Home > Uncategorized > A Brief History of the Amity Region from 1768-1868

A Brief History of the Amity Region from 1768-1868

Source: W.L.D., (submitted by Joe Florian), “A Brief History of the Amity Region from 1768-1868,” Keyhole 7[1979].

[page 107]

Amity is generally considered to be among the oldest of the villages in Washington County.  Due to the early settlement of that locality (1768), there must be associated with Amity many historical facts which are worth relating and which should be preserved for future use.

Amity is located exactly midway between Washington and Waynesburg, in Amwell Twp, on the ridge parallel to Banes Fork of Ten Mile Creek.  Upon entering Amity from either the north or south directions, one notices a tablet inscribed “Amity, meaning Friendly Relationship; Founded in 1797.”  Many reasons have been given for this applied name, but the most logical one seems to be that it was named in memory of Amity in Morris Co., New Jersey, since nearly all of the original pioneer settlers from this vicinity came direct from Morris Co.  Similarly, Amwell Twp. has received its name from Amwell Twp. in New Jersey.

In writing the history of any small town, it is necessary to consider a certain amount of the surrounding territory as this also is intimately associated with the early history.  Hence, an area of about 1 mile is included in this article.

The first pioneer explorers and settlers of Amity were the BANE brothers who located a tomahawk or squatter’s claim on Ten Mile Creek extending along what is known as Bane’s Fork in 1768.  This tract contained about 1200 acres.  Those five brothers, who were of English descent, came from the eastern part of Virginia, and they built a log cabin ½ mile from the present site of Amity, near the Indian cillage [sic] of Anawanna.

At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, they returned to Virginia, but upon coming back to the Ten Mile region after the War was over, they found that their cabin had been burned by the Indians.  One of the brothers, Joseph, was captain of a company of Rangers during Lord DUNMORE’s War and also at the time of the border warfare when Chief Logan was committing depredations along Ten Mile Valley.  In an engagement with the Indians on Wheeling Creek, Captain BANE was wounded but escaped to his cabin home at Amity.  The site of the cabin can still be located.  Two or three Pine Tree shillings have been found at the site.

In 1773 a party of twenty families left their homes in Morris Co., New Jersey, and entered southwestern Pennsylvania, settling along Ten Mile Valley.  A number of the party located at what is now Jefferson, PA.  Another portion, headed by Demas LINDLEY and accompanied by the LINDLEY’s, COEs, COOPERs, DILLEYs,
and RIGGS, founded the Lindley settlement, or, what is now Prosperity.  As a protection from Indian attacks, here Fort Lindley was erected in 1775.  The party led by Jacob

[page 108]

COOK, accompanied by the family names of McFARLAND, McGIFFIN, BRICE, CARMICHAEL, RUCKMAN, BOYD, MILLIKIN, and AXTELL, located at or near Amity.  Jacob COOK obtained a patent for a tract of land under the name of “Cook’s Delight.”  Three years later, in 1777, another party consisting of Rev. Thaddeus DODD, his brother Daniel DODD, David McCRACKEN, Daniel McFARLAND, and Ziba COOK arrived with their families.  Daniel DODD obtained a patent for 408 acres of land in what would be the northern section of Amity.  Two years earlier, Jacob COOK had taken up 503 acres in the southern section.  At this time it will be understood that the whole region was an unbroken forest.  It seems that Ziba COOK and Daniel DODD united a portion of their land possessions to lay out and plot the town, as in an advertisement in THE WESTERN TELEGRAM AND WASHINGTON ADVERTISER on date of January 20, 1797, lots, which were duly numbered, were offered for sale.

Late in the fall of 1777, Rev. Thaddeus DODD arrived from Mendham, New Jersey, for his second visit to the Ten Mile region.  Soon he was to be found preaching at COOK’s settlement, at LINDLEY’s Fort and in the sugar camp of Joseph RIGGS.  He obtained a land patent for 505 acres, under the name of “Fame”, about 1 mile northeast of Amity, and erected a log cabin.  In 1781 his neighbors erected a log building near his home for school purposes, and here originated the first classical school west of the Alleghenies.  DODD taught Greek, Latin, algebra, and surveying.  In his diary, he wrote that they were “harassed by the Indians and that communion services could not be held on account of the incursions of the savages.”  In 1775, upon his first visit, he had written that he had visited an Indian village near the present site of Amity and that the Indian population of the village “contained 137 souls” and that the name of the camp was Anawanna.

A few years ago, I inquired of Hale SIPE the meaning of the word “Anawanna.”  He stated in his reply that it was a Delaware word–Ana meaning a path or trail, Wanna meaning by a stream, the full meaning being `a trail following a stream.’

In this brief history, it is difficult to separate the settlements of COOK and LINDLEY as they were dependent upon one another.  Both groups of settlers had the same objects in life; nearly all were from the same community in New Jersey; most of them were of Scotch-Irish and English descent; and, practically everybody was of the Presbyterian faith.  One minister had charge of both settlements, and all depended upon Fort Lindley for protection and safety.

With the close of the Revolutionary War, there was a general influx of settlers from the East–from New Jersey, Virginia, and eastern Pennsylvania.  The names of BOYD, CLARK, SHARP, HUGHES, HARRIS, McCALLUM, RINGLAND, BREDEN, CONDIT, and PATTERSON were among the first settlers in 1778-1782.

[page 109]


Prior to 1781, the Ten Mile Presbyterian congregation had no church building, services having been held in a barn, groves, at Ft. Lindley, and at Jacob COOK’s house.  In 1781, a log church was erected at Amity on land donated by Jacob COOK and John CARMICHAEL.  About the same time a log church was built at Ft. Lindley.  The churches came to be known as Upper and Lower Twn [sic] Mile respectively.  Before that date both were known as the Ten Mile Church, Rev. Thaddeus DODD being the founder and first minister.  In 1830, on the same site of the log church, was erected a brick building.  This structure was destroyed by a storm a few years later, however, and a frame building was erected in 1840.  The present brick church was built in 1875.

In the original log church worshipped our pioneer ancestors.  The building is described as having bench seats without backs, no heating except from hot bricks and charcoal heating pans, and tallow candles for light.  It is also related that during intermission between the forenoon and afternoon sermons the male portion of the congregation resorted to a nearby tavern for stimulants.  This old tavern building is still standing, having been the home in which Rev. Solomon SPAULDING lived and died.

The Methodist Protestant Church was organized in 1832.  Land for the church and cemetery purposes was donated by William IMES.  The original Presbyterian Church which had been constructed of logs, was torn down and tebuilt [sic] to use as the first church building.  A frame structure replaced it in 1841, but the present building was erected in 1867.


Amity’s first public school house, which was made of logs in 1791, was located directly across the road opposite the Presbyterian Church.  It was made of the characteristic construction of all school houses of that period, with its puncheon floor, split log seats, alab writing board, and open fireplace.  Moses McCALLUM was the first teacher in 1791.  Since that time, three other school houses have been built, each one larger and more up-to-date as the conditions demanded.


[page 112]


Written by —    W. L. D.

December 29, 1934

Submitted by Joe Florian

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