History of Westmoreland County
Volume 1
Chapter 43

Allegheny Township-Vandergrift-Vandergrift Heights-Ligonier Township-Ligonier Borough

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Allegheny Township was organized in 1796, and received its name from the river which formed its northwestern boundary. Its first officers were Ezekiel Matthews and John Leslie, who were road supervisors, while Thomas Reed was its first constable. The northern part of the township is underlaid with the Pittsburgh seam of coal, and also with the upper and lower Freeport seams. The whole of the township is particularly well suited for agricultural purposes. The soil is naturally fertile and is susceptible to a high state of cultivation. It is dotted over with fine residences and well kept farms. The village of Lucesco is at the northern point of the county, and at the confluence of the Kiskiminetas and Allegheny Rivers. The Allegheny Valley and the West Pennsylvania railroads also pass at this place, the former running along the northwestern and the latter along the eastern boundaries of the township. These afford abundant means of transportation for both its coal products and its inhabitants.

Among the original settlers were the Stewarts, who came in 1790, the Leechburgs in 1791; William and John Watts in 1801; then came the Dimmits, Zimmermans, Hills, Cochrans, Hawks, all between that and 1800. The Bakers, Butlers, Alters, Wilsons, Lauffers, Longs, Trouts, Jacksons, McClellands, Garrots, Dodds, McKees, Copelands, Lynches, Armstrongs, Ashbaughs, Townsends, Steels, and McElroys all came before 1828. William Watt was born near Chambersburg in 1781, and died March 5, 1855. This township from its northern location bordering on the two rivers, which divided the Indian country from that which was being rapidly settled about the time of the Revolutionary War, was peculiarly subjected to the outrages of the Indians north of the river. It was near here that Massy Harbison lived, and from her home was taken a prisoner and most brutally treated by the Indians. We have not thought it proper to include her story in this work for the reason that when captured she lived across the border-line.

The common schools were in rather a deplorable condition in Allegheny Township in 1834, when the first school law was enacted. There were but few districts, and the houses were all built of logs with only rude slabs for seats, scarcely any of which had backs to support the pupils. All other appliances of the school and houses compared with this, but the schools even then were large, often numbering over one hundred pupils. Like all pioneer schools, a rigid discipline was enforced by free use of the rod. Until the teacher treated the scholars with the approach of the holiday season, he was generally held in low esteem by the pupils. Female teachers were not employed until after 1834; in fact, a girl teacher anywhere in the county prior to that time was scarcely thought of. The early teachers had little or no system of education, yet many of the pupils became good spellers, and frequently in these rude schools a pupil laid the foundation upon which was afterwards built a thorough education. Among the prominent teachers of that day were Samuel Owens, Luther Bills, George Crawford, Robert Jeffrey, Samuel McConnell, and Wilson Sproull. If a young man desired to teach school he would first apply to a member of the committee, and if his appearance warranted and examination he was referred to some learned man in the community, who, after asking him a few simple questions, generally pronounced him qualified to teach, and he entered at once upon his duties. The wages paid a teacher were rarely ever less than ten dollars per month, and perhaps never over twenty dollars. Among the leading men of the township who took a great interest in education as citizens were James Fitzgerald, George Bovard, John Artman and others. They labored hard to advance the cause of education, and yet there were many who labored with equal zeal in opposition to the common school system about the time of its adoption. The mode of teaching advanced slowly. Such a gathering as a Teachers' Institute was never dreamed of, and the directors at first refused to allow the school houses to be used for that purpose. In 1844 a public debating society was held in what was then called Crawford's schoolhouse, and considerable interest was manifested in it. In 1851 an academy, or select school, was started at Lober's schoolhouse, or rather, where Lober's schoolhouse now stands. The teachers were A.S. Thomas and David McKee. They were an improvement over the average teacher, and accomplished much good in the township. The text-books of that day were the Bible, a spelling book, and the "Western Calculator."

The Pine Run Presbyterian Church was organized by the renowned Dr. David Kirkpatrick and a man named Bristol. At first it had about fifty-five members and four elders, and was reported to the Presbytery in 1847. For some time it was supplied by Rev. Andrew McElwain until 1851, when Rev S.T. Leason became its pastor for half the time. He remained with them until January, 1855. After this for two years it depended on supplies, and in 1857 Rev. Robert McMillan, a grandson of the renowned Dr. McMillan, the patriarch of Presbyterianism in Western Pennsylvania, became its pastor for half the time. He was a most humble, energetic and upright man, and labored with great success in the community until 1864, when his resignation was accepted on account of his failing health. He was followed by Rev. John Orr, who proved a worthy successor to Rev. McMillan, and remained with them until 1872. The United Presbyterian Church is situated about one-fourth of a mile from the junction of the Kiskiminetas and Allegheny Rivers, and was founded about 1873. The Reformed congregation was organized in 1832, at Brookland Church. The first building was a log one, but this was replaced by a brick structure in 1856. Rev. Hugh Walkinshaw was its first pastor, serving from 1832 until 1843. He was succeeded by Rev. Oliver Wylie, and after him came Rev. Robert Reid.

This township has fifteen schools, with 470 pupils enrolled.


That highclass trade journal, the Iron Age, in 1901 styled Vandergrift "The Working Man's Paradise." Aside from Pullman, Illinois, Bandergrift is one of the most strikingly unique places on the American map. It is thirty-eight miles from Pittsburgh, up the Allegheny and Kiskimenetas Rivers, on the West Pennsylvania railroad, and was plotted on a four hundred acre tract of farm land purchased by the Apollo Iron and Steel Company several years prior to its being plotted. Captain J.J. Vandergrift, a heavy stockholder in the Apollo Company, and a resident of Pittsburgh, was at the head of this gigantic enterprise, and from him the place derived its name. What is known as the Vandergrift Land and Improvement Company was formed with George G. McMurtry as its president. The platting of a town site with the iron industry back of it, and the point at which the Apollo Company had determined upon as being the future home for their immense works, second to none in the country, was executed in 1895-6. The plan of the place was carefully made (after an extensive tour of inspection by those interested through the great factory districts of Europe) by Frederick Law Olmsted, who was the architect and landscape gardener of the great World's Fair at Chicago. The streets and blocks are circular in form, no streets or avenues crossing at right angles, but on a gentle curve. The town stands on a charming table-land, while its adjunct borough, Vandergrift Heights, occupies the hillside. It was platted, its streets paved with brick of the most lasting grade, its sewerage and water pipes all laid, grades all established and worked, before a single lot was sold. When the work had been completed the Land Company announced, "We are ready to sell lots. We have waited until the place is ready. Now you can judge situations and buy intelligently, and the town will be ready to live in as soon as you are ready to live there. You can build at once-the sooner the better."

