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History of Butler County Pennsylvania - 1883

Chapter 32 -- Summit 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 XXXII

p.300a-- Res. of R.D. Stevenson
p.304a-- Res. of S.P. Young
p.306a-- Res. of Leonard Oesterling
p.307 -- Robert D. Stevenson Bio
p.307 -- Simon P. Young Bio
p.308 -- John Emrick Bio
p.308 -- Leonard Oesterling Bio



[p. 299]

This township was mainly formed from the former townships of Butler and Clearfield, though portions of Donegal and Center were also included. "Summit" was the name bestowed upon the new township at the request of one of its citizens - Judge MITCHELL.

Though a large proportion of the surface is hilly and rocky, the nearness of this township to Butler and the convenience of two railroads passing through it render Summit a very prosperous agricultural section. The land is productive, and the people are industrious.


James MCCURDY was the first permanent settler in the territory now known as Summit Township. He found a few scattering settlers in his neighborhood when he came. His experience illustrates well the difficulties and hardships which the early settlers of this county had to face, and for this reason we will attempt to outline it. The facts given below were obtained from Mr. MCCURDY in his lifetime, and written by Mr. James STEPHENSON:

James MCCURDY was born in Cumberland County, [p.300] Penn, in 1777. His father moved to Westmoreland County when James was eight years of age, and there the latter remained until 1796, when he determined to secure himself a home in the yet unsettled portion of the State.

In company with a Mr. SMITH, he started with knapsack upon his shoulder and gun in hand, and plunged boldly into the wilderness. The first day they crossed the Allegheny River where Freeport now is, and thence took a path leading northward. Night overtook them not far from Saxonburg Station. They discovered here the remains of a fire which had been made by some one who preceded them, and being tired, decided to encamp. They cut brush and laid it upon the ground and attempted to sleep. Rain soon came and forced them to give up the give up the [sic] hope of repose; but by midnight the storm had passed, and the moon was shining clearly. They decided to proceed, took up their packs and journeyed on, guided by a blazed tree here and there along the dimly defined path. They found a deserted cabin near the spot where Mrs. HENRY now lives, and another, also without an occupant, where John PISTORIUS now resides. About daylight , they reached the Robert GILLILAND farm, and there found a family by the name of RAY. During the day they learned that there were a few other settlers in the neighborhood, who had come the preceding spring, it now being the fall of the year.

MCCURDY and SMITH had started out with the intention of settling in Mercer County, but finding that the settlers here were anxious to have neighbors, they decided to look around, and if the country suited, settle. After viewing several tracts, they at last selected land in the beautiful valley through which Bonnybrook runs. SMITH chose the land which is now owned by James STEPHENSON and George BARTLEY, and MCCURDY took up his abode on the adjoining tract, now owned by S.P. YOUNG.

MCCURDY lived sixty-seven years on the farm where he now lies buried, and never moved, except from a cabin to a log house, and from the latter to his brick residence. The first night he slept in Butler County, he lay in a booth made of brush.

James MCCURDY was married in 1802, to Peggy THORNE, by whom he was the father of four sons and five daughters.

He helped to lay out the town of Butler in 1803, and to locate the Butler and Kittanning Road in 1827. He acted as Justice of the Peace, and was an influential citizen. He was a Ruling Elder in the church over forty years. He was active in promoting the best interests of the community. He died in 1872, being nearly ninety-five years of age. His children were John, Thorne, Duncan and Elisha; Jane, Matilda, Sarah and Rebecca. Thorne and Elisha are still living.

The early settlers found deer so plentiful that many instances of shooting them from cabin doors are related.

The timber was not of as large growth as it is in some localities at present, but the land was very difficult to clear, owing to the denseness of the growth of wood and underbrush.

The hardships and trials of the pioneers can scarcely be exaggerated. Without roads, they were obliged to find their way to the older settlements on horseback or on foot, when a bag of meal or a supply of salt was to be procured. Farming implements were few in number and of the simplest construction. The early settlers were obliged to go to the Ligonier Valley to get plowshares sharpened or other blacksmithing work performed. Much of their food was made from corn-meal, the corn being ground in an old-fashioned hand mill.

MCCURDY and SMITH built their rude cabins with the assistance of a neighbor, without using other tools than an ax, an auger and a frow.

James MCCURDY erected a brick house about 1830, the large, two-story building which is now the home of Mr. YOUNG. This was doubtless the first brick house in the township. He planted a few apple trees quite early, as did also his neighbor, SMITH. Few orchards were planted by the original settlers; but, when the Germans came, one of the first things they did was to make preparations looking toward a future fruit supply.

About 1812, Abraham BRINKER purchased the SMITH property. He was one of the most prominent citizens of his time; served as Justice of the Peace, as County Commissioner, etc., besides carrying on a good deal of business. He was public-spirited and generous; encouraged and supported schools, and, both directly and indirectly, his influence was exerted for good. His judgment was sound, and it was very common when any dispute arose among his neighbors for them to say, "Let us leave the matter to Squire BRINKER." Thus, without an appeal to law, many troubles were settled quietly and to the satisfaction of all interested parties. There being no public houses near, his house and Squire MCCURDY's often afforded entertainment to travelers upon the pike. Squire MCCURDY was a religious man, and his hospitable home was often visited by ministers, who came to preach at the schoolhouse. As his house stood on one side of the creek and Mr. BRINKER's on the other, it became a common saying among the settlers that Bonnybrook had the law on one side and the Gospel on the other.

