History of Butler County Pennsylvania - 1883

Chapter 29 -- Winfield Township

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Transcribed by Ed McClelland (ed.mcclelland@erols.com). For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.


SURNAMES APPEARING IN THIS CHAPTER

ACRE, ANDERSON, BARKER, BLUROCH, BONNER, BOYD, BRICKER, BRUNER, BURROUGHS, CASSILLY, CLARK, CLUGSTON, COOPER, CRUIKSHANK, CYPHER, DAVIS, DENNY, DOUTHETT, ECKIS, EHRMANN, ELLET, FAIR, FALKNER, FOREMAN, FOX, FRUHLING, GALBREATH, GARRETT, GRAHAM, HARDING, HARSHMAN, HAZLETT, HAZLETTE, HEIDRICK, HELMBOLD, HEMMINGER, HETSILGESER, HILL, HIRST, HONEKER, HORTON, ISSENSE, JACKMAN, JOHNSON, JONES, KARSHNER, KEENER, KENNEDY, KIRKLAND, KNAPP, KNOX, KRAUSE, KRING, LARDIN, LEASURE, LEFEVRE, LEITHOLD, LONG, LOVE, LOWRIE, MAXWELL, MCCASKEY, MCCASLIN, MCKEAN, MCLAUGHLIN, MCMACKIN, MILLER, MINTZEL, MOORE, MOORHEAD, PFABE, PIERCE, PLANTZ, RALSTON, REDICK, REED, ROBINSON, SARVER, SASSE, SCHRUMP, SMITH, SOSSE, SPEAR, SPIRES, STEWART, STOCKMAN, TODD, TREMBLE, WAGNER, WATSON, WEAVER, WECKERLY, WESTERMANN, WILSON, WITTE, WITTENHOFF, YOUNG, ZIRKEL

Illustrations And Biographies In Chapter XXIX

p.274a-- Patrick Graham
p.274a-- Thomas Watson
p.276a--Thomas Bickett
p.279 -- Thomas Watson

CHAPTER XXIX

WINFIELD

[p. 273]

BEAUTIFUL SCENERY -- THE SMITH FAMILY - THEIR WHIP-SAW AND HANDMILL -- ANDREW CRUIKSHANK'S JOURNEY -- WILD ANIMALS AND SNAKES -- JOHN KENNEDY AND THE INDIANS -- WINFIELD FURNACE -- VILLAGES, STORES AND INDUSTRIES

This township is rich in natural scenery. It would be difficult to find more picturesque bits of rural landscapes than can be seen along Rough Run, a stream which crosses the northern part of this township and flows eastward into Armstrong County. The valley of this water course is deeply graven, and its rocky banks rise abruptly, culminating in hilltops back of which stretch tracts of level country. Stop at old Winfield furnace and gaze up the valley. The silvery stream, encompassed by bluffs which seem to attain almost to the dimensions of mountains, threads its winding way around rocky barriers and dashes over its stony bed with musical murmur, or glides noiselessly in smooth shallows. Close to you a wild ravine from the southward comes down and merges itself with the deeper valley of the creek. Here and there clumps of stunted evergreens mingle their sombre [p. 274] tints with the rich verdure of the forest extending along the west bank of the stream. On the right you see small green fields adorning the fertile hillside, and farther away farms and farmhouses relieve the scene of some of its natural wildness. Several small streams, each of which follows a wild and deeply marked channel, enter Rough Run, both from the north and the south, in its way across the township. The entire locality abounds in pleasing features that cannot fail to attract the attention to the lover of natural beauty.

Cornplanter Run is another of the small streams of this township which are conspicuous for their rude beauty. It flows eastward in Armstrong County. Not far from its source arises another stream, which pursues a southerly course and enters the Little Buffalo in Buffalo Township. Both of these streams arise a little south of the center of Winfield Township. The Little Buffalo takes its rise in Jefferson, and flows southward along the line of the railroad, its valley growing constantly deeper and its banks higher and more rugged as the stream advances. So many streams render the surface of the large part of the township very uneven. Tracts in the central and southeastern parts of Winfield are either smooth or gently rolling. In the vicinity of Leisuresville, there are a number of hills, some isolated, with broad, mound like summits; others united, forming ridges.

