Aldrich History Project

Chapter VII

Early Settlements

Early Settlements --Territory Divided -- The First Settlers -- Difference of Opinion -- The First Mill -- First Marriage -- First Child Born -- The Christening -- Other Settlements -- Settlement Down to 1810

The reader must bear in mind the fact that at the time the first settlements were made in this vicinity, there was no such thing as Clearfield county; and the settlers who came here prior to the year 1804. were locating either in Lycoming or Huntingdon county. The West Branch of the Susquehanna divided the counties, and every pioneer on the north or west side of that river was located in Lycoming county, while those on the south and east of the stream were citizens of Huntingdon county.

The question as to who was the first settler in the county, is now, and for many years past, has been in dispute. On this point the records of past writers differ materially. Those whose interests and associations are identical with the western territory of the county, claim that James Woodside was the original pioneer of the county, and that his settlement was made in the vicinity afterward known as Brady township, in the year I785; while the residents in the eastern and central parts have always understood and maintained that Daniel Ogden was the first settler of the county, and that his settlement was made near and just south of the present county seat on the bank of the Susquehanna, in the year 1797, or twelve years later than the date of James Woodside's settlement. This question cannot be settled at this time, nor will any attempt be made to do so. It is possible, of course, that Mr. Woodside could have been in the western part in I785, and the fact not known to the Ogdens. Between the points of location was then a dense forest, never touched by the woodman's ax; high hills also intervened, and the distance between the localities exceeded twenty miles. Another question arises: What constituted, at that time, a settlement? If occupancy, improvement, and cultivation with intention of remaining created a settlement, perhaps James Woodside, of 1785, and Daniel Ogden, of 1797, both, will have to yield this honor in favor of Captain Edward Rickerts, basing the assumption of his settlement upon the journal of James Harris, surveyor. The party on the 28th day of October, 1784, were surveying on Clearfield Creek, and on that day, says the journal, "five men by the name of Rickerts came to our camp, said they claimed by improvement a great deal of land up this creek, say they will not suffer it to be surveyed." Again, "on the 30th, Mr. Canan performed one of the surveys on the west side of Clearfield, extending it as high up as Rickerts claim." The reader will understand that we do not intend to assert, as a fact, that Captain Rickerts was the first settler of the county, but only to lay the fact before the public as bearing upon the question.

Captain Edward Rickerts was a native of Maryland, and while a boy emigrated with his father's family to Pennsylvania. At the age of nineteen Edward entered the service as an Indian fighter, and was considered one of the most experienced frontiersmen in the whole country. During the Revolution his services to the province were so valuable that he was given a captain's commission.

Having made the improvement referred to, and built a cabin, Captain Rickerts went for his wife and household goods, and returned with them in the year 1801. Upon his return he found the cabin occupied by Joseph Leonard and family. The two families lived there together during the winter following, but Rickerts having no claim to the land except by improvement, was afterwards compelled to vacate and settle elsewhere. Captain Rickerts died in the year 1813. The lands improved by him, above referred to, lay on Clearfield Creek, above the narrows, between places afterward known as Glen Hope and Coalport.

James Woodside first came to this county, or rather to Lycoming county, in the month of July, 1785, with a surveying party from Chester county. Several tracts were located by them, one of which, under warrant number five hundred and seventy, belonged to Woodside, and his land was located on the stream known as Stump Creek. James Woodside lived here many years, the only white resident among the few remaining Indians, who were quite friendly. He is described as a man of decidedly peculiar habits, having no family, and content to live alone in his forest home. A monument has recently been erected by the enterprising citizens of Du Bois, known as the "Woodside Monument," in honor of the memory of this venerable pioneer, now dead and gone, to which reference will be made in the chapters relating to that portion of the county.

