The county of Bedford was created March 9, 1771, by an act of the General Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania, entitled "An act for erecting a part of the county of Cumberland into a separate county;" and the commissioners appointed to "run, mark out, and distinguish the boundary lines between the said counties of Cumberland and Bedford," were Robert McCrea, William Miller, and Robert Moore. The reason assigned for the erection of the new county was "the great hardships the inhabitants of the western parts of the county of Cumberland lie under, from being so remote from the present seat of judicature and the public offices." The boundary lines were defined as follows, "that is to say, beginning where the Province line crosses the Tuscarora Mountain, and running along the summit of that mountain to the gap near the head of Path Valley; thence with a north line to the Juniata; thence with the Juniata to the mouth of Shaver's Creek; thence north-east to the line of Berks County; thence along the Berks County line north-westward to the western boundaries of the Province; thence southward, according to the western boundary of the Province, to the south-west corner of the Province; and from thence eastward with the southern line of the Province to the place of beginning," embracing, as the reader will perceive, the entire south-western portion of the State, from the West Branch of the Susquehanna and the Cove, or Tuscarora Mountain, westward to the Ohio and Virginia line. The lines thus set forth, by the act passed "in the eleventh year of the present reign" (George III), not being considered sufficiently explicit, a subsequent act was passed March 21, 1772, in which the limits were more definitely explained, "to the end that the boundaries of the county of Bedford may be certainly known," and George Woods, William Elliott, Robert Moore. and Robert McCrea were appointed to carry the order of the General Assembly into effect.
The area of this county, once so immense. has been gradually restricted, by the erection of Northumberland County in 1772, Westmoreland in 1773, Huntingdon in 1787, Somerset in 1795, Cambria in 1804, Blair in 1846, and Fulton in 1850; and the one jurisdiction has, in time, been divided and subdivided, until some twenty counties, or portions of counties, now occupy the territory of the original county of Bedford.
The name it bears was evidently given to it from the fact that the town of Bedford was selected as its county seat. The town was doubtless so called from the fort of that name there located. In fact, this name was assigned to the town by Governor John Penn, when, by his order, it was laid out in 1766, although it was commonly so designated as early as 1759 or 1760, and there is some reason for believing at a still earlier period. The reasons for thus naming the fort are, so far as we can learn, only traditionary. It is more than probable, however, that the tradition, in one instance, is correct, viz: That the fort erected at Raystown, during the latter part of the reign of George II, received its name in honor of one of the dukes of the house of Bedford, in England. Various other reasons are assigned, but they are, to say the least, questionable.
The reasons the writer of this paper has for concluding that the defence known as Fort Bedford was erected toward the close of the reign of King George II, viz, not earlier than 1755 nor later than 1759, are as follows: There is circumstantial and incidental evidence almost as conclusive as positive proof, that protective and defensive works of some kind existed at Raystown (Bedford) for several years prior to General Braddock's expedition in 1755. The earliest traditions are very obscure as to the date of the first settlement of the locality. One Rea, whose previous or subsequent history is unknown, settled there in 1751, and the hamlet and the branch of the Juniata on whose banks it was built, doubtless derived their name from him, but there are intimations that there were settlements in the vicinity earlier still, and that fully a decade before Forbes' expedition in 1758, it was a defended settlement, or there was there a defence of some kind to which the settlers, scattered within an area of thirty or forty miles, could fly for protection against the incursions of the savages. Always, prior to that year (1758), so far as we can discover, all letters and official papers were dated at "Raystown," "Camp at Raystown," or "Fort at Raystown." General Forbes, while encamped there when on his expedition for the relief of the garrison at Fort Duquesne, dates his letters from "Camp at Raystown." In 1759 and thereafter, these dates change. In August of that year, General Stanwix, on his way to the borders of the Province on Lake Erie, dates his official papers at "Bedford," and "Fort Bedford." This is the earliest mention we have discovered of "Fort Bedford." In July, 1755, immediately after Braddock's disaster, Colonel James Burd proposed cutting a road from Fort Cumberland to "Ray's Town," and suggested erecting a fort at that place, "to shut up the other road and save the back inhabitants." While this proposition of Colonel Burd's might, as isolated evidence, be considered as indicating that no work of defence was in existence at Raystown at that time, there is ample collateral evidence that a fort of some kind was then standing, but from lack of size, or strength, or from decay, it was insufficient for the exigencies of the time, and hence his proposal to build. A fort, such as he suggested, must have been erected prior to 1759. In fact, the "Old Fort House," a view of which we present to our readers, and which is still standing (in 1876) in good condition, and a large and commodious building for the period in which it was erected, is known to have been the officers' quarters in the fort before that time, and was designated as the "King's House."
The act of 1771, providing for the erection of Bedford County, also contained the following clause, to wit: "That it shall and may be lawful to and for Arthur St. Clair, Bernard Dougherty, esquires; Thomas Coulter, William Proctor, and George Woods, gentleman; or any of them, to purchase and take assurance to them and their heirs of a piece of land situate in some convenient place in said town (Bedford), in trust and for the use of the inhabitants of the said county, and thereon to erect and build a court house and prison, sufficient to accommodate the public service of said county, and for the use and conveniency of the inhabitants."
