Township and Borough of Wattsburg
Venango River was
the name given by the French to the stream afterward called by the English
and still known as French Creek. It is a corruption of the Indian word
Innungah, which is said by Mr. Day, in the Historical Annals of
Pennsylvania, to have had reference to a rude and indecent figure carved
upon a tree near the mouth of the creek, which the Senecas found when they
drove out the Eriez and took possession of this region by the right of
conquest. The township of Venango received its title at the organization
of the county. It is bounded on the north by Greenfield, on the east by
french Creek Township, Chautauqua county, N. Y., on the south by Amity,
and on the west by Greene. The township has regular lines, and is nearly
square, having a width of about six and a quarter miles by a breadth of
seven. The population was 490 in 1820, 683 in 1830, 812 in 1840, 1,019 in
1850, 1,301 in 1860, 1,650 in 1870, and 1,445 in 1880. The east line of
Venango, Greenfield and North East Townships forms the boundary between
Pennsylvania and New York, which is exactly on a parallel with the western
extremity of Lake Ontario. It was established in the year 1788 by a joint
commission of Pennsylvania and the United States, leaving a Triangle which
was subsequently purchased by the State. Venango Township is within the
Triangle, and its south line is a part of the original northern boundary
of the commonwealth. The villages are Lowville and Phillipsville, both of
which have post offices. The highest point in Erie county is said to be in
Venango Township, near the Greenfield and New York lines.
By the assessment
for 1883, the township contained 25,595 acres, and was valued as follows:
Real estate, $553,458; cows, 994, worth, $17,892; oxen, 48, worth $1,925;
horses and mules, 381, worth $15,680; personal property, $35,497; trades
and occupations, $3,975; money at interest, $28,141.
The first white man who is known to have visited Venango Township was
William Miles, who came out as a surveyor with David Watts in 1785, fell
in love with the beautiful flats at the junction of the East and West
Branches, and after going East to make his report returned in 1795 and
took up 1,400 acres, including the site of Wattsburg. He was followed in
1796 by Adam Reed and his son James, who located 400 acres on the East
Branch, and at a later period built the first grist mill in the township.
Thomas Smith settled at Lowville in the same year, and was soon followed
by Burrell and Zalmon Tracy. In 1797, John and David Phillips became
possessed of 1,100 acres on which Phillipsville now stands. In 1798,
William Allison and wife, from Northumberland County, with their son
James, a boy of three years, settled near Lake Pleasant. from that year to
1800 a number of colonists went in whose names will be found in the list
of taxables further on. In 1822, Lowville was settled by Samuel Low and
his brother-in-law, Dr. Wright, both from Genesee County, N. Y. Timothy
Butler and father, from Onondaga County, N. Y., made their settlements in
1816; John R. Smith about 1826, David Bailey in 1828, and Dr. D. T.
Bennett, from Delaware County, N. Y., in 1829. William Blore, the Chapins,
the Tituses, and others took up their residence in the township in 1830.
The Norcrosses and the Davisons, who had located on the high lands west of
Lake Pleasant, changed to Mill Creek. John Warren, another of the early
settlers, moved to Erie in 1810. During the interval between 1810 and 1820
there was little increase, but about the latter year a new population,
mainly from New York, commenced going in, whose descendants generally
remain. For many years the nearest stores were at Erie and Waterford, and
the nearest grist mills at North East and Union. Most of the early
settlers were Scotch Presbyterians from the Susquehanna Valley. The first
child was Robert, son of William Allison and wife, who was born in 1799,
soon after his parents moved into the township. The first death was that
of Adam Reed, in 1805. Samuel Henderson came with William Miles from
Carlisle, Penn., in 1795. That winter he spent in driving pack-horses to
and from the mouth of French Creek. He and his brother, Stuart, located
400 acres of land in the spring of 1798, and then went to Fayette County
Taxables in 1800
The taxable citizens of
the township in 1800 were as follows: William Allison, Hezekiah Barker,
Philo Barker, Henry Bontz, John Boyd, John Carnahan, William Carnahan,
Thomas Carnahan, John Clark, Thomas Davison, Sr., Francis, Robert, George,
Arthur and Thomas Davison, Jr., John and William Dickson, Bailey, John and
James Donaldson, John Dickson, Jr., Samuel and Stuart Henderson, Stephen
Hazleton, James and John Hunter, Thomas Hinton, Jr., Robert and Wilson
Johnston, John B. Jones, Caleb Lyon, David McNair, Joseph McGahen, William
Miles, Barnabus McCue, Andrew Norcross, John, James M. and David Phillips,
Thomas Prentice, James Perry, James M., Thomas E. and Robert R. Reed,
Ralph Spafford, Thomas, Samuel and John Smith, Benjamin Saxton, Zalmon and
Burrill Tracy, Nathaniel Wilson, John Warren and John Yost. In 1817,
William Miles was assessed for 2,400 acres in Venango Township, most of
which were at Wattsburg and Lowville. They were valued at $3,400.
