South Beaver Township
805 Blackhawk Rd. Beaver Falls, PA 15010
724-846-9320 Fax 724-843-8997
History of South Beaver Township
If you have picture's or something of interest you would like to share with the township, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Items typed in red in the excerpt below have been added by me in an attempt to update the information.
by Louise Martin Mohler
July 8, 1966
Much of the township where farms, roads, and houses now stand was, about four million years ago, a part of a mass of land known as "Appalachia". During this early Cambrian era it was a swampy land mass that rose and sank alternately for a few million years, It had a heavy cover of vegetation which formed, eventually, the vast coal deposits as well as sandstone and shale. On the Ernest Groth farm has been found many fossilized rocks containing marine life and shells. Also, two similar rocks were found which were at first thought to be the hooves of an early prehistoric animal but now they are believed to be petrified stalks of plants.
During the next age, the Triassic period, the forces of erosion wore away thousands of feet of the old strata and the land became closer to the level of the sea.
The first inhabitants were a part of the Paleo-Indian Epoch that date from 18,000 to 8,000 years ago or from 16 to 6000 B.C. They lived as stone age inhabitants, were game hunters and moved from place to place.
The next era of Indian pre-recorded history is the Archaic Epoch from 8,000 to 3,000 years ago. They are known for their graves and had the same general appearance as the Indians we know. (We do not know what the Paleo-Indian looked like.)
The Woodland Epoch stretches from 3,000 to 400 years ago and ended with the coming of the white man to this state. These inhabitants left behind many pieces of pottery, arrowheads, weapons, and other things which have been found in various parts of the township. They were much more advanced in their civilization and farmed, gathered food, fished, hunted, and cooked or boiled their food into stews and soups. They had many permanent houses and villages. However, they were small people about five feet five inches tall and weighed about 120 to 130 pounds.
Indians living in this territory were of Iroquionian extraction and were completed annihilated by the Iroquios tribe of the Five Nations about twenty years before William Penn arrived in the state. The land then became their hunting ground.
As the Indians in the eastern part of the country were forced westward by the white man, they passed across this region and some stayed for limited lengths of time. The Delawares arrived about 1760 followed by the Munsee (a Delaware tribe), then the Shawnees, the Mohicans (an Algonkian tribe), the Chippewas, the Ottawas, Mingos, Wyandots, and the Cherokees.
However, in 1780 the Federal Government allotted portions of the land to veterns of the Revolutionary War. But with the hostile Indians still present in the area, many of the new settlers were compelled to flee their homes, barely escaping with their lives. Later some returned to reclaim their acreage to find it occupied by someone else and many disputes resulted.
"Pennsylvania Population Company"
Further complications arose when large land companies, organized by wealthy people, endeavored to secure large tracts of this land. It was required to pay seven pounds, ten shillings per hundred acres. This township was bought almost entirely by one of these companies, the Pennsylvania Population Company. These companies in turn sold the property to the incoming settlers at a higher price. Also, some settlers ignored the boundaries and improved as much as 400 acres. Lawsuits and 1itgations resulted and it greatly hindered the settlement of the area. Large numbers moved on to Ohio and other northwest territories.
Only a few Indians remained after the Treaty was signed. Those that stayed were content, for the most part, to live peaceably. The last known Indian had his cabin on the north side of the North Fork of the Little Beaver Creek near the new Greif Brothers plant. He lived close to the first main road in the County. The road between Beaver Town and Youngstown passed aoross the east side of South Beaver Township.
A substantial Indian settlement was located at ths new Industrial Development site. It is also reported the famous Indian, Half King, a Delaware from Logstown had his hunting cabin in that region. The Watts Mill site is believed to have been a Mingo village.
The main route to the west passed through one side of the township. One resident living today, Harry Groetzinger, remembers the old Tuscarora Indian trail. It came close to the Lisbon Road and was several feet wide. The path was beaten bare of vegetation and a groove was worn several inches lower than the adjoining ground. It lead from Pittsburgh to Ohio and points west. As most Indian trails it stayed, for the most part, to the higher ground so the traveler could look down on any would be attacker .
"Land Divided and Subdivided"
In 1800 Beaver County was formed from Washington and Allegheny Counties. Land north of the Ohio River was considered to be "The Indian side of the river" . Only 8 few brave settlers lived here before the Treaty of Greenville, signed in 1795.
The name South Beaver is rather difficult for many to understand since it is in the northerm part of BeaverCounty but it was named this because it lies south of the North Fork of the Little Beaver Creek.
