Transcribed by Sherry Chestnutt. For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.
SURNAMES APPEARING IN THIS CHAPTER
ALDINGER, BAKER, BARNHART, BELL, BISH, BLACK, BLAKELY, BOLL, BOOK, BOYLE, BRADY, BRECKENRIDGE, BREDIN, BRENNEMAN, BRETT, BROOMFIELD, BROWNFIELD, BRUMFIELD, BRUSH, BURNS, BUTTS, BYERS, BYLE, CAMPBELL, CODY, COLDWELL, COLLINS, CONENT, CRAIG, CRAVENER, CRAWFORD, CRESLER, DALE, DEITER, DELEMATER, DEMER, DIETER, DILLON, DILLOW, DONGAN, DORSEY, DOUBLE, DOUGHERTY, DOYLE, DUFFY, DUFFEY, DUGAN, DUGUN, DURHAM, EASLY, EBERHARDT, EHRENFELT, EKAS, FAIR, FEIGEL, FELKER, FERRY, FETTER, FETZER, FITZGERALD, FLANEGAN, FLANNIGAN, FLEEGER, FLETCHER, FLIEGER, FORKER, FORQUER, FORST, FREDERICK, GALEY, GALLAGHER, GAMBLE, GIBSON, GIEBLE, GILLESPIE, GRAHAM, GRANT, GRIFFIN, GUISFORD, GUMPER, GWIN, HAGGERTY, HAHN, HANLEN, HANLIN, HARTMAN, HAYES, HELDEBRAND, HELILBRON, HEMPHILL, HENSHAW, HERMAN, HICKEY, HIGGINS, HILDEBRAND, HIMES, HOCH, HOGAN, HOPKINS, HOYT, HUNTER, JAMISON, JOHNSON, KING, KISTLER, KNAPP, KRAMER, KRANER, KROUSE, LANIGAN, LASHER, LITTLE, LOCKHART, LOGAN, LUSHER, MALONEY, MCBRIDE, MCCALMONT, MCCLAFFERTY, MCCLINTOCK, MCCUE, MCCULLOUGH, MCDONALD, MCELROY, MCFADDEN, MCGINLEY, MCGIRR, MCGRATTON, MCGUIRE, MCKEEVER, MCKINNEY, MCKISSON, MCLAUGHLIN, MCMANNIS, MCMICHAEL, MCNEALY, MEHAN, MESSRS, MILLER, MOLONEY, MORROW, MYERS, NAPOLEON, O'BRIEN, O'CONNOR, OGLE, O'NEIL, PALMER, PETERS, PHELAN, PIERCE, PIPER, PONTIOUS, PUHL, QUILTER, QUINN, RAFFERTY, RAMBAUGH, RATTIGAN, READ, REESE, REIBER, REIGER, REISNER, RICE, RIDDLE, RITZART, ROGERS, RODGERS, RUDOLPH, RUMBAUGH, SANDERSON, SATTERFIELD, SCANLON, SCHACKLEY, SCHMIDT, SCHREIBER, SCHWEIGER, SCOTT, SEIBERT, SHACKLEY, SHERIDAN, SHREVE, SIMPSON, SINGER, SLATER, SMALL, SMITH, STAKE, STEWART, STICKS, STILES, SUTTON, SWEENY, SYBERT, SYLPHIS, TAHANY, TALMO, THORN, TURNER, VOGELSANG, WAKENIGHT, WESTERMANN, WHALEN, WHELEN, WICK, WILES, WINTERS, WOLFORD, WORTMAN, WYTHE, YEDDER,
p.308a-- Joseph Hartman, G.F. Fetzer
p.308b-- Res. of Joseph Hartman
p.312a-- Res. of William Brownfield
p.316a-- Joseph Graham
p.316a-- Joseph Graham Bio
p.320a-- Andrew Barnhart
p.321 -- Joseph Hartman Bio
p.321 -- Gottlob Fetzer Bio
p.321 -- William Brownfield Bio
The township of Donegal was one of the original thirteen townships erected in 1804, and then embraced a much larger territory than at present, its dimensions being about eight miles square. In 1854 it was changed to its present dimensions, approximately five miles square. It is located between Fairview on the north, Armstrong County on the east, and Clearfield and Oakland [pg. 309] Townships on the south and west respectively. The surface of the county is very rolling and uneven, and no sooner does the traveler mount one elevation than a second is presented to view, and so on over the whole township, and, to use a metaphor, the surface is like the billows of the surging ocean.
The soil is quite productive, and yields to the industrious husbandman ample return of the cereals cultivated in that latitude.
Coal was first discovered on the farm of Matthew and Andrew DUGAN, since which time it has been demonstrated that the whole surface of the country is underlaid with three veins of coal, the first being known as the Freeport vein, the second as the Kittanning vein, and the third as the Clarion vein. Although coal is found in such abundance, it has not yet been mined except for domestic purposes.
This township was named after Donegal in Ireland, from which place a large number of the early settlers emigrated.
The reader will observe that the year 1796 witnessed the advent of a large number of settlers to all parts of the county. This was due to the consummation of Wayne's treaty with the Indians at Greenville, Ohio, the year previous, and the consequent expulsion of the Indians from the country, very few remaining after this period.
The early settlers were of two distinct nationalities - the Germans and Irish. Both classes preserved their distinct national characteristics for a long period.
The first man of whom we can learn who made this township his home was James HEMPHILL, in 1795. He was a man who delighted in hunting and frontier exploits. He was followed by several families of this name who did much pioneer work in the northwestern portion of the township. It is related of James HEMPHILL that he delighted to load his gun with slugs on top of which would be hammered a hickory plug to make the charge scatter. He then would climb a tree near a deer lick, place the breech against the tree and shoot into a drove of deer, as they were eating salt, often killing several at one shot.
As is stated in the history of Millerstown, six families of BARNHARTs came in at an early day, viz.: Philip, Rudolph and Daniel, who were brothers, and their three cousins, Jacob, Andrew and Peter BARNHART, who were also brothers. They were of German extraction, and John William BARNHART, the progenitor of the American branch of the family, came from Germany in 1764, and settled in Westmoreland County. He died in January, 1822. His son Philip, who was the founder of Millerstown, died in 1860 in his eighty second year. They settled in what now constitutes Fairview Township, originally a part of Donegal. They did not bring their families on the first trip, but erected cabins on their several selections of land, and commenced the laborious task of clearing small spots of ground for cultivation. Their supply of meal soon ran out, and they subsisted on venison, cucumbers and squashes for four weeks, and when they reached Freeport on their way home in quest of provisions, they met a number of immigrants of whom they procured a supply, and so returned to this county. Rudolph BARNHART came near meeting with an untimely death, and the incident, as related by his descendants, is as follows: He had been successful in killing a fine buck, which he was carrying home, on his back, with its hind legs tied together over his neck. In getting over a fence he went on one side and the buck on the other, and it was only due to almost superhuman exertions that he escaped strangulation. Of the children of Daniel, David lives in Fairview Township, as also does Simon and Joseph, children of Peter and Simon R., son of Rudolph. The BARNHARTs came in 1796, but some of them did not become permanent settlers until several years later.
In 1793, there was a very large emigration of people from the county of Donegal Ireland, to Pennsylvania, and there later they commenced making their way into Butler County, and quite a number of families settled in Donegal Township, including Charles DUFFY, Thomas DUGAN, John DUGAN, John FORKER, John GILLESPIE, Moses HANLEN and P. MCELROY. They formed the nucleus for a large Irish settlement in this and adjoining townships. They first erected some small cabins and made preparations for their families, which were afterward brought here by means of pack-horses along indistinct bridle paths. These pioneers endured all manner of hardships. They were far distant from civilization and a base of supplies, and even their meager products had to be conveyed to market by means of pack-horses. Salt and iron were quite important and necessary products to the settlement, and these were brought from Chambersburg and Harrisburg, usually by men known by the queer and inexplicable title of "tug tails," who also took out for sale the products of the settlers, which consisted of beeswax, tallow and flax, and bags which the women manufactured. These men would take several horses, frequently those of the settlers, to make these long, wearisome trips. Occasionally they loaded their horses so heavily that, not being able to lift the load on when once off, they performed the whole journey without removing the horses' burden.