The following is a list
of the citizens of Venango who have held State and county positions: Canal
Commissioner, John Phillips, 1826 to 1829. Assembly, John Phillips, 1809,
1810, 1811, 1812 and 1824; Wareham Warner, 1856 and 1857. Prothonotary,
Giles D. Price, December 28, 1875, to January 1, 1882. Clerk of the
Courts, Charles L. Pierce, November 20, 1867, to November 14, 1873. County
Treasurer, John Warren, 1817; elected from Erie, where he had moved.
County Commissioners, John Phillips, 1804 to 1807; Samuel Low, 1836 to
1840, elected from Harbor Creek, where he moved in 1834; Jacob Fritts,
1860 to 1863; Daniel W. Titus, 1875 to 1881. Clerk to County
Commissioners, Giles D. Price, chosen in January, 1883. County Auditors,
Samuel Low, 1832; Daniel W. Titus, 1872; C. R. Gray, 1878 to 1881. Col. J.
S., M. Rush and Joseph Warner, well known business men of Erie, were born
at Lowville. The first named was a Colonel in the Union army during the
late war. D. B. Foote was a Captain in the same service, and Dr. S. F.
Chapin a Surgeon.
War of 1812
Following is the muster roll of Company E of the One Hundred and
Thirty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Militia, at the breaking-out of the war
of 1812: Captain, William Dickson; Lieutenant, Robert Davison; Ensign,
Thomas Davison; Sergeants, Arthur Davidson, John Dickson, David Phillips;
privates, James Donaldson, David McNair, Bailey Donaldson, Thomas Johnson,
John Hunter, Samuel Smith, George Davidson, John B. Jones, John Smith,
James Smith, James White, Thomas Prentice, Samuel Henderson, Thomas Henton,
Griffith Henton, William Henton, Zalmon Tracy, Burrill Tracy, Thomas E.
Reed. Capt. Dickson moved from the county in April, 1813, and Lieut.
Davidson assumed command, continuing during the war. The company was
called out in June, 1813, and for some time guarded the shipyards at the
mouth of Cascade Creek, where Perry's fleet was building. They remained
until the fleet sailed and were then sent home, but were ordered into
service again when the news came in January, 1814, that the British had
Streams, Lake and
Venango is one of the
best watered townships inthe county. The West Branch, which rises in
Findley's Lake, N. Y., enters the township from Greenfield, and crosses
its entire width from north to south, past Lowville and Wattsburg. The
East Branch takes its rise near Sherman, N. Y., and coming in not far from
the southeast corner, flows in a southeastern course into Amity where the
two unite near the township lie, just outside the borough limits of
Wattsburg. The West Branch, which is very crooked, has a length of about
twelve miles in Venango, and the East Branch of about four miles. The
tributaries of these streams are as follows: Of the Wet branch,
Middlebrook, Alder and Fritts Runs; of the East branch, Stafford Run.
Several streams start in the southwest corner of Venango and unite with
French Creek proper in Amity.
Lake Pleasant, in
the extreme southwestern part, near the corners of Venango, Greene, Amity
and Waterford, is a beautiful body of water, about three-fourths of a mile
long and a third of a mile wide, with a depth of twenty-five to fifty
feet. Its outlet is a stream about the size of Le Boeuf Creek at
Waterford, that never diminishes except in the dryest seasons. After
furnishing power to several mills, it falls into French Creek about three
miles south, in Amity Township. The North East, Colt Station,
Phillipsville & Waterford road, one of the first in the county, runs
just above the head of the lake, and the Lake Pleasant road from Erie
follows its east bank and outlet to French Creek.
