Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

. (page 114 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 114 of 193)
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sonage was built on a lot adjoining the church. Four
years later it was sold, and is now a private residence.
In November, 1873, Jacob H. Echard and D. P. Pat-
terson were elected deacons. July 7, 1875, Deacon
Bowers, one of the chief members of the church, died.
The Rev. D. Williams served as pastor until Jan. 29,
1876, when he was succeeded by the Rev. W. T.
Hughes, who remained one year. Then the pulpit
was supplied a short time by Rev. W. S. Wood, but
in September, 1877, the Rev. Joseph M. Collins be-
came the pastor, and has since maintained that rela-
tion, preaching one-half of his time at Scottdale.

The present meeting-house occupies a site adjoining

the lot where the old house stood, and was built in
1852, the building committee being Jonathan New-
meyer and Conrad Bowers. It is a brick edifice, forty-
three by fifty-five feet, and is plainly furnished. The
trustees in 1881 were Jacob H. Echard, George At-
kinson, and Jacob Overholt. In this house is main-
tained a good Sabbath-school, which has about eighty
members. For many years William C. Lyon has
been its superintendent.

In the old White meeting-house, services were oc-
casionally held by the adherents of Alexander Camp-
bell, that minister himself preaching there several
times. Those who espoused his belief were, among
others. Christian Shank, David Shallenbarger, and
their wives, Andrew Rees and wife, Mrs. Arnold,
Jacob Lobengier, Bushrod Washington, Hamilton
Cunningham, Jonas Eilenbarger, Elizabeth EUen-
barger, Jacob K. Shank, Michael Myers, Joseph, Jon-
athan, Susan, Lydia, Catherine, and Henry Shallen-
barger. These and others constituted


In 1853 a lot of ground was purchased in the ham-
let of Pennsville, and a meeting-house erected thereon
by a board of trustees, composed of Christian Shank,
Jonathan Shallenbarger, and Jacob Lobengier, which
thereafter constituted the place of worship. For a
time the church flourished under the ministry of the
Revs. Dorsie, Streator, Piatt, Parker, and Lobengier;
but the removal of many members caused the interest
to decline, and finally services were altogether sus-
pended, the remaing interest being absorbed by the
Bethel Church of Tyrone township. A proposition
to sell the meeting-house caused some members liv-
ing in Bullskin to exert themselves to raise funds to
repair the building and again make it an inviting
place of worship. Active in this movement were
Richard Boyd and wife, and by some effort the pur-
pose was accomplished. Thence, in connection with
the church at Bethel, semi-monthly meetings were es-
tablished, the chief speaker being L. C. McLain,
and at present about tliirty persons in the township
claim fellowship with the Disciples' Cliurch at Penns-
ville, which is yet auxiliary to the Bethel Church.


This house of worship is in the Pershing neighbor-
hood, standing on a lot of ground which was donated
for this purpose and for a burial-place by Abraham
Pershing. It is a plain frame, and was built in the
summer of 1847. Previously the meetings of the de-
nomination were held in the Pershing school-house,
in the same neighborhood, the principal members
belonging to the Troxel and Pershing families. The
services were held .at long intervals, the preacher
coming from a distance, and this being one of a num-
ber of appointments. When the house was built
Rev. John R. was the preacher in charge.
Since that time among the ministers h.ave been the
following: Revs. Beichtel, Holmes, Harnden, Ritter,


Newman ; 1852-53, Rev. William Beiclitel ; 1854-55,
Rev. Jolin L. Baker; 1856, Rev. John Riley; 1857,
Rev. William K. Shimp; 1858, Rev. Bonewell ;
1859-60, Rev. William Beiclitel ; 1865-66, Rev. Jacob
B. Resler; 1868, Revs. E. B. Kephart and J. Reyn-
olds; 1869, Rev. D. Speck; 1870-71, Rev. Robert
Rankin ; 1877-78, Rev. L. W. Stahl ; 1879, Rev. C.
Wortman; 1880, Rev. J. Medsgar; 1881, Rev. David

The church has about sixty members, and William 1
W. Troxel as steward ; the trustees are John Pershing, {
Daniel H. Pershing, and Daniel Troxel. I

On the 12th of May, 1850, a Sunday-school was
organized in this house, with Abraham Pershing, su- I
perintendent ; J. B. Sherrick, D. Tinstman, and John j
Pershing, managers ; AVilliam S. Walker, secretary ; I
Jacob Zundle, Simon Bitts, Eli Wilkins, Isaac Per-
shing, Mary A. Heckathorn, Nancy Rice, Caroline
Welchouse, and Catherine Sprankle, teachers. It
was the first Sabbath-school in Bullskin, and has
been kept up ever since. The present superintendent
is Henry Huebenthall.

