SURNAMES APPEARING IN THIS CHAPTER
ADAMS, ALLEN, ALLISON, ALLSWORTH, ANDERSON, BADGER, BAIRD, BAKER, BARRON, BARTLEY, BEAN, BEATTY, BEIGHLEY, BLACK, BORLAND, BOVARD, BOWEN, BOYD, BRACKNEY, BRANFIELD, BREADEN, BREWSTER, BROWN, BROWNFIELD, BRUCE, BRUSE, CAMPBELL, CAROTHERS, CARUTHERS, CARTER, COBERT, COWDEN, CHRISTLEY, CHRISTY, CLARK, CLAY, CLYDE, CONN, CONWAY, COOPER, COULTER, CRANMER, CRUM, CUNNINGHAM, CURRY, DEER, DETRICK, DICKSON, DIXON, DOBSON, DODGE, DOMER, DONALDSON, DUFFORD, DUFFY, DUNLAP, EKIN, EMERICK, ENGLISH, FINDLEY, FOSTER, FOWLER, FOX, FRAZIER, GALLAGHER, GARLACH, GARLOCK, GARVIN, GIBSON, GILCHRIST, GLENN, GORDON, GOULD, GRAHAM, GRUBB, HALL, HAMILTON, HARPER, HAYES, HAYS, HELD, HERRON, HILLARD, HINDMAN, HOCKENBERRY, HOGUE, HOLSTINE, HULL, HUMES, HUMPHREY, KARNS, KELLY, KEISTER, KILDOO, KLINE, KNOX, KOCKENBERRY, LINN, LYNN, LOUDEN, LOUDON, MAYBERRY, MCCALL, MCCALMONT, MCCANDLESS, MCCARRIER, MCCLAFFERTY, MCCLELLAND, MCCLUNG, MCCOMB, MCDEVITT, MCDOWELL, MCELREE, MCELVAIN, MCELVAINE, MCGRATH, MCILVAIN, MCJUNKIN, MCKINNEY, MCKISSICK, MCMICHAEL, MCPHERRIN, MEALS, MECHLING, MENDENHALL, MILFORD, MILLER, MILROY, MONTGOMERY, MOORE, MUNTS, NEWMAN, O'CONNOR, OLIVER, PAINTER, PATTERSON, PERRY, PHILLIPS, PIERCE, PORTER, POTTS, PRYOR, RALSTON, RHODES, RIDDLE, RIGELSWORTH, ROBINSON, ROSEBERG, RUSSELL, SANDERSON, SAY, SCHULL, SHANNON, SHIELDS, SHRYOCK, SHULL, SMITH, SNYDER, SPROUL, STERRITT, STEVENSON, STEVER, STONER, STOUGHTON, STRATTON, STREAMER, SULLIVAN, SUTTON, TEBAY, THOMAS, THOMPSON, THORN, TIMBLIN, THORNE, TURK, TURNER, VANCE, VENSEL, WADDELL, WALKER, WALLACE, WASSON, WEBB, WICK, WIGHTON, WILLIAMS, WILSON, WOLFORD, WRIGHT, YOUNG,
p.410a-- William Black, Hiram McCoy & Henry Buhl
p.412a-- John & Amanda McJunkin
p.412a-- John McJunkin Bio
p.412b-- Res. of John McJunkin
ITS LOCATION-NATURAL FEATURES-COAL MINES -- EARLY RESIDENTS, ETC. -- RESIDENT TAXPAYERS IN 1854 -- BOROUGH OF WEST SUNBURY-ITS EARLY HISTORY AND PROGRESS -- THE THOMPSON FAMILY -- BOROUGH OFFICERS -- RELIGIOUS HISTORY -- PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF MUDDY CREEK -- LUTHERAN CHURCH -- UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH -- METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH -- PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF WEST SUNBURY -- WEST SUNBURY ACADEMY
This township, one of the many interior divisions of Butler, lies directly north of the center of the county. Formed in 1854 (see general chapters), it derived its name from the distinguished Kentucky statesman of the past -- Henry CLAY-- and as now constituted, has Cherry on the north, Concord on the east, Centre on the south, and Brady on the west.
Its streams are unimportant, and the general surface similar in many respects to other portions of the county, being broken by ranges of hills, very irregular in their direction and height, yet nearly every acre arable. Originally this region was heavily timbered with oak, hickory, cherry, maple, chestnut, and many other varieties of deciduous forest trees indigenous to this latitude, but the woodman's ax has been at work here for a period of more than eighty years, and now the greater portion of the township's area is devoted to pasture and meadow lands, and the culture of corn, potatoes, wheat and other productions. The soil is generally fertile, and during favorable seasons, abundant crops are harvested. The township is well provided with good wagon roads, schoolhouses, churches, etc., and a new railroad, known as the West Pennsylvania & Shenango Connecting Link, is now being constructed. This line enters the township by crossing the southern border near the center, and thence extends in a general northwest course to the northwest corner. An excellent quality of bituminous coal* is also found in various portions of Clay Township, the strata varying in thickness from three feet to four feet four inches.
*The coal banks or mines of Joseph MCMICHAEL and S. P. PAINTER, lying on adjoining tracts, are situated but little more than one mile southwest from the village of West Sunbury. They have been operated for about twenty-five years. The demand, a local one, is constantly increasing, however, and the yearly product of each of these mines will approximate twenty thousand bushels.
Peter YOUNG was a native of Ireland, but became a resident of Pittsburgh, Penn., before the year 1800. After a few years' residence there, however, he settled near Darlington, Beaver County, Penn., where the remainder of his days were passed. Of his family, of eight or ten children, John was the oldest. The latter, also, was born in Ireland, and after his marriage to Elizabeth ADAMS, or about the year 1830, he moved from Crawford County, Penn., (where he had resided for a few years), to Butler County, and located on a portion of the ADAMS tract, which he had purchased from his father-in-law, John ADAMS. About 1845, he moved to Cherry Township, where he died in 1866. His wife died in 1836. Of the eight children of John and Elizabeth YOUNG, Peter, Elizabeth, Nancy, and R. H. YOUNG alone survive. The MCILVAINS and a veteran of the Revolutionary war, Christopher MCMICHAEL, and family settled early. The people already mentioned, all lived in the same neighborhood, and east of the present borough of West Sunbury. David PATTERSON settled in the central part of the township; Joseph TIMBLIN in the southwest quarter near Muddy Creek; Martin THOMPSON, on the premises now occupied by John SUTTON; James and William MCJUNKIN (brothers), near the locality now known as the Muddy Creek Church, and Samuel FINDLEY and his sons, Robert, David, and Samuel, Jr., who occupied a central position in the northern half of the present township. Christopher MCMICHAEL was one of many Scotch-Irishmen who emigrated from the north of Ireland to America prior to the beginning of the struggle for American Independence. He joined the Continental army. After experiencing various vicissitudes, was taken prisoner at the battle of Brandywine, and held as such until peace was declared. Afterward, having become an experienced and most successful scout, he performed good service on the frontier, while the Indians were yet war-like and troublesome in the wild regions west of the Alleghanies.
He finally settled on lands near the line at present dividing the counties of Armstrong and Indiana, and remained there until some time between the years 1796 and 1800, when with his wife, four sons, and two daughters, he moved to a tract (within the present township of Clay) lying just east of the village of West Sunbury. Here he remained until his death.
William MCMICHAEL, the oldest child of the soldier and pioneer, became an early resident of the territory now known as Cherry Township. His children, all born in that locality, were Jane, Christopher, Martha, William, David, Taylor, John, Samuel F., and Margaret. Christopher, the oldest son of William, was born November 22, 1808, and became a resident of the township in which he now resides (Clay) in 1848. He had nine children, of whom Joseph, Jane, Josiah, Ethan S., Zenas and Robert J. are living.
