History of Bridgewater Borough, Beaver County, Pa.
From: History of Beaver County Pennsylvania
and its Centennial Celebration
BY: Rev. Joseph H. Bausman, A. M.
Knickerbocker Press New York, 1904


THIS town was formerly a part of Beaver, and today the two towns would seem to the casual observer to be one. They are, however, two distinct boroughs. The present Bridgewater is the result of the consolidation under the Act of the Legislature of March 19, 1868, of the two towns of Sharon and Bridgewater. It lies along the Beaver Creek, from the Fallston line to the Ohio. The upper, or Sharon, part is the older, settlement having been made there probably as early as 1798. The first bridge across the Big Beaver was built at Bridgewater, near Wolf Lane, a full description of which is given in Chapter VII.


Major Robert Darragh was a very early pioneer in Beaver County, having come to this place from Ireland in 1798. The first buildin in Bridgewater was erected by him, and was a place of public entertainment. He also opened a store there. Major Darragh served one term as State Senator from Beaver County. He died at the advanced age of ninety six. The Hon. John Dickey lived in Sharon for many years and died there. Other early settlers were William Davidson, George Hinds, Samuel R. Dunlap, and John Boles. Another building, which was erected in 1803 by Hoopes, Townsend & Company, was one of the important general stores of Sharon and was known in later times as the "Old Red Front."


Gordon's Gazetteer of Pennsylvania, published in 1832, says of Bridgewater:

The village of Sharon is adjacent and both may be considered as one town. There are here a saw mill, salt works, for which coal is found within a few perches; an iron foundry, brewery, several boat yards, a wind mill factory, and other mechanical and manufacturing establishments. "Stone's Harbor" is also here, considered as one of the safest and most commodious on the Ohio. It is the principal depot for the trade passing up and down the Beaver valley, and to and from the Western Reserve in the state of Ohio. Bridgewater and Sharon contain together about 110 dwellings, 4 taverns, 5 stores and t Episcopal [Methodist Episcopal] church.

Harris's Pittsburg Business Directory for 1837 has the following notice of Sharon:

Sharon is pleasantly located on the left bank of Beaver river, about a short mile from its confluence with the Ohio river, and about the same distance from the borough of Beaver, Bridgewater and Fallston. The leading road to Ohio passes through the town, and it is the residence of a number of very industrious, deserving citizens.

Directory of Sharon: Merchants-Robert Darragh, John Dickey. Tanners-Joseph and Samuel Moorehead, James Darragh. Boot and Shoemakers-J. T. Miller, S. Scott. Boat Builder-William Davidson. Blacksmith-Thomas McClelland. Innkeepers-J. Murray, J. Davis. Justice of the peace-R. A. Carlton. Clergyman-Jonathan Davis, Baptist.

The same Directory for 1841 gives the population of Sharon at about three hundred, and the following names of its business men, with their occupations, occur:

Patent tub and bucket maker-Giles Faris. Foundry, employing 10 hands, operated by Robert Darragh, J. S. Darragh, Mattison Darragh and S. H. Darragh. Gunsmith-A. H. Armstrong. Sawyers-George Ashael, David Camp. Carpenters-John Beam, Samuel Scoff, John Fisher, George Holdship, Hugh McGuire, Charles Rodenbaugh, Reuben Swagger, S. S. Webster, George Wray. Founder-Jeremiah Bannon. Molder-John Bannon. Book binder-John Browns, Tailor-it A. Carlton. Boat-Builders-John Curry, David McGuire, William Davidson. Tanner-James Darragh. Merchants-Robert Darragh and sons, J. S., Mattison and S. H. Pilot-George Evans. Shoemakers-J. A. Frazier, Wm. B. Miller, J. T. Miller and Thomas Scott. Teachers-Samuel Goss, Miss White. Engineer-John Jones. Cabinet and windmill makers-Samuel Jones, S. S. Webster. Miller-Jeremiah Jones. Tub and bucket m'f's-S. G. Long & Co., John Long. Mason-John Moffat. Blacksmiths-Thomas McClelland, John Noland. Bank Cashier-Hiram Stowe. Teamster-E. White.


