FROM 1807 TO 1830.
First Assessments and Elections - First Roads-Population - Statistics of Agriculture - Commerce and Manufactures
THOUGH the county was organized provisionally in 1804, there seems to have been no records kept nor any elections held until 1807. The following is the first assessment of property on record:
100 acres Joseph Barnett, (improved), val.
John Dixon, (weaver), Elijah M. Graham, Joseph Hutchison, 100 acres Peter Jones, (blacksmith), (improved)
100 " Samuel Scott, (miller)
100 " John Scott,
100 " Jacob Vasbinder, S.M.,*
100 " William Vasbinder,
100 " Adam Vasbinder,
No. of taxables, 18; No. of horses, 23; No. of cows, 35
The first election returns are as follows:
Jefferson county-At an election held at the house of Samuel Scott, in said county, on Friday, the 20th of March, A.D. 1807, the following persons were duly elected:
Supervisors-John Scott had 18 votes.
Peter Jones "18"
Signed Sam’l. Scott, Thos. Lucas, - Judges.
At an election held at the house of Samuel Scott in said county, on the 18th day of March, A.D. 1808, the following persons were duly elected as returned below:
Supervisors; John Jones, Alex. McCoy were duly elected.
Auditors; Samuel Lucas, Samuel Scott, Moses Knap, and Adam Vasbinder,
Were duly elected.
Signed Samuel Scott, John Dickson, Judges.
The above returns are as copied from the records of Indiana county, where the returns had to be made, this county then being under the legal jurisdiction of Indiana.
In the next three years the white population according to the census of 1810, was 161 whites, one colored, showing that the settlements in the county within the first ten years proceeded very slowly.
The American, published at Indiana, Pa., of February 10, 1817, publishes the receipts and expenditures of Jefferson county as follows:
Receipts and Expenditures. - In the Treasury of Jefferson County, from the Second of January, 1816, to January First, 1817, both days inclusive.
John Taylor, Esq., Treasurer. Cr. Dr. To cash of Joseph Barnett, Collector Dols. Cts. By Cash paid on Sundry road orders. $1,626.76 Of Pine Creek Township for 1813, Election orders 34.00 In full 17.43 ¾ Wolf orders 157.37 ½ Received on Unseated Lands 2,475.61 ¼ to Road viewers 18.00 Land sold 101.92 Contingent expenses 102.00 $2,594.97 Paid to Indiana County the proportional Part of the general expenses. 298.56 List of outstanding debts. Treasurer’s fees on $1,933.13 ½ Due from the Collectors for 1815 $ 7.70 ½ at 2 per cent 38.66 On unseated Lands before 1816, for Which the lands have been sold to the Commissioners 2,140.27 Balance in Treasury 132.63 ½ County Tax 1816 790.92 $2,594.97 $2,938.89 1/2 GARWIN SUTTON,
THOMAS SHARP, Commissioners.
Attest. Daniel Stanard, Clerk
By an act of the Legislature Pine Creek township was established in 1806, and comprised the entire county until 1818, when Perry was established; and until the year 1826, when Young was formed from a portion of Perry, these two townships, Pine Creek on the north, and Perry on the south, with Little Sandy as the dividing line, were the only two districts in the county. The elections were held at the house of Joseph Barnett for Pine Creek, and at the house of John Bell for Perry. In 1826 Ridgway township was formed from a portion of Pine Creek. Previous to this all the settlers mentioned heretofore as having settled on Little Toby and the West Branch, in what is now Elk county, had to come to Port Barnett to vote, while all other legal business had to be enacted at Indiana. In 1827 Rose was formed from Pine Creek.
