Chartiers Twp. (pp. 707-720)The township of Chartiers was erected by action of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Washington County on the 23d of March, 1790, in accordance with a petition from the inhabitants residing within the limits. It was originally the southern part of Cecil Township and embraced its present territory, the southeast part of Mount Pleasant township, and the north part of Canton. Upon the erection of Canton, the next year, a portion was taken to form that township, and in 1808 the northwest part was taken off to become a part of Mount Pleasant, the western boundary line then passing through the town of Hickory. A slight change was made in October, 1831, giving a small portion of territory to Mount Pleasant, and in 1863 the boundary line between Chartiers and Canton was changed and adjusted as at present.
History of Washington County, Pennsylvania*
Following is a list of persons appointed and elected to the office of justice of the peace1 in Chartiers township from its erection to the present time:
John Canon, Aug. 24,1790. Hugh Fergus, April 10, 1855. John Canon, April 1, 1794 James McElroy, April 10, 1860 John Wilkes Hilliard, Feb. 24,1798. John Hodgins, April 10, 1860 Andrew Monroe, April 6, 1798. John W. Howell, May 12, 1862 Andrew Swearingen, April 3,1799. John Hodgins, May 5, 1866. William Hays, April 3, 1799. John W. Howell, April 19, 1867. William Clark, April 3, 1799. Jonathon Allison, April 13, 1870. John Hays, April 14,1840. John C. McNary, April 12, 1872. William Fee, April 14, 1840. H. O. McKnight, Aug. 8, 1873. William Fee, April 15, 1845. John C. McNary, Jan. 17, 1874. John Hays, April 15, 1845. H. O. McKnight Jan. 19, 1874. Hugh Fergus, April 9, 1850. John C. McNary, March 21, 1877. John Hays, April 9, 1850. Allison DeFrance, March 25,1878. John Henderson, April 10, 1855
[1Prior to the erection of Chartiers its territory was embraced in Cecil. From its erection to 1803 Chartiers was a separate district, but in that year became a part of District No. 5 (with Cecil), and so remained till 1838, when it again became an independent district. The names of the Justices of District No. 5 from 1803 to 1538 are given in Cecil township.]
Early Settlers. - Col. James Allison in the fall of 1773 emigrated with his family from Cecil County, Md., to the "Forks of the Yough" (now McKeesport), where he resided that winter, and in the spring of 1774 came to what is now Washington County and settled on Chartiers Creek. He and his family were of the twenty families who came to this section in that year, among whom were the Scotts, McDowells, Parks, Morrisons, Struthers, Norris, and others. He married a daughter of James Bradford, who came to Strabane township later and settled there. David Bradford, who was prominent in the Whiskey Insurrection, was a brother of Mrs. Allison, and Mrs. John McDowell was a sister. James Allison purchased one thousand acres of land, containing an improvement, of Thomas Moffit, also of Maryland. For the first year after these families arrived in the valley they were accustomed to rendezvous in time of danger from the Indians at a fort that was built on the land of William Norris, in the rear of the old Quail place. The land on which he settled was warranted on the 29th of October, 1784, and surveyed to him Aug.13, 1785, as "Mount Pleasant," containing three hundred and fifty-seven acres. This tract was adjoining Michael Ralston, James Morrison, and Andrew Swearingen. He was elected one of the justices of the peace of the Court of Common Pleas, and also served the county as member of Assembly at the same time with John McDowell, his brother-in-law. He was a member of the society in Philadelphia formed for the abolition of slavery. He was one of the first elders of the Chartiers congregation, under Rev. Dr. John McMillan. He was later one of the associate judges of Washington County, and held the position till his death, which occurred at the age of seventy- seven years. He was a man of great moral worth, highly honored and respected by his fellow-citizens. He had eight children, James, William, John, George, Thomas, Andrew, Rachel, Mary. James, the eldest son, studied law with John Shannon, of Washington, and removed to Beaver County, where he became prominent as a lawyer. John Allison, the ex-register of the Treasury of the United States, is his son.
William and John Allison, sons of James Allison, Sr., emigrated in 1834 to McDonough County, Ill., where they lived and died.. George became a merchant in Noblestown, and died there. Thomas and Andrew settled on the homestead farm. Jonathan Allison, the son of Thomas, resides on the homestead, and the heirs of Thomas Allison now own the part that belonged to Andrew. Rachel, a daughter of James Allison, became the wife of George Craighead, to whom one hundred acres of the estate was left. Mrs. William Ross, a granddaughter of Mrs. George Craighead, now lives on this portion of the old Allison tract.
A patent for one thousand acres of land was granted by Lord Dunmore, in the year 1775, to Valentine Crawford and Col. John Neville, for services rendered in the Dunmore war. This land was located in what is now Chartiers township. It seems to have been left without improvement, and unknown to the Pennsylvania land-office, as the settlers as early as 1783-84 took out warrants for lands that were embraced in this tract, and which lands were surveyed and patented regularly to them, without any doubt of a perfect title. Later, in 1803, came the announcement that a prior title existed. A meeting was arranged of the parties concerned, consisting on the part of the owners of the military patent of Presley Neville, attorney for William Heth, of Henrico County, Va., and the settlers upon the land, Martin Adams, Robert Montgomery, William Gabby, Robert and Paul White, Mary Henderson, John Struthers, Andrew Russell, Robert McCloskey, James McElroy, Samuel McBride, John; McCoy, John Calkins, and Robert Hughes. An amicable settlement was made, and on the 1st of December, 1803, Presley Neville conveyed to them "all that tract of land surveyed under a military warrant for Valentine Crawford and John Neville for one thousand acres." At this time these parties were on the land, "and by this deed they became tenants in common, and not as joint tenants; and also. according to their several claims of title, boundary, and possession, as held, owned, and possessed by them respectively antecedent to the delivery hereof."
The land owned by Morton Adams is now in possession of Joseph Willison; that of William Gabby, now Alexander McConnell; Robert and Paul White, now Robert Russell; Mary Henderson, now owned by Joseph Willison, formerly known as the Anderson tract; John Struthers, now in possession of Charles Coultingham; Andrew Russell, now in possession of John Russell, a grandson; Robert McCloskey, now owned by Alexander Moore; Robert Montgomery, John Cockins, and John McCoy, property passed to Samuel McCoy, now in possession of his widow, Mrs. Isabella McCoy.
A Virginia certificate was issued to Samuel Thompson on the 31st of January, 1780, by the commissioners of Virginia, then in session at Coxe's Fort. It is there recited as being "situate on Shirtee Creek, to include his settlement made in the year 1774 This tract was surveyed on the 25th of January, 1785, and named "Thompson's Seasons," and contained three hundred and ten acres. At that time there was no land adjoining it that had been taken up. It was patented on the 27th of March, 1793, and was then mentioned as "adjoining Canonsburg." It is evident that this tract was the first in the valley that was taken up above Morganza. It was taken up before Col. John Canon came in. Sarah Thompson, the widow of Samuel Thompson, sold the property to different parties in 1806.
Rev. Matthew Henderson was born in Scotland in 1735; educated at Edinburgh; studied theology under Rev. Alexander Moncriff, one of the first four Seceders. He was licensed to preach at the age of twenty-one years, and ordained two years later, in 1758, by the Presbytery of Perth and Dumfermline. He was immediately sent out by the Associate Church to the British colonies in America, being the third missionary sent out by that church. Soon after his arrival he settled in Oxford, Chester Co., where he labored until the year 1782. During his residence at that place he visited the western country as early as 1779, and preached at Chartiers and Buffalo. In 1782 he received a call from these congregations to become their pastor. A tract of land was purchased of John Struthers, Jr., the deed for which was dated Jan. 13, 1789. It contained one hundred and fifty-three acres, and was situated on the north fork of Chartiers Creek, adjoining John Hays, John Struthers, Jr., and Thomas White. It was part of a tract of land called "South Hill," which was patented Nov.13, 1786. This land had evidently been purchased several years before, as an article of agreement is said to be in existence for a tract of land conveyed to Matthew Henderson by John Struthers, Jr., dated May, 1781. There is also on record a bill of sale dated Dec. 9, 1782, from Alexander Henderson to the Rev. Matthew Henderson, by which was conveyed "One Roan-colored Horse, One Bay Horse, One Red and one Brindle Cow, Six Sheep, furniture of the house, including dresser furniture, Beds and Bed-cloaths, my farming implements, two sows and pigs, my part of grain in the ground." The consideration paid was one hundred and seventy pounds.
