Lawrence County, Pa History
township forms a part of what was one of the original townships of Mercer
County, of the same name, in 1805. The territory at that time included at
least three of the present townships in both Mercer and Lawrence Counties,
embracing over one hundred square miles. It was one of the thirteen
original townships of Lawrence County, and then included the whole of
Hickory Township, with portions of Union and Pollock Townships, the latter
now included in the city of New Castle. The present township includes an
area of about eighteen square miles, or 11,520 acres. It is bounded on the
north by Wilmington and Pulaski Townships; on the west by Pulaski,
Mahoning and Union; on the east by Hickory Township, arid on the south by
the city of New Castle and Union Township. It is comparatively level in
the central and northern portions, but more broken and abrupt as it
approaches the Shenango and Neshannock Rivers. There are no streams of
much magnitude. On the west side of the township are Fisher's and Camp
runs, and on the east are two small creeks flowing into the Neshannock.
There are considerable bottom-lands on the Shenango and Neshannock Rivers,
which are rich and productive. Numerous springs abound in all parts of the
township, and the water is excellent. Of minerals it has a large share.
The greater portion of the township is underlaid with coal, which has been
extensively mined in the central portions, particularly in the
neighborhood of Coal Centre. Fisher's Run rises in the coal region, and
its waters are colored red by oxydes from its source to its mouth.
clay abounds, and on the Watson property a pottery was successfully worked
for many years. Sandstone is very abundant along the valleys of the two
rivers, and a stratum of limestone is found in the southern portion of the
township. Iron ore is also abundant. Brick clay is found in many places.
The workable coal lies about fifty feet below the surface, and is about
four feet in thickness. The northern margin of the coal lies under a
stratum of slate rock about twenty feet thick, while the south end of the
basin underlies a stratum of sandstone of about the same thickness.
second stratum of coal lies about sixty feet below the first, and has a
thickness of some three feet. This has been worked very little. Lying
between the two is a very pure vein of coal, but only about eighteen
inches in thickness.
limestone formation lies at about the same elevation as the coal. A thin
stratum of this stone at the bottom underlies the iron ore.
coal lies in a nearly horizontal position with a slight declination to the
southwest. The bottom of the workable vein is somewhat undulating. A
narrow-gauge railway for the transportation of coal runs from New Castle
into the center of this township. The township also produces [p.
257] the iron known as "blue ore," the vein being from
six to eighteen inches in thickness.
is fine water-power up the Neshannock at Jordan's mills, perhaps the best
on that stream. There are no towns or villages of any considerable
importance, with the exception of the mining town of Coal Centre, of which
notice will be found on another page.
improvements are generally good, and there are some very fine residences.
Two of the main roads from New Castle to Mercer pass through this
township; one by way of the Old Shenango Church and New Wilmington, and
the other a mile and a half east, passing through the village of
Fayetteville, in Wilmington township. The last mentioned was the first one
opened, and was traveled extensively until the other was opened, which,
being somewhat shorter, took off much of the travel.
of the first settlers in Neshannock Township was Thomas
Fisher, who came from Westmoreland County, according to the
statements of Rev. Thomas Greer, in November,
1798, in company with David Riley, a young
man then living with Fisher. Each man had a gun and an axe, and a couple
of dogs accompanied them. They encamped the first night in the present
Lawrence County, at a point about four miles above where New Castle now
stands, on Camp Run, near the Shenango River. They constructed a cabin of
poles, and built a fire outside, using the cabin to sleep in, for fear of
the wolves, which were so plenty they were obliged to take their dogs
inside to save them from destruction by the ravenous beasts. It would
appear that after selecting lands in the neighborhood, Fisher and Riley
returned to Westmoreland County, where they staid over winter, and in the
spring of 1799 removed to the valley of the Shenango. They came by way of
the Youhiogheny, Monongahela and Ohio Rivers, and thence up the Beaver
River in canoes, bringing a few effects with them. Mr. Fisher was married,
but had no children. A young woman by the name of Rebecca
Carroll lived with the family, and came with them. Mr. Fisher also
had a sister, who either came at the same time or some time afterwards,
and remained with them until her death. Mr. Fisher purchased several farms
in the vicinity, and improved them more or less, raising several crops
without fencing. He brought along quite a number of fruit trees, which he
planted. The Indians were quite plenty in those days, but were peaceable
and disturbed no one. About 1808 or 1810 Mr. Fisher sold his property on
"Camp Run," where he first settled, to Rev.
