Sanke Spring Township

Organization of the Township- Settlement of the Moores- John Moore- Seven Years in Indian Captivity- Elizabeth Tussey- Allaquippa's Town- An Early Indian Village- Indian Graves- Colonists from Loudon County, Virginia- The Hartley Family- They Entertain President Washington- Family Sketches- Reminiscences.

SNAKE SPRING township was organized in 1857. Previous to that date its territory had been included in Colerain and West Providence. The spring in front of Edwin Hartley's present residence has been known as Snake Spring, from time immemorial. This fact accounts for the somewhat singular name of the township. The tradition is that the Snake Indians frequented the spring and had a village or camping-ground near it.

That portion of the county now included in this township was the scene of the labors of some of the first pioneers. The names of a few of the courageous men who invaded the solitude of this wild and unattractive region as far back as 1760 are still preserved by tradition; but the names and the exploits of the greater number have long since passed into oblivion.

Prior to 1763, three brothers by the name of Moore settled in Snake Spring valley. During a season of Indian depredations, the three brothers, together with the family of John Moore (afterward associate judge), started from their homes to seek the shelter of Fort Bedford. On the way one of the brothers was overtaken by the Indians, and it was supposed that he was slain. Seven years later, however, he returned to his home, having escaped from his savage captors. The Snyder farm is the land taken up by the Moores.

"Allaquippa's Town" is mentioned in a patent to a piece of land, situated near Mount Dallas, on the south side of the river, and now owned by William Hartley, of Bedford. Elizabeth Tussey, widow, obtained a title to this land in 1763, and resided upon it several years. The mountain to the eastward, originally known as the Terrace mountain, was doubtless called Tussey after her name. We can form some idea of the boldness and courage of the pioneers by picturing to ourselves a widow and children in their lonely home in this wild region, savages and beasts of prey all about them, and the nearest protection, in case of attack, at Fort Bedford, seven miles distant. Mrs. Tussey sold her farm to the Parishes, of Philadelphia, from whom it was afterward purchased by William Hartley the first. She rode all the way from this place, on horseback, to Philadelphia, to acknowledge the deed.

Allaquippa's Town may have been an Indian village of considerable importance. Allaquippa (by some written Allaquippus) was an Indian queen, and a woman of influence among her people. From this location she moved to Turtle creek. In 1754 she was living at the mouth of the Youghiogheny, and was there visited by Col. George Washington, in whose journal the incident is mentioned. A score or more of Indian graves marked the site of Allaquippa's Town at the time of settlement by the whites. They were mound-shaped and covered by heaps of stones. Many of these graves have been opened. Several were destroyed by the building of the railroad. Mr. William Hartley, who opened one of the mounds in 1855, informed the writer that he found glass beads, bones, a pipe, a piece of iron and a leaden bullet, all lying in such positions as to indicate that the warrior had been buried in a sitting posture, with his face toward the east.

The period of permanent population began soon after the revolutionary war. From that time onward the Juniata valley, Friend's Cove and the Snake Spring valley were peopled quite rapidly. The descendants of these early settlers are the principal occupants of the land today.

On the place long known as the England Farm, on the top of Tussey's mountain, a man named Gairhart was the first settler. He was driven from his home by the Indians, his cabin burned, and was compelled to take shelter in the Bedford fort to save his life.

The B.R. Ashcom farm was occupied very early. Deeds now in the possession of Mr. Ashcom show that it was surveyed for Christopher Miller in 1767. September 11, 1779, Christopher Miller and Susanna, his wife, transferred the property to John Bonnet; consideration, nineteen hundred pounds, lawful money of the State of Pennsylvania." The deed is attested by George Woods and George Woods, Jr., and signed by the marks of Miller and his wife. John Bonnet transferred the land to David Irwin in 1779; consideration, two thousand five hundred pounds. Irwin sold it to Nicholas Crevingston. In 1785 Crevingston sold it to John Smouse for three hundred and seventy-five pounds. Smouse's heirs, Michael and Charles, were the next owners. They sold to Dewalt Leisinger in 1824. From him it passed into the hands of his son John Leisinger, together with fourteen acres additional to the original two hundred. Leisinger sold to Jacob Barndollar in 1834; and Barndollar to B.R. Ashcom in 1859. We give this one specimen of land titles for, the purpose of showing the antiquity of the settlement of this township and the numerous transfers and changing values of property. Many other examples equally complex might be added, but one will suffice.

