Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography

    BEAVER was formed in 1811.  It lies in the north-west corner of the county, bordering upon Ohio on the west and Erie county on the north, and contains 21,668 square acres.  The surface is level and watered by several small streams tributary to Conneaut Creek, which have their rise in the south part of the township and flow north, parallel to each other, through it.  In the south-western part is a salt spring, which has yielded considerable quantities of salt.  The waters were not strongly impregnated with saline matter and as it was believed that by boring deeper a stronger brine would be obtained, a well was sunk an additional depth of 200 to 300 feet, but instead of yielding a stronger brine oil was obtained, not, however, in sufficient *38 quantity to render it profitable.  The oil mixing with the salt water rendered the latter valueless for commercial purposes.  An effort was made to restore the salt spring to its former purity by filling the well to its former depth, but that, proving futile it was abandoned.  The soil is well adapted to grazing, and dairying and stock raising form the chief pursuits of the agriculturist as well as the principal occupation of the inhabitants.  Lumbering is carried on to some extent.  The lauds in the northern part of the township, having been in the hands of speculators, evince but slight improvement, though they are now being rapidly brought under cultivation.
    The population of the township in 1870 was 1177, of whom 1101 were native, 76, foreign and all, white.
    During the year ending June 3, 1872, the township contained eleven schools and employed twenty-two teachers.  The number of scholars was 373; the average number attending school, 307; and the amount expended for school purposes, $1,834,07.

    BEAVER CENTER (p. o.) is located in the center of the township, four miles from the Erie & Pittsburg R. R., and contains two churches, (both recently built,) two stores, two saw mills, (one operated by steam and the other by water,) a manufactory of hand-rakes, bent fellies, spokes and wagon neaps, a cheese factory, two blacksmith shops and about twenty-five dwellings.
    J. W. Wood & Co.’s manufacturing establishment, located here, gives employment to about eight persons and annually produces about 12,000 to 15,000 hand rakes, 5,000 sets of fellies and wagon shafts, 2,000 wagon poles and 1,500 sets of spokes.

    The settlement of the township was commenced about the beginning of the present century.  George and William Foster are believed to be the first who located within its limits.  They came from the eastern part of the State about the year 1800 and settled near the center.  William preceded his father a few months.  He brought with him upon a hand sled a barrel of flour and superintended his own cuisine, which, it is fair to presume, was of a most primitive character.  His meat was supplied by the game which was then abundant.  About the same time the Fosters came settlements were made by a Mr. McGuire in the southern part of the township, by two families named Silverthorn, in the south-east part, on Silverthorn Run, and by a Mr. Thompson, in the south-western part.  A Mr. Durham, settled south of Beaver Center near the same time.
    The Gateses, Hollenbecks, Browns and Larkins came in a little later.  Lotan Reid, a native of Massachusetts, located in the south-western part in 1834, having previously resided in Canada.  At that late day there were no roads in the locality *39 in which he settled, and the blazed trees of that period were the only guide the traveler had in traversing the dense forests.  The first store in the township was probably kept at Beaver Center, by Lester Griswold.  The first grist mill was built at the same place, by Robert Foster, it contained a single run of stones, which were obtained from rocks found in the vicinity.  The first saw mill is believed to have been built by Wm. Plymat, about a mile west of the center.

    The Church of the United Brethren at Reeds Corners, was organized with ten members in 1850, by Rev. Willis Lamson, the first pastor.  Their house of worship was erected in 1861, at a cost of $800, and will seat 350 persons.  It is free to all orthodox denominations.  The present pastor is Rev. J. Denis; and the number of members, thirty one.  The Church property is valued at $600.—[Information furnished by Mr. W. W. Lamson.

    The Christian Church, at Beaver Center, was organized with twenty members in 1870, by Rev. I. R. Spencer, the first pastor, and the church edifice, which will seat 200 persons, was erected in 1871, at a cost of $3,400.  There are at present thirty-two members, who are under the ministration of Rev. J. J. Summerbell.  The Church property is valued at $3,600.  An organization of the Christian denomination existed in this place about 1840, continuing eight or ten years, with Elder J. E. Church as its pastor.—[Information furnished by Mr. Luther Gates.

1 Hamilton Child, comp., Gazetteer and Business Directory of Crawford County, Pa., for 1874 (Syracuse, N.Y.: By the comp., 1874), pp. 118-19.