Callensburg Borough (Chap. 47)


edited by A. J. Davis, 1887



transcribed by
Gene Shirey

CALLENSBURG was laid out in 1826, by Hugh Callen, sr. It was incorporated a borough in 1851, by act of Assembly.

Organization of the Borough Government. -- At the first election, March 21, 1851, the following officers were elected, viz: Chief burgess, J. B. Reynolds; assistant burgess, William Elliott, sr.; town council, Allen Wilson, Abram Frampton, W. A. Bowser, A. Kifer, and James H. Shaw; borough constable, James Carroll; high constable, William J. Reynolds; justice of the peace, Abram Frampton ; assessor, John H. Boggs; street commissioner, Asa Messenger; overseers of the poor, J. H. Kernott and T. J. McCamant; school directors, for three years, William A. Bowser, David McKay, and Allen Wilson; for two years, John H. Boggs and J. B. Stuart; for one year, H. Redick; judge of election, David Guthrie ; inspectors, Henry Alexander and William G. Moore; auditors, R. C. Thom (for three years), David Guthrie (for two years), and W. J. Reynolds (for one year).

When the council organized, on the 27th, its first act was to appoint W. F. Cartwright secretary, who at once took the oath of office, and entered upon his duties in that capacity. At this meeting George Daugherty was appointed treasurer, and the amount of his bond fixed at $500.

The first assessment was made March 27, at the rate of ten mills on the dollar, for borough and street purposes. On the 10th of April this assessment was amended to five mills for road purposes, and three mills cash tax for borough purposes. During the existence of the borough the following named gentlemen have filled the office of chief burgess of Callensburg:

Burgesses of Callensburg 1851-1887 -- J. B. Reynolds, Samuel Kifer, John C. Morrison, David Wilson, R. Laughlin, J. R. Widgeon, R. A. Hunter (during the year, May, 1859, to March, 1860, Joseph Alexander acted instead of Hunter), Joseph Alexander, R. Laughlin (absent in army most of the time), James P. Parker, Peter Mobley, William Moore, Joseph Alexander, John Austin, S. D. Meals, M. D., J. P. Shields, M.D., Joseph Alexander, William L. Sedwick, John C. Hilliard, S. D. Myers, R. Laughlin, J. H. Elliott, John C. Hilliard, Charles S. Shaw, G. W. Spencer, M.D., John C. Hilliard, A. J. Rarer, John Konkle, A. J. Rarer.

Foundation and Growth of Callensburg. -- A quarter of a century elapsed from the laying out of the town to its incorporation as a borough. During these twenty-five years (1826 to 1851) much progress had been made in the village, as was also the case in the surrounding neighborhood.

In attempting to chronicle a few of the important events connected with the founding and growth of Callensburg, no more just or appropriate topic could be selected as the subject of the introductory paragraph than that sturdy, honest people, whose name is incorporated in the name of the town.

The Callen Family. -- Hugh Callen, the founder of Callensburg, was born in Westmoreland county June 5, 1773, of Scotch parents. He was the father of nine children, viz., Thomas, John, Sarah, David, Mary, James, Samuel, Hugh, jr., and Watson.

James, now living in Piney township, is the only survivor of these nine. The oldest two, Thomas and John, were known throughout Jefferson and Elk counties as great hunters, those regions being then an uninhabited wilderness. John died near Clarion, Thomas in Jefferson county, Samuel near Reidsburg, and Watson at Brockwayville. Sarah was married to Samuel Wilson, and Mary to Michael Reichart. Both are now dead.

Hugh Callen, jr., well known by many persons now living in Callensburg and vicinity, was born at the old Callen homestead, "across Licking," in 1813. He died March 17, 1881, aged sixty-eight years. He was a man of sterling qualities, of great stability of character, firm in his convictions, a faithful friend, and an unpretentious and exemplary Christian. All who knew him respected him, and now his memory is revered.

The Old Poplar. -- In 1812, Hugh Callen, sr., bought three hundred acres and allowances; which plot included the greater part of the present site of Callensburg. He settled here the same year, building a house south of Licking, very near the spot where now stands a large poplar tree. This tree grew from a twig used by Mr. Callen as a riding-whip. On his return from church at Concord one Sunday he stuck the whip into the ground, and this lone Poplar stands to-day as a monument to the piety of him who planted it.

