Monday, July 20, 2015

Reading Material

   Are you all having yourselves a good summer? We're already into late July and the season sneaks past so quickly. The weather has been hot, but so far, most nights have not been very humid here in my neck of the woods, near the borders of Westmoreland and Fayette counties of Pennsylvania.

  Have any of you heard of It is a bit less expensive than some of the other newspaper sites out there. I've spent much time, off and on, searching through this these archives  gathering old stories and clippings from the yellowed articles lurking amid the astrology columns, headlines, political editorials and comics. Alright, a guy can get a little side tracked!

  My attention is particularly drawn toward the one local paper they list, The Daily Courier. That's the one weak point in that they have- no Mt. Pleasant Journal, no Scottdale Observer, or even the Greensburg Tribune! Are they ever planning on adding these? I have no idea, but feel I am missing out an a lot so am thinking of transferring to another newspaper source which includes these to gain better old info on our region here in southwestern Pennsylania and, of course the northern Fayette and southern Westmoreland base I call home. They are still a good source for much material.

  This article isn't really about critiquing these or any other books, as I am a bit of a greenhorn in fine tuning my perceptions into quality descriptions. This is mostly intended to give some insight into my reading habits.


  I love books, and can't say too little on their behalf. Perhaps many of you feel the same.

 Nope, somehow I just haven't gotten around to adding an official 'Reading List' to the website. Things take time, and like fine wine, you see... At any rate, the gadget might 'pop up' here one of these days. You may ask, why isn't one already planned out? Many other little things in life, would be my most honest answer. Part of the reason might relate to my odd reading habits and much of this is piecemeal style, searching about, here and there . This probably appears overdue to many, I don't want to make false promises. We'll let it at that for now. If you are interested, again, you can contact me.

 A Nice Deviation

  I have been spending some hours, more off than on, at Ken Colton's barbershop in Ruffsdale. That's East Huntingdon in Westmoreland County, for those that are not locals. (I know there a quite a few page views from, not only other states, but many other countries :). With his fine spirit of  knowledge and generosity, from time to time I have been going through his wonderful collection of writings, pamphlets, articles and clippings. Really all kinds,you name it. Ken has a bunch of varied and sometimes valuable stuff in about six large folders which I am making an effort to keep a record of the most meaningful material for historical subjects, although all of it is interesting.

  Could this become an upcoming post? Sure it could.

  A Handful of Books

  I actually purchased 'The Hidden History Of The Laurel Highlands' and I finished reading it not too long ago. This was pretty good book with interesting and less known material. I purchased it while initially interviewing Jimmy, who looks after the bookstore at West Overton. It just caught my eye, I guess.  'The Indian Chiefs of Pennsylvania' is a really good read. I picked it up on Amazon and am getting further into it as I speak. It is available at the Internet Archive here.


  The full name is"The Indian Chiefs Of Pennsylvania, or, A story of the part played by the American Indian in the history of Pennsylvania: (there's more) based primarily on the Pennsylvania archives and colonial records, and built around the outstanding chiefs'. Mostly, I went straight to the chapters on the Seneca Tanacharison and Captain Jacobs because that is what is being researched right now. So, do expect sometime in the next month or two, or at least, the near future, the appearance of a fresh article on Jacobs, and possibly on the half king, pertaining to the information I can locate. Jacobs was apparently a fascinating person and toward the end of his life, he became a hostile character toward the settlers of the early mid-1700's, along with the supremo of the Delaware Indian tribe, King Shingas. All this and so much more can be discovered in this volume.

  'The Braddock Road: Mapping The British Expedition...' by Norman Baker is another. I haven't gone beyond referring to some of these references, let alone an honest to goodness review, (or 'In Search Of The Turkey Foot Road' would surely of been high on the list, as Lannie Dietle requested me to do so well over a year ago). Part of the purpose in buying it concerned a colleague who needed a Westmoreland Deed Book survey for an article from a footnote inside. Nevertheless, all in all, the info is of a good caliber and well updated. My only real criticism would be the brevity. There simply aren't that many pages, and it is a subject I am not expert in, but near and dear to my heart. A nice addition for my taste would be a few highlighted descriptions and directions for some of the lesser known areas. You can likely understand why I would have something to sink my historical teeth into, as it were, although it is a precise volume in important parts of the route. There are other much older books on the magnificent region the Braddock Road navigated. I'll leave it to visitors to do some searching on their own.

