History of Bedford and Somerset Counties
Chapter 30: Townships in Somerset County, Part Two
Jefferson township was formed in 1847 out of part of Somerset township. Its earliest history is practically that of the Somerset settlement, of which it was a part. Among the Somerset settlers who lived in what is now Jefferson township were James Allen, Adam Flick, Nicholas Barron, Peter and George Bucher. These were all here in 1783, some of them a half dozen years earlier. In 1784 their families numbered twenty-four persons.
It is quite certain that some of the Bruners lived here also. The wife of Nicholas Barron was Rachel Houser. Her parents lived near Morrison's Cove, in Bedford county, and had taken refuge there on account of an Indian alarm. When harvest time came, a party of men, women and young people went back to the farms to harvest some grain, but on their way were attacked by Indians, who shot down all the men of the party and made prisoners of all the rest, excepting Mrs. Houser, who escaped. The girl Rachel and an older brother were among the captives, and were taken to Logstown, an Indian village, on the Ohio river. After some years her brother escaped, but the girl remained a captive until a general release of prisoners was effected. After her return to civilization she became the wife of Nicholas Barron. Numerous descendants of hers may still be found in the county.
Peter Bucher, a noted hunter, lived on one of the Morrison farms. Conrad Shaullis was also a very early settler. As we do not find his name on the assessments prior to 1785, it is this writer's opinion that he did not come here until some time after the close of the Revolutionary war, in which he served, although it is claimed he was here much earlier. It is also a question whether the Shaullis family of Somerset county may not be descendants of Sebastian Shaullis, who was one of the first settlers in the present township of Brothers Valley, or at least of the same stock. The Gardners were also early settlers, but not much earlier than 1790, even if so early as that.
A man named Jones built a grist mill on Jones run about 1778, which was the first mill built anywhere in the ancient Somerset settlement. This mill, long since disappeared, was on the old Putman place. It was operated by William Jones, one of his sons, who necessarily would also have been one of Jefferson's earliest settlers. The Scotts came into the township before 1800, and the Barclays about 1803. Henry Baker, born in Somerset county, settled in Jefferson township in 1813, on a farm of 160 acres. On this farm he built a grist mill, and for those days a large distillery, which he operated for many years. The mill is still in use. Baker whiskey acquitted a wide celebrity, and its name at least has never been permitted to die out. It must be said, however, that this is one of the very few (perhaps the only one) of the oldest distilleries that has never entirely gone out of business. Henry Baker also kept a good tavern, prospered, and grew rich.
About his mill and tavern grew up the straggling village of Bakersville, which has always been the business center and postoffice of the township. Not believing in race suicide, Henry Baker reared a family of fourteen children, and was gathered to his fathers in 1863.
In 1847, when the township was organized, there were 101 taxables. Much of the township is mountain land, and the township has not made the same rapid advance in population that other parts of the county have. There are a Lutheran and a German Baptist church in the township, and nine schools.
Much work was done in Jefferson township, on the South Penn railroad, and its abandonment was a great disappointment to its people. The township is rich in coal, and as the newly completed Pittsburg, Westmoreland & Somerset railroad passes through its northern part, it is only awaiting the magic touch of capital to become a scene of bustle and activity.
TURKEYFOOT TOWNSHIP (UPPER TURKEYFOOT).
Turkeyfoot township was formed by the Bedford County Court out of part of Brothers Valley township at its July sessions of 1773. Its original metes and bounds were described as follows: "Beginning where the Chestnut ridge (the Negro mountain) crosses the line dividing this province from Maryland, thence along the summit of the said Chestnut ridge to where it crosses the Great road (Forbes), leading from Bedford to Fort Pitt; thence along the said road to where it crosses the Quemahoning creek; thence down the said creek to its junction with Stony creek, to the mouth of Little Conemaugh; thence down Conemaugh to where the line dividing Bedford county from Westmoreland county crosses it; thence along said line to the provincial line; thence along the provincial line to the place of beginning."
This included all of the present townships of Addison, Middle Creek, Milford, Somerset, Black, Jefferson, Lincoln, Jenner, Conemaugh and nearly all of Quemahoning township, as well as the southwest corner of Cambria county. By the creation of these townships it was in time reduced to the present limits of Upper and Lower Turkeyfoot townships. The Castleman's river forms the southeastern boundary of Upper Turkeyfoot township, which extends in a southwest direction to the summit of Laurel Hill. The Laurel Hill creek flows through the middle of the township.
Among the early settlers in the township were John Cunningham, a native of Ireland; Frederick Weimer, John Weimer, Jacob Younkin, Frederick Younkin, Henry Whipkey and Henry Grove. Some of these were here as early as 1779. Peter Gary and James Knight settled here about 1800.
A number of these early settlers were Irish, and from this circumstance we have the name of Paddytown, which is more a locality than a village. A postoffice has been here since about 1820, but under the name of Turkeyfoot. John K. McMillen is said to have been the first postmaster. David King was the postmaster in 1832. The first and probably the only tanyard in the township was operated here by John K. McMillen about 1820. The first grist mill in the township is supposed to have been built by Matthew Pinkerton, but we have no date. About 1840 it became notorious as the haunt of a gang of counterfeiters, some of whom were brought to justice.
