North Beaver Township,
Lawrence County, Pa History

This is the largest subdivision of Lawrence County, and was one of its original townships. In area it is about 26,800 acres. The surface is varied, being in places much broken by hills and ravines, and in others approaching nearer to a level. The latter is the case in the southern and western portions. For agricultural purposes the township is not excelled in Lawrence County. The finest varieties of fruit are also grown, and the crop is nearly always a certainty. Numerous streams abound, affording the necessary water facilities, and on some of them there is excellent power. The principal streams are the Mahoning and Beaver Rivers and Hickory Creek.

The northeast corner of the township is crossed by the old Lawrence Railway, now the Ashtabula, Youngstown and Pittsburg division of the Pennsylvania Railway. The Beaver Valley division of the Erie and Pittsburg Railway crosses the Mahoning near its mouth, and follows the valley of the Beaver River the remaining distance across the township. The only station on this road in North Beaver is Moravia, where a small village has sprung up since the road was built. The most important village in the township is Mount Jackson, and, aside from these two, the inhabitants are almost exclusively engaged in agricultural pursuits.


Asa Adams came from Washington County, Pennsylvania, some time previous to the War of 1812, and settled a mile from the State line, in the western part of the township.

Major Edward Wright came from Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in the spring of 1797, and settled on the farm now or was lately owned by his grandson, William Williams. He was originally from New Jersey, and while living there, before he was married, he had bought the 200-acre tract on which he afterward settled, for a horse, bridle and saddle, and was soundly berated by his mother for so doing, The investment, however, proved to be a good one, and the farm is now among the best in western Pennsylvania. Major Wright built the fourth house that was erected within the limits of North Beaver Township. It was 16 by 18 feet in dimensions, was built of round logs, and was located near a spring just west of Mr. Williams' residence. It had a common bed-spread or quilt hung up for a door, and a hole left in one comer of the roof through which the smoke could pass. He died on this farm May 7, 1849, at the age of eighty years.

Major Wright brought to the township the first apple trees that were set out within it. He hauled forty-five of them from Washington County in 1799, on a "slide car, made of poles. He set out forty of the trees on his own place, gave two of them to a neighbor (Jonathan Leslie, afterwards a Presbyterian minister), two miles west, and three to Bryce McGeehan, living near what is now Newburg, in Little Beaver Township. Mr. Wright's only child, Sarah, was married to John Williams, in September, 1805, a few months before she was fifteen years old. Mr. Williams came from near the Warm Springs, in Virginia, and settled on a farm which his father, Thomas Williams had bought for him some time before, and which lay a mile west of the Wright place. After his marriage he lived for some time with his father-in-law, Major Wright. He moved to his own farm in the spring of 1812. His brother, Thomas, settled, in 1802, on a farm northeast of Wright's and lying partly in Mahoning Township. Thomas Williams, Sr., never settled in the county. The farms all along the old county line, now the boundary between North Beaver and Mahoning Townships, lie partly on each side of the line.

Thomas Cloud settled on the farm later owned by Matthew Davidson, and built one of the first four houses in the township.

Walter Clarke came to the farm afterwards owned by Joseph and Sarah McCollum, on the 20th day of October, 1802. He came from near what is now Lewisburg, Snyder County, Pennsylvania, with two unmarried daughters, and others of his children and grandchildren, and his son-in-law. He bought 450 acres of land and divided it among them. His son, John, was married, and had two children; and one daughter was also married and had two children. Her husband's name was Benjamin Wells. There were also two orphan grandchildren, and thus the party was quite large. John Clarke's son, Samuel D. Clarke, lived on a part of the old farm, west of Mount Jackson. The portion later owned by the McCollum estate became the property of Walter Clarke's granddaughter, Eunice Shearer, who was married to William Adair. Ephraim Phillips owned it next, and Mr. McCollum's wife was one of Mr. Phillips' daughters, and the place became her share of the property. It is familiarly known as the "Old Phillips farm."

In 1803 John Clarke left his father's house and settled for himself on the portion of the 450 acres now or recently owned by his son, Samuel D. Clarke.

One of Walter Clarke's daughters married John Nesbit, who was the first settler on the land now occupied by the village of Mount Jackson, and who laid out the town.

William Woods settled just west of Mount Jackson in 1801. He came from Ireland with his brother in 1798, and first located in Westmoreland County. He was married in 1801, after he came to North Beaver, to Miss Elizabeth Davidson, who was living with her relatives where the borough of Wampum now stands. Mr. Woods' son, William, born in 1808, lived near Westfield Presbyterian Church, southwest of Mount Jackson. He held the rank of major in the "cornstalk" militia of the township. William Woods, Sr., built a carding mill on his place on Hickory Creek, (at that time called Sugar Creek, owing to the great number of "sugar trees" which grew along it), in 1813; a fulling mill in 1817, and a distillery in 1821. The carding machine and fulling mill were run until about 1840.

James Kiddoo was an early settler east of Mount Jackson. He owned a distillery on Hickory Creek, and also had a small mill for grinding the grain he used.

William McCord came originally from Ireland, and, after the Revolution, settled in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. About 1805-6 he came to what is now North Beaver Township, and settled on a 250-acre tract of "donation land."

Francis Nesbit came, with his family, in 1802, and settled on Hickory Creek, south of Mount Jackson. The family consisted of his wife, five sons, and two daughters. The sons were John, Francis, William, James and Allen; and the daughters, Elizabeth and Anna. They came from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, although the Nesbits were originally from Scotland.

