Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 58 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 58 of 193)
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government at Washington, remembering the sympa-
thy of Louisiana and New Orleans with France as
the mother-country, with a lingering dread of a West-
ern and alien combination, resolved to quicken the
mail service in that direction. Proposals were adver-
tised for to carry a light express mail-pouch, carrying
short printed slips like telegrams, drafts, and paper
money, on horschaik thmu^'h daily each way on the
National road Ircni Wasliiiiirton to St. Louis, and
also from Dayton, < >hiii, to New Orleans, at the net
speed of ten miles an Lour, and stopping only at prin-
cipal oflSces. It was laid off in sections, and all the
sections were taken for a term of three years. The
section over the mountain from Cumberland to LTnion-
town. Pa., was awarded to me' at five thousand dol-

2 A. L. Liltell, E-i

3 "Robert S.Mrl.
tig along the Natii

■I A. L. Littell, foi

I 1848, and took r



lars a year. I associated with me my father-in-law,
William Morris, of Monroe, and we performed the
work very successfully in 1837 and 1838, when the i
war emergency was passed, and the service was dis-
continued, the government paying us eight hundred
:iiid thirty-three dollars extra for leave to quit. It re- ',
<|.iired a relay of nine horses on the road at once, and
three boy riders. One boy left Cumberland at two
o'clock in the morning, winter and summer, who rode |
three successive horses seven miles each, and so with
the other two boys, performing the sixty-three miles
in six hours and eighteen minutes. Going east they l
left Uniontown daily at one o'clock p.m., and rode the
same horses back, and there was no office on this |
route where the mail was opened. At that time this
express was the fastest overland mail in America, and
it excited as much public interest as the arrival of a
railroad train does now in a new town."

After the withdrawal of this express mail line of
mounted messengers there were put upon the road a
number of light mail-carriages to carry a through
mail on fast time, making as few stops as possible.
Tliese formed what was known along the road as the
" Monkey Box Line." Each carriage was furnished
with a secure box for the mail, sometimes in the
front and sometimes in the rear end, which was bal-
anced by the weight of three passengers (none beyond

that number being allowed to be taken), who paid an
extra rate of fare in consideration of the faster time
made, and the more comfortable accommodations
aflbrded by the " Monkey Box" than by the regular
mail-coach lines.

The passenger traffic over the route was ininiense
and constantly on the increase until the businos (if
the road received the death-blow by the opening of
railroads across the AUeghenies. The stage-lines
running when the road was surrendered to the States
were those of Stockton & Co. (Lucius W. Stockton,
of Uniontown, Daniel Moore, of Washington. I'n.,
and others) and J. E. Eeeside,' of Lancaster. The
mails were carried by Stockton & Co., who in 18;;t;
secured the coutiact fir four years to carry the great
AVestern mail over this road to Wheeling, at the speed
of four miles per hour, receiving for the service
$63,000 per year. There was for a time intense rivalry
between Reeside's " June Bug Line" and the " Peo-
ple's Line" of Stockton & Co. The competition be-
came so spirited that passengers were carried by both
lines at rates that were merely nominal. This was

continued for a considerable time, and until both
parties became nearly exhausted, when there came a
cessation of hostilities, a return to the old prices, and
a reorganization of the stage-lines, the Reeside line
becoming the " Good Intent" (in the proprietorship
of William Wurt, William Still, Alpheus Shriver,
and others), and the other the '' National Road" Line,
by Daniel Moore, L. W. Stockton, J. C. Acheson, and
Howard Kennedy. The former prices were re-estab-
lished and amity restored, as far as the proprietors of
the two lines were concerned, both occupying the
same offices at the two ends of the route. But at the
towns and stations along the road the passengers by
the two lines still dined and supped at different and
rival hotels, and the old feeling of animosity was kept
alive between the drivers and other subordinate ad-
herents of the " Good Intent" and " National Road"

