An Oil Town of Phenomenal Growth - Settlement of the Parker Family - An Indian Village on the River Bottom - Bear Creek Furnace - Lawrenceburg - Its Origin and Decline - Parker�s Landing - The Discovery of Oil and the Rapid Upbuilding of a City - Important Events - Leading Industries - The Past and the Present Contrasted - Educational and Religious Institutions.
THE discovery of oil was one of the most important events in the history of Armstrong county. As a result of that discovery, land that was worthless, or nearly so, for agricultural purposes, appreciated in value a thousand fold; a new industry of manifold branches sprang into being, and great social and commercial changes followed. The northern portion of the country was most affected by the oil excitement. Here in a region, hitherto thinly peopled, there suddenly sprang up a thriving and populous town, which soon became the chief emporium of the lower oil region.
Parker City is situated on the western bank of the Allegheny river, eighty-two miles above Pittsburgh, and about three miles from the most northern limit of Armstrong county. It takes its name from Hon. John Parker, who originally owned nearly all the land now included within its limits and was the first settler of the neighborhood. About the year 1786, acting as a deputy under Moore, John Parker left his home in Washington county and came into the wilds of Western Pennsylvania in the capacity of a surveyor. He surveyed much of the land west of the river now included in the northern portions of Armstrong and Butler counties. At the same time his brother William was engaged in the same work east of the river. There were Indians in the country, and on one occasion a man named Elliot, one of the surveying party, getting into a difficulty with them, shot an Indian at the mouth of Bear creek. The surveyors were greatly alarmed and fled. The Indians followed them for a considerable distance, but at length abandoned the pursuit and gave the whites no further trouble.
At the time of the survey, the "flat" on which now stands the main portion of the first ward of Parker was occupied by an Indian village. No account of this bottom-land was taken by the surveyors, they considering it worthless, and extending their surveys only to the top of the bluff. Afterward, a man named Baird purchased the flat from the Indians, and then sold it to Parker after the latter had settled here.
About the year 1797, Mr. Parker, who had been granted several hundred acres for his services in surveying, removed to his land and thenceforth resided here. His house stood on the hill in the edge of Butler county. The old homestead is now the property of his son George. The elder Parker was appointed one of the first associate judges of Butler county, and held the office thirty-five years. He was a man of prudence and sagacity in business affairs, and one of the most prominent and respected citizens of his day. He devoted himself to farming and stock-raising principally, and was very successful in business. He greatly encouraged and promoted the settlement of the surrounding territory by his advice and example, and many of the early pioneers found in him a true and trustworthy friend. He reared a large family, but two members of which are now living - Fullerton, of Parker City, and George, of Parker township, Butler county. All of the sons were intimately identified with the business interests of this section, and Fullerton Parker,* though he has long since passed the age when most men retire from active participation in business affairs, is still interested in many public enterprises of the city, which is mainly built upon his land.
William Parker, the father of Judge Parker, moved from Washington county with his family about the year 1798, and settled upon Bear creek. Several families came in company with him, making their way up the river from Pittsburgh on keel-boats, which also carried their goods. When opposite the garrison at Pittsburgh one of the boats upset and several persons were drowned, among them a son of William Parker. Several children of the party saved their lives by getting upon feather-beds which kept afloat until they were rescued. Mr. Parker erected a mill soon after his arrival on Bear creek, not far from the spot where the furnace was afterward built. It was built of logs and contained only the rudest machinery; nevertheless it proved very valuable to the scattered settlers who came many miles to avail themselves of its privileges. It was the first mill erected in the northern part of the county.
*Born in 1806.
THE BEAR CREEK FURNACE
One of the pioneer industries of Armstrong county was a charcoal blast-furnace for the reduction of iron ore, erected at a date probably not later than 1820. The old stack was torn down years ago, and now nothing remains of the once important industry save the memory existing in the minds of old residents. the furnace stood on the north side of Bear creek, about three-fourths of a mile from the mouth of the stream. It was built by Whiting & Stackpole, who failed after conducting the business for a time. Col. Robinson, Henry Baldwin (afterward Judge Baldwin), and a Mr. Beltzhoover were the next managers. They also failed, and were succeeded by John and Alexander McNicoll. A Mr. Davis, of Pittsburgh, next tried the business, and failed. Samuel and Reuben Leonard became the owners of the furnace, and carried on a successful business until about the year 1840, when they ceased operations on account of the scarcity of timber and the increased cost of conducting the business. The furnace was run by steam, and had a large capacity for those days. The product was frequently seventy-five tons of pig iron per week.
