Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 63 of 193)
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1780. And it is probable that many of the lots were
never taken, as it is found that a number of them
were afterwards sold by Henry Beeson to other par-
ties. Alexander McClean and several other allottees
did eventually receive deeds for the lots set against
their names on the plat, and Col. McClean afterwards
became owner of other lots, among them being No. 20,
on which he built his residence.

The terms and conditions on which the lots were
purchased are recited in many of the old deeds given
by Henry Beeson, as follows : " Whereas at the laying
out of the Original Town of Union the purchasers of
Lots were obliged to build on the lots so purchased a
good substantial dwelling House of the dimension of j
at least Twenty feet square, with a good chimney of
Brick or Stone well laid in with Slime and Sand, and
always keep the Same in good repair from time to 1
time, and moreover pay or cause to be paid to the said j
Henry Beeson, his Heirs Executors Administrators
or Assigns the Sum of one half of a Spanish Milled
Dollar or the value thereof in Current money of the
Commonwealth aforesaid for each and every Lot of
ground sold or purchased as aforesaid at the Town
of Union aforesaid in each and every year forever."
The purchasers also were required, and they agreed,
to observe " such Rules and Regulations as may at
any time hereafter be directed by Law or introduced '
by Lawful or Approved Custom for the Cleansing Re- '
pairing and Improving the Streets Alleys and Walks
in said Town for the health and convenience of the
inhabitants of said Town. And if at any time it shall
so happen that any part of the rents aforesaid shall be
behind and unpaid for the space of ninety days next
after any of the Days aforesaid appointed for payment
thereof, or any failure shall happen on the part of the ;
purchaser in any of the Covenants aforesaid : It shall j
and may be lawful for the said Henry Beeson and his
wife, their Heirs Executors Administrators or Assigns
of the Rents aforesaid into and upon the said Lot of
Ground and Premises or any part thereof in the name
of the whole to enter and distrain for the Rent or
Arrearages if any then due thereon and for want of
sufficient distress to satisfy for the said rent or arrear-
ages and the cost of distress the same to hold and
enjoy as fully and effectually as if these presents had
not been executed or any matter or thing relative
thereto had been done until said Rent and Arrearages

and Costs accrued by Reason of the distress be paid."
With regard to most of the lots the ground-rents were
afterwards commuted ' by the payment of a certain
fixed sum, eight dollars per lot ; but in some cases
the commutation was not paid, and ground-rents were
continued on a few lots as late as 1850.

The new " town" was very sparsely settled, and
remained in a very languishing condition for several
years, until about the close of the Revolution. Its
original name, " Beeson's Mill," was soon supplanted
by that of " Beeson's Town," by which it continued
to be known to some extent till about 1800. The
name Union Town, however, began to be used as
early as 1780, as is proved by its occurrence in de-
scriptions of land in deeds of that year.

The earliest deeds found recorded of lots in the
town of Union were made March 7, 1780, to John
Collins and Empson Brownfield. Collins' purchase
at that time embraced lots Nos. 23 and 40, at forty
shillings each. The former was on the south side of
Elbow Street, where J. K. Ewing's residence now
stands. He sold it, September 2d oj the same year, to
Michael Whitlock, blacksmith. Lot 40 was described
in Collins' deed as " being the same lott of ground
now occupied by the said John Collins." The adjoin-
ing lot (No. 41) was conveyed to him by deed dated
the following day, March 8th. On the last-named
day he also purchased of Beeson, for £50, a tract of
five acres, wijh the privilege of access to the mill-
race " for watering Cattle or other Creatures." Mr.
Jesse Beeson says he recollects when John Collins
lived in a log house south of the race, at the place
where Church and Morgantown Streets now join.
An old orchard stood in the rear of his house, not
far from the Presbyterian Church. This was, of
course, after Collins had retired from tavern-keeping,
and the place on which he then lived, as recollected
by Mr. Beeson, was without doubt the five-acre tract
above mentioned as purchased in March, 1780.

Empson Brownfield's purchase, made on the same
day with Collins', as mentioned above, was of lot No.
39, adjoining Collins' lot on the east, and the same
now occupied by Mrs. Dr. David Porter. Brownfield

' In the Western Tdegraph [then puWished at Washington, Pa.] of
May 17, 1796, is fonnd the following iidvevtisement of Mr. Beeson, an-
nouncing liis proposed abolition of the ground-rents, and the terms on
which it would be done, viz.:

"The Subscriber, considering tlie inconsistency under our equal and
republican goveromentof disposing of lands on which an annual ground

purt he will deposit


opened a tavern and store upon it, and continued
bntli as late as 1790. Afterwards a (log) school-
house was built on tlie lot, and was occupied as such
for many years.

