Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 152 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 152 of 193)
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havemarlo-.l tin history of the church. In 1866 about |
twenty poiMHrs wer..' received as members under the
preaching of Rev. E. E. Bailey; and in 1871, 1874,
and 1875, during the pastorate of Rev. J. Power
Baird, large accessions, to the number of one hun-
dred and twenty-eight, increased the strength of the
church. There are at present one hundred and fifty-
two members. The elders are Emanuel Campbell,
Samuel Brown, John E. Craft, and Thomas H. Hig-
inbotham. Martin Hess donated, in 1860, one acre [
of land, lying two and a quarter miles north of Sea- I
right's, for church and cemetery. In 1878 two acres I
were added by purchase. j

1 Since deceased. I


Fairview Church, now the Cumberland Presbyte-
rian Church of New Salem, was organized by Rev.
Samuel E. Hudson. Members of the denomination
living in the vicinity of New Salem, who attended for
pulilic worship at Union'town and New Hopewell,
expressed a desire for a church organization, and in
response thereto Rev. Samuel E. Hudson, then sup-
plying the church at New Hopewell, began, in the
spring of 1842, a series of protracted meetings at New
Salem. A number of conversions followed, and in
June, 1842, the Lord's Supper was commemorated at
the New Salem school-house. In September of that
\car al)out one hundred persons joined in a petition
to tlir liiion Presbytery for the organization of a
congregation in the New Salem neighborhood. In
the spriuL' of ls4:; the Presbytery appointed Revs.
Samuel E. Iluilson and Carl Moore, with Isaac
Beeson and John McCormick, as a committee to at-
tend New Salem for the purpose of eflecting the de-
sired organization, and authorized Rev. Samuel E.
Hudson to supply the new church for the space of one
year. One hundred and five persons were received
as constituent members. Among these the names of
the following only have been preserved upon the re-
cord : Caleb Antram, Samuel Brown, Eliza Brown,
Miranda Luckey, Hugh Poundslow, John Hackney,
Sr., John Hackney, Jr., Lydia Hackney, Amy Hack-
ney, Joseph Rockwell, Catharine Rockwell, Jacob
Allamon, Levi Linn, Joseph Woodward, Nancy Wood-
ward, William Jefl'ries, Jane Jefi"ries, Taylor Jeffries,
Sarah Jeffries, E. F. Moss, Rebecca Johnson, Hannah
Walters, Lydia .lackson, Eliza Hacock, Hannah Dun-
lap, Jane Luckey, Sarah L. McWilliams, Louisa Gil-
more, (.'atliarinr McDougal, Jane Carey, Henry Funk,
Zubina Keener, Lydia Worley, Keziah Watson, John
Watson, Mary Jeffries, John Williams, Sarah A.
Williams, Elizabeth Sickles, and Mary A. Pound-
slow. The elders chosen were Caleb Antram, Joseph
Rockwell, Abel Campbell, Jr., and William Thomp-
son. Caleb Antram donated land for a church and
churchyard, and in 1844 a brick house was built at a
cost of two thousand dollars. In April, 1856, the
church had so prospered that the membership aggre-
gated one hundred and eighty-four. The pastors of
the organization have been Revs. Samuel E. Hudson,
A. B. Brice, J. T. A. Henderson, Alexander Black-
ford, Jesse Adams, and J. S. Gibson. Mr. Gibson
has been the pastor since 1872. The membership iu
March, 1881, was one hundred and eighty-one. The
Sunday-school has (ifteen officers and teachers and
eighty-tiirr, -clichirs. The superintendent is Chris-
topher Woodward. The elders of the church are
Joseph Woodward, Joseph Rockwell, H. H. Hack-
ney, Lewis Antram, and John Funk. The deacons
are Christopher Woodwnrd, J. W. Hackney, Taylor
Jeffries, Samuel Newcomer, and A. J. Tuit.





