Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives


1804 - 1904

Clearfield County's Centennial


Raftsman's Journal

Clearfield, Pa.


Pages 40 - 49


transcribed for the Clearfield County PA USGenWeb by

Ellis Michaels



This page was last updated on 23 Apr 2011






1804 1904

July 26, 27, 28 and 29.

Population Clearfield County
1804 685
1904 100,000
One Hundred Years Old

Clearfield, Pa.


printer friendly version







     ELLIS IRWIN—Born June 17th, 1805, was appointed Prothonatory Of the county by Governor Ritner, in 1835 ; was Post Master of Clearfield and Sheriff of the county for three years. He died May 1st, 1902, aged 97 years.






Job England

Robert Haney
James Galloway

Samuel Jordan
George Haney

John Kyler
Samuel Jordan

Thomas Kirk
Conrad Kyler, Jr.

Lewis Lewis
James Kirk

Robert McCracken
Joseph McCracken

Robert Maxwell
James McCracken

Thomas Read
Daniel McCracken

John Welch-3o.

     With the year 1803 the tide of immigration had set in, and it increased in volume materially, once the new county was erected and the seat of Justice located. The list of taxables given above is a most valuable record in the early history of the county. It was carefully prepared and contains the names of many of the heads of the largest and most widely known families. Some of these first "taxables" and "single freemen" became prominent as men of business and influential in the political affairs of the County, State and Nation. To recite the achievements of each or tell of their individual accomplishments, is beyond the scope of this paper, and will be left for the pen of the future historian. This article is only intended to show the results of the united labor of the people who have come to reside within the county or have gone forth to greater fields of usefulness.

     As shown above, there were 155 taxables in Clearfield County in 1806, and there were then returned for taxation 21,716 acres of land, 70 horses, 120 cows, 37 oxen (an odd ox), 2 grist-mills and 2 saw-mills.

     The returns for 1904 show 23,409 taxables, 377,327 acres of land, 7,651 horses, 7,760 cows 12 oxen.

     The figures will serve to show a rapid and substantial growth.

     The increase in population is always an evidence of a prosperous growth, and in this respect Clearfield County makes a most excellent showing, as will be seen by consulting the census reports from 1810 to 1900.

Year ...1810   1820    1830    1840    1850      1860      1870      1880      1890      1900
Pop. ... 875   2,342   4,803   7,834   12,586   18,759   25,741   43,408   69,565   80,614


     Clearfield County, according to the table published in Smull's Handbook, contains 723,200 acres of land, or 1,130 square miles, and when first formed had a greater area.


     Chincleclamousche township embraced an extensive territory, exceeding the present area of the whole county, until 1807, when it was divided and two new townships formed.

     1807-BRADFORD, so named in honor of Surveyor General Bradford, embraced the territory East of Muddy Run to its mouth, and thence was bounded by Clearfield Creek to its mouth. The West Branch below Clearfield Creek formed its Northern boundary, and the Moshannon the Eastern.

     1807—BECCARIA, so called after the distinguished Italian philosopher, Marquis de Beccaria, who reformed the criminal law, was bounded on the North by Little Clearfield Creek from its mouth to its source, and a line drawn from







     ISRAEL TEST—Was born in Center County, September 23d, 1831, he practiced law in Clearfield from 1858 to his death in 1886. He was a humorist and a noted criminal lawyer.







thence to the West Branch at the mouth of Chest Creek. The West Branch formed the West boundary ; the Cambria County line, the South, and Clearfield Creek, from the mouth of Little Clearfield to the mouth of Muddy Run, and the latter from its mouth to the Cambria County line formed the East boundary.

     CHINCLECLAMOUSCHE Township, after this division, embraced the remaining territory South and East of the West Branch, North of Little Clearfield and West of Clearfield Creek, and, also, all the lands in the county North and West of the river.

     The second enumeration of taxables gave Chincleclamousche III, Bradford 36, and Beccaria 28, or a total of in taxables.

     CHINCLECLAMOUSCHE Township was made the object of a combined attack from General Zebulon Pike and Captain Lawrence, both of whom had distinguished themselves in the war of 1812, and the great and now famous original township was again divided and the name "Chincleclamousche" stricken from the list of townships, and all in the year 1813.

     1813—LAWRENCE Township, called after Captain Lawrence, was embraced within the following boundaries : Beginning at a white pine on the West Branch of the River Susquehanna, a corner of Clearfield and Lycoming Counties, thence North to the Northeast corner of Clearfield County; thence along the line of Clearfield County West to the intersection of the old line formerly known as the line between Districts Nos. 3 and 4; thence along the same South until it strikes the Little Clearfield Creek; thence down the same to the mouth thereof; thence down the Big Clearfield Creek to the mouth ; thence down the West Branch of the Susquehanna to the place of beginning.

