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Washington County "Little Washington" Pennsylvania
Genealogy and Family History 



A History of McDonald PA written in 1917
Submitted by Victoria Hospodar Valentine


High School Report Dec. 14, 1917 McDonald PA Record 

Early History of McDonald

(Paper prepared by Hazel May PETTIT, a senior in the McDonald High school, and read at the open literary in Orpheum hall on Friday evening, December 7, 1917)

Years ago McDonald was a lucrative farming land. Then later, rich beds of coal were discovered to be lying beneath the surface. This news invited many French and Belgian people. While the men worked in the mines, the women built the houses. This may seem strange, but it showed the eagerness which the people had toward this new industry. These houses were very different from the modern ones, and some of them may still be seen in this vicinity. Some of these houses were built with basements of brick and the upper story of wood, while others were made entirely of brick. The women moulded the bricks from clay. Then they placed them in kilns and left them there until they were thoroughly dry and ready for use. So the last quarter of the nineteenth century saw McDonald a small mining town,
populated by an industrious, thrifty class of people who were building homes, expecting to make this their permanent abode.

But this alone could never have made our town what it is. It was about twenty-five years ago that the "McDonald oil excitement" came.  This was the time when the town began to "boom", and it has been "booming" ever since. As soon as the news of the oil discovery was spread about, companies and individuals hastened to lease land and drill wells. The district immediately became covered with oil derricks. Many were built in people's back yards and some signs of them may still be seen. A number of wells in McDonald and the surrounding district still furnish employment for a great many men.

So sudden and unexpected was the new discovery, and, as a result, the immigration, that everyone could not find accommodations. Many were forced to sleep outside, while others sought shelter in boiler houses.  Some young men were obliged to build rude shanties and live bachelors' lives.

There were no paved streets and fine sidewalks then as there are now, so at that time it was not the fashion to take delightful walks "out the pike" on Sunday nights.

But it did not take long for the eager people of McDonald to build the town up. Progress was rapid. More houses were built, new and better stores were opened up, and streets and sidewalks were becoming slightly improved. Yet it was a common site in winter to see for or six horses hauling the heavy material necessary for the operation of the new industry through the muddy streets, up to the hubs in mud and water.

The new field proved to be all that it promised. So great and lasting has been the supply of oil that McDonald holds the honor of having a picture of its early fields placed in the geography. (?)

We have every reason to be proud of our town. As the population and wealth increased, the town was improved until now we have all our streets paved and well lighted; good stores, churches and schools; a good water supply, and fire protection. But, above all, McDonald holds a progressive people who are anxious to carry this work of improvement still further. So in viewing the history of McDonald, we have few regrets for the past and bright prospects and hopes for the future.



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All newspaper items posted with permission of the Observer-Reporter Oct. 13, 2005.

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