In 1800 there were 5,776 people living in the County and in 1810 1,351 lived in South Beaver Township. Then, Chippewa Township was formed cutting South Beaver almost in half. In 1820 the population was 829, with Chippewa having a population of 580. In recent years it has began to grow at a rapid rate:
With an area of 28.88 square miles.
Genealogy of the Community of South Beaver Township
One of the mysteries in the township is the "Rock". It is
situated on a high hill just south of the Little Beaver Creek.
It is about five feet long across the face and about three or
four feet wide and no one knows how deep into the ground
it goes. Some think is was an Indian Sun God, some think
it was the Rain God, and some think it was made by a
white man. The land was originally owned by a family
named White. The Elder farm adjoined the White land.
A living descendent, Chalmers Elder,states that as a small
lad Mr. White told him the family had hired a slightly
retarded farm hand that was also a stone mason. The man
was concerned about the birds, high up on the hill. He thus made this stone into an elaborate bird feeder. The round holes were for the feed, the square hole for the water. As Mr. Elder pointed out, why would Mr. White have told him this if it were not true. But to many the question remains unanswered. Were the Indians capable of carving the hard sandstone with their crude tools? Some say yes, and some say no. There are no other stones visible on the hill. Was the stone carted or carried up there? Was it a part of the landscape? Perhaps, no one will ever find the answer. Nevertheless, it remains an interesting part of our township.
The first mill on the Little Beaver Creek was Watts Mill. There was also a saw mill at the side. Frank Steele remembers going there as a boy, and since he was a lad of curious nature, he went down below to find out how it operated. He found that the mill wheel laid on its side. Perhaps, this is a unique feature as yet I've not found any other mill that operated in this fashion. It was especially well known for its buck wheat flour. Buck wheat can only be ground in cold weather. Residents brought their bags of buck wheat during the winter and picked them up a few days later. The entire mill burned during the First World War after it was struck by lightning. It burned January 14, 1915. It became known as Watts Mill after 1840 when its original owner and builder died.
George Foulkes built Watts Mill. George had a rather unusual background. In 1780 when George was eleven years old he was captured and carried off by the Indians. A brother, age18, was killed and scalped during the incident. His sister, age 9, Elizabeth along with two other boys and two other girls were also kidnapped. Elizabeth married eventually Samuel Whitaker, one of the other captives. George lived with the Indians for 18 years and was able to learn a great deal about the ways and habits of Indian living. After his release he became a close friend and scout of Captain Samuel Brady.
Upon his return from captivity he married Catherine Ulley and when peace was restored, he built his mill. George died in South Beaver Township in 1840.
The Watts Mill Bridge, constructed in 1878 by the West Penn Bridge Company, is located over the Little Beaver Creek in Cannelton. It is a pin-connected Pratt Pony truss bridge. It is an extremely early and rare example of a multi-span pony truss bridge using a continuous design. Continuous truss bridges were more common for larger bridges. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, at this time it was known as the Bridge in South Beaver. The bridge was closed in 2012.
Constructed in 1878. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Foulks and Watt's Mill, Burnt 1915..
Watts Mill Bridge removed in 2019 to be refurbished for historical purpose's, hopefully the bridge will be put back before the end of the year 2020.
"The First White Settler"
It is interesting to note that the first white settler north of the Ohio River was William Foulkes. Perhaps, he was directly related to George. He lived between Salem and the Little Beaver Creek, which would be in South Beaver Township. He is reported to have settled here in 1791, prior to the setting up of the land to the Revolutionary Veterans. When the land was purchased by the Pennsylvania Population Company a dispute and lawsuit followed. There were several other settlers living near William by this time but the first lawsuit was against only the Foulkes [family. He had by that time 80 acres under cultivation, a two story house and a double barn. The court verdict was in favor of the land company and an eviction notice was dispatched! When the sheriff and party reached the beginning of the Foulkes' lane they were fired upon by persons concealed in a thicket. James Hamilton, a zealous partisan of the land company and a settler under them was heard to say, "Sheriff, I am gone". Whereupon he died of a mortal gun shot wound. Nathanial Eakin, a neighbor of William's, was charged with the murder. This was the first murder trial in the County. The Jury, howevver, returned the verdict of not guilty.
