History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895

Oakland Township, Chapter 48

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Transcribed by: Ed Monnie For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.
Link to a sketch of Oakland Township from the Atlas of Butler County, G.M. Hopkins & Co., 1874.

Surnames in this chapter are:

ALLISON, ALPHONS, ANDRE, ANGERT, ANSELM, BALDAUF, BAKER, BALL, BALPH, BARTLEY, BAUMGARTNER, BECK, BECKER, BIPPUS, BISH, BLANEY, BLATT, BONIFAZ, BOOTH, BORTMAS, BOYD, BRANDSTETTER, BRADY, BRENNAN, BYERS, CALL, CAMPBELL, CHRISTY, COCHRAN, CONWAY, COOPER, CRAIG, DAVIN, DEVLIN, DIGNAM, DINSMORE, DOUGLASS, EISENHUT, ETZEL, EYTH, FLEEGER, FREIDMAN, GEIBEL, GERSTNER, GILLESPIE, GOLD, GRAHAM, GREEN, GREER, GRIM, HAMILTON, HEINZ, HENRY, HEPPERT, HESEDENS, HILDEBRAND, HILL, HILLIARD, HINTERLANG, HOOD, HOON, HUTCHISON, HIRCH, JACK, KEISER, KIHN, KLAUS, KOLB, KREBS, LARIMORE, LEINENBACH, LOWE, LUTZ, MARIA, MARSHALL, MARTIN, McCASKEY, McCLUNG, McELWEE, McGINLEY, McGRATH, McJUNKIN, McKINNEY, McKISSICK, McMURTRY, McPHERRIN, MILLER, MILLINGER, MONNIE, MOSER, MULLER, MUNSTER, NEFF, NEU, NEYMAN, O'DONNELL, OSWALD, PANCRAZ, PATTON, PHELAN, PHILLIPS, PISTORIUS, PROVERT, RAY, REED, REID, RIDDLE, RITTER, RITZERT, ROBB, RODGERS, ROGERS, ROSENBERGER, ROWE, RUSSELL, SABLINE, SANDER, SCHERER, SCHOLL, SCHMIDT, SCHULTES, SCOTT, SHARRAR, SHOUP, SLATOR, SPARR, SPRECHER, STEGHER, STEIN, STEPHENSON, STROUP, STUBNER, SUPPLIE, TEMPLE, THOMA, THOMAS, THOMPSON, THORN, VARNUM, WATERS, WEILAND, WHITMIRE, WICK, WITTE, WILL, WIMER, WOLF, WOODRUFF.


CHAPTER XLVIII

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP

[p. 556]
ORGANIZATION -- STATISTICS -- PIONEERS -- SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS -- CHURCHES AND CEMETERIES -- JUSTICES OF THE PEACE -- VILLAGES -- SECRET SOCIETIES

This township formed a part of the original Buffalo and Middlesex townships down to 1804, when it became a part of the original Donegal and Butler townships. In the forties, when the partial re-subdivision of northern Butler was effected, the territory was in North Butler and Donegal, and so remained until 1854, when it was established under its present name and within its present boundaries.

The population in 1860, was 919; in 1870, 926; in 1880, 1,039, and in 1890, 1,198. In June, 1893, there were 102 male ans 119 female children of school age reported. The assessed value on January 1, 1894, was $275,181; the county tax levied, $1,100.73, and the State tax, $171. For the year ending June 1, 1893, a sum of $2,614.98 was received for the six schools, of which the sum of $1,280.81 was appropriated by the state.

PIONEERS

The settlement of Oakland township may be said to have been contemporary with that of Butler township, and almost contemporary with that of Donegal. The honors of pioneership belong, in the first instance, to the O'DONNELLS, of Donegal county, Ireland and the Whitmires, of Berks county, Pennsylvania. Connell O'DONNELL immigrated from Ireland in 1798, and selected 500 acres in this division of Butler county the same year, but he only survived his comming fifteen[p. 557]years. In the same year Francis WHITMIRE arrived, settled and resided here until his death in 1832. Thomas DUGAN, a native of Ireland, may be said to have located here before the turn of the century with his wife, Grace O'DONNELL. For a few years after his arrival in this country he worked in the Bear Creek furnace, but it is said made his home in what is now Oakland. John GREEN and John LOWE are said to have been here in 1798.

