Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 177 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 177 of 193)
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mer, George Ganoe, John Ganoe, Alexander Dough-
erty, Ephraim Provance, Adolph Provance, Abner
McLain, Alfred Swearingin, Charles O'Neil, Calvin
Ruble, Willey Burchinal, James T. Dougherty, Allen

Capt. George W. Gilmore's cavalry company was
raised in Fayette County. The company was ac
cepted in July, 1861. They were denominated the
" Pennsylvania Dragoons," and attached to the First
Virginia Cavalry. Capt. Gilmore is a son of Hon.
David Gilmore, and well known in Fayette County.
He was born June 7, 1832, near McClellandtown.
He at present resides in Dade County, Mo.


Alliert Gallatin, who was nominally a resident of
Fayette County for fully forty years in the last part
of the eighteenth and the first quarter of the nine-
teenth century, and who actually lived here during
a considerable portion of that period, might, perhaps,
in view of the high offices he held and the distin-
guished public services he performed, be regarded as
the most illustrious citizen of Fayette during the
almost century of its existence as a county. He was
a native of Switzerland, born at Geneva, Jan. 20, 1761.
His ancestor, John Gallatin, secretary to the Duke of
Savoy, emigrated to Geneva early in the sixteenth
century, and, having embraced the Reformation, was
one of the city magistrates wlipn Switzerland became



a republic. The family was one of no little note,
emhracing among those allied to it the celebrated
JIadamedeStaPl and her distinguished father, Necker,
the famous French minister of finance.

Albert Gallatin graduated at Geneva in 1779, and
in 1780, when in his twentieth year, he emigrated to
America, being attracted here by the great struggle
for liberty that was then in progress. Landing at
Boston, one of his first acts after his arrival was to
ofl'er his services to the American Congress, which
were accepted, and he was assigned to duty in the
defense of Passamaquoddy, where, as well as at Ma-
chias, he served under Col. John Allen. He did not,
however, long remain in the military servicr. In
1782 he came into possession of a moderate patrimony
in Switzerland, and immediately after the close of the
Revolution he was located in Richmond, Va., as the |
agent of a European commercial house. While there I
he became acquainted with a number of prominent
men, and among these was Patrick Henry, Governor of
the State ; and it was in accordance with the advice of
Governor Henry that he purchased lands in the West,
in the valleys of the Ohio and Monongahela, which 1
resulted in his becoming a resident in the south part
of Fayette County. While in Richmond he became (
acquainted with an Italian lady, Madame Allegre,
and her daughter Sophia, who was the acknowledged
belle of the city. The young people became mutually
attached to each other, and this resulted (May 14,
1789) in the marriage of Gallatin to Sophia Allegre,
though it was done against the violent and deter-
mined opposition of her mother. The young couple
removed to the valley of the Monongahela, and occu-
pied a log house in Springhill township. Three weeks
later the liride died, and her remains were interred at
" Fricnd-liip Hill," where they still repose, in a grave
unmarkrd l>y any nicTnorial stone (in accordance with
her dying requc.-t to (iallatin), but which in later
years was inclosed l:iy a neat fence, by direction of the
then proprietor of the estate, tlie Hon. John L. Daw-
son. On the nth of November, 1793, Gallatin mar-
ried Hannah Nicholson, daughter of Commodore
James,,l>,,n, I'.S.N.

prior to hisfirM niiUTJ:,-,. lir IkkI visited
ni-li:.-' 1-, an^l in 17^7 In- nun.r ao-



being a
at Mor-

hill towii-lii],, he being assc-scl un the '■ I'licndshi
Hill" lands, purchased from Nii Imhi- j'.lakr in tl
previous year. For a few years aftn his fns
here his residence was somewhat migratory
part of the time in Springhill, and sometimes
gantown, Va. Upon his marriage he made his home
(intended to be permanent) at " Friendshi]) Hill."
In October, 1789, he was chosen a ihlr-atr, with
John Smilie, of Fayette, to the convcnlion which
framed the constitution of 1790. It was in that
body that he was first brought to public notice as a
talented debater, though then but twenty-nine years
of age. In 1790 he was elected, with Judge James

