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Warren County, Pennsylvania, Genealogy


Early History of the Borough of Warren

Home > History > Early History of the Borough of Warren (Page 1)


Edited by J.S. Schenck, assisted by W.S. Rann; Syracuse, N.Y.; D Mason & Co., Publishers; 1887


Upon the old French and English colonial maps of this part of America,
made, of course, before the beginning of the Revolutionary War, a point
on the right bank of the Allegheny River, just below its junction with the Conewango,
is marked by a word variously written "Kanoagoa," "Canawagy," "Canawago,"
etc., meaning an Indian village, which it seems was chiefly occupied
by the Munsey tribe. It is our belief, however, that this Indian settlement
was located from one to two miles below the mouth of the Conewango. When
Colonel Brodhead led his troops into this region in 1779 and justly retaliated
upon Cornplanter (the leader of the Senecas at the Wyoming and Cherry Valley
massacres), by destroying his towns and cornfields, he reported that Canawago
"had been deserted about eighteen months past." Again, in 1785, when
General William Irvine explored a portion of the Allegheny valley in quest of
good lands to be donated to Revolutionary soldiers, he said: "From Brokenstraw
to Conewagoo is eight or nine miles, here [at Conewagoo] is a narrow
bottom, interspersed with good dry land and meadow ground all the way, and
there is a remarkable fine tract at the mouth of the Conewagoo, of a thousand
or more acres." Thus a distinction, clear and unmistakable, was made between
the Indian town of Conewagoo and the mouth of the Conewango.

Since the year 1795 the same place — at the junction of the Allegheny and
Conewango — has, upon the maps of the Commonwealth, been occupied by the
word Warren — the town of Warren. The location is picturesquely beautiful
at all seasons; hence for nearly a hundred years complimentary terms in its
praise have been uttered by stranger and resident alike. Nestling at the southern
foot of a high, precipitous, and wooded ridge — the former shore of the
ancient Allegheny, when it was a mighty stream — its residents are protected
almost wholly from the chilly northern and northwestern blasts of winter. The
Conewango forms its eastern boundary. In front the waters of the Allegheny
flow ceaselessly on, around a bend grand and symmetrical in its proportions.
Away beyond the river the hills of Pleasant township, which once formed the
southern shore of the old Allegheny, stand out in bold relief, while extended
views, up and down the stream, of successive ranges of high hills, fading gradually
away in the distance in a blue mist, completes a picture of rare loveliness.

In truth nature has done much, man but very little, in adding to or perpetuating
the beauties of Warren and its surroundings. The men to whom more
credit is due than all others in preserving for all time one natural feature, at
least, of which the eye never wearies, were General William Irvine and
Colonel Andrew Ellicott, the commissioners appointed by Governor Mifflin to
lay out the town. This they accomplished by simply running Water street parallel
with and next to the river bank, thus leaving an unobstructed view of river
and street for a distance of more than half a mile. Judging from the past,
however, residents have but little appreciation of the value and beauty of
their inheritance, this magnificent sweep, side by side, of river and avenue.
For scores of years—indeed since the first settlement of the town—this bank,
rising gradually from fifteen to twenty-five feet above the river's surface—has
been a common dumping-ground of all the filth and rubbish which usually
finds its way to such places, and each year mother earth, as if ashamed of the
desecration, of man's abominable practices, sends up a rank growth of wild
grasses, weeds, and briars to cover the forbidding spots.

In the future, doubtless, a transformation will be brought about by driving
a row of piles, extending from the outer face of the suspension bridge abutment
to a point on the bank some eight or ten rods below (thus doing away
with the dirty little eddy which, while it may have been of value in the past,
is now but a summer's nuisance, a depository along the shore of all the sewage,
garbage, and trash which comes within its influence), tearing out the unsightly
"lock-up," disposing in some way of the old Tanner building, filling up the
yawning chasm of filth there to be found, grading an easy slope from the
street level to the water's edge, sodding or seeding the same with blue grass,
and thence continuing the work of grading and sodding to the railroad bridge;
finishing by cutting down the telegraph poles, building a sidewalk, planting
shade trees, and placing park benches along the way. Few towns in America
are afforded such a grand opportunity as this for the construction of a magnificent
promenade. And when such an improvement is made it will add more
to the beauty of the town, to the pride of its inhabitants, to their health and
wealth, than the erection of five hundred buildings.

