Civic Histories - Thomas Hosick's History
Rural Valley, Cowanshannock Township and Vicinity
A True History
Portraying the Present Resources, Advantages and Prospects of this Interesting Section of Armstrong County
Issued from the Job Rooms
The Armstrong County Record
In presenting this sketch of Rural Valley and Cowanshannock Township to the public, I do so with the hope of showing the past history, the present prosperity and the future needs of this valley. It is hoped that this book may fall into the hands of men of means who will come and be convinced that no better place for manufacturing concerns can be found in the State. To those who are seeking permanent homes we would say that no fairer and happier surroundings can be found anywhere.
It is also my hope that this little sketch may fall into the hands of the public school teachers, and that they will not only begin to teach home history, but also home geography.
T. G. Hosick
Rural Valley, Pa., January 6, 1900.
The County of Armstrong derived its name from Col. John Armstrong, who was sent against the Indians at Kittanning during the French and Indian war. The County was formed from parts of Westmoreland, Allegheny and Lycoming Counties. The County was organized by the Act of March 12, 1800, and the first court was held in a log house on the present site of the Reynolds House in December, 1807. The County has an area of 612 square miles, and a population of 46,747 by the census of 1890.
In the beginning the County was mostly devoted to agricultural pursuits, but as early as 1830 the manufacturing of iron began to be an important industry, and at one time the County took the lead as an iron producing region.
Of late years, the manufacture of glass and chinaware has become an important industry in the County. Gas has been found in abundant supplies, and now much of this valuable fuel is piped to Pittsburg, and many local establishments are supplied. Coal has long been known to exist in the County in abundant quantities, and is now being operated very extensively, and ere long Armstrong will be noted as one of the largest fuel producing sections of the State.
Efforts were made as early as 1841 to erect a new Township from parts of Kittanning, Wayne and Plumcreek, but it was not until December 22, 1848, that the petition received the sanction of the court, and the new district took the name of Cowanshannock Township.
The boundaries are as follows: Beginning at the purchase line on the Elgin farm, thence north 62 rods to Cowanshannock creek; thence north 6 degrees east 898 rods to a stone near Plum creek; thence east 8 miles to the Indiana County line; thence south along said County line 4 miles and 100 rods to a chestnut tree at the purchase line; thence south 37 degrees west along said County line 3 miles to a post; thence north 75 degrees west 7 1/2 miles to a post at the Kittanning Township line; thence north 24 degrees east along said Township line 2 miles and 14 rods to the purchase line, the place of beginning.
The Township has an area of about 30,000 acres, and a population of 2170, according to the census of 1890. The purchase line crosses the township from a chestnut on the Indiana County line, and passes near where the Templeton school house once stood, and continues south of the creek, passing through the brick house on the John Boyer farm, and strikes the western boundary about 60 rods south of the creek opposite the Elgin farm. This line marked the northern limits of land purchased from the Indians in 1768, and also marked the northern limit of Westmoreland County previous to the organizatioin of Armstrong County one hundred years ago.
Samuel Cassady, the father of George and Samuel Cassady, was the first Justice of the Peace in Cowanshannock Township. Samuel Elgin, Samuel Fleming and William McIntosh were some of the first School Directors of the Township. George Stewart, father of J. C. Stewart, of Rural Valley, was the first Judge of Election.
The first settlements in the Township were made on Plum creek, Black's Run and near Barnards. John Kirkpatrick made a settlement near where Kirkpatrick's store now stands, as early as 1800, and James Kirkpatrick lived where Robert Neal now resides at the beginning of the century. A block house stood near where Kemmels now live about one and one-half miles southeast of Elderton, and in this James Kirkpatrick once took refuge from the Indians. Here, while he was fighting the red men, his child in the cradle was killed by a bullet from the enemy. James Simpson settled on the farm where Mrs. Mary Hosick now lives as early as 1806. He is reputed to have owned the first wagon in the Township. The first store in the valley was on the farm now occupied by Robert McFarland. This store was opened by John Patterson, who came from Washington County early in the century. It was on the McFarland farm that Rural Valley postoffice was first established, but in 1836 Mr. Patterson concluded to start a town where Rural Valley now stands, and accordingly purchased land from Hamlet Totton [sic], laid out forty lots, and Mr. A. L. Robinson auctioned them off, and sold twenty-five the first day. These lots were all east of the alley which separates the Presbyterian church lot from that of R. M. Trollinger.