In pursuance of the foregoing, a purchase was made and the deed recorded as the "Deed of James McCashlin to Arthur St. Clair, Bernard Dougherty, George Woods, and William Procter, esquires; and Thomas Coulter, gentleman, trustees appointed by the General Assembly of the Province to erect a jail and court house in the county of Bedford, for lot No. 6, bounded partly by the public square, dated November 10, 1771, consideration one hundred pounds." The lot No. 6 referred to, is that now occupied by the residence of Mrs. Samuel H. Tate, on the north-east corner of the square. Why the public buildings were not placed there, as at first intended, and were built instead in the northwest quarter of the square, is not now and probably never will be known. There was, however, so I am informed by several old citizens, a log structure on the corner of this lot (No. 6) temporarily occupied as a court house, and probably built to be used for that purpose, while the more permanent one was in the slow process of erection, and between this building and the north line of the lot, and standing back from Juliann Street, to the rear of where H. D. Tate's law office now is, was, in the recollection of many of the present citizens, a low, one-story log house that was built for and used as a jail for several years. A letter we have just been shown by Chief Burgess Sansom, written many years ago by his uncle, Reverend James Sansom, speaks of his father (Reverend James) having delivered the logs for the first court house.
The permanent "court house and prison," built on the portion of the square in front of where the Lutheran Church now stands, was an unusually extensive and substantial building for that day, being massively constructed of the blue limestone of the vicinity. It was demolished about the year 1838, by order of the court, it having been declared a nuisance, after a greater and much less excusable nuisance had been perpetrated in the erection of the present public structure on the opposite quarter of the square; thus, so long as it shall be permitted to stand, deforming what is otherwise one of the most beautiful town parks in the Commonwealth.
The engraving of the old provincial buildings is a reproduction of a pencil sketch, by John Mower Esq, the oldest living member of the Bedford bar, and the only individual, who was contemporary with it, whose fine artistic taste and skill could have been brought to bear to rescue it from oblivion. A number of the old citizens who remembered the building, but could not recall it in detail, pronounce this sketch perfect. The jail, with its dark dungeon for convicts, its cell for ordinary criminals, and its debtor's prison with the grated window, occupied the lower story to the left of the centre door. The balance of the first floor, on the right, was the jailor's residence, in the wings of which, in early days, the elections were held. The court room comprised the entire second story, and was entered by the stair-case from without. In one corner of the court room a flight of steps led to the third story, or attic, under the high roof, in which were the grand jury and other jury rooms.
The early courts of the county were not held as now by "men learned in the law," but by "justices nominated and authorized by the Governor for the time being, by commissions under the broad seal of the Province." The first "court of quarter sessions of the peace and jail delivery" was held April 16, 1771, "before William Procter Jr., Robert Cluggage, Robert Hanna, George Wilson, William Lochery, and William McConnell, Esquires, justices of our Lord the King, to hear and determine divers felonies and misdemeanors committed in said county," The other justices appointed and commissioned by George III, with the above, were John Frazer, Bernard Dougherty, Arthur St. Clair, William Crawford, James Milligan, Thomas Gist, Dorsey Penticost, Alexander McKee, and George Woods. The first commissioners were Robert Hanna, Dorsey Penticost, and John Stevenson. The first grand jury were James Anderson, Charles Cessna, James McCashlin, Thomas Kenton, Allen Rose, George Milliken, John Moore, Robert Culbertson, George Funk, John Huff, Rinard Wolfe, Valentine Shadacre, Thomas Hay, Samuel Drennin, Edward Rose, Samuel Skinner, William Parker, Christopher Miller, Thomas Croyal, Adam Sam, Jacob Fisher, and David Rinard. William Procter was the first sheriff. Arthur St. Clair was appointed first prothonotary, recorder, and clerk of court, by Governor John Penn, March 12, 1771, and deputy register for the probate of wills, 18th of same month, by Benjamin Chew, Register General.
The first deed recorded in the archives of the county is that of George Croghan to John Campbell Esq, merchant of Fort Pitt, dated 29th November, 1770. It recites, that "Whereas Johonoissa, Scanayadia, and Caseantinica, chiefs or sachems of the Six Nations of Indians, did by the deed duly dated August, A.D. 1749, sell to the said Croghan in fee a certain tract of land on the south side of the Monongahela River, beginning at the mouth of Turtle Creek, and thence down the said river to its junction with the Ohio, computed to be ten miles," etc. The second paper recorded is an affidavit of James Pollock, on the 4th April, 1771, that he lost a note for three pounds. The third paper recorded is a "mortgage made 14th January, 1771, between Francis Howard, now of Fort Pitt, ensign in his Majesty's 18th reg't of Foot, and Edward Hand, of the same, surgeon mate in said reg't, on both sides of Chartier's Creek, for 1636 acres of land. Acknowledged before Charles Edmunston, Captain 18th Reg't commanding."
