Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 165 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 165 of 193)
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1839, Uriah Strickler was drowned while attempting
to take a boat through the falls. The accident oc-
curred in March, but the body of the drowned man
was not found till the following May. In 1850 a man
was lost from a log raft above Connellsville, and his
body was found a month later at these fells.


Under the operation of the public school law of
1834, school districts were organized in the territory
now Perry township, then included in Washington
and Tyrone. After the erection of Perry as a separate
township it was redistricted as it is at the present
time into seven school districts, as follows :

Summer Hill District is in the north part of the



township, bordering on the line of Westmoreland
County, and west of the Youghiogheny River. The
school-house is nearly in the territorial centre of the

West Point District embraces all the territory of
the township lying between the Youghiogheny and
Jacob's Creek.

Poplar Hill District lies west of Perryopolis, and
extends to the west line of the township. The school-
house is located near the line.

Perry District embraces the greater part of the vil-
lage of Perryopolis, and extends northwardly to the

Herschel District includes part of the village of
Perryopolis, and extends eastward along the Youghio-
gheny. The school-house is about a mile southeast of
the village.

Stickle District lies in the southwest part of the
township. The school-house is near the centre of the
district, on the main road running southwest from

Jackson District is in the southeast part of the
township. Its school-house is near the residence of
J. B. Blair.

The number of pupils attending the several schools
of the township in 1880-81 was four hundred and
forty-four. Number of teachers, nine; valuation of
school property, S8U00 ; total expenditure for educa-
tional purposes during the school year, $1632.50.

Following is a list of persons who have been elected
school directors in Perry from the organization of the
township to 1881, viz. :


Henry Stimcl.


Henry Stone.

Joseph Luce.

John Patterson.

John Hewitt.

Josiah King.

Robert Bleakley.


Josiah King.


Pierson Cope.

John A. Murphy.


Joseph Bute.


Samuel Watson.


Alexander Armstrong.

John Porter.

David Potter.


Joel Cooper.


Presley St. Clair.

Peter Darr.

John Dewilter.


Josiah King.

Edward Stickle.

Eli McLean.


John H. Blaney. -


Henry Hardesty.

James Piersall.

James Porter.

Jacob Strickler.


James Cope.


Ralph Whilsett.

J.ames Blair.

Lewis Eberhart.


Charles Rossell.

Josiah King.

George Anderson.


Amos C. Strawn.

David Fuller.

Job Rossell,


Harvey Leeper.


James Patterson.

Samuel Hoggest.

William Price.

Noah Armstrong.

Henry Stimel.


Samuel Uncksterte


Henry Stimel.

John Puroell.

Jamt^ Gwinn.


Aaron Townsend.


James Blair.

Henry Foster.

Joel Strawn.

William L. Grist.

Job Rossell.


Adam Higinbaugh


Adam Higinbaugh.

William Hopkins.

William Campbell.

Gottlieb Zizing.

James Blair.


Joseph Luce.


Robinson Murphy.


J. D. Cope.


William Hopkins.


Joseph D. Wilgus.

J. K. McDonald.

B. C. Slocum.

Samuel Smith.

David Morrow.

Henry Stine.

Andrew Patterson.

John Gwinn.


J. R. Hough.


William Luce.

John Blackburn.

Paul Hough.


Joel Strawn.

John K Marsh.

Hugh Patterson.

Samuel Albertson.


John H. Davidson.


Joseph A. Ebbert.

Philip Luce.

James Porter.


Nathaniel Stephens.

Michael Layton.

Asa Chambers.

John Blackman.


W. C. Drumm.


Thomas Little.

P. F. Harris.

David Luce.


Joseph Newcomer.

William Gibson.


Nathaniel Stephens.


William Patterson.

Asa Chambers.

William RosselL


W. C. Drumm.

George W. Jackson.

Gouchen Hixenbaugh.


Josiah King.


The Methodist Episcopal Church in Perryopolis
was organized within a few years after the laying out
of the town, and was from the first embraced on a
circuit with other appointments. For many years
their services were held in the school-house and in
the bank building. About 1832 they erected a church
edifice, which has been used as a house of worship
until the present time, it having been repaired and
remodeled in 1872. Among the preachers who have
served this church may be named the Revs. Robert

Boyd, Sawhill, John Coyle, James Larscom,

Samuel Wakefield, John Wakefield, J. C. Pershing,
Patterson, Sheets, Davis, Cartie, and others. The
church has now no regular pastor, but has a mem-
bership of about seventy-five. It belongs to the
Redstone Circuit, being one of four appointments,
viz. : Perry, Upper Middletown, Jones', and Dunbar.

