Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister


Girard Township and Boroughs of Girard and Lockport

The township of Girard was carved out of Elk Creek, Fairview and Springfield in 1832, receiving its name from Stephen Girard, the Philadelphia millionaire, who owned a large body of land in the adjoining township of Conneaut, on which he had arranged just before his death to put up mills and make other important improvements which were expected to benefit the whole country around. The old line between Fairview and Springfield ran through the township parallel with the present line dividing Elk Creek and Conneaut. Girard Township is bounded on the north by Lake Erie, on the east by Fairview and Franklin, on the south by Conneaut and Elk Creek, and on the west by Springfield. In the widest part, it is six and a quarter miles from east to west, by seven and three-eights from north to south. The population was 2,060 in 1840, 2,443 in 1850, 2,453 in 1860, 2,018 in 1870, 2,338 in 1880, inclusive of Miles Grove and West Girard, and 1,732 exclusive of these villages. The only post office is Miles Grove. Most of the trading is done in the latter place and Girard Borough.

The United States census of 1880, Jacob Bender enumerator, gave the following results: With the exception of one person, a mulatto, the population is all white. In sex it is singularly evenly divided, there being 1,168 males against 1,170 females.

The acreage in tilled land is 13,845; permanent meadows, pasture, orchards, etc., 2,920; woodland and forest, 3,582; total, 20,347 acres. The principal crops are wheat, oats, barley, corn, buckwheat and potatoes. Total value of farm productions of all kinds, $217,080, divided among 240 farms.

The appraisement of 1883 gave the following results: Value of real estate, $1,354,587; of personal property, $47,523; money at interest, $51,355.

Early Settlers
The first settlers within the limits of the township were William Silverthorn and his son, Capt. Abraham Silverthorn, who came in 1798 from Fayette County. About 1799, Robert Brown, of Northumberland County, located at the mouth of Elk Creek, but in 1804 he moved to Weigleville, and from there to Erie. He was the father of William A. Brown and Mrs. George A. Eliot, of Erie City. These parties were followed in 1800 by Robert Porter, Isaac Miller and John Kelley. Mr. Kelley, who was from Mifflin County, moved to West Mill Creek in 1802, and died there the next year. In 1801, Jacob Coffman came from Somerset County, and located on the site of Lockport; and about the same time Patrick Ward settled on the Lake road. Mr. Coffman, who was from Somerset County, was accompanied by his four sons. Conrad, one of the boys, went back to Somerset County about 1814, married there, and did not return until 1836, when his son J. C. was a young man of seventeen. The family were intimate in Somerset County with the famous Judge Jeremiah S. Black. William and Samuel McClelland and William Crane, natives of Ireland, took up lands in the northeast part of the township in 1802; John Miller, from Fayette County, and George Kelley, from Mifflin County, in 1803; Joel Bradish and brothers, from Saratoga County, N. Y., and James Blair, from Fayette County, Penn., in 1804; Martin Taylor, from Chautauqua County, N. Y., in 1813; William Webber, from Genesee County, N. Y., in 1814; Cornelius Haggerty, in 1815; Samuel Jenner and his son Peach, from Vermont, Justus Osborn and his son Philip, from Fredonia, N. Y., Abner Boder, from Connecticut, and Scott Keith and wife, from Pittsford, Vt., in 1816; Elijah Drury, from Genesee County, N. Y., in 1817; Ethan Loveridge and Nathan Sherman, from Oneida County, N. Y., in 1818; Joseph Long, from Massachusetts, in 1825; Matthew Anderson, from Chenango County, N. Y., in 1830; George Traut, from Columbia county, N. Y., in 1831; James Miles, from Union Township, and Titus Pettibone, from Wyoming County, N. Y., in 1832; and William Kirkland, in 1833. Among other early settlers, the date of whose arrival is not ascertained, were Messrs. Taggart, Pickett, Badger, Martin, Wells, Clark, Laughlin and Wolverton. The last four were the earliest who located on the site of Girard Borough, Mr. Wells having owned most of the land embraced within the corporate limits. James Silverthorn located among the first, and Thomas Miles about 1801. John Ralph kept a sort of tavern at the mouth of Elk Creek in 1804. John R. Ward was the first male child, and the late Mrs. George A. Eliot, of Erie, the first female child born in the township. The country does not appear to have been cleared up very rapidly, as, according to Mr. Long, there was no road along Elk Creek when he reached there in 1825. The remains of William Miles and those of his wife and oldest son Frederick are interred in the family graveyard, north of Miles Grove. The old gentleman resided with his son James, near the mouth of Elk Creek, from 1841, the year of his wife's death, until his own demise in 1846. Girard Township can claim the honor of having had the second oldest person in the county -- Patrick Ward, who died at the age of one hundred and five. When one hundred and three years old, he walked from his residence to Girard (three miles), for the purpose of voting.

