Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 135 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 135 of 193)
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be seen when the water is low, upon which a great
many figures could plainly be seen until recently.
Of the indentations the rocks below Geneva are full
and perfectly formed. These are out of water during
most of the year, and are visited by many lovers of
the mysterious.

German is one of the nine original townships into
which the county was divided by the first court held
at Uniontown, Dec. 27, 1783.' The following bound-
aries were ordered by the court: " A township begin-
ning at Oliver Crawford's ferry ; tlience up tlie Monon-
gahela River to the mouth of Jacob's Creek ; thence up
said creek to the head branch thereof, where Michael
Franks, Sr., lives; thence to John Wait's; from thence
to Frederick Waltzer's ; thence to pass between James
Downer's and George Watson's, to include the three
first-mentioned persons, to the head of the west branch
of Jennings' Run ; thence by a straight line to the
head of the Burnt Cabin branch of Dunlap's Creek ;
thence down the same and the creek to the road that
leads from Uniontown to Oliver Crawford's ferry;
thence by said road to the beginning."

The townsiiip was settled largely by Germans,
hence the name given to it on its erection by the
court. Althougli at first a part of Springhill, its
early settlers were altogether diflerent in customs and
language from those of the former. According to
Withers, " Several families had settled on the Monon-
gahela, in what was once a part of German, as early
as 1767. Among these were John W. Provance,
Joseph G. Provance, and John Hardin," — a name
famous in Kentucky. Frederick Waltzer is said
to have been a very early comer also, but undoubt-
edly not so early as 1754, at which time he was
scarcely three years old. He died Dec. 21, 1834, aged
eighty-two years and three months. The oldest land
titles are those of Provance's, Gilmore's, and Kabb's,
viz. : John W. Provance, warrant dated Oct. 11, 1771 ;
surveyed March 10, 1772 ; number of acres, 347. Jo-
seph Yard Provance, warrant dated Oct. 11, 1771 ;
number of acres, 366 ; surveyed March 11, 1772. An-

' Bj- partition the townsiiip is nuich I

I the couuty, in addil

I organized.

drew Rabb, warrant dated ; number of acres,

203 ; surveyed July 11, 1771. Hugh Gilmore, warrant
dated ; surveyed 1770. Tliomas Moore, war-
rant dated Sept. 13, 1769. John Mason, date of war-
rant and survey and number of acres unknown. The
names of property holders in the territory then em-
braced in the township are indicated in the follow-
ing "Return of the Names of the Taxable Inhabit-
ants of German Township, together with their Taxable
property. Witness my hand this 10th day of August,
1785." Signed by the assessor, Jacob Rich, viz. :

Adir, John.
Artman, John.
Aryesinith, Samuel.
Alison, John.
Alexander, the S(

Anilrew?, John.
Alton, Mary.
Barktiinn, John.
Bnickbill, Jacob.
Barkinnn, Frederick
Brown, James.
Burns, Andrew.
Beard, John.
Baxter, William.
Balsinger, George.
Boyers, Philip.
Baker, Malachi.
Branbury, Conrad.
Berry, Thomas.
Bowmnn, Philip.
Baker, Philip.
Catt, John.
Chrisly, Michael.
Coojior, John.
Cullens. Henry.
Collens. John.
Coon, Philip.
Cnrncs, John.
Calt, George.
Carnes, Lewis.
Caner, Sebastin.
Catt, Michael.
Core, Henry.
Dawson, John.
Dawson, Charles.
Davison, Thomas.
Dulap, Robert.
Delcnger, George.
Debolt, George.
Eberly, Nicholas.
Easier, Jacob.
Easter, Jacob, Jr.
Eberly, Leonard.
Fleck, William.
Fcrst, Jacob.
Frame, Thomas.
Frame, William,
plough, Casper.
Franks, Jacob.
Franks, Michael.
Fast, Nicholas.
Gilmore, James.

