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Elk County
Chapter XII


Fox Township


FOX TOWNSHIP is mainly in the trough formed by Boon's mountain on the east and Shawmut mountain~ on the west. The Appalachian chain stretches along the northeastern line for two miles, when it diverges westward for two miles and then runs south 25° west, crossing the southern line two miles east of the southwest corner. - East of this divide the headwaters of Kersey creek and Cherry run have their sources, while west is Little Toby and its feeders, running southwest, and the southern feeders of Elk creek, flowing north. Sandstone-capped Boon's mountain reaches a height of 2,265 feet east of Centreville, and on the road from Kyler's to Weedville 2,085 feet; a hill just southwest of Kyler's, 1,950 feet, affords one of nature's observatories. The valleys east of the mountain are deeper and narrower than those on the west side, and the topographical appearance is very dissimilar.

The trough contains the principal coal deposits, the exploration at North -western Mining & Exchange Company and the Connor mines (opened in 1866 by the owner), being carried to a depth of 516 feet prior to 1883, showing two heavy outcrops and nine distinct bodies of coal. The Peter Connor coal field is on Warrant 4077, at an elevation of 1,875 feet. This field was leased by D. Eldridge, who abandoned it. The Kersey Coal Company opened a deposit of Alton coal in 1866, about three and one-half miles south of the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, on the western side of the Daguscahonda Railroad. In 1848 Dr. Earley opened a bed at the heads of Coal run and Toby branches, which in 1884 - 85 was part of Northwestern Mining & Exchange Company's field. On the Hawk farm, on one of the feeders of Mill run, Nathaniel Hyatt opened a mine in 1847 or 1848. This was immediately north of the Kersey Coal Company's old mining village. One mile north of Ky] er's was Enos Hayes' coal mine; but the first in that district was opened by Judge Kyler, whose trade extended to Allegany.

Limestone is exposed on Toby creek, southeast of Kyler's Corners, at an elevation of 1,570 feet above tide. This exposure is six feet in depth. It is also exposed on the head of Sawmill run, from which it was quarried by Judge Kyler for lime-burning. At a point one mile west of Kyler's, on the Thompson farm, near Brandy Camp, a red bog-iron ore was discovered some years ago. The quality is similar to that near Ridgway and in Spring Creek township, and consequently of little commercial value until new methods of reduction are introduced. Sandstone is found here, as in all other sections of the county.

In 1811 the Fox & Norris Company offered fifty acres to each of six families as an inducement to settlement. In 1812 Jacob Wilson, John Kyler, Elijah Meredith, Samuel Miller, Amos Davis and Jonah Griffith accepted this bonus and brought their families into the wilderness (Davis came in about 1807 or 1810 as the pioneer), but the three last-named left in a few years. The farms of the three first-named still bear the titles of their original cultivators. William Morgan taught the first school, in John J. Bundy's house, now on the Breham farm, Dr. William Hoyt succeeding him, and William Christie presided over the third term. The company built a mill between Daguscahonda and Centreville, at Old Burnt Mills. A second mill was erected, to replace the pioneer one which was burned, and this gave place to Peter Connor's mill, and later to the John Koch grist-mill. Stephen Oyster's grist-mill on Little Toby was completed on the site of the old mill, February 15, 1851. George Weis and Daniel Oyster were dealers in that year, the latter with A. Barrington; R. Brown, at Brandy Camp, and Nathaniel Hyatt, kept hotels. Jesse Kyler operated the coal mines. Dr. Lewis Giddings resided two miles south of Centreville.

The resident tax-payers in 1844 were George Artz (joiner), Michael Brown, Chauncey Brockway, Philetus Clark (saw-mill), Daniel Clark, Joseph T. Comley (tannery), Jeremiah Callahan, Henry Carnes (saw-mill), Josiah Earl, Clark Eggleston, Patrick Fern, Amos Fox, John Green, W. F. Green, Henry Gross, Miles German, Catherine Hays, Jeremiah Hewitt, William Hoyt, James R. Hancock, Eddy, Daniel and Nathan Hyatt, John and William Horning, Mar -tin Huhn (blacksmith), Conrad Huhn, Isaac and Charles Horton. James and William Iddings, Reuben Iddings (saw-mill), David R., Jesse and John Kyler, Jacob Kregar, John and George Kellar, Plummer Little, Patrick and John Largay, Conrad. Jacob, Elias and John Moyer, William McCauley, Elijah, Elijah, Jr., David and William Meredith, Thomas, John, James and Patrick Malone., Terence, Matthew and Arthur McQuone, John Miller. William Maxwell. James L. and Edward NI. Moore, John, Daniel, George and Lawrence Noif, Jonathan Nichols, Daniel Oyster (grist and saw-mill). William Pauley, Andrew. Ira and Jesse Paulley, Jonah, Joseph and lJriah Rogers, Nelson Riggs, James Reeseman, Thomas Rielly, Patrick Shelvy, John (mason), and Robert Sullivan, Andrew Shafer, Jacob Schmeltzer (saw-mill), Peter, George, John and Rufus Thompson, Reuben Thompson (saw-mill). G. B., David, William, Jacob, Josiah, Joel and Joseph Taylor, Alanson Viall, Michael White. Jason Wadsworth, Samuel and Jacob Wilson. Gardiner Weaver and John Wonderly. The United States Land Company, represented by James Wilson, owned a large part of this township; the Kersey Company owned the mill tracts; five acres formed the area of Horton's saw-mill lots, and a number of small tracts were credited to non-resident owners.

