Crawford County, Pennsylvania
History & Biography
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FEATURES—SETTLEMENTS—LAND TITLES—PIONEERS—SOLDIERS' TITLES—LATER
RANDOLPH is an interior eastern township, bounded on the north by Richmond, on the east by Steuben and Troy, on the south by Wayne and on the west by Mead. It was organized in 1824 from Mead, Rockdale and Oil Creek, and its original limits included the western part of' the Seventh Donation District, land which now comprises the northern half of Randolph, the greater part of Richmond and the western part of Troy, Steuben and Athens. The township was changed to its present outlines in 1829. The northern part is a portion of the Seventh Donation District, the southeast part of the Sixth Donation District, while the southwest corner is Holland
Company land. The area is 25,188 acres. The population in 1850 was 1,260; in 1860, 1,597; in 1870, 1,732, and in 1880, 1,869—a constant increase. The principal streams are Sugar Lake Creek, flowing southward into Wayne, and Woodcock Creek, passing northward into Richmond. The surface is rolling. The soil is well adapted to grazing, and produces good crops. A portion of the land in early times was marshy, but clearing has made it tillable. The chief varieties of woods were maple, beech, white and black ash, poplar, cucumber, cherry, chestnut, elm and oak.
The first settlement was made on the Holland tracts in the southwest part. The conditions of
residence and improvements on these lands, essential to maintain a valid title, stimulated the Holland Company to place an occupant on each tract at the earliest possible date. One hundred acres were offered as a gratuity for fulfilling the terms of settlement, and many Western emigrants gladly availed themselves of this opportunity to procure a little home. The records of the company exhibit the following, relative to the tracts in Randolph Township:
Tract 197, Beriah Battles purchased 75 acres in 1805; 198, Archibald Stewart purchased 153 acres in 1805; Tracts 199 and 213, James and John Brawley, 200 acres each, contract for settlement November 2, 1798, deed executed; Tract 200, Alexander and Joseph Johnson, 150 acres, July 22, 1797, deed executed to Alex Johnson, Jr.; Tract 212, Samuel Daniels, 150 acres, August 13, 1799; Tract 214, John Daniels, 100 acres, December 13, <page 596> 1799, deed executed to Andrew McFadden, Assignee; Tract 215, Abraham Daniels, 100 acres, July 9, 1801, deed executed; Tract 216, Daniel Daniels, 100 acres, December 13, 1799, deed delivered to Adam Stanbrook, assignee.
Both by the record above and by the tradition preserved by the oldest inhabitants the honor of
making the first settlement must be ascribed to Alexander and Joseph Johnson, father and son. Joseph Johnson, when a lad of but eighteen years, journeyed afoot from his home in Dauphin County to seek his fortune in the then Northwest. He reached Meadville about June 1, 1797, and thence proceeding eastward he selected a tract upon which to locate, and made a contract in his own and father's name with the Holland Company for its settlement. That same summer he built a small shanty, with roof of tree boughs, and dwelt therein till autumn, when he retraced his
steps to his old home. In the following spring, with his father's family, he again reached the Western wilderness. A rude log-hut was at once constructed and the arduous labor of pioneer life began. They settled on Tract 200 and there remained through life, one of the most prominent families of pioneer times. Alexander Johnson, Sr., died in 1823. His children were: Joseph, Alexander, Andrew, James, Margaret and Jane. James and Andrew moved away. Alexander and Joseph remained in the township through life. The latter died June 7, 1861.
