Erie County (PA) Genealogy
Fun facts, trivia, and odds and ends that do not fit anywhere else
originally contributed by Dee Davidson
Send Bill Klauk your fun facts, trivia and odds and ends about Erie County to be placed here
History should be fun also; here is a bit;
Erie means 'raccoon.' The Erie tribe is sometimes referred to as the Cat Nation, the raccoon being a wild cat that appears as the main figure on the Erie totem pole. Early French maps of North America refer to Lake Erie as Lac du Chat - "The Lake of the Cat."
Eriez Nation: The first users of the inland waters of the peninsula were the Eriez Nation. Also known as the "Cat Nation," the Eriez inhabited the Lake Erie shoreline giving Lake Erie and them city of Erie its name. The Eriez were defeated by the Iroquois in 1654. The Legend of the Sheltering Arm of the Great Spirit tells the story of how the Eriez planted their roots on the peninsula. As the legend goes, the Great Spirit led the tribe to the peninsula because of the abundance of game that would feed and clothe, the pure water, and the cool, health-giving reezes "coming from the land of snow and ice:" "This is the place, my children, which your father, the Great Spirit has chosen for the site of your villages."
Did you know General "Mad" Anthony WAYNE is buried both in Erie Co PA and in Radnor, Pennsylvania? General Anthony Wayne was headed back to Pittsburgh in December of 1796 and became ill. He died in the Erie Blockhouse and was buried beneath the flagpole. Thus ended a career that spanned 21 years of service to the United States. A stranger twist of the Wayne tale took place in 1809 when his son (*Isaac)came to Erie to take his father's remains to Philadelphia. When Wayne was exhumed, he was perfectly preserved. Isaac Wayne had a doctor deal with the problem. Unknown to him, the doctor boiled the flesh off the bones in a cauldron and re-interred the flesh at the blockhouse. He then gave the bones to Isaac to take back to St. David's Church in Radnor, Pennsylvania. A public ceremony was held at the grave on July 4, 1809, with many famous people in attendance. LaFayette himself sent a sword to be buried with Wayne. The note said, "Mon Ami, the boy...". The cauldron that he was boiled in is proudly displayed at the local historical society in Erie. Thus even in death, Wayne was an enigma. He has the illustrious title of being the only American General buried in two places.
Did you know?
There are three covered bridges in Erie County dating back to the 19th Century, A fourth one burned recently, and may be rebuilt:
Gudgeonville Bridge: Probably the most picturesque and best known area covered bridge crosses Elk Creek just south of Girard in western Erie County. It has possibly the strangest history of any bridge in the world. There probably isn't one person in a thousand who knows that Gudgeonville got its name from a mule. About 1855 there was a man named Obadiah Will, a Kentuckian, who was delivering a mule named Gudgeon to somebody in Meadville. He stayed overnight in Girard at the old Martin House. When he left the next morning he was told to follow the road just west of Elk Creek on through Cranesville, which would take him right to Meadville. A couple of miles south, he got off on another road which took him to Gudgeonville. (At that time, the settlement had no name.) It was only a short distance from the distance from the covered bridge which spans Elk Creek to the old Beaver and Erie Canal, which was abandoned in 1871. Just as Mr. Will and the mule got on the bridge, a couple of canal boats came up from the south. They carried a circus, and one of the boats was a calliope. The man who operated the calliope began to play a tune -- My Old Kentucky Home. Picking up his ears at the weird sound, the animal dug its front hoofs into some planks of the bridge and dropped dead in its tracks. The story was that the mule had been off its feed for several days -- lonesome for Kentucky, I suppose. Mr. Will was given permission to bury the mule on the west bank of the creek, and he marked the spot with a large stone. He hired a painter to go out from Girard and paint the word "Gudgeonville" on each end of the bridge. That's how it got the name. When Dan Rice's circus returned to winter quarters at Girard, Dan was told about the mule and the calliope, and he wrote a sad tale of Gudgeon's demise.
Waterford Bridge: Erected about 1865, this bridge crosses LeBoeuf Creek southeast of Waterford. This covered span was remodeled recently, receiving new concrete abutments, new siding, flooring and a new coat of paint.