At the election held February 27, 1844, Chauncey Brockway and Eddy Hyatt were chosen justices; Joseph Rogers and John Horning, supervisors; Joel Taylor and Uriah Rogers, constables; George Thompson, assessor; P. B. Little. E. Hyatt, Joe Taylor, 3. T. Comley, W. W. Horning, Joseph Rogers and Jacob Taylor, school directors; C. Brockway, clerk; William Maxwell and Nathaniel Hyatt, overseers of poor; Daniel Oyster, E. Hyatt and James Iddings, auditors; Jacob Schmeltzer. judge, with W. S. Meredith and Jacob Moyer, inspectors of elections. Isaac Horton was elected justice in 1846; Chauncey Brockway and Peter Thompson in 1849. The officers for Fox township chosen in February, 1890, were Charles Straessley and W. J. Frantz, school directors; Patrick Quinn and Henry Gross, Jr., supervisors; C. Miller, overseer of poor; William Thomas, auditor; A. NI. Out, treasurer; John Pout zer, clerk; Michael Keeiey, collector.

In December, 1844, the United States Land Company deeded to the German Agricultural Society (Nicholas Reimel, John Albert. Matthew Schweitzer and Peter Richterwalt, trustees) a tract of land (1,012 acres) in the vicinity of the place hitherto known as Strasburg, and another of 510 acres known as the "facility tract." The consideration mentioned is $187 (with other goods and valuable considerations). The Strasburg tract was surveyed (Warrant 4370 December 11, 1793, was granted to James Wilson, who sold to Samuel M. Fox in April, 1795). The facility tract, No. 4371, was surveyed at the same time, and passed through the same ownership. In 1840 - 41 new surveys were made by Amos and Little, and an elaborate chart of the Kersey tract was prepared by them. In 1808 Samuel M. Fox died, and Joseph M. Fox represented the heirs.

The Toby Creek Coal and Oil Company was organized in March, 1865, with Andrew Dutcher, W. H. Armstrong, Elias S. Lowe, Fletcher Coleman and Frederick Lovejoy, members. The object was to develop the mineral lands in Fox township. This company drilled a well on this land. . . . The Noble Coal and Oil Company was incorporated in February, 1865, with Orange Noble, George B. Delamater, John W. Hammond, John H. Bliss and Herman James, for the purpose of developing coal and oil lands in Fox township. The company still own their lands, but the timber has been sold to Oyster & Short. The Kersey Coal Company was incorporated in 1866 for the purpose of mining coal in and around Kersey.

Kersey derives its name from the original owner, who came in 1812 - 13 with James and David Reeseman, John Kyler, Jacob Wilson, Elijah Meredith and others, who crossed from Boon's mountain to Elk creek, where Mr. Kersey built his mill and connected it with the settlements by a road from Reeseman's to Jacob Wilson's and thence to John Kyler's via Merediths. Erasamus Morey traveled this road in 1815, when it was a bridle path. The next road was from Clearfield to Bennett's- branch, and the next from Karthaus to Bennett's branch, cut through in 1822, for Peter A. Karthaus, by Leonard Morey for $12 per mile. Julius Jones came in March, 1854 from Essex county, N. Y., and settled on the Potter survey, where he bought the Thayer & Sisson saw-mill, which was burned in 1855. About 1833, Kersey's mill on the Karthaus and Ridgway road was built. Prior to this, many settlers came in, among whom were those pioneers referred to in the general chapter and in the pages devoted to biography.

Centreville was platted for John Green in November, 1846. Thirty years later there were the following business houses at this point: one grocery, one drug store, two taverns, a temperance hotel, two breweries, two shoe shops, two blacksmith shops, a wagon shop and a harness shop. The post-office in 1876 was called Kersey's. The mail was brought here by horseback. Conrad Caseman carried it back and forth from Milesburg to Smethport weekly, making a journey of 145 miles. A Catholic church also stood here at this time.

