Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography

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      Crawford county, was taken from Allegheny co. by act 12th March, 1800; and by the same act the seat of justice was located at Meadville, on condition that the inhabitants and proprietors of that place and its vicinity should subscribe, and secure the payment of four thousand dollars to the trustees of the county, either in specie or land, at a reasonable valuation, within four months from the passage of the act, for the use of a seminary of learning within the county, and in case of default the trustees were authorized to fix the seat of justice at any place within four miles of Meadville.  And by the act of 5th March, 1804, the commissioners were directed to erect the court-house and public offices of the county, upon the public square of the town of Meadville.1  Crawford county is now bounded on the N. by Erie co., on the E. by Warren and Venango counties, on the S. by Mercer and Venango, and on the W. by the state of Ohio; length 41, breadth 24 miles, area, 974 square miles; central lat. 41° 40' N.; lon. from W. C. 3° west.  It lies wholly in the great western secondary formation, and contains the minerals usually pertaining to it.  Iron ore has been found in various parts of the county; salt licks and salt springs in the N. W., and indications of coal are seen in the south; a bituminous oil issues from several sources on Oil creek, known in commerce as Seneca oil; it colours the waters and emits a strong odor, even at the mouth of the creek.  The oil is burned in lamps, and used in various ways; bit is particularly valued for its bituminous qualities.  The inhabitants make excavations in the low and marshy grounds, which are immediately filled with water, covered with oil, which they skim off.  Considerable quantities are annually sent to the eastern markets.
      The surface of the country is undulating, and the soil generally of a good quality, and there is little or none worthless in the county.  It is however better adapted to grazing than grain farms, yet there is an ample portion suited to the latter purpose.  It is well watered and timbered, and is particularly favorable to health.  The principal stream is French creek, which flows S. and S. E. by the town of Meadville, and unites with the Allegheny river at the town of Franklin, in Venango co.  It is a beautiful stream, and navigable for large boats and rafts the greater part of the year.  The great system of artificial navigation in Pennsylvania embraces this stream.  The canal along it commences at the Allegheny river, at the mouth of the creek, and extends up it 22 miles and 88 perches, to its intersection with the feeder.  On this line there are 5 miles and 52 perches of canal and 17 ms. and 36 perches slack water and towing path.  The principal works are 11 dams, varying from <page 123> 7 to 16 ft. in height, and 3 guard and 16 lift locks, which overcome an elevation of 120½ feet.  This work is partly executed, and the remainder under contract.  Its cost, when completed, is estimated at $270,681.  And the canal commissioners report that it may be completed by the middle of Nov. 1832.  The French creek feeder commences near Bemis’ mill, on the east side of the creek, 2 ms. N. of Meadville, passes through the town and crosses the creek 6 ms. below, and falls into the valley of Conneaut creek, which it pursues to the Conneaut lake.  Its length is 19½ ms.  It is proposed to connect this creek by means of Conneaut lake and Conneaut creek, with lake Erie.  There are two creeks which bear the name of Conneaut; one running S. E. to French creek, the other N. W. to lake Erie.  Beside these waters there are in the county, E. of French creek, Oil creek, which runs S. to the Allegheny; Muddy creek, Woodcock creek, Big and Little Sugar creeks, and the Cussewago on the west, tributaries of French creek.  The Shenango creek flows along the W. boundary, and drains by one of its branches the extensive Pymatuning swamp.  There are also three lakes in the county; the Conneaut, near the summit of the Pennsylvania canal, the Oil Creek and the Sugar Creek lakes.  The first is a beautiful sheet of water, about five ms. by two, abounding with fine fish; the others are smaller but equally pleasant.  One turnpike road running S. connects Meadville with Mercer, another S. E. leads to the town of Franklin, and a third proceeds N. by Waterford to Erie.  The towns are Meadville, Centreville, Conneaut town, Harmonsville, Conniotville and Pottersville.  The population of the county, drawn from various sources, amounted in 1800, to 2346; in 1810 to 6176; in 1820, to 9397; and 1830, to 16,005, of whom 8336 were white males, 7634 white females; 21 free col’d males, 14 free col’d. females.  There were but 35 aliens in the county, 1 deaf and dumb and 1 blind.
      The exports of the county are the usual agricultural products; and being chiefly a grazing country, cattle and horses.  Its principal market is Pittsburgh, whence is drawn the chief supply of imports.  There are about 30 stores, which pay license, and a sufficient number of taverns.  The manufactures are strictly domestic, and supply three fourths of the consumption of the county.  In 1829, there were 32 grist mills, 65 saw mills, 8 fulling mills, 2 paper mills, 2 oil mills, 5 carding machines, 41 distilleries, and a few asheries.  145,831 lbs. of maple sugar, 177,360 lbs. black salts and potash, and 48,754 galls. whiskey were manufactured.  There were 51,522 acres of cleared land, 12,169 of meadow; 2970 horses, 18,081 cattle and 18,999 sheep.  These articles, with the exception of sugar, salts and whiskey, have greatly increased since that period.  Col. Magaw, the patentee of straw paper, has an extensive manufactory of that cheap and valuable article, in Meadville.  The public buildings of the county consist of the court house, a very handsome structure of brick and cut stone, surmounted by a cupola, the county offices and prison, several neat churches, an academy, Bently hall, pertaining to Allegheny college, and the state arsenal.  (For a particular description of these, see the article Meadville.)
      There are in the county about 28 churches for divine worship, for the various denominations of christians, and about 62 schools.
      The several societies established in the county, for benevolent and other useful purposes, are a Bible society, the Sabbath School Union, extended generally through the county, and having about 63 schools.  A colonization society, auxiliary to the American colonization society.  An internal improvement society, an agricultural society, and an emigration society.
      The care taken for the academy <page 124> was co-existent with the county.  It was incorporated by the act 31st March, 1807, and several other acts have been passed for the benefit of the institution; among others, the act of 1811, granting it the sum of $1000.  It is well supplied with a competent principal and other respectable teachers.  The languages and the various branches of an English education, including Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, &c. and Drawing.  There are also other respectable schools.  The library of the college is uncommonly extensive and valuable, having been enriched by the bequests of the Rev. Wm. Bently and Judge Winthrop, and by the donation of Isaiah Thomas, Esq. all of Mass.  It contains more than 8000 volumes, valued at more than 12,000 dollars.  The bench and the bar, and the medical men of the county, are respectable for their virtues and talents.
      Crawford belongs to the 23d senatorial district, sending one member to the senate.  It sends also one member to the house of representatives.  Joined with Erie, Mercer, Warren and Venango, it forms the 18th congressional district, represented in the 22d congress by John Banks.  Connected with Venango, Mercer and Erie, it forms the 6th judicial district.  President, Henry Shippen, Esq.  The courts are holden at Meadville on the 4th Mondays of November, February, May and August.  The county belongs to the western district of the supreme court, which holds its session at Pittsburg, on the first Monday in September Annually.
The co. paid into the state treasury
  in 1831, for tax on writs,$140,00
Tavern licenses,158,84
Duties on dealers in foreign
Total,  $519,54
      Taxable property in 1829, seated lands, 969,204; unseated, $438,766; personal including occupations, $171,049; rate 5 mills in the dollar; am’nt of tax levied, $7,S20,09½.
      The following notice of a curious mound in the county, is taken from the N. Y. Jour. of Commerce, 1830.  “On an extensive plain near Oil creek, there is a vast mound of stones, containing many hundred thousand cart loads.  This pyramid has stood through so many ages that it is now covered with soil, and from its top rises a noble pine tree, the roots of which running down the sides, fasten themselves in the earth below.  The stones are many of them so large, that two men can scarce move thm; and are unlike any in the neighborhood; nor are there quarries near, from which so large a quantity could be taken.  The stones were, perhaps, collected from the surface, and the mound one of the many that have been raised by the ancient race which preceded the Indians, whom the Europeans have known.  These monuments are numerous further north and E. and in the S. and W. are far greater, more artificial and imposing.”
      The intelligent correspondent of the Crawford Messenger, to whom we are indebted for much of the matter of this article, observes, that the county “possess all the conveniences and comforts of living, that are enjoyed east of the mountains.  It is a healthy pleasant country to live in; and capable of producing an abundance of all the productions common to the eastern part of the state; and when the canal from Lake Erie to Philadelphia shall have been completed, they can be placed in the market of that city, at a rate much more profitable to those that produce them, than like products east of the mountains can be so placed—and for the plainest of reasons, that the lands producing them, can be procured for one fifth the expense of lands of equal quality east of the mountains.  Very good unimproved lands may be purchased here at two dollars to four dollars per acre, depending in a great measure, at present, on their particular situations—and well improved farms at from 5 dollars to 8 dollars per acre.  This country is peculiarly adapted to raising of stock.  The numerous droves of fine <page 125> horses and cattle taken out of it every season, is the best evidence of its fitness for stock; and there is no mode of farming so easy and profitable as that of raising stock, more particularly in a country like this, where grass is produced so abundantly.  This section of the state must, at no distant day, become a great stock country.  Emigration to it, is rapidly increasing.
      The following table shows the names and numbers of the t-ships, in this county.  Within the last two years there has been an alteration in the form and bounds of most of them, and as we have not their boundaries, we are unable to give their area, &c.

