Chapter VIII
From 1830 to 1860 

The Lumber Trade -  Progress in Agriculture -  Growth of Settlements -  The First Public Buildings -  The First Newspaper -  Agricultural and Manufacturing Statistics.

WITH the commencement of the year 1830 Jefferson county seemed to take a great stride forward in every respect. From being a dependency of Indiana county, as regarded all legal or official business, she found herself clothed with full power to enact her own business, and take care of her own interests.

The county seat was established, Brookville laid out, and the first settlement effected there. Roads had already been made throughout the county, new settlements were being made in every direction, while the forests were giving way beneath the sturdy blows of the lumbermen and the farmer.

Although lumbering had been carried on in a desultory way from the first settlement of the county, it was not until 1830 that a real beginning was made. In a sketch of Jefferson county published in 1843 in the "Historical Collections of Pennsylvania," the early lumbering business of the county is referred to thus:

"The impulse given to the lumber trade by the speculations in the State of Maine was not without its influence upon remote sections of the Union. The keen sagacity of the Yankees discovered that there were vast bodies of pine lands lying around the sources of the Allegheny River not appreciated at their full value by the few pioneers who lived among them. The Yankees had learned to estimate the value of pine land by the tree, and by the log; the Pennsylvanians still reckoned it by the acre. Somewhere between 1830 and 1837 individuals and companies from New England and New York purchased considerable bodies of land on the head waters of the Red Bank and Clarion Rivers from the Holland Land Land Company and other large landholders. They proceeded to erect saw-mills, and to drive the lumber trade after the most approved methods. The little leaven thus introduced caused quite a fermentation among the lumbermen and landholders of the county. More lands changed owners; new water-privileges were improved; capital was introduced from abroad, and during the spring floods every creek and river resounded with the preparation of rafts, and the lively shouts of the lumbermen, as they shot their rafts over the swift chutes of the mill-dam. The population of the county was trebled in ten years."

The lumber trade, which for so many years after this commencement was the principal business of the county, will be treated more at length, and comparative statistics given in a chapter devoted to lumber and coal interests.

In 1832 the first newspaper was established in the county by John J.Y. Thompson. It was called the Jefferson Democrat, and was Democratic in politics.

In 1832 - 3 the first jail and court-house were erected, the jail building being completed first and used for holding court, etc., until the completion of the court-house.

In 1834 two runaway slaves were lodged by their captors in the Brookville jail for safe-keeping during the night. Hon. Elijah Heath, who was an outspoken abolitionist, determined that no such outrage should be perpetrated upon the free soil of Jefferson county, and conveyed to the prisoners through Mr. Arad Pearsall, who was the jailor at the time, implements for filing off the lock of their cell, and in the morning when the slave owners came to the jail to take charge of their property the captives were well on their way to Canada. They eventually learned of Mr. Heath’s complicity in the matter, and brought suit against him, which, under the fugitive slave law, was decided in favor of the slave-holder, and Judge Heath’s act of humanity cost him $2,000.

In 1835 Barnett township was formed from part of Rose, and Snyder from part of Pine Creek, and in the second quarter of a century the number of townships was increased to twenty-six.

In 1843 Ridgway township was separated from Jefferson county to form part of the new county of Elk, and the same year Jenks and Tionesta townships, and that part of Barnett lying north of the Clarion River was separated from Jefferson county to form part of the new county of Forest. In the next ten years the population of the county increased rapidly, the census of 1840 giving 7,196 white, and 57 colored. The next decade found much improvement in all parts of the county, although the attention of the greater part of the population was engaged with the lumber trade. Yet the statistics show considerable improvement in agriculture and manufactures, while, notwithstanding the departure of the townships above mentioned, the population was largely increased, being in 1850, 13,424 whites and 94 colored.

The improved lands increased in value, and there was a proportionate increase also in all kinds of crops and stock.

The following statistics show the growth in these respects in the years 1840 and 1850:





56,850 acres improved land.


122,900 acres unimproved land.


Cash value of farms



Value of farming implements and machinery


No. of bushels of wheat


Bushels of wheat


" " oats


" " oats


" " rye


" " rye


" " buckwheat


" " buckwheat


" " corn


" " corn


No. pounds of wool


Pounds of wool











Bushels flax seed


Bushels of potatoes


Bushels potatoes


Tons of hay


Tons of hay


Pounds maple sugar


Pounds of maple sugar



Gallons of maple molasses


Horses and mules


Horses and mules














Estimated value of poultry of all kinds.



Value of dairy products


Value of dairy products


" orchard products


" orchard products


" homemade goods


" homemade goods


Furs and skins


Beeswax and honey, lbs



Value of live stock



" animals slaughtered


In 1850 the value of all taxable property in the county was $980,953.

The general statistics for the year ending June, 1850, gives


Number of children born during year 440 Whole number of white males attending school during year 1,422
" persons married " 153    
" died " 78 Whole number of white females attend dwelling houses in county 1,313
" families 2,307    
" public schools 80 Whole number of colored females attending school during year 2
" teachers employed 81    
" pupils attending school 2,738 Whole number colored males attending school during year 1
Income from taxa’n for school purposes $7,595    
" public funds 1,021 Of these 2,706 were natives, and thirty two foreigners.  
Whole income for support of schools 8,616    

The number of persons in the county who could not read or write was 373 whites, colored fifteen; natives 370, foreigners eighteen.

