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Boggs Township History




History of Clearfiled County, Pennsylvania: with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers by Lewis Cass Aldrich Syracuse, N.Y.:  D. Mason, 1887, pp.434-443. 






THIS township occupies a position in the county in the eastern part, and southeast from the county seat. Like a majority of the townships, it is irregular in form, evidently created with reference to the convenience of its people rather than symmetry. It is bounded on the north by Bradford and Lawrence ; east by Graham, Morris, and a small part of Decatur ; south by Decatur, Woodward and part of Knox, and west by Knox and Lawrence townships. The greatest distance across the township is an east and west course, averaging about nine and one-half miles, while its average north and south distance is but about four and one-half miles. It is divided from Lawrence township, as far up as the mouth of Little Clearfield Creek, by the greater Clearfield Creek, while from the mouth of the lesser stream (Little Clearfield), to the extreme north point of Knox township, the latter stream forms the division line, and as the course of both of these streams is decidedly devious and winding, the western boundary is the most irregular.


The settlement of this section was made long years before the formation of Boggs, as a township, was contemplated. It was then a part of Bradford township. The events of its early settlement were not unlike that in other sections, and from competent authority the following data is gathered :


George Shimmel commenced an improvement on lands about half a mile from the present borough of Wallaceton, in the year 1810.


In the same year Philip Shimmel began clearing a farm on the old State road, near the point known as Maple Springs.


Henry Shimmel, another member of the same family, commenced in the same year. The pioneer work in the forest that grew on the site of the borough of Wallaceton, was commenced by Henry Folk in the year 1813.


Abraham Hess came to this county from York county in that year. He commenced an improvement on the east side of Clearfield Creek in 1813.


In the same year, 1813, Nimrod Derrick made a clearing on the old State road, in what is now Boggs township.


Abraham Litz also commenced in the same year on the banks of Clearfield Creek.


About the same time George Wilson made a farm on the same stream.


Samuel Turner killed a panther, and called to Litz to fetch his dog, while engaged in making a clearing on Clearfield Creek in the year 1813.


The next year, 1814, Andrew Kephart commenced an improvement on the old State road.


Jacob Haney also commenced on the same road in the same year.


On the site of the saw- mill now owned by Wilson R. Hoover, near the mouth of Long Run, George Wilson built a saw-mill about this time, 1814.


The first tavern in this locality was built in 1820, by Alexander Stone, one of the pioneers, on the line of the old Erie turnpike.


About the same time William Lumadue built a tavern on the pike. On the road leading from Philipsburg to Clearfield, the Millwood farm was made in the year 1820. This farm was made before the road was built.


Bresaler's tavern, on the Erie turnpike, was built in 1821.


The Elder saw-mills and carding-machine were erected and put in operation near the mouth of Little Clearfield Creek, in the year 1815.


Abraham Elder's saw-mill, located a short distance from Blue Ball, was built in 1828.


The saw-mill of Jerry Smeal, at Blue Ball, was built in the year 1838.


James H. Turner, now a resident of Wallaceton, worked on this mill.


The above record comprises a list of the important settlements and mill erections prior to the organization of the township. The precise description or the exact date of the erection of Boggs township cannot be ascertained from the records of the Quarter Sessions Court. The original papers, the petitions and orders have become lost, and the written record, or the record that should have been written in the docket, has been neglected. It is generally understood that Boggs township was erected in the early part of 1838. This is undoubtedly correct, yet the proceedings may have been instituted in 1837. In 1838 the township elected its first officers, as shown by the election returns, as follows : Supervisors, William Lumadue and Abraham Hess ; constable, George McCord ; overseers, Jacob Haney and John Beers ; school directors, George Wilson, George Turner, George Goss, George Shimmel, John L. Gearhart, and Abraham Hess.


