Little Beaver Township,
Lawrence County, Pa History
This township, one of the thirteen original townships of Lawrence County, has an area of about 11,400 acres, and is one of the most prosperous in the county. The soil is well adapted to agriculture, being fertile and productive, while the mineral resources of the township are extensive and valuable. There are numerous streams affording abundant water-power, the principal of which are the Little Beaver Creek, with the branch joining it just above old Enon Village, and Beaver Dam Run, which flows through the northeastern portion of the township, and joins the Little Beaver near the line of Big Beaver Township. The power on the Little Beaver is quite extensive, and mills were built upon it very soon after the first settlements.
Little Beaver Township was originally timbered with a magnificent growth of oak, hickory, maple, poplar, and various kinds of valuable forest trees. Much of it has been destroyed, and seemingly in a wanton and careless manner, as if the supply were supposed to be inexhaustible. The need of it is now felt in many portions, although the township still contains a fair acreage of timber, at present most valuable to its inhabitants.
The stream called Beaver Dam Run was so named because the beavers had built dams across it. These animals were plentiful when the first settlements were made, and the Indians and whites trapped large numbers of them, but they soon disappeared before the advance of the settlers.
Little Beaver contains the two villages of Enon Valley (old and new) and the old town of Newburg. During the days of stage-coach travel, Old Enon and Newburg were thriving villages, but owing to the changes wrought by steam have not fulfilled their early promise.
The Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway, formerly the Ohio and Pennsylvania Railway, was completed to Enon Valley about 1850-51, and is now the great transportation line of the country.
The Pennsylvania Population Company early got possession of the land in this township, and each settler was entitled to one-half the tract upon which he settled, free of cost.
The first actual settlement by whites in the township was made early in 1796, by a company of men who had been out the year previous and made improvements. Some of them now have descendants living on the old homesteads. They chose the finest sites in the township, generally in the valley of the Little Beaver Creek. They called themselves the "Settlers of '96." Among the men forming this company were John and Samuel Sprott, John Beer, James McCowin and William Robison, and possibly Phillip Aughenbaugh, Andrew Moore and others, in all about twelve or fifteen men.
The Sprotts were from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Samuel Sprott settled on a farm in the northwest part of the township, where some of his descendants are yet living. John Sprott settled on the farm where Robert and Thomas Sprott now, or recently, lived, on the 17th day of February, 1796. Mr. Sprott brought his wife with him, and their son Robert was born on the place on the 18th of July, 1796, he being the first white child born in the township. He lived on the old farm all his life, and was never farther away from home than Pittsburg. John Sprott was a military officer of western Pennsylvania during the Indian troubles after the Revolution. His principal duty was to supply the different military stations on the Ohio, from Logstown down, with men. At the first militia muster at which he ever served, he was elected major, and afterwards lieutenant-colonel and served until he was beyond the regulation military age. He died in the fall of 1839, aged seventy-nine years and ten months.
"In 1798 Mr. Sprott built a grist-mill on his place on Little Beaver Creek. This was the first mill in the township, and was a structure of round logs and contained one run of stone. He procured a number of pine boards on Brady's Run, several miles away, and with them made a bolting-chest. Mr. Sprott was not able to keep up his dam, and the old mill was run but a comparatively short time. It has long been torn away. While it was running, the principal grain ground in it was corn, and people came all the way from Rochester, Beaver County, to this mill. After it was abandoned, no other was ever built upon the site and nothing now remains of it."
John and Samuel Sprott reared each a family of twelve children. John and Samuel were old hunters, and had hunted all over the county some ten years before they settled in it. They kept up their excursions, which extended into Ohio also, until the Indian troubles broke out, and General Anthony Wayne went through with his army. Wild turkeys were so thick they could kill them with clubs, and deer were also extremely plentiful. Of the latter, John Sprott killed as many as sixty during one autumn hunt.
John Beer, another of the "settlers of '96," settled on the farm adjoining John Sprott's on the north, and lived and died upon it.
William Robison, one of the same party, settled in the eastern part of the township.
David Clark, John Savers, James Stevenson and Robert Johnston came to the township about 1797-98. John Wilson came in 1796, and settled in the neighborhood on the farm later owned by John Taylor.
