Perry Township (Chap. 63)


edited by A. J. Davis, 1887



By John M. Beer.

transcribed by
Jae Brown

THIS township lies in the extreme southern part of the county. It is bounded on the north by the Clarion River, east by the Clarion River and Licking and Toby townships, south by Toby township and the Allegheny River, and west by the Allegheny and Clarion Rivers. The township consists mainly of high ridges, broken by numerous small streams, which empty their waters into the Allegheny and Clarion Rivers, and into Licking Creek. The principal small streams are Freedom, Camp, Black Fox, and Troutman Runs. Perry township was originally a part of Armstrong county, and was settled soon after the land office opened. Tradition says that settlement was made as early as 1800, and it is a well proven fact that one Gideon Gibson settled, built a house, and made other improvements on what is now known as the Allen McCall farm, and sold the same in 1802 to Mr. McCall, the ancestor of Allen. In 1804 John Black built a house near the Licking-Perry line, east of C. Lobaugh's present homestead. In the same year John Wilson built a, house on the Robert Pollock tract, and William Miller built on the Yingling tract. Other early settlers were Joseph Everett, Benjamin Coe, the Hagans. and the Pollocks.

Industries. -- The industries of the township are varied. The southern part is principally the site of the coal mining interests, the north of the oil interest, and the other portions of the township are farming communities.

Along in the forties a company began the erection of a furnace in the southern part called Red Fox. This company sold to a Welsh firm, who finished the work and called it Black Fox Furnace. This firm sold out to Vernum & Adams, who became involved, and a disputed title threw the property into the sheriff's hands, who sold it, and it was bought by Painter & Graff. This company made iron here till 1859. In the summer of 1860 William Moore tried to start the furnace to use up some stock he had on hand, but in attempting to get up steam, the boiler exploded, killing two men named William Kortz and Benjamin Kogan. Thus it has been truly said that "Black Fox Furnace blowed out in 1860," at least it blew up. It never made iron after that event.  In its best days it made from fifteen to twenty tons of charcoal, or cold blast metal daily.

There have been a number of grist-mills on the various streams in the township, viz.: Elliott's, at Matildaville, built in 1843; Hagan's, on Hagan's Run; McGarrah's, on Rattlesnake Run; the Dan Snyder mill, now owned by Copes, and the Shaw steam-mill at Perryville.

In 1855-6 Elijah Davis built a saw-mill near West Freedom, which is still in use. Copes have a saw-mill near their grist-mill, and James Bell & Son have a steam saw-mill on the Clarion River at Turkey Run Eddy, in connection with which they have a large boat scaffold whereat many men find employment.

The A. V. R. R. -- This important public highway passes through the township along the banks of the Allegheny. It was built in 1866-67. Two important stations, Parker and West Monterey, are on the township's seven miles of river front over which the road passes. In the early history of the road Bear Creek was also an important station. At Upper Hiliville there is also a station.

Oil Wells. -- In 1867 oil was found in a well at East Parker just above the railroad station. It was put down by James E. Brown, and is still producing. It is said that this well during its twenty years' existence has produced $90,000 worth of oil. The "Piper" well has been producing for fifteen or sixteen years, and still yields twelve barrels daily. From 1873 to 1876 great excitement prevailed about the Logue farm development, and quite a town sprang up on that tract The Gailey fram [sic], near Perryville, produced a great deal of oil, as did also the Fox farm, on the Clarion. The production at present has fallen off very much, and many of the oil kings are poorer than they were before the excitement.

Iron Tanks. -- With the advent of oil came the building of tanks. At first shipments were made entirely by rail, but now it is principally by piping. Four or five iron tanks were built at Perryville in 1873. Now there are about forty, all the property of the United Pipe Lines, which is only another name for the National Transit Company, or Standard Oil Company. The capacity of each tank is about 35,000 barrels. The township authorities assess these tanks for local purposes. It is said the tax on each tank amounts to $150 per year, $50 each for school tax, poor tax, and cash road tax.

Schools. -- Little definite information has been obtained by the writer relative to the establishment of schools in the township. There are at present fourteen schools (twelve houses) in the township. A graded school of two rooms is located at West Freedom, and a similar school at Perryville. The other schools are the Neff, l,ogan, Pine Hollow, Dutch Hill, West Monterey, Black Fox, Logue Farm, Pollock, McKibben and Fox. The latter was established in 1854. The West Freedom Academy building was erected in 1860-61. It was not completed when the war broke out. The academy has ceased to exist from all appearances, but it left the names of the following gentlemen who conducted the institution: Prof. Hosey, Rev. Burton, Prof. Green, Prof. A. S. Elliott, A. J. Davis, Prof. P. S. Dunkle, Prof. J. V. McAninch, and Prof. Lynn.

