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History of Butler County Pennsylvania - 1883

Chapter 27 -- Buffalo Township

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



Illustrations And Biographies In Chapter XXVII

p.254a-- Residence, A.D. Weir
p.256a-- Josiah Watt, Joseph Logan,
Joseph Porter, Jos. Graham

p.262 -- Josiah Watt Bio
p.262a-- Alex. & Mrs. Welsh,
Welsh Residence;
Residence George Graham



[p. 254]

Before the re-organization of townships in 1854, Buffalo was one of the largest townships in the county, being near nine miles in length and eight in width, and including potions of the present townships of Clinton, Jefferson and Winfield. In this chapter will be treated only that portion of the county now known as Buffalo Township.

Buffalo is situated in the southeastern corner of Butler County, and is bounded thus: On the north, by Winfield Township; on the east, by Armstrong County; on the south, by Allegheny County; and on the west, by Clinton Township. It is a thriving agricultural region, in which the marks of improvement are very conspicuous. The soil is of average fertility, well adapted to the production of grass, grain and fruit. Clayey loam predominates, but, near the streams, some portions are sandy. The surface is diversified by two principal water-courses -- Little Buffalo Creek and Big Buffalo -- which, with numerous small tributaries, drain almost the entire territory of the township. The valleys of the streams are generally deep and narrow, with rocky banks, upon which man's labor has not yet essayed to remove the wild impresss of nature. The contour of the country is hilly and broken.

No part of Butler County has more picturesque natural beauty than Buffalo Township. The Little Buffalo, or rather that branch of this stream known as Smith's Creek, enters the township from the north, and, flowing southerly, is joined near Sarversville by Sarver's Branch from the northwest. The traveler following either of these streams downward will observe that his surroundings constantly grow wilder as he descends; while from their junction the Little Buffalo, as it winds its hasty course through its rocky barriers, becomes grandly impressive from the beauty of its environments. The creek bends gradually eastward, and about a mile from the county line joins the Big Buffalo. The latter stream enter this county from Armstrong, very near the northeastern corner of Buffalo Township, and emerges about midway of the line separating this township from Armstrong County. Many hemlock and pine trees derive support from the scanty soil of the banks of these creeks, and their dark green foliage adds beauty and attractiveness to the lovely scenery. The gore of land between the two Buffalos, especially its northern portion, contains a number of round-topped, mound-shaped hills some of them being of a sufficient height to command a view of a large expanse of country. He who climbs them may read from nature's own book and feast his sight upon pictures of surpassing loveliness.

The Butler Branch Railroad passes through this township, following the winding course of the Little Buffalo through a most picturesque region.

There have been no oil developments in this township. Coal has been mined on a small scale for some years.


Buffalo Township is among the oldest settlements in the county. When emigration from the eastern part of the State to the land northwest of the Allegheny [p.255] River began, very naturally the settlers fixed upon locations near the river, and by degrees, worked further inland. Of course there were some exceptions to this rule, but not many. Buffalo Township, being near the river, and also adjacent to the early settlement at Freeport, therefore came to be populated some years before the wilds of other parts of the county had been penetrated by the adventurous pioneer. Here, as elsewhere in this part of the county, the first settlers were Scotch-Irish, many of whom had resided in Westmoreland County before coming hither. The southern part of the township, being heavily timbered, was considered the most desirable land for settlement, and was therefore the first taken up and improved. We note one exception -- the BELL settlement, in the northern part of the township, near the Winfield line. But as nearly all of the high land in the northern half of the township was covered with glades, and on that account deemed almost worthless, few early comers sought to make their homes upon it. Although there were several families in the township before the beginning of the present century, the march of improvement was very slow, as the condition of their surroundings was not such as to stimulate the pioneers to perform more labor than was essential for procuring the bare necessities of life. The growth of population, too, was exceedingly slow. But gradually the primitive methods of living, satisfied with little, gave place to a more ambitious and enterprising spirit, and, during the last forty years, the growth and development of this township has been rapid, compared with the preceding period. Buffalo is wide-awake and progressive to-day, and its people are not slow to avail themselves of opportunities for increasing the value of their property and constantly carrying forward, the work of improvement.

This part of the county must have been a favorite resort for the Indians. Its numerous streams, its nearness to the river, and its glades, combined to make it so.

But, after the whites became permanently established here, the savages made their visits less and less frequent, and in a few years, discontinued them altogether.

Permanent settlers who came within present limits of this township previous to 1800 were the BELLs, ELLIOTTs, SARVERs, HARBISONs, FLEMINGs and others. There were several "squatters" whose stays were more or less transitory, some of whom will be mentioned in the sketch that follows.

At this late date, it is almost impossible to state absolutely who should receive the credit of making the first clearing and building the first cabin in the township. However, there is evidence that points pretty clearly, to George BELL as the first actual settler. His farm was east of the Little Buffalo, in the extreme northern part of the township. A beautiful round-topped elevation, among the highest land in the township, known as "Bell's Knob", and a stream known as Bell's Run, serve to perpetuate his name, though the man himself is now remembered by but few. After some years' residence in this township, BELL removed to Allegheny County, and, later, to Armstrong County, where he died. He had no sons so far as we can learn, and only two daughters -- Mrs. KELLY and Mrs. SMITH. His farm eventually came into the hands of Dr. Joseph CALDWELL, who lived upon it and practiced medicine here several years. BELL settled in this township as early as 1795, and he may have been here earlier.

