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

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KARTHAUS TOWNSHIP

This township was erected from the eastern part of Covingion, by a decree of the court of quarter sessions of Clearfield county dated February 3, 1841, and was named in honor of Peter A. Karthaus, who was the owner of a large portion of the land in the township.

The township is situated in the extreme northwestern corner of the county and is bounded on the north by part of the dividing line between Cambria and Clearfield counties, on the east by part of the dividing line between Clinton and Clearfield counties and part of the dividing line between Centre and Clearfield counties, on the south and west by Coyington township.

There are a number of coal operations in this township, also some good farms. The population, according to the census of 1910, was 1,332.

The marked geographical and topographical feature of Karthaus township is the Horseshoe Bend, at which the current tends directly south, then bends around and runs nearly direct north, all within a small area. Its greatest length, north and south, is not far short of eleven miles, while its average length is about seven miles. From east and west measurement the township extends a distance of about six miles, but the average in this direction is only about four miles. The surface of the township, generally, is hilly, broken, and mountainous, the altitude above tide-water averaging something like fourteen huncired feet. The township is well watered by the West Branch on the south, and the auxiliary streams, Mosquito Creek, Salt Lick and Upper Three Run, the first and last being fair sized mountain streams having several smaller tributaries.

The pioneer history of Karthaus township was made many years prior to its separate organization, and while it was still a part of Lawrence township. Before Lawrence was erected, the township of Chincleclamousche embraced the territory that subsequently formed Lawrence, Covington and Karthaus, excepting, however, a small tract taken from Lycoming, that was added to the county subsequent to its erection in 1804.

One of the earliest settlers in Karthaus or the lands that were afterward embraced by it, was G. Philip Geulich, who located there during the month of April, 1814. He first came to the county in 1811, with Charles Loss, as representatives of the Allegheny Coal Company, by whom they were sent to ascertain if the reports concerning an abundant supply of superior coal were true. They first came to Clearfield Creek, where they remained during the winter. Upon their report the company purchased the land known as the Ringgold tract, on Clearfield Creek, and another tract comprising some three or four thousand acres on the Moshannon. After having fulfilled the object of his visit, Geulich was about to return to Huntingdon county, but was finally persuaded to proceed to the lands on the Moshannon, and make an improvement. In 1813, in company with Joseph Ritchie, he attempted to ascend the West Branch, but finding the river filled with snow and ice, was compelled to return. Another attempt, in company with John Frazer and James Bowman, was made successfully and at the end of a three days' journey the party landed at Karthaus, on the bank of the Moshannon, on the 8th day of April1 1814. Here they built a cabin, after which several weeks were spent in clearing lands for the future operations of the Allegheny Company at that point. Geulich did not remain long in this vicinity, owing to a misunderstanding with one Junge. When about read, to leave, the families of Frederick W. Geisenhainer, and John Reiter came to the neighborhood, and they urged him to return to the Ringgold tract on Clearfield Creek, which he did. Here he lived until 1818, acting as agent for the company, until their lands were all sold, after which he purchased the Kline property, and still later resided at the county-seat. In 1829-33 he was treasurer of the county.

The early settlement of Karthaus township was materially hastened by the knowledge of her extensive coal and iron deposits. Bituminous coal was in great demand at the time, and this demand gave rise to the development of the Karthaus field and shipping therefrom, at a very early day, considerable quantities of coal in arks down the West Branch to Columbia, where it sold readily at thirty-seven and one-half cents per bushel. The channel, however, was obstructed with rocks and sunken trees, that proved fatal to many a cargo.

In the year 1815, Peter A. Karthaus, his son, and J. F. W. Schnars, under the guidance of one Green, a hotel-keeper from Milesburg, Centre county, came to the vicinity. Green was on foot, and the others had two horses between them. They followed the old Indian path, and, after leaving the Alleghenies, found but two habitations on the route hither; those of Samuel Askey and John Bechtold. Worn and tired, they arrived one evening at John Reiter's house. There they found David Dunlap, a millwright, engaged in building a sawmill on the coal company's land, at the mouth of the Little Moshannon. Some years later this mill was arranged with country-stones, and the grinding for the settlement was done at this place. This proved a great convenience to the people, who had been compelled to convey all flour and feed, either from the Bald Eagle Valley or from Clearfield town, nearly twenty-five miles distant, with no thoroughfare other than the old Indian path.

J. F. W. Schnars, who was the companion and friend of Peter A. Karthaus, was a German by birth, born in the year 1785. In the year 1810 he came to Baltimore, and found employment with Karthaus, who was an extensive merchant, engaged in foreign and domestic trade. In 1829 Schnars was chosen county commissioner, and still later county auditor. He was commissioned postmaster of his township in 1832, and held that office a score and a half of years. The family name is still extensive in the county, represented by the descendants of this old pioneer.

Peter A. Karthaus and his son returned, after a time, to Baltimore, but again came to this vicinity, bringing his family. He became the owner of a large tract of land in the township, and by his efforts and enterprise in business, did more toward the settlement and improvement of it than any other person.

