Buffington township was separated from Pine township in 1867, and was named in honor of Judge Joseph Buffington. The first settlers were Joseph McCartney, on the place now occupied by Harry Stephens; Michael Campbell, where Mrs. Catherine Cameron now lives; John McPherson; John Stewart, where John Rodkey lives; Charles Stewart, on the present property of William Auker; Thomas Bracken; William Clark, who lived not far from Dilltown; and Matthew Dill.
Very familiar names are: Graham, Duncan, Mardis, Cameron, Altimus, McFeeters, Stephens, Schultz, Bennett, Grow, Strong, Dearmin, Lemmon, Reaver, Stiles, Helman, Conrad and Young. The Campbells, McPhersons and Stewarts were soldiers in the army of Lord Cornwallis in the Revolutionary war. They were natives of Scotland, and after the cessation f hostilities wended their way to what is now Buffington township.
There was a blockhouse or fort on the Joseph. McCartney farm near where the East Union United Presbyterian church now stands.
The special election after the organization of the township was held in August 16, 1867, in a log house that stood on the James Mc Kee farm, and the following were elected: Justice of the peace, Maj. James Stewart; constable, Joseph Mardis, of Mexican war fame; school directors, James Duncan, Nicholas Altemus, John Weaver, William Conrad, J. T. Bracken and Jacob Shultz; assessor, James Stewart, Jr.; assistant assessors, Adam George and William Young; supervisors, James Grow and William R. Doak; auditors, William Wachob and J. T. Bracken; overseers of the poor, George Wilson and Jacob Mardis.
Dilltown was laid out in 1850 by William Stephens and James C. Dill, a civil engineer, for whom the town was named. The town is located on the Williams Stephens farm, and was at one time called Franklin. The Williams Stephens sawmill was erected in 1840, Jacob Gamble being the millwright. His gristmill was built in 1843, by Mr. Gable also. In Dilltown there are at present two general stores, one managed by George M. Stephens, who is the postmaster; and the other by Harry Dill.
Blacklick furnace was built in 1845 by David Stewart, of Cambria county, but has not been in operation for forty years. All traces of the furnace are gone. At one time it was a place of special interest, when the digging for ore and the furnace were in full blast. The old ore banks from which the ore was taken may still be seen in this part. For many years there has been a store at this place. It was conducted by William Wilson, Thompson Clark, in later years by Morris Buterbaugh, and now by J. M. Mack. The first postoffice, called Buffington, was located in Mr. Buterbaugh’s store for several years, but was afterwards taken across Blacklick creek, where it still remains, and the name changed to Wheatfield.
The Schreckengost mills (now owned by John Ewing), which were called Stumpf’s mills, were for many years known as Kellar ‘s mills. The gristmill was built by Christian Kellar, Jr., in 1838, on Laurel run, a tributary of Yellow creek, and at the corner of four townships as now divided, viz., Pine, Buffington, Brushvalley and Cherryhill. Mr. Kellar built a sawmill prior to building the gristmill. He owned and managed the property until his death, after which the heirs sold it, in 1879, to John R. Stumpf, who after wards sold it to Schreckengost, and he sold it to John Ewing. The capacity of the grist mill in a good stage of water was about thirty bushels of wheat per day.
The “Old Factory” on Yellow creek, which was operated by John Dick and others, was well patronized by the people in that section. It had a carding machine for preparing wool made cloth, suits, etc., and a loom for weaving carpet. This factory was in use for many years. Just east of the factory, on the same creek, the Misener gristmill was located. This was one of the oldest mills in the county and was run by Samuel Misener for many years. After his death it was operated by David Bonner.
The making of shooks was for some time an important industry in
the township. Dilltown was the important center. This, together with the
digging of limestone and making of ties, which were hauled to Ebensburg and
Nineveh (Seward), furnished the chief occupation through the winter months.
The coal has not been developed to any great extent. The coal town of Wehrum was started in 1901 and has had rather a flourishing history. At one time a national bank was in operation, but the works having shut down caused a financial disturbance and the bank was closed. The town is on better footing now and the mines are working regularly. There is a large modern hotel, as well as a company store, in the town.
There is another opening of coal at No. 3 Mines, about three miles from Wehrum. The Vintondale Lumber Company has a large lumber yard at Rexis.
Dilltown was at one time the only town and post office within the limits of the town ship. Now, near the center of the township is Croft post office, northeast of this the Blaides post office, and a post office at Wehrum. There are two rural routes, one from Vintondale, and the other from Dilltown. For many years the farmers in the northern part of the township got their mail at Strongstown and Nolo, post offices in Pine township, and usually went for their mail but once a week, on Saturday.
William Stephens, who lived at Dilltown, used to tell of walking to Mechanicsburg to school, a distance of five miles. The first schoolhouse in the township of which there is any record was built on the farm now owned by Dickson Tomb, across the road from the old camp-meeting ground. Rev. William Bracken, a local Methodist preacher, and father of Mrs. Washington Tomb, taught in this school. He was a very strict teacher, and the boys were treated to a whipping once around every day, which same treatment was administered at home by the fathers of the boys.
