|You are here: Cambria > Townships > Elder|
|Hosted by: Janet Stumpf McCully|
Although white men settled in the area about the start of the Nineteenth Century, Elder Township as such did not come into being until about 75 years later.
The township was formed on February 12, 1878, from Chest Township. It was named for John Elder, one of the early settlers. The land is rich in coal, in timber and Indian relics. And it also has its share of good streams. Like the rest of the northern-tier townships, it has fine woodland.
John Elder and Peter Woodley are thought to have come to the area in the early days of the Nineteenth Century. In fact, there is a record of their subscribing in 1829 toward the building of St. Joseph's Church, Hart's Sleeping Place.
An abundance of pine timber attracted the settlers. A stream now known as Brubaker Creek ran from south to north through the area.
The white man soon discovered the land had wealthy coal reserves. Coke ovens became plentiful after a branch railroad was built between Westover in Clearfield County and nearby Hastings.
The village of St. Boniface was founded in 1844, when Jacob Glasser and his three sons -- Jacob, George and Francis -- settled in the area. Each of the sons bought 250 acres of land, at $1.50 per acre, on the installment plan from James Fisher of Philadelphia. Later, a cousin George Glasser joined the pioneers and the place became known as Glasser Settlement.
The first road in the district, built in 1848, led from Glasser's Settlement to Carrolltown and connected with the highway to St. Lawrence. In 1856 Rev. Father Celestine Englbrecht visited the Glassers. He taught the children catechism and made a number of visits.
During one of his stays at Glasser's Settlement in 1858, the priest urged the people to build a church. He proposed that it should be named in honor of St. Boniface, patron saint of the Germans.
And, it was done. Jacob Glasser donated two acres of land, where the church now stands. The work was completed May 20, 1859, and the church was dedicated June 5, 1860. A community of homes soon sprang up around the church --and so, St. Boniface, a village, was born.
Coal provided economic security for the area. Then Hastings was born, cut from its parent Elder Township by court order on December 4, 1894.
During the next score of years mining continued to grow. By the time Hastings became a borough, the township had about 1,200 population.
Disaster struck St. Boniface on February 25, 1896 when fire destroyed the church. But, before the year was out it had been rebuilt and was blessed on November 17.
In 1928 the mines closed and many feared the community would become a ghost town. However, the population has varied but little. It now has about 300 residents. The township itself has grown only slightly. Seventy years ago its population was 1,200 as compared with about 1,500 today.
Historians say the first schoolhouse in the township was a log one built on what is now the farm of James Holtz. When the St. Lawrence Road was changed, it was rebuilt on the present farm of Andy Thomas. Finally it was rebuilt in St. Boniface and then was torn down to make way for a two-story school in the village. Libby School was built on the present farm of Frank Born. The Kirk School was erected along Carrolltown Road about 40 years ago.
Indian culture, rich in most northern-tier townships, is revived in Elder Township. Near St. Boniface remains of an Indian cemetery have been found. It is said that one householder, excavating for his home a number of years ago, discovered the skeleton of an Indian sitting erect in his grave.
Elder Township is bounded on the north by Clearfield County, on the east by Chest Township, on the south by East and West Carroll Townships and on the west by Susquehanna Township.