Some of the first settlers had no sheep, hogs or stock other than their horses, and their poverty was [pg. 310] painful. Mr. HAGGERTY became the possessor of two sheep, in which he took great pride, and in order to protect them from the bears and wolves they were securely penned up each night. One day he saw a wolf stealthily approach his sheep, and made all due haste to save them, but too late, for the crafty wolf killed one of them before he could get to it, and this loss, trivial as it may now appear, was then severely felt.
As has been noticed among the early settlers was Charles DUFFY, who came here in 1796 from Westmoreland County and settled upon the tract of over 312 acres of land, which is still owned by the family intact. On the place is a log house, built in 1803, in a good state of preservation. He was a native of Ireland: came to America in 1793 and to Westmoreland County in 1795. He died in July, 1823. The methods then devised by the pioneers to construct needed appliances for the farm and household were very ingenious. As an illustration, Mr. DUFFY needed a churn and none could be procured at any price. He therefore quartered a log of suitable size, and, having with his ax and adzes cut out the inside, fastened the quarters together by means of hickory withes, and the much needed article was produced. He was the father of a large family of children. John and Peter DUFFY, his children, became residents and business men of Butler Borough. The latter is still living at this writing. He was born in Donegal in 1798 and is one of the oldest natives of the county. He was Postmaster at Butler for several years, and Prothonotary of the county. He was one of California's "'49ers." His brother John, who was older, was one of the Associates Judges of this county. He died in 1865. In 1833, Peter DUFFEY was married to Deborah DOUGHERTY. She died in December 1845. They were the parents of three children - Mary, deceased; Charles, the successor to his father's business in Butler Borough; and James, Pastor of St. John's Church, Albany.
John GILLESPIE, a native of Ireland, and one of the settler of 1796, has with his descendants left indelible marks on the physical as well as historical part of Donegal. He remained here until his death at a very advanced age. His wife, Alice (DUGAN), was upward of ninety years old at the time of her death. Of their children, Neil, who married Barbara DUFFY, daughter of Charles, was in the war of 1812. Of their children, James, a resident of Freeport, Armstrong County, is extensively engaged in coal mining; Charles, a physician, is also a resident of Freeport, while Edward is deceased. The girls are Margaret, Alice, Bridget, Mary and Ellen, the three latter deceased. The other children of John are Patrick (deceased), John, James, Manassas, Sarah, Hugh, Margaret and Bridget (deceased). James married Ellen MCBRIDE (deceased), and their children are John, Alice, Mary, Dennis, Bridget, James M., Peter, Elizabeth, Sarah, Frances, Margaret and Catharine. James M. lives on part of the old homestead; Mary, the widow of Mr. MCCLAFFERTY, is in Clearfield Township, and her father, aged eighty-eight years, resides with her and Margaret; Mrs. MCLAUGHLIN also resides on part of the old homestead.
Manassas married Margaret DUFFY, and their children are Michael, who lives on part of the Moses HANLEN farm; John, on part of the old homestead; George W. on the HUNTER farm; and Peter, in New Mexico.
Sarah, who died in 1875, aged seventy-two years, married Manassas MCFADDEN, who died in 1862, aged seventy-six years. He was in the war of 1812. Their children are Dennis, John, Hugh (who was in the army), Michael (now deceased, was also in the service), Alice, Mary Ann (deceased), Sarah and Grace. Hugh settled on the farm now owned by P. HILDEBRAND.
When John GILLESPIE, Sr. came to Donegal, the country being destitute of roads, and the only method of conveyance the pack-horse, he carried his children on either side of the horse in huge bags or sacks especially prepared for this purpose. He was one of the first distillers in the township, and one of the fields where the stillhouse was located is now known as the "stillhouse field."
Money in those days was long a very scarce article and difficult to obtain. James GILLESPIE, Sr., having purchased a cow of Archibald BLACK for $15, went to the furnace in Slippery Rock Township and worked until he earned one-half ton of iron; and here, procuring Barney MCLAUGHLIN's wagon, the only vehicle in that section, he conveyed the iron to Catfish furnace, the other side of the Allegheny River, where it was disposed of for the requisite money.
Moses HANLEN, who in 1796 settled on the farm now partially owned by Frank HILDEBRAND, was a man of fair education, and assumed considerable importance among the early settlers, and as a magistrate was noted for the justice of his decisions and healing the differences and animosities that arose among the impetuous Irish. He was much respected for his many admirable traits of character. He died in 1842, aged eight-four years. His children were William, Margaret, and Jane. William, who died in March 1856, aged seventy-two years, married Margaret COLLINS, who died in October, 1866, in her seventy-ninth year. He, like his father, held the office of Justice of the Peace for many years. They were the parents of ten children, of whom Ellen, Joseph, Margaret, and Ellen are now living. Ellen married Francis [pg. 311] BOYLE, now deceased. Mrs. BOYLE now lives with her son, W.J. Of her other children, Martin L. and John N. died when young men. Joseph and William HANLEN live on the old homestead and Margaret is the wife of F. HILDEBRAND. Dennis BOYLE came to Donegal at a somewhat later date than the HANLENs. His children were Francis, Hugh, Charles, John, Mary and Bridget, all of whom are dead, except Mary, who resides in Butler.
Some of the settlers had narrow escapes from the wild animals, once so numerous in this section. It is related that Margaret HANLEN was returning home from Sugar Creek Church, with a small babe, she dismounted from her horse only to find herself almost immediately surrounded by a pack of wolves. Hastily remounting, she threw her babe across the saddle and urging her now thoroughly frightened horse forward, narrowly escaped.
Daniel SLATER settled in Donegal in quite an early day. His wife, Mary, now lives with her son Frank on the old homestead. Peter MCKEEVER (now deceased) located on the farm in this township now occupied by his son John. Thomas HAGGERTY came from Donegal, Ireland, with his wife and three children and live in Delaware. He afterward moved to Westmoreland County, and his wife having died, he married Anna MCNEALY. John, one of the sons of the first wife, lived in this county. About 1798, Thomas HAGGERTY and his family came to this township. He carried a bucket of dishes in his hand and walked, leading behind him an old horse, which carried his two small boys, John and James, in a bag, one on each side of the horse, and their heads protruding from the bags. Mrs. HAGGERTY walked, driving a cow and carrying in her arms her baby and the rim of her spinning wheel. The child thus brought here is still living. She is now Mrs. Rebecca MEHAN, and is in the eighty-fifth year of her age. After coming here, Mr. HAGGERTY worked at Mason's furnace in winter to support his family, and the wife and small children were left alone in the woods. Panthers often cried about their lonely dwelling, and Mrs. HAGGERTY kept them off by waving fire brands. Mrs. MEHAN, when a small child, was bitten by a rattlesnake and came near dying. She was unconscious for several days and sick for a month. Another time, she and her brother were chased by wolves, which they kept off with clubs. Two of the boys, Thomas and Archie, were in the woods one day, and Thomas, who was standing on a hollow log, felt the motion of something in the log. He went to the end of the log and discharged the contents of his gun into it. A fierce she-wolf came out and made for his throat, and would have killed him had not Archie came up and cut the beast open with his knife. At another time, the boys caught a cub, which they tamed and kept until it became so cross it had to be killed. Thomas HAGGERTY was the father of thirteen children by his second wife. Ten of them reached mature years. One of the sons, Thomas, married Catharine HIGGINS and reared a large family. He kept hotel in Pittsburgh and Lawrenceburg. In 1852, he moved back to the old farm in this township, where he died in 1877.
It was only by exercising the greatest diligence that Mr. HAGGERTY procured enough to sustain his family. Only one of his children, Mrs. John MEHAN, now resides in the county, her home being with her daughter Nancy (BROOMFIELD), and there now live in this house the representatives of four generations. The mind of Mrs. MEHAN appears perfectly clear, especially on things pertaining to pioneer days. She in common with other women of her time, reaped wheat with a sickle, split rails and in fact performed all manual labor on her fathers farm. She distinctly recalls the time when such a thing as a fanning mill was unknown, and the process of cleaning wheat was called "riddling." The riddle or sieve, was made of deer skin, or tough bark cut in suitable slips for this purpose. It required the services of two persons to "riddle" wheat, one to shake it through the "riddle" while another fanned away the chaff with a sheet. The cloth manufactured by women was colored with plum, cherry, and other bark. It was no uncommon thing for people to attend church barefooted. Moccasins were much used. One pair of shoes per year, costing $1.25, was all that many could afford; still "frolics" and dances were frequent. Among the old fiddlers was John WORTMAN.
