time to Erie.
Thomas Hennon, at Black Rock.
William Ward, in Captain James Stewart's company to Black Rock.
Hugh Wilson and Moses Guy went to Black Rock, and probably with William Wilson also.
In Wayne, as in other townships, military organizations were kept up, William Wilson commanding one company. Another was raised in the township, and bore the name of the "North Sewickley Marksmen." It was organized about 1830-31, with some sixty men, and the number afterwards increased to seventy or eighty. John M. Hennon was the first captain, and Isaac Newton, William Sherrard and others served as lieutenants. The men were dressed in commonly-worn clothing, as nearly alike as possible, and had citizen's hats with red and white plumes, red sashes and belts, and were armed with common rifles. The organization existed until about 1873.
Wayne township furnished her quota of troops during the war of the rebellion, and has always been a patriotic township, settled with sons of war-like men--sons who have risen promptly at every call when their country was in danger.
A log cabin was built on the McCollum tract previous to 1815, on the farm now owned by William Ford and others. Robert Grandy taught in this building, which was afterwards burned to the ground.
About 1820 another log school-house was built on Chew's land, half a mile northwest of the other school, and Robert Laughlin was the first teacher. This house was also burned.
Other school-houses were built at different times, all on about the same pattern, until the law was passed establishing free-schools, after which they were numbered and the buildings so constructed as to accommodate the entire population alike. At present each township constitutes a district, with its schools numbered. Formerly there were sub-districts, each with its schools.
In 1875 the number of schools in Wayne district (township) was five. The enrollment of school-children for the same year was one hundred and forty-nine, of whom seventy-nine were males and seventy females. Seven hundred and seventy-five dollars were paid for teachers' wages, the number of teachers for the year being six. The total expenditures for the year for school purposes were nine hundred and sixty-five dollars and eighty-six cents. This was all outside of Wurtemburg and Chewton villages, which are independent districts.
"SLIPPERY ROCK" PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH is the oldest organization in the township, and takes its name from Slippery Rock creek, on the banks of which it held its first meetings, in Allen's old grist-mill, as early as 1800, and possibly before. The congregation was organized about 1800, and some of the original members were Jesse Bell, William Cairns and Nancy his wife (of Shenango township), Joseph Hennon and Margaret his wife, William Cunningham and Mary his wife, Jonathan Peppard and Elizabeth his wife, Jacob VanGorder and Margaret his wife, (VanGorder and wife later, about 1806), Andrew Elliott and wife, and a few others.
The first official record of the existence of this church is found in the Minutes of the first meeting of the Erie Presbytery, held in this region April 13, 1802. At this meeting of the Presbytery the church asked for supplies, and in 1803 united with Lower Neshannock, now New Castle, in selecting Rev. Alexander Cook as pastor. Mr. Cook had charge about six years, and during his pastorate the church had at one time an instance of the famous "falling exercise." Some of Mr. Cook's leaden "tokens," bearing the date of "1803", are yet in possession of some of the members of the church.
[p. 132] The first elders of this church were Jesse Bell, William Cairns, Joseph Hennon and Jonathan Peppard. Isaac Cole and Andrew Elliott were ordained elders October 25, 1812, and Donald McGregor in May, 1818. these were the early elders only.
The second pastor of this congregation was Rev. Robert Sample, who was ordained and installed April 10, 1811. He was released in 1834.* Mr. Sample had charge of New Castle in connection with Slippery Rock. During his pastorate the people encountered many difficulties and suffered privations known only to the early settlers, but in general they prospered.
*History of Erie Presbytery. Some say he preached twenty-six years.
In 1838, after many discouragements for three years, they united with New Brighton, Beaver county, in support of Rev. Benjamin C. Critchlow, New Castle having by that time become able to support a minister alone. Mr. Critchlow was ordained and installed pastor of Slippery Rock and New Brighton congregations September 5, 1838, and continued his pastorate in a pleasant and profitable manner for seven years.
In 1845 Mr. Critchlow assumed charge of New Brighton alone, and Rev. James S. Henderson was ordained and installed pastor of Slippery Rock in October of that year. November 1, 1846, he began preaching one-half of his time at North Sewickly Church in Beaver county.
Following Mr. Henderson came Rev. Amos S. Billingsley, who was ordained and installed January 10, 1854, and preached until some time in December, 1857, when he was dismissed at his own request.