Deeds bearing even date with those to Collins and
Brownfield (March?, 17S0) were made by Henry Bee-
son to John Kidd and Alexander McClean (jointly),
and to John Downer, of lands outside of but contigu-
ous to the village plat. Kidd and MeCIean's pur-
chase was of a small tract "adjoining the Town of
T'nion." The consideration was forty shillings, but 1
tlie land was "subject to an annual rent of one shil-
ling per acre forever, nitli the iirivilciie of sucli a
quantity of water as they may s;anil in nucd "f for
carrying on their distillery and malting business, with
access to and from the channel which is now made, j
. . ." The distillery erected on this land stood east |
of the old raceway, in what is now the roadway of
Penn Street.

Jolin Downer's purchase, referred to above, was of
"a tract of land adjoining the Town nf T'nion," lie-
ginning in the middle of the north eml ui l.i N.i. '.u,
"and having for its south line the ear-t liallof the
north line of lot No. 5il, and all of the line of lots 48
and 4'J, extending nortliward, embracing one and one-
quarter acres and fifteen perches." The consideration
was £.-.. On this lan.l Mr. Downer had pivviouslv
built a tannery. Tlnvand a lialt vai- latw M.t.
■2. 17S:j) hesold toCapt. .rame< XeaKlnMl,.. e..n-i.l-
eration of i^oOO, "one lot and a half, with all the
buildings, houses, outhouses, stables, and fences,
where the said John Downer now resides in Union
Town; also one acre andaquarter and liltrrn penhf<
of land, with a Tan Yard, which tlir -aid [)..wiier
liath <]eeu|iied a number of years." Tin- la-t was
the lot ..!■ land whirl, In/ had'bon-l.t ..I' ilcnrv Bee-
son in March,, and the tannery u|...n it was
evidently the lirst cnie erected in Unioutown. Near
to its site, on the south and east, have been tanneries
from that time to the present. John Downer was a
survevor who came to Uniontown from Wharton,
where his father had settled. After his sale to Capt.
James Neal he removed to Kentucky.

John Kidd purchased lot No. 35 on the Sth of
March, 1780. This lot now forms the west part of
the court-house grounds and the alley on the west of
them, it heing sold for that purpose by Henry Beeson
in 17s:!, when the public grounds were purchased.
From this it appears that Kidd had, after his pur-
chase, reconveyed or in some way relinquislied it to
Mr. Beeson.

In the same year of the purchases above mentioned,
John Collins bought of Beeson, a tract of about eight
acres of land "on Redstone Creek, nearly adjacent to
the town o{ Union, beginning on the east of the mill-
race. . . ." The price paid was £15, and the land was
also subject to an annual payment of one shilling for
every acre thereof, ground-rent, to commence the first
dav of November, in the year of our Lord 177(3;

which last clause is an indication that Collins had
really purchased the land in the year of the laying
out of the village, but had not secured his deed until
four years later. The tract was situated south of the
village plat and east of the old race, as mentioned in
the deed.

James McCullough, a blacksmith, purchased from
Henry Bee.son, Sept. 2, 1780, lot No. 28, situated on
the south side of Elbow Street, and in November of
the next year he purchased No. 27, joining his former
purchase on the east. For many years he had his
blacksmith-shop in operation on these lots. After-
wards the old Union Bank purchased the property,
and erected upon it the building wdiich is now the
depot of the Southwest Railroad.

Jonathan Rowland, a saddler by trade, was located
in Uniontown before 1783, and in that year com-
menced business as an inn-keeper. His later residence
was in the brick house erected by Joseph Huston,
the first brick dwelling built in Uniontown. It is
still standing, a little east of Dr. J. B. Ewing's resi-
lience, on the north side of Main Street. Rowland
wa- a iu>tiee of the peace in 1803, and held the office
till- niaiiy years.

In or about 1783, Jonathan Downer built a large
dnnlile big house on the north side of Peter Street,
in ilii-<liou,-c (ieii. EphraimDouglassbecame a boarder
with Mr. Iinwnir in 1784. At a later date a school
wa- lauulit in this house.

