History of Warren County, Chapter 43

CHAPTER XLIII

HISTORY OF SHEFFIELD TOWNSHIP

 

THIS township was formed from Kinzua, on the 7th of June, 1833. Its territory occupies the entire southeastern corner of Warren county, and is bounded north by Kinzua and Mead townships, east by McKean county, south by Forest county, and west by the township of Cherry Grove. It is very regular in outline, the northern boundary being the only one that deviates from a straight unbroken line. The land is drained by Tionesta Creek and its tributaries, and other small streams. This township, with Mead and Cherry Grove, was originally included in the limits of Kinzua township. The first town meeting after the town was set off from Kinzua was of a most primitive description. There were but seven men present at the meeting, which was held on the old farm of Timothy Barnes. Their bench consisted of a bob-sled turned upside down. There were not men enough present to fill all the offices, and those who were there merely agreed upon the persons who should perform certain duties, and thus sent in their report. According to the accurate memory of Erastus Barnes, the names of these seven were as follows: Timothy Barnes, and Erastus Barnes, Samuel Williamson, Stephen Taylor, John Williamson, John Brown, John Gilson. The only families in town at that time were those of Timothy Barnes and John Gilson.

Early Settlers. - The first tax list for Sheffield, completed in 1834, reveals the names of thirty-three property owners in the township, not more than twenty of whom were permanent residents. Several of them were mere squatters, who "folded their tents" and departed upon the slightest occasion, while others were men of prominence elsewhere, who in their speculative reach had taken hold of land or other property in this vicinity. The list is as follows:

James Arnett, 225 acres; Richard Dunham, 225 acres and a saw-mill; Timothy Barnes, 225 acres and a saw-mill; Asahel Kidder, 225 acres; Henry Snapp, 255; Melchi Snapp, 225; George Jones, 165 ; David Mead, 445 acres and two saw-mills; Thaddeus Mead, C. Mastin, 850 acres and a saw-mill; John Ingoldsby (Inglesby), John Williamson, 112 acres; Samuel Williams, on 220 acres; Silas Lacy, 450 acres; Nathan Lacy, 650 acres and a saw-mill; Patterson Lacy, Jeremiah Lane, 50 acres; Stephen Taylor, John Brown, Orrin Stanton, 225 acres; Joseph Carver, Stephen Carver, John Gilson, 225 acres; William Barton, Cabot Barlow, James Stedman, Christopher Stranger, Daniel Stranger, Lorenzo Mason, James Scott, James Gaty, Henry Snapp, jr., Archibald Tanner. The last named - whom everybody knows to have been a prominent resident of Warren - was taxed for 450 acres of land. In the above list we have not mentioned the personal property for which these persons were assessed, deeming it sufficient to state the amount of their real possessions. Below are given a few facts concerning the more prominent of these early settlers.

James Arnett lived in the northern part of the township, as it was then constituted, a little above the present Stoneham. Arnett’s Run derived its name from him. He was one of the earliest of the settlers in that part of the town. He remained there but a few years, however, before removing to the West.

