Chapter 35
Madison Township



This township was named after James Madison, fourth president of the United States, and was formed from parts of Toby and Red Bank townships in 1837. The boundaries at its formation included the territory north of Red Bank creek, which is now in Clarion county, and in 1851 it was shorn of more land in the formation of Mahoning township.

The station of Mahoning on the Shawmut railroad, at the mouth of the Mahoning creek, is just opposite the site of the famous fight of Capt. Samuel Brady in 1779, an account of which will be found in the first chapter of this volume.

Colonel Brodhead, on his expedition against the Seneca and Muncy Indians, in 1779, passed through the western end of this township. A complete description of this expedition will be found in a previous chapter.


The earliest settler in that portion of the township where these events occurred was Samuel Adams, who was assessed with twenty acres of land and a blacksmith shop in 1824. He afterward removed to the great bend in Red Bank creek in Mahoning township. The site of Brady�s fight was occupied by a store, warehouse and steamboat wharf in 1848. A hotel was built in 1849, which with the warehouse was burned in 1852. A larger structure was soon erected, and for years was used as a dining place for stage passengers from Kittanning to Brookville and Clarion. Before the railroad was completed to this point large quantities of freight were landed here and the many lumbermen and travelers who made this their stopping place caused the old battlefield to be for a time a busy mart of commerce. It will soon see a resumption of trade when the full effects of the new service of the Shawmut railroad are felt.

In 1872 quite a settlement arose near the mouth oft he Mahoning from the opening of the coal mines of the Mahoning Coal Company. It was called Orrsville, but the closing of the mines in 1880 signed its death warrant. Some of the early landowners in this township were:

Robert Hooks

William Hooks

Samuel T. Crow

Elijah French

Benedict Haas,  Isaac Cousins  George O. Young Christopher Byerly
Henry Riegele  John Rimer David Cowan Andrew Earley
Christopher Ruffner  Aaron Jeffries  Samuel Earley,   Richard Reynolds,
Andrew Schall Philip Essex Benjamin Leasure  Fleming Davidson
Charles Edwards  George Howk,   Joseph Cook Joseph Davis
Richard B. McCabe  Christopher Repine James Hannegan Alexander Colwell
Jacob Moyers  Sommers Baldwin Philip Essex Jacob Christman
John Reed  David Lawson  Jacob Bowser  Philip Anthony
Joseph Moorhead George Nulf Jeremiah Bonner Thomas Black
 Daniel Reedy James Delp William Paine David Shields
John Switzer Owen Meredith Philip Bish George Kogh
George Arnold Jacob F. Keller  Caspar Beer Samuel Cassat
John Shobert Joshua Baughman Fayette Ely Jacob Pettigrew,
Hewlett Smith Charles B. Schotte John Mulholland, Oliver Gray
George Craig James Coat Gabriel P. Lobeau  John Harman
Robert Dixon John Hardy John Wilkins


It is interesting to note that the first gristmill was built by a colored man, Thomas Ramsey, who sold it to Samuel T. Crow in 1832. It seems he was as improvident as some members of his race are at the present time. �Big� George Craig aided in the erection of the mill, which was a log one, with two runs of stone. It is related that he carried the �summer beam�, 25 feet long and 18 inches square, on his shoulder up the side of the building, the others steadying it with pike poles and set into position. David Cowan in 1842 was assessed with this mill, to which had been added a sawmill. It finally became part of the Furnace run property in 1849. The ruins of the old mill still stand near the village of Hooks.

Another gristmill was built by John Shobert in 1840 on the run southeast of the town of Kellersburg.


The old Red Bank Furnace was built in 1841 by Alexander Reynolds and Christian Shunk on the bank of that creek near its mouth. Shunk retired soon after the furnace went into blast, and was succeeded by David Tichey. The firm name was then Reynolds & Richey until the furnace ceased to be operated in 1853. It was a steam, cold blast, charcoal furnace, 9 feet in the bosh by 32 feet high, and made, on an average, 50 tons of pig metal a week, giving employment, on an average, to 150 persons, and was in the end a source of profit to its proprietors, who purchased a large quantity of land in the circumjacent region, considerable portions of which they later sold at a reasonable advance.

The second Red Bank Furnace was erected by Alexander Reynolds and the late Thomas McCullough, in 1858, on the tract originally owned by James Watterson, about 300 yards above the mouth of Red Bank, in Clarion county, just below the neck of Brady�s Bend, a large portion of its supplies being obtained from this county. It was the first coke furnace near the Allegheny river. The proprietors met with some difficulty in finding a ready market on this side of the mountains for their coke-made iron. Its last owners were Reynolds & Moorhead.