William Searight was bora near Carlisle, Cumber- j
land Co., Pa., on the oth day of December, 1792. His
father came from Londonderry, Ireland, in the year
1760, and first settled in Lancaster County, Pa. His
mother, Anne Hamilton, removed from Belfast, Ire-
land, the same year to the same county. His mother
was an aunt of James Hamilton, once Governor of
South Carolina, was a sister of William and McHugh
Hamilton, wealthy and influential citizens of Lan-
caster County, and was remotely connected with Al-
exander Hamilton. Her ancestry were of Scotch
descent. A granduncle of William Searight was in
the " siege of Derry." He lived to get out of the be-
sieged city, but soon afterwards died from weakness
and exhaustion. In 1780 the parents of William
Searight removed from Lancaster County to Cumber-
land County, Pa., settling near Carlisle. The names
of their children were Samuel, Alexander, William,
Mary, John, and Hamilton. About the beginning
of this century they moved into Indiana County, Pa.,
where they remained only a short time, and came over
into Westmoreland County, Pa., and settled perma-
nently on the Loyalhanna Kiver, a few miles above
the town of Ligonier, where they lived until their
death. About the year 1810, Samuel Searight settled
in Tippecanoe County, lud. ; Alexander Searight set-
tled in Ohio County, Va., and William Searight set-
tled in Fayette County, Pa. The remainder of the
family lived, died, and were buried in Ligonier Val-
ley without issue. William Searight received only a
plain English education. He was endued with the
precepts of stern integrity and honor, the elements of
his future success in business, and of his elevated
character. In the neighborhood in which he was
reared he had learned the business of fulling cloth, a
knowledge of which, his native energy and honorable
character being his only stock with which to com-
mence and push his own fortune. He arrived in
Fayette County at about the age of twenty-one, and
commenced business at an old fulling-mill on Duulap's
Creek, known as Hammond's mill. He afterwards
prosecuted his vocation at Cook's mill, on Redstone
Creek, and again near Perryopolis. He next purchased
a farm and hotel at Searight's, the property and village
deriving its name from him, and there made his per-
manent settlement. In 1826 he married Rachel Brown-
field, daughter of Thomas Brownfield, of Uniontown,
Pa. Here he laid the foundation of a large fortune,
and his integrity, uiiitud to a generous and benevolent
heart, gave him a high iiluce in the esteem and affec-
tion of the community in which he lived. His sound
judgment soon impressed itself upon his own county,
and he became one of her most influential citizens.
Mr. Searight was a prominent and zealous old-time

Deuiocratic politician, and wielded a large influence.
On one occasion he rode on horseback from Searight's
to Harrisburg, a distance of over two hundred miles,
to aid in preparing to nominate Gen. Jackson for the

In the early history of Fayette County political
conventions of both parties were accustomed to meet
at Searight's and plan campaigns. A memorable
meeting, of which Mr. Searight was the chief insti-
gator, was held there in 1828, known as the " Gray
Meeting," from the name of the then keeper of the
local hotel, John Gray. At this meeting the Jack-
son and Adams men met to measure their strength.
They turned out in the meadow below the hotel,
formed in rank, and " counted ofl'." The Jack-
son men outnumbered their opponents decisively,
and it was regarded as a great Jackson victory.
In the political campaign of 1866 a large Demo-
cratic meeting was held in Uniontown, and the dele-
gation from Searight's bore a banner with the inscrip-
tion, "Menallen, the battle-ground of the 'Gray'
meeting." Many prominent political leaders of the
olden time were there. Among them, on the Jackson
side, were Gen. Henry W. Beeson, Col. Ben Brown-
field, Westley Frost, William F. C()i)laii, Henry J.
Rigden, James C. Beckley, Benedict Kimbcr, Solo-
mon G. Krepps, William Searight, Hugh Keys, Wil-
liam Hatfield, Col. William L. Miller, John" Fuller,
Provance McCormick, William Davidson, Alexander
Johnson, and Thomas Duncan. On the Adams side
were Andrew Stewart, John M. Austin, F H. Oli-
phant, John Kennedy, John Dawson, Samuel Evans,
James Bowman, William Hogg, Stokely Connell,
William P. Wells, Basil Brownfield, George Mason,
Kennedy Duncan, and John Lyon. The many simi-
lar political meetings with which William Searight
was identified go to show the esteem in which he was
held by the citizens of the county by all parties. But
Fayette County, although the first, was but little in
advance of other communities to learn and admire his
worth. He early became known and appreciated
throughout the entire State. He was appointed com-
missioner of the Cumberland (National) road by Gov-
ernor Porter, in the most prosperous days of that great
thoroughfare, a iMKitiun li. held for many years. In
1845 he was supri-nln! I.\ ( 'dl. William Hopkins, of
Washington, Pa. .^iibsiMjiK ntly an act of the Legis-
lature placed the road in the hands of trustees ap-
pointed by the courts, and these trustees restored
William Searight to the commissionership, the duties
of which ofEce-he continued to discharge with great
fidelity and industry. He was thoroughly familiar
with all the hills and valleys of that grand old thor-
oughfare, once so stirring and active, but now still
and grass-grown. Previous to his appointment as
commissioner of the National road he w:t.s a con-
tractor on the same. He was one of the contractors
who built the iron bridge over the mouth of Dunlap's
Creek, between Brownsville and Bridgeport. He was



also a contractor on the Erie extension of the Penn-
sylvania and Ohio Canal.

