Altoona Members of the Blair County Bar Association and Judge Bell,
taken in front of the Court House, March 1896.
Eleventh Avenue from Fourteenth Street, Looking East to Eleventh Street, Altoona, Pa.
Scenes at Horse Shoe Bend, on Pennsylvania Railroad at Kittanning Point,
Six Miles West of Altoona.
Broad Avenue Presbyterian Church corner Broad Avenue and Twenty-fourth Street, Altoona, Pa.
View of Westmont, a Suburb of Altoona,
Looking Southeast from Main Line of Pennsylvania Railroad.
Observatory at Lookout, Wopsononock, on the A.,C.& N.R.R.
4 Miles from Altoona in a direct line.
Masonic Temple, cor Eleventh Street and Twelfth Avenue, Altoona, Pa.
Fourth Ward School House and High School Building,
corner of Seventh Avenue and Fifteenth Street, Altoona, Pa.
Blair County Almshouse, near Hollidaysburg. (Robinson & Crockett, Architects.)
David Kinch. W.T. Howard. Theo. Burchfield. D.A. Gilland.
S.J. Breth. Thos. Hurd. C.J. Mann. T.H. Turner.
Altoona is situated about thirty miles southwest of the geographical center of the great state of Pennsylvania, just at the eastern base of the Allegheny mountains; near the headwaters of the Juniata river; the " Blue Juniata " of Indian song and legend, and on the Pennsylvania railroad. It lies in the upper or western end of Logan valley, or " Tuckahoe " as this vicinity was called in early days, in the central part of Logan Township, in Blair County. By rail it is 117 miles east of Pittsburgh and 235 west of Philadelphia, although an air line would be one-fourth to one-third less. Baltimore and Washington are 150 miles southeast and Buffalo 200 miles directly north, but by rail the distance to these points is nearly twice as great.
Originally laid out in a narrow valley, it has filled this and climbed the hills on either side and grown in all directions, so that a large part of it is built on hills of moderate elevation. The city lines as now established embrace a territory two and one-fourth miles long and one and one-fourth miles wide ; but it is built up as a city a distance of four miles long and two miles wide. Less than fifty years old, it has grown with such surprising rapidity that it is now the eighth city in the state, in population, and second to none in material prosperity.
The lowest ground in the, city is 1120 feet above the level of the ocean and the hills rise 100 to 150 feet higher, making the site and surroundings picturesque in the extreme and furnishing innumerable points of observation, from which nearly the entire city may be taken in at one view; yet in few places are the ascents so abrupt as to interfere with the laying out and grading of streets and avenues. The railroad passes through the heart of the city from northeast to southwest and the avenues are laid out parallel with the tracks. Crossing these at right angles are thoroughfares of equal width denominated streets; and both streets and avenues are given numerical names, beginning at a base line and numbering in regular order from that. First avenue is near the southeastern boundary of the city and First street near the northeastern limit. To this general rule there are some exceptions, but on the whole the city may be said to be regularly laid out.
In the central part of the city, on the lower ground are located the railroad company's machine and locomotive shops, freight warehouse, passenger station and an immense hotel, around which the business of the city clusters, this being the "hub;" although the ever increasing business of the road has necessitated the building of additional shops at two places in the eastern suburbs.
Altoona is unique in having its site away from any considerable stream of water, but to the northeast a short distance is the Little Juniata, and to the southwest Mill Run, both of which furnish a considerable quantity of pure mountain spring water, while still farther to the west and south are Kittanning and Sugar Run streams, the former being the source of supply for the city water system.
The character of the buildings of Altoona is very creditable; considering her youth. There are 7,000 to 8,000 dwellings within city limits, inhabited by 36,000 industrious, frugal, well-informed, cheerful and happy people, while more houses and 8,000 more people are just without the corporate lines. All taken together make one thriving city of 44,000 inhabitants; and the time is not far distant when its boundary lines will be extended to include them all.
Aside from the business blocks, which are nearly all brick, about three-fourths of the buildings are frame, a few are stone, and the remainder brick or brick cased; nearly all are neat and comfortable; many are more than this; while not a few are palatial in architectural design and finish, the home of wealth and refinement. Eleventh avenue, on the northwest side of the railroad, from Eleventh street to Seventeenth street, is the great comercial and mercantile center, where real estate and rents are highest. Here are the banks, newspapers, postoffice, the great dry goods stores and hotels, with the passenger station but one square distant. The wholesale establishments are principally on Eleventh street between Tenth and Eleventh avenues, and Green and Eleventh avenues between Seventh and Ninth streets. The manufacturing district, aside from the railroad shops, is on Ninth and Margaret avenues, west of Seventeenth street; and this is also the location of the retail coal trade and dealers in builders supplies, lime, sand, brick, terra cotta pipe, etc. Other business centers of considerable importance are Twelfth street and Eighth avenue, Eighth avenue and Ninth street and Fourth street and Sixth avenue. The most desirable residence locations are on
Twelfth avenue between Eleventh and Sixteenth streets, and Broad avenue, formerly Broad street, between Nineteenth and Twenty-seventh streets, and Fourteenth avenue near Eleventh street.
The street car lines, City Passenger and Logan Valley, motive power electricity since 1891 traverse Eleventh avenue from Ninth to Eighteenth streets, Seventeenth and Bridge streets from Eleventh to Eighth avenues, down the later to Fourth street, thence to Sixth avenue and out Sixth to First street and beyond to Bellwood junction; the entire length of Chestnut avenue from Eleventh street to First street, and beyond to Juniata borough one mile, and Bellwood seven miles northeastward; on Union and Broad avenues, from Eleventh avenue to Thirty-first street, near the new suburb Westmont; from the corner of Seventeenth street and Eighth avenue to Seventh avenue, out Seventh avenue to Twenty-sixth street, and along the street to Fifth avenue; the corner of Twelfth street and Ninth avenue along the avenue to Thirteenth street, along the street to Fifth avenue and along this avenue to Thirty-first street, and southeastward to Lakemont Park three miles, and Hollidaysburg, the county seat, six miles.
There are now over eight miles of finely paved streets in the city, including the three kinds most popular, asphaltum, concrete block and vitrified brick, extending over a large part of the best business and residence portions of the town, and the coming season will see this largely augmented. Altoona is well sewered; having a sewer system, recently completed, capable of meeting the requirements of a city of 100,000 inhabitants.
Altoona is supplied with water from two mountain streams which empty into the gathering and storing reservoirs at Kittaning Point, a picturesque spot six miles west of the city, within the circle of the famous "Horse-shoe" bend of the Pennsylvania railroad and under the very shadow of the Alleghenies' crest. The drainage area is wood covered mountain sides and the water consequently pure and cold and sweet. It is brought to Altoona through large iron pipes by force of gravity which is sufficient to carry it to all residences in the city. The water works are owned and managed by the municipality.
The city building is situated on the corner of Twelfth street and Thirteenth avenue. Here the mayor has his office, the police headquarters and city prison are here, and the office of water superintendent and street commissioner as well as the council chambers, where common and select councils meet regularly twice a month.
The other city officials have their offices in rented rooms pending the erection of a magnificent new City Hall to cost $100,000. 000.
Altoona, although the metropolis of the county, containing more than half the total population, is not the county seat, not having been in existence when that was established at Hollidaysburg, then a thriving borough. The court house and county offices are easily accessible, however, by electric cars which arrive and depart every quarter hour between six o'clock in the morning and ten o'clock at night.
The society of Altoona is excellent, and the people are of more than average intelligence; the undesirable foreign element, so predominant in some cities, is almost entirely absent here. The citizens of foreign birth are mostly German and English, of the educated class, and are among the most respected. There is a church building to every eight hundred of population, nearly all denominations being represented, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish, all well attended. The public schools are of the best and there are beside, a number of parochial and private schools, kindergardens and commercial schools.
Every citizen of Altoona has a business, profession, or trade, and works at it; few drones or idle people are found in this busy hive of industry. As might be expected where industry reigns, the people are law abiding, peaceful, moral; criminals are few, crimes rare, litigation not popular. While there are a number of legal gentlemen resident here it is a noticeable fact that most of them depend more upon the results of successful business ventures for their income, than on fees received from legitimate law practice.
While from its elevation, it might be inferred that the climate would be severe, the facts are otherwise; the mountains break the force of the north and west winds and the winters are seldom more rigorous than on lower levels in the same latitude elsewhere, and the usually prevailing weather of spring and fall is marvelously delightful. The air is so pure and stimulating, so full of ozone, that to those in good health mere existence is a delicious luxury and even the invalid enjoys living until the last.
On the whole Altoona is a veritable ''gem of the mountain," beautiful to view and pleasant to live in; its excellent qualities are only beginning to be appreciated and understood. As time passes it will continue to grow in size and in the affections of those who have their homes here, or who for limited periods visit the place, to feast their eyes on the beauties of nature so lavishly displayed, and breathe the pure invigorating air.
Millville, which, as the term is used, comprises Allegheny and part of Westmont and is all that suburb lying southwest of the city line at Twenty-seventh Street and northwest of Ninth Avenue and the Hollidaysburg Branch Railroad.. The greater part of this suburb, as well as part of the city now within the Fifth Ward, was plotted and laid out by Dr. S. C. Baker and called Allegheny about the year 1870; but a smaller plot adjoining Allegheny on the west was called Millville, and as Millville, the town on the two plots, has been known for twenty years. However, the railroad station on the branch at this point, about one and one-fourth miles from the Altoona Station, is called Allegheny Furnace. Millville is quite level and is building up rapidly, being a very pleasant residence place. It is not incorporated.
Westmont, just west of Millville, is growing up very rapidly and seems destined to become the most popular suburb of Altoona. This results largely from the enterprise and liberality of its projector, E. H. Flick, Esq., who sells the lots for a very low price and on easy terms, and who has not only set shade trees along the streets and avenues, but has built a large number of fine houses there. The City Passenger Railway extends from the heart of the city, along Broad Avenue, through Millville and to within a few squares of Westmont, while the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad skirts it on the northwest, and a station will doubtless be located there at an early day. It will be about two miles west of the Altoona Depot.
Northeast of Eighteenth Avenue and east of Eleventh Street is a populous district, outside the city line, known as Fairview. It is situated on ground considerably elevated above the central parts of Altoona, is a pleasant place to live and is the home of a great many employes of the Pennsylvania Railroad Car Shops.
Oakton lies on high ground west of Eleventh Street and northwest of Twenty-fourth Avenue. -. Millertown is just northwest of the Fifth Ward beyond Eighteenth Avenue and west of Washington Avenue and Eighteenth Street. It has about 500 inhabitants and is soon to be incorporated with some of the surrounding territory as a Borough by the name " Logan. " - Newburg is northwest of Millertown, along the Dry Gap Road, which is a continuation of Washington Avenue over the mountains to Ashville, Cambria County.
Collinsville is the oldest town in Logan Township and was the location of the Postoffice from 1817 until Altoona was founded. It lies southeast of the Sixth Ward of Altoona, in Pleasant Valley, and is reached by an extension of Sixteenth Street from First avenue, the distance being but one-half mile. Only about 200 people live here and it presents a decayed and ancient appearance, but in the immediate vicinity are several fine farms with good farm buildings and large thrifty orchards, and Pleasant Valley is not a misnomer.
Juniata is an incorporated Borough and lies about one-half mile Northeast of the city line at North Second Street and Chestnut Avenue, on the north side of the railroad. It is the location of the Juniata Locomotive Shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. But the borough lines do not take in the works, as the Company prefers being on the outside. There had been a small village occupying part of the present site of Juniata for ten or more years prior to the erection of the Locomotive Shops, known as Belleview, but not incorporated. On the erection of these shops, however, in 1889 buildings sprung up like magic around them, and little Belleview had such a boom that she outgrew herself and her name. "Juniata" was adopted as the most appropriate name and a borough charter was obtained August 7th, 1893. The Logan Valley electric cars run here from Altoona every few minutes and every half hour a car goes to Bellwood, five miles northeastward. Juniata has in addition to the Locomotive Shops a large iceing station of Armour & Co., several stores, a fine brick school building and three churches, also a postoffice, which, as there is another Juniata in the State, is called Kipple. The southern terminus of the Altoona, Clearfield and Northern Railroad is at Juniata, the passenger station being on the line of the Electric Railway and near the entrance to the Shops.
East End, Greenwood and Pottsgrove are all east of the Eighth Ward of Altoona and on the south-eastern side of the railroad. They have a combined population of nearly 1,000 and will eventually all grow together and be taken into the city, as the Twentieth Ward perhaps. One George Pottsgrove built a dam on the little mountain stream here many years ago and operated a small saw and grist mill until his water right was purchased by the Altoona Gas and Water Company and the water piped to the new town of Altoona in 1859.
Llyswen is the latest suburb to be added to Altoona and lies farthest from the city, being on the Logan Valley Electric Railway, about one mile south of the city line at Fifth Avenue and Twenty-seventh Street. This is intended to be the aristocratic suburb, and lots are sold with some restrictions as to buildings and use. A number of fine cottages have already been erected there and a fine station and waiting room by the Logan Valley people, whose cars pass in either direction every fifteen minutes.
All these suburbs are in Logan Township, and with the possible exception of Llyswen should be taken into the city.
Eastward from Altoona two and one-half miles, on the Pennsylvania Railroad is Blair Furnace Station, a small village containing no stores nor business places. It is the nearest station to Juniata and but half a mile distant. . The next station eastward is Furnace. There is no village at this station, but nearby is the old "Sabbath Rest'' Furnace and a postoffice with that hallowed name, given to it in the early days because the owner of the furnace banked the fires on Saturday night and allowed his men to rest on Sunday, contrary to the custom of most other iron manufacturers at that time.
Westward from Altoona on the Pennsylvania Railroad is Kittanning Point, six miles distant. No town here nor stores, but there are coal mines and villages a few miles up the gulch and this is their nearest railroad station. The famous Horse Shoe Bend is here and the reservoirs which contain Altoona's water supply. The road begins to ascend the highest mountain here and the grade is steep most of the way for seven miles to Bennington just on the county line and only a small place. An iron furnace used to stand here, but it has been recently torn down. Leaving Bennington the road passes under the apex of the mountain by a tunnel one mile long and the town of Gallitzin is reached, fourteen miles from Altoona, in Cambria County and within the Mississippi Valley. Gallitzin has 1,000 to 1,200 inhabitants and is an important mining town. Three miles farther west is Cresson, only a small place of 500 to 600 inhabitants, but growing. It is the location of the Cresson Springs Hotel, an immense hostelry owned by the Pennsylvania Railroad and popular as a resort. Two railroads branch off from here to the northward, to Coalport and Ebensburg. . -. The next few stopping places are small mining towns, and the first place of importance is Johnstown, famous the world over for its awful flood horror, May 31st, 1889. Also famous as the location of
the Cambria Iron Company, one of the largest iron and steel manufacturers in the United States. Johnstown is thirty-nine miles west of Altoona. .-. The other places of importance between Altoona and Pittsburg are Blairsville Intersection, where the West Penn and the Indiana Branches of the Pennsylvania Railroad diverge from the main line, Latrobe, Greensburg, Jeannette, Irwin and Braddock.
Southward from Altoona the Hollidaysburg and Morrison's Cove and Williamsburg Branches of the Pennsylvania Railroad extends to Eldorado, three miles from Altoona, 200 to 300 inhabitants. .-. Duncansville, six miles, 1,000 inhabitants. .-. Hollidaysburg seven miles, the County seat and containing, with its sister borough Gaysport, 4,000 people. .-. Roaring Spring seventeen miles, where there are extensive paper mills and flouring mills. . -. Martinsburg twenty- miles, in the southern part of the County and in a rich agricultural district. .-. Henrietta a small place, formerly of some note as the location of some of the Cambria Iron Company's mines and quarries. From here it is but three miles across the mountain to the Huntingdon and Broad Top Railroad in Bedford County. Eastward from Hollidaysburg the Williamsburg Branch extends some fifteen miles along the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata past Frankstown, the oldest town in the County, but now half deserted and fallen to decay, with but 100 to 200 inhabitants. .-. Williamsburg, a place of 1,000 inhabitants, noted as the birth place of a number of prominent citizens now of Altoona. It was formerly on the main line of travel between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The old Pennsylvania Canal passed that way, and before the locomotive's whistle had been heard in a dozen Pennsylvania towns, steam packets sailed past this then thriving burg at the rapid rate of four to five miles per hour.
Northward from Altoona the Altoona, Clearfield and Northern Railroad, starting from Juniata, climbs up the mountain twelve hundred feet in a distance of six miles to Wopsononock, where there is a good hotel and other features which make it a popular summer resort. Excursion trains loaded with pleasure seekers leave the Juniata Station hourly on Sundays, during the summer, for this resort. A considerable amount of lumber and coal is brought down the mountain in the winter over this road. It extends several miles beyond Wopsononock but does not reach any town of importance, although the intention is to continue it to Phillipsburg.
Northwest from Altoona, starting from Sixteenth Street and Eleventh Avenue, long before the city was laid out, a country road extended up what is now called Washington Avenue, and beyond to the foot of the mountain two miles and then obliquely to the mountain top four miles, to the ''Buckhorn,'' which is the name applied to an old tavern at the summit of the mountain. This was the old Dry Gap Road and is still so called. From the Buckhorn it begins to descend the mountain and four miles farther Ashville in Cambria County is reached. The Blair County line is at the summit of the Allegheny mountains, a few hundred yards east of the Buckhorn.
History of Altoona.
An exposition of the present status of a city leads naturally to inquiry regarding its history and growth. This inquiry we shall meet and endeavor to satisfy in the following historical sketch:
The decade between 1850 and 1860 was a most eventful one in the history of the United States. It witnessed the opening era of successful and general railroad building and the culmination of the causes which led up to the great civil war. At the commencement of this ten year period Altoona had her birth, at its close she was a flourishing Borough of 3,500 inhabitants, standing where before was only forest, sterile fields and one poor farm house. The 224 acres of farm and woodland, on which the original Altoona was built and which is now principally included between Eleventh and Sixteenth Streets and Fourth and Fourteenth Avenues, constituted the farm of David Robeson and was not worth more than $2,500 for farming purposes at that time, but the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, then pushing to completion their all-rail route from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, and looking for a site for their shops wanted it and therefore Mr. Robeson, by a fortunate early discovery of the fact, was able to obtain his own price for it.
Archibald Wright, of Philadelphia, acting presumably for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, though just what relation he sustained to it is not clear, purchased the Robeson farm of 223 acres and 123 perches for $ 11,000. The deed was dated April 24th, 1849 and is recorded at Hollidaysburg in Deed Book, Vol. " B, " page 441. The boundaries of the farm were about on the present lines of Eleventh street from Fourth to Fourteenth avenues
on the northeast and Sixteenth street between same avenues on the southwest, Fourth avenue from Eleventh to Sixteenth streets on the southeast and Fourteenth avenue between the same streets on the northwest. On this tract of land original Altoona was laid out during the latter part of the year 1849, and the plot, as laid out, was acknowledged by Archibald Wright, in Philadelphia, February 6th, 1850, but was not recorded until February 10th, 1854, at the time the young town was organized into a Borough. This original plot is on record now in Hollidaysburg in Deed Book, Vol. " E, " page 167, It is on parchment and the original is pasted into the book. At the same time another plot, almost an exact counterpart, was recorded as the "official " plot of the Borough. On these early plots the streets and avenues have names instead of numbers .
Altoona in this plot is described as lying in '' Tuckahoe Valley," that being the name applied to this upper end of Logan Valley, which extends to Tyrone. Adjoining the Altoona plot at that time was the John McCartney farm on the northwest, the McCormick and Andrew Green farms on the northeast, the William Bell farm on the southeast and the William Louden farm on the southwest. The Louden and Green farms were soon after plotted and offered for sale in building lots, and later all the McCartney and most of the Bell farms have gone the same way. At the time of the founding of Altoona the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was a young corporation, their charter having only been granted in 1846, and they had not yet completed their road from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, although it was surveyed and in process of construction. It was completed to Altoona from the east, single track, on the same line as now in 1850 and extended from here to Y Switches near Duncansville and one mile from Hollidaysburg, and from there trains ran over the Allegheny mountains on the old Portage Railroad, a state institution completed in 1833. The Altoona Passenger Station stood near the corner of Ninth avenue and Twelfth street until 1854, when the Pittsburg Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad was completed past Kittanning Point on its present line and a new depot was built at the present location. The first depot on the corner of Thirteenth street and Tenth avenue was a two-story brick building and was replaced by the present structure in 1887. The Logan House was built in 1854-5 by the Railroad Company, but did not extend back to Eleventh avenue as now although it was an immense affair and, at that time, greatly out of proportion to the little village in which it stood.
The two lines of the railroad west from the city, the one completed and the other being graded, diverging as they did then is accountable for the peculiar wedge shape of the site of the Company's first shops, and the fact that the avenues on the northwest and southeast sides of the railroad are not parallel but diverge at an angle of about thirty degrees from Eleventh street westward.
No lots were sold in the new town until 1831, and the first deed made, as the records at Hollidaysburg show, was February 11th, 1851, for two lots on the corner of Twelfth avenue and Thirteenth street to the First Presbyterian Church, price $100 for the two. If any earlier deeds were made they were not recorded.
The first residence in Altoona was of course the old Robeson farm house which was of logs and stood within the square bounded by Tenth and Eleventh avenues and Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets. The first building erected after Altoona was laid out was a rough board one to be used as an office for the railroad contractor and a boarding house for the men; it also stood in the square last mentioned, near the old farm house.
Beginning in 1851 lots sold rapidly and buildings went up on every side; the new town grew so fast that early in 1854 when but little over three years old it was incorporated as a borough with a population of about 2,000 people. Churches and schools were built, hotels, stores and a bank were opened, a newspaper was started in 1855, and everything prospered from the very start. A plot laid out by Andrew Green, northeast of Eleventh street and called Greensburg, was taken into the Borough in 1855.
In 1859 a Gas and Water Company was formed by private parties and they constructed a storage reservoir on the hill at the corner of Twelfth street and Fifteenth Avenue and piped water to it from Pottsgrove; laid mains in the principal streets to carry water to the consumers. They also erected gas works on Eleventh avenue below Ninth street. Water and gas were supplied by this company first on December l5th of that year. Simultaneously with the water works came the organization of fire companies and a fire engine was purchased, the first being a hand engine.
The census of 1860 showed the borough's population to be 3,591. Then came the great Rebellion and Altoona was a place of considerable importance, furnishing cars and engines to transport soldiers and munitions of war, as well as her full quota of men to defend the Union. All through that four
years' period Altoona grew and throve. After the war closed the citizens erected a handsome monument in Fairview cemetery to commemorate her fallen heroes.
The city charter was procured in February, 1868, the bounds being extended so as to take in the territory northeast to First street, southeast to First avenue, southwest to Twenty-seventh street and northwest to Eighteenth avenue, with a population exceeding 8,000. In 1870 the census takers found 10,610 people here. In 1870 a daily paper, the Sun, made its appearance. In 1868 a market house was built at the corner of Eleventh avenue and Eleventh street, later converted into an opera house. By this time there were three newspapers here, two banks, thirteen churches, a number of good hotels, a large machine shop and car works, additional to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company's plant, and soon after (1872) a rolling mill was erected. The Pennsylvania Railroad Company was also obliged to enlarge their works at this time (1869-70), and, the original grounds reserved being completely occupied with shops, tracks, switches, etc., a larger tract of land was purchased along Chestnut avenue below Seventh street and the car shops were erected at First to Fourth streets. In 1872 the city purchased from the Gas and Water Company their water pipes and water franchise and proceded to build a reservoir at Kittanning Point and lay a 12-inch pipe from there to the storage reservoir constructed on First avenue between Twelfth and Thirteenth streets. About the same time Eleventh and Eighth avenues were macadamized, some sewers constructed, and the city issued its first bonds, $200,000 in 1871 and $150,000 in 1873, to meet the large expenditures thus incurred.
