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A fact is defined as something that has actual existence. The items included on this page as 'facts' are a collection of things which actually existed throughout the years during which this region of the Pennsylvania frontier was becoming the county named Bedford.

Interesting Fact

Cutting A Road

The cutting of Burd's and later Forbes' roads has been noted in various histories of the French and Indian War. But what exactly is meant by the phrase?

When it is said that roads were cut through the forests, that is literally what happened. The trees had to be cut down ~ or rather, chopped down with axes. At the time of the French and Indian War, saws had not yet become a standard tool for felling trees. Nor were those large, spade-shaped axes used for felling trees. Men were strong in those days, but wielding a large, five pound broad ax all day would wear down the strongest of men. Broad axes were used to 'dress' the trees that had already been felled and to cut the sides flat. The ax that was used to cut down trees was aptly known as the 'felling ax' and had a blade only four to five inches wide. Having only a single cutting edge, the felling ax of the 1700s needed to be sharpened often to make effective cuts.

In addition to cutting down the large trees, any and all small saplings needed to also be cut down. Likewise all of the bushes and low brush in the path needed to be cut away too. And all of the cuttings needed to be cleared out of the way. Anything that would hinder the marching of troops needed to be removed.

All of the tree stumps needed to be pulled out of the ground along with any boulders. The removal of stumps and boulders was usually performed by oxen. The cleared ground would then have been raked level.

The military roads were paths cleared through the forest to a width of between thirty and thirty-five feet, That would accommodate the troops marching eight to ten abreast or two supply wagons. A marching column of soldiers consisted of ranks and files. According to An Universal Etymological English Dictionary, dated 1789, a 'Rank' was "the straight line which the soldiers of a battalion or squadron make as they stand side by side" whereas a 'File' was "a row of soldiers standing one behind or below another". George Washington, in a letter to Colonel Henry Bouquet on 13 July 1758, noted that his men were widening the road from Fort Cumberland to Raystown to a width of thirty feet "that two Waggon's might conveniently go abrest".

It is important to note that despite what some historians might want to believe, neither Burd's Road nor Forbes Road were covered with a layer of stone paving. A section of stone-paved road was uncovered in Everett Borough in 2018, and some historians were excited to believe that it was Forbes Road. The section may indeed have occupied the footprint of the original Forbes Road, but consisting of a layer of stone, it certainly would not have been Forbes Road as it existed in the late 1700s. It may have been a later incarnation of the Forbes Road when it was known as the Great Road or the Pennsylvania Road before being covered with asphalt as the Lincoln Highway. Colonel Henry Bouquet, in charge of the cutting of Forbes Road, wrote detailed letters describing his progress to General John Forbes who remained at Carlisle due to illness. At no time did Bouquet mention the quarrying, hauling and placement of stone over the cleared road. Forbes Road was simply cut as described above, and providing a passable surface as quickly as possible was Bouquet's priority.

Interesting Fact

The Threshold

Threshing, before the advent of powered threshing machines, involved striking the straw by hand with a flail. The flail consisted of a long wooden pole (the staff), to which was attached, by means of a short piece of leather on one end, another shorter wooden pole (the supple). The flail was described by the author Edwin Tunis as "simply a club, swiveled with leather at the end of a handle about six feet long." The flail was used by taking hold of the staff, and giving it a swing over the head, to bring the supple down onto the straw with a slap. This process of threshing, by continually striking the straw with the flail, was intended to cause the grain kernels to be knocked out of the heads of the straw.

Threshing was best done on a packed-earth floor. With a wood floor, there was the chance of some of the grain being lost between the flooring boards. The threshing floor was often on the second floor or top level of the barn, and required as tight of a floor as possible in order to reduce the amount of grain lost by falling through floor cracks. The type of floor most often used, therefore, was the type in which the boards were splined together. It might also be noted that by connecting the boards together by splining, they did not need to be nailed to the floor joists. The entire floor (or at least the portion used for threshing) would be tightly connected but simply resting on the joists without being permanently attached.

A variation of the threshing process was that of treading. Treading was less laborious for the farmer, but was not as efficient. The straw was spread either on the threshing floor or on the ground outside, and in a circle. The farmer would then lead one of his oxen or a horse to walk over the straw, thereby pushing the grains out of the heads by their hooves.

