Beaver Township (Chap. 44)


edited by A. J. Davis, 1887



By B. M. Price.

transcribed by
Gene Shirey

BEAVER township is bounded on the north by Salem, Ashland, and Elk, on the east by Elk, Paint, and the Clarion River, which forms the Beaver-Piney line, south by the river and Licking township, and west by Richland and Salem. It lies in the west central part of the county. Its shape is irregular. Its greatest length from east to west is about nine miles; its greatest width is about seven miles.

The surface of the township is very hilly, but not rough, being broken into numerous ridges by many small streams passing through it. The highlands are divided into three main ridges, the principal one of which comprises all that portion of the township lying between Beaver Creek on the west and Canoe Creek on the east. It is in fact a watershed separating the small streams which supply these two larger streams. It extends from Ashland township line on the north to the Clarion at Canoe Ripple, on the south. This range has numerous cross-ridges jutting out from the main elevation, and terminating at the creeks which run on either side of it. The second range in elevation and area lies "across Canoe," or more definitely speaking, it comprises all that portion of the township lying east of Canoe Creek except the small portion lying east of Deer Creek. This Canoe ridge extends from the vicinity of Elk City southward until it terminates in the Clarion River at Delo's Eddy. The portion of the township east of Deer Creek is a high ridge, sloping down from the east to that stream.

The third and last main elevation comprises all that portion of the township lying west of Beaver Creek, and forms the watershed between Beaver Creek and Turkey Run. The highest part of this elevation is the ridge running from the Licking line to the Salem line, and probably the highest point is near the store of William Lorah & Son, at Monroeville. The lowlands of the township are limited in area, but a few splendid level tracts lie among the hills; those in the vicinity of Edenburg and Beaver City being the finest in the township. The Clarion River flows along the southeastern edge of the township for several miles, striking the township line east of the mouth of Deer Creek, and leaving it between the mouth of Canoe and the mouth of Beaver. Deer Creek enters the township from Elk township, near the Paint township line, and empties into the Clarion in the southeastern part of the township. Canoe flows out of Ashland township into Beaver immediately northeast of Edenburg, and flowing through the township to the southward, it empties into the Clarion at Canoe Ripple. Beaver Creek enters the township from Salem township near Beaver City. It flows southward and into Licking township about one mile west of the mouth of Canoe. These streams with their tributaries furnish good water power, good water for stock, and good drainage to carry off the surplus rain fall. A portion of the extreme western part of the township is drained by a tributary of Turkey Run.

Originally the land was covered with a heavy growth of oak timber. The principal part of the the [sic] township has been cleared, though a number of good tracts of timber yet remain. Much of the present standing timber, however, is of second growth; the original forests having been cut off for charcoal.

The lands lying west of Canoe Creek produce fine crops of wheat, corn, and oats. This more than ordinary yield of grain is not due to the natural fertility of the soil, but rather to the energy of the thrifty land owners, who have made a special effort to fertilize their farms. East of this creek are some good farms; the enterprising land owners on that side having many more difficulties to contend with in procuring fertilizers than their more favored neighbors to the west of them.

The principal productions of Beaver are the usual farm products, petroleum, coal, ore, limestone, and lumber. In early days when the iron industry was the principal one of the county, large quantities of iron ore were mined. When the iron excitement died away the people generally gave their attention to farming, but little progress was marked for a number of years. In 1865 the production of oil at Deer Creek introduced a new element into the commerce of the township. But as the field was soon abandoned, this element had little influence on the wealth or progress of the people, till the developments in the western part of the township, which began in 1872. The excitement ran high for about six years; probably being at its zenith in 1877. The production was large. Many land owners became wealthy from the oil produced on their farms. At present the yield of oil is somewhat limited. Since the oil excitement has subsided the farmers seem to vie with each other in the improvement of their lands.

As a general thing the breeding of first-class cattle has received little attention. There are some worthy exceptions to this general condition. Cyrus Neely, Israel Neely, W. J. Ramsey, and a few others, have made much improvement in the cattle of the township. Eli Ritts has some fine cattle on his farm occupied by Peter Price. The horse stock has received much more attention.   Probably no township of the county has a better grade of drafthorses than Beaver. George Berlin, Jacob Graff, Levi Berlin, and others, have done much to improve the grade of horses.

