Crawford County, Pennsylvania
History & Biography
"GAZETTEER OF TOWNSHIPS."
WOODCOCK was formed in 1830. It is an interior township, lying upon the east bank of French Creek, a little north of the center of the county, and contains 18,702 square acres. The surface is pleasantly diversified by upland and valley, and is well watered by streams flowing into French
Creek, the principal of which is Woodcock Creek, which enters
the township in the south-east corner and extends in a north-
westerly direction to the southern limits of Saegertown. The
north branch of that creek rises in the north-east part of the
township and flows south along the east border to its recipient.
Bussard Run is a smaller tributary to Woodcock Creek in the
central part of the township. The northern and north-western
parts of the township are drained by Gravel Run and the south
branch of that stream, which unites with its recipient near
the confluence of the latter with French Creek, in the north-
west corner of the township. Many small streams discharge
their waters in Woodcock Creek on the south, the surface in
the south part of the township having a slight declination
toward that stream. The surface has a gentle ascent as it
recedes from French Creek. Along this stream a steep bluff
seventy-five to one hundred feet high extends from one and one-
half miles below to two miles above Saegertown. A beautiful
valley of great fertility commences between the sources of the
north branch of Woodcock Creek and Gravel Run, (both of
which rise in the north-east part of the township,) and extends
in a southerly and westerly direction, through the central part,
to French Creek. The soil in this valley consists of a rich,
alluvial loam, the most elevated portions containing the most
loam. It is marked by many fine farms, especially in the
vicinity of Saegertown and along Woodcock Creek. The soil
of the township is generally of a fine quality and produces
good crops of corn, wheat, oats and grass. Dairying is the chief
branch of agriculture, the milk being converted into cheese.
The industries of the township are represented by three
cheese factories, which receive the milk from 1400 to 1500
cows; four water-power grist mills, one at Saegertown, one a
mile west of Woodcock borough, on Gravel Run, and two on
Woodcock Creek; five saw mills, four of which are propelled
by water and one by steam, and which are located, one on
Gravel Eun, one on French Creek, two on Woodcock Creek
and one on the north brunch of Woodcock Creek; and two
wooden bowl manufactories, both situated on Woodcock Creek.
The Atlantic & Great Western R. R. crosses the township
along French Creek, and passes through deep cuts in the steep
declivities of the bank above and below Saegertown.
The population of the township in 1870 was 1,943, all of
whom were white and all, except ninety-six, native.
During the year ending June 3, 1872, it contained seventeen
schools and employed twenty-seven teachers. The number of
scholars was 702; the average number attending school, 519;
and the amount expended for school purposes, $4,928.17.
SAEGERTOWN (p. v.) is pleasantly situated upon a beautiful plain on the east bank of French Creek and on the A. & G. W.
R. R., and is distant six miles north of Meadville. It is surrounded by some of the best farming lands in the county. It
was organized as a borough in 1851. It contains three churches,
(Reformed, Lutheran and M. E.) a fine school building, two
hotels, two stores, two groceries, a tin shop, two cooper shops,
four blacksmith shops, two shoe shops, one millinery and three
dress making establishments, a large flouring mill, a saw mill,
lath mill, gun shop and about five hundred inhabitants. The
population in 1870 was 441.
Three bridges cross French Creek within the limits of the
township connecting it with Hayfield township. One of them
located in this borough is substantially constructed of iron.
WOODCOCK BOROUGH (p. v.) is situated on the north line,
about two miles from Venango Station on the A. & G. W. R. R.
It was organized as a borough in 1845, and contains three
churches, (one M. E. and two Presbyterian, but, owing to the
unification of the two Presbyterian Societies, only one of the
latter is occupied by that denomination,) one hotel, three dry
goods, one drug and one jewelry stores, a tailor shop, harness
shop, a cheese factory, using the past season the milk of 500
cows, though having a capacity for twice that number, and
about forty dwellings. The population in 1870 was 220.
The estimated value of the school property in the borough is
*121 $2,500. The amount raised for school purposes in 1872 was
$476.77; the amount expended for school purposes the same
year, $408.10. The number of resident pupils attending school
was 65, and the number of non-resident pupils was eighteen.
BLOOMING VALLEY (p. v.) is situated in the south-east part
of the township, on the State Road, and was organized as a
borough May 17, 1867. It contains one hotel, five stores, a
wagon shop, two blacksmith shops, a bowl factory, cooper shop,
marble shop, planing mill and about forty-five dwellings. The
population in 1870 was 209. It has a graded school, the build-
ing for which cost $3,700.
The first settlement of which we have information was made
in 1791, by James Humes, who located one mile west of Woodcock borough. Settlements were made in 1794 by Henry Rust, from Westmoreland county, James Long, a native of Lancaster
county, who died in 1830, in the 93d year of his age, and John
H. Bossard, who came from the vicinity of Greensburg, Westmoreland county.
Patrick and Arthur McGill, brothers, came
to the township in 1795. Arthur took up 800 acres and
located on the farm now occupied by David and Josiah McGill.
