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History of Butler County Pennsylvania - 1883

Chapter 18 -- Butler Township

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Transcribed by Susan Elko. For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.



Illustrations And Biographies In Chapter XVIII

p.178a-- William Stoops
p.178a-- Residence of Wm. Stoops
p.182 -- William Stoops Bio
p.183 -- A.A. Eberhart Bio
p.182a-- Residence of A.O. Eberhart



[p. 178]


Butler was one of the original thirteen townships of the county erected in 1804, and was about eight miles square. It was subsequently reduced in size and divided for the convenience of the inhabitants into North and South Butler. In 1854, when the entire county was redistricted into townships approximately five miles square, it was reduced to its present limits.

Butler is bounded upon the north by Centre, upon the east by Summit, upon the south by Penn and upon the west by Connoquenessing. The township is drained by the Connoquenessing and its tributaries, chief among the latter being BUTCHER's Run, Rock Lick Run and Saw-Mill Run; KARNES Branch and NEYMAN's Branch unite at the eastern border of the township to form the main stream which runs through it from northeast to southwest. SMITH's Branch falls into it from the eastern boundary of Butler Borough. The Little Connoquenesssing flows through the northwestern part of the township, but drains only a very small fraction of its territory.

The surface of the township is for the most part hilly, and the soil varies from a stiff clay to a light sand, being derived for the most part from the Barren measure rocks. The hillsides along the Connoquenessing in this township are, as a rule, too steep to be cultivated, and the country contiguous to the [p.179] stream presents, in most localities, the appearance of a perfect wilderness. Conglomerate sandstone appears in massive cliffs along the valley walls, and the slopes are often covered with rock debris. The Upper Freeport coal is very well developed in the eastern portion of the township, and as it is easily accessible along BUTCHER's Run and its small tributaries, and also near the borough of Butler, it is quite extensively mined.

The general appearance of the country is attractive, either to the lover of nature in her milder and gentler forms of beauty or to the husbandman. There are few fairer prospects in the county than that which greets the eye in the valley of the Connoquenessing, just south of Butler Borough, and there are many other beautiful landscapes in the township. In nearly all of them the means rather than the extremes of picturesquesness and of quaint pastoral bounty are presented, nature almost everywhere seeming to proclaim her kindness to man.


But little has been handed down from one generation to another concerning early events or the experience of the pioneers. This fact is doubtless attributable to the fact that the first settlers and their children had their attention diverted from the contemplation and memory of their own quiet lives by the more hurried and hustling progress of affairs in Butler Borough.

The township was settled in 1796, that being the earliest date when the lands were open to immigration. The first settlers were the PIERCEs, KEARNS, MOOREs, MCKEEs and the MORROW, GRAHAM, FRYOR, WILSON, BAILES, BUCKHART and PETERSON families. It cannot be definitely stated who was the pioneer among these, but the honor lies between the first four or five mentioned. Their arrival was nearly simultaneous.

William KEARNS, a native of Ireland, came to this county from Westmoreland County in 1796, with five others. He was the only one of the six, however, who located within the present limits of this township, the others making settlements on lands now included in Summit and Oakland Townships. KEARNS settled just northeast of the present boundaries of the borough of Butler on the farm now owned by Michael MCKINLEY, and lived there until his death, in 1832. His wife was Anna GOLD. They had seven children, of whom but two are living, viz., James, who resides near the old homestead, and Patton, in Butler Borough.

Jane KEARNS, a sister of William, came here with her brother and took up in her own name and secured by settlers' right 100 acres of land adjoining his -- the farm now owned by George REIBER. She married John POTTS, who came to the township in 1799, and after the laying-out of Butler became a merchant there.

The KEARNS farms are quite historic ground. On the land originally owned by Jane KEARNS is an old burying ground -- probably the oldest in the township. The graves are still to be seen in the thick wood upon the hill, not far west of the road. They are marked with rough headstones which bear no inscriptions.

Upon that part of the James KEARNS farm now owned by Mrs. MCLURE, at the right of the Butler & Millerstown road, is the site of the old salt well, sunk by Thomas COLLINS in 1811 or 1812. Salt was manufactured here for several years, coal being mined near at hand to be used as fuel for boiling down the brine. The quality of the salt was seriously impaired by the presence of petroleum, or, as it was then called, Seneca oil. Meat pickled in it bore the unpalatable taste of the oil, and had to be thrown away. The flow of petroleum in the well was quite small, as it was only seventy feet in depth. Old Mrs. Kearns usually kept a jug or two of the oil in her cupboard, from which many small vials were filled for her neighbors. It was believed to be a sovereign remedy for many of the ills afflicting man and beast, especially cuts and bruises.

