Pennsylvania USGenWeb Archives


1804 - 1904

Clearfield County's Centennial


Raftsman's Journal

Clearfield, Pa.


Pages 50 - 59


transcribed for the Clearfield County PA USGenWeb by

Ellis Michaels



This page was last updated on 29 Nov 2012






1804 1904

July 26, 27, 28 and 29.

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

Clearfield, Pa.


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THE NEW M. E. CHURCH, CLEARFIELD, PA.—Now in course of erection; to cost $60,000.










Jefferson, and James Hepburn and William J. Christy from Philadelphia. The last two became resident attorneys and died in Clearfield County.

     Samuel Miles Green was then in commission as Deputy Attorney General for this county and was sworn into office.

     Clearfield County was included in the Fourth Judicial District, of which Hon. Charles Huston was President Judge, who reached Clearfield on the 22nd of October, 1822, and entered upon the discharge of his duties. William W. Potter, of Centre County, who had accompanied him, was admitted to practice.

     The first trial term of the several courts was held in December, 1822, and the first cause submitted to a jury was Wright vs. Amasa Smith.

     It is now almost seventy-two years since the courts were first convened, and the county fully organized for judicial purposes, and it was not until
on _____ 1883, when at an extra session of the Legislature Clearfield County was organized as a separate judicial district and the office of associate judge abolished. Hon. David L. Krebs was elected and commissioned the first President Judge of the new judicial district.

     The courts of this county have from the very beginning been presided over by judges truly learned in the law. Hon. Charles Huston, Hon. Thomas Burnside were made justices, and Hon. George W. Woodward, chief justice of the Supreme Court, they having been the first president judges of the courts of this county. Hon. John C. Knox, the fifth judge, was at one time Attorney General of the Commonwealth and also became a justice of the Supreme Court.

     The State Reports contain many cases which have been tried in the courts of this county and cited as precedents.

     Among the cases tried in these courts none created a greater public interest than the Commonwealth vs. John Siney and Xingo Park, tried at September Sessions, 1875.

     An extensive strike was inaugurated in the early part of 1875 among the miners in the Houtzdale coal region. The operators brought great numbers of new men into the region to take the places of the striking miners, and there were numerous conflicts between the strikers and the newcomers. The labor organization, of which Siney was president, aided the strikers with funds and in other respects encouraged the miners in their fight for higher wages. Siney was not present in the region during the progress of the strike, and it was not shown that he took any part in the strike. He was acquitted.

     Xingo Parks was the secretary of another labor organization which also contributed assistance and in other respects aided the striking miners. He was in. the region tendering his advice and in some respects directing the strike, and was convicted, sentenced to the Penitentiary and afterwards pardoned.

     The New York papers had their reporters at the trial and the daily proceedings were published in their columns. The case was regarded as of the utmost importance, as attacking the very foundation upon which labor organizations are founded.

     The act of 14th June, 1872, made it lawful for any working man or workingmen, etc., acting either as individuals or as the members of any club, society or association, to refuse to work or labor for any person or persons, inter alia, when their so doing "would be contrary to the rules, regulations or by-laws of any club,






THE CLEARFIELD HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING—Erected 1901-'02 at a cost of $60,000






society or organization, to which he, she or they might belong, without subjecting any person or persons so refusing to work or labor, to prosecution or indictment for conspiracy under the criminal laws of this Commonwealth. * * * Provided, That nothing herein contained shall prevent the prosecution and punishment, under existing laws, of any person or persons who shall in any way hinder persons who desire to labor for their employers from so doing, or other persons from being employed as laborers."

     The effect of the decision in Commonwealth vs. Parks was to make it a criminal offense to persuade, or otherwise, in any way hinder, persons who desired to labor from doing so and virtually stripped the Act of 1872 of the protection it was supposed to give labor organizations.

     As an immediate result of the conviction of Xingo Parks in September, 1875, came the passage of the Act of 20th April, 1876, amending the Act of 1872, by declaring that the second provision of the first section of that act, quoted above, shall be so construed that the use of lawful or peaceful means, having for their object a lawful purpose, shall not be regarded as "in any way hindering persons who desire to labor ; and that the use of force, threat or menace of harm to persons or property, shall alone be regarded as in any way hindering persons who desire to labor for their employers from so doing or other persons from being employed as laborers."

     The late Hon. John H. Orvis, as Additional Law Judge, presided over the court and at the trial of this celebrated conspiracy case. The late ex-Senator William A. Wallace and Wm. M. McCullough, Esq., assisted the District Attorney, and the late Senator Matt. Carpenter, Franklin B. Hughes, Hon. George R. Barrett, Esq., and Linn Bartholomew represented the defendants.


