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History of Butler County Pennsylvania - 1883

Chapter 24 -- Forward Township

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Transcribed by Karen Patterson. For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.



Illustrations And Biographies In Chapter XXIV

p. 232a Hon. Wm. Waldron
p. 232b Res. W.S. Waldron
p. 236a Res. Wm. M. Brown
p. 240a Mrs. Mary Brown
p. 240b Mrs. Jane Blakeley
p. 239   Henry Buhl Bio
p. 239   Mrs. Jane Blakeley Bio
p. 232a Wm. Waldron Bio
p. 240a Mrs. Mary Brown Bio



[p. 233]

It would seem that even the untutored savages who once roamed the wilds of Western Pennsylvania had some idea of the "the eternal fitness of things." We have good evidence that they possessed this trait from the geographical names supplied to various parts of the country from out of the copious resources of the Indian vocabulary. They were happy in their choice of a name for the principal stream of this county - Connoquenessing - Crooked Water. Could any name describe it better? If any observer should attempt to describe the course of this stream through Forward Township his powers of description would be taxed to the utmost. But at least one portion of the creek is worthy of delineation, inasmuch as it is peculiarly picturesque. We refer to the "Horseshoe Bend," which, together with its surroundings, forms a most pleasing landscape of quiet and subdued beauty. The Connoquenessing enters Forward Township not far from the northeast corner, and, after going through "all manner of twisting and turning," and coming down nearly to the geographical center of the township, where it is joined by the Glade Run from the southeast, winds abruptly to the north and westward, and finally zigzags over into Jackson Township about a mile from the northwest corner. The Horseshoe Bend occurs just below the mouth of Glade Run, and nearly surrounds the farm of Eli GOEHRING, which consists of 200 acres. The curve is swift, but not angular or abrupt. The distance across from one point of the Horseshoe to the other is not more than forty or fifty rods. This bend is included within a beautiful basin, nearly circular and about two miles in diameter, which is inclosed on all sides by hills, save where the creeks have forced their way through these opposing barriers. No traveler through this township can fail to note and remark upon the peculiar charms of this singular natural basin. Within it is fertile bottom land, formerly somewhat wet in portions, but now brought, by the labors of the skillful agriculturist, into a high state of cultivation. Along the eastern side of the valley runs the Pittsburgh & Western Railroad, crossing Glade Run upon lofty trestle work, and issuing from the valley in its southeastern part through a tunnel. This railroad was built during the summer of 1882. Some of the most difficult portions of the road to construct were in this township, from the junction with the main line on the Breakneck Creek to the northeast corner of the township.

Breakneck Creek flows through the southwestern part of Forward as far as Evansburg, where it passes into Jackson Township. Its bottom lands, while not extensive yet contain some very pretty fields. Numerous small streams or runs thoroughly drain all parts of the township, and good springs are many. In the eastern part of Forward are a number of level farms, while west of Glade Run the land is gently undulating, with no particularly striking features. The farms of the township are generally well improved, showing that the population is thrifty and industrious.

Forward contains no villages, excepting a portion of Evansburg. Eight churches are included within the township, four of which are in Evansburg.


This was a heavily wooded district, and the pioneers found that arduous, long-continued toil was necessary to reduce it to a fit state for habitation. Humble as the labor of the pioneer appears when we give attention to its details, his work nevertheless had in it the elements of heroism. Surely it was "generous toil" which sought to render the wilderness habitable, and prepare the way for permanent prosperity.

The early history of this township contains nothing of remarkable or peculiar interest. The pioneers [p.234] came, performed their work, died, and many of them are now forgotten. The story of what they did and what they suffered is largely buried with them. The mutability of all things human is here freshly exemplified. Few of their lineage now remain to perpetuate their memory in this locality. New-comers now fill the places which once they filled, and continue, after modern methods, the work which they began. At this late date it is impossible to ascertain when and by whom the pioneer settlement of Forward was begun. The township was formed in 1854, from portions of the old townships of Middlesex, Cranberry and Connoquenessing. Probably the settlement began at or near the same date with the townships mentioned. But of the early families, only the ASHES, CRITCHLOWS, BROWNS, BRANDONS, DOUTHETTS and a few others are now represented in the township. All are excellent and worthy people, honest and respectable. The places of other early comers are now largely in the possession of thrifty German settlers to whom this county owes so large a share of its development.

Old John MCCOLLUM was among the earliest settlers. He was a generous, good-natured, jovial man, well thought of by all his neighbors. Some of his descendants remained here for a time, but the last of them went West years ago. In 1804, Adam BROWN bought a "settler's right" to a tract of 400 acres, and moved to it with his family from Cumberland County, Penn. The BROWNS have always been prominent citizens of the township. Joseph BROWN, son of Adam, who came here when four years of age, is still living upon the farms, with his son, W.M. BROWN. Adam BROWN, Sr., died about 1815, when a young man. Both he and his son John were in the war of 1812. Adam Brown's children were John , Adam, Joseph, Thomas Ray, Elizabeth (MCCANDLESS), Margaret (WHITE), Matilda (WHITE), and another daughter, who died young. Of this family, two survive - Joseph, of Forward, and Thomas Ray, of Pittsburgh. Joseph married Mary MARSHALL, a native of Ireland. His children who survive are as follows: Jane E. (DOUTHETT), Forward; Hon. A. M. BROWN, Pittsburgh; J.K. BROWN, Illinois; W. M. BROWN, Forward; Esther L. (BLAKELY), Pittsburgh; and Sarah B. (DOUTHETT), Brownsdale.

One of the first mills in this neighborhood was a horse-mill, on Adam BROWN'S farm. Moses and Brinton ROBBINS, Yankees, were pioneers of this neighborhood. The first grist-mill and saw-mill on Glade Run was built by one of them, who purchased 1,000 acres of settlers' land.

