Franklin Ellis.

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

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the Ohio, and thence to the Ohio, including all the
waters of said creek in the aforesaid district of West
Augusta, all that territory lying to the northward of
said boundary, and to the westward of the States of
Pennsylvania and Maryland, shall be deemed, and is
hereby declared to be, within the district of West

The district so defined was divided into three
counties by the same act, which declared " That all
that part of said district lying within the following
lines, to wit : beginning at the mouth of Cross Creek,
thence up the same to the head thereof, thence
eastwardly to the nearest part of the ridge which
divides the waters of the Ohio from those of the
Monongahela, theuce along the said ridge to the line
jwhich divides the county of Augusta from the said
district, thence with the said boundary to the Ohio,
thence up the same to the beginning, shall be one
district county, and be called and known by the
name of Ohio ; and all that part of the said district
lying to the northward of the following lines, viz. :
beginning at the mouth of Cross Creek, and running
iup its several courses to the head thereof, thence
southeastwardly to the nearest part of the aforesaid
dividing ridge between the waters of the Mononga-
hela and the Ohio, thence along the said ridge to the
head of Ten-Mile Creek, thence east to the road
leading from Catfish Camp to Redstone Old Fort,
thence along the said road to the Monongahela River,
thence, crcssing the said river, to the said fort, thence
along Dunlap's old road to Braddock's road, and with
the same to the meridian ' of the head fountain of the
Potowmack, shall be one other distinct county, and
be called and known by the name of Yohogania
County ; and all that part of the said district lying
to the northward of the county of Augusta, to the
westward of the meridian of the head fountain of the
Potowmack, to the southward of the county of Yoho-
gania, and to the eastward of the county of Ohio,
shall be one other distinct county, and shall be called
and known by the name of the county of Monon-
From the description of the boundaries of the new
ijcounties, as recited in the act, it will be seen that
JMonongalia County embraced the southern and
isoiitliwestern portion of the present county of Fay-
ette : that the northern and northeastern part was
euvrii-d by Yohogania County, and that the division
linr between these two was marked by Braddock's
r i;i'l iVom the eastern limit as far northwest as the
I i- ll'ick on the .summit of Laurel Hill, and thence

• ' Meaning llie western liovina.-iry of the State of MarjIanJ.

by " Dunlap's path," or road, passing a little south
of Uniontown, to the mouth of Dunlap's Creek.
From there the boundary between Yohogania and
Monongalia continued westward, nearly along the
line of the later National road, about two-thirds the
distance across the present county of Washington, to
the east boundary of Ohio County. This county ex-
tended from the said eastern limits westward to the
Ohio River.

Prior to the erection of the new counties, courts
had been held at Fort Dunmore for the old county of
Augusta, and the records of those courts are still in
existence. The first record is of a court held at the
place named on the 21st of February, 1775, and the
last Nov. 20, 1776. In the mean time a primitive
court-house had been built for Augusta County at
" Augusta Town," a prospective village about two
miles west of the site of the present town of Wash-
ington, Pa.

Upon the formation of the three new counties
courts were immediately established for them. Of
the three Virginia counties, only one — Monongalia —
held its courts within the present limits of Fayette.
Its court-house was located on land of Theophilus
Phillips, near New Geneva. How long the courts
were held there is not known, as no records of them
can now be found. The court-house of Ohio County
was at Black's Cabin, near West Liberty. The rec-
ords of Yohog.ania County have been preserved, and
are now in possession of a gentleman of Washington,
Pa. They show that the first court of that county
was held at Fort Dunmore (Pitt) Dec. 2.3, 1776,"- and
that the courts continued to be held there until Aug.
25, 1777. They were then held at the house of An-
drew Heath for about two months, and after that
(until 1781) at the new court-house "on the planta-
tion of Andrew Heath." This was on the west side
of the Monongahela, a short distance above, and in

'The following-named "gentlemen jnsticcs" \

Ritcliie, James Rogers, Thomas Sm.allman, Andrew Swearingen, Jolin
Stevenson, George Vallandigliam, Edward Ward, .Joshua Wiight, and
Richard Yeates. The following named held comniissicns hiit were not
sworn in: Thomas Brown, James Blackiston, John Carmichael, Benja-
min Harrison, .Iiicob Uaymaker, Isaac Leet, Sr., James McLeiin, Isaac
Moason, John Neville, Pliilip Ross, and Joseph Vance.

And the following-named pcisons were also sworn in as civil and
military officers of tlie connty :

Cleik, Dorsey Tentecost; deputy, Rilph Bowkcr.

Sherifls, Willii



Isaac Leet), Georg



(deputies. Ili.Ll

_, .1


ter, a

d John

Lemon), M.I

, .'


Conntv I.I

1' -

]■ • ■

Colonel-, .I'll

1. I- 1

. (■..■■.. .1

.],„ Stephenson.



, Isaac

Cux, Jm>

?lih Beelor, George 'N



Majors, Galirie


, Hen

y Taylor

William Harrison.

Attorneys, George



Harrison, Samuel




Legislators, Jo

m Campbe

1, Willia

ai Harrison, Matthex





sight of, the present town of Elizabeth. Tlie state-
ment has frequent!}' been made that the Yohogania
court was at one time held at Redstone Old Fort, but
this is a mistake, doubtless growing out of the fact
that a board of Virginia commissioners sat at that
place in the winter of 1779-80 for the purpose of de-
ciding on land claims and issuing certificates to set-

Finally, when the long controversy between the
two States was settled by the assignment of the dis-
puted territory to Pennsylvania, the counties of Mo-
nongalia and Ohio, though greatly reduced in area,
still retained their names as counties of Virginia (as
tliey are of West Virginia at the present time) ; but
Yohogania, whose limits were wliolly within the
territory yielded to Pennsylvania, ceased to exist,
and was thenceforward mentioned as Virginia's " lost


In the royal grant to William Penn, in 1681, the
territory embraced in it was described as " all that
tract or part of land in America, with all the islands
therein contained, as the same is bounded on the
east by Delaware River, from twelve miles northward
of New Castletown unto the three and fortieth de-
gree of northern latitude, if the said river doth ex-
tend so far northwards; but if the said river shall not
extend so far northwards, then by the said river so
far as it does extend ; and from the head of said river
the eastern bounds are to be determined by a me-
ridian line to be drawn from the head of said river
unto the said three and fortieth degree; the said lands
to extend westward five degres ia longitude, to be
computed from the said eastern bounds; and the said
land to be bounded north by the beginning of the
three and fortieth degree of northern latitude, and
then by a straight line westward to the limits of lon-
gitude above mentioned." On the south the boun-
dary was to be by the circular line from the river,
twelve miles distant from New Castle, " unto the be-
ginning of the fortieth degree of north latitude," and
then by a due west line to the extent of five degrees
of longitude from the i-iver Delaware.

It was fouiid to be a very difficult task to establish
the southern line of Penn's grant against Maryland,
which latter iiruviiiic had been granted to Cecelius
Calvert, L(. Ill I'.i li i mmi,.. in 1632. A series of bitter
disjiutes and rulli,i,,ii , iii-ued, which during a period
of fifty years brought about no progress towards the
desired settlement. In 1732 the successors of Penn
and Calvert entered into articles of agreement for
fixing the boundary, and under this agreement a
temporary line was run in 1739 as far west as " the
most western of the Kittochtinny Hills" (on the
south line of the present county of Franklin, Pa.),
anil there the matter rested until 1760, when a new
agreement was made, and seven commissioners ap-
pointed for each proprietary to establish the line.

These commissioners chose four surveyors to execute
the work, viz.: John Lukens and Archibald >IeClean
for Pennsylvania, and John F. A. Priggs and John /
Hall for Maryland. They immediately commenced .
operations, but by reason of the great natural diffi-
culties to beJ overcome and the imperfection of their
instruments and appliances, their progress was so
slow that in 1763 the proprietaries residing in Loudon
became impatient, and in August of that year em-
ployed Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, "Lon-
don astronomers and surveyors," to complete the

These surveyors came to America at once and
commenced operations, but it was nearly two years
before they had finished the preliminary work at the
eastern end and fairly started on the due east-and-
west line which has been since known by their
names, Mason and Dixon's line. By the end of that
year they had advanced as far west as the end of the
temporary line of 1739. In the spring of 1766 they
again commenced work, and on the 4th of June had
reached the top of Little Allegheny Mountain, but
dared not proceed farther for fear of the Indians.