Other denominations hold occasional services in
the village of Perryopolis.

The Harmony Church (Cumberland Presbyterian)
congregation, in Perry township, first used as a house
of worship a log building which was' erected for the
purpose on land owned by William Bleakley, where
there had previously been a distillery. The present
church edifice (a frame structure) was built in the fall
of 1859.

Among the pastors who have labored with this con-
gregation have been the Revs. John Gibson, H. J.
I Anderson, A. J. Swaim, James Beard, Luther Ax-
' tell, S. E. Hudson, and W. M. Hayes, the present

On the road leading from Perryopolis to the Red
Lion, and near the township line between Perry and
Jefferson, stands the old Quaker meeting-house, or
rather the ruins of it, for the roof has fallen in, leav-
ing only the ancient walls standing. This was built
by the Friends of this vicinity so many years ago that


7. ^^OX/zd^^:^^"^



none now living remember its erection. Adjoining
tlie site of this old meeting-house, and also adjoining
lands of S. Strickler, T. Shepard, and heirs of Benja-
min Brown, is the old Quaker burial-ground, sur-
rounded by a substantial iron fence, and kept in good
condition by a small fund donated by some one of the
Quaker sect for the purpose. In this old cemetery-
ground lie interred the remains of many of the early
Friends and other settlers of the vicinity, — Jonathan
Hewitt, John Shreve, Joseph Shreve, Samuel Cope,
Joshua Cope, Isaac Cope, John Negus, Joseph Negus,
Joseph Shepard, William Nutt, Jesse Couldron, Wil-
liam Griffith, and many others. With the exception
of this old ground the places of interment of those
who died in Perry township in early years were upon
the farms.

In Perryopolis a burial-ground was established on
the land of the Methodist Episcopal Church, but
burials are now chiefly made in the Mount Washing-
ton Cemetery, which was laid out on land takeu for
the purpose from the farm of Cyrus Martin, about a
mile and a half south of the town.

There is also a cemetery in use at the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church in the Browneller settlement.



Although a young man. Dr. John H. Davidson, of
Perryopolis, is one of the prominent physicians of
Fayette County. He was born Nov. 15, 1845, in Red-
stone township, Fayette Co., at the old Brownfield
tavern stand, two miles east of Brownsville, on the
National pike. His early life was passed upon his
father's farm in much the same manner that farmers'
boys usually spend their time. He was educated in
the common schools and Dunlap's Creek Academy,
and read medicine in the office of Dr. Samuel B.
Chalfant, of Upper Middletown, Fayette Co., and
attended lectures at and graduated from the Medical
Department of the Western Reserve University, of
Cleveland, Ohio. He began his course in this college
in 1868, and graduated in 1870. He was married Dec.
26, 1871, to Chilnissae J. Chalfant, daughter of Dr. S. B.
and Elizabeth Chalfant. Mrs. Davidson died June 27,
1877. They had one child, Clayton Torrance David-
son, now a bright boy of eight years. The doctor
was married again Jan. 10, 1881, to Mary E., the
sister of his former wife.

Dr. Davidson is of English stock. His father,
Jacob Davidson, was born in Westmoreland County,
Pa., and married Hannah Kelley, of the same
county. Soon after his marriage he located upon the
farm where the doctor was born. He died in 1858.
Mr. Davidson's occupation was farming. He was a

prominent member of the United Brethren Church,
and was noted for his piety, and was a local preacher.

The doctor's grandfather, Jacob Davidson, was
born in England. When quite young his father, who
was a minister of the gospel, emigrated to America,
and located in Philadelphia. Jacob, the doctor's
grandfather, married Mary Young, of Franklin
County, Pa. They came to Fayette County in 1837,
and settled on the Basil Brown tract of land, near
Brownsville. He died April 15, 1856, aged seventy-
four years. He was a miller by trade, owned a large
amount of land, and was long a director in the Mo-
nongahela Bank, of Brownsville.

After graduating Dr. Davidson first i)racticed his
profession in company with his preceptor and father-
in-law, Dr. Chalfant. He located in Perryopolis in
December, 1872. From the beginning his practice
there has been large and lucrative. He is recognized
as a skillful physician. His judgment is excellent ;
his knowledge of men and general business acute.
He has held the office of school director in Perry
township, and, according to a late county superin-
tendent of schools, was one of the very best directors
in Fayette County. His possessions are houses, lands,
bank stock, brick-works, book accounts, energy,
good health, good sense or brai7is.

