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History of Butler County Pennsylvania - 1883

Chapter 30 -- Jefferson Township

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Transcribed by Pat Collins. For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.



Illustrations And Biographies In Chapter XXX

p.280a-- George & Mrs. Welsh
p.280b-- Residence George Welsh
p.284a-- E.A. Helmbold & Residence
p.286a-- Residence L. Hartenstein
p.288a-- Residence William Divener
p.292a-- Isaac & Mrs. Le Fevre
p.280a-- George Welsh Bio.
p.294 -- Patrick Graham Bio.
p.294 -- Earnest A. Helmbold Bio.
p.295 -- Lewis Hartenstein Bio.
p.295 -- William Divener Bio.
p.293 -- Isaac Le Fevre Bio.
p.295 -- Francis Alwine Bio.



[p. 280]

THE first settlers of this township found but little heavy timber standing except along the streams. All of the level ground and nearly all of the hilltops were covered with a slight growth of saplings of oak and chestnut. The general appearance of the whole is aptly descided by the term "glades." These glades were caused by the burning off of the timber. It is supposed that, when the Indians held possession of these lands, they allowed the fire to run through the woods frequently, that the ground might become more suitable for hunting purposes. Then, after the white settlers came, they, in turn, set fires and burned, so that the glades covered nearly all of the township. Some beautiful groves now standing have sprung from those glades since the practice of burning was discontinued.

Jefferson Township is well improved, populous and prosperous. Its soil is good and its surface just variable enough to render it excellent farming land. Thorn Creek is the principal water-course of the township. This stream flows from the north nearly to the southern line of the township, then, bending west and northwest, enters Penn Township, there to join the Connoquenessing. On its way it is joined by a few small and unimportant streams or runs. Along the right bank of Thorn Creek was formerly a bridle-path, much used by the early settlers, extending northward to NEYMAN's Mill, and having LOGAN's Ferry as its other terminus. This was known as NEYMAN's Path, and was so frequently traveled by men and horses that in some places it was worn down into the earth to a depth of two feet or more. Below Jefferson Center there is a run which the path crossed, covered with large, flat stones. Here the horsemen were wont to halt for dinner, and feed their horses grain upon the rocks. The spot is still known as Feeding Stone Run - a name which doubtless suggests to the few living ones who traveled the old path the great contrast between the methods of that day and those of the present.

Jefferson Township is thus situated: On the north is Summit; east, Winfield; south, Clinton; and west, Penn. The Butler Branch Railroad crosses the northeastern corner of Jefferson, and has a station at the village of Great Belt. Jefferson Township also includes the borough of Saxonburg, a full history of which follows.

[p. 281] The number of churches and schoolhouses in the township sufficiently attests the character of the people; while the numerous well-tilled farms, with all their surroundings and accompaniments, speak more eloquently than words can speak of the industry and thrift of their owners.


Like many of the townships of this county, the settlement within the present territory of Jefferson Township was begun at a very early date, but the march of improvement was slow one, owing to the poverty of the pioneers and the fewness of their number.

The hardy, frugal, industrious Scotch-Irish who first penetrated this wilderness had almost countless disadvantages against them. Not to speak of the annoyance of wolves and bears, which rendered the raising of sheep and cattle extremely uncertain business, the distance from civilization cut them off from any market for the sale of their produce, and left them solely dependent upon what they could raise for their food and clothing. There were no roads, no stores, no mills - none of what we justly consider indispensable requisites of civilization were within their reach. Even if they had money to buy groceries and salt - which was rarely the case - these articles could only be obtained after a long journey through a pathless wild, and conveyed home upon pack-saddles. "It was work or starve with us," writes one of the old residents. "There were frosts that frequrently [sic] did great damage to our crops, but we usually planted enough so that want would not come upon us unexpectedly. We struggled ahead cheerfully, making the best of our lot, and usually managed to have enough food to eat and clothes to wear - not of the best, but still good enough. But we had to depend upon ourselves for these things. There could be no drones in our hives. Men, women and children all worked, and always could see plenty of unfinished or new jobs awaiting their hands."

Settlers were few until about 1831, when Germans began settling in this township. That they came at a better time than the first pioneers is a fact which is too palpable to need demonstration. Still, the country was then very wild and new, and many of the disadvantages which beset all pioneers had to be met and fought. To the German settlers this entire county owes a large share of its advancement and prosperity, and especially is this true of Jefferson Township.

Probably the first white man who made his home in Jefferson Township was Patrick GRAHAM. Without any doubt he was the first permanent settler. He was born in Ireland, emigrated to America, married in Westmoreland County, and in 1796 settled on the farm where his son Patrick (born in 1798, and consequently one of the oldest residents of the county) still resides. His wife was Elizabeth McKEE. At the time the family moved here, there were three children. Mr. GRAHAM had been here before and erected a little cabin, and, with saddles and pack-horses, he moved his household goods and his family. An aged citizen informs the writer that he has often heard that Mr. GRAHAM's two youngest children were tied up with some of the goods in a bundle, which was slung across the horse's back, and as they moved along a little head could be seen sticking out of the bundle on either side of the horse. Patrick GRAHAM was a man of great vigor and physical endurance. Though not a large man, few were capable of performing more hard work than he. He died in 1844, aged a little over ninety-seven years. Two of his sons survive. We mention below each of his children in the order of their ages.

Rosanna GRAHAM became the wife of Alexander MARTIN, and resided in this county. Joseph died in 1880 at the age of eighty-six. He was in the war of 1812, and was one of the early County Commissioners. He lived on the farm adjoining the old homestead. He was the father of thirteen children, eleven of whom survive - Robert T., Etna, Allegheny County; James, Butler; William B., Jefferson Township; Joseph, Whitestown; George K., Penn Township; Eli, Jefferson Township; Elizabeth (FITZSIMONS), Jefferson Township; Esther (SHULMIRE), Middlesex Township; Rebecca J. (McCONNELL), Iowa; Susan (STARK), Kansas; and Nancy E. (BARTLEY), Butler Township. Daniel, the third of Patrick GRAHAM's children, lived and died in Brady Township. Patrick lives upon the farm on which he was born. He was the first white child born in what is now Jefferson Township. He is married, but has no children. Elizabeth married James PRIOR, and resided in the county. James settled and died in Hickory Township, Mercer County. John died at Whitestown, this county. He followed farming and the mercantile business. Harrison, the youngest of the family and, excepting Patrick, the only survivor, resides at New Brighton, Beaver County.

For a year or more, Mr. GRAHAM was the only settler in Jefferson Township, and had no neighbors nearer than Butler and Middlesex Townships. Indians were sometimes heard shooting deer in the forest, but they never disturbed the family. For several years, all milling had to be done in Westmoreland County, and the grain carried on pack-horses by way of LOGAN's Ferry. Salt and other supplies were obtained in the same way. In 1797 and 1798, Mr. GRAHAM began to have a few neighbors.

[p. 282] A man named STANLEY squatted on land now owned by W. J. WELSH, and built a cabin near the present cross-roads. He remained but a few years, and made but little improvement. William GUTHRIE located near the western line of the township, built a cabin and remained a few years. A run near by was known to the old settlers as GUTHRIE's Run.

A squatter named PHIPPS came and took up land which Mr. GRAHAM had selected as a part of his farm, but was driven off by the latter. Mr. GRAHAM expected to obtain land for settling, but, failing in this, he continued in peaceful possession, and, after many years, ascertained who owned the land, and paid for it long after it was much improved.

Thomas BURBAGE, about 1798, settled on land now owned by the heirs of George MECHLING. He remained a few years, and then went West with his whole family. BURBAGE was quite a hunter, and picked up his living with as little labor as possible. He was fond of narrating his hunting exploits, and pretended to entertain the highest opinion of his own valor. Mrs. Patrick GRAHAM, while looking up the cows one night, saw a bear, which reared and appeared ready for an encounter. She put the dog after him, and he disappeared. Soon after BURBAGE came to her home, and she told him she had seen a bear. He fervently wished he could encounter one in the woods. There was no bear he feared, he said, and continued his boasting for some time. In a day or two, he happened to be hunting, and shot a deer. Scarcely had he fired, when a bear, aroused by the report, rushed out and advanced toward him rapidly. BURBAGE, thoroughly frightened, had no time to reload his gun and sought safety in flight. The bear gained on him rapidly, but, coming up with the hunter's dog, stopped to fight with it, thus giving BURBAGE an opportunity to escape, which he improved with all possible celerity.

A BRACEY family were among the first settlers of this township, and lived on the farm now owned by Samuel CALDWELL. All moved away early, and scarcely any are left to remember them.

Wolves were very numerous everywhere, and especially abundant along Thorn Creek. In the spring, their howling was regularly heard every night and morning, often without exciting more comment than the noise of frogs gives rise to in the present day. As there was a bounty for wolf scalps, many of the settlers made special efforts to find wolf dens among the rocks along the creek, and frequently destroyed large numbers of the young. Occasionally they obtained an old wolf, and sometimes an old bear and cubs.

Andrew STRAWIG was one of the earliest pioneers of Jefferson Township. He settled in 1798, on land about a mile northeast of Jefferson Center. A part of the farm is now owned by Michael EMRICH. His sons, David and Isaiah, lived here after him, and ran the mill built by MARTIN below the Center. Andrew STRAWIG was a quiet, civil old man, and is spoken of as being a good neighbor. It is said that he was a Hessian, and served under the British in the Revolution. He worked at blacksmithing as well as farming.

