Middlesex Township, Butler County, Pa

Transcribed from

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

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MIDDLESEX township was one of the four original townships into which Butler county was divided before its territory was separated from Allegheny county. With each ensuing subdivision of the county a reduction of its area took place, until, in 1854, it was established within its present boundaries. A narrow divide, between the Allegheny and Beaver valleys, is found in the southeast corner of the township, sending the waters of Glade run northwest and of Bull creek southeast. The green crinoidal limestone of Adams township holds a relative position here. North of the Allegheny line, a fair coal has been mined on the Mowry lands; while on the old Hays farm the Elk Lick coal has been found at a depth of seventy-five feet, and the Bakerstown coal at a depth of 189 feet. North of the closed Hays coal bank, the Gilliland bank was opened in a shallow bed of the Bakerstown variety. Where Bull creek enters Clinton township, the upper Freeport coal is exposed in the creek bottom, and again above the mouth of the East Branch of Glade run. In drilling the oil well on the Mahan farm, coal was found at the 200 feet, the 290 feet and the 640 feet levels; the first oil sand at 1,340 feet; a heavy gas flow at 1,732 feet; a ten barrel well at 1,745 feet, and blood-red slate from 1,880 to 1,930 feet.

The oil development, which is an extension of the Brownsdale and Glade Run fields, has been a great boon to the people of the township. The first well on the Nancy ADAMS farm, completed for George S. Stage, June 6, 1887, struck the Hundred-Foot sand at 1,356 feet, and penetrated it to a depth of 129 feet. This well flowed between 4,000 and 5,000 barrels of water a day. Between Glade Mills and Watters station there are many producers. The recent developments around Glade Mills and Cooperstown prove this to be a valuable addition to the oil fields of Butler county.

The population of the township in 1810 was 538; in 1820—1,010; in 1830—1,231; in 1840—1,692; in 1850-2,259; in 1860—after new townships were formed—1,034; in 1870—1,010; in 1880—1,101, and in 1890—1,078.

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Though the permanent settlements of this township do not date back quite so far as those of Adams and Worth townships, its explorers and settlers may justly claim pioneer honors. James HARBISON, James HALL, Abraham FRYER and William HULTZ camped here on the night of January 10, 1793, engraved their names on some forest trees next day and returned to their homes. Early in 1794 they revisited that camping place, selected lands, and built cabins. In 1795 the quartette came to permanently occupy the cabins of 1794. They found, however, that Thomas MARTIN, who came from Ireland prior to the Revolution, and who had taken an active part in the great struggle for liberty, had won from them the honors of being the pioneer; for they learned that he made some improvements in 1793, then fled to the block-house near the mouth of the Allegheny, but had resumed improving his clearing in 1795. He died in what is now Jefferson township. A contemporary pioneer was George HAYS, who began clearing what is now known as the Wendel HICKEY farm, where he resided until his death in 1837. James FULTON, a native of Ireland, made a reputation as a hunter here in 1793, and retained his home until his death in 1823. Silas MILLER, the school teacher of Cranberry, who died in 1831 from burns received while trying to save a building, was one of the scouts of 1792, and a well known hunter here from 1794 to the day of his death.

William THOMPSON was also one of the first settlers. His sons, John and William, were born in the township in the years 1795 and 1797, respectively. William MARTIN, who located here in 1796 with the object of gathering round him a colony of rent-paying crofters, should not be forgotten. He did not succeed in his object; but nevertheless went on building "land-jobbers cabins," and advertising the new land. Matthew WIGFIELD and his wife Mary Ann WILSON, a native of Ireland, located here in 1796 with their large family. He died in 1816, and his wife in 1855. John BROWN settled near Glade mills in 1796, and Thomas PARK, his wife and several children joined the settlement in 1798. He died in 1832.

John and Rebecca DAVID and family came here from Dauphin county about the same period. Their son Oliver was afterwards a leading merchant of Butler. Joseph FLICK, a native of Berks county, who died in 1809, was a settler of 1801. Thomas BAKER, a Nova Scotian, found his way to this fertile wilderness in 1798, and found that his namesake, the itinerant tailor, introduced the name two years before. Thomas DENNY, who died in 1821, built a log house for school purposes, in 1796, the same in which William POWELL taught the ensuing winter term. James MCCALLUM, the first merchant, came in 1798, and in 1799 opened a little store, which the settlers patronized in emergencies. Samuel RIPPEY was appointed justice of the peace by Governor MCKEAN, and was the pioneer law giver of the township. The LINNS, LISTS, LYONS, BOYDS, and others, forming a company of pioneers, may be said to have located here before the end of the century; while James MCBRIDE, the apothecary and bone-setter came in 1800.

