Founders’ Day proclaimed for the City of Warren

The Warren City Council has proclaimed April 18 as Warren’s Founders’ Day thanks to the interest and request of a third grade social studies class at St. Joseph’s School.

On this date in 1795, Pennsylvania State Governor Mifflin, by an act of legislature, was authorized to appoint two commissioners to survey and lay out towns at Presque Isle, at the mouth of French Creek, at the mouth of Conewango Creek and at Fort Le Boeuf. These towns became known as Erie, Franklin, Warren and Waterford, respectively.

In late September of 1795 General William Irvine and Surveyor Andrew Ellicott, along with a company of seventeen soldiers and other surveyors, arrived in what would soon become Warren to lay out the streets, inlots and outlots. According to surveyor George Burgess who kept a diary of the eventful trip, the town “takes its name from General Warren who was kill’d in the battle of Bunkers Hill whose statue is to be plac’d in the centre of the town.” Three hundred acres in the bottom lands of the Allegheny River and Conewango Creek were set aside for town lots and 700 acres for outlots. Town lots were to be no more than one third of an acre and outlots could be no more than five acres. Lots were offered for sale in August 1796 in Carlisle, PA at the cost of $2.50 to $6 per lot.

It was the request of General Irvine that the town at the confluence of the Conewango and Allegheny be called Warren in honor of General Joseph Warren, a surgeon and Revolutionary General who was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, a full twenty years before the town of Warren was laid out.

Both General Irvine and Andrew Ellicott had been in the area before. William Irvine, born in 1741, was originally from Ireland where he joined the army, quit to study medicine and returned to service as a surgeon on a British warship during the War with France. He settled in Carlisle, PA, to practice medicine until the Revolutionary War when he commanded the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment. In 1779 he was promoted to brigadier general of the Continental Army and was sent to Fort Pitt for the duration of the war. In 1785 he was sent back to western Pennsylvania to locate donation lands, lands which would be given to revolutionary war soldiers as payment for their service. It was at this time that he first visited what would one day be Warren County. General Irvine received his own Donation Land in the county. His descendants would become well known, founding the village of Irvine and the Irvine Estate.

Andrew Ellicott, a Quaker, was born in 1754. Regardless of his background which did not approve involvement in war, he commanded a battalion of militia in the Revolution. He was employed as a surveyor, first to fix the border between Virginia and Pennsylvania and later to survey the islands in the Allegheny and Ohio rivers which put him in the area prior to surveying Warren. Ellicott also surveyed the border between New York and Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and in 1790 he surveyed the City of Washington D.C. President Thomas Jefferson named him surveyor general of the United States in 1801.

The Warren County Historical Society, in conjunction with the City of Warren will commemorate Founders’ Day with displays of artifacts relating to the early days of Warren, including antique land surveying equipment, maps of the late 1700s and early 1800s, copies of journals kept by Andrew Ellicott and George Burgess as well as the journal of Celoron de Blainville who, in 1749, claimed the area for the French. There will be several portraits of General Warren, an image of General Irvine and more!

The display will be on view April 8 through May 10 at the Warren County Historical Society, 210 Fourth Ave., Warren.