This township is of such recent formation that its history lies in its future, and the events of the territory embraced by its boundaries are more properly a part of the older townships from which it was taken. The causes that led to its erection were various, and as occurring events at that time created a conflict of opinion in the necessity of a separate township, which were unimportant as a record, no detailed statement of them need be made here.
Upon the petition of C.C. Ball and others, the question was regularly brought to the notice of the Court of Quarter Sessions of the county, held in the month of September, 1881, and, upon such petition, S.F. McCloskey, J.I. Patterson and D.W. Moore were appointed viewers, to examine and report upon the necessity of a new erection.
In accordance with their duty, and what they considered to be for the welfare of the residents of the locality affected by the proceeding, the viewers determined to, and did lay out a new township, taking therefor from Woodward, 4,646 acres and 100.4 perches of land; from Beccaria, 4,064 acres; from Knox, 2,332 acres; from Geulich, 1,821 acres; and that the new township, which included the town of Madera, should be so named.
This proposition met with disfavor and great resistance on the part of Woodward township, which was burdened with a considerable debt, and relied on the tax levy of the vicinity affected to help pay it. This argument was combated by Madera and vicinity with the assertion that they (the residents) had contributed their full share toward paying the township’s indebtedness, and begged relief from further contribution for which they were receiving no substantial benefit.
To settle the vexed question as to the new erection, the court made an order directing the holding of an election by which the question should be left to the determination of the electors, and appointing the 27th day of December, 1882, as the time for such election. The result at the polls showed one hundred and thirty-three votes for, and thirty against the proposed division; whereupon the township was erected and confirmed by the court, and named "Bigler," in honor of Hon. William Bigler, late governor of the Commonwealth.
So, then, in the formation of Bigler township, the older townships of Woodward, Beccaria, Geulich and Knox surrendered their lands in the proportion mentioned in the early part of this chapter.
The early settlement and history of the new township is written in the chapters devoted respectively to the older townships of Woodward, Geulich, Beccaria and Knox, to which the reader is referred.
The town of Madera, the recognized central point within the township, occupies a central position, and is an active, enterprising and progressive hamlet. It is situated on the east side of Clearfield Creek, and distant from Houtzdale four miles. The original name given this township was Puseyville, so designated in honor of Charles Pusey, who owned a great part of the lands upon which the town was built. Mr. Pusey owned and managed extensive lumbering interests in the vicinity, and for the purpose of prosecuting his business had large saw and grist-mills at the place.
Here, too, are extensive coal deposits, which await only the building of a railroad to the town to place it on an equal footing with the other points in the south part of the county. This railroad seems an assured fact in the near future, as efforts are in progress, looking toward the extension of the Moshannon Branch, to tap the coal fields in this vicinity.
Although small, and not yet having attained the dignified name of a "borrough," the residents are decidedly progressive, and have built several fine private dwellings, noticeable among which are those of the Hagertys.
The lands in the immediate vicinity of Madera were warranted, in 1784, to one Alexander, three generations back from Joseph Alexander, now residing at Madera, and to the ancestors of John Gill, John Cullen, John McConnell, and James Alexander, which ancestors were pioneers along the valley of Clearfield Creek.
Among the earlier industries was the old saw-mill, situated near the mouth of Lost Run. This mill was owned, in part, by Dr. Houtz, in the year 1850, but two years later he sold his interests here and made his seat of operations in the vicinity of what afterwards became Houtzdale.
In the early part of the present century Judge Rawle, a Philadelphian, owned an extensive tract of land in this vicinity, upon which he erected a log house, a marvel of architecture for the time. The inside was plastered throughout, and ornamented elaborately with cornices and center pieces of "Paris white." From the magnificent view of the surrounding country the locality he named "Belle Sena," meaning beautiful scene. This house has long since gone to decay. Its owner and occupant left the county many years ago, and is now dead. In after years this property came into the ownership of William A. Wallace, and the name was changed, or corrupted, into "Belsena," by which it is now known, retaining only its original pronunciation.
In the year 1886 the Moshannon Branch Railroad was extended to the mouth of Pine Run, and thence up that stream one and one-half miles. The lands hereabouts were owned by Mr. Wallace, and he opened the rich coal fields from which are shipped large quantities of coal and coke.
Extensive lumber operations are being carried on at the point by A.W. Lee, David McGaughey, William H. Dill, and A.W. Crist. Their mills are built at the mouth of Pine Run.
The town of Belsena contains a hotel, store, a number of dwellings, railroad station, ware-house, and the extensive mill property of A.W. Lee & Co.
Source: Pages 425-427, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.
Transcribed July 1999 by Louise K. Muniak for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/~clearfield/)
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