Broad Top Township

Broad Top township was organized from a part of Hopewell, about the year 1834. The township now contains two thrifty villages and one borough. In mineral resources it is the richest portion of Bedford county.

One of the earliest pioneers of the Broad Top was Dr. Jeremiah Duval, who came from the vicinity of Annapolis, Maryland, soon after the revolutionary war. He secured a title to his land in 1785. Dr. Duval brought with him several men with families, his object being the establishment of a colony. Through his influence many other settlers were induced to come here after the colony was started, and after a few years the settlement became quite populous and prosperous. Dr. Duval was a man of culture and talent, and for years was the leading man among the settlers. He was a physician of good attainments, and for many years his medical practice extended over a wide field. He died in 1832. Two of his children are still living--Mrs. Sarah Baker, of Fulton County, now eighty-five years of age, and Dr. Asa Duval, of Broad Top township. Dr. Asa Duval was born in 1800, studied medicine with his father, and practiced until the infirmities of age compelled him to cease.

Among those who were styled Duval�s colonists were Jeremiah Shreeves--the Chaneys; Edward, Gabriel, John, Lewis, Greenberry and Zachariah; John and Jeremiah Williams, Zachariah Donaldson, William Anderson, Basil Foster, Reason Mobley, Smith, Tyler and Derrell. All these �squatted� upon lands in the then unbroken wilds. Some secured titles to their land, others made small improvements, lived here a number of years and then went elsewhere. Some of the descendants of the Chaneys and Andersons still reside here.

Jeremiah Shreeves� wife was the first person buried in the old cemetery known as Duval�s graveyard. She came after her husband, and died the night after her arrival. There were no sawmill near the settlers, and Mrs. Shreeves� body was buried in a coffin rudely fashioned from chestnut �puncheons�. Barton Shreeves, son of Jeremiah, remained here a number of years and was a prominent citizen.

Thomas Whitehead, a revolutionary soldier, was an early settler who came after Duval�s colony. He lived to be very aged, and his family is still represented here.

A tract of one thousand acres was among the earliest surveys of land made in this township. In 1791 it was purchased for one hundred and eighty pounds, by Amos Evans, of Chester county, and Samuel Horton, of Montgomery county, both of whom settled here and reared families.

Amos Evans had two sons, who live in this township--Miles and Joseph. His daughters were Mary (Williams), Elizabeth (Cook), and Abigail (Figard). Joseph Evans died in 1869, in the seventy-eighth year of his age. He was the father of Lemuel Evans, Esq., of Coaldale. The latter was elected justice of the peace in 1849, and held office twenty years. In 1848 he was elected lieutenant-colonel of militia and served two years. In 1853 he was elected brigade-inspector of this county, to fill a vacancy. Re-elected in 1854, he served until 1859, when he was elected brigadier, in which capacity he served until 1864. He was also in the service in the late war, in Co. E, 49th Penn. Regt., about thirteen months, and was wounded in the service.

Matthias Long was one of the earliest settlers. His son, Christopher Long, was born in Broad Top township (as now constituted) in 1777. Thomas M. Long, son of Christopher, is an old resident, and now resides in Coaldale.

Isaac Grove settled on Broad Top mountain before 1798. His son Francis was born in this county in that year. The children of Isaac grove were: Francis, Elizabeth (Fought), Joseph, Frances (Anderson), William, Thomas, Julia (Bollman), Jesse, Jane (Livingston), John, Sarah (Rinard), and James; all living except Elizabeth, Joseph and Jesse.

In 1835 a very destructive forest fire ran over Broad Top mountain. Several farm buildings were destroyed and much damage was done to crops and other property. A sudden rain put a stop to the ravages of the flames.

