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Patterson Township
by Edith Porter
Milestones Vol 23 No 3 Fall 1998

Patterson Township takes its name from one of the principal landowners in its early history. Most of Patterson Township and Beaver Falls was owned at one time by James Patterson, who came from County Down, Ireland, by way of Albany, New York, and Philadelphia. He was born in 1799 and arrived in America when he was just six weeks old. Conestoga wagons brought Patterson and his family to this area in 1829. He erected a flour mill, a cotton mill, a cooper shop, a sawmill and charcoal furnace. He built a dam for water power; thus Patterson promoted trade and helped to develop the industry and commerce of the valley.

Patterson Township lies along Darlington Road, which follows the crest of a hill between Brady's Run and the Beaver River. The present boundary was part of the original South Beaver Township. It became part of Ohio Township in 1805 and Brighton Township in 1816. Patterson Township was formed in 1841 and at that time encompassed all the present land of the township plus what was later to be called Patterson Heights Borough, Beaver Falls Borough, and a small part of Fallston Borough. The first part to be removed from the township was the area known as the Borough of Beaver Falls. The growth of the town in business and population had been rapid, and the citizens felt they should have the advantages of a borough incorporation. This was granted in 1868. The next year, the fanning land at the top of Fallston Hill, owned by George M. McHattie and Jesse Williams, was added to Fallston's jurisdiction.

After these divisions, the 1870 census showed 74 residents. The township was mostly a rural farming area with a number of truck farms. One of the best known was the Wissner's whose homestead was located at the site of the present municipal building at 4th Street and Darlington Road. Both McHattie's and Wissner's farms served as coach stops on the road between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. This old -coach road divided in Fallston, the eastern fork going along the narrows through the lower end of Beaver Falls and up Ross Hill to Darlington Road at Wissner's where it joined the western fork which went up Fallston Hill and along Darlington Road. In the early 1900's, there were still occasional cattle drives from Ohio to the slaughter houses in Pittsburgh via this road. Three of these old homes on Darlington Road are still standing, and two are still in use. The McHattie property, across from the golf course of the Beaver Valley Country Club, and the Anderson home, at 914 Darlington Road, are still occupied; but the Corcoran home has recently been boarded up.

The third property removed from the Township of Patterson was Patterson Heights. The residents of this small section felt their area was largely residential with higher real estate values as opposed to the rural nature of the rest of the township, and they preferred to keep their tax dollars in their own little village. After the loss of this area, Riverview and Pleasantview became the most populous sections.

Up until 192 1, Patterson Township was a second class township. In order to block further annexation of land and to improve their form of government, it was decided to seek first class, with a Board of Commissioners in charge. From 1924 through 1927, water lines were laid in the township by the Beaver Valley Water Company. The sanitary sewer system project began in 1934, after many delays due to the depression; and it was completed in 1936. Forty township lights were turned on on October 1, 1936.

In spite of a difficult beginning, with the fire department going bankrupt in 193 1, the fire company has made a very important contribution to the success of Patterson Township. During the depression, the people had some very lean years, and in May, 1931, the township was down to $15.52 in the treasury and unable to pay the electric bill for the street lights. They provided the township truck to haul firewood from Brady's Run for the residents who wished to cut wood there for their fuel supply, coal being an unaffordable commodity for many in that depressed time. They hauled 82 truck loads that winter of 1931-32. With Friday night Bingo and the Firemens' Carnival in July, the township fire department managed over the years to purchase some really fine equipment and provide excellent fire protection. Their modem rescue unit is often in demand by other communities at the scene of accidents.

The Riverview Park atop the hill west of Beaver Falls was a popular recreational area around 1900. Beaver Falls residents reached the park by streetcars which ran on what was known as the Riverview Line, begun in 1898. It followed the hollow and circled the reservoir to the south of the Eleventh Street railroad station as it climbed along the hillside to the top, between Fifth and Sixth Streets. It was abandoned around 1904 when the Beaver Valley Traction Company, which had acquired it, decided to stop service to the park because of several derailments. The streetcar roadbed is still in very good condition today, except where it has washed out at the top and bottom of the hill.

The Jewish Cemetery, Agudath Achim Cemetery, was purchased by the congregation in 1906. It is a six-acre section, part of which is in White Township at the north end of Patterson.

There are three active churches in Patterson Township. The Reformed Presbyterian began in 1892 as a Mission Sabbath School. The first church was built in 1894, but it had to be replaced because of a fire before it was even dedicated. Only a piece of the pulpit was saved. The house next door was saved by throwing snowballs against it. The church was rebuilt in 1895.

The Riverview United Methodist Church started as a Sabbath afternoon Bible School in the "frame" school in 1919. The building was dedicated in 1921, and at that time it was the Riverview Evangelical Church. Since a merger in 1968, it has been the Riverview United Methodist.

The First Assembly of God Church built a new sanctuary on Darlington Road in 1971. The facilities are presently being expanded with a large new wing added to the structure.

All of the churches have undergone changes, replacements, and additions. Most of these improvements are to provide for Christian and social activities for their congregations.

In 1965, the Croatian Franciscan Fathers purchased the Beegle Estate property at 700 Darlington Road. It is titled, "Our Lady of Peace Monastery." The facility is used for Retreats by priests and laity and for other religious gatherings and services.

Patterson Township has a hillside park located along the north side of Eighth Street Hill. Fifty acres have been set aside as a recreational property for hiking and picnicking.

When Patterson Township still included the land in Patterson Heights, the 1870 census of 74 residents were mostly settlers of a rural area adjacent to a growing industrial valley. With the influx of workers for the factories came new influences from immigrants of Eastern and Southern Europe. The community was fairly resistant to accepting these differences, and, as late as the 1920's, the Klan burned a cross in Riverview when the first Catholic family moved into the neighborhood. Since World War II, acceptance has evolved, and we find names representing varied ethnic origins on the Board of Commissioners and with the Volunteer Fire Department.

The Hilltop Bus Lines served the Township and the heights areas, via Steffin Hill and the Country Club Hill to Beaver Falls, for many years. This regular bus service probably helped to develop the hilltop residential communities of Riverview (from 11th Street south) and Pleasantview (from 11th Street north) on the eastern side of Darlington Road. The service diminished, due to the increased use of automobiles, and it was finally discontinued altogether about 1956.