Erie County

Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister


North East Township and Borough of North East

The section of country now included in North East Township was known for several years as Lower Greenfield. It received its present title when the county was organized, and derived the name from its position as the northeast township of the original sixteen. Its limits were extended in 1841, by adding a wedge-shaped strip from Greenfield. The township has an area of 25,419 acres, with a frontage upon the lake of more than eight miles, a breadth of over seven miles in the widest part, along the New York line, and of a little less than five miles on the Harbor Creek line. North East Township is bounded on the north by Lake Erie, on the east by Chautauqua County, N. Y., on the south by Greenfield and on the west by Harbor Creek. Its lands average as well as any section of the county, and the township includes numerous intelligent and successful farmers. The lake shore plain is about three miles in width, rising gradually from a height of about seventy-five feet near the water's edge to a hundred and fifty feet or more in the vicinity of the borough. An abrupt rise takes place in Harbor Creek Township, at Twelve Mile Creek, and this elevation continues across North East nearly to Twenty Mile Creek, where the land again falls to the general level of the lake shore. The greatest height is on the Bothwell farm, a mile east of North East Station, where the summit of the railroad is attained between Buffalo and Erie. The lake shore lands readily produce every kind of grain, fruit, flower and vegetable that can be raised in this latitude, and are equal to the most noted in the world. East of Sixteen Mile Creek, on the Lake road, they are usually a sandy loam; west of that on the same road and on the Buffalo road they are of a gravelly nature. The hills in the south part rise gradually to the summit at Colt's Station, and there is scarcely any waste country in the township. The hill land is clay loam and gravel, and yields fine wheat, barley, etc. Land ranges in value from $50 to $125 an acre.

The population of the township has been as follows at the periods stated: 1,068, in 1820; 1,706, in 1830; 1,793, in 1840; 2,379, in 1850; 1,900, in 1860; 2,313, in 1870; and 2,152 in 1880. The assessment of 1883, gave the following results: Value of real estate, $1,382,699; number of cows, 754; of oxen, 10; of horses and mules, 572; value of the same $64,835, value of trades and occupations, $25,900; money at interest, $19,087.

Early Settlers
North East was the first of the lake shore townships to be settled, and by 1810 was pretty well covered with a hardy and worthy class of emigrants. The first settler to reach the township was Joseph Shadduck, who came in from Vermont, and took up a tract in 1794, near the center. He was joined in a few months by George and Henry Hurst from New Jersey. Although these parties located and made application for their lands in that year, they did not make an actual settlement until 1795. Henry Hurst, after a brief residence, moved to Meadville, and was elected to represent the five northwestern counties in the State Senate. Shadduck also changed, going to Greenfield, where he remained until his death. The same year that Shadduck and the Hursts made their settlement, George Lowry went in and took up a tract of 400 acres, in or near the borough. He was followed in 1796 by his mother, Margaret Lowry, and her family, who located 2,800 acres more in the vicinity of George's land, of which they paid the State for 2,000 acres. Mrs. Lowry was of Scottish and Irish birth, but emigrated to Cumberland County, in this State, and came from there to this county. She was the mother of ten sons, of whom four -- Robert, Andrew, George and Morrow -- married four daughters of James Barr, of Cumberland County. From this stock descended Hon. Morrow B. Lowry, so famous as a politician. James and Bailey Donaldson arrived in 1795; Henry and Dyer Loomis in 1796; Thomas Robinson, Joseph McCord, James McMahan (all of Perry County), William Wilson, James Duncan, Francis Brawley and Abram and Arnold Custard in 1797; Thomas Crawford, with his sons, William, James and Robert, Lemuel Brown, Mathew Taylor, William Allison, Henry Burgett, and John, James and Mathew Greer in 1797-98. In the summer of 1800, Robert Hampson, with his wife and one child, coming from Juniata County, settled in the township, where he lived until his death in 1851. Among those who reached the township about 1800 were Alexander T. Blaine, John and Andrew McCord, Samuel Graham, Robert Burrows, William Dundas, Mr. Campbell, Joel Loomis, James Barr, Timothy, Amos and Jerry Tuttle, Timothy Newton, James Silliman, Thomas Mellen, Cornyn Shadduck, Hezekiah and Tristram Brown, Robert McNeill, Stephen Sparrow, Perrin Ross, Charles Allen, John Russell, M. Brown and Hezekiah Brown. Of the later settlers, Henry Taylor located in the township in 1802; Wendell Butt, in 1810; Jesse Belknap, in 1812; Cyrus Robinson, in 1813; Justin Nash, Gilbert Belknap and W. E. Mason, in 1814; Harmon Ensign, Buell Phillips, Edmund Orton, Joseph Force, Joseph Law and Levi and Shubal Atkins, in 1815; Alexander Davidson, William Hall, Dr. Smedley, Clark Putnam and John Butt, in 1816; Arnold Warner, of Oneida County N. Y., in 1817; O. Selkrigg, in 1818; Hugh Beatty, in 1819; Clark Bliss, in 1821; Bester Town, in 1824; James Cole, in 1825; John Scouller, William Graham, D. D. Loop and N. C. Remington, in 1830; Amos Gould about 1831; E. N. Fuller, in 1835; Calvin Spafford, in 1836; J. S. Haynes, in 1837; William Griffith and R. A. White, in 1840; Stephen Griffith, in 1846; Henry Wolf about 1857; William E. Marvin and Isaac Wolf, in 1859. James Barr moved to Harbor Creek in 1813, and from there to Mill Creek. Levi Atkins died in the township a few years ago in his one hundredth year.