The first murderer to be executed in Beaver County was also a South Beaver resident and the victim was too. John Ansley, who lived near Black Hawk, lost a large bay horse. Soon after its disappearance he thought he saw it being ridden by a twenty year old young man named Eli Sheets. Eli lived near what is now Brownie's Inn on Old Darlington Road. John went there to face Eli with the accusation. Word spread that John was on his way. Some time later John was found dead in the vicinity of Brownie 's Inn. He had been shot twice through the head, three times through the back and once through the arm, resulting in instant death. Eli was arrested and convicted and condemned to die by hanging. He escaped, however, from jail. He was free several days before the sheriff received a tip as to where he was hiding. He was. recaptured by a sheriff's party when found hiding under a bed in the home of Mrs. Dr. R. B. Barker, whose home was situated on the river's bank. He was finally executed on April 10, 1863
Aside from the Foulkes family, almost all the residents and land owners were of Scot, Irish, or English origin. They were likewise mostly of the Protestant faith, principally Presbyterian. In the 1876 Beaver County Atlas are pictures of ten of the township's homesteads.
"Churches and Cemetaries"
The earliest church within the boundaries of the present lines of the township was a Methodist Church. Only the foundation stones remain at the fork of Moore Road and OhioviIle Road (Route 168). There was no graveyard. We do not know when it was organized or when it passed from existence. The present Brush Run Methodist Church was started at the turn of this century.
There are two private family cemetaries. Both are less than a mile off of main roads in woodsy settings. The Johnston family plot is on the present Swartz farm on Sterling Road. An iron fence had been erected around the plot about 1920 which lasted about 25 years.
The Conkle Court Cemetary is located about a half mile west of the Ohioville Road on Lawrence McMillan's property. In the spring it is quite beautiful with daffodills and mountain laurel in bloom over the graves.
Brush Run Seceder Church was charted in 1798, located on Georgetown Road, South Beaver Township. The church relocated in 1848 to Old Darlington Road near Darlington and is now the First Presbyterian Church. Seceder cemetery existed since 1811 and is on the original site of the Brush Run Seceder Church.
"The Old Stone House"
This house is believed to be the oldest house in the township. It was built by the Wilson family just south of the banks of the Little Beaver Creek near the junction of Ohioville Road (Route 168) and State Route 51. It was abandoned fully furnished, piano and all, about 1955. A good slate roof has protected it somewhat from weathering. It sits now in the center of a mining operation. It was built in the early tradition of a kitchen with a huge fireplace and loft above. Perhaps, this was constructed first with the main house added later. The stone walls are three feet thick. The hand hewn beams show many ax marks in the attic. There is a fireplace in the main house and one in the upstairs bedroom. The shutters now swing squeakily in the wind.
There were 8 one-room schools operating in the township. No. 1, McElheny; No. 2, St. Rest ; No. 3, Grosscost; No. 4, Court; No. 5, Johnson; No. 6, Blueridge; No. 7, McCloy; and No. 8, Limelkilm. Some of the structures are still standing. The Blueridge school was picked up and moved several miles and is now a summer home. One of the Johnston men was killed by a runaway horse while it was being moved.
Location of One Room School
1. McEhleny School - Georgetown Rd. near Seceder Cemetery
2. Saint Rest School - Corner Blackhawk and Georgetown Rd.
3. Groscost School - DeHaven Rd. closed 1920
4. Court School Rt.251 near Brush Run Methodist Church.
5. Johnson or Johnston School - Rt.168 closed 1954
6. Blue Ridge School - West end of Cole Rd. until moved around 1951 to new site off the east side of Rt.168 not far from Blackhawk Rd.
7. Lime Kiln School - Lime Kiln Rd. Closed 1920
8. McCloy School - Allen Rd. west of its intersection with Court Rd. closed 1954
South Beaver Elementary School grades 1-6 opened Fall of 1954, Closed 1981. School is now home to South Beaver Vol. Fire Department.
Brush Run School
ST. Rest School
Located corner of Blackhawk & Georgetown Rd.
This picture of Johnson School along Rt. 168 in South Beaver Township dates to circa-1890-1895.
McElheney School, South Beaver
Located on Georgetown Rd. near Seceder Cemetery.
Sherman Moore, my grand dad, grew up in the same
farmhouse in South Beaver Township that I did. In
1888, he received the pictured teaching certificate
from the Beaver County Superintendent of Schools.
The one photo shows him at about age 21, around the
time the certificate was issued, while the other shows him with his class at the old stone Brush Run or Court School. Family lore has it that he also taught at St. Rest School.
Taken from Little Beaver Historical Society (Facebook)
"Two of Today's Residents (July 8, 1966)"
The township is filled with many fine and wonderful people. Two fascinating people are Clyde Howard Lightfoot and Lewis Carlisle.
