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History of Butler County Pennsylvania - 1883

Chapter 34 -- Oakland Township

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





[p. 323]

Oakland was formed from Donegal and North Butler in 1854. The township was laid out by Hugh MCKEE and David SCOTT, both surveyors, and it was also named by these gentlemen, who are still living, on account of the ample forests of oak trees which were included within its boundaries. A small village called North Oakland, consisting of ten or twelve dwelling houses, two churches, a store and post office, is in the northern part of the township. Boydstown, in the northwestern part of the township, is a cluster of about a half dozen frame houses, with a blacksmith shop, post office and small variety store. At present the township of Oakland is among the most thriving in the county. Good farms are discernible on every hand; the inhabitants are industrious and ambitious.


John NEYMAN and his wife Mary (MARKLE) settled on what is now the Lewis MELLINGER farm, about four miles northeast of Butler borough at a very early day - probably in 1797. About 1810, Mr. NEYMAN moved to Centre Township, and built upon Stony Run, where MCGRATH Mill now is, a fulling mill, the first in the county. Subsequently, he moved back to the place of his original settlement, and finally to a farm near by, now owned by the heirs of John H. NEYMAN. He died in 1847, nearly ninety years of age. He was the father of a large family. The sons are now all deceased, and none of the daughters are living in the county. Dr. A.M. NEYMAN, of Butler, is a grandson.

Among the earliest settlers of this township were Francis WHITMIRE and Connell O'DONNELL. The former came from Berks County in 1798, with his wife and family, and settled on a tract of land in the neighborhood of Boydstown, which he purchased of Stephen LOWRY. Dying in 1832, he left his farm, in a good state of cultivation, to his children. His wife's name was Catherine RUST. She was the mother of nine children, none of whom are now living except John, who is now living with his son Peter, in the northwestern portion of the township on a magnificent farm, upon which an elegant frame house and barn were erected, the former in 1878 and the latter in 1880.

Dennis O'DONNELL, one of the early settlers in Oakland, is credited with building the first barn. All the neighbors for miles around were invited to the raising, which occupied three days and was the occasion of a grand frolic, and report says that two hogs and one barrel of whisky were consumed during the time, and a wonderfully jolly "frolic" enjoyed.

Mr. John WHITMIRE is seventy-eight years of age. His wife was Catharine PAINTER, of Westmoreland County. Conspicuous among her good traits were a generous heart, industry and economy. Having a kind word for those with whom she came in contact, she was consequently respected by all as a kind neighbor and a true woman. Of a family of nine children, six are living, viz., Peter, Jacob, John, Eliza, Mary and Susan. Peter married Margaret RIDER, and, as has been said, is residing on a farm which formerly belonged to his father. Jacob married Isabella BROWN and occupies the old homestead. John married Jane CAMPBELL. Eliza, who is now Mrs. Robert MORROW, resides in Donegal Township. Mary became Mrs. Christopher RIDER and with her family lives near Boydstown. Susan, now Mrs. BEATTY, also lives in this township. During his active life, Mr. John WHITMIRE was known everywhere as an indsustrious and successful farmer, and he was interested in everything calculated to elevate society to a higher plane of existence. He filled all the offices of the township excepting that of Justice of the Peace.

In the year 1798, Connell O'DONNELL emigrated from Ireland, County Donegal, and settled a five-hundred-acre tract of land in the vicinity of what is now North Oakland. Fifteen years afterward, it was sold by the State for the taxes, and was bought, with several other tracts, by Archie MCCALL, of Philadelphia, the gentleman who built the Orphans' Home in Butler, Penn. It was subsequently redeemed by Mr. O'DONNELL for fifty acres of land and $5 in money. He died in 1813, leaving a widow and four children, all deceased, with the exception of one - Mrs. REID, mother of James REID, Esq., of this township. She is seventy-six years of age. James REID, Esq., has been closely connected with the best interests of Oakland Township ever since [p.323] its organization. His wife, Mary BOLL, is of German extraction. When a young man, Mr. REID learned the plow and wagon making business with William BALPH, deceased. After remaining with him five years, he changed his field of labor to Pittsburgh, Brady's Bend and Allegheny City. In the year 1848, he was employed in building wagons for the Government during the Mexican war, and it was not until 1849 that he located on his present farm, which had formerly been owned by his father, who died in 1852. Mr. REID has been Justice of the Peace for ten years.

