Franklin Ellis.

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

. (page 99 of 193)
Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 99 of 193)
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rious proposals laid before thein, entered into an
agreement with Samuel Story, of Bridgeport, in the
county of Fayette. It was ordered that Isaac Core
proceed early next week to said place to take bond
and security of said Story." The contractor to take
the pier then standing, and to build " two other piers
with large stones well laid in lime-mortar, which said
piers shall be founded on a rock," the timbers of the
bridge to be solid oak, and the hand-railing to be
painted with three coats of white lead.

March 21, 1821, Isaac Core reported that the bridge
contractor had made considerable progress in the
work. On the 9th of May, the commissioners " hav-
ing been informed that Samuel Story was to lay the
foundation of one of the piers of the bridge over the
mouth of Dunlap's Creek on that day, met at that
place, and saw the pier founded on a rock agreeably
to contract." And Isaac Core was appointed by the
commissioners to .see the foundation of the second
pier laid in the same manner.

Aug. 18, 1821, " Samuel Story having notified Lsaac
Core that the bridge he contracted to build was fin-
ished and ready for examination, said Core, with a
view to that object, forwarded the letter to Messrs.
Vance and Andrew Moore, to meet at their office."
The viewers, Messrs. Adam Wilson, William Ewing,
James Beck, and Joseph Thornton, met Aug. 27,
1821, examined the bridge, and reported that, having
viewed the bridge agreeably to the order, " we are
of opinion that it ought to be received oft" the con-
tractor's hands." The bridge was thereupon accepted
from the contractor, who received his final payment
upon it Sept. 5, 1821. The total amount paid him
was $2050, a supplemental article having been added
to the original contract giving him an additional
sum for extra work done on it.

In 1835, when the present iron bridge over Dun-
lap's Creek was projected as a permanent crossing
for the National road, Capt. Richard Delafield, then
government engineer on the work, decided, and so
reported to the Treasury Department, that the best
crossing-place for the bridge was at a point below
where the road struck the creek. In consequence of
this report the Borough Council forwarded a memo-
rial to the department, protesting against the change
of location, setting forth that in case the proposed
site was adopted the bridge must be longer and would
cost twenty-five per cent, more than if erected on the
old site; also that the change would work great in-
jury to property on the line of the then existing road,



which would necessarily be discontinued and rendered
useless for a considerable distance where it approached
the bridge. The result was that the views of Capt.
Delafield were modified, and he then proposed to
build on the upper (present) site, provided the
Council would throw open a triangle on the line of
the road opposite the borough market. This was ac-
ceded to, the bridge site was adopted in conformity
to the wishes of the Council and people of the bor-
ough, and a slight temporary bridge was thrown
across the creek to accommodate travel during the
construction of the permanent structure.

It was decided that the material of the bridge
should be cast iron. The contract for casting the
pieces was awarded John Snowdon, the metal being
furnished by the government. Mr. Snowdon rented
the old Cock foundry for the purpose, and duly fur-
nished the castings according to contract. The con-
struction of the bridge proceeded successfully, and
was in due time completed under the superintendency
of George W. Cass, who had come to this section
years before as one of the engineers of the National

This bridge acrns-; Dunlap's Creek was the first cast-
iron structure Imilt arrows any stream westof the Alie-
ghenies. It still ^tamls, solid, and in excellent con-
dition, the only highway between the boroughs of
Brownsville and Bridgeport.


The name of the first public-house in Brmvnsville
is not known, but it ajipears likely that it was kept
by Tliomas Bniwn, as there is found in tlie records of
the West Augusta i Va. l court, hrld at Fort Dunmore
in April, 177(;. an entry, dated tlic KUh of that month,
as follows : " License to keep an Ordinary is granted
to Thomas Brown, at his house at Redstone Fort.
Bazel Brown, on his behalf, entered into bond ac-
cording to law." Nothing further is found of the
" ordinary" of Thomas Brown.

The earliest inn of Brownsville of whieli anything
definite is known as to its location and landlords was
the "Black llorsc Ta\crii." a stone building, a part
of which is still stajiding in the more-recently erected
stone building located between the residences of N.
B. Bowman and James Slocum. The date of the
opening of tlie old tavern cannot be accurately fixed,
but it is known that the public meeting at Kedstone
Old Fort July 27, K'.'l. usually referred to as the
first public act in the Whiskey Insurrection, was held
at the Black Horse tavern. The last meeting of the
insurgents was also held at the same place, Aug. 28
anil 29, 1794. In the Western Ttlegrnphe (published
at Washington, Pa.) of March 29, 1796, is found the
following advertisement, viz. :

"An,.w Wilson t.cgs leave to infcrrn his frienjs and the
public lli:if li«' li:i- ].iin'li;isiTl the liiusc formerly Occupied b.v
Mr. Pi,t.i.k Ti-in.,,, ihr si-n "f llic Rlack Horse, on Front
.Street. r.iouii-Mllr, ;>eli knoHri by the name of lleJstoue Old
Fort, wl.ere hiis opened a Tavern," etc.

