HISTORY OF PERRY TOWNSHIP.
By John M. Beer.
THIS township lies in the extreme southern part of the county. It is bounded on the north by the Clarion River,
east by the Clarion River and Licking and Toby townships, south by Toby township and the Allegheny River, and west
by the Allegheny and Clarion Rivers. The township consists mainly of high ridges, broken by numerous small streams,
which empty their waters into the Allegheny and Clarion Rivers, and into Licking Creek. The principal small streams
are Freedom, Camp, Black Fox, and Troutman Runs. Perry township was originally a part of Armstrong county, and
was settled soon after the land office opened. Tradition says that settlement was made as early as 1800, and it
is a well proven fact that one Gideon Gibson settled, built a house, and made other improvements on what is now
known as the Allen McCall farm, and sold the same in 1802 to Mr. McCall, the ancestor of Allen. In 1804 John Black
built a house near the Licking-Perry line, east of C. Lobaugh's present homestead. In the same year John Wilson
built a house on the Robert Pollock tract, and William Miller built on the Yingling tract. Other early settlers
were Joseph Everett, Benjamin Coe, the Hagans and the Pollocks.
Industries.—The industries of the township are varied. The southern part is principally the site of the coal mining
interests, the north of the oil interest, and the other portions of the township are farming communities.
Along in the forties a company began the erection of a furnace in the southern part called Red Fox. This company
sold to a Welsh firm, who finished the work and called it Black Fox Furnace. This firm sold out to Vernum &
Adams, who became involved, and a disputed title threw the property into the sheriff's hands, who sold it, and
it was bought by Painter & Graff. This company made iron here till 1859. In the summer of 1860 William Moore
tried to start the furnance to use up some stock he had on hand, but in attempting to get up steam, the boiler
exploded, killing two men named William Kortz and Benjamin Kogan. Thus it has been truly said that "Black
Fox Furnace blowed out in 1860," at least it blew up. It never made iron after that event. In its best days
it made from fifteen to twenty tons of charcoal, or cold blast metal daily.
There have been a number of grist mills on the various streams in the township, viz.: Elliott's, at Matildaville,
built in 1843; Hagan's, on Hagan's Run; McGarrah's, on Rattlesnake Run; the Dan Snyder mill, now owned by Copes,
and the Shaw steam mill at Perryville.
In 1855-6 Elijah Davis built a saw mill near West Freedom, which is still in use. Copes have a saw mill near their
grist mill, and James Bell & Son have a steam saw mill on the Clarion River at Turkey Run Eddy, in connection
with which they have a large boat scaffold whereat many men find employment.
The A. V. R. R. — This important public highway passes through the township along the banks of the Allegheny. It
was built in 1866-67. Two important stations, Parker and West Monterey, are on the township's seven miles of river
front over which the road passes. In the early history of the road Bear Creek was also an important station. At
Upper Hiliville there is also a station.
Oil Wells. — In 1867 oil was found in a well at East Parker just above the railroad station. It was put down by
James E. Brown, and is still producing. It is said that this well during its twenty years' existence has produced
$90,000 worth of oil. The "Piper" well has been producing for fifteen or sixteen years, and still yields
twelve barrels daily. From 1873 to 1876 great excitement prevailed about the Logue farm development, and quite
a town sprang up on that tract. The Gailey fram, near Perryville, produced a great deal of oil, as did also the
Fox farm, on the Clarion. The production at present has fallen off very much, and many of the oil kings are poorer
than they were before the excitement.
Iron Tanks. — With the advent of oil came the building of tanks. At first shipments were made entirely by rail,
but now it is principally by piping. Four or five iron tanks were built at Perryville in 1873. Now there are about
forty, all the property of the United Pipe Lines, which is only another name for the National Transit Company,
or Standard Oil Company. The capacity of each tank is about 35,000 barrels. The township authorities assess these
tanks for local purposes. It is said the tax on each tank amounts to $150 per year, $50 each for school tax, poor
tax, and cash road tax.
Schools. — Little definite information has been obtained by the writer relative to the establishment of schools
in the township. There are at present fourteen schools (twelve houses) in the township. A graded school of two
rooms is located at West Freedom, and a similar school at Perryville. The other schools are the Neff, Logan, Pine
Hollow, Dutch Hill, West Monterey, Black Fox, Logue Farm, Pollock, McKibben and Fox. The latter was established
in 1854. The West Freedom Academy building was erected in 1860-6. It was not completed when the war broke out.
