After the close of the Pittsburgh run in 1871, Brigle drove for Sexton
between Washington and Havelock, now McDonald, and when the railroad put
that out of business he was on the run between Washington and Waynesburg
until the completion of the Waynesburg and Washington Railroad in
October, 1877. After his stage coaching days were over he went to Missouri and
settled on a farm. In 1910 he returned to Washington to see old friends, but
found that most of them were dead. He went back to his Missouri
he died in April, 1916.
Alfred Mosebay, of Washington, was one of the few Negro stage drivers,
possibly the only one; but old-timers said that he was an expert at this
profession. I am not certain whether he ever drove on the National Pike,
but if he did it was on local lines after through travel ceased. He was employed
by Ed Sexton between Washington and Pittsburgh, and boasted that he hauled
more returning soldiers into Washington after the close of the Civil War
than any other driver on the road.
He had the honor of driving the carriage or possibly a small coach,
with four bay horses, that carried President Grant from Trinity Hall to
lay the cornerstone of the Town Hall on September 18, 1869; and in later
years he often said that the President asked him to stop several
times so that he could shake hands with children gathered on the street.
John Hoon, a native of Claysville, who drove for many years on the
old pike, was once a circus performer for Dan Rice and other shows.
After his circus days, he returned to Claysville and drove stages
until through travel ceased. Among his passengers between Washington
and Wheeling were President-elect James K. Polk and Henry Clay. He was born
January 15, 1815, in what was later the village of Claysville, and on
December 26, 1901, he and his wife celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary.
David Bell, later proprietor of the famous Bell House at Claysville,
drove stages on the road for years before he engaged in the tavern
business. More will be said of him.
William Dickie, who spent his last few years in Washington, was a
driver on the road when little more than a boy. One of his early exploits
was carrying the President's message from here to Wheeling. He was told
by the local agent to make the run in the quickest time possible,
and, in spite of his youth or perhaps because of it, he completed
the run in two hours and twenty minutes, the fastest time ever made by
stage coach between Washington and Wheeling. For all that he was a careful
driver and never had an accident.
After travel ceased on the pike, Billy Evans, another noted driver,
went to the Far West where he engaged in the only occupation he knew. In
1865 a Washington man met him in Idaho where he was driving a stage
between Boise and Fayette, that was the last heard of him.
O. P. Jackman, another Washington County driver settled at Claysville,
where he died February 24, 1889.
Frederick Lowry, after his driving days, settled on a farm at Coffey's
Crossing, where he was killed by a freight train on September 24, 1894.
During the Civil War he served in Company 1, 85th Pennsylvania Volunteer
Thomas Marshall drove a stage on the pike as early as 1824, but in 1832
quit and settled on a farm near where he was born November 15, 1799, in
Cross Creek Township. Among his passengers were Governor Deshay, of Kentucky;
General William O. Butler, of Kentucky; Governor Worthington, of Ohio, and
Henry Clay. His grandfather served in the Revolution and was present at
Crawford's defeat in June, 1782; and his father fought in the Indian Wars
of 1790 and 1792. On April 7, 1782,  at the age of 83, this old
stage driver rode horseback from his home to Washington, and reported
that he had never seen the roads in worse condition. They must have been
terrible. Marshall died October 29, 1889, aged 90.
William McCleary, who spent his later years on a farm in East Finley
Township, had an interesting career. As soon as he was 21 he left his
home at Winchester Virginia, taught school, took trading vessels down the
Ohio River, and then drove a stage between Washington and Bethany,
Virginia. Several months later he got a job on the National Pike between
Hillsborough and Claysville. Later he was transferred to the Washington-
Wheeling run, and then down to the Ohio division. He drove for 16 years.
After his death on April 3, 1882, his son related some of his experiences
as a stage driver.
After his death on April 2, 1882, his son related some of his experiences
as a stage driver, which his father had told him. This was published
in The Reporter on May 17, 1882.
McCleary drove a mail coach, and the intense rivalry between the
lines added to the excitement of the business. The drivers received
orders to make time or kill the horses, and they often did just that, for
stage coaching on the pike was a horse killing business. Each stage with
four or six horses went as fast as the teams could run; but they changed
every ten miles. If a horse stumbled and fell, and was unable to get up
it was unhitched and left. Once his horses ran away from the Washington
post office and half way up Gallows Hill; but when they stopped McCleary
forced them to run to the top and then back to the post office. By that
time they were tired enough to behave themselves.
