Fayette County Historical Society/Abel Colley Tavern & Museum

Fayette County Historical Society/Abel Colley Tavern & Museum A non-profit volunteer group interested in preserving the history of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. Our museum was built by 1850 by Abel Colley.
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It served as a family home as well as a tavern. The home was donated to the Society by Virginia & Warren Dick. Our Officers:
President - Chris Buckelew
Vice President - Bill Zinn
Secretary - Joe Lofstead
Treasurer - Mary Kay Karolewics

Board Members:
Vince Karolewics
Connie Kikta
Laurel Miller
Carney Rigg
Dwayne Santella
Jackie Stefanik
Joyce Stewart

We maintain, volunteer, and conduct tours at the Abel Colley Tavern and Searights Tollhouse.

Operating as usual

If you were traveling West on the old National Road, the first tavern you would encounter would be the Shellbark.  You c...
07/05/2021

If you were traveling West on the old National Road, the first tavern you would encounter would be the Shellbark. You could see it from the Great Crossing Bridge. Peter Lenhart was the innkeeper. It was built by a man named Ebert, a tanner and justice of the peace, as a private residence. The two-story house was made of logs but then weather-boarded and sold to Peter's father as a private residence until his death. His son, Peter, opened it as a tavern and added a distillery. He was known to be eccentric and had two tones in his voice like Orator Puff. Every morning he would butter a large slice of bread and eat it with a glass of whiskey. After his death his wife and daughter stayed in the old house, and sometimes entertained travelers satisfactorily. In 1914, a man journaled that four friends went to the old Shellbark and were given a good supper for 50 cents each and were given two rooms for the night at 25 cents each. The beds were comfortable enough and being tired expected a good night's sleep. After settling down the visitors said, "the live stock, whose ancestors probably arrived in Shellbark during pike days, became very active and we spent most of the night in a game with the little bugs as they scampered across the white sheets. The next morning we were served with a good breakfast of fired potatoes, flapjacks with maple syrup and plenty of butter and sausage on the side." The origin of the name Shellbark is a mystery, unless it has some reference to those little hard-backed bugs.

The first photo, showing the bridge and the Shellbark in the distance, was recently donated by Mel Remington. We thank Mel for his generosity.

Chris

On July 4, 2021, Uniontown will celebrate its 245th birthday.  Uniontown was founded by Henry and Jacob Beeson.  They we...
07/03/2021

On July 4, 2021, Uniontown will celebrate its 245th birthday. Uniontown was founded by Henry and Jacob Beeson. They were the sons of the Reverend Richard and Charity (Grubb) Beeson. They were Quakers and the parents of many, many children. Henry was born in 1743 and he married Ann Mary Martin. Jacob was born in 1741 and he married Elizabeth Hedges. The documents show the town lottery and the lots. I don't know where the originals are located but it would be wonderful to see them. The Historical Society does own a Beeson Indenture document dating to the early 1800's. From all that is known, the Beeson brothers were industrious and generous. Jacob entertained General George Washington when he visited Uniontown in 1784. That must have been quite the experience for his family.

The last photo shows Ephraim Douglas who was the first burgess of the young town. According to The Evening Standard, dated Jan. 12, 1976, Ephraim Douglass was an Indian trader in 1771. By 1776 he was a Quartermaster in the Continental Army. While aide-de-camp to Major General Lincoln, he was captured by British Lord Cornwallis. For his service to the new nation, he was awarded a tract of land three miles wide and 30 miles long. At the conclusion of the war in 1783, he was paid $500 to inform the Indian tribes of the Northwest that peace had been declared.

