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


FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, from the fact that the county seat is comprised within its limits, and that it holds a central location in the county, possesses an importance beyond that of any of the others. Franklin was organized as a township in 1787, by act of the Supreme Executive council with less circumscribed boundaries than at present. It is now limited as follows: on the north by Washington, on the east by Morgan Jefferson and Whiteley, on the south by Whiteley and Wayne, and on the west by Centre. It bears the name of one of the early patriots, more honored in foreign lands than any other American citizen. Its surface is diversified by hill and dale, and, though the hills rise to an elevation which may with some propriety be termed mountains, the soil is everywhere productive, copious fountains bursting forth on every hand, even to the loftiest summits. Originally the sugar maple made luxurious growth here, but, as in nearly every other part of the county, the groves of these trees have been swept away, and thus a source of great profit to the husbandman has been cut off. The hay crop in this township is very abundant.

Franklin is principally drained by South Ten Mile Creek and its tributaries. Smith creek drains all the south western section even to its farthest limits. A marked peculiarity of the highways is that they almost exclusively run from north to south, following the valleys, the few connecting roads from east to west forming the exception. The farms in this township are in a high state of cultivation, and exhibit evidences of careful and intelligent tillage. The farm houses are commodious, and those recently built, exhibit evidences of tasteful architecture. Many of the barns are models, and admirably planned to meet the requirements of the husbandman. Waynesburg, the county seat, a place of some 3,400 inhabitants, with Perryville and Morrisville a little to the east and lower down the stream, are the only places of importance. The Washington and Waynesburg railroad enters the township by the Ten Mile Creek valley. On a commanding eminence to the north of the town a beautiful cemetery has been laid out and planted with evergreens and shrubs, and to it many who had been buried in the old bury ground to the east of the town, and from a burying place on the public common, have been removed. In the latter place Robert Whitehill, one of the earliest lawyers in the county, and his son were buried. Their graves were not marked, and in time all recollection of the place where they were interred was lost, so that the grave of him who in life was one of the profoundest lawyers, and brightest ornaments of the Waynesburg bar, is unknown. Further to the west upon a more commanding elevation is the reservoir of the water works, which supplies the town with water, which is pumped from the creek. The original court house was of logs, and was occupied for four years. The brick structure was built in 1800 and stood just fifty years. The present structure was built in 1850, and the addition, of a more modern style of architecture, has but recently been made.

Thomas Slater, from whom, as we have seen, the present site of Waynesburg was purchased, got the land, a 400 acre tract, originally from a party who had made some tomahawk improvement" on it, by the payment of "one 2 year old heifer calf, one flint lock rifle, and some other trifling articles, which the fellow carried away with him." On this tract Slater proceeded to build his cabin, "on a knoll just above the Smith Creek road, and a little southeast of Thomas W. Sayers old barn, which stands directly east of William Johnson's new brick residence in the Sayers' addition to the borough." One Jones occupied the Jesse Hook property, just east of town, and Hathway's mill stood near the site of Hooky's distillery. William Brown owned the tract familiarly known as the Jenning's property, since owned by J. A. J. Buchanan, and on which was a mill in the early days. "An ill fated family by the name of McClelland lived at the mouth of the ravine just below the double bridge. The Archer family resided in the vicinity of Dotysburg. Uriah White first settled somewhere between the mouths of the two Whiteley creeks to which he gave his name and afterwards occupied the Gordon Rich Hills, on the divide between the. Ten Mile slope and the head waters of Big Whiteley creek. In like manner, Thomas Smith perpetuated his name to all succeeding generations by lending it to the then poverty stricken stream which now bears it. William Inghram possessed himself of Laurel Run from the camp ground to the Rich Hills, and erected his cabin on the Hiram Kent farm. Simon Thomas and Samuel Rinehart acquired lands on' Coal Lick Run, including the Poor House farm. Thomas Smith, Thomas Kent, Arthur Inghram, James Porter, and Billy Lafferty raised a crop of corn on the farms owned by Uriah and Josiah Ingrain, on Smith Creek, before the outbreak of the Revolutionary war,"