The upper part of this settlement, that which was known as Sharon, was the scene of a part of Aaron Burr's operations in carrying on his great conspiracy for the establishment of an empire in the southwest. In 1805-06 Burr had a number of boats built in this place for use in his expedition down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, and it is believed that he himself at one time visited the spot to inspect the work.

The connection of Burr's enterprise with this place is well supported by the evidence of old and reliable citizens of Sharon and vicinity. It is said that Dr. McCaslin, director and surgeon of the proposed expedition, brought two men, Tyler and Smith by name, as business managers, and located here a boatyard about a mile and a half from the mouth of the Beaver. Amasa Brown, who game to Beaver County from Utica, N. Y., father of the lath Captain Perry Brown, and grandfather of Hon. Hartford P. Brown of Rochester, was the superintendent or master boat builder. The craft constructed for this expedition were similar in style to the old keel boats, except that they were covered over closely, making them weather proof. They were called by some " arks," and on account of their destination were also known as "Orleans Boats." The boats were from sixty to seventy feet in length, and were capable of holding a large cargo. The workmen employed in this enterprise were lodged in a house next to the " Old Red Front" mentioned on the preceding page. Payments for the work done were made promptly by drafts on New York, and all drafts were honored except the last one, which was presented sometime after the bubble of empire had burst. We can see no good reason for discrediting this story, the visit of Burr included.

Early in the forties many people in Sharon became interested in silk worm culture. The cocoons were sold mainly to the Harmony Society, which was then engaged in the manufacture of silk. A Cincinnati firm bought up most of the property, but as they failed soon afterward no care was taken of it, and the business was abandoned. Business of all kinds now began to center in the lower part of the community, or Bridgewater.

Bridgewater proper (including the consolidated towns) was incorporated as a borough under the Act of Assembly, dated April 1, 1834, by a decree of the Court of Quarter Sessions, April 2, 1835. August 1, 1859, by a decree of the Court ,of Quarter Sessions, the borough of Bridgewater took advantage of the provisions of the Act of April 3, 1851. March 6, 1840, it was decreed by the Court that the borough elections for that and the following years should be held on the last of March, which remained the time for that purpose until the adoption of the State law fixing the time for borough elections for February.

Among the men of prominence in the early days of Bridgewater was Joseph Hemphill, who also held many county offices. He was one of the largest landwners in this neighborhood, and kept a general store and tavern in Beaver. By him a part of the town of Bridgewater was laid out in 1818.

The land lying west of the mouth of the Big Beaver and running down to the Ohio River, known in early times as "Beaver Point," ands later as "Stone's Point," was bought as early as 803 by the Harmony Society. They built here a warehouse for storing goods received and shipped by river. This they sold before their removal from Butler County west to Indiana. It was used for the same purpose as late as 1840. On this point a number of town lots were sold by Stephen Stone, October 18, 1831, and he also sold lots on the island which formerly existed a short distance below the present dam and bridge, but which has been entirely obliterated by the floods. At this point in early times a good deal of boat building was done. In his sketch of Beaver County, James Patterson says:

Upon the locks of the canal entering the Ohio was built the first steamboat used for carrying passengers to run from Beaver to Pittsburg, by John Dickey and others, of a size which they calculated would pass through these locks. It did pass through once, but was found to be too tight a fit, consuming too much time in the transit. She ran for a time below the locks, and it being found that she was too small for that trade, she was sold to go down the river. The steamboats Beaver, Falisten and New Castle were quickly built and put in successful operation, landing for a time at that place and also at Rochester, where large warehouses were erected to accommodate the trade. Stone's Point was a stopping place for the steamboats passing up and down the river, and a place of resort for the citizens of Beaver and Bridgewater, where they assembled to hear the news from Pittsburg and other points, or to see the eminent persons who not infrequently traveled up and down the Ohio when it was a main route of transportation from the East to the West. A large hotel was built at the Point by Mr. Stone, which was much frequented in the days of steamboating.

