Cameron County Genealogy Project

Fun facts, trivia, and odds and ends that do not fit anywhere else

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Cameron County was formed by an act of the Pennsylvania Assembly approved March 19,1860. It was formed from parts of Clearfield, Elk, Clinton, McKean and Potter Counties. Cameron County was named in honor of Simon Cameron who was the United States Senator from Pennsylvania at that time.

Cameron County consists of five townships. Grove, Lumber, Gibson, Shippen and Portage.

Grove and Lumber Townships were contributed by Clinton County. Grove Twp. was named for Peter Grove who, in the 1780's, fought and killed a
band of  marauding Indians in the village of Sinnamahoning near the mouth of the Run which now bears his name."
 It became part of Clinton County when Clinton County was formed in1839.

Lumber Township was so named because of its vast forests.

Gibson Township was contributed by Elk County. It was named in honor of John Bannister Gibson. An attorney and jurist who became one of the justices of the Supreme Court and was appointed Chief Justice Of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Portage Township was contributed by Potter County and named after the Portage Branch of the Sinnemahoning

Shippen Township was contributed by McKean County named after Edward Shippen an early settler.

Cameron County has two Boroughs

Emporium was named by a surveyor  in the late 1700's

Emporiumís Name means Center of Trade

 The name of Driftwood was taken from the driftwood in and along the stream
banks after the log drives that took place here in the 1800's  

Although the sign coming in to Driftwood says the town was named for the Driftwood on the Stream.

Did you Know?

Cameron County is second youngest County in Pennsylvania

That there are two Civil War veterans Graves behind the old Cameron School and these are both decorated every Memorial Day with Flags

That the Volunteers for the Civil War known as the Bucktails sailed on rafts from Driftwood to  Harrisburg to be sworn into the Union army. 

There is a Monument in the Driftwood Square dedicated on April 28,1908 in honor of theses brave men.

The model for the figure on top of the Monument is a Smith E. Guthrie buried in the Driftwood Cemetery

The oldest Marked grave in the County is William Crow born 1799 died 1817

Do You Know?

.Do you know what is a run? What is a draft? What is a Hollow? Keep watching

A point to Ponder-The Best that you can be is the best that you can be!

Cameron County has many treasures in her wealth of lumber .coal, wildlife and industries but there are other treasures little known to many. These are the "Lost Treasures" buried or hidden in our hills and valleys. Many have tried to find them. It is rumored that some has been found. Such are the tales of silver and gold and some of the searchers.

The tale of "Lost Silver Treasure" supposedly buried in the area around Keating Summit and Gardeau by

Captain Blackbeard who was commissioned by the British Admiralty to raise the wreckage of a Spanish Galleon.. It had gone down off the Bahamas during a heavy tropical hurricane in 1680.

He was able to rise the hulk and towed the cargo to the safety of an American city, Baltimore, as England was at war with Napoleonic France.

To attempt to taking the treasure across the sea was an impossible and there was the probability of America being drawn into the war.

He decided he would follow the Susquehanna River due North to what is now Williamsport from there northward to the Sinnamahoning River to what is now Emporium. There would then be a 23 mile portage over Keating Summit to the head waters of the Allegheny River near Port Allegheny. This was know as Canoe Place. He would then follow the Conewango Creek to Chautauqua Lake where he would follow the Chautauqua Creek to Lake Erie which was controlled by Britain and he would be safe.

The silver was loaded on to wagons that had false bottoms and covered with hay.

Blackbeard never dreamed of the difficulties of the land route through the wilderness of Pennsylvania. He encountered many including loss of rafts and oxen. He also heard that Lake Erie was swarming with American boats. He decided to bury his treasure until after the war.

So in the summer of 1812 the treasure was deposited in an old salt lick. He reasoned that after the British beat the Americans he have no trouble claiming his treasure. He buried his treasure and made it safely to Canada and eventually back to England.

When he did return to America he sent Col. Noah Parker to guard the treasure site. It is rumored that Col Parker managed to keep the intruders away and he also managed to keep Black beard from finding his treasure.

Within a few years Blackbeard died and the treasure was forgotten by all except by Parker who from time to time showed sudden affluence., After the Civil War ended Col. Parker opened one of the first spas

Northern Pa. Many guests came to his Hotel to be cured in the waters and he entertained them with stories of the Lost Silver Treasure which is still rumored yet to be found

There is gold in them thar hills

In June of 1863 a caravan of wagons and armed horsemen came up the Old Toby River (Clarion) to a clearing and camped overnight, This caravan was made up of two heavy canvas wagons, three drivers and eight men on horseback.

Concealed beneath the false bottoms of the large wagons and covered with hay were twenty six black painted bars of partly refined gold each weighing 600 oz troy weight and worth about $10,000 ea. These wagons also carried empty boxes to appear to be loaded with freight.