William Espy who married Elizabeth Nesbit, settled in 1801. His son, Thomas Espy, afterward went to North Carolina, and died there. A daughter of his afterward married Governor Vance, of that State. Wiliam Espy had made arrangements to build a mill, and Mr. Nesbit, who had also been out in 1801, brought out the mill gearing with him in 1802, and he and Espy built the mill. They located on Donation tract, number 1786, supposed to contain 400 acres, but a survey showed that it contained over 500. Mr. Nesbit sold his interest in the mill to Espy, and took all but 100 acres of the land. Mr. Nesbit died in September, 1802, and was the first person ever buried in the cemetery at Westfield Presbyterian Church. A man named Charles Clarke was the second person buried in it. He was killed while helping John Hunter raise a "still-house" in 1805 near the church. Francis Nesbit divided his land up among his sons before he died. His wife died in 1823. Allen Nesbit, the youngest, born in 1796, was given the old homestead. He finally became a physician of the botanic or Thompsonian school, and got his medical education principally from his sister's library. She married a Presbyterian preacher, who afterward died. Dr. Nesbit, in later life, lived with his grandchildren, on the old place. John Nesbit, the eldest son of Francis, died in 1869, and left his share of the place to his son, James, who afterward sold it and went to Missouri.

Francis Nesbit, Jr., died on the farm, in 1816. William Nesbit lived on his place until his death, which occurred in 1847 During his life he was a prominent man. He was a Presbyterian elder, a justice of the peace for a long time, and afterward one of the associate judges of Beaver County. After William Espy became sole proprietor of the grist mill mentioned, he traded it for a farm, about 1806, to a man named Wylie, who owned it about four years, and traded it to a man named James Boyes. Boves kept it some eight years, and sold it finally to Elder John Edgar, from Westmoreland County, who had previously started a distillery near Westfield Church. Edgar also put a still in operation, in connection with the mill, and was at one time collector of the excise tax. He sent a large lot of whisky to Erie, Pa., for sale, and finally shipped it on a vessel to Canada. The vessel was lost, and Edgar was broken up in consequence, and sold out by the sheriff-the whole property (100 acres of land, the mill, distillery and all.) being purchased by James Wallace for $800.

The Nesbit family, as before stated, came originally from Scotland. They were followers of John Knox, and, like other dissenters, suffered persecution from the English Church. Portions of the old families went to Belfast, Ireland. John Nesbit, the father of Francis, was born in Roxburghshire, in 1702, and came to Philadelphia, previous to the American Revolution, finally settling in Cumberland County.

Francis Nesbit had four brothers-John, James, Allen and William-and all served more or less during the Revolutionary War, in the American army.

"At the time when the Nesbits came here, there were but two houses (log ones) in Darlington, one of them a tavern partly chinked and daubed. There was then but one house betwee n Darlington and Alount Jackson, and not a dozen families in the bounds of what is now North Beaver, and a part of them were I squatters,' who soon moved away. But during the next two or three years twenty or thirty families came in, principally from Cumberland County.

"The load of 'moving' which the Nesbits brought with them consisted principally of the iron and other fixings for a grist and sawmill, a barrel of salt, and one of flour, two sets of china cups and saucers, two sets of pewter plates, two pewter dishes and a pewter mush-basin, a cedar churn and a tub. In affectionate memory of the olden time, they brought with them a singularly-built arm chair, that had been brought from Scotland about seventy years before. They soon began to build mills having to give $18 per barrel for flour, at Beaver Falls, twenty cents for meat, and $1.25 per gallon for the whisky, that seems to have been one of the things indispensable at that day, and that was furnished to the hands with the regularity of the bread and meat.

"A bill of fare for breakfast then embraced bread, butter and coffee, a small allowance of pork and of preserved wild plums or crab apples, pone or Johnny cake, milk, butter, and perhaps a wild turkey, or leg of venison, or chunk of bear's meat, or a roasted raccoon, for dinner; and corn meal mush, out of that pewter basin, with butter and milk, for supper.

"Then there were no meeting houses, no preaching, and no graveyard. Francis Nesbit died six or seven months after he came to the county, and was buried in the then woods, where the Westfield graveyard now is. Perhaps this was the first funeral in the township. Near that spot a small log meeting house was soon built, and in it there was occasional preaching.

"The appearance of the country was truly beautiful. The rich, loamy appearance of the soil, the density of the forests and thickets, the wonderful multiplicity, variety and gorgeousness of the blossoms and flowers, the exhilarating perfume they sent forth, the continual singing of the birds, the chattering of the many squirrels, the beautiful plumage of the vast flocks of turkeys, and the nimble skipping of the deer and fox, produced a sublimity and a grandeur far beyond anything we have now in the cleared fields and meadows into which these forests have been transformed.

"Ere long came the vast profusion of wild fruits. Leading the van came the service-berry, growing luxuriantly on bottoms, flats and hills, and on the shelving banks small bushes bending to the ground with their loads of fruit. Men, birds and animals were fully supplied, and a great many left. Then the strawberry, plum, huckleberry, haw, cherry and grape, each added its share to the richness that nature afforded, together with the vast amounts of delicious nuts. The woods abounded in native (crab) apple, said by the Economites to be the best fruit for wine on this continent."

There was a wonderful variety of medicinal herbs, many of whose virtues in curing disease were not well known, neither are they now appreciated as they ought to be. Then, in thick and broad patches, with its beautiful flower of every conceivable color, and moccasin shape, stood the admirable Cypripedium Pubescens of Linnaeus, known to the people then by the name of "ladies' slipper," and by the Indians "moccasin flower." There, too, was the Verticillati (golden seal), with Virginia snake-root, ginseng, and many others of greater or less medicinal value.

