TRANSACTIONS OF THE COMMISSIONERS
SURVEY OF THE LANDS OF THE HOLLAND COMPANY AND SOME OF THE PATENTEES - ESTABLISHMENT OF FOREST COUNTY AND ITS BOUNDARIES - COMMISSIONERS - ACTS OF 1851 AND 1866 - FIRST COURT-HOUSE - TOWN OF MARIENVILLE - PETITION FOR THE BUILDING OF A NEW COURT-HOUSE - READJUSTMENT OF TOWNSHIP LINES IN 1867 - LAYING OF THE CORNERSTONE OF THE NEW COURT-HOUSE, 1868.
IN April, 1794, the lands located by the Holland Company were surveyed into 1,000 acre lots. Gen. Harmer, George Meade, Jonathan Mifflin, Pierce Butler and others were among the patentees. At this time Forest county formed part of Northumberland county; next was attached to the new county of Lycoming; later (1800) it formed a part of Venango, and in 1804, of Jefferson.
The joint resolution, approved April 11, 1848, establishing Forest county, detached the territory, within the following described boundaries, from Jefferson county: From termination of a straight line running west on the south side of Elk county; thence due west to intersection of north and south line on west side of Jefferson county; thence along Jefferson county line to its termination; thence east along the line of that county to the line of Elk county, and along the line of Elk county to the place of beginning, or Barnett, Jenks and Howe townships. The commissioners to locate such lines, as well as the county seat, were Joseph Y. James, of Warren county; ·W. P. Wilcox, of Elk county, and Hiram Payne, of McKean county, who were ordered to report to the commissioners of Jefferson county, to which Forest was to remain attached for judicial and county purposes until organized, and township elections were to be held without reference to county lines until that period. The act approved April 15, 1851, placed the new county in the Eighteenth Judicial District, when organized. In April, 1850, an act of the legislature fixed the southern boundary of Forest county at the north bank of the Clarion river, from a point where the east line of Clarion county crosses that river to the west line of Elk county.
By an act approved April 3, 1851, an election of three commissioners, three auditors and one treasurer was authorized, Cyrus Blood., Edward Shippen and Charles J. Fox being appointed commissioners, and John D. Hunt, treasurer, to serve until the election of their successors. As related in other pages, the above named and others served the little county of 200 square miles until 1856, when a thorough organization was attained, the small frame, two-story building at Marienville being the court-house.
In 1866, and under the act of October 31, five townships were detached from Venango, and Jacob Zeigler (of Butler), James A. Leach (of Mercer) and Cornelius Fulkerson ( of Venango) were named county seat commissioners. They placed the county seat at Tionesta. The townships of Tionesta, Kingsley, Green, Hickory and Harmony were added under this act, thus increasing the area to 445 square miles. A part, at least, of Tionesta township was in Allegheny county up to June, 1825; Hickory was established in 1848; Harmony detached from it in 1852; Green was formed from parts of Tionesta and Hickory in February, 1872; Barnett was formed in January, 1854; Howe formed under the name Tionesta in 1852, changed to Howe in 1869, and Jenks township was established in January, 1852. In December, 1858, John Lisle and Bennett Dobbs entered into an agreement with the commissioners to donate twelve lots in the town of Marienville, and expend $6,000 in erecting a court-house thereon, and also to donate 208 lots in Dobbs' addition. On March 29, 1859, Dobbs and Lisle made the deeds in accordance with this agreement. These proceedings led the way to law suits, which ended in the loss of building and lots to the old county, as shown in the following abstract of documents pertaining to this time.
