Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister


Concord Township and Borough of Elgin

Up to the year 1821, all of Erie county from the eastern boundary of Union and Amity to the Warren County line was known as Brokenstraw Township. In that year, the name was changed from Brokenstraw to Concord. This continued until 1826, when the township was divided, the northern portion receiving the name of Wayne and the southern retaining the old title. The three names, Union, Amity and Concord were all suggested by William Miles. In the act of April 11, 1807, Brokenstraw and Union were constituted one election district, to be known as No. 10, and the house of John Taylor was designated as the election place. This relation continued until 1821, when each township became a separate election district. As constituted in 1826, Concord contained 25,590 acres, but its size has been reduced to 19,624 by the taking off of a slice for Corry Borough in 1863; of another in 1866, when that place was incorporated as a city, and of a third by the creation of Elgin Borough in 1876. Concord is the extreme southeastern township of the county. It is bounded on the north by Wayne and Corry; on the west by Warren County; on the south by Crawford County; and on the east by Union. The assessment of 1873 gave the following results: Value of real estate, $467,119; number of cows, 582; of oxen, 36; of horses and mules, 278; value of same, $30,587; value of trades and occupations, $2,075; money at interest, $26,365. The only settlement within the township that can lay any claim to be styled a village, since Elgin was made a borough, is the small collection of buildings at Lovell's Station, which is also the sole post office. The population of Concord was 83 in 1820, 225 in 1830, 652 in 1840, 882 in 1850, 1,255 in 1860, 1,112 in 1870, and 1,171 in 1880.

County Officers

The only county officers Concord has been favored with have been Simeon Stewart, County Commissioner from 1849 to 1852, and David Nash and William H. Belknap, County Auditors -- the first from 1858 to 1861, and the second from 1860 to 1863. Mr. Stewart was the Commissioner under whose supervision the present court house at Erie was planned and erected. While the township has been treated so sparingly in the bestowal of official honors, it has evened the matter up, in a certain sense, by turning out more attorneys than any other in the county. Its representatives in the legal profession are A. W. Covell, of Erie; H. W. Blakeslee, late of Erie, but now of Bradford; H. A. Baker, C. L. Baker, C. G. Olmstead and C. L. Covell, of Corry; and F. G. McClintock, of Union. In medicine it claims Frederick Beebe, of Findley's Lake, and Cisco Stewart, of Iowa; and in the editorial fraternity it is represented by F. S. Heath and D. M. Colegrove, of Corry.

Early Settlers
The first settlers in Concord were William Miles and his brother-in-law, William Cook, who came from the Susquehanna Valley with their families in June, 1795. They first located on what is now called the Wilber Webb farm, just north of the Crawford County line, and secondly a short distance south of the line in Sparta Township. Mr. Miles moved to Union in 1800, and Mr. Cook the year after. No other permanent settlements were made until 1800, when James and Robert McCray, natives of Ireland, took up homes for themselves in the township, and Joseph Hall, a Virginian, who had gone to Beaver Dam in 1797, moved over to the present site of Elgin Borough. From that date, no evidence exists of any additions to the colony until 1822 or 1823, about which time a brisk emigration set in from New York. Among the first of this class of settlers was Elder Jeduthan Gray, a Baptist minister, who with a family of grown-up children, located on or near the William Gray place. The section was long known as the Gray settlement, and a post office by that title was kept up for a number of years. Deacon Graves went in at the same time or shortly after, and was followed within the period between 1825 and 1835, by Ezekial Lewis, Jesse and Herman Heath, Simeon Stewart, William Bugbee, Abner Lilly, John B. Chase, James Crowell, Russell Darrow, Hiram Cook, Paul Hammond, Stephen Hollis, Buckingham Beebe, Elijah Pond, Oliver D. Pier and others. G. J. Stranahan, founder of the well-known family of that name, settled in Concord in 1836, having formerly resided in Herkimer County, N. Y. His sons, John D. and P. G. Stranahan, moved to Le Boeuf, the former in 1849 and the latter in 1850, from which place, P. G. changed to Union in 1859. Oliver D. Pier, one of the pioneers of the township who is still living, though totally blind, was, in his day, a famous hunter. With a single gun, he claims to have killed 1,322 deer, besides a number of wolves, bears and other wild animals.