As we have previously seen the massacre of the Spicer family by the band led by the infuriated Logan, brought to the relief of the settlers, the company of Captain McClure, and his forty men, said to be on their way to join Connoly in 1774, and who came up with the Indians on the Reese farm, about one mile and a quarter west of Waynesburg, when a sanguinary skirmish ensued, known as the battle of Ten Mile Creek, in which the leader, Captain Francis McClure, and James Flenniken, a brother of Judge John Flenniken, were killed, and Lieutenant Samuel Kincaid was severely wounded. The Indians were but few in number, variously reported from four to eight; but, by the cunning so common to their savage instincts, they lured the soldiers to their destruction, and then skulked and escaped though the thickets of the forest, which were familiar to them as the streets of a city to men who inhabit it. "After crossing the creek at the site of the Ely bridge," says Evans, "the trail passed up the deep gulch past where W. P. Reese now resides, and about the route of the old road, and whilst toiling up the steep ascent to the table land beyond, I imagine the Indians who were concealed on the top of the hill, amid the thick forest and foliage that then prevailed, attacked them with the result already set forth."

Admonished, by this sanguinary affray, precautions were taken to prepare a place of safety to which the scattered settlers could betake themselves on the intimations of danger. Jackson's fort was commenced in the same year; 1774, on the Jesse Hook property, then owned by a man by the name of Jackson. His cabin, which was the nucleons of the fort, stood near the bluff of the creek, directly south of Hook's town. Remains of the structure are still visible. At first it was but a single cabin, but subsequently consisted of a regular system of cabins, arranged in the form of a hollow square, and enclosed an acre or more of ground. Between the cabins were palisades ten or twelve feet high, supplied with port holes. Each of the neighboring settlers owned one of these cabins, to which he could flee for refuge in times of danger, in addition to the home on his own tract of land. The doors of these cabins opened within, the inclosuiuclosureutside having neither windows nor doors, except some look out in the upper part of each. There was but one entrance, and when once within, each family controlled its own cabin, the inclosed square being common to all. "Such is a very brief description" says Evans, "of an institninstitutionegarded the hope and salvation of its people. Around this dethinsd spot cluster a myriad of reminiscences, which, if they could be intelligently unravelled, and woven into narrative, would make volumes of interesting matter. The traditions of Jackson's Fort are exceedingly numerous, but are very vague, contradictory, and unsatisfactory." As an example, the story runs that Jackson was once out beyond the site of Jonas Ely's stone house, (Buchanan) when he discovered a party of Indians coining down the Indian trail. They were almost upon him before he saw them. Being unarmed, and seeing no possibility of escape, he seized a club and brandishing it above his head, cried out, "Hurry up boys! Here they are! Come quick and we'll have them!" when the savages thinking they were about to be attacked, took to their heels and soon disappeared in the ample folds of the forest.

Thomas Slater, in the early years of his settlement here, was on terms of intimacy with the Indians, and was accustomed to receive and entertain them in the most friendly manner, pitching quoits, running, leaping, shooting at mark with them. But when the massacres became frequent, he in common with his neighbors, was accustomed to flee, on the approach of savages, to the friendly folds of the fort. On one occasion when the intimation of lurking savages was received he fled hastily for the fort; but recollecting when near the spring on Mrs. D. Owens' lot that he had left his gun, he called to his girls Sallie and Nellie, from ten to fifteen years old, to run back for it. The gun was secured and brought off with the fleetness of the wind, and one tradition says they were greeted with a flight of Barrows from the heights of Duvall's Hill. One of those girls has been known to say that it seemed to her that she not only ran but that she flew. Sarah Slater married Israel White, on the occasion of one of these Indian scares, when the families of all the surrounding country were assembled, who seized the occasion of fright for a genuine merry making. The Rev. David White of Oak Forest, was one of the numerous issue of this marriage. Nellie Slater, the other daughter, mentioned above, married a Mr. Pipes, and was the mother of James Pipes, a former justice of the peace of Franklin Township. Isaac Slater inherited his father's estate and married Mary Workman, who survived her husband and lived to an advanced age in Waynesburg.

