Bible Records
Census Records
Centre County Genealogical Society
Centre Lines
Church Records & Religion
Family Home Pages
Family History Books
Family Reunions
Favorite Links
Funeral Homes
Land Records & Deeds
Lookups & Researchers
Mailing List
Message & Data Boards
Military Resources
Neighboring Counties
Occupations & Industries
Photo Album
Research Facilities
Starting Out
Townships & Boroughs
Villages & Place Names
Vital Statistics Records
Wills & Estates

Centre County History

By John Blair Linn

from History of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1883) by William Egle

The act for creating parts of the counties of Mifflin, Northumberland, Lycoming and Huntington into a separate county, to be called Centre," was approved February 19, 1800. [Dallas' Laws' vol. i,:541.] The bounds of its territory then commenced on the river, opposite the mouth of Quinn's run (improperly called in present maps "Queen run"); thence running nearly due south to the month of Fishing creek (where Mill Hall has been built since); thence a course a little south of east; to the north-east corner of Haines, including Nittany valley; from which point they followed the present boundaries of the county to the Moshannon creek; thence to the mouth of the Moshannon; thence down the river to the place of beginning.

The act creating Clinton county (21st June, 1839, P. L., 362) carved from Centre the territory now embraced in that part Of Chapman and Crugan townships south of the river; all of Beech Creek, Porter, and Logan, and nearly all of Greene, Lamar, and Bald Eagle townships, in the former county.

The northern line of the purchase of 1758 ran from a point on Buffalo creek, a few miles west of Mifflinburg, Union county, due west, passing through where Bellefonte now stands, to the east side of the Allegheny hills, where the boundary deflected southerly to the State line at what is now the intersection of the bounds of Bedford and Somerset with the latter. About the half, then, of the present territory of Centre was within the purchase of 1758, and that the more tillable portion. "So cautious, however, were the proprietors at this period, of of~cntling the Indians, by making surveys beyond the line, that the most positive instructions were given the deputy surveyors on this head; and as the li''e was not run' nor its exact position known, the end of Nittally mountain appears to have been assumed as a station, and a west line from thence presumed to be the purchase line." [Charles Smith, 2 Smith Laws, 122.]

Cumberland county had been formed January 27, 1750, including all the western portion of the Province. All the southern half of Centre county therefore was within the bounds of Cumberland until the following changes took place: first, Bedford county was erected March 9. 1771, and that part of Frankstown township, which included the territory forming now the southern portions of Harris, Ferguson, Half-Moon, Taylor, and Rush townships, came within the bounds of Bedford, and remained there until Huntingdon was erected, September 20, 1787; second, Northumberland county was erected March 21, 1772, embracing the present territory of the county north of the Bedford county line; slacking with reference to the lines between Bedford and Northumberland, ascertained in pursuance of the act of 30th of September, 1779. [Dallas' laws, vol. i. page 803.] On the 19th of September, 1798 Mifflin county was formed [Dallas' Laws, vol. ii., 718], including all the southern half of the territory of Centre except the part in Huntingdon county above referred to, and Gregg, Penn, Haines, and Miles townships, as now constituted' which remained in Northumberland.

On the 22d of September, 1766, William Maclay made the first survey in Penn's valley, then in Cumberland county, a reservation of the Proprietaries in the name of Henry Montour, eight hundred and twenty acres, called the Manor of Suctoth, described as on the head of Penn's creek, above the great Spring and northwest of it. It adjoins the Malack survey (where Spring-Mills now stands) on the north, in Gregg township, and is called for by all the surrounding surveys. On the 23d and 24th of September, 1766, Mr. Maclay surveyed what is now known as the "Manor," for the Proprietaries, embracing one thousand and thirty-five acres in what is now Potter township, described as "near the Indian path leading from the head of Penn's creek to Old Frankstown, where the waters seem to turn to Little Juniata." Its bounds ran south-westerly from the tract on which Potter's Fort tavern stands, eight hundred and fifty-seven perches, or nearly three miles, its width varying from one hundred and fifty-eight perches on the east, to two hundred and fifty-four and a half on the west. The Haines' surveys, running from the mouth of Elk creek, along Penn's, and for nearly a mile up Sinking creek, were made by the same surveyor in September and October, 1766; a few others were made for General Potter (now in Gregg township), in 1766. A number of surveys, commencing with the John Chandler, immediately west of Woodward, were made in October, 1766; but the larger portion of the valley surveys do not date beyond 1774.

