Hanover Twp. (pp. 802-811)
History of Washington County, Pennsylvania*
Hanover is the extreme northwestern township of Washington County, having the county of Beaver and the State of West Virginia, respectively, for its northern and western boundaries. On the east it is bounded by Robinson and Smith townships, and on the south by Smith and Jefferson townships. The only streams of any size or importance belonging to Hanover are Raccoon and Harman's Creeks, which respectively mark parts of the eastern and southern boundaries of the township, and King's Creek, which flows in the southwesterly course across the northwestern corner of Hanover.
The territory now forming the township of Hanover was originally embraced in Smith township, and so remained for five years after the erection of the latter, Hanover being erected a separate township in 1786. On the 17th of January in that year a petition of certain inhabitants of Smith township praying for a division of that township was presented to the Court of Quarter Sessions. The petition was granted by the court, and the action confirmed by the Supreme Executive Council on the 2d of September in the same year. The part of the township set off by this division was named Hanover, and embraced the territory lying north of Harman's Creek and Brush Run to the Ohio River, bounded on the east by Raccoon Creek, and west by the Virginia line.
The line dividing the township from Cross Creek and Smith townships ran up Harman's Creek to its source near the old McCurdy farm; thence across the ridge to the head-waters of Brush Run; thence down the run to Raccoon Creek. The village of Florence was in Smith township until the action of court on the 11th of March, 1830, by which the territory south of Brush Run and the heads of Harman's Creek and north of the present line of Hanover and Smith was attached to Hanover.
Two years after Hanover became a township, the erection of Allegheny County, Sept. 24, 1788, took a large portion of its territory, after which this township embraced the following: "Commencing at the intersection of the Ohio River with the State line; thence south along the State line to Harman's Creek; thence up the creek to its source, across the ridge to the headwaters of Brush Run, down the run to its mouth, and down Raccoon Creek to White's Mill; thence northwest in a straight line to the Ohio River and the State line, it being the place of beginning." It so remained until the 24th of March, 1800, when the erection of Beaver County took all that portion of territory north of the line at right angles from White's Mill on Raccoon Creek.
An addition was made to its territory March 30, 1830, by order of court, which embraced the land north of Smith township as at present.
In April, 1793, a petition (indorsed "a petition for Riche township"), and signed by William Ferguson and twenty-three others, "Inhabitants of Smith and Hanover townships," was presented to the court asking for the erection of a new township to embrace a part of Hanover by bounds specified. It was continued to the September term of the same year, when "a petition of a number of the inhabitants of Hanover township" was presented, remonstrating against the granting of the prayer of the first-mentioned petition, and setting forth:
"That they can not see the propriety of dividing the said township in the manner proposed by a petition which was read last sessions for that purpose. It would leave the old township (in shape) unlike anything in the Heavens above or the Earth beneath as far as we know, and as we apprehend the above-mentioned petition, which has been read, was presented with the View to make a Justice of the Peace of one James Fling, a near relation of him your Honors read of in the Pittsburgh Gazette of Aug. 3, 1793, if we mistake not. We therefore object to the Division as proposed in said petition, but we object not to Divide it in the following Manner, that is to begin at the house of Adam Vinnage (formerly of James Dornan) which is on the line between Smith and Hanover townships, and from thence to the nearest branch of King's Creek, and down King's Creek to the State line, which course will be nearly parallel to Allegheny County line, and will leave our Township in a good form and by no means large."
Both petitions were disregarded by the court, and the territory of Hanover township remained intact.
Settlements.—In the assessment-roll of Hanover township for 1800 are found the following names of residents of the township, with their occupations at that time, viz., John Buchanan and John Dornan, merchants; John Gillillan and Robert Leeper, tanners; Samuel Glasgow, justice of the peace; John Irwin, James Nelson, John H.Redick, millers; Jonathan Potts, Daniel McConnell, and William Kerr, blacksmiths. William Carruthers was licensed to keep tavern in the township in 1796, and he kept until 1812. In 1813 the same house was kept by Jane Carruthers. One of the oldest grist-mills was the White Mill, mentioned in 1789 as a point in the boundary line of Beaver, Washington, and Allegheny Counties. This is now Murdochville, in the northeast corner of the township.
One of the earliest settlers in what is now Hanover township was Samuel Johnston, though the precise date of his settlement here has not been ascertained, nor is it known on which of his several tracts of land he made his home, but there is little doubt that it was on the tract "Johnston Hall." The lands he took up were in both the townships of Hanover and Smith. In February, 1780, he was granted two Virginia certificates for lands on Raccoon Creek, one containing four hundred and five acres, and the other (adjoining) of one hundred and eighty-two acres. In the survey (made July 11, 1785) the former was named "Johnston Hall," and the latter "Mill Town." He patented another tract named "Guadeloupe;" and still other large tracts he acquired by purchase from other parties. He also made many sales of land in this section, one of which was of one hundred acres of the "Johnston Hall" tract to Alexander Reed, Feb. 13, 1787. Reed sold it the same day to Matthew Welch, and it is still owned by his son, M. R. Welch. Another sale from the "Johnston Hall" tract was of one hundred acres to John Montgomery, Aug. 24, 1787, and another hundred acres (same date) to John Dodd; this being adjoining lands of James Edgar and David Hays, in Smith township. And on the same date Johnston sold one hundred acres to Job Stout, adjoining lands of John Moore, James Dornan, Isaac Pierce, Philip Jackson, and William Runnell. This last-named sale was from the "Guadeloupe" tract, and on it the village of Florence was afterwards laid out.
On the "Mill Town" tract Mr. Johnston built a mill, and Oct. 12, 1785, he sold the mill property to Humphrey Montgomery. Mr. Montgomery received the deed for this land, Jan. 2, 1795, from Andrew Swearingen and John Hutchinson, "Assignees of the estate of Samuel Johnston." He had become heavily embarrassed in his pecuniary affairs, and from this time his name disappears from the records of township and county.
