Napier Township

Pioneer Agriculture- Primitive Customs- Shawnee Creek- The Site of an Indian Village- The Murder of the Tull Family by Savages- Early Settlers- Incidents of Early Days - Family Sketches- Schellsburg- An Old Town- Sketch of the Schell Family- History of New Paris.

NAPIER township was settled very early by a few families. Its population increased very slowly and the work of developing the agricultural resources progressed moderately and by almost imperceptible gradations. Within the memory of men now living, the old-time manners and customs of pioneers prevailed. Many depended on hunting rather than the products of the fields for sustenance; the garments worn were of home manufacture, and consisted solely of flax and woolen goods; "Dutch scythes," that had to be sharpened by means of a hammer and anvil, were used in mowing, and the sickle was the sole implement used in reaping grain. Men and women worked side by side in the field; the first ripened field of grain in the neighborhood was watched by all the young people, and when it was ready for the harvest, all hands engaged in assisting the owner to harvest the crop. Such occasions were denominated "frolics," and they were very frequent. By such means almost every kind of farm labor was performed. Merriment and good cheer abounded; helping hands were always ready to assist the needy and the unfortunate. Wealth and progress have changed the current of social life; the old-time customs no longer exist; but the memory thereof is a pleasant one and deserves to be perpetuated.

Napier township was organized about 1812. Its territory has since been reduced by the formation of Harrison and Juniata townships, but Napier still remains one of the largest townships in the county.

Shawnee creek was so named from the fact that the Shawnee Indians had a camp or village on the stream. It was probably nothing more than a temporary hunting station. The camp is supposed to have been located on the farm now owned by C.W. Colvin, one and one-half miles from Schellsburg.

Tull's hill was the scene of one of the many Indian massacres which lend thrilling interest to the early history of Bedford county. The following account of the affair is from the pen of Dr. C.N. Hickok:

Mr. Tull's house was on the summit of the hill, on the old road or packer's path, north of the present turnpike. The family consisted of the parents and ten children, nine daughters and one son. The son, fortunately, was absent and escaped; all the others, eleven souls, were murdered, scalped, and one burned with the house. At that time the Indians were especially troublesome, and the inhabitants had abandoned their improvements and taken refuge in the fort, but Tull's family had disregarded the danger, and remained on their improvement.

Mr. Williams, who had a settlement west of Tull's hill, near the present site of Schellsburg, had returned from the fort to his farm, to sow some flaxseed. He had a son with him, and remained out one week. On their return, as they approached Tull's, they saw a smoke, and, drawing nearer, found the burning ruins, and the father lying in the garden, scalped and just expiring, and the other members of the family lying dead and scalped all around, the mother, with the babe in her arms, both scalped. They also found an Indian's war-paint bag on the ground. Understanding that the Indians were near, they fled to Fort Bedford and gave the alarm. Maj. James Burns (the father of the late General and Judge James Burns, and ancestor of the Burns family of this county) was also a witness of the murderous scene. He was then a youth of about nineteen years, and came on the scene just after the Indians had departed, and he also made good his flight to Fort Bedford to evade the impending danger of capture or death. An armed force proceeded to the spot and buried the dead. The savages had escaped.

Among the earliest pioneers was the Williams family. Mr. Williams located near Schellsburg, on land which is still in the Williams name, and often had to seek the shelter of Fort Bedford on account of the Indians. James and Ephraim, sons of the old pioneer, were the fathers of the Williamses of Schellsburg and vicinity.

Amos McCreary, where John B. Miller lives, and Joseph Hewitt, on the farm now occupied by George Moore, were among the early settlers.

George Crissman and John Rogers both lived at the foot of the Allegheny mountain in this township. One day in winter, many years ago, they went out hunting, and got lost. They disagreed about the course they should take in order to reach home, and each started off in a different direction. Rogers found his way home before nightfall, but Crissman was missing at dark, and a search, instituted by the neighbors, failed to discover him. When spring came his body was found east of the top of the mountain, in Somerset county, near the place where Jefferson Potts now lives. It was evident that he had perished from cold or hunger.

On June 8, 1794, a terrific storm swept across this county, causing immense damage to all property in its track. The cyclone crossed the Allegheny mountain, coming from the westward, swept down hurricane branch, past the site of New Paris, and onward through the county. Trees were taken up and carried for miles, and the whole track of the storm was a scene of utter desolation.

Thomas Ellis, a native of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, moved from Virginia to the farm now occupied by his grandson, George N. Ellis, about 1795. His children were Sarah, John, Mary, Thomas and Enos. John lived on the old homestead, and died in 1859, in his seventy-second year. He married Hannah Davis, who died in 1832. Their children- Thomas, George N., Enos and John- are all living except John. George N. served nine months in the late war, and was commissary sergeant. Enos served two terms.

