Chapter XLII
History of Washington Township 

Washington, the eleventh township, named in honor of the "Father of his Country," was organized in 1839, being taken from Pine Creek. It is bounded on the north by. Snyder and Warsaw townships; on the east by Clearfield county; on the south by Winslow township, and on the west by Pine Creek and Warsaw.

Washington is one of the largest townships in the county. Its surface area is about fifty square miles, or nearly one- twelfth of the entire surface area of the county. It is over seven miles long from north to south, at its longest part, and nearly nine miles wide, from east to west at its widest part.

Geology. -  The principal coal bed in Washington township is the Freeport Lower, the principal coal mines are at Beechtree, on the Rattlesnake Run, a branch of the Little Toby, which starts at the Covenanter Church, and flows in a direct course eastward along the northern edge of the township. The thickness of the seam, etc., are given in the report of the Beechtree mines in a preceding chapter. The Jefferson Coal Company owns 3,269 acres of mineral in Washington, and the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal and Iron Company 2,825 acres. The superb coal which is found in Washington was always known to exist there, from the fact of its outcrop in the ravines. The ferriferous limestone is found in Washington. It is very near the surface, of good quality, and could be easily and cheaply quarried, and would be of inestimable value to the farms, which would be much benefited by its use.

The village of Rockdale stands at the edge of the coal measures, just above the Homewood sandstone. Within this latter formation, and close to the village store, is an extensive bog, the soil of which is saturated with natural oil -  petroleum -  that has oozed from crevices in the sandstone. Pits and holes dug into the bog attest the presence of oil.

In 1880, during the excitement that prevailed in the eastern part of Jefferson county, this locality was seized upon by practical oil men, as a favorable spot for drilling, the bog being regarded as an almost sure indication that the Bradford sands 1,500 feet below the water level were oil- bearing, but after going down some 1,500 feet the well was abandoned, no oil being found, indicating that the oil is merely on the surface.

The Early Settlers. -  In 1824 Henry Keys, Alexander Osborn, John McIntosh, John McGhee and Thomas Moore, first settled in what is now Washington township. To their new home they gave the name of "Beechwoods," from the great quantity of beech trees which they found growing there, an appellation which still clings to the locality. They were followed in. 1826 by Andrew Smith, William Cooper and John Wilson, with their families, and in 1829, James Smith, with his family, also located in the Beechwoods. These first settlers came from the eastern counties of Centre and Adams.

The early history of this section of the county has been graphically portrayed by Rev. Boyd McCullough, who settled with his parents in the Beech-woods in 1832, in his "Sketches of Local History," and the "Shamrock," published by him, from which the following interesting incidents are taken:

"In 1828 there was a beautiful fall. Keys’s folks sowed wheat in November. The next spring was favorable, and it was a bountiful crop. This was a great loss to the settlement, for the people were encouraged to sow as much wheat as they could get in any time through October, and the rust generally ruined it, till they learned wit by dear experiences.

The winter of 1831 was a very cold one, and in the severest part of it the house of John Hunter was burned down. The neighbors soon gathered together and put up a log house for him, but he lost nearly everything he owned by the fire.

It was in the spring of 1832 that we moved into the woods. There were seventeen families in the woods at the time. We stopped at Andrew Smith’s. I was seven years old. The next morning I ran in with the news that there was an ass with very slim legs and a small nose in the yard. I was told that it was a deer. They had petted several young deer at different times.

That fall the first school was started in the place. The log school- house had one regular window, with six lights. The other window was made by removing a log and. placing the panes of glass in the cavity joining each other. A writing desk was made by driving pins in a log below this window, and laying a rough board upon it. The fire- place was made by building a stone wall against the logs as high as the loft, from this a kind of flue was made of pine sticks and clay. Sometimes the smoke found its way up the chimney, and sometimes it wandered through the house. William. Reynolds taught this first school for ten dollars a month, half in cash, and half in grain, after harvest. People who do not know half as much would turn up their noses at treble that pay now.

The kindly spring came gently on, and we then commenced to make sugar. Right pleasant it is to see the luscious juice drop, drop, dropping from the trees all over the hill, while the roaring fire makes the syrup go foaming and dancing in the kettle till it is time to take it out and put fresh sap in. It is hard work, but then you can see the progress you are making, and you get your pay immediately.

