Alfred Creigh.

History of Washington County : from its first settlement to the present time : first under Virginia as Yohogania, Ohio, or Augusta County until 1781 : and subsequently under Pennsylvania; with sketches of all the townships, boroughs, and villages, etc. : and to which is added a full account of the c online

. (page 6 of 61)
Online LibraryAlfred CreighHistory of Washington County : from its first settlement to the present time : first under Virginia as Yohogania, Ohio, or Augusta County until 1781 : and subsequently under Pennsylvania; with sketches of all the townships, boroughs, and villages, etc. : and to which is added a full account of the c → online text (page 6 of 61)
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Hugh Newel, Arthur Campbell, John Stephenson, Samuel Johnston,
James Loop, John Hustein, William Thompson, William Reno,
William Rannells, Henry Graham, William Hughes, William Camp-
bell, Patrick McCormick, John Singer, Joseph Patterson, Daniel C.
McCoy, David Kerr, John Morrison, John Stone, William Park,
William Smiley, George Marquiss, Mary Marquiss, Thomas Mar-
quiss, Joseph Vance, John Marquiss, William Wallace, Samuel Reed,
James Marshall, Elias Newkirk, John Cooper, William McCullough,
Alexander Wright, James Jackson, Agness Jackson, Mary Cowen,
Sr., Mary Cowan, Jr., Martha Dunbar, Prudence Matthews, Eliza-
beth E. Hughes, Janet McCandless, Anne Vance, David Rannells,
Elizabeth McCullough, Ruth Rannells, Annie Park, Mary Johnston,
Martha Edgar, Mary Graham, John Hughes, Gabriel Walker, Alex-
ander Kidd, Jean Patterson. — 86. The above signed the first day.
Attached is a second additional clause, with 28 names added to
the first list. The second clause and names read thus : —

We desire to acknowledge the goodness of God, who hath con-


tinned his precious gospel with us in purity, and especially for his
late gracious outpourings of divine influence on many parts of the
land, and especially here where we were so sunk in carnal security
and wordly miudedness, floating along with the flood of vanity.
And we desire to lament our barrenness and leanness under these
gracious favors, and we do now, in the strength -of God, rejying on
His grace, resolve that we will seek to the Lord for help to improve
these precious favors, and knowing that some do oppose the work,
and aspersing it as a delusion, &c., we will be guarded in our con-
duct, careful of our company, and we believe that it is the duty of
awakened sinners next to their supplication to the throne of grace,
to lay open their case to ministers and experienced Christians, lest
Satan and corruption might get the advantage of them, and that we
will be careful and watchful to perform the duties required by Chris-
tian rules in the families we belong to, as we stand related severally
as parents and children, husbands and wives, masters or mistresses,
and servants.

Signed in 1786 by Angas Sunderland, Jane Sunderland, Thomas
Bay, Elizabeth Bay, Mary Patterson, Sarah Vance, Jean Marquis,
Martha Rannells, Robert Morgan, Margaret Marshall, Susannah Pat-
terson, Robert Marshal, Elizabeth Thompson, Tabitha Kirk, Sarah
Marquis, Susannah Parke. •

May 31, 1787, Thomas Hays, Jos. Colville Yance, William Hus-
ton, John M. Cloan, Joseph Wiley, Catharine Edgar, Catharine
Pbillis, John Sanders, Andrew Ferguson, Elizabeth McMillen, Mary-
Edgar, Sr., Hannah Huston.

To which names are added these words, " Whole number 114 —
dead 26." James Edgar, Esq., makes a note below the additional
clause of these words, " I believe this additional clause was made on
the second day's signing."

Time would fail me were I to give a history of most of these men
whose names were subscribed to this religious agreement. Many
of them filled high and important stations in church and State, and
have bequeathed to their posterity a priceless inheritance. Their
descendants linger among us, and the rural cemeteries of Cross Creek,
Buffalo, Racoon and Biirgettstown, contain the remains of those of
whom it can be truthfully said, " Blessed are the dead who die in
the Lord."

Marriage Custom and Ceremony.

In connection with the church, I shall add a sketch of an old-
fashioned wedding party, from the rare work of Rev. Dr. Dodridge,
such as was practised by the first settlers.