  Another thing is, and you could guess this by sheer conjecture, that Google Books is a fine research destination.. Not to be a making an advertisement for any particular company, albeit, a huge one, researchers do swear by it, (not at it). Really, it's an amazing reference tool. What can be gleaned from their Scholar function is also a fine program and well inclined for researching specific topics.  A good service to use if, and when, history buffing becomes a real hobby. There is such a variety online, in many other sites, too many to go into detail. What I was originally getting at, why fill your house with heavy books that take up much space, when I can read and file it for FREE? You need room for the bookcases, of course. You got it. Some might say the same thing about T.V. God forbid! Don't get me started on pet peeves. Remember the reality that books, pamphlets and articles are NOT informatively equal, qualitatively, regardless of quantity. Sourcing, manner of writing, details, bibliographies and indexing, all make a huge difference toward the deeper reading experience.

  And if like me you are REALLY crazy about the idea of having hard copies of your favorite authors and subject matter, you will make a comfortable and hopefully quiet nook for those storied bookshelves.

  Moving toward the idea of possessions, naturally, ONE advantage to owning a book, beyond the cultured look and feel of a walnut cased library of your own with leather chair surrounded by a favorite pet, heck maybe warming your toes at a roaring fire, is the satisfaction of making your colored markings in a soon dogeared hard copy and the well used familiarity that goes with that. There is no exact replacement for this. Book Lovers know this fact. It may leave an eyesore if others peruse your most treasured pages, or you are worried excessively about their monetary value, so do keep that aspect in mind.

A fairly rare book, donated by a good friend

  Here's another book about Mendon, near West Newton. Written in 1967 by Leahettea Albright, and entitled, 'Memories And Hearsay About Route 31 And Mendon'. This is one of those wonderful, quaint, little pamphlets chock full of tidbits, from recipes to directions for small out of the way places rarely heard of, to obscure local information of a revealing caliber. There's one to pick up-if, a big if, you ever see it available! A colleague gave this rare edition to me as a gift, a very nice gesture. I didn't really do anything to deserve it, except, maybe, for writing this blog. Anyone else in a giving mood, e-mail me and I'll happily send you an address!

  'The Old Pike: A History Of  The National Road' originally published in Uniontown, Fayette County, in 1894 by old time toll gate expert Thomas B. Searight, is another. This book has been lent to me by a colleague. I think the return is overdue! I find it rather slow going, with all the old letters and notations from the Pennsylvania Council and I admit to not reading it all. Altogether, there are forty seven chapters. Well, it takes some depth to stay with it and not finding yourself leafing through and wondering if it will ever end. Seriously, it is clearly very well done and serves an important purpose, almost a document in itself; noteworthy, as an historical reference piece on much that happened in the early 1800's on this amazing roadway. I love getting into the many, gritty and capable wagoners and stage drivers. A large part of the contents can be gleaned by deep internet searches, but having the information in concrete form cannot be replaced.

  Wherever you find a good read, treat it like an old friend and they will treat your mind to a mental feast!

   I wanted to add some extra comments on 'The Indian Chiefs Of Pennsylania.' It was first published by Winnawoods, Lewisburg in 1927 by C. Hale Sipe with an intro by Dr. George Donehoo. Ths is one of those books I  just had to own eventually! I am particularly impressed with the fine chapters on Tanacharison, (as the name is sometimes spelt),  and Captain Jacobs. I suspect there a few minor errors as to the Braddock's Great Swamp Camp and hopefully I will have an upload detailing the subject. Otherwise, the sources are spot on, information and research definitely interesting. There is much to recommend, particularly toward what it contains of the various origins of the tribes, from Cornsatlk to Scarouady to Pipe and Shingas. Quite a well thought out and comprehensive tome, right down to the red cover trimmed in gold. I vote it in as a quality product. Being reprinted in 1994 and 1995 is reassuring.

  One last book, for now, about a place way off the beaten path of these Westmoreland and Fayette counties. This is surely enough for my purposes.  'A Historical and Folklore Tour of the PENNSYLVANIA GRAND CANYON.' This comes with the added bonus of an inexpensive price. This is all about the wonders of the north-central Pa county of Potter and the vicinity, written by Elfriede Elizabeth Ruppert, a local, in 1964. Included is Wellsboro, Leonard Harrison Sate Park, Coudersport and stories and traditions of our great resource 'up there', a really marvellous place to visit with a unique history of its own. This is an average sized book, yet is filled with tons of photos of all kinds of things. My dad was in a hunting cabin back in the day and afterwards my brother ended up buying out the other owners, so it is still in our family. From a child, I loved making the long trip up and checking out the scenery, whether fishing or hunting season, or just to enjoy a vacation away from it all. A whole lot has changed in the environs, some of this geared toward commercial values, but, in all this is still a great experience I have been a part of quite a few times. I heartily recommend making the trip.

