History of Hopewell Township, 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


In the readjustment of the territory of Beaver County on the south side of the Ohio River, made about 1812, when four townships were formed out of the original three, Hopewell was one of the new townships created.(1) Its territory was reduced in 1848 by the formation out of it of Independence township. Its bounding townships today are Independence, Raccoon, and Moon, and the Ohio River flows along its eastern border.

There are no streams of importance in this township. Raccoon Creek cuts through its western part in two loops, and a small run flows into the Ohio River at Aliquippa.

The general agricultural features of Hopewell are similar to those of the other south side townships. In its southeastern portion there are several small patches of the Pittsburg coal near the tops of some hills that rise six hundred feet above the Ohio River. The oil and gas development of the township is, however, its most important geological feature, and has been the source of abundant wealth to its citizens. The New Sheffield field is celebrated for its production of natural gas.

The population of the township in 1900, as shown by the United States Census, was 1346. Its taxables in that year were 462. It had 7995 acres of cleared land and 3984 acres of timber land. The total value of its real estate was $560,721, divided into $16,000 of real estate exempt from taxation and $544,271 taxable.

Previous to the erection of Independence township in 1848 the village of Independence was the voting place, and it was there that the militia held their musters. The earliest road through the township was the Brodhead Road, running from the Monongahela River through the township to Fort McIntosh. Later, a road was opened from Beaver to Burgettstown. Still later, a road was opened from near Service Church, passing near Independence, called the Georgetown and Pittsburg Road. Within a few years three other roads, all spoken of as Hookstown and Pittsburg grades, were opened. The southern one went by way of White's mill, with a cut off two miles north uniting with it, a mile west of Clinton. The middle road crossed Raccoon Creek, at Link's Fording, and the northern one at Wilson's or Bouck's mill.

The following items of information about some of the early settlers of this immediate neighborhood will be of interest. Thomas White, whose mill is named in the definition of the boundaries of the county at its erection, came from Ireland in 1770. A few years later he and his wife, Jane Martin, settled on a 400 acre tract, part of which was in this township. He was the father of the late John White, Esq., of Darlington. John Bryan settled on Service Creek. He was the father of the late Dr. Thomas Bryan, of New Sheffield, who was born in 1797. Aaron or Orion Aten (2) was a neighbor of Thomas White. Mention is made of the organization on his farm of Hopewell Church. George McElhaney was an Indian scout, and located on the lands where his sons, William and John and Thomas, and his son in law, Major Thompson, afterwards lived. William Maxwell owned the Shaffer and Gibb farm, Link's Fording Alexander Gibb, the great grandfather of John L. Gibb, obtained possession of one of these farms in 1794, and George Shaffer, the grandfather of Samuel Shaffer, of Shaffer postoffice, settled on the other in 1803. Mrs. James McCormick, long a member of Hopewell Presbyterian Church, was a daughter of Mr. Maxwell. Through her comes the statement that in early times there was a tilt hammer on the site of the Shaffer saw mill. Thomas Reed, (3) the grandfather of Rev. A. M. Reid, Ph.D., of Steubenville, Ohio, was a Revolutionary soldier, and settled on Raccoon Creek at the mouth of Service. David Patten, the grandfather of the late David Patten, Esq., of Shannopin, settled near Backbone, in the times of Indian raids. He and his family had frequently to flee to "Fort" Dillow, four miles southeast of what is now Frankfort Springs. William Gordon, of Gordon's Landing, settled first on the Eachel farm in 1784. Timothy Shane settled at or near Independence some time before 1790. In that year, when he and his family had taken refuge from the savages at Fort Beelor, his son, John, father of Isaac Shane. of Four Mile, was born. Among others who came to the neighborhood as early, or a little later, were Robert Agnew, William Sterling, Peter Shields, and Robert Beers.

Mt. Cannel Presbyterian Church. - The date of the organization of this church is not ascertainable, but it was very early. Among the first members were James Reed, Thomas Barnes, James Hutchinson, Adam Vance, the Kerrs, and the Todds.