During the progress of the fire an eccentric character known as Mose Donaldson became greatly alarmed and excited, and, kneeling, prayed earnestly for rain. Donaldson was an ignorant and somewhat profane man, and when he was discovered by a neighbor in the unaccustomed attitude of prayer, the latter accosted him thus: �What, Mose! Are you praying? Don�t you know that the prayer of a wicked man availeth naught?� Mose jumped suddenly to his feet and retorted, �You are a ____ liar!� it is stated that within five minutes the rain began falling and the flames were speedily quenched. No doubt Donaldson was ever after a firm believer in the efficacy of his own prayers.

The grandparents of John C. Figard, Esq., lived in Cambria county. In 1806 James Figard, his father, moved to Broad Top township. He was a farmer and mechanic. He died in 1852. John C. resides upon the old homestead, and is one of the enterprising and progressive farmers of this township. He has been a justice of the peace sixteen years, discharging the duties of that office in manner highly satisfactory to his fellow-citizens.

Allison Edwards was born and reared in Huntingdon county. In 1861 he moved to Broad Top township. From 1865-9 he resided in Illinois. He has followed carpentry principally, though he ahs worked some at farming. The grandfather of Mr. Edwards lived in Woodcock valley, Blair county, during the Indian troubles. His father, James Edwards, resided in Huntingdon county, near the Bedford county line. Jonathan Barnet, the father of Mrs. A. Edwards, moved into Broad Top township in 1839.

Elisha Barton is a native of Fulton county, and a descendant of one of the early settlers of that county. In 1872 he settled at Coaldale. In 1877-8 he lived in Hopewell township, and about four years ago he settled upon the farm where he now resides.

The first gristmill in the Broad Top region was built on Six-Mile run, where the town of Coaldale now is, by Francis Moan, Esq., who was the first settler at this point. The land was warranted to him in 1785. Prior to 1900 the property was sold by the sheriff to Samuel Riddle.


The semi-bituminous coal-fields of the Broad Top mountain region lie in Huntingdon county and the northeastern part of Bedford county. The coal is of a superior quality, and is valuable both for coking and fuel purposes. The existence of this coal in Broad Top mountain has been known for at least a century, but not until within a recent period have important mining operations been carried on. The mines of this county are confined to two valleys, Six-Mile run and Sandy creek, both in Broad Top township. The vein that is worked contains about four feet of good mining coal. Most of the colleries are worked by means of drift-mining. The mines on Sandy run are exclusively of this kind. On Six-Mile run there are two shafts.

The first mines were opened near Riddlesburg prior to the year 1800. Some shipments of coal were made at that time by means of �arks� of flat-bottomed river-boats. The business was carried ion by Samuel Riddle, one of the early lawyers of Bedford, his brother David superintending the work.

Some thirty-five years ago James Price and John Whitney began opening coal-banks at North Pint. They also shipped by arks. The Huntingdon & Broad top railroad was completed as far as Hopewell in 1856, and from that time forward the mining industry has increased in importance and value.

In 1856 Alexander Post, of Huntingdon, operated at Riddlesburg. The Kemble Coal and Iron company began operations on an extensive scale for the supply of their furnace in 1869. R. B. Wigton began operations on Six-Mile run in 1862. Thomas Johns carried on quite extensive operations during the time of the war. The Duval shaft at Coaldale was sunk in 1853, and the Wigton shaft in 1871. Six colleries are now worked on Sandy run, all of which are reached by the branch railroad running up the valley from Riddlesburg to North Point, and a seventh mine will be added during the present year.

The first coal opening on Sandy run was made some sixty years ago on the John Shevington tract. In the winter of 1876-7 Richard Langdon and James Morley, having made leases of about eight hundred acres of coal-lands, began developing the Sandy Run valley. The work is now carried on by two mining companies, both employing about one hundred men. A coal road connects the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain railroad a Hopewell.

Owing to a lack of transportation facilities in 1882, the colleries of the Broad Top coal region were not worked top their full capacity. The yield during the year 1883 will doubtless be much greater. The following statement shows the amount of coal shipped by the Huntingdon & Broad Top Mountain railroad from the mines in Broad Top township, during the year 1882.

