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Genealogical and personal history of Fayette county, Pennsylvania (Volume 2) online

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read a few simple sentences. In the summer
of 1858 Rev. Elias Green taught a subscrip-
tion school at New Geneva and boarded with
the child's parents. He was a very kind man,
with a great love for children. He soon over-
came the boy's timidity and induced him to
go to sciiool. McGufifey's Second Reader and
Cobb's Spelling Book and later a simple
child's geography and writing were added.
Before the term of five months had closed
he could read and spell quite glibly, and
knew much of the reader by heart.

A few years after this his parents moved
from the suburbs of the town to another
house on the hill, on the road leading to
Crow's Mill and Morris X. Roads. When
he was about fourteen or fifteen years old
John G. Hertig bought and moved on to a
small farm in Nicholson township, about a
mile distant. Hertig was a Frenchman, who
graduated in Switzerland at the age of fif-
teen, and came to Fayette county, Pennsyl-
vania, when about nineteen years old. He
was well known in Fayette county as a
teacher and as a man of vigorous intellect,
with a most tenacious memory. He was a
fine scholar and perhaps the greatest math-
ematician who has ever lived in Fayette coun-
ty. Mr. Hertig taught the Pleasant Hill win-
ter school for a number of years, and Peter
H. was fortunate to become one of his pu-
pils. Under the instruction of this master
mind he laid a thorough foundation in the
branches then required in the public schools,
especially in grammar and arithmetic. He
afterward attended Georges Creek Academy
at Smithfield, under the class instruction of
Professors Gilbert and Ross. It should be
said that he was one of the victims of that
most malignant typhoid fever in the fall of
1858, causing the death of his father and two
brothers. His recovery was in doubt for
many weeks and his memory was somewhat
impaired thereby.

He married, Alarcli 31, 1861, Eliza, daugh-
ter of Jesse and Elizabeth (Case) Pound-
stone. Her grandparents. Nicholas and
Elizabeth (Everly) Poundstone, were among
the eirly settlers in Nicholson township.

After marriage they first moved in with his
mother (then a widow) and managed the
homestead for one year; then moved to an-
other farm, a part of his father's estate,
which he purchased. In the winter of 1860-
61 he taught the Pleasant Hill school, where
he had been a pupil under John G. Hertig.
He was examined by Joshua V. Gibbons, the
first county superintendent of Fayette coun-
ty, but at this time he had no idea of follow-
ing teaching.

Being raised on a farm and always loving
the free, outdoor life with nature, he expected
to confine his life work to that sphere. But
a mere and common incident changed some-
what the after current of his life. In a few
years after his marriage he sold his farm in
Nicholson township and bought a farm in
German township, near Middle Run, to
which he moved. When the time for the em-
ployment of teachers came the teacher for
the Middle Run school had not been sup-
plied. Some of the directors and citizens per-
suaded him to teach the school. From this
time forward his services as a teacher were
in demand, and thus it was he became a con-
firmed pedagogue; but except for a short
time, when he lived at McClellandtown, he
taught subscription school as well as the
regular winter term.

In the spring of 1868, having sold his Mid-
dle Run farm, he purchased a farm in Nichol-
son township on Jacob's creek, to which he
moved, and he continued teaching with farm-
ing. For a number of years he was prmcipal
of the Geneva schools. In 1891 he taught his
last school and retired from the profession,
somewhat broken in health. His teaching
covered thirty years. His most excellent
Christian wife died November 6, 1892. She
was a faithful and devout member of the
Greensboro Baptist church. She was buried
in Cedar (irove cemetery, near New Geneva.
In the following spring, most of his children
having grown and gone, he sold his farm,
stock and implements and moved to Mount
Pleasant, Westmoreland county, Pennsyl-
vania, where he lived one year, going thence
to Uniontown, where he has since resided.

In February, 1896, he took up a valuable
field of coal lands in Redstone township, on
Dunlap's creek, and held by renewals until it
was sold. Since February, 1902, he has been
secietary and treasurer of the Short Line

. K/ ^^/t-t^c^^t^



Fuel Company, a West \'irginia corporation,
and chartered (it is simply a large holding;
not an operating company). In the spring of
191 1 he moved into his new home, a tine
brick house, on Woodlawn aveitXie. In 1855
Mr. Franks united with the iMount Moriah
Baptist church at Smithfield, under the pas-
torate of Jesse j\I. Purinton, D. D., the father
of Dr. D. B. Purinton, a former president of
West Virginia University, and remains stead-
fast in the faith of his fathers. For m^ny
years a Democrat, but later independent,
voting for McKinley and Roosevelt, but ut-
terly opposed to the saloon business and a
strong advocate of temperance.