Samuel Johnston was a man of excellent abilities, and was prominent in that section of the country from his first appearance in 1795. He was nominated and elected with James Edgar as a justice of the peace for Smith township at the first election after the formation of the township. At the same time when he was confirmed by the Supreme Executive Council (Aug. 23, 1781) as justice of the peace he was appointed and confirmed by that body as a justice of the peace of the Court of Common Pleas and of the Orphan's Court of the county. None of his descendants are now living in Hanover township or vicinity.
Alexander Duncan emigrated from Lancaster to Washington County, and located a tract of land in Smith township. His sons were Daniel and John. Daniel was killed by a tree falling upon him during a heavy storm. John Duncan married Elizabeth Moreland. He was ordained an elder in the Three-Spring Church in 1803. His residence was near the present town of Florence. His living children are James, Daniel, and Susan (Mrs. Culley), who is now living in Florence in her eighty-second year.
James Proudfoot emigrated from York County in the year 1782, and settled in what is now Hanover township. On the 8th of December, 1787, he purchased one hundred acres of Job Stout. This was a part of the tract "Guadeloupe" patented by Samuel Johnston, and the same land now owned by James Proudfoot, grandson of the elder James. The farm lies near the town of Florence, and adjoining Philip Jackson.
James Proudfoot, the pioneer, was an elder in the Cross-Roads Presbyterian Church, and justice of the peace for thirty-four years. He married Jane Wallace, of Hanover township, and lived on the homestead all his days, and died May 2, 1856, aged ninety-six years, leaving many descendants.
Nathan Dungan took out a warrant for a tract of land, which was surveyed to him on the 14th of June, 1785, called "Amity," which contained three hundred and fifty-one acres. It was patented April 25, 1788. The family were settlers in the county before its erection. Levi Dungan was a collector in 1781, then of Smith township, now Hanover. He kept tavern in the township many years, and owned a tract of land adjoining Nathan Dungan.
James McNary, a native of Scotland, emigrated to this country prior to 1760, and settled in Chanceford township, York County, Pa., where he bought a farm. A son, James, in 1780, removed to Chartiers township, in Washington County, and in 1783 he removed to Hanover township, and purchased a farm near Paris, where he lived till 1796, and died aged eighty-five years, and was buried in Harmon's Creek churchyard. He had five children, of whom David came with his father, and settled near him, having purchased three hundred acres Oct. 27, 1783. He married Esther Cowden. He was an elder in Dr. Anderson's Harmon Creek congregation. He died in 1817, leaving seven children, of whom Mary married Samuel Martin; William married a sister of the Rev. James Ramsey; John, a son of James, remained in York County for some years, and in 1801 [sic] bought three hundred and forty acres in what is now North Strabane township, and returned home and died early in 1782 [sic]. His family came out to the farm in May, 1802, and his son John took possession of the property, on which James McNary, a grandson, now lives.
Michael Dillow located a tract of land on Dillow's Creek, a branch of Raccoon Creek. He settled before 1780, and in that year received a Virginia certificate for the land on which he had located. It was adjoining the land of Thomas Armour and James Crawford, and a short distance from Thomas Bigger. A survey of Samuel Beeler, made in 1782, shows a road from Fort Dillow to Fort Beeler, and east from there to Turner's Mill. The tract of land was surveyed June 8, 1787, and named "Dillow's Fort," containing three hundred and ninety-one acres. A warrant of the board of property, dated March 24, 1798, was returned to Abraham Kirkpatrick. The land warranted by Matthew Dillow is now owned by Robert R. Coventry. Some time after 1782, Matthew Dillow and his son, John, were at work in the clearing when Indians in ambush shot the father and took the son a prisoner. He saw them secrete the body of his father near a large log before starting on their march. The boy was kept a prisoner for several years, and upon his return was questioned as to what became of the body of his father. He recalled and narrated the incidents of his capture. A number of friends gathered together, and after a search found the skeleton of the elder Dillow. It was brought to near the old fort and buried. A large yellow poplar stands near the site of the old fort. John Dillow built a cabin up the creek from the fort on land now owned by Robert Cooley, whose residence is near the site of the Dillow cabin.
Thomas Armor received a Virginia certificate for a tract of land "situated on the waters of Raccoon Creek, to include his improvements made in the year 1776." This certificate was granted at Cox's Fort Feb. 4, 1780. The land was adjoining Capt. Kirkpatrick Hollingsworth and William Dunnam. It was surveyed on the 16th of February, 1785, named "Golgotha," and contained three hundred and eighty-eight acres. Grace Fuller, a female slave, who was the property of Thomas Armor, lived to be one hundred and seventeen years of age. She remembered being in Dillow's Fort when about seventeen years of age, at the time of an attack by the Indians, about the year 1778. She later was owned by a man of the name of Pierce. A daughter was born to her on Raccoon Creek, who was sold when about ten years of age to Daniel Swearingen, who lived about four miles from Paris. She lived to be upwards of eighty years of age. Her mother had been married to three different husbands, all slaves, two of whom were sold and sent South and one died. She was the mother of eight children. Thomas Armor lived on the tract which he settled upon in 1776 until his death in June, 1826. His sons were William, John, Thomas, and James. His daughters were Nancy and Mary. William came into possession of one hundred and forty-four acres adjoining Raccoon Creek. Nancy became the wife of Benjamin Bubbett, and received one hundred and fourteen acres of the home tract. He was justice of the peace for many years, and an elder in the Robinson United Presbyterian Church. John received one hundred and forty acres, on which he resided. Mary, wife of James Thompson, came into possession of one hundred and fourteen acres on Dillow's Run. Thomas inherited one hundred and forty acres, lying principally in Beaver County. James inherited one hundred and eighty-four acres, the remainder of the home tract. The family is numerous in the township, and the original lands are still in possession of some of them.
