Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister


 

Greene Township

This township -- one of the original sixteen -- was known as Beaver Dam until 1840, when the present name was adopted in honor of Gen. Nathaniel Greene, of Revolutionary memory. Its western boundary has been twice changed--first, by adding a piece to McKean, and second, by the erection of Summit in 1854. Greene Township is bounded on the north by Mill Creek and Harbor Creek, on the east by Greenfield and Venango, on the south by Waterford and on the west by Summit and Mill Creek. Its greatest extent is seven miles from north to south, and six from east to west. It has an area of 22,020 acres, and contained 140 inhabitants in 1820, 443 in 1830, 1,081 in 1840, 1,542 in 1850, 1,450 in 1860, 1,395 in 1870, and 1,531 in 1880. By the assessment of 1883, the valuation of real estate was $560,517; the number of horses, 428; of cows, 795, and of oxen, 28; the value of personal property, $40,100; and the amount of money at interest was $19,023.

First Settlers
The earliest settlers in Greene Township were Peter Himebaugh and Conrad Wineman, two Pennsylvania Germans, who took up lands in 1800 along Le Boeuf Creek, and remained there the balance of their lives. About 1802, Jacob and Samuel Brown, Thomas Bunnell, and John and Ambrose Coover settled in the Le Boeuf Valley. In the spring of 1802, Thomas Hinton, with five sons and two daughters, made their homes in the northeast, in what has ever since been known as Wales, from their native country. The Browns built mills on the creek, and for a long period supplied a good portion of the timber used at Erie. In the Welsh settlement, the Hintons were followed by the Joneses, Knoyles, Morgans, Wilkinses and others of their countrymen. From 1804 on, a number of persons went in and left, and the tide of emigration did not commence again until 1816. Between that year and 1818, a colony of New England people located in the township, among whom may be named Cyril Drown and sons, Martin Hayes and sons, Isaac and David Church, Benjamin Gunnison, Roger Root, David Edwards and S. T. Rockwood. Weed's Corners was settled in 1828 by William B. Weed and William Yaple, who went there when the country south of Hayes's to Lake Pleasant was a continuous forest. The first German emigration was in 1833, when the Hirts, Pringles, Kellers and others settled on and near the Wattsburg road. Mr. Kuhl and sons removed from Mill Creek in 1835. The Irish began settling in the town ship about 1836, mostly on the Kuhl road. Among their number the Barrys, Gallaghers, Morrisons, McManuses, Cosgroves and McGinneses were first on the ground. H. L. Pinney bought a farm in Greene in 1843, and moved there the next year. E. O. Pinney first rented a farm in 1843, and purchased in 1846; and Martin Pinney made the township his home in 1851. The first two are cousins of Martin Pinney and his brother Elisha Pinney, of McKean. Their fathers were twins, and looked so much alike that they could scarcely be told apart by their wives. Elijah, the father of H. L. and E. O., located in Harbor Creek in 1835; Elisha, the father of Martin and Elisha, Jr., in McKean in 1836. Griffith Hinton, one of the sons of Thomas, above referred to, died at the residence of his son-in-law, Sumner Bemis, on the 15th of March, 1880, at the advanced age of ninety-six years. The Hinton family came from Wales in 1801, but did not settle in this county till the next year. Griffith Hinton served in the war of 1812. He removed from Greene Township to Harbor Creek in 1834.

Lands
Greene is one of the most elevated townships in the county, containing the dividing ridge from which the waters of Mill Creek, Walnut Creek, Four Mile Creek and Six Mile Creek flow into the lake, and of Le Boeuf Creek to the south. The main body of the land is clay and gravel, best for grazing, and great numbers of cattle are raised, and cheese and butter produced. There is a good valley along Le Boeuf Creek, in the southwest, ranging from half a mile to a mile in width, which is somewhat damp, but is rich in its yield of grass. Wheat is raised to some extent, but the valley is rather frosty for corn. Greene Township produces big crops of oats and potatoes, and fruits of all kinds are as certain a yield as in any other section of the county. The value of land is from $30 to $50 an acre. A considerable area of forest land still exists, and the township may be said to be the main supply point of Erie for firewood. The township post offices are West Greene, East Greene, Hamot and Six Mile Creek.