In the minutes of the Sund.ay-school for Aug. 4,
1850, appears an account of a very remarkable solar
phenomenon : " To-day an extraordinary phenom-
enon appeared about the sun, and was seen by the
whole school. It consisted of two large circles around
the sun, which seemed to join or run into each other
at the eastern and western sides; and another very
large circle west of the sun, with the eastern side of
the ring in or over the sun. There also appeared in
the eastern horizon an arc, resembling a rainbow in !
colors, which was only an eighth of a circle large."
This remarkable exhibition occurred between the
hours of ten and eleven in the forenoon, while the sky
was beautifully clear and the air pleasant and warm.
It created a profound impression at the time, and as
there soon after occurred a virulent epidemic, which \
caused the death of a member in nearly every flimily,
making fearful inroads upon the membei-ship of the
school, it was looked upon as a sign of warning and
an (iimri .if o\ il, wliich wrought a salutary influence I
in the iiiin.l- of tin' afflicted people. In addition to
the superintuiidents already named there have served
in that capacity J. B. Sherrick, J. B. Troxel, D. H.
Pershing, and R. C. Farmer.


Tills is a place of worship of a class of that denom-
ination residing east of the central part of the town-
ship. The house is a neat frame on the highway, a
quarter of a mile south from Detweiler's Mills. It

was built in 1871 on an acre of ground secured from
the John Miner liirni, a part of which is devoted to
cemetery purposes, and is a frame thirty-three by
forty feet. It cost two thousand two hundred dollars,
and the building committee was composed of Samuel
Detweiler, Richard Herbert, and J. S. Longanecker,
who were also the first trustees. The church wiis ap-
propriately consecrated in November, 1871, by the
Rev. D. Speck. Prior to the building of the church
the society worshiped in the Gault school-house.
Among the early members were the Gault, Stauffer,
Fretts, and Detweiler families. At present there are
about seventy members, having J. S. Longanecker as
steward. The church belongs to a circuit which em-
braces besides the churches at Connellsville and Fair-
view, and has had, in the main, the same ministerial
supply as the last-named church.

In 1872 a Sunday-school was established in the
church, which had for its superintendent J. S. Long-
anecker. The attendants number about one hundred
in the summer season, the school seldom being con-
tinued the entire year.

This small but inviting place of worship in the
Stauflfer neighborhood, in the Green Lick Valley, was
built in the fall of 1876 on a lot of land given for that
purpose by Jacob J. Stauffer. The trustees in charge
were Henry S. Stauffer, David Glassburner, and Peter
Rhodes, who yet constitute the board. The member-
ship of the church is small, numbering but fifteen,
and the appointment is a part of the Mount Pleasant
Circuit, the Rev. WoodhuU being the preacher in

In the northeastern part of the township, a small
class of members of the Evangelical Association was
formed about 1872, which has flourished, so that it
now has its own house of worship and about thirty
members. The present class-leader is David L. Miller,
and John Mull is the church steward.


is the s])iritual home of the above class. It is a plain
frame house, twenty -eight by thirty-eight feet, and was
consecrated to divine worship in December, 1877, by
the Rev. W. M. Stanford, of Pittsburgh. The trustees
in 1881 were David L. Miller, John Mull, and David
Coffman. The members of the Mount Pisgah Church
belong to the Indian Creek Circuit, and have had the
same ministers as the Evangelical Churches of Salt


J)UN"BAE,' lying on tlie Youghiogheny River, had
in June, 1880, a population of 6327, including Dunbar
village. East Liberty, and New Haven borough.
It has the Yougliiogheny on the north, separating it
from Tyrone township, the townships of Wharton and
Stewart on the south, the Youghiogheny on the east,
separating it from the townships of Connellsville and
Springfield, and the townships of Franklin and North
Union on the west.

Dunbar is a township rich in not only agricultural
but mineral resources, and it has become a proverb
that it is the banner tovvnship in Fayette County.
The total assessed value of Dunbar township subject
to a county tax, as returned upon the assessment- roll
for 1881, was $1,735,749.