It appears that at the April Sessions of the year 1838, George Wilson presented a petition stating that he holds a certain tract of land warranted in the name of Hezekiah Bye, in Bradford township, and adjoining the line of Boggs, which said tract is so situated as to be excluded from the advantages of the public schools, and praying the court to appoint commissioners to alter the line of Boggs township, so as to include said tract in said township. For this purpose the court appointed Alexander B. Reed, James T. Leonard, and Richard Shaw. The records disclose no report of these commissioners.


Still later, at the December term of the same court, a petition was presented by John Wiser, sr., and John Wiser, jr., and others, setting forth that in the division of Bradford, Jordon and Decatur, and the formation of Boggs township, they are left in a remote corner of Bradford, greatly to their disadvantage in school and other purposes, and pray the appointment of commissioners to alter the line of Bradford and Boggs so as to include them in the new township of Boggs. In answer to this petition the court referred the matter to the commissioners in the proceeding before referred to, but no report appears upon the records. These requests, however, were favorably considered and granted by the court upon the report of the commissioners, and the names of both parties appear on the assessment roll made by the assessor of the township in the year following, 1839.


In the year last mentioned George Turner was the assessor of Boggs township, and he, under an order of the county commissioners then serving, James B. Graham, Isaiah Goodfellow, and John Stites, made a roll of all the taxable inhabitants of the township, from which said assessment roll the following list is taken showing the names of taxables, the extent of their lands in acres, and the amount of their assessment for the year 1839.


David Adams, 427 acres, $1,281 ; John Buchmire, 100 acres, $200; John Beers, 90 acres. $180; Robert Beers, 144 acres, $288 ; Philip Benehoof, 100 acres, $200; Joseph Bush, 162 acres, $324; John Cuttle, 100 acres, $300; John Gearhart, 100 acres, $100; George Goss, 100 acres, $100; John Haney, no land, two oxen, $50 ; Jacob Haney, 100 acres, $250; Abraham Haney, single man, no land, $50; Henry Hummel, jr., 100 acres, $100; Abraham Hess, 200 acres, $650; Isaac Hess, 100 acres, $200; Andrew Kephart, one cow, $12; John Kephart, 100 acres, $175 ; William Lumadue, inn keeper, 500 acres, $600; Rudolf Litz, 75 acres, $175 ; John Litz, single man, $50; John Logan, 100 acres, $175 ; John W. Miller, 100 acres, $200; Harrison Miller, single man, $50; John McCord, 100 acres, $400; John Peters, no acres, $220; William Porter, 32 acres, $32 ; George Smeal, l100 acres, $100, sawmill, $200; Jeremiah Smeal, one cow, $12, one horse, $60; George Swartsleonard, 50 acres, $100; Cornelius Shippy, 100 acres, $100; George Shimmel, jr., 100 acres, $200; Jacob Smeal, 100 acres, $200; Alexander Stone, 50 acres, $100; John Stites, 112 acres, $224; James M. Shaw, 200 acres, $350 Daniel Smeal, 100 acres, $200; Jesse Stone, loi acres, $101 ; Henry Shimmel, 238 acres, $476; George Turner, 100 acres, $250; John Wiser, jr., 112 acres, $224; John Wiser, one cow, $12 ; George Wilson, 360 acres, $1,560; Joseph Williams, 50 acres, $100; George Wilson, single man, $50; Valentine Gearhart, 100 acres, $100; David Gearhart, 100 acres, $100; Peter Gearhart, 100 acres, $100; Joseph Gray, 100 acres, $100; Jacob Goss, 100 acres, $200 John Gearhart, two cows, $24.


These then were the resident taxables in the year 1839, representing a population of less than two hundred and twenty-five persons. As an evidence of the growth of the township since that enumeration was made, it appears that there are at present a total number of taxables of two hundred and sixty three. This number does not include the borough of Wallaceton, which has a population of about two hundred and twenty-five persons, and which, geographically, lies within Boggs township.


After the organization of the township settlement, or rather population increased rapidly, the farming lands were improved and often subdivided, the resources were developed and Boggs took its place among the progressive townships of the county. Including the borough of Wallaceton its present population is about thirteen hundred and fifty. It will be observed, by reference to the above mentioned roll, that but one person, George Smeal, is assessed as owning a saw-mill. There is a probable error in that statement, as other mills were certainly built before that date.