Philip SNYDER, an early settler near Jefferson Center, made a few improvements and then moved away.

The western and eastern portions of Jefferson were first settled and improved. Very few farms were taken up in the central and southern parts of the township until after 1830.

James MAXWELL was a Revolutionary soldier, who located within Jefferson Township about 1800.

Daniel MELASKEY lived and died near Saxonburg, He was also among the earliest pioneers.

An old Presbyterian preacher named BOYD, who lived on Bull Creek, used to hold meetings at the house of James MAXWELL as early as 1805. Two Methodist preachers, SHINN and ERSKIN, conducted services at the houses of various settlers about the same time.

Benjamin THOMAS was among the first who located on the COLLINS tract and lived near where Isaac LEFEVRE now resides. He planted a peach orchard, which was probably the first in this township. He had the reputation of being very stingy - would give away none of his peaches, and kept a cross dog to keep intruders from his orchard. Some boys, who had determined to have some of the peaches at any risk, went one night to the orchard, having first bribed the dog to keep silence by giving him a powderhorn, filled with lard, and secured several bags of the fruit. The dog made no noise, but licked away at the lard in quiet enjoyment until the boys secured their booty and departed.

In 1799 or 1800, William WRIGHT, a native of Ireland, settled within the present limits of Jefferson Township. He lived to be ninety-two years of age, and died about the year 1839. He reared a family of nine children, all of whom lived to marry, and most of them reached a good old age. Two are still living - William and Daniel - the former in this township, and the latter in the northern part of the county. The names of these children were as follows: Alexander, James, John, William, Daniel, Elizabeth, Mary, Nancy, and Jane. Alexander and James were in the war of 1812. James lived and died in this township, on the farm where his son James now resides. John died in Butler. William WRIGHT, born in 1801, is one of the oldest residents in this town- [p. 283] ship, and has a vivid recollection of the events of pioneer days. In his boyhood, he saw many bears and wolves, and countless deer. He reviews the past with pleasure, and says that people were fully as happy then as now.

When Mr. WRIGHT moved upon his farm and began operations, he took from his former home in Allegheny County as much flour and horse-feed as he thought would suffice for the use of his family until he had harvested a crop of grain. But, one after another, his neighbors learned that he had flour, and came to borrow. He began to lend, and presently his flour was all gone. Then the horse-feed, coarse rye flour, was sifted and used as an article of food by himself and neighbors till the entire supply was exhausted.

James WRIGHT, son of William, Sr., reared seven children. He was twice married. His children are Jane, Summit Township; Macy (STEVENSON), California; William and Margaret, deceased; Nancy (MARTIN), Summit Township; Priscilla, deceased; and James, Jefferson Township.

Robert JOHNSON was an early settler on land adjacent to Saxonburg. He was here as early as 1810, and died upon the place. He had two sons - John and Robert. John lived on the farm after his father died. Robert went to Ohio. It is said that the JOHNSON family came to this county carrying all their possessions on horseback and on their own backs, though they afterward became quite well off.

The land on which the place known as Hannahstown is situated was originally owned by Thomas COLLINS, then by Stephen LOWRY. Nathan SKEER settled on the present site of Hannahstown, and, in company with Abraham MAXWELL, laid off the land into village lots in 1829. The "town," never any larger than at present, was killed and buried by the railroad. It was named after Hannahstown, Westmoreland County, a place which was burned by the Indians.

About the year 1814, Jesse LEFEVRE, of French descent, settled on the farm now occupied by his son Isaac, and began the work of a pioneer. He bought 300 acres of land, for which he paid about 50 cents per acre. He was the father of four children - John, Levi and Isaac, living, and Elizabeth, deceased. Isaac lives upon the old homestead, where he was born. He is a blacksmith by trade, but follows farming.

Michael and Elizabeth EMRICK, elsewhere mentioned, settled near Saxonburg in 1813.

William and Samuel COOPER were among the early settlers of this neighborhood. William settled in Jefferson Township, and Samuel in Wigfield. Descendants of William still live upon the farm which he first occupied.

Capt. William STALEY was a pioneer in the southeastern corner of this township, on the Freeport & Butler road. His son William lived for some time on the old homestead, and still resides in the township.

John WELSH, a native of Ireland, settled near Jefferson Center in 1821. He had a family of seven children, of whom three daughters are living. His son Thomas succeeded him in the possession of the farm, and died in 1858. The place is still in the possession of his family, the farm now being managed by his sons, Loyal Y. and William J. WELSH. At the time the WELSH farm was settled, there was no farm south of it on the Bull Creek road for about five miles.

Alexander MARTIN, son of Thomas MARTIN, one of the pioneers of Middlesex Township, moved from Butler Township to Jefferson about 1826. He built the first grist-mill on Thorn Creek. He died in 1850, at the age of fifty-nine. His children who arrived at maturity were Alexander, Daniel and John (deceased). Thomas, the oldest son, is a well-known citizen of this township, and is now a Justice of the Peace. He took the census of a part of Butler County in 1850 and in 1870. His sister Elizabeth resides with him. The remaining members of the family are Mary (McCLELLAN), Allegheny City; William, Allegheny City; Rebecca (GRAHAM), West Virginia; and Graham, Allegheny City.

Bernard DOUGHERTY, a native of Ireland, emigrated from County Donegal to this country, and in 1805 settled in Middlesex, now Jefferson Township. He was born in 1777, and died in 1856. In 1801, he came from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh in a four-horse wagon, crossing the Alleghany Mountains on a "bee line." The names of his children were Nancy, Ellen, John, Patrick, Bernard, James, Mary and William.

David LOGAN moved from Lancaster County when young, with his father, Joseph LOGAN, who settled on the Erastus LOGAN farm in Penn Township. David was an early settler in Jefferson, and made the first improvement on the farm where his descendants now live. He at first bought 225 acres, and afterward added 125 acres. He died in 1878, aged seventy-five. By his first wife he had six sons and three daughters, viz.: Nancy J., deceased; John, Allegheny County; Joseph, Jefferson Township; Levi, Jefferson Township; Baxter, Penn Township; Samuel, died in the army; Matilda, Calvin and Eliza B. (BURTNER), Jefferson Township. By his second wife, two children - David H. and Edward P., Jefferson Township.

John WALTER and his family, from Westmoreland County, were early settlers in the northern part of this township. Jacob settled and died in this township. David lived in Clinton. The children of Jacob and Sarah WALTER were John, Jacob, Benjamin, Daniel Philip, Simon, Elizabeth, Sarah, Mary Ann [p. 284] and Sophia. Of the sons, only Philip survives. He resides in Buffalo Township. Three of the daughters are still living, viz.: Elizabeth (SCHWIETRING), Freeport; Sarah and Mary Ann (unmarried), on a part of the old homestead.

William HARBISON, a native of Ireland, was an early settler of Middlesex Township, and later of Jefferson, where he improved the farm on which his grandson, W.W. Harbison, now lives. His sons, William, Robert and Mathew, all settled in this county. William, the oldest, lived and died on the old homestead in Jefferson Township. Robert settled on the adjoining farm which is now occupied by his son, William R. Matthew settled in Oakland Township. William HARBISON, Sr., was in the war of 1812. William, his son served as County Commissioner three years, commencing in 1858.

Jacob MECHLING came from Westmoreland County to Butler County in 1796, and located in Parker Township, and, in 1808, in Butler. He raised eleven children, of whom two are living - Christian and Thomas, in Jefferson Township. Christian MECHLING has resided in this township about fifty years. He is the father of thirteen children, of whom nine are living. Mr. MECHLING says he distinctly remembers when there were but three farms along the road from Butler to Freeport.

John MONTAG, a native of Germany, settled near Jefferson Center in 1832, and at first worked for Thomas WELSH. His sons are now in business at the Center.

Gottfried RENICK, one of the early German settlers, emigrated from Prussia and settled near Saxonburg in 1833. He died in 1862. His family consisted of ten children, eight of whom are living - Louisa (BEAM), Sophia (KING), Frederick (dead), William, Hannah (MYERS, dead), Caroline (KECK), August, Elizabeth (LENSNER), Lena (SYPHERT) and Margaret (MICHEL).

Henry GRIMM, a German settler of 1834, lived on a farm one mile north of Saxonburg. Four of his children reside in this county, viz.: Catharine (LENSNER), Jefferson; Henry, farmer and blacksmith, Winfield; George, Jefferson; Sophia (HALSTEAD), North Washington. Two daughters are in Allegheny County.

John A. KNOCH, a native of Saxony, settled in Butler County in 1837, and purchased his present farm in 1838. It was then an unimproved place, and there were no roads near it. Mr KNOCH helped John A. ROEBLING make his first wire ropes. He followed blacksmithing in connection with farming until five or six years ago.

John G. LENSNER, a native of Germany, came to this township in 1837, with his father, who bore the same name, and has since resided here. He settled upon his present farm in 1864.

