History of Warren County, Chapter 38

CHAPTER XXXVIII

HISTORY OF SPRING CREEK TOWNSHIP

 

SPRING CREEK township was formed from the original town of Brokenstraw on the 8th day of March, 1821, and was called "Number Two" until the inhabitants named it as it is now known, from the stream which drains its soil. It is in the western tier of townships in the county, and is bounded north by Columbus, east by Pittsfield, south by Eldred, and west by parts of Crawford and Erie counties. Brokenstraw and Spring Creeks are the principal streams in the town. The surface is pleasantly diversified by hill and dale, and the soil is fertile and excellently adapted to agriculture, being especially favorable to dairying and stock raising.

Early Settlements. —The first settlement made within the present boundary lines of Spring Creek was on the Brokenstraw Creek, south of the State road, by Andrew Evers and Elijah Jackson. These two men came to this then wilderness together on the 10th day of November, 1797 and built the first cabin in the vicinity, a few rods nearly north of the present dwelling house of William M. Jackson. They came from what was then called Union Mills, now Union City, Pa. Elijah Jackson settled on the farm now owned and occupied by his son, William M., a sketch of whose life appears in later pages of this book. He (Elijah) was born in Litchfield, Conn., on the 27th of October, 1772. When he was a youth his father removed to Ontario county, N.Y., whence, upon attaining his majority, he went to Marietta, Ohio. There he and his companions were in constant apprehension of attacks from hostile Indians, having to remain in barracks when their business did not demand their presence elsewhere, and at such times being under the protection of an armed guard. Not liking this kind of life, Mr. Jackson came to this part of the country. In this town he remained—on the farm which he was the first to clear and cultivate—until his death on the 1st of September, 1845. He was worthy of the esteem in which he was universally held. He was a farmer and lumberman of enterprise and honesty, and a citizen of public spirit and fearless utterances.

Soon after their arrival, Andrew Evers removed to the farm now owned and occupied by Clinton Horn, where he remained until his death, some thirty-five or forty years afterward. He was of a quiet disposition, industrious and conservative - a good citizen. None of his descendants are now in Spring Creek. He used to say of himself that he was a citizen of the world, for he was born (of Irish parentage) in mid-ocean, in a vessel bound for America.

In 1798 George Long, with his wife and three children, came from the Susquehanna, and lived until 1801 with Andrew Evers. Then he removed farther down the creek, built a dwelling house, and in 1802 erected the first saw-mill in town, on the site now occupied by the Horn mill. In that year Elijah Jackson made the first clearing on the site of the present village of West Spring Creek, where he was succeeded by Joshua Whitney. About the year 1800 James Watt came from Lancaster county and settled west of the Brokenstraw, on the line afterward occupied by the State road, and on the farm since in the possession of Jamieson & Co. In 1801 Daniel Horn purchased the property of George Long, now called Horn’s Siding, and resided there until his death in 1869, at the ripe old age of ninety years. He was born in New Jersey, and served as lieutenant in the War of 1812. He was the third sheriff of Warren county, receiving the election in 1825; and in 1830 and again in 1838 was chosen county commissioner. He was a very active and successful business man. He operated a saw-mill on his place as long as he continued in business. His sons Clinton and Stephen are on the o1d homestead. Other children are Mrs. D.S. Prentiss, of Garland, and Irwin, Martha and Ellen, in Illinois. O.D., E.D., and D.D. Horn, of this county, are sons of Hiram and grandsons of Daniel Horn. John Horn, a brother of Daniel, as here at the beginning of the present century and lived with Daniel until the time of his marriage, not far from 1830, when he removed to Missouri and passed the remainder of his days.

Andrew Evers, Elijah Jackson, and James Watt were the first settlers on the William Miles, now the Irvine farm. Charles McNair and James Culbertson, bachelors, came in about the same time. Culbertson settled a few rods east of the place of Elijah Jackson, and McNair lived with him. There they built a saw-mill, which continued in operation until they removed to what was, at the time of their going, Deerfield township, in the second quarter of the century. Robert Boner settled previous to 1806 in the northern part of the town and built a log grist-mill. His was the first grist-mill in town. He was a good business man and public spirited, and it was a loss to Spring Creek that he remained here but two or three years.

