History of Warren County, Chapter 16

CHAPTER XVI

DURING AND SINCE THE LATE WAR

 

Mutterings of the Coming Storm - The Outbreak - Call for Troops - Citizens of Warren in Council--Their Proceedings - The First Two Companies of Volunteers - Others in Readiness - Leaving Home for the Front - Brief Allusion to Other Organizations - Number of Warren County Men in the Field to November 1, 1862 - Events of 1863 - Tribulations of the Stay-at-Homes in 1864 - Relieved by Rebel Recruits - The Draft of 1865 - Probable Total Number of Troops Furnished - Victorious Rejoicings - Ladies’ Aid Society - Dedication of Cornplanter’s Monument - An Influx of Scandinavians - Another New County Project Defeated - Gradual Development of Oil Interests - Conclusion of Continuous History.

SCARCELY had the rejoicings of the triumphant party, which had elected Abraham Lincoln president of the United States, ceased, ere there came from the South murmurs of discontent and anger. How they swelled and increased through all that fateful winter; how State after State fell away from its allegiance; how the whole South resounded with preparations of war, need not be recounted here. It is a part of the Nation’s history. Here in Warren county, as well as elsewhere throughout the North, men looked on in amazement, hoping even to the last for peace, deeming it almost impossible that the lunacy of secession could ever ripen into the open madness of armed rebellion. Yet, the formal secession of most of the Southern States, the firing upon the steamer Star of the West in Charleston harbor while attempting to provision a garrison of United States troops, and the subsequent vigorous and imposing preparations made by the military forces of South Carolina, under the leadership of Beauregard, to besiege and capture a starving garrison of sixty men, under Major Anderson at Fort Sumter, had gradually prepared the public mind for more serious demonstrations on the part of those who proposed to establish a Southern confederacy. Hence, when on the morning of the 12th of April, 1861, the following telegraphic dispatch was received by Governor Curtin, its purport, though astounding, was not wholly unanticipated:

"The war is commenced. The batteries began firing at four o’clock this morning. Major Anderson replied, and a brisk cannonading commenced. This is reliable, and has just come to the Associated Press. The vessels (meaning the United States fleet) were not in sight."

Thus sped the startling intelligence until it was known and became the all-absorbing topic of conversation throughout the Commonwealth and Nation. The threats of Southern leaders had long since ceased to intimidate, and were regarded as so much froth; but to fire upon a United States fort and compel its surrender meant war, and the appeal to arms was at once accepted by the loyal men of the North, however much they deprecated the alternative.

Three days later (April 15) President Lincoln issued his proclamation calling out the militia and volunteers of the several States to the number of seventy-five thousand men. Upon the same day Governor Curtin was notified by telegraph that a call had been made on Pennsylvania for sixteen regiments, two of which were wanted within three days; that the city of Washington was entirely unprotected, at the mercy of assailants, and a sudden dash upon the capital was already strongly threatened.

The president’s call, accompanied by an appeal from the governor, was telegraphed to every part of the Commonwealth urging men to come forward in companies and squads, with, all possible dispatch, to the defense of the imperiled capital. Meanwhile the people of Warren county were not listless or inactive, and at the seat of justice of a county which had polled a majority of twelve hundred votes for Lincoln and Hamlin, the following notice was posted early on the 18th of April, 1861.

"The citizens of Warren county who are opposed to Treason and Rebellion, and in favor of maintaining the Supremacy of the laws and the government of our common country, are requested to meet at the Court-House in Warren, on Friday evening April 19, 1861, at 7 o’clock P.M., to consider what measures ought to be adopted to vindicate the character of our National Flag, recently fired upon and insulted at Charleston, South Carolina.

"C.B. CURTIS,                    RASSELAS BROWN,

"CHAPIN HALL,                RUFUS P. KING,

"THOS. STRUTHERS,       J.H. VANAMEE,

"WM. D. BROWN,             ISAAC H. HILLER,

"S.P. JOHNSON,                LEWIS ARNETT,

"JNO. F. MCPHERSON,    J.D. JAMES,

"H.W. MCNEIL,                 M. BEECHER, JR.,

"O.H. HUNTER,                 D.W.C. JAMES,

"April 18, 1861. and others."

