Franklin Ellis.

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

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Congresses. In 1812 a gloom was cast over him by
the death of his favorite son, James Morris Griffin,
who was killed in battle in the war with England.

Mr. Griffin voted to sustain Mr. Madison in all his
war measures, and ever enjoyed his confidence, as
well as that of his constituents. For no vote that he
gave during the ten years that he was in public life
was he censured, but for a vote that he did not give
he was blamed. It was said that when the vote was
taken to increase the pay of members of Congress he
was not in the house. He felt stung by the comments
of a writer in his home paper, and would not allow his
name used as a candidate for re-election.

In 1824, Mr. Griffin was the Crawford electoral can-
didate for the Fayette district, but was of course de-
feated, as the State went largely for Jackson. Mr.
Griffin could never be induced to make a publ
speech, but his conversational powers were of a high
order, and these made him a general favorite. The
ablest men of the nation would with pleasure listen
to hear him talk. His personal dislike to Gen. Jackson
was caused by the hanging of Alexander Arbuthnot
and Robert C. Ambrister in Florida after they were
cleared by court-martial. This opposition to Gen.
Jackson caused Mr. Griffin to lose his great popularity
among his neighbors, where Jackson was a great
favorite.

Mr. Griffin had features of the Roman type, with
black hair and deep-blue eyes. In height he was six
feet two inches, and had a powerful physical organi-
zation. Although he was modest and retiring he
possessed a chivalric nature, and he was not slow to
resent an insult. While in Congress he had a diffi-



ic i



culty with a member from South Carolina, which
would have been a serious affair bul^ for the timely
interference of other members. At a public dinner
in Uniontown an Englishman, who was an officer of
the old Uniontown Bank, spoke of Mrs. Madison in
the most disgraceful terms, and for this act of ill-
breeding Mr. Griffin knocked him down at the table,
an act for which he was greatly applauded at the
time.

Soon after he settled in his new home in Fayette
County his wife joined Father Woodbridge's Seventh-
Day Baptist Church, and remained a consistent mem-
ber until her death, which occurred in her eightieth
yeaf, although she had been an invalid for fifty years.
Her husband, although not a member, gave his sup-
port to the regular Baptist Church. This caused them
to have a Sabbath and a Sunday in their house for
about forty years, but this occasioned no jar, for
everything moved on smoothly, and they traveled
life's pathway harmoniously, although differing
widely in most things. After Mr. Griffin retired
from public life he remained on his farm until his
death, at the age of seventy years, occasioned by a
fall from a loaded wagon. The Rev. John Patton, of
the Baptist Church, who performed the funeral ser-
vice, said, "Mr. Griffin did not attach himself to the
church for reasons best known to himself, but he was
an Israelite indeed in whom there was no guile.''
His wife survived him several years. They had ten
children, four sons and six daughters, all of whom
survived their father except the sons James M. and
Isaac. One of the daughters, Ann, married James
W. Nicholson. She resided during her life near New
Geneva. Charles Nicholson is the only representa-
tive of this branch of the family remaining. Mary
Griffin married Andrew Oliphant. Joseph E. Griffin
was formerly a member of the State Legislature from
Fayette County, and is now living in Texas. Wil-
liam P. Griffin is of the original stock, a descendant
of Isaac and Mary Griffin.

Robert Ross was an early settler. It does not ap-
pear that in the early part of the Revolutionary war
he was reckoned among the adherents of the patriot
cause, but in June, 1779, he took the oath of allegi-
ance to Pennsylvania, and afterwards served to the
end of the war under Gen. Anthony Wayne. At the
close of the struggle he, like thousands of others,
was paid the arrears due him for services in Conti-
nental money, which was depreciated to one-fortieth
of its face value. He afterwards served in the vari-
ous Indian campaigns in Ohio and Indiana, rising to
the rank of captain. In the Whiskey Insurrection of
1794, Capt. Ross was on the side of the insurgents,
and commanded a company of about one hundred
men of the western and southwestern parts of the
county, a part of the (supposed) available force of
the insurrectionists to be used in opposition to the
government. At the head of this company Capt. Ross
marched to Uniontown in August, 1794, to raise the



700



HISTORY OF FAYETTE COUiNTY, PENxNSYLVANlA.