The south half of this tract was subsequently taken up by
Patrick. John McGill, son of the latter, was about one year
old when his father settled here and is now 78 years old. He
retains his mental faculties well, though he is afflicted with a
cancer in his face. Samuel Blair, grand-father of Mr. J. J.
Long, and George Long, father of that gentleman, came to this
township in 1797 and located on the farm owned by him. Blair
was a native of Ireland and both came here from the Susquehanna country. Wm. Wykoff, a native of New Jersey, came
with his son, John Wykoff, in 1797, and settled on Gravel Run,
about two miles east of Woodcock borough, on the farm now
occupied by Wm. C. Wykoff. John Greenlee came from the
Susquehanna country in 1797 and in 1798 he located on the
farm occupied by his son, Wm. Greenlee. The animals which
infested the forests, though they furnished the settlers an ample supply of meat, were very troublesome to their flocks.
Wolves and bears were especially destructive. For a long time
it was necessary to yard the sheep at night, and they were frequently attacked in the day time. The bears tore down their
pig pens and carried off the pigs, and not unfrequently the cows
were set upon by wolves.
The settlement at Saegertown was commenced about 1796.
About 1800 Maj. Alden built a saw mill on the site of the
present mills, and the place was known for several years as
Aldens Mills. In 1824 Daniel Saeger purchased the mill and
the lands adjacent to it, and laid out the town under its present
name. Mr. Saeger came from Lehigh county and possessed
more than ordinary energy and business capacity. Being a native Pennsylvanian, of German descent, he soon attracted to
this locality a large number of the hardy, honest German yeomanry of Lehigh and other eastern counties, thus giving to it
all the characteristics of a Pennsylvania Dutch settlement.
The first store in this village was kept by the Saegers and has been
kept in the Saeger name ever since, now more than forty years. Among the early settlers here were Adam Brookhouser and his two sons, Adam and Jacob, Adam Newhouser and Peter Shaffer.
The Indians had a village or encampment at an early day
near where the Reformed church now stands.
The first tavern in Saegertown was kept by Peter Shaffer,
where Saegers brick store now stands. The first school was
kept by Jonathan G. David in a small log cabin, situated a short
distance above the mill. In 1834 a frame school house was
built near the Reformed church. It was a low building with a
partition through the center, designed to have English taught
in one apartment and German in the other. The post office
was established in 1833, the mail being carried from Meadville
to Girard once a week, and when the postman, David Yarrick,
rode into the village on his little black horse, blowing his horn,
no little sensation was produced.
Nathaniel Clark, from Armstrong county, settled in the
township about 1801. Wm. H. Clark, his son, was born about
half a mile from where he now lives, about sixty-two years ago.
George Peiffer, a Revolutionary hero, came to this county from
Northumberland county, in 1802, and removed to this township
in 1809. Thomas Rice came from Allegheny county, in April,
1810, and settled on the farm now owned by S. T. Rice.
The first store in Woodcock borough was kept by James
Moore; and the first hotel, by Jacob Keptler, who was also the
first postmaster. Henry Zimmerman was one of the first merchants.
The first saw mill erected in the township was built by Archibald Humes, at the mouth of Gravel Run, where he located.
He soon after built at the same place the grist mill which is
now owned by Mr. Apple. James Dickson, who came from
Cumberland county and settled on Woodcock Creek at a very
early day, is said to have built the first grist mill erected in the
north part of the county. The stones, which were common
rock, were obtained near Pittsburgh, at a place called Laurel
Hill. Wm. Wise, who came to this township from Center
county, in 1830, is 96 years old (1873) and is said to be the
oldest man now living in the county.
The first religious meetings were held by Robert C. Hooker,
a missionary from Kentucky, in a log house occupied by one
Gravel Run Church, (Presbyterian,) at Woodcock borough, was organized in 1809, and their first house of worship was erected soon afterward. The present edifice was erected in 1854, at a cost of $2,500, which is one-
half the present value of Church property. It will seat 350 persons. The
first pastor was Rev. John Matthews; the present one is Rev. W. A. McCarroll. The Society numbers 117.[Information furnished by Mr. Wm. Clark.
Rockville Church, (M. E.) at Woodcock borough, was organized in 1810,
by Rev. Joshua Monroe, the first pastor. The first church edifice was
erected in 1817 and was constructed of logs; the present one, which will
seat about 300 persons, was erected in 1838, at a cost of $1,800. The
Society numbers eighty and is ministered to by Rev. R. C. Smith. The
Church property is valued at $3,000.[Information furnished by Mr. Isaac
1 Hamilton Child, comp., Gazetteer and Business Directory of Crawford County, Pa., for 1874 (Syracuse, N.Y.: By the comp., 1874), pp. 118-19.