Phillip Aughenbaugh came from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and in the spring of 1796 settled on the farm where his son George subsequently resided. He brought with him his wife and five children-three boys and two girls. He reared eleven children altogether. The birth of the first child born after the family settled took place in the latter part of the year 1797. None of the children born after they settled lived to maturity, except the youngest, Mary Ann, who was born in March, 1805. Mr. Aughenbaugh died in 1844, aged eighty-four years. His wife had died a number of years previously.
Thomas and Joseph Smith were among the early settlers of the township, and located in the northeastern portion.
"The settlers passed through many exciting adventures, and had many hair-breadth escapes from the wild beasts of the forest, but no instance is given of any person ever losing his life by them. The greatest pests were the gray wolves, which roamed in packs through the woods, and ever and anon made descents on the sheep folds and pig pens of the settlers and deprived them of their woolly and porcine inhabitants, without the least scruple. Close watch was kept over the children, lest they might fall a prey to their ravenous appetites; and it was also necessary for the men themselves to keep their rifles in order, and always with them, carrying them even to church."
John Marshall, originally from Ireland, came from Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1796 or 1797, with his wife and one son, to Little Beaver Township, and settled north of the old village of Enon Valley. He died about 1853 or 1854, aged eighty-seven or eighty-eight years. George McKean came about 1800, and settled on a farm a mile southwest of old Enon Valley, where his son, Porter, subsequently resided. David McCarter and Patrick Wallace also came early. James Marshall came out in 1818, and located on the farm subsequently occupied by William Porter. He bought the land of James Stevenson, who had settled it in 1797-98. Mr. Marshall's daughter was afterward married to William Porter, who came from Ireland and located on the place in 1824. William Madden came from Columbia County, Pennsylvania, about 1815. Thomas Silliman came about 1820, and settled in the eastern part of it, where numbers of the Silliman family are yet living.
Rattlesnakes were so numerous in early days that the settlers were obliged to wear leggings, in order to protect their limbs from their fangs. Frequently large numbers of them were killed in one locality in a single day. Their hiding places were among the loose rocks, and in getting out stone for chimneys, or working among the rocks in any way, the hideous and dangerous reptiles were very often found.
Charles Long came from Rockbridge County. Virginia, about 1804-05, bringing two children with him, to a place in Columbiana County, Ohio. A child was born somewhere in the mountain while Mr. Long was on his way with his family, and his wife was left behind, he subsequently going back after her. He had been here about 1801-02, and entered the land on which he settled, paying two dollars per acre, and purchasing an entire section. His son, Charles, lived on a portion of the old farm. The farm now, or recently, owned by Israel Long, in Little Beaver, was purchased by his father, of the Pennsylvania Population Company's agent, Enoch Marvin, that is, one hundred acres of it. The other hundred Mr. Long purchased of a man named Andrew Johnston, who had probably settled it. The location is exceedingly fine, being on a gradually sloping hill, and commanding a fine view of the territory around, in every direction, except toward the west, where a belt of timber along the State line shuts it off. Mr. Long improved the place into a fine property.
Ezekiel Creighton came from the Valley of Turtle Creek, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, about 1810, and located on the property later owned by Mr. Wurtzel. He served three months as a volunteer during the Whisky Insurrection of 1794.
Robert Andrews, Charles Rainey and William Miller were early settlers in the township. Miller settled on a branch of the Little Beaver, and built a mill. Andrews had a farm north of the one settled by Samuel Sprott. Rainey's farm was next north of Andrews' and Miller's next north of Rainey's. These were all in the northwestern part of the township.
"James McCowin came originally from Maryland and located in Washington County, Pennsylvania. In 1795 he was out with the Sprotts and others, making improvements on claims, and in 1796 he came again, this time bringing his family, consisting of his wife and two children. In the first place he stopped below Darlington, Beaver County, where he stayed a year or two, and then came to the farm in Little Beaver Township, Lawrence County-the old homestead now being owned by his descendants. The old house, built on the place in 1795, stood at the west end of William McCowin's present residence. It was a hewed-log structure, two stories high, originally roofed with clapboards, which afterwards gave place to shingles. This was the first house on the place. Mr. McCowin had four hundred acres in his farm, located a mile east of the present station of Enon Valley. He was the father of eleven children."
A man named Williams, popularly known as "Onion" Williams, built a grist mill on the Little Beaver Creek, near the old village of Enon Valley, about 1801-2. It was a log mill, had two run of stone, and was the second mill in the township. Some time afterward a man named Woodruff built a grist mill on the same stream, some distance east of Enon Valley, and Jacob Shoop built one about a mile east of town, also on the Little Beaver. Nothing is left of any of these old mills.
