James Rea, the first settler of what is now Knox township, moved in 1819 to the land later owned by his sons,
and thus became the first settler of the territory now embraced in Jordan township. He was the only son of Samuel
Rea, who came from Ireland, and settled in York county, Pa. Samuel, his eldest son, married Lydia Ricketts, of
Mount Pleasant, and located on a farm in Knox township, of which place he was a citizen until his death, January
5, 1887; Nancy married John Patterson; Thomas married Hannah Bloom; James married Jane, daughter of John Dillen,
of Mount Pleasant. She died and he then married Mrs. Eliza Corrigan, of Columbia, Pa.
About 1820 John Swan, Sr., a forgman by trade, left his home in New York State, where he married Miss Phoebe Tubbs,
and started to the State of Ohio. He stopped a while near where Tyrone now is, on account of some of his party
being sick, but finally concluded to come over into what is now Clearfield county, where land was cheap. Accordingly,
in company with Truman Vitz, he came into what is now Jordan township, cutting his way through the forest all the
way from Tyrone. He and Mr. Vitz purchased four hundred and thirtythree acres of land, the same land constituting
the beautiful farms later owned by his son John, and Major D. W. Wise. Some time after this Mr. Vitz moved to Meadville,
Pa. Mr. Swan commenced the manufacture of lye soon after his arrival. Kettles holding twenty barrels were produced
at Pittsburgh, Pa. Large quantities of wood were cut and burned, the ashes were leached, and the lye boiled down
and shipped in barrels down the river on rafts. This made a market for wood ashes, and his neighbors for some distance
around hauled their ashes to this immense lye factory. This was soon improved upon by building a large oven, and
concentrating the liquid by intense heat into potash, which answered the same purpose, and brought better prices,
with a reduced cost of transportation. He also erected machinery for grinding rock oak bark for tanning purposes.
This he boxed and shipped to Philadelphia on an ark, receiving sixty dollars per ton for it. He also turned his
attention to agriculture, which supplied the family with products of that kind, although in a commercial way it
did not pay, for wheat brought only forty-five cents per bushel. Mr. Swan died here, and was buried at Zion Cemetery.
Anson, the eldest son, for whom Ansonville was named, was never married, but lived with his friends at Ansonville,
until his death in 1883; Sophronia married William Hartshorn, who is now dead: Harvey moved to Ohio and marned
there. He died in 1857. Eliza married a Mr. Winslow of New York State. John married Catherine Williams, a sister
of David Williams. and they resided on the old homestead about one mile from Ansonville. Henry married Lucinda,
daughter of Benjamin Bloom, of Pike township. He kept the only store at Ansonville for many years. He was justice
of the peace for many years. Mrs. Swan died at her home in Ansonville, in 1883. Harriet, a twin sister of Henry,
married Edmund Williams. They moved to Illinois, where she died in 1867.
James McNeel emigrated from County Tyrone, Ireland, when about twenty-one years old, and settled in Sinking Valley,
where he married Elizabeth Crawford, of that place. He stayed there a short time, and then came to Jordan township,
and purchased three hundred acres of land, the same being later owned by his sons James, Joseph and Isaac, his
daughter Mary, his grandson Taylor McNeel and John Mays. The children of the first wife were Nancy, who married
James Ramsey, and moved to Illinois; Thomas who married a Miss Russell, died in Illinois. Ann married William Atleman,
and moved to Centre county, where she died. Ellen married William Speer, and lived in Johnstown until her death;
Marshall, the youngest, died in California in 1883. His second wife was Mary Ricketts, daughter of Isaac Ricketts,
of Mount Pleasant, and to them eight children were born. Eliza, the eldest, married John Hunter, and lives on a
farm near Ansonville; John married Mary Jane Glasgow, of Blair county. James G. married Miss Jane Lynch, of Pike
township. Joseph married Mary Jane McCreight. Mary married Frank McCormick, of Ireland. Lydia married Lance Root;
both are dead. Isaac married Mary Jane Davis, of Mount Pleasant, Pa. Caroline died when twelve years old. The parents
lived to a good old age, the mother surviving her husband several years, died at the old homestead about 1883,
and was buried by his side in Fruit Hill Cemetery.
