Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 167 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 167 of 193)
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Philip Fought, a German, emigrated to America to
escape the turmoil incident to a religious commotion
in Germany, and settled in Chester County, Pa.
About 1780 he moved to Fayette County, and made
a settlement in Redstone township upon a seven-huu-
dred-acre tract of land, now comprising the four farms
that are owned by James Fought, Daniel Craft,
Mathias Hess, and John L. Reisbeck. James Fought's
place in Redstone, always owned by a Fought, is now
in the third generation of succession in the name.
Mr. Philip Fought, who was singular in his dress, and
appeared invariably in attire fashioned in a peculiar
style of his own, established a wagon-shop, blacksmith-
shop, and plow-shop upon his farm, and carried on the
business with perseverance until old age ended his la-
bors. Of the elder Fought's family of six children there
were four sons, — James, William, George, and Philip.
George was a soldier under Mad Anthony Wayne at
Stony Point, where he was wounded in the left arm,
rendering it useless. Some time later he took a boat-
load of supplies down to New Orleans, where he died
of yellow fever. James and William died in Virginia.
Philip died on the old farm in Redstone in 1860, aged

Joseph Gadd located in 1800 upon the S. C. Hagerty
farm, a half-mile west from Tuckertown. He died in
Redstone in 1852, aged seventy-nine. One of his
daughters married William Hatfield. Isaiah Ste-
phens was an early comer to the place now owned by
Joseph Gadd, who married one of Stephens' daugh-
ters. Thomas Hatfield, grandfather of Joseph Gadd,
fought under Jackson at New Orleans. The wife of
the elder Joseph Gadd (first named above) died
on the present Joseph Gadd place in 1875, aged
ninety-six years. Isaiah Stephens died on the same
farm in 1814.

The McCormicks were among Redstone's early
settlers, and among the most esteemed. James Mc-
Cormick settled in Jefferson in 1780, and died there
in 1847, aged eighty-five. John C. McCormick, one
of his sons, was born on Dunlap's Creek, where his
father was at one time a settler. John C. was a
himse-carpenter as well as farmer. His farm, south



of Cook's Mills, was during his possessiuii thereof
regarded as a model. He was an ardent Presbyterian,
and with others founded the Central Presbyterian
Church of Menallen. He died in 1876. Of James
McCormick's seventeen children the living are seveu
in number.

Griffith Roberts, of Chester County, with a family
of four children, traveled westward over the moun-
tains in company with William Jeffries and family
about the year 1800. Roberts made his home in
Redstone township, on the farm now occupied by
John Hibbs, in Pleasant Valley District, and bought
by Roberts of Anthony Sills. Jeffries settled in
Union township. Mr. Roberts was a stone-mason
and plasterer by trade, and upon his settlement in
Redstone pursued that occupation with great indus-
try. George Chalfant, a lad whom Roberts had
brought west with him, worked and lived with the
latter, and became a skillful mason. George Chal-
fant bought a farm in 1809 of Cavalier Wheaton.
There he died in 1858, aged seventy-six, and there
his son Finley now lives. Mr. Roberts himself did
not live in a very magnificent house, for it was, as a
matter of fact, simply a log cabin with a clapboard
roof; but he constructed good houses for other peo-
ple, and is said to have done his work exceedingly
well. He plastered a house in Bridgeport about
seventy years ago, and the plaster is as firm and
smooth now as it was when put on. Mr. Roberts
died in 1825, aged eighty years. His only son, Grif-
fith, married a daughter of Edward Morris, who lived
in the Finley settlement.

Edward Morris was especially noted for being a
large man. His weight was three hundred and thirty
pounds, and that of his daughter, who married Grif-
fith Roberts, Jr., three hundred and twenty. Morris
moved from Redstone to the State of Ohio. Griffith
Roberts died in 1819. His son. Judge Griffith Rob-
erts, lives now in Bunker Hill District, Redstone