Upon the completion of the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad as far west as Cumberland in 1844, the busi-
ness of the National road, great as it had previously
been, was very largely increased on account of the
easy eastern connection thus formed. During the
succeeding period of eight years it was frequently the
case that twenty-five stages, each containing its full
complement of nine inside and a number of outside
passengers, " pulled out" at the same time from
Wheeling, and the same was true of the eastern ter-
minus at Cumberland. As many as sixteen coaches,
fully laden with passengers, were sometimes seen in
close and continuous procession crossing the Monon-
gahela bridge between West Brownsville and Bridge-
port. The lines ran daily each way, and it was
sometimes the case that thirty stages, all fully loaded
witli passengers, stopped at one hotel in a single day.
The Monongahela Navigation Company completed
its slack-water improvements to Brownsville in 1844,
and from that time, during the season of navigation in
i;irh year, a large proportion of the passengers coming
liy >tage westward from Cumberland left the road at
tlie Monongahela and took passage by steamboat
down the river from Brownsville. In the year 1850
the stage-lines on the National road carried over

( eighteen thousand passengers to and from the Monon-
gahela River steamboats, and the number so carried
had been considerably larger than this in each of the

I three preceding years. But the glory of the great
thoroughfare was then nearing its final eclipse. An-
other year of prosperity succeeded, but from the
opening of the Pennsylvania Railroad to Pittsburgh

! in 1852, and the completion of the Baltimore and
Ohio line to Wheeling in December of the same year,
the business of the Cumberland road suddenly and
rapidly declined ; travelers to and from the West were
diverted to tlie new routes and easier mode of con-
veyance, and extra passenger-coaches were no longer
needed; finally, the Western mails were sent by the
other routes, and the stages were withdrawn from this,
the rumble of the broad-wheeled freight-wagons was



gradually silenced along the rock-laid road-bed, and
by rapid degrees the famous National highway lost
its importance and became, as it is to-day, merely an
avenue of local travel.

The only navigable waters of Fayette County are
the Monongahela and Youghiogheny Rivers, and,
in iiict, the latter stream can hardly be regarded as
navigable, or capable of being made so to any useful
extent. Both these streams were made highways on
the 15th of April, 1782, at which date the Assembly
of Pennsylvania enacted "That the said rivers, so
far up as they or either of them have been or can be
made navigable for rafts, boats, and canoes, and
within the bounds and limits of this State, shall be,
and they are hereby declared to be, public highways."
At the time when this was done there was in progress
an immense emigration to Kentucky and other South-
western regions bordering the Ohio, and as a conse-
quence the channel of the Monongahela might almost
have been said to be crowded with Kentucky boats,
keel-boats, flat-boats, and a multitude of every species
of river-craft, laden with the families, household
efi'ects, and merchandise of the emigrants (who em-
barked principally at Brownsville), and with produce
from various points, all bound for the lower river.
This kind of travel and transportation was kept up
and increased for many years, until the days of steam-
boating commenced, but it was constantly liable to
interruption and total suspension for months at a
time in the summer and autumn seasons when the
river was low and without the artificial means of
raising the water to a navigable stage by locks and

In 1814 the Assembly passed an act (approved
March 28th) which provided "That the Governor
be and he is hereby authorized to appoint three com-
petent and disinterested persons, citizens of this
commonwealth, one of whom shall be a practical sur-
veyor, to view and examine the river Monongahela
from the junction of said river with the Allegheny
River to the point where the southern boundary of
this State crosses said river ; whose duty it shall be to
repair to the borough of Pittsburgh, and to view and
examine the aforesaid river from the point herein-
before designated at the borough of Pittsburgh to the
point in the southern boundary aforesaid, and take the
courses and distances of the several meanders of the
said river between the points aforesaid, and also an ac-
curate observation and admeasurement of the distances
between the different ripples, and the elevation in feet
and parts of a foot of the said ripples progressively
above the horizon of Pittsburgh," and " That the
commissioners shall, as soon as may be, after they
shall have made the view and examination as afore-
said, present to the Governor at the next sitting of
the Legislature an accurate plan of the same, with
its several courses and distances, accompanied with

a written report of their proceedings, describing the
distances between and elevations of the difterent rip-
ples; also the number of dams' already made, and
the most suitable places for constructing other dams,
locks, works, or devices necessary to be made to render
said river navigable through the whole distance ;' and
shall make, according to the best of their knowledge
and judgment, an estimate of the probable expense
necessary for the purposes aforesaid."

The survey and examination of the river was not
made as contemplated by this act, and on the 11th of
March, 1815, another act was passed reviving that of
1814, and continuing it, with all its provisions, in
force for the term of three years from the passage of
the last act. Under this authority commissioners
were appointed, who made an examination of the
Monongahela, but nothing resulted from it in the
way of improvement of the navigation of the river
by the State.

