North Huntingdon Township (Pennsylvania)

North Huntingdon Township (Pennsylvania)

Named after England’s Earl of Huntingdon, Huntingdon Township was founded on April 6, 1772 in Pennsylvania.

Huntingdon’s boundaries started at the mouth of Brush Run where it emptied into Brush Creek. The area is approximately 26 square miles (67 km2)with the Township maintaining about 125 miles (200 km)of roads. If these roads were placed end-to-end, they would stretch from North Huntingdon to Cleveland, Ohio. [A. L. Historian, "Irwin and the World Around It" (Irwin, PA: Key Art, 1989), 9. ] The boundaries, following along Byerly’s Path to Braddock Road, continued to the lines that mark Mount Pleasant, Tyrone and Pitt Townships. Huntingdon Township was later divided into the townships North Huntingdon, East Huntingdon, South Huntingdon and Sewickley. Around this same time, Westmoreland County, where North Huntingdon is located, became the townships of Fairfield, Donegal, Mount Pleasant, Hempfield, Pitt, Tyrone, Springhill, Menallen, Rostraver and Armstrong.

Many Native American tribes inhabited this area before the European settlers. The Alligewe Indians are believed to be the first people to live in this area. [ "Irwin and the World Around It", 9 ] After this tribe, there were also the Shawnee, Seneca, Cornplanter and Delaware, also known as Lenni Lenape, tribes. The first white man did not come along until 1662.

Arnold Viele, a Dutch trader from Albany, New York was the first white man to enter this territory. [ "10 Score: North Huntingdon Township" (Norwin PA, 1973), 16. ] Viele had wanted to establish Indian trading posts that were closer to other communities. In doing this, he persuaded the Shawnee tribe to move near the Potomac and Susquehanna Rivers. After Viele, James Letort, Andrew Montour, Conrad Weiser and George Croghan were some of the other settlers to move to North Huntingdon.

Many different European groups settled in this area. Two of them were the German and Scottish-Irish immigrants. In the late 1670s, North Huntingdon Township was settled from both the eastern and western ends. [ "10 Score: North Huntingdon Township", 22 ] This section is divided but what is now known as Irwin. The Germans settled in the east and to the west was the Scottish-Irish settlement. In the German settlement, the Lutheran church ran the schools, and they exclusively taught the German language. The Scottish-Irish settlement was Presbyterian. This group settled mostly in the areas of Circleville, Cavitt’s Mills and Robbin’s Station.

The settlers wanted to provide their children with some education in their new homes. Farmers donated land so they could have schools for their children that weren't far from home. The schools were made with logs and a clapboard roof. Established in 1782, Birch Spring School was the first school in the township. [ "The Diamond: Official Publication Commemorating Irwin's 75th Anniversary Celebration" (Irwin, PA: Rodgers Printing, 1939), 27. ] It was also called Master Jack’s school after its first teacher. Teachers did not have to meet many requirements to get the job. [ "The Diamond: Official Publication Commemorating Irwin's 75th Anniversary Celebration", 27. ] They had to pass an exam and have a basic knowledge of reading, writing and math. They also had to know how to mend quill pens and wield birch rods. Another school named Fairview was built in 1816. This school was used in the eastern end of the township, while Master Jack’s school was used in the western end.

Schools were not the only thing that these settlers built. They also made their homes. The homes were about 10 feet (3m) high with only one room and one window. They had to use mud for insulation against the cold winters. Chairs were made of logs and beds were stuffed with hay or straw. There was a hole in the roof, instead of a chimney, to let cooking smoke out of the house.

About a century after the German and Scottish-Irish settlers, the Township’s population was recorded as 3,000 in 1860. [ "Irwin and the World Around It", 9. ] According to a census taken in 1980, North Huntingdon Township was the second largest municipality in Westmoreland County with 31,517 residents. ["Irwin and the World Around It", 9 ] Another census in 2000 recorded that the population was down to 29,123 people.Fact|date=September 2008

Even today, 246 years after the German and Scottish-Irish settlers, North Huntingdon Township is still a rapidly growing area. Major developments include housing plans such as Kerber Farm Estates and Knight’s Landing. Businesses have also found a home in this area. Target and Kohl's are two of the large chains that have moved into North Huntingdon. With these housing plans and businesses being built everywhere, this part of Pennsylvania has many more years to come.


Works cited

*"The Diamond: Official Publication Commemorating Irwin's 75th Anniversary Celebration". Irwin: Rodgers Printing Company, 1939.
*Roth, Bernard B. (Ed.) 10 "Score: North Huntingdon Township". Norwin Community: 1973.
*Historian, A.L.; "Irwin and the World Around It". Irwin: Key Art/Print Production and Laurel Quick Print, 1989.

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