Henry Armstrong emigrated from England to America prior to the revolutionary war, and settled in what is now Huntingdon county. He served in the revolution as a lieutenant. He removed to Snake Spring valley in 1787. His children were Joseph, Henry, John, Fannie and Samuel. Joseph was born in the town of Huntingdon in 1780. He was in the war of 1812 and held the rank of orderly sergeant. He died in 1856. His wife was Catharine Bottenfield and his children were Eliza, Henry, Susan, Joseph and D.B.

Loudon county, Virginia, furnished a large number of settlers to Friend's cove and Snake Spring valley. These were the Smouses, Diehls, Lutzes, Ritcheys, Koonses and others, whose descendants are still numerous in this county.

John Smouse was a wagoner during the French and Indian war, and at that time visited this part of the country. He and Christopher Miller were present with their wagons- having cut a road to that point- at the time of the fight at Bloody Run. His sons, Peter and George Adam, were soldiers from Virginia in the revolution. John Smouse and his family settled in Bedford county on the place which is now the Ashcom farm. John's sons were Peter, George Adam, John, David, Michael and Charles. His daughters became Catharine Ritchey, Susan Koons and Matilda Koons. Peter subsequently removed to the vicinity of Cumberland, and George Adam to Indiana county. The others remained and died in this vicinity. Michael Smouse was twelve years of age when he came to this county. He died in 1851, aged seventy-seven, on the place where his son George now resides. His wife was Sophia, daughter of John Nycum, an early Loudon county settler, who lived on the pike where George Koons now resides. Michael Smouse was the father of thirteen children all of whom lived to be over fifty years of age: John (dead), George, Henry, Jonathan, Mary, Catharine (dead), Anna (dead), Michael, Elizabeth (dead), Margaret, Daniel, Sophia and William. George Smouse, the oldest of the survivors, was born in 1802 and has always lived near his birthplace. His recollection of early days is distinct and vivid and his reminiscences interesting.

Samuel Diehl and John Lutz were also from Loudon county. Lutz came here when a boy, alone and poor, to visit acquaintances. He remained in the county and worked for old George Smouse for several years. He exhibited indomitable pluck and perseverance and died possessed of considerable property. It was he who built the first carding-mill and cloth-fulling establishment in the township. The mill is still in operation, and is known as the Lutz woolen factory.

John Inglebright, a Hessian soldier, was another of the Virginians. He lived on the Mortimore farm. Peter Koons came here when young, and lived and died where his descendants now reside.

The pioneers manufactured every article of clothing worn by their families from flax and wool. There were men and women who were professional weavers, and they were generally kept busy. Women who followed spinning for a livelihood went from house to house, carrying their spinning-wheels on their backs. Poverty and hardship were the lot of all. There were no distinctions of rank or wealth, for there was nothing on which to found such distinctions. There was generally a fraternal, helpful spirit between neighbors. Of course there were altercations and disputes occasionally, but they were quickly and quietly settled. Envy and animosity could not exist among people whose very existence depended upon the helpfulness of each other.

The Snyders were among the pioneers along Valley run. David, Joseph and Jacob had farms in that neighborhood at an early day.

The Hershberger farm is one of the oldest in the valley. It was occupied by John Hershberger soon after the revolutionary war; next by his son George, then by Henry, son of George, and now by his widow. On this place is an old graveyard. No one now living can tell who was first buried here, and the oldest graves are unmarked by any memorials. A clock in possession of the Hershberger family was brought to this county by John Hershberger. His cabin was too low-posted to allow it to stand in an upright position, therefore a hole was cut through the floor. The ancient timepiece is still running, and on its case are marks made by the cabin floor against which it stood.