Samuel Andrews came originally from Ireland, and settled first in Center County, Pennsylvania, where he lived some thirty years. About 1820 he came to Beaver County, and located on a farm about two miles from Enon Valley, Lawrence County, lately owned by Arthur Bradford, and still within the limits of Beaver County. His son, John, married Elizabeth Harnit in 1822. Her father, Samuel Harnit, was the first settler on the ground where Enon Valley Station now stands.
A schoolhouse was built of round logs, in the year 1800, on the piece of land subsequently owned by John Scott. John Boyles was probably the first teacher. Other log-cabin schoolhouses were erected in the neighborhood, and used until 1834, when the free school law was passed, and new buildings erected.
A schoolhouse of round logs was built in the southwest part of the township as early as 1807-08, Joshua Hartshorn being probably the first teacher. "Master and pupils all played ball, the old-fashioned game, in which, in order to put a person out who was running bases, he must be "patched" or stuck, with the ball while between bases. In those days buckskin pants were worn, and they retained the marks made by the ball for some time. Some of them were fairly mottled by the numerous 'patches' they had received, and a person whose buckskins showed the least number of spots was considered the best player. It took an active person to dodge the ball, for they were all practical in the art of throwing, and seldom missed their mark. They were not particular, either, about 'sending the ball in' slowly."
The number of schools in Little Beaver Township in 1908 was six, with an enrollment of 121 pupils. The total expenditures for the year for school purposes were $3,302.24, of which $1,885 was paid to eight teachers, for an average term of seven months taught.
The pioneer settler in this place was Bryce McGeehan, who came to the township about 1798-99, and occupied the tract which was afterward the farm of John Sampson. In 1799 Mr. McGeehan planted a few apple trees, which Major Edward Wright had given him. Major Wright settled in North Beaver Township. Mr. McGeehan was a prominent man among the early settlers. He took an active part in organizing the Bethel United Presbyterian Church, of North Beaver Township, and was one of its first elders.
Mr. McGeehan's son, James, laid out a few lots and called the place McGeehansburg, but it was afterwards changed to Newburg, which name it still retains. This town was on the old stage route, and was at one time a lively place, but its glory has long departed. "The long band of iron which connects the East with the West, and passes through the southern portion of the township, proved a deadly enemy to stage coach travel, and with the decline of the stage line, Newburg saw her sun set, and her bright future flicker and go out in darkness, and transfer itself to the rising station of Enon Valley. Where erst the crack of the driver's lash resounded, and the merry notes of the horn were heard, are seen no more the well-filled coaches, spanking teams, and the bustle attendant upon the 'arrivals' and 'departures' and 'changes' which were so common fifty or more years ago."
James Mountain, who had the only shoe shop in 1877, came with his uncle, David Ritchie, to the neighborhood about 1820. His father went out from Allegheny County during the War of 1812, and died while in the service.
William Murphy, John Powell and others have carried on blacksmith shops at different periods.
In the fall of 1855 a postoffice, called "Marvin," was established here, the first postmaster being Joseph S. Williams. At present there is no postoffice at the place.
Newburg is located in the northern portion of the township, in the midst of a fine farming country, and all around it are excellent improvements. "The land is high and rolling, and the country around affords a beautiful panoramic spectacle, with its hills and valleys, neat residences and comfortable outbuildings, fine groves, silver streams, and well-kept fields, and in the summer season must be truly a pleasing picture to look upon. Western Pennsylvania is remarkable for beautiful scenery, and Little Beaver Township, though possessing little of the rugged outline found in other parts of the country, still has its beautiful peculiarities in every section.
ENON VALLEY (OLD TOWN).
This village was laid out into lots in 1838 by Enoch Marvin, who was the agent of the Pennsylvania Population Company. Mr. Marvin had considerable property in the neighborhood, including the site of the village and the farm lately owned by Thomas G. Dalzell. The brick house on Mr. Dalzell's place was built by Marvin, who died there in 1840.
Just north of the village the two branches of Little Beaver Creek unite, and from this circumstance the town is said to derive its name. Josiah M. C. Caskey named the place, the name interpreted meaning the "Valley of Many Waters." There are other versions as to the origin of the name, but this is the most plausible. The first lot was purchased by John Martin, who built a frame house upon it.