   By the way, throw a comment my way on the blog, you can easily let me know what are your favorites, alright? Now there is no need to be shy with FWFH, you are among friends here. I'd love to be enlightened by YOUR recent reading habits!

  Keep an eye out for the next post!



Friday, July 3, 2015

Origins of the Counties of Southwestern PA

    Wishing you a Happy Fourth of July and Independence Day!

  And what better way to set off the celebrations and fireworks, than by recounting a past history of the counties of our wonderful and significant region.

General  Introduction

   This includes basic information gearing attention toward the formation of the surrounding counties of southwestern Pennsylvania, touching on the main highways, prominent figures and key happenings along the way. Hopefully the designation of this post is sufficient to the task. What I will not be doing is specifying much in the way of township histories, such is well beyond our immediate scope.

   Would anyone care to venture where the germ of this idea came from? Yes, there are those of you  checking the blog out more closely! It began , naturally enough with my write up of "Whiskey Mania in Southwest Pennsylvania" here. Of course, in writing on an expansive canvas with such a broad brush, this research led me further into the unique story behind the creation of our counties and their seats of government, with some historical anecdotes and photos to share added interest. So, let's make this an enjoyable experience as there are details I have learned along the way, "up around the bend."

   Before you know it, we can regain and incorporate much of our misplaced knowledge through  unique insights lending to reminding ourselves just where this all began. Polishing off old forgotten library books, turning them into a living, breathing source of regional, state and national pride. We will have also acquired a pocketful of shiny old treasure of a sort that cannot be stolen, but that can be handed out and passed on to younger generations for their future. When given away freely, the interest from this dividend continues to accumulate for a rainy day! Thereby, bit by bit, putting together the pieces of a fascinating historical puzzle to indulge in being a part of the panorama as it ever continues to unfold.

   Included in our survey are the following:

  Bedford, Somerset, Westmoreland, Fayette, Allegheny, Greene and Washington.

  I have decided not to allocate space for the make up of the old Ohio, Monongalia, Yohogania and District of West Augusta claims of Virginia in the dispute with Pennsylvania. This was favorably resolved in the interests of the northern state in the 1780's. The issue was addressed to some extent in the article linked above. Perhaps, this could be discussed with further detail in the near future.

   I allow room for a small disclaimer here that this is partly a learning experience for yours truly, and am not making definitive claims as an expert on everything about the surrounding counties. So, please do not expect this designation as originating at my expense. The data was taken from the basic sources and is believed to be ascertained as factual.

  Now that we have settled this important observation, without further ado, let's begin the exciting journey wrapped up in the intriguing southwest Pennsylvania region!

The first county to be reviewed is ... (drum roll please)... Bedford.

    Bedford  County

  With references from the Old Glade Road, 1941 by William H. Coleman, Bedford County was originally formed from old Cumberland County, a part of the territorial dispute of Maryland, on March 9, 1771. In 1772, in a July Term of Court, the Brothers Valley inhabitants petitioned for a road, and everyone would like to expect their government provide at least one of these means of travel. "The petition asked that the road begin at Bedford and run through the Glades of Yough and Stoney Creek and by Sewekely to the River." (Thomas Kenton was one of those six viewers). They later stated, "To the thirty one mile tree from Fort Pitt on General Braddock's Road where the same crosses Sewekely Creek being in the whole sixty seven miles, which road as it is above described and laid out..." This was then cut and cleared and is the creation of what was the old 'Glade's Road'.


  Bedford is a very historic borough and the county seat of the same name, originating from the military Fort Bedford near Raystown. This was under the able command of Henry Bouquet for the Forbes campaign during the French and Indian War era. Bedford was intially laid out in 1766 and incorporated on March 13, 1795. Near a strategic spot on the Juniata River, it was named in honor of the Duke of Bedford who was a prestigious member of the peerage of England. Bedford was heavily involved with the Black Boys Rebellion.

   The Espy House was known famously as the headquarters of President George Washington in 1794 during the infamous Whiskey Rebellion. Much of this centered on Jean Bonnet's Tavern erected and established sometime before 1779 and purchased by Indian trader Robert Callender, it is a justly well known landmark on U. S. Highway 30, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Bonnet family of West Virginia are direct descendants.

Bonnet Tavern, from the Library of Congress

   President James Buchanan made the Bedford Springs Hotel his "summer White House" for the supposed curative properties of the water there. It and the Chalybeate Hotel had seen visits by Presidents Polk, William Henry Harrison, Taylor and Hayes. Benjamin Harrison also visited. The Bedford Historic District is on the National register of Historic Places since 1983 The Lincoln Highway also passes through Bedford.

