Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 56 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 56 of 193)
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ship), road from Haydentown to Somerfield, on farm
of R. P. McClellan.'

1869. — Over Perkins' Run (Springfield township),
on road from Springfield to Petersburg.

1871.— Over Redstone Creek, Fayette Street, in
borough of Uniontown.

1871. — Over Big Meadow Run, on road from Ohio
Pile to Farmington (Stewart and Wharton town-

1871.— Over Cisely's Run, Fayette City Borough,
south of town.

1871. — Over Dunlap's Creek, one-half mile below
Merrittstown (Redstone and Luzerne).

1871. — Over Meadow Run, near S. Rush's (Whar-
ton township).

1874. — Over Jacob's Creek, between Ray's Ford
and Cunningham's Ford (by Tyrone township and
Westmoreland County jointly).

1874. — Over Jacob's Creek (Bullskin township),
where the road to Mount Pleasant crosses, at Walk-
er's Ford (one-half expense agreed to be paid by cit-
izens of Westmoreland County).

1875. — Over Redstone Creek, at Cook's Mill (lower
ford). A rebuilding of the bridge of 1851, which
had been carried away by flood.

1875. — Over Redstone Creek, upper ford. Re-
building of the bridge built in 1868, and carried away
by flood.

1875. — Over Cook's Run (Washington township),
between mill-dam and stable of N. Brightwell.

1875.— Over Galley's Run, at Broadford (Counells-
ville and Tyrone).

1875. — Over Little Sandy Creek, east of Shinbone
(Wharton township).

1875. — Over Cox's Run (Luzerne township).

1875.— Over Little Redstone Creek, at Armell's
Mill, one mile south of Fayette City.

1876.— Over Redstone Creek, at Linn's Mill (Red-
stone and Jefferson).

1877.— Over Redstone Creek, at Parkhill's Mill
(bridge rebuilt).


1877. — Over Jacob's Creek, above Everson to Scott-

1877. — Over Redstone Creek, in Uniontown Bor-
ough, on " read leading to Hogsett's."

1877. — Over Redstone Creek, at Vance's Mill (re-

1879. — Over Mounts' Creek, at steel-works, Con-
nellsville Borough, bridge rebuilt.

1880. — Over Redstone Creek, near residence of
Isaac Lynn.

1880.— Over Mounts' Creek, at brick-works (Bull-
skin township).

lS81.^0ver Brown's Run, on line of Georges and
German townships.

The first and the most earnest, as he was also the illustrious of all the a.Iv(H:-ates,.f a, -reat national
highway U, cn.,s the AHc-liciiies ami .■..nnect the re-
mote st'tlk-mt-uts of the Dili.. ValK-y with tlic country
east of the mountains, was (Jen. George Washington.
One of the first objects to which he gave his attention
after his retirement from the command of the Revolu-
tionary armies was a careful examination of the country
between the Potomac and the Monongahela, to note the
advantages offered and the obstacles to be surmounted
in the great public enterprise which he had in view.
Even at that early time he had in contemplation the
possibility of a canal, to form a water-carriage be-
tween the Potomac and Youghiogheny Rivers, but as
such an enterprise would involve a heavy expense
(the extent of which he ]>robably but faintly realized)
a good .uli~titnl.' u-o„I,l 1,,. a Miii-tantially built road,
tlie oprnin- of wliirl, 1,,. l,rli,.M-,l lo lir nc-i-sary to
bind together the eastern and western sections of the
States which his sword had made free and independ-

It was in the year 178-t that Washinirton made his
exploriug-trii. from the I'otomac to tlie ( )liio. From
Cumlierland to the Laurel llili, he pasM d through a
region with which he had been made familiar thirty
years before, by marching through it in his own cam-
paign of 1754, and with Gen. Braddock in 1755. Ar-
riving at the Yonghioglieny, lie embarked in a canoe
with an Indian pilot, and pas-.d down that river to Ohio
Pile Falls, where he landed, and thence rode across
the country to the Monongahela, and up the valley of