The MITCHELL and SCOTT families settled in 1796. [p.301] James MITCHELL, a native of Ireland, was brought to this country when an infant, and brought up in Maryland. From that State he emigrated to Westmoreland County, and in 1796, he came to Butler County and located on the farm which his son, Judge James MITCHELL, now owns. After coming here, he married Nancy MCGAHEY. Their children were Jane, James, Samuel, Margaret, Alexander and John. Jane (JAMISON) resides in Summit Township. Her husband died in the late war. James and Samuel also reside in Summit. James was born in 1812, and now lives about half a mile from his birthplace. He was elected County Commissioner in 1851, and an Associate Judge in 1861. He has been an Elder in the Presbyterian Church since 1849. Margaret (SEAMAN) lives in Butler Township. Alexander died when a young man. John resides in Butler.

James MITCHELL, Sr., died in 1844, and his wife about ten years later. Each reached the age of seventy-five. Mr. Mitchell lived a quiet, peaceable life, made no enemies, and had hosts of friends. His hospitable home was always kept with the latch-string out. He was long a member of the Presbyterian Church, which he joined under its first pastor.

William SCOTT and his sons were among the first settlers. The father was an old man when he came to the county. He lived on what is now the HEINSER farm. Of his children, James lived in Oakland and died there while a Representative to the Legislature. Robert became a prominent citizen of Butler, and a county official; Samuel left and went to Westmoreland County; David married Mary, sister of James MITCHELL, and settled near his brother George; he removed to Freeport, where his son, Alexander, now lives; George SCOTT married another of James MITCHELL's sisters, and settled upon the farm his son now occupies; Alexander followed shoe-making, and lived in Butler; William left early and went to Ohio; Catharine became the wife of James MOORE who lived a few years in Oakland Township, then returned to Westmoreland County.

James MITCHELL and several of the SCOTTs served in the army during the war of 1812.

Robert SCOTT, of Westmoreland County, was one of the settlers of 1796 in this township. Soon after the village of Butler was laid out, he removed there and built the house on Main street now owned by F. P. Baldauf, one of the oldest in the borough. He died in 1830. His son, John SCOTT, now resident in Butler, was born in this house in 1819. Chambers, another son of Robert SCOTT, now lives in Fairview, and Harper resides at Brady's Bend.

George SCOTT, a native of Westmoreland County came into the wilds of Western Pennsylvania a young man. He selected land, built upon it and commenced improving, meantime living alone and keeping bachelor's hall. Before there were any mills nearer than Westmoreland County, he was obliged to go thither for his milling, riding horseback and carrying the grist in a pack-saddle. In his hand he carried a rifle to keep off wolves. It usually required two days to obtain a grist - one to go and the other to return. From his cabin door he frequently shot deer and turkeys. On one occasion, a bear and cubs were discovered near his dwelling. One of the cubs ran up a tree and SCOTT shot it. The old bear, very anxious for a fight, at once arose on her haunches and would have attacked him, had he not been ready with another shot which killed her. Mr. SCOTT helped to carry the chain for the surveyors when Butler was laid out. He married Rachel MITCHELL, who bore eight children - James, Samuel, Robert, Washington, all dead; Amelia (HOLMES), Indiana County; Mitchell, on the old homestead; David, Oakland Township; and Sarah (WINNER), Penn Township. George SCOTT was a soldier of 1812.

One of the first mills, if not the very first in Butler County, was William NEYMAN's, erected at the mouth of Bonnybrook, near the beginning of the present century. James MCCURDY assisted in building it, and James MITCHELL was the first miller. The mill was operated but a short time, but it received custom from all the settlements in the southern part of the county. "NEYMAN's Path," a pack-horse trail leading to it, is still remembered by old residents. On account of a dispute as to the ownership of the land, NEYMAN took the machinery out of his mill and moved it north, where he established another mill. The old log structure stood many years, and also the cabin erected for the miller. The latter was at length torn down, because it was learned that a family who had a bad reputation proposed to occupy it.

Abraham BRINKER, soon after his settlement, put in operation a saw-mill on Bonnybrook, which runs through the farm. In 1813-14, he erected the stone mill which is still standing and is still known as BRINKER's Mill. He afterward operated a carding-mill and distillery.

BRINKER's Mill was long the scene of busy activity, as it received custom from a wide extent of country. The machinery was at first very simple. The mill had no elevator, and the corn or wheat was carried up a ladder, a half a bushel at a time, and thrown into the hopper. The next improvement was to carry up a bag filled with grain, and finally a barrel was so aranged that it could be filled and hoisted. John MOSER was the miller for many years, and afterward John WARNCASTLE, who brought up a large and very respectable family.

