Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 151 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 151 of 193)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Salem. From one of the worst and most disorderly
it was changed to one of the most orderly and peace-
ful villages in the State. Persistent hard work by
the persevering and unfaltering advocates of temper-
ance worked a reform for which that section of the
country became grateful years ago. Ebenezer Fin-
ley, who took a leading part in the contest against
whisky and disorder, was chosen the first president
of the temperance society, and has been its president
ever since. To him belongs a very large share of the
credit for the wholesome results that followed the

About 1.840, Joseph Gadd and William Boyd were
keeping a store at New Salem ; Balsinger had a tavern,
and in it the post-office was kejjt, his son being post-
master. There was no village physician in 1840,
although there had been previous to that date. In
1844, Dr. Jacob Post made New Salem his home, and
lived on the Joshua Scott property. To go back a
little, there was a school-house in 1812 upon the site
of the present school-house, and in that year Thomas
Campbell was the teacher. After him an old man
named Graj' taught school. It will be well also to
mention that William Allison, a gunsmith, had a
shop at New Salem as early as 1820; that Neddy
Hughes was that year the village shoemaker, and
that in 1821 El.cnezer Finley organized a Sunday-
school. The old Ing gri.-t-iiiill pa^s,,! lr,,iii James
Thompson to Ilnliert I'.oyd, and trdiii lldhcrt Boyd to
his son Samuel, who built a new null, the same now
owned by Jesse Frost, Sr.

Dr. Hickman has already been mentioned as being
a resident ]>hysirian in New Salem in isiii'. He re-
mained (inly a couple of years, ami tlini thrre was no
resident doctor until ISll. In tliat Dr. Joseph
Rose and his brother Erasmus located and practiced
in conjunction for several years. After their de-
parture there was a lack of village doctors until
1844, when Dr. Jacob Post opened an office and re-

mained a village fixture for some years. He removed
to AVinona, Minn., and there died. While Dr. Post
was here Dr. Fitz came in, but stayed only a short
time. Then there appeared in succession Dr. C. D.
Chalfant in 1867, and Dr. I. C. Hazlett a little while
thereafter. The only village physician now is Dr.
Samuel E. Johnston, wdio has been practicing in
New Salem and vicinity since 1870.

New Salem's first postmaster was Christopher Bal-
singer, who was appointed in 1820 and served until
about 1840. He was succeeded by C. S. Seaton and
Mr. Kline. J. W. Scott followed Kline in 1861, and
in 1808 was succeeded by W. D. Swearingen, who
held the office less than a year. C. H. Scott was the
incumbent from 1869 to 1877, and in the latter year
William P. Green, the present postmaster, received
his appointment.

New Salem Lodge, No. 559, I. O. O. F., was or-
ganized in 1858. The membership is now twenty,
an<l the officers William Jefi'ries, N. G. ; J. C. Moore,
V. G. ; S. E. Johnson, Sec. ; Elijah Tracey, Treas. ;
A. J. Tint, Asst. Sec.


Upper Middletown village, better known as Plum-
sock, is a small hamlet lying upon Redstone Creek,
on the eastern side of the township. It is simply a
rural town without special industry, beyond the main-
tenance of such business as is afforded by the support
of the adjacent rural population. The name Plum-
sock has clung to the place since the time its village
existence begun, but why it was so christened is not
known. Various stories are told to account for the
origin of the name, including one about an intoxi-
cated individual, who, while riding through the place,
fell from his horse into the mud, and remarked,
" Here I am, plump sock !" The expression is said to
have so pleased the ears of those within hearing
that they concluded to call the town " Plumsock" to
commemorate the incident. How true the story is it
is perhaps not important to inquire. Another story
traces the origin of the name as far back as 1794, when
a company of " Whiskey Boys" rendezvoused on the
village site. 'Tis said they contracted with a certain
citizen of the neighborhood to supply them with sub-
sistence during their stay, and that when the citizen
delivered his first load of ]ir(ivisions the " Boys" en-
deavored to ca,jole him into giving them credit for a
few days. At that prop. isitiDn the purveyor is said to
have waxed wroth, ami ixilaiming, "No, sirree, my
men; if you w:iiit mr !.■ <u|iply you you must pay
me the cash, ' plumpsuck' on the nail," was about to
depart in displeasure, when they came forward with
the cash, and agreed unanimously that the place
ought to be called " Plumpsock" forever afterward
in commemoration of the man's business principle.

