Crawford County, Pennsylvania
History & Biography
EAST FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP.
EAST FAIRFIELD TOWNSHIP—PETITION—ELECTION—PHYSICAL FEATURES—TITLES—TRIALS OF PIONEERS—FIRST SETTLERS—EARLY SCHOOL
TEACHERS—SHAW'S LANDING—PETTIS POSTOFFICE—STITZERVILLE—CHURCHES.
BOROUGH OF COCHRANTON—PETITION—ELECTION—OFFICERS—NAME—POPULATION AND PRESENT
On the 10th day of September, 1867, the Court of Quarter Sessions appointed H. B. Beatty, Charles Drake and W. B. Brown Commissioners to consider a petition, presented by the citizens of Fairfield
Township, praying for its division into two townships, with French Creek as the line of separation. The
Commissioners reported favorably, and the court ordered the electors of the township to hold an election March 20, 1868, to determine the question of division. The vote resulted: yeas, 134, nays, 122; and East Fairfield became one of the civil subdivisions of Crawford County. It is irregularly triangular in shape, with French Creek as the hypothenuse. It contains 8,287 acres, valued on the tax duplicate of 1882 at $165,032. The population in 1870 was 741; in 1880, 748. French Creek flats along the stream are rich and productive, and the ridge that rises back from the stream is comparatively level and easily tillable. The ridge descends in the northeastern part of the township to Little Sugar Creek, which courses in a southeasterly direction. Grain culture is the chief avocation, though dairying is not neglected. The Franklin Branch of the N. Y., P. & O. R. R. crosses the township along the valley of French Creek. The Meadville feeder of the Beaver and Erie Canal entered from the north, and crossed French Creek into Union Township, near the mouth of Conneaut Outlet. Slack-water navigation down French Creek from this point to Franklin was opened in November, 1834, but continued only for a short time.
Most of the land in the township was patented by individuals. In the eastern part are a few tracts belonging to the Sixth Donation District. French Creek was the course by which the pioneers of Crawford County reached their future homes, and the first settlers made their claims in its beautiful and fertile valley. Stretching along its waters for many miles, the rich bottom lands of East Fairfield attracted many of the first comers. The earliest arrived before Indian peace had yet been enforced by Gen. Wayne, and while murderous bands of savages yet ranged western Pennsylvania, and soon after settlements could be made with any assurance of safety from Indian attacks the entire valley was filled with immigrants from the southern or eastern portions of the Commonwealth. Actual and continuous occupation was the only safeguard against other claimants. Several of the earliest settlers by attempting to hold two tracts, dividing their time between them, were successfully dispossessed by new comers, arriving during their absence. The lands fronting on the creek, and some in the interior of the township, were patented in the names of the first settlers, and usually in tracts of 400 acres each.
Henry Marley and John Wentworth are accredited the first permanent settlers. Mr. Marley was Irish born, immigrated to America in 1790, and in June, 1793, built his rude, diminutive log-cabin near the creek road, on the tract opposite and below the mouth of Conneaut Creek, where he remained until his death and where his descendants still abide. John Wentworth also came to Crawford County several years before peace was established with the Indians, and was known as an Indian fighter and a skillful hunter. His garb was the Indian hunting-costume, and he settled on French Creek, in the northwest corner of the township, where he remained until death. He had served in his youth in the Revolutionary struggle.
Prior to 1798, several years before, William Dean, Henry Heath, Thomas Powell, Andrew and Hugh
Gibson, John McFadden and Peter Shaw had settled along the creek. William Dean brought his family from Westmoreland County about 1795, conveying his few household effects on two pack-horses, and took possession of the land immediately below Marley. He was a Presbyterian, and remained on this farm till his death in 1846, leaving a numerous posterity, several of whom yet own and occupy the old farm. Henry Heath, from Allegheny County, settled on the adjoining farm below. He died in Wayne Township, but part of the farm is still owned by the Heaths. Below him Thomas Powell, from the same county, settled and remained through life. Immediately below the Marley place, Andrew Gibson, from Westmoreland County, built his cabin and remained till his death February 26, 1828. Still further up the stream John McFadden located and maintained a claim. He had a large family, and subsequently removed to near Cooperstown, Venango County. Hugh Gibson was the owner and possessor of the next farm. He was a brother of Andrew Gibson, and removed to Butler County. Peter Shaw, a Scotchman, came from near Pittsburgh, and located the tract above Hugh Gibson's land. He was a brother-in-law to William Dean, Sr., and a life-long resident of the farm he settled. Isaac Powell, brother to Thomas Powell, entered a tract on the the [sic] turnpike adjoining the William Dean farm on the northeast. He was an old bachelor, and he and an unmarried sister dwelt on this farm till death overtook them in their old age.