The Blackburn farm near New Paris was bought in 1811 by Anthony Blackburn, whose son, Abraham, afterward owned it. Abraham Blackburn sold to William Blackburn in 1870. William was a son of John (an early settler who built the gristmill above New Paris), and was born in this county in 1792. William followed milling and farming. He died in 1872. He married Julia Ann Kegg, born in this county in 1806, who is still living. They had five children: Catharine E., Nicholas, Sarah, Thomas K. and William T. Nicholas and Sarah are dead. Thomas K. is a merchant in New Paris and William T. lives on the home farm.

Chestnut ridge, now considered excellent farming land, and valued almost as highly as any part of the county, was for years neglected, and little of it came under cultivation until within a comparatively recent period. At the time of the first settlements the ridge was destitute of large timber and covered with a thick growth of ferns and shrubs. A destructive fire had caused the disappearance of the timber. Many men yet living can remember when the growth of wood upon the ridge was so little that a deer, running through the brush, could be seen for miles. The early pioneers considered the land valueless, and portions of it that were offered at fifty cents per acre found no purchaser for years.

The ridge is an interesting geological formation, doubtless thrown up by some potent natural agency. It is about ten miles in length by two in width, and extends from Spring meadow, in East St. Clair township, southward through Napier. The underlying rock is limestone. A peculiarity of the ridge is the "sinkholes," which are numerous in various parts of it. These are depressions of the shape of an inverted cone, and of dimensions varying from two feet to thirty or forty in depth. The springs of this locality are wonderful natural phenomena. At either end of the ridge is a spring of sufficient magnitude to drive a mill throughout the year. About midway of the ridge, on either side, is a spring of equal capacity, both of which are utilized as water-powers. Many small springs, yielding a never-failing supply of water, issue from the sides of the ridge in various places.

One of the first settlers on the ridge was John Rowser, probably a German, who came into the county soon after the revolution. His son, Joseph, lived at the foot of the ridge, near New Paris, on a farm which is still in the Rowser name. Gideon, a noted hunter, was another of his sons; and a third, John by name, died in this township. Joseph married Elizabeth Swager, and his children were Sarah, John, Elizabeth, Mary, Joseph, Rebecca, Hannah and Isaac, all now dead. John, son of Joseph, was born in 1795 and died in 1867. In 1821 he located a mile from the eastern base of Allegheny mountain and was one of the first settlers in that neighborhood. He married Mary Stiffler. Their children were Joseph, Peter, Elizabeth, Sarah, Rachel and John S. The latter, an intelligent farmer, was a soldier in the late war. He now lives on a part of the homestead of his father.

Gideon Rowser was an early settler on the mountain. He was a miller for a number of years. His son Andrew, born in 1808, now lives in the western part of this township. Gideon Rowser's hunting adventures would fill a volume; but we have only space to narrate one occurrence of his life. Once, having exhausted his ammunition in firing at a bear which he was chasing, he determined that the game should not escape him. The animal, somewhat wounded, had taken refuge in a tree. Rowser, taking a firm grasp upon a hatchet which he carried, ascended the tree. When he was among the branches, the bear reached out one paw and laid it upon a limb near Rowser, evidently for the purpose of moving toward him. A thought struck the hunter; he gave a quick blow and severed the claws from the foot. The animal, now doubly wounded and greatly infuriated, drew back the injured member and thrust the other forepaw forward angrily. The hatchet again came down, and the bear was now powerless to injure the hunter by his claws. Surging about, blinded with pain, the animal fell from the tree. Rowser quickly descended and despatched him with a handspike.

Among the first settlers on Chestnut ridge was Michael Hammer, from Maryland, who settled on the land where his descendants still live. His sons were Michael, Samuel, John I. and Daniel. The latter, now in East St. Clair township, is the only survivor. His daughters, all of whom are dead, were Betsy, Catharine (Frazier), Margaret (McGrew), and Mary (Bowers). John I. lived on the homestead until 1880, when he died at the age of eighty. He married, first, Mary J. Daily, and, second, Lydia Harmon. One of his sons, Joseph, was in the late war and died in hospital.