Aaron Whittaker, John Jamison and George Leslie built the American furnace on the site of the present town of Rimerton in 1846. John Rimer was the last to operate it in 1860. It was slightly smaller than Red Bank furnace and the output was 33 tons per week. Like the latter, it was changed to coke burning, but never became a paying investment.


This place was first assessed in 1867, when there were 19 taxables, one innkeeper, one merchant, and one laborer. The real estate valuation was $2,229, personal, $44, and the occupations, $150. John Rimer was the first postmaster. In 1880 there was no increase in the population or extent of the town. Rev. B.B. Killikelly preached here in 1853. In 1913, the town consisted of twelve houses, a hotel, kept by C.J. Zeis, and two stores, of which G.W. Clouse & Co. and Frank Mast are the proprietors. The latter is postmaster. A station of the Pennsylvania railroad is located here.


This little settlement consisted originally of twenty-three lots, on both sides oft he Olean road in the eastern part of the township, and was founded by Nicholas Keller, Sr., in 1842. He had all the instincts of a modern real estate speculator, for the tradition says that he got out posters, hired John Campbell to play the fiddle and supplied free whisky to prospective purchasers. Under these inspirations he managed to dispose of his lots at $20 and $30, good prices for those days. He retained five-sixteenths of an acre for his hotel and store.

The first separate assessment list was of twenty-two unseated lots at $10 each, 1845. The next year sixteen unseated lots were assessed at $20 each, and six at $15 each. In 1876 the number of taxable was 21; minister, 1; laborers, 4; miners, 2; shoemakers, 2; blacksmith, 1; merchant, 1. The real estate was valued at $2,780; and personal property and occupations at $595.

Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church is one oft he oldest of the faith in the county, having been organized as far back as 1836 by Rev. G.A. Reichert. The deed of the church lands from the Holland Company is dated March 11, 1833, and is in favor of Jacob Myers and Nicholas Rhodes, �trustees of the Congregation of Mahoning�. That tract consisted of over seven acres, and was for a burial ground and the erection of a house of worship. The first house built upon the church land was a plain log one, dated in 1838, and is older than the town of Kellersburg. In 1848 the log church was vacated for a better one of frame construction. It was for a long time unfinished and the seats were plain slabs, but in 1873 it was thoroughly repaired and rededicated. In this building the people worshiped until 1891, when a $2,000 frame structure, the present one, was built. During the early years of the town�s history both the Presbyterians and the Methodists used the building of the Lutherans, as there was no suitable house near the settlement.

The pastors from the beginning have been: Rev. G.A. Reichert, 1832-37; Rev. Henry D. Keyl, occasionally from 1838 to 1842; Rev. William Uhl, 1846-48; Rev. J.A. Nuner, 1849-51; Rev. Thomas Stock, 1851-54; Rev. George F. Ehrenfeld, 1854-55; Rev. Thomas Steck, 1856; Rev. Michael Sweigert, 1858-64; Rev. Henry Gathers, 1864-68; Rev. S.S. Stouffer, 1870; Rev. William E. Crebs, 1871-73; Rev. David Townsend, 1873-74; Rev. Wilson Selner, 1875-81; Rev. Elias A. Best, 1883-86; Rev. J.W. Schwartz, 1889-92; Rev. W.M. Hering, 1892-93; Rev. William J. Bucher, 1893-97; Rev. F.J. Matter, 1897-1900; Rev. Charles E. Berkey, 1900-03; Rev. W.B. Claney, 1903-10; Rev. William E. Sunday is the present pastor. The membership is now 36, and the Sabbath school has 95 attendants.

The Methodists have a substantial house of worship, built in 1871. The congregation is supplied from Widnoon, and the present pastor is Rev. John Wall.

There are two stores at this place in 1913, one of them kept by A.M. Willison, who is also postmaster. There are no industries.


The village of Widnoon, formerly called Duncanville, after James Duncan, who was first assessed with a store there in 1854, is located practically in the center of the township. The second storekeeper in 1855 was Jeremiah Bonner, He was succeeded by Bonner & Duncan, and then in 1868 by Thomas Meredith, who conducted it until 1882, when he was succeeded by his widow. She carried the then extensive business on until 1885, when her son, Thorett T., was taken in as partner, under the firm name of M. Meredith & Son. Thorett T. Meredith become sole owner in 1890, and has developed the business into the second largest in the county. Until the construction of the Shawmut railroad in 1913, Mr. Meredith had to haul his supplies from Mahoning over some of the worst roads in the county, yet he has kept his customers and is steadily increasing the circle as the years go by. Mr. Meredith has been the postmaster here for twenty-eight years.