Streams and Mills
As before stated, Greene is the fountain-head of no less than five Erie County streams, viz., Le Boeuf Creek, Mill Creek, Walnut Creek, Four Mile Creek and Six Mile Creek. Le Boeuf Creek rises on the south edge of the township, and empties into French creek below Waterford; a branch of Mill Creek starts on Jacob Lilleman's farm, in the northwest; Four Mile Creek on R. Zimmer's farm, about a mile northeast from St. Boniface; Six Mile Creek, on the farm of Mrs. Sarah Filley, a short distance south of Wales, and Walnut Creek, near the Greene and Summit line, a little northeast of Whiteford's Corners. The great gully of Four Mile Creek begins nearly at the head of the stream, about three and a half miles south of the Harbor Creek line, and continues to the crossing of the Station road, below Cooper's mill. The mills of the township are the saw and feed mill of Miles Brown, on Le Boeuf Creek; Kane's saw mill, near the north boundary, and David Ripley's saw mill, back of St. Boniface Church, both on Four Mile Creek, and two saw mills on Six Mile Creek, north of Wales. The first, last and only grist mill in the township was built by Jacob Brown early in the century, and ran until 1872, when it burned down. Formerly there was another saw mill on Le Boeuf Creek, one near the Lake Pleasant road, a third near John Evans', and a fourth at Bogus Corners, but all have been abandoned.

Roads and Railroad
The leading thoroughfares are the Wattsburg Plank Road; the old road to Wattsburg by way of Phillipsville, which branches off from the plank road at the Seigel place; the Lake Pleasant road; the road from Harbor Creek to Waterford, through West Greene; the old Shunpike, from Augustus Graham's in Summit to Waterford, and the road from the Shunpike to West Greene. The wattsburg plank was completed in 1853, and given up as a toll road in the spring of 1865. The Lake Pleasant road was opened from Erie to the Martin Hayes place in the winter of 1821-22, and extended to French Creek in the winter of 1826-27, through was, for a good part of the way, a dense wilderness. Both of these roads traverse the entire width of the township from northwest to southeast. The Shunpike was laid out in 1827-28 to avoid the Waterford Turnpike, growing out of a quarrel between its owners and the stage company over the rates of toll. The Harbor Creek & Wattsburg road was opened in 1810, and the one which branches off from the Shunpike has been in existence thirty to forty years. The only railroad in Greene is the Philadelphia & Erie, which crosses about a mile of its southwest corner, between Summit and Waterford. It has no station in the township, and the nearest are at Belle Valley, Langdon's and Jackson's. The railroad bridge over Le Boeuf Creek is at the line between Greene and Waterford.

Hamlets and Churches
Greene Township has no incorporated towns, and no settlements that can strictly be called by the name of villages. There are, however, several thickly settled localities which have been honored with special names, such as West Greene, St. Boniface, Wales, Bogus Corners, Weed's Corners and Six Mile Creek. Wales, in the northeast, on the Venango line, derives its name from being first settled by Welsh, of whom the Hintons were the pioneers. The district known as Wales includes a Presbyterian and Methodist Church, a schoolhouse and a few farmhouses. The Presbyterian congregation was organized in 1849 by Rev. G. W. Cleveland, its first pastor, and erected a building in 1851 at a cost of $800. The succeeding ministers have been Revs. Steele, William H. Adams and John McMaster. The latter is now in charge, and the congregation is weak. The Methodist congregation has been in existence some thirty-five years. Rev. J. O. Osborne was pastor 1881-82. The circuit includes Phillipsville, West Greene and Wales.

St. Boniface is a German settlement on the Wattsburg Plank Road, seven miles from Erie, which derives its name from the Catholic Church there located. The congregation was organized in 1857 by Rev. J. A. Oberhofer, with a congregation of some forty families. Rev. Oberhofer remained in charge of the church until 1867, and again in 1871 became its pastor, and sustained that relation with the congregation until the summer of 1873. Since then, the pastors have been as follows: Fathers Maloney, M. Apple and Edward Hasse, the last of whom is now in charge. The post office name is Hamot.

