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Sandy Township History
Most likely named for Sandy Lick Creek, which flows through the township.



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. 645-651. 







BURGH, speaking of times and opportunities, said : " There are times and seasons proper for purpose of life, and a very material part of prudence it is to judge rightly of them and make the best of them."


Accepting the above axiom, the citizens of portions of Brady and Huston townships, as early as 1877, believed that the time and opportunity had arrived for the formation of a new township, inasmuch as the rise and progress of Du Bois swelled the population to almost an uncontrollable number. The fact was potent that the general welfare of both Brady township and the infant city of Du Bois, within her (Brady's) borders, demanded a division, hence an effort was made—especially by the business men of Du Bois, to secure the end desired, by calling a series of public meetings to discuss the feasibility of the erection of a new township. These meetings were held in the spring of 1877. The movement was impeded by those who favored the incorporation of Du Bois as a borough, but the writer of this article urged the new township on the ground that Du Bois could be incorporated after the formation of the township, and by that course secure both, whereas, should the incorporation of Du Bois precede the new township, the latter might remain a debatable question for some time to come.


Brady township would have been well satisfied to cut off Du Bois, and once cut off, the formation of a new township would undoubtedly have met with opposition in Brady, but as it was Brady was anxious to get rid of Du Bois, and Du Bois equally glad to cut loose from Brady. When the matter was seen in this light, there was little or no opposition, although it required a whole year to convince some of the wisdom—from a business stand point—of the township preceding the borough. Finally, in the spring of 1878, a petition was prepared for a new township, when a " squabble " again arose as to what the name should be. The writer proposed " Sandy " as the most appropriate name, as Sandy Lick Creek flows through the entire length of the proposed township. After considerable argument, pro and con, "Sandy" was adopted. The petition mentioned was filed March 4, 1878, and commissioners appointed, upon which an order to view was issued April 4, the same year. The report of the commissioners favorable to the new township was filed June 10 the same year, and the report was confirmed, absolute, at the September term of court, 1878. An election was ordered to be held October 28, the same year, to vote " “for" or “ against" the new township, the result of which election was a majority of three hundred and fifteen for the new township, out of a total vote (cast) of three hundred and forty-two. Thus a new era began to dawn in the northwestern corner of Clearfield county, another sturdy member was added to Mother Clearfield's family, and one of which she may well be proud.


Early Settlements.—With regard to the early history and settlement of Sandy township, we excerpt what follows from the June number of The Enterprise, published by the writer in 1876:


"Prior to 1812 John Casper Stoeber had pre-empted some land in western Pennsylvania, which came in possession of Mr. Stoeber's daughter, who was married to a Mr. Scheffer, father of Michael, George, and Frederick Scheffer (now all dead), and grandfather and great-grandfather to the present generations of Shafers—as they now write it—in Sandy township. "


In 1812 the senior Scheffer left Dauphin county, Pennsylvania, with his family, and settled on the pre-empted land of his father-in-law, John Casper Stoeber, which was situated near the present limits of Du Bois, then belonging to Centre county. They landed on May 12, 1812, and on the next day erected a ' bark shanty,' beside a cooling spring, being the spot where the ' Rumbarger ' House now stands.


"No ax was put into a tree in this part of the county prior to 1812. There was no store nearer than ' Old Town'—as Clearfield was then called. The merchants at the time ' wagoned ' their goods from Philadelphia. The nearest mill was on the Clarion River, forty miles distant. In 1814, however, a mill was built at Curwensville, on the Susquehanna River, nineteen miles distant. These early settlers subsisted chiefly on deer and bear meat, and other game. They lived here for ten long and lonesome years before they had any neighbors. Soon after this time some Germans commenced to settle about Troutville, which section was long known by the local name of ' Germany.'


Pioneer Incidents.—(See Brady township.)


Township Annals.—J. P. Taylor and W. N. Prothero were elected the first justices of the peace.


After the incorporation of Du Bois, 1879, J. A. Bowersox and J. R. Keel were elected justices ; the latter resigned, and John Lankard was appointed until the next municipal election (February, 1884), when William Liddel was elected to fill the regular term. J. A. Bowersox at the expiration of his first term was re-elected in February, 1886. Samuel Postlethwait was the first township treasurer, and served four years. He was followed in 1883 by Michael Shaffer, who served four years, and was re-elected in February, 1887. The first constable in the township was Henry Raught; the present constable, elected in February, 1887, A. H. Walker. The population in 1880, estimated (including Du Bois), 3,700.


