The date of the organization of Salem township is unknown, for there is a blank in our court records, which were probably lost in their removal from Hannastown to Greensburg. It does not appear among the list of townships in 1785, but does appear in the list in 1788. The township has been changed materially since its original formation. It is bounded at present on the north by Washington, Bell and Loyalhanna townships; on the east by Loyalhanna creek and Derry township; on the south by the townships of Unity and Hempfield, and on the west by Penn and Franklin townships. Almost the entire township is underlaid with continuous veins of coal of the Pittsburgh seam, which are rarely ever less than seven feet in thickness. The supply is almost inexhaustible, and it affords an industry to perhaps a majority of its present inhabitants. The principal streams in Salem township are the Beaver run and the White Thorn run.
Among the first settlers were many of Massachusetts ancestry, and the whole township, so far as its pioneer families are concerned, bears the impress of New England industry, prudence and thrift. Many of these settlers were of British and Scotch-Irish descent. Among them were James McQuilken, William Wilson, William Hall, Christian Ringer, David Shryock, Michael McCloskey, Philip Steinmates, John Cochran, William Wilson, George Hall, the Laughlins, George Wilson, and others. In 1803 John Beatty, of Fayette county, moved into a log cabin about two miles north of the present town of New Salem. About that time two well-known stonemasons, Ned. O'Hara and Michael Rogers, were citizens in Salem township, and in 1802 William Wiley came from Ireland. His wife was a sister of Jacob Diebel, an old citizen of Murrysville, and they bought one hundred acres of land which had formerly been owned by the Brownlees and Crookshanks. In 1800 a log schoolhouse was erected a mile north of New Salem, close to the Freeport road. The teacher for several years was Alexander McMurry. In 1808 John Kline, who was married to Susan Hill, of Franklin township, settled in Salem township. He was an old man and worked at the cooper trade. He had been given permission to spend the remainder of his days on land that was supposed to belong to Fred Ament, but it turned out shortly afterwards that he was living on Matthew Jack's land. On learning this the old cooper was so wrought up that he hanged himself on an apple tree with a silk handkerchief. In 1805 Fred Ament had come from York county and purchased land of William Dixon, about a mile from Salem. There he lived until July 14, 1847. In 1818 John Hutton came from Franklin county and spent the remainder of his days in the township, working mostly as a stonemason. Georg Nunamaker in an early day settled near Congruity. Other early settlers were the Laughlins, Moores, Walthours, Waltons, Saxmans, Knappenbergers, Kissems, Shields, Shaws, Cooks, Steels, Potts, Bairs, Sloans, Frys, Dushanes, Christys, McConnells, Jones, Pauls, Stewarts, Wagoners, Givens, McGearys, Snyders, Kecks, Ralstons, Caldwells, Gordons, McQuaides, Stouts, Adairs, Hornings, Gibsons, Craigs, Keples, Shusters, Kemerers, and Zimmermans.
We have some important recollections of this township from the late Hon. Thomas Bigham, of Pittsburgh, who had made extensive researches in antiquarian history. He was a native of Westmoreland county, and his observations applied not only to Salem township but to other early settlements in Westmoreland county. His father was a original settler, and had located on lands on Beaver run, in Salem township, adjoining Delmont, shortly after Pontiac's war, perhaps about 1766. His parents died when he was an infant, and he was brought up by his grandfather. In speaking of the early settlers and their simple habits, he says that even women were reconciled to the plainest of living and attire. There were no stores in that day in which fashionable goods were kept to tempt the vanity of the young. They had no fashionable places wherein to display anything beautiful if they had possessed it. Their food was of the most healthful character, and invariably prepared by their own hands. Most of their clothing was the product of their own looms, and was homespun and grown upon sheep of their own land. There was scarcely a farm in the community which did not raise flax, and this the women spun and wove into fabric. Tea and coffee could be procured only by packhorse trains by which these luxuries were transported from one to two hundred miles. Their log cabins, he says, if not elegant, were at least healthy. People all met and lived largely as a common class. None were masters and none were servants. Their log cabins were very simple. When a young couple married they frequently went into the woods to open up a new home for themselves, and a cabin of two rooms satisfied their ambitions. As children multiplied they enlarged their home, but in his boyhood days, he says, nearly all the well-to-do farmers had erected substantial frame houses, with parlors, dining rooms, kitchens and the general conveniences of modern civilization. For many years nearly all the goods not raised on the farm were carried from the east by pack-horses on roads which were little less than bridle paths through the woods. The road used mainly was Forbes' road, and afterwards the old state road, and, though both were originally opened as wagon routes, yet in a few years the landslides, falling rocks and heavy fallen trees, rendered them almost impassable for anything save a train of packhorses. One of the chief provisions which people must have and which could not be produced, was salt. A single horse, he says, would carry three or four hundred pounds on a pack-saddle from the east to the west. Money was almost unknown among the early settlers. Everything was, bartered for some other product. Even pack-horse trains carried products from the east and traded it for material which they carried back on their return trip. Neighbors frequently went together and collected a large number of horses, which they loaded with goods and journeyed east. Sometimes this caravan would number as many as one hundred horses, which would pass east in a single file, one man having charge of six or eight horses.
