Henry E. (Henry Elliot) Shepherd.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Fayette County, and the boroughs and townships of the county :also, portraits and biographies of the governors since 1790, and genealogies,family histor online

. (page 1 of 46)
Online LibraryHenry E. (Henry Elliot) ShepherdNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Fayette County, and the boroughs and townships of the county :also, portraits and biographies of the governors since 1790, and genealogies,family histor → online text (page 1 of 46)
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AND HISTORICAL REFERENCE BOOK OF FAYETTE COUNTY.



435



Carr, John Hamilton, Samuel Johnson and
Ephraim L3'nch being purchasers.

Among the other early settlers acquiring
land in the township were Charles March,
Christian Patterson, Aaron Townsend, Jo-
seph Radcliff, Thomas Cook, Jonathan Hew-
itt, Jacob Harris, Henry Stow, Samuel and
David Luce, Joseph McGara, Wilham Bleak-
ley, Thomas Bleakley, Frederick Browneller,
Peter Reed, John Whitsett, Henry Stone, Sr.,
Job Strawn, Thomas Carson, Samuel Burns.

Among other early settlers who laid the
foundations of the township should be named
Christopher Beeler, Thomas Forsyth, Valen-
tine Secrist, John Tiring, Peter Galley, Henry
Stemmel.

OLD ALLIANCE EURNACE.
It was in that part of the present township
north of the Youghiogheny river that in the
spring of 1798 the first Alliance furnace was
erected west of the Allegheny mountains.
This important enterprise, marking an epoch
in industrial development and expansion, was
carried out by the firm of Turnbull, Marmie
& Co., merchants of Philadelphia, who had
foresight enough to discern the great future
in reserve for the iron manufacturer. William
Turnbull, of this firm, was the largest pur-
chaser in that portion of the township, as now
constituted, which lies north of the river. The
historic furnace is now a melancholy ruin, but
even in its decay is a significant and powerful
reminder of the early evolution of industrial
energy, the obstacles against which it strug-
gled and the marvelous results that it has
achieved since the crude attempts of the ad-
venturous pioneers first assumed definite
form and shape. .

INDUSTRIAL GROWTH.

We have endeavored to present in concise
and accurate form the origin of the township,
23



the character of its first settlers, the general
history of its early days. Let us now turn
to consider its expansion and development
in the light of our own time. The glass
works and potteries of the olden time have
passed away, but the extension of railways
throughout the township on both sides of the
tiver has rendered the glass sand banks and
pottery clay beds accessible to the markets
of Pittsburg and other cities.

The construction of the Pittsburg and Con-
nellsville railroad, now the Pittsburg division
of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, rendered
possible the development of the coal and
coke resources, which has proceeded along
with the opening and operating of the mines
at Star Junction, Whitsett and Wick Haven.

Glass sand and potter's clay shipping, coal
mining and coke manufacturing, farming and
fire brick manufacturing are the present
dominant and active industries of Perry
township. The assessed valuation of the
township in 1899 was $1,490,895.

PERRYOPOLIS.

Perryopolis has one hundred and ten
houses, and contains a population of four
hundred and fifty. It is laid out on the same
general plan as Washington city, and its
name recalls, as has been already intimated,
the hero of the famous victory on Lake Erie
during the second war with England, 1812-
181 5, a struggle in which the navy alone main-
tained, for the most part, the honor and
prestige of the American nation.

PerryopoHs is one mile distant from Fuller
station, on the Pittsburg and Lake Erie rail-
road, and is situated in the northern part of
the township, and near the south bank of the
Youghiogheny river. Perryopolis maintains
a post ofifice, W. E. Stickel being in charge
(1899), two churches, one M. E., erected at



436



NELSON'S BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY



at expenditure of six thousand dollars, and a
Christian church, estimated at one thousand
dollars. It also supports the Washington
flouring mill, which is operated by O. P.
Smith. The medical profession is represented
by Dr. John H. Davidson and Dr. J. E. Whit-
sett. The mercantile interest is maintained
by the Perry Supply Co., D. Stickell, W. H.
Hopkins, H. J. Mossburg, J. C. Murphy and
R. L. Lynch.

VILLAGES.

Layton is a station on the B. & O. R..R.,
thirteen miles from Connellsville. It has
three or four stores and a postoffice. The
population is estimated at about one hundred.
There are several brick works in the vicinity,
and the Fayette Manufacturing Co. con-
ducts its Layton Magnesia brick works near
this point. The magnesia is imported from
Germany. The company employs sixty-three
men, and has a capacity of four thousand
bricks per day. These are the only magnesia
brick works in America.

