History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895x41

History of Butler County Pennsylvania, 1895

Summit Township, Chapter 41

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Transcribed by: Ron Sanders For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.
Link to a sketch of Summit Township from the Atlas of Butler County, G.M. Hopkins & Co., 1874.

Surnames in this chapter are:

ALTMEICA, BAER, BECKER, BELKE, BERGBICHLER, BERNINGER, BINSACK, BLEICHNER, BRADY, BRINKER, BRUCKER, BRUCKNER, BURFORD, BURKBICHLER, CLARK, CHRISTY, COLLINS, DAUSCH, DIEBOLD, DITTMER, DOCKLER, DUGAN, EBERLE, EICHENLAUB, EISENMINGER, FELGES, FLECK, FLICK, FRANKLE, FREDERICK, FRIEDMAN, HENSMEL, GALLAGHER, GANTER, GARLACH, GIBBS, GEIGELMAYER, GEYERSTANGER, GEZOWSKY, GILLILAND, GOLD, GOSTENCNIK, GRECK, GREEN, GREER, GREILICH, GRIMMER, GRUENERT, GUMPPER, HARTL, HAU, HEIM, HENRY, HENSMEL, HESPELIN, HOCH, HOEPFEL, HOFFMAN, HOLLER, HYACINTH, JACOBS, JOHNSTON, KEMPER, KENNEDY, KLEINADAM, KLUS, KNAUS, KNITTEL, KOBEL, KOEBEL, KREBS, KRECHER, KRUNES, LAMBERT, LANGENFELDER, LEECH, LEX, LINGEL, LITSCH, LUTZ, MAISCHEIN, MALEY, MARSHALL, MARTIN, MAYERSHOFER, METZ, MITCHELL, MOLANPHY, MOSER, MULLER, McCOSTER, McCURDY, McLAUGHLIN, NASH, NEBEL, NEIMANN, NEUBER, NEYMAN, OBER, OERTEL, OTT, O'MALLEY, PISTORIUS, RAPHAEL, RAY, REIBER, RETTIG, REYMAN, RHEINHARD, RIOTT, RISCH, ROHM, ROSENBERGER, RUSSELL, SANDER, SCHEHL, SCHMALTZBAUER, SCHMIDT, SCHNEIDER, SCHUERMAN, SCHUG, SCHUH, SCHULER, SCHWAGMEYER, SCHWEBEL, SCOTT, SEIBERT, SMITH, SPECKERT, SPOHN, STEPHENSON, SULLIVAN, SUMNEY, TAMCHINA, THORN, TOWNLEY, VOGEL, WALL, WARMCASTLE, WATT, WEILAND, WERNERT, WERR, WILHELM, WOLF, WOLFF, WOLFGANG, WONDERLY, YOUNG, ZIEGELMAYER


CHAPTER XLI

SUMMIT TOWNSHIP

[p. 499]
ORGANIZATION - EARLY SETTLEMENTNEYMAN'S MILLSTATISTICSJUSTICES OF THE PEACESCHOOLS AND COLLEGES - ST. MARY'S MONASTERYCHURCH HISTORYVILLAGE GROWTH

SUMMIT township was organized in 1854, its territory being taken principally from Butler and Clearfield townships, but including also portions of Donegal and Centre townships. The names of the first cabin builders within the limits of the townships are unknown. Early in 1796, when the RAY family located on what is now known as the Robert GILLILAND farm, there were two or three untenanted log cabins, evidencing an earlier occupation on the Allegheny slope, and two or three tenanted ones between that and the Beaver slope. William RAY was undoubtedly here in April or May, 1796. Following an Indian trail which led from the river at Freeport into the wilderness, he selected his lands and built his cabin. When the county was organized, in 1803, he owned 150 acres. William SCOTT and James MITCHELL arrived shortly after. MITCHELL was then a young man. SCOTT, who was a man of family, was accompanied by his son, Robert, who became of the first settlers in Butler borough. George, another son, cleared a farm for himself in the MITCHELL, or Bonny Brook, neighborhood.

