History of Jefferson County
Edited by Kate M. Scott
History of Jefferson County
Beaver, the twentieth township, was organized in 1850, being formed from
portions of Clover and Ringgold. It was named for the principal stream within
its bounds, Beaver Run, which traverses the township from east to west,
entering Red Bank at Heathville.
This township has Clover township on the north and Rose and Oliver on the east
while on the west is Clarion county, and Ringgold forms the southern boundary,
being separated from the latter by Little Sandy while Red Bank flows along its
western boundary. These two streams then unite just beyond the Jefferson
county border. The central part of the township and the eastern part consists
of high land much diversified by small ravines, but containing summits which
range from 400 to 450 feet above Red Bank Creek.
Geology -The principal coal found in Beaver is the Brookville seam, which is
the only workable one. Its average thickness is four and a half feet though it
has been opened at Hetrick's where it was found to be seven feet thick. The
Freeport, Kittanning and Clarion coals are of no account in Beaver township.
The Freeport upper limestone is one of the conspicuous features of the geology
of Beaver. It tops all of the highest knobs, and is found at D. Buck's and E.
Jone's near Worthville, not less than fifteen feet thick.
The ferriferous limestones found on the Boyer, Updegraff, Brocius and Lang
farms, also on the farms of Daniel Reitz and C. Brocius, at all of which
places it has been worked. It is generally about five feet thick, richly
fossiliferous and in good condition for quarry lime.
Buhrstone iron ore is also found at several localities in the township, but
has not been investigated.
Early Settlement and Improvements - Hulett Smith and his wife were probably
the first settlers in Beaver township, to which they came from Connecticut in
1816. They were thirty-five days making the journey and when they came,
Brookville as well as nearly all portions of the county, was a dense
wilderness. Mrs. Eunice Smith died at her home three miles south of Troy,
where she had lived fifty-three years, June 6, 1869; she was in the
seventy-sixth year of her age. Mr. Smith removed to Brookville, during the
later years of his life where he died in 1879, aged ninety years; he was a
soldier of the War of 1812.
Then in the year 1834 a number of families came from Dauphin county, among
whom were those of J. and S. Philliber, Jonas Sowers, Ludwick Bierly, William
McAninch, Mr. Mentear, Henry and Conrad Nulf, Solomon Gearhart, George Reitz,
Michael Hetrick. The Holt family came about 1837.
The only ones of those early settlers now living are four sons of William
McAninch and two of Jonas Sowers's.
Henry Nolf and Hance Robinson made the first improvements and cleared the
first land. The descendants of these early pioneers yet reside in the township
and are among its best and most enterprising citizens.
The first school house was built about the year 1837 on the Mentear farm or at
William Furguson's, and the first church on the Philiber farm, about the same
time. The first grave-yard was located on the Holt farm and the father and
mother of J. and S. Philiber were the first persons buried there. Hance
Robinson built the first grist mill at Heathville, and he or his brother
William started the first store. Henry Nolf built the first sawmill at
Heathville; the second was built by Hance Robinson and the next by Conrad Nolf.
Aaron Fuller built a sawmill in 1830 at the mouth of Beaver Run.
In 1835 James McKennan and Thomas White, of Indiana, under the firm name of
McKennan & White engaged in lumbering at what is now Langville. They also
established a store at that place with Adam Bausman as clerk. James Maize,
father of James H. Maize, cashier of the First National bank of Punxsutawney
was the general manager for McKennan & White while they done business in
Jefferson county, a period of about three years. Mr. Maize removed to
Armstrong county and has been dead for a number of years.
Samuel Lerch was born in Lebanon county in 1800 and in 1836 removed to
Jefferson county, locating in what is now Beaver township, where he purchased
eighty-seven acres of land with a one and a half story shanty 24 x 24 upon it
and having about five acres cleared. His children were all young, three of
them being unable to walk. The family set to work to make a home in this
place, and for a time were obliged to exercise the utmost economy. They made
their own clothes, even to the buttons and for years their own fields and
garden furnished all their food. Instead of Rio their coffee was rye and for
the invigorating herb from China they substituted the native herbs.
Mr. Lerch was a good carpenter and cabinet maker, and in the small cabin which
had one room below and a loft above he placed his work-bench in one corner.
Above was set the tread-lathe and the children would tread this lathe while
their father would turn out in a day four bed posts, four feet long and four
In 1854 Mr. Lerch engaged in store keeping at New Salem, in Armstrong county,
and in 1859 removed to Ringgold, where he engaged in merchandising until his
death, which occurred in 1862. His wife, nee Rebecca Bultz, died in 1844. Mr.
Lerch was the father of nineteen children.
Jacob Reitz, with his family, came to Jefferson county in 1842 from
Northumberland county, the journey being made in wagons. He purchased one
hundred and sixty acres of land in what is now Beaver township. This land was
partly cleared, but in very poor condition. Having but little money, and being
in debt for part of his farm, and only two of his children, Manuel W. and
Edward, aged respectively eleven and thirteen, being able to render him any
assistance; but as the others became large enough, they, too, put their
shoulders to the wheel that moved the home machinery, and in a little over ten
years the farm was cleared from debt, besides being in a good state of
cultivation. Jacob Reitz lived to enjoy the prosperity that the toil of
himself and family had secured until 1877, when he died in the seven-fourth
year of his age. He was the father of ten children --even sons and three
daughters. They have all borne prominent parts in the history of Beaver
township. M. W. and Edward have filled the different offices of trust in the
township. The former while serving as constable was appointed deputy-sheriff
by Sheriff P. H. Shannon, and in 1863 was elected to that office, his brother,
Edward, serving as deputy. Since 1866 four of the brothers - Manuel W.,
Edward, Aaron, and Benjamin W. - formed a copartnership and purchased the
James Hill property at Belleview, where they have since been engaged in
merchandizing, lumbering, and farming. Aaron and Jonathan reside in Beaver
township, as does Mrs. Samuel Thomas, one of the sisters. Mrs. Sarah Lankert,
the remaing member of the family, lives in Mississippi.
Thomas Holt, another of the early settlers of Beaver township, was born in
Cumberland county, in 1793, and served in the War of 1812. He was married in
Cumberland county to Sarah Pilgrim, and in 1838 removed to Jefferson county,
locating in what is now Beaver township. Mr. Holt was a carpenter and pump
maker by trade, but on his arrival located on a farm about seven miles from
Brookville, where he followed farming until his death in 1871.
Thomas R. Holt, their son, was raised on a farm, but learned the blacksmithing
trade, being an apprentice of the late Arad Pearsall, of Brookville, and of
Jacob Lehman,of Rose township. He erected a shop on the home farm, and worked
at his trade for seven years, when he purchased the John Philliber farm, and
has since that time devoted his attention to farming and lumbering. He is
largely engaged in stock-raising, Durham cattle being his speciality, owning
some fine registered and graded animals.
Present Business -There are four post-offices in the township -
Heathville,Patton's Station, Pansy, and Ohl - and two stores, that of Shaffer
& Reitz, at Pansy, E. M. Ohl, at Pleasantville, and C. L. Guthrie, at
Heathville, and John Buzzard, at Pansy. The large woolen factory of John Lang,
erected about 1851 or 1852, at Langville, is the only manufactory in the
township. The only grist-mill is that of Nicholas McQuiston, also located at
Langville, on Little Sandy. There are no hotels in the township there are
seven school houses and six churches in the township, with a cemetery at each
Farms-Beaver township is mainly settled by hardy, honest Germans who have made
farming their business, and who have made this locality one of the best
farming regions in the county. It is especially adapted to stock-raising.
Among the best farms, with the best improvements are those of Ellias Jones,
Solomon Shaffer, sr., Solomon Shaffer, jr., Mrs. Lydia Thomas, Solomon Glantz,
David Benjamin, Michael and Jacob Brocius, Jonas Sowers, and the farm owned by
the Isaac Mottern estate. All the fruits that can be grown in the county are
raised in profusion, and of the best known varieties.
Elections - The first election was held in Beaver township, in 1850, and
resulted in the following persons being elected:
Justice of peace, Charles Jacob, Absolam Smith; constable, David I. Moore;
supervisors, John Imhoof, Michael Brocius; auditors, Lewis McAninch, David
Fayrweather, George Gumbert; school directors, Henry McAninch, Peter Motter,
Michael Brocius, David Himes, Absolam Smith, Charles Jacox; judge of election,
David Edmonds; inspectors, James B. Wayland, George Gumbert; poor master, John
Hastings, David Smith, David Fayrweather.
At the election held February 15, 1887, the following persons were elected;
Constable, J. B. Sowers; collector, Joseph Spare; supervisors, David Plyler,
Baltzer Raybuck; school directors, Jonas Sowers, jr., Jonathan Horner;
auditor, David Brosius; poor overseer, Walker Smith; assessor, Josiah
Fenstamaker; judge of election, David Sowers and Walter Bracken, tie vote;
inspectors, Israel Keck and Samuel Ressler.
The justices of the peace for Beaver township are Daniel Reitz, and Michael J.
Brosius, and the previously elected members of the school board are John
Updegraff, Wallace Morrison, F. P. Hetrick, and Josiah Fenstamaker.
Statistics of Population, Assessment, and Schools. - The number of taxables in
Beaver township in 1856 were 158; in 1863, 166; in 1870, 201; in 1880, 274; in
The population, according to the census of 1850. 662; 1860 was 874; 1870,
1,094; 1880, 1,113.
The triennial assessment of Beaver for 1886 is as follows: Number of acres of
seated land, 11,581; valuation, $47,244; average per acre, $4.08. Houses and
lots, 3; valuation, $100. Number of acres unseated, 1,091; valuation, $175.
Number of horses, 144; valuation, $2,563; average value, $17.78. Number of
cows, 247; valuation $2,328; average value, $8.40. Number of occupations, 85;
valuation, $1,552; average, $18.20. Total valuation subject to county tax.
$55.695. Money at interest, $19,181.
The number of schools in Beaver township for the year ending June 7, 1886,
were 7; number of months taught, 5; male teachers, 2; female teachers, 5;
average salary of teachers, $25.00; number of male scholars, 158; females,
134; average attendance, 226; percent. Of attendance, 87; cost per scholar, 62
cent; 13 mills levied for school, and 3 for building purposes; total amount of
tax levied for school and building purposes $1,079.57
Pages 644 - 647
Special thanks to Linda for providing this.
Contributed for use by the Jefferson County Genealogy Project
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