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South Beaver Township

Milestones Vol 23 No. 2

By Jean Means

About four million years ago South Beaver Township was a part of a mass of land known as "Appalachia". During this early era, the swampy land mass rose and sank. It had a heavy cover of vegetation which formed the vast coal, shale and sandstone deposits. On the Ernest Groth farm have been found fossilized rocks containing marine life and shells.

South Beaver Township once encompassed all the present day Beaver County north and west of the rivers. Communities in Beaver and Lawrence Counties have been carved from its acreage, beginning with Beaver Borough in 1802 and Borough Township in 1804. South Beaver formerly belonged to Beaver Township, Allegheny County in the depreciation land area, Hage District. In 1785 the Depreciation Lands were surveyed. Certificates were issued to the Pennsylvania troops, enlisting them to purchase land in the western part of the Commonwealth. This was a result of the depreciation of salary after the Revolutionary War. (Beaver Township extended west to the state line, north ten miles into the present Lawrence County and east to within one mile of the Big Beaver River).

Because of the inconvenience and expense in traveling, residents peititoned the State to erect anew county. On March 12, 1800 a new county was named called Beaver.

At this same time Beaver Township was changed to South Beaver Township. It was so named as it lies south of the North Fork of Little Beaver Creek. The original Township was 30 miles long and 13 miles wide, containing 390 miles. Therefore, in 1801 and again in 1803 South Beaver was declared too large. At this time the courts refused to divide it. It was not until 1816 that it was divided into four new townships: Chippewa Township; Brighton Township; South Beaver Township; and Big Beaver Township.

It is known that Indians once lived in the area. They were a type of Iroquois who were annihilated before William Penn arrived in the State. As the Indians

were pushed West by white man, they stayed for short periods of time in this region. The Delawares arrived about 1725 followed by Munsee, then Shawnee, the Mohican, Chippewa, Ottawa, Mingo, Wyandot and the Cherokee. A substantial Indian settlement was located at the new Industrial Development. It is believed that, Half King, a Delaware Indian from Logstown had a hunting cabin in the area. The Watts Mill site is believed to have been an old Mingo village.

One main route West passed through the southern part of the township. An older resident, Harry Groetzinger, remembers the old Tuscarawas Indian Trail. (Lisbon Road) In the northern portion the Sandusky Trail crossed its boundaries. (Route 51 - Constitution Boulevard).

The principal settlements in the area were Blackhawk and Rowetown. Blackhawk was a stagecoach stop and Inn on the Old Tuscarawas Trail. Rowetown, located at the crossroads of Ohioville Road (Route 168) and Blackhawk Road (Route 251), has passed from existence. It served as a post office, blacksmith shop and sawmill for several years.

The earliest church within the township boundaries was the Methodist Church. It was located at the fork of Moore Road and Ohioville Road (Route 168). There was no graveyard, and we do not know when it was organized or passed from existence. The present Brush Run Methodist Church was started at the turn of this century.

Two private cemeteries are located in wooded areas. The Johnson family plot is on the present Swartz farm on Sterling Road. An iron fence had been erected in 1920 but has since been lost to the elements. The Conide Court Cemetery is located about one-half mile west of the Ohioville Road on Lawrence McMiIIin's property.

The "Old Stone House" is believed to be the oldest house in the township. It was built by the Wilsons just south of Little Beaver Creek near the junction of Ohioville Road. (Route 168) and State Route 51. In 1955 it was abandoned fully furnished, piano and all. A good slate roof has protected it from the weather. It now sits in the center of a mining operation. The stone walls are three feet thick. The kitchen was built in the traditional style with a huge fireplace and loft above. The hand-hewn beams in the attic show visible scars from axe marks.

Until the present century, industries present were farming and milling. A prominent early landmark was Watts Mill on Little Beaver Creek. The main concern of early settlers was the grinding of grain for food for man and beast. In the beginnings, Indian stones and wooden mortars with pestals were used. Among the first mills was one at Cannelton in 1798 erected by George Foulks. The mills were crudely constructed and did little more than crush the grain. Foulks Mill has been rebuilt twice and was run by Reuben Watt and Sons. it was especially known for its buckwheat flour. Since buckwheat can only be ground in cold weather, residents brought their bags and picked them up a few days later. The entire mill burned during World War I after being struck by lightning. It became known as Watts Mill after 1840.

The one-room rural schools were generally open in winter, though in some places, time was divided between summer and winter and under the care of different teachers. This plan was objected to as it was difficult to get schools in operation in two months. A number of pupils did not come till the end of the first month. Many schools were only in operation from September to March as it was necessary to be at home to help with spring planting on the farm. School hours were flexible and Saturday classes were common in order to shorten the school year.