Forest County
Chapter XIII 

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JENKS TOWNSHIP occupies a central position in the eastern half of the county. The west branch of Spring creek, rising in Howe township, flows through the extreme eastern warrants; Millstone creek rises on the ridge northeast of Marienville, and drains the central warrants, while Salmon creek and its feeders are found in the northwest quarter.

At a point 8,000 feet east of Marienville old Pine Ridge coal mine was opened at an elevation of 1,742 feet. At Marienville summit a three-foot bed of U. A. coal was found under 65 feet of sandstone, and M. U. coal at 170 feet, resting on conglomerate. At Walton's, between the Eldridge and Hunt farms, the Upper Alton coal was struck at fourteen feet, and also on the Beaver Dam tract, three and one-quarter miles east by north of Marienville, at an elevation of 1,745 feet. From 1869 to 1872 coal was taken out here for blacksmithing purposes. Prior to 1883, when Col. Hunt's new house was built, coal mines were opened near his old home at an elevation of 1,660 feet. On the Parker farm, near the old school building, 1,690 feet above tide, is the bog-iron-ore tract; near the Salmon creek bridge, in the vicinity of Hunt'sold saw-mill coal also exists at an altitude of 1,492 feet, while near by, at an elevation of 1,617 feet, coal outcrops. Near Marienville, at 1,610 feet, coal was mined in 1873 by Dr. Towler. In the dry hollow, below the village, bog-iron-ore is found. On warrant 3173 coal was mined some years ago. In 1858 Col Hunt's mines in the bed of Millstone creek were opened; near Kinnear's hunting shanty coal was mined in the "seventies." In 1863 Kinnear opened a coal bed on Gilfoyle run at an elevation of 1,780 feet, while near Byrom station David S. Eldridge opened mines in 1859; near Nugent's summit an outcrop was worked in 1875, and near Rose's summit, above the marl swamp, another outcrop was worked that year. The township is full of fine building stone, but there is no record of limestone being found.

In 1880 the population of the whole township was 219. In 1888 there were 137 Republican, 93 Democratic and 15 Prohibitionist votes recorded, or a total of 245, showing the population to be about 1,225.

The officers elected for 1890 are as follows: Justice of the peace, E. Whitling; constable and collector, A. H. Smith; treasurer, C. S. Leech; auditor, A. B. Watson: clerk, J. A. Scott; road commissioner, A. K. Shipe; school directors. L. Burkhart, A. B. Niller; judge, W. Seigworth; inspectors, J. S. Williams, J. E. McClellan. The first assessment roll of Jenks township in possession of Clerk Brennan is that of 1852, by Cyrus Blood, assessor. Among the names of residents given thereon are James Anderson, an alien, and his son, the former owning 544 acres, and the latter a yoke of oxen; Thomas Anderson, Isaac Allen and William Armstrong, lot owners in Marienville; Cyrus Blood, owning 1,973 acres, 1 cow, 2 horses and a gold watch; K. L. Blood, 300 acres; Aaron Brockway, 160 acres, 1 yoke of oxen and 5 cows; U. H. Brockway, 2 cows and 137 acres; Russell Buffum, 210 acres, 2 horses and 4 cows; Ben Buffum, 1 cow; Stephen Buffum, 100 acres, oxen and cow; D. H. Burton, 50 acres; Oran Bennett, oxen and 80 acres; D. Buchanan, 150 acres; D. W. Burke, 100 acres and lot in Marienville; A. D. Beck, a lot in Marienville; also Peter Clover, W. W. Corbet, William Coon, Rufus Dodge, Bennett Dobbs, Dr. J. Dowling and Sam. C. Espy, lot owners in Marienville; James Eldridge, 869 acres, 2 horses, oxen and 3 cows; David Eldridge, 100 acres; Dan. Earl, 1 horse; John Gilfoyle, 100 acres; John D. Hunt, 874 acres, 3 yoke of oxen and 3 cows; C. D. Hart, 186 acres, oxen and cow; J. H. Hershman and Ralph Hill, single men; Isaac Heath, 60 acres; Michael Imhoos, a cow; N. H. Jones, 220 acres and 2 horses; John P. Jones, 480 acres, oxen, horse, cow and silver watch; G. McLaughlin and J. S. :McPherson, lots in Marienville; John Nees (or Nuss), yoke of oxen; Thomas Porter, oxen and cow; Benj. Sweet, tutor, 100 acres; Dan. Stowe, Abram Winsor and John Wynkoop, lots in Marien; William Walton. James Pickman and Thomas Nugent. Urial H. Brockway was appointed collector. The assessed value of seated lands was $9,531, and of unseated lands, $30,128.

