History of Butler County Pennsylvania - 1883

Chapter 25 -- Middlesex Township

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Transcribed by Lynn Beatty. For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.


SURNAMES APPEARING IN THIS CHAPTER

ALLINGHAM, BAILEY, BAKER, BARCLAY, BARTLEY, BLACK, BOYD, BRACKEN, BRITTAIN, BROWN, BRUCE, CAMPBELL, CASE, CHANTLER, CLENDENNING, COCHRAN, COLLINS, COOPER, COWAN, CRAWFORD, CRISWELL, CROOKS, CRUMMIE, CUNNINGHAM, DANKS, DAVID, DAVIS, DAVIZ, DEARY, DEMPSEY, DENNY, DICKSON, DONALDSON, DUFF, DUNCAN, DUNN, FLICK, FORSYTHE, FRANCE, FRAZIER, FRYER, FULTON, GALBRAITH, GILLILAND, GOLD, GRAHAM, HALL, HARBISON, HAYS, HICKEY, HULTZ, JOHNSON, KERR, LEFEVRE, LESLIE, LOGAN, LYON, MADDEN, MARTIN, MCBRIDE, MCCAIN, MCCANDLESS, MCCOLLUM, MCCORNISH, MCGILL, MCLURE, MCNEAL, MILLER, MONKS, MOORHEAD, MOSER, NELSON, OGDEN, OLIVER, PARK, PARKS, PIERCE, POWELL, PURVIS, RAMSEY, RIPPEY, RIPPY, RUNDEL, STAR, STARR, STEWART, SUTTON, TAR, TAYLOR, THOMPSON, TRIMBLE, WALLACE, WATTS, WELSH, WHITE, WIGFIELD, WILSON, WOODCOCK


CHAPTER XXV

MIDDLESEX

[p. 241]
ADVENTURERS IN THE TOWNSHIP IN 1793 -- THEY BECOME SETTLERS LATER -- JAMES HARBISON, MATTHEW WIGFIELD, GEORGE HAYS AND OTHER PIONEERS -- THE ITINERANT TAILOR -- FLOOD OF 1838 -- JAMES PARKS, JOSEPH FLICK, JAMES FULTON, SAMUEL RIPPY, JOSEPH AND THOMAS LOGAN -- FIRST SCHOOL -- DR. MCBRIDE -- CHURCHES -- GLADE MILLS and COOPERTOWN

Middlesex Township, in the southern part of the county, contains many handsome farms and beautiful residences. Although the surface is uneven and diversified by many elevations, dingles and dells, the soil is uniformly fertile and in a high state of cultivation. The large commodious barns and outhouses, the well-fenced farms and the superb specimens of stock -- horses, cattle, sheep, etc. -- speak of thrift, intelligence and unflinching industry. The township includes quite a large population, representatives of various nationalities. It contains six schools, each having an average attendance of fifty-five pupils, three churches, Presbyterian, United Presbyterian and Methodist, four stores, one hotel until recently, a large flouring-mill and a post office. The inhabitants of this township are, as a whole, in good circumstances financially, and their condition of life at the present tells the story of past thrift and providence.

Early Settlements and Settlers

One is apt to forget the fact that less than a century ago, this, with other portions of the county, was naught but a wilderness -- dense forests of trees and tangled glades covering the surface and infested with wild animals. Let us wander back in imagination through the vista of past years, and learn something of the pioneer life of ancestors of many of the present inhabitants of this township.

Close research develops the fact that among the first "pale-faces" who came into that portion of Butler County now Middlesex Township, were James HARBISON, Abram FRYER, James HALL and William HULTZ. They were hunters, and came from east of the Alleghanies [sic] to view the country and in search of game, in the year of 1793. The simple record is that they crossed the ice below Tarentum, at "LOGAN's Ferry". They cut their names on several large oaks that they might remember the place when they should return one year later. The evening of their arrival was on the 10th of January, and on the same night they made their beds in the snow, which was one foot in depth, and there they rested during the night. It can be easily imagined how their sleep was broken frequently by the barking of wolves near. The following day, the 11th, they returned to their former homes. One year later, the whole party came back to [p. 242] the same place and built cabins, that they might hold certain claims of territory, and, in 1795, they settled permanently upon them.

