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 from History of Butler County Pennsylvania Illustrated With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers.  Waterman, Watkins & Co., Chicago, 1883.  pages 345-353.

Portersville Borough and

muddy creek township

Portersville Borough 1883


Portersville was laid out in 1928 by Robert Stewart, who is still living at the age of seventy-four years.  He was born in this township in 1808, September 15.  The town was first called Stewartsville, but when application was made for a post office, its name was changed by the department to Portersville in honor of Gov. Porter.  The first settler on the present site of the town of Portersville was Robert S. Stewart, who came in 1796.  Thomas Christy, brother-in-law of Mr, Stewart, came shortly after, and a little later James Stewart and John his brother, also settled.  These, with Robert Stewart, Thomas Brandon, Dr, Cowden and Robert  Craig with their families, constituted the population in 1828.  The first post office was established in the above year.  John Stewart was the first Postmaster, and he held the office for the term of ten years.  The original building is still standing.  Robert Craig succeeded Mr. Stewart, holding the position for at least eight years.  In 1838, the office was moved to a building just opposite the Brenneman Hotel.  In 1845, Portersville Village was incorporated a borough.  The first election was held in a small frame building called the Town Hall. The first Justices of the Peace were James Hall and Robert Stewart.  Mr. Stewart refused to accept his commission, but Mr. Hall served in the capacity for several terms in succession.  The first Constable was William Sharp, and he continued to be elected without any interim for many years.  The School Directors were Samuel Brenneman, James Watson, William Osborne, John Cleeland, John W. Riddle and John W. Stewart.  The present board are Dr. William Wilson, John Neiper, Henry Heberling, William Humphrey, Caleb Covert, Fred Berry.  The first merchant was Robert Craig, who established a general store in 1829, and pursued the merchantile business until his death which was in 1852.  For many years, it is said, he did a very flourishing business.  At the present time there are six stores in operation – two grocery stores, two dry goods, one millinery and one drug store.  The grocery store in the center of the town is kept by Henry Heberling; one on the opposite side is kept by William Williams; two dry goods stores, one millinery store, kept by Maggie Newton.  Mr. Frazier is the proprietor of the drug store.  Besides these stores there are other industries – a carriage and wagon shop, two harness shops, four smith shops and a livery stable.  There are also an Oddfellows Lodge and three churches – United Presbyterian, Presbyterian and Covenanter.


Previous to the year 1854, this township embraced all of what is now Franklin [1], together with portions of Connoquenessing and Worth. But from time [p.346] to time in the past two decades, it has been reduced in size, until it is now as the others, approximately five miles square. Its form is almost a square, the irregularity being its northern boundary or Muddy Creek, from which creek the township takes its name. The surface of Muddy Creek Township is very uneven; some portions of it are even diversified by high hills. In the eastern part, however, it is level and is very appropriately called Pleasant Valley. The mineral resources of this township are abundant, although agriculture is the principal pursuit of its inhabitants. In almost every part, and especially in the western and northern regions, coal is found in considerable quantities and of excellent quality. There are about twenty-five coal banks in the township, all of which furnish abundance of coal for local use. A good quality of limestone and iron ore is also sound. [sic (found)] The people of Muddy Creek Township are hospitable, intelligent and progressive. Improvements of various kinds are generally excellent. Farmers of this part of the county, as well as those in other parts, point with a just pride to their well cultivated broad acres, substantial and even elegant houses, and to their improved live stock. All these desireable changes and improvements come not of themselves, but are the legitimate result of scrupulous care and intelligent and unwearying industry. The herculean labors of those who were the heralds of civilization are being enjoyed by the present generation. To them we are indebted primarily for the removal of the forests and the luxuries of a cultivated soil, and the later tasks of the active throng united with theirs have transformed the once barren wilderness into fertile and prolific fields.