The steel works opened for operation in September, 1896. May 8th, the same year, at the public sale of lots, 276 were sold at not less than twenty-five cents per square foot for business lots. The total sales amounted to $275,013. The place was incorporated as a borough in 1896. The burgesses have been: H.W. Nichols, who served eight days; Oscar Lindquist, serving two years; Joseph Dougherty, serving but two weeks. George A. Hunger was appointed and served about three years, was then elected and is still in office. A postoffice was established in 1896, with H.W. Nichols as postmaster. He was succeeded by H.W. Hamilton, the present postmaster. The first building erected on the plot, aside from the original farm houses, was the warehouse of George A. Hunger, which he still occupies. He commenced work on it May 13, 1896. The borough is provided with excellent water coming from artesian wells along the adjacent hillsides. It is furnished by a private water company, as is also gas and electric light.

The first term of school taught here was by Professor Clarke. The first school house was erected in 1896, costing $20,000. It now has two first-class buildings in Vandergrift proper, while at "the Heights" there are two others.

The Lutherans were the first in the field in way of church organization. They dedicated a building in 1897. Then came these: Methodist, Episcopal, dedicated in 1897; Presbyterian, United Presbyterian, Reformed, Catholic, and Baptist, dedicated April 1905. The following shows the churches worshipping in Vandergrift in 1905: Methodist Episcopal, Grafton T. Reynolds, D.D., pastor; Episcopal Mission, Rev. Thomas Lloyd, rector; Presbyterian, Rev. H.R. Johnson, pastor; Free Methodist, Rev. C.L. Wright, pastor; St. Paul's Lutheran (Vandergrift Heights) Rev. George Beiswanger, pastor; First Reformed, Rev. D. Snider Stephan, pastor; First United Presbyterian, Rev. Curtis R. Stevenson, pastor; First Baptist, Rev. Alexander Wilding, pastor; Free Methodist (Vandergrift Heights) Rev. C.L. Wright, pastor.

It should here be recorded and placed to the credit of the sometimes called "soulless corporations" that the Land Company made good their proposition on opening up the town, that they would donate a lot and give one half the cost of the first churches erected if none so erected should cost less than $15,000. Hence, at the beginning, Vandergrift church architecture set the pace for fine edifices, several of which in point of magnificence and cost are not surpassed, if indeed equaled in the entire county. Another exceptional feature of their splendid buildings is the fact that each has provided itself with an up-to-date pipe organ.

Nearly every civic and fraternal society, order and lodge extant is here represented by strong organizations. The only newspaper of the borough is the Citizen, a strictly non-partisan paper, published each Saturday by E.H. Welsh, editor.

The Casino, a grand structure used for playhouse and general public assembly purposes, stands in a most commanding position, and was erected in 1891 at a cost of $32,000, of which sum $14,000 was given by the Steel Plant Company in way of stock purchased, and the remainder by other local men. It contains a library of three thousand volumes, and is the pride of every citizen of the place.

The banking business thus far has been conducted by one concern-the Vandergrift Savings and Trust Company-with a working capital of $130,000. The Commercial College of the borough is an excellent training school for those expecting to enter business pursuits. The population of Vandergrift proper in 1905 was about 4,000, while the combined population of Vandergrift and adjuncts is about 8,000.

But we have yet to speak of the life-giving force of the borough-the business element, without which this splendid array of phenomenal growth and success would be impossible-the great steel plant of the American Sheet and Tin Plate Company, the extensive works of which cover many acres of ground and whose furnace fires never go out, yet no work is performed on the Sabbath. This may truly be called one of America's model manufacturing plants, wherein reigns the element of sobriety, intelligence and wonderful business thrift. The records given by the corporation itself shows the following: It is the largest plant of its kind in the world. The average age of its great force of workmen is thirty-two years. It is strictly a "Free non-union" concern, where "union rules" are never tolerated. It became a part of the American Sheet Steel Company, May, 1900, and June 1, 1904, merged into the American Sheet and Tin Plate Company. At this point the company now has nine open hearth furnaces, one continuous blooming and bar mill; twenty nine sheet mills and twenty galvanizing pots. The annual product capacity is about 145 gross tons of finished sheets. The number of men employed, as per pay roll, is 2,200. At the Hyde Park plant of this company the equipment consists of five sheet mills, with an annual product capacity of $15,500 gross tons. The number of men employed is two hundred. Every known safeguard is provided for the workmen, and the most rigid sanitary rules are enforced. The spacious grounds remind the passerby of a beautifully cared for college campus, for the hillside, sloping up from the shops toward the town proper, is a perfect lawn and flower garden, upon which the toiling workingmen may ever and anon glance and enjoy. It has fifteen schools, with 596 pupils enrolled.


A separate borough from Vandergrift proper was platted on the hillside to the south from the latter place, soon after the steel company established Vandergrift. It was incorporated as a borough December 8, 1897. The chief object was to afford workingmen cheaper building sites and locations where lot owners might make their own improvements as they felt able; hence this portion, usually called the "Heights," does not show the up-to-date improvements found on every hand in the original town. The Heights are situated about one mile distant, and intervening is a beautiful level plateau which is designed for building the two places together when the increase of population requires it. At Vandergrift Heights there are two churches-the Free Methodist, a frame building, and the Lutheran, a brick structure; the latter has a pipe organ and a good parsonage.

