Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 166 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 166 of 193)
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place, is to the effect that each night he used to send
his wife and little ones to the fort at Brownsville,
while he himself would crawl into a hollowed log,
and thus rest securely if not comfortably until morn-
ing, consoled with the reflection that if the savages
should happen along there they would never dream
that an innocent-looking log contained human prey.

Isaiah Ratclift'e, a Quaker, was one of Redstone's
pioneer blacksmiths. He set up his shop near Dun-
lap's Creek Church, but did not tarry long. He died
before 1800. He had made the journey from the East
with Alexander Nelan, who made his settlement in
Luzerne on the river. A son of Isaiah Ratcliffe
now lives in Brownsville in his eighty-sixth year.

William Colvin, mentioned in early accounts as
having been in the territory now called Redstone
township as early as 1768, was doubtless a settler
two years before that, or in 1766. He tomahawked
a claim to a large tract of land, and put up a log
cabin near what is now known as the Dunham place,
not far from the Bath Hotel property. An old ac-
count-book kept by William Colvin, and now in the
possession of Samuel Colvin, of Redstone, discloses
the fact that William Colvin traded in a small way
at his home near Brownsville as early as 1766. Un-
der that date he charged John Sarvil, John Wise-
man, Mr. Hamer, David Cook, Jonathan Himer
with such articles as fine combs, rum, broadcloth,
whisky, tobacco, egg-punch, egg-nog, vinegar, etc.
In 1767 charges appear against John Davis, Cajit.
Colren, Andrew Grigen, James Brown, Jacob Dri-
nens, Richard Ashcraft, George Goran, George Moran,
George Martin, Morris Brady, Moses Henry, Charles
Ferguson, Aaron Richardson, Moses HoUaday, John
Jones, Alexander Bowlin, John Henderson, and
John Martin.

Under date of 1768 appear upon Mr. Colviu's ac-
count-book the names of Isham Barnett, Levi Col-
vin, John Radcliff, Moses Holladay, Thomas Wig-
gins, Joel White, John Peters, Jeremiah McNew,
and William Lanfitt. Subsequently occur the names
of Thomas Bandfield, Zachariah Brashears, Basil
Brown, Robert Chalfant, James Crawford, William
Butler, Alexander Armstrong, Isaac Stout, Jeremiah
Downs, Joseph Brashears, William Brashears, John
Craig, William Smith, Nathaniel Brown, Aaron
Richardson, Evan Williams, Moses Davison, John
Matthews, Thomas Downs, Lucas Ives, Zela Rude,
Samuel Jackson, James Stephens, Christopher Perky,
Henry Tillen, Nathaniel Fleming, Francis Pursley,
Robert Shannon, John McGrew, John Dean, Rich-
ard McGuire, John McCormickle, Anthony Tills,
Thomas Best, Adolph Her, John Miller, Godfrey
Johnson, John Cummins, James Winders, William
Beard, Benjamin Caulk, John Cherry, Reuben Sti-
vers, John Scantlin, Robert Chalfant, Edward Elliot,


Jonathan Chambers, Patrick Lynch, John Casler,
James Richey, Thomas Barker, Edward Jordan,
John McConnell, John Bright, John Lynch, Muael
Hess, John Laughlin, Richard J. Waters, Edward
Brashears, Philip Fout, Charles Hickman, George
Bruner, John Matson, John Restine, Michael Lynch,
James Lynch, Ezekiel Painter, Reuben Kemp, John
Detrich, Joseph Price, Hugh Laughlin, Caleb Gas-
kill, Robert Adams, John Jackson, John Cartnell,
Robert Martin, William Granon, John Fulton, John
Rosemon, Henry Lancaster, and Aaron Dennis.

William Colvin lived in a log cabin, as mentioned,
and as can best be gathered from the records he left,
must have kept a trading-place and tavern as well as
a distillery. How long he remained after his first
location cannot be told, but it is probable that he
withdrew from that region about 1771, frightened
away, doubtless, by fears of Indian aggressions, since
it seems pretty well authenticated that when George
Kroft settled on Dunlap's Creek in 1771 his nearest
neighbor was nine miles away. Accepting that state-
ment as true, the conclusion follows that Colvin was
not in the vicinity at that time. That his absence
was not prolonged to any great extent is tolerably
certain. It is said that the floor of his cabin was
composed of a single flat rock, which was at a late
date broken up and used for house foundations in
Brownsville. William Colvin, grandson of the Wil-
liam Colvin first named, was a surveyor of some note.
He died in 1870 on the farm now occupied by his son
Samuel, the only son of William Colvin in the town-
ship. Of eight sons six are, however, still living.
William Colvin's widow, aged seventy-six, still resides
on the old homestead with her son Samuel.

