Chapter XXXIX
History of Snyder Township 

Snyder, the seventh township, was organized in 1835, being taken from Pine Creek, and was called for Governor Simon Snyder. In 1843 a portion of the township was taken from it, on the formation of Elk county. The present boundaries of Snyder are: On the north, by Elk county; on the east, by Elk and Clearfield; on the south, by Washington township and Clearfield county, and on the west by Polk and Warsaw.

Topography. - The northern part of the township is an almost unbroken wilderness on both sides of the Little Toby, being made so by the near approach of the Homewood sandstone, in very massive condition, to the uplands there. The southern part, covered mostly by coal measure strata, is the agricultural part, and is generally cleared land. The Ridgway road crossing the township from east to west, very nearly defines the forest’ region from that under cultivation. The drainage is mainly into the Clarion River, through the valley of Little Toby, and its tributaries. At the western side of the township, the headsprings of Mill Creek interlock with one branch of the North Fork. It is interesting to observe how very small is the interval separating these Redbank waters from the Little Toby. Those of Mill Creek, in fact, approach in places, nearly to the abrupt hills which overlook the other stream.

Geology. - Snyder township is one of the principal coal producing districts of the township, as will be seen from the report of the Clarion mines. The coal seam worked is the Freeport Lower, averaging four feet in thickness. The Northwestern Mining and Exchange Company, operating these mines, own the mineral on 5,791 acres in Snyder township, the assessed value of which is $11,582.

Early Settlers. - In 1822 Alonzo and James W. Brockway settled on the Pfeffer tract, lottery warrant No. 34, which their father, John P. Brockway, had purchased at treasurer’s sale, in Indiana, the year previous. This was the first settlement in Snyder township, and is where the town of Brockwayville now is. The next to settle in what is now Snyder township, was Jacob Shaffer, who located in 1823 on the Henry Sivert tract, and his brother- in- law, Henry Walborn, who located on the run known as Walborn Run, about a mile and a half above Brockway’s.

Although the land was heavily timbered and hard to clear, they found the soil very productive, and the Brockways soon found themselves able to live comfortably, and even luxuriously, in the wilderness. Wild game was abundant, and with elk, bear, deer and wild turkey, to furnish the meat, the bees the honey, and the magnificent groves of sugar maple the molasses and sugar, while the luxurious vegetation furnished their cattle with abundant food, there was no lack of good wholesome food. Flour was the hardest to get, but soon mills were erected, as we have already stated, and this difficulty was obviated in a measure, and cornbread, or "pone," as it was called in those days, took the place of the white rolls made from the Vienna flour of the present day.

Ami Sibley was one of the pioneers of Snyder township, locating in that region in 1818. He was one of the most noted hunters in the northern part of the county. He died in 1861. Mr. Sibley raised a family of nine children, nearly all of whom are now residents of Snyder, and among her best citizens.

Among the settlers who followed the Brockways into Snyder were James Pendleton, Hiram Wilson, Henry and Ira Walsh, A.R. Frost, Samuel Beman, William Bennett, Stephen Tibbetts, Jacob Myers, Alonzo Firman, James McMinn, R.W. Moorhead, Bennett Prindle, Paul Robinson, J.H. Robinson, Thomas Brian, John Johnson, James Marshall, Thomas Calhoun, James Penfield, Benjamin Shaw, John Atwell, James W. Green, Robert McMinn, William McMinn.

There are some excellent farms in Snyder, among the best improved being those of John Atwell, Mathew Bovaird, Charles Bovaird, John Bryant, Joseph Barber, John Calhoun, James Calhoun, Alonzo Firman, Thomas Hutchison, John Keys, James McMinn, Joseph and Robert Morrison, Daniel Pendleton, John H. Robinson, Mrs. Mary M. Lane, Henry Kearney. The fruit raised, such as apples, pears, plums, is equal to that of any of the other townships.