Robert STEWART came from Westmoreland County and settled in 1796 at what is now Portersville on a tract of land of four hundred and fourteen acres, being part of what was denominated the eight tracts which had not been surveyed, and which was known as "depreciation land." When Mr. STEWART located on this land, there was no human being living within fifteen miles, nor a building, except a little log cabin, which he found on the territory upon which he settled. This cabin belonged to a negro who called himself CAESAR, and who declared that he had lived there two years, obtaining his living by hunting and fishing. Mr. STEWART, of course, was surprised to find this dusky being there in solitude, and doubly surprised when he claimed the land which he resided upon and evinced a thorough knowledge of a settler's right. Mr. STEWART bought out CAESAR's right of settlement for a paltry sum, and the sable individual took his departure without explaining anything with reference to his antecedents or his intentions. Shortly after Robert STEWART's settlement, a Mr. Thomas BRANDON came to the same part of the country looking for an eligible place for himself and family. To him Mr. STEWART offered 100 acres if he would bring his family and settle there.

It need scarcely be observed that Mr. BRANDON accepted the offer, and he and his family removed there a few weeks later, thus becoming very early settlers of Muddy Creek Township. Mr. STEWART was born in Westmoreland County, near the Youghiogheny River, in 1771. In 1800, he married Miss Margaret CHRISTY.

Shortly after his permanent location, Mr. STEWART built a large log house, where the BURNSIDE Hotel now stands. It was of hewn logs and stone foundation. The mantel-piece and stones of the building may yet be seen, although many years have elapsed since it was torn down. Elizabeth was their first born. She afterward became Mrs. John TEBAY. She died in 1842. The first few years Mr. STEWART raised corn and potatoes only. The corn he packed to Beaver, receiving salt in return, generally getting one bushel for ten of corn. At that early period, corn was in greater demand than most all other productions of the farm except wheat. Potatoes were taken to Pittsburgh and exchanged for provisions, such as coffee, rice, tea, sugar, etc. The nearest mill was at Harlansburg, and thither would Mr. STEWART repair with his grain and have it converted into flour.

It has been mentioned that Elizabeth was born in 1801; the remaining members of the family were Margaret, afterward Mrs. David FISHER; Sarah, who married John LEVIS; Martha, who became the wife of John FITHIAN; John C.; Robert; Samuel, died at Beaver Falls, July, 1882; Thomas, Jane, Joseph M., Alexander, Joseph and Newton. Of this family, Martha FITHIAN and Thomas, in Iowa, and Robert, of Portersville, still survive. The father of these children died in 1851. Robert STEWART, son of Robert STEWART, deceased, married Jane GARDNER in 1830.

Thomas HUMPHREY was a native of Ireland, county of Tyrone. He settled in this township in 1798. Previously to locating here, however, he made his home in Greensburg, or near that place, for several years, remaining among friends who emigrated to America from the North of Ireland. While in Greensburg, he met Miss Ruth COULTER, whom he married. They removed to this township to find for themselves a desirable home. There was not at that time very much, indeed, to attract a young married couple to the then unexplored and immense wilderness, in whose forest recesses the invading foot of the white settler was almost unknown. Yet they assumed life's stern duties with strong hands and light hearts, fortified with the thought that industry is the [p.347] handmaid of success, and that perseverance will ultimately bring its reward, though it might be long deferred. They lived happily and prosperously together for many years, finding comfort and consolation in each other's society, and pleasure and gratification in providing for themselves and the growing wants of their family. A sad bereavement happened to the family, however, in 1839, when the husband and father was called away by death. The members of the family were Jane, now widow of Thomas EMORY, living with her son in Franklin, Penn.; James, who went to the Southwest in 1841 or 1842, and is now supposed to be dead (he was a carpenter by occupation, and worked for some time on the State house in Texas, shortly after it was admitted into the Union); William, who died in 1864, aged sixty-three; he was the father of William HUMPHREY, Esq., who now resides at Portersville, and in [sic (is)] engaged in the mercantile business. Besides him, there were five other brothers and three sisters, viz.: Angeline, now Mrs. RUTTER, living near Newcastle.; James; Mary Jane, now Mrs. David BENNET, living in Venango County, near Wesleyville; John; William; George W., living in Texas; David and Thomas, both deceased. In early life, William followed the profession of teaching. Abandoning this business after pursuing it for fourteen years, he embarked in the mercantile business in 1868, with James NEWTON. At the end of four years, he sold out to S. H. BAILEY. Five years later, he entered into partnership with Peter SCHEIDEMANTLE, keeping a general store in a room one door south of the present building, which was erected in 1876.

