Farmington Township (Chap. 53)


edited by A. J. Davis, 1887



transcribed by
Michael Goughler

FARMINGTON is the largest township in the county, containing over forty square miles, about one-fourteenth of its whole area. It is pre-eminently the lumber region of Clarion county, but is fast being stripped of its wealth of pine and hemlock, thus compelling the inhabitants to bestow more attention to agriculture. Perhaps nature endowed it with this abundance of wood as a compensation for depriving it of mineral carbon. It enjoys the distinction of having the most timber and the least coal of any township in the county.

Farmington township is abundantly watered by Paint Creek, Toby Creek, and Tom's Run on the south; and Coon Creek and Walley's Run on the north. In its northeastern and most elevated quarter the plateau or Big Level which characterizes it, is most noticeable. This in many parts presents the rare spectacle of a perfect level, without any familiar Clarion county hills climbing to the horizon.

Tom's Run was so called after a Cornplanter of that name who used to encamp on its banks. This camp was situated on the old Samuel Boyd farm, and in 1837 it still remained in a state of good preservation. The course of this run was a favorite route for the Indians in traveling from the northern forests to Jefferson county.

The township (first called Deer) as erected in 1806, by the Venango county commissioners, Samuel Dale, John Andrews, Thomas Beard, was entirely different in scope from the present Farmington. Its northern boundary then was an extension of the present north line from warrant 3337 west to the continuation of the Paint-Elk boundary, which was its western limit as far south as the tract line bisecting Knox township. That line to its end, thence north to the northeast corner of tract No. 3681, thence by its northern boundary and its prolongation cast to the northeast corner of 3682, formed its southern limit. Its eastern was the north and south line extending thence to warrant 3337, the place of commencement.

So it may be seen that the original township embraced the western half of the present, together with the northern half of Knox, and the eastern two-thirds of Washington. The remaining half of the present Farmington was occupied by Toby's Creek township. It will be perceived that the outlines of the old Farmington township have undergone extensive changes, the most important, that of striking out Toby's Creek township and annexing it to Farmington, as well as other alterations, occurred while they formed a part of Venango county. Its subsequent curtailment by the erection of Washington and Highland townships, was in Clarion county.

Farmington township, being the most remote from the bases of the civilization of this county, and lying off the State road, was the last to be settled. Its settlements may be described as three, viz., Scotch Hill, Tylersburgh, and the Wilderness: we will take them up in their order.

About 1815 James McNaughton moved out from the Highland homestead and commenced an improvement on a spot immediately southwest of the village of Scotch Hill, and now the property of D. Steiner.

James Anderson, a native of Scotland, who had married a daughter of Alexander McNaughton, about 1820 cleared a little farm, and settled alongside of his brother-in-law. Anderson was a man of broad Caledonian accent, marked personality, and with a great deal of native force, which only lacked culture to have given him a more than local distinction. Joseph Porter and William Townley came to that vicinity soon after Anderson.

In 1836 George Alsbach, a native of Union county, purchased the Anderson tract for $1,500, and removed to it with his family from Shippenville. The surrounding country north, east, and south was a howling wilderness. Mr. Alsbach soon replaced the two log cabins, and the half barn of the same material, "which required props to keep it from falling," by more comfortable and modern frame dwellings. In the spring of 1851 Mr. Alsbach laid out a portion of his farm in lots and called the prospective village Scotch Hill, to commemorate its former occupant, Anderson, and his neighbor, McNaughton. At the same time he erected a storehouse and opened a store in it, making the first sale July 1, 185I. In the following October a mail line was established between Clarion and the new village. John Cook, on the east at the mouth of Tom's Run, and David Gilmore, on the west at Little Toby, were pioneer lumber and mill men.

Nicholas Waley, John Moore, and David Reyner were the pioneers of the western and Tylersburgh section. The two former, brothers-in-law, came from Madison township in 1824, and David Reyner in 1828, from the present Washington township. He was originally from Lancaster county, and as a member of the Lancaster land syndicate had acquired large possessions in Washington and Farmington townships. He resided on the farm now owned by Mrs. C. Downing, a mile and a half south of Tylersburgh. Waley and Moore settled in the same vicinity, a little further south, and formed the advance posts of the Vogelbacher settlement. Their farms now belong to their descendants.

Further north the earliest were Robert Killen, Henry Cornish, John Walters, A. J. Anderson, Jesse G. Butler, and William Chambers, all coming in the thirties and forties. William Chambers (formerly of Shippenville) owned a large tract of land in northwestern Farmington, and in 1844 he plotted a town on it, calling it Tylersburgh, after President Tyler, then at the head of the government, and whom Chambers greatly admired.

In 1831 the solitude of the wilderness in the northeastern portion of the township was broken by James Black, who came from Sugar Creek, Armstrong county, and settled on the homestead near North Pine Grove. The country abounded in game of all sorts, deer, bears, wolves[,] panthers, wild cats, wild turkeys, and pigeons, besides the smaller species. The streams were alive with trout. Within a year or two came his brothers, John and Patrick Black; Thomas Meagher, Charles and Dennis Boyle, David McDonald, Thomas Walley, Robert and Archibald Haggerty, David Griffin, Henry McNairney; soon after these, William Wilkinson and Arthur McCloskey; the latter, with his family, came from Philadelphia in 1835. These settlers were all Catholics, the majority of them from Butler and lower Armstrong counties.

They erected a hewed log church on land bought from the Binghams and adjoining the McCloskey farm, in 1836; but before it was completed a severe storm blew it down. No church was then built till 1848, when a frame church was erected near the site of the present one. In the mean time Father O'Neill, of Sugar Creek, and a few other priests attended the spiritual wants of the settlers at their cabins. In 1868 the present commodious brick edifice was commenced, under the instigation of Father Koch. It was completed in 1871. There was no regular resident priest till the present one, Rev. P. Cosgrove, was appointed; the church being visited by the various missionaries who attended the Catholic congregations in the county. Under Father Cosgrove's pastorate a neat parsonage was built, and the old church converted into a school, taught by the Benedictines. "Lepanto" is the name of the church and settlement, as designated by the bishop of the diocese. The now populous, although wide-spread, settlement presents now well cleared and tilled farms. The country is well opened by rail and wagon roads. The conveniences of life are easily within reach, and the name " Wilderness," as applied to it, has lost its significance.

Tylersburgh is a pleasant village of about two hundred inhabitants. It contains a Presbyterian Church, which was organized in 1850. Leeper, or Tylersburgh Station, two miles distant from the village, is the most important commercial and shipping point in the township. It derives its name from Mr. Charles Leeper, of Leeper, Arnold & Co., whose lumber siding intersects with the P. and W. R.R. here.

Scotch Hill has two large general stores, and its population is one hundred and fifty. Vowinckel, the site of Vowinckel's mills, is a promising little railroad station in the extreme northeast corner of the township; it took its rise simultaneously with the mill in 1883. Black's Corners (North Pine Grove P. O.) is a hamlet near its eastern Forest county line. Cooksburg lies partly in Clarion county, at the mouth of Tom's Run. In 1850 the census of Farmington township was 1,124; in 1870, 1,642, and in 1880, 2,185.

1) It probably received its name from Farmington, a town in Maine.

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