Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 29 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 29 of 193)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

slaves or servants until the age of thirty-one years to
register such slaves or servants, agreeable to the di-
rections of the act aforesaid for the gradual abolition

of slavery, on or before the 1st day of January next,
and the said master or masters, owner or owners of
such slaves or servants shall be entitled to liis or their
service as by the said act is directed, and the said
slaves and servants shall be entitled to all benefits
and immunities in the said act contained and ex-
pressed." And the clerks of the Orphans' Courts,
registers of the probate of wills, and recorders of
deeds for Westmoreland and Washington Counties
were empowered to call on the late clerks of the Vir-
ginia counties of Yohogania, Monongalia, and Oh in
for the papers and records in their custody relating to
the taking of oaths of allegiance, probates of wills,
granting of letters of administration, and recording
of deeds ; and the said' ex-clerks of the Virginia
counties were required to deliver up such records and
documents entire and tmdefaced, under penalty of a
fine of five hundred pounds for refusal or neglect to
do so, and such records and documents were then tn
become a part of the records of Westmoreland and
Washington Counties.

The passage of the law for the gradual abolition
of slavery in Pennsylvania was very oftensive to most
of those who had come into this region with their
servants from the other side of Mason and Dixon's
line. It has been said (but with how much of truth
is not known) that Gen. Washington was greatly dis-
pleased by the enactment, and the story even goes so
far as to assert that he regarded it as a personal af-
front, and that this was the cause of his disposing of
his real and personal property in Fayette County.
I However this may have been, it is certain that a
j large proportion of the Virginians and Marylanders
who had settled wdth their slaves west of the Laurel
Hill became so incensed at the adoption of this meas-
: ure, and the establishment at about the same time of
j the boundary line, by which, to their surprise, they
found themselves in Pennsylvania and not within the
I bounds of Virginia, as they had supposed, that they
! sold out their possessions in the Monongahela country
i and removed with their slaves to the Southwest. This
was one of the principal causes for the commencement
j of the very extensive emigration from this section of
country to Kentucky,' which set in about 1780, and

.. 1 Judge Veet'll -:l^ -, ■ -i-'Mi^i.^ I i,,- hhH.-. , ■■ !'l,,. |,, - , j, ,,f i! ,- Inv

and its becomin- .1 Mi .- ^m,

to be] Peuus>lv:ii.i,i !■ ^ ' ] . • ; 1 ' . ,1. •• ;i \ ' ..I . ,1 I ]i

to that gbti'ious Stiito many of lier best pioneer mmiIi -, ;iiii n^ \\lion

were her Popes, her Uowana, her Bletcalfes, her lltrin,-, ( .hri^

The flight to Kentuclij- stcTrted/rora We moiitt 0/ /.• / - , : , I, t vi 1,1
boats, wliich landed at Limestone (Majsvilk), I : . |.

upduring the decade of 17SO-0O, and to some r-i 1 ; 'i , -, l.i;

now it began to blend with another current wlitrii i.m n,i . tl,- 1 in 1]
and tempting plains of Ohio. . . . These early reni<ival3 toKeiiltuli;
brought to our county overpuwcritig numbers of settlers from Easteri
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, who availed themselves of the opportii
uity to buy out the improvements of the setilers upon easy terms, o
this class of new settlers were the Friends, who setlKJ about Urowns


continued during a succeeding period of ten or fifteen

Among tlie number of residents of Fayette County
wlio registered slaves under the requirement of tlie
law of 1780 are found the following-named persons :

Edward Cook, registered Oct. 12, 1780, seven slaves,
viz. : .Tames, aged 45 ; Sail, 3-5 ; Davy, 24 ; Joshua,
22 : Esther, 17 ; Nelly, 16 ; and Sue, 1 year.

Zachariah Connell, Oct. 28, 1780, two slaves, viz. :
Tom, aged 32, and Luce, 40.