The township owns
one iron bridge over the East Branch at the Tanner place, and a covered
wooden bridge over the West Branch at Lowville. All of the other bridges
are ordinary open wooden structures. The one over the West Branch at
Wattsburg was the first bridge in the county. It was built originally by
the County Commissioners, through the influence of William Miles in 1822.
The chief avenues of
Venango Township are the Erie & Wattsburg Plank Road; the old Erie
& Wattsburg road by way of Phillipsville, which branches off from the
former at the Siegel farm in Greene Township; the Wattsburg & North
East, up the West Branch and through Greenfield; the Waterford & North
East through Phillipsville and Colt's Station; the Erie & Lake
Pleasant, by way of French Creek and the lake; the Wattsburg & New
York, up the East Branch to clymer and Sherman; the Union & Wattsburg;
the Wattsburg & Corry; and the cross road from A. N. Woods to M. S.
Rouse's. The old Erie road was opened i 1809, partially changed in 1828
and improved in 1832; the Waterford & North East i 1804; and the
Wattsburg and North East in 1798. The latter was the great route for
conveying goods between Lake Erie and the Allegheny until the road was
opened between Presque Isle and Waterford. The Erie & Wattsburg Plank
Road was commenced in 1852, completed in 1853 and abandoned as a toll road
in 1865, after all the gates had been torn down by a party of indignant
farmers. The road from Erie to Lake Pleasant was opened as far south as
the Martin Hayes place in Greene, in 1821-22, and completed to French
Creek in 1826-27. From Erie to Wattsburg by the Lake Pleasant road is
eighteen and three-quarters miles; by of Phillipsville eighteen miles, and
by way of Lowville twenty miles, the latter route, however having the
advantage of better grades. Venango is without a railroad, the nearest
station being at Union. In 1853, the Erie City Railroad Company was
chartered to build a road from the bay of Presque Isle to the State Line,
three miles from Wattsburg, where it was to connect with an extension of
the New York & Erie from Jamestown, N. Y., making a continuous route
between the lake and the Atlantic Ocean.
The valleys of both
branches are quite wide, running from a mile to a mile and a half, and
spreading out to about three miles at Wattsburg, where they come together.
Along Alder Run, Middle Brook and Stafford Run, the flats are from a
quarter of a mile to a half mile in width, and upon the outlet of Lake
Pleasant they are very similar to those along the branches. The value of
farm property is from $30 to $60 an acre in the valleys, and from $20 to
$50 in the hill region. Most of the marketing is done at Wattsburg and
Lowville. A good stone quarry has been opened on the farm of David E.
Foote, and another on that of J. H. Sears.
interests of Venango Township are as follows, not including those of
Wattsburg Borough: At Lowville -- A grist mill run by water; a saw mill by
steam and water, and a steam shingle and heading mill. The grist mill was
built in 1822, has been remodeled since, and has frequently changed
owners. At Phillipsville, a cheese factory. In other sections -- A steam
saw mill on the plank road near Robinson's Corners; a steam shingle mill
on the farm of William S. Henderson; and a steam saw and cider mill on the
farm of John H. Bennett, upon the East Branch. There is also a steam saw
and shingle mill owned by Henry Jenkins, and Jones' steam shingle mill.
Besides the above, there is a creamery in Amity, just outside of Wattsburg,
where much of the milk in the south end of the township is disposed of.
The schools require
two joint and eleven full buildings as follows: Joint schools -- Wales, in
the northwest corner, maintained by Venango and Greene; and the Venango
and Amity, on the south line, near the center. full schools -- Milltown,
in the northeast; Phillipsville; Titus, on the road from Phillipsville to
Milltown; McNair, in the north part, near the center; Lowville (a graded
school); Sears, a little northwest of the latter village; Henderson, in
the north; Maple Grove, on the old Erie Road; Moore, on the Wattsburg
& New York road; Wicks, on the cross road from Wood's Corners to the
State line; and Tower, on the same road.