In 1817 the Assembly passed an act (approved
March 24th of that year) " to authorize the Governor
to incorporate a company to make a lock navigation
on the river Monongahela," to bear the name and
style of " The President, Managers, and Company of
the Monongahela Navigation Company." The act
appointed Andrew Linn, Esq., and Hugh Ford, of
Freeport; James Tomlinson, Elisha Hunt, George
Dawson, William Hogg, Jacob Bowman, Basil Bra-
shear, Joseph Thornton, and Israel Miller, of Browns-
ville; James W. Nicholson and Thomas Williams,
Esq., of New Geneva (all the above of Fayette
County) ; Charles Bollman, Joel Butler, and James
P. Stewart, of Williamsport ( now Monongahela City) ;
Henry P. Pearson and Joseph Alexander, of Fred-
ericktown, in the county of Washington, with seven
gentlemen of Allegheny County and two of Greene
County, to be commissioners to open books for sub-
scriptions to t lie stock of the company at Pittsburgh and
other jxiiiils .Huiii; the river. The capital stock of the
company \v:is i,. lie seventy-eight thousand dollars, in
two thousand six hundred shares of thirty dollars each.
As soon as five hundred shares should be subscribed
the Governor was directed to issue the charter of the
company, and it was enacted " that as soon as a com-
pany shall have been incorporated by the Governor
to make a lock navigation on the Monongahela River,
he is hereby authorized and required to subscribe in


ning dams erected by



2 In"

A History of the Mon



V, prepared

by Hon

James Veecli in 1873

he says, ■■'It


of an in

provenientof tbena^

igationof 111.


, ,1

) iM.-ksand

dams w

Sinn r.i«.rt..f asnr

pymnde 1-


I,,!.. \-} J

1 Gay, civil


■, ill ISJ^;- II Mrllis

|..Hi;ill>:il.l- 1

lu.l^e Ve

ch (who was

an orig

■ |u. — iil yi..<


iliela Na

iRation Com-

pany) s

„,,M liair 1 11 iin;n

1 1

ill an act

of Assembly,

passed i

nisn.anthorized U<o



a company of precisely

the same name and style of the present on

, a

d having

the same ob-

ject,— t

e improvement of tli

river Iiy loci!


Idams; 1

id also of the

fact tha

as early as 18U an

ct was passed


1 anothei

in 181.=.) pro-


or a survey of the Mo

ongahela will

lew to its




behalf of this commonwealth for one thousand shares |
of the stock of said company at thirty dollars for each
share, to be paid upon warrants drawn by the Gov-
ernor on the State Treasurer in favor of the President 1
and Managers of said company." j

By the terms of the act of incorporation, the com- 1
[lany was rei|uircd, in making their improvements on j
the river, " t(j erect at Bogg's ripple a dam of the
height 111' three feet six inches; at Braddock's lower
ri]jple, a dam of the height of three I'erl six inches ;
at Braddock's upper ripple, a dam of the height of
three feet six inches; at Peter's Creek ripple, a dam
of the lieight of tour feet two inches; at Baldwin's
ripi'le, a dam "f the height of four feet three inches ;
at Frye's ripple, a dam of the heiglit of three feet ten
inches; at Forsyth's ripple a dam of ih.' lieight of
three feet eight inches; at lirownsville ripple, a dam
of the height of four feet six inches ; at Smith's rip-
ple, a dam of the lieight of four I'eet eight and a half
inches; at Heaton's ripple, a dam of the height of
four feet five inches; at Muddy Creek ripple, a dam
of the height of four feet five inches ; at Gilmore's
rii)ple, a dam of the height of three feet ten inches;
at Little Whitely ripple, a dam of the height of four
feet four inches; at Geneva ripple, a dam of the
height of three feet four inches; at Dunkard ripple,
a dam of the Ii.'ight of three feet six inches; and at
Cheat Kiver ripple, a dam ol' the li,-ight ol' three feet
three inches," with the privilege of raising any or
all the dams not to exceed six inches above the speci-
fied height, if it should be found necessary to do so.
The company were empowered " to form, make, erect,
and set up any dams, locks, or any other device what-
soever which they shall think most fit and convenient
to make a complete slack-water navigation bi'twecn
the points aforesaid (Pittsburgh and the State linei,
so as to admit a safe and easy i)assagi- for loailed
barges, boats, and other crafts up, as well as down,
said river;" and to use the water-])owcr created by
their dams for the propulsion of machinery, or to sell
or lease such water-power, but not so as to injure, im-
jicde, or interrujit navigation on the river. It was
prtjvided by the act "that as soon as the eight first-
named dams and locks shall be erec'teil and com-
pleted," and the Governor should have proper eviilence
that they had been so completed in a workmanlike
manner, he should thereupon issue his license or per-
mit to the company to collect tolls from boats passing
that part of the river. Owners of dams which had
been erected at certain points on the rivci- for mill
purposes prior to the passage of the act were reijiiircd
to raise such dams to the .specified lieight (if they
were not already up to it), and to keep them in re-
pair ; and for so doing they were empowered to col-
lect tolls from boats and other craft passing them.

