History of Howe Township, Forest County, Pa.
From: History of the Counties of
McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania
J. H. Beers & Co., Publishers.
Chicago 1890


THE Tionesta creek enters Howe township north of Foxburg, flows through the village and takes a general westerly course, entering Kingsley township southwest of Balltown. Blue Jay creek, flowing from the southwest, enters the river at Foxburg; several feeders of Salmon creek rise in the southwest quarter, and the creek itself heads in the south center. Bogus run unites with other streams near Brookston, and the heads of Spring creek rise in the ridge, separating the southeast quarter from the older settlements of the township. Seventy feet below the outcrop of coal at Fox's hunting shanty there is a sharp change in the slope of the hill, which was taken to mark the lowest stratum of the Olean conglomerate. Along the hill slope at this point were found huge blocks of sandstone and conglomerate, from the Olean conglomerate, measuring about twenty feet high and twenty feet on the side. The pebbles in the conglomerate were of irregular shape, and in many cases had flat surfaces and were slightly angular.

Near the head of the Branch, on the Funk Lands, Howe opened a coal bed in 1865, whence coal was shipped to Balltown. Under a ten inch bed of black slate a three foot vein of coal and slate was found resting on fire clay. In 1870 the mine was worked by John Miller, of Balltown. About 8,000 feet northwest of Foxburg on warrant 2991, at an elevation of 1,750 feet, coal was also mined, while C. J. Fox opened a third mine southeast of that village, and also one on the brook near the old hunting shanty. The Little mine was opened in 1858 to a twenty inch bed of superior coal. This was located on warrant 5103, at an elevation of 1,760 feet.... Frog Rock is in the middle of Tionesta creek, one mile above Panther Rock. Nature seems to have formed it to represent an enormous frog. In low water it stands about four feet above the surface.

The population of the township in 1880 was 382, including 276 in Brookston village. In 1888 there were 106 Republican and 64 Democratic votes cast, showing 850 inhabitants.

The officers of this township elected in February, 1890, are as follows: Road commissioner, E. L. Leech; clerk, J. W. Black; assessors, E. Beaver, J. H. McBride; collector, A. P. Anderson; treasurer, J. M. Black; school directors, C. F. Fox, F. Fickinson, A. M. Soule, M. B. Smith; auditors, J. J. Haight, G. W. Noblit, C. F. Griffin; overseer of poor, D. P. Miller; constable, Dan Gibson; judges (west), W. Briggs, (east) D. P. Miller, (middle) E. B. Beaver; inspectors (west), I. B. Murphy, George McBride, (middle) C. W. Atkins, A. M. Soule, (east) E. P. Anderson, James Cochran.

The assessor's returns of Howe township (Tionesta), in 1852, made by William Patterson, show the following names of resident tax payers: John Anderson, John Addison, O. Bennett, Jacob Bottum, C. Blanchard, *Dan Bennett, *George Brakey, Abram Cooper, W. and A. Carrius, John Cherry, William Deer, John Drum, S. Flint, Charles J. Fox (1,250 acres, four horses, three yoke of oxen, one cow, one gold watch, one double saw mill of which Albert Fox was millwright), J. W. Groves, W. Griffith, Nathan Hathway, Reuben Hubberd, *A. Jarvis, John Kelly, *J. Stewart, W. Stillson, *N. McMillen, James McLaughlin. A. and D. Mason, *G. Medberry, Sam Norcross, William Porter, William Patterson (one ox and one cow), Thomas Patterson (one ox), *Shannon Riddle, *P. L. Rafferty, Rogers & Co. (double sawmill), *C. L. Shipman, T. and W. Smith, Isaac Watson, F. West, A. Weid. The valuation of seated lands and personal property was placed at $7,850, and of unseated lands at $20,620.
*Single men.

The assessment of Howe township, made by Thomas Porter in the fall of 1867, contains a memorandum of the lumber manufactured in that year. At Howeville (or Balltown) were 60,000 feet of square timber, 500,000 of pine and 100,000 lath, together with 400,000 feet rafted, 200,000 feet ready for rafting and 400,000 feet of hemlock. At Fox's mill 200,000 feet of pine were sawn. The tax payers were C. J. Fox (saw mill owner), C. F. Fox, James Leech (president of the Pittsburgh & Forest Lumber Company, whose mill stood on Warrant 4823), John F Mercilliott (farmer), S. H. Norcross, Thomas Nugent, T. S. Patterson, Thomas Porter, William Patterson, John S. Rappee, Isaac Watson, James Woodruff, James T. Wisner and Harrison Wisner (each owner of a gold watch), R. S. Wisner, F. Huper, Toby Rinaldo, H. W. Sawls, Shelton Oil & Manufacturing Company, then represented by A. H. Barnes, John Miller and A Pearson. The Marcy Oil Company requested that their 1,976 acres on Salmon creek should be placed on the seated list.

The Brookston Tannery, erected in Howe township in 1871 by Brooks & Co., employed sixty men, and in March, 1872, the village comprised this large tannery, a saw mill and thirteen houses. In August, under the management of G. W. Brennan, 160 men were employed, and there were twenty six dwelling houses. J. H. Berry was then superintendent of the tannery.... In February, 1877, Edward D. Stone, the illicit distiller of Brookston, was arrested.... In 1880 the population of Brookston village was 276. In 1888 there were 59 Republican and 40 Democratic votes cast here.