James HARBISON was from east of the Allegheny [sic] Mountains. When he emigrated to Middlesex Township he was twenty-four years old. He married Mary BROWN, in the year 1797, and had nine children -- Mathew, George, James, John, William, Robert, Thompson, Mary and Margaret. At the present time, James, Robert and Thompson are living in the township and have families. James is aged seventy-eight; Robert, seventy-one; Thompson, sixty. Mary married David MOORHEAD, and is living in Buffalo Township. Margaret married John COWAN, at present residing in Manchester, Allegheny County. John S. HARBISON, son of Thompson and grandson of James HARBISON, married Clara NELSON, and is following the occupation of farming in this township.

George HAYS, according to the positive statements of his descendants, was a settler in this township in 1793. He must have been the first actual resident. The place of his location was the farm now owned by W. HICKEY. He was of Welsh extraction, born and reared near Philadelphia. His wife was Sally MCCORNISH. They remained in the township until their deaths, which occurred, respectively, about the years 1837 and 1840. They had a large family. The eldest was John. He became a resident of Butler Village in 1803, and followed cabinet-making. In 1809, he removed to Pittsburgh, where he remained until 1818. At that time, he returned to Butler County and settled upon the farm in Middlesex, now owned by his son George W. HAYS, the County Commissioner, and there lived until his death. A brother, William, is still living in the township. All of the others -- David George, James, Nancy, (DEARY), Ann (FULTON), Jane (FULTON) and Sally (TAYLOR) -- are deceased.

Thomas MARTIN, a native of Ireland, served in the American army all through the Revolutionary war, and after its close, settled about seven miles from Pittsburgh. About the year 1793, he came to Middlesex Township with his family, and began to make a home in the then almost unbroken wilds of this part of the State. After a short residence here, the family were driven away by the Indians and took refuge in a block-house where Allegheny City now is. The troubles being over, the family returned and resided in this township. Mr. MARTIN died in Jefferson Township. His children were Richard, James, Alexander, William, John, Mary and Jane. Richard, James and Alexander settled and reared families in this county. William and John went to Ohio. William lived and died in the vicinity of Cincinnati. John settled in Columbiana County, Ohio, and became a Representative and a State Senator. All of the sons were in the war of 1812. Mary married William HARBISON, and lived in Butler County. Jane married John MADDEN, and died in Ohio.

Silas MILLER, a native of Eastern Pennsylvania, or of New Jersey, was born in 1752. In 1787, he removed to Westmoreland County, and was for a time employed along with others in protecting the settlements against the Indians. He settled in Middlesex Township in 1794, and followed hunting, trapping and farming. In 1831, he fell from the roof of a burning stable, and died from the injuries then received. His eight children were Robert, Silas, Joseph and James; Margaret, Martha, Jane and Nancy. Joseph MILLER passed his days entirely in this State. He came to Butler County when four years of age. In 1813, he volunteered for the defense of Fort Erie. His family of thirteen children are all living, except the second and the twelfth. Their names are Jesse E., Jacob R., Mary A., Sarah J., Nancy, Margaret, Silas, Joseph, Eliza, John R., James, Adam and Ezekial D. Joseph MILLER, Sr., died in 1877, in his eigthy-eighth [sic] year; he was a farmer and a carpenter, besides being a skillful hunter. His son, Jesse E., reared a family of fifteen children -- eight daughters and seven sons.

Matthew WIGFIELD emigrated to Butler County and located in this township in the year 1796. He came from Maryland, was married to Mary Ann WILSON, September 29, 1785. His wife was born in Ireland, but came to America when six years of age. As the issue of this alliance there were nine children, viz., Jane, Nancy, Elizabeth, Mary, John, Rachel, Margaret, Wilson and Sarah Ann. Jane married Samuel OLIVER, and removed to the State of Indiana. Nancy married the Rev. James WATTS, a Methodist minister, and lived in Virginia in a village called Hedgeville, Berkeley County. Elizabeth was married to James CUNNINGHAM, and resided in Penn Township, where Mrs. C. died but a few years since. Mary married Charles BAKER and lived in this township for several years.

Charles BAKER was an itinerant tailor and traveled around among the people, not only through this country, but as far as Pittsburgh, making and mending wearing apparel, which was simple and not by any means costly.

