Place:Pennsylvania, United States

redirected from Place:Poss. Pennsylvania

Alt namesCommonwealth of Pennsylvaniasource: Wikipedia
PAsource: Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1988) p 1257
Pennsyvlaniasource: common misspelling
Pennsylvania Colony
Coordinates40.833°N 76°W
Located inUnited States     (1787 - )
Contained Places
Adams ( 1800 - )
Allegheny ( 1788 - )
Armstrong ( 1800 - )
Beaver ( 1800 - )
Bedford ( 1771 - )
Berks ( 11 Mar 1752 - )
Blair ( 1846 - )
Bradford ( 1810 - )
Bucks ( 1682 - )
Butler ( 1800 - )
Cambria ( 1804 - )
Cameron ( 1860 - )
Carbon ( 1843 - )
Centre ( 13 Feb 1800 - )
Chester ( 1682 - )
Clarion ( 1839 - )
Clearfield ( 26 Mar 1804 - )
Clinton ( 1839 - )
Columbia ( 1813 - )
Crawford ( 1800 - )
Cumberland ( 1750 - )
Dauphin ( 1785 - )
Delaware ( 1789 - )
Elk ( 18 Apr 1843 - )
Erie ( 1800 - )
Fayette ( 1783 - )
Forest ( 1848 - )
Franklin ( 1784 - )
Fulton ( 1850 - )
Greene ( 1796 - )
Huntingdon ( 1787 - )
Indiana ( 1803 - )
Jefferson ( 1804 - )
Juniata ( 1831 - )
Lackawanna ( 1878 - )
Lancaster ( 10 May 1729 - )
Lawrence ( 1849 - )
Lebanon ( 1813 - )
Lehigh ( 1812 - )
Luzerne ( 1786 - )
Lycoming ( 1795 - )
McKean ( 1804 - )
Mercer ( 1800 - )
Mifflin ( 1789 - )
Monroe ( 1836 - )
Montgomery ( 1784 - )
Montour ( 1850 - )
Northampton ( 1752 - )
Northumberland ( 1772 - )
Perry ( 1820 - )
Philadelphia ( 1682 - )
Pike ( 1814 - )
Potter ( 1804 - )
Schuylkill ( 1811 - )
Snyder ( 1855 - )
Somerset ( 1795 - )
Sullivan ( 1847 - )
Susquehanna ( 1810 - )
Tioga ( 1804 - )
Union ( 1813 - )
Venango ( 1800 - )
Warren ( 1800 - )
Washington ( 1781 - )
Wayne ( 1798 - )
Westmoreland ( 1773 - )
Wyoming ( 1842 - )
York ( 1749 - )
Inhabited place
Lilly Cambria
Rebecca Furnace
New Sweden Colony
Susquehanna Settlement ( 1754 - 1810 )
Brush Creek
Warriors Mark


source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a U.S. state spanning the Mid-Atlantic, Northeastern, and Appalachian regions of the United States. It borders Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and the Delaware River and New Jersey to the east.

Pennsylvania is the fifth-most populous state in the nation with over 13 million residents as of 2020.[1] It is the 33rd-largest state by area and it ranks ninth among all states in population density. Nearly half the population (6.09 million) is concentrated in the southeastern Delaware Valley metropolitan area, centered around Philadelphia, the state's largest and nation's sixth most populous city; another one-third of the state's residents live in Greater Pittsburgh (2.37 million) in the southwest. Pennsylvania's three largest cities are Philadelphia (1.6 million), Pittsburgh (302,971), and Allentown (125,845). Other major cities include Erie, Reading, Bethlehem, and Scranton. The state capital is Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania's geography is highly diverse: the Appalachian Mountains run through its center, while the Allegheny and Pocono Mountains span much of the northeast; close to 60% of the state is forested. While it has only of waterfront along Lake Erie and the Delaware River, Pennsylvania has more navigable rivers than any other state, including the Delaware, Ohio, and Pine Creek.