John Williams, a tailor by trade, and a son of John Williams, who settled in West Providence township, moved from Bedford in 1802, and settled on the farm where his son George W., an old resident, now lives. A family named Wells had previously lived upon the place, and made a small improvement. Mrs. Wells and two of her children died here and were buried on the farm, their bodies wrapped in hickory bark, in place of coffins. John Williams married Nancy Dunlap, daughter of Capt. Richard Dunlap and Jane, his wife. Jane Dunlap, whose first husband was John Frazier, Esq., was the mother of the first white child born in Bedford county. Capt. Richard Dunlap was killed by the Indians near Frankstown, in 1781. The children of John and Nancy Williams were Richard D., Mary (Williams), Julia A. (Williams), Jane B. (Wheat), Hannah E. (Berry), Clarissa (McMillen), Samuel, David, Elizabeth (Barndollar), George W., Pamelia (Fisher), Harriet (Ellis). Samuel, George W. and Harriet survive. The father died in 1849, in his eighty-third year. Mrs. Frazier, above mentioned, was probably of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and came to Pennsylvania from Virginia with her husband, John Frazier, in 1755. Her maiden name was Jane Bell. (See history of Bedford borough.) She experienced all of the dangers of pioneer life, and, in addition, was held a captive by the Indians for eighteen months. By her first husband, John Frazier, she was the mother of one son, William, and four daughters. One of her daughters, Margaret, married a Didier, and thus the family became allied with one of the prominent and wealthy families of Baltimore. After the death of her husband, she married Capt. Richard Dunlap, by whom she had one child, Nancy, who became the wife of John Williams. Mrs. Dunlap spent the later years of her life at the home of her son-in-law, near Schellsburg, and there she died in 1815, aged about eighty years. She was a remarkably resolute and courageous woman, of exemplary life and Christian character. Her son, William Frazier, died in Harrison township, about the year 1844.

Jacob Hull, a blacksmith, came from Maryland to Napier township and settled east of Chestnut ridge, about 1800. Two of his sons, Benjamin and Gabriel, lived to a ripe old age. Gabriel Hull was a prominent citizen- a farmer and surveyor. About 1830 he built a woolenmill north of Schellsburg, which was operated for several years. Benjamin died, in 1868, in the seventy-ninth year of his age. He married Elizabeth, daughter of John Winegardner, an early settler. Mrs. Hull died in 1878, in the eighty-fourth year of her age. Her brother, Peter Winegardner, is still living and is now eighty-four. Benjamin and Elizabeth Hull were the parents of ten children, Elizabeth, John W., Peter, Abraham, David, Mary, Gabriel, Anna, Phoebe and Daniel. All are living, except Elizabeth, and reside in the neighborhood of their old home.

Philip Henry Hoover came from Frederickstown; Maryland, and settled east of Chestnut ridge, on the farm now owned by Peter Hull. He was a tanner, and carried on his trade here. He was the father of eleven children, of whom five sons and a daughter are now living. His son Philip, about thirty-two years ago, settled on the farm where he now lives. He has made extensive improvements on the place. A part of the homestead farm is now the residence of his son, George W. Hoover. Thomas, the oldest son of Philip Hoover, was a soldier of the late war.

Stephen Wonders, by occupation a farmer and weaver, came from York county with his family early. He was the father of Stephen, Sarah and John, living, and of Mary, Henry, Margaret and Susannah, dead. Stephen, now in his seventy-second year, resides in this township. His son, Daniel M., served in the late war in Co. H, 55th regt. Penn. Vols., and is now United States storekeeper and gauger in this county.

Joseph W. Sleek was a native of Bedford county and was the son of John Sleek, an early settler, who came from Maryland to Napier township. Joseph W. followed woolen manufacturing. He died, in 1855, on the place where his widow and his son now live. George H. Sleek, his son, is the proprietor of a gristmill elsewhere mentioned.

About 1815 Samuel Cuppett settled on Chestnut ridge, in St. Clair township. He was the progenitor of the Cuppetts, of New Paris and vicinity. He was born in Eastern Pennsylvania. After coming to this county he followed blacksmithing at Wolfsburg, and afterward in St. Clair. He was married in this county to Mary Albaugh, and was the father of David, Philip, Isaac, William W., Nancy, Mary A., Elizabeth and Charlotte. David, Nancy and Elizabeth are dead. William W. has resided on his present farm since 1849, and has witnessed many and great improvements in the appearance of the farming districts. He is the father of seven children living. His oldest son, John A., is a farmer and teacher.

The Mangus family were among the early residents of Napier. One of the sons, Peter, was a noted hunter fifty years ago. He was once shot through the body by the son of a neighbor, who mistook him for a wild animal. The boy saw something moving about in the bushes, and fired recklessly with the above result.

John S. Statler, an early settler of Schellsburg, came from Franklin county. He removed from Schellsburg to Stoystown, where he remained, following the mercantile business, until 1829. He then returned to this county, purchased the original Schell property and gristmill, and resided in this township until his death in 1862. Mr. Statler married Louisa A. Graham, and was the father of twelve children, eight of whom are living. Two of the sons, Dr. Samuel G. and Dr. James B., are well-known physicians of this county.

Allen Conley, from Mifflin county, bought and settled upon a farm in Napier township in 1810. His parents, Patrick and Elizabeth Conley, came to the county with him. Allen afterward married Margaret, daughter of Peter McGrew, an early settler from Adams county, and was the father of Maria (deceased), Eliza, Mary, Uriah, Isaiah, Margaret, Martin L. (killed in the late war), Lydia, Sarah and Martha (deceased). Mr. Conley filled various township offices. He died in 1854.

Griffith Mickle came from Adams county, and settled on Dunning's creek near Nelson's mill quite early. He was a blacksmith and an augermaker. His brother Robert, who settled on the Lucas place, came to the county a few years later. Robert died in Napier township. He was one of the first teachers of the free schools in this part of the county. His wife was Jane Gourley, and their children were John G., Samuel F. and Joseph, living; Fleming, James, Hugh and William, deceased; daughters, Sarah and Mary. The three surviving sons are well-known and progressive farmers.

G.W. Bowser is a descendant of an early settler of East St. Clair township. John Bowser, his father, settled in 1831 on the farm now occupied by George W. He was married to Mary Helm, and was the father of five children, all of whom are still living- Jacob, David, John, George W. and Elizabeth. Mr. G.W. Bowser has an excellent farm, with superior buildings and improvements.

A.B. Dennison, a prominent farmer of this township, was born in Bedford. In 1865 he moved to his present farm on Chestnut ridge, where he has effected great improvements, rendering his homestead one of the most beautiful and tasty in Bedford county. Mr. Dennison is a son of Robert Dennison, and is the only survivor of a family of four children. His father was one of the early tavernkeepers of this county. Robert Dennison married a daughter of Judge Abraham Martin, of Juniata Crossing. Abraham was the son of James Martin, one of the first associate judges of the county.

Daniel S. Furry has lived in this township since 1860, and on his present farm since 1881. His father, John B. Furry, was born in Morrison's cove, and was a minister of the Baptist Brethren church. Leon Furry, father of John, was an early settler in the cove, and was also a minister of the same denomination.

Joseph H. Mullin, son of the late Hon. George Mullin, was born in Bedford, and has always resided in this county. He is a prominent citizen of Napier township, where he has resided for twenty years.

Michael Hughes, a native of Ireland, was an early settler of Juniata township. His son, John J. Hughes, is the only member of the family now resident in Bedford county. He has resided in Napier township since 1872, being engaged, with his sons, in farming, milling and distilling.

Early in the present century there were scarcely any roads worthy of the name, and in the farming districts nearly all travel was performed either on foot or on horseback. Before the turnpike was built wagoning was rendered almost impracticable at certain seasons, on account of the depth of the mud.


The first gristmill in Napier township was John Schell's. It was probably built soon after he settled in the county in 1800.

Henry Schell built a fulling-mill near the spot where Colvin's gristmill now is, and it was among the earliest manufactories in the township. The first gristmill west of Chestnut ridge was built by John Blackburn, near the site of New Paris, and on the spot where Rogers' mill now is, as early as 1810.

A woolen factory was erected just below New Paris by Abraham Blackburn about 1833. Subsequently it was run by Joseph W. Sleek until his death in 1855. His son, George H. Sleek, built a gristmill on the same site in 1870. It was burned in 1873, and in 1874 Mr. Sleek's present mill was erected. It has a capacity for grinding from twenty to twenty-five bushels per hour.

Hughes' gristmill was built by John Hull in 1850. In 1872 it was purchased by J.J. Hughes, the present owner. The same year Mr. Hughes started a distillery, which he ran until 1879, when it was bought by Patrick Hughes. The distillery has a capacity of about seventy gallons per day, and the product meets with a ready sale.


Schellsburg is situated nine miles from Bedford, on the old turnpike leading from Philadelphia. It contains a population of about four hundred, and has superior church and school buildings. The town is substantially and neatly built. Many of the residences and business houses are of brick, and the general aspect of everything evinces that the people are possessed of wealth and taste.

Schellsburg was laid out in 1810. Its founder was John Schell, a man of enterprise and public spirit, who came to Bedford county in 1800, and purchased a tract patented as "Nine-Mile Town." In 1801 he bought an adjoining tract, and upon these lands the town is built. Schellsburg grew thriftily, and soon became the business center of a large territory of surrounding country, a position which it held until the building of railroads and the growth of neighboring villages changed the course of traffic.

By act of the legislature, March 19, 1838, the town was created the second borough in Bedford county.