The census of 1840 gives two fulling and one woolen mill in the county, with a capital of $570. In 1850 the total amount invested in manufactures was $141,800, and the estimated value of products was $105,145, showing a marked increase in manufactures.

In the spring of 1843 the first murder was committed in Jefferson county. Daniel Long, one of the Long brothers who were so noted in the pioneer annals of the county as woodsmen and "mighty hunters," was a son of Ludwig (or Lewis) Long, one of the first settlers of Pine Creek township. Daniel, though like his brothers, fond of the chase, did not follow hunting to such an extent as they did. He was married in February, 1832, to Miss Rebecca McCullough, by Judge Elijah Heath, and settled on the farm now owned by Lawson Geer, in Pine Creek township, where he resided at the time of his death. Like nearly all the settlers of the county at that time, he was engaged in the lumber business, and in the spring of 1843 he was lumbering on the Clarion River, having taken up a tract of land (as was the custom in those days) near where Raught’s Mills, in Elk county, now are located -  all that territory then being embraced in Jefferson county. There was a dispute between him and a man named James Green for the possession of this land, though it is claimed that Long had the first squatter’s claim to the land. On April 29, 1844, Green and his son, Edwin, took possession of Long’s shanty during his temporary absence. On his return, in company with a man named Samuel Knopsnyder, Long was shot by the younger Green as he attempted to enter the shanty, and killed, the weapon used being Long’s own gun. Knopsnyder was also assaulted with an ax by the Greens, and so badly wounded that he died May 3, 1844.

The Greens were arrested and confined in the Brookville jail and tried for murder. The records of the court in the case are as follows:

"May sessions, 1844. Commonwealth vs. James Green and Edwin Green, September term, No. 16.

"Indicted for the murder of Daniel Long. Case of Edwin Green, jury paneled as follows: Hiram Fuller, George Depp, Elijah Campbell, Samuel Gibson, William Williams, Henry Smith, Lemuel Carey, Levi M. Wharton, Robert Law, John McClelland, Andrew Gibson, David Gillespie. Verdict rendered of murder in second degree. Sentence of court one dollar fine and costs of prosecution, and four years solitary confinement at hard labor in the Western Penitentiary. D.B. Jenks, esq., counsel for prisoner. Commonwealth represented by the district attorney, George R. Barrett.

"Edwin Green was tried at the same term, and by the same jury, for the murder of Samuel Knopsnyder, the result and sentence being the same as in the former trial.

"No. 16, December 9, 1844, James Green brought upon the stand. Case reached and jury paneled: George Slaysmen, John McCloskey, George Henderson, Jacob Hoover, Jesse Hannah, Robert Stout, John Sprankle, Thomas Kindel, Benjamin Gilhousen, James Stewart, James Garey, Samuel Fleming. Verdict, murder in second degree. Sentenced to four years solitary imprisonment at hard labor in Western Penitentiary, one dollar fine and costs of prosecution. D.B. Jenks, counsel for prisoner, G.R. Barrett, district attorney, for Commonwealth."

The trial of James Green for the murder of Samuel Knopsnyder, was held at the same court, and by the same jury, with the same result and sentence.

Long’s friends claim that the influence brought to the aid of the Greens cleared them of murder in the first degree. They never reappeared in Jefferson county after their trial, and it is said that the younger man, Edwin Green, was killed, after his release from the penitentiary, by Indians while crossing the plains on his way West.

Daniel Long left a wife and three little children. His son, Daniel, is a worthy citizen of Brookville.

The Mexican War, which occurred in 1847 and 1848, only caused a small ripple of excitement in our backwoods county; the only volunteer of whom we find any mention being Robert McCullough, a blacksmith from the Beechwoods, who was killed in one of the battles of that war.

In the summer of 1850,the dysentery prevailed in an epidemic form in the county. In Brookville and vicinity the mortality was very great, and one of the newspapers of that year says that "in a space of not more than six square miles, between Red Bank and Little Sandy, there were thirty-four deaths in July and August."

June 4, 1859, will long be remembered as the date of the "big frost." It was a regular freeze, and destroyed all kinds of vegetables; grain, fruit, potatoes were all killed, and the grass crops much injured, while the forests looked as though a fire had scorched their foliage. Almost a panic ensued, and the farmers seemed to see starvation staring them in the face. Flour and grain advanced at once in price; the former as high as sixteen dollars per barrel. In one locality, in one of the churches, on the Sunday following the frost, a subscription was taken up to purchase breadstuffs. But the "scare was worse than the hurt," grain was shipped into the markets from the Western States, and soon declined almost to its nominal price. The new crops of corn and potatoes which were planted at once, to replace those destroyed, gave a good yield, and the effects of the frost were not near so disastrous as was anticipated. A similar frost occurred in 1843.

The Jefferson Star of October 16, 1850, notes that "twenty-five fugitive slaves passed through Brookville last Monday morning on their way to Canada;" so the first railroad in Jefferson county was the underground railroad, and from the above notice it would appear that travelers from the "Sunny South" to Canada were quite numerous.

In 1860 the population of the county is given at 18,189 whites, and eighty-one colored.

Source:  Page(s) 67-71, History of Jefferson County by Kate M. Scott. Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., 1888.

Contributed by Nathan Zipfel for use by the Jefferson County Genealogy Project (

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