When neighborhoods became in some degree settled, and boys
and girls had grown to manhood and womanhood, mutual love
resulted in marriage, which was celebrated different from weddings
of the present day. An eye-witness and a participant gives the
following glowing description of a wedding day among our early
settlers: —


In the morning of the wedding day the groom and his attendants
assembled at the house of his father for the purpose of reaching the
mansion of his bride by noon, which was the usual time for cele-
brating the nuptials, which for certain must take place before dinner.

Imagine an assemblage of people, without a store, tailor, or man-
tua-maker within a hundred miles, and an assemblage of horses
without a blacksmith or saddler within an equal distance. The
gentlemen dressed in shoepacks, moccasons, leather breeches, leg-
gings, linsey hunting shirts, and all home made. The ladies dressed
in linsey petticoats and linsey or linen bed-gowns, coarse shoes,
stockings, handkerchiefs, and buckskin gloves, if any. If there were
any buckles, rings, buttons, or ruffles, they were the relics of old
times, family pieces from parents or grandparents. The horses were
caparisoned with old saddles, old bridles or halters, and pack-sad-
dles, with a bag or blanket thrown over them. A rope or string as
often constituted the girth as a piece of leather.

The march, in double file, was often interrupted by the narrow-
ness and obstructions of our horse-paths, as they were called, for we
had no roads, and these difficulties were often increased, sometimes
by the good and sometimes by the ill-will of neighbors, by felling
trees and tying grape-vines across the way. Sometimes an ambus-
cade was formed by the wayside, and an unexpected discharge of
several guns took place, so as to cover the wedding party with smoke.
Let the reader imagine the scene which followed this discharge,
the sudden spring of the horses, the shrieks of the girls, and the
chivalric bustle of their partners to save them from falling. Some-
times, in spite of all that could be done to prevent it, some were
thrown to the ground. If a wrist, elbow, or ankle happened to be
sprained, it was tied with a handkerchief, and little more was thought
or said about it.

Another ceremony took place before the party reached the bouse
of the bride. When the party were about a mile from the place of
their destination, two young men would single out to run for the
bottle of whiskey, the worse the path, the more logs, brush, and
deep hollows, the better, as these obstacles afforded an opportu-
nity for the greater display of intrepidity and horsemanship. The
start was announced by an Indian yell, logs, brush, muddy hollows,
hill and glen, were speedily passed by the rival ponies. The bottle
was always filled for the occasion, so that there was no use for
judges, for the first who reached the door was presented with the
prize, with which he returned in triumph to the company. On
approaching them, he announced his victory over his rival by a
shrill whoop. At the head of the troop he gave the bottle first to
the groom and his attendants, and then to each pair in succession
to the rear of the line, giving each a dram, and then putting the
bottle in the bosom of his hunting shirt, took his station in the

The ceremony of the marriage preceded the dinner, which was a


substantial backwoods feast of beef, pork, fowls, and sometimes veni-
son and bear meat, roasted- and boiled, with plenty of potatoes,
cabbage, and other vegetables. During the dinner, the greatest
hilarity prevailed, although the table might be a large slab of tim-
ber hewed out with a broadaxe, supported by four sticks set in
auger holes, and the furniture, some old pewter dishes and plates,
the rest, wooden bowls and trenchers ; a few pewter spoons, much
battered about the edges, were to be seen at some tables. The
rest were made of horns. If knives were scarce, the deficiency was
made up by the scalping knives, which were carried in sheaths, sus-
pended to the belt of the hunting shirt.

After dinner the dancing commenced, and generally lasted till the
next morning. The figures of the dancers were three and four hand-
ed reels or square sets and jigs. The commencement was always a
square four, which was followed by what was called jigging it off,
that is, two of the four would single out for a jig, and were followed
by the remaining couple. The jigs were often accompanied with
what was called "cutting out," that is, when either of the parties
became tired of the dance, on intimation, the place was supplied by
some one of the company without any interruption of the dance.
In this way a dance was often continued till the musician was
heartily tired of his situation. Towards the latter part of the night,
if any of the company, through weariness, attempted to conceal
themselves for the purpose of sleeping, they were hunted up, paraded
on the floor, and the fiddler ordered to play "hang out till to-mor-
row morning."