The church of St. Boniface (Catholic) is the succeesor of the old church at Irishtown, which was old when the pioneers of St. Mary's passed here in 1842. It dates back about fifty-seven years, and among the survivors of its early members are Nancy Callahan, Messrs. Largay and Sullivan, John Collins, Sr., and Joseph Koch, Sr. The settlers built the church at Irishtown (or Kersey, by which name it is still known) a few years after the settlement. Some of the names of the clergymen attending to Catholics there: Fathers Nugent, Dean, Pendegrass, Coady (still living, and rector in Titusville, Penn., of St. Titus Church) and Smith, who became the first resident pastor, a house having been erected for his use, and which is yet standing. Father Burns succeeded Father Smith. After him the Benedictine Fathers attended Irish-town (1853), the first one of that order being Father Amandus, O. S. B., Father Odilo, O. S. B., succeeded, and it was during his term as pastor that the present church (1853 - 54) was built, where it now stands, two acres of ground having been donated by a Mr. Green. Many Germans having settled in Centreville and neighboring farms, other Benedictine Fathers continued to officiate, some of whom are still living, viz.: Fathers Placidus, Rupert Seidenbusch (bishop of Northern Minnesota), Fathers Ignatius (at present attached to the Benedictine order in England), Erhardt, Athanasius (who built the parochial house in 1862 - still standing). From the year 1867, secular clergy were pastors, the first one being Father Joseph Oberhofer, who died as pastor of St. Joseph's Church, January 16, 1889. Then came Father A. M. Wirzfield, in 1869, who died in a very short time after leaving Centreville in 1870. Father F. J. Hartmann next became pastor, during whose term the church was enlarged. In 1878 Rev. A. Reck came, and in 1880 Rev. T. J. Clark was appointed assistant, who was succeeded by Rev. E. J. McGinley. In 1882 Father Reck resigned, on account of old age, when Rev. P. Brady took charge and presided over the parish until 1884, when the present Father Link was appointed. The parochial school-house was erected in 1884 - 85, by the contractor, Joseph Wandell, at a cost of $4,000, under his superintendence; improvements were made in church and parsonage, and new cemetery grounds purchased and surveyed. There are 150 families in the congregation, most of whom are of German descent or nativity.

The Kersey Methodist Church was chartered September 26, 1885, on petition of J. C. Wharton, John Marsh, Joe Wandel, I. Harvey and S. Michael Free. The church building at Centreville was completed April 26 of that year.

The names of pastors who have served this church are Revs. H. M. Burns, J. A. Hovis, S. E. Ryan, A. L. Brand, O. H. Nickle, P. P. Runyan, and Thomas Pollard, the present pastor.

The Kersey Grange Building Association petitioned for incorporation in January, 1878. William McCauley, W. H. Meredith, H. T. Kyler, C. E. Green, N. G. Bundy, W. W. Rogers, David, B. J. and W. H. Meredith and Hays Kyler were named directors.

Adeiphi Hut, O. O. of H., was organized at Centreville November 4, 1882, with the following-named officers: C. R. Fritz, John MeKelloph, A. H. Rambo, J. NI. Cornell, Z. A. Anderson, B. Smith, Gust. Lurndgust, George Brown and H. Swanson.

St. Boniface Beneficial Society was incorporated September 17, 1883, with office at Centreville. The subscribers were Charles Mueller. Michael Fuenffinger, Martin Koch, Charles Braudmiller and F. X. Eberl.

The Centreville Cornet Band was organized in January, 1887, with A. Hann. F. X. Eberl, M. J. Fuenffinger, John Brandmiller and Max Miller, directors.

The Centreville Foundry was established in 1853, by William Wood.

The Collins Hotel at Centreville was destroyed by fire July 30, 1880, and three valuable horses were burned in the stable.. . . The Koch store-building here is certainly one of the largest and best-stocked mercantile houses in the county.

Earleyville, eight and one-half miles east of Ridgway, was laid out by Dr. Earley in 1865. In 1876 a Presbyterian church, the terminal buildings of the Daguscahonda Railroad, a tannery, a few stores and several dwellings existed here. . . . The Earleyville fire of March, 1883, destroyed the J. A. Mohan building, in which C. S. Luther kept store. . . . The old Presbyterian house of worship at this point is sometimes used.

