Early Customs. The Introduction of Inventions. The early settlers of Winslow township as a class, on account of the lack of opportunity, were very poor and had little education, yet they possessed the same natural ability of the people of today. Their environments made them strong and healthy and, not mingling with the outside world, they knew but little of its wickedness.
The dialect of the people of the township prior to 1865 and especially before 1840, while not marked would be noticeable now were it used. The broad speech of the first Philadelphia travelers attracted much attention when spoken here.
William J. McKnight's Pioneer History of Jefferson County, pp. 153-160, says:
"Pioneer Dress of Men: Moccasin shoes, buckskin breeches, blue broadcloth coats and brass buttons, fawn skin vests, roundabouts, and woolen warmuses, leather or woolen gallowses, coon or seal skin caps in winter with chip or oat straw hat for summer. Every neighborhood had then usually one itinerant shoemaker and tailor, who periodically visited cabins and made up oboes or clothes as required. All material had to be furnished and the itinerant mechanics worked for 50 cents a day and board. Corduroy pants and overalls were common.
"The warmuses, breeches and hunting shirts of the men, the linsey petticoats, dresses, and bedgowns of the women, were all hung in some corner of the cabin on wooden pegs.
"Pioneer Dress of Women: Home made woolen cloth, tow linen, linsey-Woolsey, etc. Barefooted girls walked three or four miles to church, when, on nearing it, they would step into the bushes to put on a pair of shoes they carried with them. Every married woman of any refinement then wore day caps and nightcaps. The bonnets were beaver, gimp, leghorn, and sun-bonnets. Women usually went barefooted in the summer and in winter covered their feet with moccasin, calf skin shoes, buffalo overshoes and shoe packs.
"The home of the pioneer in Jefferson county was a log cabin, one story high, chinked and daubed, having a fireplace in one end, with a chimney built of sticks and mud, and in a corner always stood a big wooden poker to turn backlogs or punch the fire. These cabins were usually small, but some were perhaps 20 by 33 feet, with a hole cut in two logs for a window, oiled paper being used for glass. They had puncheon floors, and a clapboard roof held down by weight poles to protect them from the storm. Wooden pegs were driven in the logs for the wardrobe, the rifle, and the powder horn. Wooden benches and stools were a luxury upon which to rest or sit while feasting on mush and milk, buckwheat cakes, hog and hominy.
"The furniture for the table of the pioneer log cabin consisted of pewter dishes, plates and spoons, or wooden bowls, plates and noggins. If noggins were scarce, gourds and hard-shelled squashes answered for drinking cups.
"Of pests in and around the old cabin the house fly, the bed bug, and the louse were the most common on the inside, the gnat, the wood tick, and the horse fly on the outside. It was a constant fight for life with man, cattle, and horses against the gnat, the tick and the horsefly, and if it had not been for the protection of what were called 'gnat fires,' life could not have been sustained or at least it would have been unendurable. The only thing to dispel the outside pests was to clear the land and let in the sunshine, As an all around pest in the cabin and out day and night, the flea was the worst.
"Pioneer Food. Buckwheat cakes, mush and scone, corn mush and milk, wheat and rye-mush, wheat and rye bread, corn pones, corn cakes, hominy, potatoes, turnips, wild onions or wramps, wild meats, wild birds, fish, wild fruit, sweet and buttermilk, boiled and thickened, doughnuts, and baked pot pies. Everything was either boiled or baked. Soda was made by burning corncobs.
"Pioneer Meats. Hogs, bears, elks, deer, rabbits, squirrels and woodchucks. The saddles or ham of deer were salted by the pioneer, then smoked and dried. This was a great luxury and could be kept all the year around.
"Fruits. Apples, crabapples, wild, red and yellow plums, blackberries, huckleberries, elderberries, wild strawberries, choke cherries and wild gooseberries.
"Sweets. Domestic and wild honey, maple sugar, maple molasses, and corn-cob molasses.
"Drink. Metheglin, a drink made from honey, whisky, small beer, rye, coffee, buttermilk and fern, sassafras, sage and mint teas.
"Foot racing, wrestling, and jumping matches were common. The jumping matches consisted of a single jump, backward jump, high jump, three jumps, and running hop, step and jump."
At weddings in Winslow township previous to 1850, the friends left the cabin of the bride on horseback just before the ceremony and met the groom about half way and returned with him. A Justice of the Peace always officiated because clergymen lived in towns far away. A dance followed. The next day an infare took place at the home of the groom and the frolic was similar to that at the home of the bride.
The first regular cook stove was brought here in 1843 though the old 10 plate stove invented many years before was used here previously for heating. Cooking had been done in front of big fire places. Pots and kettles were swung over the fire from a crane.
Often a log three feet thick and three or four feet long was rolled through the big door of Woodward Reynolds' old log tavern and into the fire where it burned for several days.
Lucifer matches were first brought to Winslow township about 1846, but it was not until 10 years thereafter that they were generally used. Previously fires were kindled by the aid of flint and punk. People kept them banked to their homes both summer and winter. Sometimes when the fire had gone out and flint and punk were not at hand, a member of the family went to a neighbor's house, occasionally half a mile away, and returned with coals of fire on a shovel.
When Winslow township was new every one drank intoxicating liquor, even clergymen. Women imbibed quite freely. No one thought it wrong. Anyone could sell it and nearly everyone in a mercantile business did. No social gathering, where men were present was thought complete without liquor. After 1850 stringent laws commenced to be made which regulated the sales. Whisky was the drink of the harvest field until about the time of the Civil War when the custom ceased, but it was drunk for some time after at log rollings and barn railings.
For two years and a half during 1873-1874 and 1876 no liquor licenses existed in Reynoldsville. But there was no strong temperance sentiment and liquor was sold illegally. February 3, 1916, Judge Charles Corbel refused to grant any liquor license in Jefferson county for 1916, and intoxicating liquor was last sold legally in Reynoldsville and vicinity as a beverage February 16, 1916.
