Chapter 36
Hovey Township

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ONLY A STRIP OF LAND---DR. SIMEON HOVEY---ELISHA ROBINSON---OTHER SETTLERS---THE OIL BOOM---POPULATION---SCHOOLS---ALTITUDE

This tiny strip of land is the northernmost projection of Armstrong county, and is the smallest township in the county, being but little more than half a mile wide and about four miles long. It was taken from the territory of Perry in 1870, and its dimensions were further reduced in the formation of Parker City. Dr. Simeon Hovey, from whom the township acquired its name, was one of the pioneer settlers of this section, coming here in 1797. He was a native of Connecticut, a man of learning and culture and a surgeon of remarkable ability. He served under "Mad Anthony" Wayne as surgeon and later settled in Greensburg, Westmoreland county. From there he came to this county. He did not remain here all of the time, but practiced at intervals at the former place. He was always in demand as a physician, frequently being called into consultation at Kittanning and in the neighboring counties. His whole life was one of usefulness and good works, and no one was better known or more affectionately regarded at that time. He died in 1837, at the age of seventy-eight, leaving no posterity, although he had been married. His nephew, Elisha Robinson, inherited his property. Another early settler in this township was Alexander Gibson, who took up land and improved it, but finally disposed of it to Dr. Hovey. Elisha Robinson, nephew of Dr. Hovey, also from Connecticut, came here in 1812, and soon thereafter started a tannery, where he also made shoes for over fifty years. Coming here with but his hands and a good trade, he finally before his death, in 1874, acquired 1,100 acres of land, besides other interests. He was said by his neighbors to have been honest, upright and kind-hearted. He married a niece of Dr. Hovey's wife and was the father of six children. His descendants now own the farms in the township.
THE OIL BOOM
Upon Mr. Robinson's farm was made the first discovery of petroleum in the county, and many wells were sunk upon his other lands by parties who leased the property on royalty. The Grant farm, in Butler county, was sold by Mr. Robinson for $100 and was never paid for till the discovery of oil upon it. From those wells Mr. Robinson received one-eighth royalty, and during a period of seven months, when production was at its height, he received an income of $40,000 a month. It is estimated that the value of the oil pumped from his land during the period when the boom was on reached the immense total of over $2,000,000. Most of the wells in this section are now dry, and few are yielding over eight barrels per day. All of them are "pumpers." One well opposite Parker is yielding four barrels a day, which has been the regular output ever since it was drilled in 1874. It is pumped at a daily expense of 50 cents, using gas power, and at $2.50 per barrel nets the owner the tidy daily income, every day of the week, of $9.50. It is a better investment than the wildcat wells, which spouted thousands one year and went dry the next. Robert Mena and Hamilton Redick were settlers in early days on a plat that later was owned by Gen. Thomas Graham. Graham had been a general of militia and later a surveyor. After his death the farm was purchased by the Fox heirs and became valuable oil territory. James Fowler bought part of the tract in 1850. Fowler was a native of Butler county. Upon his farm was the town of "Happy Retreat," probably named by those who sought a quiet home away from the disorder and discord of the oil towns. At one time it had a population of 150, several stores and thirty-seven houses. It had the honor of being the only town ever existing in Hovey township. Fields cover part of the site now. John Lowrie, a Scotchman, settled in Butler county, near Emlenton, in 1796. His land extended into Armstrong county and included the upper end of Hovey. He was the father of the late Senator Walter Lowrie. Another son, Hon. Matthew B. Lowrie, was a prominent citizen of Pittsburgh, and the father of the late Judge Lowrie of the Supreme court. A Revolutionary soldier named Joseph Thom was another pioneer settler of this township, and built the first sawmill in this part of the county, on the run which later bore his name. In 1873 a strong iron bridge was built over the Allegheny river to Foxburg, in Clarion county. James Fowler and the Fox estate were the largest stockholders. The total cost was $64,000. The Pittsburgh & Western railroad bought it in 1882 for $50,000, but later replaced it with a wooden one, which was destroyed in a freshet. When the road passed into the hands of the Baltimore & Ohio road it replaced the old structure with another wooden one, now standing.
POPULATION
In 1880, the inhabitants of Hovey numbered 589; in 1890, 346; in 1900, 241; in 1910, 207. There are no settlements within its borders, but two miles of railroad, no stations, no churches, and but two schoolhouses. The assessment returns for 1913 show: Number of acres, 1,146�, valued at $26,779; houses and lots, 24, value, $2,730, average, $88.75; horses, 24, value $940, average, $49.47; cows, 22, value, $510, average, $23.18; taxable occupations, 78, amount, $2,695; total valuation, $33,054. Money at interest, $24, 250.
SCHOOLS
Since 1910 the schoolhouse in Hovey township has been abandoned, the scholars attending the Parker City school nearest to them. The report of the county superintendent for 1913 shows that there were 18 male and 24 female scholars in attendance from this township. The average attendance was 38, the cost per month for each scholar, $1.61; tax levied, $535.71; received from the State, $202.12; from other sources, $636.68; value of schoolhouse, $500; expended for teacher's wages, fuel, fees, etc., $577.47. The school directors of the township are: P. E. Gerber, president; C. D. Elliott, secretary; W. F. Robinson, treasurer; M. C. Holland, J. M. Bell.
ALTITUDE
The highest point in Hovey township is a hill on the western line of Butler county, about the center of the township, north and south, and is 1,440 feet above sea level.

Source: Page(s) 263-264, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 19114.
Transcribed August 2001 by Darlene Nussbaum for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed by Darlene Nussbaum for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

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