Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography
 "Township Histories." 

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MEAD is the oldest township of Crawford County.  It was formed prior to the organization of this county, while all the territory of northwestern Pennsylvania was embraced in Allegheny County.  Mead Township then included all of what is now Crawford and Erie Counties, but at the first session of the courts in Meadville, in July, 1800, the former county was divided into eight townships, and Mead was greatly reduced in area, embracing besides most of its present territory, parts of Vernon, Hayfield, Woodcock, Richmond and most of Randolph; it was still further reduced to about its <page 565> present size in 1828 or 1829.  It is now the second township in size, and contains 25,683 acres, valued in 1882 at $483,195.  Population of its large territory in 1820 was 1,301; in 1850 it contained 1,810 inhabitants; in 1860, 2,309; in 1870, 2,421; in 1880, 2,857.
    French Creek forms the western boundary, Woodcock is north, Randolph east, and East Fairfield and the northwest corner of Wayne south.  The eastern part is drained by Little Sugar Creek, which rises in the northeast portion and flows south into East Fairfield.  The surface is rolling, and the soil is of good quality.  Dairying and stock-raising are largely engaged in.  The New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad and its Franklin Branch pass through the township along the valley of French Creek.  The feeder of the old Erie and Beaver Canal also extended from its head, at Bemustown above Meadville through the township along French Creek.
    Of Mead Township, Rev. Timothy Alden thus writes in the Allegheny Magazine, in 1817:  "The Township of Mead, which obtained that appellation in honor of the late Major-General David Mead, the first citizen of the United States who explored and settled in this region, is about eighteen miles in length, from east to west, and eight in width.  It is bounded on the west, about two miles and a half from French Creek, on the westerly side, by Sadsbury; from the northwest corner to French Creek by Venango; on the north from French Creek by Rockdale; on the east by Oil Creek; on the south, to French Creek by Wayne; and from French Creek to the southwestern corner by Fairfield. it consists of 89,040 acres of land, of which 52,350 in the eastern part of the township consists of some of the donation lands of the Seventh District.  The township is agreeably variegated with hills and dales, but sufficiently level for all the purposes of agriculture.  Like most of the county, it is in general better for grass than for grain.  For the former, no part of the United States is believed to be better adapted, and of the latter, nothing but the hand of cultivation is wanted to furnish an abundance for a numerous population.  From one-seventh to one-fifth may be considered first-rate land.  Of the residue a hundred acres in one body can, perhaps, nowhere be found so broken or so ordinary in quality as to come under the denomination of third rate.  Springs of the purest water abound in all directions, from which never-failing brooks proceed to irrigate and enhance the value of every plantation in the township.
    "Van Horn's Run, Kossewaugo Creek, on the western side of French Creek, Mill Run, rising in Wayne, taking a circuitous northwesterly course and passing through the village of Meadville, some of the branches of Little Sugar Creek, of Big Sugar Creek, of Oil Creek, and of Woodcock Creek on the east side of French Creek, afford many eligible sites for water-works.  At present there are four mills for grain, three for sawing logs. and others are begun or contemplated.  Two carding-machines and one fulling-mill are also impelled by water.
    "Of forest trees the following list, though imperfect, shows something of the variety:  white oak, red oak, black oak, chestnut, hickory in all its species, beech, cherry, sycamore or buttonwood, white ash, black ash, sugar tree, dark and light, soft maple, black birch, white pine, hemlock, white elm, red elm, slippery elm, sassafras, poplar or white wood, quaking asp, cucumber, ironwood, dogwood, not the poisonous kind, called boxwood in some parts, bass or linden, sumach, konnekonik, etc.  Of wild fruit there are: crab-apple, plums of several kinds, and of a delicious flavor, haws, white, red and black, whortleberries, blue and black in a few places, strawberries, very fine and abundant, blackberries, high and low in great plenty, raspberries, white, red and purple, <page 566> which are excellent, wild currants, gooseberries, cranberries and nuts of different sorts in vast quantities.  Hops, high balm, ginseng, bloodroot, evin root or chocolate root, and many other kinds of roots and herbage, of valuable properties, are the spontaneous growth of Mead as well as of other townships in the county of Crawford.
