The information below has been written by
Beth Simmons. “REES’ PIECES” was run as a series of articles
in the Harborcreek Area Tri-Community News during the years 2000-2002.
The Harbor Creek Historical Society will also publish this as a
commemorative booklet for the Bicentennial of the Township in 2003.
For presentation on this web site, the article has been split into five
parts. These parts will not necessarily align with the published articles.
This is Part Three, containing information about the geography, early
churches, cemeteries and occupations.
Anyone wishing to add to, correct or otherwise question or comment on the
information below should
Examinations of deeds and
biographical sketches of the neighbors help delineate Rees’ collection of farms. Consisting of the majority of
tract #234, most of section #242 east of Four-Mile Creek, all of section #233, and most of tract #213 east to
Six-Mile Creek, Rees’ east county plantation covered more than 1,000
acres (Map 2).
The main hill of the farm
is the Girard Moraine, left behind by the last glacier to enter ErieCounty. At FrazierHill, where Reesbuilt his home,
gravel coats the bottom slopes of the clay-rich moraine. Springs erupt where
the gravel meets the clay and where the clay meets the Devonian shale bedrock. MarieStoltz and Ed
Knippershowed me the
numerous artesian (ever-flowing) springs on the property. Beautiful views of Lake Erieand the sunsets
over the lake plain compliment the good soils and water supply on the land Rees
chose. Unfortunately winter winds blowing across the lake start their uphill
climb at the bottom of the hill. The property is about two miles too far inland
to benefit from the lake effect clime.
South of the steep Girard
moraine, a broad gravel-filled glacial river valley provides excellent soil for
the back nine holes of the Gospel HillGolf Course. More
artesian springs feed the present pond on the golf course, which is used to
irrigate the greens. South of the valley, an older glacier deposited the
Ashtabula Moraine all the way to the bedrock cliff, the Appalachian Escarpment,
which bounds the Lake Eriebasin on the
The northern border of the
Reesfarm extended at
least as far as to what is now Ridge Parkway. The western boundary abutted Saltsman’s pieces. To the
southwest the line paralleled the top of Cooper Road Hill, through the Behrendcampus, and along
Station Roadto east of Hannon Road.
Clean, clear water
At least four artesian
springs erupt between the present house and Six-Mile Creekarea. To protect
his personal house spring, Reesbuilt a brick
springhouse with vats filled by pipes flowing out of the spring. That little
brick building still serves its original purpose 200 years later. (Photo 2)
“The spring which feeds the springhouse has never gone dry.” MarieStoltz told us
that she can run “three sprinklers, plus have enough water for both her house
and Bill’s house up the hill without the water level in the collecting trough
ever changing.” “The mineral count in the water is always good”, as
evidenced by the minerals, which had accumulated in the old pipe Mariesaved when
Frazier’s replaced it. Vern Spencer laid the pipe into the
trough in the springhouse. The pressure was so good after the new pipe was
installed, “it would blow a glass cup right out of your hand.”. The spring house also served as a refrigerator. The
Raeder’s used to set cans of meat and milk on the step in the
springhouse trough and keep them cold for days.
Other springs provide
water for the lily pond in front of the house, the barns on the east side of
the road, and a stone smoke house south of the main spring house. In addition,
Marie’s father piped water for the barn and ‘cottage,’ which
he built on the west side of Hannon Road. On either side of the vineyard, each of the buildings,
two springs require drains and culverts through the roads and rows of the
vineyards to keep the clay and gravel from turning into quagmires. Once, while
riding my horse along one of the vineyard roads, “Quicksilver” sunk to his
hocks in the “quicksand.” Tractors would constantly be stuck in the mud, even
in the months of dry summers.
