West Finley Twp. (pp. 979-986)
History of Washington County, Pennsylvania *
This is the extreme southwestern township of Washington County, it being bounded on the west by the State of West Virginia and on the south by Greene county. East Finley joins it on the east and its northern boundary is formed by the township of Donegal. The principal streams of West Finley are Hunter's Fork (of Wheeling Creek), which marks the southern boundary of the township, separating it from Greene county. Robinson's Fork, which flows diagonally through the township from its northeastern to its southwestern corner; Templeton Run, which flows southwestwardly across the southeastern corner of the township; and the head and main streams of Middle Wheeling Creek, which flows in a westerly course through the north part of the township into West Virginia.
The territory of West Finley, together with that of East Finley township, was for a period of forty years preceding their separate organization included in the old township of Finley, which had itself formed a part of and was taken from the original township of Donegal. In the history of East Finley township will be found an account of the erection of old Finley township in May 1788, and of subsequent changes in its boundaries and area down to and including the final division of its territory and the formation from it of the townships of East Finley and West Finley, which were erected by order of the Court of Quarter Sessions 24 December 1828, with boundaries which have not been materially changed from that time to the present.
Settlement of West Finley.--Henry Holmes, an Irishman by birth, came into this section and first located in what is now Donegal township, near the site of West Alexander. Afterwards, he was granted a Virginia certificate, dated 24 February 1780, for a tract of land called "Burnt Fields" situated on a branch of Robinson's Run, in this township, which was surveyed to him 21 January 1785. William, a son of Henry Holmes, married Elizabeth Davidson, and afterwards died upon the homestead, which is now owned by his grandson, Robert Holmes. Mrs. Martin and Mrs. Davidson were daughters of William Holmes.
James Beham settled early in West Finley township, but the date of his settlement is not positively known. Enough, however, has been learned to place him among the first who came here. He lived on a farm, a part of which is now the property of Thomas Barnes. Among the children of Mr. Beham were two sons then old enough to be of great assistance to their father. According to the custom of the time, Mr. Beham put bells upon all of his stock, horses included and turned them out with those of his neighbors to graze. One day Mr. Beham sent his two sons for his horses. The Indians had taken the bells off, and by ringing them led the boys far away from their homes, when their seized, tomahawked, and scalped them, and left them, as they supposed, dead. The eldest, however, was not dead and after a time revived and went home, where he related the facts after his recovery. The event occurred upon the bank of a little stream which was called Behams's Run. The school-house near by and the site of the family home have always been called, "Beham's school-house" and "Beham's Knob". About the time of the Beham tragedy another occurred in the family of Mr. Bennett who lived not far away. Becoming frightened at the Indians, the whole Bennett family fled and left a bedridden old lady (a relative) alone. When they returned they found the lifeless body of the old lady in the bed. She was buried in the woods, her last resting place marked by some rude stones set up near the place of her death. And the thicket which enclosed the place has always been called "Bennett's Thicket".
Alexander Burns was born in Scotland in 1739 and when four years of age, removed with his parents to Ireland. At the age of fourteen, while in the marketplace at Armagh with his mother, he was taken from her side and impressed on board a man-of-war, in which service he was retained for seven years. Finally the ship entered New York harbor and Alexander ran away into the country where he hired out to a farmer, a German, with whom he remained seven years. He then revisited his home in Ireland and returned to this country about the close of the Revolutionary War. he came to this section and took out a warrant for a tract of land 29 October 1784, which was surveyed to him as "Burn's Camp" 14 December 1784. On this land he settled, and had a large piece of land cleared before 1780. He was captured by the Indians and kept a prisoner for several years. During the season of his captivity, Phillip Sommers discovered the clearing Mr. Burns had made, and finding no owner, he procured a warrant for it. Before it was surveyed to him, Burns was released by Indians and returned and proving his prior right to the land, Mr. Sommers relinquished all claim to it. The patent was granted to Burns 16 February 1790. He lived upon this farm until his death 12 January 1826, at the age of eighty-seven years. The family of Alexander Burns was three sons,- James, John and William. James settled in Rich Hill township, Greene county. He had several daughters, of whom Nancy (now Mrs. William Davis) lives in Donegal township and Jane who became Mrs. Johnston, resides in Ohio. John lived and died upon a portion of the home farm. His daughter Mary married Alexander Gunn, and resides upon the old homestead. William, the only surviving son of Alexander Burns, also lived on the home farm until a few years ago when he removed to the home of his son-in-law, Henry Blaney, near "Good Intent". A large number of the lineal descendants of Alexander Burns reside in and near West Finley township.
