Union Twp. (pp. 960-969)The township of Union lies in the northeast corner of Washington County, on the convex side of a sweeping bend of the Monongahela River, which forms its entire eastern boundary. On the north and northeast the township is bounded by Allegheny County, on the west by Peters and Nottingham townships, and on the south by the township of Carroll. Besides the Monongahela a River, which forms the eastern boundary of the township, as already mentioned, the only streams of sufficient size and importance to be worthy of mention are Mingo Creek in the southern and Peter Creek in the northern part of the township. Both these streams flow in an easterly course into the Monongahela. These, with a number of smaller creeks and runs, tributaries of the two principal creeks and of the Monongahela, comprise all the waters of Union township. Along the margin of the river are bottom-lands, ranging from one-eighth to three-quarters of a mile in width. From the western and northwestern borders of these bottoms the land rises abruptly into a range of high " river hills," from the tops of which elevations there stretches away towards the interior a succession of high rolling uplands, everywhere tillable and admirably adapted for purposes of agriculture and grazing. The hills are underlaid with a rich and heavy vein of coal, and above this vein is found an unlimited supply of stone of the most excellent and durable quality for purposes of building, to which use it has been successfully applied by the inhabitants of this locality almost from the time of the building of the homes of the earliest settlers.
History of Washington County, Pennsylvania*
The territory of which this township is composed was that part of Peters and that part of Nottingham townships lying along the Monongahela River. The first action towards the erection of a township upon this territory was the presentation, at the January session of court in 1835, of a petition from "sundry inhabitants of Peters and Nottingham townships for a new township out of part of said townships." On the 26th of the same month the court appointed viewers, who reported at the June term. A review was granted, and on the 3d of October a re-review was granted. On the 23d of December, 1835, the re-reviewers "reported in favor a new township." which report was approved, and on the 31st of march, 1836, the court confirmed the report, and decreed the erection of a new township to be named "Union."
Dissatisfaction seems to have grown out of this procedure, and the inhabitants of the new township presented a petition at the June term of court, 1836, "for a view of said township, for the purpose of being annexed to Carroll township, from the great inconvenience respecting schools." Commissioners were appointed on the 23d of June to examine the merits of the case.. It was in their hands for some time, and not until Nov.15, 1839, was a final report made, which was " That there is no alteration necessary." This was approved, and on the 21st of February the action was confirmed.
Early Settlements and Settlers. - The following is a list of the names of persons assessed in Peters and Nottingham townships in 1788, on lands now within the limits of Union township, viz.: In Peters township, John Anderson, 80 acres; James Anderson, 30 acres; James Barclay, 250 acres; John Barr; John Cox, 300 acres; John Campbell, 160 acres; Edward Campbell, 50 acres; Robert Estep, 300 acres; John Finley, 125 acres; James Gailey, 50 acres Widow Pyatt, 200 acres; Thomas Williams, 150 acres. In Nottingham township, John Barr, 140 acres; Joseph Bentley, 115 acres; Charles Bradford, 65 acres; Philip Dailey, 110 acres ; Charles Dailey, 260 acres ; Nathan Dailey 300 acres; Jacob Fegley, 325 acre; Zachariah Fegley; Simeon Fegley: John Holcroft, 400 acres: John Happer, 300 acres; James Logan, 100 acres: Robert Little, 400 acres.
Settlements had been made in many places along the Monogahela River before the land was ceded by the Indians to the Penns, but within the limits of Union township no evidence is found of such prior settlements. The earliest date brought to notice is discovered in a Virginia certificate that was issued to Gabriel Cox, Jan. 5, 1780. This tract of 400 acres was granted to Gabriel Cox as a settlement right, and was surveyed to him as 315 1/2 acres, under the title of "Coxbury." It was located adjoining the property of Robert Little, Robert Estep, and Samuel Irwin, and also adjoining another tract of land which Cox owned, and which was called "Cox's Addition." The last-named tract was granted to Mr. Cox under the pre-emption, and was surveyed as 262 acres. Gabriel Cox and his wife, Sarah, lived at this place until about the year 1790, but whether they had any family, or to what place they removed at that time, is not known. None of their descendants are in the county. The land occupied by Mr. Cox is now owned by Andrew McClure and Messrs. Morrison and Dennison. It is, however, authentic that Gabriel Cox was a major under the authority of Virginia from 1776 to 1781; also, that he was a participant in the various expeditions that went out from Washington County against the Indians from 1778 to 1782.
John Campbell and his son Edward were residents of this county as early as 1779, as the name of the father appears upon recorded deed of that date. John Campbell took up a tract of land containing 311 acres, to which was given the name of "Campbellton," and he received a patent for it Sept. 9, 1788. On April 5, 1807, he purchased 226 acres of land adjoining the tracts of Abram Mellinger and Enoch Wright, on Peters Creek, on the Washington road. This tract was named "Partnership." Mr. Campbell held this property for several years, and Jan.23, 1823, sold it to his son Edward. It is now occupied by Mrs. Freitchman and others. John Campbell was appointed justice of the peace Feb. 8, 1799, which office he held for many years.
Philip Dailey received Jan. 17, 1780, a Virginia certificate for a tract "adjoining lands of Gabriel Cox; and including his settlement made in the year of our Lord 1773." This tract was surveyed as two hundred and twenty-three acres under the name of "Dauphin." At his death Philip Dailey left this property by will to his sons, Philip, Charles, and Samuel Dailey.
Nathan Dailey, a brother of Philip, Sr., warranted a tract of land containing two hundred and eighty-nine acres, called "Falling Timber Bottom." The application for this land was dated May 23, 1769. The land was also secured by Mr. Dailey upon a Virginia certificate, and the warrant of acceptance was given Dec. 16, 1792. One hundred and twenty-seven acres of this property was conveyed by Nathan Dailey to his son Nathan in October, 1816, and one hundred and twenty-seven acres was sold by him, Jan. 13, 1818, to Joseph Bentley. The part given to Nathan Dailey, Jr., was in turn left by him to his son Isaac, who afterwards sold a portion of it to John Hindman.