Among other incidents in the history of the township was the drowning of four men in the Castleman's river, near Fort Hill, some time about 1837. John Heinbaugh, Jacob Vought,
John Case, and two others named Baer and Lindeman were at a sale somewhere in the township. The men were all young, and remained at night to attend some gathering of the young people of the neighborhood. There was a deep snow on the ground, and the day being warm it melted very rapidly. The parties lived in Addison township, and had crossed the river in a canoe. When they came to the river on the following morning, on their return home, they found it a raging flood. Some of their friends at the river attempted to dissuade them from attempting to cross the river when the water was so high, but they were strong and fearless, and made the attempt in their boat. When they were about three- fourths on the way across the boat was caught in an eddy, and the five men were thrown into the water. All of them were drowned except Lindeman, who was fortunate enough to reach the shore. The bodies of the unfortunate young men were recovered miles below, and buried on the Addison side of the river.
In 1855 a young man named Levi Wilkins, living on the famous Fort Hill farm, while attempting to cross the river on horseback from the Turkeyfoot side, after night, was swept from his horse and drowned. The horse, whose bridle had caught on a bush about a mile further down, was found in a starting condition some days afterwards, and the body of his rider was found still further down. A year later a Mrs. Bird and two children were drowned near the same place. When found the unfortunate woman had her babe clasped to her breast in death's embrace.
Kingwood is a small village of perhaps a dozen houses, that up to the time of the completion of the railroad along the river was the business center of the township, and in a certain sense it is so yet. The first dwelling house was built by Alexander W. Walter, in 1854. Two years later he erected a store building, and in time the village grew up around it. A. J. Shultz opened the first blacksmith shop about 1868. Jacob Kregar succeeded Mr. Walter in the store. The village has been a post town for about fifty years, and has two churches.
The village of Markleton is a small village on the railroad, seven miles west of Rockwood. It probably derives its name from Markle pulp works, which was established near by tin 1880, and which promised to develop into a great industry, but was abandoned at the end of two years. This little village nestles between the hills in one of the most picturesque spots along the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. It owes its chief importance to a large sanitarium. This institution is probably the second largest building of any kind in Somerset county. It is thoroughly equipped for its intended purpose, and certainly is a place where the invalid and seeker after health may find rest and quiet. This sanitarium has from its first opening, in 1800, enjoyed a high degree of prosperity. There is an electric light plant attached. This, on the night of November 21, 1903, was destroyed by fire in which M. O'Brien, wife and child were burned to death.
Little has thus far been done toward development of coal lands of the township.
Casselman borough was laid out in 1869 by L. L. Wolfersberger and David J. Phillippi, who owned the site of the town. The town was platted on a large scale, there being 385 lots, besides twenty-eight large outlots between the railroad and the river, intended for manufacturing sites. A public sale of lots was held, and a considerable number were disposed of, but the town has been very slow in building up. The first house was built by Levi L. Wolfersberger in 1869. The first store was opened by John R. Weimer in the same year. The town is a point from which considerable lumber, railroad ties, bark and charcoal are shipped. The land about it is also underlaid with coal. A mine was opened four or five years ago, miner's houses were built, and it looked as though the town would at last take a start. But the work suddenly stopped. The present population is estimated at 200. Casselman was incorporated as a borough in 1891. Charles Barnes was the first burgess. His successors have been: H. H. Wilt, William D. Zufall, C. C. Wilmot, L. L. Weimer, Charles Barnes, J. C. Liphart, William D. Zufall.
LOWER TURKEYFOOT TOWNSHIP
When Turkeyfoot township was divided in 1848, the southern part took the name of Lower Turkeyfoot. It is the central part of what in the early history of the county was known as the Turkeyfoot region. Its early region has already been dealt with elsewhere. The township is separated from Addison township by the Castleman's river. The flourishing boroughs of Confluence and Ursina are within its limits. The other villages are Draketown, Harnedsville and the new town of Humbert.
Draketown is situated about two and a half miles north of Confluence, and grew up about a grist mill that Oliver Drake, a pioneer settler, had built on the waters of Drake's run, about the close of the Revolutionary war. This mill was rebuilt by his son, Jonathan Drake, in 1812. It was destroyed by fire a few years later, and rebuilt in 1819. From Drake the mill passed to Thomas Ream, who was killed by a falling tree. A fulling and carding mill was also built here by Jonathan Drake at a very early period. About 1815 it was operated by John McCartney. These were the first industrial establishments in the township. The only other one the village ever had was a tannery established in 1854 by Hendrickson and Welsh. The Jersey church, the first Baptist church west of the Allegheny mountains, is less the two miles west of the village.
