Notebook:Settlement of Washington County, PA



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Dalzall, 1890

From: The Scotch-Irish in Western Pennsylvania by Hon. John Dalzell, Member of Congress from Pennsylvania, Washington, D. C. from The Scotch-Irish in America: Proceedings and Addresses of the Second Congress at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 29 to June 1, 1890.

Intermediate source: Pam Nixon, email 8 April 2010

"Prior to 1700 it is said that no Englishman or Frenchman had trodden the shores of the Monongahela, Alleghany, or Ohio. As early as 1715 or 1720, a few traders ventured west of the Alleghanies, but the first serious attempt at settlement was the formation of the Ohio Company in 1748. This was a Virginia enterprise, at the head of which were Thomas Lee, Lawrence and Augustine Washington, and its purpose was to settle this western territory and carry on trade with the Indians. A grant was made by the crown to the company of five hundred thousand acres of land south of the Monongahela, and the great Kanawha, with the further privilege of locating also north of that river. Our present interest in this company consists in these facts, which I quote from "Old Redstone" (page 23):

"Mr. Lawrence Washington, upon whom fell the chief management of the affairs of this company after the death of Mr. Lee, conceived the very plausible plan of inviting the 'Pennsylvania Dutch,' and their brethren from Germany to colonize this region. Their only objection was the parish taxes they would have to pay to support the Episcopal Church. Mr. Washington exerted himself to get this difficulty removed; but high church Episcopacy was too strong for him, and so his scheme failed, and a large portion of Western Pennsylvania and Virginia was kept open for a different race--mainly for Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. Thus the intolerant Episcopal establishment of Virginia was overruled by the purpose and providence of God, to contribute unwittingly to provide a home for many of our fathers; or, rather, keep open for them such a home. Mr. Washington, in a letter to Mr. Hanbury, of London, wrote: `I conversed with all the Pennsylvania Dutch whom I met, and much recommended their settling. The chief reason against it was the payment of an English clergyman, whom few understood, and none made use of him. It has been my opinion, and I hope ever will be, that restraints on conscience are cruel, in regard to those on whom they are imposed, and injurious to the country imposing them. England, Holland, and Prussia, I may quote as examples, and much more Pennsylvania, which has flourished under that delightful liberty, so as to become the admiration of every man who considers the short time it has been settled.'"

Following the attempts of the Ohio Company at colonization came Braddock's defeat. Passing over the consequent period of French domination, and coming to that of British supremacy again, we find that there were obstacles still standing in the way of the settlement of Western Pennsylvania. There were Indian hostility, the question as to Indian titles, and the controversy between Pennsylvania and Virginia as to the boundary line between them, the real bone of contention being the possession of Fort Pitt.

Who does not know the thrilling story of the conspiracy of Pontiac; that veritable Napoleon of the redmen? And how it failed, so far as Fort Pitt was concerned? And how, following thereupon, the settlers resumed their labors and extended their improvements? From this time forward the march of civilization continued in spite of the obstacles to which I have already referred, and of which I must again make mention. The first town of Pittsburg, built in 1760, and having some 250 inhabitants, was destroyed in Pontiac's war; but a new town was laid out in 1765.

In that and in the following year, settlements were made at Red-stone and Turkey Foot. From 1760 to 1770 settlements were rapidly made in various places throughout Western Pennsylvania and Virginia. A considerable number of emigrants, soon after 1767, settled on the Youghiogheny, the Monongahela and its tributaries, and in the year 1770-1771, many of the Scotch-Irish from Bedford and York counties, from the Kittatinny Valley, from Virginia, and some directly from the North of Ireland, commenced settlements in Washington county. The settlements soon extended from the Monongahela to the Ohio River. (Old Redstone, p. 30). From this time forward Western Pennsylvania was, for a long time at least, characteristically Scotch-Irish."

Crumrine, 1882

From: Crumrine, History of Washington County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men (Philadelphia: L. H. Leverts & Co., 1882).

WASHINGTON BOROUGH – pp. 476 - 564

The original owners of the site occupied by the borough of Washington were Abraham Hunter, Martha Hunter, and Joseph Hunter, Jr., who were among the host of applicants who thronged the land-office of the proprietaries immediately after its opening in the spring of 1769 for the sale of the lands which had been ceded by the Indians a few months previously by the treaty of Fort Stanwix. The warrants (one to each of the persons mentioned) were dated June 19, 1769, and were surveyed by James Hendricks on the 11th of November in the same year.

  • The tract of Abraham Hunter (warrant No. 3517) was named "Catfish Camp," and contained three hundred and thirty-one acres and twenty-one perches, lying on Catfish Run, a small tributary of Chartiers Creek.
  • On the north of this tract was the land of Joseph Hunter, Jr. (warrant No. 3516), named in the survey "Grand Cairo," and containing three hundred and thirty-one acres and twenty-one perches.
  • On the north of the last named, and adjoining it, was the tract of Martha Hunter (warrant No., 3518), named in the survey "Martha's Bottom," containing three hundred and thirty-nine acres, sixty-nine perches, but the borough, when it became such by incorporation, included no part of his tract.

This name, which was given not only to the tract but also the settlement which afterwards became the town of Washington (and clung to it for many years), was derived from an old Delaware Indian named Tingooqua – in English, Catfish – who lived there, and of whom mention is made in the history of the Indian occupation in this volume. His wigwam or “camp” was on the stream, northeast of Trinity Hall, but it is said that he occupied several different locations in the immediate vicinity at different times. He lived here for some years, but finally removed to the Scioto country and died there.

No information whatever can be obtained of these original purchasers beyond the facts already given. There is no evidence – and very little probability – that they ever resided upon these lands. William Huston was a resident on a tract of land adjoining “Catfish Camp,” and on the branch of Chartiers which flows near the original borough line. On that tract (at the place where Mrs. Swartz now resides) Huston lived as early as 1774, as is shown by his own affidavit (given in the account of Dunmore’s war in the general history of the county), in which he said that in April of the year named Capt. Michael Cresap and others stopped overnight at his house at Catfish Camp while traveling from the Ohio to Redstone Old Fort. He (Huston) was the earliest white inhabitant of the vicinity of whom any information can be gained.