The soil varies, but clay and clayey loam of average strength and fertility predominate. In the northern part of the township some portions are sandy. The elevated land is generally a light, fine soil, underlaid by slaty shale, which frequently approaches very near to the surface. The deep valleys of the water courses are usually thickly strewn with fragments of sandstone. This stone is easily worked, and makes excellent material for building purposes. On Rough Run, limestone and iron ore are found in large quantities. Coal has also been mined here to some extent. At Winfield Furnace, Denny's Mills and Saxonburg Station are gas wells, found while boring for oil, which are apparently inexhaustible.

Winfield Township contains no villages of importance; Delano and Saxonburg Station, both of which have sprung up since the railroad was built, are the only places which are entitled to the rank of villages.

The township has a small population, which is largely German. In the northeastern corner are a number of families of Irish Catholics, most of whom were among the later settlers. Here, as in most of the southern townships of the county, the early pioneers were Scotch-Irish Protestants.

Winfield Township was formed from portions of Buffalo and Clearfield Townships. Clearfield is on the north of it; Buffalo, south; Armstrong County, east, and Jefferson, west.

PIONEER HISTORY

The beautiful lands lying in the southern and southeastern parts of the township first attracted the attention of settlers and hither came, in the year 1796, a family by the name of SMITH. They found all of the higher ground covered with glades, in which stood saplings of a few years' browth.

Jeremiah SMITH was a native of Ireland, who, in the year 1792, emigrated to America from County Down, bringing a family composed mostly of fullgrown boys and girls. In 1796, he establshed himself in a cabin on the farm now owned by J.E. REED, and for the remainder of his days sought to subdue the wilderness and make it fertile. Two years later, other settlers located around him, and the work of making farms went forward without interruption.

Four of SMITH's sons, namely, Jeramiah, Arthur, Hugh and Robert, were nearly, or quite, men grown when the family moved to this county, and soon took up and began improving farms for themselves. His oldest son, James, did not come here, but lived in Philadelphia. Andrew, the youngest, remained at home with his father. He had also two daughters, Nancy and Sarah. Nancy married Caleb JONES, and Sarah became the wife of Charles BONNER, who is said to have been the first millwright in this county. Jeremuah, Jr., settled in the northern part of the township, and, with his brother-in-law, JONES, erected the first grist-mill in the township, where DENNY's mill now stands. The other sons settled in the neighborhood of their father. Robert SMITH, son of Hugh SMITH, still resides here. His father was a war of 1812 soldier.

The SMITHs were good types of the average pioneer settlers. Good-natured, jovial and social, they had in addition the more substantial qualities of honesty and industry. They were also ingenious and skillful in the use of tools. Hugh SMITH was the first cooper, and for some years the only one in his neighborhood. Others of the family were carpenters, and their services were of great value to their neighbors. The SMITHs owned a "whip-saw," and their houses, as well as some of the cabins of their neighbors, were floored with real boards, a luxury which few pioneer dwellings could boast. As the whip-saw is a thing unknown to the present generation, the method of its use deserves explanation. It was merely a long saw, with handles at each end, and in looks not much unlike an old-fashioned cross-cut saw. In order to use it the saw-log had to be placed high enough to allow a man to stand beneath it. This accomplished, and the log securely placed, one of the men who was to engineer the saw mounted the log, while his assistant stood beneath and worked the other end of the saw. Guided by chalk-marks, made [p. 275] with a chalk-line both on the upper and under sides of the log, they proceeded with their work, and boards were slowly and laboriously produced.

This family also owned a hand-mill, which was frequently serviceable when dry weather prevented grist-mills from running, or when the settlers were too busy to mount on horseback and take their grist to mill. This hand-mill consisted of an upper and a nether mill-stone, groved and furrowed like other mill-stones. The upper stone had a hole through it, and was fastened upon an axle attached to the lower stone. It was turned by grasping levers or arms, one after the other, with the right hand, the operator meanwhile feeding kernels of corn with his left. As one would naturally suppose, this mill ground slowly, but not "exceedingly fine."

William MOORHEAD, born in this township in 1801, now resides in Freeport. His father, David MOORHEAD, of Scotch-Irish descent, settled in Franklin County, whence he emigrated to this county and settled in 1797. Names of his children: Mary, Sally, Hannah, Mattie, Ann, David, John, James and William. The father, David MOORHEAD, brought to this county one of the first big wagons ever used here.

