North Huntingdon Township - Irwin Borough.
North Huntingdon was not only an original township. organized April 6, 1773, but it was the parent township of both the others bearing the same name, with the prefixes East and South. It is situated on the main line of the Pennsylvania railroad, and has stations at Manor, Irwin, Larimer, Carpenter and at Trafford City. The principal stream of water is Brush Creek, which flows through the township, a stream famous in our earlier history. It was larger formerly than now, and the first mills in the western part of cur county were built on its banks. The entire eastern portion of North Huntingdon township contains an abundance of bituminous coal, which has been the chief industry of the township for the last thirty or forty years. This coal is a part of the famous Pittsburgh seam. The principal town in the township is the borough of Irwin. Smaller places in addition to those named above are Jacksonville, Circleville, Stewartsville and Robbins' Station.
Up until 1852, when the Pennsylvania railroad was built, the chief industry was agriculture. Since then it has been one of the leading townships in the county in the production of coal. "he first settlement in North Huntingdon township was made shortly after Pontiac's war. Among the early settlers were The Marchands, Studebakers, Whiteheads, Saams, Sowashes, Harrolds, Millers, Kunkles, Larimers, etc. They were mostly of German extraction.
Colonel John Irwin and his brother James were among the earliest settlers, and the progenitors of the well-known Irwin family, one of whom in after years founded the town of Irwin. Colonel John Irwin was associate judge of Westmoreland county in an early day. Upon his arrival in Westmoreland county he traded with the Indians, and later took up a large tract of land, including that on which the borough of Irwin now stands.
Shortly after the Irwins there came a large number of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians who settled along Brush Creek, and to the north of that stream. Among these were the McCormicks, Osbornes, Boyds, Sloans, Coulters, Ewings, Greens, Wilsons, Larimers, Hindmans, Marshalls, Simpsons, Duffs, Corrys, Grays, Temples, and others. Many of these did not come until after the close of the Revolutionary war, but all of them were there prior to 1796.
Mathias Cowan is entitled to the honor of being the first settler of the township. He was married to a Miss Gray, and came to Westmoreland county in a covered cart, in which they lived until he had built his log cabin in the wilderness. Not long after their arrival his brother-in-law, Abner Gray, was captured by the Indians and taken into captivity. Thomas Marshall, very early in the history of the township, located on lands that were afterwards owned by Colonel McFarland. There were two blockhouses in the township. One was on the farm lately owned by John Gaut, and the other on land owned by Britnel Robbins, who was an ancestor of Joseph Robbins, its present owner.
The Long Run Presbyterian Church was organized under the supervision of the Red Stone Presbytery, about 1790. Its present edifice is of brick, and was built in 186. Near by is the graveyard, and these are a few of the names, with the dates of birth and death, which may be deciphered from the mossy headstones: Catherine Gregory, died December 18, 1833, aged 92. George Miller, died November 11, 1843, aged 86. Sarah Marchand Scull, died June 8, 1845, born March 1, 1819. John Scull, died February 8, 1828, aged 63. Robert Taylor, died August 6, 1824, aged 84. John McCurdy, died May 12, 1825, aged 54. James Cowan, died October 11, 1826, aged 54. Mathew Cowan died December 23, 1819, aged 84. William Larimer died September 18, 1838, aged 67. His wife Martha died January 13, 1798, aged 27. Anne Larimer, second wife of William Larimer, born May 8, 1783, died August 23, 1853. James Cavett, born June 7, 1778, died February 22, 1872, aged 94 years. Jacob Cort, died October 13, 1853, aged 47. Catharine Hufnagle, died February 21, 1843, aged So. George Kennedy, died 1841, aged 70. John Boyd, died May 18, 1840, aged 78. Charles Stewart, died July 2, 1836, aged 62. Robert Marshall, died January 28, 1829, aged 63. Daniel Wattirs, died July 8. 1838, aged 51. Rev. Christopher Hodgson. born September 12, 1811, died March 25, 1874. William Caldwell, Sr., died December 7, 1872, aged 79. John Cooper, died 1820, aged 84. Jane Cooper, his wife, died 1793, aged 43. Benjamin Byerly, born May 15, 1791, died January 3, 1864.
Bethel Church, a United Presbyterian organization, was founded in 1796and 1797, and was the third of its denomination in the county. The first log edifice was replaced in 1836 by a building which stood until 1881, when the present structure was erected. Its first pastor was Matthew Henderson.
The Reformed Church was organized in this township in 1853, a few months before the town of Irvin was laid out. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Irwin was organized in 1874, by Rev.. A. H. Bartholomew.
The First Presbyterian Church of Irwin was organized in 1870, by Reverends Carothers and Harbison, with about forty members and four ruling elders. For long years previous the place had been used as an outpost of Long Run Church, in the Red Stone Presbytery. As the Presbyterians in that community increased, the cry for a church nearer home resulted in the organization above referred to.
The Methodist Episcopal congregation was formed in 1859, by Rev. W. P. Blackburn as first pastor. Originally it was only a circuit appointment, but is now a station of the Pittsburg Conference, with a large membership.
The United Presbyterian congregation of Irwin was organized October 17 1814, from a part of Bethel congregation, Bethel being situated about two and one-half miles southwest of Irwin. The church edifice Was erected in 1868.
The Church of the Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic) of Irwin is a substantial brick structure with the priest's residence and frame school building adjoining. Before its erection Catholic services were held in the schoolhouse and at private dwellings.
The schools of North Huntingdon township eagerly accepted the free school system by an almost unanimous vote. At that time it contained six rude schoolhouses, but now within the same limits are thirty-nine schoolhouses, not including those in the borough of Irwin.
Irwin borough is located twenty-two miles east of Pittsburgh, on the Pennsylvania railroad. and is situated in the center of the bituminous coal region of that section. When the railroad was first built, land upon which it now stands Was covered with timber, mainly large white oak. In 1844 there was only one house there, which was owned by Thomas Shaw. John Irwin, founder of the town, laid out the first plan of lots in September, 1853. The building-up of the town of Irvin has been brought about by the coal industry. Shortly after the Pennsylvania railroad was built, Thomas A. Scott and William Larimer began to open up coal mines and ship coal on the railroad to distant markets. This business they carried on until 1856. when they sold out to the Westmoreland Coal Company, which had been incorporated in July, 1854. It is now and has been for almost a half a century one of the largest coal mining companies in Pennsylvania. Its chief incorporators were General William Larimer, who was the largest stockholder, Thomas A. Scott and John Covode, all of whom have since become eminent in our history.
The town of Irwin was incorporated on the 14th of November, 1864. The principal leaders in the work of incorporation were John McCormick, John McWilliams, Derwin Taylor, H. F. Ludwick, S. C. Remsburg, Abner Cort, J. J. Hurst, and others. It has steadily increased until it has now (1905) a population of 3,400 exclusive of North Irwin, which is built contiguous to it and has a population of about five hundred. Its principal industries are the Irvin Iron Foundry; the Crescent Brewery, established by home capital in 1903: a distillery recently built: a flouring mill, and planing mills: artificial ice plant, and an extensive milk-can factory. It has also a newspaper of extensive local circulation, the Republican-Standard. The banks of the borough are the First National, organized in 1892, with $3o,000 capital, and the Citizens' National, organized in 1900 with the same capital. They have a fine school building containing fifteen rooms, which cost about $3,000, and was erected in 1890.
The Methodist Episcopal congregation built a frame building in 1861, and in 1880 erected a new building which served them till 1888, at which time the present structure, costing $18,000, was erected. It has in it a large pipe organ donated by Mr. Andrew Carnegie. The German Reformed congregation erected their first church in 1853, and their present building in 1889. The Lutheran congregation built a church in 1877, which served until 1901, when they erected a superior pressed-brick building of octagon shape, costing $17,000. To this church Mr.. Carnegie gave the one-half of the cost of a pipe organ in 1905.
The Roman Catholic congregation erected their first building in 1865, and in 1870 added thereto, at the same time providing for a pastor's residence. Nearby is a convent building erected in 1876, and in 1902 they erected a fine school building.
The United Presbyterian congregation built a good frame church which has since been remodeled. The Primitive Methodist people erected a frame church in 1890. The Presbyterians are a strong organization in Irvin and have a commodious church edifice. The Swedish Lutherans built a church in 1877, and in 1898 erected their present two-stare church. The Welsh Baptists also have an organization at Irwin, and worship in a frame church.
The farm known as "Brush Hill" was originally patented by Colonel John Irwin. It. lies just outside the borough limits of Irwin. The first house built by Colonel Irwin was a log structure, which was burned to the ground. He replaced it with a frame dwelling, which was struck by lightning and totally destroyed. In the years 1i92-93 he caused to be erected the present substantial stone building, which remains today practically as he left it. In 1882 George R. Scull remodelled the interior and made a modern house of it, also tearing down the stone outbuilding, which had been the slaves' quarters, and the connecting open passages or piazza, over which the house servants' rooms had been. Every wall in the house is of stone, and the floor framing is of twelve inch square solid oak, dressed with the broad-axe by hand. It stands well back from the old Pittsburgh and Philadelphia pike, in an ample grove. Old Fort Walthour was quite near Brush Hill. and was frequently a refuge from the Indian attacks in the old days. It has been considered elsewhere and need not be more than mentioned here.
The township has thirty-nine schools, with 1401 pupils enrolled.
Source: Page(s) 515-518, History of Westmoreland County, Volume I, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed August 2008 for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed by Nathan Zipfel for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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