Transcribed by Pat Collins. For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.
Link to a sketch of Mercer Township from the Atlas of Butler County, G.M. Hopkins & Co., 1874.
Surnames in this chapter are:
BARNES, BEATTY, BELL, BLACK, BRADY, BRAHAM, BRANDON, BROWN, BRYSON, BUCHANAN, COCHRAN, CORNPLANTER, DEAN, DONAGHY, DOUGHERTY, ELDER, ELLIOTT, EVANS, FORKER, FUNK, GILL, HAMILTON, HARDY, HARRIS, HARTLEY, JEWELL, JOHNSTON, KELLY, KERR, LEE, MATTHEWS, McCLINTOCK, McCOY, McDONALD, McELREE, McFADDEN, McGILL, McKISSON, McMILLAN, MOHAWK, MURRIN, O'HARA, ORR, OWENS, PARKER, PEEL, PORTER, POWERS, REED, RUSSELL, SANBORN, SEATON, SHIELDS, SMITH, STANLEY, WADDLE, WALKER, WALSH, WELSH, WHITE, WIGTON, WILSON
Mercer township was established in 1804, being one of the thirteen townships erected that year. It was previously a part of the original township of Slippery Rock. In 1854, when the county was subdivided into thirty-three townships, much of its territory was transferred to Marion, thus making it, in area, the smallest township in the county. Its natural resources are, however, important, its farms being productive and well tilled and its coal deposits rich and extensive. Its people are industrious, prosperous and intelligent, and among them are numbered many of the oldest and best known families in the county.
The population in 1810 was 588; in 1820 - 641; in 1830 - 771; in 1840 - 1,233; in 1850 - 1,296; in 1860 - 545; in 1870 - 478; in 1880 - 1,371, including Harrisville's 386 inhabitants, and in 1890 - 1,083, including that borough.
The assessed value of the township in January, 1894, was $153,020; the county tax, $612.08, and the State tax, $68.61. The assessed value of Harrisville was $61,334; the county tax, $245.33, and the State tax, $407.48.
Samuel BARNES, a native of Down county, Ireland, came here from one of the eastern counties of Pennsylvania, accompanied by his wife and two children, William and Betsey, at a very early day, and settled in the wilderness upon 200 acres of land, now owned by his grandsons, John A. and James B. BARNES. The contemporary pioneers were James SHIELDS, Maj. John WELSH and Thomas DEAN, natives of Ireland; Ebenezer BEATTY and Ebenezer BROWN. They formed the vanguard of the pioneers; but to the last should be added the name of Michael SPRING - north of Harrisville. Major WELSH was a land jobber, who built his home just east of Harrisville, near DEAN's farm. SHIELDS located permanently near the coal mines at Forestville in 1798; BEATTY settled southwest of Harrisville and BROWN not far away.
[p. 635] James HARTLEY, who came from Westmoreland county, first improved the site of the borough in 1798, died in 1802 and was buried near the graves of Mrs. BUCHANAN, Fanny WHITE and Jane McDONALD, his being the fourth interment near Harrisville. David McKISSON, an Irishman, came in prior to 1800 and resided here until his death. Francis WILSON came from Ireland and located near the BEATTY clearing. Adam FUNK settled on or near the lands owned by Robert and Andrew PORTER, in the southeastern corner of the township, and opened a tavern. Zelotus JEWELL located at the corner of Venango and Butler counties, and, for some years, was assessed in each county. John EVANS, a farmer, and Henry EVANS, who had a grist mill, located near the JEWELL cabin, and old Zeke BRADY, the blacksmith, built a cabin in 1800 north of where the house of Judge KERR stands, in Harrisville, in the center of an Indian corn field, where he owned twenty-four acres of land.
William GILL, one of "Mad Anthony's" Irish soldiers in the Revolution, located on Wolf creek in 1802, but was unknown to the assessor in 1803. Ephraim Harris came in 1804, to take possession of the land which his partner, John EVANS, located for him, and there established the first store on the site of Luther BRAHAM's dwelling of later days, where he carried on trade until his death in 1825. Maj. John R. HARRIS, his son, was the founder of a carding mill, near the bridge east of town, but was a merchant in the village until his death in 1874. Robert WALKER, the millwright, moved in from Slippery Rock in 1816, and died here in 1839. Alexander SEATON moved from Marion township in 1819, bought the Alexander DONAGHY farm, and, in 1825, built a saw mill, to which he added a grist mill in 1828, and later a carding and fulling mill. The JOHNSTONS arrived from Ireland in 1820, James BELL in 1822, and the COCHRANS from Crawford county, three years later, or about the time that James LEE built his store and dwelling at Harrisville. Jonathan McMILLAN was here in 1830. William STANLEY, William WADDLE, John McCOY, Washington PARKER, William P. BROWN, James FORKER, Josiah HARDY, Thomas McELREE, John DOUGHERTY and perhaps two or three other heads of families came about this period.
From the date of the first settlement, when Cornplanter and his sub-chiefs and warriors were frequent guests within the cabins of the pioneers to 1831, Indian visitors were numerous and, it may be stated, that down to 1843, when Mohawk murdered the Wigton family, the old Indians would come to look at the sites of their former villages and corn fields and to point out to their children the scenes among which their own childhood was passed.
The justices of the peace for Mercer township, from 1840 to 1894, are named as follows: - John MURRIN, 1840; James KERR, 1840; John BLACK, 1845; William RUSSELL, 1845; James SEATON, 1847; James PORTER, 1850; Alexander SEATON, 1852, 1864 and 1869; William H. McGILL, 1854; Hugh BRAHAM, 1857, 1862 and 1887; Charles COCHRAN, 1859 and 1867; John ELDER, 1872; James McFADDEN, 1875; T.D. KELLY, 1877; W.H. ORR, 1880; Joseph BROWN, 1882; Thomas McCLINTOCK, 1885; J.P. COCHRAN, 1886; N.C. BRYSON, 1887; Hugh GILL, 1888 and 1893; J.W. BRYSON, 1891, moved to Chicago in 1893, and James COCHRAN, 1894.
Forestville was purely a coal town, and a model one while the supply lasted. The buildings, erected there by the operators, are still standing; but the majority of the miners have moved to other fields. In 1875 W.C. BRYSON established a general store there. In the fire of 1881, he lost heavily; but rebuilt promptly and carried on business for some years. The general stores of R.D. SHIELDS and Mrs. Jane OWENS, were latter day business ventures.
[End of Chapter 62 - Mercer Township: History of Butler County Pennsylvania, R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895]Previous Chapter 61--Centerville Borough
07 Jan 2000, 12:10