Robert ELLIOTT was a native of County Antrim, Ireland. When eight years of age, he came to this country, and lived for some years before coming to this county in Westmoreland. In 1795, he came to the western part of Buffalo Township as it now is, and selected a spot for a farm, built a cabin and removed his family to it in the spring of 1796. He was fortunate in his selection of land, as the beautiful farms in the ELLIOTT neighborhood now attest. The Indians had not yet entirely left the country, but they gave his family no trouble. Robert ELLIOTT lived to the age of eighty-four. Of his children, but one survives -- James, the youngest. He was born in 1806, and is now the oldest resident of the township. His nephew, John M., born in 1811, is the next oldest resident. The sons of Robert ELLIOTT were John, William R., Samuel and James; his daughters were Mary, Rebecca, Martha, Jane and Elizabeth. John was accidentally killed when a boy, at school, by a limb torn off a tree during a gale. Samuel died in 1827. William R. was six months in the war of 1812. He died in 1869, at the age of eighty-two. He was an early Justice of the Peace in this township. His wife was Sarah MONTGOMERY, who bore nine children, eight of whom are living, five being residents of this township.

Probably the first orchard in the township was planted by Robert ELLIOTT, who brought his trees from Westmoreland County. Samuel ELLIOTT built the first brick house in the township -- that in which Adam BYERLY now lives -- in 1826. The first frame barn in the township was erected by William R. ELLIOTT in the summer of 1830. It is 30x54 feet, and is still standing.

Benjamin SARVER came into this township from Allegheny County about the year 1795 or 1796; engaged immediately in the erection of a grist-mill, suffering many hardships. During the time he was building the mill, he walked from Tarentum to Sarversville every week (about nine miles), carrying with [p.256] him the provisions necessary to support him during the week. On one occasion, when he was returning to his home, he was so much exhausted with hunger (his provisions having run short), that he satisfied his hunger by eating raw pumpkins, obtained from a pioneer's patch along the path he was traveling.

Mr. SARVER lived to an old age; raised a large family, all of whom are now deceased, whose descendants are now numerous, and are spread wide over the county. His son John settled a farm on the southern boundary of this township, pursued very successfully the business of farming; married Miss Sarah BURTNER, daughter of John BURTNER, of Allegheny County, raised a family of nine children -- four sons and five daughters. By industry and economy, Mr. SARVER was enabled to settle his sons around him on good farms, all of whom are living in comfort, except Daniel, who died several years ago. Henry SARVER lives on the old homestead on which he was born in the year 1822. He has lived here peacefully, and, although not blessed with a wife, he is blessed with a spirit of improvement and a desire to further every good cause.

A man named BROOKS, on the Henry BAKER farm, was an early pioneer, and died in this township. William COLMAR lived on the farm afterward.

About the same time -- 1795 or 1796 -- a SMITH family lived on the GRANT farm, afterward occupied by John GIBSON, a son of St. Clair GIBSON, an early settler in Allegheny County.

The farm now owned by Jacob SIMMERS was settled in 1796, by Mrs. Mary STEELE and her son John and daughter Mary, who came from Westmoreland County. After residing here for a time, John STEELE returned to Westmoreland County. Jane became the wife of Joseph SIMMERS, whose father, George, a German, was an early settler in Allegheny County. Joseph SIMMERS was killed by being thrown from a horse about the year 1820. In those days, the nearest salt works were at Conemaugh, and it was customary for the settlers to go there and exchange their produce for salt and other supplies, carrying their loads by means of horses and pack-saddles. Mr. SIMMERS and one of his neighbors, Mr. ELLIOTT, were about setting out on one of these expeditions, SIMMERS carrying a dressed hog on one horse and leading another horse behind. The horse which he rode took fright at sight of the carcass of the hog and became unmanageable. Though an expert horseman, he was thrown to the earth and trampled upon, receiving such injuries that he died before he could be carried home. This calamity occurred in sight of the house. The widow and her young children were thus left with no one to provide for them; but their kind-hearted neighbors freely lent their assistance, gathering from distances of five and six miles to cut and haul a winter's supply of wood, or perform some other act to relieve the family from cold and want.

The children of Joseph and Jane SIMMERS were six in number -- James, Winfield Township; George, Buffalo; Martha (SHANNON), died in Buffalo; Jacob, on the old homestead; Mary (ROSS) and Catherine (HUNNEL), Buffalo.

Probably there had been an Indian encampment on the SIMMERS farm before the white settlers came, or perhaps hostile tribes may have there encountered each other and fought. Hundreds of flint arrowheads have been found near a spring a short distance from Jacob SIMMERS' house. After the family settled here, wolves and bears used to prowl around the house, and frequently at evening the small of meat cooking attracted them very near.

There was far more sociability in early days than at present. Neighbors five miles apart frequently exchanged visits. Everybody was acquainted with all the residents of his neighborhood, and usually on intimate terms with them. "Neighborhood" then meant anywhere within a radius of from six to ten miles.

