Marion Township, Butler County, Pa

Transcribed from

History of Butler Co., PA
R. C. Brown Co., Publishers, 1895

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Marion township, named in honor of a Revolutionary hero, Gen. Francis MARION, though not one of the oldest settled divisions of this county, offered a home to the pioneers in 1800. Its width, east and west, is five and one-quarter miles, and length, five miles. Slippery Rock creek and its numerous feeders invaded this township ages ago, carved out water courses and converted the original table land into a broken country. From Murrinsville westward, the action of the waters is evidenced by remnants of the old rock, which lie like sentinels of the past in detached masses. Along the creeks the ferriferous limestone is exposed and, in many localities, this rock approaches the surface. The general outcrop, however, shows the Freeport sandstone in high places and the Homewood rock in the creek bottoms. Upper Kittanning coal is found in veins of from two to three feet in thickness, under the Freeport lower sandstone and shale on the summits. At Murrinsville it is a pure cannel coal, equally as good as that found near North Washington. Below it, about 170 feet, a Brookville coal of equal thickness exists. About 120 feet below the cannel, a ten feet bed of limestone, resting on forty feet of sandy shale, forms a cover for the Brookville coal. North of the site of McMURRY's old mill the lime rock may be seen in massive blocks, ten to twenty feet square and twelve to sixteen feet in height. Below it is a fifty-five feet bed of sandstone and shale, covering a three to five feet bed of Brookville coal of the same quality as was mined many years ago near the western line of Marion.

The oil sands of this section are rather shelly, as learned from the record of the EMERSON & BRONSON well, drilled in 1877, near McMURRY's mill, and from

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that of the Murrinsville wells of later days. Near the Catholic church is a fairly productive oil field, but, it may be said, that down to the spring of 1894, no thorough attempt had been made to develop this part of the Butler oil field. The elevation, at or near the crossing of the Murrinsville and Clintonville roads, is 1,400 feet; at Murrinsville, 1,440 feet; while a mile southwest of Murrinsville an elevation of 1,350 feet is found, and in the northwestern quarter of the township one of 1,450 feet.

The population in 1860 was 789; in 1870, 850; in 1880, 1, 086, and in 1890, 915. The assessed value on January 1, 1894, was $252,849, on which a county tax of $1,011.39 and a State tax of $38.40 were levied.

PIONEERS

In noticing the pioneers of this township, mention must be made of the quasi-trader, DANIELS, who located near what is now Anandale station about the time that STUDEBAKER and SNYDER built their cabin in Worth township. He cleared a little tract of land, know to-day as "DANIEL's garden," built his cabin and resided there until some drunken Indians warned him to leave. That he accepted the warning without conditions is a well-known fact, for within a few years the pioneers of what is now Venango township visited the spot and learned something of its original settler.

Samuel McMURRY is credited with being one of the first permanent settlers in the township. McMURRY, who was a native of Down county, Ireland, deserted from the British army and fled to the United States. Before sailing he married a girl named KELLY, and, it is said, that she placed him in a barrel and had him shipped as a part of her baggage. In 1798 this couple entered the wilderness of Slippery Rock, in this township, and selected a home near the creek, not far distant from "DANIEL's garden." There his faithful wife died in 1803 or 1804, and there, also, he found another comforter in Mrs. Isabella (MOORHEAD) HARTLEY, widow of James HARTLEY, who settled near Harrisville in 1796 and died in 1802.

John VINCENT, Sr., a native of Ireland, purchased a tract of 400 acres of land in what is now Marion township, in 1796, on which he settled in 1798, and where he died March 18, 1847. John VANDYKE came about the same time, and resided here till his death in 1850, in his eighty-eighth year.

John and Jane BLACK, both natives of Ireland, located near to McMURRY cabin in 1799. In 1825 he built a saw mill and later a grist mill on the middle branch of Slippery Rock, long known as BLACK's mills. He died here in 1832, leaving numerous descendants.

