Derivation of the Name --Organised in 1810 -- Very Early Settlement –Blockhouses -- An Indian Attack -- Women Making Bullets -- Children Captured by the Savages -- Bridging Crooked Creek -- First Application to the Court for a Bridge -- Absalom Woodward -- David Ralston -- A Tavern Tragedy of 1809 –The Sharps – Land Tracts Originally Surveyed in the Township --Three Hundred Acres of land for Five Shillings – Centennial Celebration 1876 (Note) -- The First Iron Plow – Mills – Churches – Schools – Whitesburg -- Some Mentionable Events – Items -- Borough of Elderton -- Its Early Residents –Incorporated -- First Officers -- Religious History – Educational – Temperance – Soldiers' Aid Society – Geological Features
The name is derived from the creek which the Indians called Sipu-as-han-ne. Sipuasink means the place of plums. Sipu-as-han-ne, then, means a stream in the place of plums, or a stream flowing through a section of country in which plums are abundant. It was also called Alum Creek. It is so named on the Historical Map.
No movement was made either to divide or to change the boundaries of the six original townships until 1809. The inhabitants of Kittanning Township having presented their petition setting forth that they labored under numerous disadvantages by reason of the extent of their township, and praying that proper persons might be appointed to divide it, the court of quarter sessions, at December session, 1809, appointed Robert Beatty, John Thomas, and James Kirkpatrick for that purpose. Their report, signed by Robert Beatty and John Thomas, was presented June 20, 1810, and approved; in which they stated they had run, marked, laid off and divided said township according to these courses and distances:
“Beginning at the fording on Mahoning creek, where the road leading from Kittanning to Reed's mill crosses said creek, thence southward along said road to the top of the creek hill, about one mile thence south 640 perches to a hickory; thence south 3 degrees west 800 perches to a post; thence south 3 degrees east to a W. O. 450 perches; thence south 43 degrees east 40 perches to a W O. at Peck's house; thence south 5 degrees west 1,293 perches to Cowanshannook, about 20 perches below the mouth of Huskinses' run; thence south 23 degrees west 2,265 perches to the west branch of Cherry Run, about 80 perches above the mouth of Long run; thence down Cherry run to where the same puts into Crooked Creek."
The name of the new township thus formed, on the draft accompanying the report, is "Plum Creek;" "Surveyed by me, Robert Orr, Jr." Its northern boundary was Mahoning creek; its eastern, Indiana county; and its southern, Crooked Creek.
Such were the boundaries and extent of Plum Creek township, until the former were changed and the latter was curtailed by the formation of the townships of Wayne, Cowanshannock, Burrell and South Bend, and the borough of Elderton.
The Historical Map of Pennsylvania indicates that there was an Indian town about a mile and thirty rods above Crooked Creek, on or very near the Indiana county line, in the southeastern part of the township.
Permanent settlements by the whites were made in the eastern and southeastern portions of Plum Creek township, as originally formed, before and when it was a part of Armstrong township earlier than in any other part of this county. The reason why it was first settled is not stated. The streams, the water-power, and the considerable scope of productive and comparatively level land in that section may have been more attractive to pioneers than the more broken and rugged land in other sections.
The early settlers there were subject to the attacks of the Indians. A blockhouse was built on the land then owned by William Clark, but which is now owned by S. E. Jones. There was another house with portholes -- not built, perhaps, expressly for a blockhouse, but used as a place of refuge and defense from those attacks-on the road now leading from Elderton to the old Crooked Creek Salt Works, on the farm heretofore known as the Downs' farm. It was attacked one morning by the Indians. George Miller and James Kirkpatrick were then in charge of it. The Indians fired upon them, killed a child in the cradle and wounded an adult person in the building.
The women made bullets while the men were defending them and their children. One Indian, while putting a charge of powder in his gun, was shot through the hand and body and was killed, and some of the other Indians were wounded. George Miller escaped from the rear of the building, mounted a horse and started for Clark's blockhouse. In his absence the Indians fled, carrying with them the dead and wounded. Two children, John Sloan and his sister Nancy, were captured about the time of that affair on the farm near the present Lutheran and Reformed church, formerly in Plum Creek, but now in South Bend township, and about sixty rods northwest from the present residence of William Heintzelman. They were working in the cornfield at the time. Having been retained by the Indians several years, they were exchanged near Cincinnati or Sandusky, Ohio. They returned home the same year that Samuel Sloan, still living, was born. Their relatives and some other settlers soon after their capture followed the trail of the Indians to the point where they crossed the Allegheny river above Kittanning.
The writer's informant, ex-sheriff Joseph Clark, also said he had seen bullet-holes in the door of the above-mentioned house on the Downs' farm, and that his aunt, Mrs. Joseph Clark, had told him that she used to stand, with rifle in hand, and guard her husband while at work on the farm now occupied by William T. Clark in Plum Creek township.
From 1810 till 1821 many tomahawks, darts and flintheads were found on the farm now owned by William Herron, which is about half a mile northwest of the junction of Plum creek with Crooked creek, and on the west side of the former, which then divided the farms of William Clark and David Ralston.
George Miller was the earliest white settler in this township. He located where the Kittanning and Indiana turnpike crosses Plum creek, in 1766. Twenty years later John and Peter Thomas settled about a mile and a half north of that point at "Elder's Vale," elsewhere mentioned, where the latter built a gristmill, afterward owned by Robert Woodward.
Among the earliest emigrants to the southeastern part of Plum Creek township, which was then, 1788, in Armstrong township, was the late Absalom Woodward, Sr., who, with his wife and two children, came that year from Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, and settled near what is now Idaho. He was a hardy and energetic pioneer, and an enterprising, public-spirited citizen.
The petition of sundry inhabitants of this county, putting forth that a bridge was much wanted across Crocked creek, in Allegheny township, at or near the place where the road from Absalom Woodward's to Sloan's ferry crossed that creek, and praying the appointment of viewers, was presented at December sessions, 1805, the first held in this county. Whereupon the court appointed James Elgin, Christopher Ourey, James Clark, Robert Brown, James Sloan and Michael Mechling, who reported at March sessions, 1806, that a bridge was much wanted there, and that the probable expense, $450, was too much for one or two townships to bear.
Their report was referred to the grand jury, who were of opinion that, as there had been no settlement between Armstrong and Westmoreland counties, it would then be improper to make any allowance out of the treasury to carry into effect the prayer of the petitioners. At September sessions, 1806, Absalom Woodward presented his petition, offering to advance the money that might be appropriated for building that bridge. The matter was again refereed to the grand jury March 17, 1807, who reported favorably, and the county commissioners, after consulting with the grand jury, also reported favorably -- both were of opinion that the erection of that bridge would be too expensive for the township.
The application had to pass still another ordeal. The law required the approval of two grand juries. The second grand jury at December sessions' 1807, reported that bridge to be necessary, a yet the probable expense that might accrue would be too weighty a burden for our present situation." A bridge was afterward built there, either at private or public expense. The court records show nothing more concerning it, except that the petition of inhabitants of Plum Creek township was presented September 24, 1818, setting forth that the bridge at that place had been swept away by the flood in February of that year; that the fording there was impassable and that the desired bridge would cost more than is reasonable for one township to con-tribute; and praying the court to appoint viewers.