John FORQUER and Patrick MCELROY were cousins, and came into the township together. The latter lived to be one hundred and six years old, and one year before his death walked to Butler and home again, twenty-eight miles, in one day. Mr. FORQUER settled on the land owned by H. MCCLINTOCK, Z. DOUBLE and others. Buckwheat was one of the first crops raised by the early settlers, and large quantities of it are still produced in the county.
Among the old pioneers noted for the love of the chase, can be mentioned Patrick MCELROY, John FORQUER, Matthew DUGUN, Andrew DUGAN, Samuel HEMPHILL, David, Jacob BARNHART, Sr., James HEMPHILL and John EKAS. They had ample opportunity to indulge their love for hunting for bears, wolves and lesser game could be found in great abundance, and they furnished many of the settlers, who were not skillful sportsmen, with a large proportion of the meat used in their families.
Michael MALONEY came from County Donegal, Ireland, to Philadelphia, and there married his wife [pg. 312] Catharine, who was a native of County Cork, Ireland. About 1810, he moved to Donegal Township, and purchased of Michael and Niel DUGAN some 200 acres of land, only twelve or fifteen acres of which were cleared. (Michael DUGAN eventually moved to Zanesville, Ohio) Michael MALONEY died in 1856, aged eighty-seven years. Of his children, John, who married Jane DOUGHERTY, died in 1829, and of his children only one, Jeremiah, who married Ann BURNS, now resides in Butler County. He owns 150 acres of his grandfathers estate, and is one of the enterprising farmers of the township; of the other children, John, Bernard, Catharine, and Matilda live in Missouri. The other sons of Michael MALONEY were Patrick, Michael, Jeremiah and Daniel. Daniel, now deceased, married Mary GALLAGHER.
A daughter of Michael MALONEY, named Nancy, married Barney JOHNSON. Both are now dead, and one of their two sons, Jeremiah, now lives on a part of his grandfather's farm.
When Michael MALONEY first settled in Donegal, wagons were unknown. His son Patrick brought the first one into the neighborhood, and it was the subject of much comment, as it was the first one seen by many raised in this section, who walked many miles to view this mechanical wonder.
Among the old pioneers who helped perform the initial labors, incident to the clearing up of any new country, was George WOLFORD, who came from Westmoreland County in 1804, and took up a 500-acre tract where his son John now resides. Farm implements were then very rude. Wooden plows were used, and John recalls the time when hickory withe traces, straw horse collars, and hair rope bridles were in quite common use; "treadle" wagons - the wooden wheels of which were from three to four inches in thickness, cut from large logs - were all that farmers could then afford, and the music evolved from the axles as they went winding over the unfrequented roads, was enough to frighten the wild animals then so numerous. A sap trough, attached to the joist of the house with ropes, contained the numerous babies, and was swayed to and fro by the busy housewife as she performed her arduous labors. The other furniture, which was home made, was equally as rude; but aristocracy then being unknown, anything that could be utilized for domestic or other purposes was considered good enough.
Jacob WOLFORD, who enlisted in June 1862, in the Fourteenth Pennsylvania Calvary, was killed by a shot through the head. He was a brave soldier, and at the time of his death was detailed to carry dispatches from Light House Landing to Gen. GRANT's headquarters on the Potomac. His wife, Mary A. MCCULLOUGH, died in 1866. Two of their children - William C., and John M., now reside on the old homestead.
Gabriel PONTIOUS was an early settler of this township, on the farm where his son Solomon now lives. He married Mary BARNHART, and reared a family which is still well represented in this county. Gabriel PONTIOUS died at the age of eighty-four, and his wife aged eighty-six.
Christopher STEWART and his wife, Barbara (DEMER), came from Westmoreland County and settled in this township about 1797. Christopher STEWART died in 1854. Names of children: Mary (SYLPHIS), Catharine (THORN), John, Elizabeth (CRAVENER), Susannah (HEMPHILL), Andrew, Barbara (BARNHART), and Christina (BISH). Three are living - Elizabeth, Susannah and Christina.
C. ROGERS, one of the early tailors, lived in close proximity to J. MOLONEY.
Archibald BLACK came from Ireland and in 1798 to Donegal Township, and settled on a tract of 200 acres. He and his family have been important factors in the settlement of the southeastern portion of the township. John, one of his sons, now far advanced in life, lives on the old homestead, while another son, Archibald, lives on a tract adjoining. John married Elizabeth MCELROY, daughter of the old pioneer, Patrick. Their children now living are Alice, Mary Jane, Archibald, John F., Matilda and Patrick S. The latter is numbered among the successful agriculturists of Donegal Township, and has reduced his farm from a state of nature to one admirably adapted for cultivation. Mary, wife of Patrick S., is a daughter of Neal MCCUE, one of the pioneers of Armstrong County.
When a boy, John BLACK had a narrow escape from being devoured by the wolves. Returning home with his cows one night, he was treed by the wolves, and tied himself to a limb with his suspenders to keep from falling into their clutches. As he did not come home with the cows, search was made for him through the wilderness by his parents and neighbors. They scoured the woods in all directions, blowing horns so as to indicate their presence to the lost boy, who could look down upon the cruel eyes and sharp, gleaming teeth of the savage animals as they vainly essayed to reach him. When discoverd, the wolves had made considerable progress in gnawing down the tree to get their victim, but they were driven away by the people who rescued him.
James BREDIN, whose record appears elsewhere, was also one of the pioneers of Donegal. He eventually moved to the borough of Butler.
Noble HUNTER settled the farm now owned by Rev. HICKEY. William MCMANNIS was also numbered among the pioneers.
The HARTMANs have done their full share in [pg. 313] developing the township. A sketch of them appears elsewhere.
Among the later settlers can be mentioned Philip HILDEBRAND, who some thirty-two years since came from Germany, and first located in Allegheny County, but subsequently came to this township and purchased fifty acres of Hugh GILLESPIE at $2 per acre. He afterward purchased enough to aggregate 200 acres. He died in 1873, aged sixty-six years, and his widow, aged seventy-five, still resides on the old homestead. The following children reside in the county: Francis, George, Andy, Margaret, Peter, Mary, Philip and Sara.
Simon KING, who served in the French Army under Napoleon when Moscow was burned, came from Germany to Butler County in 1831, and six years later to Donegal Township, where his son John is now one of the farmers, occupying land purchased as late as 1861 at $5 per acre.
John LITTLE came from "east of the mountains" about thirty years since, and took his present farm when but two acres were cleared.
R. MORROW came from Armstrong to Butler County in 1844, and settled in Concord Township with his father. Some twelve years since, he moved to his present farm in this township, and his father, aged eighty years, lives with him.
William BRUMFIELD, whose father, also named William, was one of the pioneers of Armstrong County, came to this township in 1875, and purchased his present farm. Another son, James, is also a farmer in this township.
George and John RODGERS, are also among the later settlers. Barnard BURNS came from Ireland when about twenty-two years of age, and located in Allegheny County, but some forty-five years since purchased 200 acre of unimproved land, at $3.50 per acre, and commenced life in a small shanty. He died in 1881 in his ninety-third year, and his wife, Elizabeth in 1876 in her sixty-eighth year. Daniel BURNS now occupies 140 acres of the original tract of Owen BRADY.
Donegal Township: 1840, John F. WILES; 1840, William T. JAMISON; 1845, James A. GIBSON; 1845, Mathew DONGAN; 1846, William HANLIN; 1849, John BYERS; 1851, Dennis BOYLE; 1854, John BYERS; 1857 Hugh MCKEEVER; 1857, Solomon PONTIOUS; 1862, Solomon PONTIOUS; 1862, Hugh MCKEEVER; 1867, Michael MCGINLEY; 1868, Solomon FLEEGER; 1872, Solomon PONTIOUS; 1872, Michael MCGINLEY; 1877, Peter H. GILLESPIE; 1877, Solomon PONTIOUS; 1880, F. C. FLANNIGAN; 1882, Solomon PONTIOUS.
Since 1795, at which time the HEMPHILLs settled on the land now comprised within the borough of Millerstown, wonderful changes have taken place, and a retrospective view leads one into the labyrinth of thought regarding these changes and the people who have been instrumental in their accomplishment. The following year, 1796, witnessed the advent of the BARNHARTs, viz. Philip, Rudolph, and Daniel, three brothers, and Jacob, Andrew and Peter BARNHART, three brothers and cousins of those first names, who settled in the immediate neighborhood. Thus was formed the nucleus of a now thickly settled region and the borough of Millerstown. These first settlers for several years devoted their entire attention to agricultural pursuits, and redeeming the land from a state of nature to one fitted for the habitation for man.