John and Massey HARBISON were among the first settlers. Their location was on the WEAVER farm, near the county line. The narrative of Massey HARBISON's sufferings from Indian barbarities will be found in the general history. She was born in Somerset County, N. J., in 1770, and was the daughter of Edward WHITE, a Revolutionary soldier, who settled near Brownsville, on the Monongahela River, in 1783. In 1787, she was married to John HARBISON. He participated in the Indian expedition of Gen. ST. CLAIR under Capt. GUTHRIE, and was wounded on the 4th of November, 1791, when ST. CLAIR was defeated. HARBISON built a mill on Buffalo Creek in 1807, and remained upon the farm he had taken up until his death, in 1822. The children of John and Massey HARBISON were John, James, Betsey, Peggy, William, Mattie, Thomas, Nelly Jane, Benjamin and Sina. Two were killed by the Indians. John was the child she carried in her arms at the time of her escape from the captivity of the savages. He went West when old, and died at the age of eighty-eight. James was born a few months after the adventure with the Indians. He settled, in 1832, upon the farm where his son, R. M. HARBISON, now lives. William settled in Lawrence County. Thomas lived in Buffalo Township, on the farm now owned by his son James. Betsey became Mrs. SIMMONS, and Peggy Mrs. TAYLOR. Sina married a Mr. SHARP. Nelly Jane (MURPHY) died in Pittsburgh in 1882. Mrs. Mattie WILEY and Benjamin are the only survivors of the family. The former lives in Little Washington, and the latter in Allegheny County.

[p. 257]

William KISKADDEN, another of the earliest pioneers, was a Irishman, and had served seven years and six months in the Revolutionary war. He first settled near where Monroeville now is; moved several times, but died in this township. His only son, William, died of small-pox when young. His daughters were Nancy (HELMS), Margaret (MCKEE), Jane (ANTHONY), Betsey (ANTHONY), Sarah (SCHWARTZ), Mary (LEITEL) and Rebecca (SARVER). All lived to have families. Only Mary and Rebecca lived in this county.

After KISKADDEN's settlement, the family were frequently visited by Indians, who came to beg. One old savage took a fancy to one of the daughters, and said he would give half a bushel of gold if she would become his squaw. As in the case of the tempter in the Bible, it is doubtful if he owned what he offered to give away.

Of the HARBISONs who settled in the township, James married Jane WADDLE. Their children numbered three, and are located as follows: Barbara (HARSHBERGER), Clinton; Catharine (ELLIOTT) and Robert M., Buffalo Township. Thomas HARBISON settled in Buffalo in 1822. His wife was Jane MCCURDY. They had five children, who reached years of maturity -- John, Mary, James, David and Elizabeth. John died in this township. Mary (HILLIARD) and the two surviving sons live in this county. Elizabeth (MITCHELL) resides in Freeport.

About 1797, Robert CARSON settled in the western part of this township. Afterward, he exchanged his farm for land on Bull Creek, in the southeastern part of Clinton. He died in St. Louis at an advance age. He had reached the age of ninety-two before he left this county. His sons were Hugh, John, George, Thomas, Rowan and Samuel. He had also two daughters -- Margaret and Jane. Of the sons, only Rowan died in this county. Thomas lived most of his life here, and died in the State of Indiana.

Thomas FLEMING came from one of the Eastern States, and, about 1797, settled in this township. He was the progenitor of the FLEMING family in this county, and his descendants are very numerous. Like many of the early settlers, FLEMING ran a distillery. He kept a number of hogs, which he fed on the waste products of the still. He was on a trip to the eastern part of the State with a drove of hogs when he was taken sick, and died on the Allegheny Mountains. His sons were Allen, Robert, John, Thomas, Samuel, Alexander and James. His daughters were Rebecca and Elizabeth. The former died young. Elizabeth, the oldest daughter, married Daniel CAVETT for her first husband, and John ANDERSON for her second.

The EKAS family is now very numerous in Buffalo and Clinton. John EKAS, its progenitor, was a native of Pennsylvania, who settled in this township is 1818. Hugh MCKEE had been on the farm before him. The EKAS family came to this county with a wagon and four horses. The wagon was the first that appeared in the neighborhood, and was brought here with much difficulty. The turnpike over the mountains was then just building, and the route was in a very bad condition. They were eight or nine days coming 100 miles. John EKAS was the father of nine children, three of whom were born here. Jacob, the oldest, still resides in this township, and is as lively and cheerful as in his youthful days. The other children are John (deceased), Joseph, Adam (deceased), Thomas, Henry, Elizabeth (FLEMING, deceased), Sarah (BARKER, deceased), Polly (LAFEVRE), Barbara (COOPER), Susannah (HARBISON) and Catharine (STRAWIG).

The EKASes were famous for their hunting exploits, and many wolves yielded their scalps. At one time they killed a she wolf and nine young ones in a den on Smith's Creek. First, a number of shots were fired into the den, but of course it was impossible to know what they had effected. Finally, Jacob volunteered to go in and investigate. He crawled into the narrow opening between two rocks, felt his way along, and, putting his hand on the old wolf, found that she moved not. Supposing she had moved, where might he be to-day? The place was so confined that he could not turn around, but was obliged to crawl out backward, until those outside could get hold of his heels and pull him out. Another time, they received $57 bounty at one time, the scalp of an old wolf bringing $8, and that of a young one, half as much. Their hunting experiences would fill many pages, but we must pass over them thus briefly.