Banning is a station on the extreme north-
western part of the township on the Balti-
more and Ohio railroad. Its population is
about one hundred, the large store of Judson
Sisler & Bro., and the postoffice is conducted
by Judson Sisler. Opposite Banning and
across the river is Banning station, on the
Pittsburg and Lake Erie railroad.

Whitsett and Wick Haven are railway sta-
tions and mining villages on the P. & L. E.
R. R. Each of them maintains a postoffice.

STAR JUNCTION.

Star Junction is two miles from Perry-
opolis, and is on the Elwell branch of the
Pittsburg and Lake Erie railroad. An old
mill and farm house marked its site as late
as 1893, at which time the Washington Coal
and Coke Co. erected its plant there.

The company owns nearly four thousand



acres of land and operates three thousand
two hundred ovens, requiring the services of
more than four hundred men. Their plant is
one of the most extensive and best equipped
in the county.

Star Junction has nearly four hundred
houses and an estimated population of about
two thousand. It has four churches, M. E.,
Baptist, Christian and Catholic. Dr. James
Cochran is the resident physician. The post-
office was established about 1893. The Star
Supply Co. has twenty clerks in its employ.
Electric light, telegraph and telephone facili-
ties exist.

The company is now completing a new rail-
road along Washington run to the You-
ghiogheny, which will be crossed by a bridge,
and connect with the B. & O. R. R. at Lay-
ton.

Curfew postoffice is two miles distant from
Star Junction and was established in 1887. It
contains four buildings. J. J. Wallace con-
ducts the store and the postoffice.

SCHOOLS.

The schools and teachers in 1900 were as
follows :

Perry, No. I, Miss Frankie Strickler; No.
2, Walter Byers ; Washington Run, No. i.
Miss Allie Moss; No. 2, Miss Ruth Galley;
No. 3, Miss Elma Feuster ; No. 4, Mr. Hay ;
Wick Haven, No. i. Miss Maud Lence ; No.
2, Edward Martin ; Banning, Elmer Arison ;
Kershel, Miss Sabina Forsythe; Layton, P.
L. Mellinger ; West Point, Miss Retta Rowe ;
Pleasant Grove, Miss May Fuller; Summer
Hill, Miss Mary Wright.

POPULATION.

The population at each Federal census
from 1840 to 1890, inclusive, has been as fol-
lows: 1840, 1,350; 1850, 1,272; i860, 1,414;
1870, 1,445; 1880, 1,476; 1890, 1,623.



AND HISTORICAL REFERENCE BOOK OF FAYETTE COUNTY.



437



CHAPTER XIII.



BULLSKIN TOWNSHIP.



The origin of this township dates back to
an early period in the history of Fayette
county, being organized by the Court of
Quarter Sessions in March, 1784. Its original
limits included the present townships of Salt
Lick, Connellsville and a part of Stewart.
There is no trustworthy explanation of the
somewhat unusual name which designates
the township. It is possible that it may have
been introduced by settlers from Virginia to
perpetuate a name familiar in their original
home, and endeared by local association, or
it was possibly a reminiscence of individual
prowess, some one having killed an animal
of colossal size and having preserved the
skin as a trophy. Either explanation is plaus-
ible, and such compound formations are
thoroughly famihar to the student of
language.

Bullskin is the extreme northern township
of the county, its general length from north
to south being about nine miles, or nearly
twice its breadth. Chestnut ridge constitutes
its eastern boundary, Connellsville is on the
south, Tyrone and Westmoreland county on
the west, Westmoreland county also form-
ing the boundary line on the north. The
area of the township is estimated at nearly
24,320 acres, representing a diversity of phy-
sical characteristics, mountainous and undu-
lating, the western section being in the main
adapted to agricultural purposes. The town-
ship is provided with a number of streams,
making a strong water power and affording
ehgible situations for milling or manufactur-
ing.

The township is rich in coal, iron ore, lime-
stone, fire clay and sand from which glass is
manufactured. Distilleries, tanneries, fur-



naces and oil, flour and fulling mills were in
operation up to so recent a date as 1871, at
which time coal mining and coke manufactur-
ing superseded them, becoming the dominant
industries, and they have maintained that po-
sition up to the present period, 1899. Farm-
ing still retains a respectable rank, and glass
and fire brick manufacturing are assuming
considerable importance.

The assessed value of the township in 1899
was $885,985. The population as shown by
the census of 1890 was 3,519, an advance of
787 over the census exhibit of 1880.

EARLY SURVEYS AND PIONEER SETTLERS.