Lands and Roads
It is a common remark that the land between Walnut Creek, in Fairview, and Crooked Creek, in Springfield, is the best along Lake Erie, and of this choice section Girard Township is claimed by its citizens to be the very cream. The lake plain is from three to four miles wide, running back by a succession of steps which give a pleasing variety to the country. Near the lake the soil is sandy, both on the ridge it becomes gravelly, and is very productive. Back of Girard Borough the land continues to rise, is much broken, and, except along Elk and Crooked Creeks, where there are some fine valley farms, is better adapted to grazing than grain, though this is to be stated with some notable exceptions. The whole township is a splendid fruit country, and many acres have been planted to grapes and strawberries. The strawberry crop is to Girard what the grape crop is to North East, vast quantities being raised annually and shipped to all points of the compass. The farm improvements will average better than any other part of the lake shore, and the taste shown in some instances would be creditable to any locality. Land is valued at from $100 to $125 per acre along the Ridge road, from $60 to $100 along the Lake road, and from $35 to $60 in the south part of the township. During the construction of the canal, there was a sandstone quarry -- novelty for Erie County -- at Elisha Smith's east of Girard Borough, from which a quantity of stone was taken for the locks of the canal.

The main thoroughfares of Girard Township are the Lake road, the Ridge road -- both running direct to Erie -- the two roads between Miles Grove and the borough, the road through Lockport and Cranesville to Meadville, and the Lexington road into Conneaut Township. The Ridge and Lake roads are thickly settled, and the first named especially is unquestionably the finest in the county, having a fine row of shade trees on both sides almost the entire distance from Girard to Fairview. The stage company had extensive stables at West Girard, which were burned in January, 1832, with the loss of fifteen out of sixteen horses. After the opening of the railroad in 1852, few persons cared to travel by coach, and the state line was soon abandoned.

Railroads and Canal
The Lake Shore Railroad traverses the whole township from east to west, crossing Elk Creek a short distance west of Miles Grove. The old wooden viaduct over this stream, built for the use of the railroad in 1852, was 115 feet high and 1,400 feet long. It was replaced in 1858 with a splendid culvert and extensive filling. The only station of this road is at Miles Grove, or Girard Station as it is more generally known to travelers. The Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad intersects the Lake Shore almost a mile west of Miles Grove, and runs southward across the township, parallel to and not far from the Springfield line. Aside from Miles Grove, it has but a single station in the township, the one known as Cross's, at the north end of Crooked Creek bridge, a long and uncomfortable looking piece of trestle work. This station is the depot for the village of East Springfield, from which it is a mile and a half distant. The railroad office is the only building at the station. Judge Cross, of Springfield, from whom it received it name, once lived there, and still owns 800 acres of land in the vicinity. The New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad traverses the entire width of the township from east to west, crossing the Elk Creek Valley by a splendid iron bridge, within sight from Girard Borough. Its station is between the borough and Miles Grove, a little east of the latter place. The old Erie Canal entered Girard on the east from Fairview, along the foot of the first rise, cut through the ridge to Elk Creek, crossed that stream by an aqueduct ninety-six feet above the water, and 500 long, and followed the valley of the Lockport Branch southward.

Streams, etc.
The chief stream of Girard is Elk Creek, which comes in from Fairview, flows nearly through the center of the township from east to northwest, and empties into the lake about a mile and a quarter beyond Miles Grove, after a length of thirty to thirty-five miles. The West Branch rises in Elk Creek Township, runs north eight or ten miles and unites with the main stream near the Fairview line. Hall's Run flows through Lockport and falls in a little south of Girard Borough. Brandy Run heads in Fairview Township, about a mile further south; and Spring Run west of Miles Grove -- each of them being of sufficient size to furnish water-power for one or two mills. The valley of the chief stream is narrow and precipitous in the eastern portion of the township, but further west it widens out, with steep, but beautiful bluffs on both sides. At the junction of the West Branch there is a high peak, resembling part of a Roman profile, with its base at the water's edge, which has received the peculiar title of "The Devil's Backbone." The West Branch runs along the base of an almost perpendicular hill for a quarter of a mile, then rounds the bluff and comes back to a point opposite the one which it left, forming a sort of a loop. At the narrowest place, the crest or backbone is not more than two feet across, and the height being over a 100 feet, it is a severe test of a person's nerves to walk along the lofty pathway. The spot is a favorite resort of the people for miles around. Not far from the "Devil's Backbone" is the fruit farm of Asa Battles, which contains 6,000 apple, 1,000 peach, 600 or 700 pear and many quince trees, besides fourteen acres of strawberries and five or six of grapes. The other streams of the township are Crooked Creek and several rivulets flowing into the lake in the northeast. Crooked Creek rises near Lockport, runs through the southwestern portion of Girard and the northeastern of Springfield, and empties into Lake Erie about three-fourths of a mile beyond the village of North Springfield. It has a course of about ten miles and there are some good lands in its valley.

