Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister

Chapter I- General Description, Etc.

Erie County constitutes the extreme northwestern point of Pennsylvania, and is the only portion of the State that borders on Lake Erie. It is bounded on the north by Lake Erie, on the east by Chautauqua County, N. Y, and Warren County, Penn., on the south by Crawford County, Penn., and on the west by Ashtabula County, Ohio. The length of the county along the lake is about forty-five miles, along the Chautauqua and Warren County lines thirty-six miles, along that of Crawford County forty-five miles, and along the Ohio line nine miles. It contains 745 square miles, or 476,515 square acres. Its mean or center latitude is forty-two degrees north, and its longitude is three degrees west from Washington.

Up to the 24th of September, 1788, all of the State lying west of the Alleghany Mountains was embraced in Westmoreland and Washington Counties. On that date, the section north of the Ohio and west of the Allegheny to the Ohio line was set off as a new county, which was named after the latter river. Pittsburgh was designated as its county seat. The population was sparse, and it was not until ten years later that a necessity arose in the Northwest for a separate governmental organization. On the 4th of April, 1798, Erie Township was erected with the identical limits of the present county.

County and Township Organization
The counties of Erie, Butler, Beaver, Crawford, Mercer, Venango and Warren were created by an act of the Legislature of March 12, 1800, their seats of justice being named at the same time. Being unable to sustain a separate organization, five of these, Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Venango and Warren, were united in one organization for governmental purposes, with the general title of Crawford County, under an act passed April 9, 1801. The county seat was at Meadville, and one set of county officers and one member of the Assembly served for the whole five. This relation continued until 1803, when the first county officers were elected in Erie County.

The townships originally established in Erie County were sixteen in number, as follows:

Brokenstraw, Beaver Dam, "Coniaute," "Conniat," Elk Creek, Fairview, Greenfield, Harbor Creek, "Le Boeuff," Mill Creek, McKean, North East, Springfield, Union, Venango, Waterford.

The following townships have been added, making twenty-one in all: Amity, Franklin, Girard, Summit, Wayne.

The name of Brokenstraw was changed to Concord in 1821.
Amity was taken from Union in 1826.
Wayne was formed out of Concord in 1826.
Girard was set off from Elk Creek, Fairview and Springfield in 1832.
The name of "Coniaute" was changed to Washington in 1834.
That of Beaver Dam was changed to Greene in 1840.
Franklin was created out of parts of Washington, McKean and Elk Creek in 1844.
Summit was formed out of Greene, Waterford and McKean in 1854.

Cities, Boroughs and Villages
The following is a list of the cities, boroughs and villages in the county, with their distances from Erie by railroad and common road. The distances by common road are by the most direct routes, measuring from the city parks. Those by rail, via the Philadelphia & Erie road, are from the water's edge at the foot of State street, and those by the Lake Shore and Erie & Pittsburgh roads are from the Union Depot. The stars (*) in the first column of figures indicate that the towns are not upon the lines of railroad, but can be reached from Erie partly by rail and partly by common road. In such cases the distances are given as by the railroad station that is generally used, as, for instance, Girard, West Girard and Lockport by way of Miles Grove, Algion, Wellsburg and Cranesville by way of Albion Depot; Wattsburg and Lowville by way of Union City, and so on. Where but one set of figures is opposite a name, it is an indication that the place is reached by common road only:

