Mahoning Township,
Lawrence County, Pa History

Mahoning is one of the original townships of Lawrence County. It was erected when the territory was within the limits of Mercer County, some time between the third Monday of November, 1805, and the third Monday of February, 1806. It originally comprised a part of the old Pymatuning township, erected in February, 1804, when the first court was held in Mercer County.

The Mahoning, from which the township derives its name, and numerous smaller streams, afford abundant water facilities, and are noted for their beautiful scenery. The surface of the township is mostly a table-land, only those portions along the streams being broken to any considerable degree. The soil is rich and productive, and the improvements throughout the township are of a high order.

The township has an area of about twenty-six square miles, or 16,640 acres. The old bed of the Cross-cut Canal lies along the foot of the hills, on the north side of the river, and on the south side is built the Ashtabula, Youngstown and Pittsburg railway, operated by the Pennsylvania Company; and on the north side is built the Pittsburg and Eastern Railway, operated by the Baltimore and Ohio Railway, and also the Pittsburg and Lake Erie Railway.

Coal exists throughout the township, and compares favorably in quality with that mined in other parts of the county.

Iron ore also exists in some places, but has never been worked to a great extent.

Limestone has been quarried in a number of localities, and shipped principally to the furnaces at Youngstown, Ohio. It is also manufactured into lime in a few places. Along the south side of the Mahoning, at Hillsville Station and vicinity large quantities of the stone have been quarried.


The first actual white settlers, after the Moravians brought their families into what is now Lawrence County, located in Mahoning Township, as early as 1793. In June of that year a party of about forty-five persons left Allegheny City and started for the valley of the Mahoning, intending to settle on the north side of the river, accompanied by a surveyor named Arthur Gardner. They came down the Ohio to the mouth of the Beaver, and then proceeded up that stream on the east side. Somewhere about the mouth of Conoquenessing Creek stood a block house, garrisoned by a small company of men commanded by a lieutenant. Here they were cautioned against Indians, who were prowling around, but they proceeded on their way and, happily, were not molested. About where the city of New Castle now stands they forded the Shenango and went [p. 249] to the westward. In some manner they passed the State line, and brought up on the spot where Youngstown, Ohio, now stands. At this time many of the party became dissatisfied and returned to Allegheny. The rest, some seventeen in number, came back into Pennsylvania and finally settled farms on both sides of the Mahoning, instead of adhering to the plan of settling on the north side only.

Among those forming this party were Francis McFarland, James, John and George McWilliams, John Small, Henry Robinson, Alexander McCoy, Edward Wright and Arthur Gardner; the latter was the survevor and probably made no claim. They all settled (except Gardner) in what is now Mahoning Township, In 1793 they made "deadening," built cabins, planted apple and peach seeds, and made other arrangements necessary for their future comfort. After completing their improvements they returned to Pittsburg, and in 1794 most of them brought out their families. Francis McFarland afterward removed to what is now Pulaski Township, and located on the farm where his son, J. C. McFarland, now or recently lived.

Michael Book was possibly one of the men who came out in 1793, together with his brother, George. The two settled a 400-acre tract, now partially owned by Michael Book's son, Jacob. They came from Washington county, Pa., where Michael was married shortly before leaving. He brought his wife out with him, and in 1798 or '99 their first child, Margaret, was born.

William Rowland came from Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and located on the farm afterwards owned by his son, J. K. Rowland, about the 1st of April, 1829. He made the first improvements on the place, and also built a saw-mill on Coffee Run. Mr. Rowland carried on the saw-mill business for a number of years. Coffee Run was so named from the fact that the families who settled along it were great coffee-drinkers.

William Morrison was born in Ireland in 1761, and came to America in 1777. He located afterwards in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and in 1796 came with his wife and several children to what is now Mahoning Township, Lawrence County, and settled on a 400-acre tract belonging to Judge Alexander Wright, getting 100 acres for settling. Some years ago the homestead was owned by James Morrison, and Patterson and Alexander Wright. Another son, Hugh, was probably born on the place after his parents settled. Soon after he came Mr. Morrison planted an orchard of apple, peach and pear trees. Mrs. Morrison, whose maiden name was Sherer, had two brothers killed by the Indians while living in Washington County. Her father was taken prisoner by the Indians and taken to Sandusky, Ohio.