In 1839, John SHRADER came from Armstrong County and settled upon the farm where his widow and his son, W.B. SHRADER, now reside. The place was entirely unimproved. He at first bought 125 acres at $6 per acre. By diligent labor and wise economy, he made an excellent farm and gained a good property. He erected a brick residence, which is one of the finest farmhouses in this county. Two of his sons, A.L. and W.B., resides in the township, and another son, Rev. John A. SHRADER, is a United Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh. His daughters are Mrs. Clara J. GRAHAM, Penn Township; and Martha E. SHRADER, Jefferson Township. Mr. SHRADER died in 1875.

Thomas GREER, who died in 1880, moved from Washington County about 1840, and settled on the farm where his son, M.S. GREER, now lives. There were scarcely any improvements then upon the place. Thomas GREER was the father of Hon. John M. GREER, of Butler.

Samuel M. PATTERSON came from Armstrong County to Butler County in 1840, and in 1849 settled on his present farm. The place was then entirely unimproved. Five dollars per acre was the price paid for 200 acres. Mr. PATTERSON's son, J. L., occupies the adjoining farm. S.M. PATTERSON has a steam sawmill, which has been in operation several years.

In 1845, Henry WACHSMITH emigrated from Saxony and settled north of Saxonburg, on the farm now occupied by his son William. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1881 aged seventy-eight years.

Henry PFABE, one of the German settlers of this township, has resided here over forty years. His son Charles keeps the hotel at Saxsonburg Station.

Thomas FRAZIER settled near Butler in 1842. In 1857, he moved to Jefferson Township, where he was engaged in milling till his death, in 1876.

Henry H. BARR (deceased), a native of Mifflin County, moved from Mt. Chestnut and settled on the farm where his family now live, in 1862. His son, G.L. BARR, is at present teaching in Millerstown.

One of the most successful of Jefferson Township farmers is Samuel W. CRAWFORD. In 1865, he moved from Washington County and bought his present property here. He is a blacksmith by trade, but devotes his attention to farming on a large scale.

M.H. BYERLY, a native of Buffalo Township, this county, has resided in Jefferson Township since 1877, and is extensively engaged in farming, and buying and selling horses and cattle. He is also a breeder of fine stock. Mr. BYERLY was elected Justice of the Peace in 1880.

[p. 285]


1855, David LOGAN; 1859, Simon P. WALTER; 1860, David LOGAN; 1863, Charles A. STAMMEL 1865, Joseph GRAHAM; 1867, Daniel McFADDEN; 1870, Joseph GRAHAM; 1874, James GRIBBEN; 1875, Thomas McGUCKEN; 1879, Thomas MARTIN; 1880, M.H. BYERLY.


The first farmhouse in this township was erected by Nathan SKEER, the founder of Hannahstown, probably about 1828. This was also the first tavern in the township. Soon after, Thomas BARTLEY built a frame house on the farm now owned by A.M. HAYS, and Patrick GRAHAM put up a frame building. The next frame houses were erected in Saxonburg.

Thomas BARTLEY kept the first store in the township, in the house above mentioned. His stock in trade consisted of groceries, liquors, etc., on a small scale.

The first store at Jefferson Center was opened in 1862, by Thomas MARTIN.

About 1825, a saw-mill was erected at Jefferson Center by Thomas WELSH. It stood many years, and at length was torn down by the MONTAGS to make room for their present establishment.

The first grist-mill on Thorn Creek, a little below Jefferson Center, by Alexander MARTIN. After it had been in operation several years, it was swept away by a flood. A portion of the old dam can yet be seen.

In 1827, a saw-mill was built by Robert McNAIR, for the Widow McCURDY, on Thorn Creek, in the northern part of the township.

In 1834, George WELSH, still a resident of this township, built a saw-mill on Thorn Creek where FRAZIER's Mill now stands. Ten years later, he erected a frame grist-mill, 30 x 40 feet, which was provided with two run of buhrs, two bolts, elevators, etc. The mill was run by Mr. WELSH and his sons until it was sold to FRAZIER, who made additions and tore down the saw mill.

FRAZIER's Mill is in a favorable location, and does a large amount of custom work. It was rebuilt in 1857 from the old mill, by Thomas FRAZIER, and is now operated by his son, Thomas W. FRAZIER. Its full capacity is about two hundred bushels of grain per day. The mill is supplied with apparatus for running both by steam-power and water-power.

Francis ALWINE purchased his grist-mill in the southeastern part of Jefferson Township, in 1876. The mill was built by Andrew PILGRIM in 1862, and at the time of Mr. ALWINE's purchase was owned by Charles LEDERER. This mill is supplied with both steam and water power, and does considerable business.

The first store in Hannahstown was started by F. D. SCHWIETRING about 1835. Nathan SKEER kept the first tavern in the place, and John DOUGHERTY the second. DOUGHERTY also had a store. Now Hannahstown has neither store nor hotel.

John N. PUGH, a native of Buffalo Township, this county, came to Hannahstown in 1860, and has since been engaged in the manufacture of agricultural implements, doing a good business. He is also an undertaker. Mr. PUGH is the owner of quite an extensive apiary.

Quite an important manufacturing establishment, located at Jefferson Center, is the manufactory of W. & J. E. MONTAG. For several years, this firm has been doing a large business in making and selling threshing machines and agricultural implements. The industry was begun in 1868 by W. & J. E. MONTAG and J. C. WELSH. In 1878, Mr. WELSH withdrew from the firm. The Messrs. MONTAG, besides the manufacture of implements, deal quite extensively in lumber, and have a large mill for sawing it.

William MONTAG is the proprietor of the store at Jefferson Center.

Frank FRUTH, blacksmith and wagon-maker, Jefferson Center, began business here in 1871.


Not a few of the prominent and respected citizens of this township obtained all of their school education in the log schoolhouses of pioneer days, under the watchful care of a well-meaning "master" of somewhat limited acquirements and austere demeanor.

The first school in the township was probably taught near Hannahstown, about sixty rods east of the corners. A school was opened there as early as 1806, in a log building, with no floor save that formed by nature, no ceiling overhead, and two big fireplaces in two yawning chimneys, one at each end of the room. John KENNEDY was the teacher. He was tall - six feet or more - and one of his pupils recalls with a laugh the ludicrous appearance of the master as he moved about the room, now stooping to avoid hitting with his head the logs stretched across the room for the support of a loft which was never laid, and now rising to his full height and overlooking his little flock with his head among the beams. KENNEDY was a very mild-mannered teacher for those days, and was very popular. His scholarship was far above the attainments of most of the early teachers. He was a fine penman, besides having a wonderful "knack at figures."

In 1812, a log schoolhouse was erected where Hannahstown now is. This was something of an improvement upon the first, as it was provided with desks of boards instead of puncheons. The door and [p. 286] roof were of clapboards, and the chimney, situated in the middle of the room, was of wood and mortar. Not a nail was used in the construction of any part of the building. Glass had not yet been introduced into schoolhouses, and greased paper admitted all the light which the interior of the house received. Isaac LEFEVRE was the teacher in this school. An old resident says he was a good master, but "very handy with the rod."

Still later, a log schoolhouse was built near Hannahstown, where the graveyard now is. The fireplace took up the whole of one end of the house. The other features of the building differed but little from the buildings already described. On a cold morning, big logs would be rolled into the fire-place and a fire started midway. Frequently the school children would sit on the ends of the log, that they might receive as much as possible of the little heat which did not escape up the chimney. John SWEENEY, generally known as "Blind SWEENEY," from being blind of one eye, was the teacher here about 1826. Isaac LEFEVRE and Benjamin DOUTHETT also taught the school.

The first schoolhouse in the western part of the township was a small log structure, which stood on the present Matthew CUNNINGHAM farm, not far from the site of the Shiloh Church. A man named Ross GETTLEY taught there one or two terms, without much success in the direction of imparting knowledge to his pupils. A good, substantial log schoolhouse was next erected on the southeast corner of the farm above mentioned, which was used several years. Isaac SUTTON taught in this house soon after it was erected, two or three terms. An old man named MILLER, and several other teachers, also labored here. As settlers continued to arrive, log schoolhouses were erected in other parts of the township, and schools on the tuition plan were supported with more or less regularity until the free school system was established, when educational matters began to receive the attention they deserve. In pioneer days, many a boy thought nothing of doing a great many chores night and morning, and attending a school three miles from his home, following a path through the woods.


This church, situated near Hannahstown, is an old organization. Complete records are not attainable. The first record of baptism bears the date of 1838. In 1847, a constitution was drawn up and a congregation organized by Rev. SCHWEITZERBARTH. In 1854, a charter was granted to the following church officers: John G. GRUNERT, President; Bernhard KORNRUMPF, George DOERR, Elders; Frederick SEIBERT, Jacob BECK, Deacons; and Charles A. GRUNERT and Jacob ADER, Trustees.

At first, the membership, which was small, consisted of both German and English Lutherans. This arrangement continued until the English Lutherans formed a separate organization and built the English Lutheran Church at Saxonburg, though they continued to hold the church property jointly with the German Lutherans until 1874. Since that date, the church has been purely German.