While speaking of the FINDLEY family we are reminded of quite a prominent character in the history of Clay Township, Mrs. Margaret SANDERSON, whose first husband was Robert, son of Samuel FINDLEY. Before the beginning of the Revolutionary war, her grandfather, Robert EKIN, removed from York County, Penn., and settled near the site of McKeesport. There in the year 1791, she was born, being the second in a family of fourteen children. In 1797, her parents sought a new home in the northern wilds of Allegheny County, where, on what was afterward known as the Butler & Youngstown road, distant one mile and a half east from Whitestown, her father, John EKIN, became the owner of four hundred acres of land. Mrs. SANDERSON relates many interesting incidents regarding the customs of the people, the condition of the roads, the habitations, their furnishings, etc., in vogue nearly ninety years ago. And also well remembers that when the removal was made from the junction of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers to the Connoquenessing settlement, one horse carried herself, her mother and an infant. The mother, besides guiding the animal, held the baby in her arms, while Margaret, then but six years of age, sat behind, and by clinging to her mother's skirts, kept her seat as best she could. The roads on the route to Fort Pitt were about as bad as they could be, but from the latter place to their objective point, Indian trails only were found and followed, and quite frequently the horses had to swim with their burdens at the crossing of streams.
Mrs. SANDERSON also remembers that Dr. IRVIN, a gentleman of education, as well as skilled in his profession, taught the first school in the Connoquenessing settlement near Whitestown, in 1799. The pioneer Presbyterian preacher, Rev. John MCPHERRIN, was likewise well known to her. On the 9th day of [p.412] March 1819, she was married to Robert FINDLEY, and the same year they began housekeeping on the premises where she now resides, near the village of West Sunbury. Their nearest neighbor then was David PATTERSON, who lived to the southward, and nearly two miles away. Besides the FINLEYS and PATTERSONS, the MCMICHAELS, MCELVAINS, GLENNS, CHRISTYS, GRAHAMS, TIMBLINS, ALLENS, and a few others were also located within the limits of the present township, but probably there were not to exceed twenty five families in all in 1819. Stephen ALLEN was an early school teacher, and taught at various points. Mrs. SANDERSON has had four husbands. She was married to Robert FINDLEY in 1819, to George LOUDEN in 1845, to George EMERICK in 1859, and to Henry SANDERSON in 1870. By her first marriage she became the mother of her only child, a daughter, who died when five years of age. Yet, at various times she has assumed the care of and reared eleven orphan children, besides keeping others for months at a time.
The increase of population in Clay Township has been but gradual, never at any period rapid. Yet, the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of many of the Butler County pioneers now reside here, and mention of them-irrespective of order (in a chronological order), will be given in the succeeding paragraphs.
Archibald KELLY, the great-grandfather of James W. KELLY, Esq. (at present of the village of West Sunbury), came from one of the oldest settlements east of the Alleghanies, and settled in what is now Parker Township, as early as 1795. He was of Scotch ancestry, a rigid, yet honest man, and a school teacher. Of his large family, Thomas, John, David, Andrew, James and William were the names of his sons. They were farmers, large, able-bodied men, and all become heads of families, except William, who died a bachelor. Thomas, the eldest, had two sons (Thomas and James) and four or five daughters. Of these sons, Thomas became a resident of Washington Township, and the father of nine children--James W., John T., Richard, Thomas D., Melvin, John M., Melinda, Mellie and Isabella, of whom Melvin, John M. and Isabella are dead.
Samuel LOUDEN was born in Huntingdon County (in the vicinity of the present city of Altoona) in 1810. His father died early, and though still retaining his name, he became the adopted son of John MONTGOMERY. In 1818, the latter removed to Franklin Township, Butler County, and LOUDON continued with his benefactor until about twenty-five years of age. He then married Miss Eliza Ann BREWSTER, and for three years thereafter rented a farm in near the White Oak Springs. Meanwhile Mr. MONTGOMERY had become the owner of the unimproved premises now known as the LOUDEN farm, in Clay Township, and about 1838 presented it to Mr. LOUDEN, who at once occupied it. The children of Samuel LOUDEN were Mary Jane, Rachel, Rebecca, John M., Catharine, Matilda and Almira, of whom the two first mentioned are dead. Mr. LOUDEN died May 18, 1880, his wife, October 8, 1862. During the late war, he served as Captain of Company C, Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserves. In consequence of ill-health, he was honorably discharged for disability. He has also been prominent in various militia organizations, serving as Captain and Major of the "Martin Battalion."
Andrew PORTER was born in Venango County, Penn., December 14, 1816, and remained there until 1837, when he became a resident of the present township of Cherry. Ten years later, or in 1847, he visited Michigan, and after a few months' sojourn returned to Butler County. He married Mary, daughter of Joseph GLENN, and after an interval of three years, again returned to Michigan, where he remained until 1875, when he settled where he now resides, in the northeast corner of Clay Township. For eighteen months he taught the Indians at the "Old" or "Daughtery Mission," and from 1852 to 1871, the Ottawas and Chippewas, at Bear River Mission. His great-grandfather came from Ireland and settled in Chester County, Penn., where Andrew, Sr., his father was born.
Among the earliest settlers of Butler County were the ancestors of P. P. BROWN, of West Sunbury Village, who is a native of Penn Township, and who served during the war of the rebellion in the Thirteenth Pennsylvania Infantry, One Hundred and Thirty Fourth Pennsylvania Infantry, and Thirteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, respectively as private, First Lieutenant and Second Sergeant. His great-grandfather on his mother's side, John PIERCE, came from New Jersey and settled two miles southwest from Butler Borough, in 1796. Mr. PIERCE was the father of eleven children, and lived to the age of one hundred and one years. John BROWN, the grandfather of P. P. BROWN, came to the vicinity of the Glade Mills, Middlesex Township, from Westmoreland County, about the year 1798. He had ten children, seven sons and three daughters, of whom Robert was the eldest child. The latter had eleven children, ten of whom are living, and named as follows: Margaret J., Elsie, John M., P. P., Samuel, Robert, Mary, Sarah E., James and Ephraim O. The mother of these children also survives, but Robert, the father, died in 1861.
John MECHLING, was a native of Germany and an early settler in Washington Township, while his brother, Jacob, was an early and prominent resident of Butler. Of the three sons and six or seven daughters of John MECHLING. William (the father of [p.413] John MECHLING, of West Sunbury Borough) was the oldest, and his (William's) children, eight in number, were George W., John, Henry C., Joseph, Sophia (the last two being twins), Isaac N., William S. and Lycurgus. William removed to Scioto, Ohio, about 1853, and died there. The others are all living. George W. and Lycurgus are ministers of the Presbyterian Church, and during the War of the rebellion, Henry C., Isaac N., William S. and Lycurgus served as soldiers in the Union army. John, the second son of William, and the grandson of John MECHLING, of Washington Township, first mentioned, is a furniture dealer, etc., in West Sunbury. He has had six children born to him, viz.: Albert, George W., Chlotilda, Mary A., Florence and Emma S., all of whom are living except the last named, who died when four years of age.
Joseph THORN, the grandfather of the present Joseph W. THORN, of Clay Township, came from Westmoreland County, and settled in what is now known as Oakland Township, about 1797. He had three sons and five daughters, of whom Robert was the father of Joseph W. THORN. Robert THORN attained the age of ninety-one years, and died upon the premises he was the first to improve. He had ten children, named Jane, Prudence G., John M., Joseph W., Sarah, James, Mary, Martha, Robert and Alexander S., of whom Joseph W., Sarah, Martha and Alexander S. only, are living. Alexander S. THORN being a Presbyterian minister and editor of a newspaper at Harrison, Mo. Joseph W. THORN located where he now resides, in Clay Township, in 1859. His only child, Oliver R., is the result of a second marriage.