On this tract of land purchased of John Struthers, Jr., Mr. Henderson settled with his wife and children, and lived till his death in 1795. He had charge not only of Chartiers and North Buffalo Churches, but of the congregations of Mingo Creek (now the United Presbyterian Church in Peters township) and of Mill Creek. He was among the most zealous in the organization of the academy in Canonsburg in July, 1791, and remained a stanch and firm friend and supporter of that institution as long as he lived.
In speaking of this, Dr. Joseph Smith, in the "History of Jefferson College," says, "In July, 1791, it was settled in a conference of citizens and ministers, numerously attended, that the incipient steps should be taken for getting an academy under way. The ensuing day was fixed for that purpose. Many citizens attended, among whom were Judges McDowell and Allison and Craig Ritchie, Esq. The ministers present were Revs. McMillan, Henderson, and Smith. The place of meeting was by a small English schoolhouse. Here, under the pleasant shade of the green sassafras bushes, protected from the rays of the July sun, the two pupils, with Cordrii Colloqua in their hands, were just about to read 'quid agis', when Dr. McMillan, addressing the two brethren and the small assembly, remarked in substance as follows, 'This is an important day in our history, affecting deeply the interests of the church and of the country in the West,,affecting our own interests for time and eternity, and the interests it may be of thousands and thousands yet unborn'. And turning to Mr. Henderson, he asked him to engage in prayer, seeking the blessing of God on the institution now to be opened. And I must say [continues the historian] the broad vernacular pronunciation never could be more delightful and impressive than it was then, while everything proper to the occasion appeared to be remembered in prayer by this good man." Mr. Henderson remained as pastor of the two congregations until his death, the circumstances of which are given as follows by his daughter Elizabeth (afterwards Mrs. Alexander Murdoch), who was then with him:
"On the evening of October 1st , 1705 he had expressed to his children a wish that they would fell a bee-tree which had been discovered on his farm, and preparations. were accordingly made to proceed to it early in the morning. He had acquainted his daughter Elizabeth, then a child of ten years of age, with their purpose. and told her that if she could get up in the morning without awakening her younger sister, Jane, the might go with him. Accordingly, the next morning he went quietly to her bed and touched her gently to awake her without disturbing her sister. She was soon up and having dressed her self for the expedition, hurried Into her father's room, supposing him also to be ready. She found him on his knees engaged in secret prayer, and immediately withdrew. Soon after this she observed him going down to the spring with a basin and towel to wash himself, as was his custom in the morning. Some time after his returned she again ventured into his room, and an found him engaged in prayer. Soon afterward. he came out, and taking her by the hand he led her to the place where his sons, Ebenezer and Robert, had been for some time engaged in felling the tree. The tree stood upon a bank, and it was supposed would fall down the side of it. Mr. Henderson and his daughter approached towards it on the higher ground, where it was thought was no danger. Here they stood for a little time, at some distance from the tree, awaiting its fall. It proved to be decayed in the centre, and fell much sooner than had been anticipated, and also in a direction opposite to that In which he supposed it to be falling. On this occasion, as usual, he ran, but in the same direction with the falling of the tree. His daughter followed his example, but varied somewhat in her course and escaped any injury. Her father had run to such a distance that it was only the, branches which reached him, and his body was but slightly mutilated. Only a slight flesh wound was discovered on his head, yet he appeared to have died instantly, not having been observed to move or breathe by his sons, who were immediately beside him."
He was buried in the churchyard of the Chartiers Church, to which he had so long ministered. He had fourteen children, of whom four died in infancy. Five sons and five daughters lived to maturity. Matthew, the eldest son, was licensed by the Associate Reformed Church, and was for many years pastor of a congregation in the "Forks of the Yough." He lived to an advanced age. John, the second son, settled in Mount Pleasant township, and died there.
Ebenezer, the third son, was licensed in the city of New York, May 30, 1799; ordained May 24, 1800, and was settled in the united charge of Pittsburgh and Turtle Creek, Dec. 30, 1801. Early in the year 1803 he was sent to Philadelphia, to supply the congregation left vacant by the death of Rev. William Marshall, and was about to be settled in charge of that congregation when he was sent on a missionary tour to the Carolinas. Having finished his work in the South, he had started on his return northward, when he contracted a fever, but, anxious to reach his home, traveled on from day to day on horseback till he reached an inn in the town of Staunton, in the valley of Virginia, where, growing speedily worse, he died in the midst of strangers, Sept. 17, 1804. He had given promise of eminent usefulness, and in his early death was much lamented.
Robert, the fourth son of the Rev. Matthew Henderson, settled on a tract of land which his father purchased May 1, 1792, of Gavin Morrison. This was part of a tract of land which was patented by Mr. Morrison as "White Oak Spring." In the division this property fell to Elizabeth (Mrs. Alexander Murdoch), and was by her conveyed to Robert, June, 1811. Robert married the daughter of Andrew Russell, Sr. He was for many years an elder in Chartiers congregation. His children were Matthew, Andrew, Ebenezer, Alexander, Mary, John, and Robert. Matthew is a resident of Mercer County; Ebenezer and Andrew resided and died in this township; John settled on the William Gabby farm. He was elected justice of the peace in 1855. The farm on which he lived is now owned by Alexander McConnell. Robert lives on the homestead of his father, Robert. Alexander now resides in Houstonville. Mary, the eldest daughter, became the wife of a Mr. White, a member of her father's congregation. Ellen, the second daughter, married Dr. Samuel Murdoch, of Canonsburg, later of Washington. he died in early life, leaving a daughter, Ellen, who became the wife of Joseph Templeton, of Washington, Pa. Ann, the third daughter, became the wife of the Rev. Thomas Allison, for many years pastor of Mount Hope congregation, of Hopewell township (now Independence). Elizabeth married Alexander Murdoch, who for several years lived at Canonsburg, and later removed to Washington. Alexander Murdoch, of Washington, is a son, and Mrs. John L. Gow, of the same place, is a daughter, of Alexander and Elizabeth Murdoch. Jane, the youngest daughter, became the wife of James Clark, of Buffalo township, Washington Co. Dr. Matthew H. Clark, many years a respected physician of Washington, was a son. James R. Clark, the druggist, of Washington, is a grandson
John Weaver came to Chartiers township from Chester County, Pa., about 1787. He settled in the neighborhood of Canonsburg, and bought one hundred and sixty acres of James Allison. He was a mason, and worked at his trade until his death. He left sons and daughters as follows: John, Sarah, Mary, Jane, Nancy, Isaac, Thomas, Dell, George, and Joshua. John settled in Chartiers township, and purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land of James Allison, now owned by ------ White. He married Mary, the youngest daughter of the Rev. John McMillan. Thomas Weaver, of Cecil township, is the eldest son. Mrs. William A. McNutt, of Independence township, is a daughter. Isaac, a son of John Weaver, Sr., settled in Chartiers township, and bought one hundred acres of land, now owned by Frederick Lesnett He had but two children, who emigrated to Ohio. Thomas, also a son of John, settled in North Strabane township, on a farm now owned by his son Isaac. Dell Weaver learned the trade of a blacksmith and settled in Canonsburg, where he is still living, at the age of eighty-four years. George and Joshua both resided in Canonsburg for some years. The family of Joshua are now all in Allegheny County. Sarah, one of the daughters of John Weaver, became the wife of John McMillan, a son of the Rev. John McMillan, and settled on the old McMillan homestead in North Strabane township, now owned by the Fulton brothers, nephews of John and Sarah McMillan.
