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Karthaus Township History
Named in honor of P.A. Karthaus,a proprietor of a portion of that section of the county.




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. 577-586. 







THE initiatory steps toward the erection of a new township from off the eastern part of Covington, were taken during the summer and fall of the year 1839, by the presentation of a petition as follows: The petition of divers inhabitants of the township of Covington, in said county (Clearfield), humbly sheweth. That your petitioners labor under great inconvenience for want of a division of said township. Beginning at a point at or near J. F. W. Schnar's landing on the river, and thence a northerly course to the termination of said township. Your petitioners thereupon humbly pray the court to appoint proper persons to view and lay out the same according to law, and they will ever pray. The signers of the petition were thirty-four in number. A remonstrance was presented to the court at the same time, setting forth, among other things, that the petition was " only got up and presented by a few, interested alone by selfish principles and views without any regard to the interest of many of their neighbors," and pray that the court may not grant the petition of those who pray for it. It was subscribed by forty persons, then residents of Covington township. The court by an order dated the 4th day of September, appointed A. B. Reed, A. K. Wright and Thomas Hemphill commissioners to view and determine upon the propriety of granting the prayer of the petitioners.


By their report, dated the 3d day of December, 1839, the commissioners did find a division of Covington township to be necessary, and recommended a new township to be taken off the lower or easterly part of said Covington, beginning at a white oak, corner of a certain survey number 1494, on the bank of the river, thence the several courses and distances agreeable to the plot or draft annexed to the report. The west boundary of the new township is an irregular line, made with the evident intent to satisfy all parties, leaving those in the mother township that desired to remain there, and setting off the lands of others to the new formation. The report was confirmed by the court February 3, 1841, after a series of hearings, reviews and like proceedings known and peculiar to law. The final proceeding bears this endorsement : " 3d of February, 1841, confirmed by the court, and by request named ' Karthaus,' in honor of P. A. Karthaus, esq., proprietor of a portion of that section of the county," "Moses Bogg," "James Ferguson."


Geographically, Karthaus township lies in the extreme northeast portion of the county, having as its south boundary the devious winding Susquehanna; on the east lies Clinton country, and on the north Cameron county. Covington township, from which it was formed, bounds Karthaus on the west. The marked geographical and topographical feature of the township is the Horseshoe Bend, at which the current tends directly south, then bends around and runs nearly direct north, all within a small area. At the loop on the south side of the river the Moshannon empties almost at the center of the bend. No township in the entire county is more irregular in form than this, and no two sides are parallel. Its greatest length, north and south, is not far short of eleven miles, while its average length is about seven miles. From east and west measurement the township extends a distance of about six miles, but the average in this direction is only about four miles. The surface of the township, generally, is hilly, broken, and mountainous, the altitude above tide-water averaging something like fourteen hundred feet. The township is well watered by the West Branch on the south, and the auxiliary streams. Mosquito Creek, Salt Lick and Upper Three Run, the first and last being fair sized mountain streams having several smaller tributaries.


The pioneer history of Karthaus township was made many years prior to its separate organization, and while it was still a part of Lawrence township. Before Lawrence was erected, the township of Chincleclamousche embraced the territory that subsequently formed Lawrence, Covington and Karthaus, excepting, however, a small tract that was added to the county subsequent to its erection in 1804, which tract was taken from Lycoming by an act of the Legislature and annexed to this.


The West Branch appears to have been the main thoroughfare of travel to and from the entire valley, except for such of the pioneer families as came from the south part of Centre county, and from the valley of the Juniata. One of the earliest settlers in Karthaus or the lands that were afterward embraced by it, was G. Philip Geulich, who located there during the month of April, 1814. He first came to the county in 1811, with Charles Loss, as representatives of the Allegheny Coal Company, by whom they were sent to ascertain if the reports concerning an abundant supply of superior coal were true. They first came to Clearfield Creek, where they remained during the winter. Upon their report the company purchased the land known as the Ringgold tract, on Clearfield Creek, and another tract comprising some three or four thousand acres on the Moshannon. After having fulfilled the object of his visit, Geulich was determined to return to Huntingdon county, but was finally persuaded to proceed to the lands on the Moshannon, and make an improvement. About Christmas time, in the year 181 3, in company with Joseph Ritchie, he attempted to ascend the West Branch, but finding the river so filled with snow and ice, was compelled to return. Having procured two boats and a supply of provisions, and accompanied by John Frazer and James Bowman, another attempt was made, this time successful, and at the end of a three days' journey the party landed at Karthaus, on the bank of the Moshannon, on the 8th day of April, 1814. Here they built a cabin, after which several weeks were spent in clearing lands for the future operations of the Allegheny Company at that point. Geulich did not remain long in this vicinity, owing to a misunderstanding with one Junge, upon which he determined to return to the east. When about ready to leave, the families of Frederick W. Geisenhainer, and John Reiter came to the neighborhood, and they urged him to return to the Ringgold tract on Clearfield Creek, which he did. Here he lived until 1818, acting as agent for the company, until their lands were all sold, after which he purchased the Kline property, and still later resided at the county-seat. In 1829-33 he was treasurer of the county.


