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West Middlesex Borough

Mercer County, Pennsylvania

West Middlesex Borough Hall is located at 25 North Street, West Middlesex PA 16159.
Phone: 724‑528‑9931.

Beginnings [1]

As a platted town the history of West Middlesex goes back to 1836, when James Gilkey surveyed the site. The surveyor was best known to fame, however, as the man who cultivated and brought into notice the "Neshannock potatoes," or sometimes called the "Gilkies: and "Messers." James McConnell was owner of the tract upon which the town was platted.

For many years West Middlesex has been one of the centers of the iron industry along the Shenango valley. The two industrial concerns of note are the Ella and Fannie furnaces, owned and operated by separate corporations. The Fannie is the older of these furnaces, having first been put in blast in 1873, and was remodeled in 1885. The Ella furnace was built in 1882, on the site of two furnaces that had been constructed in 1859 and had mutable fortunes. E.A. Wheeler of Sharon was for many years manager of the Ella and Wheeler furnaces. In 1896 the United Iron and Steel Company, of which Edwin N. Ohl of Pittsburgh is president, bought the Fannie furnace and have since operated it. The product is basic and all kinds of pig iron, and the average number of employees is 120. The Ella furnace has been recently dismantled, to be replaced by a new stack with all modern improvements.

West Middlesex was one of the first places along the Shenango valley to become a center of the iron business, and the old Middlesex furnace, erected in 1845, was a charcoal burning plant that smelted the native ores. The modern furnaces here, however, have all been constructed for coke and Lake Superior ore.

In point of settlement, West Middlesex is one of the oldest localities in the county. The honors of first settlement in this vicinity are given Samuel Byers, Andrew Wylie, William Bell, Richard Vanfleet and several others who came before the close of the century. In 1821 James McConnell located within the present limits of the borough. Jacob Edeburn was owner of a large tract of land embracing part of the town site, which was granted for military services in 1787 to James Gibson. William Edeburn, son of Jacob, improved some of this land lying west of the river during the first decade of the nineteenth century, and in 1818 built a log grist mill which was the first of its kind in the vicinity, and which was so useful to the people of the neighborhood that it became a natural center of the settlements around about. When James McConnell came in 1821 he bought the mill and a part of the land, and the log house which he set up near the mill was the first residence in the town. William Edeburn and James McConnell were the industrial magnates of their day, the former putting up a sawmill in 1830 and the latter constructing a first-class flour mill a little way below the old log mill. A store and a tavern were opened about the time the town was platted, and in 1840 the post office was established, with Robert Young as the first postmaster. Other improvements came at varying intervals. A little, frame house was built in 1837 in which school sessions were kept and church services held. In 1855 the citizens contributed enough money to build a two-story frame schoolhouse, to take the place of the old one which had served its purpose for nearly twenty years. This house also was to serve the cause of religion as well as education, the upper floor being designed as a house of worship. The three-story brick union schoolhouse was erected by the Middlesex district in 1868, at a cost of $24,000, and at the time it was one of the best educational structures in the county.

In 1864 West Middlesex was incorporated as a borough. The first burgess was D. Edeburn, and the first members of the council were C.W. Watson, Hiram Veach and G.R. Tuttle. One factor of municipal progress in recent years has been the Commercial Club, of which the officers at the present time are: John Boal, president; J.W. Mitchell, vice president, A.B. Livermore, secretary, and John Walker, treasurer.

  1. White, J. G., editor, A Twentieth Century History of Mercer County Pennsylvania, The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1909