Soon after the congregation was organized, a house of worship, 30 x 40 feet, was erected, the corner-stone being laid by the pastor, Rev. SCHWEITZERBARTH. This edifice stood within the present limits of the graveyard. The present church, a neat and very tasty building, surmounted by a steeple, cost, including furnishing and bell, about $3,400. It was built in 1874. A good parsonage and several acres of ground belong to the congregation. A parish school, conducted by the pastor, meets in the basement of the church. This school has been in operation several years. The church is strong numerically, comprising a membership of sixty-two families. We have no means of ascertaining the names of former pastors. The present pastor, Rev. Frederick WILHELM, has ministered to this congregation since 1870. The full name of the organization is the German Evangelical Lutheran St. Lucas Congregation of Buffalo Township, so called from the fact that the church was in Buffalo Township at the time when it was organized.


The house of worship belonging to this congregation is situated in the northern part of Jefferson Township. The church was formed April 24, 1864, by a committee of the Presbytery of Allegheny (now the Presbytery of Butler), consisting of Rev. Loyal YOUNG, D.D., and Rev. E. OGDEN, with James D. ANDERSON, Ruling Elder, from the church of Middlesex. The number of members was twenty, of whom sixteen were from the church of Middlesex and four from the Butler Church. Two of the members, Joseph GRAHAM and Thomas MARTIN, were elected, ordained and installed Ruling Elders of the church on the day of its organization. Subsequently, John EMRICK, James H. GRAHAM and George WELSH were added to the number of Elders. The membership of this church is now about ninety. The house of worship, a tasty and comfortable frame building, was completed early in the summer of 1867, and dedicated June 22 of the same year, with services conducted by Rev. Loyal YOUNG, Rev. William I. BROUGH and Rev. E. OGDEN. There have been no installed pastors. The following have served as stated supplies: Rev. James S. BOYD, two years; Rev. William I. BROUGH, five years; and Rev. J. W. HAMILTON, two [p. 287] years. The present stated supply is Rev. E. OGDEN, who began his labors in 1872.


This church is situated in the western part of Jefferson Township. In 1864, Rev. William HUTCHINSON began preaching in the schoolhouse in District No. 4, and, April 12 of the same year, a congregation was organized, under the name of Shiloh U. P. Church, by Rev. William GALBREATH, who had been appointed by the U. P. Presbytery of Butler at its session of January, 1864, for this duty. The congregation consisted of thirty-one members. At the same time (April 12), John SHRADER, John McILVAIN and David LOGAN were elected and installed Ruling Elders.

Immediately after the organization, steps were taken to build a house of worship, the congregation meanwhile continuing to meet at the schoolhouse. The church edifice, begun in 1864, was finished and dedicated in 1865. It is 33 x 40 feet, well finished and convenient, and cost from $1,500 to $1,800.

The first pastor, Mr. HUTCHINSON, remained about ten years. Rev. James M. IMBRIE and Rev. S. B. STEWART have been his successors. At various times, the church has been without a pastor, and has been supplied with preaching by direction of the Presbytery. During Mr. HUTCHINSON's stay, the church had at one time about seventy members. The present membership is about fifty. Shiloh and Clinton together form one appointment.


Rev. Charles LYNN was the leader in establishing this church. The house was built in 1871, at a cost of about $2,500. The organization was effected under Rev. C. W. SEAMAN, who was the pastor until 1876. Under him the house was dedicated. The membership at first numbered ten or twelve. There are now twenty-one supporters. The first Elders elected were William MONTAG and John COOPER; the first Trustees, J. E. MONTAG, G. STEINHAUSER and Frank FRUTH.

After Rev. SEAMAN left, the church had no pastor, but the pulpit was supplied by various preachers until 1881, when Rev. August REIBERT, the present pastor, was installed.

The land upon which the church stands was donated to the society by Judge McJUNKIN.


This church was organized with eight members, February 25, 1877. A house was erected during the winter of 1876-77, and was dedicated by the pastor during the same winter. The cost of the house was over $1,500. As it was built upon an insecure foundation, and during the winter time, when the frost came out of the ground, it nearly fell down, and considerable expense was necessary to right it. The first Trustees elected were John HENDRICKSON, Samuel CALDWELL and Levi HEIDRICK. The present membership is fourteen.


The Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Hannahstown and vicinity (limited) was organized in September, 1859, and has since been doing business satisfactorily. It has insured a large number of patrons, and its standing is excellent. The first officers of the company were: A. L. KRAUSE, President; C. J. SMITH, Secretary; and T. H. TOLLEY, Treasurer.


The citizens of Jefferson Township and Saxonburg had some experience in oil business. Beginning in 1870, a company organized and drilled for oil on the farm of George WELSH, near FRAZIER's Mill. Oil was struck, and it was thought that a valuable deposit had been found. Owing to mismanagement, the works had to be abandoned, and some $20,000 was lost in consequence. The Directors of the Thorn Creek Oil Company were E. A. HELMBOLD, James GRIBBEN, Alex WELSH, H.F. ADERHOLD, H. OSBORN, Robert DOUTHETT, John WAREHAM, Francis LAUBE, H. T. TOLLEY, William BURTNER, John BULFORD and J. Q. A. KENNEDY.


This village, on the line of the West Penn Railroad in the northeastern part of Jefferson Township, was formerly known as COYLE's Station, but received its present name on account of the supposition that it was situated in or near the oil belt of the eastern part of the county. Great Belt contains about twenty houses, one church, one store, one hotel, one carriage and blacksmith shop, one saddlery and harness shop and one shoemaker's shop. In 1879, it contained a machine shop and several mercantile establishments.

In 1876, the site of the present village, then known as the Gottlieb WOLF farm, was purchased by David KIRK and subsequently owned by KIRK and DILWORTH, who laid out lots and commenced selling them in 1876.

A post office was established in 1870, Michael SWEENEY, Postmaster. The office was then known as COYLE's, but the name has since been changed, and is now the same as the station. The second Postmaster was L. HEIDRICK, succeeded by L. HARTENSTEIN, the present incumbent.

Before the village was laid out, a hotel was erected by M. and P. SHIELDS, its present proprietors.

[p. 288] Michael SWEENEY was the first merchant and built the first store. It is now occupied by L. HARTENSTEIN & Co., who have much enlarged the building. This firm began business in February, 1880. One of the partners, Mr. William J. REDICK, has been employed in mercantile business in this place since 1874. Mr. Emery J. COLLINS acts as clerk for this firm.


The borough of Saxonburg, containing about three hundred inhabitants, is most pleasantly situated in the southern part of Jefferson Township. Its surroundings are beautiful; on every side broad acres of fertile farming land, interspersed with pleasant groves, extend for a distance of several miles, and embrace some of the most attractive rural scenery to be found in the county. The site of the principal portion of the borough is a gentle elevation, which commands a good view of the surrounding country. Within the town, neatness and good order prevail, while carefully kept gardens, pretty flower beds and graceful rows of shade trees bear witness that its inhabitants are people of refinement and taste.

The houses and business establishments of the place, though few in number and not pretentious in external appearance, nevertheless have about them those evidences of thrift which are apparent even to the most casual observer. For a borough of it size, Saxonburg represents a great variety of business interests, and is a thriving and prosperous place. Peopled by Germans, their characteristic industry, economy and business enterprise have contributed to make the town not only a pleasant place in which to live, but also to place it far ahead of other more populous boroughs in point of wealth and commercial importance.

Saxonburg is nine miles southeast of Butler and three miles west of Saxonburg Station, on the West Penn Railroad. Its attractions - pure air, good water and a picturesque location - have caused it to become quite a favorite summer resort during recent years, and the number of health and pleasure seekers who escape from the crowded city to find repose and health in this quiet and hospitable community increases with each returning summer, so that three large hotels no more than suffice for their accommodation.


The borough of Saxonburg was incorporated by order of the Court of Quarter Sessions, August 11, 1846. The first election was held September 5, 1846. E. MAURHOFF was the first Burgess.


In 1830, there appeared in Muehlhausen, Thueringen (formerly in Old Saxony, now in the Kingdom of Prussia) two German-American citizens, who had come from the United States to revisit their former homes. At that time, many Germans were anxious to emigrate to America, and the presence of these visitors gave the people of Muehlhausen an opportunity to gain some knowledge of the land beyond the sea - an opportunity which the would-be emigrants were not slow to take advantage of. Indeed, so many questions were asked these Americans that, in order that all might be answered fully, they determined to hold a public meeting and set forth the knowledge they were in possession of. The meeting was largely attended, and, as a result of it, immediate measures were taken to organize a colony for the purpose of making a settlement in America. In 1831, the plan being to some extent matured, Charles F. and John A. ROEBLING, of Muehlhausen, were chosen to act as advance agents, go to America, purchase such a tract of land as should, in their opinion, be adapted to the wants of the proposed colony, and communicate to their friends at home the results of their mission. Accordingly, the two ROEBLINGS came to the United States. After making various inquiries, while in Pittsburgh, they learned of the cheap lands then offered for sale in this part of Pennsylvania, and at length decided to purchase in Butler County. They bought from Mrs. Sarah COLLINS, of Pittsburgh, who had inherited it from her father, Stephen LOWRY, land embracing in all about sixteen thousand acres. The price paid was $1.25 per acre and it was sold out to the colonists upon their arrival at only a slight advance upon these figures.