As early as 1827 Allen Foster built a house near where the Kirkpatrick house now is, but it was not until 1836 that building was extensively done. The house where Mrs. J. M. Pettigrew and Mrs. John Gourley now live were among the first buildings in town.
In 1839 Alexander Foster and his sons employed Jonathan E. Meredith to lay out lots west of the part formerly planned by John Patterson, and, since the place had already the assurance of a town, the lots were sold rapidly and at a better price than the first plan. Among the purchasers of these lots were Joseph Buffington, Samuel Cassady, James Gourly, Martin Schreconghost, A. L. Robinson and James Strain.
Thomas Pervinance [sic] early established a store in the village, and soon John Patterson moved his store there, and with him went the Rural Valley postoffice from the Robert McFarland farm to its present location.
A Presbyterian Church had been built as early as 1834, near the Elgin farm, but after a hotly contested fight, it, too, was removed to Rural Village, and a new building was erected where the old school building stood, just south of the cemetery. For some time Rev. Joseph Painter was pastor of this church, but the first resident pastor was Rev. James D. Mason. Rev. Forbs [sic] succeeded him, and Rev. Morgan came in 1854, and remained as pastor to the time of his death in 1875.
The first Rural Valley church building was also used for a select school, and from this school went out many men who have been prominent in many of the professions. In 1850 a new church building was erected by the Presbyterian congregation on the lots presented by John Patterson. The building stood where the present one does, on the north side of the Clearfield Pike. Again in 1892 a new building was erected, which is one of the most handsome church buildings in this part of the county.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in Rural Village in 1851 and '52, and a building was begun in 1852, and was used until 1892, when it was sold, and is now used for a town hall. In 1892 a handsome building was erected on the lot where the first one stood. This building presents a beautiful appearance, and is remarkable for the convenience and arrangement within.
For a long time Rural Valley Church belonged to the Dayton circuit, but of late years it has been connected with the churches at Echo, Whitesburg and Simpson's, and the present pastor is Rev. Sheets.
The first school in the Township was erected before 1820, and stood on the Ormond farm, about 100 rods southwest from the old homestead. The Kirkpatricks from Barnards, the Fitzgeralds from Black's Run, and the Turneys from where the coal tipple now is, attended that school, and judging from the distance some of these persons traveled to reach school, that must have been the first and only one in the Township at that time. John McCune, grandfather of Dr. Charles McCune, of Plumville, Pa., was the first teacher of the school. Hamlet Totten taught there in 1828. At a very early date there was a school building on the Sloan farm, near where William Sloan now lives, and this building, like the one on the Ormond farm, was built of logs and was furnished with slabs for seats, and greased paper was used for window lights. It was heated with wood, which was burned in a great wide fireplace. On the McCoy farm, near where the Owl Hollow school now stands, was a school building in which John Russell was the first teacher, and on Plum Creek, near Devinney's, was a still house, the upper story of which was used for a school room.
After the free school law of 1835 went into operation, school buildings became more numerous, and soon after the Township was organized school buildings were located near where the present ones now stand.
The still house was an early institution in this Township, as it was in other parts of the County and State. On the farm now owned by C. J. Stewart stood a still house which did an immense business for many years.
Among the early settlers was John Schrecenghost, who settled on the farm where William Schrecenghost now lives. John was called "Gentleman John," on account of the fine clothes he wore. He was a blacksmith, and holds the honor of making the first plows used in the Township.
The turnpike leading from Kittanning to Clearfield was authorized by an Act of 1830, and was completed a few years later. For some time toll was charged on that road, but later it was made free to the public. It was the intention to have this pike turn to the northeast near Greendale, but the citizens in the vicinity of Rural Village pledged themselves to build some miles of road near there, providing the pike was put through the valley.
About 1819, Jacob Beer erected a grist mill where Louster's mill now stands, and soon it was successively transferred to Henry McBride, John Hughs, J. C. Willt and John Boyer. The Lousters secured the property in 1866, and it is now under management of Henry and W. P. Louster, and is known as the North Star Mill.