It is probable that John PIERCE and his wife, Jane (VENATE), came here in 1796. They emigrated originally from New Jersey, but came to Butler County from Turtle Creek. The place of their location was upon the farm near the center of the township, where a grandson, Samuel PIERCE, now resides. After building a cabin here, Mr. PIERCE went back to the old home to procure necessary supplies; and his wife was left in the scarcely broken wilderness until his return. Mr. PIERCE had been a soldier in the Revolutionary war and was a sturdy, resolute character, well adapted to the self imposed hardships of pioneer life. He lived to a good old age, enjoying the fruits of the industry of his earlier years. His death occurred in 1846. He was twice married. His children were Thomas, David, Hannah, Margaret and Elsie, by his first wife, and Silas, John and Joseph by his second. Thomas PIERCE moved to the farm where James MCCONNELL now lives, and afterward to one upon the east side of the Connoquesnessing. David bought of Stephen LOWRIE a farm adjoining his father's. His eldest son, John PIERCE, resided near Butler Borough; David and Elvira (MILHEISEN) are also residents of the township, and Jane (BARICKMAN) lives at Mt. Chestnut. John PIERCE, son of the original settler of the same name, is a resident of the county. Silas, the oldest of the second family of children, remained all his life upon the homestead farm where his father [p.180] settled. Samuel and Horace PIERCE, who at present live upon the farm, are his sons.

James MCKEE made his settlement upon what was known as the ROSS tract, in the northwest part of the township, in 1797, procuring 100 acres by his compliance with the settlement law, and afterward buying 100 more. He lived here until his death, in 1832, having as his companions during the first few years his rifle and Bible. He was a soldier in the war of 1812 and was Sheriff of the county. He came to this county from the Ligonier Valley, in Westmoreland County, but was originally from the vicinity of Wagner's Gap, in the Sherman Valley. Thomas MCKEE, father of James, came here a year or two later than his son and took up land adjoining his, in the WEAVER tract. His house, however, was on the ROSS tract, on land now owned by William STOOPS. Thomas MCKEE was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. His death occurred in 1812 or 1813. James MCKEE raised a family of seven children, of whom three are still living. His eldest son John, now deceased, was once Sheriff.. Robert resided near the place of his father's settlement, and Mary Ann, in Butler Borough.

Robert GRAHAM settled in Butler, within the present borough limits, in 1797. His children were William, James, Robert, John, Williamson, Ebenezer, Rachel, Mary, Lydia and Sarah. Of those living, James is in Allegheny County, John in Butler, Williamson in California, Ebenezer in Butler, Mary (HEINER) in Kittanning, and Sarah (REED) in Elizabethtown. Robert died in Penn Township in 1873, on the place now occupied by his son, Wilson W. GRAHAM.

Andrew and James MOORE were, as has been said, among the earliest settlers of the township. They located about midway between the present limits of Butler Borough and the western boundary of the township, Andrew MOORE being upon the farm where Prof. BORLAND now resides.

William WILSON settled in 1797 or 1798, where James GOLD now lives, but not many years later moved to Porter County, Ind.

John BAILES (called Little John, to distinguish him from a settler of the same name within the present limits of Connoquenessing Township), located in the western part of Butler about 1800.

Samuel RIDDLE was an early settler near Butler Borough, but afterward moved to Franklin Township.

John MORROW located about 1798 in the southwest part of the township. He moved to Mansfield, Ohio, in 1830, disposing by sale of the 100 acres of land which he obtained by settlement.

Peter PETERSON came here before 1800, and probably as early as John MORROW. He was from Somerset County; had been a Revolutionary soldier, and at Braddock's defeat was one of six survivors of a company of eighty men who were in the hottest of the fight. The farm on which he settled was that on which Mr. HALEY now resides, in the south part of the township. He had seven daughters and two sons, but none of them are now living . Jane married David PIERCE.

Abraham FRYOR settled soon after 1800, in the western part of the township. One son, Joseph, an aged man, is still living here. FRYOR was a noted hunter. His death occurred in 1840, but he was active until a short time prior to that period, and continued the use of his gun. During the almost two-score years that he lived in Butler Township, he killed fifty bears, eight panthers and fully one thousand deer. Venison saddles brought only 3 cents per pound during the first quarter century after the settlement was made here, and FRYOR sold many of them at that price.

