Canton Twp. (pp. 686-690)

History of Washington County, Pennsylvania*

CANTON was erected from parts of the territory of the townships of Morris, Hopewell, Strabane, and Chartiers, but it was not, as was often the case, the large extent of any one of these that caused the reduction of their areas and the formation of the new township. A petition was presented for the erection of Canton township to the Court of Quarter Sessions of Washington County in 1791, which was granted on the 10th of June in that year, erecting the township of Canton with limits which remained unchanged until 1853, when a portion of its territory was taken off to form a part of Franklin township. Following is a list of persons who were and have been appointed and elected to the office of justice of the peace (1) in Canton Township, viz.:
William Slemmens, Nov. 1, 1795
Jonathan Leet, Jan. 2, 1802
Joseph Irons, April 2, 1803
James White, April 14, 1840
John Brownlee, April 14, 1840
Samuel K. Weirich, April 15, 1845
George W. Boyd, April 15, 1845
Robert R. Reed, April 11, 1848
Hervey N. Clark, April 10, 1849
Alexander G. Marshman, April 14,
    1863; May 30, 1868
A. S. Engleson, April 28, 1873; Jan.
    16, 1874; March 25, 1878

(1) From the erection of the township in 1791 to 1803 it was under the jurisdiction of the justices of the district from which it was taken. In the latter year it was united with Buffalo in District No. 2, and remained in that district until 1838, when it became an independent district.

Settlements - Zachariah Pumphrey received a Virginia certificate, dated at Coxe's Fort, Feb. 22, 1780, certifying that he is "entitled to four hundred acres of land in the county of Ohio, on Shirtees' Creek, to include his actual settlement made in the year 1774." It was surveyed in the year 1785, as containing three hundred and fifty-three and three-eighths acres. On this land he lived till about 1795, but in the meant time sold parts of it to Abram Swearingen, Abram Robertson, John Ferguson, Isaac Leet, Jr., James Young, and Isaac Warrich. In 1795 he had sold the entire tract. This tract was in Strabane township until Canton was erected in 1791, when it became a part of that township. On this farm was located the old Razortown (of which but little is known), before the county of Washington was erected. Later the small parcels were purchased and again became mostly in one tract, and were known respectively as the Wylie, Kelly, and Montgomery farm. It forms now the fine and productive farm of Gen . John Hall.

William Johnston was in this territory as early as 1778, and in January, 1780, he received a Virginia certificate for a tract of land "situate on the waters of Chartiers Creek." It was surveyed as "Johnston", and contained three hundred and ninety-one acres; patent for it was obtained Nov. 20, 1786. In April of this year he was appointed justice of the peace and of the Court of Common Pleas. On the 6th of May 1795, he sold to Nathaniel Mitchell two hundred and one acres. William Johnston had two sons, John and Robert. John married a Miss Noble, but left no descendants. Robert married Grizella Pollock. They had twelve children, namely: Mary, Jane, Nancy, John, William, Martha, Margaret, Grizella (lst), Grizella (2nd), Robert and Samuel.

Mary married John McMillan, and settled in Chartiers township. Jane married Barclay McLain and located in Buffalo township. Nancy became the wife of Robert Patterson, and moved to Beaver County, PA. John married three times; first, Margaret Taggart; second, Ann McClelland; third, Rebecca Brownlee. William married Mary McLain, and settled in Mount Pleasant township. Martha married John Hammond, and emigrated to Belmont County, Ohio. Margaret and Grizella both died young. The next daughter (also named Grizella) married David Morrow, and now resides in the township. Robert married Isabella McConnaughey, and resides on the old homestead.

