HISTORY OF FARMINGTON TOWNSHIP.
FARMINGTON is the largest township in the county, containing over forty square miles, about one fourteenth of
its whole area. It is pre eminently the lumber region of Clarion county, but is fast being stripped of its wealth
of pine and hemlock, thus compelling the inhabitants to bestow more attention to agriculture. Perhaps nature endowed
it with this abundance of wood as a compensation for depriving it of mineral carbon. It enjoys the distinction
of having the most timber and the least coal of any township in the county.
Farmington township is abundantly watered by Paint Creek, Toby Creek, and Tom's Run on the south; and Coon Creek
and Walley's Run on the north. In its northeastern and most elevated quarter the plateau or Big Level which characterizes
it, is most noticeable. This in many parts presents the rare spectacle of a perfect level, without any familiar
Clarion county hills climbing to the horizon.
Tom's Run was so called after a Cornplanter of that name who used to encamp on its banks. This camp was situated
on the old Samuel Boyd farm, and in 1837 it still remained in a state of good preservation. The course of this
run was a favorite route for the Indians in traveling from the northern forests to Jefferson county.
The township (first called Deer) as erected in 1806, by the Venango county commissioners, Samuel Dale, John Andrews,
Thomas Beard, was entirely different in scope from the present Farmington. Its northern boundary then was an extension
of the present north line from warrant 3337 west to the continuation of the Paint Elk boundary, which was its western
limit as far south as the tract line bisecting Knox township. That line to its end, thence north to the northeast
corner of tract No. 3681, thence by its northern boundary and its prolongation east to the northeast corner of
3682, formed its southern limit. Its eastern was the north and south line extending thence to warrant 3337, the
place of commencement.
So it may be seen that the original township embraced the western half of the present, together with the northern
half of Knox, and the eastern two thirds of Washington. The remaining half of the present Farmington was occupied
by Toby's Creek township. It will be perceived that the outlines of the old Farmington township have undergone
extensive changes, the most important, that of striking out Toby's Creek township and annexing it to Farmington,
as well as other alterations, occurred while they formed a part of Vetnango county. Its subsequent curtailment
by the erection of Washington and Highland townships, was in Clarion county.
Farmington township, being the most remote from the bases of the civilization of this county, and lying off the
State road, was the last to be settled. Its settlements may be described as three, viz., Scotch Hill, Tylersburgh,
and the Wilderness: we will take them up in their order.
About 1815 James McNaughton moved out from the Highland homestead and commenced an improvement on a spot immediately
southwest of the village of Scotch Hill, and now the property of D. Steiner.
James Anderson, a native of Scotland, who had married a daughter of Alexander McNaughton, about 1820 cleared a
little farm, and settled alongside of his brother in law. Anderson was a man of broad Caledonian accent, marked
personality, and with a great deal of native force, which only lacked culture to have given him a more than local
distinction. Joseph Porter and William Townley came to that vicinity soon after Anderson.
In 1836 George Alsbach, a native of Union county, purchased the Anderson tract for $1,500, and removed to it with
his family from Shippenville. The surrounding country north, east, and south was a howling wilderness. Mr. Alsbach
soon replaced the two log cabins, and the half barn of the same material, "which required props to keep it
from falling," by more comfortable and modern frame dwellings. In the spring of 1851 Mr. Alsbach laid out
a portion of his farm in lots and called the prospective village Scotch Hill, to commemorate its former occupant,
Anderson, and his neighbor, McNaughton. At the same time he erected a storehouse and opened a store in it, making
the first sale July 1, 1851. In the following October a mail line was established between Clarion and the new village.
John Cook, on the east at the mouth of Tom's Run, and David Gilmore, on the west at Little Toby, were pioneer lumber
and mill men.
Nicholas Waley, John Moore, and David Reyner were the pioneers of the western and Tylersburgh section. The two
former, brothers in law, came from Madison township in 1824, and David Reyner in 1828, from the present Washington
township. He was originally from Lancaster county, and as a member of the Lancaster land syndicate had acquired
large possessions in Washington and Farmington townships. He resided on the farm now owned by Mrs. C. Downing,
a mile and a half south of Tylersburgh. Waley and Moore settled in the same vicinity, a little further south, and
formed the advance posts of the Vogelbaclier settlement. Their farms now belong to their descendants.
Further north the earliest were Robert Killen, Henry Cornish, John Walters, A. J. Anderson, Jesse G. Butler, and
William Chambers, all coming in the thirties and forties. William Chambers (formerly of Shippenville) owned a large
tract of land in northwestern Farmington, and in 1844 he plotted a town on it, calling it Tylersburgh, after President
Tyler, then at the head of the government, and whom Chambers greatly admired.
In 1831 the solitude of the wilderness in the northeastern portion of the township was broken by James Black, who
came from Sugar Creek, Armstrong county, and settled on the homestead near North Pine Grove. The country abounded
in game of all sorts, deer, bears, wolves panthers, wild cats, wild turkeys, and pigeons, besides the smaller species.
The streams were alive with trout. Within a year or two came his brothers, John and Patrick Black; Thomas Meagher,
Charles and Dennis Boyle, David McDonald, Thomas Walley, Robert and Archibald Haggerty, David Griffin, Henry McNairney;
soon after these, William Wilkinson and Arthur McCloskey; the latter, with his family, came from Philadelphia in
1835. These settlers were all Catholics, the majority of them from Butler and lower Armstrong counties.
They erected a hewed log church on land bought from the Binghams and adjoining the McCloskey farm, in 1836; but
before it was completed a severe storm blew it down. No church was then built till 1848, when a frame church was
erected near the site of the present one. In the mean time Father O'Neill, of Sugar Creek, and a few other priests
attended the spiritual wants of the settlers at their cabins. In 1868 the present commodious brick edifice was
commenced, under the instigation of Father Koch. It was completed in 1871. There was no regular resident priest
till the present one, Rev. P. Cosgrove, was appointed; the church being visited by the various missionaries who
attended the Catholic congregations in the county. Under Father Cosgrove's pastorate a neat parsonage was built,
and the old church converted into a school, taught by the Benedictines. "Lepanto" is the name of the
church and settlement, as designated by the bishop of the diocese. The now populous, although wide spread, settlement
presents now well cleared and tilled arms The country is well opened by rail and wagon roads. The conveniences
of life are easily within reach, and the name "Wilderness," as applied to it, has lost its significance.
Tylersburgh is a pleasant village of about two hundred inhabitants. It contains a Presbyterian Church, which was
organized in 185o. Leeper, or Tylersburgh Station, two miles distant from the village, is the most important commercial
and shipping point in the township. It derives its name from Mr. Charles Leeper, of Leeper, Arnold & Co., whose
lumber siding intersects with the P. and W R.R. here.
Scotch Hill has two large general stores, and its population is one hundred and fifty. Vowinckel, the site of Vowinckel's
mills, is a promising little railroad station in the extreme northeast corner of the township; it took its rise
simultaneously with the mill in 1883. Black's Corners (North Pine Grove P. 0.) is a hamlet near its eastern Forest
county line. Cooksburg lies partly in Clarion county, at the mouth of Tom's Run. In 1850 the census of Farmington
township was 1,124; in 1870, 1,642, and in 1880, 2,185.