Probably the first building erected within the limits of the town was a log cabin built by John Anderson, a surveyor, prior to Schell's coming. This cabin stood on the south side of the turnpike, very near the site of a blacksmith-shop now owned by George M. Colvin. The next house was built by Mr. Schell, and is now a part of the hotel of George M. Colvin. The first store and the first tavern were kept by John Schell. The first brick house in the town was erected about 1810, by Peter Schell, who occupied it as a store and residence. The building is now owned by Charles W. Colvin.

Among the early settlers of the town were John Clark, who started a tannery; Michael Reed, Esq., cabinetmaker and carpenter; the Dannaker family from Philadelphia; John Lindsey, a hatter, and Frederick Goeb, a German, printer of books and almanacs.

Henry Horn was the first blacksmith in the town. His brother Daniel afterward came here and learned the trade, and still lives here. He is now ninety-one years of age.

Peter Schell started a pottery quite early. Other industries, such as wagonmaking, harness-making, etc., were numerous and flourishing. The mercantile business probably reached its most prosperous period about 1856, when the town contained seven general stores, all doing a good business.

There are now three stores, a hotel, a hardware store, W.A.B. Clark's steam tannery, and a variety of minor industries represented in the borough.


John Schell, Sr., the founder of Schellsburg, was born in 1754 and died in 1825. He moved from Montgomery county to Bedford county in 1800, and soon became one of the leading business men of the county. To the town of Schellsburg he gave several lots of land to he devoted to religious and educational purposes. He also donated several acres for a church lot and cemetery on the hill west of the town. He and his sons were prominent members of the company that built the turnpike. Mr. Schell, after seeing his town well established, and on the road to prosperity, removed to his farm near by, and there passed the remainder of his days. He built the mill now owned by C.W. Colvin, which for some years was the principal mill in the western part of the county. Mr. Schell's sons were long identified with the interests of Schellsburg, and his grandsons are still among its most respected citizens. His family consisted of John, Peter, Abraham, Jacob, Henry, Joseph, Polly (now Mrs. Levy, of Davidsville, Pennsylvania, the only survivor), Elizabeth, who married Michael Reed, Esq., and Eve, who became the wife of Benjamin Blymyer. All of the sons lived in this county the greater part of their lives, except Joseph. Peter's sons, John S. (born in 1813) and Abraham, are now residents of Schellsburg.

George Colvin, of Scotch descent, came from Baltimore to this county, and was, by occupation, a farmer and hotelkeeper. He moved to Schellsburg about 1832, and died in 1848. His wife was Eliza McDowell, a sister of Charles McDowell, who founded the Bedford Gazette. Mr. Colvin's surviving children are William, George M., Charles W., Margaret (Robinson), Reuben R. and J.E. The sons all reside in Schellsburg and vicinity.

J.E. Colvin has followed the mercantile business in Schellsburg longer than any one else now in trade. At the age of fourteen he began clerking for Jonathan Butler, who, in 1845, sold out to George Colvin, Sr. Then for about six years George and J.E. Colvin ran the business, succeeded by J.E. Colvin and J.M. Robinson. In 1858, J.E. Colvin purchased Robinson's interest, and has since conducted the store alone, doing a very successful business. Mr. Colvin has been postmaster for the past twelve years.

James Z. Frazier, of Schellsburg, is a son of James Frazier, and a grandson of William Frazier, the first white child born in Bedford county. James Frazier followed hotelkeeping and lived in Somerset and Bedford counties. He died at Schellsburg. He married Elizabeth Ziegler, and was the father of ten children, nine of whom are now living. Mr. J.Z. Frazier is a merchant tailor, and has followed that business from youth to the present time.

Capt. Isaiah Conley was brought up on a farm, and followed school-teaching in early life. In 1854, he engaged in mercantile business at Schellsburg, which he followed three years. He afterward went into the army as a second lieutenant, was promoted to first lieutenant and then to captain. He was in the service three years and nine months. In 1866, he resumed the mercantile business, in which he still continues.

W.W. Van Ormer, dentist, came to this county in 1865 and located at Bedford. In 1867, he moved to Schellsburg, where he now has a large and successful practice. Dr. Van Ormer is a native of Juniata county, and learned dentistry at Mifflin. Dr. Van Ormer served in the late war and was three times wounded- twice at the battle of Antietam and the third time at Spottsylvania.