Previous to 1850 people in Winslow township did the spinning for their own garments and they were made into cloth by a local weaver. Blankets, footwear and the like, as well as clothes for men women and children, were all manufactured at home. After 1850 machines in the factories drove out the homespun garments.
The first doctor in Winslow towaship lived on Prospect Hill. His name was Doctor Harris and he resided there in 1849-1851. Then they were always called doctors, never physicians. He gathered all of his own herbs and made his medicine from receipts. The next was Doctor Crawford, a regular physician, who was located here for a short time in 1860. Often the sick in this locality were treated by Brookville physicians. About 1867 Jacob Crowell, who lived on the pike just east of where the Rathmel Junction now is, had his left leg amputated as the result of a sore. That was the first major surgical operation performed in Winslow township. John McHugh, a brakeman on the Allegheny Valley Railroad, whose arm was terribly mangled in the first wreck which occurred just east of Brookville November 16, 1873, was taken to The Reynolds Hotel on Main and Third Streets. His arm was amputated which was the first major surgical operation performed in Reynoldsvile.
Flintlock guns and no other fire arms were used in Winslow township until about 1853. Caps were then employed. Cartridges were not in use in guns until during, the Civil War. Bullets were made in molds until 1850.
Daguerrotypes, the first photographs, made their appearance in about 1855 when people went to Brookville and got their photographs. Tintypes followed, and then pictures on cards. The first photographs taken here were in about 1865 by photographers who traveled in cars and remained a week or more at each place. The first permanent photograph gallery was established in Reynoldsville in 1875.
Until the Civil War and for a short time after loans of both large and small amounts were made without issuing notes and agreements were entered into involving quite large sums of money without written contracts. The loans and contracts were made verbally and in the presence of witnesses. Deeds of land were made in writing.
Many Spanish and a few French coins were in general circulation when this locality was first settled. "Shinplasters" of the old State banks, which though good one day might be worthless the next on account of the banks which issued them having failed, made their appearance during the '50s. After the Civil War began they disappeared and national paper money came. Fractional currency of five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 50 cents appeared with notes of larger denominations. But in a few years the government ceased issuing paper money of small amounts and finally it was gone.
Counterfeit bills were circulated and in about 1862 there is said to have been more bad money here than good. At about that time and for a few years after merchant's script given by storekeepers and payable in merchandise was issued but it would pass only within a short distance from where it was paid out.
Until during the Civil War much was received in exchange and long credits were given for merchandise. Settlements were often made only once a year, generally upon the return of the customer from Pittsburgh after the rafting season when he had money he received for his timber.
The first wall paper in Winslow township was used in Prescottville in 1859. Previously walls and ceilings were whitewashed.
About 1860 the first window shades came in use. They were made of paper and were decorated with highly colored flowers, peacocks, scenes or some other design.
The latchstring went out of general use in dwellings in Winslow township in about 1860. One end was fastened to the latch on the inside to be pulled by anyone who wished to enter. Drawing the latchstring was equivalent to locking the door.
No young man in Winslow township was enough of a dandy to wear a collar until during the Civil Was when the more dressy wore paper collars with red striped flannel shirts and no cravats. Men wore homespun warmness tied with strings, linsy-wooleey pants-bone, with numerous patches, tucked in heavy cowhide boots, and anything that would do for a hat until 1861. Their clothes were generally gray or butternut brown. Until during the Civil War most men wore full, untrimmed beards and mustaches, and their hair was allowed to grow in the winter. By the time it was cut in the spring it often reached to their shoulders. The shaving and hair-cutting of many men was done when in Pittsburgh where they went with loge. Women and girls dressed very plainly until after the Civil War.
The first ice was stored in Reynoldsville in 1863 and the people were surprised to see ice in August. Ice was first manufactured to Reynoldsville In 1915.
The first sewing machine was brought to Winslow township In 1864 and was called the Dolly Varden. It was small, had a chain stitch, ran by hand and was fastened on an ordinary table. The first foot power machine on its own table came a few years later.
The first melodeon was brought here after the outbreak of the Rebellion. Organs soon followed. The first piano came in 1873. A pipe organ was put in the Baptist church of Reynoldsville in 1904, the Methodist Episcopal church in 1906, the Presbyterian church in 1908 and the Catholic church in 1911.
Though in this locality in the past men never fought with knives or revolvers they often used their fists. Fighting was always considered honorable and was common. One who would not defend his rights by physical force was looked upon as a coward. Men building the Allegheny Valley Railroad In 1878-1873, and the woodsmen, or "woodshicks" when they came to town fought often. Fights also occurred at logging bees, and most any place else where men congregated, and no one was arrested. Since 1880 fighting has been practically unknown through public sentiment disapproving it and the enforcement of the law.
Gambling became common in Reynoldsville about the end of the Civil War when money first began to be plentiful, but it was carried on more in 1872-1873 when the Allegheny Valley Railroad was being constructed. It continued extensively for 10 or 15 years thereafter. Many had acquired the habit in the army during the Rebellion. Some were professionals who did nothing but play here and in nearby towns. Often men went from Reynoldsville to neighboring communities to take part in or to witness important games with big stakes. Visitors came here for the same purpose. Poker was played mostly though seven up was common. No arrests were made here for gambling then. At different times gambling places were conducted in various back rooms on lower Main Street, and the managers received a percentage of the money bet.