The next record is of the deed heretofore mentioned of lot No. 6, to the commissioners. Then comes a deed of John Hardin, dated 15th February, 1772, to John Hardin Jr., "in consideration of natural love and affection, for his lands this side of Laurel Hill, negroes, stock, and other substances, moveable and immoveable,"
The last paper we shall mention as throwing some vague light upon the early settlement of. Bedford County, is a deed of the Indians to Garrett (Gerrard?) Pendergrass. We give a copy of the deed in full, as interesting, not alone from the fact that. it is a conveyance of the ground on which Allegheny City now stands, then in Bedford County, but also that this conveyance was in lieu, as the reader will see, of the ground on which Bedford is built, and which having belonged to Pendergrass at a very early day, he was evidently dispossessed of previous to the settlement of Ray at the place. This is one of a number of the incidental proofs which justify the reade,' in believing that the early settlement of Bedford was even earlier than we have been accustomed to suppose. The deed is as follows, viz:
"Know all men by these presents, that whereas a certain Garrett Pendergrass Senior of Bedford settlement, in the Province of Pennsylvania, and County of Cumberland, was settled some number of years past by leave of the chiefs and deputy's of the Six Nations of Indians, on a tract of land where Bedford is now situate, while the said land was yet the property of us and our said chiefs and deputy's, said Pendergrass being dispossessed of said lands in the time of the war between the French and English, and before said Pendergrass could saifly return to live on said land it was entered upon by people who have from time to time and yet continues to keep said Pendergrass from the enjoyment of said tract of land, and said Pendergrass, at the last treaty held at Fort Pitt with the representatives of the Six Nations, informed our said chiefs or their representatives or deputy's that he was deprived of the above tract of land as above mentioned, whereupon us and our said deputy's did then at the said treaty, give him, the said Pendergrass, our leave in writing under our hands to settle on a tract of land called the Long Reach near the mouth of the Yaughyagain, but the said last mentioned tract being at the time of the said treaty, or before it, improved by some other person or persons, contrary to our expectations, for which reason the said Pendergrass has not obtained possession of the latter mentioned tract and cannot quietly enjoy neither of the two above mentioned tracts; Know ye, therefore, that we the under or within bound subscribers, who have hereunto caused our names to be set, and have put our marks, the first of us assigning being one of the chiefs and the other two deputy's off the said Six Nations, do give and grant to the said Garrett Pendergrass, his heirs and trustees forever, our full leave and liberty of us, and for and in behalf of the said Six Nations to settle on a tract of land on the north side of the Aligania River opposite to Fort Pitt, in form of a cemi circle from said landing; hereby granting to him and his heirs, trustees, and assigns, full liberty to build houses, make improvements, and cultivate the said tract of land or any part thereof, and that he, the said Pendergrass may the more quietly enjoy the said land, and any benefit that him, his heirs, or assigns shall make or can make thereby, we do for ourselves and in behalf of the said Six Nations discharge all people whatsoever from molesting or disturbing him the said Pendergrass, his heirs, trustees, or assigns, in the possession or quiat enjoyment of the said land, or any part thereof, and we do by these presents, firmly engage and promise to answer all objections that any Indian tribe or tribes may have to the making of the above settlement."
"In witness whereof we have caused our names to be subscribed, and have hereunto set our marks, in the month of February, in the year of our Lord God one thousand seven hundred and seventy. Anonguit, (mark), a turtle. Enishshera, or Captain Henry Mountare (his 1. mark). Connehraca-Hecat, or the White Mingo (his mark), a circle, O. Signed and agreed to before James Elliott. Garrett Pendergrass Jr."
" Bedford, ss. Came before me, the subscriber, one of his Majesty's justices of the peace of said county, the within named Indians, viz: Anonguit, Enishshera, or Captain Henry Mountare, and Connehraca-hecat, or the White Mingo, and acknowledged the within instrument of writing, or bill of sale, to be their act and deed, and desired the same might be recorded as such. Given under my hand and seal in the month of February, in the year of our
Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy. James Elliott."
"Recorded 19th September, 1772."
The first attorney sworn in was Robert Magraw, at the first session of the courts of the county, April 16, 1771, on motion of Bernard Dougherty, one of the justices, there being no attorney to make the motion. Afterwards, at the same session, on motion of Robert Magraw, the following were admitted to practice, viz: Andrew Ross, Philip Pandleton, Robert Galbraith, David Sample, and James Wilson, and at the ensuing term. July 16, 1771, David Grier, David Espy, and George Brent were admitted.
The names recommended to the Governor for license as tavern-keepers in 1771, were Margaret Frazer, Jean Woods, Frederic Naugel, George Funk, John Campbell, Joseph Irwin, John Miller, and Samuel Paxton. The old inns, or tavern-houses of Frederic Naugel and George Funk are still standing on west Pitt Street, and were famous in their day as synonymus of good cheer for "man and beast." That of George Funk was the artistocratic inn (hotels were unknown at that day), and the headquarters of the judges, lawyers, and military officers. The last of the Funk family died about fifteen years ago, and the descendants of Frederic Naugel are still with us, one of them (Frederic) still living on the farm, adjoining the town, owned by his ancestor. The first judge "learned in the law" appears to have been James Riddle, who died in Chambersburg in 1838, leaving an honorable record.
The members, from Bedford County, of the convention which adopted the State Constitution of September 28, 1776, were Benjamin Elliott; Thomas Coulter, ancestor of Judge Coulter of Westmoreland; John Burd; John Wilkins, father of Judge Wilkins, late of Pittsburgh; John Cessna, great-grandfather of Honorable John Cessna of Bedford; Thomas Smith, and Joseph Powell.
The members of the State Constitutional Convention of February 5, 1790, were Joseph Powell, and John Piper, afterward member of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania, of whom it is recorded that he made a leap across the open circle beneath the dome of the State House at Harrisburg, while it was unfinished as to the railing around it. From numerous traditions he was a remarkable athlete.
It will hardly be considered an unpardonable digression to mention here a number of names intimately associated with the history of Bedford County, in its courts and offices, who, at various periods, have become prominent in State and National affairs, viz: Honorable Thomas Smith, who held several appointments of trust under the government, and was afterwards judge of the Supreme Court; Honorable Jonathan Walker, judge of the court, father of Honorable Robert J. Walker, United States Senator from Mississippi, and Secretary of the National Treasury, who resided here in his boyhood, and received his early education here; Honorable Charles Huston, judge, afterwards supreme judge; Honorable John Tod, judge, afterwards supreme judge, lived and died here; Honorable Jeremiah S. Black, judge, afterwards supreme judge, Secretary of State of United States, Secretary of War, and Attorney General United States; Honorable William Wilkins, judge, United States Senator, Minister to Russia, and Secretary of War of United States, lived in early life with his father in the house one mile north of Bedford, on the Hollidaysburg Road, now occupied by Samuel Carney; Honorable John S. Carlisle, United States Senator from West Virginia, is the son of a Bedford lawyer; General Arthur St. Clair, of Revolutionary fame, was the first prothonotary and register of Bedford County; Honorable David Mann, father of William F. and D.F. Mann, a gentleman of sterling worth, was appointed prothonotary in 1809 by Governor Snyder, and reappointed by Governor Findlay, serving twelve years, was State senator in 1821, and Auditor-General under Governor Shulze, 1824-'27. Honorable Job Mann, nephew of the above, was prothonotary for twelve years, afterwards State Treasurer of Pennsylvania and representative in Congress; Honorable Alexander Thompson, judge, and member of Congress, a man of remarkable uprightness, purity, and simplicity of character; Honorable James M. Russell, nephew of the first law judge of the county (Riddle), was a lawyer here for over fifty years, a representative in Congress, and a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1837-'38; Honorable S.M. Barclay, a prominent lawyer and senator of the State; Honorable Alexander King, judge of the district and State Senator; Honorable Francis Jordan, Secretary of State of Pennsylvania, is a native of Bedford County, studied law, was admitted and practiced in early life at the Bedford bar; Honorable Alexander L. Russell, son of James M., member of the Bedford bar, afterwards Secretary of State and Adjutant-General of Pennsylvania; Honorable Samuel L. Russell, brother of the above, a member of the Bedford bar, and member of Congress, and of the Constitutional Convention of 1872-'73; Honorable John Cessna, member of the bar, speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1851 and 1863, member of the forty-first and forty-third Congress, and filled many other important public and party offices; Honorable William P. Schell, member of the bar, also Speaker of Pennsylvania House of Representatives. There are and have been many others whom Bedford might claim, who have had honorable influence in public affairs, but we are restricted by want of space to the above mentioned.
The original townships, several of which will be recognized as now belonging to other localities, were Ayr, Bedford, Cumberland, Barree, Dublin, Colerain, Brother's Valley, Fairfield, Mt. Pleasant, Hempfield, Pitt (now Allegheny County), Tyrone, Spring Hill, Rosstrevor, Armstrong (now Armstrong County), and Tullileague. The present townships are Bedford, Broad Top, Colerain, Cumberland Valley, Hopewell, Harrison, Juniata, Londonderry, Liberty, Monroe, Napier, East Providence, West Providence, East St. Clair, West St. Clair, Southampton, Snake Spring, Union, Middle Woodbury, and South Woodbury.
The early record of Bedford County abounds in the fearful incidents usual to wild and perilous border life, which if narrated here would make this sketch, albeit veritable history, seem a romance. Our space, however, is limited, and we must forbear. Often and terrible were the visitations of the savages to the homes of the early settlers, and the obliterations of entire families, and the dispersion or destruction of settlements were of not infrequent occurrence. One incident of the kind, the massacre of the Tull family, is an illustration of the remark, and we allude to it to the exclusion of others as thrilling and dire, because the circumstance has been perpetuated in the memories of the inhabitants from the locality, having ever since borne the name of the fated family. Every school child in the county knows of or has heard of "Tull's Hill." It lies on the Pittsburgh Turnpike, six miles west of Bedford, and has its name from the murder in 1777 by the Indians of a family of that name, consisting of the parents and nine children. The writer many years ago saw an old citizen, who when a young man of nineteen years, passed the smouldering ruins of the Tull cabin the day of the massacre, and saw the mutilated remains of the victims. He made his escape to Fort Bedford. We give the following extract of an account of this massacre, which was written by John Mower Esq., some thirty years ago. "There were ten children, nine daughters and a son; but at the time referred to the son was absent. At that time the Indians were particularly troublesome, and the inhabitants had abandoned their improvements and taken refuge in the fort; but Tull's family disregarded the danger and remained on their improvements. One Williams, who had made a settlement about three miles west of Tull's, and near where the town of Schellsburg now stands, had returned to his farm to sow some flaxseed; he had a son with him, and remained out about a week. The road to his improvement passed Tull's house. On their return, as they approached Tull's, they saw a smoke, and coming nearer, discovered that it arose from the burning ruins of Tull's house. Upon a nearer approach, the son saw an object in the garden, which by a slight movement had attracted his attention, and looking more closely, they found it was the old man just expiring. At the same moment, the son discovered on the ground near him an Indian paintbag. They at once understood the whole matter, and knowing that the Indians were still near, fled at once to the fort. Next day a force went out from the fort to examine, and after some search, found the mother with an infant in her arms, both scalped. A short distance in the same direction, they found the eldest daughter also scalped. A short distance from her, the next daughter in the same situation, and scattered about at intervals, the rest of the children but one, who, from circumstances, they supposed had been burned."