Gilmorc, Matthew.
Gilleland. John.
Gilbert, Margaret.
Godhcrt, William.
Gilmore, Hugh.
Gordon, Robert.
Gilmore, William.
Galagher, John.
Hollingsworth, Jesse.
Hester, Jacob, Jr.
Huston, Andrew.
Hoglebery, George.
Hester, Jacob, Sr.
Uillicost, George.
Hainey, AVilliain.
Hillicost, Conrad.
Howard, Gideon.
Hibbs, William.
Huffman, John.
Hoover, Jacob.
Hester, .Martin.
Horber, Thomas.
Herman, John.
HilyarJ, Thomas.
Hchnick, Nicholas.
Harrison, Robert.
Harrison, John.
Heald, William.
Holly, Samuel,
Kindle, Reuben.
Kindle, Jared.

Leckey, John.
Lee, Rnndle.
Little, Adonijah.
Lee, Alexander.
Lawrence, Jacob.
Lesly, Thomas.
Lesly, John.
Myers, Elizabeth.
McClean, Robert.
Moss, Joseph.
Meets, Henry.
Mills, James.
McMulin, John.
M3-ers, Adam.
McWilliams, .Samuel.
McWilliams, John.
Messmore, John.
Meets, Jacob.
May, George.
Myers, Frederick.
Myers, Henry.


Myers. Andrew.

Smith, Godfrey.

.Mitter, llaviil.

Sellers, Christian.

fleets. Leonard.

S^rote, Joseph.


Stockwell, James.

-Mason. I'hilii,, Jr.

Stokely, Thomas.

JIve.s, John.

Shelby, Joshua.

Mason, Marian.

Shumaker, John.

-Mason, ^ieorge.

Shumaker, Adam.

JIason. John.

Sn.are, Michael.

Myens, Hannah.

Thompson, James.

Nicholas, Hostaler.

Teefilbough, Conrad

Kixon, Jonathan.

Shaley, Adam.

Owl, David.

Snodgrass, Charles.

Overfurf, John.

Yidman, Christian.

Overturf, Martin.

Vernor, John.

Oveitiirf. Valeniine.

Vert, Jacob.

Pitzar, Chrisly.

Vernor, -Martin.

Provance, Sarah.

Vernor, Leonard.

Peters, Catharine.

Vandeman, Henry.

Piluian, Jonathan.

Wilson, David.

Provance, Joseph.

AValser, Frederick.

Parker, Samuel.

Work, John.

Eiffle, George.

Wilson, Alexander.

Poss, Josei-a,.

Wilson, James.

Pemlcy, Henry.

Work, Henry.

Uioh, Jacob.

Whetiling, George.

Pubb, Andrew.

AVatson, John.

Kemly, Hieronomus.

Walser, Peter.

Robb, Samuel.

Walter, Ephraim.

Pobb, William.

Webb, John.

Koss, Robert.

W,df, George.

lludisii. Michael.

Wolf, Adam.

Pilllc, Matthias.

Weaver, Henry.

KiHle, Jacob.

Write, Benjamin.

.<hii.lar, John.

Isaac, Newman.


Joseph Sproat.

George Wolf.

John Work.

Adam Wolf.

Benjamin Kindle.

Joseph Gween.

(ieorge Hoffman.

Matthew Gilmore.

Godfrey Smith.

Black Will.

George n..over.

Samuel Hutcheson.

Jnhn McAVilliams.

Jeremiah Brooks. Gallagher.

Austin Moore.

Frederick Walser.

Alexander, the Sc

Henry Franks.


<;c..rge Delenger.

Nicholas Hostaler.

John Corns.

John Lasly.

Tavern-keepers are always persons of importance
in new settlements. The first individual recom-
mended to court as a person to cater to the
wants of the traveling public was John Boltenhouse,
at .Tune sessions, 1787. Licenses were subsequently
issued as follows : Philip Lawrence, Elijah Moore,
Jeremiah Davidson, September sessions, 1796 ; Zach-
ariah Wheat, June sessions, 1797 ; William McClel-
land, September sessions, 1798 ; David Schroyer,
September sessions, 1804 ; Henry Balsinger, Septem-
ber sessions, 1812; Aaron Maple, June sessions,
1805; Michael Kline, September sessions, 1805;
Frederick Struble, September sessions, 1806 ; James
Sangston, August sessions, 1807 ; John Grove,
Au-itst sessions, 1810; Elias Tarshall, November

sessions, 1810; George Balsinger, April sessions,
1812 ; David Auld, January se.ssions, 1813.