MMly ad-
ns to tlie

that stream into Virginia. It is related of him that
in September of the year named he was on one occa-
sion seated in a hunter's cabin near the Virginia line,
examining maps and asking questions of a number of
frontiersmen who stood around him, relative to the
passes of the mountains and the adaptability of the
country for the construction of the road which he had
in mind, when a young man of foreign appearance,
wdio was among the bystanders, volunteered an
opinion indicating a certain route which he believed
to be the best for the purpose. At this interruption
Washington regarded the speaker with surprise, and
with something of the imperious look of the com-
mander-in-chief, but made no reply, and continued
I his examination. Upon its completion the general
I saw that the opinion expressed by the unknown
speaker was undoubtedly well founded, and turning to
him said, in a polite but decided way, " You are
right, young man ; the route you have indicated is the
correct one." The young stranger proved to be Al-
bert Gallatin, afterwards Secretary of the Treasury of
the United States, and one of the principal promoters
of the construction of the great National road to the
Ohio. It was here that Washington first formed his
acquaintance, and the friendship thus begun con-
tinued uninterrupted during the lifetime of the chief
From the upper Monongahela, Washington passed
through the county of Washington to the Ohio River.
Four years later he was elected President of the
United States, and during the eight years of his ad-
ministration he continued a steadfast and earnest
advocate of the project of a great highway, to be con-
st iiirted by the government, across the Alleghenies,
tor the purpose of binding more firmly together the
eastern and western sections of the United States.

During the administration of President Adams (in
1797) the proposition for a road across the Alleghe-
nies, to be built by the government, was brought up
in Congress, but no action was taken. Again, in 1801,
the subject was brouglit to the attention of Congress
in President Jeft'erson's first message to that body.
Some discussion ensued, but without result at that
time. On the' 30th of April, 1802, an act of Con-
gress was passed admitting Ohio into the Union as
a sovereign State, and by the jjrovisions of that act
a one-twentieth part of the net proceeds of sales of
public lands in the new State, was set apart to be ap-
plied to the con.struction of roads from the Atlantic
sea-board over the Alleghenies to and across the Ohio.
This was the beginning of the legislation which re-
sulted in the construction of the National road west
from Cumberland.-

- Oil tlie oth of Maich, 1804, tlie General Assembly of PennsylTania
passed an act providing for the incorporation of tlie '• Union and Cum-
berland Turnpilie Road Comimnv " M|.|...iiiiHiL' Fphraim Douglass, Al-
exander McCIeau, Natliani.-l 1' ' !- i ^Ir■;lson, Jacob fieeson,
Jacob Bowman, Samuel Jack- : i 'A n ;i .1- m, Josepli Torrence,
Charles Porter, John Cunuiiiuli m - in,;. i 1 ^..r, and John Gibson, of
Fayette County, Jolin Heaton, ,l..hii Jlnmr, Uiisli Barclay, and John
Badolet, of Greene County; Neal Gillespie, Zephaniah Bell, Thomaa



On the 30tli of DoX-einbL-r, ISU,'), tlic Senate of the
United States passed a bill entitled " An Act to regu-
late the laying out and making a Road from Cumber-
land, in the State of Maryland, to the State of Ohio."
It was then debated and passed in the House of Repre-
sentatives, and became a law March 29, 1806. The com-
missioners appointed by the President under this act to
lay outthe proposed road from Cumberland to the Ohio
River were Col. Eli Williams and Thomas Moore, of
Maryland, and Joseph Kerr, of Ohio, who proceeded
to examine the country through which it was to pass,
and without having fixed upon that part of the route
west of the Monongahela, made their first report,
which was presented to Congress, with the me.^sage of
President Jefferson, Jan. 31, 1807. In a special mes-
sage to Congress, Feb. 19, 1808, referring to the report
of the commissioners, he said, " I have approved of
the route therein proposed for the said road as far as
Brownsville, with a single deviation, since located,
which carries it through Uniontown. From thence,
the course to the Ohio and the point within the legal
limits at which it shall strike that river is still to be

In 1811, Congress passed "An Act in addition to
the act to regulate the laying out and making a
road from Cumberland, in the State of Maryland,
to the State of Ohio," by which it was provided,
" That the sum of fifty thousand dollars be, and is
hereby, appropriated in making said road between
Cumberland, in the State of Maryland, and Browns-
ville, in the State of Pennsylvania, commencing at
Cumberland, which sum of fifty thousand dollars shall

Aclieson, J.'imes KeiT, and Joseph Pentecost, of Wasliington County,
and Thomas Spencer, Aljniham Morrison, Jamea Mitchell, and John
McClean, of Somerset County, comniissionei-s to receive subscriptions
to the capital stock of the said company, which was to be incorporated
under the act for the purpose of " making an artificial road from tbe
western side of Laurel Hill, near Union-town, to the State line, in a
direction towards Cumberland, in the State of Maryland."

