From the War of 1812 to the Erection of the County (Chap. 9)


edited by A. J. Davis, 1887



transcribed by
Gene Shirey

Land Changes -- Lancaster Land Company -- The Bingham Estate -- Fox -- Postal Facilities -- Roads and Steamboats -- "Clarion" River -- Early Militia -- Prices of Land, etc. -- General Progress.

[p. 92]

1812-1839. -- LAND CHANGES.

HARM JAN HUIDEKOPER having purchased a large section of the Holland territory, it was subdivided into rectangular tracts, averaging three hundred acres, by Robert Beatty in 1804. It was mainly through Huidekoper's influence that the Beaver colony was established. Currency was scarce, and a long time was given for payment. Articles of agreement enabled the settler to enter upon the land (a similar practice prevailed with the other large owners), and from five to ten years elapsed before he obtained title by deed.

In 1812 David Lawson, father of J. B. Lawson, removed to the present site of Lawsonham, as sub-agent and surveyor for the Holland Company. In [p. 93] 1818 Charles C. Gaskill, of New Jersey, was empowered attorney of the company for the property in Jefferson and Armstrong counties; he had personal supervision and resided in Jefferson county, at Troy, until 1850. Gaskill also acted for Benjamin Cooper, of Gloucester, N. J., connected with the company as a contractor, and by variety of complicated transactions.

On May the 26th, 1816, the Lancaster Land Company, for the consideration of $73,280.77, and the payment of taxes for a number of years, purchased through Paul Busti, from Wilhelm Willink, Hendrick Vollenhoven, and Rutger Jan Schimmelpeninck, the survivors of the Holland Land Company, 187,110 acres of land in Venango and Jefferson counties, including therefore all their tracts in Clarion county, not purchased by Huidekoper, north of the river. This transaction had an important bearing on the future of the county, as will be seen later. The Lancaster Land Company was composed of substantial citizens of Lancaster county, desirous of investing in western lands. Their names are Christian Kaufman, J. Sherer, D. Le Fevre, Christian Huber, John Bachman, Daniel Reigart, Benjamin Long, Chris Stauffer, jr., George Morry, Lewis Urban, Henry Shippen, Samuel Miller, Gerhardt Buback, Daniel Reyner, George Snyder, John Houtz, James Humes, Joseph Ogilby, Thomas Crawford [,] Henry Carpenter, jr., Jacob Miller, Henry Bear, Benjamin Bear; committee, Henry Shippen, James Humes, John Bachman.

September 16, of the same year, the purchase was divided into fifteen shares of five and six warrants each. The shares were drawn by lot. The following drew in Clarion county: D. Le Fevre, Nos. 2454, 2498, 2505, 2526, 2525, comprising western and a portion of northern Ashland township. Christian Stauffer, jr., George Morry, and Lewis Urban, Nos. 2508, 2519, 2536, 2538, in northeastern Ashland and northwestern Elk. Gerhardt Buback and Daniel Reyner, No. 2803, in northwestern Washington. George Snyder, Nos. 2822 and 2805, in northwestern Washington. John Houtz, NOS. 2829, 2832, 2819, 2817, composing the neck that forms northeastern Washington. Christian Huber, John Bachman, Nos. 2815, 2816, 2786, 2787, 2788, a southeastern section of Washington township. James Humes, No. 2782, in southern Washington; Nos. 2783, 2784, 2785, 2772, being the northern half and southeastern section of the Holland Company's land in Knox township. Joseph Ogilby, Nos. 2779, 2778, 2776, 2774, 2773, a tier in northeastern Elk, and taking up the remaining portion of Knox township. Thomas Crawford, Nos. 2740, 2741, 2739, 2738, 2706, 2707, the remaining eastern half of Elk. Daniel Reigart, Benjamin Long, Nos. 2766, 2767, 2737, 2715, 2709, 2710, in western Paint, extending down to the company's line. Henry Carpenter, jr., Jacob Miller, Henry Bear, and Benjamin Bear, Nos. 2769, 2771, 2713, 2714, 2711, 2712, all the rest of Paint township on the east, crossing the river, and taking in the northern corner of Clarion borough.

