Aldrich History Project

Chapter XLVII

History of Penn Township
and the
Boroughs of Lumber City and Pennville

The lands of this township occupy a position in the county, rather to the west of the center, and about midway north and south. As at present constituted, its boundary lines are irregular and decidedly broken; the townships, Bloom on the north, and Greenwood on the south, evidently taking certain tracts of land belonging to individuals who were desirous of holding them within a single township, rather than dividing them by a township line. On the right, and partially on the southeast, Penn reaches to the west branch of the Susquehanna River; and herein, again, there appears to have been a desire of possessing a water front that has been so much sought in the formation of every township that might possibly be so bounded as to reach a large stream, and without any effort at symmetry or uniformity in boundary lines; and in this case, as least, Penn derives an advantage, for without her limited river front, she would have no stream of any considerable magnitude, through the waters of which could pass her abundant lumber production. Penn township was erected in the year 1835, at the same time, and in the same proceeding by which the other townships of Burnside and Bell were created, and Chest reorganized, the latter surrendering a major part of her then existing territory to the erection of Burnside and Bell.

Penn was taken from Pike, which originally embraced all the lands west of the Susquehanna River.

The petiton presented to the Warter Sessions Court, appears to have been made through the efforts of the inhabitants of the country further up the river than the locality of Penn, and contemplated the formation of but a single township out of parts of Pike and Chest. The prayer of the petitioners was as follows:

"To the Hon. Thomas Burnside, esq., president and his associates, judges of the Courts of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions of the peace of Clearfield county, now holding court of the same, December term, 1834.

"The petition of the undersigned, citizens of Pike and Chest townships, most respectfully sheweth, That they, with many others, labor under many disadvantages, as well as the publick in general, by the said townships being so large, many of us being from twelve to fourteen miles from the place of holding the elections,and the supervisors having to go all over them. In many cases parts of the road are nearly neglected, to the great injury of the publick; and in truth, the loss of money by having to travel so far, that half the day is spent before they get on the ground to work. We therefore pray your Honors, to appoint suitable citizens to lay off part of said township in a separate townshp, if they shall deem it meet, and your petitioners will ever pray, etc."

This ancient document bears the signatures of thirty-five of the most substantial residents of the upper part of the county, and their names will appear in full, in the history of those townships, to which they more properly belong.

Upon the presentation of the petition, the court made the following order: "Clearfield county, ss: At a Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace of the county of Clearfield, held at Clearfield town, in and for said county on the 2d of December, 1834, before the judges of said courts, upon the petition of the inhabitants, citizens of Pike and Chest townships, was read, stating that they labor under great inconvenience on account of the said townships being too large, and mnay of them being from ten to twelve miles from the place of holding elections, etc.; and therefore praying the court to grant them relief by appointing proper persons to divide and lay off a township or townships out of parts of Pike and Chest townships; and, whereupon the court, upon due consideration of the premises had, do order and appoint David Ferguson, Alexander B. Reeed and James Alport, to view and lay off the said townsihp or townships, agreeably to the prayer of the petitions, and shall make report thereof to the next Court of Quarter Sessions, together with plots and rafts thereof. By the Court, December 2, 1834. Jos. Boone, clerk."

The petition, and the order granted and made thereon, were followed by a further petition to the court, which bears more directly upon the subject matter of this chapter. It was as follows:

"To the Hon. Thomas Burnside, president, and his associates, judges of the Court of Common Pleas and General Quarter Sessions of the Peace, etc., to be holden on the fourth day of February. The representation of the subscribers, inhabitants of Pike township, humbly sheweth, that they labor under great inconvenience on account of their remote situation from the place of elections; and, therefore, pray your honors, to appoint commissioners to divide Pike township and part of Chest into three townships, on the river, s that the middle township shall include the whole of the Grampian Hills settlement, and your petitions, as in duty bound, will pray." This supplemental petition was signed by Richard Denvir, John F. Irwin, John Haukenbury and Benjamin Fenton. It was referred to the three commissioners above named, for such action as they deemed prudent.

The report of the comissioners was as follows: "The undersigned commissioners appointed by the Court of Quarter Sessions of Clearfield county to divide and lay out from parts of Pike and Chest, new townships more convenient for the inhabitants of said townships, after having examined the petitions and remonstrances referred to them by the court, and consulting with the people, do report the diagram (annexed to the report) to be agreeably to the prayer of the petitioners, and for the general benefit of the inhabitants of the same. Witness our hands this fourth day of February, 1834. A. B. Reed, James Allport, David Ferguson, commissioners."

Annexed to this report appears this request. "The undersigned, without presuming to dictate to the honorable court, most respectfully suggest the names affixed to the numbers, as appropriate ones for the respective townships. No. 1, Cherry Tree, 'Burnside;' No. 2, Bells, 'Bell;' No. 3, Grampian Hills, 'Penn;' No. 4, Chest Creek, 'Chest.' Signed by the commissioners."

The map or draft of this newly formed township bears the following endorsement in the handwriting of the court. "Penn." "In honor of the proprietor of No. 3, Pa." "By the court, T.B."

Penn township as, by these proceedings laid out and as at present constituted, is perhaps, as irregular in its boundary lines, as any township in the county. Its present boundaries are as follows: north by Brady, Bloom and Pike; easy by Pike and Ferguson; south by Ferguson and Greenwood; west by Bell and Brady townships.

The township contains some very high lands, especially in the northern and western part, where the summits rise in places to an altitude of two thousand feet above tide-water. From the river front, on the south, back for a short distance, there is considerable level land, but with a gradual inclination upward as a north or northwest direction is pursued. The township is well watered, although not possessed of any streams of note except where the Susquehanna River skirts its south bondary. The creeks tributary to the rier that have their course through the township are Curry's Run, in the extreme west part; Poplar Run, having its course about two miles east from Curry's Run; Bell's Run, which practically intersects the township, and runs a generally south course just wst of the center; Little Anderson Cree, the course of which is opposite to that of the other streams, running a north and east direction, and is tributary to the greater Anderson Creek, into which its waters are discharged in Pike township on the east. Besides these, there are other and smaller runs and rivulets incident to a mountainous district.

At an early day, and less than ten years after the erection of the county, the lands along the river were nearly all taken up and occupied, so that subsequent pioneers turned to the most available of the hill, or ridge lands, whereon to erect their habitations and make their farms. In this locality, as elsewhere, there was but little to attract the notice of settlers, as the entire region was densely wooded, and every effort at improvement or cultivation was attended with great labor and considerable expense, and ready cash was an exceedingly scarce article at the time.

The locality known as the "Grampain Hills" was one of the first settled of the upland districts of the county. It may be siad to have been divided, so far as settlement was concerned, into two localities, the one toward the river, on the lower lands, near the base of the "hill," and that more remote from, and back of the bottom lands, or the "hills" proper. The lowlands were occupied by the Bells, the Fergusons, and the Fentons, and was subsequently taken up by John Bennett, Nun England, William Hepburn, Joseph Spencer, Francis Severns, and Samuel Cochran. From 1805 to 1808, a large tract here was claimed by Charles Smith, but his claim was without foundation, and therefore unsuccessful.

The Bennett improvement was divided among his heirs. The England lands passed to the ownership of other parties, and most of his family left the county many years ago. Job and George England (sons of Nun), left and went to Ohio; Isaac, who will be remembered by the older residents, as a substantial, industrious and enterprising person, moved to Morris township. William Hepbrn, of Scotch descent, was a man possessed of many peculiarities, and yet, withal, a good citizen. He died leaving a family, John and Samuel C., sons, and Catherine, who married James Thompson, late of Curwensville, being his children.

In the year 1808, Joseph Spencer came with his family, and took up lands that had been purchased from Benjamin Fenton, some four hundrd and more acres in extent. He is remembered as an honest, industrious, and therefore successful man. He divided his farming and wood lands into four parts, of one hundred acres each, and gave one to each of three sons, retaining one tract for his own use. For nearly eighty years have these tracts, with a single exception, been held by members of the family, or their direct connections. Joseph Spencer, the pioneer, was of the Society of Friends, and a man highy respected in the county. His descendants are numerous in the county.

Francis Severns and Samuel Cochran were descendants of African blood. The latter, Cochran, is described as being a light mullato. His mother, as well as himself, were said to have been born in slavery. Several times Samuel escaped from bondage. Once he was captured, and on the other occasions he voluntarily returned to captivity, but eventually purchased his freedom and came north. Early in the present century he came to Clearfield from Lycoming county, and settled, about the year 1804, on the south side of the river. Later he took up some three hundred acres of land in one of the best localities on the Grampian Hills. He cleared over one hundred acres, built a substantial log house, and a large, double log barn. He kept a number of horses and a large quantity of other live stock, and became one of the most thrifty and successful farmers on the "hills." His house was the popular resort for teamsters on the old Kittanning turnpike. Cochran raised a family of several boys, and was anxious that they receive a good education, such that he had not, nor was allowed to acquire during the days of his youth, and in the bonds of slavery.

The name of "Grampian Hills" has been applied heretofore in this chapter, but its use was made ony to distinguish the locality. The name in fact was not given until the time of the settlement in this locality by Dr. Samuel Coleman, a person of supposed noble birth, although he always studiously avoided any discussion of his personal life or antecedents. He was of Scottish parentage, but came to this county from the eastern part of the State in the year 1809. From a striking resemblance the locality bore to the Grampian Hills of Bonnie Scotland, the doctor named this in honor of his native county and home, a name by which this part of Penn twnship has ever since been known the post-office so designated, which it retains to this day.

The lands, or a very large body of them, in the townships now included by Bell, Pike, and Penn, were surveyed in the name of Hopkins, Griffith, and Boone, and were afterward known as the Nicklin and Griffith lands. This company gave to Dr. Coleman a tract of about three hundred acres as an inducement for him to settle thereon, which he accepted. In the year 1809, he commenced clearing, having the assistance of three men, one named Gibson, and one slave (colored), named Otto. They encamped for a time in an open shed, thatched with brush, and slept on pieces of chestnut bark on lieu of beds, and until better quarters could be constructed.

Early in the summer of 1809, Joseph Boone and his family reached the home of Esquire McClure, having come up the West Branch from Williamsport by boat. The party proceeded to Coleman's camp in wagons, upon which they slept on the nights of their arrival. The next day a cabin was built of logs, and roofed with bark from the trees in the vicinity. Boone was a man of education and worth; a zealous Catholic, and devoted to his church. He commenced the erection of a grist-mill on Bell's Creek, but through some cause the enterprise was abandoned. He afterward was chosen prothonotary and recorder of the county, and held other positions of public trust, all of which he most satisfactorily filled. He lived for several years at Clearfield town.

The story of Boone's coming to this county, or the incidents that led to his settlement here are well known to the older residents of the locailty, but a repetition of the tale may not be out of place. Boone was formerly sheriff of Washington, and while in office, had in custody one John Nicholson. Having the privileges of the jail yard Nicholson managed to escape. This rendered Boone liable on his official bond, and his property was swept away. He came north and found traces of his escaped prisoner, whom he eventually followed to Philadelphia, and there found in custody. Nicholson, in order to repair the losses suffered by Boone, transferred to him and his sureties a number of land warrants, which were afterward surveyed to Hopkins, Griffith, and Boone, and which have already been referred to in this chapter. Boone came here to occupy and improve these lands, and his settlement was incident to that of Dr. Coleman, although the latter preceeded him.

James Moore, formerly a resident of Half Moon township, Centre county, came with his family to the "Hills" in the year 1810, and located on the site, now of the village of Pennville, and near which passed the Glen Hope, and Little Bald Eagle, and also the Punxsutawney turnpikes.

This place was distant from the river about four miles. Mr. Moore and his sons Jeremiah, Andrew, and James, built a saw and grist-mill at an early day. James, jr., was, for a time, agent for the Fox and Roberts land, so called, an exceedingly large tract owned by a wealthy Philadelphia family.

The Moores were a prominent family in the affairs of the locality, always having at heart the interests of all who were around them. They were members of the Society of Friends, and have actively participated in the welfare and progress of that society. The Friends' meeting-house in the township shows strongly of the efforts of this family, as well as the other resident members of that society. Prior to the settlement of the Moore family there had been no regular religious services held in the vicinity, although, as early as 1806, Rev. Daniel Stansbury came and preached occasionally in the neighborhood. Rev. Stansbury was a tailor by trade, and his coming was a welcome one on that account, as he could clothe the outer man and provide for his bodily comfort as well as for his spiritual welfare. Rev. Linn, of Bellefonte, came to the vicinity and delivered an occasional sermon, but his visits were not frequent. In the year 1822 regular services were begun, and a log edifice was built on Esquire McClure's land. After years of occupancy the old building was abandoned, and a more commodious one was built at Curwensville, in Pike township.

Among the others of the old settlers of Penn township, and who came in about or soon after the year 1810, were the families of Samuel Johnson, David Wall, Caleb Davis, Gideon Widmire, Jonathan Wall, Joseph Giddings, Jonathan Taylor, David Allen and others from time to time, down to the erection of the township, in the year 1835, and still later, so that now Penn possesses a population of about six hundred persons, exclusive of the boroughs within its limits.

At the first enumeration of taxables made in the year 1836, by Hendry D. Boone, assessor, there appeared on the roll a total of fifty-seven as follows: Henry D. Boone, Thomas Blackburn, John I. Bundy, Joseph Boone, jr., Daniel Brink, Robert Cochran, Claphaut Cochran, Samuel Cochran, Joseph Cullingsworth, William Clark, James Conley, Matthew Murter, Joseph Davis, Richard Denber, Jeremiah Flinn, John H. Fisher, Thomas Fenton, Henry Hile, Elisha Fenton, Azariah Standers, Alexander Fowler, David Hewitt, James Henry, Jonathan Hewitt, Samuel Johnson, James Johnson, Elah Johnson, Jason Kirk, David Kirk, John Lord, Dennis McGee, Andrew Moore, James Moore, Jeremiah Moore, Peter Owens, Romanto Porter, Ruth Paulhamus, Patrick Quinn, Thom. Felix Raferty, Patrick Raferty, Spencer & Company, Jesse Spencer, Joseph Spencer, John Shugart, Samuel Spencer, Jonathan Spencer, Job Shugart, William Wrigglesworth, David Wall, Gideon Widmire, Jonathan Wall, William Wall, William Porter, Asaph Kirk. The single freemen were: William Cochran, Joseph Spencer, James Spencer, John Spencer, James Wall, Reuben Wall, and Isaiah Wall, the last name being a house-holder.

At this time Joseph Cullingsworth was enrolled as having a post-office. Samuel Johnson was assessed $50 for a saw-mill; James and Elah Johnson were assessed $50 for a saw-mill; Jeremiah Moore had a saw-mill and grist-mill, and was assessed therefore $250; Spencer & Co., $100 for a saw-mill.

With a then resident population of about two hundred and fifty persons in the entire township, a steady, natural and healthful increase has followed year by year. The cutting away of the forests and the development of the abundant agricultural resources have much facilitated and increased this growth. Including the two boroughs, Lumber City and Pennville, both of which are within the boundaries of Penn township and were taken therefrom, there is a present population of something like nine or ten hundred souls.


The third borough incorporation organized in Clearfield county was in the separation of a part of Penn township that lay in the southeast portion thereof, and along the river, and the erection of such land as was included within its established boundaries into a municipality, to be thenceforth known as Lumber City. This occurrence in and during the year 1858. The court records of this incorporation are so incomplete that the day and date of the various steps toward this event do not appear The first record appears in the election of borough officers, which occurred September 18, 1858. Clearfield and Curwensville were incorporated as boroughs prior to this time.

This part of the township was settled earlier than the more remote districts away from the river. The famlies living in this vicinity were the Kirks, of whom Jason Kirk was the head, William and James Ferguson, and James Schofield.

The family of Henry Hile came to this point from Northumberland county in the early part of the year 1835. There were twelve children, sons and daughters of this old pioneer, viz: James, Daniel, Philip, Anthony, John P., Amos, Lorenzo D., Abbie, Mary Ann, Emeline, Elizabeth, and Ellen. The descendants of these children are numerous in the county, and many are still living in and around Lumber City. Henry Hile, the pioneer, died over thirty years ago.

The bridge across the Susquehanna River at this point, was built about the year 1851, and soon after Daniel Robbins built a store and established a general mercantile business at the Lumberville end of the bridge. This store was afterward burned.

About this time the village commenced to grow rapidly, and a hotel was built by Henry Hile, and called the "City Hotel." Mr. Hile died soon after, and the hotel property has since passed through several owners -- Thomas Owens, Isaac Kirk, and finally into possession of Israel Guppy, the present proprietor. The hotel is now known as the Mountain House.

The Mount Vernon House was built by Lorenzo D. Hile about the time that the town became incorporated, but has changed hands frequently. The present owner is Jason Kirk, but the house is managed by William Hitson.

There was no school nearer than the Kirk farm, about a mile below the town, and the necessity of an educational institution became apparent. One was soon afterward built within the borough, but the increase in population and the demand for better educational facilities has led to the establishment of a graded school at the place, the old building being now used as a primary school.

Although comparatively small in point of population, Lumber City is large so far as relates to area. When the borough was laid out, the school district from which it was taken was divided, leaving a considerable area without any established school district. To remedy this the borough limits were extended so that it is now very large in area, and includes, in whole or in part, several farms in the neighborhood.

The first borough election was held September 28, 1858, at which the following officers were chosen: Burgess, John Ferguson; town council, W.W. Spencer, James Arthurs, John P. Hile, D.A. Fetzer, and Joseph Hegarty. The officers elected for the year 1887 are: Burgess, D.N.

Hipps; councilmen, John A. McDevitt, Charles Jordan, Joseph Lines; constable, J.J. Sterling; high constable, James J. Hile; assessor, D.W. Hile; overseer, John Hipps.

The voting population of the borough in the year 1860 is well shown by the poll-list, made at the election during that year, as follows: James Arthurs, Thomas Bromall, J.M. Curley, Bronson Davis, D.A. Fetzer, John Ferguson, sr., J.H. Ferguson, James Ferguson, sr., Noah Farwell, T.J. Garrison, J.P. Hile, Amos Hile, Anthony Hile, Joseph Hegarty, L.D. Hile, Isaac, David, Jason, Thomas, Samuel, and Joseph Kirk, William W. Kelley, Isaac Lemon, G.H. Lytle, William A., C.W., Samuel, and A.S. Moore, John McQuilken, Samuel McCracken, John McDevitt, J.P. Needler, Peter Owens, Jesse and Samuel S. Spencer, Adam Smith, W.W. Spencer, W.V. Wright, Robert Young, Christian Yager, William Jordon, Atchison Kelley, James Ferguson,

jr., Peter Thompson, John Hazlet, M.S. Dunn, John Lemon, G.W. Lindley, James Needler, Harry Robinson, William S. Wright, John Young, William Warner, James McDevitt, William Haney, J.M. Ross.

Of these, fifty-five in all, only seven are now living in the borough, viz: D.A. Fetzer, Anthony Hile, Joseph Kirk, John McDevitt, J.M. Ross, James Ferguson, jr., and John Lemon. The present voting population of Lumber City borough numbers about eighty persons.

There are two resident physicians at Lumber City -- Dr. D.A. Fetzer and Dr. J.M. Ross, both of whom have practiced at the place for over a quarter of a century.

The present business interests are represented by two general merchandise stores, a grist-

mill, and a saw or shook-mill. The merchants are E.L. Coolbroth and James Rorabaugh. The former purchased an interest, in 1876, in the then existing firm of Nutter, Davis & Co., general merchants, and also proprietors of the saw-mill industry. In 1886 Mr. Coolbroth became sole proprietor of both enterprises. Connected with the saw-mill, and a part of it, are machines for planing and matching lumber, and also a shingle-mill. These works were started in 1875, on lands purchased by Nutter, Davis & Co., from Anthony Hile.

The grist-mill was built some thirty years ago, by Abram K. Wright and Amos Hile, as a water-power mill, and supplied with such machinery as was then used. Latterly, however, machinery has been introduced for manufacturing flour by the roller process. The mill is now owned by John Hicks.

Prior to the time of the borough erection, the residents of the vicinity were compelled to receive their mail from Curwensville, six miles distant. A postoffice was established at this place about the time the borough was formed, and located at Daniel Robbin's store, he being the first appointee as postmaster. He was succeeded by "Squire" Lemon, and he, in turn, by Harrison W.

Spencer. E.L. Coolbroth was the fourth incumbent of the office, and was recently superseded by John Haley, the office, however, being retained in Mr. Coolbroth's store, and he discharging the duties thereof as deputy-postmaster under Mr. Haley.

Situate within the borough, though tributary to and supported by the people living generally throughout the vicinity, are two churches and church societies -- the United Presbyterian and the Methodist Episcopal -- the existence of each of which societies antedates the borough by some years. It was not until about twelve years ago that the United Presbyterian Church was built, but the society held early meetings in an old building down at the lower or east end of the borough. Here occasional services were held and a sermon preached, which will be remembered by some of the older residents on account of the great length of such sermons, and the further fact that the people that attended usually provided themselves with a lunch to be eatern during the meeting. The present church home of this society is a plain but comfortable frame building, standing on the main street of the borough, about midway between its east and west limits. Among the families prominently identified with this church and its society, were those of the Fergusons (James, William, John and David), John Henry, Joseph Wiley, William Reed, all of whom were early members, and John B. Ferguson, Alexander Ferguson, Luther Ferguson, John C. Ferguson, David Reed, John McCreery, and others, descendants of the families above named. The society, at the present time, has no regular minister.

The early meetings of the Methodist Episcopal Society of Lumber City were held at Spencer Hill, and this may be said to be an offshoot or branch from that as the parent church. The church at Spencer Hill, however, was vacated, and from the society of that, as a plant, have grown the church at Lumber City and that at Pennville borough. The Methodist Episcopal edifice

at this place was built something like a quarter of a century ago. Prominent among its members have been the families of James Cupples, Robert Jamison, Samuel Watts, David Hoyt, John N. Hile, William Hile, James Rorabaugh, Mrs. Hudson Lytle, Mrs. John P. Hile, and others. The building, a small frame structure, stands on Main street, a short distance west from the United Presbyterian Church. Services were held here every two weeks.

Lumber City is a pleasantly situated borough on the north side of the West Branch River. Main street, the principal thoroughfare of travel, and, in fact, the only one passing through the town east and west, contains, along its sides, a number of fine residences of brick and frame material. Lateral streets lead from Main to the river. On the south side of the river is a steep bluff, or mountain, several hundred feet high; but the beauty of its slope is somewhat marred by the cutting out of its best timber. On the north and to the east of the town is a gradual ascent leading back to and approaching the famous Grampian Hills. Fine farms surround the borough on all sides, save the south. Agricultural pursuits are becoming the leading industry of the vicinity, the forests being so far devastated as to turn the tide of occupatoin into other channels.


In the year 1885, the residents of that part of the township that lay in the vicinity of the Grampian Hils post-office, which vicinity had previously been known both as the Grampian Hills and Pennville, being desirous of having the surrounding lands incorporated and entitled to the distinction and government of a borough, presented a petition to the September term of the Quarter Sessions, asking for the due incorporation of the borough. The peitition was, as required by law, referred to the grand jury for such action as they might deem expedient. After mature consideration of the premises, that body reported favorably upon the project, and on the 30th day of December, 1885, the borough of Pennville became a municipality, authorized and empowered to make ordinances for its own government, separate and distinct from Penn township, of which it had hitherto formed a part.

Geographically, Pennville occupies a central position in the eastern part of the township, on what has been, for about three-quarters of a century, known as the Grampian Hills, concerning which previous mention has been made. Anderson Creek, a stream of some note, and a tributary to the West Branch, had its head-waters in the township and flows through the borough, furnishing motive power for such manufacturing industries as are in the vicinity.

The first election of borough officers was held February 16, 1886, at which the following persons were elected to the several offices: Burgess, I. Currier; town council, F. Orcutt, E.F. Spencer, R.M. Hoover, G.E. Davis, Jonathan Wall, and a tie-vote between G.W. McDonald and W.C. Russell; justices J. W. Damer and W.C. Russell; constable, M.M. Flynn; high constable, S.C. Hepburn.


The business interests of the borough are represented by two well appointed mercantile houses; the one owned by Spencer Bros. (Elisha F. and Harry B.), and Allen McDonald, both of which are general merchandise stores. Besides these there are two other smaller stores kept by M.M. Flynn and Thomas L. Rafferty, respectively; the Grampian Hotel, under the proprietorship of Frank Orcutt; a combined planing and grist-mill, the property of Samuel Hepburn, jr., and the estate of William F. Johnson. The local postmaster is M. G. Bloom, who, in connection with his official dutues, has a notion and confectionery store.

The most substantial building in the borough is that occupied by the two mercantile firms first above mentioned. This is a substantial frame building, two stories high, the upper floor being occupied as a hall, and covers both stores. The block is owned, as a stock concern, by E.M. Davis, Joseph Davis, R.M. Hoover, the estate of William F. Johnson and Elisha F. Spencer. the borough also provides one school for educational purposes, and besides this there is one other school, a part of the township institutions.

The Methodist Episcopal Church at Pennville was erected upon the division of the old society of that denomination, that for years had worshiped on Spencer Hill. The society had become large, and many of its members were compelled to travel a long distance to attend divine worship, and for the convenience of those members resideing in this and the north part of the township, in the year 1861, Pennville Church was built. It is a substantial edifice, built of wood, and cost about eight hundred dollars. There are about forty-five regular members of this church. It is under the same pastoral charge as the Lumber City Church. Of the ministers who have from time to time served this charge there have been Revs. Thomas R. Butterfield, James Hunter, Curley, Lee, Lynn, Coleburn, Watson, Buckley, Wharton, Adams, Hamlin, Edwards, Noble, Shoemaker and Warner.

The Pennville Lyceum. -- This society was organized about the year 1857. It was started by Miss Rebecca Reynolds. Its first constitution was drafted by John Russell, Abram Davis and Jeremiah Moore. Regular meetings were held until the year 1869, a period of twelve years, when it was discontinued, the principal cause being the want of a proper house in which to meet. The seed of literature, however, had been sown in the young heart, and Penn township became a modern Athens. Elisha Fenton was its master spirit, being a man of unusual information and ability. He bequeathed, in his will, one hundred dollars in money, and three hundred dollars worth of books, toward starting a library.

In October, 1875, a party of boys started from Pennville on a "coon hunt." They got as far as a little saw-mill, then owned by Jeremiah Moore, when it was proposed by W.W. Spencer and W.A. McDonald, to go into a little room in the mill, and hold a debate; and soon those dark, cobwebbed walls were dimly lighted by a tallow candle; but soon young faces glowed, as they told the stubborn facts as to which was of the greatest use, the horse or the ox. There and then was laid the corner-stone of the present Literary and Library Association.

This society obtained a charter, and started a library in the year 1878. The need of a proper place in which to meet and keep the library, led to the erection of the present hall in Pennville, by William F. Johnson, E.F. Spencer, Joseph Davis, R.M. Hoover and Elisha M. Davis, in the year 1880. Mr. Davis has always been an ardent supporter of the literary society, and much of its success has been due to his efforts. It contains upwards of four hundred volumes; among them Appleton's American Encyclopaedia, and the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, and other complete works, both prose and poetry, history, fiction and science.

The Herald, published by the lyceum, is bound in four large volumes, and is in the library for use. The literary society meets regularly every two weeks. There are very few young men and women in the community but that are "perfectly at home" before a public audience.

The Pennville Rifle Team, a society organized for the purpose of acquiring proficiency in markmanship, and for the competition on trials of conclusions with other similar organizations, has its base of operations at the borough, although its membership is drawn from the township generally. For two years the team has held the county championship, having defeated all competitors.

The resident physician of the borough is Dr. Jonathan Currier, who in connection with his professional duties has a drug-store.

The present borough officials are as follows: Burgess, W.A. McDonald; constable, M.M. Flynn; high constable, S.C. Hepburn; assessor, W.G. Derrick; overseers, Peter Pifer, J.P. Farwell; auditor, W.W. Spencer; collector, Charles Helper.

