Within its limits are Curllsville borough, treated separately in this history, the villages of Reidsburg and Williamsburg, and the hamlets of Keeversburg and Churchville.
Settlements. -- Lewis Doverspike, the first settler in the township, came to what is now Churchville, took up some vacant land and built a rude shanty in 1800, or quite probably before that time. He had no family while here, but followed trapping and hunting.
Nicholas Baliett, now called Polliard, with his family, settled in 1801, on farm now owned by Reuben Shiry, his grandson. He cleared some land and followed hunting in his spare moments, which included most of his time.
Hugh Reid came from Ohio and built a log house on hill above Reidsburg in 1801. He took up four hundred acres of vacant land around and including the village now bearing his name. He was married twice, but left no children. A little incident connected with his first marriage will serve to show something of his business traits. His intended, unfortunately, during his absence engaged to wed another man, had the day set, and was about to be united. Mr. Reid heard of the arrangement and came to the house just in time to stop the ceremony. He explained matters, claimed the woman, and was then and there married in the presence of his rival. He was a millwright by trade, and was searching for mill seats when he came here. In about 1808 he built a log grist-mill in Reidsburg, at the mouth of Clugh Run. He then built a frame mill on Piney Creek, just below Reidsburg, in 1820, and in 1840 built another one a little farther around the bend of the creek, each of the two latter taking the place of the one built before it. He built a saw-mill in Reidsburg in 1812. David Craig bought the greater part of Reid's property here in 1855, and built the present saw-mill during the same year. Mr. Reid died in 1864, at the age of ninety-three years, within a few rods of where he built his first cabin.
Jacob Brinker, with his family, came in 1802 to what is now Churchville, bought Lewis Doverspike's tract of land and began to clear it and make improvements, Mr. Doverspike then settled on the hill above New Bethlehem. Adam and John Brinker afterwards moved into Porter township. Jacob Brinker, the pioneer settler at Churchville, was instantly killed while helping to raise a barn on farm now owned by Mr. Kerr, near Rimersburg. His son Jacob is at present living on a farm in western part of the township.
Thomas Brown, with his family, came from Indiana county and settled where his son Thomas now lives, in Monroe township, in 1804. His brother Alexander came to an adjoining farm at the same time. Alexander, son of Thomas Brown, sr., who died at the age of ninety-three years, is at present living on a farm in same locality, having lived in the township for over eighty-three years. They were thrifty farmers
John Clugh settled where Alexander Brown now lives, in 1804. The stream running through the farm took its name from him. Several of his descendants are still living in the township. David Frampton and Isaac Fetzer came from Mifflin county and settled near what is now Reidsburg, in 1804. William Frampton, father of David, with the rest of his family, all girls, settled in this locality in 1814. He bought one thousand acres of land here, and divided it among his children. John Magee, with his family, came to the farm now owned by his son, Kiser, in 1814. He had a woolen manufactory here in an early day and also followed farming. He died in 1884, at the age of one hundred years and one hundred days. He and his son Kiser lived together for seventy years, an unusual experience in the life of a father and son. Isaac Fetzer, David Frampton, John Clugh, John Magee, and John Conley were brothers-in-law through marriage in family of William Frampton. They were farmers. All came from Mifflin county, formed here a thrifty settlement, which they have held ever since.
Nicholas Shiry came from Westmoreland county to farm now owned by his son Reuben, in 1820; Richard Nisbit, Kuntz, William Adams, settling near Magees, Thomas Watson near Shiry's, Henry and John Delp, and others, most of whose descendants have gone out of the township, were early settlers in this locality.
Hamms were early settlers in vicinity of Churchville, coming four or five years after Brinkers came. Some of them afterwards moved into Porter township, and some of the descendants are still living in the Monroe township. Daniel Hamm served one term as sheriff of Clarion county. Stanford, Monks, Coursons, Henry Been, John Anderson, Samuel and William Austen, William Wilson, and others, settled in vicinity of Curllsville in 1802-3-4 and later. Their history, however, is given with Curllsville borough.