For a few years the settlers in the northern part of Beaver County were principally from Eastern Pennsylvania, and some from Allegheny and Washington Counties mostly of Scotch and Irish extraction.

Soon, however, people came in from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and from different countries of Europe, most of whom were respectable, while some were ignorant and degraded, and not calculated to improve society.

In 1802 there were twenty-four families living in the township, and the first township election was held that year.

Among those who came to North Beaver in 1801 were William Barnet, Robert Lusk, William Espy, William Mercy, Nicholas Bryant, Leonard Dobbins, William Woods, Joseph Pollock, John Dunnon, James Applegate, Samuel Semple, John Clelland, James McKinley, Joseph Jackson and William Ritchie. Of these, the last five families were Finns, and were all related to each other. They formed a kind of clan, and came out together. Jackson was a stone mason, and built chimneys, and Semple carried a case of lancets and did bleeding for the settlers whenever his services were called for.

All the tragical deaths which have occurred in the township were purely acccidental, and not a murder has ever been committed within its limits-the whites coming after the Indians were mostly gone.

A distillery was built by Lawrence Dobbins in 1801, in the northeast corner of the township. As early as 1817 there were upward of a dozen distilleries in the township. Nothing in that business has been done for more than eighty years, and for nearly that length of time there has been no place for selling liquor in the limits of the township.

In 1876 there was a population of 2,500, with 750 church members and four congregations and thirteen schools.

William Carson came from Virginia in the fall of 1799, and stayed that winter in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. In the spring of 1800 he brought his family, consisting of his wife and ten children, to the farm in North Beaver Township, now owned by John Alexander. He had hired a hand in Pittsburg to help him, and they built a cabin and made other improvements. The youngest child, James, was born after they came out, in 1802.

James Bowles came in 1796, and settled on the Beaver River, on what was afterward known as the Zeigler farm. He left the country previous to the War of 1812.

Joseph Pollock came to the township in 1800, and located on one of two farms near where Westfield Presbyterian Church now stands. He afterwards moved across the Beaver River into what is now Taylor Township. When he removed from North Beaver, he cut his own road through the woods, and the track he made was afterwards called "Pollock's road."

John Dunnon settled the tract next south of the old Pollock (Wood's) place, in 1801.

John Coleman settled on a tract south of Mount Jackson, in 1801 or 1802. His land laid next north of a tract settled by John Patterson. Mr. Coleman lived to be about 100 years old, and was buried "with the honors of war" in the United Presbyterian graveyard at Mount Jackson. He had been in one or two skirmishes in the Revolutionary War, and had taken the notion that he must be buried with the honors of war, and accordingly his whim was gratified.

But two men settled in North Beaver Township on land they had served for in the Revolution. They were Jacob Justice and Jeremiah Bannon, the latter settled on a place in the northeast part of the township.

The Justice family was originally from Wurtemburg, Germany, from which country John Justice came to America, at some period prior to the American Revolution, and settled probably in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Jacob Justice was one of six brothers, sons of John Justice. He was born in Franklin County, in 1757. He enlisted in the Sixth Pennsylvania Battalion of the Continental Line on January 20, 1776 (he being then nineteen years of age), and served until the close of the war with England. After the independence of the Colonies was established, he returned to his home in Franklin County and remained there until 1797, when he removed West, with the intention of settling in what is now Lawrence County; but on account of Indian troubles he stopped in Washington County for about two years, and in 1799 carried out his original design, and settled in the southeastern part of North Beaver Township, on land which he drew for his services as a Revolutionary soldier. His family consisted of his wife and seven children, six sons and one daughter-James, John, Joseph, George, Matthew, Scott and Eliza.

James Justice married Esther Hopper, a daughter of Robert Hopper, who came to North Beaver Township from Ireland in 1797. Mr. Justice died in 1815, leaving a wife and three daughters, Margaret, Elizabeth and Esther. His wife, although but twenty-eight years old at the time of his death, remained true to his memory until her demise in 1870, having been a widow fifty-five years.

In 1813 Joseph Justice went to the new town of New Castle, and became prominently identified with the early history of that place.

George Justice married a Miss Douglass, and, with his wife, went West, where he lived to a ripe old age. Scott Justice, the youngest son, met his death by being kicked by a horse.

Jacob Justice lived on his farm in North Beaver Township until his death, which occurred in April, 1829, he being seventy-two years old. He was buried in the graveyard of the Westfield Presbyterian Church.

Nicholas Bryant, who came to the township in 1801, settled on a farm in the northwestern part now owned by the heirs of Alexander Steele. Mr. Bryant's son, Stephen, is said to have been the first white child ever born in North Beaver Township.

Robert, James and Ebenezer McGowan (sometimes spelled McGoun) came about 1806-08, and Robert and James bought a 200-acre tract of land northeast of the present site of Mount Jackson. Ebenezer located on a farm still farther north, lying partly in what is now Mahoning Township, at that time in Mercer County.

Nathaniel White came from Washington County, Pennsylvania, about 1804-07, and settled on the farm now owned by his grandson, James White, who lives on the old homestead. Mr. White had nine children in his family altogether, of whom two are yet living-Samuel and Elizabeth, the latter in Ohio. He originally settled 200 acres.

Richard Shearer settled early in the northwestern part of the township. The Whittenbergers also came early and located in the western part. Hugh McKibben came about 1805-06, and purchased several hundred acres of land in the southwestern part of the township. He was quite an old man when he settled, and divided his farm up among his children. James Davidson was also among the early settlers. He located on a farm which had been frequented so much by wild pigeons that it had been styled "pigeon roost."

The Pitts family came early, and William, Jacob and John bought 479 acres of land.

