Chapter XLIX
History of Ringgold Township 

Ringgold, the eigthteenth township, was organized in 1848, being taken from Porter township. It was named in honor of Major Ringgold, a gallant officer of the United States army, who was killed at the battle of Palo Alto, in 1846. The township is bounded on the north by Beaver township, on the east by Rose and Oliver, on the south by Porter, and on the west by Armstrong county.

Topography and Drainage. - Little Sandy Creek flows along its northern edge, and Pine Run along, its southern edge. Both streams occupy deep and wide valleys. The centre of the township is high, but much broken by small, lateral ravines, one set of which trends north towards the Little Sandy, and the other south, to Pine Run. Along the beds of the main valleys, the elevation above tide- water ranges from twelve hundred and fifty to thirteen hundred and fifty feet; on the uplands the summits occasionally attain an altitude of sixteen hundred feet above the ocean.

Geology. - There is coal found in nearly all parts of Ringgold township, the only important beds being the Freeport Upper, and the Kittanning Lower coal. These beds are from three to four feet thick, of good coal, but have been but little investigated, as there is no demand except for local supply. Limestone of good quality is plentifully found. Mr. W.G. Platt thus describes it: "The ferriferous limestone is below water level, at A. Enty’s, at which place it is well exposed, being quarried for fertilizing purposes. The stratum is about four feet thick, in one compact layer of light grayish color, brittle, of good quality, and fossiliferous, displaying in this respect its characteristic encrinite stems."

The Early Settlers. - The first settlers in what is now Ringgold township, were Andrew Shaffer, David Milliron and Vanlear, who settled there in 1818. They came from Northumberland and Westmoreland counties, They cleared the first land, and made the first improvements. A number of their descendants yet reside in the township.

Daniel Geist, who is the oldest citizen of Worthville, came to Jefferson county in 1834. He was born in Upper Mahanoy township, Northumberland county, June 17, 1809, and when sixteen years of age learned the millwright trade, at which he worked for several years in his native county, and then came the great cry of "Westward Ho!" and Mr. Geist became engulfed in the tide of emigration that was flowing westward, principally to Illinois, and started on a packet boat on the canal, intending to take the cars at Hollidaysburg, but when he reached that place he found that a train had been wrecked on the Portage Railroad, and several persons killed, so he decided not to go west, but instead came to Jefferson county, having had some knowledge of the "Pine woods country." He purchased two hill- sites, one at New Maysville, in what is now Clarion county, and one where Worthville now is, with a large tract of land in the same vicinity. He spent about a month travelling over all the region of country embraced now in Jefferson and Clarion counties, and then returned to his home in Northumberland county, taking the stage where Strattonville now is, on the Susquehanna and Waterford turnpike, and introduced the people of the eastern part of the State to Jefferson county. Mr. Geist returned the next spring and erected a grist- mill at Maysville, and through the influence of his recommendation, within three years time, Ringgold and Porter townships were largely settled by people from the eastern counties, who had not means to take them farther West.

Among those who were thus induced to come to Jefferson county was John Martz, who purchased a large tract of land near the village of Ringgold, all of which he still owns. Mr. Geist furnished him his flour until he had cleared a portion of land and was able to raise his own grain. Mr. Martz is still living, and is the oldest citizen of the township, being eighty- nine years of age, and is still a healthy, active man. Among others who came to Ringgold with barely means to bring them there, but who now own good farms, and are in easy circumstances, are, Jacob Wagner, John Kiehl, Levi Mottern, Jesse Geist and Samuel Geist.

The county was full of wild game, especially wolves, bears, and deer, which naturally attracted hunters, and Mr. Geist relates the following incidents: "Among other hunters who came into the region were Henry Nolf, from Clarion county, where New Bethlehem now stands, and Lewis Doverspike. They were hunting in the northern part of Ringgold township, and wounded a bear which attacked Mr. Nolf, and would have killed him had not his cries brought Doverspike to his assistance. The latter found that the bear had Nolf down, and was tearing away at him in a terrible manner with teeth and claws. He tried to shoot the animal, but his gun missed fire, and he then punched the bear in the ribs with his gun, causing it to leave Nolf and take after him. It chased Doverspike around a tree several times before he succeeded in getting a shot at it. After killing the bear he went to Nolf’s assistance, and found him so badly wounded that he begged Doverspike to kill him and put him out of his misery. This,, of course, Doverspike refused to do, but being a remarkably strong man, he picked Nolf up and carried him three miles to a house, from where he was removed to his home, and finally recovered from his wounds. Several years after he was again hunting in the southern part of the township, where he and his son George had erected a small shanty to stay in at night. One evening Mr. Nolf went to cut down a tree for firewood, and the tree splitting at the butt, snapped off; falling upon and killing him instantly. When his son discovered what had befallen his father, he had to go some three miles before he could get help and a team to take the body home. They then had to summon men from the Dutch Settlement, near Redbank Creek, to hold an inquest: and a party started with a jug of whisky, and the same night held an inquest, and then started for Milliron’s, the nearest neighbor’s house; but on the road they lost the body, it having rolled out of the sled into the snow. When they discovered the loss, one of the party remarked that he expected he (Nolf) was on a deer’s track. They found him, however, by the side of the road, and took him home.