Pack-saddles were used to transport goods from place to place, and on one of these Mr. BAKER would convey his baggage and utensils to whatever places he was going, frequently stopping at one place for a whole week at a time. To vary the monotony of his life, he sometimes gathered together a few scholars and played the role of school teacher. John BAKER [1] died unmarried. When fifteen years old, he was stung in the eyes by yellow jackets, the consequence [p. 243] of which was the total loss of his eyesight. Rachel BAKER [1] married James BAKER, and moved to a point which is now known as Bakertown [sic (Bakerstown)]. Margaret never married and died at the age of fifty. Wilson married Mary MOSER, and, after the death of her first husband, she subsequently married a gentleman named CASE. Sarah Ann, the youngest child, married Robert GRAHAM, then of Butler, brother of the venerable John GRAHAM, at present living in the borough of Butler.

The grandson, John BAKER, who is living in close proximity to the old homestead, enjoys a great pleasure and satisfaction in exploring old family records of these early ancestors, and in relating interesting incidents connected with their lives, which were certainly rich with varied experiences. Mathew WIGFIELD died in October, 1816, aged fifty-nine years. Mary Ann, his wife, survived him until 1855, when she died, aged ninety-five years.

Thomas BAKER emigrated from Nova Scotia, and settled in the southern part of Middlesex Township about the year 1798, and lived and died upon the farm which he took up. The names of his children were as follows: Hans, Charles, John, Edward, James, Joseph, Nancy (CRUMMIE), Sally (BRITTAIN) and Betsey. Of these, Betsey, Hans, John and Joseph. [sic] James settled in Alleghany [sic] County, but died in Butler County in 1832. Hans, John and Joseph lived and died in this county. Hans and Joseph both died in 1881, the former at the age of eight-five years.

John BARTLEY and his son James, with their families, emigrated from Ireland and settled in Allegheny County in 1803. About 1812, they came to Butler County, and located upon a farm in the northern part of Middlesex Township, where they passed the remainder of their days. James BARTLEY was a soldier of 1812, and served about nine months. He died in 1852, at the age of seventy-seven. His children are William, deceased; John, Allegheny County; Thomas, deceased; James, Middlesex Township; Robert, deceased; Joseph, deceased; David, Clay Township; Campbell, Middlesex; Dickson, Allegheny City; Williamson, Penn Township; Mary Ann (PIERCE), Allegheny City; and Washington, Allegheny County.

The 17th day of June, in the year 1838, is distinctly remembered by many persons today on account of the heavy storm which occurred at that time, especially in the southern part of the county. On that day, Wilson WIGFIELD started with a load of logs to the saw-mill, where FRAZIER's flouring-mill now stands, about two and one-half or three miles from his home. He was cautioned not to make the trip at that particular time, as there was a thunder storm evidently approaching. Not heeding the timely advice, he proceeded on his journey, hoping to get to the mill before the rain began to fall. Before reaching his destination, the wind began to blow terrifically, and the rain poured down in torrents. The run which he was compelled to cross on other occasions in getting to the mill rose very rapidly, and in a miraculously short time it had swollen to immense proportions. In this condition, Mr. WIGFIELD attempted to cross it, but the desperate act carried horses, wagon and himself down the violent and rapid current. After floating down the stream a distance of forty rods, he grasped the limb of a white thorn tree, which was almost enveloped by the water, and climbed into its branches, where he was compelled to remain for hours, until the storm had abated and the water fallen. His cries then brought the neighbors to his rescue. His face and hands were terribly lacerated with the thorns and sharp limbs, and being almost submerged in water for several hours, his health suffered in consequence, from which he never entirely recovered. The horses were rescued, but were badly injured.

In 1798, Mr. James PARKS identified himself with the early history of this county, and especially of this township. He came with a family of ten children, seven boys and three girls. John was the oldest, aged twenty-one, and William was the youngest, aged seven years. William PARKS married Hannah RUNDEL, who was reared about twelve miles northwest of Pittsburgh. They are both living two miles west of Glade Mill, in good health. Mr. PARKS is ninety- two years old at the present writing, and, though entirely blind and partially deaf, his ordinary health is vigorous and he retains his mental facilities unimpaired.

Mr. William PARK, it is said, was always known to be a good man and was an important factor in the early settlement of this township -- a good farmer and true friend. Mr. PARK said to the writer, when interviewing him on the industries of that part of Butler County in which he settled: "I have the pleasure of saying that I built the first brick chimney that was seen in this part of the county. Archie McGILL built the first frame house and barn," and, he added further, "from 1798 and later, to 1824, folks lived in very small log huts, with greased paper for windows. The food of the early settlers for several years was deer meat, honey and hominy. The corn meal then used was ground by hand-mills. Horse-mills shortly after superseded these. Wheat was sparsely raised. It was prepared for food simply by boiling and eating it with milk."