Andrew CRUIKSHANK, was one of the next arrivals. He was a Scotch-Irishman, who emigrated to this country previous to the Revolutionary war. He served over seven years in the patriot army under Capt. MILLER, and after the close of the war was one of the soldiers stationed in Westmoreland County to keep down Indian outbreaks. After peace had been secured, he was engaged for several years in teaming, bringing goods from Philadelphia to the new settlements in Westmoreland. In 1798, he came to this township with his sons and erected a good log house, then returned for his family. They journeyed from Greensburg with a four-horse wagon, and assisted by a few Freeport settlers cut their way through as far as the Big Buffalo. Crossing this stream, they confinued their way, the SMITHs and others of the few settlers then in this neighborhood helping them to make a road. No one but the most daring wagoner would have ever thought it possible to get a team and a load of goods over the route which they followed. But in due time they arrived in safety, and established themselves in their new home. The house was without a floor, and a stick and mud chimney stood at the end of it. The family consisted of Mr. CRUIKSHANK and his wife and three children. John, Andrew and Sarah, the youngest being at this time about eleven years of age. In due time the house was comfortably fitted up (SMITH's whip-saw supplying some boards for floor, etc.), and the family entered upon the work before them with zeal.

Andrew CRUIKSHANK raised the first barn of any size in the neighborhood. It was of hewed logs, about 55x30 feet, with a clapboard roof. The work of raising it occupied three days. Settlers from nine miles around were present and assisted. The raising was conducted in the usual manner--skids were laid, and men with ropes drew the logs upon the structure, while others stood below and lifted with forked poles. For want of sufficient help, one end of a log was first drawn into position and fastened, then the crew proceeded to the other end and continued their work.

Andrew CRUIKSHANK died during the war of 1812, on the very day when his son Andrew was to enter the service, having been drafted. In consequence of this affliction, and because his father had served his country so long, the son was not compelled to join the army. Of the children of this pioneer, John settled in Armstrong County. Sarah married Charles FOREMAN and settled first in Westmoreland County, then in Armstrong County. Andrew remained and died on the old homestead. He reared ten children, of whom six are still living, viz., William, the oldest resident of Winfield Township, born in 1810, and living on the old farm; Dorcas (BRUNER), Armstrong County; John, Winfield; David, Missouri; Martha (BRUNER), Armstrong County, and Samuel, Middlesex.

Thomas HORTON settled near the Little Buffalo, in the eastern part of the township, about the year 1800. His son William was well-known as a miller and a local Methodist preacher.

Michael and John FAIR lived on the J.P. BRICKER farm early, but moved away.

William HAZLETT and his sons William, John, Reuben and David were among the first settlers, and lived on the Henry FOX farm. John kept the old homestead. Reuben learned blacksmithing and worked at it many years. David went to Ohio. William settled on Rough Run, and owned the land on which the Winfield Furnace is situated. He was a noted hunter and captured many a dear and bear. It is related of him that he once treed a bear, then discovered he had no more bullets. In this emergency, he clapped his ramrod into his rifle-barrel, fired and brought down his prey.

It was customary with deer hunters to erect a scaffold in a tree, then select a suitable spot of ground, sprinkle some salt over it, then climb into the tree and wait the appearance of deer, which came to lick up the salt. This method was generally very effectual. When a sufficient number of deer had found their way to the salt, the hunter from his hiding-place began picking them off with his rifle. The numerous glades were much in the hunter's favor.

Jacob HARSHMAN, a German, was an early settler on the farm now owned by Peter KENNEDY. He died quite early and left no sons. He had several daugh-[p. 276] ters, who married and settled in this vicinity. None of them are now living.

Matthias CYPHER, another German, settled in the northwestern part of this township. His son William passed his life upon the place.

John KENNEDY, an Irishman, and a well-known schoolmaster in early days, emigrated from this county to Virginia, and was among the first settlers. He was wounded in the Revolutionary war. His son James B. settled and died in this township. James was in the war of 1812, and four of his sons were in the late war. His son Peter lives in the neighborhood of the place where they grandfather settled.

HARSHMAN and KENNEDY were annoyed by strolling Indians, who attempted to steal their sheep and cattle. One night KENNEDY suspected the Indians were about, and, looking carefully around, finally espied some dusky forms crouching on the roof of his stable, where they were doubtless awaiting a favorable opportunity for stealing sheep. He was rash enough to take his gun and fire at them. The Indians ran away and fortunately no trouble resulted.