Alexander Wright came originally from Ireland. About 1794-6 he came from Washington County, Pennsylvania, where he had been living, with his wife and five children, to what is now Mahoning Township, and purchased several tracts of land, which is equal to any within its limits. Mr. Wright died in 1838, aged ninety-two years. Numbers of the family occupy farms in the neighborhood where their grandfather settled.

Samuel McBride came originally from Ireland and settled in Washington County, Pennsylvania. He possibly visited Lawrence County with the party who came in 1793, but probably not until about 1796. He brought his wife and six children with him, and settled some six hundred acres.

Joseph Ashton came to the township previous to the War of 1812, and settled on the farm lying just above Edenburg, now, or a few years ago, owned by the heirs of James Park. The farm is situated on both sides of the river. Mr. Ashton came from Manchester, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, now a part of Pittsburg.

Andrew Patterson came early to the township and settled near the present site of the town of Hillsville.

About the year 1806 John McComb, then twenty-six years old, from Washington County, Pennsylvania, settled one mile above Edenburg, where he lived for some ten years, afterwards removing to a farm in Union Township, one mile below Edenburg, on which he resided until his death in November, 1866.

Arney Biddle came from near Salem City, N. J., in June, 1806, with his wife and three boys. He settled on the south side of the Mahoning, about a mile northwest of the present town of Edenburg, and afterwards bought land south of Edenburg. He reared a family of twelve children, six of whom were living in 1876. His father was killed at the battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777. Mr. Biddle died August 22, 1825, aged sixty-three years; his wife died October 10, 1869, at the age of ninety-eight.

William Park and family (three sons-John, James and William), from Berkley County, Virginia, settled in the fall of 1800 at "Parkstown," in what is now Union Township. The Parks afterwards became prominent men in the neighborhood of Edenburg.

Joseph Brown came with the Parks and settled with them at Parkstown, but afterwards removed to Mahoning Township, and rented the old Ashton farm about 1816-17. He later removed to the Martin farm, on the north side of the river, where he lived four or five years, and again removed to the farm in Pulaski Township, now owned by Messrs. Miller and Peyton. He finally came back to Mahoning Township.

In 1823, William Brown, who had learned the mason's trade with Joshua Chenowith, at Parkstown, went to Cumberland County and commenced business for himself. In 1832 he was married in Cumberland County to Miss Latsa Davidson, daughter of George Davidson, of Mount Rock Spring, who was elder of the Presbyterian Church at Carlisle for some thirty years. After Mr. Brown was married he came back to Lawrence County and resided here until his death. We have not the date of that event, but he was living in 1876. His farm originally contained 375 acres.

Among the other early settlers of Mahoning Township were the following: William McFate and George Kelso came from Washington County, Pennsylvania about 1801-2. Thomas Matthews settled about 1800. The Whitings-John, Adam and the Doctor, came as early as 1800, and possibly earlier.

John Onstott and Alexander Thompson also settled early. These persons was on the north side of Mahoning River principally, and most of them have descendants yet living in the township.


The first school in the township was kept near Quakertown, on the north side of the Mahoning.

Subsequent to this, about 1806-7, a school-house was built near the present site of the Mahoning United Presbyterian Church. The first teacher was a man named Ramsey. Probably other school-houses were built in the township, and schools were taught at an early day, also, where the villages of Edenburg, Hillsville and Quakertown now stand.

The number of schools in the township, in 1908, was fourteen, with an enrollment of 445 pupils. Fourteen teachers are employed, to whom is paid the sum of $2,049.80 annually. The average number of months taught is seven.

The school-buildings of the township are all substantial, warm and commodious. The schools themselves are well conducted, and reflect credit on the enterprise of the citizens and managers. The bulk of the attendance is, of course, at Edenburg and Hillsville.

The Cross-cut Canal was finished in the summer of 1838. The canal was abandoned between Youngstown and the mouth of the Mahoning in 1872. The portion above Youngstown had been abandoned some time before. The old bridges are fallen down or taken away. The power on the canal was utilized for manufacturing purposes, but after it was abandoned the mills became useless and were also abandoned or removed.

