History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884
by Samuel P. Bates,
and Borough of Waterford
of Waterford was established and
received its name at the organization of Erie County.
It is the largest in the county, containing 29,516 acres. The boundary lines
are nearly the same as when the township was organized, the only exceptions
being a small district annexed from Washington, and another from Summit. The latter is
the jog or handle in the northwest, embracing the Strong place, which has
been at various times in McKean, Greene and Summit,
and was finally attached to Waterford
through the exertions of Capt. Martin Strong, who wished to close his life in
the township of his original residence in the county. Waterford
is bounded on the north by Summit and Greene;
on the east by Amity and Union; on the south
by Le Boeuf and Washington, and on the west by Washington and McKean. The
greatest breadth of the township from north to south is five and thee-fourths
miles, and the greatest width from east to west nine and one-half miles. Its
population, as given in the United
States census report, was 579 in 1820,
1,006 in 1830, 1,144 in 1840, 1,545 in 1850, 1,950 in 1860, 1,884 in 1870,
and 1,822 in 1880, these figures after 1830 being exclusive of Waterford
Borough. The post office at the latter place is the only one in the township.
The assessment of 1883 gave the following results: Value of real estate,
$830,718; number of cows, 1,322; of oxen, 36; of horses and mules, 519; value
of the same, $80,185; value of trades and occupations, $18,800; money at
Lands of the Township
The best lands in Waterford Township lie below Lake Le Boeuf,
along its outlet, are level and very fertile, and have an average width
between the ridges of perhaps a mile and a half. Above the lake the flats
range from one to two miles in width, and the land is of a good quality, but
a great deal of it is swampy and unfit for cultivation at present, though
being gradually drained. Good valleys also exist along Benson, Boyd and Trout
Runs. The valley of French Creek becomes very narrow as it courses
Township, not reaching
more than half a mile in the widest place. Every kind of fruit, grain and
vegetable peculiar to our climate can be raised on the flat lands, but they
are seriously affected by the frosts. Aside from the valleys here described,
which embrace but a small portion of the township, the balance of the land is
hilly, though almost every part is capable of cultivation. The hill farms
have a clay soil, and are more free from frosts than the valleys. Wheat is
readily raised on all of them, and fruits do better than within the valleys.
The hills rise in some places to a considerable height, the loftiest
elevations being at Strong's, in the northwest; I. Y. Lunger's in the south;
Robert Hood's, in the east, and at Oak Hill and Cottrell's Hill, in the
southeast. A good deal of timber is still left in the township. The price of
land ranges from $10 to $60 along the outlet, and from $25 to $50 in the
balance of the township, being most valuable in the vicinity of the borough.
The Tenth Donation District commenced in
about a mile east of the borough, and extended across Amity and Wayne Townships
to the Warren County line. The Reserved Tract was a
body of 1,800 acres in Waterford
Township, and 400 in Le
Boeuf, all lying south of the present borough, which was set apart from the
operation of the general settlement law for reasons elsewhere given. A
similar Reserve was withheld around Erie.
An act was passed in 1799 authorizing the land to be sold in lots of 100
acres each. The first sale took place in 1800, and most of the tract was
disposed of by 1804.
In 1856, during the construction of the
Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, a sink-hole was encountered on the Benson
farm, about a mile northeast of Waterford Borough, which has ever since
remained a subject of interest and argument. Tamarack Swamp,
in the northeastern part of the township, and extending into McKean, is about
two miles long by 100 rods wide. About two-thirds of the swamp are in Waterford and the
balance in McKean. The swamp will ultimately be drained, and the land will be
Tax List in 1813
The following is a list of the
tax payers in Waterford Township in the year 1813: James Anderson, Nancy
Alexander, Reuben Alexander, E. and D. Alvord, Benjamin Avery, Benjamin
Blythe, William Boyd, John Boyd, John M. Baird, James Boyd, George Buehler,
Richard Braden, Robert Brotherton, Holbert Barnett, William Benson, Ichabod
Brackett, Mathew Blair, James Benson, William T. Codd, Isaac Craig, George
Cochran, Judah Colt, James Campbell, D. Collison, Henry Colt, John Clemmens,
Jeremiah Curtis, William Culbertson, Ebenezer Dwinnell, John Eagleson, Peter Ford,
Philip Gregory, Samuel Grimes, Carson Graham, John Greenwood, Walter How,
Aaron Himrod, Moses Himrod, Anor Hull, Isaac Hawley, Samuel Hewlings, John
Henry, Francis B. Holmes, Hugh Hamilton, Thomas Humphreys, William Hood,
James Hamilton, William Himrod, Samuel Jewet, Amos Judson, Thomas R. Kennedy,
Daniel King, Thomas King, William Knox, Thomas Layland, John Lattimore, James
Lattimore, John Lenox, John Lytle, Alex McElroy, David Middleton, Francis
Morrison, John McNair, David McNair, John Mullen, Israel Mullen, John Mace,
Charles Martin, James McDonald, Charles Martin, Jr., James McKay, Naylor
& Wilson, Joseph Osborn, James Oliver, Isaac Pherron, Adam Pollock, David
Phillips, Thomas Prentiss, Jabez Parker, Joseph Reynolds, Rufus S. Reed,
George W. Reed, Thomas Rees, James Ross, Jonathan Stratton, William Simpson,
Lemuel Stancliff, Martin Strong, Andrew Simpson, Elizabeth Skinner, Wilson
Smith, Russell Stancliff, Solomon Snell, Levi Strong, Rufus Trask, Sr., Rufus
Trask, Jr., James Thomas, Samuel Trask, Turnpike Company, Robert Townley,
Jr., Joshua Tilden, John Tracy, William Vankirk, John Vincent, Eli Webster,
Ellis William, Jacob Watkins, Archibald Watson, Henry Woodworth.
The total tax assessed in 1813 was
$410.25, and the militia fines $384. Farm land was assessed at from $1.50 to
$2 per acre, inlots at $20 to $60 each and outlots at $30 to $50 each.