In 1816 the company employed Colonel Samuel Dale to subdivide and renumber the warrants. [p. 94]

John Houtz assigned his purpart in northern Washington township to Henry Shippen. In 1819 Henry Shippen purchased two warrants, Nos. 2706 and 2707, in the vicinity of Shippenville, from Thomas Crawford.

July 7, 1816, Paul Busti conveyed sixty-five tracts, embracing nearly all the Holland Company's remaining Jefferson-Armstrong territory, to Somers Baldwin, of Troy, Jefferson county. The purchase money was secured by mortgage, and after Baldwin's death the mortgages being unsatisfied, the lands were sold by sheriff sale, and bought in by Vanderkemp for the company.

April 26, 1849, the successors and survivors of the Holland Company, Wilhelm Willink, Walrave Van Henkelom, Wilhelm Willink, jr., and Gerret Schimmelpeninck sold the last of their east Allegheny territory uncontracted for, consisting of 23,083 acres, to a syndicate composed of Alexander Colwell, Dr. John Gilpin, Horatio Lee, Alexander Reynolds, and David Richey, all either of Armstrong or Indiana counties; Reynolds and Richey entered into partnership and obtained all the land north of the Redbank, except the eastermost division in Redbank township.

Thus were extinguished the claims of a great company; one which had become a household word.

Ingersoll, Dallas, and Adlum assigned their warrants in Richland township, this county, to Richard Peters, jr., and Thomas, his brother, attorneys-at-law. Thomas Peters's share was sold by the sheriff in April, 1819, and was purchased by his brother. Thomas was excessively addicted to strong drink, and, partially in the hopes of removing him from the scene of temptation, and partly to personally attend their land business, Richard sent him out in 1820. He took up his residence near Richmond station, but, alas ! if not the gay company, the intoxicating glass was almost as easily available in the backwoods as in the commercial capital of the State. His death, which occurred in, 1825, was hastened by his habit. Richard Peters was a generous fosterer of improvements and patron of schools and churches in the Richland settlement. In May, 1820, Richard Peters conveyed the largest portion of his territory in the northern part of the county to Thomas Kittera (afterwards of Venango county), and Richard Renshaw, of Philadelphia. Judge Keating was the most extensive purchaser of the Richland lands.

In 1804, the devisees of the Bingham estate empowered Robert H. Rose, of Silver Lake, Susquehanna county, their attorney in fact. Some time afterward he removed to Clarion county. On May 7, 1811, the devisees of the Bingham estate executed deeds for 200-acre tracts, consideration five shillings, and a mortgage to secure the balance of the purchase money, to Thomas Guthrie, John Wilson, William Moffet, Robert McGarrah, Job Johnson, Joshua Rea, Benjaimin [sic] Coe, Alexander Guthrie, Stephen Travis, John McNutt, Joseph Cathcart, John Jones, John Guthrie, John Parr, and Jesse McConnell, of the Clarion township settlement. Likewise on the same day, for the same consideration, [p. 95] to Joseph Smith, Joseph Greenawalt, Joseph Everett, Peter Snyder, Val. Snyder, Jacob Watterson, Henry Girts, Thomas McKibben, and John McKibben, early settlers in Perry township.    The subdivision of the Bingham lands, north of the Clarion, was not till a much later date (1836), by Elihu Chadwick, of Venango county; there was slight demand for farms there previously, and settlement was retarded. Algernon Howe, of Maine, was the most extensive purchaser of the north Clarion territory.

Robert Gilmor having died, and Charles Hare becoming insane, the rest of the devisees, Alexander Ashburton, Henry Baring, and Joseph R. Ingersoll, as provided by will, appointed John G. Elliot, of Boston, and William Miller in their place. These appointments were confirmed by an act of Legislature, March 11, 1822. Thenceforth they were styled "trustees."

