|How Monroeville Got its Name|
|Written by Administrator|
|Thursday, 10 May 2007|
How Monroeville got its Name
In the first half of the 1800s, the area now known as Monroeville was a small hamlet nestled among farms and forest. Originally, the western portion of Westmoreland County, it became part of Plum Township when Allegheny County was established in 1780.
When the Northern Turnpike, built as stagecoach line between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, came through the area in the early 1800s it provided a focus for social and commercial activity. A small village would develop along this road for about a half a mile, extending east to west from an area near the Old Stone Church to the tollgate at the present Pennsylvania Turnpike.
Such was the developing scene when, around 1820, a farmer from Virginia named Joel Monroe purchased a 125-acre farm and moved here with his young family. The family were distant cousins of president James Monroe. The Monroe farm extended from the Old Stone Church to the present municipal building , and southward to the entrance to Garden City. It was Joel Monroe who, by selling off small lots along the Turnpike, encouraged development in the core of the emerging community. His was perhaps the first subdivisions in the area.
As time went on, a movement began to split Plum Township into two separate (north and south) entities. By the mid 1800s, the division was made official, with the southern portion being named “Patton Township”in 1849.
By 1850 the hamlet had developed into a small village, but its mail still had to be picked up in Turtle Creek. Recognizing the growth of the area, Monroe and his neighbors petitioned the federal government for their own post office. Their petition was granted, and on January 23, 1851, Joel Monroe became the first postmaster, with the office in his home along what is currently William Penn Highway (Route 22).
As was the custom was at the time, a name with local meaning was to be selected for the post office. In this case, the name of the local postmaster was chosen and a suffix added to designate a town. Thus the area, in what was then Patton Township, became known as Monroeville.
Within three years Joel Monroe had sold his farm to his son-in-law, quit his job as postmaster, and moved to a new farm near New Castle, Pa., where he died in the late 1870s.
The Monroe family were not the most prominent in the area, nor did they live in the area for all that many years. But Joel Monroe left a lasting imprint of the area through his name, the development of a central core, and his efforts in getting postal office recognition for Monroeville.
Source: Edited by Louis Chandler and Marilyn Wempa from Remarks by Paul Damon, Past President, Monroeville Historical Society, June 7, 1987.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 May 2007 )|