History of Westmoreland County
Volume 1
Chapter 44

Sewickley Township. -Suterville. -Loyalhanna Township. -Burrell Township. -Parnassus. -New Kensington. -
Cook Township. - Bell Township. -Penn Township. -Manor. - Penn Borough. - St. Clair Township. - New Florence.

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Sewickley township was erected in 1835, and was named after the Big Sewickley creek, which flows from its southwestern boundary. It is bounded on the north by North Huntingdon township; on the east by Hempfield township; on the south by South Huntingdon township, and on the west by the Youghiogheny river. Among the early settlers were Gasper Markle, Jacob Painter, Anthony Blackburn, Caruthers, Carnahans, Campbells, Marchands, Milligans, Pinkertons, Gilberts, McGrews, and others.

Anthony Blackburn settled there in 1778, but removed to Canada a few years later. One of his sons returned and spent the remainder of his days in Sewickley township. The sons who remained in Canada served in the British army in the War of 1812, and were on the northwestern frontier. These boys while residents of Sewickley township had been schoolmates of General Joseph Markle. After the war was over one of them paid a visit to Westmoreland, and stated that a few days before the commencement of the siege at Fort Meigs he was lying with a company of Indians concealed near the fort, and that while there Joseph Markle and his orderly sergeant, John C. Plumer, and a part of his company passed close by, and that he (Blackburn) recognized his old acquaintances and schoolmates, Markle and Plumer, and permitted them to pass by without firing upon them. This perhaps saved the lives of all the party.

One of the most noted families in the township of Sewickley was the Markle family, but as its history has been considered in another part of this work nothing further need be said here.

Another noted family was the Guffey family. William Guffey, the progenitor of the family, came from Ireland, bringing with him his wife and children about 1738, and later settled in Sewickley township, in Westmoreland county, where he died in January, 1783. His son, James Guffey, was born in 1736, two years before his father left Ireland. His oldest son, John Guffey, was born in Sewickley township, August 6, 1764, and was married to Agnes Lowry, who was born April 18, 1773. His second wife was Rebecca Stewart. James Guffey was his oldest son, and was one of thirteen children. James was born at the Guffey homestead, December 15, 1791. He was a soldier in the cavalry company under General Joseph Markle in the War of 1812, and was engaged in the battle of Mississinewa. Upon his return from the army he married Hannah, a daughter of James and Mary P. Scott, who was born March 6, 1791. Her father had also come from Ireland. They settled on the Guffey homestead in a log house, and it was he who built the present brick house on the homestead in 1833. He died March 22, 1841, and his wife survived him until June 10, 1878. From these people came the Guffey family, one of the most noted families in Western Pennsylvania.

The Greenawalt family was another noted one in the township. Its founder was Jacob Greenawalt, who was a native of Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, and who settled on a farm in Sewickley township, about 1798. He was married to Martha Brenneman, and they had four sons and five daughters. From this family came Captain Caleb Greenawalt, who served with distinction in the Civil war.

Mars Hill Baptist Church was organized by Rev. Milton Sutton, in 1840. He was followed by Revs. R. R. Sutton, J.P. Rockefeller, T.G. Lonham, D. Webster, R. C. Morgan and others. Rev. O. P. Hargrave was afterwards their regular pastor for nearly a quarter of a century. They have now a very valuable church property.

About two miles north of Millgrove is situated a United Presbyterian church, and a mile farther north is a Methodist church.


The Society of Friends, or Quakers, as they were called by others in derision, arose in England about the year 1650. They endeavored to carry out in practice the doctrines of the New Testament, and accordingly were opposed to all wars and the use of oaths, while they upheld a free gospel ministry and the equality of all men. They soon became the objects of a bitter persecution which filled the prisons to overflowing and caused the deaths of many through bar-{text lost}... William Penn obtained from King Charles II in 1681 the charter for Pennsylvania, with the view of founding a colony where religious liberty might be enjoyed, there were many who were ready to face the trials of a new settlement rather than those they had endured in the Old World.

The first meeting of Friends in Pennsylvania was held at what is now Chester, in Delaware county, and on the Delaware river. With the constant influx of immigrants the settlements were extended into the interior, and new meetings were set up as necessity demanded. It may be explained that aside from meetings for worship there are meetings for business, and these are designated as preparative, monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings. Two or more preparative meetings may form a monthly, two or more monthly meetings may form a quarterly, and usually several quarterly meetings form a yearly meeting. The monthly meetings are the principal executive branch of the Society, and exercise an oversight over the membership in various ways. New meetings are established by them, subject to the approval of the quarterly meetings, and there has been a kind of genealogical succession, so to speak, throughout their history. Beginning with Chester Monthly Meeting, in 181, we have Concord, set off in 1684; Newark, (now Kennet) from Concord, in 1686; New Garden, from Newark in 1718; Nottingham, in 1730; Hopewell in Frederick county, Virginia, in 1736; Westland, Washington county, Pennsylvania, in 1785; Redstone, Fayette county, 1793, and Providence , by division of Redstone, in 1817.

