Erie County

Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister

Union Township and Borough of Union City

In the organization of Erie county, all that portion of its territory lying east of LeBoeuf and Waterford, to the western line of Wayne and Concord, was given the name of Union Township. From 1800 to 1821, Union and Brokenstraw, which included Wayne and Concord, formed one election district, a fact that has given rise to the erroneous conclusion with some that the first-named township covered that entire section. In 1825, Amity was taken from Union, leaving the township lines as they are found at present. Union Township is almost square, having a length of about six and a quarter by a breadth of about five and three-quarter miles. It is bounded on the north by Amity, on the West by Wayne and Concord, on the south by Crawford County, and on the west by LeBoeuf. The population was 200 in 1820, 235 in 1830, 543 in 1840, 1,080 in 1850, 1,854 in 1860, 1,334 in 1870, and 1,337 in 1880. The assessment for 1883 showed the following results: Number of acres, 21,331; value of real estate, $513,193; cows, 771, value $15,420; oxen, 26, value, $1,005; horses and mules, 273; value, $16,812; personal property, $33,237; trades and occupations, $1,350; money at interest, $6,351.
Union contains very little flat land, and such as there is embracing a few farm only, lies wholly along the South Branch of French Creek. The balance of the township is rolling, with few steep hills or abrupt ravines, almost every foot of ground being susceptible of cultivation. the country is mostly a grazing section, but wheat, corn, oats, etc., are raised in considerable quantities. Land is valued at $20 to $5 an acre according to the location. "The soil is generally a heavy clay, with an underlying strata of hard pan, excepting about 1,200 acres, which were originally covered with pine timber, and are a gravelly loam, underlaid with sand. The timber, aside from the pine above mentioned, was principally beech, maple, hemlock, cucumber and whitewood, with a ridge of oak and chestnut through the southwest corner." A sink-hole, similar to the one near Waterford, but of less extent, was encountered in building the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, a short distance outside of the borough.
The South Branch and Its Tributaries
The chief stream is the South Branch of French Creek, or Little French Creek as it is sometimes called, which rises in Concord, south of Corry, flows through the main part of the latter township, past Lovell's Station and Elgin, across Union from east to west, and joins the main stream in Le Boeuf, a few rods below the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad bridge, after a course of not far from twenty miles. From Corry to Le Boeuf, it furnished the route of the A. & G. W. and Philadelphia & Erie Railroads. In proportion to the amount of water, this stream furnished the most power of any in the county. Its tributaries in Union Township are, on the south side, Scotchman's, Wilson's, Mulvin's and Carroll's Runs, and on the north side Pine, Tolbert's and Benson's Runs, all small streams. Scotchman's Run rises in Bloomfield Township, Crawford County, and falls into the South Branch on or near the W. Wade farm, having a length of about four miles. It has two branches, known as Stewart's and Cochran's Runs. Wilson's Run also heads in Bloomfield, and, after a length of five to six miles, ends at Steenrod's mill. The head of Mulvin's Run is on the farm of S. Shreve, its mouth is on the Mulvin farm, and its length is some two miles. Carroll's Run starts on the M. Shreve place and ends in Le Boeuf Township, just across the line, after a course of about seven miles. Pine Run begins near the Wayne line. Its length is perhaps three and a half miles and it joins the South Branch on the John Caflish place. Tolbert's Run has its head on the R. S. Church place, and its mouth in the borough, near P. H. Thompson's mill. Its length is estimated at three miles. Benson's Run commences on land of James Roark, and, after a course of about two miles, terminates in the borough, near its western boundary. The main inlet of Oil Creek Lake, in Crawford County, rises in the southwest near the Le Boeuf line.
Bridges and Mills
The Philadelphia & Erie Railroad has five bridges over the South Branch, two in the township and three in the borough, while the A. & B. W. road, by following a higher grade, avoided the necessity of even crossing the stream once. The township bridges are good, but not expensive. The main thoroughfares are the old road to Wattsburg, the Smiley road to the same place, the Flats road to Waterford, and the roads to Corry, Concord, Titusville and Mill Village. The Philadelphia & Erie and A. & G. W. Railroads both cross the township from Le Boeuf to Concord, following practically the same route, by way of the South Branch, though at different elevations. A third railroad, the Union & Titusville, comes in from Crawford County, and connects with the Philadelphia & Erie at Union City.