Before relating the incidents pertaining to the laying out of the town, its building up, and business, it is but fit that this paragraph should close with making note of the going out of that life, which, above all others, was so earnestly identified with the first sixteen years of the life of the village that he planned.

Hugh Callen, sr., was not a particularly remarkable man, but, as has been observed in these lines, and as will be shown by the following account of the laying out of the town, he was a far-sighted, broad-minded, and generous man. He was a strong man in a moral sense; an honorable man in his dealings with men; a Christian and a patriot. He was a soldier of the War of 1812, and was a United States pensioner for services rendered in that struggle. He was called to Clarion in 1842, as a witness on a land case, but he never gave his testimony. While eating supper February 10, he was taken sick, and died that night (February 10, 1842), in his sixty-ninth year. His remains lie in Callensburg Cemetery.

Laying out the Town. -- In 1826 Judge Gettis made a survey of the Clarion River, then called Toby's Creek, or Stump Creek, with a view to locating the Pennsylvania Canal. Knowing that in case the canal were built, several locks would be necessary at this point to facilitate the movement of boats, Hugh Callen, sr., conceived the idea of building a town. He set to work to lay it out. Sidle Lobaugh, then twenty-seven years of age, was a skillful surveyor and draughtsman, and he was employed by Mr. Callen to do the work. The original plot extended from James H. Shaw's blacksmith shop to the westward as far as the lots now occupied by W. A. Hindman & Co. with their dwelling and store.  Before the town was laid out the hope for the canal bad almost gone, but Mr. Callen perceived the beauties of the place as well as the richness of the soil, and felt that it would be a good town for county trade, even if no public works were erected.

In laying out the town, Mr. Callen reserved three acres whereon to build a Presbyterian Church. This plot included the cemetery. The open lot near the tanyard, north of Main street, whereon the town spring rises, was excluded from the list of "lots for sale."  That never-failing fountain of clear, pure water is a reminder of Hugh Callen's farsightedness and public spirit. It was reserved for the public good, and to prevent its being purchased by any private individual, he deeded it to the town. To-day the spring is open and free to every inhabitant of the village, and to every passer-by.

The first house in the town was erected by John L. Reed, on the lot now occupied by Henry Alexander's dwelling house. It was built of logs, and was raised by the members of the military company known as the "Washington Rangers," after muster on the first Monday of May, 1827. John Colwell sawed the logs for the house, and when completed it had four rooms, two downstairs and two upstairs. The "Rangers" at that time had an enrollment of one hundred and ten men, with John L. Reed, captain, Hugh Kilgore, first lieutenant, and A. Frampton, second lieutenant. There are now sixty-three dwellings in the town, sixty-one of which are inhabited.

Stores. -- The second building erected in the town was a dwelling with a tannery in the basement, built in 1830, near the site of the present tannery of Mrs. S. D. Myers. Abram Frampton, an enterprising citizen of the vicinity, was the builder and owner. The building fronted on the road which runs from Main street at Alexander's store to the bridge. The main floor or dwelling part had three rooms. In the south room of the dwelling Mr. Henry Alexander opened a store in 1831; he did business there one year. In 1832 he moved his store to the place of George Elliott, sr., where Thomas Elliott now lives; he remained there till 1834, when he erected his present store building on Main street, and moved into it, where he has conducted a general store and drug business ever since -- a period of more than half a century; during which time he has seen more than a score of merchants in the town rise, flourish, or fail and pass away.

The next store was that of J. B. Reynolds, in the building now owned by Mrs. Gourley, which building stands almost opposite the hotel near the Odd Fellows' Hall. This building has since been occupied by Patrick Kearney, with a general store, and Henry Rodgers with a drug store.

In 1848 a Mr. Heslip opened a store on the lot east of the J. H. Elliott dwelling. He was succeeded by Joseph Cathers, and later Mrs. E. A. McDowell kept a millinery store there. The house occupied by James F. Davis is all that remains of these store buildings.

Levi Redic once kept a grocery on the lot now occupied by James E. Crain, near the Dr. Meals property, and in 1850 Levi Redic with John Wilson began to do business at the site now occupied by W. A. Hindman & Co. They were succeeded by Henlen & Brewster in 1852. This building was occupied by William Moore in 1862. After doing business here a short time, Moore sold out to Hilliard & Owen, but re-purchased the store, and was succeeded by J. B. Miller about 1866. Mr. Miller carried on an extensive and profitable business till 1878, when be sold out to Bushman & Wakefield, who in a few years dissolved partnership by the retirement of Mr. Wakefield. Mr. Bushman carried on business till 1881, when he sold out to the present owners, W. A. Hindman & Co.

