History of Reynoldsville


Indians. For many hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, the red man pitched his wigwam on the banks of the streams in this vicinity. As he sat beneath the stare the gray smoke and blazing red flames from his camp fires twined upward among the tree tops. In this lonely wilderness, so broad and deep and wild, as the pines moaned dismally the savage in his forest home smoked his pipe and with his squaw and papoose listened to the howl of the wolf and the hoot of the owl in the darkness. Only the Creator knew that after untold centuries the roar and shriek of the locomotive would be heard, the wheels of industry would turn and that a superior race would dwell there.

Little is known of the aborigines of the United States previous to the discovery by Columbus. And there never have been evidences of prehistoric or any other early races whatsoever, but that of the ancestors of the natives found in this region by the Europeans. Here was the home of the Iroquois confederation, first known in history as the Five Nations, comprising the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca tribes. The confederation had been formed in 1670. The Tuscaroras joined them in 1722. Thereafter they were known among the English as the Six Nations. The Iroquoian, so named by the French, called themselves the Ongwanonsionni, "we of the extended lodge." The Delawares gave them the name Mingwe. The northern and western Algonquin called them Nadowa, "adders." The Powhatans called them Massawomekes. The confederation of Iroquois immediately began to make their united power felt. After the coming of the Dutch from whom they procured firearms they were able to extend their conquests over all the neighboring tribes, until their domain was acknowledged from the Ottawa River to the Tennessee, and from the Kennebec to the Illinois River and Lake Michigan. About the middle of the 17th century the Five Nations were supposed to have gained their greatest numerical strength, and between 1677-1685 it was estimated at about 16,000. But they lost by continued warfare. The most accurate estimate for the 18th century gave the Six Nations between 10,000 and 12,000 which was about the number in 1774.

The Senecas, or Mountain Indiana as they were called locally, was the nation of the Iroquois confederation which lived in this region. It was the largest of the six tribes. In 1860, the earliest estimate, it comprised 5,000 members. Later estimates were 3,500 in 1772, and 3,000 in 1860. In 1909 there were 2,749 on three reservations in New York State.

The Delaware Indians, as the English called them, lived along the river in eastern Pennsylvania bearing that name. They called themselves Leni Lenape, or "the original people." About the middle of the 18th century the whites on the Atlantic coast began crowding them westward across the Allegheny Mountains and many by permission of the Iroquois settled in this part of the Colony.

Winslow township lies in what was once a favorite hunting ground of the aborigine. His nearest town was on the present site of Punxsutawney. Indian arrowheads and a few stone implements which they left behind are the only evidences of the red men's former existence in this locality. About a half mile north of Sandy Valley was once what the pioneers called white oak flats, and when white men first came a deer crossing or trail ran through it. The forest at that spot being open it was an excellent place for the heathens to conceal themselves and shoot deer as they passed through. Since the advent of the whites, the forest cleared, and the ground tilled, a countless number of arrowheads have been found there which were turned up by the plow. On MeCreight's knob, in the Paradise settlement, Winslow township, many arrowheads and other Indian implements have also been discovered but why they were so numerous at that place no one appears to know. Arrowheads have frequently been picked up in the spring on every farm in Winslow township. When the first settlers came to this part of the State they found where the wild men had made maple sugar.

The last native tawney skinned family and the only one now known that lived in this section, left in about 1816 and was taken north with others to a reservation. The English name of the family was John, and at one time their wigwam sat on the southern bank of Soldier Run a few rods above 10th Street in Reynoldsville. After their removal three of them came here to their old hunting grounds to hunt and fish every year, until 1824, when they returned to their reservations never to revisit this region. They killed many deer and bear on the site where Reynoldsville is now located. The hunters were Big John, Little John, and Saucy John. They had a brother, John Sight, but he never accompanied them.

Sam Modock was the last Indian to return here who was a native of this region. His final visit was in 1843. Afterwards he killed a woman and two children and was hanged for the murder in Butler, Pennsylvania,

The Colonial Period. In 1606 Virginia was designated as extending from the 34th to the 45th degree north latitude. What is now Winslow township was then in the section which soon became known as North Virginia. In 1820 North Virginia ceased to exist when King James I., of England, granted a charter to The Plymouth Company giving them the territory between 41 and 46 degrees north latitude and from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean excepting only such lands as were in the possession of other nations. New Netherland, which occupied territory along the coast and was settled by the Dutch, lay within the section.