The natural charm and inviting appearance
of the township attracted settlers to it at a
ver}^ early day, and led to controversies
in regard to the ownership of lands at
a time when titles were not assured
and claims not determined. This unsettled
condition led to prolonged Htigation, es-
pecially in the notable instance of the patent
issued by two of the proprietaries under the
conviction that they had a right to dispose of
the soil, and in accordance with this opinion
they made rich and valuable grants to Wil-
liam Robertson, whose claim was success-
fully contested by Ralph Cheny, the Htiga-
tion acquiring an elaborate and complicated
character. Robertson did not succeed in
evicting Cheny, but Cheny did not fully es-
tablish his claim until an exceedingly long
period after he had entered upon its occupa-
tion. In the long list of surveys made within
the township during its early days, there are
seme which extend as far back as 1785 and
1786.

Among those extending back to a very
early period are the surveys of George Batch-
elor and Peter Bucher, William Boyd, Ed-
ward Doyle, Thomas Flemming. A survey



438



NELSON'S BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY



was made for John Cumpton as far back as
1769, the resurvey being made in 1788, and
one for John Stephenson in 1785. John Mc-
Lean's survey was executed in 1787; Chris-
tian Perkey's in 1789. A large proportion of
those who appear in the lists of surveys had
lived for years in the township before any
exact mathematical determination of their
boundaries had been made. Areas and
bounds were defined very vaguely in those
primitive times, and the dividing lines be-
tween some of the States of the Union are at
some points not perfectly ascertained to this
day.

Of those mentioned in the early surveys,
the Cheny, Doyle, Smith, Robertson, Davis,
McKee, Stewart and White famihes were es-
tablished in the township as far back as 1772.
Many of these pioneer settlers disappeared at
a1 an early day, and are probably lost to local
knowledge in the stream of westward emigra-
tion. This is another possible illustration of
the prophecy of the great idealist uttered
many decades ago in regard to the expansion
of the American or Anglo-American race
upon this vast continent, then dimly revealed
and faintly understood as to its infinite pos-
sibilities even by the most cultured intellects
in the European world.

Some of the early settlers have perpetuated
their names in water courses and other nat-
ural features, as Mounts' creek, named in
honor of Providence Mounts, whose home
was upon a tract of land included within the
present township of Connellsville. Mounts
removed to Kentucky, but in his days in Bull-
skin he seems to have been a pioneer in in-
dustrial development, operating a mill at a
very early day. Wool carding seems to have
been carried on at the same place, though
under whose auspices is not entirely clear.



A sturdy, vigorous stock of immigrants
came gradually into the township. Various
nationalities were represented in the compo-
sition of the incomers, the Scotchman and
the Irishman, the plodding German, are all
traceable in the population.

Among those who built up the early for-
tunes of the township may be named William
Robertson, a tenacious and inflexible Scotch-
man, exhibiting in an unusual degree the
characteristic traits of his countrymen ; Graft
Ghost, a German, who had seen service in the
French and Indian — Seven Years' war —
1 755-1 763, and having become acquainted
with the country during his military experi-
ences, settled in Westmoreland county and
pursued his vocation, that of bell-making, ac-
quiring and losing a modest fortune in Con-
tinental money, and beginning the world
afresh, luckily securing a tract of land which
aided him in the restoration of his worklly
prosperity ; William Boyd, who came in from
Virginia, bringing his slaves with him and
leaving a numerous posterity, some of whom
have remained until contemporary times ;
Christian Reist, Pressley Carr Lane, Henry
Freed, Peter Newmeyer, who occupied a
large tract of land near Pennsville, and left a
large number of descendants; John Shank, a
native of Germany, who, establishing himself
first at Hagerstown in the lovely valleys of
western Maryland, and removed to Bullskin;
John Staufifer, John and Joseph Rice, Henry
Lane, Alexander Kelly, a native of Ireland ;
John Troxel, a local preacher of the United
Brethren Church ; Daniel Krider, Abraham
Pershing, George Brothers, John Shupe,
Jacob Eshelman, John Washabaugh, Thomas
Atkinson, Henry Detweiler, Jacob Gault,
John Miner, Thomas Herbert, Henry Zim-
merman, Gustavus Kell. Most of these



AND HISTORICAL REFERENCE BOOK OF FAYETTE COUNTY.



439



transmitted their sturdy virtues to a numer-
ous and vigorous posterity, and by their
agency the township has grown and expand-
ed with increasing power into our own time.
Let us now look at its internal organization
and its material advancement in the light of
the present day.

VILLAGES AND POSTOFFICES.