Nathaniel Mitchell came to this country in 1795, and on the 6th of May in that year purchased two hundred and one acres of William Johnson, and on the 4th of June the same year bought one hundred acres of land of William and James Bailey, a part of a tract named "Labrador" on the head-waters of Brush Run, which had been granted to Henry Martin on a Virginia certificate. From 1799 to 1828 he purchased several other tracts, amounting to nearly four hundred acres, in the vicinity. James, son of Nathaniel, married Elizabeth Irwin, by whom he had six children - Jennie, Margaret, David, John, Ann, and Elizabeth. Jennie never married. Margaret married Samuel McConnaughey; they had four children - James, Joseph, David and Margaret; the latter became the wife of John Hodgins. David, a son of Nathaniel Mitchell, married Ann Hatcher of Ohio. John, brother of David, married Rachel St. Clair; moved to Indiana. Ann became the wife of Eleazer Brownlee, and moved to Ohio. Elizabeth married James Pollock, and emigrated to Ohio.

Enoch Dye emigrated from the eastern part of the State to what is now Washington County about 1778, and settled upon a tract of land for which he obtained a Virginia certificate Dec. 16, 1779. It was surveyed to him on 25th of January 1786. It contained three hundred and ninety-three acres, and was named "Spencer", and at the time of survey was adjoining lands of John Leman, Richard Yeates, David Irwin, David Clark, and James Leet. He married Rebecca, the daughter of Isaac Leet. Their children were Daniel, Enoch, Isaac, William, Elizabeth, Sarah, Susan and others. Daniel married Jane McIntyre, and emigrated to Licking, Ohio, with a large family about 1815. Enoch, who married Mary McIntyre, was killed by the fall of a tree. Isaac married Margaret Clidellen, and settled in Canton township where he died. William died when a young man. Elizabeth became the wife of William Thompson. Their descendants are now in the township and in Canonsburg. Sarah married Samuel Crawford and emigrated to Ohio. Susan became the wife of Samuel Carruthers, and removed to Mansfield, Ohio.

Samuel Prigg, a native of Lancaster County, PA., emigrated to Washington County and purchased lands of Enoch Dye, whose daughter Hetty he married. There were two block-houses on the tract, which were about one hundred and fifty yards apart, to which the settlers were in the habit of gathering. Samuel Prigg settled on this land and lived and died there, leaving five sons and two daughters, namely, John, Robert, William, Enoch, James, Margaret, and Rebecca, who are all living with the exception of Robert. John married Jane Dye; they left no descendants; Robert married Mary A. Bell, by whom he had two children, Hamilton and Hetty; the former lives in Kansas; the latter became the wife of Joseph McDaniels of this county; William married Rebecca Mountz; Enoch married Matilda McDaniels; James married Caroline Mountz.

Of the daughters of Samuel Prigg, Margaret became the wife of Daniel Dye, The above all reside in the township except Robert, who is deceased.

Rebecca became the wife of Isaac Cooper, and moved to Waynesburg, Greene Co., PA, where they now reside.

John Leman emigrated from Ireland to this country, and settled for some years in Chester County. About 1779 emigrated with his family to what soon after became Washington County, and took up land, for which he received a Virginia certificate Feb. 18, 1780. This tract was surveyed April 11, 1785, as "Care," and contained three hundred and forty-nine acres. At the time of the survey it was adjoining lands of Robert Stockton, James Brownlee, and other lands of Leman. The other land here mentioned was a tract named "Leman Grove", to which he received a patent March 3, 1786. He sold a few years later one hundred acres of "Leman Grove" to James Latimore. He died in the summer of 1794, and left a widow, five daughters and no sons. The daughters were Jane, Margaret, Martha, Sarah, Isabella and Mary. Jane became the wife of James Brownlee, and settled in Franklin township; Margaret married William Brownlee, and also settled in Franklin; Martha married Ludowyck McCarroll, and settled near Hickory, in Mount Pleasant township; Sarah married James Latimore, who purchased a part of the "Leman Grove" tract in 1793; Isabella remained single; Mary, the youngest daughter, married first a Mr. Stuart; they had one daughter, Isabella. After the death of Mr. Stuart she became the wife of Thomas Patterson, of Mount Pleasant, who died soon after, and she became the wife of James Ridgway, and settled on property adjoining land of Thomas Patterson.

