Casper Reel was born in Frankfurt, Germany on May 11, 1742.

 

Around 1761, he and his family immigrated to America. His father allegedly died on the voyage from Germany. The rest of his family originally settled near Baltimore, Maryland and they eventually wound up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. After moving to Lancaster, his mother, brother, and sister were killed by Indians.

 

By 1773-1774, he had moved to Fort Pitt. In Pittsburgh, he became a trader, storekeeper, and also made breeches. When the Revolutionary War broke out, he enlisted in the Continental Army, serving under George Washington and fighting at the Battle of Brandywine.

Casper Reel (1742-1824)

After having been gone for 10 years, he returned to Lancaster and married Elizabeth Wise on March 2, 1784. He returned to Pittsburgh with his wife and their first child and bought two lots of land on Fifth Street between Smithfield and Wood. The couple had five children between 1784 and 1794: Mary born in 1785, Jacob born in 1787, John born in 1789, Daniel born in 1791, and Conrad born in 1793.

 

In 1792, Reel obtained 727 acres of land north of the Allegheny due to his service in the army. Traveling up the Venango Trail, he arrived in present-day West View and built a small log cabin near a creek between Cornell Avenue and West View Park. Indian attacks forced him to temporarily abandon his cabin that same year.

 

He would not return until 1794, after the Indians were defeated at the Battle of Fallen Timbers. Upon returning to his land, he built a new log cabin for his family, which was completed by the spring of 1795. This log cabin still stands today at 148 Georgetown Avenue.

 

On January 22, 1798, Casper and Elizabeth welcomed twins, David and Casper, Jr. They were the first white children born north of the Allegheny. Casper and Elizabeth went on to have ten children total: Mary, Jacob, John, Daniel, Conrad, David, Casper Jr., William, William’s twin sister who died in infancy, and Elizabeth.

 

Casper Reel became the first Collector of Internal Revenue in the area from the Allegheny River to Lake Erie. He was considerably wealthy and was one of the largest landowners in the area.

 

He died on October 10, 1824 and is buried in the Reel family cemetery. Also buried there are his wife, several other family members, and a servant. One of his sons who is buried there, John, was killed at the Maumee River on April 6, 1813, at the age of 23. Casper Reel, Sr. traveled to Ohio to retrieve his body.

 

His granddaughter, Almatia Reel, ended up selling the Reel Farm to the Highland Country Club in 1919. Reel Hall, the house that stood on the property, was incorporated into the country club’s clubhouse. In addition, the country club preserved and maintained the family burial site.

 

Today, Reel is considered the first settler north of the Allegheny. The burial site is now located within the Highland Estates, off of Oakmont Avenue under a tree.

a depiction of what Casper Reel may have looked like

Reel's log cabin at 148 Georgetown Avenue, as it looks today