Joseph FLICK came from Westmoreland County to this place in 1798. He was born in the year 1790, in Berks County, Penn.; was married in 1813, to Elizabeth TAR, and had seven children, viz., Jacob, John, Abram and Joseph; Katie and Annie, twins. All [p. 244] are still living, except Abram. The nephew of Joseph FLICK and son of Jacob is a carpenter working in this township, He was in the war of the rebellion, and belonged to Company A, Sixth Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery.

James FULTON was a noted hunter. In 1793, he found himself penetrating the deep wilderness of what is now this flourishing township. He was born in Ireland, emigrated to Butler County in the year mentioned above, married a Miss Nancy THOMPSON, of Westmoreland County, and had nine children -- John, Samuel, James, Jesse, Robert and William (twins), Polly, Eliza and Nancy. James FULTON was a man of indomitable energy and industrious habits. His death occurred in 1823. The circumstances of his death are peculiar and are still fresh in the minds of many of the older citizens of Middlesex to-day. In by-gone days, it was the invariable custom for farmers to supply harvest hands with good liquor. One morning during harvest, Mr. FULTON started, before breakfast, for Oliver DAVID's distillery, which was one mile north of Glade Mill and five miles from his farm. He arrived there, procured his liquor and was returning home, when, as it was supposed, he was seized with an epileptic fit, to which he was subject; knowing that it was coming upon him, he dismounted, tied his horse to the fence, sat down and there died. In that position he was found about 9 o'clock by James COCHRAN. He was said to be a decided genius, and exhibited this natural ability by frequently inventing some piece of machinery or making some contrivance useful to the people at that day. He once attempted to accomplish perpetual motion, and for weary months and even years, he thought and planned and schemed, until, perplexed beyond endurance, he finally abandoned the project as an impossibility. John FULTON became a wheelwright, having learned his trade with James HARBISON in 1804. He died in 1856. Samuel pursued farming until drafted into the army, during the war of 1812. James learned and followed cabinet making, but devoted his whole time to undertaking, for many years supplying coffins, when needed, to the whole neighborhood for ten and fifteen miles around. In 1822, he erected the first carding machine ever seen in this part of the county. It was propelled by horsepower. For a dozen miles around, people brought their wool here to be converted into rolls. Robert and William located in Westmoreland County, where they devoted their time to agriculture until their death. Jessie remained in Middlesex. Polly married William CLENDENNING and went to Allegheny County to reside. Eliza was united in marriage to Samuel LOGAN, son of James LOGAN, then of Allegheny County. They removed to the State of Ohio, where they spent the remainder of their days. Nancy died in her infancy.

Samuel RIPPEY came from Shippensburg, Penn., and, in 1798, was appointed Justice of the Peace by Gov. McCAIN. He was regarded as a marvel of legal lore.

Joseph LOGAN emigrated from Ireland, County Tyrone to Lancaster, Penn., in 1794, and made a settlement in this township, on what is now the Erastus LOGAN farm, in the fall of 1798. He was married and had three children -- Nancy, who married William DICKSON, and removed to Philadelphia; Mary, who married John WELSH, and moved to Pittsburgh, where he reared his family, and David, who married Elizabeth DAVIS. John, Elizabeth, Levi, Joseph, Belle and Barbara were the offspring of this union. John died in his infancy. Elizabeth married Samuel PURVIS, who was reared in Susquehanna County, and afterward moved to Butler Borough, where he followed the vocation of a carpenter. Levi married Mary DAVIZ [sic]. Joseph married Margaret MCCANDLESS, of this county. Belle married William PURVIS, who also came from Susquehanna County. Barbara married Jesse SUTTON, and removed to Allegheny City.