About nine or ten o'clock a deputation of the young ladies stole off
the bride and put her to bed. In doing this it frequently happened
that they had to ascend a ladder instead of a pair of stairs, leading
from the dining and ball-room to the loft, the floor of which was
made of clapboards lying loose and without nails. This ascent one
might think would put the bride and her attendants to the blush,
but as the foot of the ladder was commonly behind the door (which
was purposely opened for the occasion), and its rounds at the inner
end were well hung with hunting shirts, petticoats, and other arti-
cles of clothing, the candles being on the opposite side of the
house, the exit of the bride was noticed but by few.

This done, a deputation of young men in like manner stole off the
groom, and placed him snugly by the side of his bride. The dance
still continues, and if seats happen to be scarce, which was often the
case, every young man when not engaged in the dance was obliged
to offer his lap as a seat for one of the girls, and the offer was sure
to be accepted. In the midst of this hilarity, the bride and groom
were not forgotten. Pretty late in the night some one would remind
the company that the new couple must stand in need of some refresh-
ments. Black Betty, which was the name of the bottle, was called
for, and sent up the ladder. But sometimes black Betty did not go
alone. I have many times seen as much bread, beef, pork, and cab-


bage sent along with her, as would afiforcl a good meal for a half
dozen hungry men. The young couple were compelled to eat and
drink more or less, of whatever was offered them.

In the course of the festivity, if any wanted to help himself to a
dram, and the young couple to a toast, he would call out, " Where is
black Betty ? I want to kiss her sweet lips." Black Betty was soon
handed to hira, then holding her up in his right hand, he would say,
" Here's health to the groom, not forgetting myself, and here's to the
bride, thumping luck and big children." This, so far from being
taken amiss, was considered as an expression of a very proper and
friendly wish, for big children, especially sons, were of great import-
ance ; every big son being considered as a young soldier.

It often happened that some neighbors or relations not being asked
to the wedding took offence, and the mode of revenge adopted was
that of cutting off the manes, foretops, and tails of the horses of the
wedding company.

On returning to the infare, the order of procession and race for
black Betty was the same as before. The feasting and dancing often
lasted for several days.


The school-house was considered as necessary to the prosperity of
a settlement as the church, and the requirements of the schoolmaster
were, that he could read, write, and cipher as far as the double rule
of three. When such a man offered himself, the neighbors would
employ him, and immediately set about the erection of a school-house.
One would give the ground, some would cut the logs, some would
haul them to the appointed place, others would put them up. In
the erection of the school-house, a log would be kept out the entire
length to answer the purpose of a window. The fireplace was
built with logs, with a stone back wall calculated for a back log six
feet long. The chimney was built with what was then called " cat
and clay chimney." The seats were made of small trees, cut about
twelve feet long and split, the flat side dressed smooth with the axe,
and legs put in the round side, which stood on an earthen floor. In
summer time the dust would be sometimes two inches deep, hence the
scholars for amusement would amuse themselves by "kicking up the
dust " (which is likely the origin of the expression), to the great an-
noyance of the schoolmaster, who would use his cat-o'-nine-tails very

In old times, they had a custom which is now, we believe, entirely
laid aside. About a week before Christmas the larger scholars
would meet in the night to bar out the master. On his arrival at
the school-room he would endeavor to foi'ce his way in, but finding
his efforts unavailing, he would enter into an agreement to give them
holiday between Christmas and New Year's, give a gallon of whiskey,
and lots of ginger-cakes on Christmas day, and play corner ball with
the scholars on that occasion.




A brief history of the Provincial Conference — The Constitution of 1776 ; the
Council of Censors ; the Convention of 1789 ; the Constitution of 1790;
the action of the Legislature of 1825 ; with regard to a convention, and the
vote of the people ; the Convention of 1837 ; the Constitution of 1838, and
the full proceedings of the Supreme Executive, from 1781 to 1791, which
relates to Washington County.

Supreme Executive Council.

Before proceeding with the acts of this body, as connected with
Washington County, it is necessary to give a history of its rise and
origin, as interwoven with the Constitution of 1776.

A provincial conference of committees of the several counties
of Pennsylvania convened at Carpenter's Hall, in Philadelphia, on
25th of June, 1776, in consequence of a circular letter from the
committee of the city and liberties of Philadelphia, inclosing the
resolution of the Continental Congress of the 15th of May, 1776.
Returns of delegates were laid before this provincial conference from
the city of Philadelphia, and the counties of Philadelphia, Bucks,
Chester, Lancaster, Berks, Northampton, York, Cumberland, Bed-
ford, Northumberland, and Westmoreland (these ten counties then
composing the province). Thomas McKean was chosen President,
Joseph Hart, Vice-President, and Jonathan B. Smith and Samuel
C. Morris, Secretaries.

