Chapter 1
Historical Sketch of Armstrong County
Part 5

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In 1818 there was only one postoffice between Kittanning and Indiana, and only a weekly mail, which was carried on horseback. In 1820, people living several miles above Red Bank creek received at least some of their mail matter from the Kittanning office. The mail route in 1818 was from Indiana via Absalom Woodward's and the Blanket Hill battle-field to Kittanning and Butler; and thence via Freeport, Kittanning, the Peter Thomas' (afterward Robert Woodward's) mills, on Plum creek, back to Indiana. In 1819 the route was more circuitous, extending from Indiana via Greensburgh, Freeport, Roseburgh (now in Clarion county), Lawrenceburgh (now Parker City), to Butler, and thence via Kittanning back to Indiana. The mail-carrier over these routes was Josiah Copley, then an apprentice to James McCahan, the proprietor and publisher of the American, a weekly newspaper published in Indiana. McCahan had the contract for carrying the mails over these and other routes, and his contract with his apprentice was that the latter should spend one half of the first three years of his apprenticeship in carrying the mail on horseback. Thus the contractor got his mail-carriers without cost, and distributed his paper, carried in open saddle-bags, to many of his subscribers along these and other routes.

The number of postoffices has been so increased from year to year since then that there are now fifty-one, distributed at convenient distances over this county, at several of which daily mails are received.

At the early settlement of this county there were not any well-made roads. From 1805 till 1810 the court of quarter-sessions granted orders for opening twenty-five public roads in various sections within the present limits of this county. Yet those who traversed the county as late as 1821 say that most of the roads then afforded very poor facilities for travel and transportation of goods. Most of the traveling was done on foot and horseback, and for lack of bridges the fording of streams was often hazardous. Some of the turnpikes began to be made about 1815. Prior to 1810, before the manufacture of iron was begun on the Connemaugh, and salt on the Kiskiminetas, those articles were transported, viz.: iron from Winchester, Virginia, and salt from Hagerstown, Maryland, as well as other goods from the east, on pack-horses, over the Allegheny mountains. After the commencement of the manufacture of salt and iron west of the Allegheny mountains, they were transported to Pittsburgh, in flatboats, down the Connemaugh, Kiskiminetas and Allegheny rivers. After the completion of the turnpike from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, goods purchased in the latter for this region were left at Blairsville, and distributed thence to their various places of destination. They were generally hauled by six-horse teams in large covered Conestoga wagons, bells being a part of the horses' trappings. One of the writer's informants says that he had seen as many as twenty of these teams stop at a country tavern overnight. The drivers, each having his own hammock, would lie in every direction in the barroom. Each prided himself on having the best team and hauling the heaviest load. When intoxicated, they would get into broils and scuffles in making good their respective claims to those merits, from which blackened eyes were occasional results, which were then deemed but trivial circumstances. It behooved travelers stopping at those wagon taverns, in those days, not to cast any disrespect upon any of the teamster fraternity, for if they did, especially such as happened to be well dressed, they soon "got into hot water."

The commercial traffic between the upper country and Pittsburgh was chiefly carried on by means of canoes and keelboats, which were propelled by manual power. Large numbers of rafts of sawed lumber, many of them from Olean, N. Y., descended the Allegheny river in those days, and on which it was common for emigrants to migrate westward. Josiah Copley informed the writer that he had seen fully a hundred men, women and children on a single raft. While he was standing on the shore one evening, at Freeport, he saw a large Olean raft swinging to the landing to lie overnight. While some of the men were managing the raft, he saw one grooming and feeding a span of horses, a girl milking a cow, another making mush in a shanty, an old lady sitting at her wheel spinning flax, and all seeming to be quite at home. Thus they were quietly floating toward their new homes which they were seeking in Ohio and Indiana.

Twenty years afterward, from 1835-40 and later, the lumber floated down the river exceeded 50,000,000 feet of boards and plank, which with various kinds of timber, exceeded in value $1,000,000.

