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20th Century History of Butler and Butler County, PA and Representative Citizens, Volume 1, edited and compiled by James A. McKee. Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., Chicago, 1909, pages 493-496

Portersville borough and Muddy Creek Township


The most important settlement in Muddy Creek Township is Portersville, which was made a post office in March 1926, and was then renamed in honor of Governor Porter.  The first postmaster, John Stewart, son of the founder of the town, held office until 1836.  Although the whole neighborhood was a wild bit of forest when Robert Stewart settled here in 1796, by 1814 enterprising men began to look for sites, and in that year Thompson McCosh opened his cabinetmaking shop.  Robert Craig was the first merchant who opened a stock of goods – in 1829, in 1831 John W. Riddle started a wagon and furniture factory, utilizing steam as power, this being a remarkable example of enterprise.  In 1836 William Williams opened his cabinet shop, and in 1845, James Newton and John Hall engaged in merchandising.  The Oliver House was the first hotel, and after it was burned down in 1874, a more substantial structure was built in its place.  In 1868 William Humphrey opened his general store, and for a long time was at the head of a large business.  As time went on and population increased, almost every line of business was represented, and today it would be hard to find a busier or more prosperous town of its size in Butler County.  The Portersville Creamery Company, proprietor, R. V. Thompson, is a large industry, and its products have a heavy sale.

Among other Portersville enterprises are numbered William Humphrey & Son and D. J. Brennerman, general stores, G. B. McDonald, hardware, M.C. Glenn, undertaker, S. Hay, druggist, W. H. Dann, harness, H, Heberling, tin shop, J. S. Brennerman, feed store, E. R. Lubin, wagon maker, Beighley Hotel, proprietor, E. L. Beighley, Dr. E. U. Snyder, physician, Dr.  J. L. Buchanan, dentist, besides which there are blacksmith shops, millinery stores, and barber shops.  The present postmaster is Joseph Lehman.

Lodge No. 909, I.O.O.F, is located here and has fifty-three members – instituted in 1875.  The lodge owns its own hall, which is a fine building.

Portersville was incorporated as a borough December 16, 1844.  The first election took place January 6, 1945, when Dr. Joseph Cowden was chosen first burgess, with Joseph P. Work, John Cleeland, William McClelland, John White and Jesse Johnston as first board of councilmen.  The borough officers at present are as follows, Council, John R. Humphrey, president and acting burgess, G. W. Kinsey, I.L. Moore, John Weitzel, Jos, L Buchannan and M. C. Glenn school board, W, L, English, W.H. Heberling, M.C. Glenn, E. H. Laderer, William Humphrey, Harvey Marks, auditors, J. H. Marks and Robert Glenn, tax collector, H. W. Dunn, assessors, E. L. Beighley and J. R. Humphrey.  The population of Portersville is now about three hundred.

Telephone service is furnished by the Portersville Telephone Company in connection with the Bell Long Distance ‘phone.  The local company was incorporated as a mutual company in 1904, with a capital of $12,000, and now has 322 subscribers.  James McConnell is president and E. W. Humphrey treasurer and manager.

The founding of the early churches in a new section always contributes an interesting chapter to any history.  The first Muddy Creek Township religious organization was the Presbyterian.  As early 1814 Rev. Reid Bracken, a pioneer evangelist, visited this neighborhood and held services in the cabinet shop of Thompson McCosh.  The church organization was effected in October, 1820, and it was incorporated in April, 1844.  The president edifice of the society is the third erected and dates from 1840.  The first was a log structure, which was followed by a frame building.  The church now has about three hundred members.  The present pastor, Rev. J.G. Timblin, has been pastor for eight years.  The Sabbath school, of which E. H. Laderer is superintendent, numbers 150 members.

The United Presbyterian Church was organized in December, 1841, as an Associate Reformed Society, with Rev. William Douthett as first pastor.  The society now numbers about sixty members but has no church building.

The Old Covenanter Church had its beginnings away back in 1833, and through various vicissitudes continued until 1890, when it disbanded as a separate body, its members transferring to the church of the same faith, at Rose Point, in Lawrence County.

The Civil War had many brave soldiers in the ranks from Muddy Creek Township.  Many of these never returned to their old homes, their remains lying in far distant graves, but Watson Brothers Post, No 478, at Portersville, has a goodly showing of veterans whose records reflect honor on their township.  Roundhead Camp, Sons of Veterans, No. 84, which was instituted at Portersville in September, 1887, with James McConnell as captain, is another patriotic organization well supported.  The leading secret societies have found a footing in the township, and the Odd Fellows, in particular, are very strong.  The first lodge of this order was organized on June 30, 1875, with James Porter as Noble Grand.

Township Officials – Justice of the peace, William C. Tebay, constable, Grand Jones, collector, William F. English, assessor, Austin McClymonds.


Muddy Creek Township, deriving its name from the body of water known as Muddy Creek, which forms its northern boundary and separates it from Worth Township, was reduced to its present area in 1854, although, when originally constituted as one of the thirteen townships in which Butler County was divided in 1804, it included land now forming parts of three other townships – Franklin, Worth, and Connoquenessing.  This township shows a variety of soil and is the field of agricultural and mining activity.  It has been found rich in coal, iron ore and limestone, and the development of these natural gifts of Nature have brought wealth to many families and have attracted a solid, industrious laboring class from other sections.  The surface of the land is somewhat broken, the coal and limestone being in evidence, but the township can also show some of the best farming land in Butler County.  The highest measured point is near Portersville, the height there being 1,375 feet above sea level.

Oil has been produced in Muddy Creek Township for a number of years, a new field was opened up during the past year and about eighteen or twenty wells out down.  Almost the entire township is underlaid with coal, there being a vein from three and a half to five feet in thickness.  Its production at the present time, however, is not large enough to be of commercial importance.  Farming is the principal occupation of the people.  The township has good telephone service.  There is one gristmill, owned and operated by H. Bauder & Son, which was erected about forty years ago.

No records of this section prior to 1794 have been discovered, and the first known resident was a negro named Caesar, who was found occupying a log cabin when Robert Stewart, the first white settler, appeared here in 1796.  Mr. Stewart recognized the negro’s priority and came to an amicable settlement with him, purchasing his land and later founding the village of Stewartsville, which is now known as Portersville.  It was a wild region in those days, and as Mr. Stewart desired companionship for his family, he deeded 100 acres of his land to Thomas Brandon as an inducement to him to bring his family and locate.  Other very early settlers were Thomas Clark, James, Robert, and Thomas Cratty and Henry Shanor.  The beginning of the new century brought David Kennedy, Arthur Cleeland, James White and Marvin Christie, and soon after came John Myers, John Boston, Edward and James White, Thomas Christie, James English, John Wimer, Dr. John Cowden, Joseph Tebay, Johnson McKnight, Thomas Oliver, Thomas Garvey, Richard McKee, with others, and in 1831 came the McClymonds.  Many of these pioneer families are still largely represented in the best citizenship of the township.

Muddy Creek Township, like other early sections, had to solve its public problems, and one of the earliest was providing adequate school facilities for the rapidly increasing population.  Johnson McKnight probably taught the first school in 1821, on his own farm.  In about 1823 the Concord schoolhouse was built, about the same time one also was erected on the Christie farm, and other structures were put up by private parties prior to 1835, when the common school law went into effect and public schools were soon dotting the whole township.  They were well attended, for the early settlers of this section were notably people of intelligence as well as thrift.

There are now seven schools in the township, including the high school in Portersville, which is a joint borough and township school.  The total enrollment is 198 pupils.  The present township school board consists of Addison McClymonds, president, Robert Kennedy, treasurer, Joseph Stickel, J. H. Pyle, Joshua Gallagher and Hosea Gallagher.  The enrollment of pupils in Portersville borough is Common School, 43, high school, 22.  The high school serves both for the borough of Portersville and for Muddy Creek Township. 

As indicated, the main industries of the township have been farming and mining, manufacturing being generally confined to the operating of grist- and saw-mills.  The earliest record of a public grist-mill is in 1831 when David Kennedy built a grist-mill and a fulling-mill on Muddy Creek, this later being followed by a second mill, and in 1867 the third grist-mill in the township was erected by John and Henry Bauder.  This lack of manufacturing interest does not reflect on the enterprise of the good people of Muddy Creek Township, but rather emphasizes their judgment, for just across the line the Slippery Rock mills supplied the entire needs of this section.

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