Dagus Mines is the name appropriately bestowed on the great mining center of the county. As stated elsewhere, the village owes its beginnings and progress to the Northwestern Mining & Exchange Company, whose extensive coal mines offer labor at fair pay to every willing worker. The Northwestern Mining & Exchange Company's enterprise has contributed more than anything else to the wealth of this township. Scarcely a decade has passed away since the vanguard of the company's workmen presented themselves among the settlers. David Robertson, under whom the extensive mines of the company have been developed, has been here from the beginning, and has always been held in the highest estimation by the employees and people. A large clerical force is employed by this company, while the names on the miners' pay-roll run up into the hundreds. The post office was established here with J. H. Beadle in charge about the time the Steele store was opened here. A. H. Sassaman has been assistant postmaster for the last seven years. The Steele store dates back to 1880, when J. H. Beadle was sent here to conduct the house. The stock carried is valued at about $20,000. A branch house below Brockport is managed by W. V. Parmley, where a similar amount of stock is carried.

Elkton Presbyterian Church, one mile west of Dagus Mines, was organized by C. P. Cummins, March 6, 1852, and Rev. McCurdy, elder of the church at Beechwood. Among the members were Adam and Lucy Shaffer, B. P. Little, Mrs. Eliza McIntosh, Eliza Winklebleck and Eliza Maxwell. In 1855 Mrs. Horning, Mrs. Taylor and Mrs. Meredith became members, and a number of children and infants were baptized. In December a Rev. J. Wray signs the records, and not until July, 1867, is the record re-opened by Horace Little. From memoranda made, however, it appears that Rev. Mr. Junkin had charge in 1860 and Rev. Levi Little in 1866 - 67. Rev. T. S. Leeson of Brookville, presided in 1865. The church at Dagus Mines is mentioned May 26, 1882, when Rev. D. W. Cassidy, Horace Little and others moved to Dagus Mines. At this time there were only seven members of the Elkton Church, all women: Mmes. Ann Bell, Hollebaugh, Ann Meredith, Ann Taylor, Rosanna McCauley and Eliza Green. Others joined at organization, such as Robert Hodgson. Andrw Ruddack and J. Henry Beadle, who were chosen trustees and elders: Sydney Almy, James Stratton, Thomas Leslie, John Lewis, James Lusk and John Herskey, trustees; Mr. Beadle was chosen clerk; subsequently, Rev. S. T. Thompson preached here. In 1885 Rev. Dr. Kennedy supplied the pulpit, and in April, 1886, Rev. A. B. Fields was stated supply. In September of that year Robert F. Oswald took Mr. Beadle's place as clerk. The trustees then elected were Messrs. Oswald, Brown, Bell, Patterson, Craig and Wentworth. During the years 1887 - 88 a number of members were received, and in August, 1889, the little church erected in 1882 was refitted and painted. It was dedicated by Rev. Dr. Kennedy of St. Mary's, August 25, 1889. The present membership is twenty-five. Rev. James Dickson is pastor.

Messiah's Church of Toby, at Kyler's Corners, was organized by Elder J. P. Boyer, October 18, 1857. Since that time Elders M. H. Moyer, Micajah Lanfling, J. Aldred, A. L. Brand and Nehemiah Stokely have filled the pulpit, Elder S. Ebersole being the present pastor. The church house was dedicated October 18, 1868, and this, with other property, is valued at $2,000. Mr. Ebersole preaches at Sterling Run, Mason Hill, Hicks' Run, Mount Pleasant, Mount Zion and Caledonia. The Adventists have a good church building in Rich Valley.

In 1850 there were 142 families, 142 dwellings, 765 persons, 110 farms, and 8 manufacturing industries in Fox township. The population in 1880 was 2,256, including 444 persons in Centreville. In 1888 there were 261 Democrats, 207 Republicans and 15 Union Labor votes cast. The hotels and proprietors of same, in 1889, were as follows: Andrew Hau, Hau's hotel, Kersey; William Goodall, Eureka hotel, Dagus Mines; William Oonners, Conners' hotel, Coal Hollow; William Kierr, Kierr's hotel, Kersey; John Collins, Collins' house, Kersey; Lewis Thomas, Exchange hotel, Kersey; John Koch, Koch's hotel, Kersey, and George Spuller, Spuller house, Kersey The assessment of 1889 shows 3,598 acres, and 2,000 acres of mineral lands credited to the Hyde estate, and 3,425 to Earley, Brickell & Co. The manufacturing interests assessed were: B. J. Boutzer. saw-mill; Joseph Reburo, saw-mill and lime kiln; E. F. Johnson, saw-mill; John Koch, saw-mill; Charles Miller, tannery; Meredith's saw-mill; John Spillane, new and old mill, and Urmann's brewery.

Source: Page(s) 658-667, 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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