The ROEBLINGS came to the site selected for the town, and began the work of pioneers upon a farm outside the site selected for the future village. In 1832, they commenced making preparations for the arrival of the settlers. The emigrants from Saxony, about three hundred families, altogether, embarked at Bremen, upon three different vessels, for America. But few of them, however, ever came to Saxonburg. Some had decided upon other locations before they left their native land; others, while en route; still others, after arriving in the United States, were prevailed upon by colonization agents to go to other parts of the country. Two of the vessels mentioned landed at Baltimore, and the third at Philadelphia. None of the third ship's passengers came to Saxonburg at first, nor did any from that vessel settle here permanently . The first party of settlers reached Saxonburg August 24, 1832. They left Muehlhausen May 1, waited some time at Bremen for a vessel, were fifty-eight days upon their ocean voyage, and had a long and tedious wagon journey from Baltimore to [p. 289] their destination, through a country with whose customs and language they were almost totally unacquainted. The history of their experiences would fill a volume, but lack of space forbids details.

The settlers of 1832 were as follows: Charles and John A. ROEBLING, F. BAEHR, A. EISENHART, G. KINNE, William FUHRMANN, C. G. LAMB, F. KUNZ, A. STUEPGEN, C. STUEPGEN, A.C. BERNIGAU, J.H. MUDER, G. FRANKE, C. TOLLEY. All were from Muehlhausen, with the following exceptions: Charles TOLLEY and Christopher STUEPGEN came here from Philadelphia, whither they had emigrated six years previously; August KUNZ and C.G. LAMB were from ZWICKAU, in Saxony. Except KINNE, FUHRMANN and KUNZ, all remained and became permanent settlers. Of those who arrived in 1832, there are only four survivors now in Saxonburg, viz.: Christopher STUEPGEN, C.G. LAMB, T.H. TOLLEY (son of Charles TOLLEY) and John E. MUDER (son of J.H. MUDER).

Among the first arrivals, there were but two who had a practical acquaintance with agriculture - MUDER and LAMB. The others were merchants or mechanics, the most of whom had followed their trades for livelihood and resided in the city. Of course the work of clearing land and tilling it was a species of labor in which their first efforts were not of the most successful character. But they possessed to a remarkable degree the valuable attribute industry, and, though many of their first attempts were ludicrous and miserable failures, they yet persevered until they became adepts at handling the ax and agricultural implements. It was not only desirable that they should subdue the earth and make it fruitful, but it was an absolute necessity. They must "conquer or die." Their scanty funds would soon be exhausted, and then, if their land failed to produce, starvation stared them in the face.

But, in spite of all obstacles, the little settlement advanced, slowly, to be sure, but there was progress. During the year 1832, three frame buildings were erected, and six log cabins. The first frame house completed was that built for the preacher, Rev. William FUHRMANN. Then the ROEBLING house, still standing, was finished; also BAEHR's dwelling house. These were the only frame buildings in the place for many years, and, indeed, the number of log cabins remained nearly the same for several years. A settler of 1837 says that Saxonburg, when he first saw it, consisted of about a dozen houses - three on Water street and the balance on Main street.

As soon as these settlers had established their families in their rude dwellings, and made such provisions for their comfort as they were able to make with the limited resources at their command, many of the men left their homes and went to Pittsburgh and elsewhere, where they sought employment. This means of earning money was practiced for several years, and was successful to the extent that absolute want was averted; but, as may be inferred, the progress of improvement within Saxonburg was slow in consequence of it.

Early in 1833, the settlement received an addition to its numbers by the arrival of E. MAURHOFF and F. D. SCHWIERING, who came from the Kingdom of Hanover. Others who came in during the same year, and for several years following, were dismayed by the dismal unattractiveness of the place, and soon left to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Every newcomer was heartily welcomed, and every possible inducement and encouragement was offered for him to stay, and some were thus led to locate here who otherwise would have left. The hospitality of the colonists was unbounded, and, in spite of their discouraging prospects, sociability, good cheer and friendship prevailed. "A generous spirit and a cheerful mind in the midst of adversity" is considered by the poet Horace as one of the greatest boons conferred upon mortals, and it is pleasant to reflect that such sentiments pervaded in the minds of these pioneers of Saxonburg.

As it was late in the year when the settlers of 1832 began their work, winter soon checked the work of clearing and improving the lands, so that but little was under cultivation in 1833. The crop of that year was consequently an unimportant one. The next year, however, it was hoped that such a crop as would be of material aid could be secured. But a frost in the month of June, 1834, disappointed this hope, and compelled the settlers to get along as best they could, with but slight returns for the labor they had expended upon their fields and gardens.

In 1834, J.G. HELMBOLD arrived in Saxonburg, coming directly from Prussia. He is still living west of the town, and is now eighty-five years of age. Upon his arrival, he found the settlement in a discouraged condition, or in a state of mind closely bordering upon discouragement. What wonder if there was some sighing for a return to the Fatherland, considering what the settlers had thus far endured? But Mr. HELMBOLD had come here to stay, and he advised the others to stay and hope for brighter days to come. He bought 1,000 acres of land in and near the town, and this act no doubt had some influence on the minds of such as were ready to leave, inducing them to remain, for surely no man would make so large a purchase in the wilderness if he foresaw no possibilities of gain therefrom.

In 1835, several more settlers arrived and located in or near Saxonburg. All who had thus far arrived were men of education and ability, who were quick [p. 290] to adapt themselves to their circumstances, and profit by the lessons of experience. The little village gradually assumed an improved appearance, and a ray of light seemed to be glimmering through the overhanging clouds. But in 1838 the effects of the panic began to be experienced, and, during that year and several succeeding years, the settlers of Saxonburg came to realize fully the significance of the words "hard times."

The growth of the town was slow but constant. As the country about it became settled more and more, the borough became the trading-place for the people of an extensive region. One by one the elements of solidity and permanency were added, until to-day Saxonburg is one of the busiest and wealthiest small towns in the State.

It is but fitting that this sketch of Saxonburg's early history should be followed by a reference to its founders, as well as by mention of others who have been prominently identified with its growth and development.


John A. ROEBLING, who may be looked upon as the founder of Saxonburg, was untiring in his efforts to promote the welfare of the little colony in the wilderness. He was born in Muehlhausen, and educated in architecture and civil engineering - two branches of science for which he had a special fondness, and in which he displayed remarkable talent. Coming to Saxonburg, he devoted himself to farming. The house erected for his dwelling, now the residence of Julius RIEDEL, was one of the first built in the town. It is of wood and brick, the walls being brick, with wood on both sides. The brick used in its contruction were manufactured by Mr. ROEBLING. After seeing his little settlement well established, finding that he could make but little or no money farming, Mr. ROEBLING went to Harrisburg and obtained work as an engineer upon the railroad then being constructed between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Here he obtained work for many laborers from Saxonburg. After working for a time as Second Engineer, Mr. ROEBLING was at length promoted to the position of First or Chief Engineer, Mr. ROGERS, the Chief Engineer, having become ill and unable to go on with the work. ROEBLING found it necessary to make several changes in the original plans, and though he met with much opposition on this account, he nevertheless proved to the satisfaction of all interested that these alterations were of vital importance. Later, he worked as engineer upon the canal at New Lisbon, Ohio.

In 1842, he began the work which made for him a lasting fame and a large fortune, besides entirely revolutionizing the art of bridge building throughout the civilized world. In Prussia, he had thoroughly studied bridge architecture, and had submitted to the foremost engineers of that nation a plan for a suspension bridge across the River Ruhr. They declared it an impracticable, impossible project. Other engineers had planned suspension bridges; one had been built in Frieburg, Switzerland, and others in Paris, but all were failures. Despite of this, Mr. ROEBLING still thought a suspension bridge, both durable and substantial could be made. It had therefore long been a study with him to invent a cable of the necessary strength, as well as how to place the foundations so that they can be secure. After various experiments, in 1842 he produced a wire cable, scientifically constructed. These ropes were made at his home in Saxonburg, by Mr. ROEBLING, assisted by Mr. Julius RIEDEL. The same year, he secured a patent upon his invention. The first rope put into practical use, where its strength and utility were fully demonstrated, was at the Sharpsburg Ferry, across the Allegheny River. He afterward went before the State Board of Public Works and urged the adoption of his cable on the canals and inclined planes. By assiduous perseverance, he at last obtained a contract, which he filled in the winter of 1842-43. He personally attended to the work, and had the satisfaction of seeing his cables in successful use.

In 1844, he built the suspension wire aqueduct across the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh, and his next work was a suspension bridge across the Monongahela, in the same city. In 1850, he erected a large establishment for the manufacture of wire ropes at Trenton, N.J. He next constructed six aqueducts for the Hudson Canal Company in New York State. In 1852-55, the suspension bridge across the Niagara River, a wonderful triumph of man's inventive genius, was planned, built and completed by this indefatigable worker. In 1856-57, the Cincinnati and Covington bridge across the Ohio, and in 1858-60 the bridge across the Allegheny at Pittsburgh, were added to his works.

He next conceived the most daring and gigantic project in the history of modern engineering - the East River bridge between New York and Brooklyn, which is now in process of construction. The bridge is over a mile in length, and, when completed, will be the largest suspension bridge in the world. In 1866, Mr. ROEBLING received an injury which resulted in this death. A passing ferry-boat drove a floating piece of timber upon his foot and crushed it, as he stood engrossed in his work. Lockjaw ensued, and, after severe suffering, he died, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. As an instance of his wonderful endurance, it should be stated that, the day before his death, as he lay helpless and suffering, he projected [p. 291] and made a drawing of an apparatus to be used in lifting and moving himself in bed. This plan he fully explained to his attendant, Mr. Edmund RIEDEL, and directed that the apparatus be forthwith constructed. The next morning he died.