In 1773 John Parrish, of Philadelphia, in company with Zebulon Heston and John Lacy, paid a visit to the western Indians, and from the journal of the first the following is somewhat condensed:

8 Mo. 12th, Left Pittsburgh to visit some Friends in the new Settlement about Redstone (Governor of Virginia just arrived at Pittsburgh) - went down the Monongahela about 6 miles and forded; went to one Francis Fisher's a Friend who received them kindly - had a large Family of Children. 13th. Had a Meeting with his & 3 other Families. 14th. Cross'd the same Fording Place back into Braddock's Road & pass'd thro the Field of Battle (the Bones yet in Sight) - travell'd down the Road about 30 miles from Pittsburgh; put up at McDole's a Presbyterian, a private House. 1st Day ye 15th stay'd all day. 16th. Turned back 3 miles into the Redstone Road & in about 10 miles riding came into a small Settlement of Friends, between the two Sewickillys; and not far from Yohageni are settled Joseph Blackburn, Wm. Read, Simeon McGrey, Anthony Blackburn, Danl Hammond, James ---------, Jos. Bedsworth, --------------Gilbert. Had a heavenly Meeting the 17th at Jos. Blackburn's, about 30 or 40 persons being present, mostly promising Youth; went towards the upper End of Redstone & lodg'd with Daniel Hammand. 18th crossed the 2 Redstone Creeks along by the Fort (hilly fertile Lands) & got to Josias Crawford's where were kindly received, and next Day by him accompanied to his Brother James's. (See Penna. Magazine, xvi, 446.)

At Westland Monthly Meeting, 10 mo. 25, 1788: "Redstone Preparative Meeting informs this that the friends on the Waters of Sewickley creek request the holding of a meeting among them." A committee was appointed to visit them, who reported, 12 mo. 27, that they had an opportunity with Friends on Sewickley, and believed further care to be necessary. The request was granted for them to hold a meeting at James McGrew's until further convenience can be made, on the first and fourth days of the week, to begin at the eleventh hour, and the first meeting to be held on the eleventh day of next month. Twelve men were appointed to sit with them at the opening of the meeting. 1 mo. 24, 1789: "Part of the Committee appointed to have the care of the meeting on Sewickley attended the opening thereof to their satisfaction." 5 mo. 16, 1789: "Several of the committee appointed have visited the meeting on Sewickley divers times" and find "further care will be profitable." The old committee of twelve was released 9 mo 26, 1789, and a committee of four appointed to extend what care may be needful. On 3 mo. 26, 1791, the committee was released, and the case referred particularly to the care of Providence Preparative Meeting.

The minutes of Redstone Monthly Meeting, commencing 4 mo. 26, 1793, and of which Providence Meeting, Fayette county, was a branch, show that Joseph Talbot, wife Mary and four children, Sarah, Elizabeth, Allen and William settled at Sewickley in that year. Abner Gilbert produced a certificate from Friends in Chester county, 8 mo, 31, 1798, an unmarried man. The meeting was not yet permanently established, but was "indulged" to be held for definite periods. On 12 mo. 28, 1798, "Providence Preparative Meeting informs that friends of Sewickly request the establishment of the Meeting & also the privilege of holding a preparative, which being considered by this Meeting Rees Cadwalader, Jonas Cattell, William Dixon, John Cope, John Cadwalader

(Picture of log house built by Simon McGrew about 1755, and still standing. It is in Sewickley Township on land of his great-grandson, William M. McGrew. It is on the Braddock route, and tradition is that the unfortunate General stopped there on his way to Fort Duquesne.)

& Henry Troth are appointed to sit with friends of that Meeting, feel after their situation the propriety of such an establishment & report their sense thereof to next Meeting." Finally, on 8 mo. 30, 1799, it was agreed to establish the meeting , and the decision was forwarded to the quarterly meeting for approval; but it was not till 1826 that it was made a preparative meeting of business. Abner Gilbert was appointed an overseer 6 mo. 2, 1809, and appointed a member of the "Meeting for Sufferings" 3 mo. 29, 1811, in the room of his brother Benjamin, deceased. James Means was appointed an overseer 9 mo. 1, 1815.

The will of James A. McGrew, dated 11th of 4th month, 1805, contains the following clause: "I give and bequeath unto the Members of Sewickly Meeting all that piece of land struck off my meets and bounds the other day, to Friends, their heirs and assigns forever, provided as soon as the privilege of a Meeting is taken from them it is my will that it fall to my son James, to his heirs and assigns forever, except that part that is enclosed within the fence round the burying ground it is my will and pleasure that that stand forever for a burying ground."