The first list of taxables of the town, made out in 1822, reveals the names of the settlers who had made this town their home previous to that time, and attests that they were men of the right sort to open a new country—men of nerve and courage, who were willing to suffer hardships and privations for the promised reward of a settled habitation, where a competence might with diligent application be obtained; men of enterprise and foresight sufficient to see the benefits of living in a country covered with such valuable timber, and to take advantage of their sagacity. Such of them as remained in town long enough to identify themselves with its history are mentioned in the paragraphs immediately following, in alphabetical order:

Horace B. Abbey was something of a lumberman, who settled about the year 1821 a little southwest of the site of West Spring Creek. As early as 1840 he removed southward. James Benson was a farmer and commenced clearing a farm just north of the present place of William M. Jackson. He was there only five or six years, however, after which he went to Waterford, Pa., where a number of his descendants are now living. Daniel Boardman came to Spring Creek in 1821, and lived until about the year 1850 next to the farm settled by Benson. He was a farmer, and did not spend much time or money in the lumber business. Luther Chase came about the same time and lived in the same neighborhood, but went to Columbus soon after this time. He was a farmer and lumberman, and a man of unusual enterprise. Daniel Corbet is mentioned in this list, though all accounts of his settlement agree that he had gone to Columbus before this time. He was the first settler on the farm afterward occupied by Benson and Chase. It is probable that he is mentioned at this time as a property owner, not as a resident.

Robert Donaldson, also named in this list, did not become a resident until about 1830. He was born in Ireland in 1780, and settled not far from 1820 near Wrightsville, in this county, and soon after moved to Pittsfield. He was largely engaged in the farming and lumbering interests, was a man of great sagacity and energy, and was furthermore honest and fair in all his dealings. He was an unwavering Democrat. He owned about 900 acres of land, embracing the entire site of the present village of Spring Creek, having purchased the property in about 1830 from Thomas C. Rockhill, jr., of Philadelphia. He died in October, 1868, a short time after he had divided his property among his four sons, Daniel, Irvin, David and Wilson—all but the last of whom are yet living. Robert Donaldson also had two daughters—Eleanor and Cordelia, both of whom are now living; the former the wife of William H. Deming, the latter Mrs. Levi Leonard. Daniel Donaldson, now a resident of Spring Creek village, was born on what is known as the James Cotton farm, near Wrightsville, on the 2d of October, 1824, and came to Spring Creek with his father.

John Jobes was a resident of Spring Creek at an early day and worked in saw-mills. After a number of years he procured a farm about half a mile east of Irvine’s Four Corners, where he passed the rest of his life, dying at the advanced age of about ninety years, in 1885. One son, Samuel, and one daughter, Mary, wife of William Patchen, survive him. Harris Lasure was a respectable factotum of his town, and resided for a time on the western part of the farm occupied at the same time by James Benson. He left town before 1840, and died at Jamestown. His father-in-law, Abner Sherwin, owned a gristmill on the western part of the William Miles farm at a very early date. William Miles was never, properly speaking, a resident of Spring Creek, though he was an extensive land owner here. The farms occupied by James Benson, Luther Chase, and his nearest neighbors were all leased of William Miles, who also operated a large saw-mill in town. Eleazer Ogden resided for a short time on the William Miles farm, but left town as early as 1830. James Tubbs married the eldest sister of William M. Jackson; lived here many years, and died near the center of the town on the 15th of May, 1859. Thomas W. Tubbs, who married another daughter of Elijah Jackson, was a resident of Spring Creek before the formation of the township. After a long residence here he removed to Crawford county, where he died on the 16th of December, 1881. Marcus Turner was an early settler in the northern part of the town, and was a farmer and lumberman. After a residence here of but a few years he removed in the direction of Fredonia, N.Y., where he died. Alexander Watt, a brother of Mrs. Elijah Jackson, was an early settler on the place next east of Elijah Jackson, where he died on the 2d of February, 1866. One daughter, Mrs. Hannah Mallery, now lives in town. Converse B. White, an eccentric man, engaged in farming and lumbering about one and a half miles east of West Spring Creek. His family are all gone. He emigrated south under peculiar circumstances and there met his death. Joshua Whitney, already mentioned, worked for some time in saw-mills, and left town not far from the year 1835. He afterward married and died in Crawford county. This ends the list of settlers previous to 1822.