James and Thomas Byers were brothers, of Irish nationality who came to West Finley township, and 16 March 1786, were granted a warrant for "Stonecoal", a four-hundred-acre tract of land adjoining the property of David Bradford, James Leeper, James Shaw and Samuel Byers. James Byers was a bachelor but Thomas had a large family. His eldest daughter was the wife of Dr. Wylie, a brother of the clergymen, William and Andrew Wylie. The second daughter married David Stewart and the third married Andrew Yates, all removing to West Virginia. A fourth daughter, Nancy, was the wife of John Brice, a son of Reverend John Brice, pastor of the "Three Ridges" church. They emigrated to Ohio. The youngest daughter of Thomas Byers was the wife of Mr. Wilson, a tailor by trade, and they also removed West. The sons of Thomas Byers were Thomas Jr., who married Miss Hammitt and died in the borough of Washington; John who studied medicine with Dr. Warren of Canonsburg. He married twice, Miss Boner first and Miss Madden last and went to the State of Ohio, where he died; Samuel and William of whom no further record is found; and James who was a farmer, and married Mary, daughter of Reverend Mr. Stephenson. The Stephensons all removed to Ohio, near Bellefontaine, where James Byers died. There are none of the Byers' descendants now remaining here.
John Sutherland was a Scotchman who in 1772 emigrated to Bladensburg, Maryland. In 1786 he came into Washington county, locating upon land on the waters of Chartiers Creek. In 1800 he purchased on hundred and six acres of land of Shields and Hollingsworth, in this township and located here. His son George, born in Scotland in the year 1769, remained on Chartiers Creek until 1790 and then followed his father to West Finley. In 1795 he married Charlotte McCoy. Their family were six sons and two daughters of whom there is the following record: Eleanor, Christiana and William died single. John was a blacksmith by trade and married Eleanor Hough. He was a justice of the peace for several years in West Alexander where he lived and died. Alexander Sutherland married Maria Boland in 1831 and removed to Mansfield, Ohio. He has been a practicing physician for half a century and is now more than eighty years of age. Isaac, who married Rugh Fee in 1830 is a resident of West Finley township. David married for his first wife, Lydia Lucas and for his second, Margaret Baird. His home is in Davis county, Iowa. Robert still lives in West Alexander, and has been married three times, to Jane Lucas, to Elizabeth Lossen and to Annie Taylor.
Andrew Frazier was a Scotchman who crossed the ocean in the same vessel with John Sutherland, William McCoy and others in 1772. He went to Bladensburg, Maryland and from there came to this country in 1786. The records show that 24 June 1799 he purchased of Thomas Shields a four-hundred-acre tract of land called "Big Meadow", situated on Robinson Run. It was patented to Mr. Shields 10 April 1798. Andrew Frazier spent his life upon this farm and left a family of five children. David married Jane Ross and lived and died in this county; Alexander Frazier who was married three times, died in Washington, Pennsylvania; Daniel, who was a roving character, was drowned at Wheeling, Virginia. The two daughters were Mrs. William McDonald who lived in West Finley township and Mrs. John Eckels who went to Illinois and died there. The Fraziers of West Alexander, in this county, are descendants of Andrew Frazier, the Scotch pioneer.
William Rose, who was a native of Scotland, was a son-in-law of Alexander McCoy. He emigrated to this country in 1772, landing at Philadelphia and until 1783 lived in the Susquehanna valley. He then came to Chartiers Creek, and in 1800 followed his father-in-law and the other friends from Scotland to their new home in West Finley township. William Ross bought two tracts of land her on 24 June 1799. The first comprised two hundred and ninety-eight acres which was patented to Thomas Shields 10 April 1795. The second tract was adjoining the first. It comprised on hundred and one acres and it was patented to Henry Holmes 16 March 1786. Holmes sold it to Shields 14 May 1795 and he in turn sold the two tracts- four hundred acres in all- to William Ross. This early settle had a family of four sons and three daughters: Thomas, Alexander and Kenneth all died unmarried; John married Elizabeth McDaniels and lived and died in this township; Jane Ross became the wife of David Frazier and left numerous descendants; Charlotte became Mrs. James Templeton. She died in the city of Wheeling and her husband in West Finley. Catherine was the wife of Alexander Sutherland. She died in this township and left three sons and three daughters.
