Searight gives the interesting information that Battley White,
celebrated maker of blacksnake whips used by the Pike Boys, lived in
Centerville. These whips, made from pliable soft black leather, were
very long with a handle of wood, and a long cracker made of plaited
silk or some soft material like buckskin. When carried rolled in the hands
of an expert, a blacksnake whip was a dangerous weapon that could cut
like a knife. The wagoners seldom used them on their horses, for when the
cracker was snapped around their ears with a report like a pistol it
was enough to put life in any tagging team. The Pike Boys proudly
boasted they could fleck a fly from a horse without touching the skin, and
they generally could. Occasionally two wagoners fought a duel with these
whips, cutting each other's clothing and skin into ribbons. Fortunately,
such cases were rare, for most drivers preferred to face pistols at 20 paces.
On a hill a short distance west of Centerville one Charley Miller kept
a tavern at an early date. Searight gives Zephania Riggle as his successor,
and he was followed in 1836 by Mrs. Dutton. When Searight passed over the
pike in 1893 he found that this was the home of Morris Cleaver. After
searching for this tavern in vain. I appealed to Jess F. Miller, of Beallsville,
and he informed me that it had been torn down about 50 years ago. The
present house was built on the same spot by George Thompson, a son of Sam
Thompson. He died about 12 years ago, and his wife later married Timothy
Sheehan, of Brownsville.
In olden times a frame building stood about half a mile west of
Miller's stand, where Searight says, a man names Johnson kept a tavern as
early as 1824, under the name of The Constitution. It was evidently
short-lived, for nothing more is known of it and the building disappeared
This is another tavern listed by Searight that I was unable to
locate. He describes it as a brick house on the north side of the road
a mile and a half west of Centerville, kept by Eli Railley as early as
1830. The Widow Welsh, who followed Railley, operated this stand as late
as 1850. Searight found the old house still standing in 1893, owned at
that time by Amos Cleaver. I was unable to find it, and again Miller
came to my aid. This old building was torn down many years ago, and Thomas
Floyd built the present house on the site. Ira A. Cleaver owned it until
his death two years ago.
Mr. Miller related an Interesting story of this house, which
stood deserted for a long period before it was demolished by Floyd. At
this time Frank Fitzsimmons hauled merchandise with a two-horse wagon
from Brownsville to Centerville and Beallsville, making two or three
round trips a week. On one occasion he picked up a hitch-hiking Irishman
along the road, but before they reached Beallsville a terrific thunderstorm
came up, and they sought shelter on the porch of the old Railley Tavern.
They could see lightning playing around over the hills, and sometimes
it struck uncomfortably close. Once when a flash, followed by a terrific
crash of thunder, hit uncomfortably close, Fritzsimmons saw the Irishman
sink to his knees and pray, "Oh, Lord, spare us through just this one
storm." They were spared and proceeded on their way after the storm
Madonna of The Trails
On the north side of the pike, about a mile east of Beallsville
and opposite the entrance to the Nemacolin Country Club, is a large
statue of a pioneer woman of the covered wagon days, with a lone rifle
grasped firmly in her right hand. A small boy is clinging to her skirts,
seeking a mother's protection from the dangers of the trail, and that
mother looks perfectly capable of protecting her offspring. Cuddled
in her left arm is a baby. On her head is a sunbonnet, a style of
headgear long since vanished; her dress is of the long coarse material
of the pioneers, and on her feet are heavy brogans. She is a perfect
type of the woman who came over the pike with the emigrants in the early
days, to seek new homes in Indiana and Illinois, and later trekked
across the plains and mountains of the Far West. It is an outstanding
work of art, and a great credit to the sculptor.
Twelve of these statues were cast, and one erected in each state, from
the Atlantic to the pacific which is traversed by the National Old Trails,
of which the National Pike is a part.