In a number of the preceding chapters of this work frequent mention of
Warren and its site has been made, during the period beginning with the
French occupation of this valley and extending down to the date of its survey
and settlement by the Americans. Hence, to avoid unnecessary repetition,
this sketch of the history of the town of Warren begins with the year 1795.
During that year, "in order to facilitate and promote the progress of settlements
within the Commonwealth, and to afford additional security to the frontiers
by the establishment of towns," an act was passed by the State Legislature,
April 18, providing for laying out towns at Presque Isle, at the mouth of French
Creek, at the mouth of Conewango Creek, and at Fort Le Boeuf.

Of the town to be laid out at the mouth of the Conewango, it was ordered
that the commissioners to be appointed by the governor "shall survey or cause
to be surveyed three hundred acres for town lots, and seven hundred acres of
land adjoining thereto for out lots, at the most eligible place within the tract
heretofore reserved [in 1789] for public use at the mouth of Conewango Creek;
and the lands so surveyed shall be respectively laid out and divided into town
lots and out lots, in such manner, and with such streets, lanes, alleys, and
reservations for public uses, as the said commissioners shall direct; but no town
lot shall contain more than one third of an acre, no out lot shall contain more
than five acres, nor shall the reservations for public uses exceed in the whole,
ten acres; and the town hereby directed to be laid out, shall be called ' Warren,'
and all the streets, lanes, and alleys thereof, and of the lots thereto adjoining,
shall be and remain common highways."

As if still doubtful of the friendship of the Indians occupying this part of the
country—owing, probably, to the hostile feeling displayed by Cornplanter and
his band during the previous year—the act further provided that the troops
stationed, or to be stationed, at Fort Le Boeuf should be used to protect and
assist the commissioners, surveyors, and others while engaged in executing the
provisions of the act. General William Irvine and Andrew Ellicott were the
commissioners appointed to lay out town plots at the four points indicated,
and it is believed, though we have seen no evidence of the fact, that their task
was completed in 1795. Be that as it may, however, the lots in the new towns
of Warren, Erie, Franklin, and Waterford were not offered for sale until August,
1796, when they were cried at auction at Carlisle, Pa.

The original lots of the town of Warren were five hundred and twenty-four
in number, each being 58 1/4 feet in width, street frontage, and 233 1/4 feet in
depth. Water, Market, and High streets are presumed to be 100 feet in width,
the others 60 feet. Six streets running nearly east and west, and ten nearly
north and south, all crossing at right angles, comprised the highways of the
original plot. After the county began to be settled John Andrews, one of the
first settlers of the county, was appointed State commissioner, to dispose of the
lots at public sale, and during the ten years succeeding 1797 sold all of them.
They were purchased by the farmer settlers of this county, Venango, Crawford,
and other counties, and some by Indians. The prices ranged from $2.50 to
$6 per lot. One-third of the purchase money was required to be paid at once,
the balance at the convenience of the purchaser—which with some, it seems,
was never convenient. Indeed, but few of the original purchasers ever
procured patents for their lots, but suffered them to be sold at county treasurer's
sale for taxes, and the purchasers at such sales, or their assignees, procured
patents. Hon. David Brown, the father of the present president-judge, was
the original purchaser of more than one hundred lots. Subsequently he transferred
them to other persons, and finally these went the way of a majority of the
others — were sold at treasurer's sale — and the titles passed to new owners.

Until about 1794 — 95, the site of the town was covered with a luxuriant
growth of white, black and red oak of large size. At that time a party of the
Holland Land Company's surveyors, under the orders and personal supervision
of Andrew Ellicott, the noted surveyor, and his son-in-law, Dr. Kennedy
(subsequently the builder and owner of Kennedy's mills), were encamped upon
the bank of the river near where the old Tanner storehouse now stands. One
night a terrific storm of rain, accompanied with thunder, lightning and wind of
irresistible force, came sweeping up the valley from the west and prostrated
every thing in its path from the western part of the town's site to Glade Run.
The inmates of the "camp," or shanty of poles and bark, fled for safety to the
small bar or island where Rathbun's grocery was for many years a landmark.
It was fortunate for them that they hesitated not upon the order of their going
for their shanty was blown down and two of their pack horses were killed by
the falling trees. A few years later a fire swept over this windfall, burning
the small brush and much of the fallen timber. The remainder furnished dry
firewood for the early inhabitants. Then sprung up the growth of scrub oaks
remembered by some persons still living.