Finley, to the Pennsylvania Assembly, where he
served in 1791, '92, and '93. The high qualities he
there displayed caused his election by the Legisla-
ture, at the session of 1792-93, to the Senate of the
I United States, though a majority of the members
i were opposed to him in politics, he being a member of
I the Republican — soon afterwards known as the Dem-
ocratic — party. He took his seat in the Senate in De-
i cember, 1793, but a question was raised as to his eligi-
I bility to the office, as he had not been for a sufiicient
length of time a citizen of the United States. The-
question was referred to a committee, wdio reported ad-
versely, and in February, 1794, he was unseated by a
strict party vote of fourteen to twelve. It was during
this visit to the East in his senatorial capacity that he
was married to Hannah Nicholson, as before men-
I tioned. In May, 1794, he returned to Springhill, and
I purchased from John and William George Wilson
the site of the village of New Geneva, and started
the enterprise of the old glass-works, as elsewhere
noticed. It was also at this time that he became
unfortunately identified with the insurgent party in
I the " Whiskey Insurrection," but he afterwards
deeply regretted the course he had at first taken,,
and did all in his power to quench the flame he had
to some extent been instrumental in kindling.

At the close of the Whiskey In.surrection (in Octo-
ber, 1794), Mr. Gallatin was again elected to the As-
sembly of Pennsylvania, and was also at the same
time elected a member of Congress. The Congress
to which he was thus elected did not meet til! De-
cember, 1795, and he served through that session, and
was re-elected in 1796, 1798, and 1800 from the same
district, composed of the counties of Allegheny,
Washington, and Greene, the latter county having-
been erected in 1796. His service in Congress era-
braced the last two years of Washington's adminis-
tration and the whole of the administration of Presi-
dent John Adams. It was during this period that
Mr. Gallatin, with others, established the old gun-
factory near New Geneva.

When Thomas Jefferson became President, in
March, 1801, he indicated to Mr. Gallatin his wish
to appoint him Secretary of the Treasury. There
existed, however, an obstacle in Mr. Gallatin's con-
nection with the Fayette gun-factory, which held
contracts to furnish arms to the government. Mr.
( iallatin thereupon returned to New Geneva, sold out
all his interest in the factory and the contracts to Mr..
Baker, and was appointed to the Secretaryship May
14, 1801. He remained at the head of the Treasury
Department through both of Mr. Jefferson's Presi-
dential terms, through Mr. Madison's first, and in his-
second term until February, 1814, though in the mean>
time (April, 1813) the President had appointed hini
a plenipotentiary, jointly with John Quincy Adams,,
of Massachusetts, and James A. Bayard, of Delaware,.
to sign a treaty of peace with Great Britain, which
it was then hoped would be effected through the

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friendly mediation offered by the Emperor of Russia, j
On this mission the President had sent bim to Europe,
but without allowing him to relinquish the Secreta-
ryship of the Treasury. The Senate refused to con- 1
firm his appointment, on the ground that the two i
otfices of Secretary of the Treasury and peace com- I
missioner or minister were incompatible. He was
not, however, recalled. England rejected the czar's i
mediation, but offered to treat untrammeled. There- '
upon Mr. Gallatin, having been relieved of the Sec-
retaryship, was appointed, Feb. 9, 1814, one of the
commissioners in the treaty negotiations, which re- j
suited in the conclusion of a treaty of peace, signed
at Ghent, in Belgium, Dec. 24, 1814. In 1815, Mr. ,
Gallatin was appointed minister to France, where he
remained from 1816 to 1823, during which time he
was intrusted with special and important missions to
England and to the Netherlands. On his return to I
the United States, in 1824, he declined a seat in the
Cabinet, also the candidacy of his party for Vice-
President. The new mansion at Friendship Hill had
been provided for his reception, and there he took up
his abode soon after his return from Europe, and
there in 1825 he received the memorable visit of his
illustrious friend, the Marquis de Lafayette, " the
like of which old Springhill had never seen, may
never see again."

In 1826, Mr. Gallatin was sent as minister plenipo-
tentiary to the court of St. James, where he remained
over a year, and successfully accomplished all the |
objects of his mission. He returned to the United
States in December, 1827, but never again resided in
Fayette County. He lived a short time in Baltimore
(which was the place of residence of two of Mrs.
Gallatin's sisters), but soon removed to the city of
New York, where he spent the remainder of his long
and brilliant life, devoting himself chiefly to litera-
ture, science, historical and ethnological researches.