About 1916 the National Safety Society, Daughters of the American
Revolution, started a movement for the erection of a suitable memorial
in each of the 12 states. However, it was not until 1922 that Mrs. John
Trigg Moss, of St. Louis, Missouri, a member of the D.A.R., was appointed
chairman of this movement and from a small photograph of Sacajawea,
the Shoeshone Indian woman who guided Lewis and Clark across the Rocky
Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, she conceived the Idea of a mother of
the covered wagon days. During this long journey, Sacajawea carried
her infant son on her back and the photograph of her statue shows
her with her baby in a papoose carrier on her back. Mrs. Moss and her
son John Trigg Moss Jr., of St. Louis, worked out the present statue
from this idea, after many rough sketches were made. These designs
were turned over to A. Leimbach, a sculptor of St. Louis, and under
the direction of Mrs. Moss he created this representation of the pioneer
mothers of America.
Washington and Fayette counties were contenders for the location
of the statue for Pennsylvania, and after considerable debate Washington
County was selected. The location decided upon resulted in a controversy
that reached Harrisburg, and became so heated that it looked for a time as
if Pennsylvania would be the only state of the 12 without a Madonna of
the Trails. Powerful political interests wanted it located in another
county and when the Washington County committee of which James H. Eagleson
was chairman, selected with the consent of the County Commissioners,
a site on the Courthouse lawn at the corner of Main street and West Cherry
avenue, the Pennsylvania State Arts Commission refused to approve
the monument on the grounds that it was not a work of art, and refused
to permit it to be erected on any public property in Pennsylvania.
The State Arts Commission has or did at that time the power to refuse
permission for the erection of any building, monument or other object on
any public property whether owned by the state or by a county.
The controversy was carried to Governor Fisher, but he referred
the entire matter to the State Arts Commission so that no blame could be
attached to him. In the refusal the commission wrote, "artistic
which certainly had nothing to do with the matter.
However, the commission has the jurisdiction over private property
along the route of the pike, and Mr. Eagleson, a fighter who never knew
when he was "licked," went ahead with the plans. A site on the lawn of
the Elks Home in East Maiden street was offered, and when this was not
considered as the proper place, another location suggested was the campus
of Washington and Jefferson college; but that was off the route of the
pike and was not considered seriously.
Mr. Eagleson then considered the idea of a site on the property
of the Nemacolin Country Club, just east of Beallsville, and when he
approached Charles E. MacGinnis, the president, the latter was enthusiastic.
The Board of Directors endorsed the plan, and without a dissenting
vote donated a plot of ground where the statue stands.
The big problem was to raise $2,500 necessary to pay railroad
freight charges, and cost of hauling, erection and landscaping. Once more
Mr. Eagleson came to the rescue with his idea of the "Pioneer Fifty-Fifty
Club," in which membership was limited to fifty persons who would each
contribute $50 and through his efforts this was quickly accomplished.
Each member received an engraved certificate of
After all expenses were paid the balance was turned over to the Washington
County Chapter, D.A.R. for repairs that might be necessary through
The object of this club is best described in the "Articles of Association,"
which I quote:
"Recognizing that our pioneer mothers shared the trials and hardships of
life fifty-fifty with our pioneer forefathers in blazing the trail of
our nation, we do hereby agree to join ourselves in a Fifty-Fifty Club
for the purpose of paying tribute to their memory in assisting in erecting
and dedicating the "Madonna of the Trail" monument presented by the National
Society, D.A.R., and to be erected along the National Old Trails Highway in
the State of Pennsylvania; and in consideration of our membership
in this club we each agree to pay a fee of Fifty Dollars, which entitles
each member to a life membership fully
non-assessable in said club. Said membership to consist of a closed list
of fifty members and no new members shall ever be added; and when the
membership is completed, the full amount of membership fees shall be
turned over to the treasurer of the committee in charge of erecting
said monument, and this charter list be placed in the sealed box at the
dedication to go down in history as the only club of the kind ever
organized with a full membership of fifty with full dues of fifty
dollars and known as the "Pioneer Fifty-Fifty Club."
When the monument was unveiled and dedicated on December 8, 1928, the
membership roll --25 men and 25 women, again fifty-fifty, was placed in
the Memory Box in the base of the monument, "to be opened by the Washington
County Chapter, D.A.R., December 8, 1978."
The dedication was one of the big events in the history of the
Washington County Chapter. It was a cold, windy day with snow in the air,
and after the unveiling further ceremonies were held in the Nemacolin
Club House, where a dinner was served. Among those present were:
Mrs. Alfred J. Brosseau, President General, National Society
Mrs. Lowell Metcher Hobart, former State Regent of the Ohio D.A.R.,
and the next year elected General.
