African-American Settlement in Cambria County

This Settlement was founded in the late 1790's by Edinborough Smith and William Harshberger - whose families have called the Johnstown Area home for over 200 years.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Browns - 1939

This is an aerial view of Browns Farm - May 1939. The image is courtesy of The farm is the large spot in the center of the frame. On the lower right would be Fairfield Avenue and St. Clair Road along with the houses off of St. Stephens Cemetery. Click on the picture to enlarge.
Wish this could be clearer - but this is the best I can get it. As you can see - Elmer and all his children had their hands full - running this large truck farm.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Old Barn Foundation

I know it's been awhile since I posted some actual pictures of the site. You are looking at what's left of one of the old barn foundations.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

John Brown Dead - August 1893

John Brown Dead - Obit from the Johnstown Democrat - August 15, 1893. As a researcher this obit throws a wrench in the scheme of things. But having said this - you also can't ignore any piece of information - no matter what.
So according to this - John claimed only one child - a son named John, whose whereabouts is unknown. Sometimes a family spins an obit for many different reasons. Why this one did not name Elmer and his siblings as children. I will most likely never know. CLICK HERE for Elmer's Obit. But there has to be - in my opinion - a very good reason and I have a feeling I know why - but will hold off on posting my thoughts until I can gather more information.

It's plainly clear - talking to family members and listening to stories about John - he was mostly likely the father of some children - because they all basically describe him as a deadbeat dad. The thing is - Elmer went by Harshberger for most of his life. It wasn't until he bought the farm at a tax sale that he took the last name Brown and it started being called Browns. Before 1903 - it was known as Harshberger's Grove. John Brown played a very little role when it came to the mountain. He spent the war with Covode and afterwards spent more time in New Florence than anywhere else.

John was born in 1826 near Harrisburg and I don't think it's an accident that he chose to die up at the farm with old Lizzie (Betzie). They were both the same age and I also believe they had even more in common...

Also not written in this obit - John had a cousin Thomas (African-American) who supposedly also spent some time in the Johnstown Area but who later moved to Hollidaysburg Area.

And one more point to ponder - John was born in 1826 - the obit doesn't list the year of his son John's birth - but rounding things off to every 20 years or so, his son John could have been born around 1846 and could have also fought (albeit very young) in the Civil War. But I have feeling that John was most likely light-skinned and as soon as he could pass for white - he left the mountain - never to return. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Draft Notice - December 1864

This is John E. Smith's Civil War draft notice - Yoder Township - in December of 1864. He actually ended up serving twice. Double click to enlarge.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Elmer Brown Obituary

Obituary for Elmer Brown. Note: some of the information listed is slightly incorrect. There is a bit of family confusion when it comes to who is who - that I won't explain here. Double click to enlarge the image.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Smith - Adultery Case

A couple of points about the 11 Aug 1894 clipping from the Tribune that just cracks me up. Martha is actually Mariah (Maria) Smith and Boering is spelled Boring. They say that old John E. Smith was 'simple' and was a bit on the slow side. Whether he was born this way or it was a result of being in the Civil War. We'll never know. His wife Mariah (Dorman) on the other hand was known as the 'friendly' type of gal that liked to keep in the company of men. Ephraim Boring (white) on the other hand - lived just off Mountain Road at the time and it seems that he and Mariah may also have had a little something on the side - before it went sour. You know it's lonely living up top a mountain.....

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bad Boy - William Smith - 1894

Meet William Smith the son of John E. Smith the Civil War Vet. As you will read - good old William was a very bad boy indeed....but I don't think a little thing like a $300 fine stopped him from having a little fun.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

John Brown - Runover by Wagon

The date of this clipping is from around 1870 or so. John Brown was run over  by his own wagon. But he ended up - none the worst for wear.