Cowanshannock Township furnished some soldiers for the war of 1812, and also for the Mexican war, but when the civil war came her sons went to the front and her daughters assumed the burdens of home, and all along that fearful border line from the rocky banks of the Potomac to the glistening peaks of the Ozarks, moulder the bones of the men who went out to fight for freedom, unionism and the flag. In the late war with Spain, this Township sent Ira Montgomery, William Lewis, Porter Elwood, John F. Jewart and Lee Whitaker to the front to fight for freedom and overthrow tyranny.
In political contests Cowanshannock has never been successful in placing her men in high offices, yet we can boast of John Patterson, who was a member of the Legislature in 1832, and aided in passing the free school law. Henry Trollinger once held the office of Jury Commissioner, Jerry Elgin was Auditor, and Andrew Carson was lately County Auditor. J. C. Moore and Reuben Reirich, the present Jury Commissioners, are both natives of this Township.
In June, 1871, Lodge No. 766, of Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was instituted here with twenty-one members. In 1875 this Order built a hall, which continues a lodge room in the upper story, and a store room on the first floor. The Lodge meets on every Thursday evening, and has a large and growing membership, and although many of the original members have passed away, yet their sons are fast filling their places, and the prospects for the organization here are, indeed, bright.
In March, 1899, Chapter No. 71, of the American Insurance Union, was instituted here, and the organization now has a membership of about forty persons. The Chapter meets on the last Thursday of each month in the Odd Fellows Hall.
At the present time steps are being taken for the organization of a Building and Loan Association in the valley and many of the best business men seem to be interested in such an institution, and it is to be hoped that in a short time the organization will be completed and ready for business, and buildings of all kinds are greatly in demand. Already over two hundred shares of stock have been taken, and the organization and election of officers will take place on January 27, 1900.
The early settlers of Cowanshannock Township were mostly engaged in agricultural pursuits, and before the axe the forests and undergrowth gradually disappeared, and rich farming land took their places. To-day we have one of the best farming sections of the State, and along the beautiful Cowanshannock may be seen some of the best improved farms to be found anywhere. For many years the contented and happy tillers of the soil continued to cultivate the land, unaware of the rich mineral resources which lay in such abundance beneath the surface; but all things come to the patient just at the proper time. Soon coal veins were opened in different parts of the Township, and supplied the local demands, and still the people were uninformed as to the extent and variety of resources which lay deep in the bowels of the earth.
It seems that all great developments of any section must be started by persons from other places, and so it was in this valley. About 1889 Mr. Patrick Carnahan, of Glade Mills, Pa., came into the Township and leased large tracts of land for the purpose of testing for oil and gas, but for some reason those leases were allowed to die, and this section remained untested; but in January, 1892, Mr. Andrew Gallaher, of Rural Valley, and W. H. Howitt, of Buffalo, N. Y., began taking leases for oil and gas territory in this vicinity. Much of the land was leased by them at an annual rental of ten cents per acre, and $100 royalty on each producing well, and many of the leases extend for a period of fifteen years, although many were paid more than those figures in a few years.
DISTANCE FROM RURAL VALLEY TO
Atwood . . . . . . . 5 miles Marion Center . . . . 17 miles Apollo . . . . . . . 28 " Mosgrove. . . . . . . 14 " Avonmore . . . . . . 30 " Meredith. . . . . . . 1 " Brookville . . . . . 36 " New Bethlehem . . . . 18 " Bryan. . . . . . . . 3 " New Maysville . . . . 20 " Burnside . . . . . . 35 " Newville. . . . . . . 14 " Clarion. . . . . . . 32 " Punxsutawney. . . . . 25 " Cochran's Mills. . . 14 " Putneyville . . . . . 13 " Cherry Tree. . . . . 36 " Plumville . . . . . . 8 " Dayton . . . . . . . 8 " Smicksburg. . . . . . 10 " Elderton . . . . . . 8 " Shelocta. . . . . . . 11 " Echo . . . . . . . . 5 " Saltsburg . . . . . . 30 " Glen Campbell. . . . 31 " Trade City. . . . . . 16 " Hawthorn . . . . . . 18 " Worthington . . . . . 18 " Indiana. . . . . . . 20 " Willet. . . . . . . . 9 " Kittanning . . . . . 12 "
In June, 1892, the first gas well in Cowanshannock Township was begun; it is located on the farm recently purchased by the Cowanshannock Coal & Coke Company, from Andrew Gallagher, and is about 200 rods south-west of Rural Village. The test well proved to be a good gas producer and during the past eight years has made thousands of dollars for its owners. No sooner had this well proved the territory a gas producing region than other companies began to acquire land and rentals soon went up from ten cents per acre to 50, $1.50, 2,00 [sic] and some few as high as $3,00 [sic] per acre and royalties were advanced from $100, or $200, to $300 and $350 and some few got as high as $450 per well each year.