J. W. Guthrie succeeded Dr. Rose in the agency of the Bingham lands in this and adjoining counties.

All the remnants of the Bingham lands in this county were purchased through the attorneys in fact, July 12, 1851, by Samuel A. Purviance, A. N. Mylert, and John Bredin, of Butler county. It comprised much subject to contract.

The Bingham trustees, and their wives or husbands, had by that time grown to a list that presents a glittering and aristocratic array of names : Ashburton, H. M. Ashburton, Henry Bingham Baring, Augusta Baring, John Evelyn Dennison, J. Stuart Hippesley, Francis Baring, H. Bridgeman Simpson, F. Emily Bridgeman Simpson, Antonio de Noailles, A. M. Helena de Noailles, W. F. Baring, Emily Baring. Attorneys-in-fact, Joseph Reed Ingersoll, John Craig Miller.

In 1857 Mylert, Lane, and Purviance sold to James Bredin, of Butler, and James Campbell, of Clarion.

George Ross, of Kittanning, an extensive land jobber, was Fox's attorney from 1808. Samuel Fox, by will, conveyed all the real estate remaining in his hands, consisting chiefly, in this county, of warrants north of the mouth of Clarion, to Hugh Roberts, Joseph Parker Norris, Robert Ralston, and Jonathan Smith, in trust for his heir, Joseph Fox. It became vested in him in 18l6.

In 1816 Jonathan Mifflin sold seven 1,000-acre warrants in Madison, Toby, and Porter townships, to Joseph and Hannah Fox.

The Fox estate at present (1887) is in the hands of Mrs. Mary Fox, relict of Samuel M. Fox, the son of Joseph M., in trust for the heirs, who by articles of December 16, 1884, agreed to let the property remain undivided for five years. None of the property in the vicinity of Foxburg has been sold, and the village of Foxburg belongs entire to the estate. Joseph Fox, the oldest heir, is superintendent of the estate.

Much of the Pickering lands, then split up into a number of hands, was seized for taxes, and sold in warrants by the sheriff of Armstrong county in [p. 96] 1808. Thomas Hoge and Matthew Ringle were the largest buyers. In those days sheriff sales were advertised in the Freeman's Journal of Philadelphia, the Gazette and Daily Advertiser of the same city, and the Farmer's Register of Greensburg.

The price of land, between 1800 and 1815, varied of course with locality and quality of timber. All the sales occurring were for unimproved land. Huidekoper obtained from one to two dollars per acre, on easy terms, for his land between the years 1808 and 1815. The average price, quick payment, at the earliest date, was about sixty cents per acre. In 1806 John Boney sold to George Ross 440 acres in Toby township for $160.00. George Delo sold a 400-acre tract on the Clarion river, in 1808, for $210.00. Elliot and Henderson, of Huntingdon county, sold three 400-acre warrants in 1808 to Angus Sinclair for £255, who assigned it to Hugh Callen for £ 352 (a £ Pennsylvania currency was $2.66 2/3). These tracts include the ground which Callensburg stands on. In 1812 and 1815 land had advanced to one dollar and one dollar and a half per acre. Hon. James Buchanan, President of the United States, was the last in the list of distinguished men who held land in Clarion county -- a list which contains a Peters, a Pickering, an Ashburton, a Brady, and a Buchanan.


Clarion county's first post-office was opened in 1818, at the house of James McGonagle, two miles east of Strattanville. It was shortly afterward removed to a point a mile east of that village, north of the pike, where a prospective town named Roseburgh (and Clarion) after Dr. Rose, had been laid out on the farm of Alexander Guthrie. Josiah Copley, a 'prentice printer of Indiana, carried the mail on horseback for James McGahan, the contractor and his master; his route lay from Indiana via Greensburg, Freeport, Roseburg, Lawrenceburg (Parker), to Butler, and thence back to Indiana by way of Kittanning.

