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White and Reade Township
A Brief History of White and Reade Township
The first school house in White (now Reade) Township was a one story round log, chinked and daubed structure, with clapboard roof held down by weight poles, and wooden chimney at the end opposite the door, having an open fireplace with an insatiable and unlimited capacity for wood. The rough and crude interior was lighted by means of a single row of 8 x 10 window glass on each side of the room. Set between two logs which was hewed off so as to admit the glass. This was the only light supplied to the pupils and you can readily appreciate how a little light was made to go a great way both literally and figuratively. For seats, the pupils enjoyed the luxury of the loft side of a pine slab with the bark side down taken from the nearest (up today and down tomorrow) sawmill. Mounted upon two rough wooden pins at each end. Set at proper angle to keep the seat from toppling over and one in the middle to prevent it from sagging or springing with its load of juvenile Americans. Their writing desk was in keeping with the other furnishings of the room, and was severely primitive in its time-placidity, it consisted of a single board or plank, fifteen or twenty inches wide adjusted upon pins driven into the log, under the window, at each side of the room with a slight slant downward. The seats of the writers were the same as those enjoyed by the balance of the school, with the single difference, that they were a little higher. It was only the larger scholars, who were permitted or who were supposed to be competent to wield the pen, and hence the legs in their seats had to be a little longer than those occupied by the average pupil to accommodate their great elongations. This original school house which was erected in the year 1821 as near as can be ascertained stood on land of Mr. John Troxell, one of the early settlers in North East Cambria and father of our admirable friend and neighbor, Mr. Perry Troxell. The land on which this school house was built, is now owned by Mr. C. C. Mulhollen, who wife is the granddaughter of the aforesaid, John Troxell, first actual predecessor of the land. It was a typical school house of the olden times and its counterpart was to be met with every small settlement. Some eight years ago, before the days of our common schools, when the schoolmasters boarded around, and the range of instruction embrace only the three R's Reading, Riting and Rithmetic. A few yet live who have not only seen these primitive school houses, but who have sat upon their hard uncomfortable seats, while puzzling over the origin of the alphabet or pondering over the hidden mysteries of their first reading lesson. Here was want to be gathered, for a three months term annually, the widely separated and untutored girls and boys of the period. These were all young gentlemen, or young ladies, then to receive such instruction in the rudiments of education as might be imported to them by the school master of the times, who was often a person of more vigor in the use of the rod than in intellectual attainments. And it was in such schools that many of our grandfathers and grandmothers received all of education that they ever knew and yet from just such impropriations and unpromising surroundings where developed some of the brightest intellect that have illumed the world. The pages of history are doted with their names and such with the record of their achievements, but to our history. Shortly after the erection of this first school house on the Troxell farm, Mr. Edward Shoemaker, an extensive landowner in his day, built a house for school purpose on his farm, now owned in part by Mr. B. F. Byers, and Mr. John Van Scoyoc, on the part owned by the latter. This was intended for a private school, for the special accommodations of the proprietor, Mr. Shoemaker and a few favored friends. The next house built was on what is now known as the Wiler property. A short distance above the Foster farm and like the first was a very rough and crude affair. The next was the Glasgow school house on land then belonging to the late John Glasgow, deceased, now the property of Abner Peterson. The building stood on the ground now enclosed and used by Mr. Peterson as a garden lot. It was something on an improvement on its predecessors, being constructed of hewed logs with lap shingle roof. Six nine light windows 6 x 10 glass and a large nine plate heating stove but the same class of furniture. Then cane the Bear Pen, so called because of its outward appearance, being very much after the style of the Troxell house (the first one described) except that for heating purpose it had a large nine plate stove of the Center Furnace Maker, which like some of the teachers of that day, when fairly heated up took a good long time to cool off. This structure stood in the woods on the right hand side of the Mountain Road leading from Bells Mills (now Bellwood) to the Glasgow settlement, now the upper corner of Mr. John Gwin's orchard. The roof of this Old Bear Pen took a mysterious slide one night, which forever closed its usefulness as a school house and a place of rendezvous for the mischievous youths of the community. For the particulars of this closing incident in the somewhat checkered career of this once popular old beacon light, set up on a hill (where the district High School Building should stand). The writer won't refer you to Mr. John Van Scoyoc for particulars. He may not want to tell, but will, if urged. We will say for him that is was a good job. Next in order, in way of progress in the schoolwork was Moss School House and the Old Public Building at Fallentimber. We use the term public building advisedly, because this room was used for all purposes in its day. These two buildings were erected about the same time the first named, on land then of David Youngkin, deceased, now of William Chaplin, near the site of the modern city of Flinton. It was built of logs flattened and edged on Mr. Youngkin's