About the year 1796, the surveyors employed by the Holland Land Company
erected a building of hewn timbers for the storage of their supplies—tools,
provisions, etc. This building, the first permanent structure reared on the
site of Warren, stood down on Water street in the near vicinity of Page's
blacksmith shop. For two years it had no floor other than the ground, no
chimney other than a hole in the center of a leaky roof. It has been related
that Daniel McQuay, then in the employment of the land company, occupied
this building as a dwelling house during the first or second year after its erection,
thus earning the distinction of being the first inhabitant of the town. He then
located on the Little Brokenstraw just above its mouth. He was the wit of
the valley. A genuine son of Erin, full of recklessness and adventure, fond
of fun, fight and whiskey, and the only man who ever made from two to ten
trips from the Brokenstraw to New Orleans on boats of lumber and traveled
back afoot. This was a perilous undertaking prior to 1810, which was
subsequent to the first trip or two made by him, for saying nothing of walking
nearly two thousand five hundred miles, the few towns along the Ohio and
Mississippi rivers were then but insignificant villages, and all else between
them tangled thickets, swamps and dense forests infested by Indians, wild
animals, and frequently by worse foes—white desperadoes and highwaymen.

When James Morrison, jr., accompanied by his brother-in-law,
Galen Murdock, arrived on the site of Warren in June, 1798, the only
evidences of civilization and improvement to be seen here were the Holland
Land Company's unoccupied storehouse, and a small abandoned improvement
near Reig's old tannery, made by George Slone, a blacksmith, afterwards a well
known resident of the Beech Woods settlement. Morrison and Murdock came
from Lycoming county, and accomplished the journey by pushing a canoe up
the Sinnemahoning and the Drift Wood Branch until the immense piles of
driftwood prevented their further progress by water. Leaving their canoe,
they packed their effects on their backs, and a little more than one day's walk
brought them to the waters of the Allegheny. There they felled a large pine
tree, made a commodious canoe, and continued their way to Warren. From
that time the place where they embarked on the Allegheny was known as
"Canoe Place," and many other early adventurers pursued the same route and
plan in journeying from the West Branch of the Susquehanna westward. In 1800
James Morrison, sr., a soldier of the Revolutionary War, his brother Jeremiah,
and several others of the Morrison and Murdock families, eight or ten men
in all, besides women and children, came on from Lycoming county over
the route previously described, and settled on the outlots below Warren. At
about that time, too, Martin Reese, sr., and family settled in the same locality.
In 1804 James Morrison (whether father or son is not known) built a house of
hewn timbers on the site of the pipe line office, below R. P. King's residence.
During the same year, however, a majority of that family—perhaps all of them—
removed to the Kinzua valley and located there permanently.

In the mean time Isaac Buckalew had squatted on the bottoms opposite
Warren, and for a number of years enjoyed the distinction of being the only
resident in Warren county on the east side of the river south of Kinzua.
Zachariah Eddy also tarried at Warren for a brief period as early as 1801, but
did not become a permanent resident until some twelve or fifteen years later.

John Gilson, who resided in Sheffield for many years and attained an age of
nearly ninety, stated, years before his death, that his father, John Gilson, sr.,
was a native of New England, either Massachusetts or Connecticut, but
before removing to Warren had resided for some years at a point on the
Delaware river in New York. Gilson's family, accompanied by two other
families, reached Warren in May, 1803, floating down from Olean on a raft.
John Gilson, jr., was the youngest of a family of eleven children, all of whom
lived to be seventy-five or more years of age. During the first year of their arrival
here (1803) his father built a house on the site of Ephraim Cowan's former
residence on Water street. This was the second building erected upon the
inlots of Warren, counting the Holland Land Company's storehouse as the
first. In 1804 James Morrison built his house, previously referred to, and
Gideon Gilson, son of John, sr., built a house on C. P. Henry's corner. These
three houses were built of pine timbers hewn square. Stephen Gilson, son of
Gideon, was born soon after their arrival here, and without doubt he was the
first white native of the town. John Gilson, sr., died in March, 1811, and was
buried in a small plot set apart for such purposes on the farm of Daniel Jackson.

Daniel Jackson, the pioneer, whose name has been written more frequently,
perhaps, in connection with the early history of Warren than that of any other
person, was a native of Connecticut, but came here from the vicinity of Ithaca,
N. Y., in the spring of 1797, and settled upon a tract of land (since known as
the Wetmore farm) bordering the run which still bears his name, and distant
about one mile north of the town of Warren. Here, about half a mile above
the mouth of the run, he built a saw-mill (and subsequently a small grist mill)
said to have been the first one erected in the county; at least there was but
one other to dispute for the priority, and that was the mill built by the Meads
on the Brokenstraw. Jackson's mill was completed about the year 1800, and,
it has been related, the sawing of the first board was thought to be an event of
sufficient importance to call for some unusual demonstration on the part of
those present. Accordingly it was placed on the ground, a bottle of whisky
brought out, and two individuals, after partaking of its contents sufficiently to
give elasticity to their limbs, went through the primitive performance of dancing
a jig. From this mill, it has been claimed, the first raft of pine lumber ever
known to descend the Allegheny from Warren county was safely landed
at Pittsburgh. Some aver that this event took place in the year 1799, others
in 1801. The raft contained thirty thousand feet and was guided by sitting poles
instead of oars.

