Huntingdon County PAGenWeb
History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania by J. Simpson Africa Philadelphia, PA: Louis H. Everts, 1883, pp. 292-301. Contributed by Mike Gifford, Ken Boonie & Judy Banja
JACKSON is one of the border townships of the county, occupying the upper parts of Shaver's Creek and Standing Stone Valleys. On the west and north is Centre County, Mifflin County forming the eastern boundary. On the south is Miller township, and on the west Barree. The greatest portion of the area is mountainous, seven distinct ranges appearing in the northern and eastern parts. Of these, Tussey Mountain and Standing Stone Mountain are dividing ridges between Huntingdon and Centre and Mifflin Counties. The intermediate and parallel ridges are Shaver's Creek Ridge, Greenlee Mountain, Long Mountain, Bare Meadow Mountain, and Broad Mountain. These confine the tillable lands to the southeastern part of the township, except a few narrow vales between the ranges named. The latter were originally heavily timbered, chiefly by pine-trees, although a large area of timber land yet remains upon some of the higher ridges. Bare Meadow Mountain owes its name to the fact that it is an almost treeless plateau, with a surface soft and yielding, being somewhat of the nature of swampy lands. In the valleys the soil is usually fertile and in some localities it is underlaid by limestone. The drainage is afforded by Shaver's Creek and by Standing Stone Creek and its branches, the chief of which, the East Branch, is a stream of considerable volume, flowing near the base of Standing Stone Mountain. The main branch of this creek has an almost parallel course with the former, the two streams being about a mile and a half apart. It is fed by a number of affluents, the principal ones being Laurel, Little Laurel, Ross, and Detweiler's Runs. Iron ore is found in abundance in many parts of the township, and the deposits are especially rich between the Broad and Standing Stone Mountains, where they are developed to supply Greenwood Furnaces.
Pioneer Settlers. - In the history of Barree may be found the names of many of the early citizens of the present township of Jackson, whose descendants, in the third generation, may be found among its population to-day. In general these suffered but little at the hands of hostile Indians in the times of the Revolution, but were not free of the fear of an attack by predatory bands. To provide a place of safety in case of sudden emergency a stockade fort was erected near the house of Gen. William McAlevy, which locality and existence has been perpetuated by the village of McAlevy's Fort. It was built about 1778, in consequence of the many Indian alarms in the lower part of the valley, and may have been designed more as a place of rendezvous for the people who wished to go in a company to the stronger forts at Standing Stone or in the Kishacoquillas Valley than as a place of defense. The location of the fort was near the house of William McAlevy, which was by a large spring, above the present residence of Robert McBurney, and every vestige of it was removed many years ago. It appears that this fort was occupied in the summer of 1778 by a number of settlers, who had gathered here in consequence of a rumor that hostile Indians had entered the valley, although their presence had not been clearly noted, and some were doubtful whether the alarm was well founded.
Murder of James McClees and Mrs. Huston. - Among these was an old lady by the name of Huston, whose age had made her somewhat garrulous. Her home was in the valley several miles above the fort, and among the other crops she had growing on the farm was a patch of flax, whose possession and care gave her a world of concern. Indeed, after she reached the fort she could do nothing but talk about her flax and lament constantly that it would go to waste because she could not give it her attention. Yet, yielding to her fears, she dared not leave the fort alone to attend to it, and tried in vain to persuade the men of the fort to accompany her. To no purpose did they set forth that the flax was well enough off where it was, and that owing to the wildness of the country adjacent her land to go there would be attended by the greatest risk of ambuscade by the Indians, - a venture too great when no good could be accomplished. She persisted in her purpose to go to her flax-patch until she became an object of good-natured ridicule and the butt of some jokes. One morning, about the middle of August, 1778, a group of men were seated before the fort when she again commenced talking about her flax, to the amusement of the men, who began twitting her about the great loss if her flax could not be gathered. At this a young man by the name of James McClees got up and said, "Boys, it's bad enough to be too cowardly to help the old woman gather her flax, but to ridicule her misfortune is a shame." To this the others retorted, "If you think it is cowardly, why don't you go and help her pull it." "That is just my intention," replied the spirited young fellow, and turning to the old woman he said, "Mrs. Huston, get ready, and I'll go with you to pull your flax."