Parlors became numerous in Reynoldsville - soon after 1870 when this place suddenly grew into a town. Although the walls had been papered for some years the ceilings were whitewashed. An ingrain carpet was on the floor and underneath it was a layer of straw an inch or more deep. The furniture generally consisted of a half dozen pieces upholstered in haircloth or rep. Tidies covered the arms and backs. A mahogany, black walnut, or marble-topped center table was in the room. On it were a large family bible, two or three books of poems, a large plush photograph album with two large shining brass clasps containing photographs which were always shown to visitors, and an autograph album which contained the handwriting of the friends of the family. Underneath were a stereopticon and views. An organ or square piano stood next to the wall. Lying on the instrument was a pile of music which generally contained the following popular songs of the day: "Captain Jenks," "Paddle Your Own Canoe," "Gathering Shells From the Sea Shore," "Good-by Liza Jane;" "Digging Dusky Diamonds," "Up in a Balloon Boys," and "I Love to Take a Ramble." Silvered glass vases and plaster of parts busts sat on the wall brackets and mantle. Dried grasses and flowers were often in the vases. A handsome parlor oil lamp furnished the light. A low, square, open cast iron highly polished mentor stove gave the beat though open fireplaces were common. A whatnot sat in the comer on which were geological specimens, curios, shells, corals and so on. In the early '70s a long string of buttons collected by the girl of the home from her friends may have lain on it. Hanging on the wall were gilt and black walnut framed chromos, besides pressed leaves and ferns, photographs, a marriage certificate and wreathes of artificial flowers in frames. Steel and wood engravings of Washington, Lincoln or Grant in oval frames were often seen. The motto, "God Bless Our Home," was above the door. A large, tall minor in a large gilt frame frequently leaned against the wall. A plaster of parts dog sat on the floor.
The door was closed and the room darkened by drawing the green window shades when the parlor was not occupied, which was most of the time, although it was generally the best located room in the house. It was always in perfect order and had a general air of stiffness. Everything appeared new and unused and in the winter It was always cold, showing that it was seldom entered. When opened it had a musty odor because of not having been aired for a long while. It was used when the pastor called, who always prayed with the family, visitors from a distance came, a big dinner or evening party was given, or at a funeral or wedding. In some homes the young lady of the household was permitted to entertain her gentleman friends within its sacred walls. This style of parlor remained popular for about 16 years and was to be found for a long time after.
The first musical organization in Reynoldsville was The Silver Cornet Band and it came into existence in 1873. It ultimately disorganized. In 1880 a new band, composed mostly of the members of the old, was formed and was known as The Keystone Band. That organization was dormant several times and ceased to exist in 1909. Various bands have been organized here since then and have gone out of existence. Two men who were members of The Silver Comet Band since became members of Congress. Their names are Honorable William O. Smith and Honorable James A. Tawney.
Honorable James A. Tawney, of Minnesota, for many years members of Congress and at one time chairman of the very important Ways and Means committee lived in Reynoldsville in 1875-1876. He worked in a machine shop, since burned, located on the lower side of West Main Street a short distance west of the Sandy Lick Creek.
The Prescottville Cornet Band was organized at Prescottville in 1883. It prospered for a decade and then went out of existence.
The first mowing machines were used in Winslow township about 1875 and other farming machinery followed. Farms were so covered with stumps at that time that farmers were slow to use them.
The first typewriter was brought to Reynoldsville In 1889. It was Calagraph and was used in the office of The Bell, Lewis & Yates Coal Mining Company.
The first talking machine heard in Reynoldsville was publicly exhibited in 1890.
The first moving pictures seen in this place were shown in 1896.
The first wireless telegraph station was erected here for receiving messages only in December, 1914. It was privately owned. The first spoken words heard here by a wireless telephone was on November 6, 1921.
The use of electrical power in shops and other business places and in private residences began here, practically, in about 1919, when a new system of electrical power was inaugurated.
Tent Shows. Indoor Entertainments. Theatrical Troupe. Tent shows formerly started at Philadelphia and passed through what is now Winslow township to the northwestern part of the State. At that time America's greatest showmen went by and as large shown traveled this region then, when it was a wilderness, as came through many years later. These shows pitched their tents at Luthersburg and Brookville usually passing through here, which was midway, between eight and nine o'clock in the morning. Most tent shows which drove this way then are said to have come from New England.
The first show to go through where Winslow township now is was Harrison's Menagerie which went over the old State road to Meadville in 1819. It had an elephant, a lion and smaller wild beasts. The first to go over the turnpike was in 1829 and it showed at Port Barnett. Neither Reynoldsville nor Brooksville existed then. It was a small menagerie and with it were an elephant, a lion, and a few smaller wild animals. An elephant and other beasts passed by here in a menagerie in 1832. Van Amburg's Menagerie in 1845 went through and was about the most important show of that time. It had a long procession of highly colored wagons. There was a big elephant called Columbus, besides numerous camels and other animals. Rivers & Dartes' Circus was the next of importance. It traveled by, in 1851. In 1857 came Dan Rice, the greatest clown this country has ever produced, with his circus. Adam Forepaugh's immense circus and menagerie went through in 1869. Montgomery Queen's Circus came next in about 1871. Spring was late and there was much rain. The roads were very muddy all along the route. Farmers' horses were hired to assist in moving the great heavy wagons which sunk in the April mud to the hub. Elephants aided in pushing the heavier ones. It arrived in Brookville a couple of days behind time.
The first tent show to exhibit in Reynoldsville was Whitby & Company's Circus which came in about 1867 and pitched its tent near the northwest corner of what to now 10th and Worth Streets. The second, a small Indian show, had, for its chief attraction, Sir Henry, the most famous horse in America. Baird, Howard & Company's circus showed on the flats along the Sandy Lick Creek June 22, 1874. The first balloon ascension ever made here was on that day at the circus ground. In about 1876 Dan Rice, then a very old man, came with a show which exhibited on the same flats. Ringling Brothers' show visited here one time. It was small then, though now it is one of the largest in the world.
There was a big circus and menagerie on the flats just referred to in about 1877. The partners had trouble concerning the collection of money for concert tickets when, in the tent and in the presence of a vast audience, one of them drew a revolver and aimed it at the head of the other whose wife, a beautiful woman, threw herself between the two, and prevented the shooting. Had she not done so her husband would surely have been killed if hit. Had the ball missed him it would have killed a child, now a woman, who was in direct range. The two men dissolved partnership a short time after leaving here.
The earliest entertainments which came to this section were puppet, ventriloquist, magic lantern and sleight of hand shows. The first indoor exhibition to visit here came in about 1845, and for many years shows were held in private houses, blacksmith shops, hotels and schoolhouses. One winter in about 1859, a puppet show was given in the schoolhouse on the north side of East Main Street near what is now the borough line. A play entitled "Babes in the Woods" was rendered by puppets in which birds came and covered the children with leaves. A lecturer explained the play as it proceeded.
The first drama played in Reynoldsville was produced by the Clara Wildman troup, a traveling company, July 14, 1874, in Gordon's Hall. The hall was situated on the south side of Main, east of Fourth Street, about half way to Swamp Alley, and was burned during the big fire August 26, 1875. Numerous theatrical productions were rendered there. The Reynolds Opera House was opened by The J. K. Stoddard Company August 14 and 15, 1875. One evening in the winter of 1878 while the Methodists were holding services there and the room was crowded a panic was started by a false alarm, caused by someone who feared the floor would give way and had warned his friends. A mad rush was made for the door and down the stairs to the exit on the first floor. Fortunately two men were cool enough to stand in the entrance and remonstrate with the crowd as they came to the head of the stairs. In that manner the people were held back until everyone was given time to get out in safety. Otherwise scores would have been wounded and killed in a human mass that would surely have been piled up at the foot of the stairway. That playhouse did good service until it ceased to be used as such in 1906. The building was burned June 29, 1915. It was on the southwest corner of Main and Third Streets.
The Centennial Hall was erected in 1876 on the northwest corner of Main and Fourth Streets and has been used for lectures, political meetings, conventions, educational entertainments, religious services and so on. the skating rink on the northeast comer of Main and Fifth Streets, the leading attraction at the time, was built in 1884 and tom down later. Assembly Hall, to the public school building, has been used for much the same purpose as The Centennial Hall. Moving picture theatres first made their appearance in 1906. The Adelphia, a modern theater, on the north side of Main between Fourth Street and Swamp Alley to the east, was opened April 7, 1910, by the drama "A Gentleman from Mississippi."
Social Life. Social life in this vicinity began at the opening of the turnpike in 1824 when tollgate keepers were the only people living along the road. They visited back and forth and entire families drove 12 miles to the next neighbor's, ate supper, spent the evening and returned home. Brookville and Luthersburg, a few years later, were the nearest towns to visit. In the early '50s, when the country along the road became a little more settled, there were backwoods dances and parties of various kinds. There being no gradation, of social standing anyone who behaved himself was just as good as another. The customs of the people were most simple and primitive.
There was far more dancing then than now. The cotillion, French four, and Scottish were the most popular dances, though the Virginia reel, lancers and others were danced. When there was no dancing the young people had kisses or play parties as they were called. The older ones watched the young for both old and young attended.
Other social events took place at corn huskings, logrollings, maple sugar boilings, choppings, barn raisings, apple butter boilings, apple parings, scutchings, sewings and quiltings. The young men worked outdoors and the young women in, at a neighbor's home all day long. Supper followed and then for a "dance all night till broad day light and go home with the girls in the morning." The last dance frequently took place in the bright morning sun. Spelling bees and singing schools were very popular but taking the girls home after it was over was even more so. Church festivals, socials, fairs, or anything else of a social nature In connection with a church was unknown in Winslow township until about 1860.
Probably the most remarkable social event in Reynoldsville was the grand house warming of Archie Campbell at the opening of The Sandy Lick Hotel on the southeast corner of Main and Seventh Streets Christmas eve, 1865. People came from miles around. The young men were just from the army and in for the roughest fun. The dancing, which took place on the first floor continued until daybreak and a neighboring musician played the "fiddle." The whisky was taken. The liquor was stolen from the thieves. Someone else carried off the turkey. Another hit Archie in the ear with a handful of cold potato. The supper was served on the second floor, to the guests, in relays. They emptied butter, potato, coffee and other food together. A ham bone lay at each end of the table. The male guests began throwing them back and forth between the two rows of people upsetting the gravy and other things, and then into that hall. Finally one was thrown down the stairway and back again several times causing everyone to dodge who was in its path. At least a bone was thrown at the host with great violence, just missing his head. There was a rough house all that night but everyone had lots of fun of the wildest kind. It has since been called "Lanigan's Ball" after the old song.
Outdoor Meeting. Picnics. Crowds. The first gathering worthy of note which occurred in the open air in Winslow township was a picnic in about 1850, above the turnpike on the hill east of Beech Street. Others were held from year to year, but the next of importance was inter-denominational and took place July 4, 1861, on the south bank of Soldier Run east of 10th Street. Speeches were made and the war, which had just begun, was discussed. July 4, 1863, a Baptist picnic which was largely attended, was given in the woods along the south bank of the Sandy Lick Creek north of Bradford and Thompson Streets. The war was the main topic of the speakers and all who attended. It was the day after the Gettysburg battle about which the people bad all heard and eagerly discussed. Then July 4th was the one day for large gatherings.
In 1867 the first ball club in Winslow township, The Boomerangs, was organized in Reynoldsville. The members were mostly young-men out of the army. They had games in Punxsutawney, Luthersburg, Brookville and other neighboring towns. At home the club played on a diamond situated between Main and Grant Streets and near what is now the site of the Baptist church between Fifth and Sixth Streets. Immense crowds for those days, witnessed them play.