According to the "Western Navigator," a volume published in Pittsburgh in 1811, the quantity of boards and lumber floated down the Allegheny annually was 3,000,000 of feet, at $9 per 1,000, amounting to $27, 000, and from 12,000 to 16, 000 barrels of Onondaga salt had the year before arrived by keelboats down that stream at Pittsburgh, averaging $8 a barrel, amounting to about $104,000. The keelboats returned with cargoes of whisky, iron castings, cider, apples, bacon, other articles of home production, and foreign goods.

Those primitive modes of transporting goods from the east were obviated by the completion of the Pennsylvania canal, skirting the southern border of this county, in or about 1828. Freeport thereafter became an entrepot for merchandise and other freight from the east, and of considerable quantities from Pittsburgh for the region drained by the Allegheny river.

By act of March 9, 1771, the Kiskiminetas, and by act of March 21, 1798, the Allegheny river and the Sandy Lick or Red Bank creek were declared public highways, the Allegheny to the northern boundary of the state and the Red Bank from its mouth to the second great forks.

An order was issued by the county commissioners, June 22, 1819, to Saml. C. Orr, for $77.68, for his services as a commissioner, appointed by act of assembly to superintend the expenditure of $1,000 appropriated for the improvement of Red Bank and $200 for the improvement of Toby's creek. On the same day an order was issued to Alexander Wilson for $16, and on September 22 to David Lawson for $2, for their services for examining the improvement of the navigation of those two creeks.

From and after 1828, passengers, goods, and other freight were transported up and down the Allegheny river in steamboats and barges towed by them during such portions of the year as there was a sufficient stage of water. The increase of various branches of business, resulting from the rapid increase of population along and east and west of that river, and the multiplicity of furnaces for the manufacture of pig iron, caused a vast deal of transportation by steamboats. The last trip of a steamboat for passengers was made by the Ida Reese, Capt. Reese Reese, in April, 1868, and the last trip of a keelboat from Pittsburgh to Warren was by the Yorktown, the next month thereafter.

As early as 1825 there was a mail-stage line from Ebensburgh, Cambria county, Pa., via Indiana, Elderton and Kittanning, to Butler, leaving Ebensburgh at 3 o'clock P. M. on Thursday and reaching Butler at 10 o'clock A. M. on the following Saturday. That was considered a very important line, because it opened up a direct communication between the eastern and most western counties of this state, and a cheap and expeditious mode of conveyance. The fare from Ebensburgh to Butler was $3.75, 6 cents a mile for way passengers, and the time between those two points was forty-three hours.

Either before or shortly after 1825 lines of stages were established extending from Freeport via Slate Lick, Worthington, Brady's Bend and Catfish, with a branch from Slate Lick via Kittanning, to Clarion, and another branch from the mouth of Mahoning to Brookville, which were withdrawn after the completion of the Allegheny Valley railroad and its branches.

There were for awhile two opposition lines of stages running north from Freeport, and so brisk was the competition that passengers were carried for almost nothing, and in some instances furnished with meals and grog gratis.

While the canal was closed through the winter, and the river was too low for steamboats, stages were the public conveyance for passengers from this region to and from Pittsburgh. While the canal was open they were conveyed by packet-boats from Pittsburgh to Freeport, thence by stage � some of the time by a packet-boat towed by horses, to Kittanning and other points, and by canal packets also to Leechburgh, Apollo, and other points along the canal, and thence to their respective destinations by private conveyances.

Those who traveled those routes know the rate of speed with which trips used to be made. But for the information of those who will succeed us a century hence, it may be appropriate to state, in this connection, that it required about eighteen hours to make a trip by stage and canal from Kittanning to Pittsburgh. To us who used to be all night and half a day thus traveling forty-five miles, it is not as apparent as the sun at noonday that travelers now-a-days have good reason to complain, as they sometimes do, in the accommodation trains on the Allegheny Valley railroad, which convey them very safely and comfortably the same distance in three hours.

By the act of April 4, 1837, when the late Wm. Th. Johnston, represented this county in the lower house of our state legislature, a charter was granted for constructing the Pittsburgh, Kittanning & Warren railroad. Various supplements were afterward passed, by one of which the name was changed, as suggested by Josiah Copley, to the Allegheny Valley railroad. Nothing was done toward making the road until about fifteen years after the granting of the original charter, when Mr. Johnston, the first president of the board of mangers, and other earnest and energetic friends of the project, began to utilize the power and privileges conferred by that charter, and succeeded in raising a sufficient amount of stock to build it as far as Kittanning, to which point it was completed in January, 1856, which was its northern terminus for about nine years, when the late William Phillips became the leading energetic spirit in prosecuting its extension to Brady's Bend, and thence to Oil City, and in leasing other roads above, until the company now controls the lines through Brocton, N. Y., and Irvineton, on the Philadelphia & Erie railroad, in Warren county, Pa. Within the past few years the Bennett's Branch, or Low Grade Division, and several less branches, have been completed from the mouth of Red Bank Creek to Driftwood. Thus vast regions of country which were theretofore dependent on freshets on the Allegheny and its tributaries, and had country roads as means of travel and transportation, are now subserved by rapid transit on well-constructed and well-managed railroads, which enable the various classes of producers to throw their products into market whenever they can command the highest prices therefor. In this connection the following incident is illustrative, and which is related substantially as the writer heard it: A farmer of this county, who was a stockholder in the Allegheny Valley railroad, remarked on a certain occasion after the opening of the road to Kittanning, that he would be a gainer, even if he should not receive any dividend on his shares of stock, because having on hand a considerable quantity of rye, in the winter when navigation was closed, he was enabled by the railroad to throw it into market so as to reap the benefit of the sudden advance in the price of his product, which soon after declined, so that by that one operation he cleared enough to compensate him for the money which he had invested in railroad stock.

Four daily passenger trains going north and the same number south traverse that part of this county lying along the Allegheny river, between the mouth of Kiskiminetas and the mouth of Red Bank, a distance of about thirty-five miles. The River Division on the Clarion side of the Allegheny river, subserve the wants of the people of those portions of this county adjacent to those streams above their junction. The freight trains are numerous.

Two narrow-gauge railroads intersect the Allegheny Valley railroad, respectively, at Pine Creek and Parker stations.

The number of stations on the Allegheny Valley railroad in this county is thirteen. A telegraph line, belonging to the road, extends along the entire routes of the river division and the main branches, with several offices at proper distances between the Kiskiminetas and Red Bank.

The Allegheny valley is diversified with a pleasing variety of grand, beautiful and picturesque scenery, abounds in varied and valuable natural resources, many of which have not yet been developed, and is pervaded by a salubrious atmosphere, which is free from the miasma caused by sluggish streams and stagnant water. As its comely as well as rugged features, its hidden stores of wealth and its salubrity become more generally known, it must become more and more attractive to settlers, tourists and artists. Views of some of the finest and most varied scenery in the world can be enjoyed from the rear windows of the rear cars of trains passing up and down the Allegheny Valley railroad, to say nothing of the comfort and gratification and sense of security resulting from able and skillful management and the courtesy of obliging employees.

Bayard Taylor, in some of his correspondence several years ago expressed his high appreciation of Allegheny Valley scenery, and especially that from the lower part of the Manor to the bend above Kittanning. The latter, he said, is not surpassed in beauty by any that he had seen in Italy or elsewhere.

On Friday night, May 5, 1876, Dom Pedro II, the present emperor of Brazil, passed through the Allegheny valley, from Pittsburgh to Oil City, on a special train of the Allegheny Valley railroad, and returned next day, reaching Kittanning about 1 P. M., from which point the train had reached the union depot, Pittsburgh, in fifty-seven minutes. His majesty must have been favorably impressed with what he saw between Oil City and Pittsburgh, for he remarked, in the presence of the conductor, Richard Reynolds, that "this (the Allegheny) is one of the finest valleys I have ever passed through." He said that his transit over the Allegheny Valley railroad had been more rapid than over any other railroad in the United States. That was after his return from California.

There is, verily, scope and verge enough of fine scenery along the Allegheny valley to attract to it the skill, genius and pencil of the best of artists.

The telegraph line was first extended into this county in the fall of 1863. There were for a while two competing lines, the Western Union and the Atlantic & Pacific. The latter was discontinued in the course of a year or two after it was established, so that the former and the one belonging to the Allegheny Valley railroad are the only ones now in operation along the Allegheny valley.


For several years after the organization of this county, the stores were few, and all, or nearly all, of them were located in the county town. Goods must have been sold sixty years ago at a reasonably large profit, for a Kittanning merchant of the olden times having been asked, while making one of his purchases in Philadelphia, what percentage of profit he charged on his goods, replied that he didn't know anything about percentage, but if he bought an article for $1, and sold it for $2, he reckoned he didn't lose anything.

An act of 1823-4 required the county treasurers to publish annually, in November, a list of the names of all persons returned to them as retailers of foreign merchandise, designating those who had and those who had not taken out licenses in their respective counties. In pursuance of that requirement the lists of such retailers, dated November 16, 1824, were published by James Pinks, the then treasurer of Armstrong county, in the Columbian of November 30, 1825, as follows

"Lists of Retailers of Foreign Merchandise in Armstrong County who have taken out Licenses: Samuel Huston, Philip Mechling & Co., Alexander Colwell & Co., Jonathan H. Sloan, Richard Reynold & Co., Robert Robinson, Henry S. Weaver, David Stoner, William D. Barclay, John Elliott, Jr., Joseph Marshall, James Fitzgerald."

List of such as had not taken out Licenses: "Michael McCullough, John Fullerton, James Adams, Bear Creek Furnace, William P. Sterrett, Thomas Johnston (of Ind.), Andrew Hickenlooper, Andrew Sterrett."

Thus it appears that then the total number of stores in this county, which then extended up to the Clarion river, was twenty. The number of stores of all kinds in 1840 was seventy-nine.

The mercantile appraiser's list for 1876 presents 358 wholesale and retail dealers, rated thus: In the 14th class, or those selling less than $5,000 worth of goods a year, 278;17 13th class, selling from $5,000 to $10,000 worth a year, 45; 12th class, selling from $10,000 to $15,000 worth a year, 21; 11th class, selling from $15,000 to $20,000 worth a year, 9; 10th class, selling from $20,000 to $30,000 worth a year, 2; 9th class, selling from $30,000 to $40,000 worth a year, 2; 4th class, selling from $50,000 to $100,000 worth a year, 1.


The number of distilleries in 1840 was twenty-five, and they produced 20,633 gallons of distilled spirits, or nearly a gallon to each man, woman and child in the county. There is now only one distillery, which annually produces about 50,000 gallons of whisky, or a little less than a gallon to each man, woman and child, if it were sold in this county. Heretofore there was but one brewery, now there are two.


Three furnaces for making iron were in blast in this county in 1830, one of which was then the largest in the United States, yielding forty tons per week, and the other two respectively fifteen tons and fourteen tons. All of them went out of blast or ceased to be operated many years since. Of the eleven others which followed them only three are now in blast.

The four rolling-mills heretofore operated are at present idle.

Some other industrial interests will be noticed in the more local sketches.


The number of salt wells in this county in 1830 was twenty-four, which produced annually 65,500 barrels of salt, each containing five bushels, which sold at $2.12 per barrel. Those wells were chiefly along the Allegheny and Kiskiminetas rivers. They were from 500 to 650 feet deep, three inches in diameter for the first 200 feet, and two inches in diameter below that depth.