Nov. 28, 1789, Jeremiah Pears (or Pearce, or Peairs)
patented a piece of land containing one hundred and
twelve acres, called "Prophetic," and Iving in Jlen-


alien and Franklin townships. Edward Hall and
Jeremiah Pears held land adjacent to this tract, and
laid out lots in the form of a town, which they called
Middletown (now known as Upper Middletown, or
Plumsock). Hall sold to Rev. Robert Warnocks. The
one hundred and twelve acres mentioned as belong-
ing to Jeremiah Pears included the site of the Mea-
son rolling-mill, hereafter to be mentioned, and for a
long time popularly known as Forgetown. On that
site Pears had a mill as early as 1784, and perhaps
before, for in the road records of the county, under
the date mentioned, " Jeremiah Pears' mill" is no-
ticed. In 1794, " Jeremiah Pears' forge" was recorded
as being then at the same point, and in 1804 he had
there a saw-mill, grist-mill, forge, slitting-raill, and
rolling-inill, — quite a large collection of industrial en-
terprises for the time. Thomas Cook, then of Perry,
and afterwards of Cook's Mills, in Redstone, was one
of the builders of the Pears' forge, which was proba-
bly erected in 1794. Pears carried on the manufac-
ture of iron at Plumsock until about 1804, when he
sold out to George Dorsey. Dorsey sold in 1809 to
Benjamin Stevens, he to Meason & Keller in 1813,
and Keller sold his interest to Col. Isaac Meason in

In a recently published account of early iron
industries in Western Pennsylvania occurs the fol-
lowing: "The first rolling-mill erected west of the
Alleghenies to puddle iron and roll iron bars was
built in 1816 and 1817, on Redstone Creek, about
midway between Connellsville and Brownsville, at a
place called Upper Middletown, better known as
Plumsock, in Fayette County." The inceptor of the
enterprise was Thomas C. Lewis, and it was carried
into effect by Col. Isaac Meason, of Union Furnace,
in Dunbar. The chief engineer in the erection of the
mill was Thomas C. Lewis, whose brother, George
Lewis, — both Welshmen, — was turner and roller. The
mill was built " for making bars of all sizes and hoops
for cutting into nails." "The iron was refined by
blast, and then puddled." Active operations were
carried on at this mill until 1831, Mr. Arthur Palmer
being in possession to the date named. By a flood
in the Redstone the mill was partially destroyed.
Subsequently the mill machinery was conveyed to
Brownsville. Concerning this rolling-mill Samuel
C. Lewis, son of Thomas C. Lewis above mentioned,
said that his father and his uncle, George Lewis, not
only .superintended the erection and put in operation
the mill of which notice is here made, but that he
himself as a boy assisted in rolling the first bar of
iron, his uncle being chief roller. Besides the two
Lewis brothers, Thomas and George, there were also
Samuel Lewis, heater, and James Lewis, catcher,
who participated in starting the mill and in the roll-
ing of the first bar. Henry W. Lewis, another
brother, was a clerk in the office. Samuel C. Lewis
was then a boy of fifteen, and "heaved up" behind
the rolls. There were in the mill two puddlins-

furnaces, one refinery, one heating-furnace, and one
tilt-hammer. Raw coal was used in the puddling-
and heating-furnaces, and coke (for a short time) in
the refinery. James Pratt worked the refinery.
David Adams was the puddler.

The State report on iron-making in Pennsylvania,
published in 1878, says, "We think it extremely
probable that at the Plumsock rolling-mill was done
the first puddling, and that here was rolled the first
bar of iron in America." Careful inquiry in well-in-
formed quarters fails to discover the existence in the
United States of any rolling-mill to roll bar iron and
puddle pig iron prior to the enterprise at Plumsock
in 1816.

