Chapter LI
History of Beaver Township 

Beaver, the twentieth township, was organized in 1850, being formed from portions of Clover and Ringgold. It was named for the principal stream within its bounds, Beaver Run, which traverses the township from east to west, entering Red Bank at Heathville.

This township has Clover township on the north and Rose and Oliver on the east while on the west is Clarion county, and Ringgold forms the southern boundary, being separated from the latter by Little Sandy while Red Bank flows along its western boundary. These two streams then unite just beyond the Jefferson county border. The central part of the township and the eastern part consists of high land much diversified by small ravines, but containing summits which range from 400 to 450 feet above Red Bank Creek.

Geology. - The principal coal found in Beaver is the Brookville seam, which is the only workable one. Its average thickness is four and a half feet though it has been opened at Hetrick’s where it was found to be seven feet thick. The Freeport, Kittanning and Clarion coals are of no account in Beaver township.

The Freeport upper, limestone is one of the conspicuous features of the geology of Beaver. It tops all of the highest knobs, and is found at D. Buck’s and at E. Jones’s, near Worthville, not less than fifteen feet thick.

The ferriferous limestones found on the Boyer, Updegraff, Brocius and Lang farms, also on the farms of Daniel Reitz and C. Brocius, at all of which places it has been worked. It is generally about five feet thick, richly fossiliferous and in good condition for quarry lime.

Buhrstone iron ore is also found at several localities in the township, but has not been investigated.

Early Settlement and Improvements. - Hulett Smith and his wife were probably the first settlers in Beaver township, to which they came from Connecticut in 1816. They were thirty- five days making the journey and when they came, Brookville as well as nearly all portions of the county, was a dense wilderness. Mrs. Eunice Smith died at her home three miles south of Troy, where she had lived fifty- three years, June 6, 1869; she was in the seventy-sixth year of her age. Mr. Smith removed to Brookville, during the later years of his life where he died in 1879, aged ninety years; he was a soldier of the War of 1812.

Then in the year 1834 a number of families came from Dauphin county, among whom were those of J. and S. Philliber, Jonas Sowers, Ludwick Bierly, William McAninoh, Mr. Mentear, Henry and Conrad Nulf, Solomon Gearhart, George Reitz, Michael Hetrick. The Holt family came about 1837.

The only ones of those early settlers now living are four sons of William McAninch and two of Jonas Sowers’s.

Henry Nolf and Hance Robinson made the first improvements and cleared the first land. The descendants of these early pioneers yet reside in the township and are among its best and most enterprising citizens.

The first school house was built about the year 1837 on the Mentear farm or at William Furguson’s, and the first church on the Philiber farm, about the same time. The first grave- yard was located on the Holt farm and the father and mother of J. and S. Philiber were the first persons buried there. Hance Robinson built the first grist- mill at Heathville, and he or his brother William started the first store. Henry Nolf built the first saw- mill at Heathville; the second was built by Hance Robinson and the next by Conrad Nolf. Aaron Fuller built a saw- mill in 1830 at the mouth of Beaver Run.

In 1835 James McKennan and Thomas White, of Indiana, under the firm name of McKennan & White engaged in lumbering at what is now Langville. They also established a store at that place with Adam Bausman as clerk. James Maize, father of James H. Maize, cashier of the First National bank of Punxsutawney was the general manager for McKennan & White while they done business in Jefferson county, a period of about three years. Mr. Maize removed to Armstrong county and has been dead for a number of years.

Samuel Lerch was born in Lebanon county in 1800 and in 1836 removed to Jefferson county, locating in what is now Beaver township, where he purchased eighty-seven acres of land with a one and a half story shanty 24 x 24 upon it and having about five acres cleared. His children were all young, three of them being unable to walk. The family set to work to make a home in this place, and for a time were obliged to exercise the utmost economy. They made their own clothes, even to the buttons and for years their own fields and garden furnished all their food. Instead of Rio their coffee was rye and for the invigorating herb from China they substituted the native herbs.

Mr. Lerch was a good carpenter and cabinet maker, and in the small cabin which had one room below and a loft above he placed his work- bench in one corner. Above was set the tread- lathe and the children would tread this lathe while their father would turn out in a day four bed- posts, four feet long and four inches square.

In 1854 Mr. Lerch engaged in store- keeping at New Salem, in Armstrong county, and in 1859 removed to Ringgold, where he engaged in merchandising until his death, which occurred in 1862. His wife, née Rebecca Bultz, died in 1844. Mr. Lerch was the father of nineteen children.

Jacob Reitz, with his family, came to Jefferson county in 1842 from Northumberland county, the journey being made in wagons. He purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land in what is now Beaver township. This land was partly cleared, but in very poor condition. Having but little money, and being in debt for part of his farm, and only two of his children, Manuel W. and Edward, aged respectively eleven and thirteen, being able to render him any assistance; but as the others became large enough, they, too, put their shoulders to the wheel that moved the home machinery, and in a little over ten years the farm was cleared from debt, besides being in a good state of cultivation. Jacob Reitz lived to enjoy the prosperity that the toil of himself and family had secured until 1877, when he died in the seventy- fourth year of his age. He was the father of ten children - seven sons and three daughters. They have all borne prominent parts in the history of Beaver township. M.W. and Edward have filled the different offices of trust in the township. The former while serving as constable was appointed deputy- sheriff by Sheriff P.H. Shannon, and in 1863 was elected to that office, his brother, Edward, serving as deputy. Since 1866 four of the brothers - Manuel W., Edward, Aaron, and Benjamin W. - formed a copartnership and purchased the James Hill property at Belleview, where they have since been engaged in merchandizing, lumbering, and farming. Aaron and Jonathan reside in Beaver township, as does Mrs. Samuel Thomas, one of the sisters. Mrs. Sarah Lankert, the remaining member of the family, lives in Mississippi.

Thomas Holt, another of the early settlers of Beaver township, was born in Cumberland county, in 1793, and served in the War of 1812. He was married in Cumberland county to Sarah Pilgrim, and in 1838 removed to Jefferson county, locating in what is now Beaver township. Mr. Holt was a carpenter and pump- maker by trade, but on his arrival located on a farm about seven miles from Brookville, where he followed farming until his death, in 1871.

Thomas R. Holt, their son, was raised on a farm, but learned the blacksmithing trade, being an apprentice of the late Arad Pearsall, of Brookville, and of Jacob Lehman, of Rose township. He erected a shop on the home farm, and worked at his trade for seven years, when he purchased the John Philliber farm, and has since that time devoted his attention to farming and lumbering. He is largely engaged in stock- raising, Durham cattle being his speciality, owning some fine registered and graded animals.

Present Business. - There are four post- offices in the township - Heathville, Patton’s Station, Pansy, and Ohl - and two stores, that of Shaffer & Reitz, at Pansy, E.M. Ohl, at Pleasantville, and C.L. Guthrie, at Heathville. The blacksmiths in Beaver are: Jonathan Homer and George Myers, at Heathville, and Jonathan Buzzard, at Pansy. The large woolen factory of John Lang, erected about 1851 or 1852, at Langville, is the only manufactory in the township. The only grist

- mill is that of Nicholas McQuiston, also located at Langville, on Little Sandy. There are no hotels in the township. There are seven school- houses and six churches in the township, with a cemetery at each church.

Farms. - Beaver township is mainly settled by hardy, honest Germans, who have made farming their business, and who have made this locality one of the best farming regions in the county. It is especially adapted to stock- raising. Among the best farms, with the best improvements are those of Elias Jones, Solomon Shaffer, Sr., Solomon Shaffer, Jr., Mrs. Lydia Thomas, Solomon Glantz, David Benjamin, Michael and Jacob Brocius, Jonas Sowers, and the farm owned by the Isaac Mottern estate. All the fruits that can be grown in the county are raised in profusion, and of the best known varieties.

Elections. - The first election was held in Beaver township, in 1850, and resulted in the following persons being elected:

Justice of the peace, Charles Jacox, Absolam Smith; constable, David L. Moore; supervisors, John Imhoof, Michael Brocius; auditors, Lewis McAninch, David Fayrweather, George Gumbert; school directors, Henry McAninch, Peter Motter, Michael Brocius, David Himes, Absolam Smith, Charles Jacox; judge of election, David Edmonds; inspectors, James B. Wayland, George Gumbert; poor master, John Hastings, David Smith, David Fayrweather.

At the election held February 15, 1887, the following persons were elected Constable, J.B. Sowers; collector, Joseph Spare; supervisors, David Plyler, Baltzer Raybuck; school directors, Jonas Sowers, Jr., Jonathan Homer; auditor, David Brosius; poor overseer, Walker Smith; assessor, Josiah Fenstamaker; judge of election, David Sowers and Walter Bracken, tie vote; inspectors, Israel Keck and Samuel Ressler.

The justices of the peace for Beaver township are Daniel Reitz, and Michael J. Brosius, and the previously elected members of the school board are John Updegraff, Wallace Morrison, F.P. Hetrick, and Josiah Fenstamaker.

Statistics of Population, Assessment, and Schools. - The number of taxables in Beaver township in 1856 were 158; in 1863, 166; in 1870, 201; in 1880, 274; in 1886, 294.

The population, according to the census of 1850, 662; 1860 was 874; 1870, 1,094; 1880, 1,113.

The triennial assessment of Beaver for 1886 is as follows: Number of acres of seated land, 11,581; valuation, $47,244; average per acre, $4.08. Houses and lots, 3; valuation, $100. Number of acres unseated, 1,091; valuation, $175. Number of horses, 144; valuation, $2,563; average value, $17.78. Number of cows, 247; valuation, $2,328; average value, $8.40. Number of occupations, 85; valuation, $1,552; average, $18.20. Total valuation subject to county tax, $55,695. Money at interest, $19,181.

The number of schools in Beaver township for the, year ending June 7, 1886, were 7; number of months taught, 5; male teachers, 2; female teachers, 5; average salary of teachers, $25.00; number of male scholars, 158 ; females, 134; average attendance, 226; per cent of attendance, 87; cost per scholar, 62 cents; 13 mills levied for school, and 3 for building purposes; total amount of tax levied for school and building purposes, $1,079.57.

Source:  Page(s) 644-647, History of Jefferson County by Kate M. Scott. Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., 1888.

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