It may be said, and with much show of reason, that the early settlement of Karthaus township was materially hastened by the knowledge of her extensive coal and iron deposits. Bituminous coal was in great demand at the time, and this demand gave rise to the development of the Karthaus field and shipping therefrom, at a very early day, considerable quantities of coal in arks down the West Branch. A substantial ark could be built having a carrying capacity of several hundred bushels, and thus loaded was transported to Columbia, where it sold readily at thirty-seven and one-half cents per bushel. Geisenhainer and Reiter and those who accompanied them, settled on lands about a mile and one-half back from the river, where they built a log house and barn. They found, not far away, a bed of coal four feet in thickness, which supplied their wants at home and enabled them to mine some for the market. This they shipped down the river in arks, each containing about fifty tons; unfortunately, however, but little of this ever reached the market, as the channel was obstructed with rocks and sunken trees, that proved fatal to many a cargo of the then valuable commodity.


In the year 1815, Peter A. Karthaus, his son, and J. F. W. Schnars, under the guidance of one Green, a hotel-keeper from Milesburg, Centre county, came to the vicinity. Green was on foot, and the others had two horses between them. They followed the old Indian path, and, after leaving the Alleghenies, found but two habitations on the route hither ; those of Samuel Askey and John Bechtold. Worn and tired, they arrived one evening at John Reiter's house. There they found David Dunlap, a mill-wright by occupation, engaged in building a saw-mill on the coal company's land, at the mouth of the Little Moshannon. Some years later this mill was arranged with country stones, and the grinding for the settlement was done at this place. This proved a great convenience to the people, who had been compelled to convey all flour and feed, either from the Bald Eagle Valley or from Clearfield town, nearly twenty-five miles distant, with no thoroughfare other than the old Indian path.


J. F. W. Schnars, who was the companion and friend of Peter A. Karthaus, was a German by birth, born in the year 1785. In the year 1810 he came to Baltimore, and found employment with Karthaus, who was an extensive merchant, engaged in foreign and domestic trade. In 1829 Schnars was chosen county commissioner, and still later county auditor. He was commissioned postmaster of his township in 1832, and held that office a score and a half of years. The family name is still extensive in the county, represented by the descendants of this old pioneer.


Peter A. Karthaus and his son, returned after a time, to Baltimore, but again came to this vicinity, bringing his family. He became the owner of a large tract of land in the township, and by his efforts and enterprise in business, did more toward the settlement and improvement of it than any other person. In recognition of his services, worth and integrity, the township was named in his honor.


In the year 1815, Junge and Schnars purchased lands of Karthaus and Geisenhainer, and commenced extensive improvements and settlements thereon. About the same time several other families came in ; among them, Hugh Riddle, Jacob Michaels, William Russell and others, former residents of Bald Eagle, Centre county. They made purchases, and at once began improving the lands.


Soon after the first settlements in the township, a deposit of bog ore was discovered near the head of Buttermilk Falls, some four miles down the river from Karthaus. The lands were purchased from Judge Bowdinot, of Burlington, NJ., who owned them, by Geisenhainer & Schnars. The tract comprising three parcels was conveyed to Peter A. Karthaus. In the year 18 17 he, with Geisenhainer, built the old furnace at Moshannon Creek. The ore was conveyed up the river in flat-boats and canoes, and there made into iron. Connected with this a foundry was built, and hollow iron wares, stoves, and other articles manufactured. The river was cleared of obstructions that had proved fatal to the coal transports, and the manufactured iron wares were shipped to market. The people interested in the enterprise lacked experience, the place of manufacture was so far distant from the market, and the expense and danger incident to river traffic was so great that the enterprise was finally abandoned. Many of the families induced to settle here on account of the favorable reports concerning locality, became discouraged at the prospect and returned east For a time, instead of an increase there seemed to be a general and sudden decrease in population, but after the excitement had died out and the agricultural advantages of the locality became established, the tide of immigration and settlement again set this way, and the increase again became general and healthful.