Reference is made in the general history to the litigation between the Pennsylvania Population Company and the citizens, who claimed title by virtue of mere settlement. The burden of these troubles largely fell upon the settlers of North East. The Lowrys, Wilsons and Barr fought the claims of the company until the matter was settled by the decision of the United States Supreme Court.

First Things
The first church was organized under the auspices of the Presbytery of Ohio in 1801. The first brick house in the county outside of Erie was erected by James Silliman in 1809, about a mile east of the borough, and is still standing. The first Justices of the Peace were Timothy Tuttle and Thomas Robinson, the first being commissioned March 3, and the second March 23, 1799. Mr. Robinson was the Justice who married the parents of Gen. C. M. Reed in 1801. The sacrament of the Lord's supper was administered for the first time in the county according to the Protestant form, at the house of the William Dundas in 1801. The first grist mill in the township was built by Col. Tuttle on Sixteen Mile Creek in 1807. The first building used for a schoolhouse was built in 1798, on "the north side of the main road near the house belonging to the Brookins farm." The first road was cut through from Freeport to Greenfield in 1797. The first mail route between Buffalo and Erie was established in 1806. The first regular line of coaches was in 1820-21. The first telegraph line was put up in 1847 or 1848. The first regular passenger train passed through from the State line to Erie on the 8th of January, 1852.

Railroads and Common Roads
The Lake Shore Railroad runs across the township from east to west, at an average of two miles from the lake, in nearly a straight line and with a very light grade. The road is almost straight between Erie and North East, and it is said that the signal lights can be seen at the Union depot a distance of fifteen miles. The New York, Chicago & St. Louis Railroad crosses the township in the same direction as the Lake Shore road, and, generally speaking, at a distance of only a rod or so south of it. Both roads have stations at North East and Northville. The common roads which are most extensively traveled are the Buffalo road, running across the township at an average distance of about a mile and a half south of the lake, and the Lake road, which approaches the water's edge in the eastern part of Harbor Creek, and follows the bank of the lake through North East Township, almost to the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek. From there to Twenty Mile Creek the direct road has been abandoned, but another road further back from the lake carries the route to the mouth of the latter stream, where it again follows the water eastward through New York.

The Creeks
North East is one of the best watered townships in the county, a great number of rivulets springing out of the high land in the south and uniting their waters before reaching the lake. The main streams are Twelve Mile Creek in the west, Sixteen Mile Creek in the center, and Twenty Mile Creek in the east, with Spring Creek, Spafford Run and Averill Run between. Twelve Mile Creek rises on the northern edge of Greenfield, flows in a general northeastern direction and falls into the lake in Harbor Creek, after a course of about thirteen miles. Sixteen Mile Creek takes its rise in Greenfield Township, within a mile of French Creek, passes the borough on its west side and enters the lake at Freeport. Its length is about ten miles, and its general course due north. About two and a half miles south of the borough, Sixteen Mile Creek is joined by Graham Creek, which rises in New York, and is perhaps four miles long. At the point of junction, there is a "hog's back" which is nearly perpendicular on the east side. The gully at the "hog's back" is not far from 200 feet deep. The heads of Twenty Mile Creek are in Westfield and Sherman Townships, Chautauqua Co., N. Y., and its mouth is near the northeast corner of North East Township. It enters the State about a mile above the crossing of the Lake Shore Railroad, and must have a length of ten to twelve miles. The deep gulf of this stream, which attracts so much attention from travelers, begins three or four miles south of the Lake Shore Railroad culvert, and continues nearly to the lake, some three miles further by the windings of the creek. Its depth where the railroad crosses is about 100 feet. The culvert at this point is a mammoth work, and one of the finest pieces of masonry in the country. The Nickel Plate road has an iron bridge some distance above, which is a skillful piece of work. The gully on the headwaters of Sixteen Mile Creek, in the south part of the township, runs out in the vicinity of the borough, but begins again just below, and continues to the lake. It is nowhere as abrupt as that of Twenty Mile Creek, except at the junction above referred to. Twelve Mile Creek has sharp banks from Moorheadville to its mouth, but above that the gully is less deep and striking than those of the other streams.