On November 5, 1768, the upper half of the present territory of Centre was secured by purchase at Fort Stanwix from the Indians. It was all within Cumberland until the erection of Northumberland, in 1772. It being within Charles Lukens' district, the oldest surveys were made by Lukens and his deputies, in the summer of 1769. The "officer's surveys," extending from Lock Haven to Howard were made by Charles Lukens, in March and April, 1769. The (Griffith Gibbon, on which Bellefonte now stands, was surveyed July 20, 1769, and the Peter Graybill (on which Milesburg is now built), on the 18th of July, 1769, then known as the "Bald Eagle Nest."

The valley surveys, commencing near Stover's, in Brush valley, and running up to Gregg township, were all made by William Maclay, for Colonel Samuel Miles, in 1773. A manuscript journal of Richard Miles probably indicates the surveying party: "April 20, 1773, started for Shamoken, from Radnor, Chester county, in company with James and Enos Miles, Abel Thomas, and John Lewis." They passed up the river by way of Muncy Hill and Great Island; then went up the Bald Eagle, returning by way of the Narrows, down through Buffalo valley.

Elk, Penn's, Pine, Sinking, and Bald Eagle creeks had their names as early as l766 Marsh, Beech, Spring, Fishing, Moshannon creeks, Wallis, Davis, and Buffalo runs have their names in 1769. Scull's map of April 4, 1770, indicates the position of the Eagle's Nest, Great Plains, Big Spring, now Spring Mills, the Indian path from "the Nest," up Buffalo run to Huntingdon.

In 1712 the territory was nearly all included in Buffalo and Bald Eagle townships, Northumberland County-Buffalo, extending up to the forks of Penn's creek, thence by a north line to the river, and Bald Eagle beginning at the forks, thence by a north line to the river, thence up the same to the county line, etc. At May sessions, 1774, Potter township was erected out of Penn's, Buffalo, and Bald Eagle, bounded eastward by a line from the top of Jack's mountain, by the four-mile tree in Reuben Haines' road in the Narrows, to the top of Nittany mountain, thence along the top thereof to the end thereof, at Spring creek, on the old path, thence south or south east to the top of Tussey's mountain, thence along the county line to the top of Jack's mountain, etc. At February sessions, 1790, the name of Potter township was changed to Haines.

The southern portion of Centre county was settled by emigrants from Cumberland valley as early as 1766, and before that. The settlers of the northern portion came in by way of the Bald Eagle creek in 1768 and 1769. Among the earliest settlers of this northern portion of the county were Andrew Boggs, who built his cabin on the Joseph Poultney, opposite Milesburg, Daniel and Jonas Davis, who settled a little farther down the creek, William Lamb, Richard Malone, etc.

Among the Revolutionary soldiers of Centre county were Philip Barnhart. who died April 3, 1843; Lawrence Bathurst; Nicholas Bressler, died in April ]843; Isaac Broom, wounded at Germantown; John C. Colby, a deserter from the Hessians; Jacob Duck, died in 1836; Peter-Fleck, Peter Florey, of Haines township; Jacob Fliescher, Ludwig Friedley, John Glantz, Garrison, of Spring; Henry Herring, William Hinton, of Boggs, who died in 1839, aged Ninety-one years; Christopher Keatley, of Potter township; William Kelly, John Kitchen, Daniel Koons, David Lamb, died April 19, 1837, and who was with Arnold at Quebec; Mungo Lindsay, of Col. Miles' regiment; William Mason, of Spring township; John McClean, of Potter; Jacob Miller, of Walker; Henry McEwen, of Potter, who was also at Quebec; Alexander McWilliams; Isaac McCamant, of Ferguson; John F. Ream, Even Russel, Adam Sunday, Valentine Stober; Nicholas Schnell, of Potter, Nicholas Shanefelt, of Harris; William Taylor; Joseph Vaughn, of Half-Moon; David Wilson, of Bald Eagle; Joseph White, of Boggs; Neal Welsh, of Half-Moon. Robert Young, of Walker, of Lowon's company at Boston, in August, 1175; also James Dougherty, who was made a prisoner at Quebec, and afterwards served in Washington's Life-Guards until the end of the war.