Politics was a subject never discussed then by the people. Nearly all the county officers were appointed by the governor, and no conventions were held then to nominate tickets to the few elective offices. Those who aspired to public office announced their candidacy in the newspapers. The public then met, and, with five or six candidates to choose from, each man voted for whom he pleased. The October election in the early days was held in Hannastown and later at Greensburg. Scarcely ever on-third of the electors voted at a county election. The election for governor would, however, bring out a large vote. When he was a boy, Mr. Bigham says, he attended an October election in Greensburg at which Gregg and Schultz were candidates, and was amazed to find the streets of the town crowded with people. About that time the custom of appointing presidential electors came in vogue, and his grandfather was greatly annoyed with the complicated machinery of an electoral ticket. Everyone knew General Jackson, "Old Hickory," as they loved to call him, and of the battle of New Orleans, but they had not heard of the thirty-two persons who were to be voted for as electors. They had elected Washington, Jefferson, etc., in the old way, why was this not sufficient?
In 1840 a man named Anderson, originally from Greensburg, was taken to the Western Penitentiary, having been convicted of robbery. He had formerly been a schoolmaster, but took to the woods and soon became one of the most noted and daring highwaymen we have ever had in Westmoreland county. It is said that he was extremely supple, and could leap to the boot of a stagecoach and steal articles from it so quickly that it could not be noticed by the driver or those in the coach. Stealing was a mania with him. He stole articles that were of no value to him at all. When taken to prison he became stubborn and unmanageable, refused to eat, and when placed in his cell stopped up all the holes in it, turned on the hydrant, and when rescued was almost drowned. After lingering in this manner for some days, without taking any nourishment, he died. He had a cave in Salem township where he secreted all of his plunder, and kept hidden from the officers of the law. He was at the zenith of his career of robbery and intimidation from 1835 to 1840. He was probably no more, after all, than a kleptomaniac, but terrorized the country for many years until finally captured.
Congruity Presbyterian Church first asked for supply on July 31, 1789, two months after the organization of the General Assembly. On September 20th, 1790, Rev. Samuel Porter and Rev. John McPherrin were ordained ministers in a tent on James McKee's farm, and Porter was installed as pastor of Congruity and Poke Run churches. Congruity Church has raised perhaps a larger number of young men for the ministry than any other in the county. Among others were Rev. Samuel Porter, Jr., W. K. Marshall, Edward R. Geary, Craig McClelland, William Edgar, John Steel, William F. Kean, Lazarus B. Shryock, Samuel P. Bollman, John M. Jones, David L. Dickey and others.
The first pastor, Rev. Samuel Porter, was born in Ireland, June 11, 1760, and was of Covenanter parentage. He came to America in 1783, and spent some time in Mercersburg. In 1784 he went to Washington county, where he taught school. There he came under the notice of some of the renowned men of the Presbyterian Church, and he was induced to enter upon a course of study preparatory to entering the ministry. He studied under James Hughes, John Brice and Joseph Patterson and others. After three years he was licensed by the Red Stone Presbytery on November 12, 1789, and in April of the following year began his work at Congruity and Poke Run. The region embraced by his congregation was little less than a backwoods or frontier settlement at that time. Many of the people were as wild and uncultivated as the country in which they lived, and they were greatly in need of the refining influences of the gospel. It is said that on one occasion when Rev. Porter was preaching in the woods, two young men withdrew from the congregation and ran a foot race in full view of the preacher and his hearers. Under his faithful work the congregation increased very rapidly, and in eight years they felt themselves able to support a pastor alone, so Poke Run was taken from Congruity in 1798. This was due in part to the fact that Mr. Porter did not regard himself as physically able to attend to the wants of both people. Congruity congregation promised him a salary of "one hundred and twenty pounds per year, to be paid one-half in merchantable wheat at five shillings per bushel, and the remainder in cash." To this Mr. Porter agreed, and continued his pastoral relations in that church until his death, September 10, 1825, in all a period of thirty-five years.