Manufacturing Establishments
Although North East may be said to be quite a manufacturing center, it is a curious fact that nearly all of the most important establishments are outside of the borough limits. Among the past and present mills and factories of the township are Gay & Betty's grist, saw and shingle mill, in the gulf of Twenty Mile Creek, at the crossing of the Buffalo road; Rhodes' cider and vinegar mill, a large four-story building, near the same; Jones' grist mill, built by James Haynes, to which a distillery was added by B. C. Town. In the spring of 1883, this mill passed into the hands of A. K. & W. K.Wing, who have enlarged it. Grimshaw's woolen factory -- built by Archibald Duncan in 1845 and burned in the spring of 1883 -- and Coffman's pump factory, all on Spring Run; a turning works, table factory, saw mill, the Franklin Paper Mill, Ezra Scouller's grist mill -- the largest in the township -- Bannister's brewery, Greene & Chase's cider and vinegar mill, now owned by Alfred Short; E. E. Nason's tannery, Green's door, blind and sash factory, Stetson's handle factory, a grape basket and fruit and cigar box factory, all on Sixteen Mile Creek; New Era Organ Factory -- started in the spring of 1873 by a joint-stock company -- Jones' barrel factory -- established in 1864 by Bothell & Clark, and burned in 1881 -- Applebee & Butt's steam saw mill and John Scouller & Tyler's large tannery -- built in 1875. All of these concerns, some of which are quite extensive, are within a radius of perhaps a mile from the public park, with the exception of those on Twenty Mile Creek. Most of the mills use steam and water. Besides the establishments named above. E. Scouller and Dr. Porter have warehouses on the railroad, just across the borough line, for handling grain, coal, lime, etc. There is also a cheese factory at Grahamville (started in 1881) and a saw and heading mill at the State line. The township contains three brick yards, two of which are managed respectively by Gen. Kilpatrick and John Kane, one the Francis Brawley farm, now owned by Sampson Short, two miles and a half west of the borough; and the third, near the borough, is owned by Dyer Loomis. The paper mill was established by Steel, Judd & Easton in 1833, and, after passing into the hands of William L. Hall, was burned in 1838. It was immediately re-built by John Scouller and Chauncy Easton, the former of whom soon purchased his partner's interest. Mr. Scouller sold the mill in 1853 to James S. Johnson, who was the victim of another file on the 16th of August, 1881, which almost totally destroyed the property. By July 2, 1872, Mr. Johnson had the mill running again on a more extensive scale than ever, but in re-building he became involved, and the low prices setting in at the same time, was obliged to succumb to the financial pressure. The mill was sold to Cochran & Young, of Erie, who ran it until January 1, 1883, when it passed into the hands of West, Swaney & Jackson, of Pittsburgh. These gentlemen failed, and the mill now belongs to the estate of Cochran & Young.

The Grape Culture
The culture of grapes was commenced in North East Township about 1850, by Messrs. Hammond & Griffith, who planted their first vineyard in the vicinity of Jones' grist mill. It was soon discovered that the soil and climate were peculiarly favorable to the growth of this luscious fruit, and the small beginning of thirty years ago has developed until there are thousands of acres under cultivation in the township. The South Shore Wine Company was formed in 1869. They built a large cellar on the road between the borough and lake, and have done an extensive business in shipping grapes and making wine. J. & C. Mottier have a smaller winery near by, and Alonzo Butt has another, about a mile and a half northeast of the borough. Most of the vineyards are north of the borough, on the fertile land between Sixteen and Twenty Mile Creeks. The grapes are shipped to all parts of the North, but the bulk of them are sold in Erie and the oil region. Besides the grape culture, the township has become an important berry, fruit, melon and vegetable growing region. A good deal of trucking is done for the Erie and oil country markets. The principal truckers are the Mottiers, Butts, McCords and McGaugheys. In the vicinity of the vineyards, and near the bank of the lake, is the Lake View House, which was at one period a promising summer resort. It is a large four-story building, surrounded by beautiful grounds and in a charming location. The enterprise was started by H. S. Southard in 1875. The villages of the township are Northville, Freeport and Grahamville. Northville is the only post office.

