Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 12 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 12 of 193)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Washington and Braddock, and intermarrying with
the Indians, settled and formed a village on the
waters of Georges Creek, in what is now Georges
township, Fayette County.

Of the English-speaking traders some were Penn-
sylvanians, who came in by way of the Juniata, but
more were from Virginia and Maryland, who came
west over the Indian trail leading from Old Town,
Md., to the Youghiogheny, guided and perhaps in-
duced to come to the Western wilds by Indians,' who
from the earliest times were accustomed to visit the
frontier trading-stations on the Potomac and at other
points east of the mountains. These traders, both
English and French, were adventurous men, ever
ready and willing to bravo the perils of the wilder-
ness and risk their lives among the savages for the
purpose of gain, but they were in no sense settlers,
only wanderers from point to point, according to the
requirements or inducements of their vocation. Who

3 Judfre Veech saj-s (" Jlonongahela of Old," p. 20), " When the Vir-
ginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania traders with the Indians on the
Ohio begiin their operations, perhaps as early as 1740, they procured In-
diana to show them tho best and easiest route, and this [the Kemacoliti
path to the Youghiogheny and Ohio] was the one they adopted." Anil
he adds, "There is s..nio evidence that Indian tni.lcrs, both English and
French, were in tbii country much eurli,;r" than 1740.



they were is no more known than is the time when
tliey first came, for few, if any, of their names have
been preserved, other than those of Dunlap and Hugh
Crawford, and they were of the class of later traders,
who gave up their calling on the approach of perma-
nent settlers.

Nor is it certainly known who was the first white
man who made a settlement intended to be perma-
nent within the territory that is now Fayette County.
Veech believed that the first actual settlers here were
AVendell Brown and his two sons, Maunus and Adam,
with perhajis a third son, Thomas. " They came,"
he says, "in 1751 or 1752. Their first location was on
Provance's Bottom, a short distance below little Ja-
cob's Creek [in-the present township of Nicholson].
But soon after some Indians enticed them away from
that choice alluvial reach by promises to show them
better land, and where they would enjoy greater se-
curity. They were led to the lands on which, in part,
the descendants of Maunus now reside.' . . . They
came as hunters, but soon became herdsmen and til-
lers of the soil. . . . When Washington's little army
was at the Great Meadows, or Fort Necessity, the
Browns packed provisions to him, — corn and beef"
This last statement, however, seems very much like one
of those doubtful traditions that are found clinging to
all accounts of Washington's movements from Fort
Necessity to Yorktown. It seems improbable, to say
the least, that Wendell Brown would in that early
time, and at his remote home in the wilderness, have
had sufficient store of corn and beef to spare it from
the necessities of his numerous family, and " pack"
it several miles across the mountain and through the
woods to help feed an army. Yet it may have been
true. As to the date (1751-52) given by Mr. Veech
as the time of Brown's first settlement on the Monon-
gahela, it appears too early, and there is a doubt
whether Wendell Brown should be named as the first
settler in this county, though no doubt exists that he
was here among the earliest.

Of settlements made within the limits of the present
county of Fayette, the earliest which have been auy-
tliiug like definitely fixed and well authenticated were
those which resulted from the operations of the Ohio
Company, an organization or corporation to which
reference has already been made in preceding chap-
ters. The project of the formation of this com-
])any was originated in the year 1748 by Thomas
Lee, a member of the Royal Council in Virginia;
his object being to form an association of gentlemen
for the purpose of promoting the settlement of the
wild lands west of the Allegheny Mountains, within
what was then supposed to be the territory of the
colony of Virginia, and also to secure the Indian
trade. For this purpose he associated with himself

Mr. Hanbury, a Loudon merchant, Lawrence Wash-
ington, and John Augustine Washington, of Virginia
(brothers of Gen. George Washington), and ten other
persons, residents of that colony and Maryland, and in
March, 1749, this association was chartered as the
Ohio Company by George the Second of England.

The royal grant to the company embraced five hun-
dred thousand acres of land on the Ohio, and between
Hhe Monongahela and Kanawha Rivers, this being
given on the express condition that it should be
improved and settled (to a certain specified extent)
within ten years- from the date of the charter.