On Oct. 6, 1783, Ephraim Douglass was named prothonotary and clerk of courts of the newly formed Fayette County. He held this office uninterruptedly until 1808 when he retired. Upon his arrival in Uniontown he described it as "the most obscure spot on the face of the globe." At that times its courthouse and schoolhouse were in the same building. The town included the Beeson's mill, four taverns, three smithshops, five retail shops, two hatter's shops, one mason, one cake woman, and a distillery over which Douglass lived. When Uniontown was incorporated as a borough on April 4, 1796, he was made chief burgess. Douglass was also treasurer and brigadier general of Fayette County. The general was a most imposing figure. During the Whiskey Insurrection of 1794, Liberty Poles in defiance of the whiskey tax were erected in town and General Douglass tore them down in defense of the law. At his death, July 17, 1833, he was 84 years old. Although he never married, he did acknowledge his offspring. But that's a story for another day.

So on behalf of the Fayette County Historical Society, Happy 245th Independence Day to our country and Happy 245th Birthday to Uniontown.

Chris

Included in the collection of postcards donated to the Society from Mel Remington, is this unique photo of the D. Rush s...
07/02/2021

Included in the collection of postcards donated to the Society from Mel Remington, is this unique photo of the D. Rush summer home in Farmington. The closest I could find to a D. Rush was a Delbert Rush who was born in Farmington in 1870. He was the son of John and Lucinda "Hager" Rush. Along with his wife Blanche they had two sons, John and Charles. Delbert was a hotel man in Uniontown. In fact, he managed the Titlow Hotel for a number of years. He passed away in 1952 and was buried in Farmington.

If any of you have any information about this house, we would love hearing from you. Thanks, Chris

Included in the collection of postcards donated to the Society from Mel Remington, is this unique photo of the D. Rush summer home in Farmington. The closest I could find to a D. Rush was a Delbert Rush who was born in Farmington in 1870. He was the son of John and Lucinda "Hager" Rush. Along with his wife Blanche they had two sons, John and Charles. Delbert was a hotel man in Uniontown. In fact, he managed the Titlow Hotel for a number of years. He passed away in 1952 and was buried in Farmington.

If any of you have any information about this house, we would love hearing from you. Thanks, Chris

Yesterday I thanked my cousin Mel Remington for his generous donation of a collection of postcards.  The first two image...
07/01/2021

Yesterday I thanked my cousin Mel Remington for his generous donation of a collection of postcards. The first two images of the famous Connellsville centennial HC Frick Company arch are part of that collection. The last three images are part of my collection and I have posted them previously but thought it would be nice to be able to compare them.

The centennial celebration was hold on August 14, 15, 16 and 17. The Centennial Association consisted of: Rockwell Marietta, Worth Kilpatrick, Joseph Soisson, F.E. Markell, L.F. Ruth, Kell Long, W.D. McGinnis, R.S. Coll, I.W. Rutter, Clair Stillwagon, Josiah Kurtz, W.F. Brooks, C.M. Hyatt, P.S. Newmeyer, Frank Bradford, Charles Davidson, John Sherrick, J.D. Madigan, P. J. Harrigan, Q. Marietta, Robert Felty, R.D. North, John Dean, A.D. Soisson, George B. Brown, Harry Dunn, I. Aaron, Col. J.M. Reid, E. C. Higbee, B.F. Boyts, Robert Norris, R.A. Doerner, William McCormick, John Irwin, George Porter and H.P. Snyder.

The arch was built under the direction o f three Frick superintendents, P.J. Tormay, C.B. Franks and R.C. Beerbower. Chief electrician W.W. Horner arranged the 657 incandescent lights. The coal and coke used in its construction was picked from the mines and yards of the three plants. It was located on the Brimstone corner.

I imagine the people of Connellsville were sad to see it go.

Chris

My cousin Mel Remington won an auction of a collection of postcards recently and he decided to donate this valuable coll...
06/30/2021

My cousin Mel Remington won an auction of a collection of postcards recently and he decided to donate this valuable collection to the Historical Society. Some of you may have noticed Mel's helping us to identify all things associated with the early coal mining industry in Fayette County. We always appreciate his expertise. So now we will have fun sharing this collection with all of you. The first card shows a street scene in Connellsville. It dates to 1913. The second photo is one I posted earlier of the same area but with a different view but taken around the same time. There are some stately homes in Connellsville.