sawmill. The space between them being stuffed or chinked with moss, hence Moss School House. The big flood of 1847 floated this building down to Mr. Youngkin's sawmill a distance of some two hundred rods. In due time, it was returned to its former position on rollers, where it remained for many years, serving the public as a school room and as a place where prayer and praise were occasionally want to be made by different denominations to say nothing of the spelling schools, singing schools, public debates and other like entertainment that were held in it from time to time. This building was subsequently moved to the high bluff across the creek a little below the old dam, where it was used as a dwelling house for several years and finally burnt down. The Fallentimber house was built on land of Jacob Hartzell Sr., an old gentleman from Blair County, Pennsylvania who took up some land which had been swept by a mighty wind storm years before which leveled everything before it, hence Fallentimber. He had a portion of the level tract west of the Clearfield Creek laid out in town lots and donated the upper lot on the right hand side of the public road, westward, to the public for school purposes. Upon this lot, a good hewed log structure, for its day, was erected which for many years answered all the purposes of a school house, election house and for all kinds of gatherings. These two rooms were the best filled, for school purpose, of any in the township having better seats, better desks, more light than any of their predecessors and were in every way more comfortable. Next in line is Donation. The first frame building and the best school room in the township and so called from the fact that is was built and paid for by the free will offerings and voluntary donations of the people of the district. It stood on land of Mr. Elijah Gorsuch. Himself an old timer school teacher and a gentleman of more than ordinary learning and the site of the building was a gift from his so long as it was used for the purpose intended. The house was originally intended as a place of worship, free to all, but was subsequently handed over to the care of the school board for public school purpose by the building committee, and by common consent, subject however to the reservation of use for religious service when wanted for that purpose. It stood on a corner piece of ground adjoining the Matthews farm to the left of the road leading to Cambria Mills, now near the Penna. & NWRR Station. It ceased to be used for school or any other public purpose some years ago and was burned down (by a spark from an engine). The land then reverted to Mr. G. L. Davis as the ancestor to Mr. Gorsuch, the original owner. Donation supplanted the Glasgow school house when upon the later ceased to be used for school purpose and it reverted to the original owner Mr. James Glasgow, who converted it into a tenement house for which it was used many years, and passing through several hands as owners, it came the possession of Mr. G. W. Turner by whom it was torn down and all trace of its existence obliterated. Where it stood is now the fertile garden log of Mr. Abner Peterson as afore mentioned. The next school house was a frame one to take the place of the Old Bear Pen on land of James McCartney Esq. On the right hand side of the road then leading to Bells Mills but now at the left hand turn of the road leading to the fire brick works. The next was a little frame house on the left side of the road leading from Walters Mills to St. Lawrence, on land of Isaac Gates Esq. deceased. This house was burned down in the winter of 1865. Miss Matilda Gates, now Mrs. Strayer, being the teacher in charge. The next was Roseland, on the land of G. W. Bowman. This was the first plank school building in the township. Weather boarded and lined all through inside with the best of white pine lumber, with eight, 18 light, 8 x 10 window glass, fairly good seats and writing desks. The best school room in the township at the time, but too small. The next was at Van Ormer on land of Jacob Hartzell Jr. now owned by Joseph Van Ormer Esq. the next was at Bangor on land of Mr. David Hollis, since replaced by a new and better one. These two last named took the place of Old Fallentimber. The next school building in the township was marked a step in the way of progress. It was at Mountaindale, on land of Joseph Miller Esq., to take the place of the one on McCartney Hill, which was never satisfactory. It was the first lathed and plastered house in the district and the first to be furnished with patent seats and desks. The same year a new school house was built on what was then called Bishop property in the Sheehan and Burgoon Settlement known as Beaver Dam School. The people in that settlement had been doing without school for several years by the school board exonerating them of their school tax. In 1858 a tax collector who was also a school director on his official rounds noticed, as he thought, too many children growing up in ignorance for want of school facilities. He brought the matter properly before the board and in due time a school was opened in the community. At first, and for several years, it was conducted in a large log house belonging to the Bishops until this new school room was completed. Like the one at Mountaindale with patent seats, desks etc. Although those patent seats and desks would not compare in many respects with the improved furniture now in use in our school rooms, they were a vast improvement on the slab seats and plank desks of our ancestors. The next new building was the one at Beaver Valley replaced now by a better one on land of George and John Beers (now Daniel Strayer Esq.) who gave the school board a deed for two acres of ground. The last one built in the Old District was a Lloydsville where in our school board made a mistake in erecting a large shell of a house in consideration of two hundred dollars donated them by the company operating there at that time. This house has been an eye sore and a bill of expense to the district ever since.