While Mr. Porter was pastor there, a new stone tavern was built on the pike, scarcely a mile from the church, and was opened by the owner, a very clever and ingenious landlord, who invited the young folks to have housewarming and dance in his new tavern. Tickets were distributed and guests invited, many of whom were members of Congruity Church. On the Sunday previous to the intended ball, Mr. Porter, after preaching one of his customary eloquent sermons, before dismissing the congregation, said that the Presbytery would meet the following Tuesday in Greensburg, and also said that on Thursday evening at early dandle-light a ball would be held about three-fourths of a mile from that place. He said it was to be hoped that all polite young ladies and gentlemen would attend, for it was a place where politeness and manners could be learned and cultivated, and that many other things could be said in favor of such places which it was not necessary for him to mention at the time. For his own part, if he did not attend, the young folks, he hoped, would excuse him as it was likely he might be detained by the Presbytery, but if he should return in time and nothing else prevented him, he would be present and would open the exercises of the night by reading a text of scripture, singing a psalm, etc. Then, with full and solemn voice and in his most impressive manner, he read the 73rd Psalm, and then offered prayer. He prayed for the thoughtless and gay, and asked the Great Spirit to guard them from the vices which might lead the youthful minds astray, after which, with a most solemn benediction, he dismissed his congregation. The evening set for the ball arrived and passed away, but no ball was held, the whole community having been awakened by the venerable pastor's words. During his last years he was enfeebled and unable to stand, and therefore preached while sitting in a split-bottom chair which stood in the pulpit. He was succeeded by Rev. Samuel McFarren, who preached there for forty-two years with great success. He resigned January 11th. 1870, because of his old age, although the members generally favored his continuance. He died August 4th of the same year. He was succeeded by Rev. W. J. Bollman, who resigned in 1872, and Rev. William B. Craig, of Carlyle Presbytery, followed him.
The Fennell congregation, a Reformed and Lutheran church, is an offspring of the Trinity Reformed congregation of New Salem. In 1858 Rev. R. P. Thomas was engaged to preach to them at concord schoolhouse every two weeks. In 1859 a lot of ground was purchased upon which a church edifice was built, and a graveyard was laid out. The edifice is of frame, and is forty-five by thirty-two feet. It was dedicated February 27, 1860, by Rev. N. P. Hacke. The Lutheran congregation, occupying the same house, was organized in 1859. The first pastor was Rev. A. Yetter, who was succeeded by Rev. V. B. Christy, and they have now a large membership.
The Presbyterian Church in New Salem was organized chiefly from members of the Congruity Church, on Christmas Day, 1849. Rev. James C. Carson, the first pastor, was installed on February 11, 1851. A substantial church edifice was erected about that time. Rev. Carson was succeeded by Rev. David Harbison, who in turn gave way to Rev. J. L. Thompson in 1876. He was born in Washington county, was graduated in the class of '69 of the Washington and Jefferson College, and soon after that entered the ministry. Rev. J. C. Carson, the first pastor, died July 5, 1870. The church building was built by contract by D. W. Shryock, late of Greensburg. It was forty-eight by fifty-six feet, and cost $1,520 and was built in 1850.
The Trinity Reformed Church was organized by members of this denomination, a great many of whom lived around New Salem. They, in connection with the Lutheran Church, organized a congregation and built a church edifice in 1849. The first pastor that served them was Rev. S. h. Giesey. He continued pastor until August 1, 1855, when he was succeeded by Rev. Thomas G. Apple. He was succeeded by Rev. R. P. Thomas in 1858, who in turn gave way to Rev. T. J. Barklay in 1864.
The Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in 1850, with about thirty-three communicants. A temporary church had been built in 1849 and dedicated 1850. In 1868 they built a brick church, which is still standing. The pastors have been Rev. Michael Dyster, C. H. Hurst, A. Yetter, J. D. English, V. B. Christy, J. A. Bauman, J. D. Roth.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of New Salem was organized in 1833. Their first edifice erected that year was a brick structure which fell down in 1844 and was replace by a frame building in 1846. This stood until 1874, when a new one was erected, which has been since torn down and a fourth erected. The pastors have been W. W. Roup, S. B. Slease, M. B. Pugh, A. H. Miller, George Orbin, W. Johnson, J. B. Gray, W. S. Cummins.
For many years the Convenanters had a regular place of worship in this town, with Rev. Mr. Cannon as pastor, preaching the last Sunday of each month. They frequently preached in David Christy's woods, a short distance out of town. This congregation has been abandoned, and its members have largely united themselves with other churches. Salem township has eighteen schools, with 665 pupils enrolled.
The town of New Salem was incorporated as a borough in 1833. Delmont has been the name of the postoffice in this place for the last twenty-five years, and its real name has been almost entirely lost, the town being generally known by the name of its postoffice. Previous to the founding of the town, Hugh Bigham had started a store where the town now stands. Prior to 1833 there were no churches in New Salem, though there were preachers who frequently preached in schoolhouses or at an adjoining grove. The Methodists in reality effected the first organization in the village. It is situated on a tract of land warranted to William Wilson on November 8, 1874. By his will he divided the land between his sons George and Thomas Wilson, from who it was obtained on December 7, 1812. The town was laid out in 1814. Before the Pennsylvania railroad was built New Salem was a very important center, for it was one of the main stopping places of the Northern Pike. Lately the borough has been somewhat awakened by the coal industry, which has opened the thriving town of Export, within two miles of that place, and which has built a railroad from the Pennsylvania railroad to Export, affording an outlet for the people of New Salem and Salem township. When the borough was incorporated in 1833 by the General Assembly the citizens were to meet on the first Tuesday of May of each year at the house of Henry Hugus to hold their annual election. Thomas Wilson was the first judge of the election. The borough has three schools, with 118 pupils enrolled.