Soon Mr. W. H. Howitt's interests were purchased by the Eastern Oil & Gas Company and now this company has many wells and hundreds of miles of gas line and sells large quantities of gas to the Peoples' Co., who pipe it to Pittsburg and other manufacturing centers.
Rural Village and many farmers are supplied from the Eastern Oil & Gas Company's line and a large pump station is located near Louster's mill and the gas is forced on its way toward the city. The Pittsburg Plate Glass Company have much territory and many good producers in this locality and are still making efforts to produce more of this valuable fuel for their large concerns at Ford City, Tarentum and other places. The Philadelphia Company also hold much territory in the eastern part of the township and it is confidently expected that they will develop much of their holdings during the coming summer. A company is taking steps to develop some territory and build a gas line to Punxsutawney and other towns in that vicinity and it is quite probable that work on that enterprise will begin in the early spring.
The various gas companies which hold territory in this township pay out annually for rentals alone not less than $15,000 to the landowners. To give an idea of the number of wells and of the amount of money paid for royalties on producing wells, we herein give a list of all the wells which have thus far been drilled in the township. It will be observed that a total of 71 wells have been put down and that of those but six are non-producers, and that an annual royalty of almost $10,000 per year is paid.
List of Wells Drilled.
|$100||E. O. Co.||Eliza James||1 well|
|$300||E. O. Co.||Samuel Gourley||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||D. Schrecongost||1 well|
|$200||P. G. G. Co.||Andrew Carson||1 well|
|$200||E. O. Co.||John and Peter Brown||2 wells|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Jas. Powers||2 wells|
|$500||P. P. G. Co.||Jerry Elgin||2 wells|
|$300||P. P. G. Co.||Robt. Lynas||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Lias Schrecongost||1 well|
|$250||P. P. G. Co.||John Hill||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||E. Z. Schrecongost||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Robt. McFarland||1 well|
|$900||P. P. G. Co.||Robt. Elgin||2 wells|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Christ Shetler||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Samuel Rarie||1 well|
|Nothing||P. P. G. Co.||Henry Lauster||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||A. and J. Glazner||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Kate Stepp||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Andrew Sowers||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Moses Beer||1 well|
|Dry||E. O. Co.||Jacob Boyer||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Wm. Bell||1 well|
|Dry||E. O. Co.||Reuben Rearie||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Robt. Bowser||1 well|
|Dry||P. P.||Henry Wampler||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||J. M. Pettigrew||1 well|
|$375||E. O. Co.||L. F. Kroh||2 wells|
|$200||E. O. Co.||R. J. Yount||1 well|
|Dry||E. O. Co.||G. K. Ormond||1 well|
|$500||P. P. G. Co.||Joseph Sowers||2 wells|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Wm. Carson||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Wm. Turney||1 well|
|$200||P. P. G. Co.||Wm. Kelley||1 well|
|$200||E. O. Co.||Turney Cogley||1 well|
|$200||P. P. G. Co.||C. O. Schrecongost||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||B. U. Schrecongost||1 well|
|$750||P. P. G. Co.||Wm. A. Schrecongost||3 wells|
|$200||P. P. G. Co.||McAfoos||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Wm. Bittinger||1 well|
|Dry||Home Co.||Ed Schrecongost||1 well|
|$200||E. O. Co.||Henry Goldstrom||2 wells|
|Nothing||P. P. G.||Jas. Elgin||1 well|
|$100||E. O.||Mrs. Mary Ramer||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||John Rosenberger||1 well|