Harnedsville, in the southern part of the township, was laid out by Samuel Harned about 1847. Its location is in a beautiful valley and near the point where the first Jersey settlers are supposed to have crossed the river as they entered what to them was "the promised land." The original plat of the town shows that fifty-three lots were laid out, of which about twenty-five up to the present time have been built on. The village nurseries, which lie just outside of the town, were first started Harrison H. Kemp in 1857. Under the management of his sons, who were brought up in the business from childhood, they have grown to be of considerable importance. Over sixty acres of land are set out and are stocked with upward of a million and half of all sort of trees.
At Kutztown, a small village near Ursina, the house of a man named Lytle was destroyed by fire March 20, 1902, and two children were burned to death. v The site of Ursina is a farm that was improved by Andrew Ream, one of the first Jersey settlers. Arrows and spearheads and other evidence of Indian occupation are found here to this day. There is also evidence that a stockade for defense against the Indians was built on this farm.
The town was laid out in 1868 by Hon. William J. Baer. The surveyor was R. J. Botzer, a civil engineer. Its name is a derivative of the word "bear" in Latin. The town is located in the narrow valley of the Laurel Hill creek, about two miles about its junction with Castleman's river. The town was platted on both sides of the stream, and on the original plat there are 1,464 lots and out-lots- enough for a fair-sized city. The town, however, never attained the size its projector had hoped for, thereafter the town grow quite rapidly.
The first house was built in 1868 by Ephraim S. Kregar as a hotel, known as the Sycamore House. The first store was also built and opened in 1868 by Isaac A. Jenkins. An extensive foundry was also built by Alexander Stutzman and Noah G. Keim, but was only operated a few years. A gristmill was built in 1871, and the same year a stave factory was put in operation by Norman B. Lichtiler; this was afterward converted into a keg or barrel factory. A railroad was built along the North Fork in 1872 for the purpose of reaching coal lands along that stream, but the enterprise was abandoned and the track torn up. It was rebuilt in 1902 and a second attempt is being made to develop this coal field, which lies partly in Upper and partly in Lower Turkeyfoot townships.
A two-story brick schoolhouse was built in 1872 at a cost of $7,000, which at that time was probably the best in the county. The place has a thriving Odd Fellows' lodge and a Grand Army post. There are also two churches and one hotel. The town in recent years has had a very slow growth; it present population is estimated at 450.
The present residence of Noah Scott, in the northern outskirts of the borough, was the scene of the famous battle between Major Alexander Hanna and five of the McClintock boys, which took place at a mustering in 1828. Major Hanna was a man of prodigious strength. His assailants, all powerful men, but knowing they could not cope with him single-handed, all attacked him at the same time. During the fight John McClintock cut Hanna across the abdomen with a knife. With his bowels protruding so that he had to hold them in with one hand, he still beat off his five assailants until rescued by his friends, and eventually recovered from his injuries. Some of the McClintocks were arrested and imprisoned, while others fled the country.
Ursina was incorporated as a borough in 1872. The first burgess elected was Abraham S. Levy. His successors have been A. S. Levy, M. L. Keim, W. H. Berger, William Shaw, S. Bockman, B. F. Boyd, A. Holliday (three terms), B. F. Boyd, J. B. Jennings, P. H. Sellers, William Shaw, J. B. Jennings, C. F. Robinson, Andrew Holliday, J. B. Jennings (two terms), M. Andrews, J. B. Jennings, G. W. Anderson, J. B. Jennings (two terms), M. King, J. M. Marshall, J. B. Levy, B. F. Firestone, H. B. Altfather, C. Cunningham.
This thriving town is located at the confluence or junction of the Laurel Hill creek and Castleman's river with the Youghiogheny river. It is the historic Turkeyfoot of the county's early history. That part of the townsite between the North Fork and the Castleman's river was the survey of James Spencer, one of the earliest settlers in the Turkeyfoot, who sold it to William Tissue about 1798. The smaller part of the town, between the Castleman's and Youghiogheny rivers, was the farm of Henry Abrahams, who so far as documentary goes to show was the first settler in this region, although James Spencer can at most be only a year or two later.
Washington visited this locality October 20, 1754, and remained here over night. In his diary he speaks of it as a suitable place for a fort. It is a well authenticated fact that it was also the site of an Indian village.
William Tissue, who owned the Spencer tract, platted the town of New Boston thereon in 1800. His charter to the prospective purchasers of lots, which is on record, indicates that he proposed selling the lots at public sale. A "Coal Bank" on the west side of the north fork was granted to the use of the inhabitants. The charter was not placed on record until 1815. It is not known that Tissue ever sold any lots, and it may be looked upon as being a paper town.
On 1869 A. Newton Tissue, the then owner, sold 103 acres to Peter Myers, from whom it passed to the Confluence Land Company, who laid out the town of Confluence in 1870. A large number of the lots were sold at public sale, others at private sale. Hon. William H. Koontz and Cyrus Meyers were the attorneys of the land company, and as such signed the deeds for all the lots sold, Mr. Koontz alone signing them after the death of Mr. Meyers. The first house in the new town was built by Andrew Bowlin. The first store was opened by Van Horn & Liston in 1870. A. G. Black established an extensive pottery in 1872. Another early industry was a tannery, operated by Joseph Cummins. The town had a healthy growth from the start, and soon became an important shipping point. It is also the northern terminus of the Oakland and Confluence railroad. It was incorporated as a borough in 1873.