Mr. ROEBLING left an estate valued at one and a quarter millions of dollars. His four sons still continue the manufacture of the wire-ropes at Trenton, under the name of the John A. ROEBLING Sons Company. Washington ROEBLING supervises the work upon the great bridge from his window, by the aid of a telescope, being confined to the house on account of injuries received while endeavoring to complete the work of his father.

Charles F. ROEBLING, an older brother of John A., died in Saxonburg in 1838. It is said that his marriage was the first that occurred in the new town. He wedded Miss Wilhelmina FELBER, who is still living.

The first birth that occurred in the town was that of a son born to Mr. and Mrs. C.G. LAMB. His name is Frederick LAMB and he now lives in Iowa. He was born December 17, 1832.

Mr. C.G. LAMB relates the following concerning his coming to Saxonburg: In April, 1832, he left his home in Zwickau, and, after eighteen days' journeying, arrived at Bremen, where he was obliged to wait seven weeks before he could obtain passage on a vessel for Baltimore. He was accompanied by his wife and one child and by Mr. KUNZ, wife and child. The voyage from Bremen to Baltimore lasted seventy-two days. From Baltimore to Saxonburg was an eighteen days' journey for the two families. They traveled by wagon, over the mountains and along roads, which were indescribably rough and difficult.

Christopher STUEPGEN, who emigrated from Saxony to America in 1826, and from Philadelphia to Saxonburg in 1832, is still a resident of this place. His father, Adolphus STUEPGEN, also came to Saxonburg at the same time.

T.H. TOLLEY, Esq., has resided in Saxonburg since it was founded. Here he has served as Justice of the Peace twenty-two years.

John E. MUDER came to this place in 1832, being then about twelve years of age. Since 1841, he has carried on his present business of cabinet-making in the town.

H. F. ADERHOLD came to Saxonburg in 1833. He started the first hotel in the place. Mr. ADERHOLD was a baker by trade, and carried on that business in connection with his hotel.

The first minister in Saxonburg was Rev. William FUHRMAN, who came with the first settlers. He was of the Evangelical Church. He remained but a short time, on account of a lack of support.

J. G. HELMBOLD, still living near the borough, is a settler of 1834. His sons, E. A. and Theodore, are merchants in Saxonburg.

Francis LAUBE came to Saxonburg in 1837, and engaged in brewing, which business he followed several years. In 1865-69, he kept hotel in the Union House. In 1875, he bought of C. MIGHEL the property which he now owns, enlarged and remodeled it, and opened business again as a hotel-keeper.

Frederick August HOFFMAN located in Saxonburg in 1837. His son, Charles HOFFMAN, learned the trade of cabinet-maker and followed it in Pittsburgh until 1846, when he enlisted in the service of his country in the Mexican war as a member of Company K, First Pennsylvania Regiment. After serving through the war, in 1848 he settled in Saxonburg. He was also a soldier in the late war, serving as Orderly and Lieutenant. He has held the office of Justice of the Peace, and, in 1857, was elected County Commissioner. Since 1871, he has been Postmaster.

E.F. MUDER came from Prussia to this place in 1845, and has since followed farming and hotel keeping.

Squire E. MAURHOFF, who has resided in Saxonburg almost from its beginning, has served as Justice of the Peace, and been prominent in the affairs of the town.

John DAVIS came from County Donegal, Ireland, where he was born in 1768, and settled in Middlesex Township in 1812. He was a farmer, and died in July of 1852.


The first schools in Saxonburg were private schools, conducted on a limited scale, as the people were too poor to pay much for the instruction of their children, however ardently they might desire it. There were no schools of importance until after the passage of the free school law.

In 1838, a log schoolhouse was erected, with a high and steep roof. Benjamin DOUTHETT, who knew not a word of German, was employed as teacher. In 1839, 1840 and 1841, a Pennsylvania German teacher named EMMINGER had charge of the school and taught both English and German.

Since 1841, only English has been taught in the district school of this place, though instruction in German has been given in Private schools, usually taught by the preachers. John GOLDEN, the present teacher of the public schools, entered upon his work here in 1879.


The German Evangelical Protestant Church of Saxonburg was organized at a meeting held October 24, 1835, when the following officers were elected: John HECKART, President; J.G. HELMBOLD, Vice [p. 292] President; J.M. KRUMPE, C.G. LAMB, Ernst HERTING, J.A. ROEBLING, Elders; Emil MAURHOFF, Secretary.

The first pastor was Rev. Joseph SCHUYLEY, who was elected April 1, 1836. Meetings were held at houses and sometimes in barns, until a church edifice was erected in 1837. The lot upon which the church stands was donated to the congregation by John A. ROEBLING. Money was obtained for building the house by subscription, the first list being started in 1835. F.D. SCHWIETRING, William WALKER, John HECKART, who remained until 1881, were pastors. The church now has no regular pastor, but is supplied with preaching by different ministers. The present membership is about fifty. The church has enjoyed a good degree of prosperity.


This church was organized by Rev. J. MELHORN in 1869, with about twenty-five members. A building committee, consisting of the following members, was chosen: John E. MUDER, Isaac LEFEVRE, William BURTNER, Michael STEP and Thomas GREER. Work upon a church edifice was immediately commenced, and the same year a neat brick structure, 40 x 50 feet, was erected at a cost of $2,800. The first church officers chosen were Isaac LEFEVRE, Deacon; Thomas GREER and William BURTNER, Elders.

The first pastor, Rev. J. MELHORN, was succeeded by Rev. J. H. A. KITZMILLER and John A. ROEBLING and were the committee appointed to solicit aid. The building committee were J. G. HELMBOLD, Emil MAURHOFF and F.C. ROEBLING. The house is 28 x 43 feet, pretty and convenient. It was built without a steeple, but in 1862, a church bell was bought and subsequently a belfry was added.

In 1860, a lot on which to erect a parsonage was purchased from J. A. ROEBLING, but owing to a lack of means, the building was postponed until 1868. In that year, $300 were raised by subscription and the balance necessary by a church fair.

From 1852 to 1869 an organ, made by Fritz STARKE, one of the congregation, was used in this church, then replaced by a new one. The congregation is now strong and prosperous. The church, which started with about forty members, has now about seventy supporters.


As has been stated, there was a great amount of sociability among the first settlers of Saxonburg. To beguile the time various expedients were resorted to. In 1835, a German dramatic club, known as the Thespian Society, was organized. Among its originators were E.A. HELMBOLD, E. MAURHOFF and Charles MOSHER. This society gave entertainments of a musical and literary character every winter until 1880, then the younger generation, being more English than German, it was suffered to pass into oblivion. Dr. William KOCH was the President of this society for many years, and took a great interest in all of its proceedings.

The Schuetzenfest, the original form of the Harvest Home Entertainments was started in 1840. This is an annual "fest" for shooting, social recreation and amusement. It was originated by C. G. LAMB, with whom Dr. KOCH, H. ADERHOLD, Francis LAUBE, Christopher STUEPGEN, E.A. HELMBOLD, E. MAURHOFF, J.E. MUDER and other citizens co-operated. For about ten years it was conducted as a purely German festival. Later, the English neighbors joined the annual festivities, and strangers came from far and wide to participate. Much interest is manifested at each gathering, and Saxonburg is crowded with visitors on these occasions. The Harvest Home is usually held the last week in August or the first week in September, and the exercises are continued from Tuesday till Saturday.


* Contributed by H.T. MERKEL, Esq.

Saxonia Lodge, No. 496, I.O.O.F., located in the borough of Saxonburg, Butler Co., Penn., was instituted November 11, 1853, by D.D. G. M., L. Z. MITCHELL, the hall being in the house of Ch. VOGELEY. It was founded by eleven charter members, viz., E. MAURHOFF, E.A. HELMBOD, H. Th. MERKEL, Val HOEH, Peter HOEH, William BURTNER, D. KELLEY, Christopher VOGELEY, M. NORTON, W. CHANDLER, A. MUNKS.

The first officers elected were E. MAURHOFF, N.G.; E.A. HELMBOLD, V.G.; H. Theodore MERKEL, Secretary; V. HOEH, Treasurer.

In 1861, a hall was built upon a lot on Main street, and dedicated in October of the same year by D.D. G. M. William HARVEY. The lodge has initiated since its formation 304 members. Out of the membership seventeen have died, and a number have taken their withdrawal cards to become charter members of Scott Lodge, Natrona Lodge and Tarentum Lodge, all located in Allegheny County.

The present membership (May, 1882) is ninety-three, including thirty-three Past Grands, viz., E. MAURHOFF, H. Thomas MERKEL, W. BURTEUR, J.E. MUDER, Philip SNYDER, J.C. SMITH, F. LAUBE, I. LEFEVRE, William EBERT, F. STARKE, Philip BURTNER, L. LEFEVRE, Christopher REDICK, H. BURTNER, A. KRAUSE, J.W. REDICK, J.W. WELSH, Charles HOFFMAN, L.Y WELSH, R. ELLIOTT, J.H. KING, A. MAURHOFF, M.N. GREER, W.C. SMITH, M.S. GREER, S. SNYDER, W. HARVEY, George S. GIBSON, D. SPIRER, E. STUEPGEN, H.C. LENSNER, E.E. MAURHOFF, H.G. MUDER.