In 1628 The Plymouth Company granted all of its possessions north of the present Massachusetts-Connecticut line to the Massachusetts Colony, and In 1631 all south of that line to the Connecticut Colony. The territory now forming Winslow township was then transformed from The Plymouth Company to the Connecticut Colony, though in reality it was in the full possession of the Indiana. In 1683 King Charles II., of 'England, after having fixed the southern boundary of Connecticut at 41 degrees north latitude, which runs south of the present south boundary line of Winslow township, confirmed the remainder of the grant made by King James I. Yet, in 1681, the same king had granted to William Penn land comprising the Pennsylvania Colony as far north as above 42 degrees causing a large territory to be in dispute. Strife at once began and blood was shed as a result, in the eastern part of what is now Pennsylvania. The crown was appealed to during the controversy but it failed to settle the difficulty. It continued until the Revolution when it died out only to break forth again when the war was over. The easy going Penns were no longer in power, having been superseded by sterner men who defended the rights of Pennsylvania, and soon Connecticut was obliged to relinquish her claim west of her present boundary. The locality about which this history was written was, for fourteen years, held by the Virginia Colony then, for a decade, owned by The Plymouth Company and then, for over 150 years, claimed by the Connecticut Colony and, finally, became an undisputed part of the State of Pennsylvania, and all before it had been entered upon by white men.

Early Land Sales. Town of Olney. Other Land Schemes. Willlam Penn had absolute right to all of this region under the great charter given to him by Charles II., of England, but it was a custom of the Penns to buy the land from the Indians. This custom was continued after Pennsylvania became a state.

October 22, 1784, at Fort Stanwix (now Rome, New York), a treaty was made with the red men and the last part of Pennsylvania was purchased for $10,000. The tract then bought is what now includes the counties of Jefferson, Potter, Mercer, Warren, Venango, Crawford, Butter, Lawrence, Forest, Clarion, Elk, Cameron, McKean and parts of Erie, Bradford, Lycoming, Clinton, Clearfield, Indiana, Armstrong, Beaver, Tioga and Allegheny.

Immediately after the purchase lands which lay east of the Allegheny River and Conewango Creek were divided into 18 districts. The districts were each about seven miles wide and ran from the south boundary o; the purchase to the New York State line. The district at the Allegheny River was Number One. The numbers ran east, and the one covering what is now Winslow township was Number Six. It was six miles and 310 perches wide. The southeastern corner was where Cambria and Clearfield counties now corner on the Indiana county line. A deputy surveyor was placed to each district who, with a corps of men, surveyed this wilderness. The Deputy Surveyor for district Number Six was General James Potter, who began his work in the summer of 1785.

Soon after 1790 the Surveyor General made a change within the Fort Stanwix purchase lands divided it into six districts. Number One was at Lycoming Creek and the numbers ran westward. What is now Winslow township was then In District Number Five with James P. Brady as deputy surveyor. He and his corps completed the work of laying out the land warrants in what at present 1s the township of Winslow. There are now 40 warrants in the township.

The legislature passed an act April 8, 1785, directing that these lands be sold by lottery. Tickets, properly numbered, were put in a wheel and the warrants on the applications were numbered in accordance with the lottery decision. Applicants were permitted to take any unappropriated land. No person was allowed to purchase more than 1,000 acres, but owing to loose methods this law was easily evaded and purchasers succeeded in buying all they wanted. Speculation was then in vogue as well as now and a few men became large land owners. This section was in Northumberland county and the warrants laid out here at that time became known as the "Northumberland County Lottery Warrants."

The legislature passed an act April 3, 1792, in which it restricted the sale of unoccupied lands to only those who settled on them. These lands had first been sold at $1.50 per acre, but it was too high to induce people to make many purchases. The price was cut several times until finally, by act of April 3, 1792, it was reduced to 13 1-3 cents per acre. The law was then evaded more than ever and all endeavored to speculate. During later years the price was again raised..

In May, 1785, an office was opened for the sale of the lands within the territory covered by the Fort Stanwix treaty.

Timothy Pickering & Company were the first to purchase in what has since become Winslow township, which they did May 17, 1785. Colonel Timothy Pickering, after whom the company was named, came to Pennsylvania from Massachusetts. He was a comrade and near friend of General Potter, already referred to; a trusted official under Washington during many of his important battles, and Secretary of State under President John Adams. Original grants were obtained in all parts of what is now Winslow township by Timothy Pickering & Company, and Doctor Cathcart, of Philadelphia. Timothy Pickering & Company owned what is now Reynoldsville east of the line running north and south and crossing at the corner of Main and Seventh Streets. F. B. Smith owned in the southeast, and Welhelm Willink in the south and west. Welhelm Willink's lands were located to what is now the central and western part of Reynoldsville. He was a merchant of Amsterdam, Holland, and was associated with other Dutch who owned land extensively in Jefferson county known as the property of The Holland Land Company. Jared Ingersol, at one time Attorney General of Pennsylvania, owned in the western part of the township. John Nicholson, Comptroller of Pennsylvania from 1782 to 1794, who at one time owned 3,700,000 acres of land in the State, also owned in the western, and Henry Geddis owned in the northwestern part of Winslow. Henry Geddis likewise owned land In the vicinity of what is now Main, Fourth and Fifth Streets.

Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treasury under Washington, who was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr, at one time owned land in what afterwards became the upper part of Rathmel.

As late as 1843 Sherman Day, in the Historical Collections of Pennsylvania, p. 380, said that "Much of Jefferson county was then owned by land companies who would not improve their properties and held them at such a high price that they deterred from buying, many who would have made Improvements."