The following extract from the "Pennsylvania Gazette" of August 30, 1754, incidentally explains the perilous state of affairs at that time, and this continued to be the condition of things, at intervals, until 1780. The extract is as follows: "All appears quiet at present along the frontier, except about Bedford, where there are, according to intelligence from thence, some of the savages lying in wait for opportunity of doing mischief. They attempted very lately, to take a man that was fishing, but he got off. The people are returning over the hills to their places, which we are afraid is too soon."
General Bouquet writes to Governor Penn, August 25, 1764, as follows: "A party of thirty or forty Indians have killed, near Bedford, one Isaac Stimble, an industrious inhabitant of Ligonier; taken some horses loaded with merchants' goods, and shot some cattle, after Colonel Reed's detachment had passed that post."
We learn, also from Reverend Dr. Dorr's Historical account of Christ and St. Peter's Churches, Philadelphia, that in July, 1763, the "back inhabitants," Bedford, with other points, were in such distressed condition from the "inroads of the savages," that the congregation of Christ and St. Peter's Episcopal Churches of Philadelphia, at the instance of their Rector, Reverend Richard Peters, contributed the sum of 662 pounds 3s for their relief, and after corresponding with the minister and wardens of the Episcopal Church at Carlisle, for information, sent "supplies of flour, rice, medicine, and other necessaries, together with two chests of arms and half a barrel of powder, four hundred pounds of lead, two hundred of swan shot, and one thousand flints."
The inhabitants of Bedford County have always been with the advance of their fellow-citizens of other localities in furnishing brave men for the defence of the rights of their country.
Reference to the archives and records of the Commonwealth shows that in the early French and Indian Wars, the war of the Revolution, the late war with England, the Mexican War, and the recent Civil War, Bedford County has always furnished, never less, and often more, than its full quota of those who voluntarily gave their services, in the camp and in the field, to their country.
We are indebted to Honorable William P. Schell for the data of the following geographical and geological description of the county:
All of the geological strata within the limits of Pennsylvania, from the Trenton or lower limestone up to and including the coal formation, are found in the county. The great Apalachian chain of mountains have their tread north-east and south-west through the county. The western boundary is formed by the Great and the Little Allegheny Mountains, which abound in coal, iron ore, and fire-clay. The eastern boundary is formed by Ray's Hill and Broad Top Mountains. They contain a very superior coal, known as the Broad Top, semi-bituminous, and also iron.
The central portion of the county is traversed by several mountain ranges, Terrace, Tussey's, Dunning's, Evit's, Will's, and Buffalo Mountains, all of which contain one or more valuable seams of fossil iron ore, excepting the first named, which contains an excellent red hematite ore. There are over two hundred square miles of fossil iron are within the limits of the county. Embosomed in these mountain ranges are some of the most beautiful and fertile limestone valleys to be found anywhere. Many of them are of the same geological formation as Lebanon Valley, the great Cumberland Valley, and the limestone land of Lancaster County.
Morrison's Cove is some eight miles in width, and extends some twelve miles in this county and through Blair and Centre Counties. The land is as fertile and as well improved as any part of the "garden spot of the State," Lancaster County. Snake Spring Valley, Friend's Cove, and Milligan's Cove are also composed of the Trenton or lower strata of limestone. These valleys are generally underlaid with a very rich brown and red hematite iron ore. There are also several very beautiful and fertile valleys of the upper or Hilderberg limestone formation, to wit: Bedford, Cumberland Valley, Dutch Corner, St. Clair, and Will's Creek Valleys. Chestnut Ridge, near Schellsburg, is also of the same formation. Within a distance of ten miles, on an east and west line, may be found every geological stratum within the State, except those beneath the Trenton limestone.
Bedford County is, without doubt, one of the richest iron counties in the State, as it contains almost every variety of ore, the fossil, the hematite, and the carbonaceous ores. Iron can be made at lower rates than elsewhere in the State, as coal, iron ore, and limestone are found in great abundance in close proximity, and these are all intersected by a railroad running diagonally north-east and south-west, through the entire length of the county.
The natural scenery of Bedford County is perhaps unsurpassed for picturesqueness and variety. The wild mountain views alternate with rare rural scenes. The valleys especially attract the attention of tourists, and some of the landscapes are pronounced, by persons traveled in this and other lands, as beautiful as any the sun shines upon. The climate is pure and healthful.
The manufacturing facilities of the county are as yet comparatively undeveloped. There are several extensive iron furnaces, some of which have been nearly a century in operation. One, the Bloomfield furnace, in Morrison's cove, furnishes iron of such peculiarly excellent and tenacious quality that it was exclusively used during the recent war for the manufacture of the immense cannon used by the government. There are several manufactories of woolen goods, planing mills, and a large number of extensive steam tanneries, but in all these industries, especially the iron interest, the reserve supply of material untouched is simply inexhaustible.
The town of Bedford was laid out in June, 1766, by order issued by Governor John Penn to the Surveyor-General of the Province, John Lukens, and it was incorporated as a borough, by act of Assembly of the State, 13th March, 1795. The original plan of the town, which has been enlarged by subsequent additions, was similar to all the old towns of the Penns, having equally sized squares, divided by streets intersecting each other at right angles, and a central park or square. It had three streets running east and west, viz, Penn, Pitt, and John, the two latter being on the north and south, and each sixty feet in width, and the first named being central, between the other two, and eighty feet in width. These are crossed at regular intervals by six other streets, running north and south, named respectively, Ju1iann, Thomas, Richard, Bedford, East, and West Streets, each of the width of sixty feet. The personal names, feminine and masculine, perhaps more home-like than euphonious, which some of these streets bear, were given (so says tradition) by John Lukens in honor of members of the Governor's family. The limits of the borough have been gradually enlarged, until today it covers an area of one mile from east to west, by one and a quarter miles north to south.
At the time of the survey by John Lukens, the streets of Raystown, viz, the road from the east to Fort Pitt and the path south to Fort Cumberland, entered the hamlet on lines parallel with the Old Fort, or King's house. The survey of Lukens changed these courses, for his orders were to "layout the streets parallel with and at right angles with Colonel Bouquet's house." This house is the large limestone mansion known as the "Woods house," that stands on Pitt Street, directly opposite the Old Fort house, and is now the residence of A. B. Carn. It is, even for the present day, a spacious, elegant mansion, massive and durable in style, and unless it should be removed to make way for business houses, will be as strong and secure a century hence as it is now. Why it was called Colonel Bouquet's house is not now known, unless it being his head-quarters in 1758, when he remained some time at Bedford with his force of 7,850 men, and his again occupying it temporarily in 1763, associated his name with it. It is sure he never owned it, nor had his permanent residence in Bedford. The house was built prior to 1758, tradition says by a Captain Klem, a Scotchman, and at an early day came into the possession of George Woods, Esquire, one of the King's justices, and was for several generations the residence of himself and descendants, having passed out of the family within the last thirty years.
The only buildings contemporary, or nearly so, with it now standing are the Old Fort or King's house; the Funk and Nawgel taverns, on West Pitt Street; the old Barclay house in the south-east suburb, known as the "Grove;" the "Espy house," a picture of which is given, interesting as Washington's headquarters in October, 1794, when he came to Bedford on his expedition to the western counties during the Whiskey Insurrection. It is also a matter worthy of note that General Arthur St. Clair had his first prothonotary's office, in 1771 and 1772, in the basement of the rear building of the Espy house. The Old Fort, or "King's house," stands at an angle eccentric from the town lines, facing a private square at the intersection of Pitt and Juliann Streets. It is a somewhat singular circumstance, in this land of change, that this property is now owned by a descendant (David F. Mann) of one of the first home officers commissioned in the war of the Revolution, Captain Andrew Mann, father of the late Honorable David Mann. The old house is built of oak logs, and is yet substantial and in good preservation. It had a smooth clay floor on the first story, still to be seen under the modern flooring, and split logs flooring the second story. The building is now covered with weather boarding, but the clap-boarding of the gable ends is still to be seen from the inside, fastened with immense wrought-iron spikes. In the old Nawgel tavern, the old split oak floor, nailed with the same huge homemade spikes, is to be seen.
Lying to the eastward of the King's house, and sloping downward to what is now East Street, was the "King's orchard," some fifteen acres planted in apple trees, the last one of which was standing as lately as about 1855, having survived its companions many years. This orchard seems to have been used in early times as a burial-place for the settlers and soldiers of the fort, the graves being scattered without regard to order allover the space alluded to, some singly, others in small clusters, as evidenced by the frequent exhumation of human remains, from the early years of the borough to the present time, in excavating for buildings and other purposes. These remains are still occasionally brought to the surface in the ordinary work of cultivating the gardens in the compactly built portion of the town which was once the King's orchard. But a dozen years ago, in digging the cellar for the brick house on the north side of Penn Street, immediately east of the Presbyterian Church, the workmen discovered what were evidently the remains of two adult persons in early manhood and womanhood, probably man and wife, who had, from indications shown by the appearance of the bones, met deaths of violence. In the forehead of the female skeleton was the perforation made by the leaden bullet which was found in the cavity of the skull. After the town was surveyed in 1766, the interments seem to have been principally confined, for some thirty years, to the Episcopal burial-ground on Penn Street, east of Richard, also a part of the King's orchard, which, at the laying out of the town, was donated by Governor Penn to "the Church for a burial-place." In removing the remains of the dead from this old graveyard to the new cemetery, some ten years since, remains of several, supposed to be British officers, were among those taken up. In the grave of one, thought by the old inhabitants to be that of a Colonel Campbell, were found, besides the massive coffin handles, a breast-pin containing a lady's miniature, and a pair of very rich, old fashioned, gold linked sleeve-buttons. The remains of Justice Bernard Dougherty, Judge Scott, and others of the early pioneers, were deposited in this ground.
