WAYNE TOWNSHIP was formed in 1809. Its original limits included, besides all of present Wayne and East Fairfield,
a strip about three miles wide off the southern parts of Mead, Randolph and Troy. Of this large scope, three times
the present size of Wayne, the population in 1820 was 650. The township was reduced to its present limits in 1829.
It now includes 19,821 acres of land, 1,166 of which are unseated. The population in 1850 was 882; in 1860. 1,320;
in 1870, 1,464; in 1880, 1,597. The township is located in the southern part of the county. It is bounded on the
west by Fairfield and East Fairfield Townships, oa the north by Randolph and a corner of Mead, on the south by
Venango County, and on the east by Venango County and a corner of Troy Township. In outline it roughly approximates
a right angled triangle, the hypothenuse of which facing southeast consists of a series of lines at right angles
to each other
French Creek crosses the southwest corner. Little Sugar Creek enters in the northwest from East Fairfield and returns
to the same in the southwest part. It is met in Wayne by Deckard's Run, which flows northwesterly. Sugar Lake Creek
passes by a southeasterly course through the eastern part. Each of these streams has numerous tributaries, which
thread the township in every direction, and everywhere may be found springs of excellent quality and copious flow.
The surface is rough and hilly. Sandstone outcrops in many places and often renders tillage difficult. The best
land lies along the streams. The valley of Sugar Lake Inlet broadens almost to a mile, and much of it is low and
marshy. Pine and hemlock here grew profusely, but most of it has been culled for the saw-mills. These trees are
also found in great quantities along Little Sugar Creek and other streams in the township. Other varieties of prevalent
timber were white and red oak, beech, chestnut, sugar, poplar, bass and cucumber.
Sugar Lake, a beautiful sheet of water having a surface exceeding 100 acres, lies in the northeast part. It is
fed by Sugar Lake Creek or Sugar Lake Inlet as the stream is also known. The lake is surrounded by low hills; Rfld
when first known had a depth of more than thirty feet, twelve or thirteen feet in excess of its present depth.
Its height above Lake Erie is 704 feet. The lake was in early times a renowned hunting and fishing place. Pickerel,
weighing sometimes from eighteen to twenty pounds, black bass, yellow perch, rock bass, sun fish and suckers thronged
its waters in much greater numbers than now. Ducks and geese were plenty and all kinds of forest game abounded
in the vicinity. Long after the first white men came the Indians encamped at the foot of the hill at the outlet
and pursued their favorite pastimes. They were friendly and well behaved, and were not known to have molested the
corn fields or potato patches of the pioneers. If grain or vegetable was wanted the owner was first asked for it,
and rarely did a settler refuse to embellish the cuisine of his dusky neighbors with a pumpkin or mess of turnips.
The natives usually repaid such kindnesses with a luscious offering of bear meat or other wild game. Rattlesnakes
were quite numerous in the vicinity of the lake as well as elsewhere in early times, and were quite a dangerous
pest. On the west side of the lake in a clump of young hemlocks near a spring was a large den of the reptiles,
and it was a long time before the snakes were vanquished. Horses were not unfrequently bitten, usually on the nose.
Pea vine grew thick upon the ground and was a favorite pasturage, but the rattlesnake often lurked in coils beneath
its foliage and repaid intrusion with its poisonous fangs.
Deer hunting was pursued with great success on the lake and creek, the hunter approaching the unsuspecting animal
by means of a canoe. A bark lantern was made with two apertures for candles and fastened to a board. The board
was attached to the prow of the canoe and the lighted candles cast a gleam over all objects in front, but the boat
and its contents were concealed from view. The game could always be approached in this manner to within easy range.
and the hunter was unfortunate or unskillful who failed to shoot a half dozen deer in one evening. At first the
deer proved troublesome by destroying the crops of grain which had to be inclosed as a preventive, within high
fences. Wolves were ravenous at first and could scarcely be restrained from attacking the calves tied at the settler's
cabin door. Panthers too were occasionally seen, and with stealthy steps sometimes followed a belated child or
woman home. Many were the incidents that happened to the pioneers in quest of game. Many a bear and.deer story
could be narrated did not space forbid.
