Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 149 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 149 of 193)
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Ind. The only surviving member of David Bread-
ing's family is Maj. Clark Breading, who resides at
Uniontown, and at whose death, he having no male
issue, the name of Breading of this stock will become
extinct. Maj. Breading has a daughter, Mrs. Dr. O.
E. Newton, of Cincinnati, Ohio.

William Ewing, one of the early day eminent men
of Fayette County, was liorn May 19, 17(39, in Peach
Bottoms, York Co., Pn. He was the son of George
Ewing, who was a linitlicr nl' tlie Rev. Dr. John
Ewing, of Pliiladeliihia, a -ivat scholar and an able
minister of that ]ieriii(l, and lor many ycar^ profes-
sionally connected with the rnivcr>ity of I'rnn^yl-

tainments, ami was commissioned to run the southern
line of Pennsylvania.

William Ewin- who for some time n-idcd with
his uncle, Dr. John, and under hi- direction had made
considerable prcjgrcss in stndic-. inclnilin- that of
medicine, foUowinL!: hi- hrotlo r Nailianiil afterwards
of Vincennes, Ind.) and hi- two -i-ter-, ulio preceded
him by about two years, lelt ^■ork Connty. and came
as a surveyor into Fayclle ('onnty ahont !7',I0, wdien
he was about twenty-one yc.irs of a;je, and took up a
tract of land and Imilt thereon a lion,-c in which he
lived, and wdierein lie died in 1.S27.

He married, in 1791, Mary Conwell, daughter of
Jehu Conwell and Elizabetl'i Stokelcy (her family
l)erha|is coming from New Castle, Del.), a woman of
ereat s|iirit, natural talent, and energy. She became
the mother of a large family, widely scattered and
occupying influential positions in society. Their
children were Hon. George Ewing, born Feb. 27,
1797 (afterwards of Houston, Texas) ; Judge Nathan-
iel Ewing, born July 18, 1794, of Uniontown ; Hon.
John H. Ewing, born Oct. 5, 1796, of Wa.shington,
Pa. ; James, born April 18, 1807, of Dunlap's, Creek,
Pa.; Mrs. Elizabeth Breading, born July 9, 1799,
and Mrs. Maria Veech, born Aug. 22, 1811, of Ems-
worth ; Mrs. Ellen J. E. Wallace, born Jan. 2.3, 1819,
of Allegheny City; Mrs. Louisa Wilson, born March
8, 1802, of L^niontown; Mrs. Mary Ann Mason, born
Feb. 24, 1816, of Muscatine, Iowa; and Caroline, born
April 20, 1804, and who died in infancy.

William Ewing was one of the early settlers of the
Dunlap's Creek district, Fayette Co., together with
other of the now "old families" who came from York
and Lancaster Counties, — the Breadings, Con wells, ,
Crafts, Davidsons, Finleys, Hackneys, Peterses, Wil-



sons, — all associate names well known among the
early inhabitants, and in these times also.

William Ewing and his son, John H., of Washing-
ton, constructed the National road between Hills-
borough and Brownsville. He was appointed by the
Governor of the State a justice of the peace, and held
that ofBce with great credit to himself and satisfaction
to the public until the constitution of the State made
it elective.

He was a man of strong mind and excellent judg-
ment, together with great physical strength ; an active
and enterprising business man, who kept up close re-
lationships with the prominent characters of his day.
He was a Federalist in politics, and often took an
active part, especially in the Eoss and Jlclvean cam-
paign of 1800.

AVilliam Ewing died Oct. 21, 1827, of what perhaps
would now be called tyjihoid fever. He lies buried
in the Cunwcll t'aiiiily t;r;ivfyard, on the old homestead
iarni of Jehu C'lanvcU, and is remembered as one of
those substantial, honorable, public-spirited men of
whom the community was justly proud.

j to Rebecca J. Haney. Margaret J., married to Wil-

I liam H. Miller; Mary A., married to Oliver Miller.

I They have two children, Albert G. and Emma V.

Albert M., married to Alice Frey. They have one

child, Nellie.

The most of Alexander Gibson's active business
life was spent in farming and stock-dealing. He was
industrious, a good manager, and accumulated enough
property to give each of his children a fair start in
life. He never sought political preferment. He was
prompt to perform what he promised, and was highly
esteemed by his neighbors. He was eminently a man
of peace, and never had a lawsuit in his life. He was
for many years an active member of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, and his Christian life challenged
the respect of those who knew him. He died July
12, 1875, and his remains rest in the Hopewell Ceme-
tery. His wife, Mary, died Jan. 25, 1876.


