Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 82 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 82 of 193)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

retired from business as a manufacturer, selling the
foundry to one of his earliest apprentices and faithful
co-workers, Mr. Thomas Jaquett.

Since then Mr. Robinson has been engaged in
various business pursuits. In 1872 he came into pos-
session as sole owner under a private charter of the
gas-works by which Uniontown is lighted. He also
controls as principal owner the gas-works of Middle-
town, Dauphin County.

Mr. Eobinson was one of the original board of di-
rectors of the First National Bank of Uniontown,
and remained a director till within a i\'w years past.
He has ever generously contributed to the upbuilding
or support of such institutions in the places of his
residence as commanded his respect, taking no ex-
treme partisan cause, however, either in politics or
religion, enjoying the esteem of his neighbors and the
business public as a man of sterling integrity as well
as clear judgment, genial sociability, and humane

July 12, IS?.", Mr. Robinson united in marriage
with Miss Cornelia Wells, of York, N. Y., who died
in 1S4'), having liornc him four children, one only
of whom, Mrs. Enuna R. King, now (1S82) survives.
On Nov. 6, ISIG, Mr. Robinson married again, being
then united to Miss Mary Ann McClelland, of Union-
town, who died in September, 1850, leaving no chil-
dren. Mr. Robinson married as his third wife, Nov.
24, 1852, Mrs. Elizabeth J. Porter, daughter of James
Wilson, Esq., of German township, with whom he
lived twenty-nine years, she dying in May, 1881, at
the age of sixty-eight years, leaving two children, —
Mr. W. L. Robinson, who has mainly succeeded to
his lather's business, managing the gas-works, etc.,
and Miss Mary E. Robinson.

Alexander McClean, the most famous land surveyor
of Southwestern Pennsylvania, who passed more than
tiftyfive years of his life as a resident of Uniontown,
and who held the offices of register and recorder of
Fayette County for more than half a century, was
born in York County, Pa., Nov. 20, 1746, being the
youngest of seven brothers, the six others of whom
were Moses, Archibald, William, Samuel, John, and
James. All of them became surveyors, and Archi-
bald (the eldest), Moses, Samuel, and Alexander were
employed with the celebrated " London arti.sts," Ma-
son and Dixon, in running the historic line between

Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, in 1766-67,
Alexander being then less than twenty-one years of
age, and acting as an assistant to his elder brothers, of
whom Archibald was the chief in the business.

The opening of the Land Office, April 3, 1769, for
the locating of lands in the then "New Purchase,'
gave employment to a great number of surveyors,
and among them was Alexander McClean. It >
for the prosecution of this business that he first moved
across the mountains, making his location at the
Stony Creek Glades, in the present county of Somer-
set; but being then unmarried he changed his tem-
porary residence from time to time as required by
the location of the work on which he was engaged.
At first he was but an assistant to his brothers, who
were deputy surveyors, but after a time he was hi
self appointed to that office, the first survey found
recorded as executed by him in the cajiacity of
deputy surveyor within the present boundaries of
Fayette County being dated in the year 1772. In
1775 he was married at the Stony Creek Glades, near
Stoystown, to Sarah Holmes, and in the following
spring he moved with his wife to what was then West-
moreland County (afterwards Fayette), and located at
or near where his brothers James and Samuel had
previously settled, in what is now North Union town-
ship, some three miles from where Henry Beeson was
then preparing to lay out the town which was tl
nucleus of the present borough of Uniontown. It
was doubtless the knowledge which he obtained of
this region while engaged in surveying that induced
him to settle west of the Laurel Hill soon after
marriage. He remained at his first location in the
present North LTnion township for about three years,
and in 1779 removed to Uniontown, which from that
time was his place of residence till his death.

In the first Assembly of the State of Pennsylvania,
in 1776, Alexander McClean was one of the members
from Westmoreland County. In September of the
same year he was one of the justices of the peace I
Westmoreland, appointed by the Revolutionary State
Convention. He was also a member of Assembly for
1782-83, being elected for the purpose of procuring
the passage of the act erecting Fayette County, which
was accomplished in the latter year. He had early
foreseen the probability of the erection of a new
county from this part of Westmoreland, and had (it
is said) urged Henry Beeson to lay out his town (now
Uniontown), in the belief that it would be made the
seat of justice of the new county, the erection of
which he predicted.