j^t the time of his death he was the candidate of
the Democratic party for one of the most dignified
and important offices of the State, that of canal com-
missioner. To this office he would have undoubtedly
been elected had not death interposed and called him
from the active duties of this life to the realities of
another world, as after his death William Hopkins,
of Washington County, was nominated by the Demo-
cratic party for the same office, and was elected by a
large majority. He died at his residence in Menallen
township, on the 12th of August, 1852. He left a
wife and six children, — Thomas, Ewing, Jane, Wil-
liam, James, and Elizabeth.

William Searight was a man of the most generous
and humane character, ever ready to lend his counsel,
his sympathies, and his purse to the aid of others.
Though a strong political party man, yet he ever
treated his opponents with courtesy. In religion he
was, like most of the race to which he belonged, im-
bued with Calvinism. The brightest traits of his
character were exemplified at the last. So far as
human judgment may decide, he died a Christian,
in peace. Although death plucked him from the very
threshold of earthly honors, yet it caused him no
regrets. The scenes upon which he was about to
enter presented higher honors, purer enjoyments.
To him they offered

" No midnight shade, no clouded sun.
But sacred, high, eternal noon."

A more emphatic eulogy than is in the power of
language to express was bestowed upon him on the
day of his funeral by the assembling around his
coffin to perform the last sad duty of friendship of
as great if not a greater number of citizens than ever
attended the funeral ceremonies of any one who has
died within the limits of Fayette County. Among
that vast assemblage were both the patriarchs of the
county and the rising youth, all come to give their
testimony to the lofty worth in life of the distin-
guished dead. A few days after his death a large
meeting of the citizens of Fayette County, irrespec-
tive of party, convened at the court-house for the
purpose of bearing suitable testimony to his memory
and character.

The following gentlemen were chosen officers : Hon.
Nathaniel Ewing, president ; Hon. Daniel Sturgeon
(ex-United States senator) and Z. Ludingtou, vice-
presidents; John B. Krepps and R. P. Flenniken,
secretaries. On motion of Hon. James Veech (later
author of " Monongahela of Old") a committee
on resolutions composed of leading citizens was
appointed, which committee presented the following
preamble and resolutions, which were unanimously
adopted, viz. :

" Wlien a valued citizen dies, it is meet thiit the community of

of their sorrow at such an event is dui
grief of the hereaved family and friends,
others to earn for their death the same (
cent death of William Searight, Esq., this community has lost
such a citizen. Such an event has called this public meeting,
into which enter no schemes of political promotion, no partisan
purposes of empty eulogy. Against all this death has shut the
door. While yet the tear hangs on the cheek of his stricken
family, and the tidings of death are unread hy many of his
friends, we, his fellow-citizens, neighbors, friends, of all par-
ties, have assembled to speak to those who knew and loved him
best, and to those who knew him not the words of sorrow and
truth in sincerity and soberness. Therefore as the sense of this
meeting, —

" llexoJi-eil, That in the death of William Searight Fayette
County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have lost one
of their best and most useful citizens. The people at large
Tiiay not realize their loss, but the community in which he
lived, over whose comforts and interests were diffused the influ-
ences of his liberality and enterprise, feel it, while his friends
of all classes, parties, and professions, to whom he clung, and
who clung to him, mourn it.

" Resolved, That while we would withhold our steps from the
sanctuary of domestic grief, we may be allowed to express to
the afllicted widow and children of the deceased our unfeigned
sorrow and sympathy in their great bereavement, and to tender
to them our assurance while in their hearts the memory of
the husband and father will ever be cherished, in onm will be
kept the liveliest recollections of his virtues as a citizen and a

" liemlred, That among the elements which must enter into
every truthful estimate of the character of William Searight
are a warm amenity of manners, combined with a great dignity
of deportment, which were not the less attractive by their plain-
ness and want of ostentation, elevated feelings more pure than
passionless, high purposes, with untiring energy in their ac-
complishment, an ennobling sense of honor, and individual in-
dependence, which kept him always true to himself and to his
engagements, unfaltering fidelity to his friends, a liberality
which heeded no restraint, but means and merit, great prompt-
ness and fearlessness in the discharge of what he believed to be
a duty, private or public, guided by a rigid integrity, which
stood all tests and withstood all temptations, honesty and truth-
fulness in word and in deed, which no seductions could weaken
nor assaults overthrow, in all respects the architect of his own
fortune and fame. These, with the minor virtues in full pro-
portion, are some of the outlines of character which stamped
the man whose death we mourn as one much above the ordi-
nary level of his race.

