Chapter 33
Red Bank Township



The present township of Red Bank contains only about one sixth or one seventh of the territory included within its former limits. All of Red Bank and Mahoning and a part of Madison townships in this county, and all of Red Bank, Porter, Monroe, Limestone, Clarion and Mill Creek townships in Clarion county were included in the original township of Red Bank.

The name of this township is of course derived from Red Bank creek. The Indian name of this stream was Lycamahoning, derived from Lycoming and Mahoning -- the former corrupted from Legauihanne, a sandy stream; the latter corrupted from Mahonink, signifying where there is a lick. Lycamahoning, then, must mean a sandy stream flowing from a lick, that is, Sandy Lick, which was the name of this stream as late as 1792 from its source to its mouth, according to Reading Howell's map of that year. It bore that name even later. By the act of Assembly of March 21, 1798, "Sandy Lick or Red Bank creek" was declared to be a public stream or highway "from the mouth up to the second or great fork."

Its original name was changed to Red Bank, by which it has been known by the oldest inhabitants now living in the region through which it flows. Perhaps the change may have been suggested by the red color of the soil of its banks many miles up from its mouth. This stream was first used by Joseph Barnett for the transportation of lumber in 1806.


Barnett, the first white settler in Jefferson county, Pa., settled at Port Barnett in that county prior to 1799. He and his brother-in-law, John Scott, erected a sawmill there in the spring or early part of summer in 1806. Several Indians were there the day the mill was raised, whom Barnett invited to dine with him. They accepted his invitation. After dinner one of them remarked, "Dinner -- Indian sleep an hour -- then strong." They then went off into the woods, their host supposing that he would not see them again that day. They, however, returned in the course of an hour and vigorously aided in raising the mill and partook of supper. The first lot of lumber which Barnett and Scott sent down the Red Bank was a small platform of timber, which Clark aided in running to the Allegheny river with poles instead of oars as the propelling power. This was a rough stream, on which rafting was then very difficult. Iron used to be transported in those early times on packhorses, in wagons, and on sleds from Center county to Port Barnett, some of which was sent down this creek on rafts which were occasionally wrecked on a bar between Timber Island and the river. As the iron was thus scattered about on that bar it received and it has retained the name of "Iron bar."


There was a high flood in this stream in 1806 which reached eight to ten feet up the trees on the flat where Fairmount now is, as related by Lewis Daubenspecht, who saw the grass, sticks and other drift which the Indians told him were lodged in the forks of these trees when that flood subsided. There were twenty-one feet of water on the riffle at New Bethlehem, Oct. 8, 1847, which swept away bridges, Hass', Knapp's, and Robinson's mills and milldams. Another one, Sept. 28-29, 1861, twenty two feet high, did less damage than the preceding one. These floods were greatly exceeded by that of 1912, which reached the highest point ever known in the county's history.

In 1817 an act of Assembly was passed, appropriating $1,000 for the purpose of improving this creek, and Levi Gibson and Samuel C. Orr were appointed commissioners.

That act also made it lawful for all persons owning lands adjoining this stream to erect milldams across it, and other waterworks along it, to keep them in good repair, and draw off enough water to operate them on their own land, but required them "to make a slope from the top, descending fifteen feet for every foot the dam is high, and not less than forty feet in breadth," so as to afford a good navigation and not to infringe the rights and privileges of any owner of private property.

The first flatboat fleet that descended this stream was piloted by Samuel Knapp, in full Indian costume, in 1832 or 1833 -- two boats loaded with sawed lumber, owned by Uriah Matson, which found a good market in Cincinnati, with the proceeds of which Matson purchased the goods with which he opened his store at Brookville, Jefferson county.

By the act of Assembly April 17, 1854, the Red Bank Navigation Company was incorporated, and authorized, among other things, to clean and clear the Red Bank, Sandy Lick and North Fork creeks of all rocks, bars and other obstructions; to erect other dams and locks; to regulate the chutes of dams; to control the waters by brackets and otherwise for the purpose of navigation; to levy tolls on boards and other sawed stuff, square and other timber, and boats that might pass down these creeks, to be collected at the mouth of Red Bank. The company had begun the work of improvement before the charter was granted, and had already expended over $8,000. Much of the blasting between New Bethlehem and the mouth of the creek was done by Lewis W. Corbett in 1850.


