HISTORY OF WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP
This township is situated in the northwest corner of Clarion county. It was formed in the year 1843 from ten warrants of Pine Grove, two of Elk and ten of Farmington townships; afterwards, in 1854, three warrants were taken off when Knox township was formed.
The first settlers were Christian Henlen, George Kapp, and John Siegwarth, in 1815, in the part that was then Pine Grove township. Christian Henlen was born in the northern part of France, September 8, 1787, and when about eighteen years of age emigrated to Lancaster county, Pa George Kapp was born in Lancaster county in 1784 John Siegwarth was born in Germany in 1787, and in early age emigrated with his parents to Lancaster county, Pa.
These three parties, with their wives and families, started from Lancaster county for the wilds of the western part of the State They came by Harrisburg, Indiana, and the State road from Brookville, stopping the last night at Alex McNaughton’s (Highland Alex), now Helen Furnace.
Mr. Henlen bought a yoke of oxen and two cows, and Mr. Kapp two cows from Mr. McNaughton, and the two oldest children in each of the two families were selected to drive the stock to their destination. Each of the families had a covered wagon. They first encamped within a few rods of where now stands the residence of Seward E. Henlen, a grandson of Christian Henlen, having been four weeks on the way. One year before the War of 1812, the three first settlers had been on the spot and selected their land, so that on coming with their families they immediately went to work. And here I would remark that they would have come sooner but they were drafted into the service from Lancaster county and served through the war. They lived in their wagons while they built log houses. Kapp’s house was built first. All the tools they brought with them were axes, hand-saws, and a few augers. They made wooden plows and wooden tooth harrows.
Their first years were the same as are common to most pioneers, but as their land became cleared they prospered. Most of their land was well timbered, as were the lowlands generally; the hills and ridges, however, were covered with low brush, being burnt over annually by the Indians to make open woods for hunting. Near to where they camped was what was called Hicks’s cabin, built for an hospital for sick and disabled soldiers in the War of 1812. This shanty and about a dozen others within a mile or so on Hemlock Creek were occupied by Indian hunters of the Cornplanter tribe every winter for several years afterwards. The Indians being friendly while kept in good humor were a source of great amusement to the new settlers, as they would often get on a "drunk," go through their war dance, and dangerous looking exercises with knives and tomahawks, but would always have one sober Indian in all of their sprees. They took away large quantities of game, Henlen hauling it to the Allegheny River for them, then they would canoe it up the river. The squaws did all the trading with the white settlers. They would have their papooses strapped on a board hung on their back, and would set them down outside until asked to bring them in, They would have venison, or other game, and sometimes wreaths and other trinkets to trade for potatoes, garden truck, or bread.
The Indians would come every fall, fifteen to thirty in number, and remain all winter. They had another, camp on Step Creek, in the eastern part of Washington township, which was their last place of resort. Finally they quit coming when the township became more settled.
This colony of settlers brought with them from Lancaster county three good dogs, guns, and ammunition, and being good marksmen, they supplied their tables with plenty of meat, as deer, wild turkeys, and game of all kinds were plenty. The streams also abounded with fish, which made up for other provisions that were difficult to obtain.
Some five miles distant from the location of ‘the first settlers on the west, was a large strip of low, marshy land, free from brush, extending two miles in a north and south line, and one-fourth of a mile wide, where the first settlers mowed grass to winter their stock for several years, until they had their land in condition to raise hay on their own farms. This land was called the Glades or Big Meadows. It was a source of great benefit to the early settlers, who would each have their certain place to cut as much as they wanted, and nothing to pay for the privilege.
The Glades were badly infested with snakes, and when loading hay on the wagons, sometimes the snappers would be forked up with the hay; however, they rarely suffered any injury from the snakes.
Christian Henlen raised a family of seven children - four boys and three girls. The only one of the sons that made his permanent residence in the township was John Henlen, the third oldest. In his father’s declining years he purchased the homestead, also owning a large adjoining farm, and by industry and economy succeeded it laying up a competence, besides improving and leaving the two farms in good condition. Christian Henlen died January 25, 1852. Margaret Henlen, his wife, died April 22, 1854. John Henlen, their son, died July 8, 1884, being sixty-eight years old at the time of his death.
