Crawford County, Pennsylvania
History & Biography
ORGANIZATION—BOUNDARIES—NAME—PHYSICALFEATURES—AREA AND POPULATION—LAND COMPANIES—FIRST PURCHASERS—EARLY
CONNEAUT TOWNSHIP was organized July 9, 1800, with the following boundaries: "Beginning at the northeast corner of Shenango Township; thence northwardly the breadth of eleven full tracts; thence westwardly the length of eight tracts, together with the breadth of one tract, to the western boundary of the State; thereto by the same northwardly to the northwest corner of Shenango Township, thence by the same to the place of
beginning." As thus constituted it was the middle one of the three original western townships of Crawford
County, and included the south half of present Conneaut, the southwest corner of Summerhill, the western part of
Summit and Sadsbury, all of Pine and most of North Shenango. By a re-formation of township lines, in 1829,
Conneaut was reduced to its present limits. It is situated on the western line of the county, and is bounded on the
north by Beaver and Spring Townships, on the east by Summerhill and Summit,. and on the south by Pine and North Shenango.
Conneaut was the Indian term applied to the lake in Sadsbury Township. It signifies "The Snow Place," and was so called, it is supposed, from the fact that the snow on the frozen lake lingered long after it had disappeared from the surrounding land. Though the lake was not within the original bounds of Conneaut Township, the latter doubtless received its name from this body of water, or from Conneaut Creek.
The surface is level or gently rolling. Paden Creek flows southward through the western part, and Mill Creek through the eastern part, both entering Shenango Creek in Pine Township. Along the streams the soil is a gravelly loam, and beyond it is generally a clay. It produces good grass and grain; and dairying and stock-raising form the chief vocations of the people. Red and white oak, beech, hickory and other varieties of timber densely covered the surface. Hemlock grew in the southwest part.
Its area is 24,492 acres. The population in 1850 was 1,807; in 1860, 1,867; in 1870, 1,729, and in 1880, 1,601. The population of the original township in 1820 was 562.
Except a narrow strip along the western line, which was owned by the American Land Company, the township was included within the domain of the Pennsylvania Population Company. The agent of this latter company was Jabez Colt, who, in order to stimulate immigration to these lands, in the sum mer of 1797, or earlier, engaged the services of a half dozen or more sturdy, young, unmarried immigrants and made an improvement called Colt's Station, in the eastern part of the township, and probably at the south end of the dividing line, between Tracts 710
and 711, or in Tract 715. For several years they remained here, but the place did not flourish and the land agent
abandoned the settlement and made another improvement in what is now Pine Township.
The following statement shows the condition of the Population tracts in 1812, when the company closed its business—the number of the tract, name of settler, date of contract, number of acres, contracted for and its final
disposition. Each tract contains an area slightly exceeding 400 acres. Tract 683, Ezekiel Murdock, October 27, 1797, 200 acres, deed granted Amos Line, assignee of Murdock; 684, Eliphalet Beebe, November 9, 1797, 200
acres, deed granted Amos Line, assignee of Beebe; 685, Samuel Hungerford, November 9, 1797, 200 acres, slightly improved, then abandoned; 686, David Smith, November 9, 1797, 200 acres, slightly improved, then abandoned; same tract, George Cook, March 27, 1805, 100 acres, abandoned; 687, Caleb Luce, September 23, 1797, 100 acres, settled under contract and deed granted Alexander Johnson, assignee of Luce. All the above, except the last named, were intruded upon in 1801, 1802 and 1803, but abandoned after a two or three years' settlement. 689, David Luce, September 23, 1797, 200 acres, settlement completed; 690, John Reed, November 7, 1797, 100 acres; 691, Sam Hunt, 200 acres, and 692, Samuel Hunt, Jr., 100 acres, November 9, 1797, settled three or four years and abandoned, intruded on in 1801, 1802 and 1803, and since abandoned; 693, Amos Line, November 9, 1797, 200 acres, settled and deed granted; 694, John Shotwell, November 20, 1797, improved but abandoned and settled by an intruder; 695, Daniel Casey, November 9, 1797, 200 acres, deed granted Casey April 11, 1804; 696, Isaac Hunt, November 9, 1797, 200 acres, settled and deed delivered to Amos Line, assignee of Hunt; 697, James Reed, November 7, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract, and deed granted Ralph Martin; 698, Isaac