Blanket Hill--Old Settlers--Industries--Churches--Population--Schools--Humboldt Gardens--Geology--Altitude of Blanket Hill
This township has so often been depleted of territory to supply the demands of those who desired to construct other townships of smaller dimensions that a description of the original boundaries is unnecessary in this section of the history of Armstrong county. A full resume of the old divisions will be found in the first chapters on townships and divisions. The only things left to the township in this year of 1913 are its historic name and an honorable record.
The earliest event of note in this township's history was the desperate fight between Lieut. James Hogg and a superior force of Indians in 1756 at the eminence in the northern portion of the present limits of the township called "Blanket Hill." A complete sketch of this fight will be found in the general history of the county. Later Indian outrages in this historic section are also treated in that chapter.
The owners of the original tracts within the present limited territory of this township were: George Gray, William Hurtman, Michael Huffnagle, Robert Smith, John King, Charles Uhl, John Phillips, William Stewart, John Schall, John Serfoos, James Todd, John Altman, Thomas Smith, Jacob Hankey, Jacob Waltebough, Philip Hartman, Robert S. Steele, John Shotts, Jacob Rudolph, Michael Hartman, Jacob Neninger, Charles Grubb, John Hileman, Jacob Lindeg, Daniel Hileman, Henry King, George Wensel, Martin Dubbs, James Patton, Peter Thompson, Charles Betts, John Schenck, George Olinger, Christian Signitz, Daniel Yundt, Nathaniel Lewis, Hugh Blaney, Isaac Franks, William Cooper, Samuel Smith, Robert Lafferty, Thomas Hutchinson, Henry Bowers, John Ewing, William Henderson, Sebastian Bowers, Frederick Rohrer, John Cravenor, Jonathan Shoemaker, Thomas Salter, Philip Clemburg, John Guld, Andrew Lopeman, Moses Bartram, Jacob Schrecongost, Christopher Oury, Richard Graham, Abraham Fiscus, Frederick Kuhl, Adam Olinger, John Pomeroy, George Williams, Francis Rupp, Benjamin Hogan, Daniel Fitzgerald, John Carson, Daniel Bouch, Tobias Long, Adam Waltenbough, Benjamin Schrecongost.
Moses Bartram, above mentioned, was a son of John Bartram, for a long time botanist to Queen Caroline of England, before the Revolution, and a brother of William Bartram, who was well known in Pennsylvania, and who published a journal of his travels through the Creek country and among the southern Indians.
John Guld, who settled in this section in 1786, was a noted man of his age, having been a ranger, scout and hunter. He served as dispatch bearer, and for a time carried the mail from Fort Pitt to Great Meadows in what is now Fayette county. In the early days of his residence here he was often forced to seek refuge from the Indians in the blockhouse on the Allegheny, below the mouth of Fort run. He was a frequent visitor to Kittanning borough in the latter part of his life, and his Indian-like appearance attracted much attention. He died in 1818.
AN OLD ASSESSMENT LIST
The only information obtainable regarding most of the early settlers is to be had from the following copy of the assessment lists of 1805-1806:
George Beer, gunsmith, 140 acres of land, valued at $115 in 1805, and $126 in 1806, his trade being valued or assessed at $10. Samuel Beer, 30 acres, 1 gristmill and 1 sawmill, 1 horse and 1 head of cattle--total valuation, $69 in 1805, and $74 in 1806. John Beer, 53 acres, 1 head of cattle, $31.50. Daniel Fitzgeralds, 100 acres, 2 horses, 3 cattle, $160 in 1805, and $155 in 1806. John Guld (often written Gold), 245 acres, 1 horse, 1 head of cattle $198.75. Daniel Guld, 76 acres, 4 cattle, $77 in 1805, and $77.50 in 1806. Michael Hurtman, 2 cattle, $10 in 1805, and $15 in 1806. Peter Hileman, 200 acres, 1 horse, 2 cattle, $170 in 1805, and $180 in 1806. John Hileman, single man, $5 in 1806. Daniel Hileman, single man. John Howser, 400 acres, 1 head of cattle, latter $5 in 1805, both in 1806 $220. Jacob Howser, 135 acres, 3 cattle, $116.25 in 1805, and $121.25 in 1806. Jacob Hankey, joiner, 92 acres, $61 in 1806. John King, tailor, 50 acres--trade $10--land $37.50 in 1806. Jacob Lafferty, single man, 150 acres, $75 in 1805, "married a wife," $85 in 1806. Christopher Oury, 300 1/2 acres, 1 distillery, 3 horses, 3 cattle, $345.50 in 1805, and $350.50 in 1806. Adam Oury, 3 cattle, $15 in 1805. Francis Roop, 157 acres, 1 horse, 4 cattle, $187. Adam Waltenbough, 100 acres, 1 horse, 1 head of cattle, $65. Thomas Williams, 100 acres, 2 horses, 2 cattle in 1805, $70; no horse, 1 head cattle in 1806, $55. Jacob Waltenbough, 1 head cattle in 1805, $5; 163 acres in 1806, $86.50. Peter Waltenbaugh, 80 acres, 2 horses, 1 head of cattle in 1805, $85; only 1 horse in 1806, $75. Daniel Yount, 341 acres in 1805, 1 head of cattle, $175.50; 152 acres in 1806, 2 cattle, $86.
