Chapter 38
Brady's Bend Township

line

SHORTENING A RAILROAD - CAPT. SAMUEL BRADY - SETTLERS - KAYLOR - INDUSTRIIES - THE BRADY'S BEND IRON WORK - A SAD FINANCIAL WRECK - CHURCHES - PRESENT INDUSTRIES - SCHOOLS - POPULATION

The name of this township is derived from the immense serpentine loop of the Allegheny which forms its eastern boundary and causes the line of the Pennsylvania railroad to almost double upon itself in traversing the inner side of the great bend. However, within a few months after the issue of this history, the trains will run through the great Kennerdell tunnel which is being blasted through the solid rock of the immense hill opposite Brady's Bend, at a cost of about $750,000. The tunnell is 3,700 feet long and will cut off a loop of seven miles. With the improved methods of rock cutting 'in these days it has taken about two years to accomplish work that in early days of railroading would have required six years' time, if it were even considered possible with the crude methods then in use. A town of several hundred people could be formed from the workers and their families, located around this tunnel.

This tunnel will complete the ruin of the little town of Brady's Bend, already the victim of severe misfortune in the past, and will put the thriving borough of East Brady, Clarion county, on a side track. However, it is to be hopped that the Pittsburgh & Bessemer road will see the advantage of extending its line through Brady's Bend and across the neighboring county, thus again putting the two towns on a main line.

The naming of the bend, the township and the formerly populous town is attributed to a desire of the early settlers and their descendants to perpetuate the memory of Capt. Samuel Brady, the famous Indian fighter.

The township was organized in April, 1845, from Sugar Creek, and tire first election was held at the house of John R. Johnston, the result being the installation into office of the following citizens: Joseph King and John A. Thompson, justices of the peace; Daniel B. Balliet, constable; Andrew Kaylor and Andrew McKee, supervisors; Ephraim Myers, judge of election; George Duncan and William Hagerson, inspectors of election; William H. Davis, Daniel Kemerer, Jacob Millison, Robert A. Phillips, John Truby and Simon Wiles, school directors; James E. Crawford and Thomas Donaldson,, overseers of the poor; Thomas S. Johnston, township clerk.

At the spring; election, 1846, the result was: Daniel B. Balliet constable; Peter Kemerer, judge of election - , Leonard Rumbaugh and John Truby, inspectors of election; Andrew Kaylor and Andrew McKee, supervisors; James Summerville, assessor; Joseph King and Matthias C. Sedwick,, assistant assessors; Hugh Moore and John Wiles, township auditors; Samuel M. Bell, Daniel Kemerer, M. C. Sedwick, John A. Thompson and John Truby, school directors - there, was a tie vote between Peter Brenneman and Joseph King; Thomas Donaldson, overseer of the poor - tie vote between Jacob Millison, Patrick Mehan, Andrew McKee and M. C. Sedwick Samuel M. Bell, township clerk; Thos. Donaldson and John Quinn, fence viewers.

SETTLERS

Settlers in what is now - Brady's Bend township, between 1784 and 1850, were:
George King Leonharte Kealor
(later spelled Kaylor) 
David Nixon Abraham Yorkey

Adam Kemmerer

Jacob Allimong

 John Richard

Jonathan King

John Spangler  Alexander Colwell  Daniel Forringer James Forringer
Andrew Kealor  Samuel McCartney Michael Barnhart Isaac Myers,
John Y. McCartney John Wassol Thomas Butler John Linaberger
George Spangler  Henry Sybert David Rumbaugh Adam Sybert
John Truby  John Barnhart Daniel Stannard,  John Well
Benjamin Swain James Summerville John Craword Jonathan Mortimer
William Holder F. W. Redmond Jacob Millison Philander Raymond
 Jacob Hepler John Denniston John Weems Francis Lease
William Ferguson Andrew Grinder  Matthew Pugh Sebastian Sybert
William Benson Thomas Hooks James Barrickman  Paul Wolcot
Randolph Lawrence John Millison Samuel LeFevre Peter Townsend
Philip Templeton Dr. Elisha Wall

KAYLOR

The first gristmill built in the township was .that of Henry Sybert, on Sugar creek, in 1812. He added a sawmill later and after his death in 1830 it came into the bands of the Truby family. Around this mill by 1872 had grown up quite a settlement, with two stores and three hotels. When the Allegheny Western railroad, a branch of the Pittsburgh & Bessemer, came through to Brady's Bend this became the thriving mining town of Kaylor. Peter Brenneman kept the first store there in 1874. In 1913 Kaylor has three stores, two hotels and a Baptist church, of which Rev. M. V. S. Gold is the pastor. Drs. G. A. Knight and C. B. McGogney are the resident physicians and C. B. McDonald is the constable. Kaylor acquired its name from Peter Kealor, who built the first sawmill on this tract in 1817.