In 1776 Penn's valley was pretty numerously settled, and Potter township, which then embraced that valley, was represented in the county committee of safety by John Livingston, Maurice Davis, and John Hall. A company of associators from it and the Bald Eagle settlement, in March, 1776, was officered as follows: Captain William McElhatton, First Lieutenant Andrew Boggs, Second Lieutenant Thomas Wilson, Ensign John McCormick. A Presbyterian church was organized in East Penn's valley, and a church built at Spring Mills at a very early date. the first regular pastor whom we have any account, was Rev. James Martin, who commenced his labors there April 15, 1789; he died June 20, 1795, and is buried at Spring Mills. He was the ancestor of the Bell family of Blair county.

On the 8th of May, 1778, the Indians killed one man on the Bald Eagle settlement, Simon Vaugh, a private of Captain Bell's company; he was killed at the house of Jonas Davis, who lived a short distance below Andrew Boggs, opposite Milesburg. Robert Moore, the express rider, who took the news, stopped at the house of Jacob Standiford to feed his horse, where he found Standiford dead who, with his wife and daughter, were killed and scalped and his son, a lad of ten or eleven years of age, missing. Standiford was killed on what was lately Ephraim Keller's farm, three miles west of Potter's Fort. Henry Dale, father of Captain Christian Dale, who helped bury them, said that Standiford and four of his family were killed. They were buried in a corner of the fields on the place, where their graves may still he seen.

On the 25th of July, 1778, General Potter writes from Penn's valley, that the inhabitants of the valley are returned, and were cutting their grain. Yesterday two men of Captain Finley's company, Colonel Brodhead's regiment, went out from this place in the plains a little below my fields, and met a party of Indians, five in numbers whom they engaged; one of the soldiers, Thomas Van Doran, was shot dead, the other, Jacob Shedacre, ran about four hundred yards, and was pursued by one of the Indians; they attacked each other with their knives, and one excellent soldier killed his antagonist. His fate was hard, for another Indian came up and shot him. He and the Indian lay within a perch of each other; these two soldiers served with Colonel Morgan in the last campaign." (At Burgoyne's capture.) James Alexander, who in after years farmed the old Fort place, found a rusted hunting knife near the spot of the encounter. Two stones were put up to mark the spot, still standing on William Henning's place, near the fort.

In 1792, when Reading Howell published his map, his stations on the main road were Hubler's, Aaronsburg, McCormick's, now Spring Mills, and Potter's. Connelly's is marked in Nittany valley, Malone's opposite the Nest, Antes' below. Miles' in Brush valley, Willy brook (Willy-bank), name of a stream issuing principally from Matlack's spring, and running, into Spring creek ; the Buffalo Lick, on Buffalo run, on the place now owned by Mrs. Samuel H. Wilson's heirs. Aaronsburg was then the only town in the territory.

In the years 1770 or 1771 Reuben Haines, a rich brewer of Philadelphia who owned the large body of land above referred to, cut a road from the hollow just below the Northumberland bridge, up along the south side of Buffalo valley, through the narrows into Penn's valley. In 1775 a road from the Bald Eagle to Sunbury, along the west side of the Susquehanna' was laid out, and the main road through Buffalo valley was pushed up as far as the Great Plain. The turnpike era commenced March 29, 1819, with the incorporation of the Aaronsburg and Bellefonte turnpike road company and the Youngmanstown and Aaronsburg turnpike road company. Inland navigation, with the incorporation of the Bald Eagle and Spring Creek navigation company, April 14, 1834. Railroads, with the incorporation of the Tyrone and Clearfield railroad company, March 23, 1854, and the Tyrone and Lock Haven, February 21, 1857

The development of the iron interest of Centre commenced with the purchase by Colonel John Patton, of the tract upon which he erected Centre furnace, now in Harris township, and twenty-eight other contiguous tracts from Mr. Wallis, May 8, 1790. He built Centre furnace in the summer of 1792.

The next adventurer in that business was General Philip Benner, who bought the Rock Forge place of Mr. Matlack, May 2, 1792, and in 1793 erected his house there, together with forge, slitting, and rolling mill.

In 1795 Daniel Turner erected Spring Creek forge, of which nothing remains now but the site, and in 1796 Miles Dunlap & Co. had Harmony forge, on Spring creek, in operation.