Mouth of Elk Creek
The mouth of Elk Creek figured extensively in the early plans of internal improvement, as well as in the courts of the county and State. When the canal was under discussion, there was a bitter strife as to the adoption of the eastern route by way of Waterford, or the western one by way of Girard. The Legislature, at length, by recommendation of the chief engineer in charge, adopted the western route. Next came a dispute as to whether the terminus of the canal should be at Erie or at the mouth of Elk Creek, which was finally settled in favor of the former. On the third of March, 1837, pending the discussion of the proper terminus, a contract was entered into between James Miles, of Girard, Thaddeus Stevens, then a member of Gov. Rigner's "Kitchen Cabinet," and Charles Ogle, a Congressman from this State, looking to the building of a city at the mouth of the creek. Miles was to dispose of 200 acres of land on both sides of the stream to Stevens and Ogle, in consideration of $5,000, on the 1st of August ensuing, and $95,000 from the sale of lots, while Stevens was to work for the adoption of the site as the terminus of the canal, and Ogle was to obtain an appropriation from Congress for the improvement of the harbor. The project failing, Miles sued Stevens and Ogle for the $5,000. The case was carried to the Supreme Court and decided in favor of the defendants. Some very curious testimony came out in the course of the trial. While the country was being cleared, the mouth of the creek was considerable of a shipping place for staves and lumber. A warehouse formerly stood on the lake shore for the convenience of trade. The water in the creek is probably deep enough at its mouth to float any sailing vessel, but there is a wide bar in the lake, which will effectually prevent its use as a harbor until removed, which can only be done by a heavy expenditure of money. Quite a fishery is maintained there, and hundreds of barrels of fish are put up for shipment. A limekiln has also has been maintained for some years, receiving its stone from Kelly's Island.

Mills and Churches
The mills and factories of the township -- not naming for the present those of Girard Borough, Lockport and Miles Grove -- are as follows: On Elk Creek -- Strickland & Nason's grist mill, at the mouth of Spring Run; the West Girard Grist, Saw, Cider and Plaster Mills, and a planing mill at the same place. On Spring Run, T. Thornton's woolen mill and Brown Bros.; hand rake factory and cider mill. A grist mill is said to have been established on this stream by Mr. Silverthorn, as early as 1799, being one of the first in the county. On the West Branch, Pettis' saw mill; on Brandy Run, Rossiter's tannery; on one of the lake streams, Herrick's and Godfrey's saw mills. All of the above are run by water, but in some cases steam is also employed in the dry season. Pettibone & Morehouse have a limekiln on the lake road north of Girard. The first mill on Elk Creek, within Girard Township, was built at Wet Girard in 1814, by Peter Wolverton, and was owned successively by Dr. Rufus Hills, James C. Marshall and his brother-in-law, Addison Weatherbee, George Rowley, L. S. Wright, Loomis & Horton and W. C. Culbertson. During Mr. Rowley's term, the mill burned down and was rebuilt.

The churches of the township are as follows: Methodist Episcopal, at Fair Haven, on the Lexington road, in the southwest part of the township; organized originally, January 7, 1815, at the house of Mr. Webber, and reorganized by Rev. A. Hall in 1860; building erected in 1861, at a cost of $3,000. Prior to its attachment to the Lockport Circuit, this charge was an appointment with the church at Girard. Another of the same denomination at Fairplain, upon the farm of C. Ziesenheim, on the Lake road, organized by Rev. J. H. Whallon, its first pastor, in 1840; building erected in 1841 at a cost of $800. Until quite recently, this congregation was served by the pastors from Girard. It is now connected with Fairview Circuit.

Church of the United Brethren on the State road, near the Elk Creek Township line; organized in 1870 by Rev. D. Sprinkle, its first pastor; building cost $1,700.

The cemetery at Girard is the common burial place of the township, but a number of small graveyards occur in various sections.

