Crawford County, Pennsylvania
History & Biography
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BOUNDARIES—PHYSICAL FEATURES—DONATION LANDS—SOLDIERS'
CLAIMS—PIONEERS—TANNERY—MILLS—CHEESE FACTORIES—EARLY SCHOOLS—NEW
RICHMOND is an interior eastern township, bounded on the north by Rockdale, on the east by Athens and Steuben, on the south by Randolph, and on the west by Woodcock. It is approximately six miles square, and has an area of 20,993 acres. Woodcock Creek, flowing westward through the southern part, is the principal stream. Muddy Creek crosses the northeast corner, where it is met by Mackey Creek, flowing eastward through the northern part. The surface in general is rolling. Wide valleys skirt the streams, and from them gradual slopes arise, above which, ridges comparatively level are found. In the southeast part are some lowlands. On the ridges the timber is principally oak and chestnut, with an admixture of hickory, beech and
other species. The soil is here a gravelly clay. On the low, wet lands, hemlock timber prevails, and where the lowland is dry are found beech and maple trees interspersed with white ash, butternut, cucumber and other varieties. The soil in the lowlands is a gravelly loam.
Richmond Township consists mainly of land belonging to the Seventh Donation District. In
the northern part is a narrow strip, a portion of the Eighth Donation District, and between the two is a gore, having an average width in this township of perhaps a half a mile, which, by the inaccuracy of the early surveys, was included in neither Seventh nor Eighth Donation Districts. All that part within the Seventh District was a portion of Mead Township until 1824, when Randolph was organized, while the narrow strip along the northern border remained a part of
Rockdale until 1829, when Richmond was erected from parts of Rockdale and Randolph. By act of April 23, 1829, the place for holding elections was fixed at the house of Joseph Clark. The population in 1850 was 1,139; in 1860, 1,640; in 1870, 1,399; and in 1880, 1,490.
Although the land of Richmond was set apart by the State in payment to her Revolutionary soldiers for their services, no veteran is known to have made this his home. The warrant granted him by the Commonwealth for a tract of western land was held in low repute, and often bartered for a trifle to land <page 602> speculators, who often searched out the scattered heroes of the Revolution and obtained their titles. No concerted action similar to that put forth by the land companies in the western part of the county was made, nor was any possible. If, perchance, a venturesome pioneer obtained a warrant for land, he had not the power of selection, but must find the lot from among hundreds of other lots, and the probabilities were that it would be many miles remote from any other habitation. This and many other reasons conspired to delay the
settlement of Richmond and adjacent military land long after other portions of the county were occupied. It was not till 1817 that the first successful effort to wrest a home from this silent wilderness was made. A previous occupation of the soil by several families had been made in the northeast portion of the township, little patches of ground were cleared and planted, but, whether driven by the desolateness of the region and tiring of their long-continued isolation from other settlements, or discouraged by an unproductive soil, they abandoned their cabins after a few years' residence prior to 1817. Among these transitory settlers were George Miller, who afterward settled in Rockdale, and a Mr. Falkonburg.
Ebenezer Hunt, still living at the age of eighty-eight on the farm he first settled, was the first
permanent pioneer. He left his native State, Vermont, in the fall of 1815, and traveling most of the way on foot, reached Erie County, where he passed the winter. The next winter he spent at Meadville, and in the spring of 1817, having purchased from James Herrington for $500 Tract 1,466, containing 200 acres, which had been sold at commissioners' sale for taxes, Ebenezer and his brother Daniel Hunt, both unmarried, made their way through the tangled forest from Guy's Mills, then the nearest habitation, to their purchase. A brush camp, hastily erected beside a fallen hemlock, served as a shelter until the two brothers, without any assistance, built a round-log cabin, about twelve by fourteen feet. With their axes a floor was split out from the timber, a rude door was fashioned, and a table and other articles provided, as they brought no furniture with them. Their rude dwelling and desolate environment was the typical backwoods home, the same, with trifling difference, that every pioneer possessed, and which a life-time of unremitting toil scarcely sufficed to surround with ordinary conveniences. Ebenezer Hunt was married in 1822 to Lavinia Hatch, of Randolph Township, and has since passed his life, till beset with the infirmities of age, in tilling the soil. Daniel Hunt was also married here, and about thirty years ago removed with his family to Wisconsin, and died in.Iowa. David Hunt, the father of Ebenezer and Daniel, emigrated with his family in 1820 and settled with his sons, remaining until death.
