Monday, May 07, 2012

History of Milligantown PA

  • Milligantown history

    Centennial Booklet 1879-1979

     Samuel Milligan Jr, and his sons, in about 1820, built a grist mill along Little Pucketos Creek at the place where it was crossed by the Tarentum-Greensburg road. A county road map dated 1818 showed this as a major road across the Upper Burrell area connecting North Washington with Chartiers Station (Edgecliff) , and the ford across the river to Tarentum. Judging from references to this road in early property deeds, it came along the present Pennsylvania Route 780 through McLaughlinstown, down Manchester Hill, across the creek and up along the hillside above the present location on Baxter Drive, on past the Puckety United Presbyterian Church to Chartiers Station. Other roads later converged at this crossing which became known as Milligans Mills and then Milligantown.
    The Milligan family could have been the first settlers in this vicinity although we suspect that others may have preceded them. On Dec 26, 1804, Mr Milligan acquired a 245 acre patent named "Manchester" (Patent book 55, p 221), for which a warrant had been granted to Thomas Dunwoody (or Dinwoody) on June 24,1773. It would be very interesting to know more about Mr Dunwoody... how at such an early date he came to carve this particular tract out of vacant land. Was he a squatter proceeding to obtrain title to the land he had improved? Could he have passed through this area while serving in the militia and returned to purchase this tract? Possibly he was a land speculator from Pittsburg (just as John Little applied for a warrant in 1769 for a 300 acre tract in the Logans Ferry-Parnassus region, and then sold it to John Wood who in turn conveyed it to Alexander Logan). What vision did he have for the development of this land when he marked off an area approximately the same as that shown in the small map of Milligan's Mills? All we know is that he deeded the tract on March 26, 1788 to William Waddel who on June 7, 1801 deeded it to Samuel Milligan, Jr, in Perry County. As none of these names appear on th 1790 census, it is assumed that when the Milligan family came to this area and built their cabin in about 1802, they were the first residents of 'downtown Milligantown'.
      Samuel Milligan Jr was born near Carlisle Pennsylvania in 1769, and married Mary Margaret Jamieson, born 1777. The young couple with their small children no doubt packed a wagon and headed westward across the mountains as soon as possible, after purchasing their property in the spring of 1801. It surely must have been a big adventure for the young family to move into the western frontier to build a new home and a new life. One wonders about the route they took to find the remote spot along the Little Pucketos Creek that they chose for a cabin site. Did they cross the mountains on the Forbes Road, head north at Hanna's Town, proceed on through
    New Salem and Poke Run to North Washington, turn left on the Tarentum road, proceed through McLaughlinstown and finally come down the (Manchester) hill into their two hundred forty five acre tract.. possibly to have their wagon stick in the mud at the crossing of the creek? And, after all this, Mary Margaret may have said, "Sam, I'm not going one step farther; there is water here and the woods are beautiful". More than likely, Sam had made the journey earlier without the family, explored the area and found it to his liking and started construction of their cabin.
      During the early 1800s additional settlers purchased land and moved into the area.. Other property owners in that period besides Samuel Milligan and his sons James, Robert Jamieson, and Samuel; were Robert Baxter, James Anderson, John Frederick, James Irwin, Thomas Blair, and David McLean.
     The village continued to grow and it was a thriving community with several small businesses, a church and a school, when the township of Upper Burrell was established. It existed as an active community center for several generations with the name being changed to Milligantown sometime around the 1880s. Later, there was added a telephone exchange and a blacksmith shop.
    Samuel Milligan, Jr died in 1862, twelve years after his wife, and both are buried in the old Manchester Church graveyard. Most of the detailed information about the Millligan family was supplied by Mrs Elizabeth Coulson of Lower Burrell who is a descendant of Mary Jane, the only daughter of Samuel and Mary Margaret Milligan.
     Today, Milligantown is the largest population center in the township, but all of the former businesses are gone. The only present business establishment is Carol's Hotel. There remains only the Manchester Reformed Presbyterian Church from of old.
    Contributed by Marilyn Blair for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (

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