The locality became so well populated and progressive that, in 1839, an application was made to the Quarter Sessions of the county for the erection of a new township, which in the following year was ordered and confirmed by the court. The detail of these proceedings are fully set forth in the early part of this chapter.


In the year 1845 Richard Coleburn, the assessor of the township, was directed to make an enumeration of each of the taxable inhabitants then being residents. From the roll so made by him, the names of such taxables are made to appear, which will show who were the residents of the township at the time. George Bucher, a tailor; William Bridgens, George Bearfield, sr., Reuben Bearfield, laborer; Jacob Cooms, Levi Coffin, farmer; Ann Coleburn, George Conaway, sr., Dickson Cole, laborer; Richard Coleburn, farmer; Mark Coleburn, laborer ; Matthew B. Conaway, Benjamin Clark, sawyer; John Gaines, James Gunsaulis, Samuel Gunsaulis, farmer, having, in addition to his two tracts of land, one hundred acres bought of P. A. Karthaus's "plough deep ;" Jeremiah Gaines, Robert Gaines, farmer ; Lawrence F. Hartline, farmer ; George Haun, farmer; Levi Harris, laborer; John Harris, laborer; James Hunter, laborer; Andrew Eisenman, Jacob Eisenman, weaver; John Eisenman, farmer ; Michael Eisenman, farmer ; John Irvin, " lumberer," having a saw-mill ; Peter A. Karthaus, no occupation, but having a saw-mill and grist mill ; Robert Lowes, laborer, having one hundred acres of land bought of Keating ; Ellis Lowes, farmer ; Jacob G. Lebs, manager ; Benjamin B. Lee, carpenter; Francis McCoy, " one saw-mill, burned down ;" Elizabeth Michaels, John Michaels, farmer ; Edward Michaels, laborer ; William H. Michaels, farmer ; Daniel Moore, farmer; James Meny, laborer ; Thomas Michaels, farmer; John Price, farmer ; Isaac Price, farmer; Joseph Rupley, farmer ; J. F. W. Schnars, saw-mill ; Charle's Schnars, sawyer ; Gottlieb Snyder, farmer ; Francis Soultsman, blacksmith ; William Teets, laborer ; John Vought, farmer; John Wykoff, carpenter ; James White, farmer ; Washington Watson, laborer; Joseph Yothers, farmer. The single freemen then living in the township were: Frederick Coffin, William Carson, Thomas Moyers, John Haun, Charles Haun, John Hicks, jr., Prudence Knyder, John Condly, John Uzzle.


From this it appears that there were residing in the township in the year 1845, fifty-four property owners and nine single freemen. As further shown by the roll, there were several who had formerly been residents, but appears to have gone away since the assessment next preceding 1845. Among those are found the names of Sarah Apple, Samuel K. Bevan, H. O. Brittain, Cornelius Conaway, Charles Durow, Henry Harris, Simon Hall, Michael Mays, Jacob Miller, Peter McDonald, John Reiter, Matthew Savage, William Soults, all of whom were regular taxables, owning either real or personal property, besides a few single freemen, as follows : William Barefield, Andrew Kiem, and John Summerville. From these facts it can fairly be assumed that the population of Karthaus township, in 1845, did not exceed two hundred inhabitants.


The great interest taken by all persons during the lumbering period in that production, materially increased the temporary or floating population, and after the tracts were exhausted and agriculture became the regular avocation of the inhabitants, many who had come with the intention of leaving as soon as the lumber districts were cleared, were induced to remain and permanently reside in the township. At that time, if the record is reliable, there were in the township only four saw-mills and one grist-mill, owned as shown above. During the period of ten years, from 1850 to 1860, lumbering reached its maximum, after which it began gradually to decline. There still remains standing in the northern part of the township vast tracts of excellent timber, and the business is still carried on to a great extent by farmers and lumbermen from various quarters.


At a term of the Quarter Sessions Court held May 18, 1853, a petition was presented by sundry residents of Covington and Karthaus townships, asking that the line dividing them be altered so as to set off to Covington lot No. 1900. The court appointed William Smith, Joseph Yothers and Solomon Maurer, commissioners, to ascertain and report upon the advisibility of the alteration. By their report dated September 5, 1853, they set off to Covington four hundred seventeen acres and seventy-six perches to Covington. This report was confirmed absolutely December 19 of the same year.


The village of Karthaus, although it has never acquired any considerable population, was laid out on the map of the Keating lands which was made as early as 1827, or perhaps earlier. As shown it lay on a sharp bend of the river at the mouth of Mosquitto Creek, and on tract No. 1901. It contained nineteen hundred and one acres of land.