    "Health, the greatest of all merely temporal blessings, is nowhere more prevalent than in this part of the country.  Instances of the goitres are occasionally found, which are probably caused by the common family use of pure, cold spring water, but are seldom accompanied with much inconvenience."
    Mead Township was the place of the first settlement in Crawford County.  As stated in a previous chapter of this volume, a company of nine men on the 12th day of May, 1788, landed at the site of Meadville, having journeyed into the midst of the vast wilderness from Northumberland County.  The outlook was a gloomy one.  They were far from any white settlements and poorly supplied with the means of making a livelihood.  Most of the men returned to the East, where if they must live with less independence they could at least enjoy more of the comforts of life.  When Indian hostilities began all were obliged to forsake their homes till the storm blew over.   For several years prior to 1795 there was doubtless little if any permanent settlement in the township or county beyond the fort at Meadville, though for a few years previous clearings were made and crops raised by the venturesome pioneers, working in bands for mutual protection.  David Mead patented a tract on the west bank of French Creek about one mile above Meadville, but in the fall of 1788 removed to the site of Meadville, abandoned by Thomas Grant.  John Mead and Cornelius Van Horn, two early pioneers, became life-long settlers in what is now Vernon Township.  James Fitz Randolph, another of the original settlers of 1788, located a tract about two miles south of Meadville in this township.  Samuel Lord, John Wentworth and Frederick Haymaker, among others, followed the Mead company to French Creek.  Samuel Lord settled on the tract "Mount Hope," the site of North Meadville.  He had been a Revolutionary soldier and a noted Indian fighter.  He kept a store in Meadville and had a large trade with the Indians, whose good-will he possessed and whose speech he had acquired.  He was a Federalist in politics and took a leading interest in public affairs.
    The settlement was increased in 1789 by Darius Mead, Frederick Baum and Robert Fitz Randolph.  Mr. Fitz Randolph was born in Essex County, N. J.; he married when young and removed to Pennsylvania.  He served during the Revolution, and at its close took up his residence in Northumberland County.  In 1789 he with his family immigrated to French Creek, arriving at Meadville, July 6. He settled at once on a farm two miles below, where he remained until his death, July 16, 1830, in his eighty-ninth year.  During the war of 1812, in one of the alarms occasioned by the approach of the enemy at Erie, he mustered his household, consisting of four sons and two or three grandsons, and placing himself at their head marched to meet the expected foe.  He was then in his seventy-second year and before reaching Erie was induced to return.  His sons James, Edward, Robert, Taylor and Esaac were also pioneers.
    Frederick Baum settled on a tract which be patented, situated about a mile farther down French Creek, in the southwest part of Mead Township.  He was a German.  John Baum, who was one of the earliest settlers in the same vicinity, was reputed the strongest man in the settlements.
    The northwest corner of Mead Township consists of a tract patented by Thomas Ray.  He was one of the earliest to migrate to the western wilderness, and in the spring of 1791, on the day Cornelius Van Horn was taken prisoner, <page 567> [blank] <page 568> [portrait of Franklin J. Waid] <page 569> [portrait of Maggie E. Waid] <page 570> [blank] <page 571> he also was captured by Indiana near Meadville, where his companion, William Gregg, was killed.  Ray was taken to Detroit, and after his release returned to Mead Township and completed his settlement on French Creek, where he remained through life.  He was a native Scotchman, and like many of his countrymen indulged freely in the potent cup.  His family is scattered, and one of his sons, Thomas, became a noted Methodist minister.
    Martin Kycenceder was one of the earliest settlers about two miles southeast of Meadville.  He had been a Hessian soldier in the Revolution, was captured by the Americans and at the close of the struggle remained in this country.  He owned no real estate in this township but remained its citizen till death.  Descendants still live in the county.
    William Clark settled on the tract immediately south of David Mead's, much of it now being within the city limits.  Judge Clark, as he was known, was one of the earliest Associate Judges.  He was a Democrat and a politician of considerable note.  In old age he removed to a farm on the Susquehanna, near Harrisburg, where he died.