William Young, and purchased land about three miles above New
Castle, on a small stream now known as "Fisher's Run," and
erected a saw-mill, and afterwards a gristmill, about forty rods from the
Shenango River, at the place where the "Harbor" road crosses the
run. The exact date of the building of these mills is not known, but it
was somewhere from 1806 to 1810.
years after their settlement Mr. Fisher and his wife started on a journey
to visit friends in Westmoreland county, and Mrs. Fisher died suddenly on
the road. They were alone, and Mr. Fisher "waked" the corpse in
a waste-house by the roadside all night. After his wife's death two nieces
kept house for him. Their names were McDowell. He
lived on this place until his death, which occurred February 28, 1848, at
the age of eighty-four years. He was found dead in his bed and was buried
in the little cemetery at King's Chapel. He was a very pleasant and
affable man, and a general favorite in the community. Before his death he
gave David Riley and Rebecca
Carroll, the latter of whom afterwards married Samuel
Farrer, each one hundred acres of land.
Fisher, a nephew of Thomas, was born
at Ligonier, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in 1788. In 1809 he
removed to what is now Lawrence County. He took [p.
258] charge of his uncle's saw-mill, and operated it for some
years. His son, Thomas Fisher, the 3d, named
for his grand-uncle, was born at the mills in 1809, a short time after he
came. Mr. Fisher was a practical surveyor, and had set his compass and
planted his "Jacob's staff" in all parts of Lawrence County. John
Fisher raised a company and took it to the field during the war of
1812-15. About the year 1817 he and his uncle Thomas erected a fuling and
carding-mill at Eastbrook, now in Hickory Township, on the "Hettenbaugh
Run," which was operated until about 1827. Captain John Fisher lived
at Eastbrook until his death in 1841.
Pearsons were early settlers in this
township. The family is a very extensive one, and were originally Quakers,
who came over from England with the celebrated William
Penn in 1682. John Pearson,
grandfather of James, Thomas, Charles, Johnson and
George Pearson, together with his son
George made a visit to the West in the fall of 1803, coming all the way
from Darby, seven miles from Philadelphia, in Delaware County, where they
resided, on horseback, through Washington, Beaver and Mercer Counties, and
returning by way of Pittsburg. The old gentleman purchased altogether, in
what is now Neshannock Township, about one thousand acres of land. It was
most probably during this visit that the old gentleman donated about two
acres of land for church and burial purposes where the United Presbyterian
Church stands. He granted the land upon conditions that it should be well
kept and substantially fenced. The old gentleman never resided in Lawrence
County, but made frequent visits to his lands, which included the coal
lands on the Peebles' farm and a two
-hundred-acre tract some two miles farther north, where Bevan
Pearson first settled about 1804. The latter afterwards removed to
Mercer, where he held several offices in the new county. George
Pearson afterwards settled on two hundred acres of his father's
land. He soon afterwards purchased a tract containing one hundred acres of
one McClaren, and soon after purchased
another tract of the same amount of another McClaren. The McClarens were
from Ireland, and settled here at an early day.