The tavern property, together with four other lots
in Brownsville, " belonging to Charles Armstrong,
Elijah Clark, boat-builder, and Capt. T. Shane," were
sold at public auction on the 31st of December, 1796,
by James Long, auctioneer ; but it seems probable
that, notwithstanding the sale, Wilson still continued
as landlord of the Black Horse tavern, and was keep-
ing it in 1799, from an account of the celebration of
St. John's day (June 24th) in that year by Browns-
ville Lodge, No. 60, of Free Masons, viz. : " In the
evening repaired to Brother Wilson's, at the Black
Horse Tavern, and spent the evening in festivity."
Later it was kept successively by John Sheldon,
Josiah Tannebill, Joseph Noble, Mrs. Dr. Lewis
Sweitzer, and others. It was discontinued as a
public-house many years ago.

Basil Brashear was in Brownsville as early as 1795,
and soon afterwards built the stone house now occu-
pied by Mrs. Wesley Frost and Mrs. Couldren. At
that place he kept tavern for many years. The first
meeting of the Borough Council was held at "the
Council room in Basil Bra.shear's tavern." This was
one of the most famed of the early public-houses of
Brownsville. It was kept by Brashear, and the
principal hotel of the town when Lafayette made his
visit here in 182.5.

John McClure Hezlop was in Brownsville in 1797,
and three years later he built the stone house at the
head of JIarket Street. It was afterwards kept as a
tavern by John Beckley. The house was continued
by his widow, Nancy Beckley, for some time after his
death. In 1843, Jacob Workman was its landlord.
It is now the Girard House.

James Auld, " Inn-keeper and Shoemaker," kept a
tavern at the head of Front Street in 1819. After-
wards James C. Beckley kept at the same place. In
1S2(J jHiblic-houses were kept in Brownsville by John
ConoUy, William McMuUen, and James Eeynolds.
The building on Market Street, in which the Central
Hotel was afterwards kejit, was built in 1816.

The Snowdon House building was erected about
1823 by Eobert Clarke, who lived in it until his
death, about 1840. It was first kept as a hotel by
Andrew Byers, who was also a landlord at Union-
town, Connellsville, and several other places. The
house is still a hotel.

The Monongahela House, located in the " Neck,"
was built as a private residence by Samuel J. Krepps
in 1832. About twelve years later it was purchased

by McCurdy, who opened it as a hotel, and kept

it for a time, but failed to make the payments on the
property, and was obliged to give it up. It was then
leased to Ganz, Vance, and others succes-
sively, and was finally (in 1870) taken by John B.
Krepps (son of Samuel), who kept it until hisdeath,
in January, 1881, and it is still kept as a public-house
by his widow. The other hotels of Brownsville at the
present time are the United States, on Water Street,
by George W. Poundstone ; the Snowdon House, on



Market Street, by Harvey Sawyer; and the Girard
House, at the head of Market Street, by Jacob Marks.


The earliest Brownsville newspaper of which any
information has been found is The Brownsville Ga-
zette. The only copy of it known to be now in exist-
ence bears date Jan. 14, 1809, from which it is learned
that the paper was " published everyTuesday by John
Berry, Printer, on Market Street, opposite Col. Bra-
shear's Inn." When it was first issued or how long
it continued is not known.

The Western Repository was published at Browns-
ville in 1810. Onc-lialf of a copy of this paper, bear-
ing date Wednesday, June 13th of that year, is now in
possession of Mrs. Samuel B. Page, of Brownsville.
It contains the advertisements of Dr. Edward Scull
and Dr. James Roberts (then physicians of Browns-
ville), and also an obituary notice of Isaac Rogers,
who died Saturday, June 9, 1810, aged forty-two years.
The Repository was a four-column paper, published
at S2 per annum. No otlier facts can be given con-
cerning it.

The Western Palladium of Brownsville was in ex-
istence in 1812, but probably not later, as is indicated
by an advertisement found in The Reporter of Wash-
ington, Pa., dated Jlay 4th in that year, being as fol-
lows :

"PniSTiNG Office FOR Sale.
"The Establishment of the Wesfern Pallatlium, at Browns-
ville, Pa., is offcrea for Sale with the Press."