The old woman was overjoyed, and in a few moments the two departed, the young man carrying with him his rifle. He was but eighteen years of age, but well developed, strong, and utterly without fear. They left promising to return that evening or the evening following at furthest. The first evening passed and they came not. The second one went by and still no signs of them. Their absence caused alarm, and a search was instituted. When the scouting party reached Mrs. Huston's house they found everything quiet, with no signs of one having been there. They started up the hill to the flax-patch, where they found Mrs. Huston dead and scalped, with cuts from a hatchet in her forehead. The flax was untouched, showing that she was killed on her way to the patch. About one hundred years [yards] farther lay the body of young McClees, stabbed and cut in every part of the body, no bullet-holes being visible, while on every hand were the evidences of a fearful close encounter. The ground was bloody for twenty yards around, and there were remnants of Indian dress lying around, but his rifle was gone. By his side was his knife, broken and bloody. The full nature of the conflict was not known until a few days later, when on a bench of the mountain, a mile distant from the cabin, were found the remains of three Indians covered with bark. It was thought that there were five Indians, and that McClees killed two outright, dying in a hand-to-hand struggle at the same time that the third Indian yielded up his life. (1)
The annals of the township do not contain accounts of other Indian outrages, but the massacre of Mrs. Huston and young McClees had the effect of keeping out many settlers until after the close of the Revolution. A participant in that struggle and the first to make a permanent home in the upper part of Stone Valley was the Gen. William McAlevy spoken of in connection with the fort. He was born in County Down, Ireland, in 1728, his parents being of Scottish descent. About the middle of the last century he emigrated to America and settled in the neighborhood of Carlisle, in the Cumberland Valley. He married Margaret Harris, a sister of John Harris, the founder of Harrisburg, and had by this union sons, named William and George, and daughters, Jane, Margaret, and Elizabeth. Some time prior to 1770 (2) he came to Huntingdon County, and with the aid of an assistant put up a cabin and made a small clearing where the village of McAlevy's Fort now is, upon which he planted some of the common vegetables. Having done this, he felled a large tree on the bank of the creek near his home, from the trunk of which he fashioned a large canoe, which he floated down Standing Stone Creek into the Juniata and so on down that stream into the Susquehanna, landing at a point nearest to his old home. After making the necessary arrangements he embarked with his wife and children and what goods he had, and after days of arduous toil he reached his forest home. Most of the way the boat was propelled by means of poles, but where he could do so he hitched a horse to the boat, leading him along the banks of the streams.
Not long after his settlement his wife died, and marrying a second time he had for his wife Miss Mary Hays. For his third wife he married Mrs. Margaret Allen, and had children named Allen and Mary. Gen. McAlevy served with credit in the Revolution, as is elsewhere noted, and was one of the most prominent men in the county in the period in which he lived. He was born a leader of the people, and although he never put himself forward unduly, he had a most enthusiastic following. To him, right was a ruling principle, and wrong was abhorred, no matter by whom entertained. He died in 1822, full of honors, at the unusual age of ninety-four years, and was interred on the high hill on his farm, which he had set aside for a cemetery. The oldest surviving son of the general, William, married Ruth Allen, a daughter of his third wife, and reared four sons and two daughters, viz.: William, George, Samuel, and Miles, Margaret and Catherine. By a second wife he had a son David. He died in the prime of life in 1817, having served in the Legislature a number of years and filled other offices of trust.
William McAlevy, his oldest son and grandson of the general, was born in 1796, and married Asenath Semple, rearing eight children, as follows: Jane A., William, David S., Alexander T., George Miles, James S., Asenath Ann, and Samuel Elliott. Of these, Alexander T. was a young man of brilliant promise, who died in 1851, before having completed his studies at Jefferson College; George Miles, born in 1826, and married to Elizabeth Mitchell** who died in 1875, is a well-known citizen of Huntingdon borough. Other members of the family removed to the western part of the State and to Iowa.
Jane, the first daughter of Gen. McAlevy, married James Reed, who died at the age of eighty-two years. One of his sons, John, was for several years a recorder of the county, and afterwards an attorney. He was the father of William D. Reed, of Walker township, and the Rev. James A. Reed, of Springfield, Ill. The second son of James Reed, Sr., William, a single man, who died at an advanced age, was well known as a surveyor. Of the many other children of the McAlevys, in the second and third generations, a number yet remain in the interior of the State, but the most of them have removed to other localities.
The Jackson family, from which the present township took its name, was one of the earliest in the county. George Jackson came from Wilmington, Del., and settled on the Swoope farm, on Raystown Branch, about 1766. In the course of half a dozen years he settled on the Little Juniata, in the present township of Logan, below Jack's Narrows, on what is now known as the G. P. Wakefield farm. There he lived during the Revolution, forting at Anderson's and being enrolled as a member of a scouting party. He died in 1806, and was buried in the old Shaver's graveyard, below the railroad at Petersburg. He reared children named Joseph, William, Thomas, and daughters, - Jane, who married Col. John Fee; Mary, John Beatty; Rachel, Joseph Potter, of Shaver's Creek; Elizabeth, William Spencer, of Alexandria; and Prudence, Samuel Keller, of Blair County. Joseph, the oldest son, was born on Raystown Branch, a short time after the settlement of the family, and was one of the first white children born in the county. He was baptized at Huntingdon by the Rev. William Smith, the proprietor of the town, on the occasion of one of his visits from Philadelphia. In 1791 he was married to Margaret Wilson, a daughter of John Wilson, who settled on Herod's Run in Jackson, and what is now known as the Jackson homestead, in 1776. To this place Joseph Jackson came about 1792, and lived there until his death in 1838. Of his eight children, the four daughters were married to James Wills, of Mifflin County; Robert Massey, of Masseysburg; Samuel Hawn, of Jackson; and Thomas Osborne, of Jackson. David, the oldest son, died in the township in 1839; George, the second son and father of sons named J. C., Hugh, and William, is yet a citizen of Jackson township; the third son, John, is yet a resident of Jackson, near the homestead. He is the father of Drs. William and John Jackson, of Huntingdon. Joseph, the fourth son, removed to Missouri. Of the other sons of George Jackson, William was well known as the keeper of a public-house at Huntingdon which bore his name, dying in that borough in 1831. Thomas, the youngest son, lived in Logan many years, finally removing to Hollidaysburg, where he died.
The Jackson homestead was settled by John Wilson in 1776. At that time he had a wife, Jane Nevin, and two children. The daughter Margaret married Joseph Jackson, and the son William was drowned in the Juniata about 1800, while attempting to cross that stream near Cryder's Mills. John Wilson died in 1812, and his wife in 1820. In the Revolution he served in Capt. McAlevy's company, his family being meanwhile at Reedsville, where the settlers of the upper part of Standing Stone Valley found protection from Indian attacks.
Joseph Oburn was another of the soldiers in the McAlevy company in the Revolution. He came from Delaware about 1770, and settled on the present David Cunningham place. He was a very righteous man, and extremely generous. It is related of him that in 1777 he raised a large crop of wheat, when that grain had failed in many localities and commanded so large a price that it was eagerly sought after, and many buyers were attracted to Mr. Oburn's house. One morning a man, reputed to be rich, rode up to the house, and accosting the owner, said, "Mr. Oburn, have you any wheat?" "Plenty of it: have you the money to pay for it?" "Certainly." "A horse to carry it, and bags to put it in, I see." "Oh, yes; everything," replied the wheat-buyer. "Well, then," said Mr. Oburn, "you can go to Big Valley for your wheat; mine is for people who have no money to pay, and no horses to carry it off." It is said that he absolutely gave away his large crop to such as could not afford to buy wheat or go to other localities to procure that article. Joseph Oburn reared two sons, - Joseph and Daniel. The former married a Miss Logan, and died on the homestead. His daughters married into the Harkness, McElroy, and Huston families. There was also a son Joseph, who died below Ennisville. He was the father of William Oburn, of Jackson; Joseph, of Mooresville; and Harrison, of Tyrone. The latter two served in the war of the Rebellion and endured captivity.
On the Flenner farm Richard Miller settled about 1787, but sold out at an early day, and removed to the West. At where are now Strunk's Mills, John Little settled about 1770. He too went out to do service for the patriot cause in the Revolution. Little built pioneer mills and made other substantial improvements at an early day. He died about 1814, and his only son also died many years ago. One of the daughters married Samuel Porter, an early settler near Little's, and the progenitors of the Porters of the township. Others of the Little daughters married into the Boggs, Coulter, and Bell families, and most have removed to the West. On the Powell place Thomas and John Ferguson were early citizens, but removed to Centre County, where a township bears their name. The Glen family also moved to that township, and made some good improvements on the head-waters of Spruce Creek. Robert Smith was the warrantee of a large tract of land above the claim made by Gen. McAlevy, which he improved somewhat, and then sold out to Samuel Mitchell, of Mifflin County, who located on it in 1790. He built his house above the present Mitchell homestead, and there commenced the distillation of liquor, afterwards selling that interest to Gen. McAlevy. The sons of Samuel Mitchell were Thomas, William, Robert, David, James, and Samuel, and the daughters married John Stewart, David McClelland, and Robert McClelland. Of the sons, David died on the homestead, at the age of sixty-two years; Samuel, by trade a blacksmith, moved to Iowa; and Thomas, the oldest son, married Betsey Hughes, and lived on the homestead until his death in 1826. His oldest son, Samuel, born in 1803, now occupies the homestead. Part of the Mitchell tract was surveyed in 1766, and was called "Unexpected Discovery."
In 1800, Hugh Smith moved from Sherman's Valley to where Ennisville now is, where he died at the age of eighty-two years. One of his sons, William B., died in the township, and was the father of James Smith. The second son, John M., is yet a resident of Ennisville, and his sons are William S., Samuel C., and D. B. Smith, of Jackson township.
John Oaks came from Dauphin County in 1798, settling first in West township, but in 1801 came to Jackson, and moved on a place which had previously been occupied by James Ramey, a blacksmith. In 1835 he died, at the age of seventy-seven years. Of his seven daughters, six were married to James Armstrong, Robert Johnston (grandfather of John N. Johnston, of Barree), William Myton, Thomas Wilson, William Stewart, and Samuel Shaver. The oldest son, William Oaks, married Ann McCormick, and lived in the neighborhood of Mooresville. He was the father of sons named Alexander, John, and Reuben, and of daughters who became the wives of Robert McBurney, Robert M. Cunningham, and Henry Neff. The youngest son, John, was born on Shaver's Creek in 1798, and after attaining manhood married Jane Stewart, of Barree township. He then settled on the homestead in Jackson, where he yet lives, and which is also the home of his son, William Asbury. Another son, James, lives at Petersburg. One of the daughters married the Rev. William R. Mills. In the Oaks neighborhood John Magill, an Irishman, was one of the early settlers. He reared two daughters, who married Samuel Morrison and William Cummins.
The Cummins family, although not among the first settlers, has for many years been one of the most prominent in the township, its members being among the foremost agriculturists and active business men. Their connection with the various interests of Jackson is appropriately, noted in the following pages.
In 1845, the year following the organization of Jackson as a separate township, the owners of seated lands and other property were as below indicated:
By the official census of 1880 the township was credited with a population of 1665.
Civil Organization. - The township was organized for civil purposes in conformity with the following report:
"To the Honorable Judges of the Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace of November Term, 1846:
"In pursuance of the order to inquire into the propriety of dividing the township of Barree, we, the subscribers appointed to view and divide the said township, being all sworn, proceeded to make the necessary examination of the boundaries and number of inhabitants, and are of the opinion that the great length of said township makes it inconvenient. We, in compliance with our appointment, have divided the same as follows: Beginning on Stone Mountain, at McConkey's Gap, where the old Indian path crosses the same; thence north twenty-eight and one-fourth degrees west sixteen hundred and sixty perches to a post near Steffey's field; thence north five degrees and sixteen hundred and forty perches to the top of Tussey Mountain near the Warring Run.
