Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography

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    NORTH SHENANGO was formed together with South and West Shenango in 1811.  It lies upon the west border of the county, south of the center, and contains 15,865 square acres.  It is watered by Shenango Creek and several small streams flowing into it, the principal of which is Bennett’s Run, which drains the central portion, flowing north-west.  Shenango Creek enters the township from Sadsbury, near the south-east corner, and flowing in a north-westerly direction through Pymatuning Swamp, which impinges on the north border, forms the major portion of the north boundary, when it deflects to the south-west, crossing the line in its course into Ohio a short distance, when it again enters the township and finally leaves it in the south-west corner.  The surface is level, and the soil of good quality, producing excellent crops.  That part of the township in the north, covered by swamps, is but little cleared, while the southern part is in a good state of cultivation.  The <page 71> inhabitants, though chiefly engaged in dairying and stock raising give some attention to lumbering.

    The Erie & Pittsburgh R. R. passes through the central part of the township.
    The population in 1870 was 901, of whom 866 were native, 35, foreign, 898, white and three, colored.
    During the year ending June 3, 1873, the township contained seven schools and employed fifteen teachers.  The number of scholars was 301; the average number attending school, 189; and the amount expended for school purposes, $1,390.15.

    ESPYVILLE, (p. o.) situated in the western part, about one mile from the E. & P. R. R., contains a church, store, school house, wagon shop, shoe shop, paint shop, three blacksmith shops, a saw mill and about twenty dwellings.  It derives its name from George Espy, an early settler there.

    D. & J. F. Pattons Steam Saw Mill, located at Espyville station, gives employment to twelve persons and cuts about 600,000 feet of lumber, 1,500,000 shingles and 500,000 lath per annum.

