Chapter 41
East Franklin Township



The history of the origin of East Franklin township is practically identical with that of West Franklin, so we will commence this sketch with the events occurring after the separation of the two in 1868. Like its twin upon the west, this township was named for the illustrious printer, Benjamin Franklin.

The results of the first election in 1868 were: J.C. Claypoole, justice of the peace; Hugh Hooks, constable; Solomon Hooks, school director for three years, D.C. Quigley and Abraham Zillefrow, for two years; Henry Blair and John Montgomery, supervisors; Jonathan Geary, assessor; John Moore and John Summerville, overseers of the poor; Henry Dougherty, Thomas Armstrong and J.D. Carr, township auditors; W.G. Cowan and Sharon Mateer, inspectors of election.

Some of the earlier settlers were: Joshua Elder, George McCall, John Bowser, John Summerville, William Findley, Samuel Robinson, Francis Robinson, David Reed, Isaac Wible, John McAnninch, Joseph Brown, Asa Freeman, James Blair, John Cunningham, George B. Porter, J.A. Fulton, Andrew Porter, Joseph Boney, Alexander B. McGregor, William Lindley, William Noble, John Houston, Jacob Sweigert, Abraham Bowser, David Flanner, Anthony Cravenor, William Burnheimer, Peter Toy, John Bish, James Stokes, John Campbell, John Mann, John Kerr, John Titus, Thomas Herron, Thomas Willard, Andrew Milligan, John Mateer, Jonathan H. Sloan, Daniel Lemon, John Carroll, Thomas McClymonds, John Quigley, Daniel Henry, Andrew McKee, John Montgomery, John McKee, Andrew Milligan, Frederick Razo, Benjamin Leasure, Thomas Milligan, Robert Williby, Samuel Robinson, William Cowan, John Cowan.


The first industrial plant The first industrial plant in this township was the log gristmill of Thomas Willard, on West Glade run, near the center portion, which was put up in 1797. It was only operated until 1812. George Bowser was another of the early millers, his mill being on the same run, a few miles south of Willard�s, and was built about 1841. Sawmills were operated by James McDowell and James S. Quigley, in 1848 and 1852, respectively, the former on Long run and the latter on the site of the present Shawmut freight yards.

The early distilleries were too numerous to mention, about every hundredth settler operating one at intermittent intervals.

Above Quigley�s mill was the home of William Boney, who was the first to operate a carding machine in 1844.

The old Allegheny furnace was the result of the labors of James W. Biddle, the builder of the first one in this section-Rock furnace. Biddle erected the "Allegheny" in 1827 on the run across the river from Kittanning, for Alexander McNickle. It was similar to most of these old structures, being operated with charcoal. It went out of blast in 1837. Upon its site now is the new mining town of Furnace Run.

A company was organized in 1859 for the manufacture of oil from canned coal, the works being built near the site of the furnace, but the project was abandoned the next year.


Anthony Cravenor, about 1830, started to erect a sawmill at the junction of Slate Lick run and West Glad run, but he was so long on the job that the building was torn down in 1865 by Samuel Bowser, who built in its place a better structure. This mill passed through different hands until the father of the present owner converted it into a gristmill. J.F. Burford is the owner in 1913.

The hamlet of Walkchalk obtained its name by accident. A drum-corps was organized there in early days, and the members were rather neglectful of their discipline and irregular in their habits. A son of the founder of the settlement, John Cravenor, on a certain occasion remarked respecting that band, that if he had command of it he would make its members "walk chalk." Hence the modern name of this point. The Grangers several years ago erected a two-story frame building here for a hall, but on account of differences among them it has never been used for that purpose. It was afterwards occupied as a store by R.H. Toy, and at present is used as a residence by B.L. Toy. The single store at this place is operated by H.D. Smith, and the blacksmith is C.E. Toy. The population is about eighty persons.

Salem Baptist Church, Rev. James McPhail, pastor, is located near the village.


The first settler here, Andrew McKee, sold a part of this land to John Cristman, who, in 1818, built a sawmill and later a gristmill on Limestone run, almost on the line of Washington township. Near here in 1851 John Montgomery laid out the town of Montgomeryville, with twenty-four lots and two streets. Adrian post office was stationed here in 1852, with James Hughes in charge. The present official is John F. Bonner, and he and Andrew T. Milliken are the storekeepers. Dr. B.B. Barton is a local physician. Dr. James E. Quigley is also located here. The first industry at Adrian was the blacksmith shop of Chambers Frick, in 1877.


This town, near the headwaters of West Glade run in the northwestern part of the township, was laid out in 1849 by William McClatchey and named after the former owner of the land, John Cowan, who was the first postmaster here in that year. McClatchey called it "Middlesex," but the residents clung to the name of Cowansville, by which it is now known. The village grew very slowly until the construction of the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh railroad after 1890, when a station was established here. At present it is growing steadily and the population is about one thousand.

The storekeepers here in 1913 are Cowansville Supply Company, C.W. Jordan and Charles McClay. William Synder is the undertaker and U.O. Davidson handles tombstones and cut building stone. The resident physician is Dr. Robert G. Ralston.

The Dubois-Butler Brick Company have a large plant for the manufacture of building and paving brick, with a capacity of 40,000 per day. Harvey Fair conducts the blacksmithing and general repair shop.

The present postmaster is C.W. Jordan.


This little village is opposite Wickboro and is named from Frederick Tarr, who settled here in 1811 and in 1813 built a sawmill on the river bank. This was also the site of the famous David Helm�s ferry in 1797. At one time most deeds for lands in this part of the county mentioned the Helm�s Ferry road. Since the opening up of the Shawmut road this year (1913) the prospects of this town have become brighter than in the past. There are three stores here kept by Lewis Lash & Sons, R. Dentella and C.C. Ruffner. There is a United Presbyterian Sunday school here, but no church buildings.


Around the site of the old Allegheny furnace has in the years 1912 and 1913 developed a thriving mining town, the result of the Shawmut mines opening. An up-to-date village, composed of over seventy-five houses, a waterworks, power house and other necessary buildings, has sprung up in that time. The principal store here is owned by Jesse Hays, who is also the postmaster. Dr. W.S. Adams is the resident physician. The mines are operated by the Allegheny River Mining Company, D.C. Morgan, president; Fred Norman, chief engineer; John Chilcott, superintendent of development; John Armstrong, purchasing agent.

The Mohawk Mining Company, composed of Nathan L. Strong, Samuel Wallworth and Charles Ferne, was chartered in 1913, and the same year acquired the coal rights of the Charles E. Meals farm, between Furnace Run and West Kittanning, and is opening up mines, building a tipple and houses for the miners. This will practically unite the two mentioned places into one town, and develop a large settlement in that end of East Franklin township. This is only one of the many benefits that Armstrong county has derived from the opening of the Shawmut railroad.


is a town on the top of the ridge opposite Kittanning, occupied mostly by retired farmers and some business men of that city. It was once called "Bellville," after John Cunningham laid it out in 1855. The terminus of the chain ferry in 1824, and the old tavern at the foot of the hill on the Allegheny, were objects of interest to travelers here in early days. West Kittanning was incorporated as a borough in 1900, the first census after that being the one of 1910, when the population was given as 871. The storekeepers are P.P. Burford, Otis Southworth and J.C. Barnett. The West Kittanning Lumber Company have a large and well stocked yard here. Jerry Gould is the present burgess.

The assessment returns for 1913 show: Number of acres, 29, valued at $290; houses and lots, 218, value, $65,859, average, $302.10; horses, 42, value, $1,320, average, $31.42; cows, 20, value, $300, average, $15.00; taxable occupations, 252; amount, $9,475; total valuation, $77,244. Money at interest, $12,189.

In 1913 the number of schools was 3; average months taught, 8; female teachers, 3; average salaries, female, $46.66; male scholars, 87, female scholars, 84; average attendance, 109; cost per month, $1.00; tax levied, $1,407.84; received from State, $547.62; other sources, $1,346; value of schoolhouses, $3,200; teachers� wages, $1,120; fuel, fees, etc., $649.66.

The school directors were: A.L. Wolfe, president; J.P. Wible, secretary; Judge J.W. Painter, treasurer; D.D. Bowser, E.B. Shankle.


This beautiful and restful suburban town is the home of the most cultured and enterprising of the business and professional men of Kittanning. There are no industries or stores here, and the site upon the banks of the Allegheny is one of the finest scenic spots along its course. An artistic schoolhouse is located here for the use of the many little ones of the town.

In 1913 the assessment returns were: Houses and lots, 152; value of same, $110,202; average valuation, $725; six horses and five cows, valued at $200 and $100; taxables, 128; total valuation, $115,162. Money at interest, $41,115.96.

The school report is as follows: Number of grades, 2; months taught, 8; female teachers, 2; average salaries, $47.50; male scholars, 28; female scholars, 37; average attendance, 31; cost per month, $1.88; tax levied, $1,966.08; received from State, $273.20; from other sources, $2,246.80; value of schoolhouse, $10,850; teachers� wages, $760; fuel, fees, etc., $1,212.34.

The school commissioners are: George W. McNees, president; J.S. Porter, secretary; W.A. McAdoo, treasurer; M.L. Bowser, M.A. Milligan, H.G. Larkin. Arthur T. Hintz is the present burgess.

The population in 1900 was 122, and in 1910, 300. It is about the same now.


is a station opposite the mouth of the Pine creek, and since the building of the Shawmut has gained somewhat in population. There is an elevator here for the transference of freight and passengers between the Shawmut and the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh railroad trains.


The site of "Middlesex" or Cowansville very early became a prominent point by the organization of the Union Presbyterian Church here by the Presbytery of Erie, in 1801, in this then so sparsely inhabited region (about one settler to every 640 acres) that many of the men, women and children who first attended its services had to travel from four to seven miles, and afoot for want of passable roads. Those people were generally well clothed, and the fashions were then so durable that their articles of clothing were worn out before they were abandoned. Very little can be learned respecting the earliest membership of this church, save that the number was small, but they were zealous in their efforts to plant Presbyterianism in this part of the wilderness.

The first edifice, log, with chestnut pulpit and puncheon floor, must have been soon after erected in the latter part of 1801, or in the fore part of 1802, for Jacob Mechling, one of the commissioners who were appointed to examine sites for the public buildings in this and some other counties, says in his diary, on Sunday, June 6, 1802: "Proceeded toward Butler county, 7 miles" (from Kittanning) "to Boyd�s meetinghouse - heard him preach." It was called "Boyd�s Upper Meeting-House" in a road petition as late as 1845. The cemetery on that five-acre parcel is nearly coeval with the church, and the first person buried in it was William McKee.

The Presbytery met, June 16, 1802, within the bounds of Union congregation, and ordained and installed Rev. John Boyd as pastor. He, as moderator, James Barr, Charles McClatchey, William Noble and Joseph Shields, elders, constituted the first session. During Mr. Boyd�s pastorate, one-half time, nearly of eight years, till April 17, 1810, this church prospered. After he left, the pulpit was supplied for about a year by Rev. Robert Lee, and was thereafter vacant for four years. The next pastor was Rev. John Redick, who, having been licensed by the Presbytery of Erie, was ordained and installed pastor of the Slate Lick and Union Churches, Sept. 28, 1815, which he served alternately until the autumn of 1848, when he resigned his charge on account of his infirmities.

After being vacant till 1856, the pulpit was filled by Rev. David Hill until 1866. Following came Revs. J.M. Jones, W.J. Wilson, J.C. Shearer, T.W. Swan and S.A. Hughes. The present pastor is Rev. John C. Lincoln.

The old log edifice continued to be used until about 1820, when a frame addition was annexed to its eastern end, making the length about 70 feet, with the pulpit on the south side. That edifice was crushed by a heavy fall of snow on the roof on New Year�s night, 1840. A frame edifice, 60 by 40 feet, with a ceiling 12 feet high, was erected the next summer, which cost $1,400. The congregation, realizing the necessity of a new edifice, elected C.A. Foster, John and Thomas Leard, Thomas V. McKee, William Patton and William Wylie, trustees, who purchased a lot of ground for $330, on which, in 1873, a two-story frame church was built. In February, 1875, this building was burned, and the next summer the present edifice took its place. The cost was $3,600, and the dedicatory sermon was preached by the Rev. Thomas D. Ewing.

North of Adrian and almost on the line of Washington township is the Rich Hill United Presbyterian Church building. It is believed that this congregation was organized in 1811, as the records are destroyed and the traditions are the only source of information regarding it. Some of the original members were William Blaney, John Cowan, Archibald Dickey, Steward Henry, Thomas Herron, Thomas Milliken, Robert Orr, Sr., John Y. Stewart, James Summerville, Philip Templeton and John Young. The first pastor was Rev. John Dickey, who remained until his death in 1849. After him were Revs. William Smith, 1849-59; Thomas M. Seaton, 1861-70; John L. Grone, 1872-90. The first services were held in Philip Templeton�s barn and later in a tent on the site of the present burying ground. The first church building was a log one, built in 1820. The second, a frame, was put up in 1849 and used till 1912. The largest membership of this church was in 1851, when the congregation numbered 109. The church having been out of use for some years and in a bad state of disrepair, in 1912 it was razed and the site sold.


Probably the first schoolmaster of this township was Thomas Barr, afterward deputy surveyor of this county, who taught in 1811 in the log hut near the home of Isaac Wible. Another school was on the run called from it "Schoolhouse run," in 1815, the teachers of which were Joseph Bullman, George Forsyth and Robert Kirby. Kirby also taught in 1830 the school located at the site of Adrian. Above Adrian, in 1818, was a log school, of which the teachers were Wilson and Archibald Moore, John Reed and George Speers. John Dickey was the first teacher of the school located in early days near Middlesex. Another school, near the old log "Union" church, was conducted by James Hannegan.

All of these simple temples of learning were supplanted, when the free school law went into effect, by frame and brick buildings.

The school statistics for Franklin township in 1860 were: Whole number schools, 16; average number of months taught, 4; male teachers, 13, female teachers, 3; average salaries of male teachers per month, $17.61, average salaries of female teachers, $17.66; male scholars, 414, female scholars, 370; average number attending school, 476; cost of teaching each scholar per month, 42 cents; amount levied for school purposes, $1,675.36; amount levied for building purposes, $358.45; received from State appropriation, $211.46; received from collectors, $1,768.81; cost of instruction, $1,128; fuel, etc., $188; cost of schoolhouses, $382.

Schools in 1876 - Whole number, 10; average number months taught, 5; male teachers, 8; female teachers, 2; average salaries of male teachers per month, $33.18, female teacher, $31.88; male scholars, 235, female scholars, 234; average number attending schools, 353; cost per months, 75 cents; tax levied for school and building purposes, $3,000; received from State appropriation, $343.17; from taxes, etc., $2,961.83; cost of schoolhouses, $1,054; paid for teachers� wages, $1,645.38; paid for fuel, $497.37.

In 1913 the number of schools was 11; months taught, 7; male teachers, 6, female teachers, 5; average salaries, male, $46.67, female, $44; male scholars, 225, female scholars, 199; average attendance, 319; cost per month, each scholar, $1.91; tax levied, $3,657.27; received from State, $2,049.38; other sources, $3,620.75; value of schoolhouses, $11,000; teachers� wages, $3,500; other expenses, $2,123.09.

The school directors are: William G. Rodgers, president; Edward S. Armstrong, secretary; J.C Brown, treasurer; G.S. Zillefrow, C.E. Joy.