By indenture dated 12 mo. 12, 1832, James A. McGrew, of North Huntingdon township, son of the above James and Rebekah, his wife, released all reversionary interest in the land to Benjamin Gilbert and George Gilbert, trustees for the Sewickley Preparative Meeting. The amount of land was said to be seven acres, and that it was part of a tract patented to the said James A. McGrew, February 13, 1816. A resurvey in 1851 made it a little less than seven acres. The present meeting-house was erected about sixty years ago. The Means, Hammond, McGrew and Blackburn families were from Adams county. Benjamin Gilbert was from the vicinity of Philadelphia, about 1787, but could not have been the person mentioned by Parrish.


Suterville is a thrifty borough on the Youghiogheny river, and in Sewickley township. It was laid out about 1870 by the late Eli C. Suter, who was a large owner of land on the banks of the river. It is four miles below West Newton, and has gradually increased in population until it now contains about 1200 people. Its chief industry is mining coal and making coke. It has splendid transportation facilities for these products on the Baltimore & Ohio and the Pittsburgh, McKeesport & Youghiogheny railroad.

Its churches are the Catholic, Presbyterian and Methodist, each of which are strong societies.

The Allegheny and Westmoreland Bridge Company constructed a bridge across the Youghiogheny river at this place in 1896. It is about seven hundred feet long, and is a very handsome structure. The town was incorporated in 1902 by the courts of Westmoreland county. John Kellner was its first chief burgess, while Matthew Osborne, Samuel Rudebaugh, John Keegan, Louis Oberdick, Philip Rinehart and James Hopkinson were the first councilmen. Their first borough election was held August 16, 1902.

Suter's Ferry was a well established crossing at this place fifty years ago. It was owned and operated by Eli C. Suter, the founder and godfather of the town. He was a man of strong character, good business habits and great energy. As long as he lived he could not be otherwise than the leader of his community.


An attempt was made in 1831, as appears from our court records, to form Loyalhanna township out of parts of Salem, Derry, and Washington townships. As a result of this and other applications which followed it, the township was organized by our courts in 1833. It received its name from the well known historic stream which flows through its central part. It is bounded on the north by the Conemaugh river; on the east by Derry township; on the south and southwest by Salem township, and on the northwest by Bell township. It is watered by the Loyalhanna and a few minor streams which flow into it.

Among the early settlers in Loyalhanna township were the Georges, Hensels, Robinsons, Kerrs, McBrides, Adairs, and Stewarts. Of those who have figured prominently in the history of the township and vicinity are the names Kirkpatrick, Campbell, Sterritt, Bowman, Johnson, Semon and others. Almost the entire township is underlaid with coal, and its surface is well adapted to agriculture. It has, of course, but little early history that may be properly told here, for it was in the pioneer days united with Salem, Derry and Washington townships, and its earlier history has therefore been gone over in the description of these townships. 

The Northwestern Pennsylvania Railroad runs along its northern boundary. Though small in area, it is filled with enterprising citizens who are noted for their thrift, industry, intelligence and morality. It has four schools, and 124 pupils enrolled.


Lower and Upper Burrell townships were organized in 1879 by a division of Burrell townships into two parts. The petition of the citizens of Burrell township asked for a division on account of various reasons therein stated, and on December 22d they presented their petition to the court, with Judge James A. Logan on the bench, and on January 18, 1879, the prayer of the petitioners was finally granted, and the townships were named Upper and Lower Burrell. The original Burrell township had been taken from Allegheny township in 1852, while Judge Jeremiah Murry Burrell was on the bench, and the new division was named in his honor. The boundaries of the old township were north by Allegheny county; on the east by Washington county; on the southeast by Franklin township, and on the west by the Allegheny river, which separates our county from Allegheny county. The entire township of Burrell (that is the present Upper and Lower Burrell townships) is underlaid with coal, which is now being mined.

The early settlers of these townships were largely of Scotch-Irish extraction. The Crooks family located on Pucketoes creek in 1791. William Ross came from Ireland, and after a short sojourn in Franklin and Adams counties moved to Burrell township. He died August 28, 1839, in the eighty-seventh year of his age. John Stewart settled there also, with his brother William, the latter living until 1850. John Bales settled in Burrell township in 1805. Other early settlers were the McLaughlins, Byerleys, Millers, Hummels, Donnells, Hunters, Skillens, Moores, Logans, Shearers, Leslies, Blacks, Georges, Swanks, Milligans, Sands, Woodslayers, Rowans, Nelsons, Gills, Ludwigs, Dugans, Henrys, Lanes, Ingrams, Crawfords, Caldwells, Fredericks, Kunkles, McWilliams, McCutcheons, etc. One of the first pioneers in the township was James Johnston, a Revolutionary soldier who lived to be one hundred and three years old. David Alter was another early settler. His father was born in Switzerland, and came to America before the Revolution. His oldest son, Joseph, was the father of the renowned Dr. David Alter. David Alter was born in 1775, and was a captain in the War of 1812. He was the builder of Alter's mills, on Pucketoes creek. All of these early settlers from 1780 to 1792 were subjected to severe treatment on the part of the Indians who came into this township from the Indian country north of the Allegheny.