In the year 1860 Thompson's grist-mill was built on Morgan Run, and Merritt's saw-mill was built on the same stream, and in the same year. The Warren saw-mill was built on Laurel Run in the year 1840.


Turning briefly from the events of settlement and internal improvement of the township, a reference to and description of the territory occupied by these pioneers will be found of interest, and, as Boggs township is possessed of the same natural resources as any of the county's townships, and more than some, a reference may properly be made concerning that feature of its being


The surface of the earth generally throughout the entire length and breadth of this township may be classed as hilly and rough, but there is less of the mountainous formation than is to be found in many other localities.


The chief stream of the township is Clearfield Creek, which forms the western boundary for a few miles and then passes through the remaining part, flowing a generally north course. From the mouth of Little Clearfield Creek to the line of Knox township the latter stream extends, giving Boggs the benefit wholly of the greater Clearfield and in part of the lesser Clearfield Creek. Clearfield Creek, the main stream, has a number of tributaries, the course of which, in whole, or in part, is in Boggs township. The northern one of these is Long Run. As its name indicates, this is a long stream, and an unusually straight one ; its head waters being not far from the Salem U. B. Church, from whence it flows a west by northwest course, crosses the southwest corner of Bradford and discharges into Clearfield Creek, north of a sharp bend.


Morgan Run is probably the largest stream lying within the township tributary to Clearfield Creek. Its head- waters are in the central- southern part of the township, whence it flows a north and west direction, receiving, in its course, the waters of several rivulets. The lands bordering on Morgan Run have, produced fine timber, and it is a fact that more saw-mills have been built on this than on any stream in the township. South of this the other streams are Camp Hope Run, Sanborn Run, and Raccoon Run, each of which are within the township, and discharge into Clearfield Creek.


In the eastern part of the township is Laural Run, a stream that is a fair rival to Morgan Run, and one that has been an important factor in the vast lumbering enterprises carried on in its vicinity, and furnished power to a number of saw-mills built along its banks. This stream flows a generally southeast course and empties into the Moshannon a short distance below Philipsburg.


The geological formation of Boggs township is one of its noticeable features. As extracted from the report recently made by H. M. Chance, it is as follows : The prevailing dip throughout the central part of the township is to the west and northwest.


Two miles west from Blue Ball Station is the fire-clay overlying the Conglomerate. It lies at elevations varying from 1,830 to 2,050 feet above tide. At Blue Ball the top of the Conglomerate is not more than 1,580, and at Wallaceton aboat [sic]1,720 feet above tide. The first anticlinal axis crosses the railroad near Wallaceton. Passing west and northwest along the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad from Blue Ball Station, the point where the first anticlinal axis crosses the railroad, about one-half mile beyond the station, is marked by a beautiful exhibition of the Seral Conglomerate or millstone grit. Enormous bowlders [sic] of fine-grained white quartzose sandstone, with some brownish massive sandstone, are found, and occasional massive layers of Conglomerate rock with rounded white quartz pebbles of the size of a pea and larger. The mass rises as a wall fifty to sixty feet high. Some of the loose blocks will contain over two thousand cubic feet.


Along the road, between Wallaceton and Stoneville, are found several summits high enough to catch the Freeport coals. Of the several banks opened in this vicinity, most of them appear to be located on the Kittanning middle coal—Bed C. None of them show coal of good thickness, and they commonly range from two feet eight or nine inches to three feet two or three inches. The Lambert opening, in the hill between Clearfield and Little Clearfield Creek, shows bright, clean coal, free from sulphur, but contains a thin parting of slate. This bed is about three feet three inches thick. In this same region, and two hundred feet above the creek level, the surface of the ground is covered for some acres with a peculiar, rough-looking iron ore, in lumps of all sizes, some of the pieces making from 150 to 200 pounds. A shaft put down showed as follows :


Outcrop lumps on surface ; loose sandstone pieces, with some few on lumps, five feet; ferruginous sandstone, with lean ore, five feet; red, clayey ore, one to two feet ; clay slate, with some red ore, six feet. A specimen of the best quality of the outcrop surface ore yielded, on analysis by Mr. McCreath : Iron, 42.400; sulphur, .039; phosphorous, .082; insoluble residue, 23.120. This analysis represents an ore of very good quality, but the great mass of ore deposit was leaner and more sandy.


