Some families share long history with Marshall

| Monday, July 22, 2013, 10:41 a.m.

First, there were the Indian trails, then traders followed by a military effort to keep peace on the western borders of Penn's Woods.

Farmers arrived and as the nation struggled through the Civil War, a group of Franklin Township residents sought independence. Pittsburgh attorney Thomas Mercer Marshall defended them in court for three years and fathered Marshall Township, which was created on June 3, 1863.

The township, which now has 7,300 residents in its 15.58 square miles, turned 150 this year. Residents will celebrate the sesquicentennial on Saturday at Knob Hill Park.

Some names have a long history in the township.

Shenot Farm & Market is on 123 acres that Christopher Scheno, the original spelling, bought on Jan. 1, 1866. Scheno first traveled from Alsace-Lorraine, France, to Sharpsburg with his wife and two sons.

Ed Shenot, who represents the family's fifth generation to own the property, operates the farm with his wife and son.

“I knew it well, and learned to love it,” Shenot said of farming. He followed his father, John Wilson “Bill”; his grandfather, Edward N.; and great-grandfather, August, in Scheno's footsteps.

At 64, he and his son, Rob, 34, share the farmwork. Shenot's wife, Mary Lou, runs the market.

In earlier days, the farm had dairy cows, hogs, chickens, fields of vegetables and fruit trees. Shenot's ancestors traveled to the North Side Market House in Pittsburgh to sell goods in the 1900s. Shenot remembered his great-uncle transporting milk from his dairy in Pine Township via the Harmony Line trolley.

During Shenot's junior year at Penn State University, where he was studying horticulture, his father asked if he was coming back to take care of the farm.

“When you get rid of the cows, I will,” he replied. “You're married to 'em. They have to be milked two times a day, seven days a week.”

Today, the cows are gone. The family plants 100 acres in vegetables and orchards and maintains a greenhouse where seedlings are grown.

At one time, what now is the Warrendale neighborhood served as “town” for Marshall residents.

“Warrendale had several general stores, post offices, blacksmith shops, three inns, a few taverns and a couple of livery stables,” Judith A. Oliver wrote in “A Pennsylvania Chronicle: The History of Marshall Township,” published in 1988.

Marshall got its own schoolhouse in Warrendale by a vote of its first school directors in 1863, said Joe Bullick, 81, curator of the North Allegheny History Museum in McKnight Elementary School in McCandless.

Oliver wrote that the board set teacher pay at $22 a month and levied a 4-mill school tax plus $1 per capita “on each taxable inhabitant to pay the bills.”

The number of one-room schools grew. There were four in 1928 — Forsyth, Neely, Pine Grove and Brush Creek.

Bullick said that in 1929, students from the four schools moved to a consolidated school on Northgate Drive in Warrendale that had four rooms with two grades each for first- through eighth-grade students.

Oliver wrote that at that time, providing high school education wasn't mandatorybut the township paid monthly fees to send students for secondary education in places such as Ambridge, Bellevue, Mars, West View and Pittsburgh.

On July 5, 1948, the school districts of Marshall, Franklin, McCandless and Pine townships and the borough of Bradford Woods formed North Allegheny Joint Schools, Oliver wrote. Pine later left that district.

The township's consolidated school closed in 1972, and students transferred to Bradford Woods Elementary School.

Marshall Elementary School on Wexford Run Road opened in 1992, the first school built in the township since the 1920s. Marshall Middle School opened in 1993 on the same campus, Bullick said.

The key to the area's growth was the roads and highways — Route 19, McKnight Road and interstates 79 and 279, Bullick said.

Neil McFadden, Marshall's first manager, agreed. “I-279 put Marshall Township on the map,” he said.

He led the municipality for 26 years, and his focus was “to retain the rural character of the community,” not an easy task when industries were looking to expand in the township.

The RIDC Thorn Hill Industrial Park now is at the hub of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 19, “right in the spot you would want it to be,” he said.

With easy access to the city, Marshall Township attracts corporate professionals.

“The excellent schools are the calling card,” McFadden said, and there are outstanding municipal and fire services. “I'm proud of where we are,” he said.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or

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