William ROBB came from Westmoreland County, where he was born, and became a resident of this township previous to the war of 1812. He brought with him his wife and family, consisting of three children, viz: Maria, now Mrs. William AIKEN, living in Venango County; Rebecca, who afterward married John CHRISTY, is now deceased; and Isaac ROBB, still residing in this township. Mr. ROBB purchased his farm from Samuel RIDDLE in 1813. He resided upon it until 1838, when he disposed of it and bought another four miles west of the former - the present farm, which Mr. Isaac ROBB still lives upon. He died in 1847. Had he lived until the day of his funeral, he would have been sixty-four years old precisely. Other members of the family were John, now living in Westmoreland County; Elizabeth, who became the wife of Thomas CAMPBELL, Concord Township; James, who resided in Oregon; Sarah, now deceased, who was the wife of Hugh CHRISTY; Jemima, now dead; William J., a citizen of this place, and an excellent farmer. The grandfather of the children, Isaac ROBB, was drowned in the Ohio River in the year 1809.

Robert HAMILTON was reared in Chester County and came with his family, consisting of four children, to this township in 1818. He located on a farm which had been settled by one James DOUGLAS, a few years prior to his emigration, and a small cabin had been built upon it, which was used for a schoolhouse. John THOMPSON, known as "Connoquenessing John," was the teacher. This name was given to him to distinguish him from other persons of the same name. When Robert HAMILTON died in 1830, his farm, consisting of 100 acres, descended to his son James and a life estate in 100 acres more to his wife (mother of James). James married Isabella GORDON in 1827; their offspring were eight children - Robert, Nancy, John, Margaret, Mary, Obadiah, James and Annie. Robert owns the tract which belonged to his aunt. John was a soldier in the war of the rebellion and was mortally wounded in front of Petersburg. James was also a gallant soldier during the rebellion, and died from starvation in Andersonville Prison. Margaret is the wife of William F. CAMPBELL. Nancy married Samuel GOLD. Mary wedded Franklin DOUBLE. Annie is the wife of W.R. CAMPBELL. During the last nine months of the war, Robert served as a soldier in the Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry. Mathew DOUGAN was born in this township. His father, Thomas DOUGAN, was a native of Donegal, Ireland. For five years after his arrival in this country, he worked at Bear Creek Furnace, near Parker, Penn. His wife's name was Grace O'DONNELL, and she was the mother of ten children, six of whom are living - Michael, who married Catherine SMITH, is living in this township; Mathew is not married; Benjamin BOSBRINK, who lived in Butler for many years, is the husband of Mary; Annie became the wife of Charles BOYLE, who is the proprietor of the hotel near the West Pennsylvania Depot in Butler; Bridget resides at the old home, unmarried; Elizabeth, now Mrs. Charles FORQUER, resides in Armstrong County. Their father, Thomas, was a hard working man, strictly honest, and respected for many other good traits of character. In 1822, Daniel MCELWEE located in the northeastern part of the township. His farm was pre-empted by Enoch VERNUM. Mr. MCELWEE died in 1852, aged seventy-four years. His son Michael, now an elderly man, located on his farm in 1841, not a great distance from the original tract of his father. He was elected the first Constable in this township, and during his life has filled the offices of Collector, Assessor and School Director, with credit to himself and satisfaction to others. His wife was a daughter of John MCKEEVER, deceased, of Donegal Township.

