Chapter 12, Section 5


One of the earliest occupants of Holland lands in this township was Philip Essex, who was first assessed in Toby township, with one cow, at $10, in 1806; the next year with 200 acres "imp.," and one cow, at $36, and thereafter with 100 acres "imp.," and one cow for several years, and then purchased the land. Benjamin B. Cooper conveyed to him ninety-seven acres of allotment 6, tract 287, warrant 2872, called "Burton Hall," May 20, 1817, for $97. It was that part of "Burton Hall" adjoining the Nicholson tract, No. 1150, on the north, south of Red Bank creek, and about three miles from its mouth. It was noted on the assessment for the next year as transferred to Sommers Baldwin, who probably did consummate his contract with Essex, by paying the purchase money before his death, for Essex, April 17, 1827, then of Morgan county, Ohio, conveyed it to Robert Brown, who conveyed it, June 20, for $200, to Fred�k Crisman, to some of whose heirs it now belongs. It was adjoined by allotment 3 on the north, which was first occupied, if not owned, by Francis Stanford, who was first assessed with twenty acres of it, two horses and two cows, at $55, in 1807; with 130 acres in and for several years after 1810, and then 200 acres until 1820, and then his widow with that number until 1823, when it appears to have been transferred to Alexander Duncan, who was then first assessed with the same and fifty acres additional, two horses and two cows, at $316. Cooper conveyed 224 acres, parts of "Burton Hall," and tracts 284 and 285, covered by warrants 2876 and 2875, to Duncan, January 23, 1834, for $280, portions or all of which still belong to his heirs. When he first settled here there were not more than six or eight other permanent settlers within the limits of this township. Allotment No. 1 is a parallelogram in the northwestern part of the tract, now in Clarion county, and was one of the tracts purchased by Philander Raymond for the Great Western Iron Works, at Brady�s Bend. Allotment 2, 170 acres, adjoined No. 1 on the east, and it appears from the map of original tracts, though not from the tax-list of Toby township, to have been occupied by Harman Farber. So, also allotment No. 4 140 acres, chiefly in the northwestern bend of the Red Bank, which adjoined No. 1 on the south, and both 1 and 4, adjoining the Nicholson-Hamilton-Reynolds tract, No. 1151, on the west, appear to have been occupied by John Davis. It was, however, conveyed by Willink & Co. to Jacob Christman, as containing 157 acres and 41 perches, November 22, 1834, for $251. Christman having died intestate, it became vested in Jacob H. Christman, whose guardian, by virtue of an order of the orphans� court of this county, conveyed it to John M. Christman, October 3, 1874, for $2,500, who, with Ann Craig, late the widow of Jacob Christman, conveyed it to Alexander Reynolds, October 5, for $5,000, and it is now a part of the present Red Bank Furnace property. Allotment 5, 200 acres, in the broad, deep bend of the Red Bank, now in Clarion county, was settled by Fleming Davidson about 1806. He was first assessed the next year with it and two horses, at $266. Not having perfected his title to it, Willink & Co. conveyed it, as containing 201 acres and 35 perches, to John Reed, November 17, 1837, for $301.87. The heretofore-mentioned Indian trail from the mouth of Mahoning via Dogwood corner in "Springfield," and along the ridge, traversed the central portion of allotment 6 and the western portion of allotment 3 of "Burton Hall," a short distance east of the present public road from Duncanville to Lawsonham. Willink & Co. conveyed 111 acres and 96 perches to Hugh C. Jackson, March 29, 1849, for $111.50. Willink & Co. conveyed 146 acres and 44 perches partly of "Burton Hall" and of tract No. 288, warrant No. 2871, to Alexander Duncan, November 24, 1837, for $109.87, and 254 acres of the latter tract, March 10, 1840, for $392.25. Duncan�s executors conveyed 190 acres of the latter tract to George Duncan, June 5, 1851, which was, after his death, awarded to A. McNickle, who conveyed it as containing 201 acres and 154 perches to D. C. Collingwood, May 7, 1870, for $5,600, to whom 196 acres are assessed in 1876 at $2,352. Colwell & Co. conveyed 50 acres and 95 perches of this tract to Samuel Balsiger, June 22, 1849, for $20.50.

