On the Monongahela River, just where the National Pike crosses into Fayette County, is the old town of West
Brownsville, one of the oldest points of settlement in the county. This is a historic section, and dates back to
the days of William Peters, known among the whites as “Indian Peters,” who was granted a certificate for the land
in 1769. Much has already been said of this man and his association with West Brownsville.
This town is noted as the birthplace of Hon. James G. Blame, Washington County’s most distinguished native son.
He became a United States Senator from Maine, was Secretary of State and in 1884 was the republican candidate for
President of the United States, being defeated by Grover Cleveland.
Neal Gillespie, an ancestor of James G. Blame, purchased this land from “Indian Peters’” widow and son in 1784,
and the land finally descended to Ephraim L. Blame, father of James G. Blame. He resided on the site of the present
town, and the house in which his distinguished son was born stood until about 1896. A hamlet of a few houses was
located at the place until 1831, when Ephrian L. Blame laid out the town of West Brownsville. Other additions have
been made since then until now a town of considerable importance exists there. The old section is a picturesque
place and has not changed much since the early days of the old National Pike. The present borough was incorporated
in August, 1849, and the first meeting of council was held October 23, with Joseph L. Taylor as the first burgess.
The village at this place was known in early times as Krepps’ Ferry, from the ferry conducted there by John Krepps
as early as 1794. Krepps’ Knob, a high hill just back of the town, is still a noted landmark. In the days before
national prohibition the town was famous as the home of Sam Thompson’s original Monongahela rye whisky. The old
wooden bridge, which spanned the Monongahela at this point from 1833 to 1910 was one of the most picturesque on
the old National Pike.
The principal industries are the shops of the Pennsylvania railroad and the coal mines of the adjoining territory.
There was formerly a glass factory located there, but it was dismantled a number of years ago. The schools at the
present time are in charge of O. C. Mundell, principal, and eight teachers. The assessed property valuation is,
$57,706. There are a total of 429 pupils.
St. John’s Episcopal Church began with a Sunday school in 1850, and in 1860 the parish was organized. Owing to
the outbreak of the Civil war it was impossible to complete a church until 1870.
The Church of Christ was located at this place for a number of years, but the members gradually died and moved
to other sections until only a few were in that section. The building was purchased about ten years ago by another
congregation, and resulted in considerable litigation in court between the Church of Christ of Lover and the Church
of Christ at Vanceville, both of which claimed the proceeds of the sale. The latter was finally awarded the money,
it having established its claim.