TOPOGRAPHY. AND NATURAL HISTORY.
BOUNDARY AND AREA - POPULATION-FORESTS-STREAMS- ELEVATIONS- MINERALS-OIL FIELDS, ETC.-OIL LITIGATION-OIL MYSTERIES-SCOUTS-FIRES, ETC.-LUMBERING-MISCELLANEOUS.
FOREST COUNTY is bounded on the north by the south line of Warren county, on the east by the west line of Elk county, on the south by the north lines of Jefferson and Clarion counties, and on the west by the east line of Venango county, the east line being 10 58' west of Washington, and the west line 2° 38' west. The area is 431 square miles or 275,840 acres.
The population in 1860 was 988, increased by 1870 to 4,010, owing principally to the fact that in October, 1866, five townships of Venango county were attached to the new county. The population in 1880 was 4,385. In November, 1888, there were 917 Republican votes, 612 Democratic, 72 Prohibitionist, and one Union Labor cast, or 1,602 votes, showing an estimated population of 8,010 inhabitants.
The most of the land in Forest county is heavily timbered with beech, sugar-maple, hemlock, ash and cherry. White oak is also found here, and more than one mill gives almost exclusive attention to the sawing of hard wood. Years ago the great body of pine was removed, but today the hemlock forests more than fill the place of the ancient pines, yielding material to the lumberman as well as to the bark peeler. Throughout the valleys are several productive farms, and on some of the plateaus the true agriculturist finds his labor rewarded.
The Allegheny assumes the character of a large and beautiful river in its course through the western townships. F or centuries it worked· through those hills forming islands, changing shore lines and carrying away clayey substances, making for the present a well-defined channel with its bed on solid layers of shattered shale or heavy gravel. Here the aborigines had their lodges, and hither came the itinerant enthusiast--Zeisberger, to dwell for a term among the savages. The Tionesta, another large stream, enters the river at the county seat, forming a communication with the interior settlements. The minor streams are described as follows, the description being taken from Daniel Harrington's sketches written in 1879-80:
"Salmon creek heads near Marien, the old county seat, or Blood's Settlement, as it was originally called It runs a northwest course and empties into the Tionesta two and a half miles above Newtown Mills. Salmon creek and the Branch are both excellent water powers. The stream called the Branch, heads about three miles south of Balltown, runs a westerly course, about parallel with Tionesta creek, and empties into Salmon creek about a mile from its mouth. Hazelton run comes into Tionesta from the north. One mile higher up Fork run comes in, also from the north, and opposite, Salmon creek empties from the south. One mile above these streams is Minister creek, on the north side of the Tionesta. The hills on both sides of these last mentioned streams have all been chopped over for the pine timber. Here and there a farm has been cleared on the ridges. Just above the mouth of Minister stands the old Minister mill, now but a wreck of its former self. It was a water power, and in its day turned out millions of feet of lumber. The timber is gone, and there was no further use for the mill. Next come Buck Mills, or Panther Rock, one mile above Minister. The pine is getting scarce around this mill, and will not last more than two or three years longer. Buck is also a water power. Some hemlock is now cut, of which there is a good 'supply on the Hook lands. There is also considerable ash and cherry in the neighborhood. Panther run comes into Tionesta from the south. It is a small stream, only two miles in length. There is only a narrow ridge between its head and the Branch. Then comes Bob's creek from the north. It is a good sized stream at the mouth, but forks about a mile up. About all the pine timber is gone on both sides of this run. It is about two miles from Buck Mills to the mouth of Bob's creek. On the right of this stream is the highest ridge in all this section of country. A fire ran over it some years ago and killed all the timber. There is a splendid view from the top of the ridge. Eastward you can see down the valley of the Porcupine, which runs easterly, till it empties into the Tionesta, a mile above Balltown. You can see up Tionesta creek three or four miles, and on the west you can see clear across the valleys of Big and Little Coon creeks into Clarion county, near Fryburg. This highest ridge belongs to Col. James Bleakley, in Franklin. As it has never been developed, it may contain more wealth than the International Bank. Porcupine run empties into the Tionesta on the north side, one mile below Minister. Orris Hall has built a mill on the last named stream, and there is some lumber to run from that quarter.
"At the mouth of Big Coon creek, six miles above Tionesta, was a great crossing for deer and bears. The wolves used to run deer in on the ice and kill them, so that the traveler could often see carcasses on the ice. Bluejay creek heads up toward Marienville and it is about as large as Big Coon creek. At an: early day it was full of trout, but constant fishing has made them scarce. The woods along the stream were alive with deer, bears and wolves. Several natural licks were found along the creek, which were frequented by deer night and day, unless some hunter molested them, which was very seldom. Bluejay comes into the Tionesta from the south. About three miles above Balltown are two little streams that Kingsley called the Blue and White Sheriffs. These names came about in this way: Sheriff Arthur Robinson, or Venango county, and Sheriff Littlefield, of Warren county, were laying out the State road from the mouth of Tionesta creek, then in Venango, to Sheffield township, in Warren county. The road ran up the creek. One of the sheriffs was dressed in blue clothing. and the other wore a light summer suit. From this, Kingsley, who was of a waggish nature, named the streams." Hickory creek rises in Limestone township, Warren county, and flowing southwest enters the Allegheny at East Hickory. Numerous streams run south or southeast through Harmony township into the main River, while Millstone and Maple creeks belong to the southern townships.