Samuel COOPER came to this county when a young man, and lived with his step-father, Robert JOHNSON. At the age of twenty-eight, he married and settled in Winfield. He raised a family of four sons and four daughters, all of whom are now living, located as follows: John and Robert, Winfield Township; William, Armstrong County; Jane (SOSSE), Winfield; Anne (ELLET), Tarentum; Elizabeth and Margaret (PLANTZ), Winfield, and Samuel, Armstrong County.

Arthur HILL, an Irishman, came to America in 1812, taught school at McKeesport three years, then came to this county and settled in the eastern part of Winfield Township. He moved to Freeport and died there, aged ninety-two.

Robert GALBREATH, of Scottish descent, was one of the earliest settlers of the southeastern corner of this township. He was a Justice of the Peace in early times. It is stated that when he arrived in this township with his family, it was winter time, and, putting up a rude shelter of poles and bark, the family lived in that until a log house could be built. The sons of Robert GALBREATH were Samuel, William, Robert and Joseph, all of whom are dead; his daughters were Mary, Margaret, Rebecca, Jane and Elizabeth (MCKEAN). Freeport [sic] is the only survivor. William and Joseph lived on the homestead after their father. Mrs. Joseph GALBREATH and three of her nine surviving children still reside in Winfield. Joseph died in 1878, aged seventy years. There were ten children in his family. The three who reside in this township are James H., Samuel W. and Mary J. (TODD).

About 1815, William HETSILGESER moved from Westmoreland County and settled the farm where his son Robert now lives. He was the father of ten children, of whom six survive--John G., Robert and William, Winfield Township; Nancy (BRICKER), Buffalo; Sarah (KEENER), Armstrong County, and Elizabeth (BRICKER), Iowa.

Before the farm was settled by the HETSILGESER family, a man by the name of CLUGSTON and his two sons had occupied it. Mrs. CLUGSTON had the reputation of possessing a very warlike temperment, and the old man, in consequence of domestic infelicity, left for parts unknown, and was never heard of afterward.

David MOORHEAD was a pioneer of the eastern part of the township. His sons James and John lived on the farm a number of years.

Thomas BICKETT, one of the few pioneers who are still living, came from Ireland to Butler County in 1823, and, after working in various parts of this State, settled upon his present farm in 1828. He bought his land, 200 acres, in 1824 or 1825, at a Commissioner's sale. The land was sold because of non-payment of taxes, and Mr. BICKETT bid it in for $30. His first year's tax upon the property was 99 cents. After coming here, Mr. BICKETT married Nancy HILL. Two children by this marriage still reside in Winfield--William, on the homestead, and Mrs. Margaret YOUNG.

Mr. BICKETT says this was a wretched-looking region when he first saw it. The little clearings of the few settlers then in the township were formed after the most primitive methods. Plows were in use, manufactured by the farmer himself, from wood, with the addition of a little iron obtained from some neighboring blacksmith. Such a plow would make a scratch in the earch, but as for turning a furrow, that was impossible. Forks, that were almost as much as a man could lift without any load upon them, were used in handling manure and hay. Soon after he had set about making a home in this uninviting wild, Mr. BICKETT was bitten by a rattlesnake one evening as he was crossing Cornplanter Run on his way from his farm to the cabin where his wife was staying. The snake bit through his thick pants of tow-cloth and through a thick woolen sock deep into the flesh above his ankle. On reaching home, he drank a large quantity of new milk, which prevented injurious results, but he endured excruciating pain for some time.

Black and yellow rattlesnakes, copper-heads, black racers and other kind of snakes were very abundant among the rocks along Cornplanter Run, and, in fact, on the lowlands in all parts of the township. While mowing, the settlers frequently wrapped quantities of hay around their legs to prevent being bitten.

Mr. BICKETT raised his house in the spring of 1828. It is still standing, though no longer used as [p. 277] a dwelling. As he recalls the names of many who were present at the raising, it may be of interest to some of our readers to mention them in this connection. Among others were John and Mac MOORHEAD, James RALSTON, Robert GRAHAM, Arthur HILL, William and David RALSTON, Andrew CRUIKSHANK and James SMITH.

In 1827, Abraham LEASURE, a Revolutionary soldier, settled in the southeastern part of this township, and made the first improvement on the farm where his son William now lives. He died in the ninety-first year of his age. Abraham, his oldest son, lives in Buffalo Township near the old homestead.

