Shade Township

Created: Monday, 14 September 2015 Last Updated: Monday, 14 September 2015 Written by Administrator Print Email


<center><strong>HISTORY OF THE TOWNSHIP</strong></center>
Shade township, named after Shade creek, was formed in 1814 out of the northern part of Stonycreek township. It then included the territory now known as Paint and Ogle townships. Aside from a very few early families, most of the inhabitants of Shade township are late settlers. Some of the earliest settlers were Caspar Statler, Jacob Moses, Daniel Gibler and George Lambert. These early settlers suffered great inconvenience from a lack of mills and stores near them. Many were compelled either to boil wheat and make it serve for bread, or else make something that resembled flour, by pounding the grain with a stone. Handmills were also used. Other early settlers were Israel Burket, Christian Burket, Samuel Statler, Michael Wagner, Michael Peterman and Henry Stauffer.

The first gristmill in the township was built by Christian Brollier, three and one-half miles east of Stoystown, prior to 1800. The first sawmill was built by George Lambert, of Little Shade creek, probably about 1800. The first sawmill in the northeastern part of Shade township was built by William Oldham in 1830. He did all the work with a broadax, using no sawed timber or boards in its construction. A gristmill, which was probably the second in the township, was built by the Shade Furnace Company in 1822. William Oldham built a gristmill in 1833. He also built the Rockingham furnace, the second in the township, in 1841.

George Fry built and operated the first distillery in the township, near Hooversville, prior to 1800. The first school in the township was taught by William Newell, on the Caspar Statler farm. The Rockingham furnace, built on Shade creek in 1844, was subsequently owned by John Foust and Custer &amp; Little. The first store in the township was kept by a man named Miller, at Buckstown, about 1849.

The first wagon road crossing the Alleghenies in this part of the state was the old military road leading to Fort Pitt. It led over the mountain in a course that was nearly straight, and consequently its grade was very steep. The wagoners who traveled it, when about to descend the mountain, were accustomed to cut logs and tie them to the hind axles of the wagon. The logs, dragging, thus served as brakes. When the foot of the mountain was reached, the logs were rolled or dragged out of the road into the woods.

The remains of an old breastwork (Fort Dewart), or rude fortification, are still visible in the southwestern part of the township. It is supposed that this work was erected by Forbes’ army, which perhaps encamped here during the expedition of 1758. John Miller lived there when the Reverands Frederick Post and John Heckewelder passed over the Forbes Road on their Indian mission in 1762.

The oldest men in Shade township (1884) are Jonathan Wagner and Jacob Berkebile. Both were born in 1799, the former in this township. Mr. Berkebile was born in Berlin and removed to this township when eleven years of age. His father, Jacob Berkebile, came from York county to Somerset county about 1795.

Statler Hill Forest Fire Tower was erected by the Pennsylvania Department of Forests and Waters in the western part of the township in 1921. The area of Shade township is 44,642 acres and contained 134 farms and 5481 persons in 1930. It is the largest township in Somerset County.

<center><strong>AREA LORE</strong></center>
<a href="/articles.php?article_id=187"><u>Bear Hunter</u></a> - <a href="/articles.php?article_id=293"><u>The Fire Bake</u></a> -- <a href="/articles.php?article_id=209"><u>Lewis Valley</u></a> -- <a href="/articles.php?article_id=210"><u>A Paper Town</u></a>

<center><strong>BIOGRAPHIES</strong></center>
<a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,363934,363934#msg-363934"><u>Michael A. Brubaker</u></a> -- <a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,363693,363693#msg-363693"><u>Henry Cable</u></a> -- <a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,598686,598686#msg-598686"><u>John Hamer</u></a> -- <a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,363968,363968#msg-363968"><u>Jacob McGregor</u></a> -- <a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,364137,364137#msg-364137"><u>Joseph Oldham</u></a> -- <a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,579388"><u>David Rodgers</u></a><br>
<a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,579526"><u>Caspar Statler</u></a> -- <a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,363896,363896#msg-363896"><u>David E. Wagner</u></a> -- <a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,363694,363694#msg-363694"><u>Jonathan Wagner</u></a> -- <a href="/http://www.pa-roots.org/data/read.php?720,579389"><u>Michael Wagner</u></a>

