Lawrence County, Pa Townships

 

 

 

Wilmington Township

Wilmington is one of the original townships of Lawrence County, and was erected when it formed a part of Mercer County, from parts of Neshannock (Lawrence County) and Lackawannock (Mercer County) Townships, in February, 1846. Its area is about eleven thousand five hundred acres. The surface is diversified with hill and valley, wood and stream, and for agricultural purposes is generally fine. The borough of New Wilmington was created from a portion of the township, April 4, 1863, and includes between three and four hundred acres. The other villages of the township are Fayetteville, Neshannock Falls and Lockeville (Volant post-office). Abundant water power is afforded by numerous streams, the principal ones being the Big and Little Neshannock.

The township is traversed along Big Neshannock Creek by what was the New Castle and Franklin Railway, later known as the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railway, and now a part of the Pennsylvania System. The stations upon it are Wilmington, Neshannock Falls, East Brook and Volant. The Beaver and Mercer State road was cut through about 1814, and was open for travel in a few places by 1815.

EARLY SETTLEMENT.

The first settler in Wilmington Township was probably William Lodge, who came up the Beaver and Shenango River in a canoe, in company with Simon Van Orsdel, in the month of February, 1797. Van Orsdel did not remain. Hodge built a cabin on his place and made a small clearing, and, in 1798 sometime, sold out to William Porter, who had come from Westmoreland County, and was the second settler in the township.

After Porter's settlement, the year 1798 witnessed a number of arrivals. James Hazlep settled the land now occupied by the borough of New Wilmington, and after wards became the possessor of some eight hundred acres in the vicinity. John Mc Crum came the same year, also James Waugh; the latter afterwards, about 1824, purchased the ground where New Wilmington now stands, and he and his sons laid out the town about that time.

Hugh Means arrived in 1800 and built a grist-mill on Little Neshannock Creek, east of what is now New Wilmington. This was the first mill in the neighborhood, and was extensively patronized, customers coming somtimes (sic) ten or twelve miles. It was then within the bounds of the newly created county of Mercer, and elections were held in it. His son, Daniel, served in the War of 1812-15, and another son, Henry, hauled supplies for the soldiers.

Hugh Watson came from Mifflintown, Juniata County, Pennsylvania, in 1806, and settled near Neshannock Falls. John Watson came in 1808, and located on a part of the same farm as Hugh Watson. His son, James Watson, came in 1809, and lived for a while with his father, and afterwards removed to the site of the village of Fayetteville, where he had purchased 185 acres of land. The first settler on this place was Thomas Sampson, who bought a claim from William Whiteside, in 1804. John Sampson purchased a piece off the same tract, east of him, and located upon it in 1805, during which year he opened what was long known as the "Back woods Tavern," an establishment widely known in those days. The tavern was a log building, and quite a roomy structure for the time.

William Lodge, William McCrum (son of John McCrum) and Samuel Hazlep (son of James Hazlep) were in the War of 1812.

Adam Wilson came from Carlisle, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in 1806-7, and located near Neshannock Presbyterian Church, west of New Wilmington. Mr. Wilson had two still houses on his place.
James Banks came from Juniata County in the year 1815, and on arriving in Lawrence County (then Mercer), located on the farm where he lived with his son, Andrew Banks. In 1811 he had purchased the land, 200 acres, of Hugh Johnston, paying $4.25 an acre. He was out and looked at the land in 1814, but did not locate upon it until 1815. Johnston, who had come to the place about 1808, had cleared about forty acres and built a hewed log house twenty-four feet square.
John Banks, brother of James, came out about 1818, and was afterwards elected the first member of Congress from Mercer County. He located at Mercer, and read law in the office of Mr. Sample at that place.

Neshannock Falls
Fayetteville
Lockeville (Volant Post-Office)

SCHOOLS.

About 1810 or 1812 a schoolhouse was built on land belonging to William Hunter, the first teacher being James White. Among the other early teachers in this building were a Mr. McCready, Hugh Watson and a Mr. Bellows.

A log schoolhouse was built about 1810-12 a quarter of a mile west of New Wilmington.

"Rich Hill" schoolhouse was built of round logs, with a cabin roof, about 1824-25. One of the first teachers was George Carlon. This schoolhouse gave place to a frame building 24x24 feet, built about 1835. The second building was put up in another part of the township, in order to accommodate all the pupils in the district, and was afterwards burned. A third building was erected near the site of the second one and stood until about 1868-70, when a substantial brick structure was erected, and used by pupils from both Wilmington and Washington Townships.

The schools in the township now number seven, with an average attendance in 1908 of one hundred and seventy-nine. The sum of $2,240 was paid seven teachers, and the total expended for school purposes was $3,187.44. 

Neshannock Presbyterian Church
Rich Hill Presbyterian Church
Amish or Omish Mennonites


Borough of New Wilmington


Twentieth Century History of New Castle and Lawrence County, 1908, pages 365-372

 

 


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