The settlement of the Finleys in Redstone was one
of the conspicuous features of early local history, al-
though, as a matter of fact, the Fiuley settlement proper
was effected by a person who, although named Fin-
ley, was not akin to the actual owner of the land on
which he settled. To trace the thread of the story
from the source, the declaration is made that in or
about 1765, Rev. James Finley, then a Presbyterian
minister living in Cecil County, upon the Eastern
Shore of Maryland, came into Southwestern Pennsyl-
vania on a tour of observation, which included not
only a religious mission looking to the preaching of the
gospel to such settlers as he might find, but looking
for land locations where he might after a while make
homes for his sons. Accompanying Mr. Finley was
a Chester County farmer and fuller, by name Philip
Tanner, who was similarly in search of lands. Tan-
ner and Finley made a wide circuit of the then almost
unbroken wilderness of country, and tarried perhaps
a month, Finley preaching here and there as he
found opportunity. He is said to have been the first
minister of the gospel (except army chaplains) who
ever penetrated into Western Pennsylvania. Finley
came into the country again in 1767, and again in
1771, each time on a preaching tour, and each time

encountering an experience that must have made him
not only familiar and warmly welcome to the people,
but an experience that taught him valuable lessons in
the school of pioneering, and toughened his own
nature to endure the rigors of the wilderness. . What
had seemed a predilection in favor of the country in
1765 was confirmed as he became acquainted with it,
and in 1771, considering that the population had
then become numerous enough to warrant an eflfort
to make such a land settlement as he had long looked
for, he purchased a large tract of land upon Dunlap's
Creek, within the present limits of the townships of
German, Redstone, and Menallen. To this land then
he returned the following year with his fourteen-year-
old son Ebenezer, a farm hand named Samuel Finley
(not related to the Rev. James), and a number of
negro slaves. Philip Tanner, who bore Rev. James
Finley company to Western Pennsylvania in 1765,
located lands adjoining Finley's tract in 1770, and
doubtless made a settlement about 1772 ; but details
touching his residence in this county are so meagre
that nothing can, with any degree of certainty, be
told concerning him except that he died on his Red-
stone farm in 1801. In 1802 his executors sold the
farm to John Moore. As to Rev. James Finley, he
was at no time himself an actual resident of Fayette
County, although his son lived and died in the county,
and left within it many descendants who have to this
day worthily maintained the name. Rev. James was
settled in 1783 over Rehoboth Church, in Westmore-
land County, and died in 1795. With this statement
his history may be considered closed as concerns this
record of Fayette County, save the remark that from
the time of his coming in 1765 to 1783, thirty-four
families, connected mainly with his congregation in
Cecil County, removed to Western Pennsylvania.
These families, it is said, intended to make their Penn-
sylvania settlements near each other, but coming out
in straggling detachments as circumstances allowed
they found themselves unable to secure lands as they
desired, and thus they became scattered, although
only so far that the area that included their homes
measured less than forty miles between extreme
points. There was nevertheless a Providence in this
scattering of the families, for it was the instrument
through which Presbyterian Churches were estab-
j lished at least at five points, to wit: Chartiers, Cross
Creek, Rehoboth, Laurel Hill, and Dunlap's Creek.
Of the thirty-four fiimilies named, twenty-two of the
heads thereof became ruling elders of the churches
named at their organization.
' Ebenezer Finley played a conspicuous part in a
i perilous adventure with Indians near Fort Wallace
j in 1776. " Finley' had gone from Dunlap's Creek on
a short tour of militia duty to the frontier as a substi-
j tute for Samuel Finley, then in charge of the Finley
I farm. While Finley was at Fort Wallace tidings

I From " OM Reilstoue



were brought by a man on horseback in breathless
haste that Indians had made their appearance at a
little distance ; that he had left two men and a woman
on foot trying to make their way to the fort ; and that
unless immediately protected or rescued they would
be lost. Some eighteen or twenty men, among whom
was young Finley, started immediately for their re.s-
cue. About a mile and a half from the fort they
came unexpectedly upon a considerable force of sav-
ages. They were for a while in the midst of them.
A sharp fire began immediately, and a zig-zag run-
ning fight took place. Our people making their way
back toward the fort, numbers of them were shot
down or tomahawked.