George Pearson left this section and lived in
Charleston, S. C., for several years. After his return he married Miss
Sarah Reynolds, daughter of James Reynolds,
who was also a Quaker. It is customary among these people to publish the
intentions of a couple wishing to marry in the "meeting" for
some time previous to the marriage. In this instance there was no Quaker
"meeting" within many miles, and the only roads were bridle
paths, and so the young couple made a virtue of necessity and employed Ezekiel
Sankey, Esq., father of Ezekiel and Daniel
Sankey, to perform the ceremony, without waiting for preliminaries,
and the necessary arrangements were soon made and the "twain were
made one flesh" at the house of Jesse Du Shane,
in New Castle. This was about the year 1810. The Quakers in the
eastern part of the State, hearing of this violation of their rules, sent
a deputation to the new settlement to persuade them that they had done a
great wrong, and must confess before "meeting" and have the
ceremony performed a second time, according to Quaker usage. But the young
people concluded they had committed no great fault and so refused to
comply. They were accordingly solemnly read out of the society.
Pearson lived on his farm in this township until
about 1855, when he came to New Castle, where he afterwards died at the
age of ninety-three years. He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and was
out in Captain John Junkin's
Company-"Mercer Blues"-who were with Harrison on the Maumee and
Sandusky Rivers. After his return he was twice called out to Erie. It is
not known whether he held a commission or not, but it is probable. He [p.
259] went once as a substitute for his brother Thomas. He afterward
received a land-warrant for his services, which he located in Hancock
King and his family, from Bellefonte, Centre County, Pennsylvania,
settled in the Fisher neighborhood about 1803. King's Chapel" was
named in his honor, he being one of the prominent members. He raised a
family of seven sons and two daughters.
Riley, heretofore spoken of, lived with Thomas
Fishier until 1807, when he married Sarah
Richards, and improved the farm adjoining Fisher's.
Riley raised two children-a son and daughter. The latter afterwards became
the wife of Rev. Thomas Green. Mr. Riley died
September 18, 1870, aged eighty-five years, and Mrs. Riley on the 20th of
February, 1872, aged ninety-one years. They had lived together sixty-three
years. In their old age they were taken care of by their son-in-law, Mr.
Ferver came to this location from Beaver Falls in 1806. He was a
millwright by trade, and erected one or both of Thomas
Fisher's mills. He married Rebecca Carroll in
1808, and lived on the farm adjoining those of David
Riley and Thomas Fisher until his
death, March 15, 1862. His wife was a member of the Methodist Episcopal
Church for over fifty years. They raised a family of seven children-six
boys and a girl. Rev. William Young came at
an early day, probably about 1806-7. He was a native of Ireland, and came
from Centre County to this township. He was a great preacher of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, a man of talent and a very acceptable minister
among the people. He died in 1829, aged seventy-four years. Robert
McGeary, from Virginia, settled in the township about 1803, and
remained until his death, at the age of ninety-two years. He left a large
and respectable family.
and William Watson, brothers, came from Centre County,
Pennsylvania, and settled in this township about 1806-08, on lots numbers
1854 and 1855. William built the large stone house about 1810-12, and Lot
put up a good brick residence some years later upon his farm adjoining on
the south. For some years after their arrival they lived in log cabins.
They were both out in the War of 1812. Lot Watson,
son of William, held a State appointment on the Philadelphia and Columbia
Railway in 1856. Both the Watsons raised large and respectable families. William
Richards, before mentioned, came, according to Mr.
Green, in 1802, from Centre County, Pennsylvania, with his family,
consisting of his wife and seven children, three sons and four daughters,
and two sons-in-law, and located in the King's Chapel neighborhood, where
the family settled near each other.
Richards was a Revolutionary soldier, and an
exhorter in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a large and
commanding-looking man, and possessed of more than ordinary talent. He
died in 1839. His wife survived him only a short time. They are both
buried in the King's Chapel cemetery. His son-in-law,
Robert Simonton, came with him and lived in the township some
twenty years, when he removed to Neshannock Falls, now in Wilmington
Township, or near there, where he lived until his death, at the age of
about eighty years. He raised a family of five children.