Robert WADDLE came from Westmoreland county in 1800, and took up 400 acres of land in this township. His sons were Thomas, James, Samuel, William, Robert and John, who assisted him in clearing and improving his homestead. Both he and his wife, Berthia ORBISON, died here. Robert SEATON, with his wife and three children, settled north of the creek, west of WADDLE's, in 1800, and founded the SEATON family of Butler county.

William, Robert and Samuel BLACK were here in 1803. Hugh GILMORE and Joseph BLAKENY, natives of Ireland, settled here about the same time. Robert COCHRAN, Sr., owned 150 acres of land and two cows that year. Alexander Gil-

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christ owned two cows; Robert READ carried on a tannery near the township line, and John WALSH had 400 acres of land. Joseph PORTER, who married Martha VANDYKE in 1817, located lands the same year on the south line of this township and made his home here. Alexander MORTLAND, a native of Ireland, came here from Juniata county, Pennsylvania, in 1806, and settled on and improved a tract of land near the site of Murrinsville. George RAY, Sr., who was born in Fairview township, Butler county, in 1802, came to Marion township in 1810, and made his home with his uncle, George WARD, at that period one of the largest land owners in the township.

Robert ATWELL, a native of Ireland, who settled in Scrubgrass township, Venango county, prior to 1800, moved into Marion township in 1816. He cleared and improved a farm on which he lived until his death in 1840. Jacob KELLERMAN brought his family from Huntington county in 1818, built a cabin in this township and resided here until his death in 1869. James DUGAN, who brought his family here from Down county, Ireland, in 1816, sought a home and found it here in 1820. William GILCHRIST and family arrived from Ireland in 1819, and located near Samuel McMURRY's cabin.

Others, pioneers of the county, moved into this township at an early day and shared, with the actual vanguard of the settlers the labor of developing this rich agricultural district. Among them may be mentioned James HARTLEY, Jr., born near Harrisville, in 1800; James McDERMOTT, born in Fairview township in 1804; William FARREN, born in this county in 1807, and one or more of the MURRINs, natives of the adjoining township of Venango.

PAST AND PRESENT INDUSTRIES

RAY's mill may be considered a Marion township industry. Built early in the century by General CAMPBELL of Revolutionary fame, it was the hope of the pioneers, and for years after it fell into the hands of the RAYs it was an important industry. McMURRY's grist mill and distillery were established as early as 1810; but his linseed oil mill and carding mill, farther south, in Cherry township, were not established until 1830. Robert SEATON erected a fulling mill in 1815, and subsequently a tannery, both of which he carried on almost down to the period of his death, in 1852.

The BLACK saw mill was erected near the meeting of the branches of the Slippery Rock, close to the south line of the township, in 1825. He later established a grist mill there, so that in addition to opening a farm, John BLACK gave to the young settlement two substantial industries, known as BLACK's mills, as testimonials to his quarter century's citizenship. William EVANS owned a saw mill and an iron furnace, which he carried on in connection with a general store, until 1856, when LIDDELL & KEPLER purchased his interests.

The Marion furnace was established in 1850 by James KERR and Robert BREADEN, who conducted it until 1862. Ore was found in abundance and the charcoal used in smelting was manufactured there.

SPROUL's steam grist mill at Anandale station, was built in 1878 by Hugh and E.G. SPROUL, and was operated under lease or share for a short term, when E.A. KING, now of Harrisville, leased the concern and operated it until 1880,

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meantime taking in the SPROUL Brothers. In 1883 he became superintendent for the owners. It is a well equipped roller-mill in every respect.

SCHOOLS AND JUSTICES

One of the first schools in the township was presided over by David C. CUNNINGHAM in the second decade of this century. He taught in the old log church of the Presbyterians, where West Unity United Presbyterian church now stands, for many winters. John WALSH taught at SEATON's fulling mill, Nancy BRECKENRIDGE "held school" in various places, and when Unity church was built, in 1825, Lydia WATERS is said to have taught school there. There are now six buildings devoted to instruction of children in the township. The number of male pupils enrolled in 1893 was 146 and female 115 - the total receipts for school purposes being $1,943.06.

