Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography
 "Township Histories." 

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HAYFIELD TOWNSHIP was organized in 1829 from parts of Mead, Venango, Cussewago and Sadsbury.  The original corner of those four townships was an oak tree formerly standing in the road near the Dunn Schoolhouse.  The cabin of Gideon Dunn was the first place of holding elections.  Hayfield is an interior township, lying a little northwest of the center of the county.  Its area is 22,724 square acres.  The surface is drained by French Creek, the eastern boundary, and by Cussewago Creek, which flows southwardly a little west of the township center, together with their tributaries.  In the valleys is found a black loam soil, while on the ridge it is gravelly.  The entire surface was heavily timbered when the first settlers arrived, white oak prevailing in the valleys, and hickory, chestnut, oak and other varieties on the more elevated land. The crops in early times were not as heavy as now, fertilizers having increased the productiveness of the soil.  The population of Hayfield in 1850 was 1,723; in 1860, 1,867; in 1870, 1,824, and in 1880, 1,954.
    Bounded as it is on one side by French Creek, the principal stream of the county, and located near the site of the first settlement in the county, Hayfield Township attracted to its valleys some of the foremost Western adventurers.  Several tracts were surveyed within its bounds by individuals while yet Indian hostilities rendered their occupation impossible.  None came <page 560> earlier than James Dickson.  He was born near Dumfries, Scotland, and in 1785 emigrated with his wife and two children to America.  Landing at Philadelphia, he proceeded at once to Pittsburgh, where he remained till the spring of 1793.  He resolved to secure a home under the provisions of the act of the Legislature passed the year previous, and accordingly traveled afoot from Pittsburgh to Meadville, and located a tract of 400 acres on the west bank of French Creek, four miles above Meadville, in what is now Hayfield Township.  He also located 400 acres just south of it for his eldest son, Robert, and and [sic] afterward purchased it.  He remained at Meadville during the summer of 1793 cultivating, in connection with William Jones, a field of corn and potatoes on the island, and in the fall returned to Pittsburgh.  In the spring of 1794 he removed his family by keelboat up the Allegheny and French Creek, and the boat capsizing, lost all his household goods and clothing on the way.  For two years he remained at the old block-house at Meadville, and Angust 10, 1794, was severely wounded by the savages near the block-house as related in another chapter of this volume.  In the spring of 1796, Wayne's Treaty of Greenville having rendered settlements possible, he removed with his family to a little cabin on his tract and remained till his death, which occurred August 3, 1825, in his seventy-fourth year.  He was a member of the Meadville Presbyterian Church.  His family consisted of eight children:  Jeannette (Culbertson), Robert, James, Joseph, Barbara, Mary (Andrews), William and John.  Robert and Joseph served in the war of 1812 at Erie.  The latter is the sole survivor of the family, and resides at Meadville—the oldest resident of the county.  He was born February 12, 1790, and retains his mental faculties almost unimpaired.
    The year 1796 brought several other families within the domain of Hayfield.  William Gill, a Scotchman, had located a tract adjoining Dickson's on the north, and took possession in the spring of 1796, after a residence at Meadville.  Of his three sons, Robert, the eldest, was in service at Erie.  Hugh Logue, a native of Ireland, settled in 1796 on Lot 88, north of Gill's tract.  He was well advanced in life at that time, and was accompanied by his adult family.  Still farther north on Lot 89, opposite Saegertown, about the same time, the Brookhousers—Adam and Jacob—settled.  They were Germans.
    Near the southeast corner of the township, Roderick Frazier had located a tract on French Creek as early as 1793.  He was a Scotchman, a bachelor, and was in the English service at the fall of Quebec.  After remaining at Meadville a year or two, in 1796 he took possession of his land, and remained there till death, living to the age of over one hundred years.  Roderick Frazier, second, no kin to the above, was also a Scotchman from near Inverness.  He was a British soldier during the Revolution, but deserted to the American side.  In 1806 he came to this township and settled on the tract of Roderick Frazier, first, supporting the old man in his advanced life and purchasing the tract, a part of which his descendants yet own.
    James Dunn, from New Jersey, in 1797, settled on Tract 2, near Coon's Corners.  He was a Justice of the Peace while this county was a portion of Allegheny, and later in life became a Baptist minister.  He was buried on his farm, and his descendants are still found in that vicinity.  Isaac and George Mason about the same time made a settlement on Brookhouser's Run, about one and a half miles northwest from Saegertown.  They hailed from the Youghiogheny. Isaac was a Captain of a company from this county in service at Erie during the war of 1812.  David Mason, their brother, settled on the hills in the east part of the township.  William McElvey was one of the first settlers in the same region, about it mile northwest from the Dickson farm.  He <page 561> remained there through life.  In the southeast part of the township Martha Ouray lived with her brother, George Ouray, extremely early.  She purchased 100 acres, and a little later married Daniel Kilday, a native of the Emerald Isle.  Robert Kilpatrick, an Irish bachelor, resided near by on Tract 85.
    Phillip Dunn, brother of James Dunn, in 1802 settled on Tract 39 on the Cussewago.  Other early settlers about the same time or a little later were James Irwin, southeast from Coon's Corners; Conrad Cole, who became quite wealthy, remaining on his farm in the southern part of the township till death; David Yerty, A German, and David Morris, a Welshman, both in the southern part of the township; in the northeast part Isaac, John and Jonathan Allee; Thomas Campbell, from Westmoreland County, an early Justice of the Peace; David and William Carmach, Isaac Davis, Jedidiah Freeman, David Gehr, Frederick Hickernell, Jacob Huffman, Isaac Hunt and Jacob Peters, Jr. In the northwest part John Meeker, a shoe-maker, and Caleb and John Meeker, Sr., Peter Forman on the Cussewago; George, James and Eber Lewis, brothers, between the Cussewago and French Creek; Joshua and John Keeler, Germans; John, Peter and Frederick Bailor, Thomas Osborn and Henry Richard.
    Most of Hayfield consists of Holland Land Company tracts.  The records of this company show the first contracts made for settlement on each tract.  One hundred acres were usually granted for fulfilling the conditions of residence and improvements, but the settler generally purchased in addition fifty or 100 acres.  Below are given the list of contracts for land in what is now Hayfield.  In most cases the tracts were settled by the parties contracting within a few days.
    Tract 19, John Hutton, 150 acres, August 9, 1799; Tract 20, James Baker, 100 acres, June 17, 1797, deed executed to James McMillan, assignee of Baker, September, 1813; Tract 21, Patrick Rice, 150 acres, December 24, 1799, forfeited by non-compliance; Tract 23, John Parker, 150 acres, July 13, 1798, deed for 100 acres executed August 29, 1805; Tract 24, Michael Seely, 150 acres, September 30, 1799, deed executed to Daniel Lefevre, assignee; Tract 25, Thomas Rogers, 150 acres, August 10, 1799, deed delivered to Gen. John Wilkins, assignee, September 2, 1808; Tract 27, John Parker, 100 acres, July 12, 1798; Tract 28, James Allison, 100 acres, July 14, 1798; Tract 29, Robert Kilpatrick, 150 acres, October 11, 1797, deed executed April 22, 1807; Tract 31, Alexander Freeman, 150 acres, August 16, 1799, deed executed January 15, 1807; Tract 32, Adam A. and D. Jan Nieuwenhuizen, 1.50 acres, August 10, 1799, deed executed to Henry Escher, assignee; Tract 33, Robert Kilpatrick, 150 acres, August 5, 1799, deed executed August 13, 1803; Tract 35, Alexander Freeman, 150 acres, August 16, 1799, deed granted January 15, 1807; Tract 36, Derk J. Nieuwenhuizen, 150 acres, August 10, 1799, deed executed to Henry Escber, asignee [sic]; Tract 37, Thomas Holton, 150 acres.  September 13, 1799; Tract 39, David Gehr, 150 acres, August 23, 1799, assigned David Yerty, October 23, 1802; Tract 40, Leonard Brown, 150 acres, August 10, 1790, settlement made by William B. Foster, assignee, by mistake on Tract 44, for land on which tract deed was delivered; Tract 42, Azel Freeman, 150 acres, September 13, 1799, deed executed to Randolph Freeman, assignee, July 15, 1812; Tract 43, Randolph Freeman, 150 acres, March 29, 1800, deed executed July 7, 1808; Tract 44, Joseph Dennison, 150 acres, May 30, 1798, deed executed June 12, 1815; Tract 46, Joseph Mason, 150 acres, May 24, 1798, assigned to John Williams; Tract 47, Randolph Freeman, 150 acres, March 29, 1800, deed executed July 7, 1808; Tract 48, Lewis Harring, 100 acres, September 3, 1801, assigned to Archibald Davidson, and by him in 1802 <page 562> to Conrad Cole, deed executed January 10, 1805; Tract 50, William Cook, 200 acres, October 25, 1798, deed executed October 24, 1806; Tract 51, John Williams, 150 acres, June 5, 1798, deed executed December 28, 1807; Tract 83, Robert Brotherton, 100 acres, October 17, 1798; Tract 84, George Cary, 100 acres, August 12, 1799; Tract 85, William McKibben, 150 acres, August 5, 1799; Tract 86, William Culbertson, 150 acres, June 17, 1797, forfeited; Tract 87, Samuel McElvey, 150 acres, August 5, 1799; Tract 88, Hugh Logue purchased, March 28, 1805, 250 acres; Tract 89, Jacob and Adam Brookhouser, 200 acres, new agreement, October 5, 1804; Tract 90, John Nye, 150 acres, May 30, 1798; Tract 91, Jacob Straw, 150 acres, August 24, 1799, deed executed; Tract 92, Thomas Campbell, 150 acres, June 30, 1796, forfeited.
    While the Indians were yet hostile, a few of the venturesome pioneers cultivated patches of ground away from the fort at Meadville, but they usually worked in groups of two or more, one standing guard while the others tilled the soil.  During the summer of 1795 James Dickson and his son were getting the ground ready for a potato patch on the tract which they settled the year following.  Hearing the report of a gun and seeing a flock of turkeys fly to the limbs of a tree near by, the laborers secreted themselves in an adjoining thicket, fearing that Indians were near.  Soon the form of Hugh Logue appeared, rifle in hand, and together they went to Meadville, leaving, a horse they had been using, at the clearing.  Several days later when they returned the horse was missing, but beside his disappearing tracks which led toward Conneaut Lake were the prints of moccasins; the savages had doubtless stolen the horse and it was never recovered.  It was not unfrequent in those times that thefts of this kind were committed.
    Many of the pioneers had come from thickly-settled regions, and were unaccustomed to use the rifle.  Many of them, particularly the younger men, became expert hunters.  Daniel Kilday and Robert Kilpatrick, two Irish settlers, were unaccustomed to forest life and its wild inhabitants.  While in the woods together, Kilday observed an animal run up a sapling.  Rushing forward he cried out to his companions, "Robert, Robert, we've threed a fawn."  Daniel followed the creature up the tree, and in spite of its furious demonstrations knocked it off, when Kilpatrick below beat the life out of it with a club.  It proved to be a large wild cat.
    George Mason built a little grist-mill on Foster's Run in 1800, and though its capacity was very small, it was regarded as a great boon in the settlement, for it dispensed with the hominy block in mashing grain for food.  On the same little stream Frederick Hickernell, about 1805, built a fulling-mill which in 1810 passed to the possession of David Mason, and was operated by him for some years.  James Dickson in 1815 commenced the construction of a flouring-mill at Magoffin's Falls in the southeast part of the township, but it was not until 1819 that it was set in operation.  After the death of his father, Joseph Dickson operated it until 1836, when he sold the property to William McGaw, and in a few years the mill ceased grinding.  In 1814 James Dickson and William Gill both started distilleries, which had a capacity of about four bushels of rye per day.  Roderick Frazier and others also operated stills, for the demand for whisky was great.  James Dickson, in 1815, built the first bridge across French Creek in Hayfield.  It had atone piers and hewed timbers, and was afterward purchased by the county.  Three bridges now connect Hayfield with Woodcock.  Abraham Jones built the first saw-mill on Cussewago Creek.  It stood on the west side of the creek near Hazen's present mill.  The grist-mill at Hayfield was erected by Abraham Lefevre in 1841.
    The first school in the township was taught by Miss Martha Ouray, who <page 563> was afterward Mrs. Kilday.  About 1798 she held a term in a little old cabin which stood on the present James Kilday farm.  The Dickson and Gill children attended.  Mordecai Thomas taught in the same vicinity from 1804 to 1808, and Owen David for ten or twelve years subsequently.  George Andrews, an Irishman of considerable education and talent, held a term at the Dickson cabin about 1804.  The early schools were usually kept in abandoned roundlog-cabins, wholly unsupplied with apparatus or conveniences.  As a rule the pupils were few and the teachers poorly educated.
    The Evangelical Lutheran Church, at Black's Corners, was organized, with fourteen members, by Rev. John A. Nuner, at Burns' Schoolhouse, two miles north of the present church, in 1854, and in that year the church edifice was erected at a cost of $400.  The membership is quite small, numbering about twenty.  Since July, 1880, the congregation has been supplied by Rev. Eli Miller, of Venango.  Rev. Nuner, the first pastor, remained several years.  His successors have been:  Revs. Weixel, Bechtel, I. J. Delo, D. M. Kemerer, I. J. Delo again, and Eli Miller.  The earliest members included Adam Brookhouser, Abraham Gehr, Daniel Snyder and Conrad Cole.