In response to this notice many people assembled at the court-house early in the evening of April 19, when an organization was promptly effected by choosing Hon. Rasselas Brown, president; Robert Miles, Lewis Arnett, James Foreman and Richard Alden, vice-presidents; and John F. McPherson, secretary. Thereupon Hon. C.B. Curtis stated the object of the meeting, and moved the appointment of a committee of five to draft resolutions expressive of the sense of the gathering. The president named as members of this committee C.B. Curtis, J.D. James, Thomas Struthers, William D. Brown, and Harrison Allen. As a result appropriate and stirring resolutions were reported and unanimously adopted amid vociferous cheers. During the same meeting G.W. Scofield, L.D. Wetmore, Rasselas Brown, D. Titus, Thomas Struthers, and J.D. James, addressed the people with great effect. In fact the whole county was ablaze with patriotism and in an intense state of excitement. For a time party lines and political animosities were obliterated and forgotten, with the exception of a few found here and there who preferred fealty to a disloyal organization, rather than assume the proud garb of Unionism and loyalty to the old flag; but they were generally discreet enough to maintain a very respectful silence during the heated days of which we speak.

In the mean time recruiting volunteers for the war was in active progress, and hardly had the news of the rebel outbreak ceased to reverberate among the hills overlooking the Allegheny, ere a company known as the "Warren Guards" was organized at Warren, besides others at Youngsville, Sugar Grove, Columbus, and Tidioute. The company first mentioned was organized by the election of Roy Stone captain, Henry V. Partridge first lieutenant, and Daniel W. Mayes second lieutenant. Captain Stone, however, having another project in view, declined the position tendered him, when Harrison Allen, Esq., was chosen to fill the vacancy. The "Guards" expected to form part of Colonel McLane’s Erie county regiment, but that command was filled so rapidly by volunteers near by that the Warren men were shut out. It was then proposed to raise a regiment composed of Warren county men alone - a task which could have been speedily accomplished, as five full companies were then organized and impatiently awaiting orders. But soon came the news from Harrisburg that the county would be permitted to furnish but two companies - the "Warren Guards" and the "Raftmen’s Guards" - and that other companies must wait a new requisition for troops or disband, the latter alternative being advised.

Having declined the captaincy of the "Warren Guards," Captain Stone, began to recruit a company of volunteers from among the hardy raftsmen of the Allegheny. He easily secured enough to form a company, and on Wednesday evening, May 15, 1861, an organization was effected by the election of the following officers: Roy Stone, captain; Hugh W. McNeil, first lieutenant, and J.T.A. Jewett, second lieutenant. Although it was the last to be organized of the two companies first accepted, Captain Stone’s company was the first command to leave the county for the seat of war. This event took place on Monday, May 20, when the "Raftmen’s Guards," seventy-five strong, started for Pittsburgh in eight large boats, which had been constructed by themselves for this special purpose. A large number of people assembled to see them off, and speeches were made by Hon. S.P. Johnson, Hon. C.B. Curtis, L.D. Wetmore, Esq., Captain H. Allen, and Rev. Mr. Taylor. The company was handsomely uniformed in suits made by the ladies of Warren, of materials furnished by their captain, and carried their own rifles. They started at 12 M. sharp, each boat propelled by six oars, and as they moved away down the river were given a parting salute from Warren’s old six-pounder.

On Thursday morning, May 30, just ten days after the departure of the raftsmen, Captain Allen’s company started for Pittsburgh by rail via Erie and Cleveland. Its members, nearly ninety in number, were for the most part natives of Warren county. At Pittsburgh, however, at muster into service, some ten or twelve of those who started from Warren with the company were rejected, as unfit for service, by the medical examiner. This company, also, had been uniformed with suits made by the ladies of Warren, and during the many days passed here, awaiting orders to march, had been subsisted mainly at the expense of patriotic citizens.

In subsequent chapters we shall furnish brief sketches of the gallant part acted by the various regiments, companies, and batteries, wholly or partially recruited in this county. In this chapter it is proposed to merely give an outline of events connected with the county, but outside of the army.

During the spring and summer of 1861 many other residents of the county, who, determined to enter the military service, but finding it almost impossible to do so in Pennsylvania organizations, joined New York State regiments. Thus the "Tidioute Rifles," officered by Captain Thomas Cluney, First Lieutenant A.R. Titus, and Second Lieutenant W.M. Mew, joined General Daniel Sickles’s New York brigade at Staten Island, and scores of fine, active young’ fellows, from the northern part of the county, crossed the line into New York and became members of Chautauqua county companies. Indeed, one full company - B, of the Ninth New York Cavalry - was recruited almost wholly in Sugar Grove township. It was led into the field by Captain E.A. Anderson (late a minister of the gospel), who subsequently attained the rank of major in his regiment; but trouble came upon him, and in the autumn of 1863 he was dishonorably dismissed from the service of the United States.

Late in the summer Hon. Canton B. Curtis, a prominent attorney at law of Warren, was authorized to recruit a regiment in the northwestern counties of the State, including Warren, McKean, Potter, etc. Regimental headquarters was established at the borough of Warren, and the work of gathering in volunteers was commenced. But recruiting began to drag. The first great wave of excitement had subsided. The Bull Run disaster, also, had a depressing effect; besides, there were several other organizations recruiting volunteers in the same region. As a result men came forward slowly. At last, with about two hundred men (a considerable number of them being residents of Warren county), Colonel Curtis departed for Camp Crossman, near Huntingdon, Pa., about November 1. His proposed regiment, was designated the One Hundred and Fourteenth, but it was soon after consolidated with another fractional command, the Fifty-eighth, forming a full regiment, to be known ever after as the Fifty-eighth.

The year 1861 also witnessed the formation of the Eighty-third, One Hundred and Eleventh, and One Hundred and Thirteenth (or Twelfth Calvary) Regiments. All were three years organizations, and in all were found many of Warren’s representatives of the kind willing to face rebel bullets. In the One Hundred and Eleventh Regiment particularly were the Warren men numerous (nearly three hundred), in greater numbers, in fact, than were to be found in any other separate organization during the war.

In 1862 Company F of the One Hundred and Forty-fifth Regiment, Company F of the One Hundred and Fifty-first, part of Company I of the Fourteenth Cavalry, Captain James’s Independent Company, and Captain Baldwin’s company of nine months militia, were all recruited in Warren county. In July of that year it was claimed that the county, with a population of about nineteen thousand in 1860, had already furnished nine hundred volunteers. In August of the same year the county commissioners appropriated ten thousand dollars as bounty money to encourage enlistments. In November following, according to the report of the draft commissioners, the county had sent into the field to date - November 1, 1862 - eleven hundred and fifty-four men for Pennsylvania commands, and one hundred and sixty-six men for New York regiments, leaving a deficit on all quotas called for of only twenty-nine.

In July, 1863, forty-eight Warren county men joined Company M of the Twenty-first Cavalry, to serve for a period of six months. During the following month four hundred and ninety-two residents were drafted for service in the armies of the United States. Of these, however, nearly all paid a commutation of three hundred dollars each, thus evading the dangers and hardships, but missing the glory of marching, fighting, and eating "hard-tack and sow-belly."

The year 1864 was passed in fear and trembling by those who wished to stay at home. The armies had been greatly depleted by casualties in battle, disease, and the discharge of men unfit for duty, and the expiration of the time of service of many thousands of veteran troops then in the field would occur during the ensuing twelve months. Therefore the men of Warren, as well .as elsewhere throughout the country, had to bestir themselves in earnest, if not willing to shoulder a musket, the alternative was left them of handing out their money to pay for substitutes, or rather, as was generally the practice, of bonding the county for the amount required for such purpose. This last-mentioned scheme, however, worked unfairly; for the survivors of the war, the men who had fought the battles, who had cheerfully entered the service without promise or expectation of bounty or reward, came marching back on the conclusion of peace, only to help pay the debt which the gallant stay-at-homes had fashioned o’er themselves to protect their precious lives.

In January Warren county was called upon to furnish two hundred and fifty men to fill quotas. This was followed in April by another call for one hundred and sixty-two men. These requisitions were partially filled by drafting fifty-one men in June, and the enlistment of volunteers in Company I of the One Hundred and Ninety-third, and Company G of the Two Hundred and Eleventh Regiments. In August the county was again called upon for four hundred and seventy-four men to be obtained by draft or otherwise. On this call one hundred and seventy-four men were drafted October 8. These sad faced fellows, however, were never ordered to report for duty, for an agent, having proceeded to Rock Island, Ill., succeeded in obtaining a sufficient number of rebel prisoners there confined (who were willing to serve under the United States flag against the Indians, but not against their late comrades in arms) by the payment of a bounty of one hundred dollars to each, to fill existing deficiencies, and leave a surplus of one hundred and sixty men for future calls. The prisoners thus enlisted to fill Northern quotas had been captured at Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, and were chiefly natives of Kentucky and Tennessee. Subsequently, not caring or daring to return home, they added largely to the vicious, lawless element in the Far West known as the "rustlers" and cowboys of the plains.

In February, 1865, another, and as it proved to be, the last call was made upon the county for men. The number required to fill the quota was three hundred and sixty-seven. Thereupon another draft was made, and the names of those drafted were published. They, too, were in luck, however, for the war ended before they were ordered to report for duty, and in May following were notified, through the office of the provost marshal general, of their release.

From what has been stated in the foregoing paragraphs, it might be inferred that Warren county was called upon to contribute to the armies of the United States during the four years of war about three thousand men. But such a conclusion would be erroneous. To illustrate: If a call was made for four hundred men, and only two hundred and thirty were secured, the deficiency of one hundred and seventy would be added to the next requisition. Then, again, each time that a soldier re-enlisted, as many of them did, he was counted as an additional man to the credit of his county. It. is our opinion, therefore, that counting volunteers, militia, drafted men, and rebel substitutes, the county furnished not more, and probably less, than two thousand men. It contributed its full proportion, however, in comparison with other localities and its population.

On Monday night, April 10, great joy was manifested in Warren on reception of the news of the fall of Richmond and the surrender of Lee’s army. Returned soldier boys made the old six pounder roar as it had never roared before, the bells clanged, rockets mounted high in air, bonfires blazed, dwellings, stores, and offices were illuminated, while all of the inhabitants of the town, apparently, assembled on Water and Second streets, between Hickory and Liberty, and indulged in a general hand-shake.

These rejoicings had not ceased ere the whole county was startled with the announcement of the assassination of President Lincoln, and on Wednesday, April 19, just four years from the time the Massachusetts Sixth was attacked by a rebel mob in the streets of Baltimore, the people of Warren held formal services in memory of the lamented president. There were present Revs. P.P. Pinney, C.C. Parker, and B.L. Miller, of the village churches, also Hon. G.W. Scofield, who delivered the principal address.

When the smoke of battle lifted, and the wreck of war began to be cleared away, it was found that the "Soldiers Aid Society," composed of the loyal women of Warren, had well performed an important service. Besides making the uniforms for the first two companies to take the field, these ladies had sent forward many boxes filled with provisions and clothing for the sick and wounded in hospitals. They had also from October, 1861, to June, 1865, collected in various ways $1,737.33, of which amount $1,493.46 had been disbursed for the relief of soldiers, or their families, leaving $243.87 in the hands of Mrs. R.P. King (their secretary and treasurer) at the close of the war.

During the summer of 1865 the gallant bands of Warren county soldiers, who had gone forth to defend the nation’s life, came back from fields of carnage to lay down their arms and to engage almost instantly in the pursuits and labors of peace. Since that time but few events have transpired in the county requiring a mention here. Human nature is so constituted that while the story of conflict is almost always perused with eager eye, the story of labor needs the mystic touch of time to give it zest. The details of the progress of villages and townships will be given in the separate histories of each, and the development of railroads, etc., will be told in the chapters particularly devoted to those enterprises; so there is little left for this continuous record.