Church Societies of the Township -- Heretofore in this chapter incidental mention has been made of the religious services held at an early day by members of the Society of Friends. There is not in the entire township any society that has exhibited greater strength than this. The settlement of the Friends was made during the first ten years of the present century, who occupied lands in and around the present borough of Pennville. In the year 1813 the Friends met at the house of James Moore and there held meetings for worship. The families at the time were few, and the names of most of them can be recalled: Samuel Johnson, James Moore, Jason Kirk, Caleb Davis, Gideon Widmire, Joseph Iddings, David Wall, Jonathan Wall, and others. After meetings had been held for a few years at James Moore's a school-house was built, which was occupied by the society until the year 1824, when a comfrtable meeting-house was built on a lot of land donated and deeded to the society by Mr. Moore. This lot is situate about half a mile southeast from Pennville, and is still owned by the society. A part of the lot has been used as a place of burial. In the year 1846 the house was burned, but another was built in its stead during the same year. This building is 30 by 50 feet in dimensions. In 1833 a monthly meeting was commenced for the purpose of discipline, and to attend to the affairs of the society.

In 1863 a Sabbath-school was organized, the first in the township under the care of the Friends. The first year showed an enrollment of eight teachers and sixty-eight scholars. The society had a membership in 1860 of one hundred and eighty persons. In 1880 the members numbered one hundred and twenty persons. Among the members of the society, other than those named above, may be mentioned the families of Andrew Cleaver, Caleb Way, Job Way. These persons established a Friends meeting at the house of Andrew Cleaver, who was a minister. Mr. Cleaver was the first recorded minister of the West Branch monthly meeting. On his death the meetings were discontinued. He came to Pike township in 1835.

Reference has been made to the Spencer Hill Methodist Episcopal Church. The building was erected in the year 1844, although the society had an existence prior to that time. The early members of the "class" were Abram Spencer and his wife, Andrew Spencer and wife, Moses Owens and wife, Ann Cullingsworth, John Williams, Catharine, Sarah and Mary Wrigglesworth, Manley and Sarah London, Thomas and Penelope Rettoo, Samuel Hepburn, Martha Neeper, Rufus and Millicent Slawson, Mary Siford, Jane McDonald, Sidney Jackson, David Cochran, Mary Rettoo, Susan Siford, Job Stugart, Peter Siford, Harriet Wood, John Hepburn, Peter and Jane Owens, Richard and Sarah London, Nancy McCracken, William Siford, Susan Spencer, Eliza Smith, Elisha and Ann Fenton, William Porter, Rebecca Paulhamus, Jackson Bonsall and others. In 1841 Abram Spencer was chosen class-leader; an office he has filled from that to the present time, in connection with the Spencer Hill or the Pennville M.E. Church. The early meetings of the parent society were held at the house of Mr. Spencer and in school-houses until the building of the church edifice. Among the early ministers there can be recalled the names of Rev. Joseph Lee, Rev. Rose, Rev. Benjamin Butler, Rev. Day and Rev. Beers.

About the year 1860 this society, for convenience, became divided, one part joining in the erection of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Lumber City, and the other at Pennville. The church at Spencer Hill was thereafter abandoned.

The Roman Catholic Church of Penn township was among the early established institutions thereof, having been organized and erected in the year 1837 for the accomodation of the people of that demonination residing in the township. The western part of Penn was settled by Irish people, who, with some other assistance, built the edifice. A new church was erected some years ago. The society is of fair size, and under the pastoral charge of the Clearfield society. No reliable data is procurable concerning the progress of this church or its society. It is located about a mile west from Pennville, convenient of access by the members of the congregation residing in the township.

Penn Grange No. 534, P. of H. -- This is one of the substantial organizations of Penn township, having been organized on the 13th day of April 1875, by O.S. Cary, then deputy for the district. The charter members were as follows: Samuel Widemire, James Miller, Charles Cleaver, Leroy Widemire, Joseph Davis, Miles Wall, O.D. Kendall, Elisha M. Davis, John Smith, John Widemire, M.S. Spencer, John Pentz, Richard Freeman, T.E. Wall, John Porter, William F. Johnson, Emily Kendall, Elizabeth Widemire, Jane Widemire, L.D. Miller, Elizabeth Davis, Elizabeth Wall, Catharine Davis, Lucy M. Spencer, Priscilla Johnson. The first officers are: Master, William E. Davis; secretary, Alice W. Kester. Present membership ninety-seven. The meetings are held in the Penn Grange Hall. 


Source: Pages 73-82, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.
Transcribed August 1999 by Karen Rudolph for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (

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