After Mr. Billingsley left, the church was supplied until June 10, 1862, when Rev. Henry H. Webber was installed. His name first appears on the books October 26, 1857, after which date he was stated supply for probably most of the time until he was regularly installed.
Mr. Webber staid until January 11, 1865, and, after he left, the church was supplied until February 21, 1866, when Rev. R. S. Morton came in, and staid until May 14, 1869.
Rev. John H. Aughey followed Mr. Morton, coming December 26, 1870, and staying till the 5th of May, 1873. After this the church was supplied for a time.
The present pastor, Rev. George S. Rice, was installed October 19, 1874.
A Sunday-school was organized during Mr. Critchlow's pastorate, and has been kept up most of the time since. It has in the neighborhood of two hundred members at present.
The first church built by the society was a log building, which stood a few rods north of the spot occupied by the present frame church. The log church was built about 1803, and stood on the Hugh Wilson farm. The fire was built in the center of the building, and for a chimney two logs were placed across the inside of the church, reaching from one side to the other on the eaves, and from these logs a chimney was built of split sticks, straw and clay, reaching up through the roof. By the draft created from the chimney the smoke was kept well cleared out. In this church Rev. Thomas Edgar Hughes preached his sermon so well remembered by a few of the oldest members now living. This was during the vacancy between the pastorates of Mr. Cook and Mr. Sample.
Besides those already mentioned, there were among the early members of this church Jacob Ward, Andrew Cole and Andrew Wilson, with their wives.
The old log church was used until the year 1825, when a frame building was erected just south of it. The present frame church was built in 1863, and the old one removed. The present membership is about two hundred. Six or seven persons who were members of this church have entered the ministry.
The parsonage lately built by the society for its pastor, is one of the best country manses in Western Pennsylvania. On the territory once all tributary to Slippery Rock Church there are now fourteen different organizations, yet with all this, and the colonies which have gone out from it and founded other congregations, the church holds its own well, and prospers.
The cemetery near the church is an interesting spot, containing the remains of nearly all the pioneers in the region immediately surrounding it. It is located on the brow of the hill, in the rear of the church, and is shaded by forest trees on all sides. The first person buried in it was James Wilson, who was killed by the falling of a tree, on the place now owned by Martha Cunningham.
THE PRIMITIVE METHODISTS organized in the Fall of 1876, and have a frame church, not quite completed, standing on land donated by Samuel Booher, who is one of the prominent members of the organization. The lot includes one acre. This congregation is made up of members from the Methodist Episcopal Church at Wampum and "Mount Pleasant" congregation, the latter holding meetings in a school-house in the southern part of Shenango township. As yet the Primitive Methodists have no pastor.
The land occupied by this settlement was originally a part of the Peter Book farm. William Hough at different times bought several acres from Mr. Book, and laid it out into town lots. This was some time between 1827 and 1833, about which latter date the canal was opened. Hough built the first house in the place--a log structure--and kept a store. He also opened a tavern, and afterwards sold it to John Wallace, who carried it on for a while in connection with a store.
James Miller had the last store in the place, and closed out about 1874, and since which time it has been without.
Samuel Wilkinson and John Mouk worked at the blacksmithing business in the place for some time. Mouk is now in Mercer county, and there is no shop of any kind.
A strong dam was built for slackwater purposes during the time of the canal, but it is now partially torn away. The bed of the Beaver river here was partly quicksand, and, to keep the dam from being washed away, it was made of strong cribs sunk in the sand and filled with stone. Considerable business was done at the place during the time the canal was in operation, but there are now but few houses occupied, and they are dwellings.
The town was named by Hough, when he laid it out, after a man named Stayles, who was a prominent worker in the canal enterprise. A swift rapid, or "ripple," is in the river opposite the town, and as the canal men had a "hard scrabble" to get their boats safely over it, the place received the nickname of "Hardscrabble," by which it is now more familiarly known than by Staylesville. Some distance below, at Wampum, there is another rapid called "Irish ripple," and from it the original post-office at Wampum, and now at Newport, took its name.
This town was laid out by Benjamin Chew, Jr., about 1830-31, Mr. Chew himself assisting at the work. It includes all the territory comprised in what are now commonly known as "Upper" and "Lower" Chewton--in all about one hundred acres, but a comparatively small portion of which is built up.
