Contributed by F. W. Viebrock
UNDOUBTEDLY, in the erection of the several Townships of the county, there was none that met with the opposition that beset Greenwood. Had the plan been carried out according to its original conception, this Township would have been called "Hoyt," in honor of the late Hon. John P. Hoyt, a former resident of Ferguson, but in that part thereof that was set off to the formation of what ultimately became Greenwood Township. The initial steps looking toward this formation were taken in the early part of the year 1872. At a term of the Quarter Sessions Court held in June of that year, a petition, signed by Hon. John P. Hoyt and fifty-three other citizens, was presented to the court, asking for the formation of a new Township, out of parts of Bell, Ferguson and Penn Townships; and representing that the convenience and interest of the inhabitants would be greatly promoted by the erection of a new Township for the following reasons:
First. Because the Township of Bell is too large, the distance from the line of that part proposed to be included in the new Township to the place of holding elections, being eight miles, and
Second. Because the school districts in those parts of the Townships of Bell, Ferguson and Penn proposed to be erected into a new Township, do not suit the convenience or interest of the inhabitants as the Townships are at present formed. The children in Bell have to cross the river, and, there being no bridges, they can only cross when the water is very low, or the river is frozen over.
In Ferguson Township part of the citizens residing in the vicinity of Dr. John P. Hoyt's mill have no school in their Township nearer than three and one-half miles by the public road.
In Penn Township there is no school nearer to D. W. Hoyt's than three and one-half miles, and N. C. Hoover's place is two and one-half miles from a school in his Township. For these and other reasons your petitioners pray that a new Township may be erected out of parts of Bell, Ferguson, and Penn Townships.
Upon the presentation of this petition, on the 12th day of June, 1872, the court appointed James Mitchell, A. J. Draucker and Moses Wise, commissioners, to inquire into the propriety of granting the prayer of the petitioners, and to report to the court with their opinion thereon.
For some reason a majority of these commissioners failed to act, and the matter came up for further consideration by the court at the September term following. At this time George H. Lytle and J. Elliot Kratzer were appointed in place of Messrs. Draucker and Wise, respectively, and they, with their co-commissioner, James Mitchell, proceeded upon their duties with orders to report at a term of court to be held during the month of January, 1873.
On the fifteenth day of January, agreeably to their instructions, the commissioners filed their report, together with drafts of the new and old Townships. This report and the proceedings were, on the same day confirmed ni si by the court, Charles A. Mayer presiding, but the new Township was by no means an assured fact. The succeeding day, January 16, exceptions were filed, and by the way of remonstrances numerously signed. In February other exceptions were filed, and having become fairly involved in the meshes of the law, and its almost invariable delays, was continued from term to term, through the following courts: April 21, continued to June term, 1873; from June to September; from September to November; from November to January, 1874; from January to March; from March to June; from June to September; from September to November, and from November to January, 1875, at which time the question was finally delivered from the courts, and referred to the electors of the Townships affected for final determination.
In their report, after having minutely described the courses and distances of the proposed new Township, the commissioners say, that they are of the opinion that the creation of a new Township, according to the lines run, would be to the convenience of the inhabitants thereof; and therefore, that, in the opinion of the commissioners, it is proper that the prayer of the petitioners should he granted, and that such new Township should be erected.
They further report that the largest number of taxables to be embraced in the proposed new Township is taken from Bell, and have annexed a list of the male taxables to be taken from the several Townships, as follows: From Bell Township, R. C. Thompson, E. B. Thompson, Charles Hullihan, John Mills, J. N. McCracken, D. W. McCracken, Eli Campbell, Jacob Fryer, J. Q. A. Johnson, G. W. Dickey, Jacob Uber, John W. Bell, Henry Sharp, Marion Sharp, WiIliiam Bell, James Wiley, Nelson Young, Eli Passmore, J. N. Kester, William Kester, Frampton Bell, Samuel Hullihan, James Frampton, G. M. Passmore, John Cunningham, William D. Beck, Thompson McLaughlin, G. D. McCracken, Thomas Thompson, C. A. Rorabaugh, H. D. Rowles, Frank Sawyer, A. T. Goldthread, John Robbins, William T. Thorpe, Charles Thorpe, David Mitchell, A. B. Tate, David McCracken, R. C. McCracken, William Tunblin, John W. Haslet, James K. Henry, Immanuel Hoover.
From Ferguson Township: Hon. John P. Hoyt, S. H. Vanhorn, George Ross, Wesley Ross, John F. Wiley, D. D. Wiley, John A. Rowles, William Rowles, Balser Hullihan, Matthias Hullihan, Conrad Hullihan, Thomas Tubbs.
From Penn Township: W. C. Hoover, Elah Johnson, William Smith, Albert Smith, James Johnson, John L. Johnson, David Johnson, Matthew W. Johnson, Wesley Horn, James Newcomer, Patrick Rafferty, Aaron Newcomer, Josiah Newcomer, Job Curry, Jesse Kester, Frank Kester.
It will be observed that from this report the Township of Bell contributed of her taxable inhabitants forty-four, Ferguson twelve, and Penn sixteen toward the proposed new Township.