" Remhed, That while we have here nothing to do or say as
to the loss sustained by the political party to which he belonged,
and whose candidate he was for an office of great honor and
responsibility, we may be allowed to say that had he lived and
been successful, with a heart so rigidly set as was his, with
feelings so high and integrity so firm, and withal an amount of
practical intelligence so ample as he possessed, his election
could have been regretted by no citizen who knew him, and
who placed the public interests beyond selfish ends and party
success. As a politician, we knew him to hold to his principles
and party predilections with a tenacious grasp, yet he was ever
courteous and liberal in his deportment and views towards his
political opponents.

" Reaoleed, That in the life and character of William Searight
we see a most instructive and encouraging example. Starting
in the struggle of life with an humble business, poor and unbe-
fricnded, with an honest mind and true heart, with high pur-




poses and untiring industry, he by degrees gained friends an i
means which never forsook him. He thus won for himself and
his family ample wealth, and attained a position among his
fellow-men which those who have had the best advantages our
country affords might well envy. That wealth and that posi-
tion he used with a just liberality and influence for the benefit
of all around and dependent upon him. Though dead, he yet
speaketh to every man in humble business, — go thou and do
likewise, and such shall be thy reward in life and in death.

" Renolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be furnished
for publication in all the papers of the county, and a copy
thereof, signed by the officers, be presented to the family of the


Jeremiah Peirsel was born in what is now Perry
township, March 4, 1787, and died in Menallen
township, Nov. 20, 1880. He was of Welsh descent,
and educated in the common schools. He was mar-
ried to Mary Beal, of Menallen township, in 1810.
They had twelve children, seven sons and five daugh-
ters. He was always a farmer, and located upon the
farm where his son Samuel now resides in 1824, and
remained there until his death. He was an exemplary
member of the old Redstone Baptist Church for more
than sixty years. He never held a political office ;
never had a lawsuit; never had any difficulties with
his neighbors. His long life was due in a measure,
no doubt, to his amiable disposition. He had all the
good qualities that usually attend a lovable disposi-
tion. He belonged to a long-lived family. The aver-
age age of himself, brothers, and sisters is eighty years.

His father, William Peirsel, came to Fayette County
from Chester County, Pa., early in life. He married
Grace Cope. They had eight children. Jeremiah
was the third. William died in 1848, supposed to be
over one hundred years old. Grace died in 1854, aged

Seven of the children of Mr. Peirsel are living, — Eliz-
abeth, married to James McLaughlin; Samuel, mar-
ried to Maria Radcliffe ; Jeremiah, Jr., who married
Melvina N. Frasher, and has one living son, Isaac
F., who has received a liberal education, is a farmer,
and is married to Mary Hormel, and has one cliild,
Arthur L. Peirsel, the only grandchild of Jeremiah,
Jr. The other four children are Sarah, married to
Henry Frasher ; Anne, married to Jacob Grant ;
William, married to Catharine McKay ; and Uriah,
married to Dettie Swayne. One of his sous, Levi,
was killed in the late war at the battle of Petersburg.

For a great part of her life the wife of Mr. Peirsel
was seriously afiiicted by mental maladies, and he
took the utmost tender care of her, never being heard
to complain of his unhappy lot.

Jeremiah Peirsel, Jr., well maintains the goodly
name he bears, is industrious and thrifty, and in the
enjoyment of a comfortable home and a competency,
which he has acquired through his own energy and
business sagacity. He, like his father, has the con-

fidence of his neighbors, and if not so gentle and
retiring as his father it is because the latter was
extremely so.

