History of McKean County
J.H. Beers, Chicago, 1890
Foster Township



History of Foster Township

FOSTER TOWNSHIP formed part of Bradford township until 1880, and today it is practically a part of the old township in its topographical features and business interests. In March, 1880, the vote on setting off Foster township from Bradford was seventy-two for and thirty-one contra. The name was given in honor of Leonard S. Foster, the oldest continuous white resident of the Tuna Valley, who resided at Foster Brook since 1824, Bernard Pike, the pioneer,moving away years ago. This township in 1880 had a population of 5,373. In November, 1888, there were 288 Republican, 154 Democratic, 43 Prohibitionist and 46 Labor Unionist votes cast; and a total of 531 multiplied by six gives the population at the time as 3,186.

The history of this township is one story of conflagration after conflagration. Red Rock was burned early in 1880, shortly after the destruction of Knox City and of Gillmor.

The Rew City fire of May 7, 1880, originated on the Shedd farm, sparks from Fisher & Pickett's engine setting fire to their No. 6 well, and resulting in the four-months old town of Rew City being destroyed within two hours. Beginning on the north boundary on the east side of Bordell avenue, there were destroyed as follows: Dan Kelly's feed stable; Moscho's barn and dwelling; Curtis & Hart's building; Seth Jordan's boarding house; Robert Menziers' restaurant; Chandler Bros.' grocery; J.D. Wolf's building and hardware stock; U. Fox's new boarding house, and Eugene Capron's building and stock. On the north and south sides of Coleville road, west of Bordell avenue, Ireland's machine shop; the pioneer hotel, known as the Summit House, conducted by Ross & Marr; the Rew City House; Hale's drug store; Giles' & Mehany's building; Bradford shoe store; Laydry Davey's boarding house; Central House; Dailey's hardware; Allington's restaurant; Connelly's hotel. Sniggs & Stickney's grocery; Wood & Bowens' meat market and bakery; Scanlon's Davenport House; Cook's portable restaurant building; Chandler Bros.' building; G.E. Edmund's livery; Dayton & Jackson's hotel; McGeorge's dwelling; S.S. Francis' dwelling; Sinclair's fruit shop; McDermott's feed store and blacksmith shop; Murray, Morrison & Company's buildings; Thomas' restaurant; Lewis' boarding house; Robinson's building; McNamara's Edinburg House, and C. Webster's tank shop, on the west side of Bordell avenue, south of the Coleville road, were all swept away. D. Rew's farm house and building, then occupied by Middaugh, were destroyed,and five buildings on the west side of the street; Whiting's boarding house, Stoddard's hotel, Mrs. Agger's Central House, Dorey's boarding house, Lewis' Cuba House, and a number of small buildings were destroyed. On the Rew farm the McCalmont Company, McKay & Company, Packard & Company, S.D. Karn & Company, Benedict & Whitnal, Dyer & Ford, lost heavily in oil and rigs. The fire of May 6, 1880, at Kendall Creek, a half mile north of Rew City, originated in the premature explosion of a torpedo in Bradley & Co.'s No. 6 well on the Taylor tract. It appears the torpedo was lowered to a depth of 600 feet, when a sudden flow of oil drove it upward, and, striking the walking beam, it exploded. The rig and a 150-barrel tank were destroyed, and the fire, running to Johnson & Co.'s rig on the Bingham land, destroyed it and the oil in tank, together with their rig on the Mantz farm below the Rew farm.

On the hillside between Lafferty and Sawyer, the rigs at eight producing wells were burned. The property of Munhall & Smithman, O'Dell & Emerson and Van Vleck was burned over, while the Anchor Petroleum Company lost two rigs on the Whipple farm.

