Crawford County, Pennsylvania
"HISTORY OF THE VILLAGES AND TOWNSHIPS OF CRAWFORD COUNTY."
It is easily understood why men rush to the newly-found gold regions. It seems natural that members of eastern families should have crossed the ocean to enjoy the society of their relative colonists; but why the tide of migration should have continued into the wilds of Western Pennsylvania and beyond, and whole families buried themselves voluntarily in these solitudes, is not so apparent. A spirit of adventure does not solve the problem, nor that feeling of unrest that possessed the pioneers. Civil and religious rights were not questioned, and the solution seems embraced in the declaration that the settler believed in the rapid progress of development westward, and saw himself prospectively enjoying the rewards of his toil. While some sections were settled by large families, and farms were obtained for children, it is noticeable that very many of Crawford's pioneers were single men. The hope of bettering their fortune may be regarded as the cause of migration,—a result secured only by the exercise of great fortitude. Hard labor and homely fare were the general experience of the settler; yet these were compensated by vigorous health and slow, but sure, advance in personal and neighborhood prosperity. John Hayes, of Delaware, is claimed to have been the earliest settler in Rockdale. Leading improvements were made about 1795 under the patronage of the Holland Land Company. Isaac Kelly, from Delaware County, was a settler about 1800. His warrant is dated December 14, 1801, and calls for an excess of four hundred acres near the centre of the township. Additional settlers during this time were a man named Priest and the McCullophs, Hugh and Patrick. In the year 1802, Nathan Mitchell settled in Rockdale, on the line between Erie and Crawford; he was from Massachusetts, and occupied his tract for thirty-two years. Jesse Brown, a native of Massachusetts, became an occupant of land in Rockdale in 1818. Reference to the records for dates of settlement shows numerous fictitious names entered by speculators, and give no information. Locations of tracts have occurred till a recent date.
The organization of the township took place in 1811 [sic]. Its area is twenty-one thousand seven hundred and two acres. The surface is hilly, excepting the low level valleys of French and Muddy Creeks. Valley soil is very rich. High lands are a mixture of clay and sand. Lumbering, a former pursuit, is still an important industry, but agriculture and dairying are chief employments. At Miller's Station is a village containing a hotel, stores, and shops; from this point much lumber is shipped. Several large saw-mills, a good grist-mill, and cheese-factories are in operation, and do a thriving business. School statistics exhibit a marked progress in education. There are at present fourteen schools. There was a church built in 1825 by a Baptist society. It stood upon lands now owned by Daniel Miller, and has been torn down. The minister who exercised a care over this church was Elder George Miller, a settler in 1800. Isaac Miller, a prominent member, was drowned during the winter of 1832 while crossing French Creek on the ice to attend meeting. Mrs. King, daughter of John Hays, was born in Rockdale Township on May 24, 1798, and married at the age of sixteen to Joseph King, a captain in the war of 1812. The first house erected in the township stood near what is now known as Jarvis' Mill, and was built under direction of the Holland Land Company. Farms donated at an early date were late of settlement; as an instance, a donation was made by the State in 1785 to Colonel Benjamin Fowler as a Revolutionary grant, and settlement was not made upon it until 1838, when H. R. Colwell moved upon it. The population in 1870 of Rockdale Township was 1664; of these all were white, and but 134 of foreign birth.
1. Combination Atlas Map of Crawford County, Pennsylvania, Compiled, Drawn and Published From Personal Examinations and Surveys (Philadephia: Everts, Ensign & Everts, 1876), 24.