The justices of the peace for Marion township elected from 1854 to 1894 are names as follows: John BLACK, 1854; Joseph CUMMINS, 1855 and 1860; William BLACK, 1859, 1869 and 1878; John KERR, 1864 and 1870; Dickson ATWELL, 1865; William CARSON, 1873; Thomas GILMORE, 1874; J.K. VINCENT, 1878; John MURRIN, 1883 and 1888; R.A. HARTLEY, 1883; C. McFADDEN, 1884; John McDOWELL, 1886; J.T. BLACK, 1887 and 1892; Newton MORTLAND, 1894.

VILLAGES

Murrinsville was surveyed in 1828 for 'Squire John MURRIN on the western slope of the Allegheny-Bevaer divide, at a point 1,440 feet above ocean level, near the eastern line of Marion township. On December 19, 1828, the owner advertised a sale of lots, which took place in January, 1829. The Catholic church, the pastor's residence, the McBRIDE and GORMLEY stores, the postoffice, two or three dwellings, a large farm house, and an old weather-beaten building constitute the present hamlet. The MURRIN settlement is in the valley east of the village, and around the village in this and Venango townships are the old homes of pioneer families. On the Marion side of the line is the large, well-stocked store of J.H. GORMLEY, and on the Venango side the old McBRIDE store.

Anandale Station, Boyers postoffice, was founded in August, 1873, under the name of Byerstown; but not until January, 1882, was a post-office established there, with W.G. SMITH, postmaster. Frederick BYERS and family came from Armstrong county in 1840, and purchased the William STOOPS property that year, the owner moving to Washington township. On this farm a hotel was erected in 1876 by a grandson of Frederick, and the true beginnings of the present little railroad town were made. Six years after, William MABOLD was the general merchant of the place and the second postmaster and express agent; A. McCANDLESS was also a merchant; SPROUL & KING operated the grist mill; Henry BALDWIN carried on a wagon and blacksmith shop; STEPHENS & TAFT were owners of the stave and heading mill, and R. BYERS carried on the hotel business. The trade revival of that year led to several building enterprises in 1882-83; but, during the ten succeeding years, little progress was made. In 1893, however, the new store buildings of L.J. SISNEY and H. HAMILTON were built.

At BAILEY's store, near Harrisville, Joseph BAILEY carries on a general merchandise business

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CHURCHES

The United Presbyterian Church of West Unity had its inception about 1807, when several Presbyterian ministers visited Butler county with the object of organizing churches, and, it is said, came into Marion township in 1809 to enter into friendly competition with the old Seceder church, near Harrisville. They were successful in gathering a membership, and erecting a log building in which to hold services. In 1825 the trustees agreed to erect a new house of worship, and that year, Orrin WATERS built a good house for the time and place, the fathers or grandfathers of five of the men named in the articles of incorporation, with Henry THOMPSON, being the prime movers in the enterprise. Rev. Cyrus RIGGS, who preached a gospel acceptable to members of the Presbyterian, Associate Reformed, Seceder and the Covenanter denominations, was then filling the pulpit and continued his services until 1829 or 1830. Then came Rev. Joseph JOHNSTON, an Irishman, to take charge of the Calvinistic churches of Bear Creek, Unity, North Washington and one or two others. Within four years he carried the larger part of the membership into the Associate Reformed church and in 1835 witnessed the transportation of the ATWELL Presbyterian society into the Unity Associate Reformed society - James BOVARD, James WADDLE and Hugh LEE being the elders. Two years later John McCUEN, David CHRISTY and Hugh LEE were elected trustees, and Rev. James GREEN called as pastor. James BLACK, Charles COCHRAN and Alexander BUCHANAN were installed elders in 1838. Under Rev. James GREEN and the trustees named the building of 1825 was made habitable for the worshipers, who had by that time cooled down and decided to remain members of the Associate Reformed congregation.