One of the oldest churches in the original Burrell township was the Puckety United Presbyterian Church. It is located about two miles southeast of Chartiers Station. Several families from Adams and Franklin counties, among whom were the Rosses, Crooks, etc., had settled with the Watts, Skillens and others in this section, and soon formed a religious denomination. They were supplied with pastors at various times between 1795 and 1804, when they began to have regular supplies. At a meeting of the Monongahela Presbytery in 1803 an application was received from these people for a regular minister. Rev. Mungo Dick was appointed to preach to them, and also at the Yough meeting house, afterwards known as Bethesda Church. Later they were supplied by Rev. Henderson, Rev. Buchanan, and Rev. Galloway. These ministers all journeyed long distances on horseback through an almost unbroken wilderness, for there were but few roads and no bridges in the northern part of the county at that time. They preached at first in a grove on the Ross homestead. In 1806 William Ross finished a barn, and it was used as a place of worship for some months. Later came the "tent" at the forks of a road not far from Chartier's Station. The "tent" was a temporary affair made by putting four posts in the ground and closing the spaces up on three sides and putting a rude roof over the top of it. Here the first regular services were held until a church was erected, which was about 1816. It was a log structure thirty-two by twenty-eight feet, and had no ceiling. It was warmed by a ten-plate stove. Rev. McConnell was an early pastor there, and resigned as pastor in 1833. A second church of brick was built there in 1837.

The Bethesda Lutheran Church is located near the Allegheny township line, and was organized in 1864. Before that time the Lutherans had services in a schoolhouse on the Ross farm, which was erected in 1850. Their pastors were Revs., Earhart, Hoover, Barry, M. G. Earhart, who preached also at Hankey's Church, in Franklin township. The Presbyterian congregation was organized in Parnassus in 1842 by Revs. James Graham and S. M. McClung. The Methodist Episcopal Church is also a congregation and a church in Lower Burrell township, a short distance from Tarentum. In 1868 the Reformed Presbyterian Church was organized at Parnassus, and they built a frame structure there in 1870.

Upper Burrell township has five schools, with 105 pupils enrolled. Lower Burrell has eight schools, with 182 pupils enrolled.


The borough of Parnassus is very beautifully situated on the eastern bank of the Allegheny river, in Lower Burrell township. The Allegheny Valley railroad passes by it, and was built in 1855 and 1856. The town took its name from a church called Parnassus Church, on the Logan homestead. John W. Logan laid out the town shortly after the building of the railroad. The borough was incorporated by Act of Assembly passed April 9, 1872. The first section of the Act directed the court of quarter sessions to appoint three persons to make out the boundaries of the borough and make a report to the court. C. F. Warden, John M. Dickey and J. F. McCullough were accordingly appointed, and they filed their report on August 6th. Since then Parnassus has gradually increased in population and in business industries, and nearby are the thriving towns of New Kensington and Arnold. All should be incorporated in one borough, and we understand such a project is in contemplation. In that event the incorporation would be one of the first towns in the county.


This place, together with Arnold and Parnassus, adjunct towns, has a population of between nine and ten thousand. It was started as a "boom town," promoted by a party of Pittsburgh capitalists incorporated as the Burrell improvement Company, with Samuel E. Moore as president, and Joseph P. Cappeau as secretary and treasurer, who secured parts of the Stephen Young and the late Rev. Alex. Young farms. Engineers were set to work early in the spring of 1891 to lay out and plot the town of Kingston (later styled new Kensington). The sale of lots began June 10th. Free railway transportation was widely issued from the Pittsburgh office of the Land Company, and fully fifteen thousand people came to look the ground over. The sale continued for three days. It took a stout heart to pay fabulous prices for lots when the corn rows were so plainly in sight and only furrows marking the streets, avenues and alleys, with muslin signs bearing the names of proposed manufacturing plants to be built. Yet in the face of all this newness of "things yet to be," some $63,000 worth of lots were sold the first day, and the sales in the three days amounted to over $135,000.

