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Huntingdon County

Stories and Legends of Huntingdon County

Standing Stone

Juniata which is thought to be a rough translation of the word Onayutta meaning Standing Stone. A famous landmark on the right bank of a creek of the same name, on the Kittanning trail, at the site of the present Huntingdon, Huntingdon County, Pa. The "standing stone" is described by John Harris (1754) as being 14 ft high and 6 inches. square. It was to be highly venerated by the earlier settlers. After the treaty of 1754 the stone disappeared and a new stone took its place. The Standing Stone was later moved to the center of the town of Standing Stone (Huntingdon). It stood for many years until someone in a drunken frolic demolished it. A part of the second erected stone is stored in the Huntingdon County Courthouse. A third stone was erected and is located in the center of William Penn Street and Penn Street in Huntingdon, PA Rev. Dr William Smith, provost of the University of Pennsylvania, laid out a town on the site of Standing Stone in 1767, to which he gave the name of Huntingdon. The old name, however, clung to the place for years afterward. Nearly all the traders and military officers of the 18th century use the old name. It is marked "Standing Stone" on Lewis Evans' maps of 1755 and 1770; "Standing Stone, Huntingdon," on the Pownall map of 1776.


Disclaimer from the Huntingdon County Historical Society: The name of Standing Stone for the spot where the town of Huntingdon stands originated at a now-unknown date. In the 1740s two famous travelers observed and made note of a stone pillar or marker. Its dimensions were 14 feet high and six inches square. No other feature—no carvings nor inscription— was observed. It was soon noticed that the marker— the original Standing Stone— had vanished. At that point the folklore and the legends began "filling in the blanks." In the opinion of Huntingdon County Historical Society's researchers, nothing about the stone can be claimed as historical.


The legend of The Giant Snake of Broad Top

If you find yourself walking the woods of the Broad Top mountain be careful where you step or more precisely where you sit. A legend passed from the 1800's tells the tale of a lumberjack who sat on a log one day to enjoy his lunch. His face turned a pale white when he realized his crude bench began to move. Since then tales have surfaced and sightings have occurred of an exorbitant serpent roaming the lands.

Numerous locals in the Huntingdon county area pass along tales of an 18-20 foot long snake with yellow markings around its neck and eyes. Travelers through the rural area have reported running over small logs only to spot them slither across the road. During the 1950's several strip miners in the area also recognized an abnormally sized serpent roaming the mountaintop.


The Captian Phillip Ranger's Memorial

On July 15, 1780 it rained heavily. Phillips' Rangers took refuge in the deserted blockhouse/homestead of Frederick Heater. Unbeknownst to them, Heater had just fled with his family after finding his son dead and scalped a short distance away.

The night passed uneventfully, but they awoke on the morning of July 16 to find a war party of over 50 braves camped around them. The battle started shortly thereafter. The Rangers put up a ferocious fight. Heater's blockhouse held up against gunfire, assaults and even fire for awhile. The hard rain the previous night left everything soggy. The Indians finally got fires started on the roof but the Rangers doused them with buckets of water up in the loft. This went on until mid-afternoon, when the fires finally took hold and the water ran out. Phillips negotiated a surrender with an English "advisor" which included terms that no harm would come to them.

Captain Phillips and his son were led away separately. They became British POW's in Canada. The other Rangers were led a short distance, tied to trees and tortured to death. A militia company led by Colonel Piper found them two days later. He reported that all had multiple arrows sticking out of them and had been scalped. Evidence of their agony was offered by other reports that they had been cut open and that the leather thongs the Rangers were bound with had dug deeply into their flesh.

Colonel Piper's men buried the Rangers in a mass grave 18 inches deep at the spot where they died. To this day, there are conflicting reports as to how many bodies were actually found and buried. Some say all 10. Others claim nine or seven, with the missing Rangers killed in the house and consumed by the inferno.

But we do know for certain that 10 Rangers died. We know their names. We know they weren't professional soldiers or mercenary hacks. They were farmers and family men who volunteered to help protect their community. Many of their ancestors still live in the region. They keep the memories and historical record alive.

In recognition of that, the current monument was built in 1926. It's an impressive structure just sitting out in the middle of the woods. According to historical records, it's about a half mile east of the Heater blockhouse where the Rangers made their stand. At the time it was built, nobody knew where they were buried.

Their mass grave was undisturbed until January 25, 1933 when a Civilian Conservation Corps working party stumbled upon it. American Legion Post 169 in Saxton, PA had the remains re-interred four months later in a burial vault right next to the monument and not far from the place where they were killed 153 years earlier.

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Fictional Dime Novels

Dime Novels Published decades before our first comic books, dime novels were fictional adventure stories about hero explorers, mountain men, Indian princesses, cowboys, outlaws, and frontier fighters. Dime novels remained highly collectible and traded until the early 1900's.

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logoDo you have any great stories about Huntingdon County? If you do we would love to know about them. We are presently awaiting permission to publish some of Jon Baugham's stories. Sometimes those stories that might stretch the truth are the most interesting stories. Most of the time they do hold some truth, but they do seem to attract interest from those who normally would not be interested in history itself. Please consider contributing.