In 1866 the Legislature of Pennsylvania authorized the erection of a monument to the memory of the old chieftain, Cornplanter. It was finished under the supervision of Hon. S.P. Johnson, of Warren, at a cost of $550, and was dedicated October 18, 1866. Many of the Cornplanter Indians, including three of his children,* Senecas from their reservations in New York State, besides a large concourse of whites, were present. The monument then dedicated is placed in a conspicuous part of the Indian burial ground, having a base of sandstone. The sub-bases, together with the die and shaft, are of marble, and the whole structure, some eighteen feet in height, is surmounted by a suitable cap.

Upon the north side of the monument is very beautifully engraved the name and date:

"GYANTWAHIA. THE CORNPLANTER,

JOHN O’BAIL, ALIAS CORNPLANTER,

DIED

AT CORNPLANTER TOWN, FEB. 18, A.D. 1836,

AGED ABOUT 100 YEARS."

Upon the west side is the following inscription:

"Chief of the Seneca tribe, and a principal chief of the Six Nations, from the period of the Revolutionary War to the time of his death. Distinguished for talent, courage, eloquence, sobriety, and love for tribe and race, to whose welfare he devoted his time, his energies, and his means, during a long and eventful life."

Upon the south side is the further inscription:

"Erected by authority of the Legislature of Pennsylvania, by act passed March A.D. 1866."

The assemblage gathered at the dedication was called to order by Hon. S.P. Johnson, who made a few introductory remarks, which were interpreted by Harrison Half-Town, from the Allegheny Reservation. Prayer was offered by Rev. W.A. Rankin, of Warren, after which a very entertaining address was delivered by Hon. James Ross Snowden, of Philadelphia. Then followed an address by Rev. Mr. Rankin, giving a personal history of Cornplanter’s life, both as a warrior, chieftain and in the domestic circle. These addresses were also interpreted to the Indians present by Half-Town.

Soon after the close of the war quite a tide of Scandinavian immigration set in to this county, including Swedes, Danes, and Norwegians. The Swedes predominated and many of them purchased land and became farmers. As a rule they came poor, but by the exercise of habits of industry and economy, have, in many instances, paid for their land and acquired goods farms and homesteads. The Danes seem more inclined to pursue the mechanical arts than farming. They are expert and active workmen, hence much of the domestic manufacturing has fallen into their hands. Of some of the later immigrants of these nationalities little in praise can be said. Coming as common day laborers, with no apparent ambition, they have brought their skepticism and drinking habits with them and are not infrequently found in the criminal courts. Indeed the personal appearance of numbers of them is such - stunted, bow-legged, flat featured, and eyes without expression - that it would seem to be necessary for several generations of them to come and go, ere they will be able to take on the look and action of the typical native American.

In 1870 the county contained nearly twenty-four thousand inhabitants. During the same year the project of erecting a new county in this immediate vicinity was again brought up for the consideration of the State Legislature. This time it was proposed to make Titusville the county seat of a new county to be formed from Warren, Crawford, and Venango. Those in favor of the scheme worked zealously, and for a brief period felt assured of success, but through the well-directed efforts of Hon. Charles W. Stone, of Warren, and Hon. J.D. McJunkin, of Venango, the bill was defeated, and the hopes and aspirations of the Titusvillans still remain unfulfilled.

Meanwhile, through all the years from 1860, the production of oil had been eagerly pursued, first at Tidioute and subsequently at Triumph, Enterprise, Fagundus, and other oil fields. Fortunes had been made and lost in a day. Excitement, inflated prices of real estate, and the excessive amount of currency in circulation, all conspired to make men temporarily insane, especially when strong liquors were brought into use as an adjunct. Women, too, then as now, unsexed themselves by speculating in, and eternally talking of oil. But in these districts, as in all others developed before or since, the production gradually diminished. In many wells it ceased entirely. Then came the financial panic of 1873, low-priced oil, and real estate depreciated to the lowest standard of value. As a result many oil men and women, as well as others doing business in their midst, were, financially speaking, undone.

