FREDERICKTOWN - Is on the west bank of the Monongahela River, below the great bend, two miles north of the mouth of Tenmile Creek, eight miles above Brownsville, and twenty miles southwest (east?) of Washington. It was laid out by Frederick Wise, on August 21, 1790, although the land was patented March 22d, 1788, under the name of "Sugar-tree Bottom". In laying out the town, the proprietor reserved one acre of ground for a cemetery, and Lot 44 for a school house, upon which a brick edifice has been erected, containing one graded school with two departments.
The town was surveyed and laid off by Isaac Jenkinson; lots measuring 60 by 180, having Water, Main, and Bank streets running parallel with the river, and Washington, Walnut, Sycamore running at right angles to the former; each street being 50 feet wide except Main, which is 60. The proprietor of the town entered into an agreement with Isaac Jenkinson and others September 20, 1793, recorded in the Recorder's office of this country, that no distillery for the destruction of grain or fruit shall be at any time erected on the premises, by or under said Wise or any purchaser of his or their purchase.
In 1793 a public library was established, which continued in operation until the 31st day of July, 1825, when it was closed and the books sold.
The town contains a population of 320 inhabitants; a stoneware pottery, manufacturing 30,000 gallons annually; a grist and saw mill; two hotels; a rectifying distillery; fifty dwellings; and salt works, the well being 520 feet deep.
About a mile below Fredericktown is a curious cave called the Panthers den. It enters the hill half way from its base, by a small fracture or rent in the rock. After going a few yards through a narrow and descending passage, you enter a wide but low room in which you can walk nearly upright; to the roof of this room the exploring party found bats hanging in a stupid kind of sleep. By clambering up another fracture in the rock, they entered another room; they were required to roll themselves through this room, and entered a third by a narrow and descending passage, occasioned by another rent in the rock. This room was high enough to walk upright in, and was divided by a partition of petrifactions, formed by the drippings of water through the roof. The party explored it about forty yards.
David S. Wilson, Esq., of Washington, has kindly permitted me the copy of the following letter, the original of which is in his possession, and is a proud monument to the citizens of Fredericktown and it's vicinity, showing their devotion to our government in its infant state. The letter is in the hand-writing of John Adams, President of the United States.
To the inhabitants of Fredericktown, and it's vicinity, in the county of Washington and the State of Pennsylvania-- Gentlemen: Your memorial to the President, Senate, and House of Representatives has been presented to me by Judge Addison, for which I return you my thanks. From the beginning of the world, the elements of division of opinion among the people have existed; the distinctions of the wise and foolish, learned and ignorant, industrious and idle, strong and weak, virtuous and vicious, have ever prevailed, and while these continue men will think differ- ently. One would imagine that under a constitution of their own choice they might agree, but we find that they do not; to be sure to seek shelter under a foreign power is another thing; they must be depraved and lost, who are capable of this. Very few, if any, whose blood was first distilled from the American soil can be of the number; these will very generally pledge themselves to a cordial attention to every duty incumbent on citi- zens of a free and independent Republic. John Adams Philadelphia, July 7, 1798.
© Copyright 1999 by Michael A. Donaldson
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