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Oneida Township History
History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania by J. Simpson Africa Philadelphia, PA: Louis H. Everts, 1883, pp. 328-336. Contributed by Mike Gifford & Ken Boonie. Revised and proofread by Judy Banja.
Including a brief account of the original township of Huntingdon.
THE township of Oneida adjoins the borough of Huntingdon, extending along the valley of the Standing Stone northeastward about ten miles, and having an average width of about three miles. It embraces the territory lying between the summit of the Warrior's Ridge, which separates Oneida from Logan and West townships, and Standing Stone Ridge, along the northwestern base of which runs the line of Henderson township. The valley is narrow, and the surface of the township is mainly mountainous, only a limited portion of the soil being susceptible of successful cultivation. The tillable parts are mainly north of the centre, and embrace some limestone lands. The other soils are clay, sandy or slaty loam. Iron ore abounds, and potter's and other clays may be obtained in many localities. The entire area was formerly timbered, in many parts heavily, and the manufacture of lumber until recently gave agriculture a subordinate position. Since the forests have been cleared away the latter industry and fruit-culture have been given more prominence, which is made manifest in the improved appearance of the country and other evidences of increasing prosperity. The drainage of the township is afforded by Standing Stone Creek, Murray's Run, and other affluent streams. The former enters from Miller township, and after a course of about twelve miles empties into the Juniata at Huntingdon. It is a stream of considerable volume the greater part of the year, and was declared navigable by legislative enactment in 1794. From it the township derived its name, Oneida being a Seneca Indian term for Standing Stone. The latter name was suggested by a column or large standing stone erected at its confluence in the aboriginal period. Many freshwater brooks and springs abound in Oneida, as well as a few which are supposed to possess mineral properties. Of the latter class the most favorably known are the warm springs, located near the right bank of Standing Stone Creek, about five miles from Huntingdon. The springs were formerly highly esteemed on account of the quality of the waters, which are slightly warm and gently laxative. The volume is large, and the surroundings picturesque and health-inspiring, causing them to become a place of resort many years ago.
Pioneer History. - In connection with the pioneer events of Oneida may properly be considered the original township of Huntingdon, which passed out of existence in 1814. At the organization of the county in 1787 it embraced not only what now constitutes Huntingdon and Oneida, but also Henderson and Brady on the north of the Juniata, and Porter, Walker, and Juniata on the south side of that stream. At that time there lived in that widely-extended township the persons named in the following list, each owning or holding land as is indicated opposite his name. An asterisk is prefixed to the ownership of village property.
|Armitage, Jacob (deceased)||96||"|
|Ashman, Abraham||200||Smith tract.|
|Arlington, James||100||London tract.|
|Ashbough, John (distillery)||220||Manor.|
|Brodick, Nicholas||100||Mifflin tract.|
|Breckenridge, Mary||100||London tract.|
|*Burd, Benjamin (tanner)||Lots.|
|Craffis,[Graffius] Peter (distillery)||200||Deed.|
|Cryder, Michael (2 mills, tannery)||200||Warrant.|
|Canon, John, Esq.||150||London tract.|
|" " "||200||Manor.|
|*Davidson, John||200||London tract.|
|Dougherty, Daniel (2 slaves)||150||"|
|Donaldson, Andrew (distillery, 3 slaves)||139||Manor.|
|*Elliott, Benjamin (2 slaves)||80||Patent.|
|*Fletcher, Archibald||150||London tract.|
|Fee, John, Sr.||175||Smith tract.|
|Fee, John, Jr.||....|
|Glazier, Daniel (distillery)||200||Smith tract.|
|*Hall, Jacob (deceased)||"|
|Haven, Valentine||150||London tract.|
|Hare, Michael (distillery)||....|
|Jackson, George (distillery)||116||Warrant.|
|Jackson, George (on Ridge)||100|
|Johnston, Thomas, Jr.||50||"|
|Johnston, Thomas, Sr.||150||"|
|Jarrard. Nathaniel (mill, negroes)||300||"|
|Kelley, Josiah||109||Mifflin tract.|
|Kennedy, David, Sr.||150|
|Kennedy, David, Jr.||150|
|Knave, Henry (distillery)||400||Warrant.|
|Kennedy, James||300||Smith tract.|
|Kenyon, David, Dr.||150||Deed Fex.|
|*Laird, Jacob (tannery)||"|
|Lloyd, Henry, Sr. (four slaves, distillery).||350||Deed.|
|Lloyd, Henry, Jr.||100||"|
|Lewis, 'Joshua||130||London tract.|
|Longbettle, Frederick||100||London tract.|
|*Mosser, Christian (distillery)||Lots.|
|Maffitt, William||150||Smith tract.|
|McIlvain, William||250||London tract.|
|*McKinney, Samuel||389||Smith tract.|
|Nowling, Nicholas||150||Smith tract.|
|Newcomer, Christopher||100||London tract.|
|Parks, John||200||London tract.|
|Prigmore, Joseph, Sr.||200||Deed.|
|Prigmore, Joseph, Jr.||300||"|
|Richards, Daniel||140||Mifflin tract.|
|*Sell, Ludwig (slave)||224||Warrant.|
|*Simpson, John (distillery)||Lots.|
|Spencer, John||200||London tract.|
|Stover, Christian (two mills)||110||Warrant.|
|Sharer, John (two mills)||75||Located.|
|Tickerhoof, Frederick||150||London tract.|
|Vandevender, Peter (one slave)||150||Warrant.|
|Williams, James||200||London tract.|
|Worrell, Isaac||200||London tract.|
|Barnes, Joseph (lots).