PLACES

BY WHAT RAILROAD

DISTANCE BY RAIL

DISTANCE BY PUBLIC ROAD

Albion Depot

E. & P.

26

25

Albion Borough*

E. & P.

27

24

Avonia

L. S. & E. & P.

12

12.5

Belle Valley*

P. & E.

7

4

Branchville

--------------

-----

12

Beaver Dam*

P. & E.

34.5

26

Cherry Hill*

L. S. & E. & P.

30

27

Corry

P. & E.

37

33

Cranesville*

E. & P.

27

23

Draketown

--------------

-----

18

Edinboro

--------------

-----

18

Edenville*

P. & E.

25.5

22

East Springfield*

L. S.

22.5

21

Elgin

P. & E.

32

28

Freeport*

L. S.

16.5

16

Fairview Borough*

L. S. & E. & P.

12

12

Franklin Centre

--------------

-----

17

Girard Borough*

L. S. & E. & P.

17.5

16

Grahamville*

L. S.

18.5

18.5

Greenfield Village*

L. S.

24

18

Harbor Creek Village

L. S.

8

7.5

Hatch Hollow*

P. & E.

31

18

Kearsage

--------------

-----

4

Keepville

E. & P.

28

26.5

Lockport*

L. S.

21.5

20

Lowville*

P. & E.

37

18

Lovell's Station

P. & E.

34

30

Le Boeuf Station

P. & E.

22.5

19

McLellan's Corners

--------------

-----

21

Mooreheadville

L. S.

11

10.5

McLane

--------------

-----

14

Middleboro

--------------

-----

10

Miles Grove

L. S. & E. & P.

15.5

16

Mill Town

--------------

-----

14.5

Mill Village

P. & E. & A. & G. W.

34

19

Manchester*

L. S. & E. & P.

10

10

Northville

L. S.

20

19

North East Borough

L. S.

15

15

North Springfield

L. S.

20

21

Phillipsville

--------------

-----

14

Pageville*

E. & P.

32

28

Sterrettania

--------------

-----

12

Swanville

L. S. & E. & P.

9

9

St. Boniface

--------------

-----

7.5

Union City

P. & E.

27

23

West Greene

--------------

-----

12

Weigleville

--------------

-----

2.5

Wesleyville

L. S.

4

4.5

West Girard*

L. S. & E. & P.

18

16.5

West Springfield*

L. S. & E. & P.

27

25

Wellsburg*

E. & P.

28

24

Wattsburg*

P. & E.

35

20

Waterford Borough*

P. & E.

19.5

14

Waterford Station

P. & E.

19

14

Warrentown

--------------

-----

3

All points in the county accommodated by the Lake Shore Railroad can also by reached by the N. Y., C. & St. L., or "Nickel Plate" road.
The classification of the above places is as follows:
Cities -- Erie and Corry, 2.
Boroughs -- Albion, Edinboro, Elgin, Fairview, Girard, Lockport, Middleboro, Mill Village, North East, Union City, Wattsburg and Waterford, 12.
All of the rest are unincorporated villages, ranging in extent from a dozen to a hundred buildings, with a population of 50 to 450.

Organization of Cities and Boroughs
Erie was incorporated as a borough in 1805, having previously formed a part of Mill Creek Township; divided into two wards in 1840; granted a city charter in 1851; and divided into four wards in 1858. South Erie was set off from Mill Creek Township and incorporated as a borough in 1866; consolidated with the city in 1870, and became the Fifth and Sixth wards, some additions having been made from Mill Creek.

The following shows the years in which the boroughs were incorporated:

Waterford, 1833; Wattsburg, 1834; North East, 1834; Edinboro, 1840; Girard, 1846; Algion, 1861; Middleboro, 1861; Union Mills, 1863; Fairview, 1868; Mill Village, 1870; Lockport, 1870; Elgin, 1876.
Corry was established as a borough in 1863, and granted a city charter in 1866. It is divided into the First and Second Wards, each constituting an election district.
The name of Union Mills Borough was changed to Union City July 4, 1871.