The ridge which runs in a northeastern direction, from Tylersburg in Clearfield county, at an elevation of 1,627 feet, to Howard Hill, in McKean county, is generally known as the "Big Level ridge." The summit of this ridge is a gradually ascending one from its southwestern to its northeastern end. At Tylersburg the elevation is 1,627; at Marienville, 1,728; near Sheffield Junction, 1,885; at Spring creek, 1,950; at Kane, 2,020, and at Howard hill, 2,249 feet. Along the crest of the ridge, from Tylersburg to Howard hill (forty miles, in an air line), there is scarcely a break, where its summit has been eroded more than fifteen or twenty-five feet below the line of this ascending plane. This ridge is capped with Johnson Run sandstone with overlying shale at some points. Among the measured elevations, old Pollard log-house, 1,770 feet above tide; northwest quarter of warrant 3177, 1,810; at the Indian doctor's house (Harris), 1,790; Eldridge's summit, 1,860; Marienville summit, 1,805; Marienville, 1,715; Oakwoods summit, 1,750; Hazlett's spring, 1,770; Nebraska bridge, 1,095; Tionesta hill, west of the Allegheny, 1,595; Wheeler's ridge, 1,645; Hickory depot, 1,092; Cunningham's ridge, 1,750; Copeland's hill, 1,680; Big level, on Elk county line, 1,912; Kinnear's (Hunter's shanty), between the sources of Millstone creek and Wolf run, 1,770 feet; Byrom's depot, 1,812; Redclyffe cross-roads, 1,615; hill opposite Foxburg, 1,500, and Tionesta depot, 1,058 feet.
The general compiled section of the coal measures found in the county, and more particularly in Jenks township, showing 334 feet, is as follows:
Shales and sandstones " 50' 8. Shales and slate " , 10'
Clarion coal bed .. " , " 2' 3" 9. Kinzua creek sandstone, lower
Johnson run sandstone " 70' er member , 40'
Alton Upper coal bed 3' 10. l'Iarshburg slates, containin~ a
Shales and slates '" 5' to 10' coal bed two feet thick , 10'
Alton Lower coal bed 4' 11. Olean conglomerate 100'
7. Kiuzua creek sandstone, up·
per member 40'
The first coal mined was at Balltown. In 1869-70 coal was sold at the old Everhart bank, two miles from Newmanville. for seven cents per bushel, while at Tionesta the price was 25 cents. In 1875 William Heath opened his mine, followed by Peter Youngk.
In 1845 an Indian from Wisconsin came hither to explore the mineral lands of which he heard the old men of his tribe speak. After a search of several weeks he returned disappointed. Some years before a white man was taken hither blindfolded, and the visor lowered to permit him to see the silver mines. In 1867 a Frenchman came hither from the west to search for the mysterious silver deposit, but was unsuccessful. Within a mile of the old Daniel Huddlestone farm, in Tionesta township, on warrant 2827, are the ditches of prehistoric miners, which were first explored by James Evans, of Franklin.
Two miles above the mouth of Little Hickory was the Cross furnace, which was abandoned after a number of years for want of more limestone. From 1826 to 1831 the Tionesta furnace existed near the west end of Creek bridge, its site being visible in 1870. The pigs were taken down the river in a seven-ton vessel, known as "Gen. Hay's Big Canoe" .... In C. Gillespie's water well at Whig hill, twelve miles up Tionesta creek, a four-foot vein of iron ore was discovered in November, 1867.
Oil Fields.-From1862 to 1865 residents of the county as well as travelers up and down the river asked themselves why oil did not exist in this section of the Allegheny valley as well as on Oil creek. To satisfy the querists, one or two ventures were made in the latter year. The well on the Holeman flats, drilled in 1865, began to flow in November, 1867. On Sugar run, one and one-fourth miles below Nebraska, is the scene of the oil excitement of 1865-66, when a number of wells were drilled from 360 to 500 feet, oil being found in paying quantities only on the Conroy farm, near Wolcott's well of 1883. The well at Jamison's was shot in September, 1889, and proved a five-barrel producer.
An old oil well on the Dawson farm, Stewart's run, was revived in May, 1861, by a torpedo, and other abandoned wells were also subjected to a shaking up. The Oldtown Petroleum Company's well was drilled 1,000 feet on the May farm, Tionesta creek, by S. S. Hulings, in February, 1867; salt water at the rate of 150 barrels per day was produced. The East Sandy gas well touched gas at 350 feet in January, 1868, blowing the tools thirty feet into the air, and, the gas taking fire, flames shot up 100 feet. IN June, 1869, a twenty-five barrel well was drilled on Jamison flats.
Co1. P. D. Thomas leased several tracts in the borough to Bapti, Frost & Co., Co1. Simmons and J. G. Gear, and Stewart & Andrews purchased up Tubbs run at the great pigeon roost, Prof. Shotwell, near Tubbs run, Shafer & Co., and others, in the vicinity .... The Ross run oil field was abandoned in January, 1870, leaving the hearts of many operators sore. The East Hickory oil stampede dates back to the spring of 1870, when the Dr. Winner and the Welton & Stephenson wells were drilled .... The Bird well (Irwin's) and the venture on the Tuttle farm, the McNair well on the Wilkin's farm, Benney's on the Jones farro, the Scott well on the Scott farm, and the proposed wells on the Fagundas farms, by Neyhart, Grandin & Fisher, and at White Oak, kept West Hickory in a sea of excitement throughout the summer of 1870.