Thomas SMITH came from Allegheny county in the fall of 1796, and located in the township. Seventeen years later Abraham BRINKER purchased SMITH's 200 acres, and the family removed to Indiana, where the pioneer died in 1835. Adam, his son, returned in 1830 and settled in Centre township. James McCURDY, a native of Cumberland county, came with SMITH. The immigrants entered the present county at Freeport and arrived at the site of what is now known as Carbon Black the same night. After a heavy rain storm, the bright moon invited them to travel rather than to sleep, and taking up their packs, the jonrney(sic) to some dreamy spot was resumed. An abandoned cabin, near where the Widow HENRY resided in modern days, or another, near the PISTORIUS farm, did not stop their march. When the morning sun peeped into the forest, the travelers were at the cabin of William RAY. That day they decided to locate and, having selected lands, the companions, assisted by RAY, built their cabins in the Bonny [p. 500] Brook country. In 1803 James McCURDY, still a single man, with John McCURDY, were here. Late in that year James married Peggy THORN, and twenty-seven years after erected a brick house which subsequently became the property of S.P. YOUNG.

Peter HENRY, who with his sister, was rescued from the Indians in 1778, by Captain BRADY and scouts, as related in a previous chapter, settled in that portion of Summit township formerly included in Clearfield, in 1798, and in 1800 brought his family hither. Until the divisions of the townships, elections were held at his house. His wife, Margaret, died in 1832. He died in 1852, aged eighty-eight years.

William NEYMAN and family came here from Westmoreland county in 1799, and erected a grist-mill on the east bank of the Connoquenessing, near the mouth of Bonny Brook, in 1800. In the assessment of 1803 we find him the owner of 500 acres of land, with gist mill, four horses and two cows; while William Jr., John and Elizabeth NEYMAN are assessed with 800 acres. Soon after he added a saw mill and a carding and fulling mill, important industries in those days. NEYMAN's mill was a leading manufacturing center for several years. The grist mill was a log structure, with crude water wheel and buhrs, but it met the requirements of the settlement during pioneer days. The NEYMANs moved to Oakland at an early date and erected another grist mill, and the old mills passed into the hands of the COLLINS family, who operated them for a long period. One of the buhrs is still doing duty in the REIBER mill.

Hugh GIBBS, Jacob SUMNEY, Joseph GOLD, John WONDERLY, Francis WARMCASTLE, John GREEN, James McLAUGHLIN and one or two of the MARTINs were land owners here before the county was organized. Abraham BRINKER, an early settler of Butler, moved into the Bonny Brook settlement in 1813, built a carding mill, saw mill and distillery, and in 1814 erected a stone grist mill. He placed John MOSER in charge, and he was succeeded by John WARMCASTLE, who carried on the industry until James McLAUGHLIN purchased the property. E.K. MARSHALL and John BURFORD were successive owners prior to the Civil War. James STEPHENSON purchased the concern in 1861, and altogether it has been an industry of many owners.

The Bavarians, Alsatians, Brandenburgers, Saxons and people of other nationalities began to flock hither in 1830, and within the succeeding decade the territory now constituting Summit township was well improved, and evidenced the fact that the men and women who had cast their fortunes with the older settlers were admirably endowed by nature to advance the material and moral growth of the district. In February, 1894, the then oldest resident of the township, Nicholas BLEICHNER, passed away in the ninety-third year of his age. He was the last of the German pioneers.

In 1860, six years after the township was organized, the population was 939; in 1870, 1,304; in 1880, 1,266, and in 1890, 1,287. The wonderful oil developments in the township since June of the latter year have resulted in a material increase of population, the number in April, 1894, being estimated at 1,500.

The revenue of the common schools of the six districts of the township for the year ending April, 1894, was $2,229.55, of which sum $1,071.05 was appro[p. 501] priated by the State. The assessed valuation January 1, 1894, was $297,155; the county tax, $1,188.62, and the State tax, $213.50.

The names of the justices of the peace elected for the township from 1854 to 1894 are as follows: Francis RIOTT, 1854; re-elected in 1859, 1864, 1869 and 1874; Andrew W. JOHNSTON, 1856; John KENNEDY, 1859; Robert GILLILAND, 1861; re-elected in 1866, 1872, 1877, 1882, 1887 and 1892, and died in office April 25, 1894; David LEECH, 1879; re-elected in 1884, 1889 and 1894.

SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES

The children of the pioneers of Summit township attended, in 1813, at a log school-house near BRINKER's mill. It was presided over by a teacher named O'MALLEY or MALEY, later by George GREER, who abandoned the Oakland school, and next by George TOWNLEY. The last named opened the frame building, which BRINKER, the GILLILANDs and MARTINs erected, about 1818, and carried the school on until the days of John WATT and Caleb RUSSELL. The common school law was in force here as early as 1835, since which time the pioneer subscription school has been only a memory. The Lutheran school at the center of the township was established in 1876. In May, 1894, a convent and school for the instruction and education of young ladies and the female children of that district, was founded in the vicinity of Herman.

St. Fidelis' College, a part of St. Mary's Monastery, dates the beginning of its history back to the spring of 1877, when the buildings forming the nucleus of the present Monastery were completed. The changes, architectural and otherwise, which have been effected since then, are noticed in the history of the Monastery. The faculty of St. Fidelis' College comprises Rev. Bonifacius ROSENBERGER, director; Rev. Pancratius DOCKLER, religion, Latin, Greek and shorthand; Rev. Godhardus FRIEDMAN, German, Latin and history; Rev. Lucas BELKE, German, Latin and Greek, with history and phonography; Rev. Paulus WERR, mathematics, botany, physiology and vocal music; Rev. Chilian LUTZ, English and French; Ambrosius METZ, English language and United States history, and Cassean HARTL, religion and English language. In 1877, the old parochial residence was converted into a school, and a number of young men entered as students. In 1878 it was enlarged, and in 1879 a new building was erected. The present college building is 141 feet in length, forty-five in width and forty-nine feet in height, to the eaves.

In 1880 four students came from the Capuchin college in Bavaria to pursue their studies here. They were the first to complete their education and the first graduates to be ordained here as priests of the church. There are now seventy students enrolled. Outside of the Catholic people of the county, mention is seldom made of this College, though the chairs are filled by scholars of a very high order, and the curriculum is equal to that presented by the leading colleges of the country.

St. Mary's Monastery-Few travelers over the Western Pennsylvania railroad have failed to notice the Monastic-Gothic pile with which the Capuchin fathers have crowned the heights above Herman station. The buildings form the church, monastery and college of St. Mary's. They have been brought into [p. 502] existence within the last quarter of a century. The foundation stone of the Monastery was laid July 21, 1876, and the corner stone August 15, of that year, by Father HYACINTH, as the representative of the bishop of Pittsburg. Father HYACINTH outlined the plan, the lay brother, Eleutherius made the drawings, and T. WOLF, of Pittsburg, performed the duties of builder. The original edifice was ninety-one feet in length by thirty-two feet in width, with walls twenty-nine feet in height, above the sub-story. The addition, erected in 1887, is seventy-one by twenty-four feet, with walls twenty-nine feet high. The structure, comprising the study and recreation rooms, situated between this addition and the college, is eighty by twenty-four feet and twenty-five feet in height. It was commenced in 1886 and completed in 1893. The college building shows walls forty-nine feet high. Its length is 141 feet and width forty-five feet. The Monastic-Gothic style was observed in the first buildings and followed subsequently by the architect, Father Anthony SCHUERMAN, who died July 20, 1887, and was buried in the cemetery close by.

Butler county owes the establishment of this Monastery to the Bismarckian persecution of the Catholic orders. The Capuchins were ready to obey the cruel edicts of the new empire and its "Iron Chancellor," and, in 1873, sent Fathers HYACINTH and Matthew HAU, and Brother Eleutherius, draughtsman and architect, to prepare a home for the order in the United States. In 1874 the bishop of Pittsburg placed the two priests in charge of St. Augustine's church in that city, and there, the same year, Fathers Joseph Clasanctius MAYERSHOFER, and Mauritius GRECK, with Brother Leovigild BRUCKNER, were received on their arrival from Bavaria. In June, 1876, Father Matthew HAU was sent to St. Mary's as prior of the new Monastery, and held that position until January 26, 1878, when he moved to Kansas. He died at Victoria, in that state, June 25, 1878. Father Mauritius GRECK succeeded him, and was prior until September 9, 1881, when father Franciscus WOLFF was appointed. From 1884 to 1888, Father Calasanctius MAYERSHOFER was superior, followed by Father Joseph Anthony ZIEGELMAYER from 1888 go 1891, when Father Felix M. LEX was placed in charge. He was succeeded in August, 1894, by Father Charles SPECKERT, the present prior.

