Township and Borough of Waterford
The township of
Waterford was established and received its name at the organization of
Erie County. It is the largest in the county, containing 29,516 acres. The
boundary lines are nearly the same as when the township was organized, the
only exceptions being a small district annexed from Washington, and
another from Summit. The latter is the jog or handle in the northwest,
embracing the Strong place, which has been at various times in McKean,
Greene and Summit, and was finally attached to Waterford through the
exertions of Capt. Martin Strong, who wished to close his life in the
township of his original residence in the county. Waterford is bounded on
the north by Summit and Greene; on the east by Amity and Union; on the
south by Le Boeuf and Washington, and on the west by Washington and
McKean. The greatest breadth of the township from north to south is five
and thee-fourths miles, and the greatest width from east to west nine and
one-half miles. Its population, as given in the United States census
report, was 579 in 1820, 1,006 in 1830, 1,144 in 1840, 1,545 in 1850,
1,950 in 1860, 1,884 in 1870, and 1,822 in 1880, these figures after 1830
being exclusive of Waterford Borough. The post office at the latter place
is the only one in the township. The assessment of 1883 gave the following
results: Value of real estate, $830,718; number of cows, 1,322; of oxen,
36; of horses and mules, 519; value of the same, $80,185; value of trades
and occupations, $18,800; money at interest, $13,838.
Lands of the
The best lands in Waterford Township lie below Lake Le Boeuf, along
its outlet, are level and very fertile, and have an average width between
the ridges of perhaps a mile and a half. Above the lake the flats range
from one to two miles in width, and the land is of a good quality, but a
great deal of it is swampy and unfit for cultivation at present, though
being gradually drained. Good valleys also exist along Benson, Boyd and
Trout Runs. The valley of French Creek becomes very narrow as it courses
through Waterford Township, not reaching more than half a mile in the
widest place. Every kind of fruit, grain and vegetable peculiar to our
climate can be raised on the flat lands, but they are seriously affected
by the frosts. Aside from the valleys here described, which embrace but a
small portion of the township, the balance of the land is hilly, though
almost every part is capable of cultivation. The hill farms have a clay
soil, and are more free from frosts than the valleys. Wheat is readily
raised on all of them, and fruits do better than within the valleys. The
hills rise in some places to a considerable height, the loftiest
elevations being at Strong's, in the northwest; I. Y. Lunger's in the
south; Robert Hood's, in the east, and at Oak Hill and Cottrell's Hill, in
the southeast. A good deal of timber is still left in the township. The
price of land ranges from $10 to $60 along the outlet, and from $25 to $50
in the balance of the township, being most valuable in the vicinity of the
The Tenth Donation
District commenced in Waterford Township about a mile east of the borough,
and extended across Amity and Wayne Townships to the Warren County line.
The Reserved Tract was a body of 1,800 acres in Waterford Township, and
400 in Le Boeuf, all lying south of the present borough, which was set
apart from the operation of the general settlement law for reasons
elsewhere given. A similar Reserve was withheld around Erie. An act was
passed in 1799 authorizing the land to be sold in lots of 100 acres each.
The first sale took place in 1800, and most of the tract was disposed of
In 1856, during the
construction of the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, a sind-hole was
encountered on the Benson farm, about a mile northeast of Waterford
Borough, which has ever since remained a subject of interest and argument.
Tamarack Swamp, in the northeastern part of the township, and extending
into McKean, is about two miles long by 100 rods wide. About two-thirds of
the swamp are in Waterford and the balance in McKean. The swamp will
ultimately be drained, and the land will be very productive.
Tax List in 1813
The following is a list of the tax payers in Waterford Township in the
year 1813: James Anderson, Nancy Alexander, Reuben Alexander, E. and D.
Alvord, Benjamin Avery, Benjamin Blythe, William Boyd, John Boyd, John M.
Baird, James Boyd, George Buehler, Richard Braden, Robert Brotherton,
Holbert Barnett, William Benson, Ichabod Brackett, Mathew Blair, James
Benson, William T. Codd, Isaac Craig, George Cochran, Judah Colt, James
Campbell, D. Collison, Henry Colt, John Clemmens, Jeremiah Curtis, William
Culbertson, Ebenezer Dwinnell, John Eagleson, Peter Ford, Philip Gregory,
Samuel Grimes, Carson Graham, John Greenwood, Walter How, Aaron Himrod,
Moses Himrod, Anor Hull, Isaac Hawley, Samuel Hewlings, John Henry,
Francis B. Holmes, Hugh Hamilton, Thomas Humphreys, William Hood, James
Hamilton, William Himrod, Samuel Jewet, Amos Judson, Thomas R. Kennedy,
Daniel King, Thomas King, William Knox, Thomas Layland, John Lattimore,
James Lattimore, John Lenox, John Lytle, Alex McElroy, David Middleton,
Francis Morrison, John McNair, David McNair, John Mullen, Israel Mullen,
John Mace, Charles Martin, James McDonald, Charles Martin, Jr., James
McKay, Naylor & Wilson, Joseph Osborn, James Oliver, Isaac Pherron,
Adam Pollock, David Phillips, Thomas Prentiss, Jabez Parker, Joseph
Reynolds, Rufus S. Reed, George W. Reed, Thomas Rees, James Ross, Jonathan
Stratton, William Simpson, Lemuel Stancliff, Martin Strong, Andrew
Simpson, Elizabeth Skinner, Wilson Smith, Russell Stancliff, Solomon
Snell, Levi Strong, Rufus Trask, Sr., Rufus Trask, Jr., James Thomas,
Samuel Trask, Turnpike Company, Robert Townley, Jr., Joshua Tilden, John
Tracy, William Vankirk, John Vincent, Eli Webster, Ellis William, Jacob
Watkins, Archibald Watson, Henry Woodworth.
The total tax
assessed in 1813 was $410.25, and the militia fines $384. Farm land was
assessed at from $1.50 to $2 per acre, inlots at $20 to $60 each and
outlots at $30 to $50 each.
