Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 126 of 193)
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ricklow died in 1802, and Joseph Oglevee in 1835. In
their day one of the scarcest articles of use was salt,
and to get it there was no way save by a trip eastward
over the mountains. The salt wells of the West were
then undiscovered treasures, and as salt must be had
at all hazards, tlie juoneersat intervals made long and
tiresome journeys for supplies of the needed article.
The fiiU of the year was customarily the season when
these salt trips were made, and according to previous
understanding, a halfdozen or more settlers would
set out together on horseback, and thus sociably and



safely get to market, bringing back upon their horses
not only salt but other necessities required in the line
of jn-ovisions. Joseph Oglevee built a saw-mill on
Dickinson's Run in 1792, and sold it to Alexander
Moreland, who set up a nail-making shop. More-
land was bought out by Joseph McCoy, who, upon
the same site, established a sickle-factory.

James and Samuel Rankin were among the first
settlers in Franklin. James wished to buy land of
Col. Isaac Meason, and at an appointed time met
Col. Meason at Mount Braddock for the purpose of
visiting Franklin on a tour of inspection. While
en mute Rankin remarked to Col. Meason upon his
overcoat, which was an inordinately shabby one,
"Colonel, I am amazed to find that a man owning as
much land as you do will content himself with such
a desperately ragged overcoat." " The coat is well
enough," returned Col. Meason, " for, although ragged,
it keeps out the rain pretty well, while fin- its looks
I care nothing." W'len they were about closing
the sale of the land, and while the deed was awaiting
Col. Meason's signature, he suddenly halted, and
turning to Rankin, said, " I don't know about signing
tliis deed after all. I believe I have sold you the
land too cheap, and upon reflection conclude that I
will sign the deed only upon condition that you give
me your overcoat, which I see is a new and excellent
one, in exchange for mine, which, as you rightly
observed yesterday, is old and ragged." Rankin saw
he was caught, but he was eager to own the land, and,
what was more, Meason knew that too. He hated to
yield in the matter, his inclination prompting him to
break off the trade then and there, but he fancied
the property vastly, and so, with rather bad grace,
accepted the alternative, remarking as he did so,
"The next time I buy land of a man in a ragged
coat I'll keep my mouth shut until I've concluded
the bargain." Meason was much pleased at what he
declared an excellent joke, and by way of emphasiz-
ing his appreciation remarked to Rankin at parting,
" J\ly dear friend, I wonder that a man with as much
money as you have will wear such a ragged coat."
The Rankins lived in a community of practical jokers,
and were themselves keenly alive to the spirit of
harmless fun. So general was this mania for jjracti-
cal joking that no opportunity was lost by any of
the jokers for oft'ering up a victim to ridicule.

Among them all, the Rankins, and especially
"Sammy" Rankin, were considered the most invet-
erate jokers of the period. Many a good story is still
told of Sammy and the manner in which he used to
sacrifice his neighbors, who as often sought to get
even with him by returning the compliment, although
Sammy was termed "smart enough to hold his own
and more too." For that reason it was exceedingly
gratifying to his many friends if they could get the
laugh on him. As a case in point it is told that
Sammy, while iiroceeding to town one cold morning,
mot Andrew Wiley trudging along on foot, carrying '