The manufacturing concerns of the township are E. & J. Steenrod's saw and grist mill on the South Branch, east of the borough; Fenno's saw mill and Seymour's saw and shingle mill, both on Church's Run; J. F. Kamerer's saw mill, north of the borough; the West Union or Carroll's cheese factory, two and a half miles south of the borough on the Mill Village road; Wager's cider mill, one mile south of the borough; John Vermilyea's saw mill on the Town Line road; H. G. Bentley's saw mill, three and a half miles northeast of the borough; Miller's saw mill, in the south part; Harrison's, in the Wilson neighborhood; Lyon's mill, about two miles east of the borough; one on the South Branch, between the N. Y., P. & O. and P. & E. roads, about three miles east of the borough; Peter Thompson's, two miles southeast of the borough. The Carroll Cheese Factory was started May 6, 1872, and has been generally successful. The township has had at different periods as many as fifteen saw mills run by water and four by steam, the bare mention of which indicates the immense amount of timber that has been cut off and marketed.
Churches and Graveyards
The only church in the township is the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Chapel, which stands near the Mill Village road, almost on the line of Le Boeuf, three miles southwest of the borough. The congregation was organized with nineteen members, by Rev. John Scott, in 840, and besides the gentleman named, had Rev. D. Rowland as one of the first pastors. The building was erected at a cost of $850, in 1862, and has been recently repaired. It was attached to Wattsburg Circuit until the formation of Union City Circuit, when it was joined to the Riceville Circuit. About 1875, it was made a part of Union City Circuit, to which it now belongs. The membership is about sixty-five. Quite a neat graveyard, the only one outside of the borough cemeteries, is attached to the chapel. Most of the burials from the township are made at Union City. One of the earliest if not the first school of the township was taught during the war of 1812, by William Craig, in a house vacated by Thomas McElhany. Probably the next school was taught by Mrs. Susanna Pain, during the summer of 1815, in a log cabin built by Hugh Wilson. She also taught the following summer in her own house. The first house built for a school which was successful was erected about 1818, near the mills, now Union City. William Kelley, and Irishman, taught here two winters. Mr. Young followed. David Sacket, who hailed from the East, taught here in 1825, and from that date schools were frequent. In the fall of 1835, a second house was built, two and one-half miles distant, where David Wilson taught for four winters.
Following is a list of the township schools: Howard, Wilson, Norton, Thompson, Sherwood, Mulvin, Smith, Fenno, Bentley, Kimball, Beach, Shreve, Mitchell.
Smith's quarry, a mile north of the borough, on the Wattsburg road, and Wellman's, in the Carroll settlement, near the Le Boeuf line, are the only ones in the township.
Early Settlers
The first settler in Union Township was Hugh Wilson, from the North of Ireland, who came early in 1797 and was joined the following year by Andrew Thompson, wife and four children, Matthew Gray, wife and son Francis B., and Robert Smith. Jacob Sheppard, from the Susquehanna Valley, went in during the year 1798, but left and did not return until 1820. About the same time that Sheppard first came, John Wilson, father of Hugh, arrived direct from Ireland, with two grown daughters. John Fagan, from Franklin County, settled on the Russell Church farm about 1798, but changed to Mill Creek Township in 1803 or 1804. William Miles and his family moved over from what is now Concord in 1800, and were followed by Miles' brother-in-law, William Cook, with his family, in 1801. During the latter year, the settlement was increased by the arrival of Abel K. Thompson, with five sons and two daughters, and of Ferdinand Carroll and family from Ireland. From that date to 1816, it does not appear that any permanent acquisitions took place, but in the latter year James Smiley with his wife and six children were added to the colony. Of later settlers, Richard Shreve made his location in 1820, Levi Barnes and Abram Emerson in 1821, and Daniel Dunham in 1836. Mr. Shreve had been a resident of Crawford County, and Messrs. Barnes, Emerson and Dunham were from the interior of New York. Matthew Gray founded the first tannery. William Carroll was five years old before his father reached the township. Mr. Smiley had charge of Miles' mill for many years. The colonists were few until about 1830. Most of the families, now in the township, came after that year.