Other springs on what
would have been the Reesfarm occur west
of Hannon Road. One on Freeman Roadconstantly flows
through a pipe into a road ditch. When Ed Knipperdeveloped and
built new homes on Louise Street, named for his wife, an artesian spring sent the water four feet above
the well head. Knipper, MarieStoltz’s
brother-in-law, had lived on the farm since the early 1900’s. He told us that
“there’s so much water, at one time Wesleyvillefigured on piping
the water from Raeder’s farm to town”. What foresight Thomas Reesshowed in his
In 1999, this spring
erupted during building east of Freeman Roadand north of ReeseRoad. When laying the sanitary sewer line, the developer hit
an artesian spring. To dry the trenches, the developer pumped three weeks
straight, draining some of the wells of homes along Freeman Road. The builder pumped until the trench was dry enough to
lay the next section of sewer line, then moved down a length and pumped some
Other springs occur along
Six-Mile Creek. The “Clark” spring is
located in the middle of the north bank of Six-Mile Creek. Water flowed through an iron pipe to the bottom of the
hill where it was put into large glass bottles, daily loaded on a wagon and
hauled to Eriewhere Pierce sold
it to the city and hospitals. Jonathan Pierce and his second wife, Lucinda Wright, bottled the spring water and shipped barrels of it to Buffalounder the label
“Glen Crystal Mineral Water.” MarieStoltz recalled
that beer was trucked out from Erieto Pierce’s
“Sunday Biergarten” at the bottom of “Devil’s Back Bone” in Six-Mile Gorge. The foundation of the iron bridge, which crossed
Six-Mile Creekto the
“Biergarten,” is still standing. The bridge was wiped out in the 1915 flood.
The “Biergarten’s” old cook stove was still in the creek bed in 1994. The Clark
Spring, still flows, full of bone-building minerals. Mrs. Carl Anderson of Clark Roadhas a pipe from
the spring full of calcified deposits. In the 1960’s Bill Deul, who lived on the bank above
the spring, gave me aclump of leaves
which had been fossilized by the minerals.
spring occurs on the Bell farm, along Depot Road south of Firman Road. The Bells also sold mineral water and Mary S. Langer
has a stamp that was used in their business. The family that lives in the
remodeled springhouse still uses the water from the original spring.
Other possible Reesbuildings
Sometimes the out
buildings of old residences survive after the main homestead has burned or been
replaced. There are many old barns in Harbor Creek– the Clark barn
at Andersen’s, Garth May’s barn, the barn at Towell’s on Firman Road, and the
Gallagher barn on Station Roadnear Gospel Hillare but a few.
These exhibit unique architecture with beam and support systems not used in the
barns built during the 1850’s.
There are two old
single-storied barns on the Frazierfarm today. MarieStoltz remembers
that they were standing when she was a child. Ed Knippersaid that the
barn just north of the house on the east side of the road was the last one
Phillip Raederbuilt on the
farm, built after the barn on the west side of the road. Ed also said that the
big barn on the west side of Hannon Roadjust to the north
of FrazierStreet once stood
just northwest of the Frazierbarn on the west
side of Hannon Road. William F. Raedermoved it to his
lot after the farm was split between the children.
Mr. Raedertook the timber
off the farm to build the barns. Every wood had a purpose The barn construction
was carefully planned. Both the siding and the beams were hemlock; the main
beam of the big barn is thirty feet long. The beams are pegged with hickory
pegs so the barn could be taken apart and moved. Mr. Raeder built the house on the propertyin 1906. Its
timber includes cucumber for the siding, chestnut, and black walnut. Mr. Raederhad to rent a
portable sawmill and its laborers over a year in advance of the construction.
There was no rot in any of the cucumber siding except for one board in almost
According to MarieStoltz the stone smoke
house and the brick springhouse were on the property with the log cabin when
her grandfather bought it. The log cabin was added into the old home, according
to Marie. Whether they were built when Thomas Reeslived on the farm
or later when apparently William Brown and Helen Ewinglived there
cannot be determined.
However, the barn at
Gallagher’s at 4397 Station Roadhas hardware
similar to Clark’s barn at Andersen’s at 6916 Clark Road.Both display the
antiquated beam system. The piece of property on which Gallagher’s barn sits
belonged to Clinton George, one of Rees’ colored laborers. A.B. Hume purchased it in 1865, and then by Mrs. Gallagher’s parents in 1891 or 1892.
Probably the Gallagher barn dates from the early 1800’s and was used by Rees
and his workers for hay, grain, and equipment storage. Mrs. Gallagher said that
the barn was raised to its present elevation to allow more ceiling space in the
Oxen and cattle were
driven to Greenfield (Colt’s Station) as early as 1798, because eight dogies went astray and
Colt sent three men south to Meadville to collect them. The east county colonists at Colt’s Station were
butchering pigs and selling salted pork and tallow, plus tanning the hides in
1798. Probably Rees’ farm hands followed suit, raising wheat, oats, corn
and livestock, which they butchered and then tanned on Gospel Hillas early as four
years later in 1802.
