Analysis:William Huston of Catfish Camp



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Early Settlement

William Huston is often described as the original settler of Washington County, PA. This is based in large part on a statement attributed by Source:Crumrine, et al, 1882 by to George Rogers Clark Verification of this as based on a statement by George Rogers Clark is needed. :

What a temptation to stop and enlarge upon the names and places and conditions disclosed in the foregoing old papers! At whose "Dwelling House," or at what hotel or hall, at Catfish Camp, was held this council of war, about four years before we had a Town of Washington on the site of Catfish Camp, indeed, any County of Washington? The only dwelling here at that date, so far as now known, was the cabin of William Huston, which was at the old spring, nearly opposite the new residence of Mr. Winfield McIlvaine, on East Maiden Street; for in the spring or early summer of 1774, Michael Cresap, on his way home after his alleged killing of Logan's kindred, stopped over night with Mr. Huston. But we do know that the blood of some of the men who took part in that council of war flows in the veins of members of our bar practising at this date. From Source:Crumrine, et al, 1882

William Huston may have been the only settler in the area in 1774, but there were other settlers in the area prior to this. The following mapping, based on PA Archives South Franklin Township Map shows that William Huston located on a tributary of Chartier Creek.

Modern USGS topomaps show that tributary to be "Catfish Creek", named for a Native American who lived in that general area. William secured that property with a land warrant in September of 1785, subsequently having it surveyed in December of the same year, and securing a patent in the following November of 1786.[1] Adjacent to Williams land are parcels owned by Martha, Joseph, and Abraham Hunter. These parcels were patented sometime later than William's property, but the survey records shows that they were in possession of the land in November of 1769, five years before William entertained Michael Cresap at his home. There are always in's and out's to this kind of thing, and this is no exception. In this case, the Hunters clearly were in possession of the property in 1769. Did they actually live there? That we don't know, but the existence of a survey would normally indicate that they were on the land. Also, from subsequent indications in the patent records for this property, its clear that the land eventually passed to John and William Hoge by 1788. Perhaps the Hunters did not remain on their property long, or perhaps they were living there at the same time Michael Cresap visited William Huston. In anycase, one can go through the warrants shown in the PA Archives Map and find other settlers who were in this same area by 1769. The only basis for identifying William Huston as the earliest settler in this area is the fact that there's a record of him being there in 1774, and no one else in the area. These land records demonstrate, however, that others were there earlier than that and could, with perhaps better justification, claim that same title. We know they were there by 1769; we only know that William was there by 1774. More research may shed light on this issue.

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