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HISTORY OF FOREST COUNTY FOREST COUNTY.

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CHAPTER I.

TOPOGRAPHY. AND NATURAL HISTORY.

Boundary And Area—Population—Forests—Streams—Elevations— MinErals—oil Fields,Etc.—Oil Litigation—Oil Mysteries—Scouts—Fires, Etc.—Lumbering—Miscellaneous.

FOREST COUNTY is bounded on the north by the south line of Warren county, on the east by the west line of Elk county, on the south by the north lines of Jefferson and Clarion counties, and on the west by the east line of Venango county, the east line being 1° 58' west of Washington, and the west line 2° 38' west. The area is 431 square miles or 275,840 acres.

The population in 1860 was 988, increased by 1870 to 4,010, owing principally to the fact that in October, 1866, five townships of Venango county were attached to the new county. The population in 1880 was 4,385. In November, 1888, there were 917 Republican votes, 612 Democratic, 72 Prohibitionist, and one Union Labor cast, or 1,602 votes, showing an estimated population of 8,010 inhabitants.

The most of the land in Forest county is heavily timbered with beech, sugar-maple, hemlock, ash and cherry. White oak is also found here, and more than one mill gives almost exclusive attention to the sawing of hard wood. Years ago the great body of pine was removed, but to-day the hemlock forests more than fill the place of the ancient pines, yielding material to the lumberman as well as to the bark peeler. Throughout the valleys are several productive farms, and on some of the plateaus the true agriculturist finds his labor rewarded.

The Allegheny assumes the character of a large and beautiful river in its course through the western townships. For centuries it worked through those hills forming islands, changing shore lines and carrying away clayey substances, making for the present a well-defined channel with its bed on solid layers of shattered shale or heavy gravel. Here the aborigines had their lodges, and hither came the itinerant enthusiast—Zeisberger, to dwell for a term among the savages. The Tionesta, another large stream, enters the river at the county seat, forming a communication with the interior settlements. The minor streams are described as follows, the description being taken from Daniel Harrington's sketches written in 1879-80:

"Salmon creek heads near Marien, the old county seat, or Blood's Settlement, as it was originally called. It runs a northwest course and empties into the Tionesta two and a half miles above Newtown Mills. Salmon creek and the Branch are both excellent water powers. The stream called the Branch, heads about three miles south of Balltown, runs a westerly course, about parallel with Tionesta creek, and empties into Salmon creek about a mile from its mouth. Hazelton ran comes into Tionesta from the north. One mile higher up Fork run comes in, also from the north, and opposite. Salmon creek empties from the south. One mile above these streams is Minister creek, on the north side of the Tionesta. The hills on both sides of these last mentioned streams have all been chopped over for the pine timber. Here and there a farm has been cleared on the ridges. Just above the mouth of Minister stands the old Minister mill, now but a wreck of its former self. It was a water power, and in its day turned out millions of feet of lumber. The timber is gone, and there was no further use for the mill. Next come Buck Mills, or Panther Rock, one mile above Minister. The pine is getting scarce around this mill, and will not last more than two or three years longer. Buck is also a water power. Some hemlock is now cut, of which there is a good supply on the Hook lands. There is also considerable ash and cherry in the neighborhood. Panther run comes into Tionesta from the south. It is a small stream, only two miles in length. There is only a narrow ridge between its head and the Branch. Then comes Bob's creek from the north. It is a good sized stream at the mouth, but forks about a mile up. About all the pine timber is gone on both sides of this run. It is about two miles from Buck Mills to the mouth of Bob's creek. On the right of this stream is the highest ridge in all this section of country. A tire ran over it some years ago and killed all the timber. There is a splendid view from the top of the ridge. Eastward you can see down the valley of the Porcupine, which runs easterly, till it empties into the Tionesta, a mile above Balltown. You can see up Tionesta creek three or four miles, and on the west you can see clear across the valleys of Big and Little Coon creeks into Clarion county, near Fryburg. This highest ridge belongs to Col. James Bleakley, in Franklin. As it has never been developed, it may contain more wealth than the International Bank. Porcupine run empties into the Tionesta on the north side, one mile below Minister. Orris Hall has built a mill on the last named stream, and there is some lumber to run from that quarter.

