History of Centre Township, Greene County, Pa.
From: History of Greene County, Pennsylvania
By: Samuel P. Bates.
Nelson, Ruchforth & Co., Chicago. 1888.


CENTRE, the largest in territory of any township in the county, is situated in the western central part, and is almost exclusively devoted to agricultural pursuits. It was organized in 1824. It is bounded on the north by Morris, on the east by Franklin, on the south by Wayne and Jackson, and on the west by Jackson and Richhill. The surface is very broken, or rather heavily rolling, but the soil is deep and very fertile. It is well watered by South Ten Mile Creek, and Pursley, one of its tributaries. The waters are pure and sparkling, the springs everywhere copious, and the farms in a high state of cultivation. In no part of Pennsylvania is there seen greater evidence of thrift. Grain and hay are produced in great abundance, fine wooled sheep are pastured on all the hillsides, the finest blooded horses are bred, and cattle and swine of the best stock are brought to perfection here. Sugar maples formerly grew luxuriously in all the valleys and up the deep ravines; but, influenced by a mistaken policy, the sugar orchards have nearly all been swept away. Along the highways in some parts are seen hedges of the Osage orange. This also is probably a mistaken policy. Of all the kinds of fences which the husbandman employs to hem in his fields, this is one of the most expensive and unphilosophic. It must be planted and fenced several years before it can be relied on to stop flocks and herds, and when grown the beast if determined to do so will find a place to break through. It must be annually pruned, which is anything but an agreeable occupation, and hence is one of the most expensive fences to keep in repair that is in use. Besides, it is a nursing place for every foul weed, bush and bramble, sucks the fertility from the soil for a considerable distance into the field, and is an ugly barrier for a human being to cross, especially when chased by a mad bull, an infuriated ram, or a cunning horse.

Rogersville is a thriving village situated at the confluence of Lightner's Run with Ten Mile Creek, on the great trail from Waynesburg to Wheeling. Archer and Tinens originally owned the tract where the village is now located, but it was subsequently acquired by Henry Church. Fifty years ago he had a large distillery here. John Rogers, who died eight years ago, and for whom the place was named, once owned most of the land. Mrs. Nancy Sellers, wife of George Sellers, a former justice of the peace, resides here and has a remarkably retentive memory of everything pertaining to the history of the town for a long period. A Methodist Church was organized at an early day, but for several years had no house of worship, Golding services in the school house and in barns. Mr. Church once had a protracted meeting in his barn. Wilson Braddock was one of the early pastors. James Turner, who died at a great age during the year 1887, also ministered. In 1874 a new house of worship was built. The first store opened here was kept by Cephas Coe, an orphan boy who was in delicate health and unfit to endure the hardships of frontier life. It is now owned by Jesse Uhlonn, the present justice of the peace. A fort for protection against the Indians had an existence here at an early day. Clinton, a small place a short distance down the creek, was originally owned by the grandfather of Mrs. Jesse Uhlom, and here it was understood that the county seat was to have been located, quite as central and even more suitable than that chosen; but by some chance it missed that fortune. Hopewell, now known as Hunter's Cave, a small village in the northern part of the township, also has a Methodist Church and a Christian Church.

One of the early families in this township was that of Thomas Harvey. The head of the family originally emigrated from France to Ireland, thence to England, and finally to Philadelphia. On the 1st of January, 1807, the family left Philadelphia for the Monongahela country, and were three months in getting through. William, an elder brother, had come on before, and had located in this valley, where lie taught school and had pupils from a distance of six and seven miles around. There were three sons, Thomas, Joseph and Samuel. They built a camp or shed the first season, and made maple sugar, and here they lived until fall, when they built a log house. Afterwards they erected a more pretentious house, two stories in height, of hewed logs, where they kept a hotel. The mail carrier from Morgantown to Wheeling made this one of his points, and frequently had not a single letter in his pouch. The family was originally Presbyterian, but became Baptist. Daniel Throckmorton and wife were the first Baptists in that section. They were very devout, and were accustomed to go once a month to attend service at Goshen Baptist Church, the oldest in the county, twenty miles away. Tiring of these long journeys to worship, which he was accustomed to take with his wife on horseback, and moved with the desire to proselyte, he joined with his neighbors in organizing a church in that neighborhood, which was known as the South Ten Mile Baptist Church. The church was organized and the first services were held in a barn. In 1841 a comfortable frame house was erected, and in 1883 a fine new edifice. Ratan, a small village, named for State Senator and Congressman James S. Ratan, is located in the Ten Mile Creek valley, and from its favorable location where leading thoroughfares meet, is likely to become a place of considerable business importance. In 1872 William Hendershot opened a small store here. In the following year W. T. Hays bought the establishment and built up a prosperous trade. In 1887 he sold the store and good will to the Goodwin Brothers. On Pursley Creek, in the southeast corner of the township, there has sprung up a highly prosperous village known by the suggestive name of Oak Forest. It has A flouring mill provided with machinery for reducing the grain by the improved roller process, two stores, and the usual concomitants of a country town. By the official statement in 1855, Centre Township is reported to have fifteen schools and 576 pupils. Great improvement in the qualifications of teachers, grade of school houses, and devotion of directors and parents to the best interests of the schools, is perceptible since that day. The board of directors is constituted as follows: William Arndoff, President; Jesse Patterson, Secretary; Joseph McNeely, Thomas Scott, S. B. Huffman and Henry Church.