John Struthers, a Scotchman, emigrated to this country and settled in Chester County, Pa., where he married and raised a family of children. In the year 1772 he came to this county, and on the 22d day of September of that year he purchased six hundred acres of land of James Patterson, "situate on the waters of the Ohio, on a river called Shirtee, and joining the lands of William Bollan on the east, upon the run known by the name of Patterson's Run." The was granted to William Long on a Pennsylvania warrant in the year 1769; and sold by him to James Patterson on the 19th of June, 1772. It was surveyed to John Struthers, July 3, 1785, under the name of "Cawlder." In the year 1774, John Struthers, with his eldest son, John, came to the new farm, built a cabin, and after clearing a small area and planting it to corn, they returned to Chester County, Pa., and spent the winter with his family. In the following spring, with his family and possessions, they moved to the new home, and settled in the log cabin on the farm now owned by Robert Hamilton. The nearest neighbor at that time was John White, who lived about five miles distant, in what is now North Strabane, and about a mile southeast of where Canonsburg now stands. Struthers built a grist-mill on the creek, which was in active operation in 1796. He had four sons, John, Jr., Alexander, Thomas, and James. The son John took a warrant for a tract of land which was surveyed to him as "South Hill," and contained three hundred and eighty-two acres. Patent for this land was obtained Nov.13, 1786. Three year later, Jan.13, 1789, he sold one hundred and fifty-three acres of it to the Rev. Matthew Henderson, and on the 1st of April, 1790, he conveyed one hundred and fifty-two acres to Matthew Bowland. The last tract was adjoining Matthew Henderson, Thomas White, and James and Charles Campbell. John Struthers, Jr., and Alexander soon after went West. James inherited the homestead, and Thomas also lived on a portion of the estate, where they lived and died, leaving families whose descendants live in this and adjoining townships.
Gavin Morrison, a native of Scotland, came to this county with the twenty families who came to this section of country about 1773 and located on the hill lands in Chartiers township under the settlement rights offered by Virginia. On this tract he built his cabin and settled with his family, which consisted of three son James, Gavin, and John and one daughter. Gavin Morrison, Sr., died in the fall of 1782, and left his land to his eldest son, James Morrison, to whom it was surveyed Aug. 8, 1784, on a Virginia certificate. It was named in the survey "Rich Hill," and contained three hundred and eighty-seven acres and eighteen perches, and is mentioned at the time of survey as adjoining lands of James and Gavin Morrison. On the 8th of April, 1785, James Morrison took out a warrant for a tract that, was surveyed August 3d the same year as "Copenhagen," containing sixty-six acres, and Feb.22, 1786, another tract was warranted, and surveyed August 3d as "Springfield," containing fifty-eight acres. In the year 1792 he is assessed as Capt. James Morrison on four hundred acres of land. He died in November, 1813, leaving sons, William, James, John, and Guion. They all lived and died on the farm, and the widow of Guion Morrison now owns the place.
On the 12th of June, 1786, Gavin Morrison took out a warrant for a tract of four hundred acres which was surveyed as "White Oak Springs," part of which was sold to the Rev. Matthew Henderson, and is now in possession of Robert Henderson, a grandson of the Rev. Matthew. In 1792 Gavin Morrison was assessed on four hundred acres, and John Morrison on one hundred and forty acres.
Andrew Swearingen emigrated from Virginia in 1772. He was a captain in, the McIntosh campaign; was at the Wheeling fort when that place was invested by the Indians, and at the commencement of the Revolutionary war he received a captains commission and headed a company of scouts during the greater part of that struggle. He was appointed one of the justices of the peace of Yohogania County a the October term of court in 1776, and in 1783 was appointed treasurer of Washington County, and served till 1794. In 1799 he was elected justice of the peace in Chartiers township. As a magistrate he was noted for settling difficulties between neighbors with out resorting to the law. He took up large tracts of land on Virginia certificates, which were confirmed to him by warrants of acceptance from the board of property April 19, 1786. Two of these tracts were located on George's Run, a branch of Chartiers Creek. One was surveyed under., the name of "Canaside," containing three hundred and ninety-eight acres, and patented April 1, 1788; the other was surveyed under the name of "Drusilla," containing one hundred and sixty-seven acres. This tract was patented March 6 1789. (It was probably named Drusilla after a daughter of his brother, Van Swearingen, and who became the wife of Samuel Brady, the well-known Indian scout.) On the 30th of July, 1805, he sold these tracts to Joseph Nesbitt, who bought them for himself and his brothers Jonathan and John. He also owned a large body of land on Chartiers Creek in Chartiers township. On this tract he lived, and conveyed the greater part of it to his children. On the 9th of July, 1796, he transferred six hundred and seventy acres to Joseph Swearingen, a son, who later lived in Philadelphia, and on the same date conveyed seven hundred and seventeen acres to Thomas Swearingen. This last body of land was composed of two tracts that were surveyed as "Belmont" and "Vermont." Warrants of acceptance were issued by the board of property April 9, 1786, and. patent issued June 1, 1786. On the. 27th of September, 1799, Andrew Swearingen conveyed to his only daughter, Sally Cooke, two hundred and eighty-one acres of land adjoining his other land and Joseph and Thomas Swearingen. Andrew Swearingen lived on his farm till June 26, 1824, when he died in his seventy-eighth year. He became an elder in the Presbyterian congregation of Washington upon the organization of that body, and served in that capacity till his death. Sally Swearingen became the wife of John Cooke, of Berkeley County, Va., on the 25th day of November, 1797. They settled on this place. in 1800 and she died here about 1852. Mr. Cooke died July 30,1858, aged eighty-seven years. They left three children, one son, John L. Cooke, and two daughters, Sarah and Isabella. John L. Cooke purchased a farm in South Strabane township where he resided till his death, leaving three daughters and a son; the latter, J. Littleton Cooke, removed West. Of the daughters, Ellena became Mrs. W. T. Beatty, of Washington, where she still resides;. Sarah became the wife of Alexander W. Acheson, Jr., now of Texas. The third daughter became the wife of son of John Bausman; they now reside in Pittsburgh. Sarah, a daughter of John and Sarah Cooke, became the wife of Dr. Alfred Creigh. Isabella married. the Hon. Isaac Leet, of Washington, Pa.
Samuel Agnew came from York County, Pa., in the spring of 1780, and purchased (April 15th of that year) two tracts of land of four hundred acres each located on George's Run, a branch of Chartiers Creek. On the 16th of September, 1785, warrants were issued for both tracts, one to Samuel Agnew, the other to Matthew Henderson. The Agnew tract was surveyed as "Nantucket," containing four hundred and three acres; the Henderson tract as "Strabane," containing three hundred and twenty-one acres. On the 22d of May, 1786, Matthew Henderson sold to Samuel Agnew the tract "Strabane," and on the 9th of December in that year patents were issued for both of them to Samuel Agnew. Upon his first settlement in this section of country, in 1780, he built his cabin on the Strabane tract, where he lived and died. He was elected a justice of the peace of one of the districts, which at that time embraced several townships. Later he was a member of the Legislature of the State. He had three sons and three daughters. Of the sons one settled on the homestead and died there, and his son, E. J. Agnew, now owns the farm. Other children and grandchildren are living in the township. John, son of Samuel Agnew, Sr., settled in what is now West Virginia. James, also a son, settled on part of the "Strabane" tract. The daughters all married and settled in Virginia. The tract called "Nantucket" joined "Strabane" on the northeast. It is now owned by John McKee, Thomas and John Paxton.
Joseph, Jonathan, and John Nesbitt, brothers; came from Cecil County, Md. Joseph, the elder, purchased of Andrew Swearingen, July 30, 1805, a large body of land on George's Run, a branch of Chartiers Creek, lying in the townships of Chartiers and Canton. The land was in two tracts warranted, surveyed, and patented by Andrew Swearingen; one named "Canaside," the other "Drussilla" On the 7th of August the same year Joseph conveyed to Jonathan and to John one hundred and nineteen acres each. The land Joseph retained was in Canton township, and on it he lived and died, leaving a widow and three children.
Jonathan Nesbitt settled on the farm in Chartiers township, set off for him in the division of the large tract purchased by Joseph, his brother. On this he lived and died, leaving four sons and three daughters. The sons were Joseph, John, Alexander, and Robert. Joseph went to Ohio; John bought a farm adjoining his father on the northwest, where a nephew (John M. Paxton) now lives; Alexander and Robert remained on the homestead; the widow of the latter and his oldest son (John W. Nesbitt) now own the place.
John Nesbitt, one of the three brothers, settled on his portion, of the land. He married Martha Donaldson. In the winter of 1837 the family were attacked by a fever, and the father, mother, and two daughters (Jane and Margaret) died, leaving only one son, Robert, who inherited the homestead. His sons, John and Robert, now own the farm and reside upon it.