The first death was that of John Wilson, father of Hugh, who departed this life in June, 1799, and was buried in a natural mound in the forest. The first child was Martha, daughter of Hugh Wilson and wife, born August 18, 1800. The first marriage, and the first in the south part of the county, was that of William Smith and Elizabeth Wilson, in 1799, and the second that of Thomas King and Sarah Wilson in 1800, both ladies being daughters of John Wilson. Mrs. Smith, nee Elizabeth Wilson, died August 6, 1875, in Wayne Township at the extraordinary age of ninety-nine years, being the fourth oldest woman who has lived in the county. Hugh Wilson was the first Justice of the Peace in Erie County south of the Triangle. He was commissioned by Gov. McKean in 1803, and held the office till 1816 or 1817, when he resigned. While he held the position, he officiated at most of the marriages in that part of the county.
Union City and Union Township have furnished the following county officers: Sheriff, F. E. Staple, January 1, 1880, to January 1, 1883. County Treasurer, W. O. Black, December 20, 1860, to December 23, 1862; C. W. Keller, December 26, 1866, to March 10, 1870, when he resigned. County Commissioner, Robert Gray, 1843 to 1846; William Putnam, 1858 to 1861. Jury Commissioner, P. G. Stranahan, 1867 to 1870; James D. Phillips, 1882 to 1884. Director of the Poor, Andrew Thompson, 1865 to 1870; M. B. Chamberlain, 1873 to 1876; Jefferson Triscuit, 1878 to 1885. County Surveyor, David Wilson, 1852 to 1854. County Auditors, Robert Gray, 1852 to 1856; Thomas Woods, 1869 to 1872. County Detective, Daniel Mitchell, January, 1876, to January, 1879. James Miles, who left Union to make his home at the mouth of Elk Creek in 1832, was a County Commissioner from 1835 to 1838, and an Associate Judge from 1851 to 1856. Newton T. Hume, County Treasurer from January 1, 1875, to January 1, 1878, though elected from Wattsburg, was long a resident of Union City. Joseph Sill was Assistant Assessor of Internal Revenue under the United States Government for several years.

Borough of Union City

The borough of Union City stands upon both sides of the South Branch of French Creek, very nearly in the center of Union Township, at a distance of twenty-seven miles by railroad southeast from the water's edge at Erie. The settlement was first given the name of Miles' Mills, which was changed to Union Mills in 1863, when it was created a borough, and finally to Union City July 4, 1871. The earliest buildings were erected on the flat land, in the narrow valley of the creek, immediately around what is now known as Church's mill, from which point the town has spread to the ridges north and south for probably half a mile in each direction. As a railroad point, Union City has few superiors in this part of the country, the Philadelphia & Erie and Atlantic & Great Western both passing through, and the Union & Titusville having its northern terminus in the town. There are four dams on the South Branch in the space of half a mile within the borough limits. The population was 1,500 in 1870, and 2,171 in 1880.
The Founder
The founder of Union City was William Miles, a native of Ireland, who was brought to this country when eight years of age, his parents settling in the eastern part of Pennsylvania. While quite young, he volunteered as a soldier in the Revolution, was stationed at Freeland's fort in Northumberland County, which was attacked and captured in 1778 by the Indian allies of the British, was sent to Quebec as a prisoner of war, and was kept there in dreary confinement for the long term of five years, or until our National Independence was acknowledged. The father of Mr. Miles was killed in the fight. On his release, William Miles returned to the Susquehanna Valley, and in 1785 surveyed the Tenth Donation District, extending from near Waterford Borough to the Warren County line, and then returned East. In 1795, he gain came West and located in what is now Concord Township. In 1796, Mr. Miles made a clearing and built a storehouse at Wattsburg, where for some years an extensive trade was carried on in furs and supplies. In 1800, he moved his family to Union, where he commenced the erection of a grist and saw mill combined on or near the site of the present Church mill, completing it in 1801. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1802 and rebuilt in 1803. Added to his other business, Mr. Mile cleared a great deal of land, opened roads, secured a mail route, and had a post office established, with himself as Postmaster. In 1822, he established a grist mill and saw mill at Wattsburg, and in 1828 laid out that town, naming it after his wife's father, David Watts, Sr., of Carlisle. Mr. Miles died in Girard Township, in 1846, at the age of eighty-seven. William Cook followed Mr. Miles to Union with his family in 1801, where he died in 1830. He had been a Surgeon in the Revolutionary army.