James Allison, without whose biography the his-
tory of Menallen township, and particularly of the
village of Searight's, would be incomplete, was born
near Laurel Hill, in Fayette Co., Pa., Dec. 22, 1801.
His parents lived and died in that ueighborhood, and
their remains were buried in the Laurel Hill grave-
yard. In early life James Allison moved from the
locality of Laurel Hill, and settled on Redstone
Creek, Fayette Co., Pa., and learned to be a fuller of
cloth under William Searight, in whose family he
ever afterwards made his home. When William Sea-
right bought the homestead on which is the village
of Searight's, James Allison moved with him to it,
where he lived and died. He was born to no other
inheritance than that of a noble character and good
name, and was in early life thrown upon these his
only resources. He held the responsible oflice of
commissioner of the county from 1837 to 1840, and,
as was the case in all his business transactions, ac-
quitted himself creditably and honorably. He also
held the oflice of justice of the peace for many years,
and was postmaster at the village of Searight's from
the time of the establishment of the office in 1845
until within a very short time of his death, having
filled the longest continuous term of oflice of any
postmaster in the State, and perhaps in the United
States. So long and so very attentively did he oc-
cupy this position that he became a part of the town,
thought to be entirely indispensable. He was a con-
scientious and consistent member of the Episcopal



Clmrcli, and was for very many years senior warden of
Grace Clnirch, Menallen. He was married in early
life, and his wile died shortly after their marriage.
He had no family. The life of James Allison is well
worthy of imitation. It was straightforward, unfal-
tering, uiK-he(iuered, and uneventful. His habits
were extremely plain, simple, sensible, sober, tem-
perate, and industrious. His manner was free, oi^en,


Eobert Jackson was born in Menallen township,
upon the farm where he now resides, Oct. 11, 1831.
He is of Irish descent, and was educated *n the com-
mon schools. He learned the business of farming,
and has always been engaged in it. He was married
Nov. 7, 1867, to Catharine Murdock, of Pittsburgh,

friendly, frank, and rourtcous. His character was a
perfect light-house of honesty, truthfulness, and up-
rightness. So hi-lily was lie e-liriiu-,! for tlu-e (|Uul-
ities, it liccamc a coiniiioii savin- in tlir surrouiidinu'
community of which he \\ii~ :i ]i:irt tli:it '■ if .liimiiv
Allison says it is so it iiiu>t ho>,i: ' .ir. ■■ If .limiiiv
Allison .li.l s., it iiui>i 1... li-li!.' Tli.-r vivihl;- Mill
reverently lin-cr in tli.' ninn.M-i.'-, of Ins ol,| nci-hhoiv.
He died Midilcnly on .Inly 4, 1881, of a congestive
spasm, to which lie sulijict. His remains were in-
terred in ( !rai-e (.'hunli burial-ground on July 5, 1881.
The Rev. R. S. Smith, rector 'of St. Peter's' Church,
I'niontown, and Grace Church, Menallen, officiated
at liis funeral, and in the course of his remarks said
that he had known James Allison intimately for
twenty years, and for that period had been his per-
sonal friend, and he knew of notliing in his life and
character that he would have blotted t'roin the Imok
of remembrance. Kotwidistandiiii;: il was mid-har-
vest, and the weather was e.\tremely hot, Grace
Church was crowded by neighbors and friends to
witness the funeral rites of James Allison — an honest
man — "God's noblest work."

Pa. They have no children. He has never held any
office, and never sought one, and is not a church-
member. His father left him a small legacy, to which
he has added yearly by good farming.

His fatl


Jackson, was born in the same
townsliiii. and was a farmer. He married Lydia
Wocdwaid. Tiiey had a family of eight children,
i.nly ihiiM' iif whom grew up. Robert is the eldest.
/:idM,lc, ilio tather, died May 7, 18(51, aged fifty-six;
Lydia, lii- widow, is still living. Mr. Robert Jackson
is a modi^i. una»iiniing man. He has a good farm,
and enjoys the respect of his neighbors. He takes
delight in his business, does all his work well, and is
noted for his hospitality, charity, and industry. Mr.
Jackson is a Republican in politics.

Hr(;H GR.\HAM.

Hugh (!iraham died at his liome in Menallen town-
ship, May 19, 1S79, aged eighty-three years. He was
born in the northern part of Ireland in 1796, and was
of Scotch extraction, his father and mother having
been born in Scotland. His education was received


in the " pay schools" of Ireland. At an early age he
learned the carpenter's trade in all its branches.
When twenty-two years of age he emigrated to
America. .He stopped in Philadelphia for a short


time, and was there in the employ of Stephen Girard,
for whom he built some of the finest houses then in
Philadelphia. He then moved to Pittsburgh, thence to
Uniontown. Here he remaine'd and worked at his
trade for a number of years, builJingsomeof the finest
houses in the county, among which are the Gallatin
house of Springhill township, now owned by Mrs.
John L. Dawson ; the residence of Col. Samuel Evans,
of North Union, the dwelling occupied by Judge Will-
son, the fine house on Main Street, Uniontown, for-
merly owned and occupied by the late Judge Na-

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 152 of 193)