<center><strong>CHURCHES</strong></center>
<a href="/articles.php?article_id=185"><u>Disciples\'</u></a> -- <a href="/articles.php?article_id=184"><u>Evangelical</u></a> -- <a href="/articles.php?article_id=211"><u>German Baptists</u></a> -- <a href="/articles.php?article_id=182"><u>Graef\'s Evangelical Lutheran</u></a> -- <a href="/articles.php?article_id=183"><u>Otterbein United Brethren</u></a><br>
<a href="/articles.php?article_id=181"><u>Shade Reformed &amp; Lutheran</u></a>

<center><strong>INDUSTRIES</strong></center>
<a href="/articles.php?article_id=186"><u>Shade Furnace</u></a>

<center><strong>TAX LISTS</strong></center>
<a href="/articles.php?article_id=179"><u>1816</u></a>

<center><strong>TOWNS &amp; VILLAGES</strong></center>
<a href="/articles.php?article_id=208"><u>Buckstown</u></a> -- <a href="/articles.php?article_id=314"><u>Central City</u></a>

<strong>Baker-Whitely</strong> is a small mining town in the northwestern part of the township. It was laid out by the Baker-Whitely Coal Company on the Albert Pheasant farm in 1910.

<strong>Cairnbrook</strong>, in the north-central part, is the largest town in the township. It is a mining town that was laid out by the Loyal-Hanna Coal Company on the Jacob McGregor farm in 1912. Cairnbrook postoffice was established in 1914 and Charles Severen was the first postmaster.

<strong>Gahagan</strong>, a small mining town in the southern part of the township, was laid out by the Huskin Run Coal Mining Company in 1919. Gahagan postoffice was established in 1922 and Clarence Gahagan was its first postmaster.

<strong>Huskin Run</strong> is a small mining village in the northwestern part of the township. It was laid out on the Robert P. Cable farm by the Huskin Run Coal Mining Company in 1916.

<strong>Koontztown</strong>, a small mining town in the southwestern part of the township, was laid out by the Quemahoning Coal Company on the Joseph Koontz farm in 1918.

<strong>Miller Run</strong> is a small mining town in the northwestern part of the township. It was laid out by the Imperial Coal Company on the Abraham Pebley farm in 1914. Miller Run postoffice was establised in 1916 and James Mugridge was the first postmaster.

<strong>Reitz</strong>, Nos. 3 &amp; 4, are small mining towns near the central part of the township. Reitz No. 3 was laid out in 1917 and Reitz No. 4 in 1919, both by the Reitz Coal Company.

<strong>Rockingham</strong> is a small mining town in the northern part of the township. It was laid out by the Arrow Coal Company in 1918. The Reitz postoffice which was kept by John H. Reitz was moved here in 1922 and George Ganoe became the first posmaster of Rockingham.

<strong>Wilbur</strong>, a small mining town in the western part of the township, was laid out by the Wilbur Coal Company on the Daniel Peterman farm in 1912. More houses were built in 1921 on adjoining land which was purchased from the John E. Johnson farm.

Lewis Valley
The beautiful Lewis valley begins on the head waters of Dark Shade creek, near where Jeptha Potts use to live, and takes its name from its having been the haunt at one time of the noted robber, David Lewis. There is also a cave somewhere in this region in which he is said to have harbored.

The underground railroad had a line through and a station in this Lewis valley. A family of colored people by the name of Smith were the station. There were mysterious visitors, mostly men, but sometimes women. Sometimes they stayed several days, and assisted the agent Smith in his fields, and then disappeared as mysteriously as they came. It was noticed that if any remained over Sunday they never stayed in the house, but in the woods back of the fields, and were always watchful.


Shade Furnace
Shade furnace was one of the few important industries carried on in this township. It was the first furnace in Somerset county. While the business lasted it furnished employment to many persons, and was a public benefit. All the managers found the business unprofitable, and nearly all failed.

The furnace was built by Gerhart &amp; Reynolds, about 1808. It stood about forty rods below the junction of Clear Shade and Dark Shade creeks. A forge, operated in connection with the furnace, stood about three-fourths of a mile further down the stream. Gerhart&amp;Reynolds becoming involved, their furnace and lease were sold by the sheriff, and Charles Ogle and Peter Kimmel, of Somerset county, became the owners. They were succeeded by Thomas Gaghegan, and he by a Mr. Dunlap. The property then reverted to Thomas Vickroy, the owner of the land. He sold the furnace in 1819 to Mark Richards, Anthony S. Earl and Benjamin Johns, of New Jersey, who operated the works until 1850, and from that date until the close, in 1858, they were operated at intervals by different parties.

(Source: History of Bedford, Somerset &amp; Fulton Counties, PA; 1884)