Schellsburg Lodge, No. 870, I.O.O.F., was instituted March 20, 1874, with the following charter members and first officers: M.D. Williams, N.G.; A.H. Egolf, V.G.; Asa Diehl, Secy.; P.E. Mowey, Asst. Secy.; A.W. Smith, Treas.; W.W. Van Ormer, A.W. Smith, J.H. Cessna, William Egolf, Isaiah Conley, George Banigh, W.H. Beaver, E.E. Dull, G.M. Williams, John E. Colvin, W.W. Smith, Joseph Hull, Benj. Egolf, William Garber, Cyrus J. Potts, J.A. Potts. Ninety-four members have been admitted since the organization. Present membership, fifty-six; value of lodge property, two thousand dollars.


New Paris is a young but flourishing town of about three hundred inhabitants, pleasantly situated in the midst of a very fertile farming region. It was incorporated as a borough September 7, 1882. The town now contains four stores, one hotel and four churches, and its future is very promising.

The first house in the village was built in 1846 by Wm. M. Blackburn. It is still standing in the northeastern part of the town (outside the borough limits), and is now the residence of Mrs. Joseph Mitchell. At the time this house was built all the land near it was wild and unimproved. Mr. Blackburn resided in the house until 1851, when he sold his estate, which included the greater part of time land on which the town now stands, to Daniel Raffensparger for six hundred dollars. Mr. Blackburn died July 2, 1851.

The next houses erected in the place were built by Jacob Coplin, in 1848, and Reuben Davis, in 1850. Neither of these are now standing. The following houses were built prior to 1860: Luther Davis, 1853; John W. Davis, 1856; Jacob Bowers, 1858; and John Wayde, 1859. From 1860 to 1867 four buildings were erected; in 1867, five; in 1868, one; and in 1869, five. Thenceforth to the present, one to three houses have been built each year.

Raffensparger, a blacksmith, was one of the first residents of the place, and bestowed the name New Paris upon the town by heading his books with that name.

Jacob W. Miller and Isaiah Conley opened the first store in 1856, in the building now the residence of Mrs. Harriet Coplin. The store was managed by Mrs. Eliza Richards. John Wayde purchased an interest in time business in 1857, which he continued to hold for eighteen years.

William Crissman started the first hotel, in connection with a store, in 1869. The present hotel of C.S. Crissman was built in 1871;

Thomas K. Blackburn, the leading merchant of the town, commenced business in 1874, on the opposite side of the street from his present place of business. In 1882 he erected a three story building, with residence adjoining, where he now carries on business.


St. John's Reformed Church.- This congregation was organized by Rev. John Dietrich Aurandt in 1806. The following heads of families were the original members of the church: John Schell, Sr., Tobias Hammer, Herbert Otto, Peter Schell (all of whom were church officers), John Mowry, Benjamin Bisel, John Fisher, Henry Darr, Abraham Whetstone, John Corley, John Winegardner.

The first church in which the congregation worshiped was built jointly by the Reformed and Lutheran congregations in 1806, and is still standing in the old cemetery, one-fourth of a mile west of Schellsburg. It is still used on funeral occasions. It is a log building, 25X30 feet (now weatherboarded), two stories high, with galleries on three sides, a wineglass pulpit, and a very large altar nearly in the center of the church. The building was not finished at once, but piecemeal; two hundred and twenty-five dollars and ninety-five and one-half cents in money was spent in its construction. For three years the church was without a stove, and for several years the members sat on logs instead of benches. The original membership of this congregation was thirty-seven. The present brick church in the borough was built in 1851 at a cost of twenty-two hundred dollars. It stands on land deeded to the church by John Schell, the founder of the town.

There are now eighty members in the church, and forty in the Sabbath school. The pastors of this congregation have been: Revs. John Dietrich Aurandt; John Henry Gerhart, 1811-29; George Leidy, 1835-43; Jacob Ziegler, 1844-9; Henry Heckerman, 1850-9; Joseph Hannabery, 1859-62; N.H. Skyles, 1863-73; W.D. LeFevre, 1873-7; H.S. Garner, 1878.

Lutheran.- St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran church, Schellsburg, Pennsylvania, was organized, as nearly as can now be ascertained, about the year 1800. There are no early records. Among the first officers were a Mr. Black and Christian Miller. The first pastors of which we can learn were Revs. Osterloe, Cayler and Yaeger; their successors, Revs. R. Weiser, D.S. Altman, Wm. Ruthrauf, J. Kast, Wm. Kopp, J.A. Kunkleman, B.H. Hunt, J.H.A. Kitzmiller, J.F. Dietrich, Abel Thompson, C.B. Gruver and J.H. Walterick. The first church edifice was the old Union church mentioned in the history of the Reformed congregation. The present Lutheran church was built in 1843, at a cost of about one thousand eight hundred dollars. Present membership, one hundred and ten; sabbath-school, eighty-five.