AVilliam McClelland kept in what is now McClel-
landtown for many years, as did also Frederick Struble.
David Schroyer, Zachariah Wheat, Aaron Maple,
James Sangston, John Grove in Germantown. Sang-
ston entertained travelers and sold whisky for the
long period of forty years. Messrs. Balsingers owned
the stand near where now stands Balsinger's school-
house, between McClellandtown and Uniontown.
David Auld's is now the residence of Mrs. Catharine
Hoover, on the Uniontown and Little Whitely Creek
road, south of Kabb's mill.

The only highways known to the primal inhabit-
ants were the cardinal points of the compass. The
geometrical roads were unobstructed by anything of
which they knew, and the traveler pursued the course
he desired to without asking. The earliest road
ordered by the court to pass through German was the
one from Uniontown to Rabb's mill, on Brown's Run ;
from thence to the Monongahela River, at the mouth
of said run. The following is the order, dated 4th
Tuesday of December, 1783 :

"On the petition of divers inhabitants of the County of
Fayette, representing to the Court the great inconveniences
they labor under for want of a road from Uniontown to .Andrew's Mill upon Brown's Run, and from thence to the Mo-
nongahela River at the mouth of said Run, and praying that
the Court would a]>point six suitable men to view the ground
over which the said road is desired to pass, therefore considered
and ordered that Robert Harrison, John Huffman, Andrew
Rabh, Esq., Jacob Rich, John Messmore, and Daniel Culp do
view the ground over which the said road is desired to pass, and
if they, or any four of them, sec it necessary, that they lay out
a road the nearest and best way the ground will admit of, and
make report of their proceedings therein by course and dis-
tance to the next Court."

At the same court an order was issued for laying
out a road to connect with Hyde's Ferry road. Mr.
Veech, in writing of this road, says, " It came from
the Ten-Mile settlement through Greene County,
crossing the creek at Hyde's Ferry or the mouth of
Big Whitely Creek, passing by the south side of
Masontown through Haydentown, or by David John's
mill, up Laurel Hill, through Sandy Creek settle-
ment, to Daniel McPeak's and into Virginia." The
road from John Gilliland's to Rabb's mill was ordered
to be laid out at September sessions, 1788, and Abra-
ham Stewart, John Allison, John Work, Hugh Gil-
more, Andrew Rabb, and John Gallaher appointed
viewers. This road is the one known as the McClel-
landtown road at this day. Mr. Abraham Stewart,
appointed one of the viewers, was very greatly inter-
ested in this road, as it crossed his farm from east to
west, he residing at that time and owning the farm
now in possession of James Parshall, just out of
McClellandtown to the east. The road from Ger-
mantown to the mouth of Catt's Run was also or-
dered, and Andrew Long, James Thompson, William
Rabb, James Wilson, -\udrew Work, and John Leckey



appointed viewers. There are now ninety miles of
road in the township, according to the survey of the
supervisors. "The Luzerne Road Law" was ex-
tended by the State Legislature so as to apply to Ger-
man in 1871-72.

There are no macadamized roads nor railroads in
the township. The " big roads" are used by all classes
for reaching markets or traveling. The Baltimore
and Ohio Railroad had a 'route surveyed by Jonathan
Knight nearly fifty years ago, down the main branch
of Brown's Run to a point on the Monongahela River
opposite the mouth of Little Whitely Creek, in
Greene County. Short-sighted people and politicians
refused the right of way, and forced the road through
the wilds of West Virginia. Upon a vote taken for
and against granting the right of way through Fay-
ette County there were but two votes in favor of it
cast in German (cast by Jacob Newcomer and John
Haney). Two other routes have been surveyed in
the past few years, viz., the Uniontown and Catt's
Run, and Pittsburgh, Virginia and Charleston Rail-

The Monongahela has been the great natural out-
let for the Western country from a very early date,
and since the era of steamboats and slack-water navi-
gation has become still more important. Three ferries
connect German with Greene County, — Brown's, at
Middle Run ; McCann's, at or near Little Whitely
Creek ; and McLain's, west of Masontown.