Daniel Ogden, prior to his coming to this locality, was a resident of Cherry Valley, New York State. During the war that place was the scene of a massacre almost equal to Wyoming. All his property was destroyed, and one of his sons, David, was killed by the Indians. His wife, with the remaining children, were compelled to flee to the woods for safety, and remained there during the entire night. In the year I797 Mr. Ogden, with three of his sons, came to this place, ascending the West Branch in canoes. In this work they met with great difficulty. The channel in places was narrow and filled with rocks, rifts, and water-soaked trees, and they were obliged frequently to unload and drag their empty canoes over these places, which hindered their progress considerably. They passed above the old Indian town, and made a landing on the site now occupied by Matthew S. Ogden, about half a mile south of Clearfield court-house. There was but one break in the vast wilderness, the far-famed clear fields near the site of the Indian village of Chincleclamoose. These fields bore evidence of recent cultivation upon the arrival of the pioneer. After having made a clearing and erected a log house, which was done with some assistance rendered by the few Indians then here, Mr. Ogden returned to Cherry Valley and brought his family here. Of his eight children, none were born here. They were Abner, Jonathan, David, who was captured and slain by the Indians at Cherry Valley; Daniel, jr., Joab, Jehu, Matthew, and Margaret.

The Indians above mentioned were always referred to as the Cornplanter tribe. In fact there was no such tribe of Indians. Cornplanter was a warchief of the Seneca tribe, and had two wives and many children, but they all belonged to the Senecas. The family, and perhaps the chief himself, may have resorted hither, but this is unlikely, as the Allegheny was nearer and larger. A special reservation was made for the children and descendants of Cornplanter on the banks of the Allegheny, in Warren county, where about eighty of the Cornplanter descendants still reside, and where the "Cornplanter Monument" is erected.

Daniel Ogden, the father, was a strong, muscular man, a great hunter, and quite fond of joking. There was no grist-mill nearer than Lock Haven, and when meal was low, he used an old jointer-plane turned bottom up, and by drawing an ear of corn along the surface, managed to manufacture a sufficient quantity of meal to supply the family demand. His son, Matthew, being of an ingenious turn of mind, built a grist-mill in 1804 on Chincleclamoose Creek. The greatest novelty, in construction, that ever was erected in the country, was Mat. Ogden's mill. There was but one piece of iron in the whole structure, a spike used for a spindle. The bolter was made of capcloth, and geared to the water-wheel with a strap, but notwithstanding its rude construction, the mill supplied the grist for the neighborhood for some time, and until Robert Maxwell built the second mill on Anderson Creek some years later. Matthew Ogden married Elizabeth Bloom, daughter of William Bloom, in the year 1802. This was the first marriage ceremony performed in the county. "Squire" Arthur Bell officiated.

Daniel Ogden died in I819, at the advanced age of eighty-four years. His wife died in 1835, aged ninety-eight years. Several of the children returned to New York State. Daniel, jr., moved over to the Allegheny River. Joab went West, but returned and settled near James Woodside, in Brady township in 1804, and was the second white settler in that locality. He died there.

Arthur Bell came up the river from Big Island, in the same year, and soon after Daniel Ogden. He remained a few days with Ogden and helped put up his house, after which he went farther up the river, and commenced an improvement. Bell, who in after years was known as Squire Bell, came from Path Valley, Centre county. He, and his brother John, who also came about the same time, were veterans of the Revolution, having served on a privateer. Arthur was made justice of the peace in 1802. He was a great "fiddler," and exceedingly popular among the settlers. He was a tall, muscular man, of determined spirit, kind, and obliging, and the recognized leader in the settlement. Grier Bell, his son, was the first white child born in the county. He was so named after Rev. Grier, of Williamsport, who came to baptize him. Squire Bell used an old coffee-mill for grinding corn until Mat. Ogden's mill was done. He raised a family of several sons and daughters. Of his children William married a Miss Henry, and died, leaving a large family. His widow afterward married John P. Dale. Greenwood was a rheumatic, and suffered severely from that complaint. Grier, the first child born in the county. Letitia, who married James Young, and three other daughters who married respectively William, Thomas, and James McCracken, sons of James McCracken, sr.

John Bell, perhaps better known as "Little John," and "Demi-John," made a clearing on the north side of the river, on the farm now owned by Samuel Snyder. Whatever John lacked in industry and thrift, he made up in popularity. No "frolic" was complete without him, and hardly any joke was perpetrated without John being in some way connected with it.