In George Kapp’s family there were eight children - four when they arrived, and four born to them afterwards. The boys were great hunters, and by their industry became well-to-do farmers, and useful members of the community; George Kapp in his time, and most of his descendants, being very skillful in the treatment of diseases of human beings, horses, and cattle. In those times bleeding was considered the principal remedy for all the ills that flesh was heir to, and the generosity of George Kapp will be shown further on in this sketch by the number of his country people whom he sheltered and befriended on their arrival in. this wild country. George Kapp died in the year 1836, being then fifty-two years of age.
John Siegwarth’s family consisted of himself and wife and nine children; one son and four daughters when he moved here, and three Sons and one daughter born to them afterwards. None, of the family occupy the old homestead, they having gone into business, or owned farms of their own during the life-time of Mr. Siegwarth. There are several of his descendants in the township, and in good circumstances. The first birth in the township was Rosana, daughter of John Siegwarth, in 1817. The first wedding in the community was Henry Imhoof to Sarah daughter of George Kapp, in 1828. Among the obstacles those settlers had to contend with was the difficulty in raising wheat at first, and in getting wheat or corn ground. They had to go twelve miles to mill, and sometimes could not get anything ground when they would go; sometimes they would grind some corn in a coffee-mill, and some would hollow out a stump of a tree, and pound the corn with a stone.
In 1824. Christian Henlen got a still started for the manufacture of whisky which was an indispensable commodity with the early settlers. In a few year there were four small distilleries started within a radius of two miles. In 1823 Christian Henlen’s house burned with all its contents, but in one week he was living in a new house. The pioneers from Clarion township came to the raising.
David Reyner was agent for lands and lived in Kapp’s settlement, near Hicks’s cabin. He came soon after the Kapps, and subsequently moved to Tylersburg. Two of his children were buried about where the Henlen schoolhouse now stands.
About a year after Henlens, Samuel Zink came from Lancaster county, via Brookville and Clarion; crossed the Clarion River at Bullock’s fording, thence by Berlin’s on old, turnpike and John Zeller’s across the country to State Road, at Kapp’s settlement, then called Hicks’s Cabin, which was occupied by Indians, there being a couple of squaws and some children there at the time. Kapps, Henlens, and Siegwarths were then living there. The Indians told him the nearest neighbors from the settlement were on the east McNaughtons, and on the west, Franklins. Mr. Zink then went to Franklin’s, but stayed only a short time, returned and traded a set of blacksmith tools to David Reyner for fifty acres of land. Mr. Zink then did the blacksmith, work for the neighborhood. He had served in the war of 1812, and also held a commission as militia captain under Governor Snyder. He served three years as county commissioner, and died at the age of eighty-nine years; had three children when he came from Lancaster county, and eight more were born to him here.
Adam Yale came about 1820, and settled near where Clinton furnace afterward stood. He built chimneys around through the neighborhood. He had seven sons and two daughters. His boys were noted hunters, and they generally kept seven guns and an equal number of dogs. They moved away about the time the furnaces started up. Mr. Henry Zink, son of Samuel, went to Yale’s once, and found the old man beating his horse with a large club. The horse had bitten apiece out of his shoulder.
The first school-house was built in 1821. Mr. Steelsmith taught German and English. Rev. Koch first preached in Kapp’s barn, and afterwards in the school-house. Later Rev. Kile came and preached once in two months.
Frederick Rickenbrode, his wife, two sons - Jacob and John - and three daughters came from Lancaster county in 1820, and bought a farm adjoining lands of all three of the first settlers, and although his land had been rejected from the first settlers’ purchase, it proved to be the most valuable, having an abundance of iron ore and limestone. They soon got to be well-to-do farmers.
