Wednesday, September 18, 2019


This column first appeared in the September 2019 issue of GreeneSPEAK!
The original Greene County courthouse of 1797 is the only extant early log structure in Waynesburg. Today, it is the home of Cornerstone Genealogical Society.

Who were the first citizens of Waynesburg? What did their houses look like and what were their economic reasons for moving to the new county seat?

Many clues can be found in the U. S. Direct Tax of 1798, aka the ”Window Tax” that assessed panes of glass, a measure of wealth in the 18th century. The list for Waynesburg contained only 19 “occupied” structures with another eight under construction. In my last column, I reviewed the six simplest cabins, all occupied and assessed at under $100 including the lot.   

An additional 13 dwellings were assessed over $100, based on size, material, number of stories and panes of glass. Eleven were log and two were frame. One of the log buildings, the original courthouse, still stands on Greene Street.  

In the 1930s, photographer William Fletcher captured this image of Greene Street one block west of the log courthouse when other early dwellings of log and frame still lined the street.  Today the site is a gas station.  Credit:

Across the street from the log courthouse, innkeeper Phillip Ketchum had the highest assessment at $600. His two-story log dwelling was 30 x 26 feet with three 15-pane windows on the first floor and six 12-panes on the second, plus two log stables. After 1801, it was known as the Nicholas Johnson Tavern.

The second highest assessment at $500 was Jacob Burley’s log tavern on Franklin Street. It was 2-stories, 54 x 22 with thirteen 12-pane windows, plus a separate log kitchen measuring 20 x 18 on three lots between Richhill Street and Spring Alley. After 1812, it was the Joseph Seals Tavern. 

Justice of the Peace William Hunter lived on Lot 96 at the northwest corner of High and Morgan Streets (today Victoria Square) in a 2-story log house 25 x 22 with 12 single pane windows on the first floor and five on the second. Assessed at $300, it included a stable. 

U. S. Direct Tax of October 1, 1798 lists John Boreman and Jacob Burley's properties in the new town of. Waynesburg.  Not yet incorporated, it was included in Franklin Township.  All town lots were 10,800 sq. ft.  Boreman had three.

Early settler John Boreman’ s three lots on Greene Street between Morris Street and Fruit Alley were valued at $200, occupied by his 2-story log house, 26 x 20 with one 9-pane window, plus a smokehouse 20 x 20 with two single pane windows. During the Revolutionary War, Boreman was Assistant Paymaster at Ft. Pitt, earning the trust of colonial leaders. When Greene County was formed in 1796, Governor Mifflin appointed him clerk of all courts, recorder of deeds, recorder of wills and prothonotary. He was county government’s most influential official.

The Uriah Hupp log house in Clarksville, Greene County, was dismantled in 19__ and shipped to North Ireland where it is today the centerpiece of the Ulster American Folk Park.
Waynesburg’s first U. S. postmaster, James Wilson, built a 1-story frame house assessed at $200 on Lot 91 at the northeast corner of High and Washington Streets. It had two 12-pane windows and one 8-pane. Soon thereafter, he replaced it with a brick structure that survives today as part of the “Messenger Building,” now Mickey’s Men’s Store.

Attorney John Simonson owned a rental log house assessed at $160 on the present site of PNC Bank. It was 16 feet square with two 12-pane windows on the first floor and two 9-panes on the second. At the other end of town, High and Findley Alley, Henry Slater’s log house of 26 x 20 was also assessed at $160. It was 2-stories with eight 9-pane windows.

In 1973, Professor Henry Glassie of Indiana University, Bloomington, IN studied the earliest extant log structures in Greene County. His report, found in the library at the Ulster American Folk Park, includes the Joseph Higgins Farm south of Waynesburg. Early log dwellings in town would have been similar.

Interior floor plan of the Higgins log house from Professor Glassie's report.

In addition, there were six smaller occupied properties with fewer windows and values ranging from $102 to $130. The owners were Shadrack Mitchell (stone mason), Henry Russell (carpenter), William Caldwell (tailor), Robert Adams (shoemaker), Asa McClelland (gunsmith), and Peter Lupardus. While Caldwell’s house was frame, all the others were log.

The series concludes next month with the eight “unfinished” houses marking a change in building material from log to brick.

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