There was no school in summer, but we attended Sabbath- school in the school house. This school was organized by Rev. Mr. Riggs (in 1831), but it existed before that. Robert McIntosh and Betty Keys had started it when there were but a few families in the place. It went from house to house before there was any school- house.

James and Andrew Smith, father and son, Thomas Ledlie and Alexander Cochran might be mentioned as men whose deep thought gave an intellectual tone to the discussions. Robert McIntosh, Sr., was the first superintendent. He was not a man of extensive information, but his devoted spirit, and warm, cordial impulse gave a great interest to his devotional exercises, and made him universally respected. Well do I remember the last time I saw him in the Sabbath- school. He closed by singing the sixth psalm, long meter, in the old version: " Lord, in thy wrath, rebuke me not." That was in the fall of 1833, and he died in the fall of 1834.

Betty Keys was also the life of the school, as long as her health enabled her to attend. She was said to be very self- willed and opinionative, and on one occasion the young women, returning from Sabbath- school, were waiting ahead, and the men in a company behind, all except Oliver McClelland, who was walking with the girls. She invited him to fall back in the company of the men, and so maintain the decorum due the day. That she loved to rule might be true, but certain it is that if she ruled, it was by the gentle power of love. We, children, no matter what class we belonged to, were accustomed to look up to her as to one superior to the rest, and as one who could scarcely do anything wrong. We carried our dinners with us, as there was Sabbath- school in the morning and prayer- meeting in the afternoon.

When we came to the Beechwoods the soil was rich and the vegetation luxurious, but the subsoil is poor. Thousands of years ago great currents of water must have swept westward carrying the soil into Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, leaving the heavy deposits of iron and rock. When the climate became dryer and the streams shrank to their present size, a growth of forest followed. The decaying leaves of two or three thousand years formed this rich mold. Scarcely was the snow of winter gone when the wild leeks peeped up like corn. At first they had not much of their rampant taste, and cattle nipped them off greedily. Before they got strong the curly weed showed itself; vellera and broad leaf followed. All these had a thick, juicy root, which lived over winter. By the middle of June the wild pea vine gave pasturage. Besides these, which the cattle ate, there were many flowers that they did not eat, the mandrake, the sweet william, the phlox, the honeysuckle and the violet.

Bees found homes in the hollow trees, as conveniently as food in the flowers. The blossoms of the trees also gave them their choice honey. The crops were often good. In 1835 we planted a bushel and a half of potatoes in one patch of new ground, covering them with leaves, and scratching enough clay over them to keep the leaves down. It was a wet season, which was the most suitable for such planting, and we dug thirty-six bushels of potatoes. The same year the Keyses had four hundred bushels to the acre. Another year James Smith had as good a yield.

One year, perhaps in 1836, William Smith, Sr., had soft corn, owing to the season, and the next year he thought he would plant more. His wife planted a patch by the house and took every care of it. The crop yielded at the rate of a hundred bushels of shelled corn to the acre. In those days people hardly ever sowed timothy seed at all. A little seed in the wheat got into the ground, and taking hold in fence corners and around stumps was ready to spread when a field was thrown out. Two tons of hay to the acre was thought nothing remarkable, yet all this was the product of rich mold on the surface. People did not know how poor the subsoil was, or they would have kept up the condition of their land.

Rev. Joseph McGarrah assisted Rev. Mr. Riggs to hold the first communion in the Beechwoods. A: son of Mr. McGarrah told me, in a chat about old times, that in 1815 he went to a store with a bag of wheat. He went on horseback twelve miles, and got seventy- five cents a bushel for his wheat, and paid fifty cents a pound for coffee, and twenty- five cents a piece for tin cups to eat mush and milk out of. It was night when he got back, and he brought two pounds of coffee and two tin cups for his bag of wheat.

It was not so bad in 1836 as in 1815, but still we had the difficulty of cheap produce and dear store goods. It was five pounds of coffee, four yards of coarse muslin, or six yards of poor calico for a dollar, when a dollar represented two days of hard work. And then cash could not be had for work, and many articles the merchants would not sell without money.

