Lawrence County, Pa History
When Lawrence County was created, one of the original townships was North Slippery Rock and included what is now Washington, Scott and Plain Grove Townships. Washington and Scott were formed from it, April 13, 1854, the former being erected from the north half, and the latter from the south half, thus abandoning the name "North Slippery Rock" entirely. On the 14th of February, 1855, Plain Grove (or Plaingrove) Township was erected from the eastern portion of Washington and Scott, and, February 15, 1859, Washington Township was enlarged by the addition of narrow strips taken from Plain Grove and Scott, leaving the three townships in their present shape.
Scott Township has an area of about 11,800 acres, most of it valuable farming land, there being very little, if any, waste land in it, although the surface is generally uneven and hilly. It is highly improved and populated with a thrifty and intelligent people, who have ever been among the foremost in the various progressive steps taken for the advancement of the best interests of the county.
Scott Township is watered by Slippery Rock Creek and its tributaries, East Brook or Hettenbaugh Run, Big Run, and numerous small streams, the most of which furnish fine power. Along Slippery Rock Creek, particularly, the power is extensive and has been utilized to some extent, though the mills in the townships have been principally erected on the smaller streams. Hettenbaugh Run rises in Washington Township and empties into Neshannock Creek near Eastbrook Station, being some five miles in length and furnishing power for various mills and factories. Seven dams were constructed in this stream. Big Run takes its rise in Scott Township, and, after a southerly course of two or three miles, turns to the west, and, flowing across a corner of Slippery Rock, and through Shenango Township and the southern part of the city of New Castle, it discharges into the Shenango River. The run also affords considerable power.
A portion of the township is in the "Academy lands," which were granted by the State to the Pittsburg Academy. It is surveyed diagonally to the other lands, and one corner of it extends into Plaingrove Township. The act providing for the sale of the "vacant lands" was passed in 1792, but it was not till 1795-96 that they began to be settled and improved. Something over one-third of the territory in the township, located in the western part, is in the second district "donation lands," and was settled at about the same time as the vacant lands.
The timber of the township was originally abundant and of fine quality. Limestone abounds in considerable quantities along the runs, and crops out in many of the hills, but has never been burned to a great extent, as it is unfit for building purposes. It is also in many places more or less impregnated with iron; quite a thick vein is found in the hill west of Harlansburg, and it is also abundant in places along Hettenbaugh Run. Iron ore is found in numerous places along Slippery Rock Creek and elsewhere, generally in small quantities. It is of the red quality and contains a large percentage of iron. The coal deposits are principally along Hettenbaugh Run, where mining was begun on a comparatively large scale sixty or seventy years ago.
A company called the "Aladdin Oil Company, of New Castle," was formed in the winter of 1876 for the purpose of putting down test wells for oil somewhere in the neighborhood of Harlansburg; but the results were not such as anticipated.
Robert McCaslin came to the county in the neighborhood of the year 1800, and located first near the subsequent site of Neshannock United Presbyterian Church. He bought a 200-acre tract in Scott Township, and two of his sons, Joseph and Samuel, lived upon it.
John Elder was the first settler on the place later known as the Jacob McCracken farm, coming from Bradford County, Pennsylvania, and locating upon it in 1805.
William and John Wilken came to the county early and, for a year or two after, lived on the bank of Neshannock Creek, near the "old forge" just above New Castle, now within the city limits. The latter afterwards came to Harlansburg, about 1816, and his brother and the rest of the family, after moving around for several years from place to place, finally followed him there.
Zachariah Dean came from Huntingdon in 1815 and purchased a 200-acre tract in Scott Township, on which a squatter had erected a log cabin and made a small clearing. The squatter had left prior to Mr. Dean's arrival. Jacob Dean came in 1816, and for a time lived on a portion of this tract.