In 1898 the first school was taught on the plat after the town had been laid out, in a frame schoolhouse owned by the country district before the existence of the village; to this was built an addition equal in size to the original structure. This, with a modern brick schoolhouse erected in 1891, gives a total of ten school rooms in the borough. The general business of the place consists in the retail trade to its inhabitants, many of whom find employment in the shops and various works at Vandergrift. It has ten schools, with 512 pupils enrolled.


As the reader has seen in the former part of the work, no name in the early history of Westmoreland is more prominent than that of Ligonier. It was originally the name of the fort built under the direction of Henry Bouquet, but really by Captain Burd, and was named after Sir John Ligonier, a great English general in European wars. Since then the town, which was founded in 1817, has taken the name of the fort, and the name of Ligonier has also been given to the valley lying between the Chestnut Ridge and Laurel Hill.

The township of Ligonier was erected in 1822. That part of the township which lies close to the ridge or mountain is hilly and is of little value for agricultural purposes. For the last thirty years it has yielded a great deal of lumber, and lately stone quarries have been opened both on the mountain and ridge, from which have been taken a great deal of valuable material. The interior of the valley is richer in agricultural wealth, and its diversified surface is well adapted to grazing and the production of all kinds of grain and vegetables. There are many streams, which in the southern part flow into the Loyalhanna, and in the northern part flow into the Conemaugh River. The northern part of the valley is underlaid with the Pittsburgh seam of coal, which has a thickness of from six to eight feet, and the upper and lower Freeport veins underlie most of the valley. The Loyalhanna is a stream of great beauty, and around it cluster many historical incidents. Its praises have been sung by many writers, and the story of our western border can not be told without its frequent mention. Its first considerable tributary is the California Furnace run, which flows into it about three miles south of Ligonier. Its second is the Washington Furnace, or Laughlinstown run, which flows into the Loyalhanna about two miles south of Ligonier. Northwest of Ligonier are Mill creek, Two Mile run, Four Mile run, and west of Youngstown it receives the Nine and Fourteen Mile runs. These streams appear on the earliest maps, and were probably named by General Forbes' army in 1758. Each one is designated by the estimated number of miles it is distant from Fort Ligonier; thus the Two Mile run enters the Loyalhanna about two miles from the fort, and the Four Mile run about four miles from the fort, etc. A large majority of the early settlers in this valley located along these streams. The name Loyalhanna, according to the best authority, is derived from an Indian work-La-el-han-neck, and means Middle creek. If this derivation be correct, it probably took its name from its location between the Youghioneny and the Conemaugh rivers. It was known to the French and Indians by this name before the arrival of Forbes' army.

Fort Ligonier was partly built in 1758, as a temporary protection against the Indians, and against the French and Indians should they come from Fort Duquesne and attack the army at that place. This was done, as has been seen in the earlier part of this work, the battle being fought October 12, 1758, at Ligonier. General Forbes arrived in Ligonier on the 6th of November, 1758, and Washington had arrived about the first. The army, as we have seen, then moved on to Fort Duquesne (now Fort Pitt) and a line of communication with Bedford and Carlisle had to be kept open. Those who remained at Fort Ligonier were attacked with a strange fatality that winter, and the greater number of them died. For a time there had been nearly seven thousand men, with hundreds of horses and cattle, at the fort, and it was claimed that the water was infected, even covered with a scum, it is said. Their death was probably due to this and to the want of proper food.

All traces of the fort are long since obliterated, though they were visible in 1842, as a writer from Somerset indicates in a letter to his home paper. Many implements used in the fort have been dug up on the ground where it stood. Mr. Cyrus T. Long made a survey from the original draft in the British war office, and was able to locate it exactly.

The following letter written by Colonel Henry Bouquet to Captain James Burd relative to the Ligonier encampment is taken from the original in the possession of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Bouquet, it will be remembered, was a Swiss by birth, and was not thoroughly at home in the use of the English language: "Locus," to be cut for the horses, has puzzled Philadelphia antiquarians a great deal. He probably meant a "place," and, not knowing the English word, used the Latin, which is "locus."

Sir: You are to march from Reastown Camp the 23, Aug. with the R.A.R. Fifth Highlander Battlie, 5 companies. Your own Battlie, One division of artillery, Intrenching tools, wagons, loaded with provisions. You are to proceed to Loyal Hannon, leaving your wagons where the road is not open with orders to join you with all possible expedition. When the three days' provisions taken by your men are consumed (they are served for the 25th inclusive) you will take provisions out of the wagons of your convoy, and make them carry part of the other wagons load. The horses are to be tyed every night upon the mountain as they would otherwise be lost. Locus is to be cut for them. They could perhaps be left loose at Edmund's swamp and Kickney Pawlins.
Lieut. Chew with a party are to be detached from the top of the Allegheny to reconnoiter in a straight line the ground between that place and the Gap of Lawrell Hill-he is to cross that gap-observing the course of the water and the path, and is to join the detachment at L.H.
All the detachments of the R.A.R. those of the 5 companys of Highlanders and your own battalion are to march with you to Loyal H. with 3 or 4 days provisions for the whold. Col. Stephens is to march with and his six companies. At the place where you leave the Artillery and wagons, your men are to carry the tools themselves, packing on the horses the saws, grindstones, etc. You are to employ all the pack horses of the first Battlie and those that you may find on the road to carry your provisions until the wagons come to you and load the 5 barrels of cartridges. Drive also some bullocks. As soon as you arrive at L.H. Mr. Basur is to lay out your encampment at the place assigned by Mr. Rhor with two small redoubts at 200 yards; all hands are then to be employed in entrenching the camp. Those who have no tools will pitch the tents, cook,-- and the rest can relieve one another in the work. Before night the ground must be reconnoitred, and your advance guards posted. The centrys are to relieve every hour in the night, without noise. No drum is to be beat as long as you judge that the post has not been reconnoitred by the enemy. Suffer (in the beginning chiefly) no hunters or stragglers, to prevent their being taken-no gun to be fired. A store house of 120 feet long and at the least 25 feet wide is to be built immediately to lodge your provisions and ammunitions in the place where the fort is to be erected and covered with shingles.

