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BELLEFONTE’S SECRET Vol. 4, Issue 7
By Richard Knupp Sr.
October 3, 2011
October, 2011, Vol. 4, Issue 7
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After ten years of research on the history of Bellefonte, it sure seems to me like Bellefonte had an excellent magician running the town.
I really should say the first one hundred years or so for the last hundred years have not been as prosperous.
Publisher Editor Feature Writer
Richard Knupp Lora Gauss Rev. Keith Koch
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HISTORY OF CENTRE COUNTY AND THAT PART OF THE COUNTY THAT BECAME CLINTON COUNTY
From the earliest known history of the area to today’s history:
By Richard W Knupp Sr.
Article # 1: THE INDIANS
*”The Shawanese Indians were the earliest aboriginal inhabitants of the territory of Clinton and Centre Counties of whom we have any reliable information. The Muncy tribe, one of the Delaware tribes, had preceded them, but as early as 1728 had removed farther westward to the head waters of the Allegheny. According to Reichel, the Shawanese were a tribe of Southern Indians who were expelled from their seats by the Spaniards of Florida and migrated north-ward.” (The spelling of Shawnees is as presented in Linns History)
Originally the Shawnee tribe was one of the Seven Nations Tribes that made up the Seminole tribe of Florida.
This brings up a question someone asked me some time ago. I was asked if the headdress used in portraying of the Bellefonte Red Raiders is authentic. Not unless the Florida State Seminoles are depicting the wrong one. Actually the Bellefonte Red Raiders are depicting Plains Indians of the West.
The article goes on and explains in detail the purchases of lands from the Indians and the conflicts associated with determining where the boundaries were. The article goes in detail on how the Seven Nations, which the Shawnees were ruled under, provided leadership to their people and the history of their leaders.
Of Course much writing in Linns History is written about Chief Logan, his father and his son. Chief Logan was a very good friend of the English.
The Indians had many villages in the area which were always near a stream. Two I am familiar with is one just east of Milesburg along the bank of Bald Eagle Creek and one near Centre Hill in Penns Valley along Sinking Creek. Friends of mine, during my youth, would search the freshly plowed field along Sinking Creek searching for arrow heads and other stone tools made be the Indians. A friend of mine for many years, Jerry Holderman, did the same thing along Bald Eagle Creek. Both Jerry and the friends from my youth had very large collections of artifacts.
Another interesting thing in the article was about different trails throughout the area. The one classified in the article as the most used trail was one that followed Bald Eagle Creek going south from Lock Haven to Milesburg. At Milesburg it would follow Spring Creek to the area that would become Bellefonte. It then followed a small stream South called Buffalo Lick and basically became route 550. It went past areas that would be called Matternville, Stormstown and eventually coming to Frankstown.
*Information from Linn’s History which is based on information from “Memorials of the Moravian Church, vol. 1, page 103 by the late Rev. William C. Reichel. From above we quote largely, than whom there is no better authority upon the history of the aborigines of Pennsylvania. (Page 1, item 1 of Linn’s History) For more in detail history of the Indians visit the Bellefonte Historical Library and read a copy of Linns History. (Page’s 1 through 7)
An interesting thing I found in this article is that most of the original trails were so narrow that even a horse could not travel them probably because of the same reason few people came to the area. It was a wild wilderness with briars and underbrush so thick that larger wild animals seldom were found in the area.
In Linns History there are two other references to this trail that make very interesting history. Sometime during my writing career at Bellefonte Secrets, I wrote an article about a man named William Winters from Williamsport who fathered nineteen children, mostly girls. William’s first wife was the sister of Daniel Boone. Four daughters married prominent people from Centre County. The oldest married Thomas Lincoln who Linns History portrayed as Abe’s Grandfather. He actually was Abe’s Uncle.
Thomas Lincoln walked from Kentucky to Williamsport with his brother in-law to visit his wife’s family. Several years later the brother in-law was visiting his sisters in Bellefonte. They went to the hill behind the academy and he showed his sister the trail he and Tom had traveled. The old Indian Trail!
That old Indian trail had served the Indians well for it was the trail the Indians used in their flight from the Spaniards of Florida. The trail ended in Canada. The interesting thing about this trail was that it crossed no mountains.
The third mention of this trail in Linns History is the most interesting. It was the safest, the easiest and the shortest route to Canada from the Deep South. By the time a slave would reach Frankstown they were virtually free. Between a man in Frankstown who I cannot identify and a man named Henry Hartsock in Stormstown, they had become the slave’s guardian.
Henry’s roll of being the guardian of the slaves is well documented in Linns History for it is told that when a slave bounty hunter would capture a runaway slave, Henry would shoulder his gun and ambush the bounty hunter and free the slave. Henry was a real life Robin Hood.
Henry’s claim to fame is well documented on his tombstone in the Stormstown Pennsylvania Cemetery.
Next month I will write an article on General James Potter who is said to have been the first white man to come to the area. I think whoever wrote the article for Linn about Potter’s trip should have said the first white man the Indians got along with.
A number of years before Potters venture, there were settlers that came up Penns Creek from the Selinsgrove area to an area near Spring Mills. The Indians thought the land they settled on was Indian land and that the people were squatters so they massacred them.
Actually unlike the settlers who came up Penns Creek, Potter supposedly came up Bald Eagle Creek and went home via Penns Creek. He probably would not have been bothered by the Indians since he was simply passing through the area.