  A word on the Glades Road, or the Glades Pike, (depending on what is the exact vicinity encountered). Once a prominent Indian Path, it traversed from near Mann's Choice at the intersection of Rt's 31 and 96, then near Roxbury, following part of the Burd Road, possibly passing somewhat north of Somerset near to Allegheny Township, and then Lavansville and Bakersville. Then heading near to (William) Jone's Mill at the west of Laurel Hill, proceeding to Four Mile Run north of Donegal and Acme, then back south toward Laurelville on present Rt. 31 again. From there at the bottom of Chestnut Ridge on through near the dividing line between Fayette and Westmoreland County and Mount Pleasant passing Ruffsdale toward the Sewickely and the West Newton area, used  by Putnam to what became West Newton in 1788, basically said to be following Rt. 31 most of the way to Braddock's Road, then a part of the road ran on to McKeesport. Crossing at the 'thirty-one mile tree' near one mile west of Hunkers. It extended to the west of the Youghiogheny near to Budd's Ferry in Washington County. This is as "are shown on Reading Howell's Map of 1792".

    Somerset  County

   At a dim time early in it's history, the region was inhabited by the agricultural Monongehela people of Native American origin. By the mid-1700's began an influx of Scotch-Irish, English and German immigrants like the Bruner's, Weyand's and Putnam's, bringing a hardy brand of pioneer spirit to the mountains and rivers as they built their cabins and reaped the harvests of early farmland.

  The county of Somerset was created on April 17, 1795 out of a part of Bedford County. It was named after Somerset, a shire in England. As an aside, this is partly where we derive the word sheriff from, a legal figure with responsibility for a regional jurisdiction as a  'reeve', an old English or Anglo-Saxon term comparable to a constable or earlderman going back before feudal times; 'shire' 'reeve', there you have it.

   Somerset borough was first laid out in 1795, as many of the earliest settlers came to Turkey Foot. The first court was held on Christmas Day in 1795 and the first courthouse was built in 1800.  Incorporated in 1804 is the county seat with Quemahoning, Lincoln and Jefferson Townships to the west, and Stoney Creek and Brothers Valley Township to the east. The borough is surrounded by Somerset Township, with the Walter's Mill Bridge of 1840 and the old Georgian Zimmerman mansion as just a few of it's attractions. The courthouse itself, administered by a seven member council near where U. S. Route 219 passes and Rt. 31 going east-west through Patriot Street and the center of the borough. This construction occurred in the very early 1900's on land deeded by Adam Schneider, a veteran of the Revolutionary War and important contributor to the town, in 1795. It is pictured here and is on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.

Somerset County Courthouse, East Union Street, (canadian2006)

There exist the Uptown and Downtown Historic Districts with the Patriot Street School of 1906 and the Old Jail and Sheriff's residence of 1856. Harmond Husband from Coffee Springs Farm near here, of the less radical element of the southern Regulators, famous for his part in the Whiskey Rebellion, lived near here. The Berlin militia was involved in putting down the insurrection. Much foment took place at Webster's Tavern at Brunerstown, which became Somerset, off of exit 110 of I-70 and I-76. John Wells involved with the Melish-Whiteside map, lived east and slightly north of Husband's Mill and factory.

   The Historical and Genealogical Society of Somerset County, established in 1959, uses the Adam Miller house on the grounds, by Dr. Earl Haupt from 1955, it was built in the late 1790's. The Somerset Historical Center itself first dedicated in 1970 and expanded in 1997 and contains structures and various departments of significance. Eber Cockley was the first president of the Laurel Messenger publication, celebrating with the Mountain Craft Days every September with potters, stone masons and black smiths demonstrating their vocation.

   Somerset even has a crater named after it on Mars!

  Greene  County


  Named after the Revolutionary War Major General Nathaniel Greene, 1742-1786,  known for his success against Cornwallis in the Southern Campaign, Greene County is at the extreme south west of Pennsylvania. The county was established back in 1796 and carved out of Westmoreland. It is separated from Fayette by the Monongahela River, on the north by Washington County, and on the west and south by West Virginia. Originally, the area was mostly the hunting grounds of the Iroquois from the north.

  The Major General hailed from Rhode Island, in Warwick, from a somewhat controversial and prominent background. Starting out with  his personal study of books on war, rising from a lowly militia private to one of the most respected and knowledgeable military men of his age. He was banished from the Quakers for his views on war and the defense of liberty.