The church was incorporated February 8, 1886, with William H. ATWELL, S. J. BLACK, James DUGAN and Joshua BLACK, trustees. Among the petitioners were S.M. SEATON, R.G. ADAMS, S.F. MILFORD and Samuel LAUGHLIN. The pastors since Mr. GREEN's day are as follows: Revs. Robert W. OLIVER, 1842; J.K. RIDDLE, 1846; J.H. FIFE, 1848; (vacancy 1855-58); James A. CAMPBELL, 1858; W.A. BLACK, 1860; J.E. DODDS, 1874; (vacancy 1877-79) R.A. GILFILLAN, 1879; (vacancy 1882), and J.J. IMBRIE from 1882 up to the present. The membership in 1894 was 165. Mr. IMBRIE preaches also at the Scotch Hill and Ebenezer churches, in Mercer county, and is one of the most energetic and successful ministers in Butler county.

St. Alphonsus Catholic Church at Murrinsville, dates its foundation back to 1841. Fully forty-one years prior to that date a small congregation assembled at stated times at the Murrin homestead, east of the present village, to participate in the service of the mass, for, as in 1753, when the French soldiery and carpenters were here, so in 1800 missionary fathers visited the settlements in Butler county. About 1807 Father FERRY came to this neighborhood, and his successors in charge of St. Patrick's church, on Sugar creek, continued the good work until the stone church building was completed in 1841. Father John CODY baptized Sarah McNALLY at Murrinsville, August 13, 1839. Father Hugh P. GALLAGHER appears to have come here in 1842; Father Michael J. MITCHELL, in 1843; Father HOY in 1845; Father Michael CREADON, in 1848; Father MITCHELL, 1850; Father [p. 646] DOYLE, 1854; Father Thomas O'FARRELL attended from New Castle in 1855, and Father John C. FARREN in 1859. Father HUGHES came in November, 1859 and remained one year, when Father Thomas WALSH succeeded him. Early in 1863 Rev. J. C. BIGHAM, (now of St. Bridget's church, Pittsburgh), took charge and remained until the coming of Father KERR, in 1865. Father William A. NOLAN visited the church in July, 1866, then came Father C.V. NEESON, who remained until 1870, when Father HEANEY was appointed. He was succeeded the same year by Father James TAHANEY, and he by Father NEESON in 1872. From 1875 to 1880, Father James F. TOBIN was here. Rev. Hugh CONNERY came in 1880; Rev. Hugh K. BARR in 1881; Rev. Hugh HAGGERTY in 1882; Rev. F.B. BRADY in 1885; Rev. Thomas J. MORRIS in 1889, and Rev. William T. DWYER, the present pastor, in 1892.

The old members of the congregation are named as follows: Hugh MURRIN, Sr., John MURRIN, Sr., Joseph MURRIN, Sr., George, Philip, Hugh, (who donated 160 acres for church purposes), Peter, Hugh (3), William, John, Hugh K., James and Joseph MURRIN and their families; James GREEN, Peter McLAUGHLIN, Jacob and Hugh KELLERMAN, Zachariah FIELDING, Dudley, Patrick and Francis CARR, Michael, James and Edward HIGGINS, James, John, Joseph and Hugh McANALLEN, Patrick, John and Francis McNAMEE, Thomas, Hugh and William G. McLAUGHLIN, John PEOPLES, Thomas and Daniel McDERMOTT, James, Daniel, John and David KELLY, Michael KELLY, Sr., Bernard GARDNER, Thomas McGARVEY, William HOLLAND, Michael McCLAFFERTY, William FORQUER, Michael CONWAY, Neil GORMLEY, Michael, Patrick (merchant), and Patrick (farmer) McBRIDE, John KINNEHAN, Michael, Dennis and Charles LOGUE, James READ, Daniel McCAULEY, John McCULLOUGH and their families. The congregation now numbers forty families, though nearly double that number claim the mother church as theirs. In 1839 John MURRIN donated an acre for church and cemetery purposes, and, in 1841, the stone church was completed thereon. The roof and flooring of the old church were destroyed by fire, January 20, 1893; but the furniture and bell were saved. The work of restoration was at once entered upon, under the superintendence of the pastor, with John C. and C. G. MURRIN. A tower and belfry were added and, practically, a new church was completed.