A mail line from Meadville to Kittanning, passing through this county, existed much earlier, but there was no postal service here.    It crossed the Clarion at Gardner's Ferry.

Before the turnpike was completed a route was opened between Bellefonte and Meadville. The first contractor on this line was Randolph, of Meadville, and Clark, of Perry county, took the first stage contract. The second post-office within the limits of the county was at the present Curllsville.

Previous to the opening of post-offices here, people north of the river went to Franklin for their news, and those south to Kittanning, twenty and thirty miles distant. County postmasters then sold postage on time; newspapers were not brought by the mail, but delivered by the carrier. The earliest mediums of intelligence were the Western Eagle, of Kittanning, and the Crawford Weekly Messenger, of Meadville. [p. 97]

The State road, which crosses the Clarion in Millcreek township, was the first highway to enter Clarion county. It was surveyed by the State as a military road from Sunbury to Erie, in 1803 or 1804, and its course is almost identical with that of the Susquehanna-Venango trail. Robert, John, and Henry Allison, and Thomas Guthrie were the contractors for opening the Clarion section of the road. It was finished in 1806. The next public road was one leading from Watterson's Ferry to Gardner's Ferry, near Callensburg, called by early settlers "the old State road." It was originally laid out under State auspices, but was neglected, till, by order of the court of Armstrong county in 1805, viewers were appointed and the road opened.

The earliest local road was one leading from Samuel Frampton's farm, through Curllsville and Callensburg to Parker's mill, now Parker.

The Olean road was laid out in 1819. The viewers were David Lawson and Samuel Matthews, of Armstrong county; John Sloan, jr., John Lucas, of Jefferson; and Joseph Otto, and Brewster Freeman, for McKean county. The chain-carriers for Lawson and Matthews were William Nelson and Hamilton Henry; axman, Samuel Freeman; packman, Daniel Gold. The latter was a good shot, and supplied the party with fresh meat.

As early as 1812 an act was passed empowering the governor to incorporate a company for the erection of a turnpike from the Susquehanna, at the mouth of Anderson Creek, in Clearfield county, through Franklin to Waterford, connecting at Anderson's Creek with a road from Bellefonte and Northumberland. A preliminary survey was made by General Mead, but the work was not begun in earnest till 1818, nor completed till 1822. The Holland Land Company were its chief promoters, and gave the direction of the enterprise to Benjamin Cooper, of Gloucester, N. J. Cooper organized the company, and the stockholders elected commissioners to survey and grade the road. The work was aided by a State appropriation. Joseph Barnett, of Jefferson ; Philip Clover, of Armstrong; and Martin, of Venango county, were commissioners of this district; John Sloan was employed by the commissioners to survey and grade. The work of clearing and building was let in sections of from ten to twenty miles. James Harriet was contractor for the eastern half of the road in Clarion county; Benedict & Anderson, a New York State firm, executed the western part.  They employed forty hands. Trees of small and middle size were notched at the roots, five and six at a time, compassed by a chain, and all pulled out together by mules and windlass. The first bridge over the Clarion, a single span, was constructed in 1821, by Moore, of Northumberland. As soon as five miles of the road were completed, toll-gates were put up to defray expenses.

In 1860 the turnpike between Brookville and Franklin was re-chartered, and purchased by Messrs. J. Black, H. Maguire, G. W. Arnold, and James Campbell, who retired from the partnership; the road was divided into sections, [p. 98] each shareholder taking one. In 1883 the Franklin end, beyond Shippenville, was abandoned.

The first stage line was put upon the pike in 1823, by Bennet Brothers, of Bellefonte and Meadville. They had five relays on the line; two in Clarion county, one between Berlin's and Franklin, the other between that place and Corbett's -- the present Corsica. Mr. Jesse Berlin, now of Clarion, was one of the first drivers over both of these stages, and from the top of a Concord coach cracked his whip at the pine-needles along the road where the flourishing county-seat now lies. Henry Laus, of this county, was another of the earliest Jehus.

