Below is an excerpt from the article 15 Historical Sketches of Our 200 Years by Douglas Macneal.

The "Truly Wonderful Place" Bellefonte

[Postcard to the left: Old postcard depicting the alure of the Bellefonte's "Famous Trout:"]

Bellefonte was early remarkable for its concentration of wealth. Enterprising ironmasters cheated Milesburg out of being selected for county seat by dragging a boat to High Street, to prove Spring Creek was navigable. So the town became home to lawyers as well.

Still a village in 1856, Bellefonte totally charmed ambitious young lawyer James Beaver, in his own words "a mere boy fresh from college" (and from Kishicoquillas Valley):

The town was an inland village. Its communication with the outside world was exclusively by stages to and from Lewistown, Lock Haven, and Tyrone. No one came to town without the knowledge of every person in it. Curtin was at the time secretary of the commonwealth, appointed by his old friend and schoolmate Governor Pollock. His homecoming was an event. His office would be immediately besieged by a host of admirers; and when such a congenial company as Bond Valentine, Col. James Gilliland, Rev. John Toner, Hon. Samuel Linn, and a host of others would gather in his office, the sparkle of wit, the ludicrous traditions of the region and the fresh stock of anecdotes which Curtin would bring with him would keep the crowd in continuous session from morning till night, with a very short adjournment for dinner.

Bellefonte in 1883 strongly impressed Edison Company engineer Paul D. Dyer, who came to lay out plans for the generating plant that would make the town, now numbering 3,026, among the first ten in the country to be electrified. Mr. Dyer wrote:

This place is truly wonderful. It is not so large as Renovo in population by 1000 people. Yet supports two daily papers, three banks, an opera house, a Christian Association, and a gas company—institutions that Renovo will not have in 20 years... [T]he proportion of first-class dwellings is very large, mostly granite or marble and in a style of architecture that cannot be surpassed. The churches are magnificent stone and brick structures and larger generally than those of Erie or Utica. Two electric companies have been formed here, and both applied for a charter the same day...

There were other opinions. In Brush Valley you praised a man by saying, "He's so common!" Whenever School Superintendent Henry Meyer had to stay over in Bellefonte on his rounds of schools, his diary entry was always the same as this of Feb. 8, 1880:

I was at Bellefonte all day and passed time reading. I never enjoy myself much staying at Bellefonte over Sunday.

Bellefonte in 1900 looked back with pride upon its heritage as a "fountain of governors." Its Academy was flourishing, especially athletically, under "Mister James" Hughes. Town architect Robert Cole was building monumental homes, schools & churches.

To read the rest of this article and much more about the history of our area, click here.

We also recommend that you visit www.Bellefonte.com.

 

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