This brings us to a new era when White Township was divided and Reade (named in honor of George M. Reade Esq.) took its place upon the map of Cambria County. She at once took a long skip and jump forward in school work and progress and has built eight new school buildings since that date, thus setting a pace that older and wealthier districts might imitate with advantage. The new houses built are as follows:
On land of Perry Troxell called Roseland, or No. 2, and stands within ease gun shot, of where the first school building that was ever erected in the township stood. These two rooms were intended to take the place of Old Roseland at G. W. Bowmans, which had been abandoned.
One at Blandburg.
A two story frame house at Glasgow, on land of Daniel Matthews.
And a single from building at Cambria Mills on land of John H. Hommer Esq.
These last three rooms took the place of Old Donation, one single room building at Van Ormer, on land of Joseph Van Ormer, taking the place of Fallentimber House No. 2, which stood on the same farm then owned by Jacob Hartzell Jr.
A two room frame building at Mountaindale, on land of the late Rev. Thomas Van Scoyoc for which the land was donated. This building takes the place of the Old House on the Miller land, which was sold by the school board to Lewis Newhouse and is now occupied as a tenant house. This is the fourth school house for the Mountain that being the original name dale being a recent addition. So that we now have Mountaindale a district which a few years ago found ample accommodations in the Old Bear Pen. So we grow.
The last but not the least is the large three roomed building at Frugality on company land. These three rooms, like those at Mountaindale House are on ground floor, were it not for the unsightly shell, at Lloydsville, Reade Township could boast of the best school buildings of any country district in the county. All our rooms are furnished with patent furniture, of the most approved modern design, and fairly supplied with school apparatus.
In 1848 White Township, including parts of Chest Township and all of Reade had but four school rooms and that, as referred to before, of the most primitive kind. Now White had six and Reade sixteen school rooms. With one district high school building. All within a generation. Since the foregoing was written, four new rooms have been erected. Three at Blandburg and one a Van Ormer, making 20 in all up to date.
Our Superintendents of Common Schools 1854
First on the list is Robert L. Johnson a successful lawyer. Afterwards President Judge of Cambria County.
Second is Samuel B. McCormick now in California, if living, a very old man.
Third is Thomas McQuire no trace
Fourth James M. Swank now Secretary of the Iron and Steel Association, residing in Philadelphia.
Fifth William A. Scott went to his country's call and lost his life defending the stars and stripes.
Sixth Henry Ely lost tract.
Seventh J. Frank Condon stenographer for the courts of Huntingdon, Blair and Cambria Counties.
Eighth T. J. Chapman now the principal in the 4th ward school, Pittsburg.
Ninth Harman Berge now in the West.
Tenth Lewis Strayer lost tract
Eleventh W. J. Cramer lasted but six months and fired.
Twelfth J. D. Liech served out the unexpired term of W. J. Cramer and two full election terms. Now a successful attorney.
Thirteenth Thomas L. Gibson now filling his second term.
The first professional certificate signed in White Township (now Reade) was by Samuel B. McCormick to the following teachers.