In 1817 another settlement was made in the northern part of the township by Gould M. Lord, a young man hailing from Connecticut. He remained many years, and his two brothers and father took up residences in the same locality. Michael Bresee, from Ontario County, N. Y., arrived in 1819, and settled in the northern part of the township, where he died. He was an active, energetic pioneer. About the same time Russell Flint, from Chautauqua County, N. Y., settled on the State road, about one and a half miles east of New Richmond. He was a
Methodist, and remained on his farm until his decease in old age. William Sanborn came about 1820 with his brothers, David, Moses and Samuel, and their parents from Canada, and settled on Tract 1437 in the north part of the township. A short time after all left this region except William, who remainod awhile, removed from place to place, and died in the summer of 1881 at Townville. He was a Baptist. Equally as early was the settlement of George Miles, a sea Captain from New Haven, Conn., <page 603> who became a resident of the northern part of Richmond. His early occupation proved the master passion, and he went to Erie and resumed his sea-faring life. Chester Jones was a neighbor to Miles in his backwoods home, and likewise
moved away. Robert Townley, a native of Ireland, emigrated to Erie County, and thence came to Richmond in 1821, settling in the southwest part, and remaining through life. Jasper Lyon, from Whitehall, N. Y., about 1818 emigrated to the Cussewago, and in 1821 came to Tract 1442, where he spent the remainder of his life. Hollus Hull, from Washington County, N. Y., came in 1822. Ananias Phillips, from the same county, emigrated in 1824, in which year Jesse Wheelock, a native of New Hampshire, removed to Richmond from Erie County. Other early
settlers were: Joseph Miller and Joseph Clark, from Washington County, N. Y., Samuel, Gilbert, John and Israel Cannon, John White and Isaac Baldwin, from Chautauqua County, N. Y., and Thomas Delamater. It was about 1820 that active settlement began, but twenty years later there was still much unoccupied land in the township.
Thomas Delamater was born in Whitehall, N. Y., July 15, 1798. In 1822 he came with his wife and one child to Crawford County, remaining for a short time in Athens Township, near Centreville. Doubting the integrity of his title to the land here, he removed to the western part of Richmond, where he spent the main part of his life. He died November 26, 1868, at Townville, whither he had removed several years previous, leaving seven children.
In 1826 the township was made memorable by the settlement of John Brown, the rash, impetuous foe of negro slavery. He was born in Torrington, Conn., May 9, 1800, and at the age of five removed with his father to Hudson, Ohio, where at the age of fifteen he commenced under his father the tanner's trade. Deep religious convictions led him to a course of study with a view to the Congregational ministry, but inflammation of the eyes obliged him to relinquish it. He married Dianthe Lusk in 1820, and six years later adopted a pioneer life by his removal to this township. He settled on an uncleared tract, 1432, situated immediately south of what is now
New Richmond Postoffice, and here erected a tannery, a quaint and small stone structure, still pointed out to the passing traveler and now used as a jelly factory. Besides attending to his trade he cleared a large farm and engaged in stockraising. bringing the first blooded cattle into the township. He at once became an energetic, prominent young citizen in the community, and bore the reputation of strictest integrity and veracity. It is averred that he refused to sell his leather until it was completely dry as human ingenuity could make it, that his customers might not suffer by the least decrease in weight. By his efforts a mail route was secured and himself appointed
Postmaster. He organized a Congregational Church, which, however, had not sufficient strength to long outlive his departure. His wife died in 1832, and the year following he married Miss Mary A. Day, of Meadville. In 1835 he removed to Franklin Mills, Ohio. While in Richmond Township he was a strong advocate of slavery abolition, but withal maintained the confidence and esteem of both political friend and foe. His many neighbors, Republicans and Democrats alike, deplored his fate, and if not in accord with his philanthropic sentiments threw the mantle of charity over his rash deeds by believing his impulses for the liberation of the African race too powerful to be restrained.
The tannery of John Brown was the first in the township. After his removal it was operated
for awhile by Rev. Butt, a Methodist minister, then by Ira Clark. After a lengthy period of repose it was converted into a cheese-factory, and in the autumn of 1883 it was occupied as a jelly factory and <page 604> corn-grinding mill, which latter uses it at present subserves. About a half mile below Lyona, on Woodcock Creek, Jasper Lyons constructed an early sawmill. Before getting it ready for operation he sold it to Anthony Phillips. It was little used. A second mill was built on the same site about 1850 by Alonson Lyon. It has repeatedly changed hands, and is now owned by Mr. Sybrant. A small corn-cracker is attached to it. Capt. Miles in early times erected a saw-mill on a branch of Muddy Creek, about two miles north from New Richmond. W. W. Green owns a steam saw-mill in the east part of the township, and William Morse one in the north part. Three cheese factories are in operation: Stewart's, in the southeast part; Morse's, in the northern, and Pinney & Nodine's, in the western. Dairying and lumbering are both actively engaged in.
