Compiled by Ann Simmons Eldredge
John Henry (1750-1838) was born in County Down, Ireland and emigrated to America when he was about 16 years old. “The History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania,” by Samuel Durant, says John first settled in Collier Township “being one of the first, if not the first settler in the area.” His home on Washington Pike was about five miles from Pittsburgh.
The history books refer to John as an active Indian fighter. “A Century and a Half of Pittsburg and Her People,” by John Newton Boucher, says that when John settled here “the region was a wilderness and (John) was frequently obliged to defend his home against the attacks of Indians who were in a state of hostility at the time.” “The History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania,” says John “went out on several occasions after the Indian marauders with James Kearns of Union Township.” A manuscript by Isaac Walker, of Walkers Mill, relates that in 1772, after Indians kidnapped five children of Gabriel Walker, John was named the leader of the 40 to 50 men who organized to bring back the children-dead or alive.
In 1773 or 1774, John vacated the claim in Collier. John served as a private in the Washington County Militia during the American Revolution. In 1788, as a result of this service, John was granted a land patent for 406 acres located near the Twin Hills/ McMonagle Road area. The land, dubbed “Henry’s Park,” was adjacent to that of Alexander Carnahan.
John, a farmer, was a founding member of MLEPC, where he served as a ruling elder and on the board of trustees. In the early 1800s he was named a commissioner of St. Clair Township.
John was twice married. His first wife was Sarah Smith of Washington County (her sister married James Miller, the son of Oliver Miller), his second wife was Margaret McMillan (1762-1846) of Washington County. Between the two women, John fathered 11 children, including William Henry (the father of Moses Henry , and James (1785-1863), a MLEPC ruling elder for 32 years who married Sarah Glenn (died 1829) and then Sarah Snodgrass (died 1864). The tombstones of John and both Sarahs are missing. James’ daughter Margaret Henry (1816-1885) married William S. Simmons. There are at least five generations of John and Margaret Henry’s family buried in St. Clair Cemetery.