James RONEY was born in Ireland, and came to Philadelphia a young man, and there married. In 1819, he moved from Chester County and settled in Buffalo Township, on land which is now the DOYLE farm. He afterward moved to the ELLIOTT neighborhood, and there died. Of his children, Thomas J. lived in Armstrong County; James M. now resides in Pittsburgh; Jane (WEIR) and Mary (WEAVER) are dead. James M., the only survivor of the family, is now seventy-three years old. He has a son, D. M. RONEY, now living in Summit Township, and another, James M., in Ohio. One daughter, Nancy A. (WATSON), resides in Buffalo Township. Two of his children, Eliza Jane and William M. B., are dead.

One of the pioneers of this township, as well as one of its most worthy and respected citizens, was John WEIR. He was born in County Donegal, Ireland, in 1775, passed through the revolution of 1798, and, in the year 1800, emigrated to the United States [p.258] settling at Wilmington, Del. There he engaged as an employe [sic] in the powder manufactory of E. I. DU PONT, and remained steadily fourteen years, excepting the time he was in the army. In 1812, he was married to Miss Jane RONEY, and the same year, enlisted in his country's service in which he remained until the close of the war. In 1818 he made a trip to this county, coming and returning on horseback, to select a spot for a farm. On returning to Wilmington, he purchased of E. I. DU PONT, a large land-holder, a piece of land in Buffalo Township.

In 1819, Mr. WEIR moved to this county with wagons, bringing his family, which them consisted of his wife and five children. He settled upon the present WEIR farm, which then had a few acres cleared and a small log cabin upon it. His neighbors were few, and his surroundings were all of the wildest description. At the time of his settlement, there were only four farms upon the old road between Freeport and Butler. But, entering upon the work before him with bravery, his diligent industry soon bore fruit, and his toil was rewarded abundantly. Mr. WEIR was widely known and everywhere esteemed for his integrity and uprightness. He was also prominent both in civil and military affairs, and active in promoting every public interest. Until he was sixty years old, he served as Captain of militia. He was an earnest supporter of schools and churches, and was largely influential in advancing the prosperity of both. Being elected one of the first School Directors in this township, he labored assiduously to get schools established upon a permanent basis, and to increase their utility. Capt. WEIR was a useful citizen. He died in 1870, at the advanced age of ninety-five. Mrs. WEIR died in 1864, aged seventy-five. We mention each of their children in the order of age. John now resides in Pittsburgh; William died in Freeport; Elizabeth (MURRAY), lives in Minnesota; Mary (CALLAN) in Freeport; Margaret (MARTIN), died at Oil City; Sophia (MORRIS) resides in Freeport; Alfred D. in Buffalo Township; and Jane (BAIRD), in Freeport.

Jesse GLENN and his son James settled about 1820 near the county line. James moved to Butler and died there. Afterward, Isaac HAWES lived there for many years. William PAINTER bought the farm from him. HAWES ran a distillery several years.

One of the most peculiar characters was old John BLACK, who settled in the HARBISON neighborhood about 1830. He had either lived among the Indians or had been among them enough so that he was familiar with many of their customs. When well warmed by copious drams of whiskey, BLACK was accustomed to imitate the Indian war-whoop, and the neighbors always knew when he was on a spree from the wild, strange sounds that issued from his throat. He had no palate, and, in the absence of that useful appendage to one's vocal apparatus, talked through his nose. He could imitate any sound he had ever heard, and frequently gave vent to owl hoots which could scarcely be distinguished from the genuine. His son Jack was equally well skilled in the art of mimicry.

BLACK was a great hunter, and, as is not unusual with those who are fond of the chase, had no great respect for the Sabbath. Every winter, at the first fall of snow, he would be found in the woods hunting deer. Once, when there were several light falls of snow in early winter, nearly everyone chanced to fall on Saturday, and of course John did not allow the coming of Sunday to interfere with him in his pursuit of his favorite pastime. One Sunday, Thomas HARBISON , who happened to be Constable at that time, found BLACK returning home from a deer hunt in which he had been successful. The old man tried to hide his gun in a hay stack as HARBISON drew near. The latter began to rail at him as he saw this movement, and shouted, "Ah! Five dollars from you, old fellow! Five for me!" "Well," returned BLACK, "if I pay, I might as well get the deer home, I suppose. Help me?" "Oh, yes," assented the Constable, and the two moved toward BLACK's house, carrying the deer. Presently they came upon a flock of wild turkeys. BLACK did not appear to notice them, and when his attention was called to them, said he had hunting enough for one day. "Well," said HARBISON. "if you won't shoot, lend me your gun;" and, taking the weapon, he soon brought down a fine large turkey. Old BLACK was now jubilant. The Constable had exposed himself to the penalty of the law. "By thunder!" shouted the old man, with his peculiar intonation, "I guess the five dollars is for me this time!" And, indeed, had the penalty been imposed, it would have been much more than that sum.

