Preface - History of Huntingdon County

Created: Monday, 21 March 2011 Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 February 2014 Written by Nathan Zipfel Print Email


The first suggestion of the preparation of local histories at the close of the first century of our national existence that came to the attention of the author of this work was made some four or five months before the opening of the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia. The purport of that suggestion was that such histories he sketches of the progress of towns and villages, to be delivered before assemblages of their citizens, respectively, on the then approaching anniversary. With a view to enlarging upon this idea, the author wrote a communication to the Philadelphia Press, which was also published in a number of other newspapers, recommending the preparation of histories of counties, and that they embrace sketches of subdivisions and minor localities. Shortly afterwards, action upon the subject was taken by Congress, and the following joint resolution was adopted by the Senate and House of Eepresentatives, and approved by the President on the 13th of March last:

"Be it resolved, etc., That it be and is hereby recommended by the Senate and House of Representatives to the people of the several States, that they assemble in their several counties or towns on the approaching Centennial anniversary of our national independence, and that they cause to have delivered on such day an historical sketch of such county or town from its formation, and that a copy of said sketch be filed in print or manuscript in the clerk's office of said county and an additional copy in print or manuscript be filed in the office of the Librarian of Congress, to the intent that a complete record may be thus obtained of the progress of our institutions during the first centennial of their existence."

This resolution was promulgated in proclamations of the Governor of Pennsylvania and the President of the United States, by the former on the 21st day of April, and by the latter on the 25th day of May, following its adoption. After reciting the resolution, the proclamations were as follows:


"Now, therefore, I, John F. Hartranft, Governor as aforesaid, do hereby favorably commend this resolution to the people and authorities of the various cities, counties and towns of this Commonwealth, with the request that wherever the observance of the incoming anniversary of our National Independence will permit, provision may be made to comply with the recommendation contained therein, so that these historical sketches may be made to embrace all information and statistics that can be obtained in relation to the first century of our existence as a Commonwealth."


" And whereas, It is deemed proper that such recommendation be brought to the notice and knowledge of the people of the United States; now, therefore, I, Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States, do hereby declare and make known the same in hope that the object of such resolution may meet the approval of the people of the United States, and that proper steps may be taken to carry the same into effect."

Although the histories of counties were thus in contemplation, the plan proposed was not a large one. The material of a historical character that could be condensed into a fourth of July address oration would necessarily be brief and unsatisfactory. It could include but a few of the most important outlines, and only such facts as in all probability had already been put into a shape to insure their preservation. That these histories could be made complete only by the adoption of a much more extensive plan, is apparent from the fact that this work has grown into a volume more pretentious in size than the author designed it to be in any other respect. In fact, to prevent its proportions from becoming too great, he was compelled to omit much that he originally intended it should contain. The annals of townships and boroughs, which he at first thought of giving in full, he has been obliged to shape according to the space that could be allowed to them. When it is remembered that there are in the county twenty-five townships and twelve boroughs, it will be seen that a sketch of each to the extent of eight or ten pages, would have filled this book, to the exclusion of the general history of the county, which, in the opinion of the author, at least, is of more importance. The sketches of a few of the townships may be regarded as sufficiently thorough. These were prepared before it was discovered that equal space could not be given to all of them.

As the author desired to act upon the suggestion he has mentioned, especially after it was given an official shape by the action of Congress and the proclamations of the Governor and President, and as he was unwilling to confine himself to the meagre limits proposed  by them, he has reconciled his own ideas as nearly as possible with  theirs, and has produced this volume, which he hopes will reach a larger public than could any history prepared and delivered in strict accordance with the plan contemplated by the resolution.

It is impossible for the author to specify the many persons to whom he is under obligations for courtesies and assistance in his researches for the material for this work. There are some, however, from Whom In- has received favors that deserve to be especially acknowl- edged. Several of these have been mentioned in the chapters for which they contributed information, while to the others he must here express his thanks. To Mr. B. F. Hippie he is indebted for a sketch of Cromwell township, to Hon. David Clarkson for a sketch of Trough Creek valley, to J. L. McEvaine, esq., for a sketch of Jackson township, to Dr. J. H. Wintrode for a sketch of Penn, to Robert McDivitt, esq., for a sketch of Oneida, to Dr. J. A. Shade for a sketch of Dublin, and to Samuel McVitty, esq., for a sketch of Shirley.

He is also largely indebted to all the editors and publishers of newspapers in the county. Their uniform courtesy and readiness to aid him whenever required, led him to believe that they appreciated the work in which he was engaged and encouraged him to persevere in its completion. The editorial profession, to be successfully pursued, requires, perhaps, a higher intelligence than any other, and the approval of the gentlemen connected with it has a peculiar significance. Those who have assisted him most are Messrs. J. R. Durborrow and J. A. Nash, of the Journal, Prof. A. L. Guss, of the be, S. E. Fleming, esq., of the Monitor, Messrs. Hugh Lindsay and Frank Willoughby, of the Local News and Col. J. M. Bowman, of the Mount Union Times.

Having endeavored to keep in view three of the purposes for which history should he written: first, to interest the general reader, second, to present facts and statistics for information and reference, and third, to preserve a record of the past, so that the scenes and the actors may not be forgotten, the author presents this work, hoping that he has not failed in any of these objects; that it will be received by the public in the same generous spirit manifested toward him during its preparation, that it will grow in value as time recedes, and that the few copies that may outlive the second century of American independence may be sought after by our descendants,, and may form the basis of a new and enlarged history of that portion of this free and enlightened people for whom Huntingdon county is to be a home and an abiding place.

M. S. L.
Huntingdon, Pa., Oct. 19th, 1876.