Its villages, hamlets and postoffices are
briefly described in this sketch :

Pennsville, the oldest village in the town-
ship, is four miles from Connellsville, and
contains a population of more than three
hundred. It has a postoffice, a school build-
ing, containing two (2) rooms, two churches
and a large store conducted by the Pennsville
Coke Company, who operate the Pennsville
Coke Plant of ninety-two ovens. Pennsville
is a station on the Southwest Pennsylvania
railroad.

Mover is three miles distant from Connells-
ville, and derives its name from John Moyer,
who first erected coke ovens at this point. Its
population numbers about five hundred ; it
maintains three stores, conducted by W. J.
Rainey, William Henry and Amos S. Murphy,
who has also been in charge of the postoffice
since June 6, 1898. One of the coke works
of W. J. Rainey is situated at this place. Two
telephone lines pass through Moyer, keeping
it in communication with the great world that
lies beyond it. It has no church facilities and
no resident physician, but these obstacles are
largely counteracted by its convenient access
to the flourishing and progressive town of
Connellsville. The Joseph Soisson Fire
Brick Company has one of their works at
Moyer, which is situated on the line of the
proposed Pittsburg and Connellsville street
railway. Moyer is a station on the S. W.
P. R. R.



Hammondville, laid out September 29,
1891, is in the northern part of the township.
It contains a number of houses, has a church,
two glass works and a postoffice.

Wooddale, also in the northern portion of
the township, maintains two stores, a flouring
mill, a shop and a postoffice, which at this
time is conducted by Almon Christener.

Freed, four miles distant from Wooddale,
has several buildings, a schoolhouse, store
and a post office, established March 12, 1894,
and conducted without change up to the
present time by James L. Freed. Glass sand
and lead ore are found here, and a mineral
vein rich in an ore which has a marked re-
semblance to that of gold.

CHURCHES.

The churches of BuUskin township are:
Pennsville, Baptist ; Fairview, United Breth-
ren of Pershing settlement ; Pennsville,
Christian ; Mt. Olive, U. B. near Detweilder's
mill ; Paradise Evangelical, of Stauf¥er settle-
ment ; Hammondville U. B., and Mt. Pisgah
Evangelical in the northeastern section.

SCHOOLS.

The educational interest is represented by
eighteen (18) school districts: Pennsville, two
rooms; Johnston, two rooms; Gilmore, Rice,
Breakneck, Franklin, Kell, Bear Rock, Belle-
view, Mines, Pleasant Valley, Mud, Gault,
Rich Hill, Southernwood, Ganey, Stauffer
and Ridge View.

POPULATION.

The population by each decennial census
since 1810 has been as follows: 1810, 1,439;
1820, 1,484; 1830, 1,231; 1840, 1,275; 1850,
1,428; i860, 1,523; 1870, 1,657; 1880, 2,732;
1890, 3,519.



440



NELSON'S BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY



CHAPTER XIV.



REDSTONE TOWNSHIP.



Redstone is one of the western townships
of Fayette county, its name being derived
from Redstone creek, one of its principal
water courses. The poHtical organization of
the township dates from 1797, and was the
result of a petition presented by certain citi-
zens of Menallen township, asking for a di-
vison of the township, which was accordingly
decreed at the December term of the court,
and the new township came into existence.

Redstone is bounded on the north by Jef-
ferson, on the south by Menallen and Ger-
man, on the east by Franklin and Menallen,
on the west by Brownsville and Luzerne.

The soil of the township is fertile, and
farming has been the dominant industry for
the last half century. Rich deposits of coal
exist, but they He at a great depth beneath
the surface.

The historic National Road has been a
chief highway through the township for more
than eighty years, and in 1881 the extension
of the lailway along Redstone creek afiforded
additional faciHties for transit and for trade.

The township is richly provided with water
courses, but not more than one or two of
these are capable of being utilized for milling
or manufacturing purposes.

No towns have sprung up along the line of
the pike, and the railway has thus far secured
the erection of no coke works in the town-
ship, nor estabUshed any stations along its
line within the limits of Redstone.

The surface of the country is varying, and
some parts of it hilly. As far back as 1870
wells were sunk in quest of oil, to the depth
of one thousand feet and abandoned
just as their success seemed on the point of
being realized. Paper making and woolen



and flour manufacturing were prosperous in-
dustries from 1796 to 1865. Since that period
farming has constituted the dominant indus-
try, while the depth of the coal interfered
seriously with its development, which at last,
however, seems well assured.

Cook's Mills, in the northern part, and on
Redstone creek, is still in operation, while
Linn railway station in the northwestern sec-
tion has been removed to Jefiferson township.