Lumber and Saw- mills. - The first thing that the early settlers of Snyder turned their attention to was lumbering. Dr. Clark’s account of the first timber run out of Little Toby, has already been given. Then it took several weeks to dispose of the small fleet, and the highest price paid for "clear stuff" was only ten dollars per thousand feet, while the common lumber only brought about four dollars per thousand. Though this first venture almost proved a failure, the business was prosecuted with renewed vigor from year to year, and as it was the only business that brought money into the township, the timber was ruthlessly sacrificed. In 1828 John S., Alonzo and James M. Brockway, built a saw- mill, and about the same time the mill about three miles above Brockway’s, called the "Balltown mill," was built by Isaac Horton, Chauncy Brockway, Hezekiah and L. Warner and Alanson Vial.

One of the first mills built in Snyder was that erected by Dr. William. Bennett, father of Dr. J.T. Bennett, of Brookville; it was afterwards called the Jenkins mill.

In 1836 Hoyt & Wilson bought timber lands of Jacob Shaffer, about two miles above where Brockwayville now is, built a saw- mill, and ran it for some time, when the property was purchased by Alonzo Firman, who erected a new steam mill. This mill cuts about half a million feet per year. Mr. Firman owns some seven hundred acres of timber land in connection with the mill property.

In 1845 William McCullough built a mill On the site of the present "Lane mill." It was then owned by Hyde & Scott, then by Lane, Conklin & Phelps, who erected the present large establishment. The property, which is situated on Little Toby Creek, about two miles south of Brockwayville, is now owned by Mr. N.B. Lane, and cuts three million feet per year. There is about two thousand acres of timber land belonging to this property.

James Pendleton, in 1841, built a saw- mill, grist and carding- mill, on Rattlesnake Run, about one mile south of where Brockwayville now is. The sawmill was rebuilt in 1846, and is now owned by Daniel Pendleton, son of the first builder. This mill cuts from one to two hundred thousand feet per annum, and has about one hundred acres of timber land connected with it.

The Forest Lumber Company’s mill, formerly the "Galusha mill," was built by Peter Galusha in 1850, who owned it until his death. It is now the property of the Forest Lumber Company, and has about forty thousand acres of timber land in connection with it, and cuts four million feet per annum. A store is connected with this establishment.

The Atwell mill, located four miles west of Brockwayville, on the Brookville road, was built by Shaw & Atwell in 1878, and is now owned by Nelson Atwell; its capacity is about half a million per year.

The Buzzard mill, situated on Little Toby, one-half mile north of Brockwayville, was built by E.G. and C.M. Carrier in 1874. The property was then owned by John Alexander, and. is now the property of R.L. Buzzard. It cuts from three to four million feet per annum, and has about three thousand acres of timber land in connection with it.

Allen’s mills - grist and saw- mill - built in 1874 by Dillis Allen. The carpenter work was done by Philo Bowdish. Since the death of Mr. Allen the property is owned by his estate and William Bond, as Bond & Allen. The flouring mill is run by F.J. Lord, lessee, and is known as the Eureka Flour Mill. The saw- mill is run by S.C. Bond, who has leased it for a term of years.

G.S. Himes, planing- mill, situated in Brockwayville; built in 1885.

Planing and shingle- mill, built in September, 1886, by William Frederick.

Elections. - At an election held in Snyder township in 1835, the following persons were elected township officers:

Constable, Myron Gibbs; supervisors, John McLaughlin, Ami Sibley; auditors, Milton Johnson, Thomas McCormick, Joseph McCurdy; township clerk, Thomas McCormick; overseers of the poor, Myron Gibbs, Joseph McAfee; assessor, Milton Johnston; inspector, Myron Gibbs; fence appraiser, James Ross.

At the election held February 15, 1887, the following persons were elected:

Constable, James Graybill; supervisors, Samuel Clodgers, Henry Humphrey; school directors, R.J. Thompson, John Britton; poor overseer, James Kearney; auditor, William Bond, Sr.; judge of election, Thomas Hutchinson; inspectors, M.B. Holt, S.B. Firman; town clerk, Frederick Lane; tax collector, John H. Robinson; assessor, A.J. Firman; treasurer, John Keys. The justices of the peace in Snyder township are J.N. Atwell and H. Humphrey. The members of the board of school directors previously elected are John Frost, Nelson Atwell, Neil McCay and Henry Humphrey.

