South Bend History
Written by Robert Walker Smith
Published in 1883

Woodward's Mills ~ Post Offices ~ Blockhouses ~ Early Settlers

      Absalom Woodward was first assessed with grist and saw mills in 1811, which he had erected on the southeastern part of the William Cowden tract, on the south side of Plum Creek, in the northeastern part of the present township of South Bend, where he resided for many years, and where he died in August, 1833.

      These mills were, for a long time after their erection, a noted point in this region of country. He devised the William Cowden tract, including these mill and various other tracts, to his son Absalom. The mill property has been subsequently and successively owned by Stacy B. Barcroft, George S. Christy and Reuben Allshouse, the present proprieter, who has changed its name to that of "Idaho," to which name he is probably partial on account of the valuable mineral acquisitions which he had the good fortune to make in the Territory of Idaho.

      Hugh Brown's store was located two miles below this point more than seventy years ago. He was assessed as a "store-keeper" in 1805. How many years before that he opened his store there, the writer has not been able to learn.

      The only postoffice between Kittanning and Indiana sixty years ago was at Absalom Woodward's. The record of its establishment having been destroyed by the burning of the postoffice building in Washington, in 1836, there is but little knowledge of it left. A postoffice was kept there in 1817-18, when Josiah Copley carried the mail from Indiana to Butler. He presumes that Absalom Woodward was then the postmaster, because he opened the mails. That office was probably discontinued when the one either at Elderton or Shelocta was established. In this connection, though not in the chronological order of events, it may be stated that the Frantz's Mill postoffice was established February 21, 1843. James Mitchell, Jr., was the first postmaster, and the South Bend postoffice was established April 6, 1848, at the same point, and its first postmaster was James Johnston, Jr.; the Olivet postoffice was established April 10, 1850, and John McGeary was its first postmaster.

      Prior to 1795, or to the time when the Indians ceased to be troublesome and dangerous in this region, there was a blockhouse on the John Shaw tract, on what is now called Jones' hill, about a mile a little east of south from the junction of Crooked and Plum Creeks, or Idaho. According to a tradition which has come down from the earliest settlers, there was, in those times, another blockhouse, called by some a fort, at or near the present site of the Townsend mills, and the South Bend postoffice. Abraham Frantz and others formerly found many bullets in the ground thereabout. Numerous flint arrow-heads of various sizes are still found on the Hugh Neely tract, now Alexander J. Montgomery's farm, and elsewhere in the vicinity of those blockhouses.

      The general, especially the early, history of this township is nearly identical with that of Plum Creek and Kiskiminetas townships; the dangers, hardships and inconveniences of its early settlers were similar to those of those two townships. It was along that part of Crooked Creek in this township that the earliest settlements by the whites were made in this county. Early settlers, as indicated by the assessment list of Allegheny township for 1805, within whose limits the present territory of this township was then included, were Hugh Brown, James and William Clark, Barnard Davers (mason), George and Henry Hoover, John Householder, John and Adam Johnston, Samuel George, George King, Daniel Linsinbigler, Peter Rupert, Sr., Peter Rupert (weaver), Samuel Sloan, John Sloan, Joseph Thorn (blacksmith), David Todd, and Absalom Woodward. It may be that the last-named then resided on the George Campbell tract, nearly two miles above Idaho, on Plum Creek.

      Twenty years or so later, Henry Allshouse, on the John Finney tract, Samuel Fleming on the Ann Kirk tract, Nicholas Fulmer, on the Erasmus Beatty tract, Jacob George, on the Matthew Irwin tract, William Heffelfinger, on the Samuel Massey tract, Nicholas Jordan, on the John Levering tract, Joseph Lowery, on the Rowland Chambers tract, Anthony Montgomery, on the Hugh Neely tract, JohnMcCain, on the John Levering tract, George and Henry Rupert, on the George Woods tract, James Smith, on the James Elder tract, Jacob Snow on the John Bringhurst tract, were residents in those parts of Allegheny and Plum Creek Townships now included in South Bend township.

      Among the residents, eight or nine years later, were John and Peter Dice, Alexander Lowry, John and Robert Smith, Robert Townsend, James and John Wherry in the Kiskiminetas portion; Jacob Allshouse, John and Jonathan Crum, Jacob John Samuel and Abraham Frantz, Peter, Samuel and Jacob George, Thomas Kinnard, Joseph Lowry, Frederick and Peter Rupert, John Shoup, Robert W. Smith--not this writer,--Samuel Sloan, Sr. and Jr., John Windgrove, William Wilkison, and Absalom Woodward, Jr., in the Plum Creek portion of South Bend Township.

      There may have been others in both sections of the township, and it is possible that some of the above-mentioned were at the time residents of Plum Creek township. The writer has formed his judgment as to their residence chiefly from the assessment lists of those various periods.

      Source: Page(s) 394-399, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq., Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883. Transcribed June 2000 by James R. Hindman for the Armstrong County Smith Project. Published 2000 by the Armstrong County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project.

      Source: Page(s) 394-399, History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania by Robert Walker Smith, Esq., Chicago: Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1883. Transcribed June 2000 by James R. Hindman for the Armstrong County Smith Project. Published 2000 by the Armstrong County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project.