The mill on Glade Run known as BROWN'S Mill was erected about 1820, by Maj. Reese EVANS, and has since been in operation, of course with repairing and rebuilding. Subsequent owners have been Adam BROWN, R.H. BROWN and Philip GELBAUGH, the present proprietor.

Until mills were established, long journeys on horseback were necessary when the settler wished to procure meal or flour. To avoid these journeys as much as possible, there were frequent resorts to handmills, mortars, and sometimes wheat was boiled whole, a palatable and wholesome food. Mush was ever a staple article of food in the pioneer's household These settlers, with all their privations and hardships, were generally cheerful and contented. They managed to secure sufficient food and clothing, and plenty of work prevented despondency. We can imagine a winter evening scene in one of the rude dwellings of logs, with floor and loft of puncheons, and instead of chairs and tables, roughly fashioned benches cut from the forest logs. The mother, with her knitting, sits by the household fire, so warm and bright, and the ruddy glow of the blazing back log throws its mellow light over her cheerful features. The cat and dog have cozy places at each side of the hearthstone. The rosy-cheeked, healthy-complexioned daughters sit near their mother, darning or sewing, while the boys are busy with their jack knives, constructing toys or some simple utensil. By the rude bench, dignified by the name of table, the husband and father sits, a candle and a Bible before him. As the hour of 9 approaches, each member of the family puts aside the work on which he or she is engaged, and listen, with reverent attention, while the father reads a portion of God's Word. Then all kneel and supplicated the Throne of Grace, with thankful hearts, for even the few gifts they have received from kind Providence. The "Cotter's Saturday Night, " so beautifully described by BURNS, whose "simple and heartfelt lays" are so dear to these Scotch-Irish hearts, is here re-enacted. Perchance, during the evening, a sociable neighbor has dropped in to ask after the health of the family, or perform some trifling errand. There was a neighborly, social kindness widely prevalent in those days. Strangers were hospitably entertained, and the best the house afforded was set before them, without ostentation or apology. The picture of the pioneer's home life is a pleasing one, despite the rude framework which surrounds it. Let the memory of it be perpetuated!

Peter MCKINNEY settled in this township in 1792. For a sketch of his life, see the chapter devoted to Connoquenessing Township. He was the earliest pioneer of the Connoquenessing Valley of whom we have any record. The GILLILANDS and GLOVERS settled here about 1796. James GLOVER was the settler of the tract known as the GILLILAND property. Barnet GILLILAND married his daughter Nancy.

The Scotch settlement mentioned in the history of [p.235] Connoquenessing Township extended southward as far as the creek, and the names of some of the early settlers of Forward will be found in the account of that settlement.

About 1802, David and Adam GILLILAND, who were enterprising and business like men, purchased from Peter MCKINNEY the property on the Connoquenessing on which the mill now stands. The first log mill was here erected by David GILLILAND, near the beginning of this century. The mill now standing was built on the same site by Barnet GILLILAND in 1827. His son Adam afterward owned it, and from him Henry BUHL purchased the property. The next owners were Peter and James RAY. Peter RAY sold his interest in the mill to A.J.. EVANS, who later purchased the whole, and is now the owner. Adam GILLILAND, Sr. had no family, but lived with his brother David. David's son Barnet, lived here. His sons were David, William, James and Adam. There were also several daughters. David built the brick residence now owned by Henry BUHL. William moved to a farm near Wilkinsburg, Allegheny County. Adam moved to Michigan after he sold the mill.

The William GOEHRING farm was first settled by a man named TEMPLE. Then Rev. Matthew WILLIAMS, Covenanter preacher, lived on the place. James ANDERSON, was the next settler on the farm. His daughter, Mrs. MCILVAINE, now lives in Evansburg. GOEHRING purchased the farm from ANDERSON.

Patrick LOVE was an early settler in the western part of the township. John, his son, became the owner of the property, and sold to William BRACKEN, from whose son, Aaron BRACKEN, Esq., the farm was purchased by Peter PFEIFER, its present owner.

A WILSON family were among the early settlers. They went to Indiana, and Jesse EVANS afterward occupied the farm.

James ANDERSON, one of the pioneers, was here previous to 1800. His children were William, James, Silas, John and Julia.

On the farm adjoining William GOEHRING'S, a MARTIN family were early settlers. In this family occurred one of those distressing events which occasionally marred the peaceful serenity of pioneer days. MARTIN'S youngest son, Daniel, hung himself in the log barn. Disappointment in love was said to have been the cause of the act.

Among the earliest families whose descendants still remain here was Joseph ASH. His life, though not a long one, was full of adventure and hazardous escapes. He was born in Kentucky, and, when a boy, was taken captive by the Indians, with whom he remained two years, being then ransomed by his brother. His mother and a child were killed by the savages. Joseph and two of his brothers were taken prisoners. The Indians split Joseph's ears so as to know him. When a young man, he found his way in Western Pennsylvania and during the Indian troubles was engaged to carry mail from Fort Pitt to Detroit. He made one or more trips, going the whole distance on foot. Afterward, other carriers took charge of the mail over certain portions of the route. The letters were few, and a handkerchief easily contained them all. The changing places or distributing offices were hollow trees, known to the carriers, where the mail was deposited by one carrier and removed by another. Later, the route was traversed by horsemen, and the mail-carriers also rode horseback. In 1803, Joseph ASH and his wife, Sarah, found their way to the west side of the circular valley already described, and settled on the bottom land. This farm had been previously occupied for a time by a man named MURRAY. Joseph ASH was born in 1771, and died in 1811. His wife died in 1826. They had four children, two of whom are living - Rachel (WILLIAMS) and Sylvester, both deceased; Elizabeth (NORMAN) and Isaac B. The latter lives upon the old homestead.

