History of Donegal Township

Donegal was one of the thirteen original townships of Washington County when the county was established in 1781. At the time, its geographic territory encompassed not only the current bounds of Donegal Township but also the Townships of Buffalo, East and West Finley, and the western portion of Green County. The first deduction from the original Donegal Township came in 1788 with the formation of Finley Township (later split further into East and West Finley Townships). In 1793, sixty local residents presented a petition to the court of Quarter Sessions to subdivide the township in order to eliminate unnecessary hardships on making road repairs and transacting business at “unreasonable distances from home,” (Crumrine), the petition called for a new township to be called New German Township. However, the Court denied the petition. Five years later, at an April session of the court in 1798, the residents of Donegal once again presented another petition hoping to divide their township. The petition was not acted upon until March of 1799, at which time the court ordered a division of Donegal Township, with the “Upper division” to be called Buffalo Township (Crumrine). This reduced Donegal Township to a size almost identical to its current configuration, only minor boundary changes having taken place in the Township in the over 200 years since.

The earliest white settlement in the township, of which there is record, is that of Thomas Clark in 1773. His land was surveyed by Ohio County, which at that time was part of Virginia. However, nothing else is known of Clark, as the surveyor’s minutes revealed that Clark transferred his 363 acres called“Apollos” to John Chapman in 1779. Other early settlements included 400 acres named “Sylvia’s Plain” and deeded in 1785 to Jacob Lefler by Virginia, as “Content,” a 400 acre tract on “Buffalo waters” granted to Thomas Waller by Virginia in 1780 (Crumrine). Waller was the original owner of the “Superfine Bottom” tract, which later became the Borough of Claysville.

Donegal Township also has a rich history as the site of many skirmishes with Native Americans. As it was at the far western edge of the “frontier” at the time of its founding, there were several “forts” in the area. Around 1774, Jacob Rice settled a 400 acre tract of land currently located in Donegal Township on Lake Road (History of the Buffalo Creek Valley, Buffalo Creek Watershed Management Plan). Rice’s Fort was a refuge for 12 families in the immediate area and was well used throughout the Revolutionary War.

The fort was the last attack made by the British-allied Native Americans during the Revolution War, when it successfully repelled attacks from over 70 Native Americans in September of 1782 (Crumrine). Miller’s Blockhouse was also an important local frontier fort. Located on Dutch Fork Lake, Jacob Miller settled 400 acres of land on this site in the 1770s (History of the Buffalo Creek Valley, Buffalo Creek Watershed Management Plan). There is much documented action at this fort, which was used as a rendezvous point for scouts and rangers. A notable attack was the heroic defense of the blockhouse for over 24 hours by Ann Hupp after both her husband and father were killed by Hostile Native Americans (History of the Buffalo Creek Valley, Buffalo Creek Valley, Buffalo Creek Watershed Management Plan).

Another interesting bit of history involves local religious organizations. Alexander Campbell is considered the principal founder of the Church of Christ, and for many years Campbell was a local resident (History of the Buffalo Creek Valley, Buffalo Creek Watershed Management Plan). Many baptisms occurred on the David Bryant farm in a deep pool of Buffalo Creek. This site is now located proximity in the Green Cover Wetland Area owned by the Pennsylvania Game Commission (History of the Buffalo Creek Valley, Buffalo Creek Watershed Management Plan).

One piece of lost Township history includes the former Village of Vienna. Vienna was a station of the Hempfield Railroad in Donegal Township, about midway between Claysville and West Alexander and also gave its name to the small hamlet clustered about it on the National Road. The railroad was opened at this point in the fall of 1856, and about the same time a post-office was established at Vienna, with George Chaney as postmaster. At the turn of the twentieth century, besides the post-office, Vienna had two stores, two blacksmith-shops, and seven dwelling-houses (Crumrine).

Click here for more of Crumrine’s history on the web:   http://www.chartiers.com/crumrine/twp-donegal.html