"And now, to wit, January Sessions, 1845, 15th day, the report again being read, and the division of said township as reported by the aforesaid commissioners is hereby confirmed, and the new township laid off is to be called Jackson; and the other part thereof, in which the election district is, to remain as and retain the name of Barree."
When the line was first run it divided the Jackson homestead, but it was afterwards so modified that the Jackson place fell wholly within the new township, which before the official announcement was called by some Jackson's township, and the present name was subsequently adopted as the proper title.
Since the township has been organized the following have been elected to fill the principal offices:
1847, Robert Johnston, John Campbell; 1848, J. Anspach, Alexander Thompson; 1849, John Smith, Samuel P. Hayes; 1850, Robert Cummins, Thomas Osborn; 1851, William Oaks, Thomas Osburn; 1852, William D. Black, David Mitchell; 1853, James S. Oaks, John Campbell; 1854, Henry Lee, John Rudy; 1855, Robert Barr, Samuel McAlevy; 1856, Samuel Mitchell, Robert Cummins; 1857, M. Fleisher, S. Cummins; 1858, John Cummins, Samuel Steffey; 1859, George W. Porter, John Oaks; 1860, Henry Lee, John Barr; 1861, Samuel Mitchell, Samuel Cummins; 1862, John Duff, John B. Smith, 1863, Robert Huey, Samuel McCord; 1864, Henry Lee, E. E. McGill; 1865, Samuel Sauer, John Brooks; 1866, Samuel Beckett, Robert Fleming; 1867, Joseph Stewart, George Jackson; 1868, Samuel McAlevy, Jacob Ayers; 1869, John M. Smith, Robert Huey; 1870-71, John Oaks, William Tulley; 1872, John Jackson, M. Fleischer; 1873, Robert Huey, Robert Fleming; 1874, Robert Huey, John Henry; 1875, Wesley Miller, Samuel McCord; 1876, Wesley Miller, J. A. Wilson; 1877, John A. Wilson, John B. Smith; 1878, James H. Lee, John E. Smith; 1879, James H. Lee, William Hayes; 1880, John A. Wilson, James Smith; 1881, James Smith, Washington Randolph.
1847, James Stewart; 1848, George Jackson; 1849, J. T. Campbell 1850, Samuel Stewart; 1851, John Duff, Samuel Mitchell; 1852, George Rarer; 1853-54, Samuel Stewart; 1855, John Cummins; 1856-57, Samuel Porter; 1858, William B. Smith; 1859, Samuel Cummins; 1860, Elias Musser; 1861, John A. Wilson; 1862, James Barr; 1863, John M. Smith; 1864, Thomas Mitchell; 1865, William Oburn; 1866, Sterret Cummins; 1867, Asbury Oaks; 1868, Matthew Miller; 1869, W. S. Smith; 1870-71, George Jackson; 1872, J. M. McIlvaine, J. A. Wilson; 1873, John Cummins; 1874, William Huston; 1875, T. F. Shipton; 1876, W. O'Brien; 1877, H. A. Jackson; 1878, T. F. Shipton; 1879, Dr. M. Miller; 1880, Jacob Schnee; 1880, John B. Smith.
General Industries and Hamlets. - Aside from the pursuit of agriculture, which gives employment to the larger number of the inhabitants of the township, considerable attention has been paid to manufacturing, a number of the small water-powers having been utilized to operate saw- and grist-mills. The Little Mills, on Laurel Run, were the first built, probably as early as 1780, occupying the site of what are now known as the Strunk saw- and grist-mills. The present mills were built by Henry Walborn. The property has had many owners, but the locality is one of the oldest and best known in the northern part of county. Above this mill Garner Jackson and others had a saw-mill, which has been destroyed by fire; and yet farther above is a power which was improved by Thomas Johnston, the mill being yet operated. Below the Phineas Strunk mill the Porter family improved the power about 1818 to operate a saw-mill, which is yet carried on by the Anspachs. On the same stream, on the Barr place, David Barr got in operation a sawmill about 1815, which was later the property of Thomas Osborne and John A. Wilson, but has been abandoned. On Herod's Run, so called for a hunter who had a camp on the present Oaks place, the first improvement was made by Joseph Jackson, who put up a saw-mill about 1806. The next mill on that stream was at what is now Saulsburg, and was built by Henry Weidensall about 1816. Later William Hirst built another mill on that stream, which is now the property of Martin Walker. In 1840, George Jackson built a saw-mill on De Witt's Run, which is yet operated a few months each year, and on the same stream Daniel Troutwein built a mill, which has been demolished.
On Standing Stone Creek, near the township line, Maj. John Magill made the water-power operate a saw-mill about 1820, which was operated until it went down, when William Cummins built a gristmill at that place which is yet successfully operated. Among the subsequent proprietors were James Magill, Robert Cummins, and Richard Cunningham. At McAlevy's Fort Gen. McAlevy built mills about the beginning of the century, and that water-power has been employed ever since to operate milling machinery. After Gen. McAlevy's death, William Flickinger became the owner of the property, selling to Robert Barr, who built the present mill on the west side of the creek, the old mill being at that time converted into a plaster-mill. The present owner of the property is Robert McBurney, who is also the owner of the greater part of the McAlevy homestead farm.