Horton, Crary & Co., the great Sheffield, Warren county, tanners, buy hides in Texas and as far away as South America, manufacture them into leather and market large quantities of their product in England and other parts of Europe. They have five tanneries - one in Forest county, one in Elk county and three at Sheffield. They have been in business nineteen years. In this time they have stripped thousands of acres of hemlock bark in their immediate vicinity, and now have a railroad running thirty seven miles, which terminates now at Duhring, Forest county, with various branches already built and more contemplated in Elk, McKean and Forest counties to bring them the needful supply of bark.

Brookston E. A. U., No. 501, was organized in November, 1884, with fifty six charter members, including the following named officers: Chancellor, Samuel D. Brecht; advocate, Mrs. F. W. Brooks; president, F. W. Brooks; vice president, Charles R. McClune; auxiliary, Mrs. Lucy Tousley; secretary, James I. Cochran; treasurer, C. C. Smith; accountant, A. P. Anderson; chaplain, G. B. M. Borge; warden, John Ryan; sentinel, Mrs. C. C. Smith; watchman, Gust Miller; cor, ductor, Hiram Tousley; assistant conductor, Mrs. C. R. McClune; trustee, A. P. Anderson; examining physician, Dr. G. F. McNutt; representative to Grand Union, F. W. Brooks.

Frost's Station, on the Pittsburgh & Western Railroad, was established in 1881, when Frost purchased 200 acres there and built his large saw mill.

Walter Byrom, of Byromtown, died in September, 1886. When the place was established, the name was given in his honor. Here, in June, 1884, the Equitable Aid Union was organized with forty two members, the officers being, chancellor, N. C. Wiltsie; advocate, W. H. Frost; president, Walter Byrom; vice president, Mrs Belle Drury; auxiliary, Mrs. A. C. Wiltsie; secretary, Miss Nina Slade; treasurer, D. S. Drury; accountant, John Hafele; chaplain, Rev. J. W. Sloan; warden, Mrs. Chapman; sentinel, Mrs. W. L. Loomis; watchman, A. S. Brecht; conductor, Mrs. W. Chapingham; assistant conductor, L. H. Nichols; trustee, L. H. Nichols; representative to Grand Union, Ed Klabbats; examining physician, Dr. S. S. Towler.

Forest City was platted late in 1882, by Frank Whittekin and Floyd Proper, surveyors, for G. W. Agnew, agent of the proprietors. In January, 1883, a population of 100, twelve dwellings, Tim. Mahony's hotel and Tom Willoughby's restaurant were the evidences of its sudden growth.

Mount Agnew postoffice was established at Forest City in 1883, whence it was moved to Gusher City under the name of Cooper Tract postoffice, of which Capt. Haight is now master. Gusher City was the name given to one of the oil towns of 1883, and in January, 1885, it was falling into decay. The St. Petersburg House was destroyed by an explosion of gas on August, 1887, and with it the town hall, A. L. Anderson's, J. J. Haight's and the postoffice buildings being also burned. In 1888 this place gave 19 Republican and 12 Democratic votes.

The fire at Duhring, of July 14, 1887, resulted in the destruction of Browne & Co.'s stable, and the burning of eight horses, one mule and a yoke of oxen.

Eureka City was established in 1883-84. It is located on the banks of the winding Tionesta, where it widens out into a placid little lake or mill pond, and where the road from Sheffield to Foxburg crosses the creek. Precipitous hills shield from the bleak winds of winter, and give the citizens advantages unequaled in the world for sliding down hill. There is one street, and room for several others. C. D. Holtsworth put up the first building, and shortly after from fifteen to twenty others were completed, while several were in course of erection. There were seven or eight boarding houses, several hotels, a bakery, grocery and other buildings necessary to the body as well as to the mind; among the latter are classed certain rooms in which it is supposed secret lodges meet; for such phrases as " I stand," " flush," " ante up, you sucker," and kindred exclamations are occasionally heard from them. The town is quiet and orderly, and presents a lively appearance. C. D. Holtsworth provided the mental pabulum for the community, besides running the penny post. All the mail and newspapers were "toted" over the hill from Hoover's, on the narrow gauge road, a distance of two miles and a half. Tony Willoughby and Andy White were running the Petrolia House here. A telephone office and a very muddy road connect the town with the outside world.

James Nesmith, one of the pioneers of Howe township, was crushed to death by a falling tree near the Cooper tract in December, 1889.

Elulalia post office at Sheffield Junction was established in 1887 with John Hernon in charge.

Balltown is contemporary with the first oil excitement, but not until 1882-83 did the settlement assume village shape. In 1884 C. W. Hawks was appointed postmaster, followed in 1887 by T. W. Corah, who was succeeded in August, 1889, by C. F. Griffin. The history of the town is so connected with the Forest county oil field, described in the first chapter, that little remains to be written here. A Methodist Church building and a few religious organizations show that Providence is not forgotten away up the Tionesta. In March, 1885, the Equitable Aid Union was organized here with forty four members, among whom were the following named officers: Chancellor, H. B. White; advocate, W. J. Pringle; president, J. W. Solley; vice president, Mrs. C. B. Neely; auxiliary, J. S. Saxton; secretary, C. F. Griffin; treasurer, Mrs. William Hawks; accountant, C. A. Hawks; chaplain, M. W. Vincent; warden, Dr. W. B. Hottel; sentinel, Mrs. M. W. Vincent; watchman, N. N. Darling; conductor, J. R. Anderson; assistant conductor, Mrs. J. R. Andrews; trustee, C. A. Hawks; examining physician, Dr. W. B. Hottel; representative to Grand Lodge, Dr. Hottel.

The fire of August 25-26, 1887, destroyed C. W. Hawks' general store. The fire, it is said, originated in escaping gas catching fire. Balltown, in 1888, recorded 28 Republican and 12 Democratic votes.

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