The years 1870, 1871 and 1872 were fruitful of many new enterprises in Altoona; new businesses were established, new churches built, several building and loan associations organized, two new banks opened, the rolling mill built, etc., but the panic of 1873, together with the failure of the largest banking firm of the city, in that year, put a damper on many business ventures and retarded the city's growth somewhat, as did also the great strike and railroad riots of 1877. Yet in 1880 the official government census showed that the place had nearly doubled in the preceding decade, 19,710 people being found resident here. In 1878 a park and Fair ground was enclosed at Broad and Twenty-seventh streets and the
Blair County Agricultural Society held a fair there which was a great success. But the next year failing to get the State Fair to exhibit here none whatever was held and in 1880, the weather being unfavorable, the fair was a failure and the Fair ground was never used for such purposes again. It has since been sold out in lots and thickly built upon and the Agricultural Society now hold their fairs at Hollidaysburg. This is the only enterprise that ever failed in Altoona permanently.
In 1882 the first street railway was completed and opened for traffic (July 4th). In 1880 a telephone exchange was located here, in 1886 an electric light company and July 4th, 1891, electricity was made the propelling power for the street cars, so at this date Altoona was fully abreast of the times in the use of electricity for all purposes.
In 1888 the need of a complete and comprehensive sewer system was fully realized and the work of providing for it begun. Since that time the four natural drainage areas of the city have been supplied with large main sewers, and now it is believed no better sewered city can be found in the state, although the work of laying smaller branches and feeders has not yet been completed .
In 1889 a large silk mill was erected on Ninth avenue at Twenty-fifth street along the Hollidaysburg Branch Railroad, and during the same years several large business blocks were built in the heart of the city, the Masonic Temple, Phoenix Block, etc.
In 1889, it having become apparent that the macadamized streets were not suitable for a city of Altoona's size and importance, Eleventh avenue was finely paved with asphalt blocks between Eleventh and Seventeenth streets, and during the same and following years many other avenues were paved, asphalt and vitrified brick being used on some of them, so at this time the city streets are well paved in the best business sections and the work of paving additional streets and avenues is going steadily on.
In 1889-90, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company was again obliged to enlarge their plant and they purchased a large tract of land at Juniata, below the car shops, on which they erected extensive locomotive works. About the same time a new railroad was projected and completed to Wopsononock, a beautiful pleasure resort, six miles north of Altoona, and later extended to the coal fields of Cambria county; Clearfield and the north being its ultimate destination .
In 1893 a new Electric Passenger Railway Company was organized, " The Altoona and Logan Valley," and constructed electric roads to Hollidaysburg six miles southeast and to Bellwood seven miles northeast, thus furnishing convenient and cheap transportation to the county seat and other nearby towns. At the same time the same company constructed a beautiful park, lake and picnic grounds at Lakemont, midway between Altoona and Hollidaysburg, furnishing a place of recreation and amusement of incalculable benefit to the residents of the city and providing an additional source of profit to the road. May 1st, 1895, a paid Fire Department superseded the volunteers in the work of protecting the city from the ravages of fire.
The population of Altoona has previously been referred to and given in round numbers as 44,000, which is believed to be as nearly correct as it can be told without a new count, as the number is increasing daily. This of course includes the suburbs. A careful census taken by the directory canvassers in May, 1895, made the population of the different wards and suburbs as follows:
Rolling Mill, Sixth
Ward Suburbs and Allegheny Furnace..................................................................................................507
Seventh Ward Suburbs to Juniata..............................................................30
Juniata from Wopsononock Depot to Blair Furnace..............................1,418
Eighth Ward Suburbs, Pottsgrove, East End, and Greenwood................. 867
Total Suburban which ought to be taken into the city...............................6,633
Grand total, the real Altoona.................................................................42,235
Since the foregoing census over 200 new houses have
been erected and occupied within the territory embraced.
The steady growth of Altoona within city limits is shown from
the Government Census as follows: Population in 1860 (the first after it was
Population in 1870 ..............................................................................10,610
Population in 1880 ..............................................................................19,710
Population in 1890 .............................................................................30,260
The total population of Blair county, 1890, was 70,866, and now it cannot be less than 80,000. Population of the State of Pennsylvania, 5,258,014. Only nineteen counties inthe State have a population equalling or exceeding that of Blair.
Assessed Valuation of Altoona.
Valuation of any place, as shown by the roll, gives but a very imperfect idea of its real wealth, yet it forms a basis or fair estimates. One portion of our wealth is not taxed and can therefore only be guessed at; this consists of thestock of goods in shops and stores, furniture and fixtures which do not go with the real estate; this probably amounts to more than $5,000,000 in Altoona.
THE RELATIVE WEALTH OF THE WARDS AS SHOWN IN 1895.
First Ward assessed at
Second Ward assessed at............................................1,720,585
Third Ward assessed at...............................................2,468,291
Fourth Ward assessed at..............................................2,261,485
Fifth Ward assessed at ................................................2,026,005
Sixth Ward assessed at................................................1,742,065
Seventh Ward assessed at............................................1,127,130
Eighth Ward assessed at...............................................1,769,575
The valuation of the entire county in 1895 was $31,252,097, from which it will be seen that
Altoona City proper pays almost one-half the county tax and if the city limits were extended, so as to
take in the suburbs which should be included, her valuation would be considerably more than one- half that of the entire county.
Dates of Important Events in Altoona.
The first permanent white settlements of any account in the immediate vicinity of Altoona were made about the year 1810, although Thomas and Michael Coleman are said to have settled in Logan Township as early as 1775, and Hugh and John Long to have resided in Pleasant Valley in 1788.
Altoona was projected in 1849 and laid out in town lots by Archibald Wright of Philadelphia, the same year, but he sold no lots until 1851.
The deed of the land from David Robeson to Archibald Wright is dated April 24th, 1849.
The plot of Altoona was acknowledged by Mr. Wright, before an alderman in Philadelphia, February 6th, 1850.
The Pennsylvania Railroad Company began building their shops here in 1850 it is said, although the deed for the ground on which they stood was not made by Mr. Wright until August 6th, 1851.
The first lots sold by Archibald Wright, after he had plotted the town, were two on the corner of Twelfth avenue and Thirteenth street to the trustees of the First Presbyterian Church, for the price of one hundred dollars, the deed being dated February 11th, 1851.
The first house was erected in Altoona in 1851 on Tenth avenue between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets. John B. Westley, the carpenter and contractor, is still living in the city.
The first train of cars came into Altoona in 1850 from the east, and September 17th, 1850, cars ran through to Duncansville, and December 10th, 1850 to Pittsburg; crossing the mountains over the Alllegheny Portage which belonged to the State. The Hollidaysburg Branch was then the main line.
The Mountain Division, from Altoona west, via Kittanning Point, was not completed until 1854. The line was originally a single track.
The first passenger station was a frame building and stood on Ninth avenue between Twelfth and Thirteenth streets. It was moved to the north corner of Twelfth street and used for a fire engine house. The second floor is now Logan Hall.
The first president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, with whom Altoona had any concern, was J. Edgar Thompson.
The first postoffice in this vicinity was at Collinsville, from 1817 to 1851; during the latter year it was removed from there and established under the new name at Altoona.
Altoona was organized as a borough in February, 1854.
The first Burgess of Altoona was George W. Patton.
Altoona became a city in February, 1868.
The first mayor of the city was General George Potts.
The first stores in Altoona were those of Bernard Kerr , father of R. A.O. Kerr, Loudon & Feree and Adlum & Irwin. Mr. Kerr kept the first one in the old log farm house of David Robeson.
The first druggist was George W. Kessler; he began business in Altoona in 1853.
The first doctor was Gabriel D. Thomas, who resided in Pleasant Valley prior to the founding of Altoona, and who built one among the first residences in the new town.
The first lawyer was William Stoke, it is said, but he had no office here and only came to transact some business for the Pennsylvania Railroad, whose attorney he was. L. W. Hall, Esq., now of Harrisburg, was located here in 1855, and Col. D. J. Neff in 1860.
The first preacher to reside in Altoona was Rev. Henry Baker, who was pastor of the Lutheran church at Collinsville
prior to the beginning of Altoona, and who came here with his congregation during the second year of its history.
The first public house in the vicinity was a tavern, where the White Hall Hotel now stands ; it was built by George Huff about the year 1834.
The first hotel erected in Altoona was the Exchange, which stood on Tenth avenue between Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets, where the Arlington now stands. It was kept by John Bowman. Among the earlier hotels was the Altoona House, where the Globe now stands; it was a frame building and burned down about the year 1887.
The first school-house erected by the borough was built in 1834 on the corner of Seventh avenue and Fifteenth street. Prior to the founding of Altoona a union church and schoolhouse combined stood on the present corner of Sixteenth street and Union avenue, just outside the early limits of Altoona. It was built during the year 1838 by the school directors of the township in conjunction with the Lutheran, Presbyterian and Methodist denominations and served the double purpose of church and school-house until the erection of churches and schools in Altoona. It is now used as a church by the African Methodist Episcopal congregation.
The first city superintendent of schools was John Miller.
The first church building erected in the new town of Altoona was the First Presbyterian, on the corner of Twelfth avenue and Thirteenth street in 1851. A minister from Hollidaysburg preached here every alternate Sunday beginning in November, 1851. It was a fair-sized frame building and was destroyed by fire in 1855. The trustees disposed of the ground December 3, 1855, for $3,000 and it is now occupied by the residence of the late William Murray. The congregation built on their present location in 1854.
The first bank established in Altoona was that of Bell, Johnson, Jack & Co. in 1853. It was later operated by William M. Lloyd & Co .
The first newspaper here was the Altoona Register, published for a short time by William H. and J. A. Snyder, in the spring of 1855. It did not survive the early frosts of that year, and after its suspension was succeeded by the Tribune, January 1, 1856, McCrum & Allison, proprietors.
The daily edition of the Tribune was first issued April 14, 1874. It was suspended April 14, 1975 and resumed January 28, 1878,
since which time it
has appeared regularly. The weekly has been published continuously since
establishment, January 11, 1856.
The first daily newspaper published in Altoona was the Sun, which began a daily issue May 2, 1870, and suspended after seven months.
The Mirror was first issued June 13, 1874; the Times May 21, 1884 and the Gazette April 8, 1892.
The first water works in Altoona were owned and operated by the Altoona Gas and Water Company, a private corporation, which began to supply the borough with water December 15, 1859.
The first gas for, illuminating purposes, was furnished by the same company, beginning at the same time ; rate per 1,000 feet then $3.00, now $1.20.
The water-works were purchased by the city in 1872 and the first reservoir at Kittaning Point constructed soon after.
The first fire company, the Good Will, was organized in 1859, just prior to the completion of the water-works.
The first fire engine, a hand machine, was housed here October 22, 1859.
The first steam fire engine in Altoona was purchased by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company and brought here in 1867.
A paid fire department superseded the volunteers May 1, 1895.
The soldiers' monument in Fairview cemetery was erected July 4, 1867.
The first city directory of Altoona was issued in 1873 by Thomas H. Greevy, Esq. Since 1886 they have been published biennially by Charles B. Clark, Esq.
A county directory was published in 1882.
The first street improvements were the macadamizing of Eleventh and Eighth avenues in 1871-2.
The first good street paving was laid on Eleventh avenue, in 1889, asphalt block, between Eleventh and Bridge streets.
The first extensive and systematic sewer building was begun in 1888; although the first sewer, Eleventh avenue between Thirteenth and Fifteenth streets, was constructed in 1870. D. K. Ramey, contractor.
The first street railway began carrying passengers July 4, I882; the line extending from First street and Chestnut
avenue to Eleventh street to Eleventh avenue, up Eleventh avenue to Bridge street and on Seventeenth street to Eighth avenue to Fourth street. Motive power---horses and mules;equipment -- six small cars.
Electricity was first used here to propel street cars July 4, 1891. The Logan Valley Electric Passenger Railway was completed and passengers carried to Hollidaysburg, June 14, 1893 and to Bellwood, July 1, 1894.
Telephone service in Altoona began in March, 1880.
Electricity for illuminating. in 1886. Streets lighted by electricity in 1888. For five years prior to that they were lighted by gasoline lamps, although gas had been used at a still earlier period.
The first planing mill, except that of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was built prior to 1860 by McCauley & Allison, on the corner of Green avenue and Eighth street.
The most extensive fire which had occurred in Altoona prior to 1896, was on April 16, 1869, burning about half the square enclosed by Eleventh and Twelfth avenues and Thirteenth and Fourteenth streets. It began on the corner of Eleventh avenue and Fourteenth street ; loss $60,000 to $70,000; but on January 6, 1896, a fire at the corner of Eleventh avenue and Eleventh street destroyed the Central Hotel and other property to the value of $100,000.
The Rolling Mill began operations in 1872.
The Silk Mill was built in 1888-9 and began operations in the spring of 1889.
The Altoona, Clearfield and Northern Railroad, formerly Altoona and Wopsononock was built in 1890-91.
Railroads of Altoona.
Being on the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the great double track trunk route between the East and West, Altoona enjoys superior advantages in the matter of transportation. Cars from every part of the Union come to Altoona with their original lading, and freight may be billed through from here to the Pacific or Gulf coast and the Dominion of Canada. Altoona being the terminus of a division, all trains stop here to change engines and crews and take on through passengers for east or west. A number of branch lines reach every corner of the county to the
South and east: Williamsburg, Martinsburg, Roaring Spring, Henrietta, Newry; and the terminus of the Morrison's Cove Branch at Henrietta is only about three miles from the Huntingdon and Broad Top Railroad, extending from Huntingdon south to Bedford and Hyndman, Pa., and Cumberland, Maryland.
At Bellwood, seven miles eastward, connection is made with the Pennsylvania and North Western which extends northwest through the rich coal regions of Cambria, Clearfield and Jefferson Counties to Punxsutawney and there connects with the Rochester and Pittsburg Railroad to DuBois, Bradford and Western New York.
At Tyrone, fourteen miles northeast, three branches lead off to the north and northeast; the Tyrone and Clearfield extending to Clearfield, Curwensville and DuBois; the Bald Eagle Valley extending to Bellefonte and Lock Haven, connecting at the latter point with the Philadelphia and Erie road for Williamsport on the east and Renova, Emporium, Kane, Warren, Corry and Erie to the west; and the Tyrone and Lewisburg branch extending northeast to Pennsylvania Furnace in Centre County.
At Huntingdon, thirty-four miles east, connection is made with the Huntingdon and Broad Top for Bedford and Cumberland, the latter on the line of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.
At Cresson, fifteen miles westward, two branches lead off from the main line, one extending to Ebensburg, Spangler and Carrolltown, and the other to Ashville, Frugality and Coalport .
There is also another short road, the Altoona, Clearfield and Northern, extending from the eastern suburb, Juniata, to Wopsononock mountain resort, and coal fields of Cambria County, which bring considerable amount of coal and lumber to the city. Another railroad is likely soon to be constructed to Altoona, coming from Philipsburg on the north. Altoona, with her nearly 50,000 inhabitants is too valuable a prize for railroad enterprise to remain long with but a single through line.
The railroad traffic passing through Altoona is immense The tonnage of the Pennsylvania Railroad system for 1895 was about one-seventeenth of the entire tonnage of the United States, and probably one-half of this passed through Altoona.
Twelve passenger trains leave Altoona daily for the west and eleven for the east, and some of these trains are composed of two or three sections; practically so many additional complete trains.
Six passenger trains depart each day for the southern part of the county over the branches previously mentioned.
The number of freight trains leaving and arriving depends of course on the condition of trade, crops, etc.
Altoona has one of the largest freight yards in the country, being over five miles long and capable of holding thousands of cars.
STATISTICAL OF THE PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD .
Miles of railroad owned and operated east of Pittsburg and
Miles of railroad owned and operated west of Pittsburg and
Total mileage of
owned, operated and leased lines................... 8,816
Number of tons of freight hauled on lines east of Pitts-
burg and Erie, year ending Dec. 31, 1895 .............78,259,526
Number of passengers carried in 1895............................37,452,437
Value of shops at Altoona, buildings and grounds,
not including machinery, about ................................$2,000,000
Number of men employed in Altoona shops, December roll,
1895; Machine Shops 4,051, Car Shops 2,364, Juniata
Shops 789; Total ............................................................7,204
Number of men employed on the three divisions entering
here, who reside in Altoona; estimated by taking 1/2 Pittsburg
and 1/3 of Middle Division ................................................1,880
Total Pennsylvania Railroad employes in Altoona......................9,084
Monthly pay roll for shops
Monthly pay roll for Division. employes and trainmen
residing in Altoona.........................................................75,000
Amount paid out monthly for material and supplies, about.......100,000
Total amount of money put in circulation here monthly
by the Railroad Company, about ...........................500,000
Altoona has two lines of electric cars; both are under one management and the service is very satisfactory.
The first road was built in 1882 by the City Passenger Railway Company and was opened on the 4th of July of that year with a notable demonstration. Electricity was not then in use and horses were the motive power. The line at that time was about three miles long, extending from First street
to Eleventh avenue to Bridge street, to Seventeenth street, to Eighth avenue, to Fourth street where the cars were turned on a turn-table and went back over the same route. Soon afterward a branch was constructed from the corner of Eighth avenue and Seventeenth street to Seventh avenue, to Twenty-fifth street.
In 1889 and 1890 a line was constructed from the corner of Eleventh avenue and Bridge street to Eighteenth street, to (Union avenue, to Broad street and along Broad street to city line at Twenty-seventh street. The line was also extended from Fourth street and Eighth avenue, to Sixth avenue, to Lloyd street, below First street.
In 1891 electricity took the place of horses and a power house was erected on Nineteenth street between Ninth and Margaret avenues.
In 1892 the Altoona and Logan Valley Electric Passenger Railway Company was formed and in 1893 they built a line to Hollidaysburg, six miles long.
Early in 1894 they built a line to Bellwood, seven miles.
The Hollidaysburg line begins at the corner of Twelth street and Ninth avenue and extends along Ninth avenue to Thirteenth street, along Thirteenth street to Fifth avenue, along Fifth avenue south-eastward to city line and beyond that to Hollidaysburg.
The Bellwood line extends from the corner of Eleventh street and Eleventh avenue to Ninth street, to Howard avenue, to Third street, to Lexington avenue, to First street, to Chestnut avenue and north-eastward on the country road to Juniata, and from there crossing the railroad, down the valley of the Little Juniata - five miles farther to Bellwood.
The Logan Valley, soon after its completion, secured a controlling interest in the City Passenger, and the two roads are now operated practically as one, under the same Superintendent.
In the city cars run six minutes apart, and on the Logan Valley to and from Hollidaysburg, every fifteen minutes, and to and from Bellwood every half hour during the day and until a late hour at night.
Fares in the city, including a transfer if desired, over any of the City Passenger Lines are but five cents, and the same charge is made to Lakemout Park or Llyswen, and ten cents to Hollidaysburg.
To Juniata, the fare is five cents and to Bellwood ten cents additional. No transfers are given between the City Passenger and the Logan Valley.
Lines have also been projected on other streets and avenues in the city beside those already noted, and some of them are likely to be built soon, especially one up the Dry Gap along Nineteenth street or on Washington avenue.
The Logan Valley Company laid out and beautified a fine park with a large artificial lake at a point midway between Altoona and Hollidaysburg which they called Lakemont, and which has no equal for beauty in the state. It is visited daily in summer time by hundreds and often by thousands of people, and in winter time the lake affords excellent skating, no charge being made for admission at any time.
The rolling stock of the two companies consists of twenty-five closed cars and thirty-six open cars.
The number of employes is 175.
The capital stock of the City Passenger is....................... $200,000
And of the Logan Valley, authorized $500,000 issued...... 375,000
Total stock outstanding............................. $575,000
The number of passengers carried in 1895 was 2,800,000.
The officers of both companies are:
C. A. BUCH, Secretary and Treasurer.
S. S. CRAINE, Superintendent.
Business and Resources of Altoona.
In addition to being the location of the principal shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the depot and base of supplies for engines, cars and furnishings, and the headquarters of the General Superintendent, the Superintendent of Power and Superintendents of other lesser departments, employing, in the aggregate, over 9,000 men, which would suffice alone for the foundation of a large city, Altoona has other substantial advantages.
Situated on the main line of this great trunk route between the East and West, she is surrounded on all sides with the elements of wealth and prosperity. Large deposits of bituminous coal and beds of fire clay to the north and west.
Iron ore to the southeast; limestone in almost inexhaustible supply on three sides and mountains of ganister stone nearby, indispensable in the manufacture of steel and formerly imported from Europe. Lumber regions to the north, east and west, and a rich agricultural country south. All reached and penetrated by the Pennsylvania Railroad and branches or leased lines; with competing lines contemplating an entrance, her future stability is assured. Altoona is also the natural distributing point for the territory within a radius of forty to one hundred miles in every direction and is destined, at no distant day, to become an important wholesaling city.
The manufacturing interests of Altoona are now largely with the Railroad Company, and include the production of engines, cars, both freight and passenger, and all kinds of railroad supplies. We have in addition to this mammoth industry:
One Rolling Mill employing 135 to 175 men, and producing annually $250,000 to $300,000 worth of merchant bar iron.
Two Iron Foundries.
One Silk Mill, employing 250 women and boys preparing the raw silk into yarn for the loom.
One Ice Plant, employing 30 men and manufacturing 50,000 pounds of ice per day from pure distilled water, by chemically produced cold.
Twelve Planing Mills, employing in the aggregate 350 to 500 men in the mills, manufacturing rough lumber into doors, sash, frames, etc., also several hundred carpenters outside.
One Brick Yard, employing 25 to 40 men and producing 3,000,000 building brick annually.
One Broom Factory.
One Soap Factory.
One Washing Machine Factory.
One Mattress Factory.
Three Manufactories of Soft Drinks.
Three Marble and Granite Works.
One Steam Dye Works.
One Flouring Mill.
Two Chop and Feed Mills.
Four Breweries, employing 50 men in the aggregate.
Three Cabinet Shops.
Six Cigar Factories, employing 75 persons.
Four Ice Cream Manufactories.
Eleven Merchant Tailors, employing in the aggregate 50 to 200 persons.
Forty Shoemaker Shops, employing 75 to 100 men.
Five Wagon Shops, employing 20 to 30 men making and repairing - principally the latter - wagons, carriages and sleds.
Eleven Watchmakers and Jewelers, employing in the aggregate 25 men repairing watches and clocks used in Altoona and vicinity.
Five Harness and Saddler Shops, employing 20 to 30 men making and repairing harness for the local trade.
Eleven Bakeries, employing 50 to 60 men in the production of bread, cakes, etc., mostly for home consumption.
Nine Printing Offices, printing four daily and four weekly newspapers, besides irregular publications.
One Book Bindery, doing the local work of the city and vicinity.
In the mercantile line there are the following and plenty of room for more :
Four Wholesale Grocery and Provision Houses.
One Wholesale Wood and Willow-ware House.
Three Wholesale Produce and Commission Houses.
Three Wholesale Confectioners.
Seven Wholesale Coal Dealers.
Four Wholesale Cigar and Tobacco Houses.
One Wholesale Dry Goods and Notion House.
Three Dry Goods Houses that sell wholesale and retail.
Six dealers in Builders Supplies, besides the planing mills.
Four banks with an aggregate capital of $400,000.
Ill addition to the above are several wholesale agents who carry only samples for firms in other cities.
In the retail trade there are:
Seven Dry Goods Stores.
Nine Book and Stationery Stores.
Three China, Glass and Crockery Stores, exclusively, besides three Novelty Stores that handle large quantities of the same goods.
Fourteen Clothing and Gents' Furnishing Stores.
Three Hat and Gents' Furnishing Stores.
Twenty-two Retail Coal Dealers.
Twenty-two Drug Stores.
Six Flour and Feed Stores.
Ten Furniture Stores, three of which carry other lines.
Forty-six General Stores.
One hundred and thirty Grocery and Provision Stores.
Two Butter Markets.
Seven Hardware Stores.
Six Installment and House-furnishing Stores.
Fifty-five Meat Markets.
Ten Milk Depots.
Six Millinery Stores.
Five Music Stores.
Five Novelty, Notion and 5 and 10c. Stores.
Eleven Shoe Stores, and twenty to thirty other dealers that sell shoes.
Four Tea Stores.
Nine Jewelry Stores; watches, silver, etc.
Three Department Stores, (these are enumerated also with the dry goods.)
Eight Aldermen ;
one for each ward.
Sixty-two Doctors, including two ladies.
Thirteen Dentists' Offices. Four Architect Firms.
Florists and Greenhouse proprietors.
Fifty-four Barber Shops.
Thirteen Blacksmith Shops.