The academy has ceased to exist from all appearances, but it left the names of the following gentlemen who conducted
the institution: Prof. Hosey, Rev. Burton, Prof. Green, Prof. A. S. Elliott, A. J. Davis, Prof. P. S. Dunkle, Prof.
J. V. McAninch, and Prof. Lynn.
One of the old time teachers of the township, Mr. James C. McKibben, still takes an active part in educational
Many of the teachers who have taught in the Perry schools, have become men of affairs in the world. The following
names will be recognized by many: David Latshaw, J. W. Dunkle, P. S. Dunkle, G. G. Sloan, W. A. Beer, A. M. Neely,
O. E. Nail, J. G. Anderson, H. H. Pollock, H. P. Elliott, C. W. Elliott, A. S. Elliott, C. C. Poling, George W.
Mathews, J. B. Bollman, J. C. Bryner, W. W. Wolfe, and others. This list includes two county superintendents, and
all the others have in some way been prominently before the people, two having been members of the Legislature
at the same time, one a presiding elder in the M. E. Church, and one led a company from this county through the
Churches. — Concord Presbyterian Church is the oldest in the township, having been organized in 1807. The Methodist
Church building at Perryville and the Presbyterian Church building at the same place, were erected in 1871. The
congregations, however, were previously organized. For many years the Methodist congregation at West Freedom worshiped
in a church on the hill east of the town, just above the cemetery, and later in the old academy. In 1876 the present
fine structure was erected. There is also an M. E. Church at West Monterey, and a Lutheran Church at Dutch Hill.
The M. E. Church also holds service at intervals at the Logue farm and at Pine Hollow. At one time it had a class
meet in the Pollock school house. The West Freedom and Perryville M. E. congregations belong to the Callensburg
Benevolent Societies. — The I. O. O. F. has two lodges in the township—one at West Monterey and one at West Freedom.
Formerly West Freedom also had an encampment, but it is now defunct.
Villages. — There are no incorporated boroughs in the township; but West Freedom, West Monterey and Perryville
are towns of importance, and several other small villages such as Matildaville, Hagantown, and Dutch Hill add to
the population. West Freedom is situated on the Parker-Clarion road, midway between Parker and Callensburg. The
first lots were sold by Joseph Yingling in 1848. The first buildings erected were a dwelling house and a blacksmith
shop, by John Baker, in 1848. The first merchants here were Phipp & McGuff. Later came H. W. Jordan and George
Yingling in the general merchandise line, and they are still in business here. S. S. Jordan opened up a drug and
variety store, and did business till only a few years ago. He was also postmaster, one of the few Democrats who
held such a commission under a Republican administration. John Coon, E. Slaughenhaupt, H. Y. Howe, and others did
business here. At present S. K. R. Smith does business at the place once occupied by Coon. He is also postmaster.
The fact that Jordan, a Democrat, held the office under a Republican administration, is offset by Smith, a Republican,
holding it under a Democratic administration. Smith was commissioned by President Arthur's postmaster general,
and has not been removed. The town also has a millinery store, a harness shop, two blacksmith shops, and a carpenter
shop, also two hotels. West Monterey, on the A. V. Railroad, is a thriving town. It is chiefly maintained by the
coal industry. The Company's store, Steel's furniture store, Giles's general store, and other places of business
meet the wants of the people.
At Perryville there was quite a town during the excitement, and a large amount of business was done; but at present
the general store of J. L. Fox, the grocery store and meat market of H. M. Best, the millinery store of Mrs. Lash,
and the blacksmith shop of Miles Baker are the only places of business. The postoffice (Pollock) is kept at Parker
Station by S. C. Burkholder, also a Republican. Perryville was laid out in 1879 by Callen Reichard.
Hagantown was settled by Paul Scheuster, who had an ashery there.
Matildaville was settled by Isaiah Elliott. Martin's Ferry connects Perry and Richland township. A bridge was once
built across the Clarion at this point, but it never was opened to traffic, and soon fell down.
Public Officers. — Benjamin Miller was once county commissioner; J. B. Watson, prothonotary; Alexander McCall,
associate judge; S. D. Sloan, commissioner from 1875 to 1878 and O. E. Nail, register and recorder from 1875 to
Miscellaneous Items. — The prosperity of the township is largely due to the energy of such citizens as the McCalls,
Stewarts, Pollocks, Terwilligers, Jordans, Sloans, Yinglings and many others whose names call up the best memories
of the general thrift of the people.
In 1840 the population of the township was 1,122.