Streams and Lake
The streams of
Waterford Township are French Creek, which flows through its southeast
corner for about three miles, from Amity to Le Boeuf; the outlet of Lake
Pleasant, which courses for about a mile through its northeast corner,
from Venango to Amity; and Le Boeuf Creek with its branches. Le Boeuf
Creek -- known to the French as the River aux Boeufs, and named by them
from the number of cattle discovered on the flats below Waterford -- runs
through the center of the township from Greene on the north to Le Boeuf
Township on the south, where it joins French Creek. It has two main
branches, one rising on the edge of Greene and Venango, and the other in
Summit, which unite near the Greene and Waterford boundary, almost at the
Philadelphia & Erie Railroad bridge. Just below Waterford Borough, the
creek enters Lake Le Boeuf, and after leaving it is generally known by the
title of "The Outlet." Its length in the township is not far
from ten miles, and its total length about twenty. Boyd Run and Trout Run
rise in the west being about five and the second about two miles in
length. Trout Run is formed by the junction of Black Run and Bagdad Run,
the one rising in Tamarack Swamp and the other in the extreme western part
of the township. They unite on the farm of Mrs. Phelps, west of the
borough. Benson Run starts on the M. Avery place, and after a course of
some two miles, falls into Le Boeuf Creek near Brotherton's Mill. Davis
Run empties into French Creek near the Newman Bridge, and Moravian Run
joins the same stream in Le Boeuf Township. The first stream rises near
the Colt Station road, and is about four miles long. The second has its
head in the Ormsbee settlement, and a length in Waterford of perhaps two
miles. The valleys of Benson Run and Moravian Run from the route by which
the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad crosses from Le Boeuf Creek to French
Creek. Lake Le Boeuf is about two-thirds of a mile long by half a mile
wide, with a picturesque island near its center. It receives Le Boeuf
Creek and Boyd and Trout Runs, and its outflow is apparently greater than
its inflow, from which it is surmised that the lake must be fed by springs
in the bottom.
The only railroad of Waterford is the Philadelphia & Erie, which
enters it from Greene by the valley of Le Boeuf Creek and passes across
the township from north to southeast into Le Boeuf. Its nearest approach
to Waterford Borough is at Waterford Station, a mile east. The leading
public roads are the old Erie & Waterford Turnpike, the Erie &
Waterford plank, the Colt's Station, the Waterford & Wattsburg, the
Flats road to Mill Village, the Waterford & Meadville pike, the old
State road to the Ohio line, the Edinboro & Waterford, the Waterford
& Meadville plank, the Waterford & McKean, the Waterford &
Union and the Station road from the borough to the railroad. Some of the
above-named roads were among the earliest that were opened in the county.
bridges are as follows: Over French Creek, the Newman covered bridge, on
the Wattsburg & Waterford road. Over Le Boeuf Creek, the Himrod
bridge, on the cross-road from Greene to the plank road; the Benson, near
the sink-hold; the Lattimore, on the Colt Station road; the two of the P.
& E. Railroad, one at the Greene line and the other near Waterford
Station; the Station, on the Station road; the Judson, on the Flats roads,
and the Outlet bridge on the Meadville pike. All of the above are wooden,
and all are open with the exception of the Newman and station bridges.
The mills and
factories are Davis' steam saw mill, on French Creek; Benson's steam saw
mill, on Le Boeuf Creek, near the sink-hole; Lattimore's water saw mill,
on Le Boeuf Creek, about a mile above the Station; a sulky hay rake
factory at the Station; Brotherton's saw mill and Hasting's tub and firkin
factory, about a quarter of a mile below the Station, both run by the same
race from Le Boeuf Creek; Judson & Hipple's steam and water grist mill
in the valley of Le Boeuf Creek, just outside the borough; Rice's
horse-power cider and jelly mill, at the foot of the lake; Himrod's steam
saw mill, between the plank road and Le Boeuf Creek, two miles north of
the borough; Harvey Boyd's and Julius Hull's water saw mills, on Boyd Run;
T. H. Marsh's steam saw mill, near the McKean line; a cheese factory at
Newman's bridge (started in the spring of 1881); and Hare's cider mill, on
The Free-Will Baptist Church at Newman's Bridge was organized in 1832
or 1833 by Rev. W. Stickney, but was subsequently allowed to go down. It
was re-organized in 1853 as a branch of the Bloomfield Church, by Rev. J.
Smith. Until the erection of the present house of worship, the
congregation held services in the neighborhood schoolhouses. The building
was erected in 1860, at a cost of $1,200, and was dedicated in December of
that year. Among the pastors of the congregation have been Revs. J. Smith,
A. Losee, C. C. Burch, -- Cutler and W. Parker, the latter being the
There is another
Free-Will Baptist Church in the township located in the northeastern part
thereof. The church edifice was erected in 1877, although the congregation
is nearly, if not quite, as old as the one above named and its history is
almost identical with it.
Episcopal Church at Sharp's Corners, was organized in 1838 or 1839, with
eight members, by Rev. L. D. Prosser. The first pastor was Rev. Russell
Stancliff. The church building was erected in 1868, costing $1,625. For
the past twenty0five or thirty years it has been an appointment on
congregation at Oak Hill was organized in 1854 by its first pastor, Rev.
Stephen Washburn, with a membership of seventeen. Its house of worship was
erected in 1861. Rev. Mr. Washburn and others preached for the
congregation for several years. For several years the congregation has
been without regular preaching.
The Catholic Church
at Waterford Station dates from the building of the church edifice in
1878. The congregation has been served by the pastors of the church at
Most of the burials
take place in the cemetery at Waterford Borough, although there are
graveyards at each of the above churches except the Catholic. The Walker
Graveyard is about a mile south of the Greene line. The Catholics
generally inter at Union.
One of the early schools of Waterford Township was held in a building
which stood near the present site of the residence of Webster Hunt. School
was here taught by Russell Stancliff (afterward a minister of the Gospel)
about the year 1806 or 1807. Michael Hare, a Revolutionary soldier, taught
a school in his house about the year 1827, the site of which is the J.