   The county seat is the borough of Waynesburg, where the County Courthouse and Greene County Jail are located. Named for 'Mad' Anthony Wayne, 1745-1796, a famous General of the War For Independence. The earliest census was in 1870. The Waynesburg and Washington Railway was begun in 1874. Home of historic Hanna Hall built in 1851 and Miller Hall. Wayne was head of the Legion of the United States protected by Pennsylvania Long Rifles and based and specifically  kept at Fort La Fayette, replacing Fort Pitt, in what is now Pittsburgh. Something the tri-state area should be particularly proud of with that honor of the origin of the American Armed Forces. Also it was the embarkation of the preparation point for the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition to the far west. He it was who broke the will of the Natives in their fight to regain control of the Ohio country.
(Some of this information is taken from 'History of Greene County', of 1888).

   Rice's Landing, a small borough on the Monongahela River incorporated in 1903, and mapped out by none other than Benjamin Franklin, is ingrained with the story of Washington's stay nearby. In 1786 John Rice settled here on Enoch's Run, now Pumpkin Run. Am important passage with much trading, shops and taverns where the industry eventually centered around the W. A. Young and Sons Foundry And Machine Shop.

    With the Greene River Bike and Walking Trail and the Historic District and it's quality remnants of old industrial buildings, it is on the National Register Of Historic Places.

   The Fisher Indian Site in Richhill Township on Wheeling Creek in the northwest. Ryerson Station State Park here was in dispute in 1792 with the Indians and Virginia for some years. A significant site of the reputed Monongahela Culture of the Late Woodland era, (believed to be ancestors of the Shawnee indigenous peoples), has seen 1,100 artifacts recovered, not counting what was taken by locals from the 1940's on. Now we must move on to other pastures.

Fayette  County
   Founded on September 26, 1783 and formed from Westmoreland County, (originally taken from Bedford), with the county seat occupying Uniontown, Fayette County.


Uniontown once known as Beesontown for founder Henry Beeson and is on the National or Cumberland Road. It was a major area of conflict in the Whiskey Rebellion and as those most interested in our regional history well know, was named in honor of a fascinating figure, a loyal patriot to his country and a hero of the Amercian cause, the Marquis de Lafayette.

   The 'town of Union' was founded on the historical and important date of July 4, 1776. That's correct folks, quite a coincidence.It held a large role in the days of the Underground Railroad. It eventually grew into a main town of steel mills and coal mines, experiencing part of the bituminous coal miners strike of 1894 and the violence included the killing of five miners and the wounding of eight from fifteen heavily armed guards. Although the Downtown Historic District has the honor of being listed on the National register of Historic Places, unfortunately, as with so much of the rest of the county through dreaded deindustrialization, it's influence has steadily declined economically since the late Twentieth Century.

  The first courthouse of East Main Street, (old Elbow Street, for its shape), was built in 1796, the last was in March 1847.

   Lafayette the Patriot

La Fayette as a Lieutenant General, 1791

   'The friend of Washington, and the friend of liberty', as stated by Andrew Jackson, Gilbert du Motier was born at the Chateau du Chavaniac in Avergne in September 6, 1757 and died on May 20, 1834. Of French ancestry and a capable military commander and an aristocrat, he married Adrienne de Noailles in 1774 and had three children. He was made an honorary citizen of the United States, with only six others noted for the privilege, and was made a 'natural born citizen' in 1784, as well as his heirs, by a resolution of the Maryland General Assembly in Annapolis before the ratification of the Constitution. As suggested in the above paragraph, La Fayette, in spite of his impetuous limitations in some areas, was one of Washington's closest friends and confidantes and many places here are named after him, and still is counted as a true hero of the Republic. Jefferson even offered to make him Governor of Louisiana!

   He had voted against the death of the King of France, but was considered a traitor for not attempting to save Mare-Antionette from the guillotine. A prisoner of war in Austria for five years, he lost many of his holdings and stature, though thoroughly compensated in later times. He eventually made his escape, having been mistreated and regaining his health, then made his way to the newly created United States. His second visit was in 1784 and in his last arrival to these shores was for his triumphal tour in 1824, which lasted over a year, as an elderly statesman of France. During the French July Revolution of 1789 he refused the offer of Dictator and was heavily involved in the first Constitution of 1791. As related by a 1919 article of the New York Times, he lies in Vicennes in Picpus Cemetery buried in American soil from Bunker Hill that he took with him on his last voyage.

Washington's Personal Connection with Fayette County

    George Washington traversed the area in the 1750's on his expeditions and in 1754 more thoroughly as a surveyor, traveling also from the Alleghenies to the Monongahela River and at Redstone Old Fort, a prehistoric earthwork and an area concerned with Nemacolin's Trail of the Indian guide and Shawnee Chief which passed ner to Confluenc and held close to the Youghiogheny River. Nemacolin's Castle eventually became Fort Burd used as a trading post in the 1780's.