All the artificers are to be put to work-the sawyers and shingle makers with the smiths first-an hospital is to be built near the fort, and ovens. Mr. Rohr is to give directions for the fort. If there is any possibility of making hay, no time is to be lost and the clear grounds are to be kept for that use, and not serve for pasture. Send proper people to reconnoiter where sea coal could be got-if there is none, charcoal must be made. The houses of the officers to be kept clean. The ammunition and arms carefully inspected, the arms loaded with a running ball. Tools to be delivered to each party upon receipt of their commanding officer, who is to see them returned to the trenches before night. The entrenchment is to be divided by tasks, and all the officers are to inspect the works. If you send any party forward, do not permit them to take scalps, which serves only to make the enemy more vigilant. No party is to be sent until you hear from Major Armstrong and Captain Shelby. It would perhaps be proper to change every day the place of your advanced posts. Secure all avenues. If any difficulty should occur to you, consult Major Grant whose experience and perfect knowledge of the service you may rely on.
I give the above instructions by way of memorandum, and you are at liberty to make any alterations that your judgment and circumstances may direct. Let me hear from you every two days. You know that some of the provincial officers are not vigilant upon guard. Warn them every day. They could ruin all our affairs. Keep a journal of your proceedings.
I am, Sir, your most Obt. Servant,
Henry Bouquet

The Old State Road, coming from Somerset County into Westmoreland, crossed the line of the present Greensburg and Stoystown turnpike from the northern side, on the eastern slope of Laurel Hill, and came over the crest of the mountain at its highest point south of the turnpike. It then came down the mountain through Laughlinstown, and crossed the Loyalhahha, below the Moore brick house. The stones used in the abutments of the bridge can still be seen in the stream at Mr. Frank Shafer's fields. It then went slantingly up the hill sough of the Shook farm house and crossed the line of road leading from Ligonier to Donegal at the Albright farm house, about one mile south of Ligonier. Most of the road between the Loyalhanna and the Donegal road is yet in use. From the main road it passed over the bluff to the present farm house of A.M. Karns. This part of the road was vacated some years ago, but its route can easily be seen in the fields. About midway between the Albright and Karns residences, Colonel John Ramsey built a large frame house, which was used as a tavern stand in the early part of last century. In 1833 it and the farm surrounding it was sold by William Ross to David Boucher. The State road then led up towards Winthrow's, after which it joined the Forbes road and passed over Chestnut Ridge towards Youngstown and Greensburg. This was the route over which the trains of heavily laden pack-horses plodded their weary way. It was in those days the main route between the East and the West, and remained without a rival till the building of the present turnpike in 1817. It was then that John Ramsey laid out the town of Ligonier.

The building of the state road, the turnpike, with its stage coaches, wagons, etc., the iron furnace industry of Ligonier valley, have necessarily been considered in the general history of the county, and need not be repeated here.

When the town of Ligonier was laid out, its founder, among other things, donated a square upon which to construct a court house, if Ligonier Valley ever became a separate county with Ligonier as its county seat. For nearly fifty years after, the question of forming such a county was agitated. It was kept alive by politicians who, in order to secure votes in that section, promised if elected, to favor a bill erecting the new county.

In 1841, a public meeting was called at the house of John Elliott, in West Fairfield, for the purpose of inaugurating the movement, and expressing the sentiments of the people relative to it. The meeting was very largely attended by prominent people from all parts of the proposed new county. In the same week a similar meeting was held in Donegal, at the house of Abraham Brugh. The Donegal meeting was held of Friday, February 19, 1841.

The Fairfield meeting was called to order by electing Colonel John Moorhead as president; Colonel Amos Ogden, William Graham, Esq., Hugh Kennedy, John Kirker, Robert Donaldson, William Huston, Robert McDowell and Jacob Covode vice-presidents, and Samuel P. Cummins and Andrew Graham secretaries. The president appointed fifteen persons to draft resolutions. Among these were John Covode, John Hill, Joseph Moorhead, Colonel John McFarland, and others. They prepared resolutions setting forth that the townships in the valley and Salt Lick township in Fayette county were from eighteen to forty miles distant from county seats, and cut off from the other parts of the counties by Chestnut Ridge, and thus rendered very difficult for their citizens to attend court, etc., in fact impossible to reach their county seats on Monday morning without traveling on the Sabbath day. They had, the petition said, from nine to twelve thousand population, which was rapidly increasing. They set forth also that, if these townships were cut off from the counties of Fayette and Westmoreland, the county seats, Uniontown and Greensburg, would still be and remain about the center of their respective counties. They recite that large petitions have been presented to the legislature asking for the erection of the proposed county, etc. They therefore urge their members of the legislature, Messrs. Plumer, Hill, and Johnston, to pass the necessary legislation at once.

At the Donegal meeting, Killian Ambrose was elected president, and Joseph Moorhead, Robert Graham, C. Hubbs, John May and Jacob Hoffer were elected vice-presidents, while Henry Ostler and John Gay were elected secretaries. They appointed a committee which drafted resolutions which set forth that the people of the proposed new county were the ones who should be consulted, and, whereas they regarded the scheme before the legislature as a "wild scheme," to which the citizens of Donegal were violently opposed, and that its projectors were actuated by selfish motives, they therefore urged the members of the legislature to oppose the erection of the county of Ligonier with all their power, etc., etc. The published account says that Mr. Graham, one of the vice-presidents, withdrew from the meeting and would not sign the proceedings. These proceedings are published at length in the Greensburg papers of February 26, 1841. The defeat of the project was blamed on Donegal, and it was many years before they were forgiven for opposing it. Several times after that the matter was brought up again, when the valley townships unitedly asked for the new county. But the building of railroads made it easier for the citizens to reach the county seats, and we believe the project has not been contemplated seriously for over forty years, and will probably never be heard of again.