     The first school, tradition tells us, was taught in 1804 by a Mr. Kelleys near the residence of Thomas McClure, in Pike township. Samuel Fulton, we are told, taught near Clearfield Town shortly afterwards,- and Josiah Evans was the teacher of a school in Curwensville as early as 1812. From the organization of the county until 1829 private schools sprang up in the settlements.

     Among the early settlers were men who had enjoyed some educational facilities--enough to inspire in them an interest in the cause of education. Penn had encouraged the erection of public schools, the "Plan or Form of Government," adopted in 1776, enjoined the establishment of "a school or shools" in each county by the Legislature. The public mind favored the establishment of schools and the necessities of the county awakened a deep interest in the cause of education. As a result the Legislature, by an Act entitled, "An Act establishing an Academy in the town of Clearfield," approved 12th February, 1827, enacted as follows :-

     Section I.—That there shall be and hereby is established in the town of Clearfield, in the County of Clearfield, an Academy for the education of youth in the useful arts, sciences and literature, by the name and style of "The Clearfield Academy."

     Under the provisions of the subsequent sections of this Act and under the corporate title of "The Trustees of the Clearfield Academy," the persons named in the Act and their successors, erected an academy building on lots Nos. 31 and 32, Front street, in the town of Clearfield. The schools were opened 1830 with Dr. A.












T. Schryver as the first teacher.

     From 1830 until 1874 this academy continued to be the central and highest school in the county. In 1874 it was merged with the common school of the borough and ceased longer to exist as a separate institution. The building, however, was not demolished until 1901, when it was torn down and the present high school structure erected on the spot where it stood.


     The system of education by common schools was accepted and once inaugurated made marked progress, so that to-day the schools are much above the average.

     The Act creating County Superintendents in Pennsylvania became a law over the signature of the late Governor William Bigler, a citizen of the county and a resident of Clearfield town. Dr. A. T. Schryver was the first County Superintendent.

     For the purpose of showing the comparative growth of the schools since the institution of the common school system, the following table may prove interesting :—
                                   Teachers.                 Scholars.
Year.      Schools.     Male.      Female.      Male.      Female.
1835-6         6              7             -             119            101
1844           80             71           11          1327           1125
1854           85             61           18          2506           1757
1864         140             47            95         3097           2939
1874         179            106            88         3908           3331
1884         263            102          169          6095          5836
1894         385            148          247          8816          8686
1904         504            121          383          9970        10363


     The newspaper as an educator found its way into the county at an early day and exerted no small influence in moulding the intellectual character of the people and forming the political future of the county.

     The Pennsylvania Banner—This paper was founded in 1827 by Christopher Kratzer and George S. Irvin. In 1851 the Banner appeared under a new name, "Clearfield Republican."

     Clearfield Republican—This paper is now edited by John F. Short.

     The Clearfield Democrat—This paper was established in 1834 by the late ex-Governor William Bigler, but was allowed to expire.

     The Clearfield Whig—This paper was founded by John R. Edie about the time the Clearfield Democrat ceased to exist, and ended its own career in 1838.

     The Raftsmen's Journal—This paper made its first appearance 15th June,. 1854, with the late H. Bucher Swoope as its editor and proprietor. Hon. M. L. McQuown is its present editor and owner.

     The Public Spirit—This paper was established in 1878 by John Ray Bixter under the name of The Clearfield Citizen. It is now owned and edited by Matt. Savage and is published as a daily and weekly.

     Mutum in Parvo—This paper, a short-lived enterprise of the late D. D. H. Sweeney, made its first appearance in 1883.












     The Monitor—This paper was established by -------------- and is now the Prohibition organ of the county, and is edited by S. C. Watts.

     The Clearfield Times—This paper is published by Dr. F. S. Nevling, at Clearfield and Karthaus.

     This completes the list of papers published at the county seat. From time to time in more recent years newspapers have been established in different sections of the county, among which the following are deserving of mention :

     The Clearfield County Times—Curwensville. Established in 1872 and suspended publication March 4, 1886.

     The County Review—This paper was established by C. C. McDonald, in 1881, under the name of The Aucilla. Mr. R. H. Brainard is its present editor and proprietor.

     The Mountaineer—Published at Curwensville by R. D. Swoope, Esq.

     The Osceola Reveille—Established January 1, 1873, by George M. Brisbin. The Leader Courier—Published at Osceola by John B. McFadden.

