The first steps toward the organization of the township of Goshen were taken by the presentation of a petition to the Court of Quarter Sessions, at a term thereof held on the second day of December, 1844, from divers inhabitants of the townships of Lawrence and Girard, setting forth " that the petitioners residing in the settlement called Goshen, being partly in Lawrence and partly in Girard townships, and unconnected, in a great measure, with the other settled parts of said townships, and therefore labor under great inconvenience on account of schools, they being in separate townships, and that their roads are neglected by the supervisors of both townships, more particularly of Lawrence township, who reside at too great a distance from this settlement to attend to roads in that far-off settlement; also that the election district is to them, in both townships, inconvenient; that it is very inconvenient to attend at the place of holding elections in both townships; and the right of suffrage (free and equal), is a privilege that your petitioners claim as a right. Therefore we ask that a new township be formed out of Lawrence and Girard townships, including part of Jay and Gibson townships not taken into Elk county, if the last named township is not too far distant, and praying the court to appoint suitable persons to examine into the premises and make report to the judges of the next Court of Quarter Sessions to be held at Clearfield on the first Monday of February, 1845."
Upon this petition the court appointed J. F. W. Schnars, James A. Reed, and Isaac W. Graham, commissioners or viewers, to examine and report on the granting the prayer of the petitioners, "if to them it shall seem expedient."
The report, which bears the date January 10, 1845, is as follows: "We, the undersigned persons, appointed in accordance with the above order, having been sworn and affirmed according to law, do report, that we have examined drafts, etc, to lay out said township of Goshen as per draft (annexed), beginning at a white oak corner on the Susquehanna River, running in a northerly direction to the Elk county line; thence west to the line west of 5332; thence to a southerly direction to the mouth of Lick Run; thence down the Susquehanna River to the place of beginning." The report was confirmed May 5, 1845 and the court directed that tract No. 1921 remain in Girard township. So that, as stated, in the year 1845, Goshen became a regularly created township separate and distinct, and authorized to administer its own affairs as prayed for by the petitioners. Its early settlement was, of course, made while it formed a part of the older townships.
Geographically, it is situated in the northern part of the county, having for its north boundary Elk county; west, Lawrence township; south, Lawrence township and the Susquehanna River, and east, Girard township. It may also be classed among the smaller townships of the county, both in area and population. The mean length north and south is about twelve miles, and the average width of about four and one-half miles. Its main streams, beside the river, are Lick Run and Trout Run in the south half, both of which discharge into the river, and Laurel Run, which drains the entire northern part, discharges into the Sinnamahoning, and finally into the West Branch.
So far as its early settlement is concerned that feature of its history was established long years before it became a township by a few sturdy pioneer families and woodsmen, who took up their abode along the river and the larger streams leading to the river. While the settlement of Goshen has kept almost even pace with other townships similarly situated, or having like natural resources, it has been by no means rapid. The lower portion is moderately well populated and improved, while the upper, or north part, is an entire and vast wilderness, uninhabited save by the temporary residence of lumbermen. The truth appears that not to exceed one-third of the entire township is inhabited or settled. This, however, is no drawback to or prejudice against Goshen, as it contains some of the finest and most fertile farming lands in the county. That it has an underlying strata of mineral deposits is well established, and the development of this valuable and recognized industry remains now but a question of time.
Among the pioneers in the township, or the territory that in later years was erected into the township of Goshen, was the Bomgardner family, former residents of the Kishicoquillas Valley, who took up lands near the mouth of Trout Run, in the lower portion, and near the river. In the family were several sons, strong, active and industrious, and who were well known on the river. George Bomgardner, jr., one of these boys, still lives in the township. The settlement of the family was made in the year 1820.
Joseph Thorndyke was another of the old settlers who located near the same place, Trout Run, but in the year 1822, two years later than the Bomgardner family. Thorndyke was an inveterate trapper and hunter and paid but little attention to improvements. He had no family.
John, Henry and James Irwin were sons of Henry Irwin, sr., a pioneer of the county, who lived at the mouth of Wolf Run, and afterward in Goshen. The boys were natives of the county. The parents were of Irish birth. John Irwin and Thomas Leonard are said to have been among the first land claimants of Karthaus township.
William Ross improved land about a mile below the mouth of Trout Run. The place was formerly owned or occupied by William Leonard, father of Abraham Leonard. This is the land now owned by C. H. Wood, in Goshen. Some time about the year 1835 Abraham Leonard settled on the location now of John Sankey, where he made an improvement.
