A History of

Blair County, Pennsylvania

 

UNDER EDITORIAL SUPERVISION

of

TARRING S. DAVIS

 

LUCILLE SHENK, ASSOCIATE EDITOR

 

PUBLISHERS

NATIONAL HISTORIC ASSOCIATION, INC.

HARRISBURG, 1931

 

Volume One

Contents

 

I GEOLOGY, TOPOGRAPHY AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Location - Soil Formation - Mountains - Watercourses - Sherman Day's Description of the Sinking Valley - Morrison's Cove - Rock and Coal Deposits.

1-6
II INDIANS AND INDIAN TRAILS

Assunepachla - Captain Logan - Walum Olum - Delawares - Rev. David Brainerd's Description of the Shawnee - Tuscaroras - Conoys - Nanticokes - Albany Conference - Kittanning Trail - Warrior's Trail.

7-13
III WHITE SETTLERS, INDIAN WARS AND THE REVOLUTION

Frontier Conditions - Scotch - Irish - Indian Unrest - Easton Conference - Proclamations Against Settlement - German Settlers - French Influence on Indians - The Black Hunter - Colonel John Armstrong - Scotch and Canoe Valleys - Dunkard Murders - Letters from the Frontier - Forts - The Colemans - General Daniel Roberdeau - Tories of the Sinking Valley - Massacre of the Bedford Scouts.

14-36
IV BLAIR COUNTY, 1783-1846

The Frontier and the Constitution - Whiskey Insurrection - Internal Improvements - Sherman Day's Description of Blair County Towns in 1843 - Mexican War - Oswandel's "Notes on the Mexican War."

37-47
V THE ALLEGHENY PORTAGE RAILROAD

"Allegheny Portage Railroad, Its Place in the Main Line of Public Works of Pennsylvania" - "Peregrinations of Peregrin Prolix" - Charles Dickens in Blair County.

48-63
VI ORGANIZATION OF BLAIR COUNTY, 1846

Act of Legislature Forming Blair County - First Officers - Buildings - State Senators - Representatives - Other Officials - Population- Officers in 1931.

64-70
VII CIVIL WAR

Regiments and Companies - Judge A. S. Landis' Review of the Services of Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry - D. B. Rothrock's Account of Activities of Company C, Fifty-Third Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers.

71-86
VIII THE ALTOONA CONFERENCE

Differences Among Northern Governors - Governor Curtin's Plan - Description of Northern Governors - Governors as Recruiting Officers - Altoona Conference - Lack of Data - Governors Visit Lincoln - Some Unofficial Reports of the Conference - Southern Attitude Toward Conference - Results.

87-98
IX TOWNSHIPS

Township Formation - Origin of Names - Early Settlers - Towns - Industries and Occupations - Population in 1930.

99-127
X ALTOONA AND THE BOROUGHS

Altoona - Tyrone - Bellwood - Duncansville - Hollidaysburg - Martinsburg - Newry - Roaring Spring - Williamsburg - Establishment - Organization - Officers - Industrial and Civic Development.

128-144
XI EDUCATION

Early Schools - Schoolmasters - Equipment - Classroom Procedure - Changed Conditions in School Work - Edward Byers - Highland Hall.

145-165
XII THE LEGAL PROFESSION

Organization of the Court - First Admissions to the Bar - Extracts from Judge Landis' "History of the Bar" - Leaders of the Bar in 1931.

166-181
XIII THE MEDICAL PROFESSION AND MEDICAL PRACTICE

The Pioneer Doctor - Some Local Home Cures - Early Practitioners - Present Members of the Profession in the County - Medical Organizations and Hospitals.

182-198
XIV "HISTORY OF BLAIR COUNTY" AS REVIEWED BY JUDGE JOHN DEAN

Fiftieth Anniversary of the Founding of Blair County - Characteristics and Domestic Economy of Settlers - German Tunkers and Lutherans - Scotch and Scotch - Irish Presbyterians - Irish Catholics - Population of the County in 1846.

199-207
XV CHURCHES

Presbyterian - Honorable Plymouth W. Snyder's History of Presbyterians in the County - Roman Catholic Church - Prince Gallitzin - Other Denominations - Present Churches - Missions.

208-232
XVI THE PRESS

Editors and Publishers - The Slep, Over and Jones Families - Honorable Henry W. Shoemaker - Early Newspapers in Hollidaysburg - Altoona and Tyrone Newspapers - Other County Newspapers.

233-242
XVII BANKS AND BANKERS

Economic Conditions in 1931 - Hollidaysburg, Altoona, Tyrone, and Other Blair County Banks and Bankers.