Rea, another son-in-law of Mr. Richards, who also came with him,
was a blacksmith by trade, and settled in the neighborhood, where he
reared the premium family of twenty children, and died at the age of
Greer, father of Rev. Thomas and John Greer,
came originally from County Fermanagh, Ireland, to America in 1804, and
first settled at Noblestown, Allegheny County, about twelve miles from
Pittsburg, on Chartier's Creek. In 1810 he removed to Sewickley Bottom,
where he resided [p. 260] until 1826, when he
again removed to Zelienople, Butler County, Pennsylvania, where he died in
Greer, his second son, settled in Neshannock Township in the fall
of 1821, with his wife and two children. He built a house and moved into
it in March, 1822.
Greer, being a man of good ability and an energetic business man, acquired
a handsome property. He was quite a prominent member of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, and he filled the office of steward at King's Chapel for
many years. He lived with his son, William Y. Greer,
a well-known citizen and business man. His daughter, Mrs.
William Ferver, lived near him. She raised a family of six
children, four sons and two daughters.
Greer, the youngest son, came in 1830, and settled on a small farm
near his brother. He was a blacksmith by trade, and a man of energy and
great industry, and very successful in acquiring property. His children,
three daughters and one son, settled around him. He held several positions
of honor and trust in the Methodist Episcopal Church-was one of the early
class leaders, and was local preacher for twenty-seven years.
Rhienholt, from Germany, settled in the township in 1828. He was a
shrewd son of the "Fatherland" and accumulated property with the
proverbial thrift of the Teuton. He died March 30, 1874, aged seventy-four
years. He raised a family of three sons and five daughters.
Stackhouse and family, accompanied by his son-in-law, Andrus
Chapin and wife, settled in the township in 1834. They were all
members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Mr. Stackhouse died in 1868,
aged ninety-five years. His wife died a short time before. They, like many
other of the early settlers, are buried at King's Chapel. Mr. Chapin died
September 24, 1870, aged sixty-six years. He was twice married, and reared
a large family of children. William Hunt
settled in 1830, bringing his aged mother with him. He raised a family of
four sons and two daughters, and gathered a handsome property around him.
He died in 1851, and is buried at King's Chapel. His family were members
of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Donaldson settled in the township in March,
1819, just after the "big snow" of that winter (1818-19). His
cousin, Isaac Donaldson, came some time
previous to the War of 1812 and was out at Erie during that war. Both the
Donaldsons were from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
Reynolds, from near Hagerstown, Md., came to what is now Taylor
Township, Lawrence county, in 1804, and located near what is now Lawrence
Junction, where he remained about one year, when he removed to Neshannock
Township, and settled on the Neshannock Creek, about four miles above New
Castle, in 1805. He bought a claim of 200 acres. Some time previous to
1811 he purchased the 200-acre tract where the village of Eastbrook now
is, and about 1813 sold it to Thomas Fisher,
1st. He served in the War of 1812, most probably in Captain John Fisher's
company. He returned from the army in feeble health. About 1819 he
purchased a farm on the old county line, two miles east of New Castle, and
removed his family to it. Here he died in 1873, at the age of ninety
years, surviving his wife about five years. This couple reared twelve
children-eight sons and four daughters. When Mr. Reynolds left the old
place in Neshannock Township he rented it for a few years, and then his
sons, John F. and William F., purchased it,
paying the old gentleman $10 per acre for it. John
F. Reynolds built a "still-house" about 1824, and carried
on the business for six or seven years. He afterwards, about 1835, sold
his interest in the property to his brother, and removed to New Castle,
and engaged in the business of tanning with his brother Robert,
but after a short partnership, finding it less profitable than he
anticipated, he [p. 263] sold to Robert
and purchased a farm of ninety-four acres, then in Shenango
Township, afterwards in Pollock Township, and now in the Fifth Ward of the
city of New Castle. Joseph B. always lived in
New Castle, where he held the office of Justice of the Peace. He died
several years ago. Isaac lived on his
father's place, east of New Castle, until his death. Michael,
the twin brother of Joseph, also lived in New
Castle until his death. Peter studied
medicine and practiced on the eastern shore of Maryland. The sisters, Nancy,
Mary, Ann and Christy Ann, are all dead.
Neshannock - Page 2 >>>
Source: "Neshannock 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