Due to the Penns’ pact with local Indian
tribes, the Allegheny Wilderness was closed to white
settlement until the Treaty of Fort Stanwix in 1768.
Only an occasional traveler on the Governor’s
business or a licensed trader like John Hart ventured
in. There is little proof that there was a large
population of the “Early People” but a few sites
are visible to the trained eye today.
These sites include Fort Hill (near your Prince
Gallitzin State Park), the Indian village at Old
Conemaugh Town (Johnstown), the Indian Steps (near
Wilmore) and the famous Kittanning Indian Trail which
cuts though the northern woods of Cambria County.
Making good use of that path was John Hart. He
first received his trader’s licenses in 1744 from
the Governor’s Office.
His stop in Cambria County became known as
Hart’s Sleeping Place (near Hastings). At Huntingdon
his trading place was known as Hart’s Log.
In 1769, only a year after the treaty of Fort
Stanwix opened the door, the white settlers, Samuel,
Rachel and Solomon Adams made their way up from
Bedford County to settle near Elton. This pioneering
family had to make several hasty retreats back to
Bedford due to hostile Indian attacks. Finally, after
about eight years of hostilities Samuel and an Indian
warrior killed each other in hand-to-hand combat.
Rachel herself was later killed by Indians. Today the
family is remembered in the place names such as: Adams
Township, Solomon Run, Rachel Hill and Rachel’s Run.
Around 1783 a Dunkard, John Martin Cable (Kebel
in German) brought his family to the Elk Pastures near
Wilmore. Two of his daughters married two Pringle
brothers and together they built their homestead on
Pringle Hill back in 1795.
There is no more stirring image in the history
of Cambria County than that of the Revolutionary
patriarch, Captain Michael McGuire, coming over the
mountain at the age of 71 years with a string of grown
sons, Cornelius, Luke, Richard, Peter and Michael to
found a new home for his family at the very limits of
our infant nation. Captain McGuire had also arrived
about the time of the Fort Stanwix Treaty (1768) to
hunt and fish in the Ashville area. Up from his native
Maryland the Irish-Catholic McGuire had recruited and
commanded a company of the Fredrick militia in 1776.
By 1788 he and his family were living on the 1400
acres they had bought near Loretto.
Having arrived in the Summerhill area around
and Barbara Croyle built their fortress stone house in
1800. The Croyle’s had their hands full with
marauding Indians despite the fact that Thomas was
raised by a Native American (Seneca) mother. Barbara
Croyle dictated that their house be made of stone,
solid on the vulnerable sides and windows only where
they provided a clear lane of rifle fire. This stone
house stands today.
Around this time (1795) a Pennsylvania German,
Joseph Johns, moved
his farm to Conemaugh, which later developed in the
county’s largest city, Johnstown. By 1800, however,
Johns had moved again to the Davidsville area.
In late 1796, the first band of Welshmen, new
to America, arrived in the Ebensburg area and a year
later at Beulah. Obviously having no clue as to the
type of weather conditions they might encounter, these
hearty settlers left Philadelphia in September only to
arrive atop the Allegheny Mountain in the November
preceding one of the coldest winter’s on record.
They survived in hemlock shacks being built of limbs
“no larger than a man’s thigh”. The group’s
leader, Rev. Rees Lloyd, built the first house of
worship in the Allegheny Wilderness. Built in 1799, it
was known as the Ebenezer Chapel.
A year after the Ebensburg party arrived,
Morgan John Rhys, brought over “100 professional and
mechanics”. Having rejected the site chosen by the
Ebensburg advance party, Rev. Rhys mounted an
organized assault on the rocky lands of the Blacklick,
some three miles to the west. The surveyors of his
Cambrian Company laid out a town one mile square with
land set aside for public buildings, a library,
schools and a seminary. The streets had optimistic
names such as: Truth, Zeal, Hope, Joy and Free. Town
lots were bought by famous people such as Joseph
Priestly, the discoverer of oxygen, and M. Boudinot,
Master of the U.S. Mint.
Rev. Morgan John Rhys campaigned in Washington
D.C. to established the first U.S. Post Office and
polling place at Beulah. Despite its ambitious
beginning, however, Beulah quickly failed as morale
crumbled under the brute labor of coxing tillable land
from rocky forest soil. The difference between Beulah
and Ebensburg may have been the difference between its
two leaders; Rev. Morgan John Rhys and Rev. Rhees
Lloyd. It may have been as simple as Aesop’s fable
of the tortoise and the hare. Whereas Morgan John Rhys
spent the initial years of Beulah’s life traveling
up and down the Eastern Seaboard promoting his ideal
town of the future; Rev. Rhees Lloyd labored
tirelessly between his fields and his religious flock.
Back in Loretto,
Captain McGuire set aside 200 acres of land for a
church, cemetery and home for a priest. With that
offer the Russian Prince-Priest, Father Demetrius
Gallitzin, arrived in 1799. His legacy has created a
unique milestone in the history of Roman Catholicism
in America. He was the first priest wholly educated
and ordained in America and he founded the first
Catholic parish between the Appalachians and the
Dateline: May of 1802.
The biggest news in these parts is the race for
the new county seat. While Beulah has the Post
Office and polling place, Ebensburg and Munster
are both on the Galbraith Road. Conemaugh, with
60 people is not in contention. Both Beulah and
Ebensburg’s town leaders are making offers of
free land for public buildings. Now the latest
rumor is that the State Legislature wants the
county seat to be closest spot to the center of
the county- That would be Ebensburg.