Forest County
Chapter XI 

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HARMONY TOWNSHIP is a trans-Allegheny region of plateau and valley. From this western plateau numerous streams run southeast into the Allegheny, of which the principal is West Hickory creek, flowing almost south. The other streams are short runs, flowing from depressions in the western table land. Pithole creek rises in the extreme northwest comer above Neillsburg, and Hickory rises in the north center above Hickory centre. The summits are not so high as those on the east side, the highest point being the hill southwest of Copeland's farm, 1,680 feet, but like the east side, conglomerate and sandstone rock abound, both rocks, between Neillsburg and Fagundus being cemented pebbles of various forms. In the first chapter the history of oil wells in this township is given. Fagundus City became a very prominent business center, and continued so until destroyed by the fire of May, 1874. Forty-five business houses were devoured in two hours, the loss being estimated at from $60,000 to $90,000.

The population of this township in 1880 was 344. In 1888 there were 96 Republican, 66 Democratic and 5 Prohibitionist votes recorded, showing a population of 835.

The officers elected in February, 1890, are named as follows: School director, James Mooney; road commissioner, John A. Dawson; clerk, F. E. Metcalf; treasurer, R. O. Carson; auditor, George L. King; overseer of poor, James McIntyre; constable and collector, E. B. Head; judge, John Thomson; inspectors, James Elliott, C. E. Landers.

Neillsburg is one of the very old settlements of this county. A Presbyterian society was organized here so early as 1855, by Capt. W. T. Neill and others, and here, twenty-three years later, the Grange movement was formed.  Harmony Grange, No. 527, was organized January 19, 1878, with R. B. Woodcock and wife, Sye Neill, J. P. Kelly, M. Woodcock, Mrs. S. S. Pratt, S. S. Pratt, Mrs. Mary and Miss Kate Woodcock, Miss Lou Neill, Mrs. W. Y. Siggins, Mrs. Joseph McCaslin and Spear Kelly, officials.

William McCaslin, a life-long resident of Neillsburg, died at his home in that village on Friday, February 7, 1890, aged fifty-eight years. He was the son of James McCaslin, and was born near the spot where he passed from earth. Joseph Grove, born in Union county, Penn., in 1815, died at West Hickory, in January, 1890.

West Hickory with its standard and narrow gauge railroads, big bridge, large tannery and heavy lumber shipments, is a modern village, although a post-office existed there almost thirty years ago. One family at least of all the pioneers - the Siggins family and others - named in the pioneer chapter settled in the vicinity early in this century.  The postmasters who administered the old office, as nearly in order as the memory of W. P. Siggins can place them, were Isaac Siggins; Hanna, who filled the office during the war, and W. P. Siggins, who resigned in favor of J. A. Turner. In 1889 W. C. Allan succeeded Mr. Turner, who is now filling that position. The fire of February 2, 1870, destroyed the railroad depot at this place.

In 1880 Mason Thatcher opened a store here; about the days of the Civil war J. D. Glenn had a gunsmith's shop here, and in 1867 carried a large stock of guns and revolvers. During this year also the oil fever struck the place, as shown in the history of the Forest oil field, but the stampede was short-lived.  The West Hickory Farm Oil Company fell into disfavor in 1867, by their rough usage of house builders on lands purchased from them. One man was prosecuted for taking windows from a house which he erected there.

In May, 1886, Orion Siggins donated five acres of land for the proposed tannery, and in May of that year the work of building was progressing. The same year Hardenburg &. Allen's large mercantile house was erected, and steps taken to build a Methodist church and parsonage, Mr. Siggins encouraging the enterprise. The Evangelical Church building was dedicated April 17, 1887, M. V. Devaux the pastor.

The enterprise of Wheeler & Dusenbury contributes all to the life of this village. Heavy freight trains on the main line always leave this point with leather or lumber for the markets of the world, while the narrow-gauge locomotive comes across the great wooden bridge, bringing a wealth of new lumber from the firm's mills, or bark from their thousands of forest acres.

Trunkeyville became prominent in October, 1870, when Vandergrift & Foreman's 15,000-barrel tank was erected, and the Nestle & Peterson store building and the Venture Hotel were opened. About ten years ago the post-office was established here, with Mr. Peterson master. He was succeeded over two years ago by Mr. Bloomfield. There is no business house here now.