Robert Newell with his family, including John B., Mariah (Guthrie), James, William, Gillmer, Robert D., Susanna (Rimer), Elmer P., and Samuel, came from Centre county and settled near Churchville, in 1821. Some of the family and many of their descendants are still living here and near here yet. They are farmers. Jos. McKee settled where his son Hugh now lives in 1823. Several families are still living in the township. They are farmers, some of them taking an active interest in raising fine stock. Jacob Edmund came to the township in 1820. He was a millwright and carpenter, also lumbered some. His son Jacob afterwards lived on the same farm, followed droving, and was engaged in various other speculations. Andy Fox settled in the western side of the township in 1824. Others that should be mentioned are Myers in 1847, Mr. Means, who was surveyor and justice of the peace several years, Curlls, Lobaughs, Murphys, etc.
Reidsburg was so named in honor of Hugh Reid, who first owned the land on which it is situated. John Avery was the first blacksmith in the village, where he settled about 1820. Patrick Kerr built a storehouse and dwelling combined, on present site of Reidsburg Hotel in 1835, and kept the first store there. He sold the property to Samuel Wilson in 1845. George W. Arnold kept store in this building from 1847 to '51, after which it became a hotel, and has been used as such ever since. Williams Brothers own it at present, having bought it at sheriff sale, seized as the property of Mr. Larimer. G. W. Fulton built the fourth grist-mill in Reidsburg in 1872. G. W. Arnold bought it at sheriffs sale in June 1883, and in March, 1884, sold it to G. W. Fulton's wife, who subsequently sold it to Mr. Spangler, the present owner. There have been several stores in Reidsburg, but not more than two or three at any one time. The post-office in this village has had three different names, though virtually the same office all the while. Mr. Hughlings, a paymaster in the War of 1812, came to the place now owned by Hon. J. H. Wilson, one mile above Reidsburg, soon after the close of the war, laid out a town and called it Hulingsburg. He drilled a well and made preparations to start salt works. Through his influence the first post-office was established here and called Hughlingsburg. Hugh Reid was appointed postmaster, and kept the office at his house on the hill above Reidsburg. Samuel Wilson -- sometimes called Samuel Wilson Miller to distinguish him from the Samuel Wilson who bought P. Kerr's property, and to whom he was not akin -- afterwards was postmaster, and kept the office at Hughlingsburg for several years. In 1840 William F. Keever, who built a hotel on Reidsburg and Sligo road near Reidsburg, was appointed postmaster, moved the office to his place, and had the name changed to Keeversburg. When Lincoln was elected president the office was moved to Reidsburg, and the name was changed to that of the village in which it was kept. There is a hotel and lumber yard at Keeversburg at present, owned by W. F. Keever's son.
The salt works at Hulingsburg never were completed. Government officers came here to arrest Hughlings, whose accounts, as paymaster in the war, seemed to indicate that frauds had been perpetrated. He suddenly left and never returned. At this place at present there are two or three dwellings and a saw-mill. Reidsburg is a village at present having about twenty dwellings, two stores, one hotel, mill, blacksmith shop, church, academy, etc.
Williamsburg, situated on the road about half way between Clarion and Reidsburg, was first settled by Amos Williams, for whom it was named, who came here from Mifflin county, in 1807. He had a family of nine daughters, but no sons. Rev. B. H. Thomas married one of the daughters, Amos Corbett another, Charles McCafferty, of Monroeville, another, W. H. Hunter another, David Fulton another, and so on, all men well known in Clarion county. Mr. Williams built a carding-machine soon after his arrival, one of the first in the county, also owned some land which he cultivated. He was the first treasurer of Clarion county, and served for two successive terms. Philip Lewis with his family, including Zachariah, Enoch, Philip, jr., Nathaniel, Edward, and William, came to Williamsburg in 1808. William Lewis started the first store in this place in 1845. William H. Hunter built the first hotel in 1848, and sold it to Reuben Shiry in 1855; it was burned in the following fall, but rebuilt some time since.