John Holcroft was a native of Fairfield County, Conn. The exact date of his arrival in Washington County is not known, but he was here prior to 1786, and at that time he was living on land belonging to Dorsey Pentecost. On Dec. 30, 1786, he leased of Dorsey Pentecost property described as "the lands now in possession of John Holcroft, Hugh and James Miller, James Patterson; John Spivey, Benjamin Johnston, John Williamson, William McCoy, and William Leaman, and one other tract on the west fork of Chartiers Creek." It appears that the lands had been leased prior to this date, but Pentecost relinquished all right and title to the rents, in consideration of which Holcroft was to pay him ,200 in gold or silver coin. How long Holcroft retained possession of the lands under this lease is not known. During the Whiskey Insurrection Holcroft was living in what is now Union township, and was one of the foremost and most active of the insurgents. The land upon which he then lived is east of Gastonville, on the Finleyville and Elizabeth road. It has passed through many hands and is now owned by Joel Sickman and others, the old log house which he occupied standing near the present stone house of Mr. Sickman. In 1788, Holcroft was assessed upon a tract of four hundred acres of land called "Liberty Hall," that was taken up by Samuel Irwin upon a Virginia certificate. In January, 1795, Holcroft bought it. He lived in this township until 1818, when he died far advanced in years. His wife, Rachel Holcroft, survived him, as did his eight sons and eight daughters. The sons were John B., Seely, Richard, James, George, Nathaniel, Elijah, and William Holcroft. The daughters were Mrs. Elizabeth Lockwood, Mrs. Mary Scofield, Mrs. Deborah Donalson, Mrs. Rachel Applegate, Mrs. Sarah Gallagher, Mrs. Gerty Sprig, Mrs. Margaret Seely, and Mrs. Betsey Storer. The son William was the youngest of the family. The Holcroft property or a part of it is now owned by John Houston.
Richard James, of Upper Freehold, Monmouth Co., N.J., purchased of Gabriel Cox, April 20, 1786, five hundred and five acres of land in which was included the whole of the tract called "Coxbury," and a part "Cox's Addition." Again, on Oct. 28, 1793, Richard James, "in consideration of the love, good will, and natural affection which he hath and doth bear toward his son, and the farther consideration of ten shillings," conveyed to his son, Robert James, one-half of the land purchased of Gabriel Cox, which was two hundred and fifty-two and one-half acres. Also at the same time, and for the same reasons and consideration, he conveyed to his son William the other half, - two hundred and fifty-two and one-half acres, - the latter half containing houses, barns, stables. and all other buildings. Upon coming into possession of their property in 1793 the two brothers, Robert and William James, both single men, came to Washington County. Robert built a log house upon the lower part of his land, and soon after married Catherine, a daughter of Mr. Gallagher, who lived near in Allegheny County. About the year 1800, Robert James built the stone house now owned by Mrs. Gilmore, where he lived until his death, Nov. 30, 1834, at seventy-three years of age. His wife died March 7, 1842, aged seventy-six years. The two sons born to Robert and Catherine James both died in early life, but their six daughters all reached maturity. Elizabeth became the wife of Rev. John White, a Methodist minister, then on the circuit which included Union township, but who afterwards settled in Sewickley. Catherine James married Edward Smith, of Virginia, and Harriet married Andrew McClure, who settled upon a part of the old homestead, and in 1849 built the stone house in which he now resides with his family. Martha James became Mrs. Samuel Gaston, and with her husband settled in Iowa. The daughters Emma and Rebecca never married, and lived together in the old home many years after their parents death. Robert James was a prominent member in the Methodist Church, having much to do with its organization and in the erection of the building known as the "Stone Chapel." He donated one acre of land Sept.13, 1817, providing only "that the trustees shall erect or cause to be erected or built thereon a house of worship for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church." He was extremely active in all good works, and yet soon after settling in this township a demand was made upon him for a certain amount of money; his refusal resulted in the burning of his barns and all other outbuildings. Suspecting a man in the vicinity to be connected with the fire, Mr. James commenced measures to bring him to justice, when he suddenly fled to other parts. He was undoubtedly the leader of a band who had made a practice of extorting money from the better class of inhabitants of this section by sending threatening letters, as in Mr. James case. With his departure the villainy ceased.
Among the early settlers who came to this territory with the idea that they were settling in Virginia was Robert Lytle, who came about the year 1776 and located on land lying partly on the Monongahela River and partly on Peters Creek, adjoining Gabriel Cox and Samuel Heath. This tract was granted to him on the 25th of February, 1780. It contained four hundred and eighty-six acres. On this farm he lived, raised a family of children, and died at an advanced age, leaving seven sons, David, James, Abram, Joseph, Samuel, Isaac, and Robert. Of these, David settled in Mercer County, Pa.; James emigrated to near St. Louis, Mo.; Abram resided on the home farm, which was left upon his death to his son, John Lytle, who still resides upon it. He also left three daughters, one of whom, Mary (Mrs. Gilmore), resides in Elizabeth, Allegheny County. Two daughters married and moved West.
Joseph Lytle, son of Robert, settled in Beaver County, Pa., and later moved to Allegheny County, opposite Monongahela City, where he resided with his brother Isaac. Isaac and Benjamin Lytle, of Union township, are sons of Joseph. Samuel Lytle moved to near Bentleyville in this county, and lived there till his death, leaving descendants. Isaac settled in Allegheny County, opposite Monongahela City; the farm on which he settled is now owned by his youngest son. Robert Lytle, when a young man, emigrated to Chillicothe, Ohio, and remained there.
In the year 1786, Jacob Fegley took up two tracts of land in what is now Union township, and the assessment roll of 1788 shows him to have been then the possessor of three hundred and twenty-five acres. One tract named "Fergus" was patented Feb. 22, 1789, but the date of the patent of the other, called "High Germany," is not given. The land of Mr. Fegley was situated near Mingo Church, adjoining that of John Kennedy, and is still owned by his descendants.