The first event looking toward the present borough of Millerstown was the erection by Abraham LASHER in 1805, of a primitive log grist mill, almost on the site of the one now occupied by the mill of FETZER & MYERS. It was the Mecca to which the early settlers repaired for miles around, and obviated the necessity of their going to Kiskemintas and other places equally as far distant to obtain flour. The brand of flour produced would hardly compare with that now manufactured by the improved methods, but it sufficed for the hearty appetites of the people of that early time. The mill was imperfect in structure. Owing to this, and a lack of water, it only run about one-fourth the time. It was customary for the settlers to help repair the race and dam each spring sans remuneration, and such occasions were denominated "frolics," quite appropriately too, as whisky was furnished free, and in the evening all took part in dancing and other social enjoyments.
The mill was purchased by John WICK, who in turn sold it to James HEMPHILL. While in possession of the mill, Mr. HEMPHILL died, and it was purchased by Benjamin FLETCHER, administrator of the HEMPHILL estate. In January, 1836, it was sold to Philip BARNHART, who also purchased about 150 acres of land, which includes that on which Millerstown is situated. He tore down the old mill, erected a new and improved structure. Some years later his son Henry remodeled the mill, and put in steam power for the first time. The property is now in possession of Messers. FETZER & MYERS, who have remodeled and placed in it the modern mill appliances. The mill has a capacity of sixty barrels of flour per day.
When Philip BARNHART purchased the mill property and the surrounding land, he made quite a large payment in silver. His safe was a large tin pan, placed on top of the cupboard. After the money had been sorted out in piles on the dining table and carefully counted, Mr. FLETCHER dumped it into a grain [pg. 314] bag, and after tying, threw it under a bench, where he allowed it to remain, although the doors were lockless. This showed the confidence men then reposed in each other, a thief being something unknown among them; they were all sturdy, industrious, and hard-working men. Soon after coming into possession of the property in 1836, Philip BARNHART laid out Millerstown, which took its name from the location of the grist mill. The lots were then sold at auction, Manassas GILLESPIE acting as auctioneer. Mr. BARNHART offered a lot free to the first one who would erect a house, and Daniel BARNHART secured the prize by erecting a house where the WESTERMANN Brothers are now doing business. The first building erected was utilized by John F. WILES as a grocery store, the stock being quite small and consisted only of simple and indispensable articles. After a time, he went to the opposite corner, the present location of the Central Hotel, where he had built a house, and continued in the mercantile business, and in addition opened up a tavern, the first one in Millerstown. Owing to the death of his wife, he rented his entire establishment to John MCKISSON, who conducted the business for a short time. The property was then sold to Simon R. BARNHART, who used one portion for storing grain. An Evangelical Lutheran minister, named STAKE, the first minister who located in this place, lived in the other part of the building. John BARNHART became the next possessor of the property, and conducted a store and tavern until 1853, when Martin HOCH purchased it. He conducted the business until 1873, when he leased the property to Dr. W. P. BOOK, as will appear further on. After WILES vacated his first store, it was occupied by Andrew BARNHART for mercantile purposes, for several years, until he moved into a residence of his own, erected between the Herald office and the property of Jacob FREDERICK, beside which, in 1848, he erected a store, and one year subsequent F. W. and Simon R. BARNHART engaged with him as copartners. They did an extensive business, carrying a stock of from $3,000 to $4,000, which was considerable for those times. This partnership only continued for two years, when F. W. retired, going to Medina County, Ohio, where he still resides and one year later Simon R., who is now a farmer in Fairview Township, and from this time until April 9, 1873, Mr. BARNHART conducted the business alone, and was thus for over thirty years identified with the business interests of Millerstown. He was very successful as a business man, and his name was a synonym for honesty and integrity. He was a strong temperance advocate, and maintained and supported his convictions and principles on all occasions. He died December 6, 1873. His wife is still a resident of this place, living with her son, Aaron E. The third merchant was John SMITH, who conducted business on the property best known as the MCCULLOUGH property, in the rear of the WESTERMANN store, fronting Slippery Rock street. Some twenty years since he removed to a farm in Fairview Township and there died.
Daniel BARNHART died in 1848, and the store property was purchased by Philip BARNHART. Martin REIBER became the next purchaser of the property and engaged in business, after the store was vacated by A. BARNHART, with Henry YEDDER. Mr. YEDDER left in a short time, and Mr. REIBER took in as partner his brother George, who succeeded to the business in 1850, Martin removing to Butler Borough.
In 1856, Henry L. WESTERMANN purchased not only the real estate but stock of goods, and commenced at once to enlarge the business, which constantly increased under his efficient management. In 1879, he disposed of his interest to his sons, Charles, Jr., and J. J., who now conduct the business.
Barnhart FREDERICK, now one of the substantial business men, came from Darmstadt, Germany, in 1853 to Millerstown. After about one year, he removed back to St. Louis, Mo., and three years later, back to Millerstown, and engaged in the wagon manufacture until disabled by an accident, when he turned his attention to merchandising. His first stock of goods consisting of confectionery and some trinkets to the amount of $35, was purchased in Pittsburgh. He gradually enlarged his business until he became one of the most extensive business men of the place, and is now one of the two oldest merchants, Michael DIETER, a former tailor, commencing business the same year, 1859.
In 1849, Martin HOCH and Martin REIBER established a brewery, and some four years later sold out to Gottlieb HOCH who continued the business up to the time of his death, in 1879. Long previous to the erection of the brewery, it was customary for the settlers to distill their own whiskey, and the first one who commenced this business of whom we can learn was James HEMPHILL, in about 1838. The "stillhouse" was built on the brink of the hill near the house of A. E. BARNHART. Here, some of the pioneers would meet, exchange the conventionalities of life, and often get very social as their feelings became warmed with frequent libations of pure rye.
Peter Baker was the first blacksmith that settled in this place. He was succeeded by Jacob and John FREDERICK who have since been fixtures in Millerstown. In 1829, John, Adam and George FREDERICK came from Pfaffenbierfurt, Germany, and settled in Summit Township, and in 1834 their father and mother (Peter and Mary) came over with Jacob and two other sons and three daughters. In 1847, Jacob [pg. 315] came to Millerstown, and as has just been mentioned, engaged in blacksmithing. His sons, Edward and William, have succeeded him in the business.
In about 1838, Gottlieb GUMPER opened up a tavern in a log house on the site of the SCHREIBER House, and was therefore among the first to announce "entertainment for man and beast." He served the public in this capacity until his death.
The oldest living resident of Millerstown is Solomon FLEEGER who is a native of this county, Centre Township being the place of his birth. He removed to Crawford County, and from there to Millerstown where he engaged in the manufacture of furniture, which was continued until the advent of oil, and the railroad made the business unprofitable. He was the second Postmaster, and held this position for many years. He has also held the office of Justice of the Peace for many years, and is numbered among the most respected residents of Millerstown. His son Austin at present officiates as Postmaster.
Millerstown was incorporated as a borough in 1855, and until the discovery of oil in 1873 was a quiet, rural town, each day and year succeeding one another with hardly a ripple of excitement. At that stage of agricultural development, it had nearly reached the maximum of business the country would support, and but few changes or improvements took place. It then numbered about thirty-two voters, and contained four mercantile houses conducted by H. L. WESTERMANN, Barnhart FREDERICK, Andrew BARNHART and Michael DIETER; two hotels, the HOCH and SCHREIBER Houses; two churches; one furniture store; two blacksmith shops and a few minor establishments.
In 1873, E. SHREVE put down a 250 barrel oil well on the farm of Adam STEWART, and immediately the scene changes from one of comparative apathy to one of the most astonishing activity. People became almost wild with excitement, and everything immediately advanced to most extravagant prices, while thousands visited the new oil field with the expectation of becoming wealthy. Land that had been worth from $30 to $40 per acre was leased at the extravagant figures of from $100 to $200 per acre, and the land holders retained a one-eighth royalty of the production. At this time the railroad was not built to this place, and all kinds of vehicles were used to convey anxious speculators to the new field of operations. Buildings went up as if by magic, stores and business houses sprang up almost in a night, and before one year had elapsed a population of over 3,000 people claimed this place as their temporary home. The streets were filled with teams laden with oil well apparatus, merchandise, etc., so as to fairly blockade the way, while the sidewalks swarmed with an excited populace. The land where the Central House now stands was leased for a term of ten years by Martin HOCH to Dr. W. P. BOOK at an annual rental of $1,200, and he built a three-story hotel on the ground, and could not begin to accommodate the people, who lived in any place where they could find covering for their heads. Hundreds of rough board shanties were built and occupied by those accustomed to aristocratic homes.
