Few pioneer families of Northwestern Pennsylvania are more widely representative than the Leechs. Their immediate ancestor, John Leech, was born in York County, Penn., November 29, 1767, and was a son of Thomas and Phoebe Leech, of that county, and grandson of William Leech, who came to America with William Penn. He there grew up, and married Miss Jane Morrison November 25, 1788. She was born in that county January 16, 1769. In October, 1792, they moved to Somerset County, Penn., and ere their removal to Mercer County. She was the mother of six sons: David, Thomas, William, Joseph, John and Samuel. Mr. Leech was a practical surveyor, and in the spring of 1802 he removed with his family to this county and settled at the place since known as “Leech’s Corners,” on the Little Shenango, in what is now Sugar Grove Township, where he arrived on the 4th day of May. The whole country was then a vast forest, with a cabin here and there at long intervals, while game of every sort was far more abundant than the necessities of the pioneers demanded. Four sons and two daughters were born to John and Jane Leech after coming to Mercer County: Phoebe, James, Morris, Joshua, Jane and Asbury, who, with the four born in York County, constituted one of those old-fashioned families of ten sons and two daughters. Every one of these grew to maturity, and a remarkable fact is that all lived to be over sixty years of age, the last survivor, Morris, dying in September, 1884. John Leech was first a Whig, then a Democrat, and afterward a Republican. He and his three eldest sons went to Ohio in the War of 1812. In 1821 he ran for the Assembly and was defeated, but in 1825 he was elected to the State Senate and served four years. In 1828 he was the Adams and Rush elector for this district, then composed of Mercer, Crawford and Erie Counties, James Duncan, of Mercer, being the opposing elector on the Jackson and Calhoun ticket. Mr. Leech was a good scholar and a fine conversationalist, and after serving in the Senate he represented the county in the Legislature. He was justice of the peace over thirty years, and throughout the pioneer days was one of the most influential citizens of his adopted county. He lived to see his ten sons and one of his daughters, Jane, who married Jesse Smith, settled on farms in the vicinity of the old home, while the other daughter, Phoebe, married Rev. Charles Elliott, a Methodist preacher, and shared his itinerant life. Mrs. Jane Leech died October 16, 1841, her husband surviving her till May 1, 1864, passing away at the ripe old age of nearly ninety-seven years. The ancestors of the Leech family were Quakers, and came to Philadelphia with its great founder, Penn, but soon after Mr. Leech’s marriage he and wife united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and all of their children were life-long members of that denomination. Three of their sons, John, Samuel and Joshua, were Methodist preachers. The memory of this pioneer couple will be revered among the hills and valleys of Mercer County as long as the history of pioneer life finds a sympathetic chord in the hearts of their numerous descendants.
History of Mercer County, 1888, pages 1138-1139