Growth of the Town
Up to the year 1855, the settlement consisted of but a few buildings surrounding the mills, and gave no promise of the bright future that proved to be in store for it. In that year, H. L. Church, A. L. Summerton and D. M. McLeod moved over from Warren, rebuilt the mills, started a store and sold some lots. A town was laid out by David wilson, under the patronage of James Miles -- who still owned much of the property -- which included only a trifling part of the present borough. About 1856, Mr. Summerton surveyed the plat since known as Summerton Hill. Previous to that, in 1852, James Miles had been made a Director of the Philadelphia & Erie road, and by his influence the route was carried to Union instead of Wattsburg. In 1858, the road was opened to Union. In 1859, P. G. Stranahan, who had been a farmer and hotel-keeper on the Moravian flats in Le Boeuf, purchased the Miles homestead, which he has occupied ever since, laid out an addition to the town on the south side, and sold off a large number of lots, continuing to make additions and sales for ten years. The Atlantic & Great Western road being built through Union in 1862, gave increased value to property on that side of the town, and in 1865 James Sill, P. G. Stranahan and Joseph Sill bought and laid out the Black farm into lots, which sold rapidly. In 1866, James Sill purchased the Tourtellott farm, on the north side, and in 1873, E. W. Hatch the Smiley farm, adjoining, both of which were surveyed and a large number of the lots sold. Another addition was made by T. B. Shreve, south of the Atlantic & Great Western road, about the latter year.
The first strong impulse was given to Union by the opening of the Philadelphia & Erie road, and this happy circumstance was followed by another in the summer of 1859, which may be said to have been the making of the town. This was no less an event than the development of natural oil as an article of commerce at Titusville. In 1862, three oil refineries and several large cooper shops were funning to their fullest capacity. The completion of the Oil Creek road during the latter year gave a sudden check to this thrifty condition of affairs, by doing away with the hauling by wagons and diverting the oil traffic to Corry. The town had a live population, however, and gradually picked up again. In the fall of 1870, Woods & Johnson started the largest barrel factory that had then been built upon the continent. In enterprise, population and importance, Union City is the third place in the county. In 1865, James Sill and P. G. Stranahan originated the Union & Titusville road. It was not completed, however, till February, 1871, after the oil center had changed from Titusville, and has never realized the hopes of the citizens. While upon the subject of oil, it may be stated that for many years -- commencing long before Drake's discovery at Titusville -- the fluid was gathered on the banks of the creek at Union. The most prolific yield was at the foot of the hill on which Mr. Stranahan's residence stands. A well was sunk there about 1859, to a depth of 100 feet, and deepened to 900 feet in 1864, and other wells were put down along the stream.
Union has an unusual number of good residences, and the character of the ground affords many attractive sites for the purpose. Its churches and hotels are among the finest in the county. Its business houses embrace every variety usually found in places of the size, and being almost entirely upon one street, within moderate limits, an air of life and thrift is given to the town which makes a pleasant impression upon strangers.
The hotels of Union City are the Johnson House, Cooper House, Coleman House, Farmers' Hotel, Burns House and St. Charles Hotel. It possesses three public halls -- Deamer, Keystone and the Good Templars.
The secret societies consist of the Masons, Odd Fellows, Grange, Knights of Honor, Grand Army of the Republic, Good Templars, Equitable Aid Union, Royal Arcanum, and Royal Templars of Temperance. Eureka Lodge, F. & A. M., No. 366, was organized in 1865; it now has about sixty members. Clement Lodge, No. 220, I. O. O. F., was chartered August 26, 1871; it contains 118 members, and meets every Tuesday evening. Nineveh Encampment, No. 248, I. O. F., was chartered May 18, 1874, and has a present membership of fifty-three; its evenings for regular meetings are the second and fourth Fridays of each month. Union City Grange, No. 89, Patrons of Husbandry, was chartered June 29, 1874. Israel Lodge, No. 50, Knights of Honor, was organized December 11, 1874, with about twenty members, now increased to fifty-four. John W. McLane, Post No. 102, G. A. R., was chartered June 24, 1876, with sixteen members.Its present membership is fifty-nine. Union City Lodge, No. 1015, Independent Order of Good Templars, was organized with eighteen members; its charter bears date February 27, 1878. Banner Union, No. 12, Equitable Aid Union, was organized August 22, 1879; it now numbers fifth-three members. Union Council, No. 198, royal Arcanum, was chartered with ten members May 3, 1880. Star Council, No. 58, Royal Templars of Temperance, was instituted August 5, 1880, and now has a membership of about forty. Besides these, there is Union City Branch, No. 12, of the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association, with a membership of seventeen.