In June, 1882 the township .counted 50 votes and 200 inhabitants; in June, 1883, there were 130 voters recorded and 600 inhabitants. Then it had no store, later it had four; then it had three schools, later it had five; then it had three school-houses, later it had four and one building; then it had one train per day, while in June. 1883 it had four trains each way, making connections with the Philadelphia & Erie at Sheffield, Allegheny Valley Railroad at Foxburg, and other great trunk lines running east. In June, 1882, it had only one little hamlet, Marienville; in June, 1883, it had three respectable villages - Marienville, Byrom's and Curll, Campbell & Co.'s Mills. Marienville increased from no stores or hotel, to two stores, one hotel and a restaurant, and from six dwellings to thirty. Byrom's had grown from nothing to a well-regulated village of twenty dwellings. Curll, Campbell & Co.'s Mills, from a forest to a village of fifteen families, and a school pupilage of twenty-three.

Daniel Harrington, speaking of Marienville and the country south of it as it appeared in 1882, says: "The country between Marien and Clarington, a distance of twelve miles, is 'Forest,' sure enough, and always will be. It is scarcely susceptible of cultivation, except small spots, here and there. It is the country for tanneries, for the timber is mostly hemlock, with a sprinkling of ash and cherry, I saw one cherry tree three feet in diameter at the butt, and at least sixty feet without a limb. I don't believe a whippoorwill or a blue-jay ever passed over this twelve-mile stretch of woods, between Marien and the Clarion river, without carrying a knapsack of provisions. But Marien is improving. She now has a pipe line and a line of telegraph."

To Mr. Harrington, also, the writer is indebted for the following sketch of the pioneer of Jenks township: "Cyrus Blood, the founder of Forest county, was born at New Lebanon, N. H., March 3, 1795. In his seventeenth year he went to Boston, Mass., where he remained until he finished his school education, When twenty-two years old he made a visit to his brother, then principal of an academy at Chambersburg, Penn. Soon after that date Cyrus was appointed principal of an academy at Hagerstown, Md. He remained in charge of that institution for several years. His scholastic acquirements were such as to attract attention, and in time he was offered a professorship in Dickinson college, at Carlisle, Penn., and accepted the position. His health, however, was failing, and by the advice of his physician he resigned his professorship, and took a trip through the Middle and Southern States. In his journeying he came to Jefferson county, Penn. Finding that the northern portion of that county was an almost unbroken wilderness, he conceived the idea of establishing a settlement in those wilds, and ultimately forming a new county. For several years he made annual visits to that section, and finally succeeded in purchasing a large tract of land from one of the land companies. It was understood at the time of making the purchase that the company was to open a road to the projected settlement, but in 1833 when Mr. Blood arrived at what is now Corsica, Jefferson county, he found, to his surprise and annoyance, that no road had been made. Leaving his family behind him, he hired men and teams, and, starting from Armstrong's mills, on the Clarion river, he and his men cut their way, step by step, twelve miles, to his wilderness purchase. At night the little party camped out the best they could, and in the morning again pressed onward. On their arrival at the new possessions, a small clearing was made, a house erected, and in October, 1833, the family, consisting of Mr. Blood, his wife and five children, settled down in their new forest home. It is almost impossible to trace, step by step, the trials and difficulties of the new settlers. They had been accustomed to all the comforts of town life. But energy and enterprise were characteristics of our pioneer, and he and his family struggled bravely to overcome present obstacles, in hope of success. In the same year Mr. Blood was joined in his undertaking by Col. John D. Hunt, from that time to the present the history of old Forest, as well as the successes and failures of our pioneer are cotemporaneous with the history, successes and failures of Col. Hunt. The joys and the sorrows, the hard trials and reverses of Cyrus Blood, were the joys and sorrows, the trials and reverses of John D. Hunt. The histories of the two men are the same and inseparable.