The following announcement concerning a proposed fox-hunt is taken from The Ligonier Free Press of Thursday, February 26, 1846:

"Turn out, Turn out, to the Latest and greatest Grand Circular Fox Hunt. According to previous notice a number of the citizens of Ligonier township met at Hermitage school-house where the following arrangements were proposed and unanimously adopted for conducting a GRAND CIRCULAR FOX HUNT, to close on the farm of John McConaughey Esq. 2 miles northeast of Ligonier, on Saturday the 7th day of March.
Grand Marshal, DR. GEORGE B. FUNDENBERG, Aids-Jacob Reed, Joseph Naugle, Esq., Col. Joseph Nicewonger, Robert McConaughey, John Clifford, Esq., Benj. Park Esq. And Samuel A. Armour.
The line to commence at Ligonier, and from thence to Boyds brick house. MARSHALLS: Richard Graham, John Hargnett, Daniel Boucher, James Waugh.
Captains-A. Biddinger, William Aschom, Conrad George, Joseph Moorhead, Esq., Josiah Boucher, Henry Hargnett, John Matthews, Henry Oursler, George Pealing, Henry Lowry and Daniel Park.
From Brick house to Laughlinstown. Marshals-Col. K. Ambrose, I. Matthews and Robert Kirkwood. Captains-John Fry, James Graham, George Phillippi, Robert McMillan, Robert Mickey, Sur. George Marker, Joseph Laughery, Joseph Harbison, George Albright, John Ewing, Joseph Phillipi, Thomas Metzier and William Curry.
From Laughlinstown along the Pike to Widow Irwin's.
Marshals-Dr. J. Peterson, Robert Louther, Esq., Capt. Chambers Moore and John Armor.
Captains-Frederick Scepter, Frederick Naugle, James Moore, Esq., A. Douglas, Esq., Jacob Rector, George Carnes, Sam'l Irwin, John Knupp, John Johnson, William Armor, Israel Brown, William Menoher, G. McMullen, John Galbraith, William McMullen, and David Lee.
From Widow Irwin's to Waterford.
Marshals-Francis Smith, William McCurdy, Joseph Ogden, James McElroy.
Captains-Alexander Irwin, Adam Penrod, David Hamil, Jos. Taylor, Alexander Johnson, James McCurdy, Nathaniel McKelvey, Thomas L. Beam, John Menoher, M.G. Lobinger, D. Shepherd, James Ogden, Harmon Skiles, Gordon Clifford, David Taylor, Alexander Lee, Thomas Findley, David McConaughey, James Clifford, R.D. Clifford.
From Waterford to Clifford's sawmill.
Marshals-Major John Hill, Robert Brown, John Pollock, Esq., Thomas Smith, Frances Little, Andrew Graham.
Captains-Johathan Louther, James Wilson, Joseph Murphy, Samuel Smith, John Woodend, James Willy. Jno. L. Smith, D. Brown, James Graham, Jr., Hugh McCreary, Ambrose Welshontz, Jacob Welshontz, Thomas McCoy, James Hamil, Jr., J.T. Smith, J. Milligan, Hugh Little, L. Pollock, William Brody, Edward Clifford, Jacob Losh, David Hill, Andrew Galbraith, John Arbaugh, Samuel Knupp and Thomas McDowell, Esq.
From Clifford's saw mill to Ligonier.
Marshalls-Amos Ogden, Esq., William Clifford, Joseph Peebles, Jacob McDowell, Robert Martin, Col John McFarland, Cicero Mendell.
Captains-Samuel Piper, Alexander Blair, Marshal Reed, Robert McDowell, Henry Johnson, John Tosh, Jacob Myers, Robert Hazlett, George Johnson, Thomas Seaton, Thomas Sutton, William Carnes, Robert Knowx, John Giesey, Michael Keiffer, John Frank, Abram Culin, Alexander McIlwain, William Huber, G.W. Cook, E. Nebhut, John Amick and Samuel Baker.
The officers will have the lines formed at 10 o'clock, when a signal will be given by firing a cannon on the Closing ground. As soon as the signal is heard the Lines will move off slowly and sound the horns-but no horns to be sounded until the Gun is heard.
No firearms will be allowed unless carried by the Marshals.
No dog is to be let loose until the order is given on penalty of such dogs being shot by the marshals.
The Grand Marshal and aids will be on the Closing ground before the cannon is fired.
There will be an outer and an inner circle.
Messrs. Thomas Ewing, Charles Menoher, John McConaughey and Lewis Rector were appointed a Committee to stake off the Closing ground, take charge of the GAME and present the proceeds to the printer.

The oldest and the quaintest town in Ligonier Valley is Laughlintown. It was laid out by Robert Laughlin, in June, 1797. It was built at the base of Laurel Hill mountains, on the old state road. When the turnpike was built it passed through the town. On either side and within a short distance were three iron furnaces, two at least of which were operated at the same time. With this and with the travel over the pike connecting the east and the west, Laughlintown must have easily been the metropolis and business center of Ligonier Valley. It is, moreover, the oldest town now in existence in the county except Greensburg. Situated as it is at the base of the mountain, it was a favorite over-night stopping place in the wagon and stage-coach days, so that they might be fresh for the pull up the mountain the following morning. It had several hotels, which catered to the pike and iron trade, and they were all justly noted in their day.

We forget sometimes that the trend of business towards railroads has greatly isolated some sections which were formerly our busiest communities, and were most favorably located. This is the case with Laughlintown. In the palmy days of turnpike travel it had almost as good a location as any place not touched by navigable streams. But its glories are mainly in the past, as far as modern business is concerned.