The doctor's maternal grandfather, Jacob Kelley,
was born in England, came to America when young,
and settled in Westmorefand County, Pa.

Dr. Davidson's parents, Jacob and Mary Davidson,
were married June 2, 1835, and had ten children,
nine of whom are living, — Mary, married to John
Rice, Nov. 2, 1855; Elizabeth, married March 12,
1862, to Otho Brashear; Kate, married Jan. 23,
1867, to Benton Bennett ; Lou, married Jan. 3,
1871, to James F. Grable ; Haddie, married July
24, 1873, to Jesse Coldren ; Anna, married Nov. 12,
1874, to Luther Noble ; Amos W., married May 29,
1878, to Maggie Vernon ; and Ada, who is single.

Among the old families of Perry township we find
the name of Peirsol. The first of the family to settle
in Fayette County was William Peirsol, who bought
of Thomas Estel, in 1784, the farm now owned in
part by James and Lewis Peirsol. He was married
to Miss Grace Cope, and was born, according to the
Cope genealogical history, about the year 1748. For
a time Mr. Peirsol lived in a rudely built cabin, which
in time gave way to a log house, which at that time
was considered a model of elegance and comfort, and
which >till -tands on the farm of James Peirsol. In
thi- lie resided till his death at a ripe old age. His
children were John, born in 1782; Sarah, 1785 ; Jere-
miah, 1787; Samuel, 1789; Mary, 1792; Elizabeth,
1794; William, 1797 ; and James, the subject of this
sketch, May 29, 1799. All of the children grew to
man's and woman's estate. On the 29th day of June,



1823, James was married to Elizabeth Gue, who was
born Oct. 2, 1806. To them have been born John,
June 10, 1825 ; Mary Jane, Dec. 2, 1827 ; James A.,
Feb. 5, 1830 ; Sarah, Feb. 6, 1832 ; Joseph, July 4,
18.34; Emeline, Feb. 2, 1837 ; Edith, March 17, 1839;
Nancy V., May 6, 1842 ; and Jacob L., Nov. 28, 1851.
After his marriage he went to Ohio and settled on a
tract of wild land owned by his father. Here he re-
mained four years, clearing away the forests and im-
jiriiving the farm when not engaged in his favorite
jiiirsuit of hunting, of which he was passionately
fond, and at which he became an expert. Not liking
his new home, he returned at the expiration of the
four years, -his place being filled by an older brother.
On the death of his father the old homestead fell to
him, on which he still resides and to which he has
added, until it now comprises 300 acres of valuable
land. For more than thirty years Mr. Feirsol has
been a consistent member of the Baptist Church, and
through a long life has been an honored and respected


In the year 181(5, George King, with his wife and
children, moved into Fayette County, and in the town-
ship of Perry bought the fulling-mills which are now
known as the Strickler mill property. It was a part
of the General Washington tract. George was the son
of Michael King, who was of German descent, and
was born in York County, Pa. After his marriage to
Susan Husbands he moved to Somerset County, where
he bought a farm, on which he passed the remainder
of his days. He was a local Methodist preacher, and
his descendants have nearly all been of the same re-
ligious faith.

George was born July 4, 1774, on the home-farm in
Somerset County, and, as set forth above, emigrated to
Fayette County in 1816. He was a carpenter, and at
intervals followed that calling for many years, quitting
it finally for the farm. In 1794 he was joined in mar-
riage to Miss Catherine Stickle. The result of this
union was nine children, two of whom died in infancy ;
the others were Susan, Josiah, Enos, Caroline, Rachel,
Mary, and William. He operated the fulling-mills a
few years, then sold out and bought the farm now

owned by James Carson. In 1840 he built a house
near Perryopolis, in which he resided till his death,
Nov. 7, 1844 ; his wife died July 24, 1838. Both were
members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Josiah King, of whom this brief sketch is written,
was born Dec. 18, 1801, on Laurel Hill, in Somerset
Co., Pa. His chances for an education were limited
to a few months' attendance at a country school, and
completed in the school of life by observation and re-
membering what he saw, making his judgment on any
subject desirable. From the age of sixteen to nineteen
years he served as an apprentice as a cloth-dresser with
Myers & McClay. He was then for three years a
partner of William Searight in woolen cloth dressing,
when the building of woolen-factories made their
business unprofitable. We now for a few years find
him building boats on the Youghiogheny River, and
shipping sand and stone to Cincinnati and other
points. This business proved remunerative, and he
obtained a start in life. In 1835 he went on the farm
he with others had bought in 1828 in Jefferson town-
ship. There he remained until 1845, when he rented
of Robert Lynch the farm which he now owns (bought
in 1848), and where he intends to pass the remainder
of his long and upright life. The farm now consists