A QUESTION NOT RELATED TO THE FEATURE STORIES
A reader would like to know where the name “Red Roost”, between Bellefonte & Milesburg, came from. If you know send me an email or call me at 441-3989.
“THE BELLEFONT ACADEMY AND OTHER SCHOOLS IN BELLEFONTE”
by Rev. Keith G. Koch - Part 1
Deuteronomy 4:10 “Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, "Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
The word “Bellefont” in “Bellefont Academy” is not misspelled. When the Academy was established legally on January 8, 1804 there was no “e” in Bellefonte’s name. That would be added later.
The original 1804 trustees of the Academy were:
from Bellefonte: Rev. Henry R. Wilson, James Dunlop (one of the town’s founders), Roland Curtin, William Petrikin, Robert McClanahan, and John Hall.
from Potter’s township: Rev. William Steward, Andrew Gregg, and James Potter
from Haines township: James Duncan, John Hall, and Jacob Hosterman
from Ferguson township: Thomas Ferguson
from Half-Moon township: Jacob Taylor
from Patton township: David Whitehill
from Spring township: Richard Miles, Robert Boggs, Joseph Miles, and John Dunlop (The money behind Bellefonte and the Academy.)
from Centre township: William McEwen and Thomas McCalmon
from Bald-Eagle township: John Fearon, Matthew Allison, and James Boyd
These men were all well educated, financially well off, and most were in this area because of their connection with John Dunlop as relatives and/or workers with connections to one of his several iron industries.
This Academy was a great beginning to the various educational institutions in Bellefonte. (See the November & December 2009, and the January 2010 issues of Bellefonte Secrets for further information on Bellefonte’s famous Academy.) However, it wasn’t until 1834 that the PA legislature mandated a general system of “common schools.” Thus on Friday, September 3, 1834 the citizens of Bellefonte met in the Court House to make plans to be in compliance with the new legislation. From this meeting and the one following on September 27, John Rankin (elected president), Charles McBride (elected secretary), Dr. Contance Curtin, James Armor, Samuel Harris, and Samuel Pettit became Bellefonte’s first public school directors.
Bellefonte had 172 children of school age on April, 1835, but it wasn’t until January 1, 1836 that a public school opened in Bellefonte. Mr. Hamilton would teach at a salary of $88. per month, George Wasson at $25., Charles McBride at $20., and Mrs. Eliza Dunlop (widow of John) would teach for $15. Of course there was no “real” school house at this time.
By 1841, 275 school-aged children lived in Bellefonte, thus $1,270. was set aside so contractors J. J. & G. Alexander could build a schoolhouse to accommodate these scholars. Classes were separated by sex though School Board Minutes of 1856 tell the “punishment” of four girls by transferring them to the male High School department. (No comment from me on this type of punishment.)
The Board of Directors came up with twenty-six rules on August of 1859, which divided the students into five schools of grading and classification. Several of the rules are worth listing.
#3. Each of the Schools shall be opened every morning by each teacher (after calling the role) reading impressively but without comment, a chapter in the holy Scriptures.
#4. The schools shall be opened at 9 o’clock in the morning, and closed at 12; at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, and closed at 5... [The break was to allow the students to walk home for lunch.]
#5. The forenoon of each and every Saturday shall be set apart for the reviewing of the studies during the week.
#14. Good order and propriety of deportment are required of the scholars, no only during school hours, but in going to and from school.
#17. In order to secure attendance at the proper hours, the Teacher can close the door fifteen minutes after the hour of opening the school, morning and afternoon.
#26. It is expected that parents and all others interested in the success of the schools, will make it convenient to visit them frequently.
Schools taught and students learned: Orthography (from Webster’s), Reading ( from Sanders’ readers), Arithmetic (from Steddard’s, Davie’s, and Greenleaf’s books), Penmanship (on slates or blackboards using Potter & Hammond’s system), Geography (Mitchell’s, Warren’s or Davie’s with exercises on outline maps), Grammar (Tower’s and Smith’s books), History (Berard’s or Guernsey’s “History of the United States”), Philosophy (Tate’s), Algebra (Greenleaf’s), and Geometry (Davie’s).
There were also some school outings, such as a school picnic on Major Armor’s farm (about a mile from Bellefonte) on a Friday in June, 1861. Food, fun, games, and singing was arranged by teachers and parents. A brass band was present and the students marched back to Bellefonte following the band according to their grade and they stopped in front of the Court House to sing: “We are a Band of Yankees” to the tune of “Dixie.” I guess our present day schools don’t have this much fun!
More on Bellefonte’s schools next month in Part 2.
Psalm 34:11 “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”
MORE BELLEFONTE, PA SECRETS:
Most of the schools in Bellefonte during 1862-68 were located in the Academy building.
BURGLARIES IN BELLEFONTE: May, 1864: Thieves broke into and robbed the saloon of M. Andrews on Friday night, the barbershop of Meshich Grathan on Saturday night, and John Mongomery’s Tailor Shop on Sunday night. On Monday morning all the stolen items were found under the School House steps and were returned to their proper owners.
There were 370 scholars in our schools in 1869; and 402 by 1870.
All schools were closed on January 10, 1879 for about a week because it was so cold it was impossible to heat the buildings.
You can contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or 110 Forge Rd., Bellefonte, PA 16823
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