Streams and Lake
The streams of Waterford Township are
French Creek, which flows through its southeast corner for about three miles,
from Amity to Le Boeuf; the outlet of Lake Pleasant, which courses for about
a mile through its northeast corner, from Venango to Amity; and Le Boeuf
Creek with its branches. Le Boeuf Creek -- known to the French as the River
aux Boeufs, and named by them from the number of cattle discovered on the
flats below Waterford
-- runs through the center of the township from Greene on the north to Le
Boeuf Township on the south, where it joins French Creek. It has two main
branches, one rising on the edge of Greene and Venango, and the other in Summit, which unite near the Greene and Waterford boundary, almost at the
Philadelphia & Erie Railroad bridge. Just below Waterford Borough, the
creek enters Lake Le Boeuf, and after leaving it is generally known by the
title of "The Outlet." Its length in the township is not far from
ten miles, and its total length about twenty. Boyd Run and Trout Run rise in
the west being about five and the second about two miles in length. Trout Run
is formed by the junction of Black Run and Bagdad Run, the one rising in
Tamarack Swamp and the other in the extreme western part of the township.
They unite on the farm of Mrs. Phelps, west of the borough. Benson Run starts
on the M. Avery place, and after a course of some two miles, falls into Le
Boeuf Creek near Brotherton's Mill. Davis Run empties into French Creek near
the Newman Bridge, and Moravian Run joins the
same stream in Le Boeuf Township. The first stream rises near the Colt
Station road, and is about four miles long. The second has its head in the Ormsbee
settlement, and a length in Waterford
of perhaps two miles. The valleys of Benson Run and Moravian Run from the
route by which the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad crosses from Le Boeuf
Creek to French Creek. Lake Le Boeuf is about two-thirds of a mile long by
half a mile wide, with a picturesque island near its center. It receives Le
Boeuf Creek and Boyd and Trout Runs, and its outflow is apparently greater
than its inflow, from which it is surmised that the lake must be fed by
springs in the bottom.
Roads, Bridges and Mills
The only railroad of Waterford
is the Philadelphia & Erie, which enters it from Greene by the valley of
Le Boeuf Creek and passes across the township from north to southeast into Le
Boeuf. Its nearest approach to Waterford Borough is at Waterford Station, a
mile east. The leading public roads are the old Erie & Waterford
Turnpike, the Erie & Waterford plank, the Colt's Station, the Waterford
& Wattsburg, the Flats road to Mill Village, the Waterford &
Meadville pike, the old State road to the Ohio line, the Edinboro &
Waterford, the Waterford & Meadville plank, the Waterford & McKean,
the Waterford & Union and the Station road from the borough to the
railroad. Some of the above-named roads were among the earliest that were
opened in the county.
The important bridges are as follows:
Over French Creek, the Newman covered bridge, on the Wattsburg &
Waterford road. Over Le Boeuf Creek, the Himrod bridge, on the cross-road
from Greene to the plank road; the Benson, near the sink-hold; the Lattimore,
on the Colt Station road; the two of the P. & E. Railroad, one at the
Greene line and the other near Waterford Station; the Station, on the Station
road; the Judson, on the Flats roads, and the Outlet bridge on the Meadville
pike. All of the above are wooden, and all are open with the exception of the
Newman and station bridges.
The mills and factories are Davis' steam
saw mill, on French Creek; Benson's steam saw mill, on Le Boeuf Creek, near
the sink-hole; Lattimore's water saw mill, on Le Boeuf Creek, about a mile
above the Station; a sulky hay rake factory at the Station; Brotherton's saw
mill and Hasting's tub and firkin factory, about a quarter of a mile below
the Station, both run by the same race from Le Boeuf Creek; Judson &
Hipple's steam and water grist mill in the valley of Le Boeuf Creek, just
outside the borough; Rice's horse-power cider and jelly mill, at the foot of
the lake; Himrod's steam saw mill, between the plank road and Le Boeuf Creek,
two miles north of the borough; Harvey Boyd's and Julius Hull's water saw
mills, on Boyd Run; T. H. Marsh's steam saw mill, near the McKean line; a
cheese factory at Newman's bridge (started in the spring of 1881); and Hare's
cider mill, on Oak Hill.
The Free-Will Baptist Church at
Newman's Bridge was organized in 1832 or 1833 by Rev. W. Stickney, but was
subsequently allowed to go down. It was re-organized in 1853 as a branch of
the Bloomfield Church, by Rev. J. Smith. Until the
erection of the present house of worship, the congregation held services in
the neighborhood schoolhouses. The building was erected in 1860, at a cost of
$1,200, and was dedicated in December of that year. Among the pastors of the
congregation have been Revs. J. Smith, A. Losee, C. C. Burch, -- Cutler and
W. Parker, the latter being the present incumbent.
There is another Free-Will Baptist
Church in the township
located in the northeastern part thereof. The church edifice was erected in
1877, although the congregation is nearly, if not quite, as old as the one
above named and its history is almost identical with it.
The Methodist Episcopal Church at
Sharp's Corners, was organized in 1838 or 1839, with eight members, by Rev.
L. D. Prosser. The first pastor was Rev. Russell Stancliff. The church
building was erected in 1868, costing $1,625. For the past twenty0five or
thirty years it has been an appointment on Waterford Circuit.
The Christian congregation at Oak Hill
was organized in 1854 by its first pastor, Rev. Stephen Washburn, with a
membership of seventeen. Its house of worship was erected in 1861. Rev. Mr.
Washburn and others preached for the congregation for several years. For
several years the congregation has been without regular preaching.
The Catholic Church at Waterford Station
dates from the building of the church edifice in 1878. The congregation has
been served by the pastors of the church at Union City.
Most of the burials take place in the
cemetery at Waterford Borough, although there are graveyards at each of the above
churches except the Catholic. The Walker Graveyard is about a mile south of
the Greene line. The Catholics generally inter at Union.