On July 1, 1870, McNair No.1 well on the Wilkins' farm was producing 1,240 barrels, and No.1 on the H. W. Scott farm, 175 barrels. No.2 was drilled 400 feet close by, while McNair No.2 was also drilling. One well on each of the following numbered lots was also being drilled: Lots 5, 6, 7, 2 and 3; while on leases 9, 10, 11 and 4 the drillers were kept busy. "Wells No.1 to 5 inclusive, on the Fagundas farm, were down from 350 to 450 feet .... On the Tuttle farm Irwin & Bil'd were pumping seventy-five barrels, and the vent· ure was yielding 200 barrels, while a number of wells were drilling, and Dickson & Carson struck a twenty-five barrel well at West Hickory. In February, 1870, the daily production at Fagundas was 1,600 barrels .... In 1873 Rev. William Richardson, superintendent for Grandin. Kelly & Co., drilled on Hemlock creek, and found oil. Kahle Bros. drilled four wells there later. In January, 1877, W. S. McMullen leased the abandoned oil territory on the West Hickory oil farm. and began the work of pumping the old wells .... The Grove & Hart well at Tionesta was drilled in the spring of 1876, and the Hunter well, near the depot, in 1876-77. Nichol's well, on the Lander's fal'm in Harmony township, was producing about this time .... In August, 1877, an oil well was drilled on the Copeland farm for Copeland & Gleason; Dr. Towler's well at Marien, the McLaughlin well on the Kepler farm, the Berry well, one and one-half miles east of the first well near Balltown, a well on Logan run, the Brookston Tannery well, and other ventures were made .... Blue Jay well, No.1, near Foxburg, was a producer in Novemher. 1880.
In the fall of 1882 the Cooper tract began to show its possibilities .... The Charles Shultz well came in in Jannary, 1883, with a production of 500 barrels per day; the Clark & Foster well did not prove of much importance, though in October, 1882, the crude showed 45° gravity, while the Reno well was keeping up its production. The Grandin, Berry & Kelly No.2, at Balltown, also drilled in 1882, was reported dry on January 4, but the erection of two large tanks there led many to believe in the inaccuracy of the report .... The Reed & Brenneman well was struck, beginning with 2,400 barrels per day and declining to 800. The Patterson & Leedom well, on warrant 2730, was drilled dry by Roth, Bock & Co. ; Galey Bros. & Stewart wells were also drilled, and the . Reno began flowing 900 barrels per day, exclusive of the 5,000 wasted Shannon started with 200 barrels; while Fertig & Henne, Sherman Bros., Forest Oil Company and McCalmont Oil Company were all at work. Toward the close or January, 1883, the Union Oil Company's well reported a 3,000-barrel flow; James Walsh's Dutch well, on Porky run, was begun, and in February yielded oil, while round the new town of Forest City wells were being drilled on the Shannon lease, warrant 2735, by Murphy & Co. on 3198, and one by Agnew & Rogers. One-half mile east or this city, at the Reed & Brenneman well, was Gusher City; a village of ten houses. George Coyle, the terror of the two cities, was shot in the foot in February and died under chloroform.... Near Newmanville Searles & Co. located their wells in 1882-83, and in 1883 Wolcott's well, below Nebraska, was drilled. Grandin & Kelly's No.3, on the Cook lands, produced crude of 45° gravity in August, 1882 .... The Tionesta Oil Company began operations near Brace's mill, on tract 5218, in April, 1883, and in the same month and year the Hoodoo Oil Company was organized by the scouts, and a well drilled in the southwestern corner of warrant 3668. J. C. Tennent, P. C. Boyle and L. A. Beaumont were the interested parties. It required forty feet of drive-pipe to reach the bedrock, and the well was cased 450 feet. Salt- water was found in the Clarion sand at 587 reet, and a white pebbly sand was found at 1,475 feet, which afforded five bailers or oil daily. Sand was encountered from 1,670 to 1,709 feet, and at 1,735 feet a red sand was discovered having a thickness of forty feet, and resembling the stray sand or the Cooper tract. From this level the drilling was hard down to 1,900 feet. The formation from 1,900 to 2,030 feet consisted of shells and black slate. This well, drilled by the scouts, had a showing of oil which made prospecting in its vicinity alluring, and large expenses were made in the endeavor to open up a new field. S. B. Hughes secured lands, and with John Johnson and M. Murphy drilled one well northwest of the Hoodoo, and a second one 1,600 feet east of it. Both of these wells were failures; but, not to be discouraged, Hughes drilled a third well in this section, on a 45° line northeast of the Hoodoo well, and about sixty rods from the northern boundary line of the warrant, which was also a failure. Windsor & Co., of Titusville, completed two small wells along the eastern boundary line of warrant 3561, almost due south or the Hoodoo well. The Frost dry hole is situated on this warrant and southwest or the Hoodoo well, and Butts & Palmer added a duster to the list on a warrant still further to the west .... In November, 1883, the gauge of the Balltown field showed a production of 3,350 barrels of oil. During that winter the L. Agnew building was erected, and additions made to Corah & Hawk's hotel .... In March, 1884, the gauge of the Cooper tract showed 5,010 barrels from 182 wells, and or the Balltown tract, 3,376 barrels from seventy-six wells. Within the week ending March 26, fourteen new wells were completed and twenty-three shot in the Cooper tract, and in the Balltown, two new wells were completed and sixteen torpedoed. Barnum & Co.'s well, on warrant 3820, Green township, was drilled to sand in June, 1888, gas answering the drill. In 1883 the Walters well was drilled, by Capt. Grace, on this warrant, two years later Barnum drilled one mile east or the Walters well, and in 1886 the Mealy Brothers drilled on their farm.