It was provided and declared by the act, "That the President, Mana-
gers, and Company shall have a right to cause a road to be laid out [on
the route indicated] sixty feet wide, and at least twenty feet thereof to
be made an artificial road bedded with wood, stone, gravel, or any.other
hard substance well compacted together, and of sufficient depth to secure
a solid foundation to the same, in such manner as to secure, as near as
the materials will admit of, a firm and even surface, rising towards tlio
middle by a gradual arch, and so nearly level in its progress that ii
shall in no place rise or fall more tlian will form an angle of five and a
half degrees with a horizontal line,and shall forever hereafter maintain
and keep the same in good and perfect order and repair from the town
of Union to the State line aforesaid."

The company was empowered to erect toll-giites and collect toll on the
road, the work to be commenced within six years, and completed within
ten years from the date of the act, under penalty of forfeiture of its
francliises, and the Slate to have tlie right of taking the road at any
■time after 1830 by reimbui-sing to the company the cost of its construc-

It is apparent that the projected turnpike was to be an eastern thor-
oughfare, not only for the people of Fayette and Somereet Counties,
through which it was to pass, but also for the inhabitants of Wasliing-
ton and Greene Counties, and was eventually to be extended west of
the Monongahela. But the act of Congress passed soon afterwards
providing for the construction of the National road caused the abandon-
ment of the project for constructing the Union and Cumberland turn-


be replaced out of the fund reserved for laying out
and making roads to the State of Ohio, by virtue of
the seventh section of an act passed on the 30th of
April, 1802."

The first contracts, in sections, for the first ten miles
from Cumberland bear date April 16th and May 8,
1811. These were finished in the fall of 1812. The
next letting was of eleven miles more, to Tomlinson's,
in August, 1812, which were nearly completed in
1814. From Tomlinson's to Smithfield, eighteen
miles were let in August, 1813, but not finished until
1817, owing to the scarcity of laborers during the
war, war prices, and the fear of failure of some of the
contractors. The next letting was of about six and
a half miles west of Smithfield, in September, 1815,
in sections, to John Hagan, Doherty, McGlaughlin
and Bradley, William AuU, and Evans and Ramsay.
In February, 1817, about five miles more were let
[carrying the road to Braddock's Grave] to Ramsay
and McGravey, John Boyle, D. McGlaughlin and
Bradley, and Charles McKinney. And in May, 1817,
it was let about nine miles farther, to Uniontown, to
Hagan and McCann, Mordecai and James Cochran
(large and popular contractors), Thompson McKean,
and Thomas and Matthew Blakeley.

It has already been noticed in President Jefferson's
special me.ssage to Congress on the 19th of Febru-
ary, 1808, that he had approved and adopted the
route recommended by the commissioners from Cum-
berland to Brownsville, on the Monongahela, with the
exception of a part of it in Fayette County, which the
commissioners had laid out in such a manner as to
leave Uniontown in an isolated position away from
the line of the road. This action of the commission-
ers caused no little consternation at the county-seat,
for it was believed that the town would be ruined if
the great Cumberland road should be laid out to pass
at a distance from it. But the matter was taken in
hand by Gen. Ephraim Douglass and others of the
most influential citizens of the place, who represented
the case to President Jefferson so effectively that he
changed the route to pass through Uniontown, as
indicated in his message. Thus the route was estab-
lished as far west as Brownsville, but westward from
that point to the Ohio it was left undetermined.
There was great rivalry and jealousy existing be-
tween the several eligible points on the Ohio, for it
was believed that wherever the road should strike
the eastern shore of that river there would spring up
a flourishing city. The people of the inland towns
lying between Brownsville and the Ohio (especially
those of the town of Washington') were exceedingly

1 When it became known by tlic publication of President Jefferson's
message (above referred to) that tlie route of tlie National road had been
fixed between Cumberland an'! Pr.^wnsviH-, ttit irnt west of the latter
point, the people of Washingtnh • !, ,,,, , h those of Uniontown

had previously done) to scn.i i ,. ' , ; iiiu route of tlie road

through their town. Davhl A. I, . i,, I- , , «i, , hi.l been elected to the
State Legislature in 1705 on llie Kiinihliain Hi ket with Albert Gallatin
to Congress, and who in that capacity represented Wiiabington County