Adjoining "Burton Hall" on the north were the Holland tracts 284 and 285, covered by warrants Nos. 2876 and 2875, with 300 acres partly of each, two horses and three cattle. David Lawson was first assessed in 1812 at $300, to whom Cooper conveyed 454 acres, June 23, 1824, for $500. Lawson resided on the western most of those tracts when he was a member of the house of representatives of this state, from Armstrong county, in 1824-5 and in 1828-9. He subsequently conveyed portions of the land embraced in that purchase to his sons, Robert D. and John Lawson. The present town of Lawsonham is situated, probably on tract No. 284, on the north or Clarion side of the Red Bank. There was a small portion of this parcel on the south side of the Red Bank, containing about five acres, which was sold as unseated for taxes assessed on it to Lawson�s heirs, and which Thomas McMasters, treasurer of this county, conveyed to Robert Lawson Brown, June 19, 1854; the latter to Hunter Orr, January 17, 1861, for $100; and he to George W. Bain, November 9, 1868, for $300. This little parcel now belongs to the Brookville Oil company, on which they drilled an unproductive oil well. The first conveyance of any part of this tract was of 151 acres of allotment 1, in the northwestern part, by Willink & Co. to Jacob Bowser, of Washington county, Maryland, December 27, 1829, for $110. It does not appear from the assessment list that he ever resided on this parcel. It has nevertheless been known for many years as the "Bowser Flat." He having died intestate, without issue, his father and next of kin conveyed it to John A. Colwell & Co., March 26 and October 11, 1855, and they to Peter Shoemaker, September 1, 1859, for $1,200, and he to the present owner of the main portion of it, Joseph B. Shoemaker, June 10, 1869, for $1,800.

In the southern part of this township, between the heretofore-mentioned tracts covered by a warrant to Joseph Coosh and the tract of vacant land covered by the patent to Jacob Moyers, was a Holland tract No. 318, warrant to Le Roy & Co., No. 3001, which was not placed on the unseated list of Red Bank township until 1816. Its first white settler appears to have been Philip Anthony, who was first assessed in 1814 with two horses and two cows, at $12, and the next year with 100 acres as an improvement, one horse and one cow, at $41. Proceedings to dispossess him were instituted soon after the company�s agent ascertained that he had settled on it, in 1817-18, while Philip Mechling was sheriff, during the pendency of which Anthony died. Portions of it may have been occupied by settlers during the next quarter century. Willink & Co. conveyed 148 acres and 147 perches of allotment 3 to Jeremiah Bonner, June 28, 1843, for $149; 113 acres of allotment 6, in the southwestern part, to Jacob Moyers, December 9, for $71; to James Anthony 183 acres and 80 perches of allotment 2, in the southeastern part August 12, 1846, for $202; to Reynolds & Richey, 122 acres and 22 perches of allotment 4 in the southern part, June 5, 1846, for $115, which had previously been occupied by I. M. Sparr, and 72 acres and 136 perches, November 24, 1848, for $36.50, the former of which parcels, being partly in Madison and partly in Pine township, they conveyed to George Reedy April 2, 1861, for $1,000, on which, near the mouth of a run emptying into the Mahoning from the northwest, a gristmill was erected in 1874, which was first assessed in 1875. A considerable portion of this tract (318) is now included in the Stewardson Furnace property

Contiguous to that tract on the north was the main portion of tract No. 316, covered by warrant No. 2865. Willink & Co. conveyed 103 acres and 13 perches of the east end of allotments 4 and 6, to Joseph Moorhead, November 30, 1836, for $103.50; to George Nulf, 108 acres and 41 perches, June 5, 1837, for $108.35, which the latter conveyed to David Yuant (who had settled on it in 1839), May 17, 1841, for $550, and he to Samuel Myers, 180 acres and 34 perches, May 14, 1864, for $1,700. Isaac E. Shoemaker opened a store on this parcel, with which he was first assessed in 1868. Here, too, has sprung up the little town of Centerville, containing a dozen or more buildings, among which is one of the public schoolhouses of this township. It is said that this town was named Centerville because its position is about central on one of the routes between Kellersburgh in this and Oakland in Mahoning township. Mail matter from several postoffices 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."12 Willink & Co. conveyed 193 acres of allotment 2 to Jeremiah Bonner, August 5, 1840, for $463, which he conveyed to Thomas Black twelve days afterward, for $1,300. Willink & Co. conveyed to George W. Truitt 138 acres and 148 perches off the east end of allotments 3 and 5, March 7, 1859, for $163.47, on which is his present homestead. The northeastern part of this tract was formerly occupied by George Painter, who came here from one of the Wistar tracts, north of the Red Bank, in 1833, with a portion of which and of the Joseph Cook tract he was assessed for several years, but the records do not show that he perfected his tittle to either of these parcels. A glance at the township map shows that various parts of this tract are comparatively well populated.