James Thompson, hailing from Mifflin County, was one of Capt. William Power's party engaged in
surveying land in northwestern Pennsylvania. One day in June, 1795, they had encamped southwest of
Conneaut Lake, and Thompson was left in camp to watch the equipage and prepare supper, while the balance of the party were making stealthy and hasty surveys, through fear of hostile savages. A band of Indians suddenly appeared at the camp and made Mr. Thompson a prisoner. After destroying the camp and scattering the provisions they proceeded northward. At the first evening's halt the Indians exhibited two scalps, which they said they had taken that day near the mouth of Conneaut Outlet, and were probably those of the ill-fated young men, Findlay and McCormick. Mr. Thompson was compelled to make forced marches and assist in carrying plunder until they reached Detroit. Here he was liberated after Wayne's treaty was declared, and made his way back to Mifflin County. Several years later he emigrated with his brother-in-law, Mr. Power, and settled about two miles north of Cochranton, where he remained till death, leaving a large family.
The early schoolmaster in East Fairfield who would not apply the birch to his pupils freely and
frequently was regarded as a worthless teacher. The first, and for many years the only schoolhouse in the township, was built in 1802 on the Andrew Gibson farm. Thomas Havelin, an Irishman and a good scholar for those times, was one of the first teachers. Charles Caldwell <page 535> taught about 1809, continuing for several terms. He was a cripple, and resided in what is now Greenwood Township. Solomon Jennings held sway a little later for several years. He was quite an old bachelor, and resided in Venango County. Joshua McCracken, of near Evan's Ferry, Mercer County, followed. The school
books were the Bible, American Preceptor, Daboll's and Dilworth's Arithmetics and Webster's Spelling Book. In 1834 there were three schools; at present, five.
Shaw's Landing is a station on the Franklin Branch Railroad, in the northwest part of the township.
A Postoffice of the same name is located here. This was a shipping point on the canal, and a place of some importance. A store, cheese factory and oil refinery have been in operation, but all are now removed. Shaw's Landing Grange, No. 164, P. of H., was organized with about thirty members in March, 1875. J. M. Beatty was the first Master. The present membership is fifty-five, and meetings are held on alternate Saturday evenings.
Pettis Postoffice is located in the northeastern part.
Stitzerville is a hamlet of several houses and Wolf's grist and saw-mill, on Little Sugar Creek. On Mud Run, about a mile and a half northwest, near the north line of the township, is Jeanot's saw and
St. Mark's Reformed, formerly German Reformed, Congregation, was organized some time prior to
1858 by Rev. J. Kretzing. Henry Stitzer, Mathias Flaugh, James Marley, George Wier, Samuel Doutt and Philip Hart were the leading early members. The church building is a commodious frame structure, located on the turnpike, in the northern part of the township. The corner stone was laid in September, 1867, and it was dedicated July 12, 1868. Rev. Kretzing was succeeded in the pastorate by Rev. Josiah May, and he in 1877 by Rev. J. W. Pontius, the present pastor. Revs. Leberman and Ernst had conducted services in this vicinity prior to the formation of the society. The membership is now about eighty.
Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, located on the extreme northern line of East Fairfield, is a
handsome frame structure, erected about 1844. The members had previously belonged to St. Hippolytus
Congregation at Frenchtown, and among the earliest and most prominent who assisted in the erection of Sts. Peter and Paul were: Dennis Verrin, John B. Champigne, John C. Vernier and John Le Favrier. Father Mark De La Roque was the first and only pastor until Father Eugene Cogneville, the present priest, took charge. The congregation has been reduced in membership by the formation of St. Stephen' Church at Cochranton, and now includes about thirty families.
