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Somerset Township
615 Vanceville Road
Eighty-Four, PA 15330
Phone: 724-222-0630

HISTORY OF SOMERSET TOWNSHIP

In 1782, Somerset Township was erected from parts of Nottingham, Fallowfield, Bethlehem and Strabane Townships. The first settlers in this section were William Colvin and Isaac Newkirk, who settled prior to 1777. The first business done after the organization of the township was the appointment of "Christian Leatherman as supervisor of the highways for the township of Summersett."

One of the principal villages of the township was Eighty Four, PA. Many stories have been told as to the manner in which Eighty Four received its name. William J. Smith ran a mill and owned a store where a train station known as Smithville was established. Mr. Smith also secured a post office and became the postmaster. He was unable to use the name of Smithville because there was already a Smithville, PA. It was suggested that he use a number, so he decided to name the village in commemoration of President Cleveland's election in the fall of1884.

Vanceville: A small village in the center of the township, named after the Vance family, Isaac and John Vance, two brothers who settled there at an early date. Between them they owned 556 acres of farming land situated on Pigeon Creek. The village had one store, a blacksmith shop, steam saw mill, school building and two churches. A post office was located there at one time, but it was abolished with rural free delivery (RFD).

Dunningsville: In 1791, Alexander Scott purchased a tract of land through which passed the "Glades Road." Scott built a home and store, and later built a horse grist mill, a tavern and a blacksmith shop. Being an Englishman by birth, Scott was a strong Tory during the War of 1812 and was openly threatened. Fearing for his life, he eventually sold his farm, tavern and store to John Dunning. Dunning succeeded in having the little village made a post-town and was appointed its first postmaster in 1830. He died Sept. 7, 1843 and is buried at the Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Church.

Kammerer: This village was located on a tract of 85 acres, which was originally owned by

George Meyers in 1788. Through subsequent transfers, it came to be owned by John

Kammerer who built his home and tavern which was known as "Dutch John's."

In 1845, he built a saw and grist mill on Mingo Creek. In 1859, his son Joseph built a distillery and in 1881 formed a partnership with Christian Hootman and John Leyda for the purpose of manufacturing liquors. Joseph Kammerer also conducted business at an extensive country store and became postmaster of the village.

SCHOOLS

As early as 1798 a school was taught by Samuel Lawrence on the Vance farm on the Middle Fork of Pigeon Creek. In 1800, a school was taught on the Richardson farm, and in 1804 another was located near Carey's Mill on the south branch of Pigeon Creek. From 1814 to 1834 a school was located on the Greer McIlvaine farm where John McIlvaine was the first teacher. As early as 1814 Mordecai Hoge taught school, and from 1827-1833 he conducted a school at Hoge's Summit. There were as many as ten schools: Farquhar, Howden, Wherry, Vanceville, Whitley, Hoge Summit, McDonough, Kerr, Cokeburg, and Eighty Four.

CHURCHES

Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Church is the oldest church west of the Monongahela River. Rev.

John McMillan preached the first sermon in 1775 and became the permanent pastor of the

Pigeon Creek and Chartiers congregations in 1778.

United Presbyterian Church of Pigeon Creek - The Horse Shoe Bottom Association congregation was organized in 1816. The name was changed to Pigeon Creek in 1820. Services were held in the home of Thomas Hall. Afterwards, "Hall's Tent", a roofed platform, was built for the pastor to use for the services that were once held outdoors.

Pigeon Creek Baptist Church was one-half mile east of Vanceville. The congregation was organized August 27, 1803. Services were held at first in a tent on the land of Henry McDonough. In 1830 the land was donated by Solomon Huffman and later a brick church building was erected.

German Lutheran Church began as a log church built on 16 acres of land warranted to Jacob Kintner, John Onstott, and George Miller in 1816.

TOWNSHIP CHURCHES
Emmanuel United Presbyterian Church 724-222-7488
Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Church 724-225-3431
Memory Chapel 724-746-7161

TOWNSHIP CEMETERIES
German Lutheran Cemetery
Emmanuel United Presbyterian Cemetery
Pigeon Creek Baptist Cemetery
Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Cemetery

Historical information was taken from "History of Washington County" by Boyd Crumrine for the Somerset Township 2002 Newsletter/Directory, Volume No. 2.

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