In her book entitled "A Descriptive Account of a Family Tour in the West," Sallie Hastings writes of a night she and her party spent in Laughlintown. She describes a large room in the hotel, the bad roads, etc. She was there October 23rd, 1800, yet the same hotel is still standing, and the large room unchanged. It is now owned and used as a dwelling house by the Armor brothers. This house was a tavern, and was kept by Benjamin Johnston. As early as 1808 he was licensed to sell liquor "by the small measure." This license cost him $8.80, as is indicated by the license yet preserved by the Armor brothers. It was granted by Governor Thomas McKean. When Sallie Hastings was there the house was full of guests on a hunting expedition, but there was no liquor for them, much to their chagrin, as she narrates. Robert Armor came there in 1814 and kept it as a hotel for many years afterwards. His son, John L., born in 1807, became a merchant in 1823, and for many years prior to his death, June 7, 1878, was one of Ligonier Balley's leading citizens. The house in which Richard Geary, the father of the governor, lived while employed in the iron business at Westmoreland Furnace is still standing.

The town in its better days supported hatter shops, saddlery shops, stores, etc. The late William St. Clair told the writer that he saw Daniel Webster in Laughlintown. He was passing through on the stage and stopped a short time at the hotel. Zachary Taylor stopped at the old brick tavern in 1848, and held quite a reception. This was when he was electioneering for the presidency. At Ligonier a large meeting was held, the candidate and his friends being entertained at the present Ligonier House. The former tavern keepers were Benjamin Johnston, Robert Armor, Philip Miller, Robert Elder, Mrs. Rhoades, Joseph Nicewonger, Frederick Septer, Robert and Alexander Caldwell, John Burdette, William Eckert, Joseph Park, George Hays, Israel Brown, George Carns and Joseph Naugle. The latter acquired a great deal of property, and remained in the business more or less till he died at the age of nearly four score years and ten.

A very attractive feature of Laughlintown at present is the private museum collected by the Armor brothers. It is a collection of relics of the past, which fills three buildings now and is increasing all the time, and is well worth anyone's while to visit. On June 7th, 1897, this quaint old town celebrated its hundredth birthday. Ligonier Township has twenty two schools, with 940 pupils enrolled.


The town of Ligonier was laid out by Colonel John Ramsey in 1817. It is the chief place of interest from a historic point of view in the Ligonier Valley. It is the most important town in the township, and is located near its center, on the northern bank of the Loyalhanna. Its situation is at once delightful and romantic. It is in the center of the valley which bears its name, and has on the east and northwest the blue line of Laurel Hill, which forms the rim of a partial amphitheater as viewed from the town. On the southwest is the Chestnut Ridge, with the cut where the Loyalhanna breaks through the ridge, plainly in view from almost any section of the valley. Among the first to settle there when the town was laid out in 1817 were Samuel Adams, Hugh Deever, Samuel Knox, Thomas Wilson, Noah Mendell, and George Matthews. The founder of the town had come from Chambersburg. He became a large land owner around Ligonier, and did a great deal to improve the valley. He built the old mill which stood on the bank of the Loyalhanna and was finally burned.

One of the earliest houses built in the town after it was laid out was a frame structure on the public square where the Marker block now stands. It was built by Henry Reed and occupied by him as a hotel. Reed also owned the Freeman farm, southwest of Ligonier. Removing there, the hotel was kept by Harmon Horton. Upon his death his widow, Elizabeth, made the hotel a famous hostelry in the early days of turnpike travel. One of her daughters, Ximena, was married to Dr. George B. Fundenberg. Another landlord of a later date was Philip Miller.

The old brick house on the corner of Main Street and the public square, lately moved and now the one wing of the Breniser Hotel, was built by John Myers in 1818. It was a hotel for some years, but with the decline of travel on the pike was used as a store and dwelling house. Thomas Seaton built the Ligonier House in 1824, and it has been used as a hotel ever since. Its first landlord was Henry Ankey. After him as landlords came Robert Elder, James Waugh, Benjamin Marker, John Blair, the Franks, Glessners, and others. Samuel Adams built the hotel which stood on the corner now occupied by Murdock's store. It was kept by one Riffle, and after his death by his widow. The last landlord in it was Christian Roth. Peter Aurents, sometimes called Orange, Built the old house which stood so long on the northwest corner of Main Street and the public square. He kept store there, and was also a sale cryer. Later it was used as a store and dwelling house, and for many years as a post office. Aurents also kept a livery stable-one horse, which he hired out for twenty-five cents per day. Thomas Lawson, the father of the late James Lawson, built a house standing where W.J. Potts' residence now stands. In 1818, when he was roofing the house, a violent storm came up suddenly and blew it down, and Mr. Lawson was killed by falling timbers. James McKelvy built the present Shoulan House, and in it kept the post office and also his office as justice of the pace, for he was the first postmaster of Ligonier. In 1833 he removed to Indiana, when John Hargnett, then a young merchant, was appointed postmaster, and Joseph Moorhead was appointed justice of the peace, which position he held by appointment and election till his death in 1865.

A few words concerning the Godfather of Ligonier, Sir John, Lord Viscount Ligonier, may not be out of place. The handsome picture printed in these pages is from a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the most eminent of all English portrait painters. And engraving from the painting was purchased in Philadelphia by the late Doctor William D. McGowan, and by him devised by will to the University of Pennsylvania. By special request it was presented by the University to the Ligonier Library, and is now in the library room of the Ligonier high school building.

At the time of the Forbes campaign against Fort Duquesne in 1758, Lord Ligonier was commander-in-chief of the home department of the English army. He had won great distinction in the army in the wars of Queen Anne. Purely by merit he gained the highest military rank under the British government. When he was seventy-three years old he became engaged to marry a young woman of great wealth and of considerable prominence in London society. The newspapers of the city took up the matter and made so much ridicule of the proposed union that, greatly to the distress of Sir John, the match was broken off. He threatened to sue them for libel because they had circulated that he was eighty years old, whereas he was seven years younger.

He continued at the head of the English army until, because of his great age, he obstructed the conduct of public business, and yet the authorities could not remove him and he would not resign. Horace Walpole wrote in his diary in 1766, that "Lord Granby was made commander-in-chief, to the mortification of Lord Ligonier, who accepted an Irish Earl's coronet for his ancient brows and approaching coffin, and Ligonier got fifteen hundred pounds per year settled on his nephew." Ligonier had been knighted by George the Second, was created Lord Ligonier in Ireland in 1757, was raised to an English peerage under the same title in 1763. He was made Earl of Ligonier in 1766. He died in London in 1770, aged 91 years.