The greatest industry that the town has ever had, and the one that has contributed most to its prosperity, is the tannery, established in 1894, by T. G. Beggs, of Woburn, Massachusetts (now of Confluence), and W. S. Cobb, of Malden, Massachusetts. The cost of this tannery and its equipment was $50,000. It has a daily output of four hundred cow hides, and gives employment to a large number of men.
A fine electric light plant, owned by the municipality, was completed July 29, 1904, and is in successful operation. The capacity is 1,200 incandescent lights, besides the arc lights needed for street lighting. The municipal officers who carried the installation of this plant to a successful conclusion were Earle Beggs, burgess; D. H. Brown, Elisha S. Bowlin, George E. Cunningham, William Heinbaugh, Thomas Flannigan, J. M. Dodds and Orville M. Fike, town council. In 1905 a good system of water works was installed by a private corporation. The town at present has twenty-nine stores and business houses, and four hotels. There are also three churches, a large five-room school house, and a public hall with a seating capacity of 600. The First National Bank of Confluence, of which George R. Scull is president, and D. L. Miller, cashier, was incorporated in 1900, with a capital of $25,000. It has loans of $125,000, and deposits of $120,000. The first burgess of Confluence was D. W. Patton, his successors have been: G. G. Groff, Daniel Mickey, two terms; J. E. McNut, Daniel Mickey, four terms; Simon Groff, two terms; A. R. Humbert, W. R. Mountain, A. R. Humbert, two terms; R. R. Sanner, J. A. Bradley, J. W. Brown, three terms; M. Henry, A.N. Atchell, Earl R. Beggs, Ross Bowman.
Addison township which was formed from a part of Turkeyfoot township in 1800, was the third township created after the organization of Somerset county. It is, however, the eighth township in point of age as the county is now constituted. It was named after Hon. Alexander Addison, the first judge of the courts of Somerset county.
Its northern boundary is the Castleman's river and the Black township line between the river and the summit of the Negro mountain. On its eastern side it is bounded by Elk Lick township, on the south by Mason and Dixon's line, while Youghiogheny river washes it western border. It is rich in the historic associations of the Turkeyfoot region, of which it is a part. Its northwestern corner is a part of the far-famed Turkeyfoot itself. The eastern side of the Great Crossing, of which mention is made in every history of our country that has ever been written, is in Addison township. George Washington passed through it in 1753, when on his mission to the French fort at Venango. In the following year, under his direction, the first road cut through any part of Somerset county was opened through the southwest part of the township. This road, which was the forerunner of the great National road or turnpike, was traversed by Gen. Braddock when on his ill-fated march to Fort Duquesne in 1755. Braddock's army encamped on the eastern or Addison side of the river. There is reason for believing that Braddock's preceding encampment was also in Addison township. The line of the province is not marked on Orme's map but the encampment is marked on the map so near where this line should be marked that it could easily have been on the Somerset side.
Along the two rivers and their tributaries were the hunting grounds of the Indians for ages before the coming of the white man; the evidences of the aboriginal occupation may be found to this day. After defeat of Braddock, during the remaining period of the French occupation war parties of French and Indians traversed the township on their way to Pennsylvania and Virginia. The entire region was embraced in the claims of the French. When French explorers discovered the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, in the name of the king of France they took possession of all the country bordering on the waters of their remotest tributaries, this necessarily included all of Somerset county west of the Allegheny mountain.
With the ending of the French occupation, one of the only two roads from the eastern part of the county to the Ohio river passed through Addison township. Of course, this highway, the Braddock road, was a military road, and under military control. While the country was not open to legal settlement, still it is known that some persons were permitted to settle along the road under that authority. This being so, there can be no reasonable doubt but that there were some such settlers in what is now Addison township. If there were any here, there can also be no doubt that they had to flee from the country during the time of Pontiac's war, but when that was over they must certainly have returned, or others taken their places.
Henry Abrahams, the first settler in the county, of whom there is any documentary evidence showing a time when he was already in the county, settled between the junction of the Youghiogheny and the Castleman's rivers, in Addison township in 1764 as a permanent settler. He is also one of the trespassing settlers mentioned in Capt. Steele's report, as is also Benjamin Pursley, who also appears to have settled in this township, and has given his name to a mountain stream tributary to White's creek. The man Sharpe, by whom Steele sent the proclamations to the Turkeyfoot settlers, also probably lived somewhere about the Great Crossing, where Steele found him. While this name can be connected with Addison township at a later period, no such name can be connected with any other part of the Turkeyfoot region.