The Foster Brook fire of May 6, 1880, originated at Porter, Gilmore & Co.'s No. 7 well, at the foot of the hollow leading to Bell's Camp, and extended southeast over the divide through the C.B. & H. tract, thence through a portion of the Willets tract to the west line of the Borden tract, destroying 101 rigs and a quantity of oil in the Foster brook and Harrisburg run neighborhoods. Tram Hollow lost nineteen rigs, six were burned on the east branch and fifty-four at Kendall Creek, aggregating 132 rigs destroyed in a few hours. Near Tarport the fire began in the brush near the Cornen purchase, and at once encircled three 250-barrel oil tanks.

The Rixford fire of May 9, 1880, originated in Squire Cline's office, and resulted in the destruction of seventy-five buildings, six loaded freight cars, twelve empty flat cars, forty rigs and 70,000 barrels of oil - the total loss being placed at $184,000. The old Rixford dwelling was swept away at this time, but, although the fire surrounded it, John McKeown's well on Main street was left untouched. On the north side, western end of Main street, west of the point of origin, this fire destroyed Cronin's boarding house; Farley's dwelling; the Central House; Cline's office; Mitchell's grocery; the Waterman block; Mrs. Karn's jewelry store; Tuttle's fruit stand; the Seymour building; the Nast Bros.' building; A.J. North's; Krohn's clothing house; Steven's bowling alley; Otto's dwelling; Scoville's law office; Blue Front grocery; Baker's dwelling; Edmund's dwelling; Tait's photograph gallery; Wass' restaurant; Garvin's blacksmith shop; Gibney's shoe shop; Dana's billiard hall; Brundage's Bakery Hotel; McIntosh's boarding house; Crandall & Alderman's grocery; Goodenough's Scranton House; Shanbacker's Yeoman House; Tait's grocery; Farrell's boarding house; Ive's shoe store; Holmes', Porter's and Mrs. Barry's dwellings; Drach's laundry, and Curtis & Drake's Titusville House. On Railroad street, extending north from Main, there were destroyed Horan's Hotel; Kane's restaurant; Mrs. Rockwell's Central Hotel; the dwellings of Crooker, August and Dean; Mrs. Robins' saloon; Gorley's Railroad House; railroad depot; Packard & Co.'s office; Youngstown Oil Company's office, and Culbertson's dwelling, while Allen's coal yard, McAndrew's boiler shop and E.S. Crooker's tank shop, west of depot, were destroyed. South of Railroad street U.T. No. 429 and No. 452, 25,000-barrel tanks, and McLeod & Morrison's 7,000-barrel tanks burned. On the south side of Main street, beginning on the west, there were destroyed Unger's clothing store; Wagner's meat market; the Rolph House; Wagner & Faught's Opera House; the O'Brien building; Kammacher's building; Royer building; John Faught's dwelling; Crandall's dry goods house; Dickenson's post-office building; Neilen's hotel (Bishop House); Fleming's tank shop; Robinson's glycerine office; William O'Brien's residence; Dibble's drug store; the Gleason House; Edward's livery stable; O'Brien's old Rixford House; John McKeown's office, and O. Fleming's dwelling. The work of rebuilding was begun on May 10 of that year.

The Dallas City oil fire took place August 19, 1880, 50,000 barrels of oil being on fire. At that time the Tidewater Tank No. 6 stood 350 feet distant from the pump station, while up the brook was United Lines Tank No. 410, and in the vicinity other oil reserves. At five o'clock that evening lightning struck two of the 25,000-barrel tanks and one 700-barrel tank, and destroyed the telegraph instruments. James Stephens extinguished the fire at the small tank, the property of W.M. Carner & Co., but the large tanks and several rigs were destroyed.