Adam and Robert Wylie, who were of Scotch-Irish descent, settled in what is now Canton township about 1784, Adam on the farm now owned by Samuel Taggert. He patented three hundred and thirty-nine acres lying on the road from Washington to Charlestown, now Wellsburg. On the 13th of January 1802, he sold one hundred and forty acres to his son, Adam, who was a physician, and married a Miss Biers, after which he removed to Ripley, Ohio. Andrew, son of Adam, became a minister of the Presbyterian Church, married a daughter of Craig Ritchie, of Canonsburg, and was appointed president of Jefferson College, at Canonsburg, and at the same time had the care of the Pigeon Creek Congregation. He removed from this county to near Indianapolis, Ind., where he died. William, also a son of Adam, married Hetty, a daughter of the Rev. Joseph Smith. He also became a minister of the Presbyterian Church, and was settled as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Wheeling, West Virginia, where he died. John Wylie, another son of Adam, married Margaret Watt. Of the daughters, Mary married Matthew Duncan, Jane married Andrew Duncan, and Elizabaeth became the wife of Robert Tweed.

Matthew Morrow emigrated to Dauphin County with his father, and in 1791 came to this country, and on the 10th of May the same year received a warrant for a tract of land on the waters of Buffalo Creek, in Canton township. This tract, named "Zapula", was surveyed March 7, 1785, as eighty-four acres, to William Meetkirk, as administrator for Jesse Dements. It was, however, patented to Matthew Morrow, May 10, 1799. He also purchased land of William Slemmens on the 28th of September 1807. He married Elizabeth, a daughter of Samuel Weir, by whom he had seven sons and five daughters, namely, Samuel, Thomas, John, James, William, David, Adam, Lavina, Catharine, Jane, Ann and Elizabeth. Mary became the wife of William Kyle, and emigrated to Harrison County, Ohio. Samuel married Maria McCombs, and settled in Wayne County, Ohio. Lavina married Robert Taggert, and also settled in Ohio. Thomas married Mary Genet, and moved Wayne County, Ohio. John, Ann and James all lived and died unmarried. Jane became the wife of Robert Gailey, and settled in Union township; William married Eliza McClay, daughter of Samuel, and settled in Canton township. Elizabeth died in infancy. David married Grisella Johnson, and now lives in the township. His only daughter became the wife of Hamilton, and also lives in the township. Adam married Jane Park, and resides in Nottingham township.

John Dodd took out a land-warrant dated Nov. 22, 1785. It was surveyed April 17th the next year, and was named "Prulir", containing three hundred and twenty-five acres, adjoining lands of Robert Wiley, Reason Pumphrey and John Virgin. This tract is partly in Canton and partly in South Strabane township. The larger part of it was formerly the Archer estate, now belonging to the Hazlett estate. A part of it is in lots and adjoining the borough of Washington.

William and John McCombe took up land in the township of Strabane in 1785, the warrant of William bearing date Mar 4, 1785, and surveyed November 15th the same year. It contained three hundred and forty-five acres, and was named "Maidenhead." It was situated on Chartiers Creek, adjoining lands of Reason Virgin, Henry Moore, and William Brownlee. The tract of John (taken up at the same time, and surveyed June 16th the same year) was named "Superfine," and contained three hundred and eighty-seven acres, adjoining land of Thomas Nichols. William also purchased of Robert McCombs a tract of three hundred and eighty-town acres in Somerset township, which had been warranted to Robert; Nov. 1, 1787; and April 12, 1792, he sold to Robert McCombs, the original warrantee. William McCombs was appointed coroner Nov. 1, 1784, and served two terms. He died in 1807, and left three daughters and three sons - Margaret, Elizabeth, Mary, Malcom, John and Robert. The real estate was divided equally among them.