There was a pretty numerous settlement of Quakers
along Redstone Creek where the stream separates
Redstone township from Jefl'erson and Franklin, and
the members of this settlement, coming in about the
year 1800, were located in each of the three town-
ships named. Among these people the most promi-
nent personage was Jonathan Sharpless, who lived
first in Redstone, afterwards in Jefferson, and lastly
in Franklin, where he died. He was a quaint, blunt-
spoken Quaker, who always said what he meant, and
for whom his brother Quakers felt a very high esteem.
The first of the family who emigrated to this country
were John Sharpless and two brothers from Wales,
who came with William Penn. They took up a thou-
sand acres of land in Chester County, about twenty
miles from Philadelphia. John had a sou Joseph.
He also had a son Joseph, who was the father of
Jonathan, who emigrated to Fayette County. His
first wife was Edith Niccolls, of Wilmington, Del.,

in which place they lived until their two children,
Samuel and Elizabeth, were born. Jonathan was a
blacksmith by trade, having served an apprentice-
ship of seven years. He settled on Big Redstone in
1796, in which year the firm of Sharpless & Jackson
erected the famous Redstone paper-mill, it being the
first paper-mill west of the mountains, and first lived
on the Gillespie farm, where West Brownsville now
stands, but Jackson in a short time converted an old
stable into a house on the paper-mill grounds. His
second wife was a daughter of Peter Miller, of Red-
stone. He died Jan. 20, 1860, at the Redstone home-
stead, in the ninety-third year of his age, his first wife
having died in May, 1823, and of the death of his
second wife we have no date. He left eleven chil-
dren. Those who were living in 1870 were William,
Sabina, Edith (Mrs. Piersol), of Mehaska County,
Iowa, and Priscilla (Mrs. Morgan Campbell), of
Scottdale, Westmoreland Co., Pa.

William Sharpless was born on the Redstone paper-
mill farm, Feb. 7, 1797. He was married to Mary
Colvin, Oct. 23, 1823, who was born Jan. 30, 1802,
and died Aug. 12, 1870. He had no children, and
was in the paper business most of his life. The pro-
duct of his mill was widely known as the standard
paper of the country. The old paper-mill was
burned many years ago, and on the ground now
stands what is known as the Parkhill flouring-mill.
He was long a member of the Baptist Church, and
the present edifice, well known as the Redstone Bap-
tist Church, was erected chiefly through his individ-
ual effort and means. He died Nov. 22, 1881, at the
residence of Capt. S. C. Speers, Allen township,
Washington County.

Among other prominent members of the sect in
that locality may be named Theodore Hoge, Peter
Miller, James Veech, Samuel Vail, Joseph Wood-
mansee, and Micajah Smith. These were instrumen-
tal in erecting a log meeting-house in what is now
known as Centre School District, and there the Friends
regularly assembled for many years. By and by the
ranks began to grow thin, and the number of Friends
had dwindled away in 1856 to less than half a score.
In that year the meetings were discontinued, and
with the death of Jonathan Sharpless, in 1860, passed
away about the only remaining evidence of the ex-
istence in the neighborhood of a community of
Friends. A graveyard laid out by the Quakers at
the church is still used occasionally, though it is a
neglected spot, where broken and crumbling head-
stones and rankly growing weeds contribute to the
appearance of desolation. But few of the head-
stones bear any inscriptions, but simply initials rudely
cut. Two stones record the burials of " Mr. Sharp-
less" and "Joseph Sharpless." Others are marked
W. P. ; P. C, Esq. ; C. M. ; J. P. ; D. C. ; C. P. ;
E. S. F. ; and H.

In 1780, Samuel Grable came from the Eastern
Shore of Maryland and located a tract of about six


hundred acres in the present township of Bedstone.
'Mr. Grable's property was known as the " Maiden's
Bower," and was patented to him in 1785. He lived
on what is called the Beal place, and died there in
1811. His children numbered nine. His sons were
David, Samuel, and Philip. David removed at an \
early day to Kentucky. Samuel, Jr., and Philip re-
mained on the old farm and died in the township.
Philip married a daughter of Jeremiah Downs, who
in 1787 patented land lying in Bedstone, upon the
creek where William ]S?oreross now lives. In 1795
Philip bought of Peter Bothwell the place on which
Earhart Grable now lives, Bothwell himself living
then where Thomas Canfleld now resides. The Ear-
hart Grable place Bothwell had got from Zelah Eude.
who was living on it in 1789. Two daughters of
Philip Grable, aged respectively eighty-one and
eighty-two, are at present living with their brother,
Earhart Grable.

Mentioning as among the early settlers of Bed- '
stone the names of Samuel Wheaton (now living in j
the township at the age of ninety-three), Barig Bra- i
shears, John Tate (who died in 1799), James Winders,
Stephen Bandolph, Timothy Smith, James Frost, the
Hibbs families, and Christopher Perkey, we come to
Samuel West, who established a wagon-shop near the
river in Luzerne township before 1800, and after gain-
ing much fame and profit in the business moved over '
into Bedstone, and located as a farmer near the place
now occupied by his son James. The last named has
been constantly engaged since 1831 in the manufac-
ture at his farm of wagons and carriages, in whicli
business he is still largely employed.