In 1782 he w;ls appointed sub-lieutenant of West-
moreland County, in place of Edward Cook, who had
been promoted to lieutenant to succeed Col. Arcl
bald Lochry, who was murdered by the Indians on;
the Ohio in the previous year. By his appointmcnti
as sub-lieutenant of the county Mr. McClean obtainedj
the title of colonel, by which he was ever after-
wards known.

cyji {/-(oi^ a/i^


During the Revolution, from 1776 to 1784, there
were no entries of land made at the Land Office, and
consequently there ivas no work for deputy surveyors.
But in 1781 Col. McClean was appointed by the
Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania chief
surveyor for this State (to act in conjunction with
a similar officer on behalf of Virginia) to run the
temporary line between the two States, as agreed
on in 1779. After many delays and vexatious dis-
appointments in the execution of this Avork it was
finally completed by Col. McClean and Joseph Nev-
ille, of Virginia, in the winter of 1782-83. The pay
established by the Council at the commencement of
the work was twenty shillings (S2.66) per day and
expenses, but afterwards that body resolved that,
"taking into consideration the trouble Mr. McClean
has had in running said line, and the accuracy with
which the same hath been done, he be allowed thirty-
five shillings ($4.67) per day." This resolution of
Council established the price which Col. McClean
always afterwards charged for his services as sur-

Upon the erection of Fayette County in 1783, Col.
McClean made application for the appointment of
protlionotary and clerk of the courts of the county,
but the office was secured by Ephraim Douglass.
Col. McClean was, however, appointed (Oct. 31,1783)
by the Council to be presiding justice of the Court of
Common Pleas and Orphans' Court. He filled that
office until April, 178!), when he was succeeded by
Col. Edward Cook. On the 6th of December, 1783,
he was appointed to the offices of register and re-
corder of Fayette County, and held those offices con-
|tinuously through all the political changes and vicis-
situdes of a period of more than half a century until
I his death in 1834.

[ Col. McClean was a quiet, unobtrusive man, de-
voted to the duties of his office, and caring for little
else than to discharge them with diligence, accuracy,
[and fidelity. He held office longer — from 1772 to
[1834 — than any other man wlio has ever resided in
[Western Pennsylvania. He waa an expert and ele-
gant penman, as will readily be admitted by any per-
|son who examines the multitudinous pages of his
I work, which may be seen in the court-house at
I Uniontown, beautiful as copper-plate, and as clear
[and distinct as when they were written, ninety years
'ago. As register, recorder, and surveyor for more
than half a century he had been conversant with
jail the estates, titles, and lands of the county, with
j all their vacancies, defects, and modes of settlement;
I yet with all these opportunities of acquiring wealth
I he died in comparative poverty, a sad monument to
j his integrity. He wrote more deeds and wills at
1 seven and sixpence each (one dollar) and dispensed
j more gratuitous counsel in ordinary legal affairs than
j at reasonable fees would enrich a modern scrivener
j or counselor. He died in Uniontown, Jan. 7, 1834.
I The date has usuallv been given as December 7th of

that year, but that this is a mistake is shown by an
entry on the court record as follows :

" Jan'y S, IS.S4. — At the meeting of the court lliis morning
Mr. Austin roeo and informed tiie couit of the death of Col.
Ale.\nnder McCioan, which took place last night. After a few
remarlis, in which Mr. Austin alluded in terms of deserved
eulogy to the high character which the deceased sustained as
an officer and a man, and in general in all the social relations,
he moved the following resolution, viz. : That when the court
adjourns, it adjourns to meet at four o'clock p.m., in order to
give the court and bar, grand and traverse jurors, and others
attending on the court an opportunity of attending the funeral,
which was adopted and ordered accordingly."

Col. McClean had ten children, viz.: Ann, born
Sept. 7, 1776; Joieph, Nov. 17, 1777; Elizabeth,
March 27, 1779; William, March 14, 1780; Alex-
ander, Sept. 17, 1782; Ephraim, July 23, 1784; Ste-
phen, vSept. 23, 1786; John, Feb. 23, 1788; Richard,
May 17, 1790; Moses, July 25, 1793. All the sons
settled on lands owned by their father. The eldest
daughter, Ann, married John Ward, and settled in
Steubenville, Ohio. Elizabeth married Thomas Had-
den, a well-remembered lawyer of Uniontown.


