History of Decatur, Pa.
From: Clearfield County, Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens
By: Roland D. Swoope, Jr.
Published By Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., Chicago

 

DECATUR TOWNSHIP

This township was formed in 1828, by dividing Bradford township, and was named in honor of admiral Stephen Decatur. The township is bounded on the north by Boggs and Morris townships, on the east by part of the dividing line between Centre and Clear- field counties, on the south by Osceola Borough and Woodward township and on the west by Woodward township.

In the territory embraced in this township was one of the earliest settlements made in the county, Abraham Goss having located in the year 1797, at what is now called "Stump Town." There are also a number of coal operations in this township, also some well cultivateci farms.


The population of the township, according to the census of 1910 was 3,562.

This township, covered with magnificent forests of pine and hemlock, early attracted the attention of settlers. The greater part of the lands were owned by Hardman Philips, an Englishman, who settled in and gave his name to Philipsburg, a town in Centre county, where he also owned thousands of acres.

Mr. Goss, above mentioned as the pioneer settler at Stump Town, had a large family of thirteen children, twelve of whom reached maturity and assisted in settling the township. His son, Abram, was living in 1887 at Osceola Mills, surrounded by numerous descendants.

Valentine Flegel came about 1800, his farm occupying the site subsequently occupied by the Steiner estate. He was an M. E. local preacher, and held services at "Goss's" as early as 1815.

A man named Crane bought a tract of land from Mr. Philips and established a colony of negroes, but the settlement was a failure, owing to the ravages made among these dusky sons of toil by disease.

Elijah Reece, an Englishman, settled on lands subsequently occupied by "Victor No. 3 colliery," coming in 1816, accompanied by his young wife. They had three sons and two daughters, one of the latter marrying Rev. Harvey Shaw, a Presbyterian missionary to Mexico. Mrs. Reece died in 1873 and her husband in 1883.

Other settlers were James Reams, who lo= cated at the head of coal run in 1834; Henry Kephart, who located two and a half miles north of Osceola Mills, before 1803, and who had a numerous family; John Crowell, whose farm was absorbed by the Logan and Logan Ridge collieries; and others, some of which settled in that part of Decatur which afterwards became Woodward township, their names being given in the remarks on that township.

The religious and educational opportunities of these pioneer settlers were very limited. Mention has already been made of the services held by Rev. Valentine Flegel. The second son of old Henry Kephart (Henry, Jr.) was ordained a minister in the United Brethren church, and acted as missionary for that denomination for a number of years. His sons all became ministers and one a bishop.

For a long time the township had but two schools. What was probably the first was built near the spot subsequently occupied by the residence of Andrew Kephart, and Abram Goss, Jr., was the teacher. Many stories have been told of his prowess with the rod, and the story tellers themselves were not slow to admit that they deserved most of the thrashings they got. The other early schoolhouse was built on the Crane farm. The Crane and Goss farm houses were about the only houses in the southeast part of the township as late as the year 1860. A sketch of Chester Hill borough may be found in the suceeding chapter of this volume.

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