William McWatty came about 1824-25, and located on land in the western part of the township, purchasing it of James Alcorn. One of the McWattys, Rev. Robert, was pastor of the Second United Presbyterian Church, at Mercer County, in 1876.

Elijah Lower came from Center County, Pennsylvania, about 1822-23, and located on a farm west of the Martin farm. Mr. Lower bought the land of a man named Painter, who had had some improvements made upon it. The first man on the farm was a squatter, one Shuman, who had no title. Elijah Lower was born in Philadelphia, and lived to be a little more than 100 years of age.

Hugh Martin came from the Buffalo Valley, in Union County, Pennsylvania, to North Beaver Township, in 1829, and located on the farm later owned by David and Catherine Martin his children. He had visited the country in 1805. After he settled, he lived on the place until his death, which occurred about 1865, when he had reached the age of eighty-two years. The first actual settler on the farm was William McCreary, who came in the neighborhood of 1810.

Samuel Poak came about 1804, and settled on the farm subsequently owned by Robert Brewster. He afterwards owned several hundred acres of land in the vicinity. He came from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and brought with him his sister, his wife and two children (twins), a boy and a girl. Thirteen children were born altogether. Robert Brewster's house stands a few rods northeast of where Mr. Poak's old dwelling stood. Mr. Poak had the first title, and was the first actual settler, although a squatter had been on the place and built a small shanty, which was standing when Mr. Poak came.

Henry Weon owned a tavern on what is now called the Mount Jackson (or Pitzer's) Hill. This place seems to have been largely patronized.

Dr. Alexander Gillfillan was born in Ireland in 1784. His grandfather Gillfillan was one of the many driven from Scotland by religious persecution. The doctor's father, James Gillfillan, came to America with three sons and two brothers, Alexander and Thomas, and settled in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, in 1788. Alexander Gillfillan, Sr., remained there, and Thomas went South. James moved to Mercer County. Afterward, Alexander Gillfillan, Jr., went back to Allegheny County, to his uncle Alexander's, and while living there received his education under Dr. Peter Mowry, of Pittsburg. Dr. Gillfillan began to practice in Franklin, Venango County, Pa., and in 1812 came to New Castle, being the second regular physician who located at that place. The doctor became a popular man, and was very successful in his profession. When quite young he united with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He purchased the lot in New Castle upon which the First United Presbyterian Church now stands, and lived upon it during his life in that place. October 21, 1813, he was married to Elizabeth Patterson, of North Beaver Township, and their first child, a son, James Harvey Gillfillan, was born August 3, 1814. The child only lived three months, dying of croup. December 2, 1815, a daughter was born. She married Samuel R. Vance, of North Beaver.

Her oldest daughter became the wife of Robert Brewster, living east of Mount Jackson. The second daughter was married to Rev. J. D. Brownlee, September 4, 1866, and died March 21, 1873, of pneumonia, leaving three children, two boys and a girl. The third daughter married J. E. Nevin, of Allegheny City. Two of Mrs. Vance's children, both girls, died during one summer with diphtheria.

Dr. Gillfillan went out as surgeon to Black Rock, during the War of 1812. A fever broke out among the soldiers, which was known as the "Black Rock Fever," and proved fatal in almost every case, until Dr. Gillfillan, by hard study night and day, discovered a cure and a preventive. He furnished the prescription to all the leading surgeons in the army, without receiving any compensation therefor. Many of the men who had contracted the disease in the army took it home, and their families were attacked with it also. Hearing of Dr. Gillfillan's great success in the treatment of it, they sent for him "from far and near."

Dr. Gillfillan was drowned in the Neshannock Creek, at New Castle, just below Raney's mill, June 17, 1815, while helping haul a fishing seine. A number of the leading men in the place were also in the party. The late Joseph Justice nearly lost his life on the same occasion, while endeavoring to rescue the doctor. His death was deeply mourned by all who knew him, and those who were then living and were acquainted with him fondly cherished his memory. His widow, in 1821, was married to Benjamin Blackburn, who lived in Ohio, and the couple lived together fifty-four years. Mr. Blackburn died in 1875. His widow lived to be almost ninety years of age. In her life she had seen seven generations in the family.

John Patterson, a wheelwright by trade, came to the township in 1801, and settled south of what is now Mount Jackson, on the farm now owned by the heirs of the late Major James Patterson. One of his daughters, Elizabeth, as before mentioned, married Dr. Gillfillan. Mr. Patterson, after some time, put up a blacksmith shop. No coal was then known, but finally a bank was discovered near Lindsay Robinson's place, and not knowing there was coal in his own neighborhood, Mr. Patterson took a bag and went after coal to that bank, bringing it home on horseback.

The first chimney he built was of logs, and only extended a few feet from the ground. Nearby the coal bank was a sandstone quarry, and there Mr. Patterson procured stone, and hired a man named Thompson to build a second chimney for him.

The first table the Patterson family had was an old chest, which was used for some time, and finally Mr. Patterson procured a couple of walnut boards, and with them made a table. He also made some chairs, some of which were in use not many years ago. Their first floor was simply the convenient one of earth, and their bedstead made of split chestnut timber, with feet in. Finally, a puncheon floor was laid, a table and a cupboard manufactured, and other improvements made as fast as he could get to them.

Robert Brewster came originally from Ireland and settled in Washington County, Pennsylvania, where he was married. In the neighborhood of 1800, he came to what is now Little Beaver Township, Lawrence County, and stayed there until about 1806-08, when he removed to North Beaver, and located on 100 acres of land which he bought. When Mr. Brewster was "coming through the wilderness," he slept on the frosty ground, and exposed himself to such a degree that he contracted rheumatism which was finally the cause of his death. He died October 22, 1850, in his eightieth year.

