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History of Bedford and Somerset Counties
Chapter 30: Townships in Somerset County, Part Three
Note: There are three parts to this chapter: Part One | Part Two | Part Three
A close examination of the records shows that Shade township as first formed contained within its limits all of the present townships of Paint and Ogle, it thereby taking in a part of what had belonged to Conemaugh when first created. Petitions for the division of Shade into two townships were filed as early as 1828, but in various ways action was delayed until 1836, when Paint Township was finally organized.
In the beginning of the settlement of the county this section did not attract the same attention that was bestowed on many other parts of the county, and it was, therefore, very backward in being settled, and when settled it was mostly in the western part. Even when organized, in 1837, there were but eighty-four taxables. John Fyock is supposed to have been the first settler. Joseph and David Troyer were also in the township at a very early day. Melchoir Seese, Christian Kauffman and Philip Hoffman came only a little later. No dates can be assigned for any of them except Philip Hoffman, who came from Maryland between 1790 and 1795. He was a weaver by occupation. His wife was Barbara Miller.
A gristmill was built by David Livingston at the mouth of Shade creek in 1812. There were also a sawmill and a carding mill at the same place in 1837. When the township was formed there were two gristmills in it, the second one being owned by William Moore. A fulling and carding mill were owned by Frederick Reininger. It is said that no still was ever operated in Paint township. Until 1895 Paint was purely an agricultural township, its people depending on the products of the soil for a living. Little account was taken of the vast stores of wealth lying beneath the surface of almost every farm. By 1895 the western and northern parts of the township, as we now know them, had become fairly well settled. Much of the advance of the township up to this time was due to the growth and prosperity of Johnstown. As that place grew in population it afforded a ready market for all kinds of farm produce, within Paint and Conemaugh townships, and this was an inducement to persons who wished to engage in farming to settle here. The first store in the township was opened by Jacob Berkeybile, in 1848, at Hillsboro, near Shade Furnace. The first brick house in the township was built by David Berkey.
Since 1898 a great change has taken place in Paint township. From a purely agricultural district it has become the center of some of the most extensive mining operations in the state of Pennsylvania. Millions of tons of coal are mined and shipped each year. Two large and flourishing towns, Windber and Paint, have sprung into existence on its northern edge. In 1839 the total valuation of the township was $27,241, and it is no stretch of the imagination to say that $60,000 would have bought up the entire township. Today it would take millions of dollars to do it.
Benson borough is one of the three boroughs of Paint township and is located in a bend of Stony creek. It was laid out by Emanuel Eash, in 1880, as the town of Bethel. A United Brethren church had been built here in 1874. The first dwelling house was built in 1880 by Hiram H. Boyts. The first store was opened by Tobias Mishler, who was also the first postmaster, a postoffice having been established in 1881 under the name of Holsoppel. J. W. Whisler succeeded Mr. Mishler, both in the mercantile business and the postoffice. John Hoover built a gristmill in 1881. A large steam flouring mill was built some years later by the Farmers’ Milling Company. A plant for the manufacture of fertilizers was operated by J. A. Boyer for some years in the earlier history of the town. He also operated a steam sawmill in the town. Such were the beginnings of the village of Benson, which, all things being considered, has had quite a rapid growth. In 1900 it had a population of two hundred and fifty.
In January, 1903, almost every business house in the place was destroyed by a fire, which started in the Farmers’ Milling Company’s mill at an hour when the entire town was still wrapped in slumber. The mill was destroyed. Three horses belonging to the milling company were burned to death. There was no fire department and the bucket lines could do nothing toward stopping the spread of the flames. Two dwelling houses and the general store of A. E. Cassler, in which the postoffice was located, quickly shared the fate of the mill. Two dwelling houses belonging to Leon Holsoppel; the Kautz Hotel, belonging to Mrs. Sue S. Holsoppel, and the large general store of Lewis Helsel all fell a prey to the flames. The losses reached fully $50,000 somewhat less than one-half of which was covered by insurance. The gristmill, a three-story building, one hundred by eighty feet and well equipped, was not rebuilt. Another large mill has, however, been built since by the White oak Mill and Elevator Company.
On April 14, 1898, a steam sawmill in Paint township, belonging to Charles Holsoppel, was wrecked by a boiler explosion, in which Sidney Holsoppel, was killed and Charles Holsoppel so badly injured that he died within a day. Three others were badly injured. The Holsoppels were cousins and residents of Benson.
Benson always has been a good business point, and, notwithstanding the disaster that overtook it, has two hotels and eleven stores. It is also a shipping point on the railroad for a considerable territory. The First National Bank began business in 1905. The town was incorporated as Benson borough in 1892. William W. Wiand was the first burgess. He served two terms, and his successors have been W. H. Casler (two terms), Korah Kauffman, N. W. McAndrew, D. W. Border, James Casler (two terms).
Paint Borough.---Scalp Level is, or was, the name of an ancient village that was partly in Somerset county and partly in Cambria county. It is said that Jacob Eash was its founder, but we have never heard of any date ever having been assigned for the time when he did so, neither can we tell whether he laid his town out in Somerset or in Cambria county, or in both. As to the odd-sounding name, years ago it was said by the oldest citizens in this part of Paint township that Jacob Eash lived here in a log cabin, and, desiring to have a piece of land cleared off, he invited his neighbors to a log rolling. Of course they responded to the call, and while they were cutting down trees, rolling logs and clearing off the ground from the underbrush, Mr. Eash passed among them with a bottle of Mountain dew and told the grubbers to scalp it level. His using the words so often took the fancy of those who heard them and they clung to the locality.
A country store, a tannery, the postoffice and a few houses made up a quiet little village, whose denizens lived at peace with all the world. The location of the village was amidst scenes of great natural beauty, and years ago it became a resort through the summer and fall seasons for not a few noted artists, who drew inspirations from its picturesque surroundings. But all this is now changed. With the coming of the great coal company many acres of trees have been “scalped level.” The sound from the solitary blacksmith’s anvil has been drowned in the greater sound of the railroad locomotive, the blowing of steam whistles and the tread of miners passing to and fro from their work. The stores and shops and many other evidences of stir and bustle have given a different tone to the old life of the village. The railroad between the mines and the South Fork Branch passes through the village. While locomotives drawing freight cars had passed through it, the first one drawing a passenger car came into the village on August 3, 1897. It was given a noisy welcome by the large crowd present to witness its arrival. Lots were laid out, houses were built and the future prosperity of the town became an assured fact. Most of the growth of the town was on the Somerset county side, although it did not keep pace with Windber, which had been laid out near by.