Thomas Brown, Dec. 27, 1782, six-slaves.

"William McCormicI-, Dec. 30, 1782, five slaves.

James Finley, 1781 and 1782, eight slaves.

Van Swearingen, 1780, nine slaves, and in 1781
four more. '

William Goe, 1782, ten slaves.

Robert Beall, 18 slaves ; Walter Brisco, 9 ; Mar-
garet Hutton, 9 ; Isaac Meason, 8 ; James Cross, 8 ;
Andrew Linn, 7 ; Sarah Hardin, 7; Nancy Brashears,
12; Richard Noble, 7 ; Benjamin Stevens, C ; James
Dearth, (3; John Stevenson, 5; Samuel Kincaid, 5 ;
Peter Laughlin, .5; John JIcKibben, .5; Edmund
Freeman, 4; James Blackiston, 4; Isaac Pierce, 4 ;
Augustine Moore, 4; Hugh Laughlin, 4; Benjamin
Davis, 4; Jamc^ Hauimund, 4. Each of the f.illow-
ing-named rei;i-teru'l tlirc' slaves, viz.: Providence
Mounts, Jnhn :\Iiiit.i-, Margaret Vance, William Har-
rison, Diiiiiis S|iiiiiL:ur, Thomas Moore, JosephGrable,
Eobcrt Ilarrisiiii, I-uuc Newman, John Wells. Among
those registering two slaves each were Eichard Steven-
son, John Hardin, Mark Hardin, Robert Ross, Philip
Shute, John Mason, John Laughlin, Otho Brashears,
Jonathan Arnold, and Reziu Virgin.

An act supplementary and amendatory to the act
for the gradual abolition of slavery in Pennsylvania
was passed on the 29th of March, 1788. Among the
several provisions of this act was one declaring that
all persons owners of chil.lren born after March 1,
1780, who wnuld, uniU'r the act of that date, be liable
to serve till twciity-eiirlit years of age, must, in order
to hold >uch rliildrcn to servitude, cause them to be
registered on or before April 1, 1789, or within six

In aililition to the owners of slaves already men-
tioned, tin r.> lire I'ouiul the following names of per-
sons roui-l' iin- ^l:ives in Fayette County in and prior
to the year Isii:;, viz.:

Mrnulln, Toinuhip.
John Moore, wheelwright. Sarah Brown, single wo-
Ann Brown, widow. man.

Bazil Brown, farmer. Nancy Workman, widow.

Bullskin Township.
Betsey Beall, widow. William Boyd, Esq.

Elizabeth Stephenson, sin- Presley Carr Lane, Esq.
gle woman.

Sprino Hill Township.
Mary Moore, widow. Thomas Tobin, farmer.

John Wilson, farmer. Thomas Clare, "

Catharine Swearingen. Joshua Brown, "
John McFarland, major

Georges Township.
George Tobin, farmer. Hugh Cunningham, far-


John McCluer Hazlip, William Crawford, mer-

farmer. chant.

Joseph Thornton, mer-

German Township.

John Huston, hatter and Andrew Rabb, miller.

merchant. Thomas Graham, mer-

Ephraim Walter, farmer. chant, Geneva.
Robert McLean, "

Dunbar Township.
John Canon, fiirmer. John Rogers, farmer and

James PauU, " inn-keeper.

Joseph Torrance, farmer. Jacob Murjihy, farmer.

Washinf//nn Township.

Hezekiah McGruder, fiir- John Patterson, Esq.
James Lynch, farmer.
Heirs of Samuel Culbert-

Daniel Canon, farmer.
Samuel Burns, farmer.
John Goe, farmer.

tbe Scotch-!