James MCLAUGHLIN purchased the mill from his [p.302] father-in-law, Mr. BRINKER. He died in California, and the property was purchased by Elisha K. MARSHALL, who sold it to John BURFORD. In 1861, the mill was bought by James STEPHENSON, its present owner.

Hugh GIBB, an early settler, lived on the Robert STEVENSON farm. He was better situated, financially, than many of his neighbors, having considerable means when he settled, and was therefore able to go back to Westmoreland County occasionally and buy supplies of groceries. He was one of the few men in the neighborhood who were not drafted during the war of 1812, and it was his custom to ride around to his neighbors' houses frequently during the winter to see that none of the families suffered for want of the necessaries of life.

Hugh GIBB was a very generous-hearted man. His family are all dead. His wife was Sarah, sister of James MITCHELL. Their children were Samuel, James M., Jane (WATTS), Susan (LEASURE), Nancy (MYERS), Mary (MCCOOL), Isabella (JAMISON) and Sarah (SCOTT).

Jacob SUMNEY, a Pennsylvania German, was an early settler on the farm now owned by Jacob JOHNSTON. He brought up a large family, all of whom scattered after his death.

Joseph GOLD, an early settler where Alexander MCMILLAN lives, still has numerous descendants in the county. Following are the names of his children: Robert, William, Joseph, Hugh, John, Anna (KARNS) and Mary (SLATER).

John GREEN is remembered as an early resident - poor but respectable - on the RETTIG farm. Samuel LOW resided on the place adjoining.

John WUNDERLY, an early settler in the same neighborhood, was considered "well fixed" in early days. He died on the farm, and his widow lived to be quite aged.

About 1800, Francis WARMCASTLE emigrated from Chester County, and settled in Summit Township. He afterward moved to Pittsburgh, and thence to East Liberty, where he died. His children - John, Charles Francis and Jacob - are all dead. John the latest survivor, died in Centerville in 1865. He was married to Evanna KING, who bore six children, all of whom are still living - Mary Ann, Francis, Eliza (COVERT), Susan (DAVIDSON), Margaret (BARD) and John.

Peter HENRY was a well-known citizen of that portion of Summit Township which was formerly included in Clearfield. Until the division of the townships, elections were held at his house. Before the Germans began settling, there were only about sixty-four voters in Clearfield.

Mr. HENRY came to his homestead in 1797, following an Indian trail from Freeport. In 1800, he brought his family from Westmoreland County, in a wagon, following up Rough Run some distance. Glades were everywhere abundant, and through them the deer had well-beaten paths.

Peter HENRY died in 1857, aged eighty-eight. His wife, Margaret, died in 1832. Of their children, but one survives - Joseph HENRY, Esq., Connoquenessing Township. He is now seventy-two years of age. The sons of Peter HENRY were John, Adam, Peter, Frederick, Joseph and William; the daughters, Elizabeth (BRINKER) and Mary (COYLE). Mrs. Ellen HENRY lives upon the old homestead.

Peter HENRY's life was distinguished by a startling incident. When he was fourteen years of age, living in Westmoreland County, six miles from Greensburg, one day when his father, Frederick HENRY, was away at a mill, the Indians entered the house and attacked its inmates. Mrs. HENRY and her two youngest children were killed; Peter and his two children, [sic] younger than himself, were taken captives, and led away into the woods. After the savages had proceeded a short distance, the youngest child commenced to cry, and she was killed by a blow from a tomahawk. The Indians, seven in number, had with them six horses and considerable plunder which they had stolen from the settlers. When the news of the massacre became known in the settlement, Brady's company, a band of settlers commissioned by the Government to prevent Indian outrages, hastily collected together, and pursued the savages. The path made by the horses was easily followed. The Indians crossed the Allegheny River near Freeport, and followed the stream upward. On the evening of the third day, they were overtaken, at a bend in the river, which has since been known as Brady's Bend from the ensuing incident. The Indians were found to be encamped, and the horses tethered and feeding near by. During the day, the Indians had killed a deer and a bear, and they were drying and preparing the meat by a small fire. Brady and his men waited until all the Indians save one were asleep before beginning their attack.

Peter HENRY and his sister lay covered by an old quilt with a hole in it, and through the hole the boy watched the Indians, and occasionally heard the sounds made by the pursuers as they reconnoitered about the camp, but thought the noise was made by the horses. The Indian on guard was drying meat by the fire. Suddenly, while Peter was attentively watching him, he saw a flash and heard the sharp report of a rifle. The Indian jumped up, gave a loud whoop, and fell over dying. Instantly the blankets flew off the sleeping forms of the savages, and every Indian was on his feet, taken completely by surprise. Every Indian but one was shot and wounded, and all [p.303] rushed down the bank into the river. Whether they drowned or whether they died of their wounds it is not known; but it is certain that only one Indian escaped to tell the tale, as was learned from the statement of a young man named HOOVER, who was seven years in Indian captivity. HOOVER was present when the surviving Indian returned to his tribe and narrated the fate of his companions. HOOVER afterward returned to Westmoreland County, and related the circumstance. After the children were rescued, the horses and the other booty of the Indians were taken by Brady's men, who, proceeding down the river, found a canoe, and put the children and a part of the provision into it. They took the children to Fort Pitt, and afterward returned them to the settlement and to their father.*
*Narrated to the writer by Mr. Joseph Henry.