His nephew was Edward Ligonier, and was married to Penelope, a daughter of Lord Francis Rivers. Some years after their marriage, an Italian poet named Alfieri, became, as Lord Edward thought, too much of a favorite of Lady Ligonier. He thereupon sent him a challenge which the hot-blooded Italian promptly accepted. They fought with swords, and Alfieri was wounded. After the duel Ligonier was divorced from his wife by an act of Parliament. The Annual Register states that George the Third made a special trip to the House of Lords for the purpose of signing the bill. About a year after, Ligonier was married to Mary Henle, Daughter of the Earl of Northington, Lord Chancellor of England. In 1764, Edward Ligonier was made aide-de-camp to King George, and was also colonel of a regiment of the Coldstream Guards. When the Revollutionary War opened, he came to America with a regiment to fight against the Colonies. In 1783 he died in America, without children, so the lordly line of Ligoniers died with him.

The name Ligonier was given to the fort by Forbes of Bouquet. By some means it was also given to a bay on Lake Champlain. It is also borne by a town in Indiana, which was settled by John Caven, from Ligonier Valley, who gave the old name to the new town which he helped to found. The township surrounding Ligonier has borne the same name since it was erected in 1822. Prior to that there were but two townships between the Ridge and the mountains-Donegal on the south, and Fairfield on the north.

When Colonel John Ramsey laid out the town he called it Ramseytown, but a violent objection was raised to that name, and it was changed, but not to Ligonier at first. Ramsey was anxious to adopt any name that would be popular, so that lots would sell more readily. Two years before that, "chance and fate combined" defeated Napoleon Bonaparte on the field of Waterloo. Ramsey doubtless thought therefore that the most popular name of the day was Wellington, and it may not be generally known that tie name was changed from Ramseytown to Wellington. The following notice is from the Greensburg Gazette of February 6, 1817:


Will be offered for sale, by publick vendue, at or near Ligonier Old Fort, on the Great Western Turnpike Road, on Tuesday the 25th of February instant a number of LOTS of GROUND agreeable to a plan of said town which will be exhibited on day of sale.
Attend all such as wish to procure valuable property, on easy terms: where it is confidently expected there can be shortly obtained a seat of justice for a new county. Good merchants of different kinds would meet with liberal encouragement by settling in said town. Materials of all kinds for building can be had conveniently low. There are inexhaustible banks of stone coal opened within one mile.

In the same paper, published February 12, 1817, is the following announcement:

"The new town laid out by Mr. Ramsey at Ligonier Old Fort, is to be called Ligonier and not Wellington, as was last week advertised. The time for sale of lots has been changed to 17 of March" 

Notwithstanding the fact that it was named Ligonier, it was commonly called Ramseytown for many years, and only permanently assumed its present name when it was incorporated (April 10, 1834). In his plan of lots recorded in Greensburg, May 19, 1818, Ramsey prohibited servants, minors and insolvent persons from bidding at the sale, and provided also that any person who bought the corner lots on the Diamond should build on them within seven years a brick, stone or frame two-story house, or forfeit one hundred dollars, which should be used to build the courthouse when Ligonier should become a county seat. The purchaser of any corner lot on Main Street who should not build as above specified, should forfeit thirty dollars, and on all other streets twenty dollars, if they failed to build as above indicated.

A great feature in the early history of Ligonier was the Review Day. It is sometimes called the parade, or muster day. It originated shortly after the War of 1812, and was kept up constantly till the Mexican War in 1846. It was not by any means peculiar to Ligonier, but was common in all parts of the state. They were required by our laws, the object being to educate the young men in military tactics. They were generally held in May. The first was held on the first Monday of May. It was a preliminary or township affair, and its object was to drill and practice for the great parade which was held two weeks later. On the second day the entire population from Donegal to the Conemaugh River turned out. All men who were capable of bearing arms were enrolled, and were compelled to turn out and rill or pay a fine of one dollar. The review was held in the bottom south of the present iron bridge across the Loyalhanna. Hundreds of men and women attended out of curiosity, and the entire community was filled with people. The more prominent officers were mounted. All were supposed to provide themselves with guns to be used in drilling, but many of them were only wooden guns.

For more than ten years after Ligonier was laid out, it was without a physician. When sickness came they applied the simple remedies they were familiar with or had at hand, or sent to Greensburg for the nearest physician. The first physician who located in Ligonier was Dr. Johnston Miller in 1831, though a physician named Rodgers from Connellsville had been there a short time in 1824 and 1825, but failed to receive much patronage. After practicing a few years miller died, and was succeeded by Dr. Samuel P. Cummins. He remained there nearly a generation and gathered about him considerable property. As has been seen, he engaged to a considerable extent in the manufacture of iron. He built the brick house now known as the National Hotel, and occupied it as a residence and offices. James Cunningham, a young man of Ligonier, read medicine with him and practiced there five or six years, after which he moved west. Dr. George B. Fundenberg located there about 1836, and remained several years, after which he removed to Fairfield and to the South. He was a man of fine ability and commanding appearance. He died in Pittsburgh less than twenty years ago. Dr. Russell also practiced there several years, and after him came Dr. George M. Kemble, who practically succeeded Dr. Cummins in both profession and residence. He came from one of the eastern counties, and remained until the Civil War broke out, when he entered the Fourth Cavalry Regiment as a captain. He was succeeded by Dr. H.L. Lindley, after whom came Dr. J.C. Hunter and Dr. John A. Miller. The latter was an unusually bright young man, who died a martyr to his profession in 1871, having caught the diphtheria from a patient whom he was treating. Dr. Lemon T. Beam began practicing there in 1856, and practiced with great success till 1870, when he removed to Johnstown and was lost in the flood in 1889. He was followed by Dr. M.M. McColly, who remained till his death in 1893.

