Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 96 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 96 of 193)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

this l.).'atiiiii w.mlil become exceedingly valu iMc m>
emigrant-. Il..\\."l in und the cuntry was gra.lually
opencl. A..''.i-.liiiL;ly he t.i.ik measures t.i s.'cnre a

fortification, by what at that time was calle.l a ' t. .ma-
hawk improvement.' Not content, b.iwi-ver, with
girdling a few trees and blazing .itb.'rs, be .l.-t.-rinincl

believed to have been the first edifice of this kind in
that part of our great domain west of the mountains.
We are not possessed of data to fix the precise year
of this erection, but it is supposed to have occurred
about 1770."

For about five years after that time Capt. Cresap
made the mouth of Dunlap's Creek the base of his
trading operations, but still having his family and
home in Maryland. " Early in the year 1774 he en-
gaged six or seven active young men, at the rate of
£2 10.«. per month, and repairing to the wilderness of
the Ohio, commenced the business of building houses
and clearing lands, and being among the first adven-
turers into this exposed and dangerous region, he was
enabled to select some of the best and richest of the
(Jhio levels."' It appears that he had considerable

means at his command, for in addition to the busi-
ness of his store which be kept in operation at Red-
stone Old Fort, he purchased various tracts of land
in the surrounding country,* as well as at several
points on the Ohio River, and he also, appar-
ently, a loaner of money to some extent on landed

After the close of " Dtinmore's war," in the com-
mencement of which Capt. Cresap took part as a sub-
ordinate officer (for which his name and character
were afterwards severely but unjustly assailed), he
" returned to Maryland, and spent the latter part of
the autumn of 1774 and the succeeding winter in the
repose of a domestic circle from which he had been
so long estranged, but in the early spring of 1775 he
hired another band of young men and repaired again
to the (_)liio to finish the work he commenced the year
before. He did not stop at his old haunts, but de-
scended to Kentucky, where he made some improve-
ments. Being ill, however, he soon left his workmen
and departed for his home over the mountains, in
order to rest and recover his health. On his way

* The fuUnwiiip: facts in reference to some of Ci'esapV land trrin.«iiction8
in tlie vicinity ..f Diuilaii's Cr.-ek ure giitliered from tlie olJ Angiista
County, Va., couit records, wbicli are st 11 iu existence iu Wasliiiigtou,

urg, S'-ptPUilif-r the 21^', 177.:>, dt-ed .f B;irgjiin
d l.y two of the subsci ibing, and ordered'i.".Ii.l.n Cir-v. ..f DiiT.b.i.'s Creek Settle-

I Ik-c. 10, 1772. The nioMrgiigewaa
, " by his o.ith proved at a com t,
.luity, Va., at Pittsburg, Sept. 21, 1776,

.Tames Brinton, of AuRUsIa Cotinty,

.|.iMt.Mi;uifes thei-euiito Belonging or in any ways
iii[ij,^ by Estimation about two hundred and tilry
lure or less," — the grantor guaranteeing the s;»nie
liinsan.l demands of "all nuinner .if Person or i'er-
Si.ile e.xcepted only." The ileed was witnesse.l by
iiiaik] and John Jeremiah Jacob, and ".^t a C<iu. t
: I A..i;.ista Cunty at Pittsburg, September 21",
_ I [ Jiid Sale was proved by the oath of . fob tt
ii witnesses thereto, and ordered to be Recorded.


iL'. wards, that worli

Jacob, October Sth, 1775."

vered, John Jer

* There was a younger Michael Cre^•ap, the son of Daniel Cresap,
brother of Michael Cresap, Sr.



across the Allegheny Mountains he was met by a
faithful friend with a message stating that he had
been appointed by the Committee of Safety at Fred-
erick a captain to command one of the rifle com-
panies required from Maryland by a resolution of
Congress. Experienced officers and the very best
men that could be procured were demanded."'

This occurred in June, 1775, and on the 18th of
the following month Capt. Cresap, at the head of his
company (of whom twenty-two men were volunteers
from west of the mountains, doubtless mostly from
the Monongahela settlements), set out from Frederick,
Md., and after a march of twenty-two days joined
Washington's army investing Boston. But his mili-
tary career in the Revolutionary army was short.
"Admonished by continued illness, and feeling, per-
haps, some foreboding of his fate, he endeavored once
more, after about three months' service, to reach his
home among the mountains, but finding himself too
sick to proceed he stopped in New York, where he
died of fever on the 18th of October, 1775, at the
early age of thirty-three. On the following day his
remains, attended by a vast concourse of people, were
buried with military honors in Trinity churchyard.'"
In that burial-ground they still rest, and the head-
stone of his grave may be found much dilapidated,
but with the yet legible inscription,