John, Jacob, and William Wolfe were natives of Germany. They emigrated to this country, and after a short time came to Washington County. Jacob and William settled in what is now Buffalo township, and John settled on a tract of land which had been located by Kennedy Martin. The deed bears date April 13, 1780, and the land is mentioned as "all that tract of land on which we formerly lived, called 'Wolfe' situate, lying, and being upon the waters of Chartiers Creek, in Strabane township" (now Canton). A warrant was granted to Kennedy Martin, Feb.. 10, 1789, and the patent obtained March 26th the same year. It contained three hundred and fifty-five acres, and was then adjoining lands of David Clark, Thomas Wilson, Robert Wylie, and Joseph Paxton.

On the 28th of August 1793, John Wolfe took out a warrant for four hundred acres, which was surveyed to him. He lived and died upon his farm, and left eight sons, whose names were David, Joseph, Solomon, Jacob, William, Henry, John, and Enoch. David, who was a tanner, married Mary Hewitt, and settled on the farm, now owned by Hamilton Davis. Joseph was a carpenter. He married Mary Marshall and resided in Washington. Jacob married Martha Marshall, and settled on a part of the home farm, where he died, leaving a family of eight children, of whom John H. Abraham B., Isaac, and Thomas reside in the borough of Washington. A daughter, Mary, became the wife of Marshall Cox, and lives in Franklin township.

Solomon, son of John Wolfe, married Elizabeth Essik, and lived and died on part of the original tract. John Jr. never married, and emigrated to California in 1852. Henry emigrated to Ohio. William settled on the home farm, built one of the stone houses still standing, and died at ninety-six years of age. Enoch married Sarah Marshall, and now resides in this township. Of the daughters, Mary married George Hupp, and settled in Buffalo township, where he died. She afterwards removed to St. Louis, Mo., and died there. Hannah married Henry, a son of Zachariah Cox, and emigrated to Ohio. Catharine remained single, and lived with her uncle William, and died in 1878. The old homestead place is owned by William Prigg. The larger part of the farm is owned by Hamilton Davis. A portion of it is also owned by the estates of James Kelly and William Price.

William Slemmens came to this county before 1787, being then well advanced in life. He was elected justice of the peace Nov. 1 1799. A tract of land was warranted and patented to him. A portion of it later came into possession of Robert McGowen and a portion to Matthew Morrow, September 18, 1807. He had two sons, Thomas and William, to the latter of whom a portion of land was devised. Thomas took out a warrant for a tract of land dated June 22, 1786. It was surveyed to his father, William Slemmens, Dec. 1, 1787, as "Plenty," and contained one hundred acres. It was patented June 5, 1787. Thomas Slemmens died in 1827, leaving a widow and five sons - Samuel, William, Thomas, John and James - and five daughters - Susanna, Eliza, Jane, Margaret, and Mary. He bequeathed to Samuel, William, and Thomas each a quarter section of land in Wayne County, Ohio; his other land lying in this county to be divided as follows; three-quarters equally between Samuel, Thomas, John, and James, and one-quarter between the daughters. The land is now owned by the heirs.

Robert McGowen bought one hundred and eighty acres of land of Jesse Martin on the 3d of June 1785. He also purchased one hundred and twenty acres of William Slemmens, Jr., which he afterwards sold to Michael Fornier. A purchase was made April 27, 1789, of Francis Cunningham. This was on the head-waters of Georges Creek, a branch of Chartiers Creek. He kept tavern from 1801 to 1806.

Thomas Allison emigrated from Ireland to this country, and settled in the north part of Canton township, where the property is still owned by his descendants. He married Jane Crawford, by whom he had three sons and three daughters - John, James, David, Jane, Ellen, and Martha. John Allison married Ann Paxton, and settled on part of the homestead where his descendants still live. His children were Ellen, Martha, Mary Ann, Margaret, John G., Elizabeth and Thomas P. Of these Mary Ann married Thomas Harsha; Margaret remained single; John G. married Mary Rogers, Elizabeth became the wife of Samuel Taggert; and Thomas P. married Sarah J. Morrow. James the second son of Thomas Allison, removed to Illinois and died there. David, the third son, lived a bachelor, and died in the township. Ellen married Thomas Morrison; Jane became the wife of Mr. Simpson; Martha died when about twenty years of age.