Manufacturing and Mercantile.—The first store in Sandy township at " West Liberty," as far as known, was opened by John Hoover, followed by Joseph Gathers, and he by S. Lobough. " Jerry " Heasly established a foundry about this time; John Heberling opened a general store, which he kept for about twenty years, he also was postmaster during this period at West Liberty—post-office name, " Jefferson Line." The post-office was removed in 1885 to the railroad "cut," at the point where the railroad crosses the " Waterford and Erie " pike, there being a regular station of the same name as the post-office, " Jefferson Line." The mercantile business at present is represented by J. F. Heberling, who has a general store, a foundry, and part owner of a saw and shingle-mill, which was erected in 1868. There are two blacksmith shops. At " Jefferson Line " station there is one confectionery store, kept by Mrs. Daniel Heiges, who is assistant postmistress.


In 1881 J. L. Reed opened a grocery store at Falls Creek (Victor post-office). In 1884 J. F. Reed opened a notion and confectionery store. R. F, Millen opened a grocery store in 1886. Osborn & Shaffer's saw-mill is located near here ; also E. A. R. Clark's saw-mill.


Railroads, Public Roads, etc.—What has been said on this topic in the chapter on Brady township, applies equally to Sandy township (which see).


Falls Creek is a railroad junction, the following roads meeting and crossing each other, viz.: A. V. Railroad, B. R. and P. Railroad, R. and C. Railroad, and R. and F. C. Railroad. The significance of this junction will be apparent in the near future. There are about five or six small saw and shingle-mills in the township.


Agricultural Resources, etc.—(Same as Brady, which see)


Coal Lumber and Mineral Resources.—What has been said of these important factors of prosperity in the chapter on Brady township can truthfully be applied to Sandy on these topics, except the development of the mining interests, which will be considered under the head of




The first practical mining in this township was commenced in 1874 or '75 by the " Centennial colliery," opened and operated by Messrs. Jones Bros, in 1876. They employed about thirty men, shipping about one hundred and twenty tons per day. This colliery, being located on disputed land, there was more or less litigation from the start, which culminated in the shooting of Montgomery, a representative claimant, by Peter Jones (of the firm of Jones Bros.) in self-defence, in May 4, 1878. These mines are located about three-fourths of a mile (on the A. V. Railroad) west of Du Bois. The mines were shortly after abandoned, and have never been operated since.


Sandy Lick Mines.—In 1876 the Sandy Lick Gas, Coal and Coke Company commenced to ship coal. They employed about one hundred men, and shipped about five hundred tons per day. Mr. Miles B. McHugh was superintendent. T his company operated a few years, when trouble arose between it and Messrs. Bell, Lewis & Yates, on the question of royalty due the latter, which resulted in the closing of the "drift," when they (Sandy Lick Company) opened the " Hildrup " mines on the opposite side of Sandy Lick Creek, but it too was finally closed.


Rochester Mines.—The firm of Bell, Lewis & Yates began to develop its property in the year 1876 (consisting of about four thousand acres, lying principally in Sandy township), under the efficient management of A. J. McHugh, superintendent, and general manager. They shipped their first coal from Rochester mines on March 27, 1877. Two members of the firm, F. A. Bell and George H. Lewis, reside in the city of Buffalo, and A. G. Yates, in the city of Rochester, N. Y. Operations have been carried on continuously at this mine, except when interrupted by "strikes," and the average out-put of coal has been about 300,000 tons yearly. The principal market has been to the north and northwest until within a year or so past (1885 or 1886), when it has been taken largely to the east, and in the New England States as well. Heavy shipments have for some years been made to the Canadian Pacific Railway, at Port Arthur, on the northern shore of Lake Superior, from whence it was distributed along the line of that railway to Winnipeg, and from thence on west to the Rocky Mountains.


The coal is a desirable gas and steam coal ; it also makes good coke, and the company has fifty- six bee-hive coke ovens in operation. The vein worked is known as the Lower " Freeport," and is from five and a half to seven feet thick, averaging a little over six feet. The capacity of the mine is two thousand tons per day, and the regular day's loading is two hundred cars. They employ about five hundred men and boys. The Hon. S. B. Elliott took charge of the mines in 1883 as general manager, and L. W. Robinson, mine superintendent. The office and store of this company are in Du Bois, Pa.


Churches.—The Baptist Association at West Liberty dates its initial steps toward organization from 1830, when the Rev. S. Miles preached occasionally in the school-house of the place. In 1871 a prayer-meeting was organized by J. Booth and T. Owens. During the year following Rev. C. H. Prescott held the first series of meetings, being then considered an " out-station " of the Soldier Run (Reynoldsville) Baptist Church. In the year 1875 a lot was purchased and a house of worship erected at a cost of $1,200. In 1877 the first regular Baptist Church of West Liberty was organized by Rev. J. E. Dean, with twenty-seven members. Rev. Dean became pastor, and has continued in his labors to the present time ; highest membership seventy, present membership fifty-three.


Methodist Episcopal Church.—The only other religious organization is at Falls Creek, the Methodist Episcopal Church, having a station there since October, 1886; the class numbering ten, and a Sabbath-school consisting of about fifty members.


