History of Jay Township – Elk County
Excerpted from History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania. Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890 – Chapter XIII
Jay Township lies east of the Boon mountain divide, with the exception of a small tract in the extreme northwest corner. Bennett’s branch enters the township near the southwest corner, receiving Cherry run, Kersey run, Spring creek and Trout run (flowing southeast) and Laurel run (flowing northwest). The first-named creeks have their heads up in the Boon mountain divide, and flow down with mountain sprightliness to join Bennett’s branch. What services those streams rendered to the lumbermen of early days may be learned when it is stated that all the square pine timber and spars were floated down such streams to the branch and thence to the Susquehanna via Driftwood and Sinnemahoning. In the pioneer history it is also recorded that one of the first bridal parties canoed down the branch thirty-five miles in one day, or half the time occupied in poling up the same distance.
The highest measured elevation is 2,265 feet above tide on the Centreville and Caledonia road, just east of Auman’s house. The lowest point is near Rockville, 1,110 feet, where the branch leaves the township. Almost anywhere the landscape is picturesque, but particularly so on the road from Horse-shoe Bend southeast to Union church, or Goff’s farm, and thence to Benezette village. The formation of strata is almost identical with that credited to Benezette township.
In 1871 A. E. Goff opened a bed of Clarion coal, which, in later years, is known as Goff’s big-vein opening. A number of years ago, said to be in 1843, coal was mined here by the Warners, the vein being sixty inches in depth. Reuben Winslow opened a bed northeast of Goff’s in 1874; another was opened near V. Dennison’s house, some distance from Dill’s saw-mill. Early in the “forties” John S. Brockway mined near the Spangler dwelling on the head of Spring creek, and during the “seventies” from 1,000 to 1,500 bushels per annum were shipped. The Turley mine in the neighborhood of the old log house (John Thomas’) was an old producer. In 1876 the Burke, Cummins and Bateman mines were opened in this township.
The resident tax-payers of Jay township in 1844 were Consider, James, Hannah, Vine S., Alonzo, John S. and Martin Brockway, Sam Bell, Charles Brookins, Elijah Bandy, Edwin Carnes, Charles Caldwell, Rensselaer and Schuyler Crandall, Henry Clinton, Starr Dennison, Sr., and son, Vine Dennison (sawmill), Daniel Dennison, P. F. Dering & Co., Henry Dering, Al. Farley, George English, John, Shadrach, Oliver, Jr., George W. and Elisha P. Gardner, Edwin P. and Potter Goff, Palmer and Ray Giles, Dick Gates. Ira Green, Zaccheus Huycks, James B. Hutchison & Co. saw-mill, William Hicks, George Huller, Eusebius, Noah and Almerin Kincaid, C. F. Luce, Thomas, Ellis and G. W. Lewis. Benjamin, Eli and Charles Leggett, Erasmus, Ameneda, Selah and Leonard* Morey. Dennis Moore*, Smith, John and Charles Mead, Sam Mosier, Martin Maynard, Ezekiel McClellan, Comfort Nicholls, John McCracken. Michael Noel, Sam Overturf, B. B. Petriken*, Alfred Pearsall, Zopher Pascoe, Sam Paulley, Sol. Riggs, William and Lyman Robinson, Clarissa Rowland, Ebenezer Stevens, John Smith, Chester Thayer, John Turley, Adam and David Wheeler, Dr. Irwin H. Strong. Joel Woodworth, Patrick Whalen, Reuben. Carpenter, E. C. and Charles Winslow, B. C. Winslow (owner of grist and saw-mill), Hezekiah Warner*, Jonathan Warner, A. B. Weed (owner of sawmill. grist-mill and tannery), Peter F. and Frederick Weed and William Weaver. The unseated lands were owned by numerous persons.
O. Shipman & Co. and J. Z. Lindenmuth were merchants in 1850, and J. Parkhurst, hotel keeper. Dr. Earley was physician at Kersey.
The Cherry & Trout Grove Oil & Mining Company was incorporated in 1864, for the purpose of developing mineral lands in Jay Township and other places. Long, Whitham, Price, Wright, Pollock and Grant, were also members of this company. The Spring Run Oil & Lumber Company was incorporated in March, 1865 with Dr. Newberry, W. T. Martin, L. I. Crans, Amandus Beck and Charles Webb, directors, for the purpose of mining for oil and coal in Jay township. The hemlock is now being stripped by the company. The Benezette Oil & Coal Company was organized in March, 1865, for the development of mineral lands in Jay township; William H. Martin, Dr. Hickman, E. J. Graham, A. E. Smith and Joseph Rex were members.
