History of Warren County, Chapter 51

CHAPTER LI
HISTORY OF MEAD TOWNSHIP

 

THIS township was erected from portions of Sheffield, Kinzua and Pleasant townships, the report of the commissioners being confirmed absolutely on the 7th of June, 1847. It lies east of the center of Warren county, and is bounded north by Allegheny River, separating it from Glade, east by Kinzua and a small part of Sheffield, south by Sheffield and Cherry Grove, and west by Pleasant. There are four post-offices in the township, each a nucleus of a more or less populous village or settlement, viz., Stoneham, Clarendon, North Clarendon, and Tiona.

Settlement and Early Condition of the Township. - The territory lying within the present boundary lines of this township was not generally inhabited by civilized man as early as many other portions of the county. Along the Allegheny River were a few early settlers, some of them squatters, who have left no impress of their settlement. The most prominent and permanent, as well as the earliest of the settlers, were three brothers, Jeremiah, Samuel, and James Morrison, who came from Jersey Shore, Pa., at least as early as 1800, and made clearings and built habitations on the south bank of the river, in the northern part of the township, on the site of the present Rogers mill. In the list of taxables for 1806 they were each taxed with a one-third interest in a saw-mill, which stood where the Rogers mill now stands. They have many descendants in Warren county at this day.

But immigration did not penetrate into the depths of the wilderness for nearly forty years after the beginning of this century. When, in 1839, Samuel Grossenburg, of whom there is a biographical sketch in this volume, immigrated hither from Warren, there were but four or five families living within the limits of the township as it is now bounded. Mr. Grossenburgs nearest neighbor was Joseph Haaser, his brother-in-law, who occupied the farm next north from that on which Mr. Grossenburg settled, and on which he recently died. About 1841 Haaser sold to Michael Itle, who remained here a number of years, dividing his time between lumbering and farming.

His next neighbor was Alson Rogers, on the river near Glade, whose sons, Burton, Alson, and Lucien, live there now. In 1839 the old mill had gone to decay and had not been rebuilt. The site of Stoneham in 1839 was known as the Rink farm, from the fact that one Jacob Rink had been living there, and had made quite a clearing and planted an orchard, one tree of which remains to this day. Rink had gone west a short time previous to 1839. He and Francis Yost were the first settlers - after the Morrison family - in this township. Yost settled as early as 1827 on the farm now owned and occupied by Mrs. Grossenburg and the one next north. It was then a part of Kinzua township. About 1838 he went to Rock Island county, Ill., where Rink had gone. In 1839 a Mr. Wheeler owned and operated a saw-mill on the site of Tiona, which he afterward sold out to Amasa Ransom. The mill of Clapp & Co. stands on the same site. The township derived its name from Darius Mead, who came here at the same time as Alson Rogers, with whom he acted in partnership. In 1839 the mail was carried through this part of the county from Warren to Ridgeway on horseback, and distributed along the route. It was in the year 1832 that Francis Yost began to work on a portion of the Warren and Ridgeway turnpike, the first traversable road in the township. The mail was first carried in 1833 by Daniel T. Stanton. Previous to the opening of the turnpike the only track for travel through the town was a footpath from Warren to Barnes in Sheffield, which led to the east of the turnpike and occasionally crossed its lines.

To lay before the reader a description affording a true idea of the strides made in settlement and improvement for the next thirty years, we cannot do better than to quote, substantially, from D.W. Brennan, of North Clarendon, whose residence in town began in 1868. Mr. Brennan was born in Dover, Morris county, N.J., on the 5th of April, 1825; married Sarah A. Cantrell, a native of Ireland, at Monticello, N.Y., where he was then living, on the 3d of June, 1851, and in 1868 came to this township from Chemung county, N.Y. He removed into his present dwelling house in March, 1870.