Richard MARTIN settled east of where Herman SLATER now is, and lived many years on the farm. He died in Penn Township. His children were Mary, Thomas, Anna, William, Samuel, John, Jane, Margaret, Elizabeth, Richard and Sarah. Thomas, William, Elizabeth and Sarah are still living. Samuel settled on the farm where his widow now lives. He served in the army, and was a gallant soldier and a good officer. He raised in this county a company of volunteers, which was recruited in October, 1861, and was mustered into service December 7, 1861, as Company E, One Hundred and Third Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, Samuel MARTIN, Captain. Capt. MARTIN died of fever at White House Landing, Va., June 8, 1862, aged forty-two years.

John GILLILAND, a native of County Monahan Ireland, came to America in 1817, and in 1820 settled upon the farm now occupied by his son, Robert GILLILAND, Esq. He worked at weaving a number of years, making cloth for the neighbors, who in exchange assisted him in clearing his land. He married Mary FRAZIER in 1820. They had a family of four sons and six daughters - Mary J. (MURDOCK), Elizabeth (ALLEN), Isabella (FRAZIER), Maria, Robert, James, Margaret (BOREN), William, George F. and Rachel N. (ALLISON). Of these, Mary J., Maria, Robert, James and Rachel are living. Robert GILLILAND has been School Director twenty-four consecutvie years, and now holds his fifth commission as Justice of the Peace.

Germans have been an important element in developing the agricultural resources of Summit township. Until the German immigration, the settlers of this part of the county were few, and improvement went forward slowly. But with the arrival of the Germans in large numbers, everything changed. Farms of 200 or 400 acres were each converted into farms of from forty to sixty acres in extent. Many tracts now occupied by seven or eight farmers each, were once the property of one individual farmer, and, it must be acknowledged, our German-American farmers thrive and get ahead faster than did the owners of these comparatively large farms.

The first Germans arrived about 1830. They had no easy task before them, but a year or two of continued effort convinced them that the land was good and farming could be successfully carried on. Therefore they began to write to their friends in the old country, and encourage them to come and settle. The years 1831-32-33 brought several families to this township. In 1834-35, the immigration was most rapid, and thenceforth it continued until nearly all of the first settled farms, as well as tracts hitherto unoccupied, were in the hands of the new-comers. An exception to this statement should be noted. Along Bonnybrook, in the northern part of the township, several descendants of the original settlers continue to remain.

Generally these German settlers had but little money. After locating their homes and putting some seed into the ground, the usual course was to "strike out" and earn money to pay taxes. Many found employment on the canals which were then building. It was no unusual thing for a man to walk one hundred or two hundred miles, work two or three months, then return to look after the comfort of his family. It was a hard way of getting on in the world, but patience, industry and wise economy at length triumphed; the land was paid for, and the settler had a home. After this result was accomplished, it seemed to result very naturally that the settler should add to his possessions and soon be independent.

John RIMP, one of the first German settlers of this township, is still living in Butler, at the age of ninety-seven. He settled on the farm now owned by his son John in 1830, bringing with him a family of five children, all of whom are still living in this county - Mary, Catharine, John, Eliza and Christina. Mr. RIMP purchased his land from the COLLINS estate, paying $3.50 per acre. He had never followed farming until he came here, and, finding only about an acre and a half cleared, the prospect did not seem very cheerful. But no German knows the meaning of the word failure; he soon became accustomed to the work he had undertaken, and made good progress. He brought with him from Germany a wagon - a rare thing in those days - a wooden harrow, some sickles and other farming implements. His son John, who now lives on the homestead, spent many years boating on the Mississippi River.

John OESTERLING was long a leading man among the Germans, and his descendants are still very numerous in this township. He emigrated from Germany to Butler County in 1831, and thenceforth was [p.304] very active in encouraging settlement and pushing forward the work of improvement. He had some money to begin with, and, purchasing about three hundred acres, he sold it out to settlers in lots of from forty to sixty acres each. His first purchase was near Herman Station. Having sold off this land, he next bought about five hundred acres, on part of which some of his sons now reside. He died in 1863 at the age of sixty-seven. His family consisted of four sons and four daughters: John died in this township (his widow still resides here); Leonard, Peter and Adam reside in Summit Township; Catharine (SHANCK) is dead; Elizabeth (VOGELEY) resides in Butler; Eliza (FREDERICK) and Margaret (FREDERICK) are dead.

Matthias BLEICHNER was one of the first German settlers in the southern part of the township, and located on the farm where he now lives in 1831. Two years later, Michael HOFFMAN settled where Michael SANG now lives. Mr. SANG settled upon this farm in 1876, having previously lived in Oakland and Winfield Townships. About 1833, John SPAHN settled in the same neighborhood. Samuel ROBB and Richard MARTIN had previously opened up farms near by.