The Methodists began to hold services in Ligonier and at the farm house of Abel Fisher, two miles to the northwest, long before they had an edifice in which to hold them. The hotel built by Samuel Adams had a swinging partition between the dining room and the kitchen which could be raised, and both rooms thrown into one. In this they held services until about 1825, when they came into possession of a brick building at the southeast corner of the old graveyard. In this they held forth till 1855, when some young men who were greatly interested in church building, stole from their rooms one night and threw down the end walls. The second edifice, the Methodist, and some of the prominent men of that day, are referred to in the following letter from Dr. H.L. Chapman, written for this work:

On Friday, August 25, 1850, I walked from Blairsville to Ligonier valley to enter upon my duties as junior pastor on what was known as the Ligonier circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The circuit embraced fifteen preaching places, though none of the societies were large. In Ligonier we had seventy-five members, and a small brick church of one room. It was situated on a back street which terminated and was fenced a few rods beyond the church. As vehicles never passed over this street, it was a favorite place for cows to rest quietly at night. But the edifice was by no means well located for securing the attendance of the general public, and only the most faithful members as a rule, found their way there for divine service.
Yet in no community of its size have I ever found so many people of solid character, intelligence and exemplary conduct. There were few poor people and yet few could be called rich, even in those days of moderate fortunes. All whether rich or poor, and without regard to religious distinctions, lived together in great peace and social equality.

Among the more influential members of the Ligonier church at that time were Abel Fisher, who was known far and near because of his remarkable knowledge of the Bible and the books pertaining to it, and of the Methodist literature generally; John T. McGowan, a merchant of great shrewdness and intelligence, and a man remarkably fluent in prayer and in public address; John Hargnett, who was associated with Mr. McGowan in business, and was for a quarter of a century the Sunday school superintendent, was a man of superb honor and kindness; David Boucher, a large land owner and extensive farmer, living about half a mile south of Ligonier. He, too, was in many respects a remarkable man. For practical wisdom and solid sense it would be hard to find his superior. He was a Pennsylvania German, and had enough of the Teutonic accent to make his conversation interesting and impressive. His piety was deep and intelligent, and held supreme sway over all of his faculties. He was remarkably generous and hospitable. Then there was Alexander Bovard, formerly a stage driver, but who became one of the most useful and intelligent of men as a Bible class teacher and class leader. Robert McConaughey was a substantial farmer and consistent church member, living close to the village. Mrs. Horrell was justly celebrated for her great piety, and died many years later in her hundredth year.

In 1857 the society decided to build a new church. The question of location became one of great interest. Many were anxious to retain the old site on account of its precious memories. But David Boucher was convinced that a more public site was desirable. He urged the great advantage there would be in having the new church located where every one could see it, and thus be attracted to attend its services. I was then pastor for the second time of the Ligonier charge. Mr. Boucher's choice for a church site, as well as my own, was a lot on one corner of the public square, in the center of the village. In order to influence the decision he offered a moderate sum for a church to be built anywhere, but five times as much if it should be built on the public square. This had a great influence, and practically secured the location, which is now occupied by the splendid stone church, successor to the one he helped to build nearly fifty years ago.

During the winter, which followed the dedication of the church, a great revival took place. There were received into the church as a result of it one hundred and six members, so that in a few weeks, the society had been more than doubled in membership. Among those received who became prominent and valuable members, were Dr. L.T. Beam, who perished in the Johnstown flood; Hiram Boucher, of sterling worth to both church and community, and especially noted as a Bible class teacher; Noah M. Marker, a successful merchant; Jacob Murdock; the McConaughey brothers, Frank Harvey and Calender; and many others.

A Female Seminary was established and well patronized in Ligonier about 1845. It was founded by Rev. A.B. Clark, and was kept in the brick house now owned by George Senft, manager of the Ligonier Valley Railroad. In the Ligonier Free Press of September 5gh, 1845, is the following advertisement:

The first semi-annual examination of the school will take place on the last Thursday the 25th of September in the Ligonier Presbyterian Church. The exercises will commence at 9 o'clock a.m. and will consist in the examination of the pupils in the various branches studied during the session, together with vocal music and reading original compositions.
Encouraged by the success of our experiment we propose to continue the school, upon the terms already published, viz: $55.00 for the winter session, including all expenses except washing.
All the branches of an English education together with composition and vocal music will be taught upon these terms. Lessons in the Latin are given weekly by a young gentleman from Germany.
We shall be prepared also to give lessons in Painting, Drawing, French, Latin, and Greek, for each of which there will be an extra charge of six dollars per session.
No teachers are employed but such as are competent and highly recommended. The winter session will commence on the first Monday of November and close on the last Thursday of March. Persons wishing to send will please give notice as early as convenient. Address, A.B. Clark, Superintendent. Persons desiring further information respecting the school are referred to either of the following gentlemen:
Rev. Joseph Scroggs, Ligonier; Rev. J.I. Brownson, Greensburg; Rev. Samuel McFerrin, Congruity; Hon. T. Pollock, Ligonier; Rev. Samuel Swan, Ligonier; Major John Hill, Hillsview; Rev. John Flemming, ________; Col. John McFarland, Ligonier; Joseph Moorhead, Esq., Ligonier; Dr. Geo. B. Fundenberg, Ligonier; Dr. S.P. Cummings, Ligonier.

The Ligonier high school building is one of the best and most stately looking buildings in the county. It was built in 1893 and finished in 1894. It cost about $44,000.

The town has a splendid system of water works built in 1897. The water is brought almost directly from springs on Laurel Hill mountains, and affords an abundant supply of soft water, and the rate paid by the consumers is the lowest in the county. The borough has seven schools, with 300 pupils.

Source: Pages 471-472, History of Westmoreland County, Volume 1, Pennsylvania by John N. Boucher, New York, the Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed August 2000 by Devorah Ann Klingenberger-Fosbrink for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed by Devorah Ann Klingenberger-Fosbrink for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)

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