[p. 293] During its existence the lodge has paid $4,432 for the relief of members; $442 for the relief of widows and orphans; $549 for donations, and $583 for funeral dues. Its present financial standing is excellent, it holding $3,000 worth of property, embracing real estate, securities, cash in treasury, regalia and furniture, and Widows' and Ophans' Fund.


*This sketch and the succeeding one were furnished by E. A. Helmbold.

Herder Lodge, No. 279, Knights of Pythias, Saxonburg, Penn., was instituted December 29, 1870, by District Deputy Grand Chancellor Michael HOCH, of Pittsburgh, with the following charter members: E. A. HELMBOLD, Carl LINN, Richard SWEET, Thomas H. TOLLEY, Joseph KOHNFILDER, A.W. SCHMERTZ, Francis LAUBE, William WACHSMUTH, H. DRESHER, H. ADERHOLD, E. HELLER, Adolph RICHTER, Henry HESSE, Charles RAABE, Henry HORN, Francis RUEDIGER, Christian RUDERT, H. LEPPOLDT, William DRESHER, William SCHROTH, John FLOHR, G. WETZEL, Carl LEDERER, Christian SCHROTH, Christian RAABE and Gottfried REINHOLD.

Following are the names of the first officers elected: Carl LINN, Past Chancellor; E.A. HELMBOLD, Chancellor Commander; Richard SWEET, Vice Chancellor; Thomas H. TOLLEY, Keeper of Records and Seals; Joseph KOHNFELDER, Master of Finance; A.W. SCHMERTZ, Master of Exchequer; Francis LAUBE, Master of Arms.

For the first five years the lodge met in a hall erected by E.F. MUDER, next in a building owned by William SCHROTH, which the lodge has since purchased from him, paying $700 for it.

One hundred members have been admitted since the organization of the lodge. There are now thirty-five members in good standing. The proceedings of the lodge are conducted in the German language. The lodge is in a good condition financially, and is in every way prosperous.


Saxonburg at present contains three commodious two-story hotels. In 1866, the old hotel on the site of the present Saxonburg Hotel, was purchased from Henry STUEPGEN by Joseph KOHNFELDER. In 1868, it was burned and the present house as erected by Mr. KOHNFELDER. The Union Hotel was built in 1863 by its present proprietor, E.F. MUDER. It is two stories, forty by ninety feet. The LAUBE House, Francis LAUBE, proprieter, was opened in 1875.


In 1833, the first store was opened by MAURHOFF & SCHWITRING, in a log building, the largest in the place. After two years, GOSEWITCH & GRAEFE, succeeded as merchants, then BERNIGAN & GOSEWITCH and HELMBOLD & MERKEL. The partnership of HELMBOLD & MERKEL was dissolved after a short time, and Mr. MERKEL established a separate store. Mr. E.A. HELMBOLD, who entered upon mercantile life in 1847, next took Charles STUNNEL as partner, who remained with him twelve years, since which time he has managed the business. His store is now tended by his son-in-law, Mr. T. KRAUSE and Mr. Theodore M. BETTINGER.

The present mercantile and industrial establishments of the town are represented by the following firms: General stores, E.A. HELMBOLD, Theodore HELMBOLD; Drug store, Drs. E. & H. MERSHON; grocery, G. MAURHOFF; tobacco and cigars, A. STUEPGEN; harness shops, William SCHROTH & Son, E. STUEPGEN; cabinet-makers' shops, John E. MUDER, Jacob NEHER: tin shop, H.A. STEIPEL; plasterer, J.T. HICKMAN. Also one painter, one marble cutter, one blacksmith, four shoemakers, one barber, etc.

The first blacksmith in the place was Jonas TIETER; the second A. GRIMM.

Among the first shoemakers were Frederick TRECKSLER, A. STUEPGEN and ZIEGENSPECK. It was customary for the shoemaker to go to the houses of his customers to work.

About the year 1838, a post office was established. Mail was received once a week over the Butler & Freeport route. Postmasters since the office was founded: A. BERNIGAN, Frederick SCHILLEY, Christopher STUEPGEN, E. MAURHOFF, Charles HOFFMAN.

E. BAEHR and A. EISENHART started a carding mill in this place soon after it was settled. The mill was run by horse power.

Land for the site of a schoolhouse, church and cemetery was donated to the town by John A. ROEBLING.


Saxonburg Borough - 1847, Joseph SCHEELEY, Emil MAURHOFF; 1851, Frederick E. SAUPE; 1852, Emil MAURHOFF; 1854, Theodore H. TOLLEY; 1857, Francis LAUBE; 1859, Charles HOFFMAN; 1862, Francis LAUBE; 1864, Charles HOFFMAN; 1865, Theodore H. TOLLEY; 1868, H. Theodore MERKEL; 1870, Theodore H. TOLLEY, 1873, H.T. MERKEL; 1875, Theodore H. TOLLEY; 1878, H. Theodore MERKEL; 1880, Theodore H. TOLLEY.



The grandfather of this gentleman, Isaac LEFEVRE, Sr., was a native of France, and as early as the year 1800 became a resident of the present township of Winfield, Butler County, Penn. He served with the Pennsylvania troops during the war of 1812-15. [p. 294] His children were Samuel, Isaac, Joseph, Jesse, Nancy and Mary. The father, however, his wife, and all his children except Jesse, removed to the State of Ohio at an early day, and became identified ever afterward with the interests of that region.

Jesse LEFEVRE married Catharine STEPP, but died while still a young man. His children were John, Levi, Isaac and Nancy, who died in infancy. Of the sons of Jesse LEFEVRE, all of whom reside in Butler County), Isaac, the youngest, was born June 30, 1822. In 1845, he married Miss Hannah COOPER, whose parents were early settlers in Jefferson Township, and whose father, William COOPER, also served as a soldier during the war of 1812-15. The children of Isaac and Hannah LEFEVRE were Catharine; William J., deceased; Eliza J., deceased; Isaac S., Lydia E., David W. and Susie I.

Mr. LEFEVRE has lived where he now resides since 1846, not an acre having been improved until his occupation of it. He is a member of St. Luke's Lutheran Church at Saxonburg, and has been a reliable member of the Democratic party since attaining his majority.


This gentleman was born on the premises now owned and occupied by him May 25, 1798, thus establishing his claim of being one of the earliest pioneers, as well as one of the oldest inhabitants in the present township of Jefferson.

His father, Patrick GRAHAM, Sr., though of Scotch origin, was born in County Tyrone, Ireland. When a young man the latter came to America, remained for a few years in Westmoreland County, Penn., where he married Miss Elizabeth McKEE, and where three of his children were born, viz., Rosanna, who afterward married Alexander MARTIN, Joseph and Daniel. In 1796, the father with all his family, moved from Westmoreland County, and located upon an unimproved 300-acre tract, still for the most part in possession of his posterity. Here were born other children - Patrick, Jr., Elizabeth, who married James PRYOR; James, John and Harrison GRAHAM, and of all the children of Patrick GRAHAM, Sr., mentioned, Patrick, Jr., and Harrison are the only survivors. Patrick, Sr., attained the great age of ninety-seven years, while his oldest son, Joseph, besides serving as a soldier in the war of 1812, officiated as a Commissioner of Butler County many years ago.

Patrick GRAHAM, Jr., the immediate subject of this sketch, experienced all the privations and hardships incident to pioneer life in the wilds of Butler County. He became part owner of the homestead in 1820, and, in 1830, he married Miss Rebecca WELCH, who is still the sharer of his joys and sorrows. She was born in Ireland July 5, 1810, but came with her parents to America when but six months old. Her people remained in Philadelphia for eleven years, then made Butler County their home for a brief period and finally, all except her, became residents of the State of Kentucky. Mr. and Mrs. GRAHAM have had no children. When William S. COCHRAN was but four years old they adopted him, and he, with his wife and children, still reside with them. Mr. GRAHAM now owns 200 acres of land, under a good state of cultivation. He has been a life-long Democrat, and is a member of the Summit Presbyterian Church.


This gentleman, one of the most prominent citizens of Butler County, and especially of Jefferson Township, was born at Sunthausen, near Langensalza, Prussia, June 18, 1819. His father, John G. HELMBOLD, was a large land owner and sheep-grower in the locality mentioned, but, wishing to keep larger flocks than it were possible to do in Prussia, he visited the United States in the summer of 1834, intending to go to the great West in quest of good and cheap lands suitable for the purposes required. Reaching Pittsburgh in August of that year, his journey was delayed by reason of the unfavorable stage of water then prevailing in the Ohio River. He then concluded to visit Saxonburg, where many old friends from he [sic] Fatherland resided, and as a result his farther jouneyings westward were indefinitely postponed and he became the owner of 1,000 acres of land situated near the village of Saxonburg. He at once began improving his purchase, and the following year (1835) was joined by his wife and children, the latter named as follows: Earnest A., Emil, Pauline, who became the wife of August NAGLER; Nathalia, who married George SCHMIDT; Bertha, who married a Mr. BETTINGER, of St. Louis, Mo.; Othelia, who married Gotlieb STARKE; Mina, who married Frederick STARKE; Matilda, who died as the wife of Charles SCHREPPERD; Emma, who married Louis BIEHL; and Theodore, now a merchant in Saxonburg.