Absalom MONKS came into the county in 1801, and the next year purchased a tract of land in this township, upon which he built a cabin and began clearing

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off the forest. Here he spent the remaining years of his life, and when he died left numerous descendants to perpetuate his name. The TRIMBLE settlement was made in 1807 by Thomas TRIMBLE, who came from Ireland in 1790 and died here in 1837. Samuel, his youngest son, died in 1855, aged fifty-eight years. John and James BARTLEY, father and son, left Ireland in 1800 with their families and found a home in Middlesex. James served in the War of 1812. John DAVIS settled here in 1812, and John CRINER, Phillip SNYDER and Samuel CROOKS about 1815.

ELECTION AND JUSTICES

The first election was held in the township October 25, 1805, the vote being as follows: Thomas MCKEAN twenty-seven, and Simon SNYDER fourteen for Governor; James O'HARA twenty-six, Samuel SMITH thirteen, and Nathaniel WEST two for Congress; S. EWALT twenty-seven and J. MARTIN thirteen for Senator; John MCBRIDE twenty-six, Jacob MECHLING thirteen, George ROBISON, thirteen, Jacob FERREE fifteen, James CAROTHERS twenty-six, Abner LAYCOCK twelve, and Francis MCLURE twelve for Assembly; W.B. YOUNG twelve, Abner COATS twelve, David SUTTON ten, William BROWN seven, and W. JOHNSTON none for county commissioner.

The justices of the peace for Middlesex township, from 1840 to 1894, are named as follows: James FULTON, 1840-45; Robert BROWN, 1840; William CUNNINGHAM, 1845-50-55 and '60; Johnson WHITE, 1850 and 1870; Samuel MCNEAL, 1855; George HAYS, 1860; Andrew BARCLAY, 1865; George W. HAYS, 1865; Robert TRIMBLE, 1869, 1879 and 1884; T.H. LYON, 1877; J.H. STARR, 1881; T. R. MCMILLEN, 1886 and '91; Samuel A. LESLIE, 1889 and '94.

SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES

The first school in this township was taught in 1796 by William POWELL, then over sixty of age, in a log-house erected on the farm of Thomas DENNY. The building was an extremely crude affair. The logs were unhewn, the floor constructed of rough pieces of timber, and the openings were plastered with mud. Mr. POWELL is said to have been a rather quaint and eccentric man, very dignified before his pupils, and making much mystery of the learning he possessed. Nevertheless many pleasant memories were retained of him by those who acquired the first rudiments of an English education under his instruction. In 1893 this township supported seven schools, the pupils numbering 133 males and 135 females. The total receipts for school purposes, including a state appropriation of $1,181.61, was $4,178.81.

The Middlesex Presbyterian Church dates its beginning to the fall of 1800, when Rev. Abraham BOYD, a Presbyterian minister, came into this township and for two years preached in the open air. Within a few months after his coming the church was organized, the first elders being Robert MCCANDLESS, Hugh GILLILAND and William JOHNSON. On June 17, 1802, Mr. BOYD was installed as pastor and continued to serve the congregation until 1817. In 1803 a log cabin was erected, north of Glade run, and used as a house of worship until 1817, when it was replaced by a hewn-log building. This was used until 1842, when the pres-

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ent brick edifice was erected on the site of the pioneer cabin. On September 28, 1820, Rev. Reid BRACKEN was installed as pastor, serving until April 1, 1834. Rev. J.W. JOHNSTON took charge October 12, 1836, and remained until April 3, 1839. He was followed by Rev. Thomas W. KERR, who built the brick residence above Glade MILLS, and who served the congregation from January 5, 1841, until his death, October 29, 1847. Next came Rev. Ephraim OGDEN, who was installed November 14, 1848, and who continued as pastor for nearly forty years. The present pastor, Rev. Willis S. MCNEES took charge December 16, 1890. The congregation numbers 148 members.

October 3, 1855, during Mr. OGDEN's pastorate, the church was incorporated, the following members being names as trustees: William THOMPSON, Alexander HUNTER, James WELSH, Dr. Jacob STEWART and William MARSHALL. The present trustees are W.T. MARTIN, W.C. ANDERSON, Harris PUFF, Samuel EKAS and Walter PHILLIPS. Among those who have served the church as elders since its organization, in addition to those already names, are the following: James and Williams CRITCHLOW, William JOHNSON, Jr. James PLUMMER, John LARRIMORE, John BROWN, John GILLILAND, Johnson WHITE, Thomas WELSh, Samuel WHITE, F. MCELWAIN, Robert PATTERSON, Joel KIRK, W.S. WIBLE, Phillip MILLER, Robert STEWART, William BROWN, Alexander DOUTHETT, Alexander HUNTER, M.B. ROWAN, Robert A. PATTERSON and James MARTIN. The present session comprises George K. GRAHAM, clerk, H. C. MILLER, and James D. ANDERSON.

