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History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895

Clay Township, Chapter 50

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

Surnames in this chapter are:




[p. 568]

This township, which was organized in 1854, was named in honor of Henry CLAY, Kentucky's distinguished orator and statesman. It lies directly north of the center of the county, and is marked by high summits, such as that immediately south of West Sunbury, the peak about 7,000 feet to the northwest of the borough, and that just south of the Sunbury and West Liberty road. Each is at least 1,400 feet above ocean level, and from 250 to 300 feet above the bottom of Muddy creek, which rises near West Sunbury, and flowing westward through the south half of the township, crosses the township line at a point west of the Butler and Erie road. North, northeast and west of West Sunbury, many of the feeders of the Slippery Rock creek rise; while, in the southeast corner, two feeders of the Connoquenessing flow southward.

The Freeport and Kittanning coals are found in abundance. One of the pioneer coal banks was that on lands owned in later years by Samuel McELVAINE, near West Sunbury. The THOMPSON, McMICHAEL, PAINTER, PATTERSON, GLENN, MOCK AND HALL coal banks were all abundant producers of a good coal. They are the successors of the old banks near West Sunbury, and on the McANALLEN, [p. 569] the YOUNG and the Robert PATTERSON farms, which were abandoned prior to 1861. The banks opened by the CRAWFORDS, at a place they named Caledonia, and the STEELE and BLAIR mines at Standard, have only recently been abandoned. In 1894 the George S. STAGE mines were opened in the vicinity, and the new coal town named Claytonia. Building stone is abundant. Much of that used in the construction of the present court house at Butler was quarried on Jospeh [sic] KELLY's farm, near the west line of the township.

The population of the township in 1860, was 1,039; in 1870, 1,062; in 1880, 1,279, including West Sunbury, and in 1890, 1,076, and West Sunbury 238, or a total of 1,314. The assessed value January 1, 1894, was $313,337, on which a county tax of $1,253.35, and a State tax of $64.19 were levied.


The pioneers of Clay township were not, as a rule, strangers in Pennsylvania when they entered the forests of this section to establish homes. From the townships now known as Parker, Fairview, Centre, Brady, Butler and Penn came many of the families who made the first improvements in this part of the county. Hailing from northern Ireland, they brought into the wilderness strong hands and hearts, and converted it into a rich agricultural district.

Christopher McMICHAEL, a soldier of the Revolution, is credited with building a cabin, just east of West Sunbury, as early as 1797, but in the records of 1803 there is no mention made of him, though his son, William, is named as a taxpayer in what is now Cherry township.

John THORN, father of George THORN, who was born near West Sunbury, Butler county, in 1797, was one of the pioneers. James RUSSELL settled north of West Sunbury in 1797, but moved a few years later into Concord or Washington. Samuel FINDLEY, a soldier of the Revolution and an early settler of the county, with Robert, David and Samuel FINDLEY, Jr., may be named as pioneers of 1798. James McJUNKIN came from Ireland in 1798 and bought 400 acres of land. He died in 1833. William BARRON, said to be one of the BARRONs who settled on the north line of Marion or Venango township, was here in 1798. Jacob BEIGHLEY, who joined his brothers in Connoquenessing in 1797 or 1798, settled in Clay township about 1798 or 1799. Robert GRAHAM, who made the first improvement on the site of West Sunbury, must have settled here early in the first decade of the century. Joseph THORN appears to have come in about 1800, and died a few years later. The body was placed in a hollow log, to which oxen were hitched, and thus the rude coffin was hauled to the grave.

John PRYOR located here in 1803. Joseph, John, James, William and Samuel GLENN, Mrs. Jenet (STERLING) GLENN, Margaret, Mary, and one who married A.M. PORTER, came in 1808. The father, James, selected the lands, but died in Westmoreland county. John GLENN, known as Captain GLENN, commanded a company of Pennsylvania volunteers during the War of 1812. He also served several years as a justice of the peace.

Stephen ALLEN was one of the pioneers of Clay township. Robert ALLEN, who died in 1888, was born here in 1809. John ADAMS, a settler of 1820, was [p. 570] the father of twenty children. Robert McCANDLESS moved in from Centre in 1820. Asaph CRANMER came to this county in 1818 and to Clay township in 1823. William GIBSON, who was brought to Butler in 1797, when six weeks old, located here in 1827. Jeremiah WICK, who settled in Armstrong county in 1796, moved to Clay township in 1828. John and Jesse SUTTON moved up from the southwestern townships in 1829. THE BARTLEYs, pioneers of Penn township, are well represented in Clay, as are the THOMPSONs, who were pioneers of Brady. Rudolph BORTMASS settled in Clay township early. The McELVAINES, TIMBLINS and PATTERSONS may be classed among the pioneers, although they selected other townships for their first homes in this county.

John McDEVITT came from Tyrone county, Ireland, in 1825, and in 1830 purchased a farm in Clay township. John YOUNG, son of John, who came to Allegheny county, in 1790, from Ireland, settled in Clay township in 1830, though a resident of the county for some seventeen years before. Jacob BROWN, one of the pioneers, died July 3, 1837. His wife Catherine died February 28, 1819. Patrick McANALLEN, who came from Ireland in 1788 and to Butler county some years after, is represented in Clay township by William A. McANALLEN. Fergus HUTCHISON, who died in 1866, was one of the old settlers. The list of old settlers might be extended, but as biographical sketches of a majority of the pioneer families are given in other chapters, further mention of them is unnecessary.


The grist mill built by William CARRUTHERS over sixty years ago on the head of Findley Glade run, about two miles northwest of West Sunbury, was constructed of round logs and was a rude affair, with a large water wheel. Carruthers operated it until it was burned, about 1851. A dam was built about forty rods above the mill, whence the water was brought in a flume or series of hollow logs to an upright box over the wheels.

