Smith: South Fayette historical society grows into new location
Sometime before 1768, a settler known only by the name of Miller built a cabin at the mouth of what's called Miller's Run Creek.
Thus began the humble start to South Fayette Township.
Fayette Township, which originally was part of Moon Township but split off in 1780, was named after Gen. Marquis de Lafayette. By 1842, the land was divided into North Fayette and South Fayette townships and population was surging, despite wilderness dangers and bad weather.
Coal and oil tracts were discovered around 1800, and the township was known as a mining and farming community. It is this rich heritage that the Historical Society of South Fayette Township hopes to document and preserve.
The society began in 2004 by Sue Caffrey, a former South Fayette Township commissioner and the group's first president.
Through local, state and foundation grants, the group initially funded a variety of programs, including video of oral histories from residents. These videos are presently being converted to DVDs by Ryan Tomazin of Tomazin Scanning Services, a Bridgeville company specializing in digitizing, photo restorations and graphic design.
Emily Williamson-Brady, a lifelong resident of South Fayette, took over as president in 2007. She was raised on the stories of her father, who grew up in the township as a farmer boy, soccer player, miner and steelworker. These instilled in her a love of the area and its history and people.
She continues the work of preserving and archiving donations, which have included articles on the “Coal Miners' Daughters of South Fayette,” old newspapers, maps, books, deeds, photographs and Lafayette High School yearbooks (the former name of South Fayette High School), Also in the cache is information on the Morgan Soccer Club and numerous South Fayette businesses and churches. Artifacts include farm machinery and tools, Indian arrowheads, and mining items such as picks, lamps, hats and tools.
After being in various storage locations, including members' homes and a small space in the township library, the donations are being consolidated.
The society's new home is at 4097 Battle Ridge Road. The society will be open initially from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The organization continues to welcome the donation of photographs, artifacts and family histories.
Copies of the 2015 book “History of South Fayette Township” are available for purchase at the new location. The book, with more than 180 photographs, explains the history of the township from its founding and explores the backgrounds of businesses, churches, the school district, the four volunteer fire departments, clubs and sports groups, and brings community events current through 2014.
“We hope to celebrate the history of South Fayette's ancestors and our present-day residents by getting things written down and saved for future generations,” Williamson-Brady said.
The historical society is also welcoming new members. For more information or to make an appointment to visit the building, send an email to SFHistory@aol.com or call 412-257-3523.
Charlotte Smith is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. Reach her at 724-693-9441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor's note: Charlotte Smith is the author of the Arcadia Publications book “History of South Fayette Township.”