A Town Begins
Zachariah Connell was one of the earliest settlers in the region. He was born in Virginia in 1741 and settled in Fayette County sometime after 1770. During the revolution, he was a captain of militia and a Ranger of the Frontier from 1778-1783.
As a surveyor and land agent for Governor Dinwiddie of Virginia, Howard of Maryland, and the Chew family of Philadelphia, Zachariah Connell was an able and highly respected judge of land.
Deciding a tract of land on the east side of the Youghiogheny River would make a natural stopping place for immigrants and travelers to build rafts and float down the river, he surveyed a town of 180 quarter-acre lots and secured a charter on March 21, 1793, for the town which he named Connellsville.
In the charter given to the town, he gave permission for the townspeople to use the stone quarry, coal bank, and adjacent timber and springs. He also donated land for a public building, churches, schools, and a graveyard.
Zachariah Connell died in 1813 and is buried on a hill overlooking Connellsville.
The town had a few growing pains as most towns do. An ordinance for the issuing of paper currency to relieve the shortage of small change was passed on July 9, 1816. The project must not have been too successful, as they sold out in April 1817.
As the area grew, the town fathers tried to help by bringing a railroad through Connellsville. The debt contracted by the council made the tax load so heavy that the population decreased by 557 persons from 1850 – 1860. It would take more than 20 years for the town to recover from this. The railroads that followed the first company showed that transportation was necessary for the town to prosper.
Provided by the Connellsville Area Historical Society. Added to the site on February 2, 2000.