   In Fayette County, Washington did battle with the French when he was 22 years old at Jumonville Glen, near what was Dunbar's Camp, the famous 'shot heard round the world' of the western counterpart of the Seven Years War, known to us as the French and Indian War. Later, he, along with the presence of the famed frontiersman Daniel Boone, Christopher Gist and other later famed men, helped pave the way for Braddock's Road, connected with the Ohio Company and further constructed in 1751, much of which was in the confines of the county. In the summer of 1754, the outcome was much less fortunate as Lieutentant Colonel Washington held a small 'Fort of Necessity', on the great meadows, a National Battlefield Site near Farmington on the old National Pike. Located on the eastern parts of Rt. 40, ithe fort was said to of been built as much to keep the militia from getting to the stores as to be used as a last ditch defensive effort. I'm not aware of the truth of this supposition. Nearby is Braddock's Grave and historic monument, where he died in 1755 in an area, somewhat controversially considered British soil! This was Washington's only defeat amid lack of supplies and wet powder.

   He owned this land and other areas with parts of Perryopolis and old Bullskin Township. The county was settled by many Scotch-Irish and German immigrants. In the mid to late 1800's it became the center of the rich coal mining and coke production which brought in an element of people from eastern and southern Europe. The steel mill collapse of the late 1960's and 1970's brought large spread decline to the economy of the region.

   Fayette County is surrounded by Westmoreland on the north, Somerset on the east, Greene to the west and parts of West Virginia and Maryland to the south and contains 24 townships, with sites such as Friendship Hill and Fallingwater, 48 historic markers and to some, the most important of all, the birthplace of the Big Mac!

   For more information check with the Fayette County Historical Society, once known as the Uniontown Historical Society.

   By the way, it is stated that the Assateague tribe, a probable sub group of the Naticoke in the 'lower counties' of Pennsylvania more toward the east. They spoke a form of Algonquian. In the mid 1700's many emigrated to the Susqurhanna region who were themselves defeated in 1675 by the Iriquois Confederacy, and on further into Canada.Some Nantikoes, (possibly referring to a part of the Nanticoke tribe),  were known by whites as the Conoy and considered part of the Picsatawy Indians.

   Westmoreland  County

   Westmoreland County, 'the Star of the West' of the Laurel Highlands, established in 1785 as Newtown, appropriately enough, after the burning of Hannastown founded in 1773, the first county seat. Progressing into an incorporated borough in 1799 named Greensburg, named after Nathaniel Greene, a Continental and Revolution Era major general, as was Greene County with explanations given previously. A certain amount of what was written concerning Washington and General Braddock in other posts that can be located on the blog, could be repeated almost verbatim, as they traversed what was narrowed down to the modern day Westmoreland, as well.

   The courthouse originated with an act of assembly of Sept. 13, 1785. This took some time, since the burning of Hannastown which was previously the county seat, which caused enormaous hesitation in relocating it further south, especially as Allegheny had yet to be formed and there was added pressure to locate it there with infighting and finagling. Much positive work was done by Christopher Truby, William Jack and Michael Rugh. They then made land purchases and laid out the lots for what was to be called Newtown, appropriately enough.

  In a report of Simon Drums old tavern stand, it was said that, in 1785, "the devil came to this house, "to dance away wi' the excise-man" !

  More On Greensburg

  In 'Dutchtown' there was an inn kept by John Kuhns. In 'Irishtown' there was an the "Federal Springs" tavern of Frederick Mechlin, of a seemingly non-Irish name. There was the Greensburg and Pittsburgh Hotel and the ' Dublin Hotel', which stood on Green Lane. The public common was "a short distance north of the end of East Ottoman Street" and near the Presbyterian Meeting House, according to "The History Of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania" on page 502. This is where the first schoolhouse was built, very near to St. Clair Cemetery with the elegant spring. The monument to Major-General Arthur St. Clair is in the southern part of the cemetery and is twenty feet tall. He died August 31, 1818.

uploaded by Ichabod, Wiki Creative Commons

   This region has the distinction of being the only county in Pennsylvania west of the Allegheny Mountains in the old days and it was named for the historic county of England. Westmoreland County is surrounded by 8 other counties, those being, Armstrong to the north, the northeast by Indiana, Cambria on the east, Somerset in the southeast, Washington on the southwest, with Fayette on the south, Allegheny on the west and finally, Butler to the northwest. The Westmoreland Historical Society is located off the historic Lincoln Highway on 362 Sand Hill Road.

   Mount Pleasant is the oldest borough in the county, (1828), with Youngstown in 1831, and New Alexandria and Ligonier formed in 1834. With attractions like Seton Hill College, Bushy Run battlefield and the Adam Fisher Homestead.