Jacob Lilligh started from Lancaster county with Frederick Rickenbrode, but came through Westmoreland county, rented a farm and sojourned there two years, and arrived at Kapp’s in 1822 in a covered wagon, afterwards going through some hard times, on one occasion not having much of anything to eat except lettuce for four weeks. They stayed two weeks at Kapps, until they built a log house on their farm adjoining Frederick Rickenbrode’s. Their farm also turned out to be valuable, abounding in minerals which were utilized by furnaces which started later on.
Jacob Eisenman, a native of Baden, Germany, arrived in 1820. They took a wagon from home, and when they landed in New York they bought a horse and drove through to Harrisburg, and stopped there a while with a friend. Mrs. Frances Ditz, formerly Eisenman, says that she, in company with a little girl of the party they were stopping with, went to the State capitol building, which was then being erected, and picked shavings. They were told that there was good land along the State road, where Washington township now is. They then decided to go out. After being on the way a few days, Mrs. Ditz says her mother, herself, and another sister started ahead of the wagon, thinking to find a house to stop at. Towards evening, not finding any habitation, they went back, but failed to get to the wagon before dark, so they sat on a log during the night. Occasionally they would fall asleep and roll off the log. They yelled repeatedly, and a couple of men encamped on a neighboring hill heard them and started to hunt them up, but thinking it might be a panther, returned to their camp. In the, morning the rest of the party arrived, they having encamped at a forks of the road, some distance back, fearing they might take the wrong road. After a tedious and wearisome journey, they arrived at George Kapp’s, and stayed there two weeks until they erected a house on a piece of land which they bought from Huidekooper. In 1822 they built a barn which still remains, and is the only building erected by the first settlers that is left standing. It is now the James Eisenman barn. The Eisenman family, like the rest of the first settlers, suffered many privations. They had but one pair of shoes among them, which were worn by any of them going from home. Jacob Eisenman died in 1862 at the age of eighty-four years. Frances, now the widow of Ferdinand Ditz, is seventy-nine years of age, being the oldest of the first settlers living.
Henry Mahle, with his family, arrived in 1824 from the eastern part of the State of Pennsylvania, having come from Germany a few years previous. He bought a farm about one half a mile east of where Fryburg now is, which still remains in the Mahle family.
John Ditz and family arrived in 1825 from Fryburg, Germany. They brought a wagon from home, arrived in New York, hired their wagon and goods hauled to Philadelphia, where they bought a horse to haul them, and then went to Ohio with some emigrants who had relatives there, after which they came to Kapp Settlement. The family consisted of John Ditz and wife, four sons and, two daughters. One of the girls died in 1826, being the first death among the early settlers and the first corpse buried in the Catholic burying-ground in Fryburg. After arriving and resting from the fatigue of the journey hither, the Ditz family packed up to leave, and after starting on the road about seven miles, their wagon broke down, so they returned and located permanently. They bought a farm, went to work, and became prosperous farmers. Two other sons were born to them in their new home, viz., John and Frank. John Ditz, Sr., died in 1865, at the age of seventy-five years. Ferdinand Ditz died in 1883, and John Ditz, Jr., died in 1887. Augustus Ditz, grandson of John Ditz, Sr., is the successor of his father, Ferdinand Ditz, as proprietor of the Washington Hotel in Fryburg.
The Fasenmyer family was the next to arrive from Germany - Balthasor and wife and four children, two sons and two daughters, in 1828. They afterward had three children. Balthasor Fasenmyer was a soldier in Napoleon’s army until Napoleon was taken prisoner, in 1815, and used to tell of many thrilling adventures and severe hardships endured by the soldiers in their campaigns. His children are all in good circumstances. Joseph owns the old homestead and also is proprietor of the Jamestown Hotel; Jacob is a prominent merchant in Fryburg. The Denslinger family came from Germany in 1827 and bought land adjoining Fasenmyer’s, which still remains in the possession of their descendants. The Weaver family came in 1827 from Redbank township, having emigrated from Germany a few years previous. The family consisted of Anthony Weaver and wife, five boys and three girls. Sebastian, the oldest of the children, married a Miss Greenwalt, of Toby township, Clarion county. They are both living, and in their eighty-fourth year, being sixty years married.