After that no progress was made until June, 1767,
when the surveying-party again took up the work,
being then escorted by a party of warriors of the Six
Nations to hold the threatening Shawanese and Del-
awares in check. The point where Braddock's road
crosses from Maryland into Somerset County, Pa.,
was reached on the 24th of August, and there the Iro-
quois escort left them; but they pushed on, crossing the
Youghiogheny and Monongahela Rivers, and in Oc-
tober came to the Indian trail known as the Warrior
Branch, near the second crossing of Dunkard Creek.
The Delawares and Shawanese had been growing
more and more threatening since the departure of
the Six Nations warriors, and they now positively
forbade any advance by the surveyors west of the
crossing of the trail. The party could not proceed in
defiance of this prohibition, and consequently thej
line stopped at this point, beyond which it was not
extended until about fifteen years later.

The running of Mason and Dixon's line was the;
final establishment of the boundary between Penn-
sylvania and Maryland, but it established noth-
ing with regard to the line between the formW'
State and Virginia. The latitude of Mason andi
Dixon's line is 39' 43' 26" north, and neither con'
testant was willing to accept it as the correct boun->
dary. The proprietaries of Pennsylvania claimed'
under the royal grant a territory three degrees of \s.tii->
tude in width, — that is, from "the beginning of the
fortieth degree of north latitude" to " the beginnin
of the three and fortieth degree of north latitudBi''.
They cont,ended that the beginning of the first degree,
of north latitude is the equator, and the beginning of,
the second degree is at the end of the first degree, or
latitude 1° north, therefore that the " beginning of the!
fortieth degree is at the ending of the thirty-ninth



.1. -ive, or latitude 39" north. They therefore claimed
:i^ ilii ii- boundary against Virginia the parallel of 39'
iiniih. which would have given to Pennsylvania a
>tii[i 4.5' 26" in width south of Mason and Dixon's
liiir, in that part west of the western boundary of
Mai viand. But, on the contrary, "Virginia claimed
a^i\ill hereafter be more fully mentioned) that the

I M'lary between the two States should be the par-

alK'l lit" 40" north latitude. This would have given
to N'irginia a strip 16' 34" wide north of the present
Siaii lioundary, along the southern borders of Greene
aii'l I-'ayette Counties, as far east as the west line of

iiiit it was the establishment of the west line of
Pciia^ylvania that was regarded by eacli p.irty as of
till- liicatest importance, for each was anxious to se-
cure Pittsburgh and the Monongahela country. On
thr I'Nt of April, 1774, the Pennsylvania Council
i]i|i'inited James Tilghman and Andrew Allen com-
nii^-iniiers to confer with the Governor of Virginia
Willi a view to promote a settlement of the boun-
lai\. Tlie Governor asked them to submit a propo-
;-iliiiii in writing, which they did, viz., that sur-
Ivoyiii's be appointed by the two States, and that
|they proceed to survey the courses of the Delaware
ifroMi the intersection of Mason and Dixon's line
northward " to tliat part of the river that lies in the
latitude of Fort Pitt, and as much farther as may be
[leedful for the present purpose;" then that Mason
iml liixon's line be extended to five degrees of longi-
uilr iVoin the Delaware, and that from the termiiia-
inii ..1' the said five degrees a line or lines corre-
■l> iiiliiig to the courses of the Delaware be run to the
Hiin, 'as nearly as may be at the distance of five de-
,;ri.'i'^ from said river in every part," and that the lines
run be the boundary and line of jurisdiction until
he boundary could be run by royal authority. Dun-
nore objected to so inconvenient a line for the west
east) boundary, and he recommended a meridian line
be run from Mason and Dixon's at the distance of
ivc dco;rees of longitude, but he said that unless the
>iiiiiiissioners would agree to a plan as favorable to
i'iivi Ilia as to Pennsylvania there could be nothing
igreed on prior to the king's decision. The commis-
iioners replied that for the purpose of producing har-
nony and peace " we shall be willing to recede from
)ur charter bounds so far as to make the river Monon-
ahela from the line of Mason and Dixon the western
)oundary of jurisdiction, which would at once settle
3ur present dispute without the great trouble and ex-
pense of running lines, or the inconvenience of keep-
ng the jurisdiction in suspense." But Dunmore made
inal reply that under no circumstances would he con-
ent to yield Fort Pitt ; and this the commissioners
egarded as a close of the negotiations.