A large frame grist-mill was built on the canal, three-fourths of a mile above Edenburg, in 1843, by James and John Raney, but was not operated after the canal was abandoned.

John Angel built a grist-mill about 1825, on a small run which empties into the Mahoning, one-and-a-half miles above Edenburg. He also had a distillery a short distance above, on the same side of the river. William Walters afterwards owned the mill. A grist-mill was built at a very early day by some of the McWilliams family, near the mouth of Coffee Run. After 1837 it was abandoned.


The first settler on the land where Edenburg now stands was probably Jacob Cremer. He sold the land to James Park. Crawford White laid out the town in August, 1824, and sold the lots at auction.

There has been some dispute over the name of the town, and we give both stories as to its origin as they are told. One is that William McFate, who bought the first lot in the place, had the privilege, for so doing, of naming the town, and called it "Edinburg," after his native city in Scotland. The other is that it was named "Edenburg" by Mr. White, when he laid it out, owing to its fancied resemblance to the "Garden of Eden," with its rich soil and beautiful location. The latter is by far the most probable reason, and was no doubt the origin of the name, as the man who laid it out would be most apt to give it a name. Therefore, we write it "Edenburg," although the other form is in frequent use to this day.

James Park lived in a log house which stood just back of the spot occupied by the brick house owned some years ago by Hiram Park. In 1825 his brother, John Park, built a brick house on the spot later occupied by that of Hiram Park. This was afterwards torn away and the present residence erected.

John Park went to Illinois, resided for some time in Chicago, and finally died at Joliet, Ills., near which city he was living on a farm.

In 1849 Mr. Park's son-in-law, James Raney, purchased the grist-mill erected by him on the Mahoning about 1831. He built a dam, also a saw-mill. The grist-mill contained three run of stone. Mr. Raney built a warehouse on the canal, and also erected two dwellings. In 1852 he sold the whole property to Samuel and Matthew Park, and it afterwards passed through various hands and for many years did a large custom business.

Thomas Covert opened the first store in the place. It stood near the corner of the "Diamond," and was a frame building, part of it being occupied by him as a dwelling. He afterwards built a fine brick residence, with a store in one part, and for a time owned a foundry in the village. This building and the old one were burned down and the foundry long ago abandoned.

John Park started the first shoe-shop, working in the brick house which he built in 1825. He afterwards moved several times, and finally erected a large building, 80x30 feet, on the main street, in which he carried on quite an extensive business. John Welch was the first blacksmith.

G. McMullen probably kept the first hotel. Like most of the early hotels, its principal source of profit was from its bar. James Park started the first broom-factory. The business has since been carried on by John D. Raney, William Hoover and others. Mr. Hoover's father John Hoover came from Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in 1817, and located a little southwest of what is now Edenburg. He lived there until 1868, when he removed to Sandusky County, Ohio, where he afterwards died.

The first school in Edenburg was taught by John Davis, in the Methodist Episcopal Church, about 1830. Before that the nearest schools were at Mount Jackson, "Hill Town," and other places, several miles away.

A post-office was established here about 1840. The first postmaster was Samuel Richards. Dr. Cotton held it next, and Arney Biddle third. Mr. Biddle had opened a general store in the village, and when he was appointed (April 2, 1844) he kept the post-office in his store.

A few oil wells were formerly worked along the river on both sides, but never proved very profitable.


of Edenburg was organized about 1822, and their first church, a brick edifice, built in 1826. This building was afterwards abandoned and torn down, and the present neat edifice erected. During the past year some $1,500 have been expended in repairs and the church now is one of the finest in the neighborhood. The first Methodist class was composed of Henry Zuver and Peggy, his wife, and his daughters, Nancy, Katy and Betsey. Phillip Lamb and Hannah, his wife, William and John Lamb, his sons, and Maria and Susan, his daughters; Jane Biddle (wife of Arney Biddle), John Hoover and Polly, his wife, and "Mother" Warner.