Thomas Van Scoyoc
Thomas A. Powell
Gideon D. Byers
J. W. Scott
The three first named have passed into the great beyond but the later is yet on terra ferma, and located at Lloydsville. When to use a slang phrase, he is smelling for minerals (a geologist) and wielding the pen occasionally.
Superintendent McGuire when he came into the office annulled all professionals in the county, something that might be done again, for the benefit of our schools.
Our Old Teachers
Before closing this imperfect record of the past, let us take a hasty glance backwards and recall some of the early teachers who labored in the field of learning in this backwoods country long ago and who went hence to make their mark in the world in other fields. Who after years of illy requited and often unappreciated toil, laid down the ferule, and abandoned those humble and dingy little schoolrooms to take up some more congenial and rumination profession, or employment, in which they rose to, more or less, distinction, or were rewarded success.
First in our mind is Rev. Samuel Domer, who taught school in the old log house, on the James Glasgow property, away back in the forties; now a prominent minister in the Lutheran Church, now leads a wealthy and fashionable congregation in Washington City, where he has been for many years.
The next is the late Rev. Thomas VanScoyoc who taught a number of schools in the district in his early manhood his subsequent career as an earnest and efficient Baptist minister is too well known in this community for further eulogy from me.
The next bright young man to step from the teacher's desk to the pulpit from this region is John E. Cloppinger, well known and kindly remembered by many.
In the winter of 1856 and 1857 three young printers had charge of schools in White, one of these was George S. Swank, the present editor and proprietor of the Johnstown Tribune. He has succeeded not only in making the Daily Tribune the best inland daily newspaper in the state, but also in making a comfortable fortune out of it. He taught at Fallentimber, and although there are a bounty of fine proposing ladies in the land, George still remains a bachelor. We wonder if he heard Rev. McIntires lecture at the county institute.
Another was Martin P. Rinlanb, a graduate of the Tribune office where the paper, still in its infancy, under the editorship of that veteran newspaperman, Co. John M. Bowman, editor of the Everett Republican, now deceased. Martin taught the Beaver Valley School (the one afterwards burnt) and subsequently married, went west to grow up with the county on the general advice of Horace Greely, which we are pleased to say he has done to some purpose. He established a newspaper at Plattsville, Wisconsin, was postmaster of the city under the Harrison administration, has eight sons and daughters, four each, and is one of the solid republicans of the place.
The other was Thomas Bickroy, who taught in the Old Donation. Tom didn't like so many bosses and abandoned teaching, went west, engaged in the real estate business in Denver and is said to have struck it rich.
We could name many more teachers, good, bad and indifferent, some of whom are worthy of special mention in this connection, but want of time.
Another young man who stepped from the teacher's desk to pulpit, was Thomas Anderson, now a prominent minister in the Presbyterian Church in Wisconsin. Loved and respected by all who know him. Thomas taught one term in the Old Roseland school room some twenty-three years ago. This young man is deserving of more than a passing notice but we have scarcely the time to spare. And your patience will not permit, suffice to long, that the best evidence of a good teacher is to have the patrons and pupils ask the directors to call them back again to their last or former field of labor.