Schools and Mounds
The schools are fifteen in number, as follows: Fairplain, on Lake road east; Clark's, on Lake road, farther west; Miles' near railroad junction; Cudney, on Ridge road west; Robertson, on Ridge road west; West Girard, in that village; Girard Station, at Miles Grove; Osborne, on Ridge road east; McClelland, two miles southeast of Girard Borough; Porter Bridge, one mile south of West Girard; Anderson, on Lexington road; Fair Haven, on same road further south; Blair, on Creek road three miles south of Girard Borough; Miller, on Old State road near Lockport; South Hill. Besides these there is a Union School on the Franklin Line, occupied jointly by that and Girard Township. Among some of the early schools of the township were the following: A log schoolhouse stood in the southwestern part of the township, in which school was taught in 1819 or 1820 by Miles Bristol. This schoolhouse was destroyed by fire and another erected in the same locality. Fifty years ago, there stood a log schoolhouse about three-quarters of a mile south of the village of Lockport. About 1822, a school was taught in a frame building that stood on the Ridge road at the foot of the Girard Hill, by Nancy Kelly. Another school was held in a private house, situated one mile east of Girard, taught in about 1823 by Desdemona Fuller.

Southeast of Girard Borough, the remains of an ancient mound are or were lately to be seen, which was one of a chain of four, extending in a southwesterly direction through East Springfield toward Conneaut Creek. These mounds are exactly alike, consisting of high, round earthwork inclosing a space of about three-fourths of an acre, with apertures at regular intervals. Similar ruins are to be found in Conneaut, Harbor Creek, Wayne and Concord Townships. On a hill between Girard and Lockport was an Indian burial ground. In 1882, the bones of a mastodon were plowed up on the farm of W. H. Palmer, many of which were in an excellent state of preservation. The size of the animal was estimated to have been fifteen feet long, exclusive of tusks, and about thirteen feet high.

Miles Grove
The pretty and growing village of Miles Grove, or Girard Station, as it is known to the traveling public, is situated on the Lake Shore Railroad, a little over a mile east of the intersection of the Erie & Pittsburgh, one and three-quarter miles north of Girard, fifteen and a half west of Erie and eighty east of Cleveland. It is four and a half miles from the depot to Fairview Station, five to Fairview Borough, six to Lockport, five to East springfield, four to North Springfield, ten to Cranesville, eleven to Wellsburg, eleven and a half to Albion and twelve to Franklin. The population of the village by the census of 1880 was 471. The site of Miles Grove is one of the most suitable for a town in Erie County. The country is extremely fine and closely settled -- so close, indeed, between there and Girard that it will not be many years till they are one town. The place was named after Judge Miles, who influenced the erection of the depot, the ground for which was given by Austin H. Seeley, who laid out the lots. It grew slowly for some years, but received a new impetus by the completion of the Erie & Pittsburg road, which caused it to be made a general stopping place for the trains. Another start was given to it by the location of A. Denio's fork and agricultural works, which furnish employment to about seventy persons. These works -- now known as the Otsego Fork Mills -- were brought to Mile Grove, part in 1874, and the balance in 1876, the citizens subscribing $5,000 to $5,000 to induce their removal. This important industry was established at Albion thirty years ago. The handle department burned down in the year of 1873, when the entire business was transferred to Miles Grove, where a part of it was already in operation. The village contains, besides a good many fine residences, an Episcopal and a Methodist Episcopal Church, a fine schoolhouse, with three teachers, an iron foundry, a hotel -- built by A. M. Osborn in the spring of 1865 -- five or six stores, an express office, two shoe shops and two blacksmith shops. The Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1867. It is used in part by the Presbyterians, according to a condition in the subscription paper. James Sampson donated the land on which the building stands. The Methodist Episcopal Congregation has belonged to Girard charge ever since its organization.

The Episcopal Church was erected in 1877 (mainly with a sum of money left by Mrs. Bell, a daughter of Judge Miles) on a tract of land donated by J. Robert Hall, agent of the latter's estate. The first services of this congregation were held in 1860, but no regular rector served the church until 1862. Rev. E. D. Irvine has been rector since June, 1877. The Lake Shore Railroad Company has valuable improvements at Miles Grove. These are a fine depot building, with tasteful parks east and west of it, a freight house, two water tanks, an engine house with four stalls, a turn-table and an extensive truck yard for shifting freight trains. An enormous business is done in shipping potatoes, in which Girard and Fairview Townships are very fruitful, and great quantities of coal are sold from the line of the E. & P. Railroad. The home of the Miles family, in the hollow of Elk Creek, near its mouth, about a mile north of west from Miles Grove, is a stately brick mansion. When Judge Miles died, he owned 1,600 acres in one body, extending two miles or more along the lake. He was born in Northumberland County February 16, 1792, and died March 27, 1868. For seventy or eighty years there has been an eagle's nest on the farm of Riley Pettibone, half a mile north of Miles Grove. It was there when the country was cleared, and has not changed its position, except that the original trees were blown down, and others near by were chosen. Occasionally young eagles are captured, caged, and preserved as curiosities.