Richard Dunham was one of the most prominent men ever in Sheffield township. He died on the 30th of January, 1870, aged sixty-seven years six months and twenty-two days. More particular mention is made of him in the sketch of M.B. Dunham, appearing in later pages. In May, 1832, he with his wife and infant child, in company with the now venerable Adam L. Pratt, crossed the Allegheny River at Shipman’s Eddy, assisted by Mathew Morrison. The crossing was made with two large canoes lashed together, on which was a platform of boards. On this were transported the goods, while Dunham’s cow and oxen swam the river behind the catamaran. The river being high, involved the party in considerable danger. On the south side of the river they met with John Inglesby, who had previously settled in the dense forests of what is now Cherry Grove township, but had become disheartened and moved out again. Dunham employed him as a guide in this wilderness. Their road lay over the top of the mountain northwest of the site of the Stoneham tannery, near which was a small log house occupied by a Mr. Brown, who had about an acre of land partly cleared. Here the party took dinner. The road has been described by Mr. Pratt as being little more than a trail, the underbrush cut off and the logs turned to one side far enough to let a sled pass. In many places they were compelled to widen the road in order that their wagon, the first one that had been over the ground, could pass. Night overtook them at what was called the "Blacksley Chopping," about three miles southwest of the present site of the Clarendon tannery, where there was a chopping of two or three acres, without a clearing or a house. A shelter was improvised of hemlock boughs, in which the party passed a comfortable night. The next day they came to the house of Inglesby, about half a mile from the present residence of Montgomery Farnsworth, in the township of Cherry Grove. They remained there several weeks, meantime repairing an old cabin on Dunham’s land, about a mile north of the Inglesby tract. In June they removed to this cabin, chopped and cleared ten acres, sowed it in wheat and had an excellent crop in the ensuing season. In 1833 Richard Dunham left his place in Cherry Grove and engaged in lumbering a short distance north of the present village of Sheffield. He was an energetic and public spirited citizen, through whose influence it was chiefly that the township was organized and schools started. In his later days he removed to Warren, where his wife still resides with their son, M.B. Dunham.

Timothy Barnes has been justly styled the pioneer of Sheffield township. He was born on the 4th of October, 1786, and died on the 10th of October, 1878. As early as 1828 he emigrated from Italy Hill, Yates county, N.Y., and built the first saw-mill on the south branch of the Tionesta Creek. His house was about half a mile south of where E. Barnes now lives. This mill he operated about two years, and then sold to Nathan E. Lacy. On the 4th of July, 1832, he raised another saw-mill on the site of the one now owned and operated by his son, Erastus Barnes, at Lower Sheffield. It was then closely surrounded by a forest of lofty pines, which stood like serried ranks of grim and silent sentinels, frowning upon the intrusion of civilization. One of these trees, to drop the simile, at the height of eight feet from the ground, measured twenty-three feet in circumference; another made seventeen saw-logs sixteen feet in length. When he first came to his wilderness home, he came from Warren, and was obliged to cut his own roads. The journey of fourteen miles was accomplished in four days. About thirty-five years ago Erastus Barnes built the grist mill near the old saw-mill, which was the first and only gristmill in town. Timothy Barnes was characterized by his charity and benevolence - a twofold quality which seems to have been inherited by his son, Erastus Barnes. "In the early settlements," Mr. Pratt has written, "food and provisions were often scarce, but Barnes permitted no one to want for either food or work - he was the ‘mainstay’ of the whole country. He spent the evening of his days with his son Erastus at the old homestead, surrounded by his children and in the enjoyment of all the comforts merited by a well-spent life."

It is related that the next winter after Timothy Barnes built his mill he went back for his family in the State of New York, while Erastus hired out to work in a mill at Warren. During the winter Erastus came back to see how the men who worked in his father’s mill were improving their time, and how they prospered. He made his way through the woods on foot and alone, and was followed the entire distance by wolves. The men he found had gone hunting and left nothing to eat in the shanty but a few spoonfuls of buckwheat and a small piece of venison. Of this young Barnes made a partial meal and passed the night alone in this rude hut, with the hungry wolves howling about his ears in an ominous manner. On his return to Warren the next day, he found the wolves had returned before him.

Asahel Kidder cleared a farm two miles west of Sheffield Station. After a residence there of eight or ten years duration he removed to Jackson Run, two miles north of Warren. His old farm is now used in the production of oil. He left no descendants in this town, though he has one son, Nathan, in North Warren.

Henry Snapp was a farmer who lived about half a mile north of Sheffield Station, where he remained until his death. He has several descendants in town now. His son Melchi (who died October 12, 1882, aged about seventy-nine years) had charge of the farm in later years. They settled there in 1832. William and John Snapp, now respected residents of this township, are sons of Melchi. George Jones, an eccentric character, who was accustomed to calling on his neighbors for "victuals," of which he devoured inordinate quantities, and who was known as "Brother Jones," because he styled all his woman friends as "Sisters," lived about two miles west of Sheffield Station for a few years, and then left for parts unknown.

David Mead, a shrewd seeker after wealth, lived on the southern line of the township, his house standing partly in one town and partly in another. It is related as a fact that when a sheriff from Warren county came for his arrest, he would invariably be found on the Forest county side, and vice versa. He had a saw-mill at this place. Some thirty years ago he removed to Warrenton, O., where he was soon after drowned while attempting to cross the Ohio River in a skiff. Thaddeus Mead was a brother of David, who never had a fixed residence in town.

C.C. Mastin was a wealthy man, who came to Warren from Yates county, N.Y., but who never lived in Sheffield. He built a large mill three miles below the forks in the south part of the town, now owned by Frank Henry, and which, it is said, has manufactured more lumber than any other mill in Sheffield.

We have already learned something concerning John Inglesby. He operated the Mastin mill for a number of years and then moved away. None of his descendants now live in town.

John Williamson, a bachelor, operated the David Mead mill for a time. He was here but six or eight years. A singular circumstance was that there were five brothers of them - Samuel, John, Nathan, and two others whose names are not remembered - who all lived bachelor lives and kept bachelor’s hall.

Silas Lacy was born at Bound Brook, N.J., on the 30th day of March, 1789, and died at Warren on the 27th of December, 1870. Few men of any country have lived a more virtuous, consistent, and faultless life than he. At the early age of twenty years he became a member of the Presbyterian Church of his native place, and was soon after elevated, by virtue of his pious zeal, to the position of ruling elder. In 1816 he removed to Yates county, N.Y., where he was again promoted to the position of elder. He came to Warren county in 1828, and became one of the pioneers in the roadless and unbroken forest of Sheffield township. After enduring privations of cabin life and aiding his brother Nathan E., in the operation of his mill in Sheffield for seven years, he went to Warren to pass the remainder of his life. There he resumed and for years engaged in the business to which he had been trained - that of a hatter. Previous to his coming to Warren it had been his custom to take part in religious services in Sheffield, and often also walked to Warren to church on the Sabbath. Three years before leaving Sheffield he was elected an elder in the Presbyterian Church of Warren. This office he held by successive re-elections until his death. In February, 1809, he married Nancy Parker, of New Jersey, who survived him two years. They had eleven children, only one of whom is deceased. One of the daughters is now the wife of Peter McKinney, of Pittsfield township.

Jeremiah Lane settled on the farm next south of the present residence of Erastus Barnes, and built the house which stands there to this day. He married a daughter of Deacon Silas Lacy, and now lives in Jamestown, N.Y., a. very old man. He went there at least thirty-five years ago. Not far from the year 1840 he built a saw-mill on the east branch of the Tionesta, which has long since disappeared, and the site of which is now a part of an oil field.

Stephen Taylor was born December 4, 1796, and at the time of his residence in Sheffield, a single man, worked out for Timothy Barnes, and afterward for Erastus Barnes. He it was who came first with Timothy Barnes and helped to cut the roads through the forest. He also built the mill. At a later day he was the mail carrier for this part of the country. He finally married, and on the 13th of August, 1878, died at the home of his son, Neri, in Forest county. He was a soldier of the War of 1812.

John Brown, the father of the famous ornamental penman, Delavan Brown,, who was born in Sheffield, came to the town to reside on the west bank of the Tionesta in 1832, the year in which the tide of immigration in early days had reached the flood. He afterward moved to Chautauqua county, N.Y., where he died.

Orrin L. Stanton settled about the same time about on the present site of Barnes Station, in Lower Sheffield, where he kept the first store and the first post-office in town. The Warren and Ridgeway turnpike was built by the State, and commenced in the summer 1832. Orrin Stanton built the first section of it, from the summit north of Stoneham to the river, and it was probably this business which brought to his notice the desirability of living in this fertile region. It is said that for a time he kept the little hotel in Warren which stood on the site of the present Carver House. He afterward removed to Smethport and thence to Kinzua, where he now has relatives and descendants. While he was postmaster the mail was carried once a week between Warren and Ridgeway, and his brother, Daniel Stanton, was the carrier.

Joseph Carver operated the mill of Timothy Barnes, and rented it a year or two. Stephen Carver was his brother and partner in the mill. After a residence here of two or three years they removed to Warren. Stephen Carver built and named the Carver House in that place.

John Gilson was one of the most prominent men that have figured in the history of Sheffield. He was born on the 20th of May, 1797, and died June 17, 1884. During his residence in this township he lived on the site of Gilson Station, which derived its name from his descendants. His widow still resides in town. Four sons also live here, Rufus, Curtis, James, and John. Carver Gilson, another son, named after the Carver family, now lives near Fredonia, N.Y. One who is in every way competent to state the facts, writes thus concerning the life in this county of the subject of this notice:

"John Gilson, sr., brought his family on a raft from Olean to Warren the day John, jr., was six years old. (This must have been on May 20, 1803.) They lived in an old storehouse that stood where the Carver House now stands, until they put up a log house - one of the first families to settle in Warren. John was about fourteen years old when his father died, leaving him and his sisters to support their mother, who died four or five years later, and was the first person buried in Warren. The father was buried about three miles up the Conewango Creek. John, jr., was the youngest of a family of ten children. While he was supporting his mother he worked for a man by the name of Reese (who lived three miles below Warren) twenty-one days for a barrel of flour, cutting cord wood at the rate of four cords a day. The place now called Sheffield was then called ‘Forks of Tionesta,’ and he helped to run the lands through the region for miles around. He was then about sixteen years old. He was with Colonel Dale, surveying, who advised and helped him to buy the lot 358, which was covered with fine pine timber. He made his home in Warren most of the time. He followed the river, rafting, canoeing, and boating, until he was thirty years old. There is not a mile of the river bank between Warren and Pittsburgh that he has not slept on in his trips. He began work at the ‘Forks’ in January, 1820. He chopped about an acre, and put up a plank house twelve feet by sixteen in dimensions. On the 10th of February he married and came to live in this house the same week, making the journey with horses and sleighs on the ice, there being no roads. In April he went to Franklin to buy a yoke of oxen, and brought back seed potatoes and oats on a sled. From lack of roads his progress was slow, and he was overtaken by night in the forest. Wolves and owls were his company. He was gone just a week, while his young wife was left alone all that time. The only family living within ten miles of his home was that of Mr. Barnes, who had moved here just a week before. Asa Barnes, aged about sixteen years, stayed in the house with her nights, while she passed much of her time during the long days listening to the twittering of winter birds, and fishing. She caught many a trout weighing a pound and a pound and a half. The wolves kept up their howling about every night. When Mr. Gilson reached home he set about clearing his land, after doing which he was at a loss for a drag. He finally succeeded in constructing one, teeth and all of wood. When the oxen first began to draw the drag, it caught for a second on some roots, and then bounded against the oxen’s heels, which ran as if for life. John came in the house laughing, and said he thought his oxen were possessed of the evil spirit. The first year he raised turnips, potatoes, and oats enough to keep a yoke of cattle and a cow. Winters he passed in cutting square timber and running it down the Tionesta, while he passed his summers in clearing and cultivating land. There was about here a great amount of land sold for taxes, several lots of which he bid off for the sake of the timber. In 1844 he built a saw-mill and ran his lumber to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Louisville, supporting his family in this manner until 1865, when he sold out all but the improved lands. These he divided between three sons who were married, and took the rest of the family to Fredonia, Chautauqua county, N.Y., where he bought a farm. He stayed there fourteen years, and was then compelled, on account of poor health, to return to his old home in Sheffield, where he bought half an acre of land and built himself a house. He buried five children in the Sheffield cemetery. Electa died at the age of six years, Sarah at the age of two, John H. at ten, Gilbert at two, while George S. enlisted in the War of the Rebellion and was killed at the battle of Gaines’s Mills, when twenty years of age."

The above paragraphs were taken from an interesting letter from Mrs. Gilson, the widow of the subject of this notice, who also writes: "When we first moved here to the ‘Forks’ of the Tionesta Creek, our house stood near the bank of the creek. There was a plenty of wild game at that time. We could very often see deer swimming in the creek. John could kill one almost any time. We frequently saw them feeding with the cattle. There were also wolves and bears in abundance. He killed several bears, and caught several wolves in steel traps, for the scalps of each one of which he received a bounty of twelve dollars.

"We had visitors every fall. The Indians, who came every fall to hunt camped around us. I often went to see them in their camps, and buy baskets. The first fall after we came here I saw wild turkey tracks in the first snow that fell; they were quite near the house; I told John I thought I could catch one with a trap, and accordingly set one baited with oats. The next morning I heard the chains rattling, and on going to the trap found a fine fat turkey struggling for liberty; I broke his neck with a stick. After the Warren and Ridgeway turnpike was opened we built a new house, back on the road, large enough for a hotel. One day, while the men were at work on the house, a deer came swimming up the creek. I seized a gun, and resting it on a pile of boards, shot and killed it. The men dressed it. That night we heard a mournful howling down the creek. John set a steel trap next morning, baited with the deer’s head, and we soon caught a wolf. We supposed that the wolves had driven the deer down the river. At that time there was no store nor grocery nearer than Warren. As soon as the road was finished the farmers from the State of New York began teaming through here, and carried everything from a spool of thread to a barrel of flour. We could buy everything we wanted of them. They carried provisions to the iron country and came back loaded with iron. After a time we commenced keeping hotel and post-office, remaining in the hotel twelve or fourteen years."*

James T. Osgood was born in Rockingham county, N.H., on the 10th of October, 1808. He is a descendant of William Osgood, one of three brothers who came from England in 1636 and settled in Southern New Hampshire. Chase Osgood, father of James, settled still farther in the interior. James Osgood came to Sheffield township in 1848, and has been one of the justices of the peace in town for the last thirty-three consecutive years. His business for the first few years in Sheffield was shoemaking. In February, 1832, he married Jane, a daughter of Jacob Cole, of Sussex county, N.J., who is living yet. They have had ten children, six of whom, four daughters and two sons, are still living. Both sons, Chase and Henry, were in the army during the last war. When he came here in 1848 the surface of the township was covered almost entirely with a dense growth of pine, mingled with considerable hemlock timber. The lumber business was then at about its most active period. It lasted with almost equal activity until about 1860, and since then has somewhat declined, though it is even now by no means extinct. The pine was about all gone, however, by the close of the last war.

In the winter of 1864, after J.F. Schoellkopf of Buffalo, had purchased some land of Daniel D. Bowers and of John Gilson, an oil excitement was created, and all the rest of the property about where the village of Sheffield now stands was sold for the purpose of producing oil. Lands of Elias Kingsley, Elihu Kingsley, John Russell, Stephen Andrews, Captain Wallace, and James T. Osgood were sold to non-residents, who intended to drill for oil. Drilling was done, but by reason of the ignorance then prevailing concerning the proper method of testing, no oil was discovered, and the lands which had so recently enriched the vendors and impoverished the vendees, were sold for nominal prices or for taxes. This was in the winter of 1865. No paying well was drilled until 1881; when the firm of Crary, Sigel & Co., consisting of Walter Horton, Jerry Crary, and Charles Sigel as members, associated with James Magee, of Warren, started a well with a production of about fifty barrels a day, which is still producing about five barrels a day. There are now eleven wells on what is known as the Donaldson farm, and twenty-three wells on adjoining lands. Other oil firms here now are Melvin, Walker & Howe, Clark & Armor, the Union Oil Company, and many others. The first gas was struck by W.W. Hague, of Tidioute, in 1875 on lands of Horton, Crary & Co. The same well now furnishes the town with gas and has shown no diminution since the end of the first six months. Among many private gas wells may be mentioned those of Erastus Barnes and Mrs. L.M. Barnes.

It will be seen that these various industries, coupled with the extensive tanning business which will soon be mentioned more at length, have conspired to keep the agricultural resources of the township from emerging from their rudimentary state. The soil of the town is well adapted for some kinds of farming, especially the raising of grain and fruit, but not particularly fitted for dairying. The lowlands are composed of a sandy loam, and the uplands of a gravelly clay. The decline of the lumber interest has conduced to develop an interest in the agricultural possibilities of the town, and farming has become one of the infant industries of the region.

Municipal History. - Contrary to the natural supposition of a strange visitor to the township, the fact is that the little settlement called Lower Sheffield, at Barnes Station, is by far the oldest village in the township, and was indeed looked upon as the only village in the town for many years before it conceived the probability of having the present Sheffield village for a rival. It was here that Stanton first sold goods, and that Gilson first kept tavern. In 1839 John Gilson built this tavern, which, after twelve or fourteen years, went into the hands of George Messenger. His successors have been Nathan Branch, to 1850; Asa H. Barnes until 1868; various lessees under Asa Barnes until 1876; Erastus Barnes has since owned and rented it. The present lessee is James Marley.

It was here, too, as we have seen, that the first mills in town - those of Timothy Barnes - were built. In 1850 Erastus Barnes started a store opposite his present residence. He drew his goods by team from Dunkirk. This store was kept open for ten years. The only store now kept here is that of J.E. Berkheimer, who has been here since 1881, and who carries stock worth about $3,000. (At the present writing it is learned that Mr. Berkheimer is now closing his store.) About five years ago Selkirk Newell, of Syracuse, N.Y., took a contract from Erastus Barnes for ten acres of land, on which he proposed to drill for oil. Instead of finding oil he found large quantities of gas. Nolan & Boardman, from New York State, then purchased four acres of Mr. Barnes for the manufacture of lamp-black. They erected a long iron building for this purpose, and have now demonstrated the success of their scheme of converting the gas into lamp-black of a superior quality. These, with the mills of Erastus Barnes, constitute the present business interests of Lower Sheffield.

The village of Sheffield owes its origin and growth to the enterprise of the several firms now engaged in the extensive tanneries of the place. From about 1836 to 1864 the land, or the larger part of it, now embraced within the limits of Sheffield village, was owned by Daniel D. Bowers, a native of Vermont, who, soon after the latter date, removed to Missouri and there died. In 1864 W. & W. Horton purchased his land, and three years later the firm of Horton, Crary & Co. was formed and built one tannery. In 1871 J. McNair & Co. bought the land and saw-mills of I.V. Stone, and in 1878 built a tannery on the site, in which Horton, Crary & Co. have a controlling interest. About the time of the building of the tannery first above mentioned, J.F. Schoellkopf, of Buffalo, built a tannery here, in which Horton, Crary & Co. have also obtained a controlling interest. Horton, Crary & Co. have also three saw-mills in the village, and produce large quantities of lumber. Their income from the production of sole leather amounts to some $2,500,000 per annum. They are further largely interested in the production of oil, having wells in this township - at Henry’s Mills, at Donaldson’s, and near Farnsworth’s Siding - which altogether produce about 18,000 barrels a month. This village is also the center of the great gas-producing district, in which Horton, Crary & Co. have extensive interests. This firm own land in this and adjoining counties, for their varied interests, amounting to about 50,000 acres. They built the Tionesta Valley Railroad in 1881, and afterward bought out the Cherry Grove and Garfield Railroad, which was built by an eastern company. The members of this company are Webb Horton, H.H. Crary, Walter Horton, Jerry Crary, George Horton, Isaac Horton, and George Dickinson. They employ nearly or quite 3,000 hands, most of whom are Swedes and Germans, and reside in this village. The members of the firm of Schoellkopf, Horton & Co. are J.F. Schoellkopf, Sr., Charles Sigel, and Horton, Crary & Co. The members of the firm of John McNair & Co. are John McNair, C.W.R. Radeker, and Horton, Crary & Co. The principal part of the business done by this enterprising firm of Horton Crary & Co. is export trade. They manufacture nothing but hemlock sole leather. The hides are almost entirely from South America. Of course the chief motive which induced them to locate here was the dense growth of hemlock in the forests. To their industrious energy, and that of their neighboring companies, is due the thrift and growth of the village of Sheffield.**