On the occasion of one of these general alarms, when the families for a long circuit had gathered in, Matthew Gray, brother of Judge David Gray, who lived on the creek some three miles west of the fort, determined to venture out to see if his house still stood, and to feed and water his stock. Having gone early in the morning, and not returning at night, his brother David leaped upon a colt and started in search of him. On arriving upon the rising ground beyond the creek, above William Reese's residence, he was horrified to behold the body of his brother lying dead in the path, stripped of his clothing, scalped and mutilated, and stiff with cold, it being winter time and the earth covered with snow. Lifting the body upon the colt, he mounted, and thus carried it back to the fort, where it was given decent burial.

Robert Morris says, that Mr. J. A. Gray, of Ten Mile, Washington County, who is a grandson of Matthew Gray, writes him that his grandmother told him that Matthew had been to hips farm at the brick tavern in 1780, or early in 1781, and while returning to the fort he was shot through the knee and his horse killed, that he hobbled on one leg forty or fifty yards west of R. Seales', where he was overtaken, killed, and his body was terribly mutilated His wife and two sons,William, four years old, and another ten months old were in the fort. William could remember seeing his father brought in, dead. He was born in the fort on the 20th of September, 1776. His mother lived with him in Richhill Township, and died on the 20th of September, 1837, in her eighty first year. She gave her grandson a small iron pot, which she used in the fort, which he still keeps and prizes. William died in 1854, and was about seventy eight years old. Matthew Gray, Jr., died in Ohio.

Cotemporary with the Grays were Joseph and James Seals. The latter lived near the site of the toll gate, west of the town, and built the old stone house still standing. He was one of the commissioners for locating the country seat, was appointed "wood ranger," served as Captain of volunteers, and was for a time stationed at Ryerson's fort. He served with Wayne in his heroic campaign against the Indians.

"Three brothers, Simon, Thomas and John Rinehart, Germans, fresh from the Rhine Valley of Faderland, occupied the Coal Lick Run region, and held it by priority of right. They seemed to be on the very verge of the settlement, Jackson fort being the grand center. John, who was the father of the well known John T. Rinehart, now deceased, occupied the farm above the Poor House farm, now owned by J. A. J. Buchanan, Esq. At a time when John T. was but a little babe, his father was lured away from his cabin by what he took to be the bawl of a calf, and was killed and scalped by prowling savages. At a time when an alarm of Indians sent the Rinebarts with hurried feet flying towards the fort, one of them, a young man who lived on the Jenny Rinehart property, a little way above Mr. Buchanan's, after proceeding some distance, remembered that his cattle were penned up in the cow yard. Reflecting that it might be some days before they could venture back to their homes, and considering that if the cattle should be fortunate enough to escape the rapine of the savages they would perish for lack of sustenance, he determined to return and let them out. He did so, but that young man never again was heard of by his friends. Blood stain's and some locks of auburn hair corresponding to his, and other evidences of a death struggle were discovered near the site of the cattle pen, but no other vestiges of his remains could ever be found, though the most thorough search was instituted. The theory was that he was murdered and his body so effectually disposed of as to baffle all efforts to reclaim it.

"Simon Rinehart owned the lands well known as the 'Peggy Porter' and the 'Whitlatch' farms, and William Brown owned the Jennings, more recently known as the Ely farm, west of town, now owned by Mr. Buchanan. In the spring of 1779 these two men traded situations, and in the month of April were actually engaged in moving, when they were attacked by Indians and both killed. After this the contract was annulled, so that none of the older Rineharts ever acquired any possessions west of the fort.

