History of the Township
Southampton township was organized in 1801. As then formed, it included the
present township of Northampton and Larimer---that part of Allegheny township
that lies south of the Glades road or turnpike, as well as a part of the present
township of Fair Hope, or nearly all of the territory that was annexed to Somerset
county in 1800. But by the successive formation of the townships named it has
been reduced to a rather small area. In its physical features it is nearly as
rough and rugged as its near neighbors to the west, but with a better soil.
Of the early settlers Jost (or Joseph) Leydig, who came from Berks county shortly
after the Revolutionary war, located on the Emerick farm. Peter Troutman, the
Lepleys, John Comp, John Hahn and Jacob Martz were all among the earliest settlers.
In another part of this volume, under the caption of "Londonderry Township
Annexed", will be found the names of 90 taxables who lived in the annexed
part in 1800. Of course, some of them lived in what is now Allegheny township.
Some of them also lived Northampton and Fairhope townships. But it is probable
that the greater number of them lived in Southampton township as it is at present
constituted. The date 1800 fixes a time when they certainly were here. It is
about equally certain that nearly all of them may have been here from ten to
thirty years earlier. Nowhere else in Somerset county are so many of the pioneer
names still to be found as in Southampton township. Such readers as are interested
are referred to the list itself.
The first gristmill in Southampton township was built near Wellersburg, by
Jacob Korns, in 1809. About 1830 William and Daniel DeHaven operated a carding
mill in the same building. In 1837 the entire structure, then owned by George
Weller, was destroyed by fire, and was never rebuilt. Jacob Uhl built the second
gristmill in the township in 1810. In later years this has been known as the
Reitz mill. The Kennell gristmill was built by George Leydig about 1818, and
rebuilt in 1853, by Jonathan Kennell. This is where Gladdens postoffice is.
An old gristmill on the Comp farm, a short distance below the Kennell mill,
was converted into a woolen factory in 1873. This was operated by M. L. Tauber
until about 1894, when he removed from the township. Since that time it has
not been operated.
While it may still be far distant, Southampton township must certainly have
a future before it. The northern end of the Frostburg coal field projects into
the township from Maryland and covers about one-half of its area. Of the great
Pittsburg seam there are less then three hundred acres. The lower productive
coal measures underlie an area of about twenty productive coal measures underlie
an area of about twenty square miles. The region has been rather fully explored,
and about 1886 a bore hole was put down to a depth of 1,200 feet. This shows
that all of the lower beds of coal exist here, and are of a workable thickness.
The estimate of Peter J. Leslie, then State Geologist, was that there were probably
four hundred millions of tons of coal in this field. There is also an abundance
of iron ore to be found. The average results of eight analyses that have been
made show a yield in pig metal of over 35 percent. There are also immense deposits
of good fire clay, and in the fullness of time all these resources will be developed.
Wellsburg borough was laid out in 1830, by George Weller. The town lies along
the old Cumberland turnpike. So far as we know, the land on which the town is
built was first improved by Jacob Korns, who sold the land to Weller. The first
house was built by Jeremiah Wingert, in 1834. He also began operating a tannery
in the following year. A man named Barnes opened the first store. John R. Brinham
succeeded Barnes in the mercantile business. Through good and evil fortune,
Mr. Brinham clung to the town, having an abiding faith in the future of both
Wellersburg and Southampton township. Upright and honorable in all things, he
carried on the mercantile business here for fifty years, as a public spirited
citizen giving freely of his time and substance to promote the welfare of the
town. It is said that Mr. Brinham was appointed postmaster in 1841, and held
the office up to the time of his death, in 1892. While speaking about the postoffice,
it may be said there was a postoffice in 1830, or about that time, called Southampton.
Peter Boyer was the postmaster. It is very probably that it was where Wellersburg
now is. It is very probably that it was where Wellersburg now is. It certainly
must have been somewhere along the turnpike. About 1855 there was also a postoffice
on top of Savage mountain called "Top Savage."
To return to Wellersburg, the first brick house, and so far as we know, the
only one in the place, was built by John R. Brinham. All the raw material entering
into the manufacture of iron abounds in Southampton township. In 1855 a furnace
was built by the Union Coal and Iron Company. This company succeeded an older
company, which had extensive mineral rights. For the time being this enterprise
brought great prosperity to the village. The furnace had a capacity of about
300 tons per month, and in various ways gave employment to upwards of 200 men.
The furnace was abandoned in 1856, and with it departed the prosperity of Wellersburg,
and its population has since dwindled until it has become one of the smallest
boroughs in the county.
Wellersburg was incorporated as a borough in 1857. The first election for burgess
resulted in a tie between George G. Walker and C. E. Ways. From 1860 to the
present time these officers have been as follows: Jeremiah Wingert, I. D. Reese,
Jeremiah Wingert (two terms), John R. Brinham, J. R. Shockey, Isaac Augustine,
Wm. Uhl (two terms), John Wingert, Henry Moser, Peter Knearam, Adams Trimble
(three terms), Joseph H. Luther, W. F. Uhl, John Wingert, Michael Long (six
terms), John Wingert (two terms), J. H. Seth, John Winters, John Wingert (two
terms), F. Fechtig, J. P. Meyers, C. H. Close, F. C. Fechtig, S. S. Fechtig,
F. C. Fechtig, Hiram Stortz, Wm. Long, F. C. Fechtig, S. C. Fechtig.
From The History of Bedford and Somerset Counties by Blackburn
and Welfley, published in 1906. Chapter 30.