Above the McAlevy site is a mill-seat, where a sawmill was built about 1816 by Thomas Mitchell, and a grist-mill ten years later. These mills were subsequently operated by Samuel and William Mitchell, who sold to William Musser. John Crownover built the present mill, and a later owner was Robert Barr, to whose family the property yet belongs.
In the immediate neighborhood of this mill was Mitchell's Furnace, built in 1841, by Thomas and John Mitchell. It was of small capacity, and the stack being improperly constructed, it was never operated with paying results, although in the hands of a number of parties. Scarcely a trace of this furnace remains. At this point a number of tenements were built and stores kept by the proprietors of the furnace or the mill, and the place was quite a business point. The last to be in trade there were Green & Gregory, who discontinued their business about 1879. The next power above the furnace was improved to operate a carding-machine for Robert & James Stewart, from which originated a factory for the manufacture of woolen goods some time about 1836. The present factory is a new one, in room of the old one, which was destroyed by fire a few years ago, and is operated by B. A. Gibbony. In other localities small saw-mills have been built which were operated until the timber supply rendered them unprofitable, and they have, with a few exceptions, been discontinued.
The most important manufacturing interest in the township is on the head-waters of the East Branch of Standing Stone Creek, five miles from McAlevy's Fort, and near the Mifflin County line.
Greenwood Furnace was begun in the fall of 1832, but owing to the difficulty in procuring the necessary building material, it was not put in blast until June 5, 1834. The stack was built for a quarter-blast furnace, and the proprietors were Judge Rawle and James Hall. The latter became the resident partner, and in 1833 built the furnace mansion, which he occupied about a dozen years. The firm having failed, Sterritt & Potter worked up the stock, and for some time the furnace was idle. In 1849 it was again put in blast by John A. Wright & Co., and was carried on by that firm in connection with their works in Mifflin County.
The combined interests were operated in 1856 by the Freedom Iron Company, of which Joseph M. Thomas was the president, and John A. Wright superintendent. At this time the manager at Greenwood was D. A. W. Wright, and until the spring of 1858, when John Withers came in his stead and remained until Oct. 1, 1872, when he was succeeded by the present manager, W. H. Womer, who had for fifteen years prior served in the same capacity at Freedom, following Joseph Morrow, who was the manager when the company was formed. Since 1865, R. H. Lee has been the superintendent of the interests of the Freedom Iron and Steel Company and its successor, the Logan Iron and Steel Company.The latter company was formed in 1871, with John M. Kennedy, president, who filled that office until February, 1881, when Henry F. Townsend became the president. The second stack at Greenwood was put in blast in 1866, steam-power being supplied, and the capacity of the furnace is at present forty-four tons per week, the metal having an excellent reputation among founders and iron-workers. The ore is procured on the lands of the company near the furnace, being carried thither by a tramway about three miles in length, and yields forty-four per cent. of iron. The lands of the company in Huntingdon and Mifflin Counties number about forty thousand acres, and at Greenwood, besides the furnace, the fine mansion, offices, mills, etc., there are about ninety good tenements. Employment is given to nearly two hundred men. The store was opened soon after the furnace was put in blast, but the mill was not built until a dozen years later. About the same time Greenwood Furnace post-office was established, and since Oct. 31, 1878, L. C. Heskett has been the postmaster. He has also been the book-keeper for the company at this point since 1863. A tri-weekly mail is supplied from McAlevy's Fort. At Greenwood Furnace are also a good school-house and a fine Methodist Church, the whole forming an attractive mountain village.
ENNISVILLE is a pleasant hamlet on the main branch of Standing Stone Creek, about a mile and a half above the Miller township line. It is on the "Unity survey," a part of which became the property of Joshua Ennis in 1807, who lived where is now the home of William Oburn, where be died about 1830. He had sons named James and Alexander, who founded what is now called Ennisville, the latter being the chief promoter of the enterprise, opening a store in 1816. But the first store in this locality was opened half a dozen years earlier by Alexander Campbell, on the present Widow Smith farm, Ennis purchasing the store and moving it to the south side of the creek. The Ennis family was in trade a number of years, and later a dozen different persons merchandised there, the present store being kept by David B. Smith. The Ennisville post-office was established about 1820, with Alexander Ennis as postmaster. Among the subsequent appointees have been Jeremiah Betts, Joseph Watson, John W. Myton, W. H. Harper, and the present John M. Smith. The mail service is daily from Petersburg, and the office is in charge of D. B. Smith. At Ennisville the common mechanic trades have been carried on by a number of persons, among them being William Randolph, James Short, John Dinsmore, and William McFadden. The latter opened the first good carriage-shop about 1860, and for a number of years carried on coach-making extensively. The hamlet also contains a fine Methodist Church, and in 1880 had seventy inhabitants.
MCALEVY'S FORT, which had in 1880 one hundred and forty-five inhabitants, several good stores, public-house, a mill; and in the neighborhood were Presbyterian and United Presbyterian Churches. Gen. William McAlevy, the first settler in this locality, lived in the rear of the present McBurney residence, in the neighborhood of the large willow-tree standing there. The fort was farther down the brook on the flats near the creek, instead of on the hill, overlooking the villages, as some imagine. Although there was a mill and shops as early as 1800, a store was not opened until about 1809, when Alexander Campbell began trading in a small building which stood near the site of the old fort, removing a year later to the Smith place, near Ennisville. John Mitchell and Mordecai Massey were the next in trade about 1843, in the house which is now the residence of George E. Little. This building was erected a few years prior, and is the oldest house in the village. Subsequently Love & Oyer, George Cresswell, John Conrad, Joseph Porter, and William Couch were in trade there. Stewart Bell erected the brick store-house now occupied by Robert McBurney in 1844, and the following year opened a good store. A few years later the property passed into the hands of Robert McBurney, and he and his nephew, Robert McBurney, have since merchandised there, the latter for more than a quarter of a century. Other merchants are William Harper and William B. and Robert Little.
