Eldred Township History

Chapter XXIX
Eldred Township

Organization - Population - Pioneer Settlers - First Election and Officers - Taxables in 1837 - Present township Officials - Industries, Past and Present - Sigel and Howe - The Grahams - Jacob Beers

Eldred township, named for Nathaniel B. Eldred, president judge, was organized in 1836, and was taken from Rose and Barnett. Eldred township was bounded on the north by Barnett township, on the east by Ridgway township, on the south by Rose township, and the west by the Armstrong county line.


1840, 395; 1850, 492; 1860, 826; 1870, 832; 1880, 1271; 1890, 1581; 1900, 1,535; 1910, 1399.


The pioneer settler in Eldred was Isaac Matson, in 1828. In 1829 came Walter Templeton, James Linn and Robert McCreight; in 1830, Elijah M. Graham (see sketch farther on in chapter) and John McLaughlin; in 1831, David English and Jacob Craft; in 1832, Paul Stewart, James Templeton and James Trimble; in 1833, Stewart Ross, John Wilson and Thomas Hall; in 1834, William and George Catz and James Summerville; in 1836, Frederick Kahle; in 1842, Prof. S.W. Smith. Mr. Smith was a highly educated man, and served the county as teacher, professor in the academy and county superintendent of schools.

The first settler, of whom we find any mention, in the northern part of Eldred township was Frederick Kahle, who settled there in 1836. Mr. Kahle first came to Clarion county, here he hired a hunter named Tommy Guthrie to go with him into the wilds of northern Jefferson, where he designed locating. After reaching their destination and looking about for a suitable place for Mr. Kahle to make his future home, night overtook them and they were obliged to camp out in the woods. During the night they were attacked by wolves, guns and fire drove them away. Frederick Kahle was the first veterinary surgeon that I recollect in the county.

Joseph Matson, Esq., lived in Eldred township, and in the early days he built an outside high brick chimney. He employed a pioneer stonemason by the name Jacob Penrose to do the job. Penrose was a very rough mason, but had a high opinion of his own skill, and was quite confiding and bombastic in his way. After he finished the chimney, and before removing the scaffold, he came down to the ground to blow off a little steam about his work. Placing his arms around Matson's neck, he exclaimed, pointing to the chimney, "There, Matson, is a chimney that will last your lifetime, and your children and your children's children." "Look out!" said Matson. "God, she's a coming!" True enough, the chimney fell, a complete wreck.


The first election for township officers was held in 1836. The following persons were e1ected: Constable, Elijah M. Graham; supervisors, Thomas Barr and Thomas Anthony; school directors, George Catz, Henry Boil, Thomas Hughes, Thomas Hall, Jacob Craft, John Maize; poor overseers, Thomas Callen and Michael Long; town clerk, Jacob Craft. The pioneer polling place was at the home of James Linn, now the farm of Timothy Caldwell.

John Wilson was assessor for the township 1837.


Thomas Arthurs, George Armstrong, William Anderson, Henry Boyles, David Barr, Thomas Barr, Samuel Barr, Abraham Bickler, Smith Benedict, Richard Burns, William Booth, Jacob Beers Thomas Callen. Jacob Craft, Moses H. Carly, Peter Coonsman, John D. Kahle, Geroge Catz, Henry Clark, Job Carly, William Douglass (colored), Daniel Elgin, Alexander Fredericks, Elijah M. Graham, Joseph Graham, Elias Gearhart, Dolly George, Isaiah Guthrie, William Gordon, Israel Hughes, Thomas Hughes, Thomas Hall, William Hopper, Malachi Hopper (single man), William M. Hindman, William Hughes, Richard Hague, Richard Hague, Jr., William and John Hutchison, William B. Kennedy, Frederick Kahle, William Kennedy, David Aikens, James Cochran, David McKee, John W. Monks, Isaac Matson, Sr. (mill seat), James McManigle, James McNeal, John McCracken, David Miller, Robert McFarland, Stewart Ross, Jacob Riddleburger, Christian Ruffner, George Royer, Andrew Steel, James Stewart, Jr., Paul Stewart, Alexander Scott, Hiram Sampson, John Summerville, David Silvis, Jacob Trautman, James L. Thompson, James Templeton, Michael Traper, George Wilson, Jr. (single man), Robert Wilson, John Wilson, Jr., William Wallace, John Wilson, Esq., George Walford, Abram Yokey, Christy Yokey.