John MOSER, with his wife and family, consisting of five children, namely: John, Elizabeth, Louisa, Jacob and Mary, came into Butler county as early as 1795, from Westmoreland County. Mr. Moser was a Revolutionary soldier and an admirer of George Washington, with whom he had a speaking acquaintance. Some of his comrades in arms were John GREEN, Samuel ROBB and John LOWE. Mr. ROBB was taken prisoner by the British at the battle of Brandywine, and was held some weeks before released. All these gentlemen were also settlers in the same year with Mr. John MOSER. Solomon MOSER is the grandson of the former; he settled in this township in the year 1826, on a tract of land owned previously by Stephen A. LOWRY. In 1829, Solomon married Jane MARTIN, by whom he had ten children. Mrs. MOSER died in 1873, but Mr. MOSER is still living, aged seventy-eight. Daniel MOSER, who carried on the business of wagon-making in Butler for many years, was a brother of Solomon.

James PATTON came from Bedford County in 1824. Remaining in Washington County five [p.324] years, he finally settled in Oakland in 1829, on a tract of land owned by Mrs. Sarah COLLINS.

He married Mary SISLER, from his native county. They reared a large family, all of whom are living. Rachael, now Mrs. MILLINGER, lives in Kansas; Isabella, now Mrs. FLANNIGAN, lives in this township; William resides at Fairview, Butler County; his wife was Lydia MILLINGER; she died on Christmas Day, 1882; James, who married Jane BEATTY, resides near Middletown, this county; Elizabeth, now Mrs. John MILLINGER; John, who married Margaret BEATTY; Abner, who married Agnes MCCLUNG, is living on the old homestead; Samuel, now living at Pittsburgh, married Isabella BARTLY.

Jacob SHOUP emigrated from Wurtemberg, Germany, on the 4th day of July, 1834, to America. His family consisted of his wife and two children - John and George, who all came as far as Bremen in a heavy two-horse wagon. Mr. SHOUP sold his team at Bremen, and shipped his wagon to this country. When they reached Butler County, they sought out some friends who had built a cabin near Brunker's mill and settled there, and with them they sojourned a short time, and finally located on a farm in the southwestern part of the township purchased from Mrs. COLLINS for $2.50 per acre.

For some time after their settlement, Mr. and Mrs. SHOUP found it very difficult to get along, as they could not speak a syllable of English. On one occasion Mrs. SHOUP discovered that she needed some flour, accordingly she took a flour sack in one hand and money in the other, and went to a neighbor's house to buy some. She exhibited her money and then her sack, and made all possible significant signs, but could not be understood. Finally she hit upon this happy plan of shaking the dust out of the sack, and make her wants known in that way. She was successful in this, and went off rejoicing at finally being understood. It was the custom where Mr. and Mrs. SHOUP were reared, to stand during the offering of prayer, either in church or under any other circumstances, and it was a custom which was tenaciously adhered to by all classes. On one occasion he and his excellent wife were invited to dine at Mr. CURDY's which invitation they accepted. While a blessing was being asked, every one reverently bowed their heads except Mr. S., who rose to his feet and remained standing until "grace was said."

John SHOUP married Mary THORN; George married Charlotte, daughter of Eli BALPH, and is in possession of a valuable farm of seventy-five acres, in the southwestern part of the township, which he purchased from Mrs. Judge MCCANDLESS.

John PATTON came with his parents to this township in 1836. He remained with his father on the farm until 1875, when he moved on the Addison GOLD place, near North Butler Presbyterian Church, where he commenced on his own responsibility. Mr. PATTON was a soldier in the late war, and was in the battler of Petersburg. He belonged to Company B Thirtieth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. In 1858, Mr. PATTON married Margaret BEATTY.