A church was erected in 1857, which burned down in 1867, and the present elegant building was erected in 1873, at a cost of $4,000. Meantime a separation took place between the German and English speaking members of the congregations, which led to the construction of another edifice by the latter in 1870, at a cost of $400. This building, known as St. Peter's Church, was subsequently removed to Kuhl's Hill. A Catholic school, a parsonage and a graveyard are attached to St. Boniface Church. Both congregations have the same pastor and get along now in harmony. Besides the church buildings, the settlement contains a grocery, wagon shop, blacksmith shop and a few residences. East Greene Post Office and a schoolhouse are situated near Bogus Corners. The Corners are at the intersection of a cross road with the Wattsburg plank, not far from the center of the township. The east Greene Post Office was established about 18129, with N. M. Manly as Postmaster. Half a mile west are a German Lutheran Church and graveyard, a grocery and a saloon. The congregation erected its building in 1857, at a cost of $600. It is known as St. Paul United Luther and Presbyterian Church, and was organized several years previous with twenty-two members, by Rev. Michael Kuchler, of Erie, and, until the construction of the church, worshiped in a schoolhouse. At present, a temporary vacancy exists in the pastorate. The membership is about thirty-five. Weed's Corners, at the intersection of the road from West Green with the Lake Pleasant road, is nothing more than a few farmhouses. It derives its name from William B. Weed, who was the first settler. West Greene consists of a small collection of buildings at the meeting of two roads in the south part of the township. Besides the post office, there is a Methodist Church, a cheese factory, store, blacksmith shop and schoolhouse. The cheese factory was opened May 12, 1873, and the church building has been up about twenty years.

The Methodist Episcopal Church at West Greene was organized in 1827, by Rev. Knapp, with five members -- Nathaniel Brace and wife, John Brace and wife and Mrs. William B. Weed. Originally, this appointment formed a part of North East Circuit, which embraced Erie City, Waterford, Wattsburg, North East, McKean, Russellville and other charges; at present it belongs to Greene Circuit, which includes three charges -- Phillipsville, West Greene and Center Chapel -- in this township. Rev. J. O. Osborne is the present pastor. The early meetings were held in dwellings and schoolhouses until about 1848, when a large frame church was built at a cost of $800. It was superseded in the autumn of 1883 by a new frame structure, erected on the site of the old church, a short distance north of West Greene, at a cost of $1,500.

About 1848, a church was built at West Greene and occupied for a number of years by a Free-Will Baptist congregation. After the dismemberment of the society, the building was removed to a farm.

In addition to these churches, the United Brethren have one on the Lake Pleasant road, just above the head of the lake, on the line between Greene and Venango, the congregation of which was organized in 1871, by Rev. John A. Thomas. The building was erected in 1872 at a cost of $1,300.

Six Mile Creek, about a mile north of Wales, consists of two or more saw mills and a few houses. There has been a post office at this point for several years. In the northwest part of the township is an old United Brethren society, which has been meeting for twenty-two or twenty-three years at the residence of David Ripley, Sr. Formerly it held services in the Lawrence Schoolhouse. The class forms a part of Harbor Creek Circuit.

Public Men
The public officers furnished by Greene Township are Capt. Thomas Wilkins, Collector of the Port of Erie from 1861 to 1869; Jonas Gunnison, a prominent Erie attorney and a member of the Assembly in 1859; Rodney Cole, County Commissioner from 1851 to 1854; William B. Weed, from 1867 to 1870, and Albert B. Gunnison, from 1875 to 1881; Ora P. Gunnison, Deputy Sheriff for a few months; Assistant Assessor of Internal Revenue for a long term; Acting Collector of Internal Revenue from October 8 to November 8, 1875; Mercantile Appraiser in 1879, and Clerk of the County Commissioners, from 1881 to 1883; Horace L. Pinney, Jury Commissioner from 1870 to 1873; E. O. Pinney, Trustee of Erie Academy from 1875 to 1878, and William E. Hayes, County Auditor from 1874 to 1880. Rev. Martin Hayes, for forty years a prominent minister of the Presbyterian denomination, and C. A. Hayes, a lawyer in Chicago, are natives of Greene.

Schools
According to William B. Weed, in 1825 no schools were held in what is now Greene Township. Soon after 1825, however, a schoolhouse was built on Lot 184, in the east part of the township. A second was erected about two miles farther south, and a third was built on the farm of William B. Weed. One of the first teachers was Mrs. Brace. She was a pioneer woman of the township, hailing from Connecticut. Below is a list of the school buildings:

Kuhl, on Kuhl Hill; Drown, on Wattsburg road, near Hosea Drown's; Bogus Corners; New, at John Evans, near Wales; Weed, on Lake Pleasant road, near Weed's Corners; Lawrence (the voting place), on Lake Pleasant road, near the center; West Greene; and Brown near LeBoeuf Creek in the southwest. Pleasant Independent District, embracing parts of Greene, Summit and Mill Creek, has a building on the Lake Pleasant road, in the Pinney and Hayes neighborhood. Lake Pleasant Independent District takes in the southwest part of Greene and adjacent corners of Amity, Waterford and Venango.

Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter XIV, pp. 789-793.

 


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