Two Carpet-cleaning Establishments.
Twenty Master Painters and Paper-hangers.
Five Fruit Stores carrying fair stock, besides numerous smaller ones.
Six Steam and Hand Laundries.
Five Livervy Stables.
Six Photograph Galleries.
Twenty-four Plumbing Shops.
Six Sewing-machine Agencies.
Eight Tin Shops.
Twenty-seven Hotels, and twenty-two others with hotel license.
Eleven Fire Insurance Agencies.
Five Life Insurance Agencies.
Three Money Loaning Agencies ; real estate security.
Two Pawn Shops.
Seven Real Estate Agencies.
Thirty-four Building and Loan Associations.
One Theatre or Opera House.
One Music Hall - East Side Theatre.
One Variety Theatre or Musee.
One Natatorium or Swimming School.
Twelve Public Schools and Five Parochial Schools.
Three Business Colleges, or Commercial Schools.
Forty-two Churches, comprising sixteen denominations, with church property valued at $1,200,000.
TRANSPORTATION, LIGHT, Etc.
Two Railroads in operation and others projected.
Two Electric Passenger Railways with twenty-five miles of track; lines to Hollidaysburg on the south and to Bellwood on the northeast.
One Express Company.
Two Telegraph Companies.
Two Telephone Companies.
One large Electric Light Plant, whose 200 two-thousand candle power arc lights, supplemented by those of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, make Altoona the best lighted city in the country.
One Gas Company, with one of the finest plants in the state, making both coal and water gas.
Pennsylvania Railroad Shops at Altoona.
These are the largest railroad shops in the United States and employ over seven thousand men. They consist of three distinct plants in different parts of the city.
The original plant lies between Ninth and Tenth avenues, between Eleventh and Sixteenth streets, and occupies twenty-eight acres of ground, the buildings having an actual floor area of over ten acres. Originally all the departments were located here: locomotive, freight car and passenger car, and machinery and supplies. This part is now called the "Machine Shops," and includes the following shops and departments:
One iron foundry, size 1OOx250 feet, where all the iron castings used in the construction of cars are made, with the exception of car wheels.
One brass foundry, size 60x80 feet, where car wheel bearings and all brass castings are made.
One blacksmith shop, size 56x273 feet, with a wing 66x124 feet, containing thirty fires and three bolt furnaces.
One blacksmith shop, size 67x188 feet containing twenty fires.
One blacksmith shop in part of old No. 2 round house containing twenty-six fires.
One wheel foundry, size 73x140 feet, and a wing, 56x94 feet, with engine-house and boiler-house adjoining. The cupola chamber of this foundry is 29x40 feet, and the ladle will hold 20,000 pounds of melted iron.
One new wheel foundry, size 66x160 feet, with cupola of forty tons capacity.
One boiler shop, size 70x125 feet, with an addition or L, size 53x62 feet, and another building used for finishing which is 58x124 feet. Also about two-thirds of the old No. 2 round-house is used as a boiler shop and devoted to repairs.
One flue shop, 45x126 feet, where the flues of the boilers are made and repaired.
One lathe shop, 70x426 feet, two stories high, where castings are planed and turned smooth, cylinders bored out, etc.
One vise shop, T-shaped, one part 60x250 feet, and the other 60x90; also a grinding room 60x120 feet. In this shop the different pieces of steel used in the construction of engines are filed and ground smooth, and fitted with great precision, so as to work perfectly in the position for which they are designed.
One air-brake shop, size 60x75 feet, in which the air-brake machinery and supplies are made; also steam guages, safety valves, etc.
Three erecting shops, two of which are 66x350 feet, and one 52x356 feet, in which the locomotive engines are put together and made things of life, power and beauty. Traveling cranes, capable of lifting twenty- five tons weight are used to handle the heavy pieces of iron and steel used here.
One paint shop, 36x300 feet, in which the engines, tanks and cabs are painted, ornamented and varnished.
One tin and sheet iron shop, size 67x150 feet, where all the tin work and many articles in sheet iron and copper are made.
One telegraph machine shop, size 48x60 feet, in which much fine work is done in the manufacture and repair of telegraphic and electrical apparatus and supplies.
One pattern shop, size 70x140 feet, furnished with a 30-horsepower engine, planers, saws and other wood-working machinery. Here all the patterns for the various castings used in the shops are made. A pattern storehouse, 50x100 feet, is connected with this shop.
One cab and tank shop, size 42x105 feet, in which cabs and tanks are repaired, wheelbarrows and cow-catchers made and other work done. The new cabs are now made at the Car Shops.
One carpenter shop, 28x60 feet, with office attached. This is the headquarters of the carpenters who repair roundhouses and shops, build signal towers, repair bridges, etc.
One roundhouse for Middle Division engines, size 235 feet in diameter, with turntable and thirty-one tracks. Here engines are groomed, cleaned, examined and have slight repairs made to them when required after each trip, and prepared for the next run.
One roundhouse for Pittsburg Division engines, size 300 feet in diameter, with turntable and forty-four tracks. The men who take charge of the engines when they come in and make them ready for succeeding trips are commonly called engine hostlers.
One building, two stories high in part and three stories in part, size 40x200 feet, used as storehouse and testing room on first floor, and offices, testing department and chemical laboratory on second and third floors. The store contains the various small tools and supplies used about the shops and along the road between Pittsburg and Philadelphia; and the storekeeper keeps a record of all material used in the construction of everything made in the shops or furnished to other shops along the road. Many thousands of dollars worth of goods pass through the storehouse monthly.
The testing department examines and tests all material bought for use in the shops, before it is accepted; this being done by both mechanical and chemical tests.
The clerical department, keeping a record of all the work done, cost of the same and the time of the men, requires the assistance of more than forty accountants.
The department of labor is also one of considerable importance and requires over one hundred men loading , unloading and shifting cars and keeping the shop yard in proper shape. The foreman of this branch has a small office building for his use.
The watchmen form another part of the service, not less important than the others, as it is their duty to guard against fires and theft. Over forty of them keep watch of the buildings, grounds and merchandise; sixteen by day and twenty-five by night.
The different kinds of work done here will be apparent from the foregoing, and some conception of the amount from the following figures:
Average amount of iron melted at the iron foundry for the past ten years, 38,500,000 pounds, or 19,250 tons annually. This does not include the wheel foundry.
In the car wheel foundry, 100,000 to 110,000 wheels are moulded annually, each wheel weighing 500 to 700 pounds.
In the boiler shop an average of two locomotive boilers per week have been made for ten years past, besides many stationary boilers and repairs to thousands of both kinds annually.
The other departments are conducted on a scale of equal magnitude.
G. W. Strattan is Master Mechanic of these shops.
The Car Shops, "Lower shops," as they are commonly called, though not so appropriately since the erection of the Juniata shops still farther eastward, were the first enlargement made by the company after the original site at Twefth street became overcrowded. They were erected in 1869-70, and are situated between the main line tracks and Chestnut avenue, from Seventh street eastward to a point below First street, the lumber yard extending still further eastward for a distance of one-half mile to Juniata shops. Previous to the building of these shops, the car work, both new and repair, was done in the shops located near Twelfth street, but since then all such work has been done here at these car shops.
The car shops occupy 91 6/10 acres, including yards, and consist of the following buildings: No. 1 planing mill, in size 72x355 feet, filled with all kinds of planers, mortising and boring machines, and other wood-working machinery, driven by a 250 horse-power Corless engine, which is located in an adjoining building, 25x100 feet, and to which all shavings are carried through large iron pipes by force of suction of large blowers. The various pieces of wood used in the construction of cars are here made ready to fit into their proper places without change.
No. 2 planing mill, 44x77 feet, with carpenter shop attached, 40x115, and engine room 16x38, and boiler room 25x39. This planing-mill is engaged for the most part in getting out work for the company's buildings, depots, telegraph towers, etc., but much other work is done. There are machines for wood carving, and for turning all kinds of handles for tools.
A blacksmith shop 80 feet wide and 493 feet long, in which are fashioned all the various shapes of iron for use in carbuilding. Here are steam-hammers of 1,200 to 5,000 pounds stroke, used in forging heavy irons. A bolt machine weighing 60,000 pounds, capable of making 1,000 two-inch draft pins in a day; another of 40,000 pounds weight, which makes 3,000 coupling pins in a day. Immense iron shears, capable of cutting a bar of cold iron 3 inches thick and 6 inches wide in a second's time, or punch a hole three inches in diameter through a plate of cold iron two and one-half inches thick with the same facility.
A bolt and nut shop, 30x 135 feet.
A truck shop, 75x85 feet, where car trucks are put together ready to set the car body on.
A machine shop 70x130 feet. Here are two hydraulic presses for forcing wheels on the axles and taking them off when unfit for further service. These presses can exert a power equal to the weight of one hundred tons, and wheels must go on the axle with a pressure of not less than twenty-five tons in order to be secure.
An upholstering shop, 70x200 feet, divided into several rooms.
A cabinet shop 70x167 feet, and another room 70x200 feet, formerly the passenger car paint shop but now used by the cabinetmakers; also a room on the second floor of this latter building 50x70 feet; also another room 12x25, used for steaming and bending wood into various shapes.
A passenger shop (132x211 feet), and connected with this is a storage building for iron work 20x100 feet, and a shed for dry and worked lumber, 70x75 feet.
This department is capable of building twenty-five passenger coaches per month, but as a great deal of repair work is done they seldom make so many new cars in a month. The magnificently luxurious parlor cars of the company are all made here.
A paint shop, 135x420 feet, wherein all the passenger, parlor, mail, express and baggage cars are painted, ornamented and varnished. It will hold forty of the largest passenger cars, with room for men to work on all at the same time.
Another paint shop, 100x400 feet, in which freight cars are painted. It is not large enough, however, to hold all the freight cars usually in the process of building, and many are painted while standing on the tracks outside. Another paint shop, 53x54 feet, is used by the house painters who paint depots, telegraph towers and other company buildings.
An air-brake shop, 55x250 feet, with three tracks running the entire length of the building. Annexed to this building is a storage building, 25x60 feet, and an office for the foreman, 15x18 feet. Also a large covered platform, 20x90 feet, for storage purposes.
A freight car shop which is circular, 433 feet in diameter, with a turntable 100 feet in diameter in the open space, or court, in the centre. Within the covered space of this shop seventy-five freight cars can be built at once, and while numbers of others receive repairs on the tracks within the circle.
A tin shop, 70x175 feet.
A buffing room, 37x100 feet, occupying the second floor of a brick building near the tin shop.
A store house, one floor of which is 36x 124 feet, and another floor 36x87 feet, and an additional building, 30x50 feet, for storing nails.
An oil house, 16x26 feet, containing oils and cotton waste, used in the axle boxes of the cars.
A fire engine house, 30x50 feet, in which is kept a steam fire engine and hose carriage as a protection against fires.
A lumber yard covering twenty-five acres of ground, included in the 61 above, and in which are stored several million feet of the best lumber. The lumber being constantly received, dried and loaded for the shop, requires the assistance of seventy-five men.
Thirty watchmen are employed in these shops
The general foreman and the shop clerk's offices occupy a large brick building adjoining the storehouse, and the force, including officers and clerks, numbers twenty-three persons.
John P. Levan is the General Foreman of these shops.
THE JUNIATA LOCOMOTIVE SHOPS.
This latest addition to the works of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at Altoona were begun in September, 1888, and finished in 1889-90. The first engine was turned out July 29th, 1891. The buildings occupy a plot of ground 33 6/10 acres, lying just east of the Car Shops' lumber yard, and between it and the Borough of Juniata, and comprise the following:
shop, 75x258 feet, two stories high.
A boiler shop, 300x386 feet.
A blacksmith shop, 80x306 feet.
An erecting shop, 70x354 feet.
A boiler house, 45x78 feet.
An electricity and hydraulic building, 45x60 feet.
A paint shop, 67x147 feet.
A paint storehouse, 51-9x5-9 feet.
An office and storehouse, 52x7l feet, two stories high,
A gas house; 17x91 feet.
These shops furnish employment now to almost 800 men, and have a capacity for building 150 new locomotive engines per year. T. R. Brown is Master Mechanic of Juniata shops.
In addition to these shop buildings there are two large office buildings standing on Twelfth street, one at the corner of Eleventh avenue, a three-story brick, about 50x120 feet, and one on the corner of Twelfth avenue, about 80x100 feet, three stories high. The former is used as the offices of General Superintendent of the road, the Superintendent of Altoona Division, Superintendent of Motive Power, Principal Assistant Engineer, Maintenance of Way Department and Telegraph Department. The latter contains the offices of General Superintendent of Motive Power, Motive Power Clerk and Mechanical Engineer. Other departments of the road, viz Ticket Receivers and Relief Doctors have offices in the second story of the Passenger Station.
The Railroad Company also own the Logan House building and grounds, and a large three-story brick double dwelling on Eleventh avenue, just west of the Superintendent's office, in which reside the General Superintendent of the Road and the General Superintendent of Motive Power ; also several other dwellings on Twelfth and Eighth avenues, occupied by others of high rank.
Officers Pennsylvania Railroad Co., 1896
George B. Roberts,
S. M. Prevost, General Manager.
J. R. Wood, General Passenger Agent.
William H. Joyce, General Freight Agent.
A. W. Sumner, Purchasing Agent. James A. Logan, General Solicitor.
The foregoing have their office in the City of Philadelphia, in the magnificent building, erected for Passenger Station and General Offices, on the corner of Broad and Market streets.
officers are located in Altoona:
F. L. Sheppard, General Superintendent Pennsylvania Railroad Division.
C. A. Wood, Chief Clerk to F. L. Sheppard.
F. D. Casanave, General Superintendent of Motive Power.
W. H. Rohrer, Chief Clerk to F. D. Casanave.
B. F. Custer, Chief Clerk of Motive Power.
J. M. Wallis, Superintendent of Motive Power Pennsylvania Railroad Division.
W. E. Blanchard, Chief Clerk to J. M. Wallis.
C. T. Witherow, Motive Power Clerk.
H. M. Carson, Assistant Engineer Motive Power.
M. W. Thomson, Principal Assistant Engineer.
A. C. Shand, Assistant Principal Engineer.
D. J. Neff, J. D. Hicks and A. J. Riley, Solicitors.
John R. Bingaman, Chief Clerk Maintenance of Way.
W. S. Humes, Chief Clerk of Transportation.
A. S. Vogt, Mechanical Engineer.
Charles B. Dudley, Chemist.
R. E. Marshall, Superintendent Altoona Division.
O.F. Delo, Chief Clerk to R. E. Marshall.
W. F. Snyder, Train Master, Altoona Division.
W. F. Taylor, Chief Telegraph Operator, Altoona Division.
Christ McGregor, Yard Master, Altoona Division.
G. H. Neilson, Supervisor, Altoona Division.
H. B. Weise, Assistant Supervisor, Altoona Division.
D. Steel, Assistant Train Master, Pittsburg Division.
William Herr, Assistant Train Master, Middle Division.
G. W. Strattan,
Master Mechanic, Middle Division.
A. W. Mechen, Chief Clerk to G. W. Strattan.
John P. Levan, General Foreman Altoona Car Shops.
L. B. Reifsneider, General Inspector Altoona Car Shops.
T. R. Browne, Master Mechanic, Juniata Locomotive Shops.
Charles T. Wilson, Station Master at Altoona.
H. L. Nicholson, Ticket Agent at Altoona.
A. T. Heintzelman, Freight Agent at Altoona.
Other Industries of Altoona.
The Altoona Iron Company is the next in importance after the railroad shops. Their rolling mill was erected in 1872-3 and has been in almost continuous operation since April, 1873. Merchant bar iron of all kinds is manufactured here and the annual product reaches into the hundred thousands; 150 men are employed. H, K. McCauley is Secretary and Treasurer and Robert Smiley Manager of the mill.
A fine silk mill was erected in 1888-9 and has been in continuous operation ever since. A large annex was built a few years later and a still more important addition is now projected. About 300 employes find work here and the amount of wages paid out annually is nearly $40,000. No cloth is woven, but the yarn is prepared for weaving in the looms owned by the company in the East. Schwarzenbaugh, Huber & Co., of New York City, are owners of the new part and lessees of the original plant.
The ice plant of the Pennsylvania Ice Company, limited, located at Fifth avenue and Thirty-first street, is a large concern and supplies the greater part of the ice consumed in the city. They have a capacity for manufacturing 50,000 pounds of artificial ice per day and in addition have immense ice houses at Point View, between Hollidaysburg and Williamsburg, where great quantities of natural ice are cut and stored each winter. F. H. Seely is one of the heaviest stockholders and resident manager of the company.
Of the twelve planing mills in the city, those of William Stoke, M. H. Mackey & Sons, Orr, Blake & Co., Frank Brandt, A. Bucher and the Parker Bros. are the largest.
The four breweries of the city have an extensive trade, that of the Altoona Brewing Company on Thirteenth street being the oldest and largest. Wilhelm, Schimminger and Ramsey operate it now.
The gas works of the Altoona Gas Company are the largest between Philadelphia and Pittsburg. The company was chartered in 1857 and for many years their plant was at the corner of Eleventh avenue and Ninth street, but the present plant at Seventh avenue, and First street was put into operation in February, 1892, shortly after which the old works were demolished and the ground is now occupied by track and a freight shed of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. John Lloyd is President of the Gas Company and George H. Harper Superintendent.
The Edison Electric Illuminating Company was organized in 1887, by John Loudon, A. J. Anderson and others and established a plant on Tenth avenue between Tenth and Eleventh streets, which was occupied until April, 1896, when the present large and thoroughly equipped plant at Union avenue and Nineteenth street was completed and put in operation. W. R. Dunham is President, having been elected early in the present year, and A. J. Anderson Secretary and Business Manager, E. B. Greene, Superintendent.
The city water system of Altoona is one of great magnitude, the plant having now cost over $1,000,000. The gathering and storage reservoirs at Kittanning Point, on the Pennsylvania Railroad at the Horse Shoe bend about six miles west of the city, are works of art as well as monuments of engineering skill and well repay a visit and inspection. They have a combined capacity of 430,000,000 gallons and over 45 miles of iron pipe, from 2 to 16 inches in diameter, convey the water by force of gravity to the city and distribute it to all residents.
The newspapers of Altoona city comprise four dailies and five weeklies, including the weekly edition of two of the dailies. Two of the dailies, the Tribune and the Times, appear in the morning and tell of the various happenings of the world during the preceding day and up until midnight, while two others, the Mirror and Gazette, coming from the press about 5 o'clock in the evening tell of the happenings, local and general, during the early part of the day.
A number of monthly publications are also issued in the interests of various lodges and societies, but none of general circulation. These will be referred to again in the article on the press of the county.
Altoona has a well organized paid Fire Department, which superseded the volunteer firemen May 1, 1895. It consists of a Chief Engineer and 35 men. Three steam fire engines in service and two for emergencies; five hose carriages in use and two extra ones, one hook and ladder truck, 7,000 feet of hose (1 1/4 miles) and 14 horses for hauling the engines, truck and hose carts.
There is in the city a library, the " Mechanics," which while not being free is largely patronized by the best class of citizens. It is fostered and materially assisted by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. G. W. Stattan is President Rev. Allan Sheldon Woodle Vice-President, W. C. Leet, Secretary, Miss L. L. Snyder, Librarian and Dr. C. B. Dudley, Chairman of the book committee.
Altoona has a public hospital. The building was first erected in 1885 at a cost of $40,000 and was opened for the reception of patients January 1, 1886. The building has since been enlarged and now, with the grounds, represent a value of about $60,000. John P. Levan is President, L. B. Reifsneider, Secretary. The medical staff consists of Drs. John Fry, Chief of Staff, F. N. Christy, W. S. Ross, J. N. Blose and J. F. Arney, who serve without compensation. It is supported by voluntary contributions and State appropriations.
Big Things of Altoona.
The people of Altoona are not given to boasting; they are, in fact, too modest in putting forth the claims of their city to prominence. If they had a city like Altoona in California, Colorado or Kansas it would be advertised all over the world and heralded as a marvel of the age, but, when an Altoona man goes away from home or speaks of the town he only admits that it is a pretty good place, business is good, the city is growing rapidly, etc. Some evidently desire rather to suppress than exagerate the facts, for fear too many people will come here.
Among the very large things of which they could boast, are:
The Pennsylvania Railroad passing through and giving the best possible service in the matter of transportation.
The freight yard of the railroad here is nearly five miles long and capable of holding half the cars in the United States when the tracks are all laid.
The largest railroad shops in America, building the finest cars and locomotive engines made and employing over 7,000 men.
A growth in the past forty-five years, unprecedented in the history of this country, from a few scattered families to almost 50,000 people.
A future whose outlook is most promising.
A surrounding country unsurpassed in the world for beauty of location and picturesque scenery.
A climate more favorable to health and longevity than the boasted climate of California.
Water and air as pure as any nature has provided for man in any place.
Of manufacturing establishments the largest, after the railroad shops, are a rolling mill, employing 150 men, a silk mill with 250 employes, twelve planing mills, furnishing employment to 300 to 500 men, an electric passenger railway having 25 miles of track, employing 175 men and furnishing rapid and cheap transportation in the city and suburbs and to the county-seat and Bellwood.
"Whoever is alive a hundred years after this will see a considerable sized town here, and this will be near about the middle of it.
Thus Adam Holliday is said to have spoken to his brother William, as he drove a stake into the ground on the hill above the Juniata river, in 1768, where Hollidaysburg now stands.
He was right; in 1868 the borough of Hollidaysburg occupied the land which he chose for a farm in that early day and nearly 4000 people claimed it as their home. It did not require one hundred years to work the change; in 50 years a small village had sprung up and Adam Holliday's children were enjoying the advantages of a civilized community and the results of their father's labor - Adam was dead. In 75 years from the date of this remark Hollidaysburg was the largest and most important town between Harrisburg and Pittsburg, having both a railroad and a canal. At that time only a few cities in the United States could boast of a railroad. The Allegheny Portage being one of the very early ones of this country. One hundred years after the settlement of the place Hollidaysburg was a flourishing borough containing, with its suburbs, and Gaysport 4,000 inhabitants. Having two large iron furnaces, two rolling mills and large machine shops and foundrys, and being the county seat of one of the most important counties of the state. Thus was the prophecy of Adam Holliday fulfilled.
The Holliday brothers, when they started from their early home in the Conococheague Valley, did not intend to locate here, and clearing the ground for the seat of justice of a great county was farthest from their thoughts. They had intended to go to the Allegheny Valley near Kittanning, but could not get through Blair County, the beauty of the situation appealed to them too strongly to be resisted and they resolved to settle here.
Thousands of other people since that time have experienced the same difficulty in passing through Blair County, if they stopped long enough to take in all the advantages it offered, they were sure to remain and thus it is that now more than 80,000 people have their homes here and the number is being rapidly augmented. What another half century may bring to the Empire of Blair man knoweth not, but in the innermost thoughts of her friends are visions of future wealth, prosperity and greatness, so vast that they hesitate to give expression to imaginations, lest they be laughed at as visionary and impossible.
Adam Holliday purchased 1,000 acres of land on the eastern side of the river including all of the site of Hollidaysburg and William obtained a like amount on the western side where Gaysport now stands. They bought from the Proprietaries - descendants of William Penn, and the price paid was five pounds sterling per hundred acres, equal to $220.20 for each thousand acre tracts. Each built a log house on his tract, as both were men of families and cleared and resided on their land for many years. William is supposed to have kept his until his death but Adam was disposessed of his on account of some imperfection in his title. He was paid for it however, by the government some time after the Revolution, receiving $17,000 or $18,000 which made him a very rich man for this region and that time.