The Henderson family, born and reared in West Finley township, have always been persons of popularity and influence. On the maternal side they descended from James Wherry, an emigrant from Scotland, who settled on Pigeon Creek. One of his daughters, Drusilla, married a man named Pyles and resided in Buffalo township. Another daughter, Esther who was born in West Finley township in 1787, became the wife of John Henderson. They remained here, and brought up a family of eight children,-John, James, Alexander, Cyrus, Oliver P., Francis M., Elizabeth and Esther. James Henderson resides in Washington county. Alexander's wife was Miss Huston and they lived in Buffalo township. Cyrus never married. Francis M. has had three wives. His residence is in Ohio county, West Virginia. Oliver P. Henderson, who married Miss Armstrong, was in the war of the Rebellion and died in the service during the siege of Yorktown. The daughter Elizabeth became Mrs. George Carroll. She died in this township. John Henderson, son of John and Esther Henderson, was born in 1818. He received only a common school education owing to financial inability on the part of his father to give him better advantages. He evinced in early life strong pro-slavery ideas, but could never reconcile them to his sense of right and finally himself and his father and all his brothers, except James, became strongly avowed anti-slavery advocates.
In 1844 and 1845, John Henderson, James and Alexander Sprowls, Robert and Isaac Sutherland and John and Kenneth McCoy organized an anti-slavery society, with headquarters at the residence of Kenneth McCoy. A line of stations for the refuge and protection of slaves was formed and by it many refuges from far and near were secreted, cared for and assisted in their flight to Canada. A great and efficient element in this work was the Quaker society, who in numerous instances were the salvation of the fugitives striving for freedom. Preceding the Rebellion the danger to anti-slavery people was very great and often the lives of the members of this society were in jeopardy during their visits to Wheeling. In 1861, John Henderson entered the Union army as a captain. He remained in the service until 1864 when his company was mustered out. Mr. Henderson was early married to Margaret Trussell. They had six children, Easter, Milton F., Sarah, Emma, Martha and Oliver P. Henderson. All are still living. Milton F. served in the Army of the Potomac during the Rebellion as a member of the Sixteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry. John Henderson is still following the pursuit of agriculture on his fine farm in this township.
Lucy and Elizabeth Leeper came here and took up three tracts of land, each containing four hundred acres, in a body in this township, the warrants for which were dated 25 October 1784 and the surveys made on the same date. These tracts were located on the waters of Wheeling Creek and the names giver were "Drayton", "Shipton", and "Iron Hill". James Leeper at one time owned the Connant land now the property of the Sprowls family but is not supposed to have been a resident of the township.
James Toland was the pioneer resident of Cooney Town, an area of territory three miles square, in the southwest corner of West Finley township. Mr. Toland's farm was the first one cleared in the locality and embraced two hundred acres. It is now owned by John Henderson and Flemming Trussell. Although Mr. Toland reared a large family, but a very few representatives are now found in this part of Washington county.
William Porter was an early settler of this township, locating upon land two miles south of West Alexander and but half a mile from the Virginia line. He had a mill in operation which was situated nearly upon the State line. It has now fallen into decay. His family was four sons and several daughters, all quite advanced in years before they married. Mr. Porter was a member of the Seceder church. While attending services, he fell down and died immediately. William Porter of this township, is a grandson of the pioneer William, and the old farm is now owned by Alexander McCleary, Esquire, a justice of the peace.
The farm upon which George Davidson made his settlement is now the property of Robert Holmes of West Finley township. Mrs. Alexander McCleary were his daughters. His sons Robert, William and George were all physicians. Robert, the only survivor, is a resident of West Alexander.
Samuel Davis occupied and owned the farm of Samuel McNinch in this township. He had several daughters and four sons,- Joshua, Richard, Samuel, and William. Joshua was a tanner, Samuel emigrated to another State, and William, who married Nancy Burns, died upon the homestead, which he had never left. Isaac Davis, of this township, is his son.
Alexander McCoy and his wife, Christiana McDonald were early residents in this vicinity. Their four children were Alexander, Jane, Nancy, and Charlotte McCoy. Jane married William Ross and Nancy became the wife of Daniel McCoy who was, however, no relative. Charlotte was the wife of George Sutherland, and they had a number of children. Dr. Alexander Sutherland of Ohio, Robert Sutherland of West Alexander, Daniel Sutherland of Iowa and Isaac Sutherland of West Finley are their sons.