Capt. John G. BIPPUS was a native of Wurtemberg, Germany. In 1832, he came to this country when eleven years old, but did not settle within the present boundaries of Oakland Township until 1844. He had spent the intervening years in Pittsburgh, Brady's Bend, and in Fairview, this county. He purchased his farm from Col. John M. THOMPSON. It originally consisted of seventy-five acres, but a little later he added eighty-seven acres more, purchased from Mrs. Sarah COLLINS. In 1862, Mr. BIPPUS raised a company of volunteers, and with them went to the seat of war. After nine months had expired, he raised another company in Pittsburgh, but it was made up of volunteers from several different counties. Peter FENNELL, of Clearfield, and John IRVIN, of -----------, were the only Butler County men in the company. In the year 1865, Capt. BIPPUS was severely wounded on the head, at Petersburg. After remaining in the hospital for four weeks, part of which time he was in an unconscious condition, he reported for duty, and was detailed Assistant Inspector General on the staff of Brig. Gen. BRISCOE, doing duty in this capacity until the regiment was dismissed, in 1865, in front of Richmond. Since the close of the war, the Captain has been a very valuable member of society, always taking a decided interest in the cause of education. After the organization of the township, he built the first schoolhouse, having learned the trade of carpenter in Holidaysburg. Mrs. BIPPUS was formerly Rachel MYERS, of this township, and is the mother of eight children, viz.: John; Jacob, married to a daughter of Rev. BOOTH; Mathias; Samuel; McCalvin, medical student with Dr. S. GRAHAM; Christy, a schoolteacher; Katie, now Mrs. BOOTH, living in Clarion County; Lyda and Emma.


Lawrence WALSH came from Donegal, Ireland, in 1850, and after spending eight years at the Brady's Bend furnaces, he located in this township. His wife was Ellen BUSH, daughter of Judge BUSH, of County Cork. Mr. WALSH died in June, of this year (1882). Their son, Michael, is in Colorado. The small farm which Mr. WALSH is living on was purchased from Mrs. BLAINEY.

Eli BALPH became a resident of this township in 1845. He is the oldest of twelve children, all of whom were reared in the neighborhood of Mt. Chestnut, this county. His father was a soldier [p.325] in the war of 1812. Previous to permanently locating here, Mr. BALPH lived on rented farms for several years. The farm he has owned in fee simple, and resided upon for thirty-seven years, was purchased from Abijah EVANS, formerly a resident of this county, but now deceased. When the purchase was made, the farm was entirely woodland, and to bring it into a fit condition to cultivate, Mr. B. worked days, and frequently nights, to clear it of its ample growth of heavy timber. In 1828, he married Nellie HENSHEW, of this county, and reared quite a large family. Rev. Thomas BALPH, of St. Clairsville, Ohio, is their son, and Mrs. George CAMPBELL, of Butler, their daughter. Mr. Eli BALPH was a stanch friend of the public schools, and labored faithfully for their prosperity, against a strong current of opposition.

George HERDMAN was a native of Washington County. He came to this township in 1855, and located in the southeastern part of the township on a farm bought from Abraham MARTIN, paying him $20 per acre. Mr. HERDMAN died of dropsy, in the year 1871, aged sixty-two years. His wife, whom he married in 1850, was Margaret HAZLETTE. Her son, Harper, farms the place, while her two daughters, Maggie and Jennie, devote much of their time to teaching public schools.

In 1857, Christian PFEISTER emigrated from Bavaria, Germany, and in the same year located on a farm formerly owned by Joseph BREDIN, of Armstrong County, paying $1,000. His son, Joseph, is living on a farm purchased from Charles DUFFY.

Martin EYTH moved into this township in 1862. He emigrated with his parents from Wurtemberg in 1839, being then fifteen years of age. Their first location, after arriving in this county, was on a tract of sixty-five acres of land, purchased from John BARD, it being situated in close proximity to BREWSTER's Schoolhouse. Young Martin lived with his father on the farm until he was twenty-three years of age, when he married Margaret HAGGARTY, of Butler, Penn. She died eight years after marriage, leaving two children-William J. and Lizzie. The former is engaged in the mercantile business at Chillicothe, Ohio. The latter is now Mrs. BALDAUF, and resides in Pittsburgh. In 1857, Martin EYTH the second time entered the marriage relation, selecting for his life companion Eva RITZARD, of this township. Eight of their children are living, viz.: Maggie, Caroline, Francis, Stephen, Josephine, Clara Celia Stella, Mary A. Dolorosa and Gertrude. Caroline is now Mrs. Charles GEIBLE, and resides in Carbon Center.