Jacob Flegal, a brother of Valentine Flegal, and one of the pioneers of the county, made a farm about 1842 or 1843, not far from the head of the stream known as Flegal’s Run, in the southwest portion of the township, but nearly in the center of the most thickly populated part. He afterward built a sawmill on the run. The Flegals were an extensive family and have many descendants yet living in the township. Jacob Flegal built a mill on the site now of Brown’s mill, on Flegal’s Run. It afterward was sold to J. Scott Flegal, who rebuilt it and put in steam-power. About 1850 it was sold to Milton Brown, who now owns and operates the same. About the same tine, or perhaps a few years earlier than the settlement made by Flegal, Isaac Graham came to the township. He had a large family, and after a residence here of some years, emigrated to Iowa. He had a brother, named Robert, who lived here for a time and also went west. Matthew Tate, still living in the township, must also be counted among the pioneers, having come prior to 1840. He bought lands on Jerry Run. Robert C. Shaw, brother of Judge Richard Shaw, and son of Archie Shaw, the pioneer of Mount Joy ridges, came to Goshen about the same time that Matthew Tate located here. Their lands were adjoining. Several of the Shaw descendants are still living in the vicinity.
As fully set forth in the early portion of this chapter, Goshen was taken from the adjoining townships and erected separately in May, 1845. At the first enumeration of taxables, made in the year following, there appears to have been then residing in the township less than forty persons who were classed as taxable inhabitants, and twelve of these were single freemen. The following enrollment made by Isaac W. Graham, assessor, will show the name and occupation of each taxable person, with the number of acres owned at the time by each, respectively, and will as well serve to show who were the residents of the township.
Robert Graham, farmer, 120 acres; Abraham S. Leonard, farmer, 127 acres; Joseph Morrison, farmer, 62 acres; William L. Shaw, farmer, 100 acres; George Bomgardner, sr., one cow; George Bomgardner, jr., 100 acres; Robert Bomgardner, 100 acres; Jacob Flegal, farmer, 100 acres; Daniel Lewis, 75 acres; Leonard Bomgardner, farmer, 50 acres; John Bomgardner, farmer, 50 acres; William Leonard, farmer, 1100 acres; James Flegal and John Leonard, 104 acres; Bigler, Boynton, and Powell, 140 acres and one saw-mill; William L. Rishel, farmer, 75 acres; Merrick Housler, one yoke oxen; Horatio Hall, one cow; Henry Lewis, farmer, 118 acres; William Housler, one horse and one ox; Nathaniel Brittain, one horse; Thompson Read, farmer, 160 acres; James A. Read 260 acres; John Fenton, 50 acres; Matthew Tate, farmer, 150 acres; Robert C. Shaw, farmer, 95 acres; I. W. Graham, farmer, 139 acres; John Barr, 103 acres; Isaac Lewis, 100 acres. The single freemen were George Bomgardner, jr., Robert Graham, John Shaw, James L. Flegal, John Fenton, William Housler, William Sunderland, William Graham, William Brittain, Thompson Read, Matthew F. Tate, and John Wesley Housler. It is possible that some of the foregoing named persons were not actual residents of the township at the time the assessment was made.
It appears that at the time there was but one saw-mill in the entire township, that assessed to Bigler, Boynton & Powell. The members of this firm were William Bigler, Jonathan Boynton, and William Powell, each of whom were residents of Clearfield borough, and, with the exception of ex-Governor Bigler, are still living there.
Ellis Erwin, a former merchant of Clearfield town since about 1835, moved to Lick Run during the year 1856. He purchased property there in 1846. Martin Nichols had commenced the erection of a saw-mill on the run in 1845,and this property Mr. Irwin purchased. He completed the mill and started the lumbering business, which he has since followed. Ferdinand P. Hurxthal and James Irwin had started a mill erection and dam across the river below Irwin, but were not able to complete it. In the fall of 1847 Mr. Irwin bought this property and the dam privilege, together with lands on the opposite side of the river, completed the construction, and thus acquired a valuable water-frontage. In 1852 a general merchandise store was started there by Mr. Irwin, which he has since managed in connection with his other extensive business interests. The present Lick Run Mills post-office was established in 1872, and Ellis Irwin appointed postmaster, which office he has ever since held. Prior to this time the office had been located at the settlement known as Shawsville, a few miles further down the river, but the convenience of the towns-people made the change necessary. The office at Shawsville was there after discontinued.
Shawsville, so named in honor of Judge Richard Shaw, an old an respected resident of the county, is a small hamlet comprising a few houses and two or three local industries. Judge Shaw built a grist-mill at the place, at the mouth of Trout Run, in the year 1852, on the lands purchased from Stewardson, of Philadelphia. At the death of Mr. Shaw the property went, by devise, to Arnold Bishop Shaw, of Clearfield, who now owns it. In 1886 the machinery for manufacturing roller-process flour was placed in the mill, thus making it one of the most substantial in the county.