" liberty poles" in the town, and two miles south of
it at Gaddis' place. When Gen. Lee came in with
his army to suppress the insurrection, a squadron of
cavalry was sent towards the Monongahela for the
capture of Robert Ross as insurgent leader, but the
expedition was unsuccessful. The powder-horn and
other Revolutiiiiiarv arcnutrements of Capt. Ross are
in the posses>i(iii (if liis -randsons in Iowa. Another
of his grandsons is the lion. Moses A. Ross, of Som-
erset County, Pa.

In Nicholson, on the road leading from JIasontown
to New Geneva, riri the "Goose Neck," is a tract of
land on whicli was the settlement of a Mr. Graham,
who came there from Washington County, Pa. On
this he erected a mill and distillery, some vestiges
of which are still in existence, located on Jacob's
Creek. Graham having become heavily indebted to
Jesse Evans (father of Col. Samuel Evans, now living
near Uniontown), sold this property to one Haught.
Tlie buildings were destroyed by fire soon afterwards.
Graham emigrated to ( 'inciiinati, 01ii<i, where he be-
came engaged in tlic manufacture of jiaper. It has
been said of him that he was a lirothcr-in-law of
President William II. Harrison, Init this is not
known to have been a fact.



Th.



hrst



it..- men who visited the place where
village of New Geneva were William



J,.h



ingle. Samuel Pt



Joseph
of F..rt



Child.
Lin.l-.

Pitt, wh,. .I.^-.tI.mI tV..ni th.' |iuM in th,- year 17(11,
and Iravek-d ii|) the .M.monguhchi to this place, at
the month of Georges Creek, but before the stream
liad ever been known by that name. They remained
here but a short time, liowever, and not liking the
location moved eastwar.l t.i th.- up|.ur waters ..l' th.-
Youghiogheny, where they li\.-.l in tli.- '■ (Hades" re-
gion for about a year, and then move.l s.iutliward
into Virginia, and lived for some years on the waters
of Buckbannon River.

These men, however, e.udd n.it in any sense be re-
ganl.-.l a>e\en t.-nipniai-y .v. ///. ,n .>n the M.mongahela,
the tir^t |i(r-.in uh.i a.tually .■^etllell at .ir in the vicin-
ity of the site of New Geneva lieing CI. ( ieorge Wil-
son, who, as has already been mention. - I, eame there
about 17(35, and gave to the creek his own name, —
Georges, — and thus to the township, when it was
formed (embracing the south part of what is now
Nicholson), the name of Springhill, from his former
home in Virginia. His resi.len.-.- .ni ( Jeorges Creek,
however, was not directly at th.- ni.iuth, but a short
distance above it, and his first purehust- .if land here
did not include to the bank of the Monongahela,
where Geneva village stands. This was warranted to
Col. Wilson's sons, Sept. 15, 1785, eight years after
their father's death. Tlie title afterwards passed to'
Albert (iallatin.

The first actual and iiermanent settler within the
town limits was Thomas Williams, a native of Dela-



ware, and a tailor by trade. The precise date of his
settlement here is not known, but it was not far from
the close of the Revolutionary war. On the 19th of
February, 1793, he married Joanna Phillips, daughter
of Theophilus Phillips, who was one of the earliest
settlers in this section, but on the south side of
Georges Creek. Thomas Williams became a some-
what prominent man, and was one of the most highly
respected citizens of the township. He received the
appointment of justice of the peace in or about 1797.
and served in that oflice satisfactorily to the people
and creditably to himself until his death in 1837, a
period of forty years. His son, Joseph G. Williams,
also filled the office of justice of the peace in Nichol-
son for thirty-five years.

