The Family of Rosa Anna Abbott and John Joseph LaValle

Upper St. Clair Township History

This township history is transcribed from History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Volume II, A. Warner & Co., Publishers, Chicago, Ill., 1899, Chapter IV, pp. 42-47.

(only Upper St. Clair transcribed )

The second township mentioned in the proceedings of the court in subdividing the county was thus described:

"St. Clair, beginning at the mouth of Chartiers creek, thence up the river Ohio to the mouth of the Monongahela river, thence up said river to the mouth of Street's run, thence up said run to the head thereof, thence by a straight line to the line of the county, thence up the said line to the mouth of Miller's run on Chartiers creek, and down said creek to the place of the beginning." These comprehensive limits included at least one-third of the territory in this county south of the Ohio and Monongahela rivers, and west of the latter.

It has been found impossible to ascertain the names of many of the inhabitants in this section of country at an early period, but from a careful comparison of existing records the following list has been compiled:

1798. William McNutt, Nathaniel Plummer, Presley Neville, Samuel Adams, A. Kirkpatrick, James Carns, Joseph Cochran, Samuel Plummer, C. Stevenson, John Frew, John Bell, William Chase, Jacob Beltzhoover, Isaac Craig, James Morton, Henry Wolf, John Neville, Jeffrey Porson.

1802l John Fife, Alexander Gilfallan, John Tidball, Benjamin Couch, Thomas Jones, John Longsulter, Nathan Couch, Abel Jones, John Beitler, Zadok Hules, Joseph Couch, William McKinney, Isaac Andrews, Philip Couch, John McCreary, Adam Rutherford, John Manners, Samuel Morrison, Stephen Higbee, Andrew Nelson, William Fife, Joseph Higbee, Thomas Walker, Robert Evans, Robert Guthrie, Robert McKee, James Morrow, Obadiah Higbee, Henry Mantle, Robert Wharley, Samuel McHenry, Samuel McCreary, William Morrow, John Smith, Robert Wilkinson, Jacob Whitman, Thomas McCann, John Stewart, Samuel Wilson, Benjamin Higbee, John Dailey, George Thompson, Joshua Copeland, James McCreary, John Connel, Abraham Hunt, Levi Hunt, David Long, Samuel Robinson, David Walker, John Thompson, Thomas Rigdon, Barnabas McAvie, John Bennett.

The date at which St. Clair was divided can not be definitely ascertained. It is described in 1805 as "full fifteen miles in length," ranging in breadth from six to ten miles, which occasioned great inconvenience in attending township meetings and repairing the roads. The court was petitioned to divide the territory by a line "beginning at Catt's old place, thence to Mr. Nathaniel Plummer's, thence to Chartiers creek at Mr. William Lea's." Alexander Gilfillan was active in circulating this petition. Nathaniel Plummer, John Henry and John Findlay were appointed as commissioners, but it is not known what action was taken by them. A second petition, with the same object in view, was filed at the June term, 1805, and also a third, in which the following considerations are urged as arguments in favor of division: "Last October, the day appointed by law for the choice of inspectors for the county election and assessors, there was not one from Capt. McCreary's company, nor from Capt. Lyle's company, attended, nor could attend, it being the day appointed by law for their muster, and the township meeting being so far off they could not attend [both]. Indeed, this township is as large as some counties in other states." The name of Alexander Gilfillan heads the list of petitioners, and in his chirography the document is written. At the September term, 1805, James Martin, Joseph Phillips and William Fife, Sr. were appointed to inquire into the propriety of making the proposed change. The order of court was not placed in their hands until December 14, at which time Mr. Martin was absent from the county and Mr. Fife seriously ill. At the December court the order was continued, but there is no record of the final issue. From the manifest necessity of the change and the practically unanimous sentiment in its favor, it is highly probably that the division was effected in this next year (1806), although one authority places the date forty years later.


This township, as separately erected, included a portion of the territory now comprised in Bethel township and the whole of Scott. Within its present limits the first settler was John Fife, who made improvements in the eastern part of the township on land still in possession of his descendants. He was of Scotch-Irish descent, and was resident of West Chester, Pa., prior to his removal here. John Connor settled near the central part of the township in 1769. He was accompanied by his father, Cornelious Connor, and both had previously lived in Virginia. They were soldiers during the Revolution, Cornelius enlisting as a recruiting-sergeant, and John leaving the service with the rank of major. The Connor family narrowly escaped an attack from the Indians within a few years after their arrival, but no outrages are known to have occurred in the township.

The following are remembered as very early families in this township: Leonard Fryer and sons William, Leonard, Thomas and Samuel; Amos Jones and son Thomas; William and John, the sons of Cornelius Connor; John Connor and sons Samuel and Jesse; Matthew Borland and sons John, Cornelius, Andrew and Matthew; Alexander Gilliland and sons John and Andrew; William Morrow and sons William, Hugh and others; Thomas Patterson; William Dennison and sons Thomas, Samuel, Joseph and William; Samuel Collins; John McKowan and sons Richard and John; William Hastings and sons John, Ebenezer, James, Levi, William, Henry and Daniel; Ephraim Morton and sons Samuel and John; John Morton; numerous descendants of John Fife; Capt. Samuel Morgan and son Alexander; James Kerr and sons Robert, John and Wesley; Wilson Lesnet and sons John, Frederick, William and Thomas; Thomas McMillan and sons William, Andrew, Samuel and Jacob; (numerous descendants) Mark Kelso; Samuel Wilson and sons William, John, Thomas and Benjamin. In addition to the above the names of the following early residents are remembered: Harvey Rogg, Gregg Algo, William Orr, Charles McConnell. There are many other whose names are not recalled.

John Herriott built a mill in the present village of Bridgeville, on McLaughlin's run, about 1830. It was converted into a steam mill by William and Samuel Fryer; and was burned some ten years since. [1879] John McDowell built a steam fulling-mill about 1828. It was burned about fifteen years since. [1874]

The township is traversed by the old Pittsburgh & Washington turnpike, the Chartiers Valley and the Pittsburgh, Chartiers & Youghiogheny railroads. Bridgeville, twelve miles from Pittsburgh, on the Chartiers Valley railroad, is an old place, and came into existence when the old road from Pittsburgh to Washington was traveled much more than at present. Being situated in a great bend of Chartiers creek, and approached by bridges from the north and south, the name was early suggested from this circumstance. The place was little more than a wayside hamlet until 1884, when the Bridgeville mines were opened by A. J. Schulte. These works employ 150 men, and produce 150,000 tons annually, A rolling-stock of 64 cars is required, and shipments are made to Ashtabula harbor en route to the northwest. The mines are 1,500 feet east of Bridgeville station. The town has improved rapidly in the last three years, and numbers several hundred inhabitants.

The Presbyterian Church of Bridgeville, the only religious body in the township, was organized May 4, 1876, with 16 members, by a committee of the Pittsburgh presbytery. A chapel had previously been erected by Bethany Presbyterian Church, from which the original membership was derived. Rev. J. F. Hill was pastor 1876-84, and V. G. Sheeley, the present incumbent, was installed in 1886. The membership in 1877 numbered 69, and in1884, 110. In April, 1884, by action of presbytery, the churches of Bethany and Bridgeville were consolidated, the resultant organization retaining the former name, while the church-edifice is located at the latter place. In 1887 a church-building was erected, of which the cost was about twelve thousand dollars.

The postoffice was established under the name of Moorhead in January, 1862, and the name was changed to Bridgeville in June, 1874.

Essen is a mining village on the Pittsburgh, Chartiers & Youghiogheny railroad. The mines were opened in 1882 by the Chartiers Block Coal company, and operated by them for one year, when the present proprietors, Sanford & Co. assumed control; 78,000 tons were mined in 1886, and the present daily product is 400 tons; 150 men are employed. The only other mines in this locality are those of Beadling Brothers. Essen postoffice was established in March, 1884.

Upper St. Clair is a post-village on the old Washington road, also at one time a station on the Pittsburgh Southern railroad. The postoffice there was established in 1845. Yee Station postoffice was established in 1873. The population of the township was 1,847 in 1860, 810 in 1870 and 829 in 1880.