Canon, Henry (lots).
Cryder, Israel (lots).
*Dewitt. William (lots).
*Eby, George (brewery).
*Fockler, George (lots).
Gorsuch, Nathan (300 a. warrant).
Henderson, Andrew (lots).
*Kerr, William (lots).
Kerr, George (lots).
*McCoy, William (lots).
Parks, John, Jr.
Smith, T. D. (lots).
*Saxton, John (lots).
Non-residents owning houses in Huntingdon in 1788. - Hugh Davidson, Joseph George, Fred. Ashbough, Jacob Mong, George Knoplough, Josiah Canan, John Blythe.
In 1810 there were within the territory embraced by the old township one hundred and thirty-four single freemen, and two hundred and thirty-seven village lots having one hundred and sixty-two houses thereon.
Of manufacturing interests there were six grist-, eight saw-, and one hemp-mill, eight tan-yards, one brewery, and nineteen distilleries. The number of slaves was reduced to one. Four years later the township was divided into Porter and Henderson.
Among the pioneers named in the foregoing lists was Nathan Gorsuch, who was one of the first permanent settlers of what is now Oneida. In 1786 he came from Baltimore County, Md., being at that time a single man, and located in the neighborhood of what is now Centre Union, where he lived until his death in 1844. His descendants yet remain in that locality, and the family has always been identified with the history of the township. Nathan Gorsuch was one of the early surveyors, yet at the same time carried on the improvements on his farm, being assisted, it is said, by several negroes who came into the county as slaves. The land he settled on had been warranted to William Murray, from whom Murray's Run took its name, and who had probably the first house between Huntingdon and McAlevy's Fort. On several occasions he had to seek the protection afforded by the fort at Standing Stone, and once in the absence of the family their cabin was pillaged of such effects as the Indians fancied.
Among the improvements on the place where Gorsuch became the owner were several apple-trees, which yet remain in fruitful condition, although more than one hundred years old. Near where stood the Murray cabin was an immense sugar-tree, which was cut down in 1875, when it measured more than twelve feet in circumference. It had been tapped for the purpose of making sugar more than ninety years, and actually yielded twelve hundred pounds of sugar. When the tree was worked up, tomahawk marks were found upon it which had been made when it was but three feet in circumference, showing that the valley was a favorite roaming-place of the red men centuries ago. Nathan Gorsuch was married to Temperance Kelley, of Henderson township, who survived her husband eleven years, departing this life about 1855. They reared a family composed of a son Thomas, who lived in Henderson until 1844, when he removed to Illinois; Jesse died a young man; Elijah lived on the homestead in Oneida until his death in April, 1880; and Joshua and Stephen are yet citizens of Oneida. His daughters were married as follows: Rachel to Nathan Lewis, who moved to Indiana County; Sarah to William McDivitt, of Oneida, who died at Huntingdon in March, 1880; Jane to Francis Jackson, and died about 1856; and Nancy became the wife of Daniel Crownover.
Robert McDivitt, a native of Ireland, settled in Shirley township, in the neighborhood of Mount Union, about 1790, and died in that locality about 1810. He was the husband of Nancy Campbell, and the father of four children named William, Matthew, Mary, and Martha. The first of these, William McDivitt, was born in 1799, and at the proper age was apprenticed to John Livingston, of Oneida, to learn carpentry. He subsequently married Sarah Gorsuch, and lived in the township until his death in 1873. His wife died at Huntingdon in 1880. Their children were Nathan G., living on the homestead in Oneida; Robert, a journalist, living at Huntingdon; Jane, who married Thomas P. Love; and Nancy, who married Samuel Neal. Matthew McDivitt, the brother of William, lived and died in Porter township. His sister Martha lived in the same neighborhood as the wife of Isaac Brenneman; and Mary was the wife of Alexander Stewart, of Oneida township.