This village was brought into existence by the Bear Creek furnace, and consisted mainly of rude dwellings occupied by employees of the company operating the furnace. The closing up of business by the Leonards was the death-blow of the place, which steadily declined until, at the commencement of the oil excitement, only three or four houses and two churches remained.
Lawrenceburg was laid out by Judge Parker about the year 1819. John Conway, a wheelwright, built the first house, and was the first settler. He was soon followed by William Cartwright. The old stone house erected by him was used while he owned it as a blacksmith shop, and also contained a carding machine. It is now the oldest building in Parker, and is owned by Elisha H. Bailey.
The first store in Lawrenceburg was established about 1820, and was conducted by Judges Parker and Bovard, of Butler county. It was run on the cooperative plan, and many settlers of the neighborhood were interested. It flourished a number of years. James Reed opened the first tavern. The number of stores and taverns increased as the village grew, and it was not long until there were three stores and three taverns, each doing a thriving business for those days, and attracting customers from points many miles distant. There was a large amount of traffic and travel upon the river, by means of canoes and keel-boats, and all who had business to transact at Parker�s landing naturally came to Lawrenceburg to do their trading, as there was no village at the former place.
Besides those already mentioned, Michael McCullough, John Andrews, Edward Carleton, Dr. Beggs and John McCaslin were among the first residents of the place. McCullough kept store and built the first brick house. John Marshall, now the oldest living resident of Lawrenceburg, came to the place in 1825, and bought 20 acres of land at $1 per acre, of which he is still the possessor. His land was not included in the original plot of the village, but was adjacent to the northern line of the town. When his land was found to be valuable oil territory, $45,000 was offered for it, but Mr. Marshall concluded not to sell. Mr. Marshall is a native of Greensburg, and was born in 1802. His sister, Mrs. Bailey, is also one of the old residents, having resided here forty-six years.
From the closing up of the furnace business in 1840 until the discovery of oil in 1865, Lawrenceburg continued to exist in name, but was a place of no importance. At the latter date there were, at a liberal estimate, less than fifty inhabitants. By 1870 thousands of people had located here either as permanent or transient residents, while all the surrounding oil fields were thickly populated. No one who has not witnessed the rapid up-building of towns in the oil region can form an adequate idea of the growth of the place. The importance of the oil discoveries was not fully realized until midsummer of 1869, and that date really marks the beginning of Parker City. Lawrenceburg became a part of the second ward of Parker City in 1873.
In the early years of the settlement of this part of the country, Parker�s landing was an unimportant station, occasionally visited by the canoes and keel-boats flying upon the river. Subsequently it became a steamboat landing and a lumber station. A store was kept at the landing many years, but no village ever sprang up around it. In 1824, Judge Parker erected a large building which was used as a warehouse. It is still standing and is the oldest house in this part of the city. It has been converted into a hotel, and is now known as the Parker House.
Samuel Craig, who opened a blacksmith�s shop at the landing in 1851, thus summarizes the industries and the inhabitants at that date: Fullerton Parker was the proprietor of the warehouse and ran a tannery; Peter McGuff and William Rogers acted as storekeepers; Thomas M. Parker kept hotel, and James P. Parker ran a ferry. The condition of the place at the beginning of 1869 was substantially unchanged.
W.D. Robinson, now of Kittanning, ran a store at Parker�s landing from 1843 until 1869, not conducting the business personally all the time, however.
The few industries just enumerated and two or three dwelling-houses -- these were all that the "flat" comprised in 1869. A few years later the same spot becomes the heart of a busy mart. Here is a railroad, a city, daily newspapers, banks, hotels, hundreds of flourishing industries ! All this grand transformation has been wrought by one potent factor - petroleum.