A large tract of land in Robinson and Hanover townships was taken up by one Hollingsworth. Isaac and William Donaldson, natives of Ireland, purchased a portion of the tract, part of which is now owned by Andrew B. Donaldson, a grandson of William Donaldson. William Elder occupies the part on which Isaac settled, and is owned by the heirs of Richard, son of Isaac. On a portion of the Hollingsworth tract Joseph Scott settled, and built a mill in this township near Bavington. He had two sons, Benjamin and Joseph. On the 17th of July, 1835, Joseph sold to Robert Withrow, and he to Richard Donaldson. The mill was in operation till about 1879, being then owned by James Donaldson. John Travis came from Ireland shortly after the Revolution, and bought a farm on one hundred and fifty acres of John Sherrard in Dunbar township, Fayette County. In 1798 he purchased a farm about a mile and a half east of the cross-roads, on one of the branches of Raccoon Creek, where he settled. He was an elder in the Laurel Hill congregation, and was chosen an elder in the Cross-Roads Church, formerly King's Creek Church. He became insane while living in Dunbar township, but had entirely recovered before removing to this place.
For many years after he settled on Raccoon all went well with him, but after a time his son Samuel, who was a trader down the Mississippi, having returned from a remarkably successful trip by way of New Orleans to Havana, Cuba, where he sold his cargo of flour at $25 per barrel, induced his father to risk property in his hands belonging to minor heirs to fit him out on another trip to the same place in the expectation of making a fortune. The trip was made and the flour sold in Havana as advantageously as before, but in New Orleans, when on his way home, the son fell in company of gamblers, and was by them robbed of the entire proceeds of the voyage. Knowing that this would be the ruin of his father, Samuel dared not return, and was never again seen in Pennsylvania. The following in reference to this sad affair is related by Robert A. Sherrard in his "History of Centre Church:"
"John Travis bore up under what he knew would be the loss ultimately of his property, both real and personal. Time rolled on, and the young heirs became of lawful age to receive each their rightful share of the money for which Mr. Travis must now, as their guardian, account to them for, and no money on hand to pay either principal or interest. His personal property was first sold, and then his farm, and he left poor and destitute, and old age advancing upon him, and no help for him. But he bore up under every difficulty with Christian courage and fortitude. It was the wonder of many of his old friends and acquaintances, who knew of the calamity that had befallen him, by his becoming crazy. He withstood the loss of his property with the greatest of Christian fortitude, for he put his trust in God, and He did not forsake him in the time of his sore trial. For he had full confidence that God would provide for him as long as He pleased to let him stay on His footstool. And it was even so; for, although he was reduced to the necessity of crossing the Ohio River, and the taking of a lease for a term of years in Columbiana County, Ohio, after the expiration of his lease he returned to the settlement near Briceland Cross-Roads (now Florence), and spent the few days that God was pleased to grant him, where he at length died in peace at an advanced, ripe old age, much missed and much lamented by all who knew him. He was a man of eminent piety, useful as a peacemaker both in church and State, or wherever it pleased God to give him a home."
John Travis had four other sons, all of whom became members of the church. Several of his posterity are elders in Presbyterian Churches in various parts of the country.
Robert Wallace was a native of Scotland, who emigrated to this State and settled first in Indiana County, and later to what is now Hanover township, Washington County, where he took up a tract of land which was afterwards surveyed a "Wallace's Bower," and contained three hundred and seventy-nine and three-quarter acres, adjoining lands of James Dornan, James Crawford, Isaac Pierce, and others. In 1782, on the 10th of February, Robert Wallace's cabin was attacked and burned by Indians during his absence, and his wife and children taken prisoners by the savages as mentioned in the general history of the county. The story of the fate which befell them is told by Butterfield in his "Crawford's Campaign Against Sandusky" thus: "With their prisoners, consisting of Mrs. Wallace, her little son Robert two and a half years old, another son ten years of age, and an infant daughter, and what plunder they could carry off, the savages made their way toward the Ohio, but finding the mother and her infant somewhat troublesome, they were tomahawked and scalped. The two boys were carried to Sandusky, where the elder died. Robert was then sold to the Wyandots, by whom he was held in captivity about two and a half years. His father hearing of him, sent a man to the Wyandot towns after peace had been declared, giving him a certain mark by which the boy could be recognized, and by that means he was rescued and restored to his friends." Robert Wallace, Jr., who was taken captive by the Indians, as above narrated, married Miss Mary Walker and settled in Robinson township, where they lived and died. Joseph and Robert Wallace, of that township, are his descendants. The tract "Wallace's Bower" has been divided, a portion belonging to Robert Wallace has long since passed to others, and is now owned by John B. Burns. Mrs. Culley, of Hanover, is also a descendant of Robert Wallace.
Adam and Andrew Poe were emigrants from New England, and came to this county at the same time as did Philip Jackson, Robert Wallace, and others. They located tracts of land for which they were granted Virginia certificates. The tract Adam selected was surveyed Jan. 13, 1786, and was named "Poeville." It contained three hundred and seventy-seven acres, adjoining lands of Matthew Ritchie, Isaac Miller, and John Comly. The tract selected by Andrew was surveyed Feb. 15, 1786, was named "Poe Wood," and contained three hundred and thirty-three acres. This was adjoining land of Robert Laughlin and William Matthews. They also owned a tract of land prior to this time in Smith township, where they lived at the time of the burning of the Wallace cabin. That tract they sold to Arthur Campbell. Adam and Andrew both sold their farms in this county, and moved to Ohio and West Virginia.