Whereupon David Johnston, Philip Mechling, James Elgin, Joseph Clark, Isaac Wagle and James Richards were appointed, who reported favorably at the next December sessions. Their report was approved by the grand jury, and after having been held under consideration was finally approved by the court and ordered to be laid before the county commissioners, and there, except an order mentioned below, endeth the record. The writer has thus fully noticed the applications for that bridge because the original one was the first application for a county bridge that was made to the first court held in this county, and drew forth from Mr. Woodward an offer that must have been quite liberal in those early days.
An order was issued by the county commissioners September 21, 1814, for $137.33 for repairing the bridge across Crooked creek at Mr. Woodward's house.
Another of his commendable acts was the building of a church near South Bend. The edifice was a log one, yet the offering was liberal, considering the means which he bad, in common with other early emigrants.
Absalom Woodward, Sr., had thirteen children, eight of whom survived him. His sons were Robert, Sharp, and Absalom. His daughters were Mrs. David Reynolds, Mrs. Leonard Shryock, Mrs. Richard Graham, Mrs. Anthony Montgomery, mother of ex-Sheriff Montgomery, Mrs. William D. Barclay, Mrs. James Todd, Mrs. William Clark, mother of ex-Sheriff Clark, and Mrs. -- Johnston. His other children died in early life. He died in 1833. Mrs. Jane Montgomery is the only one of his children still living, who is in her eighty-first year, having thus far survived her husband seven years.
David Ralston, who married Miss Agnes Sharp, the second daughter of Capt. Andrew Sharp before mentioned, and the first white child born in this region, on this side of Crooked creek, was an early settler, having come to Allegheny, afterward Plum Creek, township, in 1800. His death was tragical. It occurred in 1809, at a log tavern, then kept on the farm formerly owned by Robert Woodward, and now by John Ralston. Among the persons stopping there, at the time, was a man who went out of the house, after dark, for the purpose of waylaying another against whom he had some grudge.
Mr. Ralston soon after went out, and, having been taken for the one for whom the other was lying in wait, was struck with a club. The blow, thus inflicted, soon proved to be fatal. He had in his life-time purchased, and resided on, the several tracts of land now occupied by Mrs. D. Ralston, Absalom Montgomery, and James McCracken, in the southeastern part of Plum Creek township. He left three children -- David, who died several years since; John, still living at Elderton, and Mary, intermarried with William McCracken. Mrs. Ralston, some time after her husband's tragical death, married James Mitchell, father of James, Sharp, Alexander, and William Mitchell, Eliza, wife of A. W. Montgomery, Sally, wife 'of Samuel Moorhead, and Rebecca, wife of Robert Lytle.
The other children of Captain Sharp not heretofore mentioned were Joseph Sharp, who lived for many years on Crooked creek, descendants of his still residing in that section, and Ann, wife of Andrew McCreight, and Margaret, wife of John McCullough.
The ancient map of this county indicates the following tracts to have been originally surveyed within the present limits of this township, if the writer has correctly run its present boundary lines thereon: Jane Elliott, 308 acres; William Cowden, 290 acres, seated by Absalom Woodward; Benjamin Lesher, 304 acres; Joseph Dunlap, 233¾ acres; Peter Deshong, 340 acres, seated by Benjamin Lowry; John Magot, 371¼ acres, seated by Andrew Dormoyer; William Sausom, 406.8 acres, seated by Church Smith; Samuel Dilworth, 408 acres.
Hugh Wason, 420.9 acres, "on the waters of the east branch of Cherry Run, about two miles west of the Kittanning Path," seated by William Nolder; John Young, 328 acres, seated by Jac. Rowley; John Alison, 382.56 acres, seated (140 acres) by Absalom Dornmoyer; Wm. Hurton, 307 acres; Joseph Burden, 362.4 acres, seated by Peter Altman; Robert Cooper, 302.1 acres, seated by John Willis; A. Woodward, 157.5 acres, seated by George Smith; Christopher McMichael and James Clark, 487-1/3 acres.
George Campbell, 302.122 acres, subsequently owned by Absalom Woodward; John Findley, 237 acres, seated by widow Ralston; John Biddle, collector of taxes in Berks county, Pennsylvania, prior to 1780, 343 acres, seated by James Kean; John Smith, 175 acres; John Davidson, 425.2 acres, seated by Geo. Smith; John Cooper, 302.1 acres, seated by Michael Rupert; Michael Campbell and J. Guthrie, 359.9 acres, seated (100 acres) by R. Sloan; R. McKinley and R. Sloan, 100 acres, seated by Hugh Elgin; William Wason, 310¾ acres; John Nolder, 188¾ acres, seated by J. Nolder; Isaac Anderson, 383.5 acres, seated by James Elgin, who, May 5, 1796; bought a part of it from Anderson for £50 lawful money of this state; Sarah Elder, 392½ acres, seated by R. J. Elder.
Jas. Blakeney, 129¾ acres; John Levyzy, 324 acres, seated by McCain & Jordon; Abigail McAllister, 297½ acres, mostly in Indiana county; Bartholomew Mather, 329 acres; seated by Samuel McCray; Nicholas Rittenhouse, 308¾ acres, seated by Moses McClean; Thos. Shields, two tracts, 803¼ acres, partly in Indiana county; Arthur Chambers, 228.6 acres; John Eakey, 179½ acres, seated by himself; Samuel Dixon, 193 acres, seated by Moses McClean; Thomas Taylor, 253.4 acres; Ann Parks, 327½ acres, partly in Indiana county; Jacob Amos, 426.6 acres, partly in Cowanshannock township and Indiana county; Mary Semple, 438 acres; James Semple, 411¾ acres; John Semple, 408½ acres.
A patent for this tract was granted to Walter Finney, of Chester county, Pennsylvania, March 7, 1815, who and his wife conveyed 100½ acres of it to Walter Templeton, January 1, 1816, "for the furtherance of the said Walter Templeton in his business of life, and also for the consideration of 50 cents to them in hand paid." Robert Semple, Sr., 365¼ acres, partly in Cowanshannock township, seated by Samuel Sloan; John Cummins Jr., 98½ acres, seated by John Willis; John Cummins, 171-3.4 acres; Thomas Cummins, 169¾ acres; John Paul, 361 acres, seated by Willis & Lowery; Charles Leeper, 99¼ acres, seated by J. Guthrie.
Joseph Mather, 282½ acres; John Fitzer, 364¼ acres, partly in Cowanshannock township; Israel Morris, 322½ acres; Samuel Morris,* 291-2/3 acres; Thos. Morris, 329¾ acres (the last three tracts partly in Cowanshannock township); Larken Dorsey, 312.7 acres; Thomas Hutchinson, 300.8 acres, partly in Kittanning township; Robert Smith, 400¼ acres, seated by Thos. Beer; George Meade, 337-2/3 acres, seated by Absalom Hershberger; William Ewing, 379½ acres; Andrew Milligan, 435.8 acres, seated by Philip Rearigh (300 acres), and Alexander Nelson; Abigail Sargeant, 363.8 acres, seated by Geo. Boyer.
Joseph Ogden, 334.9 acres; Robert Cogley, 435.8 acres; William Smith, 305.8 acres, seated by A. Craft; Christopher Miller, 305.8 acres; Thomas Hyde, 305.8 acres; Robert Towers, 339½ acres; Stephen Lowrey, 353.3 acres, seated by Robert Sturgeon; William King, 392 acres, seated by Robert Sturgeon; Andrew Craft, 256½ acres, seated by Robert Coe; Elijah Brown, 330.4 acres, seated by Jacob Ruffner; Widow Elisabeth Kealer's improvement, about 240 acres; Tobias Long, 328 acres, seated by Archibald McIntosh; Nathan Burns.
256.6 acres; Jacob Stine, 319¼ acres, seated by Pat. Robb, James Burnsides, 321.6 acres, seated by Daniel Ruffner; Geo. Stine, 443 acres; Henry Stine, 404½ acres, seated by John Robb; Jeremiah Stine, 401 acres, seated by Wm. Moore; John Garret, 462.3 acres, surveyed to him, November 10, 1784, "on the path leading from Ligonier to Fort Armstrong, about six or seven miles from the fort." -- War, July 1, 1784.
James Elder, 343¾ acres, "on the Kittanning Path," seated by Sturgeon & McIntire; Charles Moore, 306-2/3 acres; Thomas Moore, 319 acres; Samuel Preston Moore, 305.6 acres; Henry Hill, 315 acres, seated by Geo. Shick; John Carney, 294¾ acres; Robert Elder, 338½ acres, seated by Robert Woodward; Jacob Evermonde, 346 acres, partly in South Bend, seated by Samuel George and W. Smith.
The first assessment list of this township, made in 1811, shows that the valuation of the occupied lands varied from 25 cents to $1 per acre. One small tract of thirty acres was assessed to William Dotty at 12½ cents an acre. The valuation of the unseated lands varied generally from 50 to 75 cents per acre, a few tracts at a dollar, and those of Timothy Pickering & Co., in what are now Wayne and Cowanshannock townships, at $2 an acre. There are not any unseated lands returned this year. The present valuation of the occupied lands ranges, generally, from $5 to $8, $10, $15, $20 and $37 an acre. E.K. Bloas' single acre is assessed at $150.
The order for the survey of the Jane Elliott tract is dated April 3, 1769, and that for the William Cowden tract May 16 next ensuing.
The dates of a number of the other original warrants are as early as 1773. On the 7th and 24th of January and the 7th of March, 1774, several of those tracts were sold by the warrantees to Richard Welles for five shillings per tract, each being described as containing 300 acres, viz.: the William Smith tract, "adjoining Jean McAllister, three or four miles from Tohoga's cabbins" (at the junction of Plum and Crooked creeks, on the west side of the former), "on the westerly branch of a large run that empties into Plumb creek;" the Charles Moore, Thomas Hyde, William Craig, Joseph Ogden, Samuel Israel and Thomas Morris tracts. Those and other tracts were sold one hundred and two years ago (counting from 1876) at the rate of five shillings for three hundred acres, as expressed in the deeds.
Names were given to some, if not all, of these tracts. For instance: the Mary Semple tract was called "Norway;" the Nathan Burns tract, "Oran More," 156 acres 153 perches, conveyed by Burns to John McMuIIen October 16, 1807, for £156 15s.; the George Stine tract, "Wheatfield;" the Isaac Anderson tract, "White Oak Bottom;” the Jacob Stine tract, "Monmouth;” the Abigail Sargeant tract, "Wolf-harborer;" the Robert Elder tract, "above the trading path from Ligonier to Kittanning," 191 acres of which became vested in Peter Thomas, then in Absalom Woodward, and then in Robert Woodward, "Elder's Vale;” the William King tract, "Palace;" the Stephen Lowry tract, "Green Park," on a part of which this centennial anniversary of our national independence was served by a large concourse of people of this section of the country.* Its various transfers are therefore, fully given: Warrant to Stephen Lowry dated July, 1784, who by deed dated December 11, 1786, conveyed his interest therein to Isaac Franks, to whom the commonwealth issued a patent therefor dated February 17, 1800, who by deed dated January 10, 1807, conveyed to Samuel D. Franks, of Berks county, Pennsylvania, for "six hundred dollars specie in hand paid," who by deed dated January 1, 1814, conveyed the same to Robert Sturgeon for $600, who by deed dated August 23, 1819, conveyed 162 acres and 26 perches to Thomas Sturgeon for $500, who died intestate in October, 1870. Proceedings in partition were instituted to No. 26 March term, 1871, in the orphans' court of this county. The inquest found that this farm of Thos. Sturgeon could not be parted and divided to and among all his children without prejudice and spoiling the whole, and appraised the 191 acres and 84 perches which it was found to contain at $42 per acre, aggregating $8,044.05. Robert McIntosh, the administrator of the estate, was directed by the court to sell it, which he did by public outcry at Elderton February 28, 1873, to John A. Blaney for $5,937.27. Exceptions to that sale were filed, but overruled.
The Bartholomew Mather tract was called “Matherton;" the Nicholas Rittenhouse tract, "Rittenhousen;" the Joseph Mather tract, "Josephton;" the Thomas Moore tract, "West Corner;" the Richard Wells tract, "Hope;" the Andrew Croft tract, "Contentment;" the John Davidson tract, “Chester;” the James Elder tract, "Eldridge Farm."
The warrants for the Joseph Ogden, Thomas Moore, George Snyder and Richard Wells tracts, elsewhere mentioned, are respectively dated June 20,1774. They aggregated 1,267 acres, and became vested in Thomas Cadwallader, of Philadelphia, Pa., who by deed, dated February 18,1808, conveyed them, with several other tracts,* to John Young, the then president judge of the courts of this county.
It has occasionally happened that landowners have become permanently divested of their titles by treasurers' sales for non-payment of taxes. A case of this kind is the John Cooper tract, 302.1 acres, below Elderton, on the eastern branch of the run that empties into Crooked creek, a short distance below the mouth of Plum creek, It was sold in 1822, by Samuel Matthews, who was then county treasurer, to Robert Martin, who conveyed it to David Altman, Michael Rupert and George Smith, They having divided the tract, Altman's part was conveyed to George Rowley, January 14, 1824, who conveyed it to John Ralston, November 8, 1835, for $400.
Within the last halt century the changes of titles have been very numerous, and the original tracts have been divided, respectively, among several purchasers. Thus, the Thomas Moore tract, northwest of and near to Elderton, became vested in Samuel Sturgeon, who by deed, dated May 7, 1860, conveyed 181 acres of it to James M. Christie for $3,000.
Among the early settlers of this township were also Abraham Frantz, Jacob AlIshouse, Matthew Rankin, Philip Rearigh, now the oldest man in the township, being in his eighty-seventh year, William Bleakney, John Downs, William Johnston, William Todd Clark, Sr., Daniel, Henry and John Frailey, Samuel, John, Robert and James Nolder, John Repine, Robert Sturgeon (1807), William Graham, Sr., Archibald McIntosh, Daniel George, who several years ago celebrated the semi-centennial anniversary of his marriage, the Ruperts, too numerous to mention, James Elgin, George Smith, George Smith (Irish), Henry Smith, whose widow and eight children survive him, Samuel and William Sloan, Jacob Klingensmith, A. Dunmire, George Otterman and William Moore. The last-named was a scout in Westmoreland county during the revolutionary and Indian wars. Among the papers which he left, now in the possession of his grand-son, John Moore, are a certificate, appraisement of damages, and a discharge, of which the following are copies:
I certify that William Moore of Westmoreland county hath voluntarily taken the oath of Allegiance and Fidelity as directed by an Act of General Assembly of Pennsylvania, passed the 13th day of June, anno Domini, 1777. Witness my hand and seal the 30th day of May, 1778. [L.S.] CHARLES FOREMAN.
A bill of damage William Moore sustained by the Indians During the time of the late war in Hempfield township, Westmoreland county. Apraized to £13 by us. A true copy. HUGH McKEE. JOHN SHIELDS. Octr ye 11th, 1784.
(All of Mr. Moore's horses and stock were stolen several times, but he did not apply for an appraisement for damages, except in that instance, and he did so then because a favorite horse had been taken. His bill was not presented for payment.)
I do certify that William Moore did belong to My Company and has proved to me that he is forty-five and is now honorably discharged. Given under my hand this 19th day of May, 1798. JAMES IRWINE, Capt.
Mr. Moore settled a mile and a quarter southwest of Whitesburgh, about 1816, and died December 7, 1827. The first metal plow, it is said, was introduced into this township, and into this region, about 1811-12, by James Elgin, who was very chary of it, gloried in it, and would not allow others to use it. Another man, without his consent, took hold of it and started a furrow at a plowing match or frolic. The plow having struck a stone or root, "kicked" and struck a fence, whereby both of its handles were broken. Elgin quickly showed his indignation at the liberty thus taken with his plow. The trespasser made light of it. An altercation of both words and blows ensued, in which the latter was knocked down. That mode of redressing grievances was not uncommon in those days, and yet the court was seldom occupied in disposing of indictments for assault and battery. Elgin had a chivalric sense of fair play, and in his attempt to maintain it on a certain occasion in an encounter between two other men, he broke one of his own fingers and left a permanent mark of his blow on the lower jaw of one of the combatants.
The first assessment list of Plum Creek township, while of course its territory was intact, indicates that there were in it then, 1811, two gristmills and sawmills, owned respectively by James and William Clark and Peter Thomas; seven distilleries, owned respectively by William George, William Johnston (two), William Kirkpatrick, James Kirkpatrick, Church Smith, George Smith and John Willis; one hatter, William Fiscus, and one innkeeper, Absalom Woodward; number of taxables, 120; population, allowing 4-3/5 persons to a taxable, 598. The mills owned by Peter Thomas, on the Robert Elder tract, were the only ones then within the present limits of the township. There are at present four gristmills in this township: J. Graham's, on Cherry Run, a little north of west from Elderton; the Peter Thomas mill, now owned by Prince & McGerry, on Plum creek, nearly a mile in an air line northeast from Elderton; the Fleming mill, on the north branch of Plum creek, a little more than half a mile above its junction; and James Johnston's on Plum creek, a few rods west of the Indiana county line. The township map of this year indicates the present number of sawmills to be three: J. Ralston's, about 185 rods above Crooked creek, on the first run west of Plum creek; T. A. McKee's, on Cherry Run, about three-fourths of a mile below Graham's gristmill, and J. A. Johnston's, on the longest eastern branch of Plum creek, about 100 rods west of the Indiana county line.
Plum Creek Presbyterian church was organized by the "Old Redstone Presbytery" prior to 1830. The congregation, about that year, erected a stone edifice about two miles northeast of Elderton, between Plum creek and one of its western branches. The facts of its early history are obscure. Rev. E. D. Barrett, a graduate of Williams College, and a classmate of William Cullen Bryant, gave one half his time to that church for one year, i.e., some one year while he was pastor of Glade Run church. He, Bryant, and Charles F. Sedgwick, of Sharon, Connecticut, are the only surviving members of their class in this centennial year That church was demitted in 1889 on account of the dilapidated condition of the edifice, its remoteness from Elderton and the organization of another church, so that it seldom afterward had even supplies. The Blairsville Presbytery disbanded it in 1845 and attached its members to other churches.
The Cherry Run Presbyterian church was organized by the Blairsville Presbytery in 1844. Its edifice is a neat frame, situated about a hundred rods southeast of Whitesburgh, on the Kittanning and Indiana turnpike. This church was supplied by the late Rev. John Stark until 1858, he having dissolved his connection with the Associate Reformed and having been ordained as an Evangelist in the Presbyterian church. After his labors ceased Rev. M. M. Shirley was its pastor until 1866; Rev. G.K. Scott from 1867 to 1869; it has since been supplied. Members, 92; Sabbath-school scholars, 85.
The Methodist Episcopal church edifice, also a neat frame, is situated near the Presbyterian at this point. The church is in the Knox circuit.
St. Thomas is the name of both the Reformed and Lutheran church, at the point of the disbanded Plum Creek Presbyterian church above-mentioned. There appears to be no record of the time when the Reformed congregation was organized. Rev. Wilhelm Weissel, as is still remember by certain individuals, preached for some time at the house of John Thomas in that vicinity, and continued to be the pastor until about 1851. His successors have been Rev. T.A. Boyer and Frederick Wise. Members, 44; Sabbath-school scholars, 35.
The Lutheran church at this point was organized about 1850, and was occasionally supplied until 1856. For thirteen years thereafter Rev. Michael Sweigert was its pastor. His successor, the present pastor, is Rev. J. Wright. Members, 38; Sabbath-school scholars, 80.
The erection of the present St. Thomas church edifice was commenced in the summer of 1867 – the cornerstone was laid in the fall, Revs. Michael Sweigert, F. Wise and J. Wright officiating, and the dedication occurred in the following winter. The building committee consisted of Geo. Rearich, John Sell and Luke Bierer. The building is frame, 50 X 45 feet. The consistory of the Reformed congregation then consisted of Abraham Jewell and Jacob Thomas, elders, and Herman Rearich and Nicholas Reefer, deacons.
The Mount Union Reformed Congregation was organized at the McCullough schoolhouse by Rev. Frederick Wise, May 28, 1804. The members of the first consistory were Elders Philip Rupert and Aaron Smith, and Deacons Obadiah Rupert and Adam Smith. The congregation soon after prepared to build a church edifice, and received assistance from individual members of other denominations. During the progress of the building a Lutheran congregation was organized and took a half interest therein. Its site is about two and a half miles southwest of Elderton. The cornerstone was laid June 23, 1869, on which occasion Revs. Frederick Wise, J. J. Pennypacker and J. F. Wiant, of the Reformed, Revs. Jonathan Sarver and J. R. Melhorn, of the Lutheran, and Rev. Byron Porter, of the United Presbyterian church, took part in the exercises. This church, dual in faith and in the election of officers, but one and joint in the ownership of the church property – in these respects like the St. Thomas church --was dedicated October 23, 1870, and the congregations were incorporated by the proper court December 15, 1871.* The edifice caught fire, in the midst of communion services, which prevented their completion, on Sabbath, January 9, 1873, and was consumed. A new brick edifice -- the present one – 50 X 40 feet, was soon after erected on its site by the joint contributions of the two congregations, and was dedicated June 7, 1874.
The number of members of the Mount Union Lutheran church is 50; Sabbath-school scholars, 40. St. Paul's Reformed, under the charge of Rev. A. K. Kline, a little more than two miles northeast from Whitesburgh, has over one hundred members, and its Sabbath-school nearly as many. The St. Thomas church, about six miles and seven-eighths north of Elderton, has about fifty members.
The German Baptist or Dunkard church was detached from the Cowanshannock church in or about 1863, and then organized into the Plum Creek church. The edifice is frame and is situated nearly a mile southeast of Elderton, on the John Davidson tract, called in the patent "Chester," on land now owned by Tobias Kimmell. This church has since its organization been under the charge of Rev. Lewis Kimmell, who has also devoted much of his time to teaching public and normal schools in that locality. Church members, 100; Sabbath-school scholars, 50. One of the five Sabbath-schools in this township is a Union school, i.e., consisting of scholars belonging to different denominations.