In 1809, Johnson Van Kirk (whose father, William,
was a Bevolutionary soldier) rented a piece of land
near Merrittstown, and farmed it until 1816, when he
moved into the Finley settlement in Bedstone, where \
he had ]jurcliased two hundred and thirty acres of j
land of .luhii Moore's heirs. This John Moore was
a man ol^idirahle note among the pioneers, and
W!us especially famous as a skillful manufacturer
of spinning-wheels. Johnson Van Kirk lived in the
Finley settlement until his death in 1870, at the age
of eighty-three years. Three of his sons now reside
in Bedstone. They are named Zenas, Theodore, and
Elijah. Zenas lives on a place patented by Bobert
Evans in 1775, and sold by Evans to Thomas Gallaher
in 1799. George Gallaher carried on at that place
at one time a distillery of considerable importance.
Leonard Lenhart, living now on the pike in Bed-
stone, settled on the place in 1860. His father, Michael
Lenhart, came over the mountains about 1800, and
locating first on the Yough, removed soon after to
Cookstown, where he set up as a wagon-maker.
Michael was drafted in 181-1 into the military service,
but the war closed before he was called upon to go.
Upon one of his periodical trading trips down the
Ohio he was taken ill and died near Cincinnati.
He liad twelve children ; five were sons, and of them

two are living, — Leonard in Fayette, and Philip in
Westmoreland County. J. A. Noble, living now in
Bedstone, located in 1863 upon his present farm,
which was patented in 1796 by Thomas Jones. Mr.
Noble worked as a glass-cutter at the Albany Glass-
Works, on the Monongahela, in 1832.

On the 28th of February, 1785, Alexander McClean,
deputy surveyor, surveyed a tract of land to Elizabeth
Briscoe, in trust, containing 297 acres. McClean de-
scribed the land as " situated on the north side of
Burd's road, and on the new road leading to Pearce's
mill on the Bedstone Creek, in Menallen township,
Fayette County." He adds this note to John Lukens,
Esq., surveyor-general: "This survey was made in
order to give a proper representation of a controversy
between Thomas Mcllroy and Elizabeth Briscoe, in
trust for her children. Mcllroy had obtained a war-
rant, which I had executed previous to this coming to
hand, and which is caveated by her attorney, viz.,
Jacob Beeson. It appears that all of Mcllroy's pre-
tensions to a right previous to the warrant was a pen
raised three logs high and his name marked on a
tree. Edward Todd also caveats the acceptance of
this survey as well as that of Mcllroy's, alleging some
kind of equitable right to a part of it."

William Price came to Fayette County from Wash-
ington County, Pa., in 1797, having received a patent
for his land June 27, 1796. Of his eight children the
sons were Joel, William, Harmon, David, Isaac,
and Henry. Joel Price had six children. He died
in Bedstone, Nov. 4, 1864. His three sons— W. D.,
T. B., and H. W.— are still living.

One of the early grist-mills of Bedstone stood upon
the Bedstone Creek, just north of where the Baptist
Church stands, and upon land patented in 1794 by
John Gary, who was the mill proprietor. The mill-
site was occupied in 1836 by Levi Colvin, Morris
Truman, Joseph Truman, and William Sharpless
with a paper-mill. When the floors were laid the
mill was dedicated by religious services by Eev. Mr.
Speer, in the presence of a large company of guests.
Sharpless & Co. continued the business until 1845,
when John Taylor bought out the Trumans, and as
then formed the partnership of Taylor, Sharpless &
Colvin endured until 1850. William Sharpless then
retired from the firm, but in 1860 purchased the en-
tire interest in the mill and became its sole proprie-
tor. He experimented in the manufacture of straw
paper, but his venture was not successful, and after
a brief experience he abandoned the mill, which
stood idle from that time.

The following tavern-keepers were licensed in Bed-
stone between 1798 and 1800 : John Bartlett, Amos
Wilson, Jonathan Hickman, Francis Griffith, Peter
Kinney, in September, 1798 ; Elias Bayliss, Decem-
ber, 1798 ; George Kinnear, September, 1799 ; Tobias
Butler and Samuel Salter, September, 1799; James
Brown, December, 1799; John Bichards and Herman
Stidger, in June, 1800.