The American Telegraph was established at Browns-
ville in 1814, by John Bouvier, who continued its
publication here for about four years, and then re-
moved it to Uniontowu, where it was united with the
Genius of Liberty.

The Western Register was commenced in the sum-
mer of 1817, by Robert Fee, who continued to pub-
lish it in Brownsville until 1823, but nothing of a
later date has been found in reference to it. A copy
tlie paper (Vol. VI. No. 49), dated March 29th in that
year, is in possession of J. A. Scott, of Bridgeport. It
is a folio, four columns, about one-fourth the size of
the Clipper, and bears the motto "Virtuous Liberty."

The American Observer was started in Brownsville,
in September, 1825, by Jackman & Coplan, the office
of i)ublication being on Market Street. A copy of
the paper (Vol. II. No. 17), dated Jan. 13, 1826. is in
possession of Mrs. Samuel B. Page, of Brownsville.
It contains lln address delivered by Thomas Rodgers
on the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans.
Tiie Observer was afterward removed to Uniontown
and merged with the Genius of Liberty.

The Western Spy of Brownsville is found men-
tioned in a Pittsburgh paper of Jan. 5, 1824. The
fact that such a paper existed at that time is all that
is known of it.

The Brownsville Galaxy, edited and published liy
William J. Copeland, was in existence in 1829, but the

dates of its birth and death have not been ascertained.
In an old number of the Casket, published by At-
kinson in Philadelphia, is found the following notice,
copied in that paper as a curiosity from the Browns-
ville Galaxy of Aug. 7, 1829, viz. :

" Whereas, Fanny Morton, alias Kerr, bus without
cause left my habitation, and is floating on the ocean
of tyrannical extravagance, prone to prodigality,
taking a wild goose chase and kindling her pipe with
the coal of curiosity, to abscond and abolish such in-
sidious, clandestine, noxious, pernicious, diabolical,
and notorious deportment, I therefore caution all
persons from harboring or trusting heron my account,
as I will pay no debts of her contracting from this
date unless compelled by law.

"James Kerr."

Tlie Brownsville Intelligencer was a paper of which
no information has been obtained, except the fact of
its existence in July, 1830, which is shown by a refer-
ence to it in a Pitt.sburgh journal of that time.

The Brovmsville Free'Press was established in Sep-
tember, 1843, by A. H. Shaw. It was a five-column
folio, and devoted to the interests of the old Whig

The Brownsville Times was first issued in the fall of
1857. It was a seven-column paper, eighteen by
thirty-six inches, Democratic in politics. Its publi-
cation office was on the Neck, near the east end of the
bridge. In February, 1861, it was edited and pub-
lished by R. B. Brown. The date of its suspension
has not been found.

The Browmville Clipper was established by the late
Hon. Seth T. Hurd, at Brownsville, on the 1st day of
June, 1853, Wednesday being the publication day.
The Clipper was started in the interests of the old
Whig party, and continued to advocate its cause until
the organization of the Republican party, when it
espoused those principles, and has so continued to
the present day. On the 20th of September, 1875,
the Hon. Seth T. Hurd, after about twenty-two years
of continuous editorial management, sold the Clipper
and the jirinting establishment to Mr. A. R. Has-
tings. On the 22il of November, 1878, Mr. Hastings
sold the paper to Mr. W. F. Applegate, the present
proprietor, who was then connected with The Mon-
mouth (N. J.) Inquirer. Thus it will be seen the
Clipper has had but three proprietors in its existence
of twenty-seven years. The Clipper was in reality
the outcome of the Free Press and other old newspapers
previously published in Brownsville during the past
seventy years, consequently it is the oldest paper now
published in Brownsville. When it was started in
1853 by Mr. Hurd it was the same size as now, thirty-
two columns, twenty-six by forty. The paper is all
printed at home, and devotes most of its space to the
local news of the community.
The Labor Advocate,^ as its name imports, is the