According to his statements the township had advanced very little in either settlement or improvement. There was a small tannery at Stoneham and a clearing of perhaps 100 acres, There was no settlement at the village of Clarendon. The clearings along the river were about as they were in 1839. Samuel Grossenburg had perhaps the most extensive clearing on his farm. The rest of the township was a dense wilderness; the pine trees had been taken away, but hemlock timber was still thickly distributed through the forests, and had attained a large size. There were no families between the river and Stoneham, though there were nearly a dozen families about that place. Between Stoneham and the Grossenburg farm lived David Riddlesperger. About in the center of the present borough of Clarendon lived Thomas J. Place, Grossenburg’s nearest neighbor in that direction. Near the present Catholic Church Mr. Brennan made a small clearing and occupied a small house. Nelson Elson resided in what is now the south part of the borough, which is still in the possession, as owners, of his heirs. About half a mile southwest of the present borough limits had settled a farmer by the name of C.M. Davis. There were no other buildings in that direction until the farm of C.K. Bean, in the north part of what is now Tiona, was reached. Mr. Bean was engaged both in agriculture and lumbering. Joseph Hall, now of Louisville, Ky., owned and operated a saw-mill at Tiona, and had considerable property there. He and his men were the only inhabitants of that part, of the town. The community was known as Halltown, the name Tiona having been a gift of the railroad. Stoneham had then derived its name from Leroy Stoneham, an early settler there. Previous to 1868, while the railroad was in process of construction, and until 1872, there had been a post-office for a short time in the central part of the present, borough, which was known by the euphonious title of Pattonia, from Thomas Patton, a contractor on the road; it was then changed to Clarendon, in honor of Thomas Clarendon; of New York city, the partner of F.H. Rockwell. About 1869 or 1870 a post-office was established at Stoneham by the appointment of J.K. Palmer as postmaster. He was afterward succeeded by Willard W. White. The next post-office was established at Tiona, soon after 1870, John Wood being the governmental appointee. At the older village of Clarendon, about, 1874 or 1875, F.H. Rockwell was appointed the first postmaster. About 1880 Max Koch had a penny-post between Clarendon and North Clarendon, which resulted in his appointment as the first postmaster of North Clarendon. His successors are as follows: N.M. Orr, H.E. Norris, and the present incumbent, A.H. Simpson, who was appointed in June, 1885.

Of the various mills and manufacturing industries in the township it may be said: The tannery at Stoneham was started about the year 1868, by Palmer, Hill & Co., who after a time failed. Charles Boardman owned the property for a brief period, and was followed by W.W. White. White & Co. now own and operate this mill.

F.H. Rockwell started the tannery and saw-mill at Clarendon village about seven years ago. Brown Brothers & Co. started their saw-mill and planing-mill at North Clarendon about six or seven years ago.

There are now five saw-mills in town, that of the Rogers Brothers, Burton Alson and Lucien (sketch of Alson Rogers, in other pages); that of Edward Armstrong in the north part of the township at the head of Dutchman’s Run, which has been there seven years; that of F.H. Rockwell at Clarendon; that of Brown Brothers & Co., at North Clarendon, and that of Edward Clapp & Co., at Tiona. This mill was purchased from Hall by E.G. Wood, who sold to the present owners about 1870 or 1871.

The Borough of Clarendon. - We have seen that the borough of Clarendon is of recent origin even as a settlement. It is purely a product of oil operations and oil excitement, and has had a mushroom growth that would indicate in most villages a rapid decline and an early death. From its local situation and the other interests that have been founded here, however, it is quite evident that this borough is destined to a longer career of prosperity than most oil towns. It may be that the oil excitement and the free circulation of currency that accompanies the fever will be ephemeral and that the time will come when gloomy prophets will think they see their predictions on the road to verification; but it is more than probable that the near future has for Clarendon a more healthy growth and a more solid prosperity than has been its lot in the past.

The borough was chartered in the spring of 1882, when the following officers were chosen: W.P. Nutting, burgess, resigned and immediately succeeded by J.R Clark; councilmen, J.R. Clark, Dr. J.W. Heath, L.E. McNett, J.B. Davis, R.J. Thompson, and G.M. Hill; clerk, F.M. Aiken, resigned and succeeded by John A. Wilson; treasurer, L.E. McNett.

A considerable part of the land in Clarendon borough is leased, the owners numbering but three or four. All of the land within the limits of the borough, and south of the Sheffield road, was leased by Cornelius Eleston, and reverts to his heirs. That north of the Sheffield road was originally owned by James Aiken, who sold out; James Barrett, who leased his property; Martin Flanagan, who sold out; James Malone, who merely leased his right, and Thomas Grace, who yet owns the soil, having sold merely an oil right.

To show how sudden has been the rise of Clarenden borough, a resident of the village has given the following description of the site as it was in 1878. The only business here then was the planing and saw-mill of Brown Brothers & Co. (this mill is not now running). The only residents on Main street were James Barrett, James Jackson, James Eagan, Henry Welch, Martin Flanagan, James Malone, Thomas Grace, Robert Thompson, John Burns, L.E. McNett, John Belz, and Stacy Coggswell. James Kelly lived on Erie street, on the south side of the railroad, and Albert Wood had just built a house near the tannery property. These were the only inhabitants of the village. The first impulse toward the growth of a village was probably received as many as ten years ago, when the first oil well in the vicinity was drilled on Dutchman’s Run by Samuel Towles.