Thomas LOGAN, the great-grandfather of the last-named children, came to America eight years after Joseph's settlement, with his son William, who was elected First Lieutenant of a militia company during the war of 1812. As has been already stated, during the early experience of the worthy pioneers of this township, many were the privations and hardships they were called upon to endure. William LOGAN, for example, worked in Pittsburgh, and at the close of each week he walked home, carrying a sack of corn meal and a few other articles much needed by his family. He, like many others, was compelled, also, to go to Greensburg to have blacksmithing done. An incident occurred during the time Mr. LOGAN was drilling a military company, which is well worth recording. A great many Irishmen were members of the company, and when going through the manual of arms, they found it extremely difficult to be accurate and mindful. Their particular trouble was that they could not keep time -- could not distinguish between right and left. When the commander called out "Right", they would almost invariably put forward their left foot. Mr. LOGAN's patience being sorely tried, he finally hit on this happy plan: He procured some hay and straw; on the right foot he put the hay, and on the left the straw. Instead, then, of saying, "right, right, left, left," he called out "hay foot," "straw foot". They soon became accustomed to this, and never again had the same trouble and annoyance of distinguishing between right and left foot. The [p. 245] expression "hay foot," "straw foot" originated with Lieut. LOGAN.

THE FIRST SCHOOL

The first schoolhouse built in Middlesex Township was constructed of unhewn logs and was erected on the farm of Thomas DENNY, now owned by his grandson, Thomas DENNY, in 1796. The house was certainly a rude affair, with rough pieces of timber laid lengthwise for a floor and the interstices plastered with mud. Instead of the modern style of windows, it had four square openings cut out, two on either side, over which greased paper was hung. The teacher was William POWELL, born in Pennsylvania, and was sixty years of age when he organized the first school ever held in this township. His manner was said to be quaint and many pleasing accounts are given of the wonderful dignity he assumed before his unlettered pupils, when teaching the mysteries of the alphabet and the elementary rules of arithmetic. Yet withal his quaintness and eccentricity of demeanor many living to-day cheerfully admit that they are indebted to this old gentleman for many thorough and valuable lessons in their rudimentary education.

In the year 1799, James MCCOLLUM reared a rude structure for the purpose of dealing in those articles of merchandise most urgently needed by the inhabitants of the country within due bounds. We couldn't with strict propriety use the phrase "mercantile establishment," with reference to this enterprise, yet it was the first store. The articles kept for sale were principally powder, lead and coffee.

In the year 1800, we find one James MCBRIDE, from the eastern part of the State, rendering valuable assistance to the early settlers of Middlesex, and, in fact, to many others within a radius of twenty miles, by "setting bones," "bleeding," "administering physic," etc. An old resident says of him: "We always looked upon him as an angel of mercy."

William MARTIN was from Scotland and settled here in 1796. His object was to plant a colony and to rapidly make an extensive settlement. He built "land jobbers" cabins in various parts of the township, then a howling wilderness. Being a man of energy, industry and influence, he did much toward clearing out the forests and inducing immigration.

LATER SETTLEMENT

Robert TRIMBLE resides on a well-cultivated farm in the southern part of this district. He was born in 1829, on the 12th of March, and has an interesting family of seven children. His grandfather, Thomas TRIMBLE, was born in Ireland and emigrated to this country in 1790; but did not locate in this township until 1807. He had five children -- one son and four daughters, viz., Mary, Margaret, Satia, Nancy and Samuel. Thomas TRIMBLE died in 1837.

James GOLD was born in Ireland, and came to this country when five years of age, settling in this part of the county in the month of May, 1818. His son, Adam H. GOLD, was born in 1820, September 27. He owns and cultivates the same farm which his father cleared and tilled for many years.

James and Margaret CAMPBELL, both originally from the North of Ireland, settled here in 1828, and ended their days on the farm where they first located. They settled in Chester County in 1801, and their son James, when they decided to remove to Butler, came out in 1827, and built a log house for their occupancy. James removed to Butler Borough in 1841, and followed the mercantile business until 1865.

Mr. James WILSON located on a farm in the western part of the township in 1851. He has relatives living in the vicinity of Mt. Chestnut, this county. His partner in life was Miss Sarah GILLILAND, whose parent were among the early settlers of this county.

Robert BLACK moved from Butler Township to Middlesex, and located in 1865, on the farm known as the Wilson WIGFIELD farm. This farm contains 100 acres of very productive land. Since 1865, many improvements have been made. A new and commodious barn has taken the place of the old one, the dwelling-house has been reconstructed, and many other desirable changes have been made which indicate growing prosperity. Mr. BLACK was born in Ireland, but emigrated with his father and mother to America when he was but a small boy. He spent several years of his early life with Mrs. COLLINS, who then owned immense tracts of land both in Allegheny and Butler Counties. Mrs. COLLINS resided near Pittsburgh, and, being a very amiable and distinguished lady, she frequently entertained many guests at her residence, amongst them Judge MCLURE and family. Robert BLACK was quite a favorite among these notables and frequently was made the recipient of numerous presents as a token of their appreciation of his services and fidelity to duty. He married a very worthy young lady living with Mrs. COLLINS, named Margaret ALLINGHAM, who was born in Ireland. After living a short time in Pittsburgh, Mr. BLACK removed to Butler Township and commenced the business of farming. They reared a family of five children, four of whom are living, viz., Mary, Martha, Robert and Jennie.