     1813—PIKE Township, named in honor of General Zebulon Pike, embraced the territory within the following boundaries : "Beginning at the intersection of the old line, formerly known as the line between districts three and four, thence south along the same until it strikes Little Clearfield Creek, thence up the same to its head, thence in a direct line to the mouth of Chest Creek, thence up the Susquehanna River to the county line. All lanes lying West of the above line erected into a new township to be called Pike."

     1817—COVINGTON Township was formed out of Lawrence in 1817, and the following fixed as its boundaries : Beginning at the river at the Lycoming County line, thence North to the fifty mile tree, a corner of surveys Nos. 5,417 and 5,418, a hemlock ; thence West to a maple, a corner of lots Nos. 5,348 and 5,349 ; thence South along the line of surveys till it strikes Bald Hill Run, and down the Run to the mouth thereof ; thence down the river to the place of beginning, and called Covington.

     GIBSON Township, called after Justice John Bannister Gibson, "than whom," the lawyers are wont to say, "no greater jurist ever sat upon the American Bench," was described as "beginning at the fifty-mile tree, a corner of Nos. 5,417 and 5,418, and a corner of Covington Township on the Lycoming County line, thence North to the line of McKean County; thence West along the said line to the East corner of Pike Township ; thence South to the fifty-mile tree, a corner of Lawrence Township ; thence East to the place of beginning.

     These five townships, and Sinnemahoning or Fox, were created by the Quarter Sessions of Centre County, to which Clearfield remained annexed for







     JOHNOTHAN BOYNTON—Was born in Addison County, Vermont, September 9th, 1810. He came to Clearfield County in the year 1832, and became one of its leading business men. He was one of the most enterprising citizens of Clearfield from the year 1845 to 1890, when he retired to lead a peaceful, quiet life. He now resides with his daughter, Mrs. Wm. Dill, of New York, at the age of 94 years.






judicial purposes till 1822. They have been described in detail because upon a map of the county, made in 1817 by Charles Treziulney, Deputy Surveyor, in compliance with the requirements of an Act of the Legislature, they compose the five districts as numbered thereon, and designated in the "Commission Book, No. 6, p. 114," in the office of the Secretary of State as follows :-

Justices of the Peace.

"1" district, composed of part of Lawrence Township, including the Town of Clearfield, also Covington Township.
72 taxables.
William Tate January 1, 1806
Hugh Riddle May 17th, 1816—Not eligible at this time, as he has not resided in the County a sufficient length of time.
Hugh Riddle June- 2d, 1817—Removed to Centre Co.
Caleb Taylor Sept. 2d, 1822

"2" district, composed of Bradford Township.
36 taxables.
Valentine Flegal Feb'y 21st, 1815—Removed to Centre Co., says Recorder.

Abel Benton Oct. 31st, 1821
Elijah Ross Oct. 31st, 1821

"3" district, composed of Beccaria Township.

26 taxables.
John Keagy Appd. & Comd. January 28th, 1817—Removed out of the Township.
William Cree May 16th, 1818

"4" district, composed of Pike Township.
93 taxables.
Arthur Bell April 1st, 1806
Hugh Hall April 1st, i806—Resignation accepted
Alexander B. Reed Oct. 21st, 1819.
                         January 4th, 1821.

"5" district, composed of Lawrence Township.
37 taxables.
James Jordan January 31st, 1820

     1821-SINNEMAHONING Township was erected January 25th, 1821. In the month of April its name was changed to Fox, in honor of a Mr. Fox, of Phila. delphia.


     The Act of January 28th, 1812, authorized the electors of the county to choose commissioners at the ensuing election in October, and provided that the powers of and authority of the commissioners of Centre County over Clearfield County cease and determine, except, however, the provision relating to the selection of jurors, in which case the commissioners of Centre County still retained the jurisdiction originally vested in them.

     The election resulted in the choice of Hugh Jordan, Samuel Fulton and Robert Maxwell, who composed the first Board of County Commissioners, with







     CYRENIUS W. HOWE—Was born in New York State; resided in Decatur Township, Clearfield County, from 1845 to 1867. Was elected Sheriff of Clearfield County in 1867, and moved to Clearfield in 1868, where he resided until his death, which occurred October 16, 1895, at the age of 77 years. He served 15 years as Justice of the Peace of Clearfield boro.







Joseph Boone as clerk.

     Samuel Fulton visited this section on surveying trips only in 1802, 1803, 1804, 1805 and 1806. It was not until "in 1807 Fulton came to this county with his wife, having married in the beginning of the year 1806" (Hist. Clfd. Co.Aldrich-1887, p. 285). He was an Irishman, and one of the characters of the settlement, knew the country and was well acquainted with its inhabitants. He afterwards filled many responsible public offices.


     The first Court House, modeled after the Lycoming County Court House, was built by Robert Collins. The work was begun in 1814 and finished in the following year. It was a substantial brick edifice, "in which," says the Rafts-man's Journal of October 19th, 1859, "for many years justice or injustice has been meted out in legal form." The editor had, undoubtedly, been studying Comic Blackstone, in which a court is described as "a place where injustice is judicially administered."