Bootz farm, in the southeastern part of the township. About the year 1827,
a schoolhouse was bu8ilt near the site of the present Hare Schoolhouse by
the neighborhood. Following is a list of the township schools of to-day:
Sharp, at Sharp's Corners; Strong, on turnpike, near Jason Way's; Himrod,
on plank road near Squire Whittellsey's; Bonnell, in the northeast, on
Wattsburg road; Lattimore at Lattimore's Corners; Sweatland, near West
Greene; Hood, near Gay's Corners, on the Wattsburg road; Middleton, in the
southeast, near George Middleton's; Hare, in the southeast, near J.
Bootz's; Avery, on Union road, in the southeast; Woodside, near Charles
Thompson's, on Meadville Turnpike; Davis, on plank road near Emanuel
Barnes'; Sedgwick, near Irvine Port's; Bagdad, at Bagdad Corners; Clute,
in the east, near George Austin's; Philps, in the west, near Charles
Fish's; Mahan, in the northeast, near Samuel Mahan's; East Waterford, at
the railroad station (a graded school). The township has an interest in
two union schools, as follows: The Flats School, just across the line in
Le Boeuf Township, and the McKean School, in McKean Township, near the
Waterford Station, or East Waterford, on the Philadelphia & Erie
Railroad, a mile east of the Diamond in the borough, and nineteen miles
from Erie City, consists of one station building, one hotel and grocery
combined, a sulky rake factory, a warehouse and ice house, a schoolhouse,
with graded school, a Catholic Church, about a dozen good dwellings and
nearly the same number of shanties for railroad employees. The railroad
company have stock yards at this point, and it is one of the most
important stations on the line for shipping cattle and produce. A great
many spikes, bullets, cannon balls and other instruments of war have been
found in the vicinity of the depot, where some of the soldiers were
encamped during the war of 1812.
The elections and
public business of the township are held in the borough in a building
which is owned by the latter and used by both as a town hall.
In the southeast
corner of the township, bordering on Le Boeuf, are three fine quarries of
sandstone, which have furnished some of the finest flagging in
When the French
entered Northwestern Pennsylvania, they found an Indian village where
Waterford now stands, traces of which remained some thirty-five years ago.
The first French explorers regarded Le Boeuf Creek as the main stream of
French Creek, and called both by the same title. At a subsequent period
they changed the name of the main stream to the river Venango, by which it
had been known to the Indians.
The French took
possession of the country in 1753, their purpose being to establish a
chain of forts between Niagara and New Orleans -- along the south shore of
Lake Erie, Le Boeuf Creek, French Creek, and the Allegheny, Ohio and
Mississippi Rivers. That season they built forts at Presque Isle and Le
Boeuf, now Erie and Waterford. They also cut a wagon road between the two
places, which is still known as the old French road. On the 11th of
December, the fort at Le Boeuf was visited by George Washington, then in
his twenty-second year, as a representative of the Colony of Virginia, to
protest against the French invasion of its territory. He remained until
the 16th of December, returning down the creeks and rivers by means of
canoes furnished him by the French
The French Fort
The French fort Le Boeuf is described in Washington's journal as
having been situated "on the West Fort of French Creek, near the
water, almost surrounded by the creek and a small branch of it, which
forms a kind of an island. Four houses comprised the sides; the bastions
were of poles driven into the ground, standing more than twelve feet above
it, and sharp at the top, with port holes cut for cannon and loop-holes
for small arms. Eight six-pounders were mounted on each bastion and one
four-pounder before the gate. In the bastions were a guard house, chapel,
surgeon's lodgings and commandant's private store." In a journal
written in November, 1758, Le Boeuf is represented as a strong stockaded
fort, but much out of repair, and occupied only by an officer, thirty
soldiers and a few hunting Indians.
The fort was
successfully in command, during the winter of 1753-54, of Marin, the
original leader of the expedition, and of Legardeur de St. Pierre, who was
killed on Lake George the next summer. In the spring of 1754. the French
moved southward and built Fort Venango, at the mouth of French Creek, and
Fort Duquesne, on the site of Pittsburgh. The French retreating,
possession of Forts Le Boeuf and Presque Isle was taken by Maj. Rogers,
with a force of English and Colonial troops, in 1760.
In 1763, by the eloquence and ability of the celebrated Pontiac, all
of the Indian tribes west of the Alleghanies were united in a grand
confederacy, whose purpose was to fall upon every English fort on the
frontier upon a given day, and sweep them and their occupants out of
existence. The plan was so far successful that by the middle of summer all
the forts were taken and burned except Niagara, Pitt, Bedford and Detroit.
Le Boeuf was assaulted on the 17th of June, and its block-house fired at
night. While the Indians were dancing around their camp fire in fiendish
glee, momentarily expecting the surrender of its garrison, the ensign in
command and his handful of men crept through a drain leading to the creek,
and hid themselves in the swamps until it was safe to venture across the
country. The fort at Presque Isle was taken on the 22d of June.
From the period last
referred to until 1796, the settlement of this section went on very
slowly, almost all of the white residents being hunters and traders with
the Indians. In 1785, David Watts and William Miles came on under the
auspices of the Commonwealth, to survey the Tenth Donation District,
returning to the East on the completion of their labors. A committee on
the part of the State was sent out in 1790 to explore the route from
French Creek to Erie, as a result of whose labors an appropriation of $400
was made by the Legislature in 1791 to improve that stream from Franklin
to Waterford, and a similar sum for building a road from Le Boeuf to
Presque Isle. The Pennsylvania Population Company was formed March 8,
1793, and immediately advertised an offer of 150 acres to each of the
first twenty families who would settle on French Creek, and of 100 acres
each to the next forty.