The farm now, or formerly, owned by S. R. Vance was originally improved by Caleb Jones, who had squatted on it, thinking it was a vacant tract, which it finally proved not to be. Jones had a grist mill on the place, which he built previous to 1812, and operated for a number of years, doing a large business. The mill was a log structure. Before Jones found out that he was not on a vacant tract (which was not till the summer of 1838) he had made arrangements to build another mill, and had commenced to tunnel the point of the hill, intending to put a mill-race through. The tunnel would have been some ten or fifteen rods long, and he would have had a powerful fall of nearly eighty feet. He was obliged, however, to quit the place, as an owner had been found. Mr. Vance purchased a portion of the tract in 1839, including the mill site. He took the machinery out of the mill and put in a set of cards, and operated the carding-mill for about seven years.

Mr. Vance's grandfather, Robert Vance, was a major in the Revolutionary Army, and served seven years. He at one time raised a company during the Revolution, and from their uniform they were called "Bucktails." From that circumstance it is said that the Pennsylvania regiment known as the "Bucktails" during the rebellion, took its name. Robert Vance settled in Allegheny County after the revolution, probably about 1790, and was from the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia.

Major Vance's son, David Vance, was one of the notable rivermen of early times, and operated a keel-boat line between Pittsburg and "Limestone"-now Maysville, Ky.-making occasional trips to Cincinnati, Louisville, New Orleans and other points on the rivers. His cousin, Aaron Hart, was his partner in business. Hart's brother, John Hart, of New Jersey, was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Major Robert Vance commanded a battery at the battle of Brandywine, September 11, 1777.

Robert Hopper, a weaver, and his wife, Margaret (Watson) Hopper, with a large family of children, came from County Down, Ireland, about 1790, and settled in Westmoreland County. About 1797-98 they moved to Hickory Creek, near Mount Jackson, North Beaver Township, and began clearing 200 acres of virgin forest land. He built as his residence a double log house, with a chimney in the middle, which structure stood for years as a landmark.

He reared a large family, all of whom were born in Ireland with the exception of the two youngest. Of his children, Esther became the wife of James Justice, son of Jacob Justice, who settled near Moravia; Martha married George Leslie, and Jane, the third daughter, was the wife of Samuel D. Clarke; John married Anne Hamilton, and James married Maria Wilson. The last named, James, was proprietor of a general store at Pulaski, Lawrence County. About 1835-36 he started East to buy goods for his store, and was never again heard of. It was supposed he had met with foul play, as he carried money.

James Fullerton came from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, with his wife and a colored girl, in the spring of 1801, and settled the farm where his son, the later Robert Fullerton, lived until his death. Mr. Fullerton had been here in 1800, and built a cabin. The first child born in the family was a daughter, Mary, whose birth occurred in the latter part of the year 1801. In 1802, Mr. and Mrs. Fullerton went horseback across the mountains on a visit, and the jaunt was so hard on the babe, which they carried with them, that it did not grow any for a year or more, and was always delicate afterward.

John Sterrett bought seven acres of land of James Fullerton, about 1812-15, and started a tannery, but never made it profitable. Several others tried it, with a like result, until 1834, when Mr. Fullerton's son, Robert, took it, and, with the exception of the time from about 1859 to 1865, ran it successfully until his death.

John and George Douglass came not long after Mr. Fullerton, and settled on farm north of him. John Douglass afterward went to Petersburg, Mahoning County, Ohio, and opened a tavern. James Hope settled south of the Fullerton farm about 1799 or 1800.


These mineral products, with fire clay, and oil, are found in the township, also occasional floating quantities of galena or lead ore. The latter does not abound in large quantities, so far as discovered. Coal has also been found and worked to some extent. The iron ore is found in several veins, and of three different qualities-the red, blue and honeycomb. Petroleum is known to exist, in greater or less quantities, in the Hickory Creek region.

Previous to the time roads were cut through, the only paths were trails through the forest, or tracks along which the trees were blazed so the people might not lose their way. These were especially the kind the children had to follow in going to and coming from school, sometimes two or three miles away.

EARLY ROADS The oldest road in the township which was put through by white people-the New Castle and Beaver road, commonly called the "Beaver road"-was opened as early as 1800, and ran along the bottom lands on the west side of the river.

What is known as the "Small's Ferry road" was laid out very early, and was the first one in that part of the township. It was opened by Major Edward Wright, Bryce McGeehan and others of the people then living, and crossed the Mahoning River at Small's Ferry, which gave it its name. This was previous to the War of 1812. People passing between Youngstown and Beavertown traveled the road, which was very crooked, and laid to accommodate the settlers along the route.


A log schoolhouse was built in 1802 or 1803, just across the line in Ohio, opposite the southwest corner of what is now Mahoning Township. A Methodist preacher named Ross taught in it. On the same ground a second house, also of logs, was built about 1818, and afterward another one, which was a frame building, and used until about 1840, when the location was abandoned for school purposes.

A log schoolhouse was built on the Alsworth tract, the land now owned by Mrs. Hannah, about 1805-6. The first teacher was James Leslie.

In 1802 a log schoolhouse was built in the Mount Jackson neighborhood, near the site of the Westfield Church. Bears were so thick that some of the families would not allow their children to attend after the first week, for fear some prowling beast might come upon them.

A schoolhouse was built on John Patterson's place about 1805-6, also of logs. Peter Boss, who boarded with Mr. Patterson, was the first teacher.

About 1810-12 a schoolhouse was built of round logs on what was some years ago the Daniel Davidson property. The building was erected by the McCrearys, who before this had schools in their own houses. McCreary had a still house near by, and during intermissions the teachers in the old schoolhouse were accustomed to go to the still and take their regular drams, a custom which happily does not prevail nowadays.

