The Family of Rosa Anna Abbott and John Joseph LaValle

Robinson (Chartiers) Township History

This township history is transcribed from History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Volume II, A. Warner & Co., Publishers, Chicago, Ill., 1899, Chapter III, pp. 24-37.

(only Robinson (Chartiers) transcribed)

As originally formed in 1790, Fayette township extended from the county line to the Ohio river, and from Montour's run to Chartiers creek, and before the close of the century the formation of a new subdivision within these limits was seriously considered. In a petition presented at the March sessions, 1799, it is stated that Fayette comprised one hundred and twenty square miles, and nearly four hundred taxables. In view of the inconveniences occasioned by this, a division was asked by a line "beginning at the mouth of Robinson's run, up the same to the mouth of Pinkerton's run, thence up the same to Mr. Patterson's meeting house, thence by a direct line to strike Montour's run opposite the house of Joseph Scott, Esq." The pronounced views of those who opposed this measure are thus expressed in a remonstrance filed March 26, 1801:

The township of Fayette is a small township, being about twelve miles in length, including narrow points at each extreme, and about five miles to breadth. Yet a petition has been preferred ... for a division, assigning the south fork and a small part of the main branch of Robinson's run for that purpose, the which petition, if obtained, will leave a tract of land for a township northwest of the said south fork which will not average more than four miles square; and the other township will measure about eight miles in length and average about three miles and a half in breadth. [It may be observed that there is considerable disparity in the respective dimensions given.] In the four miles square township there are two justices of the peace, to wit, George Vallandigham and Joseph Walker; in the extended township none ... If any ... inhabitants are dissatisfied with the usual place of holding township meetings, they can easily assemble and vote for the most convenient place; six miles' travel in the year is no great burthen to attend township meetings.

A second remonstrance averred that there was no necessity for the change, "unless to gratify a few ambitious characters who are eager for office." Not withstanding the strength of the opposition, the division was consummated in the erection of Robinson, presumably at the June sessions, 1801.


The hostile feelings engendered in this struggle did not at once subside. June 8, 1083, Robert Bell and others appeared before the court, representing that while the proceedings were in progress the supervisors of Fayette had collected from its entire territory a road-tax, which was being expended solely for the benefit of Fayette as it remained after the division. This was a manifest injustice to Robinson, and when friendly entreaty failed to effect a rightful distribution of the money, the matter was then referred to the courts.

The available data for compiling a list of early settlers in Robinson are very meager. The names of some appear in the preceding chapter, in addition to which the following may be mentioned at the respective dates:

1803: William Marks, John Nickel, Isaac McMichael, Adam Logan, William McCoy, Robert Graham, John Young, Robert Baldwin, James Bell, John McCoy, John McMichael, Isaac Walker.

1805. Robert Vance, James Speer, Robert Miller, Patrick Watson, James McClurg, Samuel Neely, Thomas Phillips, Edward Sharp, Jonathan Phillips, William Knox, Benjamin Wall, Benjamin Miller.

1808. Isaac Ferree, John McFadden, William Marks, Jr., Samuel Goswald, Frederick Stover, Robert Morgan, Joseph Wherry, John Young, William Duff, William Ewing, Jeremiah Wright, William Johnson, James Mitchell, William Hall, John Boggs, John Mitchell, James Ewing, J. McMichael, William Henry, Samuel Richey, Robert Bell.

Within the present limits of Robinson township, the first permanent settler was James Bell. He was of Scotch origin. When fourteen years of age he was taken prisoner by the Indians, and after a residence of several years with them returned to his home in Virginia. In the autumn of 1768, with his brother John, he made a journey to Chartiers creek. Tradition asserts that they passed their first night in this vicinity in Chartiers township, near Mansfield valley; that on the next day they crossed Chartiers creek and passed the second night within Robinson township; and after marking the bounds of their respective claims in the customary manner, returned to their homes. The following spring they brought their families, and here James Bell lived to an advanced age, dying in 1833. His brother John lived in Chartiers township.