The settlers were then very few east of Herman Station. Barney LEECH emigrated from Germany and settled in Clearfield Township where he died. His family are all now removed from the county except David LEECH, Esq., who lives in Summit Township. He settled here in 1858: His farm was early settled by a MCLAUGHLIN family, and afterward owned by George SWEENEY. One of the first orchards in this part of the county was on this farm, and another on the neighboring farm of Peter HENRY. Orchards were scarce and boys were frequently found lurking in the woods in the vicinity of the two above mentioned. Perhaps they were hunting.

Many of the earlier settlers built their cabins in deep valleys near low, moist ground. The low lands were most easily cleared, and could soonest be converted into corn-fields and grass land.

John JOHNSON was an early settler of this township. His son, Samuel still resides here.

Francis EICHENLAUB and his brothers, Michael and William, with their sisters, Barbara and Catherine, and their father, Jacob, arrived from France in 1832, and settled on land which had previously been the DUFFY farm. Francis died in 1877; Michael is still living here; William and Barbara are dead. Two sons of Francis EICHENLAUB reside here - William on the old homestead and Matthias, who is engaged in the oil business at Herman Station. William EICHENLAUB's farm is at the summit of Summit Township, and on it are the head-waters of Thorn Creek, Rough Run and Bonnybrook.

Andrew and Christian KNAUS settled in the northern part of the townshp in 1834. Both are still living. Andrew has reared three children, all of whom reside in this county: Jacob A., Rachel, and Catharine. Christian KNAUS has ten children living.

About 1835, Martin KECK emigrated from Germany and settled in this township where he remained five years. He then went to St. Louis, Mo., and was there thirteen years. He now resides in this township. His children are John, Matthias, Catharine, George, Lewis, Christian, Henry and Philip; John, Catharine and George are dead.

Jacob YOSE came directly from Germany and settled in this township about 1834. Only two of his children are living - Andrew and Catharine (KECK), in this township.

About 1835, Philip CLUSE came from France and settled on a two hundred- acre tract where George FISHER now lives. The tract was bought by Francis ACKERMAN who occupied it after CLUSE. The latter moved to Armstrong County. His son, Philip, lives at Herman Station. At the time CLUSE lived here, money was very scare [sic] and farmers frequently went to Pittsburgh to sell their produce. CLUSE started one day, on foot, with a knapsack full of butter. Before he reached his destination, it had nearly all melted and his best coat was ruined.

Prominent among the German pioneers was the RIOTT family, which is still represented in the township by Squire Francis RIOTT and others of the name.

Martin REIBER, a native of Germany, emigrated from New York, and settled in this township in 1839, being among the earliest residents of his nationality. He carried on a farm and was the landlord of a well-kept tavern for about seventeen years. Martin and George REIBER, of Butler Borough, are his sons. Another son, Jacob, resides in Cleveland, Ohio. His daughters are Catharine (CHRISHART) and Barbara, wife of Julius KLINGLER, of Butler.

In 1837, Conrad HERRIT settled upon the farm afterward occupied by his son John, now deceased. His widow became Mrs. ERTEL, and now lives on the farm with her sons and husband.

In 1838, Christian SCHWARTZ settled and made the first improvements where his sons now live.

About 1839, John GRUNERT settled in Oakland Township. He afterward moved to Jefferson Township, and died there. His son Henry now resides in Summit. Two daughters are living - Hannah and Caroline.

John HEIM came from Philadelphia, and was the first setttler on the farm where his sons now live.

Sacob RIGER settled near Saxonburg, but in 1845 located upon the farm where his son Jacob now lives. Twelve of his children are living - six sons and six [p. 305] daughters, Jacob, the youngest, being now thirty-five years of age.

Wendelin NEBEL came from Germany to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1847, and to the farm (now owned by his son, B. NEBEL,) where he now lives, in 1848. Mr. B. NEBEL is numbered among the energetic, enterprising farmers of this township, and takes a prominent part in matters of public interest.

Nicholas HINSCHBERGER, a native of France, settled in this county in 1843. In 1850, they went to California, and remained two years. In 1853, he located on his present farm, where Joseph FRANKLIN had lived previously . His brothers, Christian, Joseph and John HINSCHBERGER, have since settled in the same neighborhood. Quite a number of German-speaking families came to this county from France.

John PORTMAN, deceased, settled in 1849 where his son Joseph now lives. He came here from Pittsburgh, where he had been engaged in dairying. Only two of the family are now living in this county - Joseph and John, in Butler.

Joseph MILLER, deceased, was among the later settlers of this county. He came from Allegheny County about 1850. His son Jacob now lives near Herman Station.

Thomas LINDSEY, a native of County Down, Ireland, now eighty-two years of age, came from Allegheny county to the western part of this township in 1850. He bought 212 acres of land at $10 per acre, and subsequently increased his farm to 300 acres. The land had for years been awaiting a purchaser. A fair estimate of its value at present would not be far from $65 per acre, such changes and improvements have been made since Mr. LINDSEY came.

