township, formerly a part of Mercer County, was erected from the eastern
part of Neshannock Township during the winter of 1859-60. It comprises
an area of about 9,800 acres, and is rich in both agricultural and
mineral resources. It is watered by the Big Neshannock Creek and its
tributaries, on all of which there is extensive water power. The
principal branch of the Neshannock in the township is East Brook, or
what was formerly known as Huttebaugh or Hettenbaugh Run. On this stream
there are a number of dams, located within a comparatively short
distance of each other.
surface of the township is more or less hilly and broken, owing to the
many streams which flow through it, and the summits of the highest hills
or ridges are probably 300 feet above the Neshannock Creek. The creek
forms the boundary between the townships of Hickory and Neshannock. The
New Castle and Franklin Railway, now operated by the Pennsylvania
Company, passes along the left bank of the creek, until it reaches East
Brook Station, where it crosses to the other bank. "Along the creek
is found some most romantic scenery. In places the channel is narrowed
down to a rocky gorge, with precipitous overhanging piles or sandstone
frowning upon the valley, their sides and summits covered with a dense
growth of hemlock, and an occasional gloomy-looking ravine, affording
greater solemnity and loneliness, which is hardly surpassed in its
effect anywhere. The rock is sandstone, and generally piled up in thin
and broken strata, caused by-some mighty upheaval, although in a few
localities the strata are thicker and afford very good building stone.
They rest usually on a lower stratum of shale, or slaty fragments,
approaching the coal measures.
are numerous and constant; timber is abundant; desirable building sites
are found in almost every locality; the lover of the beautiful in nature
can have his most exquisite taste gratified; the manufacturer finds
every facility for promoting his business in its various branches; the
health of the community is excellent; schools and churches of the best
character serve to immense advantage in furthering the social, moral and
intellectual standing of an already prosperous and refined people;
numerous and costly improvements evince the taste and refinement of the
inhabitants; the student of geology and history finds his research amply
rewarded; and, taking into consideration these manifold advantages, with
others we have not space to mention, the township may be classed as one
of the first in the county.
of an excellent quality has been found in the township, but the vein is
quite thin, and on that account chiefly, not much worked. Some, however,
is mined for local use, and a considerable quantity has been taken to
New Castle, the glassworks at Croton formerly making use of it. This was
obtained from a bank just outside the city limits on the Harlansburg
ore of a good quality has been found in paying quantities along the
Neshannock Creek, but the same disadvantages attend its development
which are met with in opening the coal veins, or at least some of them.
It lies generally close to the surface, and in taking it out the land is
broken to a greater or less extent, rendering it unfit for agricultural
purposes. On account of these drawbacks, comparatively little has been
done toward bringing out in full the resources of the township in this
township contains the village of Eastbrook, and the station of the same [p.
243] name on the New Castle and Franklin railway. The railway was
completed in 1874, and affords ample facilities for shipping the
products of the neighborhood, both agricultural and mineral.
a few localities limestone is quarried, but is not of sufficiently good
quality to be used as a building stone. A lime kiln was put in operation
a number of years ago, a short distance from the city limits of New
Castle, on the Harlansburg road. The stone has a bluish cast, and is by
no means equal to that found in greater quantities in other portions of
the United States. It has been used for fluxing purposes in blast
is found largely throughout the township, and is utilized for building
purposes, and also ground up and used in the manufacture of window
glass. The sandstone deposit forms the principal geologic foundation of
first coal-bank opened in the vicinity was worked about 1830. A
coal-bank was opened on the Harlansburg road, by Michael
Ryan in 1870, on land belonging to Anthony
Henderson. The vein averaged about two feet in thickness, and was
largely used by the Croton Glass Works.
considerable number of persons have been engaged in the business, and a
few banks have been worked out. The coal veins increase in thickness as
they trend northward, and reach the maximum thickness somewhere in the
neighborhood of Stoneboro, Mercer County. They also dip to the south on
about the same grade as the beds of the different streams.
the year 1798, Robert Gormley, an immigrant
from Ireland, settled on the farm now owned by John
H. Gormley. He had first worked for a while east of the
mountains. While in the eastern part of the State, he witnessed a
transaction between a Revolutionary soldier and a person to whom the
soldier sold a tract of land, donated him by the State for his services
during the War. The price paid for the land was a quart of whisky, the
hero of Revolutionary fields considering that worth more than the land,
which he said was "somewhere out West, but didn't know exactly
where." The tract thus cheaply disposed of embraced 500 acres.
Gormley also purchased 500 acres, which was divided among his brothers, John
and Thomas, who had followed him from Ireland. William
Patton, and himself-making 120 acres each. The price paid was
fifty cents per acre. Schoolhouse No. 5 is located on a part of the
tract. Mr. Gormley built a hewed log house, 20 by 22 feet, in 1804, and
it was considered a very remarkably fine house for the time. It stood
until the fall of 1869.
Gormley was married in 1807-08, to Sarah
Hammond, of Washington County, and John
Gormley married her sister, Elizabeth.
