HAMLIN TOWNSHIP, bounded by Wetmore, Sergeant, Lafayette and Keating townships, is divided into three sections, Kinzua creek valley in the north center, and part of the northwest, separated by Big Level, of which Howard Hill is a peak, from Marvin and West Clarion valleys on the east, center and south. The Smethport anticlinal runs southwest between Howard Hill and Marvin creek; the Kinzua - Emporium cross anticlinal - through the southwest corner; the southeast corner is near the Clermont (4) bituminous basin; the western and central sections in the sixth bituminous basin, which also crosses the northwest corner. The greatest elevation (Howard Hill) is 2,268 feet above tide, and the lowest (near the old Hulings well No. 1) 1,625 feet. The high lands average 2,200 feet above tide.
The head-waters of West Clarion form the southwest of Howard Hill, while Kinzua creek, which forms in Lafayette and Keating, receives many feeders along the great bend north of the hill. Windfall run rises in the northwest corner, and the south branch of Kinzua in the southwest corner. Marvin creek may be said to rise in the south center, although a small branch comes down from Seven Mile summit in Sergeant township. Head Brook, Wildcat and Stanton runs, with a hundred rivulets, flow southeast from Big Level to swell the stream, and at Kasson post-office Long run flows northwest from Chappel Hill into it. Warner Brook flows from Clermont Hill through the southeast corner into the Marvin, and Glad run flows northwest in the southwest corner to join the south branch of the Kinzua.
Early in the "fifties" the McKean & Elk Land Company opened a number of coal mines here. Dalson's principal bed was at the head of Wildcat run, east of Howard Hill, a four-feet deposit of pure, bright bituminous coal, eleven feet of dark and six feet of cannel. Within this township three members of the coal family are grouped, the Dagus, Clermont and Alton middle. The first occupies but small space, the second inhabits the heights of the Howard Hill divide, and the third is found in almost every place throughout the county.
The old Owl Well (Hulings No. 1) was drilled in 1878 (opposite the mouth of Town Line run on the south bank of the Kinzua, 1,625 feet above ocean level) to a depth of 1,613 feet, and yielded thirty barrels per day for the year ending in July, 1879. Hulings No. 3 well was completed in March, 1879, to 1,730 feet, near the southwest corner of Warrant 3076, and the wells of Wilcox & Schultz, Knox Bros., and the Westmoreland Oil Company on Warrant 3073, found some oil in the top of the sand, but deeper drilling produced salt water in such quantity that they were abandoned and the southeast limit of the field supposed to have been reached. A subsequent well drilled by Wilson in 1881 north of the middle of Warrant 2690, and promptly abandoned, confirmed this supposition, but wells drilled by the Union Oil Company, southeast of the Hulings No. 5, have recently demonstrated an extension in that direction. On the western edge of the field a number of wells drilled by the P.C.L. & P. Company were similarly drowned out by salt water and operations in that quarter were abandoned also. These wells all stopped at the Bradford sand, the deeper Kane sand not having been discovered until 1885, at Kane. The Kinzua well, at the confluence of Glad run and the Kinzua, was opened early in 1877 by L.C. Blakeslee for the Producers' Consolidated Land & Petroleum Company of Bradford. Salt water was found in the sand at 1,745 to 1,768 feet, or fifty feet below ocean level.
In 1856 Dalson discovered limestone, but the location is not given nor has the modern explorer found an outcrop, but as the valley of Marvin creek is celebrated for its deposits of this slaty-bluish rock, a dip may bring it under the sub-Olean conglomerate.
The valley of North Kinzua in this township, as well as those of Windfall, Mead, South Kinzua and Glad run, with the intervening territory (nearly one-half of the township) are still clothed with an unbroken forest in which hemlock predominates. This is the property of the Union Oil Company and the Gen. Kane estate. The Kane estate still owns in Wetmore and Hamlin townships, extending into Elk county, about 25,000 acres.