Early in the summer of 1885 the old Kennedy & Hancock well, on Whig hill, was drilled deeper, and a fair show of good oil obtained .... The development of territory at Crisman's mills and at the mouth of Fool's creek, in the Gusher City neighborhood, commenced in July, 1885, after the Agnew & Proper well, two miles up the creek, was pronounced a success .... Tionesta Gas Company's No.2, on warrant 2825, a half mile northwest from their No. 1, struck the deep or Speechly sand in July, 1886, finding gas therein in generous quantity. A small showing of oil was found. The well is located on the south line of the warrant, 1,500 feet north of the southwest corner and about ten rods from the west line, on the Gilmore lands. The sand is thinner here than is the first well by one-half, No.2 finding only forty feet of rock against eighty feet in No.1. Allhouse, who drilled both wells, insists there is a better showing of oil in No. 2 than was found in the first well .... Carnahan's well, on the Kepler farm, opened in July, 1887, yielded 600 barrels in two weeks. Stewart & Wood followed this discovery by the purchase of 2,275 acres, and Black Brothers by leasing 250 acres in the vicinity .... The McCray well, on 5208, a mile south of the great gas well in Hickory township, was drilled in April, 1888 .... On the C. O. Baird lands, A. B. Kelly leased in 1887, and in September, 1889, his eighth well was completed .... In 1877 O. W. Proper built a rig at Cherry Grove, the first on tract 745, near the line of Forest county. This proved dry, when he went into the land business, giving a little attention to local wells. In January, 1889, he and J. F. Proper drilled a well on the Matthewson farm in Harmony township, following their well on the Copeland lands. They have five producing wells on the Matthewson farm, and are now drilling on the Hill farm, six miles down the river from Tionesta, near the McGrew Brothers' wells (begun in 1888), one of which is a fair producer.
The Cooper tract adjoins the Balltown tract on the northeast .... J. M. Clapp operates 200 acres of the C. J. Fox lands, near Foxburg in this district, which yields about 300 barrels per month. He bought the property about seven year's ago for a comparatively small sum. Capt. Haight, Anchor Oil Company, Reagan & Goff, T. W. Pratt and Bain, Fuller & Co. are operators. John L. Kenny's wells are in the neighborhood of Henry's mills, near the county line, and Horton, Crary & Co.' s wells are east of Brookston.
In the Balltown field A. B. Kelly & Co. have sixty wells; the Balltown Oil Company, seventy-six; the Porcupine Oil Company, fifty-four; Agnew, Walshe & Proper, twenty-one; Agnew, Haight & Proper, seven, and Clark & Foster, fifty-eight, a total of 276. About 300 wells have been drilled in this field, of which 150 are producers at present. Walshe & Grandin have eight wells on their 200-acre lease (warrant 5266), of which three are producers .... Fogle farm and other tracts owned by J. J. Carter, produce about 4,000 barrels per month. In the Dawson run field the Tionesta Oil Company's product is 300 barrels. On the O. Bayard tract, A. B. Kelly produces 3,000 barrels; on the Gorman run tract, Hopkins, Gorman & Setley, 500barrels; on the Manderson tract, Proper Brothers and H. Collins, 600 barrels; on the Copeland farm (Bovee), 500 barrels; Kepler, Hale & Beaver farm (Carnahan), 600 barrels, while the old Fagundas field yields now about 500 barrels per month.
The history of the Balltown field, as outlined by one of the producers, is interesting and valuable. This field is the largest and most prolific yet found in Forest county. It is situated in Howe and Kingsley townships, its present terminus being- on the Green farm. near the mouth of Fork run, from which point the belt is traced in a northeasterly direction about ten miles, through warrants numbered 5266, 5267, 5268, 3133, 4821,4792,3194, 3195, 3197 and 3198, to the Cooper district. These warrants contain about 8,000 acres of land, though the oil belt, or pool, in places through them does not exceed eighty rods in width. Warrants 5266 and 5267 are part of a large body of 7,000 acres of land, known as the Cook estate, leased by H. H. May (now deceased), A. B. Kelly and B. W. May, of Tionesta, Penn. Part of warrant. 5268 is known as the Schooley lands, leased by J. C. Welsh, and part by the Anchor Oil Company. The Green farm was leased by J. C. Welsh & Co., and that part of the last named warrant owned by the Tionesta Oil Company, leased by Kelly, Grandin, Agnew & Proper; warrant 3133, owned by L. F. Watson, leased by Murphey & Davis; warrants 4821, 4823, 4792, 3195, 3197, owned by the Pittsburgh & Forest County Oil & Lumber Company, and John A. Proper and J. B. Agnew, leased by J. B. Agnew in 1875 in connection with the Balltown Oil Company; warrant No 3194, owned by the Hall Estate & Miller, leased and purchased by Murphey & Davis and the Anchor Oil· Company, called the Porcupine Oil Company; warrant No. 3198, owned by J. B. Agnew, 400 acres leased to Haight, Proper & Agnew. And 300 acres leased and sold to M. Murphey, Union Oil Company and others.
