Erie County

Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister


Greenfield Township

The township of Greenfield, one of the sixteen established when the county was organized, is bounded on the north by North East, o the east by Chautauqua County, N. Y., on the south by Venango, and on the west by Harbor Creek and Greene. Its boundary lines are all straight, with the exception of a jog of about an eighth of a mile, commencing at the J. C. Prindle place, on the west side, and extending to the T. C. Plumb farm on the south. As originally established, Greenfield was considerably larger than now, a long, wedge-shaped strip having been taken off of its northern part in 1841 and added to North East. The township as thus reduced is about seven miles in length from east to west, about four and three-quarters in breadth from north to south, and embraces 19,723 acres of elevated ridge and table land. The loftiest elevation is at the farm of F. B. Brown, in the southwest, and about half a mile southeast from that, in Venango, is said to be the highest point in the county. By the United States census report, Greenfield had a population of 281 in 1820, 664 in 1830, 862 in 1840, 731 in 1850, 880 in 1860, 1,039 in 1870, and 1,020 in 1880. the assessment of 1880 gave the following results: Value of real estate, $358,977; number of horses, 253; cows, 684; oxen, 6; value of personal property, 424,711, value of trades and occupations, $1,400; maney at interest, $200.

The surface of Greenfield Township is mainly hilly, but there are some fine flats along French Creek and upon a tributary of that stream which comes in from New York at the southeast corner. The valley lands range in width from a half mile to a mile and a half. They are mostly of a gravelly loam, and produce corn, oats, some wheat and all kinds of fruit, except peaches, but are much troubled with frosts. The hill lands, which are less affected by the frosts than the valleys, are a clay loam, and yield good crops of corn, oats and potatoes, but are best adapted for grass and grazing. A great many cattle are raised in the township, and many tons of butter are made and sold annually. Land ranges in price from $20 to $40 an acre, according to its location.

Beginning the Settlement
Remote as it is at present on account of its distance from a railroad, Greenfield was one of the first townships to be settled. After the restoration of quiet along the border, the Triangle became a favorite field for settlement. Among those who were impressed with the advantages was Judah Colt, a native of Lyme, Conn., who came on in 1795. Believing the country would fill up rapidly, he made the Population Company, which claimed most of the lands in the county, an offer of $1 an acre for thirty thousand acres off of the east end of the Triangle, which they declined. They were so much pleased with his energy and shrewdness, however, that they appointed him their agent for Erie County. Mr. Colt took up a permanent residence in 1797, having been preceded by Elisha and Enoch Marvin (his brothers-in-law), Cyrus Robinson, Henry and Dyer Loomis, Charles Allen, Joseph Berry, John and William Wilson, James Moore, Joseph Webster, Philo Barker, Timothy Tuttle, Silas and William Smith, Joseph Shadduck and John Daggett (each accompanied by his sons), and John Andrews. All of these were hardy and intelligent New England people. Mr. Colt established his headquarters at what came to be known as colt's Station, around or near which most of the emigrants settled. The same year, Mr. Colt cut a road through from the lake at freeport to the Station, the first in the county after the old French road, as an avenue for supplies, which were brought by lake from Buffalo. This road was extended in 1798 to French Creek, near what is now "Little Hope," or Greenfield Post Office, where Mr. Bissell had established a landing, and later in the season Mr. Colt and William Miles continued it to the forks of French Creek. The eastern road from North East to Wattsburg was opened about 1800; the one from Colt's Station to Waterford, by way of Phillipsville, in 1804 or 1806; and the Station road, from Wesleyville, by way of Colt's Station to Mayville, in 1813.