Very few families had settled in this township previous to 1830. The ten years following that date brought a large number of Germans, and their diligent industry speedily wrought a great change, developing the agricultural resources of the township and carrying forward the work of improvement until many fine farms now occupy what was formerly waste land. The Germans introduced a peculiar fashion of making houses, which are something about half way between a log house and a frame building. Upright posts are set two or three feet apart; a groove is made on the inside of each post, and into it is fitted a stick of sufficient length to extend from one post to the other. Then clay morter is placed in a layer upon it; another stick is laid, and another layer of morter, and so on until the walls are completed. The mortar is then smoothed, and when dried the walls become quite substantial. There are a number of houses of this description in this township. Probably the first was that built by Henry SASSE, on the FRUHLING place, about 1834.

Augustus ACRE settled in Winfield Township in 1836, with his father, Joseph Acre, who died in 1837. Augustus bought the farm he now occupies in 1849, paying for it $5.50 per acre.

Casper FRUHLING came from Germany to Armstrong County in 1846, and a year later settled in Winfield. He has lived on the farm he now occupies since 1861.

John P. BRICKER came to this county in 1852, from Armstrong County, and, in 1854, settled on the farm where he now lives. Mr. BRICKER is serving his fourth term as Justice of the Peace.

F.W. WITTE settled in this township in 1856, with his father, William WITTE, and, in 1868, on his present farm.

Francis JACKMAN and his wife Elizabeth emigrated from France to Pennsylvania in 1832, and settled near Delano Station, where Mr. JACKMAN still resides. Mrs. JACKMAN died in 1880. Their four children who came with them from France are not located as follows: Susan; Christopher, Minnesota; Augustus, Summit Township; Rosa (CASSILLY), Louisville, Ky.

Casper HARDING and his wife Catharine, newly arrived from Germany, settled here in 1844. Mr. HARDING died just thirty years later. His son, John HARDING, now lives in Butler Township; a daughter, Elizabeth (CLARK), is in Allegheny County, and another, Catharine (WECKERLY), in Virginia. Adam HARDING, the father of Casper, was also a settler in this township.

PIONEER REMINISCENCES

The early settlers had some unpleasant neighbors in panthers, which haunted the Little Buffalo and the runs entering it. One day Hugh SMITH and several other boys who had been to a raising in the southern part of the county, were returning home, when they discovered a half-grown panther, but did not know what it was. They set their dogs upon it and the panther climbed a tree. One of the boys ventured to climb the tree and essayed to seize the animal's tail and throw him down. The panther, however, jumped to the earth and was killed by the boys and the dogs. The old one was heard howling near by, but did not appear, luckily for the boys.

A large wolf, said to have made tracks larger than a man's hand, frequented the Little Buffalo and Cornplanter Run. He was known as the "brindled wolf," and seemed capable of a great deal of mischief. In 1829, he killed five sheep belonging to Thomas BICKETT and committed numerous other depredations. A reward of $50 was at length offered for his scalp, and ECKIS, the hunter, succeeded in obtaining it.

A den of panthers was discovered by some one in the SMITH neighborhood, near the Little Buffalo. The entire community of men and boys, with Billy HAZLETT at the head, determined upon their destruction. First, they tried smoking them; then, procuring poles, they prodded in the den, but for a long time no panther would issue forth. At last, they succeeded in getting one of the young ones out; but the old panther was too wary for them, and was not secured.

Huge yellow rattlesnakes are frequently seen, and sometimes even found their way into houses, but now, like the wolves, bears and panthers, their day is past.

EARLY SCHOOLS

The settlers of this township being few and far apart, there were no schoolhouses built for some years. About 1815, a small log schoolhouse was built on the Robert SMITH farm, and a school attended by pupils who came a distance of three and four miles, was taught by Isaac LEFEVRE. This schoolhouse had a clay ceiling. The chimney, extending only from the loft upward, was in the center of it. The fire- [p. 278] place was square and four logs were laid around it. The scholars sat on benches of puncheons. After a few years, there were not enough scholars in this neighborhood for a school, and the location was changed to the HETSILGESER farm, where a school was kept in an old log house. Later, a log schoolhouse was built on the FRUHLING farm.

The first school in the northern part of the township was taught by John KENNEDY in a schoolhouse on the CYPHER farm.

EARLY MILLS, STORES, ETC.

Thomas HORTON had a saw-mill on Little Buffalo, near where Saxonburg Station now is, as early as 1806. It seemed a strange place for a mill, for only glades were near it. It was run several years, and, though a small affair, its services were very useful to the early settlers.