John Stewart, an Irishman, lived on a farm adjoining the Gorsuch place, on what was known as "Corn Hill," where be died many years ago. His family consisted of James, Alexander, Robert, John P., Jane (who married Elijah Greene, of Oneida), and Elizabeth (who married James Gillam, of the same township), being the only survivor of the family. James Stewart resided many years on the Henry Wilson farm, and reared a large family. He was the father of John G. Stewart, of Mount Union; Alexander, the second son, spent the greater part of his life in Oneida, rearing children, among whom were Mrs. B. F. Brown, of Shaver's Creek, and David Porter Stewart; Robert, the third son, after living many years in Jackson, removed to the West; John P., the youngest, reared a large family, some of the members living in Huntingdon, and others occupying the homestead in Oneida.
The settlement of William Carter was probably earlier than that of John Stewart. As early as 1790 he lived on Murray's Run, on the Hall farm, and set out some peach-trees at an early day, which are yet in bearing. His son Robert moved to Centre County, and Lewis and William accompanied their father to Ohio, which became their future residence.
Willison Wheeler was a pioneer above Carter's, and Joshua Kelley below, near Centre Union.
Nicholas Decker, of German descent, but whose wife was of Welsh extraction, settled below Centre Union, on the creek, and near Standing Stone Ridge, about the period of the Revolution. He was killed about 1811, while felling trees for saw-logs. He had sons named Peter, John, Nicholas, and Michael. Several of the daughters married Valentine Peightal, Adam Hagy, and Jacob Nagle. The son Peter died in the Round Top neighborhood, where his family removed. John lived on the homestead until his death, which thereafter became the property of his son John. Another son, Nicholas, resides in Huntingdon. The third son, Nicholas, lived and died on Shaver's Creek, and Michael had his abode near McVeytown.
Jacob White came to America about 1755, and settled in Berks County, but about 1770 came to Huntingdon, making his home not far from where Alexandria now is. At the breaking out of the war he returned to the eastern part of the State, where he remained until 1781, when he came back to Huntingdon, and in a few years settled on the farm which is yet occupied by his grandson, A. P. White, and on which is a log house which was built in 1790. This building is one of the oldest landmarks in the township, and served half a century and longer ago as a preaching-place for Jacob Gruber and other pioneer ministers of the Methodist Church. Other improvements, in the way of orchard-trees, also remained. In the family of Jacob White was reared Polly Anderson, who yet lives at Huntingdon. Mr. White died in 1830, and his wife probably three years later. Their daughter Mary married John Miller. John White, the oldest son, lived in Barree and reared a large family, some of the descendants yet living in Blair County. Jacob, the second son, lived and died on part of the homestead. He was the father of ten children, among them being William B. White, of Penn township, the father of Professor White, of Huntingdon; Jacob, a Methodist minister in Indiana; and John, a captain of a Mississippi River steamer. Henry White, the third son, married Hettie Ramsey, of Huntingdon, and lived on the homestead until his death in 1852, aged sixty-two years. He was the father of A. P. White, yet living on the homestead; of Henry White, an attorney, who died at Huntingdon in 1863; and of George, who died in the army in 1862. A daughter, Ellen, married Frederick Gross, of Barree township.
Elisha Greene, a native of Maryland, became a citizen of Oneida about 1800. He settled first on Warrior's Ridge, but not liking the location made his home in the valley near Donation, where he had a fine sugar-camp, which proved very useful to him in early times. He died in April, 1863, on the property now owned by his grandson, Barton Greene. Of his sons, Charles lived and died in the neighborhood. He was a carpenter by trade, and made many of the arks which floated down the Juniata. The second son, George, lived on the homestead until his death in 1870, aged seventy-eight years. He was the father of Foster, Barton, and Charles Greene, the former removing to Illinois, and Barton being a merchant at Huntingdon. Elijah, the third son, also died on part of the homestead about 1847. For many years previous he was a helpless invalid. His sons were Robert Greene, of Huntingdon; John, of Miller township; Elisha and James, of Oneida. The daughters of Elisha Greene married James Stewart, Nicholas Decker, and the father of Dr. J. G. Camp, who lives on a part of the Greene tract, in the northern part of Oneida.
