History of Beccatia, Pa.
From: Clearfield County, Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens
By: Roland D. Swoope, Jr.
Published By Richmond-Arnold Publishing Co., Chicago

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BECCARIA TOWNSHIP

This Township is situated in the southern part of the county, having for its southern boundary the dividing line between Clearfield and Cambria counties, and being bounded on the east by Gulich Township, west by Chest and Jordan Townships and north by Bigler Township.

This township was one of the earliest settled in the County, but was not created into a township until 1807. It was named in honor of the distinguished Marquis DeBeccaria. The township was erected by a decree of the Court of Centre County to which county Clearfleld County was attached at that time for judicial purposes.

The principal industries of the township are the mining of bituminous coal and agriculture. The populations according to the census of 1910 was 3,095.

The first settler in this township was undoubtedly Captain Edward Ricketts, an old Revolutionary soldier, who in the latter part of 1798 or the spring of 1799, in company with a party of Indians, came to the place now known as Keaggy’s Dead Water, on Clearfield Creek. His first stay was brief, but he subsequently returned, bringing with him his wife. He died not long after his settlement here, partly from the hardships he had endured and partly from an injury received while hunting. It is believed that he was not only, the first settler in Beccaria township, but also in Clearfield county. In 1801 he was followed into the wilderness by his sons James and Edward, the former of whom afterward moved to what is now the site of Utahville.

In 1830 when the township was erected it was so thickly covered with timber—chiefly pine, hemlock and oak—that few pioneers were hardy enough to attempt a settlement. Many after a brief stay, allowed their lands to be sold for taxes and moved to other locations. The lew who remained permanently, however, in time reaped a rich reward, or at least laid the foundation of an abundant prosperity for their descendants. Such among the pioneers were John Cree, the Carsons, James Ray, the Turners, John Hegarty, John and James Gill. Henry Dillen, Joseph Leonard, James McNeal, Edwin and James Ricketts and Samuel Smiley, all of whom paid taxes on farm land in 1810-12.

The first, or one of the first roads in the township was cut across the mountain to Tyrone in 1813. This was for hauling shingles, the first product of the cut timber. About this time also the first saw-mills were erected, Samuel Turner putting up a saw-and grist-mill on Turner Run. Square timber then sold at five and six cents per cubic foot, and the best pine boards brought but $6 or $7 per thousand.

The first church was built at Mt. Pleasant, or Utahville, as it is now called, in 1813, though the township then had less than 75 inhabitants. It was of the Baptist denomination and Dr. John Keaggy was its first pastor. This same Dr. Keaggy during the week was engaged in medical practice. He was killed by a fall from a horse in 1819.

In the next year after the building of the church the first schoolhouse was built, on the site of the building later known as the “Williams schoolhouse.” It was of course a log structure and had a clapboard roof.

In 1810 John Gill made the first opening of bituminous coal in this township, discovering a vein 14 inches thick, which he used for blacksmith purposes. Other veins were soon opened, Samuel Hagerty making the first opening for shipping purposes. Other interests of the township—its transportation facilities, its boroughs, etc., will be found treated of under their respective headings, in other chapters of this volume.

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