In the year 1774 there were only sixty-two families residing within the entire region encompassed by Frankstown Township. That township, named for the only village in the region at the time, included all of what is currently Blair County along with portions of present-day Bedford, Huntingdon and Centre Counties. Taking into consideration the physical size of the area covered, sixty-two families spread out over that area would not have been a very dense population. It should also be noted that the majority of those sixty-two families were settled in a few valleys rather than being evenly spaced throughout the township. There were numerous families settled in the Morrisons Cove and in the valley that lay to the south of the point of Brush Mountain. The Sinking Spring Valley, which stretched between the two ridges of Brush Mountain was also heavily settled. As a result, there were certain portions of the township which had been homesteaded by few, if any, residents. The Indian Path Valley, which was bounded by Dunnings Mountain on its east and the Allegheny Mountain range to its west, was one of those sparsely settled areas.
Jacob Schmitt Sr, his wife Rosana, and their children Jacob Jr, Jacob Peter and Agnes Elizabeth, moved into the frontier wilderness that was Frankstown Township in Bedford County during, or just prior to, the year 1774. They chose the unsettled Indian Path Valley and established a farmstead near the head of South Dry Run at the base of Blue Knob, and were assessed for taxes for the year 1775. By doing so, the Schmitt family became the earliest pioneers to settle in the region that would, twenty-four years later, be designated as Greenfield Township. With the closest neighbors about ten or fifteen miles away, Jacob Schmitt simply established a tomahawk claim to the land he settled upon. By marking (with a tomahawk or ax) certain trees about the perimeter of the tract he chose, Jacob Schmitt laid claim to the land he intended to clear of trees and farm. In the wilderness frontier it was not easy to engage a surveyor to survey a tract of land, but there wasn't an urgent need for surveys and land deeds because the tomahawk claim was honored by other pioneer settlers who would move into a region.
The barn on the Jacob Schmitt, Sr farmstead.
Jacob and Rosana Schmitt and their three children eked out a living in the shadow of Blue Knob for about ten years before any other pioneer families came to settle near them. During that time they raised sheep and cattle, flax and grains, and fruit and vegetables to provide sustenance and some physical comforts. Jacob and his sons built a blacksmith shop on their farmstead. They also constructed a cider press, which is still standing today, albeit in a ruined condition, on the property. Rosana and Agnes Elizabeth, as many pioneer women, spun their own thread from their sheep's wool and the flax they raised. Also during that time Jacob Schmitt Sr served in the Bedford County Militia as a ranger on the frontier. The simple fact that they were not massacred by the bands of Indians who roamed at times over the Allegheny Mountain range kept them out of the history books. It is only because the massacres of families such as that of Adam Henry Ernst, William Holliday and the Tulls make for more exciting reading that they were given recognition. The survival of a family such as that of Jacob Schmitt Sr through the period of Indian incursions, while being a remarkable feat in itself, simply was not sensational enough to merit a place in the history books.
Despite the fact that the Jacob Schmitt family was the earliest to settle in the portion of Frankstown Township that would later become Greenfield, a few other families that homesteaded within Frankstown Township prior to the Revolutionary War should be noted because their descendants chose to make Old-Greenfield their home also. Michael Fetter (Feather) resided in present-day Blair Township. Despite that fact that Michael did not homestead here himself, his descendants moved into the Old-Greenfield region in the mid- to late-1800s. Cornelios McGuire and Thomas Tipton both resided in present-day Allegheny Township. The 1798 Greenfield Township tax assessment included the names of Nicholas McQuire, who may have been related to Cornelios, and Edward Tipton, who might have been related to Thomas.
During the years following the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War, this frontier region of Pennsylvania experienced a large influx of new families. Between 1782 and 1785 the population in Bedford County nearly doubled. The increase in Frankstown Township necessitated its division and the formation of a new township, Woodberry in the year 1785. The erection of Huntingdon County out of Bedford in 1787 was also the result of the continuing population explosion. The northern half of Woodberry Township was given to Huntingdon County when she was erected. The southern half, which remained under the jurisdiction of Bedford County, was physically divided by the Dunnings Mountain range. Old-Greenfield Township occupied the western half. Throughout Woodberry Township, in Bedford County, the population increased dramatically during the early-1790s. On the west side of Dunnings Mountain, between that range and the Allegheny Mountain range, a number of families moved in to settle in the general vicinity of the Jacob Schmitt farmstead. By the year 1798 there were approximately sixty-two families residing in that region - the same number that had been assessed in the whole of Frankstown Township when it was formed in 1775. Those families requested that their region be separated from the rest of Woodberry Township and the formation of Greenfield was the result.
The Shirley families moved into Bedford County around the year 1785. John Shirley, with his wife, Charity appeared on the Frankstown Township tax assessment for that year and his brother, William appeared on the return for the newly formed Woodberry Township the following year. Although William Shirley's property did not lie in the region that would become Old-Greenfield (and therefore he cannot properly be considered as one of Old-Greenfield's pioneer settlers), John's property was located in the vicinity of the present-day village of Leamersville.
Abraham Lingenfelter left his home in Frederick, Maryland in the mid-1780s. He first appeared on the 1786 Frankstown Township tax assessment. An assessment was taken in 1786 for residents of the newly formed Woodberry Township; those families residing north of the line that stretched between Frankstown/McKee Gap and Blair Gap remained on the Frankstown Township tax assessment return while those residing south of that line were included on the Woodberry Township return. The fact that Abraham Lingenfelter was listed on the Frankstown return would suggest that he had not initially homesteaded in the region that would become Old-Greenfield when he and his wife Anna Barbara and their family arrived in Bedford County. Two years later, in 1788, Abraham Lingenfelter was listed on the Woodberry Township tax return. The Lingenfelter homestead was in the vicinity of the present-day village of Sproul. George Adam Lingenfelter, a son of Abraham, began to be assessed for his own property in the year 1788. Anna Barbara, a daughter of Abraham Lingenfelter, married Jacob Dively who made his appearance on the tax returns of this region in 1787 when he was recorded on the Frankstown Township assessment.
The Jacob Lingenfelter homestead – built in 1824.
In 1787 Patrick Cassidy and his wife, Martha left their homestead along the Aughwick Creek in Dublin Township, Bedford County and established a new homestead along the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River in the northeast corner of Old-Greenfield. Patrick Cassidy was a surveyor and knowledgeable of how to file patents and land-deeds for tracts of land, which he promptly began to do throughout the Old-Greenfield region. By the early 1790s Cassidy had, by his own surveying and filing of patents, grabbed up many acres of land, some of which Jacob Schmitt Sr had originally homesteaded on. (The encroachments by Cassidy induced Jacob Schmitt Jr to finally survey and patent his own tracts.) Patrick Cassidy surveyed and laid out a town plat for Newry, named after his birthplace in County Down, Ireland.
Peter Imler first appeared on a tax assessment return for the Old~Greenfield Township region in the year 1789. A man by the name of George Imler had appeared in Bedford County as early as 1785, but he never appeared in any assessment for the region that would become Old~Greenfield. George’s relationship to Peter Imler is not known. Peter Imler settled in the valley that bears his surname in present-day Kimmel Township.
Sixteen years after the Schmitt family had moved into this region, Nicholas McGuire and his wife, Ann Dorcas homesteaded in the northeastern corner of Old-Greenfield Township, in the vicinity of what would become the town of Newry. He appeared on the tax assessment returns for Woodberry Township in the year 1790.
The Dodson family came to this region in the early-1790s. Michael Dodson Sr established his homestead near the head of what became known as Dodson's Run and was first assessed for taxes in the year 1792. Michael's father, John Dodson Sr, was not assessed for taxes until the year 1796. The family tradition states that John Dodson built the log house that still stands in the year 1739. That claim simply is not supported by any public records; in fact, it is probable that the numbers for the year 1793 were simply misconstrued into 1739 by a family historian. Michael Dodson served in the 4th Regiment of the Maryland Continental Line and had participated in the battles at Brandywine, Germantown and White Plains, Michael's brother John Dodson also served during the American Revolutionary War in the 1st Regiment of the Maryland Continental Line.
The Dodson homestead.
Bartholomew Bucher appeared in the 1792 Woodberry Township Tax Assessment; he would continue to appear in the returns for the region that became Greenfield Township. The Bucher families settled in the portion of Old~Greenfield that would, in 1889, be formed as Kimmel Township.
Richard Shirley, son of John Shirley, and his wife, Sarah Jane homesteaded in the northeast corner of Old Greenfield circa 1793 near the farm of Sarah's parents, Patrick and Mary Cassidy.
Gorg Heinrich Holtzel and his wife Eve built their log homestead less than a quarter of a mile west of the Schmitt farm around the year 1793. Two of Henry Helsel's daughters would eventually marry grandsons of Jacob Schmitt Sr.
The families of Matthew Ivory and Johannes George Mack Sr came to Old-Greenfield Township around the year 1797. Little is known of Matthew Ivory, but we do know that the Mack family homesteaded at the head of Paw Paw Hollow, which was about two miles southeast of the Schmitt farmstead. Johannes George Mack had served in the 6th Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line during the American Revolutionary War. His son, John Mock, Jr married Jacob Schmitt's daughter, Agnes Elizabeth.
Jacob Stifler, another Patriot of the Revolution who served in the York County Militia, followed his brother Peter to Bedford County circa 1798. While Peter Stifler chose to homestead in Bedford Township, Jacob established his farmstead along the foothills of Blue Knob near the South Poplar Run. Jacob's decision to homestead farther north of his brother might have been motivated by a desire to be closer to his daughter, Eve, who was married to Gorg Heinrich Ho1tzel.
In the year 1797, just before Greenfield Township was formed, the pioneer settler, Jacob Schmitt Sr went to be with the Lord and was buried on a slope just west of his log homestead.
The residents of Greenfield Township in 1798 included: John Adams, Bartholomeu Booger, Adam Bouer, Adam Bowman Jr, Adam Bowman Sr, Samuel Braulia, Henry Bennet, Conrad Cox, Henry Champino, Stephen Delaney, Jacob Dively, John Dodson, Joseph Dodson, Michael Dodson Jr, Michael Dodson Sr, Thomas Dodson, Peter Foulk, William Gilson, James Grafford, Felix Grimes, Abraham Haines, Joshua Hanes, Henry Helsel, Thomas Iles, Peter Imler, Matthew Ivory, Justin Jesse, Jacob Junsane, Nicholas Justice, John Knisely, William Langam, Christian Lingenfelter, George Lingenfelter, Jacob Lingenfelter, Samuel Luiu, Miles Magau, Charles Malone, Widow McGraw, Malcolm McIntosh, Nicholas McQuire, George Mock Jr, George Mock Sr, Ludwick Mowing, William Nicholas, Nicholas Peticort, Peter Poorman, James Ray, Henry Ridler, Henry Roudabush, Adam Shafer, Michael Shepley, John Shirley, Richard Shirley, Jacob Smith, Jacob Stifler, Michael Stuft, Edward Tipton, Daniel Walter, Henry Walter, John Walter and Frederick Zimmer.