The brothers Andrew and Adam Poe were men remarkable for their personal prowess,-- powerfully built, active, and fearless,-- and they enjoyed great renown among the borderers as among the bravest and most successful of fighters in the Indian hostilities that were carried on along the Ohio River frontier from 1777 to 1784. Many accounts of their remarkable adventures in Indian fighting are found in the annals of frontier warfare.
Augustine Moore came to this county about 1790, and settled on a tract of land about one mile north of Florence, part of which tract is now owned by the heirs of John McConnell, whose wife was a daughter of Moore. He lived and died on the farm, leaving children, of whom John emigrated West; William became a pilot on the river, and died at Wellsville, Ohio; Ellen, who became Mrs. McConnell, now ninety-six years of age, lives with her son-in-law, S.D. Lockhart, near Paris; Rebecca married Gilbert Cool, and settled in Robinson township, where they lived and died. Another daughter became the wife of Charles Hoey, and settled in Ashland County, Ohio, where she died. They were cousins of the late Hon. John L. Dawson, of Fayette County, and relatives of the Swearingen family.
William McConnell came to this county about the year 1784, and located a tract lying on the waters of Harmon's Run, containing two hundred and forty-three acres. It was named "The Hermitage," and at that time was adjoining lands of John Stone and George McCullough. On the 24th of February, 1795, he purchased two hundred and fifty-seven acres of William Campbell, part of a tract of four hundred acres patented to Campbell April 5, 1787. Later he purchased one hundred and five acres of the heirs of William Bay adjoining his other lands. He lived and died on his original farm, later known as the Dinsmore farm. His wife lived many years later, and died at an advanced age at the residence of her son, John McConnell. They had five sons,-- John, William, Daniel, Samuel, and James. John married Ellen Moore, daughter of Augustine Moore, in 1807, and settled on the McConnell home farm, where he had lived since he was seven years of age, and where they lived together seventy-two years. He died April 9, 1879, aged ninety-five years. William, the second son of William McConnell, entered Washington College, and died while there. Daniel emigrated to Texas, where he lived and died. He was with Gen. Sam Houston at the battle of San Jacinto. Samuel settled in Columbiana County, Ohio, where he died. James also settled in Ohio. Isabella, a daughter of William McConnell, became the wife of John Pyatt, and settled in what is now West Virginia.
Jonas Potts became a land-owner in Hanover township in 1787, but it is believed that he had been a resident of the county for a considerable time before that. He was born in Loudoun County, Va., where the family settled in 1746, having gone there from Eastern Pennsylvania. Jonas Potts was the son of Jonas Potts, Sr. The traditions preserved in the family state that Jonas Potts, Sr., came to that section lying between the present town of Washington and the Ohio River when it was a wilderness. He is said to have died at Georgetown, on the Ohio River, in 1819. He had eight sons. Jonas, Jr., John and Jonathan settled in Washington County, but the latter two afterwards removed to Ohio. John Potts was the ancestor of Gen. Benjamin F. Potts, Governor of Montana Territory.
On March 20, 1787, Jonas Potts, Jr., bought of William Holmes a certain two-hundred-acre warrant in the name of William Holmes, dated Feb. 23, 1786. On Jan. 9, 1788, Jonas Potts was granted a patent for four hundred and four acres, which is recorded in patent Book No. 12, page 102. He also bought land of Matthew Ritchie and of Samuel Marques. His wife's name was Hannah. She was still living in 1824. He died in 1833 at an advanced age, leaving four sons—David, Jesse, Jonas, and Samuel—and a daughter Anna, the wife of Jonas Sams. William J. Potts, now of Florence, is a son of the last-named Jonas Potts.
John Tucker emigrated with his wife from the New England States in company with the Poes, Potts, Jacksons, and other families. He located a tract of land on the dividing ridge between King's and Harmon's Creeks. The warrant was dated Jan. 4, 1788. The tract contained four hundred acres, and was named "Grace." It was not surveyed until March 17, 1812, and was at that time adjoining lands of Aaron Davis, James Pollock, James Potts, Thomas Haines, George McCormick, and Jonathan Albertross. John Tucker had married in the Eastern States a lady by whom he had one son, who afterwards became the Rev. John Tucker. After the death of his first wife he married again, and emigrated to this township. The children by the second wife were Jonathan, Thomas and David. Jonathan and David now reside on the homestead. The Rev. John Tucker came to this county with his father, but joined a party of emigrants bound for Kentucky, and was killed by Indians while on his way there.
Levi Culley emigrated to this county after 1800, and purchased part of the tract then belonging to John L. Proudfoot, and settled upon it. His sons were Jesse, Joseph, George, Robert, Levi, and John. Jesse settled on an adjoining farm. He married Susan, a daughter of Elder John Duncan. They lived and died there, leaving descendants. Joseph married Martha, the daughter of Benjamin Scott. They settled on part of the Scott farm, now owned by their son Joseph. George married Jane Fulton, and settled on the homestead where he died. His widow still survives. A daughter became the wife of John W. Duncan, who occupies the property. Robert Culley was a cabinetmaker by trade, married Amanda McCloud, settled in Florence, and died Aug. 21, 1848. Levi married Mary Ann Butterfoes, and settled in Cambridge, Ohio. John married Julia, daughter of James Briceland, who kept the Florence Hotel many years. They settled on the James Smith farm, adjoining the farm of his father.
Levi Culley also had four daughters, of whom Eleanor became the wife of Robert G. Smith, of Florence. (Mrs. Catherine Hood, of Burgettstown, and Mrs. Esther Clelland, of Florence, are daughters of Robert and Eleanor Smith.) Lydia married James Culbertson, and settled in Iowa. Esther became the wife of William Cole, and settled on a farm of David Fulton, a part of the old Thomas Cole tract.