One or two of the most worthy of the early settlers of Spring Creek remain to be mentioned, however. George Yager was a man so invaluable to his town that a chapter would indeed be incomplete that did not give some of the incidents of his life and character. In the year 1825, when he was about twenty-nine years of age, he, with his wife Clarissa, née Armitage, and only daughter, Sarah, moved from Otsego county in the State of New York to this township, and settled on the place now belonging to the estate of Michael C. Smith. At that time the country was still an almost unbroken wilderness, and luxuries or even conveniences were hardly attainable. His early training had made him conversant with the labors of husbandry, and being a man of tireless industry and perseverance, these were not to him insurmountable obstacles. Both early and late he toiled, his energy seeming to increase by what it fed on. His farm is one of the most fertile, tracts in this section of the State. He was the first postmaster in the town. He was a man of rare virtue and moral worth, intelligent, high-minded, patriotic, firm but tolerant in his opinions, honest, devoted to his church and party. He died in 1881, at the age of eighty-five years. His wife survives him and is now living with her daughter, Mrs. Cummings, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years, in the enjoyment of good health.

N.P. Cummings, who married Sarah, daughter of George Yager, in 1837, was born in Bristol county, Mass., in 1813. He came to Spring Creek in 1835. Four children have been born unto Mr. and Mrs. Cummings, two of whom, George D. and Mary A., are yet living. George D. Cummings was born in Spring Creek on the 17th of August, 1842. He married Sue Woodbury, of Pittsfield township, in September, 1868, and is now a respected resident of West Spring Creek. N.P. Cummings left the old homestead (now belonging to the estate of Michael C. Smith, as before stated) and came to West Spring Creek in 1869, where he has for a good part of the time since operated the grist-mill.

Another prominent factor in the development of the town was Josiah Deming, who was born in Amsterdam, N.Y., on the 17th of November, 1791, and died in Spring Creek on the 8th of January, 1871. He came to Spring Creek from Unadilla, N.Y., in February, 1838, and purchased the farm of Aaron Rose, embracing the present site of West Spring Creek and the farm now owned and occupied by his son, J.O. Deming. This piece of land contained 149 acres, and at that time there had been but one village lot measured and sold off—the one now occupied by Curtis Johnson. Mr. Deming divided his land into village lots and deliberately started the construction of a village. He was a gunsmith by trade, and he at once opened a gun-shop, a saw-mill, and a grist-mill. This is the same grist-mill now owned and operated by Mr. Cummings. Mr. Deming also built the first hotel in town at that place, and was a most liberal contributor toward the building of the Union Church edifice, now owned by the Congregationalists. In 1866 he resigned his business into the hands of his children. His wife was Asenath Mudge. They had five sons and five daughters, of whom four sons and four daughter are now living. E.L. Deming, the eldest, was born August 1, 1813, and died in February, 1885; Julia A., now Mrs. Presho, of Yankton, Dak., was born May 10, 1815; William H. was born January 1,1817, and now resides at Erie; Salgy Amelia, now Mrs. J.P. Mather, of Council Grove, Kan., was born December 24, 1820; Sally Mailla, born March 3, 1819, died April 1, 1819; Euphemia J., born March 20, 1823, married Abijah Morrison, of Warren, and died about fifteen years ago; Loton Lamont, born April 17, 1825, is in Charleston, Ark.; Josiah Ogden, born December 10, 1827, now lives on the old homestead in West Spring Creek; Frances Jane, born May 4, 1830, is now Mrs. Harvey Thompson, of Charleston, Ark., Mary Amanda, born December 3, 1831, is now the wife of Daniel Donaldson, at Spring Creek village; and Andrew Jackson, born December 25, 1834, now lives at West Spring Creek. The mother of these children, whose maiden name was Mudge, was descended from an English family who emigrated to this country in Puritan times, the first of the name on the American continent being Joseph Mudge, one of the first and most powerful Methodist preachers in the country.