Colliery Owners Operators Tons

Mt.Equity H.&B.T.M.R.R.Co. Kemble Coal & Iron Co. 65,111

Defiance Reed, Wilson & Co A.Covalt & Co. 12,964

Duval Rathmell Wilson E. P. Jenkins 17,304

Anderson Rathmell Wilson E. P. Jenkins 106

Cunard R. B. Wigton R. B. Wigton & Sons 22,974

Rommel Six-Mile Run Coal Co. R. Maher 7,756

Lane H. L. Johnson Sandy Run Coal Co. 28,130

Lane No.2 H. L. Johnson Sandy Run Coal Co. 866

Cambria H. L. Johnson Juniata Valley Coal Co. 23,961

Total 179,172


The Hopewell is the oldest furnace in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It still remains active, although hundreds of charcoal furnaces of later date have long since passed out of existence. Hopewell furnace was built in 1800, by William King and Thomas Davis, and put in operation in 1801. A forge was built a few years later. The original furnace was an old-fashioned coldblast. It blew out about 1820. The forge was kept working, and managed by Grove, Couch, Duncan and others, until almost fifty years ago, when a man named Leslie bought the furnace property and rebuilt the stack. Leslie sold to Millegan & Benedict, of Lewistown. This firm failed and the furnace passed into possession of their creditors. From about 1840 to 1847 David Puderbaugh carried on the business, renting the furnace. The forge was not operated after he quit the business. The next change of owners was with the purchase of the property by the Hopewell Coal and Iron Company, of Philadelphia. The building of the railroad necessitated the destruction of all buildings, etc., so that only the old stack was left standing. Lowry, Eichelberger & Co. bought the stack and some of the land of the Hopewell Coal and Iron Company, and started the furnace in 1863. The business was carried on by this firm until 1873, when the firm became Lowry, Eichelberger & Sons, who are the present owners of the property. The furnace is now rented by James Eichelberger & Co. During 1882 they made from forty-five to forty-seven tons of iron per week, a larger amount than was ever before produced. The metal is worked up at the forge of this company in Petersburg, Huntingdon county.

The number of men employed in all departments varies greatly, but probably the average is about eighty. The principal ore-banks are at Everett, where hematite of an excellent quality is obtained. About one-fifth of fossil ore is used with the hematite. It is obtained near the furnace and at Tatesville. The limestone used is obtained from quarries in Hopewell township.


The village of Hopewell was laid out, in 1855, on the lands of the Hopewell Coal and Iron Company. There had, however, been buildings, a store, and other property of the furnace company, on the site of the village, many years previously. Hopewell is a small, but thrifty place, containing three stores, two hotels, the furnace, and Keystone Foundry and Machine Works, and other minor industries. The business of the place is mainly supported by the mining and manufacturing interests.

Hon. C. W.Ashcom, one of the leading citizens and business men of Hopewell, is a native of Everett, and a son of Charles Ashcom, one of the early settlers of that town. He followed mercantile pursuits until 1857, when the important industrial establishment known as Keystone Foundry and Machine Shops, at Hopewell, was erected, which he has since superintended. Mr. Ashcom was a member of the legislature in 1861, and was collector of internal revenue for the sixteenth Pennsylvania district from may, 18567, until March, 1872. He has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal church since he was eleven years of age, and I 1872, was one of the lay delegates to the general conference held in Brooklyn, New York.

Capt. John Eichelberger is a native of Hopewell township and a son of the late David Eichelberger. In early life he followed making charcoal for the furnace, and later was a butcher at Hopewell village. He also took a contract for grading about two miles of the plank road in Hopewell township. In 1864 he married Sarah Eaton, of Armstrong county, by whom he had ten children. In 1861 he went into the army as captain of Co. F, 8th Penn. Reserves. In the fight at Mechanicsville, he, with forty-five of his men, was captured. The captain was in Libby prison forty-two days; he was then exchanged and returned to his company. At Fredericksburg, December 13, 1862, he received a wound, in consequence of which he was discharged. Capt. Eichelberger is now engaged in keeping hotel at Hopewell.

James Eichelberger, who for some years has been one of the most prominent business men of Hopewell, is a native of Hopewell township. He married Susanna Adams. Two of his sons were in the service in the late war. Eli Eichelberger was a member of Co. F, 8th Penn. reserves; after the captain of his company, John Eichelberger, was discharged in 1862, on account of a wound, he was promoted to the command of the company. J. A. Eichelberger was a member of Co. I, 194th Penn. Regt. He is now engaged in iron manufacture and mercantile business.

John Malone, postmaster at Hopewell, is a native of Blair county, who came to this country when young. He followed farming and learned shoemaking. He enlisted in Co. D, 14th Penn. Regt.; afterward in Co. C, 133d Penn., in which he served nine months, then re-enlisted in Co. F, 8th Penn. reserves. He was captured and confined in Andersonville prison. Returning home, he married Adeline Gates, of Hopewell township.

James Ross, blacksmith, Hopewell village, is a native of Center county, and moved to Hopewell township with his parents. He learned blacksmithing at Lemnos forge, and in 1860 moved to Hopewell, where he has since worked at his trade. In 1853 he married Lucy A. Malone.

A. J. Snowberger is a son of John Snowberger, and was born in Morrison�s cove. He lived at home and worked at farming until his marriage with Loretta Wyon, after which he lived one year in the cove, then moved to Hopewell, where he is now carrying on the butchering business.


Alaquippa Lodge, No. 547, I.O.O.F., of Hopewell, Pennsylvania, was chartered November 16, 1858, and instituted January 13, 1859, by D.D.G.M. Dr. B.F. Harry. The charter members were: Dr. J. P. Ashcom, N. G.; Richard Langdon, V. G.; John B. Castner, Secy.; David Jones, Asst.Secy.; and John J. Pearson, Treas.

Alaquippa is the parent of the following lodges: Coalmount, No. 561; Broad top City, No. 579; Six-Mile Run, No. 588; Everett, No. 600; Wells valley, No. 607. The present membership of the lodge is fifty-eight.


Riddlesburg, named in honor of Samuel Riddle, its founder, is a place which has long existed. At least in name, although its history as a village dates only from the establishment of the furnaces. The land on which the village is situated was purchased by Samuel Riddle, who caused a town to be laid out and named Allensport, prior to 1800. He was the first man in Bedford county to ship coal from the Broad Top fields. His operations were confined to a few years, and Riddlesburg passed into oblivion. In 1856 it was partially resurrected by the building of the railroad, and a few house were built during that year. In 1868 the Kemble Coal and Iron Company purchased the site of the village and began the erection of two large blast furnaces, which were completed and put in blast during the following year. The company built and owned the town, which is one of the most active industrial places in this part of the state.

The Kemble Coal and Iron Company is an association of New York gentlemen, having the following officers: P.P. Parrott, president; R. A. Wight, treasurer; William Lauder, general manager; William Kelly, superintendent. The furnaces are making about sixty tons of iron per day. The ore-lands of the company extend about five miles along Tussey�s mountain. The limestone quarries and coke-ovens are situated at Riddlesburg, and the coal mines on Six-Mile run. About fifty-five hundred tons of coal per month is mined by the company, the most of which is used in the works. A narrow-gauge railroad, six miles in length, has been built to bring in the supplies. In all departments about five hundred men are employed. The village is neatly built and contains a store, postoffice, church and school. A well-supplied public reading-room is also maintained for the benefit of the employees.

The store at Riddlesburg was started in 1869 by Bendford & Hedding. In 1872 the firm became Bendford & Ashcom, and so continued until 1876. Then the store was conducted by J. B. Williams for one year. It was then sold to the Kemble Coal and Iron Company, who are the present owners.

