About This Place
Monaca ( /mɨnækə/ mi-nak-ə) is a borough in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States along the Ohio River, 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Pittsburgh. Monaca was first incorporated as Phillipsburg in 1840, and had been known by that name since the 1820s. In 1892, the name of the borough was changed to Monaca in honor of the Native American Indian Monacatootha. Monacatootha (which means "Great Arrow"), also known as Scarouady, was an Oneida warrior chief, and was a representative of the Iroquois Confederacy with the authority to supervise affairs among the Delawares and Shawnees in that area. He met with George Washington in Logstown in 1753. He was a strong friend of the English and campaigned against the French. Monaca Borough took its name from a Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad station at the east end of town. Fire clay is found in large quantities in the vicinity. In 1900, the population was 2,008; in 1910, 3,376; and in 1940, 7,061 people were residents. The population was 6,286 at the 2000 census.
The Borough of Monaca has a history dating back to the 18th century. A grant of land on which Monaca now stands was granted by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by patent, bearing the date September 5, 1787, to Colonel Ephraim Blaine (1741–1804), who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, from 1778 to 1782 as commissary-general of the Northern Department, and paternal great-grandfather of James G. Blaine. In the patent, this tract was called "Appetite." On August 1, 1813, the land was bought by Francis Helvidi (or Helveti, Helvedi, Helvety), described as a Polish nobleman who was exiled from his native country and immigrated to America. Helvidi, who may have been the first white settler in Monaca, bought the large "Appetite" tract and raised sheep on it, but his venture was unsuccessful. Harmony Society leader George Rapp, one of Helveti's creditors, complained in 1815 "about the risk Helvety is taking with the sheep," and in 1821, the property was sold at Sheriff's sale to Rapp.
In 1822, the beginnings of a town began when Stephen Phillips and John Graham purchased the property and established their "extensive boat yards" there. It was first named for Phillips, and was long known as Phillipsburg. Phillips and Graham built numerous steamboats, including the "William Penn," which carried the Harmonites from their second settlement in New Harmony, Indiana, to Beaver County and their third and final home at Economy. In 1832, Phillips and Graham sold the entire tract of land to seceders from the Harmony Society at Economy, and moved their boat yards to what is now Freedom. The seceders from the Harmony Society were led by Bernhard Müller, known as Count de Leon. The group consisted of German immigrants who formed a communal religious society. In 1832, after leaving Economy, with about 250 former Harmony Society members, Bernhard Müller and his followers started a new community in Phillipsburg (now Monaca) with the money they obtained in the settlement with the Harmony Society. Here they established the New Philadelphian Congregation (New Philadelphia Society), constructing a church, a hotel, and other buildings. They soon renamed this community Löwenburg (Lion City). Perhaps because of ongoing litigation, and other financial problems, Müller's group decided to sell their communal land in Pennsylvania in 1833. Some community members stayed in Monaca, while others followed Müller and his family down the Ohio River on a flatboat. A number of the ones who followed Müller and his family eventually ended up at the Germantown Colony near Minden, Louisiana. Many stayed in Monaca, however, and not long after Müller and his followers left, a new religious speaker named William Keil showed up in the area in the early 1840s. Keil was able to attract some followers who were former Harmony Society/New Philadelphia Society members, and his group eventually ended up moving away and settling the communal town of Bethel, Missouri in 1844, and later settled the town of Aurora, Oregon in 1856. Nevertheless, a number of former Harmony Society/New Philadelphia Society members stayed in Monaca, and perhaps some of their descendants live in the area to this day. In 1840, the area was incorporated as the "Borough of Phillipsburg" from the Moon Township site. The first burgess was Frederick Charles Speyerer, and the first council Edward Acker, Jacob Schaffer, Henry Jung, George Forstner, and Adam Schule.