In the old graveyard on Ju1iann Street, south of the original borough line, also donated by order of Governor Penn to the "Lutherans and Calvinists of the town," commonly known as the Presbyterian Graveyard, also lie the remains of many of the first settlers. It is in this ground that John Tod, judge of the Supreme Court, is buried. There is also another tomb in this enclosure, around which cluster interesting memories, it is that of Colonel Levin Powell, of Virginia, who died in Bedford while visiting the springs for his health in 1810. He was the Colonel Powell in connection with whose name the following characteristic anecdote is narrated. Colonel Powell was a candidate for Congress in the district in which Washington resided, and they were not on amicable terms, although of the same party. As the General alighted from his horse and walked up to the polls to announce his vote, as was the custom of the time in Virginia, the crowd, curious to know how he would vote, under the circumstances, followed him. Washington observing this, exclaimed, in words that have passed into a proverb: "Gentlemen, I vote for principles, not men," and then directed the clerk to record his vote for Colonel Levin Powell.
The early settlers of Bedford were principally English, also the Scotch-Irish, and the German element were largely represented. The descendants of a number of the pioneers still reside here, and many of them are among our first citizens. For many years the society of the town was characterized by English customs and hospitality, and like Carlisle, Chambersburg, and some other of the colonial towns, was intelligent, select, refined, and aristocratic.
The town is beautifully situated on the Raystown branch of the Juniata, in the midst of a most charming landscape, in a valley the beauties of which have formed the theme of many a poet's verse and tourist's praise. For healthfulness of location, exquisiteness of scenery, and salubrity of climate, it has few rivals. It is well built, has wide streets well paved, and is much remarked upon for the beauty and number of its shade trees. Its public edifices, courthouse, churches, and school buildings, are handsome and in good architectural style, and its private residences are uniformly good, and some of them quite beautiful; these are for the most part brick and stone. The town stands upon what for many years was the great thoroughfare between the East and West, the turnpike leading from Philadelphia and Baltimore to Pittsburgh and Wheeling; and until the completing of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad on the south, and the Pennsylvania Central on the north, the entire road, from Chambersburg to Pittsburgh, was teeming day and night with coaches, Conestoga wagons, and private conveyances, and every interest of the town and country was prosperous. After the opening out of the railroads above mentioned, the old place was figuratively "laid on the shelf," until the completing, in 1872, of its railroad connecting the Pennsylvania and Maryland Railroads, since which time its prosperity has been on the increase. Its population has since then doubled, its inhabitants now numbering 2,500. The Bedford and Bridgeport Railroad runs on the north side of the river, about two hundred yards from its main street, with which it is connected by two bridges, one of them an iron bridge of remarkable durability and beauty. There is considerable wealth concentrated here, and there is little of poverty. The citizens, as a class, are industrious, moral, and prosperous. It has one of the finest graded schools in the State. Its churches are the Presbyterian, Catholic, Reformed, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, and two African Methodist.
Everett, formerly Waynesburg and Bloody Run, the second in size of the towns of Bedford County, is a thriving borough of twelve hundred inhabitants, situated on the Raystown branch of the Juniata, and the Chambersburg and Bedford Turnpike, eight miles from the latter place. The Huntingdon and Broad Top Railroad, which connects with the Bedford and Bridgeport railroad at Mount Dallas, one mile west of the town, has a depot here. The town is handsomely built, and improving rapidly, and is inhabited by a moral, energetic, intelligent, and hospitable people. The private residences are principally built of brick and frame.
Colonel Joseph W. Tate writes to me concerning its early history: "In reference to the borough of Bloody Run, now Everett, I find the facts to be as follows: In a deed dated 7th March, 1787, from John Musser, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to Michael Barndollar, of Frederick County, Maryland, there was conveyed four hundred acres of land. This was comprised in two warrants, one in the name of William Thompson, for 250 acres, the other in name of James Elliott, for 150 acres, which includes the creek or branch called Bloody Run. On the first day of February, 1800, under articles of agreement, Michael Barndollar conveyed eighty acres of the western part of the above warrants unto Samuel Tate, of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. The above eighty acres included the Juniata River and the stream Bloody Run, from its mouth to a survey in the name of Robert Culbertson. On 13th October, 1800, Samuel Tate was by Michael Barndollar constituted attorney to procure patents for the above described lands."
This was the beginning of the hamlet of Bloody Run, which finally grew into a village, and afterward was incorporated as a borough. The name was changed a few years ago, for one perhaps more euphonious, Everett, which at times has caused some embarrassment to tourists who were in search of the historic battleground of Bloody Run.
Colonel Tate goes on to remark that "the battle with the Indians, from which the old town derived its name, was fought on the Culbertson tract, a short distance east of the steam mill, and south of Spring's. Traces of the old road can yet be seen on Culbertson's hill, west of where J. W. Barndollar's railroad warehouse now stands. The first Methodist Church and graveyard were on the boundary of R. Culbertson's survey. Prior to building the Methodist Church, the graveyard was west of the old stone church, and near the old log schoolhouse. There was another graveyard at an early day, on the point west of where Bloody Run empties into the Raystown branch."