The surface of the country is generally uneven, and
on the southeast it is wild and mountainous. In that
section iron ore is found in abundance. Numerous
streams traverse the township, of which Dunbar
Creek, a rapid water-course, is the most important.
Two lines of railway, the Fayette County and the
Southwest Pennsylvania, connecting Uniontown and
Connellsville, run in parallel courses in Dunbar,
sometimes scarcely fifty feet apart. The first is under
lease to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. The second,
completed in 1876, is operated by the Pennsylvania
Railroad. Both lines enjoy a very profitable traffic in
the transportation of vast quantities of coke, iron, and
coal. The coke-burning, coal-mining, and iron-making
interests in Dunbar are extensive and lucrative, and
give at this present time employment to fully two thou-
sand five hundred people in the township. Business
enterprises now under way and in progress will soon
materially increase that number. Coal abounds
everywhere in almost exhaustless quantities, and must
for years to come prove a source of great revenue, as
well as a promoter of busy industry in every quarter, i
Dunbar village, the centre of an important coke- |
making region and iron-making district, is a thriving
town, whose growth has been steady, sure, and still
increasing as rich business interests develop about it.


The first settlements in the region now called

Dunbar township were made upon and near the

locality designated as Mount Braddock. Christopher

1 So nanieJ fur Col. Thonms Diinlnir, conmianding His Majesty's 48tli

Gist was the first to lead the way hither in 1752. Be-
fore Gist came the only settlers even vaguely supposed
to have been in the county are Said to have been the
Browns.^ Gist must have had his family in and oc-
cupied his cabin in the early fall of 1753, for Wash-
ington recorded in the narrative of his embassy to the
French posts that in November of that year he
"passed Mr. Gist's new settlement." Gist's cabin
was on that part of the Mount Braddock lands later
known as the Jacob Murphy place. The farm on
which he located belongs now to William Beeson.
Gist lived in North Carolina and Virginia previous
to 1753, and in 1750 was employed by the old Ohio
Company as land agent. In pursuance of his duties
he frequently visited the Ohio Indians. In 1751 he
made a tour among the Indian tribes on the Mus-
kingum, Scioto, and Miami. Upon his return from
his explorations in the Ohio valley, he declared of
that country that nothing but cultivation was needed
to make it a delightful region. His missions were all
on behalf of the Ohio Company, to conciliate the
Indians and keep a lookout for good lands. In the
latter part of 1753 he accompanied Washington as
his guide from Wills' Creek (Cumberland) to the
French posts on the Allegheny. He was again with
him in his military expedition of 1754, and with
Braddock in 1755. His expeditions in 1754 included
also a journey with Capt. Trent for the jnirpose of
assisting in what proved the fruitless effort of the
Ohio Company to build a fort at the Forks of the
Ohio. It has been asserted by authorities that "Gist
induced eleven families to settle around him on lands
presume 1 to be within the limits of the Ohio Com-
pany's grant." Although nothing but this vague
tradition appears to have been preserved touching
these families, there seems no reason for disputing the
truth of the statement that families wire settled about
Gist as early as 1754 at least. In test iiieiriy ti. this it
may be cited that the report of .Mnnsieur de Villiers,
the French commander of the expedition against
Washington at Fort Necessity in 1754, set forth that
upon his return he not only ordered the house at the
intrenchraent at Gist's to be burned down, but "de-
tached an officer to burn the houses round about." ^

2 A doubtful tradition at best.

3 Wasliingtnn In his journal writes, " We reached Mr. Gi<t's new set-
tlement at Monongahela Jan. 2, 1754, where I bouglit a lioi-se and sad-
dle." Wiisliington was at Gist's with his command June 21), 1754, and




Crist, by the very nature of his business as laud agent
and land explorer, was likely to note the most desira-
ble localities for settlements, and being himself evi-
dently bent upon making a new home for himself and
family wherever he could find in the Monongahela
country a place that suited him, he was naturally on
the lookout for a. more than usually inviting spot.
Tiiisspot he found at Mount Braddock, as is evidenced
by the fact of making his new home there. The Vir-
ginia commissioners' certificate ibr that land, issued
to Thomas Gist in 1780, recited that Christopher Gist
settled ui>on it in 17.5.3.

Christopher Gist's agency for the Ohio Company
appears to have ended in 17.55. In the fall of that
year he raised a company of scouts on the Maryland
and Virginia frontiers, and thereafter was known as
Capt. Gist. lu 175G he was sent Suuthwest to enlist
a body of Cherokee Indians into the English service.
In 17.57 he was appointed Deputy Indian agent in the
South. Washington indorsed the appointment in the
remarks, " I know of no person so well qualified for
the ta:.k. He has had extensive dealings with the In-
dians, is in great esteem among them, well acquainted
with their manners and customs, indefatigable and
patient, and as to his honesty, capacity, and zeal I
dare venture to engage."

