Venango County Historical Society
Atlas of the Oil Region
PO Box 101 301 South Park Street Franklin, Pennsylvania 16323
The Atlas of the Oil Region of Pennsylvania was published in 1865 by F.W. Beers, A.D. Ellis and G.G. Soule. The detailed maps of each of the townships in Venango County show individual properties, inset maps of the larger towns and villages and the locations of each of the many petroleum-based companies that were created after the well drilled by Colonel Edwin L. Drake provided an economic means of removing oil from the ground.
All of the townships that existed at the time of the Oil Boom are included here. The two exceptions are Mineral and Victory Townships, formed later from parts of Frenchcreek and Sandycreek Townships. For brief histories of Mineral and Victory Townships and a description of the Donation Lands, please click here.
Sugarcreek Township, originally Sugar Creek, was established in 1800, named after the creek that runs through it. The township was the site of Franklin's oil district. Ebenezer Roberts settled here in 1796, followed by Jacob Whitman with his sons John, Jonathan and William. Angus McKinzie, born at Inverness, Scotland, settled in the northers part of the township. Reno, named after Civil War General Jesse Reno, is the largest village.
Allegheny Township was originally formed in 1800, but was reduced to its present size by 1866. Alexander McElhaney was one of the earliest settlers, in 1796, but left within a short time because of Indian hostilities in the area. The Dawson brothers, Thomas, John and James, arrived in 1805 at about the same time as Hugh and Michael McGerald. Two Revolutionary War veterans, Aspenwall Cornwell and David Dunham, were also early pioneers.
Canal Township was established in 1833. Early settlers included the High Johnston family in 1797, and John and James Foster, James McCune, John Coxson, Jacob Whitman, Chirstopher Sutley and Samuel Black soon followed. The township is named after the old French Creek Canal, which was built as part of an attempt, in the 1820s and 1830s, to link Lake Erie with the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. The canal project was never completed, and the French Creek Canal was abandoned.