INDUSTRIES

In other parts of the township John Richard was first assessed with a carding machine in 1822, the first fulling mill was started in 1844 by Joseph Forringer, and Jonathan Mortimer erected the log gristmill on the run which was later called Holder's run, from William Holder, who several years afterward owned the mill and site. The first distillery in the township was assessed to Henry Sybert, Jr., in 1849. It was situated on the Allegheny near where the Great Western Distilleries plant is now located.

A sandstone quarry on the Allegheny, north of Brady's Bend, was operated in 1857 by John Harrison of Pittsburgh, under lease from William J. Criswell. Some of the stone from this quarry was used in building the jail at Kittanning. A sawmill stood near this quarry in that year. Criswell's granddaughter, Emma, is the wife of Everett C. Hoch of Kittanning.

The first schoolhouse in the township stood on the site of the one now called Pine Run school, and was built while yet within the limits of Sugar Creek township.

Before completing the statistics of the township it will be necessary to give the history of the Brady's Bend Iron Company at the town of that name, as the entire wealth of the township was at one time concentrated in that place and the prosperity of the township, as well as that of the surrounding country, was dependent entirely upon these mills.

BRADY'S BEND IRON WORKS

Sugar creek empties into the Allegheny almost in the western center of the great bend called Brady's, and as if in emulation of its larger parent makes a bend fully as severe just before the waters are mingled. This bend is at right angles with the river and at one point makes so sharp a turn that the shortest route to the town of Brady's Bend is across the steep hill which separates it from the river. The distance around the convolutions of the creek is about two and a half miles, while across the hill it is, but three quarters of a mile.

Along these bends of Sugar creek were distributed the various industries which made up the plant of the iron works. Beginning at the river came first the rolling mill and the machine shop, then around-the turn of the creek were the coke ovens, on the side of the vast hill- and just below them in the valley were the great stone and brick blast furnaces. The coal and iron mines were in the sides of the hills on both banks of Sugar creek. The little narrow-gauge railroad wound its tortuous way around the convolutions of the creekside.

The Great Western Iron Works commenced operations at Brady's Bend in August, 1839, under charge of Philander Raymond. The company acquired possession of several hundred acres of land lying along the valley of Sugar creek, and in that year selected the site of the first blast furnace, which was completed and blown in about Christmas of the following year. A merchant mill was also erected, the first intention being to manufacture merchant iron and nails. Several machines for the latter purpose were erected, but on trial the iron was found got adapted for this branch of manufacture. The manufacture of strap rails was then commenced, and continued until the dissolution of the Great Western Iron Company, in 1843.

The Brady's Bend Iron Company acquired possession of the property in 1844, erecting a second blast furnace, which was completed in 1845. The manufacture of strap rails was continued till 1846, in the latter part of which year the works were altered for the manufacture of T-rails, which continued to be sole product during their succeeding operations. They were entitled to the credit of rolling the first T-rail made west of the Alleghenies.

Alexander Campbell, who rolled the first rail at these works, afterward at the Edgar Thompson Steel Works, in 1876, assisted in rolling a rail which was on, exhibition at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. The latter rail was 120 feet long and weighed 64 pounds to the yard.

With the exception of a short stoppage from the fall of 1848 to the summer of 1849, the works were in prosperous operation until 1858, when, owing to the death of the principal proprietor, they were completely shut down for five years. A new organization was effected in the fall of 1862, and work was commenced in all departments in February, 1863.

In 1864 a narrow-gauge railroad was built to supply the furnaces with ore and haul the product to the Allegheny, where it was transshipped into the keelboats for other points. Up to 1867 this was the only railroad in this section and the rivers were used to a great extent in the iron carrying trade. The assessors' report for 1864 valued the railroad at $10,000, the plant and machinery at $259,000, the total being $269,000. One of the principal stockholders at this time was the late Samuel J. Tilden, one time candidate for the presidency of the United States. The year 1871 was the topmost one in production and the valuation of the plant reached the (at that period) enormous total of $1,292,700. The company had then acquired 6,000 acres of land for the mineral rights, holding title to the surface as well. These lands were valued at $65.63 an acre.

