Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography


page 288
      Meadville, p-t. and st. of justice of Crawford co. is siuated on the left bank of French cr. near the northern margin of a rich and handsome valley, through which that stream meanders; about 37 ms. from the town of Erie, on lake Erie, 24 from Franklin, on the Allegheny, and 90 N. of Pittsburgh, 297 N. W. from W. C. and 236 from Harrisburg.  The town plot gradually rises from the water to its centre, where there is a handsome public square of about 5 acres.  Immediately fronting the square on the E. is the court house, which, in point of beauty, convenience and workmanship, is said not be surpassed by any in the state.  The plan was gratuitously furnished by the distinguished architect, Mr. Strickland, of Phila.  Its walls are of brick and cut stone, and it is adorned by a handsome cupola.  On the rising ground, a short distance E. of the court house, is the Presbyterian church, a good and convenient building; its walls are of brick, and it has a spire and well-toned bell.  Immediately fronting the public square, on the W. and near the N. W. corner, stands the Episcopal church, a very tasteful, neat and convenient building, of the Gothic order, with a tower, and contains a neat and well-toned organ; its walls are of brick, painted in imitation of free stone.  A short distance W. of the public square is the academy, a large, handsome and convenient building of brick, with a neat cupola and bell.  Near the northern border of the town is the state arsenal, a spacious, neat and convenient brick building; and a short distance N. of it, on a commanding eminence overlooking the town and the valley, stands Bently hall, the edifice of Allegheny college.   Its walls [page 289] are of brick and cut stone, in the Ionic order.  It consists of a main building, 60 feet front by 44 deep, and 3 stories high, and 2 wings of 30 ft. front each, and 2 stories high, with a basement story under the whole, and has also a handsome cupola.  This building would justly be considered an ornament in any city in the Union.  The Methodist society have a neat spacious church; and on the N. border of the town Col. Magaw, well known as the patentee of straw paper, has fitted up a large and convenient frame building for the manufacture of that cheap and valuable article.
      Allegheny college was founded by a number of public spirited gentlemen of Meadville, in the year 1815, and was incorporated by the legislature in 1817.  $2000 were granted to the institution by the incorporating act, and a further sum of $5000, payable in equal annual installments.  The name of Bentley hall was given to the building, in commemoration of a munificent bequest, made to the institution by the late Rev. Wm. Bentley, D. D., of Salem, Massachusetts.  The library of the college embraces the private library of that gentleman, estimated at more than 3000 vols., and a number of English books, presented by Isaiah Thomas, Esq. of Worcester, Mass., to whose liberality the institution is indebted for a pair of fine globes.  A noble and splendid addition was made to this valuable collection by the bequest of the late Judge Winthrop, also of Massachusetts, of nearly the whole of his private library, valued, by a low estimate, at $6,500.  In rare and valuable works, the library of Judge Winthrop was probably not surpassed, by any one of similar extent in the Union.
      In the year 1829, the trustees of the college, deeply impressed with the excellence of the system of education adopted by Capt. Alden Partridge at his academy, at Middletown in Conn., made arrangements with a gentleman from that academy, to establish a similar institution in the college.  The course of instruction given by this system is full and through, embracing the following branches of literature and science:
      Pennmanship, Arithmetic, Geography, English Grammar, Composition, Rhetoric, Logic, Metaphysics, History, Mathematics, theoretical and practical, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Natural and Political Law, Moral Philosophy, Political Economy, Natural Philosophy, Civil Engineering, Topography, Chemistry, Mineralogy.  These comprise the branches usually included in a full course of collegiate studies, and the cadets who shall have gone through this course, and sustained the requisite examination, will receive a diploma from the college.
      As the military organization is the peculiar trait in this system, those institutions in which it has been adopted, are distinguished as military, and an erroneous impression has thus been obtained in regard to their character; it being supposed that their principal object is the training of youth in the art of war.  But such is not the fact; for, although a knowledge of the means of defending the country in the field as in the cabinet be essential, still the more immediate and principal benefit of this system, is found in the order, discipline, energy and promptitude, which is thus introduced into our seminaries of learning, together with the manly and noble exercise to which every student is subject, tending to form a sound mind in a sound body.
      The situation of the t. of Meadville on the French creek feeder, which has the dimensions of, and is intended to supply the contemplated canal from the Allegheny r. to Erie, gives it important advantages for trade, which will necessarily contribute to the rapid extension of the place.  The town contains, by the census of 1830, white males, 533; colored do. 9.  White females, 531; colored do. 7, making together, 1100.  It was incorporated by act 29th March, 1823.