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Thursday, February 16, 2017

How The Townships Will Be Grouped

There were a number of ways in which the Township chapters could be arranged and presented in the book. Rather than include them in a simple alphabetic order, I decided to first place them in geographic regions and then present them in alphabetic order within those regions.

The boroughs that are physically located within a township will be included in that township chapter. Therefore a section titled: The Borough of Schellsburg will be included in the chapter for Napier Township.

Long Overdue Update on the Book

Although I haven't updated this blog lately ~ in fact the last post was more than a year ago ~ that should not be interpreted as the book not progressing. The fact of the matter is that being so engrossed in working on the book is the reason I failed to provide an update before this. 

I currently have 579 pages of text completed. The completed sections include the earliest history of the county that involved the Forbes Campaign and the building of the fortifications and supply depots in the county. The establishment of the village of Bedford as the seat of the new county and the creation of the court system is covered in detail. Details about the construction of the various court house buildings is included. I explained how the settlement of the region, especially along the Forbes Road, was encouraged and facilitated by the taverns and inns, the grist and saw mills, the blacksmiths and wainwrights and eventually the coming of 'bespoke' craftsmen. The early history of the village of Bedford, and later its incorporation into Bedford Borough, provides the preface to a history of the changes the borough has undergone to the present time.

The histories of the various townships (and of the towns and boroughs within them) have been divided into groups according to 'regions.' The townships of King, Kimmel, Lincoln, Pavia, East St. Clair and West St. Clair are included in the 'Northwest Corner' region. The townships of Mann, Monroe and Southampton are included in the 'Southeast Corner.' The townships of Bedford, Colerain and Snake Spring are included in the 'Center' region. So as you can see from just these three examples, the townships will be presented in alphabetical order within each particular region.

At the present time, the chapters are completed for the townships of Bloomfield, East Providence, East St. Clair, King, Kimmel, Lincoln, Napier, Pavia and West St. Clair. Also completed are the boroughs of Alum Bank, Bedford, New Paris and Schellsburg. Where appropriate, individuals who assisted in either gathering research, providing proofreading or actually writing portions of text were noted. For example Doris Dibert assisted with information about a couple historic taverns in Snake Spring Township and Hubert Whysong proofread and supplied corrections and additions for the chapter on Pavia Township. The chapter and/or section titles include statements similar to "Research assisted by Doris Dibert".

And I should note that in the last post I noted a suggested title for the book. I am pleased to say at this time that the title will, indeed, be: Bedford County, Pennsylvania ~ Two And One-Half Centuries In The Making.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Tentative Title For Book Proposed

        So far we have referred to our book in progress as 'the book for the 250th Anniversary of Bedford County' or something similar. As we are three years into the project, with only five years left until the actual anniversary date, I thought that it is about time that we start thinking about a proper title for the book. I sent an email out to all book committee members with a suggestion that I would like them to consider:


In explanation:

1.) In order to not have to continually state ‘250’ or ‘250 years’, I thought that ‘Two And One-Half Centuries’ would present a nice alternative.

2.) Essentially the title is ‘Bedford County, Pennsylvania’ which satisfies the need for a basic title.

3.) The subtitle of ‘Two And One-Half Centuries In The Making’ not only covers the 250 years of past (to the present) history – but it implies continuation into the future. The phrase ‘in the making’ can be defined as a process of continuing change – of the thing constantly being made.

        So this title defines Bedford County, Pennsylvania as an entity that has grown for 2-1/2 centuries (250 years) and is, even now, continuing to be made, implying that the entity will continue on into the future (never actually reaching finality – ‘made’).

        The majority of responses have so far been favorable to using this title. Only two members have submitted alternative titles for consideration; they will be distributed for the entire committee to review and consider in the future.


Another Excerpt From The Book in Progress

            Below is another example of an excerpt of our book in progress. It comes from the chapter: Industrious Bedford County and the section titled: Inns And Taverns Encourage The Growth Of Towns. Again, notice that the text is fully footnoted where necessary.