In 1822, Jacob BYERLY moved from Westmoreland County and settled on a farm in the western part of the township, where Robert CARSON had previously made a small improvement. He paid about $3 per acre for his land. He worked at farming and undertaking. Mr. BYERLY died in 1854. His widow, Mrs. Susannah (HEPLER) BYERLY, is still living, at the age of seventy-eight. Of their nine children, eight are still living -- Martha (BURTNER), Allegheny county; Mary (EKAS), Clinton Township; John, Buffalo; Michael, Jefferson; Jacob, Buffalo; Phoebe, died in Westmoreland County; Benjamin, Adam and Elizabeth Jane, Buffalo.

Peter DOYLE, a native of Ireland, emigrated to America and spent a year in Vermont; then came to Butler County in 1830. In 1832 he settled on the [p.259] farm where his son Nicholas now lives. The place had been somewhat improved previously. Of his children, three are living, viz.: Stephen, Kansas City, Mo.; Nicholas, Buffalo Township; and Mary, Rochester, N. Y.

William BARKER came to this county in 1825, at the age of fifteen. He is a son of John BARKER, who settled on the POTTS farm about 1797, in Middlesex Township, and afterward removed to Allegheny County. William BARKER settled, in 1832, on the present Thomas EKAS farm, on which he made the first improvement, and on his present farm in 1851. His first wife, Sarah EKAS, died in 1851. Four children of this marriage are still living, viz.: Sarah (MCGINNIS), Buffalo Township; Margaret (CLOW), McKean County; John, Natrona; and Isabel (MARTIN), Missouri. For his second wife he married Mrs. Catharine EMRICK. Mr. BARKER has served in various local offices, and has been Justice of the Peace.

Matthew GREER came from Washington County in 1835, and settled near Hannahstown. In 1850, he settled upon the farm on which he now resides. Joseph PAINTER made the first improvement on this place, and Robert HETSILGESER lived upon it previous to Mr. GREER. Mr. GREER is the father of two sons and six daughters, who are living. His son, Matthew M., is the present Prothonotary of Butler County. Mr. GREER was County Commissioner, elected in 1861.

M. N. GREER, Esq., was born in Washington County, Penn., but at a very early age he came to this county with his father's family. He was educated mainly in the public schools, but also attended Meadville College for some time.

Mr. GREER became a very successful teacher, which business he followed in connection with agriculture till the outbreak of the rebellion, when he entered the service of the country in Company D, One Hundred and Thirty-seventh Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers; after serving his term of enlistment for nine months, again enlisted, in Company L, ------ Regiment Pennsylvania Cavalry. He was taken prisoner at Martinsburg, Va., and lodged in prison at Andersonville; suffered everything but death; was finally exchanged, discharged from the service, returned home, and, with very careful nursing, his life was spared. Mr. GREER has filled many local offices. He was also elected Register and Recorder of the county in 1872, and Prothonotary in 1882, which office he is now filling very acceptably to the people of this county.

G. C. SEDWICK, Esq., was born in what is now Parker Township, this county, in the year 1801; came to this township in the year 1830; was married to Mrs. Nancy ELLIOTT, of whom were born seven children, only two of whom survive, namely, Mrs. Barbara HASLETT, now of Kansas, and Eliza F., wife of G. W. CRAMER, Esq., of this township. Esquire SEDWICK was one of the first puplic [sic] school teachers in this township, having been elected a teacher in 1836, the first year the public school went into operation here. H. W. GRANT, Esq., once a member of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, and Hon. A. W. WEIR, now one of the Associate Judges of this county, were among his pupils. Esquire SEDWICK was serving his fourth term of Justice of the Peace at the time of his death. He, with a few others, organized Emery Chapel M. E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church, of which he was a consistent member and active worker till the day of his death. G. W. CRAMER, Esq., was born in Monmouth County, Va.; entered the service of his country in his sixteenth year; served twenty-seven months, when he was discharged by reason of wounds received in service. He was married in 1870. Elected Justice of the Peace to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Esquire SEDWICK. He is now serving his third term acceptably to his constituents.

In 1835, David WILSON came from the North of Ireland and settled on the farm now occupied by his son, M. A. WILSON. The place had been improved slightly by James WHITE, who came here from Westmoreland County about 1828. David WILSON died in 1853. His children, who came to this county with him, were four, viz.: William, deceased; M. A., Buffalo Township; Ann (MCKEE), Etna, Penn.; Isabella, wife of ex-Lieut. Gov. GRANGER, of California.

In 1837 Abraham PARKER came from Pittsburgh and purchased 118 acres of land at $14 per acre -- a large price for those times. The farm had been slightly improved, having some ten acres cleared. Two sons, Joseph and Thomas, came with Mr. PARKER. They married later, and still reside in the township. Abraham PARKER died in 1867, at the age of ninety-two. He never had a day's sickness, and retained full possession of his bodily and mental faculties until the last. He retired one night, apparently as well as usual, and died during the night, without any evidences of illness or suffering. He was an Englishman, and had been in this country about ten years before settling in this county. His wife survived him two weeks, and, like him, passed peacefully away. She was but nine months younger than he.

David L HOOVER, a native of Lebanon County, this State, moved from Armstrong County to the farm he now occupies in 1842. The farm was then unimproved. Its timber was mostly saplings. No settler had taken it up before, as glades were not considered desirable. Mr. HOOVER now has an excellent farm. Soon after he came here, Mr. HOOVER was chosen as a Captain of a volunteer company of militia, and was afterward elected Major.