The first schoolhouse within what are the present limits of Plum Creek township was erected in 1702 on what is now John Sturgeon's farm, in the north-eastern part of the township, a half a mile or more westerly from an old blockhouse just over the Indiana county line. That schoolhouse was such a one of the primitive temples of knowledge as are elsewhere described in this work. It was built by the Hoovers, Johnstons, Repines and Templetons, who were early settlers in that region. Robert Orr Shannon was the first teacher within its walls. Another schoolhouse was built a few years afterward on land then belonging to Absalom Woodward, Sr., about fifty rods east of what is now called Idaho mill, in the southeastern part of the township. The first teacher there is said to have been a Mr. Donahoo. He taught in that house as late as 1802. Mrs. Jane Montgomery, widow of Anthony Montgomery, was then one of his pupils. The barbarous custom of barring out teachers was then in vogue, in case they refused to treat their scholars on holidays. Donahoo refused to do so on one of these occasions and was barred out. As he persisted in refusing to treat them, Abraham Woodward, Sr., as it is related, suggested to the boys that they had better let him enter the schoolroom, and then bar him in. They did so and succeeded in making him comply with their demand. When the teacher's compensation depended, to so great an extent as it did in former times, on the good will of his pupils, it may have been politic for him to have treated them on holidays.
Robert Sturgeon, now one of the oldest inhabitants in this region, remembers that there was in 1803 a log schoolhouse about 125 rods west Of Cherry Run, and nearly a mile southeast of Whitesburgh, near the road from Kittanning to Elderton, on land now occupied by Peter George; one in the southwestern part of the township, on land now occupied by J. Roley, the teacher in which was Cornelius Roley.
Robert McIntosh remembers an old schoolhouse on the old state road from Indiana to Kittanning, about 200 rods southeast from Whitesburgh, on land formerly owned by Henry Ruffner, but afterward by William S. St. Clair, in which a teacher by the name of Cook taught in 1810-12; one nearly a mile northeast of Elderton, on the public road leading thence to Plumville, in which Rev. John Kirkpatrick, of Greenville, Indiana county, Pennsylvania, was the teacher for several terms, from 1812 until 1815.
There was a schoolhouse in the northwestern part of the township, on a western branch of Cherry Run, on land now occupied by J. Boyer, in 1832, one of the teachers in which was Miss Ann Fulton, who, it is said, succeeded admirably as a teacher and a disciplinarian.
Anthony O'Baldain, educated for a Catholic priest, was one of the early teachers. John Sturgeon taught from 1846 till 1874, i.e., twenty-eight consecutive terms. All of these schoolhouses were primitive log ones. The free school system was readily adopted in 1835, and the requisite number of a rather better kind of log houses were erected, at suitable distances, throughout the township, which have since been replaced by comfortable frame ones. In 1860, the number of schools was 14; average number of months taught, 4; male teachers, 11; female teachers, 3; average salaries of male, per month, $12; average salaries of female, $12; male scholars, 387; female scholars, 325; average number attending school, 396; amount levied for school purposes, $1,100; for building, $300; received from state appropriation, $176.61; from collectors, $1,057.79; cost of teaching each scholar per month, 31 cents; cost of instruction, $672; fuel and contingencies, $195; building, renting, repairing schoolhouses, $310. In 1876 the number of schools (exclusive of three in that part of South Bend taken from the Plum Creek township) was 14; average number of months taught, 5; male teachers, 11; female teachers, 3; average salaries, male, per month, $30.45; average salaries, female, per month, $27; male scholars, 310; female scholars, 248; average number attending school, 375; cost per month, 77 cents; amount of tax levied for school and building purposes, $3,644.57; received from state appropriation, $407.34; from taxes, etc., $2,827.71; cost of schoolhouses, $771.05; teachers' salaries, $2,080; fuel, contingencies, collectors' fees, etc, $384.
The chief occupation of the people of this township has been agricultural. The assessment list for this year shows the number of clergymen to be 4; physicians, 2; laborers, 52; blacksmiths, 3; millers, 3 ; wagonmakers, 2; peddlers, 2; mason, 1; saddler, 1; shoemaker, 1; gentleman, 1. Mercantile -- Numbher of stores, 5; in 12th class, 1; in 13th class, 1; in 14th class, 3.
The mail matter for the people of this township is received at the Atwood, Elderton, South Bend, and Whitesburgh postoffices. The last-named is the only one in this township. It was established May 3, 1861, John A. Blaney being the first and present postmaster.
Whitesburgh is a small village, named after the late Major James White, who about 1828 surveyed and laid out its lots. It contains several dwelling-houses, a store, blacksmith-shop, carpenter-shop, hotel, and an office or offices of two physicians, Drs. Parke and Kelly. A short distance west of this village and elsewhere in its vicinity are grand, extensive, and picturesque views of the surrounding country.
A military company, bearing the name of Crooked Creek Rangers, was organized many years since. It consisted of about fifty or sixty men residing along Crooked Creek and its vicinity, from across the Indiana county line down toward its mouth. The uniform consisted of a homemade linen hunting shirt, dyed in a color like that of tan-bark juice, buckskin breeches, and a cap surmounted with a coon's, fox's or deer's tail, and each member of the company, at least each private, was armed with a rifle. When that company was organized and disbanded, and who were its officers, the writer has not been able to ascertain.
On Friday, March 28, 1828, occurred a circular fox hunt. The circle began at the house of Capt. Joseph Sharp; thence to Robert Walker's, on Crooked Creek; thence to where the state road crossed near Israel Thomas'; thence to James Speddy's; thence to Robert Woodward's mill ("Elder's Yale"); thence to Plum Creek bridge; and thence to the place of beginning. It was arranged that all the sections should move at the blowing of the horns, precisely at 9:30 o'clock A.M. A few days before July 12, 1837, occurred a heavy rain which raised the waters of Plum creek several feet higher than they had ever before been known to have been by the oldest inhabitants. The principal portion of the fences, grain, timothy, clover and other crops along the valley were destroyed. A large number of hogs were drowned. One farmer lost more than a dozen in one pen. A new bridge on the Kittanning and Indiana turnpike, and a less valuable one higher up the creek, were swept away. No lives were lost.
On Thursday night, December 29, 1838, the steam gristmill on Plum creek, formerly owned by Peter Thomas, but then by Robert Woodward, was destroyed by fire, together with two carding machines, belonging to James C. Fleming, and 1,800 bushels of grain, which the people of the surrounding country had deposited there. Hence, that fire was not only a private, but a public calamity.
The Plum Creek Farmers' Mutual Insurance Company was incorporated by the proper court, December 7, 1874. Its object is the compensation of its members for losses occasioned by fire. There have been a goodly number of staunch friends of the temperance cause in this township, notwithstanding the vote for granting license to sell liquor was 161, and that against it 86.
Is on the tract called "Wheatfield," which was originally surveyed on a warrant, dated August 18, 1786, to Sarah Elder, to whom a patent therefor was issued, April 14, 1799. By her last will and testament she devised that tract to Joshua Elder, who by deed of gift, dated June 19,1818, conveyed it to Robert J. Elder, who, November 20, 1822, laid out 14½ acres thereof into 41 town lots, fronting on Turnpike and Saline streets, which cross each other at right angles. Their width is sixty feet, and that of the various alleys is from twelve to sixteen feet. These lots were surveyed by James White. They are all, except three, 66X165 feet. The course of Turnpike street is north 22 degrees west; of Saline street, south 78 degrees west; and that of the southeasterly line of the town plot is north 89 degrees west. The original shape of the town was nearly that of a cross.
Mr. Elder, when he laid it out, named it New Middletown, and it is so designated in some of the early court records and assessment lists. The first house erected in it was a small log one, which was kept as a tavern by William Elgin, whose sign was about 18X8 inches, nailed to a stick stuck in a stump with this inscription on it: "Oats and whiskey for sale.” Mr. Elder then lived in a house afterward occupied by John R. Adams, on a farm now owned by Matthew Pettigrew.
The first assessment list of New Middletown appears to have been in 1824, thus: Thomas Armstrong, lot No.10, valued at $1: William D. Barclay, lots Nos. 17, 20, 21, 2 houses, $8; William Coulter, lot No. 3,1 house, $2.50; Daniel Elgin, lots Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9, 38, 1 house, $5.68; Samuel George, lot No.13, $1; John George, lot No.12, $1; Dr. Leonce Hoover, lots Nos. 19, 34,1 house, 1 horse, 1 head cattle, $8.50; John Kees, blacksmith, 1 house, 2 lots, $25; William McLaughlin, 1 house, 3 lots, $25; Moses Miller, lot No. 31, $1.12; Samuel Sturgeon, lots Nos. 41, 15, $3.50; Robert Woodward, lots Nos. 27, 28, 29, $3.50. The respective valuations of 20 unseated lots varied from 29 cents to $5. Among the earliest citizens of this town were Thomas Armstrong, tailor, afterward justice of the peace; Zack Kerr, chairmaker; Hamlet Totten, shoemaker; Joseph Klingenberger, saddler; William Lytle and William D. Barclay, merchants; Daniel Elgin and William Coulter, innkeepers, the latter of whom was justice of the peace for nineteen years; John and William Elgin, Robert Richey, George Shryock, A. W. Clark, George Smith, James Clark, now of Indiana, Pennsylvania, who established the tannery now owned by Charles Rosborough. John Ralston traded a horse with the late Robert Woodward for the lot on which he still lives, which he grubbed with his own hands. He and William Lytle entered into partnership in the mercantile business in 1831, which they carried on in the room now occupied by Dr. J. M. St. Clair.
Among the later settlers were, as the writer is informed, Andrew Kimmel, Drs. Meeker, Kelly and Allison. The last-named was a surgeon in the army during the war of the rebellion, and for several years past, he and his son, a native of Elderton, have practiced in Kittanning. It was in Elderton that Dr. David Alter first experimented in telegraphing, respecting which he says in a recent letter to the present writer:
"In 1836, while engaged in experimenting in electro-magnetism, in Elderton, I received the idea that the galvanic current could be made available for telegraphing by causing the deflection of magnetic needles, and in accordance made a plan for pointing out the letters of the alphabet by deflection, and was successful at the distance of 120 feet. But having no time nor means to pursue the subject then, I neglected it and did not apply for a patent."
There was presented December 8, 1858, to the proper court of this county, a petition of citizens of the town of Elderton, then in Plum creek township, setting forth that they labored under many disadvantages and inconveniencies for want of corporate privileges, and praying to be incorporated under the act of April 3, 1851. That petition was referred to the grand jury, who returned to the court that it was expedient to grant the prayer of the petitioners. On the next day, March 9, the court made the requisite decree incorporating that town into the borough of Elderton. It is provided by that decree that the electors of the borough of Elderton and the township of Plum creek might join in electing a judge and two inspectors of election, before whom the elections of the township and the borough might thereafter be held-the ballots to be deposited in separate ballot boxes, except those cast for judge and inspectors.
The boundaries of the borough were: "Beginning at a post on lands of William Bleakney; thence south 71½ degrees west 120 perches to a post in land of John Ralston; thence north 18½ degrees west 183 perches to a stump on land of John R. Adams; thence north 71½ degrees, east 120 perches to a post in land of Robert M. Gibson; thence south 18½ degrees east 183 perches to the place of beginning," containing 137¼ acres.
The first borough election was directed to he held at the house of Henry Smith, on the first Friday of April, 1859, of which Robert Martin was appointed judge and Robert T. Robinson and William S. Cummins, inspectors. Notice of that election was to be given by the constable of Plum creek township. Subsequent borough elections were to be held at the time of holding elections of township officers, which was on Friday next preceding the first Monday of March until changed to the third Tuesday of February by section three, article eight, of the present constitution of this state. The first borough officers were: Burgess, William Lytle; members of town council, Robert Martin, William S. Cummins, Robert T. Robinson, Bryson Henderson, Joseph Henderson; street commissioner, John Ralston; assessor, Henry Smith, assistant assessors, R. M. Gibson, G. W. Burkett; auditor, D. W. Hawk; constable, Elias Kepple; overseers of the poor, William Alexander, Noah Keifer; school directors, John H. Morrison, Joseph Klingenberger, Anderson Henderson, William Haslett, G. W. Burkett, Charles Rosborough.
By act of March 28, 1865, the burgess and town council were empowered to vacate and supply so much of the Ebensburgh and Butler pike as lay within the borough limits.
By act of March 9, 1872, the burgess and town council were authorized to compel by ordinance the owners of property fronting on any of the streets to pave the sidewalks ten feet in front of their respective lots and keep them in good order and repair. In case any owner or owners refuse or neglect to pave, the borough authorities can have the paving of such sidewalks done and enter up liens for the cost of the labor and material within sixty days of the completion of the work, having first given thirty days' notice.
The United Presbyterian congregation of Elderton was organized December 25, 1854, as an Associate Presbyterian congregation, with thirty-two members, as follows: Wm. Lytle, Mrs. Mary Lytle, Miss Elizabeth Lytle, Mrs. Nancy Henderson, W. S. Cummins, Hugh Elgin, Mrs. Mary Elgin, James Elgin, Mrs. Mary Elgin, Jr., Samuel George, Mrs. Eliza George, Miss Sarah McCreight, Mrs. Elizabeth Rupert, Mrs. Jane Clark, Mrs. Eliza Montgomery, Mrs. Martha Martin, John Ralston, Mrs. Jane Ralston, Mrs. Nancy Mitchell, Miss Nancy Mitchell, David McCullough, Sr., Robert McCullough, Mrs. Nancy Cullough, David Rankin, Mrs. L A Rankin, Mathew Rankin, Mrs. Margaret Rankin, Mrs. Mary Rankin, Sr., John Rankin, Mrs. Mary Rankin, Jr., Mrs. Jane Henderson, James McCreight.
Wm. Lytle and James McCreight were elected ruling elders at the time of the organization. Rev. Byron Porter, the first pastor, was installed in July, 1856. For three years Mr. Porter preached at Elderton one-third of his time, and from that until his death, which occurred November 28, 1876, one-half time. Mr. Porter's pastorate was quite prosperous, the congregation having a membership of over one hundred at his death. Until 1862 the congregation worshiped in a brick house which had been erected in 1849 as a Union church by the Presbyterians and Associate Presbyterians of the community. In 1862 the United Presbyterian congregation built the present house of worship, a single-story frame structure, at a cost of about $3,000. The house was not completed and occupied until 1868. Robert McIntosh and David Rankin were ordained elders August 16, 1856. Brice Henderson, W. S. Cummins, Robert McCullough and William Smith were ordained elders November 15, 1861. The session was further strengthened by the addition of S. B. McNeal, November 5, 1864; Alexander Hunter, October 21, 1865; and Thomas Sturgeon and John M. Hunter, October 3,1879. Wm. Lytle died August 17, 1873, S. B. McNeal in 187--, and David Rankin October 6, 1880. William Smith and Alexander Hunter were certified in 1878, and W. S. Cummins in 1878; Messrs. McCreight, McIntosh, Henderson, McCullough, Sturgeon and J. M. Hunter form the session at this time.