Sylvester ASH, born in 1805, died in 1880. He was well and favorably known. His wife, who survives him, was Martha BOGGS, daughter of Robert BOGGS, Esq. Their surviving children are four sons and one daughter - Joseph resides near Evansburg; Isaac is an attorney, and resides in Oil City; Robert lives in Evansburg; Lizzie is the wife of Lewis GANSZ, Esq., Evansburg; J. Anderson is engaged in farming and stock raising upon the old homestead.

Enoch MCLEOD was an early Scotch settler who located on the farm where his daughter, Mrs. Robert MCNAIR, now lives. Three of his family are still living - Catherine (MCNAIR), Margaret (WITTE) and Jane (MARSHALL). Enos MCLEOD was a son of Norman MCLEOD, one of the settlers of 1796. He had a brother, Daniel, who died young. Of the old gentleman but little is remembered. Four of his daughters were Margaret (BOGGS), Catharine (MCLAIN), Mary (GRAHAM) and Nancy (MCLURE).

John BRANDON, a prominent pioneer, lived to the ripe old age of ninety-two. He came from Eastern Pennsylvania to Westmoreland County, then removed to Mercer County, and, after a short residence there, came to this county and taught school. About 1807, he married Susan WELSH and settled north of the Connoquenessing. He was the father of seven children- William, settled in Butler and died single in 1839; Mary, died unmarried; Sarah (KELKER), Forward Township; John W., Connoquenessing Township; and James, Forward Township, are still living; [p.236] Eliza (MARVIN) died near Scrub Grass Furnace; Thomas, resides in Connoquenessing Township. Mr. BRANDON was a worthy citizen. He was one of the most active citizens in the support of a temperance movement which originated in the neighborhood, and, in 1830, resulted in the formation of a total abstinence society, which met for some time at his house, but afterward, assuming greater proportions, temperance meetings were held at the church, and many became teetotalers. Mr. BRANDON signed the total abstinence pledge among the very first, and strove to discourage the use of spirits. He was unable to hire help in harvest the following season, because he would allow no whisky on his premises. But a year later, help was plenty and sobriety the rule. The temperance movement accomplished so much good that after it, whisky was rarely used in the harvest-field in this neighborhood.

John BRANDON served one term as County Commissioner.. At the time of his settlement, and during many years following, wolves and other wild animals were very numerous in the thick timber about the creek. At one time, they killed about a dozen sheep within fifty rods of his house.

Jesse EVANS came from east of the mountains and took up a farm in the northern part of the township quite early. Archibald MCCOLLISTER, the pioneer school-teacher of this neighborhood, settled about 1800 on the present John BANNINGER farm. Mrs. MCCOLLISTER and her two young children, together with the bedding and furnishing material for the new home, came on one horse. Archibald MCCOLLISTER died upon the farm, all of his family are dead excepting one daughter, Margaret, now an aged single lady. The names of his children were: Joseph, Jane (BLAKLEY), Dorcas, Hannah, Margaret and Polly (GRAHAM). Jane died in 1882, aged eighty-six years. She was the wife of Lewis BLAKLEY, an early settler, who came from Westmoreland County with his father, Joseph BLAKELY, who located on the farm now owned by Matthew WILLIAMS. He and Lewis both died on this farm. Joseph BLAKELY'S children were Lewis, Jane (MCNELLIS), Fanny (STEELE), Joseph, Harvey and Mary (ROSE). Of these, two are living - Joseph and Harvey - in the West. Lewis and Jane BLAKELY reared eleven sons and one daughter. Three sons are dead, and the remainder are widely scattered. Andrew resides in this township.

There was far more pleasure in pioneer life than one would imagine, regarding it from a modern point of vision. Nearly all the settlers were poor; but few, if any, were destitute. Cheerfulness is an excellent substitute for riches, and this quality was the early settlers main stay and support amid hardships and privations. There was, and always is, among settlers in a new country, almost a fraternal intimacy, coupled with a lively interest in the prosperity of all --a helpful, generous spirit, which advancing civilization and accumulated wealth have almost banished from rural communities. In early days, every important work, such as clearing, raising a cabin or a barn, etc., was performed by the united efforts of the neighborhood. These busy play-days were called "frolics," and the name was not inappropriate, for there was a great amount of mirth and mischief-making pent up in the minds of those sturdy sons of the forest, and on these occasions some of it was sure to break forth to relieve the monotonous routine of work made make it appear but pastime. There was a time when to go to a raising was esteemed by the farmer's boys the ne plus ultra of enjoyment, and having heard the announcement of one of these grand occasions, his brain was full of the thought of it until he witnessed the fulfillment of his anticipations. Whisky flowed freely on these gala days, but reckless intemperance was probably no more common then than now.

Conspicuous among the pioneers were the CRITCHLOWS, and the name is still very common. William CRITCHLOW, whose daughter, Mrs. GRAY, is still living, lived on a farm about a mile from James. The CRITCHLOWS and DOUTHETTS made an excellent selection of land, and the part of the township where they located is now highly improved. James CRITCHLOW was a Revolutionary soldier, and took part in the Indian wars later. Several members of the CRITCHLOW family were killed by the Indians - the brothers of James, Sr. James, Jr. was a war of 1812 soldier. All the CRITCHLOW family, sons and daughters of James,Sr. are now dead. Their names were John, Mary, Martha, Jane, David, James, Archibald and Ellen. James and Archibald died in this township. James died in 1859, aged sixty-five. His son, Samuel H., now occupies the old homestead.