An early name given to the church was "White Oak Flats," derived from its situation at that time in or near a forest of white oak timber. This was the mother church of North Branch Presbyterian congregation in Moon township. Its first building was a log structure, to which an addition of frame was afterwards made. This was destroyed by fire in 1837. Later a brick building was erected on the same site at a cost of $2000, and this was replaced in 1871, by a substantial frame, costing about $8000.

In order of time the pastors of this church have been. Andrew McDonald, ____ Frazier, ____ Rutherford, J. D. Ray, W. G. Taylor, D.D., P. J. Cummings, 1887-1898. The Assembly's Minutes report the pulpit of this church vacant 1899-1901.

Raccoon United Presbyterian Church. - This congregation was organized about the year 1823, and for a few years worshiped in the homes of the community and in the woods just in the rear of the present church building, where the customany "tent" was erected for the minister. In 1829 the erection of a church building was begun. It was situated in the east end of the plot of ground containing the present cemetery. A short time ago the old foundation of this building was unearthed in the digging of a grave. This church was replaced in 1867 by the present structure.

Among the first elders in this congregation were James McCormick and William McCune. No record is preserved of the names of the pastors until 1837, but since that time the ministers who have served it (the dates assigned being in some cases approximate), were the following: James Prestly, May, 1837, to September 8, 1840; Robert Armstrong, 1845-31; William L. Wilson, September, 1859, to April, 1862. James W. Witherspoon, at present pastor of the Fifth United Presbyterian Church of Allegheny City and Corresponding Secretary of the Freedmen's Board, was in charge of this church, in connection with Ohio congregation, from September, 1863, until December 9, 1866. James P. Sharp, now pastor of the "Wharton Square" congregation in Philadelphia, was installed at Raccoon, September 27, 1870, and resigned sometime in 1883. For three years -1870-1873- he was in charge of Raccoon and Ohio. Hugh W. Millin was called in 1884 and resigned about 1897. He is now pastor of Scottdale, Pa., United Presbyterian Church. M. D. Telford, the present pastor, began his work in 1900, and holds but the one charge.

Raccoon congregation numbers about I is, being much weakened by removals to the towns. The church is near the village of New Sheffield, in the midst of a good fanning community. Many worthy sons of this congregation have gone out from it into the ministry and other professions. The present session of the church is composed of John Anderson, George Hall, and Thomas Shannon.

The borough of Aliquippa was taken from this township.

On the bank of the Ohio, just above the borough, is a beautiful picnic ground, known as Aliquippa Park, with a station of the same name on the Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad.

Shannopin is a village of this township, with a station of that name on the Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railroad. It is a growing town, deriving its importance from the proximity of a rich field of natural gas and petroleum.

New Scottsville is a small hamlet near the center of the township, having not more than six or seven houses.

New Sheffield is a village and post office, located north of the center of the township. The postmasters have been as follows:

William M. Calvert, Jan. 9, 1879; Zachariah Hall,Sept. 9, 1885; Thomas S. Mercer, Dec. 7, 1888; William M. Calvert,Aug.13, 1889; Clarence E. Reed, July 17, 1893;Thomas C. Sterling, Sept.9, 1895; William M. Calvert, Sept. 23, 1897 and Elsworth W. Swearingen, May 5,1902

Ethel Landing is a post office in the southeastern corner 30 Hopewell township. Following are the names and dates of appointmen of its postmasters:

Frank R. Morris, June 28, 1886; Minnie B. McCandlish, Aug. 14. 189o; Minnie B. Kohl, June 1, 1891; Jennie Nye, April 16, 1892; Harry G. Bell, Aug. 8, 1894; Hugh C. Wright, Oct. 39, 1896; Hugh H. McCoy, Oct. To, 1899; Samuel M. Thompson. April 16, 1991.

Zeller post office, discontinued April 4, 1901, had two postmasters, Henry C. Zeller, appointed July 29, 1891; and Mary E. McCormick, appointed July 20, 1892.


Woodlawn is a beautiful little village situated on the south bank of the Ohio River and on the line of the Pittsburg & Lake Erie Railway, whose station here is called also Woodlawn. The small population of the village, and that of the surrounding country is composed of the best elements of Beaver County's yeomanry. From the earliest times an interest in education, religious and secular, has been taken here, a Sabbath school having been organized as early as 1810. Preaching services were held occasionally in the old saw mill prior to the erection of the academy building, and afterwards in the hall of that institution, which was used for this purpose from about 1879 on until the building of the Presbyterian Church.

The Presbyterian Church of Woodlawn. - As just stated, services had been held in the village for many years in an irregular fashion and at different places. These were conducted for the most part by Rev. P. J. Cummings, pastor of the Mount Cannel Presbyterian Church, but there was as yet no formal organization. This was effected, September 12, 1895, by a committee of the Presbytery of Pittsburg, consisting of Revs. J. M. Mercer and P. J. Cummings, together with elder W. H. Guy. The charter members were as follows: Eliza J. Barnes, Mrs. Jane Bruce, Vena Bruce, Lillie Bruce, John Cochran, Mary Douds, Martha Douds, Andrew McDonald, Jane H. McDonald, Stella A. McDonald, Theodosia McDonald, William McDonald, Mary McDonald, David A. McDonald, Marry F. McDonald, Eliza McCune, Maria McCune, Casalena McCune, Peter Maratta, Catherine Maratta, Martha Maratta, Marsh W. Maratta, William V. Maratta, James Maratta, Sarah J. Maratta, James C. Ritchie, William M. Ritchie, Martha V. Ritchie, Phoebe W. Ritchie, George J. Davis. Mary E. Davis, S. F. Sutton, Agnes J. Sutton, T. A. Torrence, Mrs. T. A. Torrence, P. H. Torrence, Vena Torrence, B. F. Swartz, Amanda Swartz, Martha Wilson, Mrs. Hannah Somerville, Robert Ritchie.

The elders elected were John Cochran, Robert Ritchie, and T. A. Torrence, Cochran alone accepting the office.

The cornerstone for the present building was laid in October, 1897, and the church was dedicated in April, 1898. It cost $3600. There are at present thirty five members. Rev. P. J. Cummings served the church as stated supply from its organization until April, 1903; since which time it has had supplies from the Presbytery.

Woodlawn Academy was chartered, April 7, 1879, by James C. Ritchie, C. I. McDonald, O. A. Douds, J. W. Fitch, Dr. William Woods, D. A. McDonald, Alfred Ritchie, Archy Lawson, Robert Brown, William M. Ritchie, Elery Douds, and Mary W. McDonald.

The capital stock consisted of 100 shares of $25 each total, $2500. The building, erected in 1879, is a two story frame, which cost $2500. The officers of the board of trustees were William Woods, M.D., president; C. I. McDonald, secretary; and Robert Brown, treasurer. For some years the academy has not been running, and the building has been used as a dwelling.

The New Sheffield Council, No. 153, J. O. U. A. M., was organized at Woodlawn, May 14, 1887, with thirty five members, and met in the Woodlawn Academy building.


Following is the list of postmasters at Woodlawn, with the dates of their appointment:

C. I. McDonald, Nov. 13, 1877; Robert W. Anderson, Oct. 26, 1880; T. A. Torrence, March 10, 1882; William Ritchie (did not qualify) June 8, 1886; James C. Ritchie, June 14, 1886; T. A. Torrence. July 13, 1889; John De Haven, April 913, 1892; Anna M. Wilkes, Sept. 20, 1894; Mattie V. Ritchie, June 30, 1896; Joseph M. Irons, Jan. 29, 1900; Fred. L. Todd, June 11, 1902.

1) The name Hopewell was probably taken from a Presbyterian church, organized about ten years earlier, on the farm of Orion Aten. Three or four years later the church was removed a mile farther south into Findlay townchip, Allegheny County. where the graveyard may still be seen.

2) This name Aten was formerly cuter and is now Eaton.

3) Thomas Reed was in the expedition, which attempted to take Quebec. He was buried in a field on the farm of the late John C. Reed in Hopewell townships. in August. agog. Rev. Dr. Reid and J. F. Reed, Es., of the Beaver bar. who is a great grandson of Thomas Reed, had the ashes of this old veteran removed and re-interred in the burial ground of Mt. Carmel Prrsbyterian Church.

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