     The Houtzdale Squib—Established August, 1878, by L. A. Frazer ; discontinued 13th January, 1880.

     The Houtzdale Observer—This paper made its first appearance 15th December, 1881.

     The Houtzdale Mining Record—Established in April, 1886, by Kinsloe & Kinsloe.

     The Houtzdale Citizen—Established --------------- now edited by Boulton & Reese.

     The DuBois Courier--This paper appeared January 15th, 1879, with Butler Horton as editors and proprietors. Now published as a daily by E.W. Gray.


     The DuBois Express—Established 12th October, 1883, by H. C. Wilson, B. S. Boag and Frank McMichael, now published as a daily by David Reams.

     The Enterprise—A monthly, established at DuBois by P. S. Weber, long since discontinued.

     The Journal—Published as a daily at DuBois by W. J. Hines.

     The Searchlight—An evening paper published at DuBois by McMichael & Wright.

     The Coalport Standard—Established in 1885 by G. P. Pennepacker, now edited by J. Westever,

     The Mahaffey Gazette—Published at Mahaffey by G. L. Meyers.


     The Press—Published at Penfield by M. Nixon.

     This long list of newspapers is proof that the residents of this county were liberal patrons of the Press and is some evidence of the intellectual development of the county.


     Grist Mills.—The first important industry to establish itself in the county was the "grist mill." The first grist mill was built in 1804 by Matthew Ogden and was located on Moose Creek about three-fourths of a mile above its mouth, and it has been described as follows : "It was a mill built after its own plan. Had one fallen down to worship it, he would not have committed idolatry, for its likeness was not in the heavens above, nor in the earth beneath, neither in the waters, which are upon the face of the earth. It was sui generis. In size it was about as













large as the pantry of a modern house. There was no iron about it save a spike which for years had done service in an old wagon, replacing a bolt lost therefrom in a time, back to which the memory of man runneth not. This spike served as a spindle. The balling cloth was a novelty. A frame covered with 'cap-stuff was so arranged that it could be operated by a strap which ran to the water-wheel, but more frequently by being shaken hither and thither by the mill boy, who had packed his grain thro' some blazed path or along the shores of the stream. The flour was caught in a trough, similar to those now seen near watering places, dug out of a huge stick of timber."---Journal,' May 11th, 1859.


     The first industry to spring into existence was the exportation of sawed lumber. Prior to 1805 Daniel Ogden and Frederick Haney had erected saw-mills ; shortly afterwards Daniel Turner built a mill on Clearfield Creek, above Glen Hope ; Robert Maxwell built one near Curwensville ; James and Samuel Ardery erected a mill near Clearfield Bridge, and other mills were erected in quick succession.

     The lumber was made into rafts and floated down the river and to market.

     In 1805 David Litz inaugurated the system of timber rafting, which for three-quarters of a century constituted the principal business of the county. The first timber raft was composed of small logs and floated down Clearfield Creek for use in building a house. There have been times in years gone by when one could in a single day see hundreds of rafts passing Clearfield town. To-day a raft is a curiosity.

     In 1857 the floating of logs was inaugurated and soon superceded [sic] the system of rafting. Booms were erected at Williamsport to receive the logs and large mills built to saw them into lumber. Hundreds of millions of feet of lumber have been floated in the shape of logs to the lower river towns and there manufactured. This system has worked to the disadvantage of Clearfield County, but it enriched Williamsport and other towns on the lower Susquehanna.

     Extensive mills were established in Clearfield County. The Moshonan Land and Lumber Co., at Osceola, in 20 years cut 300,000,000 feet of pine, hemlock and oak into lumber, ties, lath, pickets and shingles.

     Hoover, Hughes & Co., at their various operations, manufactured about 160,000,000 feet of lumber.

     The Bear Run Lumber Co., A. W. Lee & Co., and the Clearfield Lumber Co., and Geo. M. Dimeling & Co., at their various operations, from 1882 until the present have cut over 318,000,000 feet.

     The John DuBois, now John E. Dubois mills, at DuBois, is the largest operation in the county, and although it is impossible to give the output, it has been enormous during the past 3o years.

     In 1828 the county sent 500,000 feet of boards and square timber to market.


     The second industry to take root and continue to thrive was the mining and exportation of coal. At the beginning the only means for transportation was the river, and the coal was carried to market on arks. Frederick Haney, it has been said, built the first coal ark used on the river, but its life was short as it "staved" on the river at "Rocky Bend."




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