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Sheffield Industry

downtown-sheffieldSheffield, a town driven by tanneries and timber.

In 1828, Timothy Barnes, a native of Yates County, New York, constructed a sawmill in the southeastern corner of Warren County.

Nestled within the hemlock and pine rich banks of the Tionesta Creek, Barnes sought to connect his growing development with the heart of the county.

Clearing 14 miles of road in just four days, a route of transportation was provided from Warren, Pennsylvania to the young, yet growing village of Sheffield.

Recognized as a great businessman and pioneer, Barnes sparked a competition that would lead to the accelerated growth of the small village.

Following in Barnes’s footsteps, Richard Dunham, an active lumberman credited as one of the most important members of the Sheffield community, soon constructed his own sawmill just west of Barnes, thus leading to the expansion and current boundary lines of present day Sheffield, Pennsylvania.

Established as a township soon thereafter, the first tax list within Sheffield held only thirty-three names with no more than twenty of those persons being permanent residents.

Small but determined, several prominent figures from the New York region took note of the growing and resource-rich village and soon migrated to the area. Though the milling industry continued to flourish in Sheffield, the firms chose a new focus for their business, leading to the establishment of several noted tanneries.

Famous for their wealth, the family of W. & W. Horton, who migrated to Sheffield from Sullivan County, New York, purchased land and in 1867 the firm Horton, Crary & Company was formed. Constructing a large tannery in the heart of Sheffield, the firm also maintained three sawmills in the village, which produced large amounts of lumber.

In the spirit of competition, the firms of J.F. Schoelkopf of Buffalo, New York, and John McNair & Company constructed tanneries of their own in the years following the construction of Horton, Crary & Company’s.

Unable to compete, the tanneries of both J. F. Schoelkopf and John McNair & Company soon fell to the interest of Horton, Crary & Company who managed to gain a stronghold in the growing gas and oil productions sweeping through the village.

Proving their dominance over business and industry, Horton, Crary & Company went on to build the Tionesta Valley Railroad in 1881.

Now able to immigrate by way of railroad, strong Swedish and German roots soon took hold within the village of Sheffield, which continued to grow at an increasing rate.

Though the days of tanneries and milling have passed, the village of Sheffield, which still finds itself nestled within the hemlock and pine rich banks of the Tionesta, continues to flourish, embracing its rich history.