One of the early schools of Waterford Township was held in a building which
stood near the present site of the residence of Webster Hunt. School was here
taught by Russell Stancliff (afterward a minister of the Gospel) about the
year 1806 or 1807. Michael Hare, a Revolutionary soldier, taught a school in
his house about the year 1827, the site of which is the J. Bootz farm, in the
southeastern part of the township. About the year 1827, a schoolhouse was
bu8ilt near the site of the present Hare Schoolhouse by the neighborhood.
Following is a list of the township schools of to-day: Sharp, at Sharp's
Corners; Strong, on turnpike, near Jason Way's; Himrod, on plank road near
Squire Whittellsey's; Bonnell, in the northeast, on Wattsburg road; Lattimore
at Lattimore's Corners; Sweatland, near West Greene; Hood, near Gay's
Corners, on the Wattsburg road; Middleton, in the southeast, near George
Middleton's; Hare, in the southeast, near J. Bootz's; Avery, on Union road,
in the southeast; Woodside, near Charles Thompson's, on Meadville Turnpike;
Davis, on plank road near Emanuel Barnes'; Sedgwick, near Irvine Port's;
Bagdad, at Bagdad Corners; Clute, in the east, near George Austin's; Philps,
in the west, near Charles Fish's; Mahan, in the northeast, near Samuel
Mahan's; East Waterford, at the railroad station (a graded school). The
township has an interest in two union schools, as follows: The Flats School,
just across the line in Le Boeuf Township, and the McKean
School, in McKean Township,
near the line.
Waterford Station, or East
Waterford, on the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, a mile east of the
Diamond in the borough, and nineteen miles from Erie City, consists of one
station building, one hotel and grocery combined, a sulky rake factory, a
warehouse and ice house, a schoolhouse, with graded school, a Catholic
Church, about a dozen good dwellings and nearly the same number of shanties
for railroad employees. The railroad company have stock yards at this point,
and it is one of the most important stations on the line for shipping cattle
and produce. A great many spikes, bullets, cannon balls and other instruments
of war have been found in the vicinity of the depot, where some of the
soldiers were encamped during the war of 1812.
The elections and public business of the
township are held in the borough in a building which is owned by the latter
and used by both as a town hall.
In the southeast corner of the township,
bordering on Le Boeuf, are three fine quarries of sandstone, which have
furnished some of the finest flagging in Northwestern
When the French entered Northwestern
Pennsylvania, they found an Indian village where Waterford now stands, traces of which
remained some thirty-five years ago. The first French explorers regarded Le
Boeuf Creek as the main stream of French Creek, and called both by the same
title. At a subsequent period they changed the name of the main stream to the
river Venango, by which it had been known to the Indians.
The French took possession of the
country in 1753, their purpose being to establish a chain of forts between
Niagara and New Orleans -- along the south shore of Lake Erie,
Le Boeuf Creek, French Creek, and the Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. That season
they built forts at Presque Isle and Le Boeuf, now Erie
They also cut a wagon road between the two places, which is still known as
the old French road. On the 11th of December, the fort at Le Boeuf was
visited by George Washington, then in his twenty-second year, as a
representative of the Colony of Virginia, to protest against the French
invasion of its territory. He remained until the 16th of December, returning
down the creeks and rivers by means of canoes furnished him by the French
The French Fort
The French fort Le Boeuf is
described in Washington's
journal as having been situated "on the West Fort of French Creek, near
the water, almost surrounded by the creek and a small branch of it, which
forms a kind of an island. Four houses comprised the sides; the bastions were
of poles driven into the ground, standing more than twelve feet above it, and
sharp at the top, with port holes cut for cannon and loop-holes for small
arms. Eight six-pounders were mounted on each bastion and one four-pounder
before the gate. In the bastions were a guard house, chapel, surgeon's
lodgings and commandant's private store." In a journal written in
November, 1758, Le Boeuf is represented as a strong stockaded fort, but much
out of repair, and occupied only by an officer, thirty soldiers and a few
The fort was successfully in command, during
the winter of 1753-54, of Marin, the original leader of the expedition, and
of Legardeur de St. Pierre, who was killed on Lake
George the next summer. In the spring of 1754. the French moved
southward and built Fort Venango, at the mouth of French Creek, and Fort Duquesne,
on the site of Pittsburgh.
The French retreating, possession of Forts Le Boeuf and Presque Isle was
taken by Maj. Rogers, with a force of English and Colonial troops, in 1760.
In 1763, by the eloquence and ability
of the celebrated Pontiac, all of the Indian tribes west of the Alleghanies
were united in a grand confederacy, whose purpose was to fall upon every
English fort on the frontier upon a given day, and sweep them and their
occupants out of existence. The plan was so far successful that by the middle
of summer all the forts were taken and burned except Niagara, Pitt, Bedford and Detroit.
Le Boeuf was assaulted on the 17th of June, and its block-house fired at
night. While the Indians were dancing around their camp fire in fiendish
glee, momentarily expecting the surrender of its garrison, the ensign in
command and his handful of men crept through a drain leading to the creek,
and hid themselves in the swamps until it was safe to venture across the
country. The fort at Presque Isle was taken on the 22d of June.
From the period last referred to until
1796, the settlement of this section went on very slowly, almost all of the
white residents being hunters and traders with the Indians. In 1785, David
Watts and William Miles came on under the auspices of the Commonwealth, to
survey the Tenth Donation District, returning to the East on the completion
of their labors. A committee on the part of the State was sent out in 1790 to
explore the route from French Creek to Erie, as a result of whose labors an
appropriation of $400 was made by the Legislature in 1791 to improve that
stream from Franklin to Waterford, and a similar sum for building a road from
Le Boeuf to Presque Isle. The Pennsylvania Population Company was formed
March 8, 1793, and immediately advertised an offer of 150 acres to each of
the first twenty families who would settle on French Creek, and of 100 acres
each to the next forty.