About the year 1775, three German families emigrated and settled near the mouth of Parsley Creek. Two of these, by the name of Sellers, appropriated the lands since owned by John Buchanan and Fordyce Thomas. The other family bore the name of Povator, and improved the tract where Edward Wood and Doc. Huffman live. A year later came Benjamin Parsley, and located the land now owned by George Hoge, Jr., and from him Pursley Creek was named. The family of the elder Sellers consisted of himself, wife, and four sons, Leonard, Jacob, George and John, the latter being demented.. They lived in a cabin built for defense, located near a spring below the house of Mr. Buchanan, still standing. Leonard Sellers married Mary, the only child of Gasper Povator, with whom the young couple lived. One afternoon in the fall of 1780, or thereabouts, Leonard shouldered his gun, and journeyed into the forest for game. Molly, the wife, with her twin children, and her sister in law, went out to gather grapes. Molly spread her apron upon the ground, and sat the two children upon it, and while busily engaged gathering clusters, Indians, creeping stealthily, fired or rushed suddenly upon them. Molly instinctively and instantly bounded away, oblivious to everything except the terrible vision of the inhuman savages rushing upon her, and firing after her. Having escaped their deadly clutch, she ran at her utmost speed, not halting till she had reached her own cabin, when some one exclaimed, "Why, Molly, where are your children?" This was the first thought that the terror stricken mother had, that her babes had been with her in the woods. With a shriek and a bound she flew back over the ground by which she had come, to meet death if she must, only intent on rescuing her little ones. When she reached the spot, she found the children sitting upon the apron as she had left them, but horrible to behold, both scalped. Fearing pursuit the Indians had fled. On approaching the children, one of them looked up and smiled, when it recognized its mother. Folding them to her bosom in the apron as they sat, she hurried home, and upon her arrival, found a huge butcher knife in the folds of the apron, that the savage had dropped. One of the children died, and the other lived to become the wife of Joseph Aukram, and the mother of a family. The sister in law, who was with her, was carried away, and was never heard of more.

During the first run home the mother saw the bark knocked off a sapling before her by the ball from the Indian's gun, which passed between her body and her arm, but fortunately did not harm her, and when she jumped off the creek bank into the sand she made a greater leap than any man in the settlement was able to do. But the powerful exertion required for the leap, and the running back and forth, together with the shock produced by seeing her poor scalped babes, proved nearly fatal. She was completely broken down, and for over a year was in a very feeble and critical condition, never regaining her natural vigor. So violent was her hatred of the savages ever after, that she not only became much excited whenever she related these incidents, but usually added, "If ever I should see an Indian, no difference where he was, or who, or how friendly he pretended to be, I know I should try to kill him - I know I could not help it." The husband returned at evening, but so horror and grief stricken that he soon sickened and died. Thomas Hoge, who furnishes many of the particulars related above, says: "My parents when first married, sixty years ago, settled on Parsley, where John Hoge now lives, on the improvement made by Ben Pursley, from whom both the creek and Ben's Run took their names. Old Molly was a practicing midwife, and my mother thinks she was a daughter of old Molly Hoffman who lived about the mouth of Pursley Creek, and was also a midwife. She also adds that when they settled on Parsley there were but two or three families above them on all the waters of that stream. There were in places two miles or more together of solid woods, without a stick amiss, where deer, wolves and wild turkeys were very plenty, with a sprinkling of bears and rattle snakes. The deer were very troublesome in pasturing off the young wheat in winter and early spring, and wolves were so bold that it was difficult to raise poultry, lambs, or pigs."

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