The elections have been held here since the organization of Clarion county. Here, too, for many years was the site of one of the public schoolhouses of this township, in which, after 1854, the annual examinations of teachers were held. It was situated west of the Lawsonham road in a grove, and, like some others of that period, was a shell that should have been replaced by a better one much sooner than it was. Its successor, a comfortable frame structure, is situated at the crossroads, about eighty rods southeast of Widnoon.

The United Brethren and the Presbyterians had organized churches here and houses of worship in 1878. The Methodists now have a neat church, the pastor of which is Rev. John Wall. Grace Reformed Church is under the charge of Rev. R.V. Hartman, of Rimersburg. The Brethren and Presbyterian Churches are not in use now.


In the extreme eastern end of this township, near the line of the township of Red Bank, is the village of Deanville, so called from a Baptist clergyman, Rev. J.F. Dean, who preached there in 1877. Isaac E. Shoemaker opened a store here in 1868, and shortly thereafter there sprung up the little town of Centerville, containing about a dozen buildings, among them one of the public schoolhouses.

It is said that this town was named Centerville because its position is about central on one of the routes between Kellersburg in this and Oakland in Mahoning township. Mail matter from several post offices was brought for awhile by private conveyances to Shoemaker�s store for persons living at Centerville and its vicinity, for which reason it is noted on the township map of 1876 as �Private P.O.�. Deanville post office was established here in 1877 with Isaac E. Shoemaker as postmaster. The first log schoolhouse here was in use as late as 1866.

The Baptists have a neat church edifice here and the pastor in charge is Rev. J.C. Green, of New Bethlehem.

Deanville has the distinction of being an independent school district in 1913. The school directors are: J.S. Griffin, president; N.M. Truitt, secretary; H.H. Shumaker, treasurer; J.S. Moorhead, Christopher Chestnut. The report to Superintendent Patton is as follows: Number of schools in 1913, 1; average months taught, 7; female teachers, 1; average salary, female, $45; male scholars, 20; female scholars, 37; average attendance, 41; cost per month, $1.47; tax levied, $291.45; received from State, $190.06; other sources, $244.63; value of schoolhouses, $1,200; teachers� wages, $315; fuel, fees, etc. $116.14.


Around the blacksmith shop of Louis Shoup in 1871, two miles west of �Duncanville�, grew up a settlement that later on assumed the odd name of �Tidal�. It gained very little population until the advent on the Shawmut road, and the opening of mines at points east of there. It is still a small settlement, with a post office, kept by Samuel Heath.


As the population of the county increased a need was evidenced for a church in the portion lying between Mahoning and Red Bank creeks, so in October, 1843, the Middle Creek Presbyterian Church was organized. The first members were: Elizabeth Gray, Joseph Sowash, Jane Sowash, Henry Heasely, Mary Heasely, John Beham, Annie Beham and Charity Bain.

The pastors and supplies were as follows: Rev. David S. McComb, Rev. E.D. Barrett, Rev. D. McCay, Rev. John Core, Rev. Laverty Grier, Rev. James Montgomery, Rev. William McMichael, Rev. N.M. Crance, Rev. W.P. Moore, Rev. John H. Sherrard, Rev. J.A. E. Simpson, Rev. A. Virtue, Rev. A. S. Hughes.

The church edifice was erected on an acre it purchased from James Duncan in 1854 for $13. It was put up in 1864, at a cost of $1,250, and was 40 by 50 feet, with a 12-foot ceiling. This old edifice was torn down a number of years ago and a new church erected at Tidal, Pa. The pastor at present is Rev. Charles Cochran, of Templeton.


The surface of a large portion of the territory of this township was, when first settled, comparatively sterile. That in the northeastern part, especially in the vicinity of the old Red Bank Furnace, was so much so that it was vulgarly called �Pinchgut�.

Until about 1835 the only other road in this township besides the Olean was the one cut through from Bain�s to Lawsonham. As late as 1839 there were only two wagons in this township.

The most convenient educational facilities enjoyed for several years by the first settlers (Alexander Duncan and others, in the northern part of the township) were afforded by the school on the north side of the Red Bank near where Lawsonham now is, which was first taught by James Hunter, and then by Robert Lawson and others. The first schoolhouse within the present limits of this township was a primitive log one that was built on Elijah French�s farm, about a mile from Gray�s Eddy and a great distance northeast of Rimerton. The first school in that house was taught by Henry Fox, and some of his scholars traveled five miles daily to attend it. The second schoolhouse was similar to that one, and situated near Kellersburg, in which David Truitt was the first teacher. Daylight entered both of those primitive temples of knowledge through greased paper instead of glass. The next was situated about 145 rods west of the present eastern boundary line of this township, �near the present residence of John Bish�. The first under the free school law was situated nearly a mile northwest of the last-mentioned one, on the farm of Henry Pence. Most, if not all, of the rest were the usual log structures.