Previous to the War of 1812, there were no roads; the "Chinklacamoose path" from Clearfield, through Punxsutawney, and "Meade’s trail" from Clearfield, through Brookville, westward, were the only highways. Previous to the beginning of the war a government road was projected through this territory for the purpose of transporting troops from the eastern part of the State to Lake Erie, and is said to have been "brushed out." That the troops from the eastern part of the State passed through this county on their way to the scene of hostilities at Lake Erie is well authenticated. Colonel Bird, with his regiment, rested three days at Port Barnett, and the next night after leaving there bivouacked at the "Four Mile Spring," on the Afton farm, in Eldred township. Several persons were impressed by the commander of this expedition, among the number being E.M. Graham, who, with his team, was taken to aid in carrying supplies. Mr. Graham was taken as far as Waterford, in Erie county, and after an absence of two weeks was allowed to return home.
During the building of the Low Grade division of the Allegheny Valley Railroad through this county, in the year 1872, near the western county line, there was found imbedded in the hardpan some six feet below the surface, and covered by nearly that depth of solid sandstone, some relics of a past age. One was what appeared to be a Queen Anne musket. The stock and wooden part of the gun had entirely disappeared, but the flint-lock of extraordinary proportions, and the length and style of the barrel proved its identity. Near the gun lay a huge bridle-bit, the size of which gave some indication of the ideas of utility of the people of that remote age. The sides were not less than eighteen inches long, and terminated in immense rings, and the ponderous article was large enough for an animal ten times the size of the horses in use at the present day. These relics of antiquity were in a comparatively good state of preservation. How they got so deeply imbedded in the "hardpan," and when and by whom they were deposited there, was a source of much conjecture, and is a question not easily answered; but it has been presumed that the spot where they were found marked the road over which troops had marched during the early Indian wars, or they may have been deposited in the grave of some Indian brave who had stolen them.
The first effort to make a State road through Jefferson county was by the passage of an act, February 22, 1812, to enable the governor of the Commonwealth to incorporate a company for making an artificial road from Waterford in the county of Erie, through Meadville and Franklin to the river Susquehanna, at or near the mouth of Anderson’s Creek, in Clearfield county. The governor was empowered to subscribe $12,000 in shares toward the building of this road, and Thomas Forster and John Boyd, of the county of Erie; James Harriott and Henry Hurst, of the county of Crawford; William Moore and George Powers, of the county of Venango; Ebenezer Magoffin, and Beson Pearson, of the county of Mercer; Joseph Barnett and Peter Jones, of the county of Jefferson; Joseph Bond and Paul Clover, of the county of Clearfield; George Lattimer and Jeremiah Parker, of the city Philadelphia; and William Dunn and John Shaw, of the county of Philadelphia, were appointed commissioners to receive subscriptions for stock. The shares were put at twenty-five dollars each, and the several counties named were required to take a certain number of said shares; Jefferson county’s apportionment being fifty shares.
This road - which was called the Waterford and Susquehanna Turnpike - was incorporated in the year 1817, and work was begun in 1818. March, 1821, an act was passed, by which $2,500 was appropriated for improving said road, and persons appointed from each county to receive the sum to be expended in their respective counties, Charles C. Gaskill and Carpenter Winslow being appointed to represent Jefferson county.
"November 3, 1830, a contract was made between the commissioners of Jefferson county and John Lucas for making eighty perches of road through the borough of Brookville, to intersect the Susquehanna and Waterford turnpike road, being Sections 3, 4, and 7. Twenty perches east, counting from east of town, to be made in same manner as the pike, to be finished by the 1st of December next. Amt. for work $79."
William Lucas is also mentioned as making "50 perches of turnpike, being that part of the alteration of the Susquehanna and Waterford turnpike road through the borough of Brookville." This road was finished in 1822, and has ever since been the principal thoroughfare from east to west through Jefferson county. It is still a State road. In 1840 the tolls received were $4,109.10. Amount paid for repairs, $3,338.17. Salaries of gate-keepers, $784.33.
By an act passed March 26, 1821, "the sum of $8,000 was appropriated for opening and improving a State road, recently laid out from the town of Kittanning, in Armstrong county, to the State line in the direction of Hamilton, in the State of New York, which road passed through the counties of Armstrong, Jefferson, and McKean, to be expended in the said counties, in proportion to the distance it passed through the same respectively, and John Matson and John Lucas, were appointed to receive and expend the same for Jefferson county." This road, still known as the Olean road, was finished in 1822.