Glade Run United Presbyterian Church was organized about 1812, and in the same year erected a log cabin for the purpose of worship. Before its dedication it was burned, but the little society, undaunted by this calamity, proceeded to build another on its ruins. This was completed in 1815. The ground owned by this church was acquired by a deed made by Stephen LOWREY, of Maryland, March 25, 1820, conveying to the Associate Church of Glade Run, two acres, being part of a tract conveyed by William GUYER to Robert MORRIS, and by the latter to LOWERY March 17, 1807. Prior to 1819, Revs. BRUCE, RAMSEY, and DUNN visited the settlement at intervals. In 1820, Rev. John FRANCE was installed pastor and preached to 100 members. Under him a log house, twenty by twenty-four feet, was built. The members of session comprised Andrew DUNCAN, John CRAWFORD, William CRISWELL, George WALLACE, David PARKS, Barnett GILLILAND, Joseph LOGAN, William DIXON, Samuel GALBREATH, John DONALDSON and Robert DUFF. Mr. FRANCE remained until 1841, marrying his first wife here and burying her in the first cemetery in 1831. For over twenty years he worked for an annual salary of $400, then moved to Ohio, where he died in the fifties, aged eighty years, leaving his second wife to survive him. Rev. W. DOUTHETT was pastor from 1849 to 1854; Rev. J.G. BARNES from 1862 to 1870; Rev. I.T. WRIGHT from 1872 to 1881, and Rev. R.E. LACKEY from 1884 to 1888. Rev. David T. MCCALMONT, the present pastor, came May 18, 1890. The present church building was erected in 1854, and the society incorporated September 25, 1860, with Edward SEFTON, George WALLACE, George GREER, John PARK and S.B. MCNEIL, trustees. The membership at present exceeds 150 and the church is in a flourishing condition.

The Belvidere Community of Practical Christians, of which William HICKS was leader, purchased what is known as the Westerman farm, in Clinton

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township in 1843. HICKS' religious philosophy was a taking and pleasing one, to all appearance, for many converts from other local churches flocked to his standard. When the people learned that HICKS' christianity did not provide for pleasure in the future life, the society was shattered and the lands reverted to Thomas WESTERMAN.

The Middlesex Methodist Episcopal Church may be said to be contemporary in its membership with the Presbyterian society of this township, though not organized until 1870. Seventy years prior to organization, the gospel was preached according to Wesley's ideas and meetings held in Matthew WIGFIELD's house, which many attended. Those meetings were ultimately resolved into an unorganized Union Church, which was acknowledged as such until the Methodists were strong enough to establish a church of their own. Wendel HICKEY, Absalom MONKS, Thomas STEWART, Thomas CHANTLER, Levi LEFEVRE, and Alexander LESLIE, were the local leaders in the movement, while Rev. C. DANKS was the zealous prompter of and actual leader in the organization. In 1872 a frame building was erected at a cost of about $1,200.

The Church of God, of which Rev. G.H. RICHEY is pastor, is one of the new divisions of modern christianity. The teaching of this new organization led the people to call its adherents Winnebrenarians, which title its followers repudiate.

CEMETERIES

In the old cemetery lot on which the Middlesex Presbyterian church building stands are many nameless graves. Some, marked by common sandstone monuments, are made impressive by their simplicity. The greater number of graves, however, are designated by old-time marble headstones, and many of them by modern marble monuments. Among the dead who inhabit this silent city the following may be mentioned: Robert LINN, Sr. 1816; Edward BYRNE, 1816; Benjamin LINN, 1817; John REESE, 1842; James BYRNE, 1826: James PLUMMER and Sarah DAVID, 1828; Fanny PARK, 1829; Sarah CAMPBELL, 1830; A. MCCASLIN and Margaret C. THOMPSON, 1830; Joseph WELSH and Jane LINN, 1831; John M. BROWN, 1833: Sarah LINN, 1833; Catherine HARPER, Jesse SUTTON and James CRITCHLOW, 1834; James BYRNE and Elizabeth FLICK, 1835; James CAMPBELL, 1836; James POTTS, 1837; Margaret CAMPBELL and Martha WHITE, 1838; David BURNS, 1839; Henry SEFTON, 1840; Margaret CAMPBELL, 1841; Absalom MONKS, 1842; James HARBISON, 1843; Elizabeth LYON, 1844; Mary NORTON, 1845; Thomas HARPER and Elizabeth DAVID, 1846; William KENNEDY, 1847; Hannah H. BROWN, 1848; Catherine BROWN, 1849; Sarah WELSH and Elizabeth MORRISON, 1850; George BOYD, 1851; John LYON, 1852; Elizabeth BOYD, John BROWN and Margaret CAMPBELL, 1853; Margaret REESE, Mary THOMPSON and Mary A. LUCE, 1858; James BROWN, 1859; Jane SEFTON and William HUNTER, 1861; Capt. Edwin LYON, 1862; Mary HARBISOn, 1865; Rachel BRITTANIN, 1866; Hannah POTTS, 1867; Mary BROWn, 1868; Ruth LYON and John DUNBAR, 1869; Ezekiel DAVID, 1871; and Jane DAVID, 1872.

