THIS township was formed from Southwest on the 8th day of September,
1843, and was named from Judge Eldred, a sketch of whose life is written
in this work. The credit of procuring the formation and organization of
the township belongs justly to Samuel W. B. Sanford, who drew up, circulated,
and pushed through the petition upon which the order of the court was based.
The township is situated in the western tier of townships of the county, and is
bounded as follows: North by Spring Creek, east by Pittsfield, Deerfield, and
Triumph, south by Southwest, and west by Crawford county. Eldred is quite
regular in outline, being nearly a square in form. The soil is generally a sandy
loam, and is well adapted for agriculture, particularly for grazing. No township
in Warren county is gifted so abundantly with perennial springs of water,
and it has been said on good authority that within a few years, when lumbering
has completely given place to farming, Eldred will be the principal dairying
township in this part of the State. Already many farms produce two tons
of hay per acre; spring wheat from ten to twenty-five bushels, and oats from
forty to eighty bushels to the acre.
Early Settlements.—Eldred, like all the townships in Northwestern Pennsylvania
which do not border on some important water way, was left uninhabited
by man many years after the river lands had become quite thickly populated.
Lumbering being the chief industry, kept the inland tracts untouched
until the forests along the rivers had been cleared away, and the enterprising
white man had to penetrate farther into the wilderness to continue his chosen
occupation. The first settler in the township of Eldred, as now limited, was
probably Lovell Greeley, an uncle of the illustrious Horace Greeley, who came
hither soon after the year 1830, and took up lands in the northwestern corner
of what is now the township. He remained here about ten years, and made a
considerable clearing. About 1840, after Mr. Greeley had removed from this
territory, his place was occupied by Elijah Leroy Williams, who remained on
the farm not less than twenty years and died there.
Between 1830 and 1838 only four new settlers arrived to cheer the lonely
heart of L. Greeley. About 1835 John R. Smith emigrated from New York
State hither, and engaged some seven or eight years in farming on a lot now
in the southwestern part of the township. At the end of this time he returned
to New York. Robert Robinson lived on the farm next north of that of Smith.
He had been a drinking man in New York city, and his son sent him out in the
wilderness to take him away from the allurements of the town and city. He
went back about 1842 or 1843, leaving no descendants in town. John Cullom
afterward purchased this farm of Robinson's grantee, and has now been a resident
upon it for more than thirty years. Ezra Trim came to the same farm
he now occupies, in 1837, from Olean, N. Y. He was taxed at first with only
twenty-five acres, but has by degrees increased his possessions. His brother
Simeon came at the same time, and until within ten years last past lived
near him. He now resides not far from Corry. Ezra Trim has gained his
competence by economy and industry. He is a good citizen and a conscientious
Samuel W. B. Sanford, one of the most prominent of Eldred's citizens,
and now about the oldest, came here from New York State in 1838. He has
always taken a most active interest in the affairs of the township, and is worthy
of the esteem with which he is universally regarded. We recommend our
readers to peruse the sketch of his life which appears in that of his son, J. G.
Sanford, in later pages of this book.
From the time of the arrival of the first four or five settlers, as already
named, to the time of the formation of the township, immigration poured a
full flood of good men into the tract embraced within the township limits, and
the forests began to fall visibly away beneath the strokes of the ax. The
names of the more prominent settlers mentioned in the first list of taxables in
1844, appear in the paragraphs immediately following, in the order in which
they are written in the list itself: John M. Carr lived on the farm originally
settled by John R. Smith. A short time previous to 1850, however, he removed
to a place about a mile north of it, where he remained until his death,
some ten years later. He was a blacksmith by trade, and was not inclined to
take a very active part in public affairs. He usually voted the Democratic
ticket. His son, James Carr, is now a resident of this township.