Freeport, at the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek, a mile and a half north of the borough, though now nothing more than a straggling collection of houses, was once expected to become a lake port of considerable magnitude. When the Population Company established their headquarters at Colt's Station, their supplies were first received mainly by boat from Buffalo and landed at Freeport. To transport these goods, the first road in the county -- with the exception of the old French road -- was opened from Freeport to Greenfield in 1797, which a year afterward was extended to Wattsburg. The road followed generally the same route as the one which now runs from the depot at North East, southward to French Creek. Quite a trade was done at Freeport till 1802, when the removal of the company's headquarters to Erie suspended the lake traffic. Afterward it did some business as a lumber port, but this did not last long. Capt. Freeman Judd built a small vessel at Freeport, with which he touched at the harbor as necessity required till 1834 or 1835, when the commerce of the port ceased, and has never been renewed. The village consists at present of a wagon shop, saw mill, turning and table factory and fifteen or twenty buildings. It is something of a fishing place and several families are supported by the fisheries. The first foundry in Erie County was established at Freeport in 1824, by Philetus Glass and others, for the manufacture of cast iron plows.

The village of Northville is mainly in New York, but the post office and church are in Pennsylvania. The place embraces a store, hotel, cooper shop, wagon shop, blacksmith shop, schoolhouse and twenty or thirty dwellings. The Buffalo road passes through, and the town is a station on the Lake Shore and Nickel Plate Railroads. The Methodist Episcopal Church at Northville is the only one in the township outside of North East Borough. It is at least sixty years old, and in its early existence was an appointment on North East Circuit and of the other circuits of which North East, Wattsburg and Ripley were parts. Since Ripley Circuit was formed, this appointment has been on that circuit. Among the early members of Northville Church were Jacob Pier and wife, Mrs. Crocker, Phoebe Myers (now Mrs. Taylor) and Benjamin Lawrence and wife; the latter was Class Leader in 1833. The first church building was erected in 1841, and the present one in 1880. Prior to 1841, the society worshipped in a school house on the York State side. The graveyard attached to the church has been in existence many years.

The little settlement of Grahamville, at the cross roads, about three and a half miles southeast of the borough, was founded by Samuel Graham, who came from Centre County in 1800, his brothers James and Ebenezer locating at the same time in Summit Township. A tannery was established there in 1835 by Robert Graham, a saw mill by James Graham in the same year, an ashery by E. N. Fuller in 1842, and a distillery, wagon shop and blacksmith shop some time between 1830 and the latter year. The place was at the height of its prosperity from 1842 to 1846, when, for some reason, it began to run down, the store being closed in 1847, and the ashery and distillery soon after. It consists at present of a schoolhouse (in which religions services are sometimes held), a cheese factory, blacksmith shop, wagon shop, about fifteen houses, and fifty or seventy-five inhabitants.

North East Township contains three regularly incorporated cemeteries, besides the graveyard at Northville and one near the woolen mill. The one known as the North East Cemetery, which is used by the borough and township in common, occupies high ground on the west bank of Sixteen Mile Creek, along the Buffalo road, a short distance west of the borough limits. The cemetery company was incorporated April 15, 1882. Twelve and one-half acres were purchased from the heirs of P. S. V. Hamot, to which five acres were added that had been used as a burial ground for fifty years. The cemetery of the Phillipsville Burial Ground Association is on the Henry Wolf farm, about two and a half miles east of the borough, along the Buffalo road. Although there has been a graveyard on the site for forty years, the management was never regularly incorporated until 1863. Mrs. Buel Phillips, wife of the donor, was the first person buried there. He death took place in 1822. The Grahamville Burying Ground association was incorporated in the spring of 1879. The society's grounds are on the road from North East to Grahamville, near H. G. Taber's. The site has been used as a graveyard for forty-three years.

In the western part of the township, located about a half mile north of the present track of the Lake Shore Railroad, was what was known as the Hildebrand house, in which school was taught about the year 1811 by Betsy McCray. In the same building Joseph Townsley taught. Not long after this (about 1814), a log schoolhouse was built eighty or one hundred rods south of the above-named site, in which the first school was taught by Joseph Neeley. Other early teachers in this building were Miss Eleanor Lawhead (who subsequently married a Moorhead), Charles Brown, a Mr. Stearns. Henry Neeley and George Hampson. This was up to about 1820. In the early history of the township, the children residing east of the "gulf," in the northeastern portion of the township, attended school in New York State. An early school was taught not far from the State line in a building vacated by James Taylor. A schoolhouse was built probably one mile from the line in York State as early as 1816. Ebenezer Poorman taught in these houses. About one mile southwest of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Northville, in what was known as the Orton District, a schoolhouse was erected, in which school was opened in the winter of 1832-33 by James Taylor, now of North East Borough, which was most likely the first school established in the northeastern part of the township, west of the New York State line. Mr. Taylor taught a school in the Belknap District, about one and one-half miles south of the Orton School, in the winter of 1833-34. The township maintains at present seventeen schools, and the school term consists of four months in the summer and four in the winter. Below is a list of the buildings, with their locations: Gay, near the mouth of Twenty Mile Creek; Dewey, on the Butt road; Jones, near the woolen factory; Freeport, near Scouller's mill; McCord, on Lake road; Brawley, on the Buffalo road, west; Maple Grove, on S. C. Remington's farm; Orton, on the William E. Marvin farm; Law, near the borough, in the south; Gifford, on J. E. Williams' farm; Spooner, on B. P. Spooner's farm; Putnam, in Putnam settlement; Union, on Greenfield line; Adkins, in Adkins settlement; Bird, near the southeast corner of the township; Grahamville, at Grahamville; and Bingham, near B. Bingham's. The Freeport, Brawley, Maple Grove, Law, Gifford, Putnam and Bingham Schools are of brick; the rest are of frame. The Union school is maintained jointly by North East and Greenfield.