In 1879, Mr. J. H. STAR purchased the farm formerly owned by William CAMPBELL, near Glade Mill, and now resides upon it.

GLADE RUN U. P. [UNITED PRESBYTERIAN] CHURCH

This church edifice is located about the center of [p. 246] the township. About 1817, the members of this denomination met and worshiped [sic] in schoolhouses and often in "God's first temples." There was no regular preaching and the congregation was visited by supplies. Revs. BRUCE, RAMSEY and DUNN, from Pittsburgh, alternated. The congregation was very desirous of having a house of worship of its own, and commenced to build a log church in 1818. Before it was completed, however, it was destroyed by fire. One year afterward, another building was commenced and finished. Its dimensions were 24x20 feet. Rev. FRANCE, born in Scotland, was the first stated minister. He was ordained in the year 1819, the membership at that time being over 100. At the first communion held by Rev. FRANCE, twenty-eight were added to the church by "confession of their faith". The Elders of the church were Messrs. Andrew DUNCAN, John CRAWFORD, William CRISWELL, George WALLACE, David PARK, Barney GILLILAND, Joseph LOGAN, William DICKSON, Samuel GALBRAITH, John DONALDSON and Robert DUFF. The salary promised Rev. FRANCE by his congregation was $400, but he was paid principally in produce, such as apple butter, dried apples, meat, butter, etc. It is said that he was willing to take anything offered him.

Rev. FRANCE was married twice. His first wife was a Scotch woman, intelligent, pious and benevolent; she was well adapted for a minister's wife and for ten years they lived supremely happy, when death, which always loves a shining mark, claimed her as his own. She was buried in Middlesex Graveyard.

Rev. FRANCE ministered to this congregation for twenty-four years, when he removed to Ohio, where he died. His second wife survived him several years. His children by his first wife were three sons -- James, John and Oglebee. James read medicine and still practices in the State of Ohio. Oglebee was a railroad clerk in Pittsburgh until his death, which occurred not long since. Rev. FRANCE was eighty years old at the time of his death.

MIDDLESEX M. E. [METHODIST EPISCOPAL] CHURCH

This society was organized in 1870 with only eight members. Before a church edifice was provided, divine service was held in Sandy Hill and CUNNINGHAM Schoolhouses. The present building is a fine frame structure and was built in 1872, having a seating capacity of 300. The first stated pastor was Col. DANKS, who labored among his people with great acceptance, and under his ministration the church was built up numerically. During the first revival, fifty-two persons were taken into membership.

The first Trustees of the M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church elected by the congregation were Wendel HICKEY, Levi LEFEVRE, Absalom MONKS, Thomas STEWART and Thomas CHANTLER. The Stewards of the church were Alex LESLIE and Thomas STEWART. Rev. DEMPSEY was the Presiding Elder on the circuit. This is the history from the time of the organization of the church. However, we find that persons holding to the tenets of the M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church with others not of that creed, met every Sabbath successively for divine worship at the house of Mathew WIGFIELD, and continued holding these voluntary union meetings for over half a century, dating back to 1799.

MIDDLESEX PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

Owing to the scanty material at hand for making up the early history of this church, the following sketch is not as full and perfect as is desirable. Of the time of its organization, or even of the fact of there having been any formal organization, at any time, there is no record. It is certain that the ground on which the church now stands was occupied as a place of preaching as early as the beginning of the present century. The place then, an unbroken, seems to have been selected as a point around which the people gathered and listened to the preaching of the Gospel, sitting under the grand old oaks -- their only protection from sun and rain. Meeting habitually for worship under these circumstances and for some time, the congregation grew into general recognition, and took the name of Middlesex, from the township in which it was located. The first man known to have preached the Gospel on the ground now occupied by the church was Rev. Abraham BOYD. Mr. BOYD was licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of Ohio, on the 25th day of June, A.D. 1800. He immediately commenced preaching in the place standing on a made platform, with his audience before him seated on logs or on the ground. On the 17th day of June, 1802, Mr. BOYD was ordained to the full work of the church and installed pastor of the Middlesex Church, by the Presbytery of Erie, which at that time included all of Butler County within its bounds.