West Girard
The ancient village of West Girard is in the valley of Elk Creek, after which it was originally named, mostly on the west bank of the stream, about half a mile from the borough of Girard. It was rather an important place in early days, being the site of one of the stage company's extensive stables, and a changing place for their teams. The village then boasted a number of stores, four taverns, two tanneries, an oil mill, distillery, and several smaller establishments, all of which were allowed to run down. It received its worst blow by the building of the canal on the opposite side of the creek, which caused a transfer of the business to the present borough. Its principal establishments now are a large grist mill, a planing mill and sash and blind factory, a saw mill, a plaster mill and a brickyard. The village contains a schoolhouse, about thirty houses, and 135 inhabitants. An iron bridge over Elk Creek marks the site of two or three wooden structures which have been washed away by the destructive floods of that stream.



Borough of Girard

In the year 1814, at the close of the war with Great Britain, the site of Girard Borough was partly included in the farm of John Taylor, whose log house was the only building there. At a later date, the land was owned by Daniel Sayre, Sr., who purchased from Mr. Taylor. Mr. Sayre sold to Joseph Wells, who erected the first frame building within the borough limits. The original town was on the other side of the creek, now known as West Girard. When the canal was located on the east side of the stream, several far-seeing parties commenced building on the present site, and it was not long until a town was laid out. The name of Girard was given to it in honor of the township of which it became -- so to speak -- the capital and center of trade. The first buildings in the village were near the canal, and the first tavern occupied a site a little west of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1846, the village was incorporated as a borough. Its first officers were: Burgess Mason Kellogg; Council, John McClure, Jr., Leffert Hart, H. McConnell, George H. Cutler; Clerk, L. S. Jones. The corporation covers 250 acres. The United States census gave Girard a population of 400 in 1850, 616 in 1860, 704 in 1870, and 703 in 1880. The assessment for 1883 gave the following results: Value of real estate, $247,453; cows, 39; value, $1,380; horses and mules, 73; value, $6,110; personal property, $7,490; value of trades and occupations, $60,255; money at interest, $11,377.

Girard occupies a pleasant site along the Ridge road, which constitutes its Main street, on high ground overlooking the lake shore plain and the lovely valley of Elk Creek, sixteen miles west by public road from Erie, ten east from the Ohio line, two and a half south of the lake, and one and three-quarters from the railroad station at Miles Grove, with which it is connected by the old depot road and Rice avenue. The latter thoroughfare, which was projected by Dan Rice while in the height of his prosperity, was opened in the winter of 1867-68, and is well built up, giving a stranger the idea of a continuous town. A charter for a street railroad on this fine avenue was procured some years ago, but the enterprise was never carried to completion. The old road is also rather closely built up, and both thoroughfares are among the most pleasant in the county. The Erie Canal passed through the borough by a deep cut, and two venerable warehouses still stand upon its banks, showing that a large trade was done there through the medium of that improvement. The town occupies the second rise above the lake shore plain, in the midst of one of the most beautiful and productive countries in the Union. It contains every variety of stores incident to a community of the size, has many delightful residences, especially along the east end of the main street, which is finely shaded, and does an extensive trade with the farming region around.

Churches, Schools, Etc.
The borough numbers among its public institutions Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal, Catholic, Universalist and German Lutheran Churches. The Methodist Church, which has few superiors in the county for beauty of architecture and elegance of finish, was erected in 1868 at a cost of $30,000. The congregation was organized in 1815, by Rev. Ira Eddy, its first pastor, and built it first edifice in 1828. For many years the appointment was a portion of the Springfield Circuit.

The Presbyterian Church is a substantial brick building erected in 1835, to which an old graveyard is attached. Its congregation was organized May 16, 1835, by Rev. Pierce Chamberlain, the first Elders being Robert Porter and Philip Bristol. It was at first supplied by Rev. Edson Hart, who was stationed at Springfield. The present pastor, Rev. W. R. Moore, assumed the pastorate of the church in 1871.

St. John's Catholic congregation was organized about the year 1858, and soon thereafter put up a church building. The congregation was attended by visiting priests for a number of years. Rev. Father F. Riordy has served this charge in connection with the one at North East since July, 1870.

The Universalist society was organized some years previous to 1852, and in that year erected their present church building; the pastor of this church since 1864 has been Rev. C. L. Shipman; his predecessor was Rev. S. P. Carrolton; Revs. E. Wood and C. B. Lombard has preceded Mr. Carrolton.