If the young people want to know how we got along in those days, I will tell them we got along exactly as we do now. When tired, we grunted; when hurt, we grinned; when pleased, we laughed, exactly as we do now. The young men winked at the girls, and the girls smiled back as often and pleasantly as you do now. But to be more definite, the men shore the sheep, the women scoured the wool, and the girls made a frolic to pick it. It was sent to the carding machine, and then spun by hand. The yarn was carried to the weaver: The cloth was soused in soap- suds and thrown on the kitchen floor, where the boys kicked it until it was fulled up; then colored with butternut, it was made up into men’s clothing. The women were a little more tasty, and wore barred flannel colored with indigo, madder, etc. If people did not look quite so well in homespun as in broadcloth, they felt as happy.

In 1841 Billy Richards set up a fulling- mill on North Fork, and started Richardsville. This was a great relief, as before we had to carry our cloth to Frederick Holopeter’s, somewhere in Clearfield county. Remember, this home- made cloth cost more, counting the labor, than fine cloth does now; but it was the best we had, and we felt proud of it.

In May, 1832, Robert Morrison, Sr., was making his way from Philadelphia to Beechwoods. On the Allegheny Mountains he was walking ahead of the wagon and met a man even more venerable than himself with a staff in each hand. "Bands and beauty," exclaimed Mr. Morrison, in allusion to Zechariah 11, 7. Delighted to meet a stranger so familiar with the Bible, Mr. Robert McIntosh (for such he proved to be), stopped short, and the two old gentlemen had a chat. Mr. Morrison was uncertain about the road he was to take, and to his happy surprise he found that Mr. McIntosh had just come from his destination, and that they were to be neighbors. He now received directions which made his way easy. They were afterwards elders in the same congregation, and in course of time the son of the one and the daughter of the other were married. That, however, was not the first marriage in Mr. Morrison’s family. The first was the marriage of Thomas Ledlie to Letitia. After they were married Mr. Ledlie told her about a strolling woman, who was a great match- maker, that often told about a little girl near McGilligan’s Head, in Ireland. Our match- maker was a sharp observer of human nature. She took it for granted that Mr. Ledlie was hard to suit, but she thought this girl, when grown up, would do for him. Mrs. Ledlie knew the woman by the description, and when Mr. Ledlie made inquiry he was satisfied that Letitia Morrison was the girl laid out for him. They were only ten miles apart; but they never saw one another until they met in the Beechwoods. He was quite an old bachelor and she a young woman, but in this case the union of May and September was a happy married life.

In October, 1836, Mathew Smith and Betty Hunter were married. On that day Hugh McCullough happened into James Bond’s house. The young people inquired, "When will your wedding come off?" He answered: "In ten years I will be thirty- five, and that is the marrying age." The old lady spoke and said, "That is a good age. I am glad you put it off so long, for perhaps you will rob me of one of my daughters. It is well the evil day is so far off." In the tenth year from that time he led to the altar the youngest and fairest of the daughters. The ten years had not run out. They both sleep now in the narrow house.

The free school system went into force in 1835. William Kennedy taught in the winter of 1834- 5. He was hired by subscription, but in the spring the money came out of the school fund to pay him. After that we had three months in the winter, taught by a male teacher, and three months each summer by a female teacher. The following is list of the teachers in the Beech-woods from 1832 to 1842: First teacher, William Reynolds. In 1833, Alexander Cochran; 1834, William Kennedy; 1835, Betsy McCurdy and Thomas Reynolds; 1836, Nancy Jane McClelland and Oliver McClelland; 1837, Fanny McConnell and Andrew Smith; 1838, Fanny McConnell and Dexter Morris; 1839, Peggy McIntosh and Finley McCormick; 1840, Nancy McClelland and Joseph Sterrett. In 1841 the second school was started, so we had Nancy J. McClelland and Marjory Sterrett, in the summer, and in the winter Henry Potts was the only teacher, and he was turned out for lack of a certificate, but finished his school by subscription. In 1842 a log school- house was built beside Andrew Smith’s, and Nancy Bond was the first who taught in it, while Nancy Jane McClelland taught in the Cooper school- house. The summer before Marjory Sterrett had taught in a house of Jacob Zeck’s. In the winter of 1842 -  3 William Patton and George Sprague were the teachers.

