ORIGIN OF NAME ~ SETTLERS AND LANDOWNERS ~ FIRST INDUSTRIES ~ CHURCHES ~ SCHOOLS ~ POPULATION ~ GEOLOGY AND ALTITUDE
The name of this township naturally occurred to the original signers of the petition for its formation in 1867, because of the sharp southward bend of the creek which is rightfully named "Crooked." The separation of the township was made from those of Kiskimetas and Plum Creek, the boundaries being stated as: "Beginning at a corner of Burrell township, on land of Jacob Hart; thence south 29 degrees east 1 mile and 120 perches to A. Walker's; thence south 2 miles to the top of a hill on I. Horn's land; thence south 34 degrees east 1 mile and 108 perches to the Indiana county line, on or near to land of Robert Elder; thence by Indiana county line north 37 ½ degrees east 6 miles and 172 perches to a point on land of John Ramsey; thence north 40 degrees west 220 perches on the banks of Crooked creek, near Reuben Allshouse's (Idaho) mill; thence down said creek north 80 degrees west 150 perches; thence across said creek north 50 degrees west 3 miles on land of Isaac Rowley, deceased; thence south 87 degrees west 1 mile and 97 perches, on land of M. Davis; thence by the line of Burrell township south 15 degrees east 1 mile and 258 perches to Linsbigler's run; thence down said run south 70 degrees west 110 perches; thence south 56 degrees west 64 perches to Crooked creek; thence 31 degrees west 1 mile and 308 perches to the place of the beginning, containing about 23 square miles.
Along that portion of Crooked creek in the southwestern part of this township, near the Indiana county line, some of the earliest settlements made by whites in this county were made. There were thirty-five original tracts in this township, the warrants for them being dated as early as 1773.
The early landowners and settlers were: James Gray, Abraham Hunt, Samuel Hancock, James Elder, James Smith, Robert L. Hooper, William Forbes, Stephen Duncan, Joseph Speer, Ann Kirk, Samuel Fleming, Daniel Drinker, Charles Hancock, Alexander Todd, Andrew Cunningham, John Bringhurst, Jacob Snow, Walter Finney, Peter Henry, Samuel Sloan, Samuel Massey, William Heffelfinger, Christopher Miller, Joseph Saunders, John Finney, Henry Allshouse, Matthew Irwin, Jacob George, John Wherry, John Walker, John Household, James Davis, Erasmus Beatty, Nicholas Fulmer, John Rightor, William Eakman, George Woods, George Rupert, John Levering, Christopher Rupert, Samuel Dixon, James Skullnot, George Smith, Robert Dick, Elizabeth Pile, Hannah Gregory, John Sloan, David Todd, William Wasson, Philip Rearigh, Joseph Lowery, Alexander George, Rowland Chambers, Hugh Neeley, Anthony Montgomery, John L. Howell.
On the tract originally owned by Howell in 1776, on Crooked creek, near the present town of South Bend, Charles Campbell, in 1805, erected a grist and saw mill, it being for many years thereafter the only mill for settlers from miles around in this and Indiana counties. It was called Frantz' mill, from Jacob Frantz, who owned it in 1813. It is now operated by W. E. Fryor.
Absalom Woodward was assessed with a grist and saw mill in 1811, which he had built on the south side of Plum creek, near its junction with Crooked creek. Reuben Allshouse, who owned these mills in 1876, called the settlement around them "Idaho," from the fact of his having made a fortune in that western State. This settlement is still called by the same title. Tow miles below here was the store of Hugh Brown in 1805.
Besides the saw mills at Idaho and South Bend there were in pioneer days four others. One was a short distance west of Olivet, another on Craig's run, about fifty rods from its mouth, one on a run emptying into Crooked creek above its mouth, and another on the same run, higher up.
In 1874 James McNees started a pottery on Crooked creek near Girty. For a time he made crocks, but in 1876 he formed the firm of McNees & Co., and began the manufacture of stone pumps and pipes for wells and cisterns. This finally was abandoned and the works closed. George W. McNees, his son, is now manager of the Kittanning Clay Products Company.
The Mutual Fire Insurance Company, of South Bend township, was incorporated in 1875. They have been in business ever since, doing a good business among the farmers.
The assessment list of the year 1805 showed one weaver, Peter Rupert; one blacksmith, Joseph Thorn; and one stonemason, Barnard Davers.
In 1876 there were five stores in the fourteenth and one in the thirteenth class. There were 27 laborers, 7 blacksmiths, 4 shoemakers, 2 carpenters, 2 millers, 2 wagonmakers, 1 preacher, 1 book agent, 1 clerk, 1 cooper, 1 apprentice, and 26 single men. (And it was leap year.)
In 1913 the merchants were T. C. Bair at Olivet, D. B. & L. A. Townsend at South Bend, Fred W. Meyers at Idaho, and U. S. George at Girty.
The only post office between Kittanning and Indiana one hundred years ago was that kept by Absalom Woodward at the point now called Idaho. The office was discontinued when that at Elderton was opened. The Frantz' Mills post office was established in 1843, with James Mitchell as the official in charge. This latter office was at the point on the creek now known as South Bend. James Johnson, Jr., was postmaster there in 1848. Harry H. Hanna is the present one. The Olivet postoffice was established in 1850, with John McGeary in charge. The postmaster there now is Torrence Bair, also storekeeper. The postmaster at Girty is J. A. Coulter.
Dr. John A. Lowery is the physician at South Bend, Dr. J. T. Shutt at Girty and Dr. C. M. Ewing at Olivet.
CHURCHES OF EARLY DAYS
For many years after the settlement of this region the only church edifice was the log one built in 1818 by Absalom Woodward and generously donated to the public at large. In this and in private houses and barns itinerant missionaries conducted services for many years.