In 1850 there were 50 dwellings, 51 families, 327 persons, 44 farms and 7 manufacturing industries. The population in 1880 was 600, including 70 inhabitants in the village of Caledonia. In 1888 there were 101 Republican votes cast, 67 Democratic and one Prohibitionist, representing 845 inhabitants.
The elections for Jay township were held February 27, 1844. Selah Morey and E. C. Winslow were chosen justices; Charles Mead and Leonard Morey, supervisors; I. D. Pascoe, constable; John Gardner, assessor; Reuben Winslow, Vine S. Brockway, Selah Morey, Adam Wheeler, E. Kincaid arid C. B. Gardner, school directors; Potter Goff, clerk; Reuben Winslow and A. B. Weed, poor overseers; C. F. Luce, D. C. Moore and K C. Winslow, auditors; A. B. Weed, judge, with V. S. Brockway and Ray Guile, inspectors of elections; Jacob Ovel and John P. McCracken, fence viewers. 0. F. Luce was chosen justice in 1846; B. A. Weed, in 1849. The officers chosen in February, 1890, are George Scull, justice; Thomas Dornan and Thomas Frazier, supervisors; William Webb, treasurer; J. B. Miller, school director; W. P. Layberger, auditor; C. J. Dill, overseer of poor; J. Weed, clerk, and Eph Hewitt, collector.
The Caledonia settlement dates back to 1815. A man named Boyd, of Schoharie county, N. Y., owned a large area in that vicinity. This he offered to trade for farms in Schoharie and Montgomery counties, N. Y., and among the families who moved hither were the Brockways, Warners, Wilsons, Huycks, Elder Nicholls (and his son-in-law Vial), and Hortons. In 1827 a road was cut from this point to Ridgway, but in 1819 one was opened from Bellefonte to Meadville, running from ten to fifteen miles south of the Kersey and Caledonia settlements. The village plat was made early in the “forties,” and when the county was established the first courts were held there in the old seminary, a portion of which is still standing.
The Caledonia Bridge Company was incorporated March 8, 1848, and Ignatius Garner, George Weis, Gerhard Schoening, Joseph Ganser, Adam Volimer, George Schaffer and G. R. Barrett were appointed commissioners to open books for subscription to the capital stock, such moneys to be expended on the construction of a bridge over Bennett’s branch of the Sinnemahoning at Caledonia. In March, 1882, the post-office was returned to Caledonia, from the Rothrock dwelling, with V. Zurden, postmaster.. . . The Caledonia Coal Company, of which W. S. Wallace is secretary, is a large and wealthy company, owning one of the largest tracts of bituminous coal lands in the State, the acreage of which, lying in Clearfield and Elk counties, aggregates nearly 34,000 acres, and all is underlaid with fine steam and coking coals. The Elk Coa1 and Coke Company, one of the lessees of the Caledonia Company, of about 1,000 acres of this territory, is now successfully operating one of the finest coking plants in the State at Glen Fisher, near Caledonia, producing such a fine coke that it has sold the entire output of 100 ovens for a year to come. Various applications from other operators for leases are being entertained, and it is expected within the next few years to have the whole territory of the company dotted with collieries and coking plants.
Washington Camp, 437, P. 0. S. of A. of Caledonia, was organized in 1889.
Jay Grange, P. of H., was organized March 1, 1876, with E. McCullogh, William Hewett, J. W. Mead, E. Hewett, B. Gardner, 0. H. Scull, L. Rodgers. G. W. Webb, Peter Hollabaugh. Mrs. L. L. Lucore, H. M. McCullough, S. E. Hewett and Mrs. H. W. Rodgers.
The Putnam Lumber Company was organized in May, 1882, with John E. Putnam, W. H. Sloan and James N. Kline, members. The capital stock was placed at $80,000, and Caledonia named as the place of business. The Caledonia mills were erected in 1882 for this lumber company (at a cost of $100,000) with a pine capacity of 130,000 feet and 19,000 feet of hemlock, or 17,000,000 feet during the season. In addition are the lath, shingle, flooring and planing machines. In 1882 this company purchased the Fisher tract of 5,000 acres on Bennett’s branch and Laurel and Kersey runs.
The old Putnam saw-mill and timber lands at Caledonia (late the property of James Corcoran) was sold to A. H. Dill, in February, 1890, for $6, 745, subject to a mortgage of about $43,000.