Once again, thanks to Mel. Chris

On the back of this photo is written:  "Memories of Dickerson Run, Pa, Compliments of M. L. Johnson  March, 19, 1919.  N...
06/29/2021

On the back of this photo is written: "Memories of Dickerson Run, Pa, Compliments of M. L. Johnson March, 19, 1919. No other information, including the names of the people in the photograph, is provided. Dickerson Run was once a thriving railroad town. Tri-Town was the name given to Dickerson Run, Vanderbilt and Dawson. East Liberty was also part of those communities. My grandfather was a railroad man from that area and my great grandfather, Isaac Colbert owned a general store in East Liberty.

There are some houses on a hill in the background. Would you know the name of the community behind them?

Chris

On the back of this photo is written: "Memories of Dickerson Run, Pa, Compliments of M. L. Johnson March, 19, 1919. No other information, including the names of the people in the photograph, is provided. Dickerson Run was once a thriving railroad town. Tri-Town was the name given to Dickerson Run, Vanderbilt and Dawson. East Liberty was also part of those communities. My grandfather was a railroad man from that area and my great grandfather, Isaac Colbert owned a general store in East Liberty.

There are some houses on a hill in the background. Would you know the name of the community behind them?

Chris

Whiskey Rebellion Statue ( Washington , PA )
06/27/2021

Whiskey Rebellion Statue ( Washington , PA )

The Whiskey Rebellion, also known as the Whiskey Insurrection, was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. The so-called "whiskey tax" was the first tax imposed on a domestic product by the newly formed federal government. It became law in 1791, and was intended to generate revenue to help reduce the national debt. Although the tax applied to all distilled spirits, whiskey was by far the most popular distilled beverage in the 18th-century U.S. Because of this, the excise became widely known as a "whiskey tax". The new excise was a part of U.S. treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton's program to fund war debt incurred during the American Revolutionary War.
The tax was resisted by farmers in the western frontier regions who were long accustomed to distilling their surplus grain and corn into whiskey. In these regions, whiskey was sufficiently popular that it often served as a medium of exchange. Many of the resisters were war veterans who believed that they were fighting for the principles of the American Revolution, in particular against taxation without local representation, while the U.S. federal government maintained the taxes were the legal expression of the taxation powers of Congress. The federal tax inspector for western Pennsylvania, General John Neville, was determined to enforce the excise law. Neville, a prominent politician and wealthy planter, was also a large-scale distiller. He had initially opposed the whiskey tax, but subsequently changed his mind, a reversal that angered some western Pennsylvanians. In August 1792, Neville rented a room in Pittsburgh for his tax office, but the landlord turned him out after being threatened with violence by the Mingo Creek Association. From this point on, tax collectors were not the only people targeted in Pennsylvania: those who cooperated with federal tax officials also faced harassment. Anonymous notes and newspaper articles signed by "Tom the Tinker" threatened those who complied with the whiskey tax. Those who failed to heed the warnings might have their barns burned or their stills destroyed.
Throughout counties in Western Pennsylvania, protesters used violence and intimidation to prevent federal officials from collecting the tax. Resistance to the excise tax continued through 1793 in the frontier counties of Appalachia. Opposition remained especially strident in western Pennsylvania. In June, Neville was burned in effigy by a crowd of about 100 people in Washington County. An effigy is a representation of a specific person in the form of sculpture or some other three-dimensional medium. On the night of 22 November 1793, men broke into the home of tax collector Benjamin Wells in Fayette County. Wells was, like Neville, one of the wealthier men in the region. At gunpoint, the intruders forced Wells to surrender his commission. President Washington offered a reward for the arrest of the assailants, to no avail. * ( Insurrection 1794 ) The resistance came to a climax in 1794. In May of that year, federal district attorney William Rawle issued subpoenas for more than 60 distillers in Pennsylvania who had not paid the excise tax. Under the law then in effect, distillers who received these writs would be obligated to travel to Philadelphia to appear in federal court. For farmers on the western frontier, such a journey was expensive, time-consuming, and beyond their means. At the urging of William Findley, Congress modified this law on 5 June 1794, allowing excise trials to be held in local state courts. But by that time, U.S. marshal David Lenox had already been sent to serve the writs summoning delinquent distillers to Philadelphia. Attorney General William Bradford later maintained that the writs were meant to compel compliance with the law, and that the government did not actually intend to hold trials in Philadelphia.
* ( Battle of Bower Hill )
Federal Marshal Lenox delivered most of the writs without incident. On July 15 , 1794 he was joined on his rounds by General Neville, who had offered to act as his guide in Allegheny County. That evening, warning shots were fired at the men at the Miller farm, about 10 mi (16 km) south of Pittsburgh. Neville returned home, while Lenox retreated to Pittsburgh.
On 16 July, at least 30 Mingo Creek militiamen surrounded Neville's fortified home, Bower Hill. They demanded the surrender of the federal marshal, whom they believed to be inside. Neville responded by firing a gunshot that mortally wounded Oliver Miller, one of the "rebels". The rebels opened fire, but were unable to dislodge Neville, who had his slaves help to defend the house. The rebels retreated to nearby Couch's Fort to gather reinforcements.
The next day, 17 July, the rebels returned to Bower Hill. Their force had swelled to nearly 600 men, now commanded by Major James McFarlane, a veteran of the Revolutionary War.[64] Neville had also received reinforcements: 10 U.S. Army soldiers from Pittsburgh under the command of Major Abraham Kirkpatrick, a brother-in-law of Neville's wife. Before the rebel force arrived, Kirkpatrick had Neville leave the house and hide in a nearby ravine. David Lenox and General Neville's son, Presley Neville, also returned to the area, though they could not get into the house and were captured by the rebels.
Following some fruitless negotiations, the women and children were allowed to leave the house, and then both sides began firing. After about an hour, McFarlane called a cease fire; according to some, a white flag had been waved in the house. As McFarlane stepped into the open, a shot rang out from the house, and he fell, mortally wounded. The enraged rebels then set fire to the house, including the slave quarters, and Kirkpatrick surrendered. The number of casualties at Bower Hill is unclear; McFarlane and one or two other militiamen were killed; one U.S. soldier may have died from wounds received in the fight. The rebels sent the U.S. soldiers away. Kirkpatrick, Lenox, and Presley Neville were kept as prisoners, but they later escaped. * ( March on Pittsburgh ) Major James McFarlane was given a hero's funeral on July 18. His "murder", as the rebels saw it, further radicalized the countryside. Moderates such as Brackenridge were hard-pressed to restrain the populace. Radical leaders such as David Bradford emerged, urging violent resistance. On 26 July, a group headed by Bradford robbed the U.S. mail as it left Pittsburgh, hoping to discover who in that town opposed them. Finding several letters that condemned the rebels, Bradford and his band called for a military assembly to meet at Braddock's Field, about 8 mi (13 km) east of Pittsburgh.
On 1 August, about 7,000 people gathered at Braddock's Field. This would prove to be the largest gathering of protesters. The crowd consisted primarily of poor people who owned no land. Most did not own whiskey stills. The furor over the whiskey excise had unleashed anger about other economic grievances. By this time, the victims of violence were often wealthy property owners who had no connection to the whiskey tax. Some of the most radical protesters wanted to march on Pittsburgh, which they called "Sodom", loot the homes of the wealthy, and then burn the town to the ground. Others wanted to attack Fort Fayette. There was praise for the French Revolution, and of bringing the guillotine to America. David Bradford, it was said, was comparing himself to Robespierre, a leader of the French Reign of Terror.
