Erie County, Pennsylvania

History of Erie County, Pennsylvania 1884

by Samuel P. Bates, 

Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister


Chapter XXVII - Miscellaneous


Agricultural Societies
An Agricultural and Mechanical Society was formed as early as 1822, with the following officers: President, Judah Colt; Treasurer, Charles J. Reed; Secretary, Giles Sanford; Directors, John Vincent, R. S. Reed, William Miles, Martin Strong, Benjamin Russell, Elisha Marvin, Moses Barnett, John McCord, Simeon Leet and Matthias Brindle. A fair was held in 1823 on the public square in Erie, at which $78 was paid in premiums, the highest premium being $8 for the best two acres of wheat.

The next organization was perfected in 1848 under the title of the Erie County Agricultural Society, John Brawley being President, J. C. Spencer Treasurer, and J. D. Dunlap Secretary. Fairs were held on the Academy grounds in 1849, 1850, 1851 and 1852; on the Cunningham lot, east of Parade street, in 1853, 1854, and 1855; on the Garrison tract in 1856, 1857 and 1858; and on the Ebersole farm, in East Mill Creek, in 1859 and 1860. The society was chartered as a joint association in 1860, with a capital stock of $5,000, in shares of $10 each. Thirty acres of the Ebersole farm were purchased, a race track laid out, and a small exhibition building erected, but no fair was held after 1860. The war came on in 1861, and the mass of the people lost all interest in everything else of a public nature. At the fair in 1860, $365 were paid out in premiums. The society became embarrassed, and its property was sold.

The existing Erie County Agricultural Society was formed in 1879, and has held fairs annually, commencing with that year, on the Reed lots, just west of Erie City. The location is the most convenient for the purpose that could be had, being easily accessible by rail and private conveyance. The first officers were: President, J. C. Thornton, Fairview; Vice President, John Dodge, Harbor Creek; Recording Secretary, George Burton, Erie; Corresponding Secretary, C. B. Evans, East Mill Creek; Treasurer, Jacob Taylor, West Mill Creek.

The Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society has held four exhibitions at Erie, on the Reed lots above referred to. The years of its fairs were 1872, 1873, 1877 and 1878. John W. Hammond, of Erie, was President of the society when its last two fairs in this county were held. James Miles, of Girard, was President in 1882-83-84.

Militia and Military Organizations
The State adopted measures immediately after Independence for the organization and drill of its militia. By the act of 1804, every able-bodied man between the ages of eighteen and forty-five was enrolled and compelled to perform two days' military duty each year, or pay a fine. The militia were divided into companies, battalions, regiments and brigades, each of which elected its own officers. Beginning in a proper spirit, the "militia trainings," as they were termed, degenerated into a public farce. Every member was expected to have a gun and bring it along for inspection, but as the system weakened in popular estimation, the discipline grew more slack, and many carried sticks, canes, brooms, corn stalks, and even light fence rails. The contract between the flaming uniforms of the officers and the outlandish appearance of the men was at time indescribably laughable. For a long time, though, training day was a great event throughout the State, and was looked forward to as a fair or a circus is now. The militia law was repealed at the session of 1847-48, and the old-fashioned trainings went out of vogue.

In addition to the regular militia, volunteer companies have been in existence almost from the earliest settlement. The first of these was Capt. Elisha Marvin's Greenfield company, organized in 1801, with about eighty members. The second was Capt. Thomas Forster's Erie Light Infantry, organized in 1806. This company took part in the war of 1812-13, and a list of the officers and men will be found in the chapter devoted to that era. In 1808, there was a company known as the "Presque Isle Rangers," but it seems to have died out before the war. The following volunteer organizations were in existence in Erie at the periods named: In 1821, the Erie Greens, Samuel Duncan, Captain; in 1824, the Washington Artillery; in the same year the Erie Guards, Thomas Forster, Captain; in 1831, an artillery company, C. G. Howell, Captain; in 1836, a cavalry company; about 1841, the German Guards, Capt. Dutlinger, and the Washington Guards, Capt. Erhart; in 1842, the Wayne Grays, John W. McLane, Captain; in 1858, the Franklin Pierce Rifle Company; in 1859, the Wayne Guard, John W. McLane, Captain, and the Perry Artillery Company, Gustav Jarecki, Captain.

The Wayne Grays and the Wayne Guard are the best known, a number of citizens who are yet living having been members of one or the other of these organizations. The Grays tendered their services in the Mexican war, but they were declined by the United States Government, the quota of Pennsylvania being full. The Wayne Guard were at the height of their prosperity at the outbreak of the rebellion, and the company formed the nucleus of all the regiments that left Erie. More than half of the company became officers in the war.