The resident tax-payers of Hamlin township in 1847-48 were Adin and Aranah Aldrich, William Fields, Freeman Garlick, J.P. King, C. McFall, H. Burlingame (now a resident), Sam. Stanton, Abel Stanton, Jerry Warner, Hiram White, David Woodruff, William Woodruff and Joseph Wilks & Co. The total value of occupied lands and personal property was $2,940, as certified by Assessor McFall.
Hamlin township, in 1880, had 330 inhabitants. In 1888 there were 165 Republican, 57 Democratic and 15 Prohibitionist votes cast, or 237. The total multiplied by five gives the population at the time 1,185. The officers chosen in February, 1890, are: Supervisors, D.F. Pattison, Bent Lunberg; school directors, W.H. McNeil, M.J. Gallup; auditor, L.J. Swanson; constable, G.H. Sparks; collector, G.H. Sparks; judge of election, J.E.B. White; inspectors, S.W. Pattison, Charles Paulson; town clerk, Charles Paulson.
The post-office at Kasson is in charge of G.O. Garlick.
N.D. Battison's basket factory was established in August, 1883, when he leased free from Elisha Kane a three-acre lot for such factory. Mr. Kane gave him $175 and also a large lot for his dwelling - the only consideration being the establishment of this industry. Earlier that year the town plat was surveyed, and with this industry, employing twenty-five persons, the nucleus of the present village was formed. That year the R.& P.R.R. was completed, but some of the people opposed the location of the factory earnestly. A fire destroyed the buildings soon after, but the owner rebuilt and continued in business some time. The building passed into various hands, and is now occupied by Hitchcock & Davis.
In 1887 F.W. Andrews began a series of seven test wells on the Kane lands, which led to the development of the field by the Anchor Oil Company. The first of the wells, one and one-half miles northeast, showed gas in small quantity at a depth of 900 feet. This with others reverted to Mr. Kane, and he conceived the idea of supplying Mount Jewett with gas. With some difficulty thirteen consumers were secured, but the gas proving itself worthy of its claims, the list was increased to over 100. At the beginning Mr. Kane could not obtain one subscriber to a proposed stock company. The system now extends from McAmbley's mill to the village.
O.B. Mosser & Co.'s tannery at Mount Jewett was established in 1887, when most of the present buildings were erected. The capacity is 600 hides per week, and the number of men employed in July and August, 1889, fifty. This tannery uses from 4,000 to 5,000 cords of bark annually, the price being $4.50 per cord. The hemlock bark is found in the wood adjoining, oak bark being imported.
The McAmbley saw-mill, three miles northeast of Mount Jewett, is an important industry…Hitchcock & Davis' saw-mill is devoted to the manufacture of hardwood…Mellander's mill is northeast of the village…Campbell's saw-mill, a mile south of the village, was a large concern, but in July, 1889, the machinery was moved to Kane to make way for Huff's hardwood factory. Southeast of the village are the Roos saw-mills…Kinzua mill, six miles from Kane, was burned in July, 1887…The McClelland & Kane model mill was erected at Mount Jewett in the fall of 1889. M.H. Manning was superintendent of building and machinery.
Mount Jewett post-office was established in February, 1882, with Augustus Mellander postmaster.
The Presbyterian Society was organized July 13, 1888, and incorporated July 25, with O.B. Mosser, G.V. Thompson, E.W. Hevner, W.W. Brewer, L.A. Groat and Hubert Schultz, trustees, all of whom were members except Brewer, Hevner and Thompson. The list of original members also embraced Calvin Gray and wife, Mrs. W.W. Brewer, E.A. Conn, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Groat, Mrs. Schultz and Mrs. Mosser. Work was begun in July on a new church house and completed in October. Rev. W.J. Arney of Kane organized this society, and is its first pastor.
The Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Nebo Church of Mount Jewett was incorporated in September, 1888, with B.C. and A. Lundberg, Oscar Wiborg and J. Mellander, subscribers…The Church of the Mission Friends was organized in 1887 and a small house for worship erected.