Michael Cresap left a widow and four children.
His widow, in 1781, married her first husband's friend
and employe, John Jeremiah Jacob, who, at the age
of aliout fifteen years, had commenced as a clerk for
Cresap in his store at Redstone Old Fort, and who,

is employer's departure for the army in 1775, was
left ill charge of the business, and so remained for
several months after Cresap's death, closing up the
affairs. In July, 1776, he entered the army as ensign,
and served nearly five years, rising to the grade of
captain. Later in life he became a clergyman of the
^thodist Episcopal Church, and died highly es-
teemed in Hampshire County, Va. He was the au-
thor of the " Life of Capt. Michael Cresap," and by
the facts which he gathered and gave to the public
in that work successfully vindicated the character
and cleared the memory of his dead friend from the
terrible charges which were made, and for years gen-

y believed, against him in reference to the mur-
der of the relatives of the Indian chief Logan in the
war of 1774.

Thomas Brown, who laid out the town which then
took, and still bears, his name, was one of the earliest

settlers who came to the vicinity of Redstone and
Dunlap's Creeks, his name being found in the list of
"The names of the Inhabitants near Redstone" re-
ported by the Rev. John Steele as living in this re-
gion in the spring of 1768. He was not then a resi-
dent in what is now the borough of Brownsville, but
came here a few years later, and having purchased
the right which Michael Cresap had acquired to the
land afterwards the site of the town, and having also
bought out whatever interest the McCulloughs had
in the same, he settled here and commenced im-
provement in 1776. The correctness of this date is
made certain by the certificate which was given him
for the tract by the Virginia commissioners at Red-
stone Old Fort, Dec. 16, 1779. In that certificate
there is added to the description of the tract granted
to Thomas Brown the words, " to include his settle-
ment made in the year 1776." The tract was sur-
veyed to him March 21, 1785. It is described in the
survey as being "situate on the dividing ridge be-
tween Redstone and Dunlap's Creeks;" the name
by which the tract was designated was " Whisky

Basil Brown, Sr., brother of Thomas Brown, did
not become a resident of Brownsville, but lived on a
tract " near Redstone Old Fort," in the present town-
ship of Luzerne. On this tract he settled in 1770,
and remained there during the remainder of his life.
His son, Basil Brown, Jr., however, removed to
Brownsville, where he lived at or near the corner of
jMorgan and Market Streets. His sister, Sally Brown,
who was a cripple, lived with him, both remaining
unmarried. He died in Brownsville many years ago,
at seventy-five years of age. Sally, who survived him
a number of years, is still remembered by many of
the older citizens of the town.

Fr-om the time of the opening of Burd's road, in
1759, the point of its western terminus on the Monon-
gahela became a place of considerable importance,
and this was more especially the case after the time
when westward bound emigrants began to pass
through this region, iiiakinir this the end of their land
travel and the pnint <•( tihir embarkation in flat-
boats for their passage dnwii ihe river. A very heavy
and constantly increasing emigration was setting to-
wards the Southwest, particularly Kentucky, and to
all emigrants traveling to that region the smoothly-
flowing currents of the Monongahela and Ohio Rivers
offered the easiest, cheapest, and in every sense the
most eligible highway, a route by which, with very
little labor to themselves, the rude craft on which
they embarked at the mouth of Dunlap's Creek
would land them without change almost on the spot
of their destination.

These were the considerations which induced mul-
titudes of western bound travelers to lay their route
over the road which brought them to the Mononga-
hela at Redstone Old Fort. Such as could con-
veniently make the arrangement usually chose the



latter part of the winter for their exodus, because at
that season the friendly snow still lingered upon the
roads, and mitigated in some degree the horrors of
the passage from the mountains to the river. If they
had rightly timed their journey, and the melting time
came soon after their arrival at the place of embar-
kation, then all was well with them, but if the spring
thaws delayed their coming, and the shivering, home-
sick wayfarers were compelled to remain for weeks
(as was sometimes the case) in their comfortless shel-
ters, awaiting an opportunity to proceed on their
way, then their condition was pitiable indeed. " John
Moore, a very early settler, used to relate" (says Judge
Veeeh) "that in the long, cold winter of 1780, a proto-
type of those of 18'iG-5J. the snow being three or four
feet deep and crusted, he said the road from Sandy
Hollow (Brubaker's) to the verge of Brownsville,
where William Hogg lived, was lined on both sides
with wagons and families, camped out, waiting for
the loosing of the icy bonds from the waters and the
preparation of boats to embark for the West, the
men dragging in old logs and stumps for fuel to save
their wives and children from freezing."