Teachers of the Past and Present
1. Mr. Carr
2. Mr. Gorsuch
3. Mr. Sacketts
4. Mr. Domer
5. Mr. Stiles
6. Mr. Scott
7. Mr. Hileman
8. Mr. T. VanScoyoc
9. Mr. J. VanScoyoc
10. Mr. J. Byers
11. Mrs. G. Byers
12. Mr. T. A. Powell
13. Mr. T. Bickroy
14. Mr. G. J. Swank
15. Mr. M. Rinlanb
16. Mr. J. C. Gates
17. Mr. G. Leamer
18. Mr. J. O. Cliffinger
19. Mr. J. Stewart
20. Mr. J. W. Scott
21. Mr. D. Manly
22. Mr. G. W. Williams
23. Mr. E. W. Londen
24. Mr. Foley
25. Mr. D. E. Hollen
26. Mr. Thos. Norris
27. Mr. A. D. Hamilton
28. Mr. William McCoy
29. Mr. Harpster
30. Mr. Cyrus Miller
31. Mr. Cal Hunter
32. Mr. Schseangast
33. Mr. E. C. Conrath
34. Mr. Wm. Davis
35. Mr. Thos. Eagan
36. Mr. F. George
37. Mr. W. P. McNaul
38. Mr. Thos. Hunter
39. Mr. Joiner
40. Mr. H. Hoover
41. Mr. Martin Davis
42. Mr. Martin Oiler
43. Mr. James Fry
44. Mr. Jas. Porter
45. Mr. Milton Spencer
46. Mrs. Joseph Eash
47. Mr. Blackburne
48. Mr. M. C. Faller
49. Mr. Thos. Anderson
50. Mr. Wills
51. Mr. Johnson
52. Mr. Delancy
53. Mr. Mitchel
54. Mr. Don Jones
55. Mr. E. Jones
56. Mr. Fuder
57. Mr. Henry
58. Mr. Sile
59. Mr. C. J. Troxell
60. Mr. Rink
61. Mr. Hadden
62. Mr. Clippinger
63. Mr. Fulton
64. Mr. Kantz
65. Mr. J. T. Glasgow
66. Mr. W. C. VanScoyoc
67. Mr. W. H. Troxell
68. Mr. A. G. Ricketts
69. Mr. J. L. Troxell
70. Mr. R. Peterson
71. Mr. Luther
72. Mr. Eldend
73. Mr. Moore
74. Mr. Haley
75. Mr. M. Henacy
76. Mr. Rodkey
77. Mr. Emit Davis
78. Mr. Ben Williams
79. Mr. Charles Myers
80. Mr. Frank Gates
81. Mr. John Easch
82. Mr. Boise
83. Mr. W. W. Krise (2 mo.) High School
84. Mr. B. J. Myers
85. Mr. Hartman
86. Mr. Hetrick
Other Evidence of Progress
Having thus traced the advance of our common schools it may be equally interesting to take note of some other evidence of progress, for instance, seventy some years ago there was but one post office in all this country from St. Augustine to Smiths Mills (Janesville), in Clearfield County. In 1836, Edward Shoemaker, who owned the property now owned by Mr. B. F. Byers, had a post office established in his home and was called Roseland with himself as postmaster and one mail a week. Mr. Shoemaker in 1843 sold his property to Benjamin Byers Sr., father of the present owner, who was then appointed postmaster and who continued to discharge the duties of the office until 1856 when he resigned and G. W. Bowman was appointed postmaster and two mails a week. The office was moved from the Byers home to that of Mr. Bowman who held the office until the spring of 1864 when he resigned and went into the army to serve Uncle Sam in another capacity. Where upon the post office at Roseland was permanently discontinued. In the meantime a post office had been established at Fallentimber, with Isaac Thompson as postmaster. The rate of postage, which had been reduced from the old figures of 6 Ό, 12 ½, and 18 Ύ cents, according to weight and distance carried, to the American Standard Fractions of 5, 10 and 15 cents had been again reduced to 3 cents or made his or her friend at the other end pay 5 cents if the letter was lifted. A piece of manifest justice which was recklessly taken advantage of in the days of comic valentines and vile caricatures, but which was effectually cured when the regulation went into effect requiring all letters to be prepaid by stamp.
As late as 1848 there was but two public roads in the township. The one most then in use being that leading from Bells Mills to Blair Co. to Mount Pleasant (now Utahville), Clearfield Co. This road began to climb the eastern slope of the Allegheny Mountain, at Roots Run about 2 ½ miles north of Bellwood and reached the brow in about three miles further, after a very laborious climb it passed the first habitation on this side, at the old log house known then as Figart, now Bland, Bowen, Frick or Brick works. The former three are merchants doing business at this point and the later is an industry, giving employment to scores of men and boys. The other road was the mail route from Ebensburg to Philipsburg, Center County, leading through Fallentimber, and down on right side of creek to the Hugh Gallaher property. The only thing left of this Old Pioneers work is the orchard. The first planted in all this section of country where it took a short turn to the right passing successively, the Leamer, Bowman and Byers improvement and intersected with the Mountain road at the point where John VanScoyoc now reside. This section of the old mail route, has long since been abandoned and vacated, and its course is now scarcely traceable through the woods.
The first polling place in the township, was at the residence of the elder George Leamer, whose homestead adjoined the farm of G. W. Bowman's, and now owned by John M. Troxell and George L. Glasgow, here too, on this old homestead, was the first burying ground in this vicinity where in the rough stony ground in the woods, lie the remains of many of the early settlers and their children. Their crude resting place, many of which are unmarked, and known to but few.
The first coal found in the township was in the hollow below Mr. Perry Troxell's, on land now owned by Joseph G. Hollen, Esq. It was mined and used for blacksmithing purpose by the senior John Troxell, George Leamer and George Glass, all of whom did their own blacksmithing as best they could for want of a skilled mechanic in that trade. Never dreaming of the hidden wealth that laid only a few feet beneath them, or of the network of railroads, it was destined to bring into the country to which they had come on packsaddles. The first coal bank property opened and worked was the Richard bank, where is now the partially deserted village of Lloydsville that flourished only a few years ago. It was opened by an English miner name George Richard, father of the late Capt. George B. Richard. Mr. Richard worked his mine for several years, the bulk of his trade, which was never very heavy, being east of the mountain among the farmers and blacksmiths of Logan and Sinking Valleys. The product was taken from the mine by the purchasers, principally in the winter time on sleds. There was but little demand for coal in the summer time and then the roads where so rough that is scarcely paid the hauling. Mr. Richard died ere his coal came to be considered merchantable value, and his heirs were - - - well, they realized but little from it, although it was worth thousands of dollars. But, what a mighty trade has sprang from this little beginning. First the horse and packsaddle, then the man and wheelbarrow, and now mines by the hundreds. Mules and dump cars by the scores and the mighty engines with their miles of loaded coal cars.
What an evolution, and what a revelation of what time, money and education can do. We use the term horse and packsaddle advisedly, being credibly informed that the three old gentlemen before mentioned, who did their own blacksmithing, used the horse and packsaddle to carry the coal from the mine to their farm or place of business.
Our Old People
We can not close this little history of White and Reade Township, without briefly referring to some of our old friends, who gave me many facts in connection with it. Most of them have gone to their reward since the original was written.
The oldest man both as to the years of his life and residence, is James J. Gallaher, Esq., who came into the township with his father's family, when it was literally a howling wilderness, and located on the banks of the Clearfield Creek, near to the Fallentimber bridge. Mr. Gallaher was a consistent member of the Lutheran Church and a staunch Republican. His last vote was cast for Benjamin Harrison.
James McCartney, Esq., came into the country in 1835, and settled at the Mountain in 1838, where he passed the remainder of his years.
Robert Hollen, Esq., the only survivor of the original Hollen family, who located at the Mountain in 1830, has spent the greater part of his life almost within call of where his father first built his cabin. The squire is at this writing hale, hearty and eighty.
Of the Troxell family, first named, but two survive. Namely, Perry Troxell, present owner of the old homestead, and Mrs. Mary, widow of Isaac Gates, long since deceased.
The pioneer, Mr. John Glasgow, located 1818, has long since passed away, died 1845, and his improvements are now in the keeping of his third generation and the name Glasgow settlement, will likely live on for ages to come.
Our good friend, Samuel W. Turner, was perhaps the oldest native of this bail wick he was born, Sept. 10th, 1817, near the mouth of Turner Run so named after his father, Mrs. John Turner whose father, Daniel Turner, was the first settler on this part of Clearfield Creek. He was an old time surveyor, and also a great hunter and trapper, and therefore as familiar with the woods as the natives of the forest. He came here in a canoe from Center County from the vicinity of the present county town of Bellefonte, about the close of the last or the beginning of the present century. Loading his traps and a supply of provisions into a light canoe, he floated down the Bald Eagle Creek to the Susquehanna River, when he turned the bow of his little craft up stream and so held his way, until he struck the mouth of Clearfield Creek, into which he turned and up which he pushed his way until he arrived at the mouth of Beaver Dam Creek, then in the seclusion of an unbroken wilderness.