Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister



 

Amity Township

The township of Amity was erected out of Union in 1825, and embraces 16,149 acres. Amity had a population of 385 in 1830, 560 in 1840, 739 in 1850, 1,016 in 1860, 924 in 1870, and 1,033 in 1880, of whom all were whites and few if any of foreign birth. The township lines are straight on all sides. Its length from east to west is about six and three-quarter miles, and breadth from north to south about four and one-fourth miles. The township is bounded on the north by Venango, on the east by Wayne, on the south by Union, and on the west by Le Boeuf and Waterford. Its post offices are Hatch Hollow and Lake Pleasant (Milltown). The township has no settlements of any size, the only places that can be called villages, even by courtesy, being Milltown and Hatch Hollow. There is no railroad within the township, and the nearest station is at Union. The main portion of Amity was embraced within the Tenth Donation District. The assessment of 1883 gave the following results: Value of real estate, $365,329. Number of cows, 678; of oxen, 27; of horses and mules, 279; value of the same $28,252; value of trades and occupations, $2,351; money at interest, $1,660.

Streams and Bridges
The chief stream of Amity Township is French Creek, of which all the others within its limits are tributaries. The East and West Branches unite on the north line, just outside the borough limits of Wattsburg, and the joint stream flows across the township in a southwesterly course into Waterford, leaving a triangular strip of territory on the upper side known to the inhabitants as "Canada." Its total length within the township is nearly seven miles. The most important tributaries on the north side are the outlet of Lake Pleasant, Jones' Creek and Henry Brook; and on the south side the Hubbell Alder Run, the Hatch Hollow Alder Run, Deerlick Run and Duncombe Run. The outlet of Lake Pleasant rises in the lake of that name in the southwest corner of Venango, has a length of about three miles, and empties into French Creek on the farm of L. A. Stow. Jones' Creek heads near the south line of Venango, and falls into the chief stream on the Thomas Ashton place, having a course of about four miles. Henry Brook also takes its rise in Venango, about two miles long, and joins French Creek on the farm of L. Northrop. The Hubbell Alder Run begins on land of the late J. G. Hubbell, at the Wayne line, flows about five miles and ends near Wattsburg, after a course of some five miles. On the farm of W. C. Maynard it receives Lowe Brook, a small stream which rises in the northeast. The Hatch Hollow Alder Run heads in Union Township, and becomes a part of French Creek on the G. W. Baldwin place, close to the mouth of the outlet of Lake Pleasant. It has a length of about five miles. Duncombe Run takes its rise on the S. W. Hayes farm, directly south of Wattsburg, and falls into French creek on the place of W. T. Everson. The head of Deer Lick Run is on the north edge of Union, and its length is not far from four miles. It unites with the main stream on the farm of C. E. Duncombe. The only bridge over French Creek proper, within the township, is the iron one at Baldwin's Flats, which as a span of 100 fee and cost $2,340. Another iron bridge, with eighty feet span, crosses one stem of the East Branch near Wattsburg, built at a cost of $1,439. Both of the above are open bridges. Those over the other streams are ordinary in character.

Mills and Roads
French Creek once gave power to several mills in Amity, but all have been abandoned. Those n the other streams are as follows: On the Hubbell Alder Run, Schoaf's steam saw mill, near the Wayne line; on the Hatch Hollow Alder Run, Doolittle & Chaffee's steam saw mill, and Wheeler's water saw mill; on the outlet at Milltown, Donaldson's steam saw mill and water shingle mill; Richard's water grist mill and saw mill, Cox's steam saw mill. W. R. Palmer has a creamery just south of Wattsburg, which was built in 1872. John Ellethorp has a blacksmith ship, and Mr. Williams a wagon shop at Milltown. There is also a blacksmith shop at Hatch Hollow. There is no store in the township. The first saw mill in Amity was put up above Milltown on the stream which runs through the Eaton Gross place and empties into the outlet of Lake Pleasant. The second mill was erected by Capt. James Donaldson on the outlet at Milltown in 1822 or 1823. It was a grist and saw mill combined.

The main roads are the Waterford & Wattsburg, along the south side of French Creek; the Lake Pleasant & Wattsburg, which is merged into the former on Baldwin's Flats; the Union & Wattsburg, passing through Hatch Hollow; the Beaver Dam & Wattsburg; the Corry & Wattsburg; the Lake Pleasant & Union; and the Lake Pleasant, Hatch Hollow & Union. The Erie & Lake Pleasant road terminates at the Stow bridge on French Creek, and is designated above that as the Lake Pleasant & Wattsburg.