On January 3, 1900, he married (second)
Elizabeth S., daughter of Alexander and
Harriet (Campbell) Conn, of Steubenville,
Ohio. Her father was a most highly respect-
ed and influential citizen of that city. He was
a personal friend of Edwin M. Stanton, the
great war secretary under Lincoln, and was
appointed to a position in the commissary
department. The Campbells have been prom-
inent in the early and later history of Union-

Charles Boyle Franks, only son of Michael
W. Franks, was born near New Geneva,
Nicholson township, Fayette county,. Penn-
sylvania, July 29, 1867. He obtained his
primary education at the Pleasant Hill school
m Nicholson township, then entered the In-
stitute at JNIount Pleasant, Pennsylvania,
whence he was graduated, class of 1887. He
returned to the home fatm one year, then
having attained his majority began business
iife working for the Union Supply Company
at Valley Works, as clerk in the retail store,
remaining until July i, 1890, when he entered
the employ of the H. C. Frick Coke Company,
at Mammoth, Westmoreland county, as ship-
ping clerk. On February i, 1891, he was pro-
moted to assistant superintendent at Mammoth,
under Superintendent Fred. C. Keithly. On
()ctober i, 1891. his chief resigned, and Mr.
Franks was appointed superintendent of the
]\lannnoth plant. He continued there tmtil
February, igoo, as superintendent, then was
transferred to Leisenring No. i as superin-
tendent of the coke works and coal mines
there l)elonging to the H. C. Frick Coke
Company, and still continues in that position.
He is, as all the Franks have always been, a
strong Democrat, and has for the past ten

years served continuously as school director.
In 1909 he represented Fayette county at the
State School Directors Convention held in
Harrisburg. It was through his influence and
cftort that the first township high school in
Fayette county was established at Leisenring
No. 1 in 1907. Outside his business, there is"
nothing in which Mr. Franks is more deeply
interested than in providing adequate fa-
cilities for the education of the youth of his
county. He is a member of the Baptist
church, as is his wife.

In May, 19 12, he represented his party at
the Democratic State Convention at Harris-
burg. His private business interests are in
undeveloped coal lands, and he is a director
of the Union National Bank of Connellsville.

He married, October 11, 1895, Sarah
Elizabeth P(jllins, born in Westmoreland
county, Pennsylvania, July 30, 187 1, daugh-
ter of Jesse Pollins, a farmer and native of
Westmoreland county. Child: Jesse Pollins
Franks, born April 29, 1897.

The Pershings of Mount
PERSHING Pleasant, Pennsylvania, de-
scend from Frederick
Ploerschmg, born in 1724 in Alsace, France
(now Germany), three-fourths of a mile from
the river Rhine. The name in French means
milk; in Germany, peach, which is also the
Anglo-Saxon word. After the arrival in
America the name was anglicized to Pershin,
and in 1838 Isaac Pershin added the final g,
as now used вАФ Pershing.

(I) Frederick Pershmg learned the weav-
er's art, making coverlets of all grades, from
the lightest to the heaviest weaves. He also
understood the making of saltpetre and gun-
powder. He was ambitious, and, foreseeing
the greater possibilities of the new world,
also being subject to persecution for his re-
ligion, he came to America. He took passage
at Amsterdam in May, 1749, coming via Liv-
erpool, England, in the sailship "Jacob,"
commanded by Captain Adolph De Grove,
and after a stormy voyage of five months ar-
rived at Baltimore, Maryland. (Penn. Ar-
chives, 2d series, vol. xvii., p. 300). He had
taken passage as a "redemptioner," as did a
large majority of the emigrants of that period.
After landing at Baltimore he entered into a
contract with Captain De Grove and a Balti-
more merchant whereby he was to work three