About 1876 the oil fever attacked North Warren and Glade, and business became quite lively in and around Warren for a year or two, but a majority of the wells soon ceased to produce, and times with the oil-producers and those dependent upon them for business became hard again. The next discovery of new territory by the pioneers in that business was in Mead township, or what became known as the Stoneham District in 1878. Here, the wells not being large producers, the. developments proceeded slowly, so that the extent of that field is not yet ascertained, nor its resources entirely exhausted. Soon the developments moved southeasterly, struck the south branch of the Tionesta, and followed that down to the site of Clarendon borough, where the first well was completed in July, 1880.

In the spring of 1882 "the oil market of the world was brought to a halt, and stood aghast at the announcement of some wonderful discovery made by some wildcat speculator upon lot No. 646, far in the wilderness of Cherry Grove township. For a purpose, of course, an impenetrable vail of mystery was thrown around it for days and weeks. The admixture of fact and fiction daily put in circulation about ‘the mystery’ had the desired effect. Speculators crowded the woods, bought lands, took leases, paid large bonuses, built houses, located villages, and established stores and drinking saloons on all corner lots. The ‘mystery’ and a few other wells turned out to be large producers for a time, just long enough to create a craze and induce adventurers to invest large amounts of money, give an ephemeral fame to Garfield and Farnsworth, project a railroad, and lose their money; a few months left their villages and derricks to be the roosting-places of owls and bats.

"After the excitement abated at Garfield it settled down for a while, apparently in disgust, at Clarendon. There it built up quite a city, in a swamp, and filled the surrounding woods with its monuments of enterprise and folly. But the spirit of oil speculation admits of no geographical limitations. It soon continued its explorations down the Tionesta Creek, through Tiona east to Sheffield, with varying success, and from thence down the main creek and up the north branch. It soon got out of the county in that direction, and is now operating largely in Forest county.

"In the mean time some developments along the Allegheny River for five miles above Warren created a temporary diversion in that direction, and the fields became known as the Wardwell and Glade Run districts. Operations are still carried on to a limited extent in these localities. The last oil furor created in the county was at Kinzua, in 1885. A few fair wells and some ‘mysteries’ occasioned a rush in that direction for a few weeks. But further tests soon dissipated the illusion of large production, and the territory was left to the operation of parties content with moderate profits.

"Upon the whole, although the profit and loss account has been very variant and fluctuating, the production of oil has been the source of much wealth to the people of the county. Large quantities of rough and poor lands were sold or leased to foreign speculators at fabulous prices, a great portion of which remain dead stock on the hands of the buyers, or have been abandoned. In many cases the settlers, also, thus made suddenly rich, for various reasons are worse off than if they had never sold. Had it not -been for the misfortune of having had inflicted upon Warren borough an institution styled an ‘Oil Exchange,’ where several hundred thousand dollars were gambled away, the county would have been much better off than it is.**

Of late years the discovery and utilization of natural gas as a fuel, and also as an illuminator, has given to certain lands in the southeastern part of the county prominence as probable good gas territory; but since the general surface has been so completely denuded of its wealth of pine timber, and the bowels of the earth hereabouts pumped almost dry of the much sought for greasy fluid termed petroleum, it seems to an outside observer quite certain that in the future those who remain here as workers, must devote more attention to agricultural pursuits and manufacturing than has heretofore been done, else the chances for starving are exceedingly flattering. The period of making fortunes in a day by lucky speculations or prospecting, and the reign of the boss lumberman, wood-chopper, raftsman, oil operator, wildcatter, scout, and moonshiner, have passed away. Henceforth, without a doubt, old Warren must take her place in column, and move along in an ordinary, uneventful way, side by side with counties, which, at the beginning, were less profusely endowed with nature’s bounties.

In 1880 in contained nearly twenty-eight thousand inhabitants. Its present residents are estimated to be about thirty-two thousand in number, of which those voting the Republican ticket still remain largely in the majority. 

* Charles O’Bail, the last son of Cornplanter, died in January, 1869. He always claimed to have been born during the "Big War," meaning the Revolution, and probably was nearly one hundred years old at the time of his death.

** Hon. S.P. Johnson, in County Directory.

SOURCE: Page(s) 161-169, History of Warren County, J.S. Schenck & W.S. Rann, Syracuse, New York: D. Mason, 1887