Excerpt. . .

          Early Americans consumed spirits at a prodigious rate.1 That is how one statistician described the consumption of alcoholic liquids in America prior to the American Revolutionary War. That same statistician estimated that every white male over the age of fifteen would have consumed an average of forty gallons of cider, wine or distilled spirits each year. That was estimated at roughly three pints of rum each week, or an average of seven one-ounce shots each day. But before one jumps to the conclusion that the people of the 1700s were all drunken sots, it must be remembered that refrigeration, and the ability to keep liquids fresh, was not something that the people of the 1700s possessed. Glass bottles were expensive and not expendable like they are today. They were primarily used at taverns to transport the liquids from storage to the table. Liquids were stored for long periods of time in wooden casks. And those liquids that were available fresh and unfermented had a tendency to become fermented, if stored for very long in the wooden casks of the time.
           The variety of liquids that we drink today were not all available to the people of the 1700s. Water, a very common liquid that we take for granted today, would have been obtained from either streams or hand dug wells, both of which would not have been totally free of disease-causing micro-organisms. Those micro-organisms were the source of diseases such as diarrhea and ‘the flux,’ or dysentery. At the present time, we, who live in industrialized societies, wonder that such diseases are still common in third-world countries, but they can often be traced to impure water supplies. Pennsylvania in the 1700s was not so different than the third-world countries of today in regard to the cleanliness of water. In fact, one food historian stated that the colonists in North America would have had a “built-in resistance to water” because of centuries of learning that many diseases were brought on by drinking water that was less than clean.2 Milk, another common liquid in our diet at the present time, was primarily used for making butter and cheese. The milk that was drank would not have been pasteurized, a technique to sterilize the milk using heat, therefore diseases borne in unclean water were also found in unclean milk. Pasteurization was not used to ‘clean’ raw milk until Louis Pasteur developed the process in the mid-1800s. Carbonated ‘soft’ drinks and powdered fruit flavored drinks were not available until the 1900s.
            The primary liquids that were swallowed as refreshment or nourishment by the people of the 1700s were cider, alcoholic liquors, tea, coffee and cocoa. Of these drinks, tea, coffee and cocoa might have been the least common. They required a lot of preparation each time that they were to be drank since tea was only available in dry, loose form and coffee was not very palatable when simply boiled in water; it needed to be percolated to be properly enjoyed. Despite having originated in the western hemisphere, cocoa was not drank in the English colonies of North America until about the 1760s.3 Cocoa, which had been drunk ceremonially, as a sort of sacred homage to their gods by the Olmec civilization as long ago as three thousand years, and later by the Maya, Toltec and Aztec priesthood, had been introduced into Europe by the Spanish invaders in the 16th Century. The bitter drink that the Spanish conquistadors carried to their kings and queens became refined and, as chocolate, spread throughout Europe for a century and a half before being carried to North America. The first cocoa / chocolate manufacturing company was established in Massachusetts in 1765. It simply wasn’t drank widespread. Also neither tea, coffee or cocoa kept well in bottles or wooden kegs because they didn’t ferment like other liquids.
            Cider, pressed from apples, and its sister drink, peary, made from pears, were very popular in early Pennsylvania. According to a food historian, as apple orchards sprang up through New England and southward into Pennsylvania: “cider intake of the colonists rapidly reached gargantuan proportions4 Cider was widely available for consumption in autumn, and during that season would have been very fresh and sweet tasting. As time passed, though, the cider, which was commonly stored in wooden barrels, fermented into hard cider. Hard cider, the alcoholic content of which could vary between 3 and 12 percent, was a common beverage for the whole family. In fact, practically all of the alcoholic drinks downed in the 1700s were drank by both men, women and children.5 Cider provided a number of vitamins that people otherwise would not have gotten in their usual diet. The Germans generally ate a breakfast which included cider or beer thickened with flour to make a sort of pancake.6 Apples were also used to make apple brandy and a liquor called applejack. Cider, but sometimes ale, was the basis of a kind of punch drank during the Christmas holiday called wassail. The name derives from the Middle English Waes Haeil, that translates as ‘good health’ or ‘health to you.’ Wassail was basically a hot mulled (i.e. heated) punch with the addition of sugar and spices including cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