Earnest A. HELMBOLD, the oldest member of this family of children, was a college student and preparing himself for the ministry at the time of leaving Prussia for the United States. This removal, however, changed his entire course in life, for it necessitated the abandonment of his studies and the adoption of the pursuits of agriculture. On the 28th of March, 1845, he married Miss Christina NAGLER, who is still living, and to them have been born six sons and six daughters, of whom but five (daughters) are now living, viz., Hetwig, Mina, Amelia, Anna and Othelia. Mr. HELMBOLD began business as a merchant in Saxonburg in 1847, and is still numbered as one of the most successful and active business men [p. 295] of that town. He owns, besides, 600 acres of land in this and in adjoining townships. Some ten or twelve years go, he was the Democratic candidate for member of Assembly of this district, but, although he carried Butler County by a handsome majority, he was defeated by the heavy Republican vote of Lawrence. Mr. HELMBOLD is a leading member of the Evangelical Protestant Church of Saxonburg. His father, now eighty-six years of age, resides in the borough of Saxonburg.


Lewis HARTENSTEIN, merchant at Great Belt, was born in Jefferson Township, Butler County, in 1846. His parents, Henry and Augusta HARTENSTEIN, are still living and are old residents of this county.

Mr. HARTENSTEIN was brought up on a farm and received a common-school education. In the fall of 1863, he enlisted in Company G, Twenty-seventh Regiment of Pennsylvania Infantry, and served until the close of the war, participating in the battles of Chickamauga, Resaca, New Hope Church, Smyrna Church, the siege of Atlanta, Jonesboro, etc.

In 1876, Mr. HARTENSTEIN engaged in the mercantile business at Great Belt, keeping a general store. His business ability and good judgment insured success, and he is now doing a large and prosperous business. He has the only store at Great Belt, employs three clerks and receives the custom of a wide extent of country. He deals largely in produce, and in addition to his other duties, is Postmaster, ticket and express agent, so that he is kept busy constantly. Mr. HARTENSTEIN it [sic] an energetic and progressive man, and is fast laying the foundations of a successful business career.

He was married, in 1874, to Miss Caroline E. DIVENER, of Donegal Township, this county, daughter of Henry and Theresa DIVENER. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. HARTENSTEIN - Clara and Mollie.


George H. DIVENER (the father of the gentleman whose name heads this article) was born at Sunthausen, near Langensalza, Prussia, in 1801. He there married Miss Doratha M. KAUFHOLD, and there were born his children, named as follows: Henry, deceased; Frederick, who served in the One Hundred and Fifty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers during the war of the rebellion, and now resides in Clarion County, Penn.; Charles, now of Donegal Township; William, who now resides in Hannahstown, Jefferson Township, Butler County, Penn., and Caroline, the present wife of Louis HARTENSTEIN, at Great Belt.

The family came from Prussia to America in 1847, and resided in Winfield Township two years. They then removed to Brady's Bend, Armstrong County, Penn., where they remained until 1858, when a permanent home was established in Donegal Township, Butler County, Penn., where the father (George H. DIVENER) died in 1867. His wife, born in 1809, died in August, 1880.

William the fourth son of George H. DIVENER, was born August 27, 1843. In 1869, he married Miss Anna BAKER, of Millerstown, Butler Co., Penn. Of eight children born to them four died in infancy. Those living are Caroline E., Gertrude S., Charles F. and Lilly L. Mr. DIVENER has been a resident of Jefferson Township for five years, and besides his elegant residence at Hannahstown, he owns a beautiful farm near the same place. He is a member of the German Lutheran Church, and politically is a Democrat of pronounced views.


Francis ALWINE was born in York County, Penn., June 7, 1840; his father, John ALWINE, was a native of the same county and a descendant of a German family by that name who were early settlers in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The latter was a miller by occupation, and, in 1853, brought his family to the premises now owned by the subject of this sketch. His wife's maiden name was Catharine LAWRENCE, and their children were Francis, Lewis, Sylvester, Sebastian, Dominick, Eliza, Mary and Anna. During the war of the rebellion, four of these sons served as soldiers in Pennsylvania regiments - Francis and Lewis in the Seventy-eighth Infantry, and Sylvester in the Sixth Heavy Artillery, and Dominick in the Seventh Heavy Artillery. In 1865, Francis ALWINE married Miss Mary HINCHBERGER, and to them were born seven children, all now living, and named as follows: John, Samuel, Christopher, William, Frank, Mary F. and Mary E.

He bought the grist-mill now owned by him, which was built in 1862 by Mr. PILGRIM in 1875. Although not a strict party man, Mr. ALWINE usually votes the Democratic ticket. He is a member of the Summit Catholic Church.


[p. 280a]

About the year 1798 there landed in Philadelphia a poor Irish lad without money and without friends. He had left his home in Londonderry, and came to the new world to make for himself a name and perhaps a fortune. His father had been a man of wealth and prominence in the old country, but in order to aid some of his friends had become seriously involved and, owing to the depressed financial condition of the country consequent upon what is now known as the Irish rebellion, had lost his property. The loss of his estate and perhaps the perfidy of his friends so worked upon his mind that he died from grief. His name was William WELSH, and his son Thomas, to whom allusion has been made, was the father of the gentleman whose name is at the head of this biography. Thomas had acquired in the old country the trade of a baker, and soon after his arrival in Philadelphia he sought and obtained employment at this vocation. He was a young man of industrious habits, prudent and thrifty, and soon laid by a sum sufficient to enable him to go into business for himself. It was but a short time before he had attracted to himself a large circle of friends and customers, and in a few years he was at the head of a prosperous and lucrative business.

Among his intimate acquaintances was a winsome Irish lass by the name of Elizabeth WELSH, from County Derry, who became his wife and the mother of twelve children. After having been in business for about twenty years, he found himself to be not only a man of property, but the head of a large family of children, and in order to give them the advantages to be derived from settlement in a new country, he purchased 4,500 acres of land in Jefferson Township, Butler County, to which he removed with his family in 1819.

Here he resided until his decease, which occurred in 1853, in his eighty-fourth year. He was a man of powerful physique, and universally esteemed for his kindness of heart and his genial and pleasant manner. He was an exemplary man in every respect, and a worthy member of the Presbyterian Church, in which he was an Elder. George was born in Philadelphia May 5, 1812, and at the time of the family's emigration to Butler was a lad of eight years. He lived under the parental roof until he was twenty-three years of age, at which time he commenced business for himself. He first engaged in milling. He built what is known as the FRAZIER Mill and followed the business for seven years, when he went to farming, which vocation he has followed to the present. In 1862, when Gov. CURTIN issued a call for troops to resist the invasion of the State by the rebel army, Mr. WELSH, although exempt by age from military duty, was among the first to respond to the call. He joined the Eighteenth Regiment of Infantry, and went with the command to the field. As illustrative of the character of Mr. WELSH, and showing the pluck and determination of the man, we relate the following, which occurred during the war: His son Joseph was in the battle of Fredericksburg, and Mr. WELSH had reason to believe that he was either killed or seriously wounded, and he decided to go to the front and ascertain the facts. He went to Washington, thinking to obtain from the Secretary of War (STANTON), whom he had known intimately, a pass through the lines. Mr. STANTON, on hearing his request, informed him that Gen. BURNSIDE had requested him to issue no more passes, and he could do nothing for him; but Mr. WELSH was not to be balked in his effort to see his son, and purchasing some articles that he thought his son might need, he started on foot a distance of sixty-five miles. He took the Maryland side, Liverpool Point being the objective point. On his arrival, he found that it was almost impossible to get across the river, the army being on the opposite side. One day he came across a fisherman who bargained to take him across, but before the time came a wagon train arrived, and by a neat little ruse, in which he passed himself as a wagonmaster, he passed through the lines, and was rewarded by finding his son alive and well. In 1835, Mr. WELSH was married to Miss Jane, daughter of John DAVIS, a native of Ireland, and a resident of Jefferson where he died in 1853. She was born in Lancaster City, Lancaster County, in 1810. Nine children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Welsh -- Matilda, Thomas, John, Joseph, Eliza, Emma, Elvira, Rebecca and Sarah J. Joseph was a member of Company G, One Hundred and Twenty-third Pennsylvania Volunteers. He died at home in 1872. Matilda, the eldest, married Mr. Arthur TURNER; Thomas married Miss Aziah WAREHAM; John married Miss Sarah A. WELSH; Sarah J. married Mr. John WALKER, and Eliza, Mr. Thomas FRAZIER.

Mr. Welsh has attained threescore years and ten, but is still hale, hearty and actively engaged in business. He is one of the largest and most prosperous farmers in the township; a kind, courteous gentleman, generous and public spirited, and in every way worthy of the high position he holds among the representative men of Butler County.

[End of Chapter 30--Jefferson 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 29--Winfield Township
Chapter 31--Clearfield Township
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage

Edited 29 Feb 2000, 11:28