Parr, November 9, 1797, 100 acres, settled under contract; 701, John Parr, November 9, 1807, 200 acres, settlement completed under contract; 702, small improvement under contract and abandoned; 703, William Burnsides, August 20, 1798, 100 acres, slightly improved and abandoned, intruded on and again abandoned; 704, Dennis Hughes, October 7, 1797, 200 acres, settled by an intruder; 705, Robert Martin, December 2,1809, 100 acres, settled under contract; 706 and 707, William Latta, April 27, 1805, 100 acres each, settled under contract; 708, William Shotwell, Nov. 20, 1797, 200 acres, deed granted Sbotwell, but land settled by an intruder; 709, Joshua Duly, Oct. 4, 1799, 200 acres, settled three or four years, abandoned, then settled by intruder; 710 and 711, improved by company, cleared and settled by intruders three or four years, then abandoned by them; 712,
Nathaniel Luce, September 23, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; 714, Jabez Colt, November 20, 1797, 200 acres, deed granted Colt; 715, improved for the company, eight acres cleared; 716, Thomas McGuire, September 28,1809, 100 acres, settled under contract; 717, Samuel Fuller, October 23, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; 718, William Shotwell, November 20, 1797, 200 acres, deed granted Shotwell; 719, John Wilderman, November 7,1797, 200 acres, settled, and deed granted Isaac Paden; 720, Samuel Hungerford, November 9, 1797, small improvement under contract settled by an intruder; 721, James Elliston, October 27, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract and deed granted Isaac Paden; 722, Obed Garwood, October 27, 1797, 200 acres, deed granted Garwood; 723, Thomas Crocket, September 27, 1809, 100 acres, settled under contract; 724 and 725, Jabez Colt, November 20, 1797, 200 acres each, deeds granted Colt; 726, Moses McCay, November 20, 1797, 200 acres, deed delivered McCay; 727, Thomas Graham, August 20, 1798, 100 acres, settled under contract; 728, John Taylor, February 1O, 1810, 100 acres, settled under contract; 729, George Wilderman, October 19, 1797, 200 acres, deed delivered to William Shanks, assignee of Wilderman; 730 and 731, wholly unsold; 732, swamp; 735, Jacob Wilderman, November 7, 1797, 100 acres, small improve- <page 524> ment under contract and abandoned, intruded on and abandoned; 736, Joseph Hayes, November 15, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract and deed granted Henry Frey; 739 and 740, settled by intruders; 743, William McKibben, November 20,1797, 200 acres, deed granted George Davis, assignee of McKibben.
The large number of abandonments and assignments are particularly noticeable in this township. Pioneer privations were severe and continuous. The labor of clearing the timber was extremely arduous, and the soil was often found too low and wet to produce crops. In consequence, most of those who settled here either sold their claims for the small price they would command or abandoned them entirely and left the country. Difficulties with the Land Company also arose, and increased the discontent and emigration. Many were without means, but did not remove until they were literally starved out. In more than one instance planted potatoes were dug up and greedily devoured by these primitive settlers.
The following were tax-paying residents of the township in 1810: Alexander Johnston, William and Samuel Latta, Robert Martin, John Parr, Samuel Potter, William and Samuel Rankin, Samuel Brooks, Thomas Crockett, Henry Frey, Obed Garwood, William Hill, Thomas McGuire and Rebecca Paden. Alexander Johnson was a native of Ireland, and settled on Tract 687, in the northeast comer of the township, where he remained till death, leaving five children: William, John, Mary (Lopeman), Jane (McDowell) and Esther (Crockett). William Latta, also a native of the Emerald Isle, was a hatter, settled near Penn Line and after a few years removed from the township. His brothers, Samuel, John and Thomas, were also here, and made improvements, then departed. Robert Martin, an Irishman, settled near Steamburg, and resided there till his earthly labors were ended by death. John Parr afterward removed from the township. Samuel Potter settled in the northern part about 1799. He came from Elizabethtown, N. J., with an ox-team, part of his journey lying through the woods, with only blazed trees as a guide. He put out crops, reared a cabin, then at the end of the season returned to New Jersey, and the following spring came again to his new home, where he remained till his death, at the age of ninety-three years. William and Samuel Rankin hailed from Ireland. The former located at Penn Line, where he cleared a large farm and remained till death.
