Crawford County, Pennsylvania

History & Biography
 "Township Histories." 

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IN accordance with a petition to lay out a new township from portions of Vernon, Greenwood and Fairfield, the Court of Quarter Sessions, April 24, 1867, appointed H. B. Beatty, Artist, and Barrett Brown and Charles Drake, Viewers, who reported May 16 following, favorably to the establishment of a new township, with the following bounds: "Beginning on the bank of French Creek, on what is known as the southerly of the Kennedy Tract; thence by said tract line to the southwest corner thereof and the northwest corner of D. Haman; thence south by the division line of land 195 perches to the southwest corner of Amborger, also the corner of Smith, Kebert et al.; thence west by the north line of said Smith to the center of a public road; thence south by said road and the west line of Smith to the northeast corner of the land of James Johnsons heirs; thence west by the division line of land to a point opposite the dividing line between Tracts 405 and 406; thence south by said dividing line to the center of the channel of Conneaut Outlet; thence down said channel by its several meanderings till its junction with French Creek, thence up said creek by its several courses and distances to the place of beginning."  On the 19th day of June, 1867, the court ordered that a vote should be taken July 18, 1867, by the electors of Vernon Township, the largest portion of the proposed new township coming from Vernon, and by the electors of Greenwood and Fairfield, who resided within the boundaries of the new township.  The election resulted: 135 votes for and 74 against the new township.
    The township thus formed is irregularly triangular in shape, separated by French Creek on the northeast from Mead and East Fairfield, and from Greenwood and Fairfield on the south and southwest by Conneaut Outlet.  The <page 673> division line on the northwest between Union and Vernon is very irregular.  The New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad crosses in this portion of the township.  The surface in the central part is high and rolling, and recedes in all directions to the borders of the township.  Along Conneaut Outlet a marshy waste, with an average width of half a mile, extended, but by dredging much of it has recently been reclaimed to agricultural purposes, and has proved to possess a highly productive soil.  The old Beaver Canal passed through the township, along the valley of Conneaut Outlet.  Union contains 7,939 acres, valued on the tax duplicate of 1882 at $174,018.  The population in 1870 was 622, and in 1880, 603.  It is a purely agricultural region, containing neither village nor hamlet.  Dutch Hill Postoffice was established many years ago, but has since been abolished, and the inhabitants for mail facilities rely on adjacent townships.
    The Meadville and Linesville Railroad circles through the north part of the township.
    Settlements were made in Union before the suspension of Indian hostilities.  John Huling, one of the first; and probably the foremost pioneer, came before 1795, and erected his cabin on the banks of French Creek near the southeast corner of the township, on the present farm of William H. Harrington.  A temporary fort was built on his farm, in which the few scattering settlers took refuge at night.  The tragedy of June, 1795, occurred on his farm.  Two young men, James Findlay and Barney McCormick, were splitting rails for Mr. Huling about sixty rods from Conneaut Outlet and a mile from its month, on the present farm of H. Woodworth.  A band of savages approached, killed and scalped the two men and disappeared before help could arrive.  One of the victims fell where he had been at work, the other had retreated to the adjoining thicket and was there overtaken and killed.  At Hulings cabin the two shots were heard.  The first report was supposed to issue from the rifle of Aaron Wright, a hunter of Fairfield, but when the second was heard the presence of the Indians was suspected.  Aaron Wright himself heard the shots, and so keen was his sense of hearing that he knew they came from strange rifles.  Mr. Huling died on his farm prior to 1810.  His wife, Agnes, survived until 1814, and was buried in Conneaut Cemetery in the northeast corner of Fairfield.  Marcus, James and Ceal Huling were their sons.
    Robert Wilson settled in the northern part at the mouth of Wilsons Run in 1797, or earlier.  He remained here until death, leaving a wife but no children.
    The exact date of David Mumfords arrival is not known, but it was prior to 1797.  He was born in New Jersey, and emigrated from Washington County, this State, to the farm in Tract 429, now owned by J. Hannah, near the center of Union, where he remained engaged in clearing the land and tilling the soil until his death in 1816.  He had served in the Revolutionary war, was a Methodist, and an intelligent, prominent pioneer.  His children were: James, William, Peter, Margaret, wife of John Williams; Sarah, wife of William McFadden, and Martha, wife of Arthur Johnson.
    A half dozen Holland land tracts are found along the French Creek.  Contracts for their settlement were made as follows: Tract 71, Tunis Elson, 100 acres, August 5, 1799, deed executed June 25, 1804; Tract 72, George Wentzel, 150 acres, August 5, 1799; Tract 73, Peter Elson, 150 acres, August 5, 1799, deed executed July 9, 1804; Tract 74, John McDill, 100 acres, August 5, 1799, deed executed July 9, 1805; Tract 75, William Armstrong, 150 acres, September 26, 1799, deed delivered January 23, 1806; Tract 76, William Armstrong, 150 acres, September 26, 1799, deed executed to Thomas Van Horn, <page 674> assignee, December 22, 1810.  All the above were settlers on their respective tracts.  Tunis Elson was a German and followed farming on his farm until death.  Peter Elson was his brother, and remained on the farm of his early settlement through life.  Henry Elson was a resident of the township prior to 1798.  John and George Elson, the two sons of Peter, afterward died on their fathers farm.  George Wentzel or Vinsel was a powerful German and had three brothers, David, George and Henry, who were also early settlers.  The entire family afterward removed to Ohio.  John McDill removed to another part of the county, and the subsequent whereabouts of William Armstrong are not known.  The above settlements were probably all made in 1799.