A deed to " Matthew Campbell, Inn-keeper," dated
Jan. 7, 1784, conveyed to him lot No. 10, on which
he had previously erected a log house for a tavern.
Tlii-i lot is the one on which the Fulton House now

.\aron Sackett, " taylor," located himself on lot
No. 7, and received a deed for it on the 17th of March,
17.S4, His lot was on the south side of Elbow Street,
nearly opposite the present residence of the Hon.
Daniel Kaine. In the spring of the same year John
Stitt, "breeches maker of Uniontown," sold nine
acres of land outside the village plat to James Bu- .
chanan, of Lancaster County, Pa., for sixteen pounds
fifteen shillings. It is certain that Stitt was pursuing
liis vocation in Uniontown in 1783, as in that year
a complaint was made against him to the court by
Alexander Morrison, his apprentice, for violation of
the terms of his indenture.

(_)n the 23d of July, 1784, Arthur McDonald sold
to Samuel Pounds and Jonathan Downer " my Tan
Yard, adjoining the mill of Henry Beeson, with all
the appurtenances thereunto belonging; also all the
Tan Bark now procured by nie for the use of the
yard." On the 5th of September in the next year
Jonathan Downer purcliased of Henry Beeson a lot
of land "situate near and' adjacent to the town of
Union, beginning at the northwest cin-ner of the
Mill House, northward and eastward to the verge of
the tale race ; then up the west side of the tale race to
the place of beginning." On this land a tannerv was



erected and vats were sunk, the beds of which can
still be located by depressions in the ground at that
place. The tannery was afterwards removed to the
opposite side of the street, where it is yet owned and
operated by the sons of Levi, a son of Jonathan

Peter Hook, some of whose descendants are still i
living in Uniontovvn, was a hatter, and located here [
in that business at least as early as 1781, as in that
year there is found a record of Thomas McKinley
being bound " an apprentice to Peter Hooke to learn i
the trade and mystery of hatting." On the 31st of
August, 1783, he (Hook) purchased, for the consider- |
ation of twelve pounds, Pennsylvania money, lot No. i
22 of the original plat (a part of the property on ;
which was built the residence of Judge Nathaniel
Ewing). He owned the property as late as the year
1813, and there is found in the Genius of Liberty of
January 28th in that year his advertisement, — "To
let, the house and lot now occupied as a tavern by
Jacob Harbaugh, situate in the borough of Union,
nearly opposite the Court House." Pie also at the j
same time advertised for sale "a Set of Hatter's I

Colin Campbell, mentioned as a " teacher," pur-
chased lot No. 43 on the 15th of JIarch, 1784. He
occupied and kept tavern on that lot five years later.
He sold it to Samuel Salter.

In or about the year 1784, Henry Beeson's old mill
was abandoned, and its machinery removed to a new !
building which had been erected for it, and which is
still standing, on the north side of Main Street, a
short distance east of where that street crosses Camp-
bell's (or Beeson's) Run. A principal reason for this
removal is said to have been that the loose and porous
nature of the soil through which the old canal was
cut, near the brow of the slope south of the mill,
caused a great leakage of water, which it was found
impossible to remedy. It is probable, however, that
there were also other reasons for the change which are
not understood at the present day. The removal of
the mill of course caused the abandonment of the old
raceway, and a new one was constructed, starting from
Bedstone Creek at the mouth of Spring Run (which
flows from the old mansion house of Henry Beeson,
now occupied by Andrew Diitton), and running
northwestwardly to an alley in the rear of the present
residence of Dr. Smith Fuller; thence a little more
northwardly across the line of Fayette Street, and by
the lot of the Presbyterian Church, to and across
Church Street, then more westwardly along the north

1 The tannery propei-ty sold (as before mentioned) by John Downei
to Capt. James Neal in October, 1783, was evidently pnrchased aftei-'
wards by Henry Bi-eson, for he, on the :)Otli of 3t:iy, ns7, conveyed tlis
same property (one and one-fourth acres .mi ii i • i, i ;> !i.^, the sani€
amount sold by John Downer to Neal) to .1' I i I' nutheStl]

of June, 1793, a new deed was made by In-i- i i I i-. titigar

error in the deed of 1783, and conveying t- Ii .« ,, ; m ,1 piocf

of land on the west side of the former port Iijisl'.

side of that street to and across Morgan town Street
at the intersection of South Street, and from that
point, in nearly the same course, across Arch and Main
Streets to the mill, the tail-race discharging the
water into Campbell's Run, which joins the main
stream of the Redstone a short distance below. This
raceway, now arched for a considerable distance be-
tween Main and Morgantown Streets, is still in use,
after nearly a century of service.