From the time when Thomas Williams settled here
a few other settlers gathered round him from time to
time, until a number of straggling dwellings had clus-
tered on the river-bank and on the blufl' above it,
and in the early days, before the present name had
lieen given to the village, these little groups of houses
had received the names of " Wilson Port" and
" (George Town," applied respectively to the settle-
ment on the river margin and to that on the bluff,
the two embracing the two names of the early pro-
prietor of the neighboring lands, George Wilson.

The title to lands embracing the site on the river
being purchased by Mr. Gallatin, as before mentioned,
he laid out upon it the town of New Geneva, so named
by liim from Geneva, in his native Switzerland. The
"eharter" was acknowledged by Mr. Gallatin before
Justice Isaac Griffin, Oct. 31, 1797, the town plat bear-
ing date the 28th of the same month.

The building of the old glass-works in the vicinity
by ("4allatin and his partners, and the establishment
..I'the gun-factory, together with the residence of Mr.
( lallatin and some other persons of note in the vicinity,
gave to New Geneva (as the post-town of the sur-
rounding country) a considerable growth and much
prospective importance, which latter, however, has
proved to a great extent delusive. In 1797 the im-
pending danger of a foreign war and the passage of
an act to procure twenty thousand stand of arms
for the State, as also similar action in other States and
by the general government, led to the establishment
of gun-tiictories in various parts of the country, and
among these was the one established by Albert Gal-
latin and Melchoir Baker near New Geneva in 1799,
for the manufacture of muskets, broadswords, and
other arms. It was located in that part of Springhill
township which is now Nicholson, on land now or
recently owned by Philip Keefover. The establish-
ment employed from fifty to one hundred men. In
1800 the State contracted with this establishment for
two thousand muskets, and about the same time the
firm received an order from the general government
for a large number of arms. In 1801, when Mr. Gal-
latin was about being called to the head of the Treas-
ury Department, he came from Washington to New



NICHOLSON TOWNSHIP.



701



Geneva, and closed out his interest in the factory of
his partner, Mr. Baker, because his prospective posi-
tion as Secretary of the Treasury would render it im-
proper for him to be privately concerned in contracts
to which he would of necessity be a party on behalf
of the government. Mr. Baker continued the busi-
ness for several years and with some success until the
government armories at Harper's Ferry and Spring-
field, Mass., were established, when he abandoned the
gun-works in Fayette County and removed to Clarks-
burg, Va.

A memorable event in the history of New Geneva
was the visit, in 1825, of the Marquis de Lafayette
to Albert Gallatin, at the residence of the latter, at
" Friendship Hill," on the south side of Georges
Creek, in Springhill township. To reach that place
he would pass through the town of New Geneva, and
the time of his arrival had been announced a suffi-
cient time in advance to give an opportunity to make
preparations for a fitting reception.

" The streets were swept perfectly clean, the dwell-
ings decorated, and the inhabitants, dressed in their
best, patiently awaited the arrival of the distinguished
foreigner. For the purpose of escorting the General
to Gallatin's they had raised a company of men, who
were commanded by Captain Joseph Wood, with
James W. Nicholson as first lieutenant. These men
escorted the General and his suite through the town,
he the while standing uncovered in his carriage, re-
sponding to the salutations of the citizens. Having
arrived, he was conducted to Gallatin's house, where
the speeches of welcome and reply were made.
Lunch was .served to all upon the ample grounds.
After the speech-making and dining, several sur-
vivors of the Revolution were called for by the Mar-
quis. Frederick Eberhart, who assisted in bearing
the wounded General from the disastrous field of
Brandywine, was there. The meeting between these
old comrades was most affecting ; they embraced and
wept like children." After the ceremonies and fes-
tivities were concluded, Lafayette and suite, ac-
companied by Mr. Gallatin, returned to Uniontown,
from whence the Marquis proceeded on his way to
Pittsburgh.