Rev. Cyrus Dickson
Probably the best known name associated with North East Township is that of Rev. Cyrus Dickson, for many years the famous Secretary of the Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church of the United States. He was one of the most eloquent pulpit orators in the country, and his reputation was as extended as the Union. His grandfather, James Dickson, was a Captain in the Revolutionary war. Removing after the close of the war from the Mohawk Valley, where his father had first settled, he made his home for a time in Westmoreland County, Penn. Not satisfied there, he came with his family, in 1801, to Erie County, locating near the head-waters of French Creek. A few years afterward, his son William bought a farm in North East Township, near the lake, and there took up his residence. He married, after the death of his first wife, Christina, daughter of James and Catherine Moorhead; and in the log cabin of this uncleared farm was born, in 1816, Cyrus Dickson -- destined to become one of the most distinguished sons of the Presbyterian Church. He completed his college course at Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, in 1837; taught for a year or two, first in Girard, Erie County, and then near Princeton, N. J. -- at the same time studying theology and attending lectures at the seminary at the latter place. After the usual examinations, he was licensed in 1839 by the Presbytery of Erie to preach the Gospel. Within a few months he became settled in his first pastorate at Franklin, Penn.

Borough of North East

The borough of North East is very nearly in the center of the township, between its eastern and western lines, about a mile and a half south from the lake. It stands upon the highest ground of the lake shore plain, and is surrounded by one of the most beautiful and fertile sections of Erie County. It is an important station on the Lake Shore and Nickel Plate Railroads, fifteen miles east of Erie and seventy-three west of Buffalo. The Lake Shore road forms the southern boundary line of the borough and the Buffalo road is its main street. A branch of Sixteen Mile Creek runs entirely through the place and the main stream touches its southwestern edge, affording water-power to a number of mills and factories. North East is justly regarded as one of the most pleasant and enterprising towns in the county. It has good church buildings and supports excellent schools. It has a number of elegant private residences, and some of its stores are upon a scale that would do credit to a larger place. It is the center of a large manufacturing interest, and its mercantile establishments embrace almost every line of trade.

The land covered by the borough was purchased from the State by a man named Brown, who sold it in 1804 to an Eastern speculator by the name of Gibson. The earliest dwelling within the borough limits was a log cabin, built by William Dundas, a little to the east of the Presbyterian parsonage. In this modest abode the sacrament of the Lord's supper was administered for the first time in Erie County according to the Protestant form, on Sunday, the 27th of September, 1801. The Dundas property was sold in 1806 to Henry Burgett, who converted it into a tavern, and occupied it as such for many years. A more pretentious tavern was erected in 1808, by Lemuel Brown, grandfather of Gen. H. L. Brown, of Erie city, on the site of the present Haynes House. Previous to the ventures of Burgett and Brown, a tavern had been kept by George Lowrey, near the park. The first store was opened in 1816, by Alexander McCloskey, in a building on Main street, at the foot of Vine, which was long since destroyed. By degrees a village sprung up around the taverns, which received the title of Burgettstown, after Henry Burgett, the landlord. In 1819 the name was changed to Gibsonville, in honor of the man who owned most of the property, and donated the part. It was known by that title until the 27th of February, 1834, when the village was incorporated as the borough of North East. The original limits were extended in 1852, so that they are now about a mile in length by a little more than half a mile in breadth. The population by the United States census was 339 in 1840, 387 in 1850, 952 in 1860, 902 in 1870, and 1,396 in 1880. The Burgettstown Post Office was established May 10, 1812, and the name has been changed twice to suit the varying appellations of the town.

By the assessment of 1883, the real estate in the borough was valued at $526,025; the number of cows was 51, and of horses and oxen 141; their value was $13,075; the valuation of trades and occupations was $118,450, and $78,961 were reported as drawing interest.