In 1900 the necessary steps were taken to have the town incorporated as a borough. This, under existing laws, could only include that part of the town that was in Somerset county. The same, or perhaps even a greater, need existed for the incorporation of Windber, and certain interests there desired only one borough. There were no natural obstacles in the way of having it so. But at that time the greater and most influential part of the citizens of Scalp Level, on the Somerset county side, were old residents, either of the village or of Paint township, while those of Windber were more largely made up of strangers, and for this reason they were unwilling to become a part of Windber and filed their application for a charter as a separate borough. They also decided to adopt a new name for the borough, and chose that of the township. There was some opposition from Windber when their application came before the court for a hearing, but as it had been filed first the court finally granted the application and the town was incorporated under the name of Paint borough. The Cambria county part of Scalp Level has also been incorporated as a borough, but there the old name of Scalp Level was retained. While not having had the phenomenal growth of Windber, it still has become a respectable town. At this time there are two hotels and nine stores in the town.
The name of Windber borough is a transposition of the name of Berwind. The town was laid out in 1897 by the Wilmere Coal Company, which was the holding company of the Berwind White Coal Company, on lands that had mostly been the farm of David Shaffer. The coal company had acquired a vast acreage of coal lands in Paint township, and the laying out of the town was a part of the scheme in the development of their property. At almost every mining plant it is necessary for the owners to build a greater or less number of houses for the use of their miners, these being usually in blocks or rows of a well known type. As the Berwind White company desired to begin their operation on a large scale, it was necessary to create a new town from the start. But in creating this new town it was not made the jumble of cabins and shanties that, collectively, make up the ordinary mining town. The town was laid out on systematic lines. Lots were sold to any one who wished to buy them, and at reasonable prices. The company built hundreds of four and six-room houses---substantial frame buildings, each with its own plat or lat of ground. Most of these were single homes, but there were also some double houses, each of which was a six-room house. These houses were sold at the actual cost of building, with a fair valuation for the lot added, on monthly payments, or they were rented. These houses were mostly built for their miners, but, being built in a way to give tone and a thrifty appearance to the place, also served to attract others who wished to engage in other occupations than that of mining.
Under such conditions as these the growth of the town was phenomenal. Within two years there was a population of fully four thousand people, perhaps even more. The ancient country road had become a well-paved street. There were large and handsome stores, four or five churches and two schoolhouses; five large hotels offered welcome to the stranger. The houses were supplied with electric light. A water supply had been brought into the town, long-distance telephone and telegraphic communication had been opened, and there was that in the very air that whispered of prosperity. All this had been wrought where but two years before the only thing in sight was a country farmhouse. The population of the town is of a very cosmopolitan character. Besides those of American birth, almost every nationality in Europe is represented among its people.
The Windber Electric Company was incorporated in 1889. The Windber Water and Power Company, which draws its water supply from Paint creek was incorporated in 1900. Neither of these is a home company. The first planing mill in the town was that of the Windber Lumber Company. The Windber Brewing Company was incorporated in 1903.
The hospital of the Windber Hospital Association was opened in 1905. Its building was erected by E. J. Berwind at a cost said to have exceeded $50,000. Windber has two national banks. The Windber National Bank was incorporated in 1900 with a capital of $50,000. W. A. Crist is president and B. L. Simpson is cashier. Its loans are $395,000 and its deposits $425,000. The Citizens National Bank of Windber was organized in 1903 with a capital of $50,000. J. P. Statler is president and J. W. Snyder is cashier.
A branch railroad connects the town with the Pennsylvania railroad. An electric road passes through from Johnstown to the mouth of Paint creek, on the Somerset & Cambria branch of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. The first store opened in the town was the Eureka Supply Company’s store. At the present time the number of retail stores exceeds one hundred. There are nine hotels in town.
On its earlier days Windber was the scene of much disorder and lawlessness. This was largely due to the want of a municipal government. Much of this, however, was outside of the town proper, but it was all laid up against the town. With the incorporation of the town as a borough, July 3, 1900, an improvement tin this respect was speedily brought about. There was a general strike on among the miners in the spring of 1906, and a bloody riot took place on April 17, in which three persons were killed, besides a number who were wounded. Herrick Thomas, elected in 1900, was the first burgess of Windber. His successors have been S. H. Mills and Thomas Delehunty.
Ogle township was formed in 1886 from a part of Paint township, taking with it nearly one-half of the area of the parent township. It cannot well be described as being anything but a dense forest, in which the first assessor found 618 acres of cleared land, owned by thirty freeholding taxables.
Just what the real causes were that led to this dismemberment of Paint township are not exactly known, but it is by no means improbable that there was some dissatisfaction about the schools. It is recalled that at the time there was some discussion as to how these people would raise enough money to keep their schools open. That, however, proved to be an easy problem for the seceders. There were thousands of acres of unseated timber lands in the new township that belonged to non-resident owners and assessed at merely nominal rates. The first assessor gave these timber lands a raise in valuation that threw almost the entire burden of the taxation for school and road purpose upon the non- resident owners. It cannot well be said that there was any particular injustice in the assessor doing this, because his valuation was only a tithe of the actual value of the lands.
Necessarily, the first and only industry is a region such as this is would be lumbering. The first attempt at development on this line was made at the old Ashtola mills, about 1848, by George D. Wolf, D. B. Ernst and others. This, after eight or ten years, was abandoned. In about 1901 the old Ashtola plant passed into the hands of the E. V. Babcock Lumber Company, as did many thousands of acres of other timberlands. Three large sawmills were put in operation, making it one of the largest lumber plants in the county. This, of course, brought in quite an increase of population, which in 1900 was 618, a gain of more than 400 per cent over the census of 1890. This population, like that of all lumber caps, is largely of a floating character. If coal or other minerals exist they have not yet been developed. The two postoffices in the township are Felix and Arrow.
Summit township was formed in 1843 from parts of Brothers Valley and Elk Lick townships. Its present area is somewhat larger than when it was first formed, a small part of Elk Lick having been taken in by a change of the township line about 1884. Some of the finest farming lands in the county may be found in this township, but there is also a good amount of poor mountain land to be found, as the township extends from the summit of the Allegheny to that of the Negro mountain. The township is rich in coal; except the rider over the great Pittsburg seam, every bed in the coal measures underlies at least a part of it.
The township was settled nearly as early as the rest of this part of Somerset county. Its early history, however, has already been given in another chapter. Up to the time of the completion of the railroad, in 1871, the people were mostly devoted to agriculture. As soon as the Salisbury and Berlin branches of the railroad were constructed, in 1876 and 1874, the work of developing the mineral resources of the township began in good earnest. Mines were opened and villages sprang up along the railroads, and the township became a scene of busy industry and its population has much more than doubled.
The village of Summit Mills was laid out in 1830 by Joseph J. Joder, the famous axmaker. Only seventeen lots are on the original plat. John Witt, of Somerset, was the surveyor. Near by were a gristmill and a woolen mill owned and operated by William Miller. The only other industry was Joder’s blacksmith shop. The founder bestowed the name of Mechanicsburg on his new town, but it soon became known as “Yottersthettlee.” When the postoffice was established it took the name of Summit Mills, by which name it is now known.