In 1837 the following iron works were in operation: On Bald Eagle creek: Hannah furnace, owned by George McCulloch and Lyon, Shorb & Co.; Martha furnace, owned by Roland Curtin; a new furnace, owned by Adams, Irwin & Huston. On Moshannon and Clearfield creeks: Cold Stream forge, owned by Mr. Adams; a forge and extensive screw factory, owned by Hardman Phillips. On Spring and Bald Eagle creeks: Centre furnace and Milesburg forge and rolling mill, owned by Irwin & Huston Eagle furnace, forge, and rolling mill, owned by Roland Curtin Logan furnace, forge, rolling mill, and nail factory, owned by Valentine & Thomas; Rock furnace and forge, owned by the heirs of General P. Benner; forge owned by Irwin & Bergstresser. On Fishing creek and Bald Eagle creek: Hecla furnace and Mill Hall furnace and forge, owned by John Mitchell & Co.; Howard furnace, owned by Harris & Co.; Washmgton furnace and forge, owned by A. Henderson. Also, in the county: Tussey furnace, owned by Lyon, Shorb & Co.; not now in operation; and a furnace owned by Mr. Friedley. In all, thirteen furnaces making annually eleven thousand six hundred tons pig metal; ten forges, making four thousand five hundres tons blooms; three rolling mills, manufacturing two thousand three hundred tons into bar iron and nails.

Aaronsburg was laid out by Aaron Levy, of the town of Northumberland, on the 4th of October, 1786. The town plan is recorded at Sunbury of that date. Aaron's square, ninety feet in breadth, extending from East street to West street, was reserved for public uses.

Bellefonte was laid out by Messrs. James Dunlop and James Harris, upon the Griffth Gibbon tract, which they purchased of William Lamb in 1795. The first members of town council were William Petriken, Roland Curtin, J. G. Lowrie, Thomas Burnside, Andrew Boggs, and Robert McLanahan. It was incorporated March 8, 1806. The first water works were erected in 1808. On the 18th of March, 1814, another act of incorporation was passed, including Smithfield in the borough, and repealing the former one.

Milesburg was laid out by Colonel Samuel Miles, on the Peter Graybill tract, known as the Bald Eagle's Nest, in 1793. The old Indian town stood on the right bank of the creek about a mile below where Spring creek empties into the Bald Eagle. Many applications of 1769 have reference by distance or otherwise to the Bald Eagle's Nest. The Joseph Poultney, on the opposite bank of the creek, is described "as near the fording, including his improvement, and opposite the Nest." Milesburg was incorporated March 3, 1843.

The "Bald Eagle's Nest" was the residence of an Indian chief of that name, who had built his wigwam there between two white oaks. Bald Eagle was the chief of a Muncy tribe, and commanded the party which made the attack upon a party of soldiers who were protecting some reapers on the Loyal Sock, on the 8th of August, 1778, when James Brady was mortally wounded. He was killed at Brady's Bend on the Allegheny, fifteen miles above Kittanning, by Captain Samuel Brady, in the early part of June, 1779. [Appendix to Pennsylvania Archives, page 131.] It was a place of resort by the Indians even after the Revolutionary war. Shawanee John and Job Chillaway, friendly Indians, made it their rendezvous. The former, who belonged to Captain Lowdon's company, which fought in front of Boston, died at the "Nest" many years after the war. All traces of the village have long since disappeared.

Philipsburg was laid out before Centre county was erected. Henry and James Phillips were the proprietors, and the first house was built by John Henry Simler, a Revolutionary soldier, in the year 1797. Simler enlisted in Paris, in 1780, in Captain Claudius de Berts' troop, Colonel Armand's (Marquis de La Rouarie) dragoons, and was at the taking of Cornwallis; he was wounded in the forehead and eye by a sabre. He died in Philadelphia in 1829.

William Swansey, Robert Boggs, and Andrew Gregg, the trustees specified in the act of Assembly erecting the county, met at Bellefonte on the 31st of July, 1800. A conveyance for one-half of the tract of land on which the town of Bellefonte was laid out, including a moiety of the lots in said town as well as was those sold or those not sold, was presented by James Dunlop and James Harris, Esqs, according to their bond given to the Governor. It was agreed that the sale of the lots should be indiscriminate, and the money arising therefrom should be divided equally between the proprietors and trustees; and that on the first Monday of September, the residue of the part undivided in the town should be laid out in lots of two and a half acres each, and sold at public auction. It was also agreed that it would be injurious to the interests of the inhabitants to erect the prison in the public square, and that application should be made to the Legislature to vest the trustees with discretionary power to erect the prison in any other part of the town. On the 1st of September they met again, articled with Colonel Dunlop and Mr. Harris for payment of one half of the proceeds of lots to be sold, and contracted with Hudson Williams to build the prison on such lot as should be designated. It was to be thirty feet long and twenty-five feet wide in the clear. Among other specifications "there shall be an apartment in the cellar for a dungeon; said dungeon shall be twelve feet by nine in the clear, covered above with hewed logs laid close together, under the plank of the floor, and a proper trap door to let into the dungeon." The contract price for the jail was one thousand one hundred and sixty-two dollars.