The pioneer plants built were the Pittsburgh Reduction Company's works, which have ever since been the real life of the borough, and the Excelsior Glass Works, making the famous "Excelsior Lamp Chimneys," which concern finally merged into that of the Reduction Company. Then followed, one after the other, factories including the Sterling White Lead Company, Bradley Stove Works, Pennsylvania Tin Plate Company, the Hunt Air Brake Works, Cold Rolled Steel Plant, Enameling Works, Plate-Glass Company, Glenn Drilling Company, and Chambers Glass Works of Arnold borough; a nail works and a piano factory survived hardly long enough to have a place in history. Some of these plants removed to other places, some were merged into others, and some fell into a dreamless sleep and are numbered in the defunct list today. In 1905 the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, is in the front rank of manufacturing plants of the borough. It is exclusively engaged in the work of reducing that most wonderful metal - aluminum - from clay by a secret process in which electricity is a medium, and finally working it out into a hundred and one different articles of commercial value to the domestic life and to the arts and sciences the world over. This company commenced on a modest scale, employing less than a score of workmen, but has so rapidly grown that six hundred skilled and unskilled workmen now find employment. The same concern has branch works at Niagara Falls, New York, East St. Louis, Illinois, and in Canada. The New Kensington works makes the metal into "pigs," and also furnishes large amounts of finished goods, including automobile beds, ocean cables, etc. Just now they are supplying vast quantities of aluminum for the subways of New York and Brooklyn. At first it was sold for three dollars per pound, but by cheap process it has become a cheap commodity, yet it affords large profits amounting to one hundred per cent, in recent dividends on the stock.

Another great industry of New Kensington is the works of the American Tin-Plate Company, (now a part of the property of the consolidated American Sheet and Tin Plate Company) now equipped at this branch plant with seven hot mills and twelve tinning sets. The annual product capacity is 350,000 boxes of tin-plate. The number of men employed is about five hundred. This is styled the "Pittsburgh plant." The Pennsylvania," another plant of the same company, became a part of the American Tin-Plate Company in December, 1898, and is now equipped with six hot mills and twelve tinning sets. The annual product capacity being 300.00 boxes of tin plate.

At Arnold borough the Chambers Glass Works was built in 1892, and finally came to rank as the largest single window glass plant in America, and is now a part of the great American Window Glass Trust.

The Columbia Drilling Company are makers of all sorts of earth drills, from the smallest tube-well size to those used in oil and gas wells, where the depth ranges from one to three thousand feet. They sell in all parts of the world, including Alaska, Peru, Siam and Siberia. The Clay Pot Factory, wherein are made pots suitable for melting various substances, has become no small concern. There are also good roller flour mills in operation at this point, as well as two large breweries, one having a capacity of 50,000 barrels per year. These were started in 1897.

The three banking houses of this place are, the First National, established in 1892 with a $50,000 capital; the Logan Trust Company, with $100,000 capital, with J.W. Logan as president, and J. R. Alter as cashier, and the Parnassus National Bank.

New Kensington was incorporated as a borough November 26, 1892, and one year later was divided into wards: First, Kensington; second, Arnold. A dissatisfaction grew up, and Arnold was made a borough of itself, but present steps are being taken to reunite the two places. Here one finds all modern improvements and true progress on every hand. The borough officials have ever been of the true type of citizens. The first burgess was D. H. McCarty, succeeded by B. C. Shaffer, and he by R. Henderion. The present burgess is M. H. Mainwaring. the present council is: Solomon Shaner, president' David Thomas, J. B. Morehead, H. H. Klingensmith, Henry Sayers, David H. Webb and Samuel Heister.

This place has an excellent sewerage system, extending to every part of the borough, and all streets west of the railroad are paved with vitrified brick. There has been erected at an expense of $12,000 a commodious town hall and a secure "lock-up" for the confinement of law breakers. There are three well drilled fire companies, two of which number fifty members each. Not in business alone does New Kensington rank high among the boroughs of Westmoreland county, but it has splendid facilities for the development of the secular and spiritual mind as well. It has twenty school rooms in two good buildings, and an enrollment of 1141 pupils.

The following religious denominations are represented here, and many have fine church edifices, in which to worship after their own peculiar faith, while others are in the mission stage of their history. The first in the field was the Lutheran congregation, as a mission, with Rev. Carl Zinmeister, pastor, in October 1891. Then came the following: St. Joseph's Reformed, First Methodist Episcopal, First Baptist, Zion's German Lutheran, Trinity Reformed, Episcopal, First Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran, St. Mary's Polish Catholic, St. Peter's Italian Catholic, First Church of Christ, African Methodist Episcopal, German Baptist, and Colored Baptist.

The newspapers of the place are the Keystone, (Republican), and the Dispatch, (Democratic), both weekly journals, alive to the best interests of the community.

The borough is provided with excellent water from a private corporation, and also with modern electric light and natural gas plants. Its natural adaptability and rare beauty as a town site is not excelled in the entire Allegheny valley, and its connection by electric line with Tarentum, Natrona and various other points, makes it accessible and a desirable place in which to reside.