In the summer of 1874 one of the greatest political demonstrations ever held in Reynoldsville took place in a field near what is now the southwest corner of 10th and Jackson Streets. The event was a Republican ox roast. Governor Hartranft was present and made a speech.
September 1, 1881, there was a reunion of the 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers which was attended by a large crowd of people. It was held on the hill on Grant between Seventh and Eighth Street. About 300 Civil War veterans attended, the largest number of old soldiers ever here at one time.
July 4, 1890, the Patriotic Order Sons of America and the Order United American Mechanics, two patriotic societies, held a celebration. The crowd was very large. The historic parade was unique. Characters in costume rode on floats and represented American history from the landing of Columbus. The display of fireworks in the evening was never equaled in Reynoldsville.
The greatest concourse of people ever in Reynoldsville was during Old Home Week, August 19-24, 1907. Immense crowds congregated here every day, and on Thursday afternoon, the 22nd, 15,000 people are estimated to have been on lower Main Street at one time. It is said that as large a crowd had seldom gathered together before in this section of the State.
Schools. Books and newspapers were few in these backwoods when the first settlers were here. Naturally most of the people were ignorant and superstitious. For many years the schools were of little importance.
The first schoolhouse built in what is now Winslow township was in 1836. It was located in Prescottville about 80 yards above the turnpike, a few rods west of Soldier Run, and was used until about 1842. Thomas Reynolds was the first schoolmaster.
A house on the upper side of the turnpike east of the present east borough line was used as a school from 1842 to 1848. The next was erected on the lower side of what is now Main at about 100 feet east of Seventh Street. It was used from 1848 to 1865. The one following was on the upper side of east Main about 125 feet west of Beech Street and was used from 1855 to 1870. A schoolhouse near it was used from 1870 to 1876. An eight roomed house on the upper side of Main, east several hundred feet from Eighth Street, was occupied from 1876 to 1896. The brick building now on Grant, Eighth and Main Street, facing Main, was built in 1895-1896 and dedicated September 4, 1896. It took fire and was partly burned February 16, 1902, but was rebuilt in time for use the next fall. A schoolhouse located on the northwest corner of Powers and Lewis Streets, Third ward, was built in 1883 and was burned November 16, 1908. A handsome brick structure was erected on the same spot and school was opened in it for the first time October 11, 1909. The Catholic parochial school, located on the northeast corner of Sixth and Jackson Streets, was first opened September 2, 1902. There are now numerous school buildings In Winslow township containing about 28 schools.
Weekly singing and spelling schools began before 1840. Dancing schools were common long before the Rebellion. Until the Civil War teachers In Winslow township received from $12 to $20 per month. They boarded around, a week at a place, with the parents of the pupils who made no charge. Teachers were not examined and no certificates were given--school boards employed whomever they wished. School lasted three months in the winter and two in the summer. Five and one-half days a week were taught, there being a holiday on Saturday afternoon. A 15-minute recess in the morning and again in the afternoon was done away with in the Reynoldsville public school in 1896. Teachers were generally called pedagogues or schoolmasters until the Civil War.
Slates to write on were first sold in Reynoldsville In about 1860 and went out of use in the public schools of this vicinity in about 1888. Paper tablets took their place.
Lead pencils were first brought to this region in about 1860. Slate pencils were first sold here in about 1862. Previously soft shale, dug from the ground, was used. Steel pens were first used in this vicinity in about 1862. Before then goose quill pens were employed.
Manufactured ink was first sold here in about 1870. Up to that time the ink was homemade, soft maple bark and alum being boiled which formed a black liquid. Blue vitriol was sometimes used in the place of alum.
The Reynoldsville High School was organized In September, 1896. The first class graduated in May, 1897.
The 66th County Teachers' Institute, of Jefferson county, was held in The Adelphia Theatre, Reynoldsville, December 19-23, 1910, being the first time it was ever held in this place.
Churches. Clergymen prior to 1861 generally preached about the lake of fire and brimstone and the eternal torment of the lost souls. They frequently talked in that manner until their congregations became so badly frightened that they quaked and trembled and the children were afraid to go home alone. People were taught to live in fear rather than in the love as well as fear of the Lord. The bigotry and prejudice existing among the various religious sects, at least in these woods, during the fore part of the 19th century can scarcely be realized today. Often families were not permitted to attend a church service or bear a clergyman preach who was of another denomination than their own.
The early pioneers of Winslow township were not very religious. Those who were were nearly all Methodists and Baptists, Presbyterians came later. Catholics moved here in numbers after the beginning of the building of the railroad in 1870-1873. Lutherans began to show-some strength in 1876. No other church was ever very strong in this locality.
The first preaching done in what Is now Winslow township was in 1836 in the log schoolhouse just completed in Prescottville. For many years schoolhouses and private dwellings were used for preaching and prayer meetings. The first bush meeting was held in Winslow township during the summer of 1853 in a grove on the hill 300 yards directly north of Sandy Valley, and similar meetings were carried on in the, township from that time until soon after the Civil War. The building of churches resulted in this custom being discontinued. These gatherings were annual occurrences and consisted of religious meetings being held in the woods by two or three congregations each afternoon and evening for a week or 10 days, the people going home every night. They differed from camp meetings which were generally composed of 25 or 30 congregations, many of the people living on the ground both day and night. There was never a camp meeting held within 10 or 15 miles of Winslow township. Both bush and camp meetings were nearly always conducted by Methodists.
The male members of a congregation, until during the Rebellion, sat on one side of the church and the female members sat on the other.
Protestant ministers until the beginning of the Civil War had full beards though generally the upper lip was shaven. They wore high hats, stocks, and double breasted coats with V-shaped split-tails for convenience when riding horseback. After the war the stocks and split-tails disappeared, full beards were less worn and during the '80s the high hats went out o style. Catholic priests did not visit here until about 1872 and their dress was the same then as now. Their smooth faces were a distinctive feature until after 1905 when clean shaven faces became universal.