The Steubenville turnpike and Clinton grade road cross the township from east to west. The Pittsburgh ∓ Lake Erie railroad crosses its northern border, with stations at Gibson and Moon run. That part of the township adjacent to Chartiers creek is traversed by the Pittsburgh, Chartiers & Youghiogheny railroad. This is a county enterprise, and is worthy of more than passing notice. The company was incorporated in October, 1881, and organized with J. E. Schwartz, president; George S. Griscom, vice-president and general manager; R. T. Hill, secretary and treasurer; George S. Davison, superintendent. The projected route follows the course of Chartiers creek and Peter's creek from the Ohio river at Brunot's island to the Monongahela at West Elizabeth, crosses the Youghiogheny at Douglass, and thence continues to the coke regions. Construction was begun in 1881, and that portion of the road now in operation, extending from Beechmont to the Ohio river - a distance of fifteen miles - was completed in 1883. A branch through Upper St. Clair township is also in operation. Patterson station, in this township, is situated at the junction of the turnpike and railroad. The Montour railroad passes through the valley of Montour run.

Union United Presbyterian Church was organized prior to 1793, and constituted a pastoral charge in connection with Robinson Run from 1794 to 1816, under the care of Rev. John Riddell. During this period it was known as Lower Robinson Run and Dee Hollow. Rev. Moses S. Fulton, 1833-39; John Ekin, 1839-53; William McMillan, 1855-57; Lafayette Marks, 1860-67; J. D. Turner, 1868-74; J. A. Douthett, since 1876. Montour Presbyterian Church was organized in 1788, when Rev. Joseph Patterson was installed as pastor. Among his successors the following clergymen may be mentioned: John McLean, Michael Law, Robert Laird, John K. Cunningham, Thomas Gordon, Thomas Stevenson, Isaac N. McKinney, Levi Risher and H. C. Foulke. Forest Grove Presbyterian Church, in the northern part of the township is connected with Montour in pastoral charge. A German Lutheran church, on the Steubenville pike, completes the number of religious bodies in the township.

The only village in the township is Palmersville, on the Steubenville pike, known as a postoffice under the name of Remington. The first postmaster, Samuel B. Marks, was appointed November 25, 1850.

In 1860 the population was 2,100; in 1870, 2,275; in 1880, 1,170.

Chartiers Borough. - This borough was laid out by John Doolittle, and incorporated September 6, 1872, from the southeastern part of Robinson. An effort had previously been made to have a new township formed from the adjacent portions of Robinson and Scott, but as it was evident that the village on the west bank of the creek would thus lose its individuality, its people opposed the measure. The first burgess of the borough was William Hill. The first ordinance of the borough, "For the regulation of sidewalks and street-crossings," was approved December 9, 1872.

In 1867, two years after the completion of the Pan Handle railroad, few indications of village growth were apparent. There were four houses between the creek and the railroad, two of which were owned by Samuel Yourd and P. Wilbert, respectively. Three houses were situated on Fifth avenue, those of Jacob Doolittle, David Steen and Joseph Chalfant. Russell Errett, W. R. Justus, Henry Keib and J. C. Morrow lived on "Trust Company" hill, and there were also several houses on Campbell's run, occupied by transient residents. Samuel Yourd and -----Caldwell were the only merchants at that time. A rapid expansion was noticeable until 1873, when the panic affected this part of the country with the effects generally experienced every-where. The population in 1880 was 1,852, but the past four years have been a period of great building activity, and three thousand is an approximate estimate at the present time.

It would be the expression of a platitude to say that the prosperity of the town depends almost entirely upon its industrial activities, and largely upon the development of the mineral resources of the surrounding country.

The Mansfield Coal & Coke company, William Carr, president; John K. Shinn, secretary and treasurer, D. Reisinger, manager, was incorporated in 1862. Mining operations were begun in 1863. Colliery No. 1, on the line of the borough and township, was opened in 1863, and has a daily capacity of 600 tons. No. 2 is mentioned in the history of Scott township. Six coke-ovens were built in 1868, and 16 in 1870, making a total of 22 now operated, producing 25 tons of coke daily. The company also owns 500 acres of coal-land in Collier township, to which a railway is now in course of construction. It is proposed that these works, when placed in operation, shall have a daily capacity of 1,500 tons. D. Steen & Sons were the proprietors of a colliery within the borough limits for some years, but the coal measures upon which they depended have been exhausted, and a row of house marks the former location of their works...The Grant mines have experienced many changes of proprietorship, and are now operated by W. L. Scott & Co.

