Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography

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    RANDOLPH was formed in 1824.  It is an interior township, situated a little south-east of the center of the county, and contains 23,697 square acres.  The surface is quite hilly, and is drained by Woodcock and Sugar creeks, the former flowing in a northerly, and the latter in a southerly direction.  The eastern part of the township is comparatively new and but thinly settled.  The soil produces good crops and is well adapted to grazing.  Dairying and stock raising are the chief pursuits of the inhabitants, though lumbering is carried on quite extensively.
    The population of the township in 1870 was 1,732, of whom 1,566 were native, 166, foreign and all, except one, white.
    During the year ending June 3, 1872, it contained thirteen schools and employed twenty-one teachers.  The number of scholars was 442; the average number attending school, 350; and the amount expended for school purposes, $3,268.15.

    HICKORY CORNERS (p. o.) is situated in the north-west corner and contains a church, store, blacksmith shop and about ten dwellings.

    GUYS MILLS, (p. o.) situated on Sugar Creek, a little west of the center, contains three churches, one hotel, two stores, a saw mill, blacksmith shop, wagon shop and twelve dwellings.  It derives its name from Jacob Guy, the first settler there, who built a mill there at an early day.

    BLACK ASH (p. o.) is a hamlet situated in the south-east part, about one and three-fourths miles from the east line.
    The first settlement was made in 1795 by James Brawley, who came from Lycoming county and located in the south-western part of the township.  He built a log house, the first erected in the township, and having cleared a small piece of land he planted it with potatoes, the seed for which he procured at Franklin, carrying them upon his back through the woods, up French and Sugar creeks, guided by an Indian path.  He then joined a surveying party in Erie county, with which he remained till fall, when he returned to dig his potatoes.  When he reached his cabin it was occupied by Indians, who, supposing him to be dead, had dug and eat his potatoes and were preparing to leave.  They opened their packages and each <page 85> generously shared with him their furs and dried meat.  With the proceeds of these he purchased wheat, which he sowed and then returned to Lycoming county.  The following spring he returned to his new home in company with his mother and her family, arriving June 6, 1796.  They with great difficulty came through the woods with an ox team and wagon, driving before them three or four cows, the milk from which was strained and being put into a churn was converted into butter by the motion of the wagon.  The journey occupied six weeks, and when they reached their destination they had just twenty-five cents in money, with which they purchased a quart of salt.  There were no mills accessible and the family subsisted for some time on frumenty, until Mr. Brawley heard, in the fall, of a mill at the mouth of Oil Creek.  He put four bushels of wheat upon an ox and started for the mill through the trackless forest, with naught save his pocket compass for a guide.  He was six days in performing the journey.  At night he removed the load from his ox and turned it out to browse, while he built a fire beside which he camped, and by which the ox was accustomed to lie when he had appeased his hunger.  Mr. Brawley built the first saw mill and the first framed house and barn in the township.  In 1800 Mr. Brawley married Mary Glenn, and theirs was probably the first marriage contracted in the township.  Wm. R. Brawley, who was born Jan. 29, 1802, was doubtless the first white child born in the township; and Mary A. Brawley, who died in 1805, is believed to be the first person who died in the township.  Mr. Brawley was followed in the settlement by Amos Daniels, who located in the south-western part, on the Oil Creek road, Alex. McFadden, who located in the southern part, and both of whom settled soon after him, Archibald Stewart, who came from Lycoming county and settled on the Oil Creek road, Alex. Johnson, who came from near Harrisburgh and settled in the western part in 1799, Michael Radle, a native of Germany, who came from Philadelphia in 1806 and settled in the northern part, and Dennis Kane, a Revolutionary soldier, who located in the southern part, on land reserved for the soldiers, and who are believed to have settled in the order named.  Jacob Guy settled at Guys Mills in 1815.  He came from Whitehall, N. Y., in 1813 or ’14, and located first at Meadville, where he lived about two years, when he removed to Randolph.  He was a graduate of Yale College and interested himself in surveys for himself and neighbors.  The first house built there was erected for him.  It was constructed of poles and covered with hemlock brush.  The sawmill built by him in 1816 or ’17 was the first framed building erected at Guys Mills.  He also put up the first framed house there and was the first justice of <86> the peace in the township.  It is said that the settlers kept him busy during the winter examining wolves scalps, on which they obtained a bounty.  He kept the first store in the township at Guys Mills, and the first hotel was kept at the same place, by James Foreman.  Mr. Guy was prominently identified with the interests of the township, and lived on the place in which he settled the remainder of his life.  George and Jacob Cutshall came from Cumberland county in 1814, and settled in the northern part on the same farm, where they remained about two years, when George removed to a farm one mile north of his brother’s.  They came through the woods with a six horse team, crossing the streams that were too deep to ford by using their wagon box as a boat, in which their goods were conveyed a few at a time.  On the way one of their horses died and a bull which they drove was driven in the harness in its stead the rest of the way.  George had to go to Meadville to work out his road tax, as there were no roads in his vicinity.  In 1816 Wm. Waid, from New York State, settled a little north of Guys Mills; John Oaks, from Massachusetts, settled in the southern part, on the Oil Creek road, where he spent the remainder of his days; and Leonard Hall, from Vermont, located at Hickory Corners, where he was the first settler.  He walked all the way, averaging, he says, the almost incredible distance of forty miles per day.  He was married in 1820, and his wedding tour consisted of a visit to his then far distant Vermont home.  The journey was made with an ox sled, for which he was obliged to cut a road some distance, while his father-in-law, who accompanied him a part of the way, drove the ox and sled bearing his wife.  What a contrast this with the expensive luxuries which are frequently indulged on such occasions at the present day!  Moses Gilbert, from Fort Ann, N. Y., settled near a spring in the central part in 1818, and remained there till his death.  Isaac Childs, also from Washington county, N. Y., settled in the north-eastern part of the township in 1821, and there died.  The first school was taught by Miss Mary H. Guy, in the upper story of a barn.  The first school house is believed to have been built in the south-western part.  It was constructed of logs and greased paper was substituted in the windows for glass.