The first grist-mill in this part of the county was erected previous to 1812, by Jeremiah SMITH and Caleb JONES. Its site was that of the present mill of the DENNY Bros. The old mill received custom from a wide extent of country. In 1817, it was bought by Peter MCLAUGHLIN, who ran it until his death, in 1828. For the mill-site and 500 acres of land he was to pay 1,000 pounds of powder at $1 per pound. The old mill, with changes and improvements, continued in operation until 1853, when it was torn down and the large mill now on its site was erected by the DENNYs. The DENNYs built a saw-mill in this part of the township in 1833, which was the second saw-mill on Rough Run, in the northern part of Winfield.

Robert MCLAUGHLIN started a powder-mill about 1818, which was in operation many years. John MCMACKIN was in partnership with him and superintended the manufacture of powder. The establishment was afterward run by MCMACKIN and James DENNY.

William HAZLETT, an early settler on Rough Run, built a grist-mill below the DENNY mill previous to 1820, and later, a saw-mill.

A furnace, long known as Winfield Furnace, for the manufacture of iron from native ore, was established in 1847 by William SPEAR. The ruins of it are still standing on Rough Run, near the eastern line of the township. It was a charcoal furnace, and consisted of a stone stack thirty-three feet high and about twenty feet square at the base. Abundance of ore and limestone are found in the immediate vicinity. SPEAR carried on the business eight or ten years. Then it was conducted by the Winfield Coal and Iron Company, and later, by William STEWART. The furnace went out of blast about 1864. When doing its best, it produced twenty-five to forty tons of iron per week. The work was first started with a blast generated by water power, but this not being a success, steam was introduced and used.

A store was started at Winfield Furnace in 1847 by William SPEAR. Michael WITTENHOFF had a small store in the northern part of the township about the same time.

A post office, bearing the poetical name of Melissadale, was established at DENNY's Mill in 1862, William STEWART, Postmaster. He was succeeded by Daniel DENNY. The office was discontinued about three years ago.

In 1879, a building was erected by S.D. HAZLETT, near DENNY's Mill, in which it was proposed to utilize the natural gas which is here so abundant, and in the manufacture of carbon black. It was never completed.

JUSTICES OF THE PEACE

1854, Benjamin DOUTHETT; 1858, James B. KENNEDY; 1861, John L. HAZLETTE; 1864, John P. BRICKER; 1865, Jonathan HAZLETTE; 1867, Philip CYPHER; 1869, John P. BRICKER; 1872, Philip CYPHER; 1874, John P. BRICKER, N.M. KIRKLAND; 1880, John P. BRICKER; 1882, N.M. KIRKLAND.

KNOX CHAPEL M. E. CHURCH

The Methodists in the eastern part of Jefferson and in the western part of Winfield at an early day (probably 1823), but as there are no members of it now remaining and no records, we can give little of its history. Among its members were Samuel COOPER, Henry KARSHNER and their families and a few others. Meetings were frequently held at the house of Samuel COOPER. Elders KNAPP and BURROUGHS and Job WILSON were some of the early preachers.

An outgrowth of this early organization is the Knox Chapel M.E. Church, in the western part of Winfield. This church is a small but tasteful and convenient brick house, erected in 1854, at a cost of about $1,200. It was built mainly through the influence of the Rev. John KNOX and named after him. It started with about forty members, among whom were John KNOX, Jacob SARVER and Robert COOPER. Henry KARSHNER was Class Leader. This church has continued to thrive and prosper and now has a fair number of earnest supporters.

GERMAN LUTHERAN CHURCH

This church was organized in 1848, with a small membership, by Rev. Henry ISSENSE, who continued as its pastor about five years. Previous to 1848, he had held meetings regularly at private houses in the neighborhood. A small wooden church was erected in 1848, in the southern part of the township. The first Trustees were Simon SCHRUMP and Henry MINT- [p. 279] ZEL; the first Elders, Adam SCHRUMP and Henry BLUROCH.

The church has a small number of supporters and maintains regular preaching.

GERMAN EVANGELICAL CHURCH

This church was organized in 1852 by Revs. ZIRKEL and LONG, and a small wooden house was erected in the southern part of the township the same year. Among the first church officers were John HIRST and Joseph WESTERMANN. The present church edifice, a substantial brick structure, was erected in 1872, at a cost of $3,400, including furnishing. The congregation obtained a charter about the same time. The church officers were Casper FRUHLING, President; James EHRMANN, Treasurer, and Frederick SCHULTZ, Secretary; Elders, Casper FRUHLING and August FRUHLING.