Presl'j'ttTians genenilly." — Mouo}if)ah£la of


Col. Isrnel Slireve, tlie puiclmsorof Gon. Wastiinpcton's liinds in Perry
lo\viisliii>, Fayi.-tlL- Co., in ;i leltfr (luted Doc, 2G, 1TS9, nnd addressed to N' V •!■ I- .V, -aid,—

"I.ini li ill this idacc.owing to ttie great emigration

(lowiill. I I:- .- ir people werecrazy to gotatioat on tlieOhio.

many Ir;i\L , 1 \ - I l:^ iii^s, set out for they know not where, but too

Fran/:/ in Township.

Benjamin Stephens, far- James Paull, Esq.

mer. John Patterson, farmer.

Hannah Crawford, widow. Samuel Work, farmer.

John McClelland, farmer. Agnes Canon, widow.

Benoni Dawson, farmer. John Byers, farmer.

Union Township.
Ephraim Douglass, Esq. John Wood, saddler and
Alexander McClean, sur- merchant.

veyor. Joseph Huston, iron-mas-

John Jackson, miller. tcr.

Ann JIurphy, widow.

Luzerne Township.

Nathaniel Breading, Esq. James Hammond, farmer.
Andrew Frazer, farmer. John Hyatt, farmer.

Ti/rone Township.
Alexander Lonir, farmer.



Under the law of March 29, 1788, registries of chil-
dren liable to servitude continued in Fayette for more
than half a century, and three hundred and fifty-four
such registries were made in the county during the
period from Feb. 5, 1780, to Jan. 12, 1839, after which
latter date none have been found in the records.



The original counties of Pennsylvania were Phil-
adelphia, Chester, and Buclcs, of whicli tlie western
boundaries were indefinite. On the 10th of May,
1729, an act was passed erecting the county of Lan-
caster, to embrace " all and singular the lands within
the province of Pennsylvania lying to the northward
of Octoraro Creek, and to the westward of a line of
marlced trees running from the north branch of the
said Octoraro Creek nortlieasterly to the river Schuyl-
kill ; . . . and the said Octoraro Creek, the line of
marked trees, and the river Schuylkill aforesaid shall
be the boundary line or division between said county
and the counties of Chester and Philadelphia." Thus
ihe nominal jurisdiction of Lancaster County ex-
tended westward to the western limits of the pro-
vince, including the territory which now forms the
county of Fayette.

In 1749 the inhabitants of the western parts of Lan-
caster County represented to the Governor and As-
sembly of the province that they were suffering great
hardships by reason of remoteness from the county-
seal, the courts of justice, and the public offices, and
prayed for the formation of a new county from that
part of Lancaster ; whereupon, on the 27th of Jan-
uary, 1750, it was by the General Assembly enacted
"That all and singular the lands lying within the
province of Pennsylvania aforesaid to the westward
of Susquehanna, and northward and westward of the
county of York,' be and are hereby erected into a
county named and hereafter to be called Cumber-
land, bounded northward and westward with the line
of the province, eastward partly with the river Sus-
quehanna and partly with the said county of York,
and southward in part by the said county of York
and part by the line dividing the .said province from
that of Maryland."

For more than twenty years, a period covering the
campaigns of Washington and Braddock and the

1 York County had been erected a short time previously (Aug. 19,
1749), to embrace " all and singular the lands lying witliin the province
of Pennsylvania to the westward of the river Susquehanna and south-
ward and eastward of the South Mountain, . . . bounded northward
and westward by a line to be run from the said river Susquehanna along
the ridge of the said South Mountain until it shall intersect the Miiry-
land line, southward by the said Maryland line, and eastward by the
said river Susquehanna."

planting of the earlier settlements in the valleys of
the Youghiogheny and Monongahela, Cumberland
continued to include the region west of the Laurel
Hill range. On the 9th of March, 1771, that region
(embracing the present counties of Fayette, West-
moreland, Washington, Allegheny, and contiguous
country) passed to the jurisdiction of Bedford County,
which was erected by an act of that date, to include
" all and singular the lands lying and being within
the boundaries following, that is to say, beginning
I where the province line crosses the Tuscarora moun-
tain, and running along the summit of that mountain
1 to the Gap near the head of the Path Valley ; thence
with a north line to the Juniata; thence with the
Juniata to the mouth of Shaver's Creek ; thence north-
east to the line of Berks County ; thence along the
Berks County line northwestward to the western
bounds of the province; thence southward, according
to the several courses of the western boundary of the
province, to the southwest corner of the province,
and from thence eastward with the southern line of
the province to the place of beginning."