Isaac Lucas was a Revolutionary soldier and an aide-de-camp to General Washington. His property in this section was a four-hundred-acre tract called "Tragical",situated on Robinson Run. He bought it of Thomas Shields 23 April 1806, to whom it had been patented 20 June 1798. The farm is now in the possession of Samuel McNay. Isaac Lucas had six sons,-John, William, Daniel, David, Abijah and Benjamin. John's wife was Jane Templeton; William married Miss Bushfield, and went to Ohio; Daniel and David both went to Ohio, the former marrying and having a large family; Abijah and his wife, Jane Lee, emigrated to Illinois; and Benjamin, who married Mary Lee, lived and died in this county. Thomas B. Lucas was a grandson of Isaac Lucas. He married Malinda Rockafellow. He entered the Union army and was killed at Gettysburg, 3 July 1863. His only living son is John P. Lucas of Burnsville. He too, was in the army, a member of the Eighty-fifth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers.
William Gunn, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, married a sister of Alexander Gunn (to whom, however, he was not related). About the year 1775, William Gunn, his wife and one son and Alexander Gunn and two unmarried sisters emigrated to this country and landed in Philadelphia. After remaining in that city about a year, they emigrated to this county and settled upon a tract of land now in Donegal township, owned by Gordon and Samuel Patterson. On this property, they all lived a few years and William moved with his family to what is now West Finley township. The land on which he settled proved to belong to those immense land proprietors, Shields and Hollingsworth. He, then purchased four hundred and twenty eight acres of Isaac Parkhurst, of Warren County, Ohio. This land was situated on Robinson Run. the land upon which he first located in Finley township is now owned by Arthur Sprowls and James Miliken. On the farm he purchased of Parkhurst, he lived the remainder of his long life and died in 1825, aged eighty years. He left ten children, who upon arriving at maturity all emigrated to the West, except John, the second son, who settled on the homestead and there lived until his death in 1848, leaving a family of eight children, of whom Alexander is the only one living in the township or the county. He married a daughter of John Burns and now resides on the old Burns homestead.
Alexander Gunn, who remained on the farm in Donegal when William came to Finley, stayed there until about 1800, when he purchased three hundred acres of land in West Finley which is now mostly owned by James Hunter, whose father, Matthew Hunter, purchased it of Mr. Gunn. He remained unmarried and after the sale of the farm resided with his nephew, John Gunn, until his death. He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church of West Union, Virginia for over forth years. On of his sisters married John Craig and died without children. The other never married.
Hercules Roney and James Roney were of Scotch-Irish birth and emigrated to America about 1775. They were early settlers in this county and were both chain-men with Colonel William Crawford, as surveyor of Yohogania County, Virginia and assisted in many of the surveys of land granted on Virginia certificates. They settled in Finley township upon land which they afterwards obtained on Virginia certificates. Hercules Roney's certificate bears date 21 December 1779; this was surveyed to him on the 20th of January 1783 under the name of "Green Spring" and contains three hundred and seventy-six acres adjoining the land of James Roney.
The certificate of the tract obtained by James Roney bears date 24 February 1780 and was surveyed 20 January 1785 and named "Star Fort", containing four hundred acres. Hercules Roney built upon his land a large and strong block-house, which was known as "Roney's Block-Hourse" or "Roney's Fort". To this place the neighbors repaired in times of danger. Hercules Roney lived on the "Green Spring" tract the remainder of his days and died in 1812, leaving four children. To his two sons, James and William, he gave each one hundred and fifty acres of land and to the two daughters, Mrs. Milliken and Mrs. Reed, each one hundred acres. James married Miss McWhirter and removed to Canonsburg. William married a Miss Lawrence and remained in the township.
The McIntosh family, who were of Scotch birth of descent, located in this township at an early but not precisely known date. During the harvest season of 1789 or 1790, the entire family, with the exception of one daughter, were massacred by Indians. They were out at some distance from their house engaged in stacking hay or grain, when the Indians fired on them, killing the father on the stack. The mother and six children fled towards the house, but were overtaken, tomahawked and scalped. The daughter above mentioned, had been sent to a distant pasture with a horse, and hearing the firing and realizing the danger, fled to Roney's block-house and gave the alarm. Hercules Roney and a party of men started at once for the scene of the butchery. The Indians had gone, but the eight dead and mutilated bodies told the bloody tale. Roney and his party buried them on the farm that is now owned by Mr. Blaney.