John BUCKHART settled about 1800, on the land in the southeastern corner of the township, where his grandson, John BUCKHART, now lives. He came from Allegheny County, where, prior to 1796, when the county was full of Indians, he had been captured and compelled to run the gantlet, near Girty's Run. He received a tomahawk wound upon the forehead, the scar of which he carried until his dying day. In his later years, he received a pension from the State of Pennsylvania. He was a noted hunter, and rivaled Abraham FRYOR in his dexterity with the rifle and his general knowledge of woodcraft. John BUCKHART was of German descent, and was born a few years before the opening of the Revolutionary War. He died in Butler Township in 1855. His wife, Margaret (POWELL), survived him about ten months.

Alexander BRYSON came into the township about the year 1800 and settled where William BRYSON now lives. He built a mill at an early day on the Little Connoquenessing.

Paris BRATTON came in between 1800 and 1805. In the latter year he owned 400 acres of land south of Butler Village. He was a hatter by trade and at one time had a shop upon the hill south of Butler. It is traditionally asserted that Paris BRATTON and Hannah PIERCE were the first couple married in the township.

About 1801, Lawrence KING came to this county from Eastern Pennsylvania. He settled about four miles west of Butler, on the Harmony road. Afterward he returned to the East and died of yellow fever in Philadelphia. His family grew up in this county, but scattered widely.

John MCQUISTION settled prior to 1805, about a mile from the village of Butler, where the Freeport road was laid out later. In 1805, he paid taxes on [p.181] 800 acres of land. A grandson, Harper MCQUISTION, now lives in Butler Borough.

About 1805, Alexander HAMILTON took up a large tract of land in the northwestern part of the township, which included the farms since owned by the MAXWELLs, MCCANDLESSes, DUMBAUGH, BOWERs, GOLDs, ROBINSON and FISHER. One of Mr. HAMILTON's daughters became the wife of Leslie MAXWELL, a later settler.

In the year 1805 there were living within the present limits of Butler Township, in addition to those already mentioned, the following persons: William BURBRIDGE, James BORLAND, William BROWN, William BOYCE, James BOYD, Josiah CRAWFORD, John CRATLY (who owned a distillery), Samuel DUNBAR, John DOUGAL, Joseph and Henry EVANS, William FREEMAN (the owner of a new saw-mill near the present residence of Prof. BORLAND), Thomas FLETCHER, William FLOWERS, Lawrence KING, Charles MCGINNIS, George MCGUFFY, William MARTIN, ----- MCGOWAN, John NEGLEY (elsewhere spoken of), Matthew SKEER, and possibly a few others. Several of those mentioned in this list moved away while the settlement was still new, seeking locations farther west, which they imagined would be more desirable. As a rule, they have no descendants living here.

In 1796, Col. Robert LEMMON, a native of Ireland, came to this county, and, soon after it was laid out, located in Butler Village. He went out as a Sergeant in Capt. PURVIANCE's company in the war of 1812, and, after its termination settled on the farm where his son Andrew now lives. He was twice married, and reared a large family of children, of whom the son mentioned is the only one now resident in Butler County. His oldest son, William, is in Canton, Ohio; Robert is in Parker, and Calvin in California.

About 1815, Leslie MAXWELL located in the western part of the township, and, soon after married a daughter of Alexander HAMILTON, the large landholder.

Jacob DUFFORD and his wife, Catharine (GRUVER), of Luzerne County, came into the township in 1817, and, after occupying several locations, finally settled permanently on the CROTHERS tract. Mr. DUFFORD died in 1872. His oldest son, John C., is a resident of the township; two others are in Beaver County, and one is in Virginia.

Henry DUFFORD, a brother of Jacob, came here at the same time his brother did, but soon after removed to the State of Indiana.

Henry YOUNG came from Luzerne County and settled in this township about 1824. He was a man of uprightness and integrity, and, by diligent industry, succeeded in acquiring a comfortable property. He died in 1842. Following are the names of his children: Polly (RAMSEY), Sarah (deceased), Elizabeth (HENSHEW), Anna (deceased), John, Simon P., Amos, William H. (deceased), Catherine C. (WAGNER), Rebecca S. (DWER)and George (deceased).

David MCILVAINE, about 1825, became a settler on the land now known as the BECK farm, near Samuel PIERCE's.

Among the earliest German settlers in the township were Joseph Bernhart SLIKER and his wife, Ann Maria (RUNNEL), who came here in 1830, from Baltimore, where they had arrived but a short time before. Mr. SLIKER died at the ripe age of eighty-two years. Mrs. Mary BEAN, of this township, is a daughter of his, and a son, Joseph, is living in Westmoreland County.

