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Gilpin Township


Gilpin Township Hall is located at 589 State Route 66, Leechburg PA 15656; phone: 724-845-0981.

Beginnings [1]

The area of old Allegheny township having become too unwieldy for practical operation and supervision by the time the settlements had grown into towns and the farms developed to productive capacity, it was decided in 1878 to cut it up into three separate sections. In this process Gilpin was formed, and by reason of being the most important of the trio, will receive the most extended mention.

By reason of its proximity to the headwaters of the Ohio at Pittsburgh, the advantage of location at the junction of the two most important streams in the county and the early construction and operation of the Pennsylvania Canal, Gilpin has developed faster and more permanently than any other township of the twenty-six in Armstrong county.

Besides those in the list of land owners and settlers in the sketch of Bethel township, the following were located in this division before 1814: Philip Bolen and James Coulter, on Elder's run; John Klingensmith, on the hill below Leechburg; Philip, Peter and Nicholas Klingensmith, farther down and back from the Kiskiminetas; William Hill, along the river near the three above mentioned; William Hum, near Hill; Conrad Houck, senior and junior, southeast of Johnetta; John Hawk, on the farm later owned by Henry Truby.

Probably the earliest industries of this township were the sawmills of Michael Barrickman and Philip Klingensmith, the former on Elder's run and the latter on the same run, but higher up. The first was built in 1812 and the last in 1817.

John Hill's sawmill was on a run midway between Leechburg and Donley, and the date of its erection was 1819. Jacob Riggle's mill was at the forks of the Allegheny and Kiskiminetas rivers in 1839-1858. Levi Klingensmith's was near Donley after 1855.

This township is, so far as manufacturing is concerned, possibly ahead of any other in the country, it being right at the junction of the Kiskiminetas and Allegheny rivers, so giving drainage to manufacturing sites which can scarcely be excelled by any township in the several counties adjoining.

Just at the forks of these two rivers, in 1856, an oil works was erected, by what was known as the North American Oil company, which made oil from cannel coal, a vein of which is found under the Freeport bituminous stratum at this place, being found in but a few other localities in the State. The same vein is found across the Kiskiminetas river to the west, and there also large oil works were in operation from 1857 until 1864, but the discovery of petroleum put them out of business about that time.

The Penn Oil Works were established on the Allegheny, about one hundred and twenty five rods above the mouth of the Kiskiminetas, in 1865. Their capacity for refining crude petroleum was about 5,000 barrels per month.

A carding machine was established by Joshua Cooper in 1824, at what is now Donnelly's station. It is notable that Isaac David was assessed in 1807 as a bookbinder, but where his place of business was is not known.

  1. Armstrong County Pennsylvania: Her People Past and Present, Volume I, J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago, 1914
**Information is curated from a variety of sources and, while deemed reliable, is not guaranteed.
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