James Brawley was the second pioneer. In 1797 or 1798, accompanied by his brother John,
who remained only a short time, he left his home in Lycoming County, and built a cabin on Tract 199. Clearing a small piece of land, he planted it with potatoes, procuring the seed at Franklin and carrying it upon his back through the woods up French and Sugar Creeks along an Indian path. He then joined a surveying party in Erie County, and in the fall returned to dig his potatoes. He found his cabin occupied by Indians, who supposing it abandoned had dug and eaten his potatoes and were preparing to depart. They opened their packages, and in compensation each shared with him his furs and dried meat. With the proceeds of these he purchased wheat, which he sowed and then returned to Lycoming County. The following spring, accompanied by his mother's family, he returned to his new home, arriving in June. The journey lasted six weeks and like all pioneer emigration in those times was attended with great difficulties. They made their way through the woods with an ox-team, driving before them
several cows, the milk from which was placed in a churn and converted into butter by the motion of the wagon. When the destination was reached Mr. Brawley had only 25 cents in money, and this was expended in the purchase of a quart of salt. No mills were accessible and the family subsisted for some time on frumenty. Mr. Brawley learned in the fall that a mill had been erected by the Holland Company on Pine Creek near Titusville, and putting four bushels of wheat upon an ox, he started for the mill through the trackless forest with only a pocket compass for a guide. Six days were consumed in the trip. At night he removed the load from the ox and turned it out to browse, while he built a fire beside which he encamped, and to which the ox would come when it had appeased its hunger. James Brawley was Justice of the Peace for many years. He and Alexander Johnson took the contract to carry the mail once a week between Meadville and Mayville, N. Y. The journey they performed alternately on horseback, and commencing as early as 1818, continued for a number of years. Mr. Brawley was married in 1800 to Mary, daughter of William Glenn, of Mead Township. He died at the age of seventy four, leaving nine children, five of whom survive, the eldest, Francis, aged seventy-eight years, a resident of Mead Township. Hugh Brawley, a <page 597> brother of James, accompanied him to this township and settled on Tract 213, where he remained through life. He married Lucy Daniels and left six children. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church.
Of the other settlers of the Holland Tracts, the Daniels were a numerous family. There were:
Samuel, John, Daniel and Abraham, and their sisters Mary, wife of Andrew McFadden, Sarah, wife of Joseph Armstrong, and Lucy, wife of Hugh Brawley. All were farmers, and all settled in Randolph, except John who first settled in Mead Township, and died in Richmond. All were members of the Methodist Church, and Abraham was a local minister. Daniel built a small powder-mill prior to 1810, and supplied his neighbors, fond of hunting, with gunpowder. Amos Daniels was also a pioneer. Beriah Battles, who contracted to settle Tract 199 and an adjoining one in Mead Township, built his cabin on the township line at Frenchtown. He did not remain long here, but emigrated to Ohio. Adam Stanbrook was a settler of Mead Township. Archibald Stewart came from Lycoming County and settled on Tract 198, where he remained engaged in farming till death. In his earlier life he also followed weaving. He was a Presbyterian and left a large family, now widely scattered. Andrew McFadden, who settled on Tract 214, remained there till death, leaving a family which is now scattered. He was a Methodist.
The settlement of the Donation Districts occurred much later. Few of the soldiers who drew
tracts here made settlement, and for many years the ownership of much of the land was unknown, but held by non-residents. Isaac Berlin, a Revolutionary soldier, drew Tract 1501 in the extreme northwestern corner of the township. He brought his family to it from across the mountains and commenced a settlement. The solitude or unresponsive character of the soil proved irksome and he soon left, purchasing a farm on French Creek in Woodcock Township. A Revolutionary hero named Mehaffy is remembered as a settler for a short time. Dennis Kane, however, was the only soldier of the Revolution who made a permanent settlement within the
township. He was an Irishman, and settled prior to 1810, perhaps as early as 1805, on Tract 1181 in the southern part of the township. He built his cabin in the woods several miles remote from any habitation and remained a life-long and respected citizen. Michael Radle was the foremost pioneer of the northern part. He was by birth a German, and in 1806 emigrated with his family from Philadelphia and settled on Tract 1448, about one and a half miles northeast from Guy's Mills. For many years he had no neighbors nearer than three or four miles, but with
the aid of his sons, William, Andrew and John, he industriously cleared and tilled the land and remained its life-long occupant. His grandchildren still possess the soil.
