Chronology of Western Pennsylvania -- to 1789

Created: Thursday, 14 March 2013 Last Updated: Thursday, 14 March 2013 Written by Carol Eddleman Print Email

From a series of four brochures entitled "Pittsburgh Frontier To Future."

14,225 B.C. - Primitive man occupies a rock shelter near Avella in present-day Washington Co. His remains are evidence of the oldest human habitation in the eastern United States.

1600 - The Monongahela People, a tribe of early Indians, dwell in the Pittsburgh region.

1656 - The Iroquois defeat the Erie tribe and claim Western Pennsyvlania by right of conquest.

1681 - William Penn receives a grant to the lands five degrees west of the Delawre River. They become known as Pennsylvania, or "Penn's Woods."

1682 - Rene' Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, claims the Mississippi basin for France.

1692 - A Dutchman, Arnout Viele, accompanies a group of Indians into the Ohio Valley and travels down the Allegheny and Ohio rivers. Viele is the first European known to visit the region.

1724 - Delaware and Shawnee Indians settle in the Allegheny River valley.

1729 - Pennsylvania trader John Hart is shot and killed along the Allegheny River.

1732 - Louis Thomas de Joncair~, a Frenchman, begins trade with Indians along the Allegheny.

1734 - The trader Peter Chartier lives with the Shawnee at present-day Tarentum on the Allegheny River.

1746 - George Croghan extends trade with the Indians to include Western Pennsyvlania.

1747, Nov. 6 - A group of Virginians forms the Ohio Company of Virginia and applies for land grants west of the mountains.

1748, Apr 28 - George Croghan conducts negotiations and distributes gifts to the Indians at Logstown (in the present day Ambridge, Beaver County).

1748, Aug. - Conrad Weiser, chief Pennsylvania adviser on Indian affairs, meets with Indians at Logstown and reinforces the Indians' ties with the English.

1749, June 15 - The French fear growing English economic influence in the Ohio valley and dispatch Celoron de Bienville to re-assert French power. Celoron buries a series of lead plates along the Allegheny and Ohio (rivers), claiming the area for France.

1750, Nov. 15 - Christopher Gist, an agent for the Ohio Land Company of Virginia, visits Shanopin's Town, on the left bank of the Allegheny (river) two miles above the Forks of the Ohio.

1753, Apr. - Under orders from the Marquis Duquesne, governor of New France, the French begin construction of Fort Presq' Isle (at the present day Erie, Erie County). Later work begins on Fort Le Boeuf (now Waterford in Erie County) on French Creek.

1753, July - Pennsylvania trader John Fraser abandons his post at Venango to the French and re-establishes at the mouth of Turtle Creek on the Monongahela River.

1753, Nov. 23 - George Washington, a 21 year old Virginia militia major, inspects the Forks of the Ohio. He is on his way to Fort Le Boeuf to deliver a letter from Governor Robert Dinwiddie (of Virginia) demanding that the French leave the territory claimed by England.

1753, Dec. 11 - Washington arrives at Le Boeuf and delivers Dinwiddie's letter. The French reject the Virginia demands.

1753, Dec. 30-31 - Washington and his guide Christopher Gist, returning from.their mission to Fort Le Boeuf, cross the ice-choked Allegheny above the Forks. Tragedy is narrowly averted when Washington falls into the river and is rescued by Gist.

1754, Feb. 17 - Captain William Trent arrives at the Forks of the Ohio to begin construction of the tiny Fort Prince for Virginia.

1754, Apr. 17 - Ensign Edward Ward and 41 workers surrender the Virginia fort to a force of French and Indians under the command of Captain Contrecoeur. The French begin to build a log fortification named Fort Duquesne in honor of the French colonial governor.

1754, May 28 - Washington, now a militia colonel, surprises and defeats a small French detachment led by Joseph Coulon de Jumonville on Chestnut Ridge above the present-day Uniontown (Fayette County).

1754, July 3-4 - Washington surrenders Fort Necessity, ten miles west of Uniontown, to a combined French and Indian force and retreats with honors of war.

1755, Feb. 19 - Major General Edward Braddock arrives in Virginia to take command of the British and colonial troops.

1755, June 7 - Braddock, with a force of 2500 leaves Fort Cumberland (Maryland) and begins a slow advance on Fort Duquesne. Washington serves as the general's civilian aide-de-camp.

1755, June 16 - On Washington's advice, Braddock decides to push on to Fort Duqeuesne with 1200 picked troops.

1755, July 9 - Braddock's expedition comes to a bloody end when his troops are defeated by the French and Indians near the mouth of Turtle Creek. Braddock is mortally wounded in the battle, and the French are left in full control of the Forks of the Ohio.

1757, June - William Pitt returns to power in London as the king's first minister and assumes responsibility for prosecuting the colonial war.