Rev. J. Buff-Jackson was installed pastor of this congregation in connection with Shelocta, Indiana county, December 11, 1877, and so continues at this time. There are at present one hundred and thirty names on the roll of the congregation.
The following are the names of the present members given as nearly as possible in the order of their admission:
Mrs. Mary Lytle, James Elgin, Mrs. Mary Elgin, Mrs. Jane Clark, Mrs. Eliza Montgomery, Mrs. Martha Martin, Robert McCullough, Mrs. L. A. Rankin, John Rankin, Mrs. Mary Rankin, Harvey M. Rankin, Mrs. Bell J. Clarke, Miss Clara B. Rankin, Mrs. Permelia Sturgeon, R. A. McCracken, Mrs. Bell McCullough, Mrs. Nancy B. McCullough, Hugh E. Rankin, Hugh H. Elgin, Mrs. Annie M. Rankin, Miss M. Ella Sturgeon, Mrs. Carrie M. Jackson, Miss M. N. Henderson, John M. Kepple, Cyrus M. Yount, Byron Porter, Joseph Fry, Mrs. Jane Fry, Mrs. Mary M. McCullough, Miss Maggie J. McCullough, Miss Amanda J. Elgin, Miss Mary A. Bleakney, Miss Iris J. Armstrong, Miss Annie M. McCreight, Miss Ella Hunter, E. L. Porter, John M. Rankin, Mrs. Mary A. Rankin, Mrs. Agnes J. McCullough, Miss Bell J. Rankin, Alexander Rankin, Mrs. Clara E. Rankin, Mrs. M. E. Harman, Miss Emma J. Painter, Miss Nancy J. Sturgeon, Miss Mary E. Lytle, Mrs. H. J. Ralston, Mrs. Elizabeth Keener, Miss A. B. Montgomery, Mrs. M. J. Ramsey, A. W. Bleakney, R. M. Keener, Mrs. E. J. Ralston, Mrs. Emma Smith, Mrs. S. A. Henderson, John R. Porter, W. D. McCullough, Mrs. Lizzie Lightner, Miss Bell J. Sturgeon, Miss Miss N.E. McCullough, T. N. Ralston, James A. Smith, John Ramsey, Mrs. Mary Ramsey, William Ramsey, L. C. Gibson, Mrs. C. Gibson, W. B. Sturgeon, A. B. Ramaley, Mrs. M. Kepple, Mrs. Bell Kaylor, Mrs. Callie Yount, Miss Clara I. Sturgeon, Miss Mary E. McNeal, James Smith, Mrs. Margaret Smith, Mrs. Nancy Schrecengost, Miss Della M. Rankin, Miss Bell H. Elgin, Alexander Clarke, Thomas A. McCullough, Alexander McCullough, Mrs. Jane Moore, James McCreight, Robert McIntosh, John McCullough, Mrs. Elizabeth McCullough, Mrs. Nancy M. Sturgeon, Brice Henderson, Thomas Sturgeon, Mrs. M. A. McIntosh, Mrs. Lois Armstrong, Mrs. Catherine Clark, Mrs. Julia A. Smith, Miss Maggie McIntosh, Miss Ellen McIntosh, Mrs. Mary Bleakney, Mrs. Jane McCreight, B. W. Armstrong, Mrs. Mary J. Armstrong, William Sturgeon, Mrs. Nancy Sturgeon, Mrs. Jane Sturgeon, Miss Nancy Bleakney, Mrs. Nancy McConnell, Mrs. Elizabeth Dixon, Miss Sarah Smith, William Armstrong, Mrs. Sarah Sturgeon, Mrs. Lydia A. Frailey, Mrs. M. J. Henderson, Mrs. Mary A. Elgin, John M. Hunter, Mrs. Emma Hunter, D. A. Ralston, Mrs. Catherine Bleakney, Mrs. M. J. Ramaley, Mrs. A. M. Porter, M. C. Ramaley, S. W. Smith, Miss E. I. Montgomery, Mrs. S. J. McCullough, Miss Ella E. Armstrong, Miss Alice B. Graham, W. Hays Elgin, T. Porter Sturgeon.
The Presbyterian church was organized by the Blairsville Presbytery in 1855. Rev. Wm. F. Morgan was its pastor one-third of the time until his death. The edifice is frame, 40X50 feet, on the northwest corner of Turnpike street and the street leading into the Rural Village road. Members, 85; Sabbath-school scholars, 75.
The Methodist Episcopal church is one of the churches belonging to the Elderton circuit, at present under the charge of the Rev. A. Cameron. The edifice is frame, and is situated on the extreme lot, as yet laid out and occupied, on the right-hand side of Saline street, as the observer faces southwest, near the present borough line. Members in that circuit, 230; Sabbath-school scholars, 280.
As early as, perhaps earlier than, 1826 there was an organization called the "New Middletown Schoolhouse Stockholders," to whom Robert J. Elder conveyed, for the sum of ten dollars, a lot containing ninety-two and seven-tenths perches adjoining, or nearly so, this town, on which a schoolhouse was erected, and the first school taught in it by Josiah Elder in 1828. That lot has been for years included within the borough limits. The building is frame. The school board contemplate securing the two lots adjoining that one and erecting thereon a creditable brick school house.
In 1860 the number of schools was 1; months taught, 7; male teacher, 1; salary per month, $20; male scholars, 31; female scholars, 34; average number attending school, 53; cost teaching each per month, 39 cents; amount levied for school purposes, $175; received from collector, $175; expended -- cost of instruction, $150; fuel and contingencies, $25.
In 1876 there was one school; months taught, 7; male teacher, 1; salary per month, $40; male scholars, 30; female scholars, 35; average number attending school, 56; cost per month, 66 cents; levied for school and building purses, $281.92; received -- from state appropriation, $75.33; from taxes, etc., $315.92; cost of schoolhouse, $14; teacher's salary, $280; fuel, contingencies, etc., $32.94.
The Elderton Academy was founded in 1865. The edifice is frame, one story, eighteen feet high, about 60X30 feet, with two rooms, and situated on the left-hand side of Turnpike street, the observer facing southeast, on the ninth block below Saline street The instructors have been competent, and the average attendance of students about forty.
A brass band, consisting of fifteen pieces, organized few years since, is one of the best in the county.
On the reception of the news of the first great battle in the war of the rebellion, and on the first intimation given that various articles were needed to make the sick and wounded Union soldiers comfortable, the ladies of Elderton and Plum Creek immediately, even on the Sabbath day, commenced preparing lint and bandages and collecting delicacies to be forwarded to the suffering with all possible dispatch, and this was continued for a considerable time before an association was regularly organized. Much -- there is no record of how much -- was thus done, some sending their contributions to individual soldiers whom they knew. Toward the latter part of the war an account was kept of the money and articles contributed. The aggregate of the former was $169.99, which the society expended for material on which they expended their labor. Thirteen pages, thirteen by eight inches, are filled with entries of shirts, drawers, packages of bandages, dried fruits, canned fruits, vegetables, etc., received and forwarded through the sanitary commission to the army. The money value of all the contributions made by this society from first to last cannot now he estimated, but it is fair to state that the gross amount, if accurately known, would appear to be highly creditable to the humanity and patriotism of those by whom it was contributed.