SOUTH HUNTINGDON TOWNSHIP
South Huntingdon township was one of the original townships organized April 6, 1773. Its boundaries began at the mouth of Brush run, where it empties into Brush creek; thence along Byerly's path to Braddock's road and along said road to the line of Mt. Pleasant township; and thence by the line of Tyrone and Pittown township; thence to the beginning. The officers at the first election were George Shilling, constable; James Baird and William Marshall, overseers of the poor; David Vance, road supervisor. This township remained as originally laid out until January, 1790, when the court divided it into North and South Huntingdon townships. The original township was then again divided into East and South Huntingdon townships. This was in 1798. The present boundaries of the township are: North by Sewickley; northeast by Hempfield; east by East Huntingdon township; south by Fayette county, and on the west by the Youghiogheny river. The surface of the township is diversified, part of it being hilly and part quite level. It contains vast deposits of bituminous coal, which is now in process of development. The Pittsburgh and Connellsville railroad runs along the Youghiogheny river the entire length of the township, and it affords a splendid outlet for the transportation of coal.
The first settlers in the township were the Millers, Shulls, Finleys, Plumers, Blackburns, Markles, Rodarnels, etc. One of the first settlers was George Plumer, who was born December 5, 1752, and died January 8, 1843. He is said to be the first child born west of the Alleghany mountains. He was once a prisoner for four or five days in Fort Duquesne, having been captured by an Indian chief, Killbuck. Plumer afterward became a member of the state and national legislatures, and served with credit and ability in both positions. He was a ruling elder in the Presbyterian church, and exercised a great influence in the community in which he lived.
One of the oldest Presbyterian Churches in the southwestern part of Pennsylvania was located in this township, and is known as the Sewickley Church. It was one of the original churches of the old Red Stone Presbytery. It is supposed that it was organized as early as 1776, by Rev. Dr. Power, of Mt. Pleasant, who was its first pastor, and remained so until 1787. It then remained vacant for some time, when it was united with Long Run and came under the pastoral charge of Rev. William Swan, in October, 1793. In 1821 this congregation was united with Mt. Pleasant, and Rev. A. O. Patterson was installed and served them until 1834. In April 1836, Sewickley, having been separated from Mt. Pleasant, secured the services of William Anan as their pastor. He was succeeded by Rev. J. B. McKee in 1842, who in turn gave way to Rev. Richard Graham, who continued to minister to them until 1850. In 1852 Rev. Cyrus Riggs was installed, and was succeeded later by Rev. J. H. Stevenson. The original congregation of Sewickley was greatly weakened by a separate organization which was formed in the town of West Newton. The present building is the second one built, and is of stone, the original structure having been of logs. It is situated in South Huntingdon township across the Sewickley creek, and had its name long before the township was formed or named. In a burying ground nearby sleep the remains of four generations of the citizens of this community. Taken all in all it is one of the chief object of historic interest in the township, and around it gather many local associations fraught with great interest to the student. The first building was of logs, which grew around the space where the church stood. For many years it had no stove, and the people of the congregation sat shivering from the cold winds that blew through the open cracks of the church. When they introduced the first stove it was regarded by some of the old-timers with great suspicion. It scarcely was a stove, it was merely the lower part of a stove, the bowl part in which they burned wood, and the smoke was supposed to escape through a hole in the roof. In the history of old Red Stone Church is a subscription paper signed by the members of this congregation, and all money subscribed for the salary of Rev. Mr. Swan. This was when money was scarce and when grain had scarcely a market value. For the consideration of raising one-half of Rev Swan's services as pastor "They agreed to pay the amount set opposite their names, one-half in cash and the other half in produce, at the following rates, viz.: wheat, four shillings per bushel, to be delivered at such place or places within the bounds of the congregation as the said minister, or a treasurer chosen by the people, should appoint. Witness our hands this 17th day of August, 1792." The township has eighteen schools, and 831 pupils enrolled.
In 1837 a petition was signed by various lot holders in the village of West Newton praying the court to incorporate their village into a borough according to an Act of Assembly passed on the first day of April, 1834. This was refused by the court on June 1, 1838. In 1842 the legislature passed an act, a section of which related to West Newton, and read as follows: "That so much f the third section of the Act of the first of April, 1834, entitled 'An Act to provide for the incorporation of boroughs' as requires applications for the incorporation of boroughs to be laid before the Grand Jury be, and the same is, hereby repealed as respects Westmoreland county in the case of the application for the incorporation of West Newton in said County, and the Court of Quarter Sessions of said Court is hereby authorized to incorporate West Newton into a Borough, on application, at their first term if the said Court think proper to do so." After the passage of this act the citizens again asked the court to incorporate them, and on the 26th of February, 1842, the court granted the prayers of the petitioners, and the borough was therefore declared duly incorporated. Judge Thomas White was then on the bench. The first election was held at the school house where the township elections had been held. By an order of the court of September 3, 1853, the privileges of the Act of Assembly of the 3rd of April, 1851, were extended to the borough of West Newton.