On 30 March 1793, Robert Morris, of Philadelphia, sold to Edward Tighlman, also of Philadelphia, thirty thousand acres of land, consideration, £10,200. This land was surveyed in seventy-five tracts, of four hundred acres each, for all of which, patents were granted in 1787. At that time the entire body of land was within the limits of Washington County, but now is lies partly in West Finley township and partly in Green County. The seventy-five tracts were patented under the following names.:
King's Wood, Mill Creek, Bastian Garden, White-Oak Lever, Rumney, Eagles' Nest, Artillery, Ashhill, Stony Point, Buffalo Lick, Cranberry Marsh, Lion's Den, Forlorn Hope, Alps, Rush Run, Magazine, Whitehill Eminence, Beaver Dan, Mill-Stone Rock, Smithfield, Barier Forford, Owlhill, Eden, Alarm -Post, Spice Hill, Iron Hill, Tuolow, Bee-Tree, Slupton, Longhill, Hook Run, Silver Stream, Wolf's Den, Field Fort, Bear Camp, Otter Run, Shipton, Thorn, Fellon, Blackberry Grove, Thistle, Plumb Hill, Chestnut Hill, Pike Run, Deer Hill, Sugar-Loaf, Darnel Camp, Burton, Johns's Bottom, Broad Valley, Winsor, Big Rock, Dunkard's Falls, Mack's Camp, Crab-Tree, Nettle Hill, Mill-Seat, White Thorn, St. Clair's, Encampment, Yellow Spring, Green Spring, Forlorn, Club Law, Lutis Bean, Hempfield, Wolf-Path, Fox Point, Foxhill and Drayton.
"Doctor's Hall" was a tract of four hundred acres situated "on a branch of Wheeling Creek" in what is now West Finley township, adjoining certain vacant lands and lands of Griffith Jones and Daniel McFarland & Company. It was surveyed to James Hunter 13 November 1785, "at the instance of Dr. Henry Moore". It was taken up on a Virginia certificate. Entry made in Ohio County, Virginia book of Entry 9 June 1781.
Good Intent is the name of a little village situated in the northeastern part of West Finley township, on a tributary of Wheeling Creek. It is located upon land formerly owned by Peter Wolf, a pioneer in that section. he built the mill at Good Intent, which he afterwards sold to Weaver Potter, and erected another farther up the creek. Both were called Wolf's mills and the last one, which was sold to William Donnelly, has gone to decay. Peter Wolf removed to Washington and died there. Good Intent business interests are comprised in a water-power grist-mill, a tannery, store, harness and saddlery-shop, two blacksmithshops, the post-office and the public school-house. The post-office was established at Good Intent in 1837 with John Ensel as first postmaster who was succeeded by Joseph Chase. The first person engaged in the business of general merchandising here was Thomas Frazier, who opened a store in 1845. He was followed by Hall & Frazier, James Ensel, Robert Chase, James Roney, Samuel Ambler and John Geroge. The present merchants are C.W. Blaney & Son. The tannery was carried on in earlier years by Charles Chase, Rovert Chase and James Roney, and is now under the management of William M. Sunderland. Drs. George Lucas and Geroge Davidson were the resident physicians as early as 1850. Dr. John Buchanan until 1852; Dr. Samuel Potter until 1856; Dr. Geroge B. Wood in 1874 Dr. John Smith in 1877 and Dr. Frank Blanchly in 1881. Thirty or forty years ago, Mrs. Elizabeth McWhirter, Mrs. Spillman, Mrs. Catherine Miller and Mrs. Jane Lucas were famed as nurses in this vicinity and were often employed in place of regular physicians, whose services could not always and readily be obtained.
Burnsville or West Finley, as it is more properly called, is located in the southern part of the township. It was laid out by John Burns who owned the land upon which it has been built. It is upon a portion of the tract taken up and improved by Alexander Burns, but was occupied by Philip Sommers during the temporary captivity of Mr. Burns among the Indians. Upon Mr. Burns' release, however, Mr. Sommers relinquished all claims to the land and the four hundred acres was patented to Mr. Burns 16 February 1790. The situation is high and healthy and altogether West Finley is a pleasant and attractive place. The first post-office of the place was established in 1832 and was called West Finley by which name Burnsville has gradually come to be known. The first postmaster was William C. Burns, who kept the office at his residence, a half-mile southeast of the town proper, now the home of Alexander Gunn. Mr. Burns, is still living, in excellent health and vigor, although approaching his eightieth year. Mr. Burns' successor was Joshua Ackley, who removed the office to Green County where it remained until Mr. Ackley was succeeded by William C. Teagarden who brought it back to Burnsville, it's present location. Joshua Ackley, the second postmaster died 30 September 1881 at seventy-seven years of age. The postmasters who followed Mr. Teagarden were Wesley Cannon, Samuel Grim and Jacob Rockefellow, the present incumbent.