Next north of the foregoing was tract No. 309, covered by warrant No. 2864, of which Willink & Co. conveyed 170 acres and 131 perches, parts of allotments 4 and 6, to Daniel Reedy, November 20, 1837, for $178.75; to James Delp 180 acres and 18 perches of the same allotments, February 17, 1840, for $177, and he to Peter George, May 1, for $810.47; to Reynolds & Richey 95 � acres off another part of this tract, November 4, 1848, for $95.50; to Thomas McKee, 207 acres and 120 perches of allotment 1, February 28, 1846, for $208; to Jacob Williams 190 acres of allotment 5, March 10, 1849, for $199; to Samuel Rhodes 175 acres and 140 perches of allotment 2, May 25, 1840, for $175.80, and he to George Nulf 50 acres and 80 perches, September 20, 1841, for $50.80; Willink & Co. to Samuel Balsiger 178 acres and 131 perches of allotments 4 and 6, June 17, 1840, for $178.75.

Next north of the foregoing tract was No. 290, warrant No. 2852. Willink &Co., conveyed 135 acres and 96 perches of allotment 1 to Reynolds & Richey, March 8, 1844, for $300; 121 acres 10 perches to William Paine, June 18, 1845, for $74.11, with 60 acres of which he was first assessed in 1840; and he to John and Jacob Pence, present owners, the same, December 29, 1859, for $1,100; 62 acres and 40 perches, the same day, to Peter G. Reed, for $37.98; 10 � acres of allotment 1 of this tract, and allotment 3 of the contiguous tract No. 382 to Robert Drain, September 14, 1846, with which he was first assessed, at $160, in 1840; B. B. Cooper�s executor conveyed 150 acres and 40 perches to George C. Nulf, February 15, 1853, for $300.50, and he conveyed 75 acres and 20 perches to John Bish, September 17, for $751, with which the latter had been first assessed in 1839, at $75. Cooper�s executor conveyed 253 � acres of allotment 2 to Anderson, David J. and James A. Truitt, November 17, 1855, for $800, with which Anderson had been first assessed in 1837 at $370.50, and his father, Thomas Truitt, with one cow at $8. A part of this parcel now belongs to Anderson Truitt�s heirs.

Next north was tract No. 282, warrant No. 2848, the northeastern portion of which was in what is now Clarion county. It was skirted on the north by the eastern half of "J. Maxwell�s, 400 acres, Improvement." The latter, as represented on the map of original tracts, was a notably long and narrow parallelogram, which extended from the original line between Toby and Red Bank townships to the western line of the "W. & R. White" tract, thirty or forty rods east of the Leatherwood, by which it and allotment 2 of tract 282 were traversed.

Digressing somewhat some distance north from the mouth of Leatherwood, David Shields settled in 1810 on vacant land, with 200 acres of which he was then assessed, and some years afterward with a less quantity, until 1834, after which his name does not appear on the tax-list of Red Bank township. Tradition, which appears to be well authenticated, says that one of his sons, when five years of age, was captured or kidnapped by the Indians who took him to some point within what are now the limits of Jefferson county and elsewhere. Nineteen years afterward his father, having ascertained where he was, and some others who aided him, succeeded in effecting the rescue and return home of the captive. The latter remained there but a week or ten days. He said there was a leadmine near the mouth of Leatherwood, and promised to point it out to his brothers, but did not. Subsequent diligent but vain searches were made for it. Having married a squaw and having become fond of Indian life, the home of his parents became irksome to him, so he escaped one night with a party of Indians who were whooping around his father�s house, and never returned.

One of the earliest settlers on tract No. 282 was John Switzer, who was first assessed with 100 acres of allotment 3, 1 horse and cow, at $338, in 1837. He does not appear to have perfected his title, for Willink & Co. conveyed the 156 acres and 110 perches with which he was last assessed in 1841 to Owen Meredith, August 12, 1845, for $314, which is now owned by Thomas Meredith, which is assessed this year (1876) at $1,248.

The earliest permanent white settler on tract 282 appears to have been Philip Bish, who was first assessed with 70 acres of it and 1 horse, in 1817, at $72, which quantity of land and 17 acres more Willink & Co. conveyed to him August 23, 1847, for $87.