Pennsylvania was one of the thirteen British colonies that would eventually form the United States. It was founded in 1681 through royal land grant to William Penn, son of the state's namesake; the southeast portion was once part of the colony of New Sweden. Established as a haven for religious and political tolerance, the Province of Pennsylvania was noteworthy for its relatively peaceful relations with native tribes, innovative government system, and religious pluralism. Pennsylvania's governing framework inspired the U.S. Constitution, which, along with the Declaration of Independence, was drafted in Independence Hall in Philadelphia; the city also hosted the first and second Constitutional Convention that led the American Revolution. Pennsylvania became the second state (after Delaware, which had previously been a part of Pennsylvania as the three lower counties) to ratify the Constitution on December 12, 1787.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Indigenous settlement

Pennsylvania's history of human habitation extends to thousands of years before the foundation of the colonial Province of Pennsylvania in 1681. Archaeologists generally believe that the first settlement of the Americas occurred at least 15,000 years ago during the last glacial period, though it is unclear when humans first entered the area known as Pennsylvania. There is an open debate in the archaeological community regarding when the ancestors of Native Americans expanded across the two continents down to the tip of South America, with possibilities ranging between 30,000 and 10,500 years ago. The Meadowcroft Rockshelter contains the earliest known signs of human activity in Pennsylvania, and perhaps all of North America,[2] as it contains the remains of a civilization that existed over 10,000 years ago and possibly pre-dated the Clovis culture. By 1000 C.E., in contrast to their nomadic hunter-gatherer ancestors, the native population of Pennsylvania had developed agricultural techniques and a mixed food economy.

By the time that European colonization of the Americas began, several Native American tribes inhabited the region.[3] The Lenape spoke an Algonquian language, and inhabited an area known as the Lenapehoking, which was mostly made up of the state of New Jersey, but incorporated a lot of surrounding area, including eastern Pennsylvania. Their territory ended somewhere between the Delaware River and Susquehanna rivers within the state bounds. The Susquehannock spoke an Iroquoian language and held a region spanning from New York to West Virginia, that went from the area surrounding the Susquehanna River all the way to the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers (about level with modern-day Pittsburgh). European disease and constant warfare with several neighbors and groups of Europeans weakened these tribes, and they were grossly outpaced financially as the Hurons and Iroquois blocked them from proceeding into Ohio during the Beaver Wars. As they lost numbers and land, they abandoned much of their western territory and moved closer to the Susquehanna River and the Iroquois and Mohawk to the north. Northwest of the Allegheny River was the Iroquoian Petun, known mostly for their vast Tobacco plantations, although this is believed to be complete fabrication. They were fragmented into three groups during the Beaver Wars—the Petun of New York, the Wyandot of Ohio and the Tiontatecaga of the Kanawha River in southern West Virginia. South of the Allegheny River was, allegedly, a nation existed known as the Calicua. They may have been the same as the Monongahela Culture and very little is known about them, except that they were probably a Siouan culture. Archaeological sites from this time in this region are scarce and the very few historical sources even mention them—most of these sources only coming from those who met Calicua traders further east on the Allegheny River.

17th century

The Dutch and the English each claimed both sides of the Delaware River as part of their colonial lands in America. The Dutch were the first to take possession.[4]

By June 3, 1631, the Dutch had begun settling the Delmarva Peninsula by establishing the Zwaanendael Colony on the site of present-day Lewes, Delaware. In 1638, Sweden established the New Sweden Colony, in the region of Fort Christina, on the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware. New Sweden claimed and, for the most part, controlled the lower Delaware River region (parts of present-day Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) but settled few colonists there.

On March 12, 1664, King Charles II of England gave James, Duke of York a grant that incorporated all lands included in the original Virginia Company of Plymouth Grant plus other lands. This grant was in conflict with the Dutch claim for New Netherland, which included parts of today's Pennsylvania.

On June 24, 1664, the Duke of York sold the portion of his large grant that included present-day New Jersey to John Berkeley and George Carteret for a proprietary colony. The land was not yet in British possession, but the sale boxed in the portion of New Netherland on the West side of the Delaware River. The British conquest of New Netherland began on August 29, 1664, when New Amsterdam was coerced to surrender while facing cannons on British ships in New York Harbor. This conquest continued, and was completed in October 1664, when the British captured Fort Casimir in what today is New Castle, Delaware.

The Peace of Breda between England, France and the Netherlands confirmed the English conquest on July 21, 1667, although there were temporary reversions.

On September 12, 1672, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the Dutch re-conquered New York Colony/New Amsterdam, establishing three County Courts, which went on to become original Counties in present-day Delaware and Pennsylvania. The one that later transferred to Pennsylvania was Upland. This was partially reversed on February 9, 1674, when the Treaty of Westminster ended the Third Anglo-Dutch War, and reverted all political situations to the status quo ante bellum. The British retained the Dutch Counties with their Dutch names. By June 11, 1674, New York reasserted control over the outlying colonies, including Upland, but the names started to be changed to British names by November 11, 1674. Upland was partitioned on November 12, 1674, producing the general outline of the current border between Pennsylvania and Delaware.

On February 28, 1681, Charles II granted a land charter to William Penn to repay a debt of £16,000 (around £2,100,000 in 2008, adjusting for retail inflation) owed to William's father, Admiral William Penn. This was one of the largest land grants to an individual in history. Penn proposed that the land be called New Wales, but there were objections to that name, so he recommended Sylvania (from the Latin silva: "forest, woods"). The King named it Pennsylvania (literally "Penn's Woods") in honor of Admiral Penn. The younger Penn was embarrassed at this name, fearing that people would think he had named it after himself, but King Charles would not rename the grant. Penn established a government with two innovations that were much copied in the New World: the county commission and freedom of religious conviction.[5]

What had been Upland on what became the Pennsylvania side of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Border was renamed as Chester County when Pennsylvania instituted their colonial governments on March 4, 1681. The Quaker leader William Penn had signed a peace treaty with Tammany, leader of the Delaware tribe, beginning a long period of friendly relations between the Quakers and the Indians. Additional treaties between Quakers and other tribes followed. The treaty of William Penn was never violated.

18th century

Between 1730 and when it was shut down by Parliament with the Currency Act of 1764, the Pennsylvania Colony made its own paper money to account for the shortage of actual gold and silver. The paper money was called Colonial Scrip. The Colony issued "bills of credit", which were as good as gold or silver coins because of their legal tender status. Since they were issued by the government and not a banking institution, it was an interest-free proposition, largely defraying the expense of the government and therefore taxation of the people. It also promoted general employment and prosperity, since the Government used discretion and did not issue too much to inflate the currency. Benjamin Franklin had a hand in creating this currency, of which he said its utility was never to be disputed, and it also met with the "cautious approval" of Adam Smith.

James Smith wrote that in 1763, "the Indians again commenced hostilities, and were busily engaged in killing and scalping the frontier inhabitants in various parts of Pennsylvania." Further, "This state was then a Quaker government, and at the first of this war the frontiers received no assistance from the state." The ensuing hostilities became known as Pontiac's War.

After the Stamp Act Congress of 1765, Delegate John Dickinson of Philadelphia wrote the Declaration of Rights and Grievances. The Congress was the first meeting of the Thirteen Colonies, called at the request of the Massachusetts Assembly, but only nine colonies sent delegates. Dickinson then wrote Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, To the Inhabitants of the British Colonies, which were published in the Pennsylvania Chronicle between December 2, 1767, and February 15, 1768.

When the Founding Fathers of the United States convened in Philadelphia in 1774, 12 colonies sent representatives to the First Continental Congress. The Second Continental Congress, which also met in Philadelphia (in May 1775), drew up and signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, but when that city was captured by the British, the Continental Congress escaped westward, meeting at the Lancaster courthouse on Saturday, September 27, 1777, and then to York. There they and its primary author, John Dickinson, drew up the Articles of Confederation that formed 13 independent States into a new union. Later, the Constitution was written, and Philadelphia was once again chosen to be cradle to the new American Union. The Constitution was drafted and signed at the Pennsylvania State House, now known as Independence Hall, and the same building where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Pennsylvania became the second state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on December 12, 1787, five days after Delaware became the first. At the time it was the most ethnically and religiously diverse of the thirteen States. Because one-third of Pennsylvania's population spoke the German language, the Constitution was presented in German to include those citizens in the discussion. Reverend Frederick Muhlenberg acted as the chairman of the state's ratifying convention.

The University of Pennsylvania was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740, becoming one of the nine colonial colleges and the first college established in the state. Dickinson College of Carlisle was the first college founded after the States united.[6] Established in 1773, the college was ratified five days after the Treaty of Paris on September 9, 1783. The school was founded by Benjamin Rush and named after John Dickinson.

For half a century, the Pennsylvania General Assembly met at various places in the general Philadelphia area before starting to meet regularly in Independence Hall in downtown Philadelphia for 63 years. However, events such as the Paxton Boys massacres of 1763 had made the legislature aware of the need for a central capital. In 1799 the General Assembly moved to the Lancaster Courthouse,[7]

19th century

The General Assembly met in the old Dauphin County Court House until December 1821,[7] when the Federal-style "Hills Capitol" (named for Lancaster architect Stephen Hills) was constructed on a hilltop land grant of four acres set aside for a seat of state government in Harrisburg by the prescient, entrepreneurial son and namesake of John Harris, Sr., a Yorkshire native who had founded a trading post in 1705 and ferry on the east shore of the Susquehanna River. The Hills Capitol burned down on February 2, 1897, during a heavy snowstorm, presumably because of a faulty flue.[7]

The General Assembly met at a nearby Methodist Church until a new capitol could be built. Following an architectural selection contest that many alleged had been "rigged", Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb was charged with designing and building a replacement building; however, the legislature had little money to allocate to the project, and a roughly finished, somewhat industrial building dubbed the Cobb Capitol was completed. The General Assembly refused to occupy the building. Political and popular indignation in 1901 prompted a second contest that was restricted to Pennsylvania architects, and Joseph Miller Huston of Philadelphia was chosen to design the present Pennsylvania State Capitol that incorporated Cobb's building into magnificent public work, finished and dedicated in 1907.[7]

James Buchanan, a native of Franklin County, served as the 15th U.S. president and was the first president to be born in Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg — the major turning point of the American Civil War — took place near Gettysburg in July 1863. An estimated 350,000 Pennsylvanians served in the Union Army forces including 8,600 African American military volunteers.

The politics of Pennsylvania were for decades dominated by the financially conservative, Republican-aligned Cameron machine, established by U.S. senator Simon Cameron, later a United States Secretary of War under President Abraham Lincoln. Control of the machine was subsequently passed on to Cameron's son J. Donald Cameron, whose ineffectiveness resulted in a transfer of power to the more shrewd Matthew Quay, and finally to Boies Penrose.

The era after the American Civil War, known as the Gilded Age, saw the continued rise of industry in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania was home to some of the largest steel companies in the world, as Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie Steel Company and Charles M. Schwab founded the Bethlehem Steel. Other titans of industry, such as John D. Rockefeller and Jay Gould, also operated in the state. In the latter half of the 19th century, the U.S. oil industry was born in western Pennsylvania, which supplied the vast majority of kerosene for years thereafter. As the Pennsylvanian oil rush developed, the oil boom towns, such as Titusville, rose and fell. Coal mining was also a major industry in the state. In 1903, Milton S. Hershey began construction on a chocolate factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania; The Hershey Company would become the largest chocolate manufacturer in North America. The Heinz Company was also founded during this period. These huge companies exercised a large influence on the politics of Pennsylvania; as Henry Demarest Lloyd put it, oil baron John D. Rockefeller "had done everything with the Pennsylvania legislature except refine it". Pennsylvania created a Department of Highways and engaged in a vast program of road-building, while railroads continued to see heavy usage.

The growth of industry eventually provided middle-class incomes to working-class households, after the development of labor unions helped them gain living wages. However, the rise of unions led to a rise of union busting, with several private police forces springing up.[8] Pennsylvania was the location of the first documented organized strike in North America, and Pennsylvania experienced the Great Railroad Strike of 1877 and the Coal Strike of 1902. Eventually, the eight-hour day was adopted, and the "coal and iron police" were banned.

20th century

At the beginning of the 20th century, Pennsylvania's economy centered on steel production, logging, coal mining, textile production and other forms of industrial manufacturing. A surge in immigration to the U.S. during the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided a steady flow of cheap labor for these industries, which often employed children and people who could not speak English from southern and eastern Europe. Thousands of Pennsylvanians volunteered during the Spanish–American War. Pennsylvania was an important industrial center in World War I, and the state provided over 300,000 soldiers for the military. On May 31, 1918, the Pittsburgh Agreement was signed in Pittsburgh to declare the formation of the independent state of Czechoslovakia with future Czechoslovak president Tomáš Masaryk.

In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge established the Allegheny National Forest under the authority of the Weeks Act of 1911. The forest is located in the northwest part of the state in Elk, Forest, McKean, and Warren Counties for the purposes of timber production and watershed protection in the Allegheny River basin. The Allegheny is the state's only national forest. Pennsylvania manufactured 6.6 percent of total United States military armaments produced during World War II, ranking sixth among the 48 states. The Philadelphia Naval Yard served as an important naval base, and Pennsylvania produced important military leaders such as George C. Marshall, Hap Arnold, Jacob Devers, and Carl Spaatz. During the war, over one million Pennsylvanians served in the armed forces, and more Medals of Honor were awarded to Pennsylvanians than to individuals from any other state.

The Three Mile Island accident was the most significant nuclear accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history. The state was hard-hit by the decline and restructuring of the steel industry and other heavy industries during the late 20th century. With job losses came heavy population losses, especially in the state's largest cities. Pittsburgh lost its place among the top ten most populous cities in the United States by 1950, while Philadelphia dropped to being the fifth and later sixth largest city after decades of being within the top three.