History and Early Settlements. -- Beaver township was a part of Richland township, Venango county, previous to the formation of Clarion county. The original Beaver township, at the organization of Clarion county, included the present Beaver township, also part of the present townships of Ashland, Elk, and Salem, with a population of 1,611. In 1880 the township, lessened in area, had a population of 3,585. The population of the township during the oil excitement probably exceeded 5,000. The first settlement within the limits of the township was made in 1801 by Henry Best and Harold Best. These two pioneers left their homes in Westmoreland county to seek a new home farther west, and after several days' travel they reached a place which seemed to suit them, and they stopped and spent the night where John G. Snyder's barn now stands. Having looked the country over they concluded to settle there, and at once proceeded to erect a cabin. The place of location was near the site of the Stone Church. Not knowing who owned the land whereon they had located, each of the brothers proceeded to take possession of a tract for himself. Harold's cabin stood about where the Stone House now stands, which is occupied by Henry Best, son of Harold. This son is now in his 87th year. The other brother, Henry, built his cabin at the head of the little valley northeast from the present residence of Michael Best. The following year the men returned to Westmoreland for their families, which they at once brought to their new homes. Soon after this another brother, William, came and purchased the tract upon which Henry had built.

At this time there was no mill nearer than at Oil Creek, or at Bear Creek, and Henry looked around for a suitable place to erect a mill.      He selected a site near the place where the dam of the present George Best mill now is. The prospect of having a mill was received with so much favor by the settlers far and near that men came many miles to help build it. About this time two settlements were made at or near the mouth of Deer Creek, one by Joseph Brown and the other by John Orr.       It is possible that these settlements antedated the settlements made by the Bests, but a memorandum in possession of Captain R. Laughlin, of Callensburg, only shows positive proof that the Deer Creek settlement was made as early as in 1802, at the latest. The memorandum is as follows:

"A Memorandum of A Bargin Between John Laughlin and Robt. Brown Sheweth that I, the Said Brown Doth hearby Sell unto the Said Laughlin A Pice or persel of Land containing Eight-Hundred Acres Lying on the waters of Stump Creek with two small improvements in the Names of Joseph Brown & John Orr -- Bearing Date October 30th 1802, which I Do Ensure to be the first upon the Land it Being for the sum of one Hundred Dollars to me in hand paid which I am to pay Back if not vacant with Interest and reasonable pay for his Trouble as witness my hand and Seal the 18th Day of January 1803.
A man named Ritchey made a settlement south of Blair's Corners on the land now owned by the Garis brothers, Wiles and Gilbert, at an early date. Ritchey died and his widow sold the improvement to a Mr. Knight, an early settler, and the ancestor of the families of that name now in the township.

The Becks and the Armstrongs first settled the northern portion of the township.

Henry Myers settled in 1815 on the property now known as the Myers Mill property, near Blair's Corners. He built the saw-mill in 1815, and the grist-mill in 1817, and took up his residence in the upstairs of the last-named structure. This mill is now run by Joseph Myers, a son of its builder. Here may be seen the toll-box that did service in the old Alum Rock mill from 1811 to 1817, and which has done service for seventy-six years.

In 181- a man named Raines settled the land now owned by Cyrus Neely, Israel Neely, and Leonard Mong. John Neely, father of Cyrus, Israel, John, and Frank Neely of this township, bought the Raines property, and then settled the farm which George Texter now owns.

The first settler east of Canoe was James McKisson, on the Regina Altman farm.

Furnaces. -- There were four furnaces in the township -- Jefferson, Eagle, Beaver, and Tippecanoe. Beaver was the first. It was erected in 1837 by Leonard & Sample. Jefferson was erected in 1839 by Plummer & Co. Eagle was erected by Curll, Kribbs & Co., and Tippecanoe by Black & Maxwell. Jefferson was called the "Quaking Asp Furnace." Being in a hurry to get the furnace in blast the stack was surrounded by a temporary wall of quaking asp poles filled in with clay. The iron from these furnaces was boated to Pittsburgh on the Clarion and Allegheny Rivers.