Joseph G. Camp, surgeon dentist, of Oneida township, is a native of Mifflin County, having been born in McVeytown in 1830. He lost his parents when quite young, and was reared by his grandfather, Charles Green, then living on the farm now owned and occupied by Dr. Camp, in Oneida township. He farmed with his grandfather until about 1855, when he turned his attention to the study of dentistry. He was with Drs. Moore and Locke as a student some time, and becoming fairly proficient, practiced in Huntingdon County to some extent from 1858 to 1863. In the latter year he took a course at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery, and in the spring of 1864 graduated. From 1864 to 1867 he practiced dentistry in Huntingdon County, and in the latter year he proceeded to Philadelphia, where he was associated with Dr. S. R. Screven as a partner one year. From Philadelphia he went to Columbia, Lancaster Co., where he spent eighteen months in his profession, at the end of that time removing to the old farm in Huntingdon County, which he had purchased upon the death of his grandfather in December, 1863. After a brief rest he located in Altoona and resumed practice with Dr. Miller, formerly one of his students. He was in Altoona two years, and returning once more to Huntingdon County, made his home permanently upon his farm in 1877, and to the present time has devoted himself to industrious practice.
In the same neighborhood among the early settlers were Adam Stuckey, Christian Oyer, and John Ellenberger. A part of the improvements made by them now belong to Henry Wilson, who has lived in that locality since 1835, coming from Chester County. He is well known throughout the county as a surveyor. The Ellenberger family moved to the Half-Moon Valley, and the farm is now occupied by Joseph McCracken.
Christian Miller was a pioneer of the same period, living as a tenant on the farms now owned by Daniel Kypher and others. His sons, John and Samuel, lived in the neighborhood of the Warm Springs; George died in Miller township; Henry in Huntingdon; Jacob on a farm below Warm Springs, on which now lives R. A. Miller. His daughters married Jacob Ellenberger, David Hazzard, and Abel W. K. Corbin, the latter yet living at Centre Union.
A settler of a more recent period was William Foster, by birth an Irishman. He was a man of more than ordinary enterprise, and was a contractor for many years. He built the present jail at Huntingdon, of which the carpenter-work was done by William McDivitt. His home in Oneida was on Standing Stone Creek, where now lives his son, James T., who, like his father, is a lumber manufacturer. Another son, David H., resides at Mapleton; John C. died in California; William was a scout in the United States service, and participated in the Modoc war in Northern California; Lucy Ann became the wife of John P. Stewart; and Mary Ellen, of Robert S. Greene.
Henry Wilson, ex-county surveyor, and a well-known farmer, was born in West Nantmeal township, Chester Co., Pa., Dec. 13, 1823. His grandfather, John Wilson, emigrated from Ireland to America in 1797, his (John's) two brothers, Thomas and Robert, having previously (in 1794) crossed the sea and made their homes in Cayuga County, N.Y. John reached this country with a wife and five children, and after stopping a year in Montgomery County, Pa., he purchased a farm in Chester County, and there spent his days. Robert, one of his sons, who was born in Ireland in August, 1787, and died in Huntingdon County, Feb. 7, 1865, was bred to the shoemaking business, afterwards carried on a fulling-mill and saw-mill, and came in time to be one of the best-known men in Chester County. Robert Wilson married Barbara, daughter of Christian Kurtz, a famous miller of Chester County. Of Robert Wilson's twelve children only Henry and J. K. Wilson are living.
In April, 1835, Robert Wilson started from Chester County afoot for Ohio, where he intended to buy a farm. En route, hearing of a chance to buy a good place in Huntingdon County, he turned aside and purchased two hundred acres in what is now Oneida township. He paid nine hundred dollars for the tract. In November, 1835, he moved out with his family.
Henry Wilson left home at the age of twenty-one, and worked two summers for Miles Lucas. In 1847 he assisted in the building of a barn for his father, and for two years thereafter worked at carpentering. Beginning in the winter of 1846, he taught school for eleven successive years, first in Barree township, and later in Henderson, Barree, Oneida, West, and Porter. January, 1859, he married Susanna J., daughter of George McCrum, of Huntingdon County, and after his marriage he moved to the old homestead in Oneida, which is now owned conjointly by his brother J. K. and himself.
The study of mathematics and surveying engaged his earnest attention when a youth, and as opportunity served he sought to increase his knowledge therein by practice as well as theory, for to become a surveyor was with him an ardent desire. In due time his hopes were rewarded, and in connection with farming he followed the business of surveying, and as a surveyor grew to be well known. In 1865, Mr. Wilson was appointed by the court to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Eshleman, county surveyor, who died while in office. This appointment, made at urgent popular demand, was a graceful tribute to Mr. Wilson's capacity, as well as to the personal esteem in which he was held, since he not only did not seek the appointment but knew nothing about the matter until a week after the appointment had been made. His line of policy strongly opposed the holding of office as far as himself was concerned, and it was morally certain that had he been consulted he would not have permitted his name to be used. He served in his office with such acceptability that, against his wish, he was re-elected twice thereafter. Since his retirement he has continued in the field as an active surveyor, and between that occupation and farming finds his hands briskly occupied. He has been a township school director for six years, and in other minor local trusts has not been backward. He was early a Democrat, later a Whig, and is now a stanch Greenbacker, believing firmly that to the general government should be delegated the exclusive privilege of issuing the money currency of the country.
A number of changes have taken place in the population of Oneida, many who were there formerly engaged in lumbering, on the decline of that interest removing to other localities. The property-roll of 1857, the year following the organization of the township, contained the following names:
|Name - Acres.
Anderson, John P. (per A. Corbin) - 200
Allison, Andrew - ....
Blair, David - 40
Barnett, Samuel - 21
Bricker, William (one hack) - ....
Cunningham, Josiah - 100
Cornelius, John, Jr. (tenant) - ....
Cochrane, John - 45
Coy, John (tenant) - ....
Decker, Samuel (tenant) - ....
Decker, Nicholas - 86
Decker, Peter H. - 140
David, John C. - 192
Evans, Mark - 100
Evans, Rolland (heirs) - 96
Foster, Josiah - ....
Greene, Charles - 175
Greene, Elijah (heirs) - 76
Greene, George - 100
Given, James (per George Miller) - 300
Gorsuch, Jesse (lot) - ....
Hughes, William - 100
Hamilton, James - 200
Hetrick, Samuel - 50
Hall, John (saw-mill) - 279
Hare, David - 147
Jackson, Francis - 110
Kimberlin, George - 3
Livingston, John, Sr - 200
Livingston, William (tenant) - ....
|Name - Acres.
Logan, John (tenant) - ....
McCartney, James B - 150
McDivitt, Nathan - 190
McDivitt, William (tenant) - ....
Moore, James - 89
Miller, George - 80
Miller, Henry S. (tenant) - ....
McCracken, James (saw-mill) - 127
Miles, John G. (saw-mill) - 371
McCool, George - 109
Miller, Abijah B. (tenant) - ....
McCartney, Robert - 50
Peightal, Samuel - 279
Prior, Henry - ....
Rankin, William (tavern at Warm Springs) - ....
Reed & Bricker (saw-mill) - 270
Shank, Nicholas - 100
Stewart, Alexander (tenant) - ....
Steel, John - 82
Stewart, John P. (saw-mill) - 250
Steel, Henry - 38
Smith, Andrew - 185
Smith, William - 110
Silknitter, Solomon - 180
Walker, Paul O. (tenant) - ....
Whitesill, David - 170
Wilson, Robert - 200
Walker, Andrew - 62
White, Adolphus P. - 193
Camp, Joseph G.
Foster, James (144 acres).
Greene, John A.
|Greene, Barton (merchant).
Hamilton, Joseph N.
Miller, Jacob H.
Stewart, Palmer L.
Wilson, Andrew P. (1629 acres)
The township has at present (1881) only about three hundred and fifty inhabitants.
Civil Organization. - The movement to organize this township was made as early as November, 1852, when K. L. Green, John Porter, and Hays Hamilton were appointed commissioners to view and divide West township. They reported on the 15th day of March, 1853, that a division was expedient and necessary, and that a new township should be formed for the accommodation of the people of the eastern part of West and the western part of Henderson townships. Yielding to the remonstrance of a number of citizens, the court did not confirm the report, but referred it back to the same commissioners for a review and to hear all remonstrances against and claims for the proposed division. The final report was as follows:
"And now, 8th April, 1854, Hays Hamilton and John Porter, two of the foregoing commissioners, to whom was referred the foregoing report, dated January 23d, last met at the house of Isaac Neff, in the borough of Petersburg, and proceeded to hear the petitions and remonstrances for and against the division of the said West township, and after hearing, from the representations made, are of the opinion that a division of said township would be for the benefit of all concerned, and do decide that said township of West should he divided agreeably to the prayers of the petitioners: Beginning at the Limekiln Hollow, on the banks of the Juniata, at the corner of West and Henderson townships; thence to the summit of Warrior's Ridge, north forty-nine and one-half degrees east two thousand and thirty-eight perches, to a point on the line between Barree and West townships, near the house and on the farm of Henry Whitesell, deceased. The northwestern part to retain the name of West township, and the southeastern part to be called by such name as the court may designate.