"The new settlement was known far and near as Blood's Settlement. For many years Mr. Blood was the only mail carrier. With every pocket loaded with letters and papers he would start from Brookville for home through the dark woods. Wolves, bears and panthers were plentiful in those days, and often was he followed on his solitary way by those wild denizens of the forest. On one occasion, in the night, he poked with his cane what he supposed was a cow lying in his path, but which proved to be a big bear. Mr. Blood took one side of the path, and the bear the other. Much to the gratification of the former, the bear was not traveling in his direction. At another time some of the children ran into the house, saying that some dogs were playing in the garden. Mr. Blood quickly took his gun down from the hooks, and went out just in time to see several panthers jumping over the fence. With all his narrow escapes and surprises he never shot a wild beast. His thoughts and aims led him away from any approach to a hunter's life. The new settlement struggled on, year after year. Going to mill in those days was a trip to the lower part of Clarion county, and sometimes to Kittanning. In due time the new county scheme was perfected, and the seat of justice fixed at Blood's Settlement, thereafter to be known as Marien, in honor of Mr. Blood's eldest daughter, now Mrs. John D. Hunt. A frame court-house, of rather large dimensions, was erected. Hon. John S. McCalmont, of Venango county, held the first court, with Mr. Blood as one of the associate judges. Judge Blood died before his term of office expired, on January 12, 1860, in the sixty-fourth year of his age.

Shortly after the beginnings of Blood's Settlement were made, the pioneers, named in the pioneer chapter, flocked in, but with all their efforts the whole township had but 219 inhabitants in 1880.

In November, 1889, Messrs. Galbraith, Mason and Hooton, United States revenue officials visited Jenks township on a hunting expedition. On the headwaters of Bear creek they discovered a moonshine distillery, which they confiscated, and having made one or two arrests, returned home.

Dr. S. S. Towler drilled a well on the Hunt farm in 1881 to a depth of about 2,000 feet. At a depth of 900 feet a gas vein was struck, and since        that time Marienville has had a full supply of gas.  The Kahle Bros.' well was drilled in 1887 to a depth of about 850 feet.  The rate to consumers is $2 in winter and $1 in summer per store per month, and 15 cents for lights.

Oak City, on the road from the mouth of Bear creek to Marienville, came into existence after the discovery of oil. In January, 1883, the village had its water-works and gas system. This gas was obtained from Cornwell's well of the year before.  Shoup's mill, on the head of· Salmon creek, was built in November, 1879   The Phillis & Neill saw-mills, below Gilfoyle were built in 1888. The capacity is about 15,000 feet per day, giving employment to ten men. The firm own 300 acres of hemlock around the mills, on which there are ten or twelve men employed generally.


Marienville (or Marionville, according to the postal guide) dates back to October, 1833, when Cyrus Blood and family made their settlement there. Determined efforts were made to build up the place, but these failing the owner and residents resolved to establish a new county with this place as the county seat. To this end Mr. Blood interested James L. Gillis and others, and as stated in the chapter devoted to the transactions of the county commissioners, Forest county was established by a joint resolution of the house and senate. The business appears to have been done in a peculiar way, for in the printed records of the assembly of 1848-49 and 1850 there is no mention made of the resolution, nor does there appear to be much done toward organization until 1851, when supplementary acts were passed countenancing this strange resolution, and in 1856 the new county was thoroughly detached from Jefferson.

The addition to the town of Marienville by Bennett and Nancy Dobbs was made in February, 1857. This comprised 160 acres on the southeast corner of tract 3169, warranted to Herman Leroy and Jan Linklain, later the property of G. W. Lathy. The lots were 55x165 feet, and the streets sixty feet wide.

From this period until 1866 the village showed some signs of life, but the addition of five townships made that year brought forth a new peril for the little county seat, and ultimately robbed it of the county offices. From this period up to the fall of 1882 there was little here. The oil excitement of that year, and the energy of the people tended to improve the place, and by June, 1883, the hamlet had grown into a thriving village.