Grist-mills. -- Henry Best's grist-mill erected, in 1806, was the first in the township. A short distance below it on the same stream (Beaver Creek) Henry Myers built his mill in 1817, and later the mill known as the Stull mill was built, still farther down. Henry Best's mill going into decay, a new one was erected, which is now owned by his son, George Best.

Saw-mills. -- The first saw-mill was the one now owned by Joseph Myers, which he runs in connection with his grist-mill. It was erected in 1815 by Henry Myers. The old saw-mill at the mouth of Canoe was owned by George Delo. Later James D. Shaw carried on business at that point. At present George W. Whitehill carries on boat-building there in connection with the mill, which he repaired upon gaining possession of it. At an early date a small mill was built down the stream from Myers's mill, where the pump station now is, and another near the site of the George Best mill. Near Edenburg, on the Whitehill farm, is a saw-mill on Canoe, which has been in operation many years.

Other Industries. -- Early in the history of the township Henry Myers built an oil mill near the station at Blair's Corners, on the P. & W. Railroad. The mill was for the manufacturing of flax-seed oil, and was run a long time.

Reuben Fowles had the first wagon-shop in the township, near the old Fowles homestead. Other tradesmen followed. George Texter, sr., built a wagon-shop in 1824 where he now lives, being the oldest native workman in the township.

During the oil excitement an extensive carriage manufactory was erected at Jefferson City by a Mr. Delo. It was the largest establishment of the kind in the township. Many others came with the oil excitement, but the only establishment that survived the reaction is the manufactory of O. J. Crum at Monroeville, which, at present, is putting out first-class work.

The shops incident to the excitement, such as machine-shops, boiler-shops, tank-shops, etc., have disappeared, with one exception, that of the machine-shop of Irvin Magee at Monroeville, which shop yet does a great deal of work.
As was noted under early settlements a man named Raines settled the I. S. Neely farm and other lands. His cabin was built about six rods west of the spot where I. S. Neely's house now stands, which spot is marked by two walnut trees.

In 1821 John Neely came from Westmoreland county and bought Raines out. Soon  after this John Neely wounded himself with an ax. The cut was so severe that Mr. Neely had to return to Westmoreland to receive treatment from a doctor, under whose care he was kept for a year. He then came back to his land that he had bought of Raines. His wound had somewhat disabled him for hard work, so he bought his father's stills and erected the first still-house built in Beaver township. It stood below the spring, where E. J. Neely's barn now stands. It is noticeable that of John Neely's nine sons, brought up in and about the distillery, not one of them is addicted to the use of liquor, and only three use tobacco. After the still-house was built C. Kribbs built one near Edenburg, and a man named Armstrong built another not far from Kribbs's.

A few years ago George Knaell erected a jelly factory at Mongtown. Many bushels of apples are here made into jelly by this new enterprise.

The earliest blacksmiths of Beaver township were a man named Silvis, who worked in a shop near the present site of Hunter's barn at Beaver City; and a man named T. Lynn, who worked at the mouth of Canoe. After these came Henry Sterner, Samuel More, John Lorah, O. J. Crum, Samuel Stoner, John Cope, and others.
Mr. Coulter, at Jefferson, works in the old Delo carriage manufactory, and for many years David Kline had a shop at Mt Joy; and Henry Sterner was the first blacksmith to work at Monroe. John Beck, sr., once had a shop on the John Beck farm, near Edenburg. At an early day John Cherry, sr., erected a gunsmith shop where the present shop of John Cherry now stands. For many years this was the only gun-shop within forty miles. Here Mr. Silvis often came to do blacksmithing.

Oil Wells. -- The oil excitement began in Beaver in 1872. In 1865 there had been five wells drilled at the mouth of Deer Creek, called the Pocahontas, the Brazil, the Coal Run, the Whitehill, and the Packer. All of these wells had some oil, the first being struck at a depth of about 313 feet. The oil was of good quality, amber colored. The production was small, though the Pocahontas started off at a daily production of thirty barrels. The field was soon abandoned, as the wells were "wet holes," that is, not cased, and as the water was plenty, it soon drowned out the oil.