The whole valley of the Youghioghney river from McKeesport to Connellsville is one continuous hive of industry. It is filled with towns, villages and hamlets, and manufacturing of almost all kinds is carried on there throughout the entire district. In addition to this, from almost every hill, coal mines, shafts, tipples, etc., may be seen in every direction. Added to these are hundreds of coke ovens which continually send forth their volumes of smoke. This valley is perhaps the busiest in the county.
West Newton is built about half-way between Pittsburgh and Connellsville and about fifteen miles from the mouth of the Youghiogheny river. It is situated on a plane at the southwestern base of a hill which rises high above the floor, a clapboard roof, greased paper windows, and was built in all other ways fertile agricultural region. It is one of the best and wealthiest of the older towns in Westmoreland county. The founders of the town of West Newton were men of high culture and intellect. Prominent among them were the Markles, Plumers and Blackburns. They were generally of Scotch-Irish and Yankee extraction, and at a later period came quite a number of Germans. At present the population is composed in part of foreigners of almost every nationality, this being due to its diversified industries.
The town was laid out in January, 1796, by Isaac Robb, who came from New Jersey and took up the land upon which it is now built. When the army to quell the Whisky Insurrection in 1794 passed through this section they tore down Robb's fences, and this aggravated him so that he refused to put them up again. He thereupon made a lottery and sold off the lots for a town. The survey and plotting were made by two men named Davis and Newkirk. The founder of the town was, therefore, Isaac Robb, who after this became a trader on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, going down with goods as far as New Orleans. In 1807 his boat lay at West Newton, and, when visiting it one night when the river was rising rapidly, he missed his bearings and fell into the water and was drowned, although he was said to be a splendid swimmer. Originally the town had been called West Newton, but, being founded by Mr. Robb, for many years it was universally called Robb's Town in honor of him. But in 1835, when they began to talk of having the village incorporated, the original and proper name was restored to it, and by this name it has since been known. Still farther back, in 1796, the place was known as Simrall's Ferry, which the reader may have noticed in the account of Whisky Insurrection.
Jonathan Plumer came west as a commissary with General Braddock's army in 1755, and filled a like position with Forbes' army in 1758, and was the father of George Plumer, of whom we have spoken as a member of congress (1821-27).
The town of West Newton began to grow about 1806, and from that time until 1820, when the national road was built, there was a great deal of shipping by keel-boats to Pittsburgh. When slack-water dams were introduced in the Youghiogheny river, travel by steamers became quite extensive. The first steamer to come up that far was the "Tom Shriber." The slack-water navigation was abandoned because the dams were swept away by high water, it being difficult to hold them on account of the fall of the river. The Pittsburgh and Connellsville railroad was opened up and passed West Newton in 1855, and this added greatly to the importance of the town.
The fist schoolhouse in West Newton was built before the beginning of the last century, and most likely as early as 1795. Its first teacher was man named Grim, who was succeeded by William Blackburn, Nathaniel Nesbit, William Baldwin and others. It was a house built of round logs, with a clay floor, a clapboard roof, greased paper windows, and was built in all other ways like the school houses of that early period, which have been heretofore described. In 1809 a schoolhouse was built on the farm of John Caruthers, and its first teacher was William Baldwin. A school was taught in the town in 1816 by N. R. Smith. This school was held in a cabin, and when this became too small the school was removed to the building owned by Colonel James B. Oliver. In 1820 the first brick schoolhouse in the town was built. It was an eight-cornered structure, and when finished was the finest schoolhouse in the county. Its first teacher was N. R. Smith, who afterward became principal of the Greensburg Academy. Among the other teachers in this school house was Edgar Cowan, who afterward became a United States senator from Pennsylvania. The building is still standing, and is preserved as one of the heirlooms of a former generation to the present town of West Newton. It is still used as a school building, and the picture given in this work is a true representation of it. In 1850, this being found too small, another brick building was provided on Third street, and used for schools for fifteen years. In 1865 the first ward building was erected. In 1884 more room was demanded, and another fine building was erected, now known as the Second Ward School. In the sixties Rev. O. H. Miller conducted a select school, and soon thereafter George Richey organized an academy, which succeeded well for several years. In 1894 Reverends Drs. Eaton, Meloy and Garvin opened the West Newton Academy as a college preparatory, and normal school.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized with eleven members on the 28th day of February, 1839, by the late venerable Rev. Dr. Samuel Wakefield. This society built a small brick church on Second street, where they worshipped for nearly forty years. In 1880 they erected their present beautiful edifice. For a more extended sketch of Dr. Wakefield, see chapter on general church history.
The Lutheran Church was the first to form a society in West Newton. It was organized by Rev. Jonas Mechling in January, 1830. For several years they held services in the eight-cornered schoolhouse built in 1820. In 1835, as we have said, they joined with the Presbyterians in erecting the building of which we have spoken. This was used by both societies for seventeen years, at which time (1852) they sold their interest to the Presbyterians. They accordingly built an edifice immediately afterward which they occupied until 1899, when they erected their present commodious structure.