At present West Finley contains twenty-seven dwelling-houses, two wagon-shops, two cabinet and undertaker establishments, two saddlery and harnesshops, the post-office, an Odd-Fellows' Hall, two stores, the hotels of J.P. Lucas and C.Burns, blacksmith-shops of Brady, Gray, and L.W. Fields, the shoe-store of John Hastings and several carpenters and artisans of other trades. Just west of the town is the public school building, the "Windy Gap" Cumberland Presbyterian Church is near the town. One of the earliest physicians of Burnsville was Dr. Roberts. In 1863, Dr. Richardson and Dr. Silas McCracken were practicing here and at the present time the profession is represented in Burnsville by Drs. W. S. Grim, J.W. Teagarden and I.N. Sprowls.
West Finley Lodge, No 956, I.O.O.F., was instituted at Burnsville 27 March 1878. The organization of the lodge was effected by Deputy Grand Master James Craig, assisted by Past Grands John Birch and J.M. Carson of Hopewell Lodge, No>504, Robert M.Luckie of No. 607, R.W. McGlumpy of No. 571, Green County, William A. Irwin, N.G. of Hopewell Lodge, No. 504 and I.H. Taylor, N.G. of No. 571. The first officers chosen were Dr. W.L. From, N.G.; George T. Carroll, V.G.; L.M. Sprowls, Sec.; Albert Sampson, Treas. The other charter members were Louis Cooper, James Giles, Joseph Howell, Madeville Earnest, J.M. Houston, Thomas Lawrence, John P. Lucas, G.W. Jenkins, James Marshall, J.J. Irey, A.S. Sprowls, Morgan Sprowls, Seaman Sprowls, J.W. Taylor and Wilson Sprowls. The lodge has at present thirty-two members.
The Burnsville Christian Church.1 In 1839 a gentleman belonging to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church invited a Disciple preacher by the name of James, who resided near Bethan, West Virginia, to preach at two different times in the Windy Gap meeting house. He was followed in 1840 by John Henderson, Dr. George Lucy and Chauncy Ward in frequent appointments and several persons were baptized. A church of what are known as Bible Christians once flourished in the vicinity but had become depleted in membership. The people stood on the same ground with the Disciples in regard to the repudiation of unscriptural names and human creeds as bonds of union. Under the labors of John Henderson, most of the remnant of this church were brought into full harmony with the Disciples and ten of them met with him at the house of Abraham Teagarden and covenanted to enter into a church relation. As far as can now be ascertained, their names are Abraham Teagarden, Nancy Teagarden, Jacob Teagarden, Samuel Teagarden Sr., Eliza Teagarden, Cynthia Teagarden, Robert Chase, Benjamin Potter, James Hill and John Cummins. A short time thereafter an organization was effected, in the year 1841, by Dr. George Lucy, at a school-house near Benjamin Gunn's in West Finley township.
[1By Reverend W.L.Hayden.]
The original members were the above-named ten persons, John Henderson and his wife Hannah Templeton, Nimrod Longdon and his wife Sarah Sutler, Sarah Ackels, Benjamin Gunn, Mary Gunn, Joseph Ryan, Sarah Ryan, John Batson, Walter L.Batson, James Henderson and his wife, twenty five in all.
The first elders were Abraham Teagarden and Joseph Ryan. Benjamin Gunn and Nimrod Longdon were first deacons. The infant church often enjoyed the public teaching of William Munnell.
Unhappily difficulties soon sprang up and scattered the little flock and retarded the progress of the church. By the care and effort of John Henderson Sr. The members rallied again and met at Liberty school-house for public worship.
Several students of Bethany College visited the congregation and rendered valuable service. Among these were Charles L. Loos, John Lindsey, Moses E. Lord and Robert Y. Henley, all of whom afterwards became distinguished preachers of the gospel. Thos. Hillock was regularly employed to preach for one or two years and the church was edified.
In August of this year, S.B. Teagarden, who ten years before had invited preaching in the neighborhood, left the Cumberland Presbyterians and united with the Disciples, receiving the hand of fellowship from Moses E. Lard. About this time Randall Faurot labored a while for this church regularly.
In April 1850, Professor Robert Milligan of Washington College, preached in an adjacent Baptist Church and made a fine impression on the religious community. but Liberty school-house continued to be the place of meeting and many precious seasons of prayer were there enjoyed during this year, near the close of which the house was burned and the Disciples met from house to house.
In October of this year, L.P. Streator preached a few evenings very acceptably and gained some additions. The following minute is from the record of the church of that year:
"Samuel B. Teagarden was chosen and set apart by the laying on of hands to the office of Evangelist by the congregation of Disciples in West Finley, Washington County, Pennsylvania and Walter L. Barson and John M. Longdon were chosen and set apart by the laying on of hands of the Presbytery to the office of elder of said congregation.