In 1884 A. J. Sigworth was postmaster, and Kahle & Sigworth, general merchants. Henry, Bayard & Co., Williams & Mahoney, Shipe, Mensch & Co., F. M. Rech & Co. and Rider & Co. were operating saw-mills; Whitney Brothers carried on the Hub Factory; J. B. Watson & Son, the hotel; John D. Hunt, now C. F. Hunt, was merchant; T. J. Reiner was grocer; S. S. Towler was physician; M. C. Caringer kept the restaurant; Hines & Son carried on the meat market. In October, 1885, J. B. Watson was appointed postmaster.

The editor of the Brockwayville Record visited the town in February, 1886, and thus describes it: "This town was formerly the county seat of Forest county, but the seat has been removed to Tionesta. The ground on which this town was built was land first bought and improved by Cyrus Blood, more than fifty years ago. The Pittsburgh & Western Railroad runs through the town, and has been the means of building it up considerably in the last two or three years. The town is rather pleasantly situated. The main business here appears to be the shipping of lumber of various kinds. There are several men here from Buffalo whose business alone is to measure and sort hardwood. There appears to be a large supply of a superior quality. When I came here I didn't expect to see any person I knew. I was very agreeably disappointed; Hon. J. B. Watson, the proprietor of the Watson House, is a man I have known for a number of years. He is an ex-prothonotary of Clarion county. He keeps a good house; is a friend of temperance and everything good. James Morrison, an old neighbor, has a contract of sawing and delivering a lot of lumber to the railroad; Henry Bullers and wife are keeping a millinery store and hotel; Mr. Flick, formerly of Brockwayville, started a barber shop here a few days ago. A great many of the residents here are burning natural gas from a well near the town, and yet gas is not always to be depended upon. Yesterday about noon as we were sitting around the stoves, and cooks were in the middle of dinner cooking, suddenly the fires ceased to burn, and dinner was delayed about one hour. Certainly it was not pleasant with the mercury below zero. While I was sitting, looking out of the window, a poor man was dragging out one of his horses, frozen stiff enough, apparently, to send to Europe as a refrigerator. Truly it is a county of forest. From Clarington to this point is almost a dense forest. A great deal of the pine timber was cut off along the road years ago. S. S. Towler, formerly of Reynoldsville, is physician, and Rev. J. Weldon, of Troy, is the minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. There are two church buildings in the town - a small Methodist Episcopal Church building and the Presbyterians have a right nice little church building nearly completed. Rev. J. Hickling is the only Presbyterian minister in the county. He lives in Tionesta, and preaches there, at Tylersburg and at Scotch Hill."

The first death in the settlement was that of an old German lady in 1843 or 1844, followed by that of Josiah Leary. The former was buried just east of the Blood homestead, and the latter in the same field.

The first school was held in Mr. Blood's house, Miss Marien Blood being teacher. The next school was at Kiefer's, near the head of the springs, Col. Hunt being among the first teachers.

Mr. McMichael was the first Presbyterian preacher here, but prior to this a physician and preacher, Dr. Otis Smith, of the United Brethren Society, preached in Mr. Blood's house in 1843. He is said to be the hero of eleven marriages. He gave out the first hymn sung in the old county: "Go preach my gospel, said the Lord."

The Lutheran society was formed at Marienville, in 1850, by Mr. Fair. It continued in existence until after the war.  Methodism was introduced by Mr. Hull shortly after that of Presbyterianism.

Saumel Barr, the old stage driver, who died about four years ago at Brookville, was the first Baptist preacher, some time in the "fifties." The Methodist Episcopal circuit of Marienville, was detached from Clarington in 1888, and Rev. J. M. Edwards was appointed pastor. Among the old members are Jacob Mercilliott and wife, John Dodge and wife, and N. K. Burton and wife. In the winter of 1883-84 a great revival meeting won many converts, and the modern church entered upon an era of progress. In 1884 the present church was erected at a cost of about $900. Mr. Hames was class-leader from 1883 to 1888, when Peter English was chosen. There are about fifty members, many of whom were received by Mr. Farout, the present pastor.  The old Lutheran society of Marienville disbanded years ago.