in his hand a jug that looked very much as if it
held whisky. Whisky in jugs was then as common
in the land as the most devoted tippler could desire,
and it was most natural and reasonable on Sammy's
part to suppose that Wiley's jug contained whisky.
It was equally natural and reasonable for him to con-
clude that a drink of whisky on a cold morning as
the one in question would be proper and consoling.
So after greeting Wiley cheerily, and receiving the
same in return, Sammy exclaimed, " Well, Wiley,
this is a pretty sharp morning, and as you've got a
jug of whisky I will be glad to take a drink with you."
Wiley owed Sammy one on the last time he had
been made a victim, and to that moment had pined
for an opportunity to repay the joker. As will be
seen, his chance had come. Lifting the jug to
Sammy's hand, remarking that it was a cold morning,
that a drink was a good thing at such a time, and
that the jug held as good whisky as was ever made,
he bade Sam drink heartily. Thus invited and en-
couraged Ijy ^\'il( y's hospitality, his own desire as
well, S:i:iniiy :'p|ili(Ml his mouth to that of the jug
and drank. Tin ilrink was, however, a shortone, and
was followed Ijy tiie violent dashing of the jug upon
the ground, and the excited exclamation from Sammy
of "Great heavens, AViley, it's soft soap!" Splut-
tering and coughing to free his mouth of the nauseous
mess, he was inclined to be angry with the author of
the mishap, but better judgment prevailed, until, like
a philosopher, be laughingly declared to Wiley,
"Well, old fellow, you got me that time, but it's a
long lane that has no turn : I'll pay you off yet."
Wiley laughed and bade good-by to Sammy by in-
viting him to meet him again some day for another
drink, and advising him to look sharp if he desired
to pay off the score. Whether Sammy did or did not
pay oflfthe score does not appear among the uhroni-
cles of the time, but the popular conclusion is that if
he attempted it he succeeded.

Thomas Dunn is said to have located in Franklin
some time during the progress of the Revolutionary
war. He took up a farm coutaining four hundred and
thirty-two acres, of which original tract his grandson
Thomas owns three hundred and thirty acres. Mr.
Dunn and his wife were hardy pioneers in every
sense of the word, and without waiting to build a
dwelling-house, they made their home in a stable for
a year after their arrival. Time was precious, they
were ambitious to get a portion of their land cleared
and a crop in, and so when the stable was up they
said, " We will defer the building of our cabin, since
we have a more pressing necessity to clear and culti-
vate our land, and until we can spare the time to
erect a better one we will make our home under the
same roof that shelters our cattle." When Dunn put
up his cabin the following year he built also a wagon-
shop, as he was by trade a wheelwright, continuing the
business until his death, which occurred in 1800.
Four years before his death he replaced the log cabin



with the stone house now occupied by his grandson,
Thomas Dunn. Of his twelve children seven were j
sons, and of these all but two removed early in life to
Ohio, pioneers of that State. John and Samuel, the
two who remained upon the old farm, worked it to-
gether for several years, when Samuel got the Western
fever, and selling his interest in the homestead to
John, he too emigrated to Ohio. John ended his
days in Franklin. He had but two sons, Robert and
Tliomas, in a family of eight ehilclren. Robert moved
to Kansas and there died, while Thomas still lives
upon the farm that his grandfather cleared more than
a hundred years ago. He says he was left upon the
place to keep the name of Dunn alive, and adds, " I
rather guess I have made a good start in that direc-
tion, for I have had eleven children born to me."
One of his daughters, Harriet, was accidentally killed
in 1S70. Driving to church with her brother one
Sunthiy morning a halt was made at a neighbor's, and
the brotlier alighted for a moment from the carriage.
As he did so tlie horse, a high-spirited colt, dashed
madly away, the young lady being thrown out and
almost instantly killed.

The JfrLeans (two brothers) were great land-owners
in Franklin, and were well known by all the people.
Land was cheap in those days, and to own a farm of
three or four hundred acres did not call for an espe-
cially liberal outlay of funds. Stories are told of
farms being frequently bartered for dogs, guns, or
horses, one gun sometimes proving enough of the
]iurchase price to secure a large tract of land. Robert
McLean had plenty of land, and that he did not value
it very highly is ^hown by the following story: He
met a man traveling through Franklin, and noticing
the fellow's dejected appearance, inquired if he was
in trouble. The man replied that he had been unfor-
tunate, was poor, and did not know how he could
better his condition. Promiited by a sudden and
charitalib/ ni-itivc, ^McLean said to him, "See here,
my man. I'll (//'/ v yon a farm and |iut you in shape to
earn a living if you will mount that stump and cry
as hard as yon can." The man thought of course that
McLean was joking, but upon being assured that he
was truly in earnest, and that the farm would be his
if he com]ilied, he mounted the stump and rrii-l like
a good fellow. In return, as the story is told, he was
given the farm, and became prosperous and successful

One of the early mills in Franklin was Cullen's
grist-mill on the Redstone, near where Bute's Run
fliws into the former stream. Cullen was an accom-
mo iating miller, as the following will show.