Henry Amsler, a native of Switzerland, wife and three children, moved to this township in 1830, from Big Meadow, having lived there seven years, and previously three years at Powel’s, in Venango county, and three in Lancaster city, Pa. Two of the boys, Henry and Rudolph, are still living on adjoining farms.
About the year 1830 other settlements were started. The Walters, Kniselys, Fulmers and Fellows in the northeast of the township, and the Mealys, Strubles, Leeches and Everharts south and east of them. Also the Lymans, Fullers, Lichts, Nicks, Strickenbargers, Groners, Siegels, and Sutters, all of whom, or their descendants, occupy farms in the township, together with many others who came later.
Fryburg, the principal village in Washington township, has a population of about 175. It derived its name from Fryburg in Germany, from whence a number of settlers in the immediate vicinity came. When the name was given it, some were in favor of calling it Kappsheim, and others in favor of Fryburg. It was left to a vote, which resulted in favor of Fryburg. It is situated in the northern part of the township on the State road, and the intersection of the Shippenville road, and is surrounded by hills, one of which is the highest point in Clarion county. The first building in the village was erected by John Markley in the year 1835, where now stands the residence of John Graham.
The next building was built by Keyler, long known as the Grable house, now owned by Joseph Siegel, and standing yet. Simon Ullman had the first store in Grable’s house. Ditz’s Hotel was built in 1849. It burned down in 1879, and was replaced the same year by a large, substantial brick hotel building. There are now three general stores, one furniture and undertaking establishment, two hotels, one drug store, foundry and steam grist-mill, two blacksmith shops, wagon maker shop, grocery, and millinery. For business the town will compare favorably with towns similarly situated. The climate is healthy, and the water good and pure.
Lickingville, situated on the road from Fryburg to. Tylersburg, at the intersection of the road to Newmansville and Tionesta, is a quiet village of one hundred inhabitants, having one hotel, four stores, two churches, and one schoolhouse. The two first houses were built in 1861 and ‘62 by Solomon Siegwarth. The next two and one store were built in 1862 by Shoup and Siegwarth. The name was derived from Licking Creek.
Lineville (now Venus P.O.). The name Lineville originated from the town being on the county line between Clarion and Venango counties. The first house was built in the year 1845, by Henry Zink, who afterwards disposed of it to Amos Owens, and is now owned by John Zigler. The business part of the town is now in Venango county.
Newmanville is a village at the northeast corner of Washington township. The first building was a store-house built by David Bowman, in 1867, now owned by his son, J.C. Bowman. The name was given it by the post-office department. They refused to call it Bowmanville, and named it Newmanville. It also contains one hotel, one blacksmith shop, one stave mill, and one Free Methodist Church, built four years ago.
Jamestown, a village one mile south of Fryburg on the Shippenville road, was started in the year 1873. Jacob Weaver built a store and commenced business. Joseph Fasenmyer built and started a hotel in 1874. Anthony Markley built and started a planing-mill in 1875. The planing-mill was afterward moved to the Pittsburg and Western Railroad, near Tylersburg. The villages of Fryburg and Jamestown are connected by plank and board sidewalk. In the year 1843 and ‘44 three furnaces were started in Washington township. Clinton furnace, started by Moore and Seymour, afterward owned by Samuel Plumer; Hemlock furnace, also on Hemlock Creek, started by Fetzer and Maguire, owned next by John Homer, and afterwards by Faber; and Licking furnace, started by Ohler Siegwarth and Company, on Licking Creek. There were about two thousand acres of land owned by the Clinton Furnace Companies, on which they burned their charcoal. The other companies got theirs burnt through the country. The ore was taken from lands of Henlen, Siegwarth, Kapp, Jacob Lilligh, David Dahle, and Jacob Ditz. The ‘furnaces while they ran were a great help to the new settlers; brought in a great many others, and times were livelier than they have been since. Clinton shut down after the frost in 1859, and the others about the same time.
The streams that take their rise in Washington are Hemlock and Sandy, the source of both being near Fryburg. Hemlock flows into the Allegheny River at President, and Sandy, at East Sandy.