1 Skttdi fuini»hi-a 1

Dr. U. L. Cliluu



professed champion of the labor and producing classes
of the county. It is the offspring of the Greenback
Banner, which was first issued on the 23d of August,
1877, with Dr. U. L. Clemraer as publisher and busi-
ness manager, and Dr. N. W. Truxal as editor. The
Banner was the second Greenbaclc newspaper pub-
lished in Pennsylvania, and it acquired quite a celeb-
rity as a wide-awake political journal, but at the
expiration of six months Dr. Truxal withdrew from
the editorial management, and Dr. Clemmer sold the
ottice to two gentlemen, who continued the publica-
tion of the paper until shortly before the election in
the fall of 1S7S, wliuu they abandoned it and surren-
dered the nuitcrial tu the doctor. Then, in the early
spring of 1N7'J, a stranger, whose name is not mate-
rial, tried an experiment in the shape of a newspaper
called T/ic Better Timex, which existed three weeks
and then expired. After that occurrence the prospect
of establishing a newspaper in the interest of the
Greenback-Labor party seemed to be gloomy enough,
but Dr. Clemmer was determined to try it once more,
and, without a single subscriber, he commenced the
issue of the Labor Advneate about the middle of Feb-
ruary, in the year 1880. The paper has now been
permanently established, and on the 18th of April,
1881, it passed into the hands of Prof. Phillips and
Ur. J. T. Wells, both of whom are scholarly gentle-
men, and both excellent writers.

The earliest data to which the writer has been able

to obtain access show that Dr. Mitchell and Dr.

Chesteter were buth practicing medicine in Browns-


In the Wei^lt rii Bejiositonj newspaper (of Browns-
ville), dated June 13, 1810, are found the advertise-
ments of Dr. Edward Scull and Dr. James Roberts as
physicians in the town at that time. The last named
is still remembered by Mr. Nelson B. Bowman. Dr.
Edward Scull was the son of John Scull, the founder
of the Pittxhiiriih Gmettc. Xothing has been learned
of these two early physicians except the fact above
shown that they were practicing in Brownsville at the
time mentioned.

Dr. Thomas Blodgett was in practice in Brownsville
from 1812 to 1815, when he removed to Dayton, Ohio.
Dr. Piter practiced here about 1831 to 1833. .

Dr. John J. Steele was born in Lancaster, Pa.,
about 17115, removed from there to Canonsburg,
AVashington Co., Pa., and was married to Mrs. Mary
Clemmens. He afterwards lived in Masoutown, in
this county, and came to Brownsville about 1836.
He died in indigent circnmstances near Unioutown
about ls3i). The doctor left five children, one of
whom, Clemmens Steele, was engaged in business
))nrsnits in South America for several years, but re-
turning to the United States shortly before the at-

, S. Dun

tempt to establish the Confederate government, served
with credit as colonel of the Sixty-sixth Ohio Volun-
teers during the civil war.

Dr. Lewis Sweitzer was born in Doylestown, Bucks
Co., Pa., in 1774. He attended a medical college in
Philadelphia, and afterwards pursued his medical
studies in Paris, France. He practiced medicine a
short time at Springtown, Bucks Co., was married
to Eliza F. Bell, Dec. 10, 1807, and moved to Browns-
ville in 1808, entering immediately upon the practice
of bis profession, in which he maintained an honor-
able position up to the time of his death, in 1837.
Dr. Sweitzer was interested in the organization of the
Union Medical Society of Fayette County in 1810.
He was a brother of Henry Sweitzer, who came to
Brownsville a few years later.

Drs. Samuel Shuman and Henry W. Stoy were in
Brownsville in 1818, as shown by the assessment roll
of that year.

Dr. Eobert W. Playford was born in London, Eng-
land, on the 12th day of March, 1799, aud educated
at Eton College, the celebrated English public school,
founded by King Henry VI. in 1440. In this school
he was what is known as a " king's scholar." His
position in his classes on leaving the college entitled
him to a scholarship at Oxford, but he preferred to
enter at once upon the study of medicine in the oflice
of his father, a reputable London physician. With
his father became to this country, locating in Browns-
ville in 1820. Dr. Playford, Sr., remained here about
two years, in that short time establishing, in connec-
tion with his son, a large and lucrative business. He
returned to London, where he died in 1826. Dr. R.
W. Playford remained in Brownsville, continuing in
active practice until 1861, when he was stricken with
hemiplegia, whiclr unfitted him for further active
practice. He enjoyed the reputation of having the
largest business of any physician in the county. In
all his practice he was singularly successful, his acute
perception, clear judgment, and rapid decision fitting
him peculiarly for emergencies, and seemed to render
his knowledge of his duties almost intuitive. During
the whole period of his business life he was once
away fronr town five days at one time, being the only
instance of absence from his professional cares for
more than one day during the forty-one years of his
life that were devoted to active professional pursuits.
He frequently wrote for the local press on sanitary
affairs and matters of home interest. He died at his
home in Brownsville, March 24, 1867. His surviving
children are Mrs. Sophia Parkinson, of Monongahela
City, Pa.; Miss Harriet Playford, of Brownsville;
Dr. Robert Playford, of Petroleum Centre, Pa.; Hon.
Wm. H. Playford, of Uniontown; and Mrs. Amanda
Kennedy, of Philadelphia, Pa.

William L. Lafterty,M.D.,wasbornin KentCounty,
Del., on the 18th day of May, 1807, and removed to
Allegheny County, Pa., when five years of age. He
received his literary education in Washington College,


at Washington, Pa., and served some time as a civil
engineer on the Pennsylvania Canal, afterwards study-
ing medicine in the office of F. .T. Le Moyne, M.D.,
of Washington, Pa., completing his medical studies
in the Medical Department of tlie University of Penn-
sylvania, from, which institution he received the de-
gree of M.D. in March, 1836. He began the practice
of his profession in Brownsville one month after grad-
uating, and remained continuously in business for
thirty years, returning to his native county in Dela-
ware in 1866. The doctor soon acquired an extensive
practice, and retained it during the whole time of his
residence in Brownsville, in addition to being the
owner of the largest drug-store in the place nearly
the whole of that time. He was industrious and en-
terprising in business, took an active part in educa-
tional affiiirs, being an early and sturdy supporter of
the public school system; was one of the originators
and principal stockholders of the Brownsville Gas
Company, and interested in all that pertained to the
sanitary and general welfare of the community. In
politics he was an Old-Line Whig, afterwards a Re-
publican, and at one time a candidate for Congress in
the latter party. He was a prominent Freemason,
and a zealous member of the Protestant Episcopal
Church. He still resides in Delaware, where he has
been engaged in fruit-growing since 1866, though still
from force of long habit giving part of his time to
the practice of the profession to which the best part
of his life has beeu devoted. In a recent letter he
says, "I am now an old man, but still visitthe sick
when requested, so to do, having never learned to re-
fuse assistance to a suffering fellow-being.''

Isaac Jackson, M.D., was born in Menallen town-
ship, Fayette Co., on the 13th day of March, 1821.
He was educated at Madison College, Uniontown ;
studied medicine under the direction of Dr. Smith
Fuller, of Uniontown, attended lectures in Jefterson
Medical College, at Philadelphia, receiving the degree,
of M.D. from that institution in March, 1847, and
located in Brownsville the same year, continuing in
active practice up to the present time. He has also
been engaged for several years in the drug business,
having been at different times a member of the drug
firms of W. F. Simpson & Co., Jackson & Armstrong,
and J. Jackson. He held for several years the office
of examining surgeon for pensions under the United
States government. In politics he has always been a
Democrat, taking an active part in the affairs of that
party, and was once a candidate for the State Legis-
lature. He is a member of the order of Freemasons,
also a member of the Presbyterian Church and of the
Fayette County Medical Society. He has been twice
married. One of his sons, Duncan C. Jackson, Esq.,
is a member of the Allegheny County bar; another
son, Dr. John Jackson, is practicing medicine in West

Benjamin Shoemaker, M.D., was born Aug. 9, 1827,
in the city of Philadelphia, and educated at Shade '

Gap Academy, Huntingdon Co., Pa. Having quali-
fied himself to practice dentistry, he came. to Browns-
ville and opened an office for that business in 1856 ;
afterwards studying medicine, he received the degree
of M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1869,
since which he has been engaged jointly in the two
professions. He has been a United States examining
surgeon for pensions for twelve years last past, has
been aschool director and member of the Town Council
for the last six years, is a Freemason, a member of
the Presbyterian Church, and a Republican in poli-
tics ; he is a member of the Fayette County Medical
Society, and of the American Medical Association.

Samuel B. P. Knox, A.M., M.D., son of the late
David S. Knox, Esq., for many years cashier of the
Monongahela Bank of Brownsville, was born in
Brownsville, Feb. 11,1839, and educated in Allegheny
College, at Meadville, Pa., from which institution he
graduated in June, 1860. He attended first course of
medical lectures in the Medical Department of the
University of Pennsylvania during the winter of
1861-62, and while attending second course, in 1862-
63, was, in January of the latter year, commissioned
and mustered into the United States service as assist-
ant surgeon of Forty-ninth Regiment Pennsylvania
Volunteers. In January, 1865, he was promoted to be
surgeon of the same regiment, in which capacity he
served until the end of the war, after which he re-
turned to the University of Pennsylvania, receiving
the degree of M.D. in March, 1866. He began the

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 99 of 193)