Early Settlers

Mt. Lebanon School class of 1896

Most of the early settlers of this area were farmers. In fact, the 1841 tax list for Upper St. Clair Township lists more than 270 farmers with the next closest occupation being laborer (66) followed by blacksmith and carpenter (19 each). That same tax list has one minister, one judge, one lawyer and seven doctors. While some names of these departed souls live on in the names of local streets or neighborhoods–McNeilly, McCully, Kelso, Beadling, Carnahan, Beltzhoover–most left little behind except a tombstone, and it was difficult to gather information about them.

A typical Mt. Lebanon farm in the early 1900s.

Many of those buried in St. Clair Cemetery are the people who carved out the community we now call Mt. Lebanon.and that couldn’t have been easy, as the book “The History of Allegheny County with Illustrations,” published in 1876, makes clear: “Wild beasts were particularly troublesome in this township at that time (before 1800) and it was almost impossible to protect domestic animals from their ravages. The howls of the wolves at night were fearful, and they prowled close to cabin walls. Panthers dropped upon the unwary traveler from the trees and the bears were so bold as, on one occasion, to walk indoors and take possession of a log house.”

The earliest permanent settlers of this area–moving here in the early 1770s–were Alexander Long, Andrew McFarlane, John Henry and William Lea. By 1798, the population was quickly growing as more and more families migrated to the St. Clair Township, including Nathaniel Plummer, Charles Frew, the Espys and a handful of others were recorded as living in St. Clair Township (St. Clair Township was established in 1788; this area became Upper St. Clair Township about 1806; Scott Township in 1861; and Mt. Lebanon in 1912). Yet many of the early settlers who played pivotal roles in the creation of MLEPC and the community do not seem to be buried here. Why?

There is a chance these early settlers were buried in the cemetery and their gravestones have fallen victim to the ravages of time. Or they may have attended Old St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (est. 1765) where William Lea was buried. But perhaps they just were not residing in the area when they died. “The History of Allegheny County with Illustrations” claims: “Early residents seem never to have resided (in St. Clair Township) for any length of time, but came and went like the Indians, with this exception, that they left whenever the Indians came.”

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