1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Washington (Pennsylvania)

WASHINGTON, a borough and the county-seat of Washington county, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., about 25 m. S.W. of Pittsburg and about 30 m. N.E. of Wheeling, West Virginia, on Chartiers Creek. Pop. (1900) 7670, of whom 465 were foreign born and 984 were negroes; (1910) 18,778. Washington is served by the main line of the Baltimore & Ohio, the Chartiers Valley branch of the Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago & St Louis (Pennsylvania system) and the Waynesburg & Washington railways and a connecting line for freight service, and by electric railway to Pittsburg. Among its public buildings and institutions are the county court-house (in which are the rooms of the Washington County Historical Society), the Federal building, two hospitals, a Y.M.C.A. building and a public library. It is the seat of Washington and Jefferson College, of Washington Seminary (1836) for girls and of a school of business. Washington and Jefferson College was incorporated, in 1865, by the consolidation of two rival institutions, Washington Academy and Jefferson College. Washington Academy (incorporated in 1787 and endowed by the legislature of Pennsylvania), which was opened in 1789, was incorporated as Washington College in 1806, and in 1852 became a synodical college of the Presbyterian Church, under the direction of the synod of Wheeling. Jefferson College, which was an outgrowth of Canonsburg Academy at Canonsburg, 7 m. from Washington, was chartered in 1794, and incorporated as Jefferson College in 1802; from 1826 until 1838 the Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia was its medical department. In 1869, by an act of the legislature, all departments were located at Washington. In 1872 a chair of engineering and applied mathematics and one of biology were established with an endowment of $40,000, the gift of Dr Francis J. LeMoyne, and the chairs of Greek and of Latin were endowed by the Rev. C. C. Beatty with $60,000. In 1909–1910 Washington and Jefferson College (including Washington and Jefferson Academy) had 29 instructors, 413 students, about 20,000 volumes in its library and an endowment of $630,000. Washington is in a bituminous coal and natural gas region, and there are manufactories of glass, iron tubing and pipe, tin plate, steel, &c. The site was part of a tract bought in 1771 by David Hoge and was known at first as Catfish camp after an Indian chief, Tingooqua or Catfish. It was platted in October 1781 and called Bassettown in honour of Richard Bassett (d. 1815), a member of the Federal constitutional convention of 1787 and of the United States Senate in 1789–1793, and governor of Delaware in 1798–1801. The village was replatted in November 1784 and renamed in honour of General Washington, to whom a large part of the site had belonged. The early settlers were chiefly Scotch-Irish. At first a part of Strabane township, one of the original thirteen townships of Washington county, in February 1786 Washington was made a separate election district; it was incorporated as a town in 1810; was chartered as a borough and enlarged in 1852, and its limits were extended in 1854 and 1855. Since 1900 there have been added to the borough North and South Washington and the industrial suburb of Tylerdale, East and West Washington, although practically one with the borough, remaining under separate administration. The location of Washington on the old “National Road” gave it importance before the advent of railways. At the LeMoyne crematory established here by Dr Francis Julius LeMoyne,[1] on the 6th of December 1876, took place the first public cremation in the United States; the body burned was that of Baron Joseph Henry Louis de Palm (1809–1876), a Bavarian nobleman who had emigrated to the United States in 1862 and had been active in the Theosophical Society in New York.

See Boyd Crumrine (ed.), The History of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1882); and Alfred Creigh, The History of Washington County from its First Settlement to the Present Time (Harrisburg, 1871).

  1. LeMoyne (1798–1879) was the son of a French refugee, and was an ardent abolitionist. In 1840 he was the Liberty party's candidate for the vice-presidency. He built a normal school for negroes near Memphis, Tennessee, and gave money to Washington College, at which he had graduated in 1815. Largely through LeMoyne's influence Washington became an important point on the “underground railway” for assisting runaway slaves to Canada.