The first licensed public-house was kept in 1846, nearly opposite the old store-room, by John Hirst, who carried it on about three years. Henry Selfridge, James Fleming, Robert Stewart, and the present John Crownover have been among the subsequent landlords. The present McAlevy's Fort hotel was built by Edward Little, and in its day was a well-appointed hostelry. For the past four years it has been kept by V. B. Hirst.
McAlevy's Fort post-office was established about 1847, with John Hirst as postmaster, and three mails per week, on the route from Alexandria to Reedsville. The office has since had as postmasters Samuel W. Myton, George M. McAlevy, and Robert S. Cummins; Robert McBurney being the deputy, and keeping the office in his store. This is the terminus of a stage line from Petersburg, and a daily mail is supplied.
Among those who have carried on the mechanic trades have been William Franks and J. F. Schnee, undertakers; John Thompson, A. D. Scott, and Lewis Bigdon, blacksmiths, with Wesley Thompson, at another stand since 1862, at the same trade.
The first physician to locate permanently at McAlevy's Fort was Dr. Matthew Miller, who settled there in 1845, and has since been a resident of the place, being an active practitioner until a few years ago. He was born in Miller township in 1819, and received his education in the common schools of the county. After reading medicine with Dr. John Henderson, of Huntingdon, he graduated from Jefferson College in 1845. The next physician to locate in the township was Dr. William Bigelow, who was at Mitchell's Mills a few years, while Eliphas Bigelow was at the head of the valley in the practice of medicine, although not as a regular physician. In 1868, Dr. William Duff began practicing with Dr. Miller and continued until 1876, when he removed to Harrisburg. Dr. J. H. Bigelow came about the same time, and yet continues. Dr. Samuel Croft has been in practice the past few years, and since the spring of 1881, Dr. G. M. Couch and Dr. H. C. Cummins.
The United Brothers' Lodge, No. 176, I.O.O.F., was instituted April 20, 1846, with the following charter members: John R. Hunter, Thomas Bell, Charles Cowden, John Thompson, and Daniel Massey. The first named was the Noble Grand, and the meetings were held in West township. After some years of prosperity the lodge was discontinued, and on the 18th day of May, 1870, was reinstituted at McAlevy's Fort, with Abraham Miller, Shadrach Chaney, Elias Musser, J. F. Schnee, William Dickey, A. D. Scott, W. H. Huyser, and A. M. Chaney as charter members. In 1881 the lodge had a membership of eighty, and the following officers: L. C. Heskett, Jr., N.G.; Wesley Miller, V.G.; L. A. Bigelow, S.; J. W. Bigelow, A.S.; and V. B. Hirst, Treas. The meetings are held in a neat hall, and the lodge is fairly flourishing.
Educational and Religious. - Since the organization of the township those elected to serve as directors have been, -
1847, John Duff, John Oaks, William Cummins; 1848, W. D. Black, Robert Johnston; 1849, George Rarer, Samuel Steffey; 1850, James Oaks, Alexander Stewart; 1851, Samuel Cummins, Robert Stewart; 1852, John Campbell, Samuel Cummins; 1853, William B. Smith, Lewis Evans; 1854, W. A. Oaks, Hugh Alexander; 1855, Samuel Mitchell, John Jackson, Henry Lee; 1856, John Stein, E. Bigelow; 1857, James McGill, James S. Oaks; 1858, Hugh Gary, Joseph Oburn; 1859, Samuel Barr, James Miller. Robert Cummins; 1860, S. B. Grassman, Alexander Morrison; 1861, James H. Lee, John Jackson; 1862, George M. Decker; 1863, Jacob Hunter, Matthew Miller; 1864, Liberty Johnston, William A. Oaks; 1865, John Cummins, Samuel Steffey; 1866, Joseph Harkness, R. A. Gibbony, John A. Wilson; 1867, Thomas Mitchell, John M. Smith; 1868, Joseph Bonslow, Hugh Cary, Robert Fleming; 1869, James Stewart, James Barr; 1870-71, Thomas Yothers, John Davis; 1872. F. Strunk, George McAlevy, D. H. Fisher, J. Thomas; 1873, P. D. Moore, William Jackson, William Keys, L. C. Heskitt; 1874, Wesley Miller, William Hall; 1875, J. F. Schnee, J. A. Wilson; 1876, Thomas Mitchell, W. A. Oaks, Samuel Rybold; 1877, Washington Randolph, Sterrett Cummins; 1878, J. F. Schnee, Samuel Rudy; 1879, James Smith, D. S. Cunningham; 1880, Cyrus S. Cummins, William C. Bell; 1881, James F. Schnee, Wilson Henderson.
The township contained in 1880 twelve school districts, in which were enrolled as pupils two hundred and thirty-three males and two hundred and seventeen females, giving an average attendance of two hundred and twenty-six pupils for five months in a year. These were instructed at a cost of sixty-five cents per month for each pupil. The entire amount raised for school purposes was $2140.16.