Old Mr. Gilchrist set out one morning for Cullen's
mill, and as he passed the house of a Mr. Ramsey was
hailed by the latter with "Hold on, Gilchrist, I'm
going to mill with a grist, and will bear you coni-
jiany." Both journeyed along upon their horses until
they had arrived to within a mile or so of the mill,
when Ramsey suddenly clasped his hands together in

despair and cried out, " God bless me, Gilchrist, if I
haven't forgotten my grist. I stayed up last night to
shell two bushels of corn for the mill-trip, and now
I've come away and left it behind." With that he
fell to berating himself for having been so absent-
minded. Gilchrist consoled him with the suggestion
that perhaps he could borrow at the mill what corn-
meal he wanted, and take the corn down some other
time. To this proposition Ramsey would listen only
upon the condition that Gilchrist should say nothing
about the matter to Jimmy Rankin, " for," added he,
"if Jimmy gets hold of the story there'll be no end
of the fun he'll have at my expense." The promise
was given, the corn-meal was obtained as suggested,
and the matter adjusted satisfactorily to all parties.
The following Sunday, at church services, Ramsey
and Jimmy Rankin met during the nooning hour,
and Jimmy, broaching the subject of dry weather, re-
marked that such weather was very bad for the mills.
" Oh, yes," continued he, as Ramsey began to grow, "where do you get your milling done now'?''
Ramsey, feeling sure that Jimmy had heard about the
corn, determined not to give up the secret himself,
and pretended not to have heard the inquiry, but at
once began talking of the probable bad effect of the
dry weather upon crops. " Yes, yes,"'put in Jimmy,
loud enough for all to hear, "they tell me Cullen's
mill is a fine mill, and that Cullen himself is a fine
man. They say you can get your filled there
whether you bring any grist or not." With " Damn
ye ! old Gilchrist has been blowing on me," Ramsey
fled, and for some time after heard the story at every
turn, from Jimmy Rankin's persevering purpose to
"get a good rig on Ramsey."

Another early mill was the one built by Jonathan
Hill, about 17!ii), on Redstone Creek, on the site now
occupied by Samuel Smock. Mr. Hill sold the mill
to Jonathan Sharpless in 1810 and moved to Virginia,
where he died. Mr. Sharple-ss was conspicuous in the
history of Fayette County for having, with Samuel
Jackson, built on the Redstone the first paper-mill
known west of the mountains.^ He located in Frank-
lin not long after the year 1800, and in 1810 was driv-
ing a grist-mill, saw-mill, sickle-factory, and fulling-
mill, which amount of business was, for those days,
very extensive. There he lived until his death, about
1860, at the age of more than ninety years. Joseph
Jordan was his nearest neighbor, and lived upon an
adjoining tract, where Samuel Jobes now resides.
Samuel Jiibes (whose father, John, was an early settler
ill Redstone township) came to Franklin in 1840.
John Lewis, a Methodist preacher and a tanner,
moved from Baltimore to Connellsville in 1790, and
at the latter place established a tan-yard. Having
bad luck in his business afl'airs he moved to a farm in
Dunbar town hip, afterwards to Franklin, and later
to Plumsock, in Menallen township. He died at the

1 Seo liistory of JeCferson township.



age of ninety-three, upon the farm in Franklin now
occupied by Joseph Lewis, and then by "Squire" Na-
than Lewis. Nathan Lewis, just named, was a son of
John Lewis, and for more tlian twenty years was a
justice of the peace at Plumsock, where he was long
a figure in local history. He died on his Franklin
farm in 1875, aged eighty-four. Two of his brothers,
John and Samuel, moved to the far West. James,
another brother, built a pottery in Plumsock in 1822,
conducting that business for twelve years, after which
his son Nathan succeeded him in it for fifteen years
longer. James Lewis died in 1872, aged eighty-two.
His wife was a daughter of Arthur Wharton, himself
oneof the pioneers of Menallen, as well as an early
settler upon the land now owned and occupied by
his grandson, Nathan Lewis. All of Wharton's sons
moved to Ohio. Resin Virgin, Jacob Wolf, Elisha
Pears, the Gillilands, McVays, Whetsels, Cooks,
Abrahams, Pattersons, Works, Junks, and Rossels
were concerned in the early settlement of Franklin,
but the majority of them have to-day no descendants
of their names in the township.