John FORCHT, now of Butler, settled in 1850 where his sons now live. His farm is the site of the Carbon Centre oil wells. Five producing wells are now in operation upon the farm. These wells were put down in 1876, the first being finished in June of that year.

Adam RETTIG is a good example of a thrifty German. He came directly from his native land in 1852, and purchased fifty acres of land at $8 per acre. Since then he had made four purchases, and now has over 400 acres.

John W. and Henry BALDAUF moved from Pittsburgh to this township, and settled in 1852.

The farm on which R.D. STEVENSON now lives was settled by a man named GIBB, and subsequently owned by Mr. GOULD; then by Abraham STEVENSON. In 1855, it came into the hands of its present owner, who has erected excellent buildings and made many other improvements.

S.P. YOUNG settled in this township in 1856, and in 1861 on his present farm, a part of the James MCCURDY homestead.

In 1867, Augustus JACKMAN, a native of France, moved to this county from Allegheny County, and later purchased of Matthias BLEICHNER the farm on which he now lives.

In 1868, George TRIMBUR moved from Pittsburgh, where he had been employed in the rolling mills, and settled upon the farm he now occupies. He purchased from KEELING and ENGSTLER. The land had previously been owned by E.F. MUDER and G.F. DROLLINGER.

John NIGH and his sons settled in the northern part of this township in 1869.


The first schoolhouse in this township was a small log building north of Bonnybrook, near BRINKER's mill. Early teachers: MALEY, George GREER and Joseph TOWNLEY. TOWNLEY was a kind, considerate man and a good teacher. GREER was an old man and respected.

A frame schoolhouse was erected in this neighborhood at an early date, largely through the efforts of Squire BRINKER, who furnished it with stoves, and in other ways manifested his interest in the cause of education. The first term of school in the frame schoolhouse was taught by Joseph TOWNLEY. Another teacher - a jovial, good natured Scotchman and a most excellent penman - was John WATT. He was once barred out, and looking in at the east window discovered that the house was full of boys and girls. He raised the window - entered the house. Of course the mischief-makers expected a whipping, and immediately upon the entrance of the master, great excitement ensued. There was a grand stampede for the back windows, and boys and girls piled out of them pell-mell. The teacher meanwhile laughing and shouting, "catch 'em! catch 'em."

Caleb RUSSELL was another teacher in the same school. At Christmas time he was barred out. It being Saturday, and the master being indifferent "whether school kept or not," returned to his boarding place (Squire MCCURDY's). An article was written up in the usual manner, stipulating that RUSSELL should treat the school to a half-bushel of apples. But the boy who wrote the article, in his haste forgot to introduce the words "of apples," and the master readily signed pledging himself to give the scholars "a half bushel." He accordingly sent the signed paper back by the messenger, and with it an empty half bushel measure!


1854, Francis RIOTT; 1854, Andrew W. JOHNSTON; 1856, John KENNEDY; 1859, Francis RIOTT; 1861, Robert GILLELAND; 1864, Francis RIOTT; 1866, Robert [p.306] GILLELAND; 1869, Francis RIOTT; 1872, Robert GILLELAND; 1874, Francis RIOTT; 1877, Robert GILLELAND; 1879, David LEECH.


The nearness of Butler to this township, accounts for the fewness of the churches here. The early settlers were principally Presbyterians, and religious services were frequently held in the Bonneybrook neighborhood. The later comers were largely Catholics, though there are now sufficient Protestant German residents of this township to maintain a Lutheran organization.


The original members of this church were the following:


The church was erected in 1841, mostly through the voluntary work of its members. In 1863, it was enlarged, and the building is now 42 x 80 feet, and nicely furnished.

The first resident pastor was Rev. Robert KLEINADAM, 1846-47. His successors have been as follows: Rev. Erminus SCHMALTZBAUER, 1847-49; Rev. John HESPELIN (C. Ss. Red.), 1849-50; Rev. P. NEUBER, 1850-51; Rev. G. GOSTENCNIK, 1851; Rev. J.R. TAMCHINA, 1851-52; Rev. G. GOSTENCNIK, 1852-53; Rev. J.T. GEZOWSKY, 1853; Rev. F.A. GRIMMER, 1853-59; Rev. P. CHRISTY, 1859; Rev. C. GEYERSTANGER, O.S.B., 1859-60; Rev. Edmund LANGENFELDER, O.S.B., 1860-61; Rev. LAMBERT, O.S.B., 1861-66; Rev. Maurus RAPHAEL, O.S.B., 1866-70; Rev. J.H. NIEMANN, 1870-73; Rev. Gallus HOCH, O.S.B., 1873-75; Rev. G. ALLMANN, 1875; Rev. Joseph LINGEL, 1875-76; Rev. P. MATTHIAS, O.M. Cap., 1876-78; Rev. P. MAURITIUS, O.M. Cap., 1878-81; Rev. P. FRANCISCUS, O.M. Cap., since September, 1881.

The church has always been strong, and its membership large. The present membership consists of about ninety-five German families, and about twenty Irish-American families.