The first church building erected in the township was a Catholic log church, near Fryburg, in the year 1836. It was raised on the 4th of July. After some years this was replaced by a large frame structure, and in 1882 a new church was commenced which was five years in building. The dimensions are one hundred and fifteen feet long and sixty feet wide, and briefly described as follows: On a beautiful knoll in Washington township, overlooking the quiet villages of Fryburg and Jamestown, stands a massive stone structure. The building is constructed on the early Gothic plan, of native white sandstone, and the walls built in broken ashler style and irregular courses, backed by brick. The tower is one hundred and sixty feet high. A statue of St. Michael in, a niche of the outside wall, is the work of H. Flige, of Munster, Westphalia. It cost $450; eight feet high; is made of one solid stone, and weighs 3,200 pounds. The interior of the building presents a picture of artistic arrangement and magnificence seldom seen inside of the walls of the finest city churches. The style is of the basilica order, with three naves, the center nave being twice the height of those on the sides; height of center nave, fifty-six feet, and the side naves twenty-eight feet. The ceilings, with all their naves, rest on arches usually called arcades, and between each four columns is a complete system with groined arches, diagonal ribs, and an ornamental keystone. Two rows of columns, six in each row, carry the ceiling and support the roof. Pews, wainscoting, doors, etc., are of oak with cherry trimmings. The cost of the church can only be approximated, as the members of the congregation did all the hauling and work they could do themselves without any charge. If everything was counted, it would amount to about seventy thousand dollars; and, notwithstanding several liberal donations were received from outside the congregation and from members of other denominations, the building is a, credit to the united efforts of the congregation and an honor to Clarion county.
In 1842 a large frame church was built one mile east of Fryburg, calculated to accommodate the different Protestant denominations of the township, the location being central, and the site being in every way desirable, but in five years after the Walters settlement for some cause withdrew and built a church of their own. Then the members of the western part of the township also built a church in Fryburg, and left the large church vacant. It was taken down in 1872, the grave-yard only remaining.
There are now nine churches in the township of the different Protestant denominations: At Lineville, one Methodist and one Allbright; one half mile south of Lineville, on the Fryburg road, one Old Lutheran; in Fryburg, one New Lutheran; at Lickingville, one Allbright and one United Brethren; at McMichaels, between Lickingville and Newmanville, one Methodist; at Newmanville, one New Lutheran and one Free Methodist.
There are nine public schools in the township, all having patent furniture; besides there is a large parochial school, of two rooms, in which are taught vocal and instrumental music in addition to the usual branches taught in common schools.
There were fourteen oil wells drilled in the township at different times. One well on Hemlock Creek, drilled by Richard Hunt on lands of Kendig and Hunt, pumped eighty barrels of oil, which was hauled to the Gas City pipe line; but being a small producer, and not warranting the laying of a pipe line, it was abandoned. Among the others, one was a strong gas well drilled by Kahl Brothers in 1878 on lands of J.W. Kahl. As gas at that time was not used much for fuel, there was no use made of it. The gas was struck at a depth of one thousand feet.
The State road, connecting Bald Eagle’s Nest, near Bellefonte, with Erie, was surveyed and partially opened in 1797 by General Andrew Ellicot. In 1799 the assembly authorized its completion and granted five thousand dollars for that purpose. ‘ The road was then finished in 1801 or 02. It was this road, and not the Bellefonte and Waterford turnpike, that was subsidized by the Holland Company.
No stage line was established between Kittanning and Strattanville about 1828, as stated on page 98. It was not till 1845 that one was started between Clarion and Freeport.
On page 516 it is implied that Alexander McNaughton had settled in Highland township about 1812; it should be 1806.
For "T.S. Calmont," on page 191, read "J.S. McCalmont ; for "Joseph W. Coulter," on same page, read "James W. Coulter."
SOURCE: Page(s) 622-630, History of Clarion County, A.J. Davis, A.J.; Syracuse, N.Y.: D. Mason & Co. 1887