' of 180 acres of well-improved land, the result of in-
dustry and good management. On the 3d day of July,
1823, he was married to Nancy Lynch, daughter of
Robert and Mercilla (Martin) Lynch. She was born
May 27, 1804, on the farm where they now reside.
Their children are L. R., born Aug. 11, 1824, married
to Rebecca Shepherd. He emigrated to Winona
County, of which he was three terms sheriff; died
Nov. 8, 1868. Elizabeth, born March 5, 1826, mar-
ried Dec. 25, 1845, to S. B. Chalfant. Catherine, born
Jan. 28, 1828, married Michael C. Cramer; died May
21, 1855. E. L. King, born Feb. 17, 1830, married
March 21, 1854, to Miss Mary M. Sanborn. He is a
physician of Ashtabula, Ohio, of which place he is
now mayor. Enos King, born June 12, 1834, mar-
ried June 12, 1856, to Polly C. Stephens. Mary Jane,
born March 19, 1836, married to Rev. John Mclntyre,
March 15, 1860. Mercilla Ann, born Aug. 17, 1838,

[ married Aug. 18, 1864, to John H. Martin. She
died May 6, 1870. And George F., born Feb. 11, 1841,

I died May 17, 1851.




Redstone, one of the western townships of Fay-
ette, has for its boundaries Jefferson on the north,
Menallen and German on the south, Franklin and
Menallen on the east, and Brownsville and Luzerne
on the west. The total valuation of Redstone sub-
ject to county tax in 1881 was $660,948, or a decrease
from 1880 of $8895. Its population June, 1880, was

Redstone contains valuable coal deposits, but these
lie deep in the earth in most localities. Upon the
land of Robert Tate and in the contiguous region the
coal vein is rich and easy of development. The great
highway through Redstone is now the old National
road (so called), but a line of railway (the Redstone
extension of the Pittsburgh, Virginia and Charleston
Road) running along the northeastern border of the
township is now nearly completed and will prove of
great benefit to the people of Redstone.

Innumerable water-courses traverse the township,
but Redstone and Dunlap's Creeks are the most notice-
able and about the only ones having mill-power. The
surface of the country is uneven and in many places
quite hilly. There are many valuable farms and
some rough ones, but generally considered the agri-
cultural resources aj-e quite up to the average. Oil
deposits have been found on Redstone Creek and in
other places. Oil-wells were sunk in 1870 by a com-
pany styled the Farmers' and Mechanics' Oil Com-
pany, and in some cases to the depth of a thousand
feet, but operations were not satisfactorily pursued,
although indications of more than ordinary promise
were apparent. It is thought by many that profitable
oil-wells will yet be sunk and operated in this town-

The township received its name from that of the
creek which forms its northeastern boundary. The
reason why the name was originally given to the
creek is told in the "American Pioneer" (vol. ii. p.
55), as follows:

'■ The hills around abounded with bituminous coiil, and along
the water-courses, where the earth had been washed off, the coal
was left exposed. The inflammability of that mineral must
have been known to the inhabitants at that early period, for
where those exposures happened fire been communicated,
and an ignition of the coal taken place, and probably continued
to burn until the com]iactncss and solidity of the body and want
of air caused its extinguishment. These tires in their course
came in contact with the surrounding earth and stone and gave
them a red appearance: indeed, so completely burned were

thev thatwhe


ing, for Spanish brown. Many of the red banks are now visi-
ble; the most prominent one, ]>erhaps. is that near the junction
of a creek with the Monongahela River, a short distance below
the fortification, and which bears the name of Bedstone, doubt-
less from the red appearance of the bank near its mouth."

But the State geologist, in the third annual report
on the geological survey of the State of Pennsylva-
nia, gives a different account of the origin of the
ignition of the coal-banks, viz. : " In many places the
coal of the roofs has been precipitated by a slipping
of the hillside upon the lower part of the seam, in
which case the latter has often taken fire from the
heat evolved by the chemical decomposition. This
has occurred particularly at the mouth of Redstone
Creek, in Fayette County, where the overlaying slate
has been reddened by the combustion."