Richard Hoagland lived on land tying on both sides of the Braddock road, and in 1772 had seventy-one acres of improved land, which of itself indicates a residence of some years, because the bringing of such an amount of land under cultivation could not at that time have been accomplished in much less than a half dozen years. Richard Hoagland was commissioned a justice of the peace in 1773, being the second one in what is now Somerset county. Thomas Green was also in the township as a settler in 1772. Jacob Rupel was in the township as early as 1774; Jacob Hartzell and James Mitchell in 1778; Jon Mitchell some years earlier. The Enlows were already settled here in 1768, being among the trespassing settlers. Enough has been said to justify the claim that the settlement of Addison township as we now know it began as early as that of any other township in the county.
Vachel White, who lived in the township many years, was in it in 1783, as a single freeman. It is not exactly known when John, Robert and Alexander McClintock, Joseph Ringer, James Campbell, John Liston, John McLean, Conrad Silbaugh, Peter Augustine, Sr., the Hilemans and Kamps, settled here, but they were all living in the township in 1795. Peter Augustine appears to have first settled in Brothers valley township, where he was living in 1782. His family in 1784 was composed of five persons. The first assessment of Addison township, in 1801, shows that there were 125 resident taxpayers.
About seven miles of the National road pass through the southwestern part of the township. It is safe to say that during the period of the best days of that great highway, there was more stir and bustle seen along these seven miles of road than over twice that distance on any other road in the county.
Petersburg was laid out in 1817, by Peter Augustine, but whether this was the older or the younger Peter Augustine the writer is not able to say. The place takes its name from the first name of the founder, with suffix "burg." The name of the post office is Addison, and away from the immediate vicinity of the pike the place has come to be more generally known by that name than by that of Petersburg. Henry Stuller built the first house on the Augustine lots about 1819. Gabriel Adams kept the first tavern in a house on the south side of the road, a short distance west of the toll gate. There is good authority for saying this, but if it is correct it must have been before 1816, as the name of Gabriel Abrahams is not found on the Addison township assessment list after that year. At a much later period William Reynolds did keep a tavern there in a large frame house that enjoyed a remarkable patronage. Thirty-six six-horse teams were seen in its yards on one occasion. The brick house known as the Central Hotel was built by Zel Hagans, who died very soon after moving into it. This was about 1831. Robert Hunter may be said to have been the first landlord who really opened this house, which, except for one or two short intervals has always been used as a hotel. One of the earlier lines of stages stopped at this house. Somewhat earlier, about 1820, Henry Wentling erected a large frame house (now used as a dwelling) on the north side of the street, which he occupied as a tavern until 1829. Among his successors in the tavern were John Rissler, James Connelly, Matthias Fry and Col. Samuel Elder. While on the subject of taverns, it may be said that Henry Myers kept a tavern in the township in 1803; Jacob Welsh a tavern and store from 1805 to 1810; Conrad Show, who was probably the father of Daniel Show, who built the Temple of Juno, also kept a tavern in 1805. In 1807 John J. Buch, and in 1809 John Liston and Peter Lenhart, kept taverns in the township, but we are not able to locate them. They all belong to the period before the turnpike.
Thomas J. and Nathan Cooper established a foundry in Petersburg in 1844, which was operated under various owners until 1882. Richard Brooke began operating a tannery in 1825. This in late years has been known as the Dean tannery. Another tannery was operated by A. Jeffries. Both, as we are informed, have been discontinued. A tanyard was operated in Addison township as early as 1800, by Frederick Diveley.
The first store in the village was probably kept by Andrew Mitchell and Henry Wentling. General Moses A. Ross commenced his mercantile life as a clerk in the store of John C. Darreil, of Somerfield. From this store he went into business on his own account at Selbysport, Md., but only for a short time. In 1829 he opened a store in Petersburg and conducted a successful business for more than sixty-five years. Thorough and methodical, with good judgment, and, with these, enjoying the confidence of the community to the fullest extent, he acquired a competency. But not all of General Ross' time was given to money making. In all matters relating to the public welfare he was ever ready to give his time and perform his part of the needed work. As a member of the first board of school directors of Addison township he was active in securing the acceptance of the common school law, and in all he served for thirty years in the office of school director. He was postmaster for fifteen years and for seventeen years acted as clerk of the township. Except perhaps the office of township supervisor, there was probably no official position in the township that he was not called upon to fill. Twice honored by the people of Somerset county as their representative in the general assembly; in his second term he served as chairman of the committee on education. General Ross closed his long and useful life in 1894, in his eighty-fourth year.
Among the institutions of Petersburg is an Odd Fellows' Lodge, and a division of the Sons of Temperance, which has held its charter for almost sixty years- the only one out of a half dozen or more in the county at one time that has continued to do so. The First National Bank of Addison was established in 1903. Its capital is $25,000, with deposits of $50,000, which is a very good showing considering the size of the place. William M. Watson is president. Within the last few years the town has awakened from the lethargy into which it had fallen after the decadence of the pike, and there are now eight or ten retail stores doing business. Dr. William F. Mitchell has been the only practicing physician in the town for many years. He is in all the lines of his ancestry a descendant of the oldest pioneer families of the Turkeyfoot region, and there is no one so well versed in the lore and legends of the Pike as he is.