The earliest saw- and grist-mills were built by
Messrs. Gilmore, Work, and Rabb. They were taxed
on this class of property as early as 1785, but had
been engaged in distilling several years previous.
Their whisky, " Monongahela, Pure Rye," had even
then gained for itself lasting fame. The flour made
at their mills was of two kinds, wheat and rye. The
practice of eating rye bread prevailed until within the
last few years, and does even yet in some localities.
There was no home market for flour, and to reach the
New Orleans market (the only paying one) caused
Rabb to engage in keel-boat building in connection
with others. The boats were annually loaded with I
whisky and flour and sent down the Ohio and Mis-
sissippi. The early mills were generally upon creeks,
but after a few years several were built upon the river, |
and to distinguish them from those upon the creeks
were denominated " river mills." This class of mills
have been superseded by steam-mills, except far up
the Monongahela and on its Virginia tributaries.

The first to apply steam motive-power to mills was
the venerable John Debolt, who still lives to see the
wonderful progress of the age. The engine cost $900 in
Brownsville, and was bought of Cuthbertson & Roe,
in 183.3. Flour, except for home consumption, is no
longer made by the country mills. For the purpose
of supplying the people of the township with flour
the following-named persons have mills : Jacob John-
son, on Middle Run, steam-mill, with saw attached;

Joseph Mack, on Brown's Run, steam-mill, saw at-
tached ; Joseph Galley, on Brown's Run, water-mill,
saw attached; Gilmore Brothers, on Brown's Run,
water-mill, saw-mill attached. The ruins of old mills
and still-houses are found in many localities. Of saw-
mills there are in the township those of John D. Rider,
Brown's Run, water-power ; Isaac N. Hague, portable,
Catt's Run; Ephraim Sterling, saw- and planing-mill
on Monongahela River, do considerable business. On
Catt's Run John Mason had a mill built at an early
day. He sold to Simon Yandes. The Yandeses built a
still-house, and in turn sold to David Johnson, better
known as " Davy Yawnse, or Yonts." He added an
oil- and carding-mill. Nothing remains but the
crushers of the oil-mill.

A Mr. Grool started a tannery in Germantown, at
or near the beginning of the present century. For
many years an excellent quality of leather was man-
ufactured. The yard passing through many hands
has finally become the property of Josiah S. Alle-
baugh. A Mr. John McKean, of McClellandtown,
also manufactured some forty years ago. The only
person engaged in the business now is Mr. Leonard
Sapper, and he only in a small way.

John Debolt started a pottery in Masontown in
1823. The ware made was of an inferior quality in
comparison with that made now, but answered every
purpose in its day. Salt was made by the "Silver
Oil Company" at their works east of Masontown in
1866-69, but bad management or other causes ruined
the enterprise. The year 1881 has found German
where it started in manufacturing whisky first. Dun-
levy, Rabb's distiller, succeeded in getting a yield of
two and three-eighths gallons per bushel, and refused
to impart his secret. This made Rabb a fortune. At
one time twenty-seven stills were running in Ger-
man. The mash was from three to twenty-five bush-
els, or according to the capacity of the still or wealth
of distiller. Sylvanus T. Gray, the only manufacturer
in German, now produces daily more than all these
old distillers combined. His works are on Catt's Run.
In conversation with the proprietor, in presence of
United States officials, he said, " The yearly consump-
tion of grain was thirty thousand bushels ;" average
yield per bushel, three and one-half gallons. Ac-
cording to the above data, there are produced per year
105,000 gallons, amounting to §141,750.

