Crawford County, Pennsylvania
"HISTORY OF THE VILLAGES AND TOWNSHIPS OF CRAWFORD COUNTY."
The township of Cussewago lies west of the centre of the north-border line of townships. Its organization was in the year 1811. Its surface is elevated, and embraces fine table-lands. The soil is a productive gravelly loam. Dairying and stock-raising occupy the attention of the farming community. Manufacturing is carried on to some extent, and several cheese-factories are in successful operation.
There are two villages in the township, that of Crossingville, on Cussewago Creek, in the northwest part of the district, and Cussewago, on a branch of the Cussewago Creek. Both places are supplied with churches, stores, shops, and hotel, and are thriving localities. The early settlement of Cussewago was made by Robert Erwin in 1795. He built the first cabin and made the first clearing in the township, and, as settlers moved in, found a suitable person to manage his bachelor home, and married in 1802. During the year 1797 various settlers had moved into the township; among these were the Sweeney brothers (Alexander and John), John Clawson, and John Chamberlain. Alexander Sweeney bought four tracts of four hundred acres each, and on each erected a cabin, to which he invited and settled his relatives. With laudable industry they made improvements; and having established a school, it was attended during one winter by thirty-six scholars, all of whom were first cousins. John Chamberlain moved to the township from Sussex County, New Jersey. His cabin was built by himself and one other. It was of the earlier type, and illustrated in its stick chimney, split-pole roof, and greased-paper windows, the shifts of a backwoodsman urged on by necessity. When out of flour, a bushel of grain was backed to Meadville, ground, and brought back during the same day. In time, a house of hewed logs was to be built, and so scattered and few were settlers that assistance was asked of and rendered by citizens of Meadville. John Clawson came from New Jersey, and located near the centre of the township, on the farm now occupied by his son. With provident care the old settler had planted out an orchard from the seed. One venerable tree in this orchard is seventy-six years old, and measures nearly seven feet in circuit. When Jacob Hites moved into Cussewago from Philadelphia County, in 1798, his nearest neighbor was Rev. Owen David. Northward was the cabin of Michael Greely, and beyond him that of Robert Erwin. At what is now Crossingville the McBrides (Patrick and Bartholomew), Miles Tinny, and John Donohue had settled. Patrick McBride settled on his tract in 1797. Donohue built a log cabin near Clawson, and occupied it alone for four years. Grove Lewis, of Bucks County, came by way of Meadville to the township, and became a resident in 1798. The necessities of the times are illustrated by the statement that potatoes planted for seed had to be dug up and eaten to mitigate hunger. John McTier came with his family in 1799, and from the rudest beginning made a comfortable home. In 1802, Lewis Thickstan moved in from New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Samuel LeFevre came in 1810. The first township meeting was held at the house of LeFevre. The first saw-mill erected within the bounds of the township was built by Thomas Potter, of Connecticut, in 1818. Mr. Potter constructed a grist-mill near the same place in 1821, the first in the district of Cussewago. While the numerous settlers as late as 1832 prevent an individual mention, yet, so sparse were the settlements, so limited the conveniences, that many now living can easily recall the novel contrivances of the period, the occupation of the women, and the rude tools used in farming, and show the contrast then presented to the appliances of the present. The bright pewter plates and dishes which had replaced the wooden trencher are seen no more. The pitch-pine knot, the sheet-iron lamp with its linen wick fed with kitchen grease, and the tallow-candle, are passed into oblivion. No more is heard the pleasing hum of the spinning-wheel, the click of the reel, and the rasping of the cards, and no more is seen the half-acre of flax growing on every farm. These customs of the olden time live only in the memory of those who dwell upon the acts of by-gone days, and perish with them.
1 Combination Atlas Map of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, Compiled, Drawn and Published From Personal Examinations and Surveys (Philadephia: Everts, Ensign & Everts, 1876), 24.