Snyder township paid a bounty for volunteers during the war, of $3,365.90.

Statistics of Population and Taxables. - In Snyder township the number of taxables in 1835 was 41; 1842, 72; in 1849, 69; in 1863,117; in1870, 245; in 1880, 317; in 1886, 270 (Brockwayville was made a borough in 1883, which accounts for the decrease in taxables and population). The population, according to the different census reports was, 1840, 291; 1850, 306; 1860, 597; 1870, 792; 1880, 1,048. In 1843 part of Snyder township was separated from it and annexed to Elk, which accounts for little or no increase in the population from 1840 to 1850.

Value of Property - The triennial assessment of 1886 gives the number of acres seated land 11,356 acres; valuation, $39,261 ; value per acre, $3.46; number of grist and saw- mills, 8; valuation, $2,355; unseated, 6,915 acres; valuation, $23,083; average per acre, $3.34; number acres surface, 5,462; valuation, $13,062; average, $2.39; number of acres mineral, 7,743; valuation, $15,486; value per acre, $2; number of horses, 189; valuation, $3,473; average value, $18.37; cows, 268; valuation, $2,095; average value, $7.82; 23 oxen; valuation, $94; 112 occupations; valuation, $31,150; average, $27.90; total valuation subject to county tax, $102,059; money at interest, $23,330.

School Statistics.— According to the report of education for the year ending June 6, 1886, there were six schools in Snyder township; term, six months; number of male teachers, 4; females, two; average salary, $30 for male, and $25 for females; number of scholars, 108 males; females, 132; average number attending school, 157; per cent of attendance, 87; cost per month, 78 cents; number of mills levied for school purposes, 12; for building purposes, 8; total amount of tax levied for school and building purposes, $1,336.28; for the winter of 1886 - 7 there are 7 schools reported, with 259 scholars.


Brockwayville is the only borough in Snyder township, and was incorporated September 13, 1883. In 1880 it had only a population of three hundred and sixty, but this has largely increased since the place has become a railroad and shipping point.

Where the town is now located, the first settlement in Snyder township was made in 1822, when Alonzo and Chauncey Brockway, for whom the town is named, built their cabins upon its site. The town was not started, however, until 1836, when Dr. A.M. Clark bought property there and removed to it. He at once began to lay out the town in lots, and was the first to give it an onward impetus.

One of the old residents of Brockwayville, who, in 1887, passed off the scene of earthly action, ending a long and useful life, was James W. Green. "Squire" Green, as he was called, came to Snyder township in 1818 or 1819. He was a prominent member of the Methodist Church, and held many offices of trust in the township. He was justice of the peace when he died, and Governor. Beaver appointed his son to fill his place. Mr. Green’s children are among the prominent citizens of the town.

Among the other old citizens are: Dr. W.C. Niver, whose biography appears in another column, A.J. Thompson, and R.W. Moorhead.

Cemeteries. - The first death in Brockwayville was that of a little child of Alonzo and Huldah Brockway, who died in 1828 or 1829, and was buried on the bank of the Toby Creek, near where the old hotel stands, but its grave has long since disappeared. The next burial place for the dead was a field by the roadside, on what is now the Marvin Allen farm, and where, in one corner, the first to die in the township, also a little child of Jacob Shaffer, was laid away. In that little city of the dead, which was called "the Shaffer’s burying ground," were buried Joel Clark, and Chloe, his wife, Bailey Hughes, A.J. Ingalls, Jacob Myers, Comfort D. Felt, Joel Clark, Jr., and Mary, his wife, with their children, Hiram, Willie and. Jane. This grave- yard, which is about one mile from Brockwayville, is not now used, as Mr. Marvin, at his death, requested that no more interments should be made there.

