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Lacock, Quay and Others: Taking Their Place In History

Milestones Vol 26. No. 1

Future generations will be reading about famous Beaver Countians who are making history for the county now such as Lt. Gov. Ernest P. Kline, State Sen.J ames Ross, Joe Namath, Dr.Jesse Steinfeld, Henry Mancini and more.

Yet, there are many men who helped build Beaver County who are being read about today in history books. These include men in many areas of the government, physicians, religious officials, "businessmen" and more.

In the 1800's, two men represented the county as U.S. Senators. They were Abner Lacock and Matthew Stanley Quay, both of whom also served in other governmental positions.

Lacock came to Beaver, then in Allegheny County, in 1796 at age 26. He has many "firsts" to his credit while he was living in the county.

He was the first justice of the peace in the county (1796); first representative to the state legislature from the county (1801); first associate judge of the county bench (1803). He had a tavern on Third Street in Beaver, later known as the Clark Hotel, where the first court sat.

Lacock resigned his position as judge at the end of the year to enter the legislature again and represented the county in the lower branch of the legislature for four successive terms.

In 1808, he was elected to the senate of the state as a representative from Beaver, Allegheny and Butler County and in 1813, the legislature elected him as a U.S. Senator.

The first canal boat built or run west of the Allegheny Mountains was named the "General Abner Lacock". This was perhaps because Lacock was appointed on April 11, 1825, as one of five commissioners to survey the route of the state line of canals and railroads for uniting the waters of the Delaware and Ohio Rivers. He also supervised construction of the western division of the canal from Pittsburgh to Johnstown and was appointed to survey and construct the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal.

Lacock also did much to help establish the common school system of the state and also laid out the town of Darlington, originally called Greersburg.

He died in his home in Freedom April 12, 1837, at 66.

Quay was the second man from the county to become a U.S. Senator.

He was born Sept. 30, 1833, in York County but came to Beaver County when his father, Rev. Anderson Beaton Quay, a Presbyterian minister, established a parish in the area.

Quay prepared for college at Beaver and Indiana Academies and graduated fromJ efferson College, Canonsburg, in 1850. He studied law with Col. Richard P. Roberts in Beaver and was admitted to the bar of the county in 1854. He served as prothonotary of the county from 1855 to 1861 when he resigned to accept a lieutenant's rank in the 10th Pennsylvania Reserves.

Quay served in various capacities such as colonel of the 134th Pennsylvania Volunteers, private and military secretary to the Governor, state military agent, major and chief of transportation and telegraphs before serving as a member of the legislature from 1865-67.

He served as secretary of the state from 1872-78; chairman of the Republican State Committee from 1878-79; again as secretary of state from 187982; served on the Republican National Committee in elections from 1872 to 1900, serving as chairman several times, and was elected state treasurer in 1855 by the largest vote ever given to a candidate for that office

Quay was elected to the U.S. Senate on March 5, 1887, and re-elected in 1893 but was defeated for re-election in 1899 by a deadlock in the legislature. He was appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy but his appointment was not recognized by the Senate. He was nominated to succeed himself by the Republican State convention, however, and was reelected Jan. 15, 1901.

He died in his home in Beaver on May 28, 1904, and is buried in Beaver Cemetery.

Two other countians also were involved in the government of the county in the early days. They were Daniel Agnew and James Allison Jr.

Agnew was born Jan. 5, 1809, in Trenton, NJ, and at age 4 or 5 was brought to Butler County by his parents but was taken to Pittsburgh where he grew up.

He began to study law in Pittsburgh in 1825 and was admitted to the bar in April, 1829. At about age 20, he left Pittsburgh and came to Beaver in August, 1829, intending to return to Pittsburgh, but because of his success with a good law practice and his marriage in 1831 to Elizabeth Moore, daughter of Gen. Robert Moore, he decided to stay.

On July 11, 1851, Agnew was appointed by the Governor as president judge of the 17th judicial district of Pennsylvania composed of Beaver, Butler, Mercer and Lawrence Counties to fill a vacancy. He served for two full year terms. He was nominated by the Republicans in 1863 for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and in the same year was elected Chief Justice. He made major decisions on the draft, money, right of deserters to vote and more. He held the position until January, 1879.

At a complimentary banquet, it was said of him, "He was a judge profound and learned in the law, just and upright in its administration, fearing not the face of man. He discharged important duties of his high office with rare and conscientious industry and fidelity. He was an earnest and steadfast friend and defender of the rights of people."

He retired to his Beaver home and refused further law practice except in very important cases.

Agnew published some of his stories including the 1887 publication of "Settlement and Land Titles of Northwest Pennsylvania." He continued to give public addresses on civic and patriotic questions. He was honored with degrees by Washington and Dickinson College.

In addition to his other characteristics, Agnew also was a mechanical genius. He invented the air brake used in the railway world.