Not far from the
year 1818, a school was held in the dwelling of B. Tracy, situated about
one and a half miles east of the present borough of Wattsburg, taught by a
Mr. Lewis. In the Phillipsville settlement, about the year 1833, a frame
schoolhouse was erected not far from the present site of the school
building now at that village. A log schoolhouse had previously been used
by the settlement, in which taught at one time Amanda Tracy. Among the
teachers in the frame house were Norman Chapin, a Mr. Pelton, and Benjamin
Grant. Later teachers in this neighborhood were William Wood and Miss
Sylvia Brown. Inthe summer of 1819, Ann Riddle taught a school in the
neighborhood of the old Middlebrook Meeting house. Near the line between
Venango and Greenfield Townships, but in the former, stood what was known
as the Campfield Schoolhouse, in which school was taught during the decade
beginning with 1822 (at periods) by Warren Loomis, Milan Atkins and
The religious edifices
of Venango are a Methodist Episcopal Church each at Lowville and
Phillipsville. The Lowville congregation was organized in 1875, and built
its house in 1876, at a cost of $2,500, Rev. J. A. Kummer being the first
pastor. This appointment is on the Wattsburg Circuit, with which it has
been ever since its organization.
The congregation at
Phillipsville was organized some years prior to 1848. The church building
was erected in 1862, on land deeded to the society by Norman Chapin. In
1849, this charge was on the Wesleyville Circuit, with which it continued
until the formation of Greene Circuit in 1864. It is now on Greene, the
pastors of which since that period have been as follows: S. L. Wilkinson,
J. K. Mendenhall, T. D. Blinn, C. L. Barnhart, R. D. Waltz, W. Hoover, J.
Akers, Z. W. Shadduck, I. N. Clover, A. Bashline, J. C. Ridout and J. O.
Osborne. In addition to the above congregations, the United Brethren hold
services in the Macedonia and Wick's Schoolhouses, and the Methodists in
the Tower Schoolhouse.
Church -- Graveyards
The Middlebrook Church, the first house for religious worship in the
county, stood about a mile and a half north of Lowville, along the
Wattsburg & North East road, upon a tract of two acres deeded by John
Warren to the congregation, to be held as long as used for church and
cemetery purposes. The first services, held i August, 1801, in the woods
on the east bank of the West Branch, near a spring now owned by Enos Mann,
were attended by every man and woman in the township, the young men having
previously cleared the ground and provided a pulpit and seats by chopping
down and squaring the timber. At their conclusion, a motion by John Hunter
that a church building be erected, was eagerly adopted. On the next
Thursday, all the able-bodied men and boys met, concluded upon a site, and
put up a structure -- all within the same day -- which though more modest
than modern churches, doubtless afforded the people as much satisfaction.
The first church was replaced in 1802, by another of more pretentious
style, built of hewed and split logs. Services were regularly held in this
building, until the Presbyterian Church at Wattsburg was erected about
1828, when most of the congregation dropped off. Rev. Absolom McCready was
the pastor in charge for a time. He was succeeded, in 1802, by Rev. Robert
Patterson, who continued until April 22, 1807, having charge at the same
time of the congregation of Upper and Lower Greenfield. The congregation
at Middlebrook continued to decline until April 30, 1829, when it was
dissolved and attached to the one at Wattsburg.
In the Middlebrook
Graveyard were interred the bodies of many of the foremost Presbyterian
pioneers in the county. Most of the remains have been taken up, and the
old burying place is no longer interesting except from its associations.
The other cemeteries and graveyards of the township are the Lowville,
Wattsburg and Phillipsville, the old Butler Burial Ground on the James W.
Davis place and some family inclosures.
The pleasant village of
Lowville is on the West Branch of French Creek, eighteen miles southwest
from Erie, and two north of Wattsburg. The Wattsburg Plank Road runs
through the place and constitutes its main street. Besides the mills,
church and school above noted, Lowville contains the town house of Venango
-- a frame building 24 x 40 in size and 16 in height, built in 1872, at
cost of $675 -- one dry goods store, one general store, one grocery, one
wagon shop, one blacksmith shop, one shoe shop, and about thirty houses.
It has a lodge of the Knights of Honor, organized in 1877, with
twenty-nine members. The Lowville Cemetery, a tract of four acres, on the
bank of the creek, contains some costly monuments, is neatly laid out and
carefully kept, and a credit to the place. Several soldiers of the last
war with Great Britain are buried in the cemetery. Lowville owes its
origin to the enterprise of Samuel Low, who moved there in 1822 from
Genesee County, N. Y., and established the grist and saw mill. Mr. Low's
business proving unsuccessful, in 1834 he changed to Harbor Creek. Col.
Wareham Warner carried on a tannery at Lowville with success for some
years, but collapsed about 1860 or 1861. The village contained ninety-nine
inhabitants by the census of 1880.
founded by Gen. John Phillips, of political fame, who took up a large
quantity of land in 1797 in company with his brother David, and opened a
tavern about 1810 on the Waterford & North East road, a few rods west
of the corners, which has been torn down. The village is fourteen miles
from Erie and five from Wattsburg, in the midst of a beautiful rolling
country, at the crossing of the Waterford & North East road by the old
Erie & Wattsburg road. The village contains, in addition to the
church, school and mills before referred to, a dry goods and grocery
store, a shoe shop, and a blacksmith shop. It has about a dozen
residences, and numbers probably sixty people. There is an organization of
the State Police and a Grange, the latter possessing a hall of their own.
The cemetery covers two acres, and is fairly kept up.
a Native of the Township
interesting reminiscences were contributed to the Erie Observer of May,
1880, by James d. Phillips, of Union City, a son of one of the pioneers of
Phillips, with his sons John, David and Thomas, Jr., and his daughters
Elenor, Hannah and Polly, moved from Northumberland County, Penn., in the
year 1797. His daughter Elenor married John Hunter, Polly married Burrill
Tracy, and Hannah married Nathaniel Wilson. John Phillips took up 1,400
acres of land, Thomas, Sr., 200, and David 200 acres. Messrs. Yost,
Donaldson and others followed about the same period. James Phillips, son
of Thomas, Sr., and brother to John, David and Thomas, Jr., moved from
Lancaster County, Penn., in 1827. He left Waterford on the morning of the
1st day of June at sunrise, and cut the road most of the way to
Phillipsville, a distance of eight and a half miles, arriving at sunset.
James Phillips died in 1846 at the age of seventy-five years and eight
months. James D. Phillips, son of James Phillips, and grandson of Thomas,
Sr., is now the only living representative of the Phillips family in this
county. John Phillips was Paymaster General in the war of 1812, under Gen.
Harrison. He received his money, to pay off the army, in silver at
Pittsburgh, and carried it through the wilderness to Fort Meigs on pack
horses. He served for years as the first Representative of this county in
the State Legislature at Lancaster; afterward, he was appointed Canal
Commissioner of the State, and subsequently was appointed and served as
Justice of the Peace for several years. He died in the fall of 1846. The
first post office at Phillipsville was established in 1829. James
Phillips, father of James D., was appointed Postmaster. A post route was
established at that time from Jamestown, N. Y., via Phillipsville, to
Erie. The mail was carried by Mr. Polly on foot from Jamestown to Erie,
with nothing from Phillipsville to Mill Creek Township to mark the way
through the wilderness except blazed trees. The county at that time was a
home for the bear, the wolves and the deer. Levi Butler and sons Jackson
and Timothy, from Onondaga, N. Y., made their settlement in 1828-29. The
first schoolhouse was built in the year 1828, of logs. * * * The grist and
saw mills were at Lowville, Colt's Station, Lattimore's, at Waterford, and
Miles, at Union Mills. The mode of getting to Erie from Phillipsville was
via Bolt's Station, North East and then up the Buffalo road to Erie, a
distance of twenty-eight miles to get the distance of fourteen miles
across. Had no roads for wagons, and consequently used oxen and sleds in
the summer or winter to carry our produce and get household supplies,
salt, etc. The products of Venango Township at that time were maple sugar
and black salts -- the salts taken to Colt's Station and sold for $2.50
per hundred, half cash and half store pay; the cash part to pay taxes and
to buy leather for shoes. We paid our school teacher $12 a month in maple
sugar at six cents a pound."