The Rew City fire of October 24, 1881, originated in Bernard's barber shop, on the west side of Bordell street, burning Francis' meat market and dwelling, Googe Bros.' bowling alley, A.J. Dearmont's blacksmith shop on the south side. The fire was checked at Murray's feed store and dwelling, where there was an alley three feet wide. Murray's store was badly scorched and had a narrow escape. On the north side were burned the Tioga House, the building owned by C.C. Violl and occupied by D.E. Miece as a furniture store, being checked at Blakeley Bros.' drug store, where there was an alley about eight feet wide. On the east side of the street the Fox House, used as a hall, and on the north side Woodbury & Campbell's building, occupied by Edney Smith as a saloon and bowling alley, and Dearmont's blacksmith and wagon shop were destroyed. The flames were checked at Cornell's dwelling by an alley about eight feet wide. Water was hauled from the Hopking & Packard lease in a 250-barrel tank. Eight teams were employed and furnished an ample supply. The citizens fought the fire bravely.

The Kansas Branch fire of January 4, 1884, resulted in the burning of the four children of C.N. Garver, an employee of the Keystone Company.

The glycerine explosion at Sawyer City in September, 1881, resulted in the death of William Bunton, Charles Rust, James Thrashier and Charles Krouse, and serious injury to four others.

Knox City, which came into existence in 1879, on the Hodge farm (soon after the Sawyer & Boille well was drilled on the Rew farm), was inaugurated by the opening of Jack Fraser's Knox City House. It was destroyed by fire April 21, 1880. This fire originated in a barber shop, and destroyed Hussey's saloon, Pfunter's furniture shop, M.T. Holahan's buildings, the Oil Exchange Hotel, the Barnes House, Stone Bros.' grocery, and Fraser's Knox City House.

Gillmor, near Bradford, was wiped out by fire in March, 1879, and Hugh Lafferty burned to death. Rebuilt at once, it is to-day one of the busy hamlets of this section. The Knights of Honor and other secret and benevolent organizations are to be found here, including G.A.R. Post No. 589, and the Women's Relief Corps. The old villages were rebuilt after the fashion of oil camps, business resumed, and to-day the visitor may converse with some persons who never heard of the destructive fires of 1879-84.

Babcock, a lumbering village, now known as Tuna Creek, is located north of Bradford, near the State line.

The villages of this township are Foster Brook, Babcock's Mills, Derrick City, Lafferty, Red Rock, Gillmor, Sawyer city, Hazelwood, Forest, Taylor, and Rew City. Throughout the valleys of the township are several agricultural settlements. At Derrick City is a Methodist church building; it is the circuit station and here Rev. William Magovern resides.

Foster Brook Lodge No. 11, Knights of Pythias, was organized some time ago, and in October, 1889, took an important place among the societies of the district.

The township officers elected in February, 1890, are as follows: Supervisors, Robert McMurray and J.L. Seager; town clerk, George Wannamaker; collector, T.F. Hungerville; school directors, H.T. Morian and S.A. Shannon; auditor, E.B. Sage; assessor, N. Snyder; judge of election, First District, H.B. Day; inspectors, T.W. Powers and M.M. McKay; judge of election, Second District, J.W. Gromley; inspectors, W.J. Boyd and S.M. Henderson. Tarport, or Borough of Kendall.

Tarport adjoins Bradford city on the north, and is connected therewith by railroad and street car lines. In 1880 it contained 2,689 inhabitants. In 1888 there were 181 Republican, 139 Democratic, eleven Prohibitionist and three United Labor votes cast, or a total of 334. This number multiplied by six gives and approximate of the present population, about 2,004.

Tarport was great when Bradford was a little hamlet. For years the trade of northwestern McKean centered here, and here many of the pioneers of Bradford's business entered on commercial life. Harvey D. Hicks was the first postmaster at Tarport, keeping the office in the hotel. On entering the union service in 1862, his wife continued the office during the war. In 1872 Loyal Ward was appointed to the office, and served until William Beers succeeded him in 1873. The office has been filled by Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Butler in recent years until J.C. Brenneman was commissioned in July, 1889. The discovery of oil in the Tuna Valley changed the pleasant little village of olden days into a bustling oil camp. In 1876 the name was changed to Kendall Creek; the post-office was then established under that name, with H.G. Mitchell postmaster. In June of that year Mitchell & Sons opened a grocery store and Z. Fisher commenced building his three-story hotel. Later F.N. Taylor opened a store there and the Oil Exchange hall was erected.