David Williams came here from Centre county in April of 1833. He purchased the large tract of land which was later
owned by his sons, James G., and William, and Martin, Nolen, and Mrs. Green, of Ferguson township, from Shoemaker
and Irvin. He built a shanty on the Spring Run, below the present residence, in the thick woods. He built a grist-mill
on the run the same year, which was one of the first mills in this part of the county. The millwrights were Joseph,
Michael, and Silas Solly. The bolting-cloth for this mill was purchased at Lewistown, Pa., and brought here by
private conveyance. Mr. Williams also turned his attention to farming and improved the land mentioned above, but
still kept the mill running until it was worn out. His widow, who was, previous to her marriage, Mary Glenn, survived
him many years, living with her son William, who cultivated the farm. James G. married Matilda, a daughter of Alfred
D. Knapp, who improved the farm now owned by James McKeehen, and after ward moved to Iowa, where he now lives.
Martha married Alexander Henderson, and went to Illinois. Lucinda, John, and Austin are dead.
Robert Patterson came with his parents from Ireland and settled first in Virginia. From there they moved to Maryland,
and afterward to Centre county, Pa., where he married Elizabeth McCormick. He then came to what is now Clearfiekl
county, and lived for some time in Lawrence township. From there he moved to Beccaria, afterwards Jordan township,
probably about 1823 or ‘24, and took advantage of the offer made by Morgan, Rawles. and Peters, of fifty acres
gratis. by buying the other fifty acres of a hundred acre tract, at four dollars per acre. The land in that vicinity
is yet known as “Morgan’s Land.” Mr. Patterson possessed a knowledge of books, as well as of clearing land and
cultivating it, and put his talents to use by farming during the summer season and teaching school in the winter.
Of his children, Agnes married Thomas Witherow, and lived to an advanced age. Jane married Christian Erhard, and
died in 1882 at her home in New Miliport, leaving several sons and daughters. Joseph married Margaret Erhard, a
sister of David, and lived on his farm in Ferguson township until his death, about 1884. His widow died in 1887,
at the home of her daughter, Mrs. David Johnston, at the age of eightyfour years. Robert married Catherine, daughter
of John Thomson, Sr., of this township. John married Nancy, daughter of James Rea, mentioned elsewhere. She died
in the early eighties, and he married Margaret, daughter of John Hunter, of Jordan township. She also died, and
he then married Mrs. Nancy Bright. James married Rebecca McCormick, of Armstrong county, and lived on a farm in
Beccaria township. Jemima married James Wilson and lived in Jordan township.
Abram Bloom came from Northampton county, N. J., to Northampton county, Pa., and froni there moved to Jordan township
in 1831. He located on the land now known as the Lafayette Bloom Farm, near Fruit Hill church. He lived here a
few years and returned to Northampton county. Several of his children remained in the township.
The Johnstons in this township are descendants of Robert and James, two brothers, who came to this country from
Scotland seventy-five or more years ago. Robert settled on the tract later owned by his son David. Robert M. married
Priscilla Wise, a sister of ex-Treasurer D. W. Wise, of this township. John C. was in the mercantile business in
Ansonville for many years. His first wife was Christina Curry, who died about 1882. He later married Mrs. Martha
Witherow, widow of Henry Witherow, and daughter of Frederick Shoff, of Beccaria township. He was in partnership
with John McQuilkin in a meat market in Ansonville. David married Martha Patterson, and lived on the old homestead.
James married Mary Jane, daughier of John Witherow, of Knox township, and lived on his farm near Ansonville. Mary
married Reuben Caldwell, and lived in Knox township. Belle married Isaac Bloom, and Elizabeth married Samuel Witherow,
both well-to-do farmers of this township. Mark was killed by a tree while chopping a clearing. William was killed
by a runaway horse while returning from Charles Lewis’s smith shop. James Johnston located near Johnston’s school-house.