The progenitor of the Gibsons of Luzerne town-
ship was one James Gibson, who migrated from Ire-
land in 1770, and located jn Chester County, Pa., and
engaged in farming. He followed his vocation until
1770, when he entered the Continental army and
served until the surrender of Cornwallis. After the
surrender he found that two of his brothers were
soldiers in the lUiti-^h army, bavin- been pressed into
the service \>y the mcther-euuntry. At the clnse of
the struggle they settled in ^'irgiuia, and their de-
scendants nearly all reside there. James Gibson's
home continued in Chester County until 1790, when
he emigrated to Southwestern Pennsylvania, and set-
tled upon a farm in Luzerne t<.wn-hi|i, wliei'e Iii- -on

now in possession of Mr. Oliver ililler. James Gib-
>oH was married to Margaret Lackey in 1792. They
liad six children, of whom Alexander, the subject of
this -ketch, was the third. He uasbmn June 8,1797.
His early life was spent up(ju hi- lalher- farm, and

received liis education in the cuntiy >, I Is of that

period. He began work for liini-eli' at the age of
twenty years, engaging in wagmiin,- from Wheeling to '
ISaltimore, and in 1>>2U changed his r<mte to and from
Baltimore to Nashville, Tenn. Here he, in company
with Levi Crawford, now living in Luzerne township,
spent two years trading with the Cherokee Indians.
In 1823 he returned to Pennsylvania, sold his team,
and purchased a farm. On the 24th of June, 1824,
he was married to Mary Hibbs, of Redstone township.
To them were horn six children, four of whom are
living, vi/. : Jaiiu- (i,, married tir-t to Mary Lodgers.
They had two eliihhen,— John A. and Mary R. Mary
died in 18ij:i. He was married again June 25, 1867,

The progenitor of the Coverts in the United States
was one Abraham Covert, who came from Holland
to the colonies about 1707. Of his family nothing is

j now known except that he had a sou Abraham, who
raised a family of eight children, — four sons and four
daughters. The sons were Abraham, Isaac, John,

i and Morris. These four sons in time became widely
separated. Abraham remained East, while the others
sought their fortunes in the West. John settled

I north of Pittsburgh. Morris first lived in New Jersey,
and there married a Miss Mary Mann. After his mar-
riage he moved to Col. Cresap's estate on the Potomac,
in the State of Maryland, where he resided some years.
About the year 1780 he moved to Fayette County, Pa.,

' and located about three miles west of Beesontown,
now Uniontown, where he purchased a farm of three
hundred acres for eight hundred and fifty dollars, on

! the old Fort road leading to Redstone Old Fort.
Here he lived and died, and raised a family of eleven
children, — six sons and five daughters. The oldest
son, Joseph, married Nancy Borer, of Harrison, Ohio,
where he lived and died. The second son, Abraham,
married C.ithariiie Black, and they removed to Har-
rison County, Ohio. The third son, John, married
Amy Doney, and lived on the Mouongahela River, in
Luzerne township, Fayette Co., and died in his ninety-
third year. The fourth sou, Morris, was an itinerant
Methodist preacher. He married Nancy Purcell, of
Chesapeake Bay, and died near Clarksburg, W. Va.,
aged about sixty years. Jesse, the youngest son,
married Henrietta Gibson ; resided principally in
Fayette County, Pa., and died at tlie age of fifty-five.
Benjamin Covert was born July 10, 1799, on the
old homestead, where he grew to manhood. He
married Abigail Randolph, and removing to Harrison
County, Ohio, in 1820, settled on the Stillwater, and
there resided until 1830. Two of his children, Rich-
ard and Marv, were born there. He next removed


en^'^ fo ^^'^■^




to a farm ou Short Creek, iu the same county. There
he remained three years, and there his youngest
daughter, Elizabeth, was born. He then moved to a
farm in Luzerne township, Fayette Co., Pa., which he
purchased from George Custer. It contained two
liundred and fourteen acres, and cost him two thou-
sand six hundred and fifty dollars. Here he has re-
sided for forty-eight years, doing good as the Lord
prospered him, "by helping to build churches in
the Bend and at the Landing, and sustaining the
ministers of his church, as well as contributing to the
support of others." He has been an ardent Meth-
odist 'for sixtv-four vears. His father and mother

were Methodists, as were also his brothers and sisters.
They are all dead, having lived and died meek and
humble Christians. He alone of the family survives,
in his eighty-third year.