In 1878 the village contained about 900 inhabitants. Here was the junction of the Peg-Leg Line and the Olean, Bradford & Warren Railroads; hundreds of derricks standing all around, and large tanks, telling at once that this was the great tank city of the period. In January, 1878, the Peg-Leg Railroad was completed to Tarport, and the Narrow Gauge was opened February 11, 1878, between Bradford and Olean, the train climbing grades of 135 feet per mile. vIn January and February, 1878, the Era was filled with accounts of atrocities at Tarport, in the low resort of Ben Hogan, since which time strange changes have taken place. The wicked village of 1878 was destroyed to give place to the new order of houses and inhabitants, and even the notorious Ben has become an evangelist, as elsewhere related. Contemporary with Ben's settlement at Tarport came the era of fires and explosions. Roberts' glycerine factory, a mile from Tarport, exploded October 2, 1877, killing J.F. Smith and injuring Col. Roberts and his son. The fire of April 25, 1880, destroyed Schmultz's grocery, Kerns' saloon, Stine's Dew Drop Inn, Delmage's tank shop, and Mrs. Robinson's boarding house. William Houseler was arrested and charged with being the incendiary. The glycerine explosion of May 24, 1880, destroyed the Ernest Koester works below Tarport. It appears the forest fires communicated with the safes (then containing only 200 pounds of the explosive), which were lifted bodily upward and scattered over a wide area. In May, 1880, Book & Rhodes' No. 15 Tank, on Rutherford run, was struck by lightning and 600 barrels of oil burned, and Stettheimer's engine house, on East branch, destroyed. J.M. Trait lost the rigs and tanks at his wells on Foster brook. The Roger Sherman 10,000-barrel oil tank, near Tarport, was struck by lightning June 10, 1880, and set on fire. Superintendent Seymore turned steam on the burning oil, and this, aided by the application of wet blankets, subdued the flames - the first time an oil tank and contents were thus saved. The fire of June 25, 1880, destroyed thirty-two buildings in two hours. It originated in the Westcott House, which it destroyed as well as the following buildings: Mrs. Melhuish's boarding house, J.W. Winsor's dwelling, Heathcote's hotel, Riley & Evans' hotel, Wheaton's meat market, J.S. Fisher's saloon, Mackay & Benson's grocery, Phillips' Oil Exchange Hotel, the Dowdney House, Mulqueen's saloon, Ockerman building, L.R. Barnes' hotel, Flynn Bros.' grocery, Levi's clothing house, Kern's saloon, and another saloon, Calhoun's shoe store, Walsh's building, Hurd's harness shop, and the Fuller House barn. On the opposite side it destroyed the Walsh House, then operated by John Ingersoll; the double house owned by John Mitchell, master; his dwelling in the rear; E.R. Sherman's and George Smith's dwellings; the Oil Exchange building; Frank Taylor's building, Judge Craig's dwelling and Cadwallader's office. The total loss was estimated at $50,000. Mrs. Neff's boarding house, at head of Main street, was saved. The fire of May 5, 1883, destroyed six houses, and burned to death George O'Neil, a fireman. Kendall Borough elections were held February 15, 1881, when Eugene Buck received 208 votes and C.E. Everson 103, for burgess. M.A. Haggerty, O.L. Lathrop, Denis Lundergan, C. Benson, Phil Ackley and Joseph Nye were elected members of council; E.F. Converse, constable; A.J. Evans, high constable; A.M. Kleckner, C.D. Longfellow and Robert Pilkington, school directors; Joe Bensinger, assessor; C.D. Longfellow and W.B. Clark, auditors; S.B. Shaffer and E.W. Baker, inspectors, and John Todd, judge of elections. J.H. Butler was elected burgess in 1882, receiving the total vote, 216; Philo Ackley, in 1883; L.D. Langmade, in 1884, with W.W. Penhollow, justice; E.J. Fitzsimmons, in 1885-86; Philo Ackley, in 1887, with A.M. Kleckner, justice, and T.T. Mapes, in 1888-89. The officers elected in February, 1890, are as follows: Burgess, W.K. Urquhart; councilmen, J.G. Fisher, S.W. Stilling, P. Mallory; school direct ors, A.V. Field, J.C. Smith; justice of the peace, Philo Ackley; collector, W.W. Penhollow; constable, M.B. Delmage; auditor, Wilson Rice; judges of election, First District, Philo Ackley; Second District, C.D. Gilbert; inspectors, William Heaps, James Flynn, Wilson Rice, E.H. Parish.