The territory of Bedford County west of the Laurel
Hill became Westmoreland by the passage (Feb. 26,
1773) of an act erecting the last-named county, to em-
brace "All and singular the lands lying within the
I province of Pennsylvania, and being within the boun-
I daries following, that is to say, beginning in the
I province line, where the most westerly branch, com-
monly called the South, or Great Branch of You-
ghiogheny River crosses the same ; then down the
easterly side of the said branch and river to the
Laurel Hill ; thence along the ridge of the said hill,
I northeastward, so far as it can be traced, or till it runs
i into the Allegheny Hill ; thence along the ridge di-
viding the waters of the Susquehanna and the Alle-
gheny Rivers to the purchase line at the head of
Susquehanna ; thence due west to the limits of the
province, and by the same to the place of beginning."
Westmoreland County was divided into townships
by the Court of Quarter Sessions, held at Robert
Hanna's house, April 6, 1773. "Before William
j Crawford, Esq., and his associates, justices of the same
court, the court proceeded to divide the said county
I into the following townships, by the limits and de-
! scriptions hereafter following, viz." Then follows a
description of the boundary lines of the several town-
ships, viz. : Fairfield, Donegal, Huntington, Mount
Pleasant, Hempfield, Pitt, Tyrone, Springhill, Men-
alien, Rostraver, and Armstrong, the descriptions of
the five townships embracing the present county of
Fayette being as follows :

Tyrone. " Beginning at the mouth of Jacob's Creek,
and running up that creek to the line of Fairfield;
thence with that line to the Youghiogheny; thence
along to the foot of Laurel Hill, to Gist's; thence by
Burd's road to where it crosses Redstone Creek;
thence down that creek to the mouth ; thence with a
straight line to the beginning."


Springhill. "Beginning at the mouth of Red-
stone Creek, and running thence a due west course
to the western boundary of the province ; thence with |
the province line to the southern boundary of the
province ; then east with that line to where it crosses '
the Youghiogheny ; then with the Youghiogheny to
Laurel Hill; then with the line of Tyrone to Gist's,
and thence with that line to the beginning."

Menullen. " Beginning at the mouth of Brown's
Run, thence due east to the top of Laurel Hill, and
. . . westward to the limits of the province."

Rostraver. "Beginning at the mouth of Jacob's |
Creek, and running down the Youghiogheny to where
it joins the Monongahela, then up the Monongahela
to the mouth of the Redstone Creek, and thence with
a straight line to the beginning."

Donegal. "To begin where the line of Fairfield
township intersects the county line, and to run along
that line to where the Youghiogheny crosses the same ;
thence down the north side of the Youghiogheny to
the top of Chestnut Ridge ; thence along the top of i
Chestnut Ridge to the line of Armstrong ; thence up
the Loyal Hanna to the mouth of the Big Roaring
Run, and thence up said run to the beginning."

The project to form the county of Fayette from the
southern part of Westmoreland was agitated as early
as 1781. The old county had in that year been shorn I
of its territory west of the Monongahela by the erec-
tion of Washington County, and now the project to
reduce its limits still farther by the formation of
Fayette met with strong opposition in the other parts.
Among the many remonstrances against it was the I
following, a letter from Christopher Hays to Presi-
dent Moore,' dated Sept. 20, 1782 :