The first house in Lower Chewton was built either by Hon. J. T. Cunningham or Jacob Allen. The Cunningham house is a frame building, yet standing, occupied by William Fesselmon.
But one log house was ever raised in Lower Chewton, and that was by some of the Rhodes (Roth) family. It stood on the lot where Curtin, Fisher & Marshall's store now stands.
Fulton Reed opened the first store in the place about 1835-6. John Wallace had the second, ten years later. John Egner opened the third about 1848-9, and afterwards sold it to William Roth (or Rhodes). It stood about a quarter of a mile below the spot where the iron bridge now spans the Beaver. Roth sold out to Friday and Jackson, who moved the store to the upper part of Lower Chewton. Henry Potter afterwards purchased Friday's interest, and the firm name became Potter and Jackson. The store is now owned by R. M. Leech & Son (James B. Leech), who purchased it April 15, 1876.
Another store was established in the Spring of 1876, by Curtin, Fisher & Marshall, who have their principal store in Wampum, on the opposite side of the river. Both the stores in Chewton are frame buildings, containing general stocks.
John Egner and John Freshcorn opened stores in the Summer of 1875, but only continued them a short time.
Anthony Moser opened a tailor shop in the Summer or Fall of 1875. He had previously worked at the business in Wampum, but had his shop burned at that place.
Oliver Hennon has a wagon shop which has been running a number of years, and Hennon & Gillespie have a blacksmith shop which was originally opened by Socrates Hennon, about 1846. This is the only blacksmith shop now in the place except one on the hill, in the upper part of town, owned by William Smiley.
In Upper Chewton, Jacob Lightner built a log house, one of the first in the place, since fallen down. Nancy Lightner also built a small log house which is yet standing, and another, also standing, was built by Milo Connor. The log house now occupied by Allen Lightner was built by John Lightner. These buildings were all put up very soon after the town was laid out. The majority of the blocks in Chewton contain a square acre each.
[p. 133] A school was opened in the town in 1834 or '35, immediately after the school-law was passed, and a school-house built. The present brick school-house, standing in Upper Chewton, was built about 1859-60. Chewton was set off as an independent school-district in 1872 or '73. In 1875 it had one school and an enrollment of one hundred children of school age, equally divided between males and females. The average attendance for the year was fifty-two. The total expenditures for school purposes were $285.
The first settler on the land where Wurtemburg now stands was probably Ananias Allen, who came about 1796-7 and built a grist-mill on nearly the same spot where the present grist-mill stands. The mill was built of logs, and had one run of "country stone," called "bull-head." This was a famous mill in its day, and had customers from as far as New Castle--the Allen Mill having been built before there was a mill at that place. In this mill the first meetings of the Slippery Rock Presbyterian congregation were held, and "Allen's Mill" was well-known in the region around. Allen built the first house on the ground where the town now stands.
One Smith was an early settler, and built a log-house, which is still standing.
Jacob Liebendorfer and his two sons, Jacob and Daniel, came from Germany in 1807, and settled in Greensburg, Westmoreland county, Pa. From there they removed to Butler county, and, after living there a few years, came in 1829 to Wurtemburg, where numerous members of the Liebendorfer family are yet living, among them Mr. L.'s sons, Jacob, Michael and Gottleib, with their families.
The Liebendorfers first lived in the log-house put up by Smith, which stands near the present residence of Robert Mehard.
In 1831 the grist-mill now standing was built by Jacob Liebendorfer and his son, Michael. After old Mr. Liebendorfer died, Robert Mehard united with Michael Liebendorfer in its management, and finally became the sole proprietor, after they remodeled and improved the mill to a considerable extent. Mr. Mehard afterwards sold out to William Mellen and Philip Freichtag. The present proprietors are McCray & Hutchinson, who also have a saw-mill in connection. The grist-mill contains four run of stone, and does a good business.
A saw-mill and linseed-oil mill were built by Jacob and Daniel Liebendorfer, Frederick Rapp and Peter Noss, about the same time the grist-mill was built--1831. The mill-race supplying them gave way, and the mills were abandoned after running about twenty years.
The saw-mill now standing next to the grist-mill, was built by Robert Mehard.
Peter Noss had a distillery at one time, and a cooper shop in connection.
In the Liebendorfer mill there were at first two run of country stone or "bull heads." A Mr. High owned the mill for a while, and had a man named McCracken running it for him. During that time one run of "Laurel Hill" stone was added, and after Mehard and Michael Liebendorfer took it they put in a pair of French burs.