How long before the assessment of the mills above to Samuel Beer was the date of their erection is only a matter of conjecture. It is possible they were built by Daniel Guld, the previous owner of the tract on which they were situated. After Beer they were successively owned by John Howser, Benjamin Schrecongost, George Howser and Joseph Frantz. They have been idle and decaying since the comparative exhaustion of the forests.
In 1849-50 John Hileman was assessed with a sawmill and thereafter Daniel Hileman. It was located at the site of the present settlement of "Hileman," in the central-western part of the township, on Garrett's run. Jacob Hankey was assessed with a sawmill in this section in 1852 and several years thereafter. George Loyster's grist and sawmills, on Spruce run, in the northeastern part of the township, were erected in 1868. Martin V. Remaley's steam flouring mill, near Hileman, was built in 1872. It is in an abandoned condition now.
Several distilleries flourished at various periods on the township's history, noted among them being the Hileman plant, which is said to have produced a fine brand of goods.
A notable point in early times was on the Christopher Oury tract, where Richard Graham settled and kept an inn, which was a favorite resort for pleasure parties from Kittanning and elsewhere.
"Benton" was the name of a projected town, which Abraham Fiscus laid out in 1836 on the Armstrong and Indiana turnpike, five miles southeast of Kittanning borough. He advertised it extensively, but failed to sell a single lot.
There are no towns of note in this township, and the assessment list for 1913 shows only two merchants, one of them being W. W. Wright at Pyrra. One blacksmith seems to be able to care for all the plow sharpening and odd jobs in this section.
Christ's, also known as Rupp's, was the first church organized in the township. It was located four miles east of Kittanning borough and one fourth of a mile north of the Indiana pike. The early records were destroyed in the fire which consumed the home of Francis Rupp in the eighties, so tradition is the only resource for a history of the church. It was probably organized in 1811 by Rev. Mr. Lampbrecht, a Lutheran clergyman, who dedicated the log edifice the next year.
The first Lutheran settlers in this section were Peter Heilman and Francis Rupp, who invited Rev. Michael J. Steck of Greensburg to visit them once or twice a year and hold services in their homes. He continued these visits from 1796 to 1813, when Rev. John G. Lampbrecht came as pastor. He preached for them two years and during his term assisted in the erection of a union church, used by the Lutheran and the Reformed congregations. Rev. William Weinel was the Reformed pastor. The subsequent pastors of the Lutheran congregation were Revs. John A. Mohler, M. C. Ziefels, G. A. Reichert, John H. Bernheim, George F. Ehrenfeld, John A. Earnest, John B. Miller, A. S. Miller, George W. Leisher, John W. Tressler, Franklin J. Matter, and the present pastor, Rev. J. G. Langham.
Christopher "Ure" donated the land for the second church, which was of logs, and was built in 1815. The Reformed members were by that time completely absorbed into the Lutheran denomination. In 1852 the log home was replaced by a neat frame church, which was burned within two weeks of its dedication. The fourth church, a stone edifice, was built in 1854 and used until 1897, when it was replaced by the present handsome brick and stone building, one of the finest of the country churches in the county. Its total cost was $7,000. The present membership of the church is 125, and of the Sunday school, 160.
The first members of the church were Christopher Uhre (also spelled Oury and Yure), Peter Heilman, Francis Rupp, Michael Blose, Adam Ohlinger, Daniel Gould, Daniel Fitzgerald and George Williams.