Matthew WILLIAMS, a native of Ireland, came to this country about the year 1798, and, about the year 1800, settled on the GOEHRING farm in this township. He was a man of better education than the average pioneer, having studied the classics at Edinburgh, Scotland, and completed his education at Washington and Jefferson College, in this State. In 1806, he married Elizabeth BARNHILL, of Red Stone, Westmoreland County. After coming to this county, he began preaching in the Covenanter faith, and continuing this work in Butler and Allegheny Counties until 1827, when he died, at the age of sixty. He was a man of earnestness and sincerity, and was widely known by people of his faith. His wife was often left alone for days together while he was away preaching, and many times the wolves and bears came [p.237] near to her door. Mr. WILLIAMS had four preaching appointments - Pine Creek and Deer Creek in Allegheny County, and Union and Slippery Rock in this county. He moved from this county in 1815. His son Matthew returned to this township and settled in 1865. The children of Rev. Matthew WILLIAMS were; Martha (MCCLELLAND - deceased), Ann, Mary, Elizabeth (YOUNG), Nancy Jane, James and David (deceased), Joseph, William, Matthew and John. Joseph and William reside in Allegheny County. Joseph is a wealthy farmer, and is the founder of a town called Boston, three miles from McKeesport. Rev. John WILLIAMS, the youngest son, is a preacher in Sullivan County, N.Y., where he has been engaged in the ministry for the last thirty years.

On the farm adjoining the WALDRON farm on the south lived a family by the name of BRUNER. Henry BRUNER, the father, was the victim of a melancholy accident, or, as some say, was deliberately murdered. One Sunday morning, he and his son Jacob were out hunting, some two miles from home. They had separated in order to hunt to better advantage, and Jacob saw what he supposed was a deer, fired at it and killed his father. The explanation he gave was this; His father wore a light-colored wool hat, with holes cut in it, that it might not be too warm for his head. The old man was sitting on a log to rest, and Jacob, coming up through the woods, caught sight of the hat, and mistaking it for the head and eyes of a deer, fired. It is strange that a practiced hunter should not be able to tell the difference between a man's hat and a deer's head. Still, the son may have been absolutely innocent of any evil intention. Nothing was ever done to clear up the mystery surrounding the affair.

Joseph MCGREGOR and family were early settlers on the present DUNBAR farm. John MCGEORGE lived on a farm near MCGREGOR. John RICE was an early settler in the CRICHLOW neighborhood. William CRATTY lived for a time near the site of the Covenanter Church, and ran a distillery, which was much patronized by himself and neighbors. None of these settlers now have representatives in the township.

John CROW emigrated from Ireland and settled in Allegheny County, whence he moved to this county about 1810. He first settled on the Breakneck, but later moved to the eastern part of the township, taking up a farm on which Samuel SKILLINGS had settled early. SKILLINGS had built a log barn, which is still standing, and doubtless one of the oldest buildings in the township. Another SKILLINGS also settled a part of the same farm. CROW purchased from William CRATTY. His father, William CROW, also settled here with him. John CROW died in 1852, at the age of seventy-five. Of his children, Mary (DOUTHETT) resides in Adams Township; Samuel and William are dead; John resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. and owns the old homestead - a most beautiful farm; David B. resides in this township, on a part of the original tract.

About 1836, John HAZLETT, purchased from WILKINS, a land-jobber and surveyor, the farm now owned by James SUTTON - a 200 acre tract, for $600. His son, Joseph, and Robert H. KINNEAR, were subsequent owners.

John HAMEL moved from Washington County to Butler County about 1814, and settled in Forward Township, near Petersville. Of his children, two sons and two daughters are living. James, of Penn Township, is the only representative of this family now living in the county. John HAMEL was an 1812 soldier, and was wounded at the battle of Lundy's Lane. He died in 1832.

Zachariah CONEBY, now a resident of Forward Township, about 1842, settled on a farm about one mile from his present home. He is a native of Maryland. Of his eight children, five are living, viz: Charles, Penn Township; Hannah J. (SANKEY), New Castle; Mary ( SMALL), dead; Joseph B., Allegheny City; Priscilla (HUNTER), Nebraska; Homer, Forward Township; Clara (dead); and Louisa (LIST), also deceased. The growth of the township in wealth and population was exceedingly slow. Land-jobbers bought the rights of settlers who became dissatisfied with their locations and sought to better their fortunes elsewhere, and for a long time many tracts were without occupants. WILKINS and Benjamin CHEW held possession of much of the land for years, and at length disposed of it at very moderate prices. As late as thirty years ago, there were farms still unsettled.

Martin BEHM emigrated from Germany and, about 1850, settled on an unimproved place. David DICKEY, who died, in 1865, came here in 1851 from Allegheny County, and settled on the farm where his sons, W.W. and A.A. DICKEY, now live. He purchased his land from Benjamin CHEW, the original patentee. Small improvements had previously been made upon the place.

The manufacturing interests of this township have never been extensive. Excepting in saw-mills and grist-mills, there has been but little machinery in use. Some fifty years ago, Samuel MINNIS erected a small frame building on what is now the Robert MCNAIR farm, on the Connoquenessing. He and William B. EVANS here carried on for some years the business of spinning, carding and fulling.


Previous to 1835, there were no district schools, and the small school privileges enjoyed by the pioneer' children before that date were confined to the [p.238] tuition schools, kept in rudely constructed log schoolhouses or deserted log cabins, frequently by men who were of no earthly account or usefulness save in the capacity of schoolmasters. Many of the aged and respected citizens of this county never attended school in a house which had glass windows, and never studied a text-book on geography or English grammar. The schools were usually a winter term of three months, rarely held for two winters in succession. Three miles was a short distance for the scholars of that day to walk, often through the snow and mud, and never over good roads. An early school, on the farm of Joseph BROWN, in the eastern part of the township, was in operation several years, and was attended by the children of numerous settlers, residents of the present townships of Middlesex, Penn and Forward. For the settlers of the western part of the township, a school was established just north of where Evansburg is at an early date. Here some good teachers labored - at least in those days they were considered good, though, if living to-day, it is very doubtful whether they would be able to secure a certificate of fitness. Archibald GRAY and Archibald MCCOLLISTER were the first teachers in this school. GRAY was accounted a good scholar. He had been a sea captain, and was believed to have made money by it. He was a very gentlemanly and popular teacher. From this neighborhood he moved to Prospect. MCCOLLISTER was an early settler, who died in this township. He taught school in various places, and is still remembered by some who were his pupils. John SUPPLE, who is described as "a brokendown English gentleman," was another early teacher in the old shoolhouse above mentioned. Another schoolmaster was a wounded veteran of the war of 1812, Joseph ALWARD, who came here a widower, and afterward married Mary, daughter of Michael MARTIN, an early settler. Later he settled near Tarentum, where he was shot by a neighbor with whom he had a dispute, and died from the effects of the wound.