DISCOVERY OF OIL AND THE RESULTS
The first oil discovered in Armstrong county was struck at the Clarion well, No. 1, on the Robinson farm one mile north of Parker City, on October 10, 1865. From that discovery no important results immediately followed. It was not until the latter half of the year 1869 that a genuine oil excitement revealed the importance of the oil fields surrounding Parker. About a dozen wells had been put down on the hill near Parker prior to the time mentioned. But these test wells had proclaimed the value of the Butler county oil territory in addition to that of Armstrong, and such an impetus was given to the business that it speedily became evident that Parker was to become an important point as a base of operations for producers and operators. Lawrenceburg had already become a thrifty village, and in 1869 and 1870 the landing rapidly became the scene of the busiest activity. Rude shanties were constructed in which business was commenced before the echoes from the carpenter�s hammer had died away. Saloons, stores, hotels, machine-shops and shops of every kind soon crowded every available space between the bluff and the river. Fires raged and destroyed whole blocks of these box-like structures, but others were built in their places and business was resumed almost before the ashes were cold. November 4, 1870, there was a fire which destroyed the greater part of the buildings at the landing, and on the 4th of December following the central part of Lawrenceburg was burned. January 19, 1873, and again on the 45h of April of the same year, the business portion of the first ward was almost entirely destroyed. But fires counted for little in those days; the buildings were replaced in a few days and everything went on as usual. After the last fire of 1873, the streets of the flat were laid out on a new plan, and gradually substantial and more costly buildings were erected. River avenue was built up on both sides, and consisted of business houses for almost its entire length. The effects of the great fire of 1879 will be noticed further on.
The lawlessness and loose morals characteristic of the followers of the oil excitement did not fail to pervade the new town with a contaminating influence. Good citizens soon saw that there was every necessity for strict and vigilant government. The rapid influx of population naturally led to the belief that Parker was destined to become a large and important place. Accordingly a petition for a city charter was presented to the legislature; it was favorably received, and by an act approved March 1, 1873, all that portion of Armstrong county, from the Butler county line to the river, situated between Bear creek on the south and "Thom�s Run" on the north, became incorporated into the city of Parker. By a supplementary act, approved March 23, 1873, it was ordered that the first municipal election of the city be held Friday, March 28, 1873.
The mayors of the city have been as follows: J.W. McFarland, 1873-4; George S. Kelly, 1875-6; H.R. Fullerton, 1877-8; E.H. Randolph, 1879-80-1-2.
Until 1872 there was no means of reaching Parker station on the Allegheny Valley Railroad, except by the ferry plying between that station and Parker City. But in the year mentioned, three of the most enterprising business men of Parker, S.D. Karns, H.R. Fullerton and Fullerton Parker, caused a superb iron bridge to be constructed. The structure cost $80,000. it is a toll-bridge, and serves also as a means for the Pittsburgh & Western trains to cross to the junction. Mr. Karns, who was the leading spirit in this as well as many other important public enterprises, disposed of his interest in the bridge (one-half) to James E. Brown, whose heirs now own it. The other owners still retain their shares.
The importance of having further railroad facilities became apparent to the citizens of Parker after the town had attained to an encouraging degree of prosperity. In 1878 the work of building the Parker & Karns City narrow-gauge railroad was undertaken. The road was completed as far as Petrolia early in 1874, and in April of the same year trains began running to Karns City. The Butler and Karns City extension was built in 1876, largely increasing the business of the road. This railroad was the result of an enterprise of which S.D. Karns, H.R. Fullerton and Fullerton Parker were the chief projectors and supporters. In 1881 the road became a part of the Pittsburgh & Western company�s lines, and during 1881-2 it was extended up the river to Foxburg, there to be connected with the Pittsburgh, Bradford & Buffalo road. From Butler another extension was built during the summer of 1882, joining with the main line at Collery junction. On the 1st of January, 1883, through trains began running from Parker City to Allegheny. Parker is thus placed on the direct through line of the Pittsburgh & Western. The repair shops and carworks of the railroad have been located at Parker from the commencement of the Parker & Karns City road and have formed one of the most important industries of the city.
The Parker City waterworks were built in 1872 by Miller & Vesey, who sold out to Coulter & Overy. In 1874 H.R. Fullerton purchased the works, greatly enlarged their capacity and laid several miles of new pipe. In 1882 the present owners, Tinsman & Russell, purchased the property of Mr. Fullerton. The works consist of two large Cameron pumps, with a capacity for raising the water 280 feet and amply supply all parts of the city. A. Randolph and John Walker have had the management of the works for the last six years.
