Traders began settling in the Shaler area in the mid-18th century. The most prominent early trader in the area was George Croghan, who came in the early 1740s. By 1754, settlement included the Pine Creek trading post, where Europeans traded fur and skins with the Mingo and other Native Americans in the Ohio Valley. The second early European settlement was Girty's Run, established by Simon Girty.
The village of Glenshaw, Pennsylvania—at the center of what became Shaler Township—was established in the early 19th century, beginning with a log sawmill built by John Shaw, Sr. after he bought 600 acres (2.4 km2) of land north of Pittsburgh in 1800. The area became known as "Shaw's Glen", and later Glenshaw. Members of the Shaw family subsequently built a log gristmill, a sickle factory, and a coal mine.