About the year 1870, Morrow & Smith built a water-power saw-mill on Trout Run, above Shawsville. This is now the property of H. H. Morrow. The Shirey saw-mill, on the west branch of Trout Run, was built many years ago by William Mapes. On coming to the ownership of A. H. Shirey it was substantially rebuilt and afterward sold to Frederick B. Irwin who is now lumbering at that point. There also stands another saw-mill near Shawsville, built some years ago.
Goshen township has two regularly organized church societies, each of the Methodist Episcopal denomination, and each having separate church edifices. The first was built about the year 1870, in what is known as the Sankey Settlement, but the church itself is known and distinguished as the Goshen Methodist Episcopal Church. Among prominent members of the church and society are the families of Brice Taylor, John Sankey, Robert Flegal, John C. Smith, John A. Fulton, James Graham, Aaron H. Shirey, Matthew Tate, Thomas Taylor, and others. The church edifice is a substantial frame structure, adequate for the wants of the congregation. It has no regularly installed pastor, the pulpit being supplied by the minister in charge of the circuit to which it belongs. The Shawsville Methodist Episcopal Church was built near the hamlet of Shawsville some five or six years after the erection of the Goshen church, and for the accommodation of the residents of the township in the eastern and southeast portion. Its pastorate is supplied in the same manner as the Goshen Church, and belongs to the same circuit. Among the families prominently associated with the church, either actual members or attendants by preference, are H. H. Morrow, William Helsel, J. C. Smith, A.C. Nelson, John Nelson, C. H. Wood, Mitchel Shope, Andrew Shope, and others from Goshen, besides having a fair attendance from families residing in Bradford township on the opposite side of the West Branch.
It will be remembered that one of the reasons expressed if the petition asking for the erection of Goshen township was, that the people of the settlement were remote from the schools of the older township. Soon after the new township was formed, a school-house was built on lands of Isaac Graham, not far distant from the place where school number one now stands. This was the starting point in educational institutions in the township, and from this, as the population has gradually increased and the several sections of the township become settled and occupied, the establishment of new schools has become necessary, so that, at the present time, there are five school-houses in the township located and designated as follows: One near Irwin’s mill in the south part of the township, and known as the Lick Run school; one at Shawsville, near the mouth of Trout Run and known as the Shawsville school; one in the northeast part of the settled lands at the cross-roads, known as Eden school; one near the center of the township on the west, known as the Williamsdale school, and one in the western part of the township, and known as the West Goshen school. From the time of the organization of Goshen as a township, then having but about twenty-five heads of families residing within its boundaries, there has been a steady and healthful increase in population, so that at the present time it numbers about five hundred persons, and the enumeration of taxables for the year 1887, shows an aggregate of one hundred and thirty-two. The chief pursuit of the people is farming, although during the fall, winter and early spring lumbering is engaged in so generally in the township as to be looked upon and considered as an almost essential part of farm life; but as the timber lands are cleared good farms are made, and agriculture is becoming the main stay of the township.
An abundance of coal of fair quality is to be found in many localities, but none is carried beyond the township limits, or used otherwise than for local consumption. The coal measures occupy the surface for a distance of four or five miles back from the river, but as a north course is pursued the rocks rise more rapidly than the surface, and the lower beds extend further north than four miles from the river, except in the extreme eastern part of the township. The deep ravines cut by Trout Run and its branches, and the other smaller rivulets emptying into the West Branch, materially reduce the available coal area. The spur lying between the two branches of Trout Run is just high enough to catch the Freeport coal, both Upper and Lower—Bed D—but the ridge is so narrow, that the workable area is necessarily very small. Between Lick Run and Trout Run, the Freeport Lower coal—Bed D—lies in the summits with very little earth covering. There have been made several openings on the Kittanning Upper and Lower coals—Beds C and B—but they average only from three to four feet in thickness.
The beds of the township are summarized as follows: Freeport Upper coal—Bed E—found only over a small area averaging about three feet, and Freeport Lower coal—Bed D—covering only a small area, about three and one-half feet in the western, and increasing to about five feet in the eastern part. The Kittanning Upper—Bed C—of greater extent, and fully four and one-half feet in the eastern, and thinning to less than three feet in the western part. Kittanning Middle coal—Bed C—averaging from two to three feet. Kittanning Lower—Bed B—ranging from three to five feet, and containing much poor fire-clay and shale parting. Brookville coal—Bed A—a three foot bed, containing impure matter, and not considered valuable. Mercer coal, intra-conglomerate bed, found about one hundred and fifty feet below Bed B, showing about three feet of fair coal.
Source: Pages 546-551, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.
Transcribed July 1999 by Kim D. Miller for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/~clearfield/)
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