Boylan, William Thompson
William T. Boylan was born in Deer Creek Township, Mercer County on July 8, 1817 and spent most of his life on the farm where he was born. Wiliam died October 7, 1898 and was buried at Bell (West Deer Creek) Cemetery in Mercer County, PA.
He married Jane Hart who lived on a farm adjacent to the Boylan farm on February 18, 1841. Jane, born on April 11, 1824, was the daughter of James Edward and Amelia Shaffer Hart. She died November 7, 1900. Both William and Jane are buried in Bell (West Deer Creek) Cemetery, Mercer County.
William and Jane had 10 children: Amelia died at age five, James never married and died at age thirty-five, Caleb or Birt, as he was called, had one adopted son. The others all married and had families.
Aaron Boylan 3rd, his father gave a section of the original family farm to his two sons who had remained in the area: William T. Boylan and Nelson Boylan.
William had a reputation for being very industrious; described as "too proud" or stubborn to tell a lie. His aggressive, outspoken, and stubborn nature got him into "hot water" frequently at home. This culminated in an argument with his father after which Bill left home for Erie County where he worked for one of his uncles for a spell. Following this, he returned to Mercer County and worked for a linseed oil mill.
He was a prominent farmer and writer of some note; wrote many articles (refer to extract below) for the Cochranton Times on farming and politics and local history. WT was also a bank director and was active in politics and in church. Family worship and Bible reading were an important part of daily life.
Wiliam died October 7, 1898; Jane died November 7, 1900. They were buried in Bell (West Deer Creek) Cemetery, Mercer County, PA.
Extracts From Pioneer Days In Deer Creek, Pennsylvania
Pulished in Cochranton Times by Wm. T. Boylan (1817-1898)
"I propose to give your reader some reminiscences of the early settlement of Deer-Creek township, Mercer County, and West Fairfield township, Crawford County. This territory originally belonged to Chester County, one of the original in the first settlement of the province, then to Lancaster, organized May 10, 1729; then to Cumberland, organized January 27, 1750; then to Bedford, organized March 9, 1771, then to westmoreland, organized February 26, 1773; they to Allegheny, organized Sept. 24, 1788; then to Mercer and Crawford, organized March 12, 1800.
"The first settlements in these townships were in 1793, and a very few settled along French Creek and Conneaut, in Crawford County, and fewer still on Sandy Creek, in Mercer County. I think James Herrington was the first settler in Fairfield township. He settled at the mouth of Conneaut, on French Creek, and was a surveyor by occupation. The first settler in Sandy Creek township, which then included Deer Creek, was Martin Carringer. He settled on Sandy Creek in 1793. Benj. Stokely came and settled near where Mercer now stands, and surveyed the State land of what now constitutes Mercer and Crawford Counties, and it was opened for settlement, and the State making the following conditions for settlement: Any person, male or female, could settle on any one hundred acre tract not already taken up, and by clearing three acres of land and building a cabin fit for the habitation of man and paying the State twenty cents an acre, could get a patent from the State. After this the settlers began to come, and nearly all the State land along French Creek, Conneaut, and Sandy Creek was taken in a few years.
"In 1799, my grandfather, Aaron Boylan, and David Caldwell, of Redstone, Fayette County, fitted up a canoe with a supply of provisions and started up the Allegheny, poling their canoe to the mouth of French Creek and then up that stream to the mouth of Conneaut Creek. There they found James Herrington, a surveyor, mention above. He, being somewhat acquainted with the country, put them on a line running west from his place, directing them to follow that until they came to a certain numbered corner (the lots all being numbered). Then turn south and continue on until they came to another certain numbered corner, and there they would find on both sides of the line vacant claims. That corner was on what now is the line between Mercer and Crawford Counties. After following the line a hundred rods or more, Boylan espied a spring of water on the east side of the line. He went to it and sticking his staff into the ground, said to his friend, "Dave, I'll take this lot." They then went over the tract west of the line and came to another spring, and Caldwell took that tract. They then went to work and put up cabins on each of their lots of such logs or poles as they could handle, and bushwacked around until their provisions were exhausted, and went back to get a new supply.
"When Boylan came back to his cabin he found a man named Davis in possession of it, who claimed a squatter sovereign's right. Boylan asked what he meant, and Davis said he had peaceable ossession of the cabin and land, and was going to hold them. Boylan asked him if he might come in and warm, it being late in the fall. Davis said he might if he would have no trouble. He went in, and there being a good supply of dry wood, Boylan began to put it on the fire, until it blazed up to the roof. He said to Davis, "Your cabin will burn down." Davis took a pail and went to the spring for water. When he came back Boylan had the fire under control and the door barred, and told Davis he had built the cabin, and now had peaceable possession of it, and he might go about his business. He went, and troubled him no more.
"The lot on which my grand father settled in 1799 was never patented until 1852 and then I patented it myself, but the State threw off the interest from time to time, and it should have thrown of the principal in many instances.
"No one ever thought of locking the house, granary, corn crib or smoke-house. The latch-string was always out, for those who wished to enter. There were very few petty thieves or pilferers in those days. If a stranger happened to come through the country, which seldom occurred in those early
days, he and his horse were cared for, free of charge. Any person who would charge a stranger for entertainment, was considered mean and hoggish. If any of the pioneers were unfortunate and met with a loss, or were sick, or had a fire, the neighbors for miles around would seem to vie with each other in their acts of benevolence and would divide their last loaf with the needy. At all frolics, raisings, loggings and all other kinds of work that a man could not do himself, they would turn out with hearty good will in sufficient numbers to accomplissh the work, whatever it was. In case of want, sickness or destitution, they would hitch up their teams, take provisions, cut and haul wood, and see that the family was provided for. Of course, there was always some benevolent person in each community, who would lead in this sort of work.