Besides these volunteer organizations, the following are known to have been in existence in the county: At North East, in 1822, the Burgettstown Blues, Alexander McCloskey, Captain; at Waterford, in 1824, the Invincibles, Giles Hulbert, Captain; at Fairview, in 1824, a company, name unknown; at the same place, the Fairview Guards, T. Beckman, Captain; at Girard, in 1860, the Guards, D. W. Hutchinson, Captain. Most of the volunteer soldiery of the county at the outbreak of the rebellion tendered their services to the Government, and the several local organizations were blotted out by their incorporation into the Union army.

Under present laws, the State has a regularly organized volunteer force, in addition to the militia who are liable to be called into service in case of a war and draft. This body is known as the National Guard of Pennsylvania. Its organization consists of one division, three brigades, eighteen regiments of infantry and several companies each of artillery and cavalry. The Governor is (ex officio) commander-in-chief. Maj. Gen. John F. Hartrauft is Division Commander, and the three brigades are commanded respectively by Brig. Gens. George R. Snowden, James A. Beaver and J. K. Sigfried. The Sixteenth Regiment is attached to the Second Brigade, and consisted, in 1882, of the following companies:

Company A, Corry, Erie County.
Company B, Erie, Erie County.
Company C, Bradford, McKean County.
Company D, Oil City, Venango County.
Company E, Cooperstown, Venango County.
Company F, Franklin, Venango County.
Company G, Erie, Erie County.
Company H, Ridgway, Elk County.
Company I, Warren, Warren County.

The regimental organization the same year was as follows:

Colonel, John A. Wiley, Franklin; Lieutenant Colonel, James B. Storer, Butler; Major, Frank M. Lamb, Erie; Adjutant, Willis J. Hulings, Franklin; Quartermaster, Walter W. Greenland; Surgeon, G. W. Dille, Cooperstown; Assistant Surgeons, D. V. Stranahan, Warren, and James E. Silliman, Erie; Chaplain, Rev. G. A. Cartensen (rank of Captain), Erie.

The commissioned officers of the Erie County companies were as follows:

Company A -- Captain, Isaac B. Brown; First Lieutenant, W. Edgar Marsh; Second Lieutenant, George A. Davis; enlisted men, fifty.
Company B -- Captain, John J. Baxter; First Lieutenant, George G. Egg; Second Lieutenant, John Geist; enlisted men sixty.
Company G -- Captain, D. S. Crawford; First Lieutenant, John B. Boyd; Second Lieutenant, Edward W. Constable; enlisted men fifty-two.

Aside from the above, there is no organized military body in the county. The number of persons in the county subject to military duty as shown in the report of the Adjutant General for 1882 was 5,900.

In the early days of the county, the use of whisky was almost universal, and there were few houses in which a good supply was not kept constantly on hand. No one thought it wrong to "treat" visitors, or to drink in the presence of his family. Distilleries were as common as grist mills became afterward, and a large share of the grain was converted into liquor. Many farmers made a practice of regularly taking a portion of their grain to the distilleries and having a jug full or a barrel full of whisky made for their household use. The first prohibition society was established at Wattsburg in 1829, and the next year a great temperance wave swept over the county. A large portion of the people signed the pledge, it became unpopular to keep liquor in the house or to have grain made into whisky, and the distilleries rapidly disappeared. To-day there is not one in the county. The manufacture of wine began at North East in 1869, and has since become considerable of an industry at the place and Erie. Beer is a comparatively modern beverage in the county, having been introduced with the later German immigration. There are eight or ten breweries in the county, of which two at least are on quite an extensive scale.

In 1832, the County Temperance Society had 742 members. In 1840, there was a temperance society in almost every township. Various temperance societies have been in existence in Erie and most of the larger towns since.

Slaves and Slavery

The colored population of the county was larger, proportionately, eighty years ago than now. Most of those who were here then were brought in as slaves, some of the most reputable families having been owners of this kind of property. The emancipation act of the State provided that all negroes over a certain age should remain slaves until their death; all below should become free at the age of twenty-eight. Under its provisions, a large portion of the colored race became entitled to their freedom, but there were a few who continued in slavery till released by the Master of all. One of the most prosperous colored men who ever lived in the county was Boe Bladen. He was born in Guinea, was brought to America on a slave ship, worked out his freedom, came to Erie, and took up a tract of land in Mill Creek Township, three miles from Erie. When he died, in 1829, he owned 200 acres.