The Soldier Run Baptist church was organized in 1858. That year Reverend James Johnston became its pastor and also the first resident clergyman of Winslow township. The organization built a church at Prescottville in 1860. In June, 1887, they laid a corner stone and that year erected a brick church on the northwest corner of Main Street and Coal Alley, east of Fifth Street, In Reynoldsville.
The Reynoldsville Presbyterian church was organized October 18, 1860, in the Cold Spring Hollow schoolhouse near the northwest corner of Main and Beech Streets. They soon after moved to the Baptist church just built in Prescottville. In 1872 they moved into their own new church on 12th Street, now that part of Reynoldsville called Snydertown. The same organization later constructed a brick church on the northwest corner of Main and Seventh Streets. The corner stone was laid September 11, 1879, at 10 o'clock a. m., and the foundation was built that fall, but the building was not erected for three years.
Reynoldsville was formerly in the Emerickville charge of the Methodist Episcopal church and the members for many years held service in schoolhouses. In 1874 Reynoldsville wax termed into a separate charge when a church was organized here with 190 members. The Methodists held regular services in Gordon's Hall from July, 1874, until the fire August 25, 1875. Thereafter, most of the time they held services in The Reynolds Opera House until 1879. That year they built a church on the east side of Fifth Street cornering on Gordon Alley and Jackson Street. The corner stone was laid in May. The church was tom down in 1905. A stone church was built at once on the same lot and the corner stone was laid June 30th, at three o'clock, p. m., that summer. It was dedicated April 29, 1908.
The only Catholics in Reynoldsville in 1870 were Judge R. C. Schultz and family, William Jackson and family and Patrick Flynn and family. The Saint Mary's Catholic church was organized in March, 1871, and the first mass was celebrated in the Cold Spring Hollow schoolhouse, northwest comer of Main and Beech Streets, June 2, 1872. A church edifice was erected on 11th Street which was dedicated October 4, 1875. Later a brick church was erected on the south side of Main between Sixth and Seventh Streets and it was dedicated In October, 1884. The old church was torn down in 1887. Father Terence Brady, first regular pastor, has been here since 1881. Few clergymen in the State, of any denomination, have remained as long in a single charge.
The Lutheran church was organized in 1880. A church edifice was erected on the south side of Jackson west of Fourth Street. The corner stone was laid in July, 1884.
Industries. The first industry in what is now Winslow township was the grist mill owned by Robert Douthit, Senior, located on the east bank of Trout Run and on what is now the Punxsutawney road. It was begun about 1838 and was closed in 1867. The next was a tannery erected by Thomas Reynolds near what is now Jackson and 10th street, in Reynoldsville, In 1845 and ran, off and on, until after the close of the Civil War.
In 1866 a well was drilled on the west bank of the Sandy Lick Creek about two miles below Reynoldsville for oil, to about 1,000 feet, which was then considered very deep, but it was abandoned on account of no oil being found. Salt water, however, was discovered and salt works were then started which ran a few years when they were discontinued on account of the owners being unable to meet competition.
The first steam whistle In this section of the country was first used in 1870 when one was placed in a planing mill at which 1s now the northeast corner of Main and First Streets, Reynoldsville.
The hours of labor here, until soon after 1870, In the lumbering camps and sawmills, were from six o'clock a. m., until six o'clock p. m., with half an hour at noon for dinner. On the farms at all seasons of the year they were from before daylight until dark with sufficient intermission for meals.
In 1874 the Belnap sawmill was located in the woods on pitch Pine Run and what is now Mill Alley between Hill and Mable Streets, Reynoldsville. One day at noon the boiler in the mill exploded and a large part of it was thrown high in the air. One piece fell on the roof of the Seven Kitchens, a tenement house located on the northeast corner of Main Street and Swamp Alley, between Fourth and Fifth Streets. Four horses were required to haul it away.
The longest and most severe miners' strike in this section was the one between the coal miners and operators which lasted from March 21, to July 21, 1886. Another notable strike was that of the silk mill in Reynoldsville. It lasted about five months, having begun In September 1902, and ended In February, 1903.
The silk mill was erected in 1898. That fall there was a very heavy wind one day at about one o'clock p. m., which blew off the southern half of the second floor. Though the mill was crowded with operatives no one was seriously injured. The building was soon repaired.
Reynoldsville now contains two silk mills, macaroni factory, flour mill, tannery, machine shop, casket factory, brick works, planing mill and others.
Lumbering, Rafting. In 1846 the first timber raft went from what is now Reynoldsville to Brookville via the Sandy Lick Creek, though it was in 1826 that the creek was declared a highway by the State from the east Jefferson county line to its mouth for rafts, boats and logs. William B. Johnston was the pilot of the first raft and he and his crew found it hard work to cut the trees which had fallen across the stream and to clear out the obstructions. After the creek had become passable it required four or five days to make the trip to Pittsburgh, via. Red Bank Creek already cleared, and the Allegheny River. The timber which formed the rafts was sold and the raftsmen returned home. For many years they rode up the Allegheny River for a long distance on boats, and walked the remainder of the way. Between 1850 and 1860 the greatest amount of rafting was done on the Sandy Lick Creek. An immense quantity of heavy pine and hemlock timber was easy of access to the stream with but few mills to saw it. The rafts generally went down during the spring freshets, but occasionally in July, August and September. On the way from where DuBois now is to the Allegheny River rafts were so numerous during the spring floods between 1860 and 1860 that there was scarcely a place along the creek that one was not in eight. In time heavy timber became less plenty and rafting on the Sandy Lick Creek dwindled. Finally the Allegheny Valley
Railroad was bully and by 1875 little rafting was done in this vicinity. The last raft went under the Main Street bridge over the Sandy Lick Creek in Reynoldsville In about 1882. William T. Cox, to whom I am Indebted for considerable that is in this history, was the pilot. He was born in Washington township, three miles north of Winslow, October 2, 1847, and was the son of Peter and Nancy (Harrison) Cox. Rafting was done further down for 25 years after, but it was too narrow In Winslow township to get timber by the logs In the milldams without trouble and they were sold at home. Extensive lumbering to this locality was about completed In 1903.