To aid in perpetuating a knowledge of the cost of boring salt wells, and the art of making salt, a few facts in relation thereto are here inserted. The boring or drilling of a salt well then cost $2 a foot for the first 500 feet, and $3 a foot below that depth. To prevent the fresh from mingling with the salt water, copper tubes with bags of flax-seed tied around them were inserted into the wells to just above the point where the salt water is reached. The swelling of the flax-seed filled the hole around the tube, and thus prevented the fresh from reaching the salt water below. The brine, after having been pumped through those tubes by steam power into large reservoirs, flowed thence into the boiling pans, whence after boiling the requisite length of time, it was turned into a cooling vat, where the sediments settled and was passed thence into the graining pan, where after evaporation, the salt remained in the bottom. Those pans were eight feet wide, twenty feet long, and placed over furnaces in which the requisite heat was maintained. Each establishment consumed daily from 175 to 200 bushels of bituminous coal. The cost of boring such a well in 1840 was about $3,500. The annual yield of salt from a single well was from 1,000 to 5,000 barrels.


Grist mills, 21; saw mills, 13; salt-boiling establishments, 12; carpentering and building establishments, 5; manufactories of brick, 9; manufactories of tin and sheet-iron ware, 3; manufactories of woolen fabrics, 3; manufactories of nails, 1; rolling-mils, 2; furnaces for making iron, 6; iron foundries, 2; tanneries,8.


In 1825 Charles C. Gaskill, agent of the Holland Land Company, offered 150,000 acres for sale, a considerable portion of which was in this county, at from $1.50 to $2 per acre, on these very easy terms: if at $2 per acre, 5 per cent of the purchase money was to be paid at the time of the purchase; if at $1.75 per acre, 25 per cent in hand; and in case one-half of the purchase money was paid in hand, $1.50 per acre, and the balance in either case to be paid in eight equal annual payments, with interest after the second year. Mr. Gaskill stated among other things that the country was considerably improved by good roads, mills, and other conveniences which do not usually exist in infant settlements.

In 1830 the best improved farming land sold from $12 to $20 per acre. The best improved farming land is now worth from $60 to $100 and upward per acre.


The report of the commissioner of statistics of Pennsylvania for 1873 shows the assessed valuation of real and personal property in Armstrong county to have then been as follows: Real estate, $11,488,318; personal estate, $2,259,795. Total, $13,748,113. Multiple to produce true value, 3. True value of real and personal estate, $41,244,339.


In and before 1830: flour, $3 a barrel; beef, 3 cents a pound; venison hams, 1 � cents a pound; fowls, 6 cents each; butter, 6 to 8 cents a pound; eggs, 6 cents a dozen.

The price of labor was fifty cents a day per hand, besides boarding, but very little cash was paid.

There is a great contrast between those and present prices. For instance, flour is now quoted at $7 to $8 a barrel; butter varies from 14 to 35 and 40 cents a pound through the year, and eggs from 10 to 20 or more cents a dozen, and so on.


The people of this county have been generally engaged in agricultural pursuits. The number of those engaged in other avocations is comparatively small.

There were raised and made in this county in 1870, according to the census, 298,194 bushels of wheat, 135,257 bushels of rye, 680,314 bushels of corn, 883,846 bushels of oats, 33,192 tons of hay, 126,068 pounds of wool, and 964,020 pounds of butter, besides large quantities of other agricultural products.

The report of the secretary of internal affairs shows the area of this county to be 612 square miles, or 391,680 acre, of which nearly two-thirds are under cultivation.


was organized in 1855.18 Its object was to foster agricultural, horticultural, domestic and mechanical art, and for a while excited a lively interest in these objects. A fair ground was leased for a term of years and put in proper condition. Creditable and largely attended fairs were held in October, 1856 and 1857, after which they ceased to be held, and the society languished and died.