[p. 260]

The northern part of Buffalo Township contains some very pretty farms. The surface here is generally more even, especially west of the creek, than other portions of the township. Here were glades, and consequently they were shunned. Land here was sold for trifling sums, and some was bidden off at Commissioner's sale at exceedingly low rates. In 1824 or 1825, a piece of land was sold to Jacob SARVER at 75 cents per acre, the first payment to be in thirteen years, without interest.

Adam PETERS was quite early on the farm adjoining the MCCAFFERTYs. He sold out, and died in Sarversville. Adjoining his land was another farm, occupied by Edward SWEENEY. SWEENEY sold to Tobias HEPLER.

William PAINTER came from Westmoreland County to Freeport, and there worked at tailoring. In 1838, he settled in Buffalo Township. He now resides in Wayne county, Ohio. His son, George W. resides in this township, where he has lived most of his life. In 1841, James MCCAFFERTY and his sons, Andrew and James -- who are still residents of the township -- settled, coming from Mifflin County. The place was then purchased from Judge MCCLURE, of Allegheny county, for $10 per acre. James MCCAFFERTY, Sr., died in 1844, on the farm where his sons now live.

James ATKINSON, from Armstrong county, bought his present farm from Barney EGAN, and settled upon it in 1845.

The gore of land between Buffalo Creek and SMITH's Branch of the Little Buffalo had few improvements early, except upon the BELL farm, already mentioned. A man named DRUM, and a settler named COLLAR, were quite early on the Andrew SHEARER farm. John HAZLETT was an early settler west of the WATT farm. Daniel SARVER settled, lived an died on the farm where his sons, John N. and Milo C., now live.

In 1849, Josiah C. WATT, a native of Westmoreland county, came to this township. His father, John WATT, purchased the farm which J. C. now occupies, for $3.20, per acre. The ground was covered with sapling timber, and was hard to clear. The farm had been somewhat improved by Samuel GALBREATH, son of Robert GALBREATH. Mr. WATT estimates that in 1849 there was not more than one-third as much land cleared between the two creeks as at present. Mr. WATT was a teacher in this county in 1847-48, and notices a vast improvement in our schools since that date. Then he had a school of about sixty scholars on an average, near Leasuresville. There was nothing like uniformity in text-books. The teacher was expected to hear four recitations from each scholar daily, besides making pens and writing copies for the whole school. This last took no small amount of time, as the larger scholars practiced writing twice a day. Blackboards were not then in use. Schoolhouses were generally small and uncomfortable.

Alexander WATSON, a native of Scotland, came to this county and settled in this township in 1849. He has had a saw-mill in operation since 1872. He settled on his present farm in 1861. John A. WATSON, his son, lives in the same neighborhood.

John FLEMING made the first improvement on the RICHARDS farm. In 1850, this farm was bought of John Y. C. BELL, by Samuel RICHARDS, who now resides in Freeport. His son, M. L. RICHARDS, now occupies the farm. The RICHARDS family moved here from Pittsburgh.

John DUERR, a native of Germany, came from Montgomery County and settled on his present farm at Sarversville in 1856.

James K. DAIN, a native of Pittsburgh, followed livery and baggage express business in Pittsburgh until 1867, when he bought of John THRUMSTON the farm which he now occupies. Mr. DAIN is egaged in breeding fine stock, making a specialty of Jersey cattle.

Nicholas AMMON moved from Allegheny County in 1869, and settled on a part of the farm formerly owned by John BROWN, deceased.


1840, William WALKER; 1840, Emil MARHOFF; 1845, William WALKER; 1845, George C. SEDWICK; 1850, George C. SEDWCK; 1850, William WALKER; 1854, William BARKER; 1855 David KELLY; 1859, George C. SEDWICK; 1860, David KELLY; 1864, George C. SEDWICK; 1869, David KELLY; 1870, A. H. MORSE; 1874, David KELLY; I875, George W. CRAMER; 1877, Thomas DOUGLAS; 1880, George W. CRAMER; 1881, George W. CRAMER; 1882, Thomas DOUGLAS.


This little hamlet contains one store and a few small shops. The village lots were laid out about 1840, by Henry HALSTEAD. The place was at first call Whalley, but, after a few years, the name was changed to that which it now bears.

Near the village on the Little Buffalo, Benjamin SARVER built the first grist-mill on the creek, and the first in this part of the county. He was the miller at NEGLEY's Mill, where Tarentum now is, and was induced by Patrick HARVEY to come to this county and start a mill. HARVEY told him of the site, and SARVER visited the spot with him. Said he, "I'll have a mill running here in less than a year, if I have only the blue sky above it." And he did; in lieu of blue sky, the machinery was sheltered by a rude log building. The mill, rebuilt and changes several times, [p.261] continued in operation until about three years ago, when it was burned. SARVER lived in a stone house opposite the mill, and there kept tavern several years.

The first store in the township was kept by F. D. SCHWIETRING, near Sarversville. He sold out to David KELLY, who continued the business several years. The present store of J. M. FLEMING was established by him in 1876.