The summer of 1836, being the only summer I had the pleasure of attending, I will speak of it in detail. There were thirty scholars in attendance. The teacher and sixteen of those scholars reside in the Beechwoods yet. One is in Perrysville, two in Pittsburgh, four in the far west, and seven are in the land of silence. What is very singular, there is not an old bachelor or an old maid among them. James Hunter was drowned when a young man, rafting in Clarion. The rest were all married. All these teachers were residents of Jefferson county or vicinity, except S.D. Morris, so I will give a sketch of him. Samuel Dexter Morris was a live Yankee, from the State of New York. Although a Baptist minister and an earnest Christian, he was full and running over with wit and humor. When he commenced teaching he told us, gravely, that we might devote all our time to our books, and he would do the whispering all himself. We appreciated this kind offer, but we thought it too much trouble for him to teach such a large school and do the whispering too. When the hissing conversation went on, he proceeded to check it by mirth- provoking punishments. He had the faculty of interesting his scholars in their lessons; fastening ideas in their memory. Those were the days when officers, parents, all, combined to sustain the teacher. Whatever the statute law might be, two simple laws were impressed upon the public mind, -  one was, that the teacher was responsible for the deportment of the scholar, and the other, that the scholar must obey. Two scholars, who shall be nameless, behaved rudely at table, and would not obey their mother. The school mistress was present. She told them she would settle with them in school, which she did, effectually. Now- a- days teachers confine their responsibility and children their good order to the school room.

In the days of slavery Beechwoods had its share of the "irrepressible conflict." In 1834 two darkeys made their appearance there and remained a good; part of the winter.

William Smith, Sr., had been working in Maryland for a large iron manufacturer, named Columbus O’Donnell. He hired a couple of slaves named Jim and Harry, to work in the furnace. Those men William Smith taught the iron business. One he made a puddler and the other a refiner. The slaves hired their time from their master, and then got their own wages from O’Donnell. This gave them a chance to save money to buy their freedom. Although their master had broken the bargain more than once by raising the price, still they had nearly paid for themselves, when their master, who still kept the money, sold them to a trader. Mr. Smith knew it, but they did not. In the evening they came into his shop when the other hands were gone. He told them the fate in store for them, and advised them to skedaddle. They said they had no money, no friends, and nowhere to go. He told them to follow the Chestnut Ridge on out to where it was called Boone’s Mountain. Then to strike out to the left and inquire for the Irish Settlement in Jefferson county. He charged them to travel by night and speak to no one until they had, at least, gone one hundred miles. Deacon William Smith, a nephew of Mr. Smith’s, was working there too, at the time. They got up a purse of money between them, and prepared for them a bag full of bread and boiled ham.

The fugitives pursued the best course to avoid being taken. They hid in a hay- mow three days, while those who sought them were scouring the country. Then, when the search was over, they started and traveled by night, till they were sure they were well advanced on Pennsylvania soil. The mountain range guided them all the way, and they arrived safely. However, through the indiscretion of a man who had taken too much liquor, the story was communicated to peddlers who carried the news to their master. He wrote to Mr. Smith, offering five hundred dollars for them. He notified the boys that they had better clear out, and they took their course for Canada.

Nobody in Beechwoods was lost long enough to suffer much, but some were, not far away. In 1846 a boy of Mr. Washburn’s, on Boone’s Mountain, was lost going home from the sugar camp. I think he perished with cold the first night. It was a cold night in April, and he was a small boy. It was nearly a week before he was found.

In 1834 Moffet Ledlie went out after a deer, after he had his breakfast. He lost himself, and did not get home until the next day. He was middling hungry, but he fretted more about the dog than himself, as the dog had followed him before it had its breakfast, He shot a squirrel which he roasted, ate a leg, and gave the rest to his dog. He came on his own tracks, but could not believe it until he tried his boot and the dog’s feet in their respective prints.

In 1832 David Dennison found his way out of the wood’s by driving home Keys’s cows. No matter how you started cattle, they knew how to make for home. Mr. Dennison looked so wild with fright and hunger, that Mr. Keys said, "Davy, dear, whar did you get the whisky ?"

My brother, Hugh, was but twelve years of age when he slept in the woods all night; but it was a warm night in May, and he did not suffer with cold. The cows brought him home safely in the morning, but already half the settlement was out in search of him.

As late as 1847, when there were roads in all directions, John Groves got lost. Robert Morrison went to look for him, and both passed the night in the woods.