Beginning of the
April 8, 1794, an act was approved by the Governor to lay out towns at
Presque Isle, Le Boeuf and Venango, its principal object being to
establish a line of defensive posts for the frontier. William Irvine,
Andrew Ellicott and Albert Gallatin were appointed to prepare the plans,
and a part of their mission was to survey a road from Reading to Presque
Isle. State troops reached Le Boeuf in May, and built a second fort, where
they remained until the spring of 1795.
The American Fort Le
Boeuf consisted of four block-houses surrounded by pickets, with a six-pounder
on the second floor of each building, and a swivel over each gate. The
exact site of the American fort is a matter of some dispute, one authority
fixing it on the spot occupied by the old French fort, while some of the
older citizens of Waterford contend that it was a little to one side, on
the west edge of High street, south of the Eagle Hotel.
While the troops
were delayed at Le Boeuf in 1794, Mr. Ellicott, one of the Commissioners,
laid out a town at that place, to which the name of Waterford was given.
This was nearly a year previous to the laying out of Erie by the same
gentleman. The plan made by Mr. Ellicott was confirmed by the Legislature
in 1795. On the 25th of July, 1796, a sale was advertised to commence in
Philadelphia of lots in Erie, Waterford, Warren and Franklin. During the
same year, Ellicott located the Susquehanna and Waterford Turnpike, from
Curwensville, Clearfield County, to Lake Le Boeuf, by way of Franklin and
Meadville. April 10, 1799, an act was passed appropriating 45,000 to open
a road from near the Bald Eagle's Nest, in Mifflin County, to Waterford.
The following prices
were paid by the Harrisburg & Presque Isle Company for lots in
Waterford, at the public sale held by the State Agents in Carlisle on the
3d and 4th of August, 1796:
August 23, 1800,
James Naylor was appointed Commissioner for the sale of lands in
Waterford, in place of D. McNair, resigned. February 16, 1805, John
Vincent succeeded Naylor, who had died. He gave bonds in the sum of $5,000
to perform the duties of the office faithfully. Charles Martin was
appointed in the place of Mr. Vincent, on the 29th of March, 1809.
Immediately upon the announcement of peace with the Indians some of
the soldiers concluded to settle in or near Waterford, and emigration
began to flow in from the Eastern counties and New England. Lieut. Martin,
commander of the post, was among those who became permanent residents, as
well as James Naylor, one of the State Commissioners. The former opened
the first tavern on the site of William C. Smith's tanyard, and the latter
the first store. Capt. Martin Strong came on from Hartford County, Conn.,
in the spring of 1795, and eventually located on the crest of the ridge
north of Waterford, 850 feet above Lake Erie, where he remained until is
death in 1858. He was a surveyor and laid out a good share of the farms
and roads in Waterford, McKean, Summit and Greene Townships. Amos Judson
migrated from New England in the same year and started a store. He and
Col. Seth Reed came up Lake Erie together in a small coasting boat. The
arrival of other settlers was as follows: In 1796, John Lytle, from
Northumberland County; Robert Brotherton, from Franklin County; John
Lennox and Thomas Skinner; in 1797, John Vincent, from Northumberland
County, and Wilson Smith, from Union County, both of whom walked the whole
distance from Pittsburgh; in 1798, Aaron Himrod and the Lattimores; in
1801-02, Capt. John Tracy, William Boyd, Sr., and son David, John and
James Boyd, with their three sisters, and James Anderson; in 1804 or 1805,
James and William Benson; in 1809, Eliachim Cook, who had previously
settled in McKean Township; in 1799 or earlier, George W. Reed; in 1812,
John Henry and Levi Strong; in 1813, the McKays; in 1814, Simeon Hunt; in
1816, William Smith, William Vincent and Judge Hutchins; in 1822, I. M.
White; in 1824, Seth and Timothy Judson; in 1826, Daniel Vincent. The
Boyds and Mr. Anderson were from Northumberland County; Mr. Hunt was from
Orange County, Vt.; William Smith and wife came over from Wayne Township;
Mr. White is a native of Windham County, Vt., and the Judsons were from
Connecticut. Most of those place of nativity are not given hailed either
from the Susquehanna Valley or the New England States. In 1815, Rev. John
Matthews, Dr. William Bacon, Henry Woodworth, Henry Colt, John Way and
Archibald Watson were residents of the village, but the precise date of
their arrival cannot be given. Dr. Ira Barton, though one of the most
venerable citizens, did not settle in Waterford until 1840. Mrs. Smith,
wife of William Smith, is worthy of mention as having attained to the
fourth greatest age of any woman of whom a record has been preserved in
the county. After the loss of her husband, she returned to Wayne Township,
were she expired in the summer of 1875, at the rare age of ninety-nine.
John Vincent settled first on a small stream which flows into French Creek
in the eastern portion of the township, where he remained two years before
becoming a resident of the village. On the completion of the turnpike, he
took charge of the toll gate about a mile above Waterford, and afterward
went into the salt trade, which made him wealthy.
The first death was that of a boy named Rutledge, who died of wounds
received in the Indian troubles in 1795, and was buried just outside the
fort. The first white child was John R., son of William Black, who was
born in Fort Le Boeuf, August 8, 1795. The second birth was that of
Katharine, daughter of Aaron Himrod and wife, in 1799. Robert Brotherton
built the first saw mill in 1797, and the first grist mill in 1802, on the
site of the present Brotherton Mill, near Waterford Station. He also kept
a tavern from 1815 to 1817, on the lot occupied by his son's residence,
the old building, which is still standing, being moved back when the new
one was put up. This tavern was also conducted for a time by Mrs. Hannah
Pym. The second saw mill was set in operation by James Boyd on Boyd's Run,
west of the borough. Mr. Lattimore started a mill soon after Boyd's, the
date of both having been very early. After Martin left his tavern, it was
kept by Wilson Smith. George W. Reed opened a tavern in 1810, on Union
street, in the rear of Judson's block, which burned down. Thomas King, who
had kept a public house opposite Dr. Judson's residence, corner of First
and Walnut streets, commenced building the stone hotel in 1826, and opened
it in the winter of 1827. On the discontinuance of Naylor's store, Stephen
Wolverton was sent over from Erie by R. S. Reed with a stock of goods, and
remained in business in the village for several years.