John Happer was a native of Ireland, whence he emigrated, and coming to Washington County took up a tract of three hundred acres of land in this vicinity, the place where his grandson, John Happer, now lives. He received the patent upon his land May 19, 1787. John Happer's children were six, four sons and two daughters. Of the sons, Andrew and Baptist lived to manhood. Andrew went to Ohio, where he died; Baptist remained upon the homestead all his life. The daughter Agnes married John Steele, who lived near Brownsville. Jane married John Storer, and settled in Allegheny County, but died in about a year afterwards. Baptist Happer had also four sons and two daughters. Samuel, the eldest, went West, and died there; John lives on the old homestead; James, the youngest, emigrated to Illinois; Andrew has been a missionary in China for thirty-eight years under the Presbyterian Board of Missions; Sarah married Rev. Thomas Gault, and removed to the West; Margaret also married and settled in the West.
Robert Estep was a native of New Jersey who settled in this township in 1788, taking up three hundred acres of land on Peters Creek, one mile below Finleyville, upon which he lived and died. His land adjoined that of Gabriel Cox, which the latter sold to Robert James. Robert Estep left a family of thirteen children, most of them living in Union township for many years. Afterwards some of the family moved West. Dr. James Estep, one of the sons, was born in this township. He studied and practiced medicine in Westmoreland County, and later in his native township. He was also an ordained Baptist minister, and was the pastor of Peters Creek Baptist Church for several years. Nathan, the oldest son of Robert Estep, settled on the old homestead, and died leaving no descendants. William, another son, also lived on a part of the home farm, which his son Joseph now owns. Ephraim, still another son, left the farm he inherited to his daughter Elmira, who now occupies it.
John Cox came to Washington County before the year 1788, and took out a warrant for a tract of land containing three hundred and six acres, which was surveyed to him as "Belmont," the patent being granted Sept. 9, 1790. Upon his farm he built a log house, which stood near the present brick house of Joseph S. Gaston. "Belmont" was sold by Cox to John Gaston the November following its patenting, and Cox removed to near Limetown, and remained there until his death. A son, Enoch Cox, also died near Limetown.
John Gaston came from New Jersey to this county with his wife and family of four sons and two daughters, and, as already mentioned, purchased of John Cox, Nov.30, 1790, the tract "Belmont," upon which Gastonville has been built. He also purchased land adjoining. He built a hewed log house a short distance south of the site of John Cox's old house, living in it until his death in 1825, at the age of eighty-seven years. Mr. Gaston gave to each of his sons, William and James, one hundred acres of his land. They eventually sold their shares of the property to Samuel, another son, and both removed to Ohio. Samuel remained upon the homestead. Joseph, the fourth son, went to South Carolina, where he married and subsequently removed to Ohio, where he died. Samuel Gaston married Margaret Penny, of Allegheny County, and their family of nine children all settled here. They are all dead except William, who lives on a part of the old tract of land at Gastonville. Joseph S. Gaston, Jr., now living in the brick house built by Samuel Gaston on the homestead tract, is a son of Joseph S. Gaston and a grandson of Samuel Gaston. Margaret, one of John Gaston's daughters, became the wife of Samuel McClean, of New Jersey. They settled in Nottingham township, at the head of Peters Creek, where they died and left no descendants.
Col. Joseph Barr, on Jan.11, 1803, purchased two hundred acres of land of Samuel Meek, which adjoined the property of Abraham Mellinger in this township. It was a part of the "Rocky Ridge" tract, which was patented to Samuel Meek, Oct.11, 1788. Col. Barr sold it again in April, 1854, to Dr. William B. Link, whose son, Dr. John Link, now owns it. Col. Joseph Barr had a family of six children, two sons and four daughters. The sons were Robert and Joseph, and the daughters were Mary A., who became Mrs. John Berry, Deborah and Kate, who remained unmarried, and Caroline, who married Rev. Mr. McFarlane, a minister of the Seceder Church.
Charles Bradford was an early settler of Washington County, as it appears upon record that before 1788 he had purchased sixty-nine acres of land of John Cox, and had a saw-mill upon Peters Creek at that time, which was run for many years after. This sixty-nine acres was, on Aug, 29, 1791, conveyed by John Cox to Rev. David Philips and Gabriel Peterson in trust for Henry G.. Andrew, Fielding, and Juliana Bradford, the four children of Charles Bradford. Henry G. and Andrew died before the year 1815, and in that year the remaining heirs, Fielding, Bradford, and Juliana, who had become Mrs. John Finley, sold property to Enoch Wright. In August, 1807, the sawmill had been leased for ninety-nine years to Samuel Gaston. It was on land now owned by Isaac Lytle. Nothing of the mill remains.
Joseph Bentley came from Chester County, Pa., to this place with his father, who settled on Jacobs Creek, in Washington County. Joseph was then unmarried, and Mercy, daughter of Philip Dailey, Sr., afterwards became his wife. The Bentleys were early settlers. Joseph was assessed upon one hundred and fifteen acres of land in the year 1788. When he married, Joseph Bentley settled upon a part of the tract patented to Nathan Dailey as "Falling Timber Bottom," adjoining the property of Moses Halliday. On Jan. 13, 1818, Nathan Daily sold to him a mill privilege and one hundred and twenty-seven acres of land below his earlier purchase, as in 1801 he had purchased of James Logan the tract patented Dec. 8, 1800, as "Falling Tree Bottom," which adjoins the tract "Falling Timber Bottom." The Logan purchase is the land upon which Joseph Bentley built the stone house in which he passed his life. His son George is the only one of the eleven children now living, and he occupies the homestead. Benjamin, Levi, Eli, and Absalom, also remained upon the old place until their death. Jesse went West, and Mary, who married Thomas Wilson, removed, to Venango County, in this State. The old distillery which Joseph Bentley built is still standing up the Run, near where his stone house was built. The distillery was in operation until 1862.