As to the location of the first houses erected, authorities differ and the exact truth cannot now be determined. Mr. U. J. Jones, writing a "History of the Juniata Valley" in 1855 says Adam Holliday's house stood about where the American House now stands, while H. H. Snyder, esq., writing some 25 years later locates it on the southwest corner of Allegheny and Montgomery streets. Adam Holliday died at or near Hollidaysburg in 1801 leaving but two children, a son John and a daughter Jane. The latter married William Reynolds, of Bedford county, proprietor of Bedford Springs Hotel. John Holliday lived the greater part of his life here and here he died in 1843. He had a family of ten children, vis: Adam, born Nov. 9, 1804, who went to Oil City, Pa. Mary born April 25, 1806, married Andrew Bratton and moved to Lewistown, Pa. Sarah, born Dec. 11, 1807, married Soloman Filler and moved to Bedford, Pa. Lazarus L., born Nov. 5, 1809, died in Missouri, July 17, 1846. John, Jr., born Dec. 8, 1811 was a soldier in the Mexican war and died on ship board while enroute from Vera Cruz to Galveston Aug. 2, 1842. Alexander L. born May 7, 1814, resided in Hollidaysburg all his life, Jane born Aug. 27, 1816 married J. L. Slentz and moved to Pittsburg, where she died in 1869. Caroline, born July 12, 1818, married D. McLeary and resided at Hollidaysburg all her life time. William R., Sept. 16, 1820, moved to Massachusetts. Fleming, the youngest, born May 25, 1823, and moved to the west. The names of children and grandchildren of William Holliday and what became of them we have been unable to learn, in the short time at our disposal.
The exact date at which Hollidaysburg was laid out, is in some doubt, but it was prior to the beginning of the present century,
probably about 1790; though H. H. Snyder in his historical research came to the conclusion that it was at least ten years earlier because a Janet Holliday owned a lot, and a Janet Holliday was killed by the Indians in 1781. It is probable, however, that it was Jane Holliday, daughter of Adam, and not Janet daughter of William, who met so early and sad a death. Whatever may have been the date, the original plot contained but 90 lots 60x180 feet in size and the streets were Allegheny, Walnut and Montgomery a diamond was formed by taking 30 feet off the end of each of the four lots cornering there. As Allegheny street was 60 feet wide and Montgomery street 50 feet, it follows that the diamond was 120x170 feet, and so it has remained to the present time. The original plot cannot now be found and the only copy known is not dated.
The little town did not grow rapidly at first and in 1814 there were but three houses, a small store and a blacksmith shop. In 1830 it was not nearly so large or important a village as Frankstown, but when the canal was finished and the great basin and terminus located at Hollidaysburg the place immediately began to grow and in 1835 it was a very important town, far exceeding Frankstown. The Hollidaysburg Sentinel and Huntingdon, Cambria and Bedford County Democrat, the first issue of which was published Oct. 6, 1835, in a descriptive article said that the population was 1,200 and that no town in the interior of the state enjoyed more advantages than Hollidaysburg. This census included Gaysport. In 1836, eight daily transportation lines operated on the canal and railroad and the tolls collected on the canal, railroad, and for motive power that year amounted to $154,282.74. The borough was chartered in August that year and the council held their first meeting at John Dougherty's house Sept. 20, 1836.
Higher vilization soon became apparent for the young borough went in debt in June 1837 for public improvements. One of the bonds, or evidences of debt, reads as follows:
"HOLLIDAYSBURG BOROUGH LOAN.
is to certify that there is due to bearer from the Burgess, Town Council, and
citizens of the Borough of Hollidaysburg ONE DOLLAR bearing an interest,
redeemable in the payment of taxes, by virtue of an ordinance passed by the Town
Council June 19, 1837."
''JAMES COFFEE, BURGESS."
$5,342.69 of these "borough notes" were outstanding on the 6th of April 1844, at which time the total indebtedness of the borough was $ 16,311.30.
The ''Huntingdon, Cambria and Indiana County Pike" was completed from Huntingdon through Hollidaysburg to Blairsville in 1819 and the canal from Huntingdon to Hollidaysburg in 1832; the first boat coming from Huntingdon Nov. 28. The Allegheny Portage railroad was completed late in 1833 and operated in 1834 making a line of transportation by boat and rail complete from Philadelphia, through Hollidaysburg to Pittsburg, and Hollidaysburg became one of the most important towns between the two points, an extremely prosperous business place. When the new county was formed and Hollidaysburg made the seat of justice, in 1846, it added still more to her prestige and it seemed as if her cup of prosperity was full to the brim. A few years later, 1851, the Magnetic telegraph as it vas then styled, was extended from Bedford to Hollidaysburg and during the following year 1852 the railroad from Altoona was completed.
Until the construction of the canal, the business center of Hollidaysburg was at the diamond but with the advent of the canal it all gravitated to the basin at the foot of Montgomery street. A town hall and market house was erected about 1835, midway between the diamond and canal basin and many stirring scenes have been witnessed where now oppressive quietness reigns since the railroad superseded the canal and the latter was abandoned. The old market house was abandoned excepting a part which was fitted up for the borough fire company, but later it was entirely disused, and after standing tenantless for several years was finally torn down, at a period still quite recent.
The large warehouses and store buildings which were erected near the basin have been changed to dwellings and in some cases removed since the railroad superseded the canal, and the business part of the town has gone back to its old location around the diamond and along Allegheny street. Many of these changes occurred before the advent of any considerable manufactures. The furnaces, and rolling mills are of more recent origin than the railroad and even this industry seems to have reached its highest point some years ago.
The canal began to fall into disuse soon after the completion of the Pennsylvania railroad and in a few years more was entirely abandoned as a channel of commerce; the water stood stagnant within its banks a few years longer when it was drained off and the embankments broken down, the stone in the locks taken away for other uses and now the line is only faintly traceable through the county. The Allegheny Portage railroad began at the western
end of the basin and continued thence across the Juniata and through Gaysport to Duncansville and "Foot of Ten" where it began its steep ascent of the mountain to another plane, along this plane to another incline and so on to the mountain top, and down on the other side to Johnstown, 39 miles from Hollidaysburg, the beginning of the western division of the canal.
Iron manufacturers had been operating in the upper Juniata Valley for 50 years before any furnaces were erected in Hollidaysburg, but to compensate, in some degree, for this, those built at Hollidaysburg, in 1855, were much larger and more complete than any others and used coke for fuel instead of charcoal as the earlier and smaller ones in the county had done. The first of these furnaces called the Hollidaysburg furnace but later known as No. 1, was built by Watson, White & Co., at a cost of about $6o,ooo. It stood on the Gaysport side of the river. The principal contributors to the enterprise were Col. William Jack, McLanahan, Watson & Co., Robert and B. M. Johnston, David Watson, William Jackson, A: M. White and Samuel S. Blair Esq. It was first put in blast Nov. 18, 1856, and had a capacity of 120 tons per week.
Chimney Rocks Furnace, later known as No. 2, was built in 1855-6 by Gardner, Osterloh & Co.. Although bugan later than the other it was completed first, but was of less capacity. A few years later, owing to financial difficulties, these two furnaces came under one control. The Blair Iron & Coal Company composed of Watson, Dennison & Co. and the Cambria Iron Co., of Johnstown. They were thus operated for many years. Quite recently however, the old No. 2 furnace was abandoned and torn down so that now there is but one furnace at Hollidaysburg.
The Hollidaysburg Iron and Nail Company is the name of the corporation now owning and operating one of the rolling mills at Hollidaysburg. The mill is located near the No. 2 furnace and was built in 1869 by B. M. Johnston. In 1866 some new members were taken in and the company chartered under the above name. The works have been operated almost continuously for thirty-six years.
The other rolling mill was built later and is now operated by the Eleanor Iron Company, R. C. McNeal Secretary and Treasurer. These are both quite extensive works, the Iron and Nail Company employing 150 men. Nails were made here at one time, but the nail department has not been in operation for some years.
McLanahan, Smith & Co. have an extensive foundry and machine shop in Gaysport, where they manufacture large quantities of machinery which is shipped to various parts of the country, the Southern States especially. These works were first started in 1857 as the Bellrough foundry and have been enlarged several times since by successive owners.
First settlement made
Janet Holliday and brother massacred by Indians.........1790
Town laid out about...................................................1790
Pike completed though ...............................................1819
Canal completed to here and first boat run...................1832
Portage Railroad completed........................................1833
Population 1,200 in.....................................................1836
Incorporated as a borough .........................................1836
First court held in M. E. church, July 27.......................1846
Magnetic telegraph from Bedford................................1846
Pennsylvania Central Railroad and first train.................1852
First fire engine (hand engine)......................................1837
First iron furnace.........................................................1855
First rolling mill............................................................1860
First water-works, from Brush Mountain ...................1867
Present countail jail completed.....................................1869
Presbyterian church completed....................................1870
First steam fire engine..................................................1871
Present Court House built............................................1877
Largest fire, Wayne and Allegheny streets loss, $2,000,
Telephone service from Altoona...................................1881
Memorable flood, May 31...........................................1889
Electric Passenger Railroad from Altoona.....................1893
Water brought from Blair run........................................1895
Celebration of Semi-Centennial, June 11 and 12..........1896
If some adventurous person had followed the Juniata River to near its headwaters any time between the years 1770 and 1785 he might have seen, shortly after passing through the gap in the Bald Eagle mountains, a level, triangular piece of ground, surrounded on three sides by the mountain, and high hills and from the north a stream of about the same size as the Juniata joining it here; also a smaller stream flowing from a large spring and emptying into the Juniata, and, in a small clearing near this spring, a hut or rude dwelling inhabited by a half civilized Indian. This flat is where Tyrone now stands and the Indian was Captain or Chief Logan an Indian differing little from others of the Cayugas, to which tribe he belonged, except that he had laid aside the implements of warfare and lived by hunting and fishing and by cultivating some of the land surrounding his cabin. He was not proud, "but had he known the post mortem honors that the future had in store for him, that a rich and pleasant valley, a township, a borough, an immense hotel and others of less size, beside numerous lodges, societies, etc., and a great electric railway company would be named after him, he might have been more dignified than he was. Fortunately he never dreamed of these honors and when, in 1785, a white man secured the legal title to the land that he had held only by possessory right, and told him to move off, he did so without much objection and journeyed north to near the present site of Clearfield, where he ended his days in peace.
The name of the white man who thus cruelly dispossessed the peaceful old Indian has not been preserved, but he did not hold the lands long. About the beginning of the present century they formed part of a large mineral tract owned by John Glonninger & Co., who in 1806 erected forges at the place now known as Tyrone Forges. A little village grew up around the Forges and a farmer or two and a man with a saw-mill, Elisha Davis, occupied the Indian's former land as tenants of, or purchasers from, Glonninger's. The Forges soon after became the property of Wm. M. Lyon & Co. Jacob Burley was one of the very early settlers here and built a log house in 1820 or perhaps earlier where the Central Hotel now stands.
No town was projected until the Central Pennsylvania Railroad as the Pennsylvania Railroad was then called, was in process of construction, then Tyrone sprung into being.
The first plot was surveyed in the spring of 1851 by direction of Wm. M. Lyon & Co. It consisted of 75 lots only, lying north of Juniata street and west of Main. During that season six or eight small buildings were erected for stores and residences. A frame house built by Jacob Burley in 1850 where the Study block now stands was used as a store and dwelling that year and was the first store in the new town.
No name was given the place by its proprietors at first but it was called Eaglesville by some and Shorbsville by others for the first year or two, but when it became apparent that it would grow into a village it was christened Tyrone City. The latter part of the name to distinguish it from Tyrone Forges, less than a mile distant. Tyrone City grew quite rapidly and in a few years contained enough people to entitle it to a postoffice, and F. M. Bell was appointed first postmaster, which office he held until 1857, keeping the office in his store. There has been no halt in the growth of Tyrone, although it has not increased as rapidly as Altoona. In 1870 the population was 1,800, and now, with its suburbs, it is fully 8,000. By an Act of Assembly, approved May 1874, it was divided into four wards, which is the present number.
The completion of the Pennsylvania Railroad through Tyrone from Philadelphia to Pittsburg, opened up a new outlet to market for the products of Center county, and the people were not slow to take advantage of it. A plank road was completed from Bellefonte to Tyrone in 1853 and in 1856 the project of a branch railroad to connect with the Pennsylvania Railroad was agitated, and the Tyrone and Lock Haven Railroad Company was organized. This company did not have sufficient capital to build the line and it fell through, but in 1861 the Bald Eagle Valley Railroad Company was formed, and with some assistance from the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the railroad to Lock Haven. Connecting also with Bellefonte by a branch from Milesburg.
A road to Clearfield, opening up the rich lumber and coal fields of that county, was projected in 1856. The Tyrone and Clearfield Company, organized to build it found the undertaking too great and were also obliged to obtain assistance from the Pennsylvania. This road was also built in 1862, and the two branches brought an immense amount of business to Tyrone. The Tyrone Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad, to manage these two branches, was established at this time, and the car repair shops at Tyrone were built in 1868. The Tyrone and Lewisburg branch, which also belongs to this division, was constructed in 1881-2.
The Tyrone Gas and Water Co. was authorized by Act of Assembly March 10, 1865, but no organization was completed until 1869, at which time a company was formed with a capital of $20,000 and water works immediately constructed and pipes laid in the principal streets. The Gas Works however, were not built until 1873. Gas was expensive in those days, the rate to consumers being $3.50 per thousand cubic feet. A Volunteer Fire department was organized in 1868 and Wm.. Stoke, now of Altoona, was the first Fire Marshall of Tyrone. The first steam fire engine and 200 feet of hose was purchased in 1873 and given in charge of the Neptune Fire Co., which had been organized as a Hose Co. in 1871.
The Bald Eagle tannery, one of Tyrone's important industries was erected and put in operation in 1870 by Daniel P. Ray and after his death in 1881 operated by his sons John K. and Daniel P. Ray. The tannery is located close to the passenger station.
The Tyrone Paper Mills, the largest industry in Tyrone and one of the largest of its kind in the state, was built by Morrison, Bare & Cass in 1880 and put in operation in October of that year, and has been running successfully ever since. It is situated on Bald Eagle Creek at the upper end of Pennsylvania avenue. Several hundred men are employed and immense quantities of wood are used in the manufacture. They make manilla writing, book and news paper, wood being the principal ingredient, being chopped into small chips and reduced to pulp by chemical processes.
The first Building and Loan Association in Tyrone was organized March, 1870, and called the Tyrone Building and Loan Association. Another, the Bald Eagle, was organized May, 1872. The first hotel erected for the purpose in Tyrone was the Central, built in 1852-3 by John Burley, it was afterward enlarged and is now carried on by C. M. Waple. The Ward House, by the passenger station was built in 1859 to 1862 by Mrs. Mary Ward. It is now conducted on by J. T. Rowley.
The first bank in Tyrone was that of Lloyd, Caldwell & Co., established in 1866 and went down with the other Lloyd banks in the financial crash of 1873.
The Tyrone Bank was established April 1, 1871, and the Blair County Banking Co., organized Dec. 15, 1874.
Had there been some deadly miasma in the air as fatal to human life as the conditions seemed to be to the early newspaper ventures, Tyrone would be an uninhabited spot to-day, but fortunately there was not.
The first newspaper started in Tyrone was a weekly in 1856 by D. A. McGeehan and called the Iron Age politics, Democratic. It continued for a year or a little more when it failed and the proprietor was sold out.
The American Era was commenced a little later the same year, owned by a stock company and edited by W. S. H. Keys, politics, Republican. The rival papers maintained a bitter warfare with each other and both failed about the same time, the press and type of the Era being purchased by Robert Stodard. The town was without a paper for a while and then the Tyrone Herald was started with the same outfit formerly used by the Era.
It failed after a year's struggle against adverse circumstances and was revived later under the name of the Star, by James Bell, but the Star was not a fixed one and failed after a short period. Again a newspaper was started under the name of the Tyrone Herald, H. R. Holtzinger, editor. It survived six months. Holtzinger being a Brethren minister, soon after started a denominational paper called the Christian Family Companion, which succeeded quite well, but in a few years was moved to Somerset county. Soon afterward the Western Hemisphere was started by J. W. Scott and Cyrus Jeffries, but eighteen months was as long as their finances would support it and it too was carried to the newspaper cemetery of Tyrone and laid to rest sadly by the side of its many equally unfortunate predecessors.
The Tyrone Herald, for the third time, made its appearance on the newspaper horizon in August, 1867, but it could scarcely claim relationship to or descent from either of the other two Heralds which preceded it. Holtzinger and J. L. Holmes were proprietors of the Herald this time and it proved a success. In 1868 C. S. W. Jones became part owner which was a guarantee of its stability and success, and it still survives, occupying a building of its own. In July, 1880, the office was burned out but the paper did not lose an issue on that account. It is now published daily and weekly, the daily having been begun in 1887, C. S. W. Jones still editor and proprietor.
The Tyrone Bulletin., by Matthew H. Jolly, was issued from April, 1867, for six months, when it collapsed.
The Tyrone Blade was established by J. L. Holmes after his retirement from the Herald. He published it from June 1, 1870, to November 22, 1872, when he sold it to George Stroup who changed the name to the Tyrone Democrat, which was published until July 8, 1880, when the great fire destroyed the office and the paper was never revived.
The Tyrone Times was first begun as a semi-weekly paper June 1, 1880, by John N. Holmes, son of J. L. Holmes and A. M. Wooden, the office being in a building of Mr. Wooden's on lower Main street and the outfit a complete new one. August 10th, the same year, it was changed to a weekly. It passed through several hands, being owned and edited by C. G. Nissel for a long time, but is now published by Harry A. Thompson, who became its owner February 1, 1896.
This beautiful little town, formerly called Bells' Mills, is noted for its picturesque mountain scenery. It is situated on the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, midway between Altoona and Tyrone. It is also the southern terminus of the Pennsylvania Northwestern Railroad, formerly the Bells' Gap, which was constructed in 1872 and later extended to Punxsutawney in Jefferson County and passes through a rich coal and lumber region. The town first began to build up around the saw and grist mill of Edward Bell about the year 1828, but only attained a small size until the building of the Bells' Gap Railroad. It was regularly laid out in 1877. The shops of this company are located here and furnish employment to a large number of men. There is also a foundry and machine shop doing an extensive business. The place contains three hotels, several stores, a bank, four churches, Methodist Episcopal, Baptist, Lutheran and Presbyterian. In 1884 the Logan Valley Electric Passenger Railway extended their tracks to Bellwood and that is now the eastern terminus of the line, although it is likely soon to be continued to Tyrone. The population of Bellwood is now 1,500.
When the first morning sun of the Nineteenth Century rose it saw more evidences of civilization in Williamsburg and vicinity than any part of Blair county. The town plot had been laid out in 1795 by Jacob Ake, who owned 600 acres of land including the present village site and surroundings, and it is said he had a school kept here about the year 1790 he furnishing the room and paying the teacher and the settlers sending their children without charge. If this be true it was the earliest free school in this region. The town plot contained 120 lots 5Ox175 feet in size. The original streets were Front and Second, each 60 feet wide, Plum, 50 feet wide, High, 66 feet in width and Spring only 42, eight feet being allowed for the flow of the spring, The early name of the town was Akestown, after its founder. It is said that in 1814 there were forty families here and that was equal to the population of Frankstown at the time and far in excess of Hollidaysburg. A saw and grist mill run by the water from the big spring were built and operated as early as 1791 or 92. A bucket factory was established in 1830 by Hawley & Woodcock. and soon after a woolen factory by David Bender. An oil mill and tannery and several distilleries here, were among the very earliest industries of the county. The canal passed through in 1832 and the present Williamsburg branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad was constructed about 1870.
An iron furnace was built in 1857, which was run for a number of years, but has now been removed and the only evidence of its existence to-day is a large pile of furnace slag. Williamsburg is beautifully situated on the Frankstown branch of the Juniata river and under favorable conditions has the making of a large city, and such it may ultimately become, but now its principal claim to distinction is as the birthplace, or near it, of some of the most prominent people Blair county has produced. One now occupies a seat in the Supreme Court of the State, another is a member of Congress, another Mayor of the city of Harrisburg and another will soon be elected to represent this county in the State Legislature. The population is at present about 1,000. There are a number of stores, four churches, a bank and several smaller manufacturing establishments. The wonderful spring still turns the wheels of a good grist mill.
The country in the vicinity of Martinburg was settled before the Revolution, but Martinsburg town was not laid out until 1815. The first plot was by Daniel Camerer and John Soyster built the first house. Abraham Stoner laid out a plot adjoining Camerer's in 1820, and James McCray plotted an extension to the borough in 1871.
The growth of the town was slow; in 1860 the population was 464 and in 1880 567. Now it is about 1,000..
The borough was incorporated in 1832 and in 1834 a second Act of Assembly enlarged the bounds considerably.
The surrounding country is a rich agricultural district, and a very good trade is carried on here with the farmers of the lower end of the county.
No iron works were ever built at Martinsburg and no large industries of any kind established, but a big building, known as the Juniata Institute stands on the outer edge of the town and may be considered the most prominent feature. (See schools). Besides a number of stores, a hotel, and several churches there is a bank, the Martinsburg Deposit Bank which was established in 1870.
A small newspaper, the Cove Echo, was published here in 1874-5 by Henry and John Brumbaugh. Unlike other towns of the county Martinsburg is not surrounded by mountain scenery, but occupies a comparatively level plain.
This beautiful and flourishing borough contains about 1000 inhabitants, and is one of the newest towns of the county, although it is the site of the first grist mill in all the region. Jacob Neff, built a mill here, below the Springs, about the year 1765, but it was not until quite recently that a town grew up in the vicinity. The Spring is one of the natural curiosities of Pennsylvania, bursting from the foot of a slight elevation, it sends forth a stream of clear, pure and cold water, of sufficient volume to turn an over-shot water wheel and run a fair sized grist mill; to which use it was put for many years, but now the large flouring mills of D. M. Bare & Co., are driven by steam power, although the water for the boilers comes from the spring.
As before stated, a grist mill was erected here at a very early day, the exact date now unknown, by Jacob Neff; and it was burned by the Indians and rebuilt by him prior to the Revolution. Later, but still long, long, ago, it was owned by John Ullery, who was its next proprietor. It passed through various hands and finally came into the possession of D. M. Bare who, in 1864, purchased the old mill, and in 1869 erected the present large one. Later, he associated others with him and the firm was styled D. M. Bare & Co. "Bare's Best," flour became a household word throughout a wide territory. Mr. Bare, in partnership with Eby, Morrison & Co., in 1866, built a paper mill just below the grist mill and these two, together with a blank-book factory erected in 1886, are the great industries of the town; furnishitig employment to a large number of persons. The first regularly laid out town lots were those plotted for D. M. Bare. in 1865 - fifty in number. Hon. George H. Spang also laid out a plot adjoining these in 1874 and in 1887 the borough was incorporated, and in the spring of 1888 the first borough officers were elected.
A fire destoyed the paper mill in 1866 and another in 1887 the book factory, but both were immediately rebuilt. A large hotel was erected in 1888, near the depot. The railroad was extended from Hollidaysburg to Roaring Spring, Martinsburg and Henrietta, in 1871. It should be needless to add that the town was named from the spring, but it will surprise strangers to learn that no one now living, ever heard this spring roar. It is said, however, that in the early days of the country it did send forth a roaring sound that, in the stillness of the forest, could be heard for half a mile, and that changes made at its mouth obliterated this feature but not the name.
Tipton, Fostoria and Grazierville.
These are small, very small villages, on the P. R. R. between Bellwood and Tyrone. The two former were started about the same time as Altoona and Tyrone but did not thrive as their projectors had hoped and both now present a somewhat forlorn and deserted appearance. Yet the time is not far distant when they may put on new life and activity. The entire valley from Bellwood to Tyrone is very attraciive and when the Logan Valley Electric railway is completed to Tyrone, it will all be built up with residences and become one continuous town. Grazierville was the location of Cold Spring forge long before the railroad was built and it is but a small hamlet now, the forge having long since ceased to burn and its very site almost obliterated. Davidsburg is a small but ancient village on the public road between Bellwood and Fostoria, off from the railroad. It was laid out in 1827, by John Henshey, and named in honor of his son David. Chief Logan, the Indian, had his wigwam beside the spring here before he
located at the present site of Tyrone. Prior the construction of the P. R. R. this place was on the public road leading from Bellefonte to the Portage railroad at Duncansville and was quite a flourishing village, with three stores, two hotels, a tannery, two blacksmith shops, etc. Dr. Crawford Irwin, now of Hollidaysburg, located here in his younger days.
The Future of Blair County.
No man can see an inch beyond the present, but a careful observation of the present, together with a thoughtful study of the past, often furnishes a basis for almost positive predictions for the future.