Capt. John Lytle, father of John Lytle, Jr., who rose to be prominent
among the early settlers, was commander of Fort Freeland, on the West
Branch of the Susquehanna, in 1779. It was attacked by a body of British
and Indians, and capitulated on the 30th of June of that year, among the
prisoners taken being Capt. Lytle, William Miles and four of the Vincents.
They were marched through the dense wilderness to Fort Niagara, in Canada,
where they were detained until the acknowledgment of our National
Independence by the British Government. During the long absence of Capt.
Lytle, his wife remained on the farm with her children, employing an
unmarried man to do the work. In course of time this person made proposals
of marriage to Mrs. Lytle, which she firmly rejected. Determined to effect
his object, the young man put letters in circulation, stating that the
Captain was dead, and the unhappy woman became so well convinced of the
truth of the report that she married the assiduous lover. On the Captain's
return, he was so shocked and mortified to learn of what had happened that
for awhile he refused to see his wife, but mutual friends having
acquainted him with the facts, he was reconciled to her, took her again to
his bosom and the miserable deluder was compelled to fly beyond the reach
of the law. His son John was the originator of the Erie & Waterford
Turnpike Company, a member of the Legislature, and for years one of the
leading men of the county. The latter was killed by the running away of
his horse in February, 1816.
The Boating Trade
For many years after the country began to settle, most of the supplies
of iron, glass, flour, bacon, whisky, etc., came from Pittsburgh, and
nearly all of the freight was carried on boats poled up and down the
Allegheny, French Creek and LeBoeuf Creek. The flat-boats were roughly
built, and averaged about fifteen feet in width by seventy-five in length.
They were sold at Pittsburgh, loaded with coal, floated down to Southern
ports, and broken up for fire wood after reaching their destination. It
required about three weeks to make the trip from Waterford to Pittsburgh
and return. The keel-boats were of better construction, and were used for
bringing freight up as well as carrying them down the streams, their
propelling power being poles pushed by the crews.
The most important
trade in the early days was the shipping of salt for the Southern markets.
This indispensable article was brought to Erie from Onondaga, N. Y.,
hauled by teams to Waterford, deposited in warehouses there, and floated
down the streams whenever they were in suitable condition. The trade began
about 1812, and the last load was taken to Pittsburgh in 1819. The village
being without a church edifice, all religious services in those days were
held in one of the warehouses.
During the second
war with Great Britain, Waterford was a busy place, most of the supplies
for the army and navy being brought there by boats, and then hauled across
the country to Erie. A brigade of Pennsylvania troops was organized on the
farm of John Lytle, at the P. & E. Railroad depot, in 1812, under the
command of Gen. Tannehill, of Pittsburgh, and ordered to Buffalo, where it
remained during the ensuing winter.
La Fayette's visit,
on his return to this country in 1825, was one of the most memorable
incidents in the history of Waterford. He was accompanied by his son, a
companion and a servant, on their way from Pittsburgh to Erie. The
nation's distinguished guest arrived on the 2d of June, and remained over
night at the hotel of George W. Reed, which stood just east of the Judson
Block, on First street.
In 1815, a "Moral Society was organized, to aid the members and
"strengthen the hands of the magistrates in the suppression of vice
and immorality." In 1846, a lodge of Odd Fellows, the first secret
society, was established. In the same year, the town sent liberal
donations for the relief of Ireland, and in 1861 the sum of $150 was
forwarded to the Kansas sufferers. In 1859, a Literary society was in
existence, which maintained a course of lectures. In 1868, the Masonic
society was instituted. The Erie & Waterford Plank Road was completed
in 1851, and the Waterford & Meadville about 1852. In 1856, grading
for the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad commenced, and it was opened to
Warren in 1859. To Capt. M. Strong, of Waterford, was awarded the
distinction of breaking ground for the canal at Erie, on the 4th of July,
1838. The first postal facilities would seem to have been granted to the
town about 1801. From then to 1823, a mail was carried between Pittsburgh
and Erie once a week each direction, in the beginning on horseback and
after the war by hack. In 1826, stages ran through the place three times a
week, each way, carrying the mails. The number was increased to a daily
state and mail from both ends of the line, which lasted until the
completion of the railroad.
Waterford was incorporated as a borough April 8, 1833, and the first
officers were elected in March, 1834, as follows: Burgess, Amos Judson;
Council, John Boyd, Henry Colt, William Benson, John Tracy, Isaac M.
White, Wilson King; Clerk and Treasurer, B. B. Vincent; High Constable
Charles C. Boyd; Overseers of the Poor, Samuel Hutchins, Daniel Vincent.
The town was laid out on the same plan as Erie, with broad streets running
at right angles, and a park or diamond of some five acres near the center.
The borough covers about five hundred acres, and contained a population of
403 in 1840, 498 in 1850, 900 in 1860, 790 in 1870, and 781 in 1880. It is
fourteen miles south of Erie by the plank road, and nineteen and a half by
railroad, calling the distance one-half mile from the Philadelphia &
Erie depot. The site is a flat table-land overlooking Le Boeuf Lake and
the valley of the creek, being one of the healthiest and pleasantest
locations in the interior of the county. The town lies in a sort of a huge
bowl, with high hills, cultivated to their summits on every side except in
the direction of the outlet. The nearest railroad point is Waterford
Station, a mile distant, on the Philadelphia & Erie. The town started
along the creek, and for a considerable period, in the consequence of the
boating business, Water street was its principal avenue. From there it
worked back to First street, which contained all the stores and two or
three taverns. At that date High street, now the business thoroughfare,
was nothing more than a common road. In laying out the streets, all were
made sixty feet wide except High, Third and Water, which have a width of
100 feet. There was no church edifice until 1832, although several
denominations had been organized, and worship was held either in the
schoolhouse, one of the warehouses, or in the academy. The first school
building was a log structure on Walnut street, between Sixth and Seventh,
and the second stood on High street about the center of the Diamond. The
house was moved in 1836, when the common school system was adopted by the
county, and is now occupied as Douglass' stable. In this building, in the
winter of 1820-21, school was taught by Buell Barnes. E. D. Gunnison, John
Kelly, Samuel McGill and Warren McGill were early teachers in the same.