That so few accidents occurred by frost, considering the bad roads and a severe climate, is wonderful. In 1839 James Rainey, who lived where James Shaw now resides, was returning from Brookville in company with Robert McBride, when he expressed a desire for a few hours sleep. Shortly after he fell and could not rise. Mr. McBride carried him to the nearest house.

In 1830 or 1831 George McConnell was killed by the falling back of a stump. The tree had turned out of root, and the rebound threw him in the air when he cut it off. The family had not come on from Centre county, and he and ‘his brother James were alone. James McConnell also had the misfortune to cut off his brother David’s fingers in 1833. Joseph McDowell was killed by a tree as he worked on the roads in the summer of 1843. They carried him home, and as Mrs. McDowell was not at home, Mrs. William Maxwell went for her, and told her she was wanted at home. She intended to break the news to her on the way. To this end she remarked, "You and Joe have had your troubles and hard work." "Indeed we have. One time when we were clearing that field down there, we had nothing but greens to eat, and scarcely enough of that." "Oh! Joe’s hard work is all over now," said Mrs. Maxwell. "Ah, yes, poor man! I hope it is. We have got the farm cleared, and the worst is over." Finding herself so completely misunderstood, Mrs. Maxwell had not the heart to say any more, and Mrs. McDowell knew nothing more until she saw the disfigured corpse.

James Smith helped to carry him home, and in less than two years by one unlucky and cowardly blow, his own wife was left a widow, and his children fatherless. Twice the corpse was raised to decide whether the blow was the only cause of his death. The first day was a time of frightful wind Mrs. McDonald was confident that the unhallowed act of disturbing the repose of the dead raised the wind. Little did she then think that her own end would be more tragic than Mr. Smith’s, and her husband’s death more unhallowed than her own.

Unlike the western settlers, the pioneers of the Beechwoods enjoyed good health. For thirty years nothing like an epidemic prevailed, except twice. The dysentery prevailed in 1838, and the erysipelas in 1846. Both were of a malignant type. The dysentery appeared about the last of August. Several children died, but no grown people. James Kyle, like the rest, was forbidden the use of cold water. He said he would give the half of Pennsylvania for one drink . In the absence of the family Betty Keys assumed the responsibility of giving him half a cupful. Had he got it every two hours it would have done him no harm; but doctors had their notions in those days -  perhaps they have yet.

The erysipelas which prevailed in 1846 was different from any I have ever seen since. A sore spot appeared about the face; it might be inward, in the throat, or outward, on the cheek, nose or eye. Presently the patient was taken with a chill, and soon was in a burning fever. I do not remember that in any case but that of Thomas Atwell it proved fatal, but on Brandy Camp, in Elk county, it was often mortal.

About midway between Rockdale and Osburns the ruins of an old mill may be seen among the weeds and underbrush. John Wilson put up the mill as early as 1831. In 1836 he sold it to Blood, Baily & Hunt, who proceeded to put up a grist- mill, a saw- mill, a carding- machine, and a store. The store, the carding- machine, and the saw- mill existed only in imagination, but the grist- mill was a matter of fact. That a man without money or knowledge of the mill- wright trade should go to work and build a mill was a wonder, indeed, and yet I am told it did not do bad work until Baily got hold of it. Under his management it did miserable work, and only run a few months. Had Blood come on he might have done very well, for it was a good mill site.

But Blood and Hunt lived in Forest county, and had entered into a partnership with Baily, who made them believe he had money and skill in the business, when he had neither.

Some years after Mr. Wilson said he would put up a saw- mill on a cascade near his own house, in opposition to Dillas Allen, at Rockdale. People laughed at him; but while there was difficulty in any undertaking, he persevered. When he could do a thing easily he was apt to give it up. The old timber may be seen there yet, some fifty feet long, and about a foot square, yet all these he set up with the aid of his wife and an old blind mare. The water of the mill would pass through a four- inch pipe, yet he actually sawed some.

Indeed the mill might have done a good business, as the fall was so good, but he got into a quarrel with Joseph Scofield and was put in jail for a week, and during that time the sheriff levied on his mill irons, and that was the end of his mill after all his hard work.