"... I Have been Informed By Bill Printed for
Public Consideration that the County of Westmore-
land will or is to be Divided into Two Counties '
Unless Opposed by the Public. If the New County
should take Place Westmoreland County will be To-
tally Ruined, and in a short Time will Become an
Easy Pray to the Enemy,- as the Major Part of what
will be Left to this County are at Present in Forts
and Blockhouses, scarcely able of supporting them-
selves, and of Consequence will Readyly be Ruined
if we rely on the Protection of the Lieutenants of the
other County, I Therefore would Beg the Favour of
you, to use your Influence & Interest with the Prin-
ciple Memlicrs of the Assembly of this State to Lave
said Bill made Yoid & of None Effect, and to Move
the seat of justice of this County Into some Interior
Part of the County, & in so Doing you will Much
oblige the Distressed of Westmoreland and your
" Most Obedient Humble servant

"Christo. Hays."

' Pa. Archives, ix. 637.

2 The IndiaiiB, incited liy tlis
threatening the northern settlei
weeks before iiail burned iiiid des

! at that time constantly

But the remonstrances failed to effect the purpose
for which they were intended, and on the 26th of Sep-
tember, 1783, the General Assembly passed an act,
which, after reciting in its preamble that " a great
number of the inhabitants of that part of Westmore-
land County circumscribed by the rivers Monongahela
and Youghiogeny and Mason and Dixon's line have by
their petition humbly represented to the Assembly of
this State the great inconvenience they labor under
by reason of their distauce from the seat of judica-
ture in said county," proceeded to enact and declare
" That all and singular the lands lying within that
part of Westmoreland County bounded as herein-
after described: beginning at Monongahela River
where Mason and Dixon's line intersects the same ;
thence down said river to the mouth of Speir's Run ;
thence by a straight line to the mouth of Jacob's
Creek ; thence by the Youghiogeny River to the
forks of the same ; thence up the southwest branch of
the said river, by a part of Bedford County, to Mason
and Dixon's line ; thence by said line to the Monon-
gahela River aforesaid, be and hereby are erected into
a county named and hereafter to be called Fayette*

The county of Fayette, as formed and erected by
the act of 1783, embraced all that is within the pres-
ent limits of the county west of the Youghiogheny,
but nothing on the other side of the river. On the
17th of February, 1784, an act was passed annexing
to Fayette the territory which it now embraces east
and northeast of the Youghiogheny, viz. : " All that
part of Westmoreland County beginning at the mouth'
of Jacob's Creek, thence up the main branch of the
said creek to Cherry's mill, thence along the road
leading to Jones's mill until the same shall intersect
the line of Bedford County,* thence southwesterly by
the line of Bedford County aforesaid until the same
intersects the Youghiogeny River, thence down the
said river to the place of beginning."

The act erecting the county provided, in one of its
sections, " That all taxes already laid within the
bounds of the county of Fayette by virtue of any act
of the General Assembly of this State which are not
already paid shall be collected by the respective col-
lectors within the bounds aforesaid and paid into the
hands of the treasurer of Westmoreland County. . ."
But it appears that this matter of the collection of
taxes at that time in Fayette County was a very em-
barrassing one, that the attempt to make such col-

^So nan

■• Tlie part of the line from Cherry's Mill east to the line of Somerset
County being found to be obscure and not well defined, was run out and
established by commissioners appointed by the Governor for the purpose,
under authority of an act passed March 1, 1SU6.

The line along the crest of Laurel Hill, between Fayette and Somer-
set Counties, being indefinite, was established under authority of an act
of Assembly passed April 17, 1844, by John Hanna, of Somerset, and
John R. Lqve, of Fayette, commissioners, under
work was done by H. S. Holi'rook. Es(]., surveyor.



lection met ^Yith resistance, and that in various parts
of tlie county, as well as in Washington and West-
moreland/ outrages and violence were not uncoin- ,
mon. That the new county (particularly Menallen j
township and the country on Georges Creek) was
then in a state of almost anarchy is shown by the
tenor of various letters and documents found in the
archives of the State, though the occurrences and
circumstances to which they refer cannot at the
present time be fully understood. Copies of some of
the papers mentioned are here given, viz. :
Later of Secretarij Armsfroiip to Michael Huffna^jle, of
Westmoreland County.