Andrew Stewart, one of the most distinguished
public men of Fayette County (which was always his
home from birth to death), was the son of Abraham
Stewart and Mary Oliphant, who were both natives
of the eastern part of Pennsylvania (he of York,
and she of Chester County), and who both emigrated
while young to Fayette County, where they were
married in 1789. They raised a family of children,
of whom the eldest was Andrew, who was born June
11, 1791, in German township. At an early age he
became self-dependent; till eighteen he worked on a
farm and taught a country school, afterwards, to
pay his way while going to school and reading law,
he adted as a scrivener and as clerk at a furnace. In
his twenty-fourth year he was admitted to the bar
(January, 1815), and in the same year elected to
the Legislature ; was re-elected for three years, and
when a candidate for the Senate, without opposition.
President Monroe tendered hiiu the appointment of
district attorney for the United States, which, pre-
ferring to a seat in the Senate, he accepted, but re-
signed it after his election to Congress in 1820, where
he served eighteen years out of a period of thirty. He
served in the 17th, 20th, 22d, 23d, 26th, 27th, 28th,
29th, and 30th Congresses, going in and going out
with the Hon. Thomas H. Benton.

In 1848, when Mr. Stewart was a candidate for the
Vice-Presidency, he declined a nomination for Con-
gress, and in the convention in Philadelphia, after the
nomination of President Taylor, it was left to the
Pennsylvania delegation to nominate a candidate for
Vice-President, who, after having retired to agree
upon a nominee, upon the first ballot Mr. Stewart



had fourteen out of twenty-six, the remaining twelve
voting for Mr. McKennan and several others, when,
without taking a second ballot to make it unanimous,
the chairman of the delegation hurried back into the
convention and reported that they had foiled to agree,
wliereupon Mr. Fillmore was nominated and con-
firmed, as was stated and published at the time with-
out contraldiction.

On the accession of Gen. Taylor to the Presi-
dency, the Pennsylvania delegation in Congress rec-
ommended Mr. Stewart for Secretary of the Treas-
ury ; but being at the time confined to a sick-bed,
he declined the appointment; and it maybe stated
as a remarkable fact, true of no other man living or
dead, that Mr. Stewart served in Congress with every
President before Gen. Grant, except the first five,
and Taylor, who was never in Congress.

AVhile in Congress Mr. Stewart served on several
of the most important committees, among them as
chairman of the Committee on the Tariff and the
Committee of Internal Improvements, constituting
together, what was well called by Mr. Clay, " The
American System," in the advocacy of which Mr.
Stewart commenced and ended his political life.
This system, he always contended, lay at the founda-
tion of the national prosperity, the one protecting the
national industry, and the other developing the na-
tional resources. He called it the " ].iolitical ther-
mometer,'" which always had and always would indi-
cate the rise and fall of the national prosperity.

Mr. Stewart belonged to the D.nnocratic party up
to 1828, when the party, at the dictation of the South,
under the lead of Van Buren, Buchanan, and others,
gave up the tariff and internal improvements for office;
here Mr. Stewart took an independent stand. He
said he would stand by his measures, going with those
w!io went for and against those who went against
them. He came home in the midst of the excited
contest between Jackson and Adams for the Presi-
dency in 1828, when his constituents were know'n to
be more than two to one for Jackson, and iu a public
speech declared his intention " to vote for Adams,
whose friends supported his measures, while the Dem-
ocratic iiarty, as such, opposed them. If for this they
chose to turn him out, so be it, he would never sur-
render his principles for office. If he did he would
be a political hypocrite, unworthy the support of any
honest man ; he would rather go out endeavoring to
sujiport what, in his conscience, he lielieved to be the
true iuterests of his constituents and his country than
to go in bv meanlv betraying them."

The Democrats took up Mr. Hawkins, of Greene .
County, then Speaker of the Senate, and used every i
means to exasperate the Jackson men against Mr. J
Stewart ; yet, with all their efforts, although Jackson
had a majority of two thousand eight hundred— more j]
than two votes to one — in his district, Mr. Stewart was
elected over the Jackson candidate by a majority of i
two hundred and thirty-five, — a result unprecedented, i
showing a degree of personal popularity on the one ,j
side, and of magnanimity and forbearance on the
other, without a parallel in the history of elections, j
Mr. Stewart was afterwards re-elected for four terms, J
when he peremptorily declined a renomination.

