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History of Early Baden
Milestones Vol 17 No 1 Spring 1992

It has been impossible to locate the Indian trails all through our town. All we can find is the record of a trail coming from the Forks of the Ohio down the river crossing the Beaver Creek at Bridgewater and continuing over the hills back of Beaver in what is known in Beaver County as the Tuscarawas Road. This section of Beaver County was a part of Bedford County in the early days. A little later it was made into Westmoreland County, still later into Allegheny County, and finally into Beaver County in 1800. These many changes confuse the exact location of early trails through our town. We would like to know that our present State Street was one of these Indian Trails, but the proof can not be established yet we can prove that State Street was one of the earliest routes for traders and explorers. At that time it was a narrow winding road called by the first settlers "TbeBigRoad." It was the main thoroughfare for traders and travelers, going from Pittsburgh to Ohio or further West.

Many interesting tales have been related by Baden's first settlers of having seen bands of wandering Indians on foot or horseback journeying along this road. Travelers taking their stock from Ohio to the markets in Pittsburgh drove herds of cows, flocks of sheep, turkeys and geese, and droves of hogs along this early highway. This section was known as Indian country, hostile to the white settler.

Passing over much familiar history we find at the close of the Revolutionary War, 1781, the Colonial Governor of Pennsylvania setting aside certain tracts of land in various sections of Western Pennsylvania for the purpose of redeeming the certificates for Colonial money that had been issued to the officers and soldiers in payment for their services in the Revolutionary War. The value of the certificates had depreciated because Colonial money had become worthless, consequently these tracts of land become known as "Depreciation Land." These worthless certificates have handed down to posterity the familiar phrase, "not worth a continental."

Baden occupies some of the land included in Depreciation Tract No. 2, surveyed by one Daniel Leet in 1785.

The section belonging to Christian Burkhart extendnig from Phillips Street to Rottek Street was surveyed and laid out in lots by a William McCalister, May 17, 1838, and called the village of Baden for a city and state in Germany, Baden, Baden. The streets in this section were named by Christian Burkhart. A post office was established in 1852, but it was not until April, 1868, that the village of Baden, together with the adjourning farms of the Hills, the Moors and Bryans was incorporated as the Borough of Baden.

The Burkhart Farm, extended from Rottick Street to Phillips Street (at the Drug Store comer.) I have no record of how long Mr. Burkhart farmed this land. But it was the first plan of lots to be laid out. This property being intersected by "All Fours Run" was rather cut up. The legend of how this run was named, was passed along to me when a very small boy. An Indian brave on a hunting trip was supposed to have been wounded back in the forests that covered the land at that time. His injury was so severe that he was unable to walk. Knowing that many Indians lived along the river, and would possibly be passing in their canoes, he decided the brook would finally reach the river. So, he is supposed to have crawled on all fours to the run and to help.

On the Burkhart plan, most of the activity of that period took place. Just about where Baden station now stands, was a saw mill, and a combination flour mill and distillery. In those days, grist mills and distilleries were, as a rule, built in combination, as grain was used for both products. One of these combinations, existed at Freedom, this one at Baden, and one at Economy - now Ambridge, and one in Emsworth.

In those days liquor was used differently than today, although there were many who abused it. A pan of the old saw mill was still standing when I was a small boy. At that time one end of it was fitted up as a railroad office. Mr. L. 1. Berry was the agent. 'Me second floor mill was the building that is now Martin's Store.

The first school house that we have any record stood at the turn of Phillips Street, before you come to Mr. Alvin Gross' home. It stood at the left side of the road as you go towards the country. There was a road down to it and a spring, the evidence of both can be seen today. It was built of logs. My father pointed out to me where it stood. In those days, people in building usually located near the source of drinking water instead of bringing the water to them. In talking to the late Mr. John Neely, he corroborated my father in regard to the school house. He said as a boy he could remember where the coal or fuel, and a pile of ashes were.

The vicinity immediately around the station, as I have said before, was the scene of most of the activity of Baden. In addition to the saw mill, flour min and distillery, was located the grocery store, drug store, blacksmith shop, post office, and, of course, the station.

A peculiar thing to me, as a boy, was an idea of the people living here in the earlier days. No matter how near the station they lived, when they went to the store or postoffice, they were always going "down to Baden" - and yet they lived in Baden. I remember one time when at Moore's, Duncan and I were playing in the yard when Mrs. Moore called Duncan to go to Baden and get the mail.

The first church was built in 1858 and is still standing on the opposite comer from Dumeyer's drug store. It was first built as a community or union church, where several congregations held alternate services. Different congregations built individual churches except the Methodists, who continued to worship here until the present edifice was built on the comer of Dippold Avenue and State Street. I remember attending services in the old church when Dr. Wood was preaching, and he told a story about another minister who, with not much education, was discussing the creation and wonders of nature, and as his eloquence waxed strong, he asserted the Lord made the trees, the birds, the busy bee, He made you, and He made me, and He made a daisy.

We now come to the Bryan farm, beginning at Phillips Street and running up to the upper side of the Lutheran Church or Moor's Lane.

Among the antiques in the old home is an old meal mill. It is fastened to the wall in our kitchen and was used, when I was a boy, to grind coffee. That was long before coffee had to get on the radio amateur hour to become famous. This old mill went to California to the gold fields in 49. It was used to grind corn, for meal, by a man by the name of Jonathan Hyde, who made his home with my people and went to California along with others in the gold rush. He went with a caravan, and returned the same way. He did not find gold, but was made a deputy sheriff and served in that capacity until his return trip. While a deputy sheriff, he armed himself with two large Colt revolvers, for which he paid $25 in gold for each. Upon his return, the old meal mill was fastened to the kitchen wall where it now resides, and one of the revolvers he gave to my father, of whom he was very fond, and it is now one of my proud possessions. Mr. Hyde was an educated man, and a great reader. During the excitement of the Civil War, he sometimes got into arguments with other men. Being unbiased and fair in these discussions, believing the South had grievance, as well as the North, he made some enemies, and was branded as a "Copperhead."