In 1857 Lowe & Guiher had a store in the house now occupied by J. C. Hilliard.

Dr. W. A. Bowser opened a store in 1853, in the house now occupied by Mrs. Sarah Wilson, and about this time Henlen & Brewster built the Elliott store building and occupied it. After they closed out, the building was occupied by Robert Cathers as a store-room, and by William Fenton as a whisky storehouse. The building was afterward occupied by J. H. Elliott, T. M. Kier & Co., S. Frampton & Co., B. H. Frampton & Co., E. E. Elliott, and last by W. A. & D. J. Beer, all of whom did a general merchandise business. A Mr. Greer also had a tin-shop in this building. Mr. Moore sold his goods to Peter Mobley, who moved them to the Mobley store-room east of the hotel.

Robert Hunter once had a store where Captain R. Laughlin now lives. A Jew, named Wolf Adams, once kept a clothing store in the building now occupied by A. J. Rarer as a wagon-shop. The store was robbed, and Adams closed out.

John Stover, a photographer, kept a confectionery and jewelry store for a time where Mrs. E. Klingensmith now resides, and for a time north of Main street, where the Sedwick cottage how stands.

Dr. George W. Spencer kept a general assortment of drugs in his building now used as his office. He sold out to Madame De Graw, M. D., in 1882. The fine residence which Spencer had erected on the same lot in 1879 was destroyed by fire in 1883. A controversy ensued relative to insurance money, title, etc., and on the recovery of the property by Spencer, he fitted up his office without the drug store. Dr. N. M. Meals set up a drug and toy store in the Odd Fellows' Hall building in 1885.

In 1880 Mr. C. Ebling, who had been in the tinware and hardware trade, brought on a general assortment of goods in his dwelling on the next lot west of the Hindman property. Since then, with characteristic energy, he has, with the assistance of his accomplished wife, increased his business constantly, and he now has one of the best assortments of goods in the town.

In 1885 W. A. Beer built a small store-room on his lot in the extreme east end of the town.  He began business with a small supply of stationery, cigars and tobacco, to which he soon added groceries, boots, shoes, etc. In October, 1885, he bought out E. E. Elliott, and, in partnership with his brother, D. J. Beer, opened. up a general store in the Elliott building.

Shops. -- The first wagon-maker's shop was erected by Joseph Alexander in 1843. Mr. A. J. Rarer has worked at wagon-making here for twenty-eight years. Others who have worked at the same trade were David Payne, George D. Schott, John Wilson, and Thomas McCamant.

Thomas McCamant opened the first blacksmith shop here about 1836 or 1837. Other smiths were David Edmond, Robert Brown, Wilson McCamant, Wilson Colwell, William Stoner, James H. Shaw, Mansel Shaw, and Alvin Shaw, besides the smiths in Sedwick's carriage shop, and R. B. Dunkle, who is quite apt in that line of work. J. H. Shaw has been the most constant and faithful of any smith the town has ever had.  He has occupied his present shop for about forty years.

Sedwick's carriage manufactory was built in 1874, and during its existence has employed such skilled workmen as C. W. Sedwick, Lewis Dettre, W. A. Cartwright, John Parker, W. H. Stoner, H. L. Grayson, William Blair, D. A. Young and others; besides, the proprietor, J. S. Sedwick, is able to go into any department -- blacksmith shop, wood shop, paint room, trimming room -- and perform any and all kinds of work connected with the business. Unfortunately for the town, the proprietor became involved, and for several years past the property has been in the hands of an assignee. R. B. Dunkle, in the west end of the town, has erected a good-sized shop where he does building and repairing, also deals in factory made rigs, harness, robes, etc.

In early days John Bell, R. Laughlin, John M. Laughlin, and Robert Bell worked at the harness-maker's trade here. Later, Stephen D. Myers, James M. French, and William S. Maitland had shops. Mr. French died in 1880, and at present Mr. Maitland has a monopoly of the trade.