In 1872 the first wells to strike oil were on the George Berlin, the George Texter, and the Eli Ritts farms, in the western part of the township. The oil here found was the third sand, or green oil.        Developments soon extended eastward through the township, and soon almost the entire portion lying west of Canoe from the Ashland and Salem lines toward the river to Wentling's Corners was covered with a forest of derricks. The total number of wells drilled in the township is unknown to the writer, but it must have reached eight hundred. Some of the wells were large producers and the total yield was enormous. Pump stations were erected at Forest Home, Slambang, Jefferson, and Blair's Corners to accommodate the field, which was soon covered with a net-work of pipe laid by the United Pipe Line Company and other transportation corporations. The production of the township has greatly decreased, but still is quite valuable. An oil refinery was once in operation near the residence of William J. Ramsey, below Monroe. It was frozen out by larger corporations.

Towns. -- Previous to the excitement the villages of the township were small. Edenburg was the largest. The developments in and around that town soon increased its population and business till it became a borough. Monroeville, a small cross-roads village, soon became a booming oil town, and Blair's Corners increased considerably, but being on the edge of the belt, it never became very important. Jefferson City, Wentling's Corners, Beaver City, Forest Home, Fullerton, Mongtown, Moyer's Corners, Mehrtena and Slambang sprang up almost in a day, and for a few years "boomed," but when the reaction came, the most of these towns disappeared, some leaving not even a sign to mark the spot where they once stood. Monroeville, now called Monroe, Wentling's Corners, and Blair's Corners are the only remaining towns of importance. The larger of these oil towns were bad places, especially Jefferson City.

The deviltry incident to the growth and decay of these towns was inestimable, and to write what could at this late day be set down would fill a volume. But these scenes of unnatural and spasmodic uprising of little cities had a brighter side. The influx of population foreign to our soil brought with it many of the best people of this and other States, who devoted their money to the development of the wealth of the township, while their influence was exerted to improve their social and moral surroundings.

At Monroe, the present business houses consist of Lorah & Son and A. J. Dearolph, in general merchandise; S. F. Weiser, shoe store and shop; Wm. Henton, drug store; O. J. Crum, carriage manufactory; Charles McCafferty, furniture and undertaking. Here also are located Dr. J. F. Summerville and Dr. B. Richter, and John Lorah, justice of the peace. Here also is the machine-shop of Irvin Magee. At Blair's Corners J. P. Lutz has a general store; John Long, a hotel; and Samuel Stoner, a blacksmith shop; and Mr. Fisher, a wagon-making shop. At Wentling's Corners, Mr. Deitrich has a store; Mr. Thomas Wentling, a store; John Cope, a blacksmith shop; and Robert Taylor, a hotel. Isaac Mong, justice of the peace, is located here. At Jefferson Furnace, Blair's Corners, and Forest Home the pump stations are still in use. At the Beck farm John Beck still has a grocery, and John Mehrten a store at Mehrtena.

Schools and Churches. -- In 1814 a building was erected where the Stone Church now stands. It was a church and school-house combined. Soon after this building was erected another was built near the present site of Cyrus Neely's brick house. After that a school-house, known as the "Buckwheat Academy," was erected near Wentling's Corners, on the Jerry Best farm, and the next school-house was built where Edenburg now stands.

During the excitement in oil times the township sustained eighteen schools. Since the floating population has gone out of the township, four of these schools have been abandoned.

After the church building at the Stone Church others were erected throughout the township. The first, known as the Emmanuel Church, stood near the site of the one-time town of Beaver City. It was abandoned in oil times and the Beaver City church was erected. The Mount Joy Church stands on the ridge above Canoe Ripple. The Evangelical Lutherans erected a church at Blair's Corners in 1875. The Monroe St. Mark's Reformed Church was built in 1876. The Brown Church, in Monroe, was built by the Presbyterians about the same time. One time there was a church at Jefferson Furnace. The only resident minister in the township is Rev. J. F. Wiant, of Monroe, who succeeded Rev. Henry Hoffman, the first pastor of St. Mark's.

Recollections, Notes, etc. -- The township at various times has had various lodges of different benevolent orders. At Monroe the Royal Templars, the Knights of Honor, and the Knights and Ladies of Honor have had lodges. At Blair's the I. O. O. F. had a lodge which is thriving. Beaver City and Jefferson each had a lodge of the A. O. U. W.; the latter lodge has been moved to Wentling's Corners. Monroe K. of H. survives.

Monroe Academy was established about 1880, by Rev. S. W. Wilt. It afterward fell into the hands of W. A. Beer. Since 1882 it has not been in operation. The Knights of Honor having purchased the academy building, it is now used for a public hall and lodge-room. In 1881 W. A. Beer and J. E. Reicherd began the publication of Common Sense, an educational semimonthly. This office was in Monroe. It suspended in 1882.

Mr. Beer, during his residence in Monroe, was nominated for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, to which office he was elected by a large vote.

While a resident of Monroe Mr. Beer had charge of the Monroe Academy, and taught the public school during the term of 1881-2.            His school work was earnest and aggressive.     His pupils rallied to his standard with a will. The school not only made rapid strides forward, but during that term it procured a bell worth twenty-two dollars, a Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, a twenty-five dollar tellurian globe, and some maps, and blackboards. The pupils and citizens recognized in this teacher a character strong in its own
individuality, and it left its impression upon the community. The school has kept on accumulating apparatus and aids, and now has an organ, a set of encyclopedias, and other helps ; besides, a number of the students of 1881-2 have since become teachers of good repute.

Forest Home was the headquarters of the United Pipe Lines, superintended by Major J. B. Maitland, a gentleman of superior business abilities. This town was a sort of an educational center. The people built a school building; helped pay a teacher, and gave a great deal of attention to reading and study. This school has lately been abandoned. The first store in the township was opened by Abram Allebach, near where C. W. Wiles now lives.

The crimes and casulties of the township have been quite numerous, but we are unable here to give authentic data.

On the 2d of October, 1885, Mrs. McKisson shot Patrick Forbes, dangerously wounding him.

Probably the last wolf killed in the township was killed by J. P. Kiser, in 1860, near the Knight school-house.

The first post-office was "Myers," kept by Henry Myers in his mill. The office was afterward moved to Jefferson furnace, and the name was changed to "Jefferson Furnace;" when it was moved to Blair's Corners through the influence of R. F. Blair, the name was again changed and its present name, "Blair's Corners," was adopted. A post-office was established at "Knox," and one at Tippecanoe called "Canoe." In 1876 the Monroe post-office was established with W. C. Sherrick, as postmaster. About the same time an office was established at Jefferson City called "Church," with F. Donaldson as postmaster. This office is now located at Wentling's Corners. When Beaver City was a town, its office was called "Kribb's Farm."

The famous Captain Henry Neely, of Richland township, first located in Beaver township near Edenburg's present site. He built his cabin near where Mr. Culbertson's house now stands. While living here Captain Neely's brother died and was buried on the knoll now the north end of the main street of Edenburg.  This was probably the first white man buried in the limits of Beaver township. Henry Neely then settled on the flat west of Alum Rock. There are men living in Beaver who remember having sowed wheat between Christmas and New Years, and raised a good crop.

The first physician to practice in the township was a Dr. Meager.

The sturdy citizens of this township deserve a more extended notice than here given, but space will not permit. The names most familiar throughout the township number among them the Becks, Masters, Neelys, Bests, Myerses, Texters, Berlins, Delos, Alts, Knights, Kribbses, Bealses, Heeters, Garises, Armstrongs, McKissons, Lorahs, Fritzes, Dearolphs, Foxes, Theisses, Heplers, Wentlings, Taylors, Whitehills, Hulingses, Klines, Mongs, Youngs, Bashlines, Cherreys, Eichners, Lutzes, and scores of others who have done their share to develop the township.

On Beaver Creek above Jefferson Furnace are a number of wells that were abandoned, which seem to be artesian in their nature, as they now throw out a constant stream of water.   One of these flowing wells is located at the head of the Myers mill dam. From this well Mr. Myers has laid a water line to the head of his mill race, and the action of the water keeps the race open during the winter, so that here we find a water-mill that can grind the whole year round.

The Pittsburgh and Western Railroad passes through the township. In oil times there were station-houses at Ritt's Farm, Blair's Corners, Jefferson and Beaver City. Now there is no ticket office in the township. The Emlenton and Shippenville road also passed through the township, connecting with the present road at Jefferson. It was torn up about eight years ago.

Return to: