The town of Washington originally belonged to Strabane township, one of the thirteen original townships of the county, erected in July, 1781. On the 25th of September, 1785, the Court of Quarter Sessions, upon a petition of the citizens requesting to be formed into a separate election district, indorsed the application, and the Supreme Executive Council confirmed the proceedings of the conrt on the 6th of February, 1786. From its being originally a portion of Strabane township, so many have been the changes that its present chartered boundaries are Canton and South Strabane on the north, South Strabane on the east, Franklin and South Strabane on the south, Canton and Franklin on the west, being now entirely surrounded by new townships.
The original name of this town was BASSETT, which was laid out by David Hoge, Esq., of Cumberland County, the survey being made by David Reddick, Deputy Surveyor, October 13, 1781. Another plot states that a true copy of the plan remains in the hands of John Lukens, Surveyor General, which was made November 4, 1784, by Edward Lynch, Deputy Surveyor. This second plot was made prior to the sale of David Hoge to his sons John and William. On the 18th of October, 1781 (five days after the town was laid out), David Hoge, Esq., the proprietor, conveyed to James Edgar, Hugh Scott, Van Swearingen, Daniel Leet, and John Armstrong, as trustees of Washington County, a lot for a court house and prison, in the town of Bassett, containing two hundred and forty feet square, being bounded by Monongahela (now Market) Street on the east, Ohio (now Beau) Street on the north, lot No. 123 on the west, and Johnston's (now Cherry) Alley on the south.
The name of the town was permanently changed to Washington on the 4th of November, 1784, the date at which the second plot was made, although we have the evidence of receipts for lots being given by the proprietor in October, 1781, both as Bassettown and Washington, for in the deed of David Hoge to John and William Hoge, of November 1, 1785, it is stated that the said David conveys to his sons, John and William, a tract of land in Washington County, on the waters of Chartiers' Creek, and known by the name of Catfishes Camp, containing eight hundred acres, which was to include the town of WASHINGTON, excepting the southwest fourth of said town, which said David reserved for himself. Subsequently, however, on the 10th of March, 1787, he also conveyed the remaining southwest fourth of the town to his sons, John and William. This deed also mentions the fact of the name of the streets being changed, based upon the second plot of 1784.
The act of the General Assembly of March 28, 1781, directs the electors to meet at the house of David Hoge at the place called Catfishes Camp, to hold their elections and courts until a court house shall be built.
To understand the Hoge purchase, we will state that there were three tracts of land originally surveyed and purchased by David Hoge, as follows: One from Martha Hunter, dated November 4, 1769, containing three hundred and thirty-nine acres and sixty-nine perches, and called "MARTHA'S BOTTOM." The second was purchased from Joseph Hunter, November 11, 1769, containing three hundred and thirty-one acres and twenty-one perches, called "GRAND CAIRO," and the third from Abraham Hunter, surveyed and purchased November 11, 1769, containing three hundred and thirty-one acres and twenty-one perches, called "CATFISHES CAMP."
The town of BASSETT was laid out on a portion of the two tracts of land known by the name of Grand Cairo and Catfishes Camp, but most generally known by the latter name. It was laid out by David Reddick, Esq., at the request of David Hoge, Esq., on October 18, 1781; it then embraced all the lots within Walnut Street on the north, College Street on the east, Maiden Street on the south, and West Alley on the west, containing two hundred and ninety-one lots.
Upon the plot of the town of BASSETT are the following memoranda : Lots marked A for a court-house and prison. This is the same public square now occupied with a court house, prison, etc. &c. Lots B, C, D were reserved by Mr. Hoge. B included the lots from Pine Alley, the residence of the late John L. Gow, deceased, to the corner of Main and Ohio (Beau) streets, the residence of William Smith, Esq. C included the lots from the Fulton House, owned by Messrs. Little and Melvin, to Johnston's (now Cherry) Alley, or the house occupied by Alexander Murdoch, Esq. D all the lots from Pine Alley, the property of the heirs of William L. Oliver, deceased, to the corner of Main and Ohio (now Beau) streets, or the iron hall front, owned by William Smith, Esq. The plot also states that the two principal streets, viz., Monongahela (Main) Street and Ohio (Beau) Street, are sixty-six feet wide. The lots are sixty feet front by two hundred and forty feet deep. B, C, D were each divided into six lots of forty feet front and two hundred and forty deep. Lot 171, on the corner of Race and Chartiers streets (now Chestnut and Second), and at present owned by Mrs. E. H. Turner, was given gratis for a place of public worship, while lot 172, directly opposite and owned by William H. Taylor, was appropriated for a school house. Lot 43 was presented to General Washington. This lot is on the corner of Gay and Chartiers (now Beau and Second) streets, and with, the adjoining lot 42, is owned by the First Presbyterian church. This lot was the site of the old red school-house, in which many of our citizens were educated under George K. Scott, deceased, while Lot l02, which was presented at the same time and occupying the opposite corner, being the southwest corner of the college square, is owned by David S. Wilson, Esq.
The plot of BASSETT has marked upon it three springs, designated by the letters a, b, c. a is a spring given for the use of the town; b and c are springs. Where the spring run is patted, the water sinks under ground. One of these springs is on the corner lot owned by Jacob Koechline, con the corner of Main and Maiden streets, and in the cellar of his brick house. The other two springs are on the property of Wm. Huston, the adjoining lot, south of Mr. Koechline's. In the year ___, when. Judge Baird erected his steam mill at the foot of Main Street, the water for running the mill was conveyed by wooden pipes from this spring, and several of the lot owners through which it passed had fountain pumps connected with these pipes. Catfishes Camp is marked upon it, near the spring on the property of Patrick Bryson, deceased.
In addition to the foregoing memoranda, at the northwest corner of the plot and outside of the limits of the town of Bassett, is the letter A and the words, "Great plain given by Mr. Hoge for a common, about seventy or eighty acres." In an examination of the minutes of the Town Council June 6, 181l, is the following record :
WHEREAS, A portion of the ground heretofore considered as a common has been sold and is about to be improved, to the prejudice of the rights of the borough and to the serious injury of several of the inhabitants, therefore
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to call on the proprietors of the town and the surviving commissioners who negotiated with Mr. David Hoge, the original proprietor, and obtain such information respecting the claims of the borough to said property as may be procured. Messrs. Alexander Reed, John Wilson, and Robert Anderson were appointed the committee. The burgesses were also instructed to give notice to all persons who are or may attempt building, inclosing, or improving, in or on the reputed commons or property of the borough, to desist therefrom. The minutes, of the Council do .not show that the Committee ever reported.
David Hoge having sold all his interest to his sons, they extended the original limits of Bassett by adding thereto on the EAST of College Street to the alley, called, BREWERY ALLEY, commencing at the eastern end of Maiden Street and running to Walnut Street. Also adding on the SOUTH, from Maiden Street to Hazel Alley, forty building lots and many outlots.
A small stream running through the southern and western part of Washington bears the name of Oat fish Run. It will also be remembered that the tract of land purchased from, .Abraham Hunter was called Catfishes Camp, and before even Bassett was laid out the few hamlets which occupied the southern part of Washington were called Catfish. The stream, the land, and the town all derived their name from a celebrated Indian Chief, whose Indian name was Tingoocqua or Catfish, who belonged to the Kuskuskee tribe of Indians, and occupied the hunting grounds between the .Allegheny Mountains and the Ohio River.
In the records of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, we find him participating in a conference meeting held in Philadelphia, Dec. 4th, 1759, at which Governor Hamilton and his council with chiefs from the Wyoming, Delaware, and Kuskuskee Indians were present. At this council the Indian chief CATFISH made the following speech, after taking four strings of wampum and holding two of them separate in his fingers, thus spoke :
I have not much to say; I am only a messenger. I came from the Kuskuskees. The nation that I belong to as well as, many others to the west of us, as far as the setting of the sun, have heard that you and Teedyuscung (Chief of the Delawares) sat often together in council and at length agreed upon a peace, and we are glad to hear that the friendship and harmony, which of old always subsisted between our and your ancestors, was raised up again and established once more. This was, very agreeable to us, and we came here to see if what was related was true, and we find it is true, which gives us great satisfaction. [Then ta.king hold oj the other two strings he proceeded.]
Brother. Now that Teedynscung and you have, through the goodness of Providence, brought about a peace, we entreat you to be strong; don't let it slip; don't omit anything to render it quite secure and lasting; hold it fast; consider our aged men and our young children, and for their sakes be strong, and never rest till it be thoroughly confirmed. All the Indians at Allegheny desire you to do so, and they will do all they can likewise. [Gave a string of wampum.]
Brother. We make eleven nations on the west of the Allegheny who have heard what you and Teedyuscung have concluded at the treaty of Easton (in 1758), and as we all heartily agreed to it and are determined to join in it, we have opened a road to where Teedyuscung lives, and we the messengers, have travelled much to our satisfaction on the road which he has made from his habitation to this town (Philadelphia). We have found it a very good road, and all our nations will use this road for the time to come. We say nothing of the Six Nations. We do not reckon them among the eleven nations. We leave you to treat with them yourselves, we make no road for them. This is your own affair. We only tell you we do not include them in anything we say. I have done. [Gave four strings of wampum.]
At what period Catfish settled in this part of the country tradition gives us no account. We know, however, from our aged citizen, Co1. George Kuntz, whose father removed from the east to Washington. in 1788, that he knew the old chief when he had a camp in the rear of the lot on which William Huston's inn now stands, near the three springs (which I have spoken of as being designated on the plan of Bassettown). .Afterwards he moved his camp near to the spring now called Patrick Bryson's spring; from thence he removed his camp to Shirl's woods; from thence he went to Ohio and died.
Local tradition has falsely placed his tomb in the graveyard at Washington, Pa., marked by a large unhewn stone; but such is not the fact. This stone was procured by .Alexander Lytle, Esq., deceased, on the Williamsport road, and had it placed at the grave of his wife. His daughter Harriet, on her death-bed, requested that the bodies of her father, and mother, and family, with the same stone, be taken to the cemetery. The circumstance, however, gave rise to a few verses, written by a young man named Hiram Kaine, Esq., a printer by profession, yet unassuming as a poet. To preserve his memory, therefore, who composed these verses, and who in his own language desired not to obtain popularity in the drawing-rooms of the wealthy, but in the workshops and homesteads of his native place, was the reason why he tuned his rude unlettered harp.
THE GRAVE OF CATFISH.
1. A fitting monument was that
For one so proud and stern
More striking than a marble bust
Or consecrated urn I
2. Unbending as that massive rock,
You braved the battle storm,
And reared amidst its fiercest shock
Thy dark, majestic form.
3. Thou needst not fear the pale face race,
Who slumber by thy side;
They cannot tear the home from thee,
Which living they denied.
4. The unlettered stone above thy head
Is not more still than they,
The marble not more motionless
That tells us where they lay.
5. The rank green grass is twining,
Its wreath above thy head,
As it ever richly twineth
Round dwellings of the dead.
6. Oh I does thy spirit ever come,
To gaze upon this mound,
And tread upon the springing grass
Above the hallowed ground
7. Dost ever wander o'er the hills
Where once thy tribe did roam,
And curse the race who on their graves
Have built themselves a home?
8. Thou hearest not, dark Chieftain
Thy funeral song is sung,
The emblems of thy power have flown,
Thy last war-whoop hath rung.
9. But yet thy name, by kindred ghosts,
Is heard by yonder rill,
As comes its murmuring midnight chime
In echoes from the hill.
When Bassettown was laid out, David Hoge, in October, 1781, issued tickets to purchasers of lots in these words:
No. 15. Bassettown, October, 1781
This will entitle Charles Dodd to receive a sufficient title, subject to one dollar a year in specie, for a lot marked in the original plan of said town, 58, provided there shall be erected thereon, on or before the thirtieth day of October, 1784, a house eighteen feet square at least, with a stone or brick chimney therein. DAVID ROGE.
On the 21st of July, 1784, this lot, with the house, was sold to John Dodd, for £300 Pennsylvania currency. It is situated on Main Street and the corner of Strawberry Alley, now owned by Jas. G. Strean, upon which is erected a three-story house, iron front, occupied by Mr. Robert F. Strean's hardware store and the Reporter printing office.
William Darby, Esq., in the year 1845, and then in the 71st year of his age, in speaking of Bassettown (now Washington), said: In the fall of 1782, the site where Washington now stands was a vast thicket of black and red hawthorn, wild plums, hazel bushes, shrub oaks, and briers; often I have picked hazel-nuts where the court-house now stands. The yell of the savage rung in fancy's ear and alas too often in the heart of the dying victim. The whole country was a dense forest, only broken by small patches, with dead trees, made so by the axe of the early pioneer.
Bassettown, under the proprietorship of David Hoge, improved but slowly, there being but two deeds on record prior to its sale in 1785, one to James Marshall, February 8, 1785, and the other to Charles Dodd, July 21, 1784. After John and William Hoge had purchased the town, and added the addition thereto of all the lots south of Maiden Street, and divided the land into outlets, a new impetus was given to the town, and lots sold rapidly and houses were speedily erected thereon.
In this connection, we may add that Robert Fulton, of steamboat notoriety, held three lots ill Washington. While sojourning in London, in 1793, he directed Mr. Hoge to make deeds of these three lots to his three sisters, Mrs. David, Morris (No.4), Mrs. Isabella Cook (No. 118), Mrs. Peggy Scott (No. 125).
In looking over the original lot-holders, and up to the date of incorporation, we find the names of John, William, and David Hoge, Dr. Moore, William Horton, James Marshall, Charles and John Dodd, Absalom Baird, S. Darley, Anthony Horsema.n, J. Lochman, Jos, Harris, Rev. John Casper Sinclair, Thomas and David Acheson, Van Swearingen, D. G. Mitchell, Leonard Boyer, Thomas Hutchinson, D. Moody, Mary Miller, Philip Milsach, Thomas Stokely, Hngh Mears, Margaret Scott (sister of Robert Fulton), D. Blackmore, Hugh Workman, Edward Lynch, Wm. Findley, Alexander Addison, M. Collins, Thomas Bristor, John Standley, T. Woodward, Reasin Beall, Robert Fulton, David Morris, Archibald Kerr, John Wilson, Alexander Reed, John Flake, Daniel Moore, James Goudy, James White, James Gilmore, Isabella Cooke (sister of Robert Fulton), James W. McBeth, Stephen Way, Matthew Ritchie, Hugh Wiley, Robert Hazlett, James Ross, William Meetkirke, Daniel Kehr, Abraham Lattimore, Joseph Seaman, James Orr, J. Purviance, Gabriel Brakeny, Stephen Wood, Hugh and Samuel Workmen, Patrick Bryson, Daniel and Jonathan Leet.
But what changes have been wrought since! The town from several hundred inhabitants has increased to many thousand, its manufacturing, commercial, educational, moral, and religious interests have all been largely developed. The second generation of these pioneers have also been gathered to their fathers, and while the old landmarks remain to point out their homes, where brotherly love, truth, and friendship reigned supreme, the graveyard and the cemetery point to their sacred ashes. Amid the multiplicity of changes, we find the original property only remain in the descendants of John Wilson, Alexander Reed, David Acheson, and Patrick Bryson.
The citizens of Washington knew that their town was inferior to but few of the towns of Pennsylvania, but that it was destitute of many useful improvements, which could not be accomplished without being incorporated as a borough. Their streets were not regulated, and, during some of the winter months, not being piked, were almost impassable; the sideways were not paved, neither was there public spirit enough to purchase a fire-engine to make provision against fire. In the midst of these discouragements and difficulties, a town meeting was called on February 6, 1795, to consider the necessity of petitioning the legislature for an act of incorporation. The people met and discussed the question, but the principal objection was that the taxes would be greatly increased, and that a few men would have the control and direction of the borough affairs. These sentiments prevailed, and the question was ventilated through the Western Telegraph, then published at Washington. A writer, who signs himself "Tom Stick In the Mud," thus sarcastically writes upon the subject: "For my part I've lived all my born days, and my posterity before me and my children after me, up to the eyes in mud and never a bit the worse for it, and I can't see why other people should think themselves better stuff than we. I loves fun, and, at our end of the town, it would sometimes make you die with laughing to see your calico-carcassed, spindle-shanked folks sticking fast in a crossing-place and leaving their shoes behind them."
Public Buildings - Page 136
The public buildings in Washington Borough consist of the court-house, containing the court, jury, and library room, and the public offices, the gaol [jail], the old market house, town hall, containing an audience room, council chamber, post office, citizens' library, engine house, and market house, Washington and Jefferson college, First Presbyterian church, Methodist Episcopal church, United Presbyterian church, Methodist Protestant church, Trinity Episcopal church, German Evangelical Lutheran church, Second Presbyterian church, Roman Catholic church, Cumberland Presbyterian church, Disciples of Christ, Baptist church, African Methodist Episcopal church, Wright's Chapel (African), Franklin Bank of Washington, Female Seminary, Union School building, Washington gas works, Washington cemetery, Washington coal works.
Washington Gas Works - Page 207
The first meeting for the establishment of gas works in the borough of Washington was held on the 26th of August, 1856. The citizens engaged in the enterprise; procured a charter, which designated as its managers Collin M. Reed, Jos. Henderson, Simon Cort, Jacob Slagle, Charles W. Hays, Freeman Brady, Jr., J. L. Judson, Jas. W. Koontz, and Alexander Seaman. This board of Managers procured the sale of Stock, and by the terms of the charter, a new Board was elected January 18, 1857, consisting of Samuel Hazlett, C. M. Reed, Dr. F. J. Lemoyne, William Smith, Jacob Miller, Alexander Wilson, and Joseph Henderson. After its organization Messrs. Lemoyne, Hazlett, and Miller were appointed to purchase a suitable lot of ground, erect the necessary buildings, and contract with Mr. Stephenson for their erection.
The company has a capital stock of twenty thousand seven hundred and seventy-five dollars, divided into eight hundred and thirty-one shares of twenty-five dollars each.
The estimated value of the gas works is thirty thousand dollars. The officers are C. M. Reed, President; John C. Hastings, Secretary and Treasurer.
Washington Cemetery - Page 207
A desire among the people of Washington and its vicinity to have an appropriate place for their honored dead led to the organization of the Washington Cemetery Company. An application was made to the court, and on the 3d day of March, 1853, a charter was granted to the following corporations, viz: Samuel Cunningham, James Watson, †George Lonkert, John D. Chambers, Hon. Alex. W. Acheson, †James Brown, Joseph Henderson, †R. F. Cooper, †James Ewing, †John L. Gow, John H. Ewing, Dr. John W. Wishart, Hon. Wm. McKennan, David S. Wilson, O. B. McFadden, Alex. Murdoch, William Hopkins, S. B. Hays, John Hall, Franklin Nichol, and Dr. M. H. Clark.
The charter obtained, named the following persons as the Board of Managers: Rev. Thos. Hanna, D. D., John L. Gow, Hon. Alex. W. Acheson, William Hopkins, James Watson, Jas. Brice, and D. S. Wilson, who were authorized to purchase land, fill vacancies, and perform such other acts as would promote the interest of the cemetery.
The legislature passed an act that all the lots should be forever exempt from taxation and free from seizure, levy, and sale, and also provided for its general protection. The company owns fifty acres of land, and have sold lots amounting to twenty-two thousand dollars, which has been appropriated to the erection of a superintendent's house, fencing and improving the grounds, as originally laid out by Mr. Chislett. So devoted have the lot-holders been to beautifying and adorning the resting-place of those who were near and dear to them, that the estimated value of the improvements is two hundred thousand dollars. While the larger portion of the lot-holders reside in the borough, yet the people of the county feel interested in this cemetery, and here deposit their friends in an appropriate resting place, which we may well call the great city of the illustrious and honored dead.
The managers of the company have generously appropriated grounds for the burial of the soldiers who died in defence of the Constitution, and in these grounds the soldiers' monument is to be erected, which will add another beautiful structure to the many which already can be seen, calling to remembrance the virtues of those who have passed into the spirit-land, and whose names are engraved not only upon marble, but upon the tablet of the memory of human hearts.
† Those to whose names a cross is prefixed, have since died, and are buried in the cemetery, except R. F. Cooper, who died on the battle-field.
Washington Coal Company - Page 208
This company is situate in the western limits of the borough, the owners of which are Messrs. Parkin, Marshall & Co., who on August 24, 1864, commenced sinking a shaft for bituminous coal, with which our county abounds. They were successful on the 12th day of August, 1865, being one year engaged in the enterprise before their wishes were both realized and gratified. The perpendicular depth of the shaft is three hundred and fifty feet, but at an angle of forty-five degrees, which is the descent to the coal, by a stationary engine and cars, it is five hundred feet. The company employ thirty hands, digging daily one thousand bushels, and the improvements, with the coal right, are estimated as worth thirty thousand dollars.
As it will be interesting to my geological readers to know the various strata through which the workmen passed, I shall give them as detailed to me by Mr. Parkin, the senior partner. Passing down below the soil and clay four feet, was blue clay, then five feet of gravel, then eighteen inches of black slate, like roofing slate, then a four feet bed of limestone, next fifteen feet of a blue clay or schale like fire-proof brick is made of, then an eight inch vein of coal, next six feet of gray schale like fire-proof clay, then five feet of freestone, then one hundred and seventy feet of gray limestone between beds varying from six inches to three feet. In this, however, is twenty feet of white limestone, about the centre of the foregoing depth of one hundred and seventy feet. In this white limestone, which is one hundred and fifty feet from the surface, are salt springs. Immediately below the gray limestone is twelve feet of black slate, such as is found at Cook's Mill, two miles north of Washington, then eight feet of gray limestone of a soft nature, then five feet of gray flinty limestone (the hardest they had met with), fifty feet of blue schale, and mixed with iron, until they reached sandstone, which was fifteen feet deep, mixed with fossils of various kinds, then three feet of slate, under which was a vein of pure bituminous coal of five feet six inches.