Original Surveys and Land Grant Maps
South Hills - 1787

Early Settlers Who Made Up The Brookline Area

The land that comprises the State of Pennsylvania was once owned by the William Penn estate. The region was initially inhabited primarily by natives of the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy.

Although granted to William Penn by the the King of England, Penn prided himself that all of his land holdings was either purchased from, or obtained by treaty with, the native Americans.

In 1769, John Penn ordered the first official survey of a 5000 acre tract of land around Fort Pitt. This included the Golden Triangle, the North Side, Mount Washington and a portion of the South Hills along Saw Mill Run Creek. These 5000 acres, known as Penn's Manor, would one day become the heart of the City of Pittsburgh.

Original Survey of Pittsburgh and Mount Washington - 1769.    Present-day Pittsburgh - 2013.
The original colonial survey of the land south of Coal Hill (left), made in 1769. This map traces the path of
Saw Mill Run creek from the Monongahela River to a point near present-day Whited Street.
A current map is shown for perspective. Click on the maps for larger versions.

Title to the majority of the Penn holdings was vested in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1779. After the American Revolution, the legislature made much of this land available to the soldiers of the Pennsylvania Militia in lieu of payment in gold and silver.

These land grants varied in size, determined by rank and length of service. Warrants were to be submitted in Philadelphia within two years of the end of the war.

Detailed Survey Maps Of The South Hills

By 1787 several warrants for the land in Allegheny County, including the terrain to the south of Coal Hill (Mount Washington) had been received. The majority of the claims were surveyed within the next couple years.

Other claims followed, as late as the 1840s. The official survey maps show the name of the individual who received the grant, the date the land was warranted and surveyed, property dimensions, patent information, and often the name the property was given by the title owner.

Warrantee Atlas - 1914.    Warrantee Atlas - 1914.
Maps from a 1914 Warrantee Atlas showing the original land claims in the South Hills area, including Brookline.
Click on the maps to enlarge and compare with the present-day maps below, which show the terrain covered.

At the time these two survey maps were produced Brookline was comprised of parts of both Scott Township (gold shade) and Lower St. Clair Township (purple shade). To the north was Mount Washington and the City of Pittsburgh. The maps show the terrain that would one day make up Brookline, Overbrook, Dormont, Mount Lebanon and Castle Shannon.

The green section on the righthand map shows the boundary with Carrick Boro, which runs along Saw Mill Run from Edgebrook Avenue south to a point slightly past Whited Street.

The maps cover most of Brookline, with the exception of the northernmost section of the community, above the boundary of Penn's Manor. This later became the 300 acres of land once owned by the Paul family, which today comprises Moore Park and the lower end of Pioneer Avenue to the north of LaMarido Street.

Brookline and the South Hills.    Brookline and the South Hills.
The map on the left shows current Brookline territory covered by the two warrantee maps; The map on the right shows
the current road network overlayed on a combination of the two warrantee maps merged by Dr. Michael Brendel.
All Brookline streets to the north of those shown on the maps are on land owned by Elizabeth Paul.

How Did Elizabeth Paul Come About A 300 Acre Land Grant?

For a long time it was a mystery how Elizabeth Paul gained control of her 300 acre land grant. It wasn't until 2017 that the mystery was solved. While researching Brookline cemeteries, MaryAnne Voith came across some interesting information that shed light on the Paul mystery.

After the War of Independence, Colonel Samuel Lincoln Boggs was awarded a very sizeable land grant of over 1000 acres that stretched across the current boundaries of Brookline, Bon Air, Beechview, Beltzhoover and Mount Washington. The Colonel settled in the area in 1787 and married. He had two sons, David and William, both of whom also made homes nearby and became soldiers in the Army.

1886 Brookline Map.
1886 Hopkins Map showing the 296 acres of land owned by Elizabeth Paul.
The Boggs family also still shows sizable land parcels at this time.

While Colonel Boggs' son William remained a bacheler after his military service and operated a Grist Mill near present-day Pioneer and West Liberty Avenue.

The Colonel's other son David married and had two sons of his own, also named William and David. Elizabeth Holmes married David's son William Boggs, who was now the owner and operator of his Uncle's Grist Mill. As a wedding gift William was awarded 296 acres of land by his grandfather.

When William passed away ownership of the land transfered to his widow Elizabeth. Later, Elizabeth married John Paul and took on his last name. When John Paul passed, the large swath of land was listed on future maps as belonging to Elizabeth Paul.

Boundaries of Original Brookline Land Grants
(click on image for a larger map)

Map showing baudaries of original grants.

Copies Of The Original Land Grant Deeds
Click on image for a larger version

Joseph McDermutt deed.    Joseph McDowell deed.
The original deeds for the Joseph McDermutt (left) and the Joseph McDowell properties.

David Kennedy deed.    John McKee deed.
The original deeds for the David Kennedy (left) and the John McKee properties.

The principal title owners of local real estate shown on the 1787 warrants, and the names given to their claims, were Joseph McDowell (Milltown), Joseph McDermutt (The Hermits Cell), Daniel Shaughan (Aurora), Robert Shawhen (Shawhen's Square), David Kennedy (Kennedon), William Martin (Jerusalem), Elim Thomas (Gameliel) and John McKee (Newport).

Other claimants in the years that followed were Nathaniel Plumer, William Allen, John Hughey and Eli Neeld. Much of the Brookline area was known as Milltown, Kennedon, Shawhen's Square and the Hermits Cell.

Nathaniel Plumer was a former frontiersman whose land straddled the Brookline/Dormont border. Plumer was elected as one of the original three St. Clair Township Commissioners. Until recently a stream that originated on Plumer's property flowed along the West Liberty Avenue corridor to Saw Mill Run. The stream was officially names Plumer's Run, as was West Liberty Avenue when it was originally laid out in the 1830s.

Castle Shanahan

Interestingly, to the south of present-day Brookline is the 1786 claim of David Strawbridge. His warrant is for 395 acres along Saw Mill Run Creek. This parcel of land was given the name "Castle Shanahan." The Strawbridge claim represents much of the present-day boundaries of Castle Shannon Borough.

David Strawbridge Deed.
The deed for the David Strawbridge claim "Castle Shanahan."

Strawbridge's farm was located along the land that currently borders Poplar Avenue through to Castle Shannon Boulevard and up to Shady Run. He died in 1792. The patent passed to his daughter Jean. The land was parceled off over the years to members of the Strawbridge clan.

Survey maps obtained from the 1914 Warrantee Atlas of Allegheny County.
Thanks to Mike and Doug Brendel for their help with the maps.

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