The order of Grangers or Patrons of Husbandry has been introduced into this county within the last three years. The present number of lodges or granges is twenty-two, and the number of members about 1,550. The object of this order is to advance the interests of agriculturists by the interchange of opinions, diffusion of useful knowledge, and by dispensing, as far as possible, with the aid of middle-men in their purchases of store goods and agricultural implements � purchasing those articles, as far as practicable, directly from the manufacturers and wholesale dealers. As those middle-men constitute a considerable percentage of the consumers of agricultural products, a question to be solved is: What will be the effect of changing that class of consumers into producers?

The agricultural implements in former years were quite primitive. The plow, for instance, was the old wooden moldboard kind. Spring carriages and wagons began to be used at a comparatively recent date. Small quantities of grass-seed were sown. The principal crops were rye, wheat, corn, oats and buckwheat. In 1819-20 the price of wheat was fifty cents a bushel, rye forty cents, and oats twenty cents. Threshing machines began to be used in this county about 1849. A few mowing machines and reapers began to be introduced about 1859-60. They and sulky rakes were brought into use from 1863 to 1865. The various labor-saving agricultural machines now in use are as numerous, or nearly so, as the broken surface of the territory of this county will permit. The culture of the soil is becoming more effective as the light of science and the tests of experiments are more freely enjoyed.

About 1838 a superior breed of sheep was introduced into this county. Other stock have since been improved by importations of choice breeds from abroad.

Some of the soil, especially along the streams, is very fertile. Much of the rest is strong, and may, with proper culture, be made remunerative. Some other portions are unfit for cultivation.


By resolutions of Congress, surveys of the Allegheny river were heretofore ordered to be made. One was made, in 1829, under the superintendence of James Kearney, Lt. Col. Topographical Engineers, from Pittsburgh to eleven miles above the mouth of French creek, and another, in the summer and autumn of 1837, under the superintendence of George W. Hughes, U. S. Civil Engineer. The maps, charts and plan of the latter, who was required to examine into the practicability of constructing a canal along the valley of the Allegheny river, were unfortunately destroyed by the burning of the building occupied as an engineer office. Nothing was saved but a mutilated portion of the profile, and the journal which was kept by the gentleman charged with the soundings and making an examination of the bed of the stream, so that he was obliged to avail himself of the report of Col. Kearney's survey, from which the writer has gathered the following: The Allegheny river, above the Kiskiminetas, flows generally through a deep, rocky and precipitous ravine. Its bed is formed of a succession of eddies or ponds, with intervening natural dams, having an inclination or slope in the direction of the current, the limits of which, in terms of the altitude and base, may be expressed by the fractions 1/12 and 1/700 nearly. The bottom is mostly of sandstone in place, except upon the ripples or obstructions, where it is usually covered with gravel and stones broken and rounded by attrition. The navigable depth of water on these obstructions does not exceed two feet; and upon some of them there is not more than eighteen inches � a depth which is often confined to a very narrow space; the greater part of the shoals being nearly, and in some places, quite bare at low water. Following the lines of the survey, which are not always parallel to the axis of the stream, the distance from the mouth of French creek to the Kiskiminetas would be ninety-four and a half miles, nearly, with a descent of the stream of two hundred and sixteen feet; and from the Kiskiminetas to Pittsburgh, twenty-seven miles, with a fall of forty feet.

From Cumming's trunk, which is at or near the northwestern corner of this county, down along the river to Freeport, the numbers of obstructions in, and the geological features on each side of the river, are as noted as follows:

Cumming's trunk � obstruction No. 34. Sandstone and timber in abundance.

Clarion river � obstruction No. 35. Sandstone and timber in abundance.

Parker's Falls, Bear Creek � obstruction No. 36. Bed of river chiefly of sandstone rock in this vicinity. Right bank rises 10' in 15 yards; soil sandy. Left bank rises 15' in 40', and is also stony. Obstruction No. 37. Right bank: soil, clay: rises 23' in 70'. Left bank stony, with a rise of 15' in 40'.