anxious lest the road should be finally located at a
distance from them. The question of the location
of the road between the Monongahela and the Ohio
was a very delicate and difficult one for the commis-
sioners to decide, and in their report to President
Jeffi?rson they left it open, with the remark that " in
this is to be consulted the wi-lics nf thai populous
section of Ohio and the coniicrii,. II- wiili i(iads lead-
iiisr to St. Louis under the act nl Imh;.' Afterwards
(in the same year) they made, by direction of the
President, an examination of the route from Browns-
ville by way of the town of Washington to Wheeling;
but 111) fiiiiil location of that ])artof the route was made
then, nor until mm lal years later. When James
Madison became President of the United States he
confirmed the action of his predecessor, Jefferson, in
reference to the location of the road from Cumberland
to I5ro\vnsville, and in 1815, soon after the declaration I
of peace with Great Britain, he directed the commis- I
sioners, Williams, Moore, and Kerr, to proceed with
the examination and survey of the route between the
Monongahela and Ijliio Rivers. This was done under
their direction in tlie fall of that year and in the
winter of 181')-16, by their engineer, Caspar Wever, i
of Weverton, Md. Two principal routes were sur-
veyed, one through the borough of Washington,

at different times tluriug tlie ailministratioiis of WusliingtoD and Jeffer-
6on, wrute to Gallatin (wlio was tlien Secrclary of tlie Treasury, and
aUvavs on leans of intimate frienJbliili -Willi Mr. Aclicson), solicilinK
his iiiflui-m.iiii.i . n-(.| in favor of the location of the road throut'li
the town .,1 \V;i^liin^t>iii t- WlieeliiiB. To this letter and reqnest of Mr.

"New York, Septer. 1st, 1808

, Esq.,



" Your ohedt. servt.,
t appears that the action of the

and the other through the soutli part of Wa.shington
County, leaving the town of Washington several miles
to the northward. The topography of the country
rendered the last-named route the more favorable of
the two, and it was so regarded by the engineer and
the commissioners; but the influence of Washington
Borough again prevailed (as it had done seven years
before in causing President Jefferson to order an
examination of the route by way of the town), and
President Madison, after carefully considering the
commissioners' report on the survey, decided in favor
of the northern route by way of Washington. His
decision was communicated to the commissioners in a
letter written by Mr. Dallas, under direction of the
Secretary of the Treasury, as follows :

" Tre.\sury Dep.(rtjiest, June 2, 1816.

" Gentlemen, — The President has confirmed the
road surveyed and returned by you, — 1st, so far as
it runs from Cumberland through Uniontown to
Brownsville, in Pennsylvania, with certain devia-
tions which have been made by Mr. Sh river, the
superintendent, and approved by the President; and
2d, so far as it runs from the 113th mile on your
survey to Wheeling, on the river Ohio. He has also
determined that the route of the road shall run from
Brownsville through Washington and Alexandria to
intersect the course of your survey at the 113th mile,
continuing thence to Wheeling. I am therefore in-
structed by the President to request that you will
proceeil, as soon as you conveniently can, with the
:i-. - i>tanec authorized by law, to explore, lay out, and
repint for his consideration, upon the principles of
the act of the 2'.>tli of March, 1806, the course for the
road from Bro\vn>\ille to the 113th mile, as above
stated, and also the course of the deviations from the
original route proposed by the commissioners which
lia\'e been made or are contemplated to be made be-
tween Cumberland and Uniontown. It is the Presi-
dent's object to obtain a return of the entire course
of the road to constitute a record, and to perpetuate
the claim of the United States to the ground over
which it runs. To avoid delay the attendance of any
two or more of you is deemed sufficient for the pres-
ent object. You will be so good as to give notice to
:\ri-. Sliriver, the -nperinteiidcnt, of the time of your
entering upon the survey, and he will be instructed
to give you all the iiilonnation and assistance in his
power. As Mr. Parker ('ainpbell and Mr. [Thomas
H.] Baird, of Washiniilon, have made proposals to
construct the road Irom Brownsville to Washington,
I wish you also to notify them of your commence-
ment and progress in the survey.

" I am, very respectfully,
" Gentlemen,
" Your obedient servant,

" A. J. D.iLLAS.

" To Messrs. Eli Williams, ■)

Thomas Moore, !' Commhsianers."
Joseph Kerr, )



The one hundred and thirteenth mile of the com-
missioners' survey (meaning the route laid through
the southern part of Washington County, and not
that passing by Washington Borough) was near the
Virginia line, west of the village of West Alexan-
der' (mentioned in the above letter as "Alexandria").
Thus, by the decision of President Madison, as com-
municated by Mr. Dallas to the commissioners, the
entire route of the road from Cumberland to the Ohio
was fixed as to prominent points, and only lacked the
final survey of that part lying between Brownsville
and the point indicated west of West Alexander.
This final survey was made under direction of the
commissioners, immediately after receipt of their in-
structions to that eftect, and being returned to the
President, was by him approved and adopted.

