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History of the City of Monongahela ~ 1769

Originally called Parkinson's Ferry, then Williamsport, and finally Monongahela City, this town is the oldest settlement in the Monongahela Valley and one of the most historic.

Monongahela dates its origin from April 17, 1769 when William Nowland, Peter Froman, and James Linnes purchased tracts of land at the mouth of Pigeon Creek on the Monongahela River, from a land office in Philadelphia on the strength of a 1768 treaty with the Indians.  The land was divided into three areas:  "Eden", which encompassed Monongahela's first ward from south of the city line to Factory and Walnut Streets was claimed by Nowland; "Paradise" (also spelled Paradice), north of "Eden" and bounded on the north by Pigeon Creek, went to Linnes; while "Gloucester", encompassing the area from Fourth Street to Dry Run Road and from Sheridan Street to the riverfront, was purchased by Froman.

"Eden" was later owned by Major James Warne, who was the son-in-law of Joseph Parkinson.  It is Parkinson, one of five brothers, who is officially credited with being Monongahela's founder.

In 1771, Joseph Parkinson and the DeVore brothers built and operated competing ferries on opposite sides of the Monongahela River:  Parkinson's on the west bank, and DeVore's on the east bank.  Much river traffic occurred in the area.  Parkinson recognized the need for a post office and, in 1782, the first and official listing of the town was Parkinson's Ferry.  In 1833, the name was changed to Williamsport, then officially to Monongahela on April 1, 1837.  Monongahela is an Indian word for "falling banks".

Monongahela changed from a borough form of government on March 24, 1873 when it was incorporated as a City.  This ordinance provided for joint sessions of the Select and Common Councils.  The City was incorporated as a City of the Third Class on September 30, 1912, when the Councils were consolidated, and the office of Controller was established.   ** This history page compiled from City historical archives located at Monongahela City Hall  

Historical Sketch of the City of Monongahela

Abraham Decker was granted a warrant dated August 26, 1769, having originally claimed all land now occupied by the upper part of Monongahela.  This tract was seventy acres.

The remaining riverfront from Monongahela to Dry Run Road was claimed and deeded to Paul Frohman.  The heirs of William Penn were paid approximately twenty-five cents an acre by Decker and Frohman.  In 1770, Joseph Parkinson purchased the Decker lands while other early settlers were Tobias Decker, John Decker, and Adam Wickerham.

Opposite Monongahela, James Devour (later called Devore) operated a ferry which had its Washington County terminal at Pigeon Creek.  Devour had operated the ferry previous to the arrival of the Parkinsons, but the latter family obtained the legal right to operate the ferry in 1782.

Parkinson's land, now known as the "island" was purchased by James Manown in 1829 who operated the former Parkinson Ferry until 1838 when a bridge across the Monongahela River rendered the ferry useless.

The first post office was called Parkinson's Ferry; the nearest post offices previous to its being were at Brownsville, Pittsburgh, and Basset Town.

In 1781, a public road was built from Basset Town (Washington) to what is now First Street, Monongahela.  This road and a ferry across the river attracted travel, and as a result, Parkinson's Inn was erected in what is now Main Street just a little north of First Street.  In October 1792, Parkinson offered lots at a public sale which was a dismal failure until 1796 when 24 of a total of 104 lots were sold.  The minimum price was $ 22.00 while the highest price lot sold for $ 239.00.

The Post Office at Parkinson's Ferry was changed to Williamsport in 1833, and in 1837 was again changed to Monongahela City.  During the term of Postmaster Chill W. Hazzard, the word "City" was dropped and the local post office is officially Monongahela.  

Content provided by the:  
Monongahela Area Historical Society
230 West Main Street
Monongahela, PA  15063

HOURS:  Wednesdays & Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.  

Contact Information:
Susan Bowers, President 724.258.2377  
Martha Muniz, Vice President 724.258.3824  
Carol Frye, Treasurer 724.258.6432