Education.—The early educational efforts and interests were identical and equally shared with Brady township, from which township the greater portion of Sandy was taken. At the time of the organization of the township in 1881, there were nine schools with two hundred and eighty-one pupils, male and female. The number of schools has grown to thirteen in 1887, with five hundred and ninety pupils. The educational interests are in a fair stage of development, and the public school fund in a healthy condition.


Sabula.—The Sabula post-office and A. V. Railroad station, are located at the west entrance to the Summit Tunnel. Sabula has two general stores, and the place is headquarters for the northeastern end of Sandy township. The tunnel is probably the best constructed in the country; it is seven-tenths of a mile double track, and arched with cut stone its entire length. The altitude above sea level on the railroad track at the tunnel is one thousand six hundred and forty-five feet.


In conclusion : Sandy township bids fair to become one of the wealthiest townships in the county.


Education in Brady* —The establishment of the first school in Brady township is a matter of controversy, and as both sources are reliable and entitled to credulity, we shall quote from each. Rev. John Reams states : " Whitson Cooper by permission of Mr. Lebbeus Luther, built a veritable log cabin where Mr. Breon and Squire Hamilton now live (Luthersburgh.) In this cabin Mr. Cooper taught the first school in the township in the winter of 1820-21, and Major Luther** remembers attending the school." The venerable John Carlile says : " The first school taught in Brady township was held in Lebbeus Luther's bar-room, in the winter of 1827, by Whitson Cooper. I think he was a New York State man. In 1828 the second term was taught by Peter Hoover, in the same place. After this, the next school was ' kept ' in a log cabin on the pike (E. & S.), near Luthersburgh, built by the men who made the pike."

*This matter was prepared for insertion in the chapter on Brady township, but was accidentally omitted. It is inserted here, as the history of the schools (until the formation of Sandy) of the two townships is one and the same.
**The writer interviewed Major H. M. Luther, who states : " I think both Carlile and Reams are in error. I attended Mr. Whitson Cooper's school during the winter of 1823-4, being Cooper's first term."


The gentle reader now having both versions before him, can accept the one the more plausible to him. The first school-house in the southern part of the township was built in 1836, of " hewed " logs, with " shaved " shingle roof, but at first had " slab " benches and writing desks against the wall. This was a slight improvement on those built earlier. This house was located at the Union Cemetery, east of Troutville, and remained there for a number of years. In this place John H. Seyler, Rev. John Reams, David Reams, and many others, taught (or "kept") school, during the second period of the settlement. It was here the writer, under the instruction of David Reams, learned the alphabet; well he remembers the " paddle" which used to hang by the door, inside, marked " in " on one side, and " out " on the other. This was undoubtedly an aim at convenience to pupils, and an avoidance of annoyance to the teacher. When a pupil desired to leave the room, he simply went out, turning the " paddle" as he passed through the doorway, so as to read " out ;" on his return he turned "paddle" again, showing " in." By this means the whole school could know if any one was out or not. Who the ingenious (?) inventor of this labor-saving-educational-machine was, is not known ; hence his name is lost to fame.


The first school-house in Troutville was built in 1853. This was a frame structure, and was better seated than those in former years. Rev. John Reams was the first teacher in this house, and taught several winters of three and four months terms, this being the maximum required by the State, at this period, which was on the eve of the establishment of the office of county superintendent (1854).


Teachers up to this time " kept " more than taught school. Their salaries were small, and they were obliged to " board around " i. e., each patron was expected to furnish bed and board for a certain portion of the term. The " birch " rod, Cobb's Speller, and Lindsay & Murray's " English Reader " generally constituted the school-master's outfit. Graded readers were unknown. " Reading, writing, and ciphering " made up the common school course. Teachers (or " masters," as they were called), had to be able to set copies and "point " a quill pen, taking up fully one-half of their time in the school-room.


Thus educational interests moved slowly along in this primitive groove, but steadily towards a higher standard of excellence ; and at one time the schools in Brady ranked among the highest in the county.


According to the county superintendent's report for 1886, there were in the township thirteen schools, seven male and six female teachers, at an average salary of $33.20 per month. There were two hundred and eighty-five male, and two hundred and eighty-four female scholars, at an average cost of eighty-five cents a scholar per month. There are now two graded schools in the township—one at Luthersburgh and the other at Troutville The advanced grade at Troutville was taught in the winter of 1886-7 by Prof E. G. Hayes, who can claim to be the oldest teacher in the township, having taught since 1864 to the present time, missing but one term.


By comparing the present with the past, it will be obvious that " old "Brady is slowly but gradually regaining her former prestige in educational matters.



              J. E. Du Bois Lumber Camp circa 1910



Communities in Sandy Township


Adrian Furnace
Clear Run
Iselin Heights
Narrows Creek
Treasure Lake
West Liberty


Boroughs in Sandy Township


Du Bois (11 Jan 1881)
Falls Creek


Cities in Sandy Township


DuBois (23 Dec 1914)

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