Another schoolhouse was built of hewed logs in the same vicinity, and taught by James White. It was heated by a "tenplate stove," one of the first in the vicinity.

A log schoolhouse was built about 1806-7, near the Bethel United Presbyterian Church, and was probably used afterward. as a "session house" by the Bethel congregation.

Another log schoolhouse was built on the farm then owned by John and Archibald Stewart, and afterwards by Robert Fullerton. This was built about 1804-5, and a man named Hassan taught in it.

In 1908 there were sixteen schools in the township, with an enrollment of 373, and seventeen instructors were employed, at a cost of $5,910. The total expenditure for school purposes was $7,902.57. The average number of months taught is seven.

Westfield Presbyterian Church is located in North Beaver Township, one mile and a half west of Mount Jackson. It is the oldest church in the township. It was organized in the spring of 1803, by a committee of the Presbytery of Erie. At its organization it consisted of twenty-two members, including thirteen families. The forming of a church in this community was first "talked over at a log-rolling, or the raising of a log house." The ground upon which the church building now stands was donated for church and burial purposes in the year 1802, by Messrs. Charles and Walter Clark.


There had been erected on this ground, and near the same spot, no less than six different houses or places of worship. The first was a round-log cabin, 20 by 24 feet. The fathers built this in the year 1803-4. It was covered with clapboards, had puncheons for floor and seats, and was without either fireplace or stove. Before long the log church was too contracted to hold the congregation. This led the people at an early date to erect what was called "The Tent." This was a structure constructed of lumber, sufficiently large to protect the ministers from the sun and storms, while the congregation sat on logs under the trees.

In 1817 or 1818 steps were taken toward the building of a frame church. This house was not finished until 1823. Its dimensions were 36 by 40 feet. It was heated with a ten-plate stove, and was quite comfortable in its arrangements, for that day. Money was exceedingly scarce about this time, and all the subscriptions for completing the house were either so many feet of boards, so many bushels of wheat, corn or rye, or so many gallons of whisky.

The congregation increased, the frame building was soon too small to contain the worshipers. In the year 1829 it was resolved to build a new and more commodious house. After three years of toil and difficulties and drawbacks, a large brick church, 45 by 70 feet, was completed. This was at that time considered one of the finest houses of worship in this section of the country. But after thirty years it became somewhat dilapidated.

In 1862 a frame church of more modern style was erected. This church was dedicated the 8th of January, 1863, and on the 8th of January, 1872, just one year to the day, after the burning of the former house, and just ten years, to the day, after its dedication, the present house was dedicated to the worship and service of the living God. Its dimensions are 45 by 85 feet. It is a frame building, and finished inside with natural woods. It is Gothic in architecture, has stained glass windows, and is heated by furnaces. It has a spire and Meneely bell, contains two vestibules, and a lecture and session room. It is better arranged, more commodious, and much more handsome than any of its numerous predecessors.

The first pastor of the Westfield Presbyterian Church was the Rev. Nicholas Pittinger. He labored in this church one-half of his time, from October 24, 1804, until September 13, 1809. The Rev. James Wright, the second pastor, began his labors, for half the time, June 26, 1816. In 1831 he gave up Poland congregation, his other charge, and gave Westfield all his time. His health failing, he resigned January 12, 1842, after a pastorate of nearly twenty-six years. His death took place in the following year-March 30, 1843. The next pastor was the Rev. Algernon Sydney McMaster. His pastorate continued from April 12, 1843, until November 9, 1854. The Rev. Thomas B. Scott was pastor from September 8, 1857, until June 19, 1860. He is at present preaching near Galesburg, Ill. The fifth pastor was the Rev. William M. Taylor. He was ordained and installed by the Presbytery of Beaver (now Shenango) June 12, 186l. His was the longest pastorate, he continuing in charge until his death, January 1, 1903, at an advanced age. He was followed by the Rev. Albert Joseph McCartney, who served until the present pastor, Rev. Robert E. Porter, assumed the duties of the pastorate in the present year, 1908.

The present roll of session (1908) consists of A. M. Hope, James Nesbit, Elihu Ruthrauff (clerk), R. N. Gibson, John B. Woods, J. R. Miller, William H. Martin, William J. Duff and Laurence Nesbit.

Board of deacons: Milton Fullerton, James Adams, George W. Gibson, William H. Wiley, James Hayes, William A. Clarke, William H. Gilmore, Charles R. Sherer, Gilbert A. McCreary.

During the pastorate of Rev. Albert Joseph McCartney Westfield congregation celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of their church. At this celebration, a memorial tablet to the memory of the Rev. William M. Taylor was unveiled.

The church has also grown in her benevolent contribution and spiritual activities.

The pastor is liberally supported, and hundreds of dollars are given each year to aid in various missionary operations. Besides a flourishing Sunday-school, there are at present connected with the church, a Young Men's Christian Association, a Young People's Christian Endeavor Society, and Ladies' Missionary Society, and eight regular prayer meetings.