The company was required, under penalty of a for-
feiture of their charter, to "proceed to carry on the
said work" within five years from the date of the act,
and to complete the slack-water navigation of the

first section — from Pittsburgh to the mouth of Dun-
lap's Creek — in seven years thereafter, and to com-
plete the second section — from Dunlap's Creek to the
mouth of Cheat River — in twenty-five years from the
passage of the act. These conditions were not com-
plied with, and forfeiture resulted in 1822. Beyond
this fact, nothing has been found to show what was
the extent of the operations of the old Monongahela
Navigation Company during its existence, except that
the books were opened in August, 1817 ; that the Gov-
ernor of Pennsylvania subscribed on behalf of the

; Commonwealth for one thousand shares of the stock
as required, subscriptions having previously been re-
ceived from individuals sufficient in amount to author-
ize the chartering and organization of the company
under the act. It is evident that the amount of its
cajiital stock, if fully subscribed and paid in, was in-
sufticient I'or the purposes intended, and that even if
the iirojectcil improvements had been completed, as
specified in the act, they would have been wholly in-
adequate to the requirements of navigation on the

I Monongahela.

In the spring of 1822, a few days after the expira-
tion of five years from the passage of the act author-
izing the Monongahela Navigation Company, an act
was passed by the Assembly (approved April 2d of the
year nainedi taking the improvement of the Monon-
galic'la into tlie lianils of the State, and providing
" That S(domon Krepps and Joseph Enochs, of Fay-
ette County, and William Leckey, of Pittsburgh, be
and they are hereby appointed commissioners, who
shall have power, and it shall be their duty, to cause
to he removcil all obstructions which impede or injure
the navigation of said river Monongahela, by making
a slope or inclined navigation from the Virginia State
line to its junction with the Allegheny River, and
said ini]iroveiiMiit to commence at the mouth of Dun-
lap's Cre.k, in layette County, and for that purpose
to ciiiplos -iiiiahle persons to perform said work ;"
and"'lliat ten thousand dollars of the stock subscribed
by the Governor on behalf of this Commonwealth in
the stock of the Monongahela Navigation Company
be and is hereby appropriated to defray the expenses
of removing the said obstructions. . . ."

By another section of the act it was provided and
declared " That this act shall not go into operation
until the Monongahela Navigation Company shall
have first settled all accounts of said company, and
have paid into the treasury of Fayette County all the
unexpended balance of money in their liands, if any
be due, for the purpose of being applied agreeably
to the provisions of this act, . . , and until the Mo-
nongahela Navigation Company shall also have re-
linquished their shares in the stock of said company,
as well those held by individuals as those held by
conqianics, which relinquishment shall have been cer-
tified and transmitted under the hand and seal of
the iiresident and managers of said company, or a
majority of them, to the Governor, stating that they


relinquish nil the rights, powers, and privileges in
and to the navigation of the river Monongahela vested
in them by an act passed the 24th of March, 1817,
entitled, ' An act to authorize the Governor to incor-
porate a company to make a lock navigation on the
river Monongahela,' and from thenceforth said com-
pany shall cease and determine as if the said act had
not been passed."

The persons appointed as viewers and commis-
sioners to examine the work done on the river by
the first-named commissioners, and to report to the
Governor whether or not, in their opinion, the
money granted by the State had been judiciously
expended, were Henry Heaton, of Fayette, John
Brownlee, of Washington, and John Walker, of Al-
legheny County. Nothing has been found show-
ing the nature and extent of the improvements
made by the commissioners under this act, or how
much the navigation of the Monongahela was bene-
fited by them, but it is evident that the expenditure
'of tlie small sum of ten thousand dollars on more
than ninety miles of river channel could not have
produced any very great results.

