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Country: United States
City: Clearfield, Pa.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 1,210
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 4,965
Earliest Date: 2 August 1854
Latest Date: 7 December 1881
The journal of the 18th-century missionary Rev. John Ettwein noted that the waterway known as Clearfield Creek was so called because “the buffaloes formerly cleared large tracts of undergrowth, so as to give them the appearance of cleared fields.” The new county formed in 1804 was named after the creek, and the county seat laid out in 1805 by Abraham Witmer also was dubbed Clearfield, rather than named for the Indian village Chinklacamoose originally situated on the site.
The West Branch of the Susquehanna River traverses Clearfield County from the southwest to the northeast, and the river was the industrial lifeblood of the region in the 19th century. Bituminous coal mined in the area was transported to market on river arks, but above all, the river enabled the county’s lumbering industry to become one of the biggest in the state. Timber felled in fall and winter would be rolled into the river and creeks swollen by the high waters of spring, fastened together to make huge rafts, then piloted downstream by a crew with oars. “The occupation of a raftsman has just enough of excitement and danger in it to make it attractive, and begun in boyhood is generally adhered to through life,” wrote William H. Egle in his 1883 history of Pennsylvania.
Established in 1851, the origins of the Clearfield Republican actually lie in the first newspaper in the county, the Pennsylvania Banner, founded in 1827. Writing in 1911 (Twentieth Century History of Clearfield County), Roland D. Swoope, Jr., noted that, “In all [the Republican] has had nineteen owners, five titles and has changed its politics four times.” Despite its name, the Republican for most of its life was an organ of the county’s Democratic (majority) party and was a robust example of Copperhead politics during the Civil War, probably its most interesting publication era. The Copperheads were Northern Democrats who opposed the war, which they blamed on abolitionists. They resisted the draft and demanded peace with the South.
Clearfield County supplied many volunteers to the Union Army, but also harbored draft dodgers (only 150 of the 600 draftees of August 1864 reported for duty) and deserters. Editorial comments in the vein of this one published in the Republican on December. 16, 1860, were common: “The Slaves are the property of their owners – made so by the fathers of the republic – and our neighbor has no more right to interfere with his property, to the prejudice of his owner, than he has to walk into his neighbor’s barn and steal his horse.” In the issue of November 16, 1864, editor Daniel W. Moore celebrated the fact that the Democrats carried Clearfield County in that critical presidential election, calling it a glorious victory “gratifying in the highest degree to every patriot – to every man who thinks we have had enough war in the foolish effort to make the negro equal with the white man, and who is in favor of an honorable peace and a restored Union.” But, with Lincoln’s triumph, Moore said, “It is all in vain.” The long-lived weekly newspaper continued to publish until 1937.
Provided by: Penn State University Libraries; University Park, PA