Benjamin Rutter, who lives near Plumsock, worked
for Arthur Palmer at the Plumsock rolling-mill, as
did also Francis Duff, whose widow now lives in the
village. One of the early rolling-mill proprietors
was J. L. Keller, who built a great roomy brick man-
sion near the mill. Keller's house was a fine build-
ing for that day, and is to-day even a handsome-
looking residence. Since 1858 it has been the prop-
erty of James Nickel. Mr. Keller died after a few
years' occupancy of the premises, and when a family
of strangers undertook to occupy the red brick house
their stay was soon brought to a hurried close by the
idea that the house was haunted. They averred that
old Keller's spirit roamed through the mansion at
will, that doors were opened and shut by unseen
hands, and with a great noise, while unearthly and
discordant sounds made every night hideous and the
lives of the tenants a torture. People to whom they
told these stories laughed at them and scouted the
stories as the result of excited imaginations. When,
however, another family moved into the red brick
and moved quickly out again, declaring that ghosts and
goblins peopled the house, public belief was inclined
to think that there might, after all, be a haunting
presence in the mansion. When a third family was
precipitately driven forth after but a two days' occu-
pancy opinion generally conceded that the house was
indeed haunted. By that time the circumstances
were public gossip, and while the curious came to
look with awe upon the mysterious abode of alleged
spirits, no one cared to undertake the task of living
in it, although it was offered for rent at a nominal
price. So it was suffered to be untenanted for some
time, when a matter-of-fact family took possession,
and kept possession peaceably too. The supposed
spirits seemed to have taken a permanent leave of
the abode, and have not reappeared to this day. Al-
though keen investigations were set afoot in pursu-
ance of a desire to discover the source of the disturb-
ing elements that drove people out of the house after
Keller's death, no satisfactory result was achieved.

Time dispelled the fears of the timid, but to this
day there are seemingly intelligent persons who insist
that old Keller's ghost did haunt the house. The
story goes that Keller, who married a daughter of



Gen. Douglass, and built the brick house in 1812,
squandered in various ways money that had come to
him through his wife. She had taken great pleasure in
the embellishment of their home, and when Keller's
failure entailed the loss of that home she felt much
embittered against him. Declaring that she could
never forgive him for causing the loss of so much that
she had endeared to herself, she vowed that she
would haunt the place after she was dead. There-
fore people who firmly believe that the house was
haunted must always be in doubt wliether the visi-
tation was by the spirit of Mrs. Keller or by that of
her husband.

Before the rolling-mill enterprise had been put in
operation, Isaac Meason carried on at Plumsock a
small forge that .leremiah Pears had built. That
forge was the beginning of manufacture at that point.
There was a pottery there in 1822, that was started
by James Lewis, and continued by hira and his son
Nathan for twenty -seven years afterwards. James
Lewis worked at the rolling-mills before he was mar-
ried, and it was during his time there that a nail-tac-
tory was attached to the works. Thomas Duncan,
now of Brownsville, was also one of the rolling-mill
hands. Nathan Lewis, of Franklin township, says
that when he was a lad of twelve he worked at Plum-
sock for Arthur Palmer, the iron-worker, and that in
1823 he was employed to wheel coal from a coal-bank
to a coke-oven that Arthur Duncan (father of Judge
Duncan, of Brownsville) had built for Palmer and
was in charge of Tliis oven, Mr. Lewis thinks, was
erected Ijefore 1823. and in it Mr. Palmer burned
coke for use in his iron-works. It was constructed
entirely of stone, and held about forty-eight bushels.
Slack or fine coal only was burned. Palmer had at
his works a rolling-mill, a puddling-furnace, relinery,
saw-mill, and grist-mill. The immediate locality of
the works wms known as F(,rgetown until the depar-
ture of Mr. I'aliDir ami the abandonment of the iron