The legislature passed an act April 17, 1856, organizing The Red Bank Navigation Company. This corporation was reorganized by an act passed May 28, 1860. Its capital stock was $10,000. The stockholders were mostly Brookville and Winslow township men. The jurisdiction of the company extended over the Red Bank, Sandy Lick and North Fork Creeks where its duty was to clean and clear the creeks of rocks, bars and other obstruction, erect dams, locks and brackets, and it was given power over private dams and chutes and the right to regulate the water of the creeks. The company was also granted the right "to levy tolls not exceeding one and one-quarter cents for each and every five miles of improved creek per 1,000 feet of boards or other sawed material; one and one-fourth cents for each 50 feet, lineal measure, of square or other timber; one-fourth of one cent per foot for every boat that they may pass down said creek to be collected at the mouth of Red Bank Creek and at such other points along the creek as may be necessary." The company ceased to do business about 1875.
The first sawmills were known as up-and-down mills and were run by water wheels. One man and an up-and-down saw cut about 1,000 feet of lumber a day. After the Civil War the more rapid circular saw was used exclusively.
The first sawmill in what is now Winslow township was constructed by William Reynolds on Soldier Run in the upper part of what is now Rathmel. It was begun in 1845 and was closed in 1861. About 21 sawmills, not including portable ones, have been operated in the township. The first circular saw to replace an up-and-down saw in the township was erected in the Bebe & Clark mill on the Sandy Lick Creek at Sandy Valley in 1859. The first planing mill in the township was built in 1857 by William and Henry Aiman in Prescottville near the forks of the turnpike and the Big Run road.
Until 1881 lumbering bad been done in Winslow township only along the shores of the creek for the timber and on the higher places to clear the land for farming. Vast tracts of immense trees away from the streams and especially on the hills were yet standing.
In that year Hopkins' mill, just below Reynoldsville, was changed from a capacity for cutting 20,000 to a capacity for cutting 100,000 feet per day. It made a new era in lumbering in this region and It was carried on thereafter on a very extensive scale until it was closed in 1904.
The peeling of bark became important in Winslow township in 1881 on account of a large tannery being started in Reynoldsville that year which created a demand for hemlock bark. Oak bark was peeled in very small quantities. Previous to 1881 but little was peeled in this vicinity. From 1881 until about 1904 about 1.5,000 to 20,000 cords of bark, and occasionally more, were peeled a year in the township and most of it was used In the Reynoldsville tannery. The price of hemlock bark ran from $4 to $6 a cord. Bark can be peeled only between May 15th and July 15th.
Coal Mining. About 1847 Woodward Reynolds opened the first coal mine not only in Jefferson county but in this section of the State and it was closed about 1878. The mine was located in a little hollow southwest of where the Reynoldsville Cemetery now is and a short distance south of the Punxsutawney road. At that time mining was done by the light of a candle and the coal was taken out in wheelbarrows.
William Ferris, born in Clinton county, New York, In 1818, cane here in 1850. Soon after his arrival, when hunting a deer, he came to where a tree had fallen and the upturned root exposed a coal outcrop. Being experienced in mining elsewhere he began an opening on the spot and was soon digging coal. That was the second drift in this region and it was located within 200 feet east of what is now the corner of Eighth and Grant Streets in Reynoldsville. The mine was abandoned about 1868. Coal was shipped from these two mines to Brockville, Punxsutawney, Luthersburg, and elsewhere. One load, it is said, was hauled in a wagon from the Ferris coal bank to New York State. The first coke made in Jefferson county was in about 1850 at the mouth of the mine belonging to Woodward Reynolds just referred to.
Coal was known to exist in all of this northwestern part of the State before 1790. John Fuller was the first to dig it in this region. As early as 1825 he shoveled some out of the bottom of the Sandy Lick Creek from 800 to 1,500 feet above where Main Street crosses the stream. He carried it in a bag on his shoulder for over two miles to his home above Prescottvllle where he used it for blacksmithing. A thick vein of very line coal existed on his farm but he knew nothing of it. Woodward Reynolds first began digging coal from the top of the ground where it had been exposed and where he opened a mine about a decade after. For many years anyone was at liberty to take all of the coal he wanted for nothing from this place, it being necessary to only dig and haul it away.
In 1845, or near that time, State Geologist Rogers discovered valuable coal deposits in this immediate vicinity. In 1864 State Geologist J. P. Leslie made a geological survey of the Reynoldsville region. A chemical analysis of the mineral was then taken by Doctor Guenth, a famous chemist of Philadelphia. An exhaustive report was made setting forth the advantages of this district to attract the attention of capitalists seeking investments for their money. The compilation of the facts for the report cost about $3,000 which was borne by a company made up of Jefferson county men organized for the purpose. Assistant State Geologist Franklin Platt, assisted by his brother George, went over this field thoroughly later and made some very valuable State reports concerning it.
In 1873 the Diamond Gas Coal Company began opening the Diamond Mine located on the south side of the Sandy Lick Creek north of Reynoldsville. In April, 1874, the first shipment of coal by rail went out of Jefferson county which was from this mine. It was the beginning of coal shipments from this region to distant markets. Since then millions of tons have been shipped from Winslow township mostly to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coast. This first consignment was taken from the Diamond Mine to the Reynoldsville railroad station in wagons and was sent from here by rail to Buffalo. A siding was soon completed from the Diamond Mine across the Sandy Lick Creek to the Allegheny Valley Railroad.