In 1825 another State road was laid out from the town of Indiana, through Punxsutawney, in Jefferson county, and Smethport, in the county of McKean, to the town of Ceres, in McKean county. This road, known as the Ceres road, was finished in 1828.
In 1830, through the exertions of Judge Gillis, a road was made from Milesburg, in Centre county, through the Ridgway and Kersey settlements in Jefferson county, to intersect with the Olean road, near the town of Olean, N.Y., the State appropriating $20,000 towards the same.
There was not much done in the way of improvement in Jefferson county in the first quarter of a century. The land was too rugged and heavily timbered to allow the few settlers to make much progress in farming. The soil, however, enriched by the accumulations and decayed vegetation of centuries, was very productive, and when tilled, yielded productively; but it required so much hard labor to clear the ground that during these first years only a solitary clearing here and there proclaimed the presence of the husbandmen. During the troublous times attendant on the War of 1812, the few settlers lived in constant dread of an incursion of Indians and British, but were unmolested.
Another decade showed only 551 whites and ten negroes as the aggregate population, but during the next ten years settlers commenced to come in more rapidly. The settlements in the northern and southern portions of the county already noticed were made, and the census of 1830 gives the population as 2,003 whites, twenty-one free colored, and one slave. Those of the present generation will scarcely credit the fact that a slave was at one time, and that as late as 1830, owned in Jefferson county; but we learn that the slave reported in Jefferson county by the census of 1830, was Charles Sutherland, who was brought from Virginia to this county about the year 1812.
Captain E.R. Brady in the Jeffersonian of January 20, 1852, notices the death of this venerable negro, the only slave ever owned in Jefferson county: "In this day’s paper we record the death of Charles Sutherland (colored), who was one of the oldest inhabitants of this county and had arrived at the advanced age of nearly one hundred years. He came to what is now Jefferson county upwards of forty years ago, when the ground upon which Brookville now stands was but a howling wilderness. Many there are in this borough who will miss the familiar and friendly visits of ‘old Charley’ who, with hat in hand, and his venerable head uncovered, asked alms at their hands. No more will they hear from him a description of the ‘Father of his country,’ when he, Charley, held his horse at the laying of the corner-stone of the capitol at Washington City. His breath is hushed, his lips are sealed, and his body is wrapped in the cold habiliments of the grave. Resquiescat in pace."
The progress in other respects was as great as in the increase of population. Until the year 1826 there were no mail facilities. In all those years no letters, no papers, no tidings from the outside world reached these dwellers in the wilderness except a special messenger was sent to the town forty or fifty miles distant. In January, 1826, a post-office was established at Port Barnett, and Joseph Barnett appointed postmaster. In February of the same year another office was established at the Ridgway Settlement, and James Gillis appointed postmaster. This office was called Montmorency.
An office was established in 1826 at Punxsutawney, with Charles Barclay as postmaster, and that at Brockwayville, Alonzo Brockway, postmaster, in 1829. These were all the post-offices in the county during the first thirty years. In 1828 a post-route was established, and the mail was carried once a week on horseback from Kittanning to Smethport in McKean county. Letter postage at that time was 6 1/4, 12 1/2, 18 3/4, to 25 cents per ounce, according to the distance the letter had to go. Each letter was wrapped in a separate wrapper, and the postmasters at the sending and receiving offices had to keep a correct record of every letter passing through their hands. The advent of the mail service in the county was a great event, and the weekly visit of the "post-boy" was looked for eagerly by those who for so long had been deprived of all communication with the outside world.
* Single man.
Source: Page(s) 61-66, History of Jefferson County by Kate M. Scott. Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., 1888.
Contributed by Nathan Zipfel for use by the Jefferson County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/jefferson/)
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