Sherman Bridge: Named after its builder, J. Sherman, this bridge is on Barney Road, south of the intersection of Keepsville Road, west of Albion, in Conneaut Township. Built in the 1870s, and rebuilt in 1963 at a cost of $53,000, the structure wears the frame of the old covered bridge. The old frame was carefully moved to the side when the new structure was started. After the renovation, the 12-foot wide shell was placed on the new concrete bridge foundation. It has an unusual box-style approach. Over 300 square yards of concrete went into the bridge abutments. The historical society claims the bridge as a masterpiece, but the farmers have other names for it.
Carmen Bridge: Also known as the Van Camp Bridge, this bridge burned in the early 1990s and may be replaced. It crossed Conneaut Creek on McKee Road, three miles south of East Springfield. It could also be approached on Barney Road, three miles north of Route 6N. It was also built by J. Sherman in the 1870s. Inside the bridge, an advertising sign of Stine and Wingate, the big clothing store in Conneaut, closed since just after the turn of the century, read: "Try our $10.00 suits."
FORMATION: 1800 from Allegheny and Crawford Cos.
TOWNSHIPS as of 1990 ; Amity, Concord, Conneaut, Elk Creek, Fairview, Franklin, Girard, Greene, Greenfield, Harborcreek, Lawrence Park, Le Boeuf, McKean, Millcreek, North East, Springfield, Summit, Union, Venango, Washington, Waterford, Wayne.
BOROUGHS (as of 1990): Albion, Corry city, Cranesville, Edinboro, Elgin, Erie city, Fairview, Girard, Lake City, McKean, Mill Village, North East, Platea, Union City, Waterford, Wattsburg, Wesleyville.
From: Larry Sugden -- Subject: Greenfield Township Trivia
[Note: Item below submitted 4/7/01 replaces previously posted item.]
In the late 1790s, Leverett Bissel built a landing and saw mill at the forks of French Creek. This became known as Bissell's Landing. Later the area developed into the village of Greenfield, which is now known as Little Hope.
A mile or so north of Colt's Station there was a "huddle of cabins" known as Log City. This area later became known as Nasby. There was a one-room schoolhouse in Nasby called Frog Pond School, then later, Bissell School. It was located at the current intersection of Calkins Road and Route 89.
The following has been submitted by Dee Davidson in November 2002
"The most appalling calamity occurring during the season of 1841 was the burning of the steamboat 'ERIE' on the night of August 9, off Silver Creek, (Chautauqua Co. NY) Lake Erie, and in the same waters where the steamer 'Washington 2nd' had burned in 1838. The 'Erie' had come out in that year, was of 497 tons burden, and was commanded by Captain T. J. TITUS up to the time of her loss. She had been in ordinary at Buffalo for a few days to receive fresh painting, and started out about four o'clock in the evening for Chicago; although the wind was blowing fresh, everything promised a pleasant and prosperous voyage. When about 33 miles from Buffalo, off Silver Creek, a slight explosion was heard, and almost immediately the whole vessel was enveloped in flames. Some cans of turpentine, it was conjectured, had ignited. Captain Titus, who was in command, rushed from the upper deck to the cabin where the life-preservers were kept, but flames hindered his progress, and he quickly gave orders to the engineer to stop the boat. The passengers, driven by the flames, madly plunged into the water, catching at anything which might lend assistance in floating. Many went down immediately and were seen no more. The steamer 'Dewitt Clinton,' 20 miles astern, discovered the fire and came up, reaching the 'Erie' at about 10 p. m. She was instrumental in saving many lives, but in spite of all efforts over one hundred persons were drowned. The steamer 'Lady' from Dunkirk, and the steamer 'Chautauqua' also came up soon after, and together they towed the burned hull of the 'Erie' to within four miles of the shore where she sank in eleven fathoms of water. The loss of property was heavy. She had on board the first large invoice of merchandise of the season, amounting to 30 tons, worth at least $20,000. Immigrants on board had about $180,000 of specie, and the boat cost over $75,000; making in all a loss of nearly $300,000. The 'Erie' was owned by C. M. REED of Erie PA , and was one of the finest steamers afloat on the northern lakes."
Source; The Pioneer Families of Cleveland, Vol 1
This page was originally created in August 2000, several articles were added during 2001. A new background and slight page modification done in Jan 2002. New article added 12/9/02.
This page was last updated on Monday, December 09, 2002 .
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