The President directed the reading of the resolution of the 15th
of May, 1776, passed by the Continental Congress, which was in
these words : —

Whereas, his Britannic majesty, in conjunction with the Lords and
Commons of Great Britan, has, % a late act of Parliament, excluded
the inhabitants of these United Colonies from the protection of bis
crown ; and whereas no answer whatever to the humble petitions of
the colonies for the redress of grievances and reconciliation with
Great Britain has been or is likely to be given, but the whole force
of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for
the destruction of the good people of these colonies ; and whereas
it appears absolutely irreconcilable to reason and good conscience
for the people of these colonies now to take the oaths and other
matters necessary for the support of any government under the
crown of Great Britain, and it is necessaiy that the exercise of every
kind of authority, under the said crown, shall be totally suppressed,


and all the powers of government exerted under the authority of the
people of the colonies, for the preservation of interval peace, virtue
and good order, as well as for the defence of their lives, liberties,
and properties, against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations
of their enemies ; therefore,

Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies
and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government suffi-
cient to the exigencies of their affairs has been hitherto established,
to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representa-
tives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their
constituents in particular and America in general.

The Conference adopted the resolution, and resolved to adopt a
new government in the province of Pennsylvania, on the authority
of the people only.

The Convention appointed Monday the 8th day of July, 1116, for
electing members in the different counties to said Convention, and
fixed Monday the 15th of July, 1176, for the assembling of the dele-

On the 15th of July, 17 76, delegates from the city of Philadel-
phia and the ten counties of the State as above specified, met in
Philadelphia, and organized by electing Dr. Benjamin Franklin,
President ; Col. Greorge Ross, Vice-President ; John Morris, Secre-
tary. The Convention terminated their session on the 28th of Sep-
tember, 1776, and adopted a constitution, containing a decla7'ation
of rights and the frame of government. The commonwealth was
to be governed by an Assembly of the representatives of the freemen
of the State, a President and Council. In the House of Representa-
tives the supreme legislative power was vested, but in the President
and Council the supreme executive power was vested, under the title
of Supreme Executive Council.

The first Constitution of Pennsylvania, adopted July 15, 1776,
provided that this council should consist of twelve persons, chosen
from the counties then in existence, but provided that in case of
the formation of new counties, such county or counties shall elect a
councillor. The Council was required to meet annually at the same
time and place with the General Assembly.

The duties of the President and Executive Council (five of whom
constituted a quorum) were to appoint all officers, civil and mili-
tary, except such as were chosen by the people or the General
Assembly, and to fill vacancies, grant pardons, remit fines, grant
reprieves, see that the laws were faithfully executed, &c. &c. &c.
Two justices of the peace for each district were elected for seven

The Constitution also provided that a Council of Censors
should be elected by the people on the second Tuesday of October,
1783, and in every seventh year thereafter, whose duty was to
inquire if the Constitution had been preserved inviolate, whether the
different branches of government had performed their duties faith-


fally, and whether the taxes were justly laid, &c. &c., and to call
a convention to amend any article of tlje Constitution which might
be defective.

The first Council of Censors met on November the 10th, 1788,
when Washington County was represented by James Edgar and
John McDowell. After examining the Constitution and its opera-
tion, they appointed several committees and adjourned to June 1,
1784, and after hearing the opinions of the members, they passed a
resolution by a vote of fourteen to ten, that there was no absolute
necessity to call a convention to alter, explain, or amend the Con-
stitution, but drafted an address to the people on the necessity of
supporting the Constitution by giving it a fair and honest trial, and
if at the end of seven years it did not answer the desired purpose,
to make the necessary change.

On the 24th of March, IT 89, a resolution was adopted by the
General Assembly by a vote of forty -one to seventeen, that it was
necessary to call a convention to revise, alter, and amend the Con-
stitution, and for this purpose the authority was given to the people
to elect delegates for that purpose, to meet in Philadelphia on the
24th of November, 1189.