Listonburg, on White's Creek, about two miles northeast of Petersburg, had its origin in a tannery that was put in operation by John Liston about 1790. There was also an oil mill connected with it which was destroyed by fire in 1834. It may be said of all these old oil mills (of which there were many at one time scattered over the county) that their output was linseed oil manufactured from flax seed that came from nearly every farm. A woolen mill in a stone building was operated as early as 1810 by Thomas Lingle. Thomas Liston built the present woolen mill in 1844. Later it was operated by his sons, Jesse and Jeremiah Liston. Including custom work, their mill manufactured about thirty thousand pounds of wool into goods of various kinds. For years the Liston brothers were the active business men of the neighborhood. They ran a store, a saw mill, a local coal mine, besides taking care of one of the largest farms in the township. The woolen mill was purchased in 1904 by Cook, Emert & Co., of Somerset. They have since enlarged it, adding ten thousand feet of floor space, and have also added much improved machinery. A grist mill was built here in 1864 by J. Gregg. The first blacksmith was Ephraim Stuck, who came in 1849.
Always something of a business place, Listonburg, during the past few years, has became of enough importance to have four retail stores. There has also been a postoffice there for a number of years. Listonburg was for half a century the residence of Alfred S. Mitchell, who died in 1901. Mr. Mitchell, a descendant of the old pioneers, was a noted surveyor. It is said that in his lifetime he surveyed every farm in his native township of Addison, which is really a very large one, besides thousands of others outside of it, and in hundreds of cases he was called on to give testimony in court on disputed lines. His work in his line was so accurate that it was seldom questioned. He also served his township for many years as a justice of the peace. As such he was one of a class that is rapidly disappearing.
The railroad of the Drony Lumber Company passes Listonburg and some distance further up Whites Creek is the small village of Unamis, which has grown up within the past three or four years. There is a postoffice store, as there is also at Strahn, near by.
Somerfield borough was laid out by Philip D. Smyth, in 1818, as the town of Smythfield. Its situation is where the National road crosses the Youghiogheny river. It was laid out on land warranted to Jacob Spears, April 17, 1769, fourteen days after the land office at Philadelphia was opened for the sale of lands west of the Allegheny mountains. There is a strong probability that Jacob Spears was the same Spears by whom Capt. Steele sent the proclamations to the trespassing Turkeyfoot settlers in 1768, and that he, himself, was one of the trespassers. Spears sold the land to Smyth in 1816. Smyth already kept a tavern somewhere in Addison township, and this probably was the place, although he also owned the Richard Hoagland lands, which were further away from the river. The famous stone bridge was completed July 4, 1818, when it was turned over to the government. The occasion was made a gala day such as had never seen before in these mountains. President Monroe, with several members of his cabinet and other officials, were present, and all the countryside turned out in honor of the occasion. The Endsley stone house, built in 1818 by Kinkaid, Beck and Evans, the bridge builders, was always a noted tavern. Its walls and foundations are as firm to-day as when first laid. Its first landlord was James Kinkaid, who was followed by John Campbell, Capt.Thomas Endsley, and others. Capt. Endsley taking it for the third time in 1847, since which time it has remained in the Endsley family.
There was an log tavern, built by John Campbell about 1823, and first occupied by him. In 1823, Kinkaid, the bridge builder, built a brick tavern on the south side of the street. That also became famous as a tavern. It was the relay house of the Good Intent Stage Company, the Endsley House being the same for the older Stockton lines. In the palmy days of the pike, Somerfield was essentially a stage town. At its taverns were kept the relay stations for the teams of the different stage companies, and their patronage was more largely from the traveling public than from what was known as the road traffic. Most of the drivers of the many stages also lived here, and the town, along with its neighbor, Petersburg, was the scene of more bustle and activity than any other town in the county.
We are not able to say just when the name of the town was changed from Smythfield to Somerfield, but it must have been before 1830. Dr. William Fry was then postmaster of Somerfield. He was probably the first physician who located there, living there to the end of his life. He is still remembered not only as an able medical advisor, but as a gentleman in all the rations of life. With the decay of the pike, the prosperity of the place vanished, and as the time passed, the town took on a dilapidated appearance. With the building of the Confluence and Oakland railroad, which passes through it, the business life of the place was quickened, and it entered on a new era of prosperity with a largely increased population. At this time there are five stores in the town. Somerfield was incorporated as a borough in 1893. John W. Endsley was the first burgess. His successors have been: J. B. Jordon, John Close, H. R. Watson, Robert C. Campbell, John Close.
According to Rev. John Heckwelder, the Moravian missionary, the name Quemahoning is derived from the Indian word "Cunni-Mahoni." "Cunni" meaning a pine grove, and "Mahoni," water from a lick-the two words taken together meaning water issuing from a lick.