The oldest record of transactions of commissioners in possession of County Clerk J. T. Brennan, is dated Marienville, April 11, 1859. In May of that year Aaron B. Root, with William Patterson and A. Dewoodey were appointed assessors of Tionesta township, John Conrad being then clerk. During the fall and winter, then passed, Bennett Dobbs urged the commissioners to contract with him for building a court-house. They at first refused, but on January 4, 1859, a petition signed by eighty citizens was presented, urging them to accept Dobbs' offer, which petition changed their purpose in the matter. The signers of this document were W. R. Coon, E. C. Mayo, William Titus, S. Kinkead, C. Baker, James D. Flick, W. Bish, Sam. Johnston, J. W. Mays, J. G. Brandon, G. H. Reynolds, William Reynolds, F. O. Updike, George Agnew, S. H. Horton, A. Campbell, J. Richard, W. J. Myers, M. E. Porter, T. E. Henry, W. A. Baker, A. Coventry, S. S. Bish, George Mays, D. L. Swartz, J. A. H. Grant, J. Saxton, H. Wing, J. Neese, Eli Smith, R. Wallace, J. W. Hellsill, C. Martin, R. Black, Peter Nugent, J. J. Reynolds, James Whitelock, J. Ferry, D. Wingard, G. Little, Sam. Hutcheson, William Cook, H. F. S. Shotts, J. Wagoner, J. Y. Dobbs, Jonathan Hays, J. Painter, W. H. Brockway, Thomas O'Donnell, Steve Buffum, J. Mercelliott, J. Boyd, D. Altman, J. F. Black, James Irwin, J. M. Irwin, Levi Shauer, W. H. Lockhart, J. Dodge, J. A. Steele, E. Wing, F. Kennedy, S. Wagoner, R. W. Stockten, John Dobson, Sam. Beer, John Beer, Abram Wiles, J. Harshman, Patrick O'Donnell, George Painter, J. P. Hays, T. B. Little, Eph. Lyon, A. Black, C. Kuhns, Jacob Zints, E. Cook and John Fitzgerald. An opinion by L. D. Rogers showed Dobbs' addition to Marienville was as much a part of the town as the original plat, and that the agreement between the Bloods and the commissioners of July 15, 1857, was of no binding value. Other opinions followed, and so closely were the commissioners pressed that the court in May, 1860, enjoined them from observing the contract of 1858. In September, 1860, however, an agreement was made with C. M. Robinson to complete the court-house at Marienville for $190. This was simply to repair the little old court-house.
S. F. Rohrer succeeded Conrad in 1859 as commissioners' clerk. In July, 1861, the commissioners and associate judges met at Clarion as a board of relief for families of soldiers; but only three families were granted relief during the month. In September the rate of aid was made, being seventy-five cents per week for wife, thirty-three cents for each child under seven years, and :fifty cents for each child between seven and fourteen. In March, 1864, John F. Gaul was appointed agent to ascertain the number of Forest county men in the army. In November, 1867, J. B. Mechling was appointed commissioner's clerk and counsel, and in January, 1870, M. W. Tate succeeded him. On the latter's resignation being accepted in August, 1870, D. W. Clark was appointed and served until January 12, 1876, when J. T. Brennan, the present clerk of the county, was appointed. In October, 1875, the commissioners voted their thanks to the State Historical Society for the engraving, representing Zeisberger among the Indians of Forest county in 1767.
The passage of the act of 1866 is largely due to the brothers Dale, who used every legitimate means to urge the extension of the county. The proposition to extend the boundaries westward was unfavorably received by many residents of the old county of Forest, and opposed by their friends in the legislature with such force as to defeat the bill. Friends of the measure placed the desperate case before the Dales, and they, proceeding to Harrisburg, with a well-tilled pocket-book, had the bill reconsidered, when it was rushed through the house and senate. In February, 1867, S. D. Irwin, George S. Hunter, and Jacob I. Range were appointed a committee by the district court to readjust the township lines in accordance with this act. In March a bill for the repeal of the enlarging act was defeated, and the question of the legality of fixing Tionesta as the seat of justice was taken to the supreme court, where it met the fate of the repeal bill.
In April, 1867, the temporary county office was completed by Co1. Thomas, and opened by Prothonotary Mercelliott April 25. This building stood on the east bank of the river below the bridge. The court-house contract was sold to Thomas F. Simmons in November, 1867, and the location graded, but the work of erecting this first brick building in Forest county was not begun until the spring of 1868, and on June 20, the Forest Press advertised the ceremony of placing the corner-stone as follows:
JULY 4th 1868
LAYING OF THE CORNER STONE
NEW COURT HOUSE!
The Corner Stone of the New Court House will be laid with Masonic and Odd Fellows' Ceremonies. Eminent and able Speakers have been invited, and will be here. The citizens of the county, and elsewhere, are respectfully invited to attend. By order of Commissioners of Forest County.
T. B. MAZE,
J. F. GAUL, Com'rs.
A. B. ROOT,
P. D. Thomas, John A. Dale, J. B. Agnew, T. F. Simmons, Rev. E. D. McCreary, S. S. Hulings, J. Winans, J. A. Proper, S. H. Haslet, S. D. Irwin, J. R. Thomas, W. B. Harlan, J. B. Mechling, W. E. Lathy, D. Black, G. W. Popp, J. W. H. Reisinger, P. O. Conver, D. S. Knox, George S. Hunter, L. H. Davis, A. H. Steele, J. G. Dale, John Reck, William Lawrence, John Shriver, George Sawyer, William Hood.
Source: Page(s) 859-861, 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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