EU Notice Explained

I just want to note, to my readers outside of the U.S.A. ~ The banner regarding cookies that appears at the top of the page (and which can be hidden by simply clicking on "Got It") was placed there by Google. The banner stating: "This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services, to personalize ads and to analyze traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies." was required by laws issued by the European Union requiring websites to identify any cookies used by a website. My blog does not use any cookies of any kind in and of itself. ~ Larry D. Smith

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

An Excerpt From The Book In Progress

            For an example of the progress on the book, an excerpt is presented in this post. It comes from the chapter: How Bedford County Came To Be and the section titled: Bedford County: The Beginning Of The Historic Period. Notice that the text is fully footnoted where necessary. Also, the maps provided to augment the text have been created by Larry D. Smith specifically for this book.

Excerpt. . .

            As already noted, a crucial goal of William Penn, in regard to governing his colony, was to encourage peaceful accord with the Amerindians who inhabited the land. To that end, he insisted that treaties be ratified with the tribes who actually occupied the lands he wished to purchase. Although not authenticated by written record, the acquisition of land from the Amerindians by Penn as soon as he landed (as represented in Benjamin West’s famous painting, Penn’s Treaty With The Indians) is believed to have, in reality, occurred.37 

            Treaties for the transfer of lands from the Amerindians to the Euro~Americans were negotiated in the years 1682, 1683, 1684, 1718, 1732, 1736, 1737, 1749, 1754, 1768 and 1784.38 Such negotiations were conducted by members of the Pennsylvania Provincial Council with the assistance of Indian traders who could speak the Algonquian and Iroquoian languages.

            The fallacy of the treaties was that the Amerindians held the belief that no individual could personally ‘own’ any portion of the land; it was there for everyone to use (for hunting, fishing, travel and so forth).39 They did not fully comprehend the Euro~American concept that ownership implied being able to prohibit others from using the land. The Amerindians assumed that despite the formality of signing the treaties, the use of the land would still be available to them. They were understandably upset when the Euro~Americans began to build permanent farmsteads (often enclosed by fencing) upon those lands acquired by treaty.

            Each successive treaty ‘legitimized’ the Euro~Americans’ claim to more land west and northward from the Delaware River.40

            As noted above, the treaty of 1682 was negotiated for a thin strip of land parallel to the Delaware.


            In 1683, two treaties purchased the land between the Neshaminy and Pennypack Creeks and between the Chester and Schuylkill Rivers.


            During the following year, 1684, a treaty brought lands encompassed by the present-day counties of Bucks, Lehigh, Berks and Montgomery into the province.

            In 1718, a treaty purchased the lands which make up York and Lancaster Counties today. This tract encompassed valuable farming lands on either side of the Susquehannah River, which would be put to good use by German farmers emigrating from the Rhineland region of Germany and Switzerland.


            The treaties of 1732, 1736 and 1737 acquired lands as far north and westward as the Blue Mountain range. The acquisitions, along with those from the prior treaties, brought into the control of the Euro~Americans the entire land area known today as the Pennsylvania Piedmont. The tract acquired in 1737 was known as the Walking Purchase; it has the dubious distinction of being one of the first instances of subterfuge being used to con the Amerindians out of more land than originally agreed upon.41




            On the 10th of May 1729, the county of Lancaster was the fourth county to be erected in the province. It was created primarily out of the lands acquired in the treaty of 1718, and extended the western frontier of the province to the east side of the Susquehanna River.