Soon after the Bell family, came Casper Hockenberry and James McCracken with their families, and settled in the neighborhood. Their wives were sisters of Squire Bell's wife, and through the Squire's influence they were induced to make their settlement.

Thomas McClure, afterward known as "Squire" McClure, came to the county from Cumberland in 1799. He made an improvement, but did not bring his family until 1800. Squire McClure was one of the county commissioners at the time the contract for erecting the county buildings was made. In his family were two sons and four daughters.

About the year 1800 the people of the settlement discovered the old Indian path leading from Chincleclamoose to Milesburg, and this afterward was made the route for transporting goods to the place.

Along this path there came one day a stranger into the settlement, who took up her abode in the lower part of the borough, about on the spot where A. F. Boynton's barn stands. This person proved to be the Widow Lewis, who became familiarly known as "Granny Lathers." She located here and started a distillery, but about the time the War of 1812 broke out, Granny departed and was known no more, except through the exploits of her son David. This son was a wayward youth, and his success in minor offenses led him to attempt greater ones. He and two comrades, named Connelly and McQuire, were in the habit of stopping and robbing the wagons of Bellefonte merchants, till at last a vigilance committee of Centre county citizens, and one or two from this locality hunted them down. David was shot through the arm and captured. He refused to have the injured member taken off, so he died from the effects of the wound.

In the year 1801 settlement became more rapid, and this and the three years following witnessed the advent of several families whose names, through their own, or descendant's efforts, have become prominent in the affairs of the county.

Martin Hoover settled on the river, in what is now Lawrence township, in 1801. He came from York county. Hoover was a thrifty, energetic, and prosperous man. In 1814 he was sent to the Legislature; at another time he was county treasurer. He died in 1841, having raised a large family. His brother George was an early settler in the county, but did not come until some years later. He had a large family also.

Next to Hoover's on the river settled about this time Frederick Hennich, or Haney, as he was more commonly known. He built a grist-mill near the mouth of Montgomery Creek. Haney also built the first "coal ark" used on the river, but its life was short, as it "staved" on the river at "Rocky Bend."

Abraham Hess came from York county about 1803, and settled on Clearfield Creek, where he died. Hess was twice married, and had thirteen children. A propos the settlement of Haney and Hess, a good story is told on the latter. Rev. Samuel Stewart came to Hess's place to baptize some children, and in preparing the family for the solemnities of the ceremony, took a Bible from the table and began to catechize the head of the family. "Who built the first ark?" "Fred Haney!" innocently replied Mr. Hess, and the ceremony proceeded without further questioning.

Paul Clover made a settlement at the mouth of Anderson's Creek, about 1801. He remained here several years, keeping a "public house" or tavern, and did some work as blacksmith. Clover died of a cancer, after which his widow and children moved to Clarion.

Robert Askey came in and settled about this time a short distance below Clover's place, on the river near the fording place. He often helped people in crossing the river, and is remembered as a kind and obliging person. Askey took up some land about a mile and a half back from the river, and made the first clearings on the ridges. He served in the war under General Wagner. At the time of his death he had a large family, who have become numerous in the county.

Joseph Leonard, it will be remembered, occupied the cabin of Captain Rickerts in 1801, while the latter was away after his family. Leonard was of Irish descent, and came here from Huntingdon county. Soon after his coming, his sons, Isaac and Thomas, came. They had commenced an improvement below the Ox-bow on Clearfield Creek before Rickerts returned. Thomas remained here but a short time.

David Litz came from Centre county and settled on the river near the place where the old bridge was afterwards built. Here he made a good farm, and raised a large family. Litz run the first raft of logs down the river, in the year 1805. This was the first rafting done in the county.