In 1803, James BARTLEY, accompanied by his wife, came from Ireland and settled in the central part of Butler County. He was the father of eleven sons and one daughter. David, the seventh child of the family, was born in 1815. On attaining his majority, he followed brick-making for a considerable period, and made the brick of which "Concord Church" is constructed. His first wife was Sarah, a daughter of Hugh WASSON. About 1846, he purchased of his father-in-law a tract of unimproved land, being the same premises still occupied by him. His first wife did not long survive, and he afterward married a Miss PHILLIPS who is still with him. He is the father of eight children, all of whom are living.
The MCCLUNGS, of Butler County, are of Scotch ancestry and their forefathers were among the earliest settlers of Maryland. Charles MCCLUNG (the father of Charles MCCLUNG, of Clay Township) was born in Maryland March 15, 1781. When a small boy, his parents removed to the vicinity of Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Penn., where he grew to manhood and learned the trade of making spinning wheels, etc. a business which he followed for many years, sometimes employing three or four assistants. In 1803, he became a resident of what is now Fairview Township, Butler County, and soon after he married Miss Jane ROBINSON, of Westmoreland. She died in October 1842. In 1854, he located in Concord Township, just west of the hamlet of Buena Vista. He finally became a resident of the village of Sunbury, and died there December 24, 1866. He was the father of seven sons and five daughters. Of the sons, six are living, viz,: Robert R., John, Charles, David, Samuel and James. William, the other son, died in 1879.
S. P. PAINTER, born in Westmoreland County in 1835, became a resident of Butler County in 1840, and located where he now resides in the spring of 1859. He is known as one of the most extensive coal operators in Clay Township.
The SUTTONS were early settlers in New Jersey. There, Jesse SUTTON, one of the pioneers of Western Pennsylvania, was born and married, and about the year 1790, accompanied by his wife and two children, viz., Jacob and Isaac, he migrated to the westward and found a home, until 1815, near the forks of the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers. At the latter place John was born in 1796, Jesse, Jr., in 1798, and Phineas, the youngest, making five sons in all. In 1815, the whole family removed from the forks of the rivers mentioned to a point in Butler County, about six miles south of the town of Butler, where the parents and sons, except John and Jesse, remained permanently during the remainder of their lives. In 1829, the sons last named, i.e., John and Jesse, sought homes in the township now known as Clay. John SUTTON, Sr., was the father of seven children, four of whom are now living, John SUTTON, residing in the southern part of the township, being one of them. Jesse SUTTON is the father of three daughters, all living-Margaret E., wife of R. B. CONN; Sarah, wife of William CONN; and Olive, wife of Albert MILLER. He was eighty-four years of age August 7, 1882, and is the only member of his father's family living.
Robert MCCANDLESS was born in Ireland, and emigrated from there to Centre Township, Butler County, Penn., about the year 1803. He married Miss Elizabeth TURK, and about 1820 located on unimproved lands in the present township of Clay, the premises now owned by his son, Redick. He died in June, 1879, after attaining the age of more that ninety-one years. His wife died in 1876. Their children, six in all, were Emma, Martha, David, John, Wilson and Redick. Three important veins of coal were found in the region settled by Robert MCCANDLESS, the first, or upper one, being from [p.414] three and one half to seven feet in thickness, the middle one is four feet thick, and the lower one (which is near the surface of the valley) is five feet in thickness.
The CHRISTLEYS are of German origin and were among the early residents of Lancaster County, Penn. Soon after the close of the Revolutionary war, George CHRISTLEY (the grandfather of James P.) removed from Lancaster to Westmoreland County, Penn. His children were William, John, Michael, George, Samuel, Curtis, Polly, Peggy, Catherine and Betsey. Of these children, Mrs. Polly COOPER, of Mercer County, Penn., is the only one now living. John (the second son of George CHRISTLEY) who was born in Westmoreland County in 1797, became an early settler in Mercer County, Penn., but in 1822 he located in the vicinity of Centerville, Butler County, Penn., where he remained until his death, in 1872. His children were James P., born in Mercer County, 1821, and now living in Clay Township; William G., deceased; John H., living; Sarah J. KOCKENBERRY, living; Sarah E. MOORE, living at Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Samuel J.* who was a member of the Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserves, was killed at the second battle of Bull Run, Va.; Catherine F. BRUCE, living; Curtis I., living, who also served in the army; Margaret C. FOSTER, living; and Caroline FOSTER, living. James P. CHRISTLEY was married to Miss Mahala KEISTER in 1846, and has resided where he is now to be found since the spring of 1866. His children are Jacob S., Melvin H., Milton, Emma V., Thompson, Elmer E., Margaret A., Mabel, Mary H. and Horace G.
*Samuel J. CHRISTLEY was the first volunteer from Slippery Rock Township, and William MOORE was the first to enlist from Worth Township. They were, as citizens and soldiers, devoted, unswerving friends. MOORE was killed at the Battle of Gaines' Hill, Va., June 27, 1862, and at the Second battle of Bull Run, Va. Samuel J. CHRISTLEY, Sergeant of Company D., Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserve Corps, fell in the forefront of battle. Prior to that, however, he had written a most appropriate obituary article on the death of his comrade, which, after his death, was found in his (CHRISTLEY's) knapsack. See Butler American of April 1, 1863.
During the early part of this century, John STONER removed from Bedford to Lawrence County, Penn., and as early as 1820 the family made another removal to Beaver County. Andrew STONER (son of John) became a resident of Clay Township in 1852. He was the father of twelve children, of whom ten are now living. Two sons, viz., W. J. and Charles S., served during the late war in Company B, One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The former was wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg, Va.
James MCJUNKIN came from the North of Ireland, and in the year 1798 located upon the 400-acre tract now owned for the most part by his son, John R. MCJUNKIN. The first night int he wilderness was passed by sleeping upon a huge sandstone rock, which stood near the site of the large barn on the homestead. A small log cabin was erected at once, however, which served as a dwelling until about 1830, when a substantial house of hewed logs was built, to be succeeded in turn by the present brick structure, which was erected in 1861, by John R. MCJUNKIN. The elder Mr. MCJUNKIN (James) was married soon after his settlement in this county to Miss TURK, and by her he had two sons, viz., David and William. She died early, and in 1818 he was married again to Miss Nancy TURNER. The children by this marriage were Mary Ann, James, Hannah, Samuel, John R. and Sarah J., twins, Martha and Susan; of whom James, John C., Hannah, Sarah J. and Susan are living. The father died March 6, 1833, and his second wife, February 25, 1858. When James MCJUNKIN died, he left his wife and a large family of little ones still struggling upon an encumbered estate, the conditions of its purchase not yet fulfilled. As a consequence, men denominated in those days "land jobbers," ever on the alert to take advantage of one's pecuniary distress, stepped forward and obtained possession of three-fourths of the tract. However, the widow and the children managed successfully. One of her sons was elected County Register and Recorder, also to represent this district in the State Legislature, while another son (John R.) besides being known as one of the most respected citizens of the township and county, has succeeded in again obtaining possession of 350 of the 400 acres first settled by his father, and also owns eighty acres in a separate tract. James MCJUNKIN, Sr., had two brothers, viz., David and John, and two sisters, who settled in this part of the county, besides a cousin named William MCJUNKIN, who was the first to occupy the BRACKNEY farm.