Samuel HAMILTON and John ROBB owned 1200 acres before the county was organized. WIlliam ROBB purchased in 1810 a tract of 260 acres from Samuel or Robert RIDDLE, with the cabin thereon. RIDDLE had made a small clearing some years before, and Samuel RIDDLE resided there prior to its sale. John MOSER, Sr., a Revolutionary soldier, and son John, a single man, had some interests here even before the establishment of the county in 1800, and, it is said, they were here as early as 1797-98. William HUTCHISON and his brothers, George and Alexander, came before the close of the century and took a leading part in civil and Military affairs

John NEYMAN brought his family from Westmoreland county during the War of 1812. His brother William had been living near the mouth of Bonny Brook, in what is now Summit township, since 1799, where he conducted grist, saw and carding mills for several years before removing inti Oakland. John first located on the MILLINGER farm, and subsequently erected a grist and carding mill on Stony run, where the McGRATH mill stands, in Center township, but many years later returned to his original settlement in this township. William NEYMAN also removed into Oakland, and erected a mill on the Thomas McKISSICK farm, known as the PHILLIPS grist mill.

James DOUGLASS, the owner of a distillery in 1803, moved into Oakland about 1814, made a clearing and erected a cabin. Robert HAMILTON took possession of the land and cabin when he came here in 1818. henry HOON came after HAMILTON; Daniel McELWEE settled on Enoch VARNUM's pre-exemption in 1822; James PATTON arrived in 1829, and another branch of the PATTON family in 1836; The STROUPS came from Germany in 1834, and the EYTHs in 1839; and during the quarter century following a large contingent of Germans from Bavaria, Wurtemburg and other Teutonic countries flocked hither to seek for and find homes, and numbersof pioneer families of other townships, such as the BALPHs and MARTINs, also came here at an early period. In later years representatives of the old families of Clearfield and Donegal selected lands in this township. The sketches of the Catholics, Presbyterian and Baptist churches give the names of about all the old residents of Oakland.

SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS

The first school was established by "Connoquenessing John," or John THOMPSON, in 1817, in the abandonedcabin of James DOUGLASS. How long "Connoquenessing John" presided there is not known. Seventeen years after his coming the common school law was adopted, and a newer order of teachers took the place of John Thompson and his brother pedagogues. Two houses were erected in1834, one near where Martin EYTH located in 1839. Herein the faces of William GREER, John and Robert THORN, Jacob BOYD, Abraham STEPHENSON,[pg 558] William McCLUNG, Jojn O'DONNELL, John L. NEYMAN, David SCOTT, James REID, WIlliam CHRISTY, Isaac HILL, John McPHERRIN, Abraham FLEEGER, Zachariah PHILLIPS, Thomas BALPH, William RAY, Isaac HILLIARD and Mrs. HOOD were familiar ones to the children of the pioneers. Prior to 1847 George Muller taught the Catholic school near the line of Summit, and other teachers followed him, the system being patronized by thr Catholic people, who had also to pay taxes for the support of the common schools. To-day there are six school houses in the township, and its educational interests will compare favorably with other portions of the county.