In addition to the foregoing, a private school, by the name of Stone Valley Academy, is maintained in the township. The board which controls the school was first organized Sept. 9, 1873, and the members were Rev. J. M. Adair, president; George M. McAlevy, treasurer; William S. Smith, secretary; James Magill and Samuel Morrison. The academy was opened in the old church building of the United Presbyterian congregation near McAlevy's Fort, under the principalship of E. S. McCarthy. In 1875-76 the teacher was N. Wingart, and in 1877, W. S. Smith, when the school was taught in the village. James R. Millan came next, and since 1879, J. B. Work has been at the head of the academy, which was attended by about twenty pupils. In some of the previous years the enrollment reached thirty-two students. In 1881 the trustees were Rev. J. M. Adair, president; Thomas Mitchell, secretary; Sterritt Cummins, Matthew Miller, and James W. Magill. The school is at present taught in the old academy building east from the village, and is in good repute among the people of the valley.
The United Presbyterian Church of Standing Stone Valley. (3) - This congregation is the lineal descendant of the Associate Presbyterian congregation which was organized in Huntingdon borough in 1801 by the Presbytery of Philadelphia. The first settled pastor was the Rev. Thomas Smith, born in Dumfries, Scotland, and educated at the Edinburgh University. He came to America in 1808, but was not installed pastor of the Huntingdon congregation until 1811, continuing in that relation until his death in 1825. At that time the congregation, including the members from Shaver's Creek and Standing Stone Valleys, numbered about one hundred persons, embracing members who belonged to the Brown, Huston, Corbit, McConnell, Pollock, Smart, Reed, Fleming, Anderson, Moore, Robb, Johnston, Wilson, Irwin, Cummins, Bickett, Barr, Porter, Semple, Magill, McGiffin, McElhenny, and Carmon families, many of whom lived in the Standing Stone Valley. Owing to a combination of causes the Huntingdon part of the congregation flourished but little after 1825, while the membership in the valleys increased so that the preaching-places at Manor Hill and Standing Stone Creek became more important than the church itself. The latter especially seemed to inherit the life of the declining congregation, and was soon relatively the principal part of the charge, maintaining that position until the present.
In 1836, Dr. J. S. Easton, a native of Scotland, and a graduate of Union College, was settled in Standing Stone Valley, in connection with two small congregations in Mifflin County, and maintained pastoral relations towards them until 1855. In 1858, Standing Stone Valley was made a separate pastoral charge, and the following year the Rev. J. M. Adair was installed pastor, which relation yet continues.
In 1858 the union of the Associate Presbyterian Church and the Associate Reformed Church was effected, under the name of the United Presbyterian Church, and since that period the congregation in Standing Stone Valley has been designated by the title which introduces this sketch. In 1881 it had a membership of two hundred and twenty, thoroughly organized. There is a congregational library with an endowment of one thousand dollars to keep it up, and Sabbath-schools, prayer-meetings, and missionary societies are maintained. East from McAlevy's Fort is a commodious and convenient house of worship of brick, which was erected in 1869 at a cost of ten thousand dollars. In the basement are rooms suitable for session purposes and Sunday-school use. This building took the place of one erected there in 1832, and which was used until the period named, when it became too small to accommodate the growing congregation. It is yet standing upon the same lot, and is used for school purposes. A part of the same ground is devoted to cemetery purposes. At Manor Hill a meeting-house was built in 1817, which was statedly used until 1850, when it was taken down, and no meetings were held there by the congregation until 1863, when a mission church was again established there. The original church of the congregation at Huntingdon was sold about twenty-five years ago and converted into a residence.
The congregation of Standing Stone Valley is the only one in the county belonging to the United Presbyterians, and it has been a most useful factor among the religious bodies of this part of the State. Besides its large aggregate membership the following ministers have originated in the congregation: the Rev. Dr. Samuel Irwin, the Rev. Dr. J. G. Smart, Rev. J. P. Smart, Rev. Cyrus Cummins, Rev. William Magill, Rev: J. A. Magill, Rev. Dr. S. B. Reed, Rev. W. B. Barr, and the Rev. J. C. Hunter.
The Shaver's Creek Presbyterian Church established a preaching-place in Jackson at an early day, and in 1844 built a meeting-house on Standing Stone Creek a short distance above the village of McAlevy's Fort. A lot of land was conveyed for that purpose by Samuel Mitchell to George Jackson, John Stewart, and Henry Lee, as trustees for the congregation. On this a frame building was erected, which in a repaired condition is yet in use. The lot was also designed for burial purposes, and becoming too small, an addition was purchased in 1855. The trustees of the property in 1881 were James Stewart, James M. Stewart, John B. Smith, Samuel Smith, William Davis, and Thomas Mitchell. At the same time the elders were Hugh A. Jackson, James Smith, and David McAlevy. The latter office has also been filled by Alexander Thompson, Samuel Mitchell, Robert Huey, William D. Black, George M. McAlevy, and Robert Fleming. In the history of Barree township may be read a full account of the Shaver's Creek Church, from which it will be seen that in its relation to that part of the congregation worshiping in Jackson the preaching-place has become more important than the mother-church. The last few years services have been regularly maintained in Jackson, and preaching only occasionally at Manor Hill. There were about sixty members in the congregation, and a Sabbath-school is maintained in Jackson under the superintendence of James Smith, which had a good attendance in 1881.