About 1828 a stage line was opened between Kittanning and Strattanville.

On February 23, 1829, the first steamboat to ascend above Kittanning, passed up the Allegheny to a little above the mouth of the Clarion, where it swung to, remained all night, and then proceeded on to Franklin and Warren. (The county being well timbered, the current then was of a larger and steadier volume.) It was the Wm. D. Duncan, a side-wheeler; Benjamin Brooks, captain, and James P. Murphy, pilot.

In the following year steamers began to make regular visits, and from thence to the completion of the Allegheny Valley Railroad in 1868, the river traffic, both freight and passenger, between Pittsburgh and Franklin was large. Waterson's Ferry and Emlenton were the regular landing places for Clarion county people; sometimes the boats stopped at Brady's Bend and Miller's Eddy.


By an act of March, 1817, two hundred dollars was appropriated for improving the navigation of Toby's Creek, and one hundred dollars for Redbank. Levi Gibson and Samuel C. Orr were appointed commissioners to superintend the outlay of these grants.

In 1819 we have the first official mention of the "Clarion" River, in an act empowering the governor to appoint three commissioners, "one of whom shall be a practical surveyor, to lay out and mark a road, beginning at the town of Milesburg, in Centre county, thence on the nearest and best route, to Karthouse and Kersey settlements in Clearfield county, and thence to Clarion river, at or near the mouth of Little Toby's Creek in Jefferson county." Previously it had always been called either "Toby's" or "Stump" Creek, which latter it obtained as early as 1809. How was the change made? An interesting query, and one now for the first time extricated from the obscurity and contradictions which have involved it.

In 1817 an act was passed authorizing the survey of a State road from Bedford, through Indiana town to Franklin. Three viewers were appointed for this purpose, and among them, Daniel Stanard, a lawyer and surveyor, of Indiana; David Lawson, who was very familiar with the country, was employed [p.99] as assistant surveyor. They camped on the banks of the river, and while lying in their tent they were struck by the clear sound of the distant ripples. The river's current was then fringed by a wall of close and massive timber, which condensed and reflected the murmur, giving it a silvery mellowness which it has almost lost by the stripping of the banks.  One of the party, Stanard, remarked that the water sounded like a distant clarion. "Why not call it the Clarion River?" said Mr. Lawson. The suggestion was not acted on, as the return, filed in the clerk's office of Armstrong county, indicates it as "Stump Creek." Yet the name "Clarion" gained favor, and was introduced by one of the framers of the Olean road act and the accompanying section, given above -- very possibly Lawson or one of his colleagues -- and thus received the prestige of official saction. [sic] Messrs. Lawson and Stanard deserve the gratitude of the modern denizens on its banks for the refreshing change from the vulgar "Toby" and the unmusical "Stump" to euphonious and graceful "Clarion," a name appropriate, not only on account of its clearness of sound, but also the lucidity of its current, an idea not comprehended by its christeners.

The change, however, was very gradual, and the old inhabitants clung to the former titles with considerable tenacity. It was not till about 1840 that "Stump" and "Toby" disappeared altogether.

It is mentioned as the latter in the report of the Supreme Court in 1833, concerning an action of trespass brought by John Clugh against Robert Criswell and others for tearing down a mill-dam across "Toby's Creek." Clugh recovered damages, and the higher court affirmed the judgment.

It will be noticed that the river has been blessed with an abundance of names; the Indian Tobeco; the French Rivière au Fiel, the pioneer Toby and Stump, and finally Clarion.