The first clearing
at Wattsburg was made in 1796 by William Miles, who built a storehouse as
a depot of supplies for the surrounding country and for the purchase of
furs. At that time the headquarters of the Population Company were at
Colt's Station, and all the trade between the lake and the Allegheny was
carried on in canoes up and down French Creek. The first road was opened
to North East, by way of Greenfield, in 1800. In 1809, through the
persuasion of Mr. Miles, joined to that of the Russells, of Belle Valley,
and others, the county opened a road from Erie to the Forks of French
Creek, as the site was then called, which, in general, followed the route
of the old Wattsburg road, though it was afterward changed in some places.
Previous to 1822, the West Branch had to be forded, but in that yea Mr.
Miles got the county to build a bridge on the same site used for the
purpose to-day. This was the first permanent bridge erected in erie
County. During the same season he erected a grist mill and saw mill, and
in 1822 he induced Lyman Robinson, a surveyor at North East, to move over
and build a tavern. He located in 1795 on the head-waters of Oil Creek,
near the Crawford county line, in Concord Township, where he remained
until 1800, when he changed to Union. In 1828, Mr. Miles laid out
Wattsburg, naming it after his father-in-law, David Watts, of Carlisle. In
February of the same year, he had a post office established at Wattsburg,
and at the same time a weekly mail route was opened between Erie and
Jamestown, by way of the infant village. The mail was carried for years on
the back of a man, who walked the whole distance. Mr. Robinson acted as
agent at Wattsburg for William Miles for many years, and after his death
served in a similar capacity for his son James Miles. The large tract of
1,400 acres taken up by Mr. Miles was not originally in his own name, but
in that of Watts, Scott & Co.
incorporated as a borough in 1833, its limits being thus described:
"Beginning at French Creek where the old State line crossed the same,
being the south boundary of Venango Township; thence east along said line
100 perches; thence north 180 perches; thence west 180 perches, more or
less, to the creek; thence southward by its windings, to the place of
beginning." The town stands o the wide and fertile plain just above
the junction of the two branches, twenty miles by the plank road, eighteen
by the old road, and eighteen and three-fourths by the Lake Pleasant road
from Erie, and eight miles from Union. It contains three church buildings,
Methodist Episcopal, Presbyterian and Baptist. The Methodist Episcopal
congregation was organized in 1827, by Elder Knapp, who went there as a
missionary in 1820. The first edifice was erected in 1831, and the present
one, which cost $3,400, in 1861. H. H. Moore was pastor for 1881, 1882 and
1883. The circuit embraces Wattsburg, Lowville and Hatch Hollow.
congregation, organized in 1826, is the legitimate successor of the old
Middlebrook society, the history of which is given in the sketch of
Venango Township. The first church was built in Wattsburg about 1828, and
the second in 1855, costing $1,350. The pastor when the first building was
put up was Rev. Absalom McCready, who began preaching for this
congregation in february, 1826, and the following April his time was
divided between the two congregations. His installation took place on the
second Tuesday of September, and he severed his pastoral relation with the
church October 1, 1833. In November of that year the Wattsburg Church was
recognized by the Presbytery as a separate congregation. Rev. Alexander
McCandless became the successor of Mr. McCready and served until April 1,
1834. Revs. O. Fitch McKean, and J. B. Wilson preached for the
congregation at Wattsburg, in the order given, from 1834 to 1837.
The Baptist Church
at Wattsburg was organized April 6, 1850, with twenty-two charter members.
On the 25th of that month the church was fully recognized. The
meeting-house was erected in 1851. The pastors of the church have been
Revs. F. Kidder, J. W. C. Covey, James A. Newton, S. Akerly, W. J. Hughes,
and C. W. Drake (closed labor in1872 on account of sickness). In 1875, he
renewed his pastorate and remained with the church until 1877. For several
years following, the church had no regular pastor. Rev. Charles Bowman
became pastor in 1881 and remained about one year. The charge is now
without a pastor.