Hickory Centre is near the head of West Hickory creek, in a most productive valley. Like Neillsburg it is an old settlement.

The post-offices in Harmony township are at present as follows: Perry, Stewart's Run, Trunkeyville and West Hickory.


Hickory township is bounded west by the Allegheny river. Its northern sections are drained by Hickory creek, with its north and south forks - Otter and Beaver creeks and feeder, Prather run. Centre and Sibbald creeks drain its southern valleys, leaving a flat plateau in the center. The elevation of ridge north of N. P. Wheeler's dwelling was found to be 1,645 feet. It is arched with blocks of conglom from forty to fifty feet square, and twenty-five to thirty feet in height. On the weather surface of those huge stone monuments the iron-impregnated lines resist atmospheric extremes. Along the river, near Hickory depot, iron-stained shale is exposed for a depth of twenty-five feet.

The population in 1880 was 831. In 1888 there were 106 Republican, 73 Democratic and 17 Prohibitionist votes cast, or a total of 196, representing a population of 980.

The officers of the township, elected in February, 1890, are as follows: Judge, W. L. Anderson; inspectors, M. W. Gorman, Jonathan Albaugh; treasurer, T. J. Bowman; constable and collector, W. A. Connelly; auditor, Samuel Mervin; clerk, M. E. Abbott; school directors, Wilbur Decker, Joseph Pettigrew.

The oil excitement may be said to date back to 1864; but lumbering has been carried on here since the days of the pioneers. The Wheeler & Dusenbury band mills, built by J. W. Poland and operated by him, and, southward, their gang mills, operated by F. Witherall, are very prominent industries. Near the county line are the mills of Root & Watson. Their lath mill is also at this point. The Strite saw-mill and small concerns are also in this vicinity.

East Hickory, immortalized in Daniel Harrington's prose, is an old and pretty river village.  P. D. Thomas, who died February 7, 1878, came to Forest county in 1863, and in 1864 was manager of the Mercantile Oil Company's business at East Hickory. He also drilled wells there for the National Oil Company.  The work of building the Methodist Church at East Hickory was begun in December, 1868. This building was repaired in 1889, and was re-opened the first Sunday in September, that year, Rev. C. R. Thompson officiating.

East Hickory post-office was presided over in 1884 by T. J. Bowman, who was also general merchant; N. G. Ball carried on the grist-mill; A. Davidson, H. Brace, S. W. Brace, Swalley & Powers, J. W. Poten and Wheeler & Dusenbery operated the saw-mills; Perry Hill had the blacksmith shop; George Siggins, the carpenter shop, and John Nuss, the shoe shop.  The Clark House at East Hickory was destroyed in April, 1888.

In June, 1888, a tract of 437 acres on "Hickory-town Flats" was sold by order of the United States solicitor of the treasury, C. S. Cary. This land was required by the United States in payment of bank debt by deed from Sheriff Gray, of Venango county, in February, 1867.

Joseph Fleming was killed by his colt three miles northeast of East Hickory in December, 1867.  In December, 1875, the body of the hunter, George Albaugh, was found on Queen creek. A part of the face and one shoulder were eaten by some animal, which the finders concluded must have been a panther.  Austin F. Ball, who was murdered at Louisville, Ky., in a "raft shanty," on the night of June 5, 1884, was born at East Hickory, Forest Co., Penn., May 29, 1858. He experienced religion here about 1875, and was in full membership in the Free Methodist Church until May, 1883, when it was alleged that a charge was to be made against him for working on the Sabbath, cooking for ungodly men," while on a raft along the Ohio river. Thinking the offense so trivial, and that it pointed toward persecution, he quietly withdrew his name from the church record.  During the flood of February, 1886, the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad trestle at Hickory was washed away, and the track covered for a considerable distance with ice and driftwood. Transportation was made in wagons for a time; but a large force of men got the road in order so that trains were run as usual within thirty hours. On the west side the water backed up and flooded the flats causing many to leave their homes in a rather precipitate manner.

Source: Page(s) 905-907, 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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