The territory of Wayne lies wholly in the Eighth Donation District, and like all lands in the county awarded by
the State for military services, received very slowly the western tide of immigration. The lands were not open
to settlers generally, except the lots which remained undrawn by the soldiers, and no concerted effort could be
made to people them. The undrawn or State tracts 'were Nos. 112, 126, 1227, 1232, 1234, 1260 and 1284. Long after
Fairfield, East Fairfield, Mead and southwestern Randolph had developed into fruitful farms Wayne remained a wilderness.
Not until after 1820 was there anything like a general settlement of the land, and even then it progressed slowly.
It is not known to a certainty who first occupied the township, but the first settlement was doubtless in the western
part near French Creek.
Thomas Cochran, one of the earliest, located on Tract 1294, about a mile east of Cochranton. He came from Adams
County and remained through life leaving several daughters and five Sons: James, William, Samuel, Joseph and Robert,
all of whom settled in this vicinity. David Blair came from Milton, Northumberland County, prior to 1810, probably
as early as 1805, and settled near French Creek, on Tract 113 in the extreme southwest corner of the township.
He died in Cochranton in 1840 at the age of seventy-two years. Other pioneers who arrived prior to 1810 were: Isaac
and Samuel Bonnell, Nicholas Bailey, who lived on French Creek one and a half miles below Cochranton, Edward Ferry,
John Greer, Sr., who lived below Cochranton on French Creek; John Greer, Jr., who dwelt on Tract 1286 two miles
southeast of the village; Michael Kightlinger, who lived on the north side of Sugar Lake and afterward moved to
Troy Township and died there; Hugh McDill, William Wheeling, Joseph and Lewis Woodworth, the former a millwright
and both residents near French Creek and Jacob Waggoner.
The first improvement near the lake was made about 1804 by Michael Dill, who had previously resided near French
Creek. Mr. Dill had a cabin-raising in the wilderness, miles distant from any human habitation, and on that important
occasion feasted his helping friends on an abundance of the various game found here. Dill, however, did not settle
in this cabin. Edward Ferry, who had with his family crossed the mountains from Lancaster County, and had intended
settling on the hill above the lake, was induced by Mr. Dill, in consideration of a cow or two and other emoluments,
to occupy the cabin and continue there the labor of improvement. Mr. Ferry took up his abode in the cabin and years
afterward bought the land, remaining its occupant until death. He left ten children, several of whom yet survive.
Hugh McGill, an Irish. man and a Covenanter settled in the extreme eastern part, where he died many years later.
Jacob Waggoner was one of the first settlers on Deckard's Run. Other pioneers who arrived somewhat later, after
1810, and settled in the eastern part were: Samuel Beers, David McKnight, Daniel MeDaniels, and John Allen, the
last named hailing from Ireland. William Record came from Allegheny County in 1824. Jacob Bees, in 1829, emigrated
from Philadelphia and settled on the site of Deckardville. It was then covered by a dense forest through which
Mr. Rees was obliged to cut a road to his place of settlement.
Holmes & Herriot erected the first grist-mill in the township soon after 1800, on Little Sugar Creek, about
a mile east of Cochranton. Several years later they sold it to Isaac Bonnell, who also operated a distillery. It
has been an important industry, notably so in pioneer times, and has frequently changed possession and several
times rebuilt. It is now owned by Hugh Smith. A powder-mill was built in the southern part and operated in an early
day by Henry Heath. Many saw-mills have sprung up in various parts of the township, and the lumbering interests
are still important.
