Historical Society of Upper St. Clair

As documented by Margaret Gilfillan, first written in 1965
Upper St. Clair Township was originally Yohogania County, District of West Augusta, Virginia. It also claimed by the Penns as part of Pennsylvania. Many excellent accounts have been given elsewhere of the long and bitter dispute, Lord Dunsmore's War, which, when settled in 1784, placed us in Peters Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.

In 1788, Allegheny County was formed from parts of Washington and Westmoreland Counties and was divided into 7 townships, of which St. Clair, named for General Arthur St. Clair, was one. The boundaries where Monongahela River on the North, streets run on the East, Washington County on the South and Chartiers Creek on the West.
In 1839, the township was divided into two parts called Upper St. Clair and Lower St. Clair. The latter has been within the city limits for many years. Snowden Township2 was formed in 1845 and Scott in 1861. Bridgeville seperated from Upper St. Clair in 1902.

[According to the "History of Allegheny County" by Thomas Cushing, it is possible that the division of the township into Upper and Lower St. Clair may have taken place earlier in the 1800's.]

Either way, over time Lower St. Clair was further divided into new communities. "This included the present townships of Scott, Mount Lebanon, and Snowden; the boroughs of Baldwin, Bethel, Bridgeville, Castle Shannon, Crafton, Dormont, Greentree, Ingram, and part of Carnegie. It also included 9 wards of the city of Pittsburgh. The first voting place was about where South end of the Smithfield Street Bridge is now." (Margaret Gilfillan)

1850 Map of Allegheny County


1851 Map of Allegheny County


1862 Township Map of Upper St. Clair

To review the evolution of the counties and townships of Pennsylvania, but specifically Upper St. Clair, use the link to the right. Maps for Allegheny County range from 1817 to 1914.
Names that are still seen and heard of around Upper St. Clair today- Couch, McLaughlin, Fife, and Gilfillan- date back to the original land patent map of Upper St. Clair Township in Allegheny County. Land patents serve as original evidence of land ownership in the United States. All real property ownership can be traced back to a land patent.

Securing a land patent was (and still is) a five-step process:
  1. Application- a request to purchase land in a specific jurisdiction had to be submitted to the State.
  2. Warrant- a certificate granting permission for the person seeking ownership to perform a survey of the land.
  3. Survey- a drawing that outlines the boundaries of a tract of land with exact measurements to determine total acreage.
4.  Return of Survey- a written description of the survey which identifies where property lines can be found using a specific method of measurement, and the details of the transaction including purchase amount, name of purchaser, etc.
5.  Patent- the final document that legally conveys land ownership and rights to the purchaser.
The Upper St. Clair Historical Society sought the services of Harshman CE Group to overlay the original patent map of Upper St. Clair Township on top of current satellite images of the same area. Click on the button to the right to use the interactive map or view the original land patent data. This allows users to see where today's land and/or landmarks were located in the original land patents. For example, the land that makes up St. Clair Country Club was once part of Alexander Gilfillan's "Cato" land patent.


Margaret Gilfillan's "Upper St. Clair As It Was"

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PO Box 12681
Upper St. Clair, PA 15241
(412) 835-2050