A twelve-foot front where Barnhart FREDERICK's store now stands was rented for $60 per month. The rental for land usually ran from $12 to $28 per foot according to location, the latter price generally obtaining. The post office from a small country office soon became a prize worth contending for, the Postmaster's salary being $2,800. Farmers on whose land oil was found ceased to cultivate it, and merchants were pushed to their utmost capacity to furnish supplies for oil producers, and so neglected the farmer's trade that the attachment to plows and other farm implements frequently could not be obtained in the borough. Everybody was impressed with the importance of oil in all its bearings and ramifications.
Everything was at the flood tide of prosperity when a terrible calamity befell the place, which practically swept the business portion out of existence. On the night of April 1, 1874, a fire broke out in the BOOK House, which originated from natural gas used for heating and lighting purposes that was not properly protected. The flames spread with fearful rapidity, and the borough being destitute of fire protection, the people could only stand and see their property devoured by the fierce destroyer, utterly impotent to stay its ravages. The people became panic stricken, especially those whose tenure of citizenship was dependent upon the results of speculation, and who had hazarded their all upon the single cast of the die. The mere mention of fire sent them rushing through the streets, and as they saw their property disappear through the lurid flames and murky smoke, their very impotence to stay the flames destroyed their self-possession so needful at such times, and as a result eight persons perished in the flames.
The property destroyed extended to the FREDERICK blacksmith shop and REIBER Hotel on the north; to Buffalo Creek on the south. It also destroyed nearly all the buildings now occupied by Mary LOGAN. The destruction of property was enormous, and the loss placed at $229,000 in the local papers, with only $64,000 insurance.
Hardly had the ashes cooled, however, before new buildings began to be erected, and in a few months, the evidences of the fire had largely disappeared, and in a majority of instances the new buildings were [pg. 316] superior to those destroyed. Such was the recuperative powers of the place, under the large production and high price of oil, that very largely those who had lost their all in the flames immediately rebuilt and commenced life again with redoubled energy, and the population continued to increase.
On the night of April 11, 1875, another fire destroyed $100,000 worth of property. The fire started between two stores, located about where the Herald office now stands, and swept down the west side of Main street, to the German National Bank, where its progress was stayed, but it swept westward destroying about forty houses. A local paper says: "The most important losses were those sustained by MCKINNEY Bros., and GALEY's building, oil producers, the German National Bank, S. MCBRIDEs's store, A. TALMO's paint store, and the HOGAN Opera House," the other structures "being principally saloons and small tenement buildings." The lots laid bare were soon covered with buildings, and business was again resumed as actively as ever before. But fate seemed against the business men, for Millerstown was again visited by the dread destroyer, on the night of December 6, 1877, which laid waste over two blocks of the business portion of the borough, entailing a loss of about $125,000. As the insurance covered only about one-fifth this amount, the business interest received a severe but not death-like shock.
The origin of the fire is to this day clouded in mystery, and the only solution to the enigma is the theory advanced that it resulted from the explosion of a lamp left burning in the store of C. F. ALDINGER, situated on the east side of Main street. The fire was first discovered by G. B. MCCALMONT, whose office was located in the second story of the ALDINGER building.
The alarm was promptly given, but the flames had made too much progress to be easily stayed, and they swept southward from the store of C. F. ALDINGER, to the drug store of C. D. ALDINGER, adjoining, and soon it was enveloped in flames, and totally destroyed. The BOOK House, a large three-storied building, was also fated, and the place where it once stood was marked by a pile of ashes. By the utmost persistency, the fire was stayed from crossing the street and laying waste the property on the south of the BOOK House, and the west side of Main street. It however, extended northward, and in addition to other buildings destroyed F. SCHWEIGER's shoe store. Among the heavy losers could be mentioned Barney FORST, who lost some $10,000, and B. FREDERICK, whose hardware and dry good store fell prey to the flames, his loss being some $14,000, only a part of which was covered by insurance. The flames were not stayed until the SCHREIBER House and the dwelling house of A. HENSHAW, and blacksmith shop of H. Myers beyond had been destroyed.
The energy and pluck that marked the business men of this place, was again brought into requisition, and soon the burned and blackened traces of the fire was hid from view by buildings erected to replace those so recently burned.
In 1874, after the destructive fire, the absolute necessity of providing some adequate means of fire protection presented itself to all, and at an informal meeting held by the business men, they decided to raise money by subscription for the purpose of building water works. A subscription paper was started and some $6,000 was pledged. Two brick reservoirs, with a capacity of about 20,000 barrels, were built on the old John SCHACKLEY farm, and, as the supply from wells dug beside them was inadequate, water was pumped into them from Buffalo Creek and this was used until about two years ago. Recognizing the fact that the public would be benefited by the water works, the borough Common Council had in the meantime assumed the indebtedness incurred by private individuals and issued bonds to meet the obligations incurred. In the meantime (1874), Hugh MCGRATTON started a private enterprise by drilling a well and putting up a tank on the property of H. L. WESTERMANN. He also laid water mains and supplied many private parties with water. About two years ago, Mr. A. SUTTON purchased these water works and now supplies the borough with water, the other works now being abandoned. The water works, like many other municipal enterprises, were a failure as far as extinguishing fires were concerned, hence the destructiveness of the fires of 1875 and 1877.
Some three years since, Millerstown began to decline, as the oil supply became exhausted, and from a population variously estimated from 5,000 to 6,000, it had at the last census but 1,250, exclusive of Iron City, a suburban place, which consisted almost exclusively of board shanties, built during the excitement. Deserted buildings are seen on every hand, and a fine residence, costing about $4,000, was sold for $450, which gives an idea of the depreciation of property. A large number of buildings have been torn down and taken to other places. At present, among the business firms can be mentioned C. D. ALDINGER, who established himself in the boot and shoe business in 1872 and one year later in the drug business. Although he has been burned out four times, sometimes losing his entire property, with an indomitable spirit worthy of emulation, he commenced again and is now doing a fine business. The drug business is also represented by W. P. [pg. 317] TURNER, a native of Parker Township, who came to Millerstown in 1879 and purchased of H. E. SANDERSON & Co. their stock and business, which was established during the oil excitement. C. F. ALDINGER established himself in the boot and shoe business in 1872, which was abandoned for the cigar and tobacco trade, to which was added gents furnishing goods. Like all other merchants, he suffered severely by reason of the destructive fires that scourged the town. He is now engaged in the business he first started.
F. SCHWEIGER, originally from Philadelphia, located in Millerstown some eight years since, and is engaged in the boot and shoe trade. C. F. PIERCE came from Titusville in 1874 and became one of the firm of CONANT & PIERCE & Co., and in 1876 Mr. PIERCE succeeded to the business. During the oil excitement their monthly sales aggregated $7,000.
E. H. BRADY came from Cortland County, N. Y., in 1874, and has since then been one of the business men of this place. The wagon-making trade is represented by Reuben SEIBERT, son of James SEIBERT, one of the old settlers, and John REIGER who, for about eight years, has been associated with Jacob FREDERICK. The hardware business, is represented by the HAYES Bros., composed of E. F. and G. W. HAYES, who in January 1882, purchased the business of A. H. SIMPSON. Prior to this E. F. was engaged as an oil producer, while E. W. was engaged in the same business in Freeport.
In 1877, D. S. WAKENIGHT came from Donnelsville, Ohio, and engaged as reporter for the Parker City Daily, but soon established a news and stationery store, in which he is now engaged.
The Central House which occupies the same site occupied by the first "tavern" in Millerstown, which has so often been the scene of conflagration, now has as its landlord H. LOCKHART, while the Campbell House, which has been erected about eight years, has as mine[sic] host Dean CAMPBELL. He formerly kept the SCHREIBER House, elsewhere mentioned, for about four years prior to 1882.
Millerstown was legally incorporated in 1855, and the following borough officials were appointed by the court: John BYERS, Christian GUMPER, S. FLEEGER and Andrew BARNHART. At the first election held in June of the following year, the following officers were elected: H.L. WESTERMANN, John FREDERICK, Jacob FREDERICK, J. BYERS, C. GUMPER and John J. MILLER.
