Transcribed by Donna E. Mohney. For an explanation and caution about this transcription, please read this page.
SURNAMES APPEARING IN THIS CHAPTERADAMS, AGNEW, ANDERSON, ARMSTRONG, ASH, ATWELL, AYRES, BARNHART, BARTLEY, BASSE, BAUMGARTNER, BEATTY, BEIGHLE, BELL, BLACK, BRANDON, BROWN, CAMPBELL, CARSON, CHRISTY, CONWAY, COOPER, COULTER, COVERT, CRAIG, CRAWFORD, CRISWELL, CRUIKSHANK, CUMBERLAND, CUNNINGHAM, DENNY, DODDS, DOUGLASS, DUFFY, DUNCAN, EKIN, ELLIOTT, FINDLEY, FLEMING, FLICK, FRYOR, FULTON, FUNK, GARVIN, GIBSON, GILLELAND, GILLESPIE, GLENN, GLOVER, GRAHAM, GROSSMAN, GROUT, HALL, HANLON, HARBISON, HARPER, HARSHMAN, HARTER, HARVEY, HAYS, HAZLETT, HEMPHILL, HILLIARD, HOGE, HULTZ, HUMPHREY, IRVINE, JOHNSTON, KEARNS, KELLEY, LOFFER, LOGAN, LOWRIE, LOWREY, MAGEE, MAHARRY, MARSHALL, MARTIN, MAXWELL, MCBRIDE, MCCALLEN, MCCANDLESS, MCCLYMONDS, MCCOLLUM, MCCONNELL, MCCURDY, MCDAVITT, MCDERMOTT, MCDONALD, MCJUNKIN, MCKEE, MCKEEVER, MCKINNEY, MCLEAN, MCLEOD, MCMICHAEL, MCMURRY, MCNEES, MEALS, MEEKER, MILLER, MITCHELL, MORRIS, MORRISON, MORROW, MUHLEISEN, MURRIN, NASH, NEYMAN, O'DONNELL, PARCHMENT, PARKS, PIERCE, PISOR, PLANTS, RAMSEY, RANKIN, RAPP, RATHBUN, REDICK, REED, RIPPY, ROBB, ROEBLING, ROSEBROUGH, ROSENBERRY, RUSSELL, SARVER, SCHNEIDER, SCOTT, SEATON, SHIELDS, SHIRA, SIMMERS, SLATOR, SLOAN, SMITH, SNYDER, STEVENSON, STEWART, STINCHCOMB, STINETORF, STOOLFIER, STRAWIG, STUDEBAKER, SULLIVAN, THOMAS, THOMPSON, WADDLE, WALLACE, WARD, WASSON, WATSON; WELSH, WHITMIRE, WIGFIELD, WILLARD, WILSON, WOOLFORD, WRIGHT, ZEIGLER,
The first white man who is positively known to have built a habitation within the present limits of Butler County was James GLOVER.* He was a sturdy character, a blacksmith, and a Revolutionary soldier, who had, after the close of the great struggle for independence, found his way to Pittsburgh, where he located and followed his trade. GLOVER was fond of hunting, and he relieved the monotony of labor in his little shop by making long expeditions into the wilderness in search of the larger varieties of game and wild animals, such as deer and bear, which at that time abounded. In one of these hunting tours, he entered the region now known as Butler County, then an unbroken forest, and with as wild a solitude as could be found in Western Pennsylvania. He discovered a deer lick in what is now Adams Township, and, in the fall of 1792, he built a cabin near it, which he continued to occupy, though with some intermissions, until the settlement of the country began, a few years later. His object was almost solely that of hunting. He saw frequently as many as forty deer come at a time to the lick, and no doubt this solitary pioneer sportsman gloried in the acquisition of many trophies of his skill as a marksman. He was never molested or annoyed by the Indians, and passed as peaceful and pleasant a life in his lonely quarters as was possible. In 1795, he cleared a little land around his primitive hunting lodge, and, in 1796, entered 400 acres of land (including the farms now owned by Samuel J. MARSHALL and the heirs of William H. GILLELAND), and built a log cabin, which was more substantial than the first, and intended to be a permanent habitation, He was obliged to go fourteen miles toward Pittsburgh to get neighbors to assist him in building.