years to pay for his passage, the term of ser-
vice in such cases being determined by the
length of time consumed on the voyage, the
cost of Hving and the vahie of the passenger's
services to his employer. On account of the
faithful performance of his contract and his
valuable service the merchant considered he
had been sufficiently compensated for the
money advanced Captain De Grove, and re-
leased Frederick Pershing at the end of
twenty-one months, when he could have ex-
acted the full three years' service. He then
began working at his trade, and prospered
so abundantly that in a few years he pur-
chased a small farm in Frederick county,
Maryland. About this time he married a
German lady of Baltimore, Elizabeth Wyant
(German, Weyand). They lived on the Fred-
erick county farm until 1773, during which
period their five sons and three daughters
were born. In 1773, being ambitious for
greater possessions to supply the needs of his
large family, and in advance of the first Gos-
pel messenger that crossed the Alleghanies
and only four years after Penn's treaty with
the Indians and purchase of land from the
Iroquois, he started westward. He traveled
on foot, carrying a knapsack over the Alle-
ghany mountains and through the dense
forests filled with wild beasts that lurked
everywhere to do him harm. In fourteen
days he reached the headwaters of Nine Mile
Run, so called because the mouth of the run
is nine miles from Fort Ligonier, in what is
now Unity township, Westmoreland county,
Pennsylvania. There, amid the finest of oak
timber, he took "tomahawk" possession of
two hundred and sixty-nine acres of land.
There was no county court, no court officers,
no assessors or tax collectors, until Hannas-
town, ten miles away, was established. It
was not until after the revolution and Penn-
sylvania became a commonwealth that he
received a patent for his land, as recorded in
patent book 17, p. 107: "Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania to Frederick Pershing, Septem-
ber 21, 1789, for tomahawk possession, a
tract of land called Coventry, on the Nine
Mile Run, containing two hundred and sixty-
nine acres, more or less." This tract of land
was for several generations conveyed from
father to son. The county records show that
for one hundred and twenty years it was the
only farm in the county that was never in

orphans' court or sheriff's hands, nor were
any of the owners of said land in any litiga-
tion or lawsuit. Here he built a round log
cabin of one large room, with "stick" chim-
ney, clapboard roof poled on with hickory
withes, a "puncheon" floor, hewed door with
wooden hinges, not a nail used in the con-
struction, and without glass windows. The
cabin being finished, he began clearing out
the undergrowth and "ringing" the trees
over five acres of his tract. He then sowed it
in rye and returned to Maryland. In the
spring of 1774 he came again to the home in
the wilderness, bringing his family. During
the winter the deer had eaten every stalk of
the rye, but the forest abounded in game,
furnishing meat for the family, while the
pelts were exchanged for corn and rye meal,
so that hunting and trapping the wild an-
imals was not only sport for the father and
sons, but also profitable. On one ocasion
Mr. Pershing came near losing his life in
an encounter with, a bear. His rifle, yet pre-
served in the family, plainly shows the marks
of the bear's teeth. Fort Ligonier was four-
teen miles away, and the nearest cabin was
three miles distant. Indians were plentiful,
although the Pershings were never molested,
as their home was somewhat secluded and at
the greatest distance from the usual camping
places of the Indians along the Conemaugh
river on the east and the Youghiogheny on
the west. The work of clearing the farm rap-
idly progressed, crops were grown, herds of
cattle appeared, among which deer were of-
ten found and easily killed, furnishing, with
other game, an abundant table. The work
was laborious, the hardships many, and in
1778 the father, who was never known to
have had a day's sickness in his life, broke
beneath the strain, was stricken with fever
and in a few days died. There was no physi-
cian to be had, as at that period they were
found only in the more thickly settled com-
munities. He was in his fifty-fourth year,
and is described as of large, stout build,
broad shoulders, ruddy complexion, face of
large French type, large nose and a heavy
head of hair inclined to be curly. His four
sons and a neighbor made his coffin from a
split white oak log, the larger half hollowed
out, the smaller half forming the lid. He was
buried in the Smith graveyard, one mile west
of the old Pershing home. There, forty-six



years later, in 1824, his wife, Elizabeth, who
ever remained his widow, was laid by his
side, aged ninety-six years, having been born
in Germany in 1728. Both were baptized
members of the Lutheran church, and lived
consistent Christian hves. Elizabeth came to
America the same year as her husband, but
by another ship. Their youngest son, Abra-
ham, died in Maryland, aged two years.
Christian, the eldest son, remained on the
farm, which he inherited and which passed
to his son, Henry J. Pershing. Two others
of the sons of the emigrant, Revs. Conrad
and Daniel Pershing, entered the ministry.