A supplement to the act of April 2, 1822, for the
improvement of the Monongahela by the State, was
passed and approved March 29, 1823. One of the
sections of this supplementary act provided that all
persons owning dams and locks on the Monongahela,
which were built or begun to be built, or raised to the
required height, in pursuance of the provisions (before
mentioned) of the act of 1817, authorizing the incor-
poration of the Navigation Company, might petition
the Governor, setting forth the facts, whereupon the
Governor was required to appoint three commissioners
to view such locks and dams, and upon their report
to the Governor that the improvements had been
constructed agreeably to the terms of the act, he was
(required to grant to the owners of such improvements
authority to collect tolls from all boats passing such
[locks and dams.

In 1828 a report was made to the Assembly of Penn-
'sylvania, giving the result of a survey of the river by
'E. F. Gay, and favoring its improvement by the State,
but nothing was done. In 1832 the late Hon. An-
idrew Stewart, of Fayette County, made an effort in
the Congress of the United States to have the work
done by the National government, as an extension,
I under the act of 1824, of the improvement of the nav-
[igation of the Ohio to the National road at Browns-
ville. Congress provided for a survey of the river to
Brownsville, which was made in 1833 by Dr. William
Howard, United States civil engineer. His plan was
to build locks and low dams, eight in number, of four
and a half feet lift, except that No. 1 would be six
feet, the object being to use them only when the river
[was low. Congress having declined to authorize the
I work, a public meeting held at Waynesburg, Greene
'Co., Nov. 18, 1835, recommended and urged the im-
provement by the State. The movement was at once

seconded by the citizens of Pittsburgh, Brownsville,
and intermediate places, and legislation was sought
and obtained.

The actual improvement of the Monongahela by
the formation of a practicable slack-water navigation
was finally accomplished by the Monongahela Navi-
gation Company (second of that name and style),
which was incorporated under an act of Assembly
approved March 31, 1836, with an authorized capital
of $300,000, in six thousand shares of $50 each, with
power "to increase the number of shares to such ex-
tent as shall be deemed sufficient to accomplish the

The persons appointed as commissioners to receive
subscriptions to the stock were Thomas H. Baird,
Aaron Kerr, Ephraim L. Blaine, William Briant,
Sheshbazzer Bentley, Andrew Gregg, John Bowers,
William Vankirk, Samuel Beatty, William Hopkins,
and James Gordon, of Washington County ; George
Dawson, Benedict Kimber, George Hogg, James L.
Bowman, Israel Miller, David Gilmore, E. P. Oli-
phant, Jeremiah Davison, Thomas Wilson, Tazewell
P. Martin, George Cramer, Yates S. Conwell, Thomas
Beatty, Aaron Bucher, John Harshe, Andrew Stew-
art, Samuel Evans, Isaac Crow, George Vance, James
C. Etington, Robert Brown, James C. Ramsey, David
B. Rhoads, William Everhart, Westley Frost, and
Samuel J. Krepps, of Fayette County ; and a number
of gentlemen of Greene and Allegheny Counties.
When two thousand shares were subscribed the com-
pany was entitled to a charter, and might organize in
not less than twenty days. Upon organization the
company was empowered "to form and make, erect
and set up any dams, locks, or any other device what-
soever which they shall think most fit and conveni-
ent to make a complete slack-water navigation be-
tween the ]i()ints hcrciii menliuiieil. to wit: the city
of Pittsbiiiuh an.l thr Vir-iiiia State line; and that
the dams Nvhieli tliey shall s(, cmiMnict for the pur-
pose of slack-water navigation shall not exceed in
height four feet six inches ; and tiiat (he locks for the
purposes of passing steamboats, barges, and other
craft up and down said river shall be of sufficient
width and length to admit a safe and easy passage for
steamboats, barges, and other craft, up as well as
down said river." This act, like that which was
passed for the creation of the old company in 1817,
authorized the company to use, lease, or sell the
walir-powci- from the dams, and conferred on the in-
dividual owiurs of dams previously built (if by tlicni

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 58 of 193)