There is also an old grave-yard back of the John Morrison lots, on the Alexander place, but the bodies of those resting there have been nearly all removed to the new cemetery, and the place is not now used as a burying ground.

The Clark family burial plot, on the old homestead farm, where several of Dr. Clark’s children, two of Dr. McKnight’s, and children of Dr. W.C. Niver and C.K. Hahn were buried, has also been vacated by the dead being removed to Wildwood Cemetery.

Wildwood Cemetery was started in 1866 by twenty- five citizens of Snyder township subscribing twenty- five dollars each. It contains ten acres, and is beautifully situated about half a mile from the center of the town, on land purchased from Dr. Clark. Prominent among those furthering this project were Dr. A.M. Clark, Dr. W.C. Niver, W.W. Weilman, Peter Galusha, N.B. Lane and A.J. Thompson.

The first person buried in Wildwood was Mrs. Fannie P. Johnson, wife of John Johnson, who died August 26, 1868. Part of the ground is laid out in lots, some of which are tastefully ornamented with shrubbery and flowers, one of the most noticeable being the lot of Conrad K. Huhn. It is circular in shape, surrounded with a hedge fence; a little brook meanders through it, the sides of which are beautifully terraced. Robert Humphrey has a nicely arranged lot, surrounded by an iron fence, with marble posts. The lot of R.W. Moorhead, where his wife, Mrs. Olive Moorhead, is laid, is surrounded by an iron fence, and is tastefully kept. In this inclosure is a large Italian marble monument. There are some other fine monuments in these grounds, prominent among which is the Scotch granite one of James McClelland. The officers of the Wildwood Cemetery Company (1887) are: President, Henry Humphrey; secretary, Robert Humphrey; treasurer, William D. Clark.

Elections. - The first election held in Brockwayville after its incorporation as a borough, was in 1883, and then the following persons were elected to the different town offices:

Justice of the peace, John Morrison; constable, L.S. Short; high constable, J.L. Bond; assessor, W. T. McLaughlin; town council, O.A. Sibley, Arnold Groves, B.T. Chapin, A.L. Hoy, R.W. Moorhead, P. Bowdish; burgess, W.C. Niver; school directors, J.G. Dailey, Alton Chapin, C.G. Knight, Ira Felt, James Groves; overseers of the poor, T. Myers, William Morey; auditors, A.J. Thompson, Daniel Riley; judge of election, M.B. Moorhead; inspectors, Joseph Prindle, H.A. Frost.

At the election held February 15, 1887, the following were elected:

Burgess, R.A. McElhaney; councilmen, J.L. Bond, 3 years, W.D. Clark, 3 years, B.T. Chapin, 1 year; constable, L.C. Bond; high constable, Henry Leeper; assessor, Samuel McLaughlin; tax collector, L.C. Bond; overseer, Peter Burkhouse; auditor, D.D. Groves; treasurer, A.R. Chapin; school directors, M.B. Moorhead, 3 years, Peter Galusha, 3 years, J.H. Groves, 2 years; judge of election, D.C. Nelson; inspectors, Peter Galusha and Edward Green. The justices of the peace for Brockwayville are W.D. Clark and E.A. Green. The members of the school board previously elected are C.G. Knight, P. Berkhouse, Ira Felt and George S. Himes.

Population, Taxables and Assessments. - The number of taxables in Brockwayville in 1886, was 204. The population, according to the census of 1880, was 360. The triennial assessment gives the number of acres of seated land in Brockwayville as 394; valuation, $4,857; average per acre, $12.33; number of houses and lots, 213; valuation, $13,032; number of horses, 44; valuation, $945; average value, $21; number of cows, 32; valuation, $288; average value, $9; number of occupations, 137; valuation, $5,355; average value, $39 total valuation subject to county tax, $24,477; money at interest, $11,146.

School Statistics. - The number of schools in Brockwayville for the year ending June 7, 1886, was 3; term, five months; number of male teachers, 1; female teachers, average salary of male teachers, $40; females, 32; number of male scholars, 59; females, 60; average attendance, 106; per cent of attendance, 94; cost per month, 99 cents. Thirteen mills were levied for school, and seven for building purposes. Total amount of tax levied for school and building, $565.16. The number of scholars for winter of 1886 - 7 were 150.