The first birth in the Gormley family was probably that of Martha,
daughter of John Gormley, about 1809. The
first deaths were also in that family, two sons and a daughter dying
during the year 1822.
first road through the neighborhood was what is known as the Harlansburg
road. Previous to its being laid out, the only highways were zig-zag
paths through the woods, following the best route they could around
hills and across streams-the latter always being forded. Grain was
carried to mill on pack-saddles, and Mr. Gormley often
"packed" corn from Beavertown, where he paid a dollar a bushel
for it. Wheat could not be raised to any extent for some time, on
account of the great number of squirrels, deer, "ground hogs,"
and other animals which came into the fields and destroyed the crops.
were so tame that they would come into a wheat field in broad daylight,
and had to be repeatedly driven off. Wild turkeys were also exceedingly
plentiful, and in the fall of the year created sad havoc among the
fields of buckwheat. [p. 244]
was carried on according to somewhat primitive methods. The first metal
plow in the neighborhood was owned by Francis
Irvin (or Irwin), and Robert Gormley
had the second one. The plows in use before these had wooden
mould-boards, and a paddle was carried to clean the plow at the end of
every furrow. The harrows also had wooden teeth, and both plows and
harrows were rude and clumsy affairs, compared with the vastly improved
implements of the present, although they answered their purpose and
their owners were content, knowing of no better ones.
Gormley died March 26, 1858, at the ripe old age of eighty-six
years, and sleeps by the side of Sarah, his
wife, in the old Neshannock graveyard, his wife having died on the 18th
of June, 1853, at the age of sixty-five years. Though sixteen years her
husband's junior, she made him a loving and exemplary wife for
forty-four years. John Gormley died
December 27, 1848, aged seventy-nine years, and his wife, Elizabeth,
followed him March 27, 1858, aged seventy-four.
Patton was originally from Ireland, and settled first in Center
County, Pennsylvania. From there he came to Lawrence (then Mercer)
County, and settled on a portion of the Robert
Gormley tract. When he came from Center County, he had a horse
and an ox harnessed together to haul his goods. Mr. Patton and the
Gormleys afterward donated ten acres each to Thomas
Speer, in order to get him to settle near them. Mr. Speer was
from South Carolina, and came to Hickory Township about 1805-6. He lived
to a very old age, and died within a few years past.
time during the year 1802 Samuel McCreary came
from the Buffalo Valley, in Union County, in the eastern part of the
State, and located on the east side of Neshannock Creek, about two miles
northwest of the present village of East-brook. He was the first settler
on the place, and made the first improvements. He built a round log
house, and lived in it with his wife and one child. Enoch
McCreary, who was but two years of age when his father came to
the county. Mr. McCreary's brother, Thomas
accompanied him, and they each took up a tract of one hundred acres.
Shortly after their settlement Thomas McCreary died,
and his was consequently one of the first deaths in the neighborhood. Samuel
McCreary was out several times to Erie during the War of 1812-15.
He eventually became the owner of some 600 acres of land in the vicinity
of the place where he settled, chiefly lying along the Neshannock Creek.
He died shortly before the breaking out of the Southern rebellion. The
McCreary were originally from Ireland, emigrating from that country at
some period subsequent to the War for Independence between the American
Colonies and Great Britain. He was the father of ten children. The first
birth in his family after he came to Lawrence County was that of his
daughter, Betsey, about 1804. In 1806,
another daughter, Sarah, was born, and in
1808, a son, Thomas.
Simonton, who lived for a number of years in Hickory Township,
settled originally on the Shenango River, in Neshannock Township. He was
out during the War of 1812, and went to Erie. He died about 1853-54, at
an advanced age. John C. Wallace, also a
soldier of 1812, having served as captain of militia at that time, was
an early settler in the southeast part of Hickory Township. [p.
Baker settled near Mr. Wallace, in the southeast part of Hickory
Township, and was a soldier of 1814. He lived in the county in the
neighborhood of fifty years, a part of which time he resided in New
McDowell came from Westmoreland County early, and lived for
several years with his uncle, Thomas Fisher. He
afterwards located in the northwest part of Hickory Township.
1812-15, George Hinkson came from Chester
County, and located in Washington County, where he stayed until about
1817, when he removed to Belmont County, Ohio. There he lived for eleven
years, or until 1828, when he again packed up his worldly goods and came
back to the Keystone State, this time locating in Hickory Township, on a
500-acre tract, later owned by his son, Aaron
Hinkson, and others.
the lands in the township are "donation lands," and the fact
that the territory was not settled until a comparatively late day is
attributable to that circumstance. But few of the original patentees
ever located in the county, and the land at that time was deemed too far
away to be reached. It was not, however, until the completion of the
Erie Extension Canal that the growth of any part of the western portion
of the State became marked; but since that time the development has
steadily and generally gone forward.
Casteel, a veteran of the second war with Great Britain, came
from Allegheny County in 1816, and located near the Neshannock Creek,
southeast of the present Eastbrook Station. By his industry and
frugality he amassed considerable property, and when over eighty years
of age, the sound of martial music, or the strains produced by a more
pretentious band of brass instruments, would awaken the old military
fire within him, and recall to his mind the scenes and incidents during
the strife of more than sixty years before.
Glass, John McKnight and John Stunkard came
from near Pittsburg in the year 1825, and purchased a 500-acre tract.
The McKnights and Stunkards still reside on the old homestead. These
persons were the first actual settlers on the tract, although two or
three squatters had been there before them. One of these squatters was a
roving character named Chair, who did
little else than hunt.
>>> Continued >>>
Source: Hickory Township, " 20th Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens,
Hon. Arron L. Hazen, editor, (Chicago, Illinois: Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., 1908),
Transcribed and submitted by Stephen Fisher