Brother Leovigild BRUCKER, who died at Herman September 10, 1893, served in the Prusso-Austrian war of 1866. For seventeen years he was the chief cook, physician, gardener and baker of the Monastery. Father SCHUERMAN, the architect, was chaplain of a Prussian regiment in 1870-71, and won the "Iron Cross."

CHURCH HISTORY

St. Mary's Catholic church may be said to have a history contemporary with the settlement of Catholic pioneers in Summit township. Before they were numerous enough to maintain a church, they were visited by priests from surrounding parishes, and had religious services in their homes. The first baptism in the township was that of Catherine WEILAND, daughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth (SCHMIDT) WEILAND, the rite being administered June 7, 1846. From that date down to the present there have been over 1,200 baptisms registered. The marriages solemnized here in 1840 were those of John SANDER and Margaret KRUNES; Bernard GALLAGHER and Susanna WEILAND; Joseph EBERLE and Ursuline [p. 503] FLICK; John WOLFGANG and Maria HOEPFEL, and Lucas SCHULER and Maria ALTMEICA.

In 1841 a chapel was erected, but it was not until 1846 that the bishop appointed a resident priest. In 1863 the building was enlarged. At various times since it has been remodeled, and is now one of the most beautiful houses of worship in the diocese. In 1889 the old windows were replaced with beautiful stained glass, and the spire, 170 feet in height, completed. The interior of the building reminds one of the chapels of medieval days. In altars, statuary, paintings and frescoes, as well as its stained glass windows, all combine in producing a singularly beautiful effect, and the beholder is impressed with the artistic harmony existing between the interior architecture and the decorations. The church is practically one of the buildings of the Monastery, and completes the Gothic group. For nearly half a century the priests and people of St. Mary's church have labored to produce an institution worthy of their faith, and they have succeeded.

The names of the older members of this parish are as follows: Andrew BECKER, Nicholas BLEICHNER, J. BERNINGER, P. BURKBICHLER, Nicholas BAER, M. BLEICHNER, N. BLEICHNER, L. BLEICHNER, Joseph DIEBOLD, Jacob DAUSCH, Francis and Michael EICHENLAUB, W. EICHENLAUB, P. EISENMINGER, J. FRANKLE, Andrew FLECK, Bartholomew GANTER, J. GALLAGHER, P. GALLAGHER, P. GREILICH, D. HOLLER, John HEIM, M. and Jacob HOFFMAN, W. KREBS, M. KOBEL, Philip KLUS, Christopher KRECHER, Joseph KNITTEL, B. LITSCH, M.A. MAISCHEIN, Valentine MULLER, Wendelin NEBEL, J. and Wendelin OTT, Martin OBER, Joseph REYMAN, Francis and Nicholas RIOTT, Sr., Jacob and Nicholas RIOTT, Joseph ROHM, Michael RHEINHARD, Michael and John SPOHN, Joseph SCHEHL, Charles SEIBERT, J. SCHUH, D. and A. SCHWEBEL, G. SCHWEBEL, P. SCHMIDT, J. SCHNEIDER, A. SPOHN, Herman SCHMIDT, Albinus VOGEL, Charles WERNERT and L. and J. WEILAND. Other names have been added to the list of members since 1846, but these show very fully who were the founders of St. Mary's. The congregation now embraces thirty English and Irish families, and 100 German and French families, making an aggregate of 670 persons.

The following pastors have presided over the church: Father Robert KLEINADAM, 1846; Father SCHMALTZBAUER, 1847; Father HESPELIN, C.S.R., 1849; Father NEUBER, 1850; Father GOSTENCNIK, 1851-52; Father TAMCHINA, 1851-52; Father GEZOWSKY, 1853; Father GRIMMER, 1853-59; Father CHRISTY, 1859; Father GEYERSTANGER, O.S.B., 1859-60; Father LANGENFELDER, O.S.B., 1860-61; Father LAMBERT, O.S.B., 1861-66; Father RAPHAEL, O.S.B., 1866-70; Father NEIMANN, O.S.B., 1870-73; Father HOCH, O.S.B., 1873-75; Father LINGEL, 1875-76; Father Matthew HAU, O.M. Cap., 1876-78; Father Mauritius GRECK, O.M. Cap., 1878-81; Father Franciscus WOLFF, O.M. Cap,1881-84; Father Joseph Calasanctius MAYERSHOFER, 1884-88; Father Joseph Anthony GEIGELMAYER, O.M. Cap., 1888-91; Father Felix M. LEX, O.M. Cap., and the present pastor, Father Charles SPECKERT, who has been in charge since August 1894.