"Another man by the name of Hettrick, followed trapping and hunting. One morning his wife went to look after the traps, and found a wolf in one of them. Not having a gun, she tied a butcher- knife to a stick and run the knife repeatedly into the animal’s side until she killed it."

The first year that Daniel Geist lived in Ringgold, he killed nine deer and one large bear, but he soon found that hunting was not a paying business, and quit it. Mr. Geist though in his seventy- eighth year, is a hale, hearty man, able to attend to his business. He resides at Worthville, where he still owns a half interest in the property he bought over fifty years ago, and where in comfort, he is able to quietly enjoy the evening of his days.

Early Business and Improvements. - The first grist- mills in the township were built by Daniel Geist, at what is now Worthville, and .by Henry Freas, near the present village of Ringgold, in 1840. The first saw- mills were built by Isaac Cherry, on Cherry Run, in 1844, and by John and William Postlethwait, at Geistown. The first church was built at David Hauses, and the first school- house at Valentine Shick’s, near Ringgold, in 1836. The first store was started by Shannon & McFarland, about the year 1843, on the Shrauger farm.

Robert McFarland kept the first hotel in 1845, in the village of Ringgold.

In 1847, Moses Weaver had a wool- carding mill on Cherry Run, and at an early day the powder- mill of Henry Milliron, was also located on that stream. The first coal was discovered in the Enty bank, in 1837.

The first graveyards were located on the Milliron farm, near North Freedom, and at St. John’s Church. William Boyer, who was drowned at Worthville, was the first person buried at the latter place.

There is a tradition that at a very early day some settlers were killed by Indians, on what is now the Powell farm, near the village of Ringgold.

Farming Interests. - Ringgold township has many fine farms, under good cultivation. It is one of the best wheat producing districts in the county, and is equally good for rye, corn and oats, while much attention is paid to the raising of fruit, and apples, peaches, pears, plums, cherries, and the smaller fruits are grown on all the well improved farms. The best cultivated farms in the township are those of John Wise, Samuel Micheas, John Smathers and Jacob Wagner. Thoroughbred grades of horses, cattle and sheep are raised by William Stahiman, Isaac Bartoff, Samuel Geist and Filmore Smathers. There is no lumber trade in the township, but the coal, as before noted, is good. There are two churches and seven school- houses. There are two post- offices in Ring-gold besides Worthville, New Petersburg and Ringgold.

Elections. - At an election held in the township of Ringgold, on the 25th day of February, 1850, the following persons appear to be elected: Justice of the peace, R.M. McFarland, had 72 votes, A. M. Smith, 56; constable, Peter Seiler, 68; supervisors, Amos Weaver, 69, Adam Hane, 69; assessor, Peter Seiler, 23; auditors, William Furgeson, 1 year, 5, F. Shrauger, 2 years, 5, P.H. Shannon, 3 years, 5; overseer of the poor, John C. Ferguson, 1; school directors, William Ferguson, Jr., 21, D.D. Boyington, 21, R.M. McFarland, 21; judge of election, Philip Milliron, 16; inspectors of election, Daniel Geist, 11, Amos Weaver, 4.

At the election held February 15, 1887, the following persons were elected: Constable, A.B. Howard; collector, A.B. Howard; supervisors, Jacob Stahlman, Eli Hendrix; poor overseer, William Young; school directors, Jacob Stahlman, Isaac Bottorf; auditor, Reuben Wonderling; assessor, Charles Snyder; judge of election, Samuel Shilling; inspectors, William Hause, David Graham. The justices of the peace are, W.D. Reitz and E.A. Holben. The other members of the school board are Elias Dinger, John Hunger, E.A. Holben and Philip Smathers.

Taxables and Population. - The number of taxables in Ringgold township in 1849, were 132; in 1856, 156; in 1863, 172; in 1870, 221; in 1880, 236; in 1886, 265. The population according to the census of 1850, was 665; 1860, 909; 1870, 1,106; 1880, 1,078.

Assessments and Valuation of Property. - The number of acres of seated land in Ringgold, in 1886, were 11,651; valuation, $54,410; average value- per acre, $4.67; number of houses and lots, 51; valuation, $4,904; one mill, valuation $100; number of acres of unseated land, 130; valuation, $748; average value per acre, $5.75; number of horses, 196; valuation, $5,440; average value, $22 40; number of cows, 300; valuation, $2,369; average value, $7.87; number of occupations, 60; valuation, $1,070; average, $17.83. Total valuation subject to county tax, $69,041. Money at interest, $17,061.