Religious Societies
The churches of North East are seven in number, as follows: Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, St. Paul's Lutheran, St. Gregory's Catholic, German Evangelical, and Mission of the Holy Cross (Episcopal). The Presbyterian society, the oldest religious organization in Erie County, was founded in 1801, as "The Church of Lower Greenfield," in the house of William Dundas (which was afterward converted in Burgett's tavern), by Revs. McCurdy, Satterfield, Tait and Boyd, who were sent out as missionaries from the Ohio and Redstone Presbyteries. Thomas Robinson and John McCord were ordained as the first Elders. Services were held in the woods and in the barn or tan bark house of Joseph McCord till 1804, when a log church building was erected upon a tract of five acres, given for the purpose by Henry Hurst, which is now occupied as a part of the NorthEast Cemetery. A Sabbath school was established, and a day school was also maintained in connection with the church. In 1818, the congregation commenced the erection of a new frame building nearly in the center of the present park, which had been donated by Mr. Gibson, for public and religious use, and finished it in 1822. In 1832, fifty-eight members separated from the congregation and were constituted a church at Harbor Creek, leaving the original society 105 strong. The present building -- a large, handsome brick -- was completed in 1860, at a cost of about $9,000, and the old edifice in the park was torn down in 1862. The first regular minister was Rev. Robert Patterson, who was ordained as pastor of the churches of Upper and Lower Greenfield. His ordination took place September 1, 1802. His pastoral relation was dissolved by his own request April 22, 1807. From the date of his departure a long interval ensued, in which the church was without a regular pastor, with the exception of Rev. Mr. McPherson, who was employed for six months in 1812. In 1815-16, Rev. Mr. Easton was engaged for one-fourth of his time, the rest being spent at Erie and Fairview. Rev. Mr. Ely officiated half of his time for six months in 1823. Rev. Cyrus J. Hunter, present incumbent, took charge of the congregation July 16, 1880.

The Methodist Episcopal congregation was organized in 1812, with ten members, by Rev. Thomas Branch, a missionary from Connecticut. The original members were Tristam Brown, George Culver, John Russell and two others, with their wives. For ten years this small congregation was without a house of worship. In 1822, a brick building was erected on the eastern side of the park, facing the south. The present edifice was built in 1852 at a cost of $3,000, and the old one was torn down the same year. Rev. James Watts was the first pastor, and Rev. W. W. Woodworth, 1881-82-83.

The first Baptist society occupied a small log structure in the eastern part of the township. In 1832, a new congregation was organized, and erected a building on the Buffalo road, about two miles east of the borough in 1833. This society ceased to exist about 1850. A third congregation was established, through the efforts of Rev. Zabina Smith, in 1858. The present church building was put up in 1859, and a Sabbath schoolroom was added in 1870. The Rev. Mr. Smith served the church as pastor about two years. The pastors have since been L. Rathburn, Mr. Weatherby, Mr. Husted, William Dunbar, M. Tennant, Theodore Leonard, J. C. Ward, H. H. Cornish and Charles Parson, the present incumbent. The church membership now about 125.

St. Paul's German Evangelical Church was organized in 1864, by Rev. P. Brandt, who served as pastor of this mission in connection with the charge at Farnham, N. Y., until April 1866. He was succeeded by Rev. H. Kanold, who served the two appointments until November 1867. Then for one year the congregation had supplies only. St. Paul's became a separate charge in 1868, and the first pastor was Rev. E. J. Flickenstein, who entered upon his duties in October, 1868, and left the pastorate in September, 1872. Rev. E. Leemhuis, the present pastor, was his successor, entering upon the duties of his position in November, 1872. The church building was erected in 1867. Present voting membership, about eighty, principally the heads of families.

St. Gregory's Catholic Church was erected about the year 1866. For years prior to this, the Catholic families had been visited by priests from Dunkirk and occasionally from Erie. In July, 1870, Father F. Riordy, the present pastor, entered upon his duties as pastor of this parish in connection with the one at Girard. The church as first erected was a mere shell of a building, which has under Father Riordy's efficient pastorate been greatly remodeled and improved until the building is now a very neat, substantial and pretty one. A parsonage adjoins the church and is the property of the congregation. Father Riordy's predecessor was Father Madigan. The membership is composed of about fifty families.

The German Church of the Evangelical Association of North America was organized in 1870, yet preaching had been occasionally for several years prior to this time, the Rev. Louis Wilt, of Westfield, N. Y., officiating. The corner-stone of the present neat frame building on Division street was laid October 2, 1870, and the church completed and dedicated January 15, 1871; sermon by Rev. Louis Wilt. Mr. Wilt remained with the charge about two years after the building was dedicated, when he was succeeded by Rev. Jacob Long. He was succeeded by Rev. P. Klantz. Mr. Klantz's successor was Rev. Nathan Yoder, who was succeeded by Rev. John Honecker, the present pastor, in March 1880. Present membership, eighty.