Abraham Leonard was born in Ireland, and emigrated from there before the present century, and took up his residence in Huntingdon county. In 1801 he came to this place and located near the old toll-gate, on the Snowshoe and Packersville turnpike, about two miles east of the borough. He made his clearing and house, and brought his family here in March, 1804. His family then consisted of his wife and three children--James T., Thomas, and Elizabeth. Elizabeth married John Spackman. This children born Abraham after coming here were Rachel, who married Jonathan Hartshorn; Zenas, Hannah, who married William L. Moore; Robert, Agnes, who married Abraham Pierce, and Andrew.

John Owens and Robert Graham were neighbors of Leonard in Huntingdon, and came here about the time he came, but settled on the opposite side of the creek. The Owens became a numerous family in the county in after years. Graham had nine children, five of whom were born here. In 1813 Graham left the creek and settled near Plum Island.

Abraham Passmore came from Chester to Centre county, and was there some time before coming to this locality. He moved here and settled on the river in 1802. Passmore was a good blacksmith, and his coming was a great blessing to the residents here. He did the work for the whole surrounding country. In 1806 he left the river settlement and moved upon the ridge, north of the West Branch, where he opened and commenced a good farm. A number of his descendants are still living in the county.

On the site now occupied by the brewery, north of the railroad depot, in the year 1801 or '2, came Henry Irwin, a native of Ireland, with his wife and three children, John, Mary, and Joseph. Mary married Richard Shaw. The children of Henry Irwin born after his settlement here, were William, Henry, Margaret, who married Zacheus Mead; Jane Ann, who became the wife of John Spackman; James, and Nancy, who married Asahel Swan. The family moved here in a rudely constructed vehicle, something like a car, which was drawn by a steer over a road cut by Daniel Ogden. Henry Irwin became bondsman for a fellow-countryman named Conner, and as the latter did not appear when required, Irwin was compelled to sacrifice his property to meet the bond. He afterwards located about three miles down the river, near and below Wolf Run.

About this time Thomas Mapes came and located nearly opposite where Irwin first lived. Mapes came from the East. He married Elizabeth Ogden, and after several years moved to Ohio. Several of the descendants of the Mapes family still live in Lawrence township.

Prior to the Revolutionary War, Daniel Turner resided in Westmoreland county. He became largely interested in lands in this county, and frequently visited the locality before making a residence here. The first visit of Turner to these parts was in the year 1794, after which time many surveys were made in his name, and his wife's also. In 1802 Turner settled near the head of Clearfield Creek, and made a farm there. Before he came here he had many conflicts with the Indians, but he was a bold, daring, and powerful man. One day in the year 1813, while hunting near John Ferguson's, he had a "rough and tumble" conflict with a panther, but succeeded in getting the animal by its hind legs and holding it in such a manner that it could not bite or claw him, until Joseph Turner came and dispatched this dangerous foe with a tomahawk. At another time he wounded a panther, and the animal retreated to a cave-like place between two large rocks. Turner followed, and by attaching a sword-like bayonet to the muzzle of his gun, stabbed the panther to death Few men would care to tackle a wounded panther in a place like that. Turner resided in Bellefonte before he came here and after he left Westmoreland county. While in the former place he was an extensive operator, but misfortunes came and swept away his property, and he was induced to move to this country.

About the time that these settlements were being made in the central part of this county, there were attempts being made still further down the river, near the Centre county line.

In 1801 Jacob Wise, sr., a native of Berks county, but of late a resident of Penn's Valley, commenced an improvement on the Moshannon.

During the same year Robert Anderson, an Irishman, and a man named Potter also settled in the vicinity. The place occupied by Anderson was afterward known as the Hawkins property. Potter settled on the old State road a few miles north of the creek. None of these three remained long, but left for the Bald Eagle Valley. Potter sold his right to Nicholas Kline, and it was afterwards disposed of to one Shimmel, a Hessian, who served under the British during the war. Shimmel made a clearing and built a distillery on the land.

John Kline came to the county as early as 1802, and made an improvement on lands owned by Montgomery, a Philadelphian, not knowing whose they were. Montgomery came soon after to see the settlers along the creek, (Montgomery) and found Kline on his land, but would not compel him to move on account of the improvement he had made. He sold the land to Kline at a reasonable price. Kline bought another tract from a German named Jacob Anspach, a bachelor, in the year 1805. This was afterward occupied by George Philip Guelich.