Such observation and study has occupied much of the writer's time and the result has been such as to fully satisfy him that Blair county has before her a future of great brilliancy. The situation is worthy of special consideration. The superficial area of the county is large, 594 miles, half as much as the State of Rhode Island and more than one-fourth the size of Delaware and while surrounded on all sides by mountains, a large proportion of the soil is tillable and most of it reasonably fertile. Well cultivated it would support a large population, though of course, not nearly as large as many other parts of the State. Her ability to maintain a population of 100,000 is easily demonstrable, and this is one factor in the case.
That she already has so many inhabitants, and is so far ahead of the surrounding counties in population and in the possession of a large city, Altoona, is another important factor. It gives her prestige, which is a drawing power, proven by the hundreds of people from the immediately adjacent counties now and daily arriving. It is not reasonable to suppose that any other city within a radius of 100 miles will ever surpass or even equal Altoona in size. She is the metropolis of Central Pennsylvania and will remain so without a rival. There are too many shrewd and intelligent men here, with property interests at stake, for her steady growth to be checked for an instant.
For Altoona to cease growing means bankruptcy for them and they will keep enterprise on the move as a matter of self-preservation. With such men, so interested, and backed by a rich and powerful railroad, like the Pennsylvania, can anyone think for an instant that Altoona will cease growing before her population has reached 100,000, or that it will be allowed to stop even there ?
The Pennsylvania Railroad is solidly built, has possession of the field and from the nature of the country it would be almost impossible for a parallel and competing line to be profitably constructed anywhere near Blair county. A north and south road is feasible, would prove a benefit to the Pennsylvania Railroad and will undobtedly be built; and Altoona, as the largest city of this region, accessible by rail in every direction, will be the center of
trade and, of course, prosper greatly. Altoona being a great city and also a part of Blair county, it follows, necessarily, that Blair county will be great and every part of the county be benefitted by proximity to it.
Furthermore, Blair county has mineral wealth. Some of it has been partially developed, but there is much reason to believe that the vast body of her mineral deposits are yet untouched. Some day a man with money to waste will erect a derrick in some of the valleys, perhaps Logan, below Bellwood, and after spending a few thousands will find petroleum oil gushing out in such quantities as to repay him in a week. Then others will do likewise while many will say, " I thought as much. Why was it not done before ? "
Some time shafts and slopes will be sunk in Blair county from which vast quantities of coal will be taken, and fortunes will be made by that industry. Manufactures will flourish here, too: There is no reason why they should not. Artisans enjoy life better and can do more work in a healthy climate, where air and water is pure and the surroundings beautiful, than where the contrary is true, therefore thousands of mechanics will, in the early future, reside in Blair county and the products of their labor will be sold all over the world. Will not Blair then be great? Nearly everything that can be manufactured profitably in any part of the United States may, under good management, be manufactured here with profit; especially such articles as are in constant and general use by us. A pound of raw cotton , worth 6 or 7 cents in the fields of South Carolina is shipped to Massachusettes and made into print cloth; is sent to Blair county and we pay 50 to 75 cents for it. A pound of wool in California, worth 20 to 25 cents, also goes east and after being made into cloth comes to Blair county and we pay $1.50 to $2.00 for it. The difference represents the labor of eastern mechanics and the profit of eastern manufacturers and wholesalers. These and a hundred other things might be made in Blair county, and the workmen engaged at it live here and help to swell our aggregate of population and wealth. Some day this will be done.
Places of Interest which Visitors to Blair County should See.
First, the immense shops of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, in their three departments of Machine shops, Car shops and Locomotive shops, where everything pertaining to cars and engines is made; where parlor cars of the most luxurious design and finish costing $12,000 to $20,000 are constructed and locomotive engines weighing a hundred tons are built, capable of rushing
through the country, on steel rails, at the rate of a mile a minute and hauling freight trains of such enormous weight that 1,000 teams of horses could not move them.
Second, the large freight yard extending from the eastern limits of the city to Elizabeth furnace, nearly five miles ; not yet completed but having miles upon mile of side tracks on which may be seen thousands of cars.
The extensive paper mills of Morrison & Cass, at Tyrone, where fine book paper is made from the thousands of cords of wood piled up on all sides of the mill. A similar plant, though not so large, at Roaring Springs.
The Logan House, at Altoona, which Bill Nye, when he stopped here, said was as large as the State of Rhode Island ; that he slept in the northeast corner of it, two miles from the clerk's office.
The stupendous reservoir at Kittanning Point, where over 400,000,000 gallons of water is stored for the use of Altoona.
The '' Horse-shoe Bend " of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Kittanning Point, and the grand mountain scenery from there to Bennington, which has been admired by thousands of people from all parts of the world.
Roaring Spring and the big spring at Williamsburg, both of which flow strong enough to run a grist mill.
Flowing spring near Williamsburg on the Pennsylvania Railroad branch which ebs and flows at irregular intervals.
Sinking run in Sinking Run Valley, Tyrone township, which is quite a good sized creek and after a flow of several miles is completely swallowed up and disappears in the earth.
Arch Spring in the same township near Water Street, which bursts from an arched formation in a hill side and produces a large stream which flows into the Juniata river. This is supposed to be the same Sinking run which disappears some miles to the west.
The large lime stone quaries and kilns at Frankstown, Duncansville, Canan Station and other places.
The ruins of old iron furnaces, at Allegheny Furnace near Altoona, others at Frankstown, Williamsburg, Elizabeth Furnace, McKee's Gap and elsewhere.
The beautiful park and lake at Lakemont on the Logan Valley Electric Railway, midway between Altoona and Hollidaysburg.
Wopsononock mountain and observatory, reached by the Altoona, Clearfield and Northern railroad from Juniata.
The magnificent landscapes to be seen from elevated points in and near Hollidaysburg, Altoona, Bellwood and Tyrone, and the beautiful Logan Valley as it may be viewed from the cars of the Pennsylvania Railroad in passing from Altoona to Tyrone. Also hundreds of other beautiful and interesting things and localities that will be pointed out by old residents of the county.
1846. LITTLE BLAIR. 1896.
As from the rock that towers high,
The eagle gazes toward the sky,
Then spreads his wings and soars away,
To bathe his plumage in the ray
That falls in freshness from the sun;
So Blair from lofty Huntingdon,
Gazed upward toward Dominion's sky,
And quick to see and strong to fly,
Sprang upward in her liberty,
And rose to glorious destiny .
For fifty years her wings she's tried,
For fifty years her strength and pride
Have weakened not, but stronger grown,
'Till through the land her power's known,
And Pennsylvania's counties fair,
Obeisance pay to LITTLE BLAIR.
Her rock-ribbed mountains, high and blue,
Are not more strong and not more true,
Than is her love for those who gave
Their strong, young life our Land to save,
Who heard great Lincoln's call for men
And died in field and prison-pen.
Blair's heroes sleep far, far from home,
Their only epitaph, "UNKNOWN!"
But angels bright are sent of God
To watch beside their beds of sod.
Long as our mountains pierce the skies-
Till God shall bid the dead arise- .
Ne'er let the work our heroes wrought,
By children's children be forgot.
Brave "Boys in Blue," when strife was o'er,
When cannon ceased to flame and roar;
When God's sweet angel whispered "Peace!"
And caused the noise of war to cease;
With sunburnt face and battle scars,
Beneath the dear old Stripes and Stars,
Marched homeward to the hills of Blair,
While shouts of welcome filled the air.
These "Boys in Blue," so brave and strong,
Are with us now, but not for long;
For one by one they pass within
The tent that has no "outward swing."
The debt we owe them never can
Be paid on earth by mortal man.
May He who died a world to save
Smile on our heroes, true and brave.
But Blair has other heroes true
As those who fought in lines of blue
For Freedom, and inscribed their name
High on the scroll of deathless Fame.
Who, in the time of testing, stood
Where duty called, and never would
Their post forsake, but did their part
in face of Death, like noble Sharp.
God's richest blessings on him rain
Who saved the wildly rushing train;
Who bravely answered Duty's call
And gave the world a second Paul.
Where robed in ermine justice stands,
Her balanced scales within her hands,
Blair's sons now sit in court supreme
Impartially to judge between
The right and wrong of every cause-
Maintaining justice and her laws.
Where statesmen "clutch the golden keys
To mould mighty state's decrees-"
In congress halls her sons have gone
And lasting honors there have won.
In church at home and church abroad
Her sons proclaim the truth of God,
And heathen far beyond the sea
Point to the Christ of Calvary.
Her teachers, too, well "skilled to rule"
In city or in village school,
Have learning's strong foundation laid
In mind of boy and mind of maid,
Till all her sons and daughters fair
Are now the pride of "Little Blair;"
While some have climbed Parnassus' hill,
Whose name and fame the nations fill.
Her Press so strong, so true and free,
To plead for Right and Liberty;
All shams expose, all truth defend;
Has proved herself the People's friend.
As our own mountain air is free,
So let our Press forever be!
The peerless Corporation, too,
Known o'er the world, as strong and true
As Johnstown Bridge, well known to fame,
That stood so firm when torrents came;
To all her men both kind and fair,
Has brought large wealth to "Little Blair."
In busy shops, on flying trains,
With brawny arms and giant brains,
With courage true and matchless zeal,
Her sons promote the Nation's weal.
years she's done so well,
No mortal all her deeds may tell;
While mountains pierce the ambient air,
0 live and flourish, glorious BLAIR!
IDA CLARKSON LEWIS .
Altoona, a, Pa., April 13, 1896.
HOW THE SEMI=CENTENNIAL WAS CELEBRATED.
The Program as It Was Carried Out, June 10, 11 and 12 1896.
The two old and true sayings that "Man proposes but God disposes," and "There's many a slip 'twixt cup and the lip, did not receive much additional illustration during the great Jubilee of Blair County in commemoration of the completion of her first fifty years of independent existence, as the pre-arranged program was carried out with but little change. Providence seemed to smile on the efforts of the people of Blair to properly celebrate the occasion. The weather all that could have been desired; frequent showers during the week preceding and on the first two days of the week of festivities led to some apprehension that it might be a failure, but on Wednesday morning the clouds were dissipated and not another drop of rain fell until the last set piece of the pyrotechnic display of Friday night had enacted its part and the curtain dropped on the scene.
Wednesday afternoon, June 10, 1896, at 2:30 o'clock the first formal meeting took place. It was the bar of Blair County entertaining guests, distinguished jurists, and members of the county bar with reminiscent speech at the Court House, and in the evening a banquet at the Logan House, Altoona.
The afternoon meeting was called to order at 2:30, and on motion of A. A. Stevens, Esq., Hon. Martin Bell, President Judge of the county was chosen chairman. Rev. D. H. Barron, D. D., pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Hollidaysburg, offered a prayer, and a sextette under the leadership of Charles Geesey, Esq., sang the national anthem "America." The singers also rendered other appropriate selections, at intervals, during the afternoon. Hon. D. J. Neff, the oldest active member of the bar , delivered the address of welcome. He was followed by Hon. Augustus S. Landis with a historical address which occupied an hour in the delivery.Other short addresses were made by Hon. William Dorris of Huntingdon, one of the five surviving members of the original bar, Hon. John Scott of Philadelphia, and Hon. John Fenlon of Ebensburg also among the few survivors of that first court in Blair County nearly fifty years ago. Mr. Justice John Dean of the Supreme Bench, was the last speaker after which W. L. Pascoe Esq., of Tyrone, at 5 o'clock, moved the adjournment of the meeting in a few well chosen sentences.
Among the distinguished guests present were: Hon. John Dean of Hollidaysburg, Hon. A. V. Barker and Hon. John Fenlon of Ebensburg, Hon. John M. Bailey and Hon. William Dorris of Huntingdon, Hon. John Scott and H. 0. Kline of Philadelphia, Hon. J. H. Longenecker of Bedford, Hon. Scott Alexander of Fulton County, and others.
The addresses of Col. Neff and Judge Landis are given in full on the following pages.
In. the evening the bar and invited guests assembled at the Logan House, at 8 o'clock, for a reception and banquet. They sat down. to the banquet table at 9:45 and, with the exception of some attorneys from Hollidaysburg and Tyrone who were obliged to leave on the 12 o'clock train, did not quit the banquet hall until 7 o'clock in the morning. No wines nor intoxicants of any kind were served, and the last two hours were spent in responding to the toasts, J. S. Leisenring, Esq., toast-master.
Hon. L. W. Hall, of Harrisburg, to whom had been assigned the task of responding to "The Lawyer" was not present and this toast was not offered. Mr. Justice John Dean responded to the toast "The Judiciary" and spoke feelingly. Thos. H. Greevy, Esq., responded to the toast "Our Clients" in a humorous vein. W. I. Woodcock, Esq., in the absence of Judge Bell, who was unable to remain to the end of the banquet, responded to the toast "Our Guests." Most of the guests of the afternoon were present at the reception and banquet at night, and the Christian Endeavor Sextette led by Chas. Geesey, Esq., rendered some pleasing music. The Committee on Arrangements was composed of Hon. Martin Bell, Hon. A. S. Landis, A. A. Stevens, Hon. D. J. Neff, J. S. Leisenring, W. L. Hicks, W. S. Hammond and H. A. McFadden.
Thursday morning's sun rose in a cloudless sky and the temperature was not much above 70 degrees Fahrenheit at any time ; a gentle breeze making the day a perfect one for marching, no dust and no mud. This was Military Day and shortly after 11 a. m. the columns of soldiers moved off over the route assigned in the following order:
Chief Marshal Theodore Burchfield and Staff,
Altoona City Band, Fifth Regiment Drum Corps,
Fifth Regiment National Guards of Pa.,
Battery "B" of the Second Brigade,
Sheridan Troop, N.
G. P., of Tyrone,
Capt. C. S. W. Jones,
containing members of the General Committe and distinguished Guests,
Second Division--Marshall and Staff,
Post No. 39, Grand Army of the Republic,
Post No. 62, Grand Army of the Republic,
Roaring Spring Drum Corps,
Post No. 82, Grand Army of the Republic, of Roaring Spring,
Continental Drum Corps,
Post No.172, Grand Army of the Republic, of Tyrone,
St. Patrick's Band of Gallitzin,
Post No.426, Grand Army of the Republic, of Bellwood, Reese's Cadet Drum Corps,
Post No.468, Grand Army of the Republic,
" 474, "
" 574, "
People's Band of South Fork,
Encampment No.17 and 37 Union Veteran Legion,
Camps Nos. 12, 89 and 234, Union Veteran Legion,
Carriage containing old Soldiers,
German Veteran Association of Altoona.
The route traversed was from the starting point near the depot in Gaysport, across the bridge into Hollidaysburg, Allegheny street to Juniata street, to Mulbury street, to Amelia street, to Allegheny street, to Jones street, to Walnut street, to Juniata street, to Allegheny Street toUnion street. Distinguished guests not in carriages reviewed the procession in front of the Court House.
The parade ended about noon and at 2:45 p.m. the ceremony of unveiling the monument began in front of the Court House. The Semi-Centennial Chorus of 200 voices, Charles Geesy, Esq., director, sang "America" in a thrilling manner, and Rev. D. S. Monroe, D. D., presiding elder of the Altoona District, Central Pennsylvania Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, offered the invocation and at its conclusion the choir sang "To Thee, 0 Country," after which Comrade Henry L. Bunker unveiled the Soldiers' Monument and Captain Robert Johnson formally presented it to the County Commissioners. Hon. J. D. Hicks, member of Congress from Blair County received it in the name of the Commissioners and made a brilliant ten minute speech in which he said that 4,000 soldiers from Blair County fought for the preservation of the Union and there was not a battle fought during the war in which there were not men engaged who were from Blair County.
Thomas J. Stewart, Adjutant General of Pennsylvania, followed in an able oration occupying half an hour, after which the band played a patriotic air. The assembled multitude then sang the doxology "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow," and the meeting adjourned at 4.06 p.m. In the evening the Grand Army Posts held a Camp Fire in front of the Court House and thus the exercises of the second day closed.
Friday, the last day of the celebration, dawned bright and clear, and was a most perfect summer day, the temperature being most delightful, 70 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit, and a pleasant air stirring. By six o'clock in the morning the electric cars to Hollidaysburg were crowded with people to the County seat. Most of the stores and the P. R. R. shops in Altoona were closed all day. Both electric cars and railroad were taxed to their full capacity carrying passengers and by half past ten in the morning, when the great civic or industrial parade started, there were not less than 25,000 people in Hollidaysburg and Gaysport, and the total number of visitors during the day was nearly 40,000; being about double that of the preceding day.
The parade started at 10.30 from Gaysport and marched across the Juniata river to Hollidaysburg, to Montgomery street, along Montgomery to Blair, along Blair to Jones, along Jones to Walnut, along Walnut to Juniata, along Juniata to Mulberry, along Mulberry to East Hollidaysburg and Allegheny street, along Allegheny street past the Court House, where it was reviewed by Judge Dean, the Mayor of Altoona and Burgesses of the different Boroughs of the County, to Gaysport where it disbanded.
It consisted of eleven divisions, led by Chief Marshal W. C. Roller, Jesse L. Hartman, Chief of Staff, and aides.
The first division comprised the Red Men, representing the aboriginese, carriages with guests, Executive Committee, the Altoona City Band, and the various lodges of Odd Fellows of the County, twenty or more, and the National Boys' Brigade, of Altoona.
SECOND DIVISION comprised the Patriotic Sons of America, nine camps.
THIRD DIVISION-Uniformed Rank Knights of Pythias and U. R. K. P. Band of Pittsburgh.
FOURTH DIVISION-Junior Order United American Mechanics, several councils and numbering 1,000 men, the Oneida Social clubof Altoona and the Tyrone Division Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.
FIFTH DIVISION-Order of Artisans, Reese's Cadet Corps, Assembly No. 29 of Altoona and No. 11 of Hollidaysburg.
SIXTH DIVISION-Knights of the Golden Eagle, Uniformed Rank, and several subordinate castles, makin a fine display.
SEVENTH DIVISION-Catholic Societies, including Knights of St. George, Emerald Beneficial Association, St. Patrick's Band and others.
EIGHTH DIVISION-Young Men's Institute of Altoona, Councils Nos. 120, 132 and 299, Logan Band and St. John's Temperance Cadets.
NINTH DIVISION-Firemen : Volunteer Firemen's Association of' Altoona, Altoona P. R. R. Firemen, Tyrone Firemen, without equipment,
and the Phoenix Fire Company of Hollidaysburg with engine and full equipment, Bellwood Firemen, Bellwood Band, Druncansville Fire Company and hose cart, South Fork Fire Company and Band, and other visiting firemen. An old fashioned hand fire engine brought up the rear.
TENTH DIVISION.-Employes of Hollidaysburg Rolling Mill, 150 strong, in working costume and carrying some of their work implements.
ELEVENTH DIVISION. -Floats. -M e r chandise and machinery displays, ancient relics, old canal boat, old stage coach, etc., The float of William F. Gable &, Co. of Altoona, was the most artistic and costly one in this division, representing an immense urn entirely covered with expensive lace, "Justice" with her scales, "Liberty" and "Arnerica ;" all draped in white and drawn by eight gaily comparisoned white horses, in tandem, with attendants dressed in white. The Young America Clothing Co. also had a beautiful historical tableaux.
The procession was about one and one-half miles in length and was three-quarters of an hour passing a given point. Between five and six thousand persons took part in it, while twenty-five to thirty thousand spectators lined the streets along which they passed.
In the afternoon the Semi-Centennial. exercises were held in the Court House, beginning at 2:40. The room was packed long before the hour for beginning : the crowd began to fill it soon after twelve o'clock. As the Court room will only contain about 1000 persons it follows that not one-thirtieth part of the people in town could gain admission.
At 2:10 the Altoona City Band played a patriotic selection.
At 2:45 Judge Bell called the meeting to order and made a few brief remarks in which he illustrated the wonderful improvements in the past fifty years by comparing the old mail packets, taking a week to carry mail from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, while now we could flash our I words by telephone from New York to Chicago almost instantaneously. He paid a high tribute to the enterprise of Altoona and her wonderful growth, and to the broad and liberal policy of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, the richest in the word, probably. Rev. J. F. Hartman, pastor of the Second Lutheran church of Altoona, offered a prayer, the Semi-Centerinial Chorus of two hundred voices sang "Red, White and Blue ' " after which Hon. J. D. Hicks read the Prize Poem, "Little Blair ' " written by Mrs. Ida Clarkson Lewis. The Band and Choir rendered some more music, and the chairman introduced Hon. John Dean, one of the Justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, a native and life-long resident of the county, who delivered the historical address of the occasion; a maserly effort, dealing largely with the religious predilections of the first settlers of the county. The paper is given in full on the following pages.
The address was followed by more music and then, after a few preliminary remarks suitable to the occasion, the Rev. Father Cornelius Sheehan. pastor of St. Mary's Catholic church, Hollidaysburg, pronounced the benediction, and the meeting adjourned at 4:35 p.m. The formal ceremonies of the celebration closed with the adjournment of this meeting, I but one of the most entertaining features was yet to come - the pyrotechnic display on Campus Ridge, near Lakemont Park. This began at 8:50 at night with the ascension of a large paper balloon to which explosives were attached. The air being calm it went almost straight upward till it was lost to view among the stars. Fifteen hundred dollars worth of fireworks were used in the entire display of the evening, some of the set pieces being very fine, among them a full sized locomotive engine and tender. The closing one, "Good Night," sent out its last sparkling scintillation at 10:33 p.m., and Blair County's Serni-Centennial passed into history.
On the whole it was air immense success from first to last. Not a hitch of any kind occurred. The assembled crowd was larger than any which Blair County had ever seen and not an accident worth recording happened during the entire time.
In Condron's Opera House, Hollidaysburg, was maintained an exhibition of relics worth many thousands of dollars, as such, leaned by the individual owners and free for the inspection of everybody. They were surrounded at all times with hundreds of appreciative visitors.
Among these relics and other exhibits were old tomahawks, arrow heads, Indian utensils, guns which had shot Indians, guns, pistols and swords that had been used in the revolution and earlier, guns and swords of the war of 1812, the Mexican war and the war of the Rebellion, the first printing press used in Blair County, copies of the first newspapers printed here in 1834-5-6, old deeds one hundred years old and more, the original charter of the Portage Railroad, a clock that kept the time in the Portage shops in 1832, still in running order, a piano made at Flowing Spring in 1827, and hundreds of other equally interesting relics; pictures of all the Judges of the county since its organization, etc.
The Address of Hon. Daniel J. Neff, Welcoming to the Celebration the Guests of the Bar Association.
The people of this county, and others from far and near, who were at one time residents thereof, or who are interested in its history, will, during this week, commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the county. They will review the progress that has been made in art, sciences and invention, the improvements in machinery, in the modes of transportation and the growth and development of the county in population and wealth of the past 50 years. The occasion will be most interesting and instructive to all the participants. The judiciary and the bar of the county have deemed it advisable and opportune, that they also should observe the occasion and commemorate it in a suitable manner. The administration of the laws deeply concerns all the inhabitants of the county. In all enlightened commonwealths the due administration of justice has been esteemed as of great public interest, of supreme importance, and an upright and independent judiciary one of the safeguards of civil liberty. When we consider the character and attainments, learning and ability, of the judges, past and present, who have occupied the bench, we cannot doubt that this county has been fortunate in its judiciary. Judges have sat in our courts who have shed a luster upon the jurisprudence of the commonwealth, and who would compare not unfavorably with John Marshall, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States with Sir Matthew Hale, Chief Justice Mansfield, or with Sir Edward Coke, the greatest oracle of municipal jurisprudence in England.
Speaking of the amenities of the bench, I once heard Judge Taylor pay a high compliment to the Supreme Court. A gentlemen of the bar had been arguing a question before him at considerable length. The judge was against him, but he persisted in his argument. The judge finally told him it was useless to argue the question further; he had decided it. But he said, "you have your remedy; take an exception, and you can take the case up and have my decision reviewed by a court that cannot err." His honor specially emphasized the last two words.
We can look back over 50 years of: eventful history and contemplate with interest the many important issues that have been tried, the important decisions of our courts that have been rendered establishing the rights of person and property and defining the landmarks of the law. There is, at times, much in the proceedings of courts to excite and attract popular interest. There are witnessed the tragic and the comic sides of human life, its ups and downs; life histories and life tragedies are rehearsed with more of passion and pathos than upon the mimic stage, and the curtain falls upon many a scene of human misery and despair. The forensic displays of the Roman Forum in the palmy days of the republic and the empire, the great trials of thrilling and historic interest in Westminster hall, its meridian glory, are remembered with an absorbing and never fading interest. There, within the old walls of Westminster hall, "has stood the Duke of Norfolk, to answer the charge of asserting the right of Mary Queen of Scots, to the throne of England and Earl of Strafford, accused of high treason against the sovereign whom he served too faithfully, and Warren Hastings, around whose was the gorgeous splendor of eastern imagery evoked by the spell of eloquence from the lip of Sheridan and Burke."
The gentlemen of the bar who attended the first court held in this county in 1846, and were then admitted to practice in the several courts of this county, and who are yet living will, no doubt, reflect upon the many changes that have taken place in the intervening years. They probably journeyed to Hollidaysburg by canal boat by stage coach, or perhaps partly by canal and partly over the inclined planes of the Portage Railroad. The Pennsylvania canal, in connection with the Portage Railroad, constituting a great public highway between the east and the west, was regarded at that time, and in fact was, a work of great magnitude, of supreme importance. Time had been when the mode of transportation, at least in Central Pennsylvania, was principally by broad wheeled Conestoga wagons lumbering slowly along the pike between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, or arks of rude and primitive design, floating down our rivers. The canal east and west of the mountains, traversing in many places dense forests, with the connecting links of the rail and inclined plane, across the Alleghenies, extending through a country abounding in mineral resources and undeveloped wealth, constructed with arduous labor and consummate engineering skill, was considered one of the greatest achievements of the age. The Allegheny Portage was pronounced by enlightened engineers in England and France as one of the then wonders of the world. The exalted purpose, the vast importance of these works, connecting as they did with the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers at Pittsburgh, and with the Ohio and Mississippi establishing a great commercial waterway or highway to the Gulf of Mexico, extending in their beneficial effects to the utmost limits of
the national domain, and in their prospective operation and effects into the far future could not be overestimated. The engineers and scientists of that day were men of high intelligence and varied knowledge, who had studied carefully the most advanced systems of inland navigation and railway construction in Europe and applied the knowledge thus acquired to the advancement of great enterprises at home. Standing in the van of civilization and human progress, they helped to build up a great Commonwealth in enduring strength. The canal commissioner of that day was an important man, sometimes bigger than the Governor himself or the Legislature, the power behind the throne greater than the throne itself, making and unmaking the fortunes of men. The canal boat captain also was a big man. He walked the deck of his craft with as proud a step as the commander of a man-of-war walks his quarterdeck. These great public works, it was supposed, would be enduring would last for ages, like the Roman aqueducts or the Appain, over which, for centuries, the legions of Rome marched to their distant conquests. But the tireless energy and the inventive genius of man have conquests over the forces of nature and the elements undreamed of in that day. The continent is spanned by great railways grappling the states together with hooks of steel and bands of iron. Queen Victoria can say "good morning" to Grover Cleveland through the submarine cable. It is said that Chauncy M. Depew recently a message around the world--25,000 miles-- in four minutes. We have the inestimable advantages and conveniences of the electric railway. The telephone is an accomplished fact and the Roentgen ray has been discovered. During the last years dynasties have risen and fallen, there have been social and political upheavals in various parts of the world, and mighty blows have been struck for civil liberty, the rights of men and the emancipation of the oppressed.
The world moves and the young man of this age who would keep up with the procession must step lively.
The changes in our laws have kept pace with the progress of the age in other respects. These changes and innovations upon the common law have been in the direction of reform and improvement tending to the elevation man and the amelioration of the condition of woman.
The act of April 9,1849, exempting property of a debtor to the value of $300 from levy and sale on execution or by distress for rent is a humane and beneficient law, as are also all the various laws protecting and giving a preference to the wages of manual labor.
The legal status of married women has been entirely changed, and sweeping modifications have been made by the acts of 1848, 1887 and 1893.
The act of April 11, 1848. was the first great departure. It provided that every species and description of property, whether real, personal or mixed, which may be owned by or belong to any single woman shall continue to be the property of such woman as fully after her marriage as before, and all such property, of whatever nature or kind, which shall accrue to any married woman during coverture, by will, descent, deed of conveyance or otherwise, shall be owned and enjoyed by such married woman as her own separate property, and such property shall not be subject to levy and execution for the debts or liabilities of her husband.
The acts of 1887 and 1893 were still greater departures in the same direction, tending to the protection of married women in their right of property.
In our grandmothers' days a married woman could hardly be said to own her spinning wheel in her own right. Now the dashing femme covert can spin along the public highway on her wheel and hold and own her spinning wheel in defiance of the world.
The Constitution of 1874 made great and radical changes in the fundamental law.
The act of May 25, 1887, known as the civil procedure act, abolishing the distinctions theretofore existing between the different forms of actions ex contractu and actions ex delicto, and providing that the plaintiff's declaration shall consist of a concise statement of his demand, wrought a great and needed reform, and greatly simplified the pleadings and proceedings in the trial of causes. All these changes were made during the last 50 years. Much of the old and curious learning of a former age contained in old and musty tomes Doomsday books has become obsolete. Much of what might be termed the rubbish of the law has been swept away.
At the time of the organization of the county and for many years afterwards, the judge and the lawyers usually wrote down all the testimony during the progress of the trial. We are relieved of that labor now, as the official reporter and stenographer does that work. The judge's charge and the testimony are all typewritten by the reporter, and the pleadings filed are also usually typewritten.
In former times the Altoona lawyer would pack his grip on Monday morning and engage lodging at a hotel at the county seat for a week or during the sitting of the court. For many years during the terms of court I regularly occupied room 29, at the American House, then kept by that jolly landlord and genial host, Daniel K. Ramey. Now all that is changed by the electric cars, which run every 15 minutes and land the Altoona lawyers at the steps of the court house. The Altoona lawyer can stand at the telephone in his comfortable office and by issuing his oral mandate through the phone can
put the whole clerical force of the prothonotary's office in motion or he can be treated to a learned dissertation on practice by Judge Bowers at long range.
Judges and lawyers have, from time immemorial, been inclined to polite, social intercourse and rational enjoyment. They have been disposed to reasonable relaxation after labors of the bench and the contests of the forum.
In England, in the olden time, the sergeants at law were inducted into their office with great state and ceremony. It was attended with feasting, which sometimes lasted for several days, and at these feasts the lord chancellor and some of the highest dignitaries of the realm, sometimes including the king himself, sat down. On these festive occasions the lord chancellor usually headed the procession to the banqueting hall, thereby giving the sanction of his official approval to this important function. The newly created sergeants at law were allowed the high privilege of paying the bills for these banquets. Rich and fragrant are the memories that cluster around the inns of court and chancery, which Ben Johnson characterizes as "the noblest nurseries of humanity and liberty in the kingdom." It is said that the inns of court and chancery were celebrated for the magnificence of their entertainments. True to those honored and immemorial traditions, and cherishing the past associations of the bench and bar of Blair county, the Blair County Bar association have invited the judges of adjoining and adjacent counties, and all the lawyers now living formerly were resident practitioners at our Bar, and the judge of the Supreme Court sat for many years as president judge in this county, and the only three ex-associate judges of this county now living to participate in this semi-celebration.
It is gratifying to us to meet here so many worthy representatives of the judiciary and gentlemen of the bar from other localities.
Cambria County is here represented by its learned President Judge. The rarified atmosphere of that elevated plateau upon which Ebensburg stands seems to have quickened and sharpened the wits of its Judges and lawyers, for they have always been celebrated for their wit. Michael Daniel Magellan, Michael Hasson and Robert L. Johnson were all in their day, noted wits; Frank P. Tierney, who many years ago, removed from Ebensburg to Altoona and died some years ago, was a genuine wit, and as a mimic he had few equals. Although of Irish descent he could delineate the German or Irish character with equal facility. His mantle has fallen upon a gentleman who is now the acknowledged wit of our bar. I forbear to mention his name as he is present, and I know he is averse to public notoriety. It may not be said of him, perhaps, as was said of one of the characters in the "School for Scandal" that his wit costs him nothing, as it is always at the expense of a friend. It might be said, however that it costs him nothing in this sense : It costs him no effort. It is spontaneous. It effervescences and bubbles like champagne. But I fear I trespass on Judge Landis' domain. He is expected to give us the history of the Blair County Bar. It is, I presume a clear case of trespass quare clausum fregit.
The Supreme Court of the State is represented here by one of its learned justices who, on this anniversary, can look back with satisfaction on the many years during which he occupied the bench in this county with credit and distinction.
There is a gentleman here who formerly practiced at this bar, although a resident of Huntingdon, now residing in Philadelphia. He was admitted at the first court held in 1846. Those who heard him at the bar in days gone by will esteem themselves fortunate in having the opportunity of seeing him and hearing him again.
There is a gentleman from Harrisburg present who years ago enjoyed unbounded popularity and was a power in law and politics in this county. His numerous friends will greet him with the cordiality of the days of yore.
To the Judges of neighboring counties, to the Judges of the Supreme Court, to the old members of the bar, to the ex-Associate Judges of the county, the only three now living, to all who have responded to our invitation and kindly favored us with their presence, the Blair County Bar Association sends greeting and extends a Cordial welcome to a participation in all there is of interest, of' cherished memories, and of enjoyment in the celebration of our Semi-Centennial. Few, if any of us, will see Blair's centennial.
May we now hope that the centennial of 1946 will be the dawn for our County and for our country of the millennial morn of a yet grander and nobler destiny. But as we may not be there to see it let us thank God that we are living to see the Semi-Centennial, and make the best of this occasion, while the train stops at this half-way station.
Address of Hon. Aug. S. Landis, History of the Bar of Blair County.
It has been said that the history of a revolution is often but the history of one man. By proper antithesis, it is perhaps just as true that the history of a legal bar is the history of many men.
When it is remembered that the component parts are the judges, invested with the delegated powers of the law, the attorneys and barristers who invite the application of these powers to obtain for suitors a resultant product called justice, the officer who records and perpetuates the adjudications of the court, and that other executive department, which relentlessly enforces the law as crystalized into its peremptory mandate, many men with diversified minds give it body, efficacy and character. What they thus have done during fifty years constitutes its history for that period.
The bar of this
county came into existence in the year 1846. It had been
a long struggle whether there
should be a Blair county. The subject was first discussed about the year 1839. This town was then a prosperous, growing town. It was at the head of canal navigation,. It was the point of transhipment from
canal to railroad transportation. It was on the only traffic thoroughfare in the state. These conditions
brought many people here. The state employed many men to operate the public improvements. Large forwarding houses were erected, and their owners handled the ever-increasing freight tonnage
passing east and west. Large capital was embarked in this business, and in mercantile and manufacturing enterprises. Bituminous coal found upon the land of Samuel Lemon, near the Summit, became a leading article of trade for domestic use and transportation. Whilst it was the only great distributing point for a neighborhood of large radius, it was also the entrepot for the products of a rapidly developing territory. Its promise of a future urban population and wealth invited many from other parts, who came to share its generous and flattering fortunes.
This increased population and business necessarily gave rise to litigation, and applications for various purposes to the public officers and the courts. Huntingdon county, of which it was part, had its county seat at Huntingdon, which lay thirty miles away, to be reached by laborious and wearisome driving over two mountains. This inconvenience gave rise to the effort to have erected a new county, of which this busy and growing centre should be the county seat.
During the six or seven years when the subject was discussed, whilst all were favorable to the project, many were active in the work until it was finally accomplished. Among them should be named William Williams, afterward president of the Exchange bank at this place: Peter Cassidy, a well-known surveyor: Peter Hewit, Silas Moore, Ed. McGraw, John Walker, Dr. Joseph A Landis, Dr. James Coffey,Samuel Calvin, William McFarland, Joseph Dysart, George R. McFarlane, William C. McCoimick James M. Bell and R. A. McMurtrie.
The necessary legislation to erect the county having failed at the first session of the legislalure in which a bill was presented, it was finally enacted at the session of 1846, and was approved by Governor Francis R. Shunk on the 26th of February, 1846. When the news came to the people of the new county there was great rejoicing, and it was a day in this county capital in which the people were buoyant with an expectation they felt to be assured of great future development and prosperity.
This only in a measure was realized, for in a few yearsthe colossus which reared itself but a few miles away cast its shadow upon the new plant and chilled and checked its young life. It can, however, assume to itself one comfort - that it lives to celebrate its survival of its disappointment, and the possession of many advantages,conveniences and benefits which others do not have and which keep it abreast with the day's civilization, socially, morally and intellectually.
The county, under the act, took from Huntingdon county the townships of Allegheny, Antis, Snyder, Tyrone, Frankstown, Blair, Huston, Woodbury, and part of Morris. Bedford was compelled to give up North Woodbury and Greenfield townships. Since then, the townships of Juniata, Freedom, Logan and Taylor have been formed from other townships. The boroughs of the county are Hollidaysburg, Gaysport, Martinsburg, Duncansville, Roaring Spring, Tyrone, East Tyrone, Williamsburg, Bellwood and Juniata. Altoona is the only incorporated city.
Thus, in 1846, a new county was added to the state's long list, with a population of some 17,000 and an area of 510 square miles. The population in 1890 was over 70,00.
It was, by the same act, made part of the Sixteenth judicial district. This district already comprised the counties of Franklin, Bedford, Somerset and Fulton. Judge Jeremiah S. Black was the president judge, and thus, by the enactment, he became the first judge of this county.
It is well, also, to remark that Huntingdon county formed part of one of the original districts of the commonwealth - the Fourth judicial district - which embraced many of the original counties, and which was justly noted for having furnished so many able and eminent judges and lawyers in both the supreme and common pleas courts.
Until the new court house should be completed court sat in the old Methodist church building on Walnut street west of Montgomery street. This was a one-story brick building perched upon the brink of a hill, thirty feet from the street. The approach to it was by a broad stairway and for the temporary purpose was convenient and suitable. On the 27th of July 1846, Judge Black with his associates, George R. McFarlane and Daniel McConnell, at 10 a.m. ascended the platform, and the crier opened the court with the usual formality. Colonel John Cresswell was district attorney, but there was but little to demand his official attention.
The following persons were sworn to the bar:
LIST OF ATTORNEYS COMPOSING THE ORIGINAL BLAIR COUNTY BAR
(Members sworn in July 27, 1846.)
Samuel S. Blair,
A. W. Benedict,
Samuel M. Barkley,
J. M. Bell,
A. G. Curtin,
Joshua F. Cox,
Theodore H. Cremer,
James T. Hall,
David H. Holdius,
Charles H. Heyer,
Michael Hasson, Isaac Hughes
Robert L. Johnston,
William J. Jacobs,
F. M. Kimmel,
J. R. Lowrie,
John G. Miles,
M. D. Megehan,
R. A. McMurtrie,
William P. Orbisonin
James M. Russell,
William M Stewart,
John Scott, Jr.,
Samuel H. Tate,
Making forty-nine in all. On Tuesday, the 28th, three more were added: George Taylor, afterwards president judge; Alex Gwin and John A. Blodgett making fifty-two as the original number of the membership.
No causes were tried and the traverse jury was discharged, and the court adjourned on the 28th of July.
Of the court and bar as thus constituted, except five, all are dead. The judges are all dead. and of the bar ex-Senator John Scott, Colonel William Dorris, Hon. Titian J. Coffey, ex-assistant attorney general of the United States, Hon. John Fenlon, ex-member of the house of representatives, and William P. Orbison, esq., alone survive; but some of these survivors are here today, and whilss I am silent as to them, they, themselves, will tell us of the past.
A glance at the personnel of this court and its bar in the light of their subsequent history will disclose a remarkable body of men. They were educated lawyers. They were nearly all proficient in their professional knowledge and experience.
The same care, zeal, caution and research which the lawyer of today exerts, was practiced then. He strove to attain to the same acumen and success then as now. The professional ambition and ethics of that day are indeed made more conspicuous by the lower grade of principle and tarnished acts, which too often offend the honorable lawyer of the present.
We can recall the appearance of the president judge. His massive head and intellectual face were impressive to both acquaintance and stranger. He was the man of whom, under Dr. Johnson's conditions, it would be asked, who is he? He was learned, decided, courteous and dignified. He possessed the confidence of the bar, and during his remaining life he was the admiration of his many friends. He became a justice of the supreme court, attorney general of the United States and a delegate to the constitutional convention of 1873. He continued, after leaving office, to be one of the busiest and most eminent lawyers in the land. He was of counsel in the argument before the presidential commission in 1877 and his effort before that tribunal exhibited many of his most conspicuous, as well as most valued, characteristics.
Among those who were sworn to the bar before him on that day was one who subsequently became as widely known as Judge Black. Andrew G. Curtin was then but a modest lawyer in Bellefonte. His career in state politics as the great war governor of Pennsylvania, minister to Russia, delegate to the constitutional convention of the state and member of congress with national fame, is now easily recalled.
These two men met during the year 1873 in Philadelphia on the floor of the convention. With no partisanship, they vied in the responsible task of perfecting the fundamental law of the state. Both had achieved fame, both had the respect and affection of their colleagues, and both left their impress upon the instrument which now constitutes our organic law. Both were often participants in many controversies on that floor. The writer recalls a scene of pleasurable excitement and surprise when, in the discussion of the question of legislative apportionment, the judge learned from his adversary that his vast learning was of no value compared to the governor's practical knowledge of men and things.
A well known figure at the bar in those days, and many years thereafter, was Mr. Miles. He was very fair in complexion, large and handsome. His reticence gave him a dignity which he never lost. He was laborious and indefatigable. His arguments were long and exhaustive. He stood at the counsel table to talk to the court, and sometimes stood at the witness box, requiring the judge to turn in that direction to face him. His voice was high and sharp and penetrated every part of the room. His manner was earnest and convincing, and to the boyish mind the wonder was that anything more need be said. He continued in active practice for many years and died in Peoria, Ill., in 1877, leaving an honored memory.
Mr. McAllister, of Bellefonte, was an able and industrious lawyer. In professional zeal, energy and prowess he was an Ajax Telamon. He was a member of the constitutional convention of 1873, and brought with him for the fulfilment of' the duties of that important office, a deep sense of his own responsibility. Nothing seemed to escape his attention, and no one department of the fundamental law was less worthy of his scrutiny than another. He was often admonished by his brethren that his zeal and labors must sap even his rugged health. He succumbed before the close of the session, and was succeeded by Samuel Calvin, whose name is likewise in this list of original attorneys.
Mr. Calvin, when elected to fill Mr. McAllister's chair, had practically retired from professional duties, and the call to him was opportune, and agreeable to his tastes. He had long been a successful and able lawyer, and was a lawyer, in its highest professional sense. His integrity and honor were his most valued possessions. They were never cheapened by being bartered nor tarnished by his holding them. He tried his cases in the old style. There were no stenographers then and with scrupulous fullness, he wrote down every word uttered by the witness. He had no patience with the stupid witness. His "Sir," "I don't hear you Sir," and "repeat it Sir," uttered in intimidating tones to the astonished witness, was the delight of the student and young lawyer looking on somewhere in the bar. Few of the present bar know him and his peculiarities; but some of us here today remember him as the learned lawyer, a ripe scholar in literature and the classics, and the most warm hearted and genial of gentlemen. It only remains to be said of him, that he was a member of the thirty-first congress in 1851, and was a follower of Henry Carey in his theories of social science. He met Mr. Carey on the floor of the convention, and a friendship sprang up between them that lasted during his remaining life. His son, Matthew Calvin, succeeded him at the bar.
Colonel McMurtrie was in this list. He was a close friend of Mr. Calvin. He was for many years the commander of the militia under the old state system, and he mustered his undisciplined forces in the month of May for many years. He was a member of the legislature in 1863. He was long an active practitioner and stood in the bar and community as a man and lawyer of great probity and honor.
Robert L. Johnston, after many years of most active practice, became the president judge of Cambria county. Alex. King became judge of the Bedford and Franklin district, as did also F. M. Kimmell. Job Mann was a member of the Twenty-fourth, Thirtieth and Thirty-first congresses and state treasurer. Samuel L. Russell was also in the Thirty third congress and a member of the constitutional convention of 1873. A. W. Benedict, of Huntingdon, was a member of the legislature of 1863. John Cresswell was a member of the state senate in 1857, and was speaker of the house in 1889, and Thaddeus Banks, a member of the legislature with John Scott in 1862. Mr. Scott afterwards became a United States senator, and at the close of his term became the general solicitor of the Pennsylvania Railroad company.
Ephraim Banks was the auditor general of the state in 1851, and an associate judge of the court of common pleas of Mifflin county. He was a man of great decision of character and of great dignity and worth. On one occasion, on the bench in the trial of a case, he differed from the president judge in his views, and, carrying his associate with him, he charged a jury over the head of his chief.
Thaddeus Banks was long conspicuous at this bar and, during his very active career, was prominent in the most noteworthy ligitation. He was a man of fine social qualities, and of a warm and generous heart. He was the democratic candidate for judge against Dean and Taylor in 1871, but was defeated.
Samuel S.Blair commenced a brilliant career a few years after his admission. His introduction to public notice in the celebrated case of Summerville vs. Jackson continued him in the public eye and brought him to the front. He developed into a strong and learned lawyer, and in all this part of the state he was for many years as an industrious and able lawyer, facile princeps. He was elected to the Thirty-sixth and Thirty-seventh congresses. He was succeeded in his office by his son, Mr. John D. Blair.
John Williamson lived to be an octogenarian. Though he lived in Huntingdon, it was his habit for many years to visit this court and participate in the trial of cases -- mostly in the quarter sessions. His arguments to the jury furnished the most delightful entertainment to his hearers. He was a nervous speaker, but as he progressed he was fluent and accurate. He abounded in both humor and pathos, and won for himself a popularity that long survived his retirement from our midst.
M. D. Magehan, familiarly known as "Michael Dan," with his contemporary, Michael Hasson, came to us from the Cambria bar. The wit and fancy of those well known and excellent Irish gentlemen were the admiration of many indulgent friends in their day, and form the effervescent sparkle of many a story which survives to this hour.
John A. Blodget was a frequent visitor from Bedford, where he practiced until he retired. He generally walked from Bedford, and was in his place when court was called. He was a tall gentleman, dignified yet free and social in his intercourse.
He was a man of fine literary taste and attainments. He could write a legal opinion, or a poem, with equal ease. The ludicrous incidents of the bar were often rendered by this versatile gentleman in verse, and I know of no one in all this bar of fifty years of life who was like him, and could make himself so appreciable to his fellows
Not many years after the organization of the county, came from Bedford, David H. Hofins. His father was German physician , and coming to this country as a young man, he married, and David was born and educated here, graduating at Franklin and Marshall college. He was, during his short life, for he died in 1859, concerned in nearly all the important litigation of' his time. His erect and well apparelled form gave him an imposing appearance. He was a bachelor, but most loyally recognized the claims of society, which then was conspicious for its refinement and amenities. He was the idol of the people and it was common to hear him extolled as the "model lawyer." The moment of his passing came early in his career, and as blindness became from day to day more imminent upon the unhappy man, the writer willingly helped him in his last work till the end came. It was my sad task to pen the sketch which told of his virtues and his frailties, to close his affairs, and place the stone that now marks his resting place.
One more name of the fifty-two remains to be noted, George W. Taylor. He was then 34 years of age and resident at Huntingdon. He early gave promise of the future jurist. His prosecution of the case of the Commonwealth vs. McConaughy in 1840, and the Flanigans in Cambria county in 1812, on indictments for murder it was customarily said, drew him from obscurity and established him permanently in the public estimation as a great lawyer. He succeeded Judge Black as president judge, April 5, 1849 and remained upon the bench till November 1871. He tried many important cases and was widely known in the state and recognized by the supreme court as an able and learned judge. His later years to some extent were given to agricultural pursuits and though of great learning and judicial acumen, he was a man of plain manners and practical sense and wisdom.
His prepared opinions disclosed no attempts at useless embellishment, but were simple, plain and strong. They thus furnished no rhetorical entertainment but they addressed the perception of the mind and left it overwhelmed with conviction. He was a man of very social habit . In the old court house it was his daily custom to linger at the stove, or some other gathering place with McMurtrie, Calvin, Scott, Dean, Hewit and others of us around him to listen to his many stories of people and things, till, in many instances, suitors, jurors, and counsel had noted a lost half hour by the clock. But when he ascended to the bench the familiarity of the social intercourse just related was left behind and as his eye swept the bar and the crowded spaces beyond, he was again the "judge" and the dignity and the power of the law seemed to cover him as with a garment.