"Widow" Pyatts name appears on the assessment roll of 1788. She lived in Union township, on the place where Mrs. Saulsbury now lives, on the road from Finleyville to Library.
"Fromans Mill Place" was the property which Paul Froman took up and afterwards sold to Robert McGee, and which was surveyed in 1786. Froman took up a great deal of land in this section, all of his purchases having especial reference to the water privileges upon them. He built a grist mill upon his land in this township, and attempted to build a high dam and use an overshot wheel, but this was never accomplished, and the dam has always been called "Fromans Folly." The mill was located on Fromans Run at the falls, just below Happers road. Froman made a trip down the river with produce and died there. The old mill place, containing seventy-six acres, passed into the hands of John Kennedy, and he also purchased eighty or ninety acres of land of John Barr, the property which William Kennedy now owns. These purchases were made in the years 1797-99. John Kennedy had nine children. Samuel, James, William, and John, are settled in this vicinity. The first two are dead, but the other are still living here. John Kennedy, Jr., purchased one hundred and fifty acres of land of Mrs. Polly Fegley, and adjoining his father's property. The spot where the whiskey insurgents gathered is between the Mingo Church parsonage and Squire John Kennedy's place, where a distillery stood at that time.
The land embracing the site of Finleyville is a part of a tract that was warranted to John Wall, Dec. 3, 1787. The part called " Mount Pleasant," containing four hundred and five acres, was conveyed by deed May 3, 1788, to James Barclay, who in the same year was licensed to keep a tavern. James Barclay is said to have been a sea captain; he was a brother-in-law of John Finley, and he continued to live upon a part of this place until his death. His sons, Robert and James, also lived in this vicinity but died leaving no descendants. James Barclay sold one hundred acres of his land, June 15, 1791, to Hugh Barclay, and in 1802 sold one hundred and thirty-three acres to John Finley for six hundred and eight dollars. He also sold a portion to David Mellinger. Both Finley and Mellinger lived in this section as early as 1794. John Finley lived and died here, leaving a family of eleven children, of whom Levi and Gen. Robert Finley settled at Finleyville. Levi Finley married and had five children who settled in and near Finleyville. James, a son of his, lived and died at Limetown. Barclay Finley, another son, is connected with the Monongahela Bank at Monongahela City. Dr. William Finley, a third son, lives at Finleyville. John and F. M. Finley, the other two sons of Levi, now own the one hundred acres of land that belonged to Hugh Barclay, of whom their father purchased it. Gen. Robert Finley was a bachelor; and lived and died at Finleyville.
John Hindman came from the eastern part of Maryland to this county about the year 1796, and on April 16, 1798, purchased seventy-two acres of Thomas Canon. This land was on the hills, a short distance below Limetown. Later, Mr. Hindman bought eighty acres of land of Isaac Dailey, a son of Nathan Dailey, which was a portion of the body called "Falling Timber Bottom." On Aug.20, 1819, he became possessor of one hundred and three acres of the tract "Dauphin," which was taken up by Philip Dailey. This purchase he sold to his son William, Sept.19, 1823. John Hindman lived and died upon the property he bought of Isaac Dailey. His family consisted of four sons and five daughters. Of these, John died while young; Robert settled in Allegheny County; William remained in Union township, and some, if not all, of the daughters remained upon the homestead. Samuel, the youngest son, also remained there until 1864, when he purchased a small place in Gastonville, where he now lives.
Thomas McVey came from Pequea, in this State. He was a single man, and his sister, who came also, kept house for him a year. He rented a farm of Mr. McAllister, at Ginger Hill, Nottingham township, in 1799, upon which he remained two years, and two years longer upon a farm two miles farther east. He married Hannah Kerr and lived for a while upon a place he rented of Squire John Campbell, in Finleyville, on Peters Creek. About the year 1805 he purchased of George Wilhelm ninety-seven acres of land which belonged to the Jacob Fegley property, upon which he lived and died. The farm is now in the possession of Benjamin McVey, a grandson of Thomas.
John Pollock came with his wife and three children from Gettysburg to this township, and bought a tract of one hundred and thirty-three acres of land, back from the river and adjoining the Hindman tract. His two sons, James and Samuel, settled upon the homestead. Samuel was a bachelor, but James married Miss Mary Patton, and their family numbered nine children. Their sons, John and Samuel, Jr., own the old place, the latter being unmarried. David, another son, served in the Union army in the war of the Rebellion, and is now in the West. Two daughters are living upon a part of their father's place.
William Patton came to this section with the Hindman and Pollock families about 1799. He settled on a farm of one hundred and eighty acres, a portion of Nathan Daileys "Fallen Timber Bottom," which his son Robert now owns. The log house built and occupied by William Patton until his death is still standing, and is now the home of Harvey Biers. William Patton had six children, three sons and three daughters. William and Robert live in Union township, and John in Fallowfield. The daughter Sarah married Samuel Kiddue and lives In Allegheny County; Mary married James Pollock, and her home adjoins her father's farm; Matilda became the wife of Joseph Kiddue, and her home is in Monongahela City.
Jeremiah Ferree was a native of Lancaster County, Pa., and came to this section in 1800, immediately after his marriage. He bought land of Thomas McMil1an, on Peters Creek, Jefferson township, Allegheny County, but eventually removed to this township and lived where William Martin now resides. He lived there many years, but in his old age removed to Limetown, where his son William had settled and was operating coal-mines.
John and David Donaldson formerly owned the property adjoining John Cox's, and on the southeast David owned one hundred and fifty acres, and John had a part of the Welch property. David died in Union township, but left no descendants. John Donaldson removed to Butler County, in this State. A daughter of his, Mrs. Patterson, resides near Mingo Church, in Union township.
Physicians. - Of the members of the medical profession who have practiced in Union township, Dr. Johnston was one of the first. He came to this section about the year 1815, and remained until 1828 or 1830, when he removed to near Monongahela City and purchased a farm, but continued his practice until his death. While residing in Union township he lived on the farm which later became the property of George Forsyth, but is now owned by the Rankins.