Kingsley Chapel, a Methodist Episcopal structure, 32x45 in size, erected at a cost of $2,000, was
dedicated in August, 1872, at which time the leading members were: L. O. Byham and wife, E. W. Smith and wife, J. B. Morris and wife, Mrs. Johnson, Henry Marley, George Marley and wife and Hannah McFarland. The class had worshiped in schoolhouses in this vicinity for thirty years previous to the erection of the church, its earliest members consisting of: D. Morris, Sarah Wentworth, E. K. Gaston, John Wentworth and Hannah McFarland. The membership is now twenty-five, and the society is adjoined to Cochranton Circuit.
BOROUGH OF COCHRANTON.
Cochranton Borough was created by order of the Court of Quarter Sessions April 5, 1855, in
response to a petition presented by C. Cochran and twenty-nine other residents of the village. The first election was held April 14, 1855, when James Greer was elected Burgess and Charles Cochran, D. M. Devore, <page 536> Samuel Markle, William T. Dunn and Hugh Smith, Council. The Burgesses subsequently elected have been: 1856, Hugh Smith; 1857, John Crouch; 1858, William E. Byers; 1859, D. M. Devore; 1860, Henry Sweetwood; 1861, W. E. Byers; 1862, James Martin; 1863, Joseph Evans;
1864, Henry Sweetwood; 1865, James Greer; 1866-67, Henry Sweetwood; 1868, Andrew G. Apple; 1869, D. M. Devore; 1870, James Greer; 1871-72, James B. Fleming, who died while in office in 1872; the vacancy was filled in July, 1872, by the election of Truman Beeman; 1873, Truman Beeman; 1874, Thomas Shafer; 1875-76, Henry Sweetwood; 1877, James Coley; 1878, Gilbert Doubet, who resigned in September, 1878, to accept the office of Postmaster; the vacancy was filled by the election of David Adams; in 1879 a tie occurred in the election, and the office was filled by appointments of the council; 1880, D. H. McFate; 1881-82, James G. Fleming; 1883-84, Samuel H. Nelson.
This is the most important village in the southern portion of the county, and received its name from
the first owners and settlers of its soil. Joseph Cochran, son of Thomas Cochran, who had settled in Wayne Township, about a mile east of the village, received from his father the south part of Tract 1291, in which the heart of the village lies, and settled upon it at an early date. His frame house stood on the north side of Adams Street, on the site of Alexander Patton's brick residence. Charles Cochran, who was only distantly, if at all, related to the above, was probably the first settler within the limits of the borough, though not in the village proper. Probably as early as 1800 he emigrated from the Susquehanna River, and settled on that part of Tract 1289, which is northeast of French Creek, now known as the McFate Farm, a half mile south of the village. He there engaged in farming until his
death. His sons were John, James, Alexander, Lacy and Robert. James was an early Justice of the
Peace, and a prominent man. He was more generally known as Col. Cochran, and kept a tavern and store on the old home farm for many years. During the war of 1812 a rough log-fort was erected on this farm, as a protection against a threatened Indian invasion, and in it the people, mostly women of the neighborhood, once assembled: most of the able bodied men at this time serving at Erie.
John Adams, formerly from Mifflintown, after tarrying for a year or two in Butler County, settled on
Tract 1292 in the eastern part of the borough in 1802, and remained here until his death in 1855. His
descendants are yet numerous in this vicinity. In 1802 Mr. Adams erected a saw-mill. In 1808 or 1809
he added a grist-mill where the Cochranton Mills now stand, and as early as 1825 operated a carding-mill at the same place. John Adams disposed of the mill to his son James. Mr. Mourer was the next owner, and under his proprietorship, about 1845, the property was destroyed by fire. The mills were rebuilt in 1846 by John Whitman, who soon after sold them to George Merriman, from whom the present proprietors, Smith Brothers, purchased them.