Millerstown, in brief, contains three churches, three hotels, two dry goods houses, seven groceries, two banks, one jeweler, two merchant tailors, one grist mill, two hardware stores, one hardware and oil well supplies, one news and stationery store, two machinists and four boiler makers, two harness shops, one shoe store and two shoe shops, two furniture warerooms, one tea and sewing machine store, one tin shop, three wagon shops, two livery stables, two blacksmith shops, two meat markets, two oil offices, an opera house, two public halls, one English and one German school, one pump station, four junk shops, two barber and three milliner shops, two billiard rooms, and among the last, but not least, one printing office (the Herald office) six dress-making establishments, three carpenters and builders, one surveyor, three music teachers, one dentist, one representative of the legal fraternity, M. B. MCBRIDE, who located here in 1874, while four doctors, viz., S. D. BELL, R. S. PATTERSON and J. W. HOPKINS, are now engaged in practice.
H. L. WESTERMANN came from Prussia to America in 1849 to avoid being drafted in the army, in which he had already served three years. He located at Brady's Bend and engaged in coal mining for a short time and then entered the store of the Brady Iron Manufacturing Company. In 1856, he came to Millerstown and purchased of the REIBERs their store and stock of goods, and success immediately crowned his efforts, and he became one of the leading merchants of the place and has since been prominently identified with all its business interest, not only in mercantile pursuits, but in banking, oil producing, and has occupied prominent positions in borough municipal affairs. He was first married to Mary FETZER, who died in 1872, leaving four children - Charles J., Jacob J., Cassie and Loretta. Dora (FETZER), his second wife, still survives, and they are blessed with two children - Harry M. and Richard. G. F. FETZER came to Millerstown with his uncle, George REIBER, about 1850, for whom he had clerked, and was afterward associated in business, and retired from the firm to engage in milling. He is one of the substantial business men of the place, and is identified with all its prominent business interest. Thomas DORSEY, President of the Butler County Bank, a native of Hastings County, Canada, commenced as an oil producer with his brother, P. DORSEY, in Pithole, in 1866, and has since been largely identified with oil interests, operating in every important field. His first residence in Millerstown dates from 1875.
H. J. HOYT, Cashier of the Butler County Bank, a former resident of Cleveland, Ohio, came to the oil field many years since, but had been more prominently identified with the banking than oil production, though he still operates in petroleum to a considerable extent.
1856 John J. MILLER; 1859, John BYERS; 1861, John J. MILLER; 1863, Henry L. WESTERMANN; 1864, J. MCMICHAEL; 1869, James B. CRAIG; 1873, Solomon FLIEGER; 1874, A. SHREVE; 1876, F. M. SMALL; 1878, Isaac BLAKELY; 1880, John J. MILLER; 1881, P. A. RATTIGAN; 1881, John J. MILLER; 1882, J. C. GUISFORD.
The Millerstown Savings Bank was established in June, 1873, with $50,000 capital stock, with the following officers: President, Charles DUFFY; Cashier, J. C. SCOTT; Teller, C. J. WESTERMANN. In January, 1874, John Walker was made Cashier.
May 1, 1875, the bank was converted into a National Bank under the title of The German National Bank. The present officers are: President, H. L. WESTERMANN; Vice President, G. F. FETZER; Cashier, John Walker; Teller, H. J. MYERS. The following persons comprise the stockholders: H. L. WESTERMANN, G.F. FETZER, B. FREDERICK, Jacob FREDERICK, Henry FREDERICK, Charles DUFFY, W. H. H. RIDDLE, John G. MYERS, B. B. SYBERT. The bank is now in a flourishing condition with $7,300 surplus and $6,400 undivided profits. Its sworn statement for July, 1882, showed $35,000 in deposits. During the oil excitement their weekly deposits ran from $300,000 upward, one week showing $340,000.
Butler County Bank was established in 1873, by J. L. TAYLOR & Co. as a private bank, with John SATTERFIELD as President, George G. STILES as Cashier, and H. J. HOYT as Teller. In 1979, H. J. HOYT succeeded Mr. STILES as Cashier, and the place thus made vacant was filled by E. C. EVANS. No other change was made in the management of the bank until August 1, 1880 when the business was purchased by DORSEY Bros. and J. J. HOYT & Co. The officers are: President, Thomas DORSEY; Cashier, J. J. Hoyt; Teller, C. A. BAILEY. The present stockholders are: Thomas DORSEY, P. DORSEY, H. J. HOYT, A. H. SIMPSON, Joseph HARTMANN and Owen BRADY, all residents of the county except P. DORSEY, now engaged in banking and mining in Socorro, New Mexico. From the organization of the bank up to 1878, it did an immense business, their exchanges running from $100 to $400 per day, and sometimes transactions aggregating one-half million dollars. This was during the oil excitement and the existence of the Oil Exchange, at which time actual drafts were made for all transactions with oil certificates attached.
Millerstown Lodge, No. 947, I. O. O. F., was organized April 30, 1877, with twenty-one charter members. The first officers were, N. G., J. P. CALDWELL; Vice G., William LAUGHLIN; Secretary, F. M. SMALL; Rep. G. L., J. B. SHOWALTER.
When first organized, the members consisted almost exclusively of oil producers, many of whom have moved away, so that the number of members which once aggregated one hundred is now reduced to sixty-eight, still the lodge is in a very flourishing condition, and owns the elegant hall where meetings are held. This hall with the regalia cost some $2,100. It is quite a remarkable fact that since its organization it has lost no members by death.
Millerstown Lodge No. 457, Knights of Pythias, was organized July 12, 1878, with twenty-one members. Numerous accessions were made to its members until its present membership numbers 133. Regular meetings are held in Union Hall, in the school building, every Friday evening. Union Hall, a commodious and elegantly furnished room, is owned jointly by K. of P., Knights of Honor and Grand Army of the Republic.
The K. of P., has an endowment rank - Section No. 246 - which was organized October 22, 1878.
In September 1881, Robert McDermott Post of the Grand Army of the Republic, No. 223, was organized, and the following officers duly installed: Commander, J. J. MILLER; Senior Vice C., J. VB. RUMBAUGH; Junior Vice C., S. W. MCCULLOUGH; Chaplain, James PIPER; Surgeon, B. B. SEIBERT; Adjt., A. L. BRENNEMAN; Sergt. Maj., J. J. CRAWFORD; Q. M., Joseph DOUBLE; Q. M. Sergt., P. A. RATTIGAN; O. of D., S. B. GAMBLE; O. of G., George W. PALMER. At this meeting thirty-four member, or recruits, were mustered into service. It now numbers sixty-five members, although so recently organized.
Millerstown Lodge, No.218, Knights of Honor, was organized December 8, 1877, with twenty members, and the following officers: elected; Dictator, F. M. SMALL; Vice D., David DALE; Asst. D., A. L. CRAIG; Rept., C. U. BRETT; F. R., C. O. SMITH; Chap., J. P. COLDWELL; Guard, D. F. BARNHART; Sentinel, C. H. JOHNSON. Although its numbers have been depleted by removal of members to new oil fields, there are still ninety-five members.
The English Evangelical Lutheran Church dates its inception from the time Rev. Eli FAIR commenced preaching in school and private houses. Through the instrumentality of Solomon FLEEGER, the church was erected in Millerstown, instead of in the country, as first proposed in 1849; the first officers as far as could be ascertained were, Deacons, Solomon FLEEGER and Isaac READ; Elders, William MCCULLOUGH, Leonard RAMBAUGH. The church membership numbers about eighty, and has a flourishing Sunday school.
The preachers in order of succession, are as follows: Eli FAIR, Clemens EHRENFELT, Thomas STICKS, J. B. BRECKENRIDGE, DILLON, SINGER, A. S. MILLER, J. W. REESE, J. F. CRESLER, A. C. FELKER and Thomas A. HIMES.
The large German element led to the construction of the German Lutheran Church in 1854, with officers as follows: Elders, George REIBER and Martin HOCH; Trustees - Gottlob HOCH, Leonard FREDERICK, Michael DEITER; Deacons - John FREDERICK, Jacob FREDERICK.
In 1881, the church having outgrown its former building, a new frame edifice was erected, at an expense of about $4,000. The present number of members are forty-five. The flourishing Sunday school of sixty scholars has as Superintendent C. F. ALDINGER. The ministers in order of succession have been Revs, HAHN, BRUSH, FETTER, VOGELSANG, KROUSE, PUHL and SCHMIDT.