Beginning of the Town
April 8, 1794, an act was
approved by the Governor to lay out towns at Presque Isle, Le Boeuf and
Venango, its principal object being to establish a line of defensive posts
for the frontier. William Irvine, Andrew Ellicott and Albert Gallatin were
appointed to prepare the plans, and a part of their mission was to survey a
road from Reading
to Presque Isle. State troops reached Le Boeuf in May, and built a second
fort, where they remained until the spring of 1795.
The American Fort Le Boeuf consisted of
four block-houses surrounded by pickets, with a six-pounder on the second
floor of each building, and a swivel over each gate. The exact site of the
American fort is a matter of some dispute, one authority fixing it on the
spot occupied by the old French fort, while some of the older citizens of Waterford
contend that it was a little to one side, on the west edge of High street,
south of the Eagle Hotel.
While the troops were delayed at Le
Boeuf in 1794, Mr. Ellicott, one of the Commissioners, laid out a town at
that place, to which the name of Waterford
was given. This was nearly a year previous to the laying out of Erie by the same
gentleman. The plan made by Mr. Ellicott was confirmed by the Legislature in
1795. On the 25th of July, 1796, a sale was advertised to commence in Philadelphia of lots in Erie,
During the same year, Ellicott located the Susquehanna and Waterford
Turnpike, from Curwensville, Clearfield
County, to Lake Le Boeuf, by way of Franklin and Meadville.
April 10, 1799, an act was passed appropriating 45,000 to open a road from
near the Bald Eagle's Nest, in Mifflin
County, to Waterford.
The following prices were paid by the
Harrisburg & Presque Isle Company for lots in Waterford, at the public
sale held by the State Agents in Carlisle on the 3d and 4th of August, 1796:
August 23, 1800, James Naylor was
appointed Commissioner for the sale of lands in Waterford, in place of D. McNair, resigned.
February 16, 1805, John Vincent succeeded Naylor, who had died. He gave bonds
in the sum of $5,000 to perform the duties of the office faithfully. Charles
Martin was appointed in the place of Mr. Vincent, on the 29th of March, 1809.
Immediately upon the
announcement of peace with the Indians some of the soldiers concluded to
settle in or near Waterford, and emigration
began to flow in from the Eastern counties and New
England. Lieut. Martin, commander of the post, was among those
who became permanent residents, as well as James Naylor, one of the State
Commissioners. The former opened the first tavern on the site of William C.
Smith's tanyard, and the latter the first store. Capt. Martin Strong came on
from Hartford County, Conn.,
in the spring of 1795, and eventually located on the crest of the ridge north
of Waterford, 850 feet above Lake
Erie, where he remained until is death in 1858. He was a
surveyor and laid out a good share of the farms and roads in Waterford,
McKean, Summit and Greene Townships.
Amos Judson migrated from New England in the
same year and started a store. He and Col. Seth Reed came up Lake Erie together in a small coasting boat. The
arrival of other settlers was as follows: In 1796, John Lytle, from
Northumberland County; Robert Brotherton, from Franklin County; John Lennox
and Thomas Skinner; in 1797, John Vincent, from Northumberland County, and
Wilson Smith, from Union County, both of whom walked the whole distance from
Pittsburgh; in 1798, Aaron Himrod and the Lattimores; in 1801-02, Capt. John Tracy,
William Boyd, Sr., and son David, John and James Boyd, with their three
sisters, and James Anderson; in 1804 or 1805, James and William Benson; in
1809, Eliachim Cook, who had previously settled in McKean Township; in 1799
or earlier, George W. Reed; in 1812, John Henry and Levi Strong; in 1813, the
McKays; in 1814, Simeon Hunt; in 1816, William Smith, William Vincent and
Judge Hutchins; in 1822, I. M. White; in 1824, Seth and Timothy Judson; in
1826, Daniel Vincent. The Boyds and Mr. Anderson were from Northumberland County;
Mr. Hunt was from Orange County, Vt.; William Smith and wife came over from Wayne Township;
Mr. White is a native of Windham County, Vt., and the Judsons were from Connecticut. Most of those place of
nativity are not given hailed either from the Susquehanna
Valley or the New England States.
In 1815, Rev. John Matthews, Dr. William Bacon, Henry Woodworth, Henry Colt, John Way and
Archibald Watson were residents of the village, but the precise date of their
arrival cannot be given. Dr. Ira Barton, though one of the most venerable
citizens, did not settle in Waterford
until 1840. Mrs. Smith, wife of William Smith, is worthy of mention as having
attained to the fourth greatest age of any woman of whom a record has been
preserved in the county. After the loss of her husband, she returned to Wayne Township, were she expired in the
summer of 1875, at the rare age of ninety-nine. John Vincent settled first on
a small stream which flows into French Creek in the eastern portion of the
township, where he remained two years before becoming a resident of the
village. On the completion of the turnpike, he took charge of the toll gate
about a mile above Waterford,
and afterward went into the salt trade, which made him wealthy.
The first death was that of a
boy named Rutledge, who died of wounds received in the Indian troubles in
1795, and was buried just outside the fort. The first white child was John
R., son of William Black, who was born in Fort Le Boeuf, August 8, 1795. The
second birth was that of Katharine, daughter of Aaron Himrod and wife, in
1799. Robert Brotherton built the first saw mill in 1797, and the first grist
mill in 1802, on the site of the present Brotherton Mill, near Waterford
Station. He also kept a tavern from 1815 to 1817, on the lot occupied by his
son's residence, the old building, which is still standing, being moved back
when the new one was put up. This tavern was also conducted for a time by
Mrs. Hannah Pym. The second saw mill was set in operation by James Boyd on
Boyd's Run, west of the borough. Mr. Lattimore started a mill soon after
Boyd's, the date of both having been very early. After Martin left his
tavern, it was kept by Wilson Smith. George W. Reed opened a tavern in 1810,
on Union street,
in the rear of Judson's block, which burned down. Thomas King, who had kept a
public house opposite Dr. Judson's residence, corner of First and Walnut
streets, commenced building the stone hotel in 1826, and opened it in the
winter of 1827. On the discontinuance of Naylor's store, Stephen Wolverton
was sent over from Erie
by R. S. Reed with a stock of goods, and remained in business in the village
for several years.