A description of Uniontown as it was in the begin-
ning of 1784 (a short time after the organization of
the county of Fayette) is found in the following
letter, written by Ephraim Douglass to Gen. James
Irvine, viz. :
" My dear General :

" If my promise were not engaged to write to you,
my inclinations are sufliciently so to embrace with
alacrity any opportunity of expressing the gratitude
so justly due to your valuable friendship, of declaring
the sincerity of mine.

"This Uniontown is the most obscure spot on the
face of the globe. I have been here seven or eight
weeks without one opportunity of writing to the land
of the living, and, though considerably south of you,
so cold that a person not knowing the latitude would
conclude we were placed near one of the poles.
Pray, have you had a severe winter below ? We have
been frozen up here for more than a month past, but
a great many of us having been bred in another State,
the eating of Homany is as natural to us as the drink-
ing of whisky in the morning.

" The town and its appurtenances consist of our
president and a lovely little family, a court-house and
school-house in one, a mill, and consequently a miller,
four tavern-, tlinc -iiiitli -^liops. live retail shops, two
tan-yanls,- <.iir ni ilii^iu ,,iil\' i.ccui.icd, one saddler's
shop, two luitlers' >li(i]i.s, .uiu iiiaxui, one cake-woman
(we had two, but one of them having committed a petit
larceny is upon banishment), two widows, and some
reputed maids, to which ur.iy lie added a distillery.
The upper part of this ,,,lir„-,. i, il„. hal.italio.i at will
of your liuiiiblo servant, who, 1,( -idc tin- smoke of his
own chimney, which is intolerable enough, is fumi-
gated by that of two stills below, exclusive of the other
effluvia that arises from the dirty vessels in which
they prepare the materials for the stills. The upper
floor of my parlour, which is also my chamber and
office, is laid with loose clapboards or puncheons, and
both the gable ends entirely open ; and yet this is
the best place in my power to procure till the weather
will permit me to build, and even this I am subject to
be turned out of the moment the owner, who is at
Kentuck, and hourly expected, returns.

t.) were those of Capt James Neal (piir-
ner in 1783) and of Arthur McPonald,
Pounds and .louatban Downer in 1784.
louglass was that of John Kidd, with



" I can say little of the country in general but that
it is very poor in everything but its soil, which is ex-
cellent, and that part contiguous to the town is really
beautiful, being level and prettily situate, accommo-
dated with good water and excellent meadow-ground.
But money we have not, nor any practicable way of
making it ; how taxes will be collected, debts paid, or
fees discharged I know not ; and yet the good people
appear willing enough to run in debt and go to law.
I shnll be able to give you a better account of this

"Col. Maclean received me with a degree of gen-
erous friendship that does honor to the goodness of
his heart, and continues to show every mark of satis-
faction at my appointment.' He is determined to act
under the commission sent him by Council,- and
though the fees would, had he declined it, have been
a considerable addition to my profits, I cannot say
that I regret his keeping them. He has a numerous
small family, and though of an ample fortune in
lands, has not cash at command. . . .

" The general curse of the country, disunion, rages
in this little mud-hole with as if they had each
pursuits of the utmost importance, and the most op-
posed to each other, when in truth they have no pur-
suits at all that deserve the name, except that of ob-
taining food and whisky, for raiment they scarcely
use any. . . . The commissioners — trustees, I should
say — having fixed on a spot in one end of the town
for the public buildings, which was by far the most
proper in every point of view, exclusive of the saving
expense, the other end took the alarm and charged
them with partiality, and have been ever since utter-
ing their complaints. And at the late election for
justices, two having been carried in this end of the
town and none in the other, has made them quite
outrageous. This trash is not worth troubling you
with, therefore I beg your pardon, and am, with un-
feigned esteem, dear general,

'' Your very humble servant,


This letter was written between the 6th and the 11th
of Fel)ruary, ITS!, a few months after the erection of
tlie county and lu-f.jre it was fully organized. Gen.
Douglass nieiitiniis tlir ti'iii|iorary court-house (which
liad then l)een used hut once for that purpose, viz. :
at the session of the i)revious December), but he says
nothing about a jail. Soon after that time, however,
and during the spring or summer of the same year, a
log building that stood on the rear of the lot now oc-
cupied by the residence of the Hon. Daniel Kaine
was made into a temporary prison, and was occupied
as such for three years, and until the erection of a
stone jail on the site of the present one.

> The appointment of prothonutaiy of Fayette County, which he re-
ceiveii in October, 1783.