Mr. Marvin sold the lots in order to induce mechanics to settle at the place. He furnished the necessary logs to be used in building, and Robert Sprott sawed them into lumber at his mill, and thus the village was gradually built up.
The first store was opened by the Taylor brothers, before there was any village, and John S. McCoy built the next one, which is still standing. William P. Alcorn had a store in the same building after McCoy had left it.
John Crowl was the first blacksmith. Philip N. Guy, a native of Wayne Township, is now conducting a blacksmith shop here, and is very popular. James A. McCowin, also of an old county family, is successfully engaged in this business. Samuel King, David Smith and others formerly had wagon shops, while Robert Moore owned the first shoe shop. John Roof kept the first tailor shop, and Frank McLean and others worked at the business also. John Martin had a cabinet shop at an early day. Harness and saddle shops have also been carried on, William Imboden being now engaged in that business here. His brother, Michael Imboden, is now proprietor of a shoe store on Main Street, and also of a large general store on Vine Street. Andrew K. Robertson also keeps a good general store. His parents were natives of Scotland. Another prosperous general store is kept by McNees & Wolf (Elmer E. McNees and Milton J. Wolf), they purchasing the business from N. S. Nicely. Barney T. Gealy has a lumber yard and planing mill and is doing a prosperous business. He purchased the plant in 1893. The American Hotel is a popular hostelry, kept by H. G. Gilbert, who purchased it of Philip Fisher in 1903. Under his capable management it has largely increased its prestige. The Mt. Air Elgin Butter Company is a prosperous concern turning out 400 pounds of butter per day. Emmet W. Dungan is manager. The Enon Valley Telephone Company, of which O. I. Riddle is president and manager, furnished good local service in this now important branch of public utilities. Mr. Riddle has been at the head of the concern since it was organized in 1906.
A postoffice was established here in 1830, before the town was laid out, J. M. C. Caskey being the first postmaster. This office was established on the old stage line between Beaver, Pa., and Cleveland, Ohio, running through Petersburg and Youngstown. Old Enon was a changing-station on the line, and was well known to travelers over it. Previous to the War of 1812 this was made a postal route, and the mail was carried over it on horseback until the stage line went into operation. At that time the nearest postoffice was at Darlington, Beaver County, five miles away. In order to accommodate the settlers about Enon, John Beer made a box and set it upon a post near his house, and made arrangements with the postmaster at Darlington to have the carrier drop the mail into it for the families living in the neighborhood, and that was done, thus saving a five-mile trip to the postoffice.
The Little Beaver Presbyterian Church was organized about 1834-35, and a brick edifice built, which has since been torn down. The members had previously held meetings in connection with the congregation at Darlington, which was organized at a very early day. A frame church was built in the summer of 1873. The ground on which the old church stood was donated by Enoch Marvin, and that occupied by the cemetery was given by John Beer, Esq., whose wife was the first person buried in it, her death occurring in the fall of 1797. The first regular pastor who had charge of this congregation was Rev. Robert Dilworth, who continued to minister until nearly the time of his death, which occurred about 1869-70. The next pastor was Rev. Mr. Miller, who stayed three or four years. After him came the Rev. Robert S. Morton.
In July, 1873, a portion of the congregation went to Enon Valley Station and organized a church there. Since the Little Beaver church was organized, a Sabbath-school has been kept up most of the time during the summers.
ENON VALLEY (NEW TOWN).
This place was first settled by Samuel Harnit, who came from near McKeesport, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, first to what is now Beaver County, and in 1800 to the site of Enon, where he took up one hundred acres of Population land. Mr. Harnit brought his wife and three children-two sons and one daughter-with him. He built a log house, which stood on the site of the present town hall. Two children were born in the family after they came to the township-a daughter, Elizabeth, January 21, 1802, and a son, Samuel, February 9, 1804. A grandson of Mrs. Harnit, also named Samuel, went to Illinois, and was for a number of years warden of the State penitentiary at Joliet. His brother, Joseph, went also to that State and engaged in the practice of medicine. Elizabeth Harnit was married to John Andrews, and they took up their residence at Enon. Mr. Harnit was killed in 1804 by the caving in of a coal bank at which he was in the habit of procuring coal. He was a blacksmith, and built a shop near his house, which stood until the town plat was surveyed.