Indiansin Harbor Creek
Throughout the years,
been found in all parts of HarborCreekTownship. Ed Knipperand former
township supervisor, Frank Szklenski had two of the finest collections. Indianshad corn fields
planted in Eriewhen Reesarrived in 1795 and parties of Indians often camped in the area.
Indiansprobably used the
springs as a source of clear water when they camped at the Raederfarm site,
leaving the many artifacts that the Raederchildren found
after grandfather Raederplowed the fields. Reeshad befriended
the local Indians early in his work. In 1792, Rees presented a bill for
$193.43, “For services in viewing the county” and another “To Indians for
hunting, $50.” According to the literature, Rees provided an Indianguide to
accompany Louis Phillipeand his brother
and a servant on their jaunt into the Great Lakes country when
the future king of France was the Duke of Orleans. They had visited Rees at his
marquis tent on the bay in July of 1795.
One Indiannamed “Quashi”
was listed in ErieTownship on the 1801 census. There were Indian encampments at burial grounds within
the city limits until June of 1841. Probably Reeshosted some of
these Indianson his back hill,
too. Ken Kreider, who tended the vineyard for the Knipper’s, recently found a
scraper, which he had authenticated.
Early energy and raw materials
The streams and waterfalls
of Four-, Six-, Seven-, and Twelve-Mile Creeks provided waterpower for the
early settlers. In 1798, Reesbuilt the first
sawmill in Harbor Creekat the lower
Falls along Four-Mile Creek. The main mission of the mill was to cut the wood
needed for the “Sloop Washington,” the early settlement transporter. Early settlers were not content to live in tents or
log cabins. Undoubtedly the mill also prepared framing lumber and clapboards
for the early settlers’ homes in east Erieand Harbor Creek. According to the Judah ColtDay Book from
1799, supplies like shingles, window glass, and nails were imported.
Other early mills on
Four-Mile Creekincluded the
Shattuck mill in Wesleyville(1797), the John Riblet, Sr. Mill, 1802, half a mile south of Wesleyville, and the Goodwin mill where Station Roadnow crosses
Four-Mile Creek(1815). Nothing remains of the mill, but the old home, later
occupied by the Sterrett family, is still standing on the stream terrace behind
the houses on the northeast corner of Station and Shannon Roads. The Saltsman’s
owned a gristmill at the bottom of Cooper Road hill in Wintergreen Gorge (1815); it was purchased by the Cooper’s in 1839 and known as
the Cooper mill. The Cooper’s lived on the south side of Station Road east of Kuhl Road; William Cooper was a leader in the Harbor CreekRailroad Wars.
Mills in operation by 1800
on Six-Mile Creekincluded the
James Foulk gristmill on Six-Mile Creekat the “Falls”
near the mouth . On upper Six-Mile Creekat “Factory
Gulch,” Myron Backus had a sawmill as early as 1810. Theodore Childs built the first carding mill in ErieCountyin “Factory
Culbertson owned it. In 1820, William Hayes bought a “pioneer woolen mill” in the Gulch. The Cass family bought the property and
abandoned buildings in 1844 and operated the mill until 1874. There was a tannery along the creek where Peck Road crossed the creek to Clark Road.
Along Twelve-Mile Creek,
Foulk and Daniel Dobbins built a grist and sawmill in 1803. Unlike Foulk’s mill on Six-Mile Creek, which was flooded out twice and never rebuilt, the mill on Twelve-Mile Creek at Leets Road survived for over 70 years.
Reesalso opened a
stone quarry in Four-Mile Creek(sometimes called
Crowley’s Run), which provided stone for foundations in Erieand through
Harbor Creekfor almost 100
years. Another quarry in “Neely’s Run” closer to Erie, also provided foundation stones.
The boulders brought to
Harbor Creekby the glaciers
often served as foundations for buildings. MarieStoltz said, “The
stones were sold off of the farms like cords of wood to homes in town for their
foundations. The stones would be heated, then split”.