Joseph Lattimer eventually came into possession of land now partly occupied by Reynoldsville, and in 1830 he had the town of Olney laid out. The map of the town measured 12x16 inches. In one corner it read "Plan of the town of Olney, Jefferson county, 11th month, 18th, 1830." In another place it read "Note-the lots in front are 66 feet, in depth 165 feet." Exceptions were given of a few lots of other sizes. The statement further said, "The main street is 66 feet wide, the others, 33 feet." Sandy Lick Creek appeared on the map. The stream now known as Pitch Pine Run was then called Cool Stream. There were 33 lots marked out extending from about three rods east of the Sandy Lick Creek along both sides of the turnpike to about where Swamp Alley is now located between Fourth and Fifth Streets. Lot number one, located near what is now the northeastern corner of First and Main Street, was sold in 1832 for $10. It was the only one disposed of. In 1837 David Reynolds, of Kittanning, bought the land with much adjoining, stopping all possibilities of Olney becoming a town. Woodward Reynolds afterwards bought lot number one just referred to.

About 1866 Tilton Reynolds advertised lots for sale at Prospect Hill, Paradise settlement, and attempted to build a town out of the hamlet. The turnpike in the advertisement was called Main Street. But two or three lots were sold. Mr. Reynolds had come there in 1830 and started the first store in 1842 in what afterwards became Winslow township. In 1866 the hamlet had grown to a population of 50 or 60 with seven or eight dwellings, a store, a blacksmith shop, a hotel and a doctor. People went there to attend entertainments and it was of more importance then than Reynoldsville. The town has entirely disappeared and the place is now only a farming community. The Central Land & Mining Company is the largest dealer of real estate doing business in Winslow township. The company was incorporated about 1870 and consisted of wealthy Philadelphians. Pancoast, in this township, was named in honor of their first president. The company bought nearly 6,000 acres of land in Winslow and nearly 1,000 acres in Washington township for a little less than $45 per acre, or about $300,000 in all. It contained valuable coal deposits and was heavily timbered when purchased. Most of the land laid on a strip above and below Reynoldsville, on both sides of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Much of the land now has been sold.

First Adventurers. Early Settlers. Probably the first white persons who came to what is now Reynoldsville were General James Potter and his corps of surveyors in 1786. They laid out, among others, warrant 201 which included part of Reynoldsville. General Potter was a Deputy State Surveyor in the employ of the State, mentioned under the head of Early Land Sales. He was a celebrated Revolutionary soldier and died in 1789. Joseph Potter who settled in what is now Reynoldsville in about 1822 was a nephew. General Potter was described as being short and thick set and though not possessing a superior education had great Intellectual force. He was one of Washington's most trusted Brigadier Generals and was with him at Valley Forge and in many important battles. Potter was also an Indian fighter both near the close of the Revolution and long before. In the French and Indian war he was wounded at Kittanning during Colonel Armstrong's encounter with the Indians. He was also prominent in the politics of Philadelphia.

The surveying corps generally consisted of the surveyor, two chain carriers, an axman, cook and hunters. From six to 10 men were in a corps. It was impossible to carry all of their provision an4 hunters were required to furnish enough game to make up the deficiency. Indians were sometimes troublesome in this region and it was also quite necessary for the corps to be large enough to protest itself from everything.

In 1787 the Mead brothers blazed a trail through here. Their names were David and John. The trail crossed the Sandy Lick Creek and went through what is now the Western part of Reynoldsville. The brothers lived in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, and George Washington's account of the valuable but unoccupied lands in what is now Crawford and Venango counties had caused them to venture into the region. After having crossed rivers and climbed hills they reached the present site of Meadville. The brothers returned over the same route to their former homes in 1788 but were so well pleased with the country that they went back that year with Thomas Martin, John Watson, James F. Randolph, Thomas Grant, Cornelius Van Horn and Christopher Snyder. They passed over the present site of the western part of Reynoldsville with four pack horses and settled at and near what at present is. Meadville. Mead's trail began at the mouth of Anderson Creek, near Curwensville, Clearfield county, and all of the transporting through this wilderness was done on It until 1804 by pack horses. The Meads in 1788 were the pioneer settlers of Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Many who went through what is now Winslow township on that trail were afterwards murdered by the Indians in their raids of 1791, 1792 and 1793. In 1800 Joseph Barnett came over the route and started the first settlement in Jefferson county at Port Barnett.

Surveyors were here many years laying out land warrants, and after 1798 they were also here surveying for the old State road, the artery of travel through this section until the turnpike was completed in 1824.

Doctor William McKnight, author of A Pioneer History of Jefferson County, informed me that the first white settler in what is now the township of Winslow was Henry Feye, Senior, who built a log cabin on the old State road where he kept a tavern and sold liquor. That was in 1812. The tavern was located in what is known as the Fye settlement, just west of the DuBois road and east of Rathmel. Travelers on the road carried their own provision and only secured lodging at the wayside inns. The old cabin stood for many years.