The Associate Reformed Church was organized in 1840 and in 1842 erected a building in the extreme southeastern part of the township on Big Run, calling it "Olivet." The present settlement of that name is located here in 1913. The original membership was twenty. The name of the church was changed to United Presbyterian when the two church bodies united. Some of the early ministers were: Rev. Alexander McCahan, 1843-46; M. H. Wilson, 1848-57; Samuel Anderson, 1859-67; John C. Telford, 1868-78. The Methodists have a church at Girty, built in 1870. Rev. E. H. Rodkey is the pastor.
Zion's Valley Reformed Church is situated one mile east of the western end of this township on the bank of a run which empties into Crooked creek. It was built in 1868, the same year that the congregation was organized. William G. King, Absalom Klingensmith, H. G. Allshouse, and Joseph Heisley were trustees, and the first pastor was Rev. H. N. Hoffmeier. Rev. A. S. Lenhart now supplies the pulpit. St. Jacob's Evangelical Lutheran Church is located half a mile north of the village of South Bend, and is sometimes known as the "Hill" or "White" Church. Jacob Frantz in 1817 donated the ground on which the cemetery and church building stand, for the use of the Lutheran and Reformed congregations. This harmonious relation has been continued to the present time, without a single disagreement, even after the German language was supplanted by the English. The first pastor here was Rev. Michael Steck, who served the Lutherans from 1817 to 1823. Services were first held at the old gristmill of Jacob Frantz, but after 1820 the two congregations worshiped in a log house. In 1823 the Lutherans were served by Rev. G. A. Reichert and the Reformed by Rev. William Weinel. Rev. Mr. Reichart was succeeded by Rev. John H. Bernheim in 1837, and after that period the successive pastors were Revs. Jacob Zimmerman, David McKee, Jacob H. Wright, J. W. Hutchison, Thomas J. Frederick, C. M. Wachter, J. A. Flickinger, Jacob M. Hankey, C. L. Wisswaesser, and the present pastor, Rev. C. F. Miller. Membership 100, Sabbath school, 65.
For a while after the first settlement of this region, pay or subscription schools were taught in private houses in different parts of the then settled part of the township, which was chiefly along and in the vicinity of Crooked creek. The first schoolhouse, a primitive log one, was erected probably about 1803, near the present site of St. Jacob's Lutheran and Reformed Church edifice, in which the first teacher, or at least one of the earliest, was James Allison.
In the earlier settlement of the southern part of the township there was an ancient schoolhouse about 200 rods southwest of Olivet, on the farm of Joseph Coulter, and another about a mile and a half a little west of north from Olivet, on the farm of David Finlay. The first schoolhouse at Olivet was built in or about 1820, on the site of G. W. Steer's old blacksmith shop, and was known as the "Big Run schoolhouse," which continued to be used until 1834-35.
About a mile distant from Olivet, across the Indiana county line, is Elder's Ridge Academy, whose beneficent influence in promoting educational interests in this region has for many years been effective.
The first school year in which this was a distinct school district was 1868. Its first annual report was for 1869, when the number of schools was 6; average number months taught, 4; male teachers, 4; female teachers, 2; average salaries of male per month, $38.25; average salary of female per month, $35; male scholars, 288; female, 244; average number attending school, 433; cost of teaching each per month, 64 cents; amount levied for school purposes, $902.84; minimum occupation, 211; total amount levied, $1,113.84; received from collectors, unseated land, etc, $1,200.44; cost of instruction, $892; fuel and contingencies, $152.72; repairing schoolhouses, etc., $55.66; balance on hand, $100.06.
In 1876 the number of schools was 6; average number months taught, 5; male teachers, 6; average monthly salaries, $35; number male scholars, 182; number female scholars, 179; average number attending school, 298; cost per month, 64 cents; amount levied for school and building purposes, $1,179.30; received from State appropriation, $237.15; received from taxes and other sources, $1,233.71; paid for teachers' wages, $1,050; paid for fuel and contingencies, collectors' fees, etc., $196.25.
The number of schools in 1913 was 8; average months taught, 7; male teachers, 3; female teachers, 5; average salaries, male, $46.16; female, $45; male scholars, 64; female scholars, 85; average attendance, 142; cost per month, $3.12; tax levied, $1,648.75; received from State, $1,307.81; other sources, $2, 376.03; value of schoolhouses, $8,000; teachers' wages, $2,477.50; fuel, fees, etc., $845.34.
The school directors were: A. J. Kunkle, president; J. G. Kinnard, secretary; J. R. Coulter, treasurer; E. T. Smith, J. D. Miller.
The population of South Bend township in 1850 was 1,266; in 1860, 1,571; in 1870, 1,633; in 1880, 1,151; in 1890, 1,116; in 1900, 875; in 1910, 798.
The assessment rolls for 1913 show: Timber land, 970 acres; cleared land, 12,338 acres; value of land, $244,069; houses and lots, 35; value $9,992; average, $285.48; horses, 277; value, $13,948; average, $50.39; cows, 254; value $4, 115; average, $16.20; taxable occupations, 284; valuation, $4,250. Total valuation, $297,044. Money at interest, $29,284.17.
GEOLOGY AND ALTITUDE
The geological formation of this township is fully treated in the sketch of Plum creek township. There is a sharp brreak in the Roaring run anticlinal in the northeastern portion of this township, near Girty.
Close to the western line between this and Kiskiminetas township is the highest hill, 1,443 feet above the sea.
Source: Pages 190-193, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed September 1998 by Donna E. Mohney for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Published 1998 by the Armstrong County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project