The old SHROYER grist mill on the Sunbury and West Liberty road, two and one-half miles west of West Sunbury, was one of the oldest industries in the township. Henry BLACK operated it fifty or sixty years ago. Dr. Josiah McCANDLESS built a new mill on the site of the old one about 1870, but in 1892 or 1893 it was removed, the material being used in other buildings. The old PAINTER planing mill at Euclid was converted into a chopping mill by Joseph MECHLING, and used as such until it was burned in February, 1894.

The flouring mill erected in 1871 at West Sunbury, after plans by Architect Reed BRYSON, was opened August 25, 1871. Allen WILSON, Charles McCLUNG and J.W. CHRISTY were the owners. J.C. BREADEN, George WOLFORD and William WICK are the present proprietors.


The first school house in the McJUNKIN district of Clay townshp was erected in 1824, the logs of the abandoned Muddy Creek Presbyterian church being used in its contruction.  Thomas ALLEN, Joseph STERRETT, Stephen ALLEN and one of the McELVAINES taught in this building. In 1835 it was turned over to the school [p. 571] district and Daniel CARTER employed to teach therein. John R. McJUNKIN came after CARTER.

In the second decade of the century Robert McELVAINE taught in a log house which stood north of the site of West Sunbury, but early in the third decade moved his headquarters to a log house adjacent to the old church near Middletown, in Concord township.

To-day there are six school buildings, in which six teachers are employed for eight months every year, the children of school age being 161 male and 166 female. The total revenue for school purposes in 1892-93 was $2,692.50, including $1,200.50 appropriated by the State, the respective school figures for West Sunbury being $681.42 and $345.50.

The justices of the peace for Clay township from 1857 to 1894 are named as follows, the old district justices holding over until 1857:  Thomas C. THOMPSON, 1857 and 1862;  John R. McJUNKIN, 1858, 1863, 1868 and 1881;  James PRYOR, 1866 and 1872;  C. McMICHAEL, 1873;  John P. CHRISTLEY, 1877;  James W. KELLY, 1882;  T.R. McCALL, 1883;  Simon P. PAINTER, 1886 and 1891;  R.R. McCANDLESS, 1887 and 1892;  Zenos McMICHAEL was elected vice PAINTER, deceased, in 1892.


Muddy Creek Presbyterian Church was organized in 1803, re-organized in 1823, and incorporated in 1864. Rev. John McPHERRIN preached in the neighborhood as early as 1799, and was stated supply for two years after organization, and pastor from 1805 to 1813. For ten years the society was without a pastor, but in 1823, Rev. John COULTER, a licentiate of the Ohio Presbytery, was installed as pastor. He resigned in 1850, and was succeeded in 1852 by Rev. Alexander CUNNINGHAM, who severed his connection with this church in 1856. Rev. Samuel WILLIAMS, who succeeded him the same year, was installed May 23, 1857. He is still the pastor and bids fair to round out a half-century of service in this congregation. The original members of the society were Robert WALLACE, Robert THORN, William and John NEYMAN, David FINDLEY and William McCANDLESS, all ruling elders; George, James and John McCANDLESS, Anthony and John THOMPSON, John McJUNKIN, James McJUNKIN, David McJUNKIN, Nathaniel ALLISON, John TURK, Conrad SNYDER, John WICK, John WIGTON, John COVERT, Andrew ALLSWORTH, Stephen ALLEN, James CAMPBELL and Samuel McCALL. In 1803 a log-house, twenty by twenty-four feet in size, was erected, which was used for meetings until 1824, when a hewn log house, thirty by sixty feet in size, was built, oak shingles being used for roofing. The interior was plastered and a plaster ceiling was introduced, so that it was then considered one of the finest Presbyterian churches within the limits of the Presbytery. The present brick building, fifty by sixty feet in size, was begun in 1845, and completed in 1852. It has been repeatedly repaired and appears substantial enough to endure for a century. The church was incorporated March 29, 1864, with the following trustees: Josiah McJUNKIN, John R. McJUNKIN, and James FINDLEY. The constitution as adopted December 7, 1863, was signed by Nathan F. McCANDLESS secretary. The membership at the close of 1894, was 125, a small number com- [p. 572]pared with former years, as the Unionville church, and other societies, organized in recent years, embrace many of its original members. Mr. WILLIAMS is one of the best known Presbyterian ministers in Butler county, where he has labored faithfully for nearly forty years.


Claytonia is the new name of Caledonia. Two brothers named CRAWFORD, opened a coal bank near the railroad some years ago, and the station was named Caledonia. The STEELE and BLAIR mines, once operated by the Standard Mining Company, have been abandoned, like the CRAWFORD banks. In 1894 George S. STAGE, of Greenville, opened mines in the vicinity and named the place Claytonia.

Jamisonville comprises a railroad depot and a farm house, but it is the shipping point for an extensive farming region.

Euclid is a new railroad town on the divide, between Slippery Rock and Muddy creeks. The place was known for years as "Centre School House." When the railroad was completed to the summit it was called "Sunbury Station," and shortly afterward named Euclid. The hamlet stands upon the MILLER and PAINTER farms, adjoining the George H. GRAHAM farm. The railroad depot, store and creamery are the business buildings of the place now, the saw and planing mill and the old creamery having been destroyed by fire. The fire of February 9, 1894, originated in the old planing mill at Euclid, owned by Joseph MECHLING, who occupied a part of the building with his chopping mill; the other part contained a portable saw mill owned by B.B. McCANDLESS, Warren THOMPSON, Jasper KIESTER and Joseph MECHLING.

[End of Chapter 50 - Clay Township: History of Butler County Pennsylvania, R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895]

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Updated 07 Jan 2000, 12:06