New Karthaus, as it is called, is a small village lying further east, and was built up chiefly through the extensive coal and lumbering interests developed there. The company's store, owned by the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, Gilliland & Heckendorn, F. Sebastian Bosch, and Dr. Potter's store comprise the mercantile interests of the place. The extensive saw-mills owned by Williamsport lumbermen, and the recent coal-mining works started by the Berwind-White Mining Company, are the leading manufacturers of the township. In the year 1885 the Karthaus mines of John Whitehead v Co. commenced operations on the banks that were known to exist in Karthaus town ship, and this, with the extensive coal producing interests of the same firm at Three Runs, furnish employment for a large number of persons. The latter, which is known as the " Cataract," was opened in 1885, on lands of Weaver & Betts, six miles below Karthaus. Both of these mines are now operated by the Berwind-White Company.


At the small hamlet of Three Runs, lying on Upper Three Run Creek, is a general store and a saw and grist-mill, all owned and operated by E. I. and Joseph Gilliland, the former being also postmaster at that place. The other business interests are represented substantially by the general store of Merrey, McCloskey & Co., at Salt Lick post-office, but in that part of the township known as Bellford, and the shoe store of Godfrey Fisher at Salt Lick.


Karthaus township has three organized church societies known as the Karthaus Hill Methodist Episcopal Church, and Karthaus Hill and Karthaus Evangelical Lutheran Churches, respectively.


The Karthaus Hill Methodist Episcopal Church was built during the year 1870. The corner-stone was laid September 6, and the dedication ceremonies performed on Christmas day of the same year. It is a plain plank frame building, thirty-six feet wide and fifty feet deep, and cost, complete, $2,175.


The first trustees were Richard Colburn, Henry Yothers, and Daniel Moore. The stewards were Henry Yothers, Andrew Rankin, and Daniel Moore. In 1875 there were but nine members, from which to the present time, the membership has increased to eighteen. Since the organization of the society and the building of the church edifice the following pastors have served the society: Revs. Thomas Greenly, W. S. Hanhn, John Geers, Joseph Gray, George B. Ague, J. F. Craig, Isaiah Edwards, H. S. Lunday, L. S. Crone, J. R. King, W. A. Carver, W. F. D. Noble, and J. Brunner Graham. The church is erected in the central part of the township, about two and one-half miles from Karthaus, and to the northwest from that village. At the present time the society belongs to the Snow circuit of the Central Pennsylvania Conference.


The Evangelical Lutheran, or as it was originally christened, the Mount Carmel Evangelical Lutheran Church Society of Karthaus and Covington townships was organized on the 4th day of February, 1854, with fifty- four members from both townships. The society in their application for organization adopted the formula for government and discipline of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the United States as recommended by the general synod, as their church constitution. The following officers were elected on the 6th day of March, 1854: Elders, J. F. W. Schnars and Joseph Yothers, sr.; deacons, Gotleib Schnyder and Solomon Maurer ; trustees, William F. Bremker, George Scheidler, and George Henry Meyer; acting chairman. Rev. P. S. Nellis. During the pastorate of Rev. P. S. Nellis, who was the first minister of the society, a tract of land, ten acres in extent, was donated for the purpose of a parsonage by A. V. Cularius, and a pastor's residence built thereon at a cost of about five hundred dollars. This parsonage was subsequently sold, and is now owned by Christian Hertlein. The avails of the sale were used for the erection of a new parsonage, which was built during the pastorate of Rev. S. Croft, and is situated in Covington township, at Keewayden. In the year 1857, after a service of over three years, Rev. P. S. Nellis resigned, and was succeeded by Rev. C. Fetzer, whose services continued about three years. In November, 1860, Rev. John Muner took charge of the mission, his salary being in part paid by the Allegheny Synod. After two years he retired, and Rev. W. H. Schock supphed the charge for one year. In September, 1864, Rev. J. M. Emerson took charge, and remained over four years. Rev, Emerson was succeeded in the month of May, 1862, by Rev. Samuel Croft. During his ministrations two church edifices and one parsonage were built, the Karthaus Hill and St. John's at Keewaydin being those erected. After the resignation of Mr. Croft the charge was vacant for about two years, after which Rev. P. B. Sherk became pastor. The present pastor. Rev. G. W. Stroup, came four years later. . The present membership consists of ninety persons.


The corner stone of the Luthern Church edifice was laid, with appropriate ceremonies, on July 4, 1870, Rev. Croft officiating and Dr. H. Zeigler assisting on that occasion. The building was completed during the same year, but the society was considerably in debt until 1880, when the last payment was made. The edifice cost about $1,800.