General Description
Concord is in general a hilly township, but contains very little waste land. Bordering French Creek, there is a good valley, ranging from eighty rods to half a mile in width, south of Corry, and spreading out to one and two miles between that city and Union. The soil of the valley is much better than that of the high ground, but the farmers are more troubled by the frosts. Corn and oats are produced in all parts of the township, and most of the farmers raise their own wheat. The great industry, however, is dairying, for which the country is better calculated than for grain. All kinds of fruits are raised, except peaches. The value of land varies from $25 to $80 per acre, according to its situation and quality. The loftiest elevation is on the Darius Walton place, where a view is afforded into two States and four counties.

The Streams

The chief stream is the South Branch of French Creek, which rises on the James Bell farm, in the southeast, runs to the western edge of Corry, then turns abruptly to the west, flows in a westerly direction across the northern part of the township into Union, and joins the main stream a few rods below the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad bridge in Le Boeuf. It has a course of fully fifteen miles in the township, and a total length of about thirty miles. Its valley forms the route of no less than three railroads, the Oil Creek, P. & E., and N. Y., P. & O. The tributaries of the South Branch in Concord Township are Scotch Run, Slaughter Run, Spencer Run, Baskin Run, Spring Brook, Lilly Run and Beaver Dam Run. Scotch Run rises on the J. Aiken place and unites in the public highway, at the foot of Stewart Hill, on the W. W. Covell place, having a length of over two miles. Spring Brook is made by a number of large springs on the line of Concord and Wayne, and falls into the South Branch on the place of A. Palmer, after a course of perhaps a mile. The State Fish Hatching Pond, west of Corry, is at the source of this stream. The head of Lilly Run is on the J. D. Hammond place, and it terminates near Elgin, having a course of four miles. Beaver Dam Run takes its rise in the south part of Amity, flows through the southwestern corner of Wayne, and combines with the South Branch near Elgin Borough, through which it passes. Its length is not far from five miles. Slaughter, Spencer and Baskin Runs all come in from Wayne, between Elgin and Corry. In addition to these streams, the township is the starting place of several tributaries of Spring Creek and Oil Creek, which rise on the highlands and flow to the east and south. The head-waters of Oil Creek, French Creek and Spring Creek are all within a few rods of each other, near the summit of the Oil Creek Railroad, in the southeast.

The township has only two bridges of any importance, both at Lovell's. They were built at a cost of $500 to $600.

Railroads, Common Roads, etc.
The N. Y., P. & O. and the P. & E. Railroads run through the northern section of the township from Corry to the Union line, following the valley of the South Branch. From Corry to Lovell's, the tracks run side by side, but at the latter place they diverge somewhat and continue at a short distance apart to Union. Below Union they separate entirely, the N. Y., P. & O. running to the west, and the P. & E. to the lake at Erie. The old Oil Creek Railroad, now the Buffalo, Titusville & Pittsburgh, follows the upper channel of French Creek from Corry to the Summit, crossing the township into Crawford County. this road has no station in Concord, and Lovell's is the only one on the other roads. Of the common roads, the main ones are the Meadville & Columbus -- first opened in the township -- the Union & Corry, which passes through Elgin, the Elgin & Sparta, the Corry & Spring Creek, and the Corry & Titusville. Lovell's Station, on the N. Y., P. & O. and P. & E. roads, three iles west of Corry, and thirty-four east of Erie, consists of a few houses only. A water mill was started at this point by James Crowell at an early date, which ran down; a machine shop, a saw mill and a planing mill were built and destroyed by fire. The present saw mill was built by D. J. Crowell about 1879. The village post office supplies a number of the people of Concord and Wayne.