The plan submitted by the commissioners at the
ibove-mentioned conference was based on a proposi-
ion contained in a letter previously written by Gov-
■rnor Penn to Dunmore, viz. : that from the north-

western extremity of Maryland the boundary of
Pennsylvania should run due south to the 39th par-
allel (this being " the beginning of the 40th degree of

j northern latitude"), and from there run due west

I along that parallel to the end of five degrees of lon-
gitude from the Delaware, and that from that point

! the western boundary should be run north in a ser-
pentine course, corresponding with the meanders of
the Delaware, and so as to be five degrees of longi-
tude distant from tliat river at every point.

Dunmore, in reply, ridiculed the idea of the ser-
pentine line, but proposed that the west lino of
Pennsylvania should be run due south from the
t}oi-th boundary of Penn's grant, at a point five
degrees of longitude west from the Delaware on that
parallel, and he gave a rather plausible reason for
the proposition, viz. : " Because the grant directs that
the survey shall begin at a point on the south part of
the boundary and proceed northward; . . . it being
usual always in like cases to proceed and extend the
five degrees of longitude, and not to return to the
south point, and draw it from thence." He thought
this would be much more favorable for Virginia, for
he said, "If my construction be the true one, then
Fort Pitt (by reason of the Delaware River running
very much eastwardly towards your northern bounds)
will probably be at least fifty miles without your
limits." His idea (which was not very clearly ex-
pressed) was that the Delaware River is many miles
farther east at the forty-third than at the fortieth de-
gree of latitude, and that a corresponding gain to
Virginia would be made by extending the five de-
grees of longitude from the former latitude instead
of from the latter.

The propositions above mentioned were about the
last of the negotiations between Penn and Dunmore,
for both were soon after driven from power by the
Revolution. The next proposition for a settlement
of the boundary is Ibund in certain resolutions passed
by the Virginia Legislature on the 18th of December,
1776, one of which authorized the Virginia delegates
in the Continental Congress to propose the following

I plan :

j "That the meridian line drawn from the head of

I the Potomac to the northwest angle of Maryland be
extended due north until it intersects the latitude of

I forty degrees, and from thence the southern boundary
shall be extended on the said fortieth degree of lati-
tude until the di.stance of five degrees of longitude
from the Delaware shall be accomplished thereon,
and from the said point five degrees, either in every
point, according to the meanderings of the Delaware,
or (which is perhaps easier and better for both) from
proper points or angles on the Delaware, with inter-
mediate straight lines." This was identical with the
plan before mentioned, by which Pennsylvania would
lose a strip of considerable width north of Mason and
Dixon's line, along the southern borders of the pres-
ent counties of Greene and Fayette, and it embraced



also nearly the same proposition as that which had
been made by Governor Penu for a serpentine line,
corresponding to the courses of the Delaware, as a
Avestern boundary.

The first practical official action towards a definite
and final settlement was taken in 1779 by the appoint-
ment of George Bryan, John Ewing, and David Rit-
tenhouse, on the part of Pennsylvania, and Dr, James
Madison and Robert Andrews, on the part of Virginia,
.IS commissioners to meet in conference and determine
the boundary. These commissioners met Aug. 31,
1779, at Baltimore, Md., where they made and sub-
scribed to the following agreement :

" We, [naming the commissioners] do hereby mu-
tually, in behalf of our respective States, ratify and
confirm the following agreement, viz. : To extend
Mason and Dixon's line due west five degrees of
longitude, to be computed from the river Delaware,
for the southern boundary of Pennsylvania, and that
a meridian drawn from the western extremity thereof
to the northern limit of said State be the western
boundary of said State forever."

This agreement of the commissioners was confirmed
(upon certain conditions as to land titles) by the Vir-
ginia Legislature June 28, 1780, and by the General
Assembly of Pennsylvania on the 23d of September
in the same year. This ended the long controversy
so far as agreement on the location of the boundary
was concerned, but the work of running the line
still remained, and this was found to be a. task much
more difficult and troublesome than had been ex-