The post-office of Weedville is at the mouth of Kersey run. It lies on the Low Grade Railroad John Boyd, who was the first settler, built a saw-mill. Frederick Weed and Capt. Weed, who was the father of Judge Charles Weed. of Ridgway, bought the works of Mr. Boyd.
Highland Township is the name given to the broad, flat hills of Elk county. The Big Level ridge, extending from Tylersburg, in Clarion, to Howard hill, in McKean, crosses the northern part of Highland, its elevation along the railroad varying from 1,912 feet on the line of Forest county to 2.071 feet on Spring creek summit. On the line between Warrants 3776 and 2005, the elevation is 2,005; old school-house on Warrant 3776, 1,850 feet, and the point where Bear creek crosses the Warren-Ridgway turnpike, 1,825 feet. In Revolutionary days, and indeed up to 1880, the “Big Level” was the only sure guide for the traveler in this region. The pine and hemlock forests of Highland appear to have been more dense than in any other section, and this, added to the fact that the streams run in all directions and the grades of the plateau slopes are so easy, made exploration very difficult. Evidences of the old military road of Revolutionary days are said to exist on the Big Level both here and in McKean county. This ridge is comparatively level all the way to Howard hill, the elevation being gradual. Tionesta creek forms in the northern part of the township within the angle formed by the Ridgway turnpike and Kane road. Spring creek heads on the divide north by west of Highland, with southern feeder flowing from Spring creek summit. Bear creek is found everywhere south of Highland village and east of a line drawn south from Spring creek summit, while Big, West Pigeon and Hunter runs, with numerous feeders, are found in the southwestern quarter. The Pittsburgh & Western Railroad almost parallels the Ridgway and Warren turnpike. Little had been accomplished up to 1884 toward developing the coal deposits of this township, except a digging on the Stubbs farm, although coal was known to exist on warrant 3776 and other places.
In 1850, in Highland township (opened that year) were four dwellings. f our families, thirty-three persons and two farms. The population in 1880 was 261. In 1888 there were thirty-seven Republican, eighteen Democratic and nine Prohibitionist votes cast, representing 320 inhabitants.
New Highland post-office was esiab1ished in December, 1853, with Charles Stubbs postmaster. The fist mercantile house in Highland township was opened in 1880 by H. O. Ellithorp. Today there are only two hotels in the township: George C. Bicker’s Jamestown House, at Jamestown Mills, and Anthony Deft’s Jack Waite Road House, at Chaffee Siding. In the northern part of the township, on Tionesta creek, is James City, the site of James Brothers’ saw-mill. It is connected with the owner’s office at Kane by telephone and with the Tionesta Valley Railroad by a siding.
The officers of Highland township chosen in February, 1890, are H. H. Van Orman, justice; A. Maxwe11 and J. C. Bicker, supervisors; E. Havencamp, Jr., clerk; H. O. Ellithorp, collector; H. Gorton, treasurer; A. W. Irwin and C. A. Ellithorp, school directors.
Horton Township lies mostly within the fourth bituminous coal basin, and with the exception of a part of the northern sections, is drained by Toby creek. Many of the hilltops reach an elevation of over 2,100 feet; one summit at George Faust’s house was found to be 1,960 feet, and the lowest point, where the Toby flows into Jefferson county, 1,463.8 feet. The population in 1880 was 688. In 1888 there were 116 Republican, 102 Democratic and 10 Prohibitionist votes cast, representing 1,140 inhabitants. In 1864 – 65 mining operations were regularly commenced in this township. The location is about half a mile northeast of the Shawmut Company’s store at Shawmut, or three-fourths of a mile northeast of Mine No. 7, opened in. 1867, to take its place as a producer. The elevation of the first is 1,725, and of the last-named 1,685 feet. Near the former, No. 15 mine was developed in 1864, but closed down in 1865 – 66, owing to the difficulty of shipping the product. About 3,000 feet west of No. 7, was the water vein opening.
East of Brockport, 1,685 to 1,695 feet above tide, a great exposure of limesi one occurs, and has been quarried for years. Limestone outcrops in rear of the old hotel on the Hyde farm, on Toby creek, at an elevation of 1,980 feet in the bed of the creek, near the county line and at many other places.
The village of Hellen is located on Little Toby creek, near where Brandy Camp creek joins it. It is on the road from Ridgway to Brookville. Daniel Oyster, the Brockways and Clarks were early settlers. George Nulf, an old hunter of Hellen, fell from his look out in a tree, while watching a deer lick, and died May 29, 1871.