St. Johannis congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1866, and subsequently purchased the church building occupied by the Methodist Episcopal society prior to the erection of their present building in 1868. The pulpit of the church was filled for periods by the pastors of the church of this denomination in Erie. For some years past, this congregation and the one in Fairview Township have been under one pastorate. Rev. Gavehling has been pastor of both these charges for the past four years.

The Girard Cemetery, one of the handsomest burial grounds in the county, is a tract of ten acres, neatly inclosed, laid out in walks and containing many costly monuments. The organization was charged in Marcy, 1861, and the property was laid out the same year.

The Girard Academy was built by subscription in 1850, and opened in 1851, with 150 pupils. It had a students' boarding house attached, and for awhile was very successful. The property was transferred to the school board about twelve years ago, and has since been occupied by the common schools of the borough. These consist of a series of graded schools, managed by a Principal and three assistants. The schools opened in the fall of 1883, with an enrollment of 160 pupils under the superintendency of J. M. Morrison, who had three lady assistants. There are four departments, each of which is in excellent condition. The schools were graded in the winter of 1872-73, by F. W. Knapp. The latter was succeeded by the present Principal, who is now (1883) beginning his fifth school year at Girard.

The first school that was held in Girard Township was taught in what is now Girard Borough, by J. Swan, in the year 1809. He was then in his sixteenth year. The following year (1810) Mr. Swan taught a school in Mill Creek Township.

In 1827, the village school was held in the lower floor of a log building that stood a little to the rear of the site of the drug store of Smith & Lowe on Main street; Tabitha Mashon was teaching about this time (the second floor of the building was used as the Masonic Lodge room).

Hotels and Factories
The hotels of Girard Borough are the Avenue House, finished in 1879, and owned and kept by Peter H. Nellis, and the Martin House, which has been in operation thirty years, and is now kept by Alonzo White. Girard has been rather unfortunate in the matter of hotel buildings, the old Girard House, which occupied the site of the present Avenue House, and the Central House of Joshua Evans, which stood on the east side of the public square, having both been burned. In the days of stage coaching on the Ridge road, the locality was a famous ne for taverns, there having been no less than eight, within two miles, in 1835.

The most important manufacturing concern of the borough is the wrench factory. This concern was built by a corporation under the State laws, and erected in 1874, by the Walton Brothers, of Cleveland, Ohio, with a capital of $8,000, the people of Girard subscribing half the stock. It failed in 1875, and at Sheriff's sale was purchased by C. F. Rockwell, W. C. Culbertson, C. F. Webster and R. S. Battles. This company is under a limited partnership, but the business has been carried on successfully under this firm. The concern employ about seventy-five men. In the fall of 1883, a well was sunk near the mill for the purpose of securing gas for lighting purposes. After boring 1,310 feet, and receiving an insufficient supply, the derrick was removed to a different locality and the second well is under operation at this writing. Besides this establishment, H. H. Waitman has a planing mill, and there is a small furniture factory. All of these concerns are run by steam. There is also a small bedspring manufactory owned by H. P. Malick.

Square, Monument, Etc.
The public square of Girard was a gift from Joseph Wells, one of the owners of the land, when the village was laid out. It is surrounded by a number of fine buildings, but its principal objects of interest are the soldiers' monument, and the Dan Rice residence, which occupies, with grounds, a full block on the north side. The monument is a splendid shaft of marble, designed by the celebrated Chicago sculptor, Leonard Volk, inclosed by an iron railing, and dedicated November 1, 1865. It cost $6,000, the whole of which was paid by Dan Rice.

The Dan Rice property embraces two and a half acres, inclosed on three sides by a heavy brick wall, and ornamented with statuary, walks, arbors, and the choicest of trees, shrubbery and flowers. The mansion itself is a large frame building. Within the inclosure is a fine conservatory, and a brick barn which cost $26,000. The cost of the wall around the grounds was $3,000. Dan Rice's first purchase in Girard was in 1853, when he bought a piece of land with building on the northwest side of the square, from Col. John McClure, for $18,000. In 1856 he moved there, and from that date continued to add to his purchase until he had possession of the entire square, at a total cost of about $60,000. Financial embarrassments lost to Dan Rice this estate, and the present owners are the estate of Avery Smith, John Nathans and Dr. G. R. Spalding.