He was mainly instrumental in founding and be-
came the first president of the Ethnological Society,
and he was from 1843 until his death president of the
New York Historical Society. He was perhaps the
best talker of the century, at home on all topics, with
a wonderful memory for facts and dates. He died at
the residence of his son-in-law, at Astoria, L. I., on i
Sunday, Aug. 12, 1849, in the eighty-ninth year of his
age. I

The late Col. John Morgan, of Springhill, was of ,
Welsh parentage. His father and mother married in
Wales, and had two or three children before they mi- :
grated to America, and here they had more, to the ■
number of ten in all, of whom Col. John, born in !
Springhill township, Aug. 8, 1790, was the seventh. I
Col. Morgan's father, David Morgan, was one of the
first settlers of the southwestern part of Fayette |
County. At the time of his arrival in the county it ;
was inhabited by the Indians, with whom he had many !

encounters. He was one of the founders of Mount
Moriah Baptist Church at Smithfield, and was noted
for his piety. He died in 1798, aged fifty-four years.

When a young man Col. Morgan learned black-
smithing, and was an apprentice in the .same shop
with the late Hon. Andrew Stewart. He worked at
his trade for a few years, and then engaged in flat-
boating down the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers,
which he followed for three years or more, and then
settled upon the old homestead, where he spent the
remainder of his long life, except while occupied with
public business. He was a soldier of the war of 1812,
but obtained the title of colonel in the State militia,
being commissioned as such by Governor Simon Sny-
der. He was a member of the State Legislature for
Fayette County in 1843, and was re-elected in 1844
and 1845. Col. Morgan was an earnest advocate of
the public school system of the State, and was one of
the first school directors of his township, and held
other township offices. He died Jan. 5, 1880.

March 12, 1817, Cot. Morgan married Elizabeth
Lyons, of Springhill township, and by her had seven
children, — four sons and three daughters. The sons
all became farmers, and the daughters married
farmers. At the time of his death Col. Morgan's
possessions consisted chiefly in lands. He was strong
of body, possessing wonderful powers of endurance,
and had an abundance of good hard sense. He was
not a church-member. He was always a sound Demo-
crat, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him.
In short, his was a rare character, and he filled up the
measure of his years ably and honorably.

Lebbeus Biglow Gans was born in Springhill town-
ship, Fayette Co., Pa., March 31, 1825. He is the fifth
son of William and Magdalene Gans, whose parents
were .among the early settlers of Southern Fayette
County. AVilliam Gans' parents emigrated tioiii ( ;cr-
many on account of religious persecution, and settled
near Antietam, Md., and in the year 1785 came to
Springhill township and pre-empted the beautiful
tract of land near Morris' Cross-Roads on which they
lived and died, and now owned by L. B. Gans. Mag-
dalene, wife of William Gans, was the daughter of
George Custer, who was a first cousin of Gen. George
Washington, they being sisters' children. He was
the fourth son of Paul Custer, and his mother was
Sarah Ball, the daughter of Col. Ball, of Lancaster
County, Pa. Her sister, Mary Ball, was married to
Mr. Augustine Washington, by whom she had six
children, the eldest being the renowned commander-
in-chief of the Revolutionary army and the first Presi-
dent of the United States. George Custer was born
in Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 3, 1774, and died on his
farm in Georges township, Fayette Co., Pa., in 1829,
aged eighty-five years and two days. He was a large,
healthv man, with abundant means, and was the


father of fifteen children. L. B. Gans received a
common-school education, and is a farmer by profes-
sion. He has been twice married. His first wife,
Elizabeth J. Ramsay, was the daughter of James C.
Ramsay, Esq., whom he married Jan. 6, 1848, and by
whom he had three children, — one son, who died in
infancy ; and two daughters, both living. The elder,
Dorcas Anna, is married to T F. Protzman, a mer-
chant at Morris' Cross- Roads, Pa. The younger, Eliza-
beth J., is married to W. Morgan Smith, of Mount
Pleasant, Westmoreland Co., Pa. His first wife, Eliza-
beth J., died March 25, 1857. He married his second
wife, Emily S. Goe, daughter of Henry B. Goe, of
Allegheny City, Oct. 15, 18(58, by whom he has three
sons and one daughter. Mr. Gans is an active, thrifty
business man. In addition to the homestead, which
has always been considered the standard in making
real estate assessments in the township, he owns one
hundred and thirty-four acres immediately adjoining
it on the east, making in all three hundred acres,
which is the best farm in Southern Fayette County.
The farm is well improved and in an excellent state
of cultivation. This farm is noted for its extensive
maple-sugar orchard, containing about two thousand
trees, which yields an average annual income of eight
hundred dollars. In late years Mr. Gans has not
made a specialty of agriculture, but is engaged in
grazing stock. Mr. Gans is a member of the Presby-
terian Church, and is held in high esteem by his
neighbors and fellow-citizens. In all his business re-
lations he is remarkable for candor and integrity.
His domestic and social relations are of the most
pleasant .and agreeable character. He lives in good
style, enjoys life, the society of home and friends, and
the fellowship of the community.