Mrs. John Trigg Moss, St. Louis, Chairman of the National Old
Trails Committee of the D.A.R.
Mrs. N. Rowland Brown, Norristown, Regent of the Pennsylvania
Mrs. William Alexander, Monongahela State Vice Regent of the D.A.R.,
and later State Regent.
James P. Eagleson, Vice President of the National Old Trails
Miss Nancy J. Hall, Regent of the Washington County Chapter,
D.A.R., and Secretary of The Fifty-Fifty Club.
Miss Ethel Boughner, regent of the Uniontown Chapter, D.A.R.
Miss Margaret Barnett, Markleton, later a National D.A.R. officer,
and sister of Colonel James E. Barnett.
The members of the Washington County Chapter were all present.
It is well to say that the action of the State Arts Commission
was in reality a blessing, for no better site could have been selected
that was brought about by the commission's refusal.
Through the courtesy of Mrs. W.A.H. McIlvaine, Secretary of the
Washington County historical Society, I was furnished by the National
Society, D.A.R., the locations and dates of unveiling of the statues
in the 12 states:
1. Springfield, Ohio, July 4, 1928; on National Pike.
2. Elm Grove, West Virginia, July 7, 1928, on National
3. Council Grove, Kansas, September 17, 1928; on the early
Sante Fe Trail.
4. Lexington, Missouri, September 17, 1928; on the early
Sante Fe Trail from St. Louis.
5. Lamar, Colorado, September 24, 1928, on the Sante Fe
6. Albuquerque, New Mexico, September 27, 1928; at the
forks of the trail from Sante Fe to Chihuahua, Mexico,
and from Albuquerque to California.
7. Springerville, Arizona, September 29, 1928; on the
trail from Sante Fe to California; followed by many of
8. Vandelia, Illinois, October 26, 1928; on the National
9. Richmond, Indiana, October 28, 1928; on the National
10. Beallsville, Pennsylvania, December 8, 1928; on the
11. Upland, California, February 1, 1928; on the old trail
from Sante Fe to California.
12. Bethesda, Maryland, April 19, 1929; on the National
Less than a mile west of the Madonna of the Trails and 15 miles
east of Washington, is the old town of Beallsville. Although several
houses and a post office called East Bethlehem were located at this
point before the road came through, this village really owes its growth
and prosperity to the National Pike. The town was laid out by Jonathan
Knight, surveyor," on September 13, 1819, for Zephaniah Beall, Zeph W.
Beall, his son, Christian Kreider and George Jackson. Knight's original
plan contained 128 lots, with the pike named Main street, and two principal
cross streets--Gay and Maiden.
Crumrine gives the information that Joseph Mills built the first
house in Beallsville, whether after the town was laid out or in the
village before that time is not stated, and lists the following residents
Thomas Stewart kept a tavern in a log building and William McKinley
and James Berry lived in cabins. These three log buildings were undoubtedly
part of the original hamlet.
Moses Bennington and Peter Herford lived in brick houses, and John
Havlin occupied a frame house.
John and Bartley Curry conducted a general store, and William
Ogden operated a blacksmith shop, as necessary in any community in those
long ago years as a garage is today.
Dr. Thomas H. Fowler, one of the first physicians was also
postmaster, a position he may have held at old East Bethlehem.
early physicians were Dr. William L. Wilson, Dr. Willis and Dr.
Dr. Thomas Mitchell Jr. was undoubtedly the first physician,
for Crumrine states that he resided at or near the location of the village
as early as 1809. This is shown by his advertisement on May 8, 1809, in
which he says "that he has opened a medical shop near the Washington
road, within half a mile of the tavern known by the name of Cross Keys
and now kept by Mr. Jackson, nine miles from Brownsville."
This shows that Jackson's Cross Keys was probably the first tavern in
all that region.
This may have been the same one kept by Thomas Stewart in 1821.
Very shortly after the pike was completed Beallsville became an
important point for stages and wagoners, and it prospered during the
National Pike era. The town was incorporated as a borough on February
Upon entering the town from the east the first tavern stood on the
north side of the road, kept by Andrew Keys and then by Thomas Keys,
both prior to 1840. The third proprietor was Robert Cluggage, and after
him came James Dennison, an old wagoner and stage driver from Claysville.
