History of Cumberland Township, Greene County, Pa.
From: History of Greene County, Pennsylvania
By: Samuel P. Bates.
Nelson, Ruchforth & Co., Chicago. 1888.


CUMBERLAND TOWNSHIP was probably one of the first settled townships in Greene County. John Swan, as early as 1767, looked upon the stately forests that encumbered all the valley of Pumpkin Bun with an eye of satisfaction, and to give notice that he had chosen this location for himself proceeded to put his mark upon it by blazing the trees around a goodly circuit, a warning to all intruders to stand clear of this tract. This method of marking a tract was called a tomahawk improvement, and though it secured no legal right either from the State or the Indians, yet it gave title which it was not safe for a rival settler to disturb, and many a bloody fight was the result when a daring pioneer was bold enough to intrude upon selected lands thus blazed. In 1768-'69 he returned and made here a fixed habitation. He was accompanied by Thomas Hughes and Jesse Van meter, who united their strengths for mutual protection. As the treacherous savages were stealing upon their victims by night and by day, and murdering and scalping those whom they had perhaps never seen before, sparing neither age, sex, nor condition, these early pioneers determined to provide for the safety of their families, and accordingly built a strong stockade, which has ever since been known as old Fort Swan and Yanmeter. It was situated near the border of Cumberland Township, on the spot where the house of Andrew J. Young stands, and was a noted rallying point in its day for the venturesome pioneers and their families. This fort was erected in the years 1770-'71. John Swan was the great grandfather of Mrs. Young, whose home is on this ground, originally inclosed by the strong stockade, and which was hallowed by many sighs and tears of the early pioneers. These were the very earliest permanent settlements within the limits of Greene County.

This was one of the original townships and embraced all the southwestern portion of the county. It possessed the most fertile soil and most attractive natural scenery of any part of this beautiful stretch of country bordering on the Ohio and its tributaries. The farms here are under a high state of cultivation, the residences and out buildings are commodious and in good repair, and the whole section breathes an air of prosperity, contentment and happiness. Thins imperial township has been despoiled, as slice after slice has been taken troin it to form other townships, until it is now reduced to little more than the valley of Muddy Creek, which is among the best improved parts of the county. Pumpkin Run drains a portion of it on the north, and little Whiteley on the south. It has a goodly frontage upon the Monongahela River, and is crossed by five ferries, Davidson's lower ferry, Flenniken's, near the mouth of Muddy Creek, Brown's, which meets the road from Cannichaels and the Green woolen mills, Parker's Landing and McCann's ferry, a little below the mouth of the Little Whiteley Creek. Its present limits are formed by the Monongahela on the east, Jefferson Township on the north and west, and Greene and Monongahela townships on the south.

In the year 1768 John Swan, Jacob Vanmeter, Thomas Hughes and Thomas Guesse, came from the neighborhood of Redstone Fork, which seems to have been the first stopping place of the immigrants to this new country, and charmed by the rich bottom lauds along Muddy Creek settled in the neighborhood of Carmichaels, in Cumberland Township, and opened the forest and let in the sunlight for the first time in the vicinity of this ancient village, destined to be the seat of the oldest institution of learning in Greene County.

Mr. Evans in his thirty first article gives an amusing account of the origin of the name of Muddy Creek. On one occasion when Swan and Hughes,who were among the first settlers, were crossing this stream, Swan's horse stumbled and threw its rider into the water. Gathering himself up and shaking the turbid water from his garments, he remarked in some temper, "its a muddy little brook anyhow." He was often rallied upon this adventure, and the name Muddy Creek has stuck to this stream ever since and is likely to as long as it continues to flow. In 1768 these two men brought their families, Swan taking his negro slaves, a goodly number, which were probably the first human chattels brought into the county. Subsequently a number of families from Maryland and Virginia brought thither slaves. Along with these two came also Henry and Jacob Yanmeter, with wagons and pack horses, altogether a train of over fifty persons. They followed Braddock's road in the main. Henry Vanmeter occupied the tract now known as the Randolph settle: went. Old trees near the house of Michael' Price mark the spot where his first cabin stood An Indian burying ground was on the crest of the high bluff overlooking Pumpkin Run upon the south. Until the massacre by Logan and his band, in 1774, there was no trouble with the Indians. Though for safety it had become necessary to have a place of refuge, and a fort was built on John Swan's farm, known as Swan and Vanmeter's fort.

