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Nicholson Township

Nicholson Township administrative offices are located at 142 Woodside Old Frame Road, Smithfield, PA 15478; phone: 724-569-2233.

Established in 1845 from parts of German, Georges, and Springfield Townships, Nicholson is named for James W. Nicholson. Together with Albert Gallatin and two Kramer brothers, he established a glass factory which resulted in the area's increased population and economic growth.

Beginnings [1]

One of the earliest settlers within the territory was George Wilson, who came to this section about the year 1765, and settled on Georges Creek. From the time of his first settlement here he appears to have been a notable man among the pioneers of the Monongahela Valley. ... William Yard Provance was also one of the very early settlers on the Monongahela River in the same section. In the early years of their residence here an old Indian chief named Bald Eagle lived in or frequented the valley. He was on the most friendly terms with the white settlers, and in passing up and down the river on his hunting and fishing expeditions never failed to stop at the Provances.

Isaac Griffin was one of the pioneer settlers, as well as one of the most prominent men in public and private life for many years in what is now Nicholson Township, owning a large amount of land here, a part of which is known as the Morris farm.

The first white men who visited the place where now stands the village of New Geneva were William Childers, John Pringle, Samuel Pringle, and Joseph Lindsey, soldiers belonging to the garrison of Fort Pitt, who deserted from the post in the year 1761, and traveled up the Monongahela to this place, at the mouth of Georges Creek, but before the stream had ever been known by that name. ... George Wilson came there about 1765, and gave to the creek his own name — Georges — and thus to the township when it was formed (embracing the south part of what is now Nicholson.)

The first actual and permanent settler within the town limits was Thomas Williams, a native of Delaware, and a tailor by trade. From the time when Thomas Williams settled here a few other settlers gathered round him from time to time, until a number of straggling dwellings had clustered on the river bank and on the bluff above it, and in the early days, before the present name had been given to the village, these little groups of houses had received the names of "Wilson Port," and "George Town."

The title to the lands embracing the site on the river being purchased by Mr. Gallatin, he laid upon it the town of New Geneva, so named by him from Geneva, in his native Switzerland.

The building of the old glass-works by Gallatin and his partners, and the establishment of the gun factory, together with the residence of Mr. Gallatin and some other persons of note in the vicinity, gave to New Geneva (as the post-town of the surrounding country) a considerable growth and much prospective importance ...

  1. Ellis, Franklin, ed., History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, L. H. Everts & Company, 1882, Philadelphia
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