|$250||Phila. Co.||Boyers heirs||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Seitz heirs||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Rudolph Smith||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Eliza McCurdy||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||A. and S. McCurdy||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Margaret Wampler||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||John Bell||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Madison Wagner||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||Albert Bowser||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||A. J. McIntosh||1 well|
|$200||P. P. G. Co.||W. F. Caruthers||1 well|
|Nothing||P. P. G. Co.||Geo. Reisinger||1 well|
|$100||E. O. Co.||G. A. Gourley heirs||1 well|
|$900||E. O. Co.||Neal heirs||2 wells|
|Dry||Home Co.||A. E. Jewart||1 well|
|$200||E. O. Co.||A. Gallaher||2 wells|
But while all these developments in the gas industry were going on it only stimulated the people to make inquiries regarding the coal veins which lay beneath the surface and it was soon learned that many coal veins existed in the valley. Some leases for coal land were taken as early as 1891, but they were not sold and for a few months interest in the matter ceased. During the summer of 1892, Mr. J. R. Ambrose, of Rural Village, was in Plumville, Pa., and there met Mr. Peter McCauley and Mr. Wilson, of Punxsutawney, Pa., and in conversation with these gentlemen, Mr. Ambrose stated that he believed that there was much coal in the Cowanshannock valley and these men soon became interested and soon came here and began to lease coal land, at from $30 to $40 per acre, but these leases were never sold and again interest in the matter died. In a year leases were again taken by these gentlemen, but another failure to sell caused many people to lose faith in the enterprise, yet the men who had failed, thus far, to realize any returns, continued to take up leases again and again, until most of the land had been leased no less than six different times before a final sale was made. About 1897, Mr. Clayton North, his brother, and Mr. Peter McCauley went into partnership and began taking leases for coal lands in the valley and after much effort and expense on the part of these gentlemen and others, the American coal company was chartered and became interested in the leases, and about the same time, Mr. L. W. Robinson, general manager for the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg coal & iron company began to investigate the qualities and extent of the coal field.
Soon some test holes were put down with a diamond drill and the thickness and quality of the coal was ascertained. In the summer and fall of 1898, the drill was kept steadily at work, and about the same time some leases were purchased from McCauley by the American Coal Company, and also the Norths made some sale of their leases to parties in the east through Mr. Robinson. But some dispute arose regarding some of the sales and a legal contest was waged in the Jefferson County courts regarding the matter.
In March, 1899, the first coal land in Cowanshannock Township was bought and paid for by L. W. Robinson. The checks were signed and deeds made to Adrian Islin, the millionaire capitalist of New York City. Among the first to sell coal land here were C. B. Lias, L. F. Kroh, James Oaks, Resinger Yount, William Carson and J. C. Moore.
Diamond drills were kept running all this time, and the country was thoroughly tested. Land was bought up as rapidly as the people could be induced to sell, and all the spring and summer of 1899, will long be remembered by the people of this valley as the time when people who had no money and were, often times, in debt were able to carry bank books and felt like persons of means. Indeed, the people were surprised that after so many years of excitement, leasing and re-leasing, hope and despair, joy and sorrow, the coal lands were really sold, and the future development of the great coal region had actually begun.
About 8,00 [sic] acres of coal land were bought and paid for at the rate of from $30 to $40 per acre, or at least $300,000 had been brought into the Township and distributed among the land owners.
The following farms were bought entirely, and are now owned by the Coal Company: William Carson, Peter Turney, Andrew Gallagher, George Reizinger, Neal heirs, Patterson heirs, J. M. Pettigrew, the Foster farm, the Shetler farm, Patterson Bros., Henry Schall and the Caruthers farm.