With the defeat of Braddock in 17.5.5 ended for a
time at least the efforts of English settlers to find
jjeruianent homes west of the mountains, and Gist,
like others who had hoped to stop where they had
gathered their families, hastened to change his habita-
tion to more peaceful regions. From 17.55 to 1758,
wliile the French held possession of the country along
the Monongahela and Youghiogheny, no attcnqits at
settlements were nuule. The savages and wild beasts
were the only inliabitants of the territory now called
Fayette County. After the cxjiulsion of the French,
in 1758, many of the old settlers returned, and among
them came Gist. Although he himself came in 1759
and resumed actual possession of his lands on Mount
Braddock, he did not effect a permanent settlement with
his family until 17(55, for it was not until that year
that Indian troubles in this section were even tempo-
rarily disposed of. For sonic reason, however, lie de-
cided to end his days in hi- oM ^^i.uilicrn Iiomic, and
soafterawhile, transfcnin-lii- .Mount llrad.lo.k lands
to his .son Thomas, he ivtnrncd to citli.r Virginia or
North Carolina and there died. Lcll behind in Fay-
ette was Thomas Gist and ^\'illiam Cromwell, the
latter a son-in-law of Christopher Gist. This Wil-

liam Cromwell subsequently set up a claim under the
Ohio Company to a part of the Gist lands " in the
forks of the roads to Fort Pitt and Redstone," includ-
ing Isaac Wood's farm, asserting a gift of it to his
wife from her father, and a settlement thereof in
1753. Cromwell sold his land claim to Samuel Lyon,
between whom and Thomas Gist a long controversy
was waged for posse.ssion, which fell ultimately to

Christopher Gist had three sons — Nathaniel, Thomas,
and Richard — and two daughters. Of the latter, Anne
never married; Violet married William Campbell.
All the sons received lands on Mount Braddock from
their father, but their rights were eventually united
in Thomas. He died in 1786, and was buried on his
Mount Braddock farm. Soon after his death the Gists
left the township for Kentucky, after disposing of
their landed interests to Col. Isaac Meason. Thomas
I was a man of some note, and is said to have once
1 entertained Washington at his house.

George Paull, a Virginian, became a resident of
I the Gist neighborhood in '1768. The place of his lo-
cation was known as Deer Park. His son James,
j known as Col. Paull, became a man of considerable
i note, and owned large landed interests in various por-
I tions of the county. At the age of eighteen he en-
1 tered upon a military career as a member of a company
guarding Continental stores at Fort Burd (Browns-
' ville). This was in August, 1778. In May, 1781, he
was commissioned first lieutenant by Thomas Jeffer-
son, Governor of Virginia, and set out to take part in a
proposed campaign against Detroit. In April, 1782,
he was drafted for a month's frontier duty near Pitts-
burgh, and in May, 1782, he joined Crawford's expe-
dition to Sandusky as a private. After a harrowing
experience he escaped from the troubles of that cam-
paign only to resume his warlike experience in 1784.
In 1790 he served with distinctiqn as a major of the
Pennsylvania militia in Harmar's campaign against
the Indians. Later in life he became a colonel of
militia. After 1790 he devoted himself to the peaceful
pursuits of home life, and for a time was engaged as an
j iron-manufacturer at Laurel Furnace, in Dunbar town-
ship. From 179.3 to 1796 he was sheriff of the county,
and during that time was not only busy with opera-
tions against the " Whisky Boys," but was called
upon to hang John McFall, who was sentenced to
death for the murder of J(din Chadwick, Nov. 10,
1794. Col. Paull's sons numbered seven, — James,
George (a colonel in the war of 1812), John, Archi-
bald, Thomas, William, and Joseph. His daughter
Martha married William Walker.

Col. Isaac Meason was an important figure in the
earl)' historj' of Fayette Countj-. He was a Virginian
by birth, and as early as the year 1770 came to South-
west Pennsylvania. He bought land on Jacob's Creek,
and built upon it tlie Mount Vernon Furnace. Not
long afterwardshebought the Gist property on Mount
Braddock, in Dunbar township, and soon acquiring


