Jacob Steel

108 Years Old.

A man who has survived all the court houses in his county, Jacob Steel of Nicholson township, Fayette Co, Pa. Was born the same year the county was organized 1783, and died Aug. 25, 1891.

On the fourth day of June 1891 the corner stone of Fayette county court house the fourth one for the county, was laid. Among the interesting documents and valuable archives placed in the corner stone souvenir box are none more interesting than the story which records the life of him whose career is here sketched.

A simple narrative of uneventful facts, the life of Jacob Steel the Nicholson township centenarian, is in itself without incident save in the seeming eternal evenness of its existence, and in that alone does it read like a romance. In the stirring scenes through which he has lived, though of which he bore little part, the span of his life is equalled by that of no other living man in Pennsylvania, if in the country. Certain it is, that from the advent of the white man in the region now known as Fayette county up to this date, no other person has ever been born whose age could be compared to that of Mr. Steel. He is as old as the county itself. Fayette was organized out of part of Westmoreland Sept. 26, 1783. About three weeks afterwards, on Oct. 19, 1783, Jacob Steel was born. In March of the following year a lot was purchased and a small building erected which served for holding court at Uniontown until 1797, when a new court house was completed. And yet when this second court house was built, in the first year of John Adams' administration, Jacob Steel was 14 years old, and when the third or late court house was completed in 1847 he was 64 years old. And now 44 years later, when the corner stone of the fourth and grandest of all of Fayette's temples of justice was being laid, Mr. Steel was still here, the sole survivor comes down through the passing of the generations and the wrecks of more than a century.

Only by comparison with a few well known historical events can the remarkable sweep of this man's life be appreciated. On the day of Washington's second election in 1792, Steel can remember that he was gathering hickory nuts. When Thomas Jefferson resigned from Washington's cabinet in 1793, to lead the new Democratic party against the forces of Federalism under Hamilton, Jacob was a boy of ten years, and follower of the great founder of Democracy, for whom he cast his vote for president in 1804. He lived only a few miles from the place which Albert Gallatin bought in 1786 and made his beautiful home of Friendship Hill on the Monongahela river by the village which he named New Geneva. He was 11 years old when Gallatin was elected to congress in 1794, and was past the middle of life (42) when Gen. Lafayette visited Mr. Gallatin's Friendship Hill home in 1825.

It is therefore proper that this extraordinary personage should have a place in the records that go into the corner stone of the most enduring and imposing structure ever yet erected in the county. — Standard.


Published in the Astoria Argus on 9/24/1891

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