First White Settlers

The first white man to settle in this region was William Stewart, one of George Washington's scouts, who established residence on the New Haven side of the Youghiogheny in 1753.

History does not record Stewart as remaining here long, but it was long enough to give the place a name. It became known as Stewart's Crossing and the spot, just north of the new bridge over the river, is yet recognized by that name.

The first permanent white inhabitant was Colonel William Crawford, a personal friend and land-partner of George Washington. He was the father of two girls, Effie and Ann. The former married William McCormick, who came here from Winchester, VA., in 1770. He was the first white settler in Connellsville.

Zachariah Connell came here a few years later. For a time he lived with the Crawfords on the New Haven side but in 1778 moved over to the Connellsville side, taking up a tract embracing the old borough limits and designated in the survey as "Mud Island." His first cabin stood a short distance from the riverbanks but he later built a stone house in West Fairview Avenue and resided there until his death in August 13, 1813. His body is buried just east of the city limits, surro




Between 1788 and 1850 the English sent over 162,000 convicts to Australia in 806 ships. The first eleven of these ships are today known as the First Fleet and contained the convicts and marines that are now acknowledged as the Founders of Australia. This is their story.

Before 1788, Australia was populated by about 300,000 aborigines. These nomadic people had inhabited the world's oldest continent for more than 10,000 years. They had seen very few Europeans, but two events were to play an important part in changing their way of life forever.

Captain James Cook discovered the east coast of New Holland in 1770 and named it New South Wales. He sailed the whole of the coast and reported to the British government that he thought it would make a good place for a settlement. Britain did not recognise the country as being inhabited as the natives did not cultivate the land, and were, therefore, "uncivilized".

The agrarian revolution in Britain, and the population explosion in the cities, resulted in an increase in crime. As the American Revolution meant that no more convicts could be sent there, the only way to overcome the overcrowding in the jails was to establish a penal colony in the land discovered by Captain James Cook. The convicts would be transported, never to return to Britain.

With this in mind, the British Government hired 9 ships and set about provisioning them, together with 2 Naval vessels, with enough supplies to keep the 759 convicts, their Marine guards, some with families, and a few civil officers, until they became self-sufficient.

The convicts and marines embarked on the ships, which arrived at Portsmouth on 16th March 1787. They then waited on board until the arrival of Captain Arthur Philip signaled the time for their departure. By the time they departed, some convicts had been aboard these ships for seven months. Very few convicts (23) died during the voyage compared to the later convict fleets.

The First Fleet left England on 13th May 1787 for the 'lands beyond the seas' - Australia, stopping at Tenerife, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town, where food supplies were replenished. The fleet arrived at Botany Bay between 18th and 20th January 1788. However, this area was deemed to be unsuitable for settlement so they moved north arriving at Port Jackson on the Australian East coast on 26 January 1788 after deciding that Botany Bay was not suited for a Settlement due its lack of fresh water - even though it had been recomended by Captain James Cook in 1770 as a possible location for a settlement. Botany Bay had other shortcomings as well, it was open to the sea, making it unsafe for the ships and Captain Arthur Phillip (the Colony's first Governor) considered the soil around Botany Bay was poor for crop growing.

From the start the settlement was beset with problems. Very few convicts knew how to farm and the