The first Presbyterian Church of Marienville was organized on May 29, 1883, composed of the following persons: S. S. Towler, M. D., Mrs. M. C. Watson, Miss H. K. Watson, Mrs. C. L. Rohrer, Hon. John D. Hunt, Mrs. M. F. Hunt, Mrs. B. L. Hunt, Miss E. L. Rose, Mrs. Margaret Walton and Mrs. Clara B. Towler. Soon after a number more were added. and J. H. Mensch, Esq., and Dr. Towler were elected elders. On May 17, 1886, the church was incorporated, the following persons qualifying as trustees:

Charles S. Leech, C. W. Amsler, S. F. Rohrer, John D. Hunt, H. H. McClellan and Dr. S. S. Towler. In June, 1886, the church building was completed at a cost of $2,050, and opened for public service on July 4, 1886, and dedicated July 17, 1886, Rev. B. F. Williams officiating. The building is a very neat frame 35x55 feet, with annex 8x20, and vestibule 10xl0. It is finished largely in natural wood, with arched ceiling. The house is heated by natural gas. In January, 1888, the pulpit was filled by supplies, but since that time Rev. H. F. Easseman has been pastor. The present membership is forty-three, including elders, J. H. Mensch and S. S. Towler. The trustees are S. S. Towler, president; Charles S. Leech, secretary; C. W. Amsler, treasurer; H. H. McClellan, C. F. Hunt and John H. Mensch. The only changes in the corporate body are C. F. Hunt vice John H. Hunt, deceased, and John H. Mensch vice S. F. Rohrer, deceased.

Jenks Lodge, No. 250, I. O. O. F., Marienville, was instituted under charter May 13, 1885, with the following named members: J. F. Gaul, P. G.; H. H. McClellan, P. G. ; A. K. Shipe, P. G. ; J. W. Cole, W. H. Sigworth, T. J. Reyner, E. A. Yetter, C. W. Amsler, H. Bullers, F. P. Walker, F. M. Rech and C. S. Leech. H. R McClellan was the :first noble grand of the lodge, followed by W. H. Sigworth, J. W. Cole, T. J. Reyner, E. A. Yetter, O. C. Christy, H. H. McClellan, O. C. Christy and P. H. Dean, who is the present presiding officer. John F. Gaul was first secretary, followed by T. J. Reyner in 1888. In 1889 E. A. Yetter, the present secretary, was elected. There are now (March, 1890) forty-two members. The hall was destroyed by fire January 1, 1890. Quarters were found in the new Leech building. A second building was erected by Mr. Leech to be used by all the lodges.

Equitable Aid Union, No. 411, was organized in June, 1884, by G. W.

Brown and J. B. Watson, with forty-eight charter members, including the following named officers: Chancellor, J. B. Watson; advocate, A. J. McCray; president. Dr. S. S. Towler; vice-president, Miss Lizzie Watson; auxiliary, Mrs. A. H. Palmer; secretary, Miss G. M. McClellan; treasurer, D. E. White; accountant, T. J. Reyner; chaplain, A. K. Sipe; warden, Henry Kime; sentinel, Mrs. D. E. White; watchman, A. Wisner; conductor, O. C. Christy; assistant commander, Katie Harner; examining physician, Dr. S. S. Towler; trustee, M. Mandeville; representative to Grand Union, Dr. S. S. Towler.

The W. C. T. U., of Marienville, was organized May 10, 1886, with the following named members: Malvina Lowman, Kittie Leech, Edith Gaul, Emeline Salida, Marien Hunt, Clarine F. Rohrer, Margaret Watson, Bella L. Hunt, Eliza Mercilliott, Louisa Dodge, Ella Leech, Mary Rohrer, May Bullers, Rose Scott, Kittie Watson, Margaret Walton, Jennie Yetter, Nina Salida, Mrs. Edwards and Clara B. Towler. The presidents, Mrs. E. Gaul and Kizzie Watson, on whose death in May, 1889, Miss Nina Salida was elected.

Marienville Council, No. 14, O. U. A. M., was instituted under charter, May 14, 1889. The applicants for the charter are the following named members: J. A. Frampton, J. R. Barr, S. M. Neely, S. P. Leech, J. Mercilliot, P. C. Neely, W. F. Adams, G. W. Smith, M. Lubold, E. E. Carbaugh, J. B. Story, Isaac Watterson, H. A. Pierce, H. K. Shipe, A. J. Kunselman, H. A. Shipe, C. M. Jones, S. C. Rankin, E. M. Clarke, W. H. Eisenhuth, Clinn. McConn, W. C. Brown, D. L. Frampton, T. W. English, A. G. Leech, H. Stakley, S. M. Henry, John McAfee and E. E. Burton. J. R. Barr was first councillor; and T. W. English, secretary. There are forty-seven members.

Washington Camp, No. 140, P. O. S. of A., was organized by W. F. Adams, P. P., June 24,1887, with twenty-six members, among whom were: W. Francis Adams, Jacob Mercilliott, Jr., J. R. Flick, J. B. Flick, J. E. McClellan, J: A. Frampton, A. C. Frampton, Peter M. Walton, John T. Watson, Frank L. Yetter, T. J. Reyner, P. H. Dean, George G. Cressy, R. S. Y. Cressy, S. M. Neely, Carl Bullers, W. J. Austin, Frank Dodge, J. M. Dodge and W. H. Taylor. J. A. Frampton, J. E. McClellan, W. H. Taylor, H. A. Shipe served as presidents; J. E. Leech is now president and J. E. McClellan is secretary.

Marienville cornet band was organized in May, 1889, with W. F. Adams, president; A. C. Frampton, secretary; T. R. Reyner, treasurer; W. P. Smullen, leader; with Messrs. Nevison, J. A. Frampton, J. Mercilliott, J. T. Watson, D. L. Frampton, T. D. :Mohney, Roland Rech, J. E. McClellan, L. Bevier and David Greybill.

In January, 1889, Rev. Mr. Elder's mother was burned during the destruction of his house at Marienville. This was the first serious natural gas fire in this county.

The fire of January 1, 1890, originated in Harp's barber shop, and before the general alarm could be sounded the building was almost entirely enveloped in flames, spreading rapidly until the shoe-shop of Justice E. Whitling, and the drug store of Dr. Stonecipher, adjoining, were past saving. The next building to catch fire was the fine large hotel of J. B. Watson, which was totally destroyed. Next came the large new mercantile building of T. J. Reyner, full of goods; also a large warehouse belonging to him, which were both consumed. The fire stopped here, having no more fuel to feed upon, but the destruction and loss was surely great enough for one town like Marienville. The losses, as nearly as could be ascertained, are as follows: T. J. Reyner, loss on buildings and goods, $5,000; insured for $2,700. J. B. Watson, loss of hotel and furniture, $3,000; no insurance. Dr. Stonecipher saved most of his goods; loss not estimated. E. Whitling's loss was total; not estimated. H. H. Harp's loss was also total. The Odd Fellows had their lodge room over Reyner's store, and lost most of their furniture, etc amounting to about $400; covered by insurance. Four other secret orders occupied the same room, and lost all they had. They were the Equitable Aid Union, Patriotic Order Sons of America, American Mechanics, and the Sons of Temperance.

The hub factory, part of which was destroyed by fire some years ago, gave employment to fourteen men in 1883, and produced 4,000 hubs per week. The drying-houses still stand near the depot.  The C. S. Leech mill was erected in 1887. The capacity of the saw-mill is about 14,000 feet per day, and of the planing-mill about the same. The industry gives employment to eight men.  Within a radius of five miles of Marienville are the saw-mills of J. H. Morrison; Baker, Hammond & Co.; Hammond & Messenger; S. L. Clough & Co.; Buckeye Lumber Company; Curll, Campbell & Co.; N. Guilford, Curll & Campbell, Phillis & Neill, W. H. Frost; J. M. Edwards, Maple Creek Lumber Company, and C. S. Leech. The shingle-mills are owned by David Drury, Blanchard & Rogers, M. E. Graybill and F. L. White.

Source: Page(s) 911-918, 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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