"And now, 20th August, 1856, it is considered by the court and ordered that the foregoing report be and the same is hereby approved, and the eastern township is called Oneida."
Jan. 24, 1857, the Centre Union school-house (near Gorsuch's) was selected as the place where the annual election should be held, and John Logan was appointed judge, and Adolphus P. White and John P. Stewart, inspectors of the election.
In January, 1859, John Cresswell, George Eby, and John Garner were appointed commissioners to inquire into the propriety of forming two new townships out of Henderson and Oneida. They reported, June 15th of that year, that in their opinion the division of the two townships, to accord with the prayers of the petitioners, was practicable, and submitted a plot of the proposed bounds with a report on the same, which was absolutely confirmed by the court on the 19th day of June, 1860. By this decree the bounds of Oneida were extended so as to include all that part of Henderson lying west of Standing Stone Ridge and Murray Run. The two townships retain essentially the same bounds to this day. When the change was made the place of holding the elections was also changed from Centre Union to the Warm Springs.
The following have been the principal officers of Oneida township:
1857, James Moore, O. Stewart; 1858, James Moore, John Hall; 1859, Henry Wilson, David Hare; 1860, Daniel Prough, Henry Wilson; 1861, Elisha Shoemaker, George Green; 1862, Samuel Thompson, James McCracken; 1863, Elijah Gorsuch, John C. Davis; 1864, William V. Miller, William Hughes; 1865, Elisha Shoemaker, David Whitesill; 1866, Daniel Kyper, David W. Waldsmith; 1867, Abel Corbin, Benjamin Corbin; 1868, Jacob Brough, Joseph McCracken; 1869, John Cochran, Abel Corbin; 1870-71, Joseph McCracken, It. Drennen; 1872, J. P. Stewart, R. Drennan;1873, H. S. Miller, George Kemberling; 1874, Michael Ealey, A. P. White; 1875, A. P. White, Michael Ealey; 1876, M. Ealey, J. Miller, E. Greene; 1877, W. V. Miller, Joseph McCracken; 1878, Daniel Kyper, Joseph McCracken; 1879, A. P. White, M. V. Miller; 1880, Joseph McCracken, Michael Ealey; 1881, David Blair, Michael Ealey.
1857, A. P. White, J. C. Davis, Solomon Silknitter; 1858, Solomon Silknitter; 1859, N. G. McDivitt; 1880, William McDivitt; 1861, Samuel Fridley; 1862, Jacob Miller; 1863, William McDivitt, Jesse Gorsuch; 1864, Samuel Thompson; 1865, Jacob Miller; 1866, Joseph McCracken; 1867, Samuel Neal; 1868, Jacob Miller; 1869, William McDivitt; 1870-71, J. Miller; 1872, William McDivitt; 1873, Henry Wilson; 1874, J. Miller, J. W. Waldsmith; 1875, Joseph McCracken; 1876, James W. Green; 1877, Elijah Gorsuch; 1878, John E. Davis; 1879, John A. Greene; 1880, James T. Foster; 1881, A. P. White.
General Business Interests. - Aside from the manufacture of lumber and agriculture, nothing of noteworthy importance has been carried on in the township except a few country stores, there being no villages or hamlets within the bounds of Oneida.
On Murray's Run, Nathan Gorsuch had a saw-mill about the beginning of the century, which was abandoned so long since that no traces of it remain. So also the saw-mill near the McDivitt place, which was operated about the same time, can be located only by an old raceway. A mill erected by John P. Stewart more than fifty years ago, and which was last operated by Hezekiah Greene, has passed away. Another mill, built by Stewart at a less remote period, has but recently been removed by Joseph Camp. On Murray's Run, John Hall got in operation a saw-mill thirty years ago, which is the property of James S. Hall, but is now idle. On the same stream, but within the bounds of Henderson, is a mill owned by William Shilling, which is yet in working order; and at Centre Union, on Brown's Run, Stephen Gorsuch has had in operation a saw-mill for the past ten years. One of the oldest and best-known water-powers is that which operates Foster's mill, which was first carried on by William Foster, and at present is the property of his son, James T. Foster. Very large quantities of lumber have been manufactured there, and in connection the manufacture of packet-boats for the canal. It is stated, on the authority of Robert McDivitt, that the first boat that plied the waters of the canal was launched there one Sabbath morning in the summer of 1831. As the "Lady of the Lake" left her dock in the tail-race of the mill and gracefully passed down the waters of the Standing Stone, the assembled throng vented their admiration in hearty cheers, which must have been very gratifying to the projectors of this enterprise. Subsequently all the boats for D. Leach's packet line were built there, under the direction of the brothers David and James Stevens, who came from New York for this purpose, and a regular boat-yard was maintained several years. But prior to this Charles Greene built arks in the township, floating them down the creek into the river, where they performed an important part in the carrying trade of that day.