An approximate idea of the geological features around Elderton and throughout Plum creek township is derivable from the following compilation from "Rogers' Geology of Pennsylvania:"On Crooked creek, 2½ miles below Plum creek, the upper Freeport coal is seen 12 feet above the creek, and 42 inches thick as exposed; it soon dips under the stream. In the bend of Crooked creek the red and variegated shales of the Barren measures, with nodules of hematitic ore, occur 45 feet above the stream and fragments of green fossiliferous limestone 30 feet above it- The Pittsburgh coal occurs upon the upland surface three-quarters of a mile southeast of this point on Crooked creek.
The black limestone strata are seen rising west under the greenish strata, one quarter of a mile below the bend, and 20 feet above the creek. Over a dark greenish stratum 10 inches thick lies a nodular limestone 5 inches thick; this, again, is capped by green shales. Half a mile below this the upper Freeport coal rises to a hight of 51 feet above the water level, and is opened 3½ feet thick; roof bituminous shale, 1½ feet thick.
The ferriferous limestone rises from the creek at Heath's; it is full of small bivalves (terebratula, etc.) is flinty, thinly stratified, dark blue, and 5 feet thick. A quarry of silicious sandstone, greenish-gray and splitting into slabs, has been blasted in the strata, 20 feet above the limestone, which slate are used for tombstones in Elderton. Sandstones are largely developed in the bed of the creek below the next sawmill. A coal bed 1½ feet thick is there, from 20 to 25 feet above the water; the limestone is nowhere visible. A section made in the lofty sides of the valley at that place is as follows: Mahoning massive sandstone, 50 feet; upper Freeport coal, irregular (estimated to be 200 feet above the creek), 3 feet; unknown, 15 feet; Freeport limestone, 18 inches; unknown, 10 feet; sandstone and shale, 40 feet; Freeport sandstone, 50 feet; coal, a few inches; shale, 16 feet; sandstone, 4 feet; unknown, 41 feet.
Kittanning coal (possibly the ferriferous coal), 1½ feet; unknown down to the creek and full of fossils, 6 feet thick. Depth of salt well is said to be 500 feet. A little to the east of this appears to run the highest or axis line of the third anticlinal flexure. The Freeport limestone, bearing its characteristic minute fossils, has fallen so far in its level by the time it has reached Cochran's mill, 300 yards above the next saltworks, that it is but 24 feet above the dam; it is seminodular, and 2 feet thick. The upper Freeport coal overlies it 2½ feet, and is itself 3 feet thick. It is a thicker bed some hundred yards southwest, and the coal outcrop is 10 feet above it. A coalbed is seen at a level 100 feet higher in the hillside. Beneath it is seen a massive sandstone, but the fossils of the limestone seem decisive against that supposition. At the lower saltworks is a coalbed 3 feet thick and 60 feet above the stream.
Turning from the southern to somewhat beyond the northern boundary of Plum Creek town at Patterson's mill, on the Cowanshannock creek, the Kittanning bed, covered by 40 feet of shale, reads thus: Bituminous shale, 3 feet; coal and slate interleaved, vegetable impressions numerous, 12 inches; coal, 12 inches, 7 feet above level of water; floor, black slate. Lower down it reads thus: Black slate, 5 feet; coal, 5 inches; bituminous pyritous slate, 18 inches; coal, 15 inches; slaty coal, 14 inches.
Two miles west of Rural village, on a farm formerly known as Smith's tract, the upper Freeport coalbed is 150 or more feet above the creek, and is 4 feet thick, of good quality, but with a little sulphur. Ten feet below it is the ferriferous limestone, 5 feet thick. Fifty feet below the limestone is seen the lower Freeport coal, said to be 1½ feet thick. Upwards of 100 feet lower down, near the creek level, is the Kittanning coalbed, thickness unknown. This locality is on the east side of the fourth axis, and distant from it about 2½ miles; dip southeast.
Such are the geological features of the territory between Crooked and Cowanshannock creeks, in the scope of country comprised within the limits of Plum Creek township.
* Samuel Morris, Sr., was an original member of the Board of War, appointed by the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, March 12, 1777.* The question whether the Centennial anniversary of American independence should be suitably commemorated began to be agitated by the patriotic people of Plum Creek Townships and Elderton in the fore part of March 1876. A committee of arrangements was appointed at a public meeting held soon after, consisting of J.A. Blaney, chairman; D.B. Coulter, secretary; John Ralston, Robert McIntosh, L.C. Gibson, J.M. Hunter, D. S. Fraily, T.A. McKee, N. S. McMillen, Wm. Cessna and N. Reifer, Sr., who discharged their duties effectively and acceptably. A desire to partake in this celebration seized many patriotic people of the adjoining townships, so that early this morning large numbers started in carriages, wagons, on horseback and afoot from all directions for this point, this grove where a platform has been erected and other suitable arrangements made for the proper celebration of this Fourth of July, 1876. The number assembled here is estimated to have been nearly 3,000. Precisely at 10 o'clock A.M. Robert McIntosh, the chairman, announced that President Grant's proclamation suggesting and recommending the proper observance of this day would be read.
The order of exercises arranged for this occasion was partly carried out, thus:
Reading of the President's proclamation by the chairman. An eloquent and patriotic prayer by Rev. Byron Porter. Whittier's Centennial Hymn, well rendered by a chorus of a hundred voices, accompanied by a part of the Elderton Cornet band. Reading the Declaration of Independence by James M. Patton. Rendering the national hymn “America” by the chorus, accompanied by the band. Offering by the chairman the sentiment, “The Day We Celebrate,” which elicited an eloquent and patriotic response from Rev. A. Cameron. Recess for dinner, which was bountifully spread from numerous baskets on white cloths upon the ground, and keenly relished by the multitude who partook of the choice edibles which good housewives and fair maidens had neatly and carefully prepared. The recalling of the assemblage to the platform by a spirit-stirring piece, well rendered by the Kittanning cornet band. And, finally, the delivery of a portion of this historical sketch of Armstrong county, when, before the portion intended for this occasion was half completed, the vast audience was suddenly dispersed by the unexpected approach of a violent storm of rain, thunder and lightning, and thus the remaining exercises that had been arranged for the remainder of the day were, by a stern necessity, omitted.
*See sketch of Cowanshannock township.
*The charter members of the Lutheran congregation were – Rev. J. Wright, the pastor, Wm. Davis, Andrew Dunmire, S.A. Snappenberger, David Landis, A. Linsenbigler, Adam Long, Alvah, Andrew, David, Edward, James, Philip (of J.) and Samuel Rupert, John Sheafer, Samuel and Joseph Young.
Of the Reformed Congregation – Rev. Frederick Wise, pastor; Samuel __, Josiah Boyer, Adam, E.W., F.M., G.W., Josiah F., Joseph, Obadiah, Philip, Ralston and Wilson Rupert, J.F. Shoup and A. Smith.
Source: Pages 201-213, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert
Walker Smith, Esq.
Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883.
Transcribed December 2000 by M.D. Bloemker for the Armstrong County Smith Project.
Published 2000 by the Armstrong County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project.