Small clearings and small crops sufficed to supply the wants of the pioneers. There were no markets and consequently no inducements for extensive farming. Trees were killed by girdling, and "frolics" were made for cutting timber, rolling and piling logs, digging stumps, etc. These were festive occasions; much whisky was consumed, and generally some fighting took place. Neither young men nor old looked upon fighting as disgraceful, and there were some who thought it the highest possible honor to be regarded as the bully, or most famous fighter, of a neighborhood. Many trials of strength- sometimes good natured, sometimes impassioned- were witnessed at raisings, frolics and other gatherings.

The Mortimores are the descendants of one of the earliest settlers. James Mortimore was an Irishman, who located in Snake Spring valley and followed surveying. John, David, Joseph, George and James were his sons, and Jane (Evans), Elizabeth (Armstrong) and Isabel his daughters, all dead. John Mortimore, who died in 1863, was born in Snake Spring valley, in 1786. He married Emily, daughter of John Leisinger, an early settler, and was the father of fourteen children. But three members of his family are now living- John, Joseph and Andrew Mortimore.

The first mill within the limits of this township was known as the Arnold mill, and was situated on the Jamison property. After it had gone to ruin, Leisinger's mill, further down the stream, took its place. In 1826, Dewalt Leisinger erected a second mill, the one now owned by B.R. Ashcom. It has been enlarged and repaired since Mr. Ashcom has owned it.

Abraham Ritchey, about 1825, erected a carding-mill and fulling-mill on Valley run, not far from the present site of Hoover's mill.

William Hartley was an early settler on the Mount Dallas farm. A history of the family will be found in a biographical sketch given elsewhere.

William England, a German, or of German descent, was a hunter, and lived in Friend's cove, near the mountain, on what is now the Whetstone farm. The family were in the county prior to 1771. John, a brother of William, resided in this county for a time, but went to Ohio. William's sons were James and William. The former was in the war of 1812. William, Jr., married Catharine Steffler, and James married Betsey Smith. William was the father of sixteen children; all are living but two, and all in the West except James, John and Peter in this county.

One of the earliest settlers in the western part of Snake Spring valley was Jacob Studebaker. He settled in the woods and became the owner of several tracts of land. The stone house now the home of Jacob Snyder was built by Studebaker in 1803.

Jacob Shuss, a native of Maryland, came to the valley in 1812 from Washington county, Virginia, and settled on the farm now John Baker's. He had two sons, Daniel and Adam, both living, and six daughters: Elizabeth (deceased), Catharine, Mary (deceased), Anna, Sarah and Priscilla.

Daniel Shuss came to this township when two years of age, and has since resided here. He settled on his present farm in 1834. The place had been improved previous to that time, but the buildings had been destroyed and the clearings grown up to bushes. Mr. Shuss worked earnestly and long, and succeeded in making a fine farm, building a good brick house, and surrounding himself with comforts for his old age. His son, Daniel H., now lives at home and manages the farm.

John Baker, a farmer and cooper, moved from the eastern part of this state and settled in Morrison's cove. He reared a large family, and most of his children settled in this county. His son Jacob was born in Franklin county, and came to this county when about two years of age. He settled in Snake Spring valley, where he died in 1882. His wife was Hannah Snyder, daughter of John Snyder (of Jacob). Jacob Baker was the father of four children, all of whom live in Snake Spring township- John, Samuel, Catharine (Mrs. John P. Gochnour) and Maria (Mrs. Kneisley).

John Shafer and family moved from Franklin county to King township in this county in 1798, and settled near Sarah furnace. John, son of the above-mentioned John, came to this county with his parents; was drafted into the United States service in the war of 1812, and was afterward a lieutenant in the Black Hawk war. He moved to Blair county in 1813, and to Snake Spring township in 1824. A successful farmer and a good citizen, he died in the eighty-fourth year of his age. His wife was Elizabeth Hess, and they had seven children who grew to mature years: Rachel, Adam, Henry, Catharine, Samuel, Margaret and John H. Adam, Henry and Samuel are still living. Adam Shafer is an old resident and a progressive fanner. He has resided on his present farm about forty-five years, and made many valuable improvements.