His children are Richard, who resides on the old
homestead; Mary, married to D. H. Wakefield, of
Jefferson township, Fayette Co., Pa.; and Elizabeth,
married to Joshua Strickler, of Luzerne township.
With but little intermission he has held an office in
the church during the entire time of his membership.
His start in life was a strong constitution. He has
always been noted for his sobriety, indomitable energy,
frugality, and rectitude of purpose.


Menallen, one of the most prosperous agricultu-
ral townships of Fayette County, contained in June,
1880, a population of 1461. The assessment for 1881
gave the total valuation subject to county tax as
$626,827, a decline of $25,0-14 as compared with 1880.
The township is bounded by Redstone and Franklin
on the north, Georges, South Union, and German on
the south, Franklin, North Union, and South Union
on the east, and German and Redstone on the west.
Menallen has as yet no railway line, but that famed
highway known as the National road crosses it from
east to west, and is a great convenience to the people.
There are three small post-villages in the township,
— Upper Middletown (or Plumsock), on Redstone
Creek; New Salem, six miles westward therefrom ;
and Searight's, on the National road, five miles west-
ward from Uniontown. Mill streams are abundant.
Among them are Redstone Creek, Dunlap's Creek,
Jennings' Run, and Salt Lick Run. The surface of
the township is uneven. Coal and iron ore are found
in great quantities, but beyond supplying the wants
of home consumers do not contribute to local wealth,
for the reason that lack of railway transportational
facilities puts out of the question the matter of profit-
able mining operations. The valuable coal and iron
interests of Menallen, however, will soon be devel-
oped, as a result of the opening of the Redstone
Branch of the Pittsburgh, Virginia and Charleston
Railroad, which passes along the northeast border of
the township, and is now near completion.

Of the considerable number of settlers who were
found located in the Redstone Valley when the Rev.
John Steele made his tour of observation in this re-
gion, in the spring of 1768 (and whose names were

given by him in his report to the Governor on his
return east), it is not known which or how many of
tliem were settled within the territory that now forms
Menallen township, though there is no doubt that
some of them were living within its boundaries. A
very early settler, and not improbably the first within
the township of Menallen, was William Brown, who
came here in 1765. His children were Sarah, George,
Mary, James, Alexander, Alice, and John. The last
named (and youngest) is now living in Kansas, at
the age of ninety-six years. Little beyond this has
been ascertained of the history of this first settler,
William Brown. The tract ou which he settled is
now a farm owned (but not occupied in person)
by his great-grandson, Richard H. Brown, of Frank-
lin township. As early as the year 1765 the Rev.
James Finley, then living upon the Eastern Shore
of Maryland, came out through Southwestern Penn-
sylvania on a tour of exploration iu the service of the
church with which he labored, his missio-n being pre-
sumably to learn how the people of that region were
supplied with the means of religious worship. He
was accompanied on his journey (made on horseback)
by a Mr. Philip Tanner, a fuller by trade, whose ob-
ject in undertaking the excursion was the looking for
a favorable land location. This object had likewise
something to do with Mr. Finley's journey, for he
had a family of six sons, and he conceived the idea
that perhaps he might find for his boys a place where
they might grow up with a new country and lead a
life of independence. Mr. Finley is supposed to have
been the first minister of the gospel to penetrate west-
ward of the mountains for the purpose of spreading
the influences of religion among the inhabitants.
Army chaplains had been there before him, but they
could scarcely be classed in the same categorv. He



preached wherever he found a place and opportunity,
and returning to the same country subsequently on
similar expeditions in 1767, 1771, and 1772 became
well known. In 1771 he selected some lands lying
in Redstone and' Menallen townships, and in 1772
brought out his son Ebenezer, a lad of fourteen,
whom he intended to be trained in the hardy experi-
ence of a pioneer. With his son he brought also :i
few negro slaves and Samuel Fiiiley (not related to
the Rev. James), to the latter of whom he gave the
charge of the lands and the guardianship of young