This makes a total of about 1,000 acres of coal and surface, and the average price was about $100 per acre, or a total of $100,000. The coal consists of three veins, but the one which pays best and is being operated enters the Township from the west and dips toward the south and east, and is found to the south of Cowanshannock creek, but is opened and has been worked for many years on the north side. From the Turney farm, where the mine and tipple are, the coal sinks or dips quite rapidly, and at Rural Village the vein is about one hundred feet below the surface, and the basin seems to be near the Meredith farm, from which place it gradually rises and comes to the surface again on the Wilson farm near Plumville. The coal vein varies in thickness from four feet near the surface to five and one-half feet at the lowest point beneath the surface. The coal is what is termed the C vein of Freeport coal, and is considered the finest quality of coking coal to be found in this part of the State.
On the 5th of July engineers were set to work to survey a line of railroad from Echo, on the main line of the A. & W., to the new coal field in the vicinity of Rural Village, and in a few weeks construction of the line was begun. The road is now completed, and consists of about eight miles of road. From Echo the line rises for about two miles at the rate of sixty feet to the mile, until the summit, or divide between Cowanshannock and Pine Creek is reached on the Schrecenghost farm. Here a cut of about 30 feet is made, and the road begins a gradual descent of about 52 feet to the mile and enters the valley at the Neal farm; here it continues on down the north side of the creek until the Goldstrom farm is reached. A rise is made on the Reisinger farm, and the road takes the south side of the creek and continues east until the Turney farm is reached, where two openings have been made, and one of the finest tipples in the State is erected. On the same farm the company is erecting a machine shop, blacksmith shop, electric light plant, air compressors, and other machinery for the running of their vast operation, which, when finished, will be one of the most extensive and complete mining plants in the country.
On the Neal farm a branch road is constructed from the Echo branch up the valley past the Valley Hotel and the Company store to the Kroh plan of lots. The work of laying the rails on the Rural Valley branch was completed about the first of the present year, and it can be readily seen with what dispatch the work is being carried on, when we consider what has been done in the past six months. The Company has already completed ten houses on the Turney farm and ten on the Carson farm. They have erected a fine hotel of forty rooms on the Neal farm, and will have the Company store ready for occupancy by the first of April. The Valley Hotel contains all the latest improved apparatus, and when furnished will be the most magnificent public house in the County. The Company store is a large one, and when completed will surpass anything in that line in the County.
It is said that a contract for two hundred and fifty houses has been let, and that work on these buildings will begin as soon as the spring opens, and weather will permit work of that kind.
There is much certainty that the Rural Village branch will be extended on up the valley, and that another opening will be made somewhere near the Meredith farm, as there is much coal in the eastern part of the Township which will be purchased and operated.
A corps of engineers began January 22nd the survey of a line toward the southeast, and will continue into the Plumcreek valley, and it is supposed that this line will connect with a line from Glen Campbell, which will follow Crooked creek, and the road will then be extended on into Pittsburg. This seems a plausible conclusion when we consider that the Beech Creek and Philadelphia & Reading have combined, and will buy the Pittsburg & Eastern, and if that line were extended from the present terminus near Glen Campbell on into Pittsburg, and the B. R. & P. were to join with them in the construction of the road, then a through line could be secured from New York and Philadelphia through Pittsburg to Chicago and the west, and the B. R. & P. would then be able to ship coal east, west and north. Rural Valley would be placed within fifty miles by rail of Pittsburg, and all these extensions would tap rich coal land and a fine producing country.
For some time engineers have been at work surveying a line from near Kittanning to Rural Village, and we have every reason to suppose that this survey is being made in the interests of men who will secure a charter for a trolley line from Kittanning to this place. Much of the right of way can be secured at little cost, and there is almost a certainty that work on the new line will begin early in the spring. This enterprise will make our valley easily reached from the county seat, and will aid much in securing manufacturing establishments to locate here. The merchants of Kittanning would be in easy reach of the thousands of people of this vicinity, who are now compelled to haul much of their grain and produce twelve miles to market, and it would cause much trade to be taken to that city, providing such a line would haul freight as well as passengers.
But coal and gas are not the only mineral product which is found in this rich valley, for a thick vein of limestone enters the Township from the west and underlies the entire Township, but is extensively used in the western part.