    Nicholas Lord, brother of Samuel Lord, patented a tract about one and a half miles east of Meadville on Mill Run, where he settled in t795.  Thomas Frew was an early settler on the John Frew tract and William Eaches on the tract patented by himself, both northeast of Meadville.  John Wilkins patented and settled the tract immediately east of Meadville, but he did not remain long.  David Compton, one of the foremost pioneers of Vernon Township near Vallonia, lost two children by the burning of his cabin in March, 1812, and soon after moved about two miles below Meadville in Mead Township and continued farming there through life.
    The central and eastern parts of the township belonged almost entirely to the domain of the Holland Land Company.  Its earliest settlements are thus recorded in the books of that company, the dates being those of contracts, which preceded actual settlement only a few days.  In all but very few instances the persons below named settled on the tracts, but a number did not remain long:  Tracts 178 and 182, David Compton, 150 acres each, November 24, 1797, deed executed for 50 acres to Peter and George Brendle, assignees; James Smith purchased 150 acres same tract November 30, 1807; Tract 179, David Compton, 200 acres, November 24, 1797, deed executed to George and Peter Brendle, assignees; Tract 180, William Hope, 200 acres, November 10, 1800; same tract, Jacob Beetom purchased 100 acres, April 22, 1805; Tract 181, Hugh Allen and Samuel Hobbs, 200 acres, March 18, 1802, deed executed to Samuel Torbett and the heirs of Allen; Tract 183, Edward Douglas, 136 acres, February 17, 1802, re-purchased; Tract 184, William Glenn, 150 acres, August 1, 1798; Tract 185, Edward Dunfield, 150 acres, October 10, 1798, contract not executed; same tract, Oliver Chase, 150 acres, March 15, 1803; Tract 186, Joseph Andrews, 150 acres, November 10, 1800, deed executed 1802; Tract 187, Joseph Parr, 150 acres, October 10, 1798; Tracts 188 and 189, Samuel Torbett, 200 acres each, November 1, 1796, recovered by ejectment; Tract 188, David Torbett, 100 acres, June 1, 1805, deed delivered; Tract 190, James Hunter, 200 acres, October 22, 1800, deed executed 1801; Tract 191, Roger Allen purchased 330 acres in 1803; Tract 192, James Masters, 100 acres, February 27, 1810; same tract, Jacob and Daniel Sitler, 164 acres, March 19, 1810; Tract 193, John Hunter and John Hunter, Jr., 200 acres, October22, 1800, deed executed 1801; same tract, James Hamilton purchased 100 acres, March 7, 1805; Tract 194, James Hamilton, 200 acres December 4, 1797; Tract 195, Peter Kimmey, 150 acres, August 14, 1801; Tract 196, Beriah attles, 150 acres, August 21, 1799, deed executed; Tract <page 572> 201, Alexander and Joseph Johnson, 150 acres, July 22, 1797, deed executed to Joseph Johnson; Tract 202, James De France, 50 acres, May 17, 1798; Tract 203, Job Calvert, 100 acres, September 13, 1799, assigned to Jacob Stanbrook; Tract 204, Robert Little, 200 acres, July 18, 1801; Tract 205, James Anderson and James Anderson, Jr., 200 acres, October 13, 1796, deed executed; Tract 206, same parties and date, 152 acres, assigned to Martin Whalen, 1805; Tract 207, George Lowry, 200 acres, December 6, 1797, assigned to Henry Hurst; Tract 208, William Milligan, 100 acres, September 22, 1798, contract forfeited, new contract with Job Calvert, January 23, 1804; Tract 209, Andrew McFadden, 150 acres, December 22, 1801; Tract 210, James De France, 100 acres, May 17, 1798; Tract 211, James McDill, 150 acres, November 18, 1796; Tract 218, John McFadden, Jr., 100 acres, July 30, 1799, deed executed to Frederick Stainbrook, assignee; Tracts 218 and 219, William Milligan, 100 acres each, September 22, 1797, assigned to James McKnight and James Sterrett; Tract 220, Severin Bolt, 150 acres, July 30, 1799; Tract 232, John McClelland, 150 acres, August 13, 1799, deed executed to heirs of McClelland in 1808.