In closing these reminiscences of the first lawyers, I cannot omit mention of George A. Coffey,though he was not one of the original members. He came from the ministry to the bar about 1850. He was then in the full possession of developed mental power and learnig. He was gifted, unique and brilliant. He was a scholar, an orator, a lawyer, though he had not the time to become a great lawyer. He was cultured, social and admired. His conversational powers were a delight to all who knew him and won him a welcome everywhere. This faculty, and it was the chief of his gifts, never seemed to desert him. His cordial reception of the writer at his bedside, not many days before his death, and his pleasant, cheerful conversation though under the sad circumstances of a fatal illness, seemed to show it would abide till the end. He died in Philadelphia, whither be went in 1861, to accept the appointment of United States district attorney from President Lincoln.
Under the constitution of that date, laymen were appointed, afterwards elected, associate judges. They sat with the president judge and formed an important adjunct of the court. The first of this class of judges were George R. McFarlane and Daniel McConnell. The latter was a man of strong mind and great practical inelligence and enjoyed the confidence of all who knew him. Judge McFarlane was then, and had been for years, a well-known man. He was the proprietor of a foundry and machine works in this town, and evinced great energy and uprightness in his business. He was engaged in many schemes of' social reform and enjoyed a notoriety through alll the neighboring counties. He was greatly loved by many and respected by all who knew him. His untimely death - the result of an accident in his foundry in 1852--was deeply mourned by the entire community, and inflicted upon it a loss felt for many years.
In all, the county has had nineteen associate judges. The constitution of 1873 dispensed with them by making this county a single judicial district.
Davis Brooke succeeded Judge McConnell in January 1848; Judge Brooke was a man of fine personal appearance and great dignity. His snow white hair was in pleasing contrast with his florid complexion. The conventional black dress of that day, admirably supplemented those evidences of his advanced age, and harmoniously accompanied the striking appearance of his chief, Judge Black.
In the second year of Judge Brooke's term, there occurred a most interesting judicial incident. It served to demonstrate the existence then of a cerebral or psychical influence as hypnotism is now.
There came to the county seat one day a man of the name of Henry Loomis, and his wife, Submit C. Loomis. They advertised to give lectures on mesmerism, to be illustrated and manifested by exhibitions of its influence upon a susceptible subject. This subject was their daughter, Martha. Whilst these exhibitions were being nightly given with great success, one C. J. Sykes appeared upon the scene and employed Mr. Banks and Mr. Cresswell to take out upon the allowance of Judge Brooke a writ of habeas corpus, to take and restore to him his wife, Martha, who was 21 years of age, and who, by her father and mother, was deprived of her liberty: he further alleged that she was, under the spell of their mesmeric influence, deprived of her free will; her affections diverted from the relator, her husband, her health, physically and mentally, being sapped, and she was being sacrificed to the greed of her parents, who could not entertain their audiences without her.
To this the respondents replied that Martha was married to Sykes in New York, but immediately thereafter he began to abuse her and treated her with great cruelty, so that she fled to her parents for protection and desired to remain with them.
The relator denied the allegations, alleging mercenary motives on the part of the Loomises and praying to be allowed the companionship of his wife. Calvin and Mr. Hollins represented the parents, and during two or three days evidence was taken before Judge Brooke. Great interest was manifested by the public; not only whether there was such a thing, as mesmerism but as to what would be done with Martha. The court house was packed with people, and public opinion and sympathy were sharply divided.
Nearly a day was consumed in the argument of counsel, and during the entire progress of the case not word had been uttered by the judge, and speculation was rife as to when he would be prepared to decide the case. As soon as the last word was spoken by counsel the judge immediately rose to his feet, and, bowing with great dignity and with greater brevity, said, "Let Martha be discharged. The house instantly rang with cheers, and amid the wildest exciteinent Martha and her parents were fairly carried from the court room, while the wifeless Sykes was left to pursue his solitary way. It is remarkable that the record shows no final disposition of this case and the writer recalls it only from memory.
The business of the court grew slowly, though thirty-four suits were brought to the first term. The first suit brought was that of Joseph and Daniel Hollen vs. Thomas Crissman. "Debt." No, 11, July Term, 1846; but there is no record of any judgment.
The first record of a else tried was that of Matthew Miller vs. Henry Burt, assumpsit; with
a verdict October 20, 1846, for plaintiff of $139.45.
The first record of an action of ejectment was that of James Stevens vs. J. Helfmitter, in which there was on the 20th October, 1846, a verdict for plaintiff.
During that same week five cases were tried, and one non-suit entered after the jury was sworn. Names of counsel are not given.
The first divorce suit was brought by Mary Armstrong against her erring and delinquent husband, John. Mr. Coffey conducted the case and obtained for Mary the coveted decree.
The first execution was issued by James Murty vs. John Dougherty to obtain $23.75 and costs. The sheriff does not seem to have ever returned his writ.
The first case in which was made a motion for a new trial was in Bride & McKeehan vs. Zechariah G. Brown. No. 23, August term, 1843 brought from Huntingdon county. The verdict was for plaintiffs for $663.53, and Mr. Brown's dissatisfaction is expressed by his motion for a new trial. Judge Black was possibly no more favorable to re-trials than modern judges, and the motion was refused. Mr. Brown was in his day a well known citizen and litigant.
The first auditor appointed was Titian J. Coffey, on the 2d January, 1847. This method of' adjudicating many questions arising in the settlement of estates and distribution of moneys has grown in favor and is employed with frequency and convenience to the court and bar to this time.
In the criminal department of the court there have been interesting cases, which at the time of their disposition, elicited great professional as well as public attention. I recall someof them.
In June, 1855, a negro slave ran away from his master in Virginia, Mr. James Parsons. He reached this town on his way to Canada but was closely followed by Parsons. As the negro entered a car early one morning to cross the mountain on the Old Portage railroad he was discovered by Mr. Parsons, who entered the car at the other end at the same time. The negro instantly fled, pursued by Mr. Parsons, who caught him in Gaysport and brought him down to a point near the present Kellerman house. The occurrence produced great excitement. The entire colored population was aroused and those staunch democrats, General George W. Potts, Major J. R. Crawford and Colonel John Piper, with other prominent white citizens, at once came to the aid of the slave, and under the guidance of Snyder Carr, a colored barber, and others of his race, the refugee was taken in charge and spirited away, so that he was seen no more. Parsons, however, was arrested upon the charges of kidnaping, assault and battery and breach of the peace and bound over to appear at the July sessions. Bills were found by the grand Jury, but the trials were continued to the October sessions. At the appointed time Parsons appeared with his counsel, Charles J. Faulkner and J. Randolph Tucker, appointed by the governor of Virginia. After the commonwealth had progressed in the trial Mr. Hammond, the district attorney, by leave of court took non-suits and the prisoner was released.
At this time, in view of the fugitive slave law, public feeling ran very high and runaway slaves all over the north were aided by the whites in their attempted escapes. Besides, the appearance of such eminent counsel sent by the great commonwealth of Virginia gave the occurrence a significance and an eclat entirely exceptional in the history of the bar.
Since the organization of this county there have been found by the grand jury forty-one indictments for murder. Of these four were found guilty of murder in the first degree. The others were acquitted or convicted of manslaughter or murder in the second degree. The four who were convicted of murder in the first degree were: Hutchinson, killing a negro; James Shirley, killing his wife; McKim, his young traveling companion, Samuel Norcross, and Dr. LewisBeach, killing his wife.
Hutchinson's case had a most unusual conclusion. He was convicted at the December sessions, 1850, near the close of Governor W. F. Johnston's official term. For some reason not explained the warrant for the prisoner's execution was not issued by the governor before his term expired. Governor William Bigler succeded him, and when his attention was called to the case, either for supposed legal reasons or from scruples of conscience, he declined to issue his warrant of death. Hutchinson remained a long time about the prison, helping in the daily work and going freely about the town, refusing in to leave. One day, however, he went quietly away, no man pursuing, and he died some years later in an eastern county.
Shirley was hanged in 1853, and his was the first capital execution. George A. Coffey was the prosecuting attorney, having been deputized by Joseph Kemp who was the district attorney.
McKim's case attracted a good deal of attention. He had traveled to Altoona with young Norcross, a stranger here, won his confidence, beguiled him into leaving thentrain and going a short distance west t of town, to obtain the little money he learned from him he possessed, he cruelly murdered him. The prosecution was conducted by Mr. Hammond and William A. Stoke, then an eminent and able lawyer, employed by the Pennsylvania Railroad company.
The defendant relied upon Mr. Hofius. McKim was a large, fine looking man, and seemed incapable of committing such a crime. The jury on the 7th of May, 1857, convicted him, and he was executed on the 21st of August, following.
The most celebrated, however, of the homicide cases of the county, was the indictment and conviction of Dr. Beach. He was a practicing physichian in Altoona, where he lived I with his wife, but had no children. One morning at an early hour in the winter of 1884, he called at the house of Levi Knott, the brother of his wife, and informed him that he had killed his wife, but protested he had done the deed without present knowledge of the act. He was arrested and tried during that year and was convicted. Mr. Spang, Mr. Stevens and the writer defended him- the latter two by direction of the court. Hon. J. D. Hicks was then district attorney.
The defense was insanity and the proof showed that twelve of his blood relatives were either idiotic or insane, furnishing the argument that there was a hereditary taint, or predisposition. Counsel for defense asked the court to rule that if the jury had a doubt as to his sanity, it should operate to reduce the grade of the offense to murder in the second degree. Judge Dean refused the point. Counsel endeavored to have the case reviewed by the supreme court, but the preliminary requisites could not be complied with , and the judgment of the court was carried into effect on the 12th of Februarv, 1885.
We might add that there has been a fifth conviction of murder in the first degree, in the c case of Commonwealth vs. Frank Wilson. As the case is still pend ing, we forbear to note it further.
Many other criminal prosecutions have been tried, which at the time engaged able counsel and elicited more than ordinary attention, but we do not find it necessary to particularize.
In 1874, we had the railroad riots hit Altoona and along the line of the railroad to Pittsburg. This gave rise to numerous prosecutions and the conviction of many persons engaged in those lawless and turbulent acts. These prosecutions were tried at the first court held in the present courthouse, which had just been completed and dedicated with the formal ceremonies reported and filed among the records of the court .It was on this occasion that Judge Dean delivered the address referred to in this history and Judge Black was present for the last time in the county seat.
A great many civil cases have been tried, and some of them conspicuously memorable The case of Summerville vs. Jackson, tried in 1849, was perhaps the first of that class. It was an action of ejectment to recover the posession of about 160 acres of land near Gaysport. The case turned mainly upon the question of fraud in defendant's acquisition of his title. And the jury found with the plaintiff. The judgment was affirmed in the supreme court to 1850. Mr. Miles represented the defendant, and Mr. Blair and
Mr. Thaddeus Stevens the plaintiffs. It is said Mr. Blair's triumph in this case secured him his subsequent professional success and eminence as a lawyer. Though Mr. Stevens has acquired his greatest renown since that date, he was then distinguished for great professional ability. The writer, then a boy, remembers the peroration of his argument in this case. As he stood before
the jury he was tall and imposing in his appearance, and his face, though white with impassioned reeling, impressed the possession of great intellect. He spoke in low and solemn tones, and he depicted so darkly what he denominated as the fraud in the case that he seemed to bring the jury under the spell of an unnatural power and left them terrified and bound.
The case of Rauch vs. Lloyd & Hill was long a familiar case. Little Charley Rauch, a boy of 5 years of age, crawled under defendant's car at the crossing, going for shavings for his mother. While just under the cars, defendant's servants moved the train and his legs were cut off. Mr. Blair and Mr. Banks were their respective counsel. There was long-protracted litigation, both in this and the supreme court, but the case was finally settled.
Farrell vs. Lloyd was also long a famous case. It arose upon the question whether there was a resulting trust in the purchase of land, and knowledge by the vender. In the name of Farrell vs. Lloyd and Lloyd vs. Lynch it was tried several times in the court below, and was four times in the supreme court. Messr. Hall and Neff appeared for Farrell and Lynch; and for Lloyd, Mr. Blair. With the latter gentleman, later, other counsel was associated.
Another case was Louden et al. vs. Blair Iron & Coal Co. It was tried three times below, and argued twice in the supreme court - the judgment for plaintiff being there first reversed, and finally affirmed. It was an action of trespass for removing ore from plaintiff's land. The verdict was for about $14,000.
The case involving the largest amount of money was the suit brought by James Gardnee for use vs. John Lloyd. The defendant was one of a large number of persons, who had entered intoa written guaranty that William M Lloyd, a suspended banker, would comply with the terms of a settlement by extension of time, and pay the creditors certain sums periodically as therein stipulated The aggregate of these guaranties was $425,000, and the suit against Mr. Lloyd was a test suit. The defense was, true it was, the signers of paper had offered to guarantee the faithful performance of the terms of extension entered into by W. M. Lloyd, but there had been no formal acceptance of the offer by the creditors, and lacking that element of completeness to give it binding efficacy, there could be no recovery.
About two weeks were consumed in the trial. The preparation of the case was one of unparalled extent, There were over twelve hundred creditors of Lloyd, and the notices, exhibits and other papers in the case, many of which were printed, numbered over a thousand; and all this prodigious labor was performed mainly by the late George A. Reade, of Ebensburg. It seemed to suit his indefatigable nature. Mr. Blair, Mr. Neff Mr. Baldrige represented the defendant and with Mr. Read for the plaintiff, were associated the late Mr. Speer, of Huntingdon, Judge Bell and myself. It only remains to be said Judge Dean affirmed the principle invoked by the defendant, and so instructed the jury. We carried the case to the supreme, court, but that tribunal affirmed the judgment.
There have been other very important suits, among which were actions affecting the interests of the Pennsylvania Railroad company, the Wopsononock Railroad company, and the City of Altoona. Among the latter was the case of The City vs. Bowman, involving the legality of the passage of an ordinance. It was finally decided against the city, causing a municipal loss of over $200,000. But we will not pursue this branch of our review further.
The legal business of the county has grown with the increase of population. Especially has this been the case during the period elapsing since Judge Dean's historical address in 1877. Beginning with it January of that year and ending with the January term of the the current year, (1896) there have been entered suits and judgments 48,514. Of these the largest number was in 1894 - 3,816. The present practice of monthly return days with the requirements of the new procedure act has greatly facilitated the dispatch of business.
There was no equity practice till 1865. Since that time there have been filed 256 bills, of which the greatest number - 28 - were filed in 1893. The increased litigation has compelled longer sessions of court and during the last two years the court has sat about 140 days in each year.
There have been but five judges since the organization of the county. Judge J. S. Black was the first to occupy the bench. He was succeeded by George Taylor and he by John Dean for two consecutive terms. In March 1892 he was elected a justice of the supreme court and was succeeded in the court by the writer who served till the election of the present incumbent, Martin Bell. Mr. Bell was the district attorney from January 1887 to January 1890.
Since Judge Dean's review of the membership of the bar in 1877, there have been 62 admissions, of which 34 were residents of the county. Since 1877, 18 members have died.
The question then with the judge was, who had the honor of being the father of the bar? It lay between Banks, Calvin and McMurtrie, but these three prominent names have since disappeared from the roll. It is proper now to determine who is the father of the bar; and by virtue of my position as its latest historian, I may be allowed the right of decision and henceforth, my brethren are lawfully authorized to award that distinguished recognition to Brother Daniel J. Neff.
Of the original members of the bar in this county, not one survives unless I except Mr. Coffey, now resident in Washington, D. C. Of the subsequent additions, many moved away. Some never came into prominence, whilst others became conspicuous, either as practitioners or as incumbents of public office.
In March, 1890, Mr. Calvin died, and he was followed by Mr. S. M. Woodcock in February, Mr. H.H. Herr in October, and Mr. S. S. Blair in December of the same year. This was regarded as an unusual mortality. Mr. Banks and Mr. McMurtrie both died in 1880, whilst Mr. Cresswell, their contemporary, died in 1882, and Mr. Brotherline, in 1879.
Mr. Hewit died after a very short illness in March, 1894, and Mr. Baldrige died suddenly in March, 1895.
My predecessor has spoken of the older members who have departed, and we can only make reference to a few of those who have since appeared to take their places.
Both Mr. Hewit and Mr. Baldrige were prominent members of the bar, and enjoyed the public confidence to a large degree.
Mr. Hewit was a gentleman of great political ambition. He was district attorney for two terms, and was a member of the legislature in 1871, 1879, 1881, and 1893, and speaker of the house in 1881. He was succeeded in his office by his son, Oliver H. Hewit.
L. W. Hall was for many years an active practitioner at this bar, and whilst here was elected to the senate, of which body he was speaker in 1867. He since removed to Harrisburg, where he now resides and practices. He is the resident attorney of the Pennsylvania Railroad company in Dauphin county.
J. F. Milliken was colonel of the Fifth regiment and district attorney of the county from 1874 to 1877. It was during his term that the extraordinarily large number of prosecutions was brought for violation of the liquor law. The railroad rioters were prosecuted during the last year of his term. He afterwards went to Egypt, but now resides in New York.
Mr. Alexander was the district attorney who preceded him. He was long known as the senior partner in the law firm of Alexander& Herr. Within the last year he removed to Lancaster.
Thomas McCamant became the auditor general of the state in 1888 and now resides in Harrisburg
Edmund Shaw, a prominent member of the bar, and a union soldier in the late war, was a member of the legislature for the terms of 1885 and 1887.
Mr. G. H. Spang removed to this county from Bedford in 1883. He was elected to the legislature from that county in 1875 and 1877,
J. D. Hicks came to the bar in 1873, after the close of the war, in which he served as a union soldier. He was district attorney from 1880 till 1886. In the fall of l892 he was elected a member of congress from this congressional district, and reelected in 1894.
J. K. Patterson, was elected to the legislature in 1894.
W. S . Hammond is the present district attorney, having just entered upon his second term.
The other older and prominent members of the bar are: Andrew J. Riley, one of the solicitors of the Pennsylvania Railroad company; Thomas H. Greevy. N. P. Mervine, J. S. Leisenring, E. H. Flick, W. L. Woodcock, W. I. Woodcock, A. A. Stevens, A. V. Dively, W.L. Hicks and W. L. Pascoe
I could with pleasure name other bright and rising members of the bar, but time will not permit, and besides I will be pardoned for grouping here a few only of those who are best known by their long and active professional services and residence in the county.
The present prothonotary is Jesse L. Hartman, an urbane and efficient officer. Two deputy prothonotaries are worthy of special notice.
Stephen Africa came here in 1850 and remained till about 1870. He was a most competent officer, understanding fully the intricate methods and details of the office. His preparation for the quarterly terms embraced, among other things, the making of a dozen or two quill pens, which his skill alone could accomplish. These were laid out for the judges, counsel and ,jurors. A steel pen was not yet in favor though now extremes have met in the stylus of the ancient and the steel of the modern.
The other deputy referred to is Mr. Cornelius D. Bowers. He came here from Philadelphia, and is 58 years old. He has been a printer by profession and was an honorably discharged and wounded soldier in the Eighty-fourth regiment of this state He has spent twenty-eight years of his life in the recorder's and prothonotary's office. He is familiar with all the duties of his present position, and by his courtesy and faithfulness he has won the confidence of the court and the bar and the respect of the public.
Mr. Jones Rollins, now deceased, was for nineteen years crier of the court and librarian. He was a most intelligent and obliging officer and gentleman.
The present recorder and register of wills is Mr. William H. Irwin. The sheriff is G. T. Bell with his deputies I. N. Eby and W. A. Smith. The county commissioners are James Funk, M. H. Fagley and John Hurd. The county treasurer is John T. Akers.
Thus I have endeavored to recall some of the persons and incidents of the past. The retrospet is a changeful one. The faces and voices which make up one period, gradually pass to give way to another; and those everchanging series like relentless fate, destroy the familiar past, and replace it with the new and strange present.
But it must be so. This bar will grow with the county's growth. Increasing prosperity will be accompanied by increasing population, and the public business will be manifested in the courts.
The younger members of the bar today will impose upon themselves the industry and zeal of those who have preceded them. As there have been lustrous names in the past, there shall be more in the future. If to any extent the bar of the past has sought to maintain the highest grade of learning and integrity; so the future bar should jealously refuse to lower that standard. The entrance way to its privileges and powers is controlled by the membership, and when the unworthy or the ignorant seek to set their feet within those precincts-which are traditionally sacred to those only who have education, mind and learning, with high professional pride and honor-both court and bar will I interpose their steadfast prohibition.
The perpetuation of a bar which is measured by such a standard will not only add to its own high character and adornment, but will win the confidence of the great public, who intrust freely to honest and capable lawyers that vast variety of intricate questions which constantly arise to affect their lives, their liberty and their property.
Gentlemen of the present bar - animated by such ennobling aims, what shall be said of us and those, who follow us fifty years from to-day?
Delivered by Justice John Dean at Hollidaysburg,
June 12, 1896. Blair County and its People.
MY FRIENDS: Accepting the assignment of an address on the history of our county, I have endeavored to perform that durty to the best of my albility, in view of the circumstances. A history of the county would involve a narrative of the leading incidents of its growth from the period of its first settlement, or its first settlers, running back to about 1768. A chronological statement of important events during that period, important not only because of import to those who took part in them, but to us, because of their effect on our present condition, would take, even in its most concise form, five or six hours to deliver, instead of the less than one, which from the, necessity of the case the committee has allotted me. Therefore, I have eliminated from my subject all but one phase of it; fit in so doing I have put aside much that is of historical interest, such as the source of our land titles in the different townships; how the Penns acquired them; how the first grantees under the terms took them: to what restrictions and reservations some of them were subject. This is an especially interesting topic, not only to the lawyer, but to the intelligent layman. How Judge Wilson, one of the first judges of the supreme court of the United States, could take upand have patented to him more than 100,000 acres of land, a large part of it within the boundaries of our county, when the act of assembly forbade the issue of a warrant for more than 433 acres to one individual, and made void the title to all in excess of that. How the Hollidays, who settled upon and really obtained title to 2,000 acres of the land upon part of which this court house stands, afterwards lost that title; how the original owners, bringing with them the customs and legal notions of England, Scotland and Ireland sought, in some instances to impress upon their lands the law, of primogeniture and entail, and how their purpose was defeated by the legislature and the courts of the commonwealth; how and why Tyrone township, that beautiful valley known for a hundred years as Sinking Valley, is one of the Penn Manors, how it came to be such, and the nature of the vexatious restrictions upon its titles came to exist. All this, and much more, would be a part of the proper history of the county, and would be interesting, but they must be set aside.
I take up and speak of that part of the history of our county which to me is always the most interesting. Whether the people about whom I speak or wish to learn be an ancient one, and centuries ago diappeared from the earth, or be a present dominant one, who have for hundreds of years been advancing in civilization, I want to know as much as possible of their daily lives, their customs, religion, manners: how they acted in their domestic relations; how they cooked, ate and drank, and protected themselves from the weather. So in the brief time before me I shall endeavor to present to you the daily lives of our predecessors on the territory which now forms our county.
The population in the first thirty years of its existence had reached about 3000. This population consisted almost wholly of original settlers, their wives and children: that is, those who had purchased their lands from the Penns or the commonwealth, settled upon and improved them, and still occupied them, of having died, they were occupied by their families. At the date Penn obtained his charter for his colony from Charles II, in England amd on the continent, as the old hynin has it, " Religion was the chief concern of mortals here below;" not exactly the mortal's own religion, but chiefly that, of his neighbors; no one had any doubt as to his own; he only doubted as to whether his neighbor's religious belief was orthodox; if it differed from his, his neighbor, being wrong, must be brought to his way of thinking, or his neignbor's soul was in danger of everlasting perdition.
Hence it was an age of religious persecution; of inimical laws against heretics by those in power. And it mattered very little, so far as the persecution was concerned, which party was in power. Catholics persectuted Protestants; protestants persecuted Catholics, and each other; in England all sects detested and persecuted the Quakers. When this spirit of religious persecution was rife, in the year 1681, Penn, who had been persecuted and imprisoned for his religion, acquired the patent to Pennsylvania, and commenced to colonize it, by inviting immigrants, not only members of his own sect, but of all Sects, promising to all freedom of conscience in religion, which, promise he and his sons in the proprietorship faithfully kept. Penn, while in prison for refusing to take an oath, ten years befor the date of his charter, had written a pamphlet advocating the largest liberty of conscience in religious belief; from this position he never swerved.
