History of Mill Creek Township, Pa.
From: History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania
Edited by: A. J. Davis
Published By: D. Mason and Co., Syracuse 1887
HISTORY OF MILL CREEK TOWNSHIP.
MILL CREEK township is situated in the eastern part of Clarion county, being, as shall be seen by the boundary,
one of the border townships. Its shape along the northern, western, and southern sides is very irregular, its natural
boundaries being Clarion River, and Big Mill Creek. The political boundaries are Jefferson county on the east,
Clarion township on the south, Highland township on the west, and Farmington on the north.
About fifty years ago the first settlements were made in Mill Creek township. Among the earliest settlers were Solomon Terwilliger, Neil Daugherty, Henry Potter, Robert McCaskey, Thomas Johnson, John Fisher, Martin McCanna, Samuel Thompson, and Peter McLaughlin. These men, or their parents, generally came from the eastern part of Pennsylvania, and were chiefly agriculturists. Few, if any, of these first settlers are now living; their bodies lie buried in the burial grounds of the above named churches. The early settlers of Mill Creek did not have to undergo as many hardships as did the settlers of many of her sister townships, from the fact that they were not so much isolated from neighbors. Their nearest neighbors—the settlers of Clarion township—were but from three to five miles distant At that time Mill Creek was nearly all a vast forest, being covered by trees of prodigious size. The settlers, in order to prepare the soil for farming, were compelled from the beginning to hew down these monarchs of the forest, thus "clearing" the land of all trees. The process of "clearing," as it is termed, was attended by much hard labor, and was done about as follows: The trees and brush were all felled, being chopped off about two feet from the ground. After lying till they became dry, they were set on fire, and all the brush and small wood would be consumed, while the surface of the large trunks would only be charred and turned black. These were then split into rails for the purpose of "fencing in" the clearing. The fences built were called "worm fences," and are still used to the exclusion of wire or board fences. The process of clearing farms is still carried on in many parts of the township. The first houses and barns erected were built of logs, some hewed, and others left round, the bark only being taken off, but these ancient buildings have nearly all given way to more modern frame structures, many of which are very comfortable and well built. Here and there may still be seen a log house or log barn, but they are disappearing fast, and ere long not one will remain standing to remind the people of earlier days. From the period of the first settlement to the present time, the township has been gradually changing from a vast forest to a territory abounding in beautiful farms and pleasant houses. The population has gradually increased till it now numbers about seven hundred. The people are industrious. The survivors of the late war, residing within the township, have, with their comrades of Clarion township and Strattanville borough, organized a G. A. R. Post, located at Strattanville. Lumbering has been extensively carried on for a score or more of years, and it is the leading industry today. There have been erected four saw mills, three boat scaffolds, and one stave mill, all of which are yet in active operation. During the earlier stages of the lumbering business the majority of the lumber then exported was felled, and floated down the Clarion and Allegheny Rivers to Pittsburgh, Pa., in log rafts. This is still carried on to a certain extent, but the majority of lumber now sent to market is first sawed into boards, shingles, etc., and then floated in rafts. At the boat scaffolds are built boats, such as are used to float coal on the Ohio. and Monongahela Rivers. The principal amount of lumbering within the township is carried on along the stream known as Mill Creek. This stream is some twenty five miles in length. It rises in the northwestern part of Jefferson county, Pa., and flows westerly, emptying its waters into the Clarion River, about forty miles from its mouth. In 1840 Algernon S. Howe was the owner of nearly all the timber land of the township. About this time James W. Guthrie, and others, secured by warrant and purchase a large tract, but the main body fell into the hands of Madison, Burnell & Co., of Jamestown, N. Y., in the year 1853. The above named gentlemen have all passed away, and the present owners—Messrs. Marvin & Rulofson — carry on an extensive business, their mill, at the mouth of Mill Creek, being pronounced by competent judges, one of the best in the United States. The mill is in size forty by sixty five feet, and was first designed as a gang mill, but in 1883 it was changed to a circular, with all modern improvements complete. Logs designed to be sawed are driven down the stream, and halted in the pond by means of press booms; they are then floated into the mill in a flume, six by thirty feet, the water being about two feet beneath the floor of the mill. A chain passing under the logs is drawn up by friction wheels, and the logs are rolled on to the skidway and in reach of the log turner, which receives its power from two steam cylinders. These cylinders work the turner very much like a human arm, the different motions being given it by gently handling a lever. The power of this turner is simply wonderful. The logs are now on the carriage of one of Stearns & Co's. best mills. This carriage is propelled by a steam engine, and is also controlled by gentle pressure on a lever. The saw is sixty inches in diameter, and has a speed of six hundred revolutions a minute. Two of Stearns & Co's. flue boilers, five by fourteen feet, furnish the power to the saw and its accompanying machinery. As each board is cut it drops on to a transfer, from which the edger receives it, and by easily adjusted saws, each piece is neatly squared up, and is then placed on a trimmer, which trims the ends and passes it to the cars, which have the use of forty rods of iron railing for distributing the boards to the piling and rafting grounds. The trimmer also cuts up all the refuse, and after the lath stuff is selected, the debris is quietly carried by a chain carrier to its final rest — a constantly burning fire. The saws are all kept in order for work by means of a self saw sharpener. So complete are the arrangements of the mill that when cutting at the rate of forty thousand feet per day, the labor of the employees is simply a matter of careful attention, and not a back aching, muscular service, as in days of old. The piling grounds are neatly wharfed, and rafting made easy by slack water and sluices arranged for the reception of rafts, and the easy handling of the same.