Rev. Conrad, the third son, was a minister
of the United Brethren church, but before
his death changed to the Methodist faith. He
was in Captain Campbell's company in 1792
at the time of his last expedition against the
Indians. They found an Indian camp and
formed a plan to attack it at 3 o'clock in the
morning, and slay them before they could
awake and defend themselves. Rev. Conrad
did not like this plan, as it seemed too much
like murder. He asked Captain Campbell to
allow him to lead in prayer for Divine direc-
tion. After some parleying they all knelt
upon the ground, and Rev. Pershing began
his prayer slowly and quietly, but soon be-
came so earnest that his voice was raised to
so loud a pitch that Captain Campbell inter-
fered, fearing the Indians might be aroused.
He quieted somewhat, but soon became
louder than ever in his supplications, when he
was peremptorily ordered to cease praying.
When the attack was made later, to his glad
surprise, the camp was deserted. Whether a
spy from the Indian camp or the loud pray-
ing had given the alarm is not known; how-
ever, they had flown, leaving their camp
equipage, and never again molested that
neighborhood. Of the second son nor the
daughters of Frederick Pershing have we any

(II) Rev. Daniel Pershing, fourth son of
Frederick and Elizabeth (Wyant) Pershing,
was born in Frederick county, Maryland,
June 4, 1764, died in Derry township, West-
moreland county, Pennsylvania, September
28, 1838. He was ten years of age when
brought by his parents to the forest home in
(now) Unity township, Westmoreland coun-
ty, and fourteen years of age when his father
died, consequently his early life was one of

toil, privation and adventure. He never at-
tended other than nature's school, but re-
ceived his only education in his own home
with his brothers and sisters, taught by a
pious, educated mother in the German lan-
guage. After their father's death the sons
nobly remained with their mother. The farm
not yet being sufificiently clear to support the
family of eight, the sons erected a saw mill,
run by water power, flaxseed oil mill and
later a home-made "burr" flouring mill.
W^hen Daniel was twenty-one years of age
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a hamlet of
ten to twelve houses. In 1796, at the age of
twenty-two years, he married, and in 1801,
with his family of three children, moved to
Derry, the adjoining township. All his be-
longings, wife and youngest child, Isaac,
were taken in a one-horse wagon, the road
being through deep woods all the way. He
was a carpenter, stonemason, plasterer and
weaver, having been taught the latter art in
early life by his father and brother. In their
Derry home economy was the watchword.
The simplest food, pork, with an occasional
saddle of venison, being the only meat. Their
farm supplied the corn and rye used in the
bread and pone. The girls wore homespun
and Hnsey woolseys, the boys buckskin
breeches, linen shirts, home-made wamuses
and hunting jackets; for the summer, home-
made straw hats; for the winter, coonskin
caps. Frequently the father and sons would
arise in the night and with their guns drive
wolves from the sheep fold.

Daniel Pershing was always deeply reUg-
ious, and had a deep desire to preach the
Gospel. He made such preparations as he
could, and on August 13, 1816, at Mount
Pleasant Quarterly Conference of the Meth-
odist Episcopal church, was licensed to
preach. His authority is signed "Christopher
Foye, presiding elder." This 'license was re-
newed January 24, 1 81 8, by Asa Shinn, pre-
siding elder. On March 2J. 1818, he was
elected and ordained to deacon's orders by
the Baltimore Annual Conference, his papers
being signed by Bishop Benjamin Waugh.
On September 6, 1819, he was ordained to
elder's orders at Baltimore, signed by Bishop
R. R. Roberts. His family record, ministerial
record, book of sermons, licenses, library,
arm chair and writing desk are preserved in



the family of Professor A. N. Pershing, at
Crreensburg, Pennsylvania.

He was a good penman, and his writings
show that he acquired a fair degree of schol-
arship. The following words copied from the
first page of his "JMinisterial Record" were
written by him January 26, 1836, not long be-
fore his death: "In the year of our Lord
1799, in the month of February, I attached
myself to the Methodist Episcopal church,
and on December 29, 1799, as an humble pen-
itent, I sought the Lord with my whole heart;
God spake peace to my soul and put me in
evidence of pardon through the merits of
Jesus Christ." He wrote both in German and
English, and preached in both languages;
better in German than in English. He trav-
eled and preached as far south as Union-
town, as far north as there were people to
listen, east to the Alleghanies and west to the
Ohio line. His salary was as low as thirty-
six dollars yearly, and never exceeded two
hundred, paid in pounds, shillings and pence.
He always traveled on horseback, with sad-
dle bags in which he carried religious books
for sale, and always carried a rifle, that being
as much a part of these itinerant circuit rid-
ing ministerial heroes as their Bibles. He
was absent from home for months at a time,
where he is remembered as being very
methodical in his ways, strictly pious in his
family, exacting in little things, even forbid-
ding whistling on the Sabbath Day. After
more than a score of years in the ministry of
the Gospel, traveling thousands of miles
through sunshine and storm, he pillowed his
weary head in death, surrounded by his fam-
ily, leaving sweet benediction upon all in his
last moments. Tired and weary with the
march of life, he sleeps, but not forever, "on
the hill" that overlooks the surrounding
country for many miles. Three acres of
ground now constitute a beautiful burying
ground, one acre of which was given by him
in his will. In 1880 it was chartered by the
legislature of Pennsylvania as the Pershing
Cemetery. He was somewhat averse to hav-
ing a monument placed over his remains, his
spirit being of the humblest kind. A few
moments before he died he said: "The Lord
buried INIoses, and did not dig his grave; yet
the Lord knows where his grave is; and in
like manner he will know where my grave is."
Nevertheless a suitable monument, beautiful-