Prior to 1800, John Shaw located in the township. The farm settled by him he afterward sold in part to Colonel Bernard Hubley, from whose widow the farm was purchased by Robert McFarland in 1822. A part of this farm was purchased by Hugh Wilson, who located upon it in 1806. In 1815 he removed to Shenango Township.
Adam Pisor was one of the first settlers, coming to what is now Scott Township about 1798, locating on the east side of Slippery Rock Creek, on the farm later owned by William Pisor.
William Allison also came early and settled a tract near to Mr. Pisor. Farther down the creek, and on the same (east) side, a numter of the Emerys located, they being the first settlers in that neighborhood.
In the year 1798 William McNees came with his family from Westmoreland County, and settled on Slippery Rock Creek, in the northeast part of the township. He had been out the previous year-1797-and made improvements, afterwards going back for his family. In 1800 Mrs. McNees died, being one of the early deaths in the neighborhood.
Charles Martin received patent to a farm in Scott, dated March 16, 1814, and made the first improvements on the place; in 1815 James and John Martin purchased it.
The farm formerly owned by George Hettenbaugh, in the northeast part of the township, was settled by his father, George Hettenbaugh, Sr., who was the first settler in the present township of Washington. This tract originally comprised 500 acres, and the first improvements were made on it by Mr. Hettenbaugh, about 1821-22, although most of the land in the vicinity had been settled and improved long before.
Hamilton Young came from Slippery Rock Township in 1841, and purchased a lot off the Hettenbaugh farm, on which he set out a small orchard and put up a dwelling and harness-shop.
John Cooper came from Ireland previous to the year 1800, and brought his wife and three children to Scott Township, where he bought sixty acres of William Locke.
The farm on which the "Lawrence Nursery" was afterward located was originally settled by George Rivheal, about 1798. At about the same time the Hettenbaughs, Michaels and other German families came and located in the same neighborhood. The "Lawrence Nursery" was started in 1870 by a stock company composed of a number of gentlemen residing in Pittsburg. The nurser became one of the largest and best in Western Pennsylvania.
William Locke came from Ireland some time during the Revolutionary war, and became a soldier in the Continental Army. After the war he came to Washington County and made his home in the Chartiers Valley. Some time in the year 1792 he came to what is now Lawrence County for the purpose of selecting a piece of land. The site chosen was in the present township of Scott, about one mile northwest of Harlansburg, and that year he made improvements on a 400-acre tract in the district belonging to Dr. Peter Mowry, who resided in Pittsburg, and was an extensive jobber in the "warrant lands."
After Mr. Locke made his improvements he went back to Washington County, and, in the spring of 1796, returned with his family, making a permanent settlement. Mr. Locke had learned the weaver's trade before he left Ireland, and after his settlement here built a small shop and worked at the business as long as he was able.
James Brown, also a native of Ireland, settled a farm between Mr. Locke's place about 1796-8.
Robert Wallace settled, in 1796, on a farm on the west side of Slippery Rock Creek opposite Rockville, or "Pumpkintown." He came, when a young man, from Washington County, with his brother Jacob, and the two settled some 800 acres.
The farm known as the George W. McCracken place was settled previous to 1800 by Daniel Sutton, and is the oldest settled farm in the southwest part of the township.
George and Jacob McCracken came to the township in 1819 from County Derry, Ireland.
A Covenanter or Reformed Presbyterian church was built about 1835, on an acre of ground donated for church purposes by James R. Martin, who owned 500 acres in the neighborhood. The church was a frame building, made of hewed saplings, but was never completed. Preaching was occasionally held in it in the summer, and in case it rained was of little protection to the congregation, for the roof was but little better than a sieve. Rev. James Blackwood at the time had charge of all the Reformed Presbyterian congregations in the southeastern and eastern parts of the county, and made this one of his charges as long as it lasted. Mr. Martin, who was the prime mover in organizing and building the church, was killed by the fall of a tree he was cutting, the winter after the frame was put up, and that was the main reason the church was never finished.