If brick houses and
buildings in Harbor Creekdate from the
very early 1800’s, someone nearby was making bricks. The earliest mention of
bricks in the Eriehistory regarded
a “chimney” of a building that was standing on the peninsula when the American
settlers arrived. It was thought that the early French built it as early as
The earliest brickyard in Eriedates from 1803
owned by Isaac Austin and Brziela Rice, located east of Parade Street, north of Third Street. The first mason and bricklayer in Eriewas Peter Growotz, listed in the Judah Coltbook on Dec. 9, 1999, as Peter Grawoss.Thus, bricks and
masons to lay them were available for building materials and labor when Reeswas building his
palatial home with its brick springhouse in Harbor Creek.
The earliest bricklayer
and stonemason in Eriewas Thomas
Hughes, who came to Eriein 1795 with the
troops to assist in erecting the garrison and fort. Apparently Hughes built the
chimney at the fort and it smoked so badly that on his death bed General
Anthony Waynethreatened to
have Hughes shot. Mr. Hughes lived through Gen. Wayne's threat, and helped dig Wayne’s grave.
Isaac Austin was in Erieas early as 1798;
when he owed Judah Colt$84.50 in August  Colt owed him $5.30 ½. There is evidence that through Judah Colt, Thomas ReesEsq. paid Austin $52.26 – perhaps for laying bricks. On July 23, 1799, Colt paid Austin $3 for “Hawling 3 barrels from the lake”; on Oct. 24, 1799, Austin bought a quart of whiskey. The liquor was apparently used to keep him warm the
next day when Colt paid him $4 for “hawling 4 barrels from the lake”. Colt paid
Austin for road clearing,$12 for clearing 40 rods of a four rod road, $1.25 for 2 ½ days ox work
and $1.50 for 3 days “cutting on the Presque IsleRoad last winter”. Austin paid off his $84.50 debt on Oct. 26, 1799.from which Colt made a profit
of $5.20 interest. He then paid Isaac Austin $137.00. These records show that Austin was a regular man in the Erie/Greenfield settlement and went on to become a much needed businessman.
Another brick maker who
came to ErieCountyfrom CrawfordCounty in 1806 was Simeon Dunn. Dunn served in the ErieLight Infantry
during the War of 1812. His son, George Dunn, followed his father’s trade in
the brick business.A J. Dunn of
this family purchased the south part of Rees’ farm before the civil war and built the “Hermann” barn
that stood at 4378 Hannon Roadwhere it bends to
the left just south of “Rees’ Hill”. Miller cites another brickyard in the valley of Millcreek, started by Thomas Hughes, Sr., in the first decade of the 1800’s.
The brick makers made use
of the sands and gravels of the old beach ridges. In Harbor Creekabout 1810, the
Moorhead’s had their own brick works, quarrying sand and gravel from the beach
ridge south of their house on BuffaloRoad. The hole is still visible today. There is nothing to say that Reesdidn’t have his
own brickyard somewhere on his vast property. Cheney tells of brick being made locally
by Joseph Wiley for the Methodist church in Wesleyvillein 1828.
The first brick building
in North Eastwas built by
James Silliman in 1809. The bricks came from Dyer Loomis’ brickyard, which was
still run by descendants in 1884. Dyer Loomis was another of Judah Colt’s handymen who had come with his large family before
1798.Loomis Street in North East, which follows the Whittlesey strand line, carries this family’s name. So bricks were plentiful in
ErieCountyat the turn of
the century and throughout the 1800’s.
The earliest carpenters in
ErieCountywere Jonas Duncan
and John Teel.These names do not appear in the Judah ColtDaybook of
1798-1799. Colt had his own carpenters; Joshua and Sampson Hamilton, James
Henton, and Joel Andrews. Teel was listed in the 1801 census, so he may have
been in Eriein 1798, but did
not do business with Colt. Reeshad carpenters
working at the sawmill along Four-Mile Creekbuilding the
Sloop Washington in 1798, so there were plenty of able hands to operate hammers
Harbor Creek’s Earliest
History books tell us that
Reesretired to his
farm in Harbor Creekin 1802. The best
source for information about roads in Harbor Creekis the Township
Road Book, the official record of the opening and closing of
highways in the County and the Township. Unfortunately, the original book
burned with the county courthouse and the entire book was recopied, with copied
signatures, from secretary’s notes in 1825. However, there are sketch maps and
descriptions of the original roads, which show settlers and their property,
along with descriptions of the terrain.