The congregation of Bethel was organized by Charities Presbytery under the name of Little Beaver in the year 1798. There is no record of the number of members when organized. The people were mostly of Scotch-Irish descent. The elders chosen at the time of organization were Thomas Hogg, Boyce McGeehan and Charles Morrow. Their successors in the session were William Miller, Nathaniel Hamill, Samuel Hopper, Robert Ramsey and Thomas Dungan, these persons being probably chosen and ordained at different times in the progress of the church. William Miller subsequently-about 1823 or 1824-joined the Associate Reformed Church of Mt. Jackson (now United Presbyterian) at its organization. In 1848 we find that Robert Ramsey was enjoined to stop keeping tavern, in accordance with a minute on the church records which states that "No church member can keep a tavern or public house consistent with his profession and his duties to God." Subsequently we find the word "Removed" marked against his name. Thomas Dungan was one of the leading spirits in the session in those early days. He was active and benevolent beyond his means, and in his old age he had lost none of his enthusiasm, and his heart was wholly devoted to his Master's service. His death is recorded July 10, 1873. It will be unnecessary to enter into a detailed history of the session and it would be impossible yo do so as for thirty-six years there were no records. We find the names of Robert Sherer, Robert Gailey and David Forbes as ordained in 1844. Elder Gailey subsequently united with the New Castle congregation. In 1852, Joseph Hope, David Ramsey and Samuel Mayne were chosen elders; William H. Leslie and James Brester, in 1857; Duncan McGeehan, William F. Davidson and William Carson in 1861.

The first pastor of Bethel Congregation, then Little Beaver, was Rev. James Duncan, who was a prominent member of the Associate Presbytery of Ohio, and who was moderator at the organization of Charities Presbytery in 1801. He was released in 1804 and was succeeded by Rev. David Imbrie, who was installed September 3, 1806, his charge including Little Beaver, Brush Run and Big Beaver. His pastorate in these two first named charges lasted for thirty-six years and was productive of a goodly harvest of souls. He died suddenly on June 13, 1842.

It was not until two years later that Mr. Imbrie's successor, Rev. John W. Harsha assumed the duties of the pastorate. He resigned the charge in 1852 to teach in Westminster College, but there overstudy brought on nervous prostration and reduced him to the condition of a helpless invalid. In April, 1855, Rev. Samuel Alexander accepted a call from Little Bethel and was ordained and installed pastor August 21 of that year. He was a man of decided convictions and vigorous mind and a good teacher, but was not at all times in full accord with all the members of the congregation. Owing to this lack of agreement he was not fully sustained and the work consequently was not carried on in a thorough and hearty spirit. He resigned February 20, 1872, the congregation, in spite of accessions, being then much diminished in numbers. He died in 1895 after seven years' lingering illness.

The congregation was vacant two years when a call was moderated September 29, 1873, for Mr. J. S. Dice, a licentiate, of Mercer Presbytery, which he accepted at New Galilee, February 17, 1874. Mr. Dice has remained the faithful and capable pastor of Little Bethel up to the present time. An interesting sketch of his life may be found in the biographical portion of this work. The present membership of the church (1908) is forty-six families, 145 members. Robert S. Clark, W. P. Kelso and William McCalla are the ruling elders. The trustees are Albert J. Gwin, William E. Patterson and George L. Stewart. The superintendent of the Sabbath-school is Fred W. Dixon; Grace Paden is secretary; Thomas Cover, treasurer. The school membership is seventy-five.


This village was laid out by John Nesbit, on his share of the old farm, about 1815. It was named in honor of General Andrew Jackson, who had, on the 8th of January of that year, gained a signal victory over the British troops under General Packenham, at New Orleans, in which battle the British leader was killed. The first house on the town plat was built by William Henry, who had been living on Hickory Creek, west of the place where Dr. Allen Nesbit afterwards lived. When the town was laid out, he removed to it, built a house, and opened a store in it.

George Eccles began blacksmithing soon afterward, and was the first blacksmith in the village. Joseph Hughes probably had the first wagon shop, and Robert McCandless opened the next one.

Benjamin Wells started the shoemaking business, and Samuel Lane (a descendant of the Finns, who, in company with the Swedes, settled in Delaware in 1638) came at nearly the same time. Lane was a tall, slim man, and exceedingly polite.

The second house in town was built by Matthew A. Calvin, who opened a tavern there. He was a lame man and had been teaching school previous to this, in New Castle. After keeping the tavern for about twenty years, he removed to Mercer County, where he had a son who was a physician.

"All the early taverns kept bars; and a well known gentleman, who at one time had a tavern in the place, agreed to sign the pledge, and quit selling liquor at his house, if the people would buy the stock he had on hand, and pay him for it. This they did, and emptied the liquor out on the snow, and tried to burn it. It was fire-proof, however, and the boys who were fond of their sups came and ate the snow to get the whisky out of it."

Robert Tait came to Mount Jackson about 1831 and in 1835 opened a tavern; he also carried on the hatting business. Before be came, William Miller had a shop also, and worked at the hatting business, but finally discontinued it. Mr. Tait carried it on a number of years, making several varieties of hats, from fur to silk. Journeymen hatters were always kept at work. For one year David McConahy worked at the business with Mr. Tait.

Mr. Tait's father, Samuel Tait, came from Ireland, and in 1809 or 1810 located on the farm now owned by Joseph Dickson. Mr. Tait was the first settler on the place.

A postoffice was established at Mount Jackson about 1817, with William Henry as the first postmaster. Before the office was established it was necessary to go to New Castle, five miles distant, for mail. Mount Jackson was laid out purposely to secure a postoffice. John Ferguson held the office of postmaster after Henry.

The first physician in the place was a mineral doctor named Robert Smith. Following him came Dr. Robert McClelland, also a mineral doctor. Dr. McClelland was an old schoolmate of Dr. Allen Nesbit, and was persuaded by him to come to the place. Dr. Nesbit began practicing on the Botanic or Thompsonian system, while Dr. McClelland was at the place, and kept, up his practice until about 1865.

Thomas Ferguson, a brother of John Ferguson, came from Steubenville about 1828-30 and conducted a shoe shop until 1885.