When the Keystone House was built by J.W. Crawford in 1882 (since June, 1883, it has been kept by T.H. Willoughby), the oil excitement had reached about its highest pitch. The Narrow Gauge Railroad was not then open, and the Plank Road from North Clarendon to Garfield brought its toll-keepers in from $100 to $150 a day. All the hotels and boarding-houses were crowded with people, willing to pay the best of prices for meals and lodging, while others often failed to find a suitable place hereon to lay their heads. Well No. 646 in Garfield, opened in March, 1882, was producing nearly 2,500 barrels a day. Oil well supply stores were opened, and had a flourishing trade. There are now in Clarendon borough four large stores which keep a stock of oil well supplies - the Jarecki Manufacturing Company, the store of L. Emery, jr., the Oil Well Supply Company (limited), a stock company, of which John Eaton is president, E.T. Howes, treasurer, and K. Chickering, secretary, and the supply company and general hardware store of Beecher & Copeland, which is a part of the business which this firm have established in Warren.

The first store in what is now the borough of Clarendon was that of J.N. Thompson, which he kept about a year from 1880. G.M. Hill, baker, and dealer in groceries and provisions, located here in October, 1880, and was the first merchant to settle here from away. Soon after this, or about the same time, Asa Phillips established the Central drug store, as it is now called. The present proprietor, C.S. McCandless, purchased it of W.P. Turner in 1881. Next was started, in 1880, the dry goods store of Levi H. Hershfield, which was purchased by R.N. Hershfield, his brother, in July, 1885. Since this the following stores, named about in the order of their establishment, have been started and continued to the present: In 1881, drug store, established by Thomas Griffith, now owned by Dr. D.P. Robbins and F.N. Chapin, the former of whom has had charge of it since October, 1881; the general store of T.S. Flynn, started by T.S. Flynn & Co., on the 16th of May, 1881; the shoe store of G.S. Rintmeier, founded in October, 1881; the news, stationery and variety store of Driscoll (J.H.) & Whitling (M.H.), the purchasers in November, 1885, of the business which F.H. Cauley founded in 1881; the grocery of G. Brown, which he established in the spring of 1882; the business as merchant tailor, of G.E. Ihlenfeld, "started in August, 1882; the grocery and provision store of Boyd Brothers (H.P. and A.J.), which they started in August, 1882; the Palace drugstore, established by W.H. Sanborn & Co. in the fall of 1882 and purchased in October, 1885, by Dr. J.C. Russell and M.E. Sanborn, who still conduct the trade under the name of Dr. J.C. Russell & Co.; the grocery and provision store of Thomas Painter, founded by him and his brother in August, 1883; the stoves and hardware store of H. Spitler, founded by him in June, 1883; the jewelry store of J.G. Lemmer, started in 1883; the grocery of J. Stevenson, started two years ago or more; the dry goods store of I. Samuels, founded in the spring of 1885; the grocery and provision store of Goal (J.C.) & Weaver (Z.T.), established in August, 1885; the furnishing goods and clothing store founded by M. Harris, and now owned by his brother, Albert Harris, since September, 1885; the drug store which A.S. Knight founded in the fall of 1885 and still owns; the wholesale liquor store of James O. Allen, established by W.H. Crowell, who sold to the present proprietor in June, 1885; the trade in gentlemen’s furnishing goods (we won’t say gents’), started here in the fall of 1885 by M. Jackson & Brother, who own a similar business in Kane; the trade as merchant tailor, conducted since April 1, 1886, by C. Weil; the tobacco store of James Morris, which has been under his management since April 12, 1886; the dry goods and fancy goods store of Henry L. Hershfield, which he founded in October, 1886; the furniture store opened on the 21st of October, 1886, by S.M. Rhodaberger; and the confectionery and restaurant opened in November, 1886, by Mrs. W.J. Mullen.

Hotels. - Besides the Keystone House, which has received mention, there are now in Clarendon borough the following hotels: The Clarendon Hotel, built at the beginning of Clarendon’s history by Reed & O’Connor, improved in 1881 by Captain W.H. Crowell, from Oil City, who was succeeded by T.W. Dempsey, and he in turn by the present landlord, K. Campbell; the Henry House, built next after the last above named; the Weaver House, built by Z.T. Weaver, and now kept by T. Mahoney; and the hotel built by Carl Prudentz in 1883.

The Opera House in Clarendon was built in 1881, at a cost of nearly $2000, by Z.T. Weaver, T.S. Flynn, H.W. Brown and others, and has a seating capacity for about 400. The stock is now owned by T.S. Flynn and the estate of the Brown brothers.