The earliest militia in the backwoods were "rude and raw in arms" indeed. Although existing under the law of 1807, requiring regular organization, uniform and arms, there was little of any of those adjuncts. On parade they presented a sorry appearance, rivaling General Von Poffenburgh's battalion (1) in diversity of array. "The militia held their reviews at Abram Standford's, near Curllsville, twice a year, and a gay time it was, with plenty of whisky and gingerbread. The uniforms were not all uniform, neither were the arms all Arms, as some marched with one kind of clothing on and some with another, and while some had guns, others marched with sticks, cornstalks, or anything that looked like guns at a distance. The field-officers were well uniformed, and looked well; such as brigade inspectors, generals, colonels, etc., etc. The free circulation of the above named whisky caused any amount of black eyes and bloody noses, for there were men then, as now, we are sorry to say, who only needed some whisky to stir up all that was evil within them." (2) [p. 100]

The first and for a long time the only uniformed company in the county was Captain Neely's Richland Rifles. George Kribbs succeeded Captain Neely in command; Michael Weaver was first lieutenant, and Daniel Wingard, second. Their uniform was the same as that of 1814, with a few elaborations. In 1830 the company numbered sixty-nine men.

The Washington Rangers, of Callensburg and vicinity, Captain John L. Reed, was one of the earliest volunteer companies in the south.

The mustering places north of the river were at Neely's, now the Mong farm; south, at Stanford's, Curllsville, and Colonel John Sloan's.

The polling places for Redbank and Toby townships were at John Sloan's and Thomas McKibben's respectively. For the southern county Joseph Rankin, of Toby township, and David Lawson were the most prominent politicians, and both were elected to the Legislature several times. North of the river the voting places were at Alexander McDonald's, Richland township; later at Best's mill, and George Kapp's.

The years between 1820 and 1840 saw great advances, both material and intellectual, in the county. It was a period of road-making, of bridge-building, and of the opening of churches and schools ; of the introduction, too, of many conveniences and ameliorations in modes of life. The country became comparatively populous; the most remote and savage parts of it became the habitation of man. In 1826 John Anderson culled a home from the wilds of Millcreek; he was soon followed by the McNaughtons. Highland township, the home of Alexander McNaughton, as early as about 1812, was colonized by the Reeds and others. George Kapp and John Siegworth were the pioneers of the northwestern extremity of the county, and were followed by a colony of Germans, 1825-30. In 1835 John Voglebacher gave his name to the settlement in Knox township, and about the same time the wilderness of Farmington township was peopled by the Alsbachs, the Blacks, the McCloskeys, Wilkinsons and others. These are the latest settled parts of Clarion county.

Between 1826 and 1828 Shippenville, Callensburg, and Strattanville came into existence in the order named; the first villages in the county. For a while Shippenville boasted the only inn.

September 18, 1806, the original township of Toby was subdivided into Redbank and Toby. By the year 1839 Redbank had produced Redbank, Monroe, and Clarion townships; Toby, Madison, Toby, and Perry.

The original northern townships (erected in 1806) were Richland, Elk, Beaver, Paint, Toby's Creek, and Farmington. These were not regularly subdivided as in Armstrong county, but new townships were formed from portions of several. The townships taken from Venango county were Richland, Beaver, Pine Grove (mainly Washington), Paint, Elk, and Farmington.

About 1830, frame-houses, plaster, glass-windows, and carriages were introduced. Clumsy Dearborns were the precursors of the graceful and light vehicles of the present, day, yet they were none too substantial for the roads. [p. 101]

In and before 1830 flour was three dollars a barrel, beef three cents per pound, venison hams one and a half cents per pound, fowls six cents each, butter six to eight cents a pound, eggs six cents a pound.

In 1825 Charles Gaskell, agent of the Holland Land Company, sold unseated land in the southern part of the county, at from one dollar and fifty cents to two dollars per acre, but this was remarkably low.

The price of real estate in the more settled parts of the county doubled between 1820 and 1830. About the time of the organization of the county improved land was worth ten dollars per acre.

In 1829 the construction of the first furnace by Myers and Bear marked the beginning of a new era in the history of Clarion county.

1) Irving's "Knickerbocker."

2) Judge Clover in "Atlas."

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