This Convention met at the day appointed, with delegates from
the city and county of Philadelphia, and the counties of Bucks,
Chester, Lancaster, York, Cumberland, Berks, Northampton, Bed-
ford, Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette, Franklin, Montgomery,
Dauphin, Luzerne, Huntingdon, Delaware, Northumberland, and
Alleghany (there being twenty counties in the State). The delegates
from Washington County were Alexander Addison, John Hoge,
David Reddick, and James Ross. Thomas Mifflin was elected
President. This convention adjourned on the 26th of February,
1190, to assemble on the 9th of August following, after having
adopted a constitution, which was ordered to be printed for the
consideration of the people of Pennsylvania. The reason given for
a change is thus explained by Thomas McKean. The balance of
the one, the few, and the many, is not well poised in the State; the
legislature is too powerful for the executiv.e and judicial branches.
We have now but one branch ; we must have another branch, a
negative in the executive, stability in our laws, and permanency
in our magistracy, before we shall be reputable, safe, and happy.

The delegates reassembled at the time and place appointed, and
after a careful review and an investigation of the Constitution,
adopted the same on September 2, 1790, by a vote of sixty-one to
one, and was officially proclaimed as such.

In the Constitution of 1790, the legislative power was vested in
the Senate and House of Representatives, and not in the House of
Representatives alone, as in the Constitution of 1776.

The supreme executive power was vested in the Governor, while
in the Constitution of 1776 it was in the Pi'esident and Supreme
Executive Council.


The Constitution of 1790 going into effect, the Supreme Executive
Council was abolished, and on the 22d of April, 1794, an act was
passed vesting- aJl the powers of the late Supreme Executive Coun-
cil in the Governor, unless otherwise vested by law. On the 28th
of March, 1825, an act was passed by the legislature to ascertain
the opinion of the people relative to the call of a convention.

On the second Tuesday of October, 1825, the people, by ballot,
decided against the proposed convention. On the second of May,
1837, a State Convention assembled at Harrisburg to amend the
Constitution. Hon. John Sergeant, of Philadelphia, was chosen
President. This Convention continued in session until the July
following, when it adjourned and reassembled in October. In the
following December the Convention removed to Philadelphia and
finally closed their labors on the 22d of February, 1838. The pro-
posed amendments to the Constitution were adopted by the people
at the annual October election of the same year.

I shall now proceed to give extracts from the proceedings of the
Supreme Executive Council, on subjects referring to Washington

Philadelphia, Monday, April 2, 1781.

Present: His Excellency Joseph Eeed, Esq., President, the Vice-
President, and members of the Supreme Executive Council.

The Council taking into consideration the act of Assembly passed the
28th inst., entitled " An act for erecting- part of the county of Westmore-
land into a special county" called by the name of Washington.

Resolved, That Thomas Scott, Esq., be appointed and commissioned to
be the Prothonotary of the said county of Washington.

Resolved, That James Marshal, Esq., be appointed and commissioned to
be Lieutenant of the county of Washington, and that John Cannon and
David Lite (Leet) be appointed and commissioned to be the sub-Lieuten-
ants of the said county.

Philadelphia, April 4, 1781,-
Present : His Excellency Joseph Eeed, Esq., President, and Executive

James Marshal, Esq., appointed by the Honorable House of Assembly
to be Register for the Probate of Wills and granting letters of administra-
tion, and Recorder of Deeds for the county of AVashington, and by this
Board to be Lieutenant of the said county, attended in council and took
the several oaths necessary to qualify him for the said offices respectively.

Philadelphia, April 20, 1781.

Present : His Excellency Joseph Reed, Esq., President, and Executive

Ordered, That Colonel James Marshal, Lieutenant of the county of Wash-
ington, be authorized and directed to call out forty men of the militia of
that county, or if the militia shall not be organized sufficient for that pur-
pose, to raise the said number of men for the purpose of escorting and
guarding the commissioners appointed to run the line between this State
and Virginia, during the time they shall be on that service, and that he be


authorized to call on the commanding officer at Fort Pitt for ammunition
for that purpose.
Col. Daniel Broadhead was commandant at Fort Pitt.

Online LibraryAlfred CreighHistory of Washington County : from its first settlement to the present time : first under Virginia as Yohogania, Ohio, or Augusta County until 1781 : and subsequently under Pennsylvania; with sketches of all the townships, boroughs, and villages, etc. : and to which is added a full account of the c → online text (page 6 of 61)