Erie County

Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister

Franklin Township

The township of Franklin was established in 1844 out of portions of McKean, Washington and elk Creek, and named after the printer patriot of the Revolution on the suggestion of Hon. John H. Walker. J. P. Silverthorn was the main person in circulating petitions and working for its creation. The Viewers were Robert Porter and Elijah Drury, of Girard, and Thomas R. Miller, of Springfield. Franklin is exactly five miles square, and contains 16,896 acres. The population was 686 in 1850, 979 in 1860, 994 in 1870, and 1,020 in 1880. Franklin is bounded on the north by Fairview and McKean, on the east by McKean and Washington, on the south by Washington and Elk Creek, and on the west by Girard and Elk Creek. The only village is Franklin Center, which is also the sole post office. The assessment for 1883 gave the following result: Value of real estate, $364,47; number of cows, 595; value $16,884; oxen, 62; value, $3,355; horses and mules, 280; value, $21,692; value of trades and occupations, $4,820; money at interest, $25,314.

First Settlements
The remoteness of Franklin Township from the main lines of travel delayed settlements till a later period than in any other portion of the county. A few adventurous parties located on the State road when it was opened, about 1802 or 1803, but they found so little to encourage them and so much that was discouraging that they all left. From that date till 1829, when L. D. Rouse went in from Connecticut, it cannot be learned that any permanent settlement was made, and as late as 1835 the country remained almost an unbroken forest. During 1832, the colonists were William and Levi Francis, from New York; James P. Silverthorn, from Girard Township; Henry Howard, from Grafton, Vt.; and Messrs. Goodban and Longley, from England. To these were added in 1833, thomas Spence and Thomas McLaughlin, from Ireland; William Vorse, from Chautauqua County, N. Y.; Allen Mead, from Saratoga County, N. Y.; Ezra Milks and his son Amos, from Rennselaer County, N. Y.; Curtis Cole and father, from Unadilla, N. Y.; and Andrew Proudfit, from York County, Penn. Isaac Fry, from Vermont, and John Tuckey, an Englishman, took up land in 1834; John Loyer, from Eastern Pennsylvania, in 1835; Levi Howard, from Vermont, in 1840; and James B. Robinson, from Pompey, N. Y., in 1844. Levi Silverthorn also went in during 1844, the year the township was created. John Gilbert was born in Somerset County, Penn. His father moved into Waterford Township in 1826. John married Elizabeth Gregory on the 22d of January, 1846, and the young couple immediately settled in Franklin, on the farm where they now live. Among other early settlers were Messrs. Webster, Huff, Gibson and Perry, all from Warsaw, N. Y.

General Description
The whole country is high, rolling land, with few of the ravines and broken ridges which prevail in the other summit townships. The soil is a clay loam, varied by a few patches of gravel. Some grain is raised, but the land is best adapted for grazing and stock-raising, in which regard it is unsurpassed. Apples and some other fruits yield handsomely. But little good timber remains, and that is fast being cut off. Land varies in price from $15 to $40 an acre. The buildings are principally new, and most of the houses ar nicely painted. There are several bank barns in the township.

Being on the top of the hills which have their bases in Washington, McKean, Fairview, Girard and Elk Creek, numerous small streams take their rise in Franklin, and flow into the creeks of those townships. Those in the north are all tributary to Elk Creek, and those in the south mainly to the Cussewago, the dividing ground being about a mile and a half south of the center. Falls Run, the most considerable in the township, starts about a mile east of a cranberry marsh southeast of Franklin Center, and empties into Elk Creek, in Fairview. Below the cascade at Howard's quarry, the stream winds between high, steep and romantic banks to its junction with Elk Creek. The West Branch of the Conneauttee heads in the cranberry marsh above mentioned, and, after a short course within the township, crosses the line into Washington. The nearest railroad stations are at Girard and Fairview for the north, at Albion for the west, and at Cambridge for the south and southeast. The chief public thoroughfares are the old State road, extending across the township from Lockport to McLane; the Population road, on the line between Girard, Elk Creek and Franklin; the Crane road, from Cranesville to Edinboro; the Sterrettania road, from that place to Cussewago, Crawford County, and the Quarry road, from Franklin Center to Fairview.