The occupations, exclusive of agriculture, of the people of East Franklin, in 1876, were: Laborers, 57; carpenters, 10; merchants, 7; miners, 6; teachers, 5; blacksmiths, 4; sawyers, 4; millers, 3; masons, 3; teamsters, 3; tenants, 3; ministers, 2; painters, 2; clerk, 1; cropper, 1; grocer, 1; cripple, 1; daguerrotypist, 1; innkeeper, 1; gunsmith, 1; ferryman, 1; physician, 1; shoemaker, 1; speculator, 1; wagonmaker, 1.

The assessment returns for 1913 show: Number of acres of timber land, 2,935; cleared land, 14,318; valuation of lands, $345,389; value of the houses and lots in township, exclusive of boroughs, $44,087; number, 272, average value, $162.08; number of horses, 278, value, $11,741, average value, $42.23; number of cows, 343, total value of cows, $5,864, average, $17.09; taxable occupations, 707, amount, $18,090; total valuation in township, $501,748. Money at interest, $92,935.63.

The population of East Franklin township was 1,451 in 1870; 1,695 in 1880; 1,575 in 1890; 1,860 in 1900; 1,850 in 1910.


The surface rocks consist of lower barrens, lower productives and the Pottsville conglomerate. A large quantity of Freeport coal is represented, but in many places is obscure by reason of its reduced size. The Freeport limestone is more easily recognized than the coalbed. Along West Glade run, however, the upper and lower Freeport coalbeds are large. The Johnstown cement is also here represented, but of little value, except as means for identification. The ferriferous limestone is along the river front through the entire length of the township, and its ore is on top. The ore was extensively worked by the Allegheny, American and Monticello furnaces. The Pottsville conglomerate is from 60 to 75 feet thick. The river gravel, including rounded pebbles of gneiss and granite, is found on the slopes near the Allegheny furnace, 100 feet or more above the present river channel. An ancient island in the river can be distinctly traced by means of this gravel and sand deposit, twenty feet thicker above Tarrtown. The Freeport sandstone is very prominent along the river front in this township. It makes a line of cliffs forty feet high, opposite Kittanning. The upper Kittanning coal appears directly below it, but is small and unaccompanied by the Johnstown cement, and the middle Kittanning coal is not seen at all in this vicinity. The interval between the lower Kittanning coal and the ferriferous limestone undergoes some constructive changes in this locality. At Tarrtown the distance between the two is thirteen feet. On the hill, directly below the old Boggs residence, the same interval is fifty feet, while opposite, at the Ross Reynolds quarries, not more than thirty feet intervenes between the two. The Clarion coal, one foot thick, is represented at the foot of the hill near the Shawmut depot.

The Kellersburg anticlinal axis runs lengthwise through the township, which is enters near Adrian and leaves in the neighborhood of Center Hill, North Buffalo township. The southeast dip from the Craigsville axis is sharply felt near Cowansville, in the northwest corner of the township.

The following sections are from "Rogers� Geology of Pennsylvania": At Furnace Run - top of the hill - shales, 70 feet; coal, 3 feet; unknown, probably shales, 42 feet; Elk lick coal, pure coke vein, 4 feet; unknown, 40 feet; upper Freeport coal, 2 1/2 feet; Freeport limestone, nodular iron ore, 1 foot; unknown strata, containing o�litic (egg-shaped) iron ore, 80 feet; lower Freeport coal, 3 feet; shale, limestone in nodules; brown and black shale, with nodular ore, 55 feet; Kittanning coal, 3 feet; shale with nodular ore, 27 feet; ferriferous limestone, overlaid by ore, from 30 to 40 inches thick, 14 feet; brown and blue shales, with argillaceous ore, 40 feet; Clarion coal, impure, 3 feet, is 135 above the Allegheny river. The Tionesta or Sharon coal is said to have been found.

A little farther down the river: Shale; upper Freeport coal; shale, 10 feet; Freeport limestone, 6 feet; shale and yellow sandstone with vegetable remains, 40 to 50 feet; blue shale in the river, 18 feet.

The highest point in this township, 1,526 feet, is in the extreme northwest corner.

Source: Page(s) 280-285, Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 19114.
Transcribed July 1998 by Michael S. Caldwell for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed by Michael S. Caldwell for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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