Oil Developments. -- In the spring of 1887, M. E. Hess & Company drilled a test well on Kifer farm two miles south of Reidsburg. At first it produced ten or fifteen barrels per day. This made some excitement in the neighborhood, land was leased extensively, and preparations were made for testing the territory more thoroughly. Three or four wells were drilled right away, but no oil was found in them. Parties are at present engaged in testing the territory.
For a sketch of the furnaces in the township, see furnaces in general history of the county.
Schools. -- The first school-house in the township was built of logs on farm now owned by Alexander Brown. The exact date of its erection cannot be ascertained now, but John Magee moved into it when he first came to the township in 1814. School had been kept there before that. A log building was erected in Churchville in 1820, and another one near Williamsburg soon afterwards. They, like other early schools in the county, were built and supported by subscription. At present there are eight public schools in the township.
Reid Institute. was established at Reidsburg in 1860 by the Clarion Baptist Association, prompted by a desire to meet the wants of young people of its own territory and surrounding associations who seek mental training above that furnished by our public schools. Its curriculum of instruction embraces college preparatory, scientific, normal, commercial and musical departments. The boarding hall, known also as Prescott Hall, was burned in 1877 and rebuilt in 1880. Profs. Rittenhouse and S. C. Gilbert have had charge of the school as principals nearly ever since it was established. Prof. J. T. Gallagher, the present principal, took charge of the institution in January, 1887.
Churches. -- The Licking Presbyterian congregation at Churchville
was the first organized in Clarion county. An informal organization took
place here in fall of 1802. There never was a formal action of Presbytery
for the organization of this congregation. Rev. John McPherrin preached
the first sermon in this locality, and was the officiating minister at
the organization of Licking congregation. Rev. Robert McGarrough was their
first regular pastor, sent there in 1804 as a licentiate of Redstone Presbytery.
He was ordained November 12, 1807, the services being conducted at house
of Thomas Brown. This relation was dissolved April 23, 1822, and Rev.
John Core was installed as their pastor September 15, 1823. He served them faithfully until his death on May 7, 1854. Rev. Joseph Mateer was installed over this congregation December 7, 1854; was released after a pastorate of over twenty years. Rev. J. M. McCurdy, the present pastor, was installed October 6, 1875. For a more extended sketch of this congregation and its ministers and divisions of the charge, see Presbyterian Church in general history of the county.
The Reidsburg Zion Baptist congregation was organized in Amos Williams's
barn, in what is now Williamsburg, on June 9, 1821. It became at that time
a branch of the Glade Run Baptist Church, Armstrong county. Rev. Nathaniel
Tibots was the officiating minister. He was the first Baptist preacher
in what is now Clarion county, preaching here for some time before the
church was organized. The congregation at first consisted of a small band
of fifteen members, among whom were Amos Williams, Phillip Lewis, Richard
Reynolds, John and Margaret Mitchell, Hannah Frampton, and others. Rev.
Tibots was highly esteemed by his people. The sisters of the congregation
would often assemble together and arrange among themselves some expression
of their appreciation of his faithful labors. Among the gifts thus bestowed
was a pair of fine tow linen pantaloons, which, like Joseph's coat, was
of many colors, and which was frequently worn, in the proper season, at
Sabbath services. He continued as their pastor but one year after the organization
of the church. From 1822 to 1825 they had a stated pastor, Rev. James Williams
and Rev. George McCleary preaching occasionally as supply. Rev. Samuel
Frampton accepted a call in August, 1825, and remained a faithful and beloved
pastor for eleven years. In the autumn of 1837 Rev. Mr. Thomas received
and accepted a call, and soon after entered upon his arduous labors, which
relation continued until June, 1848, when the infirmities of age induced
him to resign. During his pastorate the church grew rapidly, some two hundred
and fifty members being added. His son, Rev. B. H. Thomas, began his labors
in this church in April, 1849, and was ordained on the 29th day of the
following September. He served faithfully as pastor until the spring
of 1886, when infirm health forced him to retire from active service. During
his connection with this church he has become greatly endeared, not only
to his own and sister congregations, but to the people of Clarion county.