Manufacturing has always been carried on to some
extent in New Geneva, though the high hopes that
were indulged in that direction on the establishment
of the old glass-works and gun-factory, more than
eighty years ago, are long since dead and almost for-
gotten. In 1837, Andrew Kramer, Baltzer Kramer,
Theophilus P. Kramer, and Philip Eeitz established
a glass-factory here. The style of the firm was An-
drew Kramer & Co. The brand was the same as that
of Albert Gallatin and the Kramers, who established
the first factory on Georges Creek in 1794, viz., " New
Geneva Glass." The last glass made in this factory
was by John C. Gabler and Charles Kramer, in 1857.
The sheritT had sold the works. Alexander Crow be-
4-3



came the owner, and sold to William H. Sheldon, and
he to Isaac P. Eberhart. Mr. Eberhart has demol-
ished the factory, and the lot is cultivated for garden
produce, which pays better than a glass-factory so far
from the needful material.

In 1840, William James established a foundry here.
After running it for a season, Shealor & Merryman

! bimght it and began making the celebrated cook-stoves
known as " Drum Stoves." The patent was granted

j to J. J. Anderson, Aug. 17, 1843. These stoves had

I a large sale_and were considered perfect. The foundry
has not run since the war of the Rebellion. Just on
the river-side of town stood the " Old River Mill," of
whose erection none can tell. It belonged to a class

! of mills now only found far up the head-waters of the
Monongahela. Duringdry seasons it did all the grind-

I ing for miles around. Daniel Hough has the only mill
now. The French Mills were located on Georges
Creek. They now belong to Warwick Ross' heirs.

The town of New Geneva is located in the extreme
southwest corner of Nicholson township, having

> Georges Creek on the south, and the Monongahela
River as its west line. Its site embraces the river
bottom, the bluff above, and intermediate levels.
The streets, except along the river and creek, are in
most parts steep and difficult. There are few preten-
tious buildings here, either business structures or
residences. The town is antiquated, and has little of
the modern look, yet a considerable amount of busi-
ness is done from this point, chiefly on the river,
this being practically the head of slack-water navi-
gation on the Monongahela. The fine steamers
"Geneva," " Germania," and "James G. Blaine,"
belonging to the Pittsburgh, Brownsville and New
Geneva Packet Company, make daih* trips from this
town to Pittsburgh, compensating in a great degree
for the lack of railroad facilities.

Among the buildings, institutions, and business of
the town are included a post-office (established before
the year 1800), signal service station, two school build-
ings, six stores, a grocery, warehouse and commission
business, three eating-houses, wagon-shop, blacksmith-
shop, a merchant tailor's establishment, two physi-
cians, two pottery-works, a saw-mill and grist-mill
(built by A. B. & M. Eberhart in 1837), three religious
organizations, — Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist,
— and two hundred and eighty-six inhabitants, ac-
cording to the United States census of 1880.

The only places in Nicholson township besides New
Geneva which can claim any approach to town or
village importance are Anderson and Woodward's
Cross-Roads. The former has a post-office, two stores,
and a blacksmith-shop, and is the polling-place for
the township. Woodward's Cross-Roads has a store
and several dwellings.

The township contains a number of saw-mills and
grist-mills. Among these are the Gray grist- and
saw-mills, Poundstone grist- and saw-mill, and Hon-
sacker's saw-mill. Many years ago Peter Johnson



HISTORY OF FAYETTE COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA.



carried on a foundry on Jacob's Creek, which is now
abandoned.

LIST OF TOWNSHIP OFFICERS.
The names of the persons elected to the principal
township offices in Nicholson from the time of its
erection to 1881 is given below, viz. :

JUSTICES OF THE PEACE,



1S45


.Joseph G. Williams.i


1863


James Woolsey.




Jubn Schnatterly.


1864


John Hague.


1846


John Schnatterly.


1865


.




Joseph G. Williams.


1866


Joseph G. Williams.


1851


Joseph G. Williams.


1867


David R. Gans.




George Beatty.


1868


George Beatty.


1856


Joseph G. Williams.


1869


.




John Weltner.


1870


Joseph G. Williams.


1857.


Francis Fast.


1871


.


1858.


Jacob Cover.


1872


.


185i).


Jacob Bowers.


1873.


George Beatty.


1S60.


Ephraim Walters.


1876.