The National road traverses Redstone township,
and in the days of its liveliest travel imparted much
animation to that portion of the township lying along
its course. Previous to the days of the National road,
however, there was a State road, over which a great
deal of traffic passed, and upon which there were in
Redstone several taverns This road entered the
township near the site of the Menallen Cumberland
Presbyterian Church, and passing towards the west
along by the place known as the old Colley tavern
stand, traversed thence to Brownsville, about the
course now pursued by the National road. One of
the earliest taverns on that highway in Redstone was
a house kept by Benjamin Phillips before the year
1800. Morris Mahler kept a tavern a little south of
Phillips' place, where a man named Green, and suc-
ceeding him John Piersol and Robert Johnson, kept
the Green Tree inn in a log house that stood upon
the farm now occupied by Nathan Phillips. There
was also old Peter Colley's tavern farther along on the
State road, and still westward the Red House tavern,
on the present G. H. Bowman place, where Matthias
Hess lives. Cuthbert Wiggins (known for short as
" Cuddy") was the landlord of the Red House as far
back as 1810. That house is now and has been for
as long as any one can remember the voting-place for
Redstone township. The stone house in which Elijah
Craft lives was built in 1817 by Wilkes Brown for a
tavern, and a stanch, compact house it is even at this
day. It stands a little back of the pike now, but
when, built was upon the old State road. Wilkes
Brown, Thomas Brown, and Basil Brown were early
comers to Fayette County, and in Brownsville and
vicinity, reaching into Redstone, owned a great
deal of land. Taverns were also kept on the old
road by William Hastings (where Leonard Lenhart
lives), and by some person on the Higinbotham place,
east of the Red House. There were indeed taverns in
great abundance, such as they were, but they were at
best nothing to boast of. Business was, however, brisk,
for travel was lively, and besides freight traffic there
were stages too, but the stage-houses were elsewhere
than in Redstone. Tradition repeats tales of robbery
and even murder when speaking of the old State road,
and refers especially to one old dreary wayside inn
where travelers were often despoiled, and where a
peddler was once robbed and murdered ; but such
stories ofttimes attach to the past of hi.storic hign-
ways, and there is doubtless in them, as in this case,
a liberal amount of fiction.

When the National road came into existence in
1818-20 the tide of travel, largely increased in vol-
ume, was turned from the old State road into a new i
and broader channel, and as a consequence there '
came a demand for better taverns. The best of its
class in Redstone was the stone house now occupied
by William Hatfield, at a place called Tuckertown,
so named, it is said, by Col. Thomas B. Searight in a
spirit of sport, for there is not at the spot, nor ever

was there, a sign of a village. Johnson (who had,
by the way, been landlord of the Green Tree tavern
on the State road, and some years before that a hand
in Jackson & Sharpless' paper-mill on the Redstone)
built the stone tavern about 1816 or 1817. In 1814
there was nothing at Tuckertown but the black-
smith's shop and residence of George Wintermute.
In that year a twelve-year-old orphan lad named
William Hatfield (born near Plumsock) tramped
into Wintermute's shop and asked to be taken as an
apprentice. Wintermute rather fancied the lad, and
not only agreed to take him as an apprentice but
soon adopted him as his son. Hatfield worked faith-
fully with Wintermute until 1826, and upon the lat-
ter's removal to Ohio purchased his shop and busi-
ness at Tuckertown (or Johnson's, as it was then
called). Hatfield carried on a good business as bhick-
smith and farmer until 1840, having in 1836 pro-
vided the State with all the iron toll-gates erected on
the pike within Fayette County. In 1842, Mr. Hat-
field bought of Robert Johnson the stone tavern stand
which, as before observed, had been built (by Ran-
dolph Dearth) for Johnson in 1817. After the sale
of his Redstone tavern stand Johnson moved to
Franklin township, where he died.

By 1842 Johnson's tavern had become a famous
place, and was well known the whole length of the
road. It was not only a stage-house, where the stages
of the Good Intent Line changed horses and dined
passengers, but where throngs of travelers put up
every night. The great tavern-yard was always
crowded with wagons and teams, and the roomy bar-
room with troops of drivers and travelers, among
whom the spirit of sociability made friends and boon
companions of all hands. As an evidence of the
amount of travel passing over this portion of the
National road in the early days, Mr. Johnson Van
Kirk says that once, while journeying from Johnson's
to Uniontown, he counted no less than eighty great
freight-wagons, hauled by teams of six horses or more,
besides stages and a miscellaneous assortment of four-
wheeled vehicles. Arthur Wallace rented Johnson's
of Hatfield from 1842 to 1843, and in 1844 Charles
Guttery was the landlord. In 1845, when James K.
Polk, President-elect, passed over the pike to his
inauguration, he traveled by the Good Intent Stage
Line and dined at Johnson's. His progress had been
a sensation that drew in his train many curious sight-
seers, and when he stopped at Johnson's for dinner
there was a numerous crowd in attendance to get a
good look at the man who had been chosen to be the
people's ruler. Au^lrew Jackson stopped at Johnson's
while making a trip over the road, and it is said also
that Henry Clay tarried there briefly one day. Land-
lord Guttery reigned over the fortunes of Johnson's
six years, :iiid was followed by John Foster (1849 to
ls:,l I, and Ilinim Holmes (from 1851 to 1852). In
]s->-2. William Hatfield took charge of the tavern, and
kept it open 'until 1855, when the opening of railways