For four years after Mr. EYTH's first marriage, he kept what was well known as the HAGGARTY House in Butler. It was not until 1862 that Mr. E. removed to this township and located on his present farm, which tells unmistakably of wise and prudent management.

Mr. Thomas CRAIG, who settled here in 1872, descends from ancestors who were early settlers in this county. He has a good farm of 235 acres, which he purchased from Thomas BARTLEY, for which he paid the handsome sum of $15,210.

Isaac HEPLER moved from Fairview to this township in 1873. His farm is well known as the "Old Captain GOFF place, " which he purchased from David HENRY. The "Wood Bine," is the name of the hotel kept on the premises by Mr. HEPLER. Elizabeth BARNHART was Mrs. HEPLER's maiden name. Thirteen children was the result of this marriage, only seven, however, are living. Margaret married DAUBENSPECK, from the vicinity of Fairview; Sarah married John KAMERER; Lavinia is Mrs. Reuben SIBERT, resides near Millerstown; Mary is now Mrs. William BYERS; Julia Ann is the wife of Adam KAMERER, A farmer; Isaac B. married Bena SAILOR, and he is cultivating his father's farm; Oliver married Nettie MCJUNKIN, of this township.

James A. HORTON came to Butler County in 1875 from Buffalo, N.Y. For several years he was engaged in driving stage. Tiring of this, he engaged in the laudable business of tilling the soil, having rented the Thomas MARTIN farm near St. Joe. Mr. HORTON married Miss MARTIN, daughter of Thomas MARTIN, who settled on the above farm in 1847.

In 1876, John A. GORDON located on a farm purchased from Thomas MCKISSICK. PHILIPS' grist mill, which has been in operation for forty years, or rather been in existence that term of years, is situated on this farm. Mr. GORDON married a daughter of William S. THOMPSON, of Lawrence County.

After the organization of the township, the first election was held at the house of William MCCLUNG, where it has ever since been the voting place. Michael MCELWEE was elected Constable. School Directors were Henry CONWAY, Capt J. GOFF, Michael MCGINLEY, John MCELWEE, Thomas MARTIN and Eli BALPH. Later Directors were Archie MCJUNKIN, Michael O'DONNELL, A.J. SIMPSON, Hugh MCCAFFERTY, Robert HAMILTON, John H. NEYMAN, Anthony HOON, John MILLINGER and John WHITMIRE.


The first school building was erected on the farm now owned by Martin EYTH, in 1834, and in the fall of the same year another school was held in a house which had been used as a dwelling house on the GOFF farm.

William GREER taught the first school in the township. Other early teachers were John and Robert THORN, Jacob BOYD, Abraham STEVENSON, William MCCLUNG and John [p.326] O'DONNELL. In 1854, when the township took its present form, public schoolhouses were built throughout the township in sufficient number, viz.: The GOFF School, the MILLINGER School, the WHITMIRE School, the DUFFY School, now called McGINLEY School. And in 1858 arrangements were made to build six new houses, because the former were not properly located and too rude in construction. Some of the prominent early public school teachers were William MCCLUNG, William GREER, John L. NEYMAN, David SCOTT, James REID, William CHRISTY, Isaac HILL, John MCPHERRIN, Abram FLEEGER, Zachariah PHILIPS, Thomas BALPH, William RAY, Isaac HILLIARD and Mrs. HOOD. The first grist mill was built by William NEYMAN, in the year 1800, on the Connoquenessing Creek, which passes through the western part of the township. It was a large, unattractive log structure, and was propelled by water exclusively. A few years later, a saw mill and a fulling machine were added by Mr. NEYMAN and sons, William and Henry. Thirty years later, they erected another and more convenient mill a few miles west of the first one on GORDON's farm.