    David Compton, as stated above, settled on French Creek below Meadville, and must have performed the conditions of settlement in Tracts 178 and 182 by means of a tenant until he disposed of his claims to the Brendles, who became actual settlers thereon.  William Hope was a wagon-maker of Meadville.  Jacob Beetum is not remembered, and probably removed from this vicinity early.  Hugh Allen and Samuel Hobbs the latter from Vermont, were both residents of Tract 181; Samuel Torbett, the assignee of Hobbs, was an inn-keeper at Meadville.  Edward Douglas cleared the first land on Tract 183.  William Glenn came from Lycoming County, and settled in the southwest part of Tract 184, where he died, leaving a large family.  Edward Dunfield was not known to the oldest inhabitant, and could not have remained long.  Oliver Chase died on his farm in Tract 185.  He was a Methodist, and his grandson now occupies the old homestead.  Joseph Andrews is remembered as the pioneer of Tract 186.  Joseph Parr is forgotten.  James Hunter, from Allegheny County, resided till death on Tract 190, and his son is still there.  Roger Allen and James Masters are both remembered as pioneers on their respective tracts; the latter remained till death, and his sons removed from the township.  Jacob and Daniel Sitler, Germans and Lutherans, were life-long settlers on Tract l92.  James Hamilton was a prominent pioneer, and has left a numerous posterity.  Peter Kimmey was here till death, and his grandchildren yet remain.  Beriah Battles was the pioneer of Frenchtown, but moved away a few years later.  Alexander and Joseph Johnson were the pioneers of adjacent farms in Randolph Township.  James De France, from Lycoming County, remained on Tract 210 until sometime between 1815 and 1820, when he removed to Mercer County.  He was a fuller by trade.  As indicated by the records William Milligan abandoned his settlement on Tract 208.  His successor, Job Calvert, remained many years.  Jacob Stainbrook was a German, and remained in the southwest part of Tract 203 until death.  Robert Little, a farmer and a weaver, moved away in early times from his settlement in the northeast corner of Tract 204.  Both James Anderson and Martin Whalen were pioneers.  The McFaddens were among the earliest settlers.  James McDill was one of the foremost pioneers of the eastern part of the township.  He hailed from Lycoming County, came out an unmarried man, and later in life removed to Wayne Township, where he died.  He was by religious faith a Covenanter.  James McKnight moved West from his farm in Tract 218.  James Sterrett was a resident of Erie County.  Severin Bolt is not remembered, but John McClelland was an early settler.
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    As the Holland records show, the land which now comprises Mead Township was settled in every part between 1796 and 1800.  The settlements though were few, not more than one to a tract of 400 acres.  A few pioneers effected settlements on two tracts by erecting their cabins on the dividing line.  Many of the foremost moved away, while others remained life-long residents, and are yet represented in the township by children of the third and fourth generations.  The following additional settlers were taxpaying residents of Mead Township in 1810, many of them having located here years before that date:  Simeon Brown, Elizabeth Buchanan, Daniel Custard, Joseph Davis, Joseph Deemer, John Douglas, Alexander and William Ewing, Joseph Finney, Thomas Frew, George Fleek, John Grimes, David Hunter, George Kightlinger, Alexander Lindsey, Samuel McIlroy, Daniel Maloney, John Patterson, Henry Patterson, James Quigley, Hugh Williamson, Nathan and William Williams, Robert De France, John McCleary, the Stainbrooks, David Thurston, and Joseph Wright.
