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ELK COUNTY.

CHAPTER I.

TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL HISTORY.

Formation—Judge Geddes' Report—General Topography—Population, Area And Natural Kesources—Oil And Gas Wells And Pipe LinesCoal Deposits, Etc.—Lumber Resources—Fires And Floods—Wild Fruits, Animals, Etc.

ELK COUNTY was carved out of the hills and valleys of McKean, Jefferson and Clearfield counties, April 18, 1843. Judge Geddes, who in 1831— 32 surveyed the Clarion and Sinnemahoning summit for the proposed canal of that period, says in his report: "At the head of Bennett's Branch is a marsh called Flag Swamp, from which in wet seasons the water flows both ways, and where at such seasons the summit might easily be passed in a canoe. This point is remarkable as, probably, the only one in the State where the beaver can be found. Everywhere else they have been driven out by the approach of human footsteps. In the same region a few elk still remain." Running from the southeast corner of Warren county through McKean's southwest corner, and as far as Daguscahonda was the old Buffalo swamp. The big level or ridge, running in opposite directions through the northwest corner of the county, made the swamp look greater to the old-time travelers than it really was, while the Warren and Ridgway State road, cut through in 1832, aided such travelers in obtaining glimpses of the historic swamp in its extensions.

The elevations of the county are given as follows, the figures representing the number of feet above tide level: Hyde House, Ridgway, 1,400; P. & E. R. R., Ridgway, 1,393; S. & R. R. R. crossing Ridgway and Centreville road, 1,925; Lower Kittanning bed at Mine No. 8, 1,605; L. K. bed at Mine No. 15,1,845; L. K. bed, McAllister's farm, 1,600; road at J. C. McAllister's. 1,580; Clarion bed at Mine No. 7, 1,685; Clarion bed at Mine No. 16, 1,735; Boot Jack, 2,166; road forks, warrant 4,248, 1,760; road at Brandy Camp Hotel, 1,565; lower Freeport bed ("Mvein"), Faust farm, 1,760; lower Freeport bed (" M vein") west side of Mead's run, north of Mead's Run School-house, 1,710; lower Freeport bed, tunnel opening, southwest of Meade Run Schoolhouse, 1,650; Freeport lower limestone, McAllister farm, 1,740; ferriferous limestone, mouth of Karns run, 1,535; George Faust's house, 1,765; J. C. Wellington's house, Karns run, 1,600; Mead's Run (Colomo) School-house, 1,550; Theodore Fox's house, 1,530; summit of Fox hill, 1,755; Freeport lower limestone, west of Fox hill, 1,580; bottom bench of Freeport upper coal, west of Fox hill, 1,650; J. S. Chamberlin's house, 1,545; summit of Chamberlin hill, 1,845; Freeport lower limestone, Chamberlin hill, 1,730; ferriferous limestone, Chamberlin hill, 1,585; Brockport, 1,545.

Rathbun, 1,316 above mean ocean level on track. West Creek Summit. 1.695; St. Mary's, 1,667; a point near St. Mary's, 1,888; Scahonda, 1,519; Daguscahonda. 1,478; Shawmut, 1,426; Ridgway, 1,393; Whistletown, 1,414: Johnsonburg, 1,441; Rolfe, 1,446; Clarion, 1,482; Wilcox, 1,526; Dahoga. 1,601; mouth of Johnson's run, 1,505; Benezette depot, 1,040; Medix run bridge, 1,099; Caledonia tunnel, 1.148; Dent's run, 924; a point east of Earley, 2,265, and a point just south, 2,108.

The population in 1870 was 8,488, in 1880, 12,800, and in 1888, 17,075, based on the election returns, which, in November of that year, show 1.824 Democratic votes, 1,321 Republican, 52 Prohibitionist and 18 Union Labor, a total of 3,215. The area is 774 square miles or about 495,360 acres. The vast resources of this territory are principally lumber and coal. There are seven veins of bituminous coal, each twenty-eight feet thick, two veins of cannel coal, three feet each in thickness, and two beds of lime partly fossilized. Iron ore, which yields 30 to 40 per cent of pure metal, abounds in the hills. Heavily timbered wildernesses cover a large portion of the county. Tanning and lumber are the principal active industries. In the vicinity of St. Mary's, coal of good quality is mined and shipped to market.

In the '' sixties'' an oil well was put down 800 feet near Ridgway, but abandoned. In June, 1876, travelers noticed the old well flowing, and the oil stampede was resumed. About this time the oil well at Wilcox was blowing gas at a tremendous rate, and many residents felt certain they lived within the envied oil circle. The oil lease from David Scull to Maurice M. Schultz for an oil tract in Jones township, was entered March 19, 1877, and in April, Alonzo Field leased lands there to W. L. Holman, T. W. Ryan and W. W. Griffith. The lease on the Mulroy lands in Benezette was made in February to R. W. Petrikin, Julius Jones, George Rolfe, S. P. Romig and D. A. Waddell. The same parties leased several tracts in that and adjoining townships, making the actual beginnings of oil leases in this county.

On the Julius Jones farm, one mile west of Benezette, on Bennett's Creek. '' The Nearest Oil Company'' (which is composed of numerous Bradford speculators) cleaned out, in February, 1890, an old hole drilled in 1882, during the Cherry Grove excitement. When the well was first drilled there was a showing for a good twenty or twenty-five barrel well, but owing to the discouraging outlook for a better price for oil at that time, the well was abandoned. G. W. Newman, the principal projector of the modern prospecting, states that the company own 6,000 acres in the vicinity.

The Ernhout & Taylor well No. 1, at Wilcox, reached a depth of 276 feet in February, 1878, and work on the Benezette well was commenced. Schultz No. 3 was yielding three to five barrels; a well on the Hedsnecker farm was commenced, also one on the Bridgetown tract, and one for Boughton, Frisbee & Van Sickle on Big Mill creek. In March Capt. Ernhout leased 117 acres at Whistletown and the Osterhout lands along the Clarion, in Jones and Ridgway. townships, for oil prospecting purposes.... In June, 1880, the Hiding's well at Daguscahonda was down to third sand.... Hallock & Johnson's well in Millstone township, near Raughts, was shot in July, 1881, and a 1,200-barrel tank erected. The Johnsonburg well, six miles south of Wilcox, was then reported yielding from fifty to seventy-five barrels per day.

The Grant & Horton gas well was struck in June, 1883, at 2,300 feet, and a light oil producer the same month....In May, 1885, the White, Oyster & Short gas well was drilled at Johnsonburg, and in June a gas

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