Francis CRILEY, one of the early German settlers, came directly from Germany to Butler County in 1831, and settled among the glades on Three-Mile Run. He bought his land from Mr. NEGLEY for $4 an acre. Soon after settling here, he went to Butler to buy a barrel of flour, but found his neighbor, Mr. SNYDER, ahead of him. SNYDER had just bought two barrels, and there was no more flour in town. The CRILEY farm was given by Francis CRILEY to his son-in-law, John INGLEHART, who still occupies it. Mr. CRILEY reared eight children, all of whom lived to marry and have families. Their names are Barbara, Mary Ann (deceased), Peter, Maria (deceased), Francis (deceased), Joseph, Margaret and Susan. Barbara lives in Minnesota. The others all reside in Butler County.

In 1832, Joseph TURNER came from Ireland and settled in Butler, where he ended his days. Three of his five children are living -- Arthur TURNER, Esq., of Jefferson Township, being the only one now in this county.

Marcus EYTH came from Germany and settled in Butler Township in 1839. He remained on his farm till 1850, when he removed to Centerville. His son Francis carried on the business of making ambrotypes and daguerreotypes in Butler from 1850 to 1861. He is now proprietor of the EYTH House, Centerville. Marcus EYTH had five sons and five daughters -- Roman (deceased), Jordan, John, Martin and Francis, Theresa (STEHLE), Barnhartina (WEST), Wendelina (SMITH -- deceased), Martha (BERG) and Sophia KELLY.

Glode and Ann VINROE emigrated from France to this county in 1832, and settled in this township. Mr. VINROE resides on the farm where first he located, having made a good home by hard work. His wife died in 1880. They reared five children, viz.: Sophia, John (Kansas), Nicholas (Butler), Jane (EWENS -- Pittsburgh) and William (on the old homestead).

[p. 182]


Following is a list of the Justices of the Peace for the old townships of North and South Butler, and the township as now constituted:

North, 1840, David WALKER; South, 1840, Robert MCNAIR; South, 1843, Anthony FALLER; North, 1843, Hugh STEPHENSON; South, 1845, Henry RISHABERGER; North 1845, William JAMISON; South, 1847, John KENNEDY; South, 1848 James MCKINNEY; North, 1848, Hugh STEPHENSON; South, 1849 Elijah BURKHART; North, 1849, Robert K. HUNTER; South, 1853, Joseph PATTERSON; North, 1853, Robert MCKEE; 1856, Peterson PEARCE; 1858, Nathaniel WALKER; 1861, John HUSELTON; 1863, Robert McKee; 1866, John Huselton; 1868, Robert McKee; 1871, John HUSELTON; 1872, Anthony HOON; 1873, Robert MCKEE; 1877, Samuel SCHAFFNER; 1878, Robert MCKEE.


The only church in Butler Township outside of the borough is the German Reformed Church, which is located near the western boundary at the intersection of the Meridian and Harmony roads. The society is large, and composed of about equal numbers of residents of Butler and Connoquenessing Townships.

The society was organized in 1845, at the HENSHAW Schoolhouse, by the Rev. S. MILLER, who came from Westmoreland County, and consisted of the following individuals and their families, viz: Frederick BARICKMAN, Henry SCHLEGLE, Abram HENSHAW, John HENSHAW, Henry DUFFORD, Jacob DUFFORD, George SLEPPY, Samuel DUFFORD, Eli HENSHAW, Samuel DERSHIEMER, Henry SARVER and Gideon SCHLEGLE. Frederick BARICKMAN and Henry DUFFORD were elected Elders, and Abram HENSHAW and Phillip DUFFORD, Deacons. This congregation and the Harmony congregation originally constituted a pastoral charge.