The inauguration of tlie rolling-mill industry at
Plumsock created a village near there, and of course
a store and tavern sprung quickly into existence.
Robert Thompson was the store-keeper as early as
1808. and Ilrni-y Dick tavern-keeper in 180(1. i,,bn
Bate Mirr,-,,d,.d the hitter in 1809. A Mr. Bodkin was
in 1813 ihe tavern-keeper (or, more strictly speaking, i
the whisky-seller, for a village tavern then meant
'■whisky-shop" more than it meant pulilic-house). '
Bodkin's tavern was simply a log shanty, an<l ]ires-
ently Elijah Gadd opened a second tavern in another
shanty. Of Gadd it is said that he sold his whisky to
the mill hands, and took his pay at the mill once a
montli in bar iron. When the mill stopped Gadd
had on hand sufficient bar iron to pay for a good farm.
Some of Gadd's -urc, - or< as ta\ cni-kecpci's at Plum-
sock wciv William Stevm-. .lolin Cad.l, and F.dward

ness that IClijah managed to achieve is extremelv

] doubtful. There was a small log grist-mill close by
the rolling-mill, and although it was a crude and
clumsy concern, it was one of the prime necessities of
the locality. It was built by Jeremiah Pears, and
afterwards continued by successive mill-owners. Kel-
ler, the proprietor of the rolling-mill, had a store, and
I Palmer probably kept a stock of goods on hand while
I he carried on the iron-works. After the mill interest
ceased Plumsock fell into a disheartening quietude.
There was no store there or very much call for one
after that until 1831, when John Morrison built the
brick residence now owned by James Lewis and
stocked one corner of it with goods.

About 1820, Henry Creighton was the village black-
; smith, and Reuben Jones the village carpenter. The
I first cabinet-maker in Plumsock was Daniel Whetzel.
] In 1824 there was a log school-house at the village, in
; wdiich JIaoklin ]\Iayer taught, and in which Joseph
I Garrett and Oliver Sproul were his immediate suc-
1 cessors. A post-office was established at Plumsock
I about 1825, and a Methodist Church was built in 1829.
There was probablv no resident physician until 1840
or later. Robert Muir should have been mentioned
as the landlord of the Cross-Keys tavern about 1820.
He kept it for some years, and rented it then as a
dwelling. In 1847, Henry Fuller reopened it as a
tavern, and kept it twenty years. Since 1867, Plum-
sock has been without a licensed tavern.

In 1844, Thomas Hazen was keeping store in the
Lewis brick, and David and John Huston one at the
upper end of the town. The Hu.stons sold out to
Abram Hornbeck, who was for a time both store-keeper
and tavern-keeper. In the Hornbeck building Ed-
ward Roddy afterwards carried on trade about twelve
years. Then came William Smith, Gibson & Arri-
son, an<l Gilison & Thompson, who moved from the
old i|uai-ters into the building now occupied by Man-
sell .V Thoiii|ison. Danitd Binns & Co. occupied the
Lewis lirirk in ls:.7, and in 1858 moved to the Keller
mansioii. In 1 s(54. Binns retired, leaving his part-
ner, .lames Nickel, to succeed the firm.

The post-office succession at Plumsock may be given
as follows: Joseph Gadd was appointed about 1825,
and resigned in 1828. Henry Creighton, the black-
smith, .succeeded him, and in 1840 William Morrison
became the incumbent. Morrison held the office
until 1857, when Edward Roddy received the ap-
pointment. To him succeeded Daniel Binns, William
Smith, and Daniel Binns (second term). James
Nickel served from 1865 to 1869; Samuel Thompson,
l>;(;'.i^7(i; D. T. Gibson, from 1870 to 1880; and
Hugh Thoni]>son, from 1880 to the present.