   Allegheny County

   Referenced as being the home of the possibly mythical Allegewi Indians, and later, the Mingo, Delaware and Shawnee tribes, the Indian traders migrated here early, such as Peter Chartier of the 'Pekowi' or Piqua division of the Shawnee Indian tribe, to Shannopin's Town, who came to side with the French cause. They are known to history somewhat as more of an Ohio based tribe as they moved through here to the western regions. Later, Chartier's Creek became extremely polluted by acid and industrial run off and sewage overflow.

Wikimedia Commons public domain,
   Chartier's Old Town established in 1743

 The county was known far and wide in modern times for the production of steel mills, glass, river port cargo haulage and even oil. Now it relies more on technology, healthcare, Marcellus shale and financial services. Note: Do please keep in mind, this is a condensed version and many details like the highways, public transit, most of the famous buildings, radio stations etc., have been related in prominent fashion, ad infinitum in various sources. This will be, by necessity, dictated only in brief and that might be seen as a relief for this brief rendition.

   Allegheny is divided up into forty two townships with two of those containing Fayette names. The popular professional sports teams centered in Pittsburgh, the county seat, more on that later, are the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team, the Steelers football team and the Penguins hockey team. They use PNC Park, Heinz Field and the Console Energy Center, respectively. It would be interesting to be able to give a relation of their history, but even a brief Wikipedia type rundown would be well beyond the scope of this article, including the teams of the colleges as Duquesne University and Penn State. To this cause, I am planning articles of the major sports teams on FWFH.

   Allegheny County was settled by the English, thrifty Scots-Irish, industrious German and Welsh immigrants.

flag of Pittsburgh

Brief history of Pittsburgh

   Often claimed to be one of the most livable cities in the country, originating in the mid-eighteenth century, Pittsburgh, built on the site of Fort Duquesne, home of the Fort Pitt Museum, is known as the "steel city' and steeped in ethnicity. With 446 bridges with it's convergence at Point State Park, is of course is the cultural, demographic and economic leading city of Appalachia on the Allegheny Plateau and the Ohio Valley region of western Pennsylvania. The only larger city in the state is Philadelphia. It lies at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers and the source of the Ohio. The city was named from the humble beginnings by the Scotsman, General John Forbes after Bouquet's Bushy Run victory in the honor of William Pitt, the British statesman in 1758, and building began here.

Alright, now this was a very old pivotal home to the Mound Builders of the mysterious Adena Culture, the prehistoric Hopewell Culture as well, which are highlgihted by places like McKees Rocks,(where 33 skeletons were found),  and later tribes of Native American Indians. Logstown was approximately eighteen miles down river and to the south of Pittsburgh. The Seneca Shannopin's Town, temporary home of Queen Alliquppa in the 1750's, was on the eastern ban of the Allegheny; Sawkunk or Sawcunk, on the Beaver River housed King Shingas for a time The township was incorporated in 1771 and the borough in 1794. France ceded its territory by the Treaty of Paris in 1763 when Fort Pitt was under a siege for two months when successfully relieved by Henry Bouquet after the French and Indian theatre and extension of the Seven Years War, beating out the Shawnee and Delaware from the area. While, a short time later Britain lost any legal claim to this possession, specifically in 1783, after the War of Independence was won by the United States. 
 Despite much affluence of the largely Scotch-Irish iron and steel mills, and a sort of renaissance in the middle of the 20th Century centered in the Hill District and Eat Liberty, the city experienced serious decline with massive closures and layoffs from stiff foreign competition, hostile management and the effect of the unions by the 1970's and 80's. Much, much more could be related about this great city west of the Alleghenies, and yet, I could hardly be able to keep it brief, ballooning out of all proportion. For example, there are at least 12 universities residing in Pittsburgh.

   Famous People:

  Obviously, from the Golden Triangle on around, there are too many to count, so we'll narrow it down to the most famous and most well known.

   George Westinghouse: Born of German immigrants from Massachusetts in New York on October6, 1846, George Westinghouse Sr. was an inventor. Following in his footsteps, the son became an assistant engineer for the U. S. Navy and also spent time in the New York Cavalry. he made many inventions, and example would be the air brake. Then he began working with the railroads and his own steel works and in 1886 formed the Westinghouse Electric Company and had extensive works near East Pittsburgh. He also got into the production of natural gas and was soon a multimillionaire and he won many awards and accolades.
S. Jarvis Adams, born in 1837 was an industrious man of many inventions himself known for his iron plants.

Henry J. Heinz born October 11, 1844 in Pittsburgh, PA, was brought up in a Presbyterian religious family. He started out as a bookkeeper and a grocer, then working in his father's business of brickyards and with his own company active on many boards and universities. He was a famous Republican as well.