About 1821, or just before, a log cabin was built on the upper side of the turnpike a few rods west of the Sandy Lick Creek and was the first dwelling erected in what is now Reynoldsville. This, like many similar cabins along the pike, was made for the accommodation of the workmen who were building the road. It is said to have first been conducted by one Brockbank who boarded the men. In later years the structure was used as a barn. Finally it was torn down and by 1845 the big old fashioned chimney was all there was standing and that soon disappeared.

A two roomed log cabin was constructed in 1822 on what is now the south side of Main Street in Reynoldsville and about 225 feet east of the Sandy Lick Creek. The cabin soon became a tavern, and grew into great prominence and was added to until it was very large. A Mr. Caldwell is said to have been the first to live in it, but he could have been there for only a short time. It was soon occupied by Joseph Potter who came in about 1822. He was born in 1760 and died to 1842.

His wife's name was Rachel and they had the following children the names of whom are given in the order of their birth: Rachel, Jane, Mary, Elizabeth, John, Hannah, Ramsey, Harriet and Jackson. Later it was occupied by Woodward Reynolds of whom mention to given further in this history. In 1851, after it ceased to be a tavern, Daniel Dunham opened a store in the building and did business there until near the outbreak of the Civil War. During that time he made a fortune in merchandise and lumbering. After he moved out the building was gradually torn down and within the next two or three years it was gone.

Daniel Yeomans came to this vicinity about the time of the arrival of Potters.

Jacob Smith also settled in what is now Winslow township, bordering the present line of Henderson township, at about the same time.

John Fuller, and his wife Rebeckah (Cathers) Fuller, the latter from near Clarion, Pennsylvania, moved to what is now Winslow township in 1822. Mr. Fuller was the earliest settler who lived here for any great length of time. He died in 1872 on his farm above Prescottvllle where he and his wife had first settled 50 years before.

In 1826 a negro called Douglas settled in what is now Rathmel and cleared about six acres of land in the upper part. He lived in a log cabin on the township road opposite where the Presbyterian church now stands near the center of town and partly built another cabin at a spring. The latter was never completed but stood half built until during the '50s when it was torn down. It was seen by Isaac London, born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, who gave considerable information for this history. It became known as the "Nigger Spring." It is situated on the east bank of Febley's Run, opposite from where Dutchtown is now located, about 300 yards above the township road, and is the largest spring that empties into the creek.

About 1830 Doctor Clark, of Pittsburgh, began coming to this vicinity every summer to hunt and fish, and he continued this practice for a number of years. He built a cabin near a spring on the old State road a little east of Sandy Valley and it became known as the Doctor's Cabin. It remained standing many years after he left it.

Thomas Reynolds came to what is now Reynoldsville in 1835, and married Juliann Smith, born in Clinton county, New York. He became a prominent citizen, was postmaster, owned a saw mill and tannery and kept the first store to Reynoldsville which he opened about 1845. It was torn down in 1873.

In 1837 David Reynolds, of Kittanning, bought a large tract of land from the Lattimers on which most of Reynoldsville west of Seventh Street now is and on which the cabin then occupied by the Potters stood. He gave it to his son Woodward who, with his newly married wife, he sent here from Kittanning to take possession. Her maiden name was Amelia Rose, born in Worthington,. Armstrong county, Pennsylvania. They found the Potters there. After considerable trouble and the payment of $60 Mr. Reynolds succeeded in inducing them to vacate. He then proceeded to conduct the place himself. He swung a big sign in front of the log cabin at the top of a post similar to the style of tavern signs at that time. It was nearly a yard square and was painted black with big handsome gold letters on both sides, which read "The Sandy Lick Inn, by W. Reynolds." The place was named after the Sandy Lick settlement as the region was then called. The sign was made in Kittanning. It swung to and fro In the wind for many years. On stormy nights travelers stopping at the tavern could hear it creaking on its hinges at intervals from bed time until dawn. In 1850 Mr. Reynolds built a tavern on what is now the northwest corner of Main and Third Streets. It was made of brick dried on the banks of the Sandy Lick Creek the year before. The building is now the oldest in town.

Woodward and Thomas Reynolds were not related. There are now 125 to 150 persons in Reynoldsville and Winslow township who are descendents of these two Reynolds's and their families.

About 184.5 the first settler came to what afterwards was Sandy Valley and built a log cabin there. He was called "Penobscott" Stevens and was from Maine.

The first white person born in what is now Winslow township was Mary Jane, daughter of John and Rebeckah Fuller, born on her father's farm in 1836. She married Julius Doling and died in the township. The first white person born in what is now Reynoldsville was David Reynolds. He was born in his father's log tavern December 28, 1837, and died in Reynoldsville May 30, 1916. He was the son of Woodward and Amelia Reynolds. In the old tavern occurred the first wedding that took place in this region when Martin Staley was married to Elizabeth Sharp, born in Columbia, Pennsylvania. They were joined together by Robert Douthit, Senior, justice of the Peace, January 19, 1843.