The public schools of Union City are nine in number, including a high school, and by the last report gave tuition to 423 pupils. The high school and four of the graded schools are in one large building; the remainder are in another on the opposite side of the town. The Principal of the high school acts as Superintendent of all, visiting each at least once a week.
There are two banks at Union City. Cooper's, of which Ezra Cooper is President and W. B. Foster, Cashier, has been in operation for many years. The Farmers' Co-operative Trust Company commenced a banking business in the summer of 1883. Jonathan Canfield is President; W. W. Deem, Cashier. The borough has suffered severely through the recent failure of two banks.
Brisk as Union is in other respects, it is as a manufacturing town that it specially excels. The variety and importance of its interests in this direction will be appreciated by an examination of the following list of establishments: Anchor Grist Mill, Cafflish Brothers' steam saw mill, Blanchard & Hanson's furniture factory, Clough's shingle mill, Cooper's planing mill, Church's grist and saw mill, Clark & Son's saw, stave and handle mill, Dunmeyer's Industrial Iron Works, Hunter's pump factory and planing mill, Hatch's broom factory, Irwin's carding and grist mill, Jones' cheese factory, Jones' cheese box factory, Jenkins' sash, door and blind factory, Lamphier & Brower's carriage and wagon factory, Morton's wagon factory, Pratt & Son's saw mill, Terrill's tannery, Thompson's water wheel works, Union City Iron Works, Union City Chair Company (moved from Jamestown, N. Y., about March 1, 1881), Woods & Johnson's barrel factories, Westcott's broom handle factory, Woods' stave factory, Wager's beer brewery, Westcott's dowel pin factory. The largest manufacturing establishment in the borough is the Union City Chair Company, which makes daily about 400 chairs, sold mainly in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware and West Virginia. The business was commenced on an extensive scale in the spring of 1881, but the shops were totally destroyed by fire in the following July. Messrs. Heineman & Cheney, the present proprietors, immediately rebuilt them. The main building is 120x40 feet, two and a half stories high, with an addition 60x30 and other adjoining buildings; all kinds of wood seat chairs are made and constant employment is given in the shops to thirty-five men. The Anchor Mills, Camp, Geiger & Beebe, proprietors, is one of the best and most extensive in the country, doing a business of half a million annually. The mills are fitted out with all the improvements and have a capacity of seventy-five barrels of flour per day. The Union City Iron Works, where portable and stationary, upright and horizontal engines are manufactured, also deserves special mention as a business industry of the place, as does likewise the pump factory of J. W. Hunter. This list does not take in the many small shops that are incident to a town like Union. Five of the above-named works -- Church's grist and saw mills, Cooper's planing mill, Clark's factory and Blanchard & Hanson's factory -- are run by the water of French Creek; two others -- Thompson's and Irwin's by that of Church Run, and the balance by steam. (Since the above was placed in type, Church's Mill has burned down.)
Church Organizations
Union City contains Presbyterian, Methodist Episcopal, Catholic, Baptist and United Brethren Churches, all of which are creditable edifices, though the first-mentioned is the costliest and finest.
The Presbyterian congregation was organized with nine members, by Rev. John Matthews in 1811. The first church building was erected in 1831, on a lot donated by William Miles, who also contributed $50; and the present one which cost $12,000, was dedicated February 24, 1874. The sheds were built in 1875, and a fine chapel, the gift of Mrs. Jane Gray, widow of Robert Gray, was added in 1879. Mr. and Mrs. Gray were the only original members who lived to worship in the new church. When the congregation was organized, it consisted of but eight members, besides Matthew Gray, the Elder. Rev. Mr. Matthews supplied the pulpit until 1820, when Rev. Amos Chase took his place, giving to the church one-fourth of his time. The following is a partial list of the pastors since: Revs. Absalom McCready, Pierce Chamberlain, Thomas Anderson, and J. F. Reed; Rev. J. M. Gillette becoming pastor and remaining till 1873. He was followed by Rev. R. B. Dilworth, the present pastor. The present membership of the church is about two hundred.