In running their line Jlason and Dixon had com-
puted a degree of longitude on that parallel to be 53
miles 167yV perche-s, and consequently that the line,
from where it was left at the Warrior Branch trail,
would have to be extended about twenty-three miles
westward to complete the five degrees of longitude
from the Delaware. But as some doubts had arisen
as to the accuracy of this computation, it was deter-
mined to establish the western limit by astronomical
observations, and, as considerable preparation was
necessary for the execution of the work by this
method, it was thought necessary in the mean time to
run a temporary line, and in the spring of 1781 the
PresidentandCouncilnf Pennsylvania, under author-
itv from the Assciiilily, api"iintcd Alexander Mc-
Clean (the renowned >\irveyor, wlio lived in Fayette
County for many years) to meet one to be appointed
by Virginia and execute the work. Reference to this
matter is found in a letter dated July 23, 1781, ad-
dressed by President Reed to Col. James Marshal,
lieutenant of Washington County, from which the
following is an extract :

"... It was much our Wish and equally our In-
tention to run the Line this Spring, but the State of

Virginia being invaded and the Affairs of the Govern-
ment in great Confusion there has not been the time
or Opp'y for that Purpose which was necessary. Be-
sides that, upon Inquiry we found the Season was too far
advanced for those astronomical Observations which
were necessary to run the Line with Exactness. We
have therefore postponed the grand Operation
next Spring. But, as we know it was highly necessary
to have a Partition of Territory and Jurisdiction, we
proposed to Virginia to run a temporary Line, begin-
ning at the End of Masons & Dixons, and measuring
23 miles, what is by Computation the five Degrees of i
Longitude called for in the Charter of King Charles
the 2d. This has been agreed to, & the State of Vir-
ginia has sent Orders to the Surveyor of Yeoghegany
County to join with one to be appointed by us to
that Service. We have appointed Alexander Mc-
Clean, Esq., & this Express carries up his Commis-
sion and Instructions for this Purpose. Should he
have Occasion for a Guard, or any other Assistance
from you, we make no Doubt he will receive it. As
soon as they have run the Line & reported their Pro-
ceedings we shall send up Proclamations calling upon
all those who shall fall into this State to conform to
its Laws and Government, and hope you will soon
be relieved from- the Anarchy and Confusion which
has reigned so long in your Country from this un-
happy Dispute."

On the 27th of August President Reed addressed
Thomas Scott on the same subject, as follows :

! "... AVe regret as much as any of the inhabitants
of the County can do the Delay of running the Line,
but the season was too far advanced before we got the
Answer from Virginia to admit of the astronomical

j Observations which are necessary for an exact & ac-
curate Performance of this important Post. The
Month of May is agreed by our Men of Science to be
the only proper Period, and there are divers Instru-
ments necessary which it will take some Time to pre-,
pare. However, being sensible of the Importance &

I Necessity of some Boundary, as soon as we found it

I impracticable to execute the Business this Spring '
proposed to the State of Virginia a temporary Line,.
extending Mason & Dixon's to the Ohio, or 23 miles.
They accepted the latter, & about a Month ago we
sent off a Commission to Alex' McClean, Esq', ap-

' pointing him our Agent for this Purpose. We hope

: that by this Time he has engaged in the Service, as we
learn from Col. Marshal that the Gov. of Virginia.

! had appointed their Agent. I have been thus par-'
ticular as well to obviate any Mistakes on thia
Subject as to show j'ou how anxious we have been
run the Line, and that the Delays have been unavoid-

In a letter dated Sept. 13, 1781, addressed to Presir,
dent Reed by Alexander McClean, he mentions that
Mr. Madison (the commissioner appointed by Vir-
ginia to act with him in running the temporary Hue)



ad only arrived on the last of August from the Ka-
awha, and proceeds :

"I have since conferred with him, and he appears
utwardly willingly to Co-operate with me iu the
lerformanceof the trust; yet appears warmly attached

the other State. Inasmuch as I am yet doubtful
hetherthe matter will be ended this Season. How-
ver it may be, I am determined this day to wrisk it,

is being the day appointed for Reudezvouz. We
lave been much distressed in our preparations by
leason of sudden Excursions of the Enemy ; Wash-

gton County being more immediately invested with
le external as well as Internal Enemies of this State.

our Excellency's Instructions Requiring the Lieuts.
f that County to furnish the Guard prevented me
■oni making application elsewhere, which has oc-
asioned at least a disappointment of ten. days, as I
ave attended the appointments already twice, & the
ruard or Madison not in Readiness."

So many delays occurred (intentional as was be-

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 27 of 193)