Threshing was repeated a number of times, between which the straw would be turned using a hayfork. Hayforks were most often entirely wooden. They were sometimes crafted from a naturally multi-pronged branch or could be constructed by cutting slits in the one end of a pole and inserting wedges in the cracks to force the pieces to spread apart. When the threshing was considered finished, the spent straw was gathered up with the hayfork and placed in a crib to be used as bedding for the animals.

Remaining on the threshing floor was a mixture of grain and the chaff (i.e. the hulls and 'beards'). The grain, of course, now had to be separated from the chaff. The process by which this was accomplished was referred to as winnowing. A winnowing scoop was a large wooden, two-handled scoop constructed with a flat bottom shaped as a semi-circle, with raised sides on all but the straight one. The grain and chaff mixture could be scooped up in this tool and then carried away. It was sometimes carried or lifted up onto a loft under which a sheet was spread. With the doors on opposite sides of the barn opened, and a breeze flowing through, the winnower, holding the winnowing scoop in front of him, would pour the mixture down onto the sheet. The wind would catch the lighter chaff and blow it off to the side, while the heavier grain would land on the sheet. There was no way that anyone in the barn could avoid getting some of the chaff in their eyes, in their hair, or anywhere else on their bodies. A board would be placed upright on the floor in front of the down-wind barn door, fitted into slots in order to hold it tight. Some of the chaff would be carried out the door above the board, which would serve to block the escape of grain. The board, by holding the threshed grain inside, was called a thresh-hold. It gave its name, threshold to the small board wedged between the jambs of the house's entrance door, which helped to prevent dirt blowing into the house by blocking off the crack below the door.

Interesting Fact

Drinking Fermented Beverages in the 1700s

The variety of liquids that we drink today were not all available to the people of the 1700s. Water, a very common liquid that we take for granted today, would have been obtained from either streams or hand dug wells, both of which would not have been totally free of disease-causing micro-organisms. Those micro-organisms were the source of diseases such as diarrhea and 'the flux', or dysentery. At the present time, we, who live in industrialized societies, wonder that such diseases are still common in third-world countries, but they can often be traced to impure water supplies. Pennsylvania in the 1700s was not so different than the third-world countries of today in regard to the cleanliness of water. In fact, one food historian stated that the colonists in North America would have had a "built-in resistance to water" because of centuries of learning that many diseases were brought on by drinking water that was less than clean. Milk, another common liquid in our diet at the present time, was primarily used for making butter and cheese. The milk that was drank would not have been pasteurized, a technique to sterilize the milk using heat, therefore diseases borne in unclean water were also found in unclean milk. Pasteurization was not used to 'clean' raw milk until Louis Pasteur developed the process in the mid-1800s. Carbonated 'soft' drinks and powdered fruit flavored drinks were not available until the 1900s.

The primary liquids that were swallowed as refreshment or nourishment by the people of the 1700s were cider, alcoholic liquors, tea, coffee and cocoa. Of these drinks, tea, coffee and cocoa might have been the least common. They required a lot of preparation each time that they were to be drank since tea was only available in dry, loose form and coffee was not very palatable when simply boiled in water; it needed to be percolated to be properly enjoyed. Despite having originated in the western hemisphere, cocoa was not drank in the English colonies of North America until about the 1760s. Cocoa, which had been drunk ceremonially, as a sort of sacred homage to their gods by the Olmec civilization as long ago as three thousand years, and later by the Maya, Toltec and Aztec priesthood, had been introduced into Europe by the Spanish invaders in the 16th Century. The bitter drink that the Spanish conquistadors carried to their kings and queens became refined and, as chocolate, spread throughout Europe for a century and a half before being carried to North America. The first cocoa / chocolate manufacturing company was established in Massachusetts in 1765. It simply wasn't drank widespread. Also neither tea, coffee or cocoa kept well in bottles or wooden kegs because they didn't ferment like other liquids.

Cider, pressed from apples, and its sister drink, peary, made from pears, were very popular in early Pennsylvania. According to a food historian, as apple orchards sprang up through New England and southward into Pennsylvania: "cider intake of the colonists rapidly reached gargantuan proportions" Cider was widely available for consumption in autumn, and during that season would have been very fresh and sweet tasting. As time passed, though, the cider, which was commonly stored in wooden barrels, fermented into hard cider. Hard cider, the alcoholic content of which could vary between 3 and 12 percent, was a common beverage for the whole family. In fact, practically all of the alcoholic drinks downed in the 1700s were drank by both men, women and children. Cider provided a number of vitamins that people otherwise would not have gotten in their usual diet. The Germans generally ate a breakfast which included cider or beer thickened with flour to make a sort of pancake. Apples were also used to make apple brandy and a liquor called applejack. Cider, but sometimes ale, was the basis of a kind of punch drank during the Christmas holiday called wassail. The name derives from the Middle English Waes Haeil, that translates as 'good health' or 'health to you.' Wassail was basically a hot mulled (i.e. heated) punch with the addition of sugar and spices including cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