SCHOOL AND SCHOOL TEACHERS
A schoolhouse was built about 1800, short distance northeast of Harlansburg, on the line between the farms of Jonathan Harlan and James Brown. It was one of the primitive style of log buildings. The teacher of this school was an Englishman named Cornelius Stafford.
Another log schoolhouse was built about 1817, northeast of where Jacob Harlan lived, and a preacher in the Baptist Church at Harlansburg named Henry Frazier was among its early teachers.
Other schoolhouses were built in different parts of the township, all of the same unique pattern. After the law establishing free schools was passed, in 1834, a change took place in the character of schools and their equipment, and improvements of different kinds were adopted until the present system is as nearly perfect as it is possible to have it.
There are at present in the township, including the village of Harlansburg, eight schools, with an enrollment in 1908 of 145. Eight teachers are employed, the amount paid them in 1908 being $2,572. The total expenditures for school purposes were $3,407.94.
Robert and John Turner built a frame grist-mill some time between 1840 and 1850, on "Harlansburg Run," south of the village, and it was operated with great success, doing an extensive custom business.
Jonathan Harlan put up a grist-mill on Slippery Rock Creek, just above the present bridge, below Harlansburg, about the year of 1808, but prior to that time had built one at Harlansburg. George McCracken afterwards purchased the property, and, in 1839, built a second mill on the same site, which stood for many years after it ceased operation.
A man named Totten, built a distillery below the mill, near the east end of the bridge, possibly a short time before 1839, and operated it for several years, but finally abandoned it.
Numerous saw-mills have been in operation in the township, mainly portable mills, but with the supply of timber exhausted they were forced out of business.
Revolutionary Soldiers.- Col. Bernard Hubley, an early settler, was a soldier of the Revolution, and, as his title indicates, served with distinction. William Locke, who settled northwest of Harlansburg, as before mentioned, came from Ireland during the war and was in the service several years.
War of 1812.-Among those who answered the call for men to go to Erie and prevent the British from destroying the town, which was thought to be in danger, were Robert McCaslin, Robert and John McFarland, John, David, William and James Locke, Robert Wallace and Jesse Harlan. James Locke was at the time but eighteen years old, and served four months. His brother David escaped the draft, but went out as a substitute. Robert Wallace was commissioned colonel of militia after the war, and held the position until about 1828, when he resigned his commission and removed to the Mahoning Valley, near Edenburg. Jesse Harlan was under Commodore Perry, and in the memorable and gallant naval fight on Lake Erie, September 10, 1813, was killed.
War of the Rebellion, 1861-5.-A military company was organized at Harlansburg at an early date called the "Slippery Rock Volunteers," and the name was afterwards changed to the "Washington Guards." The uniform of the original company was a yellow linen hunting shirt, trimmed with red fringe, red leggings and a citizen's hat with a white plume, and each man furnished his own uniform and his own rifle. William Stoughton was probably the first captain of this company, and Samuel Riddle also held the position for a time. After the name was changed to the "Washington Guards" they also changed their uniform to blue pants and coat, red sash and cloth cap with a white plume. This company contained about one hundred men, and entered the service in 1861 with nearly that strength, and under the following officers: Captain, Samuel Bentley; first lieutenant, Andrew Nelson; second lieutenant, Norman Maxwell. They joined the 100th (Round Head) Regiment of Pennsylvania, and were ushered into the service as Company E of that body. Before the close of the war they saw much hard service and some of them gave their lives in the country's cause.
For the numerous other regiments which received recruits from Lawrence County, Scott Township furnished its share, but its representatives were principally in the Round Head Regiment.
This village is located on the old Pittsburg and Erie stage road, one of the first roads laid out in the county. This was the main stage route, and travel over it, after the country had become partially settled, was very heavy. The first settler at the place was Jonathan Harlan, who left Chester County in 1792 for Allegheny County, and about 1797-98 came to what is now Scott Township, and settling 400 acres under Dr. Peter Mowry, of Pittsburg, including the site of the village. While living on this tract he laid out the town of Harlansburg in 1800, built the first house in the place; he put up a grist-mill just east of the village, on the small run which empties into Slippery Rock Creek, the mill probably being built previous to the laying out of the town. The house he built was constructed of round logs and stood on the hill just above the site of the old "Bernard House."
