Street Names Ė Part I
By Al Owens
Iíve always been curious about how things got to be the way they are. Take
Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Itís widely known that Henry Beeson (and later his
brother Jacob) came from Virginia in their twenties, rode over the mountains
past where that George Washington fellow lost that battle, passed all of those
abandoned French and Indian War armaments and finally settled in the place we
now call Uniontown.
But it was a little more complicated than that. Henry Beeson only bought a few
hundred acres of what is now the town. He parceled it out and sold much of it
several years before he founded The Town of Union back on July 4th, 1776.
None of this stuff is really new. But what I learned while culling the online
version of James Haddenís excellent 1913 book A History of Uniontown: The County
Seat of Uniontown, Pennsylvania provided me with a wealth of facts Iíd always
wondered about, but never knew for sure.
Morgantown, for instance, was once known as Cheat Street, owing to the fact that
it eventually led out of Uniontown and near the Cheat River. But for a time it
was called Market Street, because it was the first street in town that had a
market. But Church Street, before it had any churches, was also called Market
East Main Street was once known as Elbow Street - and for good reason. The shape
of the thing.
Hadden mentions dozens of Beesons in his book, but there are still only a few
locations around Uniontown that bear the Beeson name. In fact, Beeson Boulevard
had a number of other names before it was finally named after the cityís
founders. It was once known as Middle Alley, then Bank Alley, then alternately
Redstone Street and Dog Alley, and then finally on September 11th, 1890 it was
named Beeson Avenue in honor of Henry Beeson.
There were other nods given to the Beesons, in more subtle ways. Berkley Street
was once called Friend Street, because it was meant to pay tribute to the Quaker
backgrounds of the Beesons. It was later changed to Berkley Street, because that
also honored the Beesons. Thatís the area of Virginia from which they came.
Peter Street was one of the earlier streets in the town, and was named after a
ďfriendly IndianĒ Ė known by whites as Indian Peter. Indian Peter lived along
the banks of Redstone Creek, and so he was also referred to as Peter Redstone.
The street adjacent to Uniontown High School is Wilson Avenue. It used to be
Willson Avenue, probably owing to the fact that a Judge A. E. Willson lived
nearby. I donít know when the second L was removed!
Throughout the 1800ís, there were a lot of additions to the city of Uniontown.
That meant there were a lot of people who were laying out new streets. Can you
picture the areas surrounding present day downtown Uniontown, covered with
foliage of all kinds, with no roads, or no sewage and drainage? Iím sure when
Hadden made frequent use of the words ďlaid outĒ in his book he was telling his
readers that the developers were busily making something out of what must have
been hardly anything. And many of those people have their last names on street
signs all over Uniontown today.
Charles Street was apparently named for Charles H. Beeson, who owned property
there. Collins Avenue was named after Colonel John Collins who laid it out in
Derrick Avenue was laid out by Joseph Derrick in the 1890ís.
Feathers Avenue was laid out by James I. Feather and Henry Jennings in the
It was noted in 1893 that James Lenox laid out Lenox Avenue.
Noble McCormick was quite a busy fellow. He laid out Oakland Avenue, Arch,
Downer, Chestnut, Wall, Arch and Wine streets as part of the McCormick Addition
to Uniontown in 1893. Then he added McCormick and Ewing Addition which comprised
Searight, Liberty, Fairview, Mountain and Park streets, all on the east side of
Coolspring street. Of course thereís a McCormick Avenue, but Iím not sure he had
anything to do with it.
In 1882, Adam C. Nutt had his mansion at the head of Nutt Avenue.
Searight Addition was prepared east of Coolspring Street in 1892, by James A.
Searight (Searight Avenueís namesake) and that included nearby Butler, Carlisle
and Dunlap streets.
Iíve found dozens of other fascinating examples of how things got to be what
they are. Too many examples for one article.
Iíll have to return with more later!