Shenango was one of the original townships formed in 1800. It was then about eight miles square and occupied the southwest corner of the county. A division into North and South Shenango occurred in 1830, and the territory of the latter was reduced in 1863 by the erection of West Shenango. South Shenango now contains 17,258 acres. Its population in 1850 was 1,664; in 1860, 1,393; in 1870, 1,042, and in 1880, 991. The surface is almost level. The low lands were wet and marshy in pioneer times, but are now productive farms. On the higher land the soil is clay; it is a sandy loam along the streams. Shenango Creek, the boundary line between South and West Shenango, is the only stream of importance. It is enlarged by numerous little tributaries. Poplar was the principal timber, with a considerable sprinkling of white oak, chestnut and pine along the creek.
The Erie & Pittsburgh Railroad crosses the township north and south. There is one station, Westford, in South Shenango, established in 1881. The next year a store was started, and in 1883 a grist-mill was put in operation by Carkhuff & Hulbert. A blacksmith-shop and several dwellings are also found here, and the place bids fair to make a thriving little village. Westford is the nearest approach to a village in the township. A postoffice existed for many years at Marshalls Corners, but was abandoned soon after the railroad was built. Another was started at McLeans Corners in the southwest part near the railroad, but it has likewise been abolished. An ashery, store, blacksmith-shop and railroad station are among the things of the past at this point. Hulbert & Martin have a cheese factory in the northwest part of the township, where a stave factory is also found. Jamestown, on the southern confines, has some territory taken from this township.
The township lies mostly within the Pennsylvania Population Land District, and the following persons agreed at the time mentioned to settle the various tracts within a few days from the date of contract, and were to receive the following amounts of land: Tract 776, John Burfield, May 1, 1798, 1100 acres, deed delivered to James Dickey, assignee of Burfield; 777, Samuel Ewart, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, deed delivered to James Davis, assignee of Ewart, February 4, 1807; 778, John Gallagher, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, settled under contract; 779, Joseph Elliott, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, deed delivered October 6, 1808; 780, John Elliott, September 28, 1798, 200 acres, settled under contract; 781, William Reed, June 4, 1798, 200 acres, settled under contract; 782, David Logan, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, deed granted; 788, James Wilson, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, settled under contract; 789, John Graham, May 1, 1798, 100 acres, settled; 790, Thomas Elliott, December 1, 1798, 200 acres, settled; 791, John Ewing, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, deed delivered; 792, Andrew McArthur, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, settled; 793 (partly in West Shenango), swamp; 794, Robert Story, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, deed delivered August 17, 1808; 795, Robert McConahey, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, settled under contract; 796, John Cochran, December 11, 1796, 200 acres, settled under contract; 797, Thomas Ewing, May 1, 1797, 200 acres; 798, Margaret Wyley, May 9, 1798, 100 acres, deed granted John McGranahan, assignee of Wyley; 805, Hugh Fletcher, July 1, 1797, 100 acres, deeded Gilbert Wade, assignee of Fletcher; 806, Jacob Laymaster, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, settled under contract; 807, James Cochran, December 11, 1798, 200 acres, deed delivered to John Cochran, assignee of James, September 17, 1809; 808, Robert McArthur, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, deed delivered; 809, William McArthur, May 1, 1798, 200 acres, deed delivered; 814, Quintin Brooks, September 24, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; 815, unsold, cabin built and eight acres cleared for company in 1798; 816, Sally Fletcher, September 24, 1797, 100 acres, deed delivered to H. Hollenbach, assignee of Fletcher; 823, Arthur Connor, September 30, 1809, 100 acres settled under contract; 824, Daniel McConahey, September 21, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; 825, Ann Brooks, September 27, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; same tract, Alexander McEhhaney, October 5, 1809, 100 acres, settled under contract; 835 (partly in West Shenango), John Brooks, September 21, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; same tract, Thompson McMasters, August 27, 1811, 200 acres; 836, William McArthur, September 21, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; 837, John Wilson, November 20, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; 838, William Snodgrass, September 21, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; 839, David Ashbaugh, November 20, 1797, 200 acres, settled under contract; 840, eight acres cleared for company.
All the above are still remembered as early settlers except John Burfield, Samuel Ewart, James Wilson, John Graham, Margaret Wylie, Jacob Laymaster and David Ashbaugh, who if they settled in the township probably remained but a short time. Most of the others were life long residents and now have descendants in the township.
Michael Marshall was probably the first settler, hailing from Lancaster County; he was one of Powers surveying party for the Pennsylvania Population Company, and for his services received the east half of Tract 813, which he settled in 1796. He first came out alone, erected a shanty, then returned to the East and brought his wife and child in the autumn of the same year to the wilderness home. He was one of the original members of the Shenango United Presbyterian Church, and a life-long citizen of the township. His death occurred in his eighty-fifth year. Joseph Marshall, his son, is now the oldest pioneer remaining. He was born August 3, 1798, and was the first white child born in the township. The Marshalls are yet numerous in the township.