Capt. John Lytle, father of John
Lytle, Jr., who rose to be prominent among the early settlers, was commander
of Fort Freeland, on the West Branch of the
Susquehanna, in 1779. It was attacked by a body of British and Indians, and
capitulated on the 30th of June of that year, among the prisoners taken being
Capt. Lytle, William Miles and four of the Vincents. They were marched
through the dense wilderness to Fort
Niagara, in Canada, where
they were detained until the acknowledgment of our National Independence by
the British Government. During the long absence of Capt. Lytle, his wife
remained on the farm with her children, employing an unmarried man to do the
work. In course of time this person made proposals of marriage to Mrs. Lytle,
which she firmly rejected. Determined to effect his object, the young man put
letters in circulation, stating that the Captain was dead, and the unhappy
woman became so well convinced of the truth of the report that she married
the assiduous lover. On the Captain's return, he was so shocked and mortified
to learn of what had happened that for awhile he refused to see his wife, but
mutual friends having acquainted him with the facts, he was reconciled to
her, took her again to his bosom and the miserable deluder was compelled to
fly beyond the reach of the law. His son John was the originator of the Erie
& Waterford Turnpike Company, a member of the Legislature, and for years
one of the leading men of the county. The latter was killed by the running
away of his horse in February, 1816.
The Boating Trade
For many years after the country
began to settle, most of the supplies of iron, glass, flour, bacon, whisky,
etc., came from Pittsburgh, and nearly all of the freight was carried on
boats poled up and down the Allegheny, French Creek and LeBoeuf Creek. The
flat-boats were roughly built, and averaged about fifteen feet in width by
seventy-five in length. They were sold at Pittsburgh, loaded with coal, floated down
to Southern ports, and broken up for fire wood after reaching their
destination. It required about three weeks to make the trip from Waterford to Pittsburgh
and return. The keel-boats were of better construction, and were used for
bringing freight up as well as carrying them down the streams, their
propelling power being poles pushed by the crews.
The most important trade in the early
days was the shipping of salt for the Southern markets. This indispensable
article was brought to Erie from Onondaga, N.
Y., hauled by teams to Waterford,
deposited in warehouses there, and floated down the streams whenever they
were in suitable condition. The trade began about 1812, and the last load was
taken to Pittsburgh
in 1819. The village being without a church edifice, all religious services
in those days were held in one of the warehouses.
During the second war with Great Britain, Waterford
was a busy place, most of the supplies for the army and navy being brought
there by boats, and then hauled across the country to Erie. A brigade of Pennsylvania
troops was organized on the farm of John Lytle, at the P. & E. Railroad
depot, in 1812, under the command of Gen. Tannehill, of Pittsburgh,
and ordered to Buffalo,
where it remained during the ensuing winter.
La Fayette's visit, on his return to
this country in 1825, was one of the most memorable incidents in the history
He was accompanied by his son, a companion and a servant, on their way from Pittsburgh to Erie.
The nation's distinguished guest arrived on the 2d of June, and remained over
night at the hotel of George W. Reed, which stood just east of the Judson
Block, on First street.
In 1815, a "Moral Society
was organized, to aid the members and "strengthen the hands of the
magistrates in the suppression of vice and immorality." In 1846, a lodge
of Odd Fellows, the first secret society, was established. In the same year,
the town sent liberal donations for the relief of Ireland,
and in 1861 the sum of $150 was forwarded to the Kansas sufferers. In 1859, a Literary
society was in existence, which maintained a course of lectures. In 1868, the
Masonic society was instituted. The Erie & Waterford Plank Road was
completed in 1851, and the Waterford & Meadville about 1852.
In 1856, grading for the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad commenced, and it
was opened to Warren
in 1859. To Capt. M. Strong, of Waterford, was
awarded the distinction of breaking ground for the canal at Erie, on the 4th of July, 1838. The first
postal facilities would seem to have been granted to the town about 1801.
From then to 1823, a mail was carried between Pittsburgh
and Erie once
a week each direction, in the beginning on horseback and after the war by
hack. In 1826, stages ran through the place three times a week, each way,
carrying the mails. The number was increased to a daily state and mail from
both ends of the line, which lasted until the completion of the railroad.
incorporated as a borough April 8, 1833, and the first officers were elected
in March, 1834, as follows: Burgess, Amos Judson; Council, John Boyd, Henry
Colt, William Benson, John Tracy, Isaac M. White, Wilson King; Clerk and
Treasurer, B. B. Vincent; High Constable Charles C. Boyd; Overseers of the
Poor, Samuel Hutchins, Daniel Vincent. The town was laid out on the same plan
as Erie, with
broad streets running at right angles, and a park or diamond of some five
acres near the center. The borough covers about five hundred acres, and
contained a population of 403 in 1840, 498 in 1850, 900 in 1860, 790 in 1870,
and 781 in 1880. It is fourteen miles south of Erie
by the plank road, and nineteen and a half by railroad, calling the distance
one-half mile from the Philadelphia & Erie depot. The site is
a flat table-land overlooking Le Boeuf Lake and the valley of the creek,
being one of the healthiest and pleasantest locations in the interior of the
county. The town lies in a sort of a huge bowl, with high hills, cultivated
to their summits on every side except in the direction of the outlet. The
nearest railroad point is Waterford Station, a mile distant, on the Philadelphia & Erie.
The town started along the creek, and for a considerable period, in the
consequence of the boating business, Water street was its principal avenue.
From there it worked back to First
street, which contained all the stores and two
or three taverns. At that date High street, now the business thoroughfare, was
nothing more than a common road. In laying out the streets, all were made
sixty feet wide except High, Third and Water, which have a width of 100 feet.
There was no church edifice until 1832, although several denominations had
been organized, and worship was held either in the schoolhouse, one of the
warehouses, or in the academy. The first school building was a log structure
on Walnut street,
between Sixth and Seventh, and the second stood on High street about the
center of the Diamond. The house was moved in 1836, when the common school
system was adopted by the county, and is now occupied as Douglass' stable. In
this building, in the winter of 1820-21, school was taught by Buell Barnes.
E. D. Gunnison, John Kelly, Samuel McGill and Warren McGill were early
teachers in the same. About the winter of 1816-17, school was taught in the
dwelling of Joseph Osborne by a Mr. Vaugh. The first building for free school
purposes was placed on a corner of the academy lot and removed in 1840. Four
schools are maintained in the village now, all in one large edifice, in which
there are three apartments, and three teachers are employed. Among the early
stores not mentioned before were those of Holmes & Harricott, Samuel
Hutchins and Hart & Thompson. The original houses of the town have mostly
passed away. The oldest known to be in existence is the one occupied by Judge
John Vincent until his death in 1860.
At the sale of reserved lands in
1800, 500 acres were set apart by the State near Waterford,
for the benefit of schools and academies in the several places. The Waterford Academy was incorporated in 1811, and
besides the above named 500 acres, embracing the flats at the mouth of Le
Boeuf Creek, was endowed with fifteen inlots, to which eight others were
added in 1821. The first Trustees appointed by the Legislature were John
Vincent, John Boyd, John Lytle, Aaron Himrod, Charles Martin, Henry Colt and
James Judson. The latter gentleman was elected Treasurer, and held the post
until December 31, 1858. On the 24th of February, 1820, an act passed
empowering the Trustees to sell the 500 acres of the reserved tract at not
less than $10 per acre, and to invest the proceeds in some productive fund
for the compensation of teachers. The old stone building was completed in
1822, the same year as the Academy in Erie, and the first school was opened
in 1826, John Wood acting as Principal. A brick addition was added about
1859, and a boarding-house some ten years later. The time was when Waterford Academy was the most famous and
prosperous institution of learning in the county, numbering as high as 400
pupils and employing the best talent for teachers. Many of the prominent men
of the county received their education within its walls, and its graduates
are to be found in nearly every State in the Union.
It declined soon after the opening of the Normal School at Edinboro, and has
had a checkered career for the last ten years.
The old cemetery at the
southwest corner of Second and West streets was the only one in the borough
until 1840, when the first part of the present cemetery was laid out by
William Benson, Sr., under the auspices of the borough, containing one and a
quarter acres. The first burial in the latter was that of a child of Dr.
Banning, in December, 1840. This section became completely filled up, and
more ground being necessary the borough in 1865 deeded the property to the Waterford Cemetery company, who have increased
it to eleven acres, at a cost of about $1,000 for the land. A part of the
addition was laid out by Judge William Benson in 1865, and the balance by
John H. Millar in 1875. The cemetery occupies dry, gravelly ground, on the
side of the borough toward the depot, is well laid out, and contains numerous
costly monuments. Within the cemetery plat, in a full lot appropriated for
the purpose by the company, lie the bones of Michael Hare, the oldest man who
ever lived in Erie County and perhaps in Pennsylvania. He was born in Ireland on the 10th of June, 1727, and died in
after a long residence there, on May 3, 1843, at the almost incredible age of
one hundred and fifteen years eight months and twenty-two days. Mr. Hare
served in the French wars, was present at Braddock's defeat, fought all
through the Revolution, and wound up his military career by taking part in
St. Clair's expedition against the Western Indians. At St. Clair's defeat, he
was left on the field for dead and lost his scalp, which did not seem to
cause him much inconvenience in after years. Mr. Hare was one of the first
settlers of Wayne Township, from which he moved to Waterford. Besides Mr. Hare, two other
Revolutionary soldiers are buried at Waterford
-- Capt. John Lytle and Neil McKay -- and five soldiers of the last war with Great Britain
-- M. Himrod, H. Colt, James McKay, J. Benson and J. Lenox.
The enlistments from Waterford in the
last was were probably not exceeded in number by any community of equal size,
and there are few of its families who did not mourn the loss of one or more
near relatives in that bloody struggle. There were buried in the cemetery in
1874: Capt. R. Cross, J. H. Smith, S. S. Himrod, J. W. Hunter, G. W. Benson,
C. Graff, W. H. H. Skinner, L. Avery, T. M. Mitchell, P. Fretwell, R.
Robertson, J. Atchison, M. Brink, J. H. Miller, J. McKinley, G. Kibbe, G.
Cornish -- 17. Buried on the field of battle: J. A. Phenix, R. R. Smith, G.
D. Judson, J. F. Rice, J. Lunger, W. B. Wright, A. C. Henry, F. M. Hull, A.
B. Hull, R. Wilson, S. Demington, R. Middleton, I. Bowen, E. Sedgwick, L.
Benson, R. Tollman, H. C. Brown, O. J. Taylor, J. H. Taylor, J. W. Babcock,
S. W. Hare, M. D. Burrows, H. Porter, B. Hood, S. E. Fish, J. D. Fish, W.
Phelps, J. J. Briggs, T. H. Briggs, C. Comer, A. Hough, L. Gray, D. Davis, E.
Oldfield, Capt. A. Walker, J. V. Walker, P. Porter and O. Gray -- 33.
Waterford has four church edifices, viz.: Presbyterian, Episcopal, United
Presbyterian and Methodist Episcopal. The first Presbyterian congregation was
organized in 1809, with Rev. John Mathews as first pastor, and William
Bracken, John Lytle and Archibald Watson as the first Trustees. One of the
most active men in the organization was Ebenezer Graham. Mr. Mathews was
settled regularly as pastor of the Waterford
and Gravel Run (Crawford
on October 17, 1810, and remained pastor until April 2, 1817. In 1818-19,
Rev. Phineas Camp, a Presbyterian missionary, employed to visit the various
settlements of the county, preached with such acceptance that a number of
converts were made, and established the real foundation of the congregation.