Alcoholic liquors made up a large portion of the drinks available to people in the 1700s. Wine was common because a variety of fruits were readily obtainable from which wine was made. Wine was easy to make. You simply pressed the juice out of the fruit and added a little yeast to get the fermentation process started. The people of the 1700s did not glorify their wines; the age of the oenophile, or wine connoisseur had not arrived. Wines were made from just about anything available from grapes to blackberries, to currants, to dandelions, to rose hips to honey. Mead, a type of wine made from honey fermented in water, was as common as fruit wines. Beer and ale were brewed from cereal grains, such as barley, and allowed to ferment with yeast. They differed in the respect that hops added to the grains, produced beer with a slightly bitter taste. Ale, while fermented from the same cereal grains, was more fruity flavored and slightly sweet. Beer and ale were brewed primarily by the German and Swiss immigrants. Whiskey, likewise made from grains, was distilled rather than fermented. Whiskey was a drink made primarily by the Scots and Ulster Scots who settled throughout the hilly region of south-central Pennsylvania.

Rum, distilled from molasses, was perhaps the most imbibed alcoholic drink in the English Colonies in the 1700s. There are some historians who would argue that it was not necessarily the Tea Act of 1773 that goaded colonists to seek their liberty from Great Britain, but rather the forty-years earlier Sugar and Molasses Act of 1733 and its replacement, the Sugar Act of 1764. Both Acts imposed stiff taxes on sugar and molasses from anywhere other than the British West Indies in the Caribbean.

The thing that differentiates the consumption of alcoholic beverages at the present day as compared to the 1700s is that people drank alcoholic beverages in the 1700s because fresh liquids were not as readily available. Today most alcohol consumption is for the purpose of getting drunk. Despite the fact that the majority of the drinks consumed by the colonists of the 1700s were capable of causing intoxication, there were very few instances of public drunkenness. One possible reason for that seemingly unusual situation was that people spread their intake over the entire day rather than binging all at one time. People binged on holidays and at events such as weddings and funeral wakes which were often observed in someone's house. The act of getting drunk was not directly associated with taverns at that time. Taverns offered, to the traveler, a place to rest and get something to eat in addition to something to drink: much like the present-day restaurant. In an age when the average distance to be traveled in one day equaled just fifteen to twenty miles ~ a distance that we, today, might cover in just fifteen to twenty minutes ~ a horse drawn wagon was tiring for both the horses and the riders. The tavern offered a welcome rest after all the bumpy jostling of the wagon ride. Anyone who did get drunk at a tavern was probably the exception rather than the rule.

Interesting Fact

Not All Grist Mills Were Operated by Wheels

Every now and then a mill is listed on a tax assessment return by the name of tub mill. A tub mill was a form of grist mill. The difference between a tub mill and an ordinary grist mill was in the method of operation. An ordinary grist mill was powered by a large wheel consisting of a series of vanes or paddles. Water fed by a wooden trough either struck the paddles at the top of the wheel (i.e. overshot) or at the bottom of the wheel (i.e. undershot). The water striking the paddles caused the wheel to turn. The turning waterwheel, by a series of gears, caused a vertical shaft to turn. The vertical shaft was connected to the grind stones, which likewise turned on each other, grinding the grain between them.

In a tub mill, the vanes were attached to the bottom of a tub which held the grindstones. The tub would be positioned at the base of a waterfall. The splashing water would hit the vanes and turn the tub and therefore the grindstones directly. Tub mills tended to be very small constructions due to the manner of their operating. Although there was no need for gearing in a tub mill, it meant that the grindstones turned only as fast as the speed of the water hitting the vanes. In an ordinary grist mill, the gearing could by so constructed as to increase the speed of the vertical shaft.