Mr. Colt brought his wife on in May, 1798, who remained with him till his removal to Erie. In 1803, James Taylor, with wife and one child, coming from Rockbridge County, Va., settled in the township, locating about two miles northeast of Colt's Station. Here they remained until 1812, when they removed to the State of New York, near the boundary line between that State and Pennsylvania. Henry Taylor, a relative of the above named, settled in the township at the same time. He was a man of family, and several years later purchased land in North East Township, adjoining the borough, upon which he resided for some years. He figured conspicuously in the war of 1812. He was made Captain of the first military company at North East; subsequently removed to Michigan, and there died. The inducement that took Mr. Colt and his colony to Greenfield was the belief then generally disseminated that the hill lands were preferable to those of the lake shore, which were densely wooded, swampy and well-nigh impenetrable. In a short time, Mr. Colt saw his error, and in 1804 he removed to Erie, where he remained the balance of his life. He died suddenly October 11, 1832, aged seventy-one years and three months. Mrs. Colt survived till March 13, 1834, dying at the age of sixty-six. They left no children, and the large estate Mr. Colt has acquired passed into the hands of relatives. On Mr. Colt's departure, the greater portion of the colony left also, scattering in various directions, and most of them making amends for their blunder by taking up some of the choicest lands in the county. Enoch Marvin became the company's agent in the Beaver Valley, where he died and was buried. His brother Elisha was one of the few who remained, and he and his wife both died at Colt's Station, the first in 1829 and the second in 1858. Their son, William E., continued to reside at Colt's Station till the decease of his mother, when he made his home in North East.

Other Matters
The first Protestant religious service in Erie County was held at Colt's Station on the 2d of July, 1797, shortly after the arrival of the colony from New England. About thirty persons assembled, from Greenfield, North East and Venango, to whom a sermon was read by Mr. Colt. The old graveyard, on the Erie & Mayville road, a little east of the Station, was the earliest (1801) of which any record has been preserved in the county. Elisha Marvin, was buried there, but his remains were taken up and removed to North East after the death of his wife. The first celebration in Erie County of the Nation's Independence was near Colt's Station, on the 4th of July, 1797. The first military company in Erie County was organized in Greenfield, in 1801. It had eighty members. Elisha Marvin was Captain.

While Mr. Colt remained at the Station, it was a busy place, being the depot of supplies for all the country round. For a year or two, the line of travel from the lake was through Colt's Station to French Creek, and then on to Pittsburgh, which lasted until a good road was opened between Erie and Waterford. After Mr. C.'s departure, the glory of the Station faded. Col. Joseph Selden opened a store there in 1820, which was continued by other parties until a few years ago. Morrow B. Lowry clerked in this store when a boy of sixteen, and B. F. Sloan spent a portion of his youthful years in the locality. A tavern was established about fifty years ago, and kept up till 1860 or 1865. The old tavern has been converted into a farmhouse, and there is nothing there besides but a schoolhouse, a liberty pole and two small dwellings.

Streams and Mills
The chief stream of Greenfield is the West Branch of French Creek, which receives many small tributaries in the township. It heads in Findley's Lake or "pond," about two miles from the State line, in Chautauqua County, and running across Greenfield from the northeast to the middle, and through the entire width of Venango from north to south, join the East Branch in Amity, just below Wattsburg, after a course of eighteen or twenty miles. The headwaters of Six Mile, Twelve Mile, Sixteen Mile and of a branch of Twenty Mile Creek, are all i Greenfield, the first two flowing into the lake in Harbor Creek, and the second two in North East. They have their rise on the ridge north of the West Branch of French Creek, and not more than a mile or two from that stream. Some of the tributaries of the West Branch head within a few rods of the sources of the lake shore creeks.

The first saw mill was built by Leverett Bissell, at or near Little Hope, in 1799, being among the earliest in that county. Another was put up in 1824, by John Whiteside, in the south part of the township. The present manufacturing concerns are two portable saw mills near Shadduck's Corners, in the west portion; another near H. Raymond's close to the New York line; T. Raymond's saw mill on French Creek, about a mile below Little Hope; a grist mill, saw mill and cheese factory at Little Hope (the mills were established by Whiteside and Messer over a half century ago, and the cheese factory was built by a company about ten years ago); and A. Moseman's cider mill, on the Wellman road, near the Greene line. Formerly there were two grist mills and two saw mills near Raymond's but all have been abandoned.