The first physician to locate at Plumsock was a Dr.
Rogers. Just when he came is not easy to say, but
tlie time not far from 1840. Drs. Brownfield and
Crane were in village practice shortly after Rogers
departed for the West in 1844, but their stay was
brief. There was no resident physician afterwards
until 1851, when Dr. Samuel B. Chalfant opened an


office and established his home at Plumsock. He
continued steadily in practice at the village until his
death in 1877. Meanwhile, Dr. W. W. Osborn came
in 1870, and still remains. Dr. John Hankins came
in 1875, and removed to Uniontown in 1878. Besides
Dr. Osborn, there is now one other physician in the
village, William H. Hopwood, who located in 1878.

Redstone Lodge, No. 499, 1. 0. 0. F., was organized
at Plumsock in 1852. The nieinbership in March,
1881, was twenty-five, and the officers Nathan Hollo-
way, N. G; M. V. Whetzel, V. G. ; A. N. Osborn,
Sec. ; James Lewis, Treas.



Grace Church, located on the National road, near
Searight's, was organized before 1793, in which year
the congregation were occupying their own house of
worship. There are, however, no records from which
to write a history of the early days of the organization,
and as human recollection is of course unavailable as
a matter of reference, absolutely nothing can be said
with certainty touching the events that attended upon
the organization of the church, except that Robert
Jackson donated some land for a church and church-
yard. The first house of worship was a homely log
structure, but it did excellent service for nearly fifty
years. In 1840 it was replaced by the house now in
use. For the erection of the latter the subscribers
were Hugh Keys, William Searight, Hiram Jackson,
Zadoc Jackson, William Hogg, George Hogg, Robert
Clark, John Bowman, John Snowdon, Eli Abrams,
Samuel J. Krepps, Henry Sweitzer, Christopher Bu-
chanan, David Jackson, John Moore, Aaron Moore,
William Moore, John Hibbs, Johnston Van Kirk,
Ebenezer Finley, Ebenezer Finley, Jr., Elizabeth Fin-
ley, Joseph Gadd, E. Balsinger, Joseph Wilson, Joshua
Antram, Caleb Antraui, Jr., Richard Beeson, J. C.
Simmons, Benjamin Roberts, Arwind Mclttree, John
Gadd, N. P. Bowman & Co., Jacob Bowman, Wesley
Frost, G. W. V. Bowman, G. W. Cass, G. W. Curtis,
William Sloan, John Allison, John Dawson, Rezin
Moore, D. N. Robinson, Joshua B. Howell, N. Given,
R. P. Flenniken, A. Stewart, James Fuller, Isaac
Beeson. The congregation, at no time large, includes
now perhaps twenty families. At no time has there
been a resident rector. Rev. R. S. Smith supplied
the church from 1868 to 1878. The present rector is
Rev. S. D. Day, of Brownsville. The wardens are
James Allison and Ewing Searight. The vestrymen
are James Searight, Ewing Searight, Thomas Graham,
Buchanan Jeffries, Andrew Keys, Hiram Jackson,
and Levi Beal. The superintendent of the Sunday-
school is James Allison. The graveyard at the church,
laid out some time before the year 1800, has within it
as the oldest headstone now distinguishable a tablet
erected in 1799 to the memory of a member of the
Jackson family.


About 1825, when Arthur Palmer took charge of
the Plumsock rolling-mill and established his home
in the Keller mansion, he began to hold Methodist
meetings therein, himself being the preacher. Mr.
Palmer was a very energetic worker in the religious
field, and preached regularly at his house once a fort-
night until 1829. In that year he succeeded in effect-
ing a church organization and in causing the erection
of a stone church known as Asbury Chapel. As far
as can now be remembered, the organizing members
of the first class included Arthur Palmer and wife,
James Hedden and wife, John Lewis and wife, Wil-
liam Bradley and wife. In 1840 the stone church
was replaced with the present brick structure. The
preacher in charge is Rev. O. E. Husted, of the Red-
stone Circuit. He preaches once a fortnight. The
class numbers now about forty. The leader is Wil-
liam Hormel.