Interesting Fact

Blacksmiths' Evil Stereotype

It has been suggested that the art and craft of blacksmithing was devised and begun by Tubal Qayin, a descendant of the Biblical figure Cain. The negative allusions associated with Cain having murdered his brother, Abel, were handed down to his descendants. One of those descendants, Tubal-Qayin was the son of Lamech, son of Methusael, and his wife, Zillah. The name Qayin (variously, Cain) is believed to mean smith, as in 'a worker of metals'. 'Tubal' referred to a place. The combination of 'Tubal' and 'Qayin' therefore produced: forger of metal implements from Tubal. Reference to Tubal Qayin (variously, Tubal-Cain) appears in the Jewish Torah and Christian Old Testament: "As for Zillah, she bore Tubal-cain, who forged all implements of copper and iron.' [Genesis 4:22]

Because of the association of primal evil with Cain, and Cain's association with Tubal-Qayin by lineage, and Tubal-Qayin's association with the craft of blacksmithing, connotations of evil have often been associated with blacksmiths down through history. Despite the necessity of the blacksmith and his craft within a village, he was often feared and sometimes openly ostracized.

Interesting Fact

Were the Second Court House's Interior Walls Left as Exposed Stone?

Only one record exists to reveal to us if the interior walls of the court house were covered in any way, or if the stone was allowed to show. In the 18th Century, interior walls were often covered with either a coating of plaster or at least a heavy coating of limestone-based whitewash. Less of a decorator concern than a means to prevent insect infestations, the plaster or whitewash would have given the interior walls a crisp, clean look, and would have lightened the generally dark space. A proposal for the carpentry work included an item listed as 'lathing.' That would have referred to thin strips of wood applied to the walls onto which plaster would then be daubed. It is reasonable to assume that if lathing was used, the walls were plastered. But there are no records to inform us if the walls of the courtroom and jury rooms sported wooden wainscoting or any other decoration.

Interesting Fact

Heckerman's Tags and Strips

The peanut factory was only part of Henry C. Heckerman's business interests. He was also involved in the wholesale grocers business. One of the items he sold was chewing tobacco, known at that time as 'plug' tobacco.

In the early 1900s, one of Mr. Heckerman's advertisements in a local newspaper offered a variety of 'valuable presents' in exchange for coupons he called 'tags' and 'strips.' "For the return of Honest John Plug Tobacco Tags and Bedford Plug Tobacco Strips" the reader could redeem them for items such as a pair of Men's Best Silk Hose Supporters (for 20 tags) or a Ladies' Alligator Pocketbook (for 40 tags). Some of the more expensive items included a pair of sterling silver scissors for sixty tags, a fountain pen for seventy-five tags and a Gem safety razor for one hundred and fifteen tags.

Interesting Fact

The Township that won the Name of Harrison

There exists a township in Bedford County today that bears the name Harrison. It is located in the west side of the county along the south side of the centerline. But another township wanted that name first.

On 28 November 1837, a number of Southampton Township residents petitioned the Court of Common Pleas requesting that their township be divided in two. As with most petitions requesting that a township be divided, the reason given by the Southampton Township residents was that from the large bounds of Said Township it being nearly forty miles long from East to West. Your Petitioners labour under great inconvenience, in their Township affairs.

The petition submitted by the Southampton Township residents ended with The Said new Township to be called Harrison Township.

The petition was not acted upon and was set aside until 1852 when the residents of Southampton Township once more brought up the request. At that time, the petitioners requested that the east portion retain the name of Southampton, and that the west portion by named Jefferson. The Court ignored the new request for another twenty-four years, finally agreeing in 1876 to make the division, but it did not follow the petition's request in the naming of the new township. Of course, as anyone who lives there, or can read a map knows, the west portion retained the name of Southampton and the east portion was given the name of Mann.

Interesting Fact

Same Place, Different Names

If you are driving up to Alum Bank, make sure to also visit Pleasantville. And also, if you have an interest in checking out Six Mile Run, don't forget to also check out Coaldale while you're there.

Those are only two examples of places whose names have changed over the years. And there's a simple explanation for most of these examples ~ the United States Postal Service. Throughout history, the residents of various communities have chosen names to represent their towns. The name might be chosen to honor the surname of the founding family, or it might be descriptive of the geography of the region.

In regard to Coaldale, the coal mining operations in the region greatly influenced the decision in naming the town. Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service refused to allow the residents of Broad Top Township to use that name for their mailing address because Schuylkill County already had a Coaldale Borough.

In the case of Alum Bank, the post office had been established originally under that name in what is today East St. Clair Township In the year 1812, a post office was established in the residence of James B. Rininger near the geographic feature of an alum bank. The post office was moved in 1843 to the residence of Joseph Sleek. And then, in 1855 it was moved two and one-half miles west along the Quaker Town Road to the emerging town of Pleasantville. Twenty years later, in 1875, the township of St. Clair was divided and the new boundary line revealed that the post office had crossed over from one township to the other. Regardless of the U. S. Postal Service's decision to keep the name of Alum Bank for its post office in the region, the people still prefer to call their town Pleasantville.