There was an early schoolhouse on the John STEWART farm, where teachers named KIRK, Adam BAYLES, MCCOLLISTER and SIBBLES taught. On John BANNINGER'S farm was another schoolhouse, with paper windows, puncheon benches, stick and mud chimney. Here Isaac SUTTON and William MCKINNEY were teachers. MCKINNEY was quite a boaster, and said much of his ability to manage refractory pupils. He did not propose to be 'barred out." Ah, no! not he; unless condign punishment was visited upon the offenders. He would "make 'em smart for it" if they tried that game. But one day he came to the house and sought admittance in vain. The boys had been busy since 2 o'clock A.M., preparing for his arrival. Almost his first question was, "Have you a paper prepared?" On receiving an affirmative reply, he asked to see the treaty, and at once signed it. Four dozen cakes and four bushels of apples was the stipulation demanded, and to this he assented without murmur or complaint.

Later, there was a schoolhouse upon the ROSE farm, near Petersville, and another on the CARSON farm, in the same neighborhood. Alexander PURVIANCE, David MCDONALD, Daniel GRAHAM, Esq., William THOMAS, James MCKINNEY, and Sarah SLATER, were faithful and competent teachers who labored here.


For a township of small population, Forward is abundantly supplied with churches, there being eight within its limits. The Evansburg churches will be found in the sketch of that village given elsewhere. The other churches of the township are two Methodist Episcopal organizations, which worship at Petersville and Brownsdale, the Covenanter Church and the Catholic Church.


The Methodists had two classes quite early, one of which met at the house of Caleb RICHMOND, and the other for many years at the dwelling of Squire Robert BROWN. The RICHMOND class was the oldest organization, and was formed previous to 1827. Caleb RICHMOND was its Class-Leader and chief manager. This class was mainly made up of families of the "New York Yankee" settlement, and consisted of Caleb RICHMOND, Barney, Seth, Elijah and Perus SNOW, Nathan SLATER, Widow LARABEE and families. Robert BROWN was also a member before the class was formed at his house. Among the early preachers were Revs. Thomas CARR, Dr. ADAMS (who had formerly practiced medicine) and William C. HENDERSON. Charles THORNE and Jonathan HOLT were circuit preachers who ministered here. The Richmond class met for years at the cabins of its members, and at length erected a small meeting house and named it Richmond Chapel. When the church was erected at Brownsdale, this class merged with the newer organization, and sold the chapel building to the Catholics.

Robert BROWN, Esq., was for years one of the foremost of the Methodists of this part of the county, and his house was a frequent preaching-place from 1800 until churches became numerous. Mr. BROWN united with the church soon after he came to this county, and soon after, was appointed Leader of the Wigfield Class, which met about six miles from his home. In this leadership he continued for thirty years. About 1839, at this house was formed the class mentioned in the first paragraph. This class was organized by Rev. John RATHBUN, from Ohio, a [p.239] doctor of medicine and a local preacher. Among the principal [sic] members were Joseph MILLER and family, Adam and John BROWN and families, Robert BROWN and family, and others. In 1860, the Brownsdale Methodist Episcopal Church was erected. It was dedicated the same year, the exercises being conducted by Rev. Dr. NESBIT, then editor of the Pittsburgh Christian Advocate, and Presiding Elder Rev. D.P. MITCHELL. During two years subsequent to the dedication of the church, about seventy-five members were added under the labors of Rev. Dr. STORER. The church has since suffered some from deaths and removals, but it continues to have a good membership of faithful workers. This church is included in the Brownsdale Circuit, comprising Brownsdale, Thorn Creek and Middlesex.


There was preaching in this neighborhood several years before any church building was erected, but we have no means of ascertaining whether there was any regular class formed or not. A few years previous to the building of the church in 1858, a class was formed, with Alexander BRYSON, Leader. Meetings were held in the schoolhouses and in the hall at Petersville until the house was erected. Rev. John AINSLEY was pastor in 1858, and, during the year, a frame building, 36 x 50 feet, was erected, at a cost of about $1,600. The following Trustees were appointed: Alexander P. BRYSON, Henry INGRAHAM, John FERGUSON, Henry V. WINTERSTEIN and Robert W. GRAHAM. The house was dedicated January 13, 1859, with services conducted by Presiding Elder D.P. MITCHELL, of Allegheny Conference, assisted by Rev. TAYLOR, of the California Conference.


In the southern part of the township is a small church edifice built by the Methodists, and purchased from them by the Catholics in 1860 or 1861. Services are held but irregularly. The church belongs to the Butler Diocese. Its main supporters are John MCNEAL, Thomas MCCAFFERTY and Ewing MCNALLY.


North Union Reformed Presbyterian Church was organized by former members of Union Congregation, of Adams Township. The house in Forward Township was erected on the corner of David Crow's farm in 1861. At that time, the Elders were Robert DODDS, John MAGEE, James ANDERSON and Robert PURVIS. Since 1861, David CROW, William ALLEN and John S. FORSYTH have been elected Elders. The pastor, Rev. John GALBRAITH, has been pastor of North Union and of the parent congregation for a continuous period of about forty years, and is greatly beloved and esteemed.