Jos. Gordon Williams.


1861.


Joseph G. Williams.


1878.


George Beatty.


1862.


John F. Gans.


ISSI.


John C. Schnatterly.




.\SSE


SORS.




1846-


47. M'illiam P. Griffin.


1864.


J. B. Johnson.


1848.


John Poundstone.


1866.


William P. Bowers.


1849.


Andrew Davis.


1866.


Ephraim Walters.


1850.


Philip Gans.


1867.


Joseph Longanecker.


1861.


Samuel Franks.


1868.


Jacob Easter.


1852.


John Gans.


1869.


IVilliam Deffenbaugh.


1863.


Henry B. Maleby.


1870.


Henry L. Shank.


1864.


Andrew J. Walters.


1872.


Peter Johnson.


1865.


James Vanderslice.


1873.


James R. Dils.


1866.


Francis Fast.


1874.


Joseph Meredith.


.1857.


John T. Blackford.


1875.


Jacob Bowers.


1858.


Michael Schnatterly.


1876.


Andrew J. Walters.


1859.


Joseph Longanecker.


1877.


Alfred O'Neil.


1860.


Samuel Franks.


1878.


Jiimes L. Crow.


1861.


John Jaoo.


1879.


George W. Hager.


1862.


James Woolsey.


1880


Joseph Heath.


1863.


Andrew J. Walters.

AUDI


1881.
TOES.


John A. Walters.


1846


Thomas W. Nicholson.


1866


John F. Gans.


1847


James Davenport.


1867


Jacob Cover.


1848


John Moore.


1868


Michael W. Franks.


1849


Isiiae Franks.


1869


William Parshall.


1850.


Squire Green.


1870


David R. Gans.


1851


James Davenport.


1871.


.


1862


John Cunningham.


1872.


L. W. Schnatterly.


1853


Peter Johnson.


1873.


A. B. Johnson.


1854


Samuel Robinson.


1874


Michael Baker.


1855


John Weltner.




Henry L. Shank.


1856


Michael Franks.




Harvey F. Jaco.


1857


Isaac R. Franks.


1875


Henry L. Shank.


1858


Henry L. Shank.




A. B. Crow.


1859-


60. Meredith Mallory.


1876


Jacob Cover.


1861


Harvey Jaco.


1S77


Peter H. Franks.


1862


Andrew J. Walters.


1878


Samuel Johnson.


1863


John F. Gans.


1879


John F. Gans.


1864


Jacob Cover.


1881)


D. R. Anderson.


1865


Michael Schnatterly.


1881.


Lorenzo D. Ramsey.


1 Joseph G. Williams, a grandso


a of Col. Theophilus Phillips, who


served tliiity-flve years as a justic


B of the


peace. He is a resident of



SCHOOLS.
Before the passage of the common-school law of
Pennsylvania, schools in this section, as elsewhere,
were supported by subscription, but they were few
and of low grade, and were generally taught but a
few weeks in the year. In 1811 a school was taught
here by the Rev. James Dunlap, a Presbyterian cler-
gyman, who had among his scholars at that time
James Nicholson, Thomas Nicholson, Jr., David
Bradford, Jr., and Samuel Evans, who is now living,
an octogenarian, on his fine estate near Uniontown.
Under the free-school system, inaugurated by the law
of 1834, the following-named school-houses have been
built, viz., two in New Geneva, and one in each of
the following-named districts : " Woolsey's," " Grif-
fin's," "Robinson's," "Dogwood," "Pleasant Hill,"
and " Valley." Following is a list of school directors
elected in Nicholson from the erection of the town-
ship to 1881 :
1846.— John Robinson, William P. Griffin, John Moore, Rev.