Past and Present Business.— The first store started in Brockwayville was by Robert W. Moorhead, in 1854, who conducted the business of general merchandising until 1861, when he disposed of the business to Wellman Brothers, who in 1872, resold to R.W. Moorhead & Son, the Wellman Brothers returning to the State of New York, where they engaged in the banking business. The store then passed into the hands of Mrs. R.W. Moorhead, who sold to B.T. Chapin & Co., in 1878. The store is still owned by B.T. Chapin, and is one of the best in the town.

D.D. Groves, general merchandise, started November, 188i, is, with Chapin’s, the principal store in the place.

Daly & Kearney, dealers in boots and shoes and gentlemen’s furnishing goods; established by J.G. Daily in 1882; copartnership established in 1884.

The Buffalo Clothing Store, R. Cohen proprietor, keeps a large stock of clothing and men’s furnishing goods; established in March, 1886.

Bond & Cooper, dealers in hardware; established in March, 1882.

J.R. Baird, drugs, agent for J.L. Bond; established in May, 1884.

Dr. J.W. Hoey, drugs; established in August, 1886.

Rankin & McClelland started a drug store in December, 1883. Scott McClelland retired from the firm December 1, 1884, and William Condick purchased his interest, the firm being Rankin & Condick.

Ira Felt, groceries and provisions; established in November, 1882; associated his son, C. Felt, with him in the business January 1, 1887. Mr. Felt is also engaged in the manufacture and sale of cigars.

George W. Sibley, dealer in groceries; established July, 1882.

J.W. Smith, dealer in groceries, provisions, flour and feed; established in September, 1883. Mr. Smith also has an extensive meat market in connection with his store, furnishing nearly all the meat consumed at the Clarion mines.

H.D. Hodgkinson, dealer in groceries and confectioneries; established in, 1887. Mr. Hodgkinson also runs a five cent counter.

R.A. McElhaney, dealer in furniture and undertaker; established in 1875.

R.A. Hubbard, watchmaker and jeweler, 1887.

Thomas Ralston, saddlery and harness; established in the fall of 1882.

A. Miller, shoemaker; established in 1885.

Miss N. McMinn, millinery and dressmaking; established in 1878.

Mrs. J.R. Kelts, millinery and dressmaking, September, 1881.

Mrs. M.C. Slagle (now Mrs. R.A. McElhaney), millinery; established May, 1884.

J.A. Adams, billiard room; established by Webster Reed in 1883; sold to Adams, December, 1885.

Alexander Hynd, barber shop; established May, 1886.

Smith Strickler, blacksmith shop; established fall of 1870.

McLaughlin Brothers, wagon making and general blacksmiths; established May, 1872.

Frederick Walker, blacksmith; established fall of 1881. Mr. Walker has also been engaged in the livery business since 1871.

The Railroad House was built in 1853 by John Arner, but only partly completed, and was first kept as a hotel by John Russell, afterwards by W.H. Schram, Nathaniel Clark, Henry Welsh, B.F. Townley, R.M. Bennett, R.T. Kelly, R.M. Overheiser. It is now under the supervision of Andrew Logan, who took charge of it in April, 1885, and is known as the Logan House. It has been owned by R.W. Moorhead, Smith & Waterhouse, Henry Welsh, and now by Robert Smith and A.J. Thompson.

Clark House, started in 1886.

Restaurant, boarding and eating- house, Mrs. E.A. Andrews; established. December, 1882.

The present physicians are Drs. W.C. Niver, J.W. Hoey and M.M. Rankin.

The town has no member of the legal fraternity, or dentist, Dr. E.I. Marsh, of Du Bois, paying stated visits to the place to look after the molars of the community.

Source:  Page(s) 547-554, History of Jefferson County by Kate M. Scott. Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., 1888.

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