John Bell, a cabinet-maker, moved in about 1828 from Allegheny County. George Henry, a few years later, opened a store. The population in 1840 comprised about a dozen families. The postoffice
was at first kept on the pike east of the village, and about 1852 Hugh Smith became the first Postmaster at Cochranton. The growth of the village has been gradual but constant. The Franklin Branch of the N. Y., P. & O. Railroad passes through it and affords facilities which have greatly improved the place.
As now constituted, the borough consists of Tract 1292 and portions of Tracts 1291, 1289 and 1288
of the Sixth Donation District. The territory, except the fraction of Tract 1288, which was detached from Wayne, lies in the <page 537> [blank] <page 538> [portrait of S. W. Keppler] <page b>539> southeast corner of East Fairfield Township. The village is situated on French Creek, at the mouth of Little Sugar Creek. It had in 1860 a population of 250; in 1870, of 459, and in 1880 of 645.
It now contains five dry goods stores, two groceries, two hardware stores, one furniture store, two
undertaking establishments, three drug stores, two clothing stores, one boot and shoe store, three meat markets and a bakery. Among its industrial establishments may be reckoned a flouring mill, owned by Smith Bros.; a saw-mill, owned by John Nelson; a planing-mill, operated by A. Gaston; a broom factory, operated by the Burchard Bros.; E. W. Shippen & Co.'s dowel factory, two wagon and carriage shops, two harness shops, a stave-mill and cooper shop, two shoe shops and two blacksmith shops. The village also possesses three hotels, two banks, a newspaper, four physicians, a dentist, a good school, five secret societies, four churches and three livery stables.
The schoolhouse is an old frame structure, built in 1855, and located at the southeast corner of Smith and Pine Streets. It contains three apartments, and is insufficient to accommodate the increasing school
population of the village. Two frame, one-story district schoolhouses preceded the present edifice. Both stood on the north side of Adams Street, the first at the site of the Cochranton Savings Bank.
The Cochranton Times was launched into the world in November, 1878, by R. H. Odell, who continued [as] its publisher and editor until the spring of 1880, when C. A. Bell, the present proprietor, purchased the property. It is an independent newspaper and is issued every Friday. The Trigon was the
first newspaper venture, but after a brief and disastrous career it came to an end shortly before the Times
The first church organization in the village was what is now the United Presbyterian. It was
organized about 1827 as an Associate Reformed Church, and for many years was connected with the old Conneaut Church in the northeast part of Fairfield Township. Among the earliest members were: Joseph and James Cochran, William McKnight, David Blair, John Adams and John Fulton. Early meetings were held in the barn of Joseph Cochran, but about 1834, the present frame meetinghouse was erected at the northeast corner of Pine and Smith Streets. Rev. Samuel F. Smith, the first pastor, commenced service in 1828, and maintained the pastoral relation until his death in 1846. Rev. H. H. Thompson, the second pastor, served from 1848 to the spring of 1865. He was succeeded in December, 1865, by Rev. David Donnan, the present pastor. The membership is 191.
The Presbyterian Church of Cochranton, had the following origin: about 1848, a division occurred in the Cochranton Associate Reformed or United Presbyterian Church, the seceding members organizing a
Covenanter or Reformed Presbyterian Congregation. In 1852 a church building, still in use, and situated on Franklin Street, was erected at an original cost of $800. It was changed from the Pittsburgh Reformed Presbytery to the Erie Presbytery, September 26, 1867, during the pastorate of Rev. David Patton, who was installed June 27, 1866. The Elders at this time were: Robert Gourley, William Smith, Joseph Nelson and William Gourley, Sr. Rev. Patton continued pastor until 1869. The pulpit was then supplied by Presbytery until 1877, when Rev. A. Z. McGogney became pastor, and was in charge four years. Rev. W. C. Wakefield, the present pastor, succeeded in December, 1881. The present membership is 116, and the session consists of Joseph Nelson, William Gourley, W. L. Gourley and C. W. Heydrick.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by Rev. William Patterson in January, 1839, with
twelve members, of whom E. P. Slocum is the sole survivor. The church building located on Pine Street was built in 1843 at a <page 538> cost of $900, and remodeled in 1870. Cochranton Circuit was formed in 1855, and has had the following pastors: 1855, S. S. Stuntz; 1856-57, R. Gray; 1858, J. Marsh; 1859, J. Abbott; 1860, N. C. Brown; 1861-62, J. C. Sullivan; 1862, W. A. Clark; 1863, J. W. Hill; 1864, P. B.