Some of the settlers of this township at different periods were: Joshua Anderson, Jacob Shick, Henry Nulf, James Coulter, William Freas, Stephen B. Young, Robert Morrison, Hugh Campbell, Alexander Colwell, Thomas Hamilton, Alexander Craig, Thomas McConnell, Frederick Yount, Isaac Redinger, David Yerger, John Organ, James Morgan, Charles Coleman, Arthur Fleming, Henry Featter, James Kerr, John Holwig, Joseph Lankert, Peter Gearhart, Hugh Martin, John McDonald, William Hannegan, Andrew Guthrie, George Wheatcroft, Philip Kuntzleman, Isaac Cruse, Samuel Craig, George Weinberg, John Holben, Charles Miller, George Geist, George Mitchell, John Shirey, Jonathan Mahoney, John Hess, Jacob Stohlman.

The isolation of this part of the county and the frequent incursions of the Indians prevented the settlement of Red Bank township till long after other parts had been well supplied with homesteaders.

Philip Mechling, who died in 1883, remembers seeing but one house between Yost Smith's ferry on the Red Bank, in the northwestern part, and Martin's ferry, on the Mahoning, in the southeastern part, of this township, as he passed from one to the other when he was collecting the United States internal revenue tax in 1817-18, which was in the vicinity of the latter ferry. There was but a slight increase of population throughout this township until after the resumption of the sale of the Holland Lands in1830.

One of the first settlers on Red Bank was Yost Smith, in 1807, who located at the point where once existed an Indian village called "Old Town." Smith's place was a popular resort for lumbermen in the early days of rafting, owing to the brand of whiskey dispensed by him and the excellent cooking of his wife.

Peter Stone settled near Smith's in 1815 and ran a ferry at that point until 1827.

A ferry on the Mahoning near the present town of Independence was established in 1803 by Hugh Martin. His outfit consisted of one canoe, and the assessors did not deem it of sufficient value to assess it.

A flaxseed mill was erected by William Freas in 1825 on Red Bank creek and operated until 1834. The first gristmill was put in operation in 1836 by Adam Beck, on the Mahoning near the site of the present town of Eddyville. He afterward added a distillery.

In 1833 Isaac Redinger put up a sawmill near the present site of North Freedom. Another mill was operated in 1849 by McCrea & Galbraith on the Mahoning, near the site of Phoenix furnace. Daniel Hough started the first tannery in 1842. Salt works were worked on the east side of the Mahoning in 1868, near the furnace, producing an average of eight barrels per day. The well, 425 feet deep, was drilled by John Mock.


Phoenix furnace was located in1846 near the eastern line of the township, close to the corners of Jefferson and Indiana counties, on the Mahoning. The first owners were Henry Smith, W. B. Travis, Jonathan Grider and Andrew G. Workman. It was operated in 1849 by Smith & Guthrie, and in 1850 by George B. McFarland. This furnace was distinguished from its use of the red hematite ore found near Milton on the lands of Hugh Allen and Wesley Coleman. This ore was lean and of poorer quality than the buhrstone usually available elsewhere, so, lacking the latter and dependent entirely upon the former, the furnace was closed down in 1853, after an unsuccessful run. The methods of operation were similar to those of the other furnaces in the county.

McCrea furnace was built in 1857 by McCrea & Galbraith on the Mahoning. It was similar to the Phoenix and ran the same course, with the exception of using buhrstone ore. The town of McCrea furnace marks its site.


The first attempt at founding a town was made by Archibald Glenn, who , in 1844, laid out the village of Presque Isle, probably named from the fort of that name located in 1753, at the present site of Erie. James Stewart platted the prospective town, and the first house was erected in 1852. Assessment lists are poor sources of information regarding the location of a place, for there are no definite details respecting "Presque Isle City," as it was called in1853, to be obtained from the books of that year, and until 1858, when the last report was made. From statements of early settlers this little place is supposed to have been located on or near the present settlement of McGregor. For some reason the projected town did not grow. It reached its greatest size in 1858, when the taxables were fifteen and property valuation $1,303. The next year, however, the taxables were only two and the valuation $283. Thereafter, like a ghost, it disappeared from the rolls and the memory of the "oldest inhabitant."


In 1827 Tobias Shick settled on the tract north of the center of the township on the west end of which in 1850 was laid out the town of New Salem. The first separate assessment was for the year of 1853, when there were one church, one physician -- Dr. Alex P. Albright, a "Know Nothing," one carpenter and seventeen other taxables. The total valuation then was $1,270.

