Source: Excerpted and paraphrased from "Early History of Salt Lick and Springfield Townships" as copied from Ellis' History. Complimentary copy provided by First National Bank, Indian Head, PA. Published in 1931. Donated by Jennifer Riberkof.
[Springfield] is one of the mountain townships of Fayette county, situated between Salt Lick on the north and Stewart on the south, and extending along the line of Somerset county. Its distinct political existence dates from December, 1848, at which time it was organized by action of the court, but it was not constituted as it at present exists until November, 1855, when it acquired what was left of Youghiogheny township after Stewart had been created. The Youghiogheny river bounds it on the southwest, to the west lie Bullskin and Connellsville. Chestnut ridge and Laurel hill traverse the township and impart to much of the area a mountainous character, which renders it unsuitable for the purpose of agriculture. Its numerous hills, some precipitous and abrupt, some gradually descending to the water, have been largely denuded of the rich and varied growth of trees that marked them in former days. These hills treasure up great stores of mineral wealth, iron abounding in large quantities, though fire clay and limestone have been brought to light and successfully mined in a number of places.
The early industries, such as salt boring, tanning and distilling, were superseded by charcoal burning and iron mining, which in their turn were followed by lumbering, farming and grazing.
Indian Creek Valley
Hemmed in on the east and west by mountain walls as by some vast natural fortification, the population, wealth and industries of the township are chiefly concentrated in the valley of Indian creek, which drains the centrall part of Springfield, flowing into the Youghiogheny about a mile above the Connellsville line. The want of access to market led to the destruction of forge and furnace between 1828 and 1842, but the building and opening of the Pittsburg division of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad through the southern part of the township along the line of the Youghiogheny river in 1871 affords an opportunity for future enterprise and future evelopment. A proposed railroad is to extend from the B. & 0. road up Indian creek to Ligonier, and this feasible route would develop coking coal fields and other forms of mineral wealth that lie in the soil of the township, waiting to yield up their riches.
About 1863 several wells were sunked on Indian creek for oil, but were abandoned at a depth of four hundred and fifty to five hundred feet, when favorable indications of a strike became evident at lower depths. The township is richly provided with water courses, most conspicuous of them being Indian creek, which flows through the township in a nearly central course.
The Bullock PensAlong this creek, near the mouth of Skinner's Mill run, were situated the natural meadows containing the famous "Bullock Pens," which have imparted a touch of historic or romantic charm to the neighborhood in which they existed. The pens in question were made use of by Captain Harris to confine cattle that were intended for the troops under the command of General Forbes. The tradition is that Captain Harris left Fort Cumberland with a herd of cattle in 1758, with the purpose of reaching General Forbes' line of march by way of Braddock's road. At Turkey Foot he was warned by Oliver Drake and other sons of the wilderness of the Indian ambuscade on the Laurel hills, they also tendering him their escort to a place of safety until he could advise the commanding of the British forces of the situation. He availed himself of their services, Drake and Rush conducting him over the Laurel hills along the course of Mill run to the meadow so that the cattle might have pasture and the troops the necessary retirement and isolation. During the day the cattle grazed at their own sweet will, but at night they were confined in pens made of rails. These pens remained until after the settlement of the township, an their name was perpetuated in the locality.
After a sojourn of about a month at the "Pens," the cattle were driven on to Fort Ligonier, at which point General Forbes forces were found. The story is an interesting reminiscence of the great struggle between the savage and the English race in our colonial era.
The very recent organization of the township excludes it in large measure of pioneer history, and its early settlement and development must of course be read in connection with the history of Bullskin and Salt Lick, from which the latter township its separate existence is derived. That part of Fayette county now included in the township was settled at a later date than the others; indeed, not until the war of the Revolution had ceased.
Among these early comers into the township was Reuben Skinner, a native of New Jersey, whose family, after his death about 1821, removed to the then remote west; James Skinner, a Baptist clergyman who found a home in Ohio; Wilts Skinner, who lived in the county until his death; Richard Skinner, identified with another family of the same name, who brought up a large family in the township, all of whom have found homes elsewhere; Moses Collins, whose descendants have become extinct in Springfield; Alexander Cummings a Scotchman, a man of parts, and with characteristics which commanded influence among the early settlers; the McCune family, well known in the township; Major Abraham Workman, who had seen service under Col. Morgan, who owned tracts of land in the township, which became the property of Major Workman and were improved and developed by him; Henry Trump, a native of Germany, who settled on Indian creek about 1780, patenting a tract of four hundred acres, erecting, it is said, the first saw mill in that section of the country, and also a small grist mill on the creek. He seems to have been a versatile character, not only a promoter of the mechanical arts, but a disciple of Nimrod, "a mighty hunter," a pursuit from which he derived profit as well as pleasure. He lived over a century, and left descendants in the township; David Resler, who came in from Berks county, and settled upon the stream which perpetuates his name, left a numerous posterity, some of whom found homes in the west, others still remain in the township; Peter Bruner, whose first home was in Stewart township, and who came during the war of the Revolution, but in 1798, established himself on Indian creek on the Rogers farm; and Conrad Sennf, a German by birth, and one of the first settlers in the eastern portion of the county planting himself on the Shaeffer farm in what is in our time Salt Lick township. Some of his family removed to Ohio, but his descendants have been perpetuated in the township, though some of them removed to Illinois. Melchoir Entling was an early settler in the northwestern section of the township. He came from the east, bringing with his family Joseph Brooks, who married a daughter of Michael Beasinger, an early settler on the estate known as the David Brooks farm. Nearly all the Beasinger family found homes in the west; the Brooks are still largely represented in the township.
Jacob Minerd was another early settler coming in about 1791 from Washington county in western Maryland. The greater number of his numerous family removed from the township; Daniel Eicher, from Lancaster county, settled on the Elm farm, where Springfield [Normalville] village now stands, about 1790. His posterity is largely represented, especially in the eastern section of Fayette county.
The Kern family, of Dutch origins, emigrated to eastern Pennsylvania about 1700, was represented in the township by William Kern, who had seen service in the Revolution, and after its close settled in Springfield. He left an extensive and numerous posterity, which is still largely represented and highly esteemed in the township. Abraham Gallentine was a German who had passed through the Revolution, and in 1801 coming from Chambersburg settled in the township. He was by trade a cooper, and pursued his vocation to an advanced age, dying in 1830 when more than eighty. His name is still perpetuated in the township, and a number of his descendants have occupied positions of honor and trust. The Bailey, Murray, Bigham, Kooser and Elder families were all among the early settlers. The Campbells and the Rogerses must be added to the list. Many of these served their country in war and in peace, achieving honorable success by integrity, enterprise and fidelity to every trust.
Source: Nelson's Biographical Dictionary and History Reference Book, by S. B. Nelson, 1900. Uniontown, PA.