2 Col. Alexander McClean was appointed recorder of deeds Dec. G, i;s.1.
He received the appointment of justice of the p«ace for Fayette County,
March HI, 17S4.

Alexander McClean, the veteran surveyor, and the
man who was probably the most widely known of any
in Fayette County for a period of more than fifty
years, moved into Uniontown in 1783, and soon after-
wards became possessor of lot No. 20 on the original
|)lat, the same on which the Clinton House now
stands. On this lot he built a two-story log house,
which was by far the most pretentious dwelling in
the village. It had a covered balcony at the upper
windows on the west end, and the interior was
finished with paneled work, carved cornices, and
some other ornamentation unusual in houses of that
day west of the Alleghenies. In this house he lived
until his death in 1834, about half a century after
its erection. The property was then purchased by
the Hon. Andrew Stewart, who built on it the brick
residence in which he lived for many years, and
which is now the Clinton House.

On the east of Mr. McClean's residence, and on the
same side of Elbow Street, he purchased (Dec. 31, 1798)
lots Nos. 17, 18, and 19. On the last named, adjoin-
ing his homestead lot, he built the log house which is
still standing on its original site. This house and lot
he gave to his daughter Elizabeth at the time of her
marriage to Thomas Hadden, who made this his resi-
dence during the remainder of his life. He (Had-
den) built, next east of his log house, the brick build-
ing which he used as an oflice, and which is now the
residence of his two daughters, Sally and Elizabeth.

In 1809 (November IGth), Mr. McClean sold parts
of lots 18 and 19^ to John Withrow, a wagon-maker,
who had his shop on the front of the lots and his
dwelling farther in the rear. He was elected sheriff
of the county in 1817. In 1813 he sold his lots to
Ann Stevens. She, on the 25th of December, 1820,
sold them to John M. Austin, who erected the brick
house which is now the residence of the Hon. Daniel
Kaine. East of Withrow's wagon-shop, on the same
side of the street, was Lewis Williams' wagon-shop,
standing on the lot where Mrs. E. D. Roddy now
lives. Still farther east was another blacksmitli-shop,
owned and carried on by John P. Sturgis.

(Jn the south side of Elbow Street, eastward from
Piper's " Jolly Irishman" tavern (which was nearly
i opposite where Mr. Kaine now lives). Gen. Ephraim
Douglass owned the lots as far as Redstone Creek.
On the site where Mr. Cochran's residence now stands
he built a brick house, in which he dispensed a gen-
erous hospitality that made it a favorite visiting-place
for young and old. This house, in which he lived
during nearly all the remainder of his life, was de-
stroyed by fire about fifteen years ago. After tlie

^ III the sale of the lots east of his residence, Mr. McClean provided
for an alley twelve feet wide, mnniui; from Elbow Street, on the east
side of lot No. 17, north' one hundred and fifty feet from the Main
Street, and thence extending westward, parallel with Elbow Street, in
the rear of his four lota. This is the alley which is still kept open as a
thoroughfare in the rear of Mr. Kaine's residence and the Clinton
House, ami between the couil-lioiiae aud jail.


death of Gen. Douglass, Mary Lyon, whose history
is well known to many of the older citizens of Union-
town, lived in a log house east of the Cumberland
Presbyterian Church. It is supposed that one (and
perhaps the principal one) of the "five retail shops"
mentioned in Gen. Douglass' letter was that of Jacob
Beeson, who, as tradition says, established himself as
ii merchant in Uniontown in 1783. His ledger marked
"J" (which leads to the supposition that it was the
ninth or tenth book used by him in his business) is
still in existence, and commences in the year 1808,
containing accounts of two years' transactions. He
was succeeded in business by his son William, whose
brother Isaac became first his clerk and afterwards
his successor. His (Isaac's) sons, William and J. K.
Beeson, still continue the business. The store which
they occupy was built by their father, but the precise
date of its erection is not known.

Very few settlements (if any besides that of Henry
Beeson, where he built his first house in 1768) had
been made within the limits of the present borough,
west of Morgantown Street, prior to 1784. On the
12th of March in that year, Henry Beeson sold to
Jacob Beeson, for the consideration of £100, Penn-
sylvania money, all his title and interest to and in
the " Stone Coal Run" tract, which had been sur-
veyed to him on warrant No. 3455, on the 27th of
September, 1769, as before noticed. But it is evident
that this sale by Henry to Jacob Beeson was soon
afterwards modified (though no record to that effect

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 63 of 193)