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Summer 1997
Summer 1997

While On the Go in Connellsville
by Joan Kriek, President, Connellsville Historical Society

Zachariah Connell was one of the earliest settlers in the region. He was born in Virginia in 1741, settling in Fayette County sometime after 1770. During the Revolution, he as captain of the militia and a Ranger of the Frontier from 1778-1783.

As a surveyor and land agent for Virginia Governor Dinmiddie, Howard of Maryland, and the Chen family of Philadelphia, Connell was an able and highly respected judge of the land.

Deciding that 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 for river floats, he surveyed a town of 180 quarter acre lots and secured a charter for March 31, 1793 for the town, which he named Connellsville.

In the charter, it gave permission for the town 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 hillside overlooking the city.

The town has had a few growing pains as most do. An ordinance for the issuing of paper currency to relieve the shortage of small change was passed on July 29, 1816. The project was not successful, and the business was sold in April, 1817.

As the area grew, the town fathers tried to bring a railroad through the city. The debt incurred by the Council made the tax load so heavy that the population decreased by 557 persons from 1835 until 1860. It would take more than 20 years for the town to recover from this The railroads that followed the first company however, showed that transportation was the key for the city's prosperity.

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