The first blacksmith in the new town was Patrick Morgan, who worked in a shop which stood on Henry Wolf's property. David Smith built a house, and in one end of it had the first wagon shop in the place. Before the town was laid out, the only houses standing on the land were Samuel Harnit's old log house, then occupied by his widow, Mrs. Barbara Harnit, a frame house close by, occupied by her son, Nathaniel Harnit, and a frame house occupied by Samuel Harnit, the latter building on the south side of the railroad track.
The first house after the town was laid out was built by John Spear, in one part of which he opened afterward the second store in the place.
The Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railway was finished to Enon about the fall of 1851, and during that fall and the ensuing spring the station building, the St. Lawrence Hotel, and Ramage & McQuiston's store-the first one in the town-were built.
Samuel Harnit and William McGeorge owned the land on which the town plat was laid out, and Mr. Harnit sold a quantity of it to H. P. Mueller, who laid out the first lots, probably the next summer after the road was built.
R. C. Moore built and opened the first shoe shop. William McKean was probably the first tailor.
H. P. Mueller built a sawmill about 1853 on the south side of the track, and operated it until 1855, when it was burned down.
A distillery was built about 1858-59, and run by Joseph Worley. The building is yet standing, but the machinery has long since been sold and removed.
A planing-mill was started by David Preston & Bro., about 1870, and a sawmill, built by the same parties, about 1869. A steam grist mill was built by Miller & Whitmire. Among the industrial activities are the round-house and repair shops for the eastern division and branches of the P., Ft. W. & C. Railway, which employ about twenty or more hands.
A brickyard was worked at one time near the Preston sawmill, by Wilson, Herr & Co.
The population of the place is about 500, including a large proportion of Germans.
For some years after the place was laid out, a brick schoolhouse, which stood between the two towns, was attended by pupils from both. In 1857-58, the frame building occupied by William Reed & Co. for a store-room, was built for a schoolhouse, and used for a number of years. A brick, two-story schoolhouse was built about 1870, and, owing to the increasing number of pupils, became inadequate for the purpose for which it was designed. There are now three schools in the borough, and the number of school children in attendance in 1908 was ninety. There were three teachers employed, at a cost of $1,220, and the amount expended for school purposes was $1,693.19. The average number of months taught is seven.
About a year after the town was laid out, the postoffice was removed to it from the old town, and John Spear appointed the first postmaster.
The first physician in the place was Dr. A. P. Dutcher, who lived between the two towns. Dr. McPherson afterward had an office in the new town, and lived where Dr. Dutcher had resided. Other members of the profession have since practiced here.
Enon Lodge No. 916, I.O.O.F., was organized November 9, 1875, with a membership of twenty-seven, which has since largely increased. The first officers were: John O. Caskey, N.G.; John Sloan, V.G.; R. P. McCurley, secretary; E. Herwig, treasurer. The lodge room is in the large building in the north part of the town, in which are located the town hall and two store rooms.
The Christian Church of Enon was completed March 11, 1873, and dedicated the 22nd of the same month. An organization of this society was completed as early as 1831, with William McCready, Ephraim Phillips, Euphemia Nicely, Nathaniel Harnit, John McCready, John Taylor and Josiah M. C. Caskey, as members. Rev. Mr. Van Horn preached to them about that time, also Rev. Mr. Applegate and others. A few years later the society disbanded, and had no organization subsequently until 1859, when a reorganization was effected by Rev. Mr. Winfield. He was followed by Rev. William Hillock, and next came the Rev. John Phillips, who stayed two or three years. Since then, Revs. Ephraim Phillips, S. B. Teegarden, and others, have had charge. Rev. J. M. David was the first pastor after the church was built.
Enon Presbyterian Church was organized about the 1st of July, 1873, with eighty-one members. It was formed from a portion of the Little Beaver congregation at old Enon Valley. Rev. D. H. Laverty was installed as its first pastor, in August, 1874. A Sabbath-school was organized in March, 1874; its first superintendent was Captain E. L. Gillespie. The church, a neat, commodious frame building, was erected in 1873. In December of that year a 750-pound Meneeley bell was placed in the belfry.
The Methodist Episcopal Church at Enon was organized in 1857-58, with about forty members. Before this meetings had been held in the schoolhouse, which stood between the two towns. The church was built before an organization was completed, and Rev. Samuel Krause (or Crouse) preached occasionally to them. The first pastor after the church was built was Rev. William H. Tibbals. A Sabbath-school has been kept up since the organization of the church. Its first superintendent was probably George Adams.
Source: History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1908,