The Methodist Episcopal congregation was organized by Rev. Ira Eddy in 1817, six years after the Presbyterian, and had Rev. John P. Bent as its first pastor. The first church was built in 1847, and the second and present one in 1862, costing $10,000. Since the formation of Corry circuit, the pastors of the congregation have been S. L. Wilkinson, R. F. Keeler, G. W. Staples, W. Hollister, G. W. Staples, W. Hollister, O. L. Mead, J. Whitely, A. J. Merchant, A. Van Camp, W. H. Mossman, F. H. Beek, J. C. Scofield, N. H. Holmes. The membership is about two hundred. In its early history, this charge was a part of Wattsburg Circuit. About a quarter of a century ago, Union City Circuit was formed, which now, besides the church in the borough, includes Asbury Church of Union Township.
St. Teresa Catholic Church was organized about 1857. Catholic families had settled here about 1854, and were attended for several years from Pittsburgh. Father Emerand, O. S. B., then held services for several years. At the opening of the rebellion, he enlisted as Chaplain of a regiment under Gen. Rosecrans and was killed in service. Rev. T. Lonnergan, of Corry, took charge of the congregation in 1860, and under efforts put forth by him, a church was immediately built. He attended the charge until 1867 and his assistants until a year later. Father P. J. Morrell was then pastor for a year, succeeded by Father John L. Madigan, who remained until 1871. Father Joseph M. Dunn, the present pastor, then commenced his labors here. The school was built in 1866 and enlarged in 1875, and the parochial residence was erected in 1874. The congregation numbers about ninety families. The school is attended by about one hundred and thirty pupils, and is in charge of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
The Baptist Church at Union City was formed with eleven members in August, 1859, in the Methodist Episcopal Church, by the withdrawal of members residing in Union city and vicinity from the Wattsburg Baptist Church. They were recognized by churches in the Harmony (N. Y.) Association in June, 1860. Elder L. Rathbone preached occasionally to the congregation in the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, and in 1862 Rev. A. D. Bush accepted a call to the pastorate. Under his persistent labors a meeting-house was erected. In 1865, Rev. A. Tennant commenced a long and successful pastorate. In 1871, Rev. B. C. Willoughby became pastor, succeeded at the expiration of a year by Rev. W. L. Anthony. Rev. William Gilkes followed, remaining nearly three years. Then Revs. T. J. Knapp, T. A. Edwards and A. D. Bush successively assumed charge, the latter, who is present pastor, taking charge in November, 1882. The membership is now about one hundred.
The United Brethren society was organized about 1872, succeeding an old class which formerly met at Kimball's Hill, two miles northwest from the borough. In that year, Rev. W. R. Allen preached on this circuit. The early services were held in the Presbyterian Church until 1876, where a large frame church was created at a cost of over $2,000, and the work of its completion is still i progress. Meetings have since been held in the basement of the church. The membership is about fifty. The appointments in this circuit are three -- Union City, New Ireland, three miles west, and Valley in Crawford County. The pastors since 1872 have been Revs. H. H. Barber, J. Hill, J. W. Gage, W. Rittenhouse, A. K. Root, W. H. Chiles, D. C. Starkey, W. H. Chiles and W. Rittenhouse.
An Episcopal congregation was organized in 1875, but had no church, and is now defunct.
Evergreen Cemetery, the principal burying place of town and township, is a beautiful piece of high, dry, gravelly ground, on the Concord road, near the southeast edge of the borough. It was originated by David Wilson, who laid out the plat and was the first President of the company. The cemetery was dedicated in September, 1865. The Catholic Cemetery, near the other, was consecrated about 1860 and embraces about an acre and a half. The soldiers' monument in Evergreen Cemetery was dedicated on May 30, 1884.