A new enterprise is being developed in German.
Mr. Enoch F. Brown has erected the necessary works
for the manufacture of cement on his premises near
the mouth of Brown's Run. The first kiln burnt was
drawn July 16, 1879, and the enterprise promises

Many years back in the history of Fayette County
a Mr. Baker manufiictured guns, making all the dif-
ferent parts from the raw material. His shop and
premises are now in possession of Philip Kefover's
heirs in Nicholson township, formerly German.
Many of the early adventurers who crossed the Al-



leghenies in 1767, '68, '69, and '70 located perma-
nently in what was afterwards erected into the town- !
ship of German. Among the number were the
Provances, Gil mores, McLains, Fasts, Yeagers, and
"Walters in the southern portion of the township, near
the Alonongahela River, and north of Jacob's Creek ;
in the central part, Waltzers, Messmores, Rabbs, and
Antils, on the waters of Brown's Run ; in the ex-
treme northwest were the McKibbins, Moores, Craw-
fords, Sprotes, and a few families of less note. These
pioneer citizens of original German were nearly all
included in the portions annexed to Luzerne in 1820
and 1821, and still later by the act organizing Nichol-
son township in 1845. The few remaining of the first
settlers were the Moores, Rabbs, and Gilmores, after
the partitions mentioned. The tide of emigration
was almost entirely checked by the Indian troubles
between 1774 and 1780, and it was not until 1780 that
it again set in. In 1783 one hundred and seventy-
eight taxables were returned by the assessor. Of this
very great number a few have risen to a prominence
which entitles them to notice, viz.: the Wilsons, Hos-
tellers, Kendalls, Franks, Messmores, Riffles, Sprotes,
and Eberlies (now written Everly).

The Franks (or Frankes now) were of French ori-
gin. The Frank mentioned (Jacob) was born in 1743.
He came to Baltimore, Md., when eighteen years of
age, with his father, Michael Frank, Sr. After serving
his apprenticeship he married a Miss Barbara Brande-
berry, emigrated to Western Pennsylvania, and pur-
chased a large tract of land near High House village,
which is called " Frankston." He was prominent in
organizing the "Old Dutch Church" in 1785 and 1793.
In 1802 lie died, leaving a large family. The descend-
ants are scattered over the Western States, and a large
branch in West Virginia. The most prominent rep-
resentative of the family in Fayette County is the
present honest and efficient treasurer, Michael Franks,
formerly of Nicholson township, but now of Union-
town. In Ohio they have a regular family convention
or reunion annually in August.

Of the early life of Nicholas Hostetler little is
known except that he was of German descent. He
and his descendants were and are hard-working men
and women, and embrace many of the best citizens
of German township. In addition to their love of
hard labor, their fondness for music is characteristic.
The celebrated Hostetler blind family are descendants
of Nicholas, and children of Daniel Hostetler and
Mary Giljbons, who were married nearly sixty years
ago. There was nothing unusual in their marriage,
except their being first cousins. Their future was as
yet unraveled, and time brought them eight children,
— five girls and three boys. Of these, two boys and
a girl were born absolutely eyeless, and a boy and a
girl with but one eye each. Nature, to compensate
for her parsimoniousness in withholding sight, gave
great musical talents, and from tender infancy these
afflicted ones have been the wonder of the land. Thev

are first-class composers as well as excellent perform-
ers on the organ, violin, and other instruments. Their
names are John, born Jan. 25, 1829 ; Catharine, Feb.
15, 1835; Bartholomew, April 21, 1845 (these three
were born eyeless) ; Samuel, born Nov. 12, 1842, was
born with one eye, but he has since become totally

James Wilson was born in Lancaster County, Pa.,
1764, and came to Fayette County when twelve years
of age. He was married twice, his first wife being a
Miss Mary Babb. born 1777 ; the second Miss Elizabeth
Lowrie, or Lowry. He was a large landholder, living
upon his estate near McClellandtown, on the Morgan-
town and Brownsville road, until the day of his death.
The family he had by his two wives are many of them
living, some in their native township, German, some
in Indiana, and other western States. James Wilson
was one of the early justices of German, succeeding
his father-in-law, Andrew Rabb. He served from
1807 till near 1840, when he became paralyzed. He
was unable to articulate for nearly four years before
his death. Several of his first wife's children — Dr.
William Wilson, Andrew Wilson, andSarah Yandes —
reside in Indiana. John Wilson, Esq., of German, is
a son by the second marriage. He has served as jus-
tice of the peace, and is one of the most upright and
useful citizens of the township. Mrs. Eleazer Robin-
son, of Uniontown, is also a daughter of James Wil-
son. Rev. Alexander Wilson and Dr. William L. S.
Wilson, of Washington County, are grandsons.