The Aldrich Cemetery was incorporated in May, 1877, with H.W. Burlingame, G.O. Garlick, O. Perry, H.L. Burlingame, J.E.B. White and Hiram W. Burlingame, trustees.
Fisher Tent of the K.O.T.M. was organized at Mount Jewett in May, 1887, with James Doyle, Owen Coyle, L.A. Groat, De T. Parrish, C.W. Obing, W.H. Reese, A.A. Van Slyke, W.J. Jackson, Dan. Shea, M. Sylvester, N. Marsh, R. Jackson and O. McLoud filling the several positions.
The Kinzua bridge was completed April 1, 1882. To the observer, as he stands upon the north abutment pier, and, facing southward, gazes down a depth of over 300 feet to the creek's bed, then up the slope of the opposite side to the south end, at a distance of more than 2,000 feet from him, and considers that these extreme points are connected by a continuous line of track of uniform grade, over which roll the heavily freighted trains, he can not fail to be impressed with the fact that this is a progressive age. The bridge is constructed of stone and iron entirely. It consists of twenty lower spans of thirty-eight and one-half feet each, and twenty-one intermediate spans of sixty-one feet, and contains about four and one-half million pounds of wrought iron. The height is 301 feet, and length 2,051 feet, giving it a title to being the highest bridge in the world and one of the longest. The stone piers which are to support the towering iron columns are built of massive sandstone blocks, quarried on the ground, which nature has provided in abundance, and of an excellent quality. These are skillfully jointed, bedded and bonded.
Stafford, the watchman, climbs over and inspects three of the towers every day. As there are twenty towers altogether he gets over the entire system of piers and braces in a week. Once, in the winter of 1883-84, while making his usual inspection, he fell a distance of sixty-five feet. The cold winter air numbed his hands so that he could cling no longer to the iron braces. Fortunately he fell into about ten feet of snow, which broke his fall, else the company might have been compelled to look for a new man. He said he only missed striking a stump by a few inches. He relates another narrow escape. He said he was climbing over the top girts one day when some one hailed him from above. It startled him, and he sort of forgot where he was. He let go his hold and was going. By a great effort he caught hold of one of the iron braces just in time to save himself. The accident of July, 1889, tested the strength of the structure. Conductor Keily's train, bound south, separated on the viaduct, the locomotive and attached cars reaching Mount Jewett before fourteen cars were missed. The engineer at once backed down and when near the bridge Brakeman Ryan discovered the conductor's signals. The engineer reversed his lever, and at once a coupling snapped and three cars went thundering down grade. At the bridge there was a terrible crash and three cars were converted into kindling wood, 301 feet above the creek. Had the cars gone over the sides of the viaduct there is little doubt regarding the damage which would have been caused the structure.
The Anchor Oil Company's lease on the Kane oil reservation or the Swedish farms was developed in July, 1889. Up to the 21st the well was guarded, but it is now declared to be a gusher as well as a gasser. The location is one and a half miles south of the tannery on Frank Nelson's farm. The Anchor and Forest Oil Company and Taylor & Torrey secured a piece of the Kane estate, consisting of 2,500 acres. P.W. Roth came to Mount Jewett in July, 1889, and located his first well July 29 on the John Mellander farm. Mr. Roth drilled the first producer in the Washington field, and has been connected with oil interests in the Bradford field since 1875. The Timbuctoo well at Lafayette was completed July 25, 1889.
Oil memories cluster round the big bridge. An old weather-beaten derrick is still visible from the viaduct a short distance up the stream, where Marcus Hulings anchored some cash in the autumn of 1879 in searching for a continuation of the Cole creek streak. In the winter of 1883-84 Mumford, a former bookkeeper for Butts, together with Cheeney & Phillips, of Alton, obtained a 200-acre lease from Bowen, of Boston, on Warrant 2,241. The company drilled a well on the piece. The Barnsdall venture of August, 1884, is located in the southeast corner of Warrant 2,248 - 2,500 feet north and a trifle east of the Mumford & Cheeney well. In 1879 the Parker Brothers, and, in 1884, the Higgins also, drilled on Ormsby lands.