Petitions for the Formation of Huntingdon County

Five petitions for the division of Bedford County and the formation of a new County of Huntingdon are included in the holdings of the Pennsylvania State Archives in Harrisburg. The full citation for these documents is Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg; Record Group 7, Records of the General Assembly; General Assembly; Petitions and Miscellaneous Records, 1776-1790 (series #7.3).

Interest in these documents is twofold: they initiated the process that did, in fact, end with the creation of Huntingdon County on September 20, 1787; and they contain the signatures of 681 residents of the parts of Bedford County that desired to be separated from it and to become the “charter” residents, so to speak, of the new county.

A sixth petition was signed by 67 residents of Bedford County who were opposed to the division for reasons specified in the document. The townships in which these residents lived is not specified in their petition, while the townships in which the signers of the other petitions resided is given at the beginning of their petitions in favor of the new county.

Transcription of the names was done by Nancy Shedd with as much care as possible, but the names were often very difficult to read and no guarantees can be made that they are transcribed accurately in all cases. It is probably safe to say that the majority of signers were not well educated, nor were they practiced penmen. Those signatures in German script (which are not transcribed) are indicated as German so that German residents’ participation in the process is recognized. It should also be noted that some names appear more than once on the same or on different petitions.

Spelling has not been regularized, but is given as written. Thus, it can be seen that members of the same family often spelled their surname differently —sometimes varied by just a single letter, sometimes more, as in “Gansshorn” and “Gooshorn.” It can be helpful to pronounce the names out loud as they are written; the sound of the name may put the reader on the right track when an unfamiliar spelling does not.

Because of anomalies in the numbering of the original lists, the counts of signers given below may not agree with the last numeral that appears on a given list.

Frankstown & Tyrone Townships
285 signers

Huntingdon, Barree, Hopewell, Dublin & Shirley
226 signers

Huntingdon, Barree, Hopewell, Dublin & Shirley (2nd petition)
72 signers

Shirley Township
81 signers

Burnt Cabin Valley
17 signers

Petition opposing the Division of Bedford County
67 signers