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Wayne Township,
Lawrence County, Pa History



Wayne Township was created from a part of North Sewickley Township, Beaver County, at the same time Lawrence County was erected, and at first took in only that portion of it north of Conoquenessing Creek; that south of the creek remained as North Sewickley until some time afterwards, when it was added to Wayne.

The township has an area of about 11,500 acres, and is peopled with a prosperous agricultural class. The improvements throughout the township are of a high order of excellence and the resources it possesses, both from an agricultural and mineral point of view, are almost inexhaustible.

The surface is broken to an extensive degree, the hills in many places rising three or four hundred feet above the valleys. The approaches to Slippery Rock and Conoquenessing Creeks are through deep gorges and thinly settled localities, although along the latter stream the land is more easily adapted to farming purposes. On the south side of it, towards the line of Beaver County. is a broad, level table land, reaching back a mile or two to a range of hills bounding it on the south. The land here is rich and fertile.

The township contains the three villages of Wurtemburg, Chewton and Staylesville. the latter one of the places which sprang up while the old canal was in existence, and was superseded by Newport, in Big Beaver Township, after the canal was abandoned and the railroad built. The borough of Ellwood City also lies within the borders of the township.

Wayne Township has for its western boundary the Big Beaver River, numerous tributaries of which head within its limits. On the east Slippery Rock Creek forms the boundary between Wayne and Perry, and the Conoquenessing enters on the south from Beaver County, and after receiving the waters of the Slippery Rock curves around through the southern part of the township, and finally enters the Big Beaver on the line between Lawrence and Beaver Counties.

Slippery Rock Creek flows in a southerly direction until it reaches Wurtemburg, and here it is met by a towering bluff 395 feet high, and obliged to turn aside. From here it flows to the westward until it joins with the waters of the Conoquenessing, the two streams meeting from almost opposite directions. At this point the streams turn squarely to the north, proceeds in this direction perhaps a hundred rods, then winds its way westward then eastward, and back again until the Beaver is reached.

The scenery along the streams is wild and impressive, especially that of the Slippery Rock and Conoquenessing. The latter has no bottom lands at all, and the former only very narrow strips in some places. High above the streams, however. and at the base of a still higher range of hills there are comparatively broad plateaux, the surface of them being extremely fertile.

The greater part of the land in Wayne Township is in the Chew district and was divided into 400-acre tracts, each settler on a tract becoming entitled to one-half for settling. There are also numerous tracts which were granted to the Washington Academy, of Washington, Pa.

Coal was discovered near Wurtemburg, about 1826, by James Dobbs, who was at the time working at Moses Matheny's salt wells. Since then coal veins have been developed in various localities in the township. A bank was opened on a tract of Academy land, south of Chewton, and worked for some time. Above Wurtemburg several mines are worked, and in the northern and western portions of the township a considerable number of persons opened banks. The vein is called a three-foot vein, but has only about twenty-eight inches of coal on an average, the rest being more or less mixed with slate. The coal is generally of a very good quality.

Limestone is found in many localities, but, like all the limestone of this region, lies in thin, ragged strata, and is not lit for building purposes, although it makes a very good quality of lime. The lime stone exists near the summits of the hills, and is simply what remains of a once continuous bed, before the country was cut so deeply by the numerous streams into the rough condition we now behold. The stone is found at an average height, and of a nearly uniform thickness and quality, proving that the stratum was once continuous.

Iron ore is also found, both of the red and blue varieties. About 1855-6, Charles Rhodes bought half an acre of land on the stream which empties into the Big Beaver below Chewton, and intended to erect a saw-mill. While excavating a place in which to set his wheel be struck a vein of the "blue ore," and immediately abandoned the purpose of building a saw-mill, and began taking out ore. The business paid him well, and raised a great excitement in the vicinity. It was the first iron ore discovered in the township, and immediately a number of persons began prospecting. Finally, John Warner discovered a bank of the "red ore," in some places reaching a thickness of twenty-two feet. Dr. John Wallace purchased this bank and worked it extensively.

The existence of the red ore was not known until after the discovery of the blue ore, but, when it was developed, the working of the latter was abandoned, as the other quality was much richer and more easily worked.

EARLY SETTLEMENT.

About the year 1800, Abraham McCurdy came from the Susquehanna Valley and settled near where Wurtemburg now stands.

John Newton came to the township in the neighborhood of 1800, and settled on the farm where his son, Jacob Newton, lived for many years after.