    Simeon Brown settled in the northeast part.  Elizabeth Buchanan was in 1810 the widow of Alexander Buchanan, a pioneer; she settled with her family two miles south of Meadville.  Daniel Custard was an Englishman, and owned a little place about a half mile southeast from the city.  Joseph Davis was a Presbyterian, and remained till his death in the southeast part of the township.  Alexander and William Ewing were brothers, and settled four miles east of Meadville, where they farmed and followed the cooper's trade.  William died on the farm, and Alexander removed to Ohio.  Joseph Finney settled north of Meadville.  On his farm was an extensive stone quarry, and the place was widely known as "Finney's rocks."  Thomas Frew resided on the turnpike, two miles north from the city.  George Fleek was a resident until death on Tract 178, in the northeast part of the township.  John Grimes was a life-long settler in the same vicinity.  George Kightlinger settled in the southeast part.  His brothers Michael and Abraham were also pioneers, the former of Wayne, the latter of East Fairfield Townships.  Alexander Lindsey erected his cabin two miles southeast from Meadville, near the head of Mill Run.  Samuel McIlroy was a weaver near Meadville.  Daniel Maloney, an Irishman, settled in the eastern part.  John Patterson settled south of the city.  Henry Patterson was a weaver.  James Quigley resided near Meadville.  Hugh Williamson was a carpenter, and one of the earliest settlers.  He resided until death a mile east of the county seat.  Nathan and William Williams were pioneers in the northern part.  John McCleary was a Presbyterian, and settled in the southeast part, remaining there through life.  Peter, John, Jacob, Christian and Adam Stainbrook were brothers.  John settled in East Fairfield, the others in Mead Township.  Henry, the son of Jacob, and Frederick, the son of John Stainbrook, were also tax-paying settlers in 1810.  The family was of German extraction, and now has representatives in the township.  David Thurston, who settled for life in the southeast part, hailed from New Jersey.  He was a weaver, and plied his trade in connection with farming.  Joseph Wright was here early, but not many years later took his permanent departure.
    In the southeast part, on Tract 202, Jacob Stainbrook about 1816 built a water grist-mill on a little brook that coursed through his farm.  It was a small, crude affair, with one run of stone, and could not be operated in dry weather.  It ground a little wheat and more corn.  As the only mill in this locality it was extensively patronized.  George Kightlinger, the son-in law of the builder, became proprietor, and managed the mill for many years.  William Moultrip about 1830 built a water-mill on a branch of Sugar Creek, on Tract 210, and ran it a number of years.
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    Two miles above Meadville Dr. Daniel Bemus, about 1830, erected an extensive saw and gristmill, the water-power for which was obtained from a dam, which he built across French Creek.  Large quantities of lumber, mostly pine, were sawed and dried, then floated down to Pittsburgh in boats constructed here.  Dr. Bemus also built an oil-mill, and operated it for some years, then in 1834-35 he rebuilt the structure, making it a three-story building, about 60x80 feet in size, costing nearly $10,000.  Before it was occupied the building was burned, June 13, 1835.  The grist and saw-mill remained under the management of Dr. Bemus, except for a few years, when it was leased by Collum & Lockart, until it too was destroyed by fire about 1856.  When the feeder to the Beaver & Erie Canal was constructed it was fed from French Creek through the Bemus dam, which thus became public property.  Bemustown, as the place was known, was at one time quite a little settlement, containing besides the mills a store and six or eight dwellings.
    Within the township the following mills are in operation:  Clemons' steam saw-mill in the eastern part; Bousson's steam saw, planing and shingle-mill, started in 1883, on Tract 202; Doane's old water saw-mill in the eastern part; Charles Stitzer's steam saw-mill, two miles southeast from Meadville; Daniel Richmond's steam saw-mill, near the last named, and probably others.  In the eastern part are two cheese factories, one owned by Marvin Lewis, the other by Polly & Jennet.
    Wayland, formerly Mead Corners, Postoffice, is located on Tract 189, in the eastern part.
    Frenchtown Postoffice, in the southeast part, is a hamlet containing a Catholic Church, a school, a store, a blacksmith shop, and five or six houses.
    Bousson Postoffice was established in 1883, in the southeast corner of Tract 203.
    Occasional schools were held in various parts of the township within a few years after the settlements were made, but it was a long time before regular schools were formed.  Mordecai Thomas taught one of the earliest about 1805 on the Ray farm, in the extreme northwest corner of the township.  In accordance with a custom which was prevalent for a long time thereafter, he was barred out one morning by his pupils.  He refused to submit to the conditions of a general "treat," demanded by the scholars in possession, and made several ineffectual attempts to regain the building before his sallies were met with success.  As is usual in such cases trouble arose between master and pupils in consequence of the protracted siege, and the school soon after was discontinued.  In the southeast part James Hamilton taught an early school about 1818.  At the same time he had undertaken to flail wheat for James Brawley in Randolph Township, and every night after dismissing school be trudged with pioneer fortitude three miles through the wilderness and flailed industriously until 12 or 1 o'clock.  William Wright was also an early pedagogue in that vicinity.