Cook township was formed by a division of Donegal township, and its early history is therefore included in Donegal township. The difficulties which brought about this division are unknown to the writer. Before the township was divided the elections of the entire township were held at Stahlstown. This was a matter of great complaint to those who resided beyond Donegal or in the southern portion of Ligonier valley. David Cook was at that time an associate judge of Westmoreland county, and the new township was named after him. He was the father of William A. Cook, for many years a member of the Westmoreland bar, and still later a lawyer of great renown in Washington City.

The early settlers were the Campbells, Pipers, Thompsons, Binkeys, Bests, Phillippis, Beistals, Matthews, Groves, Parks, Haugers, Heinzs, Hoods, Felgars, Stahls, Brants, Cavens, Withrows, McDowells, Wellers, Weavers, etc. One of the most renowned early settlers was "Elder" Robert Campbell, the progenitor of the large Campbell family which resides in Ligonier valley, and who have since settled in many other parts of the county. His father was murdered by the Indians, and his life and character has been considered elsewhere in this volume. The blockhouse called Fort Williams, on the Four Mile run, was built by Richard Williams, and on his land. Among the first justices of the peace in the township were Seymour Campbell, and still later came Lewis Thompson, James McCain, James McDowell, John Campbell, J. G. Weaver and others. The township lies high, much of it being mountainous. In the central part there are many productive farms, and that region is well situated for agricultural purposes. The timber business has always been a leading one in certain parts of the township.

The Harman family is an old one in the township, the progenitor of which was captured by the Indians, and his life and character has been given elsewhere. Through this country it will be remembered went the great Catawba war trail, running north and south, and passing directly through Ligonier valley. This brought about a great many Indian depredations from which other parts of Westmoreland county were exempt. It also suffered a great deal from the Indians during the Revolutionary period.

Stahlstown is the leading village, and has never been incorporated, though it is one of the oldest towns in the Ligonier valley. It is built in nearly the center of the township, and on ground originally owned by Leonard Stahl, from whom it took its name.

One of the leading churches in Cook township is the Pleasant Grove Presbyterian Church. It is about midway and a short distance east on the road leading from Donegal to Ligonier. James Power preached there as early as April 25, 1785. This was when Fairfield, Ligonier and Wheatfield were all in one charge. The ministers of a later period have been named in connection with other churches in Ligonier valley. They were James Hughes, George Hill, Rev. Swan, etc. The first edifice of this congregation was built of logs, but in 1832 a substantial stone building was constructed, which is yet standing and is in splendid condition. Its old style of architecture makes it one of the handsomest churches in Ligonier valley. It was built by a stonemason named John Lane, who lived and died in Donegal township. For many years the Methodist Church has perhaps been the leading denomination in Cook township. They have now a beautiful edifice in the village of Stahlstown. The United Presbyterian Church, about two miles northwest of Stahlstown, was founded in the early years of last century, and has been spoken of heretofore in connection with its renowned pastor, Rev. Joseph Scroggs.

A prominent family in Cook township is the Weaver family, descendants of William Weaver, who was born in Somerset county, September 18, 1809. His grandfather, William Weaver, had been a minister in the German Reformed Church, and a native of Germany. He settled in Sewickley township, and his son by the same name became a millwright and followed his trade in Somerset county. In 1812 he removed to Weaver's Mill district, in Cook township, and spent the remainder of his life there. Still later he built a flouring mill, and this in connection with saw milling and farming gave him employment for the rest of his days. He left a large number of children who are yet prominent people in Cook township, and elsewhere in the county. The Weaver family are still farther back descended from Rev. John M. Weber who was one of our early ministers.

The township has nine schools, with 256 pupils enrolled.


Bell township was erected out of parts of Loyalhanna and Salem townships, and was organized in 1853. It is bounded on the north by the Kiskiminetas river; on the east and southwest by Loyalhanna township; on the south by Salem township, and on the west by Huntingdon township. On the northeastern boundary is built the Pennsylvania railroad. Its principal stream besides the Kiskiminetas river is the Beaver run. This township is underlaid with coal, which is being mined. It has also large deposits of fire-clay from which fire-brick is manufactured. In former chapters we have spoken of the Carnahan blockhouse. It was built in this township by John Carnahan, and was for many years a refuge in time of Indian incursion, for himself and neighbors for miles around.

Among the early settlers were the Yockeys, Carnahans, Callens, Marshalls, Whitfields, Clawsons, Ewings, Hiens, Rumbaughs, Taylors Alcorns, Neelys, McKees, Hiltys, Thompsons, Kuhns, Blairs, Pauls, Kennedys, Glasses, Klines, McDivitts, McCauleys, Walkers, Beattys, Gartleys, Montgomerys, Bowmans, Householders, Robinsons, McConnells, Elwoods, Wolfords, Bears, Huffs, Longs, etc.