"The object of the company," says Sparks, "was
to settle the lands and to carry on the Indian traiU-
upon a large scale. Hitherto the trade with the
Western Indians had been mostly in the hands of the
Pennsylvanians. The company conceived that they
might derive an important advantage over their com-
petitors in this trade from the water communication
of the Potomac and the eastern branches of the Ohio
[the Monongahela and Youghiogheny], whose head-
waters approximated each other. The lands were
to be chiefly taken on the south side of the Ohio, be-
tween the Monongahela and Kanawha Rivers, and
west of the Allegheuies. The privilege was reserved,
however, by the company of embracing a portion of
the lands on the north side of the river, if it should
be deemed expedient. Two hundred thousand acres
were to be selected immediately, and to be held for
ten years free from quit-rent or any tax to the king,
(Ju condition that the company should, at their own
expense, seat one hundred families on the lands within
seven years, and build a fort and maintain a garrison
sufficient to protect the settlement.

" The first steps taken by the company were to order
Mr. Hamburg, their agent in London, to send over
for their use two cargoes of goods suited to the In-
dian trade, amounting in the whole to four thousand
pounds sterling, one cargo to arrive in November,
1749, the other in March following.' They resolved

- Sparks, in his " Life and Writings of Washington," siiys of tliis com-
pany tliat wlieu it was fli-sl instituted Mr. Lee, its projector, was its
principal organ and most efficient meinljcr. He died soon afterward*,
and tlu-n tlie cliief management fell on Lawrence NVashington, wholiad
engaged in the enterprise with an entlitisftksm and energy peculiar to
liirf cliantcter. His agency was sliort, liowever, as liis rapidly declining
health soon terniinated in liis death. Several of the company's shares
changed hands. Governor Dinwiddle [of Virginia] and George Mason
became proprietors. Tliei-e wore originally twenty shares, and the com-
pany never consisted of more than that number of members."

3 The defeat of Washington and BraddocU by the French in the yrars
1754 and 17.55, as already narrated, and the consequent oxpnlsion of
Knglish from the country west of the Alleghenies, virtnally closed
operalii.iis ..f tli.. Oliiu O.nipiiny. Of Ihia Sparlis says, " The goods [de^


1 had c


IS to discourage anyattempt to send tlio goods at the comp
lore remote point." This was the end of the company's
least as far as this region was concerned. About 17G0 i
made to revive the project, and Col. George Mercer was


also that such roads should be made and houses built
as would facilitate the communicatiou from the head
of navigation on the Potomac River across the moun-
tains to some point on the Monongahela. [This route
would, almost of necessity, cross the territory of the
present county of Fayette.] And as no attempt at
estal)lishing settlements could safely be made without
some previous arrangements with the Indians, the
company petitioned the government of Virginia to
invite them to a treaty. As a preliminary to other
proceedings, the company also sent out Mr. Chris-
topher Gist, with instructions to explore the country,
C.xamine the quality of the lands, keep a journal of
his adventures, draw as accurate a plan of the country
fls his observations would permit, and report the same
to the board."

Gist performed his journey of exploration for the
company in the summer and fall of the year ll'MK In
this trip he ascended the Juniata River, crossed tiie
iiiimntain, and went down the Kiskiminetas to the
Allegheny, crossed that river, and proceeded down
the Ohio to the Great Falls at Louisville, Ky. On
this journey he did not enter the Monongahela Val-
ley, but in November of the next year (1751) he tra-
versed this region, coming up from Wills' Creek,
crossing the Youghiogheny, descending the valley of
that stream and the Monongahela, and passing down
on the south and ea.stside of the Ohio to the Great Ka-
nawha, making a thorough inspection of the country,
in which the principal part of the company's lands
were to be located, and spending the whole of the
winter of 1751-52 on the trip, and returning east by
a more southern route.

In 1752 a treaty council (invited by the government
of Virginia at the request of the Ohio Company, as
before alluded to) held with the Six Nations at
Logstown, on the Ohio, a few miles below the conflu-
ence of the Allegheny and Monongahela; the object
being to obtain the consent of the Indians to the
locating of white settlements on the lands which the
company-should select,^thc Six Nations being recog-
nized .IS the aboriginal owners of this region, and the
company ignoring all proprietorship by I'enn in the
lands west of the Laurel Hill range.

At this treaty there were present on the part of
Virginia three commissioners, viz. : Col. Joshua Fry,
Luusford Lomax, and James Patton, and the com-
pany was represented by its agent, Christopher
Every possible effort had been made by the French
Governor of Canada to excite the hostility of the Six
Nations towards the objects of the company, and
the same had also been done by the Pennsylvania
traders, who were alarmed at the prospect of com])e-

oiit ns an Rgcnt to Englnnd for this pui-posp. At times it seemed as if
his effi-rta would lie successful, but ulslncles interposed, yeare of delay
succeeded, and finally tlio breaking out of the Revolution caused all
hopes of resuscitating the Ohio Company to bo nbandoued, and closed its

tition in their lucrative trade with the natives. These
efforts had had some effect in creating dissatisfaction
and distrust among the savages, but this feeling was
to a great extent removed by the arguments and per-
suasions of the commissioners and the company's
agent, and the treaty resulted in a rather reluctant
promise from the chiefs of the Six Nations not to
molest any settlements which might be made under
the auspices of the company in the region southeast
of the Ohio and west of Laurel Hill.

Immediately after the conclusion of the treaty at
Logstown, Mr. Gist was appointed surveyor for the
Ohio Company, and was instructed to lay otf a town
and fort at Chartiers Creek, " a little below the present
site of Pittsburgh, on the east side of the Ohio." The
sum of £400 was set apart by the company for this
purpose. For some cause which is not clear the site
was not located according to these instructions, but
in the forks of the Allegheny and Monongahela
Rivers, and there in February, 1754, Capt. Trent with
his company of men commenced the erection of a fort
for the Ohio Company, which fort was captured by
the French in the following April, and became the
famed Fort du Quesne, as has already been men-
The grant of lands to the Ohio Com|)any, even
I vaguely described as those lands were, could not be said
! to embrace any of the territory which is now Fayette
County ; but the company assumed the right to make
their own interpretation, and as they ignored all the
rights of the Penns in this region, and, moreover, as
they had no doubt that it was wholly to the westward
of the western limits of Pennsylvania, they professed
to regard this territory .is within their scope, and
made grants from it to various persons on condition
of settlement. These grants from the company gave
to those who received them no title (except the claim
conferred by actual occupation, temporary as it
proved), but they had the effect to bring immigrants
here, and to locate upon the lands of this county the •
first settlements which were made in Pennsylvania
west of the mountains.

Early in the period of their brief operations the

company made propositions to the East Pennsylvania

Dutch people to come here and settle, and this offer

was accepted to the amount of fifty thousand acres,

to be taken by about two hundred families, on the

I condition that they be exempted from paying taxes

to support English religious worship, which very few

' of them could understand and none wished to attend.

[ The company were willing enough to accede to this,

' but it required the sanction of government, to obtain

I which was a slow process, and before it could be ac-

j complishcd the proposed settlers became indifferent or

j averse to the project, which thus finally fell through

and was abandoned.

I The first person who actually located a settlement
'• on lands presumed to be of the Ohio Company was



their agent, Christopher Gist,' whose name frequently
occurs in all accounts of the military and other
operations in this region during the decade succeed-
ing the year 1750. He had doubtless selected his
location here when going out on the trip down the
Ohio, on which he was engaged from the fall of 1751
to the spring of 1752. He took possession in the lat-
ter year, but probably did not make any improve-
ments till the spring of ] 753. He had certainly done
so prior to November in that year, when Washington
passed his " plantation" on his way to Le Bceuf, and
said of it in his journal, "According to the best ob-
servation I could make, Mr. Gist's new stttkment (which
we passed by) bears almost west northwest seventy
miles from Wills' Creek."

The place where Christopher Gist made his settle-
ment, and which is so frequently mentioned in ac-
counts of AVashington's and Braddock's campaigns as
" Gist's plantation," was the same which has been
known for more than a century as "Mount Brad-
dock," almost exactly in the territorial centre of
Fayette County, the site of his pioneer residence

1 CliristoplierGistw.-vsof Englishdesceiit. His gi
toplier Gist, who died in Baltimore Couuty in li;''
W..S Edith Cronnvei:, wlio .died in 1004. They ha
who was surveyor of the Western Shore, .lud w >-
sioners, in 1729, for laying off the town of B:ilti
magistnite in 173G. In 1705 he married Zipporah :
pher was one of tlie tliree sons. He was a resideii
before he came to "Western Pennsylvania for the
married Sarali Howard; his brother Natlnnil th i
and Thomas, the third brother, marri I ^ ill
Jolui Eager ll.nvarJ. From cither N i:
General Gist, will) was kilh.-a at tlic lull J II,
close of the lal- mmI u .i. il.n-i ,; ! , i „ i:,
Kichard, and Tliuiji - n, i i ■■■. -ii!!. i :-,- ', ■

urr.iy, and Christo-
of North Carolina
>hio ConiP'''ny- He
III Mary Howard;

accompany W:uihington ..ii ; , : ■ i ,i ,7 ;

and it was from his

journal thatSiJarksaiidlrx. 11- . n i.,,

lilt of that e.'cpedition.