Village and Churches
The only settlement in the township which approaches the dignity of a village is Greenfield, on the West Branch of French Creek, just off from the middle road between North East and Wattsburg. The place is better known by its nickname of Little Hope.The site of the place was taken up about 1796, by Leverett Bissell, on a soldier's right of 400 acres. He built a saw mill and a landing on the creek, where batteaux came up loaded with supplies from the lower country. The original settler left the place in 1805 or 1806 in charge of his son Cyril, who located there and died about 1848. The present village embraces a grist mill, saw mill, cheese factory, store, blacksmith shop, schoolhouse and twenty or thirty houses. There is a cemetery just at the outskirts of the village, and a Methodist Church at the corners, not far distant. The old Miller Graveyard, a few rods to the east, is no longer used for burial purposes. Greenfield was long the only post office in the township. Besides the burial ground referred to, there is an old one on the Gibson place, in the eastern part of the township. The Methodist Episcopal Church near Little Hope was organized in 1836, and occupies a commanding position at the junction of the Wildman and Wattsburg roads. It has a parsonage attached, built in 1868. This society was the outgrowth of a class that worshiped at an early day, in what was known as the Campfield Schoolhouse, located about one mile south of the present church building (in Venango Township), and subsequently in the Miller Schoolhouse. The church building was erected about the year 1850. The appointment has been on the North East, Wattsburg and Greenfield and Mina Circuits respectively, the latter being formed in 1868, since which period the pastors of the charge have been as follows: J. Mendenhall, J. Allen, W. H. Hoover, L. E. Beardsley, A. Bashline, J. Akers, Z. W. Shadduck, G. Collier, 1882-83. What is known as the Second Greenfield Union Free-Will Baptist Church was organized at the date of the building of their present church edifice, situated in the western part of the township, in 1881. This organization was made up of the two congregations which had previously worshiped, the one at the Union Schoolhouse in North East Township, and the other at Shadduck's Schoolhouse in Greenfield Township, both of which had been in existence a number of years. Among the ministers who have preached for the congregations may be mentioned Revs. Chauncy Burch, Morton, Losee and J. L. Higby, the latter preaching the dedicatory sermon in the church in the spring of 1882.

The United Brethren Congregation at Shadduck's Schoolhouse was organized with less than a dozen members by Rev. J. W. Clark about eight years ago. It was placed on Harbor Creek Circuit of which it is now a part.

Among the early schools of the township may be mentioned one that was taught in a schoolhouse which stood about two miles east of the present Miller Schoolhouse, as early as 1816, and at about that time A. Young was the "master." In the eastern part of the township, John Griswold taught an earlier school. In this portion of the township other early teachers were William Leonard, George Selkregg, a Miss Phillips, and Miss Mary A. Platt. There was a log schoolhouse at Colt's Station, in which school was held in the winter of 1820-21, by Porter Rogers. Lorenzo Rogers, a brother to Porter, and Asa Hall, were teachers in this building. Another of the early-built schoolhouses for this section stood in Venango Township.

The present schools are the Wilson, in the southeast, at the crossing of the Findley's Lake and North East & Wattsburg roads; the Davis, in the northeast, on the last-named road; the Miller, at Greenfield Village; the Colt's Station; the Parmenter, near the North East Township line; the Moore, in the south, at the crossing of the Waterford and Wildman roads; the Wildman, in the southwest, near the Greene line; the Prindle, on the road from Hiram Shadduck's to Harbor Creek; and the Shadduck, on the Colt's Station road, a little west of Shadduck's Corners. The township also pays half the expense of the Union School in North East Township, just over the line.

Roads, etc.
The main thoroughfares are the east road between North East and Wattsburg, and the middle road, through Colt's Station, between the same point; the Station road from Wesleyville to Mayville; and the road from Green past the Methodist Episcopal Church and Greenfield Village to Findley's Lake. All of these were laid out on a straight line, but had to diverge in order to surmount the ridges. The township never had a plank road, and the nearest railroad station is at North East. The first marriage in the township was that of Joseph Shadduck to Betsy Willard, and the first child born was their son Ira. Greenfield has furnished but three county officers, viz., County Auditor, Mark Baldwin, 1833 to 1836; County Commissioner, William E. Marvin, 1845 to 1848; William Parker, 1853 to 1856. The first frame barn ever built in Greenfield Township is still standing at Shadduck's Corners. It was built by Joseph Shadduck about 1815. The third oldest man of whom there is any recollection in Erie County, was James Davis, of Greenfield -- the very oldest having been Michael Hare, who died at Waterford in 1843, aged over a hundred and fifteen years, and whose remains are interred in the cemetery at that borough. Davis was born in Taunton, Mass., and resided in Greenfield at a huddle of cabins known as Log City, a mile or two toward North East from Colt's Station. When about one hundred years old, he moved to Michigan, where he died in the one hundred and fifth year of his age.

At what is known as Shadduck's Corners, a special post office was established June 15, 1883, with Daniel Hunt as Postmaster. The office is designated Hornby Post Office.

Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter XIII, pp. 782-786.


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