Monday, April 18, 2011

John Brown - Knife Fight - 1875

Interesting newspaper clipping from the Johnstown Democrat - July 23, 1875. John Brown got sliced in a knife fight. Double click on the picture to enlarge.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Native American Mound

There are so many different elements that make up Browns and this is just one element of the history of the site - in fact - Native Americans called this section of the mountain home for centuries.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Brown Cemetery - March 2011

As per a conversation I had with one of old Elmer's grandsons - he told me that the cemetery also contained graves that were marked with wooden crosses. Considering that the wooden foundation of an old tool shed located right next to the cemetery that I remember seeing the the 1970's has disappeared. What was left of the crosses are also long since gone. I tried searching for old post holes - but that proved impossible - what I need is that ground radar thing they are always using on the History Channel.
And on another note - the size of the stone indicated the age of the person.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Time at Browns

This shows off Browns on what was a very chilly March saturday today. This past weeks snow is still up top the mountain. But to me - it just doesn't get any prettier than this.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elmer Brown and wife Annie Bowser

It's truly an honor to be posting this wonderful picture today. Let me introduce you to Mr. Elmer Brown and his wife Annie Bowser. This photo is from one of Elmer's grandchildren - who kindly invited me into their home to share a great meal and meet his entire family. And the stories that they have been sharing with me - are worth more than I can say. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

More on Smith Murder - 18 Aug 1865

This newspaper clipping is taken from the Johnstown Tribune - 18 Aug 1865 on the murder of old Edenborough Smith. It contains some of the same information from an earlier posting. But as you will soon be reading - I've gotten my hands on some new information. And I still say something about this murder just doesn't add up right. As you will soon be reading - stories about who was where and when will be changing. I even contacted the Cambria County Coroner's office a couple of weeks ago - to see if they still has a file on the case. Alas, their records don't go back that far.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Picnic at Browns - 1892

What I wouldn't give to have been able to spend just an hour up there watching everyone enjoying themselves. Just standing on the sidelines - putting faces to the names that I have come to know as well as members of my own family. Who knew John Brown played the violin with old Lizzie (Betsey) Harshberger keeping an eye things. What I find so interesting is that the Tribune found reason to publish this and thank goodness they did. I have a couple more of these kinds of stories that I will be posting.
Reader Minor Leaguer says: "I think "Larry" has the best idea of all! I enjoy reading clippings from old newspapers and such. Right now I'm reading a reprint of a 1907 book, "My Life as an Indian," by J.W. Schultz. It's very interesting (to me) to read how things were written a century ago."
(Lisa) - I have to agree with you. I have more clippings that I will be posting.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Apple Tree's - Browns

These three apple tree's are what's left of old Lizzie Harshberger's orchard.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Large Rockpile - Cairn at Browns

On a day when we flirted with 70 degrees.  Browns was on my mind all day. I will be heading up in the next couple of weeks. Right now, it's just too wet heading up.  This rather large rockpile shows considerable age. Especially considering this section up at Browns was clear cut at one time. My feeling is that it is indeed - Native American and a donation pile or possible burial. I am leading more towards maybe both - since there are couple more of this size and condition in the same area.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Three Sisters - Lizzie's Orchard

These are just about the only apple trees left from what was once a large orchard up at Browns. I call them - The Three Sisters - I don't know why, I just do. I tried last year to grow a seedling from a couple of the apples. Non of them took.. So this year, I am going try grafting. These apple tree are at least 100 years old if not older.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Native American Cairn - Browns

This is a nice, large size Native American Cairn (possible Burial Mound) in the cemetery area at Browns. There are a couple more in the area of different sizes. I don't think it was an accident that the cemetery is located where it is.
I can not wait for the snow to melt. Springtime at Browns - it's the most beautiful place on earth to me. It feels like you can almost touch the blue skies....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Harshberger Cabin Painting

You are looking at a painting done of old Elmer Brown's log cabin by Helen Price. She was a founding member of Allied Artists. And anyone that went to Bheam School, she was a friend of old Miss Paul my first art teacher who was also a member of that group.
This painting is hanging down a JAHA. Price painted a whole series of old log cabins thru out the area. This picture gives a great snapshot look at the lay of the land in and around the cabin. If you are new to this site - the cabin was built around 1827 by William Harshberger a free black man who brought his family over the mountain from Lancaster County and settled up Laurel Hill. William was Elmer's (he was born a Harshberger) great-grandfather.
Unfortuately the cabin burnt to the ground in the 1970's in a case of arson.
If you know anyone that has any pictures from up at Brown's - please let me know: