History of Warren County, Chapter 45

CHAPTER XLV
HISTORY OF PLEASANT TOWNSHIP

 

THE township of Pleasant, a sparsely settled, irregular tract of territory, is situated nearly in the center of Warren county, and is bounded north by the Allegheny River, separating it from Conewango and Glade townships and. Warren borough, on the east by Mead township, on the south by Cherry Grove and Watson, and on the west by the Allegheny River, separating it from Deerfield and Brokenstraw. The township was formed in March, 1834, and undoubtedly derived its name from its beauty of situation and prospect. The petitioners who caused its formation wanted it to be named "Mount Pleasant," but the court subtracted the first word from the title. The landscape is everywhere lovely, especially opposite Warren.

It is somewhat remarkable that the town was so late in being settled by permanent residents, when all along the other side of the river is a portion of the county which was dotted with homes almost at the beginning of the present century. But Pleasant inhabited only by occasional and transient "squatters" until 1826. At that time no improvements to speak of had been made in the township. There were no roads whatever, nor any evidences, except the settlement of John Mead, opposite Brokenstraw, that man had ever intended to make the town his home. The first road, the main road from Warren to Limestone, was opened about the year 1835.

Nathaniel Sill, sr., the second permanent settler in town (John Mead being the first), was born in Lyme, Conn., in 1776, and in 1807 removed to Black Rock, near Buffalo, N.Y., where he engaged in the business of a forwarding merchant, and was the senior member of the prominent firm of Sill, Thompson & Co. At one time they owned every vessel on Lake Erie except two small schooners. His partner, Sheldon Thompson, was the first mayor of Buffalo. They owned the famous Michigan, which went over the Niagara Falls. Mr. Sill’s house, which was built of stone and was one of the best houses in the State west of Albany in its day, was battered down by the British in the War of 1812. Nathaniel Sill removed to this township, or the territory now known as Pleasant, in 1826. He came to the farm now owned and occupied by his son and namesake, in December of that year, having made the journey from Buffalo by team by way of Dunkirk and Jamestown. He had a family of three sons and five daughters. Nathaniel Sill, jr., was born in Ontario county, N.Y. on the 13th of February, 1814, and since his father’s arrival on this farm in 1826, has made it his home. He married Susan, daughter of Josiah Farnsworth, then of Sheffield township, in 1853. His father died on this place on the 18th of February, 1814, and he has managed the farm alone since that time.

When Nathaniel Sill came here in 1826 there were but three small openings - they can hardly be called clearings - within the present limits of the township. One of these had been made by squatters on a tract embracing the present farm of Mr. Sill, the other was opposite Warren, and was probably made by owners who had not lived on it, and the third was on the Irvine farm, near the present village of Irvinton. Not a stick of timber had been cut at any distance back from the river. About 1832 and 1833 a German immigration began. Christian Hertzel came in 1835, Philip Wendling as early as 1832, and many others who will be named in the course of the chapter. There was a great boom in land speculation in 1837, and many of those who had settled here sold out and removed to the vicinity of Chicago and Northern Illinois. These Germans were many of them from Alsace. There they had been accustomed to live in villages and travel several miles each day to a little patch of land which they owned, and out of which, by the severest labor, they wrung a scanty subsistence. The reports which reached them of the large and productive farms of Pennsylvania, and other parts of America, stirred them with a desire to visit and settle upon these lands. This country seemed an El Dorado to them. As a rule they were steady, hard working, economical, temperate, law-abiding, and intelligent men. Most of them were poor, and after they reached this country they found hard times. They had to work harder for their living than their children and grandchildren are obliged to do. Able-bodied men labored for fifty cents a day in haying, and took wheat at two dollars a bushel in payment. Cloth that now costs six cents a yard then brought twenty-five cents, and most other articles which the laboring people must have were priced accordingly. Still they labored on hopefully, and many of their descendants now live in comfort and some of them in luxury, the reward, in part, of their industry and thrift.

Following are the names and places of residence of the more prominent and permanent settlers of the township, who settled here previous to its formation, and are mentioned in the first list of taxables, in 1835:

Martin Esher, assessed with forty-seven acres, lived a short distance west of where the cemetery now is. He came here with other Germans about 1832 or 1833, and moved away after a few years. He was an Alsatian.

George Arnold, also an Alsatian, came about 1834, and settled in the western part of the township opposite Brokenstraw. He lived there very many years, and died in October, 1886, in Warren, at a very advanced age.

Lewis Arnet, a German, but not an Alsatian, came about 1832, and took up one hundred acres of land on the upland, some distance south of Martin Esher’s settlement. He went west in a few years.

Emmanuel Crull rented the Irvine farm, opposite Brokenstraw, and lived on it for about ten years, when he removed to the vicinity of Franklin. His daughter married Perry Shaw, of Tidioute, where he and his wife died. Another daughter married James Newgen, a shoemaker by trade, and a pilot on the river, who went down the river on annual raft pilgrimages until within a few years.

Jesse Foster, and David, his brother, lived opposite Brokenstraw for a number of years, when the former sold out and removed to the northern part of the county.

Jabez B. Hyde owned forty acres just west of the farm of Nathaniel Sill, and built the house now owned by the heirs of Mrs. J.H. King. He was a Presbyterian clergyman, and, for some years previous to his settlement here, was stationed among the Seneca Indians of Cattaraugus county, N.Y. He was well known in Buffalo. He lived here a few years and returned to the Indian Reservation. By an unfortunate turn of affairs he lost his mind, it seems, and was found in an impoverished and distressed condition in Buffalo, where friends cared for him until he died.