Rowland Hughes came to this county from east of the mountains, selected a tract of land, and died before the warrant for it was obtained. Robert, his son, took out the warrant in trust for the children of Rowland. It was surveyed Nov.13, 1786, under the name of "Good Hopewell," containing three hundred and ninety-five acres. A part of it was sold to Nathaniel Deverall, and later to Robert Montgomery. The church of Chartiers Cross-Roads is located on this tract. Samuel and Elizabeth Hughes, children of Rowland Hughes, also came to a part of the farm. On the 31st of May; 1796, Robert, Elizabeth, and Samuel Hughes conveyed to Morton and Thomas Adams one hundred and twenty acres of the tract. The interest of Thomas became vested in Martin Adams, and after his death the executers of Martin sold (July 6, 1810) to Robert Anderson. This tract was part of the Crawford-Neville military patent, and for which settlement was made and a quit-claim issued to Robert Hughes in 1803.
Hugh McKnight emigrated from Ireland and settled for several years in Cecil County, Md., where he married, and where two sons, John and Joseph, were born. In 1784 he made a journey west of the mountains with a view of purchasing land. He lived for a short time on a farm between Hickory and Washington, and on the 1st of July, 1785, purchased of Samuel Irwin, of Pittsburgh, a "plantation on Shirtee," containing one hundred and ninety-three acres, for £144 158. This tract had been warranted to Samuel Irwin, Nov. 22, 1784, and surveyed Sept. 6, 1786,, as "Littleton," containing about one hundred ninety acres. It was described as being "on the west fork of Shirtee Creek, adjoining lands of James Ramsey, Samuel McBride, David Shearer, and James Sibbert." A patent was issued to Hugh McKnight, June 18, 1799. He lived on the farm till his death, and left it to his sons John and Joseph. Of the family of John, Joseph McKnight, of Mount Pleasant, is the only remaining member. Joseph McKnight, son of Hugh and brother of John, married Sarah, the daughter of Abraham Anderson. They lived on the homestead and died there. He was a ruling elder in Mount! Pleasant congregation many years. He adhered to the old customs and wore a cue to the end of his days. He lived to the advanced age of one hundred years, and died on the 4th of May, 1873. He left two children, Elizabeth, who became the wife of Alexander McConnell, and Hugh 0. McKnight, who married a daughter of Thomas Paxton, and settled on the homestead of his father and grandfather. Hugh O. McKnight in November, 1879, introduced Hereford cattle into this county for the first time. He purchased five head from a herd in Beecher, Ill., and has since added to his herd by other purchases.
William Moore came into the county and settled upon land held under Virginia certificate, dated February, 1780. It was surveyed to him as "Double Trouble," containing three hundred and eighty-four acres. A patent was obtained on the 18th of June, 1785. In later years he sold his interest in the land to George Frazier. It is now, owned by George Miller.
John Hays was of Scotch-Irish parentage, married, and raised a family of five sons, who arrived at maturity before they emigrated to this country. About the year 1775, John Hays, with four of his sons, William, Robert, James, and Samuel, came to this county and located a large tract of land on the headwaters of Chartiers Creek. John Hays, the father, in 1780 took out a Virginia certificate for one tract, which was surveyed to him as "Hay Field," containing four hundred and nineteen acres. Patent for it was obtained in April, 1794. It covered what is now known as the Anderson, Haft, and Ramsey property. He also took out on a Virginia certificate a tract which was surveyed to him March 15, 1788, under the name of "The Compact," containing three hundred and fifteen acres. This tract is now in Mount Pleasant township, adjoining Chartiers. The warrant for it was returned June 11, 1788, to James McElroy. On the tract "Hay Field" Mr. Hays lived till his death, and left a portion of it to his youngest son, Edward, from whom John Haft purchased about 1820. The remainder of the estate was left to William, the eldest son, and John, the second son, who remained in Ireland.
William Hays, the eldest son of John Hays, located farther up the valley, and obtained title to his land on a warrant. It was surveyed to him as "Hay Woods," containing four hundred and forty-one acres. A patent for it bears date June 3, 1785. William Hays was elected justice of the peace April 3, 1799, and served the remainder of his days. He died on the farm. John Hays, Esq., his son, who died, aged seventy-six years, on the 31st July, 1875, was born on this farm in 1799, and spent his life at and near his birthplace. He was a student at Jefferson College, and devoted his life to agricultural pursuits. He was elected justice of the peace in April, 1840. Six children survived him, four of whom are ministers. The Rev. Isaac N. Hays, for many years pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Chambersburg, later of Junction City, Kan., and at present pastor of Central Presbyterian Church at Allegheny City; Rev. J. S. Hays, D.D., many years pastor of Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Ky., at present professor in the theological seminary at Danville, Ky.; and Rev. George Hays, D.D., former president of Washington and Jefferson College, now pastor of Presbyterian Church in Denver, Col. A daughter became the wife of Rev. S. G. McFarland, missionary to Siam. Nancy became the wife of James Reed, and now lives in Canonsburg. William, a son of William Hays, resided on the old homestead. and died April .27, 1881.
Robert Hays, a son of John, took out a warrant for a tract of land between that of his father and brother William. It was surveyed to him as "Fine View," containing two hundred and fifty-one acres, and was patented June 28, 1785. It is now known as the McNary tract. John Hays took out a warrant for a tract of land surveyed as one hundred and thirty acres, now owned by Mrs. John Campbell. It was patented by John Hays in 1785, and in 1787 was given by him to his son James.
On the 16th of May, 1792, James Ramsey took out a warrant for a tract of land on the waters of Chartiers Creek, which was surveyed to him on the 12th of August, 1795, as "Smithfield," containing one hundred and sixty-eight acres. Mr. Ramsey resided on this place a few years, and on the 4th of September, 1805, he became the pastor of the Chartiers United Presbyterian Congregation, which relation was sustained until June 12, 1849, when, at his own request, he was released. On the 17th of March, 1796, he sold eighty-four acres of "Smithfield" to John McElroy, and on the 24th of March, 1806, conveyed ninety-five acres of the same tract to Thomas Patton, and fifty acres of "Canaside," part of a tract of land patented by Andrew Swearingen, and sold by him to Joseph Nesbitt, who sold to James Ramsey. The eighty-four acres conveyed to John McElroy, soon after the purchase by him, was sold to James Ryburn, by whose descendants it is still owned. The other portion of the Ramsey property came into possession of Archibald Stewart, and is now owned by his widow and son James. The Rev. James Ramsey died on the 6th of March, 1855, aged eighty-four years. He had two children, James and Maria. The former became a minister of the United Presbyterian Congregation, and died in Beaver County. Maria married and settled in the same county.
Thomas Paxton came to this county from Scotland and settled oil Mingo Creek, where he raised a large family of children. Thomas, a son settled in Mercer County, married there, and in 1806 purchased one hundred and forty-five acres of land of the Rev. James Ramsey, part of the tract "Canaside" and part of "Smithfield." John, a son of Thomas, Jr., settled first in Mercer County, and later moved to this county, and lived on the farm where David Morrow now lives. His children were Eliza, who married John Nesbitt, and settled in Chartiers township. Thomas, about 1820, commenced buying land where he now lives, and has owned exceeding six hundred acres. His first purchase was of the Alexander Castle tract. His sons John and Isaac live on part of the farm. A daughter, Martha, became the wife of Hugh 0. McKnight, who settled on the old McKnight homestead. Samuel, a son of John, settled at McConnell's Mills. John, also a son of John, settled at Canonsburg about 1830, and resided there forty-five years. He married Elizabeth, a daughter of Henry Wilson, and sister of the Rev. S. J. Wilson, president of Allegheny Seminary. Their children are John R., Wilson, William, Oliver, and Henry.
Rev. John R. Paxton studied in Jefferson college two years from 1860, and entered the national service in the One Hundred and Fortieth Pennsylvania Regiment. He passed through every important battle of the Army of the Potomac, and was present when Gen. Lee surrendered. After the war he returned to Jefferson College, and graduated in 1866, after which he entered the theological seminary at Allegheny, and studied three years, and attended Princeton College one year. In the spring of 1870 he was called as pastor to a church in Hartford County, Md., where he remained five years, and was called to the Pine Street Church, in Harrisburg Pa. Here he remained four years, when he received a call from the New York Avenue Church, Washington City, D.C. With this church he remained until the spring of 1882, when a call was extended to him from the West Presbyterian Church, West Forty-second Street, New York City, which he accepted, and he is now pastor of that church.