There are various and conflicting accounts as to the affair which gave the name of Bloody Run to this stream and for many years to the town. The following, published in a London (England) paper in 1765, is perhaps as authentic as any other, viz: "The convoy of eighty horses, loaded with goods, chiefly on his Majesty's account, as presents to the Indians, and part on account of Indian traders, were surprised in a narrow and dangerous defile in the mountains by a body of armed men. A number of horses were killed, and the whole of the goods carried away by the plunderers. The rivulet was dyed with blood, and ran into the settlement below, carrying with it the stain of crime upon its surface."
The foregoing is as explicit as a report borne across the Atlantic from the wilds of the west at that day could well be. It was not in a mountain defile, however, that the melee occurred; it was in a hollow among the hills, near the river, and not far from the base of the mountain, and the truth, as far as we can gather, is about this: The traders above referred to were doing, as some are doing in our western border today, gratifying their passion for lucre at the sacrifice of the public good, viz, surreptitiously furnishing the savages with the implements and materiel of war, by which they were enabled to carry on more readily their predatory and murderous attacks upon the settlers and their families. It were well, perhaps, if there were now, as then, stern men who, on their own individual responsibility, would correct the evil by visiting summary vengeance upon the sordid knaves.
Schellsburg. I am indebted to John P. Reed Esq, grandson of the founder of Schellsburg, for the following sketch: "Schellsburg, 'the loveliest village of the plain,' is situated on the eastern slope of Chestnut Ridge, one of the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, nine miles west of Bedford, on the turnpike leading to Pittsburgh. It was laid out by John Schell, a native of Goshenhoppen, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, in the year 1810, who was forced to leave his early home on account of the 'alien and sedition law,' and his 'liberty pole' proclivities. He came to Bedford County about the year 1800, and stopped at 'Nine Mile Town,' west of Bedford, and bought the tract of land patented as 'Nine Mile Town,' and an adjoining tract patented in the name of 'Pekin,' about five hundred acres, from Samuel Davidson and John Anderson, of Bedford, in 1801, and on these lands, on the road leading from Bedford to Fort Pitt, he laid out the village of Schellsburg. It grew apace, and the Legislature, by act of 19th of March, 1838, made it a borough. It is a beautiful and substantial village of about five hundred inhabitants, situated near the foot of a picturesque ridge, surrounded by beautiful meadows and fields, forming quite an extended plain, with a fine view of the distant Buffalo Ridge and the Wills Mountains. John Schell donated several lots for church and educational purposes, and some ten acres of level land, on the summit of the ridge, for a church and cemetery. Here was built, mainly through his efforts, the first church (a union church of the German Reformed and Lutheran denominations) in that part of the county, which remains today a relic of the labors of the pioneers of this section, and is used now only as a mortuary chapel of the beautiful burial-ground that surrounds it. In the village, the Reformed, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian people are represented by churches, and a creditable brick school-house supplies the wants of the villagers in that regard. A town hall is now also in process of erection. At an early day the town was the centre of business for thirty miles in a westerly and northerly direction; now the business is more diffused."
The other boroughs of the county are Woodbury, in Morrison's Cove; St. Clairsville, ten miles north of Bedford, named in honor of Arthur St. Clair; Rainsburg, in Friend's Cove, nine miles south-east from Bedford; Saxton, on the Huntingdon and Broad Top Railroad, in the north-east end of the county; Coaldale, on Broad Top Mountain; Pleasantville, in the north-west section, where are located a large steam tannery and grist mills; and Bridgeport, at the junction of the Bedford and Bridgeport with the Pittsburgh and Connellsville Railroad.
The medicinal springs of Bedford are so widely and justly celebrated, that no sketch of this locality can be complete without some reference thereto. These springs rank foremost in Pennsylvania on account of their mineral properties and medicinal effects, and their mountain elevation and scenery. They are a mile and a half from the town of Bedford, from which they derive their name. Besides the mineral spring, as it is called, there are found in close proximity a chalybeate spring, a powerful limestone one, a sulphur, and two sweet springs. The discovery of the remedial virtues of the Bedford waters only dates half a century back. In the year 1804, a mechanic of Bedford, Jacob Fletcher, when fishing for trout in the stream near the principal fountain, was attracted by the beauty and singularity of the waters flowing from the bank, and drank freely from them. They proved purgative and sudorific. He had suffered many years from rheumatic pains and formidable ulcers on the legs. On the ensuing night he was more free from pain, and slept more tranquilly than usual; and this unexpected relief induced him to drink daily of the waters, and to bathe his limbs in the fountain. In a few weeks he was entirely cured. The happy effect which they had on this patient led others, laboring under various chronic diseases to the springs. In the summer of 1805, many valetudinarians came in carriages and encamped in the valley, to seek from the munificent hand of nature their lost health. Since that period the springs have become widely famous.
(Source: A Short History of Bedford County, Charles N. Hickok, from An Illustrated History of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pub. Wm. H. Egle, 1876.)
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