The first oil found at Balltown was a light showing of oil in a well drilled by Whisner and other New York party’s in 1863-64, but was not sufficient to induce them to continue operations. In 1875 John A. Propel and J. B. Agnew, who were then part owners of the 4,000 acres of the Balltown lands, believing it to be good oil territory began arranging for its development. On September 1, 1875, J. B. Agnew procured from the other owners a lease of the 4,000 acres of land, by which the Balltown Oil Company, then composed of Peter and David Berry, E. B. and J. L. Grandin, W. T. Scheidie, J. B. Agnew and John A. Proper, was formed. A year later Capt. J. M. Clapp purchased an interest in said company. In the spring or 1876 this company commenced operations by drilling one well at Balltown, the well being known as Balltown Oil Company's No. 1. But as this well made only a light showing of oil, the property being then isolated many miles from pipelines, etc., it only gave sufficient encouragement to try for better wells. The company then having procured leases of about 5,000 acres of the lands or Drexel, Duhring & Wright and the Funk Estate, adjoining the Balltown lands, next proceeded to put down a well on the lands of Duhring & Wright on warrant No. 4791, in August, 1877. Not finding oil in it in paying quantities, they next drilled a well on the lands of the Funk heirs without finding any good showing of oil. In 1881 they drilled another well at Balltown, near their No. 1, that started off at about twenty-five barrels per day, but did not hold out well. They then, in 1882, proceeded with their fifth well near the last one drilled, which proved to be dry. They next drilled their sixth well on warrant 4823, which proved to be a paying well, and which resulted in the opening of a large production in that part of the field. Mr. Agnew had, prior to this, made an agreement for a lease for the Cook property, but the company not being ready to proceed with operations within the time allowed, he gave that up, and about 1881 Messrs. May & Kelly, who had purchased the timber on the Cook lands, took a lease of said lands, and commenced operations on warrant 5288, and completed one well, which proved a failure. They commenced a second well, when an arrangement was made whereby the Balltown Oil Company became half owners with them in the lease of the whole 7,000 acres. Their second well not being a paying well, they started the third well. which was located by H. H. May (now deceased) who is said to have stuck his cane in the ground at the place where the conductor hole of the well was afterward started for the No. 3 well, at the distance of a half mile from the last wells drilled. This well was drilled a short distance into the sand in August, 1882, and showed for a large well, but was not fully opened until the December following, when pipe-line connections and telegraph communication were established with the Balltown field. When drilled through the sand, this well started at the rate of 1,000 barrels per day, causing great excitement in that field and throughout the oil region, and having quite an effect upon the oil market. This well, known as No.3 Cook lease, has been one of the largest and best wells in the field. It is still producing, and is said to have yielded between two and three hundred thousand barrels.
Since that time some sixty wells have been drilled on warrants 5266 and 5267, many of them starting at the rate of over 1,000 barrels per day, and together have produced up to this time about 1,000,000 barrels, and still have an annual production of about 50,000 barrels. Large wells are also found on warrants 5268 to the southwest, and a large amount of oil has been produced there from. Immediately after the drilling of the Balltown Oil Company's well on warrant 4823, being their No.6, the Porcupine Oil Company bought warrant 3194 for $25,000, and commenced operations on it, striking a gusher for their first well that caught fire and burned up the rig before they were aware that they had penetrated the rock. This well, when opened, started at nearly 1,000 barrels per day, and was immediately followed by the drilling of other wells by said company, some of which produced -as much as 2,500 barrels per day. At the same time this well was being drilled, the Balltown Oil Company was drilling on warrants 4821 and 4792 wells that started at the rate of from 300 to 500 barrels per day, afterward getting two wells that started at the rate of twenty-five barrels per day. This was followed by the drilling of a large number of wells on all of said warrants and warrant 4823, some 100 in number within two years, bringing the production of the Balltown :field at one time up to about 8,000 barrels per day.
In June, 1884, J. B. Agnew, John A. Proper and J. C. Welsh drilled a well on ninety acres of warrant 3195, owned by Proper & Agnew, and known .as the Proper Reserve, that started at the rate of 1,300 barrels per day, and averaged 800 barrels per day for the first month. This resulted in the opening of warrants 3195, 3197 and 3198; Agnew & Proper's well No.1, Proper Reserve, having produced alone nearly 200,000 barrels of oil, they drilling, in addition to this, twenty wells on the Proper Reserve, and thirty acres of said warrant known as the Nickle Oil Company, in which L. Agnew and J. F. Proper were interested. Clark & Foster became the lessees of 500 acres of warrants No. 3195 and 3197, on which they got some large wells, and have drilled on it a large number of wells, which have produced over half a million barrels of oil. Taking the Balltown field altogether, with the oil produced from warrant 3198, that field has produced about 5,000,000 barrels of oil since 1883, and is yet producing from 8,000 to 10,000 barrels of oil per month.
John Cook was the owner of the 3,000 or 4,000 acres which later constituted the Cook estate situate on Tionesta and Bob's creeks, near Panther Rock or Buck Mills. Cook was an Englishman, and resided in Philadelphia, where he died. H. H. May and Orris Hall bought the pine timber from the administrators of the estate or trustees of the Philadelphia Blind Asylum at $1 per thousand, stumpage, and in 1879 obtained oil rights on 700 acres. This right formerly formed a part of their lumber lease. After drilling two wells, which were condemned, the syndicate, of which Mr. May was a member, secured 6,300 acres. Daniel Harrington, in his reminiscences speaks of Cook and of hemlock, but never of oil. He writes in 1879 as follows: During the war, while lumber was high, they coined money almost as fast as one of Uncle Sam's mints. No wonder that May is a banker, and can sit down and count his ten per cent. The pine timber is about all used up. Some twenty-five years ago Cook was here to view his possessions. He was an eccentric man, and a fine scholar. On one of his trips to Tionesta village from the mills he was caught in a heavy thunder shower. He had a summer suit on, and got, very wet. He stopped at our house, and went to bed while my wife dried his clothing by the fire. After his clothes were dried he got up. One part of his wardrobe was a white silk vest, which was badly stained by the tobacco he carried in one of its pockets. He made a great lamentation over that stain, more than some would if they had been in the mud all over. Mr. Cook was one of those men who cannot control their love for the substitute of hop bitters, and that, at last, hopped him off to the other shore. There is a very large quantity of good hemlock timber on the land, and the day is perhaps coming when there will be as much money in hemlock as there was in pine." Some time before Mr. May, of Tionesta, died, the old gentleman visited Balltown to look over the land which he owned in that vicinity. While there he drove a stake into the ground and said he would like to see a well drilled at that spot. After his death his son, Ben May, mentioned the circumstance to Mr. Grandin, and the latter said: "We will make a test at that spot." The stake was found and the well drilled, and it has been known as the Grandin No.3, the largest well ever struck in the Balltown district.