About the winter of 1816-17, school was taught in the dwelling of Joseph
Osborne by a Mr. Vaugh. The first building for free school purposes was
placed on a corner of the academy lot and removed in 1840. Four schools
are maintained in the village now, all in one large edifice, in which
there are three apartments, and three teachers are employed. Among the
early stores not mentioned before were those of Holmes & Harricott,
Samuel Hutchins and Hart & Thompson. The original houses of the town
have mostly passed away. The oldest known to be in existence is the one
occupied by Judge John Vincent until his death in 1860.
At the sale of reserved lands in 1800, 500 acres were set apart by the
State near Waterford, Erie, Franklin and Warren for the benefit of schools
and academies in the several places. The Waterford Academy was
incorporated in 1811, and besides the above named 500 acres, embracing the
flats at the mouth of Le Boeuf Creek, was endowed with fifteen inlots, to
which eight others were added in 1821. The first Trustees appointed by the
Legislature were John Vincent, John Boyd, John Lytle, Aaron Himrod,
Charles Martin, Henry Colt and James Judson. The latter gentleman was
elected Treasurer, and held the post until December 31, 1858. On the 24th
of February, 1820, an act passed empowering the Trustees to sell the 500
acres of the reserved tract at not less than $10 per acre, and to invest
the proceeds in some productive fund for the compensation of teachers. The
old stone building was completed in 1822, the same year as the Academy in
Erie, and the first school was opened in 1826, John Wood acting as
Principal. A brick addition was added about 1859, and a boarding-house
some ten years later. The time was when Waterford Academy was the most
famous and prosperous institution of learning in the county, numbering as
high as 400 pupils and employing the best talent for teachers. Many of the
prominent men of the county received their education within its walls, and
its graduates are to be found in nearly every State in the Union. It
declined soon after the opening of the Normal School at Edinboro, and has
had a checkered career for the last ten years.
The old cemetery at the southwest corner of Second and West streets
was the only one in the borough until 1840, when the first part of the
present cemetery was laid out by William Benson, Sr., under the auspices
of the borough, containing one and a quarter acres. The first burial in
the latter was that of a child of Dr. Banning, in December, 1840. This
section became completely filled up, and more ground being necessary the
borough in 1865 deeded the property to the Waterford Cemetery company, who
have increased it to eleven acres, at a cost of about $1,000 for the land.
A part of the addition was laid out by Judge William Benson in 1865, and
the balance by John H. Millar in 1875. The cemetery occupies dry, gravelly
ground, on the side of the borough toward the depot, is well laid out, and
contains numerous costly monuments. Within the cemetery plat, in a full
lot appropriated for the purpose by the company, lie the bones of Michael
Hare, the oldest man who ever lived in Erie County and perhaps in
Pennsylvania. He was born in Ireland on the 10th of June, 1727, and died
in Waterford, after a long residence there, on May 3, 1843, at the almost
incredible age of one hundred and fifteen years eight months and
twenty-two days. Mr. Hare served in the French wars, was present at
Braddock's defeat, fought all through the Revolution, and wound up his
military career by taking part in St. Clair's expedition against the
Western Indians. At St. Clair's defeat, he was left on the field for dead
and lost his scalp, which did not seem to cause him much inconvenience in
after years. Mr. Hare was one of the first settlers of Wayne Township,
from which he moved to Waterford. Besides Mr. Hare, two other
Revolutionary soldiers are buried at Waterford -- Capt. John Lytle and
Neil McKay -- and five soldiers of the last war with Great Britain -- M.
Himrod, H. Colt, James McKay, J. Benson and J. Lenox.
The enlistments from
Waterford in the last was were probably not exceeded in number by any
community of equal size, and there are few of its families who did not
mourn the loss of one or more near relatives in that bloody struggle.
There were buried in the cemetery in 1874: Capt. R. Cross, J. H. Smith, S.
S. Himrod, J. W. Hunter, G. W. Benson, C. Graff, W. H. H. Skinner, L.
Avery, T. M. Mitchell, P. Fretwell, R. Robertson, J. Atchison, M. Brink,
J. H. Miller, J. McKinley, G. Kibbe, G. Cornish -- 17. Buried on the field
of battle: J. A. Phenix, R. R. Smith, G. D. Judson, J. F. Rice, J. Lunger,
W. B. Wright, A. C. Henry, F. M. Hull, A. B. Hull, R. Wilson, S. Demington,
R. Middleton, I. Bowen, E. Sedgwick, L. Benson, R. Tollman, H. C. Brown,
O. J. Taylor, J. H. Taylor, J. W. Babcock, S. W. Hare, M. D. Burrows, H.
Porter, B. Hood, S. E. Fish, J. D. Fish, W. Phelps, J. J. Briggs, T. H.
Briggs, C. Comer, A. Hough, L. Gray, D. Davis, E. Oldfield, Capt. A.
Walker, J. V. Walker, P. Porter and O. Gray -- 33.