Some of the packets of about the year 1840 were the Michigain, commanded by Captain Brice Boies; Lake Erie, No.12, Captain John Gordon; Fallston, Captain John Dickey; and the Beaver, Captain James Murray. Two packets left daily for Pittsburg when the stage of water permitted; and in times of low water, Rowan Bros. & Hoopes, who kept a livery stable on Water Street, furnished transportation by hacks.

About sixty years ago Bridgewater was a thriving business center. An old subscription book gives us the names of many prominent residents then carrying on its business, viz.:

S. T. Trimble, Esq., William Porter, Esq., Ephraim Jones, Dr. T. J. Chandler, Major Joshua Logan, Alex. McConahy, William McCallister, Daniel Shafer, Clarke & Co., John Torrance, J. M. Long, W. K. Boden, Joseph Shane, Thomas McKee, Milton Swager, Dr. J. C. Muller, Isaac Jones, D. D. Geren, Esq., John M. Norris, Samuel B. Wilson, John R. Day, John Heilman, it Callon, Robert Gilmore, George W. Fulton, Samuel G. Long, William Eakin, Stewart Rowan, Talbot T. Dugan, William Adams, Elihu Evans, Wm. Barnes, Jacob Hinds, Martin W. Small, Abram Shockey, Jr.. Greer McWilliams, John W. Hoops, P. Blake, W. W. Buchanan, Samuel McClure, Esq., R. C. Johnston, Samuel English, Samuel R. Dunlap, Col. J. W. Hemphill, Ankeny & Blake, J. M. Barbour, Johnston Small, John M. Sinclair, W. L, Hamilton, John Allison, Esq., Thomas Rowan, David Easton, Dr. S. Smith, Drs. J. H. & T. Dickson, John R. Blaine & Co., Wm. S. Adams, John Miller, Samuel Stewart, Ellis Howe, O. H. P. Swisher, David Woodruff. Peter Murry, W. B. Marlin, John S. Dickey, Milton Garen, Rev. George Plumer, J. H. Brown, K. Jackson & Son, H. Sutherland, J. W. Craft, Capt. W. B. Boies, Thomas Russell, Lehmer, Donavan & Co., James Porter, George Miller, J. M. Adams.

The steamboat landing was but a short distance below the dam. Lower Water Street was then the terminus of the Beaver Extension of the Erie Canal; and it was usual to see a long line of canal boats, strung from the west end of the bridge up the Beaver, loading and unloading freight. There were a number of forwarding and commission houses, prominent, those of F. J. & H. Clarke, McClure & Dickey, Ankeny & Boake. Dunlap's Hotel was on the corner of Water and Bridge streets, and on the opposite side, where the St. Cloud now stands, the Ankeny Hotel, afterwards kept by Chester W. Bloss, Rochester's postmaster at one time. All along Bridge Street, from the end of the bridge to the foot of the Beaver hill, were many business places, stores, groceries, bakeries, doctors' offices, marble, tin, tailor, and other shops.

Harris's Directory for 1841, when the place had about six hundred inhabitants, gives some of the above mentioned names, but additional ones also, and we transcribe it in full, as follows:

Inn keepers-Henry Ankeny (" Bridgewater House"); Chester W. Bloss ("Franklin House"); George Barnes ("Bridgewater Hotel"). Confectioners and Bakers-Ankeny, Peter & Co., William Graham, Daniel Barnes. Tailors-William Adams, Robert Hall, Thomas McCullough. Merchants-William Adams, William Brown, A. McWilliams, C. M. Stewart. Gentlemen-William K. Boden, John Javens. Collector of Tolls, P. C., David Boies. Cooper-Robert Bems.