Fire Clays and Workings.—This deposit is of far greater value to the township at the present time than its coal product, there being three well supplied beds.


The Harrisburg Fire Brick Company's land is perhaps the oldest and greatest in extent. The beds are located in the southeast part of the township, about two and one-half miles west of Blue Ball Station, and about three and one- half miles southwest from Wallaceton.


These clays are in three layers, called respectively the upper layer, or shell clay ; the middle layer, or block clay, and the lower layer, or flag clay.


The upper layer is hard, compact, and of a dark bluish gray color. The middle layer is hard, compact, with a dark pearl gray color, with conchoidal fracture. The lower layer resembles the middle, except in color, being of a light pearl gray. The company have no works at Blue Ball, but ship the raw clay to the Harrisburg Fire Brick Works, where it is manufactured into bricks. The bricks are used for heating and puddling furnaces, and for blast furnace linings ; chiefly in the Schuylkill, Susquehanna, and Cumberland Valleys.


This clay is also shipped to Pittsburgh, to the fire-brick works there, and is largely used in making pots for the glass works.


An analysis of this clay shows it equal, if not superior, to any other clays of the county. The brick manufactured from it bear a very high reputation, and the clay itself is always in demand. Quantities of it are used in the manufactures of the Clearfield Fire Brick Works at Clearfield.


The clay obtained for use at the works of the Wallaceton Fire Brick Company is taken mainly from beds opened on the Shimmel and Smeal lands near Wallaceton borough. Both of these are of good quality, the latter being preferable, although the supply is not very great. The Shimmel clay makes the best brick for coking ovens, and for this purpose is very valuable. The Smeal clay is made into No. 1 brick, which are always in great demand.


The hamlet of Blue Ball, to which occasional reference has been made heretofore in this sketch, comprises a cluster of houses and one or two unimportant industries and business enterprises, and is situate in the extreme southeast corner of the township. The place was first made prominent in the days of stage travel, during which it was a conspicuous resort ; but latterly, as other means of travel was provided, it went into a declining state, and was only aroused by the building of the Tyrone and Clearfield Railway through the place some eighteen or more years ago. The extensive clay deposits, about two and one-half miles west from Blue Ball, and from which location this clay is called " Blue Ball," give the town an additional evidence of life, as shipments are made from this point.


Another small hamlet, called Stoneville, lies within the township, and in the extreme east part thereof. Further than its proximity to Clearfield Creek and the vast fields in which extensive lumbering enterprises have been prosecuted, no considerable importance attaches to the place.


Of the church societies of the township, both past and present, that of the United Brethren leads in point of numerical strength. The mother church of the society is " Salem," located in the north part of the township, about two miles west from Wallaceton borough. The edifice was built during the year 1848. From this, as the parent society, there have grown the other societies of the same denomination, one at Wallaceton, the Spring Valley, and the Chester Hill, three in all. The former of these branches, however, has not been prosperous, and the edifice is now used as a school-house. Prior to the building of the Salem Church the society was in existence, and held meetings at such places as were most convenient for the members.