The priests of the monastery minister to this church, and also to the German Catholic Churches at Oakland and at St. Wendel.


In 1873, the Capuchin monks in Bavaria, fearing that they might fall under the so-called Jesuit law, by which all religious orders were to be expelled from the German Empire, sent three of their number to America to prepare a home for their brothers in case sentence of expulsion should be pronounced against them. They, however, were not expelled, but the three who came to this country were soon followed by others, and each year has added to the number of Fathers and Brothers. The three who first came were Very Rev. Father HYACINTH, Rev. Father MATTHEW and Brother ELEUTHERIUS. In 1874, Right Rev. Bishop DOMENEC gave them charge of the St. Augustine Church, in Pittsburgh. The same year Rev. Fathers Joseph CALISANZ and MAURICE and Brother LEOVIGILD came from Bavaria and joined them.

In June, 1876, Father HYACINTH sent to St. Mary's Father MATTHEW as Superior, and some other Brothers to take charge of the church. In September, 1876, Father MAURICE was sent here. The monastery was built by Father HYACINTH. Work began in July, 1876, and the building was ready to be occupied December 2, of the same year, when the Fathers and Brothers moved into it from the old parsonage. Father MATTHEW remained as Superior until January 26, 1878, and was succeeded by Father MAURICE till September 9, 1881, from which time Father FRANCIS has been Superior of the monastery, and pastor of the church.

In the spring of 1877, several boys came to be educated, and the old parsonage was used for their accommodation. The building proving too small, in 1878, it was renovated and enlarged. The college is intended to accomodate about twenty-five pupils. In 1879, another building was erected, to be used as a novitiate.

In 1880, four students, who had commenced their studies under the fathers in Bavaria, and have continued them here, were ordained to the priesthood, they being the first who finished their education at St. Mary's monastery.

The number of priests at the monastery at present (July, 1882) is eight, and with them are ten lay brothers and ten clerics, or students of philosophy and theology. The average number of students at the college is from eighteen to twenty-two. The [p.307] church congregation is very liberal and helpful toward the monastery. Many members gave much time and labor toward erecting the various buildings.

The monastery stands in a very pleasant spot, on an elevation a few rods from Herman Station, and from it a fine view of the surrounding country can be obtained.


This church was established in 1876, at the center of Summit Township, by members of the Butler church residing in the vicinity. A building was erected the same year for a chapel and schoolhouse. The congregation was organized in 1877, by Rev. WILHELM, of Hannahstown, the present pastor. The membership consisted of twenty-four families, and continues with about the same number at present. The first church council consisted of Adam RETTIG, Adam M. FREDERICK, Adam J. FREDERICK, Charles F. SMITH, John FILCHES and John BINSACK. A tasty and substantial frame building, 32 x 60 feet in size, surmounted by a steeple, was erected as a house of worship in 1880, at a cost of $1,800. The old graveyard was enlarged by the addition of half an acre, and has been much improved and beautified.


The few buildings at this place have been built since the railroad began running. There is now at Herman a store, a hotel, a post office, a blacksmith shop and a shoe-maker's shop. Five producing oilwells are situated near the station.

The first to buy a lot in the place was Charles F. SMITH, who was also the first merchant.

The Herman House was built in 1875, by Charles GARLACH. In 1877, it was purchased by Albert SMITH, the present proprietor.


At Bonnybrook (Brinker's Mills), a post office was established by Abraham BRINKER, but it was discontinued long ago. Bonnybrook Post Office was established in 1868, and Henry GUMPPER, who was then keeping store here, was appointed Postmaster. The store was burned and the office discontinued.

Herman Post Office was established in 1876, Charles SMITH , Postmaster. In 1880, Albert SMITH was appointed to the office.



Robert D. STEVENSON, son of John and Christianna (DENNISON) STEVENSON, was born in Mercer County, Springfield Township, December 20, 1833. The elder STEVENSON was a native of Mercer County, and one of its prominent and successful agriculturists; he has always held a high position among his fellowmen, and is universally esteemed for his integrity of character, moral worth, and marked social qualities. His wife was a native of Adams County, Penn., and died when Robert D. was a babe.

Robert spent his youth and early manhood at the parental home, and obtained such an education as was afforded by the common schools of that time. At the age of twenty-two, he came to Butler County, and purchased the farm on which he now resides, a view of which can be seen elsewhere in this volume. He has made agriculture his business to the exclusion of everything else, and in his chosen calling has been highly successful. Of late years, he has been giving special attention to stock-growing; he is now giving much time and attention to the breeding of "Oxford Downs," and on his farm can be seen some very fine specimens of this valuable breed.

In 1859, Mr. STEVENSON was married to Miss Elmira C., daughter of George A. ROGERS. She was born in Plain Grove Township, Lawrence Co., Penn., May 5, 1836; two children have been born to them -- William S. and Mary Ella.

Mr. STEVENSON is a genial, pleasant gentleman, and he and his wife are highly esteemed by all who know them. He is a Republican in politics, and both he and his wife are prominent members of the Presbyterian Church of Butler.