The great amount of emigration and otlier western
travel centring at the mouth of Dunlap's Creek as
a point of embarkation rendered necessary the build-
ing of a large number of flat-boats and other primi-
tive river-craft;' and the construction of these, as
well as the furnishing of supplies to the voyagers for
their long trips down the river (for by the time of
their arrival here many of them had exhausted the
supplies with which they had set out on the journey),
produced business activity, and gave to the place the
promise of future prosperity and importance.

These facts and considerations caused Thomas
Brown to conceive the )u-oject of estalilishing a town
upon that part of his "Whisky Patli" tract lying
adjacent to the :\ronongahela and Dunlap's Creek.
Accnnlin-ly, in 17sr, h,. platted and laid out the town
of lirnwn^villc with streets and alleys nearly the same
as they now exist in that piirt of the present borough
which wa-i lanlnarcil in the original plat. A "public

the southwest side of Front Street, and adjoining it
was the early burial-place of the town, in which the
Browns, the Washingtons, and many others were in-
terred as elsewhere mentioned. It has been said that
this spot was donated and set apart by Thomas Brown

as a public burial-ground, but of this there is no
proof. An addition to the town was afterwards made
by Chads Chalfant, and another by S-imuel Jackson,
who purchased from Thomas Brown certain lands ad-
joining the original plat and laid them out with streets
and alleys ; Church and Spring Streets were included
in this addition to the town.

The proprietor of Brownsville offered his lots for
sale, subject to conditions nearly identical with those
imposed by Henry Beeson in sales of his lots at Union-
town. All dwellings erected on them were required
to be equal to twenty by twenty-five feet in dimen-
sions, substantially built, and in all cases to have a
chimney or chimneys of brick or stone. Quit-rents
were required in nearly all cases, but these were some-
times waived, for reasons which are not made appa-

Thomas Brown occupied (so says that dubious au-
thority, tradition) the shingle-roofed house built by
Michael Cresap from the time of his purchase from I
the latter until his death, which occurred in 1797, at
the age of fifty-nine years. He left two sons — Thomas
Brown, Jr., and Levi Brown — and three daughters,-
Mrs. Elizabeth Cox, Mrs. William Crawford, and
Mrs. Ewing. There are no descendants of his now
living in Brownsville or vicinity.

The following-named persons were purchasers of
town lots in 1'.io\mi-\ iUr Irom the original proprietor.
Many others ]mrclia-e(l from his estate after his death.
The years indicated are those of the record, not the
execution of the respective deeds :




.Tohn lilaukford.
EdwiirJ Hiile....
William Hogg...
Oeorge Kinne^ir,
.T..i,n Eliin

Armstrong "*

SL-liooley irSS

Newport "

jrge F. Hawkins "

Amos Townsend.

John Wildman

Artliur Dempsev

Ridoon Walker."

John Restine

Charles Sumption....
Thomns McKibben.

-M.iltliew Van Lear..
U:OMh RalcliJf ,


Eiijih Fredway


Scott 1793


John .Inqtics

Thomas tiregg..
Andrew Brown.
Amos Wilson...
John Bowman..

Andrew Sinn


Isaac Sinn

John McClure 1S02

Basil Brown, who was the purchaser of a large
number of lots from his brother, Thomas Brown,
made sales of them from time to time to the following-,
named persons, viz. :


Thomns Brown, Jr....
Otho Brashear



William Ilojrg

Adam .Jacobs

John Lau^'hlin



Thomas Blown


... 1799

Basil Brashear

John Ila^iin


William (ioe


Chads Chalfant

Samuel Bfll


Jonathan Miller

Barrack Brashear



John Wildman "

Jacob Bowman


AV.Iliam Price


Robert Elliott, the purchaser whose name
appears in the above list, came from Washington
County, Md., to Brownsville, and purchased (April
28, 1786) a town lot for the consideration of £10.
The lot was No. 17, adjoining lot of Robert Taylor.
' Col. Elliott was engaged here in the purchase of sup-
', plies for the United States government, in which
business he was associated with Col. Eli Williams
and Jacob Bowman.