Election Districts
Below is a list of the election districts in the county, alphabetically arranged. They are fifty in number:

Albion Borough

Fairview Township

Amity Township

Fairview Borough

Concord Township

Franklin Township

Conneaut Township

Girard Township

Corry City --

Girard Borough

    First Ward

Greene Township

    Second Ward

Greenfield Township

East Mill Creek

Harbor Creek Township

Edinboro Borough

Le Boeuf Township

Elgin Borough

Lockport Borough

Elk Creek Township

McKean Township

Erie City --

Middleboro Borough

    First Ward, First District

Mill Village Borough

    First Ward, Second District

North East Township

    First Ward, Third District

North East Borough

    Second Ward, First District

Springfield Township

    Second Ward, Second District

Summit Township

    Second Ward, Third District

Union Township

    Third Ward, First District

Union City Borough

    Third Ward, Second District

Venango Township

    Third Ward, Third District

Washington Township

    Fourth Ward, First District

Waterford Borough

    Fourth Ward, Second District

Wattsburg Borough

    Fourth Ward, Third District

Wayne Township

    Fifth Ward

West Mill Creek

    Sixth Ward

The First, Second, Third and Fourth Wards of Erie were divided into three election districts each in 1876, the limits of the several districts being as follows:

First Ward
    First District -- East of Parade, between the bay and lake and Eighth street.
    Second District -- From State to Parade, between Fifth and Eighth streets.
    Third District -- From State to Parade, between the bay and Fifth street.

Second Ward
    First District -- East of Parade, between Eighth and Eighteenth streets.
    Second District -- From State to Parade, between Eighth and Twelfth streets.
    Third District -- From State to Parade, between Twelfth and Eighteenth streets.

Third Ward
    First District -- From State to Chestnut, between Twelfth and Eighteenth streets.
    Second District -- From State to Chestnut, between Eighth and Twelfth streets.
    Third District -- West of Chestnut, between Eighth and Eighteenth streets.

Fourth Ward
    First District -- West of Chestnut, between the bay and Eighth street.
    Second District -- From State to Chestnut, between Fifth and Eighth streets.
    Third District -- From State to Chestnut, between the bay and Fifth streets.

Mill Creek was divided into the East and West Election Districts in 1864. They choose the same township officials, but separate election officers.

What Township Taken From, Etc.
The townships from which the cities and boroughs have been taken, and of which the unincorporated villages still remain a part, are as follows:

Albion Depot

Conneaut

Albion (borough)

Conneaut

Avonia

Fairview

Belle Valley

Mill Creek

Branchville

McKean

Beaver Dam

Wayne

Cherry Hill

Conneaut

Corry (city)

Wayne and Concord

Cranesville

Elk Creek

Draketown

Washington

East Springfield

Springfield

Edenboro (borough)

Washington

Edenville

Le Boeuf

Elgin (borough)

Concord

Erie (City)

Mill Creek

Freeport

North East

Fairview (borough)

Fairview

Franklin Centre

Franklin

Girard (borough)

Girard

Grahamville

North East

Greenfield

Greenfield

Harbor Creek

Harbor Creek

Hatch Hollow

Amity

Kearsage

Mill Creek

Keepville

Conneaut

Lockport (borough

Girard

Lowville

Venango

Lovel's Station

Concord

LeBoeuf Station

Le Boeuf

McLallen's Corners

Washington

Moorheadville

Harbor Creek

McLane

Washington

Middleboro (borough)

McKean

Miles Grove

Girard

Mill Town

Amity

Mill Village (borough)

Le Boeuf

Manchester

Fairview

Northville

North East

North East (borough)

North East

North Springfield

Springfield

Phillipsville

Venango

Pageville

Elk Creek

Sterrettania

McKean

Swanville

Fairview

St. Boniface

Greene

Union City (borough)

Union

Waterford (borough)

Waterford

Waterford Station

Waterford

Wattsburg (borough)

Venango

West Greene

Greene

Weigleville

Mill Creek

Wesleyville

Harbor Creek

West Girard

Girard

West Springfield

Springfield

Wellsburg

Elk Creek

Warrentown

Mill Creek

Post Offices
Below is a list of the post offices in the county. The figures annexed to some of the names indicate the years when the offices were started:

    Albion, Avonia, Belle Valley, 1856.