Rev. Jacob HONEKER was pastor at the time the church was built. Presiding Elder S. KRING was present at the dedication.

There are at present about forty active supporters of the church. This organization and one at Tarentum together form an appointment.

FISK'S CHAPEL M. E. CHURCH

This society was formed about 1860 by Rev. William COOPER, with thirty or forty members. An old church belonging to a Cumberland Presbyterian organization stood on the grounds near the present site of the chapel. In this the first meetings were held. Later, the property was purchased by the Methodists. The present house, a small brick structure, was erected in 1860 at a cost of $850. Samuel WEAVER had the contract for building it. The first Class-Leader was George TODD. The first Trustees were George TODD, Robert LARDIN, William BARKER and ____ PIERCE. The church has at present a membership of about thirty.

PROTESTANT METHODIST CHURCH

This organization owns a tasteful and convenient little church edifice at Saxonburg Station. The house was erected in 1879, at a cost of $750. It was dedicated on the 6th of July the same year. The church was formed by Rev. James I. ROBINSON, of the Pittsburgh conference, and consisted of four members. The first church officers were Joseph C. MAXWELL and Daniel S. SPIRES. The present membership is seventeen. The pastors have been Revs. James I. ROBINSON, J. WAGNER and James A. GARRETT. A large and prosperous Sabbath school is connected with the church.

VILLAGES

Leasuresville, in the southeastern part of this township, was laid out about 1832 by Abraham LEASURE. Its growth has not been remarkable. At present the place consists of about six houses, a wagon-maker's and blacksmith shop and a store and a post office. The first store was started about 1840 by Hugh KIRKLAND and managed by his employe, John HEMMINGER. There has been a store here most of the time since. John HETSILGESER kept the first hotel. Leasuresville Post Office was established in 1860, Robert STEWART, Postmaster. His successors have been John HETSILGESER and David KIRKLAND. Two mails are received daily from Sarver's Station.

Saxon City, or Saxonburg Station, is a small village on the West Penn Railroad, containing one church, two stores, one hotel, one shoemaker's shop, one wagon and blacksmith shop, one wagon shop and an extensive establishment for the manufacture of carbon black from natural gas. The gas well, 1,800 feet deep, was discovered in 1872. The latter industry occupies a large brick factory erected some three years ago on the site of buildings which were erected for the same purpose and destroyed by fire. The first merchant in this place was E.A. HELMBOLD, who started a store in 1872. In 1878, he was succeeded by George H. LOVE, who is now doing business here. Mr. LOVE is also Postmaster. The post office (Carbon Black) was established in 1875, with Thelo KRAUSE, Postmaster.

L.H. FALKNER, blacksmith and wagon-maker, began business in 1879 in the shop built by Joseph MCCASKEY.

The Saxon City Hotel was built in 1871 by William S. BOYD and kept by George E. MILLER till 1881, when Charles PFABE, the present landlord, took charge.

Delano is another railroad station, a short distance north of Saxonburg Station. The first store was started in 1870 by E.G. Leithold, who afterward built the hotel and later engaged in the sale of furniture, agricultural business and hardware. Mr. LEITHOLD is an old resident, having come to Butler County in 1836. Daniel DENNY had the second store in Delano. R. & A. KRAUSE, the present merchants, bought out his business and moved here from Hannahstown in 1871. The post office called Denny was established in 1871. L. HEIDRICK was the first Postmaster, and was succeeded by Robert KRAUSE, the present incumbent.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES

THOMAS WATSON

Thomas Watson, a soldier of the Revolution under Washington, was born in County Down, Ireland. [p. 280] At the battle of Brandywine, he was taken prisoner by the enemy, but at length made his escape and found his way to Conococheague, where he settled, learned the cooper's trade and married. In 1797, he came to the woods of Western Pennsylvania and settled within the present territory of Clinton Township, Butler County, with Indians, bears, panthers and wolves and a very few white people for his neighbors. He lived to be eighty-seven, and reared two children, James and Rebecca. Rebecca married Joseph MOORE and lived in Allegheny County. James was a volunteer soldier in the war of 1812. He married Mary DAVIS, who was born in Virginia; and lived upon the old homestead. He was the father of thirteen children, eight of whom lived to mature years. Three are still living--Mary Ann (SMITH), Clinton Township; Maria (ANDERSON), Allegheny County, and Thomas, Winfield Township. The following narrative of the early life of Mr. WATSON is replete with interest and is a fine portrayal of life in Butler County at that time, and of the difficulties and hardships that visit the path of the young men of those days.