Wilson N. Paxton rose to the grade of captain in the regiment, and was killed at the battle of the Wilderness. Another brother, Thomas, was a sergeant. He was wounded and captured at Gettysburg. William and Oliver, sons of John, are now residents of Canonsburg. Henry, also a son, resides in Walla Walla, Washington Territory. John Paxton, the father, is now living at Clokeyville.
Thomas and Samuel Fergus, natives of Scotland, came to this country and settled first in Carlisle, and about 1803 they came to this county. Samuel settled in South Strabane township, and Thomas in Chartiers, purchasing two hundred acres of land July 13, 1803, of Moses Coe and John Crawford, who were the executors of Josiah Crawford, deceased. This was part of a tract of land patented to Andrew, Alexander, and William Crawford on the 8th of March, 1803, as the heirs of Josiah Crawford. On the tract Thomas Fergus purchased he settled with his wife and children and died there, leaving four daughters, Martha, who became the wife of James Taggert and settled in Canton township; Margaret (Mrs. Thomas McCall) moved to Ohio; Sarah (Mrs. Joseph Donaghy) settled in Buffalo; and Nancy, who married James White, of Canton township. Of the sons, Hugh married Nancy, daughter of John McClean. After a few years residence in Canton township they settled on the old Fergus homestead tract, where they lived and died, leaving three sons, of whom John lives on the homestead; Thomas settled and now lives in Garnet, Anderson Co., Kan. Hugh D. Fergus was in the army in the late war and died at White House, VA.
John McClean settled early on a tract of land in Chartiers township. He died in October, 1813, and left his farm in shares to his widow and children. Ebenezer McClean, on the 8th of April, 1837, sold a portion, eighty-eight acres, to John Boon, and lived on the remainder till his death. Matthew McClean now lives on the place. John, one of the sons of John, settled in Wheeling. William settled in Kentucky. Nancy became the wife of Hugh Fergus. Margaret married Henry Cooke, of Canton; their son Willard resides on the homestead. Martha married Edward I. Cundall, the present superintendent of the County Home. Hanuah J. married Capt. H. P. Boon, of Washington, Pa. Mary became the wife of Capt. William Johnston, of Mount Pleasant.
James Ryburn, of York County, PL, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war from April 1, 1777, to April 1, 1780, when he was discharged. He came to this county and bought a tract of land of James Smith, which had been a part of the "Smithfield" tract, patented by James Ramsey. On this land he lived and died, leaving four children, Matthew, Elizabeth, James, and David. Matthew lived on the homestead where his son, John Ryburn, now lives. He married Catharine, daughter of Thomas Gordon, of Buffalo township. She is now living in her eighty-fifth year on a farm adjoining the homestead with her son Matthew and daughter Elizabeth. David, a son of James, purchased land of his father and died there a bachelor.
Robert McCloskey was a settler in this township as early a 1785. On the 8th of February in that year a warrant was issued to him for land on a branch of Chartiers Creek, which was surveyed to him on the 8th of March following, and was named "Fressan," containing two hundred and seventeen acres. Another mention of this tract gives the name as "Turkey." It was adjoining lands of Andrew Russell and Thomas White. He lived on this farm, and about 1799 he sold to Robert Montgomery three and a half acres of land on the creek, on which Montgomery built a fulling-mill. The place where Robert McCloskey lived is now owned by Alexander Moore. The land was part of the military patent of Crawford and Neville. Settlement was made, and quit-claim deed granted to McCloskey December, 1803. Robert McCloskey died in July, 1815, and left a widow and three sons - John, Wallace, and Robert - and three daughters, - Jane (Mrs. Campbell), Catharine (Mrs. McMillan), and Agnes (Mrs. Mushman).
Matthew Bowland bought of John Struthers, Jr., one hundred and fifty-two acres of land on the 1st of April, 1790, part of "South Hill," and settled upon the farm where he lived and died about 1824. He left sons, Alexander, Robert, and Matthew; a son James died prior to his decease. A daughter Sarah became the wife of Reynolds C. Niel; Agnes married Hugh Mill, of Canonsburg; Ann married James Allison, a son of William Allison; later she became the wife of a Mr. Lyon, of Cadiz, Ohio, who is at present a banker in that place. To Alexander his father left the farm, but to Matthew the use of one-half of it during his life. He died a few years later. The homestead is now in the possession of Samuel Skiles. Robert, son of Matthew, moved to Cadiz, Ohio, and settled there.
Paul and Thomas White settled on the lands of the Crawford-Neville military patent. Robert Russell owns the Paul White tract. Thomas died about 1803, leaving a widow, three daughters - Mary, Sarah, and Jane - and six sons, John, William, Robert, Paul, James, and Thomas. Each of them had a farm given them by their father before his decease.
William Harsha, on the 10th of March, 1797, purchased about two hundred acres of land of James Campbell, a part of a larger tract that was patented to Campbell Feb. 14, 1793. William Harsha died on the 8th of April, 1814, and the land was divided between the three sons, the east part to John, the middle to James, and the west portion to Thomas. On the 4th of February, 1817, John sold his portion to David Boyce. James died about 1830, and left a widow and nine children, most of whom married and settled near the homestead.
Andrew Miller, native of Ireland, came to this country about 1800 with his wife, and bought land in Mount Pleasant township of John Miller, on the road from Hickory to Canonsburg; later he moved to about one and a half miles northwest of Hickory; later still he removed to Chartiers township to the farm on the north fork of Chartiers Creek, where his grandson Andrew now lives. James C. Miller, a son of Andrew, studied law with the Hon. Isaac Leet, of Washington; removed to Wooster, Ohio; practiced there, and died in 1844. Mrs. John Haft and Thomas Miller, of Canonsburg, are also children of Andrew Miller.
John Bennett, a native of Ireland, came to this country many years ago, and purchased one hundred acres of land on the headwaters of Plum Run. He had two children, William and Ann. The former settled first in Canonsburg, and later in Guernsey County, Ohio. His son, Henry Bennett, is now assistant cashier of the Canonsburg Bank. Ann became the wife of Ebenezer Fulton, a son of Samuel Fulton, of Chartiers township. After a few years they removed to Ohio.
Henry Miller settled in this township and raised a family of children, of whom John settled on the homestead now owned by William Caldwell, a son-in-law. Elizabeth married James Dunlap, of Cecil township; Nancy became the wife of Samuel Johnston, and moved to Ohio; Christina married William Bennett. They settled for a time in Canonsburg, and later removed to Muskingum County, Ohio. Henry Bennett, of the Canonsburg Bank, is their son.
James McNary was a son of James who settled in Hanover township; a brother of John McNary, who bought in North Strabane township. He came out to this county in 1780, before his father, and on the 19th of April purchased two hundred and thirty-three acres of land in Chartiers township, near the County Home. He married Margaret, daughter of Thomas Paxton. He was chosen elder of Chartiers United Presbyterian Congregation April 17, 1811, and died in February, 1815, leaving eight children, of whom Samuel married Mary, daughter of Jacob Miller, and settle near Hickory; John P. McNary, a son of Samuel, lives about half a mile from Canonsburg, in Chartiers; Jane, a daughter, became the wife of Thomas Forsythe, and resides in Canonsburg.
William McNary was a son of John McNary, of North Strabane. He purchased a tract of land, on which his son, John C. McNary, now resides. He had twelve children. Martha became the wife of Robert Russell; Thomas M. resides in Canonsburg; William P. is pastor of a United Presbyterian Church of Bloomington, Ill.; James is pastor of a church of the same denomination in Sparta, Ill.
Robert and John Welch were settlers in the township of Chartiers before 1800, and located on land where their descendants still live. James P., an only son of Robert, resides on his father's homestead. Thomas P. Welch, the youngest son of John, resides on the homestead of his father. John and James C. Welch, sons of John, settled early in Hopewell township (now Independence), near Mount Hope Church.