As no records have been preserved of the Methodist Church, and owing to the floating character of the population of Millerstown (not a member when first organized now lives here), it is impossible to more than state that the Rev. B. F. DILLOW, stationed at Buena Vista, commenced preaching here in 1874, and that the conference of Youngstown sent Rev. R. F. GWIN here the succeeding year, and under his ministrations a neat frame building was erected for church purposes. He was succeeded by Rev. R. W. SCOTT for two years, and he by Rev. W. W. WHYTHE who preached one year, and he by Rev. C. PETERS who served three years, and he was succeeded by Rev. J. LUSHER, the present pastor. Present church membership, 220, with a Sunday school equally as large.
In Iron City in 1869, the Reformed Church erected a brick house of worship.
When the population of Millerstown had become numerous enough to warrant a separate school district, it belonging to a district whose school building was located so far distant as to render it extremely inconvenient for scholars to attend, and they were refused their proportion of school money to help sustain a school, they therefore erected a log schoolhouse, and maintained by subscription a separate school until they had enough members on the school board to obtain their proportion of the school money. In 1855, they were set aside as a separate school district, but continued to use the log building until 1874, when the present commodious two-story building was erected. The following gentlemen then constituted the school board: G. F. FETZER, H. L. WESTERMANN, M. S. SMALL. In 1875, it was established as a graded school and now employs three teachers, and has a school population of 300. Present value of school property, $9,000.
The existence of this place is due wholly to the discovery of oil, in the surrounding country in 1874. The first well completed July 8, of that year, on the farm of Joseph GRAHAM, produced 200 barrels of oil, and brought a large number of oil speculators and producers to this section, and many wells were drilled. Such a large influx of population necessitated the erection of stores and hotels to accommodate them, and from a quiet rural community, far removed from the busy scenes of commercial life, it was transformed within the space of a month, almost as if by magic, into a busy little mart of 1,000 inhabitants, with nearly all the necessary adjuncts of a place of this size, including three large hotels, grocery and dry good stores, restaurants, etc., etc.
All was life, activity and bustle in this village, and people were full of bright anticipations; for oil, upon which this wonderful prosperity was based, was found in large quantities, and was bringing a remunerative price, but suddenly the scene changes, for nearly the whole village was blotted out of existence by fire one night in November of 1874. It can be said that the entire property was practically uninsured, and the loss a total one. This, however, did not discourage some of the owners from rebuilding, and in an almost incredible short space of time it was rebuilt. A telegraph office was opened in November, 1874, but not until May, 1877, was a post office established, with William DURHAM as Postmaster, which office he still retains, also the telegraph office, he being the first operator.
For about five years, St. Joe was at the floodtide of prosperity, and many fortunes were here made and lost. About this time, many "dry holes" were "struck," and the product of those producing having materially decreased, and in some instances failed entirely, the people began leaving for the new fields of operation. From this time on, the village rapidly melted away until to-day it contains but two stores, one kept by William DURHAM and the other by the REISNER Bros., and one hotel. The land once covered with stores and houses is now used for agricultural purposes. Still, considerable oil is produced in this locality.
Capt. F. C. FLANEGAN , a well-known citizen of this township, is a native of Allegheny County. In early life, he worked in a woolen mill and in a window glass manufactory. He married Abigail MCDONALD in 1846, and is the father of three sons and [pg. 320] three daughters, all of whom are living except one.
May 4, 1861, he enlisted in Company K, Ninth Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves (or Thirty-eighth Regiment of the line). He afterward raised Company F, Two Hundred and Fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, and commanded the same until the close of the war. He forwarded and had in charge the greater portion of the ammunition and guns that Gen. GRANT used to reduce Vicksburg. Since the war, Capt. FLANEGAN has been Transcribing Clerk of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, also Chief Messenger of the same body. He settled in Butler County in 1875; was elected Justice of the Peace, 1879, and appointed Census Taker in 1880.
There are, and have been, many gas wells in the county, but none of them could compare with the DELEMATER and DUFFY well, in close proximity to St. Joe, which was "struck" in 1875, and the noise of the escaping gas could be heard for many miles. It is estimated that the volume of gas per hour was sufficient to supply the city of Philadelphia two days and nights with all the gas needed. By accident or design, it was set on fire, and the flame, which from the force of the gas was fifty feet from the ground, extended upward some 300 feet. The heat was so intense that the grass for several acres surrounding it was kept green and grew through an unusually sever winter, and afforded pasturage for several calves. Visiting parties came here in sleighs, and picked dandelions and violets during the winter months, while the grasshoppers and other insects found a paradise here, and could be found in very considerable numbers. After a time the gas was utilized in drilling and operating other wells for domestic and lighting purposes in St. Joe.; for the pump station at Carbon Center, etc. It is estimated that from 300 to 500 miles of piping, including main and lateral lines extended from this truly wonderful well. Owing to the failure of gas, it was practically abandoned in 1881.
The above mentioned church is located in Sugar Creek Township, Armstrong County, but its congregation has always been composed principally of Butler County people. The Catholic settlers of 1796 mainly located in this county. The first priest who visited the settlement was Father LANIGAN who preformed baptisms here in 1801. The next visit was made by Rev. P. HELIBRON in 1803, who also performed baptismal services at Sugar Creek and Slippery Rock. In 1805* Rev. Lawrence Sylvester PHELAN - also known as Father WHELEN or WHALEN - came to Sugar Creek, and located where the church was subsequently built. The Catholic people were greatly pleased with the thought of having a priest among them, and, soon after Father PHELAN's arrival, held a meeting to devise measures for securing him a home and building a church. It was decided to send men among all the Catholics to solicit donations. The territory to be canvassed was at least fifteen miles square. Four collectors were chosen, and districts assigned them as follows: Casper W. EASLY took the southern district, near Slate Lick; James SHERIDAN, the southwestern or Clearfield Township; Neil SWEENY, Butler and vicinity, and C. Rodgers MCCUE, the north and northwestern or Donegal Township. These solicitors were successful in their mission, although they received no subscription larger than the sum of $2.
*Others say 1806 or 1807, but the date above given is believed to be correct.
The present farm consisting of nearly 200 acres was purchased, and a small log cabin was built for the priest. Then, upon a certain day, each of the four who had solicited subscriptions was required to meet at the farm, bringing with him, as many as would be required to cut and hew logs enough for one side of the Church. Patrick MCELROY was assigned the work of making shingles and obtaining and driving the nails. The building was erected the fall after Father PHELAN's arrival, but as nails could not be secured, it was not roofed until the next spring. It was then put under the invocation of the Apostle of Ireland. The building is still standing. It is 22x35 feet, with a gallery and altar standing against the end wall. Each side contains three small windows, and each end of the gallery one. This is the oldest Catholic Church now standing in the entire western part of the State. It was attended by people from all the surrounding country for ten miles or more. People often walked ten or twelve miles, fasting, to be present at the services. The stations which the priest was obliged to visit, were so numerous, and far apart, that mass was not offered up more than once a month, and in some instances, once in two months. There was then but one priest in the whole district west of the Allegheny River from Erie to Beaver.
Father PHELAN withdrew in 1810. From 1810 to 1820, the congregation was visited occasionally by Fathers O'BRIEN and MCGUIRE, from Pittsburgh, and by Father MCGIRR, from Sportsman's Hill. In 1821, Rev. Charles FERRY came to the church and resided here. He visited all the surrounding district, a territory at least thirty miles square, which was then estimated to contain about 140 families. He remained until 1827, when he was succeeded by Rev. Patrick O'NEIL, the first resident priest at St. Patrick's, who also performed missionary work in But - [pg. 321] ler, Armstrong and adjacent counties. He remained until 1934, and subsequently was engaged in missionary labors in the West. He died in 1879, in the eighty-fourth year of his age, and the fifty-eighth of his ministry.