* James GLOVER was of Holland Dutch descent: was born in Essex County, N. J. where he lived until the breaking out of the Revolutionary war. At that time, being of suitable age, and patriotically disposed, he enlisted in the colonial army. He served his first term of duty in the New Jersey line, and, on its expiration, enlisted in the Pennsylvania line, the expiration of his former term of service finding him in this State or colony. He served until the close of the war; was at the battle of Princeton, at Germantown, with WASHINGTON crossing the Delaware, and was one of the soldiers who passed the memorable and terrible winter at Valley Forge. He was a very skilled blacksmith, and was engaged much of the time as an armorer. His pure patriotism was attested by the fact that he was among those who steadfastly refused to draw pay from the Government for services rendered. After the close of the war, he went with his wife to Pittsburgh, and there followed his trade. His shop was upon Diamond alley, between Market and Wood streets. After a few years, he purchased a farm on the north side of the Allegheny River, and took up his residence upon it. This farm is now in the heart of Allegheny City, and some of the finest buildings of the busy town stand upon the ground where GLOVER followed agricultural pursuits. He lived to see the city built up, but realized very little from it pecuniarily. Shortly after the close of the war of 1812, he leased the farm in perpetuity for $75 per year, and that amount is now received annually by some of his heirs, one city lot paying the rental. This lease of GLOVER's, and one or two others, operated to bring about prohibitory legislation in the state of Pennsylvania, so that leasing in perpetuity is now an impossibility. Mr. GLOVER died on the place where he settled, in Adams Township, in September, 1844, aged ninety-one years. His family consisted of two daughters-- Mary and Nancy. Mary married the Rev. Daniel MCLEAN, for many years a resident of Crawford County; and Nancy married Barnet GILLELAND in 1802, who with his father, settled in Butler County, at the locality now known as BUHL's Mill, in 1796.
In 1790, a party of young men from the vicinity of Greensburg, Westmoreland County, went on a hunting and exploring expedition, which eventually took two of them into what is now Worth Township. Arriving at LOGAN's Ferry, on the Allegheny, between Pittsburgh and the site of Freeport, they heard reports of Indian depredations in the country to the northward, which induced all but the two to which we have alluded -- David STUDEBAKER and Abraham SCHNEIDER -- to turn back. The reports were of course without foundation, for there were no whites north of the river on whom the Indians could wreak their hatred, even had they been possessed of it. The young men mentioned pushed on through the forest, encamped at night near the site of Butler borough, [p. 29] and the next day, traveled as far north as Worth Township, and met a band of Indians, who acted very friendly toward them, and conducted them to their camping-place, about a mile and a half north of the site of Mechanicsburg. They soon after returned to their homes in Westmoreland, but subsequently returned, built a cabin where George ARMSTRONG now lives, and occupied it from September to Christmas, 1793, a sister of David STUDEBAKER's coming with them to keep house.*
* See chapter of Worth Township for a more detailed statement.
Peter MCKINNEY, who had been a Revolutionary soldier, and afterward became quite a noted hunter, has always been claimed by his family to have located in Butler County in 1792. The scene of his "squatter" improvement was in that part of Old Connoquenessing now included in the limits of Forward.* One of his children is said to have been born there in 1792. MCKINNEY became the founder of Petersville.
* See chapter on Connoquenessing Township.
A number of other hunters, explorers, land-seekers and "squatters" were in the county during the years from 1790- 1796.
There are, however, few well-authenticated instances of settlement in the county prior to 1796, in which year those who desired to take up lands northeast of the Allegheny first had perfect assurance of safety from Indian molestation. We think, however, that, by the close of 1796, or at least the end of the following year, settlers were to be found within the areas included in every one of the present townships of the county. The settlement was certainly quite rapid. The definite dates of the arrival of the first pioneers in each of the present subdivisions of the county have not all been preserved, but, in the list which we here present, they are all stated in cases of which we feel a reasonable certainty of their correctness. Where they did not occur, it may safely be inferred that the date was prior to 1800. The list presents only a general view of the settlement of the county, and reference should be had to the supplementary chapters upon the townships for extended accounts.