Dr. Joseph Pollock was a practicing physician here as early as 1820, and then lived near Gastonville. His practice extended largely through the country, twelve or fourteen miles in each direction from his home. He afterwards removed to Lawrence county, in this State, and died there.
Dr. James Miller was a native of Fayette County, and studied medicine with Dr. Robert Thompson, of Canonsburg. He graduated at Jefferson College, and also at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. He commenced his practice in Union township in 1831, his home being at Finleyville, upon the Melinger farm. Dr. Miller married a daughter of Joseph Wright, of Peters township, and continued in his profession here until his death in 1842.
Dr. Thomas Storer was born in Illinois, and is the son of J. R. Storer, a native of this township. Dr. Storer graduated from Jefferson Medical College, at Philadelphia, in 1865, and began practicing at Hillsboro, Pa. In 1871 he came to this township, remaining here until 1876-77, when he returned to Hillsboro, where he is still in practice.
Dr. L. B. Welch is a native of Union township, a son of John L. Welch. In 1878 he graduated from he University of Maryland, and soon after returned to Union township, where he is now engaged in the practice of his profession.
Dr. William B. Lank succeeded to the practice of Dr. Miller in 1842, the year in which the latter died. Dr. Lank was a graduate of Jefferson Medical College, but came here from Janesville, Ohio. He was an excellent physician, and had an extensive practice until his death in 1880. His son, Dr. John lank, graduated from Jefferson Medical College at Philadelphia, and succeeds his fathers practice.
Finleyville - This village derived its name from that of John Finley, one of its early settlers, although the first steps toward the laying out of the village were really taken by James Barclay, who had prior possession of the tract of four hundred and five acres called "Mount Pleasant," upon which Finleyville has been built. Mr. Barclay was licensed by the County Court in 1788 to keep a tavern, and again in the years 1796-98 his name is found among those to whom licenses were granted. It was during this time that the incident occurred which gave to the village the name "Rogue Alley." Isaac Craig, of Pittsburgh, writes the following facts, which he obtained from his father, Judge Wilkins, Harman Denny, and Col. William Robinson, Jr.:
"In 1797 our affairs with the French Director, [word unreadable] such a threatening aspect that Congress deemed it necessary to prepare for war, and authorized the building of two vessels at Pittsburgh. They were built under the superintendence of Maj. Craig the following year, and were called the Galley "President Adams" and the Galley "Senator Ross." As these were the first vessels of the kind west of the mountains they caused a good deal of excitement, and the tavern keeper where Finleyville now is ordered a sign to be painted with a galley on it. The painter made an old-fashioned row-galley, and the tavern became known as the sigh of "Row-Galley, and finally, after the sign disappeared, it was corrupted into "Rogue Alley" by ignorant people."
In after-years the land upon which Finleyville is situated was in part owned by Abraham Mellinger and John Finley. The Mellinger portion was sold to Enoch Wright, and in January, 1857, it passed to West Frye. The John Finley property remained in the possession of the Finley family. In 1819, William Finley kept tavern in Finleyville village, as did also Levi Finley at a later time, when the line of stages between Pittsburgh and Brownsville was in full operation.
The first post-office was established at Finleyville in July, 1826. Gen. Robert Finley was the first postmaster appointed, and the persons who have served as postmasters since are and have been James Finley, J. L. Morris, James Finley. S. B. Kennedy, West Frye, T. R. Storer, F. M. Finley, --- Bell, F. M. Finley, and John S. Collins, who is the present postmaster. The business places of the village are a hotel, post-office, two stores, a blacksmith-shop, an express-office, and the station of the Pittsburgh Southern Railroad.
Gastonville is a small village or hamlet, the site of which is upon the tract of land originally known as "Belmont," which was warranted and patented to John Cox, but soon passed into the hands of John Gaston. In 1854 a portion of it was in the possession of Joseph M. Curry, who laid out and sold the village lots. Gastonville is situated only half a mile from Finleyville, and contains one store, a school building, an Odd-Fellows' hall, and a few dwelling-houses.
Coal Bluff - The settlement which was known in the early history of this section as Limetown, and later as Coal Bluff, extends along the bank of the Monongahela River for three miles, and owes its rise and growth entirely to the development of its coal. The bank along the river at this point is what is called river bottoms, which extend inland from one-fourth to one-half a mile, where the river hills rise quite abruptly and are very steep. The coal crops out of the hills on a level with the flat in nearly all places, which is a very favorable condition for drift-mining. The Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Charleston Railroad passes through the settlement of Limetown, or Coal Bluff, giving good opportunities for shipping by rail, in addition to its facilities for water transportation. A station is located at each mine along the railroad. Stores are connected with the mines to furnish provisions and goods to the miners.
The post-office was established about 1850. The postmasters have been Mark Borland, John Peterson, J. K. Logan, James Patton, and Isaac Yohe, the present incumbent.
At Coal Bluff station John F. Logan is agent for the Adams Express Company, and in April, 1880, he established the "Coal Bluff Steamship and Exchange Agency," which now does a business of three thousand dollars per month in forwarding money and selling tickets to and from foreign countries for the miners of the Monongahela Valley.
The several collieries of Coal Bluff and of this township are mentioned separately in the chapter on geology and mining, contributed by J. Sutton Wall, Civil and Mining Engineer, of Monongahela City.
The "Old White Mill," a grist and flouring-mill, located on the Monongahela, in this township, was put in operation in 1842 by George Bentley, whose brother, Eli Bentley, had built a saw-mill at the same place ten years before. Both the saw-mill and the grist-mill, which was widely and favorably known as the Old White Mill, remained in operation for many years. In 1880 the property was rented to the American Facing Company of New York, and is now in use for the manufacture of foundry facings.