1758, Mar 4 - Brigadier General John .Forbes is placed in command of the proposed expedition against Fort Duquesne.

1758, July - Colonel Henry Bouquet, Forbes's second in command, gathers a force of 6500 British and colonial troops and establishes an advance base at Raystown (later became Bedford, Bedford County).

1758, July 25 - Forbes decides to march directly across Pennsylvania to Fort Duquesne, (his route, later called Forbes Road).

1758, Sept. 3 - Work begins on Fort Ligonier on the banks of Loyalhanna Creek.

1758, Sept. 14 - British Major James Grant, at the head of 800 troops, is defeated by the French just east of Fort Duquesne. The site becomes known as Grant's Hill.

1758, Nov. 24 - The French, deserted by their Indian allies, and outnumbered by the British, blow up their already crumbling Fort Duquesne, and flee.

1758, Nov. 25 - Forbes enters the ruins of Fort Duquesne.

1758, Nov. 26 - The British troops celebrate a Thanksgiving.

1758, Nov. 27 - Forbes writes to William Pitt, naming his recent conquest "Pittsburgh" in honor of the British leader.

1758, Dec. - Colonel Hugh Mercer begins construction of a temporary fort to house the British winter garrison and protect it from French counterattacks.

1759, Mar. 18 - Mercer's Fort is virtually complete, but French threats continue.

1759, Aug. 29 - Forbe's successor, Brigadier General John Stanwix, arrives in Pittsburgh to supervise the building of a new fort. Captain Harry Gordon organizes the workers and procures contruction materials for the project.

1759, Sep. 3 - Work begins on Fort Pitt, the largest of the British frontier fortifications. Wood is supplied by a mill on Saw Mill Run, brick is fired from local clay, and stone comes from quarries in the area. Other material must be hauled over the mountains from the east.

1759, Oct. 24-25 - General Stanwix confers with the Indian leaders at Pittsburgh in an attempt to secure their support and friendship.

1760, Mar. - Fort Pitt, although not complete, is ready for occupancy by the British troops.

1760, Jun 29 - General Robert Monckton succeeds Stanwix in command of the fort. He orders Colonel Bouquet and 500 troops north to secure British communications with Lake Erie.

1760, Oct. - Bouquet assumes command of Fort Pitt.

1761, Nov. - Pittsburgh's first school starts in Colonel James Burd's house on Grant Hill (the present day Oakland section of Pittsburgh).

1762, Jan. 9 - A flood inundates Fort Pitt, badly damaging the Ohio and Monongahela bastions. At the flood's peak, some four feet of water cover the fort's parade ground.

1763, May 30 - Indians, taking part in Pontiac's rebellion. attack settlers in the vicinity of Pittsburgh. Captain Simon Ecuyer. commandant of Fort Pitt, burns the homes surrounding the fort and orders all villages into the fort for protection.

1763, June 22 - The Indians begin a lengthy siege of Fort Pitt.

1763, Aug. 5-6 - Colonel Henry Bouquet, in charge of a relief column, defeats the Indians at the Battle of Bushy Run. The victory lifts the siege at Fort Pitt, but Indian unrest continues.

1764, Sept. 18 - Colonel Bouquet arrives again at Fort Pitt in command of an expedition against the Ohio Indians.

1764, Oct. 25 - Bouquet's 1500 man army reaches the Forks of the Muskingum (river, in Ohio). The British show of military strength secures the return of white hostages held by the Indians and brings peace to the frontier.

1764, Oct. - A brick redoubt, now commonly referred to as the "Blockhouse," is completed outside the walls of Fort Pitt. It still stands today as the oldest building in Western Pennsy:vania.

1765, Mar. 6 - At Sideling Hill, James Smith and his "Black Boys" attack a pack train trade goods for the Indians. The frontiersmen know the supplies include ammunition which the Indians will use against white settlers.

1766, June 18 - George Croghan leaves Fort Pitt for the west in command of a major trading expedition.

1768, Oct. 24 - A conference is held with the Indians at Fort Stanwix (now Rome, New York). By the terms of the resulting treaty, the Indians relinquish all claims to the area east of the Allegheny and south of the Ohio River. The Penns reserve part of the land around Pittsburgh, divide it into two "manors," and open the area to white settlement.

1770, Oct. 17 - George Washington stops here on his way to the Ohio country to inspect his land holdings.

1772, Oct. 12 - The British withdraw their troops from Fort Pitt and sell the already decaying fortification for £ 50.

1773, Feb. 26 - The Pennsylvania assembly forms Westmoreland County, which includes all of southwestern Pennsylania, and Pittsburgh.

1773, Aug. 12 - John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, Governor of Virginia, visits Pittsburgh and is convinced that his Province of Virginia can establish jurisdiction in the area.

1774, Jan. 6 - Dr. John .Connolly, serving as agent for Lord Dunmore, proclaims possession of Fort Pitt for Virginia, and sparks a boundary dispute with Pennsylvanie.

1774, Jan. 24 - Pennsylvania authorities arrest Connolly and jail him in Hannas Town (then the county seat of Westmoreland County). He is later released after promising to appear before the Westmoreland County court's next session.

1774, Mar. 28 - Dr. Connolly returns to Pittsburgh and forms a militia group to take over Fort Pitt. On April 8 with 200 sympathizers, Connolly appears in court at Hannas Town, where he re-asserts Virginia's claims to Western Pennsyvlania. Later Connolly and his followers give Fort Pitt the new name of Fort Dunmore.

1774, Oct. - Virginia troops fight in Dunmore's War against the Indians.

1774. Dec. 6 - Lord Dunmore signs a writ adjourning the court of Augusta County Va., from Staunton to Fort Dunmore (Pittsburgh); some sources feel that this date is 11 Oct 1773 when the District of West Augusta was created as an extension of Augusta County, Virginia. Settlers were then forbidden to execute any Acts of the Pennsyvlania government.

1775, Feb. 21 - The first court session of the District of West Augusta, Virginia was fomally held at Fort Dunmore.

1775, May 16 - News of the outbreak of the Revolutionary War reaches southwestern Pennsylvania and the area answers with patriotic ferver. A group of Pittsburghers met in Semple's Tavern to support "the spirited behavior of their brethren in New England, and .... approve of their opposing the invaders of American rights and privileges .... "

1775, June - Western Pennsylvanians join a Maryland militia company to reinforce Washington's army outside Boston.

1775, July 25 - John Connolly, discredited largely for his continued support of his mother country, leaves western Pennsyvlania for Virginia, and the border dispute is quieted for a time.

1775, Aug. 25 - Pittsburgh hosts its own "tea party" when a band of patriots sieze and burn tea owned by merchants Joseph Symonds and John Campbell.

1775, Sept. 11 - Captain John Neville enters Pittsburgh with 100 Virginia militia to take command of Fort Pitt.

1775, Oct. 7 - By the Treaty of Pittsburgh, Indians agree to return white captives, settle the issues of Dunmore's War, and observe the Ohio river boundary. The treaty also secures Indian neutrality in the colonial struggle with Great Britain.

1776, July - Under orders from Congress, a battalion of Continental army troops is formed in Western Pennsylvania.

1776, Oct. - A second Treaty of Pittsburgh re-establishes the neutrality of the Indians.

1776, Dec. 4 - Constituted as the Eighth Pennsyvlania Regiment, western Pennsylvania troops receive orders to join the American forces near Philadelphia.

1777, Jan. - The Eighth Pennsylvania crosses the mountains in a heroic winter march that costs them the life of Colonel Aeneas Mackay and fifty men.

1777, June 1 - Brigadier General Edward Hand takes command of Fort Pitt, now a possession of the young United States.

1778, May 12 - Colonel George Rogers Clark leaves Redstone (now Brownsville in Fayette County) in command of an expedition to the Illinois country. He captures the villages of Kaskaskia, Cahokia, and Vincennes.

1778, Aug. 6 - Brigadier General Lachlan McIntosh arrives at Fort Pitt to begin preparations for an expedition against the Ohio Indians. On Oct. 8 he moves his headquarters to the new Fort McIntosh at the mouth of the Beaver Rber. On Nov. 4 his expedition departs for Ohio.

1779, May - Colonel Daniel Brodhead succeeds McIntosh as commander in the west. On Aug. 11 he leaves Fort Pitt with 600 men to advance upon the Seneca Indians of the upper Allegheny valley.

1780, Sept. 23 - The boundary agreement between Pennsyvlania and Virginia is finally settled. The Mason-Dixon line was then extended 5 degrees west, and this then placed Pittsburgh within the borners of Pennsylvania.

17Bl, Mar. 28 - Washington County is formed from Westmoreland County and embraced all lands lying south of the Monongahela River excluding Pitt Township and the City of Pittburgh which remained part of Westmoreland County until Allegheny County was formed in 1788.

1781, July 5 - The Meridian Line of the Mason and Dixon Line was finally run and marked by David Rittenhouse and Andrew Porter.

1781, Oct. 19 - General Cornwallis surrenders to the American forces at Yorktown, Virginia.

1781, Nov. 6 - Troops at Fort Pitt celebrate the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

1782, Apr. 13 - The Pennsylvania General Assembly passes an act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, allowing slave owners in the Province until January 1, 1783 to register their slaves.

1782, July 13 - The British and Indians attack and burn Hannas Town, the seat of Westmoreland County. On this date also, the German Lutheran Church, the first church in Pittsburgh, holds services in a small log cabin at Wood and Diamond Streets.