One of the first preachers was Bilious O. Plympton, who traveled the circuit and preached only four or five times a year in a place. A man named Luccock also preached to them early, and was a prominent man among the Methodists.

A Sabbath-school was organized about 1825, and has been kept up most of the time since.

The following have held the pastorate of this church since 1877: Nathan Morris, 1877-1878; D. W. Wampler, 1878-1880; J. K. Mendenhall, 1880-1882; J. L. Mechlin, 1882-1885; R. A. Buzza, 1885-1890; S. E. Winger, 1890-1892; Washington Hollister, 1892-1893; W. A. Merriam, who came in 1893 and died during the same year; S. L. Mills, who finished the year 1893; H. H. Bair, 1894-1896; M. B. Riley, 1896-1900; A. C. Locke 1900-1905, and R. W. Skinner the present pastor. The church membership is now about 154, and the Sabbath-school about 150. The official members are Z. T. Robinson, William Landis, C. S. McCullough, S. C. Wagoner, Holland Shaffer, Wayne Lamm, F. S. Webb, Charles Robinson, Joseph Baskline, B. W. Cover, S. O. Cover, D. M. Hoffmaster and Myron Simon.

"In the vicinity have been picked up gun-flints, oxydized bullets, flattened and battered; old gun-locks and gun-barrels, bayonets, etc., which would seem to indicate that severe fighting occurred here at some period. Many bones have also been found. Near the town was a burial ground, containing among other relics an interesting mound, originally some fifty feet in circumference, and about six feet high. This mound was examined some years since and found to contain several layers of human skeletons. Flag-stones were placed in regular order around the bodies, and the whole covered with earth. Near by were quite a large number of bodies buried separately. Large numbers of flint chips and arrow-heads have been picked up in the vicinity. The location of the village was on the south side of the Mahoning, the principal part being below the present village of Edenburg and close to the river."

Christian Frederick Post, the Moravian missionary, who visited this region in 1758, in advance of Forbes' army, says the town contained at that time ninety houses and 200 able warriors. Post persuaded the principal chief, Pak-an-ke, or King Beaver, to visit the "Forks," now Pittsburg, where a great conference was held on the ground where Allegheny City now stands. Twelve years later, in 1770, at the request of Pak-an-ke, the Moravians removed from their settlement at Lannunak-hannuk, on the Allegheny River, and settled on the Big Beaver, five miles below New Castle, near the present site of Moravia Station. Further reference to their labors may be found in the chapter on Religious Development.


Some authorities have located this village at the mouth of the Mahoning, on the Big Beaver, and others still farther down, between that and Moravia. But the evidence points strongly to the site of Edenburg, as the location of this once famous Indian town. It is at least certain there was a village where Edenburg stands, which was divided into two parts, one a short distance farther up the river than the other, and in the memory of the "oldest inhabitants," the Indians who lived here were called "Kush-kush-kians." Local residents can still remember when the old war-post stood near the village of Edenburg, or in the edge of it, with the marks of the tomahawks still upon it, looking almost as fresh as when the Indians first circled around it and performed their grotesque war-dances.

The Indians did not all leave their beautiful home until some time after the country was settled by the whites, and the wonder is not great, because Kush-kush-kee, with its beautiful valley and silvery stream, together with the "hills piled on hills," and the grand old forest, had long been their abiding place.


A man named Donot was probably the first settler on the ground where Hillsville now stands. He sold the land to Peter or Abraham Hoover, and finally it became the property of John Hill, who laid out the town, October 15, 1824, and called it Hillsburgh, which name has since been changed by use or otherwise to Hillsville. It is generally called "Hill Town." Mr. Hill was a tailor and kept the first tailor shop in the place.

The first house built on the new town plat was put up by one McGowan. It was a frame building and stood at the crossroads in the southern part of the town. McGowan kept a store in his house, it being the first one in town. A man named Moss kept the second one in the same house.

Some time before the town was laid out, a log schoolhouse was built half a mile south. The first blacksmith shop in the place was started by Christopher Rummel. The first wagon shop was opened by George Sell, about 1830-32. David Stevens was the first shoemaker.