He remained at home until he was eighteen years of age, sharing the privations of a pioneer family. He recollected going to Pittsburgh when a boy, with his father, riding on a pack-saddle with three bushels of potatoes, and his father walking and driving the other horse with a rope. The potatoes were sold and, after deducting expenses, there was a balance of 90 cents, which they paid to Mr. LOWRIE, from whom his father had purchased his farm. At the age of eighteen, he went to Pittsburgh, and for six years at blacksmithing; at the expiration of that time, he and his brother John bought a cargo of flour, whisky and cheese and started down the river. At Natchez, they sold to a Mr. STOCKMAN on thirty days' time; he was burned out, and they lost the entire proceeds of their trip. Being a long distance from home and out of money, they went to work repairing plows for cotton planters. After his return from the South, he worked in Pittsburgh for two years, and with his savings purchased the farm on which he now resides. For two years, he lived entirely alone, which he says were the loneliest days he ever passed, but at William GALBREATH's he met the lady who became his wife and the mother of his nine children, seven of whom are living.


[p. 276a]

THOMAS BICKETT

Thomas BICKETT, one of the few surviving pioneers in Butler County, was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in the year 1801, and is the son of Matthew and Jane BICKETT, who had nine children--Mary, Helena, Jane, Henrietta, Thomas, Eliza, Matthew, Margaret and William, who is the third child from the eldest. Three members of this family survive--Thomas (the subject of this sketch), Matthew (a farmer in Clinton Township), and Margaret, a widow, now residing in Illinois). Mary and Jane died in Ireland, but the other members of this family came to this country. Mrs. Jane BICKETT died in Ireland in 1809, and her husband died in Butler County in 1841 at the age of eighty-four years. Thomas BICKETT came to America in 1823, accompanied by his father, his brother and two sisters, and the same year visited Butler County. On his trip to this county he walked in company with his brother-in-law from a place ten miles east of Greensburg, Westmoreland County, one Sunday, to the home of his sister in Butler County, a distance of fifty miles. Throughout this journey they were without food, having asked for it only at Greensburg and New Salem, the people refusing to give them anything to eat because they were traveling on the Sabbath! When he arrived here, Mr. BICKETT thought a very short residence in this county would satisfy him, as the whole country appeared wild and desolate. But he found that the people, though poor, were not without religious privileges. There was then a Presbyterian Church at Slate Lick, of which Rev. John REDICK was pastor for many years. He discovered other pleasant features in pioneer life, and concluded that this region was far preferable to Ireland as a home for poor people. He found employment on the canal and in the trade of stone-masonry until the fall of 1829, when he settled on the farm of 200 acres, where he still resides. This land Mr. BICKETT had previously bought at Commissioners' sale for $30. He at once entered upon the difficult task of clearing his land and bringing it under cultivation. By hard and persistent toil and rigid economy, he succeeded in this undertaking, and the land which he obtained so cheaply is now worth $50 per acre. The farm is highly improved, the buildings are good, and Mr. BICKETT, in the fullness of years, has the satisfaction of knowing that this beautiful and pleasant home has been earned by the work of his own hands. Mr. BICKETT is a man who has hosts of friends. His agreeable social qualities and interesting conversational powers are so well known as to require no comment. He has been a member of the Presbyterian Church for many years, having joined it soon after he came to this county, and he now holds the office of Elder. April 17, 1828, he married Nancy HILL, of Armstrong County. The fruit of this union was five children, of whom two are living--Margaret and William. The former is the wife of John YOUNG, of Winfield Township. William married Mary M., daughter of Andrew and Dorothea MCCASLIN, of Armstrong County, and resides upon the old homestead. He was in the service during the war for nine months as a volunteer of Company D, One Hundred and Thirty-seventh Pennsylvania Regiment, and participated in seven engagements, among them the battles of Bull Run and Antietam. Mr. BICKETT's first wife died in 1837 at the age of thirty-six. In 1838, he married Miss Satia TREMBLE, who bore him three children--Matthew, Nancy and Mary. Mathew died in infancy. Nancy, Mary and their mother all died within the short period of one week.

[End of Chapter 29--Winfield 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 28--Penn Township
Chapter 30--Jefferson Township
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage

Edited 14 Mar 2000, 15:48