Public worship by Methodists was held in the New
Salem school-house in 1834, and in that year a class
was organized with twelve members. Among these
were Booth McCormick and wife, Richard Miller
and wife, Mr. Carpenter, his wife and wife's sister,
and Nancy Whitehill. Booth McCormick was the
leader. In 1840 a spirited revival set in and about
forty persons joined the church. In 1850 a house of
worship was built, and in 1851 the membership was
fully one hundred and twenty-five. Prosperity at-
tended upon the progress of the organization for a
while, but afterwards dissensions were created by a
disaffected member, and with such disastrous results
that in 18G7 the total membership had been reduced
to five persons. Dissolution was imminent, but the
few energetic ones worked hard for a reawakening of
interest to such good effect that the membership
steadily increased, and the church rested once more
upon a sure foundation. In March, 1881, there were
in good standing about thirty active members. The
leader was then Johnston Roderick, and the preacher
Rev. Mr. McGrew, of the Smithfield charge.


A Presbyterian chapel was built at New Salem in
1853 by members of the Dunlap's Creek Church, and
since that time has been used simply as an adjunct to
the last-named organization, whose pastor preaches
also at New Salem. A Presbyterian Sunday-school
was organized at New Salem by Ebenezer Finley, Sr.,
in 1825, and to this day it has had an uninterrupted
and active existence. The elder Finley was the
superintendent from 1825 to 1849, and his son Eben-
I ezer from 1853 to 1881.


I During the years 1832 and 1833 Revs. Morgan
[ Bird, and Bryan were preaching in Fayette County
' as the advance guard of the Cumberland Presbyterian



ministers just tlien being sent out from Tennessee to
Pennsylvania. They were invited to preach at the
Centre school-house, near John C. McCormick, and
from that time forward there was more or less preach-
ing thei-L- for si-vcnil years. :\Ir. .■\re('ormick hiniM'lf
becaiu.^ a iii,-n]lK-r of the Cuml.iTlana I'r.-l.vK-riau
Church at Iniontown, where he wa.^ a ruling cWcr
ten years or more. Afterwards he joined Hopewell
Church, in Luzerne township, where he remained until
the organization of Pleasant View in 18')9. During
the years 18.57 and 18.3'.l Rev. .Tohn S. (iil.son, pastor
of the East Liberty CuniLrrlaml Pivshvt.rian » 'luuvh.
fre(|ueiitly hehl -c,-rvir,- in thr MrC.niiirl; n..iglil,or-

gani/.ai I'Hi
John McU.

Minday-school being well on
its way, attention was turned to the subject of a church
organization. The Union Presbytery being appealed
' )sliorn

to, authorized Eevs. Jesse Adams and

to take charge of the business. AccordioL'lv they
organized Pleasant View, Oct. 1, is.',!i, in a sihool-
house that stood near wlurc the clunoli now -taml^.
The constituent niembi.i- nuiiibiir.l twentv four, vi/. :
Emanuel Campbell, ilary ( •anii.l.ollj San'iu.-l llrown,
Louisa Brown, Henry Hornbeck,Sr.,' Pvcbecca Horn-
beck,^ Henry Hornbeck, Jr., John G. Hornbeck,
James Ridlinghafer, Catharine Pidlinghafer, Robert
Hagerty, John Pall, Jr.,' ."Mary 11, - , Eliza P. Powell,
Margaret Wheaton, Sarah .1. Ari-..ii, Mary Mitchell,'
Mahala Hill, Amy Work,' Auur Stewart, Ebenezer
Hare,' Rebecca Hare, John C. McCormick,' Hannah
McCormick.' The elders chosen were John C. McCor-
mick, Emanuel Campbell, and Samuel Brown. In
1860 a house of worship was erected. The trustees
were Robert Hagerty, John Ball, Jr., and James Rid-

The first pastor was Rev. Andrew G. Osborn, who
served from April 1, 1860, to April 1, 1862. Eli
E. Bailey was pastor from April, 1862, to April, 1866 ;
J. Power Baird from April, 1866, to April, 1880.
Since Mr. Baird's departure Rev. AVilliam Hays has
been the .supply. Several gratifying revival seasons

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 151 of 193)