Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography

    CAMBRIDGE was formed from Venango in 1852.  It lies about the center of the north border of the county, and contains 11,162 square acres.  It is drained by French Creek and its tributaries, the principal of which are Conneautte and *42 Little Conneaut Creeks.  French Creek enters the township near the center of the east border and flows in a westerly direction to its confluence with Conneautte Creek, on the west border, when it deflects to the south.  These two streams form the west boundary of the township, separating it from Venango.  The soil throughout the township is a rich loam, well adapted to dairying, which forms the chief pursuit of the inhabitants.

    The Atlantic & Great Western R. R. extends through the township, following the course of French Creek, and the Pennsylvania Petroleum R. R. crosses the central part, from west to east, nearly.

    The population of the township in 1870, was 747, all of whom were white, and all, except 47, native born.

    During the year ending, June 3, 1872, the township contained six schools and employed eleven teachers.  The number of scholars was 207; the average number attending school, 150; and the amount expended for school purposes, $792.01.

    CAMBRIDGE (p. v.) is centrally located, on French Creek and the A. & G. W. R. R., and is distant fourteen miles north of Meadville, the county seat.  It is a thriving village, containing five churches, three hotels, a bank, (organized in 1872,) eleven stores, a saw mill, tannery, shovel-handle factory, two planing mills, three carriage and two shoe shops, three liveries, and had in 1870, 452 inhabitants.  It was incorporated as a borough in 1867.  The tannery is owned by F. W. Winchester and is capable of tanning 1,200 hides per annum.  The handle factory is operated by B. M. Sherwood & Son.  In it fifteen men are employed and one hundred dozens of handles made per day.  These gentlemen have a saw mill, capable of sawing 10,000 feet of lumber per day, and a shingle mill, capable of cutting 10,000 shingles per day.  They are also engaged in the manufacture of cheese boxes.  One mile north of Cambridge is H. N. Rockwell's lath mill, containing one drag and five circular saws, employing six men and capable of cutting 15,000 lath per day.

    The Cambridge Masonic Lodge was organized with eight charter members, in July, 1870, with Prof. H. D. Persons as first W. M.  The lodge has a good hall, well furnished, and is in a prosperous condition.  The present (June, 1873,) number of members is over fifty, including many of the best citizens in the community.  Regular meetings are held the second and fourth Fridays of each month.

    DRAKES MILLS (p. o.) is situated in the north part of the township.

    Settlement was commenced the latter part of the last century.  Robert Humes, a native of Ireland, came here in 1797 and is *43 said to have settled the first farm in the township, on lot 141, on which his son David now resides.  He helped to raise the first cabin built in Meadville.  Archibald Humes and Michael Sherred, from Susquehanna county, came about the same time.  The former built the first grist mill in this part of the county.  Other early settlers at this or a little later date were John I., Thos. and Archibald (Jr.) Humes, John Sherer and Henry Allen, the latter a native of England.  Henry Baugher, from the vicinity of Harrisburg, came in about 1800.  Leonard Docter came from Susquehanna county in 1801, and located on lot 128.  Isaac Kelly, Thos. Fullerton, Edward Hicks, James Durham, James Weston, John Sinclear and Alex. Anderson settled here in 1811, and John Langley, a native of Ireland, in 1812.  James Birchard, from Berkshire county, Mass., and Amos Ames, from the same State, came in 1813; and Charles T. Cummings and Dr. Perkins, who also settled here the latter year, purchased a large tract of land which was settled by emigrants from Massachusetts, and is at present known as “Yankee Hill.”  Daniel and Sylvester Root, brothers, from Hampshire Co., Mass., settled in the township in 1819.  These early settlers were accustomed to go to Erie for salt and other necessaries, which were conveyed on forked poles, drawn by a yoke of oxen.  This was a rude conveyance—one which the descendants of these worthy pioneers could scarcely be induced to adopt at the present day—but one which was adapted to the times and the condition of the country through which they passed.

    The first religious meetings held in the township, when this was a part of Venango, were held on the bank of French Creek, near the cemetery.  The worshipers assembled under heaven’s blue canopy, sheltered by the forest trees.  A stump cut down the center, one-half left a few feet higher than the other, served as a pulpit, while the congregation sat upon logs and such other conveniences as the location afforded.

    The Cambridgeboro Baptist Church, (formerly known as the Rockdale, but originally as the Lebanon Baptist Church,) was organized with twelve members, Oct. 31, 1812, by Revs. Wm. West and Thomas Rigdon.  The Society has erected three church edifices.  We are not advised of the year in which the first was built, but the second one was constructed in 1835, and the present one, which will seat 380 persons, in 1870, at a cost of $6,000.  The first pastor was Rev. George Miller, the present one is Rev. Ross Ward, our informant.  The Society numbers ninety-five members, and its property is valued at $6,800.

    From the minutes of the Forty-Ninth Annual Session of the French Creek Baptist Association we learn that the members at its organization were “Geo. Miller, Alex. Anderson, Isaac Kelly, John Langley, Jas. Anderson, Sally Clark, Barbar Miller, Hannah Kelly, Elizabeth Daniel, Christina Miller and, Lydia Anderson;” and the following relative to the discipline of the Church :—
    “In the early history of the church every member was required to attend every meeting; if any one but once failed to do so, he was required to give an excuse; if he failed twice, he was visited by brethren appointed by the church, who reported at the next meeting.  Brethren appointed on any committee were required faithfully to perform their duty; if any one committed a misdemeanor which came to the knowledge of the church, some judicious brother was appointed to admonish him.  A yearly meeting was held which all were expected and were glad to attend, and which was ever attended by members of sister churches, commencing Saturday P. M. and continuing over the Sabbath.  Their greetings on those occasions were hearty.  Their evening meetings often extended far into the night.  When they voted to hold a special or protracted meeting, they gave themselves to prayer and fasting, arranged their business so that all could attend from the first, and gave word to their friends near and far.  Neighboring pastors would attend.  These meetings were short, but frequently from the first, sinners would ask for the prayers of Christians.”

    The First Presbyterian Church of Cambridge, at Cambridge borough, was organized with twenty-three members, April 22, 1852, by Revs. R. Craighead, E. W. Beebe and Elder — Kerr.  Their house of worship was erected the same year, at a cost of $1,500.  It will seat 350 persons.  Rev. G. W. Hampson was the first pastor, and Rev. W. A. McCarrell, our informant, is the present one.  There are one hundred members.  The Church property is valued at $2,500.

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