John Neville (July 26, 1731 – July 29, 1803)
John Neville is arguably the most famous occupant of the site. He was born in Occuquan, VA which is about 8 miles from Mount Vernon and 15 miles from Fredericksburg, VA, where Neville’s parents owned an Ordinary (a tavern for people traveling to market).
Neville bought land in Winchester, VA from 1750 – 1770. He sold these properties in 1772 and bought his property in the Pittsburgh area. He was sent to Pittsburgh as the commander of VA troops stationing at Ft. Dunmore in 1774 (later renamed Fort Pitt).
Dating of the roof logs of the main house sets their cutting in 1774 suggesting that the construction of Woodville began while Neville was at Fort Pitt.
In 1782 Presley Neville, John’s son, moved to Woodville. John Neville was decommissioned from the army on January 1, 1783. Although he built Woodville, it is most likely that John Neville did not live there. Bower Hill was likely built at the same time as Woodville. John would have lived at Bower Hill while Presley would have lived at Woodville. The sites, though separate houses, should be viewed as one very large farm.
John Neville was one of the largest land owners in Western Pennsylvania, at one point owning 10,000 contiguous acres in the Chartiers Valley. Holdings included Bower Hill, Woodville, Farm Hill, Parnassus, Steeles Discovery, the Avenue, Siege Field, and Heidelberg. (boundaries from Mt. Lebanon to Carnegie, to Rennerdale, to Bridgeville).