Laborers-Matthias Beake, Lewis Creamer, Stephen Lindley. Physicians-James Brown (botanic), J..C. Mullen, J. C. Montague, S. Smith. Steamboat Captains-W. B. Boies, Henry Job. Dentist-Thomas J. Chandler. Cabinet makers-John Calhoun, Robert Gilmore, John T. Hough, David Johnston, Milton L. Swager, Martin Small. Commission merchants-Clarke & Co., John S. Dickey, McClure & Dickey. Ministers of the Gospel-N. Callender (M. E.), J. A. Davis (Baptist), William Stevens (M. E.). Grocers-William Eakin, Samuel English.

Boat Builder-George Fisher. Engineer-Joseph French. Stagedrivers-Gilbert Frazier, David Rowan, William Robinson. Steamboat Pilots-John Gordon, Thomas Javens. Francis Maratta. Butchers-Henry Goll, John A. Rowan. Painters-Milton Garew, William T. Lewis. Teacher-Samuel C. Golly. Coach makers-John Hannen, David Rowan. Stone mason-William Homer. Potter-William L. Hamilton. Clerk of Orphan's Court-William McCanister. Barber-F. Murrell. Justices of the Peace-William Porter, S. T. Trimble. Tin and coppersmiths. M. Norris. Fanning-mill maker-A. Purdy. Carpenters-Thomas Russell, William W. Randolph, Samuel Stewart, Boston Small. Wagon maker-John Stein. Collector of toll at bridge-Henry H. Smith. Blacksmiths-Archibald Stewart, David Stewart, Johnson Small. Lumberman-Andrew Stewart. Newspaper-Beaver County Patriot.

Town Officials-Burgess, F. J. Clarke; Council, John Cochran, A. Stewart, John Mullen, John M. Norris, Milton Swager-William K. Bolden, clerk.

About this period Bridgewater had what was, perhaps, the best drilled volunteer military company in western Pennsylvania. It was commanded variously by F. J. Clarke, W. L. Hamilton, Capt. John Steen, and Major Joshua Logan, the latter two soldiers of the War of 1812.

Forty years later (March 14, 1881) there was incorporated Military Hall, Company E, 15th Regiment, National Guard, with a capital stock of $r000, divided into 1000 shares of $1 each. This was to be quarters of the military organization called the Quay Guards. In 1887 the company was disbanded and the property sold.


The Darragh foundry was one of the early industries of Sharon, established in 1836 by Mattison Darragh. Two years afterwards his father, Major Robert Darragh, built the foundry which was operated under the name of Robert Darragh & Sons until 1842. At that time the style of the firm name became M. & S. H. Darragh. The plant included two structures in Bridgewater, the foundry 6o by 90 feet, and a warehouse 6o by 8o feet, and a machine shop and office in Fallston, 34 by 7o feet. For half a century this firm ran the business without a shutdown, lockout, or strike, meeting all their obligations promply. July 17, 1902, they sold out to Messrs. Michler & Beck, who now own and operate the plant.

What was probably the second attempt at pottery making in the Beaver valley was made in Bridgewater, about fifty or sixty years ago, by the Hamilton Brothers, Lute and James. They obtained their clay on the hill near the house of John Dickey, on the west side of Brady's Run, near its confluence with the Big Beaver. They made common stoneware, the chief trade being in crocks and jugs. Their goods were shipped by boat along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. About 1847-8 they ceased operations and removed to Greensboro, Greene County, Pa.

The Keytsone Bakery of Bridgewater was established forty years ago in Beaver by the late Frederick Walters, whose children have enlarged the plant until it is now the largest bakery in western Pennsylvania outside of Pittsburg and Allegheny. In 1884 the bakery was removed from Beaver to Bridge Street, Bridgewater, and was there conducted by the original proprietor, Frederick Walters, until the year 1892, when his eldest son, Charles A. Walters, assumed control. Under his management the business so increased that it was deemed best to secure a charter, which was done in 1901, under the name of F. Walters & Sons, Keystone Bakery.

