History of Bullskin Township
This is a general history of Bullskin Township starting from its beginning in 1784 to the present day township as we know it. It is nearly impossible to give a complete history or lists of inhabitants, officers, or businesses of the original township. The records from that time being very meagerly kept and in some instances totally missing, but we will try to do our best to bring to light the history and stories as best as we can.
Bullskin Township was formed in March 1784. It embraced within its limits the present day townships of Saltlick, Connellsville, Springfield, and part of Stewart. Description: The township beginning at the Broad Ford on the Youghiogheny River (Connellsville); thence by the line of Tyrone Township to the crossing of Jacobs Creek; thence up Jacobs Creek to Cherry's Mill (Laurelville); thence by road to Jones' Mills to the line of Bedford County (Somerset County was still part of Bedford County at that time); thence by the same to the Youghiogheny River and Falls (Ohiopyle); thence down the river to the place of the beginning. This is to be known as Bullskin Township.
In December 1797 all the part of Bullskin Township lying east of the crest of Chestnut Ridge was formed into Saltlick Township and in October 1822 the southern part of the remaining township was carved off to make the Township of Connellsville.
How did Bullskin Township get its name? As told by the early settlers, there was an old pioneer from the mountains and he was to have killed an animal of the bovine species (a wild bull) of such extraordinary size that its skin would have stretched across the entire area. That is how our township got its name.
In 1784 William Boyd, John Meason, and George Lamb were the first Justices of the Peace. Nathan Young was the Constable, David Lindsay and Abraham Gardner were the Overseers of the Poor, and Henry White and Patrick Murphy were the Road Supervisors. In 2006 the Township Supervisors consists of Walter Wiltrout, Tom Keefer, Bill Geary, and Jeff Wadsworth as Office Clerk.
In 1830 the township population was 1,231. In 1850 it had increased to 2,731. Today in 2006 the approximate population of the township is 8,000.
In 1847 the people of the township was asked to vote on the "Liquor Question". 99 voters declared themselves in favor of permitting its sales within the township while only 13 were opposed. In 1873 the "Liquor Question" came up again for vote. It was shown only 32 voting in favor of the license while 130 opposed.
The celebrated "Braddock Road" runs along the western bounds of the township. On the night of July 1, 1755 - General Edward Braddock and his troops camped near the John Truxell Farm (Owned today by the Junick Family). It is located across the road from the breast of the Green Lick Reservoir. The only way it was identified as the correct spot is that it was stated that the Truxell Farm had a large Stone House and a Stone Barn. The Stone Barn still exists on the Junick Farm. Braddock's camp was known as "The Great Swamp Camp". The swamp which extended for a considerable distance on both sides of Jacob's Creek had to be made passable. It was stated that they had to build a "corduroy" road to advance over the swamp. When the army resumed their march on July 2, 1755 they proceeded on a path through the swamp crossing Green Lick Run through what is now Hammondville and crossing Jacobs Creek.
In 1784 the courts were petitioned for a road from Cherry's Mills (Laurelville) to Uniontown (present day Route 982). In 1786 Zachariah Connell petitioned the courts for a road from Cherry's Mills (Laurelville) to Jones' Mills on the Laurel Hill. This was originally an Indian Path known as the Glades Path and was barely wide enough for one wagon. When the road was completed it was widened to 30 feet across. It was named the Somerset - Mount Pleasant Pike. Present day Route 31 is still going through major changes with work beginning April 2006 to widen 3 mile hill to four lanes. Wonder what the Pioneers would think of this! Many roads were built in the township during this early time. In general, the roads were said to have been well ordered and quite passable and the streams being well bridged. Today the township maintains approximately 80 miles of roads.
Since 1871 the township has had railway communication. The South West Pennsylvania Railroad was built through the township giving speedy access to Pittsburgh and the Eastern cities. The main line in Bullskin is about 5 miles with stations at Pennsville and Moyer. In the present day, Conrail operates on the old SW PA tracks, and passengers have to catch their "Amtrack" train in Greensburg. Another railroad was one running up the Greenlick Valley known as the Green Lick Valley Narrow Gauge Railroad. It ran from Scottdale to the ore mine along the Chestnut Ridge. After the Mount Vernon Furnace was blown out in 1830 the ore mines were then being mined by the Charlotte Furnace Company of Scottdale. Evidence of where the railroad ran is still visible from Route 982.
Villages located within the township are: Bear Rocks, Breakneck, Crossroads, Hammondville, Laurelville (also claimed by Mount Pleasant Township), McClure, Moyer, Pennsville, Pleasant Valley, Prittstown, and Wooddale. Laurelville and Pennsville being the oldest villages in the township.
Laurelville is one of the prettiest places in the township and was described in the early days as "A town situated on Jacobs Creek at the western base of Chestnut Ridge." A favorite stopping place for travelers along the Somerset - Mount Pleasant Pike. As early as 1785 a house of entertainment (tavern) was one of the earliest buildings along with a Toll House. It was located at the Jacob Lobingier House. These taverns were more in the nature of "Travelers Inns". (This stone house is still standing among thick pine trees just past the intersection at the bottom of 3 mile hill). Laurelville also had a very fine Grist Mill, a Saw Mill, and a Tannery. A Country Store was owned and operated by the Keim Brothers. Laurelville Post Office was established early on and Jacob Lobingier was the first Postmaster.
Pennsville is located on the Mount Pleasant Road. It had a railroad station, a very fine school, two churches, several stores, and about two dozen houses. Lots were sold off from the Cochran and Strickler Farms. Houses were built in the early 1800's. The Pennsville Post Office was established soon after and was first kept by David Shallenberger. The first public Tavern and Inn was kept by Alexander Frazier. At the same time the stage ran through Pennsville and the offices of the stage were kept at The Frazier Tavern. Dr. Apollos Lohr was the first regular physician to locate in Bullskin. He opened up his office in Pennsville in 1850.
Country Stores were scattered through out the township. Buying, Selling, and Trading were the norm for that time period. Most people were self sufficient and only needed to visit the general stores on occasion.
. . . . . . . More To Come