Andrew Russell and his wife, natives of Scotland, emigrated to this country and located near Oxford, Chester Co., Pa., where he lived several years. In the year 1782 he came to this county and purchased a tract of land in Chartiers township, on which he lived and died. It was a part of the Crawford-Neville Military Patent, but was taken out under a Pennsylvania warrant, and later was released from the claim under the military patent by a quit-claim deed that was granted by Presley Neville in 1803. Russell also took a warrant for a tract of land on the north branch of Chartiers Creek on the 17th May, 1802. His family consisted of his wife, seven daughters, and three sons. The log cabin that was first built was later used for a blacksmith-shop, when a larger and more commodious house was erected. His son Andrew inherited the farm, and lived upon it till his death, in 1862, at the age of eighty-five years. He married Anna McClelland, by whom he had eleven children, James, Andrew, Alexander, Robert, John, William, Jane, Isabella, Ann, Eliza, and Nancy. James married Miss McElroy, and resides in Unionport, Ohio. Robert, John, and William are all prosperous farmers in this county. John resides on the homestead of his father and grandfather.
Houstonville.-- The land on which this town is located was part of a tract of two hundred and fifty-six acres, purchased Jan. 4, 1827, by Daniel Houston, of the executors of John Haft. It embraced parts of two tracts of land, one of which was patented to John Martin and William McClean, April 22, 1794, and sold respectively to James Mercer, David Gault, and Joseph Holmes. The other was patented to James Gault, April 23, 1794, and was sold respectively to Hugh Scott, John Jordan, and Joseph Holmes. The latter conveyed it to John Haft, May 3, 1809. Daniel Houston came to this county from Franklin County, Pa., and settled in Middletown for several years, and later bought a farm of William Patterson, in Mount Pleasant township, and in 1827 purchased the land mentioned above, and in a few years after removed to the brick house, where he lived and died. After the completion of the Chartiers Valley Railroad, David C. Houston laid out the present town of Houstonville The first dwelling-house in the new town was built by Alexander T. Haft. A depot was established and a store soon after started. Shipments of milk were soon made from this station to Pittsburgh, and at the present time the farmers of the surrounding country are nearly all engaged in shipping, and this station is one of the most important along the line of the road that supplies the city of Pittsburgh with milk. The town at present contains a depot, post-office, school-house, church, two blacksmith-shops, wagon-shop, boot and shoe-shop, and a sawmill. Two lots were donated by Mr. Houston for school purposes, and in 1878 the present schoolhouse was erected. About 1874 a lot was deeded to the Seceder Congregation, which society erected a small brick church edifice. This society is few in numbers. The members are mostly residents of the county. Among them are John Nesbitt; Samuel Skiles, Mrs. Hugh Huston, John Smith, Sr., and John Smith, Jr. The church is served by the Rev. Mr. Nealy as stated supply.
Locust Hill, or McConnel's Mills.-- This village is located on the north branch of Chartiers Creek. It is on the tract of land that was taken up by Valentine Crawford and Col. John Neville on a military patent, and on that portion of it that was settled on by William Gabby. In 1847, Alexander McConnel built the grist-mill on the creek, and about 1857 a store was erected near, and has been kept by Daniel Leggett, Samuel Paxton, and others. About 1865 a post-office was established in the neighborhood, and was kept at different places by Joseph McKnight, Robert Miller, and James Cotter. In 1872 it was removed to its present location, and became known as "Locust Hill." Since that time the office has been kept by Samuel Paxton, Alexander McConnel, and William Sprowls, who is the present postmaster. There are at present in the village three stores kept by James Borland, Thomas Paxton and William Sprowls, a grist and sawmill, and one physician, Dr. B. A. Lacock.
Allison's Coal-Works, owned by the Hon. Jonathan Allison, are situated on the line of the Chartiers Valley Railroad, in the township of Chartiers. Coal was first discovered on the James Allison tract of land about 1800, and was mined many years for domestic use and blacksmith purposes at twenty-five cents per bushel. Prior to 1874 the drift was not more than one hundred yards in extent, but upon the completion of the Chartiers Valley Railroad the works were extended, and mining commenced for a foreign market. The coal being of superior quality, a demand was soon created in the west and southwest markets. At the present time (1882) the main entry extends about one thousand yards to the northwest. There are four side entries, three on the southwest side, each about six hundred yards in extent, and the one on the northwest side about four hundred yards. About one and a half million bushels of coal are mined annually, requiring the labor of seventy-five miners.
Chartiers Cross-Roads United Presbyterian congregation.1-- From the slight knowledge obtained, it is learned that this church was organized by the Presbytery of Monongahela in the year 1810. The first pastor, Dr. Samuel Findley, labored in the congregation in connection with West Middletown. Dr. John Graham, who followed, divided his labors with congregation in Washington, which was afterwards abandoned. Dr. Alexander McCahan, the third pastor, had as his charge the Cross-Roads and Canonsburg congregations. Rev. David Ferguson, professor of languages in Washington College, being a licentiate, was stated supply for some years. Following him was Rev. T. L. Speer, who died while pastor of the congregation, in 1851. Rev. Joseph Andrews was in charge from 1853 to 1858. Rev. J. C. Herron was installed June 19, 1860, and released Feb. 19, 1867. Rev.. H. A. McDonald was ordained and installed Oct.14, 1869, and released Oct. 17, 1872. The present pastor, Rev. J. A. Grier, was ordained And installed June 23, 1874. The trustees of the society purchased the lot on which their house stands, containing one and a half acres, of Nathaniel Woods on the 30th of September, 1816, it being part of 398 acres granted to Robert Hughes, Nov. 13 1786. Additions have been made to this, and a cemetery is now on a part of the church grounds. The congregation has had three places of worship, the "tent" which was common in early days, the frame building which stood in the area of the present graveyard, and the brick building which is now occupied. They also have a parsonage.
[1 By the pastor, the Rev. J. A. Grier.]
The present elders are Alexander McConnell, E. J. Agnew, Joseph Henderson, and Robert Henderson. The present trustees are James Ross, Jonathan Nesbitt., and Robert Anderson. The membership of the church is 235, and the Sabbath-school in connection has 159 pupils.
Miller's Run Reformed Presbyterian Congregation.-- In the early years of the present century a number of Covenanters were scattered over Washington County, a large number residing in the neighborhood of Canonsbnrg. About 1808 these people were organized into a congregation, and soon afterwards erected a log house for a place of worship on the west side of Main Street opposite the residence of John Briceland. Upon the same lot a burial place was also used. In 1810, Rev. D. Graham received a call from the congregation of Canonsburg. He was a native of Ireland. He accepted the call of this church, though for some reason was not installed as pastor. After preaching two years to this people he was suspended, and left Canonsburg and the church, and studied and practiced law in New York City till his death. "He was a man of great eloquence and personality, and was successful in multiplying converts; but it is evident they joined the man rather than the church, for when he left the congregation they left it likewise." The church was with out a settled pastor for a short time when a call was extended to the Rev. William Gibson, who was installed as pastor about 1815, served nine or ten years, and resigned his charge. Soon after Gordon T. Ewing was called to the pastorate, accepted, was ordained and installed. At his suggestion the old log church at Canonsburg was torn down with the intention of rebuilding, but the health of Mr: Ewing failed, and the church was not rebuilt. His health continuing delicate, at the end of about two years he resigned the charge and returned to Ireland, his native country. On the site of the old foundation a dwelling-house was erected. Several graves are still to be seen at the west end of the church lot. In the year 1834 the Rev. John Crozier was called to the Monongahela congregation, and served this church as a stated supply, but was not regularly installed. He resigned in 1842, and in 1843 the Rev. William Slater, the present pastor, was ordained and installed, and is now serving the congregation in the fortieth year. Soon after the settlement of the Rev. Mr. Crozier the church site was changed from Canonsburg to the present site, five miles north, and a brick house of worship erected, and the society became known thenceforward as Miller's Run congregation. The brick house was in use till the year 1870, when a frame building, larger and more commodious, was erected. The present number of communicants in full and regular standing is 101.