Hugh Frazier, a Scotchman, lived near the mouth of Wolf Run as early as 1802. Frazier had served in the Indian war. He died during the dysentery epidemic in 1824, leaving four children--two sons and two daughters.

John Carothers came here with his wife from Centre county, about this time. He was a weaver, shoemaker, and hunter. His wife was equal to him in hunting, and was often seen dressed in a hunting skirt, felt hat and moccasins with gun and ammunition, out in the woods after game. Carothers settled down the river about three or four miles, near the place called for him, Carothers's Bend. They moved from here to Sunbury, where John Carothers was afterward found frozen to death with a jug of whisky near him.

Alexander Read was born in Maryland and came to Center county in 1794. In the year 1802 he came to Clearfield and occupied the land on the ridge in Lawrence township where the stone house now stands, the property of James Mitchell. There were two families of this name, but spelled differently. The Reeds did not come here until 1811. The heads of these families bore the same christian name, i. e., "Alexander," and to distinguish them in conversation, they were known as "Red Alex." and "Black Alex."--the former applying to "Read," and the latter to "Reed." These appellations were given them on account of the color of their hair. The children of Alexander Read were, Sally, who married William Dunlap; Alexander, jr., Thomas, Rachel, who married Alexander B. Reed; John R., James A., and Amos. Marriage alliances were frequent between these families for several generations, and they were often mistaken for one family, but such was not the case. Alexander Read was commissioned by Postmaster-General Gideon Granger as postmaster at "Reedsboro," the place on the ridge above referred to, and he was the first postmaster in the county. The office was kept there until about 1819.

In 1803 Squire Arthur Bell sold the upper part of his farm to Benjamin Fenton, a resident of Half Moon Valley, Centre county. That year Fenton cleared three acres, put in seed for vegetables and wheat, built a cabin, and then returned to the valley for his family. During the winter he brought part of his goods, and in April following the family came. With them also came a Scotchman named Alexander McNattin. Elisha, Thomas, George, and Mary Fenton were children of Daniel Fenton.

William Bloom was born in Germany, and came to this country during the latter part of the last century. He first located in New Jersey, but soon came to Centre county, and in the part thereof known as Penn's Valley. In the year 1803 he moved with his family to this county, and located in what is now Pike township, about three-fourths of a mile above the mouth of Anderson's Creek. Here he and his sons cleared one hundred acres of land. The children of William Bloom were Anna, who married Thomas Price; Isaac William, Elizabeth, who married Matthew Ogden; John, Peter, Benjamin, Mary, who became the wife of Matthew Caldwell; Abraham, Sarah or Sally, who married Richard Rowles, and James. The Blooms have been the most prolific of any of the families in the county, and among them have been numbered some of the foremost men of the county; and although they have never sought social or political preferment, there has been hardly a year during the last three-quarters of a century that some member or descendant of the original stock has not been prominently before the public, either in county or township affairs.

A short distance above the place where William Bloom settled, and at the point called the "pee wee's nest," there lived the family of Robert Cresswell. They were poor, and had a large number of children. Cresswell died after a few years, and the balance of the family moved to Huntingdon. Robert Cresswell's funeral was the first that occurred in the county.

A little further down, below Robert Askey's place, lived Benjamin Jordon, about opposite Wright's nursery. Jordon was a Marylander by birth, and had served in the Revolutionary War. He came from Centre county, and there became related by marriage to General Potter. Jordon, by his large and powerful figure and military bearing, became quite a dignitary in the settlement. The greatest day in those times was "general training," and these were held at Jordon's place. He had five children. His three daughters married, respectively. Thomas, Alexander, and James Read.

Benjamin Jordon had a brother Hugh, who came here about the same time, 1803, and settled an the ridge near the place afterward known as the "Irishtown Settlement." Hugh Jordon was made associate judge of the county, and Jordon township was named in his honor.

Opposite Benjamin Jordan's place lived George and John Welch. George Welch had a family but John had not. In crossing the Alleghenys John Welch was frozen to death. William C. Welch, who became prothonotary, and died while holding that office, in 1850, was a son of George Welch.

John Ferguson was born in Ireland, and came to this country in the year 1775. He enlisted in the Revolutionary service, and served under General Sullivan. He was at Freeland Fort when captured by the Indian and British forces under Captain Butler. He was also engaged on the frontier, guarding against Indian depredations. Ferguson settled on the north side of the river, just below the site of Lumber City, in the year 1803, but did not bring his family here until the next year. On this place John Ferguson lived and died. He was the father of thirteen children, and many of his descendants still live in the county.

About this time Samuel Ewing located about one and one-half miles below the mouth of Muddy Run, near the place known as "Ewing's Bottom," but he made no farm there.

William Brannian located about this time on the south side of the creek, near the Ox-bow, and shortly after Major Evans located in the vicinity. The latter made some improvement and built a house about two miles above Turner's place, but did not bring his family here. Hugh Gallagher came in about then, occupied the house, and made a good farm there.

Lands were cleared on the river near "Ardery's Dead-water," and a settlement made about 1803 by Peter, or, as he was more familiarly known, "Pete" Young. Young kept a "tavern" on his farm, and operated a distillery. He built the greater part of the Milesburg and Le Boeuf road, east of Chest Creek. His brother William also made a clearing on the river, but sold to George Wilson in 1805.

In the same year another settlement was made in the Moshannon neighborhood by Conrad Kyler. He was a weaver by trade. Conrad Kyler died in I816, leaving a family. They remained and built up a considerable estate. Many descendants of the family are still living in the east part of the county.

Leonard Kyler commenced a clearing in the Hard Scrabble locality, but not until a couple of years after Conrad came there. He soon sold out, however, to his brother John, and went to Bald Eagle Valley. The hamlet of Kylertown was named for these families.

Peter Erhard, a German, made a settlement on the creek, near where New Millport is now located, in 1803. He cleared land and erected a distillery. Peter was drowned in 1827. His sons built mills here at an early day, and from that fact the place was afterward named New Millport.

Nicholas Straw made an improvement on the river in 1803.

Samuel Fulton first visited this locality in or about the year 1797, with a party of surveyors. From that time to the date of his settlement he was a frequent visitor, and became fully acquainted, not only with the country, but the inhabitants as well. Fulton was an Irishman, and immigrated to this country with his mother in 1794. On one of his visits here in 1805, he purchased lands about three miles down the river; the next year he married, and in 1807 be became a resident of the county. Fulton was one of the characters of the settlement. He was short, stout, full of life and activity, and always ready to crack a joke; yet, withal, he was one of the leading men of the county. He was made the first prothonotary of the county; was afterward deputy sheriff, county treasurer, commissioner, and clerk of the commissioners. Fulton had four sons, James, Moses, Washington P., and Thomas, and five daughters, who married respectively, Archibald Shaw, Joseph Shaw, Richard Shaw, William Fullerton, and Thompson Reed. During the early civil history of Clearfield county, no person occupied a more prominent position than Samuel Fulton.

In 1804 George Hunter, an Irishman, came from Huntingdon county, and built a cabin on the farm afterward occupied by John J. Reed. Hunter is remembered as an exceedingly whimsical fellow, odd in his habits and conversation. He died on the place he had improved.

At about the time of the organization of Clearfield as a county, March, 1804, families came and settled much more rapidly than before the erection was made.

Among the many who then found homes by purchase, or grant, was the family of Thomas Forcey, a former resident of New Jersey. Forcey settled at "Polk's Bottom," now on the site of Reedsville. His children were Jane, who married Peter Owens; Catharine, who married George Connelly; Tamer, who married Samuel Tate; Nancy, who became the wife of Seth Maines; Matthew, and Thomas who died during infancy. Matthew Forcey married Margaret Munay, who bore him seventeen children.

Joseph Patterson came from Penn's Valley about 1805, accompanied by his son Robert. Patterson made spinning-wheels, and Robert taught school.

John Moore was a relative of the Pattersons and arrived here about the same time. He occupied a place adjoining Patterson's. He died in 1821.