Patrick and William Davis were here in 1798. Other pioneers who arrived a little later were David Atchison, James Angelo, William Beans, Robert Boyd, Robert Bennett, William Campbell, Jonathan Craven, Solomon and William Douthitt, Archibald Davis, Peter Free, James and Matthew Gamble, Gersham Hull, George Jewell, Thomas Laughery, Charles Logan, Matthew and James MeElhaney, John McLaughlin, John Mullen, James Mason, Hugh Murdock, John Ralston, Henry and Peter Royal, Moses Scott, John, Thomas, Matthew and Jesse Snodgrass and Andrew Thompson. They were all here prior to 1810. Moses Allen, a native of New Jersey, came to the township about 1801.
David Atchison was the first Justice of the Peace. He came from Lancaster County. William Beans was a young unmarried man, who studied theology with Rev. Mr. McLean, but soon abandoned it. William Campbell operated an early grist-mill on Shenango Creek. William Douthitt, Alexander McElhaney and John and Jesse Snodgrass owned distilleries, and Benjamin Snodgrass a saw-mill. Thomas Elliott and William Lewis also had early saw-mills. William Snodgrass was an early Justice of the Peace. The first milling was done at Greenville, and some time after Campbelle mill was started[,] John Clyde constructed a small one on Tract 812. James McMaster and Robert McKinley had carding-mills in the southern part of the township. Black salts were made in considerable quantities in early times from lye, and in consequence ashes commanded a ready sale; many settlers thus obtained money with which to pay their taxes.
For years after the first settlers arrived Indians encamped in great numbers on the banks of the Shenango, where they engaged in hunting and sugar-making. One Indian, known as Jake Kashandy, was a general favorite with the pioneers. He was accustomed to visit a cabin and complain of sickness. When asked what would relieve him he quickly responded, "cup tea," and usual1y obtained it. He afterward repaid the kindness, usually with a haunch of venison, or other wild game. Kashandy was killed in a drunken Indian brawl about 1804, while encamped on the creek, and the perpetrators of the deed were never apprehended.
Peter Smith taught the first school about 1802, in the western part of Tract 814, in a cabin which had been used as a barn. Henry, Moses, John, Katie and Betsy Laughery, Joseph, Samuel and Jane Marshall, the Cochrans and others attended. Edward Hatton held the next term in a log-house built on Tract 808 for school purposes. He continued a pedagogue for several years. Miss Datie Buell also taught early.
The first organization of the Associate Reformed, later United Presbyterian denomination, in Crawford County, was effected with ten members in Shenango Township in 1801, by Rev. Daniel MeLean, who, in 1802, was installed its pastor in connection with Sandy and Salem Churches, Mercer County. This pastorate was continued fifty-four years, and was terminated in April, 1854, only three months previous to Rev. McLeans death, in his eighty-fourth year. He possessed unquestioned devotion to the ministry and strong mental and physical powers. The first services of this congregation were held under a tent near the graveyard, and about 1805 a log building was erected in which to worship. In 1818 a second house was built. It was the first frame building in the township. Its furniture consisted of a high narrow pulpit and large square pews with straight backs. The walls and ceiling were unplastered and the interior undefiled by the painters brush. It was occupied until 1879 when a handsome frame edifice, 35x60, was erected on the same site, near the center of Tract 797, at a cost of $5,000. It was dedicated June 17, 1880. David Nelson, Joseph Work, Thomas Ewing and Hugh Fletcher were the first Elders. The present session consists of John S. Davis, William Q. Snodgrass, John McQuiston, Robert Bennett and Perry Marshall. The membership is about seventy-five. In 1840 it was 350. Rev. J. A. Collins was pastor from 1858 to 1863; J. B. Waddle from 1866 to 1871; John Armstrong from 1875 to 1877; Rev. D. F. Dickson came as stated supply in August, 1878, and was installed pastor in June, 1880. He remained until 1882. At present a vacancy exists.
Ebenezer Associate Reformed Church was organized in 1864. Its members had withdrawn from the United Presbyterian Church for political reasons, and connected themselves with the Associate Reformed Church of the South. The congregation started with thirty-five members, and its first pastor was Rev. James Burrows, who is yet in charge. In 1868 a church was erected in the northwest corner of Tract 790. James Martin and Free Patton were the first Elders, Robert Martin and William G. Wade the present ones. In September, 1881, the congregation on application was received into the United Presbyterian Presbytery. The membership is sixty.
North Bank Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1824 with about nine members by Rev. Charles Thorn. Among the earliest members were Charles Campbell and wife, William Fonner and wife, Aaron Herriott and wife, Mark Royal and Rebecca and Christina Fonner. It was attached to Williamsport, Ohio, Circuit, and at first preaching was held on week days, once in four weeks. Early meetings were held in private houses and in the schoolhouse until about 1845 where the present church was built in the northern part of Tract 67 on land donated by Charles Campbell. The building was remodeled in 1878 at a cost of over $1,000. The membership is about fifty. The congregation is a part of Espyville Circuit.