The farm of Billy McDonald was destined to be the scene of so many tragedies that we might imagine that some Indian powwow had left a curse on the place. The beginning, however, was romantic, for it was here that Katy Wilson, in the bloom of sweet sixteen, caught Henry Keys at the first glance, and was herself caught with a few months’ wooing. Mr. Kennedy came from Roseville to marry them. But a good beginning had a bad ending. Scarcely was the minister gone when Butler Amos, the hired man, quarreled with John Wilson about making a fire. This led to more, until a few nights afterwards Billy McDonald, provoked that guests should be insulted in his house, sent Amos out, heels foremost, and his traps after him. This led to a law suit which cost a hundred dollars. At the trial William Cooper was so badgered by Amos that he struck him. The blow cost Mr. Cooper his team. It was on this farm that Tommy Moore built his cabin, and had the delirium tremens so bad that to escape the hobgoblins he took his life. James Downs, on his death- bed, received some money. Fancying he heard robbers, he leaped out of bed and fell on the floor, which hastened his death. People laughed at his fears; but that very money drew the robbers, who murdered his sister (Mrs. Betty McDonald) in that very house. Her husband’s end was still more horrible, when he cut his throat a few years before."

Rev. Boyd McCullough, from whose sketches nearly all the incidents connected with the early settlement of the Beechwoods have been culled, was the first minister raised in Washington township. In 1843 he walked, with his books and extra clothing on his back, to study with Rev. James Milligan, at New Alexandria, Westmoreland county, a distance of seventy- three miles. For two years he studied under this private tutor, going home twice a year, and many a time his feet were sore; but the love of knowledge prevailed above all personal discomfort. When at home he delved among his books without any teacher. Once while laboring at a Greek verb, he became completely discouraged, and throwing down his books, went out to dig a ground hog out of a hole. He missed the ground hog but caught the verb, for while throwing up the fresh earth the whole conjugation came to his memory. Another time he labored for an hour over a sentence in Longinus, when he was called out to assist in penning up a flock of sheep. While the animals were defiling through the gate, the author’s idea struck his mind. He went back to the Greek text, and found that the idea corresponded with the connection. He was nearly as much delighted as Adam Clarke when he found the half guinea which bought his Hebrew grammar. To John J. Patterson and John H. Grove, two other Beechwoods boys, is due as much credit for pursuing knowledge and gaining an education under similar difficulties.

Boyd McCullough was licensed to preach in 1852, and accepted a commission as colporter from the American tract society, and canvassed Forest county, where he organized a temperance society under the old Washingtonian banner. He was afterwards ordained in Novi, Mich., where he labored twenty years; then preached ten years at Pepin, Wis. In 1886 he returned to the Beechwoods, and now resides among the scenes of his boyhood. Between the time of his two pastorates, he visited England, Scotland and Ireland, where he lectured in every town in Ulster except two, and where he collected all the traditions concerning St. Patrick. A small book of poetry, called the "Shamrock" was the result of his Irish travels. In this volume is also embodied "Beech Leaves, or Life in the Backwoods," which gives his early recollections of the Beechwoods.

The first wife of Mr. McCullough was a daughter of Rev. Dr. Johnston, of St. Clairsville, Ohio, who was a descendant of Archibald Johnston, earl of Warriston, Scotland. Dr. Johnston’s grandfather and granduncle once took the notorious Simon Girty prisoner. Had they shot him he would have gone to his reward with fewer crimes on his head.

The present Mrs. McCullough is a native of Blairsville, and a grandniece of the old pioneer minister, Rev. John Jamison, from whom the Thompsons and McKnights, of Brookville, are also descended.

Early Improvements and Incidents. -  The first one to make any improvements in the Beechwoods, was Alexander Osburn. He also built the first grist- mill on Falls Creek. The first saw- mill was built by Dillas Allen, at Rockdale, about the year 1841. The first store was started on G.W. Brown’s farm, about 1840, by William Acklin. The first school- house was built in 1832, at Waites. The first church was built on the farm of Henry Keys, about 1840.

The first person born in Washington was William McGhee, born in 1825, and the second, Ninian Cooper. The first marriage was that of Henry Keys and Catharine Wilson in 1826, and the first death was that of Mrs. Mary Hunter, wife of John Hunter, who died in 1830. She was buried on the Hunter farm. The first grave- yard was started in 1831, on Cooper’s Hill, and Mrs. Eleanor Smith, wife of James Smith, and mother of Andrew Smith, was the first person buried there.