Jacob Bowman, whose father emigrated from Ger-
many to America about the time of the " Old French
war," was born at Hagerstown, Md., June 17, 1763,
and when twenty-four years of age came to Browns-
ville, and commenced the business of merchandising,
he and William Hogg being the first two permanently-
located merchants in the town. He was also engaged
in partnership with Col. Elliott and Eli Williams, as
before mentioned, in purchasing supplies for the
Western army under Gen. Anthony Wayne, and he
was made commissary to the government troops which

ere sent across the mountains to suppress the Whiskey
Insurrection in 1794.

;Vt the time when Mr. Bowman started business in
Brownsville all goods were brought over the moun-
tain roads from Cumberland to the Monongabela on
pack-horses, of which large numbers, loaded with his
goods, were frequently seen standing together in the
public square opposite his residence, waiting their
turn to be relieved of their burdens. The first load
of merchandise brought over the mountains by wagon
came here in 1789 to Jacob Bowman. The wagoner

10 drove the team was John Hayden, afterwards a
well-known iron-master in Fayette County. The load,
which was about two thousand pounds in weight, was
drawn by four, and the freight charged on it
was three dollars per one hundred pounds. Hayden
was about a month in making the trip from Hagers-
town, Md., to Brownsville and back.

In consideration of his services to the government,
Jacob Bowman was appointed under the administra-
tion of President Washington (in 1795) postmaster of
Brownsville, and held the office until the incoming of
Gen. Jackson's administration, a period of thirty-
four years. He was prominent in the organization of
the old Monongahela Bank, and was its president from
its organization under the charter in 1814 till Sept.

, 1843, when he retired, and was succeeded by his
son, James L. Bowman.

The residence of Jacob Bowman was where his
son, N. B. Bowman, now lives, on the property called
' Nemacolin," for the old Indian chief whose wigwam
or cabin (tradition says) was once located on it.

This property he purchased of Thomas Brown soon
after his settlement in Brownsville. Until the time
of his emigration from Hagerstown to Brownsville
Mr. Bowman was a member of the Lutheran Church,
but not long afterwards he united with the Protestant
Episcopal Church, and remained one of its most in-
j fluential, liberal, and respected members until his
I death, which occurred March 2, 1847, at the age of
eighty-four years. His wife died two years earlier,
March 11, 1845.

The children of Jacob Bowman were the following
named: Mary, born in 1788; married Henry Sterling,
a planter of St. Francisville, La., and died in 1852.
Annie E. Bowman, born May 8, 1790, and married
March 12, 1818, to Henry Sweitzer, of Hagerstown,
Md. Harriet E. Bowman, born June 16, 1792; n)ar-
ried John Thompson McKennan ; died March 8,1832.
James L. Bowman, born June 23, 1794 ; graduated at
Washington College in 1813; studied law with John
Kennedy; admitted to the bar in 1817; president of
the Monongahela Bank from 1843 until his death in
1857. Matilda L. Bowman, born Aug. 13, 1796 ; mar-
ried Thomas M. T. McKennan (member of Congress
and Secretary of the Interior under President Fill-
more) ; she died March 3, 1858. Louisa Bowman,
born in 1798; married Samuel Bell, of Reading, Pa.,
in 1830; she died in January, 1880. William Robert
Bowman, born 1801 ; graduated at Washington Col-
lege, Pa., in 1822 ; graduated at theological seminary,
Princeton, N. J., 1825; made deacon in Episcopal
Church May 11, 1826; removed in 1827 to St. Fran-
cisville, West Feliciana Parish, La., where he organ-
ized Grace Church, Feb. 7, 1829; remained at St.
Francisville till his death in 1835. Goodloe Harper
Bowman, born April 3, 1S03; entered trade with his
father under the firm-name of Jacob Bowman & Sons ;
was subsequently in partnership with his brother, N. B.
Bowman ; was cashier of the Monongahela Bank from
1830 to 1841; elected president of tliat institution in
1857, and held the position till his deatli in February,
1874. Nelson Blair Bowman, born July 8, 1807; en-
tered mercantile pursuits with his lather and brother;
retired from active trade in lS."i8, but is still a ilirector
in the Monongahela National Bank and in the Mo-
nongahela Bridge Company. He is living in retire-
ment and elegance at " Nemacolin," an eminence
which commands a fine view of the Mohongahela
River and surrounding country, — the same jiroperty
which his father, Jacob Bowman, bought of Thomas
Brown in 1788.'