The rapid growth of the town and the consequent increase of business soon rendered the establishment of a bank a necessity. The Parker Savings Bank was opened in 1869, and continued to do business until July, 1882, when it failed, involving large losses to its depositors. The Exchange Bank was established in 1871, and quit business in 1880. In October, 1882, Parker, Fullerton & Co. began the banking business, and their bank is now the only one in the city.
Parker City gasworks were built in 1877 by a stock company, in which W.C. Mobley, William Smith, M. Naylor and J. Dougherty were most largely interested. Gas is manufactured from crude oil under the process known as Smith�s patent. The pipes extend to the principal part of the first ward and to the residences on the bluff.
The fire department of the city consists of two volunteer fire companies, on in each ward. First ward, Columbia Engine and Hose Company, John Tonks, foreman; second ward, Citizens� Hook, Ladder and Hose Company, S.M. Brewer, foreman.
In the fall of 1869 the first machine-shop was opened by Bradley & Duff, in Lawrenceburg. A large business was carried on, affording employment to many hands. The firm continued to do a successful business until 1882, when the shop was closed. Two machine-shops in the first ward are still in operation, those of John Sweeny and Tinsman & Russell. Sweeny�s machine-shop, a three-story building, was erected in 1872. Mr. Sweeny started a foundry in 1875, which is still running, giving employment to seven men. J. McNutt also has a foundry. Evans & Foster are the proprietors of a carriage factory.
Another business interest is the establishment of Wilkins & Fullerton, manufacturers and dealers in lumber. The business began in 1875 with the starting of a sawmill. In 1880 the proprietors added a planing-mill and box factory. They are now doing a business of $12,000 to $15,000 per year.
One of the most important industrial enterprises ever undertaken in Parker is the Parker City glassworks. The company, as at first formed, consisted of over 100 members, of whom the following gentlemen were the most largely interested: John Duff, John Leonard, Fullerton Parker, W.C. Mobley, C.P. Hatch, William Morgan, James P. Parker, Wilson & Manifold, and others.
The works were built in 1880 and set in operation in September of that year. The first board of managers are John Duff, president; J.J. Campbell, secretary; S.H. Manifold, treasurer; Fullerton Parker and W.C. Mobley. The product of the works for the past year is estimated at $100,000. Twenty-six blowers are employed; 20 to 25 laborers about the works and 40 men and boys in other departments.
Diffenbacher�s directory of the oil region for the years 1875-6 places the population of Parker City at over 4,000. At the same time an equally large number of people were residing in the immediate vicinity and dependent upon the city for supplied and commercial facilities. The years 1878-9 witnessed a decline in the oil business, resulting from the partial exhaustion of the wells and the low price of oil. It does not require a long time for an oil town to fall from the height of prosperity to a position of comparative unimportance. The population of Parker today is probably little more than 1,000. Property has depreciated in value to an alarming extent. During the period of greatest prosperity many costly and elegant residences were erected on the beautiful sites which the crest of the bluff affords. To-day their value is reckoned in hundreds of dollars instead of thousands.*
On October 30, 1879, River avenue, from Smullin�s building to the site of the glassworks, was entirely destroyed by fire. The state of business at that time did not warrant the erection of new buildings, and consequently but a small portion of the burned district has been rebuilt.
In ten years Parker has experienced more vicissitudes than has fallen to the lot of many other towns whose years amount to half a century.
*As an example the fact may be stated that a house costing at least $4,500 recently sold for the small sum of $400!
A number of unsuccessful newspaper enterprises originated in Parker during the prosperous period of the city�s history. A daily paper was established by Johns & Jackson, and published a short time in 1871-2. Clark Wilson conducted the Oilman�s Journal several years. These papers, and several others which were started, were never financially successful.
The Parker City Daily, however, had an exceptionally prosperous career. Established in September, 1874, by G.A. Needle, it soon became recognized as one of the most reliable and influential journals of the oil regions, and its circulation rapidly increased. The Daily was started as a rival of the Oil City Derrick, and was of the same size as the latter journal. It was controlled by able editors, who were assisted by a staff of enterprising reporters and correspondents. The Daily contained the Associated Press dispatches and much general information, in addition to its careful digest of news from every part of the oil region. It was published as a morning paper until 1879, when it was issued as an evening journal for about three months. The office was destroyed by fire in that year, and the paper ceased to exist. Mr. Needle, who had for some years been issuing a weekly edition of his journal, at once began the publication of The Phoenix, a weekly local newspaper, which is still flourishing.