    Branchville, *Carter Hill, Cherry Hill, Corry, 1862. (Branchville and Carter Hill were discontinued in October, 1883.)

    *East Greene, 1830.

    E. Springfield, Edinboro, 1830.

    Elk Creek (Cranesville), Erie, Elgin, Fairview, Franklin Corners, Girard, Greenfield, *Godard, 1883.

    Harbor Creek, *Hamot (St. Boniface), 1881.

    *Hatch Hollow, Hornby, 1883.

    Kearsage, Keepville, Lake Pleasant (Mill Town), Le Boeuf, Lovell's Station, Lowville, 1867.

    Lundy's Lane (Wellsburg), McKean, 1836.

    (Middleboro), McLane, McLallen's Corners, Mill Village, Miles Grove, Moorheadville, North East, 1812.

    North Springfield, Northville, Phillipsville, 1820.

    Platea (Lockport), Six Mile Creek, 1876.

    Sterrettania, Swanville, Tracy, 1883.

    Union City, Waterford, 1801.

    Wattsburg, 1828.

    Wayne (Beaver Dam), Wesleyville, West Greene, *West Mill Creek, West Springfield.

Of the above, all except those marked with a star (*) have been sufficiently described. The others are located as follows: Carter Hill in Wayne Township; Godard in Summit; East Greene and Hamot in Greene; West Mill Creek in Mill Creek; Six Mile Creek in Greene, and Hornby in Greenfield.

Erie, Corry, North East and Union City are what are known as "Presidential offices," their incumbents being appointed by the President and subject to confirmation by the Senate. The salaries attached to them are: Erie, $2,600; Corry, $2,400; North East, $1,000; Union City, $1,600. The Postmaster General appoints to all the remaining offices, and his nominations do not have to go before the Senate.

The following are money order offices: Albion, Corry, East Springfield, Edinboro, Erie, Fairview, Girard, Lundy's Lane, Mill Village, North East, Union City, Waterford, Wattsburg, West Springfield.

Erie is the only letter carrier office.

Census
The first census of the county was taken in 1800, and has been renewed every ten years under the auspices of the United States authorities. Up to 1840, the enumeration was made by one person for the whole county. In the latter year the county was cut up into two districts, and since then the number of enumerators has been regularly increased at each census. The county contained 1,468 inhabitants in 1800, and 3,758 in 1810. Below is the result of the enumerations from 1820 to 1880, inclusive of both years:

 

1820

1830

1840

1850

1860

1870

1880

Albion

--

--

--

--

443

452

433

Amity

--

385

560

739

1,016

924

1,033

Conneauta

631

1,324

1,786

1,942

2,118

1,538

1,546

Concordb

53

225

652

882

1,255

1,112

1,171

Corry

--

--

--

--

--

6,809

5,277

Elk Creekc

288

562

1,645

1,535

1,587

1,462

1,564

Elgin

--

--

--

--

--

--

154

Edinboro

--

--

282

363

474

801

876

Erie

635

1,329

3,412

5,858

9,419

19,516

27,737

Fairview Townshipd

536

1,529

1,481

1,760

2,131

1,674

1,482

Fairview Borough

--

--

--

--

--

480

425

Franklin

--

--

--

686

979

994

1,020

Girard Townshipe

--

--

2,060

2,443

2,453

2,018

2,338

Girard Borough

--

--

--

400

616

704

708

Greenef

142

443

1,081

1,542

1,450

1,395

1,531

Greenfield

281

664

862

731

880

1,089

1,020

Harbor Creek

555

1,104

1,843

2,084

2,033

1,974

1,781

Lockport

--

--

--

--

--

405

345

Le Boeufg

505

554

876

990

1,488

1,748

1,420

McKeanh

440

984

1,714

1,921

1,600

1,426

1,394

Middleboro

--

--

--

--

--

126

210

Mill Creeki

1,017

1,783

2,682

3,064

5,070

2,745

3,279

Mill Village

--

--

--

--

--

--

388

North East Townshipj

1,068

1,706

1,793

2,379

1,900

2,313

2,152

North East Borough

--

--

339

386

560

900

1,396

Springfieldk

896

1,520

2,344

1,916

1,951

1,749

1,792

Summit

--

--

--

--

1,038

1,047

1,047

Union Townshipl

200

235

593

1,076

1,954

1,384

1,377

Union City

--

--

--

--

--

1,500

2,171

Venangom

290

683

812

1,019

1,301

1,370

1,445

Wattsburg

--

--

132

227

337

286

389

Waterford Townshipn

579

1,006

1,144

1,545

1,950

1,884

1,822

Waterford Borough

--

--

403

498

900

790

784

Washingtono

938

743

1,551

1,706

1,942

1,943

1,880

Waynep

--

197

738

1,122

1,224

1,295

1,306

Total County

8,541

17,041

31,344

38,742

49,432

65,978

74,688

a. Reduced by adding a portion to Springfield in 1835, and by the incorporation of Albion Borough in 1861.
b. Wayne set off in 1826. A slice taken off to form Corry Borough in 1863, and another when Corry was made a city in 1866. Elgin Borough incorporated in 1876. The township was known as Brokenstraw till 1831.
c. A slice taken off to form Girard Township in 1832, and another to form Franklin in 1844.
d. A part of Girard cut off in 1832. Fairview Borough created in 1868.
e. Girard Borough incorporated in 1846 and Lockport in 1870.
f. Known as Beaver Dam until 1840. A part of Summit taken off in 1854.
g. Mill Village incorporated in 1870, after the census was taken.
h. A portion of Franklin cut off in 1844 and of Summit in 1854. Middleboro incorporated in 1861.
i. South Erie incorporated as a borough in 1866, and added to Erie in 1870, when another slice was taken from the township. By the census of 1880, East Mill Creek contained a population of 1,205 and West Mill Creek of 2,069.
j. North East Borough incorporated in 1834.
k. A portion of Girard taken off in 1832, and of Conneaut added in 1835.
l. Amity taken off in 1826. Union Borough in 1863.
m. Wattsburg incorporated in 1834.
n. Waterford Borough incorporated in 1833. A part of Summit taken off in 1854.
o. Known as Conneauttee till 1834. Edinboro incorporated in 1840. A portion of Franklin cut off in 1844.
p. A slice cut off to form Corry Borough in 1863, and another in the creation of Corry City in 1866.

Erie and Corry
The following was the population of Erie City by wards in 1870 and 1880:

First Ward 3,364 4,629
Second Ward 5,031 6,583
Third Ward 3,730 5,378
Fourth Ward 4,526 5,799
Fifth Ward 1,497 2,348
Sixth Ward 1,498 3,000
-------- --------
19,646 27,737

 

The population of Corry by wards in the same years was as follows:

First Ward 3,559 2,758
Second Ward 3,250 2,519
-------- --------
6,809 5,277

Unincorporated Villages
The following was the population in 1880 of the unincorporated villages named. They are included in the census of their respective townships as given above:

Lowville
99
      Mill Town
92
Mt. Hickory Iron Works
127
  East Springfield
102
Miles Grove
448
  Swanville
98
Wellsburg
256
  West Girard
135

