History Penn Township, Westmoreland County, Pa.
From: History of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
By: John N. Boucher
Published By: The Lewis Publishing Company
New York, Chicago, 1906


The application for the organization of this township had been in court for ten years, and was finally favorably considered on February 23, 1855. It was named in honor of William Penn, and was carved from portions of Hempfield, Franklin, Salem and North Huntingdon townships. Included within its bounds is the noted "Manor of Denmark," one of the two special reservations of our county that were set aside for the Penns exclusively. It is one of the most fertile townships in the country, and is bounded on the west by the Allegheny county line: on the south by North Huntingdon and Hempfield townships: on the east by Hempfield township, and on the north by Salem and Franklin townships. Across it runs the Forbes Road, as cut by Forbes in 1758 when on his way west to capture Fort Duquesne. The surface of the township is hilly, and the farms are well cultivated. It has an abundance of bituminous coal which is easily mined. The veins are generality over six feet in thickness, and have added greatly to the wealth of the township. One of the early settlers of the township was Andrew Byerl, whose exploits as a pioneer and Indian fighter have been considered elsewhere. Other early settlers were Balthazer Myers, the noted school teacher and preacher; the Owings. Fritchmans, McWilliams, Kemerers, Blinkers, Finks, Knappenbergers, Keisters, Heislers, Cyders, Berlins, Lauffers, Gongawares, Waugamans, Blackburn, Millers, Walthours, Shutters, Sowashes, Newdorfers, Fifers, Klines, Clarks and others. In the early days the standard of education was not very high. The old time schoolmasters went around in the fall after the farmers had housed their corn, potatoes, etc., with a subscription book, and tried to raise the necessary number of scholars to remunerate them for their winter's teaching. The text books used were the "New England Primer", "The United States Spelling Book," the "Western Calculator," and the Bible and Testament. The pupils, it is said, were each compelled to commit the catechism to memory. The writing department was exclusively by written copies at the top of the page, which were made by the master himself with a quill pen. "Setting copies," mending pens, and whipping pupils occupied no small part of the school teacher's time. The school hours were from eight in the morning until five in the evening, with an hour's recess at noon for dinner. In that day all who could not afford to pay the teacher for their tuition were neglected, and there were many in each township who did not attend school at all in their youth. Some, however, who did attend school who were too poor to pay their tuition, had their tuition paid by the county commissioners upon a certificate from the county, officers that they were unable to pay, and notwithstanding that had gone to school.

The Reformed Lutheran Congregation in this township was organized about 1808 or 1809. The first ministers have been frequently named heretofore in connection with the church work in other townships. They were such as Rev. John William Weber, Michael John Steck and John Michael Steck and Rev. N. P. Hacke. The first church building was built by Peter Henkel as contractor, and he was to build a church thirty eight by forty six feet and was to receive $225 for the mason work. All the material needed in its erection was to be furnished him on the ground. The carpenter work was done by Jacob Dry, and his contract called for S600, which included the painting, glazing, etc. The work was begun on May 12, 1814. A debt on this church still remained as late as 1825, when it was paid in full by subscription. The church grounds were owned by Conrad Knappenberger and Jacob Brinker. The church was built without flues or chimneys, and they at first ran a stovepipe through a broken window pane, and later made a hole through the side of the building. This is noted to show how little they knew of architecture in that day. Long after this, when the stovepipe had set the house on fire, though not sufficient to burn the building, a chimney was built, as it should have been in the beginning.

Beulah United Presbyterian Church was situated on Byers Run, in the northwestern part of the township, and was organized in June, 1845. Its first minister was William Connor, who served them until 188 and died in 1864. He was succeeded by Rev. Walkinshaw, T. F. Boyd, U. R. Rankin and others. The Presbyterians, Catholics and Methodists have each organizations. in the present Penn borough.

Penn township has within its borders one of the most historic spots in western Pennsylvania, viz. the battlefield of Bushy Run, fought by the brave Swiss commander, Henry Bouquet. In August, 1883, the one hundred and twentieth anniversary of the battle was appropriately celebrated on the field. The battle having been described in the pages relative to the early history of the county, no further reference to it here is necessary.

The township has twenty eight schools, with 1176 pupils enrolled.


The handsome little town of Manor is the outgrowth of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which was finished in 1852 as a single track road, and up to that date was surrounded by forests, though fairly well settled by a colony of hardy pioneers. This section was known as Denmark Manor, being one of the two manors or estates procured from the heirs of William Penn. In 1783 Stofel Walthour built a mill on Brush creek, the first and only building for a number of years. Messrs. Ludwick, Miller and Berlin purchased the Ward farm and laid out the town of Manor in 1873, which was incorporated in 1884. It contains a Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, a fine school building, three hotels and twelve stores, two handle factories, a flour mill, a cement block factory and a National Bank. It is the terminal of the Manor Talley Railroad. One of its leading industries is the Beamer Handle Works, which mannfactures all kinds of hickory handles. They are one of the leading handle factories in the state and ship their product to all of the eastern cities and states. It has four schools, with 176 pupils.


This town is located on the Pennsylvania Railroad, six miles west of Greensburg. It was laid out in 1859 by J. H. Oliver and the Penn Gas Coal Company. It was incorporated in 1865 by petition of its inhabitants, and although its incorporation was remonstrated against by its own citizens, on October 19th the court granted the prayer of the petitioners and its incorporation became complete. On Friday, November 2, 1865, they held their first borough election at the house of Ralph Pratt.

About 1854 George Seancr and J. H. Robinson purchased the land on which Penn Station is now located, and opened the North Side Pit, which they operated as a cart mine, shipping the coal to Pittsburgh, where they had a retail yard. In 1859 the South Side mine was opened by William Coleman, J. H. Robinson and others. John F. Wolf opened a general store in 1859. J. H. Oliver bought the meadow land lying between the railroad and Brush Creek and laid it out into lots, offering fifty dollars premium to those putting up houses. The first season J. C. Rankin built a hotel known as the Eisaman House. Few small boroughs have more industries within their midst than Penn. The large pipe works of the American Foundry and Pipe Company give employment to a large force of men. The Hockensmith Wheel and Mine Car Company is another large plant, the product of which goes to all parts of this country. The large coal beds of the Penn Gas Coal Company are a great source of wealth to the place. The mines are operated by electric mining appliances. There are three churches in this place: Methodist. Lutheran and Roman Catholic. It has four schools, with 197 pupils enrolled.

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