The heads of families living in Winslow township in 1845 were Joseph, John and Ramsey Potter, born near Philadelphia; Woodward Reynolds, born to Kittanning; Tilton, William and Thomas Reynolds, born near Chester; Jacob Smith, born near Trade City; Martin Staley, born near Tarentum; George Fye and George and John Boyer, born in Center county; Adam Yohe, from Schuylkill county: Robert and Oliver Cathers, born in Clarion town; Samuel, David and Joshua Rea, born in Clarion county; Robert Douthit, Senior, born in Westmoreland county; and William Johnston, born in Butler; all of Pennsylvania; William Fehley and Andrew McCreight, born in Ireland; Benjamin Clayton and Daniel Yoemans, born in England; Samuel and sons Hiram and George Sprague, from Danville, Vermont; Gilbert Burrows, Lanson Rexford and Mr. Griggs, born in Connecticut; John Fuller born near Elmira and Francis DeLorm, born in Franklin county, New York. Julius Doling and Oliver Welsh also of New York State; and Frank Goodaur, of French descent. In 1845 the entire population of what is now Winslow township was about 200.

The population for 1920 was Reynoldsville borough, 4,116 and Winslow township, 3,569.

The present estimated population of the hamlets in Winslow township are Prescottville 200, Soldier 300, Rathmel 200, Wishaw 375, Sandy Valley 175, and Pardus 100. Hopkins, or Carrier as it was called at one time, was a thriving lumber hamlet for years but now is out of existence. Pancoast, a prosperous mining hamlet once, is no more.

The immigrants who first came to what is now Winslow township were mostly Dutch and Scotch-Irish. The Scotch-Irish dialect entered somewhat into the early language of the first settlers in this region. The Dutch customs and manners are noticeable among Winslow township residents to the, present time. Many of the American born farmers of Dutch descent in this vicinity even now prefer talking in Dutch, that is Pennsylvania Dutch.

The immigrants in this vicinity for many years after the opening of the coal mines in 1874 were mostly English, Irish, Scotch and Welsh. Now Italians, Poles and Slavs predominate. There has always been a large foreign element in Winslow township since 1873 on account of the mines. The immigrants of today from all parts of Europe are far superior to those of long age. Then they were half starved, half clothed, uneducated and downtrodden.. Now they are not. Few negroes have made this their home. At present but one, a man, is permanently located in Reynoldsville. There are no negroes in Winslow township.

Burying the Dead. Cemeteries. Formerly the dead were carried to the cemetery in wagons and sleighs. The first hearse came to Reynoldsville In about 1870. It was brought from Brookville. Coffins were constructed by local carpenters and were generally made of cherry. There were no sextons and the friends dug the graves No rough boxes were used. Boards were laid over the coffins to protect them from the earth that was thrown in. Caskets first made their appearance in Reynoldsville and vicinity during the early '80s.

No doubt the first grave of a white person in what is now Winslow township is a half mile south of the Reynoldsville Cemetery. There is every reason for believing that it contained the body of one of the state engineering corps who surveyed land warrants here in 1785-1795. Now only a head stone remains. Once a footstone was also there. Now only undecipherable markings are found on the stone, but at one time these markings were sufficiently plain to show the date 179-.

Single graves are here and there on many farms in Winslow township. Some of them have been forgotten and others will be in the course of time as new owners come into possession. In a few instances two and three graves can be found together. No Indian graves have ever been discovered here. The oldest cemetery in Winslow township was in Cold Spring Hollow just out of the borough and about 300 yards above the turnpike. The place has long since been plowed over and all traces of the exact location lost. About five bodies were interred in it. The first was about 1837.

In Winslow township there are now 15 cemeteries of which three are private. In these about 4,000 bodies now lie. Fuller's is the oldest graveyard in use. It is private and the first body was buried there in 1840. At present it contains about 50 graves. It is located on the pike above Prescottville. Prospect on the pike near Rathmel is the oldest public burying ground now in use. It has 150 graves. The first was dug in 1842. The more important cemeteries of Winslow township are Beulah, 1876, about 1,200 bodies, Just east of Reynoldsville; Catholic, 1877, about 1,300 bodies, east of the Third ward; Reynoldsville. 1891, about 600 bodies, Punxsutawney road, south of town.

The first accidental death in what afterwards became Winslow township occurred in the summer of 1821 on the turnpike and on the east bank of the Sandy Lick Creek. There was a crew of men chopping down trees that were on the line of the proposed road. In the crew was a young man who was very much afraid of being hit by a tree. His fellow workmen soon discovered this and in a spirit of fun shouted at him to look out for falling trees when none were falling. His fright caused much merriment He soon tired of it. One day he was actually in the way of a tree but when warned paid no attention. It struck and killed him. His body was buried near the spot where he died which was on the east bank of the Sandy Lick Creek about 20 feet above what at present is Main Street. Two logs marked his grave for many years. The place is now covered by the road bed of the Reynoldsville & Falls Creek Railroad.

George Culp was the first raftsman drowned in the Sandy Lick Creek. The accident occurred in the summer of 1848. Others were drowned afterwards.