Buffalo -- George BELL, Robert ELLIOT, 1796; Benjamin SARVER, Joseph SIMMERS, John HARBISON, Robert CARSON, Thomas FLEMING.
Clinton -- Patrick HARVEY was the first settler here, as well as the pioneer of Old Buffalo. He selected his land in 1793, cleared a small portion in 1794, and brought his family to the location in 1795. George STINCHCOMB and George PLANTS settled in 1796. Thomas WATSON, Revolutionary soldier, settled in 1797.
Middlesex -- George HAYS, 1793; James HARBISON, James HALL, William HULTZ, "squatters" of 1793; Matthew WIGFIELD, 1796; James PARKS, Joseph FLICK, James FULTON, Samuel RIPPY, Joseph and Thomas LOGAN.
Adams -- James GLOVER, James IRVINE, 1796; Adam JOHNSTON, Robert MCCANDLESS, William CRISWELL, Timothy WARD, Moses MEEKER, Joshua STOOLFIER, William ROSEBROUGH.
Cranberry -- Benjamin JOHNSON, Samuel DUNCAN, Alex RAMSEY, 1796; Matthew GRAHAM, Benjamin GARVIN, 1797,
Winfield -- Jeremiah SMITH, 1796; Andrew CRUIKSHANK, 1798; Thomas HARTER, William HAZLETT, Jacob HARSHMAN.
Jefferson -- Patrick GRAHAM, 1796; Andrew STANWIG, Benjamin THOMAS, William WRIGHT.
Penn -- Clark RATHBUN, 1796; Robert BROWN, 1797; John RANKIN, 1805; John MAHARRY, Thomas LOGAN, 1804; Thomas BARTLEY.
Forward -- Peter MCKINNEY, 1792; Barnett GILLELAND, Joseph ASH, John MCCOLLUM, Adam BROWN.
Jackson -- James MAGEE, 1797; William and Michael MARTIN, Thomas WILSON; Detmar BASSE, founder of Zelionople[sic], 1802; George RAPP, 1804, founded Harmony in 1805.
Clearfield -- Patrick MCBRIDE, James DENNY.
Summit -- James MCCURDY, James MITCHELL, William SCOTT and his sons, Robert, David, and George.
Butler -- James MCKEE, John PIERCE, William KEARNS and his sister, Jane KEARNS, 1796 or 1797; Abraham FRYOR, John MORROW.
Connoquenessing -- John EKIN, 1796; Scotch settlers of 1796 -- five or six families of GRAHAMS, the MCLEODS, MCDONALDS and others; early German-American settlers -- the BEIGHLE and MUHLEISEN families.
Lancaster -- ------- SCHOLAR; Henry BEIGHLE, 1796; John MORRISON, Henry BAUMGARTNER, Samuel STEWART, the MARTIN family, 1801.
Donegal -- James HEMPHILL, followed by several families of the same name; Charles DUFFY, John GILLESPIE, Moses HANLEN, 1796; Daniel SLATOR, Peter MCKEEVER, 1798.
Oakland -- John NEYMAN, 1797; Francis WHITMIRE, Cornell O'DONNELL.
Center -- This township was quite fully settled in 1796. A large number of young men came in from Allegheny, Westmoreland and Juniata Counties, among the earliest being William and David MCJUNKIN, John, Robert, George, James and two William MCCANDLESSES, Anthony, James and Moses THOMPSON, and also Matthew, James and John THOMPSON, of another family.
Franklin -- Stephen CRAWFORD, Jesse NASH, Eliakim ANDERSON, William DODDS, Charles SULLIVAN and John THOMPSON, all about 1796.
Muddy Creek -- Robert STEWART, 1796; Thomas BRANDON; Thomas HUMPHREY, 1798.
Fairview -- Samuel WALLACE, 1795; Joseph SMITH, 1796; also John CRAIG, William WILSON, Paul MCDERMOTT, and six families of BARNHARTS, about the same time.
Concord -- Edward GRAHAM, George MEALS, 1796; Samuel MEALS (father of George) and other members of the family, Robert CAMPBELL, James CUMBERLAND, William and Andrew CHRISTY, 1797; Hugh CONWAY, 1798; David HARPER, 1800.