The German Reformed and Lutheran Churches established a congregation nearly a mile north of Helena, on a bluff overlooking the Kiskiminetas river near the site of an old Indian village called "Old Town." The land was donated by a farmer named Simon Hine. Upon it they established a church and a graveyard, and in 1803, a few years after the graveyard was in use, the neighbors hewed logs, each one on his own home, and hauled them to this point, and at a time fixed the entire neighborhood met to roll the logs together and build a church. But a dispute arose between the churches on the question as to whom the ground should be deeded. This dispute was never settled, and the logs were left to lie there untouched until they decayed. About 1810 Christopher Yockey, of the Reformed Church, gave a lot of ground about three miles southwest of this, and upon it a church was erected. The first Reformed pastor was John William Weber, who began preaching there about 1808, and continued until about 1816. His successor was William Weinel, who preached to them until 1838, in which year they built a very respectable church edifice of brick as a church building. The church cost $2,200. Both the Reformed and the Lutheran congregations were united in constructing this church. It was built by Matthew Callen and John Paul. Rev. Henry Knepper, a Reformed minister, preached here, though he lived in Kittanning and preached also in Butler. He remained attached to the charge till 1846. Rev. Voight also preached there, probably following Rev. Weinel. Rev. Samuel H. Giesey began preaching there in November 1848, and remained with them till 1855. He was followed by Rev. Thos. G. Apple in 1856 and 1857. During these years the charge had been connected with Greensburg. A separation took place in 1856. Rev. Apple was followed by Rev. Richard P. Thomas, who preached to them from April 1, 1858, to April 1, 1863. He was succeeded by Rev. T. J. Barkley, who remained till January 1, 1867. Rev. T. F. Stauffer served them from May, 1867, till September, 1861. The church has had much difficulty in procuring a separation from the Lutheran interests, and has not had regular pastors since. Rev. J. B. Welty, Rev. John McConnel and others have served them since 1874. The township has seven schools, and 192 pupils enrolled.


The application for the organization of this township had been in court for ten years, and was finally favorably considered on February 23, 1855. It was named in honor of William Penn, and was carved from portions of Hempfield, Franklin, Salem and North Huntingdon townships. Included within its bounds is the noted "Manor of Denmark," one of the two special reservations of our county that were set aside for the Penns exclusively. It is one of the most fertile townships in the county, and is bounded on the west by the Allegheny county line, on the south by North Huntingdon and Hempfield townships; on the east by Hempfield township, and on the north by Salem and Franklin townships. Across it runs the Forbes Road, as cut by Forbes in 1758 when on his way west to capture Fort Duquesne. The surface of the township is hilly, and the farms are well cultivated. It has an abundance of bituminous coal which is easily mined. The veins are generally over six feet in thickness, and have added greatly to the wealth of the township. One of the early settlers of the township was Andrew Byerly, whose exploits as a pioneer and Indian fighter have been considered elsewhere. Other early settlers were Balthazer Myers, the noted school teacher and preacher; the Ewings, Fritchmans, McWilliams, Kemerers, Brinkers, Finks, Knappenbergers. Keisters. Heislers, Snyders, Berlins, Lauffers, Gongawares. Waugamans, Blackburns, Millers, Walthours, Shusters, Sowashes, Newdorfers, Kifers, Klines. Clarks and others. In the early days the standard of education was not very high. The old time schoolmasters went around in the fall after the farmers had housed their corn, potatoes, etc., with a subscription book, and tried to raise the necessary number of scholars to remunerate them for their winter's teaching. The text-books used were the "New England Primer," "The United States Spelling Book," the "Western Calculator," and the Bible and Testament. The pupils, it is said, were each compelled to commit the catechism to memory. The writing department was exclusively by written copies at the top of the page, which were made by the master himself with a quill pen. "Setting copies," mending pens and whipping pupils occupied no small part of the school-teacher's time. The school hours were from eight in the morning until five in the evening, with an hour's recess at noon for dinner. In that day all who could not afford to pay the teacher for their tuition were neglected, and there were many in each township who did not attend school at all in their youth. Some, however, who did attend school who were too poor to pay their tuition, had their tuition paid by the county commissioners upon a certificate from the county officers that they were unable to pay, and notwithstanding that had gone to school.

The Reformed Lutheran Congregation in this township was organized about 1808 or 1809. The first ministers have been frequently named heretofore in connection with the church work in other townships. They were such as Rev. John William Weber, Michael John Steck and John Michael Steck and Rev. N. P. Hacke. The first church building was built by Peter Henkel as contractor, and he was to build a church thirty-eight by forty-six feet and was to receive $225 for the mason work. All the material needed in its erection was to be furnished him on the ground. The carpenter work was done by Jacob Dry, and his contract called for $600, which included the painting, glazing, etc. The work was begun on May 12, 1814. A debt on this church still remained as late as 1825, when it was paid in full by subscription. The church grounds were owned by Conrad Knappenberger and Jacob Brinker. the church was built without flues or chimneys, and they at first ran a stovepipe through a broken window-pane, and later made a hole through the side of the building. This is noted to show how little they knew of architecture in that day. Long after this, when the stovepipe had set the house on fire, though not sufficient to burn the building, a chimney was built, as it should have been in the beginning.

The Beulah United Presbyterian Church was situated on Byers Run, in the northwestern part of the township, and was organized in June, 1845. Its first minister was William Connor, who served them until 1858 and died in 1864. He was succeeded by Rev. Walkinshaw, T. F. Boyd, U. R. Rankin and others. The Presbyterians, Catholics and Methodists have each organizations in the present Penn borough.

Penn township has within its borders one of the most historic spots in western Pennsylvania, viz, the battlefield of Bushy Run, fought by the brave Swiss commander, Henry Bouquet. In August, 1883, the one hundred and twentieth anniversary of the battle was appropriately celebrated on the field. The battle having been described in the pages relative to the early history of the county, no further reference to it here is necessary.

The township has twenty-eight schools, with 1176 pupils enrolled.


The handsome little town of Manor is the outgrowth of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was finished in 1852 as a single track road, and up to that date was surrounded by forests, though fairly well settled by a colony of hardy pioneers. This section was known as Denmark Manor, being one of the two manors or estates procured from the heirs of William Penn. In 1783 Stofel Walthour built a mill on Brush creek, the first and only building for a number of years. Messrs. Ludwick, Miller and Berlin purchased the Ward farm and laid out the town of Manor in 1873, which was incorporated in 1884. It contains a Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, a fine school building, three hotels and twelve stores, two handle factories, a flour mill, a cement block factory and a National Bank. It is the terminal of the Manor Valley Railroad. One of its leading industries is the Beamer Handle Works, which manufactures all kinds of hickory handles. They are one of the leading handle factories in the state and ship their product to all of the eastern cities and states. It has four schools, with 176 pupils.


This town is located on the Pennsylvania Railroad, six miles west of Greensburg. It was laid out in 1859 by J. H. Oliver and the Penn Gas Coal Company. It was incorporated in 1865 by petition of its inhabitants, and although its incorporation was remonstrated against by its own citizens, on October 19th the court granted the prayer of the petitioners and its incorporation became complete. On Friday, November 2, 1865, they held their first borough election at the house of Ralph Pratt.

About 1854 George Seaner and J. H. Robinson purchased the land on which Penn Station is now located, and opened the North Side Pit, which they operated as a cart mine, shipping the coal to Pittsburgh, where they had a retail yard. In 1859 the South Side mine was opened by William Coleman, J. H. Robinson and others. John F. Wolf opened a general store in 1859. J. H. Oliver bought the meadow land lying between the railroad and Brush Creek and laid it out into lots, offering fifty dollars premium to those putting up houses. The first season J. C. Rankin built a hotel known as the Eisaman House. Few small boroughs have more industries within their midst than Penn. The large pipe works of the American Foundry and Pipe Company give employment to a large force of men. The Hockensmith Wheel and Mine Car Company is another large plant, the product of which goes to all parts of this country. The large coal beds of the Penn Gas Coal Company are a great source of wealth to the place. The mines are operated by electric mining appliances. There are three churches in this place: Methodist, Lutheran and Roman Catholic. It has four schools with 197 pupils enrolled.


The territory now comprising St. Clair township was originally a part of Fairfield township, and was separted (sic) from it in 1856. It was named in honor of the patron saint of Westmoreland county, Major General Arthur St. Clair. It is bounded on the north by Indiana county, on the east by Laurel Hill; on the south by Fairfield township, and on the west by the Conemaugh river. In territory it is the smallest township in the county. Its surface is generally hilly. The central part of the township is farther removed from the mountains and consequently is reasonable productive. The main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad passes along the bank of the Conemaugh river and through this township, and has built on it the towns of New Florence and Nineveh. It has four schools, and 138 pupils enrolled.


New Florence borough was incorporated on the 27th of May 1865, upon a petition of its leading citizens. It is located on the Conemaugh river and the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was laid out, we believe, by Judge Robert Given, formerly an associate judge of Westmoreland county. It is pleasantly located and has recently constructed a complete system of waterworks which conveys from the mountains near by an abundance of pure mountain water. 

The churches are the Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian and United Presbyterian. The borough has four schools, and 181 pupils enrolled.

Source: Pages 598-614, History of Westmoreland County, Volume 1, Pennsylvania by John N. Boucher, New York, the Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed August 2000 by Karen M. Shepler for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed by Karen M. Shepler for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)

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