There are two Catholic Churches in this township, one being the outgrowth of the other, and both are situated in North Oakland. One building is a neat frame structure and the other is an imposing brick building. The frame work of the first house was reared in 1852, and Father LONG held the first services, performing mass on Christmas night. For several years afterward, priests from various congregations ministered. The first established priest was Father Leander SNERR, who officiated for three years, according to the custom of the priest's office. He was succeeded by Father GREGORY, who remained but one year, when Father DEVLIN succeeded to his position and ministered but one year. Rev. STEGHER came in after him and sustained his position for three years, when he was succeeded to the pastorate by Father DIERMIRE. Other ministers who followed were Rev. John RITTER, Rev. Thomas DEVIN, Rev. Edward DIGNUM, and Rev. Robert WATERS, the present pastor. In 1872, a large brick church was erected, in order to accomodate the growing congregation and English-speaking congregation. It was completed in 1873 and regular services have been held in it ever since. During the building of the church, the German portion of the congregation became dissatisfied and a division took place, they keeping the former (frame) house as a place of worship. They have no regular minister, but are supplied from the Summit Monastery every week. As has been said, Rev. WATERS is the present minister of the English church.


This church received its name from the fact that when it was constituted it was in the northern part of Butler Township, but after the re-districting of the county it was placed in Oakland Township. Long before any church building was erected, people assembled at stated times for public worship at the house of Fergus HUTCHISON. During the summer months services were conducted in his barn. In the year 1846, according to the urgent request of some eleven or twelve persons who had been brought up in the Presbyterian faith, the Presbytery appointed a committee, composed of Revs. COULTER, John MUNSON and either R.B. WALKER or Reed BRACKEN, to organize a congregation and constitute a church. The organization took place at the residence of Fergus HUTCHISON. The original members of the church were Samuel JACK and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph THORN, Mr. and Mrs. John RUSSELL, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson M. CALL, Isaac ROBB and wife, and Mrs. William NEYMAN. This infant church was constituted a branch of Concord Presbyterian Church and remained so until 1848, when a frame building was raised on a lot purchased from Mr. HUTCHISON, in about the center of the township. It was burned down before it was entirely completed. It was replaced by another frame structure one year later, built on the original foundation. The present house was reared in 1881. When the first edifice was erected and completed, Rev. John COULTER preached the dedicatory sermon. Until the year 1849 the congregation was supplied by Presbytery, and in the same year Rev. John V. MILLER was ordained and installed. He continued pastor of this congregation for at least ten years, when he abandoned his charge and accepted a call from Lawrenceburg, this county. Rev. James COULTER then was appointed stated supply, and acted in this capacity up till 1867, as nearly as can be determined, when Rev. James MARSHALL, the present minister, was installed. The original members of session were Samuel JACK, Joseph THORN and Isaac ROBB. The Trustees were Fergus HUTCHISON, Joseph THORN and John RUSSELL. The present members of Session are John L. NEYMAN, Archie MCJUNKIN, Isaac ROBB and Christy ROBB. The present Trustees are Henry NEYMAN, John ROBB and W.J. HUTCHISON. A Sunday school consisting of seventy-five members is connected with this congregation.


1854, John L. NEYMAN; 1854, Jeremiah MELLINGER; 1859, Caspar SCHOLL; 1859, John L. NEYMAN; 1864, Caspar SCHOLL; 1864, Joseph MCCASKEY; 1869, Caspar SCHOLL; 1873, James REED; 1877, A. HOON; 1878, James REED.


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Chapter 33--Donegal Township
Chapter 35--Franklin Township
1883 Butler County History Contents
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Edited 25 Nov 1999, 19:38