243-251
XVIII THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD

Forerunners of the Railroad - Site of Altoona Chosen for Railroad Center - Shops and Yards - Labor Difficulties - Leading Officials and Trainmen of the Past and Present - Comparison of Railroad Traffic with that of the Canal.

252-261
XIX INDUSTRIES

Old Furnaces and Forges - U. J. Jones' Account of Early Industries and Finance - Extracts from "Looking Eighty Years Backward," by D. M. Bare - Quarries, Brick and Mines - Paper - Penn Central Light & Power Company - Chemicals - Other Manufactured Products.

262-278
XX ORGANIZATIONS

Charitable and Welfare Institutions - Service, Business and Professional Organizations - Art Clubs, Historical Society, Recreational Clubs, Etc. - Military Organizations - Fraternal Orders - Political, Labor and Miscellaneous Organizations.

279-291
XXI THE WORLD WAR

Spanish - American War - Preliminary Organization for the World War - Some Recruits - Draft Boards and Conscription - List of Inducted Men - Other Activities.

292-322

 

Preface

 

THE writing of history is a difficult task and very often is criticised by its readers as only tradition or a compilation from other histories. The writer of this volume has collected the material from all known sources and woven them into a delightful local history, that will have an appeal to Blair County readers. In this book an effort has been made to lead the reader to a better understanding of our county history. Hence special emphasis has been laid upon the various incidents in the life of the people who lived, loved and labored in Blair County and have passed on to the future land of promise, leaving to us, their posterity, a rich heritage of words and deeds.

 

The pioneers who first came to this county were mostly Scotch-Irish, with a sprinkling of English, French, German and Welsh. They came armed with that trinity of the backwoodsmen, the rifle, the axe, and the Bible. "They first fell on their knees and then rose and fell on the Aboriginese."

 

Nothing was too difficult for them to undertake. They feared God and little else. After they had built their log cabins and cleared a few acres for corn, wheat and vegetables, they next established their schools and churches. (Read Judge Dean's address on the History of Blair County, Chapter XIV, of this book.)

 

One of the chapters of this book tells about their schools and how from these rude beginnings, a most marvellous system of public education has grown until it is the wonder and admiration of our people. Illiteracy is almost unknown and the average child of high school age is academically as well prepared in the public schools as were his forbears in the colleges of one hundred years ago.

 

Instead of the favored few getting a liberal schooling, it is now possible for any boy or girl who has the strength of body and mind to climb to the very top of the ladder of academic achievement.

 

The words of Thaddeus Stevens in his memorable address to the Pennsylvania Legislature: "The poorest child in the meanest hut in the mountains" apply to our children who can now obtain the ability to read and study and profit thereby from the words and deeds of the wise men of the remotest generations of the time that is passed.

 

The chapter on churches likewise shows how from small beginnings in log houses of earth floors or in the open air, under spreading forest trees, the Word was proclaimed to the scattered inhabitants who sometimes walked or rode on horseback twenty miles to hear it spoken.

 

Since the first white settlers came into the county, less than one hundred and seventy-five years ago, a most marvellous development has taken place in agriculture, manufacturing and business, all of which is set forth on the pages of this history.

 

The reader will be well repaid by a careful perusal of its pages. Caesar's memorable words, "Veni, Vidi, Vici," "I came, I saw, I conquered," equally applies to the Blair County frontiersman. He conquered for you and for me, beloved reader.

 

"Each forever in his narrow cell is laid, the rude forefathers of the county sleep."

 

But we still live to profit by his deeds and to leave to posterity a record of what he has done, and to perpetuate the institutions which he founded.

 

Let us emulate his good deeds and draw the veil of charity over his failures and short comings.

 

THE EDITOR.

 

Scene on the Old Pennsylvania Canal

 

Scene on the Old Pennsylvania Canal.

 

Crossing the Alleghenies in 1840

 

Crossing the Alleghenies in 1840.

This typical view on the old Portage Railroad shows a sectional canal boat being drawn up an inclined plane.

 

Old Portage Freight Car

 

Type of Freight Car Used on the Old Portage Railroad.

 

Jaffa Mosque

 

Shrine Temple.

 

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

 

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

 

Pennsy Freight Train

 

One of the Pennsylvania RaIlroad's Fast Freight Trains, Enroute from the West to Tidewater at New York.

 

Juniata Shops

 

Juniata Shops, of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

 

 

Contributed for use in the USGenWeb Archives by Judy Banja

Copyright 2005.  All rights reserved.

 

Blair County PA USGenWeb Archives - Area History

Blair County PA USGenWeb Archives

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