GENERAL CONFORMATION - COAL BASINS AND MINES - RESIDENT TAX-PAYERS IN 1844 - ELECTIONS - SKETCH OF THE EARLY HISTORY OF THE TOWNSHIP - VILLAGES, ETC. - WILCOX - WHAT THE TOWN IS NOTED FOR - POST-OFFICE - BUSINESS, ETC. - POPULATION - CHURCHES - SOCIETIES
JONES TOWNSHIP lies west of the Appalachian chain, with the exception of a small area in the Atlantic basin east of a line drawn north and south from Jarrett summit. 2,215 feet, whence the north fork of West creek, Clear creek and the headwaters of Driftwood creek flow toward the Susquehanna. The headwaters of the Clarion flow into and through this township west of the divide, Seven-Mile, Instanter, Straight, Jarrett, Middle, Crooked and Johnson creeks entering the East Clarion at and above New Flanders. The West Clarion receives numerous tributaries in its course south through the center of the western half of the township, which it leaves above Wilmarth at an elevation of 1,400 feet. Big Mill creek rises near the northwestern corner, and Tionesta creek in that corner. The Johnson run basin, east of Wilcox, is the leading agricultural district of this township. Of the principal coal basins, one lies between the East and West Clarion creeks, and includes the Bucktail mines, and. the other between the West Clarion and the Bridgetown and Highland settlements. In the first, two layers of coal, three feet and three and a half feet, separated by eighteen feet of sandstone, shale and fire-clay, were found before passing below 304 feet; while in the second, at the top of Pistner's hill, similar veins were found before reaching 297 feet as reported in 1865. In both places inferior coal was found in seams at from 60 to 200 feet below openings. On the line between warrants 3295 - 6, west on road leading from the Catholic church to Pistner's, was Gen. Kane's limestone quarry, showing about eight feet of hard, massive, blue limestone, in 1879, when it was quarried to be burned in a kiln adjoining. The elevation of the top of limestone at the quarry is 1,920 feet above tide, being higher than the coal at the Bucktail openings.
The Bucktail mines were worked in 1883, under Foreman W. H. Harris. The elevation of the bottom at the lower of the two openings was 1,900 feet, and the dip of the bed, east of south, 2.5 to 3 feet per hundred. The two gangways were 36 feet apart, each running north for about 135 feet, when they changed to east of north and ran 275 feet. The average thickness of coal here was 2.9; although at five openings made prior to 1883 the bed was only sixteen inches thick. In 1870, however, a depth of three and a hall feet was discovered back of the outcrop.
In the eastern part of warrant 2610, a coal bed outcropped at an elevation of 1,970 feet at Weitoff's farm, northwest corner of warrant 2564, at 2,005 feet, and on Stone hill at 1,785 feet. At Westcott's old coal drift, south of the forks of road at Catholic church, the Clarion coal was opened prior to 1883, and south of Rasselas depot the railroad was cut through a bed of this coal from two and a half to three feet in depth. In the northern part of warrant 3291, a three-foot bed was worked, the shaft opening into bed being 1,775 feet above tide, while the bed at Johnson's spring, in warrant 3293, was only 1,740 feet above tide. In October, 1874, a Mr. Nolquist, under direction of Gen. Kane, made an opening near Silver creek, at 1,775 feet elevation, where the Schultz mine was subsequently worked. Four hundred feet west of this, at 1,825 feet, another coal outcrop was worked, and in June, 1878, coal beds were opened on the summit between Big and Little Mill creeks, the product resembling the old Montmorenci coal.
The resident tax-payers of Sergeant township (later Jones township), in 1844, were Rasselas W. Brown, Erastus and Nathaniel Burlingame, John W. Blake, Peter Beckwith, Walter Brush, Jedediah Brownell (father of Judge Brownell of Smethport), Joel Demming, Joseph Freeman, Sumner Latharn, D. D. Miner, A. B. Miner, 3ohn Montgomery, Enos Sweet, John Mowatt, Hosea Miriam, Tim B. Phelps, W. P. Wilcox, A. I. Wilcox, Ira Westcott, John O. Johnson, Miami York and Ebenezer Lee. A. I. Wilcox was assessor. In 1846 the names of Henry and G. T. Warner, Noah Strubble and Jacob Post are found among the tax-payers of this township.