In coming to this county Jackson traveled by the way of Buffalo and Erie
to Waterford ; thence with canoes down French creek and up the Allegheny
and Conewango to his place of settlement. His children were Daniel, jr.,
Ethan, David, Ebenezer and Sylvia, and another daughter who died when
quite young. Being so far away from marts of trade and neighbors, he and
his family for a few years suffered many and great privations. At one time
he was obliged to make a winter's journey on snow shoes to Waterford, a
distance of fifty miles, in quest of salt. Steep hillsides, deep ravines and roaring
torrents intervened, and over all were cast the shadows of a dense primeval
forest unbroken by a single improvement.

In 1805 he built the first frame house, and the fourth for dwelling purposes
in the town of Warren on the northeast corner of Water and Hickory streets,
the lot now occupied by the dilapidated brick block erected by Archibald Tanner
in 1849-50. He was licensed to keep an inn in this house by the courts of
Venango county in 1806, and continued to be so engaged for a number
of years. Lansing Wetmore, Esq., has said that when he first visited
Warren in 1815, "Esq. Jackson" kept a tavern at the place described, "and,
what was rare in those times, was a temperate landlord." He died on Sunday,
June 20, 1830, in the seventy-ninth year of his age, under circumstances peculiarly
distressing in their nature. In an obituary notice of his death, published
soon after in the Voice of the People, certain incidents connected with his life
and last illness are noted as follows:

"The deceased was a native of the State of Connecticut and at an early day
removed to this county and settled on the banks of the Conewango creek, in
the immediate neighborhood of this place. With its earliest history and the
settlement of the country he was thoroughly conversant, and with the narrative
precision of vigorous old age, could tell of 'times and things gone by.' In his
hunting excursions he had explored the forests that environ us, and learned
the windings of the several streams. Beneath his guidance the first raft of
lumber ever sawed in this county was molded into form and conveyed on the
bosom of the Allegheny to Pittsburgh.

"He was commissioned a justice of the peace under the administration of
Governor Snyder, and continued to discharge the duties of the station. It was
in the honorable discharge of his official duty as a magistrate that he was
assailed by Nehemiah Waters and inhumanly bitten in the thumb of his right
hand. So envenomed was the wound that his strength of body and constitution
(although superior to that of most men of his age) could not resist its influence,
and its baneful effects soon set at naught the sedulous attention and skill
of his medical assistance and took entire possession of his system. To the last
he retained the entire possession of his faculties, and bore the most agonizing
pain with a patience and resignation becoming the dignity of christianized
old age.

"As a magistrate, an honest zeal for justice characterized the performance
of his official duties. As a man and a neighbor he was hospitable, friendly,
and benevolent; honest and punctual in his dealings, and social in his intercourse
with his fellow-men. As a parent he was tender and affectionate. His eulogy
is that name which poetic language has inscribed upon the noblest work
of creation—'an honest man':
"By nature honest, by experience wise,
Healthy by temperance and by exercise,
His life though long, to sickness pass'd unknown,
His death was peaceful and without a groan."

In the winter of 1805-6 George W. Fenton, father of the late
Hon. Reuben E. Fenton
, of New York, taught the first school in a vacant room
of Daniel Jackson's new house. While here he became acquainted with
Miss Elsey Owen, of Carroll, to whom he was married in November following.
She was a niece of John King's wife.

The name of John King, a "single man," first appeared upon the rolls of
the county as a tax-payer in 1808. From that time until his death, which
occurred October 22, 1842, he continued to reside in the town of Warren, and
held several positions of honor and trust. He married Betsey, a daughter of
John Gilson, sr., August 15, 1811, who survived until October 23, 1873. The
children born to them were J. H. (now the oldest native of the borough, he
having been born May 20, 1812), Rufus P., George W., Mrs. Harmon, of Warren,
J. E. King, M. D., of Buffalo, Mrs. Eveline Mead, of Youngsville, and
Mrs. Betsey Hunter and Mrs. Malvina Cowan, of Warren.

Although the town had been made the county seat of Warren county in 1800,
it improved but slowly, and few, if any, families were added to its population,
other than those already mentioned, until after the close of the War of 1812-15.
During the next four years, however, many changes took place in the
appearance of the little town; and when the county was organized, in 1819,
such men as Archibald Tanner, Colonel Joseph Hackney, Lothrop S.
, Henry Dunn, Zachariah Eddy, Robert Arthur, James Arthur,
James Stewart, Ebenezer Jackson, son of Daniel, sr., Dr. Ayres, the son-in-law
of the latter, John Andrews, James Follett, Robert Falconer, William Pier,
besides a number of blacksmiths, cordwainers, and tailors, were counted as
additional residents.