In 1872 there was a slight reduction in value to $889,176. In the next year, however, the storm broke. It was the '73 panic, and the mills could not weather the financial blast and closed down forever in October of that fatal year. To show the rapidity with which misfortune crushes an industry, a few figures from the assessor's books are given. In 1874 the plant was valued thus: Four blast furnaces, rolling mill, machine shop, four oil wells and 6,000 acres of land, $282,663 1878 - Same plant and land, $158,7902. 1879 - Four furnaces, $14,605; rolling mill, $10,954; machine shop, $2,191; wells were drying up. Total, $27,500.

In the assessor's book of 1879 is a sad document. It is the affidavit of F. W. Rhodes, agent for the trustees of the bondholders of the Brady's Bend Iron Company, in which he declares that the assessment of that year was excessive, as the plant had been completely dismantled, the machinery scrapped and sold for $5,000 as old iron, and nothing but the decaying buildings, a few portions of the boiler house and the tall stone chimney were left as momentoes of the great manufacturing plant. In 1880 there were left 10,000 tons of burned iron valued at $10,000. It could not be sold for that sum, however.

So perished in the height of its success an industry which from a small beginning grew to great proportions in thirty-four years and was a blessing to the whole surrounding country, giving employment to from 1,200 to 1,500 operatives, supporting a population of over 5,000, and benefiting not only Armstrong county, but the neighboring counties of Clarion and Butler. The output of coal for the sole use of these works rose to the aggregate of upward of 110,000 tons per annum; of ore, to over 70,000 tons. The product of the mill was shipped to all parts of the country, returning millions of dollars to enrich the laborer, and which, circulating through all the channels of trade, proved a source of wealth to hundreds not connected with, the works. From a dense wilderness sprung up a. town built by the proprietors for their employees, of about seven hundred houses, with churches of every denomination, and schoolhouses which ranked with the best in the county for size and convenience, while the neighboring town of East Brady can -also be said to owe its existence to this great enterprise.

After Mr. Raymond the plant was conducted by H. A. S. D. Dudley from 1850 to 1864; by John H. Haines from 1864 to 1869, and by Col. W. D. Slack from then until the end in 1873. The remainder of the property of the later owners of the plant is now in the hands of Edward W. Dewey, a nephew of the great Admiral George Dewey of Spanish-American war fame.

CHURCHES

Brady's Bend Presbyterian Church was organized in 1845 and at first was a missionary enterprise. The iron company donated a lot and a neat building was erected at a cost of $5,000. This structure was afterward sold to the German Catholic Church and a $4,000 home put up on another lot given by the proprietors of the iron works in 1865. In 1867 the company again evidenced their pious New England ancestry by presenting the church with the site of the parsonage, which was built at cost of $2,000. The first pastor was Rev. Louis L. Conrad, from 1846 to 1849. Followed Rev. Carl Moore, 1850-53, then a vacancy of four years, after which came Rev. D. Hall, 1857-67; Rev. S. H. Holliday, 1868-74; Revs. Theodore S. Negley and William J. Wilson, until 1878; Revs. S. A. Hughes and H. Magill., 1879-81 ; Rev. J. S. Helm, during 1885; Rev. Swan, 1886; Rev. S. A. Hughes, 1887-88. A record of the last pastors of this church is not available at present. Services have not been held in the building for some years. The first Roman Catholic Church at this point was a German congregation, under the charge of Father Lewis Vogelsang, and occupied the old Presbyterian church on the top of the hill, which they purchased from that denomination in 1865. This congregation was afterward consolidated with the "Irish" Catholic organization after the building was torn down in 1893. The English speaking Catholics united into a church body in 1867 and erected the present frame church in 1868. The pastors in charge have been: Rev. Fathers Thomas Welsh, Sheehan, Callahan, Hern, Ryan, Quigley and the present pastor, Father Hopkins, who is within the diocese of Erie, it being too far for the supplying of pastors from Pittsburgh.