Seal of the County
The seal of the county was adopted in 1808.

The Weather
Judah Colt states in his autobiography that in January, 1799, the weather was very warm. "The frost came out of the ground, and the farmers did their plowing."

The month of May, 1834, is notable in the weather records of the lake shore country. For three days before the 13th, there were strong cold winds from the west, with snow squalls. On the 13th, the bay and lake were unusually rough. Six inches of snow fell on the 15th. The leaves and blossoms were nearly all killed. No vessel was able to enter the port of Erie for four days. At the end of that time, the steamboat New York, from Buffalo, stopped at the channel pier. A small boat set out from the wharves to board her, and was capsized on the way over. Of eleven persons in the boat but two were saved. Two of the worst storms on record occurred on the 10th and 11th of November, 1835, and on the 15th of the same month, 1842. On the occasion first named, the water was lashed into such fury that a party of fifteen men, who were raising the Detroit in Misery Bay, dared not venture to return home, and had to remain on the Peninsula from the evening of the 10th to the morning of the 12th without food, fire or shelter. The waves rolled over the sand beach clear up to the foot of Garrison Hill.

On the other hand, the weather was so mild on the 26th of December, 1865, that fires were not needed, and people were glad to throw open their doors and windows for cool air. On the 1st of January, 1876, the day was so pleasant that the people of Girard indulged in a picnic in the woods.

The winter of 1880-81 was one of the coldest ever known. Snow fell about the middle of November, and lasted without interruption till February 9. During most of the time there was a slight snow-fall daily. A break-up came on the 9th of February, but it was quickly followed by more snow, which lasted until the 15th of March. Then came the snow-storm of March 30 and 31, one of the greatest experienced in modern times. The cold was intense during most of the winter. On the 3d of February the thermometer was 18 below zero at Erie, 20 at McKean, 24 at Edinboro, 28 at Albion, and 30 at Waterford. The lake was frozen over to the Canada shore during a good portion of the winter, something that seldom happens. The snow and cold prevailed over the country from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic. There were snow and ice in portions of the South where they had never been known before.

The winter of 1881-82 was remarkable for its mildness. The bay of Presque Isle was open most of the season, and there was never more than a light coating of ice on the lake. As if to balance the account, the winter of 1882-83 was unusually long and steady. There was scarcely a pleasant day from November 1 to April 1. The ground was found to be frozen in some places in Erie City to a depth of three and a half feet.

Early Justices
Up to 1838, when the Constitution was amended, all Justices of the Peace were appointed by the Governor, to hold their offices during good behavior. For some years the larger part of the marrying and a good share of the conveyancing were done by the Justices, who were usually men of more than ordinary standing. The records of the State Department at Harrisburg show the following appointments to that office:

1796 -- March 31, Thomas Rees, William Wilson.
1797 -- April 15, John Grubb.
1798 -- April 6, David McNair; August 3, John Way.
1799 -- March 8, Timothy Tuttle; March 28, Thomas Robinson; December 10, William Culbertson.
1800 -- August 15, William Clarke, John Lytle.
1801 -- February 28, Cornelius Van Horn, Abiathar Crane, John Hay; May 16, James Pollock, George Williamson, Adam Stewart.
1802 -- January 2, Thomas McCreary, Abiathar Crane.
1803 -- January 8, Hugh Wilson.
1804 -- January 2, Joseph M. Kratz, John Vincent.
1805 -- April 1, Thomas Brown.
1806 -- January 1, John C. Wallace; April 1, William Culbertson, Jacob Hildebrand.
1807 -- February 28, John Boyd; July 4, Elisha Marvin, George Moore.
1808 -- July 4, John Way; October 20, Timothy Tuttle.
1809 -- February 28, John Boyd, William Porter; June 22, Thomas Wilson.
1810 -- April 12, Dr. Waitstill Hastings.
1811 -- January 24, Cardiff Taggart; November 7, George Hurst.
1812 -- February 2, Howard Salsbury.
1815 -- March 3, Alex T. Blaine.
1816 -- January 2, John Phillips; November 13, John Gray.
1817 -- February 21, James Hall; March 14, Francis Brawley.
1818 -- January 28, John Morris; March 11, John McCord.
1819 -- December 14, Oliver Dunn, Myron Backus.
1820 -- February 28, Robert McClelland; May 18, James Weston.
1821 -- March 29, William Hall; November 2, Thomas Forster, Jr.
1822 -- February 18, Henry Colt, Jesse D. Jackson; March 16, Thomas Stewart, Hamilton H. Graham.
1823 -- March 6, George Moore; March 28, William Colt; December 8, Thomas Greenwood; December 9, Shepherd Beals; December 12, Jonathan Stafford; December 13, Giles Sanford.
1824 -- March 3, William Gray.
1825 -- March 1, John B. Jones, Robert M. Douglass; March 15, Ebenezer D. Gunnison, Joseph Wright; April 11, Alex McCloskey; August 3, John Brawley; October 28, John Phillips.
1827 -- April 12, William Graham, Myron Hutchinson.
1828 -- March 4, James Nelson; April 3, John L. Davis; August 1, William Kelly; December 5, Lewis S. Bowers.
1829 -- October 12, William Vincent; November 10, Mark Baldwin; December 1, Albert Tuttle; December 10, John Salsbury.
1830 -- March 11, William Kelly; April 3, John Brecht; December 23, James H. Woodworth.
1831 -- July 30, James Wilson.
1832 -- January 16, Jacob Lefever; March 8, John Bennett; May 22, James Weston; June 13, Philip Wells; July 31, Richard O. Hulbert; November 17, Casper M. Rouse; December 7, Thomas Laird.
1833 -- February 16, William T. Mackey; April 24, Thomas Mellon; August 8, James Smiley.
1834 -- February 20, Michael Jackson; March 14, Henry Mallory; April 10, Elias Salsbury; April 24, William W. Loomis; May 27, David G. Webber; August 26, Thomas L. Youngs; October 24, Ira Woodbury; October 31, Josiah William, Robert Heath.
1835 -- February 16, Alvin Ryan; April 23, George Moore; November 9, Hiram Drury; November 18, David Zimmerman, James McConkey.

James Chambers, of Harbor Creek, has probably been Justice of the Peace for a longer consecutive period than any other man in the county. He was appointed in 1837 by Gov. Ritner, and, with brief intervals, has held the position ever since.

The Cholera
Few persons are aware that the Asiatic cholera -- most dreadful of all contagious diseases -- at one time threatened the city of Erie. It was in July, 1832, in the days of steamboating. A party of immigrants were being conveyed up the lake from Buffalo, when a Mrs. Hunter and her daughter developed symptoms of the terrible epidemic. The steamboat stopped at the channel pier and they were landed on the peninsula, where both died -- Mrs. Hunter after an illness of thirteen hours, and her daughter a few hours later. The event created much excitement among the citizens, who instantly adopted measures to prevent the contagion from getting a foothold in the town. Numerous cases of cholera developed during that season on board lake steam-boats and in other lake cities.

Telegraph Lines
The first telegraph line in Erie County was put up in 1847. It extended from Buffalo to Cleveland. The only telegraph office in the county for several years was at Erie.

Shows and Circuses
The early shows were altogether of the animal order, and the exhibitions generally took place in the barns of the best known hotels. In the beginning, they consisted of a lion or tiger and a monkey or two, and from that developed into large collections. We find a record of an elephant being in Erie in the summer of 1820, and of other animal shows in 1822 and 1823. The price of admission was 25 cents for adults, and 12 1/2 cents for children. This charge continued up to the second or third year of the civil war. In July, 1827, the first circus appeared, and in the same month in 1831 a violent storm blew down the tent of another, which was considered by the pious people as a manifestation of the disapproval of Providence. Within a date comparatively recent, it was looked upon as wicked to attend a circus, and if religious persons attended at all, it was with fear that they were not doing exactly the right thing.

Cattle Driving
Before the era of railroads, cattle driving was one of the great industries of the county. There was no market for cattle nearer than the eastern counties of the State, and the only way of getting them there was by the common roads. They were collected annually and driven across the mountains in droves of one hundred or more to Berks, Lancaster and other counties convenient to Philadelphia. Two men and a boy, with as many horses, usually managed a drove, and the trip took from two to three months. Sheep, hogs and horses were driven to market in the same way. There were numerous taverns on the route, where rest and sustenance was provided for men and beasts. The business was started by Thomas P. and Isaac Miller, and was also carried on extensively by S. Hutchins, John Marvin and others. It required considerable capital to carry on the business, but with ordinary luck, it paid well. The heaviest cattle buyer of later years was Wilson Moore, of Waterford.

Located between New York and Ohio, far away from the wealthier portions of the State, Erie County suffered all the evils of the miserable currency which prevailed before the greenbacks and National bank notes were invented. With the exception of a few years, there was no bank of issue in the county, and the only banking institutions were private brokers' offices. The best currency of those times was New York bank notes, and the poorest, those of the Western banks. Pennsylvania bank notes had only a small circulation in the county, and held a place in popular estimation intermediate between the above. There was a discount on all these, ranging from one to twenty per cent. It was for the interest of the private bankers to circulate the notes on which there was the largest discount, and, as a consequence, the county was flooded with the bills of banks the locations of which were hardly known. Every business man had to keep a "Bank Note Detector," revised and published monthly or weekly, on hand, and was not sure then that the notes he accepted would not be pronounced worthless by the next mail. There was hardly a week without a bank failure, and nearly every man had bills of broken banks in his possession. To add to the perplexities of the situation, there were innumerable counterfeits which could with difficulty be distinguished from the genuine. Granting that the bank was good, and that the discount was properly figured, there was no assurance that the bill was what it purported to be. All this was a terrible annoyance and loss to the people, but it was a regular bonanza to the "shaving shops." Even of the uncertain bank notes, there was not enough to do the business of the community. Most of the buying and selling was done on long credit, and occasionally a manufacturing fir, to ease itself along and relieve the necessities of the public, would issue a mongrel coin, which went by the name of "pewterinctum." This condition of affairs lasted until a year or two after the rebellion broke out.

People of this day who have no knowledge of the old bank not currency, can scarcely have a conception of the advantage of a uniform system such as has been given to us by the United States Government. It saves the people more, every year, in safety, convenience, and exchange, than the total public debt.

Soldiers' Monuments
Erie County enjoys the distinction of having erected the first monument in Pennsylvania to the memory of the soldiers who lost their lives in the war for the Union. It stands in the center of the public square of Girard, and the entire expense of its erection, about $6,000, was incurred by Dan Rice, the showman. The monument was dedicated on the 1st of November, 1865, in the presence of a vast multitude. Gov. Curtin, of Pennsylvania, and Gov. Tod, of Ohio, were among the eminent men who graced the occasion.

A second monument, one of the handsomest of its kind in the Union, was dedicated in Erie in 1872, and adds to the attractiveness of the West Park of the city. It commemorates the dead sailors as well as soldiers of the county, and owes its existence largely to the persistent labor of three patriotic ladies -- Mrs. Isaac Moorhead, Miss Sarah Reed and Miss Helen Ball.

The Revolution
As the permanent settlement of Erie County did not begin until 1795, twelve years after the acknowledgment of American independence, it is evident that very few of its citizens could have taken part in the long and desperate struggle with the mother country. The British held possession of the lake region for some years after peace was declared, and even claimed some sort of title to the country, as is explained in another chapter. The pioneers of the county included a fair proportion of Revolutionary soldiers. Among them were Seth Reed, who fought at Bunker Hill and rose to the rank of Colonel; Capts. John Lytle and Robert King, and privates John Vincent, Thomas Rees, William Miles, Zelotus Lee, Michael Hare, Daniel Stancliff, John McCoy, Stephen Sparrow, Titus Allen, Stephen Oliver and Robert Irwin, and Nash, Trask and Burrows. Many of the descendants of these gentlemen live in the county, and are justly proud of the patriotism of their ancestors.

The Mexican War

The number of men required for the war with Mexico, in 1847, was so small, comparatively, that the proportion of Erie County was not equal to a company. A number of young men belonging to the county enlisted in organizations elsewhere, and some of them fought all through the war. Among these was John W. McLane, who won great distinction in the war for the Union, as commander of the Eighty-third Pennsylvania Regiment. The scene of the war was so remote that it is only remembered as a national historical event.

The first anti-slavery society in the county (which was also one of the earliest in the State), was formed in 1836. Col. J. M. Moorhead was chosen President, and William Gray, Secretary. The principal members were Philetus Glass, Dr. S. Smedley and Truman Tuttle, of North East; Col. Moorhead, Mr. Jessup and Samuel Low, of Harbor Creek; William Himrod, Alex Mehaffey and Aaron Kellogg, of Erie; Giles and Hamlin Russell, of Mill Creek; Stephen C. Lee, of Summit; Rev. T. H. Burroughs, of Concord, and William Gray, of Wayne. Another society was formed in North East about the same time, with Truman Tuttle as President, James Duncan as Vice President, Dr. E. Smedley as Secretary and R. L. Loomis as Treasurer. An anti-abolition meeting was held the same year in Springfield.