The Evangelical, or "Albright Methodist," called the Salem Church, at this place was organized by Rev. Daniel Long about 1851, and its frame edifice was erected the next year, when the membership was about fifty. In 1876 it was 400, and they owned a parsonage. Services were held here occasionally in later years.

The United Evangelical Lutheran Church is also located here, the building having been erected in1893. The pastor now is Rev. J. T. Shaffer.

The first dwelling house (including a storeroom) was built by Jonathan Houpt, the second by Peter Aulenbaucher, and the third by William Buffington and Adam Miller. The Pierce post office was established here Dec. 14, 1857, Solomon Wyant postmaster, whose successors up to 1876 were William Buffington and Peter Hoch. The latter is still in business here. The present postmaster is William H. Copenhaver. Another storekeeper is W. E. Miller.

The assessment list for 1876 shows: Preacher, 1; school teacher, 1; blacksmiths, 2; shoemakers, 2. Number of taxables, 23, representing a population of 105. One of the citizens of this place, William Buffington, was elected county commissioner in 1872, and re-elected in 1875. One of the Red Bank district schoolhouses is situated in the upper part of this town, a short distance west of the church, near the intersection of the public roads.


At the juncture of Pine run and the Mahoning is an eddy which was called Kuhn's Eddy, from John Kuhn, who settled there in 1838 and built a sawmill, which was afterward successively the property of Isaac Butler, James E. Brown, Adam Beck, Francis Dobbs, John Bechtel, Jeremiah Bonner and George D. Smith, up to 1872. Just previous to Kuhn's settlement Adam Beck had put up a gristmill near the same location.

These industries attracted settlers, and in 1857 the town of Eddyville was established with Turney S. Orr as postmaster. In 1876 it had, besides the two mills, a distillery, a store, a boatyard, a blacksmith shop and about a dozen houses.

St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized as a union congregation between 1839 and 1842. The exact date is not known. At that time Rev. Jacob F. Diefenbacher, a Reformed clergyman, ministered to the congregation. His successor was Rev. John Althouse, of the same denomination. The first Lutheran pastor was Rev. John G. Young, who preached occasionally in the German language, between 1848 and 1864. Services were held in the home of J. D. Smith, one and a half miles north of Eddyville. Two Sunday schools were operated, one in Foreman's schoolhouse, under Archie Glenn, and the other in Fleming's schoolhouse, nearer town, under the charge of Mr. Fleming. When the first church was built Mr. Glenn assumed the entire charge of the school. In 1900 Rev. Charles E. Berkey reorganized the school as a strictly Lutheran one.

Among the earliest members of the congregation were the Nulf, Smith, Beck, Daubenspecht, Long, Holibaugh, Rugh and Rumbaugh families. A complete list is not at hand. About 1865 the two denominations erected their first home, a wooden one. It was used until 1903, when the Lutherans withdrew and built a $3,000 church at Eddyville. The Reformed congregation rebuilt the church and remained at the old location, which is on the hill above the Mahoning creek, in Mahoning township. This church is served by Rev. H. S. Garner of Dayton.

The pastors of the Lutherans have been Revs. J. G. Young, 1848-64; Henry Gathers, 1864-68; H. Fetzer, 1868-71; W. E. Crebs, 1871-73; David Townsend, 1873-75; Wilson Selner, 1875-81; Elias A. Best, 1883-86; vacant from 1886 to 1893; William J Bucher, 1893-97; F. J. Matter, 1897-1900; C. E. Berkey, 1900-03; W. B. Clancy, 1903-10; The present pastor is Rev. William E. Sunday. The church membership is 40, and the Sabbath school, 50.


The year 1855 saw the birth of this town, which is located in the deep bend of the Mahoning at the extreme southern end of the township, cutting a corner out of Wayne township. By the assessment rolls of 1859 it contained five taxables, one sawmill, a foundry and a blacksmith shop. The valuation that year was $1,245. The last separate assessment the next year gave practically the same figures. Michael Hileman built the sawmill in 1853. Isaac Hopkins started the foundry in 1852. These industries were successively owned by Glenn, Hopkins & Co., 1859; E. V. Thomas, 1861; Hopkins & Lamb, 1865, and Hopkins & Thompson, 1867-78. Michael Smith operates the foundry now, producing stove castings and doing general repairs. There are few houses there now, and no stores or churches. Milton, Wayne township, across the creek, supplies the inhabitants with the necessities of life.



