See prints of Penns Valley's past
by Artist June Goyne Corotto
to buy more than the barest necessities. The lessee could have the land for 8 uears with the understanding that he would strive to acquire a deed at the end of that time. When the Pennsylvania Germans purchased the land and came to the valley, the "squatters" had to leave. Upon moving further west, the squatters would leave a shack behind that the new owners would probably stay in until they had a better house built. The new owners agreed that in a certain period of time they would plant a peach and apple orchard of at least 100 trees and a certain amount of land would be cleared for growing rye, wheat and a good English grass.
It was 1791 that Anthony Bierly brought his family over a new road into Brush Valley from the east. This is 5 years after the village of Aaronsburg was established. It took the Bierly famiily two weeks to come from Snyder County through the mountain into Brush Valley. On their wagon would be everything they owned including their meager clothes; pots, pans, and dishes; heavy covers; some of Grandma's remedies to treat sickness; spices, salt (used to preserve food), some cookingn staples like beans and flour and a few other items. There would be tools for clearing the land and bulding a new home. Also, a very important item would be their seeds for planting.
In 1791, the same year that Anthony Bierly came to Brush Valley, Andrew Gregg, Jr. became the first United State Representative in Congress from the district that included Centre County.
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Pioneer Families of Penns & Brush Valleys
by Evonne "Vonnie" Esterline Henninger
Early families in this area were Scotch-Irish. It is believed that about 85,000 Scotch-Irish came into Pennsylvania between 1728 and 1776. They were incredibly tough men and women. They weren't particularly good farmers and were always looking for a reason to sell to the "Dutch" and move on. They would say "when you can hear the howling of a neighbor's hounds, it is time to move on. These people were verbal, vocal and argumentative. They made good storekeepers, tavern keepers and traders.
Not only did the pioneers need to keep watch for the Indians but they were deviled by the wolves and mountain lions. In 1705 the wolf pack continued to increase so that sheep became impossible to raise. Every wolf head was worth a day's wages. It would be 1840 before the wolf population would be brought under control and bounties were paid until 1890. In 1802 the panther bounty was $8.00. Lion kittens were worth $5.00.
Early families strictly observed the Sabbath. Food was prepared in quantity on Friday and Saturday -- no fire was lighted on the hearth on the Sabbath. One Scottish woman told her new daughter-in-law, "In this house we observe the Sabbath strictly. It is the Lord's will -- and what's more, it's the only rest you will ever get." This religious up-bringing was imbedded into families for many generations. Mary Abbott in her Brush Valley history, "Goat in the Belfry" relates to the time a minister and his wife make an unexpected Sunday afternoon visit to the Henry Meyer Home in Rebersburg. Mary and her older sister descretely start a fire in the cook stove to bake a cake. She speaks of their worry that someone, including her parents, would realize that they are breaking the rules by baking on Sunday.
James Potter owned Penns Valley to the west and Jacob Haines owned Penns Valley to the east. Haines Township saw its first road in 1772. Within one yhear 16 families and 5 slaves were living here. Three years later in 1778 the Jacov Stanford family was killed by the Indians in Potter Township. Panic resulted and the remaining families fled over the mountains to Kishocoquillas Valley. It was nine years later in 1786 that the families returned to Haines Township. It was this year that Aaron Levy laid out the village of Aaronsburg and Frederick Henney build the first permanent residence -- known today as the Spackman home in the middle of Aaronsburg.
About this same time James Poe, a distant relative of Edgar Allen Poe, received two warrants for the Penns Cave farm. James was the first white man to own the Penns Cave.
Meanwhile, a wealthy man, Colonel Samuel Miles from Philadelphia, bought a large tract of land for $24.00 from John Penn, a son of William Penn. Colonel Miles came to look at the land he bought (which is now Miles Township) and found it to be fertile and there was lots of water. He divided the land into 300 acre plots to rent as most pioneers didn't have the money