Peters Creek Lodge, No.248, I.0.0.F., was instituted at Finleyville, May 17, 1847. When chartered the members were William Gaston, William B. Lank, ,William Van Wye, Samuel Morgan, Isaac Lytle, and William Gist. Following is a list of the Noble Grands of this lodge, viz.: William Gaston, Dr. W. B. Lank, William Gist, Isaac Lytle, James Angus, James Morrison, Joseph M. Curry, Samuel Atchison, R. R. Bell, James McAllister, W. M. Monck, John Huston, William Ferree, Michael Saunders, Joseph Conlin, John Barclay, Frederick Snell, A. P. Heath, Isaiah Brown, John Stoffle, Thomas ----, A. Crouch, Josiah Estep, Abel Buckingham, Louis Welch, George W. Lyons, E. N. Wright, Samuel P. Hutchinson, R. Campbell, Robert Cowen, Samuel Messner, George Gibson, Frank B. Storer, J. M. Snell, George C. Miller. The meetings of the society were first held in a building between Gastonville and Finleyville, belonging to William Gaston. In 1885 the lodge erected a building at a cost of $1800, with a dwelling on the first floor and a hall on the second story. The lodge at present contains twenty-five members. The present officers are George C. Miller, Noble Grand; P. A. Martin, Vice Grand; Isaac Lytle, Secretary. Advance Lodge, No.697, I.0.0.F. - On the 28th of January, 1870, a lodge named John F. Logan Lodge, No. 697, I.0.0.F., was instituted at Coal Bluff. The officers were James Craig, Noble Grand; P. J. Dougherty, Vice Grand; George Bentley, Treasurer; J. F. Logan and Hugh Craig, Secretaries. In 1872 the name was changed to Advance Lodge, of which the officers at present (October, 1881) are James Stark, Noble Grand; Cyrus Gilmore, Vice Grand; William Wilson, Treasurer; Robert MeLuckie, Secretary. The lodge now numbers fifty-nine members. The hall they own and occupy was built in 1875, and dedicated September 29th of the same year. The charter members of Advance Lodge were James Craig, Patrick Dougherty, John F. Logan, Hugh Craig, George Bentley, Hugh McKinney, Samuel Mesner, John Barclay, Albert Fuller, William Wilson, Sr., R. H. McMasters, Henry Reitz, George Keistler, John T. Sutton, William Wible, R. S. Lowers, Alexander Ferree, William Brawdy, Sr., W. P. McMasters, William Price, John M. Wilson, Thomas Elliott, S. B. Kennedy, W. E. French, Benjamin French. William Bouston, William N. Jenkins, Daniel Lowers, Isaac Hodge.
Schools - The first school in what is now Union township was taught about the year 1800. The building in which it was taught was built of logs, sixteen feet square, and stood on the bank of Peters Creek, about half a mile above Finleyville. The next school in the township was taught in a frame building, which is still standing below Finleyville. As early as 1808-9 there was a log school-house built in what is now the Lower Hodgkins District, the building standing on property that afterwards belonged to Mr. Jenkins. One mile north of that another log house was built in 1812. A frame building took the place of it in 1865.
Union township was erected in March, 1836, before the school law of 1834 was in full operation. In the following year the inhabitants petitioned to be annexed to Carroll township for school purposes. The name of the township does not appear upon the treasurers report for the years 1835-37, and at what time the township was districted is not known.
In 1863 Union township had six school districts, employed nine teachers, had enrolled three hundred and ninety-seven scholars, and levied for school purposes $1359.82. The total receipts were $1387.30, and expenditures amounted to $1278.27. In 1873 the districts were seven, each having one school, and there was one independent school. Eight teachers were employed, three hundred and sixty-four scholars enrolled, the school fund was $2840.17, and the expenditures were $2323.91. The school superintendent's report for 1880 gives the number of districts in Union township as eight, Upper Limetown, Middle Limetown, White Mill, Lower Hodgkins, Mingo, Boggs, Pollock, and Gaston. Nine schools were taught, one of which is independent. There were three male and six female teachers employed, and four hundred and fifty-eight pupils enrolled. The total receipts for school purposes from all sources amounted to $2787, and the expenditures to $2587.03. In Upper Limestone District the school building that was built on Huston's Run, just after the school law went into effect, is still standing and in use.
Justices of the Peace. - Union township, upon its organization in 1835, was attached to District No. 6, and the names of its justices are included in the justices' list of Peters township until 1838, when the office became elective and the township an independent district, in which the following named justices have been elected, viz.:
Francis Reader, April 14, 1840. Joseph S. Gaston, April 13,1838. John Kennedy, April 14, 1840. Isaac Lytle, May 12, 1862. Henry H. Finley, April 12, 1842. Joseph S. Gaston, April 25, 1863. Joseph S. Gaston, April 11, 1843. Milton B. Curry, June 3, 1865. John Kennedy, April 15, 1845. Joseph S. Gaston, Jan.31, 1874. Joseph S. Gaston, April 11,1848. William Ferree, April 17, 1874. John Kennedy, April 9, 1850. Joseph S. Gaston, April 17 1874. Joseph S. Gaston, April 13, 1853. Joseph S. Gaston, march 16, 1876. Michael Saunders, April 10, 1855. William Ferree, March 27, 1870. Wilson Kerr, June 2,1857. Frank R. Storer, April 9, 1881.
Churches in the Township. - The Mingo Creek Presbyterian Church was organized in August, 1786 at which time Mingo Creek, Pike Run, and Horseshoe Bottom applied to the Redstone Presbytery requesting the services of a minister, which request was granted. Several ministers were sent out as supplies during the first ten years of the existence of this church, among them Rev. Mr. McClean, who administered the ordinance of baptism to children. Preaching was first held in barns and groves and under a tent near the spot which the sheds of the present church now occupy. A lady now living recollects listening to a sermon by the Rev. Samuel Ralston in those days, he standing on low ground between two trees, the stumps of which still mark the place, while the people were on the higher ground above and around him.