Schools and Churches
The public schools of Concord are as follows, all the buildings being plain wooden structures: Fay, on Ox-bow Hill; Hemlock, near E. J. Ormsby's; McCray, near Lovell's Station; Stewart (1st), near E. A. Hammond's; Hays, near F. S. Heath's; Stewart (2d), near A. H. Bower's; Pine Wood, near E. Hatch's; Lewis, near Samuel Lewis; Moffat, near W. Young's; Chaffee, near Corry; Lindsley, near C. Pier's, and Cook, near the south line. The township is also interested with Sparta Township, Crawford County, in the Harbor School. Daniel Sackett, then of this township, was one of its first pedagogues. He taught, about 1823, in a log schoolhouse, the first in the township, which stood on the site of the present Cook School building. Andrew Aiken and Joseph Gray and wife afterward taught in this primitive schoolhouse.

The church buildings are the Wesleyan and the Methodist Episcopal. The Wesleyan was built on the McCray place, about a mile south of Lovell's Station, about 1840. The class was organized several years before by Rev. John Broadhead, besides whom Revs. J. E. Carroll, Thomas Savage, G. M. Hardy and Rev. Dempsey have been prominent among the ministers. Rev. Thomas Burrows, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, now preaches to this congregation, the membership of which is about fifty.

The Methodist Episcopal building, also a frame, was dedicated in July, 1879, soon after this society was formed. It stands near F. S. Heath's. The present membership is about thirty-five. The society is connected with Spartansburg Circuit. Rev. C. M. Coburn was the first minister, succeeded in 1881 by J. B. Darling, and in 1883 by S. W. Douglass.

A graveyard is attached to the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and the Stewart burial place is on the farm of A. Bowers. Most of the interments take place in the cemetery at Corry.

Miscellaneous
The township is without a grist mill since the incorporation of Elgin Borough. The saw mills are William Young's and David Crowell's. A cheese factory has been in operation for some years near Wilbur Webb's, almost on the Crawford line. Several wells have been put down for oil, but the precious fluid has never been discovered in a profitable quantity. Large quantities of hay are packed and shipped to the oil region.



Borough of Elgin

Elgin borough was incorporated in the winter of 1876, with territory about a mile square taken out of the western part of Concord Township. A grist and saw mill were established by Joseph Hall, on Beaver Dam Run, at an early day, and as the settlement grew it became known as Hall Town. A grocery was started about 1856, but the village did not amount to much until the opening of the Philadelphia & Erie road, when its name was changed to Concord Station. The title was again altered when it was made a borough, and that of the post office was changed about the same time. Elgin consists of a Methodist Church, a schoolhouse, a barrel factory, a grist mill, a saw mill, two groceries, one general store, a hotel, one blacksmith shop, one wagon shop, one shoe shop and perhaps forty private residences. Its population in 1880 was 154. Beaver Dam Run passes wholly through the town, and the South Branch of French Creek cuts through one corner. Elgin has the advantage of two railroads, the N. Y., P. & O. and the P. & E. The borough possesses a neat cemetery. Elgin gets considerable of its trade from western Wayne and Concord. It is thirty-three miles east of Erie, six east of Union, and five west of Corry, by railroad in each case. A Christian or Disciple Church was erected at Elgin about 1868, largely through the efforts of Mrs. Yost, Corry, and the contributions of the citizens of Elgin generally. A society of this denomination was shortly before formed at the village, and attained a membership of about sixty. Revs. Walker and Way were its first ministers. The membership soon decreased through removals, and in a few years the society ceased as an organization. A Methodist class was organized at the schoolhouse one mile south of Elgin, in 1854 or 1855, by Rev. Josiah Flower, then of the Wattsburg Circuit, with S. D. Lewis as Class Leader. In 1858, it changed the place of meeting to the Elgin Schoolhouse, and there continued until two years after the Christian Church was built, in which the meetings have since been held. The society was a part of the Wattsburg Circuit until 1877, when it was attached to Spartansburg. The pastors have been J. W. Wilson, 1877; C. M. Coburn, 1878, 1879 and 1880; J. B. Darling, 1881 and 1882; S. W. Douglass, 1883. The membership of the Elgin congregation is fifty.



Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter XVI, pp. 803-808.
 

 


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