The suit relating to the ownership of warrant 4792 ---- 300,000 barrels of oil above ground and the lease of the land was entered, but settled just before the trial, the Pittsburgh Company and Balltown Oil Company taking the oil and surrendering the property. The suit commenced in 1883, but was settled in January, 1884, when the Balltown Company was continued as lessees under the title of the Howe Oil Company. The oil right of this warrant was valued at $500,000, the most valuable oil right in litigation in this county. Another suit, concerning the original lines of warrant 4821, involving the ownership of twenty-three acres which produced 58,000 barrels prior to the settlement of suit, was commenced in 1883 and settled in 1888, costing the litigants $40, 000. Co1. L. F. Watson was the principal plaintiff, and the Pittsburgh and Balltown oil companies principal defendants. The greater part of the $40,000 was for attorneys' fees and expenses of surveyors and witnesses, the leading lawyers of the district being employed.
The "Shannon mystery" dates back to 1876, when Marcus Hulings began drilling for oil on the banks of the Tionesta at Foxburg then a hamlet of two dwellings, one barn and a school-house. The drill was driven by the waterwheel of the old saw-mill, and reached sufficient depth to urge Hulings to transfer his tools to the Bradford field. C. A. Schultz, a piano tuner, interested Morck, a watch repairer of Warren, in the abandoned oil field, and both leased the Fox lands and adjacent territory, embracing the Cooper farm in Howe township. Lots were sold on easy conditions and wells drilled; but oil would not respond. The anxious owners met P. M. Shannon, of Bradford, and offered him great inducements to develop Lot D in the Cooper tract. A. B. Walker and T. J. Melvin joined Shannon, and in the summer of 1882 had their roads cut and machinery on the field. Drilling commenced, but on July 25, when the drill reached 1,800 feet, Walker & Melvin, annoyed with delay, retired from the field. On the day following Shannon wrote to them to return, saying: "Can't stop her! She is a teaser! Bring two or three as large plugs as you can get, and hurry here." Guards were placed round the "mystery," and a military system followed closely until the "mystery" was sold. Pratt, Bean & Fuller are the present owners of this old well.
Scouts. Duringthe palmy days of scouting, when every important well was made a mystery, there were many exciting adventures encountered by the scouts in their midnight work. Guards were sometimes lonely in the still watches of the night, and amused themselves by firing their rifles, muskets or revolvers in a promiscuous manner, not calculated to encourage scouts prowling in the vicinity. In the history of McKean county a good deal is written of the scouts and guards; but little is said of Cooper Hill and the Shannon mystery. A. C. Snell, of the Era, speaking of the old days, describes the guards square round the Shannon well as a ten-foot opening in the deep forest, some distance from the well, and surrounding it with a sentry box at each corner. He was one of the first scouts there, and managed to enter the mysterious circle unobserved and measure the oil in the tank While making plans for escape, he saw two lantern lights carried forward through the forest, just as the guards were changed for the night. The new guards also observed the lights and fired their warning round, when the lights went out. One guard, believing that the intruders would not venture closer that night, selected a spot near the derrick for shelter in preference to the sentry-box, but was not long there when another alarm was turned in. This guard rushing to his post, fell over Snell, and, though terribly scared, arrested the scout and took him to Capt. Haight's shanty, leaving his fellow guards to shout and fire as only guards of that period could. Haight, after examining the intruder, failed to perceive that he had secured the information he sought, and drove him into the wilderness in the darkness. The men who were the cause of the alarm were Armstrong and Cleminger, two Foxburg speculators.
The Shannon mystery and the Cherry Grove pool had to be watched by the scouts at the same time. On one dark night, when Tennent, in company with J. H. Rathbun, a fellow· scout, remained on duty at the Shannon mystery, his earthly career came near being terminated. While moving along on all fours to get near the well, he grasped the limb of a dead log in order to draw himself over it. The twig broke with a land report, and the guard, whose station was close at hand, fired. The bullet whizzed past Tennent's ear and in close proximity to his head. Tennent made no mistakes in placing an estimate on the Shannon well, and the advancing market of the fall of 1882 found Capt. Jones loaded with oil bought at bottom figures. In December, 1882, May, Kelly & Grandin' s No.3 was drilled deeper after market hours, and responded at a rate which played havoc with the bulls at the opening on the following day. Tennent and the other scouts watched the well drilled deeper from points outside the guard lines. In his estimates on its production he reported it good for 900 barrels in the first twenty-four hours. The other scouts rated it much lower, and those who have the correct figures sent them out as Tennent's estimate. The gauge on the next day showed the Correctness of his judgment, which was based on the length of flows and the interval between them. P. C. Boyle, aided by W. C. Edwards and Tennent, were the schemers who made the brilliant play of the year when they drilled the May, Kelly & Grandin No. 4 below the sand level, before the owners learned that the sand had been tapped. The methods employed and the financial pressure brought to bear on trusted employees will not bear analysis outside of the realms where mystery men and scouts measure strength for results to be used in the halls where gambling in oil bears the stamp of respectability. As a rule the scouts directed their best energies to correcting the false reports sent out by mystery men; but at the Grandin well they took the aggressive and got the better of honest men. At the No.4, which came in dry, and. proved a grand surprise to the trade, Mr. Boyle, that most enterprising scout, had the guards out to keep intruders from the well, and when Mr. Hague came to the well one morning, with a bailer on his shoulder, he could not gain admission to his own well until the contractor came to the guard line and gave orders to the guard to let him in. Boyle and Tennent did some fine work at the Patterson well north of the Cooper tract.
Many were the wild rides to a telegraph office nine or ten miles distant, each scout anxious to file the first message. Oftentimes the owners of the wells were in the cavalcade, urging their horses with whip and spur, but there is no case on record when owners were not beaten by some of the hard-riding fieldmen. The best of horses were in demand, and the time made was, in some instances, remarkable, considering that the roads were of the roughest. Occasionally a horse, going at a mad gallop, would stumble over the rocks in its path and fall, throwing its rider over its head-but accidents were few. B. S. Tupper, the only one of the old time scouts who is constantly in the field yet, was thrown in this way on the road from Cooper Hill to Sheffield in the spring of 1883, and had his leg broken. He declined assistance from those coming after him, but refused to be moved out of the road to let them pass until they had taken his messages to deliver at the telegraph office. After filing the messages they returned at once and carried him tenderly to the town.
Fires, etc. The oil line, on the Porcupine Oil Company's lease, in Howe township, burst in February, 1888, letting 125 barrels into Porky creek, where it was ignited by a gas jet. The derrick, boiler-house and tank were burned .... During the storm of July, 1886, Kelly, Grandin & Co.' s tanks, at Buck Mills, were struck by lightning and 1,000 barrels of oil burned ..... "Doc" Haggerty, of the Warren Torpedo Company, and the two horses which he was driving, were blown to atoms by glycerine, in December, 1888, while en route from West Hickory to Pleasantville. Not a vestige of the" Doc" has since been found.
Lumbering. Inthe chapter on pioneers, as well as in that devoted to the townships and villages of Forest county, references are made to the early lumbermen and their saw-mills in this region ..... The Lumbermen's Association was organized in August, 1872, to oppose the Clarion River Navigation Company. The members were John Cobb & Sons, Henry Moore, of the Millstone Mills, Cyrus Thompson and others. D. B. Watson was elected president; T. W. Taylor, vice-president; Jeremiah Cook, treasurer, and T. B. Cobb, secretary. The object was to oppose the navigation company in their designs on the river below Raught's mills.
In January, 1873, there were 13,000,000 feet of lumber piled at the Coon and Tionesta creeks, 5,000,000 of which were produced at Cobb's mills, up Coon creek; 2,250,000 at Root & Gillespie's mills, and the remainder at the mills of Payne, Porter Haskell, Melvin Rogers and Myers. Four miles above Lacy town, where the water mills of Cobb & Sons, built in 1868, stood, George Lacy built a steam mill. The output grew annually until April, 1883, when the Tionesta, Hickory and Cooksburg forests and mills appeared to turn out enough of lumber to supply the two Columbias. Daniel Harrington, who compiled the lumber statistics that year, made the following estimate:
Tionesta.-O. Hall, boards, 400,000; Wheeler & Dusenbury, 1,000,000 boards, 120,000 timber; Eli Berlin, 200,000 boards; Ford & Lacy, 165,000 boards; Jacob Sheasley, 150,000 boards, 26,000 timber; Porter Haskell, 175,000 boards, 100,000 timber; James Bowman, 13,000 timber; Salmon. Creek Lumber Company, 120,000 boards; W. Holebrook, 625,000 boards; Cornwall & Bonner, 1,000,000 boards; Russel & Sons, 2,000,000 boards; Dale & Lawrence, 350,000 boards. 90,000 timber, 60 cords of hemlock bark, and 10,000 barrel staves; Catlin & Osgood, 90,000 timber; Kepler & Foreman, 25,000 timber; William Tobey, 300,000 boards; May & Kelly, 300,000 boards.
Hickory.-John Hunter, 200,000 timber; Watson & Freeman, 80,000 timber; Wheeler & Dusenbury, 100,000 boards, 35,000 timber; H. Brace, 3,000,000 boards, 50,000 timber; Kepler & Foreman, 50,000 timber; Frank Henry, 2,000,000 boards, 75,000 timber.
Cooksburg.-Cook & Sons, 2,000,000 boards, 100,000 timber.
During the year 1887 Wheeler & Dusenbury shipped seventy-two million feet of lumber, collected on their 13,000 acres, through which seven and a half miles of railroad were built by them, to which ten miles were added in 1888. .... Nine shingle-mills existed in Howe and Jenks townships in 1888, producing 180,000 shingles per day ..
The lumber mills of the county, in 1889, are large, important industries. Years ago the pessimist said the hills would soon be bare, and the occupation of woodman and lumberman gone forever; but the following list of mills, with notes on capacity, etc., show no sign of diminution in supply. This list was carefully compiled and published in the Northwestern Lumberman of October 5, 1889:
*Byromtown (P. & W. R. R.), Bauman & Hafele, pine, hemlock, hardwoods, S 2; ~IIMiner, Green & Co., pine, hemlock, hardwoods, S 4 P.
Clarington (shipping station Vowinckle, P. & W.), J. B. Pearsall & Co., hemlock, hardwoods, S. 3 P.; W. D. & S. H. Shields, R.
Cooksburg (Clarion river), A. Cook, two mills, pine, oak, hemlock, S 4, 8h 3; David Heffron, pine, oak, hemlock, 8 2.
East Hickory (shipping station West Hickory, W. N. Y. & P.), R. Chaffey, Sh; Normile & Tobey, hemlock, hardwood, S 3; §William H. 8tright, hemlock, pine, oak, S 3; Wheeler & Dusenbury, two mills, pine, hemlock, hardwood, S 4 P; L. D. Whitcomb, P.
Eulalia (shipping station Sheffield Junction, P. & W., T. V.), Bauman & Hafele, hemlock, hardwoods (mill at Pebble Dell), S 3; J. L. Betts & Co., four mills, Sh; Enterprise Lumber Company, hemlock, S 4 P; Forest County Lumber Company, mills at Sheffield Junction, S 4, Sh 4 P.
Gilfoyle (P. & W.), Curll, Campbell & Co., hemlock, beech, maple, S 3, 8h 3; N. Gilferd, hemlock, hardwoods, 8 2.
Golinza (shipping station Tionesta), G. J. & F. C. Lacy, pine, hemlock, hardwoods, 8 3 8h.
Guitonville (shipping station Tionesta, W. N. Y. & P.), R. J. Wade (J. T. Wade & Bros., owners), pine, hemlock, hardwoods, 8 2 P.
Marienville (P. & W.), Baker, Hammond & Co., pine, hemlock, cherry, hard· woods, 84, 8h 4; Hammond & Messenger, pine, hemlock, hardwoods, 83, 8h 3; §H. H. Hensil, hemlock, maple, 83 P; Charles 8. Leech, hemlock, beech, maple, 83 P; J. H. Morrison, 83 P.
Nebraska (shipping station Tionesta, W. N. Y. & P.), Collins, Darrah & Co., pine, hemlock, oak, 85 P; Collins & Watson, pine, hemlock, oak (mill at Pine Hollow), S 3.
Newtown Mills (shipping station Tionesta, W. N. Y. & P. ), Wheeler, Dusenbury & Co., pine, hemlock, hardwoods, S 3; Whiteman & Baur, pine, hemlock, hardwoods, 82.
Pigeon (shipping station Frosts, P. & W.), Fox & Crain Co., hemlock, hardwoods (saw for S.Crawford & Co.), S 4; W. H. Frost, hemlock, two mills, S 4; liS. Crawford & Co., hemlock, S 4.
Tionesta (W. N. Y. & P.), ~T. Brace & 00., hemlock, oak, 83; §Dingman & Dale, oak, pine, 83; N. 8. Foreman, hemlock, pine, oak, 83; J. M. Kepler, hemlock, pine, oak, S 3; Lawrence & Smearbaugh, oak, pine, hemlock, 8 3; !iG. W. Robinson, pine, hemlock, oak, S 3 P; George F. Watson, pine, oak, hemlock, S 3; Zeigler & Co., hemlock, oak, ties, S 3.
*Letters Indicate kind of business: S, saw-mill; P, p1an1ng-mill or machinery; Sh, shingle-mill; W, wholesale dealer; R, retail dealer. Files, daily capacity in feet: 2,6000 to 10,000; 3,12,000 to 25,000; 4. 30,000 to 50,000; 5,60,000 to 100,000. Band saw-mill; §mill is portable; logging railroad; general store.
West Hickory (W. N. Y. & P.), Orion Siggins, W. R.
Miscellaneous. -While the "Alleghany" was the first boat to ascend the river to Olean, in 1830, it is to the" William D. Duncan," Capt. Crook, that the credit for being the first boat to ascend to Franklin belongs. On Friday, February 22, 1828, the "Duncan" left Pittsburgh for Franklin and Warren, but owing to the low stage of water, ascended no higher than Oil Creek Furnace.
In 1852 a great destruction of lumber took place at the mouth of the Tionesta. Large quantities were rafted, run to the mouth of the creek, and let lie there, without starting any down the river. In consequence the mouth of the stream was so closed up with rafts that a sixteen-foot plank reached from one raft to another across the channel. There came a cold snap, with considerable snow, which soon formed slush ice. The ice formed against the rafts, and there was no vent or outlet for it. It backed up the water of the creek until the cables could hold no longer. Then the lines parted and the whole thing, rafts, slush ice and all, went booming down the Allegheny. One man's raft was seen on top of another man's raft. Of course the under man had to wait for his lumber till the top man got his. Large quantities were broken up and destroyed. The spring floods of April, 1865, cleared the river and streams rapidly, carrying down large bodies of logs and timber. Ice-flow and flood of February 18, 1886, struck the Tionesta within twenty minutes after the rise of the waters was first observed. The ice, which had gorged in the main channel at the head of Dustin Island, half a mile below town, forced the entire body of floating ice through the channel between the head of Dustin and Hunter islands. This great body of water, thus being almost wholly without an outlet, was forced back with great rapidity, some asserting the water rose at the rate of an inch a minute, followed soon by large cakes of ice, which remained piled high over most of the flooded district. Every cellar, and a large majority of the rooms on the first floor of the dwellings standing along the river bank, were flooded, entailing a heavy loss on the owners, who considered themselves fortunate in being rescued by the aid of boats, not seeming to care or having the time to look after household effects, or articles stowed in the cellar. Among the heaviest losers were E. L. Davis, Moses Hepler, John Hart, W. Y. Siggins, Mrs. Dr. Hunter and family, J. H. Dingman, Wm. Guiton, Ed. Sanner, J. R. Chadwick, Isaac Shimp, Mrs. Saul, S. S. Canfield, J. G. Carson. The flood of June 1, 1889, did comparatively little damage at this point.
The county in early years was the favorite resort of all the wild animals of this latitude, and many are the hunting stories told by the pioneers of adventures with panther, bear, wolf and deer, and of them not a few are related in the pioneer chapter. In 1868 Uncle Bill Graves killed the largest buck known to hunters in this county; in December, 1868, Chris. Zuendel killed a wild-cat measuring four feet. An American bald eagle was captured by William Bradish, on Hunter run, in September, 1889. But modern times have changed the homes of the large game; the lumberman, the bark-pealer and the oil man have left them not a refuge, and they have fallen before the hunter or fled to wilder regions, there to roam in comparatively uninterrupted security.
Source: Page(s) 815-827, History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania.
Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed November 2005 by Nathan Zipfel for the Forest County Genealogy Project
Published 2005 by the Forest County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project"
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