The beauty and virtues of the Warm Springs commended that locality many years ago as a suitable place for a public-house, and entertainment has been dispensed there more or less since 1800 by landlords, whose stay, generally, was not continued beyond a few years. After the property passed from the Newinghams to Gen. A. P. Wilson, the latter erected a hotel of good capacity, and designed more particularly for the accommodation of guests who frequented the place as a summer resort. For several seasons the Springs' hotel enjoyed a liberal patronage, but the too frequent change of management and other causes acted so adversely that the house was closed, and the place is now practically abandoned, notwithstanding that the springs and the surroundings are as favorable for the purpose of making a resort as many others in the country. For several years a post-office was there maintained, which bore the name of Wilsonia, and of which Mrs. William Rankin was the postmistress.
Donation post-office, on the same road as Warm Springs, several miles farther up the valley, was established about 1856, with Barton Greene as postmaster, a position he yet holds, although the active duties of the office are discharged by a deputy. The office took its name from the Donation school-house in that neighborhood, which was erected in 1833 by the united efforts of the community, when John Camerer, an old teacher, suggested that the house be designated by the above title. When the post-office was established it was kept in the grocery-store of Barton Greene, who followed Stephen Moore in that, trade; and after the removal of Greene to Cornpropst's Mills, in the course of a few years, the office was taken to that point, still retaining the name of Donation. In the spring of 1872, Mr. Greene returned to the old stand, and the office was re-established at Donation proper. Meantime, the Wilsonia post-office had its existence, which ceased about this time. In 1872, Mr. Greene opened a good general store, which he carried on until 1880, when the business was discontinued. The present deputy of the post-office is Dr. M. R. Evans, and his predecessor was A. B. Gillam. The first mail service was from Huntingdon to Ennisville, but the present route extends only to Cornpropst's Mills. The service is semi-weekly, and the office is the only one in the township.
On Murray's Run is a cluster of houses approaching a hamlet in appearance, the locality being known as Centre Union, or Murraysville. A small store was kept there a number of years by Elijah Gorsuch, and since his death a similar business has been carried on by the Rote family. Small mechanic shops are owned by members of the same family. The place contains, besides, a Baptist Church and a good school building.
Educational and Religious. - One of the first schools in the township was taught about 1810, in a small log house which stood near where Centre Union now is. James Stewart was the teacher, and among the pupils were children belonging to the Brown, Gorsuch, Stewart, Echelberger, Simpson, and Decker families. Mary Anderson was also a pupil there, and Nathan Gorsuch and an Englishman named Feltwell were among the teachers of an early period. The old-time school buildings have been displaced by a better class of houses, and there is a commendable interest in the cause of education. In 1881 there were three buildings in the township, in each of which a male teacher taught a five months' school, at an average salary of twenty-seven dollars per month. The male pupils enrolled numbered fifty-five; the females, fifty-two; the average attendance being sixty-two. The total amount expended for all school purposes was four hundred and ninety-eight dollars and eighty-two cents. Since the organization of the township the directors have been as follows:
1857, David Hare, Henry Wilson, A. P. White, John Hall, William Livingston, Benjamin Corbin; 1858, N. G. McDivitt, Samuel Peightal; 1859, Henry S. Miller, A. P. White; 1860, William V. Miller, J. A. Greene, Elisha Shoemaker, Stephen Gorsuch; 1861, A. P. White, William A. Kelly, Charles Greene, Samuel Fridley; 1862, Elisha Shoemaker, Jacob Greene, Samuel Thompson; 1883, Henry Wilson, Jesse Gorsuch, Samuel Hess, Daniel Kyper, John Kaufman, N. G. McDivitt; 1864, Benjamin Corbin, Elisha Shoemaker; 1865, A. P. White, Daniel Kyper, Andrew Smith; 1866, Samuel Hess, Henry Wilson; 1867, Elisha Shoemaker, Andrew Smith; 1868, A. P. White, Joseph McCracken; 1869, N. G. McDivitt, Charles Greene; 1870-71, A. P. White, Thomas Gorsuch; 1872, John Graham, James Greene, Samuel Hess; 1873, Elisha Shoemaker, J. N. Greene; 1874, A. P. White, H. S. Miller; 1875, A. Hess, James Blair; 1876, J. K. Wilson, John Summers, G. W. C. James; 1877, A. P. White, Samuel Neal; 1878, James Greene, S. Hess; 1879, Elisha Greene, H. S. Miller; 1880, James S. Hall, A. P. White; 1881, James Greene, Daniel Kyper.