John Messmore was a Swiss by birth, but emigrated
to the British colonies at an early day. During the
war for independence he was a teamster in the Con-
tinental army under Washington. After the time of
his service had expired he came West, not with the
intention of remaining, but meeting many Germans
here he was induced to stay. He raised a large family
of children, many of whom became in later years use-
ful and solid citizens. Squire George Messmore,
born in 1791, was an honored citizen of German town-
ship. He served one term as justice while residing
where Joseph Mack now does on Brown's Run. He
then sold and moved to the State of Ohio, and located
in Wayne County, where he continued to reside until
his death, March 28, 1878. His son is now sherirt"of
the county in which his father died. From the same
forefather is ex-Sheriff Isaac Messmore, of Union-
town. He was elected from Luzerne, but was born
and reared in German township. He removed to
Luzerne in 18.54. Ex-Justice of the Peace John
Messmore, also of Uniontown, is his brother. While
a citizen of German he was twice elected justice of the

Joseph Sprote was an old Revolutionary soldier,
entering the service at the age of seventeen, as he said,
" without much reflection, but afterwards repented at
leisure." He resided southwest of New Salem until
the year of his decease. His daughter Ann married
Asbury Struble, Esq., of German ; Margaret married



a Mr. Thompson; another married Mr. John Huston,
of Greene County. Joseph S. Struble and Mrs. Sarah
J. Hellen, of Uniontown, are grandchildren of Joseph

Jacob Eberly, or Everly, was an honest Dutchman,
very piously inclined. He was a consistent member
of the " Dutch Church" in German township, the pat-
ent for the glebe having been granted to him and

Jacob Riffle was a quiet, peaceable man. His tal-
ents were not showy but solid. His house was the
polling-place where three townships met for many
years. His descendants have inherited his estate,
with much of his character. They are honest, hard-
working, and economical, and several of them have
filled township offices with credit to themselves.

Daniel Yandes, Jr. was a son of Daniel Yandes,
who owned the property of the late Nicholas Johnson,
and called by John Mason " East Abington." Daniel
Yandes, Jr., married Sarah Wilson, a daughter of
James Wilson, Esq. He sold his farm to David
Johnson (known to Fayette County people as "Davy
Yawnse") and moved to Indiana, near Indianapolis,
in 1823. He became very wealthy, and during the
Kansas-Nebraska excitement organized a company in
the interest of the Free State party. The Yandes are
now prominent citizens of Indiana.

Jeremiah Kendall, a justice of the peace for German
township, was a son of William Kendall, who emi-
grated to Fauquier County, Va., from England.
Young Kendall was Washington's secretary during
the Revolutionary war, and received a wound at tlie
Brandywine battle. After the war he married a Miss
Rhoda Mclntyre and came to Fayette County. He
moved into a house belonging to Hugh Gilmore, the
elder, north of Middle Run. After a short time had
elapsed he purchased a large tract of land on Brown's
Run, southeast of where McClellandtown now stands.
He engaged in agriculture and distilling, in which
he succeeded financially. He left a large family of
children to inherit his estate. Jeremiah, Jr., took
the home-place, and at his death left it to his sons
and daughters. Isaac P. and John C. Kendall own
the homestead, and are the only descendants of the
male line in German. Mrs. Jane Deffenbaugh, Mrs.
Rhoda Reppert, and Mrs. Jacob Dawson are grand-
daughters. The oldest son of Jeremiah Kendall, Sr.,
emigrated to Ohio about 1820. The " White Sewing-
Machine Company," of Cleveland, Ohio, is largely
owned by members of this branch of his descendants.
Hon. David Gilmore was born near the Mononga-
hela River, in German township, in 1786. He was a

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 135 of 193)