In 1815 the township showed few if any indications of habitation save the little clearings made by the above settlers. The donation lands were unclaimed by their owners and large numbers of the donation tracts were sold by the County Commissioners for delinquent taxes. A company consisting of Jacob Guy, Melanchthon Wheeler and Troop Barney, all of Whitehall, Washington Co., N. Y., purchased a large quantity of land at the tax sale. Another company composed of George Barney, Ward Barney and William A. Moore, of Washington County, N. Y., also made large investments in these tax titles, and sold their claims to incoming settlers. Extensive litigation grew out of these sales, the representatives of the soldiers often appearing and contesting the validity of the tax sales. Compromises were sometimes effected, but the original warrantees often maintained their claims and the tax titles were in consequence viewed with distrust. There were tracts within the district which had not been drawn by the soldiers. These could be entered by any settler and the title secured by paying to the State the amount required by law.
Jacob Guy, a member of tbe first company mentioned above, in 1815 immigrated to the township, after having resided for two years at Meadville. He was born near Concord, N. H, and was a graduate of Dartmouth College. He settled at Guy's Mills, was the first Justice of the Peace, and was prominently identified with the interests of the township, in the development of which he was largely instrumental. A large portion of the early settlers on the Donation land hailed from Washington County, N. Y. Among the earliest to arrive after Mr. Guy, in 1815 or 1816, were Russell Matteson, Joel Jones and Moses Gilbert. Mr. Matteson settled on Tract 1419, about two miles east of Guy's Mills, Mr. Jones on 1455, south of the village, and Mr. Gilbert who came in 1818, also on 1419.
Other pioneers from Washington County, N. Y., who came before 1824, most of them several years before, were: Andrew Braymer, Elkanah Barney, Joshua Barlow, Ezra Carpenter, Isaac Childs, Hiram Cornwall, Alfred Curt!s, Samuel Hatch, Luke Hotchkiss, James McLaughlin, Nathan Southwick and Joseph Whitney. Andrew Braymer settled on Tract 1462 in the northern part of the township; Elkanah Barney came prior to 1821 and settled on Tract 1492, a mile southwest from Guy's Mills; Joshua Barlow about 1824, on Tract 1494 on the west line of the
township; Ezra Carpenter before 1821, on 1491, west of Guy's Mills; Isaac Childs in 1821, on 1410, in the northeast part; Hiram Cornwall, who a few years later moved away, on 1383, in the extreme eastern part; Alfred Curtis, on 1458; Samuel Hatch, who came in February, 1821, on 1461, in the northern part; Luke Hotchkiss on 1494, in the western part; James McLaughlin, who was originally from Vermont, on 1486, in the northwestern part; Nathan Southwick, who came
in 1821 on 1457, near Guy's Mills; Joseph Whitney was here but a short time.
The following were also residents of the Seventh Donation District in this township in 1824, many of them having settled years before. Philip Cutshall was one of the earliest. He was a Pennsylvania German, and came with his sons, George, Jacob and John, from his home in Cumberland County. The date of their arrival was 1814. Philip secured a farm on Tract 1450, afterward the home of his son Jacob; George on Tract 1447, and John on Tract 1422, all in the northern part of the township. Leonard Hall came in 1817, and settled on Tract 1484, more familiarly known as Hickory Corners, in the northern part of the township. He walked all the way from Vermont, was married in 1820, and remained a life-long resident of the township. William Waid came in 1816 from the State of New York and settled on Tract 1458, just north of Guy's Mills. His brothers, Seth and Warner, settled on 1459, an adjoining tract. James Wyman came to Tract 1451, near the township center, in 1820 or \earlier; he died near Conneaut Lake. John Dickson, a carpenter, came from Boston and remained till death on Tract 1457, near Guy's Mills. John and Nathaniel Davidson, brothers from Massachusetts, settled on Tract 1460, north of Guy's Mills. Thomas McFadden, who was reared in this county, purchased and cleared a farm on Tract 1424, in the northeast part. John Pearl, who died in Richmond Township, settled on Tract 1421. William Stewart, the son of Archibald Stewart, obtained a home on Tract 1412, in the eastern part. Elias Thayer settled early on Tract 1453.