The lists of names
following each road change are the who’s who of ErieCounty’s founding fathers. Rees’ name commonly appears along with Mark Baldwin, John
Brawley, Robert Brown, Rob’t. Caldwell, James Chamber, Philson Cooper, John
Cooper, Nathan W. J. Curtis, Francis Davison, Daniel Dobbins, James Flowers,
Jacob Flury, Thomas Forster, Royal Freeman, Daniel Goodwin, Thomas Greenwood,
Luke Hardy, William Henry, John B. Jones, Thomas Laird, Henry Loomis, Jehu
Lyon, Wm. May, R. McClelland, Alex McClelland, John McClinock, Wm. H. McCord,
David McNair, Thos. Mellin, Jonathan C. Metcalf, Thomas Miles, William Miles, John
Moorhead, Thos. Moorhead, Joseph Neeley, John Norcross, Jonas Parker, James M.
Phillips, James Pollock, Clark Putnam, John Riblet, Michael Riblet, Benj.
Russell, H. Russell, A. Saltsman, Jesse Saltsman, Wm. Saltsman, Wm. Scott, John
Shadduck, Ira Sherwin, John Smith, Martin Strong, John Sweeny, Wareham Taggart,
G.W. Walker, Benj. Wallace, P. Willes (Phillip Wells), and Wm. Wilson. The
presence of Daniel Dobbins’ name in the County Road records proves that Dobbins was doing his civic duty in
trouble with the Navy.
Placing Reeson “RaederHill” establishes a different traffic pattern of Harbor
Creekin the early
1800’s than the roads used by today’s residents. The road Rees built to this
property in 1797 was the present Hannon Road, where I grew up, instead of the Station RoadI had presumed it
Reescut a wagon road
along the old Indiantrail following the
beach ridge crest east of Erie(shown on a map
of the Reserve Tract in 1799). The road crossed Four-Mile Creekat its easiest
ford, east of Wesleyville, and continued along the Indian trail two more miles
BuffaloRoadis Road #10 in
the Harbor CreekTownshipRoad Book,
officially surveyed by James McMahon and opened to Eriefrom “Moorheads”
in 1805. It was originally called the “Ridge Road”. The first stages between Erieand Buffaloran in December
of 1820. They left Buffaloon Saturday at and were scheduled to arrive in ErieMonday at . Then on Tuesday, they would leave Erieat and be in Buffaloby Thursday at .
To get to his property,
along “the west side of Six-Mile Creekon the BuffaloRoad.” He intersected the present Hannon Roadnear the
cemeteries, crossed over the Whittlesey beach ridge, crossed “Little Spring
Creek”, a tributary of Six-Mile Creek, and skirted the lowlands behind the ancient beach
ridge. From there it was straight south up the hill to home (Map 2).
The original description
in the Township Road Book, describes the road south from BuffaloRoad, intersecting BuffaloRoad,
Bet. Benjamin Chambers and Six-Mile CreekBridge, 22
perches east of Irvine’s west line, then south 20° 472 perches to a poplar the
end of T. Rees’s lane thence through the lane south 25 ° East 104
perches through Thos. Rees’ improvement to the top of the hill, thence S 35 ° E
190 perches to a post in the west line of Nehemiah Beer’s; thence by same S 118
p to the Station Road between Ebenezer Sewell and Barnard Bort. 2 miles, 244
perches, 50 feet wide.
The northern end of the
road was abandoned in 1851 when the bend near the cemeteries was put in to
skirt the newly sold Irvine property. On one map in the Township Road Bookthe southern end
of Rees’ original road is shown by a dotted line. This road would have been more level, straighter (a
surveyor’s road), less rugged, and much drier than coming up Station Road.
In the Road Book, this
road is called REES Road [sic]. In the 1851 Road Book, the name carries the final E,
spelled REESE [sic], as it does on p. 81. About fifteen years after Rees’ death, the name of the road was officially changed to Hannon Road. The Hannon’s lived in the old house on the north side
of BuffaloRoadjust east of the
intersection of Hannon Road. In some places in the Road Book Hannon Road was called the Waterford Road because it eventually tied in with Kuhl Road, which wound its way to Waterford.