The Episcopal Mission of the Holy Cross was organized in 1872. The society placed a neat building under roof during the season of 1879, which in due time was completed and is an imposing structure. The mission was supplied by Revs. McConnell, McKay, Tongue and Newman, during the years ending with 1876. Rev. J. Melville Benedict was installed on Advent, 1877. He left early in 1881, and was succeeded by Rev. J. H. Burton April 1 of the same year, who is still rector of the parish.

Public Schools and College
A day school was taught in the old log meeting house, above referred to, soon after the year 1804, which was maintained until about 1817, when a log schoolhouse was built and stood not far from the center of the park. This was the regular school for the vicinity, and among the teachers who taught in it were John Brown, Miss Leech and Miss Riddle. In 1824, the present Academy grounds were purchased and a small brick building erected, in which Rev. Miles Doolittle taught as early in 1826. In 1818, a summer school was taught in the office of Dr. Dunlap, the site being just in front of the present house of E. Scouller, Esq.

The next village schoolhouse was a larger frame building, erected in 1844, on the site of the brick house, at a cost of $3,000, raised by subscription. This was replaced by the present school building of four apartments, erected in 1878 at a cost of $10,000. We should have mentioned above that among the teachers in the brick house, built in 1824, were Dyer Loomis, Mr. Chambers and A. S. Moss. The public schools of North East are excellent. In 1878, F. N. Thorpe, Ph.D., was chosen as Principal and Superintendent, and at that time they became graded. Scholars are here prepared for college. The first commencement exercises were held in 1881, when a class of seven were graduated. There are now enrolled 348 scholars, under the care of the Principal and five lady assistants. In the old frame building, such educators as Profs. Post, Armstrong and Stewart taught. Mr. Armstrong was the first County Superintendent. Mr. Thorpe is still Principal of the schools, and the present Board of Education is B. C. Town, S. S. Hammond, Norman Clark, Ezra Scouller, D. D. Dewey and E. K. Nason. B. C. Town is President and S. S. Hammond, Secretary.

The Lake Shore Seminary was established at North East in 1870, occupying a stately four-story brick building on the highest knoll in the vicinity. While not denominational in its teachings, it was, to a certain extent, under the control of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Among its professors were J. P. Mills in 1872, L. T. Kirke in 1875-76, and H. U. Johnson in 1879-80. The seminary did not prosper and the buildings and grounds were sold at Sheriff's sale to the People's Savings Institution of North East. The bank in turn sold the property about February 1, 1881, for $10,000, to the Redemptionist Fathers of Annapolis, Md. It was dedicated as St. Mary's College August 2, 1881, and is used as a preparatory school for young men intending to enter the Catholic priesthood.

Hotels, Banks, Etc.
The hotels of North East are the Brawley House, built in 1883; the Haynes House, in 1852-53, and the Palace Hotel, by Sampson Short, in 1877. They are all well kept, and have a liberal patronage. The Palace Hotel is probably the finest public house in the county outside of Erie. The first hotel -- or more properly, tavern -- in the borough, as before stated, was opened by George Lowry, the second by Henry Burgett, the third by Lemuel Brown, and the fourth by the latter's son, Hiram L., who erected the house lately owned by Miss Davison for that purpose. In course of time, the tow Browns almost monopolized the tavern business of the town. Hiram L. eventually purchased the Eagle Hotel at the corner of State street and the northeast side of the Park in Erie. It burnt down and he erected another house on its site, which was known as Brown's Hotel until its purchase by Col. Ellsworth, when the name was changed to the Ellsworth House. The father of B. F. Sloan, of Erie, at one time kept a hotel in North East opposite the Brawley House.

North East until recently has supported three banks, namely, The First National, the private firm of Short, Blaine & Co., and the People's Savings Institution. The first banking institution of the borough was established on a small scale by A. W. Blaine about the year 1860, and was carried on at the corner of Lake and Main streets. This was merged into the First National Bank when it was organized in 1865. The First National Bank was opened in the building now occupied by that institution under the following officers and directors: William Griffith, President; A. W. Blaine, Cashier; Directors, william Griffith, John Greer, Amos Gould, George P. Griffith, A. F. Jones, J. S. Haynes and John McCord. The President of this bank is now W. A. Ensign and the Cashier is Charles A. Ensign. The capital stock has been$50,000 from the beginning.