In the MCJUNKIN neighborhood was erected the first church edifice (in church history) and the first school building in this part of Butler County. The first schoolhouse, which stood near the present Muddy Creek Presbyterian Church, was built in 1827, of the logs which formed the first church building. One side of the interior was occupied by a large fire place. In summer an opening the width of one log extending around the three remaining sides, afforded space for the penetration of light. In winter these open spaces were covered with greased paper. The building when used either as a church or schoolhouse, had no floor, and the sittings were rude and rough benches hewed from the trunks of trees. Thomas ALLEN, Joseph STERRITT and Stephen ALLEN were the early subscription teachers. After the adoption of the free school law in 1834, Daniel CARTER and others, among them, John R. MCJUNKIN officiated as teachers.
Robert GIBSON, a native of Ireland, was one of the early settlers of Westmoreland County, Penn. In [p.415] that county he married Miss Jane KARNS, and there, on the 17th day of January 1797, was born their son, William GIBSON. About the time of the birth of his son, the father visited Kentucky upon some business, when he was thrown from his horse and killed. Mrs. GIBSON, with her child (then but six weeks old) then moved to the vicinity since known as the town of Butler, Penn. Seven years later, or in 1804, she was again married, to John POTTS, one of the earliest merchants of Butler. William GIBSON, having become one of the most popular young men in that county, was appointed County Treasurer in 1821. In 1822, he married Miss Agnes GILCHRIST. He was the candidate for Sheriff on the Democratic ticket in 1824, and in 1826, while serving as Deputy for Sheriff William BEATTY, he settled on the premises (in the present township of Clay) where he now resides. To him and his first wife were born John, William, Margaret, Mary Ann, and Juliet. His wife, Agnes, died in September, 1838, and in 1842 he married Miss Mary W. SHANNON, who is now living, also a son of his named James W. GIBSON.
Although nearly eight-six years of age, and an invalid for many years by means of terrible injuries received in a fall from his barn, Mr. GIBSON remembers that, during the war of 1812, the farmers of Butler County were paid $1 per bushel for oats, many of them thus being enable to pay for their lands at once, and in 1826, when he first came to Muddy Creek to reside the Muddy Creek Church had no floor other than nature afforded, and not a single individual came to church in a light wagon or buggy.
James WEBB, together with his three sons, viz., Edward, John and James, Jr., came from Franklin County and settled in Allegheny County, Penn., about 1796. Edward, the oldest son, seems to have been of a migratory nature, and resided for various periods in different counties of Western Pennsylvania. He had five sons, viz., John, James, Edward, Jr., Andrew and Newton, besides three daughters. His oldest son is the present John WEBB of Clay Township. The latter purchased the tract where he now resides in 1832, and has since been known as one of the most practical and successful farmers of the county.
Robert HOCKENBERRY came from Juniata County, Penn., about the year 1810, and first settled near the locality now known as West Liberty, or Bulger Post Office, Butler County. After remaining there some years, he removed to a farm, now the site of Coaltown, in Cherry Township, and another change found him located on the lands now owned by John SMITH, Esq., of Cherry Township, where he died. Some of his children were born in Juniata County, others in Butler County. Their names were John, William, Benjamin, Joseph, George, Margaret and Rebecca. The latter of whom became the wife of George RALSTON. Of the sons, John married Mary J. CHRISTLEY, and their children were Bertram L., now a resident of Cherry Township, Dr. Harvey D., now practicing medicine at the village of West Sunbury, and Isadore, who marred Alfred CHRISTY, of Cherry Township.
A brother of Robert HOCKENBERRY, named Peter, was also a resident of Cherry Township many years ago, his chief occupation being hunting; but he finally removed to Michigan, where he accumulated considerable worldly wealth. Other HOCKENBERRYS (cousins of Robert and Peter) became settlers in this part of the Butler County, and among them were brothers named Jonathan, who located in the west part of Clay Township, Casper, Joseph and others, who settled some few miles to the southwest of Jonathan.
Quite early in the history of Westmoreland County, Penn., being a time when the Indians were still hostile, and when all the settlers, very frequently, fled to forts and block-houses for safety, Elisha WICK, his wife, and a family of small children, removed from the State of New Jersey, to Loyalhanna, in the county just mentioned. Among his children were sons named John, Elisha, Jr. and Jeremiah. The family remained in Westmoreland County, however, until 1796, when all the settlers in Sugar Creek Township, Armstrong County, where the father, mother and Elisha, Jr., * remained until their deaths. John, the eldest son of Elisha, Sr., was a millwright, or at least engaged in mill operations for years, and ultimately settled in the western part of Clay Township, while Jeremiah married Miss Isabelle BROWNFIELD, of Armstrong County, and made that county his home until 1828, when he came to the vicinity of West Sunbury and purchased the property owned for many years prior to that time by Rev. John MCPHERRIN. On these premises (now owned by John COULTER, son of Rev. James COULTER), Jeremiah WICK died in 1863. His children (ten of whom were living at the time of his death) were Andrew, now living near West Sunbury; John, deceased; William, now a resident of Concord Township; Elisha, deceased; Jeremiah C., who married Rebecca GLENN, and was for years a prominent resident of West Sunbury, but is now deceased; Sarah, who never married, and is now living with her brother, Andrew; Isabelle, who married John COULTER, and is still living; Mary (deceased) married Hugh P. CONWAY; Rachel (living) who marred Hugh R. CONWAY; and Eliza A. (living) married Harrison CONWAY. Andrew WICK, the oldest [p.416] son of Jeremiah, married Sarah SHRYOCK in April, 1835. Their children have been Alfred, the present proprietor of the "WICK House," in Butler; John S., now of West Sunbury Village; Bell, who marred James MCCLUNG; Richard C., who was a member of Company C, One Hundred and Third Pennsylvania Volunteers, died in the Andersonville, Ga., prison pen; and Ida May, who at the age of seventeen years died in 1876. Four other children died when quite small. On the first day of January, 1835, Andrew WICK** first began selling goods in the little village of West Sunbury, an occupation he followed together with farming and dealing extensively in live stock for twenty-one years.
*Elisha WICK, Jr., was out with the Pennsylvania troops during the war of 1812. He was also the father of three physicians, all of whom were practicing during the same period of time.
**According to Mr. WICK's recollection the village contained but three buildings January 1, 1835, viz: DUNLAP's house, blacksmith shop, and the building occupied by WICK as a store. All the buildings were of logs.
About the year 1800, the brothers, Joseph, John*, James, William and Samuel GLENN, came from Westmoreland County, Penn., and located upon lands now situated mostly in the northeast corner of Clay and the southwest corner of Washington Townships. Their father, however, had visited this region, and purchased the land, but died just prior to the removal of his sons and widow to this locality. There were three sisters, also, named Margaret, who married David FINDLAY; Mary, who married a Dr. COWDEN; and another who married a Mr. PORTER. Of the brothers mentioned, Joseph married Annis MCELVAIN; John married Dorcas MCELVAIN; James married Anna CAMPBELL; William married Rebecca PORTER, and Samuel married Jane CONWAY. None of the elder members of the GLENN family now survive. The children of Samuel and Jane GLENN were Mary, who married Elisha WICK; Rebecca, who married Jeremiah C. WICK (brother of Elisha); Jane, who married William EKIN, also C. FOSTER; William C., who marred Rachel BORLAND; Sarah, who married Edward GRAHAM; and Margaret, who married Dr. E. J. SAY, of Oil City, and George CRAGER.
* Capt. John GLENN was in command of a company of Pennsylvania Volunteers during the years 1812-15. He also served as Justice of the Peace for thirty years.
Jacob BEIGHLEY settled in this township about 1800. All of his children are dead excepting one son, Jacob. The other sons were Adam, Daniel, Christian, John, Samuel and Henry.