One of the old-time teachers of the township, Mr. James C. McKibben, still takes an active part in educational matters.

Many of the teachers who have taught in the Perry schools, have become men of affairs in the world. The following names will be recognized by many: David Latshaw, J. W. Dunkle, P. S. Dunkle, G. G. Sloan, W. A. Beer, A. M. Neely, O. E. Nail, J. G. Anderson, H. H. Pollock, H. P. Elliott, C. W. Elliott, A. S. Elliott, C. C. Poling, George W. Mathews, J. B. Bollman, J. C. Bryner, W. W. Wolfe, and others. This list includes two county superintendents, and all the others have in some way been prominently before the people, two having been members of the Legislature at the same time, one a presiding elder in the M. E. Church, and one led a company from this county through the civil war.

Churches. -- Concord Presbyterian Church is the oldest in the township, having been organized in 1807. The Methodist Church building at Perryville and the Presbyterian Church building at the same place, were erected in 1871. The congregations, however, were previously organized. For many years the Methodist congregation at West Freedom worshiped in a church on the hill east of the town, just above the cemetery, and later in the old academy. In 1876 the present fine structure was erected. There is also an M. E. Church at West Monterey, and a Lutheran Church at Dutch Hill. The M. E. Church also holds service at intervals at the Logue farm and at Pine Hollow. At one time it had a class meet in the Pollock school-house. The West Freedom and Perryville M. E. congregations belong to the Callensburg charge.

Benevolent Societies. -- The I. O. O. F. has two lodges in the township -- one at West Monterey and one at West Freedom. Formerly West Freedom also had an encampment, but it is now defunct.

Villages. -- There are no incorporated boroughs in the township; but West Freedom, West Monterey and Perryville are towns of importance, and several other small villages such as Matildaville, Hagantown, and Dutch Hill add to the population. West Freedom is situated on the Parker-Clarion road, midway between Parker and Callensburg. The first lots were sold by Joseph Yingling in 1848. The first buildings erected were a dwelling house and a blacksmith shop, by John Baker, in 1848. The first merchants here were Phipp & McGuff. Later came H. W. Jordan and George Yingling in the general merchandise line, and they are still in business here. S. S. Jordan opened up a drug and variety store, and did business till only a few years ago. He was also postmaster, one of the few Democrats who held such a commission under a Republican administration. John Coon, E. Slaughenhaupt, H. Y. Howe, and others did business here. At present S. K. R. Smith does business at the place once occupied by Coon. He is also postmaster. The fact that Jordan, a Democrat, held the office under a Republican administration, is offset by Smith, a Republican, holding it under a Democratic administration. Smith was commissioned by President Arthur's postmaster-general, and has not been removed. The town also has a millinery store, a harness shop, two blacksmith shops, and a carpenter shop, also two hotels. West Monterey, on the A. V. Railroad, is a thriving town. It is chiefly maintained by the coal industry. The Company's store, Steel's furniture store, Giles's general store and other places of business meet the wants of the people.

At Perryville there was quite a town during the excitement, and a large amount of business was done; but at present the general store of J. L. Fox, the grocery store and meat market of H. M. Best, the millinery store of Mrs. Lash, and the blacksmith shop of Miles Baker are the only places of business. The post-office (Pollock) is kept at Parker Station by S. C. Burkholder, also a Republican. Perryville was laid out in 1879 by Callen Reichard.

Hagantown was settled by Paul Scheuster, who had an ashery there.

Matildaville was settled by Isaiah Elliott. Martin's Ferry connects Perry and Richland township. A bridge was once built across the Clarion at this point, but it never was opened to traffic, and soon fell down.

Public Officers. -- Benjamin Miller was once county commissioner; J. B. Watson, prothonotary; Alexander McCall, associate judge; S. D. Sloan, commissioner from 1875 to 1878, and O. E. Nail, register and recorder from 1871 to 188I.

Miscellaneous Items. -- The prosperity of the township is largely due to the energy of such citizens as the McCalls, Stewarts, Pollocks, Terwilligers, Jordans, Sloans, Yinglings and many others whose names call up the best memories of the general thrift of the people.

In 1840 the population of the township was 1,122.

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