The Rev. Mr. Finley himself never became a resident
of Fayette County. He lived in Maryland until 1783,
when he accepted a call to preach for a church in
Westmoreland County, Pa. There he remained in ^
charge of the congregation until his death in 1795. :
Ebenezer Finley grew to manhood and prospered. He ]
became an owner of much land in Redstone, German, 1
and Menallen townships, but had his home in Red- !
stone. A more extended reference to him will ac-
cordingly be found in the history of that township,
where he died in 1849, aged eighty-eight years. In
1826 his son, Ebenezer, Jr., moved into Menallen,
and settled upon some of his father's land. There
he still resides, hale and hearty, although nearing his
eightieth year. He and his excellent wife celebrated i
in 1876 the golden anniversary of their wedding, and '
on that occasion gathered within their hospitable
mansion friends, relatives, and children even from i
distant parts of the country. The reunion was a joy- '
ous and memorable one. Another son of Ebenezer
Finley the elder, living in Menallen on a portion of
the early Finley purchase, is Eli H., whose home is |
near the village of New Salem. There is an amusing
story told of the appearance of Rev. James Finley
and Philip Tanner in the Dunlap's Creek Valley.
It recites that Messrs. Finley and Tanner rode up to
the house of Capt. John Moore, of German township,
and upon their near approach were espied by Capt.
John's youthful son Aaron, who, running as fast as :
he could into the house, cried out almost breathlessly j
to his father, " Pap, pap, there be two great men out j
there. I know they're great men 'cause they've got
boots on." Evidently " men with boots on" must [
have been rare objects in that country at that day.

There were many of the Society of Friends among
the e;irly settlers dl' Menallen. They came from Vir-
ginia Slum alter the close of the Revolutionary war,
and in considerable numbers located in the neighbor-
hood of New Salem, in Menallen, German, and South
Union townships. Among them were James Sidwell,
Joseph Mendenhall, William Dickson, John Hack-
ney, Caleb Antram, Abraham Vail, John Woods, the
Campbells, and many others. At Sandy Hill, on
Jennings' Run, upon the road between New Salem j
and Uniontown, tlie (Quakers built at an early day I
(as early as 17S4, and jiorhaps before) a log meeting-
house, and laid out a graveyard. The meeting-house '

stood for many years, and was long a place where the
Friends assembled regularly for worship. After
a while, however, the members of that sect, lessening
by deaths and removals, became so few in number that
meetings were discontinued, and by and by the meet-
ing-house was demolished. The graveyard, thickly
dotted with old headstones, is still used for its orig-
inal purpose.

Joseph Mendenhall was a prominent figure in Men-
alien's early history, and although he was known as
a Quaker, and attended at the Quaker meeting-house,
he was said to exhibit at times a boisterous disposi-
tion utterly at variance with the peaceful tenets of
the Society of Friends, and is indeed reported to have
gone 80 far on more than one occasion as to swear
roundly. Mr. Mendenhall came from Philadelphia
directly upon the close of the Revolution, and settled
in what became the Mendenhall school district, on a
stream, and at a place called to this day Mendenhall's
dam, where he built a saw-mill. He claimed to have
been a captain in the Revolution, and for that reason,
more perhaps than for any other, he was known as
" the fighting Quaker." His greatest delight was to
be chosen supervisor, so that he might follow the
bent of his inclinations, or hobby more properly,
towards the working of the township roads. He
was township supervisor many successive years, and
always filled the office with the highest credit. Al-
though he was generally chosen without much oppo-
sition, he worked hard at each election, and invari-
ably carried to the polls a jug of whisky, upon the
contents of which he and his adherents would make
merry over the result. The jug, and sometimes more
than one, bore a prominent part in the supervisors'
highway labors, for he ever made it a point to pro-
vide whisky at his own expense for the refreshment
of those whom he called to the work of repairing the
roads. Inasmuch as he frequently had as many as
fifty or sixty men laboring at that business at a time,
his expenditures for whisky must have amounted to
a considerable sum. Mr. Mendenhall lived to be
ninety-four years old.

James Sidwell, a Quaker, came from Martinsburg,
Va., in 1790, and made his home upon a tract of three
hundred acres of land that he had bought of Benja-
min Whaley, who had bought the land of the pat-
entees, Grant, Pitt, and Buchanan, to whom the patent
was issued April 24, 1788. Upon that land now lives
Hiram H. Hackney, grandson of James Sidwell.
The latter had but two children, and they were
daughters. He died on his Menallen farm in 1815, aged
seventy-seven years. One of his daughters married
James Stevens, and moved to Indiana. The second
became the wife of John Hackney, of Luzerne, who
settled on the Sidwell homestead.

Although James Sidwell himself took no part in the
Revolutionary struggle, all of his brothers — to the
number of three — fought through the campaigns with
conspicuous gallantry. There was a Q,uaker named



William Dickson adjoining BidwcU on the west when
the latter settled, and near him a number of Quakers.
John Hackney died in 1868, at the age of eighty-five.
He had seven children, of whom four are living. Of
these Hiram H. and John are residents of Menallen.

In 1793 there was a school-house on the Sidwell
farm, at which John Hackney's wife ( James Sidwell's
daughter) took her first lessons in education from
Daniel Roundtree, who taught a long while there and
in the neighboring school-houses.