For many years Dr. Simeon Hovey was the only medical adviser for the entire northern region of Butler and Armstrong counties, as well as considerable portions of Venango and Clarion counties. Some account of his services will be found in the history of Hovey township.
The first physician who settled in Lawrenceburg was Dr. Joseph Beggs, who came from Ireland and located at this place about the year 1824. He was accounted a good and skillful doctor, and won many friends and a most excellent reputation. He practiced in Lawrenceburg several years, and died at Miller�s eddy.
Dr. James Goe, a cousin of Dr. Beggs, came from Ireland a little later, and joined his uncle in the practice of his profession. After the death of Dr. Beggs he moved to Callansburg, Clarion county, and thence moved west and died.
After 1869 physicians became so numerous in Parker that it would be useless to attempt to catalogue their names. Scores took up their abode here, some of whom remained a few days, others a few weeks or months. The principle of "the survival of the fittest," however, appeared to prevail, and the number of those who stay lengthened into years was not large. We mention the names of those who have practiced longest and most successfully: Dr. A.M. Hoover, who has been a resident physician of Parker longer than any other member of the profession in the city, located at this place in 1870, coming from Freeport. Dr. Hoover is a native of Butler county, and a graduate of the Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia.
Dr. J. Eggert is the second oldest physician in Parker. He came in 1870, after having practiced for some years in neighboring towns. His son is now associated with him in practice.
Since 1870 the following physicians have located in Parker City: Dr. J. Eggert & Son, Dr. Murdoch, Dr. J.R. Murray, Dr. J.E. Hall, Dr. B.F. Goheen, Dr. J.Y. McCulloch, Dr. A.M. Hoover and Dr. W.B. Wynne. All are still practicing, with the exceptions of Drs. Murdoch, Hall and McCulloch.
PETROLEUM AGRICULTURAL ASSOCIATION
Application for a charter for the above association was made to the county court in May, 1881, by E. Robinson, G.A. Needle, Samuel Robinson, J.P. Parker, Dr. J.W. Wick, William Dee and others - J. Smullin, attorney for the application - and on the 26th of the month a decree was granted by the court, approving the proposed charter.
The following directors were chosen for the first year: Elisha Robinson, Hovey township, Armstrong county; Henry Kohlmeyer, Crawford�s Corners, Butler county; Ira D. McCoy, Crawford� Corners, Butler county; John M. Shira, North Hope, Butler county; J.S. Grant, Perry township, Clarion county; William Crawford, Emlenton, Venango county; Dr. J.W. Wick, William Dee and W.J. Parker, Parker City.
The association leased thirteen acres of land for the fair grounds, and erected suitable buildings. The capital stock is divided into 1,000 shares, and has been largely taken by farmers of Armstrong, Butler, Venango and Clarion counties, at $5 a share.
Two successful exhibitions have been held, at each of which the exhibits were creditable, and much interest was manifested.
The officers of the association consist of a president, vice-president, nine directors (one of whom shall be president), a secretary and a treasurer. The following are the officers and directors of 1882: Officers - A. Tippery, president; Ira D. McCoy, vice-president; G.A. Needle, secretary; E.Y. Fullerton, treasurer. Directors - A. Tippery, Foxburg, Clarion county; E. Robinson, Hovey township, Armstrong county; J.M. Shira, North Washington, Butler county; J.M. Fox, Foxburg, Clarion county; H.R. Fullerton, Parker City, Armstrong county; J.P. Parker, Parker township, Butler county; William Dee, Parker city, Armstrong county; Joseph Grant, Pollock, Clarion county; William Martin, Crawford�s Corners, Venango county.
Masonic - Parker City Lodge, No. 521, F. and A. M., was instituted October 28, 1873, with 14 charter members. The present membership is about 75.
Odd-Fellows - Parker Lodge, No. 761, I.O.O.F., was instituted June 13, 1871, with 20 charter members. There are now about 30 members in good standing.
Lawrenceburg Lodge, No. 782, I.O.O.F., was instituted November 22, 1871. the membership, which has numbered over 100, is now reduced to 64.
Workmen - Penn Lodge, No. 10, A.O.U.W., instituted December 21, 1871, now has about 50 members.
Royal Templars of Temperance - Hughes Council, No. 37, R.T. of T., was instituted April 4, 1879, with 32 charter members. Present membership, about 75.