CHURCHES AND CEMETERIES

St. Joseph's Catholic Church (German) dates back in its personnel to the very beginning of the township, or at the close of the missionary period in this particular part of Pennsylvania. There was no church building here, however, until 1847, when a frame edifice was erected in the cemetery lot of two acres, donated by John HEPPERT and Wendell SCHOLL. Among the German families in the new parish were those of Conrad ANGERT, Michael ANGERT, Joseph BALL, John BALL, P. BLATT, Joseph GRAHAM, Philip HEINZ, Peter and Philip HILDEBRAND, M. KLAUS, Joseph Munster, John NEFF, Egid NEFF, Joseph OSWALD, Carl OSWALD, Conrad RITZERT, Herman RITZERT, Frank RITZERT, Jacob SCHERER, Joseph SCHULTES, Andrew SCHMIDT, John STEIN, Lorenzo WITTE and Adam WILL. The following named priests of St. Mary's Monestery have had chargf of the parish since 1877: Fathers Fidelis MARIA, 1877; PANCRAZ, 1879; ANDRES, 1882; PANCRAZ, 1884; ANSELM, 1885; BONIFAZ, 1888, and PANCRAZ, the present pastor, all of the order of Capuchin priests. prior to 1877 the priests named in the history of St. Joseph's Church (English) officiated here. In 1872 a Gothic building, in brick, was erected by the German, French and English-speaking Catholics of the district east of the old church, and therein the congregation worshiped until 1877, when the English-speaking people asked for a separate parish government. The demand was granted, and the German-speaking people re-possed the old church of 1847, enlarged and restored it and built a parsonage and school house. Thus, to 1877, may be credited the foundation of St. Joseph's German Catholic Church parish, for on July 15 that year, the Right Rev. Richard PHELAN dedicated the restored church. In 1883 the nave was frescoed by Adolph STUBNER, of Pittsburg; in 1888 the roof was raised to permit an increase of seven in the height of walls, and the same year a steeple, seventy-five feet high above the tower, was constructed. In the cemetery adjoining are interred many of the men and women whose industry converted the wilderness into a garden of peace and plenty.

St. Joseph's Catholic Church (English) was founded in 1847, as related in the history of the present German parish; but it was a mere mission or station, attended from St. Mary's, of Summit township; St. Patrick's, of Armstrong county; St. Peter's, of Butler, or St. John's, of Clearfield township, for many years. Father LONG, it is said, offered the midnight mass on Christmas, 1847. Father Leander SNERR was the first resident priest, making his home at North Oakland for three years. Father GREGORY succeeded him; then came Father DEVLIN; next, Father STEGHER, and then in order of admistration, Fathers [pg 559] John RITTER, Thomas DAVLIN, Edward DIGNAM, Robert WATERS, WALSH and BRENAN. Among the English-speaking members of the congregation were the McGINLEYs, O'DONNELLs, GILLESPIEs, CONWAYs, BRADYs, and, in fact, all the English-speaking Catholics in what is now ST. Joseph's parish. On July 29, 1869, there was deeded to Bishop DOMENEC, in trust for St. Joseph's Catholic congregation of Oakland township, a tract of five acres and 130 perches of land, the consideration, $1,000 being paid to DanielS. and Eleanor H. RODGERS. In 1872 measures were taken to provide a new church, the Germans lending every aid to the undertaking, and the present Gothic building was dedicated in 1873. The style is rather of the Norman-Gothic order, with central tower and symmetrical spire. red brick is used throughout, in walls, buttresses and tower, and the whole exterior bears evidence of what the people contributed toward raising a house worthy of Him whom they worship. The interior shows the nave, aisles, transept, chancel and vestibule of this order of architecture. The altars are works of art; while a few of the windows show how the glass stainer's art is appreciated in Oakland. The congregation is composed of 350 persons. In rear of the church is the parochial residence, erected in 1877 or 1878.

St. Wendelin's Catholic Church, on or near the line of Summit township, was founded in 1847, for the German and English-speaking people who had settled in the neighborhood. The congregation comprised originally, the families of Hubert GRIM, Jacob GERSTNER, John KIRCH, John SANDERS, John PISTORIUS, Peter HESEDENS, Matthias KIHN, Peter LEINENBACH, John and Peter SPRECHER, Christian GEIBEL, Peter BALDAUF, Henry GEIBEL, Charles GEIBEL and George MÜLLER. In 1849 a log chapel was constructed, and at the same time, a house for the school teacher, George MÜLLER. When a priest would not be present on Sundays, the people would visit the primitive church for prayer, and this system was observed down to 1876, when Father Alphons BRADSTETTER, O.C.C., became pastor. The priests of St. Mary's took charge of the parish in 1880, when Father Joseph L. BECKER. O.M. Cap., succeeded Father BRANDSTETTER. The names of his successors are:- Fathers Angelus BAUMGARTNER, 1881; Trenaeus KOLB, 1882; Boniface ROSENBERGER, 1883; Andrew EISENHUT, 1885; Lawrence BECK, 1886-92; Godhard FRIEDMAN 1892, and Philian LUTZ, 1893. In 1860 a new chapel, now used as a school house was built; but in 1875 a frame building, seventy-two by thirty-seven feet, was erected, which was blkessed that year, Father Alphons, O.C.C., saying the mass therin on Christmas day. There were then twenty-one families in the congregation, including the NEU, WEILAND, HINTERLANG, THOMA and KREBS families, with those who belonged in 1847. In 1894 there were thirty families oe 120 individuals members forming the congregation.