William and Benjamin Cunningham came from Fayette County, Pennsylvania, in the year 1796. William settled on the farm lately owned by B. S. Cunningham, and Benjamin on that lately owned by Ira Cunningham. They came in the fall of that year and built cabins and made other improvements on their places, then returned to Fayette County for their families. They returned to their new possessions in the spring of 1797. The Cunninghams now occupy a considerable portion of the north part of Wayne Township, and have contributed much towards its improvement.

The year 1796 marked the arrival of eight persons, six besides the Cunninghams. They were Abel Hennon, Robert and Samuel Gaston, William Cairns, Charles Morrow and John Moore. Only a portion of them settled or remained in what is now Wayne Township.

After the Cunninghams came to the township they hewed out the end of a block "dish fashion," and pounded their corn in it for about two years, when a grist-mill was built by Ananias Allen, and they had their grinding done there.

Abel Hennon, who was one of the settlers of 1796, located on a 400-acre tract of which he received one-half for settling.

Joseph Hennon came in 1798 and bought a settlement right to a 400-acre tract of Jesse Myers, who had built a cabin on the place. The place was later occupied by his son, George Hennon, who was the first child born in the family after their settlement, the date of his birth being April 19. 1800. The Hennons were originally from Ireland, and located first in the State of Maryland. They afterwards removed to the valley of Jacob's Creek, in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and from there came to Beaver County. Two of the earlier members of the family, George and Thomas Hennon, Sr., were soldiers in the American Revolution.

Nicholas Vaneman located in New Castle about 1802-3, where he rebuilt and re fitted a grist-mill on the Neshannock, which had been originally erected about 1800 by John Elliott. The mill was partially destroyed by a freshet in the creek, and Vaneman removed to Wayne Township about 1808-9 and put up a grist and saw-mill on what is now known as "Mill Run," or "Big Run," which discharges its waters into the Big Beaver below Chew-ton. The mills stood for a good many years, and finally fell to pieces, and none have been rebuilt on the site since. He operated the mill until unable to run it longer, when his son continued the business for some time.

George Allen settled a farm in Wayne Township previous to 1800 and sold it to Solomon Egner in 1818.

Henry Booher came first to Neshannock Township about 1806, and bought land of Jesse DuShane, of New Castle, about 1810.

Thomas McConahy came from County Antrim, Ireland, in 1817, leaving his family there. They followed him two years later (1819), and came to Beaver Town, Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Here they stayed until 1821, when they removed to a farm of 100 acres, lying in Shenango Township, Lawrence County.

The John McConahy (son of Thomas McConahy) farm, in Wayne, was originally settled by Peter Book, who made the improvements upon it. The original tract was 400 acres, and, with a few other tracts in the neighborhood did not belong to the land in the Chew district. Peter Book was of German descent, and came from Northampton County, Pennsylvania, to Pittsburg, from which place he came to what is now Wayne Township in 1796-7.

Joseph Work came originally from the State of Maryland to Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. In the year 1797 he came to Crawford County, where he lived until 1824, then moved to the farm in Wayne Township, Lawrence County, later occupied by his son, William Work. The land is part of a tract of 400 acres, originally settled by Moses McCollum in 1797.

William Ward came from York County, Pennsylvania, when a young man, with his mother and step-father, and located first in Beaver Town, Beaver County. This was in the neighborhood of the year 1800. Mr. Ward was married at Beaver Town to Miss Elizabeth Shoemaker, and afterward came to Lawrence County. He located on a farm on Slippery Rock Creek about 1806-8.

Hugh Wilson came to the township previous to 1800, and settled on the farm now owned by his heirs. He was originally from the State of Maryland, and settled in the Chartiers Valley, in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, about twelve miles from Pittsburg, from whence he came to what is now Lawrence County. The year after Mr. Wilson arrived, his brothers, William, Andrew, James and Alexander, also came out. William Wilson commanded a militia company in the neighborhood during the time of military organizations, and from that circumstance received the title of captain.

Moses Guy came to the township about the same time as the Wilsons and settled on a part of the same farm.

Moses Matheny came from the Shenandoah Valley, West Virginia, about 1800, and settled first in the edge of Beaver County, Pennsylvania. He afterwards re moved to a farm in Wayne Township, Lawrence County, three-fourths of a mile from Wurtemburg. Mr. Matheny was a cabinetmaker, the first mechanic in the neighborhood, and made the first rough coffin. In 1807 he was married to Hannah Nye, whose father, Andrew Nye, had settled early on the farm on the south side of the Conoquenessing, yet owned by the Nye family.