The Horton family came here from Sullivan county, N.Y. They are descended from Barnabas Horton, who came to this country from England in 1632, in the good ship Swallow, and settled on Long Island. H.H. Crary, and indeed all the members of the firm of Horton, Crary & Co., except George Dickinson, are natives of Sullivan county, N.Y. Mr. Dickinson is from Delaware county, N.Y.

Daniel D. Bowers, mentioned above, was born in Vermont, it is said, about 1803, and came to Sheffield not far from 1836. He settled about on the site of the present house of Webb Horton, and, besides operating a saw-mill, kept a tavern there under the name of the Forest House until about 1867. The house was then converted into a boarding-house for the employees of the tanning company, and thus used it burned about 1,879.

About the time that Horton, Crary & Co. came to Sheffield, Amos Lee, a quondam butcher and cattle dealer, also arrived, and about 1869 built the Lee House, which he kept until his death, in 1875. In 1873 he enlarged it. During his life it was a temperance house. The next proprietor was Charles Lamkin, who did not own the property, however, and who gave place in 1884 to the present proprietor and owner, Joseph Clinton. It is now one of the best of hotels. It has about thirty rooms, and is unusually spacious and convenient, as it was erected apparently for the benefit of families rather than transient individuals.

The mercantile history of the village of Sheffield also properly begins at the year 1864. W. & W. Horton then started a store in connection with their other business, and in the following year put up the block that now faces the railroad. At that time Chase Osgood was keeping a store at Lower Sheffield. In 1867 Horton, Crary & Co. succeeded W. & W. Horton. They now carry stock valued by one of their firm at $175,000 in all the departments. They have stores in three separate blocks, and deal in all kinds of goods, groceries, dry goods and furnishing goods, furniture, hardware, boots and shoes, drugs, etc. E.L. Branch also began to deal in groceries about ten years ago, and in the spring of 1886 took into partnership Orris Hall. Morris Einstein deals in general merchandise, and has been in business here about eight years. F.D. Austin has dealt in groceries about six years. The clothing store of Levi Epstein is about two years of age. Hull & Siegfried have traded in drugs since the spring of 1885; Frank Johnson & Brother in groceries since the spring of 1886.

The planing and saw-mill of George R. Wood has been under the proprietorship of Mr. Wood about ten years. It was formerly operated by Wood & Culbertson.

In June, 1885, an opera-house was opened by a stock company, who had built it, and promised to be a thing of profit and pleasure to the citizens. The cost of building it has been stated to the writer to have been about $12,000. In May, 1886, this building burned.

Post-offices. - The first post-office in town was at Lower Sheffield, though it was established by the appointment of Orrin Stanton, about 1834 or 1835, under the name of Sheffield. About 1841 John Gilson was appointed, and had the office several years at his house. George Messenger succeeded him. James T. Osgood then held the office until 1853, when he was elected justice of the peace, and was succeeded in the post-office by Asa H. Barnes. After several years he had Mr. Osgood appointed his deputy, and requested him to keep the office. In 1873 Erastus Barnes was appointed postmaster, though since his appointment Mr. Osgood has continued to act in his stead. For some years previous to 1864 an office had been opened at Dunham’s, called West Sheffield, and presided over by Richard Dunham. The Philadelphia and Erie Railroad was opened in the winter of 1865, and in the following year the office of West Sheffield was discontinued and re-established as Sheffield (while the old Sheffield office was changed to Barnes), with Webb Horton as postmaster. In 1868 Jerry Crary was appointed postmaster at this point, and has ever since continued in this office.