Although John Bute did not come until 1813, he
was very active in pioneer history. He bought on
Bute's Run a farm lying upon the State road. The
land had been patented in 1789 by P^lisha Pears,
who later disposed of it at public sale. David
Veach, the purchaser, met John Bute at Plumsock
while en route from the place of sale, and Bute being
anxious to own some land bought the Pears place of
Veach then and there. Bute, who had been keeping
tavern at Plumsock, moved to Franklin without much
delay and became a farmer. In 1829 he built a saw-
mill and grist-mill on Bute's Run, and in 1857 died
on the old Pears farm. Ten of his twelve children
were sons, and all became settlers in Franklin. Cy-
rus, one of the sons, carried on the mill, and had
also a small store there. The last owner of the mill
was a Mr. Madison. Eight of John Bute's sons set-
tled eventually in the far West. The ninth died in
Franklin, and the tenth, Mr. Joseph Bute, now lives
in the township, upon a farm that was occupied before
1800 by Andrew Arnold. Mr. Bute located upon the
place in 1837. It was warranted April .3, 17G9, by
Joseph Snivelv, and by him conveyed to Resin Vir-
gin, July 3, 1771. Jan. 24, 1786, Virgin deeded it
to Andrew Arnold. Mr. Bute's first education was
obtained in Thornbottom District in 1816, at the
hands of James Adair, a somewhat famous peda-
gogue, who taught in Thornbottom District fully ten
years. He made a bargain to teach school there at
ten dollars annually for each scholar, all the pay to
be taken in produce, and bound himself to have at
no time more than thirty scholars, aside from his own
children and " poor scholars."

Thomas Townsend, a Quaker, settled west of the
Monongahela, near Geneva, in 1770. From there he
wentona trading expedition to the Territory of Ohio.
Wliile making his return trip he and his companions.

McKnight and Colson, were surprised while en-
camped, by Delaware Indians and put to death. Of
his sons, Aaron located in Franklin township in 1823,
in the vicinity of what is now known as Flatwoods
post-office. He was a carpenter and joiner, and fol-
lowed his trade at Flatwoods for many years. He
died at the age of eighty. Aaron Townsend's son
John opened a store at Flatwoods in 1846, and con-
tinued in the business until 1861, when he sold out
to Daniel Binns. In 1864, Binns disposed of his
interests to P. P. Murphy and John Townsend, who
have been the traders at Flatwoods since that time.
Flatwoods post-office was established in 1842. John
Townsend was postmaster until 1801, Daniel Binns
from 1861 to 1864, and P. P. Jlurphy from 1864 to
1881. Mail is received three times a week from
East Liberty.

William Craig settled in Franklin at an early day,
near the Dunbar line, and in what is now called the
Craig neighborhood. His sons were John, William,
Samuel, James, Allen, and Thomas. Those now
living are William, who lives in Illinois, and John,
whose home is in Dunbar. John Craig was for many
years a blacksmith at Laurel Hill, having bought of
Thomas White a shop that White had set up years
before on the town line road. Solomon (Uirry set-
tled near the Craigs, upon land he purchased of John
Wiley. Mr. Curry died in 1857, at the advanced age
of one hundred and one. His three children were
named Mary Ann, James, and John. John was ac-
cidentally killed in a saw-mill in 1877. James and
Mary Ann are still living. John Graham, one of the
early comers to the county, arranged a lottery draw-
ing in Franklin township in 1814, but what the
lottery was for, or why it was instituted, are points
upon which there appears to he no light. A news-
paper advertisement in 1814 contains the following
information touching the subject: "The subscriber
informs the public that the drawing of his lottery is
unavoidably postponed to Tuesday, the 27th inst.,
on which day it will positively be drawn at the house
of William Craig, in Franklin township, near Laurel
Hill Jleeting-house, under the direction of gentlemen
of unquestioned character." Signed by John Gra-
ham, and dated " Union, September 7, 1814."