    Wayland Baptist Church, situated in the eastern part, is the home of a congregation organized January 27, 1838, at the schoolhouse near Ira Hatch's residence and about two miles northeast of the present church.  The constituent members were:  Philip Hatch, Andrew Braymer, Ira Hatch, Horatio Hatch, John Braymer, Rhoda Chase, Hannah Dewey, Abigail Braymer, Electa Hatch, Fanny Hatch, Sarah Ellis, Mary Hatch and Amanda Sizer, all of whom had received letters from Randolph Church.  The membership was soon after largely increased.  The first pastor was Elder Enos Stewart.  His successors, with terms of service, have been:  Elder William Look, 1840-43; Elder Colby, 1844; Dr. George Spratt, 1845-48; Dr. G. L. Stephens, supply, 1848; Nor-  <page 575> man Thomas, l848-50; B. M. Alden, 1851-53; Elder Henry B. Johnson, a Baptist student at Meadville, 1854-56; David Phillips, 1856-57; John Hicks, 1858-71; W. B. Grow, supply, 1872; David J. Williams, 1872-76; Dr. G. L. Stephens, supply, 1876-77; W. H. Ellis, 1878-80; George Whitman, supply, 1881; A. J. Adams, 1881-82.  Rev. James T. Bradford, present pastor since September 14, 1883.  Meetings were hold at the Dewey Schoolhouse until the present frame church was erected in 1840, at a cost of about $1,500.  The membership is 103.
    Brown's Chapel is the name of a Methodist Episcopal Church located in Tract 179, in the northern part of the township.  The class which worships here was organized with nine members in 1812, by Rev. J. Graham, of Erie Circuit.  Among the earliest members were: Oliver Chase and wife, Edward Douglas, John McFadden, Ruth Kimmey, Mr. Little and Mrs. Ph—be Brown, who is the only survivor of the original class.  The earliest ministers received a salary of from $50 to $100 per year.  The circuit was large, and the ministers must ride all day and fare at the backwoods cabin on bear meat or venison and corn cakes.  The first meetings were held at the cabin of John Grimes. about three-fourths of a mile south of the present church edifice, then in a schoolhouse, where the church stands, until about 1830, when a frame church was built.  It was never completely finished.  For the purpose of accommodating the room to the size of the audience, the church was divided into two apartments by a swing partition; a solid partition extended from the floor upwards for several feet, and above it were two huge swinging doors, which could be opened or shut at pleasure.  This building was occupied until 1848, when the present frame church was erected on the same site.  The membership of the society is sixty.  It is attached to Meadville Circuit, recently formed.  For many years previously it was a part of Saegertown Circuit.
    Pine Grove Methodist Episcopal Church is located in the south part of Tract 202 in the southeast part of the township.  It is a frame building, 32x40, and was erected in 1858 at a cost of $900.  A class was organized in this locality as early as 1825.  Among its foremost members were:  Joseph Baird, John Daniels, David Thurston, John McFadden and Job Calvert.  Meetings were held for a while at the cabins of its members, then in the schoolhouse until the present church was built.  The class has been a part of many circuits.  It has successively been attached to Saegertown, Cochranton, Townville and other circuits, and now belongs to the recently formed Meadville Circuit.  The present membership of the class is about thirty.
    St. Hippolytus Catholic Church was erected at Frenchtown in the southeast part of the township in October, 1837.  It was enlarged and remodeled in 1866 at a cost of $2,500.  The membership of the congregation includes about 150 families and is composed of a large colony of French people, who commenced immigrating to this vicinity as early as 1827.  At first only several families arrived, but their friends and acquaintances gradually left the native land and followed, until the settlement has become quite strong, extending into East Fairfield and other adjacent townships.  Among the earliest and most prominent members were: Paul Gerard, who donated the lot for the church edifice, John C. Dubet, John G. Demaison, Nicholas Monnin, Francis Jaquart, John B. Brown, John Galmish and Germain Devoge.  The congregation was formed about 1834, and was attended by nonresident priests until 1845, when Father Mark A. De LaRoque became the settled priest and remained more than twenty years.  He was succeeded by Father Eugene Cogneville, the present incumbent, who has served the congregation up to the present.