The single track of the railroad was being built at that time, and a band of the men employed on the railroad decided to tar and feather this so-called "Copperhead." Being a band of very brave men, they selected a night for this frolic, when my grandfather was absent. He had driven to Pittsburgh with produce from the farm, there being no railroads at this time, as that was the only means of transportation. He would drive in one day, sell his products, and return the next night. This evening, grandmother was sitting by the fire spinning yam and Mr. Hyde, the bookworm, was reading. Old "Shep", the farm dog, who fairly worshipped my grandmother, was lying back of the stove. A rap came at the door - upon investigation my grandmother discovered some men in the yard with torches, and the spokesman for the men informed her they were after this man Hyde, "the Copper-head." She replied, "I will call him." She stepped to the wood box, secured a generous stick of wood, and speaking to the dog, went to the door - the dog at her side, and invited the men to come and get Mr. Hyde. The first move that was made, the dog leaped, and put the whole band to rout. Mr. Hyde was ribbed about hiding behind a woman's skirts, and he in turn praised their bravery in allowing a woman to put them to flight.

I never knew my grandmother, but I have been told she was large and raw-boned, about six feet tall, and up until her death was seldom ill. A strong robust frontier woman, as they were in those days. She was at the beck and call of the immediate community. In times of illness or distress she was always called on, attended the advent of the arrival of many small citizens into this world and prepared many of her friends and neighbors for their last long sleep.

I have heard my father tell of his mother relating to him how, as she sat by the window on the upper side of the house spinning yam or knitting, she could look out over the cleared fields between our home and the Old Stone House, and would see the deer as they left the shelter of the woods back about as far as where Mrs. Coffey lives, as they passed across State Street, which was then a 33-foot road, and continued down to the river and climb the opposite bank and disappear into the woods on the other side. That was several years before Aliquippa was built.

I must tell you a little story about my father. The railroad was being built, several of the men employed in its construction -superintendents and surveyors, had boarded at my grandparents', and they liked to play cards. Grandfather was not opposed to cards, but he did not permit them to gamble. One night, after grandfather had gone to the barn to do the evening chores, the men began playing "Penny Ante." Father was quite a small boy, and was sitting on the edge of the table alongside of his friend, Mr. Hyde, watching the play. When they heard grandfather returning from the barn, they pushed the pennies to the center of the table and set the candlestick over them. When grandfather came in, everything looked serene and as he stopped for a minute to watch the play, my father reached over and lifted the candlestick exposing the pennies, and said, "See the chips, pap?"

My grandfather employed a half-breed Indian as a farm hand, who was single and lived in a little hut or tepee in the woods near the house, but took all his meals at the farm. One morning there was a heavy fall of snow, he had just come in and sat down to breakfast (I suppose it was buckwheat cakes, sausage and honey). Where the farm hand sat he could look out of a back window, and right on the top of the hill, between his vision and the sky, he saw a wild turkey wandering by through the snow. Grandfather got the gun from back of the door and giving it to Grafty, told him to go out to the corner of the house and shoot it. He shot at it and the turkey arose almost vertically in the air, and then sailed across the ravine towards what is called "Pine HUI," on the Moore farm. The Indian thought he had hit it, contrary to the belief of my grandfather. But, when breakfast was over, he asked permission to look for it. After about three hours, he returned with the turkey. It had set its wings and sailed like an aeroplane until it dove head first into the snow - dead. When dressed, the slug with which it was killed was found imbedded in its heart.

This Indian was called "Grafty" on account of his efficiency. In those days the grain was harvested by hand, and men in the harvest fields would run races to see who could cut and tie the most grain in a day. They worked in pairs, a cradler and tier. The same pair always working together. When you hired a man to cradle your wheat, you had to hire his tier. This Indian was a famous tier. It was said he would actually scrape the grain off the cradle before it hit the ground. One day he got too close to the cradle and was struck in the face. His nose was cut and the end hung down over his lip. They brought him into the house and grandmother washed it and put some cobwebs on the cut to stop the blood, placed the nose in position and made a cast of grafting wax and bound it. After it healed, there was a black mark across the nose due to the cobwebs, and henceforth he was called "Grafty", due to the grafting wax.

Some time after the 300 acre Bryan farm was purchased, it was divided and half of it sold to Henry Bryan, my grandfather's cousin. Berry Street was the dividing line, and the Stone House known as the Murphy home was built and used as an inn as well as a farm house. There was a post with a cross arm, on which swung a large iron horse to notify the weary traveler of food and shelter. In the surrounding fields, large pens were fenced off to take care of the herds of cattle and flocks of turkeys that were being driven out through, and were corralled there while the drivers ate and rested. Large flocks of turkeys passed through with sometimes as many as 1,000 in the flock. The drivers in driving turkeys always tried to time the speed to arrive at a tavern or inn before evening. As the land was covered with timber and when night began to fall, the turkeys would take to the trees to roost, and the drivers would have to camp there until morning and await the pleasure of the turkeys.

Roving bands of Indians passed through and often had camped on the Bryan property. One band, upon camping one night, came to my grandfather for corn meal. Not having any at the time, he gave them some wheat flour, and they did not know how to use it, so they poured it out in a circle on the ground and danced on it.

From the 1938 history of Baden. Author not identified.