At Braddock's Field, there was talk of declaring independence from the United States, and of joining with Spain or Great Britain. Radicals flew a specially designed flag that proclaimed their independence. The flag had six stripes, one for each county represented at the gathering: five Pennsylvania counties (Allegheny, Bedford, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland) and one Virginia county (Ohio County).
Pittsburgh citizens helped defuse the threat by banishing three men whose intercepted letters had given offense to the rebels, and by sending a delegation to Braddock's Field that expressed support for the gathering. Brackenridge prevailed upon the crowd to limit the protest to a defiant march through the town. In Pittsburgh, only the barns of Major Kirkpatrick were torched. * ( Meeting at Whiskey Point ) On August 14 , 1794 a convention of 226 whiskey rebels from the six counties was held at Parkison's Ferry (now known as Whiskey Point), present-day Monongahela , Pennsylvania . The convention considered resolutions, which were drafted by Brackenridge, Gallatin, David Bradford, and an eccentric preacher named Herman Husband, a delegate from Bedford County. Husband, a well-known local figure, was a radical champion of democracy who had taken part in the Regulator movement in North Carolina 25 years earlier. The Parkison's Ferry convention also appointed a committee to meet with the peace commissioners who had been sent west by President Washington. There, Gallatin presented an eloquent speech in favor of peace and against proposals from Bradford to further revolt. * ( Negotiations ) In early August 1794, Washington dispatched three commissioners, all of them Pennsylvanians, to the west: Attorney General William Bradford, Justice Jasper Yeates of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and Senator James Ross. Beginning on 21 August, the commissioners met with a committee of westerners that included Brackenridge and Gallatin. The government commissioners told the committee that it must unanimously agree to renounce violence and submit to U.S. laws, and that a popular referendum must be held to determine if the local people supported the decision. Those who agreed to these terms would be given amnesty from further prosecution. The committee, divided between radicals and moderates, narrowly passed a resolution agreeing to submit to the government's terms. The popular referendum, which was held on 11 September, also produced mixed results. Some townships overwhelmingly supported submitting to U.S. law, but opposition to the government remained strong in areas where poor and landless people predominated. The final report of the commissioners recommended the use of the military to enforce the laws. The trend was towards submission, however, and westerners dispatched two representatives, William Findley and David Redick, to meet with Washington and to halt the progress of the oncoming army. Washington and Hamilton declined, arguing that violence was likely to reemerge if the army turned back. * (Washington's Militia expedition ) Under the authority of the recently passed federal militia law, the state militias were called up by the governors of New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The federalized militia force of 12,950 men was a large army by American standards of the time, comparable to Washington's armies during the Revolution. Because relatively few men volunteered for militia service, a draft was used to fill out the ranks. Draft evasion was widespread, and conscription efforts resulted in protests and riots, even in eastern areas. Three counties in eastern Virginia were the scenes of armed draft resistance. In Maryland, Governor Thomas Sim Lee sent 800 men to quash an antidraft riot in Hagerstown; about 150 people were arrested. Liberty poles were raised in various places as the militia was recruited, worrying federal officials. A liberty pole was raised in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, on 11 September 1794. When the federalized militia arrived in that town later that month, suspected pole-raisers were rounded up. Two civilians were killed in these operations. On 29 September, an unarmed boy was shot by an officer whose pistol accidentally fired. Two days later, a man was stabbed to death by a soldier while resisting arrest. President Washington ordered the arrest of the two soldiers and had them turned over to civilian authorities. A state judge determined the deaths had been accidental, and the soldiers were released.
In October 1794, Washington traveled west to review the progress of the military expedition. According to historian Joseph Ellis, this would be "the first and only time a sitting American president led troops in the field". Jonathan Forman, who led the Third Infantry Regiment of New Jersey troops against the Whiskey Rebellion, wrote about his encounter with Washington: "October 3d Marched early in the morning for Harrisburgh, where we arrived about 12 O'clock. About 1 O'Clock recd. information of the Presidents approach on which, I had the regiment paraded, timely for his reception, & considerably to my satisfaction. Being afterwards invited to his quarters he made enquiry into the circumstances of the man [an incident between a militia man and an old soldier mentioned earlier in the journal] & seemed satisfied with the information." Washington met with the western representatives in Bedford, Pennsylvania, on October 9 before going to Fort Cumberland in Maryland to review the southern wing of the army.Convinced the federalized militia would meet little resistance, he placed the army under the command of the governor of Virginia, Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee, a Hero of the Revolutionary War , and Father of Civil War General Robert E Lee . Washington returned to Philadelphia; Hamilton remained with the army as civilian adviser.
The insurrection collapsed as the army marched into western Pennsylvania in October 1794. Some of the most prominent leaders of the insurrection, like David Bradford, fled westward to safety. After an investigation, federal government officials arrested about 20 people and brought them back to Philadelphia for trial.Eventually, a federal grand jury indicted 24 men for high treason. Most of the accused had eluded capture, so only ten men stood trial for treason in federal court. Of these, only Philip Wigle , and John Mitchell were convicted. Wigle had beaten up a tax collector and burned his house; Mitchell was a simpleton who had been convinced by David Bradford to rob the U.S. mail. Both men were sentenced to death by hanging, but they were pardoned by President Washington. Pennsylvania state courts were more successful in prosecuting lawbreakers, securing numerous convictions for assault and rioting. * ( Whiskey Rebellion Statue ) This Statue is located on South Main Street in Washington Pennsylvania . Click On This Link For More Information about The Whiskey Rebellion . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiskey_Rebellion