The first shoemaker was a man named Day. Since his time, Henry Boyer, Isaac Dehart, William Sedwick, John Jack, John L. Reed, William Holmes, John Holmes, David Holmes, Al. Cartwright, Clark Rupert, W. F. Krauss, and W. A. Varner have worked in the town. The last two have shops here now.

David Guthrie, Andrew Gourley, Asa Say, John Austin, Thomas Dunkle, and William L. Dunkle, at various times in the history of the town have been engaged in the cabinet-making business and furniture trade. W. L. Dunkle has the only furniture establishment now in town.

Mobley & Ray once had a foundry here, which did good work. Mr. George Ray is the only survivor who was interested in this enterprise, and his absence prevents a more definite notice of this establishment.

Churches and Schools. -- In 1825 or '26 the people of the vicinity assembled in the grove where the Presbyterian Church now stands, and had delivered to them the first sermon ever heard in this town's limits. The minister was Rev. Robert McGarrah. In the summer the people worshiped in the grove, and in the winter at the houses of Mr. Callen, Mr. Elliott, and others. In 1831 the frame of a building, intended for a church, was erected, but failing to get shingles down the Clarion on account of low water, the building stood that winter without a roof. When the summer came the people felt too poor to finish the church, so they enclosed a small room in one corner for a chapel, which was also used as the first school-house. In 1838 it was determined to build a new church, and the was offered for sale. Buyers were scarce, but finally Mr. Henry Alexander paid the very liberal price of fifty dollars for the old structure, which was torn down and used for fences and outbuildings. The present building stands where the first one was started, and is considerably larger. It was completed in 1838.

Under many difficulties a Methodist class was established in the public school-house, which had been erected in 1838 on the ridge in the northeastern part of the town.   At first their annual contribution to the pay of a minister was only forty to fifty dollars, consequently they had little preaching, but the church grew until it was able to erect a substantial church edifice in the west end of the town. It was built about 1850 or 1852.

The first school-house was built down northeast of the town in 1825, where
McCamant's first shop was. The present building was erected in 1854, and is likely to do good service for a number of years yet.

Callensburg Academy was incorporated in 1858, and erected of brick in 1860. In 1883 it was repaired by W. A. Beer, who received a five-year lease of it, receiving the proceeds of the lot attached, and all the income from the school, in return for the money invested by him. It is mentionable that the result at this date (March, 1887), is a net loss to the lessee of about one hundred and fifty dollars. But the broken windows, plasterless walls, dingy stairway, and dirty hall, which called forth the severe censure of Dr. Higbee, State superintendent, when he visited the town in 1882, have given place to a pleasant school-room, which has been the resort for many assemblies met for educational purposes since the spring of 1883.

Ministers. -- Following Rev. McGarrah in the Presbyterian Church were Rev. John Turbitt, Rev, David McKay, who was chaplain of the One Hundred and Third Regiment in the late war, and died.on his wary home, at Lewistown, Pa. His remains were brought home, and lie in the Callensburg Cemetery. Rev. Samuel Kinkaid came next. He was killed in his stable by a vicious horse, and his remains lie near Rev. McKay's. Then came Rev. James McIntire, Rev. T. J. Milford, Rev. Edgar, Rev. J. H. Hawk, and the present popular and earnest pastor, Rev. William J. Wilson.

In the M. E. Church we have the names of Revs. Keller, Whippo, Reeser, Moore, and Rev. Carothers, who had the well known controversy with Rev. William McMichael; Revs. Lyon, Crum, Steever, Burton, McEntire, Johnson, Sterrett, Hays, Clover, O. M. Sackett, E. M. Kernick, B. F. Delo, J. H. Laverty, and at present, Rev. E. R. Knapp, under whose ministry during the winter of 1886-7 the unprecedented revival was held, whereby about four score were taken into the church.

Teachers. -- The Callensburg Academy was chartered in 1858, and was opened in the common school building May 5, 1858. The first principal was Rev. Orr Lawson. After him came a long list of teachers who had control of the school, some of whom were gentlemen of learning and culture, and others were men of limited attainments.

We find the names of J. S. Woodburn, Mr. Sherard, George W. Chalfant, M. Foster, David Tappan, Rev. O. A. Elliott, T. D. Duncan, J. F. Lobaugh, A. J. Davis, G. M. McFarland, A. S. Elliott, Professors Anderson and Storey, J. E. Jeffers, W. C. Reicherd, J. H.]Barton, and W. A. Beer.