The ALLENS, BROWNS, BRACKNEYS, BOYDS, BLACKS, CRANMERS, CHRISTYS, CAROTHERS, DOBSONS, GOULDS, GALLAGHERS, HALLS, MILFORDS, MILLERS, MCDEVITTS, MCCALLS, MCKISSICKS, PRYORS, RALSTONS, STOUGHTONS, SANDERSONS, TEBAYS, and WILSONS, were among the early settlers of Clay. In 1854,* however, at the time the present township boundary lines were defined, the resident tax payers of the township, each were as follows: Ephraim ALLEN, Thomas ALLEN, Nancy ALLEN, Stephen ALLEN, Samuel ANDERSON, Robert ALLEN, John AGGAS, James ALLEN, John BROWN, Jacob BROWN, Christian BROWN'S estate, David BARRON's estate; John BLACK, Benjamin BRACKNEY, Christian BEIGHLEY, John BEIGHLEY's heirs, John BOWEN, Henry L. BEIGHLEY, Jesse BRACKNEY**, Thomas BRACKNEY, William BARRON, Jacob BEIGHLEY, George BOYD, David BARTLEY, John BADGER (carpenter), Thomas BOYD, Rev. William P. BREADEN, Robert BROWN, William BEIGHLEY, Miller BEIGHLEY, Isaiah BROWN, Z. BAKER, John L. BRACKNEY, Jr., Alexander BLACK, George W. BRATTON, W. H. BRATTON, Asaph CRANMER***, Thomas CAROTHERS, Joseph W. CHRISTY, Hugh R. CONWAY, John CAROTHERS (of Thomas), Hugh CAROTHERS, David CRANMER, James CRANMER, Joseph CONN, Israel CRANMER, John CRANMER, George CURRY, William CAROTHERS, Jr., William CAROTHERS, Sr., John CAROTHERS, James DOBSON, John DUNLAP, Henry DEER, James DOBSON, Jr., John DOBSON, William DOBSON, Jr., William DOBSON, Sr., John DIXON, Carson DOBSON, Jonathan DETRICK, George L. DOBSON, Jonathan DOBSON, James EKIN, Martin EKIN, Samuel FINDLAY, James FINDLAY, Mary FINDLAY, John FOX, David C. FOWLER, physician, Robert GOULD, Alexander GALLAGHER, William GORDON, Hugh GALLAGHER, Samuel GOULD, Jesse GLENN, John GLENN, James GLENN, William GIBSON, John W. GOULD, John GALLAGHER, Neal GALLAGHER, Peter GRUBB, Samuel GLENN, Henry GEORGE, H. HOCKENBERRY, Susan HUMPHREY, John HARPER, Andrew HINDMAN, Philip HOLSTINE, Philip HELD, Jesse HALL, W. A. HOGUE, James HOGUE, James HERRON, William P. HALL, Jane HAYS, George HINDMAN, Pierce KELLY, George KILDOO, Jesse KNOX, George LOUDON, Samuel LOUDON, H. C. LINN, physician, James MILFORD, John MILLER, Henry MILLER, George MEANS, James MCJUNKIN, Samuel MCELVAIN, Benjamin MILLER, John MCDEVITT, Thomas MCELVAIN's heirs, George W. MCCANDLESS, Christian MILLER, John L. MCCANDLESS, Christopher MCMICHAEL, Robert MCCANDLESS (of D.), W. W. MCCALL, John R. MCJUNKIN, William MCCALL, Sr., William MEALS, H.S. MCCANDLESS, David C. MCCANDLESS, John MECHLING, John MUNTS, John MCCALL, Robert MCKISSICK, Ezekiel MAYBERRY, David MILFORD, Daniel MCKISSICK, John MCDEVITT, Jr., John MCKISSICK, John MCDEVITT, Jr., John MCKISSICK, Cornelius MCCLAFFERTY, Nancy MCGRATH, Joseph MECHLING, Thomas O'CONNOR, David PATTERSON, Susan and Rebecca PATTERSON, Robert L. PETERS, Robert PATTERSON, Robert PATTERSON's heirs, John PRYOR, Sr., David PATTERSON, Jr., William PATTERSON, John PRYOR's heirs, William PRYOR, Eli PATTERSON, John PRYOR, Jr., George RALSTON, Mary Ann RIDDLE, Peter [p.417] RHODES, Albert RHODES, John B. RUSSELL, Samuel STOUGHTON, William STOUGHTON, Jacob SANDERSON, Andrew STOUGHTON, Stephen SHULL, Jesse SUTTON, John SUTTON, C. C. SULLIVAN, James STOUGHTON, Philip SANDERSON, Hugh STEVENSON, James STEVENSON, Luke STEVENSON, Jeremiah SUTTON's heirs, John W. SNYDER, Matthew STOUGHTON, James S. SHIELDS, William TIMBLIN (of Joseph), George TIMBLIN, Jr., Thomas C. THOMPSON, Thomas TEBAY, Thomas TEBAY, Jr., William TEBAY, Margaret TIMBLIN, Elizabeth, Nancy, and Susan TIMBLIN, James THOMPSON (of John), Isaiah E. TIMBLIN, Robert W. THOMPSON, Joseph VENSEL, David VANCE, Lewis VENSEL, Isabella WADDELL, James WILSON, Jr., Jeremiah WICK, Sr., A. W. WASSON, Elisha WICK, Andrew WICK, John WICK, Sr., William WASSON (of Hugh), John WEBB, John WILSON, Jeremiah C. WICK, William WICK, James M. WRIGHT, Allen WILSON, Thomas WASSON (of Thomas), Edward WEBB, Andrew WEBB, James WILSON, Sr., Ann WASSON, James YOUNG, John YOUNG.
*The total valuation of all property taxable for State and county purposes in 1855 was $65,693, upon which a county tax of $390.89, and a State tax of $195.34, was levied. In comparison with the foregoing figures, we find that in 1880, the number of taxables was 317, aggregate value of real estate taxable, $249,187; aggregate value of all property taxable for county purposes, $269,649. This last statement does not include the borough of West Sunbury, which, in 1880, had ninety-six taxables, and an aggregate value of all property taxable for county purposes of $33,334.
**Collector in 1855.
***Assessor in 1855.
Robert GRAHAM, a nephew of Samuel FINDLEY, was the first to settle upon and improve any portion of the village site. Afterwards, as early as 1818, the brothers, James and John GILCHRIST, became the owners of a large tract situated hereabouts, which included the lands formerly occupied by GRAHAM. About the year 1828, James GILCHRIST, as proprietor, caused a village plat to be surveyed--Campbell PURVIANCE being the surveyor--and within a year or two sold a considerable number of lots at the rate of from five to ten dollars each.
Of those who purchased early, was Robert DUNLAP*, a blacksmith, who, becoming the owner of four lots situated at the foot of the hill on the west side of Main street--erected a log house, also a log blacksmith shop thereon, in the summer of 1829, and during the fall of the same year became the first resident of the village. Soon after Andrew WICK, Jr., John WICK, John SMITH, and Henry A. THOMAS, a Welshman, joined him as village residents.
*Thomas DUNLAP was married January 1, 1828. His first child, John, was born December 25, of the same year, and November 12, 1830, the first child was born in the village, viz., Mary Jane, daughter of Thomas DUNLAP, now the wife of James BOVARD.
John THOMPSON (the father of Thomas C. THOMPSON) was a native of Ireland, and while still a resident of the Green Isle, married Miss Martha HUMES. Soon after that event he emigrated to America, and arrive at Philadelphia about the year 1796. From thence he removed to the vicinity of the present town of McKeesport, where he remained until 1799, when he located in what is now known as the township of Brady, Butler County, Penn.
The children of John and Mary THOMPSON were Jane, William H., John, Margaret, Robert W., Thomas C., born June 24, 1805, Elizabeth, Martha, Mary, Humes and James, besides one who died in infancy, or twelve in all. Thomas C. at Sunbury Borough, and Mary, the widow of William COOPER, are the only ones of the children of John THOMPSON now living; eleven of them were married and became the heads of families. The father was ninety-two, and the mother eighty-five at the time of their deaths. The homestead in Brady is now owned by Newton, son of Humes THOMPSON, yet many others of the family reside in the vicinity.
Thomas C. THOMPSON was married, April 15, 1841, to Miss Sarah MCKINNEY. Of the eleven children born to them, William J., Robert J., Thomas H., Andrew R., Sarah Jane and Martha Ann are living. In 1837, Thomas C. THOMPSON came to the village and purchased the property where he now resided which consisted of 100 acres, but by buying from time to time small parcels, and vacant village lots, whose owners would rather dispose of than attempt to build upon, he eventually became the owner of 200 acres of land in and near by the village.
It is his recollection that the only inhabitants in the town, in 1837, were Dunlap SMITH, Thomas, and the brothers, Andrew and John WICK. The WICK brothers were then the proprietors of a small stock of groceries, etc., which were exposed for sale in a log building standing on the corner now occupied by J. S. WICK. Thomas, besides selling goods, occasionally [p. 418] made small quantities of gunpowder. George BOYD, however, was the first to keep a good and varied assortment of dry goods, groceries, etc., and was also the first tavern keeper and Postmaster. Dr. H. C. Linn, now of Butler, was the first physician to reside here. Joseph WASSON, a carpenter, also an early tavern keeper, was likewise prominently identified with the history of the village at an early day. He constructed Thomas THOMPSON's present dwelling house in 1839 and a year or two later, essayed to build the first house of worship of the United Presbyterian organization. Illustrative of life in the early days and the characteristics of some of the people, Mr. T. C. THOMPSON further relates that, for a number of years after the settlement of the county, it was customary for various bands of Indians--usually denominated Cornplanter Indians--to frequent the forests of Butler and hunt deer and other games then abounding. Especially was this their practice for two or three years immediately succeeding the war of 1812-13. The Indians would follow the chase for days and weeks at a time (meanwhile as each deer was killed it was neatly dressed and hung up on some convenient tree, beyond the reach of wolves and dogs), and at the close of their hunting season the carcasses were gathered together and taken to the common camping grounds.
During the early spring succeeding the last winter's hunt by the Indians in this part of the county, Young THOMPSON and one or two of his brothers, in passing through a wood, discovered the carcass of a deer still hanging where it had been placed by some successful hunter, and supposing that it had been forgotten by the Indian hunter (who had departed long before), it was pulled down by the boys and thrown to the dogs. The boys told of their adventure in the forest, and soon the story was known throughout the neighborhood. A few days later, therefore, "Old Bob" PATTERSON appeared at the Thompson residence, very angry apparently, and after stating to Mrs. THOMPSON, Sr., that he was aware that his boys had found and destroyed a deer's carcass belonging to him (PATTERSON) demanded pay for the same.
With the passing of years, the population and business of the village slowly but gradually increased. The first Methodist Episcopal Church edifice was built in 1851. Rev. William T. DICKSON assumed charge of and organized the academy in 1855, and in 1860, the Presbyterian Church was organized. Six years later, or in 1866, it was deemed best and expedient to have the village incorporated, and finally, in answer to the petition of a majority of its inhabitants the Court of Quarter Sessions proclaimed the borough of West Sunbury as formed, and ordered an election of officers, etc., etc.
The officers elected in the early spring of 1866 were: Allen WILSON, Burgess; H. C. LINN, Peter RHODES, J. C. WICK, Charles MCCLUNG and A. B. RHODES, Town Council. The first meeting of the council was held at the house of A. B. RHODES, on the 24th of March following, when A. B. RHODES was elected Secretary, and Allen WILSON, H. C. LINN and Peter RHODES were chosen as a committee to frame ordinances for the use of the borough.
1867, Allen WILSON, Burgess; H. C. LINN, Peter RHODES, J. C. WICK, Charles MCCLUNG, and A. B. RHODES, Town Council; 1868, same as in 1866 and 1867; 1869, Allen WILSON, Burgess; H.C. LINN, John MECHLING, James W. KELLY, Peter RHODES and A. B. RHODES, Town Council; 1870, same as in 1869, 1871, no record; 1872 Allen WILSON, Burgess; John MECHLING, John DUFFY, S. A. SHULL; John M. MCCARRIER, and James W. Kelly; 1873, Allen WILSON, Burgess; John MECHLING, John DUFFY, S. A. SHULL, Charles MCCLUNG and James W. KELLY, Town Council; 1874, James W. KELLY, Burgess; J. S. WICK, S. A. SCHULL, F. M. CAMPBELL, J. C. DUFFY and J. C. GLENN, Town Council; 1875, no record; 1876, Charles MCCLUNG, Burgess; John MECHLING, J. S. WICK, J. R. CAMPBELL, Andrew DONALDSON and James W. KELLY, Town Council; 1877, John MECHLING, Burgess; W. BREADEN, Ebenezer ADAMS, William C. GLENN, Dr. Andrew DONALDSON, and A. B. RHODES, Town Council; 1878, A. R. THOMPSON, Burgess; A. B. RHODES, Dr. Andrew DONALDSON, Ebenezer ADAMS, P. W. CONWAY and Dr. H. C. LINN, Council; 1879, A. R. THOMPSON, Burgess; Dr. A. DONALDSON, Ebenezer ADAMS, Howard PRYOR, W. J. BREADEN and P. P. BROWN, Council; 1880, W. W. DUNLAP, Burgess; A. B. RHODES, J. R. CAMPBELL, E. C. ADAMS, George W. MECHLING and W. J. BREADEN, Council; 1881, Joseph MECHLING, Burgess; E. C. ADAMS, R. MCCALMONT, W. J. BREADEN, A. R. THOMPSON and H. C. PRYOR, Council; 1882, William J. BREADEN, Burgess; Ebenezer C. ADAMS, Allen CAMPBELL, C. W. WICK, Robert MCCALMONT and Joseph MECHLING, Council.
The borough had seventy-one voters in the spring of 1882-representing a population of about 75, and its business and professional men of the present are as follows: BREADEN & CONWAY, dealers in general merchandise; James PRYOR & Co., dealers in dry goods, groceries, etc.; M. A. GARLACH, general merchandise; [p.419] James W. KELLY, Justice of the Peace, and dealer in groceries, notions, etc.; Susan KELLY , Postmistress; T. J. RUSSELL, druggist; John MECHLING, furniture, etc.; A. B. RHODES, tin store and hardware; C. W. WICK, proprietor of the WICK House; MECHLING Bros. (Albert and George W.), carriage-makers; P. P. BROWN, harness-maker and dealer in books, stationery, etc.; James MCCARRIER, confectioner; MCKINNEY & ADAMS, proprietors of meat market; James R. and Allen CAMPBELL, proprietors of steam grist mill; Sylvester ENGLISH, Superintendent of steam stave mill; John DUNLAP, W. W. DUNLAP and Lewis DUFFORD, blacksmiths; J. D. DUNLAP and Amos TIMBLIN, shoe-makers; H. D. HOCKENBERRY and O. A. RHODES, Physicians; Rev. George W. BEAN, pastor of Presbyterian Church, also principal of the Sunbury Academy; Rev. C. L. STREAMER, pastor of the Lutheran congregations in the vicinity; and Albert MECHLING, Justice of the Peace.
