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Historical Significance of Fayette County
Fayette County

A young Virginian saw first hand the importance of the area

now known as Fayette County in the winter of 1753.

His name was George Washington.

Washington along with noted frontiersman Christopher Gist

and others traveled through the area to deliver a message from

the British to the French to vacate the territory. Of course the

French refused to do so.

The following year in 1754 Washington returned with a

small force with orders to build a road to Redstone, which

is at the site of present day Brownsville.

While encamped at the Great Meadows Washington

learned that a detachment of French soldiers were nearby

at a place referred to as the Gloomy Hollow. Little did Washington

or the French know the events that would unfold the next day,

May 28, 1754, would change the world forever!

 

Of the skirmish that occurred there between the British

and the French, Horace Walpole, eminent man of letters and

a son of a British prime minister, wrote, The volley fired by

a young Virginian in the backwoods of America set the

world on fire.

The area then known as the Gloomy Hollow is now referred

to simply as Jumonville, which is aptly named for the French

Ensign who lost his life there.

Simply stated, a conflict between the British and French for

control of not only the region, but for all of North America was

going to occur. It just so happens that conflict would begin in

the area of Fayette County not only at Jumonville, but also

at Fort Necessity.

The events that occurred in Fayette County would directly

lead to a global struggle, truly the first world war between

two super powers known as the French and Indian War

and the Seven Years War.

A year later in 1755, a large force of British soldiers and provincials

under the command of Major General Edward Braddock set out

in the frontier of Western Pennsylvania to remove the French

from their fortification located at present day Pittsburgh. 

Although the British would fail miserably in their attempts to

eliminate the French from the area, the road they build while

in route would live on.  

The road would be known as the Braddock Road, which was the

largest engineering feat in the colonies to that point in time and

would serve as A gateway to a new continent.

The Braddock Road would later be surpassed in importance

with the completion of the National Road in the 1800's. The

National Road which started in Cumberland, Maryland and

ended in Vandalia, Illinois was authorized by an act of Congress

in 1806.

A strong supporter of the National Road was statesmen

Albert Gallatin. Of course, Gallatin, who had large land

holdings in Fayette County did not exactly mind much that

the road would be constructed directly through the heart of it.

The National Road which was also known as The Pike, was a

toll road that would service the needs of a nation moving westward.

The road would also bring prosperity, commerce and settlers to

Fayette County. 

 

The area of Fayette County was now bustling and somewhat

civilized as compared to what only a few years earlier was

the frontier wilderness.

Although, the National Road's importance of a major transportation

route would be short lived.

 With the advent of the railroads in the mid 1800's which 

 offered less expensive, more reliable and more efficient means of

 transportation of passengers and goods, the National Road was

 relegated to a minor role in the westward movement.

Not long after the construction of the railroad system in the

area, a revolutionary breakthrough in the coke making

process was discovered.  Coke, which is made from a heating

process of coal is one of the key ingredients in the production

of steel. Fayette County's vast natural quantities of rich

metallurgical coal would truly help fuel the industrial

revolution in America.

A new future and outlook for Fayette County had begun. 

It was known as the Coal and Coke era which lasted

until the mid 1900's when most of the available coal resources

had been depleted.

Constant visual reminders of the Coal and Coke era live on in

the villages and towns also known as Patches and a few

existing Bee Hive coke ovens.

  But, the most important and lasting tribute of the Coal and

  Coke era's importance to Fayette County was the work ethics

  of its residents. 

A certain sense of pride of a hard days work for an honest days

pay still lives on in the mind set of the Fayette County workforce,

even to today.

It is in fact that kind of mind set that has allowed Fayette County

to look to the future and embrace new and exciting economic

concepts which are directly related to its continued economic growth.

  Fayette County's rich historical heritage cannot only be

  related to events and economics.  The spectacular natural

  beauty and wonderful tourist attractions are some of the

  reasons why Fayette County is truly an exciting place to visit

  and also call home.

Whether it's a peaceful walk along the Youghiogheny River

at Ohiopyle State Park, a visit to Fort Necessity

National Battlefield, The home of Albert Gallatin known as

Friendship Hill, Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes Fallingwater

and Kentuck Knob, or any of the other exciting natural and

historic sites, one thing is quite constant.

You can feel as sense of importance, a sense of pride and a

sense of true pioneer spirit.  The events that would occur

in Fayette County and those who would call Fayette County

home would not only help shape the United States but also the World.

After all, the events that occurred and the lessons learned

by the young Virginian in the backwoods of America in

the area now known as Fayette County would serve him

well some twenty years later in a struggle for freedom for

the United States. He would eventually become the

nation's first President. His name was George Washington.

Fayette County is actually named for the French hero

Marquis de LaFayette who fought along side Washington

in the Revolutionary War.  

 Submitted by Robert Adamovich, Local Historian

 December 12, 2005  


 

An educational video  "Fayette County" A Video History is available from the Fayette County Historical Society by calling
724-439-4422.
 
This video was produced under the guidance of the Fayette County Historical Society and is filled with photographs, interviews with historians and residents of Fayette County plus profiles of many towns and communities. 
 
List of Recommended Books
 
A Charming Field For An Encounter by Robert C. Adams
The National Road edited by Karl Raitz
To Live And Die Amongst the Monongahela Hills by Meridith A. Murray
The Jumonville Affair by Marcel Trudel
Another Look - Uniontown & Fayette County by Walter Buzz Storey
Patch/Work Voices by Dennis F. Brestensky, Evelyn A. Hoxanec & Albert N. Skroma