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


This township was erected by a decree of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Clearfield County, dated February 4th, 1834. It is bounded on the north by part of Brady Township and by Bloom Township, on the east by Pike Township, on the south by Ferguson and Greenwood townships and on the west by Greenwood and Bell Townships.

This township has many fine farms well cultivated and also valuable coal deposits. The population of the township, according to the census of 1910, was 936.

The township contains some very high lands, especially in the northern and western part, where the summits rise in places to an altitude of two thousand feet above tide-water. From the river front, on the south, back for a short distance, there is considerable level land, but with a gradual inclination upward as a north or northwest direction is pursued. The township is well watered, although not possessed of any streams of note except where the Susquehanna River skirts its south boundary. The creeks tributary to the river that have their course through the township are Curry’s Run, in the extreme west part; Poplar Run, having its course about two miles east from Curry’s Run; Bell’s Run, which practically intersects the township, and runs a generally south course just west of the center; Little Anderson Creek, the course of which is opposite to that of the other streams, running a north and east direction, and is tributary to the greater Anderson Creek, into which its waters are discharged in Pike township on the east. Besides these, there are other and smaller runs and rivulets incident to a mountainous district.

At an early day, and less than ten years after the erection of the county, the lands along the river were nearly all taken up and occupied, so that subsequent pioneers turned to the most available of the hill, or ridge lands, whereon to erect their habitations and make their farms. In this locality, as elsewhere, there was but little to attract the notice of settlers, as the entire region was densely wooded, and every effort at improvement or cultivation was attended with great labor and considerable expense, and ready cash was an exceedingly scarce article at that time.

The locality known as the “Grampian Hills,” was one of the first settled of the upland districts of the county. It may be said to have been divided, so far as settlement was concerned, into two localities, the one toward the river, on the lower lands, near the base of the “Hill,” and that more remote from, and back of the bottom lands, or the “Hills” proper. The lowlands were occupied by the Bells, the Fergusons, and the Fentons, and was subsequently taken up by John Bennett, Nun England, William Hepburn, Joseph Spencer, Francis Severns, and Samuel Cochran. From 1805 to 1808, a large tract here was claimed by Charles Smith, but his claim was without foundation, and therefore unsuccessful.

The Bennett improvement was divided among his heirs. The England lands passed to the ownership of other parties, and most of his family left the county many years ago. Job and George England (sons of Nun), left and went to Ohio; Isaac moved to Morris township. William Hepburn, of Scotch descent, was a man possessed of many peculiarities, and yet, withal, a good citizen. He died leaving a family, John and Samuel C., sons, and Catharine, who married James Thompson, being his children.

In the year 1808, Joseph Spencer came with his family, and took up lands that had been purchased from Benjamin Fenton, some four hundred and more acres in extent. He divided his farming and wood lands into four parts, of one hundred acres each, and gave one to each of three sons, retaining one tract for his own use. Joseph Spencer, the pioneer, was of the Society of Friends, and a man highly respected in the county. His descendants are numerous in the county.

Francis Severns and Samuel Cochran were descendants of African blood. The latter, Cochran, is described as being a light mulatto. His mother, as well as himself, were said to have been born in slavery. Several times Samuel escaped from bondage. Once he was captured, and on the other occasions he voluntarily returned to captivity, but eventually purchased his freedom and came north. Early in the present century he came to Clearfield from Lycoming county, and settled, about the year 1804, on the south side of the river. Later he took up some three hundred acres of land in one of the best localities on the Grampian Hills. He cleared over one hundred acres, built a substantial log house, and a large, double log barn. He kept a number of horses and a large quantity of other live stock, and became one of the most thrifty and successful farmers on the “hills.” His house was the popular resort for teamsters on the old Kittanning turnpike. Cochran raised a family of several sons and was anxious that they receive a good education, such that he had not, nor was allowed to acquire during the days of his youth, and in the bonds of slavery.

The name of “Grampian Hills” as applied to the locality heretofore mentioned, was not given until the time of the settlement here by Dr. Samuel Coleman, a person of supposed noble birth, who was of Scottish parentage, but who came to this county from the eastern part of the State in the year 1809. From a striking resemblance the locality bore to the Grampian Hills of Bonnie Scotland, the doctor gave it this name in honor of his native country and home.

The lands, or a very large body of them, in the townships now included by Bell Pike and Penn, were surveyed in the name of Hopkins, Griffith, and Boone, and were afterward known as the Nicklin and Griffith lands. This company gave to Dr. Coleman a tract of about three hundred acres as an inducement for him to settle thereon, which he accepted. In the year 1809, he commenced clearing, having the assistance of three men, one named Gibson, and one slave (colored), named Otto. They encamped for a time in an open shed, thatched with brush, and slept on pieces of chestnut bark in lieu of beds, and until better quarters could be constructed.

Early in the summer of 1809, Joseph Boone and his family reached the home of Esquire McClure, having come up the West Branch from Williamsport by boat. The party proceeded to Coleman’s camp in wagons, upon which they slept on the night of their arrival. The next day a cabin was built of logs, and roofed with bark from the trees in the vicinity. Boone was a man of cducation and worth; a zealous Catholic, and devoted to his church. He commenced the erection of a grist-mill on Bell’s Creek, but through some cause the enterprise was abandoned. He afterward was chosen prothonotary and recorder of the county, and held other positions of public trust, all of which he most satisfactorily filled. He lived for several years at Clearfield town.

James Moore, formerly a resident of Half Moon township, Centre county, came with his family to the “Hills” in the year i8io, and located on the site of the village of Pennville, and near which passed the Glen Hope, and Little Bald Eagle, and also the Punxsutawney turnpikes. This place was distant from the river about four miles. Mr. Moore and his sons Jeremiah, Andrew, and James, built a saw and grist-mill at an early day. James Jr., was for a time, agent for the Fox and Roberts land, so called, an exceedingly large tract owned by a wealthy Philadelphia family.

The Moores were a prominent family in the affairs of the locality, always having at heart the interests of all who were around them. They were members of the Society of Friends and actively participated in the welfare and progress of that society, shows strongly of the efforts of this family, as well as the other resident members of that society. Prior to the settlement of the Moore family there had been no regular religious services held in the vicinity, although, as early as 1806, Rev. Daniel Stansbury came and preached occasionally in the neighborhood. Rev. Stansbury was a tailor by trade, and his coming was a welcome one on that account, as he could clothe the outer man and provide for his bodily comfort as well as for his spiritual welfare. Rev. Linn, of Bellefonte, came to the vicinity and delivered an occasional sermon, but his visits were not frequent. In the year 1822 regular services were begun, and a log edifice was built on Esquire McClure’s land. After years of occupancy the old building was abandoned, and a more commodious one was built at Curwens ville, in Pike township.

Among the others of the old settlers of Penn township, and who came in about or soon after the year 1810, were the families of Samuel Johnson, David Wall, Caleb Davis, gideon Widmire, Jonathan Wall, Joseph Giddings, Jonathan Taylor, David Allen and others from time to time, down to the erection of the township, in the year 1835, and later.

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