Clay -- James RUSSELL, 1797; John ADAMS, Christopher MCMICHAEL, James MCJUNKIN, Judge Samuel FINDLEY, Hugh and William WASSON, 1798; Joseph, John, James, William and Samuel GLENN, about 1799.
Brady -- Luke COVERT, James CAMPBELL, Bartol LOFFER, Daniel MCDAVITT, James I. HOGE, 1797; John MCCLYMONDS, Edward DOUGLASS, 1798.
Worth -- David STUDEBAKER, Benjamin JACK, James, John and William MCNEES, brothers; Thomas HUMPHREY, Charles MARTIN, Charles COULTER, William ELLIOTT, David ARMSTRONG, Jacob and John PISOR, Henry STINETORF, William MCCONNELL, Jonathan KELLEY, all probably prior to 1797.
Parker -- John PARKER, John MARTIN, George and Phillip DAUBENSPECK, Archibald KELLEY, 1796; Hugh Gibson, 1797.
Washington -- John SHIRA, spring of 1798; Jacob HILLIARD, about 1798; John CHRISTY and William WILSON, 1798; John Christy, uncle of the above, 1799.
Cherry -- Benedict GROSSMAN, Robert BLACK, Robert MCCALLEN, 1797; Andrew STEWART, Michael STEVENSON, 1798; Samuel, David, James, John and Caleb RUSSELL, about 1800.
Slippery Rock -- Adam FUNK, James SHIELDS, 1798; Zebulon and Nathaniel COOPER, Philip SNYDER, Henry WOOLFORD.
Allegheny -- John LOWRIE, 1796; John CRAWFORD, 1797; John REDICK, James ANDERSON, Levi GIBSON, John ROSENBERRY.
Venango -- Samuel SLOAN, Thomas JOLLY, Peter J. COULTER, Robert CUNNINGHAM, about 1796; Hugh MURRIN, Michael KELLEY.
Marion -- Samuel MCMURRY, John BLACK, Robert ATWELL, Robert WADDLE, Robert SEATON, all about 1800.
Mercer -- Robert REED, John WELSH, Ebenezer BEATTY and Ebenezer BROWN, all about 1797.
There are some peculiar features in the settlement and population of Butler County, which may be briefly noted.
The pioneers of the county were nearly all Irish, Scotch or Scotch-Irish. As a rule, these people were immigrants from the counties of Southwestern Pennsylvania or "from beyond the mountains." Some, of course, came from other States, and some directly from Europe. The settlers of the mingled bloods we have mentioned distributed themselves quite evenly throughout the county, but there were a few localities in which one of the nationalities prevailed during the early days to the almost entire exclusion of the others. Thus Donegal, as the name would suggest, was purely an Irish community, while Connoquenessing was the scene of a settlement made up so exclusively of Scotch settlers as to receive the name -- not formally bestowed, but still universally used -- "of Scotland." This pure Scotch settlement, made in 1796, occupied the lands between the Big and Little Connoquenessing Creeks, and extended southward into what is now Forward Township.
Although the Scotch, Scotch-Irish and Irish were the predominant bloods represented among the pioneers of the county, there were, nevertheless, a few early German settlers , and a very sparse sprinkling of other classes. The early German pioneers came into the county through the influence of a few individuals. Detmar BASSE came from Germany in 1802, settled in Jackson Township, and, in 1803, founded Zelienople, which has ever been practically a German village. George RAPP founded Harmony in 1805, bringing into the county the colony of Germans who constituted the Harmonist or Economite Society. When that society removed, in 1815, the community still remained German, Abraham ZEIGLER, who settled there in 1814 and bought the lands, bringing in a large number of settlers of his nationality from Western Pennsylvania.
The general German settlement of the county did not begin until about the year 1830 , and from that time onward for a quarter of a century, the stream of this immigration continued to flow with a strong volume. The German settlers of this period are to be found in every township in the county, their greatest strength probably being in Summit, where they have almost completely displaced the descendants of the Scotch-Irish pioneers. They have made good farmers, succeeding, by patient industry and close economy, in gaining an independent condition where the people of almost any other nationality would have failed, in a majority of instances, to have secured more than a mere living. Saxonburg was founded in 1832 by a colony of very intelligent Germans, led by John A. ROEBLING, and retains its distinctive national characteristics.