This party started from Wheeling, West Virginia. where it had met the packet River Queen at a pre-arranged meeting a few miles west of Pittsburgh. There the dummy freight and gold were transferred to the wagons.

They started east bypassing Pittsburgh, for eight days, selecting little traveled roads and avoiding large towns.

The main characters in this journey were Lt. Castleton a veteran that had been discharged after the Mexican War with a hip injury and Malaria.

and Sgt. Mike OíRourke. and a man named Conner's. They were to take the gold north as far as necessary to avoid the possibility of bumping into Rebel Patrols and then head south to Washington with the gold.

The next morning they broke camp still following the Toby Creek Trail through the forest and on the third day camped in a clearing near the town of Ridgeway. Castleton and O'Rorrke went into town where they found the residents quite unfriendly. Castleton was seeking Quinine for his malaria.. OíRourke going to a tavern where a brawl broke out and they were lucky to escape with their lives. The next morning they broke camp and bypassed the town taking a road that runs much the same as Route 120 and two days later they arrived at St. Marys.

There they met a man named Richardson who was mentioned in their orders as being friendly Richardson would not go with them but gave them a map made by a surveying crew in 1842

T his map showed a passable road over the mountain and followed the stream to the Hicks place on the Sinnamahoning. Richardson also helped them get food and supplies but no quinine for Castleton who by now was very ill. They rested for two days and started out over the road which was hardly more than a trail with Castleton in one of the wagons.

Castleton hired a guide named Joe that wandered to the camp. OíRourke didnít trust him. They followed trail along a stream which is now known as Brunner Brook.

Castleton became worse. He put OíRourke in charge. Staring out along the trail they came to a place inn the road where it dived in to three sections. They were hopelessly lost by now.

During the night Joe and two of the men taking two horses deserted and were never seen again.

OíRourke was unable to take charge without Castleton help so Conner was appointed in charge. The decision was made for Conner to leave Castleton , OíRourke and five men with the wagons and the gold to travel as Castletonís condition permitted .

Conners and two other men would head east ward for help. for help By this time the party was camped on the ridge running north and South just west of the East branch of Hicks Run. Conners said that when he left Castleton and OíRourke were arguing over whether to try and carry all the gold or bury some of it. Castleton and his group were never seen after that.

Conners arrived in Lock Haven a forty miles east of Driftwood and reported the death of every member of the expedition and the loss of the entire cargo.

The Army turned the case over to the Pinkerton's and for a time the area was swarming with agents who hired any local lumbermen, teamsters or anyone that was available.. They searched the area for about a year to no avail.

During the summer two army mules were found in the possession of an old man in Chase Run. He claimed he found them in the woods.

The remains of three to five bodies were found in 1876 when the Elk and Cameron County boundary was being re-surveyed.

Conners was inducted into to the Army and sent to a western outpost. He was never permitted to be discharged.

This was taken "The Cameron County History" an article by Mary Skinner. Source unknown for a more complete story see the article


Whatís in a name

Shaky Logue Hollow named because a family of Logue's that lived there had members with impaired nerve weakness.

White Oak Run named after a early stand of white oak timber in that area.

Pepper Hill so named as it seems there was a raft that ran aground and spilled some of its provisions. The crew went to eat their meal and there was no pepper as it was lost with the provisions. Someone remarked that it was a peppery place thus the name Pepper Hill.

Mollyís Slide named for a Molly Smith who lived across the creek. One day while picking huckleberries a thunderstorm came up she got under a tree at the top of the slide. The wind blew the tree down and she got on the tree and rode it to the bottom.

Goosetown upper end of Driftwood for the mostly Irish families that raised geese for meat and feathers

Horsehead Hollow where the woodsmen buried some horses but not deep enough as their heads laid on the ground.

Sinnemahoning is from an an old Seneca name meaning Stony Lick

Lower Jerry Run was named for an escaped slave ,Jerry Gaines ,who settled at Grove.

Schmoke Draft on Lower Jerry Run was named for a family named Schmoke. Scmoke was an escaped slave that came with Jerry Gaines.

.Jerry Run Lick on Upper Jerry Run in the run was a natural deer lick.

Cow Hollow in Cooks Run so named as it was customary to pasture cattle on Cooks Run.

Bog Ore Hollow named because of the small deposits of bog iron found there.

Trout Hole Run named as there was a trout fishing hole on Wycoff Run

Canoe Run so named because early settlers found a canoe there by the Indians.

Salt Run named as salt water came from a natural salt lick;

Pigeon Hollow named as wild pigeons nested and were trapped there.

Wood Rock Run so named as there was a very big rock in the creek north of this run.

Arksill Run was where a lumberman harvested timber to make sills for an ark to float down the river on a log drive.