ly inscribed, marks the resting place of one
of the heralders of the coming "Resurrection
Morning," when every generation of Adam's
race will meet in reunion of thanksgiving and
overarch the Great White Throne in anthems
of praise. A description of Rev. Daniel
Pershing says: "Mostly a 'shadbelly' coat
and broad-brimmed hat of the Quaker style
and a stufifed 'stock' for a necktie. He always
went clean shaven, and neither parted his
hair in the middle or elsewhere. His face was
more lengthy than round, very high forehead,
with a large mole on the side of his nose."
He married, January 26, 1796, Christena
Milliron, born in Indiana county, Pennsyl-
vania, February 2, 1777, died January 21,
1863, surviving her husband twenty-five

(Ill) Abraham, eldest son of Rev. Daniel
and Christena (Milliron) Pershing, was born
near Lycippus, Westmoreland county, Penn-
sylvania, November 2, 1796. His birthplace
was the origmal "tomahawk" claim taken up
by his grandfather, Frederick Pershing, in
ij/^. He was five years of age when his pa-
rents moved to Derry township, where he
grew to manhood. In 1820 he received from
his wife's father eighty acres of land near the
iron bridge on Jacob's creek, and in 1828 he
purchased the farm nearby, on which he after-
ward lived and died. His first home was a
log house in which he lived until 1845, then
replaced it with a commodious brick resi-
dence. He served as justice of the pence four
terms of five years each, and so just and legal-
ly correct were his decisions that he was never
reversed. He was more of a peacemaker than
a justice, and many were the reconciliations
he eftected between would-be litigants. He
was an authority on land titles, and was fre-
quently summoned to attend at the county
seat as a witness in the proceedings necessary
to settle estates. His testimony was rendered
verv valuable by his knowledge of dates, and
agreements of boundaries of days long past.
In 1823 he was a member of the Mount Pleas-
ant RiHes, the first unifornii militia company
in Westmoreland or Fayette counties, his
brother, Isaac Pershing, being captain. He
was a member of the United Brethren church
for sixty years, and for fifty years superin-
tendent of the Sunday school. In politics he
was a L)emocr.-it, but never held other office
than justice of the peace.



He married, in 1820, Barbara, daughter of
John Troxell, at Iron Bridge, on Jacob's
creek. Isaac Persliing, brother of Abraham,
married Frances, a sister of Barbara Troxell.
In 1823, Abraham and wife were housekeep-
ing above the Iron Bridge across Greenlick
creek, which flows into Jacob's creek just a
few rods above the Iron Bridge in Bullskin
township, Fayette county, where they resided
until 1828, then moved to their farm at Ham-
mondville. Children: i. Ann Crider, mar-
ried Jacob Myers; at her marriage her father
gave her forty acres of land on which the vil-
lage of Bradenville now stands in part; this
forty acres was part of the division of land
made by Isaac Pershing, brother of Abraham,
after the death of their father. Rev. Daniel
Pershing. 2. John, married Elizabeth Ham-
mond; their son, James H. Pershing, resides
in Denver, Colorado. John Pershing was
third sergeant and served five, years with the
Mount Pleasant cavalry company, the first
and only uniformed cavalry company of West-
morelimd or Fayette counties. It had its ex-
'stence from 1855 to i860, and was recruited
in both Fayette and Westmoreland counties.
His father and Uncle Isaac Pershing were
members of the Mount Pleasant Rifles, a foot
company, Isaac being the captain. 3. Daniel
H., of whom further. 4. Isaac, went west to
the "gold country" in 1859, died unmarried
in 1895, having only once returned to visit
his family and the scenes of his childhood.
-Abraham Pershing, the father of these chil-
dren, died in 1879, his wife, Barbara, in 1856
stricken by apoplexy while passing from the

Online LibraryJohn Woolf JordanGenealogical and personal history of Fayette county, Pennsylvania (Volume 2) → online text (page 50 of 57)