1854, Caleb RICHMOND; 1855, Daniel GRAHAM; 1858, Malcom GRAHAM; 1859, Aaron BRACKEN; 1863, John W. MARTIN; 1864, Robert MCNAIR; 1869, Richard S. MCKINNEY; 1869, Robert MCNAIR; 1869, Robert MCNAIR; 1874, Thomas GRAHAM; 1874, J. W. MARTIN; 1875, Randolph KELKER; 1879, Thomas MARTIN; 1880, D.B. DOUTHETT; 1882, Nicholas KRAMER.



Henry BUHL, son of Christian and Dorothy (GOEHRING) BUHL, was born in Zelienople in August, 1813, and has always been a resident of this county. He is of German parentage, his father coming to this county in 1803; purchased a farm in Cranberry Township; also a small farm at Zelienople, where he resided at the time of his decease, in 1863, at the advanced age of eighty-eight years. He was the father of eleven children, eight of whom are now living - six boys and two girls. Mr. BUHL was a hatter by trade; plied his vocation at Zelienople, and was successful in accumulating a competency. He was for many years a Justice of the Peace; also held the honorable position of Associate Judge. Politically, he was a Jacksonian Democrat, and an ardent supporter of the principles of his party. Mr. and Mrs. BUHL were both members of the German Lutheran Church.

Henry BUHL was married, in 1842, to Christina W.C., a daughter of Frederick C. and Christina (STAZELL) SPEYER, and they are the parents of four daughters and three sons. His eldest son, Frederick C., lives in Forward Township, near his father's old homestead. In 1850, Henry BUHL purchased what is known as the old GILLILAND Mill, and some three years later, the balance of the GILLILAND farm. Politically, he affiliates with the Democratic party.


The subject of this memoir, a daughter of Archibald and Hannah MCALLISTER, was born at their home on Pigeon Creek, Washington, Co., Penn., March 7, 1797.

In 1801, her family emigrated to and settled on land now owned and occupied by grandson,. Mordecai GRAHAM, within the limit of Old Cranberry, now Forward Township, Butler Co., Penn, where she lived until her eighteenth year when she was married to Lewis BLAKELEY, whose family had removed [p.240] from the "Forks of Yough," in Allegheny County, Penn., and settled in the same township.

Mrs. BLAKELEY'S residence was continuously within the limits of the now Forward Township from 1801 until within a few years of her death, when she removed to the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Edward COOKSON, in Cranberry Township, where she died June 15, 1882.

The point selected by Archibald MCALLISTER for his residence in the new settlement was on the "Old Indian trail" from Fort Du Quesne, now Pittsburgh, to the forts on the Allegheny River, now Franklin.

The trail afterward became the Pittsburgh & Franklin road.

MCALLISTER'S nearest neighbor at the time of his settlement and for some time thereafter, was Robert BOGGS, Esq., one and a half miles southwest, where the trail crossed Breakneck, where Evansburg now stands.

It is needless to say that one thus thrown into a wilderness at the tender age of four years grew up without the education and accomplishments which usually adorn the sex.

Yet their was an education in the wild, weird scenes through which the childhood and girlhood of Jane MCALLISTER were passed.

The necessities of life enforced industry and economy, both of which she cheerfully accepted, taught and practiced to the day of her death.

The contact with nature, with the Indians on their trail and in the forest, and with the wild beasts of the wood, gave her nerve and courage unknown to most women.

The strict code of honor and fair dealing observed among the sparse neighbors of a new settlement impressed upon her mind the truth of the teachings of Christian parents, and to the end of her life she walked uprightly, and had the honor and respect of all who knew her.

The theater, the circus, the play-house and the ball-room, being unknown in her wilderness home, the humble house God built under the forest trees, and the ceremonies therein observed commanded all her time that could be spared from domestic duties, and, being thus "planted in the house of the Lord," in her youth, she took deep root and bore rich fruit in all the excellences of a pure Christian life.

In the absence of the luxuries which mostly weaken the body, she grew strong and healthful on the plainer diet of the backwoods cottage.

Thus equipped for life, she married as stated, and became the mother of twelve children, nine of whom are yet living; and of the dead, one died from injuries received in wrestling, one was drowned in an effort to swim the Ohio River, and one was killed in the army, so that none have died from inherent disease or ordinary sickness.

On Sept 3, 1845, her husband, Lewis BLAKELEY, an honest man, a humble Christian, an honored citizen, a most loving father and husband, lay down and died after a sickness of but six hours, in the prime of life, in the fifty-second year of age.

His death threw the whole care of this large family upon their widowed mother, and the nobility with which she assumed the responsibility, and the love, tenderness and discretion with which she executed it, are known only to her, to them, and to the God who blessed her in this grand work of motherhood.

All that she had learned from necessity, experience or observation, she taught them, while all the facilities for learning which the county afforded, and which she could command, she laid at their feet, and from the day of the death of their father, she, morning and evening, read to them from the Word of God, and, in prayer and supplication, knelt with them and called upon them the blessings of the Eternal One.

Mrs. BLAKELEY was a woman of strong convictions, and clung to them with the tenacity of life.

Her father was a well educated Protestant Scotch-Irishman, who dwelt but little in the ideal, and excelled in the classics and mathematics, which he had successfully taught in the colleges of the old country, and the daughter's adherence to the Protestant faith, and her loyalty to the church and her convictions, may have been inherited; may be been the result of his teachings; may have been their joint product.

She was baptized in infancy, by the Rev. Dr. MCMILLAN, of the Presbyterian Church of Cannonsburg, Washington Co., Penn., but, after her marriage, the Rev. John BLACK, D.D. of Pittsburgh, organized a Covenanter Church in her neighborohod [sic], which she, with her husband, joined, and there she ever afterward worshiped.