James Quinter, James Hamilton, Samuel Ache.
1847. — Peter Johnson, Bonaparte Hardin.
1848. — Samuel Ache, Alexander Crow.
1849. — Joseph Baker, Jacob Bowers.
1850.— Peter Johnson, Thomas Campbell.
1861.— John Poundstone, Alexander Crow.
1862.— Samuel Robinson, William Watkins.
1863.— David Sutton, Francis Fast.
1864.— John Ache, John F. Gans.
1865. — Thomas Campbell, John Summers.
1856. — Jacob Bowers, Benjamin Dils, Michael Schnatterly.
1857.— George M. Woolsey, Lot Coleman.
1858.— Mich.ael Franks, William Zerly, Eph. Walters, Nicholas

Johnson.
1859.— Henry B. Maleby, J. Harvey Green.
I860.— Joseph Longanecker, Henry Franks.
1861.— William Zerly, John F. Gans, John J. Cover.
1862.— Nicholas B. Johnson, Michael Baker.
1863.— Alfred B. Eberhart, Joseph High.
1864.— William Zerly, Ephraim Walters.
1865.— John Hayne, Phineas West, Harvey Jaco.
1866.— A. B. Eberhart, James Hamilton, Jacob Fast.
1867.— Henry Dils, J. B. Johnson.
1868.- John Poundstone, Henry Franks.
1869.— Joseph David. Samuel Dillinger, Jacob Bowers.
1870.— Henry Franks, John Henry.
1872.— John P..uiidjt..nc, Ephraim Walters.
1873.— G. W. lln.n r, .l.iseph Longanecker.
1874.— Mi.Iiat-l W. Franks, Andrew J. Allebaugh.
1875.— John Z. Wbctslone, Isaac P. Eberhart.
1876.— William L. Miller, Jacob J. Johnson.
1877. — .Samuel Robinson, Silas R. Provance.
1878. — Amadee M. Franks, James Richey.
1879.— Ross Anderson, D. R. Gans, Michael Baker.



Hartle



1881.- Amade



Iks, Ja



Riche



CHURCHES.
MOUNT MORIAH CHURCH.

The records of Fayette County show that a Pres-
byterian Church was building in Springhill township
as early as 1773. The land upon which the church



NICHOLSON TOWNSHIP.



703



purchased of Jo-
taken from the



was erected (about four acres) \\:
seph Caldwell.' The following
records of the church :

" The congregation was organized as a church b)'
Rev. James Power, of New Castle Presbytery, in
1774. The elders were Robert McLain, Jame.s Pol-
lock, Theophilus Phillips, Thomas Ramsey, William
Hill, Abram Crow. Rev. James Power in 1776 set-
tled with his family on Georges Creek, where he
continued to reside for some years. In 1778, Rev.
James Dunlap preached for the congregation. Many
important changes took place about this time, the
most notable being the organization of the Red-
stone Presbytery. The Georges Creek or Mount
Moriah Church divided in 1781, the members north
of Georges Creek organizing the ' Old Frame,' thus
becoming the principal church and assuming control
of the mother or Mount Moriah Church, the whole
congregation being known as the ' Mount Moriah
Church.' Rev. James Findley preached the regular
sermon, and Henry Robinson, Joseph Caldwell, Rob-
ert Richey, Robert McLain, David Frame, and Wil-
liam Hill were ordained elders. This was in 1788. The
church was without a regular pastor. The supplies
were Revs. Thaddeus Dod, James Hughes. Joseph
Patton, James Dunlap, Samuel Porter, and others.
In 1789 they purchased of Richard Brown a log
house twenty by twenty, which answered their pur-
pose. It was used as a church in winter, but during
the summer the congregation worshiped in an adjoin-
ing grove. Robert Findley preached as supply in
1790-91, the church adding to their ground by a pur-
chase made of Isaac Phillips, Esq. By alterations
the house (now a frame) was enlarged to forty-eight
by thirty-six, and to Robert Findley were added as
supplies Revs. William Swan, George Hill, George
Mercer (president judge of Washington County, Pa.),
Jacob Jennings, and David Smith. In 1793 the
church united with Union or Tent, and in September,
1794, Rev. David Smith was regularly installed pas-
tor (the first of this congregation). He continued
in charge a little over three years.

1 The following, having reference to the purchase of the church land
from Joseph Caldwell and the erection of the church building upon it,



Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 160 of 193)