David Cutler settled the farm now occupied by James Carr, and continued
thereon until his death, about 1855. He has descendants in Eldred now. His
father, Sheldon Cutler, also lived for a time near his farm, but soon moved
From about 1840, or a little later, until May, 1876, when he died, Noah
Hand occupied a farm a few rods south of Ezra Trim's. He was an industrious
farmer and a very prominent man. He became wealthy, and in later
years engaged considerably in trading. For many years, also, he converted
his house into a tavern when the comfort or convenience of wayfarers demanded
it. His health became poor at last. He was an active man in township
affairs, and was devoted to the destiny and principles of the Republican
party. He was twice married and had but one child. His farm was first settled
by a man named Willis, who died early and was buried there, and was, indeed,
the first person buried in the township.
Leicester Kelley lived in the south part of the township, and engaged industriously
in farming until about 1864 or 1865, when he became inoculated
with the oil fever and sold out, removing with all his family.
Jeremiah Main lived rather to the east of the township center, and engaged
in farming. Although not a prominent man in political affairs, he was strongly
Democratic in sentiment. During the oil excitement of more than twenty
years ago he sold out and removed to the State of New York. A daughter,
Mrs. Levi Pierce, is still residing in Eldred.
Cyrus S. Oviatt, still residing here, lived in 1844 about one and one-half
miles north of his present farm. He has been twice married, and a number
of his twenty-four children are still in Eldred.
David H. Sanford, a brother of Samuel W. B. Sanford, came here at the
same time and settled southwest from his farm, on the same tract. After living
there about fifteen years, he removed to Erie, Pa., where he remained until
about 1874. He then returned to Eldred, and here died in the spring of
1876. Although he has no descendants in town, they are scattered through
About 1842 David White immigrated hither from the vicinity of Albany,
N. Y., and settled in the south part of the township, on the place now occupied
by Mr. Hatmaker. It is said that previous to the War of 1812 that farm
was occupied for a time by a man of the name of White, who went away during
the war because of fear of the Indians. The Jeremiah Main place was
also settled as early as 1806, for a very brief period, by Richard Cunningham,
who went away during the War of 1812. On this (Hatmaker) farm David
White died a number of years ago. He was quite prominent and took considerable
interest in township matters. He was a member of the old Whig
party. Two of his sons and two of his daughters now reside in this township,
named respectively Alonzo and John, and Mrs. George Chappie and Mrs. Mary
Charles M. Williams came here with the Sanford family in 1838, and settled
on the same tract. He died in about ten years.
Jacob Young came from New York State in 1838 and settled in the northeast
corner of the township, where he remained to the day of his death, ten or
eleven years ago. He was a good, quiet, industrious man, by occupation a
farmer and blacksmith. Three sons, Mansel, Joseph, and Wesley, now live in
Early Industries, etc.—The first mill in the township was built by David
White on his farm. Mr. White operated this mill for many years, until, in
spite of frequent repairs, it was worn out and went down. The first store was
kept by Stephen Mead on the David White farm, and was opened during the
oil excitement, about 1862. The first regular tavern was opened by Leicester
Kelley a few years before the war, and continued until about 1865.
The first postmaster was David Cutler, who was appointed some time previous
to 1850. The office, as now, was called Eagle. Cutler's successors have
been Benjamin F. Wallace, Alvin Way, Benjamin F. Wallace, and the present
incumbent, who was appointed under President Cleveland's administration.
About fifteen years ago the post-office called " Star " was established by the
appointment of John Main. In about five years Charles Carr followed him,
and the office was removed to Grand Valley. E. W. Thompson was then appointed,
and has been succeeded by F. A. Wood, and the present postmaster,
William Pierce, appointed by the present administration.
Grand Valley.—Not until after the construction of the Dunkirk, Allegheny
Valley and Pittsburgh Railroad some sixteen years ago, was there a suspicion
that the site of Grand Valley was so soon to be covered by a thriving and
promising village. During the earlier years of the township the ground was
owned and occupied by Stephen Mead, who succeeded David White, and who
kept the first store in the township. Enos W. Thompson—still a respected
resident of this town—at a later date, but still quite early in the history of the
township, owned the most of the village site, and engaged extensively and successfully
in farming. About 1864 or 1865 he purchased the store of Stephen
Mead and moved it to his place, where he kept it until about three years ago.
