Creation of Washington County
On March 28, 1781, Washington County was created by an act of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and named in honor of General George Washington. Carved from the western section of Westmoreland County, it was formed to allow the inhabitants of the area west of the Monongahela River to have more convenient courts and public offices, rather than the inconvenience and hardship of being so far remote from the seat of justice.
The town of Basset, later renamed Washington, served as the site of the first County Courthouse, a log structure built in 1787. The present day Washington County Courthouse, completed in 1900 by the F. J. Osterling Company of Pittsburgh, is registered as a national landmark.
Fame in the County
The Whiskey Rebellion, one of the most famous events of early American history, took place in Washington County when David Bradford, noted attorney and community leader, directed area farmers to rebel against the federal excise tax on whiskey passed in 1791. Governor of Virginia, Henry “Light-Horse Harry” Lee, father of the Civil War General Robert E. Lee and hero of the Revolutionary War, smashed the rebellion when he led federal troops into Washington and Allegheny counties. Bradford’s Main Street residence, built in 1788, remains a historical site maintained by the David Bradford House Association.
The residence of Dr. Francis J. LeMoyne, a leading abolitionist and founder of the Abolition Society (1824) is preserved by the Washington County Historical Society as another historic attraction.
The National Pike (Route 40), America’s first federally built transportation system, runs through Washington County and exhibits numerous antique shops and historic points of interest, such as the Century Inn of Scenery Hill.
Other County Amenities
A few other amenities of present-day Washington County include: