Transactions of the Commissionaers
INTRODUCTORY - ESTABLISHMENT OF ELK COUNTY - ITS BOUNDARIES - THE COMMISSIONERS OF 1843 AND THEIR TRANSACTIONS - LOCATION OF THE COUNTY SEAT - COUNTY CONTRACTS, ETC. - DOINGS OF THE COMMISSIONERS FROM DATES OF APPOINTMENT - COUNTY OFFICIALS - COURT-HOUSE - FIRST COURT - NEW JAIL, ETC.
PRIOR to 1813 Clearfield county had but one township - Chincleclamoose.
In 1807 or 1808 one Amos Davis settled north of Earley, near where the steam saw-mill of 1876 was erected. In the spring of 1810 John Kyler came to explore, and located his land selection at Kyler's Corners, and in 1812 brought his family hither. In 1813 Clearfield was divided into the townships of Lawrence and Pike, in honor of two heroes of the war of 1812, and the old name disappeared.
The act establishing Elk county was approved April 18, 1843. Parts of Jefferson, Clearfield and McKean counties were detached, and the boundaries of this new division of Pennsylvania set forth as follows: Beginning at the northeast corner of Jefferson county, thence east nine miles to the northeast corner of Lot 2328, thence south to Clearfield county, thence east along that line to the east line of Gibson township and south so far that a line westward to the mouth of Mead's run shall pass within not less than fifteen miles of the town of Clearfield; thence westwardly to Little Toby creek; thence along a line to the mouth of Mead' s run, and northwesterly to where the west line of Ridgway township crosses the Clarion river; thence in the same direction to a point where a due north line will strike the southwest corner of McKean county, and along such line to that corner, thence along the south line of McKean to the northeast corner of Jefferson county. Timothy Ives, Jr., of Potter, James W. Guthrie, of Clarion, and Zachariah H. Eddy, of Warren county, were named commissioners to mark the boundary lines and acquire lands by donation or purchase, lay out lots and convey them and conduct this business until the commissioners to be elected in October qualify. The act does not charge them with locating the seat of justice, and as a result the elected commissioners resorted to extraordinary proceedings in an effort to interpret the act in a spirit of justice.
Report of Timothy Ives, Jr. of Potter county; James W. Guthrie, of Clarion county, and Z.H. Eddy, of Warren county, commissioners appointed by an act of Assembly to locate the seat of justice of Elk county.
ELK COUNTY, SS., September Term, 1844.
Messrs. Brockway, Brooks and Winslow, Esqrs., in pursuance of the duties required of the undersigned commissioners under an act erecting a new county out of parts of Jefferson, Clearfield and McKean counties, passed April 18, 1843, we herewith enclose and hand over to you, our successors in office, all matters in relation thereto (viz.): Deed of land for situation of public buildings, title to water privilege and propositions of donors (viz.): John J. Ridgway, Esq., Hon. James L. Gillis, Messrs. L. Wilmarth and George Dickinson, which we accepted for the purposes therein specified;. Also, an article of agreement and contract with E. Derby to build court-house and offices; an article of agreement for surveying the county, and all other papers in our possession in relation to said county as commissioners, all of which is respectfully submitted.
Ordered to be given over to the commissioners of Elk county, September 17, 1844
By the court
J. W. GUTHRIE
Z. HENRY EDDY
Commissioners under the Act of April 18, 1843.
Among the propositions made to the county seat commissioners was one of 100 acres at Boot Jack, or the forks of the road to Brandy Camp, four miles east from Ridgway, by Matthew McQuoin, who also offered to donate a year's work toward erection of county buildings. Reuben Winslow proposed to erect public buildings at the mouth of Trout run should the county seat be located there, while John J. Ridgway and the residents of the old village agreed to donate land and water privileges, and erect buildings.
Under date July 1, 1844, John J. Ridgway and his wife, Elizabeth, sold (through their legal agent, Jonathan Colegrove) town lot No. 116 (10,400 square feet) to Z. Henry Eddy, for the use of Elk county, the consideration being $20.
In 1848 - 49 A. I. Wilcox, in the house, and Timothy Ives, in the senate, introduced a bill to remove the county seat to St. Mary's. Will A. Stokes, a Philadelphia lawyer, who purchased land near St. Mary's, urged the legislators to support this bill, which would have been carried had it not been for the determined and well-organized protest of the friends of the old seat of justice.
In October, 1843, John Brooks, Chauncey Brockway and Reuben Winslow, the newly elected commissioners, organized by appointing B. Rush Petrikin, clerk, and David Wheeler, treasurer. The county-seat commissioners were notified of this organization, and asked to make return of their dealings with the new county. Wilcox and Harrison, the boundary surveyors, were granted $375 on October 17, payable when a complete map of the county would be presented by them. Jonathan Colegrove, agent of J. J. Ridgway, was notified of the new organization; a letter was addressed to the statute commissioners, again asking for their report, and the board adjourned to meet at John S. Brockway's. house, in Jay township, on November 6. At that meeting the courts were ordered to be held at Hezekiah Warner's house, at Caledonia. In May, 1844, Leonard Morey was appointed commissioner's clerk. In June the following circular was addressed to the people on the matter of locating the county seat, and John Blanchard was selected attorney to advise the board:
The citizens of Elk county and the public generally are hereby respectfully notified that the Commissioners of said county have no knowledge of any seat of justice being fixed for the county of Elk.
And whereas, it is reported that lots are soon to be exposed for sale in the town of Ridgway, purporting to be the place where the seat of justice of Elk county has been fixed:
We, the Commissioners of said county, inform the public generally, that we do not know that there is any seat of justice fixed for said county at Ridgway, or any other place, consequently we do not recognize the town of Ridgway as the seat of justice, and feeling desirous that the people, before they purchase lots in the town of Ridgway, under the impression that they are purchasing lots in the town where the seat of justice, of Elk county has been fixed, should be apprised of the above facts, we therefore solicit attention to this notice.
25 June, 1844
Attest LEONARD MOREY, Clerk.
JOHN BROOKS, REUBEN WINSLOW, comm.
It was also "resolved that the clerk give notice to the Hon. the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas and the several courts, in and for the county of Elk, and also notify the other officers of said county, that the board continue to designate the school-house near the house of Hezekiah Warner in Jay Township, whereat to open and hold the several courts for Elk county."
On June 26 the meeting adjourned to reassemble at Brockway's, on September 16, but by some arrangement the commissioners met at David Thayer's house, Ridgway. After that day's business was transacted, they considered the house too small, and held their meetings in Erasmus Morey's home at Ridgway. On the 19th proposals for donations of moneys or lands for the location of the county seat were called for, C. Brockway dissenting; but replies were so unsatisfactory, that the time had to be extended and re-extended until December 16, when Ridgway appears to have been selected. On the 19th Edward Durby received a draft for $11.20 on J. J. Ridgway, to apply on his contract for building court-house. In March, 1845, a meeting was held at Brockway's house in Jay township, but on May 19 the commissioners met in their office at Ridgway, and appointed B. P. Little clerk. In September B. T. Hastings was given the contract for county printing, and on the 18th of that month, Edward Durby was given a draft on J. J. Ridgway for $1,000 and one for $300 to apply on his contract for building the court-house. In December, a draft on J. J. Ridgway for $260 and one for $120 were given to Durby to complete payment for his work - the drafts applying on Mr. Ridgway's donation for public buildings. At this time, also, an arrangement with Jonathan Colegrove (Ridgway's agent) resulted in drawing moneys to be credited to the landlord's tax account. In September, 1846, J. Y. James was employed to print assessment blanks. Patrick Malone, who established a store in Fox township in July, paid a tax of $8.75. Barnhard & Schoening, of Benzinger, who opened in June of this year, paid $9. 62. Jesse Kyler qualified as commissioner in November, vice John Brooks. B. F. Corey, of Smethport contracted to do the county printing, and David Tracy who commenced trading at Ridgway, December 21, was granted a license; while Joseph S. Hyde, who opened a store at Ridgway, September 1, 1846, was not licensed until January 9, 1847. Thomas Dent took the place of Commissioner Wilcox in November, and joined in a note to James Halliday and Davidson, the jail builders - $100 for six months. On January 20, 1848, the jail building was completed, $6.25 being the bill of extras. Ignatius Garner qualified, vice Brockway, in October of this year. A. H. Corey, of Smethport, was given the printing contract; Ralph Johnson took Commissioner Kyler's place in November, 1849; E. R. Brody, of Brookville, was appointed public printer in December; B. P. Little, treasurer in January, 1850, and C. F. Luce, clerk. In June, Sylvester Squiers contracted to lay water pipes from the spring to court-house, and P. T. Brooks to remove stumps from public square. J. R. Morey was appointed clerk in 1850, and in November, Star Dennison took Commissioner Dent's place. Edward C. Schultz took Garner's place on the board in 1851. In 1852 the railroad grants were made as stated in the pages devoted to railroads.
C. F. Luce qualified in November, 1852, and in December H. A. Pattison was chosen clerk; but soon gave place to J. R. Morey, Ellis Lewis being then county treasurer. In May and July, 1853, bonds to the Allegheny Valley Railroad and to the Sunbury & Erie Railroad Companies were issued; Lebbins Luther took Commissioner Dennison's place in October. In February, 1854, a large area of land was sold for taxes. In March Albert Willis was appointed clerk, but gave place to Horace Warner, who in September was replaced by H. A. Pattison; while in November William A. Bly and Jesse Kyler took Commissioners Schultz and Luce's places. In January 1856, Justus C. Chapin qualified as treasurer, and in November Joseph Wilhelm was commissioner, vice Luther. In 1857 C. F. Luce was appointed clerk, and Joshua Keefer elected commissioner, vice Bly.