 Andrew Mellon son of a financier and a judge Thomas Mellon: the Scot. They were from Westmoreland County and Andrew bought himself a farm in New Salem. He formed the Mellon National Bank and was a great admirer of Benjamin Franklin.

courtesy of Wiki Commons, public domain

At one time this was also a part of West Augusta, Virginia, until the settling of the Mason Dixon controversy in 1780. It is believed the location was first observed by the white man in 1669 by La Salle's expedition when the Shawnee roamed the area at the bequest of the Iroquois of New York.
 Once within the confines of Bedford County, Pittsburgh was within Pitt Township according to a Wikipedia article that can be verified. Under the Penn leadership, one Thomas Viceroy actually laid out the town plots.  The 'Great Fire' began by sparks heating wash water and enveloping a cotton factory, destroyed much of the city in April 10, 1845. After rebuilding it experienced rapid growth with the building of the nearby Pennsylvania Canal system, but within an unequal infrastructure, causing problems later. By the early 1800's with the iron production the was coal dust everywhere and for many years under a pall of black gloom. The place of origin of the Republican Party in 1856, (that's hard to imagine), it then saw the rise of Industrialist Andrew Carnegie's U. S. Steel company and the merging of various neighborhoods.


    Washington  County

 Carved out of Westmoreland County, and not a center of pivotal occurrences within it's southwestern boundaries, what would become Washington County, Pennsylvania was a key part of the dispute between Penn's colonial Charter and Virginia's jurisdictional dispute. The Whiskey Insurrection and the building of the National Road was also prominent to the region, (source-History of Washington County, Pennsylvania, main author, Franklin Ellis, 1882).

 The county seat is Washington, a borough with the distinction of visits by fifteen, count them, 15 presidents of the United States! Later it was settled mostly by Scots and Irish. Originally, it was held by "Catfish", a popular name of the Delaware Chief Tangooqua, near Chartier's Creek in the 1750's. This was a key area of rebellious citizens involved in the Whiskey Rebellion of the early 1790's, and of particular important was the politician and insurrectionist David Bradford, a trustee of Canonsburg and Jefferson colleges. He was finally received a welcome pardon by President John Adams. The borough was incorporated with some lots officially given to George Washington, on Feb. 13, 1810.Don't forget this, it is also the home of the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, by all accounts a really informative and fun place. It is justly famous for the oldest known ancient Rockshelter archeological site in the New World of Meadowcroft Village, in Jefferson Township, once inhabited by the Monongahela Culture and Peoples.

  Surrounded on the north by Beaver County, on the northeast by Allegheny, on th east by Westmoreland, Fayette, and also Allegheny; on the south by Greene County and on the west, by the state of West Virginia. The main waterway is the Monongahela River which rises in West Virginia and flows through the southeast of Greene County and then flowing northward marks the eastern boundary finally arriving at the confluence of the 'Three Rivers' at Pittsburgh. There are many creeks which flow from the east to the 'Mon'.

   Created in March of 1781, the county was once occupied by bands of the Shawnee, Delaware and Mingos with those representatives of the Six Nations who had, more or less, temporary camps or villages there, such as Catfish. But, according to Ellis' Hisotory of Washington County Penn' was the old Delaware, Catfish from Wash. County on the Wissameking creek around 1770, who talked of opening a road to the Allegheny saying " we have found it a very Good Road, and all our (11), Nations will use this Road for the time to come." Interesting quotation, if this is not meant more as an allegorical or figurative statement.  After Dunmore's War the area saw much in the way of incursions and massacres from 1774-1783.

'Old Main' of Washington and Jefferson College


     Well known for Budd's Ferry and the Black Horse Tavern, the borough was laid out in the late 1700's by Revolutionary soldier, miller and justice, John Cannon and incorporated in 1802.

John Cannon's Mill

  Colonel Cannon may of served on the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, although this appears to be unclear. He also constructed the Stone College building and the Canonsburg Academy. He passed on in 1798, an invaluable key figure in the early organization of Washington County. Canonsburg became an area of coal mines and steel districts, with several railroads, while famous male pop singers like Bobby Vinton and Perry Como called it home. With the introduction of the Standard Chemical Company of the early 1900's, it was once called 'the most radioactive town in America'.

    In miniature, this is the origins of our counties. I realize there is much information which could of been included, excepting that the main purpose was to present a brief, inclusive presentation that could meet the need toward a view of the key points of our county history and I feel that is accomplished. If anybody thinks important issues or facts were left out, do make a comment below and I will consider your point.

    Thank you for your abiding mutual interest in our great history. Have yourself a good holiday!
    ~ Histbuffer/Alan Wilson

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