Caleb Woodward moved from Chester County at an
early day, and set up a blacksmith's shop in Menallen,
on James Sidwell's farm. He was a somewhat noted
mechanic, and was esteemed especially skillful in the
manufacture of plows, chains, etc. The plows of
his day were made of wood and plated with strips of
iron. People came to him from afar off, nine miles
and more, to have him make for them chains and
plows. He did also a brisk business in plating
saddles. He settled eventually on a farm now occu-
pied by Joseph Woodward, and died in New Salem.
Caleb's brothers, John, Joshua, and Joseph, located in
Menallen about the same time. All of them were
farmers. Joshua's home was on the place now owned
by his son Ellis.

William Barton came also from Chester County
about 1775. He bought of a man named Rayall the
land now occupied by J. W. Barton. His sons were
William, Joseph, Robert, Thomas, and Benjamin.
His daughters were two in number. All the children
were born on the Menallen place. His son Thomas
married Priscilla B. Gaddis, of South Union. She
died in Menallen, aged, it is said, one hundred years. |
Her father, John Gaddis, saw an extended period of I
active service during the war of 1812. There was a
school-house near the Barton place in 1805, to which |
Barton's children went, and in that year had as teacher
a Mr. Thomas. |

The Quaker settlement near New Salem was in-
creased in 1795 by the arrival of Caleb Antram, him-
self a Quaker, who migrated from Virginia, with a
family consisting of a wife and three children. He
bought one hundred and fifteen acres of land of
Henry Vandement, and after he had been in a short j
time bought also the William Dickson farm. Antram
died in 1840, aged eighty-seven years. Of his seven
children but two are living, Caleb and Joshua. John '
Butterfield was living upon the site of New Salem
village when Antram made his location, and there
were also in the vicinity, besides those already men-
tioned, the Rodericks, Campbells, Millers, Woods, and
Johnsons. Daniel Johnson had been living on the
present Abram Roderick place since 1783. He was a
cabinet-maker by trade.

Robert Jackson settled about 1790 on the John
Dearth farm. His son Zadoc married a daughter
of Caleb Woodward. Giles McCormick, a native of
Ireland, came to Fayette County in 1808, and bought
of Mr. Watt a farm in Menallen, upon which James

Gaddis now lives. There Mr. McCormick died in
1835. Samuel Harris and Ralph Higinbotham were
early settlers in the Mendenhall neighborhood ; Jere-
miah Piersol (who died in 1881, aged ninety-five), the
Campbells, the Shaws, the Grables, Colleys, and Keys,
near Searight's ; and the Vails, Gaddis, McGinnis,
Works, Fullers, Rutters, Coopers, Osborns, Kellys,

I and Radcliffs, near Plumsock.

Redding Bunting, who died May 22, 1878, was born
near New Salem, and was one of the noted stage-
drivers on the National road ; was stage agent, tavern-
keeper, mail contractor, and generally a busy man in
matters appertaining to stage-coaching in its palmy

Immediately after the close of the Revolutionary
war. Col. William Roberts migrated from Bucks
County to Southwestern Pennsylvania, and settled
upon a three-hundred-acre tract of land that included
what is now known as Searight's, on the National road.
William was commissioned colonel of the Fourth
Battalion of militia in Bucks County, May 6, 1777,
and after serving through the war, was at its close
comissioned major of the Third Battalion of Bucks
County militia, Oct. 11, 1783. Both commissions are
now in the possession of his granddaughter, Mrs.

j Zenas Van Kirk, of Redstone township. She has
also a certificate of the marriage of William Roberts
and Rachel Grifiith, dated Aug. 7, 1760. The docu-
ment is signed by the contracting parties, the oflicia-
ting clergyman (John Thomas), and no less than
fifteen witnesses. Col. Roberts lived in Menallen
until his death. All of his sons except Benjamin
moved to the far West. He lived a while at Plum-
sock, and ended his days at the house of Mrs.
Zenas Van Kirk, in 1845. His brother John had
been one of the county commissioners, and he
himself a justice of the peace twenty-five years. His
son, William B., of Uniontown, was an ofiicer in the
Mexican war, and died in the city of Mexico.

" Searight's," on the National road, five miles west-
ward from Uniontown, has for many years been a
well-known locality to travelers upon that thorough-
fare, and in the days of great traffic over the road was
a somewhat famous stopping-place for stage-coaches
and freighters. There are at that point now a tavern,
post-office, store, blacksmith-shop, and perhaps a half-
dozen houses, but the bustling activity that once
marked the spot when the National road was in its
glory has given place to a dozing quietude, albeit the

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 149 of 193)