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Heritage of 'patch towns' highlighted

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By Laura Szepesi
Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

In researching Dunbar Historical Society's new book, “Dunbar and Its Neighbors,” many facts were unearthed about the early history of Fayette County, Dunbar Borough and Dunbar Township.

Donna Myers, historical society secretary, shared a few titillating tidbits for this article, such as:

•Before there was a Fayette County, this section of Southwestern Pennsylvania was part of Cumberland, Bedford and Westmoreland County. Fayette County was formed in 1783.

• In 1798, Dunbar Township was created from Menallen Township; Dunbar Borough was incorporated in 1883. Dunbar takes its name from Col. Thomas Dunbar, a British officer who served in the French and Indian War, which was fought in Colonial America — and other countries worldwide — in the 1750s, prior to the American Revolution.

• Few of today's local residents know how Dunbar Township villages got their names:

• Three villages were named by Trotter Coke Works (which was owned by Connellsville Gas-Coal Co., which dated back to 1864):

— Trotter, for attorney Charles Trotter of Philadelphia;

— Wheeler, for Charles Wheeler, vice president of Central Bank of Philadelphia;

— Morrell, for Daniel J. Morrell, president of Cambria Iron and Coal Co., which had leased land in the area for 20 years.

• Leisenring No. 1 coal mining “patch” town, was named for John Leisenring, president of Connellsville Coal and Iron Co., in 1880. (Dunbar Township village West Leisenring/Bute, was originally named Leisenring No. 2; the village of Monarch began as Leisenring No. 3.)

• Mount Braddock takes its name from British Gen. Edward Braddock, whose Colonial troops were defeated at Fort Duquesne (now Point State Park in Pittsburgh), during the French and Indian War. Eventually, Christopher Gist became a prominent surveyor and Isaac Meason an ironmaster near Mount Braddock; Meason's early 19th-century home can still be seen along Route 119 near Dunbar Township's Laurel Mall (behind Cellurale's Greenhouses).

These facts — and many others — are included in Dunbar Historical Society's new book, “Dunbar and Its Neighbors,” which is currently on the press and will be available at the 2013 Dunbar Community Fest on Sept. 28.

Laura Szepesi is a contributing writer.

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