Alpheus W. Scott, of Springhill township, is of
Scotch-Irish and Welsh descent, and was born at
Morris' Cross-Roads, Sept. 30, 1822. Having received
a good common-school education he commenced
teaching in 1843, and continued in the profession the
greater part of the time until 1867. On the 6th of
March, 1846, he was married to Miss Martha E. Gans.
In 1861 he entered the military service of the United
States in the war of the Rebellion, and was commis-
sioned captain of Company I, Seventy-seventh Penn-
sylvania Volunteers, March 3, 1562, and stationed at
Chambersburg, Pa., in the recruiting service. He re-
signed Oct. 1, 1862, but was afterwards in the service
in the One Hundred and Sixty-eighth Pennsylvania
Regiment, where he held the yank of quartermaster-
sergeant, but performed all the duties of quarter-
master, on account of the sickness of that officer,
during his nine months' term of service. On the
12th of March, 1864, he re-enlisted at Greensburg,
Westmoreland Co., and was assigned to the One Hun-
dred and Twenty-first Regiment Pennsylvania Vol-
unteers, yet he never did any duty with the regiment.
In the fall of 1864, at City Point, Va., he was, by
special order from army headquarters, assigned to duty
on the commission of exchange of prisoners under
Gen. John E. Mulford. On the occupation of Rich-
mond by the Union forces in April, 1865, he went to
thiit city, and remained there in the office of Gen.
Mulford until the following August, when he was
hdiiorably discharged and mustered out of the service.
For the past fifteen years he has been chiefly em-
ployed as a newspaper correspondent, in which voca-
tion he display's marked .ability.


This township is on the eastern liorder of the
county, the second froni til.' sciiitli lin., :in.l ..n li.ith
sides of the Youghio-hmy Kivcr. On tlir n.ulh :ire
the townships of ;ni<l Si.riiiytieM ; cast is
Somerset County ; south is Henry Clay ; and south
and west is Wharton. The township has within its
limits the Laurel Hills and Chestnut Ridge, and its
general surface presents a mountainous aspect. In
the soutlieastern part is Sugar-I-oaf Mountain, with
an altitude several liundre<l feet greater than the sur-
rounding hills; and in ..tlicr localities are well-de-
fined peaks. The sides (.lilic hills are usually broken
and covered with large roeks, but the summits are
mainly level, somewhat of the nature of a i)lateau.

and containing some fine farming lands. The soil is
good but not strong or enduring, and but a small pro-
portion has been brought to cultivation, the greater
part of the country being yet covered with timber.

The Youghiogheny River has a tortuous course
through the township, and is a rapid, turbulent stream,
atibrding a magnificent water-power at Falls City,
where are a series of falls or rapids, aggregating about
thirty-six feet of descent. It includes a distinct fall
of sixteen feet, to which the name of " Ohio Pile" has
been given.' The valley of the river is narrow, and

No satisfactory reason can be given wliy tliis term
e most plausible appears to be tliat it is an Indian
? " I.enntifnl falls."

n selected,



is closely environed by high hills. Its affluents from
the north are Drake's, Sherman's, Bear, and Laurel
Euna, all small but unfailing streams, heading in the
mountains. On the opposite side the tributaries are
Jonathan's Run, Great Meadow Eun, with its branches,
Laurel and Beaver Runs, and Cucumber Run. The
latter makes a precipitous fall near its mouth, form-
ing a beautiful cascade nearly forty feet high. These
streams yield limited water-power, which has been
utilized. Most of them have deep, narrow valleys,
but the lower hillsides are usually quite fertile. Along
these streams are many signs of prehistoric occupa-
tion, a line of earthworks being traceable all through
the townsliip. One of the largest of these forts was
on Bear Eun, several miles below the Ohio Pile Falls.
It was circular in form, inclosed about ten acres, and
was surrounded by a trench. In it, many years ago,
was found, under a heap of stones, a neatly-con-
structed grave. It was nearly square, and about four
feet in depth. The sides and bottom were lined with
flag-stones, forming a box-like cavity; a large skull
was found inclosed, and other evidences indicated
that it was the sepulchre of some mighty man among
this little-known people. On Harris' Hill was another
fort of large proportions, and along Meadow Run
were, in the early settlement of the township, a series
of earthworks so arranged that communication by
signals was possible among them, plainly indicating
that among these rough hills once dwelt a people of
greater intelligence than that of the American Indian.
But little of the large area of Stewart was purchased
for actual settlement when other parts of the county
became the homes of the hardy pioneers. The lands
in many instances were warranted, but were held by
non-residents. These afterwards passed into other
hands, a very large proportion of them becoming
the property of the Hon. Andrew Stewart, who at
one time owned more than half the township, and
whose family yet maintains possession of many thou-
sands of acres. These circumstances and the unin-
viting appearance of the country deterred a general
settlement at an early period, and many of the begin-
nings in the township have a recent origin.