There was a schoolhouse on the Matthew Dill farm, about a half mile between the present Dilltown and the Mechanicsburg road. It was in this schoolhouse that Dr. John Ha ris, president of Bucknell University, received his first school education. Forty years ago there were seven schools in the township, but for many years only six, the Graham school, of district No. 4, being abandoned. When the coal was opened at No. 3 Mines and Wehrum, one school was established at Rexis, and a four-room building was erected at Wehrum. Two years ago the directors established a new district from the Duncan and Grow districts, and located a schoolhouse near William Bracken’s, one mile west of the Duncan Red Mill. There have been but two or three select schools in the township. For several years a select school was conducted at Duncan school house, taught by John Tawny, Hattie Davis, Augusta Seaton and J. A. Dill. Most of the teachers attended select schools at Strongstown, Armagh, Mechanicsburg and Greenville.
The people of the township have just reason to be proud of the professional men that were educated in their public schools. The present judge of Cambria county, M. B. Stephens, and his brother John, a prominent attorney in Johnstown, were pupils of the Dilltown school. Other pupils of this school were T. S. Bracken, who graduated at the Indiana normal school and afterwards from Bucknell University, and taught in the select schools of Indiana county, was principal of the school at Derry, Pa., and is now principal of the township high school at Perryopolis, Fayette county; and his sister, Carrie Bracken, who graduated March 6, 1913, at the State Normal University of Greeley, Colo.
M. B. Schultz, a successful physician of Johnstown, Cambria county, was a pupil of the Grow school district. J. C. Duncan, a successful dentist of Lockport, N. Y., who has also practiced in Johnstown, Pa., and Cleve land, Ohio; Charles Altimus, a dentist of Johnstown; Benjamin Altimus, a dentist of Scottdale, Pa., Edward Davis, dentist of Yonkers, N. Y.; Harry Graham, and William Hanna, dentists, both deceased, were all pupils of the Duncan district.
Dr. John Lowman (grandfather of Dr. John Lowman, of Johnstown, Pa.), who was raised in the “Lowman Hollow,” Dr. Jasper Mardis, a successful physician, who on ac count of ill health has ceased to practice, and his brother Frank, who is now a successful dentist of Johnstown; John H. Wachob, who held responsible positions in the schools of Indiana and Johnstown; J. T. Stewart, who graduated in 1888 with J. H. Wachob at the Indiana State normal school and was superintendent of the schools of Indiana county for nine years; and C. B. Stewart, who graduated at the State normal school of Greeley, Cob., and is now principal of the township high school at Akron, Colo., were all pupils in the Barkley school district.
In the Dodson district, John and Scott Mardis, brothers, became successful dentists. Hetrick Bonner, a successful attorney of Pitts burg, was a pupil of the Red Bank school.
The personnel of the township has changed to a marked degree in the last few years. The greater part of the old citizens have died or moved away. Among the oldest citizens that now remain are: Benjamin Gilhousen, Mrs. Samuel Schultz, Mrs. William Conrad, Mrs. Dan Conrad, Mrs. William Stephens(mother of Judge Stephens), Mrs. Samuel Mardis, David Grow, John Stiles, Dennis Petticord, Milton and Adam Hoffman and Emmanuel Dearmin.
The churches in the township are: The Baptist Church of Dilltown, East Union United Presbyterian Church, United Evangelical Church, the M. B. Church near Black- lick furnace, the Union Church (now Methodist Episcopal Church) at Wehrum, and the Orthodox Church. The cemeteries are McCartney, Blacklick and Orthodox.
There are a number of valuable farms in the township. The most progressive farmers have limed the land and are raising good crops of hay, wheat, corn, rye, oats, buck wheat and potatoes. At least ten or twelve of the farmers have purchased chopping mills that are run by gasoline engines.
At one time the township was well timbered with hemlock, pine, oak, chestnut, walnut, and other timber common to that region. There are still several good tracts of timber within the township which are now being cut.
The assessor’s book for 1913 shows the following number of acres of cleared land, 7,789; timberland, 9,487; taxables, 429; valuation of taxable real estate, $339,354; number and value of horses assessed, 195 -$5,730; number and value of cows assessed, 195 - $1,950; cost of assessment for 1913, $44.18; money at interest, $17,661.11.
The following is an exact copy (spelling, composition, etc.), of an apprentice’s agreement in 1803:
This Indenture made this Nineteenth Day of February A. D. one thousand eighteen hundred and three Witnesseth that Matthew Dill by and with the consent of his Father Matthew Dill—Testified by his witnessing these presents hath Voluntary and of his own free will and accord put himself Apprentice unto Thomas McCartney of Wheatfield Township Westmoreland County State of Pennsylvania with him to dwell after the manner of an Apprentice for and during the term of three full years Commenced the first of January eighteen hundred and three in all which time Apprentice of his master—Faithfully shall serve his secrets keep his lawful Commands everywhere gladly obey he shall not absent himself Day nor Night from his Masters’ Service without leave but in all things Demean himself as a good and faithful Apprentice ought to do in consideration of which his master shall teach or Cause him to be taught the art mistery and trade of a Spinning Wheelwright and Chairmaking to the best of his skill and judgment such as he now practiseth to Furnish his Apprentice in Sufficient diet Lodging and Aprel during his term and at the end thereof to give him a Good and Compleat Suit of Cloathing a fur hat Broadcloath Coat a fashionable Jacket and Breeches Shirt and Cotten Stocking New Shoes and Bandanna handkerchief and a Suit of every day Cloathing in testimony whereof Both parties have hereunto set their hands and afixed their seals the day and year above written.
MATTHEW DILL SENIOR.
MATTHEW DILL JUN