In the southeast part of the township, within the Sixth Donation District, John Oaks was one of the first settlers. He came with a large family from Massachusetts about 1816, and remained until death. John Byham also came early, and Lemuel Smith and Jonas Byham, both from Worcester County, Mass., had settled here before the organization of the township. Messrs. Pickett and McKay were also early settlers. James Douglas had settled in <page 599> this region prior to 1810, but later removed to Meadville, where he died. The period of the most rapid immigration was probably from 1820 to 1830, though it was many years later before the township was thoroughly settled.
James Brawley built the first saw-mill. It stood on his farm and obtained its power from a
small branch of Sugar Creek. A year or two later Jacob Guy erected one in the wilderness at Guy's Mills. George Cutshall soon after constructed one, and in time they were started in various parts of the township. Quite a number are yet in operation, including Carpenter's, Horace Sikes' and Squire Sikes', all on Woodcock Creek, and Bousson's, Kightlinger's, Streit's, Byham and Woodcock's, Bauchot's and Hank's Steam Mills in the southern part.
The earliest school in the township was taught by John Kane, a son of Dennis Kane, about 1813, in a little log-schoolhouse which stood on Tract 212, near the southwestern corner of the township. The Johnsons, Brawleys, McDills and Daniels attended. Henry Thurston, son of David Thurston, of Mead Township, and Allison DeFrance, son of James DeFrance, another pioneer of the same township, also taught here. A second log-schoolhouse was reared in the same vicinity about 1820, and Allison DeFrance was its first teacher. An early school was held in the upper story of a barn near Guy's Mills by Miss Mary H. Guy.
Guy's Mills, the only village of the township, is located in the western part. It is surrounded
by a rich agricultural region, and is the chief trading-point of the farming community for many miles around. Its population in 1880 was only 150, increased now to about 200, yet the village contains four general stores, filled with a much greater and more varied stock of goods than is usually found in places of its size. Jacob Guy made the first settlement here in 1815, the region about it being then an unbroken wilderness. A year or two later he built a saw-mill, and one has ever since been in operation. About 1828 Noah Hall offered a small stock of goods for sale, and for several years supplied the neighboring citizens with a few commodities. Jacob Guy opened a store of much greater magnitude about 1833, and maintained it many years. James Foreman about 1838 opened the first tavern. A postoffice was secured. About 1860 the village consisted only of perhaps a half a dozen houses, a store and a saw-mill. A few years later it began to increase in size, and has been slowly and steadily growing since. Besides its general stores it contains a tin-shop, a harness shop, two blacksmith shops, two carriage shops, two furniture stores, an excellent hotel, a feed and grain store, a new steam and water grist-mill, a saw-mill, a
fine school building of two apartments, erected about 1872 at a cost of $1,600, two physicians, three societies and three handsome frame churches.
Randolph Grange, No. 190, P. of H., which meets here, was organized in 1875 with P. M. Cutshall as Master. It meets the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, and has a membership of about fifty.
Harmony Lodge, No. 863, K. of H., was instituted January 26, 1878, with nine charter members, as follows: D. S. Cutler, E. S. Cutler, H. E. Hatch, J. A. Graham, W. N. Gilbert, A. N. Curtis, G. Bentley, D. C. Blanchard and C. Hatch. The membership is now forty-seven. Meetings are held every Saturday night.
Loyal Council, No. 26, R. T. of T., was instituted with twenty-five members, January 21, 1879. Its first officers were: E. S. Cutler, S. C.; Lewis Oaks, V. C.; Samuel Ford, P. C.; S. S. Sikes, Chaplain; A. J. Hanks, Secretary; M. W. Hall, Treasurer; C. L. Hall, Herald; James W. Braymer, Guard; George Lemmon, Sentinel. Meetings are held each alternate Tuesday. The membership is twenty-nine.