For many years in her earlier married life, her husband owned and conducted a large distillery for that day, on the farm on which Andrew BLAKELEY now lives, in Forward Township.

During that time, Maj. Reese EVANS, who lived just across the Glade Run Creek, organized the well-known military company called the "Connoquenessing Whites."

Maj. EVANS once said to the writer that the musters of this company were for a long time held at Lewis BLAKELEY's, for the ostensible reason that his meadow afforded good drill grounds, but for the real reason that they preferred being near the "old rye."

Maj. EVANS further said that Jane BLAKELEY was one of the finest combinations of moral, physical, nerve and will power he had ever seen. That when [p.241] she moved around among those men, quarreling, drunkenness, profanity and the rude jest all seemed to disappear, and hide their heads in shame before her.

During one of the cold winters of that period, a deep snow had fallen and was covered with a crust strong enough to carry men, but the sharp hoof the deer penetrated it, and they could seldom make much headway on it. One day, Mrs. BLAKELEY heard the dogs baying furiously on top of the high hill back of where Andrew BLAKELEY'S house now stands; her husband being absent, she set out to find the cause of the barking. Reaching the hill-top, she found an immense buck surrounded by the dogs, the buck having taken refuge by a tree, around whose roots the wind had whirled out the snow, leaving a space clear to the ground. She immediately returned to the house , got the butcher-knife, and mounting the hill again, seized the buck by the horns, cut his throat and hauled him home on the snow crust. This feat was witnessed by Maj. EVANS from his house on the opposite side of the valley.

At another time, when a mad dog made his appearance in the cow-yard one Sunday morning, in the absence of her husband, she got his rifle, and with cool and deliberate aim, shot the dog while on his rabid run from one animal to another.

When the great civil war came, five of her sons volunteered for the defense of the Union. To all of them she gave words of cheer and encouragement, never for a moment, by word or look, dissuading from a movement that had her heartiest sympathy.

She was intense in her hatred of slavery, and in her loyalty to Government.

Having done the work assigned her in her day and generation, she was called from health to death in a few days' sickness, in her eighty-sixth year, at the residence of her son-in-law, Edward COOKSON, Esq., in Cranberry Township, on the early morning of June 15, 1882, surrounded by many of her children, relatives and friends.

On the evening of the following day, her body was laid to rest beside that of her husband, in the cemetery of the Covenanter Church, where she had worshiped for over half a century.

Her children were John, Andrew, Jesse, Isaac, Joseph, Archibald, Lewis, Harvey, William, Hannah Jane, Thomas Guthrie and Mordecai Graham, all of whom yet live except Jesse, Lewis and Harvey.


[p. 232a]
HON. W. S. WALDRON. Probably there is no family in the county that has a more honorable ancestry, or that can trace them back farther into the past than that of Hon. W.S. WALDRON, of Forward Township. The historian learns that as early as 1647 Barron Resolved VON WALDRON, the progenitor of the American branch of this illustrious family, came from Harlem, Holland, with Peter STUYVESANT, the first Governor of the State of New York. In 1656, he obtained a patent of the Dutch Government, of which he was a magistrate for seventeen years, for a tract of land in the northern part of Manhattan Island, and here founded and laid out a town that he christened New Harlem, after his native town in Holland, and it bears this name to-day with the prefix dropped. In 1660, he built a hall called "Waldron's Hall"--a large stone structure 36x50, with an annex 20x30, containing two large halls eight and twelve feet wide respectively. The hall was finished in yellow birch brought from Holland in a Dutch merchantman. The hall was located on "Horn's Hook," East River, and was in a good state of preservation when razed to the ground to make way for more modern structures. It was the property of the family until 1800. Barron Resolved VON WALDRON was a lineal descendant of Barron Rudolph VON WALDRON, who was granted a coat of arms and a large manor in 1128 by the Holland Government for valor displayed in the Plains of Palestine in the second crusade in the taking of Jerusalem in 1099.

One of Rudolph's sons named Richard went to England in A.D. 1154, and became a warrior under Henry II, the first Plantagenet (or the sweeps) who conquered part of France and Ireland A.D. 1172. Richard was granted a coat of arms, and created a Barron A.D. 1157. Richard built a castle on his manor in Bradfield, Devon County, where his descendants now reside.

Barron Resolved VON WALDRON had four sons, the third being named Adolph. Adolph's son, named Francis, who emigrated to this country and settled on a farm in Clover Hill, N.J. One of the sons of Francis, named John, lived and died in Clover Hill; Samuel WALDRON (the prefix "Von" appears to have been dropped here), married and settled in Trenton, N.J., where he resided until 1794, when he moved to Washington County, Penn., and one year later to Mercer County, into the wilderness, being among the first settlers of that county. He served for five years under Gens. WASHINGTON and MARION during the Revolutionary war, participating in the battle of Branderwine and other engagements. He was born in 1752, and died in 1849, in Mercer County. He and his wife, Magdalena (SIMPSON), became the parents of five children, viz.: Daniel, John S., Oliver, Elizabeth and Margaret. John was born April 17, 1785, and died April 5, 1863. His wife, Maria (LINDSEY), died December 20, 1834. John WALDRON served in the war of 1812, and served in the Lake squadron, then considered a doubly dangerous position.

In 1817, he emigrated to Butler County, and purchased the farm where his son W.S. now resides, when in a state of nature. In common with other pioneers, he was not blessed with much of this world's goods, and having an ox and horse they were harnessed together, and constituted his team for farm work. He was a man exceedingly generous and kind, and although in straitened financial circumstances, assisted many a poor widow in cultivating her farm. By occupation, he was alternately a school teacher, farmer and mechanic. He was for forty years an Elder in the Presbyterian Church. He was a typical pioneer, industrious, honest and generous, willing at any time to render assistance to the needy. His children were Margaret, Isabell, Jemima, Alexander, Samuel, John L., Susan and W.S.