Simon P. YOUNG was born in Luzerne County, Penn., February 17, 1823. His parents, Henry and Nancy (LUTZ) YOUNG, were also natives of Luzerne, and came to Butler County in 1823, and settled on a farm about three miles west of Butler borough. Here the elder YOUNG resided until his death, which occurred in 1842, he was an industrious and successful farmer, and accumulated a competency, he was everywhere respected as a valuable citizen and a worthy neighbor; his wife died in 1839. Simon lived at home until the death of his father, when he became the head of the family. In company with a brother, he operated the old farm until 1850, when he sold his interest and went to California, where he remained two years; on his return to Butler, he purchased the MCCURDY farm in Centre, which he owned three years; he then removed to Summit Township, where he has since resided.

In 1844, he was married to Miss Eliza, daughter of Peter BARCHMAN of Butler Township. She was born in Luzerne County in October of 1826. They have raised a family of eight children, six boys and two girls. Titus S., Henry D., Elmer E., William L., [p.308] Eli B., Howard G., Mary P. and Permilla. Mr. YOUNG has devoted his energies wholly to his farm, and the rearing of his family, and has been eminently successful, not only in the accumulation of property, but in the building up of an honorable reputation.


John, son of Andrew and Catharine EMRICK, was born in Butler County, December 26, 1831; he was married to Maria A. Burkhart, daughter of Elijah and Rebecca (RICHARDSON) BURKHART, December the 13, 1855. The ancestors of Mrs. BURKHART came to America with William PENN. Mrs. EMRICK's grandfather, John BURKHART, one of the first settlers of Butler County, was born in Allegheny County in 1762, and his wife in 1764. Elijah BURKHART was born in Butler County in 1803. He was a carpenter by trade, but always followed farming. He was the father of eight children -- Maria A., Hiram F., Elijah J., Rebecca M., Washington F., Sophia C., Baxter C., and Jacob I. Those now living are Maria A., Elijah J. And Sophia C.

Mr. and Mrs. John EMRICK are the parents of eight children: Daniel B., William J., Asa W., Catharine R., Albert F., Barbara A., Samuel M. and Mary L. Mr. EMRICK settled on his present farm in Summit Township in 1861. During the rebellion, he served in the One Hundred and Seventh Pennsylvania Regiment, from the 19th of September, 1864, to the 20th of June, 1865. His conduct was such as to merit honorable mention by letter from Capt. J. A. Tompkins, commander of his company.

The grandparents of John EMRICK, Michael and Elizabeth EMRICK, emigrated from Northumberland County to Butler County, with their family of four sons and two daughters, in 1813. John BURTNER, who had previously settled in this county, went to the eastern part of the State, and brought this family out with wagons. They first located near Saxonburg, and Andrew EMRICK, who is still living, helped to break the first ground and build the first house in Saxonburg. The children of Michael EMRICK were Andrew, John, William and Michael, Elizabeth (JONES) and Catharine (HICKS). Of these, Andrew and William are living, the latter in Kentucky. One daughter survives - Mrs. HICKS, in Illinois.

Andrew EMRICK, since he came to this county at the age of eleven years, has always resided not far from the farm where he first settled with his parents. From the first farm near Saxonburg, the family moved to an adjoining farm, in both instances commencing in the woods, and encountering many of the hardships of pioneers. In 1828, the second farm was sold and another purchased a mile distant from it. This was the homestead until 1851. Andrew then purchased a farm in Summit Township, a mile and a half southeast of Butler, which he sold in 1856 and moved to Penn Township, where he now resides. Mr. EMRICK is a man of the strictest integrity, and a respected and influential citizen. He has served in numerous township offices, and has performed all his duties faithfully and well. He married Catharine BURTNER, who is still living. They had ten children -- Michael, Jefferson Township; Christiana (GALLAGHER), Donegal Township; John, Summit Township; Elizabeth (FAIR), near Millerstown; Barbara (FISHER), Centre Township; William and Catharine, deceased; Maria (FAIR), deceased; Andrew and Daniel, Penn Township.


Leonard OESTERLING was born in Bremen April 18, 1831. In the same year, his parents, John and Elizabeth OESTERLING, came to this country, and settled in Summit Township, where the elder OESTERLING died in a good old age. He was a farmer, and reared a family of eight children. In 1850, Leonard went to Brady's Bend, where he remained until 1870, when he returned to Summit, and purchased the farm where he now resides, which consists of 200 acres of valuable land. In 1852, Mr. OESTERLING was married to Margaret FLOHR. She was born in Hesse-Darmstadt in 1829. In her twentieth year, she came to America. Eleven children have been born to them, seven boys and four girls -- John, Adam, Leonard, Simon Charles, George, William, Louis Benjamin, Mary, Maggie, Emilea, and Annie.

Both Mr. and Mrs. OESTERLING are members of the Lutheran Church, and worthy members of society. On another page will be found a view of Mr. OESTERLING's home.


Go to:
Chapter 31--Clearfield Township
Chapter 33--Donegal Township
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage

Edited 30 Nov 1999, 15:25