Pine Creek Township
Jefferson County Pennsylvania History


Early History of Pine Creek Township

Pine Creek Township was created in 1806 by act of the Commonwealth Assembly and at that time was the original and only township in Jefferson County. All other townships of the County, past and current, were formed from the original Pine Creek Township. The formal creation of Pine Creek Township was preceded by the creation of Jefferson County by act of the Pennsylvania Legislature on March 26, 1804. The first of the additional townships created from Pine Creek was Perry Township, organized in 1818. There are several theories about the origin of the name "Pine Creek". The first of these is that the name came from the many pine trees covering the banks of the creeks flowing through the Township. The second is that it was named after "Pine Creek", an area in Lycoming County, PA., that was the original home of Joseph Barnett. Barnett was one of the first white settlers in Pine Creek Township & Jefferson County.

The earliest "civilized" history of Pine Creek Township, as well as, that of Jefferson County, is the history of Port Barnett. It was to this spot, at the confluence of Mill Creek and Sandy Lick Creek, that Andrew Barnett and

Samuel Scott came to in 1796 and determined that this was an ideal site for construction of a sawmill. These two explorers came to this location under the sponsorship of Joseph Barnett of Lycoming County according to Dr. W.J. McKnight in his Pioneer Outline History of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Joseph Barnett and Moses Knapp followed in 1797 and along with Andrew Barnett and Scott began construction of a cabin and a sawmill at Port Barnett. Joseph Barnett returned to Lycoming County in the fall of 1797. Shortly after Joseph�s departure, Andrew Barnett, who was Joseph�s brother, became ill and died. He was buried somewhere in the vicinity of Port Barnett on the north bank of Mill Creek near where it flows into Sandy Lick.

In 1798 Barnett, Knapp, Scott and Joseph Hutchison resumed work on construction of the mill. The mill was completed on 1799 and began sawing operations. In 1801 the first lumber from the mill was floated to Pittsburgh and sold. Hutchinson brought his wife, some household goods and livestock with him in 1798 so he and his wife were the first white settlers in Pine Creek Township. Joseph Barnett moved his wife and family to Port Barnett in November 1799. His daughter, Rebecca, born in 1802 was the first white child born in Pine Creek Township/Jefferson County.

The sawmill constructed at Port Barnett by Joseph Barnett was the first commercial activity in the Township and County. Barnett also built and operated a gristmill as a part of his sawmill enterprise. The log cabin which Barnett had constructed as his home became the Barnett Inn, a rooming house and tavern, that operated under his ownership from 1831 through 1842. In 1814 during the War of 1812 a detachment of troops from Franklin County, PA. under the command of Major William McClelland spent four days resting in the vicinity of Barnett�s Inn on their way to Erie. This same detachment later fought against the British in the Battle of Chippewa on July 5, 1914 and the Battle of Lundy�s Lane July 25, 1814. The Barnetts and Samuel Scott also established and operated a pioneer store in Port Barnett that was sold to Jared B. Evans in 1826. Evans continued to operate the store in Port Barnett for four years until 1830 at which time he moved it to Brookville. Mr. Evans is credited with being the pioneer merchant in Brookville. In 1850 Port Barnett was also home to a hotel operated by A. J. Brady.

According to W. J. McKnight�s Jefferson County Pennsylvania, Her Pioneers and People, 1800-1815, Vol. 1, the population of Jefferson County (also Pine Creek Township) in 1810 was 161 people. According to the same source, the taxable residents in 1807 were: Joseph Barnett (farmer and distiller), John Dickson (weaver), Elijah M. Grimes (laborer), Lewis Heeb (farmer), Peter Jones (farmer), Moses Knapp (farmer), Samuel Lucas (taylor), Thomas Lucas (farmer, grist and sawmill operator), William Lucas (tailor), Ludwig Long (farmer and distiller), Alexander McCoy (farmer), Jacob Mason (laborer), Stephen Roll (cooper), Daniel Roadarmil (farmer), John Scott, Sr. (farmer), Samuel Scott (miller, saw and grist mill operator), John Scott, Jr. (farmer), Adam Vastbinder (farmer), Jacob Vastbinder (farmer), John Vastbinder (laborer) and Fudge Van Camp (farmer). Not all the early residents of the area were Caucasian. Obviously, Native Americans had been residents of the area for hundreds of years prior to 1800 and still were residents. Fudge Van Camp, as well as, a later resident, Charles Sutherland, were African Americans.

The early white explorers and settlers came from the east to Jefferson County and Pine Creek Township via a route called "Meade�s trail".

Meade�s trail was essentially a very primitive path through the central and western Pennsylvania wilderness laid out by David and John Meade in 1787 and 1788, two entrepreneurs who lived in the vicinity of Sunbury, PA. The Meades traversed this route as they made their way westward to explore Venango and Crawford Counties. The trail blazed by these two brothers traveled west from the Susquehanna River near the mouth of Anderson�s Creek in Clearfield County through the vicinity of West Reynoldsville to Port Barnett, then to Brookville. According to McKnight's history Meade�s trail can into Brookville near Alllgier�s brewery (later the Brookville Dairy Products Company) and crossed Red Bank Creek near the future site of the White Street bridge.