Present Business. -  The only large saw- mill in Washington township is that of Osburn & Shaffer, on Falls Creek, but there are a number of portable mills in different localities. The only grist- mill is also on Falls Creek, and is the property of Wilson & Notter.

The stores in the township are those of Charles D. Evans, Rockdale, H.P. Brown, Beechtree, and Thomas Craven, and the Company Store at Coal Glen. The only hotel is that operated at Beechtree by the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal and Iron Company. This is the first hotel that has ever been in the township, and was started in 1883. There are twelve school- houses in Washington, and five churches, with two cemeteries -  the Cooper grave- yard and Beechtree cemetery.

Farms. -  The sturdy Irish pioneers have handed down to their sons some fine farms in Washington, among the best of which are those of James Davenport, Robert Dougherty, James Dennison, S.J. Dean, James R. and Thomas Groves, George Horam, S.N. Morrison, William Morrison, James and J.J. McCurdy, Charles Mathews, Jr., David McGeary, John Osburn estate, James Ross, George Senior, Andrew H. Smith, William and M. Logan, William Stevenson, James S. Smith, William and John Shaw, and Robert A. Smith.

Considerable attention is paid to the growing of the best varieties of fruit, such as are found in the other townships, fine apples being a specialty.

Elections. -  The first election was held in Washington township in 1837, and resulted in the election of the following persons:

Constable, John McGhee; supervisors, John McIntosh, Tilton Reynolds; auditors, Andrew Smith, Oliver McClelland, William Reynolds, Joshua Rea; school directors, Oliver McClelland, Andrew Smith, James McConnell, William Reynolds, John Fuller, John Horm; fence appraisers, James Smith, Oliver Welch; overseers, Henry Keys, Tilton Reynolds; town clerk, John Wilson.

At the election held February 15, 1887, the following persons were elected: Judge of election, Archie McCullough; assessor, James E. Smith; auditor, R.A. Smith; constable, McCurdy Hunter; tax collector, M.L. Smith; poor overseer, James S. Dougherty; inspectors, D.B. McConnell, Charles Mathews; supervisors, James Davenport, George Brenholtz; justice of the peace, Thomas Craven; school directors, S.J. Smith, F.B. Harvey. The justices of the peace, are A.T. Strang and Thomas Craven; the other members of the school board, R.C. Osburn, Ezekiel Sterritt, J.M. Smith, William Patterson. By a decree of court, June 2, 1887, Washington township was divided into two election districts, to be known as Upper Washington, which holds its election at Beechtree, and Lower Washington, at Rockdale.

Taxables and Population. -  The taxables in Washington township in 1842 were 112; in 1849, 149; in 1856, 215; in 1863, 249; in 1870, 273; in 1880, 342; 1886, 577.

The population by census of 1840, 367; 1850, 646; 1860, 1,079; 1870; 1,124; 1880, 1,282.

Assessments and Valuations of Property. -  According to the triennial assessment of 1886 the number of acres seated were 18,694; valuation, $74,285 ; average value, per acre, $4.97; houses and lots, 89; valuation, $5,180; grist and saw- mills, six; valuation, $2,200; number of acres unseated, 5,037; valuation, $15,199; average value per acre, $3; number of acres surface, 4,894; valuation, $14,591; average value per acre, $2.97; number of acres mineral, 6,786; valuation, $24,096; average valuation, $3.55; number of horses, 404; valuation, $9,051; average value, $22.40; number of cows, 447; valuation, $3,558; average value, $7.96; 6 oxen, valuation, $140; occupations, 272; valuation, $12,677; average value, $46.60; total valuation subject to county tax, $160,977; money at interest, $52,326.

School Statistics. -  Number of schools in Washington township reported for the year ending June 7, 1886, 11; length of term, 6 months; 4 male and 7 female teachers; average salary for male teachers, $33; for females, $24; number of male scholars, 274; females, 214; average number attending school, 308; average per cent. 74; cost per month, 75 cents; number of mills levied for school purposes, 10; for building purposes, 10; total amount of tax levied for school and building purposes, $2,938.97.

Source:  Page(s) 564-576, 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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