It is impossible for us of the present day to realize the full measure of the effect that the contested land title had upon the settlement of Butler County [p. 31] and the surrounding region. The conflicting claims of the settlers and land speculators to the ownership of the soil has been explained in the preceding chapters. Little was there said, however, of the operation of that controversy for many years in retarding the improvement of the country, and the bitterness of the animosity aroused was only alluded to -- not illustrated.
As has been said, the speculators, or "land jobbers," who had secured warrants for many thousands of acres of land in Butler County, were usually successful in ejecting the pioneers who, in good faith, had settled and made improvements upon the tracts to which they thus expected to obtain title. Many a poor man had the result of his several years of hard work suddenly taken from him, and was compelled to seek a new location, and begin anew the task of clearing land and making a home. Some of them settled on lands not far removed from their "squatter" possessions, and others emigrated from the region in which they had been the victims of misfortune and, as they alleged, of injustice, to the farther West.
But this was not all. The prevailing insecurity of title prevented many from coming into the country who would otherwise have done so, and among them were many of the best class of immigrants. When it is borne in mind that litigation concerning the lands was actively carried on for a period of at least twenty years subsequent to 1796, and that it operated both toward the impoverishment of those who were settlers, and against the immigration of others, it will be readily seen that its adverse effect upon the development of the country was a very material one.
The severity of the large landholders' proceedings was moderated in a very marked degree by an occurrence of the year 1815, which is well worth narrating, not alone for its intrinsic interest, but because of its far-reaching effect and its value as an illustration of the intense feeling of the time.
Up to 1815, it had been the custom of the land speculators or their agents to bring ejectment suits against the settlers whom they found on lands for which they (the speculators) held warrants. These suits were almost invariably decided in favor of the hated "land-jobbers," and the "squatters" were aroused to a feeling of the utmost excitement and indignation. Often the equity of the case appeared upon the side of the farmer, but the technicalities of the law were favorable to the speculators, and they were fast securing the lands upon which the pioneers had made improvements, and seldom making any allowance for their work. Numerous threats had been made against the heavy land-owners, their agents and the officers of the law engaged in carrying out the orders of the United States and County Courts. Opposition had been met with by the latter in a few cases, but it was not serious, and, until the time of which we write, not organized.
But now the long-existing conflict assumed a more serious aspect. The farm near the borough of Butler, now owned by the heirs of Mrs. GROUT, had been entered by Abraham MAXWELL on the ground that no prior settlement had been made upon the tract in accordance with the act of 1792, and he was advised by William AYRES, Esq. of Butler, that his claim to possession was valid. He had built a cabin upon the land and made quite an extensive clearing. The land was covered, however, by one of Robert MORRIS'* warrants, taken out in the name of Christian STAKE, and was one of the 107 tracts which, at the sale of MORRIS' property, came into the hands of Stephen LOWREY.
* See preceding chapter.
In the spring of 1814, MAXWELL leased the property to Samuel ROBB. Soon afterward, LOWREY brought suit of ejectment against the owner and lessee, and obtained a judgement in the United States Court at Philadelphia, by reason of the defendant's default of appearance.
The order for ejectment was put into the hands of a Deputy Marshall named PARCHMENT, who made preparations to dispossess ROBB. The latter had refused to give peaceable possession, and his decision had been made known, not only to the officers, but to the farmers of the surrounding country, many of whom, located on lands claimed by LOWREY, had suffered, or expected to suffer, ejectment. One morning in October 1815, the Deputy Marshal and a party of supporters made preparations to visit the farm and remove ROBB from the cabin. They assembled at a tavern which stood in the south part of the village, where is now the Willard House, and there also, at the same time, gathered a number of farmers, all bitterly hostile to LOWREY and "land-jobbers" in general. Both parties were armed with rifles and other weapons, and many of the farmers came on horseback. They had assembled with the determination to oppose ROBB's ejectment. When the officers' party, led by the Deputy Marshal, and including the great land-owner, LOWREY, with a number of adherents, started out upon the road leading along the creek toward Maxwell's farm, the other company closely followed, and they reached the farm and the cabin together. ROBB stood in the doorway and refused PARCHMENT entrance. Possession was demanded, and ROBB resolutely refused it. The members of the officers' party, the armed farmers and the little squad of men and boys from the village who had followed [p. 32] the contestants to the spot, curious to see what would be the outcome, had crowded around PARCHMENT and ROBB; but when they heard the refusal of the latter to yield to the officer's demands, and saw that no immediate effort was to be made to take forcible possession of the premises, they fell back and broke into little groups to gossip about the situation. The members of the opposing parties mingled, and each sought to modify the views and actions of the other. Each, however, was immovable, and there appeared to be no possibility of a peaceable adjustment of the affair.