Wattsburg is the headquarters of no less than three secret societies
-- a Masonic Blue Lodge, instituted in 1875; a lodge of the Knights of
Honor, in 1877, and a Grange, in 1874 -- all of which are in a flourishing
condition. The Masonic Lodge commenced with seven members, C. R. Gray
being first Master, and has increased to twenty-eight. This society and
the Grange have creditable halls of their own. There is also a branch of
the State Police, established in 1877, a co-operative insurance society,
and a section of the Sunday School Scientific Circle of Chautauqua Lake,
which latter holds frequent meetings for the discussion of Biblical
history. The manufacturing establishments are a grist mill, saw mill, sash
factory and two planing mills run by water, a handle factory and a sash
and blind factory owned by Wood & Page, run by steam. There is also an
extensive broom and fork handle and shingle factory carried on by
Patterson, Gross & Baldwin. The water-power afforded by the two
branches of French Creek is considerable, and, with railroad facilities,
the town could not fail to become a point of importance.
Among the business
interests of the borough, other than those mentioned above, were (in 1883)
one tailor sop, one dry goods store, three groceries, four general stores,
two furniture stores, one wagon shop, one hardware store, one clothing
store, one meat market, one hotel, two shoe shops, four blacksmith shops,
one jewelry store, one drug store, one bakery, one photograph gallery, one
dental office, one harness shop, several millinery stores, one barber
shop. A roller skating rink was built and opened in the summer of 1883.
The town gives support to four physicians, two attorneys, two Justices,
one dentist, and one draughtsman. It is the headquarters of three state
lines -- one running to Union and back each day; one to and from Erie
daily, by of Phillipsville and Lowville; and one to North East twice a
week by way of Lowville and Greenfield. Wattsburg has been a famous butter
market for thirty years. "Wattsburg butter," which includes the
produce mainly of Amity, Venango and Greenfield, ranks as "Chautauqua
butter" in the New York market and brings the same price. The schools
are held in one large and substantial frame building. The population of
the borough was 286 in 1870, and 389 in 1880.
The assessment for
1883 gave the following results: Real estate, $65,675; cows, 29; value,
$850; horses and mules, 63; value,$4,085; personal property, $4,935;
trades and occupations, $8,025; money at interest, $9,915.
Before the era of
railroads, wattsburg was a place of more consequence, comparatively, than
now. It had a tract society in 1828, and an agricultural society in 1856.
The first temperance society in Erie County was organized in Wattsburg in
1828. In 1832, a project was agitated for a new county, to be called
Miles, with Wattsburg as the county seat.
The following State and
county officers have been residents of Wattsburg: Assembly, Lyman
Robinson, 1842 and 1845; Byron S. Hill, 1863 and 1864; Samuel F. chapin,
1875 to 1878; A. W. Hayes, 1881 to 1884. County Superintendent of Common
Schools, William H. Armstrong, 1854 to 1860, the first incumbent of the
office. County Commissioner, Lyman Robinson, 1839 to 1842. County
Treasurer, Newton T. Hume, December 14, 1874, to January 7, 1878. Director
of the Poor, O. J. McAllister, 1883 to 1886. Jury Commissioners, D. N.
Patterson, 1868 to 1871; Robert Leslie, 1874 to 1877. Mercantile
Appraisers, James T. Ensworth, 1856; D. N. Patterson, 1868 and 1878; O. J.
In the immediate
vicinity of the present large and commodious school building in the
borough in 1821 stood a schoolhouse, in which school was held by John
Brown. The schoolhouses of the borough have all been situated on almost
the same site. Among the teachers have been a Miss Roberts, Wm. H.
Armstrong, Lucius Chapin, David Shafer, Phineas Platt. The present schools
consist of three departments, which were graded by R. P. Holliday in 1878.
Mr. Holliday is still Principal of the schools, and has two assistant
teachers. The average enrollment is about 100 pupils.
The first newspaper
published in Wattsburg was an eight-page weekly styled the Chronicle,
begun in 1878 by W. A. Moore, and discontinued in about one year. In 1881,
the Wattsburg Occasional was started by R. P. Holliday. Mr.
Holliday was then Principal of the Wattsburg Schools, and the paper was
started as a kind of a school paper, devoting its columns principally to
school matters. As its name indicated, it was only published occasionally.
In 1882, it was made a semi-weekly, and subsequently a weekly paper. It is
still the village paper, and has not changed hands. The mechanical work is
executed at Union City.
Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner,
Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township