It is a remarkable fact, that the Quaker, whose religious belief excludes all dogma resting wholly on the "innerlight," and the Catholics under Lord Baltimore, who settled Maryland, and whose religious belief rests almost wholly on authoritatively defined doctrine and dogma, should have given to the world within a few years of each other, the first examples of complete religious toleration in the new world. Not a single one of the other colonies did it. I use the word "complete" religious toleration, as applied to the facts of that age. The act of toleration in Maryland declared that: "No person or persons whatsoever, professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be in any way troubled or molested or discountenanced for and in respect of his or her religion, nor in the free exercise thereof; nor in any way compelled to the belief or exercise of any other religion against his or her consent." This would not tolerate the Jew nor the Deist. But the numbers of these were so insignificant at that day, that it is altogether probable there was no intention to exclude them; they weret simply not thought of.
Under Penn's great principle of religious toleration,
emigrants began to pour into Pennsylvania from almost all European races.
Quakers, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Tunkers,
Catholics and Moravians in religious creed; Dutch,
English, Irish, Scotch, Scotch-Irish, Swedes, Welsh and
Germans. Such a conglomer ation of races and religions settled no other of the
original colonies. Within the next hundred
years, there reached the territory now composing our county, Presbyterians, Tunkers, Lutherans and Catholics in religion. And in race there were Scotch, Scotch-Irish, Irish and Germans. The Cove, from North VWoodbury township to Williamsburg, was mainly originally settled by German Tunkers; what is now Catharine township , Tyrone township, Logan township, Allegheny township, the land around Hollidaysburg and part of Frankstown township, by Scotch-Irish; that part of Frankstown township known as Scotch Valley, by Scotch. In the territory now known as Greenfield and Juniata townships many Lutherans settled. Some of them also settled in Frankstown township and Sinking Valley. Blair township was settled
principally by Irish Catholics in the latter part of the last century and most of the descendants of the original settler, still reside there. Besides these, Irish Catholics appear early in this century, from the old assessment books scattered all over the county; especially at the early iron works, furnaces and forges.
As to the German
element, most authorities estimate that at the commencement of the revolutionary war
it constituted from a third to a half of the population of the state. I would
judge, in looking over the assessment of 1847, the first after the organization
of the county, it numbered fully one-third of our population. At an
early day the Germans sought exclusiveness, preserved their own language, and neither sought nor desired intercouse with others; especially was this the case with theTunkers; their principles were in one respect not unlike those of the Quakers; they were opposed to war, but they went further; they were non-resistants; whole families of them were massacred and scalped by the Indians in the Cove and they resisted not; a dozen savages would devastate and destroy a settlement containing thirty men without a hand being raised on their part. To every appeal to their Courage and manhood in the frontier days the invariable answer was, " Gottes will seti gethan" (God's will be done). While we cannot but admire steadfast adherence to principle, we cannot fail to see they weroe utterly out of place as frontiersmen. These are not the people who conquer homes in a new territory with a savage foe facing them, and if they had not had for neighbors men of a different stamp the settlement of this great commonwealth would have been delayed half a century.
They are, however, the very embodiment of thrift and industry, and as cultivators of the soil have had no equals in the United States. Travel through the Cove, where their descendants still live on the splendid limestone farms; notice the fences, straight, with no broken rails; the large bank barns, generally painted red, a touch of old country color; houses often of a size, that a half dozen would go inside the big barn, but always neat, and presenting an air of comfort; what sleek, contented cattle; heavy, fat horses. And these honest, simple people are the soul of hospitality; enter their houses, whether for a meal or lodging, without many words you feel you are welcome. The food, though plain, always appetizing and well cooked; the liquid beverages, cider and milk: the meals were not French, principally napkins, cut-glass and flowers; it was beef or pork, potatoes, dried apples or snits, the finest of bread in huge loaves, and large wheat flour cakes. Nearly all their clothing was made on the farm from the wool clipped from their own sheep, their shoes from hides taken from the cattle on the farm, and then to the nearest tannery to be made into leather. Often - at least such was the case thirty-five years ago - the women of the house did not speak English, and but poorly understood it; Pennsylvania Dutch was the language, of a century; it is probably much the same now, for these people loathe change. In many respects, they excel in good citizenship; they are never found in the courts, civil or criminal; their disputes among themselves are settled by the congregation; often outsiders impose on them, feeling sure they will not seek redress at law. They are benevolent; they would consider it disgraceful for any of their own poor to reach the almshouse; but towards those without the pale they are also kind and charitable.
Their taxes are always paid promptly, notwithstanding some grumbling at times at the amount. They hate debt, and seldom buy what they cannot pay for. Many years ago they did not vote, but this rule of their church is gradually becoming obsolete. They are still averse to serving on juries and I know of no instance in this county where they have accepted public office, though in other portions of the state they have done so. They were from the beginning opposed to public schools. In 1857, when superintendent of schools, I often visited them in their houses and conversed with them on the subject. Always hospitable and kind, still I remember of no instance in which I succeeded in persuading the elder members of the faith to aid in promoting the cause of education. The fact is, their ancestors had been persecuted bitterly in Germany by both Catholics and Lutherans; in the hands of these religionists were the government and all instritutions of learning; by tradition, they associated much learning with despotic power and cruel persecution, and they abhorred it. But in the last thirty-five years this hostility has in a great part disappeared; the younger generation, more acute in its perceptions, is more favorable to education: these citizens, before long, we may hope, will take their proper place in the government of a great commonwealth to whose material wealth they have so largely contributed. I yet expect to see a Tunker sheriff, or at least a county commisssioner; my children, I doubt not, will see Tunker governors, judges and congressmen.
The other branch of German religionists, the Lutherans, had no such notions as the Tunkers. From their first coming into the colony they took an active fighting part in affairs. In fact, when Muhlenberg, their great preacher, arrived among them in 1742, he called them a "rough set." He was a learned, able and pious man; it was not long until his character was felt by his co-religionists; he organized them into congregations
and sought to impress upon them the wisdom as well as duty of becoming Americanized; he opposed, with all his great ability, that segregation so dear to the Tunker. He taught English himself, had his children. educated in it by an English governess. His son Peter was a prominent general in the revolution. Many of these Lancaster and Berks German Lutherans found their way into our valleys soon after the revolutionary war, and their names can be traced on the assessments from these counties. They were a far better class of citizens in one particular than the Tunkers; they took part in government, local, county and state; always voted; were always ready to take up arms in defense of homes and country.
Professor Wickersham. in his "History of Education in Pennsylvania," says: "The Germans, when they first came to Pennsylvania, were no more opposed to education than other races. But, wherever they refused to learn English. they deteriorated and became obstructionists of progress." I think this is applicable to Germans others than Tunkers; but the opposition of the latter I know personally, was often put upon the ground that education was hurtful. Confining themselves to German certainly tended to isolation and narrowness; they had not the Englishman's or Irishman's instinct for politics and government, and, by self isolation, their children did not acquire it. Composing so large a part of the population of the commonwealth almost from its foundation, they have never taken that part in its government their numbers and wealth warranted. Wherever they abandoned their exclusiveness, and by education, business associations and intermarriages, mixed with other races and their descendents, their natural capacity for science and affairs becomes undeniable. Dr. Caspar Wistar, Dr. Gross and Dr. Leidy were of this German stock; Governors Snyder, Hiester, Shultz, Wolf, Ritner, Shunk and Hartranft were also. But all these eschewed German exclusiveness and Tunker opposition to war and education; they were of the Muhlenberg party and ideas. Of the two classes of Germans, the Tunkers and the Lutherans, with their allied sects, the Lutheran contributes most to the greatness of a state, and is therefore the better citizen. In so far as greatness consists in well tilled land, large and well filled barns, the Tunker is superior. But no free commonwealth was ever built up nor long continued free, whose citizens took no part in the government; who would vote for no candidate, from the governor to the township supervisor. The very genius of our constitutions: state and national, demands that all citizens who value life, liberty and property, should take an active and intelligent part in politics.
We next have the Scotch and Scotch-Irish. They, as noticed, settled a large part of the most fertile part of the county. They were all Presbyterians. I never heard of a Scotch-Irishman in the first generation, being other than Presbyterian, until I became acquainted with Mr.Thomas Rooney, late of this town, a most excellent man, now gone to his rest. He was a most exemplary Lutheran, and came to this country from Ireland in his youth. The Scotch-Irish were not all Scotch, although all who came from the north of Ireland were so called. Many of them had emigrated to Ireland from England in the reigns of Elizabeth and James I., and were co-religionists with those who emigrated from Scotland. Many of these Scotch emigrants were Celts of the same race as the native Irish; the only difference was in religion. Large numbers of these Irish settlers, Scotch and English, left Ireland in the reign of James II., and came to Pennsylvania; this migration of the Scotch-Irish continued for years down to the Commencement of the revolutionary war. It is generally supposed they were all driven from Ireland by Catholic persecution but this is not truth in all cases; many of them had taken long leases from the English government of Irish lands in the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and James I, and these leases were expiring in those of Charles II. and James II.; the government would not renew them, or demanded such exorbitant rents for the future that they preferred to emigrate. And this state of affairs continued long after Protestant ascendancy on the English throne under William and Anne. As I always understood from the tradition in our family my paternal great-grandfather, Matthew Dean, came to Pennsylvania about the year 1760, because he preferred to own land here rather than lease it in Ireland. And I have no doubt this was the case with many others of that stock.
The Scotch -Irish were
intense Presbyterians. A copy of the Confession of Faith, with the Larger
and Shorter Catechism, was in every Presbyterian family in my boyhood. The
copy in our family was quite old; it bore a London publisher's imprint,
and was said to have been brought from Ireland by my mother's ancestors. I don't
remember that the doctrine was expressly taught - rather think it was
not - but I got the impression somehow, from my drilling before I was 12 years
old, that while those outside of the Presbyterian church might be saved, their
case was an exceedingly doubtful one. I pitied my Methodist, Lutheran and
Catholic boy companions, because, not being Presbyterian boys, they
were in peril of everlasting punishment. I can realize, now,
from my own teachings, which must have
been greatly moderated in their tone by nearly a century of New World liberty, how intolerant, cruel and
bigoted must have been the attitude of the religious sects of Europe in the previous century. No one who has read history doubts that, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, religious persecution was the rule, toleration a rare exception: Catholics killed Protestants, Protestants or dissenters from the Established Church killed Catholics; the Church of England killed both. and all because of a difference of creed as to the authority of the pope, the efficacy of the sacraments, or the interpretation of revelation.
And on their theory,
logically, they were right. They asumed their particular creed was undoubtedly
orthodox; every one that differed from it was rank heresy; whosoever believed in
and practiced the heresy would incur eternal damnation; if no one but the
then holder of the false religion should believe in it the effect would be
limited, but if the heretic should go on propagating the heresy, and those
imbibing it should so
continue, the result would be millions of souls would be destroyed. "It is my duty to God," they reasoned, "to exterminate this soul destroying heresy and thereby save millions of souls." And they at once proceeded to perform their duty by cutting off the heads of the heretics. And assuming their premises to be correct, they
were right, whether Catholic or Protestant. It took a long time, almost a century and a half of religious civilization, before the large majority of Christians of all creeds fully comprehended that there was no divine authority committed to any man or body of men to determine that another man would certainly be damned because of his religious creed; that the Great Judge had reserved that attribute of sovereignty to himself, and that the individual conscience was answerable to him alone, for he alone can determine certainly the wickedness of the offense and therefore can alone justly fix the punishment.
But out of these
religious wars, persecutions and cruelties, came the Scotch-Irishman into the
beautiful valleys of our county. They wanted a fertile soil, and they
got it; they wanted to own it; in that their desire was
accomplished. The first settlers had to war with the Indians. There was no
"Gaffes wille sei Gethan," with them, as with their Tunker co-settlers. Their
idea was, "The Lord hath given to his saints the heathen
for an inheritance." They had not a spark of doubt who were the saints, nor who were the heathen. Their only season of respite from war in the early years was in the winter; the Indians seldom made a winter campaign; but in sowing and reaping, their fields were guarded by the boys as sentinels. Many of them were killed by the cunning and cruel foe. Not a half mile from where we are now assembled, part of the Holliday familywas massacred; in Dell Delight, one of the Moores; in Catharine township, half of my
great-grandfather's family was killed and scalped, and his house burned. Permit me to show how
closely tradition connects events; the massacre of the Dean family occurred in the autumn of 1780, almost 115 years ago; my great-grandmother and four of her children were in the house, her husband and three children in the corn field; while they were in the corn field, the Indians killed and scalped all in the house, and set it on fire, without discovering those in the cornfield.
One of the girls in the corn field was Polly, who married Hugh Means, a farmer in the lower end of Sinking Valley. I visited her more than once from 1844 to 1848, about which time she died, I being, then 10 to 12 years of age and she probably 80; more than once, she narrated to me all the sickening details of the massacre, as far as she or any one knew them. So that tradition in this instance, through but two persons, runs back 116 years to a terrible event in a family. I now tell it to my children, and they pass it on, so that three or four lives will possibly reach 250 years. Some of the details of the story may be lost, some possibly added, but the substance will remain correct. I have frequently, of late years, thought of this, when I have heard scientists hoot at the value of tradition as testimony to historical facts, arguing that written evidence alone can be relied on. Tradition, in the larger number of instances, has the kernel of truth. But this is a digression.
To hear the orators of the Scotch-Irish at times one would be led to think they were the embodiment of all the virtues; that but for them there would have been no Pennsylvania, and possibly no nation. In these claims there is much pardonable exaggeration.
In their domestic lives the Scotch-Irish were probably more considerate of the comfort of the women of the household than the Tunkers; they were always more liberal in expenditure: they generally ate the best of the product of their farms and sold the poorest; whisky distilled on the farm, or very near it, was used without stint; they favored education. The schoolmaster was installed as soon as possible after a settlement was made, and there were but few of the second generation who could not read, write and cipher. They had one most erroneous idea brought with them from the old country; that is, that the girls could marry and needed no estate; so in their wills in the early part of the century you will find they generally gave about nine-tenths of
their estate to the sons and divided the remaining tenth among the daughters. I can even show you two or three wills of this kind probated after Scotch-Irishmen's decease subsequent to the organization of this county.
Sargent, in his "Introductory Memoir to the Journal of Braddock's Expedition," says: 'They were a hardy, brave, hot-headed race, excitable in temper, unrestrainable in passion, invincible in prejudice. Their hand opened as impetuously to a friend as it clinched against an enemy. If often rude and lawless, it was partly the fault of their position. They hated the Indian while they despised him, and it does not seem, in their dealings with this race, as though there were any sentiments of honor or magnanimity in their bosoms that could hold way against their passionate, blind resentment. Impatient of restraint, rebellious against everything that in their eyes bore the semblance of injustice, we find these men readiest among ready on the battlefields of the Revolution. If they had faults, a lack of patriotism or of courage was not among the number."
Scotch-Irishman, as a rule, protest against this picture as one that does them gross injustice. It is perhaps over-drawn against them, but it comes nearer a presentation of their true character than the indiscriminate laudation of their own orators. I feel warranted in thus speaking, because of my own blood, being Scotch-Irish on both paternal and maternal sides of my ancestry. While all the first settlers had passed away before my years of recollection, I saw and knew some of their immediate children, and many of their grand-children. My uncle, Samuel Dean, who lived to an advanced age, was born in the year 1800. James M. Bell, my preceptor in the law, in the year 1799. My father 1808. Tobias Foreman, late of Huntingdon county, lived with and was reared by my grandfather; James Clark, grandfather of John Clark of Williamsburg, an old revolutionary soldier, an uncle of my father, was often at our house; he was vivacious, and a great narrator of past events; these all knew and mingled with the original settlers of Sinking Valley, Canoe Valley, and Frankstown township. I have heard them tell of their domestic life, of their political differences, local feuds and church disputes. Sargent's description, from my own opinion of mature years, approaches accuracy,
Mr. Sydney George Fisher, in his most valuable book. "The Making of Pennsylvania" says: "There is no doubt the Scotch-Irish were rough, but roughness is not always a serious vice and there are various degrees of it. They had the lands of the Irish rebels given to them; they had entered on them with a strong hand, and they had grown accustomed to maintaining themselves among a hostile population from whom they expected but little consideration. They were not much addicted to politeness or asking leave for what they took, and they entered Pennsylvania in a manner that was rather irritating to the proprietors. Large numbers of them marched to the York Barrens, in what was then Lancaster county, near the Maryland boundary line, without first offering to buy the land from Penn. When spoken to on the subject, they replied that Penn had solicited colonists and they had come accordingly. A more serious offense was their settling without purchase on the lands of the Indians, an intrusion which is generally believed to have caused several massacres."
In their merry-makings they were rude; a rough and tumble fight with fists was not unusual; whisky was among them a beverage partaken of on all occasions, whether feast, wedding or funeral; when a boy, within a radius of two miles of where I went to school, there were five distillieries owned by Scotch-Irish Presbyterians and Pennsylvania Germans. The Washingtonian temperance reform in 1843 and 1844 closed all but one of these. But without this, it is probable they would have closed. New means of transportaion enabled them to ship their rye to market in bulk, instead of' concentrating it into a small package of whisky.
As noticed, the Tunkers would not vote or hold office. No one ever said that of a Scotch-Irishman; I have never known of his refusal to vote at least once, and he was willing to hold as many offices as he was eligible to. The records of this county since its organization will, I think, bear me out in this statement. Although many of them deny it, the Tunkers excelled them as farmers. As a rule, the Scotch-Irish farmers, after three generations, are giving way, and their places are being taken by others.
The Catholic Irish settled what is now Blair township about the close of the revolutionary war; the borough of Newry is, next to Frankstown, the oldest village in the county. I have heard the late James M. Hewit say that when a boy he went to Newry to see a circus; Hollidaysburg was then too insignificant to warrant the showmen in stopping; Newry was the larger town. This Irish settlement for a time throve and was prosperous, but the location of the Canal and the Portage road north of it, with their junction at Hollidaysburg, arrested its growth and Hollidaysburg forged ahead, just as the location of the main line of the Pennsylvania railroad six miles north of Hollidaysburg created Altoona, leaving Hollidaysburg standing still. But the Catholic Irish settlement at Newry, and Blair township, for many years, was a very importnat part of Huntingdon County. The old settlers were progressive and exemplary citizens, none better; the Cassidays, McIntoshes, Conrads, McGraws, Malones and others, were all active in the formation of our new county. Besides these Catholics, as I have already said, there were others scattered all over the county, but for many years Newry had the only Catholic church. There was, when I was a boy, a small Catholic graveyard in Williamsburg, how old I do not know; but here, every now and then, some devout member of the church was laid to rest in consecrated ground. A neat church has been erected there within thirty years.
It is but a century ago that the two races, hostile in religion, and hating each other in Ireland, again met. In Ireland they bad been implacable foes, but when they reached this New World of religious liberty, where every one had a right to pursue his own happiness, their resentments seem to have disappeared, and they labored together for the common good. Up until 1854 I never heard of religious prosciption, or religious antagonism in politics. I know I have seen my father, at an early day, in consultation with the Catholic McKiernans and Harbisons relative to the promotion of education in the common schools, and other public measures affecting the township.
But in 1854 a wave of intolerance, bigotry and proscription passed over the state. The Catholic was persecuted, just as far as our constitution permitted; he was not imprisoned, not killed on account of his religion but he was voted out of every office he could possibly aspire to from state to township. It was a shameful persecution, and lasted about three years; in less than five years thereafter those most active in the movement were busy denying they had any connection with it. In less than ten years came the war for the preservation of the union. Our Catholic fellow citizens all around us, then, by their patriotism at home in promoting enlistments, their courage on many a bloody battlefield, gave the lie to all accusations made against them in the know nothing crusade. Good citiczenship is not determined by creed; conscience and capacity for public service are not measured by doctrine or dogma. All religious proscription is utterly at war with the fundamental principles of our constitution. And whether our remote ancestors cut each other's heads off in Ireland two hundred years ago because one did not acknowledge the spiritual authority of the pope, and the other refused to acknowledge the spiritual authority of a presbytery, or their descendants figuratively at this day cut each other's political heads off at the polls, the principle is precisely the same, religious bigotry and proscription. I speak now as a citizen of this growing county and this grand old commonwealth in which I was born and bred. No one doubts my religious creed; of a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian ancestry, religious training and education, I could not be other and do not wish to be other than Presbyterian. At the same time, with all my years of study, experience and thought, I cannot but tremble when I see the least sign of a revival of that intolerant religious spirit which for centuries bathed Europe in blood. Lincoln said of slavery, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." I do not believe a house divided against itself on a religious question can stand. Once religious belief is political issue; once you determine a man's fitness for office by his opinion on the doctrine of the "real presence," - intercesssion of the saints, of the Virgin Mary, the very foundation of our free institutions disappears. Take away that stone, laid in all its breadth and beauty by Penn, and on which the great and glorious edifice of this free commonwealth has been builded, grand as is the super-structure it may fall: if it do not fall, it will cease to grow; there will be no further additions, wherein may be sheltered and made happy the sons of men.
Our Bill of Rights declares: "All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worst Atmighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences.
"No person who acknowledges the being of a God and a future state of rewards and punishments shall, on account of his religious sentiments, be disqualified for any office or place of trust or profit under this commonwealth."
Under this benificent declaration, or the substance of it, declared by the wise founder of our state, the whole commonwealth has grown and prospered. Any departure from it must be a step backward into a dark age of persecution and bloodshed, when ignorance undertook to fashion men's consciences by cruelty and barbarity.
"Lord," said the woman of Sichem, "our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." Jesus replied, "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall worship neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem, but when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth."
It is almost nineteen centuries since the great Founder of Christianity proclaimed this sum of all religion at Jacob's Well, yet, during all those centuries, it is only an occasional glimpse we get of it in practice. The Tunkers, Lutherans, Scotch-Irish and Catholic Irish of this county lived up to it for almost seventy-five years, or until 1854. May we not hope, that since the miserable failure then to adopt a religious test in politics none other will ever be attempted.
Such were the men, such their religion, such the race of the hardy people who originally settled the territory which now forms our county. When the county was organized in 1846 many of the descendants of the original Germans and Scotch-Irish had become Methodists, and some of them Baptists. The Methodist was a missionary church; its circuit riders had penetrated into all corners of the county by that time; their congregations were organized in almost every school district: they were specially effective at the iro works; two large settled congregations with comfortable churches existed at Hollidaysburg and Williamsburg; but while strong in numbers, they were generally of limited means; their influence and wealth are mainly the growth of the last fifty years, and the same may be said of the Baptists. Many other religious sects have also in that period grown in numbers and importance. What I have sought specially to point out is the kind and character of the people who, by more than seventy years of struggle, made our county what it was in 1846, brought it to the point where its people had a right to demand a separate county organization and the legislature was warranted in creating it.
When the county was formed in 1846, in my judgment the population was about 11,000. I think fully four-fifths of this was made up of first settlers and their immediate descendants. The population rapidly increased; it certainly numbers now not far from 75,000. I doubt if more than one-third of these can trace descent to the Germans, Scotch-Irish and Irish of the first half of the century; take away the population of Altoona and its immediate surroundings in Logan township, of Tyrone and Bellwood, and the last thirty years would show but little change. The greater Blair county is made up by these progressive railroad towns. True, many of their citizens are descendants of the original stock, but the larger proportion is from other counties and states, and many from beyond the seas. By their joining us they have raised our noble old county from one of the smallest to one of the greater counties in wealth, population and enterprise. In the not distant future we shall see it reach more than 100,000 in population. Its past rapid growth has been due in great degree to the growth and liberal management of that great corporation, the Pennsylvania Railroad. Our material prosperity and progress in the future must depend largely on the prosperity of that enterprise. As it grows our county will grow.
But I have already wearied you in endeavoring to present in as concise a narrative as possible a glimpse of the early physical, intellectual and religious growth of our beloved home. In it I was born and reared; with it are associated all my fondest recollections; to its future cling all my most fervent hopes; if any want to point to some better, some golden age in some other county or some other years, I have no sympathy with them, for our county and our age, I feel sure, are the best attainable.