About 1822 John Justice built the first tannery in the vicinity, it being located about a mile south of the town. He afterward removed to Ohio. Another tannery was built about 1832 by William Alcorn.

A log schoolhouse was built about 1815-16, where Louis Etter's wagon shop formerly stood, and was the first one in the town. The ground was reserved by John Nesbit for school purposes when he laid out the town.

In 1875 John L. Camblin built a planing mill a short distance east of town. Mount Jackson is located on the summit of one of the highest hills in the neighborhood, having a steep descent on the west and south towards Hickory Creek, and stretching off on a comparative plane towards the east and north. The place contains several stores, and has some neat and cosy residences and a substantial school building. Until the present two-story school building as constructed, the house originally erected by the members of the Free Presbyterian Church was used as a school building and was located at the forks of the road where the John McGinness residence has since been built.

The United Presbyterian Church, at Mount Jackson, was organized about the year 1820 or 1822 by a number of persons who had elsewhere been members or adherents of what was then called the "Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America." These persons occasionally secured the services of itinerant ministers, who would preach a day or two at a time in a barn or private house to those who were disposed to attend. From such small beginnings, in the course of two or three years, a congregation of perhaps twenty-five members was organized. About 1825 the services of a missionary-one John Norwood-recently from Ireland, were secured for one-third of his time. After serving for one year in this capacity, he was settled as permanent pastor for one-third of his time. There were then about thirty or thirty-five members, among them being the Millers, Chambers, Kyles, Hammils, Davidsons, Alcorns and Blackburns.

During the summer of 1825 the first church building was erected. It was a frame structure. Mr. Norwood resigned his charge in 1833, and for four years subsequently the congregation was without a pastor. In October, 1837, John Neil, a young man from Washington County, Pennsylvania, who had just finished his theological studies, became pastor and remained until 1860. Under his pastoral care the congregation increased from thirty-five members to 140, and became able to support a pastor for his whole time.

In 1857 a new frame church building, 40 by 50, was erected at a cost of between $2,000 or $3,000. In the year 1858, at the consummation of the union between the Associate and Associate Reformed Presbyterian Churches, this congregation, in common with all others in the Associate Reformed Church, became a United Presbyterian Church.

After Mr. Neil gave up the charge, the congregation was without a pastor for over a year, when the Rev. Cyrus Cummins became pastor, and for eight years faithfully performed the duties devolving upon him. He then resigned, and was followed, after an interval of about one year, by the Rev. Hugh R. McClelland, who took charge of the congregation in October, 1870. He has been followed by other pastors, and although the congregation has suffered much at different times from death and removals it has increased in numbers and good works. The church edifice is located half a mile south of the village, on the south side of Hickory Creek.

The Free Presbyterian Church was organized in 1846 by the members of the Presbyterian Church at Westfield. The new organization numbered about fifty members in full communion. The Civil War which followed the secession of the Southern States, having resulted in the abolition of slavery, and the action of the general assemblies of the Presbyterian Church, which met in 1864, 1865 and 1866, having, in some measure, removed the causes of the separation, the members of the Free Church almost unanimously resolved to dissolve their organization and unite with other sister churches. The above resolution was adopted in June, 1866, after having maintained their organization for nearly twenty years. Nearly all the members went back to the church from which they had separated.

Methodist Episcopal Church. - The pioneer Methodist, at Mount Jackson, was Jacob Bear, who came from Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, with his family in 1825. Mr. Bear was born in the Buffalo Valley, in Union County. Through Mr. Bear's efforts, a class was organized at Mount Jackson about 1838, by Rev. Rufus Parker. Previous to its organization meetings were held as early as 1828 at Mr. Bear's house. Mr. Bear was one of the first associate judges of Lawrence County, the other being Charles T. Whippo. When the Methodist class was organized, its first leader was Richard M. Bear, and William Marrs was the second. The class was organized some three or four years before the church was built. A Sabbath-school was organized early, and has been kept up most of the time since.

The church, a frame building, was erected about 1842, on land purchased from John Nesbit, who laid out the town. It has since been repaired and remodeled, and is yet standing.


This place is the site of the old Moravian missions, founded in 1770, and originally located on the broad bottomland on the east side of the river. It is said that when the missionaries and their converts were coming up the Beaver they passed, near where Newport now stands, a village of Indian maidens who were all single, and pledged never to marry. The village was moved from the east to the west side of the river, because the former locality was too low and unhealthy. The western town stood a short distance north of the present Moravia station, and there the Moravians stayed until 1773, when they removed to the Tuscarawas Valley, in Ohio. Long after the Christian Indians had left the locality, and after subsequent Indian troubles, the region was again settled by whites, and this time permanently.

About 1798 William Forbes settled just below the present village, and soon after built a grist mill and a sawmill on the Beaver River. The dam was nearly half a mile above the mill, and the construction of it and the digging of the mill-race must have required an immense amount of labor. Mr. Forbes held the office of justice of the peace and died some time before the War of 1812.

James Alsworth came from Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in November, l804, with his wife and six children. Three children were born in the family after they arrived. The youngest of the six children who came with their parents was William Alsworth. James Alsworth settled a 200-acre tract and made the first improvements upon it.

The village of Moravia was laid out by David W. D. Freeman, about 1863-64, soon after the New Castle and Beaver Railway was opened for travel.

The town has a fine location on the hill above the river, commanding a view both up and down the stream and across the fertile "bottoms" on the eastern shore. The Erie & Pittsburg Railway affords shipping and traveling facilities, and the town, though yet small, has a wide future before it, in which to become equal in importance to its sister towns in the county.

Source:   History of New Castle and Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1908, p. 272-285

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