After 1990, as information-based industries became more important in the economy, state and local governments put more resources into the old, well-established public library system. Some localities, however, used new state funding to cut local taxes. New ethnic groups, especially Hispanics and Latinos, began entering the state to fill low skill jobs in agriculture and service industries. For example, in Chester County, Mexican immigrants brought the Spanish language, increased Catholicism, high birth rates and cuisine when they were hired to as agricultural laborers; in some rural localities they made up half the population. Meanwhile, Stateside Puerto Ricans built a large community in the state's third largest city, Allentown. They comprised over 40% of the city's population by 2000.

21st century

With the end of mining and the downturn of manufacturing, the state had turned to service industries. Pittsburgh's concentration of universities has enabled it to be a leader in technology and healthcare. Similarly, Philadelphia has a concentration of university expertise. Healthcare, retail, transportation, and tourism are some of the state's growing industries of the postindustrial era. As in the rest of the nation, most residential population growth has occurred in suburban rather than central city areas, although both major cities have had significant revitalization in their downtown areas. Philadelphia anchors the seventh-largest metropolitan area in the country, while Pittsburgh is the center of the twenty-seventh largest metro area in the country. The growth of the Lehigh Valley has made it one of the seventy most populous metro areas in the country, while Pennsylvania also has six other metro areas among the top 200 most populous American metro areas. Philadelphia forms part of the Northeast megalopolis and is associated with the Northeastern United States, while Pittsburgh is part of the Great Lakes Megalopolis and is often associated with the Midwestern United States and the Rust Belt.

On September 11, 2001, during the terrorist attacks on the United States, the small town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania received worldwide attention after United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Stonycreek Township, north of the town, killing all 40 civilians and four al-Qaeda hijackers on board. The hijackers had intended to fly the plane to Washington, D.C. and crash it into either the Capitol or the White House. However, after learning from family members via airphone of the earlier attacks on the World Trade Center, the passengers on board revolted against the hijackers and fought for control of the plane, causing it to crash. It was the only one of the four aircraft hijacked that day that never reached its intended target and the heroism of the passengers has been commemorated.

Within the first half of 2003, the annual Tekko commences in Pittsburgh.

In October 2018, the Tree of Life – Or L'Simcha Congregation experienced the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.


1681Charles II of England grants a land charter to William PennSource:Wikipedia
1776Pennsylvania is one of thirteen colonies to revolt against British rule in the American RevolutionSource:Wikipedia
1787Pennsylvania becomes 2nd state to ratify United States Constitution and gain statehoodSource:Wikipedia
1790Pennsylvania's first censusSource:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
1863Battle of Gettysburg and Gettysburg AddressSource:Wikipedia

Population History

source: Source:Population of States and Counties of the United States: 1790-1990
Census Year Population
1790* 434,373
1800 602,365
1810 810,091
1820 1,049,458
1830 1,348,233
1840 1,724,033
1850 2,311,786
1860 2,906,215
1870 3,521,951
1880 4,282,891
1890 5,258,113
1900 6,302,115
1910 7,665,111
1920 8,720,017
1930 9,631,350
1940 9,900,180
1950 10,498,012
1960 11,319,366
1970 11,793,909
1980 11,863,895
1990 11,881,643
Image:Pennsylvania Population from US Census.jpg

*Note: Pennsylvania was one of the 13 original States. In 1792 the "Erie Triangle" in the northwest corner of the state was acquired from New York in order to give Pennsylvania access to Lake Erie. At the same time Pennsylvania transfered a similarly sized narrow strip of land in its northeast corner to New York. These changes established the boundaries close to its current configuration. In 1790 census coverage for Pennsylvania did not include the population in the Erie Triangle, but did include the population in the area later transferred to New York.

Research Tips

Births, Marriages, and Deaths has a variety of collections available for free online:

Philadelphia databases are also available on FamilySearch:

For Pittsburgh, see:

Research Guides

See Pennsylvania References for Genealogy for a a partial bibliography of references of interest for genealogy in Pennsylvania.

Outstanding guide to Pennsylvania family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.

See PA State Archives for a list of microfilm available from State archives, for various counties

See Pennsylvania Land Records for a discussion of land warrants and patents.

External Links

Mid Monongahela Valley History and Genealogy:
Counties of the Mid Mon Valley: Allegheny, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland. Scroll down for the Chester County Archives Index. A lot of good information here: Area History ~ Bibles ~ Bios ~ Cemetery ~ Tombtone Images ~ Census ~ Church ~ Court ~ Directories ~ Family History ~ Immigration ~ Land ~ Maps ~ Military ~ News ~ Obituaries ~ School ~ Tax ~ Vitals ~ Wills

Chester County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project: Excellent site; wealth of information!

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