Fredonia, one of the growing places of Mercer
County, is pleasantly situated in a rich agricultural region, on the
west side of Otter Creek. some six or seven miles west of north of Mercer.
It lies partly within both Fairview and Delaware Townships, the larger
portion, however, having been located in the former. The first improvement
within the present borough limits was made in 1834 by Levi Arnold. It
embraced the clearing of ten acres of land near the site of the grist-mill
built by Mr. Arnold and subsequently owned by B. R. Mitchell. A little
more than half a century ago the site of the village was marked with all
the evidences of primitive wildness, no cabin or rude shanty of any kind
affording a home for civilized man. The land was composed of two distinct
“donation tracts,” which fact accounts readily for the tardy
development of the region.
Arnold had some progressive spirit, and moved
ahead until he became the holder of large possessions. An evil day finally
overtook him, and he was compelled to let his property go. In 1837-38
Mr. Arnold erected a grist and saw-mill, for many years known as
“Arnold’s Mills,” which may be regarded as the real beginning of the
In 1887 B. R. Mitchell built, on Arnold’s
land, a small, round-log cabin, not far from a refreshing spring. The site
was in the southeast part of the borough. In this rude dwelling lived Mr.
Mitchell’s family, and in it, too, his daughter Caroline first looked
forth upon this fair world, the first child born in Fredonia. She
subsequently married Mr. Studds, and became an honored resident of
Fairview Township.. Mr. Mitchell, a native of New England, thus became
one of the benefactors of Fredonia, and specially serviceable in its
The Arnold property was purchased by James
Sheriff, of Mercer. He subsequently sold to Jesse Bundle, an Eastern
man, who erected a tannery and a log house and made improvements in the
way of clearing. His business not proving successful he became
discouraged, and removed West “to grow up with the country.” Two other
men, Thomas White and William Thompson, were neighbors of Bundle, engaged
in an effort to clear their lands and establish homes. White soon
abandoned the struggle and left, but Thompson remained until the time of
Aaron Arnold was the first man to erect a
respectable dwelling-house in the new village. It would hardly pass muster
now, but served the purpose quite well then. It was a board dwelling, and
stood upon lands subsequently owned by William Simmons.
The real origin of Fredonia is traced to William
Simmons, who, in March, 1886, took possession of the house vacated by
Jesse Bundle, and at once commenced the erection of a frame store
building, the first of the kind in the village. In it he did a thriving
business, being urged on by the prospects of the completion of the
Shenango & Allegheny Railroad at an early date. Nor was be
disappointed. On land purchased by him he laid out the village, which some
of his friends were disposed to call, in honor of his name, Simmonsville.
This honor he generously refused, and suggested the name which it now
bears, Fredonia. Lots were now sold freely, and evidences of growth were
In 1867 William Thompson built the first regular
frame dwelling. The same year Mr. S. Royal built a blacksmith shop.
In 1870 a post-office was established, and Mr.
Simmons became the first postmaster, his commission dating August 8. Mr.
H. McKay began the same year to deal in grain and coal. In the latter
business he was succeeded by Harsh & Sutliff.
Dr. Cornelius Byles, in 1874, rented an office
and became the first physician of the place. Two years later he built an
office, and likewise erected the first hardware store. In November of this
year (1876) Dr. Davenny came from Oil City and located in the village.
In 1871 the planing-mill of Slater, Hoover &
White was established, George I. Sister erecting the building and
operating it for a time alone, and then accepting the other gentlemen as
In 1873 several improvements of value were made.
S. M. Loveland, from Otter Creek T wnship, established a large harness
shop. J. Bear built a tannery, which was operated by steam with eminent
In 1875 Roof, Pleifle & Co. built, on Main
Street, a large carriage manufactory, and John Noll built another, 22x50,
two stories high, on Water Street. At present a stock company operates the
factory. Its purpose is to manufacture vehicles on an extensive scale.
A large frame, steam flouting mill is now in
process of construction, and when completed will embrace the best and most
improved machinery. It will be owned and operated by George Gaiser, whose
long and successful experience as a miller is a guarantee of prosperity
in his new enterprise.
—Fredonia has two churches, Methodist and Presbyterian. The Methodist
Church erected its edifice in 1872, it being a modest structure, 30x40.
Preaching had been done for some years previous, the name of Rev. J.H.
Merchant appearing as early as 1870. The first sermon in the new house was
preached by Rev. Albert H. Kenney. The congregation has had a steady and
healthy growth. The following is the list of pastors: J. H. Merchant,
1870; D. A. Crowell, 1871; A. H. Kenney, 1872—73; F. Fair, 1874—76; J.
Abbott, 1877; J. Crum, 1878—79; John Perry, 1880—81; W. H. Mossman,
1882; B. M. Bear, 1888—85; G. J. Squier, 1886—present incumbent.
The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1875 by
Rev. James McLean, and a house of worship, a frame structure, about 40x50,erected at a cost of $3,000. The congregation is mainly a colony
from the Cool Spring Presbyterian Church, and embraced in its list of
original members James Walker and wife and children, A. D. Walker and Miss
Callie Walker, Thomas McCleery and wife, Dr. C. Byles and wife, Misses
Jennie, Lizzie and Julia Byles, William Moore and wife, James Byers and
wife, Elias Orr and wife, Robert, Samuel and John Orr, and Misses Sado,
Mary and Maggie Orr, Samuel White and wife, Samuel Baker and wife and
Charles Baker and wife. The following is the list of pastors: Revs. James
McLean, Thomas Hickling, J. M. Stitt, A. B. Lowes, S. L. Boston and J. E.
Irvine, the present incumbent The congregation enrolls 175 members, and
has a Sunday-school of 120 pupils.
— For a time the schools of the place consisted of an edifice which
belonged to District No. 5, Fairview Township. It proving too small, a
two-story structure with four rooms was erected to accommodate the people.
For several years a select school or normal academy has been conducted in
it with great acceptance.
- Eulalia Lodge No. 818, I. O. O. F., was organized December 80, 1872,
with twenty members. Its first officers were: S. M. Loveland, N. G.; S.
Baker, V. G.; B. A. Harsh, secretary; John Foster, assistant secretary,
and George Dunkle, treasurer.
Fredonia Grange No. 643 was established in 1872,
with upward of twenty members. Among its leading spirits were S. M.
Loveland, who was the first Master, William McKay and James Marsteller.
Like its sister organizations throughout the country, it has had its day.
Fredonia W. C. T. U. was organized November 25,
1881, at the Presbyterian Church, by Miss Narcissa E. White, with the
following charter members: Mrs. J. M. Stitt, Miss Sadia Pearson, Julia
Byles, Mary Pearson, Mrs. Mary Walker, Jennie Harsh, Mrs. W. Moore, Eva
Moore, Etta Walker, Mary E. Stubbs, and M. A. Braden. The officers in
succession from the first were: Presidents, Mrs. J. M. Stitt, Miss Mary
Pearson, Mrs. Mary Walker, Mrs. Eliza Ball; recording secretaries, Miss
Sadie Pearson, Mrs. Mary Stubbs, Miss Jennie Harsh, Mrs. F. G. Byles and
Mrs. N. A. Simmons. The Union is in good condition, and determined to
persevere in its noble purpose.
Fredonia was incorporated as a borough in
August, 1876, and then commenced its official life. The census of 1880
gave it a population of 823, which it is claimed, has increased to about
500 during the past eight years. Located in the center of a fine farming
district, there is no reason why the borough should not remain one of the
flourishing little towns of the county.
of Mercer County, pages 510-513