As long ago as the year ISOO there was in Franklin
township, on the Youghiogheny, at the mouth of
Furnace Run, a small village called Little Falls, the
village being made up of a furnace, forge, a grist-
mill, saw-mill, store, and workmen's dwellings. The
forge known as the Franklin Iron-Works was built
by George Lamb, and by him sold to Nathaniel Gib-
son, who was a man of considerable business capacity
and liberal enterprise. He built a furnace at Little
Falls, intending to make iron for his forge from the
ore in that neigliborhood, but a few experiments con-
vinced him that the ore would not make such iron as
he wanted, and he was forced to abandon the project.
Mr. Gibson built for his residence a fine stone dwell-



ing, which was long known as the Mansion House. I
He ohtained his pig-metal from the Connellsville
Furnace, and shipped his bar iron down the river in
keel-boats. About 1825, Mr. Gibson dis|)osed of the
works, including the mills, Mansion House, etc., to
F. H. Oliphant. Oliphant's successors were Milten-
berger & Brown, who carried on the business until
1839, when they closed it and ended thehistory of the
village of Little Falls, for the villagers, being simply
laborers at the works, moved away, the store was
sold, and such portions of the works as could not be
utilized allowed to fall into decay. The stone liouse
built liy Nathaniel Gibson is now occupied by James

The ■


i"iiial surveys of lands in Franklin give tin

■iginal land-owners, as folh

r.l A,.,,lf

Richard Smith

J. C. and T. Town


MatthcM ■\Viilly..

John AVillev

Samuel Wo.k

Daniel Wetzel

George Wet-.d

Jiunes ratici.'on..

Jacob SnivelT HM)

Samuel Stephens 59+

William Sparks 346

Jonathan Sbarpless 35

John Sbotwell Ififi

Robert Smith 132

William Tinsley 4li0

Joseph Torrence..

,er Wi

.... 42(>
n.... 17S


Joseph Wetzel..
John Wilkin....
Daniel Young...

Following ai
Franklin in 17


veu the names of the tax-payers of

Kli|,.hi;;utlet ,

Julin Brand ,

Joseph Barker (1 slave

Wm. Barker


Robert 1
A. S. li\
Allen B.

John r,;,rkei
John Bai Kei
James l;^e.

John Crn
John liM
Joshu:. 1
Ruben I
Jose].!. 1
Joel Ev:,
John Gi
Henry (i
John Ga
Jane Gil
David Gi
David II
John Ho

.Mar-nnt Hall 4IH

John Hall -JI.S

George Hunter il2J

Henry George oil

.■^lunuel Ji.ekson 2j:

Edward Jordon lUS

Josiah King 145

(;,.)r;;e Kin;; 1(15

,Ma,-;mt LMimoiC I'.I'.I

(ie.o-e l.viich i:;:;

]\,, \]:.,,. ' :v:.c,

Wi! • .,, M :. ■ ,1 1 aii7

•l.u, . - >; ' ; loii

l>,i i Ai 370i

IM' :i, ^ .! I i. MilU-r... 127

• I"!: -; . . 150

.1-: M , . 51

M i! .'.I V |. :, ,i I lOS

(h.ii.. - Ai, l.,,>i_i.lio 96

U.. i ^-.!c 176

.lai.»sXi,;|]ol 237

.Alaihew Xiely 12S

JuhnOglevee 334

H. F. Oliphant 370

lioli.-rt Pollock 2SS

Isaac Quick LSI

P.olH-rt Ross 325

llenjamin Ross 461

John Reed 31S

John hichey 170

Alexander Robeson l.'il

lothy Smith.




s Cues

el Clel




h Cooi



h Cui,

Daniel Cannoi
James Craig.,
John Carmict

Josiah U.cVor..
James Uiivis....
.Joshua Dickiiis.
Benoni Dowsi.n
Robert Dugan.
Z.achari.ah Davi
Thomas Dunn.
Thomas Dunn, ^
Wm. Danlap...
Adam Duulnp.;
AVm. Dickson...
Staff..rd Dieksoi
John Dunla,.. d
Thos. Espev


John Ilainn.ui..
Kich'J llMwk...
•\Vm. Il..lli,lav.