O.A. McKenley and A.U. Stahlman were elected school directors, W.A. Pierce supervisor, and Theodore C. Jackson constable, on Nov. 2, 1915


The first sawmill in the township was built by John Burns, the pioneer hotel by Andrew Shawl, and John D. Kahle had the pioneer store in 1860.

The pioneer schoohouse was built at Hall's in 1839, on what is now the celebrated "Broad Acres" farm, owned and conducted by Dr Ralph B. Reitz.

Eldred has lately developed into a great gas-producing territory, with some moderately valuable oil wells.
In 1890 William McAdoo, a farmer of Eldred, published a treatise of forty-eight pages on "On Duty to God and Man." His theme was clean air, clean food and clean drink.


The only hamlet in the township is Sigel, formerly called Lumberville, then Haggerty. It was laid out by Judah P. Haggerty about 1850. The pioneer hotel in Haggerty was conducted in 1854 by Judah P. Haggerty. The edifice was built of round logs. He also had the pioneer licensed hotel in Haggerty in 1857. In 1880 the population of the place was on hundred and fifteen, with two stores and two hotels, kept by J.J. Henderson and T. Jones (there was then no licensed house in the township), and the blacksmith shops of Jerry Tapper, Henry Mathews and J.G. Gumbert. There is a postoffice at Sigel.

Howe was the only other postoffice in the township, but has been discontinued.

The township has four or five churches and three cemeteries. The pioneer graveyard was made at Mount Tabor.


Elijah M. Graham was born in Dauphin county, Pa., Oct. 19, 1772. His father, John Graham, served five years in the Continental army. Elijah M. Graham was one of the original explorers of what is now Jefferson county. He explored this region in 1794 under Deputy Surveyor John Broadhead, who in that year surveyed the district line which now forms the western boundary of Brookville borough. Broadhead and his party of nine men were in this wilderness surveying from May until the middle of October, 1794. The party consisted of Deputy Surveyor Broadhead, two chain carriers (Elijah M. Graham and Elish Graham, brothers), two ax men (unknown), one cook (unknown), one driver with two horses (unknown), and two other men (unknown), one of whom was a hunter. They crossed streams on log floats, encamped in log huts, and carried their outfit and their provision on packhorses from what is now Franklin, Pa., and from some point then in Westmoreland county. Graham was six months on this survey without seeing a paleface other than those that comprised the party.

In 1797, Elijah M. Graham located on French creek, now in Crawford county, Pa., where he resided with his father until 1804, when he returned to this wilderness and worked on Joseph Barnett's mill for three years, when and where he married Miss Sarah Ann Barnett and located on the State road near (and afterwards in) what is now Eldred township. He was the first court crier, and served in various township offices. In 1804 there were but seven or eight families here, viz., the Barnetts, Longs, Joneses, Vasbinders and Dixons, and one colored family. Mr. Graham reared a family of ten children and died in 1854, aged eighty-two years.

John Graham, Elijah M. Graham's father, moved to Jefferson county from Crawford county about 1812, locating about three miles northeast of Brookville, where he died in 1813, and this Revolutionary soldier was buried in the first graveyard, now in East Brookville, on land owned and occupied by W.C. Evans.