William Hogg was contemporary with Jacob Bow-
man as an early merchant in Brownsville. He was
an Englishman who had been impressed as a sailor on

1 The earliest date under which Jacob Bowr
Fayette Comity rccurdsis June 2:!,17SS, at whi
and a half acres and fourand a half pfielies of
Thomas Brown for the considcnitimi of £-21,



board one of His Majesty's ships, and deserted at
Charleston, S. C, whence he traveled to Philadel-
phia. There he made the acquaintance of an English
gentleman named Stokes, who furnished him with a
small stock of light hardware, with which he started
out as a traveling peddler. He continued in this busi-
ness for two or three trips, and finally, about 1787,
came to Brownsville, where he opened a store in the
upper story of a building on Water Street, where the
rolling-mill now stands. He bought his goods in
Baltimore, making his earliest trips to and from that
city on foot, generally starting from Brownsville on
Sunday morning, and closing his store during his
absence. Tlie first mention found of him in the re-
cords is his purchase of three lots in Brownsville,
Jan. 28, 17'JtJ, after he had been here in business for
nearly ten years. The lots which he purchased at
that time were Xos. .3, 4, and 5 of the original plat,
for the consideration of £1.5. Mr. Hogg was a bache-
lor, and by his industry and perseverance during a
long period of merchandising in Brownsville accumu-
lated a large fortune.

George Hogg, a nephew of William, was an iron-
worker in Nortiiumberland, England. About the
year isiiii liis uncle brought him to Brownsville and
formed a liu-*iiiess ])artnership with him, which con-
tinued till Ills deatli. George Hogg married a daugh-
ter of Natlianiel Breading, and they became the ]ia-
rents of four sons and two daughters, viz. : George E.
Hogg, now living in Brownsville ; Nathaniel B. Hogg,
now a resident of Allegheny City, Pa. ; John T. Hogg,
living in Connellsville ; James Hogg, lost at sea on
board the steamer "Arctic;" a daughter, now Mrs.
Felix R. Brunot, living in Pittsburgh; the other
daughter, who became the wife of William Bissell,
died many years ago.

In a deed executed in 1787 by Thomas Brown, con-
veying a lowii lot lo Mutlhew Campbell, the property
is de<(iilHNl lis ■■>itiiate in Brownsville, n/w.s Wnxh-
ingtiiii," by wliieh it is made apparent that an attempt
was made about that time to have the latter name
adopted for the town in place of Brownsville. No
allusion to the name (as applied to this town) has
been found in any other place. The lot above referred
to as having been sold to Campbell was No. 1, on
Front Street, bounded on the northwest by Trader's
Lane. The price paid was £5. The purchaser of
this lot was doubtless the same Matthew Campbell
who, in December, 1783, was licensed by the court of
Fayette County to keep a tavern in Uniontown, and
who in 1784 purchased a lot (where the Fulton House
now stands) in that town, from Henry Beeson. In
178.") he was licensed to keep a public-house in Men-
alien township. Little beyond this is known of

Andrew Boggs was the purchaser from Thomas
Brown (in June, 1788) of a lot on Second Street, ex-
tending through to Market Street, adjoining a lot

owned by Nathan Chalfant. The consideration named
in the deed to Boggs is £7 10s.

Nathan Chalfant purchased the lot (referred to in
the deed to Boggs) on the 23d of June, 1788. It was
sixty by one hundred and eighty feet in size, extend-
ing from Second to Market Street. He sold it on the
19th of March, 1798, to Andrew Lynn, who, in June,
181.5, conveyed it to the trustees of the Presbyterian
congregation, and it is the same on which the church
edifice of that congregation now stands.

At the same time that Chalfant purchased the lot
above named he also bought lot No. 4, on Water
Street, adjoining Thomas McKibben and Holborn
Hill. On this lot> he lived for many years, and car-
ried on an extensive business in boat-building.

Chads Chalfant lived on a farm about one mile out
of town, but was the owner of several town lots. In
1804 he donated to the Methodist Episcopal Church
the lot on which the present house of worship stands.
He also sold the lot which is now occupied by the
Masonic Hall.

Robert Clarke came here from Greene County as
early as 1788, at which time he was the purchaser of
a lot in this town. He built the house which is now
owned by the heirs of George Shuman and occupied
as a telegraph-ofiice. Its original site was where the
Snowdon House now is, but it was removed about
1823 to its present location by Clarke, who then built
the Snowdon House on the spot thus vacated, and
lived in it until his death, about 1840. He was con-
cerned with Neal Gillespie in the grist-mill and saw-
mill on the river, as hereafter mentioned. A daughter
of Robert Clarke married John L. Dawson, and
another daughter became the wife of Gen. Henry W.
Beeson, of Uniontown.

Neal Gillespie was not a settler in Brownsville, yet
it seems proper to mention him in this connection, as
he was closely identified with the business interests
of the (dace. He was an Irishman who came to the

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 96 of 193)