Early Settlers of Hermitage
A SHORT HISTORY OF HERMITAGE
submitted by Mairy Jayn Woge
Hickory Township was formed 33 years after the Pennsylvania General Assembly organized Mercer County. Until 1833, the land that would become Hickory was split between Pymatuning and Shenango Townships. The dividing line was State Street. Petitions signed by residents of the Shenango Valley led to the founding of Hickory. The township was named after Andrew Jackson, President of the United States from 1829 through part of 1837. Jackson's nickname was "Old Hickory".
The bulk of the land in the township was divided into 200 to 550 acre parcels set aside by the Commonwealth for Veterans who fought in the Pennsylvania line.
Early Hickory Township contained the sites of Sharon, Wheatland, Sharpsville and Farrell which was a farming community. Pioneer settlers included Thomas Canon, William Campbell, Col. Henry Hoagland, Andrew Robb and the Moore family.
Two schools opened in 1800. One was three fourths of a mile east of what is currently downtown Sharon. The other was on the Hoagland farm west of the Shenango River.
Beginning in the mid 1830s, coal mines were opening in Hickory. The initial mines were dug into hillsides and called drift mines. Shaft mining began in the 1850s by Enoch Filer, who had practiced the method in England his place of birth. The mines produced Sharon Block Coal that contained no sulphur and burned without leaving ashes, the perfect fuel for melting iron ore. The coal brought industries to Hickory and was reponsible for prosperous mine villages, New Virginia, Neshannock and Bethel, on the east end of the township. Narrow gauge railroads that carried coal from the mines tothe Beaver and Lake Erie Canal penetrated all sections of Hickory. By the 1870s major railways were transporting coal from Hickory to the east and Midwest.
The first church in Hickory was Moorefield Presbyterian, a log building in the center of a cemetery that was open for worship in 1801. A pioneer burial ground was west of it. The church was south of Hickory Corners.
The iron industry and later Frank H. Buhl's steel mills, moved men out of the fields into production lines. Residential growth in Hickory increased after World War II. Commercial and industrial development followed.
In 1975 residents voted to change the name from Hickory to Hermitage and on January 2, 1976, Hermitage Township was officially created. Annexations by Sharon and Farrell resulted in Hermitage shedding its township status and becoming a third class city with permanent boundaries in 1984.