Presbyterian.- Schellsburg Presbyterian church was organized on May 18, 1833, and consisted of the following members, who, upon application to the presbytery, had been dismissed from the Bedford church: James Taylor Sr., James Taylor, Jr., John Taylor, Wm. Schell, Benj. Blymer, George Hunt, John Statler, Adam Small, Benj. Gibbony, Franklin Skinner, Wm. McMullin, Amos McCreary, Daniel Miller, Sarah Smith, Margaret Scott, Jane McVicker, Louisa Statler, Elizabeth, Jane and Sarah Scott, Hannah Hunt, Mrs. Gibbony, Mrs. Burns, Mary Clarke, Margaret and Mary Taylor, Lydia Taylor (now Mrs. Statler, the only one of these first members now living in Schellsburg), Margaret Hammer, Mrs. McCreary, Mary A. Whetstone, Catharine Burgess, Mary Dunnaker, Maria Taylor, Jane Schell, Rebecca Mickel, Elizabeth Wisegarver, Sarah Bixler, Griffith Mickel. Admitted on the day of organization: George Foy, Jacob Statler, David Pisel, Christina Benich, Ann Pierson, Ann M. Clarke.

Benj. Gibbony was ordained ruling elder May 18, 1833; John Smith and Benj. Blymer were ordained to the same office August 21, 1836.

Pastors: Rev. James G. Brackenridge, 1833-; D.D. Clarke, 1838-43; G.S. Inglis, 1844-8; W.L. McCalla, 1848-9; Thomas K. Davis, 1850-5; Daniel Williams, 1858-60; William Prideaux, 1861-3; J.H. Donaldson, 1864-7; John C. Wilhelm, 1869-71; E.P. Foresman, 1873-5; T. McNinch, 1878-82; George K. Scott, 1883.

The brick church of the Presbyterians was erected in 1834, at a cost of about two thousand two hundred dollars. It was the first church edifice built in the town. The congregation now numbers seventy-seven members.

Methodist Episcopal.- The Methodist society of Schellsburg is an old organization, but there are no records of its beginning. A house of worship was erected as early as 1840. About 1857, the society purchased from the United Brethren the house where they now worship. The earliest record is dated 1852, and Rev. J. Montgomery was then on the circuit. The present membership is forty-eight.

The New Paris Methodist church was built at a cost of about one thousand four hundred dollars. It was finished in 1882, under the pastorate of Rev. S.A. Crevling, and dedicated on July 16. A class, organized several years before, which met at the Hull (Free-will Baptist) church, became merged with the New Paris congregation when the church was built. The church is a part of Schellsburg circuit.

Free-Will Baptist.- The Free-Will Baptist church in the Hull neighborhood was organized June 12, 1828, by Rev. Williams, and then consisted of about forty members. In 1831 a house of worship was completed, and dedicated with services by Revs. Williams and Jordan. The first trustees of the church were Benjamin Hull, James Allison and John Rowser. Rev. David P. Low, the first pastor, was ordained in 1831. He was succeeded by Revs. Edward Jordan, Samuel G. Smutz, Patrick Reardon, Henry Cook, Sisson and others, Rev. Sisson being the last pastor. The church is now without regular preaching.

The first church building was burned by an incendiary in 1862. In 1866 the present edifice was erected, and in 1877 it was dedicated by Revs. Edward Jordan and A.F. Bryant.

The first interments in the graveyard adjoining the church were the bodies of two of Rev. D.P. Low's children. Two of Samuel Garrison's children were buried here soon after.

Millertown Church.- The church at Millertown was built as a union house in 1866, and was owned by the United Brethren, the Lutherans and the Evangelical denominations. In 1857 the Evangelical association purchased the house. The United Brethren still worship here. Both denominations have but few members. The first Evangelical preacher in this neighborhood was Rev. Strayer; the first United Brethren, Rev. John Sidman.

Evangelical.- The church of the Evangelical association, which now meets at New Paris, was organized at the house of Daniel Gephart about 1840, under the ministry of Rev. Jacob Bose. Daniel Gephart and John Oyler were class-leaders for many years. The class usually met at the house of Mr. Gephart until 1855, when a meeting-house was erected at New Paris. The church was dedicated with services by Rev. Daniel Long.

United Brethren.- The Bethel United Brethren church was built in 1871 at a cost of six hundred dollars. The congregation was organized in 1848 by Rev. John Sidman. It started with about twenty members. The present membership is about twelve, the number having been reduced by deaths and removals. Henry Taylor was the first class-leader in the neighborhood.