1783, Jan. 20, Sept. 3 - THE TREATY OF PARIS between the United States of America, Great Britain, France, Spain, and Holland recognizes the Independence of the Thirteen United States.

1783, Mar. 12 - Pennsyvlania sets aside 720,000 acres of "Depreciation Lands" north of the Allegheny and Ohio rivers as compension to Pennsylvania Revolutionary War veterans.

1783, Sept. 3 - The definitive treaty of peace is signed in Paris with Great Britain giving the United States all territory between the Ohio River and the Great Lakes. Congress takes steps to end the conflict with the Indians in the region.

1783, Sept. 6 - Johann Schoepf arrives in Pittsburgh. He is the first person to cross the Allegheny (mountains) in a two-wheeled carriage.

1783, Sept. 26 - Fayette County is formed from Westmoreland County with its county seat at Uniontown.

1784, Jan. - The Penn family sells its lands within the Manor of Pittsburgh. Isaac Craig and Stephen Bayard buy three acres in what is now downtown Pittsburgh.

1786, July 29 - John Scull and Joseph Hall print "The Pittsburgh Gazette," the first newspaper in western Pennsyvlania.

1787, Feb. 28 - Pennsylvania grants a charter incorporating the Pittsburgh Academy, later to become the University of Pittsburgh. H. H. Brackenridge is one of the school's founders.

1787, Sept. 29 - Pennsylvania incorporates a Presbyterian congregation in Pittsburgh. Later, on property donated by the Penns, the first Presbyterian church is built at Wood Street between Sixth and Oliver Avenues.

1788, July 3 - Bimonthly mail service begins between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.

1788, Sept. 24 - Pittsburgh becomes the county seat of the newly formed Allegheny County. It is formed from parts of Westmoreland and Washington counties.

1788, Nov. 19 - Lots are sold in part of the Reserve Tract across the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh, they form the basis for the new town of Allegheny (City).

1789, Nov. - William Turnbull and Peter Marmie produce the first iron west of the Allegheny mountains at their Alliance Furnace on Jacob's Creek in Fayette County.

1791, Mar. 1 - The first United States census (of 1790) shows Pittsburgh's population as 376 people. Allegheny County has 10,309 residents.

1791, Dec. 16 - Fort Pitt has fallen into disrepair. Indian troubles on the frontier prompt the War Department to issue orders to Major Isaac Craig to construct a new fort in Pittsburgh. On May I, 1792 troops occupy the recently completed Fort Fayette, a log stockade on the Allegheny river at the prsent-day Penn Avenue and Tenth Street.

1792, July 20 - General Anthony Wayne assembles troops of the Legion of the United States in Pittsburgh before marching west to put down Indian uprisings. Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers in 1794 ends the threat of Indian raids around western Pennsyvlania.

1793 - Volume III of Hugh Henry Brackenridge's novel, "Modern Chivalry," is published here in Pittsburgh. It is the first book printed west of the Allegheny mountains. The Shadyside Furnace, erected on Two Mile Run by George Anshutz, produces the first iron in Allegheny Co.

1793, Oct. 14 - Jacob Myers begins regular keelboat service between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The business proves unprofitable and is discontinued in 1794.

1794, Apr. 22 - Pittsburgh is incorporated as a Borough by the Pennsyvlania legislature.

1794, July 17 - A group of Western Pennsylvanians, outraged by the excise tax placed on Whiskey, destroys "BOWER HILL," the residence of John Neville. Neville was the excise collector for the area. On Aug 1 the whiskey insurrectionists met at Braddock's Field to plan further action, but on the following day the rebels and militia march peacefully through the town. In November advance troops of a 13,000-man army arrive in Pittsburgh to quell the uprising. Arrests are made, and federal authority is re-established in the west.

1796, Feb. 9 - Greene County is formed from the lower half of Washington County with the town of Waynesburg as its county seat.

1796 - John Wrenshall organizes the Methodist Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. Meetings are held in the old Presbyterian Church, and later in the barracks at Fort Pitt.

1797, June 24 - The Pittsburgh Gazette announces that it is printed for the first time, on this date, on paper manufactured west of the mountains. Also during this year Isaac Craig and James O'Hara establish a glass works on Coal Hill and begin to make window glass and bottles.

1798, May 19 - The row galley (a sea going vessel propelled mainly by oars, sometimes with the aid of sails) President Adams, intended for use against the Spanish on the lower Mississippi, is launched at Pittsburgh. On Mar. 25 a second row galley, the "Senator Ross," is launched here.

1798, Oct. 26 - Friends of Thomas McKean of Philadelphia gather at Smur's tavern in Pittsburgh to celebrate his election as governor. And Pittsburgh's first courthouse, a two-story brick building is completed.