Originally, the portion of
the road south of Rees’ house to Station Roadhad two subtle
bends. On April 7, 1831, the township straightened the road to avoid the swamp that lies south
of the glacial moraine (which was named Rees’ Hill at that point in time). Rees’ signature appears on the road bookpage along with
famous Eriepioneers, Thomas
Forster, Benjamin Wallace, Daniel Dobbins, and William Saltsman, regarding a
change and road abandonment procedure.HarborCreekTownshipfathers, James
Chambers, Philson Cooper, Almond Fuller, Ira Dewey, G.W. Walker, and Alex
McClelland officially approved the modern sharp turns in Hannon Roadbetween ReeseRoadand Station Road on Aug. 4, 1840.
The forerunner of the
present ReeseRoadwas probably a
high, dry plantation road that the black help used to go between their houses
and Rees’ mansion two miles to the east. Thomas Forster, Samuel
Hays, David McNair, Giles Russell, and George Davison officially recognized its existence
on May 9, 1833. The diagram accompanying the description shows the GospelHillSchool and a large chestnut treeacross Station Roadfrom the school.
One section of the road went from a sugar sapling to a birch tree! After Rees
died, the road was officially resurveyed and recorded on August 17, 1852.It divided
William A. Brown’s property (north of the road) from ‘Reynold’s’
property, south of the road. This is probably when the old house on the
southeast corner of Steimer and ReeseRoads was built.
It was present on the 1865 map of Harbor Creek, occupied by one of the Bonnell’s, M. Bonnell, probably
Marshall Bonnell, who was a son of George Bonnell and a civil war veteran.
The Clark’s blazed Clark Road(Road Book #11;
sometimes called the Backus Road) early in the 1800’s to “Launceton,” the Clark estate, and to the Backus sawmill and the Hays woolen mill built at
“Factory Gulch” in 1810.
In 1813, Judah Coltcut the Station Roadbetween
Station. Originally, the Bonnell’s and Saltsman’s would have
probably come up prehistoric Saltsman Road or Nagle Road to their homes. Interestingly, on October 23,
1830, the Road Book
describes and illustrates an “old house” along Nagle Road, about two thirds of a mile north of Station Road This house could not have been over thirty years old!
Anyone living south of
traveled south on the original Rees road and ventured further south over the
Ashtabula Moraine to their farms. After 1815, the residents would have changed
their driving habits and come up the new Station Road. Rugged as it was, along the west side of Four-Mile
Creek, Station Road made life easier for the merchants and
traders at Colt Station and “Southville” (at Six-Mile Creekor Boscobel) to get their products to Erie. Judah Colthad a quicker
route to check on things at his settlement out in the county. The opening of Station Road allowed first a mail route operated by Goodwin’s from
Wesleyville, followed by a stage route between Erieand Mayville, New York. The bridge over Four-Mile Creekwas dedicated in
1825; Colt finished the road to Mayville by 1830.
In addition to the Lake Road (#5)(1806), other early Harbor Creekroads include
Davison Road (Road Book #8), MoorheadvilleRoad (Road #7 in Township Road Book). Belle Road was not officially accepted until 11/8/1827, along with Elliott Road (the present Depot Road), and Troupe Road.
The GospelHillCemetery and School
In 1823, the cemetery was
set aside for the burial of two young girls who had drowned in the creek.
Interestingly, there are no tombstones for these two young girls in the
they are two of the many unmarked graves in that burial plot. Prior to 1823,
burials were in private family cemeteries, the burial ground at Colt’s Station, or the HoagCemetery along Depot Road. Two infant daughters of Joseph and Martha Backus
were the first burials at Hoag in 1811; stones mark their grave.
The Rees’ donated the land for the cemetery to the Gospel Hillneighborhood,
along with the land for the GospelHillSchool, which, as most schools did in the early days, served as
a church. Mrs. Rees officially deeded the property to trustees, Thomas Bunnell,
Newman Wadsworth, and William May, on January 22, 1831. Thomas Rees, his family, and his neighbors are buried at GospelHillCemetery, at the top of Gospel Hill on the right side of Station Road.