Henry Dunn, who at an early day was connected with Hackney & Harriott
in their lumbering operations on the Conewango, came here from Meadville
and became a permanent resident about the year 1815. For a number of
years he kept tavern in a house said to have been erected by Martin Reese
about 1812. This building, of hewn timbers, stood upon the grounds now
occupied by the First National Bank. Dunn's Tavern was a popular resort,
and at one time he entertained as a guest the notorious Aaron Burr, who,
being storm-bound, was compelled to tarry here several days while en route
down the river to the home of Blennerhasset. Subsequently Dunn built quite
a pretentious hostelry on the northwest corner of Second and Liberty streets,
afterwards known as the Hackney House and the Russell House corner.

Robert Falconer was a native of Scotland. For some years prior to the
beginning of the War of 1812 he, in partnership with his bachelor brother
Patrick, had been engaged in the mercantile business in the city of New York,
having also a branch house at Charleston, S. C. When the war began,
, whose sympathies for Great Britain were very strong, determined to
remain in this "blarsted country" no longer, and, returning to Scotland,
continued there until his death. He never married. After the restoration of
peace, Robert, having disposed of his business affairs at New York and
Charleston, began to look about for a country home for the benefit of his wife, who
was in a declining state of health. He had been advised by physicians to find
some place where hills or mountains, pine forests, and clear running streams
abounded. In some way, probably through his Long Island friend, Abraham
D. Ditmars
, he heard of this then forlorn, out-of-the-way place, and concluded
to make a personal inspection of a region so highly extolled by land agents.
Accordingly, he first came here with Ditmars and his family in 1815. The
journey was a memorable one. Ditmars started with two good wagons, well
loaded, good teams, etc., and reached Chandler's Valley with one horse and
the fore wheels of one wagon only. The route followed led through New Jersey
to the crossing of the Delaware at Easton, thence to Bellefonte, and on
over the mountains to Holman's Ferry on the Allegheny, thence via Titusville
and Brokenstraw to Chandler's Valley. It required five weeks to accomplish
the journey, and when it was concluded Ditmar's effects, as well as some
members of his family, were scattered along the way from Bellefonte westward.
They were finally gathered up, after much trouble and expense. Falconer
came through with the advance-guard of the party, including Ditmars. Not-
withstanding the difficulties encountered in getting here, he seems to have been
favorably impressed with the appearance of things, and purchased quite largely
of lands in town and country. Man is a strange, perverse animal, to say the
least, and his freaks when migrating are quite aptly illustrated in Falconer's
case. It does not appear that he came here with any intention of becoming a
farmer, but merely to found a home in a retired, wholesome locality. Hence,
unless it was his wish to place a great distance between himself and his former
haunts, he could have gone up the Hudson River but a few miles, comparatively
speaking, and there found hills and mountains, umbrageous forests of
pine and hemlock, swiftly-flowing streams of pure, sparkling water; and a
region, too, where the health-destroying clouds do not bank upon the ground
in the valleys at nightfall, and remain until eight or nine o'clock each morning
for seven months in the year. The lands along the Hudson were then equally
as cheap as those in Warren county. To-day they are worth so much more,
with no oil or gas considered in the prospective, that a comparison would be,
in most cases, as one to one hundred.

Falconer returned to New York and completed his arrangements for a
removal to Warren; but his wife died ere the second trip was commenced,
hence he reappeared at Warren alone. He soon became one of its prominent
and highly-respected citizens; was elected a county commissioner in 1823, and
was numbered as one of the merchants of the town prior to 1830. In 1834 he
completed the stone building on High street, known during late years as the
"Tanner House," and, when the Lumbermen's Bank (of which he was president)
was organized during the same year, its office was established in that
structure. As shown elsewhere, the bank failed in 1838. Being severely and
probably unjustly censured by reason of this failure, Mr. Falconer never
regained his former exuberance of spirits and business activity, and finally sank
into a state of utter helplessness, physically speaking, which only ended with
his death. He married a second wife in this county, but left no children. The
present Falconers are descendants of Patrick, a son of Patrick the brother of
Robert, who, when the last war with England began, would not live longer in a
country where dukes and lords and kings and queens were spoken of irreverently,
and returned to Scotland. Robert Falconer purchased for this nephew
a fine farm, now occupied, in whole or in part, by the State Asylum at North Warren.