Shawmut is a town of about seventy-live houses, thirty of which are already occupied. It contains one large store, by Brinker & Jones, besides offices and other necessary buildings which go to make up a general mining town. The coal works of Brinker & Jones are situated down Mead’s run, about two miles, and are now being superintended by George Young, of Red Bank, Penn., who pushes business along much to the satisfaction of employees and employer.
The Vineyard Run Mills, owned by J. S. and W. H. Hyde, J. K. P. Hall, and A. Kaul, fourteen miles south of Ridgway, were built in 1883, with a capacity of 40,000 feet of bill lumber per day. The company owned 13,000 acres of pine land in that neighborhood.
Brandy Camp may be termed the mother of settlements in the southwestern townships. In 1818 Isaac Horton settled here, and around this pioneer other settlers located, such as the Brockways. In 1826 the first school house was erected, and in it Olive Brockway presided over a small number of pupils. In 1829 Minerva Horton, one of Miss Brockway’s first pupils, was the second teacher. She also presided over the school established that year on the Little Toby. In 1867 the township was established, and the year following it was established a school township. Charles A. Brown, a native of the county, is superintendent of the Hyde farm and hotel at this point.
Brockport is a progressive village, on the Little Toby, above the mouth of Mead’s run. Years ago the manufacture of lumber was commenced in this neighborhood by Chauncey Brockway, Sr. In 1884 Nulf & Chamberlin established their grocery store; ten years before this John Cuneo’s general store was established; William H. and Alonzo S. Horton’s store dates back to 1885. In 1889 O. L. Chamberlin purchased W. H. Horton’s interest in this store. There are other general stores, grocery stores and hotels, with the lumber manufacturing concerns of James Curry & Son, Gillinghain, Garrison & Co. (1883 – Richard Torpin, Jr., resident partner and manager) – and others. The Clintons settled in this vicinity in 1843 and H. A. Parson in 1869.
The corner-stone of the Methodist church building at Brockport was placed July 4, 1889, and the church was dedicated October 27, by Mr. J. A. Hovis, the pastor. The Iddings House, at Brockport, was built in 1886 – 87.
Horton City is the name given to a new manufacturing center on Mead run, near the old Mead Bun school-house. Here is the large general store of Burr K Cartwright, and his shingle and planing-mills. Here too, are the large saw-mills and lath-mills. The standard gauge railroad system, connected with the works, is seventeen miles in length, equipped with five locomotives and fifty logging cars. The name was given in honor of W. H. Horton, who, in 1885, commenced the true development of this section.
Mead Run claims a general store in connection with the Cartwright lumber industries. In 1889 the contract for building 100 dwellings for the employees of the Northwestern Mining and Exchange Company, was entered into, and the development of this section was entered upon.
Bradford I. Taylor, born at Brandy Camp, near Ridgway in 1844, died in August, 1885. About the time of the war, he was superintendent of the coal mines at Shawmut, and in 1875 made a purchase on the Quintuple tract. . In October, 1879, the Shawmut Coal Company awarded the contract for taking up their railroad track to Hyde, Kline & Co.
The Messiah’s Church of Toby was organized for incorporation in June, 1869, with the following-named members: Elias Moyer, Adolph Kepler, W. Gibson. H. M. Gross, George Dills, H. Thompson, J. Coleman, Jacob Moyer, I. W. Hungerford, J. L. Taylor. J. W. Bogers, J. H. Graybill and Solomon Bachert.
The Horton Township Grange (Coloma) was organized January 19, 1876, with twenty-five members. W. H. Horton was elected master; J. G. Harris, secretary; Mrs. J. Burchfield, Ceres, and Mrs. A. D. Alden, Pomona, and Miss Lilly Alden, assistant steward.
Brockwayville was, in early days, what it is now, the center of a great coal arid lumber industry, but it was not until recently that the great coal fields developed to any extent. The town has a very good location, and the white pine, which grows abundantly, is another source of health. The population is about 1,200. The town contains three churches, two graded schools, a fine opera house and numerous stores of all kinds, a brick bank building (erected by the late John G. Hall, of Ridgway), three or four first-class hotels and one newspaper (edited by Butler & Niver). In fact it has all the interests which make a prosperous town. Although in Jefferson county, it is connected with this section of Elk county in commercial and social life.
The elections of Horton township in February, 1890, resulted in the choice of James Jackson and James Dillon, supervisors; A. B. Sparks, justice; A. D. Alden, treasurer; A. J. Allen, clerk; B. A. Cartwright and M. L. Richards, auditors; Thalius Wingfield and William Shank, directors; E. D. Alden, collector.