The early records of this church have not been preserved, however, or at least, are no longer accessible; it appears that the first preaching of the Gospel here was in 1799. Rev. John MCPHERRIN, the first preacher to visit this neighborhood, was a warm, zealous and able minister, eminently well fitted for the work to which he was called. He was a member of the Presbytery of Redstone, in Westmoreland County, Penn., when he came as an evangelist and preached at Muddy Creek. Subsequently, others came and preached occasionally until 1803, when Mr. MCPHERRIN returned, and in the following year a call was extended to him to become pastor of this church, which had been organized some time before. In 1805, he was duly installed as pastor of Muddy Creek Church, in connection with two neighboring organizations, giving one-third of his ministerial labors to each.
In 1813, Mr. MCPHERRIN appears to have resigned his charge of Muddy Creek, and the church remained without a pastor until 1823, when Rev. John COULTER (then a licentiate of the Presbytery of Ohio) was called to the pastorate of it in connections with Butler and Concord. Mr. COULTER continued until 1850, when he resigned the charge of Muddy Creek after a very successful pastorate of twenty seven years.
The church then remained without a pastor until 1853, when Rev. Alexander CUNNINGHAM was installed. He served very acceptably one half of the time, until 1856, when he was released on account of ill health.
The present pastor--Rev. Samuel WILLIAMS-- was licensed to preach on the 5th of June, 1856, and on the same day was engaged to serve the church of Muddy Creek as stated supply. On the 10th of August following, he began to labor in this church, and November 5 accepted a call to become its pastor. He was ordained April 14, 1857, and May 23 following was installed as pastor. Then for a period of nearly thirteen years, or until July 1, 1869, his ministerial labors were equally divided between Muddy Creek and Centerville Churches. Muddy Creek when asked and obtained the whole of his time. This arrangement continued until January 1, 1878, since which period his time had been equally divided between Muddy Creek and the newly organized church of Unionville-which is a colony from Muddy Creek.
Thus this church has had four pastors, the first continuing about nine years, the second twenty-seven years, the third about four years and the fourth, now more than twenty-five years. Among the officers, early friends and supporters of the Presbyterian Church of Muddy Creek, many of whose descendants are still numbered among its members, were the MCJUNKINS, MCCANDLESSES, THOMPSONS, WALLACES, THORNS, NEWMANS, ALLISONS, GIBSONS, TURKS, SNYDERS, WICKS, WIGHTONS, COBERTS, CAMPBELLS, MCCALLS, ALLSWORTHS, FINDLEYS, ALLENS and others whose names are recorded on high.
This, like other churches in this region, was small and humble at the beginning, in accordance with the simplicity of the times and the limited resources of the people. The first house of worship was a small log structure, about twenty-four feet in dimensions, and covered with clapboards. About the year 1824, the second church edifice was erected. It was constructed of hewed logs and roofed with oak shingles. It was a much larger and better building than the first, being thirty by sixty feet in size, ceiled and plastered, and warmed by stoves. It was at that time considered one of the best churches in the Presbytery. For two years prior to the completion of this house, the congregation worshiped in a grove (the preacher occupying a tent) during the summer season, and in the dwelling houses of the people in winter. And it has been mentioned as a special providential favor, that during all that time the con- [p.420] gregation was never once incommoded by storm or rain during public worship. But, the first Sabbath after the house was ready for occupancy, being a communion Sabbath, they had concluded to hold the services as usual in the grove. Just as the services began, however, the sky was overcast with clouds, and the assembled people were driven into the house by a violent storm of wind and rain. The present house of worship, a substantial and commodious brick structure, was finished about 1852. It is fifty feet wide and sixty feet in length, well proportioned, comfortable and in every way well adapted to the purposes of a sanctuary. As to the spiritual life of this church, during most of its history, it has enjoyed precious evidences of the divine favor and blessing. Its growth has been moderate but constant. Since the beginning of the present pastorate, the additions number three hundred and forty-four. The church has been blessed with some seasons of special religious interest, which may be properly termed revivals of religion. The first of these was in 1858, when forty-four persons were added to the church during the year. Another revival was enjoyed in 1877, when a still larger number were gathered into the church. It has its Sabbath school, prayer-meetings and Ladies' Missionary Society, all actively engaged in promoting the cause of religion at home, and sending the Gospel abroad. In view of the past, there is reason for thankfulness, and hope for the future. [From MSS. kindly furnished by the pastor--Rev. Samuel WILLIAMS--under date of August 25, 1882.]
Lutheran Church.-- A decade or more ago the Lutherans organized and built a church edifice in the village of West Sunbury, of which Mr. Peter RHODES, merchant, was a prominent member. The congregation was small however, and it being found difficult to maintain an organization there, its members, not many years since, joined the Springdale Lutheran Church, situated in the southwest corner of Concord Township (see history of that township).
United Presbyterian Church.-- The United Presbyterian congregation of West Sunbury seems to have been organized about the year 1840, by the union of two small associations known respectively as Associate Reformed Presbyterians, and Seceders. For some years prior to the year mentioned, however, the families representing these denominations had been visited frequently, yet at irregular intervals, by missionaries sent out by those (of older organizations) having the matter in charge. The missionaries were usually of European birth.
However, in 1840, Samuel EKIN (who might be termed the father of this church) deeded to the Associate Reformed Church of Sunbury four acres of land on which to erect a church edifice and establish a burial ground. The deed being made a matter of record in Book M, County Record of Deeds, July 1, 1840. During the same year, it was determined to erect a house of worship, whereupon a subscription paper was circulated in the immediate vicinity, when ninety men, representing various religious denominations, as well as a considerable number of non-denominationalists, subscribed to the building fund to the amount of $443.45. John SMITH, Samuel LOUDEN and Joseph W. CHRISTY were thereupon appointed a building committee. They contracted with Joseph WASSON to erect a framed building forty feet square, and one story in height (the same to be completed January 1, 1842), for the sum of $700. The latter began the work soon after, and framed the timbers, etc., but the endeavor to erect and stay the frame work under his management was unsuccessful, the whole collapsed and fell to the ground and WASSON gave up the task in disgust. Peter GRUBB, John BRACKNEY, Stephen SCHULL, John BREWSTER and others then completed the building, and it was first occupied for the purpose for which it was built in the fall of 1843.
At that time, the regular communicants did not number many more than twenty-five, among the male members being Stephen ALLEN, John THOMPSON, Dunbar CHRISTY, Robert FINDLEY, William MCMICHAEL, Joseph W. CHRISTY, Samuel EKIN, William GILCHRIST, Samuel LOUDON, William CARUTHERS, John PRYOR, Peter GRUBB, Gideon GRUBB, Jacob WOLFORD, Christopher MCMICHAEL, John SMITH and William THOMPSON.
In December 1843, James WILSON, William GILCHRIST, John BREWSTER, John PRYOR, William EKIN and Jacob WOLFORD were elected as the first trustees of the "Associate Reformed Presbyterian Congregation of Sunbury," and in November 1848, the organization was incorporated according to the laws of the State.
The present church edifice, which is fifty by seventy feet, ground plan, and will seat seven hundred persons, was commenced in October, 1858, and finished one year later, the builder, Hugh SPROUL, doing the work for $2,100. The present communicants of this congregation number one hundred and fifty-six.
Of the pastors of this church, Rev. Robert W. OLIVER was the first, but did not remain long-- preaching but once in the house completed in the autumn of 1843--by reason of his wife becoming insane. In July, 1844, Rev. William P. BREADEN* was [p.421] called and began preaching one third of the time, for $166 per annum. He continued here until his death, in 1880, and during the more than thirty-five years of his pastorate here is received into the church about one thousand communicants. Messrs. Christopher MCMICHAEL, William GILCHRIST and Dunbar CHRISTY, have each served for many years.