Sarversville Post office was established in 18--, George C. SEDWICK, Postmaster. It is the only post office in the township at this writing. It was moved to Sarver Station a few years ago.


This is a small village of a few houses, situated on the old Freeport & Butler Turnpike. The lots were laid out in 1839, by James DUNLAP, surveyor, and the sale of them commenced the same year. Squire Emil MAURHOFF, of Saxonburg, made the deeds for the purchasers. J. M. ELLIOTT bought two lots at the first sale, and erected the first house in the place in the winter of 1839-40. The lots were laid out on the corner of three farms, owned by Daniel DUFFY, William MCLAUGHLIN and Matthias CYPHER. The village was named after President MONROE.

In 1840, a small shop, scarcely entitled to the rank of a store, was opened by Peter KOON. He remained but a short time. George FRY was the next merchant, succeeded by a German named SPECK, then by Charles SCHWIETRING. The present merchant, George W. CRAMER, bought SCHWIETRING's store, and began business in 1871. SCHWIETRING's was the first store of any importance. Mr. CRAMER is now serving his third term as Justice of the Peace.

In 1840, George WEAVER built a house here and commenced keeping tavern. A few years later George TRUBY opened another hotel. A little later, R. J. GREGG followed the same business. There has been no hotel or saloon for several years. Monroeville had considerable business before the railroad was built.


The first school officers in Buffalo Township were elected in 1834, and from that date until 1840 schoolhouses of hewed logs were erected, in part by the efforts of the citizens and partly by public money. There was great opposition to free schools, and public sentiment was about equally divided in favor of the new system and the old plan of tuition schools. This was a short-sighted policy, for the school tax amounted to only a small sum for each citizen when compared with the amount necessarily expended in maintaining private schools.

George C. SEDWICK was the first teacher in the public schools after their establishment. He taught in what is now District No. 2 -- old District No. 7 -- where the first schoolhouse was built. The present schoolhouse were [sic] erected the year that the township as now constituted, was organized. They are four in number, of brick, substantial and convenient. The present valuation of the school property of the township is not less than $4,000.

Very many amusing things could be written concerning the pioneer schools, if space permitted. One of the first was on the ELLIOTT farm. It was a slight improvement upon the old log structures in which the scholars of this township had previously attended school, and which are mentioned in the history of Clinton Township. Here Robert HAMILTON, an Irishman, and a Yankee names JONES, were early teachers. HAMILTON was considered a good teacher in those days. JONES was very strict, and did not spoil the child by sparing corporal punishment. He was always careful to instill into the minds of his pupils a due regard for "manners" -- made them say "sir" and "ma'am", and if they passed any one on the road without bowing and greeting him properly, an application of the rod usually resulted.

There was an early schoolhouse on the WALTER farm, built after the usual pattern, with greased paper for window lights and a chimney in the middle, from the loft up, of sticks and mud.

Robert CUNNINGHAM was one of the first teachers in the early schools.


The first grist-mill and saw-mill in the township were built by Benjamin SARVER. Settlers from a distance of fifteen miles or more came to the mill on horseback. John HARBISON built a grist-mill in 1807, on the Big Buffalo, in the edge of Armstrong County. Soon after, Andrew SMITH erected a mill on the site of Jacob EHRMAN's mill. Still later, William COLMER and Jacob WEAVER built a mill on the Big Buffalo, which was long known as the GRATTY mill. The early mills were of hewed logs, with overshot wheel. They ground but slowly; still, they were of inestimable value to the settlers, who were now spared a long journey through the wilderness in order to obtain meal and flour.

The usual custom of the pioneers was to obtain a supply of flour and meal in the spring months, as during the summer the mills were frequently stopped for want of water.

The mill now owned by Jacob EHRMAN was built in 1866, by David KELLY. It is a good mill, run both by steam and water power. Mr. EHRMAN settled in this county in 1850, and has operated the mill fourteen years.

[p. 262]


There were few roads worthy of the name in early times. If a settler had occasion to visit any place frequently, he usually had a path leading to that point. Thus paths which a person on foot or on horseback could travel became quite numerous. The first road through this township was the Butler & Karns road, from Butler to the present site of Karns Station, Allegheny County. Next, Freeport & Butler road (succeeded in 1839 and 1840 by the pike), and the Pittsburgh & Kittanning road, crossing the Freeport road near Sarversville.


We have experienced much difficulty in obtaining facts concerning this organization, as nearly all of its original members are dead, and no records are to be found. The following sketch, however, is believed to be substantially correct.

The Methodists had a class in this neighborhood quite early. HENDERSON and JACKSON were the names of some of the first preachers. JACKSON preached here in 1834, meetings being held in orchards, barns, houses, and elsewhere. The class, as at first formed, met at Mr. LARDIN's. Some years later, Rev. William CARL formed another class, most of whose members withdrew from the first-mentioned class. This was organized at the house of David WALTER, and was the beginning of the Emery Chapel congregation. Among the members were John MORTON and wife, John and Adam EKAS, David WALKER and wife, Henry WALTER, Conrad UPPERMAN, Thomas RONEY, Polly MONTGOMERY, Catherine LARDIN, James HUNTER and Henry HALSTEAD.