About the same time Harlan came, Abraham and Levi Hunt made a settlement on a farm adjoining him, and Abraham Hunt, in 1802, built the first tavern in the village, later known as the "Bernard House." It was a heavy frame structure, and was the first frame building for many miles around. The Hunts afterwards removed to a farm in the neighborhood of the Deans, about two miles west of the village.
William Elder came to Harlansburg about 1807-8, two or three years after his father, John Elder, settled in the township. He soon after opened a small general store, in a space of about 5 by 10 feet. A post-office was established in the village, probably about 1811-12, and Mr. Elder also is accredited with the honor of being the first postmaster.
John Bentley arrived from Chester County in 1814, and, with his wife and six children located in the village.
A log schoolhouse was erected about 1820, and the first teacher was named David Gourley. Before this, schools had been kept in private houses. Joseph Campbell taught a small school in his own house about 1815-16, and James McCune also kept one in his house. In the winter of 1818, William Jack taught a school east of town, in a house built by John Martin for a building.
A two-story brick schoolhouse was built on the hill, in the western part of the village, in the neighborhood of 1857, and thereafter was conducted as a high school most of the time.
A hewed log church was built by some German families, including the Richeals and Michaels, as early as 1799 or 1800, and stood on the lot where the present Methodist Church stands. About, the year 1800 or 1801, this building was purchased by the Baptists. The Baptists afterwards sold their property, and it came into possession of the Methodists, while the Baptist society secured a fine location in the southern part of the village, where a neat brick church was built about 1852-53. The first Baptist preacher who visited the place was Rev. Henry, about 1801. The church was constituted September 17, 1808, at the house of Thomas Clark, by Revs. Henry Spear, Henry Frazure and Thomas Rigdon. Mr. Frazure was the first pastor and Mr. Rigdon the second, the latter beginning his pastorate in 1809. Among those who have served this charge are: Rev. George Collins, from 1849 to 1852; Rev. David Phillips, from 1853 to 1854; Rev. Levi Ross, 1854 to 1855; Rev. John McConahy, 1855 to 1858; Rev. John Trevitt, who came in 1858; Rev. G. E. Huston, January 7, 1871, to April 1, 1884; Henry Madtes, supply summer of 1884; Rev. B. H. Fish, March, 1885, for one year; Rev. C. A. Gardner, August, 1887, to December, 1888; Rev. E. M. Probert, April, 1889, to February 12, 1892; Rev. L. J. Colborn, March 11, 1892, to October 1, 1895; Rev. M. C. Alexander, November 10, 1895, to November 13, 1898; Rev. W. K. Dennis, November 18, 1898, to April 21, 1901, and Rev. L. J. Shoemaker, from October 1, 1901, to the present time. The present officers of the church are: Pastor, Rev. L. J. Shoemaker; clerk, C. E. Hunt; treasurer, Grant Harlan; assistant treasurer, William Eakin, Jr.; trustees, J. B. McKnight, George Dean, Isaac Harlan, S. P. McCalmont, S. W. Double, J. E. McFarland, and G. M. Hettenbaugh, and the deacons, J. B. McKnight, George Dean, David Eakin, Jr., Samuel Harlan, Isaac Harlan and C. E. Hunt. The church is known as the Unity Baptist, and its first meetings, before the old German Church was purchased, were held in the house of Thomas Clark. The centennial anniversary of the organization of the church occurred September 17, 1908, and was celebrated on October 2, 1908, in connection with the Beaver Baptist Association, which met at Harlansburg. Among the present members of this church we would make mention of Mrs. Catherine Hunt, who has been a member of the church since 1849, and of Mrs. Elizabeth Nelson, widow of Lieut. Andrew Nelson, who is living at the advanced age of ninety-five years and has for many years been a devout member of the church.
Among the churches of the place, next in age is the Methodist Episcopal, which was organized about 1833-34. Their first church was a frame building, originally erected for a dwelling by John Boyd. The society purchased it and used it for a church for ten or twelve years, and then built a frame building, standing on the lot formerly owned by the Baptists. One of the first ministers who preached to the congregation was Rev. Thomas Thompson.
The third church in point of age was a Cumberland Presbyterian organization, which sprung up soon after the Methodist Episcopal Church was built. A frame church building was erected, and meetings held until about 1865, when their congregation had become so reduced by deaths and removals that an insufficient number were left to support a minister and pay necessary expenses; they sold their property to the Presbyterians. The first pastor of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was Rev. Richard Law.
The United Presbyterian Church, which, though a short distance north of the village, strictly belongs to it. The congregation organized about 1851-52, and for a while held their meetings in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the village, where they were occasionally supplied. In 1855 a substantial brick church was built. The first pastor who had charge of the congregation was Rev. D. H. A. McLean, who had supplied them occasionally after they organized before the church was built.
Fifth and last is the Harlansburg Presbyterian Church. The Cumberland Presbyterians sold their property to the Presbyterians, and a new frame church was built in 1874 on the lot where the old Cumberland Presbyterian Church stood. The church was organized February 17, 1875. Rev. D. B. Walker, D.D., was their stated supply for two years; Rev. R. M. Davis was called as pastor, February 26, 1877, and served until April 18, 1880; Rev. A. M. Reed was called as their pastor, in June, 1881, and continued until April 26, 1893; the church then had supply until October 4, 1898, at which time Rev. R. C. Stewart was installed. He served until February 24, 1900; the church then had supply until October, 1903, when Rev. J. C. Kelley became pastor, serving until October 1, 1905; Rev. F. A. Cozad was installed in December, 1905, and has continued to the present. The elders of the church are Dr. D. T. Cleland, M. L. Clark, J. O. Brown and W. H. Stoner; the trustees are W. D. McLeland, J. P. Brown and Thomas Cooper. Within the past four years the members have made extensive repairs on the church and built a neat parsonage. The total membership at the present time is fifty-one, and that of the Sabbath-school, twenty-eight.
Harlansburg has been a fairly prosperous village and from its inception has had a thrifty and substantial citizenship. The first blacksmith shop in the neighborhood of Harlansburg was opened by John Smith about 1816-17, south of the village. The first one in the village was opened by Jesse Bentley in 1831. The first wagon shop operated in the village was established by Charles Book about 1862-3. Ira Emerson had the first shoe shop in the place, and Job Harvey, who learned the trade of him, afterwards opened a shop of his own. William Greer started another at about the same time. James Sterling opened the first tailor shop about 1833.
The Harlansburg Agricultural and Horticultural Association was organized in 1871, and twenty-five acres of land leased of John Elder for the use of the society. The officers were: President, Major Andrew Nelson; vice-president, Alexander McBride, Jr.; secretary, Jesse B. Locke; treasurer, W. E. Kirker; directors, R. M. McBride, L. D. Shaffer, W. B. Wilken, W. E. Kirker, James Burnside. This was the only association of the kind in the county, and its fairs, held the third week in September each year, were attended by people from far and near. The grounds were located on the hill west of town.
This settlement, familiarly known as "Pumpkintown," is located on the east side of Slippery Rock Creek, in the southeast corner of the township. David Emery opened a store here some time in the forties, and, after he went out of business, James Smith and J. A. Campbell kept store for awhile. Harlan Vogan also engaged in the mercantile business. S. Frazier conducted a shoe shop, and a number of dwellings are here clustered together in the valley, forming the hamlet. The place has never had a post-office, being located near Harlansburg.
Source: History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1908,