The earliest newspaper in the town was the Union Mills Bulletin, started by William C. Jackson in 1865, and continued by him for one year, when the office was purchased by H. G. Pratt and Fi. Burrington, who changed the name to the Star. These gentlemen held out for about a year and then moved to Corry, where the establishment was merged with the Republican. The town was without a journal until November, 1870, when the Union City Times appeared, with Robert Troup as editor. The Times was printed in the Dispatch office at Erie for about two years, when Mr. Troup associated J. E. Locke with him, secured material and issued it at home. In August, 1873, H. D. Persons and L. B. Thompson bought the office, taking possession September 1; six months afterward, Mr. Thompson retired from the firm, and in March, 1874, W. F. Richards formed a partnership with Mr. Persons, which arrangement terminated in about four months, and Mr. Persons continued the management until the spring of 1875. By an arrangement with the owners of the Corry Republican, brought about through the agency of S. Todd Perley, the two offices were moved to Erie May 1, 1875, and their material was used in the publication of the Argus, which had a brief but brilliant career. After the failure of the Argus, Mr. Persons took his office back to Union and re-established the Times on the 12of of August, 1875. The establishment was purchased by Dr. D. P. Robbins in November, 1877, who sold to F. E. McLean in August, 1878, and in November, 1879, Mr. McLean associated with him in partnership W. A. Moore. This latter gentleman, in May, 1880, sold his interest to A. F. Moses, who in turn conveyed it a year later to J. C. McLean and W. G. Lefevre. It was then published under the name of the Times Publishing Company, until May, 1882, when F. E. & J. C. McLean became sole proprietors, and are now its publishers. In February, 1875, Mr. L. B. Thompson moved the Enterprise from Waterford to Union City, and issued it until June of the same year, when it was bought by Pratt Bros. & Hubbard. Mr. Hubbard soon retired from the firm, and Pratt Bros. continued the paper at Union until November, 1877, when the office was moved to Corry and the Corry Herald established. The Union City Advertiser was begun in the summer of 1874, by Hildreth, Young & Co., to give publicity to their Photocrome business. The work was done in the Waterford Enterprise office, and shortly after the removal of that paper to Union City, as above stated, the Advertiser was discontinued. Early in 1879, M. H. Fenno started an edition of the Corry Herald for Union circulation, calling it by the name of the Record. Its list was purchased by F. E. McLean in November, 1879, and combined with that of the Times.
The assessment for 1883 gave the following results: Value of real estate, $388,870; cows, 123; value, $2,460; oxen, 6; value, $250; horses and mules, 148; value $6,887; personal property, 49,607; trades and occupations, $49,310; money at interest, $41,921.
The first successful school was established about 1820, in a building which stood on High street where Leander Miller lives. The first tavern was opened by David Jones in 1829. The first store was started in 1831 by Fleming & Brewster, of Erie, and was run for them by Julius Hitchcock. The old portion of P. G. Stranahan's residence, which probably antedates any other building now standing in the town, was built by William Miles in 1828.
A tavern was built in 1832, near the old mill, by Asa Walton and Washington Webber. The property was purchased in 1838 by Capt. A Tourtellot, who rebuilt the house. D. Dunham & Sons started a tannery in 1836, and continued until 1871. The South Branch is crossed within the borough by two iron bridges and one wooden bridge, of eighty feet span each. The iron bridges were put up about 1871, and cost $3,000 apiece. A substantial wooden bridge enables the Union & Titusville railroad to connect with the Philadelphia & Erie a short distance east of the depot building of the latter road.
The most extensive fire that Union has known broke out in the Stranahan Block about half-past 3 o'clock on the morning of April 24, 1879, and swept down both sides of Main street to the creek, destroying buildings and goods estimated at the time to be worth $75,000, not more than half of which was covered with insurance. A large share of the burnt district has been rebuilt with a better class of structures than before. The next great fire occurred on Monday night, the 24thof July, 1882, and destroyed property to the value of $50,000. It originated in the boiler house of Hineman & Cheney's chair and furniture factory, and burned down eight buildings, besides damaging two others. The insurance was not much more than one-fourth of the loss. Another fire on the evening of Wednesday, May 28, 1884, burned down a row of frame buildings adjoining the Johnson House, occupied by seven business firms. The loss was about $12,000. The most destructive flood known in the history of Union City occurred on the 4th of February, 1882.
Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter III, pp. 684-695.


This page was last updated on  Sunday, January 14, 2001.

Return to Erie County Genealogy Project

2016 Erie County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project