The corner stone of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at Karthaus village was laid on the 12th day of July, 1885. The pastor, Rev. G. W. Stroup, was assisted on that occasion by Rev. Kerlin, of Alexandria, who preached the dedicatory sermon, and Rev. Isaac Knider, of Bellwood. The edifice when entirely completed will cost, as estimated, about one thousand dollars.


The township of Karthaus has five well appointed schools located throughout the township, and distinguished as follows : The Karthaus school, situated at the village of Karthaus ; Oak Hill school, located in the western part, near the Lutheran Church ; Three Runs, situated on Three Runs Creek, in the extreme east part ; Salt Lick, situated on the stream bearing that name, and about a mile from the river ; the New School, so called, located in the Reiter Settlement, in the southeastern part of the township.


Karthaus Lodge No. 925, I. O. O. F., was chartered December 4, 1875, with eleven members, who, with the offices to which they were elected, respectively, were as follows : Noble grand, H. Yothers ; vice-grand, A. A. Rankin; secretary, Thomas Maurer ; assistant secrerary, F. S. Nevling ; T., George Emerick, and as addition charter members, Joseph Clark, W. S. Loy, H. R. Meeker, George Shire, Enoch Madlem, and S. E. Emerick. The lodge now numbers about sixty-five members. Meetings are held at Karthaus village every Saturday night.


The Patrons of Husbandry are also represented with a flourishing grange society, which numbers among its members the substantial agricultural element of the township. The society, which is known as " Oak Hill Grange," meet regularly on the first and third Saturdays of each month.


The geological formation and the mineral deposits of Karthaus township are among its most noticeable features. The so called Karthaus basin extends northeast from Karthaus village down the river for a distance of several miles; the large upper bed of Karthaus entering the hills above the neighborhood of Three Runs. At the latter point, a bed of coal, varying from three to four feet, has been opened, disclosing a layer of lime and fire-clay associated with the coal. A short distance northeast from the village of Karthaus, on the Hackendorn farm, and also near Schnar's mill, are five-foot beds, which were opened and worked some years ago.


The Karthaus Bed D, as shown by the opening made by Whitehead & Co., and now operated by the Berwind-White Company, has a thickness averaging from four and one-half to six feet, and sometimes reaching seven feet. The first shipments from this locality occurred in 1885, and the shipment of coal from the Three Runs locally, and known as the " Cataract " mines, was also commenced about that time, the Karthaus Railroad having been constructed to accommodate this as well as the lumbering industries of the township.


The iron ore beds of Karthaus were fully opened and operated many years ago by the Karthaus Iron Company, but the furnaces have been out of blast for many years, and the mines have long since fallen shut. An analysis of this ore (mottled brown, nodular concentric, crust hematitic), shows, carbonate of iron, 19.46; peroxide of iron, 34.80; carbonate of lime, 4.50; silica and insoluble matter, 30.40; alumina, 1.70; water, 8.20; metallic iron in 1 00 parts, 33-95. An analysis of the minerals of Karthaus, made in the year 1838 by Professor Johnson on the six-foot coal bed, showed, specific gravity, 1.250 to 1.278 ; loss of water in distillation, .60 ; carburetted hydrogen and other volatile products, 26.20; earthy residuum, after incineration, 5.05 ; carbon in the coke, 68.15. Another analysis of this coal made for the first geological survey of Pennsylvania, shows as follows : Volatile matter, 24.800 ; coke, 75.200; ash, 4.700.


The result of four analyses of the Karthaus " Kidney ore," made by Professor Johnson, showed, metalic iron, 38.330, 50.600, 36. 100, 34.54, respectively. The specific gravity of pig metal obtained, by such analyses, was respectively, 7.726, 6.240, 7. 102.


The abundance of these minerals, their excellent character, and their proximity to each other, all in the same hillside, naturally point out this Karthaus region as a place of the future manufacture of iron as well as an increase in the already large production of coal for the market. The building of the Karthaus Railroad from Keating, on the Philadelphia and Erie Railway, has opened the way into the township and not only invites the operations of the mining world, but brings there a class of consumers of farm products that insures prosperity to the agricultural interests as well. It is not within the province of this work to indulge in any speculations or prophesies concerning the future welfare of the locality, but the vast improvements accomplished within the last few years, and those in contemplation for the near future, all point significantly toward the future success of all her people.



                                             Karthaus Fire Brick Plant


Communities in Karthaus Township


Oat Hill
Salt Lick
Three Runs

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