The elections for Jones township were held February 27, 1844. Erastus Burlingame and Rasselas W. Brown were elected justices; Rasselas W. Brown and Jacob Meffert, supervisors; Ira Westcott, constable; E. Burlingame. assessor; Ebenezer Lee, J. Montgomery, John W. Blake, Jacob Meffert, Ira Westcott and R. W. Brown, school directors; J. C. Johnson, clerk; D. D. Minor and J~. Montgomery, overseers of poor; S. Latham, D. D. Minor and Ira Westcott, auditors; B. W. Brown, judge, and J. C. Johnson and D. D. Minor, inspectors of elections. Henry Warner was elected justice in 1849, and R. W. Brown, C. H. Fuller and G. T. Warner in 1850. The officers elected in February, 1890, are E. O. Aldrich, justice; C. O. Carlson, clerk; C. H. Homer, collector; Martin Sowers. treasurer; Irving Schultz and James H. Wells, school directors; Irving Schultz and Aaron Larson, supervisors, and F. W. Aldrich, auditor.
In Jones township, in 1850, were forty-five families and forty-five dwellings, 337 inhabitants, twenty-three farms and one industry (mill). The population in 1880 was 1,427. In 1888 there were 218 Republican, 125 Democratic and 3 Prohibitionist votes cast, representing about 1,740 inhabitants. A large number of unnaturalized Swedes, and other foreign residents, swell the total considerably.
In 1876 J. L. Brown contributed a sketch of the early history of Jones township to the school history prepared by Mr. Dixon that year. He states that the name is derived from Andrew M. Jones, who was owner of almost all the 120 square miles embraced in this division of Elk county. Oliphalet Covil was the pioneer who erected a log-house in 1836. In 1837 Isaiah Wilcox, Beckwith, Crandall, Butterfield, Hewey, Updyke, Dix, Minor and Buell located here. R. W. Brown, who came in 1838, was the only ante-forty settler, who was a resident in 1870. Col. W. P. Wilcox came in 1840, having settled just north of the line, at Williamsville in 1831. In 1837 James Hewey was born, his being the first birth in the township. The first schoolhouse was erected in 1842, on the St. Mary's road. In 1843 a stone house was built on the Smethport and Milesburg turnpike. The district was organized February 27, 1844, with R. W. Brown, Ebenezer Lee, Ira Westcott, J. Montgomery, Jacob Meffert and J. W. Blake, directors. Peter Hardy presided over the school of 1842 until succeeded by Sibyl Beekwith. Octavia Howard, J. Burlingame, Clarissa Warner, Mary Warner, Mary Fall, Amanda H. Miriam (Mrs. Brown), E. Burlingame and Miss Walters taught successively here, until the building was sold in 1857. In the stone building, Olive J. Brown and J. Burlingame taught for a while. This house is still standing but little used. In 1846 a log house was erected on the road to the Sweet farm, near the junction with the turnpike, in which Clarissa Warner, Emma Howard, Miss Brown (Mrs. Chapin of Ridgway), Misses Medbury and Scull presided successively. The Weidert school was built in 1858, and opened by G. B. Allen, followed by J. L. Brown. The stone school-house built in 1856 near the Warner farm, was abandoned shortly after. In 1859 - 60 the first school-house at Wilcox was opened by Matilda Horton. This was sold in 1870, when the large school-building commenced in 1868 was partly finished. In 1861 the Markert street house was built and opened by Jerry Burlingame.
Williamsville is a village on the Milesburg and Smethport turnpike. Hon. William P. Wilcox used to reside at this place. It is near McKean county, and is one of the longest established post-offices in Elk county.
This settlement, now called Rasselas, named in honor of Rasselas Wilcox Brown, has a Catholic church dedicated to the honor of the Holy Cross. As far as can now be ascertained, that parish dates back to 1855, as the baptismal records show, and was attended by the Benedictine Fathers of St. Mary's until September 20, 1874, when it was affiliated to the Warren Mission, then in charge of Rev. M. A. Delaroque, still pastor of that mission. In 1878 Rev. Bernard Klocker became pastor of it. The new stone church was begun in 1884, and in 1886 work thereon was discontinued. In 1888 Rev. George Winkler took charge of the mission, and work was resumed. It is a solid stone church, 40x80, with slate roof of Gothic style. Forty families constitute the congregation.
The Rasselas Lumber Company was organized in 1882, with J. L. Brown, P. S. Ernhout, W. W. Brown and H. H. Loomis, members. Their mills, at the head of Johnson's run near the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad track, were erected that year, but were burned in 1884, when the present large mill was erected. The company owned 1,300 acres of land.
Instanter, seven miles south of the site of Instanter of ancient times, is the name of a new depot on the new C. & J. Railroad. The tannery of Shultz & Hoyt was established at this point, and opened in January, 1890.