The first county road built in Pine Creek Township and Jefferson County ran from Port Barnett on Sandy Lick Creek to Brady�s Mill on Little Mahoning Creek in Indiana County. The initiative to authorize the building of this road resulted from a court petition filed with the Indiana County Court by a group of concerned citizens from Jefferson County and Indiana the September Term, 1808. This petition was filed with the Indiana Court since Jefferson County at that time was under the legal jurisdiction of the Indiana Court. Construction of the road was completed around 1810. The Court appointed representatives of Jefferson County to oversee the layout of the road were Samuel Lucas, John Jones, Moses Knapp and Samuel Scott. The first bridge in Pine Creek Township approved and built was one crossing Sandy Lick Creek on the public road between Port Barnett and Indiana County. A contract for this bridge was awarded August 11, 1829. The contract provided for the construction of a bridge across Sandy Lick Creek sixteen feet wide with stone abutments seventy-five feet apart for a price of $320.

The Indiana to Port Barnett Road became a hub for development in the Township. A number of early Pine Creek Township settlers erected log cabins along the new road. These included Joseph Carr in 1817, Manuel Reitz, George Gray and Samuel McQuiston in 1827, John Mathews in 1830, Elijah Clark in 1833, Andrew Hunter and William Wyley in 1834 and Isaac Swineford in 1835. A pioneer schoolhouse was built to serve this area in 1830. In this same year a pioneer cemetery was established along the road on the McCann farm. The second road constructed in the Township ran from Port Barnett to the Indian village of Troy (Summerville). In 1818, the year in which Pine Creek Township was divided to form Perry Township, there were only 19 miles of county road. Two years later there were 150 miles of county roads in Jefferson County. There were few inhabitants east of Port Barnett at that time. Reportedly in 1834 there were only two buildings between Port Barnett and Reynoldsville, a log tavern run of Isaac Packer and a house owned by Hance Vastbinder near Emerickville.

Th first election in Pine Creek Township was held March 20, 1807 in Port Barnett at the house of Samuel Scott. In this election two township supervisors were elected, John Scott and Peter Jones. Until 1818 Port Barnett was the only polling and election precinct in Jefferson County.

Thomas Lucas was appointed the first justice of the peace on the County January 16, 1809.

The earliest state road to traverse Pine Creek Township and to have a significant impact on its development was the Susquehanna and Waterford Turnpike, a road constructed specifically to accommodate wagon traffic. This road was authorized by the Pennsylvania State Legislature February 22, 1812, physical construction was started in 1818 and completed in 1824. The initial legislation authorized the construction of a road beginning in Clearfield County on the Susquehanna River near the mouth of Anderson Creek through Jefferson County, passing through Brookville, westward through Franklin and Meadville to the town of Waterford in Erie County. The total length of the Turnpike was a distance of approximately one hundred twenty-six miles, with twenty six-miles lying within Jefferson County. The completion of the portion through Jefferson County, when linked with previous roadway construction within the state resulted in one continuos turnpike between Philadelphia and Erie. The Susquehanna and Waterford Turnpike intersected with the Indiana Road at Port Barnett. The Turnpike ran along Main Street as it passed through Brookville. It was a toll road with tollgates occurring every five to ten miles along its length.

When completed the Turnpike was "state of the art" with milestones the entire length. A trip by Conestoga wagon over the Turnpike between Philadelphia and Brookville consumed approximately four weeks. The cost to move freight from Philadelphia to Brookville via this service was six dollars per hundred pounds. A stage coach line, the "Concord" line, established service on the Turnpike from Bellefonte to Erie in November 1824. Service on the stage line was provided on a tri-weekly basis. The first stage coach in the service passed through Port Barnett and Brookville on November 6, 1824. There were a total six inns or taverns along the Turnpike in Jefferson County: one near Reynoldsville, the Packer Inn near Peters Baum�s close to the current Winslow/Pine Creek Township line, one near Campbell Run, the William Vastbinder Inn, James Winter�s Inn at Roseville and John McAnulty�s Inn near where Corsica is now located.

There was an intrastate predecessor state road to the Susquehanna and Waterford Turnpike that passed through Jefferson County. This road, the old State Road, ran east to west from Reading to Erie. The old State Road, also referred to as the Military Road or Milesburg to Le Boeuf State road, was approved by the PA. State Legislature about 1794, but not physically completed to the Allegheny River until April 1804. The purpose of this road was to provide passage for military supplies and troops to the extreme western frontier of the State to defend against the threat of British and Indian attacks. The route of the Old State road through Jefferson County was through Rathmel down through Sandy Valley to West Reynoldsville and then westerly passing slightly North of Brookville before turning in a northwesterly direction toward Erie.

The first post office in Pine Creek Township was established at Port Barnett January 4, 1826. The Port Barnett Post Office was also the first post office to be established in Jefferson County. Joseph Barnett was appointed the first postmaster. In September 1830, the name of the Port Barnett Post Office was changed to the Brookville Post Office.

(November 1998, William Mohney)


McKnight, Dr. W. J. Pioneer Outline History of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA:J.B. Lippincott Company, 1905.

McKnight, Dr. W. J. Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, Her Pioneers and People, 1800-1815, Vol. 1. Chicago, IL.: J.H. Beers & Co.,1917.

McKnight, Dr. W. J. Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, Her Pioneers and People, Vol. II, Genealogy-Biography. Chicago, IL.: J.H. Beers & Co.,1917.

Contributed for use by the Jefferson County Genealogy Project

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