" PlIItADF.I.PHIA, Nov. 15, 1783.

" De.\r Sir,— Your letter of the 16th Ult. has been
received. The licentious disposition discovered in
Menallen township is not a little alarming, & in th<3
Opinion of Council requires an early and vigorous

" Upon the receipt of this you will therefore as-
semble the Magistracy of that part of the County, &
with them adopt the most efficient measures to in-
vestigate the business and enforce the laws.

"J. Armstrong, Jr.,

" Secry."

Ephrahn Douglass to President Dickinson.

"Uniontow.v, 2(1 Felii-uary, 1784.

" The instructions of Council respecting the oppo-
sition to assessment in Menallen township I laid be-
fore the Justices as directed, but they have not yet
come to any resolution thereon ; some of them I And'
are of opinion that the reviving it at this distant time
might be attended with more vexatious consequences
than the suffering it to be forgotten will probably
produce. For this reason, and iu consideration of
their since peaceable demeanor, I should incline to
agree with them that for the present, until the author-
ity of the Court becomes by degrees and habitude of
obedience more firmly established in the general ac-
quiescence of all descriptions of people within the
County, and a Goal and other objects of popular ter-
ror be erected to impress on their minds an idea of
the punishment annexed to a breach of the laws,

1 The foUowing letter from Christoiilier ILiys to President Moore,
(liltcil " Westmoreland County, Si-pt. 20, 1782," shows tliiit the iissess-
ment and collection of tuxes was forcibly resisted before the erection of
Fayette, viz.:

"... As our Assessors was tiilviug their Returns According to Law,
the Opposers Assembled under arms, Drove tlicni off from tlieir Deanty,
Fired Guns at them, and say tliey will not Piiy any Taxes, nor be Obe-
dient to our Laws, being they never took the outh of Fidelity to this
State, But moans to support a New State. I should think it wonld not
he amiss if the Houourablo Council would send a number of Proclama-
tions a<;ainst all those that is or will be in Opposition of all Laws and
Lawfull Proceeding in this State, as there is .t Number such in our
Territories, & will of Consequence encourage n Number More Unless
something Done to Oppose them; the Citizens of these Two Counties
[Westmoreland and Washington] Think it Extremely Heard to pay Taxes
& be nearle all summer under arms & Receive Neither Pay nor Pro-
visions, as Each Man has to Find mostly their own Provisions while on

lenient measures might pi'oduce^as good effects as
the most rigorous ones that justice could adopt, were
not the wisdom and directions of Council opposed to
this opinion. To these reasons for declining the
prosecution of offenders if their identity could be
made to appear (which I think very doubtful) might
be added otiiers that I am distressed to be obliged to
take notice of. The Tax not having been assessed till
after the division of the County, the authority of the
Commissioners of Westmoreland then became justly
questionable, and the total want of Commissioners in
this County to levy a Tax of any kind, either for the
State or to answer the exigencies of the County, and
the conseqent inability of the Trustees to perform the
duties assigned them by the Legislature, may all be
subjects of consideration in this case. For, from an
unhappy misconception of the law for dividing West-
moreland, this county has not an officer of any kind,
except such as were created or continued by the Act
or appointed by Council. Denied a separate election of
a member in Council and representative in Assembly
till the general election of the present year,'- they un-
fortunately concluded that this inability extended to
all the other elective officers of the County, and in
consequence of this belief voted for them in con-
junction with Westmoreland. . . . The Trustees have
appointed next Monday to meet on and begin the
partition line between tliis county and Westmoreland
on this condition, which Col. MacLean, who is to be
executive person, has generously agreed to — to pay
all the expence at some future time, when it shall be

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 29 of 193)