Schools.--The assessment-roll of Chartiers township for the year 1800 contains the names of William Guthrie, Samuel and Isaac Miller, George Munroe, William Tate, and George Welsh, schoolmasters. At this time there were four log school-houses in the township. One on the John Hays farm (now owned by Mrs. Quivy) at the foot of the hill, near where the little stream enters Plum Run. Another was on the line between the farms of Daniel Miller and Hugh McKnight. In 1807, Daniel Black and Samuel Miller were teaching. Between 1815 and 1830, Price Cornwell, John Haft, and others were teaching. At the time of the passage of the school law (1834) there were 438 persons in the township liable to taxation for school purposes, and $360.91 was collected for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the act. The township was divided into seven districts, and in 1836 comfortable schoolhouses were erected. In this year there was received from the county fax $732, and $144.15 received from the State fund, making a total of $876.15, and in 1837 the total amount received for school purposes was $696.62. This township was among those that accepted the provisions of the act from the first, and raised its quota of tax regularly. The town of Canonsburg was embraced in the school district of Chartiers until 1857, when it became by act of Legislature an independent district. In 1863 there were eight school districts containing 387 scholars; the amount collected for school purposes was $1138, and, the expenses were $1121. In 1873 the scholars were decreased to 290, and receipts were $2600, with expenses of $2454.11. In 1880 there were ten districts, with, ten teachers and 369 scholars. The receipts for school purposes were $3106.75, and expenses $3556.75.
WILLIAM HILL McNary.As his name implies, he was of Scotch-Irish origin. His great-grandfather, James McNary, was born in Scotland about the year 1711. The traditions of his family say that he resided a short time in Ireland, and then emigrated to America with his family, consisting of a wife, four sons and a daughter, some time previous to the year 1760. During that year he bought a tract of land in York Count, Pa. He was the head of the largest family of McNarys in the United States, the father of all the McNarys in Washington County. Three of his sons, James, Thomas, and David, emigrated to Washington County with their families. James settled on a farm in Chartiers township, near the poor-house. Thomas bought a farm in North Strabane township (the Sheriff McClelland farm). David settled in Hanover township, near the West Virginia line. He, being the youngest of the sons, brought his father with him, and at his house the old patriarch died in the year 1796, and was buried in the Harmon's Creek Seceder graveyard, near Paris.
John, the grandfather of our subject, was probably the oldest of these four brothers. He also came to Washington County, and bought a tract of land in North Strabane township. He then went back to York County for his family, and died there in 1802.
John McNary, the father of our subject, was the third son of John, of York County. After the death of his father he settled up his father's estate and brought the family to the new home in Washington County and thus became one of the pioneers of the county.
At the time of his death, in 1844, he owned the farm his father bought, and it is still in the possession of his son, James S. McNary. He was a man of upright character, thrifty in business, and an elder in the Chartiers Seceder Church, and raised his family under the old Scotch system of family discipline. He was married to Jane Hill, of Dauphin County, a woman of similar origin, of fine, large physical form, and of very marked character. She was well suited to support him in his pioneer labors, and left the impress of her character upon his children.
William Hill McNary, the subject of this sketch, was their oldest son. He was born on Nov. 26, 1805, amid the forests and stumpy fields of that early settlement. What little schooling he received was obtained in a log schoolhouse, with puncheon floors, seats made of split logs with four legs. It consisted of reading, writing, and arithmetic as far as "the single rule of three.” From his very childhood the Scotch-Irish blood began to show itself in his character. Besides being a good reader and penman, he became a diligent student of books, and intuitively selected the books that furnished the best food for his mind. He became very familiar with the theological and religious books that were to be found in the family libraries of the community, and always kept himself acquainted with the political literature of his times.
At the age of twenty-two he was married to Margaret Murray, a daughter of George Murray, who lived on the hill above Vaneman's Station, a woman of like descent, and of meek and gentle spirit, who by her piety promoted the religious culture of her husband and children, and by her patient industry ministered to his temporal prosperity. They had twelve children, of whom seven survive in 1882, John C. McNary, Esq., of Chartiers township, who lives on the old homestead; Mrs. R. H. Russell, also of Chartiers township; Rev. James W. McNary, of Sparta, Ill. Rev. William P. McNary, of Bloomington, Md.; Thomas M. McNary, of Pittsburgh; Mrs. Rev. E. G. McKinley, of Ligonier, Pa; and Mrs. Rev. J. B. Jackson, of Elderton, Pa.
Soon after his marriage he bought what is now known as the McNary homestead, on Plumb Run, in Chartiers township, and having settled upon it his character began to develop and his influence to be felt in the community. He was naturally a progressive man, and had a foresight which enabled him to place himself in the advance in almost everything among the men of his generation.
He took a great pride in improving his farm and making a pleasant home for his family; introduced improved machinery upon his farm; introduced an improved stock of merino sheep, and had one of the best flocks of sheep in the county as long as he lived on the farm. It is said that he had the first horse-rake and two-wheeled mower in the county. He took a special interest in education. Believing that the best is the cheapest, he always endeavored to get the best teachers that could be found at any cost, and when the subscription was not sufficient he quietly made up the salary out of his own pocket in order to secure such as he desired. In this policy he was zealously supported by some other patrons of the school, and, as a consequence, the Plumb Run school became somewhat celebrated as one of the most advanced schools in that part of the county.
When he came into the community the citizens were somewhat divided on the question of temperance. Whiskey had been the household beverage of the best families of the community in which he was raised; but he had seen the evils of its use, and promptly ranged himself on the side of good morals. Contrary to the prevailing customs of the neighborhood, he refused to furnish liquor to harvest hands or to the guests of his house, and took every opportunity to speak against the evil of using intoxicating liquors as a beverage, and as long as he lived was a radical temperance man.
He was especially distinguished in the community as an anti-slavery man. His intuitive sense of fairness, his natural love of right, and his benevolent nature led him instinctively to espouse the cause of the downtrodden and oppressed race, and at a risk of fine and imprisonment he helped many a fugitive in his flight for liberty. He had been a Whig; but when the Whig party refused to come out against slavery he left it and joined the Free-Soil party. Henceforth standing out against his party, against the pastor of his church, whom he loved and reverenced, against his relatives and neighbors, facing all the odium that gathered around the name of abolitionist, he boldly avowed his principles in every presence, and voted the Free-Soil ticket from 1844 to 1856. He brought Dr. Le Moyne down from Washington to make an abolition speech, in Canonsburg when he could not get permission for him, to speak in schoolhouse, church, or public hall, nor even in the theological seminary, and finally stood by him while he spoke to a crowd assembled on the street. when a call was made for a convention in Pittsburgh, in 1855, to organize a party in Pennsylvania representing the old Whig party, with a plank in its platform declaring in favor of "non-extension of slavery in the Territories," he was promptly on hand.
The other declarations of the party in favor of "Free Homesteads" and "Internal Improvements," proposing to give free homes for laboring men, to build a Pacific Railroad, and to develop the resources of the great West, so happily accorded with his ideas of progress that he at once became a zealous Republican.
At the Pittsburgh Convention he secured the services of Mr. Ichabod Codding, and brought him to Canonsburg and Washington at an expense of twenty dollar, which he paid out of his own pocket, to make the first Republican speeches that were made in the county, when there was not enough Republican sentiment in those towns to give the speaker a free supper, and there was no happier man than he when the old Free-soil party was vindicated by the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. He was not properly a party politician, but rather a man of principles, a man who without rank or official position made his influence felt in society. He did his own thinking, made up his mind intelligently on every question, and was always ready to give a reason for his opinions. When he believed any position to be right he frankly avowed it, and stood up for it even if he had to stand alone. He was a born leader and reformer, and was so recognized by all who knew him. He knew how to give and take hard knocks in the advocacy of his views, but never appeared to know such a feeling as resentment, and his neighbors with whom he had his severest tilts in controversy always knew that they could depend upon his friendship.
Be was charitable to the poor, liberal in the support of every good cause, and his home was always characterized by generous hospitality.
He was an elder in the Chartiers Seceder Church from 1841 to the time of his death, always taking all active interest in the affairs of the church and the cause of Christ, and frequently represented the congregation and the Presbytery in the higher courts of the denomination.
He died it his home in Canonsburg (where he resided in a kind of retirement since 1860) on the 10th of September, 1877.