In 1860 the number of schools was 8; average number of months taught, 4; male teachers, 8, female teacher, 0; average salaries, $17; male scholars, 229; female scholars, 184; average number attending school, 226; cost of teaching each scholar per month, 35 cents; amount levied for school purposes, $784.20; received from State appropriation, $91.87; from collectors, %563; cost of instruction, $546; fuel and contingencies, $37.79; cost of schoolhouses, $15.58.

In 1876 the number of schools was 8; average number of months taught, 5; male teacher, 7, female teachers, 1; average salaries of both male and female, per moth $30; male scholars, 255; female scholars, 256; average number attending school, 119; cost per month, 52 cents; amo9unt of tax levied for school and building purposes, $2,852.06; received from State appropriation, $413.85; from taxes, etc., $3,254.01; cost of schoolhouses, $1,303.17; paid for teachers� wages, $1,243.50; fuel, etc., $1,177.21.

The number of schools in 1913 was 12; average months taught, 7; male teachers, 5, female teachers, 7; average salaries, male, $48, female, $40; male scholars, 228; female scholars, 192; average attendance, 297; cost per month, $2.01; tax levied, $3,664.44; received from State, $2,265.32; other sources, $3,267.78; value of schoolhouses, $12,000; teachers� wages, $3,640; fuel, fees, etc., $2,679.76.

The school directors are: A.L. Hetrick, president; Blain Mast, secretary; G.S. Rebolt, treasurer; D.C. Hawk, Jr., M.W. Hetrick.


Population, including that of the section now included in Mahoning township, in 1850 was: White, 1,142; colored, 9. In 1860: White, 1,140; colored, 0. In 1870: Native, 1,485; foreign, 136. In 1876, number of taxables, 543, representing a population of 2,397.

There were six merchants of the fourteenth class in this township, according to the mercantile appraiser�s list of 1876.

Occupations other than agricultural and mercantile, according to the assessment list of 1876, including the towns: Laborers, 118; miners, 32; carpenters, 4; shoemakers, 3; blacksmiths, 2; miller, 1; minister, 1; mason, 1; section boss, 1; innkeeper, 1; old persons, 5. Of those engaged in agriculture, 7 were assessed as croppers.

In 1890 the population of the township was 1,763; in 1900, it had fallen to 1,604, but in 1910 the inhabitants had increased to 2,318.

The assessment returns for 1913 show: Number of acres, 18,135, value, $209,557; houses and lots, 167, valued at , $33,977, average, $203.45; horses, 260, valued at, $8,045, average, $30.94; cows, 261, value, $3553, average, $1,361; taxable occupations, 732, amount $20,495; total valuation, $355,641. Money at interest, $44,051.30.


The general geological features of this township are: Only lower productive rocs make the uplands. The lower part of the deep valleys, which skirt the township, is composed of conglomerate and subconglomerate rocks. The Upper Freeport coal is represented only in a few knobs in the eastern and western portions of the township, and has there barely enough rock on top of it to protect it from percolating waters. The Lower Kittanning coal is the bed chiefly mined, and is from three to four feet thick. The remaining beds of the series are represented where the land is high enough to include them, but, so far as investigated, they are devoid of importance. The Lower Kittanning coal has been quite extensively developed, it being the bed worked on the property of the Mahoning Coal Company. The ferriferous limestone underlies all the center of the township, and far above water level. The buhrstone ore accompanies it, and thence the supply of Stewardson conglomerate furnace was chiefly derived. The Pottsville conglomerate is above water level throughout the whole length of valleys of the Allegheny, Mahoning and Red Bank in this township, and is nearly three hundred feet above water level at the mouth of Mahoning.


The heights above the ocean in feet and tenths of a foot, at the time of the building of the Allegheny Valley railroad, were: North abutment of Mahoning bridge, lower outside corner, 826.2; upper inside corner, 829.6; opposite Rimerton Station, 836.7; north abutment, lower inside corner, 831.5; south bridge seat, lower inside corner, 836.6; south abutment, lower outside corner, 850.4; south abutment Red Bank bridge, inside corner, 840.4; north abutment, Red Bank bridge, lower end, 849.6; Red Bank junction, 850.8; Fiddler�s run, 915; Lawsonham, 919; Buck Lick run, 939; Rock run, 966; Leatherwood, 1,027.

The highest point in Madison township is in the northeastern part, near Red Bank creek and northeast of Kellersburg. This hill is 1,607 feet above sea level.

Source: Page(s) 258-262, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 19114.
Transcribed August 2001 by Lisa Stroebel for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed by Lisa Stroebel for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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