The first court held in Bellefonte was the quarter sessions of November, 1800, before Associate Judges James Potter and John Barber, when, upon motion of Jonathan Walker, Esq., the following attorneys were qualified: Jonathan Walker, Charles Huston, Elias W. Hale, Jonathan Henderson, Robert Allison, Robert F. Stewart, William A. Patterson, John Miles, David Irvine, W. W. Laird, and John W. Hunter.

The January sessions, 1801, were also held by Judge Potter and his associates; constables appearing: for Upper Bald Eagle, William Connelly; Lower Bald Eagle, Samuel Carpenter; Centre' John McCalmont; Haines, Philip Frank; Miles' Stephen Bolender; Potter, Thomas Sankey; Patton, Christian Dale. The following persons were recommended for license as inn keepers: John Matthias Beuck, Aaronsburg; Robert Porter, Franklin; Thomas Wilson, Centre; James Whitehill, Potter; and Philip Callahan, Aaronsburg. The name of Upper Bald Eagle was changed to Spring township, and Ferguson erected, beginning at the line of Bald Eagle and Patton, near Robert Moore's, including his farm, thence through the Barrens, to include Centre furnace and James Jackson near Half Moon, the line to be continued until it strikes the Huntingdon county line, thence along same and Centre till it strikes Tussey mountain, thence along the mountain to Patton and Potter and part of Bald Eagle, to the place of beginning.

The first grand jury was assembled to April sessions' 1801, when the president judge, James Riddle, appeared on the bench for the first time in the county. The names of these jurors were William Swansey, Esq., James Harris, Esq., Philip Benner, Richard Malone, John Ball, David Barr, William Kerr, Esq., Michael Bolinger, Esq., James Whitehill, William Irvine, John Irvin, William Eyerly, Esq., James Newall, Samuel Dunlop, Alexander Read, General John Patton, John M. Bench, James Reynolds, Michael Weaver, and Felix Chrisman.

Additional persons recommended for license: Hugh Gallagher and Benjamin Patton, Bellefonte; Jacob Kepler and John Benner, Potter; John Motz and William Lowervvine, of Haines.

The first case of notoriety, particularly from the array of counsel concerned, was George McKee vs. Hugh Gallagher, 18th August, term, 1801. McKee kept a tavern in a stone house, on the lot where Thomas Reynolds now resides; Gallagher, in a long frame house, which stood in the lot now occupied by D. G. Bush, Esq. A wagon loaded with whiskey in barrels did not stand over night in front of McKee's, as some one took out the pinnings, and it rushed like the swine of old, down the declivity into the creek, and the whiskey floated off with its waters. Hinc illae lacrimse.

The case, however, was slander. Gallagher said George McKee stole Samuel Lamb's saddle bags. The counsel who appeared for McKee were Foulke, Reed, V. J. Dunlap, S. Duncan, Wallace, T. Duncan, Culloh, Thompson, Miles, McClure, Kidd, Irwin, Allison, and Patterson. For Gallagher appeared Stewart, Walker, Henderson, Rose, Houston, Hastings, Clark, Hall, Laird, Bonham, Gemmill, Burnside, Boggs, Orbison, Cadwalader, Canan, Smith, Carpenter, O. Dunlop, Dean, Hepburn, and Bellas. After exhausting all the tactics known to lawyers in attack and defence, the case was finally marked settled.

The first capital case was that of negro Dan, alias Daniel Beyers, who murdered James Barrows, on the night of the 15th of October, 1802, in Spring township. The jury returned with their verdict a valuation of him; "valued him at two hundred and fourteen dollars." He was executed on the 13th of December, 1802, by James Duncan, Esq., then high sheriff. A large crowd, consisting of forge-men and other original characters, had assembled to witness the execution, and a company of horse, under the command of Captain James Potter (General Potter, 2d), was drawn up near the scaffold. With the first swing the rope broke, and negro Dan fell to the ground unhurt; with that the crowd shouted "Dan is free," and headed by Archy McSwords and McCamant, they made a move to rescue him. Sheriff Duncan, who always carried a lead-loaded riding whip, drew it promptly, and struck McSwords a blow that might have felled an ox. McSwords scratched his head, and said, "Mr. Duncan, as you are a small man, you may pass on," with that Captain Potter's company made a charge, and William Irvin, of the troop, levelled McCamant with a blow of his sword, cutting his cap-rim through. Mean while William Petriken stepped up to Dan, and patted him on the shoulder, saying, "Dan, you have always been a good boy, go up now and be hung like a man," which he did.

