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PA-Roots

…bringing our past into the future

Somerset, Somerset County

Byadmin

Mar 28, 2015

On April 17, 1795, the General Assembly passed an act organizing the part of Bedford County west of the Allegheny Mountain into a new county named Somerset after the shire of Somerset in England. This same act authorized the Governor of the commonwealth to appoint five non-resident commissioners to meet in the town of Berlin to select the most favorable location for the county seat. The five appointed by Government Mifflin were: William Findley, John Badollet, James Chambers, Thomas Campbell and A. J. Dallas. On September 12, 1795, they selected the small village of Brunerstown, near the center of the county, to be the County Seat. On that same day, they changed the name from Brunerstown to Somerset, naming it after the county.

Adam Schneider, the owner of the land on the north side of the main street, and Peter Ankney, the owner of the land on the south side of the street, engaged Josiah Espy to make a new survey of the town. At that time Adam Schneider donated for the use of the new county the grounds occupied by the courthouse, the jail, the schoolhouse and the Lutheran Cemetery.

After it was made the county seat, the village population increased rapidly. Josiah Espey was appointed postmaster of Somerset on October 1, 1797. The first assessment list of the town citizens was taken in 1800. In March of 1804 it became a borough and its corporate officers sssumed the titles of “Burgess and Town Council of the Borough of Somerset”.

Early on Wednesday morning, October 16, 1833, a fire broke out in the house of Joshua F. Fox. It destroyed about one-fourth of the town leaving many families homeless. On May 4, 1872, the second great fire broke out in the stable of Francis E. Weimer. This fire destroyed 90 buildings and did property damages to the amount of $300,000. On May 9, 1876, the third great fire broke out in the Somerset Foundry. Many buildings were lost and the damages amounted to $125,000. Fortunately, no lives were lost in any of the fires.

On July 4, 5 and 6, 1895, a crowd estimated at 15,000 people assembled at the county seat to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the existence of Somerset County.

Somerset, the greatest business and highway center in the county, is connected by improved highways with Bedford, Cumberland, Confluence, Mount Pleasant, Johnstown and Stoyestown. It is connected with the Lincoln and National Highways by two different improved highways. A prosperous town, the population increased from 3,121 persons in 1920 to 4,393 persons in 1930.

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