The "underground railroad," which was the name generally given to the system by which slaves from the South were run away from their masters, was in full operation in this county from about 1840 to 1860. The slaves usually made their escape from the South by way of Washington County, Penn., and from there were helped along through Allegheny, Beaver, Lawrence, Mercer and Crawford Counties, to the lake shore. There were regular stations along the route, where zealous anti-slavery people openly defied the law and gave the runaway slaves food, shelter and money. The chief "station agents," as they were jokingly called in Erie County, were William Gray, Stephen C. Lee, Hamlin Russell and William Himrod. The slaves were secreted in Erie until a good chance offered to send them to Canada. Many romantic stories are told of the skill and desperation displayed in keeping the slaves from being captured and returned to the South by the officers of the law.

Oldest Men and Women
Michael Hare, who was buried in Waterford Cemetery, attained the remarkable age of one hundred and fifteen years eight months and twenty-three days. He was born in Ireland June 10, 1727, and died at Waterford on the 3d of May, 1843.

Patrick Ward died in Girard Township, aged one hundred and five years. When in his one hundred and third year, he walked three miles to Girard Borough in order to vote.

James Davis lived in Greenfield until he was one hundred, when he moved to Michigan, where he died, either one hundred and three or one hundred and five years old. On the anniversary of his ninety-eighth birthday, he chopped a lot of wood for William E. Marvin, then a resident of Greenfield.

Two men have died in their one hundredth year. They were Levi Atkins, of North East, and the father of ex-County Commissioner Garner Parmer, of Conneaut.

John Teel, first, a native of New England, died in Erie early in the century, aged ninety-seven years; Stephen Oliver, in McKean, January 14, 1857, lacking one month of ninety-seven; Benjamin Colton in the same township, in May, 1883, aged ninety-six; Griffith Hinton, in Venango, on the 15th of March, 1880, aged ninety-six; Andrew Matteson, at or near Corry, on the 26th of March, 1883, aged ninety-five; John Teel, second, in Erie, April 21, 1873, in his ninety-fourth year; William Green, near Wellsburg, on the 9th of January, 1882, aged ninety-three, lacking three days, and Josiah Kellogg, in Erie, March 21, 1884, in his ninety-third year. Mr. Matteson attempted suicide some ten days before his death, cutting himself in such a horrible manner that nearly one-half of his bowls fell out upon the bed where he laid. Mr. Sisson, of Springfield, was living on the 15th of June, 1881, in his ninety-eighth year.

The oldest woman is clamed to be Mrs. Sarah Green, of Fairview, who was living on the 26th of February, 1883, at the supposed age of one hundred and two. Next in the order of age was Mrs. Mary Dobbins, relict of Capt. Dobbins, of Erie, who died on the 24th of January, 1879, in her one hundredth year. Mrs. Mary Shaughnessy died in Erie July 30, 1882, aged one hundred years. The fourth oldest was Mrs. William Smith, formerly of Waterford, but later of Beaver Dam. Her death occurred in the latter place on the 6th of August, 1875, in her ninety-ninth year.

Mrs. Anna Margaret, relict of Casper Doll, of Fairview, died February 3, 1881, aged ninety-seven years and ten days; Mrs. Lucy, relict of Asa G. Olds, in Erie, August 13, 1881, lacking a few days of ninety-seven; Mrs. Phelps, of Waterford, in August, 1879, aged ninety-five. Mrs. Martin Stough, of Weigleville, October 3, 1881, in her ninety-fourth year; and Mrs. Thomas Bowman, of Conneaut Township, in the fall of 1882, aged nearly ninety-two. Mrs. Ruth Osborn, of Waterford township, attained her ninety-third year on the 2d of February, 1883, and was still quite vigorous.

It is safe to assert that few counties can show as long a list of very old people as the above.

Thanksgiving Day
The first time a day for Thanksgiving was set apart in Pennsylvania was on the last Thursday of November, 1819, at the suggestion of Gov. Findlay. The Governor's proclamation was generally respected throughout Erie County. No Governor followed his example until Findlay's son-in-law entered the executive office when he re-inaugurated the custom of an annual public Thanksgiving, which has been maintained ever since. The first chief executive to propose a day of national Thanksgiving was President Taylor.

The Flood of 1883

Once of the greatest floods ever known took place at the beginning of February, 1883. It washed away nearly every mill dam in the county and destroyed numerous bridges. The damage amounted to tens of thousands of dollars.

Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Part II, Chapter XXVII, pp. 490-500.


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