In the year 1815, Junge and Schnars purchased lands of Karthaus and Geisenhainer, and commenced extensive improvements and settlements thereon. About the same time several other families came in; among them, Hugh Riddle, Jacob Michaels, William Russell and others, former residents of Bald Eagle, Centre county. They made purchases, and at once began improving the lands.

Soon after the first settlements in the township, a deposit of bog ore was discovered near the head of Buttermilk Falls, some four miles down the river from Karthaus. The lands were purchased from Judge Bowdinot, of Burlington, N. J., who owned them, by Geisenhainer & Schnars. The tract comprising three parcels was conveyed to Peter A. Karthaus. In the year 1817 he; with Geisenhaincr, built the old furnace at Moshannon Creek. The ore was conveyed up the river in flat-boats and canoes, and there made into iron. Connected with this a foundry was built, and hollow iron wares, stoves, and other articles manufactured. The river was cleared of obstructions that had proved fatal to the coal transports, and the manufactured iron wares were shipped to market. The people interested in the enterprise lacked experience, the place of manufacture was so far distant from the market, and the expense and danger incident to river traffic was so great that the enterprise was finally abandoned. Many of the families induced to settle here on account of the favorable reports concerning locality, became discouraged at the prospect and returned east. For a time, instead of an increase there seemed to be a general and sudden decrease in population, but after the excitement had died out and the agricultural advantages of the locality became established, the time of immigration and settlement again set this way, and the increase again became general and healthful.

In the year 1845 Richard Coleburn, the assessor of the township, was directed to make an enumeration of each of the taxable inhabitants then being residents. From the roll so made by him, the names of such taxables are made to appear, which will show who were the residents of the township at the time. George Bucher, a tailor; William Bridgens, George Bearfield, Sr., Reuben Bearfield, laborer; Jacob Cooms, Levi Coffin, farmer; Ann Coleburn, George Conaway, Sr., Dickson Cole, laborer; Richard Coleburn, farmer; Mark Coleburn, laborer; Matthew B. Conaway, Benjamin Clark, sawyer; John Gaines, James Gunsaulis, Samuel Gunsaulis, farmer, having, in addition to his two tracts of land, one hundred acres bought of P. A. Karthaus's "plough deep;" Jeremiah Gaines, Robert Gaines, farmer; Lawrence F. Hartline, farmer; George Haun, farmer; Levi Harris, laborer; John Harris, laborer; James Hunter, laborer; Andrew Eisenmann, Jacob Eisenman, weaver; John Eisenman, farmer; Michael Eisenman, farmer; John Irvin, "lumberer," having a sawmill; Peter A. Karthaus, no occupation, but having a saw-mill and grist-mill; Robert Lowes, laborer, having one hundred acres of land bought of Keating; Ellis Lowes, farmer; Jacob G. Lebs, manager; Benjamin B. Lee, carpenter; Francis McCoy, "one saw-mill, burned down ;" Elizabeth Michaels, John Michaels, farmer; Edward Michaels, laborer; William H. Michaels, farmer; Daniel Moore, farmer; James Meny, laborer; Thomas Michael farmer; John Price, farmer; Isaac Price, farmer; Joseph Rupley, farmer; J. F. W. Schnars, saw-mill; Charles Schnars, sawyer; Gottlieb Snyder, farmer; Francis Soultsman, blacksmith; William Teets, laborer; John Vought, farmer; John Wykoff, carpenter; James White, farmer; Washington Watson, laborer; Joseph Yothers, farmer. The single freemen then living in the township were: Frederick Coffin, William Carson, Thomas Moyers, John Haun, Charles Haun, John Hicks, Jr., Prudence Knyder, John Condly, John Uzzle.

From this it appears that there were residing in the township in the year 1845, fifty-four property owners and nine single freemen. As further shown by the roll, there were several who had formerly been residents, but who appear to have gone away since the assessment next preceding 1845. Among those are found the names of Sarah Apple, Samuel K. Bevan, H. 0. Brittain, Cornelius Conaway, Charles Durow, Henry Harris, Simon Hall, Michael Mays, Jacob Miller, Peter McDonald, John Reiter, Matthew Savage, William Soults, all of whom were regular taxables, owning either real or personal property, besides a few single freemen, as follows: William Barefield, Andrew Kiem, and John Summerville. From these facts it can fairly be assumed that the population of Karthaus township, in 1845, did not exceed two hundred inhabitants.

The great interest taken by all persons during the lumbering period in that production, materially increased the temporary or floating population, and after the tracts were exhausted and agriculture became the regular avocation of the inhabitants, many who had come with the intention of leaving as soon as the lumber districts were cleared, were induced to remain and permanently reside in the township. At that time, if the record is reliable, there were in the township only four saw-mills and one grist mill, owned as shown above. During the period of ten years, from 1850 to 1860, lumbering reached its maximum, after which it began gradually to decline.

The original village of Karthaus was laid out on the map of the Keating lands which was made as early as 1827, or perhaps earlier. As shown it lay on a sharp bend of the river at the mouth of Mosquito Creek, and on tract No. 1901. It contained nineteen hundred and one acres of land. The newer Karthaus lies further east, and was built up chiefly through the extensive coal and lumbering interests developed there.

The township has adequate school and church facilities.

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