The next capital case was that of James Monks, convicted of the murder of Reuben Guild, before Judge Huston, December 1, 1818. He was executed on Saturday, January 23, 1819, by John Mitchell, Esq., high sheriff.

For several years prior to 1820, the people of Centre county were kept in constant terror by the operations of a bold band of highwaymen and counter- fetters, among whom were McGuire, Connelly, and David Lewis. Lewis was a son of Lewis Lewis, a former deputy surveyor under Charles Lukens, who removed to Centre county, then Mifflin, in 1793. They operated along the road through the Seven mountains, their last adventure being the robbery of a wagon loaded with store goods belonging to Hammond and Page of Bellefonte. An armed party from Bellefonte tracked them to the house of Samuel Smith at the junction of Bennett's and Driftwood Branch, where a battle occurred, resulting in the mortal wounding of Connelly, who died July 3, at Karskaden, near the mouth of Bald Eagle, and of David Lewis, who died in the Bellefonte jail, in July 1820.

Twelve miles south-west of Bellefonte, in College township, is located the State College. As originally proposed by the Pennsylvania State Agricultural Society, and organized under its auspices, it was named the Farmer's High School of Pennsylvania. The act of incorporation is dated April 13, 1854. In 1862 its name was changed to "The Agricultural College of Pennsylvania." In 1867, the institution having then come under the law of Congress of July 2, 1862, its course of instruction, in order more fully to comply as compeled to extend educational requirements of that act, which directs that the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanical arts, in such manner as the Legislature of the State might prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life." The scope of the institution being thus greatly extended, the name was again changed (January, 1874) to "the Pennsylvania State College." In 1863 the Congressional land grant was accepted by the State, and subsequently the script for the 780,000 acres of land granted, sold and properly invested as an endowment fund for the State College. Since the year 1872 the annual income from this fund has been $30,000. The college property consists of a tract of four hundred acres, of which one hundred are set apart as a model and experimental farm, and worked separate from the main college farm of three hundred acres, though under the supervision of the professor of agriculture. The main building is a plain substantial structure of limestone, seated on a pleasant rise of ground and is two hundred and forty feet in length, eighty feet in average breadth, and full, five stories in height, exclusive of the basement, ample lodging rooms chapel, library, society halls, laboratories, cabinets, and refectory for three hundred and thirty students, the whole well heated and supplied with water. A large campus for exercise and drill and extensive pleasure grounds adjoin the buildings. A full college course is pursued, consisting of instruction in agriculture, chemistry, geology, botany, surveying and engineering, telegraphy, physics, language, and literature, combined with military instruction. No charge is made for tuition. The faculty consists of twelve professors, of whom Rev. James Calder, D.D., is president. The State College is at present in a flourishing condition.

ORGANIZATION OF TOWNSHIPS.-The original townships of Centre county were Upper Bald Eagle, Lower Bald Eagle, Centre, Haines, Miles, Patton, Potter, and Warrior Mark. In January, 1801, the name of Upper Bald Eagle was changed to that of Spring township, and at the same session Ferguson was erected, including Centre furnace. January session, 1802, the name of Warrior Mark was changed to that of Half Moon. On the 26th of March, 1804, Clearfield and M'Kean counties were erected and placed under the jurisdiction of the several courts of Centre county. Accordingly at August session, 1804, M'Kean was erected into a township called Ceres, and Clearfield into a separate township called CHINKLACAMOOSE, by the Quarter Sessions of Centre county; and roads laid out in those counties by the Court in 1806. At August sessions, 1807, Bradford and Becaria townships were erected in Clcarfield county.

At January sessions, 1810, Howard and Walker townships were erected out of Centre township, and the latter name abolished. Howard was called after the great philanthropist Howard, and Walker after Judge Walker, at the request of the inhabitants.

At November sessions, 1810, Sergeant township was erected in M'Kean county, and called after Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant. At January sessions, 1813, Sergeant township was divided into Ogden, Walker, Cooper, Burlington, and Shippen. At November sessions. Chinklacamoose, in Clearfield, was divided, and Lawrence and Pike erected.

At April sessions, 1814, Rush and Jenner townships were erected out of Half Moon, the former called after Dr. Benjamin Rush, the latter after Dr. Jenner. (On 26th January, 1815, the name Jenner was changed back to Half Moon.) In August of same year Spring township was divided, and one part called Allen, after Captain W. W. Allen, of the sloop Argus; the other Covington, after Leonard Covington, who fell at Williamsburg. At April session, 1815, Allen was changed to Boggs, after the late Robert Boggs, and Covington back to Spring.

In April, 1817, Gibson was erected out of Lawrence, in Clearfield, and called alter Colonel George Gibson. In August Bald Eagle was divided, and the part adjoining Walker called "Lamar, after Major Lamar, who fell at the surprise at Paoli, in the midst of the British on the retreat. His last words were, "Halt, boys, give these assassins one fire." He was instantly cut down by the enemy. Shall he not be remembered by a grateful country? He shall. In honor of this martyr in the cause of his country, we the within township, Lamar. N. B. The above order of Major Lamar was distinctly heard by Colonel Benjamin Burd." Signed by Jonathan Walker and James Potter. Major Marien Lamar commanded a company in Colonel Philip de Haas' battalion in the campaign of 1776, in Canada; was promoted Major of the Fourth Pennsylvania Line, and killed at Paol, September 20, 1777.

On the 27th of March, 1819, that part of the township of Bald Eagle begining at the river opposite the mouth of Quinn's run, thence along the division line of the counties of Centre and Lycoming, one mile, thence by a direct line to tile mouth of Sinnemahoning creek, was annexed to Lycoming, and attached, Dunstable and Chapman townships. April, 1819, Logan appears among the list of townships. No record of its formation can be found.

January 25, 1821, Sinnemahoning township erected in Clearfield county.

Gregg township was erected November 29, 1826, and called for Hon. Andrew Gregg; Harris out of Potter, Furguson, and Spring, April 27, 1835, and called after the late James Harris. Huston appears among the list of townships in April, 1839; no record of its erection can be found. Snow Shoe was erected out of Boggs, January 31, 1840. Marion, August 26, 1840, out of Walker. Penn appears amoung the list of townships in April, 1845; Liberty was erected August 98, 1845; Taylor, January 27, 1847, out of Half-Moon; Worth, January 27, 1848, out of Taylor; Union November 25, 1850, out of Boggs; Burnside in April, 1857, and Curtin, November 25, 1857.


President Judges.-James Riddle (Centre being annexed to to the Fourth District of which he was then. 1800, President Judge); Jonathan Walker, comissioned March 1, 1806; Charles Huston, commissioned July 1, 1818; Thomas Burnside, commissioned April 20, 1826.

Associate Judges.-James Potter, commissioned October 20, 1800, died 1818; John Barber, commissioned October 22, 1800; Adam Harper, commissioned December 1, 1800, died November, 1827; Robert Boggs, commissioned December 2, 1800; Isaac McKinney, commissioned January 8, 1819; Jacob Kryder, commissioned December 10, 1827.

Deputy Attorney-Generals.-Thomas Burnside, January 12, 1809; William W. Potter; Gratz Etting, July 17, 1819 ; James M. Petriken; Ephraim Banks; James MacManus, February 28, 1833.

Prothonotaries.-Richard Miles, October 22, 1 800; John G. Lowrey, May 10, 1809; John Rankin, February 2, 1818; John G, Lowrey, February 8, 1821; John Rankin, January 22, 1824 ; William I. Smith, March 3, 1830; James Gilleland, March 23, 1831; George Buchanan, January 12, 1836.

Registers and Recorders.-Richard Miles, October 22,1800; William Petriken, May 10, 1809, re-commissioned February 2, 1818; Franklin B. Smith, February 8, 1821; William Pettit, January 22, 1824; William C. Welch, January 12, 1836.

Sheriffs.-James Duncan, October 28, 1800; William Rankin, October 2, 1803; Roland Curtin, November 14, 1806; Michael Bolinger, November 11, 1809; John Rankin, November 6, 1812; William Alexander, December 1, 1816; John Mitchell, October 23, 1818; Joseph Butler, October 22, 1821; Thomas Darkness, Jr., November 17, 1824; Robert Tate, December 19, 1827; William Ward, October 22, 1830; George Leidy, October 31, 1833; William Ward, October 29, 1836.