" Finley's gun would not go off. He stopped for a
moment to pick his flint and fell behind. An Indian
was seen leveling his gun at him, but was fortunately
shot down just at the moment. Being fleet of foot,
Finley was soon abreast of his companions, and in
passing around the root of a tree, by a quick motion
of his elbow against his companion's shoulder, suc-
ceeded in passing him, when, the next moment, this
comrade sunk beneath the stroke of a tomahawk. A
Mr. Moore, seeing Finley's imminent danger from a
bridge upon which he stood, stopped, and by his well-
directed fire again protected him and enabled him to
pass the bridge. , At last, after several doublings and
turnings, the Indians being sometimes both in the rear
and ahead of him, he reached the fort in safety. But the
most remarkable part of the matter remains to be told.
Mr. Finley, the father, then at home east of the moun-
tains, three hundred miles otf, had, as he thought, one
day a strange, undefinable impression that his son was
in imminent danger of some kind, but he could form
no distinct conception of its nature or cause. He
betook himself to intense and agonizing prayer for
his son, continued in this exercise for some time, felt
at length relieved and comforted, as though the dan-
ger was past. It was altogether to himself an extra-
ordinary thing, such as he had never before experi-
enced. He made a note of the time. A few weeks
afterwards he received from his son an account of his
narrow escape from death. The time corresponded
exactly with the time of Mr. Finley's strange experi-
ence. This is the sulistance of the statement we have
received. Its accuracy, in its most essential features,
may be relied on. \Vhat shall we say of it? Mr.
Fiidey was a man of most scrupulous veracity. We
leave the simple statement of the case to the reflec-
tions of the reader."

Ebeuezer Finley grew to manhood in his adopted
home, and rose to importance in the community.
His home was in Redstone, on Dunlap's Creek,
where at an early day he erected a grist-mill and
.saw-mill. The foundations of the saw-mill may still
be seen, as may also the miller's house. Mr. Finley
was married four times, and with his four wives rests
now in Dunlap's Creek churchyard. He died in 1849
at the age ofeiglity-eight. Three of his sons, Eben-

ezer, Elliott, and Eli H., live now in Menallen, on
portions of the land located by their grandfather.
Rev. James Finley, in 1772. Robert, another son,
died in Redstone in 1874. Of Ebenezer Finley the
elder it is stated that he was upon one occasion
plunged into great distress consequent upon his having
hauled a liberty pole over to New Salem during the
days of the Whiskey Insurrection. He did not happen
to learn until after he had hauled the pole to its des-
tination that it was intended to take part in a defiant
demonstration on the part of the Whiskey Boys, and
with that knowledge came the apprehension that the
authorities might consider him equally culpable with
the Whiskey Boys in defying the law. He was not a
partisan, and he felt sure the Whiskey Boys and their
abettors would be ultimately overthrown and pun-
ished, and knowing that circumstances pointed
strongly toward him as an abettor as far as concerned
the liberty pole business, he was in great fear lest he
should meet with punishment. Happily for him no
serious results attended his action.

John Laughlin, a conspicuous character in Red-
stone's early history, tomahawked a four-hundred-
acre claim that included the present Benjamin Phil-
lips and Colvin places. Laughlin was a bachelor, a
farmer of some enterprise, and employed slave labor
almost exclusively. He must have occupied his land
as early as 1780, if not before. He was esteemed a
man of considerable wealth, and was noted for keep-
ing a large amount of it, in the form of gold and
silver, tied up in a pair of buckskin breeches. Once
when he lay quite ill he sent for his neighbors, Wil-
liam Colvin, Thomas Wells, and Samuel Grable,
whom he requested to count in his and each other's
presence the gold and silver that was within the
buckskin breeches. That task they performed, and
left him satisfied, and his mind relieved. Contrary to
his expectations, however, he did not die that time,
but he did die about six months later; and then,
strange to relate, not a v&stige of either his buckskin
breeches or the wealth they contained could be found.
There were many conjectures as to what had become
of the money, and many faithful searches in every
place of supposable concealment, but every search
was fruitless, and the disappearance remained as
much a mystery as ever in the end. People whose
cupidity outran their judgment dug upon the present
Benjamin Phillips farm in various places and under
cover of night, hoping to unearth the treasure which
then was and to-day is confidently believed by some
persons to be hidden in the earth, placed there they
say by the hands of old John Laughlin himself; but
as the case stands at present, they are not likely to
learn whether their theories are or are not correct.
Mr. Laughlin's death occurred shortly after the year
ISOO, and although his silver and gold were not found,
he left behind him a bountiful supply of this world's
goods for those who came after him. He had been
an excellent master to his slaves, and in his will left



to each one ii substantial reminder of his thoughtful ;
care for them. Laughlin was not only a kindly-dis-
posed and gentle master to his servants, but he was an j
earnest and faithful worshiper at the Dunlap's Creek ^
Church, despite the fact that he was not a member '
thereof. For a long time, however, it was the gener- |
ally-accepted belief that he was a member, and in- |
deed the church-members themselves were so con- j
vinced that he was one of them that they chose him
a ruling elder. When they learned from his own
lips that he had never been in membership they were
surprised and disappointed. That one so devout and }
regular in attendance upon church meetings could be
without the circle did not once occur to them.