Colonel Joseph Hackney, a leading and highly-respected citizen among the
pioneers in both Crawford and Warren counties, was born at the "Little Falls,"
on the Mohawk River, N. Y., of Holland Dutch parentage, in 1763. The
opportunities afforded him of acquiring the most common rudiments of an education
were very meager indeed, and at the early age of seventeen years he entered
the American army and served during the remainder of the Revolutionary War.
Subsequently he served against the Western Indians, during the years 1785-90.
In 1790 he joined a detachment of troops at Pittsburgh which
proposed moving down the Ohio River to Fort Washington (now Cincinnati)
and there join General Harmer, who was then preparing for a campaign
against the northwestern tribes. At Pittsburgh supplies for the troops
were placed on board of "Durham" boats and started down the river, while
the main body of the armed force marched by land. Hackney went in one
of the boats commanded by Captain Doughty. At or near the mouth of the
Muskingum they were fired upon by a party of Indians lying in ambush on
shore. The steersman was mortally wounded and fell. Hackney sprang forward
to take his place, and ordered the men to pull for the opposite shore.
He had scarcely taken the oar in his hand when a rifle ball shattered his arm
above the elbow, rendering that member useless. He seized the oar with his
other hand and, amid the whistling of bullets, exhorted the men to pull for
life. Encouraged by his heroism they did pull, and as fast as one was shot
down another took his place, until they were out of reach of the enemy's balls..
Of the seven men in the boat five were killed or mortally wounded, and Hackney
and Captain Doughty were the only survivors of the party. Wounded and
disabled, Hackney was unable to join the main body of the army and participate
in the battle which followed and resulted in the disastrous defeat of
General Harmer's army of about fifteen hundred officers and men.

Returning to Pittsburgh, he soon after engaged in the mercantile business
with Oliver Ormsby, and remained there until 1794, when he removed to
Meadville. There he erected a small frame building (which is still standing)
in 1797, and kept store in it until his removal to Warren county. When
Crawford county was organized in 1800, with four other counties attached to
it, including Warren, he was one of the first county commissioners to be elected,
and served as such from 1800 to 1802, also from 1811 to 1814. In 1815 he,
in partnership with Major James Herriott, of Meadville, purchased the sawmill
on the Conewango near Irvineburg, which was in operation and owned by
Colt & Marlin (the Col. Ralph Marlin particularly mentioned during the sessions
of the first term of court held in Warren county) as early as 1808. In 1817
Colonel Hackney became a permanent resident in the town of Warren,
and in 1818-19 he, together with Jacob Harrington and James Cochran,
represented the district composed of Crawford, Erie, Mercer, Venango and
Warren counties in the State Legislature; thus being in a position to introduce
and advocate a bill providing for the organization of Warren county. When
this event took place he was one of the two associate judges first commissioned,
and served as such until his death, which occurred May 20, 1832. His title
of colonel seems to have been honorary, at least it does not appear that he
held that rank during his active service as a soldier.

Archibald Tanner, Warren's first merchant, and, we believe, its first postmaster,
was born in Litchfield county, Connecticut, February 3, 1786, and removed
with his father's family to New Connecticut, Trumbull county, Ohio, in 1802.
He came to Warren in 1816 and at once began a successful business
career here by occupying part of Daniel Jackson's bar-room and offering for
sale at retail a small stock of merchandise. Jackson's tavern, as before stated,
stood on the corner of Water and Hickory streets, now occupied by the Tanner
block. During that or the following year, Mr. Tanner built a small store on
the river bank nearly opposite the tavern mentioned, and occupied it for the
sale of his goods as soon as it was completed.

There is quite an interesting story connected with the history of this building
which has been related to us in substance about as follows: The ground
utilized by Mr. Tanner had not been laid out as a town lot or as a fractional
part of one, but was and is yet considered part of the public domain of 3,000
acres reserved in 1789, besides being the natural bank of a navigable stream.
Some years subsequent to the building of Tanner's store, a man named Hunter,
considering that he had as good a right to occupy the bank in question as
Tanner, proposed to erect a building just above Tanner's, or near the north
end of the present suspension bridge, and there collected a considerable quantity
of building material—timbers and lumber. Tanner objected to Hunter's
occupancy of the site selected, and a bitter personal quarrel followed. Finally
Hunter desisted from his purpose of building, but had Tanner indicted as a
trespasser upon the lands of the Commonwealth. But Tanner seemed to be a
man who could easily surmount difficulties, both great and small, and employing
counsel (Thomas Struthers, we believe); the latter proceeded to Harrisburg
and secured the passage of a legislative act by the provisions of which Tanner
was permitted to remain in peaceful possession of the building he had erected,
and to repair it from time to time when necessary, but was denied the privilege
of rebuilding. With the decay or destruction of the structure the occupancy
of its site for private purposes should cease. Need we add the building still
stands in a good state of preservation and is now known as the La Pierre
restaurant? Conflagrations have repeatedly swept away rows of buildings in front
and to the right of it, yet by reason of its somewhat isolated location it has
escaped them all. It has been carefully and systematically repaired at divers
times, from foundation walls to roof top, and to-day, probably, is much in the
same condition as the famous old United States frigate Constitution was
represented to be in when she went out of commission and was broken up—
containing not a single panel, plank, or timber of the original vessel.