Philip Jackson, a Welshman, or of Welsh descent, emigrated to Maryland, where he remained several years, then came west of the mountains, and finally located in Hanover about the time of the erection of the township. He applied for a warrant which was granted Feb. 22, 1786. The tract was named "Satisfaction," and contained three hundred and ninety-six acres. It was adjoining Joseph Jackson, Joseph Holmes, Isaac Pierce, Samuel Johnson, and Jonah Potts. He married Miss Rosannah Murphy, by whom he had five sons, Joseph, John, Moses, Mason, Philip, and two daughters, Ann and Elsie. Joseph, the eldest son, took out a warrant for a tract of land adjoining Philip Jackson (his father), Benjamin Jackson (his uncle), Jonah Potts, and John Tucker. The warrant bears date Sept. 6, 1787, and was surveyed as two hundred and sixty acres, and named "Delay." On this place he lived and died. His children emigrated to the West. Moses settled on the homestead, and the property is now owned by Marion Jackson, his son, and the grandson of Philip. The sons of Mason were John and Philip. Ann (daughter of Philip, Sr.) became the wife of Robert Murphy, and emigrated to Michigan. Elsie became the wife of William Travis, and also moved West.
Philip Jackson, Sr., was one of the original members of the Cross-Roads Church, and signed the call in 1799 for the Rev. Elisha McCurdy to become the pastor of that church. Benjamin Jackson was a brother of Philip, and owned an adjoining tract.
Samuel Merchant, who was an Irishman, emigrated to this country in 1765 and settled in Maryland, where he remained until the year 1778, when he came to this county and settled on the farm for which he later received a warrant and patent. In February of that year he located a tomahawk improvement and built a cabin. The Indians were very troublesome, and his family, consisting of his wife and child, were sent to Beeler's Fort for protection. About that time Indian raids in that section were numerous, and he removed to Westmoreland County, where he remained till the spring of 1779, when he returned to his farm in Hanover, which was a tract of 301 acres, named "Atlas." On this tract he lived till his death. His son John inherited a portion of the homestead, and on the 28th of January, 1811, sold to Joseph Scott and emigrated to Ohio, where he died. Margaret, a daughter of Samuel Merchant, became the wife of James Proudfoot, and lived and died near Florence. Prudence never married, and lived at the homestead, and died at an advanced age. Ann, the youngest daughter, married Matthew McConnell. They settled on the "Atlas" tract, where she lived to the age of eighty-one years. Their sons now living are Samuel and Matthew F. The family of McConnells came from Scotland in 1781, and settled in Cecil township.
Among the early settlers in the township, but of whom but little is known, are the following: James Simpson received a warrant for a tract of land lying on the waters of King Creek, dated Feb. 18, 1785, surveyed as "Middle Brook" Jan.18, 1786, adjoining Samuel Moore, Hugh Miller, and John Lee Webster. Samuel Clark owned four hundred acres where his descendants still reside. John Comley owned one hundred acres, and had a horse-mill where Thomas Hunter now lives on Harmon's Creek. He left several children. The mill was in use as late as 1820, and the site is now occupied by a steam grist-mill. Hugh Miller, in 1786, owned a large tract of land adjoining the lands of James Simpson. Later his son John owned two hundred acres. John Kirby had a warrant for a tract of land dated Jan. 15, 1785, surveyed December 14th the same year as "Slave Gallant," and contained four hundred and thirty-one acres.
Florence.—The tract of land on which this town is located was granted to Samuel Johnston on a Virginia certificate, Feb. 25, 1780, and was surveyed to him on the 25th of July, 1785, as "Guadeloupe," and patented on the 28th of February, 1786. One hundred acres of the tract was sold by Johnston on the 24th of August, 1787, to Job Stout, who sold it on the 8th of December of the same year to James Proudfoot. On this place a town was platted in 1814, called "Mount Bethel." By this name it was known as late as 1823, and is found so mentioned in a deed from James Proudfoot to Daniel McLoud, dated June 20th of that year, by which is conveyed lot No. 1 "in the town of Mount Bethel." On the 15th of May, 1834, the same lot is sold by McLoud to James Briceland, and is there mentioned as being in the town of Florence. Other lot-owners in 1823, whose lots were adjoining McLoud, were William Criswell, Joseph Stewart, and -----[sic] Ritchie. The town was in Smith township until 1830, when it became part of Hanover.
The one hundred acres purchased from "Guadeloupe" was adjoining the tract "Satisfaction," owned by Philip Jackson, and the tract "Contention," owned by Samuel Marques. The Rev. Elisha McCurdy had purchased of Philip Jackson, Feb.11, 1803, ten acres, and on the 9th of September, 1816, sold it to James Briceland. Samuel Marques, who patented "Contention" in April, 1799, sold to Jacob Specht, June 12, 1806, eight-eight acres. Specht sold to James Briceland on the 1st of May, 1816. These two parcels of land were owned by James Briceland and adjoining the town of "Mount Bethel." Additions were made by Briceland and lots sold by him. He kept tavern for many years from 1813 at the Briceland Cross-Roads, as it was called before it was laid out as a town.
The following advertisement was published in the Washington Reporter of Aug. 15, 1814, and has reference to the town which afterwards became Florence:
"NEW TOWN.—The Subscribers respectfully inform the public that they have laid out a town at the Cross-Roads in Smith's Township, Washington County, Pa., where the roads from Pittsburgh to Steubenville and from Washington to Georgetown crosses. Various circumstances conspire to make this an eligible situation for a town or village. The site of the town is handsome, the situation healthy, the land rich, the water good, and abundance of stone coal within 100 perches; the adjacent country is fertile, and in a forward state of cultivation. The roads passing through the village are much occupied at present, and must annually increase, it being on the direct route by land from Pittsburgh, the focus of the Western country, down the river—the distance from Pittsburgh 26, from Steubenville 12 miles. The lots will be sold by vendue on Tuesday, the 6th of Sept. next. The sale to commence at 11 o'clk. An indisputable title will be given, and the terms of sale made known by
"JAMES BRICELAND and
"Aug. 15, 1814."