            Euro~American settlers were steadily moving into the lands farther west ~ to those drained by the Juniata River. Homesteads were springing up in the Big and Little Conolloways, the Great and Little Coves, and through the Tuscarora Valley. The Euro~American families who were encroaching on those lands, as yet unpurchased from the Amerindians, were primarily Ulster-Scots (i.e. immigrants from the Ulster Plantation in northern Ireland, and variously called Scots-Irish).42 Whether inability or unwillingness to pay for the land, or impatience with the land office, was their motivating force, the settlers chose to ignore the laws of the province. Anger and revenge were, understandably, the response of the Amerindians to the intrusion.43  The provincial authorities believed that if they made an example of some of the intruding settlers, it would appease the Amerindians. So to that end, they ordered the inhabitants of one such village, that had grown to eleven families by 1750, to vacate their homes and move back east. All of the buildings in that village (located west of the Susquehanna in the region that would eventually become Bedford County, and later Fulton County), were burned to the ground, giving the name Burnt Cabins to the vicinity. Similar burnings were conducted at Path Valley, Sherman’s Creek, Aughwick and the Big Cove.44

            Lands defined by, and to the southeast of the North Branch of the Susquehanna River were acquired in 1749. On July 1st of that year sachems from the Seneca, Onontago, Tutato, Nantycoke and Conoy tribes met with James Hamilton, then Lieutenant Governor, along with others at Philadelphia.


            The Amerindians brought complaints that the Euro~Americans were settling on lands not yet purchased. They noted: “As our Boundaries are so well known, & so remarkably distinguish’d by a range of high Mountains, we could not suppose this could be done by mistake…  By the 16th of August, an agreement was achieved. The tribal leaders announced that they were “willing to give up the Land on the East side of Sasquehanna from the Blue Hills or Chambers’ Mill to where Thomas M’Gee the Indian Trader lives…45

            New treaties were conducted, and new counties continued to be erected. On 19 August 1749, the county of York was erected out of Lancaster from lands acquired in the treaties of 1718 and 1736. Soon after, on 27 January 1750, the county of Cumberland was erected. The lands from which the sixth county was created came partially from the land acquired in the treaty of 1736, with the bulk coming from as-yet-unacquired lands to the north and west.

            During June 1754, in response to the maneuverings of the French in the western frontier of the Province of New York and southward into the Ohio Valley, New York governor, James DeLancey called for a congress to be held at Albany.46 The French were constructing a series of fortifications along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, and the English colonies needed to neutralize the threat they implied. Delegates from the various English colonies were invited to the conference. Seven responded. In addition to delegates from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York and Maryland, five members of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly and Supreme Executive Council attended the congress. Sachems from the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy were invited also, and 150 of them attended the conference. The colonial delegates and the Iroquois sachems met in council from 19 June to 11 July 1754. One outcome of that conference was that the Six Nations sold another large tract of land to the Province of Pennsylvania.47


            It stretched between the summits of the Blue and Allegheny Mountain ranges from east to west, and from Penn’s Creek (known by the Iroquois name, Kayarondinhagh), just south of the forty-first latitude to the southern boundary line of the province (which, until the Mason-Dixon Line was completed in 1768, was in dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland). The actual tract of land was described as follows:

             Beginning at the Kittochtinny or Blue Hills on the West Bank of the Sasquehannah River, and thence by the said River to a mile above the Mouth of a certain Creek called Kayarondinhagh; thence North-West and by West as far as the said Province of Pennsilvania extends to its Western Line or Boundary; thence along the said Western Line to the South Line or Boundary of the said Province; thence by the said South Line or Boundary to the South Side of the said Kittochtinny Hills; thence by the South Side of the said Hills along the said Hills to the Place of Beginning.

            The newly acquired territory included a large portion of the region that would, nearly twenty years later in 1771, be erected into the county of Bedford. The present-day counties of Blair, Huntingdon, and Fulton, which were erected out of Bedford, along with present-day Bedford County itself, trace their genealogy directly back to this purchase of land in the year 1754. Therefore, the year 1754 could be considered the ‘legitimate’ beginning of the Euro~American occupation of present-day Bedford County.