It has been related of Mr. Tanner that in the spring of 1817 he descended
the Allegheny and Ohio rivers with a raft of pine boards, thence down the
Mississippi to New Orleans. After disposing of his lumber he proceeded to
New York in a sailing vessel, where he purchased a stock of merchandise,
transported the same overland to Olean and floated from that point down the
river to Warren in a boat built for the purpose. That stock of goods was the
beginning, the nucleus, of the handsome estate which a long life of industry,
perseverance and honorable dealing enabled him to accumulate. He served as
the first treasurer of the county, and also held the office of postmaster for years
prior to 1829. In building he had no equal in the early history of Warren.
The first steamboat to navigate the upper Allegheny was a monument to his
enterprise and public spirit. He was an early member of the Presbyterian
Church, and when the first church edifice of the society was erected he was
much the largest contributor. He died in Warren February 15, 1861, aged
seventy-five years.

Lothrop S. Parmlee, Archibald Tanner's competitor in the mercantile business
for about twenty years, located here permanently in 1817. He passed
some months at Warren as early as 1808. Subsequently he had resided at
Marietta, Ohio, and Jamestown, N. Y.; was engaged in merchandising at the
latter place just before removing to Warren. A native or former resident of
Oneida county, N. Y., he was gentlemanly in his manners, high spirited, impulsive
and loquacious. Both he and Mr. Tanner were enterprising, fairdealing
business men, and by their example and public spirit did much to mould
and shape and give character and stability to the early residents of the town.

In 1819 Ebenezer Jackson had nearly completed a building on the Carver
House corner. In it the first term of court was held, commencing Monday,
November 29 of that year, and here Jackson and his successors kept tavern for
many years. It finally became known as the Warren Hotel, but after the lapse
of thirty years from its completion gave place to the Carver House.

Among others who became residents during the years from 1819 to 1822
were William Arthur; Joseph Adams, a carpenter; Philo Brewer, cordwainer;
John Brown, prothonotary; Samuel Graham, tailor; John Hackney, tailor;
Daniel Houghwout, carpenter; Josiah Hall, a law student with
Abner Hazeltine
; David Jackson; Abner Hazeltine, attorney at law;
Abel Mansfield, carpenter; William Olney, carpenter; Joseph Hall, stone mason;
Asa Scott, blacksmith; Hezekiah Sawyer, carpenter; Samuel Saxton;
Lansing Wetmore; Johnson Wilson; A. Stebbins, shoemaker;
R. Chipman
, shoemaker; J. Dinnin, tailor; Adam Deitz, gunsmith;
Miner Curtis
, shoemaker.

At a later period, yet prior to 1830, some old numbers of the Warren
furnish valuable information concerning the town and its inhabitants.
Thus, early in the spring of 1826 Archibald Tanner informed the public
through the columns of the Gazette that he continued to keep on hand "an
extensive assortment of Dry Goods, Hardware, Queen's Ware, Glass Ware,
Men's and Women's Shoes, Straw Bonnets, &c. Spades, Shovels, Tongs, Tea
kettles, a few barrels of Dried Apples, Old Pittsburgh Whiskey, Tea, Chocolate,
Coffee, Pearlash, Pork, Cheese, Codfish, Lard, Flour, Salt, &c, all of which
will be sold as low for ready pay as can be purchased in the Western country."

At the time Tanner began his career as a merchant in Warren, flour was
worth $15 per barrel; salt, $2.75 per bushel; tobacco, 50 cents per pound;
bacon and pork, 25 cents per pound; tea, $3.00 per pound ; black cambric 50
cents per yard; cotton sheeting, unbleached, 62 cents per yard; India sheeting,
70 cents per yard; coffee, 37 1/2 cents per pound; whisky, $1.75 per gallon;
ginger, $1.00 per pound; pepper, 62 cents per pound; allspice, 62 cents per

On the 6th of May, 1826, the Gazette announced "the arrival in this port,
on Tuesday last, of the Transport, 12 tons burthen, D. Jackson of this place
master, in 13 days from Pittsburgh, laden with flour, whisky, iron, nails, glass,
&c, for A. Tanner and others;" also on the same day two other keel boats
with two passengers and more whisky from Freeport.