W.S. was born June 23, 1823, and being reared on a farm had little opportunity for self-culture; but by securing text books, studying nights, and even while resting his team in the field, he became possessed of a generous store of knowledge. Having qualified himself, he taught common and singing schools very successfully. Some thirty years since, he purchased the old homestead around which clings so many pleasant associations, and it is now his residence, a view of which can be seen on another page in this volume. Mr. WALDRON is an active, energetic, progressive man, fully alive to the issues of the day, and his fitness for official position was early recognized by the people of his township, whom he has served acceptably in various township offices, and particularly so as School Director, he taking a great interest in the cause of education. In 1856, he received a call to come up higher, and was elected County Auditor, and served for three years most acceptably. Again, in 1872, he was favored with the suffrages of the people, not only of his county but of the counties of Beaver and Washington, which constituted the legislative district, and he was elected to the State Legislature by a handsome majority, and filled this office with credit to himself and honor to his constituents. In 1874, he was re-nominated, but in common with his colleagues on the Republican ticket was defeated. Twice since has his name been prominent in the nominating convention for this office. During the war of the rebellion, he was actively engaged in filling the quota of soldiers due from his township, and in all public affairs takes an active and working interest, and it is to such men that the county is indebted for its measure of progress.

In September, 1844, he was married to Eliza M., daughter of John and Susan (KLINE) BELLES. She was born in Luzerne County, Penn., August 14, 1825, and came to Butler County in 1842 with her parents. Their children are: Orland K., Susan O., Theodore, William S., Laura H., John J.C., Eva M., Reuben O., Maria B., Frederic E., Ann J., Ulysses S.G., Ada M., Leota E. Religiously, they are identified with the Presbyterian Church.


[p. 240a]
Mary BROWN, wife of Joseph BROWN, of Forward Township, Butler County, was born in the year 1798, in the county of Derry, Ireland. Her parents, James MARSHALL and Jane (or Jean) PEEBLES, came to America in the year 1821; and, after a brief residence in Pittsburgh, removed to Middlesex Township, Butler County, where they purchased a large tract of wild land, which they subsequently, by careful improvement, converted into a homestead of uncommon beauty and excellence. Mrs. MARSHALL (nee PEEBLES) was the only child of a country gentleman who resided near Londonderry. James and Jane MARSHALL were both endowed with more than ordinary mental power. Careful training and a liberal education, combined with noble traits of character, made them deservedly conspicuous in their wilderness home. They both lived more than fourscore years, respected and honored by all who had been priviledged to know them. Of their large family of eight sons and three daughters, one son died in his boyhood; the others reached maturity, and all of them possessed talents of a high order. Of the sons, Judge Samuel MARSHALL (of Butler County), James MARSHALL (merchant, manufacturer and banker), A.M. MARSHALL (merchant and manufacturer), and Hon. Thomas M. MARSHALL (lawyer, of Pittsburgh, are well known and distinguished names. David MARSHALL, Esq., one of their sons, resides at Prospect. The eldest daughter, Mary, married Joseph BROWN, a son of Adam BROWN, of Big Springs, near Newville, Cumberland County, Penn., who removed to Butler County about the year 1810, and became the owner of large tracts of land, and erected mills near the present village of Brownsdale. The elder Brown died, leaving his widow and minor children in possession of his large estate. Joseph, having arrived at legal age, was allotted a tract of land as his share of his father's property. It was, however, an unbroken wilderness. He and Mary MARSHALL were married in 1824. Both were young, strong and hopeful. They erected a comfortable log house upon their land, and commenced the hard work of making a farm and creating a home. By well-directed energy, industry and skill, the tract of land was improved and converted into a beautiful farm. Other lands were acquired and improved, and now (1882), standing in the shadow of the original log cabin (still preserved) and looking out in all directions upon the picturesque landscape and fair improvements, in the possession of the aged father and pioneer and his children, we are hardly able to realize that so wondrous a change has been wrought within a single lifetime. This homestead is at Brownsdale, about eight miles south of Butler, near the Marshall homestead, and in a fertile and beautiful region.

Joseph and Mary BROWN have five living children, namely, Mrs. David DOUTHETT, William M. BROWN, and Mrs. D.B. DOUTHETT, of Brownsdale, and Mrs. Gen. William BLAKELY and A.M. BROWN, of Pittsburgh. Several of their children died in infancy. Joseph BROWN, now over eighty-two years of age, still survives. Mary BROWN died April 4, 1877, at the age of seventy-nine, beloved and honored by all her friends and acquaintances. Distinguished for her cultured intellectual power, her womanly graces, her conspicuous but modest Christian life and character, and her self-sacrificing devotion to the interests and welfare of those she loved,

"None knew her but to love her,
  Nor named her but to praise."
She had been from her youth a consistent member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, but, with the union of kindred churches, became a member of the United Presbyterian Church, and her life to its end was a light and landmark of her faith and virtues. Of simple but graceful manners, a lover of the beautiful, the good, and the true, she was an example of all that is Christian in life and hope, in charity and thought, ready for every good work, herself an illustration of all she taught. No words can describe the gloom and sorrow which her death cast over her mourning relatives, friends and neighbors, who in great multitude gathered at her funeral and tenderly laid her beneath the shadow of the trees, in the little cemetery at Brownsdale, beside the church wherein she loved to worship, and near the "old home" in whose treasury of love she had ever been the brightest jewel. Serenely and trustfully she passed from life, in the firm faith of a blessed immortality beyond the grave.

[End of Chapter 24--Forward 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 23--Cranberry Township
Chapter 25--Middlesex Township
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage

Edited 21 Feb 2000, 18:46