The first building erected for church purposes was one of logs, which stood on the bank not far from the site of the present edifice. It was fifty by fifty-five feet in size, with five by nine feet extensions from the middle on the north and south sides. The north extension was occupied by the pulpit, and the south one was known as the bachelors seats. At each end of the building was a door. This building must have been put up previous to 1794, as it was then a place of meeting for the whiskey insurgents, and the point from where they started on the occasion when Gen. Neville's house was burned and Maj. James McFarlane was killed. Both the church and Mingo Cemetery were located upon the land known as "Barrville," and first owned by John Barr, a member of the church. Although so early in use as stated, no direct conveyance of the property was made until the year 1807, when it was given by John Gibson, who in the mean time had purchased the property of John Barr. The deed upon record, given by James Gibson and wife for the consideration of $20, conveys "to John Hamilton, John Campbell, and William McMullen, in trust for the Mingo Creek Congregation, a piece of ground situate on Fromans Run, including the meeting-house, tent, spring, and grave-yard, containing about two acres, dated April 11, 1807."
Rev. Samuel Ralston was one of the pastors early in charge of Mingo Creek Church. He was a native of Ireland, born in 1756, and was educated at the University of Glasgow, Scotland. In 1794 he emigrated to this country, and Nov. 30, 1796, having received and accepted a call to this church, was regularly installed as pastor of Mingo Creek and Parkinson's Ferry Churches. He remained in charge for forty years, until 1836, when he resigned the pastorate. He died Sept.25, 1851, at the age of ninety-six years, and was buried in Mingo Cemetery. The clergymen who succeeded the Rev. Mr. Ralston were the Revs. Nathan Shotwell, John M. Smith, John R. Dundas, Abner O. Rockwell, William Greenough, John J. Beacon, William W. McKinney, and J. H. Nesbit The church has now two hundred members, but at the present time (January, 1882) is without a pastor.
Prominent among the early elders of Mingo Church were Aaron Williams, Sr., and John Happer, Sr. The former was the grandfather of Rev. Aaron Williams, D.D., Prof. Samuel Williams (both deceased), and Rev. Moses Allen Williams, of Oregon. John Happer was the grandfather of the Rev. Andrew Happer, of Canton, China, and of the Hon. John A. Happer, now an elder of Mingo Church. On the second board of elders were Benjamin Williams (son of Aaron), ---- Potter, and --- Senton. The names of those subsequently installed were Robert Ganiley, John Morrison, Sr., John Morrison, Jr., --- Comison, Jamison Beatty, John Kennedy, Esq., James McVey, James Patterson, John Patton, Samuel Hindman, John A. Happer, Joseph Patterson, John Kennedy, John McVey, and Benjamin McVey.
The present house of worship of the Mingo Creek Church was built in 1832, in place of the old historic log building known as the Mingo Creek Meetinghouse in the days of the Whiskey Insurrection. In the old burial-ground of the Mingo Creek Church is to be seen the grave of Maj. James McFarlane, who was killed in the attack on Gen. Neville's house at Bower Hill in 1794. The grave is marked by a stone which bears this inscription:
"Here lies the body of Major James McFarlane, of Washington county, Pennsylvania who departed this life July 17,1794, aged Forty-three years. He served during the war with undaunted courage in defense of American Independence against the lawless and despotic encroachments of Great Britain. He fell at last by the hands of an unprincipled villain, in support of what he supposed to be the rights of his country, much lamented by a numerous and respectable circle of acqaintances."
The Seceders' Church in this township was organized at a date which has not been ascertained, but it is found that those early settlers, Col. Joseph Barr, John Huston, John Fife, and the McNeals, were among its most prominent members. A frame church was erected on land donated by Col. Barr, situated opposite the present residence of Dr. John Lank, in this township. Services were held in this church for many years, but they had no regular pastor, and were dependent upon supplies. The society was never strong in numbers, and after the death of Col. Barr it ceased to exist as a church organization.
The Peters Creek Baptist Church is mentioned more fully in the history of Peters township. In the year 1788 a lot was purchased of John Cox, and worship was held by this society for several years in Union township before their removal to Peters township. The present church building is located in the village of Library, in Snowdon township, Allegheny County, but the majority of its members reside in Peters township. The land owned by the society in what is now Union township was sold to James Castor April 3, 1810, by the Rev. David Philips, Daniel Townsend, and Charles Dailey, trustees.
The Peter Creek Methodist Episcopal Church was organized almost three-fourths of a century ago. In the month of August, 1810, Robert James and wife, of what is now Union township, attended a Methodist camp-meeting on Pike Run, and while there Mrs. James persuaded Bishop McKendree, who presided at the gathering, to send a minister to Peters Creek. Robert James was then living in his stone house, which stands near the church, and is owned by Mrs. Gilmer. The upper part of this stone house was all in one room, and in this room the first services were held and attended by Methodist people and others from many miles around. Here the first Methodist class was organized, and among its members were Robert and William James and their wives. In 1817 or 1818 the stone church now in use was built, and was known as "James Chapel," "Stone Chapel," or "Stone Church." Robert James gave the land upon which this was built, and also set apart an acre of land as a graveyard. By his deed, dated Sept.13, 1817, Robert James conveys "to William Jones, Nathan Dailey, Jonathan ----, Robert James; and John White, of Washington township, and Joseph Bentley, Philip Smith, Zedekiah Benham, and Lewis Peairs, of Allegheny County, one acre of land, provided that they shall erect or cause to be erected or built thereon a house of worship for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States." This proves conclusively that "Stone Chapel" was not erected either in 1810 or 1815, as many people assert. Robert James and wife and their six children were all buried in the graveyard given by Mr. James, as were Sampson Carter and wife, and many others who had lived in this vicinity and were workers in the Methodist Church.
In 1859 the circuit known as Peters Creek Circuit was set off by itself, it having formerly been a portion of the Chartiers Circuit. At that time Peters Creek Church had a membership of thirty-six, and it has now increased to forty-four. The "chapel" when built was fifty by fifty-five feet in size. In 1876 it was entirely remodeled, and furnished with stained-glass windows.