Donation Methodist Episcopal Church. - It appears that the Methodists were the first persuasion to maintain regular worship in what now constitutes Oneida township. At the house of Jacob White a small class met statedly as early as 1803, which had as its leader Mark Evans, and among its members the White family, Rolland and Griffith Evans, Isaac Greene, and the wife and daughter of a man named Fulton, who lived near the Warm Springs. At long intervals preaching was held at the same place by the ministry of that period. Chief among these was the Rev. Jacob Gruber. He was so highly esteemed by the people of the county that a brief sketch of his life will be read with interest. Jacob Gruber was born in Lancaster County, Pa., Feb. 3, 1778, of German parents, belonging to the Lutheran Church. At the age of fifteen years he was converted while attending Methodist meetings, and, much against the will of his parents, joined the Methodist Church. On account of this act he was forced to leave his home, but a reconciliation enabled him to return and worship according to his preference. But he manifested so much zeal in the spiritual welfare of his neighbors that he was the second time compelled to leave home, being about this time twenty-one years of age. Not knowing what to do, he started on foot for Lancaster City, and on the way met a Methodist preacher, who urged him to begin preaching at once by filling a vacancy on a certain circuit. He spent all the money he had and started to the field of labor which had been pointed out to him. The following year he was regularly received by the Philadelphia Conference, and his appointments extended through the State from New Jersey to West Virginia, and covering more than that entire breadth from north to south. As a circuit preacher he served thirty-two years, and although opposed to station-work, yet he filled acceptably for seven years appointments in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington. He was somewhat eccentric in manner, but was nevertheless a devoted, useful minister, winning the highest esteem from his colleagues, one of whom said, "A more honest man never lived, a braver soldier of the cross never wielded the sword of the spirit. As a preacher, he was original; his power of irony, sarcasm, and ridicule were tremendous." He had no children, and devised his estate to charitable institutions. He died at Lewistown, Pa., May 25, 1850, full of the spirit of the Master whom he had so faithfully served.
Owing to the removal of some of the early members of the Methodist class in Oneida, what interest remained was absorbed by the Manor Hill Church, although meetings were sometimes held in the schoolhouse at Donation. In 1870 money was raised to build a house of worship in the township, and in the fall of the following year the present church edifice was dedicated by the presiding elder of the district, the Rev. A. W. Clippinger, being the preacher in charge of Manor Hill Circuit, to which Donation belonged. The house is a plain but neatly-built frame, and cost in the neighborhood of two thousand dollars. It stands on a lot of ground donated by Barton Greene, while the cemetery lot, on the opposite side of the street, was donated by David Waldsmith. The first board of trustees was composed of John P. Stewart, David Waldsmith, A. P. White, Henry Wilson, Charles Greene, George Kemberlin, and Elisha Greene. The latter still serves as trustee, and is also the leader of the membership here, about thirty in all. The additional trustees are A. P. White, Barton Greene, David Waldsmith, and Henry Wilson.
The Centre Union Baptist Church was organized Nov. 17, 1873, of sixteen members who withdrew from the Stone Creek Baptist Church for this purpose, namely, Elijah Gorsuch, Stephen Gorsuch, J. S. Warfel, Ruth Warfel, N. G. McDivitt, Susan McDivitt, Samuel Gorsuch, Mary Gorsuch, Peniah Morrison, J. B. Warfel, Samuel Neal, Nancy Neal, Martha M. Neal, Catherine McElwain, Mary T. Warfel. At the council assembled to recognize the church delegates were present from Huntingdon, Mill Creek, Shaver's Creek, Stone Creek, and Scottsville Churches. K. Z. Green was the moderator, and R. McDivitt the secretary of the council. Thomas Gorsuch became the first clerk of the church, and has served continuously since, except in 1877, when William B. Miller filled that position. Elijah Gorsuch was the first deacon, and Stephen Gorsuch and John Warfel are the present deacons. The latter, Henry Miller, and N. G. McDivitt are the present trustees of the meeting-house, which was built by the Stone Creek Church in 1870. It is a plain frame house, but has an inviting appearance. The church was served by the Rev. J. D. Thomas from the time of its organization until his death in 1878. He was baptized while a student at Lewisburg in 1862, and ordained to the ministry in 1868, becoming pastor of the Stone Creek charge the same year. In August, 1869, the Rev. W. P. Hile became the pastor of the charge, and yet maintains that relation. Centre Union Church reported forty-three members in 1880.
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