About the year 1841, a small frame meeting-house was erected in the eastern part of Clinton Township, dedicated and named Emery Chapel, in honor of Bishop EMERY. The church grew and became quite prosperous, and in 1868 the present beautiful and costly church was erected, at a cost of about $7,000. The site is in the western part of Buffalo Township. Adam EKAS was very active in raising funds for the building of this house. The congregation was liberally assisted by citizens who were not members of the church. The building is of brick, two stories, 45x55 feet, well furnished, and finished in a tasty style.

Lately, the congregation has purchased ground and fitted up a large and beautiful cemetery, containing three acres; and here silently sleep many of those who were instrumental in building up and maintaining this church.


The Buffalo Presbyterian Church was organize August 3, 1843, by a committee from the Allegheny Presbytery, consisting of Rev. Abraham BOYD, Rev. Thomas W. KERR and Elder William HILL. One the same day, William CRUIKSHANK and Andrew MCCASKEY were elected and ordained Ruling Elders. The church, when organized, consisted of twelve members. Rev. Abraham BOYD was the first pastor. He preached for some time previous to the organization of the congregation. Rev. D. D. MCKEE was the next pastor. Rev. George CAIRNES was pastor 1851-67, and was succeeded by Rev. Newton BRACKEN, as supply. The succeeding pastors have been Rev. John V. MILLER, 1859-64; Rev. Josiah MCPHERRIN, 1865-73; Rev. J. T. PATTERSON, 1874-79; Rev. J. S. ATKINSON, 1881, now in charge. The church now numbers about one hundred members.

The first house of worship was built in 1843 or 1844. It was a frame building, the walls being constructed by filling in sticks and mud between the studding. At first, it was seated by benches made from logs, split and hewed. Afterward, board seats were constructed. The present house, built and dedicated in 1867, cost about $2,000.


This church was organized in 1868, by Rev. J. H. FRITZ. An old Covenanter Church, which stood upon the site of the present edifice, was used as a place for meetings until 1870, when the present house was erected. The building is large and convenient, being 44x60 feet. Adjoining it and including its site are three acres of ground, which tract was purchased from the Covenanter organization. A cemeter [sic] of four acres adjoins this lot. The ground for the cemetery was purchased two years after the building of the church. The house cost $3,100, including furnishing, and is a most tasty country church.

The number of members at first was thirty-four; at present, there are over eighty. The first pastor was Rev. J. H. FRITZ; the second, Rev. J. K. MELHORN; Rev. J. A. H. KITCHMILLER was pastor after the house was erected, until the spring of 1882. At present there is a vacancy.

The first Elders in this church were John C. EMRICK, Henry SMITH, Jonathan HAZLETT and R. M. HARBISON, who also acted as Trustees. The number of Elders is now six.



The subject of this notice is the son of John and Elizabeth WATT, and was born in Westmoreland County, Penn., in 1825. His father was a substantial [p.263] farmer and a good citizen of Westmoreland county, where he removed from his native place, in York County, prior to 1800, accompanied by three of his brothers and his father. John WATT and his brothers, William and David, were in the service of the war of 1812, and the latter was present at the surrender of HULL's army. At the time Massy HARBISON was captured by the Indians, his mother, her brothers and sisters, all quite young, walked in their night clothes from the house of Mrs. WATT's father (John CURRY) to a fort at Hannastown, twenty miles distant. The Indians burned the house and its contents shortly after they fled.

John WATT and his wife were members of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. They reared a family of six children -- George, John, David, Josiah, William and Sarah. John, David, Josiah and Sarah are still living. Their father and mother both died in 1839, the former at the age of seventy-two, and the latter aged sixty-two.

Josiah C. WATT was brought up on a farm, and attended the common school, making the most of his limited opportunities for obtaining an education. In 1847-48, he taught school in the BICKETT District, now included in Winfield Township, and in 1849 he settled upon the farm in Buffalo Township where he still resides. Forty acres of the farm had been cleared years before, but had been neglected, and was then thickly overgrown with ground oak and other bushes, rendering it very difficult to subdue and bring to a state fit for cultivation. The farm, then worth about $10 per acre, is now worth $50 per acre. Mr. WATT is an intelligent, systematic and progressive farmer. He is recognized as one of the leading citizens of the township, always ready to forward any good work. He holds the position of Elder in the United Presbyterian Church.

Mr. WATT was married, March 20, 1849, to Margaret, daughter of Nathaniel and Mary ALEXANDER, of Westmoreland County. Mrs. WATT died June 11, 1878, at the age of fifty-two years. She was the mother of seven children -- Albert F., John A., Mary E., Samantha, Tillie D., Ida M., and Maggie A. But three of these children are still living -- Mary E., the wife of Robert WATSON, Clinton Township; Maggie A., now Mrs. James F. PAINTER, Winfield Township; and Ida M., at home. In 1881, June 29, Mr. WATT married Barbara E. NEFF, of Freeport. Her parents were Jacob and Ellen NEFF. Mrs. NEFF died when Mrs. WATT was a child. Mr. NEFF reached the age of seventy-two, and died in 1871. He was a member of the Baptist Church, and Mrs. WATT belongs to the same denomination.

[End of Chapter 27--Buffalo 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 26--Clinton Township
Chapter 28--Penn Township
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage

Edited 24 Feb 2000, 17:46