Public Men
Girard Borough and Township have furnished a goodly proportion of the public men of the county. Among the number have been George H. Cutler, State Senator from 1873 to 1875, Speaker of the Senate, then the second highest office in the Commonwealth, from the close of the session in 1874, and President pro tem. during the session of 1875; Theodore Byman, member of Assembly in 1848; Leffert Hart in 1849; Henry Teller in 1860 and 1861; George P. Rea in 1868 and 1869; H. A. Traut, from 1883 to 1885; Myron Hutchinson, Associate Judge, from 1841 to 1850; James Miles, from 1851 to 1856; S. E. Woodruff, District Attorney, from 1853 to 1856, and United States Register in Bankruptcy for the Congressional District from 1867 to 1879; James C. Marshall, Prothonotary, from January 13, 1839, to November 16, 1839, and Samuel Perley, from 1851 to 1854; Jeremiah Davis, County Treasurer, from December 1, 1856, to December 23, 1858; L. T. Fisk, County Superintendent of Public Schools, from 1866 to 1869; Myron Hutchinson, County Commissioner from 1828 to 1830, and James Miles, from 1835 to 1838; D. W. Hutchinson, Mercantile Appraiser, in 1877; William Biggers, Jury Commissioner, from January 1, 1880, to January 1, 1883; George Platt, County Surveyor, from 1872 to date; John Hay, Director of the Poor, from 1853 to 1857; James Miles, County Auditor, from 1840 to 1843, and Philip Osborn, from 1864 to 1867. Senator and Secretary of the Interior Teller, of Colorado, was a resident of Girard Township while a boy. The Girard members of the bar are James C. Marshall, D. W. Hutchinson, S. E. & T. S. Woodruff, George H. Cutler and C. J. Hinds. Mr. Marshall moved to Erie in April, 1844, and the Messrs. Woodruff about 1872. Capt. Hutchinson was Chairman of the Democratic County Committee for several years, was a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention of 1872, and has represented the county frequently in State Conventions. In addition to the above officers, T. C. Wheeler wa United State Assistant Assessor, being appointed under President Lincoln, and holding the office nine years. Mr. Osborn was keeper of the Marine Hospital at Erie, a State appointment, for several years, ending in 1883.

Newspapers and Banks
The first newspaper was the Girard Free Press, started about 1845, by S. D. Carpenter, who took Horace Greeley's advice, went West, and became a prominent politician, issuing a book at the commencement of the war, which furnished the texts for numberless Democratic editorials. The Express, its successor, was purchased by T. C. Wheeler and William S. Finch, November 7, 1854, and the name was changed to the Republican. It bore the novel motto, "Independent on all subjects, rabid on none." In 1855, Samuel Perley moved to Girard from Erie, merged the material of his city office with that of the Republican, and conducted a paper for several years. From that date, several futile efforts were made to establish a paper until 1868, when the Cosmopolite entered the arena, as the successor of the Crisis, which had been founded at Conneautville, by T. G. Fields, under the auspices of Dan Rice, to advocate his election to the Presidency. Charles Stow became editor of the Cosmopolite, and infused such a degree of vigor and ability into it that it got a reputation the country over. After a brief suspension, owing to commercial depression, it was purchased by Jacob Bender & Bro. in the spring of 1872. In the spring of 1873, Charles Bender went out of the concern, but returned in 1876, and in 1880 he purchased the interest of his brother, who moved to Erie.

The first bank organized in Girard was in 1859, under the firm name of Battles & Webster. This firm dissolved in 1876, since which time it has been carried on by R. S. Battles, and C. F. Webster, Cashier. The First National Bank was organized in 1863, by Henry McConnell, James Webster, Henry M. Webster, R. S. Battles, John Gulliford and L. S. Wright. Henry McConnell was elected President, which position he filled to the close of his life, in 1871. James Webster succeeded him to this position, which he filled until the charter expired in June, 1882. R. S. Battles was elected Cashier, and occupied that position during the entire administration of the concern. A. W. Course was elected Assistant Cashier, and held the post till November, 1871. He was succeeded by C. F. Webster, who filled the position to its close. Henry M. Webster was elected Vice President at the retirement of James Webster, and occupied this post until his death. During the panic of 1873, all other banks suspended payment in currency, while the tow banks located in Girard paid all its demands in currency on presentation. The First National Bank was in a prosperous condition, and had passed successfully through all the periods of financial distress. The charger having expired prior to the passage of laws by Congress, it was necessarily closed. It paid off its stock-holders 120 cents on the dollar, and all its indebtedness inside of thirty days.

Miscellaneous
The secret societies of the borough are a Masonic Blue Lodge and Chapter, and two lodges of the United Workmen. A Grange flourished awhile, but has been disbanded. Exodus Lodge, I. O. of G. T., was in existence in 1855; the Girard Lyceum was founded in 1855; a Young Men's Literary Association in 1859; and the Girard Guards, D. W. Hutchinson, Captain, were organized in 1860. The Union Agricultural Society of Girard was instituted as an auxiliary to the county society, July 25, 2856;had a fair that year, and continued to give annual exhibitions till the war. It is now defunct.