William Reed came to this section from near Gettysburg about 1783, and remained for several years without purchasing lands. On the 29th of June, 1798, he purchased one hundred and thirty-three acres of Samuel Hanna, adjoining lands of Adam Wylie, George Sellens, John Cord, and John Wallace. He had several children, among whom were David and William. David was a bachelor, and died in the township. Of his children, John, William & Samuel were Presbyterian ministers. John settled in Indiana County, PA,; William in Columbiana County, Ohio. Samuel commenced preaching, and soon after showed signs of insanity. He strayed to Philadelphia and preached in the streets. He was found and placed in the asylum, from which he escaped, returned home, and eventually recovered. He finally settled in Ohio and became a farmer. James Reed was a farmer, and settled in East Finley township, and Andrew in Cross Creek.

David Irwin lived in the eastern part of the State, where he married Ann Allen and emigrated to Washington, and located the tract of land still owned by the family. He built his cabin, raised a family of children, and died there. He had five sons and five daughters, namely, William, Mary, Thomas, David, Jane, Elizabeth, Ann, Martha, John and James. William was a bachelor; Mary became the wife of Samuel McKee; Thomas married in Ohio, where he lived and died; David emigrated West; Jane married Hugh Allison; Elizabeth became Mrs. James Mitchell; Ann married Robert Smith. They kept tavern many years near and west of Washington, on the Wheeling road. Martha married John Jenkins who resided on the Monongahela River. John married Nancy Jenkins, and moved to Belmont County, Ohio. James married Nancy Clark, and settled on the homestead where he lived and died. The homestead property is now owned by William Irwin, a son of James.

In the extreme north part of the township of Canton and on the middle fork of Chartiers Creek John and Thomas Douglas took up a tract of land about 1782. On the 3rd of September 1784, James Taggert purchased two hundred and sixty acres of them, where he lived and died. His children were John, James, Samuel, Robert, Mary, Elizabeth and William. John married Miss Miller and emigrated to Harrison County, Ohio. James married Martha Fergus, and settled on the homestead and died there. His son James now owns the place. Samuel married Catharine Morrow, and settled in Wayne County, Ohio. Mary married George Miller, and lived in Cross Creek village. Elizabeth became the wife of John Marquis, and lived in Cross Creek township.

James Dinsmore emigrated to this county from Ireland, and settled first in Fayette township, Allegheny County, Pa., and on the 21st of July, 1795, purchased two hundred and seventy-six acres of land in Canton township, Washington County, of Joshua Anderson, adjoining lands of Francis Cunningham, Samuel Agnew, James Taggert, and William Shearer, it being part of a tract called "Huntington" which was patented to Joshua Anderson, Sept. 26, 1787. On this farm Mr. Dinsmore lived and died at an advanced age. A fort, or block-house, was on the place that later became known as the Dinsmore Fort. He left two sons, John and James and several daughters. The farm was divided between John and James. The former remained on the homestead place till his death, and left four sons - William, James, John C., and Robert. William is still living on the homestead where he was born. James moved to Cross Creek. John C. settled in the township. Robert moved to Buffalo township where he was murdered.

James Dinsmore, son of James and brother of John, lived on his portion of the farm and died there. He had three daughters, one of whom, Mary, became the wife of Henry Graham, a great-grandson of the Henry Graham who took up the land on which Cross Creek village now stands. They settled in Bloomington, Ill. Two of the daughters, Mrs. Samuel White and Miss Jane Dinsmore, reside on the home place.

In the north part of the township of Canton, Francis Cunningham took up a tract of land which was divided between Francis and his brother James. On the 10th of September, 1792, they sold one hundred and twelve acres of it to John Moore, adjoining Gavin Allison, Joshua Anderson, William McGowen, and James Cunningham. The tract was patented to Francis Cunningham. He made it over to his father, Robert, one hundred and forty-two acres, who left it by will to Francis and James.

Three brothers, Joseph, Jonathan, and John Nesbet, came from Cecil County, Md., and Joseph purchased of Andrew Swearingen, July 30, 1800, three hundred and ninety-eight acres, a tract named "Canaside," and one hundred and sixty-seven acres of a tract named "Drusilla," This land was divided between the three brothers. Joseph retained the portion of it which lay in Canton township, on which he lived and died, leaving a widow and three children - Joseph, Robert and Jane. Joseph, the eldest son, inherited the homestead, and lived and died there, living a widow who still lives upon the farm. Robert bought a farm in Peters township, called Rich Hills. Jane became the wife of Ebenezer White. They settled on a farm adjoining her father's to the south. Jonathan and John Nesbitt settled on the portion of the land Joseph purchased, lying in Chartiers township.

Samuel McCloy emigrated to America about 1800, and in 1808 located in Washington County. On the 24th of November in that year he purchased one hundred and one acres of land of Alexander Patterson, situated on Brush Run, a branch of Buffalo Creek. This land was part of a tract which was warranted to Henry Martin, and surveyed as "Labrador," and for which a patent was granted March 22, 1788. Samuel McCloy married Sarah McClelland, by whom he had seven children - John, David, Robert, William, Margaret, Elizabeth and Sarah. Margaret married Robert Dinsmore, and settled and died in Allegheny County. Elizabeth married William Morrow, and settled in Canton township. Sarah remained single, and died in 1838. John married, first, Jane Smith, and afterwards Miss Jane Welsh. Her children were Sarah J., William W., John H., and Robert H. Later he married Sarah Taggart, who lived only fifteen months afterwards, and later still Margaret C. Brownlee became his wife.

Robert Thompson emigrated to this country from Ireland and settled for a time on the waters of Wheeling Creek, where he took up a tract of land of which he was dispossessed by prior claim. He then located on the Crawford place in Canton township, where he built a cabin and resided till 1814, when he removed to Canonsburg and purchased a lot on Front Street, just above the present public-school building, and built a residence and shoe-shop, in which he carried on the business of shoemaking till near his death. He had four sons - Robert, John, Hugh, and Hamilton, and four daughters - Mary, Elizabeth, Esther and Jane. Robert and John became physicians and settled in Washington, Ohio, and later removed, to Columbus, where the latter still lives. A sketch of the former will be found among the physicians of Canonsburg. Hugh and Hamilton became dentists. Hugh settled in Canonsburg and died there. Hamilton located in Washington, PA, where his son, Robert J., now lives. Mary became the wife of Abram Roberts; Elizabeth of William McMillan. Esther married Samuel Kirk, and Jane became the wife of George Kirk. The latter settled in Canonsburg and died there, leaving a widow, two sons, and two daughters, who still reside there. Mrs. Boyd Crumrine, of Washington, is also a daughter, and James Kirk is a son. William, the youngest son, is a physician, residing at Fox Chase near Philadelphia.

SCHOOLS - About 1815 a log school-house was built on the old Morrow farm. The teachers who taught there after 1820 were Stephen Woods, John Allison, John Connor, and John Smiley, who was the last. The house caught fire (while the school was in session) during the year 1829 and was wholly destroyed. About the same time a school-house was located on the ridge on the farm of William Wolfe. Benjamin Work was one of the teachers in this house.

Upon the passage of the school law in 1834, the township accepted the conditions, and in March, 1835, elected J. Brownlee and J. White school directors, who at once proceeded to divide the township into four districts, which have been kept to the present time without material change. In 1863 there were one hundred and fifty-three scholars enrolled and seven teachers were employed. The sum of $852 was raised for school purposes and $927.48 was expended.

In 1873 there were one hundred and thirty-one scholars and four teachers. The sum of $1849 was raised and $1861.77 expended. In 1880 there were one hundred and twenty-five scholars and four teachers. The sum of $1239.03 was raised and $1144.78 expended.

*Boyd Crumrine, "History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men" (Philadelphia: L. H. Leverts & Co., 1882).

Transcribed by Wilda Marshall Brown of Port Byron, NY. Published in March 1998 on

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