North East History
300 Years Ago
In the early 1600's the North East area was covered with dense forests full of game. Lake Erie teemed with fish. The area's residents were a tribe of Indians known as the Eriez. This tribe was peaceful; its name meant "raccoon".
Accounts of the Eriez vary. One 19th-century historian has the first French missionaries arriving in 1626 and naming the Eriez the "Neutral Nations". A modern-day author writes, however, that Europeans never met the Eriez, because a neighboring tribe, the Iroquois, destroyed the tribe in a terrible war. This author has the story of the Eriez being passed to the first white explorers by the victorious Senecas, the Hurons, and a tribe identified in the account as the Neutrals.
Two of the leaders if the Eriez then were Queen Yagowania, who had the role of "the mother of nations", keeper of the peace, ruler of the tribe; and Ragnotha, the Eriez chief of was, who maintained his camp near present-day Buffalo. A dispute arose between Ragnotha and one of the Iroquois tribes, the Seneca. A terrible battle ensued. Ragnotha's warriors - nearly 600 - were killed. Some 16 years later, in 1656, the Iroquois decided to finish the job and killed or scattered the remainder of the Eriez tribe. The Iroquois then possessed the complete south shore of Lake Erie.
Pennsylvania, on September 4, 1778, paid 24 Iroquois chiefs $151,640.25 for a portion of land known as "The Triangle", 315 square miles: 45 miles of Lake Erie coast, all of what is now North East Borough and Township, Greenfield, Harborcreek, Greene, Summit, Millcreek townships, the city of Erie, and part of McKean, Fairview, Girard and Springfield townships.
North East TownshipNorth East Township was first called Lower Greenfield. But when it was organized, the name North East was given because of its position as the most northeastern township of the original sixteen townships.
North East was the first of the lakeshore townships to be settled. Joseph Shadduck, who came from Vermont, was the first, purchasing a tract in 1794 near the center of the township. George and Henry Hurst, from New Jersey, followed and, with Shadduck, made a settlement. By 1820, the township was 1068 residents; by 1880, it had 2152.
The first school was formed in 1798. in 1814 a log schoolhouse was built and school was taught by Joseph Neeley. The first hotel was the Brawley House, built in 1833. the first bank was formed in 1860 at the corner of Lake and Main Streets.
The Presbyterians formed the first church in Erie County, in North East Township, in 1801. it was formed in the house of William Dundas, which was later converted into Burgett Tavern. Henry Hurst then gave five acres to the Presbytery, which built a log church building on what is now North East Cemetery.
The first road was cut through from Freeport to Greenfield in 1797.
North East Borough
North East Borough land was first purchased from the state by a man named Brown, who sold it to an Eastern speculator by the name of Gibson in 1804. in 1808, a tavern was built on the site of what is now Haynes House.
A village formed around the tavern and was called Burgettstown. In 1819 the name was changed to Gibsonville in honor of the speculator, who owned most of the property and who had donated the park in the center of the borough.
On February 27, 1834, the village was incorporated as the Borough of North East.