Among the ministers of the old Shaver's Creek Church, in the order named, from 1790 to the present time, have been the Revs. John Johnston, James Johnston, Matthew Stevens, Samuel Wilson, David Sterritt, Richard Curran, Samuel Hill, Moses Floyd, John C. Wilhelm, W. W. Campbell, and since October, 1878, the Rev. William Prideaux.
The Ennisville Methodist Episcopal Church. - Among those who adhered to the Methodist Church at an early day were members of the Oaks, Miller, Green, Smith, and Chaney families, who had their pastoral service from the Huntingdon, and later from the Manor Hill Circuit. About 1830 a plain frame meeting-house was built near Ennisville, which was used as a place of worship by the Methodists of this part of the county until the present Ennisville Church was erected to afford greater accommodations.
It was built in 1865, at a cost of six thousand dollars, and was dedicated in November of that year, by the Rev. Dr. Pershing, of Pittsburgh. The material is brick, and the size forty by sixty feet. The building committee was composed of Joseph Ohurn, Joseph Jackson, Asbury Oaks, James Oaks, John M. Smith, Matthew Miller, and William Randolph. The house has been kept in good condition, and is one of the most inviting country churches in the northern part of the county. The board of trustees in 1881 were John M. Smith, A. W. Oaks, J. H. Oaks, William Randolph, D. S. Cunningham, S. C. Smith, Wesley Thompson, and J. E. Martin. About one hundred members worship at Ennisville, forming three classes, led by W. S. Smith, William Randolph, and Washington Randolph.
The present pastoral service is by Ennisville Circuit, which was formed in 1872, to embrace Ennisville, Greenwood Furnace, Steffey's School-house, and State Hill, in Jackson township, - and Wesley Chapel, in Miller township. The preachers in charge have been: 1872-73, Rev. Elisha Shoemaker; 1874-75, Rev. Isaac Heckman; 1876, Rev. W. J. Owens; (4) 1877-78, Rev. W. A. Stephens; 1879-81, Rev. W. A. Clippinger. At Ennisville is the parsonage of the circuit, built in 1875, and valued at thirteen hundred dollars, and the church itself stands on an acre of ground, a part of which serves as a place for interment. The class at State Hill numbers twenty-six members, and has Elias Musser as the leader; the Steffey class has twenty-seven members, and J. C. Henderson as leader. Ennisville Sabbath-school has W. S. Smith for Superintendent, and has two hundred members.
Greenwood Furnace Methodist Episcopal Church is a fine, substantial stone edifice, built in 1865, but was not dedicated until September, 1867. The committee having in charge the building was composed of John Randolph, John Withers, Rev. J. A. De Moyer, Joseph Bonslough, and Robert De Armit. The size of the house is thirty-four by forty-eight feet, and the cost was in the neighborhood of six thousand dollars. In 1881 the trustees were W. H. Worner, L. C. Heskitt, Samuel H. Wilson, James Howard, and Joseph Bonslough. At the Furnace are forty-four members, constituting two classes, under the leadership of Samuel Wilson and Robert Bonslough. A Sabbath-school of ninety members has W. H. Worner for superintendent. The appointment belongs to Ennisville Circuit, and prior to 1872 had the same pastoral service as the Manor Hill Church. From Ennisville Circuit have gone as ministers of the Methodist Church the Revs. John Miller, Shadrach Chaney, and William Hirst.
Standing Stone Valley Evangelical Lutheran Church. - This house of worship is several miles northeast from McAlevy's Fort village, and was dedicated Nov. 7, 1849, although built several years earlier. The committee having the work in charge had among its members Nicholas Troutwein, Henry Walburn, and J. Anspach. The house is a plain frame, forty by forty-five feet, and is on an acre of ground which also served for cemetery purposes. At the organization of the congregation Nicholas Troutwein and J. Anspach were chosen elders, and the membership did not exceed a dozen persons. At present there are about ninety members, representing thirty families. The aggregate number belonging has been more than two hundred. In 1881 the church council was composed of Elders William Mitchell and John Baumgartner, Deacons Solomon Troutwein, James Als, Moses McMullen, and James McAlley. A Sunday-school was organized in this locality about 1843, which has been continued since, almost continuously under the superintendence of J. Anspach. The average number attending is about forty.
Since the organization of the church in 1843 the ministers have been the Rev. Daniel Moser, until his death, being assisted part of the time by Robert H. Fletcher and 0. S. Kemper, coming from Pine Grove, in Centre County. Becoming a mission, the Rev. E. Studebaker preached as a missionary about two years. In 1868 it was again supplied by Pine Grove Church, the pastor being Rev. D. Sell. The next supply was the Rev. J. M. Rice, followed in 1872 by the Rev. A. A. Kerlin. In 1874 the latter became the pastor and continued until 1881, the church being connected with Lick Ridge and Mill Creek in forming a charge. Since June, 1881, the pastor has been the Rev. S. Croft.
(1) From Jones' Juniata Valley.
(2) Mrs. Mary Crum, in a statement taken by Jos. Adams, 22d June, 1845, said, "That she remembers hearing her father, Gen. McAlevy, say that when he removed to this county he had no neighbor nigher than ten miles. That he removed his family to the county in a canoe some time about 1768." "That she heard her father say Lytle's (Little's?) was the first mill built in their part of the county."
(3) From a sketch by the Rev. J. M. Adair.
(4) Died on this charge, in the fall of 1876.
Copyright © 1996-2011, All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 1996-2004 Ken Boonie & contributors
Copyright © 2005-2010 Judy Banja & contributors
Copyright © 2011 Josie Baughman & contributors