The early schools of Tarport are noticed in the history of Bradford township, where many of the pioneers of this section are also referred to. So also with the religious organizations.

The first Presbyterian Church of Kendall was incorporated in June, 1881, with T.W. Williamson, F.S. Reynolds, J.W. Sherman, G. Buchanan, C.D. Longfellow, C.B. Seymour, Dr. McCarthy, J. Hockley, D.L. Skinner, J. Odell and G.W. Newman, members.

The first Free Methodist Society of Tuna Creek was organized in 1883, with O. Dodge, A.D. Gaines, Sam. Henderson, L. Sager, Harriet E. Jones, Mrs. M.J. Zeliff, Phil. And Mrs. M.V. Hooker, Mrs. M.G. Beardsley husband and William A.G. McCoy, H.G. Crawford, G. Brightonberger, C.B. Stoddard, William Cornelius, I. Walker, George Hasson, H. Hare and George F. Sanford. Rev. John H. Stoody is pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church here, the beginnings of which are told in the history of Bradford.

The Kendall Creek Cemetery Association was incorporated March 3, 1871, with C.C. Melvin, C.H. Foster, A.W. and James Buchanan and F.A. Moore, trustees.

Kendall Lodge No. 133, A.O.U.W., is one of the oldest benefit organizations of the borough. Among its officers may be named J.S. Fisher, W.K. Boyer, L. Reed, A.M. Kleckner and D. Huntley. This lodge built a hall some years ago near the railroad, which hall is still standing. The officers for 1890 are F.O. Hane, C. Crary, A. Cole, T.J. Buchanan, James Moseley, G.W. Mitchell, L.S. Reed, F.H. Burr, James Hood and A.M. Kleckner. Present membership, 97


Washington Legion, S.K. of A.O.U.W., was organized April 8, 1884. Among its members are those named in connection with the lodge, R.B. Gillespie, A.J. Martin, O.L. Lathrop, H.H. Berringer, A.J. Cole, T.B. Humes and others. The officers of the legion in 1890 are H.R. Winger, C.S. Crarey, James Hood, D. Huntley, D.J. Stewart, A.M. Kleckner, R.B. Gillespie, J.G. Fisher and G.E. Benninghoff. There are twenty-one members.

Kendall Tent No. 5, K.O.T.M., was organized July 8, 1884. Among its members are T.M. Olmsted, Col. D. Gardner, H.C. Jones, H.K. Boyer, M.P. Wooley and F.M. Bickford. The tent elected the following named officers in December, 1889, in order of tent rank: Moses P. Wooley, James L. Fleming, W.K. Urquhart, H.C. Jones, H. Boyer, M.B. Delmage, D.E. Ash and J.M. Shaw. The membership on March 10 was 136


Tuna Lodge No. 1122, Knights and Ladies Honor, was instituted January 20, 1886, by D.G. P., A.N. Heard. Among its members are E.M. McElhaney, J.Q. Field, Mrs. Kate Walter, E.R. Sherman, Frank G. Bemis, E.R. Sherman, C.F. Jewell, E.J. Fitzsimmons. The officers for 1890 are L.R. Shaw, Mrs. M.P. Hennage, E.R. Sherman, Rachel Troup, Ella Smiley, Mrs. Retta Phillips, Mrs. Sarah Artley, J.W. Stephens and M.E. Smiley. Medical examiner, D.E. Ash. There are eighty members.