The Mutual Gas Company was organized in September, 1884, as a material protest against the rise in the tariff resulting from the sale of a former company’s stock to the Warren County Heat and Light Company. The members of this company laid their own plant and claim to be the only company in the State which the Standard Oil Company cannot buy. It started on a basis of a $5,000 capital, which was doubled in a year. There are 500 shareholders. The first officers were H.C. Huntington, president; M.S. Booth, secretary; T.S. Flynn, treasurer; H.E. Norris, vice-president, and six directors. No member can hold more than ten shares, and each member has but one vote. No officer is empowered to sell the stock of the company. The present officers are R.I. Shugart, president; L. Murkett, vice-president; J.W. Dunkle, secretary; A.H. Simpson, treasurer; H. Gandy, H.E. Waugaman, James Davis, T.S. Flynn, E.H. Bradley, and R.S. Gray, directors

The Fire Department, which now consists of two hose companies and a hook and ladder company, was organized in 1881, by the election of A.R. Bahny, chief of the department. The companies have done remarkably good work since their organization, and by the bravery and zeal of their members have saved the borough thousands of dollars in property.

Clarendon Village. - Three-fourths of a mile southwest of the depot is the location of the old town, which is owned entirely by F.H. Rockwell & Co. Some thirty-nine years ago a water mill was built near where the present steam mill stands, and for a number of years was owned and operated by Joseph Hall; but in the course of time it was burned, and Hall sold the adjoining land to a New York oil company about nineteen years ago. The oil fever failed to take permanent root in this section at that time, and no developments were made. The first improvements worthy of note were begun in 1871 by F.H. Rockwell, of Honesdale, Pa., and Thomas Clarendon, of New York, under the firm name of Rockwell & Clarendon. During that summer the above firm erected a substantial saw-mill and tannery, built a number of residences for the families of their employees, and practically started the old town.

Schools and Churches. - The first school-house in the township was built not far from 1850, on what is now Main street in North Clarendon. It was roughly thrown together of logs, and was the work of Samuel Grossenburg, Michael Itle, "Sterry" Packard, and S.J. Severance. In 1854 school-house number three was built, Alson Rogers, S.J. Severance, S. Only, jr., N.S. Packard, Orren Hook, and Nash Abbott being directors. They were to purchase half an acre of land, for which they were not to pay to exceed twenty dollars, and were to pay not more than $240 for the school-house. Miss Mary Hodges was the first teacher, at the following wages: eight dollars a month, and eight dollars being allowed for her board and fuel for four months. In 1855 school-house number two was built at an expense of $250. Sarah A. Shaw first taught in this building. Mary J. Brown taught the same year in number three. In 1856 school-house number one was built at an expense of $179. Sarah Jones naught the first school in this building. There are now six schools in the township, if we include three that are in Clarendon borough. The public school, having three departments, in the borough, was built in 1879 by the township, and after the organization of the borough was purchased by it.

There are seven churches in Mead township, one at Stoneham and the rest in Clarendon borough. (For the Roman Catholic Church, see history of Warren). The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in September, 1885. The original members were Z. Salisbury and wife, A.H. Beighley and wife, E.A. Beighley, Ada Bean, Helen Howard, Mrs. F.C. Campbell, Mrs. Morse, Flora Groat, Mary Ort, Catherine Spence, and others. The house of worship was erected - the Evangelical Church - in May, 1883, of wood, at an expense of fifteen hundred dollars, and the Methodists have held services therein ever since. The pastors of the Methodist Church have been as follows: C.W. Miner, Henry Reecer, A.B. Phillips. The present value of the church property is about $3,000.

The Trinity Evangelical Church was organized in 1882, meetings being held at first in the old opera house under the direction of D.M. Baumgardner. His successors have been Revs. M.L. Weaver, from March, 1883, to April, 1886, and C.H. Miller to the present. The first members were Solomon Funk and Ann, his wife, A.C. Houser, Elizabeth Houser, Elsa Houser, Catherine Wolf, J.W. Walter, Margaret Nail, Mary Nail, Jennie Farnsworth, Helen Van Gorder, Jacob Knopf, Anna Knopf. The membership now numbers about eighty. Besides these churches and the Roman Catholic, of more recent formation, are the Episcopal Church, of which Rev. Joseph T. Wright is rector, meetings being held in Barn’s hall; the Congregational Church, Rev. Rowland, pastor, services being held once in two weeks; and the Presbyterian Church, Rev. H. Webster, pastor, services being held Sunday mornings in the M.E. Church.

SOURCE: Page(s) 576-583, History of Warren County, J.S. Schenck & W.S. Rann, Syracuse, New York: D. Mason, 1887