The earliest settlements in what is now known as
the township of Redstone were made west and south
of the centre, although there was but little difference
in point of time between settlements in that section
and in the country along the Redstone Creek. In-
deed, some authorities give the creek region the pre-
cedence, but the advantage upon either side was too
slight to call for special investigation. Among the
first who came into Redstone to stay, if not indeed
the very first, was George Kroft, the ancestor in this
county of the now numerous Crafts, who through the
changes of time have Anglicized the spelling and
pronunciation of the name from Kroft to Craft. Mr.
Kroft came from Germany to America as a " redemp-
tioner," — that is, he sold himself to pay his passage.
Upon arriving in America he was indentured to Samuel
Grable, a farmer living on the Eastern Shore of Mary-
land. In 1771, Kroft found himself in the possession
of a family, some means, and an ambition to better
his fortunes in a new country. Such a country he dis-
covered in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and in Fayette
County in the same year of 1771 he tomahawked a
claim of eight hundred acres in the present township
of Redstone. The land lay near and north of the
site of the Dunlap's Creek Church, and near that site,
not far from Dunlap's Creek, he put up his cabin.
In testimony of the wild and lonesome condition of
the region in which he located, he used to relate that
his nearest neighbor wiis nine miles distant in Ger-
man township, at a place called High House, and his
next nearest at Beesontown (now Uniontown). It
would appear from these declarations made by Mr.



Kroft that he must have been at the time of his loca-
tion the only settler in what is now Redstone town- j
ship. In 1772, Mr. Kroft made a trip to Eastern
Maryland for a supply of salt and other commodities,
and upon his return brought a half-dozen young
apple-trees and set them out near his house. One of
the six apple-trees brought in by Mr. Kroft in 1772
still bears fruit, and, beyond that distinction even, is
claimed to be the largest apple-tree in Fayette
County. Six inches from the ground it measures
two feet six inches in diameter, and it is said to have
borne oue season seventy-five bushels of apples.
This tree stands on George M. Craft's farm.

Mr. Kroft (dying in 1806) had four sons, named
Samuel, Benjamin, David, and John. Benjamin
lived and died on a portion of the old farm, Samuel
died in Luzerne, John in Greene County, and David
on the old farm in 1837. David, who was the father
of Mr. Elijah Craft, of Redstone, used to tell his son
about the trials and privations that waited on pioneer
life in Redstone, and among other things told how be
and one of his brothers once rode twenty-five miles
to a mill on the Youghiogheny to get a grist ground.
For subsistence while they were gone they carried a
mess of boiled corn, and when they got to the mill
they found so many customers before them that by
the time their turn came they had eaten all their
boiled corn and spent a couple of days and nights in
waiting, so that when they started for home it was
upon empty stomachs that landed them at the parental
roof-tree in a condition bordering upon starvation.
David Croft, herein referred to, became the father of i
thirteen children, and when his wife died the young- |
est of the children was but three weeks old. David
bestowed watchful care upon them all, small as they I
were, despite the exhaustive field of labor incident to
his farming pursuits, and gave to each a good educa-
tion. Of the thirteen children six were boys. Of the
six boys, Elijah Craft, of Redstone, is the only one
now living. His brother George, who died in Ohio
in 1877 at the age of eighty-eight, rode when a boy
with his father to Brownsville in the winter of 1799-
1800 to view the funeral ceremonies of Washington
there displayed.

One of the daughters of old George Kroft married
Peter Colley, one of Redstone's noted pioneers and a
popular landlord uf his day. George Kroft died in
1806, but how nl,l hv was he did not know himself,
for he was a man Imt little given to either learning,
reflection, .ir uli-civation. George B. Craft, one of
his graiiiUiiii-, 'li..! in Redstone in 1878, aged ninety-
three. AiiiiIIh'i- oI' his grandsons, George, was at one
time sheriff of Fayette County.

During the early period of George Kroft's residence
in Redstone settlers felt much apprehension concern-
ing Indian ravages, and although no very serious
trouble came to them from that source, they were in
constant dread for a time. Tliere was at Merrittstown
a fort, whither at the first alarm <if the near presence

of Indians neighboring inhabitants would flee, to
remain until the signs of danger were past. A story
told of a Mr. Wade, who lived on the present Fought

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 165 of 193)