In January, 1858, J. C. McAllister was clerk, and in October Caleb Dill took Commissioner Kyler' a place. Dr. C. H. Earley was reappointed mercantile appraiser this year. Joseph W. Taylor qualified as Commissioner, vice Keefer, in November, 1860, and Julius Jones, vice Dill, in November, 1861. In December the first mention is made of a board of relief, and not one reference made up to this date of the terrible Civil war. In September, 1862, county orders of small denominations were authorized in order to meet the want of United States fractional currency. Before the war, Andrew Howe, owner of a coal mine in Fox township, contracted to supply coal at 9 1/2 cents per 75 pounds. James Coyne was county treasurer in 1862, and in the fall Commissioner Charles Weis took Wilhelm's place; in January, 1863, John C. McAllister was reappointed clerk, and later Charles Luhr took Coyne' s place as treasurer. In February, 1864, a bounty of $300 was authorized to be paid to volunteers responding to the call for troops. By April 21, 105 volunteers enlisted under this call. In July, J. W. Taylor took Commissioner Keefer' s place.
In October, 1864, Commissioners Dickinson, Taylor and Weis formed the board, and in December T. B. Cobb was appointed clerk pro tem. In July, 1865, George D. Messenger took the place of Judge Dickinson, and in November, W. A. Bly and Louis Vollmer qualified. In January, 1866, J. K. P. Hall was appointed clerk, and John G. Hall, attorney. In April, 1867, Julius Jones was appointed commissioner vice Bly resigned, and in January, 1868, Henry Warner qualified vice Jones, who was elected but refused to serve. In November, H. S. Belknap qualified vice Warner, whose term expired, but in November, 1869, Henry Warner qualified. In April, 1869, R. G. Gillis was appointed clerk vice Hall, and in February, 1870, he was succeeded by C. H. McCauley. John Barr took Commissioner Taylor's place in November, and with Vollmer and Warner formed the board. About this time the era of iron bridges was introduced and in May, 1871, the contract for the iron truss bridge over the Clarion at Ridgway was sold. Commissioner Robert I. Campbell qualified in November; Henry D. Derr was county treasurer. A year later G. E. Weis took Louis Vollmer' s seat as commissioner, and in October, 1873, Julius Jones took that of John Barr, Campbell and Weis holding over. In January, 1875, Michael Weidert was elected commissioner vice Campbell; while Joseph Windfelder, the successor of Derr as treasurer, still held that office. In January, 1876, Messrs. Weidert, W. H. Osterhout and George Reusoher formed the board; Jacob McCauley qualified as treasurer, and W. S. Horton succeeded C. H. McCauley as clerk. In 1879 Michael Brunner was treasurer. In May the commissioners petitioned the court for authority to issue building bonds for $30,000, which petition was carried, and in July the bonds were sold.
The corner-stone of the present court-house was placed July 16, 1879, and from this period to December 28, 1880, when the work was completed, little was done beyond giving close attention to construction, the raising of funds and expenditure of between $60,000 and $65,000 for public buildings. On December 27, 1880, a teachers' institute was held in the court-room, and on January 25, 1881, the first court was held in the new building, Judge W. D. Brown presiding. In December the commissioners resolved to charge the prothonotary, $20; the treasurer, $15; the sheriff and district attorney $7.50 each per annum, for heating their offices. In. January, 1882, the old commissioners retired, and Hiram Carman, James K. Gardner and John Nissell came in. W. S. Horton was reappointed clerk; George Weidenboerner qualified as treasurer, and Hall & McCauley accepted the position of counsel for the board. In 1884 the question of building a new jail was received favorably, and in the winter of 1884 - 85 contracts for building were sold, D. K. Dean being the architect. In January, 1885, Nicholas Kronenwetter took Commissioner Nissell's place; John Nissell was appointed clerk, and John Collins qualified as treasurer. In January, 1888, John McGovern, J. F. English and Nicholas Kronenwetter were elected commissioners, and the work of locating the poor farm, commenced by their predecessors, became the first important subject for their consideration. John B. Forster qualified as treasurer. In April, 1888, the commissioners learned that they had no authority to purchase farms or build houses for the use of the poor, and a matter that occupied attention of the board for days, and caused many miles of travel, was dropped.
Source: Page(s) 596-602, History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania. Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed December 2006 by Nathan Zipfel for the Elk County Genealogy Project
Published 2006 by the Elk County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project
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