Done at the Windy Gap meeting-house, 29 December 1850.
John M. Longdon, clerk"
L.P. Streator was present and officiated on this occasion.
At this time so much interest had been awakened that now professors began to urge the homeless church to build a meeting-house. The great difficulty was the want of funds. In January 1851, the officers of the church authorized S.B. Teagarden to travel and solicit funds for this purpose. He spent five months at much personal sacrifice and by a liberal contribution himself obtained about five hundred and seventy dollars, with which a modest frame building, twenty by thirty-six feet, was erected on the present site near Burnsville. On 10 December 1851, Samuel McFarland made a deed of the lot to Joseph Templeton, Alexander Henderson and Jon M. Longdon, trustees of the Disciples' Church in West Finley township, Washington county, Pennsylvania containing one-fourth of an acre more or less, for the consideration of one dollar for the use of said church.
On the second day of the preceding October, James Darsie preached the first sermon in this house, though the dedication sermon was preached by B. F. Lobingier on the following Lord's day. In September of that year S.B. Teagarden was employed to preach half time for one year.
The preachers who have labored with this church at different times during these forty years and more, in addition to those already named, either in meetings of days, in stated appointments for a specified time, or occasionally are John Dodd, James Foster, James Hough, David Wallis, Thomas J. Melish, William Baxter, A. Campbell, J.D. Pickett, P.H. Jones, I. Baldwin, O.L. Matthews, David White, R.B. Chaplin, J.C. Howell, John Luke, A.E. Myers, and Campbell Jobes. Simon Huston was also a strong preacher and a good elder of the church for many years previous to his death, 14 March 1877. He was mighty in the Scriptures, and died lamented by all who knew him.
Brady Gray is now the leading elder of the church, which numbers, as reported, forty-three members. They have no other pastor at present, and are dependent on supplies for preaching. It is said the elders generally ruled well and the church has continued steadfastly in the faith and practice of the primitive church, though sometimes flourishing and sometimes not. With all its ups and downs, its depletions and opposition, it still stands firmly "upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone."
The Church of the United Brethren in Christ was organized in 1824 in Finley township by the Reverends Jacob Ritter and Adolphus Harndon. Among the first members were George Early, Andrew Stelllar, Samuel Featherly, Henry Sherrich, Isaac and Christina Earnest. The Reverend ___Winters was the first regular preacher and the Reverend C. Wortman was the last one who officiated. A log church was first built soon after the organization which was replace by another in 1850 and in 1874 this gave way to a good and tasteful frame edifice in which the congregation still worship. The society has at present one hundred members.
The "Salem" Methodist Church in the southwest part of West Finley township, was organized about the year 1830. The church edifice is a frame building, and was erected between 1850 and 1860. It stands near the point of intersection of Washington and Green County lines with the West Virginia line. There is now a membership of hundred, under the ministration of Reverend Mr. Boatman, who resides in the town of Dallas, West Virginia.
The North Wheeling Baptist Church was organized in 1850. The church is a frame building, built on land belonging to John Henderson and is located nine miles south of West Alexander, at a place sometimes called "Coonie Town". The place gained this name from a local character, Benjamin Fairly, who from his remarkable success in trapping raccoons was given the sobriquet of "Coonie Ben". Before the late war the society was a strong one. Some of the members in 1856 were Washington and Mary Porsser, Lindley Larimore, Samuel and William Plauts, Andrew Hunt, Jacob Glassbonere, George Carroll, Mary Hamilton, Mary McCann, Maria White, Harriet Glassboner, Lydia McKean, Hannah E. Toland, Mary Parker, Noah Hertzog, George Glasboner, Sarah A. Hertzog, Mary E. Hunt, Jeremiah Glassboner, Mahala, Mary, and John McGinnis, Jane, Nancy, and Martha King, Jane and John Day, Catherine Toland and Lucinda J. Toland. Differences of opinion upon various points have nearly ruined the church and at present it is small, the membership now comprising but thirty-two persons. The former pastors were Reverends William Scott and J.Y. Burwell. The present minister is Reverend John A. Simpson, with occasional preaching by Reverend John Henderson.