Sherwood; 1865-66, P. Burroughs; 1867-68, B. F. Delo; 1869-70, L. D. Williams; 1871, G. H. Brown; 1872, not filled; 1873, J. Abbott; 1874-75-76, R. C. Smith; 1877, J. W. Wright; 1878-79, J. F. Perry; 1880-81, M. V. Stone; 1882, George W. Clark; 1883 W. Hollister. The circuit has been frequently changed, and now consists of three appointments: Cochranton, Kingsly Chapel of East Fairfield Township, and Mumford appointment of Fairfield. The membership of the Cochranton Church is about ninety.
St. Stephen's Catholic Church of Cochranton was erected in 1874, on the south side of East Pine
Street, at a cost of $1,600, under the ministry of Father E. Cogneville, of Frenchtown, who is still the priest in charge. Services had been held for some time previous at the schoolhouse and residences. John Harding, John O'Neil, George Galmiche and Gilbert Doubet were early members. The congregation now numbers about thirty-five.
Cochranton Lodge, No. 902, I. O. O. F. was organized January 29, 1875. Its charter officers were: Michael Brown, N. G.; Alexander Patton, V. G.; S. H. Nelson, Secretary; M. T. Bell, Assistant Secretary; James C. Patton, Treasurer. The remaining charter members were: L. Whittling, Josiah May, John Burns, George E. Dilley, D. W. Graham, H. A. Johnson, Joseph A. McDonald, Hiram Oaks, Robert Suttly, J. A. Williams, C. N. McDonald and A. M. Jackson. The membership is now sixty-five, and meetings are held on Friday evenings.
Saunders Grange, No. 371, P. of H., was organized October 30, 1874, with twenty-seven members;
W. W. Dean was first Master; J. T. Reed, first Overseer, and D. Nodine, first Secretary. A grange store was started in March, 1880, and a co-operative bank in June, 1882, with W. S. Hosmer, President, and J. T. Reed, cashier. Meetings are held on the afternoons of the first and third Saturdays of each month. The membership is seventy-five.
Cochranton Lodge, No. 805, K. of H., was instituted November 20, 1877, with ten members:
Alexander Patton, Frank Baker, Jesse Moore, T. D. Sensor, J. H. Homan, J. G. Fleming, E. Ewing, F. S. Whitling, G. W. Slocum and J. P. Hassler. The lodge now numbers forty members and meets every Monday evening.
Evening Shade Council, No. 23, R. T. of T. was instituted January 13, 1879, and meets each alternate Tuesday evening. The membership is twenty-six. The first officers were R. H. Odell, S. C.; J. A.
Slocum, V. C.; N. N. Shepard, P. C. and Treasurer; Mrs. N. N. Shepard, Chaplain; Mrs. E. D. Hassler, Secretary; C. A. Miller, Herald; Carrie Odell, Guard; A. Manges, Sentinel; J. P. Hassler, Medical Examiner.
Cochranton Lodge, No. 168, A. O. U. W., was chartered with nineteen members January 12, 1880.
Its first officers were: John W. Kaster, P. M. W.; William First, M. W.; John H. W. Glazier, G. F.; C. Baughman, O.; Andrew Regan, Recorder; John D. Dunbar, Financier; Hugh Patton, Receiver; W. Pegan, G.; John Pressler, I. W.; Edward Best, 0. W. The membership is thirty-two, and meetings are held Thursday evenings.
The French Creek Valley Agricultural Society was organized in 1877, and has since held annual fairs
at Cochranton. They have been widely attended and eminently successful.
The Cochranton Cemetery Association was chartered in 1860. Its grounds comprise eight acres, lying just east of the borough, handsomely laid out in walks and drives.