The old State line passes through the borough, running within six feet of the northeast corner of the Avenue House.

The adoption of Girard as the residence of San Rice had the effect of drawing other caterers to the public amusement there, and in course of time it became known far and wide as a "show town." Among the famous showmen who made it their residence were Dr. James L. Thayer, who started as an employe of Rice's; Charles W. Noyes, one of his pupils; Abe Henderson, Agrippa Martin and Seymour Pease, all at one period owners or part owners of extensive circuses. No less than five shows have been organized in the borough, viz., Dan Rice's, Thayer & Noyes', Rice & Forepaugh's, Anderson & Co.'s and G. R. Spalding & Co.'s. Dan Rice wintered his shows there from 1856 till the spring of 1875. Denman Thompson, the popular comedian, is a native of Girard Township. Frank Drew, Sr., the famous comedian, claims Girard as his home. Charles Stow, the editor and poet, has been a resident of the borough since 1867, and spends each winter there with his family.



Borough of Lockport

The post office name of Lockport is Platea. The town started about 1840, during the construction of the canal, and derives its appellation from the fact that there were twenty-eight locks within a distance of two miles. These had an average lift of six and one-half feet, and were used to overcome the rise from the lake shore plain to the valley of Conneaut Creek. The thickly settled portion of the borough is situated in the valley of Hall's Run, a tributary of Elk Creek, about four miles from Girard Borough, three from Cross's Station and five from Albion. The town owes its origin to the enterprise of Silas Pratt, who had the contract for building the locks and who owned the land. Foreseeing that a town must grow up along the locks, he started a store and built a church, hotel and several houses. Mr. Pratt failed in 1848 or 1849, and was prevented from fully carrying out his projects. The canal caused a considerable trade to spring up, and the town was once quite a flourishing place, containing two hotels, two churches, three stores, an oar factory, a tannery, foundry, planing mill, printing office, three blacksmith shops and a harness shop. Ezekiel Page, who invented a way of turning the blade and handle of an oar together, erected a building four stories high and 180 feet long by 80 wide. He became embarrassed about 1855, went South, and was found dead in the woods of Florida, having probably lost his way. The factory building was moved to Erie after the war, and placed on the Anthracite Coal and Iron Company's dock near the land lighthouse. A fire in 1871 swept away the hotel and barn owned by W. B. Andrews; some two years later the foundry was burned, and in 1876 the second and last hotel fell a prey to the same destructive element. These successive conflagrations, joined to the abandonment of the canal, seemed to have prostrated the town forever, but it has taken a fresh start lately, and bids fair yet to become a place of some importance.

Lockport was incorporated as a borough in 1870, taking in about seventeen hundred acres, of which the chief portion is farming land. Its population then was estimated at 500, but had been reduced to 345 in 1880. The territory included in the borough limits was originally a portion of Elk Creek Township, and, after the organization of Girard Township, formed its extreme southern part. The borough covers a space of some three miles from east to west, by one mile and a third from north to south. The farming land is generally clay, with some patches of gravel. Wheat is a sure and good crop, and all kinds of fruit common to the lake shore do well. By the appraisement of 1883, the value of real estate within the borough was $87,189, and of personal property $6,423. The amount of money returned as drawing interest was $7,628. The eleven mile level of the canal commenced at the head of the locks at Lockport, and extended to Spring Corners, in Crawford County. Crooked Creek, which empties into Lake Erie in Springfield Township, rises in Lockport Borough.

The borough contains two churches -- the Disciple and the Methodist Episcopal -- both built in 1878.

The Disciple Church was organized in the winter of 1877 by Elder Cushman, who became the regular pastor of the congregation and served it some two years. The present pastor is Elder Wright. A Sabbath school, numbering 100 scholars and teachers, is carried on, superintended by J. P. Sherman. Before building their church edifice, the congregation worshiped in Tyler Hall.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized about the year 1843, and soon thereafter a church building was erected about a quarter of a mile west of Lockport. This was torn down and partially removed to the village and used in the construction of the present edifice at that place. Prior to 1865, the charge was connected with Girard. Rev. N. W. Jones was pastor in 1881, 1882 and 1883.

The business institutions are a cheese factory (established in 1876), an oar factory, a tannery, planing mill, saw mill, cider mill, two stores, a wagon shop, three blacksmith ships, two shoe shops and a harness shop. The tannery was started by William Aldrich in 1848, and the oar factory by Mr. Rowley in 1860. There is a public school with two grades and two teachers. The town is unfortunate in its distance from a railroad, the nearest station being Cross's. It has had no hotel since the last fire.



Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter XX, pp. 835-851.
 

 


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