Huntingdon County: Molding Character and Countians

When Philadelphia land speculator William Smith laid out the town of Huntingdon in 1767, it is possible that even then he saw its potential as a county seat. On the one hand, the idea seems preposterous: the area surrounding his prospective town was a wilderness accessi­ble only by a scanty network of undeveloped Indian paths. This unsettled part of Pennsyl­vania had been included in a vast...
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The ‘State’ of Allegheny

One of the first centers of the organization of the Re­publican party and scene of its first national conven­tion in February, 1856, Allegheny County was strongly for Lincoln in the presidential election of 1860. As the vote count proceeded, one of the leaders kept sending telegrams to Lincoln’s home in Illinois, keeping him up on the news that “Allegheny gives a majority of …...
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The French and Indian War and the Revolution

If in spite of all the Bicentennial reminders the Revolutionary War seems somewhat far away, the French and Indian War must seem so much more remote as to be irrelevant. The familiar Pennsylvania events of the Revolution – the battles of Brandywine and German­town, the Valley Forge encampment, the Declaration of Independence – took place in the settled parts of the State, the battles...
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History is Alive and Well in Beaver County

On June 6, 1824, the steamboat Ploughboy with the first contingent of Harmony Society members came around the bend in the river at Legionville; the skipper gave a cannon salute. After dropping anchor, the passengers disembarked and made camp. The following day, Father Rapp, leader of the Harmonists, wrote to the remaining members at New Harmony: “I consider this place the most healthful in...
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A Historical Sketch of Indiana County

Indiana County was named for the native Indians. During historic times the two principal tribes were the Delawares and Shawnees. Being reluctant to give up their lands, the Indians struggled desperately to keep out the tide of European settlers. Perhaps the first white settler to enter Indiana County was James LeTort, an Indian trader, about 1726-27. A place called “Letart’s...
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The French in Northwest Pennsylvania, 1753-1759

Every summer numerous va­cationers from both within and beyond Pennsylvania’s borders come to the northwest comer of the state to use the recreational facilities of Presque Isle State Park. Probably few of the summer visitors sunning themselves along the state park’s beaches, or swimming in Lake Erie, pause to ask themselves how the park and peninsula came to bear a French name. It...
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Courageous Cumberland County

Anxious to persuade a Scottish cleric, the Rev. Charles Nisbet, to become the first president of Dickinson Col­lege, its founding trustee Dr. Benjamin Rush wrote the Presbyterian worthy in 1784, describing central Cumberland County. The town of Carlisle lies 120 miles to the westward of Philadel­phia and about 18 miles from the river Susquehannah. It consists of about 300 houses, most of which...
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Burnt Cabins

On July 18, 1749, Seneca representatives complained to the Provincial government that white settlers were violating a treaty by building houses on land belonging to the Six Nations. In response, Lieutenant Governor James Hamilton issued a proclamation. “I … do hereby, in His Majesty’s Name,” Hamilton ordered, “strictly charge, command, and enjoin all & every the...
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