John Jlollis

Rubt. llu-liey

Joscpli Ilnll

Jas. Hunter

AiTliibnl.l .Iohns(.n....

Eclwiinl .lordan

John John

(Jeo. Lynch

Fnim-is Lewi?

Snml. Lyon (I shi,»e).

Patiiuk l.ogiin

John Lowrv, distiller.

Jacob Lvon

Alex. Mnrlin

David Mnrlin

AVin. Morlin

Thos. More (2 slaves)
Moses M.-IIaffy, di>ti:


John Mcx'wlM

Wm. Miller

Robl. Mintcer

Robt. Murphy

Franei- Malhes

Robt. McLon-hlin, di


Chas. May

Jas. Mitchell

Alex. McClcllan

John McClellan ( 1 sla
Jas. McCnruiicI;, mill
Alex. McWilliiuns....,

Danl McLean

Geo. MoCorn.ick

.las. Mcr;n<;

Widow McMillan

Isaac Mooncy

Wm. McCorniick

Tllos. Moore

Jos. Kilson

1 IIU 3

John Robi-..
Alex. Kobii
Wm. Robis,

il. Torrcnct

Matthew Wile
Thos. Welch...

I Ja.-. Wilkio....
l.anl. Young..

I J"^. Vonns

Jco. Yi


freemen in the township in ITSo were:

Jos. I'crry.
Renj. I'iMve
Jas. Patton
Jonathan 1'
Elisha, I'ier
David Park
John P;l^h

Jas. Allen...

Frciinan lia

1 Johu Arnulu


Paml. Diinlnp, distiller lUO

U^inl. Estell

AJL-x. Fuumnei-

Godfrey Johnson

Geo. .Jolinson

Jas. McCuruiifli

Will. xMcMullen

Dennis MeCarly

John Dugnn

Matthew Uiehey »0

Thus. White, distiller


Josiah Allen

John Lawson 2011

John Cummins

Thos. Guest (Ish,

In 1796 the
cattle, 721 ; si
$228,31 s, an.l t

In l<n. tin'

numbered 34,577 ; horses, 521 ;
19. The total valuation was
; quota t-3S0.52.

. 1 : distilleries
i:l. Tlie total
iliip's ijuota of

in Franklin numbered
21,077: t^r-f-. 1 : distilleries, 8; mills, 7; horses, 401;
al valuation was $160,518,
of county tax, $242.

Licenses were issued to tavern-keepers in Franklin
(between 1794 and 1808) as follows: Jacob Strickler,
September, 1794; William Rittenbouse, March, 1795; |
Arthur Hurry, September, 1795 ; Peter Kenny, Sep- i
tember, 1796 ; James Cunningham, December, 1796 ; !
Adam Dickey, September, 1797; John Rogers, Wil-
liam Morehouse, and John Fouzer, September, 1797 ;
Edmund Freeman, December, 1797 ; John Freeman,
September, 1798. 1


At the March sessions in 1795 report was made by
J<din ^IcClelland, Robert Adams, Jeremiah Pears,
Samuel Stevens, Joseph Torrance, and James Paiill,
on a road laid from Meason's furnace by Pears' forge
to the Redstone road. The road was described as
commencing at Isaac Meason's furnace, leading to
the forge built by Jeremiah and James Pears, and
thence " till it intersects the road leading from
L'niontown to Brownsville." September, 1794, a road
was viewed from Meason's iron-works to the mouth
of the Big Redstone by Robert McLaughlin, Daniel
Cannon, Matthew Neely, Jeremiah Pears, David
:\Ioreland, and Matthew Gilchrist. Also, in Decem-
ber, 1794, a road was viewed from Meason's furnace by

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 126 of 193)