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Midway Borough
304 Noblestown Road
P.O. Box 574,
Midway, PA 15060
Phone: 724-796-8700

EARLY HISTORY OF MIDWAY, PENNSYLVANIA

The earliest history available pertaining to the present Borough of Midway dates back forty or more years before the outbreak of the Civil War, and many of Midway's present residents can trace their ancestors to the earliest of these settlers.

In the seventeen hundreds, the Iroquois, Shawnee, and Delaware Indians roamed this part of the county, although they were not to be so numerous here as in the Murdocksville and Bavington sections, due to the fact that they traveled upstream by canoe. Numerous of the early settlers built forts to which they could flee when necessity warranted.

Among the old forts in this locality were:

Allen's Fort, built before 1774 by John Allen, near the line between Smith and Robinson townships, in the vicinity of Beelor's Fort.

Beelor's Fort, built in 1774, by Captain Samuel Beelor. It was a two-story log cabin which stood about 100 yards southwest of the Raccoon Presbyterian church in Candor. Captain Beelor was one of the first settlers in Robinson and the fort was frequently used as a refuge for the settlers of that region during Indian raids. Some of the early settlers using the fort for safety were: James Clark, Robert Shearer, Sr., Hugh Shearer, William McCandlass, Matthew Bailey, Thomas Bigger, Joshua Scott, William Aten, Samuel Pollock, John Donaldson, Peter, Alexander, and William Kidd, John Witherspoon, James McBride, Alexander Bailey, Christopher Smith, James McBurney, and John McDonald.

Cherry Fort, which was built in 1774 by Thomas Cherry, an early settler in Mt. Pleasant township. It consisted of three log cabins, one 25 feet square, arranged in a triangular form and enclosed by a stockade. The largest house was two and one-half stories high and was built to withstand formidable attacks. Thomas Cherry was accidentally shot at the spring in 1775, and in 1782 his son, John, was killed. He was buried beside his father in the Cherry burial ground near the fort. The burial ground is still located on the farm, just below the house formerly owned by Ralph Cummins and presently owned by John Loffert. The fort was located just above the house and until the early Nineteen hundreds, traces of it could still be seen.

McDonald's Fort, built by John McDonald in 1782. It was located on the present McDonald homestead at McDonald, the former home of the late Mr. Edward and Miss Jane McDonald and J. N. McDonald. The fort was located in the field between the present J. M. Lins home and the hedge fence which edges the McDonald lawn.

George Washington is said to have owned a parcel of land on the site of the former Ralph Cummins farm and the log cabin in which he resided was still standing as late as 1943.

SCHOOLS

At the time the won was incorporated, the borough purchased the interest of Robinson township in the frame schoolhouse near the Center UY.P. church, known as the

Red School. At the same time they purchased the interest of Smith township in the White School near where the old Ephriam Johnston house stood. The first high school was held in the "Red" schoolhouse and was later moved to the I.O.O.F. hail. In 1927, it was moved into the building which now houses the Wallace apartments, where it continued for seven years. It was transferred into the new and present building in 1934, when the Red school was abandoned.

In 1909, the first class graduated from the Midway High School. Norman Bell, son of James A. Bell, was the only graduate and his brother, James A. Bell, Jr. was the principal. There were four students in the 1910 graduating class: John Ballard, Mary Croner, Mary E. Bamford, and Myra Pyle (Culley). The graduating exercises were held in the Red school.

This article is in The Midway Golden Jubilee publication of 1953. From the collection of John D. Reed.

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