During the more than seventy years of its existence this church has been served by a great number of preachers, among whom are and have been the Revs. Norval Wilson, Charles Cook, Thornton Fleming, Abner Jackson, Lemon Lock, Richard Johnson, Sheridan Baker, David McCready, Henry Snyder, M. B. Pugh, John Brown, Ezra Himley, John Wright, William Cooper, Artemas Ward, Dr. Wakefield, George Baker, F. C. McClure, D. A. Pearce, C. H. Edwards, M. M. Sweeney, F. F. Pershon, T. Patterson, and G. A. Sheets, who is the present pastor. The Sunday-school in connection numbers sixty scholars, and James M. Gaston is the superintendent.
A Methodist Episcopal Church was built at Limetown about 1840, chiefly through the liberality of Joseph Bently. The society had been organized previous to this time by Rev. Charles Cook, when he was in charge of the Williamsport Church, services being held in private houses, groves, school-houses, and also in a mill which stood on the river-bank a short distance above the present church. In 1859 forty-five members of this church were reported, and it was then placed in Peters Creek Circuit. At that time it was one of eight appointments that had previously belonged to the Chartiers Circuit. In 1872 a new building for worship was erected, at a cost of $3000, on land donated by George Bentley. The church is now connected with the "Stone Chapel" charge, near Gastonville. Rev. G. A. Sheets is in charge here, as at Peters Creek Church.
The Methodist Protestant Church at Coal Bluff was organized in 1871, principally by the efforts and through the influence of the Rev. James Robinson, of Pittsburgh. The present pastor is Rev. Mr. Stillwagon. The preachers in charge before him were Revs. M. Lucas, James Robinson, Robert Hodgkinson, and Rev. Mr. Brindley. In 1871 a house of worship was erected by the Methodist and Presbyterian societies of Coal Bluff, upon land donated by James K. Logan, and is now used by both congregations upon alternate Sabbaths.
The Presbyterian society of Coal Bluff is a branch of the Mingo Creek Church. The pastor of Mingo Creek officiates here every alternate Sabbath.
SAMUEL DENNIST0N.Samuel Denniston was born in Allegheny County, Pa., Feb.27, 1796, and died in Union township, Washington County, Pa., Sept. 7, 1879. His father was William Denniston, a native of Ireland, who emigrated to America a short time prior to the Revolutionary war, in which he served for a time as a soldier. He married Elizabeth Wilson, of Chester County, Pa., and settled in Allegheny County. They had eight children, four sons and four daughters, all of whom are dead.
Samuel's life until the year 1827 was spent in Allegheny County. In that year he and two of his brothers, Joseph and William, purchased a farm near Thompsonville, Peters township, Washington Co. They worked this farm together for about twelve years, when Samuel disposed of his interest to his brothers, and purchased and moved to the farm in Union township now owned and occupied by his sons, William and Thomas Denniston, where he spent the remainder of his life, which was a record of strong self-reliance and unswerving allegiance to his business. By his own efforts he accumulated the valuable inheritance of his children. For them his labors were unceasing, and by them he is gratefully remembered.
He was twice married. His first wife was Elizabeth Caldwell, to whom he was married April 21, 1836. She died Nov.25, 1851. One of her children, John Wilson, died in infancy; another, Sarah A., died April 7, 1863 aged twelve years and three months. Those living are William, Mary J., Elizabeth, and Thomas. His second wife, whom he married March 17, 1853, was Elizabeth Applegate. By her he had two children, -James. A., dead, and Rachel N., living.
GEORGE BENTLEY.Prior to the war of the Revolution there came from England to this country one George Bentley, who settled in Chester County, Pa., where he married and remained until the close of the war, when, with his wife and children, he emigrated to the then wilderness of Western Pennsylvania. He first located on Jacobs Creek, where he remained until about the year 1787, when he bought of Charles Lipe the property now owned and occupied by his grandson, also named George. For the property he paid ,100. His wife was a Miss Jane Carson, and was born in Ireland. To them was born a large family. Of these Sesch. B. built and operated the mill now owned by Mr. Harris. Among his brothers were Benjamin, Jeffrey, Abram, and Joseph, all of whom did their part towards making the wilderness blossom like the rose. On the land bought of Lipe he built the stone house which is still standing and occupied by his descendants. He also built a grist-mill, which, though a small affair, was much needed and duly appreciated. It was about the first one erected in this part of the county. In 1818 Mr. Bentley
bought for $7650 the property lying between the farm above named and the farm now owned by the heirs of Moses B. Thompson. This was a large amount of money for those days, and paying for it was a long and arduous struggle, but was finally accomplished. In 1800, or about that time, Mr. Bentley died. Joseph, who was born in Chester County, Pa., in time came into the possession of the Bentley estate. He was married to Mercy Daily, by whom he had seven children, viz.: Benjamin, Mary, Levi, Eli, Jesse, Absalom, and George, all of whom are now dead except George. Of these only Mary, Jesse, and Absalom left heirs. Josephs first venture in business was a grist-mill and linseed oil mill on Piney Creek Fork, which he operated five years, and then moved to the Nathan Dally farm, where he followed distilling. Afterwards he moved to the old homestead, where he died in 1842. In 1840 he deeded his estate to four of his sons, of whom George was one. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and died respected by all. His youngest child, George, was born March 5, 1809, and is now the last of the family, and on the old homestead where he was born is passing away the evening time of life, the possessor of the Bentley estate, which has become very valuable, and which came to him by purchase and by will. None of the broad acres left by his ancestors have grown less in value by his having owned them, and the honor and integrity of the family name has never been dimmed by act or deed of his. He is in politics a Republican, believing that party to be the exponent of honesty and advancement. For many years he has been an Odd-Fellow, and was a charter member of Advance Lodge, No. 697, in which he has held most of the offices. White Mills village was laid out by him on part of the old homestead. Mr. Bentley is a member of no church, a follower of no creed, his motto being to "live and let live."
*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 in August 1998 of Gainseville, FL in August 1998. Published in September 1998 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com.
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