Some thirty years ago he attended a meeting of the session at the Fruit Hill Presbyterian church. He had intended
to go home by way of John Thomson’s, having some business with Mr. Thomson, but for some reason changed his mind
and concluded to go over a day or two later. He. was riding horseback, and just after he passed the residence of
R. M. Johnston, a dead chestnut tree that stood by the road side fell, mashing the horse and his rider to the ground.
Two sons, James, Jr., and Robert survived him, and one daughter, Mrs. John Glasgow, of Glen Hope.
John Thomson, Sr., came here from Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1832. He purchased land and made an improvement not far
from where Ansonville is now located. Soon after settling here- he wrote to his only son, John, who had preceded
him to this country about two years, and was living at Pottsville, Pa., that the Carsons wanted to sell their improve
ment. Young John at once packed his effects, came to Jordan and purchased the Carson place. He married Rebecca,
daughter of Thomas Lord, and settled down to improve the farm, where he spent the remainder of his life. They had
Ansonville is pleasantly located on the elevation or dividing ridge between the headwaters of the South Fork of
Little Clearfield Creek and Potts Run. The land now occupied by the village was once owned by the Swans, and the
place was named in honor of Anson Swan, a deaf and dumb brother of John and Henry Swan. The population of the place,
including Strawtown or Bretzinville, is over three hundred. The first building in the place was built by a Mr.
Singer, and was at first occupied as a store by John Miles and James Foutz.
In 1853 Henry Swan built a large storeroom on the corner opposite the Ansonville Hotel, and occupied it as a general
store until 1874. Soon after this it burned down, and the lot remained vacant until 1884 or 1885, when Dr. A. E.
Creswell purchased it and built the large store-rooms and dwelling later purchased by C. D. McMurry, and occupied
by him as a general store, and by H. Gilliland as a clothing store. Other stores and merchants followed and enjoyed
a steady trade.
As near as we can learn, the Ansonville postoffice was established about 1857. Eliza Chase (later Mrs. W. T. Bloom)
was postmistress. Henry Swan had the office from 1864 to 1868, and was succeeded by Joseph Thomson, and he by Arthur
B. Straw. J. C Johnston succeeded Mr. Straw, and had charge of the office several years until 1886, when C. D.
McMurry was appointed. The first schoolhouse built in the township, was erected in 1820, not far from where tl*
Fruit Hill Presbyterian church was afterwards built. The house was built of logs. A square pen-shaped arrangement
was built inside to do service as a flue. The windows were made by cutting one or two logs off in the side of the
building and pasting greased paper over the hole to keep the wind and cold out. The writing desks were made by
driving pins in the walls of the building and fastening thereto a slab with the flat side up. The seats were also
made of slabs, with the round side up. The first teacher of this school was David Cathcart, who afterward located
in Knox township, where he purchased a large tract of land, part of the timber of this land being subsequently
sold by his sons for a considerable amount of money. He had a large family of children.
Robert Patterson, Sr., also taught here, and some say, was the first teacher, but others, that Cathcart was the
first. We find also that John Watson taught here. Some years after a lit tle log schoolhouse was built near the
subsequent residence of Major Wise. Asil Swan was one of the first teachers. The house has long since gone the
way of all old houses, and history fails to record any of the exploits of its graduates. The old log schoolhouse
that stood near the old Zion church is also one ot the things of the past. Rev. S. Miles taught school and preached
in this house as early as 1843, and the house was built previous to that time. The school facilities have been
improved as well as the land, and will now compare favorably with those of any similar community. Mr. A. M. Buzard
taught the first select school in Ansonville during the summer of 1884, with forty students in attendance. He also
taught the two succeeding years with an increased membership, and was assisted by Harvey Roland. Mr. Buzard afterwards
went into the drug business here, and the school was subsequently taught by J. F. McNaul, of Curwensville.