It was without a building until 1834, when the one still occupied was erected
at a cost of $5,000. From 1817 until 1828, it had only transient and
occasional supplies, among whom were Rev. Judah Ely in 1823; Rev. Johnston
Eaton came next, preaching monthly for about one year; and Revs. Bradford,
Marcy and Samuel Tait at various times until 1828. As stated supply, in
February, 1828, came Rev. Peter Hassinger, who remained until March, 1832.
From February, 1833, to November of the same year, the congregation was
served by Rev. B. J. Wallace, and from that time to May, 1834, Rev. J. Watson
preached. Since this period, the pastors of the church have been as follows:
Pierce Chamberlain, G. W. Cleveland (S. S.), Charles F. Diver, T. J.
Bradford, J. K. Black, T. H. Delamater (S. S.), M. D. A. Steen (S. S.), S. Bryan (S. S.), and M. Wishart, present pastor.
The United Presbyterian Church at Waterford dates back to October, 1812, on the 21st of which
month Rev. Robert Reid was installed pastor of the United Presbyterian
congregations at Erie and Waterford. At this period, the Waterford membership
consisted of fourteen persons. The first communion services were held in the
year 1816, in the storehouse of Thomas King, which stood near the bank of
LeBoeuf Creek. Mr. Reid remained pastor of the two congregations until June
30, 1841. The early services of this church, as well as other religious
societies of Waterford, were held in the
warehouses along the banks of the creek, in old Fort LeBoeuf,
in the old schoolhouse that stood in what is now the park, and later in the
Academy building erected in 1822. The church edifice was erected in 1835, but
not completed until 1838. It was enlarged in 1859 and greatly improved at a
cost of $1,200, and again in 1868 repairs were made and a spire and belfry
added at a cost of $2,100. Mr. Reid's successor to the pastorate was Rev.
John J. Findley, and following him at intervals were Revs. Thomas Love, H. P.
Jackson, and P. W. Free, present pastor. The founders of the congregation
were William Smith, Robert Kincaid and William Carson.
St. Peter's Episcopal Church may date
its origin to February, 1827, when the first service of this denomination was
held at Waterford,
in the Academy, on a week-day evening, by Rev. Charles Smith and Rev. B.
Hutchins. The next summer occasional services were held by the same
clergymen, and by the Rev. B. Glover, of Erie, who gave this people one-fourth of
his time in 1828. In 1831, the congregation resolved to build a church, and
the corner-stone was laid that fall. The building was consecrated to the
worship of God November 13, 1832, by Bishop Onderdonk. In 1871-72, the
building was renovated, and now constitutes the house of worship. The
following were the first Vestrymen: Dr. M. B. Bradley, Timothy Judson, Amos
Judson, Martin Strong, John Vincent, James Pollock and John Tracy. The
rectors of the parish have been Revs. G. Glover, Samuel T. Lord, Tobias
Harper Mitchell, M. D. Richard Smith, John Ireland, S. B. Moore, John A.
Davis, S. D. McConnel, Samuel J. French, To. O. Tongue, E. D. Irvine, Thomas
White, W. H. Roberts, and again the present incumbent Rev. E. D. Irvine.
The Methodist Episcopal congregation was
not regularly organized until 1835, though occasional services had been held
from as long back as 1814. The meeting place for some years was in an old
building removed from near the Eagle Hotel to the corner of High and Sixth
streets. The present structure was built in 1854. The pastors of the
congregation were, in 1849, H. Jull and E. T. Wheeler, and the present pastor
is J. F. Stocker.
State and County Officers
Up to thirty years ago,
Waterford shared equally with Erie in political influence, and there is
hardly a position within the gift of the people of the county that has not
been filled by one or more of its citizens, as the following list shows:
Quartermaster General, Wilson Smith, 1812; Presidential Electors, John Boyd,
1824; Wilson Smith, 1832; Charles C. Boyd, 1872. State Senate, Wilson Smith,
1809 to 1812. Assembly, John Lytle, 1802 to 1805; Wilson Smith, 1806 to 1808
and 1819-20; Samuel Hutchins, 1838 and 1839; David Himrod, 1857; O. S.
Woodward, 1865 and 1866. Associate Judges, John Vincent, December 23, 1805,
to March 26, 1840; Samuel Hutchins, November 12, 1856, to November 23, 1861;
William Benson, November 8, 1866, to November 8, 1872. Sheriffs, Wilson
Smith, 1803 to 1805; Thomas B. Vincent, November 2, 1852, to October 28,
1855; John L. Hyner, October 24, 1873, to January 1, 1877; H. C. Stafford,
January 1, 1880, to January 1, 1883. Prothonotary, E. L. Whittelsey, November
22, 1869, to December 28, 1875. Register and Recorder, Reuben J. Sibley,
November 25, 1848, to November 22, 1851. Coroner, M. S. Vincent, 1872 to
1875. County Commissioners, John Vincent, 1803 to 1804; John Boyd, 1807 to
1810; Henry Colt, 1822 to 1825; William Benson, Sr., 1826 to 1828; Flavel
Boyd, 1854 to 1857; Charles C. Boyd, 1863 to 1866. Directors of the Poor,
James Benson, 1840 to 1841; James Anderson, 1843 to 1846; George Fritts, 1849
to 1852. County Surveyors, Wilson Smith, 1800 to 1801; Wilson King, 1827 to
1833; William Benson, Jr., 1854 to 1863. County Auditors, Charles Martin,
1810; John Lytle, 1813 to 1816; Amos Judson, 1814 to 1817; James M. McKay,
1825 to 1828; Martin Strong, 1826 to 1829; William Benson, 1835 to 1838;
Simeon Hunt, 1845 to 1846; Flavel Boyd, 1850 to 1853. Mercantile Appraisers,
S. B. Benson, 1852 and 1861; J. P. Vincent, 1857; C. W. S. Anderson, 1863; H.
R. Whittelsey, 1866; James R. Taylor, 1869. Thomas Wilson, Congressman from
1813 to 1816, had been a resident of Waterford,
where he married Miss Naylor, but removed to Erie in 1805, and was living there when
elected. Other citizens of Erie chosen to public positions, who were natives
of Waterford Borough or Township, are: John P. Vincent, Additional Law Judge
from December, 1866, to April 17, 1874, and President Judge from the latter
date to January, 1877; James Skinner, State Senator from 1852 to 1855, and
Prothonotary from November, 1857, to November, 1863; Alfred King,
Prothonotary from November, 1854, to the same month in 1857; and John A.