Townships, &c.Population. Taxa-
1810 1820 1830 bles.
Bor. of Meadville,457 649 1076 228
Meadville t-ship,786 1131 1026 338
Randolph,    561 108
Wayne,502 663 250 177
Oil Creek,340 495 484 
Troy,       146 
Athens,      121 
Rome,     365 
Sparta,     304 
Richmond,  252  
Bloomfield,114 214 197 109
Rockdale,401 776 225 274
Woodcock,     1150 
Venango,434 630 886 178
Cussawago,384 642 544 186
Spring,    690 
Beaver,236 419 185 189
Conneaut,285 562 547 162
Hayfield,     644 
Vernon,    797 
Sadsbury,540 789 902 254
North Shenango,727 952 952 296
South Shenango,    662 
Fallowfield,551 742 686 222
Greenwood,     876 
Fairfield,421 553 632 142
Sommerhill,     845 
6178 9397 16,005 3034

1  An ACT appointing the place whereupon to erect the court-house and public offices for the county of Crawford.  Section I.  BE it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That the commissioners of the county of Crawford shall, as soon as convenient, erect the court-house and public offices for said county, upon the piece of ground in the town of Meadville, known by the name of the Public Square.  SIMON SNYDER, Speaker of the House of Representatives.  ROBERT WHITEHALL, Speaker of the Senate.   APPROVED—March the fifth, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and four.  THOMAS M’KEAN, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylania.  1804-5 Pa. Laws 174 (Ch. 43, approved 5 May 1804).