The first store was kept by McCleary & Arkley in 1844. Andrew Arkley was the first postmaster. The store and postoffice later on passed to Ephraim Miller. Mr. Miller, and after him his son, U. M. Miller, carried on the business here for upward of fifty years. In April, 1839, a company was formed among the farmers and others of Summit and Elk Lick townships for the purpose of boring for salt water. From the old books, shown the writer by the late Ephraim Miller, there appears to have been $2,150 worth of stock subscribed. Joel B. Miller, of Elk Lick township, was president of the company. A well was drilled in the bottomland of Elk Lick run to a depth of nearly 700 feet, but proved a failure so far as obtaining salt water was concerned. There is a flow of water from the well that, so far as our information goes, has continued to flow ever since. The water is impregnated with minerals of some sort and is not fit for domestic use. It is not known that any analysis was ever made to determine it properties. This well may be said to have been the cause of great loss to a number of persons long years after it was first drilled. One Dr. W. J. Radcliffe and William D. Humbert undertook to build a large hotel here as a summer resort, to be exploited on the strength of the virtues of the mineral water flowing from this well. Much of the money they expended was borrowed, with other persons as surety. But they were never able to complete their undertaking. They themselves were ruined financially, as were a number of their friends, and the hopes of the village to become a summer resort went glimmering. The time that this occurred was about 1873.
Joseph J. Joder, or “Axie Yoder,” as he was more generally known, was in many respects a remarkable man. He was of Amish parentage and also a member of that church all of his life. He was born about 1790 on the farm on which Yoder Station now is. Having learned the blacksmith trade, he thoroughly mastered the art of tempering steel. An expert workman, he was able to make edged tools, such as were in use in those days, equal to the best that could be procured anywhere. But his special work was the making of axes. So good was the product of his smithy that it became famous, not only in Somerset county, but in the neighboring counties of Pennsylvania and Maryland. His books show that up to 1857, when he was compelled to quit work on account of failing eyesight, he himself made 4,550 axes. Off and on he had a dozen of apprentices. After they were able to forge an ax he gave it the final tempering. Some of these apprentices, even after they had gone elsewhere and set up shops of their own were in the habit of taking their axes to him to temper. In all he tempered 7,805 axes for his apprentices. The highest number (2,200) were tempered for Michael Koontz. All his axes had his name and number stamped on them. It is to be remembered that all this work was done by hand, in a country blacksmith shop, and most of it while he was still a comparatively young man. He had inherited some property from his father’s estate, and may be looked upon as having been fairly well off for those days. Believing that gold and silver must exist among our mountains, he spent much time and about all he had in a vain search for these metals, but not for the buried money, as some of the legendary stories about him have it. Although reared in the primitive days of the county, and of a good German-speaking family, he had a fair English education and was an intelligent man and far in advance of his day and generation. He was something of a chemist and had a tolerably well equipped laboratory. Naturally this was kept under lock and key, and his researches were prosecuted in seclusion. This is what gave rise to the legends that became current among the more ignorant of his neighbors that he dealt in the black art and had entered into a league with the evil one. In 1816 Mr. Joder spent a year in Philadelphia, learning the art of watchmaking and repairing. On his return he brought with him a quantity of fancy goods, which he sold and peddled over the county. An old account book shows that he sold goods on credit to 132 persons living in Somerset township, all of which accounts were paid save two. These, living somewhat out of the way, were never asked to pay. This is certainly a tribute to the integrity of our ancestors. Doctors were few in those days, and for a long time he kept a tock of simple family medicines. He invented a nail-feeding machine that probably revolutionized that business. But, being of a confiding nature, he exhibited the working of his machine to several nailmakers at Pittsburg, and when he came to take out his patent found himself forestalled. Such is a brief sketch of a man, who notwithstanding his plain garb, so far as his education and natural abilities were concerned, was a superior man, of more than ordinary intelligence. Mr. Joder died in Conemaugh township in 1863.
The little village of Romania, on the Salisbury railroad, near the Shaw mines, was laid out by Peter Myers some years in advance of the building of the railroad.
The mining town of Keystone, in which there are perhaps fifty houses, is about one mile further up the river, where the first mine was opened, and dates back to 1872.
Berkley is a small hamlet about four miles north of Meyersdale. John Berkley built a fulling mill here before 1820. Jacob Berkley built a gristmill about 1821, and about it grew up a little village of a dozen dwellings, which took its name from the owners of the mills. There has been a postoffice here for probably sixty years, and most of the time a store. The most notable event in the history of the town was the burning of the grist and woolen mills about 1868. The gristmill was rebuilt, but the other was not.
The site of Meyersdale borough is on land that was originally included in the surveys of Andrew Burntrager, John Olinger and John Berger, or Burger. The Burntrager survey lies on the north side of the Flaugherty run, the Berger survey on the south side of it, while the Olinger survey lies between the Burntrager survey and the river. It will thus be seen that the Flaugherty run divides the town into two parts, which are known as the north and south sides. According to David Husband, the run takes its name from an early hunter who had his camp somewhere along it. The same authority says that the run had the earlier name of Wolf creek, or run, and, further, that there were land surveys which described the land covered by them as lying on Wolf creek, and that afterward there were other surveys of the same lands as being on the waters of Flaugherty run.
When lawsuits were finally brought to settle the conflicting claims, no one then living in the vicinity had ever known or heard of any other name for the stream than Flaugherty run, and the second survey stood. Of these three, Olinger was already settled here in 1779. He is assessed with two horses and two cows, or, rather, cattle. There is no acreage given of his land, and the word “concealed” is written after his name. Burntrager and Berger were certainly on the ground in 1782. In 1784 there were in Burntrager’s family five persons, in Berger’s six and in Olinger’s family seven persons. About 1785 Burntrager sold his improvement, or land, to Jacob Meyers, Sr. of Lebanon county. John Berger sold his farm to Abraham Beachley in 1814. The Olinger farm remained in the hands of his descendants up to 1870. Of the other two families we know of no descendants living in Somerset county.
The first house in what is now Meyersdale was built by Andrew Burntrager. While we do not know its exact site, it was somewhere near the old gristmill, which itself is very near the Olinger line, as the mill is mentioned here. The very earliest traditions are that the first mill in this vicinity was built on the south side of the Flaugherty run and some distance above the present mill; that a stranger had come into the settlement about 1777 or 1778 and offered to build a mill if given the site, which being granted, he took a race out to build a mill south side at a place where he got a fall of about three feet and a tub mill. This is the Husband tradition. It would look more reasonable to suppose that the mill would have been on the north side of the stream, and the word south in the account we have may be an error. Another tradition is that Adam Cook built the original mill near where the present on is. There is abundant evidence that a man of that name was somewhere in Brothers Valley township in 1779, but while he has not been located on any land hear the town, he could easily have built this mill long before 1800, but it is probable that he did so for Burntrager, or perhaps for Jacob Meyers.
Jacob Meyers, the elder, never lived in Somerset county, but the Meyers family traditions are that his son, Jacob Meyers, Jr., built the gristmill, a sawmill and later a fulling mill and a distillery about 1803. This gristmill was destroyed by fire in 1827 and was rebuilt by Peter Meyers. While the mill was being rebuilt Jacob Meyers was drowned while assisting in bringing a load of lumber to the mill. It is said that a sudden storm of wind and rain, or, rather, a cloudburst, came up and Mr. Meyers was engulfed in its flood.