In the presence of a very large assembly that had gathered in the church at his funeral, the Rev. Samuel Collins, D.D., who knew him for many year, said of him, "as was said of John Knox, ‘There lies one who never feared the face of clay.’ "
The respect of the old colored men of the town was so great that they requested the privilege of walking bareheaded by his bier on its way to the grave, and a grateful widow, speaking for herself and for others whom he had befriended, requested his sons to inscribe on his monument, "The Widow's Friend."
ALEXANDER McCONNEL, Sr.Alexander McConnel, Sr., a native of Charlotte County, Va., born July 10, 1755, came to Washington County when a young man, and married for his first wife Esther Reed. They were married May 16, 1786, and Esther died Nov. 30, 1786. April 28, 1789, he married his second wife, Elizabeth McCrory, who was born Feb. 26, 1767. By this marriage there were six children, --Alexander, born Feb. 2, 1790; David, born Oct,. 5, 1791; Jeane, born Oct. 11, 1793; Prudence, born Nov. 14, 1795; Nancy, born Sept. 20, 1797; Matthew, born Oct. 25, 1799.
The oldest of the children, Alexander, whose portrait is here given, was a farmer - a professional one - who took great interest in improved methods of farming; was the first in the region in which he resided to lay aside the flail for the threshing-machine, and the scythe for the mower. After his marriage he first lived upon a rented farm in Allegheny County; near the county home. After remaining there about two years he removed to the Huffman farm, in the same county, where he lived two years, when he purchased and moved to a farm in Cecil township, Washington County, where he remained for seven years, when he purchased a farm in North Strabane township, where he lived until his death, June 4, 1874. He was a member of the United Presbyterian congregation of Canonsburg, Pa., from its organization by the Associate Reformed Church in 1830. Soon after, April 5, 1832, he was ordained as ruling elder in the same congregation, and continued in that relation until his death. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and served in what was then called the "Northwest Territory." During this campaign he and Dr. Abraham Anderson were messmates. He was twice married, first to Ann Berry, Nov. 29, 1815. She was the mother of his children, seven sons and four daughters. They were, -
Alexander, a sketch of whom appears in Chartiers township. Elizabeth, born Jan. 7, 1819, unmarried. Jane, born Feb. 6, 1821, was first married to Daniel Boyles, and after his death to ------ Collins. Mary A., born Oct. 4,1822, married Richard Fife. Isabel, born Sep 7,1825, married Dr. Vaile. She is dead. John B., born March 19, 1826, married Mary Pollock. David, born Nov. 4, 1827, married Bell Watson. He is dead. Rev. William L., born Sept. 19, 1829, married Anna M'Lurkin. Matthew, born April 30,1831, married Nela Brazleton. James L., born Oct. 25, 1833, married Maria Henderson. A. A, born April 20, 1839, married Lide Johnston. In 1859, Mr. McConnel married his second wife, Miss Sarah Torrens, of Westmoreland Co., Pa., who by her kindness and attention proved to be a source of great comfort to him in his declining years. She survived her husband seven years, and had for her consolation the many sweet promises God has made to the widowed heart. He was much attached to the church of his choice, and took great interest in her prosperity; and, when the infirmities of age prevented him from attending upon the ordinances of grace, he could say, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thy honor dwelleth." During his last years his mind, especially his memory, became impaired, yet his faculties seemed as bright as ever when conversing upon spiritual subjects, and his memory of divine truth was remarkably clear. While his mind lost its hold upon earthly things, it still clung to heavenly things. As an indication of his estimate of the value of religious truth, and the importance of storing it in the youthful mind, he made a provision in his will for giving to each of his grandchildren twelve dollars for committing the shorter catechism within a specified time, and eighteen dollars for committing Fisher's catechism with like condition. "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall bring forth fruit in old age."
ALEXANDER McCONNEL, Jr.Alexander McConnel, Jr. (a sketch of whose ancestors appears in North Strabane township) was born in Allegheny County, Pa., Dec.29, 1816. He was trained to farm-work until sixteen years of age, when he engaged in milling. He began without previous preparation for his work, but by diligent study of the process of flour-making he was soon what he set out to be, a good miller. When twenty-one years of age he was employed to build a mill, which work he entered upon without especial preparation; but he was a natural mechanic, and when the work was complete his employer said, "Well done !" This caused for him a reputation as a skillful, substantial workman, and he was employed for a number of years in different parts of the country in building mills. He built for Hazlett, Dil, Prigg & Co. the first successful steam-mill in Washington, Pa. In 1859 he engaged in farming, which has since occupied his time. While he has lived a busy life, devoted to his own, and his family's interests, he has not been unmindful of his duties as a citizen, and measures for the enhancement of the public weal have found in him a ready and liberal supporter. He gave liberally of his own means, and was instrumental in obtaining the assistance of others, for the construction of the Chartiers Valley Railroad. Before he attained his majority he united with the Associate Reformed, now the United Presbyterian Church of Canonsburg, Pa. In 1847 he removed his membership to the Charters Cross-Roads United Presbyterian Church, it being nearer to his home, and of that organization he has been a ruling elder for about thirty years. He was married Dec. 8, 1853, to Eliza McKnight, of Chartiers township. Two of their children died in infancy and two are living, Joseph M, a farmer, living with his father, and John O., who is member of the senior class of New Wilmington College, Lawrence Co., Pa.
Mr. McConnel has in his possession the old Bible which has been in the family for generations. It bears the following inscription upon its title-page: "Imprinted at London by the Deputies of Christopher barker, Printers to the Queenes most Excellent Majestie, 1599."
HON. JONATHAN ALLISON.In 1773, James Allison came from Cecil County, Md., and settled upon a farm in Washington County, Pa., which he had purchased from Thomas Moffit, and which is now owned and occupied by his grandson, Hon. Jonathan Allison. He was of Irish parentage, and married Jane Bradford, who was of Scotch ancestry, a sister of David Bradford, of Whiskey Insurrection notoriety. He was a prominent Citizen, being an associate judge of the courts of Washington County, and in the years 1786, 1787, 1788, and 1789 a member of the Supreme Executive Council at Philadelphia. He was a ruling elder in Dr. John McMillan's church for a number of years. His son, Thomas Allison, married Mary Johnson, by whom he had ten children. He was a good farmer, a man of exemplary life, and died Oct. 21, 1849, aged sixty-eight years. His wife is still living, an active woman of eighty-four years. Hon. Jonathan Allison, the sixth in the order of birth of Thomas and Mary Allison's children, was born in Chartiers township Washington County, Feb. 3, 1828. When seventeen years of age he entered Jefferson College, where he remained for two years, when owing to the death of a brother he returned home and engaged in farming which has been the principal business of his life. Since the completion of the Chartiers Valley Railroad he has been engaged in developing the bituminous coal with which his farm is underlaid. This vein of coal was first discovered by his grandfather James Allison, about eighty-five years ago and " the first bituminous coal discovered in Washington County. It was hauled for many miles for black-smithing and other purposes, and, as an instance of its then estimated value, it may be stated here that soon after the discovery James Allison sold four acres of it to Judge Baird, of Washington Pa., for seven-teen hundred and fifty dollar.
Jonathan Allison has always taken an active part in politics. He was an ardent Old-Line Whig, being a delegate from his township to the last county convention of that party held in Washington, Pa. He has been a radical republican from the organization of that party, and was by it elected a member of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania for Washington County in 1873, and re-elected in 1874. While in the House he served on the Committees of Ways and Means, Foreign Relations, Mines and Mining, etc. In 1882 he was nominated by acclamation by the Republican convention of Washington County for State Senator for the Forty-sixth Senatorial district, composed of the counties of Washington and Beaver. He has also held the office of justice of the peace and school director in his native township. In public and private life he has borne himself with unquestioned fidelity to duty, and enjoys among the people of the county a high character for probity and honorable dealing. He is and has been for thirty years a member of the Presbyterian Church.
He was married April 7, 1857, to Margaret, daughter of William and Margaret Gabby, of Franklin township, Washington Co., Pa. To them were born eleven children, three of whom died in infancy. One son, William E., was drowned Feb. 10, 1881. His age was ten years. Their living children are Maggie, Albert J., Thomas G., Edwin E., John B., Ralph M., and Jennie.
*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 George and Mary Ann Plance of Gainesville, FL in September 1998. Published in October 1998 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com.
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