Previous to 1835 the Presbyterians of West Newton worshipped at Sewickley Church about three miles distant. In that year they united with the Lutherans, and the two congregations erected a two-story frame building on vine street, the Lutherans owning the on-fourth of it, and to be used by both churches. On January 8, 1851, a regular church was organized in West Newton, most of whose members came from Sewickley church. The same year they purchased the interest of the Lutherans in the partnership building, and in 1875 a new building was begun which was dedicated May 10, 1879. It is a neat Gothic style edifice costing about $22,000. They organized a Sunday school over eighty years ago, and both it and the church in general are in a most flourishing condition.
Bethel Church of God was formed in West Newton in 1845, and in 1852 a small brick church was built near the present one, which was erected in 1879 and improved in 1884. "That the pastor may be free from worldly cares and avocations," Mrs. E. Mellender erected and gave to the society a comfortable parsonage. Among those who have been pillars for a long time in this church are the names of Obley and Schoaf.
In 1850 the United Presbyterians organized a church with forty-five members, and the same year erected a building on Vine street, afterwards used by the Baptist people. In 1883 they erected their present church on Main street, costing $20,000. The Roman Catholic Church was organized in 1884, and a year later was erected a $3,000 church on Second street. The last church to o4rganized here was the Baptist Church in May, 1885. Formerly they worshipped at New Salem. In 1896 they built a church, and in 1905 completed one of a larger and more modern style.
The chief industry of this borough is the United States Radiator and Boiler Company. It was first established at Saltsburg, but in a few years removed to West Newton, in 1895. It first occupied the present site of the stove works, but in 1889 bought the old building of the paper factory, to which have been added several modern structures. Their product is radiators and hot-water plants. They employ as high as three hundred and sixty men, and do a thriving business, selling their goods in almost every part of the Union. The Standard Stove and Range Works of Pittsburgh own a good-sized plant at this point, and employ from fifty to seventy-five men. The Roller Flouring Mills of West Newton do a large business, as does the one in "West Side" of the town across the river. The railways of the borough are the Baltimore & Ohio, the Pennsylvania, and the Lake Erie railways. The banking business is in the hands of the Farmers and Merchants' and the First National Banks. West Newton has one good weekly paper, the Times. A first class planning mill does a large business in the borough.
The largest industry West Newton has ever possessed was the paper mill built in 1859 by S. B. and General C. P. Markle, though the business had been established in 1808. Here paper was produced with rags until 1865, when straw pulp was employed, and later wood pulp. In 1880 a structure 329 by 534 feet was built, with the largest and most complete set of modern machinery found in Pennsylvania. The company met with loss by three great fires, but rebuilt at once, and continued until General Markle died, when the plant passed into the hands of a Mr. Parsons of New York, who carried on the business until 1893, when the machinery was moved to New England on account of the increasing amount of sulphur found in the formerly pure water. This was caused from the coal land being worked. Nothing but the purest of water will admit of good paper making, hence the plant was removed.
The old bridge which spans the river at this place is an old fashioned wooden structure built by a company incorporated in 1831 by Alexander Plumer, J. C. Plumer, James Bell, Jacob Baughman, Frederick Steiner, Andrew Smith, Joseph Stokely and William Linn. Its original cost was $18,000 of which the state paid $8,000 and the citizens $10,000. Some years after its construction the sheriff of the county was directed to sell the state's interest at auction. As no one outside seemed to take any interest in the matter, the enterprising stockholders bought up the shares, which were worth about fifty dollars at the time, for from five to seven dollars each. About 1890 the county bought out the company and made it a free bridge.
EAST HUNTINGDON TOWNSHIP
East Huntingdon township was formed by a division of the original Huntingdon township, and was taken from South Huntingdon township in 1798. Efforts had been made to have this township formed in 1794. It is bounded on the north by Hempfield township; on the east by Mt. Pleasant township;, on the north by Hempfield township; on the east by Mt. Pleasant township; on the south by Fayette county, and on the west by South Huntingdon township. The township is almost entirely underlaid with a rich and productive seam of bituminous coal.
The first settlers in the township were Scotch-Irish who came from the eastern part of Pennsylvania. Among them were John Vance, a magistrate for many years; William and Franklin Vance, and the Fosters, Barrs, Cochrans, McClains and McCormicks. After these first settlers, that is about 1800, came many Germans belonging to the Mennonite church, who also came from the eastern part of the state. They were th4rifty farmers and brought with them good supplies of live stock and farming implements. They purchased much of the land that had formerly been owned by the Scotch-Irish pioneers, and opened up many new tracts which had not yet been purchased from the state. These settled largely between Stonerville and the Fayette county line. It is estimated that the members of this one denomination owned twenty-five thousand acres of land near and surrounding Stonerville. Among their leading men were such names as Overholt, Funk, Stauffer, Welty, Dillinger, Strohm, Ruth, Shupe, Sherrick, Loucks, Mumaw, Stoner, Fretts, Fox, etc., many of whose descendants are yet residents of this community. The Lutheran and Reformed settlers were located mostly in the northwestern part of the township. Among them were Mark Leighty, Henry Lowe, Henry Null, Joseph Suter, Nicholas Swope, and also the Altmans, Klines, Harbaugsh, Ruffs, Snyders, Hunkers, etc.