In October, 1846, the congregation resolved to build a house of worship, and appointed Abram HENSHAW, Henry DUFFORD, Frederick BARICKMAN and Henry SCHLEGLE as a committee to solicit subscriptions for that purpose. This committee was soon afterward appointed as a Building Committee, and John HENSHAW, Samuel DUFFORD and Eli HENSHAW were elected as Trustees, and authorized to purchase ground for a building site, and hold the same in trust for the German Reformed Church. The congregation numbered at this time eighty-two members. The corner-stone of the church was laid, with appropriate ceremonies, May 28, 1847, and the building was dedicated in December, by the Rev. Samuel MILLER, assisted by Rev. L. D. LEBERMAN and the Rev. HOFFMAN, all of Westmoreland County. The name bestowed was the Reformed Zion Church. In 1848, Mr. MILLER being called away by the Synod, Revs. LIBERMAN and HOFFMAN were appointed as supply preachers. Mr. MILLER returned in 1849, and had pastoral charge of the church until 1852, when he was succeeded by Rev. Joseph MILLER. Rev. HARTMAN supplied the pulpit for some time subsequent to 1854. In 1859, the congregation, in connection with that at Harmony, extended a call to Rev. F. W. DEEHAND, which he accepted. In 1863, he was called elsewhere, and the pulpit was vacant until 1866, when the Rev. LANDIS assumed the charge. He served until the fall of 1870. On the 19th of June of that year, he organized an English society, under the name of St. John's congregation of Zion Reformed Church, and consisting of the following members. John J. DUFFORD, Eli HENSHAW, Michael DUFFORD, Samuel DERSHIEMER, John FRY, Peter GRUVER and Francis HECKART. Eli HENSHAW and Francis HECKART were elected Elders, and Samuel DERSHIEMER and John J. DUFFORD, Deacons. In the fall of 1870, the charge united in calling Rev. F. A. EDMONDS, who remained until January, 1874. In May, 1873, a reconstruction of the charge took place, and Harmony was made an independent charge. The HENSHAW congregation was united with those of Butler and Prospect, and the three were known as the Butler charge. In January, 1874, the Rev. LIMBERG became pastor of the German congregation, and the Rev. J. B. THOMPSON, Superintendent of the Orphans' Home at Butler, pastor of the English congregation. In 1876, the English congregation numbered eighty-two members. In 1877, Rev. THOMPSON left the charge, and the two congregations united in calling Rev. W. B. LANDOE to the field of labor. In November of this year, the congregations of the HENSHAW Church were constituted an independent charge, known as HENSHAW charge. Rev. LANDOE resigned his place September 1, 1880, and the pulpit was vacant until November 20, when the present pastor, Rev. Josiah MAY, assumed charge. The church has at present 120 communicant members.



William STOOPS, one of the prominent farmers of Butler Township, was born in Mercer Township October 8, 1821. His father, Phillip, married Miss Elizabeth VANDERLIN, and reared a large family. He was a blacksmith by occupation, which avocation he followed until middle life, when he engaged in farming. He died at an advanced age. William was reared to the life of a farmer, and attained a good common-school education, and for some years was engaged as a teacher. On 1846, he was married to [p.183] Miss Sarah COCHRAN. She also was born in Mercer Township. After their marriage, Mr. STOOPS removed to a farm, where he resided until August, 1861, when he enlisted in Company H, One Hundred and Second Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The regiment was engaged in the battle of Fair Oaks, and Mr. STOOPS was seriously wounded, and, after some months rest in a hospital, he was discharged for disability, and returned home. The following year, he was elected to the office of Prothonotary, and , after an able administration of the affairs of the office for three years, he removed to the farm he now occupies. In 1868, his wife died, and in 1869 he was again married, to Miss Jane ROSE, of Centre Township, where she was born. Her father was one of the pioneers of that township, having settled in about the year 1798. Her mother is still living, at the remarkable age of ninety years. The family are noted for longevity.

Mr. STOOPS is a Republican in politics, and a member of the United Brethren Church.


One of the later settlers in Donegal Township was Joseph EBERHART, who was born in Westmoreland County in 1800. He settled in Mercer County in 1823. He removed from there to Armstrong County, and from there to Kansas Territory (where he is still living, at the age of eighty-three years) when it was first opened to settlement. While in Butler and Armstrong Counties, he served as a colporteur for the America Tract Society. He raised a large family -- seven boys and six girls. John EBERHART, son of Joseph, came to Butler County with the family. He now resides in Fairview. He married Catherine BARNHART, daughter of Rudolph BARNHART, one of the pioneers of Donegal Township, and whose history is recorded in the chapter devoted to Donegal. Of a family of nine children, only three reached mature years -- Andrew O., Lewis D. and Jonathan A. . Andrew O. married Mary E., daughter of Phillip BARNHART, in 1873, and settled in Butler Township in 1844. [sic] They have one child -- Tessie Terrilla. Mr. EBERHART is one of the thrifty and successful farmers of the township. We present on another page a view of his home.

[End of Chapter 18--Butler Township: History of Butler County, Pennsylvania. With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Waterman, Watkins, & Co., Chicago, 1883.]

Chapter 17--The Borough of Butler
Chapter 19--Connoquenessing Township
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage

Edited 11 Feb 2000, 22:22