The Pennsylvania Lead company, J. E. Schwartz, president; B. W. Doyle, secretary, Robert Wardrop, treasurer; F. C. Blake, superintendent, was organized in 1872, with capital of five hundred thousand dollars. The works comprise nine aces, situated at the junction of the Pan Handle and Pittsburgh, Chartiers & Youghiogheny railroads, just outside the borough limits. The ores are obtained in Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah, and are received at the works in the form of base bullion; the foreign=elements of their composition are removed, and the silver and gold separated from the lead by chemical processes. The product consists of pig-lead, used in the manufacture of white-lead shot, pipe and sheet-lead to the amount of 25,000 tons annually; silver and gold bars, principally exported to London, England, 20,000 ounces annually; the aggregate value being $6,000,000. Similar statistics in 1877 show a product valued at $1,700,000. The plant is valued at $150,000; 120 men are employed.

The Chartiers Iron & Steel company, John C. Kirkpatrick, chairman; D. A. Carter, secretary; B. C. Wilson, treasurer; J. Henry, superintendent, was incorporated in October, 1833. The works are situated in Chartiers borough. The plant consists of a frame building 277 feet long and 120 feet wide, comprising 33,000 square feet of floor-surface; 2 trains of rolls, consisting of 5 mills; 15 furnaces, 2 knobbling fires, steam-engines of 700- and 65-horse power, respectively; a steam hammer weighing 4 tons. The works were placed in operation August 12, 1884, with 150 operatives, which number has since increased to 200. The product consists of sheet-iron and sheet-steel to the value of $5000,000 annually.

The Mansfield Roller Flour-mills, Forsythe & Foster, proprietors, manufacture roller flour and feed for local and city consumption. There are other smaller industries of a varied character, which may appear comparatively unimportant as compared with those mentioned, but perceptibly swell the aggregate of production.

The business of the town is locally important. There are a number of stores and hotels, and several large business blocks. The Mansfield Valley postoffice was once conducted here, and the postoffice under the name of Putnam established January 8, 1885.

Several newspapers have been published at various times, the latest journalistic effort being the Independent, George W. Haley, editor, of which the first number was issued July 31, 1887. The borough school-building reflects an intelligent interest in educational matters. More than ten thousand dollars were expended in sustaining the schools in 1886. Among the secret and benevolent fraternities represented are the Masons, Odd-Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Sons of St. George, Sovereigns of Industry, Junior Order United American Mechanics, Knights of Labor, Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers and Knights of the Mystic Chain.

The Catholic population of the vicinity attended mass at St. Philip's Church, Crafton, until Mansfield was attached to Washington mission under the pastoral care of Rev. J. O. G. Scanlon, October, 1866. He secured property within the limits of the borough of that name, which was dedicated by the bishop of the diocese July 28, 1867, under the invocation of St. Luke. This building was known as the "wool-house," and had been the first place of worship for others than this church. Upon the death of Father Scanlon, in May, 1871, Rev. W. A. Nolan became pastor. The principal event of his incumbency was the large increase in the membership and the purchase of a site for a new church-edifice. Its erection was not begun until August, 1879, owing to the financial stringency of 1873 and the following years. It is one hundred and twenty feet long and fifty-four feet wide, in pure gothic style. Rev. P. May was pastor 1873-75; Thomas Walsh, 1875-77; and Hugh Haggerty, 1877 - .The German Catholic element worshiped at St. Mary's church, Stowe township, until the organization of St. Luke's; and as they increased in numbers, a meeting was held June 8, 1879, at which formal action was taken, resulting in the organization of St. Joseph's German Catholic Church. The cornerstone of the church edifice was laid by Rev. W. Pollard September 21, 1879, the bishop performed the ceremony of dedication January 1, 1880. Rev. John Stillerich was pastor in 1879-80; E. W. Trantswein, from March to October, 1880; Joseph Lingel, 1880-84; Julius Kuenzer, 1884-87; when Joseph Fleckinger, the present incumbent, was appointed. The German Lutheran church of Chartiers, Rev. E. F. A. Dittmer, pastor, was erected in 1872. A parish school is connected with the church. The property comprises a brick church-edifice, school-building and pastoral residence.