The fine mill site at the junction of Mudlick creek and Pine creek attracted the attention of Adam Smith in 1854 and here he built a dam, ran a sluice over the edge of a hill and erected a gristmill in the forks, adding soon thereafter a store. He had settled here in 1830 and by 1844 his house was the place of holding township elections. According to the assessment list of 1862 the town which had grown up at this point was called "Charleston," and contained the mill, ten dwellings, a schoolhouse, sawmill, blacksmith shop and a distillery, owned by John W. Smith & Bro. In 1864 the gristmill was owned by Charles W. Ellenberger. It was later run by W. M. Brocius, but is now idle. The sawmill was also operated by Brocius, who sold it to the Andrews Lumber Company, they operating it till 1907.

The present town is called McWilliams and consists of eight dwelling houses, a store kept by N. M. Richards, a church and a schoolhouse. The United Evangelical church was built in 1894 and the present pastor is Rev. Robert Schaffer.

None of the industries are now in operation and the dam has been destroyed.


The tract on which the flourishing town of North Freedom is situated was settled in 1833 by Isaac Redinger, who built the sawmill there. In 1871 Jonathan Yount founded the town and named it. Its site is in the northeastern corner of the township, on the Jefferson county line. In 1880 it contained about twenty houses, a postoffice (established in 1878), two stores and a church, erected in 1848 by the German Reformed and Lutheran denominations jointly. The first Lutheran pastor was Rev. J. G. Young and the Reformed, Rev. L. D. Lateman. The joint building committee was composed of George Coleman and Peter Minnich, Lutheran, and John Shirey and Jacob Zeats, Reformed. These congregations have since divided and built separate homes. George W. Baughman is the present storekeeper. The pastor of the Reformed church is H. A. Hartman. The Lutheran church is not in use now.


This attractive little town is built on the southern shore of Red Bank creek, in the northwest corner of this township. The name is singularly appropriate, even at the present date, for all of the great oaks of the past are not yet cut away, a few remaining to uphold the honor of the name.

Emanual Evangelical church is situated near this town. It was built in 1851, is of brick and quite well preserved. The building committee of the date of its birth were George Coleman, Philip Houpt, Jacob Shelly and Jacob Shick, and the first pastor was Rev. J. G. Young. Occasional services are held there now.

This section is quite an educational center, having three schools in a radius of three miles, and much rivalry is exhibited in the competition for first position on the monthly reports. The teachers at present session are Miss Emma Brocius, No. 1; Miss Margaret Robinson, No. 2; Mr. W. Drummond, No. 3.

M. F. Smith is the postmaster at Oak Ridge and David Wolff has the principal store here.


This settlement, which will probably grow into a town in a few years, was started in 1913 by the opening of Cobaugh Colliery Company's mines, which were idle for eight years past. The former owners worked out four veins and abandoned operations owing to failure to obtain new leases. Their rights and plant have been purchased by the Pine Run Coal Company, who are preparing to open several new mines and are building homes for the operatives. Two enterprising young men, D. B. Procius of New Bethlehem, and M. M. Shick of Mudlick, have opened the first store at the latter place.


The assessment list of this township, exclusive of Freedom, Milton and New Salem, for 1876, exclusive of farmers, shows: County superintendent, 1; physician, 1; school teachers, 2; blacksmiths, 4; carpenters, 3; merchant, 1; mason, 1; millers, 2; machinist, 1; laborers, 10; wagonmaker, 1. According to the mercantile appraiser's list there were five merchants, all in the fourteenth class.

The first census taken after Red Bank township was reduced to its present area by the organization of other townships was that of 1860, which shows its population then to have been: White, 1,304; colored, 1. In 1870: native, 1,335; foreign, 6. The number of taxables, including those of the above-mentioned towns, in 1876, was 376, representing a population of 1,729.

In 1890 the population was 1,892; in 1900 it was 2,289; and in 1910 it was 2,079.

The assessment returns for 1913 show: Number of acres, timber, 5,526, cleared, 13,602, valued at $206,706; houses and lots, 232, value, $37,165, average, $160.19; horses, 394, value, $19,380, average, $49.18; cows, 409, value, $5,858, average, $14.32; taxable occupations, 641, amount, $12,025; total valuation, $285,601. Money at interest, $42,941.


The first little log schoolhouse in the township was on Red Bank creek, near the present town of Oak Ridge, and was built in 1828. Another was put up on the site of the present one at North Freedom in 1833.