At the age of thirty-four Mr. Stewart married thei
daughter .of David Shriver, of Cumberland, Md., and'
raised a family of six children, who are all living e.x-
cept I>ieutenant-Commander William F. Stewart,
U.S.N., who was lost on the U. S. S. " Oneida," on the
24th of January, 1870, being at the time executi
officer of the ship, and one of the most promising
officers of his age in the service, so pronounced
letters of condolence after his death by all of the
officers under whom he had served. His last heroic
words on being urged to take the boat as the ship was
going down were, " No ! let others take the boat, my
duty is on board my ship," and he went down with

Mr. Stewart carried into private life the same devo-
tion to these measures that distinguished him while
in the public service, and until the time of his death
he was found among the foremost in advocating rail-
road improvements which will in the near future
make his native county one of the richest and most
prosperous in the State. To show his constant zeal
and restless activity in the cause of domestic industry
and home manufactures, it may be stated that he
erected a blast-furnace, rebuilt a glass-works, built
eleven saw-mills, four flouring-mills, planing-mills,
etc., besides more than two hundred tenant and other
houses ; he bought and sold over eighty thousand
acres of land, and hajl'lsetween thirty thousand and
forty thousand acral^Jlill left at his 'death, much of it
in the West; and xh twenty-one years of the prime
of his life were "devoted to the services of his country
in her State and national Legislatures.

Mr. Stewart died in Uniontown, July 1(5, 1872,
in his eighty-second year. His sons, Col. Andrew
Stewart and D. Shriver Stewart, reside in Stewart
township, which was so named in honor of their il
trious father, and where they have large landed in-
terests whicli belonged to his estate.


The borough of Coiinellsville, the largest town in
population in the county of Fayette, is situated op-
posite the borough of New Haven, on the right or
eastern bank of the Youghiogheny ; its territory,
however, extending across the river to low-water mark
on the western side, which low-water mark forms its
western boundary. On the north, east, and south it
is bounded by Connellsville township. Connellsville
borough is not only the centre of the vast coke and
coal interests of this region, but is also the most im-
portant railway point in Fayette County, having
connection with Pittsburgh and Uniontown by two
lines, the Southwest Pennsylvania and the Baltimore
and Oliio, and eastward by the same lines, over the
Baltimore and Ohio to Cumberland and Baltimore,
and over the Southwest and Pennsylvania roads to
Greensburg, Altoona, Harrisburg, and Philadelphia.
Both the Southwest Pennsylvania and the Union-
town Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio road cross
the Youghiogheny at this point. The population of
the borough by the census of 1880 was: in the East
Ward, 1926; in the West Ward, 1689; total, 3615.

The first settler within the limits of the present
borough of Connellsville was William McCormick,
who came here from near Winchester, Va., about the
year 1770. He had a number of pack-horses, and
with them was engaged in the transportation of salt,
iron, and other goods from Cumberland, Md., to the
Youghiogheny and Monongahela Eivers. His wife
was Effie Crawford, a daughter of Col. William Craw-
ford, who had settled on the left bank of the Youghio-
gheny near the northern boundary of the present
borough of New Haven. McCormick settled on the
other side of the river,' directly opposite the house of
his father-in-law. His first residence there was a log
house, which he built on the river-bank. It is still
standing on land owned by the Pittsburgh and Con-
nellsville Railroad Company. In this he lived many
years, and then removed to a double cabin which he
built on the site below the stone house on the David-
son farm. Afterwards he built a large log house

1 Two tracis of land, one caned ■' Stafford," and the other "Eicli PlaiD,"
located where McCormick settled, were warranted to William Crawford,
but soon afterwards liecame the property of William McCormick, and
■were patented to him May 28, 1795. A saw-mill was erected hy him on
these premises. An agreement was made by McCormick (April 10, 17U4)
to sell a part of these tl-.icts to John Glhson for fJo2, and on the 7lh of
December, 1796, the property was deeded by BlcCormick to Gibson.

where is now the .stone house built by John Boyd,
who purchased the McCormick property in 1831.

William McCormick died in 1816, aged about sev-
enty-four years. He had eleven children, four of
whom removed to Adams County, Ohio, and two to
Indiana. Pro van ce McCormick, a grandson of Wil-
liam, now the oldest living native of Connellsville,
was born in the above-mentioned double cabin of his
grandfather, July 29, 1799. He learned two trades,
shoemaker and carpenter. He married about 1818,
and for two years lived on his grandfather's place.
In 1825 he bought an acre of land, and built on it the
house now owned by William White. In this he lived
till 1853. He was elected justice of the peace, and
later associate judge of Fayette County for one term.
For the past ten years he has held the oflice of justice
of the peace in Connellsville. Two sons, George and
Joseph T., and two daughters are residents of Con-