More will be said of his as a tavern keeper at the latter town. Searight
says that Moses Bennington succeeded Dennison, and after him came
Charles Guttery, who kept this house until 1854, when travel on the road
had almost ceased. A large wagon yard made this stand popular with the
Pike Boys. Mr. Miller informed me that the old building stood near the
Presbyterian Church until about 1951 when it was razed.
This old tavern building still stands on the corner on the north side
of the pike and opposite the famous Greenfield National Hotel. Miller's
was a public house throughout the prosperous era of the pike. Searight
informs us that Charles Miller kept this stand as early as 1830 and
probably before that year. Mrs. Chambers succeeded Miller, and after
her retirement Benjamin Demon took charge. Moses Bennington, proprietor
for a time, was succeeded by Charles Guttery, who, Searight says was the
last of the old line tavern keepers at this house.
Jess P. Miller remembers that Guttery conducted the house until
about 50 years ago. During Mr. Miller's youth this house had a license
with the bar in the corner room; and he remembers that it was a very
popular place, where dances were frequently held.
Just east of this building is the old home of Captain John Keyes,
organizer of the Ringgold Cavalry and one of Washington County's great
soldiers of the Civil War period although today he is one of our forgotten
Ellwood in his "Stories of the Ringgold Cavalry," gives an interesting
account of how Captain Keys succeeded, after being twice turned down, in
having Ringgold Cavalry accepted for the Union. Then President Lincoln
issued his first call for 75,000 volunteers in 1861, Keys offered his
cavalry to Governor Curtis, but the governor refused to accept it for
some reason only known to politicians of that time. Then Keys wrote to
Secretary of War Simon Cameron, and he also refused to accept these
volunteers. But the captain was a preserving man and not easily discouraged.
He wanted to get into the war as early as possible.
John Keyes was born June 24, 1822, at Beallsville. When the pike was
under construction the father of Secretary Cameron was one of the contractors.
He was a friend of Keys father, and met the son in later years during
visits at the Keys home and became attached to the boy. When the older
Cameron left that section he told his youthful friend that if he could ever
do him a favor he would. That boy grew to manhood with the passing
years, and Secretary Cameron refused his request the first time, Captain
Keys wrote again, telling the Secretary of War of this boyhood friendship
with his father and of the promise the latter made, and asked that his
company be accepted.
Immediately a warm letter came back, accepting the company and
ordering Captain Keys to report at once at Grafton, and on his 39th
birthday he marched from Beallsville at the head of his men, to join the
Union forces then operating against the Confederates in what is now West
Captain Keys and his original Ringgold Cavalry were mustered
into the Union Army at Grafton on June 29, 1861. The original company
of 70 men was soon increased by the enlistment of 100 more from Washington
County. At that time the Ringgold was an independent unit and the first
three year cavalry that entered the Union Army. Later, much to the disgust
of the original Ringgold men, it was incorporated as Company A of the 22nd
Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry, but the name of Ringgold stuck to the
regiment down to this day.
Ellwood describes his old commander: as a natural soldier, beloved by
all his men. He later served as chief of cavalry under Generals Lander,
Shields, Kelley and Mulligan.
Captain Keys' health finally broke under the terrific strain and
hardships of war, and in the late summer of 1863 he was granted a leave
of absence. He returned to his home in Beallsville to rest, but he had
endured too much and waited too long. This soldier, who had faced
death so many times on the battlefields of the South during his two
year’s service died quietly in bed on November 10, 1863, of diseases
contracted in the line of duty for his country. He was buried in the
village cemetery on the hill back of the church, but his comrades
always remembered him as a gallant a soldier as ever lived.
The origin of the name Ringgold is a little hazy after the passing
of more than 90 years since it was adopted by Captain Keys' cavalry
company; but as near as I can determine it was chosen in honor of Major
Samuel Ringgold, a gallant soldier during the Seminole Indian War from
1836 to 1842. He died May 11, 1846, of wounds received May 8 at Palo Alto,
Texas, one of the first American officers to give his live in the first
Battle of the Mexican War.
(To Be Continued)
For part 8 of The National Pike Story For part 10 of The National Pike Story