The original members of the session of the church were Hugh GILLILAND, William JOHNSON and Robert MCCANDLESS. From time to time additional Ruling Elders have been elected and ordained as office-bearers in the church to the number of twenty in all. Mr. BOYD was pastor of the church fifteen years. He was succeeded in the pastorate by Rev. Reid BRACKEN, who was installed as pastor of this church September 28, 1820. He continued its pastor twelve years. The Rev. J. Watson JOHNSON succeeded in the pastorate in the year 1838, but continued in it two or three years only. Next in the succession of pastors was the Rev. Thomas W. KERR, who was installed by the Presbytery of Allegheny in the fall of 1840. He continued [p. 247] to fill the pastoral office in this church until the day of his death, which occurred October 29, 1847. His successor, Rev. E. OGDEN, was ordained and installed pastor of the church by the Presbytery of Allegheny November 14, 1848, and remains its pastor to the present time. The first house of worship erected for the use of the congregation was of round logs and was built A.D. 1803. This house served them for about fourteen years, when it gave place to another and larger one, though made of the same material. The logs of this house, however, were hewn and square, and the building covered with shingles. It stood and was occupied as a house of worship until the year 1842, when the house now occupied by the congregation was built. It stands precisely on the ground where the first edifice stood, and its walls of brick remain as strong and substantial as when first reared.

GLADE MILL

This little village in the western part of Middlesex Township derived its name from the fact that a flouring-mill was built on its present site. John WOODCOCK erected the first grist-mill in this place in 1799. It was run by water. The building and machinery has been remodeled since then half a dozen times. There is something like a dozen families in Glade Mill. It contains a store, post office, blacksmith and wagon shop. It is just ten miles from Butler.

THE OLD "TAVERN STAND"

A short distance north of Glade Mill is a farm now owned by Mrs. Hannah BAILEY, widow of Thomas BAILEY. It is the place formerly known as the William CROOKS farm, who purchased it from Oliver DAVID for the small sum of $5 per acre. CROOKS "kept tavern" here from 1830 to 1861. It was the general stopping-place for teamsters who made semi-weekly trips to Pittsburgh from Butler and elsewhere.

In close proximity to the above farm, Oliver DAVID, who was well known by every individual probably in this county as a man of energy and great business tact, lived and carried on the business of tanning and distilling. His father resided on the farm adjoining this one eighty years ago, and was engaged in the same business. At present Mr. J. A. FORSYTHE is living on the former place.

COOPERTOWN

Coopertown [sic (Cooperstown)] is the name of a small hamlet in this township, and is about one mile south of Glade Mill. It contains about one dozen families, two or three of whom are well versed in the history of this township, having been among the early settlers. The place derives its name from one of its citizens, Mr. George COOPER, who kept the first hotel in it. He is quite an aged man now, but still works at his trade of blacksmithing. Coopertown contains a store, a wagon and smith shop and a shoe shop.

JUSTICES OF THE PEACE

1840, James FULTON, Robert BROWN; 1845, William CUNNINGHAM, James FULTON; 1850, Johnston WHITE, William CUNNINGHAM; 1855, William CUNNINGHAM, Samuel MCNEAL; 1860, George HAYS, William CUNNINGHAM; 1865. Andrew BARCLAY, George W. HAYS; 1869, Robert TRIMBLE; 1870, Johnston WHITE, 1874, Robert TRIMBLE; 1877, T. H. LYON; 1879, Robert TRIMBLE; 1881, J. H. STARR.

[End of Chapter 25--Middlesex Township: History of Butler County, Pennsylvania. With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Waterman, Watkins, & Co., Chicago, 1883.]


Footnotes:

[1] The surname BAKER for John and Rachel appears to be a typo by the original author or the printer for WIGFIELD. Compare the names here (John, Rachel, Margaret, Wilson, Sarah Ann) with the end of the list of Matthew Wigfield's children two paragraphs prior to this paragraph. Thanks to Ann Lyle for pointing this out.

Chapter 24--Forward Township
Chapter 26--Clinton Township
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage

Edited 17 Apr 2000, 09:40