William Tate came up from Huntingdon county in 1804. His log house stood near where the Catholic Church stands. In 1808 Tate's house was burned, and his family barely escaped with their lives. The Tates became a prominent family in after years. The children were Dinah, Samuel, Lydia, Joshua, Martha, George, William, Levi, and Jesse.

Daniel Ogden, Frederick Haney, and Matthew Ogden had each built mills prior to 1805. Daniel Turner soon after built one on Clearfield Creek; and in 1808 Robert Maxwell erected a mill near Curwensville, and William Kersey had a saw and grist-mill at Kersey's settlement about the same time. James and Samuel Ardery built a mill near where the old Clearfield bridge afterward stood in 1808. Benjamin Hartshorn built a tannery on the place where he settled in 1806. This is now Pike township, not far from Curwensville. This was the first tannery built in the county.

From this time, 1805, until 1812, the influx of families became so rapid that their settlement cannot be accurately fixed, nor can the names of all be recalled.

Benjamin Hartshorn came in 1806, bringing his wife and six children. He crossed the river near Jordon's, and cut his way to his forest home with an ax, making a road sufficient to allow the passage of a wagon. After he had made a clearing and built a cabin, the tannery above mentioned was built. At the time of his death in 1821, Mr. Hartshorn had a family of eight children, viz.: Margaret, Anne, Jonathan, William, Benjamin, Nancy, Eliza, and Mary Ann.

So far as its settlement is concerned, that part of the county known as the "Grampian Hills," can be divided into districts--one part lying toward the river, and that still further back on the hills. Here the land was taken up by John Bennett, Nun England, William Hepburn, Joseph Spencer, Francis Stephens, Samuel Cochran, and other. From 1805 to 1808 this was claimed by Charles Smith, but he never made his claim successful.

Samuel Cochran was an escaped slave, and came here from Lycoming county in 1804. He first settled near the Fergusons, where he built a cabin and made an improvement. Later he took up about three hundred acres on the "hills," made good buildings, and cleared up the farm. His house was frequented by the teamsters on the Kittanning road.

James Gallagher made a settlement and cleared the land for a farm a short distance above where Glen Hope now stands. And about the same time, 1806, Hugh Carson made a clearing near the place afterward known as "Beccaria Mills."

The family of James Moore located on the "hills" at an early day, near where Pennville now stands. Religious meetings were held at Moore's house by Rev. Daniel Stansbury, a Methodist minister, in 1806. These indulged meetings, as they were called among the Quaker element, were about the first religious services held in the county.

Soon after the Moores, came other families, among them the Johnsons, David Wall, Caleb Davis, Gideon Widmire, Jonathan Wain. Samuel Johnson afterward moved to Ohio, leaving part of his family here. David Wall moved over into Brady township.

James Moore, jr., became wealthy and was one of the most highly respected men in the county. Through his instrumentality religious services were held by Rev. Linn, of Bellefonte. These services were usually held in Squire McClure's barn. James Moore, jr., acted as agent for Fox & Roberts, who owned a large tract of land in the northwest part of the county. Besides James, jr., were two other sons of James Moore, sr., Jeremiah and Andrew. The three brothers built and operated both saw and grist-mills.

The locality to which frequent reference has been made, known as the "Grampian Hills," was so named by Dr. Samuel Coleman, concerning whom, prior to his coming here, but little is known. He never spoke of his parentage, birth, or early life. He was supposed by many persons to have been of noble birth. He named the place "Grampian Hills," from a resemblance it bore to the Grampian Hills in the old country. The firm of Hopkins, Griffiths & Boone had a large tract of land in that vicinity, and they gave Dr. Coleman three hundred acres to induce him to settle there. Not liking the profession for which he was educated, Coleman accepted the offer and took up the land, came here and made his first clearing in 1808. As understood, Dr. Coleman named his farm the "Grampian Hills," and that the whole vicinity has ever since been so designated. Dr. Coleman had one slave with him.