Public Schools
The township schools are the Young, in the southeast; Inman, on the Venango line, in the northwest; Hubbell, near the mouth of Lowe Run; Ladd, near Wattsburg, Hayes, on the Union & Beaver Dam road; Hatch Hollow, in that settlement; McGee, on the line between Union and Amity; Hill, near the northwest corner of Wayne Township; Phillips, near Wattsburg, on the line between Venango and Amity; Duncombe, on French Creek, in the southwest; and Baldwin, on Baldwin's Flats. The Ladd building is used as the town house and election place. The McKee School is maintained jointly by Amity and Union, and the Phillips by Amity and Venango. In addition, there is a school at Milltown, belonging to the Lake Pleasant District, which embraces the corners of Amity, Waterford, Greene and Venango. Of the early schools of the township, mention may be made of a log schoolhouse that was built about the year 1825 by the neighborhood, and stood probably one-half of the distance between the residence of J. Chaffee and the borough of Wattsburg. The first teacher in this building was James White, and the next was Margaret Rouse. Some years later, a schoolhouse was built at Hatch Hollow. Polly Berry and Sallie Chaffee were the early teachers in this house. This was the first schoolhouse at Hatch Hollow, the one now located there being the second. In 1835, a small log schoolhouse was standing on Baldwin's flats, near Alder Run, which, about this date, a summer school was taught by Mr. Lucetta Baldwin. She had been preceded by Miss Polly Donald. The winter following the summer school of Mrs. Baldwin, A. Duncombe taught in the building named. Later, this house was burned, and another (of frame) was erected on nearly the same site. Both were built by subscription. Artemus Tracy and Robert Middleton were early teachers in the latter building. This building also burned down after a few years of service. Another was built near Baldwin's soon after, which was used until the erection of the present one there.

Lands, Villages, etc.
Amity is in general a hilly township, but there are some magnificent flats along French Creek, the outlet of Lake Pleasant, the Hatch Hollow Alder Run and Dear Lick Run. The valley of French Creek ranges from half a mile to two and a half miles in width, reaching its greatest extent at the outlet of Lake Pleasant. The township as a whole is more suited for grazing than anything else. Great quantities of butter are made, and the raising of cattle is an important industry. It is doubtful whether as much wheat is reaped as the people consume, but oats, corn and potatoes are produced in excess of home needs. Apples thrive vigorously, but other fruits do not succeed so well. Valley lands are held at as high a rate as $75 an acre, but some swampy spots are not valued at more than $20. On the hills, the price of land ranges from$30 to $40. Perhaps one-third of the township is still in a wild state and covered with timber.

Milltown is a place of about thirty buildings, and nearly a hundred, people, situated on the outlet, about a mile and a half below Lake Pleasant, and fourteen and a half from Erie.It got its name from the number of mills located there. The settlement possesses a schoolhouse but no church. Its post office title is Lake Pleasant. Half a mile west in Waterford Township, is a Baptist Church, of frame, which was built in the summer of 1877. Until recently, there had been an organization of the United Brethren in Christ, on Baldwin's Flats, which society was formed about the year 1857, by Rev. Michael Oswald, but was disbanded in the summer of 1883.

Hatch Hollow, in the valley of the lower Alder Run, on the Union & Wattsburg road, is a place of less size than Milltown. In addition to the mills and schoolhouse, there is a Methodist Episcopal Church, a frame structure, which was completed and dedicated in 1859. The congregation was organized some years prior to 1835, and has, excepting a short period, been an appointment on the Wattsburg Circuit, of which it now forms a part. It was for a time connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church at Union City. Hatch Hollow derived its title from the numerous Hatch family in the neighborhood. It is the post office of the south part of the township.

The cemetery at Hatch Hollow embraces about three acres. It has been in existence about twenty-five years. There is a burying ground of about an acre on the T. Ashton farm, and a number of family graveyards are kept up in various parts of the township. William Sanborn was elected to the Assembly in 1846 and 1847, and Francis F. Stow, County Auditor in 1867.

Early Settlers
The first lands taken up in Amity Township were by William Miles, the founder of Wattsburg, who located 1,200 acres on the outlet of Lake Pleasant, in 1796, but made his home in Concord. About the same time John Fagan cleared up a piece of land near Hatch Hollow, and a man named McGahan went in the same year. Fagan remained until 1807, when he changed to Mill Creek. Hazen Sheppard and wife located in the township in 1812; the old lady was still living in 1880, at the age of ninety-two. John Carron is said to have been the first permanent settler, but the year he went in is unknown. In 1816, Benjamin Hinkston settled in Greene Township from Vermont, but changed to Amity in 1818. In 1819, Charles Capron moved in from New Hampshire, and was joined the same year by Seth Shepardson and Timothy Reed. Capron's father and mother accompanied him. James McCullough and Capt. James Donaldson became residents of the township in 1820, the later locating near Lake Pleasant. Capt. Donaldson was from Cumberland County. He went first to the P. H. Yost place in Venango, where he lived with his family a number of years. From there he moved to Milltown. Other settlers went in as follows: In 1829, Jabez G. Hubbell, of Otsego County, N. Y., with his wife and sons, Hiram and David, Royal D. Mason and Jacob Rouse; in 1830, the Duncombes, Pliny Maynard and Elias Patterson; in 1831, William B. Maynard, son of Pliny; in 1833, George W. Baldwin; in 1847, John Allen, from Otsego County, N. Y.



Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter XIX, pp. 832-835.

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