LOWREY and MAXWELL were standing close together, and conversing with much excitement, by the side of a rail fence which ran from the corner of the log cabin down to the road. Each was trying to convince the other of the justice of his own claim. Suddenly the dull and confused sound of the many voices was pierced by the sharp crack of a rifle. MAXWELL staggered back against the fence, exclaiming, "I am shot!" and the persons whose attention was not immediately drawn toward him saw a man, rifle in hand, bounding through the bushes up a hillside.
All was excitement, consternation and indignation. No one knew what to expect. MAXWELL was apparently dying, and his friends believed that the murderous shot had been fired by one of LOWREY's zealous followers. The farmers excitedly abused LOWREY, and asserted that he was responsible for the shooting. He called upon God to witness that he was innocent of any knowledge of the crime, and appeared deeply affected by the startling occurrence. In the meantime, MAXWELL had been carried into the cabin, and Dr. George MILLER, of Butler, summoned to attend his dangerous wound. Later, a messenger, mounted on a fleet horse, rode to Pittsburgh and in a short time, Dr. AGNEW, of that city, arrived at the bedside of the wounded man. His life hung in the balance, but, by careful nursing, was saved, although it was two months before he could be removed from ROBB's cabin to his own home, a few miles distant. In the excitement which followed the shooting, each party tried to fix the blame upon the opposite. The fact that it was MAXWELL who was shot, led the people generally to suspect that one of the land speculators' party was the guilty one. But later, when all of the circumstances were coolly and carefully reviewed, it became the opinion of most of the people that the man who fired the shot was one of the farmers who sympathized with MAXWELL and ROBB, and who had, in endeavoring to kill, or at least to wound LOWREY, accidently shot this early champion of "squatters'" rights. MAXWELL, at the time the rifle was fired, it will be remembered, was standing near and conversing with LOWREY. As was his habit when interested or excited, he was moving to and fro, and it was doubtless owing to this circumstance that he came near losing his life. It was never positively known who fired the shot.
This occurrence, which we have related somewhat at length, was the means of changing most radically the policy of the land speculators. Up to this time, they had almost invariably dispossessed the settlers of their lands by suits of ejectment, but, after the shooting of MAXWELL, almost all of the contested claims for lands were compromised, the farmer being allowed a certain portion of the tract on which he was settled for his improvement, or granted the whole upon payment of a nominal sum. The change resulted in a great advantage to the farmers, and accelerated the improvement of the country.
[End of Chapter 4--Advent of the White Man as a Settler: History of Butler County, Pennsylvania. With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Waterman, Watkins, & Co., Chicago, 1883.]
 - [This paragraph seems to give the impression that there were only 'a few' Germans among the earliest settlers. In fact, prior to German emigration starting around 1830, there had been an earlier German emigration to Pennsylvania in the 1700's. This group is usually referred to as the Pennsylvania Dutch, and included immigrants of different religious backgrounds (Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinists), Mennonite/Amish, etc.) While the Amish have maintained a separate culture to this day, the Lutheran and Reformed PA Dutch began to blend in with the English speaking community almost immediately. A review of the names of early settlers will show that there were actually quite a few Pennsylvania Dutch names included: BAUMGARTNER, STUDEBAKER, PISOR, STINETORF, DAUBENSPECK, SHIRA, to name just a few.]
Chapter 03--Land Title, Survey and Sale
Chapter 05--A Picture of Pioneer Life
1883 Butler County History Contents
Butler County Pennsylvania USGenWeb Homepage
Edited 16 Nov 1999, 17:50