One of the oldest families in the township is the Stauffer family, and it has given its name to Stauffer's run, a stream which flows from near Stonerville and empties into Jacob's creek near Scottdale. He died July 9, 1851.
Another early family were the Sterretts, who resided near Scottdale. They were related to Daniel Boone, the first settler of Kentucky. Boone once came to this region and passed several days visiting his relatives, the Sterretts, in their cabin home in the southwestern part of the county.
The early schools of this township were similar to those of all other localities in the county. One of the first schoolhouses was built in 1802, on the Gaut farm, and the school was taught by a German named Leighty. Other early teachers were John Selby and Peter Showalter. The township took early action with regard to the free school system. They held an election at the house of Peter Pool, on September 19, 1834, at which they elected Jacob Tinsman, Jacob Overholt, Solomon Luter, Peter Pool, Gasper Tarr and Henry Fretts as directors. These directors met at the house of Christian Fox, On October 6, 1834. After they had organized they appointed Jacob Tinsman as a delegate to meet other delegates in Greensburg on the first Tuesday of November in order that a general system of education might be established in the county. A vote of the citizens was taken at the house of Peter Pool, on May, 21, 1836, to decide whether school tax should be levied or not, seventy-four of them voting against tax, and two voting for tax. Nevertheless, the schools were kept open from 1834 until 1837, and directors were elected each year. Another election was then ordered to determine whether the schools should be continued or not. This election was also held at the house of Peter Pool, on the first Tuesday of May, 1837, at which fifty-six voted for no schools and thirty-four voted for schools, but the laws required that in order to defeat the system a majority of the citizens in the district must vote against it, and fifty-six not being by any means a majority of all in the district, the system was adopted by a minority vote. Shortly after this the school directors divided the township into districts and began to erect school houses, and the township has since advanced to one of the leading townships in the county in education matters.
The Lutheran and Zion's Reformed Church is located about four miles southwest of Mt. Pleasant, and was organized in 1789, but it kept no records that are accessible prior to 1822. The first structure was a log house, and a brick house on the opposite side of the road was built on land of Jacob Leighty in 1862. It has since been improved, and is even yet a comfortable building. This church was organized by Rev. John William Weber. They were afterwards ministered to by Revs. Weinel, Voight, Keafauver, S. K. Levan, C. C. Russell, J. A. Peters, A. J. Heller, D. P. Lady and others. Rev. Weinel took charge in 1817, and continued pastor until 1825. They were often preached to also by Rev. N. P. Hacke, of Greensburg.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1817, in a log structure erected the same year, and it was the only meeting house of this denomination in all that section of the country. The present brick structure was built during the Civil war, on the site of the old church, and is near Scottdale.
The Presbyterian Church at Scottdale was organized in 1874 by Rev. John McMillan. The Trinity Reformed Church was organized July 20, 1873, by Rev. J. B. Leasure. The United Brethren Church was organized in 1874, when they built a neat frame structure, which has since been razed to the ground and supplanted by a very beautiful edifice with a parsonage under the same roof. The Baptist Church of Scottdale was organized april 17, 1875, with Rev. T. Hugus as pastor. The United Presbyterian Church was the first church organized in the new town of Scottdale.
In the town of Stonerville the Mennonites and the Church of God have each old places of worship, and although they have not held their own with other churches in members they are, nevertheless, a most respectable and religious element in the community.
This township has thirty-two schools, with an enrollment of 1916 pupils.
The town of Scottdale owes its existence to the building of the South-West Pennsylvania railroad, in 1873. At that time the site of the present borough was productive farm land. The town was laid out by the late Peter S. Loucks and Jacob S. Loucks, and their sister Catharine. The place was name in honor of Colonel Thomas A. Scott, one of the early presidents of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. The projectors of the town evidently did not expect it to grow and flourish as it has done, for Peter S. Loucks laid out by fourteen lots, and his brother Jacob but ten. The first lots were sold in the fall of 1872 at about one hundred and fifty dollars each, and were seventy-two by one hundred fifty feet. Originally there was a flouring mill and a distillery located at this place at which time it was known as Fountain Mills.
The present population of Scottdale borough is fairly estimated at 6,000 and with the surrounding community, this would probably be increased to 10,000. The newspapers of the borough are the Scottdale News, Scottdale Independent and the Observer. The first paper in Scottdale was the Tribune, founded by I. N. Newcomer, January, 1880.