The route of the road was divided for construction
into an eastern and a western division, the former
(which was to be first completed) extending from
Cumberland through Uniontown to a point about
one mile east of Brownsville, and the western division
extending from that point through the town of
Washington to the Ohio at Wheeling. The super-
intendent appointed for the eastern division was
David Shriver, of Cumberland, Md. The western
division was in June, 1816, placed in charge of Col.
Eli Williams, one of the commissioners, who acted as
"agent of the United States" for that division until
the appointment of Josias Thompson (previously en-
gineer of the division) as superintendent, in May, 1817.

The contract for building the road from Cumber-
land to Uniontown was awarded, as has been men-
tioned, to a number of contractors, by whom the work
was prosecuted with extraordinary energy. With re-
gard to the rapid building of the road by these con-
tractors, A. L. Littell, Esq., a former resident of Fay-
ette County, but now of Cleveland, Ohio, writes : " I
was there to see it located, and the stakes stuck down
the mountain, across the old commons south of Wood-
stock [afterwards Monroe], and so on west, before
there was a shovelful of earth displaced, and also to
see that great contractor, Mordecai Cochran, its
builder, with his immortal Irish brigade, a thousand
strong, with their carts, wheel-barrows, picks, shovels,
and blasting-tools, grading those commons and climb-
ing the long mountain-side up to Point Lookout, like
a well-trained army, and leaving behind them as
they went aroadway good enough for an emperor to
travel over." The firm of Kincaid & Co. (composed
of James Kincaid, James Beck, Gabriel Evans, John
Kennedy, and John Miller, the last two named being
residents of Uniontown) afterwards contracted with
Superintendent Shriver for the construction of the
road from Uniontown to the western end of the east-
ern division, and also for masonry at the Mononga-

1 The one hundred and thirteenth mile of the route, which was after-
wards surveyed, and over wliich the National road was actually huilt,
is about two miles east of West Alexander, the route through Washing-
ton Borough being considerably longer tliaii the other.

j hela (which was sub-let to George Dawson), and be-
tween that river and the town of Washington.
[ Through Washington County, from a point two
I miles west of the Monongahela and extending thence
to the Virginia line, the construction of the roadway
was contracted to Messrs. Thomas McGiffin, Thomas
H. Baird, and Parker Campbell, of the borough of
Washington ; the contract for that part extending
from a point two miles east of Washington westward
to the State line being awarded to them in March,

1817, by Col. Williams, as agent for the United States,
and the part extending eastward from the eastern end
of their first contract to within two miles of the Mo-
nongahela being let to them in 1819, by David Shriver,
who had superseded Josias Thompson as superintend-
entof the western division. A part of McGiffin, Baird,
and Campbell's contract, viz., all that part east of the
town of Hillsborough, in Washington County, was
turned over by them to William and John H. Ewing,
who were thereupon considered as distinct, original
contractors with the government.

The eastern portion of the road, on which work
was first commenced, was pushed so vigorously that it
was open for travel, with scarcely a break, westward to
the Youghiogheny River in the summer of 1817.
On the 1st of August in 1818 the first stage-coach
from Cumberland, carrying the United States mail for
the West, left that place by the National road, and
passing over the completed part of the eastern di-
vision to Fayette County, Pa., and also over other
j completed parts of the western division, between the
town of Washington and the Virginia line, arrived
in due time at Wheeling, on the Ohio. lu the Union-
town newspaper, the Omius of Liberty, of August 8,

1818, it was announced that " the stages have com-
menced running liom Frederick Town, JId., to Wheel-
ing, in Virginia, following the course of the National
road westward of Cuiiiberlaud. This ureat road,
truly an honor to the United States, will l.r finished
from Cumberland to this place in a lew hk.iuIis, and
from Brownsville to Wheeling, it is expuLled, in the
course of next summer, leaving only a distance of
twelve miles between Uniontown and Brownsville."

In the fall of the same year the road was announced
as completed to Uniontown, lli..ii-h some of the
heavy masonry east of the town was ikh at that time
finished. For some reason which is not wholly appar-
ent, the work had not been contracted for from Union-
town to the west end of the eastei-n division (a point

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 56 of 193)