Fox Island Rapid � obstruction No. 38. Right bank rises 60' in 25'. And left bank is at an angle of 35 : soil stony.

Eagle Island Rapid � obstruction No. 39. Head of shoal. Right bank retreats 30 yards; sandy, then rises 15' immediately.

Armstrong's Rapid � obstruction No. 40. Left bank slope of 45 , and is a mixture of sand and clay; rubble along the shore, and continues much the same to the 356th picket (below Catfish), at which point the right bank rises from shore 14' in 30'. Left bank generally at an angle of 45 as before, and composed of a mixture of sand and clay.

Catfish Falls � obstruction No. 40 �. Banks generally mixture of sand and clay, with stony beach receding from 0 to 5 yards, and then rising about 14'in 30' Left bank generally at an angle of 45 in this vicinity.

Opposite Sugar Creek � obstruction No. 41. Banks generally mixture of sand and clay, with stony beach receding from 0 to 5 yards, and then rising about 14' in 30'. Left bank generally at an angle of 45 in this vicinity.

Goose Bar � obstruction No. 42. Banks generally mixture of sand and clay, with stony beach receding from 0 to 5 yards, and then rising about 14' in 30'. Left bank generally at an angle of 45 in this vicinity.

Above Frazer's run or Denneston's � obstruction No. 43. Banks generally mixture of sand and clay, with stony beach receding from 0 to 5 yards, and then rising about 14' in 30'. Left bank generally at an angle of 45 in this vicinity.

Red Bank Ripple, near Red Bank Creek � obstruction No. 44. Right bank rises at an angle of 35 ; soil clay. Left bank rises 18' in 50', and is rocky; the bed of the stream gravel; rubble along the shore.

Early's Ripple � obstruction No. 45. Right bank rises 20' in 60', and is a mixture of sand and clay. Left bank rises 25' in 40"; soil a mixture of clay and stones (debris).

Dixon's Falls � obstruction No. 46. Right bank stony, at an angle of 45 . The beach on the left is about 24' in width, and the bank of sandy soil; rises suddenly to an altitude of fifteen feet.

The dam at this place is about 10' high. It does not back the water more that about ten rods above the highest point of the dam. Banks angular, 15 slope; sandstone.

Nelly's Chute � obstruction No. 47. Hills very steep on each side of river; rubble in abundance. Banks nearly the same as at Dixon's falls.

Near Mahoning Creek � Obstruction No. 48. Right bank rises 32' in 80', and is a mixture of sand and clay. The left bank is sand, with a rise of 25' in 56 yards.

Near Col. Orr's � obstruction No. 49. Right bank rises 32' in 80', and is a mixture of sand and clay. The left bank is sand, with a rise of 26' in 56 yards.

Near Pine Creek � obstruction No. 50. Banks perpendicular; strata of sandstone rock; 12' high, timbered.

Cowanshannock Creek � obstruction No. 51. Banks perpendicular; strata of sandstone rock; 12' high, timbered.

Above Kittanning � obstruction No. 52. Right bank is stony, with a rise of 25' in 26 yards. Left bank steep, having a rise of 28' in 20'; soil sandy.

Kittanning Ferry � obstruction No. 53. Very small stone on beach. Right bank recedes from the river 120 yards, with a very gradual rise of from 12 to 15 feet; sandy soil. Left bank soil the same, rising 20' in 30 yards.

Cogley's Island � obstruction No. 54. Very small stone on beach. Right bank recedes from the river 120 yards, with a very gradual rise of from 12 to 15 feet; sandy soil. Left bank soil the same, rising 20' in 30 yards.

Cogley's Island � obstructions Nos. 55 and 56. Bed of stream rocky; sandstone.