Rev. Gabriel A. Reichert was pastor of this church from 1826 to 1830. Conrad Schrecongost and George Wilt were elders and George Farster and John Cravenor, deacons. Preaching in English began here in 1850, when Rev. Mr. Bernheim was pastor. The congregation was incorporated in 1853 as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Christ, the charter officers being Rev. George Ehrenfeldt, pastor; Benjamin Schrecongost and George Williams, elders; Isasc Fitzgerald, John Cravenor, deacons; George Williams, trustee. The charter members were Michael Kunkle, John Bouch, Elias Bouch, George Shuster, Isaac Schrecongost, David Rupp, Lewis Koon and Israel Rowley. The later pastors were Revs. J. A. Ernest, S. S. Miller and A. S. Miller.
Emmanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church is located about four miles east of Manorville, on the Garrett's run road. It has sometimes been called "Hileman's," from the family of that name who were among the first settlers of this township. For many years the Lutherans of this section of the township attended services at "Rupp's" Church, nearer Kittanning borough. In 1840 Rev. John H. Bernheim establlished the Emmanuel congreagation and the first frame church was erected. During his pastorate all the preaching was in German. The second pastor was Rev. Jacob Zimmerman, and after his resignation in 1858 the pulpit was supplied by Revs. Henry Reck and Jacob S. Lawson. After 1859 the pastors were Revs. John A. Ernest, John B. Miller, A. S. Miller, George W. Leisher, John W. Tressler, F. J. Matter and J. G. Langham. Membership, 100, Sabbath school, 97.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church (also called "Schotte's") is located two miles south of Emmanuel, east of Horny Camp run, and was probably organized about 1843. The first church was erected on land secured from John Schotte, hence the name sometimes given it. The first regular pastor was Rev. Henry Esensee, who served until 1851. In the year previous he had dedicated the church building, a square log structure with the usual tall pulpit. The succeeding pastors were Revs. Michael Sweiger, 1852-58; David Earhart, 1858-59; G. F. Ehrenfeld, 1859-65; Jacob H. Wright, 1865-67. Then came the following General Council pastors: Revs. Jonathan Sarver, Josiah B. Fox, Philip Doerr, G. A. Reichert and W. A. C. Mueller. Rev. G. W. Leisher, a General Synod pastor, came next, and in his time a lot was purchased from Jacob Waltenbaugh in 1877 and a church erected on it and dedicated in 1880. In 1881 Rev. Robert B. Starks entered the pastorate, remaining until 1885. Next came Rev. Samuel Krider, 1886-89; Rev. J. W. Tressler, 1889-90; Rev. S. V. Dye, 1890-95; Wilson Yeisley, 1904; J. N. Wetzler, Ph. D., 1913.
At the time of the permanent division of the church, one party retained the name St. John's, being under the General Council, and the other, under the General Synod, reorganized as St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church, in 1894.
St. Matthew's is located at Rockville, on the north branch of Cherry run, a short distance east of St. John's, and was erected in 1894 at a cost of $2,300. The first church council was composed of Simon Schaeffer, Jacob Kunkle, Reuben Hileman and G. A. Schall. Rev. William Hesse was the first pastor after the separation, until 1894. He was followed by Rev. C. M. Wachter, who was succeeded in 1898 by Rev. J. E. F. Hassinger. Following were Rev. E. F. Dickey and Rev. W. Roy Goff, the present pastor. Membership, 127; Sunday school, 89.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized prior to 1860, and a frame building put up the same year. It was blown down the next year, and the present frame reared on the foundations. It is supplied from Ford City now.
In 1850, before the last curtailment of its territory, the township had 1,175 inhabitants; in 1860, 1,237; in 1870, 1,504; in 1880, 1,681; in 1890, 1,393; in 1900, 1,396; in 1910, 1,103.
The assessment list for 1876 shows that there were in this township, besides the great body of agriculturists, laborers, 31; tenants, 18; hucksters, 6; blacksmiths, 4; shoemakers, 4; carpenters, 3; stonemasons, 3; painter, 1; and stores appraised, 5 in the fourteenth class.
The assessment returns for 1913 show: Number of acres, 18,302, value, $295,250; houses and lots, 7, valued at $1,330, average $190; horses, 286, valued at $12,205; average $42.63; cows, 342, value $5,160, average, $15.08; taxable occupations, 427, amount, $4785; total valuation, $320,605. Money at interest, $18,731.