There is but one postofifice in the town-
ship, Davidson, on the National Road, es-
tablished in August, 1897, and named in
honor of A. W. Davidson, a member of the
firm of A. W. Davidson & Co., who has re-
mained in charge of the office up to the pres-
ent time. Davidson maintains a general
store, feed mill, hall, schoolhouse and black-
smith shop.

EARLY SETTLEMENT.

The beginning of the settlement of the
territory now constituting Redstone town-
ship seems to have been made at points west
and south of the center, but there is apparent-
ly no marked variation in regard to time be-
tween settlements planted in that portion of
the township and in that extending along the
line of Redstone creek. Among the very
earliest settlers permanently established in
Redstone, perhaps absolutely the first, was
George Kroft, the progenitor of the widely-
diffused and numerous Craft family of Fay-
ette county, the name having been Anglicized
as to its orthography, a practice that has
obtained in many cases, and whicli will sug-
gest themselves to the reader of history and
the student of genealogy. Kroft found his
way to America in the capacity of a "re-
demptioner," that is, one who sold himself to
earn his passage — a means of crossing the
ocean not uncommon in those early days.



AND HISTORICAL REFERENCE BOOK OF FAYETTE COUNTY.



441



Man)' similar cases may be discovered in the
history of the colonial times. After several
vicissitudes of fortune, he secured some estate,
and discovering in Fayette county what he
regarded as an auspicious region for promot-
ing his material prosperity, he "tomahawked"
a claim to a tract of eight hundred acres, in-
cluded within the limits of what now consti-
tutes Redstone township. His tract lay near
the site of Dunlap's Creek church, and near
that point in the solitude of the forest prime-
val he erected his humble cabin. His nearest
neighbor was nine miles away in another
township. In his complete isolation he may
have experienced the sentiment attributed by
the poet to the prototype of Robinson Cru-
soe — Alexander Selkirk. Kroft was, how-
ever, not depressed by his physical isolation,
but rose probably above his environment.
He was endowed with a progressive spirit,
fitted to contend with the crudeness and
hardness of an undeveloped and unknown re-
gion. He went to and fro for such com-
niodities as salt, and brought from the then
remote eastern Maryland apple trees, whose
culture and development he wonderfully pro-
moted. He passed to his rest in 1806, leav-
ing four sons to inherit the hardy primitive
virtues of the pioneer in Redstone township.
A long list might be given of these early
settlers in the township, who contended
against the crafty and savage Indian, and
against the forces of unreclaimed nature.
Among these may be named Isaac Ratclifife,
a Friend or Quaker, one of the earlier fol-
lowers of the blacksmith's art in the town-
ship, who, however, tarried only for a time.
In this list stands the name of William Col-
vin, a trader in the miscellaneous and multi-
plex form so common in those days before
specialization of labor and trade had become
an accomplished fact ; he appears in the town-



ship as early as 1768, but removed in 1771
from this region, probably intimidated by the
dread of Indian incursion or assault. Some
of his descendants, however, have been resi-
dents of the township within our own time.

The establishment of the Finley family in
Redstone constitutes almost an epoch in the
early history of the township. About 1765
Rev. James Finley, a Presbyterian clergyman
from Cecil county, in eastern Maryland, came
into Southwestern Pennsylvania, having an
mind a two-fold aim and object — the explora-
tion of the country, then practically unknown
in the east, with a view to establishing an
eligible home for his sons, and the preaching
of the gospel to such settlers as had already
been planted in this unrevealed western land.
He is supposed to have been the first regular
minister of the gospel who had crossed oyer
to the solitudes of western Pennsylvania. He
was accompanied by Philip Tanner, a fuller
by trade, who also was in quest of an attrac-
tive and available home. Mr. Finley visited
thi' country again in 1767 and in 1768, preach-
ing the gospel, and acquiring the love and
regard of the people, and at the same time
enduring hard times as a soldier, struggling
with the wilderness, and gaining manliness,
self-reliance and self-control in the encounter
with untamed nature in her own dominion.
His struggfes ripened into an attachinent for
the region in which they had been endured,
and the discipline of hardship, together with
a native devotion to rural life, induced him to
purchase an extensive tract of land within the
limits of the townships of Redstone, Menal-
len and German, as they are now constituted.
This was in 1771, and in 1772 he returned to
his newly acquired home, bringing with him
his son, Ebenezer, then a lad in his teens,
several negro slaves and a farm hand named
Samuel Finlev, who was not his kinsman.



442



NELSON'S BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY



The fuller, Philip Tanner, who accompanied



Online LibraryHenry E. (Henry Elliot) ShepherdNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Fayette County, and the boroughs and townships of the county :also, portraits and biographies of the governors since 1790, and genealogies,family histor → online text (page 1 of 46)