    Other pioneers of the township who came about the opening of the present century were: James Birchfield, Mrs. Nelly Beatty, James and Samuel Davis, John and William Henry, Samuel Kincaid, Andrew Mehaffey, John McFadden, Leonard Smock, Theodore Scowdon, Robert Stitt and James Smith.  James Birchfield came from the Susquehanna River in 1800, and settled on Tract 427, in the western part of the township.  He was a prominent citizen, an Elder in the old Fairfield Township Seceder Church, and an Associate Judge of the county.  His children were: James, Samuel, John, Jesse, David, Mary (wife of Arthur Johnson), Sarah (wife of William May), and Mrs. Edward Herrington.  Mrs. Nelly Beatty, a widow, resided in the southern part with her sons John, James and Matthew.  James and Samuel Davis were brothers.  The former cleared a farm in the western part of Union, and died there in July, 1819.  His son, J. S. Davis, now occupies the old place.  Samuel Davis settled on Wilson Run, in the north part of the township, and remained there till death.  He was one of a very few pioneers who owned slaves in this county.  Samuel Kincaid settled on the farm on Conneaut Creek now owned by N. A. Bligh.  He taught singing-school in early times and filled the office of Constable.  He removed to Meadville and died there.  Andrew Mehaffey was his close neighbor on Conneaut Creek.  John McFadden was also one of the earliest in the southern part.  Leonard Smock, a native of New Jersey, came from Westmoreland County about 1805, and settled a half mile north of Conneaut Creek.  Theodore Scowden came from the Susquehanna in 1800, and became a life-long pioneer of Tract 428.  His children were: Samuel, Simeon, John, Theodore, William, David, Mary, wife of Gabriel Davis; Sarah, wife of John Minnis; Elizabeth, wife of Hugh Swaney; Catherine, wife of Samuel Power; and Elsie, wife of David Birchfield.  Robert Stitt was also a pioneer settler of Tract 428.  James Smith came from the valley of the Tuscarora, in Juniata County, in 1805.
    About 1832 a German settlement commenced, which has continued until at present citizens of this nationality own and occupy about two-thirds of the township.  Almost without exception they hail from the Palatinate, Bavaria, and the colony received constant accessions until within about ten years.  They have purchased whatever land in the township was offered for sale, but are no longer able to provide sufficient land for the rising generation, colonies of whom have been established near Sugar Lake, Wayne Township and in Missouri.
    The greater part of this German element adheres to Zion German Reformed Church, which was organized about 1840.  Among the first members were John Kebort, Francis and Frederick Stein, Andrew Kahler, William Hubers, Peter Steir Peter Weber and John Weaver.  Rev. Philip Zeiser organized the church and remained its pastor about eighteen years.  He resided at New Hamburg, Mercer County, and held services also during this period at Watsons Run, Saegertown and Mosiertown.  Rev. D. B. Ernst of Saegertown then <page 675> supplied the congregation for a short time followed by Rev. L. D. Leberman, who remained until 1864.  Rev. David Klopp then preached one year, and Rev. F. Wall, three years; succeeded in 1872 by Rev. D. D. Leberman of Meadville, the present pastor.  The first house of worship was a log structure, superseded by the present frame building.  It is located on Tract 429, near the center of the township, was repaired in 1879 at a cost of $500, and has a seating capacity of 300.  Services are held once in two weeks and conducted alternately in the English and German languages; the communicant membership is 160.
    Mt. Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1826 with twelve members, by Revs. John Leach and H. Kinsley of Mercer Circuit; meetings were held for many years in cabins and schoolhouses.  The present edifice, located in the north part of Tract 72, was erected in 1858, at a cost of $1,000.  The class is a part of Evansburg Circuit, and has a membership of about forty.  A Methodist class was organized at the cabin of David Mumford soon after the year 1800.  It at first included but three families, those of Mr. Mumford, Andrew McFadden and John Leach, the latter of Mercer County.  Meetings were held for many years at the house of David Mumford, and afterward at schoolhouses.  The class has been defunct for many years.
    James Smith is said to have built the first saw-mill.  He was an early Justice and carried on a blacksmith shop.  Theodore and Hiram Power kept an early store at the pike crossing of the old Beaver Canal.  William Birchfield kept a public house at Dutch Hill.  Mr. Wilson erected a small corn-cracker on Wilsons Run, and Gabriel Davis had an early grist and saw-mill in the southern part.  The marriage of John Williams to Margaret Mumford in 1802 was one of the earliest in the township.