Owing to the increasing demand for their goods, the plant on Bridge Street was found to be too small, and, in 1902, their present building on Market Street was erected, being equipped with all the best known modem machinery and appliances for the making of bread, cakes, doughnuts, and pies. They now run ten wagons in the Beaver valley, one in East Liverpool, and one in Coraopolis, and will soon have one in New Castle and in Ellwood City; and they now have forty two men and women in their employ.


Bridgewater has good common schools, housed in a substantial two story brick building. In addition to the common schools there is an institution which has been largely useful in the town, and which has done much for the youth of the entire county. This is the well known Peirsol's Academy, which is a private institution, established in 1874 by the late owner and principal, Prof. Scudder H. Peirsol. Mr. Peirsol was at one time county superintendent of common schools for Beaver County, and a teacher well and favorably known throughout the region. The buildings of the Academy are modest, but are, no doubt, endeared to many who have enjoyed the advantages of instruction which they have received there.


The Methodist Episcopal Church.-As stated in the chapter on the religious history of the county, the first church of the Methodist Episcopal faith in Beaver County was at Sharon (north Bridgewater), which was probably in existence as early as 182o or 1821. The next church of this denomination organized in the county was at Beaver. The third was the one at Bridgewater. Its date is about 1838 or 1839, in which latter year its present house of worship was erected. This house was built by Richmond Hart and Jacob Olmstead, under the direction of a board of trustees consisting of Archibald Stewart, Lewis Reno, Joseph Vera, Ephraim Jones, Thomas J. Chandler, C. M. Stewart, Benjamin Adams, and Robert Darragh. It has been twice remodeled, first in 1860, during the pastorate of Rev. W. F. Lauck; and again in 1884, when nearly $2000 were expended in repairing and beautifying it.

In 1845 this church became a regular station, with Rev. A. M. Brown in charge. August 12, 1845, the first quarterly conference was held in this church. The class leaders at this time were Samuel Beatty Wilson, William Adams (the local preacher), Andrew Stewart, Thomas J. Chandler, Samuel T. Trimble, and John A. Frazier. The stewards were Lewis Reno and John Allison.

Following is the list of pastors serving this church:
A. M. Brown, 1845-'46; Joseph Montgomery, 1847-'48; John Ansley 1848; M. P. Jamison, 1849-'50; Murray, 1851-'52; John Grant, 1853-'54; A. J. Rich, 1855-'56; R. Hamilton, 1857; J. D. Cramer, 1858; W. F. Lauck, 1859-'61: J. S. Bracken, 1862-63; J. D. Knox, 1864; W. K. Brown, 1865; Joseph Homer, 1866; it Morrow, 1867-'68; Joseph Hollingshead, 1869-'71; D. L. Dempsey, 1872-'74; D. A. McCready, 1875-'76; R. Hamilton, 1877-'78: D. L. Dempsey, 1879-'81; J. H. Henry, 1882-'83; Nathan Brown, 1884; J. W. McIntyre, 1885-'87; M. J. Montgomery, 1888; William Cox, 1889-'90; Richard Cartwright, 1891-'93; W. S. Cummings, 1894-'95; G. S. Holmes, 1896; O. A. Emerson, 1897-'98; J. B. Uber, 1899-1900; H. P. Johnson, 1903; J. E. Kidney, 1903-.

In 1866 the organization of the church in Rochester drew from this congregation about one half of its membership. At present it has on the roll 236 full members and 15 probationers, and maintains a flourishing Sunday school.

The First Presbyterian Church.-This church was organized as a result of a division in the congregation at Beaver. Rival candidates had been brought before the latter congregation in 1843 and 1844, during a vacancy in the pastoral charge following the resignation of Rev. A. B. Quay. These were Rev. John M. Lowrie and Rev. Isaac M. Cook. A majority favored the latter and, in June, 1844, a call for his services was presented by commissioners from the Beaver church to the Presbytery of Beaver. Presbytery declined to put the call into his hands, owing to the dissatisfaction of a minority in the church. In January, 1845, a petition was presented to the Presbytery, signed by many members, asking for the organization of a church in Bridgewater. This Presbytery granted, and at a meeting of the session of the church, held January 23, 1845, eighty one members and four ruling elders were dismissed from the Beaver church to unite with the new organization. The elders were James Jackson, John Carothers, David Eakin, and John Alcorn. The church at Bridgewater was organized by a committee of the Presbytery, January 29, 1845.