The United Brethren church at New Paris was organized in 1857, during the ministry of Rev. J.L. Baker, with a small membership. Mr. Baker held a series of revival meetings, and was very successful in gaining acquisitions to the church. In 1857 the members purchased an interest in the building belonging to the Evangelical church. In 1876 they erected a new church at a cost of two thousand four hundred dollars, which was dedicated by Bishop Edwards, of Baltimore. The house was erected while Rev. J.E. McClay was pastor. Present membership, seventy.

Reformed.- St. Luke's Reformed church at New Paris was organized by Rev. N.H. Skyles, assisted by Rev. W.M. Deatrick, in 1867, with nine members. The first church officers were: Conrad H. Otto and Conrad Otto, elders; B.F. Hoenstine and John G. Feight, deacons. The church edifice, a frame building, was erected in 1867, at a cost of twelve hundred dollars. The church numbers thirty-four members, and is a part of the Schellsburg charge.


In the year 1735 John Blackburn, the ancestor of the Blackburn family in this country, came to Pennsylvania and settled in Adams county, where he died in 1767. He had a son by the name of Thomas, who was born in Adams county in 1744; he was the progenitor of the family of which we write, and came to Bedford county in 1770 and settled in what is now known as Spring Hope. He had a son John, who was born July 5, 1769, and died in 1844. He married Sarah Dalton, who was born in Bedford county in 1770, and died in 1850. William Blackburn, a son of John, was the father of Thomas K. He was born October 22, 1793, and died August 1, 1873. He was reared to the vocation of a miller. His father was a farmer, which vocation he followed in later years. He married Julia Kegg, and reared a family of five children, two daughters and three sons: Catherine E., Sarah, Nicholas, Thomas K. and William T. Catherine E. resides in New Paris; Sarah and Nicholas are deceased; William T. is a farmer, living near the village of New Paris. Thomas K. was born August 3, 1840. He received a good common-school education, and studied surveying, which he made practically useful to himself and others until 1874, at which time he commenced merchandising in New Paris, where he is now doing business (1883). He married, in October of 1872, Miss Mary, daughter of Jacob and Harriet Coplin. They have three children- Sarah E., Simon R. and William E. It is unnecessary to speak of Mr. Blackburn as a business man and a citizen; he is known everywhere as an enterprising merchant and a valuable citizen. We present on another page an illustration of his store and residence.


Nearly a half-century ago there came to 281 a young man who, to appearance, had scarcely attained his twenty-first year, but his demeanor indicated that he was possessed of more than ordinary ability, and it would not have required a prophet to have foretold that in that young man were the elements of success, no matter what his vocation might be. The young man referred to was the gentleman whose name is at the head of this article. He had come from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, where he was born, October 11, 1813. His father, John Ealy, was also a physician, and a remarkably successful one. He died in his forty-first year, John Cyrus being at the time a mere lad. He reared a family of nine children- seven sons and two daughters. John Cyrus received a good common-school education, and studied medicine with Dr. William Rankin, of Shippensburg, and completed his medical education at the University of Pennsylvania, at Philadelphia. Having decided to make the profession his life's work, he came to Schellsburg, as before stated, and settled where he now resides. He is today the oldest practicing physician in the county, and but few men have led so active a life. At all times of the year he was to be seen riding on horseback, attending to the calls of the sick, and it is estimated that in the forty-five years of his practice he has ridden over eighty thousand miles. For a number of years his brother, J.H. Ealy, M.D., shared his practice. Six students have read medicine in his office. In 1840 Dr. Ealy was married to Miss Anna Maria Clark. She was born in Schellsburg, February 17, 1815. They have reared a family of seven children- three sons and four daughters. Two of their sons are graduates of the medical department of the Pennsylvania University. A.E. Ealy is a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Rev. T.F. Ealy, M.D., who was sent as medical missionary to the Zuni tribe of Indians in New Mexico, is now in practice with his father. John C., Jr., enlisted while he was engaged as a student, and served four years in the war of the rebellion. Of the four girls three remain at home- Mary E., Corrie H. and Ida M. Anna C. married Elwood Hanner, a merchant of Bedford. The mother of this family was the eldest of ten children. Her father, John Clark, was born in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Ealy is a sister of the late Hon. Rush Clark, of Iowa. He graduated from Jefferson College in 1853. In his twenty-fifth year he was elected to the Iowa legislature. He was a member of the representative branch of the legislature for several years. In 1863-4 he was speaker of the house, and the youngest man who ever occupied the chair. In 1876 he was elected to represent his district in congress and was reelected. He died April 28, 1879. But three of the family are living- Hon. George Clark, of Iowa City, W.W.B. Clark, of Schellsburg, and Mrs. Ealy. In closing this biography, it is only necessary to say that Dr. Ealy is a gentleman who has conquered success in all departments of life, and his career is worthy the emulation of young men of all classes.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 274-273, History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties

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