In the summer of 1834, Rev. Patrick RAFFERTY was placed in charge of the mission and resided at Freeport, visiting St. Patrick's one Sunday in a month. He remained in charge about two years, then withdrew. He was pastor of St. Francis Church, Fairmount, Philadelphia, and died in that position in 1863. He was a man of great learning and ability. St. Patrick's remained without a pastor until the summer of 1837, when Rev. Joseph CODY was appointed to the pastorate and took up his residence at the church. Mass was celebrated here two Sundays in the month, the remainder of the pastors time being given to Freeport and Butler. By 1840, the congregation had become so large that a larger church was needed. A brick edifice, 45x80 feet, with a sacristy, a separate building against the rear of the church, was erected. It was dedicated July 29, 1842, by Very Rev. M. O'CONNOR V. G. In 1844, the pastor's field of labor was rendered somewhat smaller by the appointment of a pastor at Butler, who also had charge of Murrinsville and Mercer. Father CODY, however, visited Brady's Bend occasionally, and a little later officiated at the newly established church at Donegal (now North Oakland). In 1847, Freeport and Brady's Bend were assigned to another priest, and thenceforth Father CODY gave three-fourths of his time to St. Patrick's and the remainder to North Oakland. In 1854, the log parsonage was replaced by a brick residence. After about the year 1861, Father CODY, on account of age and failing health, ministered only to St. Patrick's congregation. At length he was obliged to cease from labor, and at the end of the year 1865, Rev. J. O. G. SCANLON was transferred from Kittanning to St. Patrick's. Father CODY soon afterward went to the Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh, where he died August 8, 1871, in the seventieth year of his age. He was buried from St. Patrick's and his remains repose in front of the church.
Father SCANLON set about improving the interior of the church, but before the work could be accomplished he was transferred to another congregation, and Rev. James P. TAHANY became pastor in October, 1868. He collected means and carried out the proposed improvements and the church became one of the most beautiful in the diocese. In November, 1871, Father TAHANY was succeeded by Rev. S. P. HERMAN. On the night of the 1st of January, 1872, the church was destroyed by an incendiary fire. It was a severe loss, as there was still a small debt and no insurance. The congregation then returned to the old log church as a place of worship. Rev. Thomas FITZGERALD became pastor and remained about a year. He was succeeded by Rev. P. M. DOYLE, who remained in charge until the fall of 1875, when he was obliged to retire on account of ill health. He died in July, 1876, in the forty-seventh year of his age and the twenty-second of his ministry.
On the 9th of January, 1876, Rev. P. J. QUILTER became the pastor. He at once took measures to replace the church which had been destroyed and succeeded well. The corner-stone of the structure was laid August 5, 1876, with ceremonies by the Bishop. The church was finished the next summer and dedicated by Very Rev. R. PHELAN, administrator of Allegheny, on the 3d of July. The building is of Gothic style, brick, 45x90 feet, with a basement. It is furnished with three altars and beautifully finished. BUTTS, of Pittsburgh, was the architect, and William FEIGEL, of Butler, contractor. There was perfect harmony between Father QUILTER and all concerned in building the church. It was only by a great effort that the congregation was able to erect so large and costly an edifice. The debt is now reduced to $1,800. The membership is about one hundred families at present. Oil developments gave the church a temporary increase. Millerstown, a new parish, is under the care of the pastor of St. Patrick's.
When he returned from the army, he remained on his farm where he now resides. Mr. HARTMAN is one of the prominent agriculturists of the county, and in every sense a successful business man. He has been extensively and very successfully engaged in the production of petroleum. He has been an active member of the School Board of his township for many years.
Mr. HARTMAN is a member of the Catholic Church, and was brought up in the religious faith of that denomination. The principal part of his early education he received from the instruction of his mother, who was a very pious woman. Mr. HARTMAN takes a commendable interest in religious matters, and was very active in securing the new church at Sugar Creek. He was one of the members of the building committee chosen to erect it. He has not only given his children a good education in the common schools, but his daughters have also been educated in a convent, and his son in college. His home, one of the best in the county, is the subject of an illustration on another page.
G. F. was reared in the family of his maternal uncle, George REIBER, of Butler Borough; he received a good common school education, and at the age of sixteen commenced his business career as clerk in a Pittsburgh clothing house. He remained there, however, but a short time, when he came to Millerstown and entered the employ of J. L. Westerman. He soon evidenced more than an ordinary amount of business acumen, and his industry and close attention to the interests of the house won for him a position as partner. In 1866, he sold his interest and purchased the mill property, which he has operated since that time.
In 1862, Mr. FETZER was married to Miss Harriet, daughter of Solomon FLEEGER, of Millerstown, where she was born July 13, 1844. In November of 1881, Mrs. FETZER died, leaving her family and a large circle of friends to mourn her loss. She was a lady of many noble traits of character, amiable, kind, a devoted wife and a valiant friend; she was the mother of seven children - Emma, Agatha, Clara, William, Charles, Albert and Frank.
Mr. FETZER has been identified with the business interests of Millerstown, for about twenty-five years, and in that time he has made an enviable reputation for integrity and honorable dealing, and he is in every way worthy of the position he holds among the representative men of the county. Politically, he is a democrat; his interest in politics, however, has never been more than that of the citizen desirous of the best welfare of society and the State. He is a member of the Lutheran Church.
William was reared upon the farm, but in his twenty-second year went to Wisconsin, and found work in the lumber region. He followed this employment nine years. In 1864, he returned to Pennsylvania, went to the upper oil region, and was engaged as a contractor in drilling oil wells. In the fall of 1874, he purchased the farm on which he now lives, and in April, 1875, moved to it with his family. His farm has since proved to be oil territory, and there are now four producing wells upon it. Mr. BROWNFIELD is an enterprising farmer, and a good citizen, [sic]
[pg. 323] In 1867, he married Mrs. Ellen J. GRIFFIN, widow of John GRIFFIN, who died in 1863. By her first marriage she had four children - Frances A., Mary L., Elizabeth A. and Catherine E., all living. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Brownsfield are William A., who died when eighteen months old, Martha E., Margaret C., Olive M., James H. and John E. Mrs. BROWNFIELD is a daughter of Thomas HAGGERTY, whose father, Thomas HAGGERTY, was one of the first settlers of Donegal Township, and had his full share of the difficult experiences of those who began life in the woods of Butler County previous to the year 1800.
Joseph H. GRAHAM was reared on a farm, and educated in the common schools. By industry and economy, he was able to make for himself a fair start in life; close attention to business rendered him successful. Mr. GRAHAM has followed farming principally, though he kept hotel for two years in the village of St. Joe. This oil town, once quite a stirring place, but now nearly extinct, was built upon Mr. GRAHAM's farm. He is a progressive farmer, and is making improvements constantly. Since he became the owner of the farm on which he lives, he has erected a fine large barn, which good judges pronounce the best in the township; and, in 1881, he built the large and elegant residence which is now his home.
Mr. GRAHAM is a man of integrity, and enjoys the respect of his fellow citizens. He was married, in 1870, to Mary RITZART, daughter of Conrad and Elizabeth RITZART, of Donegal Township, and is the father of five children, viz.: Anna, Harman, Emma, Mary and Stella.
Andrew BARNHART, his youngest child but one, was reared on the farm, and remained at home until 1843, when he engaged in business at Millerstown, starting a bakery and confectionery store. Subsequently, he dealt in dry goods and general merchandise and conducted a large and profitable business. For thirty years he continued one of the most substantial and successful businessmen of Millerstown. He was energetic and active, and his sterling honesty and diligence rendered his business career a most prosperous one.
Mr. BARNHART was married, in 1844, to Pricilla EBERHARDT. She was born in Hickory Township, Mercer County, Penn., April 25, 1825. Her parents, Joseph and Catharine (KISTLER) EBERHARDT, are still living and now reside in Douglas County, Kan., where they were among the first settlers. Although deprived of an education in books, Mr. BARNHART was an apt pupil in that other school in which the teachers are observation and experience. He was a great reader, and well posted on all topics of general interest. His strong sense of right and justice made him an abolitionist of the most ultra type, and during the later years of his life he was active in the temperance cause. In the spring of 1873, he disposed of his mercantile business, desiring to pass the remainder of his days in peace and quiet. The following winter, he was attacked with pleurisy, which caused his decease on the 26th of December of that year. During his lifetime, Mr. BARNHART was a zealous and active member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. He did much in the furtherance of all church enterprises, especially the Sabbath school. He was a prominent citizen and stood high both socially and morally. He had a family of nine children, four of whom - Paul I., Aaron E., Sadie C. and Obadiah F. - are still living; the remainder, with the exception of his first -born, Elias, who died when aged eighteen, having died in their infancy.
[End of Chapter 33--Donegal 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 32--Summit Township
Chapter 34--Oakland Township
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage
Edited 24 Feb 2000, 18:22