John Laughlin was as precise in his dress as in his
manners, and as famous almost for his knee-breeches,
slippers, silver buckles, and perique as he was for his '
simple and correct methods of speech and honorable
dealings with his fellow-men. He followed the busi-
ness of distilling to a considerable extent, and kept
his neighbors as well as his own farm-hands well sup- I
plied with thejuice of the grain. An old manuscript I
in the possession of Mr. Benjamin Phillips purports to
be an order from some person (signature missing)
upon John Laughlin for the delivery to John Miller
of two gallons of whisky "the day he begins to reap,
and not before." I

John Fulton, who located upon the present Samuel
Coivin farm about 1800, died there in 1818. One of
the daughters of his .son, John L. Fulton, is Mrs. i
Benjamin Pliillips.

The first survey of lands in Fayette County under
the law of 1769 appears to have been made to An-
drew Linn, Aug. 22, 1769. It lies in what are now
Redstone and Jefferson townships, upon the Redstone
Creek. The tract, including two hundred and forty-
four and one-half acres, was called Crab-Tree Bottom,
and is said to have had at one corner of the survey a
plum-tree that was spoken of for a long time after-
wards as a noted tree because it marked the beginning
of the pioneer land survey. It stood upon a bank of
the creek, into which it was washed many years ago.
The tract named is now owned by J. M. Linn. At
the point now occupied by J. M. Linn's mill a grist-
mill was built by Andrew Linn's widow in 1796.'

Additional surveys to the Linns in 1769 are quoted
as follows :

"To William Lynn two hundred and ninety-three
acres called ' Whiskey Mount,' situated on the east '
side of the Monongahela River, in the new purchase,
Bedford County, and surveyed Aug. 25, 1769, by order ,
of survey No. 2847, dated April .5, 1769." I

"To Andrew Lynn, in right of Nathan Lynn, \
292i acres, called 'Contention,' situated on the east
side of the Monongahela River, in the new purchase,
Bedford County, and surveyed Aug. 25, 1769, by order
of survey 492, dated April 3, 1769."

1 See history of Jeffen

"To Andrew Lynn, in right of Thomas Pearce,
130^ acres, called ' Purchase,' situated on the east side
of the Monongahela River, in the new purchase,
Bedford County, and surveyed Aug. 26, 1769, by order
of survey 1768, dated April 3, 1769." The first-named
survey was made by Archibald McClean, deputy sur-
veyor, the last two by A. Lane, deputy surveyor.

Some time before the year 1800, Benjamin Phillips
(an ex-Revolutionary soldier) came with his wife
from New Jersey, in company with Jonathan Hill,
for whom he had agreed to drive a team across the
mountains. Among Hill's effects was a chest that
contained — so relates Mr. Benjamin Phillips, of Red-
stone—fully three bushels of silver and gold. The
chest was in the possession of Mr. Benjamin Phillips,
of Redstone, until within a few years, but where
it is now is not known. Jonathan Hill located in
Franklin, and built a mill upon the present Samuel
Smock place. When he sold his property to Jonathan
Sharpless, in 1810, he moved to Virginia, and there
died in a lunatic asylum. Benjamin Phillips rented
a small place in Jefferson township of Bateman Goe,
and worked for the neighbors whenever he got the
chance, for he was poor, and strove to get something
laid by so that he could buy land for himself. He
worked so hard that his health failed, and he spent a
season in bed. His wife was, however, just the sort
of a wife a man like him needed, for while her hus-
band lay ill, and it was for some time, she not only
attended to her domestic duties, but worked their
small farm, and did it all, too, without calling for
assistance from the neighbors. After tarrying a few
years in the present township of Jefferson, Benjamin
Phillips moved to Redstone township, and located
upon the old State road, near the Menallen line,
where he opened a tavern. Ultimately he changed
his habitation to the farm whereon the widow of
David Pliillips now lives, and there he died in 1831,
a-etl upwards of eighty-five. The only ones of his
children now living are Mrs. Edward West, of Iowa;
Elijah Pliillips, of Iowa, aged eighty-three ; and Ben-
jamin Phillips, of Redstone. Daniel C. Phillips died
in 1878, aged seventy-five, and David Phillips in 1881,
aged eighty-five.

