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Settling of Cambria County

Submitted by David Monahan, very active list member! Thanks, Dave.

From: The Planting of Civilization In Western Pennsylvania by Buck and Buck, 1939, Univ of Pittsburgh Press page 222-223

... Another catholic center developed about the same time at Loretto in Cambria County, where Captain Michael McGuire from Maryland began a settlement in 1790. With the coming of Prince Gallitzin in 1799 to serve as priest and promoter, the settlement grew rapidly. Gallitzin acquired more than twenty thousand acres of land, which he sold to settlers on easy terms; and by 1813 his church had over 500 communicants and Catholic settlements had been established at several other places in Cambria and Blair counties. The majority of Catholics in the mountain regions were Irish, while Germans predominated among them in communities farther west.

Cambria County was also the scene of the settlement of two groups of immigrants from Wales, each under the leadership of a minister. The land occupied by these settlers was purchased from Dr. Benjamin Rush, and it is probable that he was responsible for their location in the region. The first group, consisting of about 12 families led by Rev. Rees Lloyd, founded Ebensburg in 1796; and in the following year the other group, of about the same size, started the rival town of Beulah. Beulah faded away after the county seat was located at Ebensburg and the main roads left it to one side, but the agricultural settlements expanded and doubtless attracted additional immigrants from Wales. While the Catholic Irish and Germans were settling the northern part of the county and the Welsh in the center, Protestant germans were expanding their stronghold in Somerset and Bedford counties to take the southern part of Cambria. A study of racial origins of the settlers in Cambria County before 1815, based on the names in tax lists and census schedules, indicates that those of Germanic origin made up the largest group, about forty-two per cent. The Irish and Scotch accounted for thirty-five per cent, the Welsh for fifteen and only eight percent appear to have been of English origin.


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