At one time a cabinet shop stood about 145 feet east of what is the southeast corner of Main and 10th Streets. The front rested on the ground but as it was on a hill the rear was held up by posts. One night in November, 1850, the room was packed with people who had gathered to attend a religious meeting. As the building was not erected for that purpose the Joists were not strong enough to hold the weight and the floor caved in forming a funnel into which the people rolled and a red hot stove fell on them. Many were badly burned. Some recovered but five died from the effects.

Railroads have been the cause of a number losing their lives though up to this time no passengers have been killed in the township. Many fatal accidents have occurred in the mines.

Charles Chase was hanged in Brookville in 1867 for the murder of old Betty McDonald in the Beechwoods. He was the first person executed in Jefferson county. His remains were brought to the Burns house, in Reynoldsville, by wagon and his mother came here from her home to meet them. Old citizens can remember when she had the coffin opened and she and others viewed the body. The marks of the rope with which he was hanged showed very plainly on his neck.

In the region which this history covers eight homicides have been committed up to this time. Two of them occurred in Reynoldsville.

Influenza became epidemic throughout the United States in October, 1918. During that month 39 persons died in Reynoldsville, 35 in Soldier and 78 to Wishaw. In the latter town all, but 10 of the population of less than 400 had the disease. The central school building in Reynoldsville and the school building in Wishaw were used as hospitals during the epidemic.

Organization of Jefferson County and of Winslow Township. In 1682 after William Penn came to what is now Pennsylvania. He established the present Commonwealth and erected the three counties of Bucks, Philadelphia, and Chester. Chester county extended over the entire western part of the Colony and included what is now Winslow township, making this section once a part of Chester county. May 10, 1729, Lancaster county was erected, having been formed from a part of Cheater county. Winslow township as it was afterwards known, then became a part of Lancaster county. January 27, 1750, Cumberland county was erected, having been formed from a part of Lancaster county, and the region now Winslow township then became a part of Cumberland county. March 9, 1771, Bedford county was erected, having been formed from a part of Cumberland county. Winslow township as it is now then became a part of Bedford county. March 27, 1772, Northumberland county was erected, having been formed from Bedford and other counties. Winslow township, to be, next was a part of Northumberland county. April 13, 1796, Lycoming county was erected, having been formed from Northumberland county, and the spot afterwards Winslow township was then a part of Lycoming county. March 26, 1804, Jefferson county was erected, having been formed from Lycoming county, making the place now Winslow township a part of Jefferson county, and there it has remained. The land now Winslow township, since the organization of Pennsylvania in 1682 to the present time, has been in all, in the seven counties of Chester, Lancaster, Cumberland, Bedford, Northumberland, Lycoming and Jefferson. Jefferson county was named after Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States at the time of its erection. It now contains an area of 708 miles. When Jefferson county was formed it had no county town and Indiana, Indiana county, then served as such for this county. In 1830 Brookville became the county seat of Jefferson county.

Winslow township was erected February 11, 1846, and was named in honor of Honorable James Winslow, Associate Judge of Jefferson county that year. The first election was held April 6, following. The northern part was formed from Washington which, in 1839, was formed from Pine Creek township. The section where Reynoldsville is now located at different times has been in Winslow, Washington and Pine Creek townships. The southwestern section of Winslow was formed from Young, which was formed from Perry in 1826, and Perry was formed from Pine Creek township in 1818. Another part of the southwestern section of Winslow was formed from Gaskill which in turn was formed from Young township in 1842. The different sections of Winslow have been parts of Washington, Gaskill, Young, Perry and Pine Creek township. Pine Creek township was erected by an act of the legislature passed in 1806 and comprised the entire county. It was formed from Pine Creek township which first covered this entire region in 1772 when this became Northumberland county.

Doctor William J. McKnight, in A Pioneer History of Tefferson County, Pennsylvania, p. 493, says: "It appears on the records of the county that prior to or about the year 1839 a township was organized and known from 1839 until 1842 as Paradise. From the names embraced in the officers elected in the township the territory must have included all of what is now Gaskill, Bell, Henderson, McCalmont and a part of Winslow. It disappeared from the records of the county as mysteriously as it appeared. Pioneer election in Paradise township in 1839; second election in 1840; third election 1842."

Sykesville borough was formed from Winslow township March 7, 1907.

Mails. Post Offices. Reynoldsville Named. The first mail that passed through where Winslow township is now located was on a route established in 1805 and James Randolph of Meadville was the first contractor. It was carried on horse back between Bellefonte and Meadville over the old State road. The nearest post offices were Curwensville and Meadville. The mail was carried on that route until the completion of the turnpike in 1824. According to an advertisement of June 10, 1823, once a week service route 168, Bellefonte to Meadville, began January 1, 1824, but the records are not very complete at the Post Office Department in Washington on account of a fire occurring there in 1836. From 1816 to 1846 the postage on a single letter under 40 miles was eight cents; over 40 and under 90 miles, 10 cents; under 300 miles 17 cents. Until during the '30s produce was often taken and credit extended for postage.