North Butler Presbyterian Church was organized January 18, 1848, while the territory yet formed a part of North Butler township. There were then belonging the following named members: Samuel JACK, Joseph THORN, John RUSSELL, Wilson M. CALL, Isaac ROBB and their wives, and Mrs. William NEYMAN. The first elders were Messrs. JACK, THORN and ROBB, with Mr. Thorn as clerk. Rev. John P. MILLER was pastor (though not installed until 1852), and John RUSSELL, Joseph THORN and Fergus HUTCHISON trustees. The people met for worship in the HUTCHISON house, until a regular place of meeting was erected,[pg 560]in 1848-49, in place of the one burned in April, 1848. Mr. Miller preached until 1859 when he was dismissed. From that period to 1865, when Rev. J. H. Marshall came, the pulpit had supplies. In February, 1869, Mr. Marshall was released, and died in the fall of that year. Since that time there has been no regular pastor. Following are the names of the elders: William DINSMORE, J.L. NEYMAN and Archibald McJUNKIN, 1858; A. McCASKEWY, William C. ROBB, 1863; Isaac ROBB, John L. NEYMAN, W. J. HUTCHISON, W. H. NEYMAN and Christy ROBB, being the latter day members of the session. The present church is the third building erected by this society. The foundation was laid in 1878 and the edifice completed at a cost of about $1,500.

Beulah Baptist Church was organized March 13, 1861, the following named persons being among the first members: William and Robert HUTCHISON, Mina, Maria, James, Caroline and Sarah C. HUTCHISON, J.B. and Nancy LARIMORE, Hugh Gold, Lewis S. and Sarah MILLINGER, Ruth, Rachel and Noah HENRY, Emma COCHRAN, Charles and Jane McCLUNG, and Henry and Tillie A. MONNIE.Among the pastors were Revs. E. WOODRUFF, 1861-71; John TEMPLE, 1876-77; G.W. BAKER, 1878; Jacob BOOTH, E.W. PROVERT, W.H.H. McKINNEY and Revs. ROWE and WIMER. The church has been without a pastor for some years; but the organization is kept up, A.J. PATTON and L.S. MILLINGER being trustees, and L.A. MILLINGER clerk. There are about fifty members.

JUSTICES OF THE PEACE

The justices of the peace for Oakland township elected since its organization in 1854 down to 1894 are as follows: John L. NEYMAN, 1854 and 1869; Jeremiah MILLINGER, 1854; Casper SCHOLL, 1859, 1864 and 1869; Joseph McCASKEY, 1864; James REED, 1873 and 1878; A. HOON, 1877; Thomas CRAIG, 1882; J.G. BIPPUS, 1883; Philip OSWALD, 1884; E. NEFF; 1885; Jacob SLATOR,1886; Lewis BYERS, 1888; Robert HAMILTON, 1889; George Shoup, 1891; John M. HUTCHISON, 1891; W. M. WICK, 1892; J.W. BARTLEY, 1893, and W.J. ANDRE, 1894.

VILLAGES

The town of Springfield, near the Donegal township line, was surveyed for Adam BORTMAS in 1830, and lots were offered for sale on May 25 of that year. The town as then described was favorably located, being at the intersection of the Butler and Bear Creek and the Kittanning and Mercer roads. Stone-coal, limestone and fire-clay abounded, and fine springs were numerous. Grist and saw-mills were in operation in the neighborhood, and several prosperous farmers resided in the tributary country. These advantages were fully set forth inthe newspapers and by posters, but notwithstanding the efforts of Adam BORTMAS, little was accomplished toward establishing a town.