Quemahoning township was formed out of a part of Brothers valley and Turkeyfoot township by the Bedford county court at it April session, 1775. Its lines ran as follows: "Beginning where the Great road which is laid out through the glades crosses the Allegheny mountains near Burd's gap, thence along said road to where it crosses the Laurel Hill at Mathias Ditche's Gap, thence along the Laurel Hill by the West Moreland county line to the head of Little Conemaugh, and from thence along the dividing ridge between the waters of the Susquehanna and Little Conemaugh to the Allegheny mountain and by the same mountain to the place of beginning." There must be some mistake in this description of the original boundaries of Quemahoning township. As it reads, it would be an impossible boundary, because the lead of the Little Conemaugh is in the Allegheny mountain, and cannot be reached from Laurel Hill except by crossing the county. It must mean the head of the streams flowing into it from the north which have their source in the ridge that separates them from the mountain streams that flow into the Susquehanna river. So understood, it would give the old Huntingdon county line as it existed when Somerset county was formed, and would include the region between the Glade road and that line, all of which belonged to Somerset county.
Quemahoning was the third township of the county in the order in which they were organized. Its northern boundary was what afterwards became the first Huntingdon county line, its southern boundary about where the Bedford and Mount Pleasant turnpikes now are. As new township were formed to the north of the old Glade road, it continued to grow smaller until about 1811, when it reached its present dimensions. Its surface is somewhat hilly.
As the Forbes road crosses the township, it was settled about as early as any other part of the county. Among the early settlers were the Stoys, Millers, Custers, Berkeys, Bowmans, Shaffers, Zimmermans and Kimmells. George Kimmell, who lived in the township as early as 1776, is dais to have built the first grist mill, one mile east of Stoyestown and probably long before 1800. This is at the place known for many years as Sprucetown, changed to Kantner, after the building of the railroad in 1880. Kimmell also built a fulling mill and a saw mill at the same place. There was also a tannery built there, probably by Kimmell also. In October, 1873, the mill and tannery were destroyed by fire. David Specht, who then owned the property, rebuilt the mill. On the night of December 11, 1893, the mill was again destroyed by fire, and with it a large general store, two warehouses and a large barn, a blacksmith shop, the post office and the large bridge across Stony creek. In short, the place was practically wiped out. Josiah Specht, the then owner, promptly rebuilt most of the property. The fulling mill has become a well-equipped woolen mill. Joseph H. Kantner operated it for many years, as did his father, John F. Kantner, before him. The property has been owned by William L. Rininger since 1884, who has greatly improved it. Kantner is a large shipping point on the railroad, and has always been something of a business place. The post office was established in 1892. William Suter was the first postmaster.
Landstreet is a mining town about three miles north of Hooversville, founded by the Stuart Coal company, about 1900. It is now owned by the Somerset Coal company, which employs fifty men in its mine. There is a post office and a population of about 100.
Blough, formerly Dull's Station, is a small village about two miles north of Hooversville. It has a post office, store, church, school, and population of about 75.
The Lincoln Oil and Gas company, of which Oliver P. Shaver was president, was formed in 1904 for the purpose of making a thorough search for oil and gas in Quemahoning and Lincoln townships. It was a local organization. In 1904 and 1905 three wells were drilled. The first well was drilled on the Daniel E. Long farm and was sunk to a depth of 3660 feet. No oil was found, but a flow of gas comes from the well that on a ten-minute test showed a pressure of 28 pounds. Mr. Shaver, the president of the company, estimates that the well could furnish about 150 dwellings with light and heat. Mr. Long has piped the gas into his residence and claims that there is no diminution in the flow of the gas.
The second well was drilled in Lincoln township, to a depth of about 2,700 feet; the third well was put down to about the same depth on the farm of Samuel Bowman, in Quemahoning township. No results were obtained from either well. In addition to these three wells at least six other wells have been sunk to a great depth in the southern and eastern part of Somerset county, in a vain search for oil and gas. This has been done at a cost of many thousands of dollars. While a slight show of oil was obtained at two of them, these tests should settle it that Somerset county is not on the oil belt.
Stoyestown is one of the oldest villages in the county. It was founded by Daniel Stoy, who is said to have owned a past of the land on which the town is laid out. The exact time when Stoy, had the town platted is not known, but it was probably not long after the laying out of the Pennsylvania or Great road, which passes through the town, This was in 1790.
The assessment for Quemahoning township for 1796 shows that 46 lots are owned by different persons. This proves that the lots had already been sold in 1796. The earliest deed on record for any lots was made in 1797, and is for three lots, Nos. 14, 3 and one number illegible, which Stoy sold to R. Hunter for six dollars. The place is spoken of as a settlement as early as 1798, and the most considerable one between Bedford and Greensburg. There was probably an earlier plat, but in 1803 Stoy had a plan made and recorded. There are forty-seven lots on it and the record contains a description of each lot, which is something unusual. Below lot No. 27 is a note that 26 and 27 are Clark's numbers, which indicates that the lower part of the town may have been platted by one of the Clark family. The plan also recites that the land on which the town was built was warranted to Philip German (probably Garman) in 1788, and it was sold to William Hunter in 1789, to Henry Bitel in 1799, and to Stoy in 1800. The survey is called Mayfield. The town is built on a hill.