E. S. Ashcom, son of Hon. C. W. Ashcom , of Hopewell has been connected with the store since 1872, and has been its manager since it passed into the hands of the furnace company.

Stephen Burns, manager of the furnace and coke-ovens of the Kemble Coal and Iron Company, is of Irish descent. He came to Bedford county from New York State in 1869, and has been in the employ of the company, having served in various capacities up to his present position.


The borough of Coaldale is a small mining town containing three sores, one hotel and several small shops. As its population is mainly dependent upon mining for a livelihood, the number of inhabitants is a varying and unstable quantity.

Coaldale (at first called Fairplay) was laid out in 1855 on the land of A. W.Evans. Some years prior to 1855 he built the first house now standing within the borough limits. The second house, opposite Figard�s hotel, was erected by Lewis Anderson, the first hotel was kept by G. W. Figard, who erected his house and began business in 1855. The first store was opened by Gen. Lemuel Evans in 1854.

Coaldale was incorporated as a borough September 9, 1865.

James Davis came to Coaldale from Maryland in 1861. In that year he enlisted for three months in Co. G, 13th Penn. regt., and re-enlisted in the fall of 1861, in Co. O, 28th Penn. Regt. At Antietam he received three severe wounds in one day, being shot in the thigh, through the body, and losing a leg. Mr. Davis has been postmaster at Coaldale (Six-Mile Run postoffice) since 1871.

Gilbert McIntyre, a native of Scotland, came to this place in 1864, and for several years followed mining and farming. He has been engaged in the mercantile business since 1875.

Henry Rees came to this place in 1850. The town then existed in name only. Mr. Rees is a native of Wales. Since he came to this country, he followed mining and farming.


Six-Mile Run Lodge, No. 588, I.O.O.F., of Coaldale, was granted a charter September 28, 1866. The following were the first officers: George D. Knee, N. G.; Thomas Johns, V. G.; A. H. Anderson, Secy.; Lemuel Evans, Asst. Secy.; D. R. Williams, Treas. John Pearson, William Foster, John and Alexander Taylor, Robert and John McIntyre, David Young and Michael Griffis were also among the charters members. The lodge now numbers about forty members. The building containing the hall is a part of the property of the lodge.


Methodist � The first church edifice in this township was a log building erected by the Methodists about 1805. It stood on land now owned by James Seidel, about a mile northeast of Coaldale. The first graveyard in the settlement was on the old church lot. The old log church was ton down, and a part of the logs were used in constructing a house at Coaldale. About 1850 the Methodists erected the White Methodist Episcopal church about one and one-half miles north of North Point. The building was moved to Broad Top city in 1875.

Dr. Jeremiah Duval was a local preacher of Methodist denomination, and was mainly instrumental in forming the old church. Most of the members of his colony were Methodists, and Edward Cheney, John Williams and Derrell (Dr. Duval�s son-in-law) were local preachers.

A Methodist class was organized at Hopewell in 1833. No church building was erected until 1864, when the present church, a substantial and beautiful edifice, was built. Rev. John Cleaver was then pastor. The building committee were C. W. Ashcom, John Mayor and Richard Langdon.

Riddlesburg Church � The church at Riddlesburg was built in 1873, by the Methodists and Presbyterians, and is still supported by those denominations. The first Methodist preacher was Rev. McKee, and the first class-leader, David Robinson (now deceased). The first Presbyterian pastor was Rev. Bowles; first elders, William Lauder and James Ross. The church is maintained by the employees of the Riddlesburg Coal and Iron Company.

Church of God � this church was organized about 1842, by Revs. Laniger and Plowman. Among the first officers of the congregation were William Figard and Thomas Long, elders, and Joseph Negley and John Lear, deacons. Meeting were generally held in schoolhouses until 1872, when the church erected a meetinghouse at Coaldale. Rev. D. P. Collins was pastor. The church now has about one hundred members.

(Source: The History of Bedford, Somerset, and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania, Waterman, Watkins & Co., 1884, pp.336-340.)

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