    Pleasant Hill United Brethren Church, at Black's Corners, was organized with forty members in 1869, by Rev. Silas Casterline.  Herman Rice and John Braddish were early leading members.  The church edifice was erected in 1870, at a cost of about $1,700.  The membership is about thirty, and the class is a part of Cussewago Circuit.
    Near Black's Corners, on the farm of Roderick Frazier, stands a Wesleyan Methodist frame church, erected about 1849.  Among the early members of the society that worships here were:  David Jones, Esack Jones, Samuel Marsh, Andrew Ikler and Appleton Blakeley.  The membership is now reduced to six or eight, but the society, with commendable zeal, still maintains services.
    A Methodist Episcopal class was organized at the house of Ebenezer Seavy, on French Creek opposite Saegertown, in 1826, by Revs. I. H. Tackett and John W. Hill, then of Meadville Circuit.  Samuel Harriman, the first class-leader, Ebenezer Seavy, Jedidiah Freeman and John McGill, were its principal early members. Meetings were hold for a short time in Seavy's cabin, then on the second floor of Foster's distillery, on the same farm, for several years, when a rudely furnished frame meeting-house was erected at Frederick Hickernell's, two miles further up the creek, where services were hold for many years.  Members left to form Saegertown and other classes, and the society was dissolved.
    The Metboditst Episcopal class at Coon's Corners was organized with twelve members in 1844, by Rev. I. C. T. McClelland, of Saegertown Circuit.  The first pastors, Jacob Cease, Francis Seavy and Peter Ridell, were early members.  Early meetings were held at Burns' Schoolhouse, and in 1848 a frame meeting-house was erected at a cost of $700.  It has since been remodeled, and is still occupied.  This appointment is known as Hamlin's, and belongs to Saegertown Circuit.  About twenty-five persons claim membership here.
    At Coon's Corners stands an old church, wherein a Seventh Day Baptist congregation formerly worshipped [sic].  The building was erected by that society about 1842.  Among its early members were:  Simeon and Gideon Dunn, Maxson Greenlee, Louis Dunham and Morris Cole.  Elders Brown and Randolph were early pastors.  The congregation was reduced in membership, and at last was dissolved.  A society of Adventists organized in 1861, then occupied the building for a few years, but this congregation has also passed away.
    The Methodist society at Hayfield or Little's Corners, was organized in 1852, with nine members, by Rev. J. K. Hallock, the first pastor.  Among the prom- <page 564> inent early members were:  Elijah Amidon, Mrs. Margaret Reynolds, John Morehouse, Abraham De Forest and Sylvester Mann.  The early meetings were conducted in the schoolhouse, and in 1853 the present frame church edifice was reared at an expense of about $1,700.  The membership is about forty.  The society was at first attached to Conneautville, and is now a part of Harmonsburg Circuit.
    The Norrisville, formerly Summerhill United Brethren Church was organized about 1853, by Rev. Rittenhouse.  William Chapin and wife, Hiram Spencer and Edward Vredingburg and wife, were the first five members.  Meetings were held in a schoolhouse in Summerhill Township until about 1860, when the church structure was erected in Hayfield, near its western line.  The society numbers about forty, and is a part of Cussewago Circuit.
    Hayfield or Little's Corners is the largest village in the township.  It contains two stores, a water grist-mill, owned by Hazen Brothers, a steam saw-mill, a water saw-mill, a broom handle factory, operated by P. J. Beebe, a tannery, operated by E. Snyder, a wagon shop, a blacksmith shop, a church, a schoolhouse and about thirty families.  The village is a growth of nearly forty years. William B. Morris operated a carding-mill here as early as 1845.  Sylvester Mann, as early as 1860, opened a store, Charles Adams, of Conneautville, furnishing the stock of goods.  The postoffice is named Hayfield.  The Postmasters have been:  William B. Morris, George Amidon, Sylvester Mann, Eliab Skeel and A. C. Spencer.
    Coon's Corners is a hamlet situated a mile east of Hayfield, and near the center of the township.  It contains a postoffice, a store, blacksmith shop, wagon shop, church, and a half dozen dwelling-houses.
    On the western line of the township is the hamlet of Norrisville.  It contains two stores, one of which is in Summerhill Township, a church, and about six dwellings.
    James Jones owns a water saw-mill on Cussewago Creek, in the southern part of the township.  William V. Morse owns one near Hayfield Postoffice, and close by is a jelly factory.