In the northwest corner of Kimmel Township, at the northern end of Long Ridge and at the intersection of two roads, the village of Lewistown grew up. The intersection of Scrubgrass Road, current State Route 4027, and Beaverdam Road, current State Route 4031, formed the center of the village. E. Howard Blackburn, in his 1906 History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania, described Lewistown as a 'hamlet.' On 01 May 1884, the name of the village was changed by the U. S. Postal Service to Queen due to the existence of another place named Lewistown.

And then there's the curious case of Alaquippa ~ or rather, Hopewell. According to Ben Van Horn "The original name of the village was Alaquippa, apparently for the influential Indian queen, Alaquippa, as was Alaquippa's Town, the Indian village at Mt. Dallas further south on the river." Although Mr. Van Horn did not note the source of his information, it apparently came from the History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania, where the statement appears: "The name of the postoffice at Steeltown is Yellow Creek. Hopewell was the name of the original office in this township, while the office at Hopewell village was known as Alaquippa. Subsequently Hopewell was changed to Yellow Creek and Alaquippa to Hopewell." According to the US Postal Service, the post office was established as Allaquippa on 03 June 1854. The post office received mail from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania two times a week. As soon as the railroad was constructed into this region, the mail began to be carried by that means. The name of the post office was changed from Allaquippa to Hopewell on 24 April 1858.

It seems like some places just couldn't get comfortable with any one particular name. And the Borough of Everett wins first prize for this phenomena. Alongside the Juniata River, at the southern end of Tussey Mountain, a village grew out of a trading post and a borough grew out of the village. James Burd, in cutting a road to support the Braddock Campaign, wrote a letter from Allogueepy's Town on 17 June 1755. The word 'town' would have referred to a trading post rather than to an actual village. The name of any trading post, though tended to be used by travelers to signify the general area surrounding that trading post. By the year 1759, toward the end of the Forbes Campaign, the site had come to be called Bloody Run. The location's name was included in a report titled "Accounts of Pack Horses" by Callender and Hughes during the Forbe Expedition. The report, filed in the year 1759, was not given a day and month, but being an 'annual' report, it can be assumed that it was submitted near the end of the year 1759. Therefore, the name Bloody Run would have been applied to the small stream during the four and one-half years between Burd's letter and the report. Michael Barndollar laid out a town plat at the site on 15 June 1795. He named it Waynesburg. That name lasted only eighteen years. A U.S. Post Office was established in the village on 17 July 1813 and given the name of Bloody Run. When the town was actually incorporated as a borough, on 26 November 1860, it was given the name of Bloody Run. But that wasn't the end of it. In 1873, a movement was started to change the name of the borough of Bloody Run. Those in favor of a change felt that the name, by which the borough had been incorporated just thirteen years earlier, was offensive and an embarrassment. The name 'Everett' was chosen in honor of Edward Everett, a politician from Massachusetts and an orator who advocated the avoidance of war at the start of the Civil War. Edward Everett is perhaps most famous for being the keynote speaker at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg, whose hour long speech is practically forgotten in favor of President Abraham Lincoln's short comments. Despite arguments for and against, the name of the borough was officially changed on 13 February 1873 to 'Everett.'

There is one place that did not have multiple names despite the fact that some people want to believe that it did. Bedford Borough was laid out in 1766 by John Lukens at the request of the Proprietaries. They stipulated in their orders to Lukens that the name of the new town was to be Bedford. A town by the name of Raystown never existed on the site upon which Bedford was laid out. 'Raystown' was the name of the trading post of John Wray, which was located close to the Narrows about one and one-half miles east of the eventual site of the town of Bedford. Absolutely nothing but vegetation occupied the bluff on which Colonel Henry Bouquet chose to construct the fortified depot. Being situated near John Wray's trading post, the fort was known originally as the 'camp near Rays town'. Even the fort was never known as Fort Raystown, as some historians mistakenly claim. Historians in the early 1900s erroneously stated that Bedford was 'formerly Raystown' and the mistake has been difficult to overcome.

Did you enjoy reading through these interesting facts? If you did, consider purchasing a copy of Bedford County, Pennsylvania ~ Two and One-Half Centuries in the Making, from which these excerpts came.