At the time that Josiah Deming came to West Spring Creek there was practically no village there. The only buildings on the ground now occupied by the village were a blacksmith shop and three dwelling houses, occupied respectively by Charles McGlashen, Eleazer Aken, and Josiah Deming. The village of Spring Creek was still later in birth, no sign of such a place being detectable in 1830, and for years thereafter Robert Donaldson being the only inhabitant of its site. The village did not assume the appearance of its present thrift until the railroad was opened. The first family to move in after that event was that of Baldwin Willis, who was division boss on this division of the road. His house stood on the site of the present residence of A.W. Jackson. The first station agent here was David Donaldson. The first store in the village was the grocery of Irvin Donaldson, where the drug store now is. Next was the store of Willis & Jackson, then of David Slasher, now of Erie, and next the store of William G. Garcelon. The first postmaster in Spring Creek village was David Donaldson, who was appointed by President Buchanan. Previous to that time William Garcelon had been postmaster at the mouth of Spring Creek, and when he came to this village, during Lincoln’s administration he succeeded Donaldson. At his death in 1876 P.M. Garcelon received the appointment. The present incumbent is Dr. W.O. Gilson.

The first tavern in Spring Creek village was opened by James Johnson about 1860, who after some five or six years sold the property to its present owner, Warren Fuller. It is now a private house.

Present Business Interests. - The oldest saw-mill now in operation in town is that of Curtis, Johnson, which is operated by steam. E.B. Hyde also owns a water power mill, which has been busy for more than twenty years. Davis, Jones & White operate a steam saw-mill, which has been in their possession a number of years. It was originally built by William H. Deming on another site, and removed to its present site. Wesley Nichols is the proprietor of a steam shingle-mill, a business with which he has been connected for some fifteen years. Bates & Phillis started a steam saw-mill about five years ago, which is now owned and operated by the junior partner of the former firm, James Phillis.

The tannery, now so successfully operated by Fred Beck, was built by him some fifteen years ago. The site of the present tannery of J.G. Tyler, at West Spring Creek, was first occupied by a tannery shortly previous to 1870, owned by Yennie & Manzer. It burned in December, 1871, and about twelve years ago the present building was erected by N.P. Cummings and F.A. Butterfield, under the firm name of Cummings & Butterfield. They were succeeded in the ownership of this property by McConnell & Hermens, by Tyler & McConnell, and the last-mentioned firm by the present owner.

The first store at West Spring Creek was opened by Charles McGlashen in 1836. There is now but one store in this village. It was started by George Cummings in January, 1877. In February, 1884, Mr. Cummings sold out to Myers & Stanley. M.A. Myers himself now owns the property and conducts the business.

The first postmaster in the township was George Yager, who received the appointment in 1828, the office then having the name of Spring Creek. While he was postmaster the mail was distributed at his house. At that time the mail was carried on horseback, one of the routes being from Titusville, through Columbus, and another from Meadville to Jamestown. Previous to the year 1837 the office was removed to the bridge on the State road (which road was opened 1818—19), and it appears that George F. Eldred was appointed postmaster. From there Mr. Garcelon carried the office to the village of Spring Creek, as before stated. The first postmaster at West Spring Creek was Nathaniel Wood, a native of Vermont, who was appointed by President Pierce about 1854 or 1855. In the mean time the store and mill property which had in 1837 belonged to Charles McGlashen had, about 1842, been sold to Abraham Woodin. The present owner of the property, Curtis Johnson, obtained his title about 1862. William H. Deming succeeded Wood as postmaster under Buchanan, and during the first term of President Lincoln gave place to his father, Josiah Deming. The office was kept in their store while it was in their family, the store having been first opened about 1850. This store is now occupied as a dwelling house by N.P. Cummings, who bought it in 1869, the same year in which he acquired title to the grist-mill. From the date of his appointment to that of his death, Josiah Deming remained postmaster at West Spring Creek, when he was succeeded by the present official, W.H. Babcock.

