Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography
1874 1

    ATHENS, was formed in 1831.  It is an interior town[ship], lying north-east of the center of the county and contains 17,113 square acres.  The surface is pleasantly diversified by upland and valley.  The soil is of good quality, being well adapted to the growth of grass, barley, rye, oats, corn and buckwheat, and is well watered in the western and central parts by Muddy Creek, its tributaries, and the numerous springs from which they take their rise, and in the eastern part by Oil Creek, which crosses the north-east corner of the township.  It is populated by a thrifty and intelligent people, who are engaged principally in agriculture, lumbering and the various industries growing out of the latter.  Among the principal manufacturing interests are Wright & Harter's cheese box factory and planing mill, situated at Little Cooley, and giving employment to five men in the manufacture of 200 boxes per day; Samuel Clement's steam saw and shingle mill, located on road No. 11, which employs two men and turns out 3000 feet of lumber and 20,000 shingles per day; J. M. Parker's shingle mill, located in the south-east part, which employs eight men and is capable of producing 20,000 shingles per day; D. & J. Riggs' steam saw and shingle mill, located on road No. 35, which gives employment to three men and is capable of cutting 2000 feet of lumber and 10,000 shingles per day; and the Athens Mills, located on road No. 26, near the south line, consisting of steam saw, shingle and lath mills, in which twenty-five men are employed and 15,000 feet of lumber, 20,000 shingles and 10,000 lath can be made per day.
    The township is traversed by the Union & Titusville R.R., which crosses the north-east corner, and the Pennsylvania Petroleum R. R., which crosses the south-west corner.
    The population of the township in 1870 was 1317, of whom 1290 were native, 27, foreign and all, white.
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    During the year ending June 3, 1872, the township contained nine schools and employed sixteen teachers.  The number of scholars was 460; the average number attending school, 335; and the amount expended for school purposes, $1,677.77.

    LITTLE COOLEY, (p. v.) situated in the western part of the township, on Muddy Creek, and on the line of the P. P. R. R., is a promising village containing a church, (United Brethen), school house, hotel, six stores, a grist mill, cheese box factory and many comfortable dwellings.

    TAYLOR STAND (p. o.) is situated on the State Road, in the north part.

    The settlement of the township was commenced about the latter part of the last century by a man named Smith, who lived in lonely seclusion without neighbors or companionship save that of the nomadic Indians who frequented his locality, and with no better roads than the Indian paths afforded.  Franklin was the nearest reliable place from which he could obtain supplies, and these were conveyed upon the backs of horses which were eventually lost in the wilderness.  His house stood upon the Dr. Taylor farm and its ruins were discernible when the doctor took possession.  He finally abandoned his improvements, but whether he reached the settlements in safety, or became a victim to the treachery of his savage companions is not known. nbsp;Smith was followed by Elisha Root, Dr. Silas Taylor, Jonah Edson, Wm. King, John Shawburger and Abraham Wheeler, who battled heroically with the hardships incident to pioneer life and effected permanent settlements.  Taylor and Wheeler, far advanced in years, have lived to see the wonderful transformations, by which a wilderness forbidding in aspect and habited by wild beasts has given way to the fruitful farms of the prosperous husbandman and the busy hum of the mechanic arts, and to enjoy in sweet tranquility the fruits of their early arduous labors.  The absence of roads of any kind was one of the first difficulties which demanded the attention of these brave and sturdy yeomen.  By an act of the Legislature a State road was authorized and had been cut out, but the underwood had obtained vigorous growth and obstructed its passage.  Steep hills needed leveling, deep morasses making passable and streams bridging; while dense forests covering all the lands denied them subsistence.  Nothing daunted they set themselves to the task of removing these obstacles.  Dr. Taylor and John Brown (the latter of Harpers Ferry notoriety, who settled at a later day in the township of Richmond, which adjoins this on the west,) were active in opening the State road through their respective townships, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing a serviceable <p. 37> highway which answered well its purpose, and laid the foundation for more permanent improvement.  The settlement of the township was retarded by the conflicting titles arising from discrepancies in the surveys made by Dee and Herrington.  Many who came purposing to take up and improve the lands were deterred from doing so and sought homes in other localities where patrimony was less likely to be affected by legal contention.  Happily, however, all these clashing interests have been harmonized by wise legislation, and the bitter controversies which threatened the peace of the whole community have long since ceased and their memory is partially obliterated by the lapse of time.
    Robert Cage, a native of Harpers Ferry, Va., who died in August, 1869, settled in April, 1824, on the 200 acre tract, "No. 1718," on which his son John now lives.
    The first improvement on the site of the village of Little Cooley was made by Isaac A. Cummings, in 1848, and for some time his was the only habitation in that locality.

    The "Church of God" (Advent,) was organized with three members, in 1855, by Elder Charles Crawford, the first pastor.  The Society is without a house of worship, meetings being held in the grove during the summer and in the school house during the winter.  There are seventy members.  To certain inquiries propounded relative to this church, Elder C. N. Burrell, the present pastor, facetiously replies that the house of worship was erected "when God made the world," and will seat "all that will come." Its cost, he says, "God only knows" as "the trees are his first temple."
    A beautiful and conspicuous church edifice graces the village of Little Cooley.  It is under the supervision of the United Brethren, though it was built with funds contributed by all denominations and its doors are open to all orthodox sects and to moral entertainments.
1 Hamilton Child, comp., Gazetteer and Business Directory of Crawford County, Pa., for 1874 (Syracuse, N.Y.: By the comp., 1874), pp. 35-37.