Windy Gap Church is a branch of the Concord Church which was organized in 1855. The members of the "Concord' Church residing in the vicinity of Windy Gap petitioned the Presbytery at its previous fall session to organize them into a separate church, which was done 29 May 1855. Their first business session was held in the June following of which the record says "The Windy Gap Congregation met in the church and after prayer received on member by certificate. No further business was transacted." They started out with a membership of over thirty with Alexander Sprowls, John Chase, Samuel rockefellow and Solomon Nickinson as ruling elders. In 1855, Reverend E.P. Henderson was the officiating clergyman but from 1856 to 1857, the people were dependent upon supplies. From 1857 to the spring of 1863, Reverend P. Axtell had the charge. It was during his administration, in 1858, that they purchased a lot of Henry and Nelson Sprowls, - consideration, $600,- upon which they erected a handsome parsonage. The clergymen who followed Reverend Mr. Axtell in preaching at Windy Gap Church were Reverends A.W. White, who remained until 1870, J.D. Foster, who left in 1871, J.N. Cary, who stayed until the spring of 1875 at which time Reverend J.R. Morris assumed the charge. Reverend J. Reed is the present pastor. The burial-ground belonging to this society is called Windy Gap Churchyard. The first grave made in the ground was that of Amand Connet, who died 14 March 1844 at the age of 16. Just below the highway stands a marble monument erected to the memory of two brothers who sacrificed their lives in the defense of their country. They were Griffith D. Taylor, who fell at the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia 13 December 182, and Henry M. Taylor who died on Davis Island, New York 5 February 1864. A monument in this ground marks the grave of Dr. J.W. Hancher, who died 22 March 1876 in the fifty-first year of his age.
Schools.--The earliest teacher of whom there is any account as having taught school within the territory which is now West Finley township was John McDowell, a Scotchman. He was succeeded by David Frazier, a son of Andrew Frazier, who was an early settler and by David Coventry, William Alms, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Parkinson. These school-teachers were paid by subscription, as was the case everywhere in Western Pennsylvania at that time. In this section the subscriptions were generally paid in rye, which was disposed of to the distillers. The localities where early school-houses were placed in this part of Finley township were known as Kimmen's, Frazier's, McCoy's, Powers, Windy Gap and Good Intent.
This township sent James Holmes to the county convention held in Washington 4 November 1834 for the purpose of deciding whether the county of Washington should accept the provisions of the act passed 4 April 1834 providing for a general system of education throughout the state. It was moved by William Patterson of Cross Creek township, that a tax be levied to carry into operation the law. This motion was seconded by Thomas Ringland of Morris township. It was carried, twenty-one votes being cast in favor and five against it. the delegate from Finley, James Holmes, voting year. At this time there were in West Finley township tow hundred and thirty-three persons liable to school tax and the proportion of tax of the township was one hundred and ninety-one dollars and ninety-nine cents which was raised. The next year there was assessed, levied and collected for school purposes two hundred and sixty-nine dollars and ninety -six cents. The township was divided into school districts under the charge of J. Henderson and A. Powers, the school directors elected at the first election held for that purpose on the 14th of October 1834 at the house of John Dougherty (formerly John Sunderland's). School-houses were soon after erected in these districts and though "the operation of the school law was a little cumbersome", still the work progressed and time and experience modified its imperfections until the present successful methods were brought into practice.
The school report of 1863 showed that there were in the township ten districts, with ten schools, ten teachers and 475 scholars. The amount of money received for school purposes was $1262.12; amount expended $1413. In 1873, there were eleven districts, eleven schools and 419 scholars enrolled. Amount of money received for school purposes, $2628.17; amount expended $2686.79. In 1880 there were eleven districts, eleven schools, and 379 scholars enrolled. Amount of money received for school purposes, $2284.09; amount expended $2061.59.
Justices of the Peace.--The following is a list of the justices of the peace elected in West Finley from the year 1840,1 viz.
John Burns, 14 April 1840 Thomas Frazier 9 April 1861 Alexander Frazier 14 April 1840 John B. McGuire 3 June 1865 Alexander Frazier 15 April 1845 Alex. McCleary 17 April 1866 John Burns 15 April 1845 John B. McGuire 17 April 1870 Alexander Frazier 9 April 1850 Alex McCleary 1 April 1871 John Burns 10 April 1850 Alex McCleary 9 April 1874 John Burns 10 April 1855 E.B. Gray 17 March 1875 Alexander Frazier 10 April 1855 Alex McCleary 16 March 1876 Thomas Frazier 20 May 1850 J.C. Baldwin 30 March 1880 John B. McGuire 10 April 1860 Alex McCleary 9 April 1881
[1Prior to 1840 the territory of West Finley and East Finley was included in the Donegal district. See justices' list of East Finley.]
*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 Pat Thomas of [TBD] in March 1998. Published in March 1998 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com.
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