Plank Road Hollow so named because planks were used to pave the road It was formerly Wrights Run

Most were named after individuals or families and are self explanatory. I will add more at a later date.

Interesting tidbits to enjoy

First Chinaman in Emporium was Sam Winkee

The area if Cameron County is 491 square Miles thus making it one of Pennsylvaniaís smallest counties

Tom Mix" King of the Cowboys" was born in Mix Run near Driftwood,

Jack Dorval was a great heavy weight Boxer from Cameron County

Early School Trivia

Although records were not preserved locally education dates back before the incorporation of the county

There is a difference of opinion as to the location of the first. The following is credited from a history of Emporium traced to Chicago

First teacher in all probability was Miss Elisa Dodge who taught the three Rís in a new frame barn at the mouth of North Creek on 1817

She was followed by William Boyd who taught in a Log house that had been built for a dwelling in Lumber Township in 1818


A log House was constructed above Emporium in 1819 Students studied under John Chadwick who taught 1819 -1820

Miss Jedidah Freeman taught the summer term 1820 and Leonard Freeman a winter term in 1820

The first schools of Higher education were established in Sinnamahoning in 1864-65 by John Brooks.

The school was suspended in 1873.

In 1866 Mrs. J. B. Johnson opened a select school in Feltí Block

In1888 it was reported that were 42 schools in the county with an enrollment of 1427 pupils. Average salary for teachers was Male $49.47 and Female $33.78 monthly

Emporium at that time employed six teachers and enrollment of 373 pupils. Average Salary was Male $85.71 and Female $35.00 per month

County had Four High Schools maintained by the borough of Emporium, Driftwood and Shippen Township

First class to graduate from Emporium High School was in 1889 under the principal of H.H. Weber

High School in Shippen was established in 1907 in charge of H.B.Hourihan.

No records on Driftwood High School that was closed in 1916 due to the shortage of students/

The Emporium Schools are indebted to W. H Howard for a three hundred volume library and a piano. Josiah Howard contributed valuable additions to the library. Other contributors were B.G. Erskine, Guy S. Felt and many others.

Sterling Run School built in 1930 now houses the Cameron County Little Museum.

According to some authorities the first school was built on the Mason farm in 1820 with Dennis Lynch as first teacher.

Consolidation began 1924 in Emporium and secondary students from Driftwood and Sinnamahoning traveled by train to Emporium. Pa railroad ran local trains to accommodate . This was continued until 1941 when World War II forced the Railroad to abandon this practice. The students wer the bussed to Emporium.



Sizerville had a bottling Work of P.H. Shumway. Water was supposed to cure rheumatism, dyspepsia, indigestion ,kidney and urinary problems.

Emporium had two post offices to handle mail prior to and during the year 1892 when East Emporium office was discontinued. It was reestablished in February 1894 and continued to operate independently until 1915 when it was made a substation acting under the direction of the larger uptown building.

Foley Brothers of Olean, NY were awarded the contract for the erection of the Soldiers and Sailors of at the courthouse Cost was $4,200

First Person born in Cameron Co was Simon Earle born to Mr. And Mrs. George Earle 1812

First Wedding took place in the Earle home in 1813 when Miss Thankful Lindsey was the blushing bride Groomís name not mentioned.

Population at this time was 45 persons.

Powder for the building of the Panama Canal came from Emporium . The powder came from the Keystone National Powder Company. This company was a consolidation of three independent powder companies in Cameron County. These were The keystone Manufacturing Co,, The Emporium Manufacturing Co. (Hercules) and the Sinnamahoning Powder Manufacturing Co. The consolidation was the direct result of an order 25,000,000 pounds of Dynamite received by Keystone Powder Co. It was delivered to be delivered at the rate of 1,000,000 pounds a month.

The pathways to the tomb of the unknown soldier are made of Flagstone from Sinnamahoning.

Emporium was once called "Girlís Town" and was featured in an article in Colliers magazine in 1942

The Little Museum in Sterling Run was once Lumber Township County School. In 1931 the Lumber township school Board purchased a prefabricated two room School House from Sears and Roebuck at the cost of $3600. I served as Sterling Run School until 1962 when the county schools were closed and children were bused to Emporium. It was opened as The Little Museum in 1971

The Tom Mix Birthplace and Museum is located near Driftwood in Mix Run on the site of Tom Mixís Birth place. It contains much memorabilia honoring a native son that went on to be a famous cowboy/movie star. It is designated as a historical site by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

The Cameron County Court House was erected in 1890. As the county grew Emporium realized the importance of being the County Seat and subscribed $5000 for the first courthouse. The Philadelphia and Erie Railroad gave the same amount and the ground between 5th and 6th streets on which to build it . The building was erected under architectural designs by A.D. Wagner a prominent architect from Williamsport, PA. It was erected contract by S.W. Kreiner a leading contractor in Emporium

The Cameron Citizen was the first paper to be published in the area. It was founded by F.A. Allen in 1853. Allen sold it to Lucius Rogers in 1858 who moved it to Emporium when the new county was formed and on December 28,1860 the first number was issued . The next year Rogers received an appointment to recruit a company for the war and the Citizen was discontinued in the latter part of August 1861.