Address

7083 National Pike
Smock, PA
15480

General information

Mailing address: Fayette County Historical Society PO Box 193 Uniontown, PA 15401 (Note: there is not a mailbox at the museum) Membership Information: Membership is open to individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in learning and preserving the history of Fayette County and furthering the purposes of the Society. The annual membership period is January 1st through December 31st. Membership Categories: Individual $ Student $ Family $ Affiliate $ Members will receive our newsletter, information on monthly meetings and advance notification of events and exhibits. Members will also be invited to our Summer picnic and our annual Christmas party.

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So, you think Pittsburgh has three rivers? Native Americans and the French only counted two. If we only counted two, we could reasonably argue that the nation's biggest river passes through Pittsburgh! If you'd like to wade into those waters, check out "Let's Drive an Indian Path," the Youtube channel. It's free. It's only 9 minutes long.
Night flight around the courthouse!!๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
Looking for information on Ichabod Ashcraft, my 6th Great Grandfather, and his burial site. Can anyone direct me? Thank you so much.
Anyone that would give myself or my metal detecting club permission to detect on the property looking for old properties ?please message me
Interesting item, sold last January. K. Long signed as treasurer. Any info?
Since the anniversary of the DDay Invasion is tomorrow, should we recognize the members of Fayette County who took part in the Invasion of Normandy
Is the museum now open and if so do you have certain hours and days now open ~ and what is the admission? Thanks for all the work you all are doing for all of Fayette County! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘
William is my great great grandfather. William spent most of his growing up years in the Dunbar area.
Over 50 years ago, a tree was planted at Fayette Campus in memory of Dennis Hipo, an FC grad who was killed in Viet Nam. Is the tree still there? Does anyone remember Dennis?
The latest Let's Drive an Indian Path! Youtube post from the PA Turnpike looks into the love lives of people who used the turnpike when it was a path in the woods. Many of them lived and were buried in Fayette County. You may be surprised how different Love and Marriage was for them. Was it better? I'll let you decide. Check it out, and please support my work with Let's Drive an Indian Path! by subscribing. It's free!
How did the Native American culture survive to do this? Find out by driving with me through the most dangerous place on Earth (that includes Fayette County) at:https://youtu.be/f_2f7q1QeLQ
Indian trails once crossed Fayette County. In fact, they still do. You drive them every day and don't realize it. To find out about those routes, the ancient people who traveled them, and the settlers who followed, check out my recently launched Youtube channel: "Let's Drive an Indian Path."