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
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
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
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