He then sold it to his sons, A. R. & A. L. Thompson, who still engage largely
in mercantile operations.
Another man, to whom is due much credit for his enterprise and public
spirit in building up this village, is L. B. Wood. Shortly after the railroad was
opened Mr. Wood started a store, which he still owns and conducts as a hardware
store. He also bought the mill of McIntyre, Merritt & Co., which was
built some sixteen years ago, and still operates it. Grand Valley now contains
not far from 200 population, more than half of the village being the direct fruit
of the oil excitement.
Among the saw-mills and other factories in the township may be mentioned
that of C. H. Whaley. He has a saw and shingle-mill about one mile
west of Grand Valley. Although he has made shingles for not less than
twenty years, he has owned the saw-mill but four years. George Whaley also
owns a shingle-mill about half a mile north of Grand Valley, which he built
some three years ago. A. M. Parker, in partnership with the Reno Oil Company,
owns and operates a saw-mill about one and a quarter miles north of
Grand Valley, which they built in the summer of 1886. The saw-mill of Rome
& Brother, in the northern part of the township, was built about four years
There are five stores in Grand Valley. The oldest, which has already been
mentioned, is that of A. R. Thompson & Brother. The store of J. P. Miracle
was first opened by L. B. Wood, who with his brother, F. A. Wood, kept it
for a number of years, and in April, 1886, sold to the present owner. L. B.
Wood & Brother are now in the oil-well supply and hardware trade, and have
invested in oil, gas, and lumber. They have a saw-mill at Newton, in Deerfield
township, besides the one in Eldred.
Since his appointment to the postmastership, in the spring of 1886, William
Pierce has kept a grocery connected with his office. The drug store of
G. W. Peck was established by him in Grand Valley, in the spring of 1886.
Previous to that time he had been one of the firm of G. W. Peck, Wood &
Co., which for about two years kept a store at Star Station. They were there
succeeded, when Mr. Peck came to Grand Valley, by Samuel Graham.
The first hotel at Grand Valley was built early in 1879, and opened in
April of that year by J. N. Gerow. It was burned on the 19th of September,
1883, and on the 20th of the following September, Mr. Gerow moved into his
present house. He now has room for many guests, and is well qualified both
by nature and training, to provide for the comfort of travelers. Previous to
his beginnings here in the hotel, he had for about twelve years been in the
employment of L. B. Wood & Co., in the lumber business.
Schools and Churches.—At the time of the formation of this township,
there were but thirteen votes in Eldred. Previous to 1843, a n d as early as
1836, however, a school was supported by subscription in a joint district of
Crawford and Warren counties. About 1840 a log school-house, the first in
Eldred, was built about a mile northeast of the present Sanford school-house,
and was very soon, within a year, followed by a school-house near the John R.
Smith farm. Upon the formation of the township in 1843, the schools were
no longer maintained by individual subscription, as theretofore, but were kept
up by the unseated land tax and State appropriation, and as other settlers
came in other schools were built. There are now eight good schools in Eldred.
The most active friend of the schools, for many years from the beginning, was
S. W. B. Sanford, to whom is due the organization of the township, any many
other acts of praiseworthy character. The present school-house at Grand
Valley was built in the fall of 1885, and has two well-conducted departments.
The present, and first principal, is Mr. McClellan. The attendance here is
nearly two hundred.
The first church edifice in Eldred was erected by the United Brethren
about i860, previous to which time services were held at irregular intervals in
school-houses and private houses. The first religious organization in Eldred
was of the Methodist denomination. Services were held by them as early as
1840. Samuel W. B. Sanford was one of the foremost Methodists in town.
These are the only denominations now in the township. It is stated on good
authority that soon the Methodist Church will erect an edifice at Grand Valley,
and that the preparations are already complete. The first Methodist preacher
in town, remembered by the inhabitants, was Rev. Rev. M. Hinebaugh, who
supplied this appointment from Youngsville in 1844.