Brief History of Ligonier, PA
there were just occasional Indians who tarried briefly from time to
time to camp and hunt and fish, and then pass on. It was not until
Colonial days, probably about 1727, that the first Indian settlement
was made in the Valley, near the confluence of Mill Creek and Loyalhanna
Creek. The village was still relatively new when the first traders
came in 1732.
In the next quarter-century the great struggle for mid-America developed
between the English and the French. The showdown came in what is now
known as the French and Indian War. In 1758, after several fruitless
attempts to drive the French out, the English mounted a full-scale
campaign. Gen. John Forbes commanded the expedition which drove through
the woods and mountains of Pennsylvania, setting up a series of forts
to strengthen his hand for the final blow: the attack on Fort Duquesne
at the juncture of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers. One of the
forts was named for the commander-in-chief of the British Army, Field
Marshal Lord John Ligonier.
Alarmed at the approach of the British, the French and their Indian
allies decided that the best defense was a good offense. On October
12, 1758, they attacked Fort Ligonier -- approaching from the southwest.
There were about 1,200 French soldiers and only a few hundred Indians.
(Many of the Indians had returned home to prepare for the approaching
The French and Indians who attacked Fort Ligonier were under the command
of DeVitri. They began firing at 11:00 A.M. and the battle lasted
until 3:00 P.M. After a spirited encounter, the French and Indians
were beaten off with a heavy loss and they fled back to Duquesne.
The British troops, under Gen. Forbes and Col. Washington, pressed
on after the Ligonier victory; when they arrived at Duquesne, they
found the fort afire. The French, after the Ligonier incident, realized
they were beaten - so they retired northward. Thus, with good cause,
Ligonier is called "the Key to the West in 1758." The victory
at Ligonier was the turning point for the British. They established
their own fort, named it for Prime Minister William Pitt, thus gave
birth to the city of Pittsburgh, and made mid-America English instead
Fort Ligonier functioned for a few more years. Arrangements were made
with Gen. Arthur St. Clair, of the British Army, to serve as caretaker
of the facility since he lived only a short distance away. It was
from this base that St. Clair launched a 35-year career of glory,
sacrifice and heartbreak which was to encompass the founding of Westmoreland
County, a generalship in Washington's Revolutionary Army, a presidency
of the Continental Congress and governorship of the Northwest Territory.
Increasing ferocious Indian attacks during the Revolution led to the
construction of a second fort in 1777, sometimes known as Fort Preservation.
It was located somewhat east of the original fort and served as a
refuge for the settlers. By the end of the Revolution, it had outlived
its usefulness and was allowed to fall into disrepair. A few years
later it disappeared altogether.
There were only a few families in the Valley when John Ramsey laid
out a town in 1817, taking advantage of the new Philadelphia - Pittsburgh
Turnpike. Stage coaches stopped and hitched their horses at hitching
posts around what is now known as "the Diamond." Passengers
obtained food and supplies in local stores. Local farmers came to
trade their produce for supplies and to hear the latest bits of news.
Ramsey's basic plan covered only four blocks around the public square,
the Diamond. The town grew slowly and became an incorporated
borough in 1834, and eventually thrived as the crossroads of the Valley
and the shopping center for the farmers of the area.
Ligonier has been a source of constant attraction for many years.
The Diamond offers a quiet respite or interesting shopping
in our quaint shops. Natural beauty and clean air make for a healthy
atmosphere in which to live, work and play.
(Those who want to study our history in greater detail will enjoy
Ligonier, 200 South Market St.; Compass
Inn, Laughlintown; and Jacob
Kinsey Museum in Waterford, Route 271 N.)
North over the beautiful town of Ligonier
Ligonier, Pennsylvania, located at the intersection of Routes 30 &
711 in Westmoreland County, is separated from the outside world by
two massive, but not spectacular mountains. Laurel Mountain to the
east and Chestnut Ridge to the west make Ligonier Valley a clearly
defined entity; the two mountains permit very few roadways so that
the Valley, in effect, is protected by two great walls, ten miles
apart and about twenty-five long.
Historic Ligonier Valley is the home of Fort Ligonier, Linn Run State
Park, Story Book Forest, Idlewild Park and Compass Inn.
Quaint shops create a turn-of-the-century atmosphere around the
Diamond which features a charming Bandstand that has come to
Ligonier Valley has been a source of constant attraction for many
years. There is much to see and do in our midst or we offer a tranquil
respite from the fast-paced tempo of living today.
The brief information herein has been found in various editions of
"Ligonier - The Town and the Valley."