Commissioned Deputy Surveyors of Districts of which its Territory formed part.-John Canan, September 20, 1791; James Harris, October 19, 1791; Frederick Evans, November 9, 1791; Joseph J. Wallis, January 18, 1792; Daniel Smith, August 10, 1795. William Kerr, May l1, 1816; Joseph B. Shugert, June 4, 1826.

First Justices of the Peace.-Bald Eagle (Lower)-Matthew Allison, October 22, 1800. Bald Eagle (Upper)-William Petriken, October 22, 1800.

Centre.--William McEwen, October 22, 1800; William Swansey, October 22, 1800; Thomas McCalmont, October 22, 1800.

Haines.-Michael Bolinger, October 22, 1800; James Cook, October 22, 1800; Adam Harper, October 22, 181)0; John Matthias Beuck, December 6, 1800

Patton.-Thomas Ferguson, October 22, 1800; David Killgore, June 5, 1801; Charles P. Trezizulny, June 5, 1801.

Potter.-William Kerr, October 22, 1800; William Early, December 1, 1800.

The first County Commissioners were John Hall, David Barr, and Matthew Allison; Commissioners' Clerk, William Kerr.

Biographical Notices.-The space accorded Centre county will only admit of some notice of the early prominent characters of the county, leaving to the county annalist the names of Charles Huston, Thomas Burnside, W. W. Potter, Bond Valentine, John Blanchard, H. N. M'Allister, and others, ornaments of the bench and bar.

General PHILIP BENNER was born in Chester county. His father was an active Whig of the Revolution, was taken prisoner by the British, and imprisoned. Philip, then a youth, took up arms under General Wayne, his relative and neighbor. When he went forth to the field, his patriotic mother quilted in the back of his vest several guineas, as a provision in case he should be taken prisoner by the enemy. After the war he became a successful manufacturer of iron, at Coventry forge, in Chester county. He removed to Centre county in 1792. At that early day the supply of provisions for the works had to be transported from a distance, over roads that would now be deemed almost impassable, and a market for his iron was to be found alone on the Atlantic seaboard. He succeeded and enjoyed for several years, without competition, the trade in what was termed by him the "Juniata iron," for the Western country-a trade now of immense importance. He held the rank of major-general in the militia of the State, and was twice an elector of President of the United States. He was a Democrat throughout his life. The borough of Bellefonte bears testimony to his enterprise and liberality. He adorned it by the erection of a number of dwelling houses and aided in the construction of works to give it advantages which nature denied. He established the Centre Democrat, in 1827. General Benner died at his residence, in Spring township, July 27, 1832, aged seventy. He was remarkable for his industry, enterprise, generosity, and open-hearted hospitality.

ANDREW GREGG was among the early settlers in Penn's valley. He was born on 10th June, 1755, at Carlisle. He acquired a classical education at several of the best schools of that day, and was engaged for some years as a tutor in the University of Pennsylvania. In the year 1783, Mr. Gregg, having saved a few hundred dollars from his salary as a teacher, changed his employment, and commenced business as a storekeeper in Middletown, Dauphin county. In 1787 he married a daughter of Gen. Potter, then living near the West Branch, in Northumberland county; and at the earnest request of his father-in-law, in 1789, moved with his family to Penn's valley, where he settled down in the woods, and commenced the business of farming, about two miles from Potter's Old Fort. On the place he first settled, he continued improving his farm from year to year, pursuing with great industry the business of a country farmer. There all his children were born, and some married, and there he resided until the year 1814, when he removed to Bellefonte, having some years before purchased property in that neighborhood. In 1790 Mr. Gregg was elected a member of Congress and by seven successive elections, for several districts, as they were arranged from time to time, including one by a general vote or ticket over the whole State-was continued a member of that body for sixteen successive years-and during the session of 1806-7, was chosen a member of the Senate of the United States. At the expiration of this term, on the 4th of March, 1813, he returned to private life, attending to the education of his children and the improvement of his farms, until December, 1820, when he was called by Governor Hiester to the position of Secretary of the Commonwealth. In 1823 he was the nominee of the Federal party for Governor, in opposition to John Andrew Shulze. He died at Bellefonte, May 20, 1833.

Return to Top of Page

Copyright © Centre County PAGenWeb Project.
All rights reserved.