On Jan. 21, 1893, Squire Graham and his wife celebrated the golden anniversary of their wedding, and we have the following account of the occasion from the Democrat:

"Last Saturday about one hundred and fifty neighbors and friends assembled at the home of Squire Graham, in Eldred township, to celebrate the golden wedding of the Squire and his wife. Rev. Dr. Conway and Dr. W. J. McKnight of Brookville were present and made short addresses. Dr. Conway furnishes us with the following report of Dr. McKnight's speech:

"He spoke of his childhood visits to and appreciation of the Grahams; of the early settlers in the township, being familiarly acquainted with them all; of the marriage at Thomas Hall's of Mr. Graham and wife by Rev. David Polk, the Presbyterian pastor of Brookville. Fifty years ago he said John Tyler was president of the nation, the population of which was seventeen million; now we are a nation of sixty-two million. Fifty years ago Porter was governor of Pennsylvania. The State's population was one million, seven hundred thousand; now we are an empire of five million two hundred and fifty thousand people. Fifty years ago John McCrea was prothonotary, Thompson Barr, sheriff, and Judge Henderson, Treasurer, of Jefferson county. Fifty years ago Jefferson county was much larger than it is now, townships having been taken off to form Elk and Forest counties. Fifty years ago no hotel, no church, no sawmill, no store, no post office, no doctor, and of course no graveyard, in Eldred township. The principal industry was tar burning. The doctor then related some amusing anecdotes, and resuming spoke of the sports and amusements of those days - of the wrestling habits of the people, and hinted that drinking whisky, fighting and swearing were a little too common then. He spoke of the clothing commonly worn in those days - of the tow pants, roundabouts, and wamuses worn by the men; the buckskin pants and fur caps; of the flannel and linsey-woolsey dresses of the women. Also of the flax-breakings, quiltings, grubbings and frolics of those days. He spoke of training day, and imprisonment for debt." - Democrat, Jan. 26, 1893.


On Tuesday, Nov. 24, 1914, the friends and neighbors of Jacob Beers assembled at his homestead and at the house of Frank Forsythe, in Eldred township, and celebrated his one hundredth birthday. Mr. Beers was born Nov. 24, 1814, which was before the death fo Napoleon Bonaparte.

"Like all pioneers, Jacob Beers was fond of the amusements of his day, notably foot racing, throwing a stone from the shoulder, jumping, pulling square, rough and tumble fighting, which consisted of biting, kicks, blows and gouging of eyes. In my boyhood I have seen in Brookville eyes gouged, thumbs, fingers, noses and ears bitten off. It was a common sight to see a man lying in the gutter dead drunk. Prominent men would ride the streets on a horse, yelling a la Indian and swearing a stream of oaths that would make the devil blush and hell wonder. Of course, whisky was cheap, anybody old or young could but it, and it sold at the bar for three cents a drink and on trust. These conditions continued with but little improvement until 1860. Our Woman's Christian Temperance Union was not organized until 1883. I am and have been a tee-totaler all my life and this I owe to my mother.

"Jacob Beers was also fond of shooting matches, grubbings, rollings, huskings, scutchings, quiltings and dances. He was a "fiddler," played and danced the Munny Musk, French Four, Fisher's Hornpipe; the jig he especially was fond of playing, singing and dancing was the Pinecreek Lady, which ran as follows:

"If I had a wife and she had a baby,
Darn my eyes if I wouldn't run crazy,
Oh pine, oh pine lady,
Oh pine, Pinecreek Lady."

"Man is born to die. It is estimated that one billion, eight hundred million people live on the earth. Eighty million are born and sixty-five million die every year."

Mr. Beers died March 14, 1915, aged one hundred years, three months, twenty-one days.

In November, 1915, there were living one hundred and thirty-three persons in the United States between the ages of one hundred and one hundred and thirty-eight years, Mrs. L.C. Killcrease, of Pine Hill, Texas, being one hundred and thirty-eight and Mrs. Mary Brock, of Shades Valley, Ala., being one hundred and thirty-five years old. In Pennsylvania there were sixteen persons living between the ages of ninety and one hundred and seven, Mrs. Ann Elizabeth Magill, of Philadelphia, being one hundred and seven years old, and Mrs. Judge Henderson, of Brookville, being ninety-six years old.

Source: Pages 456-460, Jefferson County Pennsylvania, Her pioneers and People 1800-1915 by William James McKnight, M.D. , J.H. Beers & Co., 1917
Transcribed May 2004 by Nathan Zipfel for the Jefferson County Genealogy Project

Contributed for use by the Jefferson County Genealogy Project http://www.pa-roots.com/jefferson/)

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