Rev. Isaac M. Cook served the church as stated supply from February 2, 1845, until the 14th of December of the same year, when he was installed as pastor, and he continued in the charge until his death on the loth of January, 1844. His pastorate was a very successful one, as during it a total of 39z members. most of them on confession, were added to the roll of the church,

Mr. Cook was followed by the Rev. James Smith, who was called, May 7, 1855. He remained about eighteen months, and Rev. David A. Cunningham assumed the pastoral charge, October 9, 1857. This relation continued until January 1, 1864, with an increase in the church membership of 251. March 1, 1864, Rev. James M. Shields was called, and began at once to labor in the field, but was not regularly installed until April 15th following. This pastorate lasted for about ten years, and was one of marked success, 436 additions being made to the church during its continuance. The succeeding pastors and their dates of service are as follows: W. W. Ralston, February, 1876-November, 1882; D. T. Carnahan, April 1883-October, 1886; W. J. McCrory, February, 888-April, 1892; S. A. Hunter, September, 1892-March, 1895; W. F. Gibson, May, 1895-June, 1900; E. L. McCartney, the present pastor, November, 1900-

Them present membership of this church is 166, and there are enrolled 125 Sunday school scholars. Its building is a substantial brick, which has been several times remodeled.

A Baptist church was formerly in existence in Bridgewater. Rev. Jacob Morris was the pastor, and a frame building was erected and dedicated, November 17, 1845, by Dr. Estep. The organization was gradually disbanded, its members going to other churches, many of them finding a home in the Baptist Church in Rochester. The building is now the property of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Bridgewater.

The A. M. E. Church of Bridgewater was organized about 1830 as a part of the Allegheny Mission. It was incorporated, June 14, 1886, by Andrew Tanner, Nelson Scroggins, Lewis Ash, Frank Smith, and Sidney Freeman. This congregation was located at first on the hill on Mulberry Street, but, as stated above, now owns a church building formerly erected by the Baptists. The A. M. E. Church is still in a thriving condition, Mr. Andrew Tanner, who is a respected citizen of Rochester, being one of its most earnest and devout members. The board of trustees, in May, 1900, was composed of the following persons: A. W. Tanner, Lewis Ash, George Webster, Charles H. Robinson, and Charles W. Cole.

The first pastor was Rev. Mr. Conn. At the date of the incorporation of the church it was served by Rev. William H. Brown, the pastor in charge in 1904 being Rev. Richard Brown.


The post office at this place is called West Bridgewater, in order to distinguish it from another Bridgewater in this State. It was established, April 1, 1879, the people of the town having previously to that time received their mail in Rochester. The order of service of those in charge of this office, with the dates of their appointments, is as follows: Miss Emma Moore, March 5, 1879; William A. Dickey, March 29, 1889; Miss Emma Moore, May 25, 1889; Louis F. Weinman, May 11, 1893; George M. Hemphill, May 17, 1897-93; James McConnel, 1904.


Denny McClure at an early day kept a public house in Sharon; he was succeeded by Robert Darragh, in the old frame building opposite the brick store. James Moore, who was the father in law of David Marquis of Beaver, kept a public house for some years near the fording, below the mouth of Brady's Run.

Bridgewater has at present one hotel, the St. Cloud, M. Walsh, proprietor. The Park Hotel, run by John Walsh, a brother of the preceding, has been closed for some years.


The population of Bridgewater in 1880 was 1112; in 1890 it was 1177; and in 1900 it had increased to 1347.

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