Waterford has four church edifices, viz.: Presbyterian, Episcopal,
United Presbyterian and Methodist Episcopal. The first Presbyterian
congregation was organized in 1809, with Rev. John Mathews as first
pastor, and William Bracken, John Lytle and Archibald Watson as the first
Trustees. One of the most active men in the organization was Ebenezer
Graham. Mr. Mathews was settled regularly as pastor of the Waterford and
Gravel Run (Crawford County) congregations on October 17, 1810, and
remained pastor until April 2, 1817. In 1818-19, Rev. Phineas Camp, a
Presbyterian missionary, employed to visit the various settlements of the
county, preached with such acceptance that a number of converts were made,
and established the real foundation of the congregation. It was without a
building until 1834, when the one still occupied was erected at a cost of
$5,000. From 1817 until 1828, it had only transient and occasional
supplies, among whom were Rev. Judah Ely in 1823; Rev. Johnston Eaton came
next, preaching monthly for about one year; and Revs. Bradford, Marcy and
Samuel Tait at various times until 1828. As stated supply, in February,
1828, came Rev. Peter Hassinger, who remained until March, 1832. From
February, 1833, to November of the same year, the congregation was served
by Rev. B. J. Wallace, and from that time to May, 1834, Rev. J. Watson
preached. Since this period, the pastors of the church have been as
follows: Pierce Chamberlain, G. W. Cleveland (S. S.), Charles F. Diver, T.
J. Bradford, J. K. Black, T. H. Delamater (S. S.), M. D. A. Steen (S. S.),
S. Bryan (S. S.), and M. Wishart, present pastor.
Presbyterian Church at Waterford dates back to October, 1812, on the 21st
of which month Rev. Robert Reid was installed pastor of the United
Presbyterian congregations at Erie and Waterford. At this period, the
Waterford membership consisted of fourteen persons. The first communion
services were held in the year 1816, in the storehouse of Thomas King,
which stood near the bank of LeBoeuf Creek. Mr. Reid remained pastor of
the two congregations until June 30, 1841. The early services of this
church, as well as other religious societies of Waterford, were held in
the warehouses along the banks of the creek, in old Fort LeBoeuf, in the
old schoolhouse that stood in what is now the park, and later in the
Academy building erected in 1822. The church edifice was erected in 1835,
but not completed until 1838. It was enlarged in 1859 and greatly improved
at a cost of $1,200, and again in 1868 repairs were made and a spire and
belfry added at a cost of $2,100. Mr. Reid's successor to the pastorate
was Rev. John J. Findley, and following him at intervals were Revs. Thomas
Love, H. P. Jackson, and P. W. Free, present pastor. The founders of the
congregation were William Smith, Robert Kincaid and William Carson.
Episcopal Church may date its origin to February, 1827, when the first
service of this denomination was held at Waterford, in the Academy, on a
week-day evening, by Rev. Charles Smith and Rev. B. Hutchins. The next
summer occasional services were held by the same clergymen, and by the
Rev. B. Glover, of Erie, who gave this people one-fourth of his time in
1828. In 1831, the congregation resolved to build a church, and the
corner-stone was laid that fall. The building was consecrated to the
worship of God November 13, 1832, by Bishop Onderdonk. In 1871-72, the
building was renovated, and now constitutes the house of worship. The
following were the first Vestrymen: Dr. M. B. Bradley, Timothy Judson,
Amos Judson, Martin Strong, John Vincent, James Pollock and John Tracy.
The rectors of the parish have been Revs. G. Glover, Samuel T. Lord,
Tobias Harper Mitchell, M. D. Richard Smith, John Ireland, S. B. Moore,
John A. Davis, S. D. McConnel, Samuel J. French, To. O. Tongue, E. D.
Irvine, Thomas White, W. H. Roberts, and again the present incumbent Rev.
E. D. Irvine.
Episcopal congregation was not regularly organized until 1835, though
occasional services had been held from as long back as 1814. The meeting
place for some years was in an old building removed from near the Eagle
Hotel to the corner of High and Sixth streets. The present structure was
built in 1854. The pastors of the congregation were, in 1849, H. Jull and
E. T. Wheeler, and the present pastor is J. F. Stocker.
State and County
Up to thirty years ago, Waterford shared equally with Erie in
political influence, and there is hardly a position within the gift of the
people of the county that has not been filled by one or more of its
citizens, as the following list shows: Quartermaster General, Wilson
Smith, 1812; Presidential Electors, John Boyd, 1824; Wilson Smith, 1832;
Charles C. Boyd, 1872. State Senate, Wilson Smith, 1809 to 1812. Assembly,
John Lytle, 1802 to 1805; Wilson Smith, 1806 to 1808 and 1819-20; Samuel
Hutchins, 1838 and 1839; David Himrod, 1857; O. S. Woodward, 1865 and
1866. Associate Judges, John Vincent, December 23, 1805, to March 26,
1840; Samuel Hutchins, November 12, 1856, to November 23, 1861; William
Benson, November 8, 1866, to November 8, 1872. Sheriffs, Wilson Smith,
1803 to 1805; Thomas B. Vincent, November 2, 1852, to October 28, 1855;
John L. Hyner, October 24, 1873, to January 1, 1877; H. C. Stafford,
January 1, 1880, to January 1, 1883. Prothonotary, E. L. Whittelsey,
November 22, 1869, to December 28, 1875. Register and Recorder, Reuben J.
Sibley, November 25, 1848, to November 22, 1851. Coroner, M. S. Vincent,
1872 to 1875. County Commissioners, John Vincent, 1803 to 1804; John Boyd,
1807 to 1810; Henry Colt, 1822 to 1825; William Benson, Sr., 1826 to 1828;
Flavel Boyd, 1854 to 1857; Charles C. Boyd, 1863 to 1866. Directors of the
Poor, James Benson, 1840 to 1841; James Anderson, 1843 to 1846; George
Fritts, 1849 to 1852. County Surveyors, Wilson Smith, 1800 to 1801; Wilson
King, 1827 to 1833; William Benson, Jr., 1854 to 1863. County Auditors,
Charles Martin, 1810; John Lytle, 1813 to 1816; Amos Judson, 1814 to 1817;
James M. McKay, 1825 to 1828; Martin Strong, 1826 to 1829; William Benson,
1835 to 1838; Simeon Hunt, 1845 to 1846; Flavel Boyd, 1850 to 1853.
Mercantile Appraisers, S. B. Benson, 1852 and 1861; J. P. Vincent, 1857;
C. W. S. Anderson, 1863; H. R. Whittelsey, 1866; James R. Taylor, 1869.
Thomas Wilson, Congressman from 1813 to 1816, had been a resident of
Waterford, where he married Miss Naylor, but removed to Erie in 1805, and
was living there when elected. Other citizens of Erie chosen to public
positions, who were natives of Waterford Borough or Township, are: John P.