School Statistics. - The number of schools in Ringgold township for the year ending June 7, 1886, were 7; length of term, 5 months; number of male teachers, 4; female teachers, 2; average salary, $25; number of male scholars, 201; female, 157; average attendance, 238; per cent of attendance, 78; cost per scholar, 51 cents; mills levied for school purposes, 10. Total amount levied for school purposes, $977.34.


The village of Worthville was laid out by Daniel Geist, and was for a long time known as Geistown, until 1854, when it took its name of Worthville, from the post- office established there. April 1, 1878, it was incorporated as a borough, the only one in the township. In 1858, Worthville contained about eighty citizens, one store, one grist- mill, two saw- mills, one blacksmith and one carpenter shop. There were in 1887 the saw- mill of Jacob Wagner, with a daily capacity of two thousand feet, the large grist- mill of Daniel and Samuel Geist. The hotels are kept by Elias Geist and Alvin Startzell. There are two general stores kept by H.K. Carrier & Son, and Wagner & Smith, and the shops of Elias Buzzard, Martin Reymer, Amos Caylor and Robert Richards.

There is a cemetery in Worthville, the first person interred there, being Andrew Falk, who was drowned in a tan- vat at Worthville.

Elections. - The first election held in Worthville after it was incorporated as a borough was April 30, 1878, when the following were elected: Justice of the peace, S.M. Bleakney; burgess, D. Geist; town council, M.R. Putney, S.M. Geist, E.H. Geist, S.M. Bleakney, J. Wagner, Elias Buzzard; constable, W.S. Kiehl; high constable, James Richards, auditors, W.A. Putney, W.H. Smith, R.G. Dinger; overseers, W.H. Smith, W.B. King, S.M. Geist, E.H. Geist; assessor, W.S. Kiehl; school directors, D.W. Smith, J.G. Geist, A. Holben, Joseph Simons, J. Wagner, S.M. Geist; judge of election, T.L. Hall; inspectors, D.W. Smith, Jacob Wagner.

At the election held February 15, 1887, the following were elected: Burgess, A.C. Richards; constable, Elias Buzzard; high constable, Elias Kiehl; tax collector, Elias Buzzard; assessor, E.H. Geist; town council, S.M. Geist, Amos Caylor; auditor, James G. Resslar; school directors, W.S. Smathers, D.W. Smith; poor overseers, S.M. Geist, Jacob Wagner; judge of election, S.M. Geist; inspectors, Amos peace of Worthville, are Thomas L. Hall and George B. Shannon, and the other members of the school board are Amos Caylor, Amos Holben, T.L. Hall and Amos Geist.

Taxables and Population. - The number of taxables in Worthville, in 1880, were 46; in 1886, 55. The population in 1880, was 174.

Assessment and Valuation of Property. - The triennial assessment for 1886, gives the number of acres of unseated land in Worthville, as 376; valuation, $2,800; average per acre, $7.70; number of houses and lots, 52; valuation, $4,522; one grist- mill, valuation, $400; number of horses, 15; valuation, $305; average value, $20; number of cows, 31; valuation, $375; average, $12.23; occupations, 27; valuation, $553; average, $18.15. Total valuation subject to county tax, $8,937. Money at interest, $28,524.

School Statistics. - The number of schools in Worthville, for the year ending June 7, 1886, were 1; length of term, 5 months; number of male teachers, 1; salary of teacher, $30; number of male scholars, 33; females, 28; average attendance, 52; per cent of attendance, 93; cost per month, 57; eight mills were levied for school purposes. Total amount of tax levied, $111.13.


Ringgold is the other village in the township. Its first post- office was established in 1847. It is situated in the midst of a fine farming country. The Eagle Hotel, is kept by W.D. Geist, whose daughter, Susanna, is post- mistress. There are three general stores kept by R. Wonderling, E.A. Holben and W. Donnis. The store of John A. Geist, is situated on Pine Run. There is also a tannery owned and operated by Solomon Falk, near Ringgold, and the sawmill of Isaac Brocius, on Pine Run, and the grist- mill of Elias Buck, near Ringgold. There is a cemetery located at Ringgold.

Among those prominently identified with the early history of the village of Ringgold, was P.H. and M.H. Shannon, who were for a number of years engaged in merchandising there. The former was twice appointed postmaster at Ringgold. In 1860 he was elected sheriff of Jefferson county, and removed to Brookville, where he resided until his death, in 1883. Martin H. Shannon is a resident of Brookville; Daniel Shannon, their father, settled in Armstrong county, in 1823, from where he removed to Beaver township, in 1848, and resided there until 1861, when he went to reside with his son, Philip H. Shannon, at Brookville, where he died in the ninety- first year of his age. Mr. Shannon was a soldier of the War of 1812.

Source:  Page(s) 630-635,  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 (

Jefferson County Genealogy Project Notice:

These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format, for any presentation, without prior written permission.

Return to the History of Jefferson County Index

Return to the Jefferson County Genealogy Project

(c) Jefferson County Genealogy Project