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"McKean: The Governor's County"
Rufus Barrett Stone
Chapter 4

Submitted by PHGS Member
Mike Henderson

"McKean: The Governor's County", Rufus Barrett Stone. Lewis Publishing Company, Inc. New York, 1926. Pages 30 and 31.


The county of McKean was a weapon in the Governor's hands. As a historical fact the controversy between Pennsylvania under the leadership of Governor McKean and the opposing power holding an earlier royal grant and supported by a rival Commonwealth, although without physical encounter, culminated in the valley of the Tununguant beyond which the hostile forces made no advance. Here most fitly the event should be commemorated.

For want of inhabitants eligible to office McKean could not at once be officially organized. Consequently it was made dependent upon the county of Centre and the power and authority of the Commissioners and other officers of that county were extended to McKean, while its judicial business was transacted at Williamsport. Ten years after its formation this county had but fourteen taxable inhabitants. Nevertheless, an act was then passed for the provisional organization of the county, by virtue of which one set of officers was made to serve for two counties, McKean and Potter. The act fixed the place of meeting of the Commissioners at the house of Benjamin Burt over the line in Potter. In 1810 the number of inhabitants in the county was reported to be 142; eleven years later there were 211 taxables in McKean, but it required an act of Assembly to compel the provisional commissioners to "clear off all timber and brush at Smethport from so much of the site for the seat of justice, not exceeding thirty acres, as they may deem most convenient." In 1826 the county was independently organized for judicial purposes, the first court held, and a brick courthouse erected.

Settlements had then been made at Ceres, Smethport, Bradford and Instanter, while Canoe Place (now Port Allegany) was known as the "Gateway to the Sinnemahoning and to the upper and lower "Allegheny." But as late as 1832 the Gazeteer says that Ceres had less than six houses and that Smethport and Ceres are the only places that can claim "the slightest pretention to being towns." It notes also that while there is an academy, a courthouse and prison, "there is not a church in the county."

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Last Update January 30, 2020