In January, 1836, mail began passing over the pike, according to an advertisement, from "Philadelphia by way of Harrisburg, Lewistown and Bellefonte every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in a four horse coach. From Erie, by way of Meadville and Franklin, every Monday. Wednesday and Friday and returning the same day in a four horse stage."

The mails continued going through Reynoldsville between Clarion and Curwensville over the pike until October 20, 1880, and was star route Number 8686. It was 56 miles long and ran daily. But mail has been delivered by rail from since the advent of the Allegheny Valley Railroad which first brought passengers here from the west November 5, 1873, and from the east May 4, 1874.

The pioneers in this vicinity were obliged to go to Brookville and Luthersburg for their mail. The first post office in Winslow township was established at Prospect Hill, May 18, 1842, and Tilton Reynolds was appointed postmaster. In 1849 he brought it down in a cigar box to what afterwards was the upper part of Reynoldsville, and gave it to his brother Thomas. Near where the old post office was located another was established during the Civil War called Dollingville, but it was abolished a few years after.

The Post Office Department paid no attention to the change of Prospect Hill post office for sometime. One day the following letter was received:


(Appointment Office)

Washington, D. C., February 23, 1850.


I have the honor to inform you that the Postmaster General has this day changed the name of the Post Office at Prospect Hill to Reynoldsville in the county of Jefferson, State of Pennsylvania, and continuing Thomas Reynolds postmaster thereof.

FIJTZ HENRY WARREN, 2nd Asst. P. M. General.


That letter did double duty of formally announcing the official naming of the place and the appointment of the postmaster. Thomas Reynolds had called the locality Reynoldsville as early as 1845 when the only habitations in this vicinity were his own log cabin where he had just begun to keep a little store about 76 feet below what is now the south side of Main Street and about 203 yards east of 10th, and Woodward Reynolds' log tavern near the Sandy Lick Creek on the turnpike three-quarters of a mile west. Reynoldsville appeared on a map of Jefferson county made in 1846.

Mail is now received and sent out from the Reynoldsville post office over the Pennsylvania Railroad east and west, over the trolley lines to Sykesville and Punxsutawney, and by four rural delivery routes. The first route was commenced in October, 1904. Three mail carriers first began the delivery of mails in Reynoldsville borough August 2, 1920.

The post office at Sandy Valley was established August 20, 1872, Sykesvile October 8, 1883 and Rathmel November 27, 1883. The more recently established offices in the township are Soldier, Wishaw and Pardus. Post offices abandoned in Winslow township in recent years were Hopkins, Pancoast, Vantassel at Deemer's Crossroads and Prescottvllle.

Military. In the early spring of 1814 a detachment of soldiers under the command of Major William McClelland marched through what was afterwards Winslow township. His troops were from Franklin county and were on their way to Fort Erie to defend it against the British. The soldiers started March 4th and were 28 days on their journey. The command consisted of one major, three captains, five lieutenants, two ensigns, and 221 privates. They traveled on the old State road and encamped over night in what afterwards became Winslow township about half a mile west of the Jefferson-Clearfield county line near the head waters of what later was known as the North Branch of Soldier Run, it having been named after the soldiers. On the following day they marched to Port Barnett.

Training day was conducted annually by the State at the county seats. It was held in Brookville during court week in September. The first was soon after the place became a county seat in 1880 and it continued until the Civil War. All men of military age went from what is now Reynoldsville and elsewhere in the county and drilled. They were accompanied by most of the population including the women and children. It was a great event. There were much drunkenness and lighting. During the last decade attendance could be evaded by paying a nominal tax and many took advantage of it.

Immediately after the war with Mexico some United States soldiers who had been in it passed along the turnpike and stopped over night at Woodward Reynolds' log cabin.

When the Civil War broke out a large number of men from Winslow township entered various military organizations but mostly in the 105th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers and Company H of that organization. The Congressional district of which Winslow township for many years was a part covered a very large wild and wooded territory and was called the "Wild Cat District." When the 105th Regiment was organized, its recruits were nearly all taken from the district and it was called the "Wild Cat Regiment."

Reynoldsville during the war was almost deserted and old men and the women and children who were its residents were kept in a constant state of excitement by news from the South. The post office at Thomas Reynolds' log store was constantly besieged at mail time by anxious people waiting to receive letters giving tidings from those dear to them who were at the front. After every battle the excitement was intense. The news was almost always slow in coming which added to the anxiety. Too often the letters told of one or more who had been killed, severely wounded or taken prisoner and homes became places of mourning and the entire community was made sad. Those days of anxious waiting were only surpassed in excitement by the sorrowful departure of the boys for the army, or by their glad welcome home when the conflict was over. But many never came back and others returned crippled.