On the 27th of the same month and year, the editor said: "On Wednesday
last the citizens of our village [he was more modest than present ones, who
term a small borough a city] for the first time were cheered by the arrival in
it of a four-horse stage. It will be seen by the advertisement of Edson & Eaton
[Obed Edson and Harry Eaton] that they have commenced running their
line of stages regularly between Dunkirk (on Lake Erie) and this place. This
speaks much in favor of the population and improvement of our country." He
further remarked that if any one had talked in favor of such an enterprise five
years previously he would have been regarded as "visionary and chimerical."
Under the management as then announced, stages were run twice a week
between Dunkirk and Jamestown, and once a week between Dunkirk and

A few weeks later Uriah Hawks made his bow to the public, and informed
the readers of the Gazette that he had " opened a shop on Water street, east
of Jackson's Hotel, where he has on hand and will continue to keep spinning
wheels of all kinds, made of the best stuff, which he will sell cheap for cash or
country produce."

During the latter part of May, 1827, Joseph Hackney advertised that he
had " taken the commodious stand in the town of Warren known as the 'Mansion
House,' lately occupied by William Pierpont, and has supplied himself
with a stock of liquors and other accommodations suitable for travellers, and
all those who please to honor him with their custom."

In 1828 Orris Hall gave notice "that he has just received from New York
and offers for sale in this village, as cheap for cash as can be purchased in the
Western country, a general assortment of Foreign and Domestic goods," etc.,
etc." Also Liquors, Loaf and Brown Sugar." L. S. Parmlee likewise announced
for sale in the same number "an elegant assortment of Dry Goods, as cheap as
the cheapest."

There was also noted in the columns of the Gazette, in the summer of
1828, the arrival "from Europe of eighty German and French emigrants,
who have pitched their tents at the mouth of the Conewango, where they are
visited by the citizens of the village old and young, and while looking at their
quaint dress and wooden shoes, they can but gaze and wonder." During the
same year, too, Thomas Struthers and Samuel A. Purviance, attorneys at law,
became residents of the town.

On the 22d of January, 1829, in a description of the town, furnished at the
solicitation of the publishers of the United States Gazette, the editor of the
Warren Gazette said: "The only public buildings we can boast of is a brick
court-house and public offices of stone, fire-proof. The court-house is not
large, but neat and convenient, substantially built and well finished, with a
well-toned bell in it weighing with the yoke 362 pounds. We have a jail, also,
although it has once or twice been mistaken for a turkey pen. Our village
contains fifty dwelling houses, mostly frame, two stories high, painted white,
and tenanted. Five stores (well filled), three taverns, two tanneries, two blacksmith
shops, five shoemakers, one saddler and harness maker, two chair makers,
one wheel wright, one cabinet maker, two carpenters and joiners, one hatter,
one wagon maker, six lawyers, two doctors, one baker, two masons,
six freemasons, two saw mills, and a grist mill."

The chief event of this year (1829) was the celebration of the 4th of July.
It had been decided to assemble at "one of the Sisters," a small romantic island
in the Allegheny River, about one mile and a half above the village. Accordingly
about half-past one p. m. the party embarked on the Warren Packet.
A small band struck up Hail Columbia and the boat moved off. But the voyage
up the river suddenly terminated at the "ripples," where the craft stuck
fast in the gravel, and the passengers, instead of going up, were only too glad
to come down again; the men of the party being compelled to get out into
shallow water and shove the boat off. This done they floated down with the
current, and landed at the point formed by the confluence of the Allegheny
and Conewango rivers. Here in a beautiful grove "tables were erected and
covered with the choicest provisions. After the repast the tables were cleared
and the company again took seats, his Honor Judge Hackney, being appointed
president, and Thomas Struthers, esq., vice president. Then followed volunteer
toasts by Hon. Joseph Hackney, A. Tanner, esq., Thomas Struthers, esq.,
W. L. Adams, M. Gallagher, esq., Parker C. Purviance, William P. McDowell,
Jefferson Smith, J. H. Shannon, and S. S. Barnes, which were respectively
drank amid much good humor. In the evening the party re-embarked on
board the boat, and, as the band played several national airs, slowly moved into
the current towards the village. . . . On landing a procession was formed,
and to an appropriate air struck up by the band it proceeded to Mechanics Hall,
from which place the company retired to their homes at an early hour, all well
pleased with the amusements of the day."

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Pages 324-337


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