Brief History of Young Township


Founding and Population
Young Township was formed from parts of Blacklick and Conemaugh Townships in 1830. In 1870, 1910, and 1950 the Township had a population of 1,509, 3,751, and 2,984 respectively. The increase in population between 1870 and 1910 can be attributed to the labor needs of the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal and Iron Company as it purchased coal rich lands, developed coal mines, and built a number of company towns. (In the future the company would be known as the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company). An influx of immigrant laborers and their families, primarily from southern and eastern Europe, soon followed. The disbanding of the company towns by the Coal Company after World War II eventually caused a decline in the town's population. 

Early Settlers
Most of the very early settlers and immigrants to the area were of Scottish, English, Irish or Welsh descent. Among the common family names in the 18th and 19th century were: Neal/Niel, Cunningham, Stuchal/Stuchell, McIntire, Gilmour, Lowman, Harbison, Hutchinson, Watson, and Ewing. One of the earliest settlers in the area that would be known as Young Township was William Niel who settled there in 1790. 

Robert Elder and his oldest son, James, who came to the area that would be named Young Township from their previous home near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, were among the earliest settlers to this area. James McKisson developed a homestead in the area in 1776. However, after building a cabin he was forced to flee due to Indian raids. However, he returned in 1790 and established his farm. Other names of early pioneers who settled in the area were Robert Henderson, Allen McCombs, and Robert Fulton. (This was not the famous Fulton of steamship fame).

Livelihoods of Early Settlers
In the 18th and 19th centuries, before the development of large scale production coal mines, most of the residents of the area made their living from farming, milling or trading. A pottery kiln was built by Thomas Anderson in 1850 and employed only two men. Anderson's successor, McNees, expanded the business and employed four men. A later proprietor, Caldwell, employed five to eight men. The kiln produced gray stoneware, stone pumps, drain pipes and other articles which were either sold at the kiln or delivered to stores in the area. The manufacture of threshing machines, by George W. Collins in his factory, was carried on from 1866 to 1877. 

First Elections in Young Township
The first recorded election in Young Township was held in the home of Thomas M. Andrews in 1834. The following officers were elected: Constable, Horace Ferguson; Supervisors, William McFarland and David Elder; Overseers, Nathaniel Lewis and Thomas Brown; Township Clerk, Thomas M. Anderson; Judges of Election, Hugh Blakely and Nathaniel Lewis.

1913 Assessor's Book
The assessor's book for the year 1913 indicated the following for Young Township: 332 horses valued at $14,430; 292 cows valued at $5,740; taxable real estate valued at $775,977. The book also indicated 20,183 acres of cleared land and 1,481 acres of timberland.

Coal Company and the Immigrants
About 1900, the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal and Iron Company began to purchase land  from established families in Young Township, from coal speculators, and from other smaller coal companies in the area. Because the new mines required many workers, the lure of a steady job was the impetus for men and their families to immigrate from eastern and southern European countries through New York or Canada. They learned of coal mining jobs  through friends and relatives from their home villages who had previously immigrated to the area, or through agents from the Coal Company who actively recruited them as newly arrived immigrants. As the company towns in Young Township, such as McIntyre, developed and expanded, families with names such as Arduini, and Setlock, settled and brought with them their varied, rich, and unique culture and customs from their homelands. Although the immigrants were valued by the Coal Company for their hard work in the mines, to most of the native Anglo-American population, they were considered as second-class persons. Slang words used to describe particular ethnic groups, such as "dago" and "wop" for the Italians, "polack" for the Polish, and "hunky" or "bohunk" for the Slavs and other eastern European groups, were used by earlier settled Americans in a derogatory way. In turn, the newer immigrants frequently referred to the earlier settled families as "johnny bulls." In McIntyre, intermarriage between individuals from either the various immigrant ethnic groups or the earlier settled Americans was not uncommon. Within one extended family it was possible to have relatives of several ethnic origins.

Joshua T. Stewart, Pennsylvania: Her People Past and Present,  vol. 1
(Chicago: J.H. Beers and Company, 1913), vol. 1, 572-574.