George Kogh was first assessed with 50 acres in that part of allotment 1 in the deep northwesterly bend of the Red Bank, 1 sawmill, 1 yoke of oxen, and 1 cow, in 1830, at $146.25, to whom Willink & Co. conveyed 68 acres and 60 perches, July 12, 1848, for $51. This point is called "Broken Rock." There is a small parcel of this allotment in the deep bend of the creek belonging to the Broken Rock Oil Company, who several years ago drilled a well, striking a moderate vein of gas, but not a paying quantity of oil. Kogh conveyed 14 acres of his parcel to Mary Bleakney July 4, 1862, for $50, which she conveyed to the present owner James Courson, March 20, 1871, for $305. John Payne was first assessed with 120 acres, 1 yoke of oxen and 1 cow, in 1838, at $154, the land being then valued at 75 cents an acre. Willink & Co. conveyed 198 acres of allotments 1 and 3, September 9, 1847, for $250. He died intestate. His son, Alexander B. Paine, conveyed 120 acres of this parcel to Mary Thompson, August 13, 1860, for $1,240, who conveyed 20 acres and 73 perches thereof to James Courson, May 5, 1873, for $200.

Passing down the left bank of the creek, tract No. 289, covered by warrant No. 2859, is reached. Willink & Co. conveyed 175 acres and 24 perches of allotment 6, the southeastern one, to George Arnold, October 3, 1835, for $109.46. Willink & Co. conveyed 250 acres of allotments 2 and 4 to Jacob F. Keller, April 8, 1841, for $156.73, in pursuance of a previous agreement to sell and purchase. Keller having agreed to sell 200 acres of his parcel to Joseph Sowash, January 18, 1838, and Sowash having agreed, June 15, 1841, to sell the same to Charles Shunk, and the latter and Alexander Reynolds having entered into an agreement of copartnership, July 3, for purchasing the same and to erect thereon a furnace for the manufacture of pig-iron from the ore under the name and style of Reynolds & Shunk, Keller conveyed to them, July 3, the 250 acres and 123 perches which he had purchased from Willink & Co., for $752, which thus became the parcel on which Reynolds & Shunk erected the Old Red Bank Furnace in 1841. Shunk retired soon after the furnace went into blast, and was succeeded by David Richey. 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 have sold at a reasonable advance.

Contiguous to that tract were other Holland Company tracts, Nos. 283 and 288, covered by warrants Nos. 2847 and 2876, partly in what is now Clarion county. Willink & Co. conveyed 1509 acres and 31 perches, parts of them, and No. 289, to the late Judge Buffington, October 15, 1845, for $1,131, 776 acres and 135 perches of which in this county he conveyed to Reynolds and Richey, fifteen days later, for $3,395.68, which of course became a part of the furnace property, the greatly enhanced value of which was attributable to the successful operation of the old Red Bank Furnace. The present Red Bank Furnace � which is, so to speak, a descendant of the old one � 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 is 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 present owners are Reynolds & Moorhead. Its product has been from 90 to 105 tons a week of gray mill metal, wasting less than 6 per cent in puddling, with coke made from the Upper Freeport coalbed coal and buhrstone ore and limestone, all mined in the hillsides back of the furnace. The stack is 39 feet and 8 inches high, and 11 feet across the boshes, with a square-cut stone base and a round looped cylinder, of 3 feet brick wall, with 18 inches lining and 6 inches packing between. The fuel used in 1865 was one-half coke and one-half coal, in alternate charges, thus: First charge, raw coal, 10 bushels; ore 633 lbs.; limestone, 253 lbs.; three of these making a charge. Second charge: three times 10 bushels coke and 633 lbs. Ore, and 253 lbs. limestone. The upright furnace engine worked 30 lbs. steam, the gauge stood between 3 � and 4 lbs. pressure on the cylinder; a very beautiful engine, with a 28-inch steam cylinder, mounted endwise on a 5 � feet blowing cylinder, the stroke common to both being 4 � feet. The gases are taken off on each side of the tunnel-head some feet down, and introduced beneath the hot-blast house and boilers, standing on a terrace about 6 feet above the casting floor, but under the same roof. The length of the air cylinder is 20, and its diameter 10 feet. The three boilers are 3 by 36 feet, with an extra flue boiler in case of accident. The coke is shot upon high screens; the raw coal is deposited on the stockyard floor, part of which is used for a calcining yard.13

Adjoining tract 289 on the south was No. 310, covered by warrant No. 2860. Peter and David Bish appear to have been first assessed with 166 acres in the southeastern part of it, and one cow, in 1828, at $91. Willink & Co. conveyed to the former 186 acres of allotment 6, February 1, 1830, for $116.25, 50 acres and 106 perches of which he conveyed to Samuel Bish, March 15, 1844, who conveyed the same to the present owner, Thomas Truitt, Jr., June 21, 1847, for $400. They conveyed 121 acres of the northern part of allotment 2 to Nicholas Keller, June 3, 1834, for $75.62, who settled thereon the same year.

Source: Page(s) 259-285, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed December 1998 by Jeffrey Bish for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by Jeffrey Bish for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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