*Rev. William P. BREADEN was born in Raccoon Township, Beaver County, Penn, in the year 1815. His father was a native of County Down, Ireland, and one of the earliest settlers of Beaver County. Having finished his course of studies at Alleghany City, Penn., and Xenia, Ohio, Mr. BREADEN was licensed to preach in 1840, and during the years 184-42 he preached at various points in [p.421] Iowa. In 1843, he began preaching at Evansburg and Portersville in this (Butler) county, and in the summer of 1844 at Sunbury one-third of the time. Early in life he married Miss Charlotte KLINE who, as his widow, still resides in Clay Township. To them were born five children, all living, and names as follows: Mary, wife of Rev. E. M. MCELREE; J. C.; W. J.; Rev. J. H., at present of Mount Pleasant U. P. Church, Beaver County, Penn.; and Mrs. Matilda C. CONWAY, of West Sunbury. Mr. BREADEN died May 13, 1880.
Since the death of Mr. BREADEN, the congregation has been supplied by Revs. Mr. ROSEBERG, FRAZIER, MCDOWELL, GARVIN, and Clarence DODGE, the latter being the stated supply at present, preaching every Sabbath.
Methodist Episcopal Church.-- This organization was formed in the winter of 1848-49, when a series of meetings were held in the schoolhouse in the village of West Sunbury by Rev. Edwin Hull. Among the original members of the class were William M. GRAHAM, John M. BRACKNEY and his wife Martha E., Jerusha BRACKNEY, Andrew MCPHERRIN, and his sister, Isaac MANN, John DUNLAP and Susannah HUMPHREY. Mr. GRAHAM served as the first class leader. Afterward Mr. John M. BRACKNEY became the leader , and continued as such for years.
The first house of worship was commenced in 1850, and finished a year or two later. Thomas C. THOMPSON, Esq., donated the site, and completed the structure; cost about $800. Its dimensions were twenty eight by forty feet, and it was used by the congregation until the completion of the second, or present church edifice (in 1868), when it was sold to the proper authorities for school purposes, and is still in use as the public school building of the borough. The present house of worship is forty by fifty feet, and cost $2,200.
When first organized, this church was in the Clintonville Circuit, but for several years has been connected with the "North Washington Circuit" (composed of churches at West Sunbury, North Washington, Greece City and Annandale). Rev. J. L. STRATTON, who resides at North Washington, is the preacher now in charge. His predecessors, however, since Mr. HULL organized this church, have been S. BAIRD, J. RIGELSWORTH, D. M. STEVER, J. G. THOMPSON, J. C. Y. MCCLELLAND, J. H. VANCE, J. MCCOMB, S. A. MILROY, R. B. BOYD, W. A. CLARK, G. W. MOORE, A. H. DOMER, John PERRY, W. HAYES, J. K. MENDENHALL, J. CRUM, W. BRANFIELD, J. C. RHODES, AND James CLYDE.
Presbyterian Church.-- The Presbyterian Church of West Sunbury was organized September 4, 1860, by a committee of the Presbytery, consisted of Revs. Loyal YOUNG, R. B. WALKER and Samuel WILLIAMS. The original members, thirty-seven in number, were received on certificates from other churches. H. C. LINN, M.D., and J. W. THORNE were the first Elders. After its organization, Rev. John COULTER served as pastor of this church in connection with Concord for more than three years. Succeeding him came Rev. James COULTER, who supplied this church in connection with Pleasant Valley, form 1864 to 1871. Meanwhile, Samuel MCELVAINE and William C. GLENN were installed Ruling Elders in December, 1865.
In March, 1872, Rev. A. L. THORNE, as stated supply, began his labor here and at Pleasant Valley, and continued for two years. His successor was Rev. William T. DICKSON, who began to minister to this congregation (in connection with his work in the Academy) in March 1875, and continued until his death in February, 1877. Under his ministry there was a season of spiritual awakening more marked than any previously enjoyed. During the early part of the summer following the demise of Mr. DICKSON, Rev. Jesse C. BRUSE supplied the pulpit, and from August 12, 1877, to May, 1878, Rev. George W. BEAN preached as stated supply. In May, 1878, however, the latter was duly installed as pastor, a relation which continues to exist at this writing. Messrs. Samuel HILLARD and J. S. WICK were installed as Elders in January, 1878, and in April, 1880, Messrs. Andrew PORTER, P. W. CONWAY and C. R. GLENN were added to that body. We remark here, that all who have been elected Ruling Elders, are still members of the session, except Dr. H. C. LYNN, who is now a resident of Butler, Penn. Since the organization of this church, two hundred and ten members have been received on examination, and one hundred and thirty added on certificates, or a total of three hundred and forty. Of this number, two hundred and eleven have been dismissed or died, leaving the present membership one hundred and twenty-nine.
The first house of worship occupied by this congregation stood in the southern part of the village. It is now used as a dwelling house. The present church edifice was erected in 1873, and completed; cost $5,000.
West Sunbury Academy.-- The West Sunbury Academy, a chartered institution, is pleasantly located in the village of the same name. Concerning its early history, its inception, etc., it appears that in 1853, a scholarly gentleman from the South, who called himself William THOMAS (but whose correct name was Rev. William Thomas HAMILTON), came here and established a private school, wherein were taught studies of a higher grade that those usually pursued in the public schools. His object, it seems, was more for the purpose of having something to occupy his [p.422] attention, than the pecuniary gains derived from his teaching, for his pupils were limited to about fifteen in number. This school was continued for two or three terms, when Mr. THOMAS departed.
However, a considerable number of those instructed had by this time learned the great importance and needs of a higher course of instruction for their sons and daughters. Hence, in 1855, when the Rev. William T. DICKSON (a Presbyterian minister, and an educator, as well as a native of Butler County) and his wife,* en route for the State of Tennessee, stopped at Sunbury for a few days, for the purpose of visiting acquaintances, it was proposed to him by various leading citizens to remain here and establish a high school. He finally consented, and as a result, with himself and wife as teachers, an academic school was established, which was a success from the beginning.
*Mrs. DICKSON is a native of Portland, Me.
A building now occupied by John DUNLAP was occupied until the fall of 1861, when through the efforts of people in the village and the country surrounding, the present academy building was completed and occupied. The Sunbury Academy was then in a flourishing condition, and its capacity, during the winter months at least, was tested to its full. But a terrible and desolating civil war had already been ushered in. The hydra-headed monster, treason, secession, slavery and its extension, had its adherents and advocates in the North as well as in the South, and the government at Washington needed the services of the loyal youth everywhere, their brave hearts and willing hands to keep the starry banner from trailing, aye, more than that, to carry and maintain it in the forefront of battle. In response to the President's call for volunteers, therefore, the "DICKSON Guards" (composed of many of the Academy boys) was organized in the summer of 1861, and under the command of Capt. Samuel LOUDON, marched to the front and joined the Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserves, as Company C. Afterward, Mr. DICKSON joined the same regiment as Chaplain, remaining in the field one year.
Returning from the army, Mr. DICKSON again assumed charge of the academy for a few months. He then, with his family, removed to Pine Grove, Penn., where he remained eleven years. During these years the Sunbury Academy was not in a flourishing condition, and for three years prior to 1875, its doors had been closed. In the autumn of that years (1875), however, Mr. and Mrs. DICKSON returned to West Sunbury. The academy building was repaired, and the sessions resumed under their management. Mr. DICKSON died in February 1877, since which time Mrs. DICKSON with various assistants has remained in control. Seventy students are now attending and under the principalship of Rev. George W. BEAN the fame and prosperity of the West Sunbury Academy is in no wise decreasing. Many lawyers, ministers of the Gospel, and prominent men of business have already gone out from it. Doubtless many more will do so in the future.
[End of Chapter 46--Clay Township: History of Butler County, Pennsylvania. With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Waterman, Watkins, & Co., Chicago, 1883.]
Edited 10 Mar 2000, 18:44