The Diamond Gas Coal Company was the first coal company that operated in this county, but it was confined to but one mine. The Powers-Brown Coal Company and The Hamilton Coal Company both organized in about 1878, operated more extensively. In 1885 the firm of Bell, Lewis & Yates, of Buffalo, New York, bought the holdings of The Hamilton Coal Company and The Powers-Brown Coal Company in Winslow township. In 1887 this firm became a char-tend corporation and was known as The Bell, Lewis & Yates Coal Mining Company.
The Big Soldier Run Mine which belonged to this company and opened about October 1, 1889, was at one time considered the largest bituminous coal mine in the world. Its output for a number of years averaged from 500,000 to 2,000,000 tons of coal per annum. The first coal mining machine installed in this region was a Harrison, and it was first operated in the Soldier Run Mine in February, 1891. The first haulage of coal in the mines by power in the township was in 1892 when It began to be taken out of the western opening of the mine Just mentioned by a system of wire rope. Mules bad been used exclusively previous to that time. The first electric haulage In the mines in the township was in 1902 when coal was drawn from the Sykesville or eastern opening.
On May 1, 1896, The Bell, Lewis & Yates Coal Mining Company sold its property to The Jefferson & Clearfield Coal and Iron Company.
Honorable Simon B. Elliott, of Reynoldsville, was the General Manager of The Bell, Lewis & Yates Coal Mining Company. He was a scientist and an author. In 1912 The Houghton-Mifflin Company of Boston, Massachusetts, published a book written by him entitled "The Important Timber 'Trees of the United States," with 400 pages. He was born in Rome, Bradford county, Pennsylvania, October 1, 1830, and died in Reynoldsville June 18, 1917. The Elliott Memorial Grove, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, named in his honor, was dedicated June 15, 1918.
About 26 coal mines have been operated in the township from which coal' has been shipped by rail to distant points, including the first in 1874, up to this time, besides small country coal banks from which the local demand is supplied.
Polling Places. April 6, 1846, the lint election in Winslow township was held in Woodward Reynolds' log tavern. Previously voters living in what is now Reynoldsville and North Winslow township went seven miles to the Beechwoods to vote. Those in the southern part went to Punxsutawney. Those in the western part went to Port Barnett. In 1851 the polling place was moved to the Reynolds tavern, now the northwest corner of Main and Third Streets. In 18-65 it was changed to what is now the northwest corner of Main and 10th Streets. After Reynoldsville became a borough in 1873 it was formed into a precinct by itself. The Reynoldsville people continued voting at the old place and those in Winslow township began at the next election in 1874 to vote by themselves nearby. In 1887 the voting precinct of Winslow township was divided into East and West Winslow. Now there are four precincts. Reynoldsville borough is now divided into four precincts also. Reynoldsville and Winslow township are normally Republican and always have been.
Politics began to be discussed extensively in Winslow township during the Harrison campaign In 1840. In 1844, during the Polk-Clay campaign, even more interest was manifested. From that time, as the population increased, the interest in politics became greater. It was not until Lincoln's first campaign in 1860 that political meetings were held in schoolhouses In Winslow township. In 1864, Lincoln's second campaign, speech-making and political parades became quite common in this section. County politico was more or less discussed in ante-bellum days, but not to any extent until after the Civil War. Local elections have been of varied interest since the organization of Winslow township in 1846.
Prescottville. In 1857 Charles H. Prescott, born in Sidney Maine, settled about a mile east of Reynoldsville and entered largely into the lumbering business and also ran a store. The hamlet of Prescottville, which he founded, was named after him. His son George Allen Prescott, who was born there, afterwards became State Senator and also Secretary of State of Michigan. The hamlet from 1860 to 1870 was the center of the business of Winslow township. Its chief industry is its flour mill.
Illumination. Kerosene oil and gas lamps were first used for illumination in this locality in 1860. Kerosene then sold for $1 per gallon. Whale oil to iron lamps had been used for a decade, and generally tallow dips followed by candles made in tin molds had been previously used. They were made from sheep, beef and ever, venison tallow. Cotton wicking placed in a saucer of grease had often been set afire and put on the table to give light. It was not uncommon to ignite a pine knot and fasten it in the fireplace so that the smoke went up the chimney while the light from it was bright enough to read, spin, knit and sew by. Early evening was often spoken of as "Early candle lighting."
The first natural gas discovered in Winslow township was in 1866 in a well unsuccessfully drilled for oil at what soon after became the Salt Works. Gas was struck near there in 1884 in a well drill 2,200 feet. It was since found in numerous deep wells drilled in the township but never yet in paying quantities.
In the winter of 1889 and 1890, The Oil City Fuel Supply Company, now The United Natural Gas Company, headquarters in Oil City, Pennsylvania, laid pipes to Reynoldsville from their wells in Millstone on the Clarion River. The nearest wells are 17 and the farthest 21 miles from here. On the evening of April 8, 1890, gas was turned into the pipe at Millstone. A workman stood at the Reynoldsville end with a torch waiting for it. At exactly 10:44 o'clock, p. m., gas began to bum in Reynoldsville for the first time. Natural gas is now used here for heating and lighting.
The Reynoldsville Light & Power Company, organized in 1901, furnished electricity that year, forrthe first time, for lighting from its plant In this place. In November, 1917, The Jefferson Electrical Company bought the old company's property and in September, 1919, began supplying Reynoldsville with electricity from its power plant at DuBois.
SOURCE: Pages 45-65, History of Reynoldsville and
Vicinity Including Winslow Township by Ward C. Elliott. Punxsutawney, Spirit
Publishing Company, 1922