Crooked Creek Island � obstructions No. 57. Banks rise at an angle of 30 . Soil a mixture of sand and gravel.

Nicholson's Run, Shafer's Mill � obstruction No. 58. Banks rise at an angle of 30 . Soil a mixture of sand and gravel.

Nicholson's Run, Shafer's Mill � obstruction No. 59. Banks ascend at an angle of 45 ; soil sand and gravel.

Above the mouth of Kiskiminetas, and below where the aqueduct was � obstruction Nos. 60, 61 and 62. Banks the same as before, soil sand and stones.

In the middle of July, 1842, the stage of water in the Allegheny was such that its navigable condition was very good, which had been and which has since been an unusual occurrence at that season of the year. The water was so high that rafts of the largest size passed down it to Pittsburgh, and the steamers Izak Walton, Warren, Ida, Pulaski and Forrest made trips to points in the upper Allegheny.


Every section of this county is pervaded by different systems and species of bituminous coal, sandstone and iron ore. Here and there are veins of excellent fire-clay, from one of which specimens have been tested that proved to be equal in quality to any in the world, except one in Germany, from which crucibles are made. According to an estimate made by J. McFarlane from facts collected by him, 355,586 tons of bituminous coal wee mined in the county in 1870. Large quantities of petroleum have been produced in the northwestern section during the last ten years.


The increased need for facilities for locomotion, arising from increasing population, has been met by the public authorities, in the construction of numerous roads and bridges. Iron superstructures of bridges have, within the last few years, taken the place of wooden ones in several instances, because they are found to be the best, and in the end the cheapest. There are now nine county bridges of that material, most of which are already completed.


Whenever war's dread tocsin has sounded in our land, the hardy sons of Armstrong county, imbued as it were with the martial spirit of him whose name it bears, have patriotically rallied in defense of our country's glory, honor and integrity.

During the progress of the revolutionary war there was but a mere handful of permanent residents within what is now the limits of this county, so that the number therefrom that engaged in that war, if any, must have been very small.

In the war of 1812, when the population of this country was still small and sparse, one full company volunteered its services and was ordered to Black Rock, N. Y. It was recruited by Capt. James Alexander, the editor and proprietor of the Western Eagle.

Another company was drafted, of which John Banuckman was captain, and assigned to the army of the Northwest. Its members, in common with the rest of the militia from Pennsylvania, must have evinced true valor and patriotism. Their six months' tour of duty had expired before the arrival at Fort Meigs of the reinforcements which Gen. Harrison was then awaiting. Impending charges from the hostile foes appeared to threaten all around. That fort was exposed � it was besieged. Longer services of those whose terms had expired were needed. Then, April 1 or 2, 1813, it was that our late fellow citizen, Gen. Robt. Orr, then holding the rank of major, and others of the Pennsylvania detachment, numbering two hundred, volunteered, officers and all, as private soldiers, for fifteen days longer in defense of the fort. They were honorably discharged on the 17th of that month, on the arrival there of the expected reinforcements from Kentucky and elsewhere. From the general orders then issued by Gen. Harrison, which the writer finds in the Pittsburgh Mercury of April 29, 1813, he cites this paragraph:

"The General, on behalf of the government, gives thanks to Majors Nelson, Ringland and Orr, and every other officer, non-commissioned officer and private of this detachment for their services and magnanimous conduct upon this occasion."

The Mercury said: "Fort Meigs is now" � Thursday, April 29, 1813 � "in a perfect state of security and defense in men and works. The conduct of these men in volunteering for its defense when left nearly destitute was truly patriotic and deserving the notice of government."

The write has learned from another source that Major Orr kindly administered to the wants of the men under his command, and if a private soldier became sick or unable to march, the major would dismount and give the disabled the use of his horse.

In the Mexican war the services of an organized company were tendered to and almost accepted by the government. About half a dozen citizens of this county served through that war in other companies.

Source: Page(s) 13-59, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed January 1999 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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