County and Township Boundaries
The true boundary line between Erie and Crawford Counties was long a subject of dispute. To settle the question, the Legislature passed an act at the session of 1849-50, providing for three Commissioners to run a new line, who were given full power to act, and whose decision should be final. In 1850, Humphrey A. Hills, then of Albion, was appointed Commissioner for Erie County; Andrew Ryan was appointed for Crawford, and they two named H. P. Kinnear, of Warren, as the third member. Wilson King was chosen Surveyor on the part of Erie, and Mr. Jagger on that of Crawford, but David Wilson, as deputy for Mr. King, did most of the work. The party had some difficulty in finding a starting point, but after this was agreed upon, it only took about six weeks to complete their task. A perfectly straight line was run from east to west, and marked by stones set two miles apart. The Commission added a long, narrow strip of territory to Erie County, which is usually outlined upon the county and township maps. A number of persons found themselves in Erie who had supposed they were citizens of Crawford, and a less number in Crawford who had imagined they belonged to Erie. A Mr. Reeder, of Washington Township, had been so anxious to be a resident of Erie County, that he left his original house and moved into a new one which he supposed to be at a safe distance from the boundary. When the final line was run, the second building was found to be in Crawford, and he was compelled to erect a third one in order to secure the desired residence.

Extracts From the United States Census of 1880
The population by race in Erie County:
    White -- In 1860, 49,251; in 1870, 65,584; in 1880, 74,345.
    Colored -- In 1860, 181; in 1870, 389; in 1880, 332. Of the number in 1880, 222 were in Erie City.
    Chinese -- In 1880, 2; all in Erie city.

The population of Erie County by nativity:
    Native -- 40,758 in 1860; 52,699 in 1870; 61,543 in 1880.
    Foreign -- 8,674 in 1860; 13,274 in 1870; 13,145 in 1880.

The population in Erie and Corry, by nativity, with number of dwellings and families in Erie in 1880:
    Erie -- 1870, 12,718 native, 6,298 foreign; 1880, 20,031 native, 7,706 foreign; dwellings, 4,903; persons to a dwelling, 5.66; number of families, 5,294; persons to a family, 5.24.

    Corry -- 1870, 5,080 native, 1,729 foreign; 1880, 4,250 native, 1,012 foreign.

The places of birth of the inhabitants of Erie County in 1880:
    Native born -- Pennsylvania, 47,466; New York, 9,200; New Jersey, 170; Maryland, 102; Ohio, 1,645; Virginia, 93.
    Foreign born -- British America, 1,436; England and Wales, 1,257; Ireland, 3,403; Scotland, 263; German Empire, 5,831; France, 144; Sweden and Norway, 123.

The sex and age of the inhabitants of Erie County in 1880:
    Males, 37,303; females, 37,295.
        Five to seventeen inclusive -- Males, 10,947; females, 10,654.
        Males twenty-one and over -- 19,779.

The farm areas and values in Erie County in 1880:
    Farms, 5,579; improved land, 301,669 acres; value of farms, including fences and buildings, $21,613,613; value of farming implements and machinery, $941,725; value of live stock on farms, $2,209,900; cost of building and repairing fences in 1879, $88,398; cost of fertilizers purchased in 1879, $52,002; estimated value of all farm products in 1879, $3,028,260.

The principal vegetable productions of Erie County in 1880:
    Barley, 195,646 bushels; buckwheat, 52,955 bushels; Indian corn, 713,749 bushels; oats, 657,179 bushels; rye, 4,876 bushels; wheat, 256,224 bushels; value of orchard products, $125,550; hay, 100,195 tons; hops, 3,048 pounds; common potatoes, 502,400 bushels; sweet potatoes, 954 bushels; tobacco 2,730 pounds.

The live stock on farms, and dairy products and wool products, in Erie County in 1880:
    Live stock -- horses, 13,160; mules and asses, 124; working oxen, 815; milch cows, 25,425; other cattle, 28,497; sheep, exclusive of spring lambs, 33,411; swine, 18,324.
    Dairy products -- Milk, 1,893,631 gallons; butter, 2,201,141 pounds; cheese, 72,796 pounds.
    Wool -- 158,116 pounds.

The following are the manufacturing statistics of Erie County in 1880:     Establishments, 559; capital, $6,424,413; average number of hands employed: males above sixteen years, 4,554; females above fifteen years, 257; children and youth, 397; amount paid in wages during the year, $1,860,466; materials, $6,646,427; products, $10,463,906.

Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Chapter I, pp. 137-144.

 

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