150th Anniversary History
       of Blair County, Pennsylvania

by Larry D. Smith


With Contributions by Carole Kutz, Cloyd Neely, Susanne & Paul Ohl, Robert Resig and Timothy Van Scoyoc

And photography by Bernard R. Smith


The first and only comprehensive history of Blair County to be published since 1945.

Available for $85 (plus applicable tax and a charge for shipping and handling) through Closson Press, 1935 Sampson Drive, Apollo, PA 15613-9209.

Blair County, Pennsylvania was erected out of Huntingdon and Bedford Counties in the year 1846. The year 1996 marked Blair's 150th Anniversary as a separate county. This volume, recognized by the Blair County Commissioners as the official Sesquicentennial history book, and comprising 833 pages of text, 29 pages of footnotes, a 61 page index and 439 photographs, has been produced to commemmorate that anniversary.

The region encompassed by present-day Blair County comprised approximately two-thirds of the region which was formed as Frankstown Township within Bedford County in the year 1775. Blair County's Euro-American history actually extends farther back beyond the dawn of that period of two hundred and twenty years. The first white settlers to homestead in this region are believed to have come to this region during the decade preceeding the formation of Franktown Township. Earlier still, in Pre-historic times, numerous Indian tribes sojourned in this region. Building upon the rich historical tradition established by a half dozen Blair County historians of yesteryear, this volume describes the historical events back to that time.

Over the past two hundred and twenty years, the region that is today Blair County has experienced the following: the Indian occupation (eg. the village of Assunepachla, and the residence of Captain Logan), the American Revolutionary War (eg. the Engagement of Frankstown and the Tory attempt to incite the Indians at Kittanning), the Iron Industry (eg. the more than thirty forges and furnaces located within its bounds), the era of the Pennsylvania Canal (eg. the Juniata Division of the Main Line Canal System and the Allegheny Portage Railroad), the establishment of the major railroad industry at Altoona (eg. the Pennsylvania Railroad's Altoona and Juniata repair and construction shops) and the subsequent industrial and commercial environment that makes Blair County one of the most populated counties in the state.

A number of features set this volume apart from other books about the history of Blair County. Unlike the previously published history books, which relied largely on unverified sources of information, this volume has been footnoted throughout. The serious researcher will find original source material transcribed verbatum. The editors of earlier history books altered the spelling and punctuation of original source materials to conform to their own contemporary grammar, this volume presents the original materials as they were written. Previously history books have provided biographical sketches of only certain settlers and have often led the reader to assume that there were perhaps only ten or fifteen pioneer families that homesteaded here. One chapter in this volume provides short sketches of the lives of the over two hundred pioneer settlers who appeared in this region from the earliest settlement (ie. circa 1768) to the year 1783 when the American Revolutionary War came to a close and people began to move westward en-masse.

This 150th Anniversary History of Blair County, Pennsylvania is intended to provide more than just a history of the region. A secondary purpose is to present a snapshot of the region at the present time ñ which will form the substance of the history of this time period for the future historian. The businesses and professional services, churches, and schools are the places where the people of the county meet and communicate. Those meeting places are the places where history is created every day. The grist mill of the early 1800s has been replaced by the supermarket of the late-1900s as a place where people meet and touch the lives of their neighbors. For that reason, this book provides a sort of directory of practically all of the public places in the county at the present time. That information is presented in the format of a travelogue. The author, in describing the public sites in each township or borough, takes the reader on a trip along each road and comments about the location of the point of interest in relation to other points of interest and then provides a short history. This format was chosen so that the interested reader might be able to travel over the many roadways of the county to locate and view the points of interest for themselves. A secondary reason for this approach to the public, points of interest was to record for posterity the location and description of each site in case they are destroyed by natural causes or the "wheels of progress."

Some items included in the 150th Anniversary History of Blair County:

Detailed history of each township and borough in the county, along with a chronological history of the City of Altoona. (Note: A more complete history of the City of Altoona is being planned by the Altoona Sesquicentennial Committee.)

Critical analysis of various subjects presented in earlier published history books which conflict with the public records.

Determination of the earliest settlers within each township and borough region from public records rather than "word of mouth" sources.

Maps showing the evolution of the various townships of Blair County.

Complete and verbatim transcriptions of Tax Assessment Records for each township for the year closest to the year the township was formed.

A detailed history of the region during the American Revolutionary War (the only conflict in which this region was directly affected). Included is a complete and accurate guide to the burial sites of Revolutionary War Patriots in Blair County soil.

A history of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and various other units in which men of color participated in the Civil War.

A complete Transcript of the Act whereby the county of Blair was erected out of Bedford and Huntingdon Counties in the year 1846.

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