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Stoystown, Somerset County


Mar 28, 2015

Stoystown is one of the oldest towns west of the Allegheny mountains. It was formerly a place of considerable importance. Being situated on the old Pittsburgh turnpike, before the railroads diverted the lines of travel and built up towns along their routes, the industries and trade at Stoystown made it the principal commercial center of Somerset county.

Daniel Stoy, after whom the town was named, was the first settler in this part of Somerset county. He probably came from Lancaster county prior to the revolutionary war. He lived by hunting and fishing and the primitive agriculture of pioneer days. Stoy was the owner of considerable land, and among his possessions was a part of the tract on which Stoystown is situated. He was frequently obliged to leave his home in the woods and take shelter in the fort at Bedford, on account of the Indians. The savages once burned his cabin. He built the first building and sold the first town lots in Stoystown. A thriving settlement soon grew up around. A Connecticut traveler, journeying to Ohio in 1798, mentions Stoystown and Greensburg as being the only settlements of importance between Bedford and Pittsburgh. Daniel Stoy was a revolutionary soldier. He died in 1834.

The first store in Stoystown was kept by Joseph Buck, and the first tavern by George Graham. Jacob Oberholtzer was the first blacksmith, and John Garman the first wagonmaker, according to the testimony of the oldest residents. The first settled physician was Dr. Franklin Young. The first mail brought to the place was carried by John Kennedy.

P.B. Schlag, son of Henry Schlag, a German immigrant and cabinetmaker of Bakersville, has been in the mercantile business in Stoystown since 1878. He served as corporal in Co. C, 52d regt. Penn. Vols. Enlisted in September, 1864; discharged in July, 1865.

Capt. Adam Grimm, a native of Germany, came to this county with his father in 1829. He has resided in Stoystown since 1853, and is engaged in the business of saddlery and carriage-trimming. Capt. Grimm has followed his present business since 1840. He served in the late war, in Co. D, 142d regt. Penn. Vols. Enlisted in August, 1862; discharged in April, 1864. Held the rank of captain. He was wounded in the first day’s fight at Gettysburg. Afterward, being unable to perform active service, he was appointed quartermaster of the regiment. Capt. Grimm was treasurer of Somerset county, 1868—70.

Martin V. Sorber, eldest son of Joseph Sorber, of Stony Creek, has been engaged in the practice of dentistry in Stoystown since 1876. Previous to that date he followed mercantile business in Buckstown. He served four years in Co. I, 55th regt. Penn. Vols., in the late war, and held the rank of private, corporal, sergeant, lieutenant and captain successively.

J. E. Giffin, son of Ezra Giffin, a member of the firm of Bowman, Giffin & Kyle, merchants, followed school-teaching in early life. Since 1871, he has been engaged in mercantile pursuits. He is also a stock-dealer and an active business man. Mr. Giffin has been a member of the firm of Bowman, Giffin & Kyle since January, 1882.

W.A. McVicker, tinner, came to Stoystown and engaged in his present business in 1880. He had previously followed the same business four years in Claysburg, Blair county. Mr. McVicker’s father, James McVicker, was born on Dry Ridge, Bedford county, and followed tanning at Statler’s mill, near Schellsburg, from 1831 to 1843, when he removed to Somerset county. He was twice elected justice of the peace. In 1859 he returned to Bedford county. He married twice, and is the father of nine children.

Stoystown grew far more rapidly than is usual with country villages. The opening of the turnpike added much to its prosperity. On March 29, 1819, the village was incorporated as a borough. Some years later, through neglect of duty on the part of the borough officers, the charter was forfeited. Stoystown then became a part of the township, and so remained until 1838, when it was incorporated for the second time. The borough now has a population of three hundred and thirty. It is well and neatly built, contains four churches, and supports a good school.

The following is a summary of the present business interests of Stoystown (1884): Four general stores, one grocery, two hotels, one drugstore, one shoestore, two tinshops, one cigar factory, one harness-shop, three carriage and wagon shops, one cabinetshop, one foundry and machineshop, three blacksmithshops. The town has four physicians and one dentist.

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