Will, his sons, Nathanirl mil l i,,,. :,, >.,,.

iili r.iTuldock on the

mtnl li..M ..\ M..i,.ri,:,l:,.:,,, ,, i , : 1 ,, ^, ;., ,

- !■ n,,l a grant of

twelv • :,. i>- ,i,.| , i. ^ ,,l l.i I,, :l, , ::,_ i

■ ' i 1 .VflerBrad-

doi'U - ...i. a 1 ^..1 ,,.....,;. ,1,1 , 1 - , :- , , \

,:,1 Maiyland,

andUi.U.-,>...-.„. il„- l-,„„iKi,i.,-,i,^ 1 ,

■ ,,t,iinGist. In

1T50 he went to the Caroliniis to enli t . ', '

, ill .he English

service, and was anccesslul in accumi h

For a time

he served as Indian agent in the Sniul, 1 i;i ii:

1,,- 1 ■ii,,vcd from the

MoMongahehi country bade to Xorlh Carolina an

died ihf re.

Eichard Gist was killed in Ihe l.altle of King

s Mountain. Thomas

lived on the plantation, and was a man of note til

his death abo..t 178C.

Anno lived with him until his death, when si

Nathaniel, and removed with him t., il„ ,i ii,i .

1 K 1 ky .about the

beginning of this century., : i

..,lli.r of Hon.

Montgomery Blair, of Maryland, ma. .1

11.11, of County, Va.. a grandniece of A i , 1 i ' ,, i i.

i.,,!l,.. mover of the

Bill of Rights in the House of Bnige-ses. Xal

aniel was a colonel in

the Virginia lined. .liiiilho lievolulion.ary war,ai

d afterwards removed

to Kentucky, where hsdied early in the present

eent...-y at an old age.

He lel't two sons,— Henry Cur.v m,! Th„n,:i. C. ri

Sarah Howard, married tli,, 11 : [,'

1 . ,., : s; ,,,.. .,.., ,,,„'

from Kentucky and a di-i,;, , i i.

: , , .^ ;, i; 1,1.../

Brown, was Ihe Demoenl , : \. , 1

, 1 ■ : - , . 'rii.-

I being within the present township of Dunbar, but

j very near the line of the northeast extremity of North

Union. His location was called by him " Mononga-

hela," though many miles from that river. Wash-

I ington, in the journal of his return from Le Bceuf,

mentions it by this name, as follows : " Tuesday, the

I 1st of January, we left Mr. Frazier's house, and ar-

; rived at Mr. Gist's, at Monongahela, on the 2d ;" and

a letter written by Gist to Washington about eight

weeks later is dated " Mouongohella, February 23d,


Mr. Gist brought with him to his new settlement
his sons, Richard and Thomas, and his son-in-law,
William Cromwell. Soon after his arrival with his
family there came eleven other families from across
the mountains, under the auspices of the Ohio Com-
pany, and settled on lauds in his vicinity, but the
sites of their locations a.s well as their names are now
unknown. Washington, when on his way from Gist's
back to Virginia, in January, 1754, wrote in his
journal, under date of the 6th of that month, "We
: met seventeen horses, loaded with materials and
' stores for a fort at the fork of the Ohio, and the day
after some families going out to settle." And it is
altogether probable that these were the families who
settled in Gist's neighborhood. Sparks says, "In the
mean time [that is, between the appointment of Gist
as the company's agent and the building of the fort
by Trent] Mr. Gist had fixed his residence on the
other side of the Alleghenies, in the valley of the
Monongahela, and induced eleven families to settle
around him, on lands which it was presumed would
i be on the Ohio Company's grant."

Judge Veech expresses some doubt as to the settle-
ment of the eleven families near Gist. He says,
" We have seen it stated somewhere that Gist in-
duced eleven ftimilies to settle around him, on lands
presumed to be within the Ohio Company's grant.
This may be so. But the late Col. James Paull,
whose father, George Paull, was an early settler in
that vicinity, and intimately acquainted with the
Gists, said he never heard of these settlers.'.' But in
addition to the reasons already given for believing
that the families did settle there, as stated, is this
other, that the French commander, De Villiers, men-
tions in his journal that when returning to the Mon-
ongahela after his capture of Fort Necessity, on
the 5th of July, 1754 (the day after the surrenderl,
he arrived at Gist's, " and after having detached M.
de la Chauvignerie to burn the houses round nbout, I
continued my route and encamped three leagues
from thence," which indicates that there was then a
considerable settlement at that time in the vicinity of
Gist's. In regard to the fact that Col. James Paull
never heard of the settlement, there need only be
said that as he was born about six years after those
people had been burned out and driven away by the
French, and as even his ftither, Capt. George Paull,
did nut come to this country before the fall of 175S.),


it is by no means strange that the former should have
kiinwti nothing about their settlement.