David KENNEDY came from Philadelphia soon after 1800, and settled along Yellow Creek. His son David soon after settled on a farm in the northwestern portion of the township and built a saw-mill, grist-mill, and fulling-mill thereon, and operated them until 1840, as near as can be ascertained from other chronological facts. This was considered quite an enterprise at that time, and persons came to these mills from near and far.

John MYERS and family came from Virginia previous to 1800, and settled in this township. The descendents of this family are still numerous in the neighborhood. The children of John MYERS, Sr., were Solomon, John, Anna (BEIGHLE), Samuel, George, David and Daniel. John, a son of Solomon, is an old resident of Lancaster Township, where he has resided fifty-three years, and others of the grandchildren of the first John MYERS are now aged people. The family is of German descent.

It was the custom in those early days for the women to spin and weave their wool, and take it to the fulling mill where it was fulled, dyed and dressed preparatory to be manufactured into clothing for the men, which was also done by the industrious women of that time. These mills were operated by water power, the dam to which caused a large amount of land to be inundated, and after a time, as land became more valuable, property owners objected to the flooding of their land, and after some litigation Mr. KENNEDY was compelled to tear down his dam, and, steam-power not then being in vogue, the mills were necessarily abandoned; the necessity for them have in a measure passed away.

But few now living in the township remember that such mills ever existed, and played such an important part in the early settlement and development of the township and surrounding country.

Joseph WHITE was another Westmoreland man, who pitched his tent within the boundaries of the township as early as 1809. He purchased a tract of land of 200 acres from one Mrs. ELLIOTT. Very little of it was cleared, and as a necessary consequence, much labor had to be expended upon it before it was suitable for cultivation. Joseph WHITE married Sarah CRATTY, of this township. Their son Charles lives upon the old farm.

During the rebellion in Ireland, which took place about 1798, Matthew MCCULLOUGH emigrated from the land of the Shamrock to American soil. He located first in Cumberland County; remaining there five years, he removed to this township, which was then very extensive, about the year 1803. He was a stonemason by trade, having learned the business in Cumberland County. He pursued the occupation as journeyman for two years previous to his coming to this township, and after settling here he followed it industriously for many years in connection with farming. He assisted in building the old jail in Butler, working for John NEGLEY, who was the contractor.

The family of Mr. MCCULLOUGH consisted of eight children - seven boys and one girl. Thomas, the third son, is living on a farm purchased from Robert CRAIG. He married Eleanor A. MCCULLOUGH, from Beaver County, in 1837. After purchasing his farm, Mr. MCCULLOUGH was somewhat distressed as to how he should pay for it, as money in those days was very scarce. He worked industriously, however, for ten years, at bricklaying and masonry during the summer, and in winter at shoe-making, and by perseverance and economy he was able to say in a year or so that he owned his farm absolutely. Mr. MCCULLOUGH had a great deal of mechanical genius, and found it not a difficult matter to work at various trades. He was a carpenter, as well as bricklayer and mason, and, in 1836, when the public school system came into operation , he built the first schoolhouse in the township, and it may be said with credit to him that he not only [p.348] erected schoolhouses, but was an ardent friend of education. He had a family of fifteen children, eleven of whom still live. The oldest child, Benjamin, was killed by being struck by the main belt of a saw-mill, in this township, in 1880; Martha, married Joseph ALLEN; Matthew, married Maggie TEBAY; Ellie, is now Mrs. W. H. GALLAHER; Louisa, is the wife of H.H. GALLAHER, lately Register and Recorder of this county; Mary, married R.A. KISKADDEN and is living in Freeport, Penn.; James P., resides in Newcastle; Lizzie, Maggie, William, Fellicia and Thomas are at home.

Joseph TEBAY settled in this township in 1819; he was a native of England, and emigrated to this country with his father, mother and three brothers. They purchased a tract of land which originally was owned by one John HAINES, granted to him by the United States in 1798 for services rendered in the American Army during the Revolutionary war. This farm consisted of one hundred acres, and lay in the northwestern part of the township; his brothers, William, Isaac and Robert, also purchased farms in this township and lived upon them until they were old men. In 1829, Mr. Joseph TEBAY married Jane C. MCKEE, and the result of this union was seven children, six of whom are yet living -- Joseph TEBAY died in 1877; William D., is residing on the old homestead where the State Militia Company used to assemble the first Monday in May every year, until the militia law was repealed. The remaining members of the family are Catherine, Matilda, Eliza, Margaret and James H. TEBAY. William married Margaret MCGOWAN, a very estimable lady, in 1873; Catharine is now Mrs. John DOUTHETT, and in 1856 removed to California, where he died in 1864; Matilda married James JONES and is living in Mercer, Penn.; Eliza, now Mrs. Henry A. BLACK, lives with her husband in Page County, Iowa; Margaret, now Mrs. J. MCCULLOUGH, lives in the township; James H., who was Prothonotary of the county in 1875, married Annie MCCULLOUGH and lives in Butler, Penn.

The first wagon used in the township was brought by the TEBAY family from over the mountains; it was hauled around among the inhabitants far and near to be seen and admired.

Thomas GARVIN came to Muddy Creek Township from Westmoreland in the year 1822; his father was killed by the Indians in 1795. The circumstances were as follows: He was carrying provisions from what is now Allegheny County to his family who were at the block-house near Greensburg. While driving his team quietly along about half way between his starting point and his destination, several of the savages rushed out of a clump of bushes where they had been lying in ambush, and shot him down without a moment's warning. Having no home after his father's sad death, he went to Allegheny County, where he worked for some time as a ship carpenter near Pittsburgh. He purchased his farm in this township from Jacob PHILIPS. In 1818, he married Nancy PHILIPS, a daughter of the above-mentioned gentleman. Eight children were born to them, but only four of the family are living to-day -- three in various parts of this county, and one in Ohio. Thomas GARVIN resides one mile west of Prospect on a farm purchased from the heirs of Margaret FERGUSON, widow of Hugh FERGUSON. Mr. GARVIN has four daughters married -- Agnes is now Mrs. James FORRESTER; Minerva is Mrs. George BEIGHLEY; Lovina is the wife of J. C. FISHER; Dorcas married Lewis BOLTON; Emma and Mary reside at home with their parents.

James MCCLYMONDS and family, consisting of his wife and nine children, removed to this township from Allegheny County in 1831. They purchased a farm of 400 acres from John PEARSON, of Mercer. They brought with them some sheep and milch cows. Their first work was to erect a dwelling house fit for habitation as there was only a small hut on the farm, insufficient for the family in every respect. A double log barn stood on the place answering their needs for the first year.

Thus being partially equipped, as well as possible under the circumstances, they entered upon the stern and urgent duties of their present life in earnest, firmly determined to, erelong, transform the ungainly-looking place to a cheerful and attractive home. They took their grain to be ground into flour to CARUTHER's mill on Slippery Rock Creek, carrying it there on pack saddles, according to the usual custom of that day. Shortly after, a mill was erected on Muddy Creek by David KENNEDY; this was much more convenient, but it was operated only a short time when the dam gave way and the mill was abandoned. They were then compelled to return to Slippery Rock, where they went regularly until a mill was built on the site where MCCONNELL's mill now stands, just one half mile over the Butler County line. The fall prior to his locating here, Mr. MCCLYMONDS came out and planted fruit trees on the farm, many of which are still standing, possessing all their usual vitality, and bearing fruit.