Local Branch No. 389 of the Order of the Iron Hall was organized September 17, 1886; among the official members are H.G. Vankenren, J. Manly, J.R. McCarthy and T.B. Humes.

Break of Day Division No. 170, Sons of Temperance, was organized September, 1886. Its members were William Dobin, Rev. J.G. Hahn, Mrs. W. Harris, P. Whittlesey, Mrs. H. Wardell.

Kendall Section Cadets of Temperance, organized March, 1887; Mrs. M.A. Thomas, Mrs. L. Hann; D.G., William Dobie; W.A., Grace Sandburn; V.A., Annie Greer; P.W.A., Ella Dobie; R.S., Arch Worton; T., George Dobie.

In 1889 the Kendall Loan and Savings Association was organized with the following officers: President, George W. Mitchell; secretary, E.R. Sherman; treasurer, T.T. Mapes; appraising committee, T.T. Mapes, A.V. Field and J.M. Nye. The board of directors consists of A.V. Field, T.T. Mapes, J.M. Nye, George W. Mitchell and E.R. Sherman. These officers were reelected for 1890.

Kendall Circle No. 74, Protected Home Circle, is presided over by E.R. Sherman, with Ellen Geary, vice-president; Mrs. M. Moseley, chaplain; J.J. Gonter, G.; Emma J. Gonter, accountant; C.D. Longfellow, secretary; Mrs. Martha Sherman, treasurer; J.T. Graham, porter; Mrs. L. Whitman, watch, and Dr. J.R. McCartey, medical examiner.

Equitable Aid Union No. 249 was organized December 28, 1885, and is presided over by D. Keibler, with Dora Boyer, vice-president, and Mrs. L. Hathaway, secretary. The remaining offices are filled by H.R. Wigner, D. Huntly, Mrs. C. Withery, Mrs. L. Dorrance, Mrs. Wilda Rice, Mrs. Alice Smith, Myrtle Hathaway, Cora Montrose and O.B. Coleman. There are 158 members belonging to this union.

The following residents of Foster can be found in the Biographies Index

Ackley, Philo
Argue, H.H.
Argue, R.W.
Artley, Jonas
Baker, F.E.
Bidaux, F.X.
Bisett, James
Bisett, Richard L.
Boyd, A.W.
Buchanan, Jones
Buchanan, A.W.
Calhoun, John T.
Corwin, W.B.
Corwin, A.P.
Denman, John
Eaton, James P.
Egbert, Dr. R.A.
Foster, E.D.
Fox, Harry
Gillespie, C.W.
Haggerty, M.A.
Hanna, W.N.
Hannahs, R.
Hooker, Philip
Howard, William M.
Howe, Miles S.
Knight, Captain Cyrus E.
Leopold, Louis
Leopold, Ernest
LeRoy, G.W.
McCullough, W.L.
McKay, M.
McMurray, Robert
McMurray, S.W.
McMurray, J.C.
Mitchell, J.K.
Monroe, R.W.
Mosher Brothers
Neath, Jasper
Neill, W.H.
Northrup, E.E.
Norton, J.H.
Nugent, James
Otis, George H.
Potts, George
Potts, James
Ross, D.L.
Sage, E.B.
Seamans, A.A.
Seaward, Joseph S.
Sharpe, Chauncey
Sherman, Edward R.
Sinclair, W.F.
Spencer, O.F.
Stoever, E.H.
Whipple, S.A.
Williams, M.R.
Williams, B.F.
Williamson, William
Winger, Dr. F.W

Contributed by Maureen M. (Buckley) Lee