Establishment of Somerset County & the County Seat

Created: Monday, 14 September 2015 Last Updated: Monday, 14 September 2015 Written by Administrator Print Email

The history of Somerset, in point of area, takes rank as the sixth county in the vast commonwealth of which it forms a part. It contains one thousand one hundred and two square miles, or seven hundred and five thousand two hundred and eighty acres of land. Its boundaries are the State of Maryland on the south, Fayette and Westmoreland counties on the west, Cambria county on the north, and the mother county, \'\'old Bedford," on the east.

The Allegheny mountain was the western boundary line of the territory acquired from the Indians by the treaties of 1754-8. By the treaty of 1768 the Indians agreed to a further cession of lands extending from the Allegheny mountain westward to the western boundary line of the province. The provincial authorities never attempted to exercise jurisdiction over any part of the province until after the Indian title had been extinguished by treaty and purchase. Hence, from the year 1758, that part of the present county of Somerset lying east of the Allegheny mountain - Allegheny, Northampton, Southampton, Larimer and Greenville townships formed part of Cumberland county, and from 1768 until 1771 all of the region embraced by Somerset county today was called Cumberland county. During the twenty-four years succeeding March 9, 1771, the lands now within this county – Somerset - constituted part of the county of Bedford.

By an act of the state legislature approved April 17, 1795, entitled "An act for erecting part of the county of Bedford into a separate county," Somerset county was ushered into existence.

The taxes collected in 1795 in Brother\'s Valley, Turkey-Foot, Quemahoning, Milford, Elk Lick and Stoney Creek, the six townships which composed the original county of Somerset, were paid into the treasury of Bedford county. But soon after the passage of the act above quoted, Gov. Thomas Mifflin appointed (as officers of the new county) James Wells, Abraham Cable and Ebenezer Griffith associate judges, and Josiah Espy prothonotary, register and recorder, clerk of courts, etc., whose commissions were dated April 17, 1795. Other county officers were not sworn in until after their election or appointment in October of that year. They were: Thomas Kennedy, sheriff; John Fletcher, John Read and John Leech, county commissioners; Abraham Morrison, cornmissioners\' clerk; Josiah Epsy, county treasurer, and David King, coroner.

In September, 1795, the commissioners appointed by the governor, in conformity with the provisions of section ten of the act for erecting part of the county of Bedford into a separate county, performed their task, and at its conclusion sent forward the following report to the secretary of the commonwealth:
SIR: We, the undersigned commissioners appointed by his Excellency, Thomas Mifflin, Esq.,
governor of the State of Pennsylvania, agreeable to an act of the General Assembly passed April 17,1785,
have viewed the County of Summerset, and, taking the Centre and other important circumstances under
view, do unanimously fix on the Town of Summerset (formerly called Brunerstown) as a proper place for
the Seat of Justice for said County. We are, sir,
Yours truly, &c.,
William Findley,
John Badollet,
James Chambers,
Thomas Campbell,
A. J. Dallas, Secretary

On the same day, September 12, 1798, the town of Somerset was plotted, when Abraham Schneider, the proprietor of the northern half of the town, donated, for the perpetual use of the county, grounds now occupied by the courthouse and jail.

(Source: extracted from the History of Bedford, Somerset & Fulton Counties, PA; 1884)