The People's Savings Institution was incorporated in April, 1870, and opened for business May 1 of that year in Duncan Block on Main street. The first President was J. L. Brookins; Treasurer, John Greer, and Secretary, G.C. Cleveland. The present President is Alfred Short; Treasurer, B. C. Spooner. The firm of Blaine, Gould & Short, which subsequently became Short, Blaine & Co., opened in 1871 in the Graham Building on Main street. This institution stopped business May 14, 1883, to which the People's Savings Bank became successor, and moved into the building on Main street occupied by that firm as an office. The combined capital of these two banks is upward of $560,000.

The manufactories within the corporate limits are John W. Griffith's wagon and blacksmith shop; Fromyer's carriage and trimming factory, established by George French in 1865, and carried on by the Fromyer Bros. since May, 1878; Peese's tub and firkin factory, established in 1876 by David Pease and J. M. Cook; the latter going out in one year, the factory has since been carried on by Mr. Pease; Philetus Glass's foundry, established in the borough in 1851, by P. Glass and O. Chase, and the North East Fruit Canning establishment, which was started in the spring of 1880 by a number of enterprising men.

The newspapers until recently were the Sun and Advertiser, both published weekly, and both well edited. The first attempt to establish a paper was by J. J. Barker, who commenced the North East Guard in 1855, but only printed it a few months. In August, 1867, the North East Herald was put forth by S. O. Hayward, who abandoned its publication at the end of a year. The North East Star was commenced September 26, 1868, by Brainerd & Cushman, both of whom are now practicing lawyers in Erie. Mr. Brainerd sold his interest in 1869 to L. B. Cushman. The name of the paper was changed to the Sun in March, 1878. The North East Advertiser was started in March, 1877, by W. E. Belknap & Co. and so published until May 2, 1883, when the two papers were consolidated, Mr. Cushman, of the Sun, purchasing. Since that period the two have been issued under the title of the Sun from the former building of the Advertiser, now the Sun building, on Lake street. In politics, the Sun is Republican, and has a circulation of over 1,500. It is the largest paper in the county, being a quarto, with fifty-six columns.

Staff and County Officers
The State and county officials furnished by North East Borough and Township are as follows: Presidential Elector, John Greer, 1860. Congress, S. M. Brainerd, 1883-85 (resident of Erie when elected). State Senators, Henry Hurst, 1816-21 (resident of Meadville when elected); James D. Dunlap, 1845 (resident of Erie when elected). Assemblymen, James D. Dunlap, 1840-41 (resident of Erie when elected); Mark Baldwin, 1844; A. W. Blaine, 1850-51; Charles A. Hitchcock, 1876-77; Alfred Short, 1878-79. District Attorneys, S. M. Brainerd, 1872-76; A. B. Force, 1875-81; E. A. Walling, 1881-84. Sheriff, E. W. M. Blaine, 1840-43. Coroner, John McCord, 1812-15. County Commissioners, James Lowry, 1804-06; Francis Brawley, 1808-11; Henry Taylor, 1811-17; Alex. McCloskey, 1823-26; John McCord, 1832-35; Amos Gould, 1857-60; Clark Bliss, 1871-75. county Treasurer, James P. Crawford, 1881-84 (resident of Erie when elected). Associate Judges, John Brawley, 1840-51; John Greer, 1856-66. Director of the Poor, Archibald Dunman, 1862-65. Steward of the Almshouse, Calvin Pool, 1863-72; George W. Griffin, 1872-80. Mercantile Appraisers, John D. Mills, 1860; James W. Crawford, 1864; R. L. Pierce, 1874. county Auditors, James Smedley, 1831-34; William H. Crawford, 1836-39; George W. Griffin, 1869 (one year).

The contribution of North East and vicinity to the Union army in the rebellion was fully as large as any section of the county. She furnished one Captain to each of the Erie County regiments, viz.: N. L. Terrell, Captain Company K, Eighty-third; John Braden, Company F, One Hundred and Eleventh; Dyer Loomis, Company C, One Hundred and Forty-fifth. The borough has been visited by three destructive fires. One on Sunday night, the 19th of December, 1858, consumed a row of buildings extending from the Presbyterian Church to the Union Block. Another on May 23, 1872, destroyed a number of wooden structures on Main street. The last one, in the summer of 1874, demolished some buildings that occupied the present site of the opera house. Rev. Thomas H. Robinson, son of Thomas Robinson, one of the pioneers, has been pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Harrisburg many years. Dyer Loomis was elected Justice of the Peace in the spring of 1845, and held the office until the spring of 1880, a period of thirty-five years. North East A. Y. M., Lodge was organized in 1867. North East Lodge, I. O. O. F., was established in 1850.

Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter IX, pp. 750-760.


This page was last updated on  Wednesday, September 27, 2000.

Return to Erie County Genealogy Project

2016 Erie County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project