Georgetown - A Frontier River Town

A Frontier River Town

(From the Evening Review, July 7, 1976 ~ Reprinted with permission of the Editor)

Georgetown Borough, located on the extreme northwestern corner of Greene Township, has the distinction of being the second oldest borough in Beaver County.

The community is noted in every history book on the area. Its background ties in very closely with that of Smiths Ferry and it was almost as if the two were "twin cities" on the Ohio at one time.

The village was laid out by Benoni Dawson Jan. 13, 1793. The Dawsons were the most numerous in the early settlement and some of the oldest residents today are, in some way, related to the ancient ancestors.

Benoni was born in Maryland in 1742. He moved to Fayette County, Pa., after he was married and then later to the site of Georgetown. Seven accompanied his family to the new settlement.

When he resided in Fayette County, he sent men ahead with cattle and ordered them to clear the land for homesteading.

He and his wife, Rebecca Mackall Dawson, had 13 children. There were nine sons and four daughters. Benoni died May 16, 1806, at 64, and his wife died in 1816, at 75.

Benoni had built a Mill at Millcreek and was a member of the Episcopal Church.

The famous Indian fighters, Andrew Poe and Adam Poe, are identified also with the early history of this region, and may have descendants yet living in the vicinity of Georgetown.

Adam Poe joined with James Todd and Samuel Smith to be the borough's first commissioners when it was incorporated April 15, 1850.

The first person buried at Georgetown was James Clark, who built the first house in Smiths Ferry. He was slain by Indians about 1792.

John Bever, who operated the first paper mill in the district around 1808, started as a general storekeeper in Georgetown. He extended his business interests and, noting the traffic crossing the river, constructed a toll bridge over Beaver Creek, upstream from the Ohio River.

Thomas Foster, who was named justice of the peace in 1837, became the first postmaster April 1, 1802. Following him were John Christmas, 1807; Foster again in 1821; Zebulon Kinsey, 1835; Hugh McCullough, Selah Prudens, Thomas Fry, Charles Calhoon, George W. Calhoon and Samuel C. Trimble through to 1870; Henry J. Kinsey, 1881, and Lydia P. Kinsey, 1883.

The office was discontinued for a while in 1900 and rural delivery was started. At that time the population of the borough was 271.

The present postmaster is Mrs. John (Helen) Mackall. She and her husband reside adjacent to the Post Office.

The first hotel was kept by Foster and later the Trimble sisters. He was commissioned by the courts to keep a tavern in 1805.

John Cameron later operated the Red Lion, a favorite resort for rivermen.

David Pinkerton, another innkeeper, was an Irishman noted for his great physical strength. It is tradition that he once shouldered a barrel of whiskey at the river bank and carried it up the hill to his home.

Nothing is left to show of the old inn, but it is known to have stood on the bluff above the boat landing near the home of Capt. Thomas Calhoon.

In 1866, a special act of the assembly forever prohibited the sale of liquor in Greene Township.

The Georgetown area has always been looked upon as most hospitable. F. Cuming, in his travels down the Ohio in 1807, wrote of Georgetown and the surrounding area.

His report says, "It is a post town, and a considerable on the decline, there being only 25 houses, one-fourth of which are taverns."

Cuming told of staying at a home overnight because of rain. He said the host had a "half-blood Indian: for a wife.

He details, "At about half past seven, it began to rain with heavy thunder and sharp lightning. We huddled into the stern under the awning, and I sculled with one oar to keep the boat in the channel, in hopes of getting to Georgetown. But the storm increased and we judged it more prudent to stop at nine o'clock, where we saw a light on the left bank.

We were received very hospitably in their small log house by Mr. and Mrs. Potts. Our landlady gave us bread and milk, which after we changed our wet clothes, we supped on sumptuously. We then made some milk punch, which our landlord partook of with us with great 'gout,' entertaining us with some good songs and stories about his travels. Time thus passed away, while the storm pelted without and it was not until eleven o'clock that we stretched ourselves on the floor, with our feet to the fire, and enjoyed a good nap, resisting the kind importunities of the Potts to take their own bed, their other one being filled with their five children. And here I must remark that throughout this whole county, wherever you see a cabin, you see a swarm of children.

At six o'clock on Sunday morning, July 19, we left Potts, after having recompensed them for their hospitality. This was ten miles below Beaver and two and one-half miles above Georgetown. There are three small islands in the distance, called First, Second and Grape Islands. I landed at Georgetown on the left, which contains about 30 houses in a fine situation, on a narrow plain extending from the high river bank to the hills which surround it like an amphitheater.

Little Beaver Creek, opposite Georgetown, is a handsome little river about thirty yards wide, half a mile below which we saw the division line between Pennsylvania and Ohio.

One of the first Episcopal Churches west of the Alleghenies is St. Luke's Episcopal Church. It observed its 150th anniversary in 1964.

Although it was organized about 1800, it was not admitted into the Convention of Diocese of Pittsburgh until 1814.

The first Episcopal pastor was the Rev. Francis Reno of Rochester. He served an area circuit. The original building was a log cabin. This was replaced in 1833 by a brick structure at a cost of $3000. The membership was 40 in 1904.

Benoni Dawson and his family were among the early members.

The Methodist Episcopal Church organized in Georgetown about 1830. The members first met in a frame building on the Samuel Smith property. Early members there included E. Crail, Samuel Todd and Thomas Poe.

Several of the homes in Georgetown today are over 100 years old. Built and remodeled down through the years, many have interesting histories.

The oldest present day resident is Mrs. C. A. (Helen) Finley, who will be 86 in September. She resides in the home in which she was born along the river bank. Her family dates back to some of the earliest settlers in the community.

Georgetown has remained a small isolated community, with the main connection to the outside being the Georgetown Road which leads to Hookstown.

Its main industries today are the Shippingport Sand and Gravel Company and another sand and gravel plant operated by the Dravo Corporation.

Benoni Dawson
Benoni Dawson

Rebekah Dawson 1816
Rebekah Dawson

Hugh McCullough
Hugh McCullough

Henry J. & Lydia P. Kinsey
Henry J. & Lydia P. Kinsey

Thomas Foster
Thomas Foster

Strain Mausoleum
Strain Mausoleum

Zebulon Kinsey
Zebulon Kinsey

Samuel C. & Jane A. Trimble
Samuel C. & Jane A. Trimble

Georgetown Cemetery Sign

Georgetown Cemetery Gate Sign

St. Luke's Episcopal Church Sign

St. Luke's Episcopal Church
St. Luke's Episcopal Church

U. S. Post Office Georgetown, PA
U. S. Post Office ~ Georgetown

Georgetown Methodist Church
Georgetown Methodist Church

Rhio's Graphics