Mr. Matheny was closely identified with the plans for the early improvement of the country in which he had settled. In 1839 he built a stone tavern on the north side of the Conoquenessing, at its mouth, and rented it to Samuel Copper, who kept it for some time; other persons also kept the tavern, but when the canal business stopped it was discontinued.

Paul Newton was among the first settlers in the township and purchased land of William Thomas, who must have been a very early settler.

About 1812-15 a company of Quakers came from the eastern part of the State, purchased a large acreage of the hilly lands of the Conoquenessing, and went to work to improve the water-power. They tried to build a dam twenty-eight feet high across the creek, but the attempt proved a failure, and they afterward built a brace dam on a smaller scale, and cut a hole in the rock and built a strong stone grist-mill in it. The creek rose shortly afterwards and washed both dam and mile away. After this failure the Quakers went to Beaver Falls.

Hazel Dell post-office was established about 1871-2, near Matheny's mill. The first postmaster was John H. Marshall, and he was succeeded by Andrew Cole.

About 1823-4 a log-mill was built on nearly the same spot as the Matheny mill by Orrin Newton. In 1834, J. N. Nye purchased the mill and operated it awhile. About 1840 some parties who were fishing carelessly dropped some fire into it and it burned down. The Matheny mill, which was built in 1847 by Jonathan Evans, was owned by Thomas Jones at one time. He was caught in the machinery in some way while oiling the wheel and killed, about 1864-5. Under the management of E. C. Matheny the mill developed into a flourishing plant.

Orrin Newton, the same person who built the original mill on the site of Matheny's building, had a primitive affair long before this, consisting of a wheel set in a crevice in the rock, and run by hand when the water was low. This was the first mill on the creek below the mouth of the Slippery Rock, and was of the simplest kind. It could grind but very slowly, and did nothing more than crack the grain. The old Newton mill was at Conoquenessing Falls.

A log grist-mill, with a saw-mill attach ment, was built about 1830-32 by Nicholas Mayne, and stood a short distance above the Matheny mill.

James Latimer built a grist-mill two or three miles above this, about 1855. It was a good frame mill, but, as the power was not sufficient at the place it was abandoned.

Henry McQuiston built a grist-mill on the Conoquenessing, a little distance above the mouth of Slippery Rock Creek, but it was only run a short time.

Saw-mills have been built in nearly every portion of the township, though but very few are now in operation, and those port able.

Edward McLaughlin had a saw-mill close by the McQuiston grist-mill.

About 1852, William Gaston built a saw mill on his place, above Chewton, on a small run flowing through it, and had good water power.

MILITARY RECORD.

Wayne Township was well represented in the United States army during the War of 1812, among those who went to the front being: Abraham McCurdy, Sr., John Newton, Benjamin Cunningham, Thomas Hennon, at Black Bock; William Ward, in Capt. James Stewart's company, was at Black Bock, and Hugh Wilson and Moses Guy, who were at Black Rock.

In Wayne, as in other townships, military organizations were kept up, William Wilson commanding one company. A company known as the "North Sewickley Marksmen" was organized about 1830-31, with some sixty men, and the number afterwards increased to seventy or eighty. John M. Hennon was the first captain, and Isaac Newton, William Sherrard and others served as lieutenants. The men were dressed in ordinary apparel, but their citizens' hats were decked with red and white plumes, and they wore red sashes and belts; they were armed with common rifles. The organization existed until about 1873.

Wayne Township furnished her quota of troops during the War of the Rebellion, scattered through various regiments. Most of those who went to the front, however, were members of the famous Round Head (One Hundredth Pennsylvania) Regiment.

EARLY SCHOOLS.

A log cabin schoolhouse was built on the McCollum tract, in Wayne, previous to 1815, and school was conducted in it for some time. It finally was destroyed by fire. About 1820 another log schoolhouse was built about a half mile northwest of the first, and it too was finally burned to the ground.

Robert Grandy was a teacher in the first building, and Robert Laughlin was the first teacher in the latter. Other primitive schoolhouses were built at different times by the citizens, and carried on by subscription until the law was passed establishing free schools.

In 1908 the number of schools in Wayne District (Township) was nine. The enrollment of school children for the same year was 276. A total of $2,750 was paid for teachers' wages, the number of teachers for the year being nine. The total expenditures for the year for school purposes were $3,825. This was aside from Wurtemburg and Chewton villages, which are independent districts.

CHURCHES.

Slippery Rock Presbyterian Church

Primitive Methodist Church

The Village Of Staylesville

Chewton

Wurtemburg

Ellwood City


Source:   Twentieth Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, 1908, pages 354-365



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