A salt-well was put down about five hundred feet by Matheny & Hemphill, in 1821, and worked for nine years. It produced about two barrels of salt per day. On account of oil and the scarcity of water the well was finally abandoned.
Just before the rebellion broke out, the oil excitement ran high, and this well was worked by a company who tried for oil. The oil they lost, principally because the water came in too strong. With the present improvements it could possibly be cleaned up and made to pay.
The post-office at Wurtemburg was established probably about 1845. The post-office and town were named Wurtemburg because the Germans who settled here were from Wurtemburg, Germany.
The first postmaster we have been unable to find. The second was Frederick Rapp; and after him came Ebert & Brown. Up to this time it was kept on the north side of the creek, but was afterwards moved to the south side, and kept in the store of Fleming & Freichtag. James Liebendorfer next had it, on the north side, then Morrison & Fisher on the south side, where it is now located.
The first store on the south side was opened by the Hyde brothers, John, Joseph and Thomas. The same building is now occupied by Morrison & Fisher.
The first store on the north side was opened by a man named Vincent, who kept it a year or two. A man named Coulter had the second one, and Frederick Rapp the third. Rapp's store was in a house which stood on the site of the present residence of Rev. J. D. Glenn. Rapp also built the hotel now standing and at present kept by Benjamin Wilson. It is a brick building, and the first and only hotel ever in the place.
The first blacksmith-shop was probably started by Jacob Weis.
James Liebendorfer owns the store located on the north side of the creek, and keeps a general stock.
A two-story brick school-building was erected in 1872, on the north side. The first floor only is used for school purposes, the upper room being used as a hall for literary and other purposes. The village of Wurtemburg is an independent school district, and has an attendance in the school at present of about sixty. The enrollment of 1875 was only forty-three.
THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH of Wurtemburg was organized in 1859, by Rev. Thomas Guthrie, D. D., who supplied it for some time. The members originally belonged to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Perry township. The first regular pastor of the new organization was Rev. J. H. Peacock, who came about 1867 and preached five years. The next regular pastor was Rev. John D. Glenn, who was installed November 1st, 1874, and still has charge. The church has been supplied by Revs. Steele, Dice, Evans, Bracken and others. The original membership was about eighty. A Sabbath-school has been kept up most of the time through the Summer. The church-lot was furnished by James Mehard, one of the members of the congregation, and the large, frame church now standing built upon it in 1860. It stands on the hill northwest of town. The present membership of the church is about one hundred and fifteen. A portion of the congregation, some forty-five members, left the church in 1873 and formed a new congregation in Perry township, called Camp Run. They built a church in 1874, and have meetings in connection with Mountville United Presbyterian Church, in the same township. Mr. Glenn has charge of both Wurtemburg and "Center," the latter in Shenango township.
Meetings were held in the house of Jacob Liebendorfer, about 1830-31, by the GERMAN LUTHERANS. Mr. L. had been a member of the church at Zelienople, Butler county, and the pastor of that church held meetings in Mrs. Liebendorfer's house, where the Wurtemburg congregation was organized. This preacher was Rev. Mr. Schweitzerbart. Meetings were afterwards held in private houses, in a school-house which stood near where the United Presbyterian church now stands, built about 1832-3, and in another school-house, which stood on the south side of the creek. Meetings were kept up in this way until about 1868-9, when the frame church, now standing north of town, on the New Castle road, was built. The church has been supplied most of the time.
The METHODISTS have held meetings at intervals for some twenty years, part of the time in the school-house. In the Summer of 1876 the present frame building, called the "Centennial Methodist Episcopal Church," was built. Rev. Mr. Writer is the present pastor. Before he came, Rev. J. S. Ross had preached three years.
The bridge still spanning Slippery Rock creek was built either in 1829 or 1830 by James Mehard, then living in Harmony, Butler county. He afterwards came to Wurtemburg, and bought the place where his son, Joseph, now lives. Another son, Robert, afterwards interested in the grist-mill at this place, has become a popular man, well-known throughout the county, and is now one of the Board of County Commissioners.
Wurtemburg has a picturesque location, and contains some fine improvements. But few of the older and poorer class of buildings are standing as landmarks of the past.
From the 1770 - 1877 History of Lawrence County by S. W. and P. A. DURANT.
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Updated: 21 Mar 2001, 18:22