Aiiiitlier .settler who came at about the same time
witli (iist was William Stewart, said to be the same
Stewart who was emi)loyed by Washington in some
capacity in his e.xpedition to the French forts on the
Alloghcny in IToS. He made his settlement on the
west slioro of the Youghiogheny, near where is the
present borough of New Haven. From the fact of
his location there the place became known as "Stew-
art's Crossings," and retained the name for many
years. That Stewart came here early in 17.5.3 is
shown by an affidavit made by liis son many years
al'terwards, of which the following is a cojiy :
"Favktti: CoiNTV, »«.

"Before the subscriber, one of Ihc eommonwcnUli's jurticesof
the peace for said county, jicrsonally np])earcil William Stcw-
nrt. who being of lawful ago and duly sworn on the Holy
Evangelists of Almighty Ood, saith.That he was living in this
county, near Stewart's Crossings, in the year 175.3, and part
of the year 1754, until ho was obliged to remove hence on

unt of the French taking possession of this country; that
lie was well acquainted with Captain Christopher Gist and
family, and also with Mr. William Cromwell, Capt. Gist's son-in-
law. He further saith that the land where Jonathan Hill now ,

< anil the land where John Murphy now lives was settled
by William Cromwell, as this deponent believes and always
understood, as tenant to the said Christopher Gist. The said I

nwell claimed a place called the ' Ueaver Dam,' which is

[ihioe now owned by Philip Shutc, anAwhcre ho now lives;
and this deponent further saith that he always understood that
the reu.<on of said Cromwell's notsettling on his own land (the ,
Beaver Dam) was that the Indians in this country at that tiiiirf^i
Merc vcrj jdenty, and tho said Cromwell's wife was afraid or
did not choose to live so far from her father and mother, there ■
being at t'.iat time but a very few f.imilics of white people set-
tled in this country. . . . When this deponent's father, himself, [
and brothers first came into this country, in tho Icginningof tho j
year 175^i. they attempted to take pusse..-sion of the said lieaver I
Dam, and were warned off by some of said Christopher Gist's '

family, who

nfonned the

1 that the s:i

uc bo'.c

nged to ^


Cromwell, tl

e said Gist's



And further dc


eaith not.

' Wii.i.

AM Stew


"Sworn and subscribed before.


s 20th

jf April, 1





The victory of the French and their Indian allies
over Washington at Fort Necessity in 17.54 effected the
expulsion of every English-speaking settler from this
section of the country. There is nothing to show that
at that time there were any others located in what is
now Fayette County than Christopher Gist, his fam-
ily, William Cromwell, the eleven unnamed families
living near them, Stewart and family at tho " Cross-
ings," the Browns, Dunlap,' the trader on Dunlap's
Creek, and possibly Hugh Crawford, though it is not
likely that he was then here as a settler, and if he

1 Dunlnp bad certuioty been located liore before 1750, as bis place is
mentioned in Burd's juurnol in that year. And it is bnrdly likr-ty tluit
lie would have come hero after 1754 and before 1759, as tlic French were
then in undisputed possession of the cunulry, and \i9ed it wlmlly fur
tbvir own purposes.

was his location at that time is unknown. There
were some settlements then on the Monongahehi, as
is shown by De Villiers' journal of his march back
from Fort Necessity to Fort du Qucsne. An entry,
dated July (5, 1754, reads, " I burned down the Han-
guard. We then embarked (on the Monongahela) ;
pa.ssing along, we burnt down all the settlements we
found, and about four o'clock I delivered my detach-
ment to M. de Contrecanir." But there is nothing to
show that any of the settlements so destroyed by
him were within the limits of the present county of

After the French had been d-iven from the head
of the Ohio by Forbes, and the English forts, Pitt
and Burd, had been erected in 1750, the country be-
came comparatively .safe for settlers, but some time
elapsed before the fugitives of 1754 began to return.

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 12 of 193)