John H. Shafer was born and reared on the Shafer homestead. He was a worthy and respected citizen. He died in 1880, in the fiftieth year of his age. His widow, née Rosanna Beegle, now lives on the farm with her sons. Mrs. Shafer was born in Snake Spring township. Her father, Charles Beegle, was a native of this county. Before the Shafers, George Adam Smouse lived on the farm and had a distillery.

B.R. Ashcom, an old resident and one of the most prominent citizens of this township, has resided at his present home since 1843. He built the elegant and substantial buildings which adorn his farm, and has a beautiful and pleasant home. Mr. Ashcom has pursued a variety of occupations, having been a farmer, a schoolteacher, a clerk, a furnace manager and a farmer by turns. He worked seven years for the Hopewell Furnace Company in the capacities of clerk and manager.

Lewis Triplett is a native of Fauquier county, Virginia, and has followed milling from boyhood. He came to this county in 1850 and has since worked at his trade. Mr. Triplett is now miller at Hoover's mill, on Valley run. This mill was built by George Blackburn and is now owned by John H. Hoover. It started in 1867.

John H. Hoover is a native of Napier township and is a son of Philip Hoover. His grandfather, Philip Hoover, was an early settler of Napier township and came from Hagerstown, Maryland. John H. Hoover has followed school-teaching for fourteen years and is a most successful and popular instructor. He owns a farm and mill property in this township and has resided here since 1881.

S.J. Mattingly, an enterprising farmer of this township, is a native of Muskingum county, Ohio, and has resided on his present farm since 1878. His neighbor, Luke Kilcoin, came to this county from Cumberland, Maryland, in 1881, and is likewise a prosperous farmer. Mattingly and Kilcoin both own portions of the old Jamison property.

William M. Diehl is a native of Colerain township and a descendant of one of the earliest families in that neighborhood. His father, Joseph H. Diehl, is still living and resides on the old homestead of his father, John Diehl. William H. has resided in Snake Spring township since 1869.


The churches in this township are four in number- the Dunkard church and the Reformed church in Snake Spring valley, and the Methodist church and the Union church on the turnpike.

The Snake Spring congregation of the Brethren church was organized in 1840 with one hundred members. The first meeting-house was built in 1861. Four meeting-houses and a membership of two hundred and eighteen now belong to this church. Ministers: Jacob Koons, W.S. Ritchey, John S. Baker, John B. Fluck.

Concerning the German Baptist or Brethren church, the following sketch, prepared by a leading member of the denomination, may prove interesting:

About one hundred years ago there were a few scattered members in what now constitutes the congregations of Yellow Creek (New Enterprise), Woodberry, Hopewell and Snake Spring valley, and Samuel Ulrich was the first bishop. As far as it is now known, Jacob Snyder was the first member who resided in Snake Spring valley, on the farm now occupied by Rosie Snoeberger, Sr., and was the first deacon in the valley. Isaac Ritchey, Sr., was the first resident minister, chosen to that position about 1813. The first Love Feast was held at the stone house now occupied by Jacob Snyder, about the year 1807, and ministers from Morrison's cove and the eastern counties officiated on that occasion. Part of the Morrison's cove territory was subsequently separated from the Snake Spring congregation, and after the death of Isaac Ritchey, Sr., Jacob Snyder became the bishop of the Snake Spring congregation, and in the meantime Jacob Steel, Andrew Snoeberger and Isaac Ritchey, Jr., were chosen to the ministry. Steel became bishop after the death of Jacob Snyder, and Henry Clapper, Henry Hershberger, David Clapper and Jacob Koons were chosen to the ministry.