Knights of Honor - Parker City Lodge, No. 580, K. of H., was instituted April 6, 1877, with 22 charter members.
Knights and Ladies of Honor - Parker City Lodge, No. 103, K. and L. of H., was instituted December 12, 1878, with 27 charter members.
Grand Army - Calvin A. Craig Post, No. 75, G.A.R., was chartered April 21, 1880. Sixteen names appear on the charter. The post is now large and flourishing, numbering 65 members.
Royal Arcanum - Parker Council, No. 179, Royal Arcanum, was organized October 17, 1878, with 32 charter members. The membership January 1, 1883, was 46.
Aid Union - Parker Union, No. 420; Equitable Aid Union, was organized in March, 1882, with 175 charter members. The present membership is about 130, 74 of the number being beneficiary members.
Labor Union - Garver Assembly, No. 2370, was organized November 2, 1882. Meetings are held in Odd-Fellows� hall, in the Second ward, every Thursday evening.
The first school building erected within the present limits of Parker was a log structure which stood in Lawrenceburg. The school was supported by subscription, and presided over by the itinerant schoolmasters of pioneer days. Later, a union school district was formed, and the schools jointly supported by Perry (afterward Hovey) township, Armstrong county, and Parker township, Butler county.
During the past eight years the city schools have consisted of three school buildings, in which schools have been conducted at an annual cost of about $3,400. For six years the schools have been thus divided as to grades: one grammar school, two intermediate and two primary. The fact that the three school buildings are situated about half a mile apart has prevented thorough grading. The schools have generally been well managed, and the pupils have made fair progress. The value of the schoolhouses is about $5,000. Seven teachers are employed, T.J. Moffitt being the principal.
In 1882 the school board, against strong opposition, began the erection of a large two-story brick schoolhouse, which is to be completed and occupied by the 1st of September, 1883. The opposition came from citizens who feared an increase of taxes, but all dissatisfaction seems to have passed away, and the new school building is pointed out with pride by some who strongly opposed the project of building. The house contains eight schoolrooms, and will afford ample accommodations for all the pupils of the city. Its cost is $11,000.
At last reports, the school population was 497.
The earliest Presbyterian church in the northern part of the county was the church of Ebenezer, organized at Lawrenceburg in 1819. William Redick and Gideon Gibson were the first elders. The congregation was largely composed of residents of Butler county, though the church was attended by all the Presbyterians of the surrounding country. A meeting-house was erected in 1882. For several years the congregation was without a pastor, but there was preaching by supplies at stated intervals.
The pastors have been as follows: Rev. Ebenezer Henry, 1847-55; Rev. James Coulter, 1860-9; Rev. Samuel A. Hughes, 1870-7; Rev. James N. McGonigle, 1878-80; Rev. H.W. Lowry, 1881, now in charge. The present church edifice was erected in 1867. The church enjoyed great prosperity during the period of oil development. There has since been some decline, but the congregation is still a strong body, numbering 205 members. The membership of the Sabbath school is 215.
UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
In 1834 the Lawrenceburg Associate Reformed Church was organized by Rev. Joseph Johnston. A house of worship was erected the following year. Rev. Mr. Johnston became pastor, and after getting the church well established returned to his native country, Ireland, and his friends never again heard from him. There are but scanty records of this ancient organization. James Turner, Thos. Allen and Samuel Hutchison were among the first elders.
Rev. James Green succeeded Johnston as pastor, and was followed by Revs. Robert Oliver, Riddle and Fife. The congregation became so reduced as to be unable to support a pastor, and there were no regular services for a number of years prior to the oil excitement.
The present United Presbyterian organization was formed May 12, 1871, by a committee appointed by the Presbytery, and consisting of Rev. M. Clark, and Elders Robert Campbell, Robert Black and Joseph Rosenberry. The number of members was about 35. The first elders elected were E. McHenry and G.W. Weller. The first pastor, Rev. W.G. Nevin, was installed in May, 1872, and served during 1872-3. Rev. J.T. Wilson was pastor in 1874-9. The present pastor, Rev. William Robertson, was installed in 1879. The present membership is about 60. The number of Sabbath-school scholars is about 65.