The first store in the town was kept by a Mr. Anderson. A tannery was soon after established by James Allison. Benjamin Kindrich opened a silver-plating establishment. William Mercer also kept a store here many years ago. In 1825 Dr. Day was a practicing physician in Florence. He was succeeded by Drs. Scott, Sutherland, Smith, Makakey, Cunningham, McDowell, Bradley, Anderson, McCoy, Carroll, Graham, and McCarroll. The first post-office in this section was a white-oak tree a short distance below Florence, on which was nailed a clapboard box, in which letters and papers were placed by the postman, who passed through the town from Washington to Georgetown. About 1818 a post-office was established in the town, and Moses Bradford was the first postmaster. He was succeeded by John Mitchell in 1822. William L. Robb was in office in 1833; John K. Norton from 1835 to 1837; Charles Calhoun in 1838. The succeeding postmasters have been William L. Robb, O.P. Walker, William Criswell, Samuel Livingston, Joseph Bell, W.J. Cool, and Dr. G.S. Graham, who is the present incumbent.
The residence and tavern stand of James Briceland is still standing, now owned by John Dennis. In the year 1845 a small newspaper was established called the Florence Enterprise. It lasted but a short time. An agricultural society was established in 1858, and a fair held that year. This was continued for several years. It was known as the "Florence Agricultural Association." The third annual exhibition was held at Florence on the 27th and 28th of September, 1860. The officers were William Livingston, president; John McCullough, James H. McNall, Marshall Short, Thomas P. Vance, and John Ferguson, vice-presidents; M. Anderson, treasurer; S.L.M. Henry, secretary. The society lived a few years, then languished, and was discontinued.
A Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the town in the year 1833 by the Rev. Wesley Smith. A lot of ground was donated by James Proudfoot, on which was erected a large frame building. This was blown down by a violent storm, and the present building was erected. A parsonage was also built. The society belongs to the same charge with the Tucker Church, and the pastors who have ministered to that church have also had the care of this. The membership at present is very small, and but little care is given to the church property.
Cross-Roads Presbyterian Church.—The mother-church from which this society and that of the Three Springs Church sprang was known as "King's Creek Presbyterian Church." The ordinance of the Lord's Supper was administered first in August of the year 1788. Philip Jackson, Miles Wilson, and John McMillan were then elders. Ten years later it was thought best by a large majority of the congregation to remove the place of worship from King's Creek to the "Cross-Roads," now Florence.
On the 20th of November, 1799, a call was extended to the Rev. Elisha McCurdy by the united congregations of Three Springs and Cross-Roads to become their pastor. This call was signed by Philip Jackson, James Proudfoot, Samuel Merchant, William Jackson, John Goodman Young, William Lee, John Coulter, John Wylie, William Ledlie, and John Orr. The call was accepted, and the Rev. Mr. McCurdy was ordained and installed pastor of the united congregations in June, 1800.
The following are the names of the persons who were chosen as elders from the organization of the society till 1807, while the society worshiped in the old log church, viz.: 1786, Philip Jackson, Miles Wilson, John McMillan; 1799, John Orr, John Goodman Young, William Lee, and John Wylie; 1800, John Travis, John Riddle; 1803, Samuel Fulton, James Proudfoot, John Duncan, Sr.; 1804, John Withrow; 1807, Joseph Jackson, James Allison.
The ministers who have served the church as pastors were and have been as follows: Rev. Elisha McCurdy, June, 1800-35. Rev. Daniel Dewrelle, supply in 1836. Rev. William Burton, 1838; resigned February, 1839. Rev. J.W. McKennan, November, 1839; resigned 1841. Rev. Joel Stoneroad, 1842; resigned 1850. Rev. J.S. Wylie, 1850; resigned 1851. Rev. Oliphant M. Todd, November, 1852; resigned 1858. Rev. John P. Caldwell, 1860; resigned 1864. Rev. A.W. Boyd, 1864; resigned 1865. Rev. I.M. Miller, 1867; resigned 1871. Rev. Samuel Forbes, resigned 1876. Rev. Ross Stephenson, July, 1877, to the present time.
The society first worshiped in a tent, which was soon after replaced by a hewed log house, which stood on the site of Alexander Scott's shop. It was built in the form of a cross, about forty by eighty feet in size. This was sold to John Proudfoot, who built a barn of the logs. A neat two-story brick church was then erected, which was destroyed by fire on the 23d of September, 1845. The present church edifice was erected in the fall of the same year.
Presbyterian Graveyard.—In this old ground, located at Florence, many of the old settlers in this section of country were buried, among them the following: David Jackson, died Feb. 13, 1802, in the 53d year of his age; Mary McFarren, died Nov. 29, 1817 in the 61st year of her age; Sarah McCurdy, wife of the Rev. Elisha McCurdy, died Oct. 26, 1818, in her 48th year; Jane McFarren, died Sept. 25, 1820, aged 68 years; Daniel McLoud, died Jan. 29, 1829, in the 82nd year of his age; John Barton, died Feb. 22, 1838, aged 82 years; Daniel McConnell, died Jan. 31, 1843, aged 70 years; John McConnell, Sr., died April 11, 1879, in his 95th year; Benjamin Scott, died Sept. 20, 1877, aged 85 years. The Rev. Robert Fulton, who founded the Florence Academy in 1832, died Aug. 20, 1842, in Wellsburg, Va., in the 38th year of his age, and was buried here.
The Rev. Elisha McCurdy was buried here, and the following is inscribed upon his tombstone:
"In memory of the Rev. Elisha McCurdy, Late Pastor of the Congregation of Cross Roads. Born October 15th, 1763. Licensed June 24th, 1799. Ordained and Installed Pastor June, 1800. A Pastor 35 years and minister of the Gospel 46 years. Died July 22d, 1845. He took an active part in the great revival of 1802, and was distinguished for his zealous labors in the cause of Indian Missions."
Florence Academy.—This institution was founded by Robert Fulton in 1832, and first located in a house now the residence of Alexander Scott. Soon afterwards a brick building was erected for its use on the lot of ground belonging to the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Fulton's proprietorship continued till the year 1839. A more extended account of this academy will be found on pages 452, 453 of this work, in the educational chapter contributed by the Rev. James I. Brownson, D.D.
The "Rural Female Seminary" was in existence in Florence in September, 1835. It was then in charge of Mrs. Paull, governess, and Miss Cutter, teacher. Neither the date of its establishment nor the period of its continuance is known.
Murdochtown is situated on Raccoon Creek, at the point of intersection of the lines of Washington, Beaver, and Allegheny Counties. Five townships (Hanover and Robinson in Washington County, Independence and Beaver in Beaver County, and Finley township of Allegheny County) all corner here. The land at this place was originally owned by John White, and from 1780 to long after 1800 the place was known as White's Mill. A grist- and saw-mill is now owned here by John Withrow. The town was named after James Murdoch, who was an early settler here, and is said to have been the first postmaster. The place now contains nine dwellings, a school-house, post-office, store, blacksmith-shop, wagon-shop, and shoe-shop.
Paris.—This little town is situated in the western part of the township. It was laid out by Samuel Hill and Richard Ward. The latter built the first house in the town, in which he kept a tavern to accommodate travelers on the Pittsburgh and Steubenville turnpike, which passed through this place. The building is now the property of Mrs. Freshwater, of Hancock County, W.Va., and is used as the post-office. Among the early residents was Dr. Ramsey, who practiced in this region prior to 1840, and later emigrated to Ohio. Among the early merchants were Wolf, Gibson, McCabe and McCuen. The town now contains twenty-six dwellings, three stores, two blacksmith-shops, a cabinet-maker's shop, two churches (United Presbyterian and Presbyterian), a schoolhouse, and the Paris Collegiate Institute, which was established in October, 1878, by Prof. William I. Brugh, who is still the principal. The resident physician is Dr. James H. Christy.
United Presbyterian Church.—A Seceder's Church was organized and a meeting-house built between Holliday's Cove and Cross-Roads as early as the summer of 1785, near the place where the village of Paris now stands. The congregation at that time was much scattered, and it was first thought best to build about two miles south of Paris, near a spring (which about the year 1860 supplied the mansion-house of Thomas Graham). For that purpose those interested gathered at that place and cut the logs for the house. After further consultation, however, the society concluded to build, and did build where Paris now stands. This place of worship was kept for twenty years, when the society became so reduced in numbers by deaths, removals, and the growing interest of the union of the two parties of the church that the Seceder house of worship was given up to the united congregation, and remains in their possession to the present time.
In 1813 the Rev. George Buchanan accepted a call to preach one-half the time to this society, and the other half to the Associate Reformed Society in Steubenville. He was a native of York County, Pa., received his early education at Gettysburg, and graduated at Dickinson College, Carlisle. He was licensed in the city of New York, and for a year or two preached in the city of Baltimore, and came west of the mountains in 1809, and placed himself under the Monongahela Presbytery. He remained as pastor of these churches for thirty years, and was succeeded by his son-in-law, the Rev. James Galloway, who served until 1851, when he removed to Steubenville, and with the Rev. Joseph Buchanan established an academy, which they conducted successfully many years.
After the Rev. Mr. Galloway came the Rev. Joseph Buchanan as pastor. He was succeeded by the Rev. James C. Campbell, who began his labors in 1855, and continued until April, 1875. He was succeeded by the Rev. John C. May on the 1st of April, 1876. Mr. May was released in February, 1878. The Rev. William J. Cooper, the present pastor, commenced his labors on the 1st of April, 1880. The elders who have served the church since 1868 are David S. Fulton, June 16, 1868; James P. McCalmont, April 3, 1876; David Gardner, April 4, 1881; James Morton, April 4, 1881.
The first place of preaching was a log building that stood on the Steubenville pike, on the line between Pennsylvania and Virginia (now West Virginia). Soon after the Rev. George Buchanan became the pastor a new meeting-house was built "out of small hewed logs, with a recess set back for the pulpit to be placed in, after the plan of many of the early Presbyterian meeting-houses that were built west of the mountains." The house stood exactly on the State line, the preacher being in one State and the congregation mostly in the other. No provision was made for heating the house for many years. On great occasions the society held services in a grove, a tent being erected for the preacher, and the congregation were seated upon logs. After many years a stove was allowed to be put up in the church, and on a cold winter's day the stove was heated so hot that it set the church on fire. All saw the danger, but the old men could not put the fire out, and the young men wanted to see it burn. One old man rose and said, "Young men, will you sit and see the house of God burn down?" This appeal, with a few urgent remarks from Mr. Buchanan, incited the young men to activity, and with snow the fire was finally put out. This building remained in use until after 1843, and under the ministration of the Rev. Mr. Galloway a new brick meeting-house was erected at the east end of the village of Paris, south of and on the Pittsburgh road, where it is still standing and in use.