New Flanders was once the settlement of a colony sent here by the Belgian government. One Victor DeHam conceived the idea of colonization in Elk county, and in 1846 he obtained a number of Belgian colonists by contract, and, with DeHam as leader, New Flanders was founded. But Dellam had not carefully computed the cost of such an experiment, and in a brief period his money gave out, and the colonists, abandoning the enterprise, went to work elsewhere. Many descendants of these Belgians are still living in the county and are leading citizens. One old house, built in 1857, is all that remains of the old city of New Flanders. But the town is now full of life, and its enterprises are backed by men of large means. Around on every side is a deep forest of valuable timber, and here, on these bottom lands in and around New Flanders, the mills will be built to do the cutting. Here are fine railroad and water privileges, and elegant locations for factories. It is a very pleasantly located village, consisting of two hotels, several stores, a meat market and other industries. It is about two miles from Ketner by wagon road, on the road from St. Mary's to Rasselas, and on the recently completed Johnsonburg & Clermont Railroad. At or near the old settlement is the new one of Glen Hazel. The name and wonderful growth of this little town came from the fact that the firm of B. F. Hazelton & Co. have lately built a large saw-mill there, and are building miles of railroad, peeling large quantities of bark, putting in logs and other numerous work, giving employment to a large number of workingmen who are the backbone of any- lively business town. At this point the Johnsonburg & Erie Railroads separate. The station on the Erie is called Ketner, and was the post-office for Glen Hazel until recently. The town has several stores, restaurants, markets, boarding houses, etc. The post-office was established in July, 1889, with Mr. Watson in charge.
Wilcox, named in honor of Col. A. I. Wilcox, is located fourteen miles north of the county seat on the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad. It is noted for its immense tannery, for one of the best hotels in the State, for its palatial residences, its intelligent men and its charming women. The first post-office at the place was opened by A. I. Wilcox, in 1858 or 1859, with. A. T. Aldrich assistant. The last-named was de facto postmaster, but was not commissioned until 1860, since which time he has filled this position. The sale of stamps for year ending June 13, 1889, amounted to $1, 553. A newspaper correspondent, referring to this official in 1889, says: "It looked strange, yet it proved true, that a man who had been guilty of 'offensive partisanship' ever since he was a man grown, was still receiving a salary as postmaster under a Democratic administration. The only explanation we could gather for this state of affairs was that no Democrat wanted the office who was qualified to hold it, therefore Aldrich was left in possession. It looks now very much like a life lease. At the post-office we met those old Republican war horses, Jim Malone and Joe Tambini, the former as hale and hearty as when he was serving his country in Company F, of the old Fifty-eighth.
The pioneer store was built by A. I. & Lucius Wilcox, who carried on business until 1861, when A. I. Aldrich purchased the stock and carried on business until February, 1866, in the old store, where the tanning and lumber company's store now is. The building and office in rear were destroyed by fire at that time, and immediately Mr. Aldrich erected his present store.
The present Wilcox House was completed in the fall of 1858, and opened by Thomas J Goodwin. He was succeeded by John A. Ross, Mr. Morrison, Mrs. Clemmens, Louis Arner, John A. Bell and Ed. Richmond, followed by Capt. Cleveland, a colored employe of Maurice M. Shultz and a whaleboat man, who remained a few years, when Mr. Patterson leased the house, after whom came Fred Schoening and then the present host, H. N. Harris. The hotel is admirably conducted. The elegant residence built by Col. Wilcox is now the property of Irving Schultz.
The tannery at Wilcox was built in 1870 and rebuilt and enlarged in 1885. It employs 250 men inside and 50 outside. In the summer employment is given to 400 bark-peelers. It has 723 lay-away vats, and 6,000,000 pounds of leather are tanned yearly, which represents 333,000 sides, over 1,000 sides of leather every working day of the year. The tannery consumes from 24,000 to 25,000 cords of bark yearly, which is peeled on the company's own lands. A well-equipped broad-gauge railroad, with cars, engines and side-tracks, is among the judicious accoutrements that enable the firm to transport bark and material from the forests to and around the complicated sidings that gridiron the property for six miles. As the supply of bark is one of the most urgent necessities of a tannery, the elder Shultz made liberal provision, to which the sons have made some very handsome additions, by way of increased acreage. They now own in fee and control the bark and lumber on 40,000 acres of land in the counties of Elk and McKean. It is lighted by both electricity and gas, and so also is the town. Gas is used in the furnaces in connection with tan-bark for making steam. There are thirteen boilers, representing about 700 horse-power, which furnish steam for nine engines, eight large steam pumpers and five power pumpers. There are ten rolling machines, which are kept running night and day. Some very large buildings, constructed entirely of lumber, occupy the major portion of the land used exclusively for the tannery, chief of which might be mentioned the three drying, washing, engine. polishing and vat-houses. Seven hundred and twenty-three vats, seven feet wide by nine feet long, and five and one-half feet deep, the actual capacity of the concern, make it preeminently the largest tannery in the world. This great industry was established by Maurice M. Schultz, who came into the wilderness about twenty-six years ago. Over $1,000,000 capital are invested in the tannery, in the town of Wilcox, in the railroad tracks and sidings and general paraphernalia, indispensable to the successful conduct of such a mammoth establishment. Employer and employees work in perfect harmony at Wilcox, a hamlet having a population of 1.200 people, who subsist, directly or indirectly, upon the prolific income of the business. Cozy two-story houses are provided for most of the tenants. A handsome residence is famished the superintendent, A. A. Clearwater, who lives on elevated ground overlooking the hundred or more acres occupied by the town and tannery. The present owners are Norman and Irving Shultz. The former attends to the buying of hides and selling of leather in New York, while Irving resides at Wilcox and looks after the management of the tannery and the extensive gas and oil interests of the company.