The Baptist Church of Guy's Mills was organized as "Mead Baptist Church" at Dewey's Corners, Mead Township, in 1820, with the following ten members: Joel Jones and his wife Rhoda, Mrs. Lovey Wood, Benjamin Sweney and his wife Mehitable, John Pratt and Rebecca, his wife, Russell Matteson and wife Phebe, and Levi Dewey. Large accessions were soon after made, including Jacob Jenins, Samuel Hatch, Andrew Braymer, Moses H. Pike, Alfred Curtis, John Chapman, Ezra Carpenter, Calvin Hatch, Samuel Hall and others. For a year meetings
were held in Mead Township, then in the schoolhouse at Guy's Mills until 1826, when a frame meeting-house, the first religious structure in the township, was erected on the site of the present structure, which was completed in 1868 at a cost of $1,800. Rev. Oliver Alfred was the first pastor. The following have succeeded him: Elders George Miller, Adrian Foot, Enos Stewart, Thomas R. Clark, Norman Thomas, Levi Howard, Zabina Leavitt, George A. Hubbard, George Snyder, Edward H. Hovey, Elder Adams and others. Elder Alcott Thomas is the present pastor. The membership is thirty-seven. This was the first Baptist Church organized in Crawford County east of French Creek, and several other congregations in adjoining townships have been formed from its membership.
The Methodist society at Guy's Mills had its origin in a small class organized about 1822, at the house of Daniel Hunt, in Richmond Township. Worship was continued in that township until about 1848, when a frame structure, called Pisgah Church, was built at "Hickory Corners," in the northern part of Randolph. Delos Crouch, Daniel and Luther Hunt were at that time leading members. Services were conducted here until 1871, when a society was formed at Guy's Mills from the membership of Pisgah Church and a few members from Mount Hope. In 1871 the handsome frame edifice was reared at a cost of $3,500. Since then this congregation has been a part of Townvile Circuit, except from 1881 to 1883, when it was attached to Meadville Circuit. The membership is about seventy.
The First Congregational Church of Randolph was organized as a Presbyterian and Congregational society October 31, 1825, and as a Congregational Church in 1839. Rev. Amos Chase, of Titusville, and Rev. Timothy Alden, of Meadville, held early Presbyterian services in this locality before the church was formed. Its leading early members were: Jacob Guy and wife, Archie Stewart and wife, Ichabod Parker and wife, John Kane and wife, Mrs. James Brawley, Warner Waid, Seth Waid and wife, James McLaughlin and wife, Mrs. Hugh Brawley, and Joshua Barlow and wife. Meetings were held at the schoolhouse until 1845, when a frame church was erected at Guy's Mills. Rev. L. L. Radcliff was an early minister for many years. The church was in 1871 remodeled and enlarged at a cost of about $5,000. Since then the Pastors have been: Revs. Sexton, Samuel Walker, R. F. Markham, Irons, Roseboro and S. H. Thompson. The membership is 140.
Methodist meetings were held at the cabins of the Daniels in the southwest part of the township as early as 1812. They were continued regularly until about 1825, when a powerful revival swelled the membership, and a frame church, known as "Guy's," was built about a half mile south from Guy's Mills. Leading members then were: John Smith, David Jones, David Hanks, Reuben Smith, Thomas Wilder and William Waid. The society was regularly maintained here until 1858, when, the building having become dilapidated, Mount Hope Church was built at
a cost of $900, on a lot donated by Levi Oaks, on Oil Creek road, in the southern part of the township, the society erecting it consisting of the congregations of the old Guy's Church, and the members of a class which had been organized aboat a year before a mile <page 601> further south in Wayne Township. Prominent members at that time were: D. W. Bannister, Joel Smith, Stephen Reese, John Oaks and Smith Byham. The membership is fifty-eight. The society is a part of Townville Circuit.
Near the southeast corner of the township stands East Randolph Church, erected in 1866 at a cost of $1,275. The society was formed in 1850 by Rev. Edwin Hull, the first Pastor, and, until the erection of the church, worshiped in the schoolhouse on the opposite side of the road. Mark Bogardus and wife, Nicholas Bogardus and wife and Mr. Loveless were early members. The society now numbers about thirty members, and is attached to Sunville Circuit, composed of five appointments, four of which are in Venango County.