James Douglas taught an early school in the western part on Tract 1288 in a log-cabin. A frame schoolhouse was
afterward built at the same place, and later removed to Cochranton, whore it was occupied a number of years for
its original purpose. The youth of the extreme eastern part of Wayne received their first instruction in Randolph
Township several miles away. John Kane taught perhaps the first school in this part of Wayne in a little shanty
on the east bank of Sugar Creek Lake. John Moreland, a well-remembered, efficient instructor, afterward taught
in the same building.
Wayne is almost exclusively rural in population. Deckardville, the only hamlet or village, lies in the eastern
part and contains a store, a blacksmith shop, two churches and six or eight dwellings. Near by is a jelly factory.
A third church building is standing, hut its owners, the Free-Will Baptists, have disbanded as an organization.
The congregation was organized by Elder Chase in September, 1865, and the edifice had been reared the previous
year at a cost of $1,500.
Wilson's Mills Postoffice is located near the east bank of Sugar Lake.
The United Brethren Church at Deckardville was organized about 1848. Quarterly meetings were held at first in barns.
Services were conducted in a log schoolhouse which stood near the present church, until the latter was erected
in 1855 at a cost of $1,100. The leading early members were: Jefferson Cousins, James Tingley, William Houtz, Joseph
Shaffer and Jacob Wheeland. This society has a present membership of about forty, and is a part of Deckard Run
Circuit, which was formed from a part of Sugar Lake Circuit in 1880, and has since had the following pastors: 1880,
J. W. Lewis; 1881- 82, W. Robinson; 1883, E. E. Belden.
St. John's Reformed, formerly German Reformed Church, at Deckardvil le, was organized in 1846 and held services
for a number of years in the schoolhouse. The corner-stone of the present church was laid in June, 1858, and it
was dedicated in 1860. The structure was reared at a cost of $1,000, as the joint property of the Lutherans and
members of the German Reformed Church. The former declined in strength and in 1877 withdrew from further support
of the church property. Their last pastor was Rev. Swingle. In 1883 the Reformed congregation extended and repaired
the building at a cost of $800. John Lubold, Eli Moll. Jona.than Borger, Henry Hoffman, Adam Peters, Levi Peters
and George Hollabaugh were early influential members. Rev. Leberman was pastor many years and was followed for
a brief period by Rev. D. B. Ernst, Rev. John Kretzing then ministered nine years and after a short vacancy Rev.
Josiah May for three years. Rev. John W. Pontius, the present pastor then followed in 1877. The membership is seventy-five.
Zion Church, of the Reformed, formerly German Reformed denomination, was organized in the summer of 1870 by Rev.
John Kretzing. Among the first and leading members were: Francis McDaniel and wife, James Record and wife, William
McDaniel and wife and William McElroy. The meetings were held for a short time in a schoolhouse and about 1872
a neat frame church, 36x41, was erected at a cost of $1,800. The lot upon which it stands was the gift of Francis
McDaniel, and is located in the north part of Lot 112, in the north part of the township. Rev. John Kretzing, the
first pastor. was succeeded by Rev. Josiah May, and he was followed in the spring of 1877 by Rev. John W. Pontius,
the present pastor. The membership is thirty-six.
Lake United Brethren Church is a modest frame structure standing on the east side of Sugar Lake. It was dedicated
in the autumn of 1882, and cost about $1,500. A society of the Wesleyan faith flourished in this region many years
ago, and in 1843 reared a log sanctuary on the site of the present United Brethren edifice. Among the leading Wesleyans
were: Benjamin Beers, James Dye, Henry Sparliug and David Holton. The society decreased in membership as time rolled
on, and about 1860 passed from existence, leaving the old log-church as a monument of the past. About 1869 Revs.
Muncie and Bedow, of the United Brethren Church, visited this deserted field and gathered together a little flock,
including Simeon Brink, Andrew Wygant, David Sweet and others, who met for worship in the old log-house until replaced
by the present edifice. The society is attached to Diamond Circuit and now has fifty members. Its present pastor
is Rev. J. P. Atkins.