About the time that Dr. Coleman settled on the "hills," Joseph Boone came. The latter was a friend of Coleman, but the circumstances of his coming here were quite different. He had been sheriff at Washington, and while acting in that capacity, a prisoner, named John Nicholson, was given him in custody. Having the liberties of the jail yard, Nicholson managed to escape. This made Boone and his bondsmen liable, and to meet that liability his property was sold. Boone then came to Williamsport, and from there went to Philadelphia. At the last named place he found Nicholson. In order to make Boone some reparation for the loss he and his sureties had sustained, Nicholson transferred to them a number of warrants, which were afterward surveyed for Hopkins, Griffiths & Boone, upon lands in this county. In the early part of the summer, in the year 1809, Boone and his family arrived at "Squire" McClure's, having come by boat from Williamsport. From the Squire's place they proceeded to their future home on the hills. Boone commenced the erection of a mill on Bell's Run, but never completed it. He was chosen prothonotary and recorder of the county while living here. He returned after several years to Philadelphia, and practiced law.

Abraham Goss, an old Revolutionary veteran, came and made a settlement about 1806 at the place known as "Goss Settlement," in (now) Decatur township.

Among the many names of old settlers in the county, not before mentioned, were those of Nicholas and Henry Kephart, Valentine and David Flegal, Absalom Pierce, John Gearhart, Benjamin and Nicholas Smeal, and others probably forgotten.

James Rhea made an improvement in the Erhard neighborhood in 1806, but remained here only a few years.

In 1808, Thomas Jordon, brother of Benjamin, came and made a farm. James McNeil came during the same year, and located near "Fruit Hill." McNeil was appointed justice of the peace by Governor Shultz, and held the office until justices were made an elective office.

About this time came the McKees, the Dunlaps, the Cathcarts, the Anns, the Feltwells, and others.

The Scotch-Irish settlement, so called, was near Fruit Hill, but the people who first settled there were not Scotch-Irish, as the name would seem to imply. There were the Thompsons, Johnstons, Currys, Blooms, Pattersons, Jordans, Williamses, Wises, and Swans.

Robert Collins, whose name became popular in the county, came here in 1805, about the time the county buildings were erected. Collins died in 1855, leaving a large family of descendants.

Jacob Spencer, sr., with his family, came to the county in 1808. He purchased land from Benjamin Jordon between Pennville and the river.

William Feltwell came to the county in 1806, as agent for a large tract of land known as the Morgan tract, in what is now known as Jordon township. In 1809 a settlement was made at the mouth of Muddy Run, by the family of William Alexander.

In the vicinity of Mount Pleasant settlements were made prior to 1810 by the Smileys, Dillons, Goons, and the Feltwells.

Robert and Samuel Hagerty purchased and improved lands at the mouth of Muddy Run, as early as 1809, but did not bring their families here until some years later, about 1813.

Ignatius Thompson made an improvement and came to reside on the ridges in 1810. He was of Irish parentage, and moved here from Huntingdon county.

Moses Norris also came in the same year and settled on the Ridge. He made a fine farm.

About the same time John Rowles, the progenitor of a large family, located on the ridge. His sons were great hunters and woodsmen.

Archibald and Robert Shaw, brothers, of Scotch-Irish descent, took up lands on the west side of the river, about one and a half miles below the county seat, in the year 1810. From Archie have descended some of the most enterprising citizens of the county. His children were John, Richard, Robert, Archibald, jr., Margaret, who married William Daniel; Barbara, who became the wife of William Leonard; Mary, who married James Fulton; and Jane, who became the wife of Andrew Welch.

Robert Shaw, the pioneer, remained here but a short time. His children were June and John, by his first wife; and by his second wife, Robert, jr., Archie and Adam.

David Hanna and one of his sons came to the county early in the present century, and was soon after followed by the rest of the family. In the family were thirteen children. David, the eldest son, was a surveyor, and at one time justice of the peace.


Source: Pages 50-64, History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., Publishers, 1887.
Transcribed May 1999 by Richard L. McKee for the Clearfield County Aldrich Project
Contributed for use by the Clearfield County Genealogy Project (

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