Methodist Episcopal Church.—This church, whose place of worship is the "Tucker Meetinghouse," was organized in 1824, by the Rev. Thomas Jamison. The original members were John Tucker and his wife, Jonathan Tucker and wife, James Jackson, and Elizabeth and Jane Hanlin. A small class had been formed previous to this time, and meetings were held in the house of Jonathan Tucker. A lot of land was purchased of John Tucker, situated on the Pittsburgh and Steubenville turnpike midway between Florence and Paris, and a stone meeting-house was built, which has been in use to the present time. The society have now under consultation the proposition to erect a new building in place of the present one. The ministers who have been in charge since 1828 to the present time are named below, viz.:
David Merryman, Jacob Young, William Hanlin, George McKaskies, Hiram Gilmore, ----- McMahon, John Spencer, Richard Armstrong, Wesley Smith, George L. Sisson, ----- Swaney, Simon Locke, G. Foster, Charles Thorn, John P. Kent, Israel Dallas, Harvey Bradshaw, Elisha P. Jacobs, Ebenezer Hays, W.P. Blackburn, C. Jackson, J. Gibson, J. Boggs, Joshua Munroe, John Gregg, R. Jordan, G. Jones, G.A. Lorrian, ----- Dorsey, J. Wright, David Hess, L. Dales, George B. Hudson, D.A. McCready, A.J. Rich, ----- Burbuage, James Turner, George Dunlap, S.H. Nesbit, Warner Long, James Hollinshead, M.B. Pugh, J.L. Stiffy, J. Kesler, J.J. Hays, J. Kesler, A. Baker, P.M. Hudson, I.N. Boyle, J.V. Yarnell, J. Jones, J.M. Maver, C. McCaslin, W.P. Blackburn, J. Williams, W. Gamble, G.A. Sheets, M.M. Sweeney, E. Jones, E. Taylor, A.V. Galbreath, G. V. Hudson, D.K. Stephenson, M.S. Kendig.
In the graveyard of the Tucker Church are found inscriptions to the memory of the following-named persons who were buried there, viz.: John Tucker, died April 6, 1831, aged one hundred years; Henrietta Tucker, died Nov. 29, 1833, aged ninety-six years; Edward Shipley, died April 6, 1817, aged eighty-three years; Martha Ralston, died July 1, 1839, aged seventy-three years; Elizabeth Miller, died July 4, 1846, aged seventy-three years; Ann Cole, died Oct. 8, 1847, aged eighty-eight years.
The burial-place that is used by the people of the town of Paris contains among others the following: Robert Gibson, died Oct. 24, 1807, aged sixty-nine years; William Wallace, died Nov. 10, 1825, aged seventy-seven years; John Gorley, died Feb. 14, 1831, aged seventy-six years; William Leadlie, died Jan. 5, 1835, aged eighty-eight years; George M.C. Keazy, died Dec. 16, 1836, aged eighty-seven years; James Caldwell, died Oct. 10, 1837, aged seventy-six years; William McClung, died Sept. 18, 1842, aged eighty years; Joseph Lyon, Sr., died May 26, 1852, aged seventy-seven years; Robert Simpson, died Oct. 29, 1855, aged eighty-eight years.
Schools.—In the year 1805 a Mr. Shaw taught school in a cabin on the farm now known as the D.C. Fulton farm. In 1810, George Cunningham taught one year in the same cabin. In 1817, Richard Shillcock taught in a house on the farm now owned by John W. Duncan. Hugh Barton afterwards taught about two years in the same house, and still later John McCreary taught a school in it. Douglas Geary taught in a house on the land of Joseph Scott, then in Smith township, now Hanover.
Schools were not taught in the township with any regularity until after the passage of the school law of 1834. David McCoy was appointed from this township to attend as a delegate the county convention held in Washington, November 4th of that year, to discuss the question of accepting the provisions of the school law, and whether to levy the tax in accordance with it. When the question was brought to vote, Mr. McCoy was one of five who voted nay. Election was held at the school-house in Florence on the 20th of March, 1835, for directors, and James Braden and Robert Coventry were elected. The next year the township was districted, and houses were erected soon after. In 1863 there were fourteen districts with fourteen teachers in the township. Six hundred and two pupils were enrolled, and $2218.07 was raised for school purposes. The districts remain unchanged since then. In 1873 there were 466 scholars, and $5182.86 was raised, and $4705.08 expended. In 1880 there were 478 scholars, and $2856.62 received for school purposes, with an expenditure of $3023.17 for the same purpose.
Justices of the Peace.—This township was an independent district from its erection in 1786 to 1803, when it was embraced in District No. 4 and so remained till 1838 when it again became an independent district. The names of the justices of the peace who exercised jurisdiction over the territory during the time it was embraced in District No. 4, will be found in the justices' list of Smith township. The names of those appointed and elected in Hanover township during the two periods in which it was an independent district are given in the following list, together with the dates of their appointments or election, viz.:
Samuel Glasgow, May 7, 1788.
Robert Neely, April 14, 1863.
Samuel Fleming, Feb. 9, 1799.
John McCullough, June 3, 1865.
William L. Robb, April 14, 1840.
John McCullough, March 29, 1870.
Benjamin Bubbett, April 14, 1840.
Samuel Martin, March 29, 1870.
John McCullough, April 15, 1845.
John McCullough , Jan. 28 1874.
Benjamin Bubbett, April 15, 1845.
Samuel Martin, May 24, 1874.
Walter Buchanan, April 11, 1848.
John McCullough, March 17, 1875.
John McCullough, April 9, 1850.
Oliver P. Shields, March 10, 1876.
Walter Buchanan, April 13, 1853.
Alex. McConnell, March 14, 1877.
John McCullough, April 10, 1855.
H.A. Jackson, March 25, 1878.
Walter Buchanan, April 13, 1858.
Francis Finnegan, March 25, 1878.
John McCullough, April 10, 1860.
*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 Priscilla Corbett of Abington, PA in June 1998. Published in June 1998 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com.
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