Schools and Churches. - The present school-house at Barnes Station was built in 1883. On this site, about 1840, Erastus Barnes and John Gilson built a school-house. The first school in town was taught in this part of the town in 1833, by Miss Milford. The next was taught by Leverett Barnes. In the spring of 1835 Richard Dunham, Melchi Snapp, and Adam L. Pratt built a school house in the woods near the spot where Mr. Armstrong’s barn now stands. There Miss Hannah Snapp taught the ensuing year, and the winter terms of 1834 and 1835 were taught by Adam L. Pratt. About 1852 or 1853 the township built a larger school-house on the site of the one formerly erected by Barnes and Gilson, and which is now used as a union church in Lower Sheffield, though it has been removed from its old site. In this school are now in attendance about one hundred pupils. There are now in the entire township about six separate schools, two in the Farnsworth neighborhood, one in the western part of the town, one at Barnes, one near Frank Henry’s mill, and the graded school at Sheffield village, which was built in 1876, burned in 1877, and immediately rebuilt, having been fully insured. It has five departments. Its average attendance is stated to be about 250. The principal is M.A. Rigg.

The first organized church in town was of the Methodist Episcopal denomination, and was formed in the Barnes neighborhood about fifty years ago. Erastus Barnes, though not a member of any denomination, recognized the desirability of having a church in the town, and obtained a good subscription list, which he headed himself. Silas Lacy, Jeremiah Lane, Melchi Snapp, and Richard Dunham were also very prominent and active in its organization and support. Rev. Halleck preached the first year, while residing in Warren. Services were held once in four weeks in the school-house. About three years ago a Free Methodist Church was organized here, and a house of worship was erected in the summer of 1886. The pastor is Rev. Mr. Gaines.

The first church to be built in Sheffield village was the Methodist Episcopal, which was erected in 1867, and burned in the winter of 1876 - 77. It was originally built through the efforts of Richard Dunham and Horton, Crary & Co. After the fire, the firm just named rebuilt it at once at a cost of about $7,000, and presented it to the Methodist denomination. The present pastor is Rev. Mr. Darling. About 1877 the Roman Catholics built a church here, which is attended by Father de la Roque, of Warren. There is a Free Methodist Church also at Farnsworth’s.

The Evangelical Lutheran Bethania Church (Swedish), located at Sheffield village, was permanently organized in 1882. The first meeting was held on the 30th of June, 1882, in the private house of John Monson. Rev. T. Franyen, of Kane, presided, and Rev. N.G. Johnson, of Warren, acted as secretary. The original members were J.A. Anundson, John Monson, J.P. Gustafson, Eric Peterson, Olof Peterson, C.G. Bergman, Otto Lagerquist, James Christianson, T.A. Rydeberg, Andrew Wermblad, and Carl Otto Lang. The church edifice was erected in 1883 at a cost of about $2,500 - framed. The first pastor was Rev. J. A. Rinell, for 1883 and 1884. At present the congregation is under the care of R.A. Thompson, a student of Aug. College and Theological Seminary, of Rock Island, Ill. The present membership of this church numbers sixty, while the church property is valued at about $3,000.

 

* Although this letter was not written to be published verbatim, it contained so vivid a description of the mode of living in those pioneer times, that we could not refrain from publishing it in almost the form in which it was written.

** The Donaldson tract, before mentioned, embraces the land once owned by Andrew Donaldson in the southern part of the township. He was a farmer and lumberman, and came here about 1845. His widow now occupies a part of the old farm. He died August 17, 1867, aged sixty-six years.

SOURCE: Page(s) 511-523, History of Warren County, J.S. Schenck & W.S. Rann, Syracuse, New York: D. Mason, 1887