History of Shaler

Traders began settling in the Shaler area in the mid 1700's with the first settlements in Big Pine Creek Valley and Girty's Run Valley, where Europeans traded furs and skins with Native Americans from throughout the Ohio Valley. 

The village of Glenshaw, at the center of current Shaler Township, was established in the early 1800's after John Shaw, Sr. bought several hundred acres of land and built a log sawmill.  The area became known as "Shaw's Glen," later Glenshaw.

Shaler was comprised of many small communities, including familiar names such as Cherry City, Bauerstown, Cabbage Hill, Sharps Hill, Undercliff, Elfinwild and Glenshaw.

The township was officially formed in March 1847 from all of present-day Shaler plus the boroughs of Millvale and Etna and parts of Ross Township.

Although it was almost named Marion Township, it took the namesake of Judge Charles Shaler, a prominent mid-19th century Pittsburgh-area judge who served as President Judge of the 5th District Court in Beaver County.  

Shaler Township lost part of its territory in 1868 when Etna and Millvale incorporated into boroughs. Shaler continued as a second class township until a petition was presented to the courts seeking first class status, and in 1900 Shaler was incorporated as a first class township.

The township was initially divided into four wards, or electoral districts.  Five commissioners were elected, one from each district and a fifth at large. As time went on the wards were subdivided further and now there are seven commissioners representing seven wards.

In 1951, the commissioners voted to employ a township manager J. Wynn Thompson was the first to serve in this position.

"A History of Shaler Township" by Malcom C. Smith

The following excerpts are taken from the book "A History of Shaler Township" by Malcom C. Smith, Copyright 1953.

Shaler Township originally stretched over the present Borough of Millvale and a part of Ross Township, Etna Borough and the present Shaler Township and adjoining lands.

Shaler Township lost part of its territory in 1868 when Etna Borough was incorporated. That same year, Shaler was further reduced by the incorporation of Millvale Borough. Shaler continued as a second class township until a petition was presented to the courts seeking first class status. In 1900 Shaler was incorporated as a first class township. Shaler's boundaries embraced 6,977 acres or 10.9 square miles.

Early history of Shaler Township reveals that the earliest settlement of the area occurred in two separate sections, Big Pine Creek Valley and Girty Run Valley, both providing colorful stories of rugged adventures. Shaler Township was first composed of small hamlets or communities. On one side of Stewartstown, not Etna, was Sharps Hill; on the other Cabbage Hill. Between Cabbage Hill and the present Millvale Borough was Cherry City. Going out Big Pine Creek, the traveler first encountered Turkeyville, the Cut or Lower Undercliff, then Wittmer in the vicinity of the Glenshaw Glass Company, then Glenshaw or Shaw Mills. Across from the creek was the meadow and along Spencer Lane as Huckleberry Flat followed by Lower Elfinwild. The first community along Butler Plank Road was Reeseville, then Undercliff, Upper Glenshaw and Elfinwild. Moving along Girty's Run, one would come to Bauerstown and the Pfeifer Hill.

The Township was first divided into four wards of one election district each. Five Commissioners were elected, one from each of the four districts and the fifth as a commissioner at large. Periodically, the wards were further subdivided and at present seven commissioners are now elected to handle the Township business. In 1951, the commissioners voted to employ a township manager, J. Wynn Thompson, having been the first to serve.

A copy of Mr. Smith's publication is available at the Shaler North Hills Library.