    STEWARTSVILLE, (North Shenango p. o.) is situated on Bennetts Run, in the eastern part of the township.
    Indications that the country embraced within the limits of this township was occupied by a race of people versed in the arts of civilization, at a period long anterior to the advent of the present inhabitants, are found in the remains of fortifications and relics of an early period exhumed in their vicinity; but whether these evidences are referable to the operations of the French in this locality, or to a period anterior to their occupancy can at present only be conjectured.  These forts, which are circular in form, are located on Shenango Creek, about one-fourth of a mile apart, and each covers an area of half an acre to an acre.  The outlines of two of them are still discernable, the glacis being two to three feet high, and the rifle pits of similar depth.  Upon these embankments large trees have grown, which give evidence of their great age, while within old gun barrels, fragments of human bones and other relics of an earlier age have been disclosed.  Andrew Linn, while opening a spring in the northern part of the township, disclosed a portion of a stone wall, which, though evidently a piece of masonry, does not sufficiently indicate its design.
    The present settlement was commenced as early as 1798, in which year David McKee and Anthony Bennett, from Susquehanna county, located—the former in the south-western part, near Espyville, and the latter in the northern part.  McKee came with an ox team to Meadville and thence through the <page 72> woods, guided by blazed trees to his place of settlement, where he arrived in the spring of the year.  Bennett built the first saw and grist mills in the township, upon the stream which bears his name.  The following year Sidney Herriott and Henry Bennett became settlers.  Herriott was from New Jersey, though he had lived two years at Williamsport, Pa., and located in the northern part of the township.  He came from Pittsburgh on foot.  Bennett came from Northumberland county and settled a little east of the center.  He came up French Creek by canoe to Meadville, and lived on the farm upon which he settled the remainder of his days.  Sam’l Barackman settled in the northern part in April, 1800.  He came from Susquehanna county the previous year, but remained during the winter in Greenwood.  He had to cut a road through the woods from Hartstown in order to reach his destination with his ox team.  When he first came he was obliged to go to Sugar Creek, a distance of about thirty miles, to get his grinding done.  The journey there and back usually occupied two days, sometimes much longer.  Several years later a grist mill was built at Colts Station, in the southern part of Conneaut township, and thither, across the swamp, which was made passable with brush and poles, he carried upon his back one and one-half to two bushels of grain.  Salt cost $15 per barrel, and could be obtained no nearer than Pittsburgh.  Pork was worth two shillings per pound, and potatoes two dollars per bushel.  He built a log house on the farm he settled and on which he lived till his death.  He erected the first framed building—a barn—built in the township, about the year 1818.  Hannah Linn came with her family in May of the same year, (1800) and settled in the western part, where they cleared a farm, on which she resided till her death, and which is now owned by the family.  They came from New Jersey via Pittsburgh with a four horse team, and cut their road through the woods from that city.  During the first winter of their residence here, blankets were used as a substitute for doors, and would seem to have afforded meager security against the wild beasts which made the night hideous with their frightful screams.  Wm. Reed settled with his family in the south-western part about the same year.  They came from the Susquehanna and proceeded as far as Franklin in a canoe, his wife following along the river upon horseback and driving two cows before.  When they had got within fifteen miles of Franklin, their supply of provisions became exhausted, and Mr. Reed proceeded on foot to procure a new supply.  They stopped at first in the eastern part of the township, but subsequently removed to the vicinity of a spring discovered by Mrs. Reed while lost in the woods, she, in company with Mrs. Bennett, having started out <page 73> with their husbands’ dinners.  It is related by Isaiah Collins that these two women, having lost their way rambled through the woods and at night took refuge in small trees up which they climbed.  During the night an animal, which they supposed to be a panther, made its appearance, and Mrs. Reed urged her companion to appease the hungry beast and secure themselves from harm by the sacrifice of the babe she had with her; but the thought so repugnant to a mother’s sensibilities was too horrifying to be obscured by that of personal danger and was promptly rejected.  In the morning their fears of immediate danger were removed by the retreat of the animal.  They descended and after some time their attention was attracted by the sound of chopping, toward which they turned their steps, and soon were gratified with the sight of two men, engaged in digging out a trough, by whom they were piloted to their homes, where they learned that the neighborhood was aroused and searching for them.  James Reed, son of Wm., is believed to have been the first child born in the township.
    Isaac W., Henry and Elijah Collins, brothers, came from Mifflin county, with a four horse team, and settled, the former at Espyville, and the latter two near the central part, in 1801.  Isaac was a soldier in the war of 1812, and resided on the farm he cleared till his death.  Henry and Elijah settled on one farm, but the former lived only three or four years in his new home.  The Espys were among the first settlers.  Geo. Espy came from Redstone, Bedford county, about 1802, and located at Espyville, to which place he gave his name.  Patterson Espy probably kept the first store, a little south of this place.  Patrick Davis, a native of Ireland, came from Lancaster county, and settled in the eastern part of the township about 1803.  He cleared a farm and lived on it the remainder of his days.  James Pollock came from Westmoreland county in 1803 or ’4, and settled in the north-western corner of the township where he resided till his death in 1815.
    The first school house was built at Espyville, but the first school is believed to have been taught by Joseph Wright, in a log (private) house in the central part of the township, at what is known as Elliotts Corners.

    Center Chapel, (M. E.) at Elliott’s Corners, was organized with sixteen members, in 1825, by Revs. Chas. Elliott, the presiding Elder, and Thomas Carr, the first pastor.  The first edifice was erected in 1827 or ’8, and the present one, which will seat 250 persons, in 1850, at a cost of $800.  The Society consists of forty-eight members, is ministered to by Rev. Ira D  Darling, our informant, and its property is valued at about “$200.” (?)

    Espyville M. E. Church, at Espyville, was organized with seven members in 1831, probably by Rev. Wm. Thorn, who is believed to have been the first pastor.  The first house of worship was erected about 1832, <page 74> and the present one, which will seat about 400 persons, in 1870, at a cost of $6,000.  There are sixty members, who are under the pastoral care of Rev. Ira D. Darling, our informant.  The Church property is valued at $7,500.

    North Shenango United Presbyterian Church was organized in 1849, by Rev. H. H. Thompson.  Their house of worship, which will seat 250 persons, was erected in 1846.  The first pastor was Rev. W. Dalzell; the present one is Rev. H. H. Hervey, our informant.  The Society numbers one hundred.

1 Hamilton Child, comp., Gazetteer and Business Directory of Crawford County, Pa., for 1874 (Syracuse, N.Y.: By the comp., 1874), pp. 118-19.