The first school building in the borough was a one-roomed brick house, which was built by the directors of East Huntingdon township in 1860, and used by them for school purposes until the borough was incorporated. The rapid growth of the town required more school room, and the contract was let March 8, 1878, for a four-roomed brick building, the contract price being $5,200. In the summer of 1889 a contract was let for a ten-roomed brick school building, which still is occupied. In May, 1896, a contract was let for an eight-roomed building to stand on the school lot at the head of Pittsburgh street. This cost $14,000.
Scottdale became an incorporated borough, February, 1874. The postoffice of Fountain Mills was located here, and this was the grain market for a large territory for many years. The banking business of the borough at present is represented by the Broadway National Bank, First National Bank, Scottdale Savings and Trust Company, and the Scottdale Bank.
Concerning the iron industry it may be said that among the large plants of the place is the Cast Iron Pipe Works, which is claimed to be the largest in America. They are a part of the American Tubing Company, hence no detailed account can be obtained from their local manager.
The Tin Plate Works of the American Sheet and Tine Plate Company, which operates at a number of points in Westmoreland county, have a large plant at Scottdale. It is at present equipped with nine sheet mills, and has an annual production capacity of twenty-five thousand gross tons. The number of men employed in these works is four hundred.
The Pocket Knife Factory is another important industry. What was known as the F. A. Black Company was incorporated November 22, 1904, with $100,000 capital. The officers are: F. A. Black, president; A. B. Loucks, vice-president; J. R. Loucks, secretary and treasurer. This concern occupies a brick building having twenty thousand square feet of floor surface. One hundred persons are employed in the various departments.
The Scottdale Foundry and Machine Company is an extensive factory. It was established in 1880 by Hill & Kenney as a foundry and machine shop, employing about twenty-five men, and did a business of forty thousand dollars per annun. In 1884 Mr. Hill withdrew and A. K. Stauffer was taken as a partner, the firm being known as Kenny & Company. The works were greatly enlarged, and they engaged in building steam engines. In 1890 they were doing an annual business of $125,000. In 1891 the plant was destroyed by fire, and at once a new stock company was formed with A. K. Stauffer as president; E. L. Rutherford, vice-president and secretary; Walter L. Stauffer, treasurer. Among the other directors are E. A. Humphrey, Worth Kilpatrick, Robert Skemp, B. F. Stauft, John Dick and J. R. Smith.
A large brass foundry, with which W. F. Stauffer is connected, in one of the latest industries of the place.
The United States Casket Company, chartered 1904, with $100,000 capital, began operations January, 1905. The plant is operated by electric power. Twenty-seven men are employed, making twenty caskets per day, or about seven thousand annually. These goods are sold to undertakers direct in Western Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio. They make only wooden and copper-lined caskets, with trimmings for the same. The officers of this company are: Albert H. Kelley, president; Wesley Kelley, first vice-president; John Marshall, second vice-president; William Ferguson, superintendent. Other industrial plants of the borough are the Litho-Marble Works, and planing and flouring mills. The borough has a good system of waterworks, electric and gas plants, constructed about 1889.
The Peterson Business College was established in 1903 by P. O. Peterson. The first class, numbering forty-five, was graduated June, 1904.
The First Presbyterian Church of Scottdale was organized May 15, 1874. Their present beautiful cream-colored pressed brick church edifice was dedicated in 1898. The Baptist church was organized by Rev. David Williams, April 17, 1875, with thirteen members. They dedicated their first church in 1876, and remodeled it in the autumn of 1893. In 1884 the Scottdale Methodist Episcopal Church was organized with one hundred and fifty members. At a cost of $42,000 in 1891, they dedicated a church which is one of the finest edifices in Westmoreland county. It stands on the site of the old building, and is provided with a fine toned pipe organ. The present membership is about seven hundred. Rev. C. L. E. Cartwright has been the pastor for the past six years. The United Brethren's present church was erected in 1889, and has one of the three pipe organs of the borough. This building is a massive modern red brick structure. This church was organized in 1870. The First Episcopal Church met in 1892 in a church building on the Fayette side of the creek. One of the projectors of the church was Major Knapp. The first regular rector was J. H. Hargrave. The Unite Presbyterian Church was organized in connection with the branch at Mt. Pleasant, in 1873. In 1882 they erected a building on Mulberry street. The Mennonite congregation at this point is part of the once numerous body that worshipped at Alverton and Pennsville, and was organized here in 1893. They used the German language almost exclusively in their worship until the last twenty-five years. The Trinity Reformed Church of Scottdale was organized July, 1873. The cornerstone of the church was laid November 9, 1873, by Rev. J. M. Feitzell. The first pastor was Rev. L. B. Leasure. This congregation is among the most flourishing of the borough. The other denominations here represented are the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Protestant Episcopal, Christian, African Methodist Episcopal, and Polish Catholic.
The borough of Scottdale has nineteen schools, with an enrollment of 940 pupils.
Source: Pages 561-578, History of Westmoreland County, Volume 1, Pennsylvania by John N. Boucher, New York, the Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed August 2000 by Marcia J. Shaffer for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed by Marcia J. Shaffer for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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