The Protestant Episcopal denomination organized here and erected a stone building of Gothic design in 1867. For some time the church was prosperous, but like the rest of the religious societies, succumbed to the gradual disintegration caused by the decline in the town's chief source of prosperity - the iron works. The old church is in an admirable state of preservation and stands in the center of the valley, a fine example of pure Gothic architecture in contrast to the hideously plain edifices of the older congregation. During the entire period of its existence the pastor was Rev. B. F. Brown who came in 1868.

The Reformed Church has a neat edifice here and is served by Rev. J. A. Law, of Chicora. Zion Lutheran church, built in 1870, is not now in use regularly, but is supplied by pastors from Chicora, Butler county.

PRESENT INDUSTRIES

The Great Western Distilleries Company, a Kittanning corporation, have a plant for the manufacture of rye whiskey on the river bank near the bridge across the Allegheny, employing six men.

George Reed operates a sawmill on the Allegheny just above the town. Siebert Brothers have a machine shop in the town, with an auto garage in connection.

The Upper Kittanning Brick Company have a large plant on the upper reaches of the creek near the first run, with eight kilns, employing fifty men, and producing 100,000 firebrick per day. They are one of the few brick plants which use natural gas to fire the kilns.

The Pittsburgh Limestone Company have a quarry in the forks of Holder's run, from which come some of the limestone used in the Pittsburgh furnaces. They are also producing a brand of Portland cement.

In 1882 the resident physicians at Brady's Bend were Drs. J. W. and W. T. James. The former is now dead, but the latter is still practicing in this section. Another resident physician in 1913 is Dr. W. C. Butler.

E. L. Dunkle & Sons keep the store at the river bank, and Matthew Blatt is the village storekeeper in the heart of the old town. One hotel at the upper end of the valley caters to the wants of travelers. It is conducted by Thomas Rockett. The village blacksmith is J. S. Schneider.

The old ferries at this point are supplanted by a fine steel bridge constructed in 1886 by the counties of Armstrong and Clarion.

SCHOOLS

The "Mill"' schoolhouse is situated on a small hill near the Allegheny, in the sharp bend of Sugar creek, and is one of the most prominent objects of the landscape. The "Furnace" school is higher up the creek, near the Episcopal church. George E. Ballwig and A. S. Brenneman were teachers here in 1867-68. The first recorded teacher was W. C. Miller, in 1864.

The number of schools in 1913 was 12; average months taught, 7; male teachers, 2; female teachers, 10; average salaries, male, $62.50; female, $42; male scholars, 160; female scholars, 210; average attendance, 296; cost per month, $1.89; tax levied, $5,069.45; received from State, $2,597.66; other sources, $7,435.21; value of schoolhouses, $16,000; teachers' wages, $3,810; fuel, fees, etc., $3,001.09.

The school directors are: William Jenkins, president; John H. Rohrbach, secretary; Harry C. Lewis, treasurer; Hermon Schultz, Dr. Charles B. McGogney.

POPULATION
The population of Brady's Bend township in 1850 was -2,325; in 1870, 3,1619; in 1880, 2,340; in 1890, 1,261; in 1900, 891; in 1910, 2,696. The population of the village of Brady's Bend in 1880 was 1,010. At present it is scarcely more than 300. In 1913 the assessment returns for the township were: Number of acres of timber, 556; cleared land, 6,428; value of lands, $93,635; houses and lots, 343, valued at $89,070, average value, $259.67; 242 horses, valued at $9,115 average value, $37.66; 201 cows valued at $3,115, average value, $15; taxables, 509; total valuation', $281,364. Money at interest, $54,278.

GEOLOGY

The geological formation of this township is practically the same as Sugar Creek. The mines at Kaylor work the Kittanning and Freeport veins. The Pittsburgh Limestone Company get their stone from the Vanport limestone vein.

In the northwest corner of the township, between the waters of Long and Pine runs, is the highest spot above sea level, 1,523 feet.

Source: Page(s) 267-271, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 19114.
Transcribed August 2001 by Vaughn Davis for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed by Vaughn Davis for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)

Armstrong County Genealogy Project Notice:
These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format, for any presentation, without prior written permission.

Return to the Beers Project

 

Return to the Armstrong County Genealogy Project

(c) Armstrong County Genealogy Project

 

Return to the Armstrong County Genealogy Project

(c) Armstrong County Genealogy Project