About 1872, what now constitutes Hopewell congregation was separated from Snake Spring congregation, leaving Andrew Snoeberger, Henry Hershberger and Jacob Koons as the ministers, and about a year afterward Andrew Snoebergor was made bishop. In 1873 William S. Ritchey was chosen to the ministry, in 1875 John S. Baker, in 1877 John Bennet, in 1880 John B. Fluck and on January 1, 1883, Christian Knisely was chosen to the ministry. The present deacons are John W. Snyder, Daniel S. Snyder, John S. Snyder, Thomas Dibert, Daniel Hershberger, Israel Bennett, John Stayre, Soloman Hershberger and Daniel R. Snyder. The present membership of the Snake Spring congregation is about two hundred and fifteen.

A Reformed congregation worships in the Bald Hill union church on the turnpike. It was organized in the summer of 1853, by Rev. Henry Heckerman. Daniel Defibaugh was the first elder, and Joseph Mortimore the first deacon. The pastors of this congregation have been Revs. H. Heckerman, M.H. Saugree, D.H. Leader and W.I. Stewart. The church edifice was erected by the Presbyterians, Reformed and Lutherans in 1853, at a cost of nine hundred and ninety-eight dollars. In 1883, it was repaired at a cost of three hundred and fifty dollars. The present membership of the church is thirty.

Irvin Reformed church, in Snake Spring valley, was organized by permission of the Mercersburg classis, July 2, 1882. There were nineteen original members, mostly from the Ritchey and Mock families. The present membership is twenty-three, and thirty Sabbath-school scholars. Rev. William I. Stewart, of Everett, is the pastor. The house of worship was built in 1882, and dedicated on November 19. It cost eight hundred dollars.

A Methodist class was formed in 1853, under the ministerial labors of Rev. S.V. Blake. William Hartley was the first class-leader, and he and his brother, J.G. Hartley, were the leaders in organizing and building the church. The house was repaired about ten years ago by Mr. J.G. Hartley. It is a neat and tasteful little church. The membership is small.


George Sill, the progenitor of the Sill family in Bedford county, was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, in 1733. He came to America in 1760, and on his arrival was sold for non-payment of passage money to one John Woods, of Bedford, for whom he served six years. In 1766 he became the owner of three hundred acres of land in the locality known as "Dutch Corner." He immediately began to make improvements upon the tract. Desiring to dispose of a portion of his purchase, he wrote to his brother Michael, in Germany, to come over, which he did, and to him he sold the farm now owned by Michael Holterbaum's heirs. George Sill married Dolly Holsman, of Bedford township. Both lived to a good old age. He passed away July 18, 1813, at the age of eighty years; she, in June of 1817, at the age of seventy-nine. Their children were: John, born April 13, 1768; Abraham, December 27, 1776; Daniel, February 5, 1778; Samuel, June 19, 1781; Catherine and Phebe, the dates of whose births are not known. Michael also lived and died on the farm purchased of his brother, and after his death his family removed to Montgomery county, Ohio. Daniel married Catherine Stiffler in 1805. He purchased a portion of his father's estate, and reared a family of six sons and five daughters: Elizabeth, born in 1806; Sophia, 1807; Daniel, 1814; Mary, 1815; Zachariah, 1817; Jonas, 1819; George, 1820; Michael, 1824; Magdalen, 1825; Henry, 1828; Susannah, 1831. He was an industrious and successful farmer. He purchased farms for each of his six sons. In 1832 he purchased the farm on which he passed the remainder of his life, and which is now in possession of his son Henry. He died June 6, 1850. Both he and his wife were consistent and honored members of the Lutheran church.

Henry Sill was born August 7, 1828. He lived with his father until his decease, when he came into possession of the old place. He was married March 28,1852, to Miss Maria, daughter of Samuel Earnest, of Bedford township. Three children have been born to them: William H., Sarah C. and Elmira M. Sarah married John B. Phillips, and Elmira M., Franklin Todd.

Both he and his wife are members of the church of their ancestors, and are in every respect worthy members.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 269-273, History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties

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