This, as originally constituted, formed one of the thirteen townships into which Butler county was divided in 1804, by order of the court of quarter sessions. At that time its area included all of the present township of Franklin, as well as portions of Connoquenessing and Worth townships. It was reduced within its present boundaries in 1854. Its name is derived from Muddy creek, which forms its northern boundary and separates it from Worth township.
Although the surface of this township is uneven and rugged, as a rule, it yet abounds in fertile and productive land, and its farmers are thrifty, prosperous, progressive and intelligent. Its mineral resources, consisting of coal, iron ore and a good quality of limestone, are rich and are proving a source of wealth to those engaged in their development. The highest measured point in the township is about 7,000 feet east of Portersville, on the Prospect road. This is 1,375 feet above ocean level. Along the road from Portersville to Muddy creek, as well as in other places, the Freeport upper limestone outcrops, and about 2,700 feet north of the borough, the limestone and coal are found fully thirty feet higher than the outcrop near the cemetery. Ferriferous limestone may be seen in the old quarry on the north bank of Muddy creek, at the iron bridge; in the quarries at SHAW's bridge, and in outcrops in the valley. The rich coal deposits have been exposed by the miners at BAILEY's bank, northwest of Portersville, in a five feet bed; at the gristmill, southwest of the borough, where a bank was opened in 1868; near the mouth of the east branch of Yellow creek, on the WHITE farm; at the head of the east branch on the RALSTON and McCONNELL farms; on the GARVEY, SIGFRIED, WALLACE, WHITE, BARKLEY, MELVIN and MYERS farms, along the west branch; on the MOORE farm, 10,000 feet northeast of Portersville, and on the BURNS and GALLAGHER farms still farther in that direction, coal banks have been successfully worked, and several of them are still sources of paying production.
The first settler of this township, always excepting the Indians, was a negro named CAESAR, presumably a runaway slave, although nothing concerning his antecedents are known. He appears to have come into the township in 1794, and was found occupying a little cabin, in 1796, by Robert STEWART, the first white settler. CAESAR informed Mr. STEWART that he had occupied the cabin two years, had obtained a living by hunting and fishing, and that he claimed the land [p. 601] as a settler, at the same time showing that he was thoroughly posted as to his rights in the premises. As Mr. STEWART had located upon the land, supposing it to be unsettled, he found it necessary to purchase CAESAR's rights, which he did for a small amount. The latter then left the place, but where he went or what became of him is not known. On the land thus acquired by STEWART the village of Stewartsville, now known as Portersville, was located.
The third settler was Thomas BRANDON, to whom STEWART deeded 100 acres of land on condition that he would settle here with his family. This condition was observed in 1796, and in 1803 BRANDON was one of the taxpayers of the county. Thomas CLARKE is said to have been in this township as a resident in 1795, but his home was outside its limits. James CRATTY, with his sister Rachel, and brothers Robert and Thomas, came about 1798, and Henry SHANOR arrived the same year and died here in 1838.
In 1800 David KENNEDY purchased the soldier's claim of Matthew KELLY; Arthur CLEELAND, one of the United Irishman, sought a refuge here from British tyranny, the same year; James WHITE was here in 1800; Marvin CHRISTIE also came in 1800; John MYERS and family arrived in 1804-05; John BOSTON, who afterwards served in the War of 1812, came in 1805; Edward WHITE and family followed his son James in 1809; Thomas CHRISTIE came in 1812; James ENGLISH was here about that time, and also John WIMER; Dr. John COWDEN arrived in 1818; Joseph TEBAY purchased John HAINES' soldier claim, in 1819; Johnson McKNIGHT and Thomas OLIVER purchased lands in 1820; Thomas GARVEY purchased the Jacob PHILLIPS' clearing in 1822, ind Richard McKEE located here in 1824. The McCLYMONDS came in 1831, when the township was dotted over with garden spots and the log cabins of the pioneers began to give way to the modern frame buildings.
SCHOOLS AND TEACHERS
The story of "barring out" in 1821, also tells us that Johnson McKNIGHT, a farmer, was the first teacher. Arriving at the school-house he found the door closed and admission denied. Returning to his cabin, he donned his wife's dress, and representing himself as a woman, appeared before the little school-house. The urchins quickly unbarred the door to admit the lady; but the figure cast off the female dress and appeared, to the astonished little wags, in all his pedagogic fury. He was succeeded by John LEWIS, and other teachers, who carried on the McKNIGHT school down to 1833. On the CHRISTIE farm, George GREER opened a school early in the "Twenties." In 1823 the Concord school-house was erected and in it Charles PHILLIPS wielded the birch. In 1835 the common school law was adopted. In 1836 the FRAZIER, DOUBLE, WHIPPORWILL, ALBERT, KIESTER, WEBB and SNYDER school-houses were erected and two other buildings projected. Matthew McCOLLOUGH built the first common school structure. Rev. R.B. WALKER, John SUPPLE, Johnson McKNIGHT, Joseph McGOWAN and John B. CAMPBELL, were among the first common school teachers, and William HUMPHREY was a well known teacher before the war. The number of school children enumerated in June, 1893, was 239, or 140 males and ninety-nine females. The revenue for school purpses, including $1,226.52 State appropriation, was $3,015.40.
Muddy Creek never gave much attention to manufacturing industries. Down to 1831 there was no mill within the township better than a hand mill, and there is no mention made of even a distillery. The proximity of the Slippery Rock mills and distilleries may account in a measure for the lack of these industries. In 1831-32 David KENNEDY came to remedy all this by erecting a grist mill and a fulling mill on Muddy Creek. The following spring a freshet carried the dam away, and later law proceedings were instituted against him for damages caused by backwater from the dam, so that for some years, subsequent to 1839, the people had to patronize the mill at Slippery Rock. The next enterprise was a grist mill built on the site of the old McCONNELL mill. In 1867 John and Henry BAUDER erected their grist mill. John located here in 1852, but did not become a permanent resident until 1861 or 1862. The mill is a three-story structure, thirty-five by forty feet in dimensions, with engine room, fourteen by thirty-five, and a capacity of thirty barrels of flour a day.
POPULATION AND JUSTICES
The population of the township in 1810 was 395; in 1820, 808; in 1830, 1, 317; in 1840, 1,998; in 1850, after re-subdivision, 1,142; in 1860, 1,094; in 1870, 972; in 1880, 1,001, including Portersville, and in 1890, 785, exclusive of Portersville, which then was credited with 190 inhabitants.
The justices of the peace elected for Muddy Creek township from 1840 to 1894, are named as follows: George KIRKPATRICK, 1840; Robert CRAIG, 1840; David FISHER, 1842 and 1847; Michael STINETORF, 1843; William DEAN, 1848; Charles PHILLIPS, 1851; William H. THOMPSON, 1854; Thomas GARVEY, 1854, 1859, 1878 and 1884; John McCLYMONDS, 1859; Thomas GARVEY, Jr., 1864-72; J.W. FORRESTER, 1867; Samuel HANNA, 1871; James W. McGEARY, 1882 and 1888; J.C. RICKITTS, 1883; Robert MOORE, 1885; W.S. MOORE, 1886 and 1888, and G.W. McGEARY, 1893.