Stoyestown is the center of a good agricultural region, and until the travel over the turnpike has been diverted to the railroads it was a thriving and bustling village. Local tradition says that the first sore was kept by Joseph Buck. If correct, it must have been very early. It is certain that General Alexander Ogle kept a store in the township in 1796, and it is also said that lived in Stoyestown before coming to Somerset. George Graham kept the first tavern in the town, but this could not have been earlier than 1799, as in the preceding year he was living in a cabin. Joseph Pisel, whose name is marked on Stoy's plan of 1803 as a lot owner, also kept a tavern in 1799, and probably in the town. It is not known when Stoyestown became a post office, but it must have been at a very early day. The first postmaster that we know of was John S. Statler, in 1817. John Kennedy is said to have carried the first mail into the town.
Stoyestown was incorporated as a borough March 29, 1819, but through some neglect its charter was forfeited. In 1838 it was again incorporated. Roger Marshall was the first burgess. In 1832 there were forty dwellings, four taverns and four stores. In 1839 there were ten stage drivers living in the town, which would make it seem that Stoyestown was a station for the stage companies. Stoyestown was visited by a disease - fire in 1879, which for a time threatened to destroy a large part of the town. Peter J. Cover's large general store, Odd Fellows' Hall and several other buildings were consumed.
While no coal mines are being operated very near to Stoyestown, nevertheless those that are being operated in Quemahoning township have quickened the business life of the town, and a spirit of improvement has arisen that promises well for the future. Within the last two years a public water supply has been provided by a chartered company, and the matter of sewerage is also receiving attention. Among the institutions of the town are a prosperous Odd Fellows lodge, a Grand Army post, and the First National Bank, which was organized in 1901, with a capital of $25,000. It deposits reach $125,000. Frank Taylor and John H. Bowman, its first president and cashier, are still at the head of it. There are also Reformed, Lutheran and Methodist churches. There are sixteen stores in the town, and its two hotels, the Hite and Custer, are both landmarks, and excelled by those of no other country town in the county.
While Stoyestown was incorporated in 1838, there is no record of it burgesses that goes any further back than 1853. Since that time they have been as follows: W. A. Garman, R. H. Patterson, David Clark, Adam Grimm, John F. Rainey, John H. Hite (two terms), Wesley M. Young, George Brubaker (two terms), John B. Kuhn- John F. Rainey (tie), J.W. Rainey, Fred Groff, George Brubaker, John H. Hite, John Cole-C.W. Pugh (tie), J.F. Rainey (two terms), Jacob Thompson, John H. Snyder (three terms), John Cole, Noah Bowman, John H. Hite, Benj. F. Bowman, Fred Grof, John H. Snyder, John C. Snyder (two terms), W. B. Tice, Adam Grimm, John H. Gardner (two terms), M. V. Sorber, J. H. Custer (two terms), C. W. Pugh (three terms), M. V. Sorber, Ed Smith, John B. Young, B.F. Bowman.
Hooversville is situated in the northern part of Quemahoning township, in the midst of a fertile agricultural country, and one that is also rich in coal and other minerals. The first settler of the land on which the town was afterwards laid out was Caspar Ripple, to whom the land was surveyed in 1794. John Clark built a grist mill here in 1843. The first house in the town was built in 1850 by George Lohr, who occupied it as a store and dwelling. Aaron Crissey started blacksmithing in 1855. The founder of the town was James Hoover, who platted the first lots, and the town takes its name from him. A postoffice was established in 1876, and George Hoover, who was a storekeeper, was the first postmaster. Up to 1881, when the railroad was completed, the town was only a quiet country village. After 1881 the town took on a more rapid growth. But it was not until after 1896, about which time outside capital began to take interest in the coal fields of the northern part of the county, that the town became of the importance that it now is. The town was incorporated as a borough in 1896, and A. B. Clark was the first burgess. His successors have been: A. B. Clark, S. V. Hanna, W. E. Rodgers, J. W. Nestor, Irwin Hoover.
Dr. John Howard was the first physician who located in the town.
The Somerset Coal Company has been operating a mine since 1902, right in the town, that employs 130 men and has daily output of 600 tons. The Knickerbocker Smokeless Coal Company has two mines near by, that employ 200 men and have a daily capacity of 900 tons. The Federal Coal Company also has two mines near the town that employ 150 men, with a daily output of 700 tons. In other industries the town has a flouring mill, saw mill, machine shop, two planning mills, paving and cement block works, two hotels, eight stores; also Lutheran, Reformed, Christian, German Baptist and United Brethren churches. There is also a prosperous Odd Fellow's Lodge. The First National Bank of Hooversville was organized in 1902, capital $25,000; deposits $125,000. The present population of the town is estimated at 1,200 as against 465 in 1900.
[Source: The History of Bedford and Somerset Counties by Blackburn and Welfley, published in 1906. Chapter 30. Transcribed and donated by Batha Karr <firstname.lastname@example.org>. ]
This county is part of the USGenWeb Project, a non-profit genealogical resource web system, and is maintained by April Phillips and Connie Burkett with help and information provided by other volunteers.
Last Revised: April 13, 2013