In 1860 the number of schools was 10; average number of months taught, 4; male teachers, 8; female, 2; average salaries male teachers per month, $17; female teachers, $17; male scholars, 240; female scholars, 200; average number attending school, 266; cost of teaching each scholar per month, 43 cents; amount levied for school purposes, $900; received from State appropriations, $79.59; from collectors, $1,200; cost of instruction, $664; fuel, etc., $90; repairing schoolhouses, etc., $40.

In 1876 the number of schools was 12; average number of months taught, 5; male teachers, 12; average monthly salaries, $27.50; male scholars, 241; female scholars, 244; average number attending school, 343; cost per month, 70 cents; amount tax levied for school and building purposes, $1,772.84; received from State appropriations, $314.31; from taxes and other sources, $1,973.04; cost of schoolhouses, repairs, etc., $88.68; paid teachers' wages, $1,625; fuel, etc., $228.30.

In 1913 the number of schools was 15; months taught, 7; male teachers, 6; female teachers, 9; average salaries, male, $43.33; female, $45.55; male scholars, 269; female scholars, 245; average attendance, 349; cost per month, each scholar, $1.53; tax levied, $3,061.73; received from State, $3,263.06; other sources $3,571.26; value of schoolhouses, $9,000; teachers' wages, $4,690; other expenses, $1,218.81.

The school directors are: H. E. Gruber, president; C. E. Shaffer, secretary; R. H. F. Miller, treasurer; David Wolfe, B. F. Geist.


The geological features of this township are generally indicated by the following section, obtained above Smith's sawmill on Pine run: Sandstone, 10 feet; upper Freeport coal, 5 feet, 8 inches; olive shale, 10 feet; Freeport sandstone, blue shale, 10 feet; lower Freeport coal, shale, 5 feet; sandstone (Freeport), 73 feet; black slate, four feet; Kittanning coal, 3 feet; olive shale, 20 feet; ferriferous limestone, 8 feet; 80 feet above the run by estimation.

Furthermore, near the forks of the Mahoning and Little Mahoning the Freeport limestone appears eighty feet above the water. At the crossing of the Elderton road, over the Mahoning creek, the strata begin to dip more steeply and soon the ferriferous limestone and its overlying Kittanning coal rise from the water. The upper Freeport coal is seen a little east of the road, 150 or 200 feet above the creek, the Freeport limestone occurring at a lower level opposite. The Greendale anticlinal crosses somewhat below Glade run, but so rapidly does it decline, like all the others, to the southwest, that on the Cowanshannock it does not lift the ferriferous limestone to water level, although where the axis crosses the Mahoning that bed is at a considerable height in the hillsides.

The rocks here represented above water level belong mainly to the lower productive group, the lower barrens being scarcely seen at all within the limits of the township. The conglomerate and sub-conglomerate rocks make the lower portions of the slopes along Mahoning creek, as explained in the sketch of Wayne township, and the same rocks are seen occupying the same positions past Eddyville and so on to the mouth of Little Mud Lick. Similar conditions prevail along Red Bank creek, but the structure necessitates a much less area for their exposure there. Thus the ferriferous limestone remains high above the water level of the Mahoning along the southern edge of the township, while along the Red Bank it gradually approaches the creek, which it finally touches below McWilliams. Very little of the upper Freeport coal is represented, there being only a few isolated knobs high enough to hold it. A few such knobs are found southeast of Pierce, a few more west of this village, while at the western edge of the township the coal is brought down from its high level to dip under the western side of the valley of Little Mud Lick. Wherever found it is a workable coal-bed and is usually accompanied by its limestone. The lower Freeport coal is also present but unimportant. The upper Kittanning coal here assumes its cannel feature over a considerable area, and it has been repeatedly opened by the farmers. The cannel portions of the bed are from ten to twelve feet thick, and here and there quite good, though very slaty. The whole nature of the deposit makes the bed unreliable in point of persistency. The lower Kittanning coal is three feet thick. The ferriferous limestone is from eight to ten feet thick, and so favorably situated on the hills that it can be cheaply worked for quarry lime. Little use of it has, however, been made.

The elevation above ocean level at Maysville is 1,107 feet; at Pine run, 1,100; at Millville, 1,092; at Indiantown run, 1,089 feet.

The loftiest point in the township is reached near Camp run, in the western end, and is 1,566 feet above the sea.

Source: Page(s) 245-251, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 19114.
Transcribed July 2001 by James R. Hindman for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by James R. Hindman for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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