    Mount Hope M. E. Church, in the southern part of the township, on the Oil Creek road, was organized with about fifty members, in 1858, by Rev. J. Whitely, the first pastor, and the house of worship, which will seat about 300 persons, was erected the same year, at a cost of about $900.  The Society consists of seventy members; is under the pastoral care of Rev. J. Eckels; and its property is valued at about $2,000.—[Information furnished by Mr. Smith Byham.

    The M. E. Church of Guys Mills was organized with about fifty-five members, in 1871, by Rev. John W. Blasdell, the first pastor, and their <page 87> house of worship, which will seat 350 persons, was erected the same year, at a cost of $3,500, the present value of Church property.  There are about seventy-two members, who are ministered to by Rev. John Eckels.—[Information furnished by Mr. Horace T. Sikes.

    The Baptist Church of Randolph, at Guys Mills, was organized with ten members, in 1820, by a council of ministers from sister churches.  The first church edifice was erected in 1826 and was the first built in the township; the present one, which will seat about 250 persons, in 1868, at a cost of $1,800, the present value of Church property.  The first pastor was Elder Oliver Alfred.  At present the Church is without a pastor.  The number of members is twenty-three.—[Information furnished by Mr. Calvin Hatch.

    The First Congregational Church of Randolph, at Guys Mills, was organized with twenty members, as a Presbyterian Church, Oct. 31, 1825, and as a Congregational Church in 1839.  The first church edifice was erected in 1845; the present one, which has a seating capacity for 300 persons, in 1871, at a cost of $5,000, the present value of Church property.  The first pastor was Rev. Nathan Harned; the present one is R. F. Markham, our informant.  There are 120 members.

    The East Randolph M. E. Church was organized with about eight members, about 1850, by Rev. Edwin Hull, the first pastor.  The church edifice was erected in 1866.  It cost $1,275, and will seat about 200 persons.  The Church property is valued at $1,300.  The number of members is twenty-eight.—[Information furnished by Mr. John Bogardis.

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