North Oakland was simply a cleared spot in the wilderness prior to 1847. That year St. Joseph's church was founded, and it became the center of a Catholic parish. In January, 1857, it was created a postal village, with Adam BALL postmaster. Daniel ROGERS succeeded him after the close of the war; in 1870 Adam RITZERT was appointed; in 1880 Dennis O'DONNELL, and in 1887 Mrs. Mary REED, who was the incumbent at the close of 1893. The completion of the[pg 561] largebrick church of St. Joseph, at an expense of $20,000, in 1878, brought the hamlet into prominence. The restoration of the old church in 1877, and the building of a school-house and pastoral residence, were important events in the history of the hamlet. The principal store in June, 1878, was conducted byAdam RITZERT, who was also hotel-keeper and postmaster. J.D. McELWEE carried on a general store, and George ANGERT the village blacksmith shop. The ETZEL and RITZERT addition to the village was surveyed in 1873, and lots were offered for sale. As a center of trade it was then a busy place, but since the decline in oil production its mercantile business has fallen off until one merchant now monopolizes the trade.

Woodbine, known years ago as "The Half Way House," is now purely pastoral in appearance and the pursuits of the people. The railroads annihilated the old-time stage routes and way stations, and the Woodbine tavern became a memory.

Boydstown came in 1873, like an April shower, leaving little impress on the township as a village. The well on the MARTIN farm, south of Boydstown, was drilled in 1873 and was known as a good producer. On April 9, of that year, the COOPER Brothers who had formerly operated near Karns City, struck rich sand and the oil was thrown twenty feet above the derrick. The face of the country was soon changed and, in the excitement, old settlers wished for the return of the days when ALLISON's mill was the only manufacturing industry, and agriculture the only hope of the people and their basis of prosperity. Boydstown was covered with homes, workshops, stores, restaurants and all the accompaniments of an oil town; but, in time, the oil ceased to flow and the population dwindled to a few persons. The postoffice is known as Sonora. Lewis SPARR was one of the early postmasters. On June 31, 1883, Andrew G. CAMPBELL, the present sheriff of Butler county, was appointed postmaster. From that time to the close of 1893 he was the only merchant of the village.

St. Joe Station was the name given to BLANEY's store when the Butler and Parker Narrow Gauge railroad was completed. The ANDRE store was built by W. E. BLANEY in the spring of 1884, on the THOMAS farm. It was enlarged in 1885 and again in 1886, and in 1888 the adjoining two-story addition was erected and both form the present ANDRE building. Mr. BLANEY was postmaster from July, 1887, to July, 1893, when W. J. ANDRE was appointed assistant postmaster. On the heights above the station is the older village of St. Joe, in Donegal township.

Oneida is a new railroad village near the western line of the township. Prior to the fall of 1893 it was simply a shipping pointfor ties and oak logs. Then the creamery was built, the farmers in the neighborhood forming a joint stock company with capital of $5,000.

SECRET SOCIETIES

St. Joe Tent, Number 56, K. O. T. M., was chartered March 16, 1888. W. H. FERGUSON was chosen commander, and W. E. BLANEY, recorder, since which time these offices have been filled as follows: Commanders-C. E. BALNEY, 1889; Jacob H. KEISER. 1890; John C. SABLINE, 1890; C. C. WOLF, 1891; A.[pg 562] SHARRAR, 1891; Joseph McMURTY, 1892; A. H. SUPPLIE, 1892-93-94. Recorders-Jacob H. KEISER, 1889; W. J. ANDRE, 1890-91; N. BISH, 1892-93-94. In June, 1891, Mr. ANDRE was elected finance keeper, which office he now fills, The lodge at one time counted fifty-six members, but owing to the organization of new lodges in the neighborhood, the number does not now exceed twenty.

The Sons of Temperance, organized June 13, 1890, was chartered June 16 of that year. It surrendered its charter in October, 1891. There were thirty-five charter members; but as there was nothing in the way of a tavern in the immediate neighborhood, the organization dissolved for want of opposition.

[End of Chapter 48 - Oakland Township: History of Butler County Pennsylvania, R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895]

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