Crawford County, Pennsylvania
"HISTORY OF THE VILLAGES AND TOWNSHIPS OF CRAWFORD COUNTY."
OIL CREEK TOWNSHIP.
Oil Creek is the southeast corner township. It was formed in 1820. Its area is eighteen thousand six hundred and seventy-nine acres. Oil and Little Oil Creeks are principal streams. The population, exclusive of Titusville, was, in 1870, two thousand and forty-one—all white but one.
THE CITY OF TITUSVILLE
Among the first settlers in this locality was Jonathan Titus, who came here about 1790. Samuel Kerr arriving soon after, the two men united in the purchase, from the Holland Land Company, of seventeen hundred acres, now embraced in Titusville. A rude shelter was improvised until better could be built. A house built by Titus, which stood in the rear of the Ralston and Harrington Block, was the first substantial residence in the locality. John Thompson and William Fulton were early settlers at Kerr's Hill. Fulton sold to William Alcorn. Andrew Kerr, who had located on Road 12, bought out Alcorn, and moved to the place bearing his name. James Kerr, son of Andrew, located a five-hundred-acre tract, now owned by Isaac Weed, on Road 18, in 1799. John Gibson, while on his way, in 1800, to French Creek, with a design of settling there, stopped at Oil Creek to fell a tree on which to cross the stream, and accidentally cut his knee. He went back to Hydetown, and stopped with Daniel Titus.
In 1801, William Gibson, father of John, moved into the township with his family, consisting of his wife and nine children. Thomas Mitchell, of Ireland, accompanied by a family of a wife and four children, moved in on May 6, 1803, and settled on the farm occupied by Joseph Henderson, a grandson. John McIntyre was another of the early settlers.
Oil Creek Borough, known as Hydetown, was first settled by Peter and Daniel Titus, brothers to Jonathan. Each took up four hundred acres. The borough is on Oil Creek, three and one-half miles north of Titusville. It was incorporated as a borough in 1869, and is a growing town. The first saw-mill at this point was put up by Charles Ridgway, a settler in 1797, from Fayette County. A store and trading post was established here by Captain Sheffields in 1816. This settlement was on the route pursued by the Indians to their camps at Sandusky, Ohio, and Sheffield bought their furs and sold them goods for some years. Sheffield finally sold out to Joseph S. Chase, son of a Presbyterian minister. The first postmaster was Samuel Kerr, appointed in 1818, and serving ten years. Salaries were such as would not bear reduction. Rev. Amos Chase organized the first church, and it is said of him that he was the founder of over thirty churches in western Pennsylvania. In 1847 there was at Titusville a town of two hundred and seventy-five inhabitants, located in a lumber region. Joseph Care was known as the owner of a grist-mill and saw-mill, a woolen-mill, and machinery for carding and for weaving. Brewer, Watson & Co. were proprietors of a second saw-mill at the place. During this year three commissioners, William Robinson, John M. Titus, and Salmon P. Chase, were appointed to lay off the boundaries of Titusville, and it was incorporated as a borough.
The discovery of oil on August 28, 1859, directed public attention to this section, and Titusville became a city of shanty-hotels and fictitious oil companies. The place was incorporated as a city in 1867, and has grown to a population of ten thousand persons. In 1875, one meets upon the outskirts structures of hasty build and aged look, betokening premature and abandoned growth; but, further on, the smell of oil pervades the air, huge tanks are brimmed with oil; tall chimneys exude black clouds of carbon, and nine large refineries are at work, doing a business exceeded only by Cleveland. These refineries are at present manufacturing 17,900 packages per week, distributed as follows: Easterly & Davis, organized 1870, refine 1500 per week; Pickering, Chandler & Co., organized 1868, refine 2400 per week; Acme Works, Porter, Moreland & Co., organized 1867, refine 6500 per week; Octave Oil Co., organized 1872, refine 2200 per week; J. H. Reed, organized 1865, refine 1000 per week; Caddam & Donahue, organized 1865, refine 400 per week; John Jackson, organized 1865, refine 600 per week; J. A. Scott, organized 1868, refine 500 per week; and Bennett, Warner & Co., organized 1870, refine 3000 per week.
Eastward, solid business blocks show substantial prosperity. The hills are dotted with residences, and southward, whence comes the oil wealth, the houses extend down the valley. Wide streets are gas-lighted, and paved with wood. Holly Water-Works give property protection from the ravages of fire. A dozen churches show the presence of religious people; costly school structures betoken an interest in education. There is a Board of Trade, an Oil Exchange, and five banking institutions. The "Herald" and "Courier" represent the press. Two large iron works employ hundreds of hands in a variety of manufacture. Hotels are numerous, and grade in quality to the very best. Three railroads enter the city, and furnish transportation to and from the oil region. Wealthy operators are city residents, and expend their means in adorning private residences and public offices. The discovery of wells flowing one hundred and seventy-five barrels per day within three miles of the city, and the gigantic trade in the treasure of the rocks, indicate a lasting and increased prosperity for the city of Titusville.
1 Combination Atlas Map of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, Compiled, Drawn and Published From Personal Examinations and Surveys (Philadephia: Everts, Ensign & Everts, 1876), 25.