Samuel Brooks came in 1800 from Fayette County, and settled on a farm of 266 acres in the southeast part of the township. He brought his goods up French Creek on a flat-boat to Meadville, and thence by land to within a mile of where he settled. He remained here till death, and his descendants yet reside in the township. Thomas Crockett was an Irishman, and settled on Tract 723, where his son now resides. He was a farmer, and was drowned near Linesville. Henry Frey, of German extraction, came from York County in 1800. He was an ardent Methodist, a shoe-maker by trade, and had sixteen children, fifteen of whom attained maturity. He died on the farm he settled on, Tract 736, and his descendants still reside in the township. Obed Garwood, brother to Joseph Garwood, formerly of Summit Township, came from Fayette County. He was a farmer and millwright, and settled on Tract 722, where his sons now reside. William Hill settled on Tract 731 in the southwest part of the township, where he remained till death. Thomas McGuire settled on Tract 716, but did not remain long.
Isaac Paden came early from Fayette County, and located in the southwest part, where he remained through life. Samuel Patterson, bailing from New <page 525> Jersey, settled on the site of Steamburg, where he cleared a large farm and spent the remainder of his days.
The township settled slowly. As late as 1830 there were still few settlers within its bounds, but as the lands were cleared the surface became drier and more tillable; settlers flocked in, and the well stocked and highly improved farms of to-day afford to the pioneer a striking contrast with the desolate appearance of the country fifty
The first grist and saw-mill was built by Mr. Paden in the southwest part on Paden's Run prior to 1810. The grist-mill was a small affair, having but one run of stone, and operated only at intervals, when a sufficient head of water had accumulated to run the mill. Obed Garwood also operated an early grist-mill. A carding-mill was formerly owned and operated for a number of years by Thomas Logan.
Thomas McGuire, an Irishman, probably taught the first school about 1810, in a cabin which stood near the deserted Colt's Station. A year or two later Samuel Garwood held a term in the southeast part of the township. Educational advantages, however, were extremely meager. A schoolhouse was built in 1818 two miles south of the center near the Crockett Schoolhouse. It was a log building 14xl6, with stick and mud chimney, fire place at one side, door on opposite side and hung on wooden hinges, puncheon floor, windows 20x30 inches, cut through the logs, with greased paper in place of glass, and the entire building constructed without iron nails. Messrs. Smith, Spaulding and Marshall were its early teachers. The wages averaged about $8 per month, and payment was made in pork, butter, potatoes and other commodities. In 1820 a similar house was built at Penn Line, and the year following another, a mile northeast of Summit Station.
An early society of Friends or Quakers had existence in the township. It included in its membership Stephen and Joseph Fish, Cornelius Lawson, Amos Line, William Hill, David Ladner, Peter Thorn, Isaac Paden, John Rushmore, and others to about the number of thirty. Meetings were held at Mr. Lawson's dwelling until about 1840, when a log church was erected in the northeast corner of Tract 724, where the church burial-ground is still preserved. A few years later the society disbanded.
Frey's Chapel is a Methodist Episcopal Church edifice, located in the south part of the township. The Class that worships here dates its origin back to about 1818, when it was organized with eight members. Meetings were held for many years at the cabin of Henry Frey and afterward in the schoolhouse, until 1851, when the present house of worship was erected at a cost of about $1,500. The class then belonged to Espyville Circuit. It is now a part of Linesville. The membership is about fifty.
The First Congregational Church of Conneaut was organized with seven members, May 2, 1833, by Rev. Peter Hassinger. A house of worship was erected at Conneaut Center in 1841, which was superseded by the present structure, erected in 1873, at a cost of $2,500. The first pastor was Rev. Hart; the present one Rev. H. D. Lowing, who has been in charge many years. The membership is about twenty-five.
The Methodist Episcopal Church at Steamburg was organized with about twenty members in 1867, by Rev. R. C. Smith, the first pastor. The frame church edifice was erected in 1870, at a cost of about $1,500. The membership is now quite small, not exceeding twenty. The society formerly was a part of Linesville Circuit, but in 1883 was attached to Spring.
The Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad passes north and south through the eastern part of the township. Summit, the only station in Conneaut, is about midway <page 526> between the north and south line of the township. A store and a cheese factory are found here, the latter owned by Charles Corey. Center Road Station Postoffice is located here.
Penn Line Postoffice is a hamlet in the western part of Conneaut, consisting of about fifteen dwellings
scattered along the road, from the State line eastward, for a distance of half a mile—a store, hotel, cheese factory,
two blacksmith shops, shoe shop and schoolhouse.
Steamburg Postoffice is a hamlet of similar size in the northern part, and contains a Methodist Church,
schoolhouse, store, blacksmith shop and cheese factory.