Christian Hertzel, father of Andrew and Philip Hertzel, settled, in 1835, on the first farm south of that of Nathaniel Sill, on the hill now occupied by his son Philip. (See sketch of Andrew Hertzel in later pages).

Jabez Hyde, jr., son of Jabez above mentioned, died here while his father lived in this township. He was a printer by trade, and worked for a time in Buffalo.

Christian Groos, a German, lived for a year or two near Christian Hertze1, and then went west.

Jacob Knopf, a German not from Alsace, took up 184 acres of land south of Christian Hertzel, about 1832, and lived there until his death, about 1860. He was one of the most prominent of the Germans, and was very active and industrious. Peter Knopf, his nephew, cleared a farm of 133 acres about a mile west from the settlement of Nathaniel Sill. He was a man of considerable ability, though he has been characterized as of too sanguine a temperament. He had a large family, and late in life went to Glade, where he died, with some of his children.

Michael Kraienbuehl came from Alsace with the other emigrants previous to 1835, and took up forty-seven acres of land directly opposite Warren. He resided there until his death, about thirty years ago. Among his descendants still in this county is Mrs. Andrew Ruhlman, of Warren, who is his granddaughter.

Adam Knopf, a brother of Jacob, settled near him at the same time, but in 1837 sold out and removed to the West. His log house is still standing. The property was bought from him by Christian Hertzel, and is now owned by Philip Hertzel.

Jacob Lenhart settled on five hundred acres of land opposite Brokenstraw, where he died about 1860. His son Matthew now owns and occupies the farm.

Jacob Luther was an early German settler, near the present site of Oakland Cemetery. Jacob Myers settled as early, probably, as 1833, on the uplands opposite Warren and back some distance from the river. His tract contained, according to the assessment roll, one hundred acres. He died on this farm not long after 1850. One son is now on the old homestead, and another son occupies another farm in this township.

John Mead had 331 acres of land and a saw-mill about two miles west of the farm of Nathaniel Sill, and was there a number of years previous to 1830. He was a member of the Mead family, which receives more particular mention in the history of Brokenstraw, and was a brother of Mrs. David Beatty. He moved on to the Brokenstraw and there died, about twenty-five years ago.

William McDonald was an early settler (about 1826) on the south side of the river in the western part of this township. He was assessed in 1835 with 300 acres.

John Raham, probably an Alsatian German, came to this township about 1832 or 1833, and took up fifty-four acres of land, now a part of Oakland Cemetery. He was taken with the land fever of 1837, however, and at that time sold out and went west.

John Reig, an Alsatian German, settled early during the period of German immigration in the vicinity of Oakland Cemetery, where he remained until about 1850. He then removed to a farm near Irvinton, though in Conewango township, where he died in 1855. He was the father of Mrs. Andrew Hertzel, and his widow made her home with her daughter until her death, in 1884.

Frederick Stroopler was an Alsatian German, who lived four or five years about one and a half miles from Warren in Pleasant, and went west in 1837. George Swigart, at Alsatian, resided from about 1832 to 1837 up Sill Run.

Alexander Van Horn, a Hollander, settled in Warren previous to 1826, and about 1832 settled on 120 acres of land, directly west of Nathaniel Sill’s farm and only a few rods distant. He was a shoemaker by trade, and after a residence on this place a few years, sold and returned to Warren. About thirty years ago he was drowned in Conewango Creek.

Philip Wendling, already mentioned as a German from Alsace, who came one of the first of immigrants, occupied a forty-seven-acre tract within the present limits of Oakland Cemetery until 1837, when he removed to Glade. In 1843 he went west, and at his death left children in Cook county, Ill., who are there now.

George Wiler was an early Alsatian settler on the farm adjoining that of Jacob Esher. In 1837 he sold his land and removed to Conewango township, where two of his sons, George and John, now reside.

Jacob Wise, a German, whose wife was a sister of the wife of George Swigart, came at the same time as Swigart and settled near him, on Sill Run. He went away with Swigart.

Pleasant township has been so situated as to need no post-office, the proximity of offices at Warren and Brokenstraw being deemed sufficiently convenient by the inhabitants. The same cause has operated to deter any one from attempting to establish a store of any kind in the township. The only kinds of occupation in the town, therefore, have been those of farming, in which the Germans were most numerous, and lumbering, which was almost entirely confined to settlers other than the Germans. Among the Germans who have engaged in lumbering with success may be named the several members of the Hertzel family. John and Nathaniel Sill have at times engaged in lumbering with success. The first steam saw-mill in town (we have already mentioned the mill of John Mead, which was operated by water) was that of one Morton, who built it about four miles south of the farm of Nathaniel Sill to saw, the timber of Colonel L.F. Watson, about 1862. It kept in operation some fifteen years, and sawed millions of feet of excellent lumber. The next mill was built by William A. Wheeler, of Jamestown, N.Y., soon after the mill of Morton was finished. It was afterward abandoned for a short time and went into the hands of Elijah and Alonzo Johnson, who sawed great quantities of lumber. It was about a mile south of the mill of Morton. It went down about 1870. Another steam mill, built and owned by Marsh & Kinnear, of Youngsville; situated south and west of the Johnson mill, went down about 1875 or 1876. A Mr. Satterly also built a steam mill in the west part of the township as early as 1862 or 1863, which he kept in operation ten or twelve years.

There has never been a church nor a religious organization of any kind in town. This does not argue anything against the piety or religious habits of the inhabitants, as they usually belong to church organizations near their respective residences, but in other townships. There are at this writing seven schools in the township of Pleasant, and they are well conducted and effect the purpose of their establishment.

SOURCE: Page(s) 532-536, History of Warren County, J.S. Schenck & W.S. Rann, Syracuse, New York: D. Mason, 1887