The soldiers from Winslow township, which at that time Included Reynoldsville, who lost their lives while in the service during the Civil War, were the following who belonged to the 105th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers: John Kuhn, Company H, died; James A. Johnston, Company F, killed; George Winkleman, Company H, died; Hiram P. Sprague, Company H, killed; Lieutenant George W. Crosby, Company H, killed; John W. Rea, Company H, died; Joseph Rutter, Company H, killed; Captain John C. Conser, Company H, killed; Sergeant Joseph F. Green, Company H, died in prison; Hugh Conn, Company H, died; Peter Sharp, Company H, killed; Daniel G. Carl, Company H, killed; George Howlett, Company H, killed; Sergeant Irwin R. Long, Company H, died; and the following from other organizations: Samuel Reynolds, Company I, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers, died; Noah Wensell, Company I, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers, died; John B. Clough, Company K, 11th Pennsylvania Reserves, died; and John Sheasley, Company K. 11th Pennsylvania Reserves, died in prison.

During the Rebellion party feeling was bitter, and though a large number of people were loyal to the North a few were not.

From the beginning until the end of the Civil War men passed through Reynoldsville to the front or were returning home from the army. No organized company went by but once and that was in 1864. They were after deserters a few of whom had passed this way.

In April, 1865, five cavalrymen rode through here going west. They were in search of Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln. The soldiers found the man they were after but he proved not to be Booth though there was a resemblance.

The Civil War greatly modernized the whole county and more especially backwoods districts like Winslow township. Young men left for the army who had been in the wilderness all of their lives and knew nothing of the vast nation in which they lived. When they returned home after three of four years of military life a new world had been opened to them. Their conception of affairs became much more comprehensive and their experiences effected those who remained at home. Their primitive ways were set aside and more modern ones adopted. Everything was changed for the better.

About 78 Reynoldsville men formed a cavalry company in 1876 and drilled for three months. They went to Brookville on July 4th and won a prize.

A number of Reynoldsville young men enlisted in the army during the Spanish-American War. Atmore Shaffer, of Reynoldsville, entered the service and was in several battles in the Philippines during the insurrection. He and his regiment were also with the allied forces who marched to Peking, China, during the Boxer uprising in 1900. Many Reynoldsville young men have seen service in both the United States regular army and navy.

During the Boer War, in 1901, over 250 mules were sent from Winslow township to South Africa for the use of the British Government.

Italians left here and joined their country's army in the Turko Italian War in Tripoli in 1912. Greeks from Reynoldsville joined the Greek army and fought in the Turko-Greek and in the Balkan War which followed.

Quite a number of citizens of foreign countries living in Reynoldsville and vicinity left for their native homes and joined the colors in 1914-1915 during the World War.

In 1917, after the United States had entered the World War, about 130 men enlisted from Reynoldsville and about 120 from Winslow township. Of this number about half were sent to France. The following from Reynoldsville died in the service: John Anderson died at Camp Lee, Virginia; Charles DeHart died of typhoid fever in a hospital in Ancy-la-France; Christopher Lath died at home from the effects of being gassed in action in the Argonne Forest; Fred Mohney killed in action at Chateau-Thierry; Ancell McMullen killed in action at Chateau-Thierry; Fred Wheeler died at Camp Sherman, Ohio; Guy Wells killed at the aviation camp, Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas; and James Woodring died in the training school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The following from Winslow township died in the service; Mlllaered T. Alderton, township, killed in action in the Argonne Forest; John Coxson, township, wounded at Chateau-Thierry, taken prisoner and died in a German hospital in Bremen; John Laird, Wishaw, wounded at Chateau-Thierry and died in a base hospital; Thomas Maxwell, Rathmel, killed in action in the Argonne Forrest; Richard Nesbet, Soldier Mine, died at camp Lee, Virginia.

A Navy League and a Red Cross were organized in Reynoldsville during the war which supplied soldiers with comforts and the army hospitals with numerous articles. Frequent "drives" were made in which Reynoldsville and vicinity raised its quota of money for war contributions.

Every time a squad of young men left for the training camps to join the army they were honored with demonstrations consisting of bands playing, marching and farewell speeches. All during and for some time after the war young men in uniform were common sights.

Making Maple Molasses and Sugar. One of the earlier occupations In Winslow township was the making of maple molasses and sugar. It was the only marketable product of the early settlers, for at that time this was a dense forest. Everybody made all they needed for their own use with much to spare, and it was all they had to sell to the outside world. It enabled them to get their groceries from the merchants. Some of the settlers paid for their farms from the profits made in the manufacture of molasses and sugar. As the country to the north was a maple sugar district a market was found to the south in Armstrong and other countries, while some went as far along the pike as Philadelphia. Every farmer in what is now Winslow township had sugar maple trees and made molasses and sugar. A few had large sugar camps.

The first sugar made in what is now Winslow township was in 1825, and the first camp was owned by John Fuller in 1840 and was located on his farm just above Prescottvilie. Sugar making as a business was at its best from about 1845 to 1850. It was important afterwards though less was made from year to year until soon after the Civil War when it had nearly disappeared. The trees were, eventually, all cut down to make farming possible.

SOURCE:  Pages 26-44, History of Reynoldsville and Vicinity Including Winslow Township by Ward C. Elliott. Punxsutawney, Spirit Publishing Company, 1922


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