He lived in a house directly opposite the courthouse in Beaver for over 60 years, where he died March 9, 1902, at 94.

Allison came to Beaver in 1803 and practiced in several courts of the district until 1822 when he was elected to Congress. He was re-elected in 1823 but "so strong was his dislike of political strife and his love for domestic life" that he declined to serve and resigned his seat before the term began.

For 50 years his name was associated with all the best things in the social and public life in Beaver. He died in Beaver June 17, 1854.

One of the earliest physicians in the county, probably the earliest, was Dr. Samuel Adams. He and his oldest son, Milo, were the only physicians at this time on this side of Pittsburgh. They
were sent for from 30 to 40 miles away to help the sick.

Dr. Adams first settled on Chartier's Creek in Washington County and then moved to what is now Beaver County sometime before 1800 and settled in the Upper Falls of Beaver.

He bought 400 acres of land and built a cabin near the present Eastvale ridge. He also constructed a dam, gristmill and sawmill. The area was later called "Adamsville." He died March 6, 1832, at 70.

Rev. Arthur B. Bradford of Enon was "full of enthusiasm of humanity, a born reformer." He was pastor of the Mount Pleasant Presbyterian Church of Darlington for 16 years but withdrew from the presbytery with a large number of his people who considered the attitude of the General Assembly of the state toward American slavery as sinful.

He was born in Reading in 1810, son of Judge Ebenezer Bradford and a direct descendant of William Bradford of the Mayflower. He attended the Military Academy at West Point for a year or so but changed his course and became a theological student at Princeton Seminary.

Rev. Bradford thought the colonization of the Negro in Africa which was being advocated by many at this time was impractical and unwise. His Uncle Moses owned a large plantation in Maryland and Rev. Bradford spent vacations there studying the Negro problem.

After graduation, he preached for a while in Clinton, NJ, and at once dismissed belief of colonization and any other solution to slavery except emancipation. The Bible became an abolition book for him.

Rev. Bradford went over western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio lecturing in almost every village and developing anti-slavery sentiment. He traveled extensively at great expense to himself and lectured in Boston, New York and as far west as Iowa.

He also had a number of his anti-slavery works published. He edited the "Free Church Portfolio,' one of the organs of the Free Presbyterian Church.

His last years were spent at his country home near Darlington called "Buttonwood" where he died July 18, 1899.

The historians are not sure who the first settler was in Beaver County. Some say Levi Dungan; others say George Croghan, and still more say John Gibson.

Dungan was born on a farm near Philadelphia but moved to the area in 1772 where he located at the head of King's Creek on 1,000 acres of land now within the limits of Hanover Township. He came with his wife, two or three children and two slaves, who stayed with him until he died.

He settled at the village where Frankfort Springs now stands. He built his house which served a double purpose: a dwelling and a fort used by all the neighbors. He even built the house over a spring so that water could be gotten without being seen. He cleared the land and planted vegetables, too.

He died in 1825 and was buried five miles southwest of Frankfort Springs.

Croghan was primarily an Indian trader. He probably as early as 1748 had a trading post at Sawkunk at the mouth of Big Beaver Creek. He is said to have been one of the first English traders after the French. He also had a trading house at Logstown but finally settled near Pittsburgh.

Croghan was an Irishman from Dublin who first settled five miles west of Harrisburg and engaged in Indian trade. He had learned the languages of three of the Indian nations and had great influence over them.

Another trader was Gibson, uncle of the great jurist, John Bannister Gibson. In 1769 at the opening of the land office in the province of Pennsylvania, an entry was made in the books for 300 acres of land including an old Indian corn field opposite Logstown for Gibson's use.

In 1771, he settled on the land, built a house and cleared and fenced 30 acres of ground. He had a store in Logstown near Fort Pitt where he spent much of his time. He came to Logstown as many of the other traders had done before him to buy and sell rather than to build a home in the wilderness. In 1778, he sold his claim.

Gibson entered the service at 18 and his first camp was with the expedition against Fort Duquesne before he settled at Fort Pitt. In the Indian War of 1763, while coming down the Ohio River in a canoe, he was taken prisoner at the mouth of Big Beaver Creek but an old Indian squaw saved him by adopting him in place of a son who was killed in battle. The Indians let him go in 1764. In 1774, he helped negotiate a peace with the Shawnese.

At the outbreak of the Revolution, he was made a Colonel of the 13th Virginia regiment and several times he was put in temporary command of Fort Pitt which included Fort McIntosh.

Gibson also was a member of the committee which framed the constitution of Pennsylvania in 1790. He also served as ajudge of Allegheny County, a Major General of the military and secretary of the territory of Indiana until it became a state, being at one time acting governor.

He died April 10, 1882, at Braddocks Field.

Beaver County Times 175th Anniversary Edition