There is now no hotel at West Spring Creek, and but one at Spring Creek village, called the Cottage Hotel. It was opened six or seven years ago by Caroline Donaldson, widow of Wilson Donaldson, and was continued by her son, Frederick R. Donaldson, the present proprietor, after the spring of 1884.

Of the stores now open in Spring Creek village, that of P.M. Garcelon & Co. (the Co. being J.H. Donaldson) is the oldest. It was started in 1868 by W.G. Garcelon, brother of the senior member of the present firm. From 1871 to 1876 W.G. and P.M. Garcelon were partners in the business. From that year until the fall of 1885 P.M. Garcelon was sole proprietor of the trade, the growing demands of the trade, however, then compelling him to take into his business confidence Mr. Donaldson. They carry a general stock valued at about six thousand dollars.

William Baker began to deal in general merchandise at West Spring Creek about fifteen years ago. In 1878 he removed to Spring Creek village, and in the fall of 1881 erected his present commodious store building.

The trade in drugs and medicines now controlled by Dr. W.O. Gilson and C.D. Baker, under the firm style of Gilson & Baker, was established by H.P. Hamilton. After a brief period of trade, Hamilton sold out to Dr. S.C. Diefendorf about 1883. In 1884 J.D. Shannon became proprietor of the business, and in the fall of 1885 sold his interests to the present firm.

Physicians, Past and Present.—The first physician to exercise the mysteries of Esculapius in Spring Creek was Dr. Fitch, of Columbus, who was soon assisted without his own consent by Dr. Eaton, of Concord, Pa. One Dr. Cornell was the first resident physician in the township, and dwelt at West Spring Creek for two or three years previous to 1840. About that time Dr. Southard Wood came to West Spring Creek from Crawford county, and after a residence and practice there of many years he removed to Spartansburg, Pa., where he died. His remains, however, were buried in this township, where was, before, the last of earth of his first wife. Dr. Samuel Rogers also removed at a comparatively early day from Sugar Grove to West Spring Creek and remained several years. The first physician to reside at the railroad station was Dr. Elias Baker, who came from Concord, Pa., about 1874, and after a stay of two years returned to Concord. Dr. Diefendorf then sojourned here for a brief time, and was succeeded by the present physician of the place. Dr. W.O. Gilson was born at Titusville, Pa., on the 8th of January, 1858. There he received his education, and he studied medicine there under the guidance of Dr. W.A. Baker. He then attended lectures at the Western Reserve University, of Cleveland, O., and in February, 1883, received his professional diploma from the medical department of that institution. He came at once to Spring Creek and began to practice. In the fall of 1885 he was appointed postmaster at Spring Creek, and at that time began his career as a druggist. He married in June, 1885, Jessie, daughter of William Baker. The only other physician in town is Dr. W.L. Harvey, who practices at East Branch.

Schools and Churches.—The first school in this township was taught by Daniel Jones in 1804 and 1805, in a log house at the mouth of Spring Creek. The next was taught by Daniel Horn in 1809 and 1810. All the schools were supported by subscription until 1834. There are now fourteen schools in the township, those at the two villages each having two departments. The average attendance for the whole township is about 400.

The first church organized in town was the Congregational, which was formed at West Spring Creek in 1847, and the church edifice, the first in town, was then erected. The Methodist Episcopal Church edifice at that place was dedicated in 1875. At Spring Creek village a Congregational house of worship was erected about five years ago, the services therein now being conducted by Rev. A.B. Sherk, the pastor at West Spring Creek. The Methodist denomination also erected a house of worship at Spring Creek in 1886, the site being donated by D.H. Donaldson. The pastor of this church is Rev. A.S.M. Hopkins.

SOURCE: Page(s) 467-475, History of Warren County, J.S. Schenck & W.S. Rann, Syracuse, New York: D. Mason, 1887