By an order of the court made on the 22d day of January, 1875, the question was submitted to the electors, a part of which order reads as follows: "The court orders a special election of the qualified voters of Bell Township, from which the largest number of taxables is to be taken; and also the qualified voters outside the said Township, residing within the bounds of the proposed new Township, on the question of the erection of the new Township, to be called `Hoyt' Township, and appoints the 16th day of February, 1875. as the time for holding such special election."Upon this proposition the vote stood one hundred and twenty-three for, and fifty-six against the erection of the new Township, a majority in favor of the erection of sixty-seven votes. On the 19th day of March, by an order of the court, the Township erection was confirmed and named "Greenwood." The first election for Township officers was directed to be held on the 11th day of May, 1875, at the public house of Samuel Hullihan.
The first officers elected were as follows: justices of the peace, Isaac Keater and John W. Bell; constable, Aaron H. Newcomer; assessor, David Bell; supervisors, G. D. McCracken and Conrad Hullihan; overseers, George M. Passmore and Joseph Newcomer; auditors, Frampton Bell, three years, Z. L. Hoover, two years, Nelson Young, one year; school directors, T. J. Thompson and John S. Johnson, for three years; John A. Rowles and John P. Hoyt, for two years; James Stevenson and J. Q. A. Johnson, for one year; treasurer, Wilson McCracken; judge of election, David Lee.
Greenwood Township occupies a central position among the Townships in the southwest portion of the county. Being formed from parts of Bell, Ferguson, and Penn, they form, in part, its bounding Townships on the west, north, east, and south. Although decidedly irregular in form, it has the general outline of a triangle. The Susquehanna River crosses it in a general course from southwest to northeast, but its course is exceedingly tortuous and winding. The principal streams tributary to the river on the north are Haslet's Run, Curry's Run, and Bell's Run; on the south side are several rivulets of no mentionable size. The country generally throughout the Township is very hilly and mountainous, but along the valley of the river is much productive farming land. All the higher summits are capped with the Mahoning sandstone, indicative of productive coal measures; but as the beds of this rich deposit have been opened at but very few places in the Township, the value of the coal is as yet undetermined. In the northern part the measures have been more fully investigated, and are known to be well worth operating, but that all-important factor--a railroad--is necessary for the full development of this interest. The beds that have been opened vary from two and one-half to four feet in thickness. At the hamlet of Lewisville, near the center of the Township, and also in the southeast corner are deposits of limestone. At the former an experiment was made with this production some years ago, but it was found to contain impurities too much to be made of any special value. Such coal as is now produced in the Township is used wholly for local consumption.
The early history of Greenwood Township and its settlement by the pioneers, was made while it was part of the older Townships of Bell, Ferguson, and Penn. Bell and Penn were erected in 1835, and Ferguson in 1838, and they at a still earlier day formed a part of Pike.
Among the first families to settle in this locality was that of Greenwood Bell, a son of Squire Bell, who was one of the very first settlers of the county. In honor of Squire Bell and his son, Greenwood, Bell Township was so named. The son, Greenwood, in the erection of this Township, comes before the court and public for still further honor, in the formation of this Township, it being named in his honor. Mr. Bell lived on the river near the location of Belleville, one of the small towns of the Township. Here he cleared a farm and built a saw and grist-mill, they being among the first industries in this part of the county. The descendants of Arthur Bell are numerous in this section, and are recognized as being among the substantial men of the county. John W. Bell, son of Arthur Bell, and grandson of Greenwood Bell, is largely interested in business, and occupies one of the best residences in the Township. Greenwood Bell married Elizabeth Roll, by whom he had ten children: Arthur, Mary, Delilah, John, William, David, Julia Ann, Harvey, Grier, and Frampton. Greenwood Bell was a man highly respected in the county, and took an active part in every enterprise of public welfare. In 1820-1 he held the office of county commissioner, serving the first year on the board with William Ogden and Alexander Read, jr.; the members during the second year, 1821, were Read, Bell, and Matthew Ogden. In 1822 he was appointed sheriff of the county, being the first incumbent of the office. He was again chosen in 1823, and served until 1826, at which time he was succeeded by William Bloom.
The pioneer worker of Greenwood Township, its acknowledged leader; he who took the burden of the labor in its erection; he for whom, according to the original plan, it was to have been named, and he for whom, in conformity to the established precedent, it should have been named, was Dr. John P. Hoyt. Elsewhere in this volume is recorded a detailed sketch of Dr. Hoyt's life; therefore, at this time, it is unnecessary to make any extended mention. In the year 1846, then having had a residence in the county of nearly thirty years, Dr. Hoyt moved to a place on the Susquehanna River, about three miles above Lumber City, and in the extreme eastern part of the territory that, in 1875, was erected into Greenwood Township. Here he lived, and here he died at an advanced age, surrounded by family and friends, and in the enjoyment of the comforts earned by a life of toil and perseverance. Dr. Hoyt was married, in 1820, to Mary, daughter of Thomas McClure, a pioneer of Pike Township. From 1852 until 1857, Dr. Hoyt acted with Richard Shaw, as associate judges of Clearfield county.