Mr. Benjamin Phillips remembers a story told to
him by his mother of her trip with )ier husband to
New Jersey upon horseback on a visit to her parents,
only a few years after they (the Phillipses) had come
to Southwestern Pennsylvania. Mrs. Phillips carried
her babe before her upon her horse, while Mr. Phillips
had likewise a load, and thus on horseback they jour-
neyed across the mountains by way of a road that for
a great part of the distance was no better than a mere
path through forests. Her experience had the effect
of urging her to forswear forever any more journeys
from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, and so she per-
suaded her parents to remove westward, which they
shortly did, much to their daughter's gratification.

In 1780, Thom;ts Gallagher came from east of the



mountains with a wife and two cliildren, and witli
tliem first found a home in the West in the loft of a
spring-bouse on Ebenezer Finley's farm, in Redstone
township. Mr. Gallagher had bought the land known
as the James Black tract, but the tenant upon the
place was not prepared to move out of the farm-house,
and so until the following spring Mr. Gallagher and
his famil_v had to get along as best they could. Thomas
Gallagher was commissioned, Oct. 18, 181.3, as adju-
tant of the Ninety-first Regiment. He was taken
ill in service and came home to die. Gallagher oc-
cupied a portion of a tract of si.x hundred acres taken
up by Robert Evans. Nov. 25, 1771, the proprietors
of Pennsylvania patented to Robert Evans two hun-
dred and fifty acres in the forks of Dunlap's Creek
and Four-Mile Run, joining lands of John McKib-
bin's, and including a stony spring to the eastward of
Thomas Scott's cornfield, in the county of Bradford.
Of Thomas Gallagher's grandsons now living, J. M.
and W. K. are citizens of Redstone, and E. T. a resi-
dent of Luzerne. J. M. Gallagher, now a farmer near
Merrittstown, was a merchant in the last-named place
from 1845 to 1856. His wife is a granddaughter of
Sam Brady, famous in the olden time as a scout and

Capt. John Moore, a famous figure in Redstone's
early history, wi^s a settler as early as 1770 in the
southern portion of the present township, upon a farm j
until recently owned by John and William Moore.
Capt. Moore came out to prospect, and lived six weeks |
in a hut. During that time he devoted himself to
hunting and land-looking, and saw no human being
until one day at the end of six weeks he encountered
old Billy Davis, who was living in German township,
and who, like Moore, was living in a hut alone while
considering the matter of making a new home in the
wilderness. Capt. Moore had a large family of chil-
dren. Their names were George, John, Aaron, Rezin,
Ezekiel, Rachel, Hannah, and William. Rezin and
William settled in Redstone. William was never
married. Rezin had ten children. Of them living
now are John M., Mrs. Samuel Herron, and William
R. Capt. Moore served in the war of 1776, and won
a record for more than common bravery. Upon the
old Moore place in 1778 he planted an apple-tree that
still bears largely of fruit. He brought it over the
mountains along with a half-dozen others in his sad-
dle-bags. Capt. Moore died in Redstone, and was
buried on the old Moore farm.

Abraham Landers, a settler about 1790 in the
southern portion of Redstone, was one of the early
sawyers at Ebenezer Finley's saw-mill. His children
numbered four. They were named Polly, Sallie,
Abraham, and Jacob. Polly was the mother of Mrs.
W. R. Moore. James Frost, to whom a place called
" Lapland" was surveyed Feb. 5, 1784, was a promi-
nent pioneer in Redstone. When but seven years of
age he came to the township with his step-father,
William Rose, who located on what is now known as

the David Fnller place. Mr. Frost was grandfather of
Mrs. W. R. Moore. He was married three times, and
died in 1834 upon W. R. Moore's farm. His son, J.
L., who died in Redstone in 1869, had ten children.
Eight are now living, and of the eight all save one
live in Fayette County. Jacob Hibbs is supposed to
have come from Loudon County, Va., to Redstone as
early as 1780. Lacey, the only one of his sons to
make Redstone a permanent home, married Sallie,
daughter of George Kroft, and lived at first on the
farm now owned by Aaron J. Hibbs. He died in
1819. He had five sons and three daughters. The
only son now living is Samuel C. Hibbs, of Redstone.
William Ball, one of Redstone's pioneer blacksmiths,
had a shop in 1809 near Redstone Creek. He died
in 1865. His widow still lives in Redstone.

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 166 of 193)