Howard Lightfoot has as one of his hobbies steam engines. He has several large pieces but the most interesting is his small gauge steam railroad. lt runs on a small track and many Sunday afternoon he steams it up and takes friends and neighbor children for rides. His other unusual hobby is his large theater pipe organ. He purchased it from a church in Pittsburgh and reassembled (and in many instances improved) the 676 pipes, 49 note carillon harp and 20 note chimes, in his machine and tool shop. Mr. Lightfoot found the roof was too low to accommodate the bass pipes and it was necessary to raise the roof in that spot. He cannot play the instrument himself but his mother has been getting more proficient every year. 'The family lives on Elmbrook Road, just north of Blackhawk Road.
Lewis Carlisle has been totally blind, as are several other members of his family, since his late teens. He managed however, to build a lovely brick home on Ohioville Road. His wife assisted him where she could, but Mr. Carlisle claims the Almighty helped too, or else he never could have completed the project.
(More about Lewis Carlisle from the Beaver County Times)
There are, many other facts and stories connected with the beginnings of South Beaver Township. I have included all that I could find out about.
The township has grown from a wilderness to a thriving area populated by fine, hard working Americans. Those who came earliest, came not to a ready made civilization but with great determination and their strong hands cleared the land and made it productive for those who followed after. It has a rolling landscape but still its native beauty remains undisturbed. There are peaceful, wooded, gravel roads as well as busy highways, Many mail boxes still carry the names of those who first homesteaded this region.
Photo's taken from Little Beaver Historical Society Facebook Site
Court School in South Beaver Township,
1942-1943 school year.
Front Row-left to right: Thornton Harn, Sam Moore, Cloie Martin, Martha McMillen, Jim Steiner, Gail Martin, Kevin Cox, Bob Harn, John Harn, Chuckie White. Middle Row-Martha McMillen, Evelyn McMillen [I may have them backwards]. Jane McDonald, Janet Vannoy, Louise Darr, Philomena Steiner,Phylis Darr, B.G. Moore. Rear Row-left to right: Teacher, Mrs. Hazel Majors, Elmer Cox, Harry Neff, Bob Darr, Jack Neff, Irene Harper [I think], Mary Vannoy, Aileen McDonald, Jean Bellas, Nell McDonald, Sally Darr, Harold Neff, Lloyd Darr.
Brush Run School 1911
McElheney School, South Beaver, out of use in 1968.
Treasure Gardens and Service Station
Another long ago photo of South Beaver Township's Court School. In the front row, L to R are: Art White, Chuckie White, Martha Jean Schmidt, Elsie Cox, Marlene Gildersleeve, B.G. Moore, Cloie Martin, Gary Martin, Jim Steiner, and Jimmy Wylie. Middle row: Bob Harn, Kevin Cox, Sam Moore, Nell McDonald, Edith Aumiller, Jane McDonald, Thornton Harn, Gail Martin, John Harn, Donald Gildersleeve, and Elzie Cox. Back row: Teacher, Mrs. Nora Duncan, Harold Neff and Harry Neff.
Rowetown South Beaver , has almost disappeared from existence. It was at the crossroads of Ohioville Road (Route 168) and Blackhawk Road Route 251). It had a post office for a number of years, a black smith's shop and a saw mill. There were several homes.
South Beaver School Tax 1937
Charles Treasure at Treasure's Garden Service Station South Beaver from the Townsend collection.
1950 blizzard corner of Old Darlington Road and Wallace Run Road, where Jack's Independent Service is now located.
McLaughlins blacksmith shop old Blackhawk road South Beaver 1901
On Old Blackhawk, South Beaver, Leroy Tullis preparing the parking lot on a Beaver tractor for L.D. Tullis & Son Lawn & Garden late 1940's. Name Changed to Tullis Lawn & Garden Equipment.
Watts Mill South Beaver 1900 currently the area of the North Country Trail. Mill burnt down 1915.
Joel Sherman A little history about the family farm: Built around 1840, original family lived in it while house was built, then was used as a guest house until my grandparents bought it in 1930 and converted to a slaughter house.
The late Clyde Lightfoot of South Beaver working on one of his trains ,one of his hobbies was steam engines. He had several large pieces but the most interesting was his small gauge railroad. lt ran on a small track and many Sunday afternoon he fired it up and took friends and neighbor children for rides.
Historical Reads In South Beaver Township
Meet The Beavers
by Denver Walton
Milestones Vol 18 No 4 Winter 1993
Why is South Beaver Township so named and why is it northwest of Beaver? If there is a Big Beaver, where is Little Beaver? And what about North Beaver and New Beaver? (Read More)