The new church edifice is a commodious and costly building, erected during the years 1877-8, at a cost of $8,500.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
At the first session of the Erie conference in 1836, Lawrenceburg and vicinity was missionary territory. From 1836 to 1840 the following ministers were appointed to the mission: Revs. D. Richey, H. Elliot, A.S. Hitchcock, Stephen Heard and W.S. Winaus.
The closing up of business by the company operating the Bear Creek Furnace caused the appointment to be discontinued. In the winter of 1858-9, M.S. Adams, a local preacher, held a series of meetings at Lawrenceburg, which awakened great interest. Rev. John McCombs, then in charge of the North Washington (Butler county) circuit joined with Mr. Adams in carrying forward the work. As a result of their labors, a society was formed and Elisha Myers became class-leader. The charge was added to the North Washington circuit and continued a part of the same from 1859 to 1869. During this period the circuit was supplied by the following ministers: Revs. Milray, Johnson, Paden, Boyd, Bennett, Clark, Moore, Hubbard, Domer, Perry, Hays, Hicks and Mendenhall. The following were the class-leaders during the same period: Elisha R. Robinson, Reuben Leonard and George W. Morrow.
In 1870, the Lawrenceburg charge was removed from the circuit and made a station. The first pastor, Rev. R.W. Crane, served until 1873, and has been succeeded by the following ministers: R.M. Baird 1873-4; R.N. Stubbs, 1874-6; J.S. Lytle, 1876-9; E.D. McCrary, 1880; J.M. Bray, 1881-3.
No church edifice was built by the society until 1870, when the present house was erected. The dedication took place January 15, 1871, with services conducted by Rev. Dr. Pershing. A parsonage was subsequently erected. Many improvements in the church property have since been made. Since April, 1882, the sum of $1,400 has been expended in improvements. The church is out of debt and in good financial condition.
The present membership is 240, and the number of Sabbath-school scholars, 230. A number of revivals have blessed the labors of the pastors.
CHURCH OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
The first Catholic services in Lawrenceburg, so far as there is any record, took place September 6, 1831, when Bishop Kenrick visited the place and confirmed eighty-three persons, gathered from a wide extent of surrounding country. Few if any Catholics were residents of the place until the discovery of oil. In 1869, Rev. Joseph Haney, of Murrinsville, visited Lawrenceburg and conducted services. He continued his labors until July of the following year, when lots were purchased and the work or erecting a church was begun. Though the building was not completed until the summer of 1871, it was occupied in October, 1870. It was then a frame building 45 x 30 feet. In March, 1871, Rev. J. Stillerich became pastor. He remained until November of the same year, when he was succeeded by Rev. James P. Tahany. To Father Tahany�s labors much of the temporal prosperity of the church was due. He built a neat house to be occupied as a parsonage; and after the congregation had increased, enlarged the church by an addition 18 feet to the front and 24 feet to the rear. The belfry was added and the interior of the church finished. The edifice was dedicated by the bishop as the Church of the Immaculate Conception, November 24, 1874. Father Tahany also organized a church in Petrolia, and the two formed one pastorate. In December, 1875, Father Tahany was succeeded by Rev. James Donelly, who acted as pastor until October, 1877. Rev. P.M. Garvey then became pastor, and in August, 1879, was succeeded by Rev. F.X. McCarthy. Father Melady is the present pastor. The church is in a prosperous condition, although its membership has been greatly diminished by the decline of the town.
While Parker was most flourishing, a Baptist congregation was organized, which during 1875-6 enjoyed great property. A church was erected and the congregation became quite large. But with the decline of the oil interests, the membership diminished rapidly, and the organization ceased to exist.
ENGLISH LUTHERAN CHURCH
Christ�s Evangelical Lutheran church of Parker City was organized in the fall of 1879. During the summer of that year R.M. Zimmerman, a theological student, had conducted services in the place, and succeeded in awakening an interest which resulted in the formation of the church. The congregation was organized by Rev. W. A. Passavant, D.D., of Pittsburgh, with twenty-one members. A house of worship was erected during the fall of 1879, at a cost of $3,300, and was dedicated about the close of the same year. Rev. J.H. Kline became pastor in 1880, and resigned after serving one year. The congregation finding it impossible to support a pastor any longer, the church was taken under the care of the Pittsburgh synod as a mission, and the appointment ahs since been filled by regular supplies.
Source: Page(s) 476-584, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq. Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed March 2000 by Lisa Strobel for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Contributed by Lisa Strobel for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/armstrong/)
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