The first school in the south part of the township was held in 1826 in the newly completed barn of Ebenezer Hunt. His sister, Sarah Hunt, was the teacher, and her compensation was $1 per week. A single term was held here, the children of Jasper Lyon, David Stewart and others attending. The northern part of the township was equally destitute of early school accommodations, and about the same time a term was held in a newly built corn-crib and hog-pen combined on the farm of Gould M. Lord. Probably the first schoolhouse in the township was a small log building erected near the present Baptist Church. Titus Johnson and George Delamater were early teachers in it.
Richmond is a rural township, containing no villages. New Richmond is a hamlet and a postoffice, located about a half mile east of the township center. It includes two stores, a town-house, a grange hall, a blacksmith-shop, the John Brown jelly factory and a half dozen dwellings. David Stewart and Ira Clark kept the first store, as early or earlier than 1835. It stood about a half mile east of New Richmond. Ira Clark was also the first merchant at the site of this hamlet, opening his stock of goods for sale about 1835.
The only other postoffice in the township is Lyona, situated in the southern part. Here may be found a store, a church, schoolhouse, shoe-shop, blacksmith-shop and several families. The office was established in 1868, and has had the following Postmasters: T. A. Stewart, John Fross, B. L. Lyon, D. B. Chapin and G. L. Sybrant. During its brief term of life it has rejoiced in three names: first Lyon's Hollow, then Lines, now Lyona. A postoffice was !ormerly kept a short time at Teepletown, in the north part of the township.
Within the limits of the township are three places of general burial: Townley's graveyard, in the western part; Lyon's, near Lyona, and one at New Richmond.
The first religions organization in the township was a Methodist class formed about 1822 by Rev. Hatton, in the cabin of Daniel Hunt. Jasper Lyon, David Hunt and wife, Ananias Phillips, John Davidson, Luther Wilder and Delos Crouch were among its earliest members. For a little while the class worshiped in the cabin of Mr. Hunt, then a schoolhouse was built in the western part of Tract 1466, wherein services were held until about 1848. A meeting-house was then erected at Hickory Corners, Randolph Township, and the home of the society passed without the limits of Richmond.
A Congregational Church was formed during the residence in the township of John Brown, who was its leading spirit. Besides him Calvin Wilder and wife and a few others were members. Meetings were held for a time in the second floor of Brown's tannery and in a schoolhouse, but the congregation was not sufficient numerically to maintain existence very long.
Richmond Baptist Church was organized December 25, 1841, with fifteen constituent members, including Ebenezer Hunt and wife, Mrs. Elizabeth <page 605> Hatch, Osman Stewart
and wife, Benjamin Carr and wife, Miss Minerva Miller, Mrs. Eunice Mason, Ephraim Blackmer and wife, Samuel Little and wife and Elder E. H. Stewart and wife. Meetings were first held in a log schoolhouse which stood at the corners near the present church, then in a schoolhouse near Sybrant's store, next in the present schoolhouse, erected partly through subscriptions from the congregation. uutil the present structure was erected in 1866. It is situated in the northwest part of Tract 1443, near Lyona Postoffice, and cost $3,500. Revs. E. H. Stewart, Warren Bradford, William Lamb, C. W. Drake, G. W. Snyder, Jacob Morris, John Owens, C. T. Jack, Carey Stewart and O. Thomas have served the congregation as pastors. The membership is now about one hundred.
In the southeast part of the township, on Tract 1428 is a Spiritualist Church, erected about 1874, on land donated by Jesse Winans. Besides him Cyrus Judd, Albert Winans and Benjamin Frankiin were early members. Prior to the erection of the church, meetings of this faith had been held for a long time but years have now elapsed since services were discontinued.
The township contains three edifices and three societies of the Methodist Episcopal Church. At New Richmond is a frame meeting-house, built in 1864 at a cost of $1,200. The class which worships here was organized about 1836 by Rev. Walter B. Lloyd, the first pastor. Ananias Phillips and wife, Russell Flint and wife and Hollis Hull were early members. Until the present church was erected services were held in the Griswold Schoolhouse, located about a mile east of the sanctuary. This church is a part of Rockville Circuit and has a membership of about one hundred.
North Richmond class was organized about 1840 and its leading early members were: James and William Morse, Franklin Lord, Emerson Chamberlin, Tracy Turner, Patrick Perry, David Mackey, David Gray and James Wilkinson. Services were held in the Warner Schoolhouse until 1854 when the present frame building was erected. The church now numbers over forty members and is a part of Rockville Circuit.
Van Scoder's Methodist Episcopal Church is in the northeast part of Richmond. A class
organized here forty years ago, was maintained for many years. The present society was formed about 1877. Services were held in the schoolhouse until 1882 when the present neat, commodious structure, 34x48, was erected at a cost of about $1,800. The membership is thirty and the class is connected with Rockville Circuit.