The earliest school in the
immediate area was in Wesleyvilleabout 1810 near
Eastern Avenue on the north side of BuffaloRoad. In 1932, the GospelHillSchool was built for the neighborhood children on land donated
by Ann Rees, between the time the deed for the burial ground was
written (1831) and the time the present ReeseRoadwas officially
designated in 1833
GospelHillSchool was a latecomer in the township but built about the
time the government decreed that there must be a schoolhouse about every mile.
Most records say that the first school in the township was on the Wilson place, east of the present village of Harbor Creek, in 1803. Another reference mentioned a school in
Moorheadvillein 1802. To a
historian looking back, Moorheadville might have been close to the Wilson’s, so
the reference might be talking about the same school Certainly the Harbor Creekchildren were
neighbors – the Wilson’s, Barr’s, and Moorhead’s.
The GospelHillSchool was one of the longest used buildings in the township.
There were still religious services frequently held in the school house at Gospel
Hill in 1896. Some local senior citizens attended elementary school
there. The school was closed in 1927, just short of a century of service to the
community and ripped down a few years later.
Churches which served Rees’ community
Church records support the
postulation that the Raederfarm was indeed
Rees’ permanent residence. On July 7, 1834, the WesleyvilleMethodistChurch appointed a committee comprised of Thomas Rees, William Chambers, and George W. Walker to oversee the
building of the parsonage. This indicates that Rees was an active member of the
Wesleyville Methodist church.
In September of the same
year (1933), the ErieCircuit of the MethodistChurch billed the Sunday School Classes in Harbor Creekto pay the
circuit preacher. Among the classes billed were “Gospel Hill- $18 and ReesHill - $18, H.
Clark’s $6, and T. Clark’s $8. The Gospel Hill class had begun in 1816, made up of the black early Methodists who were
“devoted to their religion”.Two references said that “Rees belonged to the class at
Gospel Hill”. If that were true, then why would there be a separate
billing for the class at Rees’ Hill? Rees’ class apparently met at his house at
the east end of the present Reese[sic] Road. The
black Methodists met with “unorganized zeal”  at the GospelHillSchoolon the west end
of Reese[sic] Road.
The class at Backus
(organized before 1830 in easternmost Harbor Creektownship) was
billed $12. Called the South Harbor CreekMethodist, it met
at the Backus Schoolhouse on Mar. 12, 1836. On Sept. 30, 1837, another group met at the Hoag Schoolhouse. The South Harbor CreekMethodist church
was built in 1841 at McGill and Davison Roads. The class at T. Clark’s, along Side Hill Road at MoorheadvilleRoad, was billed $8, the amount apparently based on membership. The classes
at ReesHill and Gospel
Hillmust have been
about equal in number and larger than the classes held across Six-Mile Creekto the east.
The first Baptist service
was held in 1822 at Lowry’s Corners. That building may still be in use as a house. The
first Sunday School in Harbor Creektownship was held
in 1817 in Moorheadvillein a house on the
east side of Moorheadville Road along Twelve-Mile Creek. That house, extensively remodeled, is still standing.
One of the most important
persons in early settlements was the blacksmith. He fixed the wagons, welded
chains, shod horses and oxen, and melted every used nail down in Harbor Creek’s first recycling program. The earliest evidence of a
blacksmith shop is from a map in the Township Road Bookdated 1816, which
shows a smithy shop at the future site of Gospel HillSchool. The next mention of a smithy shop in Wesleyvillewas in 1831 when
Philson Cooper was shoeing horses fixing cartwheels on the south side of BuffaloRoad, west of Center Street.
Dr. John Culbertson
Wallace who attended General Anthony Waynecame to Eriein 1796 after the
General’s death at the blockhouse. He elected to stay and was the first
physician in the county. He died in 1825. The first doctor in the Harbor Creekwas Dr. Ira
Sherwin who set up a practice in 1825. In 1837, Dr. Warren T. Bradley became
the first resident physician in Wesleyville.
 The roads in
Harbor Creek(and throughout ErieCounty) were resurveyed and entered into
a recopied road bookafter the first courthouse in Erieburned in 1823. Station Roadwas obviously present at the time of the new
survey, but would not have been cut when Reesmade his original road.