"At the mouth of Big Coon creek, six miles above Tionesta, was a great crossing for deer and bears. The wolves used to run deer in on the ice and kill them, so that the traveler could often see carcasses on the ice. Bluejay creek heads up toward Marienville and it is about as large as Big Coon creek. At an early day it was full of trout, but constant fishing has made them scarce. The woods along the stream were alive with deer, bears and wolves. Several natural licks were found along the creek, which were frequented by deer night and day, unless some hunter molested them, which was very seldom. Bluejay comes into the Tionesta from the south. About three miles above Balltown are two little streams that Kingsley called the Blue and White Sheriffs. These names came about in this way: Sheriff Arthur Robinson, of Venango county, and Sheriff Littlefield, of Warren county, were laying out the State road from the mouth of Tionesta creek, then in Venango, to Sheffield township, in Warren county. The road ran up the creek. One of the sheriffs was dressed in blue clothing, and the other wore a light summer suit. From this, Kingsley, who was of a waggish nature, named the streams." Hickory creek rises in Limestone township, Warren county, and flowing southwest enters the Allegheny at East Hickory. Numerous streams run south or southeast through Harmony township into the main river, while Millstone and Maple creeks belong to the southern townships.

The ridge which runs in a northeastern direction, from Tylersburg in Clearfield county, at an elevation of 1,027 feet, to Howard Hill, in McKean county, is generally known as the "Big Level ridge." The summit of this ridge is a gradually ascending one from its southwestern to its northeastern end. At Tylersburg the elevation is 1,627; at Marienville, 1,728; near Sheffield Junction, 1,885; at Spring Creek, 1,950; at Kane, 2,020, and at Howard hill, 2,249 feet. Along the crest of the ridge, from Tylersburg to Howard hill (forty miles, in an air line), there is scarcely a break, where its summit has been eroded more than fifteen or twenty-five feet below the line of this ascending plane. This ridge is capped with Johnson Run sandstone with overlying shale at some points. Among the measured elevations, old Pollard log-house. 1,770 feet above tide; northwest quarter of warrant 3177, 1,810; at the Indian doctor's house (Harris), 1,790; Eldridge's summit, 1,860; Marienville summit, 1,805; Marienville, 1,715; Oakwoods summit, 1,750; Hazlett's spring, 1,770; Nebraska bridge, 1,095; Tionesta hill, west of the Allegheny, 1,595; Wheeler's ridge, 1,645; Hickory depot, 1,092; Cunningham's ridge, 1,750; Copeland's hill, 1,680; Big level, on Elk county line, 1,912; Kinnear's (Hunter's shanty), between the sources of Millstone Creek and Wolf run, 1,770 feet; Byrom's depot, 1,812; Redclyffe cross-roads, 1,615; hill opposite Foxburg, 1,500, and Tionesta depot, 1,058 feet.

The general compiled section of the coal measures found in the county, and more particularly in Jeuks township, showing 334 feet, is as follows:

1. Shales and sandstones 50' 8. Shales and slate 10'

2. Clarion coal bed 2' 3" 9. Kinzua creek sandstone, lower

3. Johnson run sandstone 70' er member 40'

4. Alton Upper coal bed 3' 10. Marshburg slates, containing a

5. Shales and slates 5'to 10' coal bed two feet thick 10'

6. Alton Lower coal bed 4' 11. Olean conglomerate 100'

7. Kinzua creck sandstone, up

per member 40'

The first coal mined was at Balltown. In 1869-70 coal was sold at the old Everhart bank, two miles from Newmanville. for seven cents per bushel, while at Tionesta the price was 25 cents. In 1875 William Heath opened his mine, followed by Peter Young.

In 1845 an Indian from Wisconsin came hither to explore the mineral lands of which he heard the old men of his tribe speak. After a search of several weeks he returned disappointed. Some years before a white man was taken hither blindfolded, and the visor lowered to permit him to see the silver mines. In 1867 a Frenchman came hither from the west to search for the mysterious silver deposit, but was unsuccessful. Within a mile of the old Daniel Huddlestone farm, in Tionesta township, on warrant 2827, are the ditches of prehistoric miners, which were first explored by James Evans, of Franklin.

Two miles above the mouth of Little Hickory was the Cross furnace, which was abandoned after a number of years for want of more limestone .... From 1826 to 1831 the Tionesta furnace existed near the west end of Creek bridge, its site being visible in 1870. The pigs were taken down the river in a seven-ton vessel, known as "Gen. Hay's Big Canoe". ... In C. Gillespie's water well at Whig hill, twelve miles up Tionesta creek, a four-foot vein of iron ore was discovered in November, 1867.

OU Fields.—From 1862 to 1865 residents of the county as well as travelers up and down the river asked themselves why oil did not exist in this section of the Allegheny valley as well as on Oil Creek. To satisfy the querists, one or two ventures were made in the latter year. The well on the Holemau flats, drilled in 1865, began to flow in November, 1867. On Sugar run, one and one-fourth miles below Nebraska, is the scene of the oil excitement of 186566, when a number of wells were drilled from 360 to 500 feet, oil being found

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