Fire clay of the finest quality underlies the surface above the coal, and the drill has shown the vein to vary from five to seventeen feet in thickness. The color of this clay is grayish blue, and a careful analysis of it has shown the following:
Undetermined Matter, .65
The writer has the best evidence that this is one of the most interesting and useful veins of fire clay to be found in the country and it may be made useful since it lies in a position from which it may be taken with little labor.
There is also another vein of clay in the Township which contains a large percentage of iron, and would be well adapted for the manufacture of paving and structural brick. With such an abundance of gas and coal we can see no reason why the manufacturing of all kinds of brick and tile may not become an important industry in this locality.
Going toward the eastern part of the Township, we find some fine sand stone and building stone, which could be made into the finest building material, as they have a beautiful appearance and are easily worked. There are also some beds of sand in that part of the Township which has the qualities and appearance of the sand used in the manufacture of glass.
In the southern part of the Township are some of the finest ledges of slate to be found anywhere. The slate is such as can be cut into curbing stone or paving stone. These ledges are near the surface, and can be worked with but little stripping.
WHAT WE NEED
There is no banking institution nearer than Kittanning, twelve miles away, and such an enterprise is bound to flourish in this place, for there is already a large business done here, and thousands of dollars which are now in banks in various places, would at once be withdrawn and placed in a home institution, if such were in operation. We predict that before a year such an enterprise will be established here, and we extend a hearty welcome by our citizens to the people who will first bring such a thing to our valley.
To manufacturers of glass, who are seeking new localities, we insist upon an investigation of our locality, for we have everything here which will tend to make a home for such an enterprise. Natural gas is more abundant that in other localities, and coal and coke are at our doors. We have a rich farming country, where all necessaries of life may be obtained at a minimum cost. We are within two hours ride of the great glass market, and will soon have a direct line into Pittsburg. Land can be obtained cheaply, and many of our people would willingly give land free to the investigators of any such concerns to locate here. To those who are looking for a location for any kind of an enterprise, we would say come, see and investigate for yourselves before you conclude to locate any other place.
Tile works and brick works are enterprises which will not long remain away from here, when it is once fully known what resources and advantages may be found in this vicinity. To those who may be contemplating such an enterprise, we can guarantee land and clay which is admirably adapted to the manufacture of the finest quality of fire brick. Clay for the manufacture of tile may be obtained for almost nothing, and land on which to build works will be given free.
A planing mill and lumber yard is almost a necessity in this valley, and it seems strange that such a thing has not been put in operation long before this, yet all the lumber is worked and shipped here, or hauled from Kittanning, or the region about Punxsutawney. Financial encouragement would be given to the parties who would engage in such an enterprise here, as our people are weary of paying high prices for material, and then have to bring it from twelve to twenty-five miles at their own expense.
A carriage and wagon factory in our midst would undoubtedly do well, as it is surprising when you remember that one agent alone sold eighty-three buggies in this Township during the past year, and it is estimated that no less than fifty new wagons have been purchased by our people during the same time period.
To those who are looking for a location for any kind of a manufacturing concern, we would say that it is your duty, before locating elsewhere, to come to Rural Village and investigate its resources and advantages, and you may be certain that you will receive encouragement by the whole vicinity, for our people are anxious to have the resources of this valley investigated, and her advantages known to all.
Large manufactories in the large cities, where taxes are high and advantages limited, should at least try the experiment of coming into the rural district, where fuel is cheap, and where homes for labor may be obtained for a small cost, where the necessaries of life may be obtained directly from the farm, the garden and the dairy. To all who are looking for new homes and better advantages, we extend a hearty welcome, and we feel confident that if you will but come to the beautiful Cowanshannock Valley and see the opportunities offered, you will willingly locate here and cause others to follow you.
CROOKED CREEK OIL FIELD
Passing to the southwestern part of Cowanshannock Township, where the coal veins enter from Plumcreek and Kittanning Townships, we find the nearest anticlinal in the Freeport and Kittanning veins of coal, and from this ridge, or top of the dip, the coal begins to slope or dip in two directions; first toward the south and east through the Cowanshannock valley, and second toward the south and west toward the Allegheny river and Crooked Creek. This south and eastern dip has been acquired and is being operated by the Cowanshannock Coal & Coke Company and their territory will extend on into the Plumcreek valley and Indiana County, as has been shown in previous pages; but the south and western slope extends into Kittanning, Plumcreek, Manor and Burrel Townships, and underlies an area of not less than 2,000 acres. The coal is from four to five feet in thickness in what is known as the upper Freeport vein, and while the lower and Kittanning veins are not so thick, yet they are of good quality, and in all this territory many mines are opened and supply the local demand for fuel.