The Cameron County Press was founded in 1866 under C.B. Gould with the first issued being issued on March 8, 1866. The equipment was from the now defunct Citizen , after a slow start it grew and was successful The office with all it contents and no insurance burned down. Mr. Gould began anew and again was successful.

Hobo parties were a big fad in the late 1890ís with the popularity spreading across the country. Each guest was given a tin cup of coffee, a spoon and a red handkerchief for a napkin. Refreshments were served in paper bags with appropriate hobo names on cards attached to the bag. Coffee was served in old tomato cans with cream and sugar in salmon and sardine cans

** Health and beauty tips from (from 100 years items)

Oranges are beneficial for cooling the blood.

Gargling the throat with cold water strengthens it.

Applying coconut oil to the eyebrows will darken and increase their growth.

A hair lotion said to be good is composed of 2 drams of borax, 2 drams of tinctures of cantharides. 10 drops of oil of rosemary and 6 ounces of Rose water.

A Lotion said to be good to prevent gray hair from increasing is one teaspoon of sulfur in a little glycerin, 2 drams of cantharides, 20 grains sulfur of quinine,4 ounces of Bay Rum. Apply with a sponge every night.

The free use of sulfur is the moment one of the children has a cold prevents diphtheria. A lump as big as a pea every night when they go to bed is a good plan if they are not as well as you think they should be. It wonít hurt them and it may save a lot of pain and suffering.

The following recipe is said to be a infallible cure for all wounds caused by glass or nails.: Place a match to a bunch of raw wool, permitting the smoke to penetrate the wound and all soreness will be removed. Repeat the smoking process if deemed necessary. A woolen cloth may also be used with good effect. It is an ancient cure but one not generally known and if used will prevent death from lockjaw.

Dutchmanís cure for bedbugs

Put on yourself molasses when you go to bed den de bugs vill stick himself mit it and you can kill them in the morning.



The first transportation systems were the Indian trails. There was only one trial through the county but it was well known. A map made of Pennsylvania in 1791 shows the trail and shows Driftwood area this was 12 years before Driftwood was settled.

The Sinnamahoning Creek was declared a public highway in 1804 by the State legislature. This meant a person had the right to use the river in either direction whenever he desired.

The creek was an important highway until a road was built. Surprising were the items transported up the creek. Hezekiah Mix brought a piano up the creek from Lock Haven. The boat upset once and he reloaded it and continued the trip. His was the first piano in the area.

The creek was the cheapest way of transporting goods down stream even after roads were built.

The only known stage coach line ran between Sinnemahoning and Austin. About the year 1906 represenative C.F. Barkley of Sinamahoning decided to do something for the home town. He had the state pave about a mile of road starting at the Grove township line, running under the railroad bridges and to the First Fork bridge. The work was down by Negroes. They brought stones from the creek and stood them on end side by side until the road was completed.

The use of tar was not well understood and on one occasion the road was tarred . A footbridge was constructed over the road to the railroad station. Some fellow dropped his cigarette and the road caught fire. It burned from one end of the road to the other.

On another occasion the road was tarred. Members of the village didnít like walking in this tarry mess so they covered the newly tarred road with sawdust. This was not appreciated by the state.

Emporiumís main street was paved with bricks from the brick plant in Cameron. This held up quite well until the roots of the trees heaved it up or someone put a sewer line across it. This happened quite frequently so the bricks were covered with macadam.

Another interesting type of road was the Plank Road. It is said that there were two in Cameron County. One was from the saw mill up Plank Road Hollow to the mouth of the stream. The other went up Huntís Run to the mill. The idea for this type of road was developed in Canada. They worked fine when first put down but after while they rotted out leaving large and dangerous holes. The idea for this type of road only lasted for about ten years.

The only known stage coach went from Sinnamahoning to Austin. After the railroads came the stage coaches were stopped.

As early as 1721 the first law to protect deer was passed. That law was for populated areas. The first law was a closed season. Next Dogs were forbidden to run deer for their pleasure in 1873. The use of dogs used for hunting deer was banned in 1897. Next was the doe season in 1907.

Most runs have a small waterfall about half way up the stream.

A Run is a brook and a draft is a Hollow. South of the Bennettís Branch there was the tendency to name the narrow valleys "Drafts" in stead of Hollows

This page was last updated on  Saturday, February 28, 2004 .

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