Of the many old families of this and adjoining townships, who have been identified with the United Brethren, some can be recalled : Joseph Goss and wife, Samuel McClarian and wife, Isaac Goss and wife, Benjamin Smeal and wife, John Soalt and wife, Joseph Barger and wife, William Hoover and wife, George Barger, sr., and wife, George Smeal, sr., and wife, Henry Hummel, sr., and wife, George Turner, sr., and wife, William Woolridge and wife, Absalom Barger and wife, Jeremiah Smeal and wife, William Taylor and wife, John Woolridge and wife, John Crowell and wife, Jacob Goss and wife, Daniel Philips, sr., and wife, Dennis Crowell and wife, Bassel Crowell and wife. Rev. Charles Crowell and wife, Henry Kephart and wife, Henry Hummel and wife, Rev. Smith and wife, Rev. Woodward and wife. Rev. Pringle and wife. Rev. Conley and wife, George Peters and wife, and others.


The schools of Boggs township are as numerous and well provided for as any of the townships of the county, there being, at this time, seven in all, known as follows : Blue Ball, Eagle Eye, Laurel Run, Bethlehem, Center, Stoneville, and Crooked Sewer.


Wallaceton Borough.


This municipality was brought into existence upon the petition of Robert Wallace and others, presented to the Court of Quarter Sessions of the county, at a term thereof held in the month of January, 1873, which petition was duly referred to the grand jury for determination. On the same day that body made a favorable report, whereupon the court, at the March term, made the following order:


"And now, March, A. D. 1873, the court confirms the judgment of the grand jury, and decrees that the said town of Wallaceton be incorporated into a borough, in conformity to the prayer of the petitioners ; that the said boundaries thereof shall be as follows : Beginning at a post by a white pine, thence south by a tract in the name of Joseph Ball, eighty-nine perches to a black oak; thence south twenty-two degrees west by lands of Jacob Smeal, et al., 108 perches to a post; thence west by George Shimmel's land, 196 perches to post and stones ; thence north by line of John Holt's tract 112 perches, and still north 170 perches to a white oak ; thence east by Bradford township line 236 perches to a chestnut, and south 137 perches to a post by white pine and place of beginning, and containing about four hundred and twenty-six acres. "


And that the annual election for said borough shall be held in the public school-house in said borough, on the 24th day of April in each year, according and subject to the provisions of law ; and declare said borough a separate election district ; and further decree that the first election shall be held April 24, 1873."


Wallaceton borough, thus formed, occupies a position in the northeast corner of Boggs township. As stated in the order of the court, it contains about four hundred and twenty-six square acres of land.


Soon after its incorporation an impetus was given its growth by the construction of the Tyrone and Clearfield Railroad; and still later, in 1881, the incorporation and erection of the fire-brick works materially added to its population.


The borough is located on an elevated plateau about fifteen hundred feet above sea level. The land on either side is rolling, rendering it easy of drainage. It is nearly surrounded by forests, which in summer makes it a desirable place of residence, but owing to its altitude the winter months are extremely cold. The present population of the borough is about two hundred and twenty-five. The business interests of the place comprise two general stores and one grocery store, a hotel and a post-office.


The first church in the borough was built in 1871, for the society of the denomination known as the United Brethren. The building was subsequently sold and is now occupied for school purposes. In 1873 was built Bethel church by the society of the Church of God, under the pastorate of Rev. Still. This society is not now, nor has it any time, been large in point of membership. Among its members may be mentioned the names of David Gray, Detrich Cole, Hannah Smeal, Jacob Richner, George Shimmel, John Ross, D. R. P. Shirey, David Turner and others. The society has no resident pastor.


The Wallaceton Methodist Episcopal church was built during the year 1875, during the pastoral charge of Rev. Hugh Linn.


The Wallaceton Fire Brick Company, the chief manufacturing industry of the borough, was incorporated in the year 1881, by William A. Wallace, Frank Goss, John M. Adams, David L. Krebs and William E. Wallace, all of whom, except Frank Goss, are residents of Clearfield. The officers of the company are : President, William A. Wallace ; treasurer, John M. Adams ; secretary, William E. Wallace. Superintendent of works, M. Tippery. The buildings of the company occupy a considerable tract of land near the railroad.