     It seems that Mr. Collins had either as contractor or overseer erected the Lycoming County Court House and was induced to come to Clearfield, in 1805, for the purpose of securing the contract for the county buildings. He was awarded the contract at the agreed price of $3,000.00. The building is described as having been two stories high, of brick, with rooms for county, officers above the court room below. The roof was of shingles, and a small cupola rose above the building proper. It was erected upon the lots donated by Mr. Witmer.

     The corner stone of the present court house was laid June 4th, 1860, and was built by George Thorn at a cost of $16,000.00. In September, 1882, a contract was made with Thorn & Burchfield for the construction of an addition on the rear and remodeling- of the roof and upper part of the former building, leaving the building substantially as it is to-day.

     The first jail was located on the site of the residence of Dr. J. P. Burchfield, No. 105 South Second Street, and not upon the lots on Locust Street, donated by Mr. Witmer.

     In an article published in the Clearfield Banner, in 1834, and found in Hazard's Register of Pa., Vol. 13, p. 69, the first county prison is described as follows : "A jail (we mention the jail in time for fear we might forget it, as the wall which is made by standing sticks of timber on an end—the only way to distinguish it from the other buildings—is beginning to give way, and in a short time may not be observed at all)."

     The second jail was erected on the site of the Opera House on Market Street, and was built by Martin Nichols, Sr., and Jonathan M. Nichols, at a cost of $3,500.

     The third and present jail, on North Second Street, was built in the years 1870-2. The contract price was $68.000.00, but the extras brought the cost to a higher figure.


     Under the provisions of Sect. 31 of the Act of March 26, 1804, recited above, Clearfield County was annexed to the County of Centre, and it was provided that "the jurisdiction of the several courts of the County of Centre, and the authority of the judges thereof, shall extend over, and shall operate and






LUMBER CAMP J. S. RICHARDS—At Curry Run, Clearfield Co., Pa., 1884






be effectual within, said Counties of Clearfield and McKean."—

     Clearfield County remained so annexed to Centre for judicial purposes until the second Monday of October, 1822, when the provisions of the Act of January 29, 1822, became operative and by which it was enacted, "That the inhabitants of the County of Clearfield be entitled to, and shall at all times hereafter have, all and singular, the courts, jurisdictions, officers, rights and privileges to which the inhabitants of other counties of this State are entitled by the constitution and by the laws of this Commonwealth."

     The County was now fully organized. From the formation of the County, March 26, 1804, until the second Monday of October, 1822, all matters of a legal nature, except such as was cognizable before the Justices Courts, was of necessity transacted in the Courts of Centre County. Seven townships were formed, and the greater one, the father of them all—Chingleclamouch--dropped from the list.

     The first step towards the furnishings of the courts with the necessary machinery for the transaction of business was the appointment of associate judges and a prothonotary, and the following extracts from Commission Book No. 6 in the office of the Secretary of State will prove interesting :-

"Clearfield County.

Francis W. Rawle Sept. 2nd, 1822.
Moses Boggs Same date.

PROTHONOTARY, who is also to be Clerk of Quarter Sessions and Oyer and Terminer, Orphans' Court and Jail Delivery—
Samuel Fulton Appd. and comd. Sept. end, 1822.

Samuel Fulton Sept. 22nd, 1822."

     The first term of the courts was held at Clearfield Town, commencing October 2Ist, 1822. The first day's session was presided over by Associate Judges Francis W. Rawle and Moses Boggs, before whom, as appears from the records, the following proceedings were had :

     The acts of Assembly organizing Clearfield County for judicial purposes being read, and the courts being judicially opened, the commissions of the said judges, F. W. Rawle and M. Boggs, were presented and read. The commission of Samuel Fulton, prothonotary of the said Court of Common Pleas and clerk of the said Court of Quarter Sessions and Orphans' Court, were also presented and read, and also the commission of Greenwood Bell, sheriff of the said County of Clearfield, and writ of assistance were presented and read.

     On motion of W. R. Smith, Esq., Moses Canan was admitted and sworn as an attorney of the courts, and on motion of Moses Canan, Esq., the following named gentlemen were admitted and sworn or affirmed as attorneys of the same courts : William R. Smith, Daniel Stoddard, Joseph M. Fox, John M. Blanchard, James Hepburn, John Williamson, Hugh Brady, Thomas White, William J. Christy, John G. Miles, and Samuel M. Green.

     William R. Smith, John Williamson, Moses Canan and John G. Miles were from Huntingdon, Daniel Stoddard and William White from Indiana, Joseph M. Fox, Samuel Miles Green and John Blanchard from Centre, Hugh Brady of




Turn to Pages 50 - 59





Return to Top of Page


Return To Clearfield County Main Index Page


Ellis Michaels, Clearfield County PAGenWeb Archives File Manager



Copyright 2009, USGenWeb Archives