A post-office was established soon after the town was laid out, and David Stevens was probably the first postmaster. After him came James Caldwell, David McBride, David McCreary, William Duff, William Mitchell, Chauncey Meeker, Jacob Burke and others. William Gilmore is at the present time postmaster and leading general merchant.

The Methodist Episcopal Society organized originally about 1820, and a church was built of logs about the time the town was laid out (1824). It stood on a lot given by John Zuver. The first preacher was probably Rev. Bilious O. Plympton, who preached also at Edenburg. About 1855, meetings under the old organization were suspended. May 19, 1867, a new class was organized by Rev. J. F. Hill, then in charge of the Mount Jackson circuit. A frame church was built in 1869.

Hillsville is situated in the midst of a comparatively level country, covered with fine improvements, and populated by a wealthy, intelligent and progressive class of people. Around it are extensive quarries of limestone, which is and has been extensively used in smelting. There are three limestone companies in operation at Hillsville, namely: Gilmore & Johnson; Union Limestone Company, and the Lake Erie Limestone Company. George W. Van Fleet, of New Bedford, is secretary of the two last mentioned. Clarence M. [p. 254] Duff is local superintendent of the Union Limestone Company.

Hillsville has always been noted for the enterprise of its citizens and is equal in that respect to any town of its size in the country. The timber around has been nearly all cut away, however, and the want of it will at no distant day be felt.

The Zoar Baptist Church of Hillsville, in Mahoning Township, was organized January 17, 1842, with thirteen members, as follows: John Faddis, Isaac Faddis, Sarah Faddis, Hannah Faddis, William Henderson, Sarah Henderson, Isabel Irwin, Rachel S. Kincaid, William Williams, Benjamin Williams, Mary Williams, Edward Wright, Abagail Wright.

Its first pastor was Rev. Rees Davis, who commenced his labors in 1842 and served until 1851, being succeeded by Rev. D. C. Clouse. From its organization, in 1842, the congregation worshiped for some three years in various places-in private houses, at one time in a barn, at another in a wagon shop, in a schoolhouse, and in an old church near Hillsville, as opportunity afforded or convenience dictated. In 1845 the society erected a church edifice at a cost of about two thousand dollars. The church has had an interesting history under its various pastors and has done its full share in the development of the county.

The Harbor United Presbyterian Church was organized either in 1851 or 1852, probably 1852, in the fall, by Rev. R. A. Browne, D. D. The original congregation had in the neighborhood of forty members. A frame building was erected in 1854, on ground obtained from John McFate, who gave a lease for twenty-five years. His heirs renewed the lease in 1876, to last as long as the land shall be used for church purposes. A part of the lot is occupied by the graveyard. The first regular pastor was Rev. William G. Reed, who was installed about 1853, previous to the erection of the church, and preached in the schoolhouse until the church was built. His pastorate continued for several years, and, after he left the church was supplied by A. M. Black, of New Wilmington, and others. Rev. T. W. Winter was installed as second pastor about 1860, and remained till near the close of the war. Subsequently the church was supplied by various pastors.

The Christian Church was organized by Rev. Abraham Sanders some time between 1828 and 1832. Their first meetings were held in John Park's house at Edenburg. A frame church on the hill north of Edenburg was built in 1850-51, principally through the efforts of John D. Raney and David Stanley. After Rev. Mr. Sanders left, a minister named John Henry came from Youngstown, Ohio, and preached; also another one named Flick. Among the early pastors were Revs. Thomas Munnell, Finney, Applegate, Perky and others. The original congregation was made up of the Stanleys, Raneys, Parks, Baldwins, Carpenters, and others, and numbered from thirty to forty people altogether.


This congregation, with their church, located about two miles northeast of Lowell, Ohio, and in Mahoning Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, was organized about 1799-certainly not later than, 1800. The settlements out of which it sprung were made in the year 1893, and soon after. They were composed of both branches (Associate and Associate Reformed) of the Bible Psalmody Presbyterians. For a number of years prior to the organization of the congregation, prayer meetings were held from house to house throughout the community. The first sermon preached in the bounds of the congregation by an Associate minister was delivered on the old Captain Thompson farm.

On the day fixed for the Presbyterian family to meet and organize and call a pastor, the Associates, mustering their [p. 255] forces from a greater distance than did their Associate Reformed brethren, and therefore outnumbering them, it was organized an Associate congregation, and an Associate minister was called. However, in or about the year 1808, the Associate members removed their place of worship to the present site of Deer Creek United Presbyterian Church, near New Bedford, Pa., when the Associate Reformed members took possession of Mahoning Church, and held it until the union of the two branches in 1858, since which time it has stood in the ranks of the United Presbyterians.

Rev. W. T. McConnell served as pastor of Mahoning United Presbyterian Church from 1873 to 1883; Rev. A. P. Hutchinson, 1885 to 1892; Rev. J. W. Birnley, 1893 to 1899, and Rev. M. B. Patterson from 1901 to the present time. The present membership of the church is ninety-seven; of the Sabbath-school, 102; Young People's Christian Union, thirty-two; Ladies' Missionary Society, fourteen, and Junior Missionary Society, about twenty. The church elders are: J. B. Moore, W. H. McCall and T. J. Carlisle. James J. Lowry, who died a short time ago, was an elder in the church for about forty years.


The first settler on the ground where Quakertown now stands was probably Septimus Cadwallader, who came from near Brownsville, Pa., somewhere in the neighborhood of 1800, possibly not until 1804. He settled on a 400-acre tract, and built a frame house very near where the present stone house stands on the old place, at the foot of the hill, on the bank of the river. Mr. Cadwallader had worked at the milling business at his old home, and when he arrived in Mahoning Township he built a grist-mill on the Mahoning, a short distance north of his house. The mill was a frame structure, and was afterward moved away from the river and set on the stream which he called "Falling Spring" run, near the falls now known as Quakertown Falls. After moving the mill he put in a carding machine, which he operated for some time. Mr. Cadwallader, Benjamin Sharpless and Talbot Townsend, all three of whom settled here, were Quakers, and from this circumstance the place became known as Quakertown. Mr. Sharpless came in 1808, and Mr. Townsend probably shortly before.

John Shearer was also one of the early comers, and had a fulling-mill on the brow of the hill, on the run, and afterwards moved it to another location a little southeast. Mr. Cadwallader had a linseed-oil mill, and some other parties built a grist-mill on the run at the foot of the hill, and Mr. Cadwallader probably built a saw-mill also. An old grist-mill is now standing at the top of the hill, probably built by Cadwallader and his son-in-law, Sharpless. It is now abandoned and falling to pieces, as are all the others. The wheel in this is twenty-eight feet in diameter. A mile up the stream one or two other grist-mills and saw-mills were built.

Mr. Cadwallader's son, Septimus, Jr., built a tannery early, and about 1830 another one was started by Mifflin Cadwallader, who, after running it a year or two, took in George W. Jackson, of Pittsburg, as a partner. These are the only tanneries ever located in the place. Nothing is now left of any of the mills or tanneries, except, in a few instances, old decaying frames.

A bridge was built across the Mahoning, nearly opposite the Cadwallader stone-house, about 1832, but it had too many piers, and the ice gorged and carried it away the next winter.


In the War of 1812 the following residents of Mahoning Township served: Stewart, Alexander Wright, out three months at Erie; John, and probably David and Nathaniel McBride; John was taken sick on the way to Erie, and was obliged [p. 256] to return; Joseph Ashton served as major. Joseph Brown was Adjutant of Militia before the war, and, during it, went to Erie, as did also Joseph Cadwallader.

A volunteer rifle company was organized at Edenburg, about 1838-9. Alexander Miller, Thomas Covert and John D. Raney served at different times as captains of the company, which had at one time in the neighborhood of one hundred members. The uniform was white pants, red sash, red and white plume. They were armed with common rifles.

Another rifle company was organized at Hillsville, and drilled under the militia law of the State for several years; was organized about 1835 to 1840.

During the rebellion Mahoning Township furnished her share of troops for the grand army which marched to the "sunny South," and left so many of its members in death's embrace, on gory fields where they fought and fell, that the Union they loved might remain unbroken.

Source:   History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1908, p. 248-256

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