Vincent, Additional Law Judge from December, 1866, to April 17, 1874, and
President Judge from the latter date to January, 1877; James Skinner,
State Senator from 1852 to 1855, and Prothonotary from November, 1857, to
November, 1863; Alfred King, Prothonotary from November, 1854, to the same
month in 1857; and John A. Tracy, County Treasurer from 1835 to 1838.
Among professional and business men, her contribution to Erie includes
William Benson, John Clemens, A. H. Gray, F. F. Adams, F. F. Farrar, Dr.
P. Hall, Irvin Camp, B. B. Vincent, William Himrod, T. B. Vincent, dr. L.
Strong, O. S. Woodward, and others whose names cannot now be recalled. She
has given to the city two Mayors - - F. F. Farrar and Alfred King. Sheriff
Vincent became a resident of Erie on the expiration of his term of office.
George W. Reed came over from Erie and built the United States Hotel, at
the corner of French and Second streets, which was once the most famous in
the city. Mr. Tracy's career in Erie began as a clerk for Reed &
Sanford in 1816. He was the father of John F. Tracy, deceased, and
father-in-law of William L. Scott, two of the most conspicuous railroad
men in the country.
The following is a complete list of the Postmasters of the borough,
with year of their commission: Charles Martin, 1801; Samuel Hutchins,
1819; Joseph Derrickson, 1829; John Marvin, 1831; Henry Colt, 1840; Joseph
L. Cook, 1841; Timothy Judson, 1844; John Curtis, 1847; Thomas B. Vincent,
1849; Hugh H. Whitney, 1852; Henry Colt, 1853; John Lytle, 1861; William
Vincent, 1861; Andrew W. Tracy, 1865; William O. Colt, 1868; James P.
Vincent, 1869; Sarah H. Vincent, 1875.
In 1851, Joseph S. M. Young started the Waterford Dispatch,
which attained to a wide circulation by its sympathy with the
"Rippers" in the railroad war. He removed it to Erie in 1856,
and it became the basis of the present extensive Erie Dispatch
establishment. B. F. H. Lynn, who rose to distinction as an Erie
publisher, was employed by Mr. Young in Waterford, and came over with the
office. Not long after the change, Mr. Lewis, who was printing the
Edinboro Museum, went to Waterford with his office, and printed a
paper for a short time, In 1857, it fell into the hands of Amos Judson,
who changed the name to the Enquirer. That paper suspended for a
few months in 1858, but was recommenced by Judson & Lynn, who were
succeeded by C. R. H. Lynn, under whose administration it went out of
existence. The borough was without a paper till May 7, 1874, when L. B.
Thompson established the Waterford Enterprise. Not proving as
successful as he anticipated, the office was moved to Union City in
February, 1875. Dr. D. P. Robbins started the Waterford Astonisher
on the 26th of January, 1878, and continued his connection with the same
until December 16 of that year, when A. F. Moses took charge, changed the
astonishing name to the Waterford Leader, and continued its
publication until April 1, 1883, when it was purchased by W. G. Lefevre.
In his hands it is meeting with a fair share of business, and has become a
The manufacturing establishments of the borough consist of D. P.
Fritts' cheese factory (opened May 10, 1870), now operated by E. M.
Thurber; Boland's tannery; A. D. Johnson's boot and shoe factory; Wheeler
& Dewey's grist, saw and lath mill and planing factory; Howe &
Son's and George G. Taylor's carriage and wagon factories; O. H.
Woodward's marble works; James A. Boyd's carpenter and joiner shop;
William C. Lowell's cooper shop. Halsey & McKay's and Bradish &
Smith's, H. Hovis', Ira Skiff's Taylor's and Howe's blacksmith shops. Of
secret societies, there are the Masons, United Workmen, State Police,
Patrons of Husbandry and Mutual Protective Association. The borough boasts
five halls -- McKay's, Phelp's, Keystone, Masonic and Workmen's. Most of
the buildings in the borough are frame, but there are several good brick
The largest fire with which Waterford has been afflicted occurred on
the 5th of March, 1865, sweeping away the whole of the west side of High
street from Second alley to Judson's store, and running north from Second
alley and one-half the block. The next largest happened on the last day of
December, 1873, destroying the Union hotel, a large three-story building,
and two other structures. The Miles Barnett Tannery has been burned down
twice. Quite extensive fires took place o the nights of February 4, 1881,
and February 22, 1883. The first destroyed the buildings belonging to A.
M. Carson, the heirs of David Boyd, T. W. Whitney, J. W. Willard and the
heirs of A. Oliver, the second, A. M. Carson's store, P. C. Sedgwick's
meat market, and Hiram Howland's grocery. A fire in the winter of 1883-84
burned down Wheeler & Dewey's grist, saw and lath mill, and planing
Isaac M. White,
Treasurer and Clerk of the borough, has held those positions for
thirty-nine consecutive years. The town hall of the borough is in a
two-story frame building, the lower story being used for and engine house
and lock-up, and the upper story for Council meetings. The township and
borough both hold elections in the building. In 1834, the official
valuation of property in the borough was $29,464, and the assessment of
taxes summed up $147.52. In 1883, the assessments gave the following
result: Value of real estate, $246,508; number of cows, sixty-six; of
horses and miles, ninety-two; value of same, $8,030; value of trades and
occupations, 437,625; money at interest, $55,825. Waterford has always
been noted for the number of its aged lady residents. Mrs. Phelps was
ninety-five years old when she died in August, 1879; Mrs. Henry Colt died
on the 30th of March, 1881, aged eighty-seven years eleven months and
twenty-two days. David Himrod was at one period among the prominent iron
men of the United States. He removed to Erie in 1826, and was an active
business man in that city for many hears.
Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner,
Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter II, pp.