Mills and Schools
Franklin is without a grist mill, and most of the grain is taken to Sterrettania to be ground. J. R. Steadman built a cheese factory at the center, which has been in successful operation since May 7, 1874. It is now owned and operated by F. T. Billings. In the southeastern portion, the milk is taken to the Wellman factory, on the Crane road, three-fourths of a mile over the line in Washington. The saw mills are the Mohawk, on the Crane road in the southwest, built by D. Knight, and operated about fifteen years; Sweet & Alden's, on the State road, near the Washington line, built by J. P. Silverthorn, Daniel Munson and Charles Billings in 1854, but suspended about two years ago; Mishler's, on the State road, three fourths of a mile east of the center, about ten years. Harvey Mills has a planing mill across the road from Mishler's, established three or four years ago. Steam is the propelling agent of the above establishments. Lawrence's cooper shop is on the Harrison road, in the southeast.

Franklin Township probably had within its limits none of the primitive subscription schools for it was yet very thinly settled when the school law went into effect, and many years elapsed before the population was sufficient to divide the township into districts. The first schoolhouse at Franklin Center was built about 1840, or perhaps a year or two earlier. It occupied the site of the present schoolhouse. The schools are the Foy, on the Crane road in the southeast; the Eureka, on the same road, near the Eureka Church; the Silverthorn, on the State road, two miles east of Franklin Center; the Franklin Center (which is used as the voting place and town house); the Howard, at the stone quarry, and the Goodban, on the Sterrettania road. Besides these, there are two joint schools within the township -- Billings, used by Franklin and Washington, and the Francis, by Franklin and Girard. There is also a school in Elk Creek, which is maintained by the independent district, composed of portions of that township and Franklin.

Churches and Graveyards
The religious societies are a Methodist Episcopal and Lutheran at Franklin Center, the Eureka Methodist Episcopal on the Crane road, and the Elk Creek Baptist in the western part of the township. At Franklin Center is a Union Church, erected by the people of that locality in 1868, at a cost of 41,500. It is occupied by the Methodist Episcopal and German Lutheran congregations. The former was organized in 1866, with twenty-six members, by Rev. C. L. Barnhart. The membership is now about seventy-five. The church is connected with the Lockport, Girard Township, Circuit.

The Lutheran congregation was organized in 1871 by Rev. Schaeffer, with ten members. Rev. Zahn succeeded. The membership is yet small, and at present no regular services are held.

The Eureka Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1867, with twenty-six members, by Rev. George Elliott, the first pastor. The church was built two years later, at a cost of $1,800. The class is now in good condition, and has ever since its organization formed a part of Edinboro Circuit, which includes appointments at Eureka, edinboro and Sherrod Hill, the latter two in Washington Township.

Elk Creek Regular Baptist Church was erected in 1867 or 1868, at a cost of $1,400. It is located at the intersection of the Population and crane roads, the former here forming the boundary between Franklin and Elk Creek Townships. The society was organized in 1866, with three members, by Rev. William Develin, the first pastor. His successors have been Elders William Hughes, Hovey, Homer Clark, Thomas and Pierce, the last named now having charge. The membership is about thirty.

The Catholics in the southwest attend church at Cussewago, Crawford County.

A graveyard is kept up at the old Christian Church, and some private burial grounds are scattered over the township. The people in the southeast mostly bury at Edinboro, in the southwest at Cussewago, and in the north at Sterrettania and Fairview.

Village and Quarry

Franklin Center, or Franklin Corners, as it is called in the post office directory, is on the State road, eight miles each from Girard, Fairview and McKean, five from Sterrettania, and seventeen from Erie. The village was founded by Oren G. Wood, who started a store, and induced others to settle around him. John Tuckey, O. G. Wood and John Loyer were the original owners of the land. Franklin Center consists of two stores, a church, schoolhouse, cheese factory, two blacksmith shops, a wagon shop, two shoe shops, about fifteen houses and probably seventy-five people. The village is the voting and meeting place of the township. A mail is received twice a week by gig from Fairview. A grange was started in 1876, but disbanded after an existence of some two years.

So little stone is found in our county that any section better favored than its neighbors in that regard is actually envied. LeBoeuf, franklin and Waterford enjoy the distinction of being the only townships that possess important quarries of building material. The Howard Quarry, in Franklin, near the Fairview line, has been worked for thirty years, and furnished the stone for the Court House in Erie. This was for a long period the only quarry in the township, but in recent years others of equal merit have been opened. Oil has been running out of the rocks at Howard's quarry from the earliest settlement, and in former times was gathered to be sold for medicine. Three wells were put down along Falls Run, in confidence that a large deposit of the greasy fluid would be found, but only a trifling amount was got, and the projects were abandoned.

Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter XXI, pp. 851-854.


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