Most of the mines are opened from the west and southwest so that drains can be opened and the mines drained in the same direction in which the coal dips. The openings may be found in almost all parts of Plumcreek, Kittanning, Manor and Burrel townships, and it seems strange that no mines for shipment of coal have yet been opened in all that region.
The mines could be operated without the expense of costly machinery for pumping mines, as a perfect system of drainage and an easy means of hauling could be secured by making the opening along Crooked creek and driving the entries in the direction of the rise of the coal vein. But that coal field has a still more important advantage in the fact that it is nearer the markets and already has means of transportation almost at hand. It might be necessary to build a branch road from the Allegheny Valley, at Rosston, up Crooked creek for five or six miles, in order to get a suitable opening, tipple and mining locality, and in that way the coal could be sent to Pittsburg and other markets at low cost, as the entire region is not more than forty miles from that city. Again, the coal could be shipped north over the Allegheny Valley, the W. N. Y. & P., and their connections directly to the Canadian market.
When the work of building slackwater dams on the Allegheny river is once completed, then the coal could be placed in barges and sent to southern markets as cheaply as is now done from the Monongahela region. By the Allegheny Valley and the West Penn, the products of this same region could be placed on the markets of Philadelphia, New York and other seaport cities, or the branch from the Allegheny Valley might be extended on about 25 miles to Indiana and there connect directly with the Pennsylvania, or a line of about forty miles would connect with the Beech Creek system at Mahaffy, Clearfield county, Pa., and either of these extensions would open up a region rich in coal, iron, lime stone and other materials.
But all these townships have other resources which need but the aid of enterprise and capital to cause them to develop in usefulness and profit. Just below the upper Freeport coal is found a bed of lime stone which has a thickness of from six to eight feet and can be and now is worked, but if this product were placed on the market, there is no good reason why it would not be taken by the furnaces of Pittsburg and vicinity, in preference to hauling that material from the region east and south of Altoona, Pa., as is now done by many of the Pittsburg furnaces.
Sand stone, containing much silica, is found all through this region and by crushing and extracting this mineral, good results could be obtained, as silica sand is used extensively in the manufacture of glass at Ford City, Tarentum and other places. The same veins of fire clay which are found in the Cowanshannock valley extends into the Crooked Creek valley and there can be no doubt but that these veins will be investigated and used in a short time, as the demand for material from which to manufacture brick constantly increases.
It was thought for some time, that the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburg Coal & Iron company would extend their Rural Valley branch on into Kittanning and Manor townships and acquire all that coal land, but it seems scarcely probable, when it is remembered that that road has no connection with the Allegheny Valley, and therefore no entrance into Pittsburg in that direction. But, to those who are interested in mineral lands in this section, it must seem reasonable to predict that before many months some person with capital and enterprise will secure that territory and thus open up another coal field in Armstrong county.
Supplemental information from back cover of 1988 reprint
The following was taken from the History of Armstrong County, 1914, by Beers, page 519:
"The Rural Valley Advance was started by T. G. Hosick January 1, 1901, with a business, news and editorial office in Rural Valley, the mechanical work being done in the Record office in Kittanning. This state of affairs continued until August 1, 1901, when O. S. Marshall bought the Record and he and Mr. Hosick consolidated the two newspapers, moving the printing plant of the latter to Rural Valley. The publication of the Record was then discontinued, the interests of all being represented by the Advance, which was issued by the firm of Marshall & Hosick. The paper was published in the old town hall (which was formerly the Old Methodist Church building (1852), moved to the rear of 827 N. Main Street & Cemetery Avenue in 1892 and used as a town hall, until 1901 when the Rural Valley Advance used it as an office until 1908 when it was torn down.) In March 1902, O. S. Marshall purchased the interest of his partner. The Advance continued under different owners until December 1942 when it was discontinued."