additional lands took rank as one of the largest land-
holders in that neighborhood. In 17!)9 he owned
upwards of six thousand acres. In 1790 he built the
Union Furnace on Dunbar Creek, and set up two
forges and a furnace on Dunbar Creek from Union
Furnace down to the mouth of the creek. At
Union Furnace he built a stone grist-mill, and for
years conducted extensive business enterprises that
made him widely known. He owned, also, the lands
originally possessed by Col. William Crawford, and
in 1796 laid out the village of New Haven, on the
Youghiogheny opposite Connellsville. He died in
1819, and was buried on the Mount Briiddock estate.
His sons were Isaac, George, and Thomas. George
lived with his uncle, Daniel Rogers, of Connellsville.
Thomas became a resident of Uniontown. Isaac,
the best known of the sons, and known as Col. Mea-
son, after his father's death succeeded to his father's
business, and lived for many years at New Haven.
His children were nine in number, of whom the sons
were William, Isaac, Jr., and Richard. The only ones
of the nine children now living are three daughters.
Two reside in Uniontown, and one in Kansas. Col.
Isaac Meason, the younger, was educated for the bar,
and practiced in Pittsburgh before making his home
at New Haven. His mother died in Uniontown in
1877, aged ninety-four.

Thomas Rogers and his five brothers are said to
have, come from Maryland to Mount Braddock, ac-
companied by their widowed mother. They took up
lands under what was commonly styled ''tomahawk
claims," but becoming dissatisfied soon disposed of
their interests to Samuel Work. The Rogers families
moved to Washington County, and in the Indian ag-
gressions that befell that region three of the brothers
lost their lives. Tlie others removed then to the
mouth of the Beaver, but shortly returned to Dunbar
township, and located in what is now known as the
Cross Keys School District. One of the brothers
opened a blacksmith-shop on the Uniontown road,
and soon built a tavern near by. It is said that he
set a pair of cross keys over his shop as a token that
he was a locksmith as well as blacksmith, and when [
he opened his house he conceived the notion of call-
ing it the Cross Keys Tavern, by which name it was
long known. There is a vague tradition that the
Rogers brothers founded a Masonic lodge in that
neighborhood, and that for a while the mysterious
meetings of the brotherhood in the Cross Keys school-
house periodically excited the awe and wondering
curiosity of the people of that vicinity, who were ac-
customed to gather regularly on lodge nights arid
exert themselves to a painful extent in their fruitless
efforts to penetrate into the awful secrets and amazing
performances which they were convinced were hidden
within the school-house.

Daniel Rogers, whose daughter is Mrs. Banning, of
New Haven, was born in the Cross Keys District, mar-
ried a daughter of Col. Isaac Meason, and for many

years was a prominent citizen of Connellsville and
New Haven. In Connellsville he kept a store as
early as 1798. During the later years of his life he
resided at New H.nven, where he died in 1873, at the
age of ninety-five.

Joseph Torrance, who came to Fayette County with
George Paull, married one of PauU's daughters, and
settled upon a place in Dunbar known iis " Peace."
The tract is now occupied by the works of the Con-
nellsville Coke and Iron Company.

John Christy left Ireland about the year 1800 for
America, and drifted in a short time to Fayette
County, and worked for Col. Meason. He entered
the United States service in the war of 1812, and
died in the army. At the time of his enlistment he
was living in a sugar-bush that occupied the present
site of the Henderson Coke- Works. Among others
who are remembered to have lived near Union Fur-
nace before the year 1800, were Daniel Cole, John
Weaston, Samuel Downey, and Timothy Grover. The
latter is said to have been one hundred and two years
old when he died. Nearly all of his childien and
grandchildren died of consumption.

John Hamilton, who married Susanna Allen, of
Franklin township, in 1792, bought of a Mr. Ray that
year about four hundred acres of land in Dunbar
township. A portion of the land is now occupied by
his grandson, J. H. Byers. Ray had got up a log
cabin and cleared a few acres when he sold out to
Hamilton. The cabin Mr. Hamilton replaced in
1808 with the house Mr. Byers now lives in. About
Mr. Hamilton's settlement there were the Rogers,
Work, Paull, Lytle, Barkelow, Ross, Strickler, Curry^
Parkhill, and Graham families. One of tjie Currys
is said to have lived to be over a hundred years old.
There was a distillery near the Graham place about
1790, where excellent apple whisky was made. At
least such was the testimony of D. A. C. Sherrard,
who has frequently been heard to say that he was
raised on apple toddy made at that still, and that the
beverage was not only wholesome but delightful to
the taste.

The first school-house in the Hamilton or Cross
Keys District was probably a log afi\iir, built in 180G
upon the ground occupied by the present house, the
third one upon that site. Before 1806 the children
of that neighborhood attended school in a slab shanty
that stood near the present site of Dunbar village.

There were but few people in Dunbar when Joshua
Dickinson became a settler here. Just when he came
hither cannot be determined with certainty, but tra-
dition places the time at not far from 177(t. Certain
it is that when he traveled westward over the moun-

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 114 of 193)