The oil field, five miles north of Wilcox, at Burning Well, is controlled exclusively by Mr. Shultz.
In October, 1887, Capt. John Ernhout leased the large saw-mill at Wilcox. and increased its capacity to 110,000 feet per day, and is still its operator.
The Wilcox Land & Mining Company was organized in January, 1867, with C. H. Duhring, R. N. Rathbun, R. Bundle Smith, S. H. Horstman and A. I. Wilcox, members. The object was to develop the mineral lands in Jones township and in the neighborhood of the Wilcox saw-mill. In 1887 the property of this corporation was sold to H. A. Dubring.
The banking house of J. L. Brown was established in the summer of 1885, and the present bank block was erected in 1887.
Wilcox, in 1870, claimed a population of 1,100, where three years before a little hamlet with a population of 100 existed. The tannery, completed in January, and in operation, employed 300 men, and the monster saw-mill employed about fifty men. Capt. Cleveland conducted the Wilcox House; James Malone, a jewelry store, and A. T. Aldrich, a general store. Six years later the Schultz well was drilled, and several oil ventures inaugurated.
The Reformed Church of Wilcox petitioned for incorporation February 25, 1873. A. B. Preston, Andrew Fenn, Benjamin Bevier, J. L. Brown, Theo. Cook, J. B. Wells, H. M. Campbell, and E. G. Fuller were the petitioners. This society occupied a room in the public school until 1874, when the present church was completed.
The Wilcox Presbyterian Church was incorporated May 28, 1883, with Dr. A. II. Straight, W. G. Brown, P. S. Ernhout, H. Winning and J. C. Malone, trustees. This society is the successor of the Reformed Church of ten years before, and holds the property of the old church, worshiping in the house erected in 1874. Rev. T. S. Negley filled the pulpit for about six years prior to September, 1888, since which time Mr. Amy, of Kane, has preached here regularly.
The Catholic Church of Wilcox dates as far back as the Kane congregation, but until 1889 the people had no proper church edifice. In that year steps were taken by the Rev. George Winkler, its pastor, to erect a new frame church. It has about twenty-five families, and cost $1,500.
The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran church was erected in 1885. Services were given by the pastor of Kane.
The Wilcox Cemetery Association was organized in January, 1876. with fifty-three subscribers, A. I. Wilcox, A. B. Preston, A. T. Aldrich, Irving Schultz, R. A. Westcott, Theo. Veiditz and J. L. Brown, being directors. The improvement of the old cemetery was at once begun.
State Deputy G. W. Brown, of Youngsville, Penn., organized a new lodge of Good Templars in May, 1877, called Wilcox Lodge, with twenty charter members, and the following-named officers: J. C. Malone, Laura M. Brown, W. N. Longreen, Amanda L. Wilcox, J. L. Brown, Rev. W. H. Hoffman, H. W. Campbell, Mary Praut, Charles Bower, Mrs. W. H. Hoffman, Mrs. A. H. Brown, Mrs. M. L. Malone, Mrs. Laura MePherran, Jessie Aldrich, Prof. W. S. McPherran; trustees, A. B. Preston, J. L. Brown and J. O. Malone.
Wilcox Lodge, No. 571, F. & A. M., was constituted in June, 1887, by the grand officers, when the following named officers were installed: O. M. Montgomery, W. M.; J. L. Brown, S. W.; P. S. Ernhout, J. W.; J. O. Malone, treasurer; Carl Oldoerp, secretary. The officers for 1888 were Gurnee Freeman, W. M.; J. L. Brown, J. W.; P. S. Ernhout, J. W. For 1889: J. L. Brown, W. XL; P. S. Ernhout, S. W.; Dr. J. S. Wells, J. W. Messrs. Freeman, Clark and Van Ostin are members of the commandery.
Hiram Warner Post, 594, G. A. H., was organized at Wilcox in December, 1889, with twelve members. A. A. Clearwater was elected commander. Col. J. M. Grosh and other soldiers from Ridgway assisted at muster in.
Source: Page(s) 674-681, 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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