Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography

    ROCKBALE was formed in 1811.  It lies upon the north border of the county, east of the center, and contains 21,702 square acres.  It is well watered by French Creek, (which enters the township near the center of the north line, flows south to near the center and deflects to the west, leaving it near the center of the west line,) and streams tributary to it, the principal of which are Muddy Creek and Thomas and Mohawk runs.  The surface is hilly, except in the valleys of French and Muddy Creeks, which are low and level.  The soil in the valleys is a rich alluvium of great fertility; elsewhere it is a mixture of clay and sand.  Agriculture is the chief persuit of the inhabitants, and dairying the principal branch of agriculture.  Until within a few years a large portion of the township was devoted almost entirely to lumbering, which, at present, forms an important industry.  There is now more lumber shipped at Millers Station than any other along this route.  Lumber is the principal article of manufacture.  There are not less than five important saw mills which manufacture daily over 60,000 feet of lumber, besides a large quantity of lath and shingles; a grist mill, capable of grinding 45 bushels of grain per hour; and a cheese factory, built the present year, (1873) capacitated to use the milk of 400 cows.

    The Atlantic & Great Western R. R. traverses the north-west part of the township, following the course of French Creek, which it crosses within the limits of the township.

    The population of the township in 1870 was 1,664, of whom 1,591 were native, 134, foreign and all, white.

    During the year ending June 3, 1872, it contained twelve schools and employed twenty-four teachers.  The number of scholars was 516; the average number attending school, 396 ; and the amount expended for school purposes, $2,110.99.

    MILLERS SSTATION (p. o.) is a hamlet situated on the A. & G. W. R. R., a little north-west of the center, and contains one hotel, three stores, one blacksmith shop and one shoe shop.

    Settlement was commenced contemporaneously with that of the county, in 1786, by John Hayes 2d, a native of Delaware, who accompanied Gen. Mead in his journey to the county. *92 He purchased of Wm. Hutchinson a piece of land on which he had commenced, but not completed a settlement, paying therefor $1,100.  His daughter Sarah, now Mrs. Joseph King, who was born in this township, May 24, 1798, and married to her husband (who served as a captain under Gen. Hull in the war of 1812,) in September, 1814, is still living with her daughter, Mrs. Ezra A. Tubbs.  The principal settlements were made about 1795, under the auspices of the Holland Land Company, who are believed to have built the first house in the township, near what is now known as Jarvis’ Mill.  Isaac Kelly, from Delaware county, and George Miller, a Baptist clergyman, from Lehigh county, settled here about 1800.  Kelly located on the east side of French Creek, near the center of the township, at the place now known as Wing’s saw mill.  Other settlers about the same year were Hugh and Patrick McCulloph, and a man named Priest.  The McCullophs, it is believed, were natives of Ireland.  Nathan Mitchell, a native of Mass., moved into the the township from Canada, where he had resided four years, in 1802.  He settled on the line between Erie and Crawford counties, and died in 1834.  Jesse Brown, who was born in Mass., Feb. 5, 1777, removed with his father to Vermont, where they remained till after the war of 1812.  In 1815, they removed to the township of LeBoeuf, Erie county, and in 1818, to this township, where they purchased a tract of land, on which his father died, April 22, 1871.  “When we came to this place,” says Mr. Brown, “we underwent great inconveniences.  We had to go fourteen miles through the woods to mill.  But game was plenty, and we got half our living out of the woods.  The wolves used to trouble our sheep.  The bears and panthers, though numerous, did not trouble us much.”  The farm of H. R. Colwell was donated by the State to Col. Benjamin Flower, as a Revolutionary grant, in 1785, but the present owner was the first to settle it, in 1838.

    The only church ever erected in the township was built by a Baptist Society, in 1825.  It was situated on the farm now occupied by Daniel Miller, but was long since torn down.  Elder George Miller, was the officiating clergyman.  Isaac Miller was an active member of this church.  He was drowned in French Creek one Sabbath morning in 1832, while crossing upon the ice on his way to attend church.

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