The facts relative to schools which existed before the adoption of the common school system, which the writer has been able to collect, are meager. There was, as he is informed, one of those early schools in a log schoolhouse situated about fifty rods south of Garrett's run and about a mile and fifty or sixty rods east of the Manor township line, and another about a mile and a half southwest of the former and two hundred rods east of the above-mentioned line, in the Hileman settlement, or about a hundred rods south of Emmanuel Church. The names of early teachers met with are those of George Forster and George Leighley.
After the adoption of the common school system the requisite number of log houses were erected, at the usual distances from one another, over the townshp, which have finally been replaced by frame ones.
In 1860 the number of schools was 8; average number months taught, 4; male teachers, 6; female teachers, 2; average monthly salaries of male teachers, $16.67; average monthly salaries of female teachers, $16.00; number male scholars, 155; number female scholars, 158; average number attending school, 251; cost of teaching each per month, 45 cents; amount levied for school purposes, $715.53; received from State appropriation, $89.89; from collector, $715.53; cost of instruction, $528; fuel and contingencies, $43.76, repairs, etc., $10.
In 1876 the number of schools was 9; average number months taught, 5; male teachers, 5; female teachers, 4; average monthly salaries of male teachers, $27.20; average monthly salaries of female teachers, $25.50; male scholars, 264; female scholars, 199; average number attending school, 288; cost per month, 61 cents, amount tax levied for school and building purposes, $1,138.55; received from State appropriation, $332.94; from taxes and other sources, $1,357.25; cost of schoolhouses, $78.23; paid for teachers' wages, $1,272.50; for fuel, collector's fees, etc., $197.58.
In 1913 the number of schools was 12, average months taught, 7; female teachers, 12; average salaries, female, $43.33; male scholars, 122,; female scholars, 98; average attendance, 177; cost per month, $285; tax levied, $3,020.47; received from State, $1,961.60; other sources, $3,583.53; value of schoolhouses, $6,300; teachers' wages, $3,640; fuel, fees, etc., $1,352.12.
The school directors were: H. B. Faith, president; S. E. Hileman, secretary; J. E. Hileman, treasurer; O. T. Miller, D. A. Graham.
Blanket Hill postoffice was established May 1, 1850 and John M. Daily was appointed post master. He kept it at "Graham's," on the Christopher Oury tract, whence it was afterward removed to the settlement of that name on the Elderton and Kittanning Pike. This is the location of the famous fight of Lieut. James Hogg with the Indians, in 1756, in which he was mortally wounded. Many relics of that event have since been plowed up in this vicinity. Mrs. Mary J. Blose was the last postmistress here in 1890, before the rural routes were established.
In 1861-62 Charles B. Schotte began to extensively enlarge and improve the culture of fruit and garden products on his farm, which he purchased in 1855 and which consisted of parts of the John Pomeroy and Frederick Rohrer tracts. He planted from eight to ten thousand fruit trees of various kinds, among which were many imported from the largest nurseries and gardens in Europe. Among his importations were different kinds of apple trees from Russia, which he received through the kind offices of Andrew G. Curtin, who was the minister of the United States to that country; various kinds of fruits, including the small fruits, from the Botanical Gardens at Berlin, and numerous other specimens of novel productions from abroad, obtained through the Agricultural Department at Washington for experimental purposes. The various fruits of California and Oregon were also well represented in the Humboldt Gardens. The enterprise, thus inaugurated, lasted only during Mr. Schotte's life. The gardens were sold in 1898 to George F. Rohrer, who sold the land and gardens in 1913 to Andrew Hartman, who is engaged in general farming.
Mr. Schotte was also noted as one of the greatest musicians in Armstrong County.
The geological features of this township are similar to those of Cowanshannock and Plum Creek. The Greendale anticlinal, the fifth, which is the axis of the fourth, basin crosses this township diagonally from northeast to southwest, striking the northern boundary line nearly two miles west of its eastern terminus and its western boundary a mile and a half north of its southern terminus. The major part of the township is, then, on the northern slope of the fourth basin, and the rest of it on the southeastern slope of the fifth basin.
It is interesting that the highest point in this township should be Blanket Hill. It is almost in the center of the township and is 1,609 feet above the level of the ocean.
Source: Page(s) 211-230, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 19114.
Transcribed July 1998 by James R. Hindman for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by James R. Hindman for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)
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