Branch Number 130, C.M.B.A., instituted in February, 1894, is one of the societies connected with the church at Herman station. It was organized by District Deputy Bernard KEMPER, with P.G. NASH, chancellor; J.W. SULLIVAN, [p. 504] president; P.H. DUGAN and John WALL, vice-presidents; M.J. CLARK, secretary; J.M. MOLANPHY, treasurer; T. McCOSTER, marshal, and J.A. JACOBS, guard.

St. Mary's Cemetery was established in March, 1845, Elizabeth EICHENLAUB, who was buried on the 11th of that month, being the first person to be interred therein. Martin KNITTEL, a boy, was also buried that year. In 1846 Margaretta KNITTEL, and in 1847 Joannes SCHUG, Francis SCHNEIDER, William EICHENLAUB, George KOEBEL, Jacob SCHMIDT, Barbara RIOTT and Joannes BERGBICHLER were buried here. The church was then attended by secular priest, but the records of the church and cemetery are now in possession of the prior of St. Mary's, who is rector of the parish.

Zion German Lutheran Church was organized May 3, 1877, with the following members of the Lutheran society of Butler: Ludwig RISCH, Jacob, George, A.J. and A.M. FREDERICK, Johann and August FELGES, Heinrich GRUENERT, H. and Johann BINSACK, C.F. OERTEL, J. A. and Andrew KNAUS, Adam RETTIG, Sr., Adam and Louis RETTIG, John HENSMEL and Charles F. SMITH. Rev. F. WILHELM was the pastor from the organization until 1891, when he was appointed superintendent of the Concordia Orphans' Home, as related in the history of Jefferson township. Rev. H.G. SCHWAGMEYER, the present pastor, assumed charge in June, 1892. The congregation is made up of sixty communicants, eighteen of whom are voting members. Services were first held in the German school-house erected under the communal agreement of April 14, 1876. In 1880 a new building, thirty-two by sixty feet in floor area, was erected at a cost of $1,800. It is now the place of worship of the congregation.

VILLAGE GROWTH

Bonny Brook is the pretty and poetical name that was given to the oldest village settlement in the township. It was here, around what was afterwards known as Brinker's Mills, that the RAYs, SCOTTs, MITCHELLs, McCURDYs, SMITHs and others of the early pioneers built their cabins, before a mail carrier knew of the existence of Butler County. A postoffice was established here a few years after Abraham BRINKER moved out from the town of Butler and named BRINKER's Mills. How often it was disestablished and re-established is not known. In 1868, however, it became Bonny Brook, with Henry GUMPPER, the general merchant, as postmaster. GUMPPER's store was afterwards burned, and the people were again without a postoffice until 1876, when Charles SMITH was appointed postmaster at Herman.

Herman Station, the successor of Bonny Brook, is now the principal village of the township. In 1880 Albert SMITH, who, in 1877, purchased the hotel, built in 1875, by Charles GARLACH, succeeded Charles SMITH as postmaster at Herman. The great wells of the Herman field, noticed in the chapter on the "Butler Oil Field," have not, thus far, tended to increase the population or mercantile interests of the village. In February, 1894, the DITTMER store and railroad depot, and the old Herman House, with a few other buildings, constituted the town; while the new village of Great Belt, a short distance southeast, in Jefferson township, boasted of two stores, a railroad depot, a creamery, a hotel and a number of private residences. Between Herman and Great Belt there is a city of [p. 505] derricks, where the walking beams move day in and day out. The celebrated EICHENLAUB and WOLFF farms, as well as other oil producing tracts, are here, so that there is no reason why the two villages should not take on the airs of little oil towns. The Monastery buildings on the hill, above Herman, now equal in extent all the trade and dwelling houses of the several railroad villages between Butler and Freeport, with Coylesville, Hannahstown, Leasureville, and Sarversville added.

[End of Chapter 41 - Summit Township: History of Butler County Pennsylvania, R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895]

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07 Feb 2000, 09:34