Many of these teachers are yet living. O. A. Elliott, A. S. Elliott, and J. H. Barton are in the ministry. W. C. Reicherd is filling a responsible position in a railroad shop office at Roanoke, Va. W. A. Beer still has control of the school.

The brick building was contracted for in 1859 at $1,858, and finished in 1860. The total cost was $2,000.

In the public school many of the best teachers of the county have been engaged.

Physicians. -- The first doctor in the town was Dr. Beggs. lie came here from Cherry Run, and soon after died of fever. Reed Goe, M.D., came to wait on Dr. Beggs, and remained for some time practicing. After these the physicians were Drs. J. B. Stuart, Goe, Cummins, Anderson, Boyd, W. A. Bowser, Joseph Eckert, Gardner, Rankin, S. D. Meals, J. P. Shields, N. M. Meals, G. W. Spencer, T. M. Jackson, Auley McAuley, and Madame De Graw.

Of these, Dr. S. D. Meals had the longest and most successful term of practice. He came here in 1859, and continued in constant practice till a shor[t] time before his death, which occurred in 1884.

Dr. G. W. Spencer and Dr. N. M. Meals are still in practice. Spencer is also a dentist.

The Post-office. -- This is one of the most important institutions in our midst. It was established on the 15th of March, 1828, with Sidle Lobaugh as postmaster. He held the office almost four years. The subsequent appointments were as follows: John Galbreath, William Elliott, Henry Alexander, Robert A. Hunter, David Guthrie, Henry Alexander, John J. Broadhead, Joseph B. Reynolds, George A. Elliott, jr., W. C. Mobley, Jacob B. Miller, Samuel H. Bushman, F. L. Shallenberger, William A. Beer, November 5, 1885.
The first appointments were made while the office was in Armstrong county, and Clarion county having been established in 1839, the title was soon after changed to Callensburg, Clarion county, but at what particular date is not recorded in the post-office department.

List of soldiers who resided in Callensburg when they went to the war: Captain R. Laughlin, Captain A. H. Alexander, Lieutenant George D. Schott, Lieutenant John M. Laughlin, Thomas Dunkle, William Vesey, M. L. Boyer, D. R. Frampton, H. C. Frampton, Thomas Gatings, Charles Glaze, Abner Harkless, Samuel Hours, William Davis, Reed Beggs, Justus George, Reed Goe, Norval D. Goe, Rev. David McKay, R. C. Thom, George Payne, Joseph K. Vaughn, John Konkle, W. C. Mobley, S. H. Keister, Mat. Dunkle, Gazzam Stuart, John Williams, P. M. Dunkle, James Burns, Isaac Guiher, Samuel Sampsell, James Sampsell, Abram Sampsell, William Elder, David 1. Wallace, Wilson McCamant. A total of thirty-seven men, or more than ten per cent of the entire population of the village.

Public Men. -- In the early history of the village Henry Alexander was a man of prominence, and was appointed census enumerator for Armstrong county in 1840. R. Laughlin was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1851 and 1852, representing Clarion, Armstrong, and Jefferson counties. Samuel Kifer was elected county commissioner in 1859. W. A. Beer was a member of the House of Representatives in 1883-84, being a resident of Monroeville in Beaver township when elected in 1882. He became a resident of Callensburg in 1883.

Miscellaneous Items. -- C. W. Sedwick, a workman in Sedwick Carriage Manufactory, has invented a scroll saw, which if properly put on the market, will rank second to no machine of the kind in use. The village has a brass band which has maintained an organization under many difficulties. The I. O. O. F., the A. O. U. W., and the E. A. U., all have lodges here to which many of the best people of the community belong.

In 1878 Rev. W. A. Bowyer brought to town a small outfit for a printing establishment, and for a short time published a paper in the interest of temperance. It was called the Callensburg Observer. In 1886 Rev. W. J. Wilson began the publication of the Callensburg Visitor, which he still issues, the printing, however, is done by contract by a foreign establishment.

Mrs. Kuhns, once a resident of the village, died December 10, 1868, at the remarkable age of one hundred and four years. Henry Alexander aged eighty-six years, at present writing is very active and conducts his store business as if he were nearer middle life.

The town was the most populous in 1870, having then about four hundred inhabitants; there being now not more than two hundred and seventy-five.

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