It is said that John Berger was a blacksmith and worked at his trade, being the first one in the town. As he owned the farm on the south side, it is to be presumed that his shop was on the same side of Flaugherty. It has already been stated that he was here in 1782. It is very probable that the blacksmith shop that used to be near the German Baptist church, in which Gillian C. Lint worked for many years, was the successor of the Berger shop. A tanyard was started by Daniel Beachley on the south side of Flaugherty run in 1825. It stood between the old Salisbury road and the run. William Beachley succeeded his father and operated it until 1870. The last owner was Michael Hady. Peter and William Meyers started a tannery on the north side, probably about 1840.
After Jacob Meyers became owner of the Burntrager property the locality began to be known as Meyer’s Mills. There were a few houses built in an irregular manner about the mill. In 1831 Peter and William Meyers opened a store in a large building that fronted on the present Diamond, somewhere near where the present Hocking brick house now stands. A part of the house was used as a dwelling. The Meyers family carried on this store until 1871, when it was sold to C. H. Baugher. Peter and William Meyers inherited a large amount of real and other property from their father’s estate. While both the brothers lived they kept all their property interests in common. These included the mills, tanyard and one or more farms and the store, each drawing therefrom what he needed to live on. Peter was the business man, while William, being by natural inclination more of a farmer, gave more attention to that part of their interests.
This continued until the death of William Meyers in 1853. By his will, among other things, William Meyers made known his wish that their property should be appraised and divided between his brother Peter and his own estate in the ratio of seven dollars to Peter and five dollars to his estate, although their interests were equal. It is said that William Meyers was moved to have such a division of their joint property made for the reason that his brother Peter had much the larger family of the two to provide for. Peter Meyers, who died in 1870, was in his day one of the most active and influential business men of this part of Somerset county, and always took a leading part in every movement tending to the welfare of the community. Besides his interests in his home community, he was one of the founders of the town of Confluence. A zealous worker in the interests of the Pittsburg & Connellsville railroad, of which he was for many years a director, it has always been a matter of regret to the writer that neither he nor his relative, William M. Beachley, who also fell a victim to an epidemic of typhoid fever which then prevailed, lived to witness its completion.
In 1844 Jacob Olinger laid out that part of his land nearest the Meyers property, or the “mills,” into lots, Alexander Philson, of Berlin, being his surveyor. Mr. Olinger gave the name of Fairfield to the town as he laid it out. In 1852 he appears to have laid out additional lots. On a wall map of Somerset county, published by Edward L. Walker in 1858, there appears a plan of Fairfield that was probably furnished by Mr. Olinger. This plan shows sixty-five lots. While Mr. Olinger gave the name of Fairfield to his town, the older name of Meyer’s Mills could not be displaced. When this name was used, pretty much everybody knew just what locality was meant, which was not always the case when the other name was used. The postoffice also had the older name. The writer, however, does not know that any attempt was ever made to change it.
The first house in the new town (or Fairfield) was built by Godfrey Bittner in 1845. It stood where the Hartly store now is. The first store was in the building on the corner of Main and Center streets, that in our time is known as “the Old Salamander,” because of its having escaped so many fires that destroyed other properties around it. Conrad M. Hicks and Alexander Stutzman kept a store here about 1847. Gabriel Miller, and after him his brother, Manasseh D. Miller, and Gabriel D. Lichty, also carried on business in this building in the old days of the village. The third store was kept by Elias M. Lichty, about 1855, on the northeast corner of Center and Main streets. Mr. Lichty, about that time, was also the postmaster of Meyer’s Mills. It may be added here that there was a postoffice at Meyer’s Mills as early as 1830, of which Peter Meyers was the postmaster.
The first house used as a hotel was built by James Maguire in 1848. This house was occupied as a dwelling by the late Dr. U. M. Beachley for many years. Jacob Welfley, of Salisbury, established a branch pottery here in 1846. Only the common red earthenware was made. It stood near where the Methodist church now it. A large house owned by Daniel Suter stood on the opposite side of the street on the lot where the Hotel Klare now is, or perhaps on the lot below, in 1846. Mr. Suter was a cabinetmaker and used a large room on the first floor in which to display his furniture, living on the second floor. This house burned down about 1849, and was probably the first fire that the town had. What is now known as the Hotel Klare was built in 1855 by or for the estate of William Meyers. As first built it was one of the best buildings for hotel purposes in Somerset county, and was known as the Dale House. Walter W. Gaither was the first landlord. Barnet Picking kept the house in 1856. At different times lawyers have located here. James B. Gaither, of Somerset, was the first, in 1870, remaining four or five years.
The old Olinger farm consisted of two hundred and sixty acres. In 1869, the early completion of the railroad being about as certain as such a thing well can be, the Olinger heirs laid out the most of the farm into lots, Kenneth McLeod, a civil engineer employed on the railroad, doing the work for them. The Olinger heirs gave their plat of lots the name of Coaldale, thereby adding another to the many names of this town has had. This name will be found in the deeds for the first lots sold. About the same time Peter Meyers laid out a part of his land into lots. Meyers avenue, Second avenue, Large, Keystone and other streets are included in this plan. In 1870 Daniel Beachley had his farm (the old Berger farm), on the south side of the Flaugherty, laid out into lots, by James B. Gaither as surveyor.
It was now that steps were taken to incorporate the town into a borough. But here so many conflicting interests clashed with each other that much trouble grew out of the matter. This was primarily due to differences between the Beachley and Meyer’s families. Among other things there was trouble over the name that the new borough should have. The Meyer’s interests were not willing to agree that their name should be eliminated. They claimed that their name had been identified with the locality for seventy years, the first forty of which were before any one ever seems to have suggested any other. The Beachley interests would not have it so, the Olinger interests, as now remembered, siding with them. In the end they prevailed and the town was incorporated in 1871 under the name of Dale City borough. D. A. Brubaker was the first burgess of the borough under that name. The Meyers interests remained on the outside. Cyrus Meyers was a member of the board of directors of the railroad company, and when the road was completed his influence prevailed with the company to give the name of Meyer’s Mills to the railroad station. This, along with the same name for the postoffice, gave him two points in the game. There was a great deal of bad feeling over the matter and the people of the town necessarily were split into two parties.
The town, notwithstanding these troubles, entered upon a career of growth and prosperity that has continued from that day to this. The Meyers interests were quite willing to come into the borough, but not under the name of Dale City. In the meanwhile, have gained adherents within the borough, they renewed their efforts in the matter of changing the name of the town. The matter finally got into court, and after several years of litigation a compromise was reached, under which it was agreed that the name of the town should be Meyersdale, and that the names of the postoffice and railroad station should be changed to correspond. This was late in 1874. It is probably that at this day there are but few who will question the wisdom of this compromise.
Dr. Wilson C. Hicks, a dentist, became postmaster of Meyers’ Mills about 1872 and retained the office until his death, February 21, 1885. So rapidly did the business of the postoffice grow that it had already become a presidential office. Dr. Hick’s successors in the postoffice have been Martin A. Rutter, appointed 1885; William H. Sufall, appointed 1889; William H. Hay, appointed 1893; and James F. Naugle, appointed 1897.
While from this point on we shall use the name of Meyersdale, we may record something that took place before the change of name. The first industries to come into the town after the new departure had been taken, that employed more or less labor, were the foundry and machine shop of Alexander M. Paul, about 1869, and the planing mill of Lorren Morrell, in 1870, which was more for the manufacture of furniture than anything else. Both this and the foundry were on the south side. The planing mill of John H. and Herman I. Friedline was built in 1873 at a cost of about $8,000. This mill, then owned by John H. Friedline alone, was destroyed by fire in September, 1822, and was rebuilt on a larger scale in the same year by Mr. Friedline and D. S. Cober. The Shultz planing mill, which was built in 1870, was also destroyed by fire in 1903, and was not rebuilt.
Another of the early industries, Black’s Brick and Tile Works, is one of the oldest of the larger industries at Meyersdale. In 1872 George J. Black came from Somerfield and embarked in the manufacture of all kinds of stoneware, continuing until 1885, when the business passed into the hands of Frank B. Black, who continued to make stoneware a few years and then installed machinery for the production of drain tile. He later added another important branch to his business, in the way of making a very superior building brick by means of the latest machinery. Misfortune came to him by fire in 1891, destroying all of his main buildings. He, however, rebuilt the plant, and about 1903 sold it to George Duncombe. Brick only is now manufactured by this establishment.
As far back as 1894 Meyersdale had come to be a noted cigar manufacturing borough. Factory No. 470, of the twenty-third district of Pennsylvania, owned and operated by W. H. Floto & Brothers, was established there in 1889. In 1891 they were forced to build larger buildings, and two years later first occupied their own spacious two-story building at the head of Meyers avenue. As an index of the volume of business transacted the following statement is appended, showing the output of cigars and “tobies” for a number of years: Total output, 1889, 657,000; 1890, 1,200,300; 1891, 1,324,000; 1892, 1,454,375; 1893, 1,501,800; 1894, 1,520,800. The average annual product is greater than all other cigar factories in Somerset county, and their goods go to half the states in the Union. A steam gristmill was built by A. F. John, about 1883, on Main street about the railroad. This was an up-to-date mill of large capacity. It was destroyed by fire after being in operation for several years. In 1887 the mill was rebuilt by the Deal Mining Company, who still operate it. It has a capacity of seventy-five barrels of flour per day.
In 1891 William S. Miller put in operation a plant for the manufacture of Cyclone dust conveyors for threshing machines, grain registers, and washing machines. It is one among the important industries of the town.
An electric light plant for street and commercial lightning was installed by Samuel D. Livengood, in the spring of 1892. This was the first enterprise of the kind in Somerset county. Mr. Livengood did this entirely with his own capital, and operated it for a number of years. This business is now in the hands of H. G. Wilmoth. The Sand Spring Water Company constructed its system of water works in 1888. Alonzo Chamberlain was the first president of the company. Samuel B. Philson is the present president. John S. Graves & Co. were the contractors who constructed the water works. The company has also kept pace the growth of the town. The present revenue of the water is $8,000 per annum. It is also to the credit of the water company that their water rates are considerably lower that those of most private corporations elsewhere.
William Slicer and A. H. Glotfelty built an opera house in 1883, at the west end of Main street. It had a floor space of something over two thousand square feet of floor space. It was the first public hall in the town with anything like a seating capacity. It is no longer is use as a hall. Some years after 1883 Mr. Glotfelty was accidentally killed near his house, while a looker-on of the blasting stumps by dynamite, having being struck by a flying fragment. A very fine opera house was built by George Donges on the west side of the Diamond in 1904. The Myersdale Brewery went into business in 1901, with a capital of $50,000. An artificial ice plant is connected with it. A tubular lock factory was established in 1902, under the name of The Meyersdale Manufacturing Company. Its principal promoters were Levi Deal, H. G. Will and E. G. Boyles. It employed about twenty men. In 1905 the plant was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt almost at once, but has not been in operation for some time. A commercial and business college was founded in 1903. It was placed under way by citizens of the town. Since 1905 it has been a chartered institution, and is now under the control of Prof. C. E. Stretcher, and is considered as being on a permanent basis. The paving of the streets with brick was first commenced in 1898.
On June 7, 1902, two boys, named Walter Miller and Robert Stahl, ate wild parsnips, which they found in the bottom, somewhere along the run, both of them dying as a result of eating these poisonous roots.
Two annual meetings of the German Baptist Church have been held at Meyersdale. The first in 1873, the second in 1904. On both occasions the tabernacles were built in the Flaugherty bottom, below the old opera house. There was also such a gathering held at Summit Mills in 1859.
At the present time Meyersdale has five good hotels and 67 stores, representing all lines of business. The first banking house was established in 1868, under the style of Philson, Black & Co. Samuel Philson, of Berlin, was the head of it. James S. Black, a member of the firm, was the manager. Mr. Black retired in 1882, and Samuel B. Philson became manager. The name of the bank was also about that time changed to that of the Citzens’ Bank. This, however, may have been several years later. In 1901 the Citizen’s Bank was changed to the Citizens’ National Bank of Meyersdale, with a capital of $65,000. In 1905 its loans were $350,000, and its deposits $375,000. Samuel Philson was its first president. At present Samuel B. Philson is present, and James J. Hoblitzell vice-president. Samuel D. Livengood and John M. Olinger opened a banking house in 1873, under the firm name of Livengood & Olinger. In 1875 this was succeeded by the First National Bank of Meyersdale, with a capital of $50,000. (Mr. Livengood acted as president until 18809, when its affairs were wound up.) Mr. Livengood established the Farmers’ Bank instead. This bank is still in business. The Second National Bank of Meyersdale was organized in 1901, with a capital of $65,000. C. W. Truxel is president., and E. M. Beachley is cashier. Its loans and deposits are about $275,000.
For several years more or less work has been done in the constructing of sewers. While Meyersdale has not been visited by any such extensive conflagrations as the county seat, still it has been severely scorched on several occasions. The first was in 1873, when the building in which the Livengood and Olinger Bank and Hocking’s store were was destroyed. In 1874 Hartley’s store and building, Shipley’s hardware store and building, the Welshons’ property and the residence of Martin Sayler, were all destroyed, and possibly on or two other buildings, now forgotten. The stores were well stocked and the losses were heavy. In 1875 a fire started in the large store of C. H. Baugher, on Centre street, near where the P. J. Cover hardware store now is. The store was a large building which, with the large stock of merchandise it, was speedily licked up by the flames.
From the Baugher building the flames spread across the street to the residence of Gillian H. Walter, which, with the saddler shop, were also destroyed. Mr. Baugher had insurance on his property amounting to about $15,000. This money he received at Pittsburg, and, placing it I a satchel, started home with it. On the train, as he stated, some person succeeded in stealing it from his seat. The money was never recovered. In 1902 the splendid Hotel Stein, owned by John Stein, fell a prey to the flames in an early morning blaze. The house was a three-story building that stood on the old Miller lot on the north side of Main street. Its tenants were Knapp and Kyle. The loss on the building was from $20,000 to $25,000, with insurance of about $15,000. On the furniture belonging to the tenants there was an insurance of $7,000. The Hotel was rebuilt, and is now known as the Colonial.
The time of the incorporation of the Borough, both under its first and second names, has already been give. Its burgesses have been: As Dale City: D. A. Brubaker, G. H. Walter, O.S. Porter, H. J. Blough. As Meyersdale: James B. Gaiter, H. Eisfeller, John C. Hostetler (two terms), Dennis Murray, Martin H. Miller, Albert Graves, Jacob J. Holtshue, J. A. Graves, P. Y. Kimmel, M. A. Rutter, K. Price, Ed. Beal, E. J. Hutson (two terms), Fred Groff, J. W. Bell, H. S. Dull, E. J. Hudson (four terms), W. H. Floto (two terms), A. E. Finegan, J. T. Shipley, J. C. Reed.
Garrett borough, also in Summit township, is four miles west of Meyersdale. The town was laid out in 1869, by John Jacob Schell, Isaac Hugus, John D. Roddy and George D. Wolf, on land that was at one time owned by Peter P.. H. Walker. This was before the completion of the railroad. The town did not build up very rapidly for some years, but presently became the southern terminus of the Berlin branch, and also the shipping point for the product of several steam sawmills. Several coal mines were also opened in its immediate vicinity, since which time the town has had a more rapid growth. A considerable part of the population are miners. They mostly own their own homes.
The first home in the town was built by Moses Burkholder. The first store was opened by Franklin Enos and E. P. Younkin. The first hotel was kept by Joseph Ringer, in 1869. Dr. Price was the first physician, locating there in 1881. Dr. Richard T. Pollard located here a few years later, and is still in practice. The first industries were a planing mill built by William B. Shaffer, in 1870, and a large steam sawmill that was put in operation in or near the town by Samuel Fox about the same time. These have long since been discontinued. There is, however, at the present time a good planing mill, operated by William Christner.
Esquire Samuel J. McKenzie, a well known citizen, was killed in 1892 while walking on the railroad track. Florian Husband was also killed, under similar circumstances, on August 30, 1903. Mr. Husband was a great-grandson of Harmon Husband, the pioneer of the Somerset settlement, and the last surviving male member of the family who continued to reside in Somerset county.
The only serious visitation by fire occurred in 1893, when a good hotel property and one or two other buildings were destroyed. During the night of April 29, 1904, the house of Jeremiah Meyers, who lived just outside of the borough, was burned. Mr. Meyers and a boarder named Sullivan were the only persons who escaped from the burning building. His wife, Mrs. Rosa Meyers, three daughters and two grandchildren perished in the flames. At the time it was charged that the house was set on fire from the outside, but this has never been definitely settled. At the same time Garrett was the storm center of a bitter and prolonged strike on the part of the employees of the Somerset Coal Company, during the progress of which there was much violence, lawlessness and even bloodshed.
Garrett is looked upon as being one of the prosperous towns of the county. At the present time it has three hotels and nineteen stores. The First National Bank of Garrett went into business in 1903, with a capital of $25,000. William A. Merrill is president, and H. B. Philson is cashier. Garrett was incorporated as a borough in 1900. Franklin Enos was the first burgess, his successors were L. A. Maust and A. J. McKinzie
Allegheny township was formed at the February sessions of 1805. It lies wholly on the eastern side of the Allegheny mountain, and is a portion of that part of Londonderry township, Bedford county, which is traversed by both the Forbes and Glades roads and their successors, the turnpikes, as first formed was of a triangular shape, its base being on the southern end. The part north of the Glade road was annexed to Stony Creek township in 1801, remaining a part of that township up to 1805. Lying between the Savage and Allegheny mountains the country is wild and broken, and mostly covered by the Catskill sandstone and Chemung shales. Such being the case, the land in it is not the best for farming purposes, and there is much unimproved land. No coal is found in the township, and, except that there may be some beds of fire clay in its southern part, it has little mineral wealth.
Little is known about the first settlers, who were mostly along the old Glades road. It is known that one Boose, the ancestor of a family still well known in the county, kept a tavern at the eastern foot of the Allegheny mountain, before 1800. This, when the turnpike was in its glory, was a noted drove and wagon stand, of which Henry Imhoff and Jacob R. Hilligass were the last owners. Some of the Kellers also settled along this road, and George Keller, probably as early as 1790, kept a tavern in a log cabin where the afterward famous While Horse was.
New Baltimore borough occupies a picturesque location on the bottomlands of the upper waters of the Raystown branch of the Juniata river. The town was laid out in 1829, by Michael Riddlemoser. He built a house here as early as 1820, that was first occupied as a store by John O’Neal. He also erected a good gristmill about the same time, which is still in operation. When built the mill was the most convenient one in a rather wide scope of country, including the adjacent parts of Bedford county. For this reason it was well patronized, and in time the locality grew into a prosperous village. It is said that Riddlemoser presented the town site and some adjacent land to the Catholic church, and that the lots are held under ninety-nine year leases, with the privilege of renewal at the expiration of the lease. This is certainly true of the land.
The town has a population of two hundred. There is a Roman Catholic church. At this time there are four stores, a tannery, and the small shops of mechanics, usually found in a small country village. A rather extensive distillery has been operated by John M. Topper since 1870. The most of the people about New Baltimore are of German origin, and are also largely of the Catholic religion. Anthony Luken was one of the earliest settlers about New Baltimore, who settled there about 1820. Among others of a somewhat later period were Henry H. Wolfhope, Francis Weber, Abraham Riffle, Peter Topper, Wendelin Werner and Gregory Hankinson, most of them settling in the village or in its vicinity between 1830 and 1840.
The valley in which New Baltimore is situated was first known as Harmon’s Bottom, and is still so spoken of by the older people. It took this name from Harmon Husband, of the Somerset settlement, who in his frequent trips to Bedford passed through it, and being favorably impressed with some of the land here, took out one or more warrants for surveys. The writer has seen a map made by him showing nearly all of the streams in Allegheny township, evidence that he had thoroughly explored this region. After Riddlemoser founded the town, it was known for many years as Mosersburg, and has that name on Edward L. Walker’s county map, published about 1858. New Baltimore was incorporated as a borough in 1874. Adam George was the first burgess. Those who have since filled the office are: Adam George (two terms), Peter Bridge, Christian M. Stouffer, Wm Wolfhope, W. A. Garman, F. A. Warner (two terms), J. W. Dull, F.A. Warner, A. P. Riffle (two terms), F. A. Warner, Joseph Topper (two terms), F. A. Warner (three terms), Martin Dull, J. J. Gardill, F. A. Warner (two terms), Joseph Topper.
Greenville township was formed in 1812. The petitioners for the forming of a new township set forth that they were citizens of Elk Lick township. It is not easy to understand this. Elk Lick was formed about 1785. While we have never seen any description of its boundaries, they might have included what is now Greenville township. But when Somerset county was formed, the summit of the Allegheny mountain was made its eastern boundary, and this certainly left the territory of Greenville a part of Bedford county. As stated elsewhere, in 1800, a certain part of Londonderry township, Bedford county, was annexed to Somerset county. As this made the summit of the Little Allegheny mountain the eastern boundary of the county, this of course brings Greenville in as a part of Somerset county. But of itself, it cannot well be seen how this would make it a part of Elk Lick township. The list of Londonderry or annexed taxables does not contain any names that we can identify with Greenville, but the Elk Lick list of 1786 does contain a few names that we can locate here. As the northern part of what is now Allegheny township was attached to Stony Creek township by an order of court, possibly Greenville may have been attached to Elk Lick in the same manner, as it was entirely isolated from what afterward became Southampton township. But of this we have no record. But all of the Elk Lick tax lists contain the early Greenville names, and it must have been a part of that township.
As first formed, the township included a considerable part of what is now Larimer township. The first settler in the township that the writer can learn of was Martin Weimer (the writer’s great-grandfather), who about 1785 settled on a tract of land on a small branch of Pine run, that in 1890 was known as the Delos Thomas farm. For some reason or other Weimer left this place in a year or two. Peter Hutzel was his successor on this place, but no date is known. The earliest known settlers were the Garlitzes, Findleys, Hutzels, Warners, Beals, Deals, and a little later the Klingamans, Lints, Millers, Shultzes, and Hochstetlers.
Geologically speaking, a large part of the township is covered by the Chemung and Catskill shales. In early times the most of the township was covered by a dense pine forest, and the clearing of the land was a hard task, therefore its settlement necessarily was slow. The township may be said to be well watered, and on many of the farms their owners built the old-time sawmills, few of which had a capacity of more than three or four hundred feet of lumber a day. These mills could only be run in the spring months when the streams were running with water. The logs were usually cut during the winter, and drawn to the mill on sleds when the ground was covered with snow. The sale of the lumber cut in these sawmills was about the only source of revenue that the most of the early settlers had. With the crude farming of those days, few of the farms produced sufficient for their owners’ support, aside from the product of their sawmills. This of course, was in the period prior to 1850. At the present day there is but little pine timber left. The farms are mostly well cleared, and the land brought under a better state of cultivation.
The only village in the township is Pocohontas, which was laid out by Daniel Yutzy, in 1845, Samuel M. Hailer acting as surveyor. The first house was built about 1844, by Charles Miller. It was a log house, and was at one time used as a hotel. A store was opened by Gabriel Miller and Jacob Lint in 1851. The manager was Benjamin J. Joder, who later became its owner. Mr. Joder was also the first postmaster. A fire in 1875 destroyed the old store and hotel buildings, which were then owned by Frederick Durr and A. J. Stoner. Both buildings have since been rebuilt. A match factory was operated in the village by Miles Thomas & Son, about 1850. Probably the first blacksmith shop in the township was that of Peter Keefer, about one mile east of Pocohontas. It is aid that Peter Deal operated a still in the township as early as 1792. What was probably the first steam sawmill in Somerset county was operated by a man named Young. Its location was about a mile and a half southeast of Pocohontas. It was only operated two or three years. This, according to the writer’s own recollection, was about 1847.
Larimer township was formed in 1854, from parts of Greenville and Northampton townships. It was named in honor of General William Larimer, Jr., who was at that time the president of the Pittsburgh & Connellsville railroad. The township presents rough and rugged features. Almost its entire area is covered by the Chemung shales and the Catskill sandstones and shales, which do not make a very good soil, and naturally it is not a very inviting field for the agriculturist. This made its settlement very slow, and most of its improvements have been made since 1830. The occupations of the people have chiefly been agriculture and lumbering. The township is traversed by the old Cumberland turnpike, which later became the Plank road.
The earliest settlers in the township are supposed to have been Jonathan Long and Richard Geiger. Daniel Lepley built the first gristmill at the little hamlet known as Deal, in 1850. Two years later it was destroyed by fire, but was rebuilt by Edwin Deal. This also burned down, and a third structure was erected by Mr. Deal. About 1882, J. M. Cook, formerly of Southampton, became owner of this mill. Deal postoffice was established in 1882, and J. M. Cook was the first postmaster.
Wittenburg is a small village on the old plank road, that was built upon land that Jonathan Leasure had purchased from John Witt, after whom the village was named. A store was opened here in 1852, or about that time, by John Fichtner, which was the first one in the township. He also kept a tavern, and was the first postmaster. Before the building of the railroad it was naturally the business center of the township, but since that time at least part of its business has been drawn to Sand Patch.
Sand Patch is near the western approach to the tunnel of the same name. Annanias Heffley formerly owned the land on which the place is built. It is considerable shipping point for lumber and bark. There is also a good hotel and a store, Simon P. Sweitzer located there soon after the completion of the railroad, and opened the store. He was also the first postmaster. A woolen factory was operated at one time by Frank Baer.
Northampton township was formed in 1851 out of a part of Southampton township. Like all the other parts of Somerset county that lie east of the Allegheny mountain, the township is rough and mountainous, and its soil is none the best for agricultural purposes. For a long time lumbering was its most important industry.
Philip Poorbaugh was probably the pioneer settler, coming in shortly after the Revolutionary war. It is said that when he first came he had to go as far as Chambersburg for flour and salt. Under such conditions the settlers suffered great hardships. Philip Poorbaugh became owner of a goodly number of acres of this mountain land. While some of the early settlers became discouraged and abandoned their improvements, he had come to stay. Numerous descendants of his still live in the township. Benjamin Critchfield appears to have come in during the time of the Revolutionary was, and he is said to have settled at or near the village of Glencoe. It is probable also the Christian Albright, John and Jacob Burkholt (or perhaps Burkhart), Jonathan Boyer, Jacob Coughenour, Henry Mull and Jacob Flickinger, all of whom were settlers before 1800 in the part of Londonderry township that was annexed to Somerset county in 1800, lived then in what is now Northampton township. All these names were well known here when the township was formed. The historic Wills creek, which rises in Larimer township flows through almost the entire length of the township from west to east. Along its narrow valley there was an old trail that led from Fort Cumberland into the Brothers Valley and Somerset settlements. The railroad also follows the same stream. It is to be supposed that there were already sawmills of the old-fashioned type in the township, but about 1845 Henry Thomas Weld, who was an Englishman by birth, acquired holdings of timber lands that covered about twelve thousand acres. He built a sawmill of a different type. The mill, of course, derived its power, from Wills Creek. This mill was operated by Mr. Weld for probably more than forty years, and quite a village, known as Southampton Mills, grew up around it. Mr. Weld also built a gristmill in 1845, about half a mile west of where the sawmill was. The sawmill has been abandoned for some years, and the village of which it was the life has dwindles to almost nothing.
The village of Glencoe was laid out by David Hay and Hiram Findley, in 1870, or about the time that the railroad was completed. Mr. Hay kept the first store in the township as early as 1848. After the town was laid out, Augustus Dom kept the first store. David Hay built a hotel in 1874, of which Samuel Wilt was the first landlord. A post office was established in 1882.
The village of Johnsburg dates back to about 1866, when the German Lutheran church was built. John M. Stief built the first house, and opened a store in 1868, which he carried on for about eight years. It is quite a small village, but has had a postoffice since 1871.
In 1905 the Somerset Oil and Gas Company drilled a well near Philson’s Station, in search of oil and gas. The well was sunk to a depth of 3, 006 feet, and then abandoned. Salt water, strong enough to float an egg was obtained from the well, but its projectors were not seeking salt. About one-half mile away is another abandoned well, at which salt was manufactured about seventy-five years ago.
Southampton township was organized in 1801. As then formed, it included the present township of Northampton and Larimer---that part of Allegheny township that lies south of the Glades road or turnpike, as well as a part of the present township of Fair Hope, or nearly all of the territory that was annexed to Somerset county in 1800. But by the successive formation of the townships named it has been reduced to a rather small area. In its physical features it is nearly as rough and rugged as its near neighbors to the west, but with a better soil.
Of the early settlers Jost (or Joseph) Leydig, who came from Berks county shortly after the Revolutionary war, located on the Emerick farm. Peter Troutman, the Lepleys, John Comp, John Hahn and Jacob Martz were all among the earliest settlers.
In another part of this volume, under the caption of “Londonderry Township Annexed,” will be found the names of 90 taxables who lived in the annexed part in 1800. Of course, some of them lived in what is now Allegheny township. Some of them also lived Northampton and Fairhope townships. But it is probable that the greater number of them lived in Southampton township as it is at present constituted. The date 1800 fixes a time when they certainly were here. It is about equally certain that nearly all of them may have been here from ten to thirty years earlier. Nowhere else in Somerset county are so many of the pioneer names still to be found as in Southampton township. Such readers as are interested are referred to the list itself.
The first gristmill in Southampton township was built near Wellersburg, by Jacob Korns, in 1809. About 1830 William and Daniel DeHaven operated a carding mill in the same building. In 1837 the entire structure, then owned by George Weller, was destroyed by fire, and was never rebuilt. Jacob Uhl built the second gristmill in the township in 1810. In later years this has been known as the Reitz mill. The Kennell gristmill was built by George Leydig about 1818, and rebuilt in 1853, by Jonathan Kennell. This is where Gladdens postoffice is. An old gristmill on the Comp farm, a short distance below the Kennell mill, was converted into a woolen factory in 1873. This was operated by M. L. Tauber until about 1894, when he removed from the township. Since that time it has not been operated.
While it may still be far distant, Southampton township must certainly have a future before it. The northern end of the Frostburg coal field projects into the township from Maryland and covers about one-half of its area. Of the great Pittsburg seam there are less then three hundred acres. The lower productive coal measures underlie an area of about twenty productive coal measures underlie an area of about twenty square miles. The region has been rather fully explored, and about 1886 a bore hole was put down to a depth of 1,200 feet. This shows that all of the lower beds of coal exist here, and are of a workable thickness. The estimate of Peter J. Leslie, then State Geologist, was that there were probably four hundred millions of tons of coal in this field. There is also an abundance of iron ore to be found. The average results of eight analyses that have been made show a yield in pig metal of over 35 percent. There are also immense deposits of good fire clay, and in the fullness of time all these resources will be developed.
Wellsburg borough was laid out in 1830, by George Weller. The town lies along the old Cumberland turnpike. So far as we know, the land on which the town is built was first improved by Jacob Korns, who sold the land to Weller. The first house was built by Jeremiah Wingert, in 1834. He also began operating a tannery in the following year. A man named Barnes opened the first store. John R. Brinham succeeded Barnes in the mercantile business. Through good and evil fortune, Mr. Brinham clung to the town, having an abiding faith in the future of both Wellersburg and Southampton township. Upright and honorable in all things, he carried on the mercantile business here for fifty years, as a public spirited citizen giving freely of his time and substance to promote the welfare of the town. It is said that Mr. Brinham was appointed postmaster in 1841, and held the office up to the time of his death, in 1892. While speaking about the postoffice, it may be said there was a postoffice in 1830, or about that time, called Southampton. Peter Boyer was the postmaster. It is very probably that it was where Wellersburg now is. It is very probably that it was where Wellersburg now is. It certainly must have been somewhere along the turnpike. About 1855 there was also a postoffice on top of Savage mountain called “Top Savage.”
To return to Wellersburg, the first brick house, and so far as we know, the only one in the place, was built by John R. Brinham. All the raw material entering into the manufacture of iron abounds in Southampton township. In 1855 a furnace was built by the Union Coal and Iron Company. This company succeeded an older company, which had extensive mineral rights. For the time being this enterprise brought great prosperity to the village. The furnace had a capacity of about 300 tons per month, and in various ways gave employment to upwards of 200 men. The furnace was abandoned in 1856, and with it departed the prosperity of Wellersburg, and its population has since dwindled until it has become one of the smallest boroughs in the county.
Wellersburg was incorporated as a borough in 1857. The first election for burgess resulted in a tie between George G. Walker and C. E. Ways. From 1860 to the present time these officers have been as follows: Jeremiah Wingert, I. D. Reese, Jeremiah Wingert (two terms), John R. Brinham, J. R. Shockey, Isaac Augustine, Wm. Uhl (two terms), John Wingert, Henry Moser, Peter Knearam, Adams Trimble (three terms), Joseph H. Luther, W. F. Uhl, John Wingert, Michael Long (six terms), John Wingert (two terms), J. H. Seth, John Winters, John Wingert (two terms), F. Fechtig, J. P. Meyers, C. H. Close, F. C. Fechtig, S. S. Fechtig, F. C. Fechtig, Hiram Stortz, Wm. Long, F. C. Fechtig, S. C. Fechtig.
FAIR HOPE TOWNSHIP
Fair Hope township was formed in 1891, out of parts of Northampton, Southampton and Allegheny. Its early history cannot well be separated from that of its parent townships. Its physical features are about the same, while the lumbering business is of considerable importance. The township has extensive deposits of the best fire clay. Williams, a station on the railroad, is the seat of extensive fire brick works that have been operated by the Savage Fire Brick Company since 1890. The plant of Welsh, Gloninger & Maxwell has also been operated here for about the same length of time. Millions of all kinds of fire brick are manufactured at these works every year and employment is given to many men.
[Source: The History of Bedford and Somerset Counties by Blackburn and Welfley, published in 1906. Chapter 30. Transcribed and donated by Batha Karr <[email protected]>. ]
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