diverted traffic from the pike, closed the doors of the
famous roadside taverns, and hushed the stir and an-
imation that had for years made the old National
road a panorama of busy life. William Hatfield, who
had become by that time a man of means and a large
land-owner, lived at Tuckertown until his death. He
served in Redstone township as justice of the peace
for the space of ten years, and associate judge of the
Court of Quarter Sessions. There were besides
.Johnson's the taverns of Peter Colley and others on
the pike within the limits of Redstone township, but
they were of no especial consequence, and came in
for only irregular and uncertain patronage.

Richard Mills, an old man of more than ninety,
still living in Minnesota, was in his day a famous
character in Redstone, and indeed a famous man from
one end of the National road to the other. He lived
on a portion of the Hatfield place, and was known
far and near as a slave-trader. When the season per-
mitted it he traveled the road between Virginia points
and the Monongahela in charge of gangs of slaves,
imrchased in the Old Dominion. The sight of Dick
Mills marching a company of chained slaves was a
common one in the olden time.

Timothy Canfield, who emigrated from Ireland to
America in 1809, came to Fayette County in 1813,
and in 1820 took a contract to do a large amount of
work on the National road. In 1834 he bought a
farm in Redstone originally occupied by Joseph
Woodmansee. There he settled and lived until his
death in 1874, aged ninety years. Three of his sons
are still living, — Thomas on the old farm, John in
Iowa, and Daniel in Kansas.

Cook's Mills, so called from the establishment at
that point by Thomas Cook in 1812 of a saw-mill and
grist-mill, is a small hamlet lying on the Redstone in
the northeastern corner of the township. The settle-
ment at Cook's Mills was founded by John and Rich-
ard Fallis, who about the year 1800 built there a
grist-mill and fulling-mill. They pursued the busi-
ness until 1812, when they sold out their interests to
Thomas Cook, previously living near Perryopolis,
where he located in 17'.11, and carried on until 1812
the business of general mechanic. With the mill
property on the Redstone Cook acquired from the
Fallis brothers about seventy-five acres of land, and
building there a shop for the manufacture of plows,
etc., he set himself to the pursuit of that industry, while
he gave to his son John charge of the grist-mill, and
leased the fulling-mill to William Searight. The
elder Cook was a skillful workman in iron, and in the
manufacture of plows was so famous that people came
from afar to give him orders. He was, moreover, a
millwright and carpenter, and until a fewye.irs before
his death in 1842, at the age of eighty-seven, was in-
dustriously employed in mechanical pursuits at Cook's
jMills and the vicinity.

John Cook, whom his father placed in charge of the
grist-mill, knew scarcely anything about practical

milling, and protested to his father that he would
make a sorry mess of it, but the old gentleman in-
sisted, and John determined then to do what he could
to promptly master the situation. The first grist he
ground was a three bushel lot of wheat for Joseph
Woodmansee, and out of it he got one hundred and
twenty pounds of flour. John knew the quantity was
up to the standard, but he was not quite sure as to the
quality, and with much solicitude he begged Mr.
Woodmansee to report upon the flour after the family
test had been made. Accordingly Mr. Woodmansee
happened at the mill three days afterwards, and,
much to Cook's gratification, reported that the
flour was the best the Woodmansee family had ever
had in the house. Cook was delighted, and to this
day refers with pleasure to the excellent luck he had
with his maiden grist. He got to be a successful and
even famous miller, and did such a brisk business that
he ground day and night on custom and merchant
work. Sixteen barrels of flour was his average yield
for twenty-four hours. He bought wheat all over the
country from Uniontown to Belle Vernon, and shipped
flour to Philadelphia, as well as to many customers
along the line of the National road in Fayette County.
For fifty-five years, or from 1812 to 1867, John Cook
stuck faithfully to his post as the miller of Cook's
Mills, and during that extended term of service he
never lost a day while he had health and strength.
He is still living at Cook's Mills in his ninety-third
year, and in the enjoyment of moderately good phys-
ical health and mental vigor. In 1832 he built a

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 167 of 193)