The United Presbyterian Cemetery, below Cooperstown, was established about 1821. Within its inclosure rest many of the old settlers of the township,

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their children and grandchildren. From the headstones and monuments marking their grave the following names have been taken: Tomas DENNY, 1821; Anne, wife of Rev. John FRANCE, 1831; Elizabeth FLICK, 1835; Abram M. FLICK, 1836, Robert THOMPSON, Jr. 1843; Samuel TRIMBLE, 1855; Esther THOMPSON and William LIST, 1856; Mary LIST and Joseph FLICK, 1857; Robert LIST and Martha KENNEDY, 1860; Margaret EWING, 1862; Mary DENNY, 1863; Rebecca PARKS, 1864; Margaret DENNY and Sarah BOYCE, 1865 and Clotworthy KENNEDY, 1868.

VILLAGES AND INDUSTRIES

Glade MILLS is an old hamlet in the valley of Glade run, and derives its name from the grist mill built there early in the century by John WOODCOCK, who added to it a saw mill, and for years monopolized trade in the two departments. In 1824, when the pioneers began to abandon their log huts in favor of frame dwellings, the Woodcock saw mill did an immense business. After the original owner retired, many operators came on the scene. In 1877 William STARR and Julius BAKER purchased the property from William CAMPBELL. In 1879 Baker sold his interests to his partner, who carried on the mill and store until he sold to his sons, J.H. and J.W. STARR, the present owners. In 1878 steam power was introduced. It is still a buhr mill, with a capacity of 250 bushels of feed a day. The store opposite the mill has been carried on successfully by W. J. MARKS & Brother since 1883. The mill, MARKS' general store, a blacksmith shop and about a dozen dwellings constitute the village of 1894.

The oil development of 1893-94 made this part of the county one of the busiest in the oil region. Many good wells were brought in, and the excitement around Glade Mills and Cooperstown in the fall or 1894 was a reminder of the palmy oil days of the seventies.

Among the old industries of this locality was Oliver DAVID's tannery and distillery, in the vicinity of Middlesex Presbyterian church. Mr. DAVID afterward removed to Butler and carried on merchandising many years.

In 1822 James FULTON established a carding mill. He invented a special machine to be worked by horse-power. FULTON was also the coffin manufacturer of this locality, which, coupled with his new industry, made for him a competence.

The old HAYS mill, and the PARKS grist and saw mill, southwest of Copperstown, played an equally important part with the Glade mills in the development of the township.

Above Glade Mills, and not far from the toll-gate on the plank road, was CROOKS' tavern, where thirsty travelers found stimulants and refreshments from 1830 to 1861. True, the liquor, it is alleged, was not so fine as that sold in "The Sign of the Buck," at Butler, but teamsters and other wayfarers said it was good enough after creeping up the hill from the Glade run valley. William CROOKS purchased the place from Oliver DAVID, and had little trouble in maintaining the reputation of the old tavern.

Glade Mills Mutual Fire Insurance Company signed articles of association April 15, 1873, and a charter was granted June 21, that year. The petition was

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signed by Harvey OSBORNE, president; Jacob HUTCHMAN, secretary: William CAMPBELL, treasurer; Friend BUXTON, t. H. LYON, John D. HILL, John WAKEHAM, John RENNISON, John W. PARK, James ANDERSON, Joseph LOGAN and James MARTIN. John D. ANDERSON has served as president, Robert TRIMBLE as secretary, and W.J. BURTON as treasurer. The heaviest loss sustained was in the Callery fire of 1892, which reached the sum of about $7,000.

Cooperstown, about one half mile south of Glade Mills, on the plank road, was named in honor of George COOPER, who, in early days established a tavern there. In 1893 it was a quiet, but decidedly happy-looking village. Southeast about one and one-half miles is the old United Presbyterian church, known to old settlers as the Associate reformed Church of Glade Run. Located on the plateau, high above Glade run, it is an agreeable and healty center of population, and has always been one of the favorite stopping places on the Pittsburg and Butler road. The development of the Brownsdale oil field, which extended into Middlesex township in 1893-94, gave to Cooperstown a period of exceeding rapid growth. Building sprang up as if by magic, and the little place took all the activity of an old-time oil town. In August, 1894, it contained a store, hotel, blacksmith shop, shoemaker's shop and a physician's office. A month later it had a livery stable, two cigar and confectionery stores, two barber shops, one hardware store, two oil well supply stores, a grocery, six boarding houses and three billiard rooms. It is still growing rapidly and gives every promise of equaling in all the phases of excitement and experience of the notable oil towns of other years in the Butler field.