The greater part of the clay used at these works is taken from the beds in the vicinity of the borough and known respectively as the Shimmel and Smeal clays, so designated from the owners of the lands on which the clays were found. A fair quantity of clay, however, is shipped to the works from the Irvin and Chase tract on Little Clearfield Creek, being brought to this place over the Beech Creek Railroad, and some from the extensive clay beds of Woodland. The present capacity of the works is ten thousand bricks per day, in the manufacture of which employment is furnished to about sixty persons.


The extensive lumber manufactory of P. B. Crider & Sons, though not within the borough, yet incidentally a part thereof, was built in the year 1886, on the turnpike. With its surroundings, its industries, its churches, its large and well appointed school, its railroads, the T. and C. and the Beech Creek, both of which have stations at the borough, Wallaceton is one of the enterprising centers of the county. The main streets are well laid out running parallel with convenient lateral thoroughfares, providing easy access to all parts. The streets are kept clean, giving evidence of public-spiritedness on the part of its municipal authorities.


The serenity, however, of this little borough has, within the last twelve years, been seriously disturbed by the happening of three tragic events, either of which was sufficient to shake the social status of the community from center to circumference. The first of these events occurred on the third day of November, 1876, when Maria Waple came to her death. For this offense Martin V. Turner was arrested, tried and convicted in the courts of Clearfield county; but an appeal being taken and a new trial granted, to take place at Lock Haven, Mr. Turner was acquitted and discharged by the court. The second event was the unnatural taking-off, by death, of Ida Douglass, on the first day of July, 1882. The perpetrater [sic] of this crime was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to five years' imprisonment in the penitentiary. The climax of tragedy appears to have been reached in the brutal murder of Ella Davis, who was shot and killed by James McClain, on the 6th day of August, 1886. This act was committed while the young lady was in the parlor of her father's residence. The murderer immediately killed himself in the presence of the girl whom he had so foully slain.


The several offices of the borough, burgess, justice, treasurer and assessor, have, from the time of its incorporation, been filled as shown by the appended table:


1873. Burgess, J. Shimmel ; justices, J. H. Turner, A. M. Shaw; treasurer, J. H. Turner ; assessor, Isaac Shimmel.
1874. Burgess, T. M. Holt; justice, A. Shaw; treasurer, L. J. Morgan; assessor, M. Reidy.
1875. Burgess, John Giant; justice, A. D. Reidy; treasurer, M. V. Turner; assessor, Isaac Shimmel.
1876. Burgess, John Giant; justice, T. M. Holt; treasurer, William Fease ; assessor, Jacob Strickland.
1877. Burgess, John Holt ; justice, T. M. Holt , treasurer, William Fease; assessor, John Shaffner.
1878. Burgess, John Holt; justice, T. M. Holt; treasurer, Fred. Campman ; assessor, D. I. Turner.
1879. Burgess, John Holt; justice, J. H. Turner; treasurer, Fred. Campman ; assessor, John Holt.
1880. Burgess, T. Toubin; justice, M. D. Reidy; treasurer, J. H. Turner ; assessor, J. H. Turner.
1881. Burgess, Fred. Campman ; justice, M. D. Reidy; treasurer, J. H. Turner; assesor, D. I. Turner.
1882. Burgess, William Lyman; justice, M. D. Reidy; treasurer, J. H. Turner; assessor, D. I. Turner.
1883. Burgess, William Lyman; justice, George Emigh ; treasurer, James H.Turner; assessor, F. Campman.
1884. Burgess, David Turner; justice, M. Tippery; treasurer, James H.Turner ; assessor, J. H. Turner.
1885. Burgess, Jesse Goss; justices, Jas. H. Turner, Wm. Lyman; treasurer, Fred. Campman ; assessor, Jas. K. Turner.
1886. Burgess, D. R. P. Shirey; justices, Jas. H. Turner, Wm. Lyman; treasurer, S. E. Kramer ; assessor, R. Hackman.
1887. Burgess, Andrew Klear ; justice, William Lyman ; treasurer, S. E. Kramer ; assessor, Frank Colegrove.





Communities in Boggs Township


Blue Ball
Spring Valley
West Decatur


Boroughs in Boggs Township



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