On one occasion when driving from Triadelphia to Wheeling, he put
the brake on when going down Wheeling Hill; but the blocks jumped out
and the bar struck the off wheel horse. Instantly the horses leaped
forward in a full flight. When the coach hit a culvert at the foot of
the hill and turned over, McCleary was thrown into a bog wallow, and the
passengers and mail were scattered over the road; but no one was injured.
Two horses were killed, and the others kept on into Wheeling. McCleary ran
to the post office, had a postal wagon sent back for the mail, and got it
to the office on time. If he had failed he would have lost his job.
After living in Claysville for six years he was appointed by Colonel
William Hopkins, pike commissioner, as keeper of the old brick toll house
near West Alexander. Travel was heavy at that time, and tolls often
amounted to $400 a month. Conestoga wagons drawn by six horses were
always in sight, and it was not uncommon for 20 or more stage coaches
to pass the gate at one time. After leaving the toll gate he purchased
a farm in East Finley Township from George Enlow, where he died at the age
John McElwee first drove stage east of the mountains; but in 1840 he
came to Washington and worked on the pike until 1895, when the stage
lines were put out of business by the "Raging Hempfield" Railroad.
In 1891, his daughter, Mrs. J. H. Hill, of Claysville still had the old
whalebone whipstock with loaded end, which her father had used during all
his stage driving years.
James Noble, a native of Taylorstown, drove both Conestoga wagons and
stage coaches on the National Pike. After travel ceased he went west and
settled at Lawrence, Kansas, where he probably drove a stage for a time.
The Reporter of January 1, 1889, reports his death at Fort Scott, Kansas,
on December 17, 1888.
The Reporter of February 28, 1877, gives the pathetic story
of Alexander Scott, one of the first stage coach drivers on the National
Pike. This story was related in 1877 by an old citizen of Washington,
who stated that it took place about 58 years before. Evidently this "old
citizen" remembered the event.
The records in the Clerk of Courts' office show that on February
10, 1817, Alexander Scott was indicted on charges of robbing the mail at
Canonsburg of letters containing bank notes. Upon agreement between
Charles Shaler on behalf of the United States, and Thomas H. Baird for
the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Scott's counsel, Thomas McGiffin
and Parker Campbell, it was agreed that he would be tried in Washington.
When brought to trial before Judge Samuel Roberts in June, he entered
a plea of not guilty. Letters from Kentucky and Washington, containing
bank notes, had never reached the Pittsburgh post office. Details of
the evidence were not found among the old court papers, but the jury returned
verdicts of guilty on both charges. On the first count he was sentenced
to three years in the penitentiary at Philadelphia, and to six years on
the second, to begin at the expiration of the first sentence. Scott still
maintained his innocence, and wrote that he would never go to the
penitentiary and he never did.
The Examiner of June 25, 1817, contains the account of his death. He
was to have been taken to the penitentiary on Monday, June 23, but between
9 and 10 o'clock Saturday night he committed suicide by hanging himself
with his handkerchief to the door of the room in which he was confined.
Whether he was innocent or guilty he paid a terrible price. His age
was given as 23. He was confined in the old stone jail that stood until,
1868, the key of which is now in the collection of the Washington
County Historical Society.
William Sheets did not drive a stage in Washington County, but was on
the run west of Cumberland. Because of an important historical event of
his career, written by Thomas B. Searight at the time of his death and
published in The Reporter of May 18, 1892. I am including him in this
Sheets was born in Berkeley County, Virginia, February 2, 1798, and
started as a wagoner on the old Braddock Road when he was only 15. In
1818, after the National Pike was completed west of Cumberland, he drove
a stage for James Kinkaid, proprietor of the first stage line between
Cumberland and Uniontown. Of special interest is that he drove the first
mail coach that ever passed over the mountains west of Cumberland.
Later he kept taverns at Little Crossings and on Negro Mountain, leaving
the latter stand in 1855 to settle in Jefferson County, Iowa, where he
died May 2, 1892, at the age of 94 years.
For part 4 of The National Pike Story For part 6 of The National Pike Story