[p.348a sketches and biography of Mr. and Mrs. James MCCLYMONDS]

The first death which occurred in this family was that of their son, Joseph, which occurred in 1833. John is living on a farm in the northeastern portion of the township. His wife was Martha GLENN. In 1844, he removed to Worth, where he engaged in the mercantile business. His store was known as a [p.349] branch of William S. BOYD's store in Butler. James married Lydia VANCE in 1843, and established himself on a farm of eighty-seven and a half acres, given to him by his father. In the fall of 1845, he purchased his brother John's interest in the homestead of eighty-seven and a half acres, and also his brother William's of 106 acres. Mr. John MCCLYMONDS has ten living children grown to manhood and womanhood. Mrs. Maria GLENN, living in Portersville, is the oldest of the family. James, who is the second, lives on part of his father's farm. Milton is a teacher. William J. is living in Almeda County, Cal. Both he and his wife are there engaged in teaching. Samuel E. is practicing medicine in Portersville. He married Annie E. GLENN. Willis is the next in order of birth. Horace is reading medicine with Dr. A. G. THOMAS, of Freeport. Maggie, now Mrs. WATTERS, lives near Butler. Ira and Addison are living at home on the farm. The grandfather of these children died in 1852, aged sixty-five years; their grandmother, in 1850, also aged sixty-five years.

David CLEELAND was born in this county, and after remaining with his father upon the farm until his twenty-first year, he purchased a farm in this township, and began life for himself in 1833. His father was a native of Ireland. Mr. CLEELAND married Mary M. MCCLYMONDS, sister of John and James MCCLYMONDS, of this township, and of Samuel of Butler. Nine children were born to them, five of whom are living. James enlisted in 1861, under ----, Company D, Eleventh Reserves, Pennsylvania Volunteers, and served three years. Addison was a member of Company C, One Hundredth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. After serving faithfully as a soldier for one year, he died near Falmouth River, Virginia, of pneumonia, induced by exposure while at his post of duty. William J. belonged to Capt. MCCOOMBS' company, of Newcastle. He enlisted for three months, and at the expiration of that time he re-enlisted for a year. Mr. David CLEELAND died in 1859. Thomas J. CLEELAND has charge of the old farm.

William WILLIAMS came from Philadelphia in 1834. The means of travel was by stage. Arriving at Pittsburgh on Saturday night, he took the stagecoach the following day, intending to land at Portersville; but after he had ridden ten or eleven miles, he discovered that he was on the road to Butler, and that he had, by mistake, taken the wrong coach. He arrived in Butler on Sabbath evening and stopped at the BEATTY House. He felt rather disconsolate because his funds were growing noticeably small. Monday morning came, and when he called for his bill he was astonished to find that it was only 62 1/2 cents. Mr. BEATTY had divined his real predicament, and took pleasure in being lenient with him. Mr. WILLIAMS relates this experience with a great deal of zest. He lived in this township, with his brother Jacob, for two years, when he established a cabinet shop in Portersville in 1836, working at his occupation until two years since. At present he has a furniture store, confectionery and tobacco store, which he is capable of superintending.

His wife was Hannah FITHIAN. They were married by Rev. Reid BRACKEN, in 1836. Mr. WILLIAMS has filled several borough offices with entire satisfaction to the people. He was Constable when the murder of TEEPLE and CUNNIGNHAM took place in Portersville, and it was his province to bring the guilty party to justice. Mr. WILLIAMS was School Director for thirteen years; was Justice of the Peace eight years, and was Postmaster eight years.


Mr. James NEWTON came to Portersville in 1842, and settled on a small tract of land purchased form Thomas STEWART. Previous to locating here, he had been engaged in the mercantile business in an adjoining county. In 1845, he and John HALL opened a general store near BRENNEMAN's Hotel, and they did a flourishing trade. Mr. NEWTON was always justly regarded as a Christian gentleman, and a conscientious business man. He recognized as a basis of every pursuit the time-honored maxim that "honesty is the best policy." He held the office of Postmaster for four terms, and was selected by the people to other trusts which he did not accept. Mrs. NEWTON was Mary HALL, sister of John HALL, who was generally known throughout the county. Her husband died July 20, 1882.

John BAUDER resided in Ross Township, Allegheny County, previous to his coming here. In 1852, he located in this township and remained until 1859, when he took a trip to California. He worked in the mines for two years, and then returned to this township and purchased ninety acres of land from his father. Subsequently, additions were made to it until his farm now numbers 140 acres. A fine, large flouring mill is located on the farm, which is operated by Henry and Samuel BAUDER.

William A. GALLAHER was born in Muddy Creek Township, on the farm on which his widow, Mrs. Martha A., now resides. He obtained his farm from his father in 1856, and he diligently adhered to the honorable and independent occupation of tilling the soil and causing it to bring forth its treasures, until the dark days of the rebellion, when he laid aside the implements of toil. While in the army, he contracted typhoid fever, from which he died in 1863. He belonged to Company G, One Hundred and [p.350] Thirty-fourth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, enlisting in 1862 under Capt. Alfred RIDDLE. He was in the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. Mrs. GALLAHER's maiden name was Martha PISOR, born and reared in Worth Township.

In 1857, George BARKLEY, who was a native of Germany, located on a farm known originally as the MCCULLOUGH farm, consisting of 130 acres. The consideration paid by Mr. BARKLEY was $2,700. He farmed on this place until the year 1878, when his death occurred.

James W. MCGEARY, who became a resident of this township in 1865, is a carriage and wagon maker by trade, and before locating here prosecuted his business in Freeport, Brady's Bend, Pittsburgh, New Brighton, and in certain portions of Ohio. Mr. MCGEARY, being a man of intelligence and good judgment, has been called upon frequently to fill the offices of Justice of the Peace, School Director, Supervisor, and Overseer of the Poor.

The BRENNEMAN Hotel was purchased by David BRENNEMAN in 1868, and conducted by him until his death, which occurred in 1880. Before he came to this place to assume the role of landlord, he with his family resided on a 200-acre farm in Lawrence County, which the sons, Sylvester and Alfred, now cultivate.

The BRENNEMAN House was formerly known as the OLIVER House and was purchased from the latter by David BRENNEMAN. In 1874, the house was burned down, and a larger and more commodious one was erected in its place by Mr. BRENNEMAN.

Samuel T. OKESON came from Mercer County. In 1875, he identified himself with the interests of Portersville, establishing himself in the undertaking and furniture industry. The people recognized in him principle, honesty and intelligence, and have intrusted [sic] him with important duties from time to time of a public nature. Mr. OKESON is regarded as an upright and honorable citizen.

In the year 1877, Mr. J. C. RICKETTS purchased a farm of forty-seven acres, from Mr. David WILSON. Mrs. RICKETTS is the daughter of William MCCLYMONDS.

John ROTH located in this township in 1878. His father is Lewis ROTH, of Prospect. Mr. ROTH read law with Judge MCCANDLESS, of Butler, and was admitted to practice in 1875. For two years he prosecuted his profession in Butler, and later went to Indiana, and was elected District Attorney in Jay County.


1840, George KIRKPATRICK; 1840, Robert CRAIG; 1842, David FISHER; 1843, Michael STINEDORF; 1847, David FISHER; 1848 William DEAN; 1851, Charles PHILLIPS; 1854, William H. THOMPSON; 1854 Thomas GARVEY; 1859, John MCCLYMONDS; 1859, Thomas GARVEY; 1864, Thomas GARVEY, Jr.; 1867, J. W. FORRESTER; 1871, Samuel HANNA; 1872, Thomas GARVEY, Jr.; 1878, Thomas GARVEY; 1882, James W. MCGEARY.

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