It is hard to determine who was the first permanent
settler. John Stewart, a Scotch-Irisliman, lived on
the Elijah Mitchell place as early as 1772, and set out
an orchard which bore signs of age in 1800. He was
buried on his farm, and his family removed, leaving
no descendants in the township. He had sons named
James, Andrew, John, and Thomas. It was at the
house of the latter that the old soldier, Tom Fossitt
(who was said by some to have killed Gen. Braddock),
died, and was buried on the present Jacob H. Rush
farm, which was settled by a man named Taylor.
Many years after Fossitt's death a rude headstone was
erected to his memory reciting the time of his death
and age.

In the same locality Paul StuU and Peter Bruner
settled soon after the Revolution. The latter moved
to Springfield township, where he is more fully noted.

In the southern part of the township, on the pres-
ent Harvey Morris farm, David Askins settled after
the close of the Revolution. There is a tradition that
he came from the eastern part of the State, and was
on his way to the Kentucky country, which was at
that time regarded as the land of promise, when he
was persuaded to cast his lot among the pioneers of
Fayette County. He made a tomahawk claim of ten
square miles of land, and jestingly said that it was
his " Little Kentucky." This, it is said, was the ori-
gin of the term as used in the township and applied to
churches and schools. Askins finally limited his land
claims to the Morris, Thorpe, and Mitchell farms,
and on the former farm he was buried at his death.
He had sons named Thomas, David, and Samuel,
all of whom removed to the West soon after 1800.

Reuben Thorpe purchased one hundred and fifty
acres of the Askins tract for £100. He was born in
New Jersey in 1755, and became a weaver by trade.
In the Revolution he served under the immediate
command of Washington, and in 1792 came to Fay-
ette County. He had seven sons and two daughters,
namely, David, Reuben, Job, Wallace, who moved
to Perry County, Ohio ; James, who opened a farm on
the north side of the Youghio^heny, where he yet re-
sides at an advanced age ; Asa, lived on the William
Taylor farm, and was the father of Andrew Thorpe,
yet living in the township. Several of his sons died
in the Rebellion. William, the youngest of Reuben
Thorpe's sons, lived on the homestead until his death.
The farm is now owned by his son, Thomas Thorpe,
Esq., of Falls City. Other sons are Reuben, living
west of Falls City ; David, in Dakota ; W. Brown, the
cashier of the Butler County (Nebraska) Bank; and
Elisha, who died in the army in 1863. On the old
Thorpe farm was an orchard of early bearing, which
was almost wholly destroyed by a storm in July, 1851.
Some of the trees were taken up and carried a dis-
tance of half a mile, and nearly everything in the
line of the storm was destroyed. Reuben Thorpe
formerly had a public-house, and carried on a distil-
lery in the days when the old Turkey Foot road was
one of the lines of travel from Somerset to Union-

The Mitchells were among the earliest settlers of
Stewart. James Mitchell lived in the Kentucky dis-
trict, on the farm which is now occupied by his grand-
son, Elijah M. His sons were Benjamin, James J.,
Abner, John A., and Ralph, the youngest, who left
no family at his death. The first three named opened
farms near the homestead, and the two first died
there. Abner moved to Wisconsin about 1846. He
wa.s a Baptist minister; and James J. also served in
that calling. John A., the other son, made his home
in Somerset County. Thomas Mitchell, a brother of
James, purchased a part of the Askins tract, which


had been owned before by Moses Mercer. He liad
served in the Revolution, and was under Daniel
Boone in Kentucky. He died about 1824. His sons

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 177 of 193)