Another of the pioneers of this locality was William Haslet, who came here with his family, from what is now Clinton county, in the year 1828. He settled on lands now owned by William McCracken, the first farm west from the hamlet of Bower. The children of William Haslet were John, now residing in the Township; Margaret, who married John Nicholas McCracken; Catharine, who married Arthur Bell; Elizabeth, who became the wife of David McCracken; Sarah, who became the wife of Templeton Haslet; Jane, who married George Wilson, and moved to Ohio; Harriet, who became the wife of Greenwood Haslet; and Helen, who married Luther Clark. William Haslet, the pioneer, was a substantial resident of Greenwood, or the territory that was formed into that Township, for twenty-five years. He died in the year 1853.
The McClures were represented in pioneer days in this vicinity. "Squire" Thomas McClure first came to the county in the year 1799, from Cumberland county, but did not bring his family until the succeeding year.
The McCrackens, who are to be numbered among the pioneers of the county, and who are now a numerous family in this locality, came to the then unsettled river country about the beginning of the present century, soon after the advent of 'Squire Arthur Bell, to whom they were related; a relationship that has ever since been maintained. The pioneer of the McCracken family was James. He is remembered as having been a man of great physical strength and activity, a trait that was transmitted to his sons, and of which they made frequent use in all athletic sports. James, Thomas and John McCracken, were sons of the pioneer James. The descendants of this family are numbered among the substantial residents of Greenwood Township.
Among the many familiar names of pioneer families, whose descendants now help to make the population of the Township, are to be found some representing various localities or sections of the river country. There are Thompsons, Johnsons, Young, Passmore, Kester, Hullihan, McLaughlin, Rowles, Robbins, Thorpe, Mitchell, Tate, Henry, Hoover, Ross, Wiley, Smith, Newcomer, Curry, Kester, and perhaps others whose names have been lost. There is no Township in the entire county, possibly, that retains among its present residents, a greater proportion of the descendants of its pioneers, and the pioneers of the immediate vicinity, than does Greenwood; in truth, they have cleared it, they have improved it, they have settled in its remote parts, and they have made it. It is as well cleared and populated in all parts as any Township of the county. When formed, in 1875, Greenwood had a taxable population of a trifle more than seventy persons; in 1886, the number of taxables exceeded one hundred and fifty persons, representing a population of about six hundred and fifty. The inhabitants of Greenwood, and others from other localities as well, have made lumbering their chief occupation during the last thirty or forty years; more recently, however, much attention has been given to agricultural pursuits, so that this is rapidly taking a place among the productive Townships of the southwest part of the county.
Along the river, through the Township of Greenwood, are three hamlets, neither of which are of any considerable size. They are Bower, Lewisville and Bell's Landing or Bellville. The first is farthest west. It contains a few dwellings, a store and post-office, and a saw-mill, the latter the property of John W. Bell. The post-office has been located in the vicinity for a number of years. The present postmaster is R. C. McCracken.
Lewisville was so named for Lewis Smith, an extensive land owner in the vicinity, and one of the pioneers of the county. The town lays a short distance north from the river. Its business interests are light, but in former years when lumbering was at its height, Lewisville was reckoned a "smart little town."
Bellville takes the lead among the hamlets of the Township. It is situate a short distance east of the center of the Township, at a cross-roads, and a little west of the mouth of Bell's Run. It has two stores, owned respectively by Greenwood Bell and Clark Arthurs; a hotel or boarding-house; a saw-mill owned by Frampton Bell. The post-office here is designated as Bell's Landing, but in conversation the town is designated as Bell's Landing, or Bellville, as best suits the fancy of the speaker.
Johnson's is a small settlement comprising a group of a few houses, and so called for James Johnson, son of Samuel Johnson, who wae 12th day of May, 1876, through Dep. J. B. Shaw, organized Greenwood Grange, P. of H., with twenty-three charter members. The first officers were: Master, C. A. Thorp; sec'y, J. S. McQuown. The membership has, during the last ten years, more than doubled, there being fifty-two members at the present time. The present master is James T, Mitchell; secretary, G. W. Campbell. Meetings are held in Bower school-house.
The Township has four schools located as follows: Bower grammar school and Bower primary school, at or near Bower post-office; Johnson school, near the Johnson Mills on Bell's Run, and Flat Grove school, situate in the center of that part of the Township Iying south of the Susquehanna River. The present officers of Greenwood Township are as follows: Justices, Clark W. Arthurs and A. H. Newcomer; constable, J. L. McCracken; assessor, W. S. Belt; judge of election, Eli Passmore; inspectors of election, J. A. Johnson and Harvey Mitchell; district treasurer, C. A. Thorpe; clerk, Blake McCracken; school directors, D. Mitchell, Ogden Campbell, J. W. Bell, Matt. Hullihan, G. W. Dickey, R. C. Thompson; auditors, Job Curry, J. Q. A. Johnson, James Arthurs; supervisors, George Heitzenrather and David Wiley; collector, T. J. Bell; overseer, L. Campbell.
Source: History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887
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