"My informant," says Evans, "spent much of her time in the family of her grandfather, with whom her great grandmother, Martha Vanmeter, lived. Being twelve years old when the great grand mother died, she has a very distinct recollection of many incidents related to her of the early settlers. Their flour, salt, and ammunition, and all farming and household utensils were transported on pack horses from Cumberland, Md. Their corn was ground on hand mills. Granny Vanmeter told of a young girl, her niece, who was captured by the Indians, and who, after being carried many miles away managed to make her escape; that while wandering in the woods alone she subsisted on roots and wild berries; how when she had found a dead rattlesnake, she cooked and ate it, and ever afterwards persisted in pronouncing it the sweetest bit she ever tasted; and how she finally made her way home and made glad the hearts of her friends."

An oath of allegiance to the State by Henry Vannaeter, a warrant to Charles Swan for a thousand acres of land on the payment of £400, a receipt for $1 subscription to the Pittsburg Gazette, dated July 15, 1795, to Charles Swan, notification to Col. Charles Swan, dated 1810, of the passage of an act granting $2,000 for Greensburg Academy, at Carmichaels, provided that the Episcopal Church, of which Swan was an active member, would allow the use of its church edifice, are all given by Evans entire, copied from the original papers. The son of John Swan emigrated to Kentucky with his family, and while lying asleep on the craft that was taking him down the Ohio, with his little daughter in his arms, was shot and instantly killed by the Indians. "So fatal was the shot that those on the boat were not aware that anything serious had happened till the little girl exclaimed, 'Oh, papa is shot, for I feel his warm blood running down over me!' There was now but one man, Hughes, left on the boat, whilst the Indians, several in number, kept up a continuous fire. The dead man's wife bravely aided in the defense of the craft by loading the guns and handing them to Hughes."

Colonel Charles Swan married Sarah, daughter of Henry Vanmeter, who, as a girl of ten, had ridden all the way from Maryland, on horseback, with Swan. He built a cabin in 1772 near the creek in the Carmichaels Valley, now owned by John Hathaway.

Carmichaels, a village of some thousand inhabitants, is situated on Muddy Creek, at nearly the centre of the township. At an early day it became the favored location of the County Academy, which attained a well merited reputation for excellence. An Episcopal church was early established here, and in its place of worship the County Academy for many years held its sessions. The New Providence Presbyterian Church is located pear the village. The Rev. John McMillan preached here as early as August, 1775. The Rev. John McClintock commenced his ministry here in 1838, and for a period of full fifty years he has been pastor of this flock, - the semi-centennial of hips settlement having recently been celebrated, - a venerable service scarcely matched in the history of churches. The usual business arid manufacturing establishments are found here, and from its favored location in the midst of a rich farming country it is destined to hold an important place as the second town in the county. It is about thirteen miles east of Waynesburg, and four from the Monongahela River. The ferries of Davidson, Fleniken, Brown, Parker and McCann connect the township with Fayette County. By the earliest records under the revised school law Cumberland is shown to have twelve schools and 581 pupils. A good graded school has taken the place of the Academy in Carmichaels, which, as an incorporated borough, is independent of the township, having three schools with 120 pupils. The report of 1859 credits this township with "quite a number of right minded school men." The progress in common school education for the past few years has been commendable. The board of directors for Carmichaels for the current year is J. A. Gilbert, President; L. B. Laidley, Secretary; F. W. Rodgers. J. F. Gwynn, James Clawson and Ed. Stillwell, and for the township A. J. Young, President; T. H. Hawkins, Secretary; G. W. Daugherty, W. H. Barclay, Arch Grooms, and George Kerr.

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