Zachariah Connell, the founder of the town of Con-
nellsville, came here a few years later than the settle-
ment of William McCormick, whose brother-in-law
he was, having married Mrs. McCormick's sister, Ann
Crawford. He came to this section of country soon
after 1770, and stopped at the house of his future
father-in-law, Capt. (afterwards Colonel) William
Crawford. After his marriage, which was probably
in 1773,''' he lived for some tinu' mi the wist side of
the river, but afterwards, at a tiiui' whirii cannot be
exactly fixed (between 1773 and 177SJ, moved to the
east side of the stream and located on a tract of land
which was designated in his warrant of survey' as
" Mud Island," which included the present site of the
borough of Connellsville. He built his log cabin
facing the river, on or very near the spot where the
Trans-Allegheny House now stands, on Water Street.
There he lived for many years, until he removed to the
stone house which he had built at the corner of Grave
Street and Hill Alley. After the death of his wife,
Ann Crawford, he married a Miss Wallace, a sister
of "Aunt Jenny" Wallace, who was long and well

nent list for the year 177-2 of Ty

iwnship, Bedford
is now Fayette County,
present townships of Ty-
ctent of contiguous terri-
in tlie list of " Inmates,"



known in li\ter years as the keeper of tlie toll-bridge
across the Yoiighiogheny River. The later years of
Mr. Connell'.s life were devoted to the care of his real
estate.' He became an ardent Methodist, and donated
the lot on wliich the churcli oi' that denomination was
built. He died in his stone house on Grave Street,
Aug. i(J, ISl.'l, :iged seventy-two years, and was buried
near the rc^idi mc dl .Iiilm Fr(Hnian, where his re-
mains still rr>l ih;ii- th f liis two wives, and wliere

a broken slab> the last r.-^tii.u-i.lar,. ,,|' the
founder of Connellsville. By lijs IliM wile Mr. Con-
nell was the father of four elnMi-n. •.! whom two
were sons,— Hiram and .lohn. Tla- U.ruwr lived and
died in Connellsville. the hnt.r removed tn the West.
Of the two daiii;lilers, one married William Page,
who became a Mrtliodi-t piearlier, and removed with
his wile tn .\.laiii> (.'niinty, Ohio, alH.nt IMO. The
other married (lieen-liiny Jones, an exlmrter, and
emigrated with him to the West. The s. rnnd wife ,,r
Mr. Connell became the mother of twn .limulan.-,
who respectively became the wives of .Icxjih :nel
Wesley Phillips, sons of John Phillips, of Union-

Nothing has been found tending to show that any
other settlers , ame to h.eate near Zaehariali Cmnell

tory of the bor.mgli «i C lellsville, .luring the Rev-
olutionary war or the five nf six years that sue. eeded
the return of peace. The -ii|.|>o~iiii,ii that there were
no such settlements made during the time ril'erreil to
is strengthened by thi' laet that the tracts of Connell
and MeCnrmi. I<, wlii. h included all that is now Con-



to J(

and the whole of Connell's tract (with the exception
of the Rogers mill site) being still in his possession
when he laid out the town in 1793, as will hereafter
be noticed.

The "Rogers Jlill" referred to (which a few years
later became the property of Thomas Page) was built

From till


(lance and rensuniLble credit will be given liy me.

"Zachariah Coxxell.

CVNELLSVlllE, .\pril 6, 1812.

.B. — AH persons cl.-iiniiniJ: lots in said town are desired to cotne and
I their claims t>>' the 1st day of May, and pay the pnrchase-money
:round-rents if any dne.

" Z. C."

before 179.3, on the river-bank, where the present mill
stands, opposite Grave Street. Its owner was Daniel
Rogers, who came here from Dunbar township, and
became one of the most prominent citizens of Con-
nellsville, and, with his brother Joseph and Zadoc
Walker, of Uniontown, was interested in the erection
of the paper-mill on the Youghiogheny above Con-
nellsville in 1810. The old grist-mill which he built,
as above mentioned, became an establishment of no
little importance to Connellsville as the settlement
increased, and was largely patronized by people of
both Bullskin and Dunbar townships.

Dr. James Francis was one of the earliest settlers
in Connellsville. Evidence is found that he was prac-
ticing in the vicinity before 1790, but it is not certain
that he was at that time a resident in what is now
Connellsville, though it is known that he was located

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 82 of 193)