"William Brown and his son Vincent, then an athletic young man, had proceeded with a sled load of their household goods as far down as the site of the old graveyard at the new brick church in Morrisville, where, meeting some friends, they stopped to chat. Whilst thus engaged they were fired upon by Indians who were lying in ambush hard by. William Brown and two others fell dead on the spot, but Vincent, not being hurt, ran like a deer, hotly pursued by one or more of the fleetest savages. He was so hemmed in by the assailants as to be compelled to shape his course in the direction of a perpendicular precipice of about twenty feet on the brink of Ten Mile Creek, just in the rear of the village. There was no alternative but to fall into the hands of the infuriated savages or make the fearful plunge over the cliff into the waters below. It was no time for indecision, and without hesitation he took the flying leap and lit in the middle of the stream, many feet fro the base of the cliff. The Indians paused, awe stricken and overwhelmed with astonishment; and while they gazed with bewilderment and contemplated the wonderful feat, Brown emerged from the water unhurt and undaunted, and continued his flight across the bottom land beyond. Ere his pursuers recovered from their, amazement he had so lengthened the distance between him and them that they gave up the chase.

"A short distance below the old saw mill on Laurel Run, between Morrisville and the Camp Ground, still stands a tree with its trunk inclined and peculiarly curved across the stream. By this the original pathway led. On this an Indian lay concealed, waiting for the approach of Simon Rinehart, who was known to be coining with some of his household effects, transferring them to his newly acquired home. The skulking assassin had not long to wait till his victim appeared, and taking deliberate aim he shattered his arm. Rinehart beat a hasty retreat and endeavored thus to escape; but becoming faint from loss of blood, was overtaken near his home, and tomahawked and scalped. In the meantime Matthew Brown, a lad of about seventeen years, who was riding along on horseback, carrying a load of stuff; and had fortunately loitered some distance behind his father's sled, upon seeing the Indians attack the movers, dashed down his load and rode at the top of his speed to the fort; but was so overcome with fright and horror that he could give no intelligible information, and his mother. Molly Brown, bled him in the arm with a penknife, 'to bring him to,' as she said. It seems that all the women and children had Veen gathered into the fort, but most of the men were at their farms, preparing ground for corn and potatoes. All the men in the fort, except two old men, immediately armed and started for the scene of conflict; but when they arrived the Indians had departed with their scalps and plunder. The scene at the fort had now assumed a comical as well as tragical aspect. The two old men left in charge of the women and children were Thomas Slater and a man named Clifford. They had but one gun. Clifford shouldered the gun, and Slater secured the wiping stick. The women became terribly excited, and cried and screamed at a fearful rate. Growing desperate and impatient, they would unbar the gate and rush out, whilst Slater, who was a very hasty man, would run after them, and, brandishing his wiping stick, would command them to return, and remonstrate with them that the Indians would pounce upon them and murder the whole batch of them. Thus by dint of almost superhuman effort he would prevail on them to return; but no sooner would he turn his back upon the gate till it would he again thrown open, and the distracted crowd rush recklessly out; and thus the excitement continued till the scouting party came in with the four dead' men, when the scene became frantic, beggaring all attempts at description. We can but faintly imagine how frightfully heart rending must have been the spectacle. Barnet Rinehart, who was father of our fellow townsman, Simon Rinehart, Sr., and of Judge James Rinehart, of Cscaloosa, Iowa, and who was one of Greene County's early sheriff's, was then a little boy, but he maintained a very vivid recollection of seeing his dead father brought into the fort, dangling across the bare back of a horse."

As a quite extensive notice of the town of Waynesburg was given in connection with the organization of the county, it is unnecessary to give a more extended notice here. The schools of Franklin Township have always maintained a high standard. By the earliest report the township is credited with eleven schools, with 452 pupils. In the report of 1859 it is reported as having "considerable wealth and sonic enterprising citizens; one very good school, one good school, the rest of the third class." Great improvement has been made in the thirty years that have elapsed, and it now holds a highly creditable rank. The present board of school directors is as follows: John Lapping, President; Jonas Ely, Secretary; T. J. Morris, George Taylor, Daniel Pratt and Inghrain Cummins. The board of Waynesburg is constituted as follows: II. A. Rinehart, J. E. Sayers, W. W. Patterson, A. C. Smalley, P. A. Knox and W. H. Barb.

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