Tracy, County Treasurer from 1835 to 1838. Among professional and business
men, her contribution to Erie
includes William Benson, John Clemens, A. H. Gray, F. F. Adams, F. F. Farrar,
Dr. P. Hall, Irvin Camp, B. B. Vincent, William Himrod, T. B. Vincent, dr. L.
Strong, O. S. Woodward, and others whose names cannot now be recalled. She
has given to the city two Mayors - - F. F. Farrar and Alfred King. Sheriff
Vincent became a resident of Erie
on the expiration of his term of office. George W. Reed came over from Erie and built the
United States Hotel, at the corner of French and Second streets, which was
once the most famous in the city. Mr. Tracy's career in Erie began as a clerk for Reed &
Sanford in 1816. He was the father of John F. Tracy, deceased, and
father-in-law of William L. Scott, two of the most conspicuous railroad men
in the country.
The following is a complete list
of the Postmasters of the borough, with year of their commission: Charles
Martin, 1801; Samuel Hutchins, 1819; Joseph Derrickson, 1829; John Marvin,
1831; Henry Colt, 1840; Joseph L. Cook, 1841; Timothy Judson, 1844; John
Curtis, 1847; Thomas B. Vincent, 1849; Hugh H. Whitney, 1852; Henry Colt,
1853; John Lytle, 1861; William Vincent, 1861; Andrew W. Tracy, 1865; William
O. Colt, 1868; James P. Vincent, 1869; Sarah H. Vincent, 1875.
In 1851, Joseph S. M. Young
started the Waterford
Dispatch, which attained to a wide circulation by its sympathy with
the "Rippers" in the railroad war. He removed it to Erie in 1856, and it became the basis of the present
Dispatch establishment. B. F. H. Lynn, who rose to distinction as an Erie publisher, was employed by Mr. Young in Waterford, and came
over with the office. Not long after the change, Mr. Lewis, who was printing
the Edinboro Museum,
went to Waterford
with his office, and printed a paper for a short time, In 1857, it fell into
the hands of Amos Judson, who changed the name to the Enquirer. That
paper suspended for a few months in 1858, but was recommenced by Judson &
Lynn, who were succeeded by C. R. H. Lynn, under whose administration it went
out of existence. The borough was without a paper till May 7, 1874, when L.
B. Thompson established the Waterford Enterprise.
Not proving as successful as he anticipated, the office was moved to Union City in February,
1875. Dr. D. P. Robbins started the Waterford Astonisher
on the 26th of January, 1878, and continued his connection with the same
until December 16 of that year, when A. F. Moses took charge, changed the
astonishing name to the Waterford
Leader, and continued its publication until April 1, 1883, when it was
purchased by W. G. Lefevre. In his hands it is meeting with a fair share of
business, and has become a permanent institution.
The manufacturing establishments
of the borough consist of D. P. Fritts' cheese factory (opened May 10, 1870),
now operated by E. M. Thurber; Boland's tannery; A. D. Johnson's boot and
shoe factory; Wheeler & Dewey's grist, saw and lath mill and planing
factory; Howe & Son's and George G. Taylor's carriage and wagon
factories; O. H. Woodward's marble works; James A. Boyd's carpenter and
joiner shop; William C. Lowell's cooper shop. Halsey & McKay's and
Bradish & Smith's, H. Hovis', Ira Skiff's Taylor's and Howe's blacksmith
shops. Of secret societies, there are the Masons, United Workmen, State
Police, Patrons of Husbandry and Mutual Protective Association. The borough
boasts five halls -- McKay's, Phelp's, Keystone, Masonic and Workmen's. Most
of the buildings in the borough are frame, but there are several good brick
The largest fire with which
Waterford has been afflicted occurred on the 5th of March, 1865, sweeping
away the whole of the west side of High street from Second alley to Judson's
store, and running north from Second alley and one-half the block. The next
largest happened on the last day of December, 1873, destroying the Union
hotel, a large three-story building, and two other structures. The Miles
Barnett Tannery has been burned down twice. Quite extensive fires took place
o the nights of February 4, 1881, and February 22, 1883. The first destroyed
the buildings belonging to A. M. Carson, the heirs of David Boyd, T. W.
Whitney, J. W. Willard and the heirs of A. Oliver, the second, A. M. Carson's
store, P. C. Sedgwick's meat market, and Hiram Howland's grocery. A fire in
the winter of 1883-84 burned down Wheeler & Dewey's grist, saw and lath
mill, and planing factory.
Isaac M. White, Treasurer and Clerk of
the borough, has held those positions for thirty-nine consecutive years. The
town hall of the borough is in a two-story frame building, the lower story
being used for and engine house and lock-up, and the upper story for Council
meetings. The township and borough both hold elections in the building. In
1834, the official valuation of property in the borough was $29,464, and the
assessment of taxes summed up $147.52. In 1883, the assessments gave the
following result: Value of real estate, $246,508; number of cows, sixty-six;
of horses and miles, ninety-two; value of same, $8,030; value of trades and
occupations, 437,625; money at interest, $55,825. Waterford has always been noted for the
number of its aged lady residents. Mrs. Phelps was ninety-five years old when
she died in August, 1879; Mrs. Henry Colt died on the 30th of March, 1881,
aged eighty-seven years eleven months and twenty-two days. David Himrod was
at one period among the prominent iron men of the United States. He removed to Erie in 1826, and was
an active business man in that city for many hears.
Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie
(Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Township Histories, Chapter II, pp.