Genealogy of the Woodcock Valley

Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania


Names From the Past

Posted on January 5, 2011 at 8:23 PM

Where did they come from, where did they go - these names from the past? 


I have been a Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness volunteer for Huntingdon County for a number of years.  Before my son was born, I used to devote every vacation day to scouring public records at the courthouse to try and help others.  Since the birth of my son, I only offer look-ups from my own personal library.  I have never felt very successful as a RAOGK volunteer, because I can never find the information people are looking for.  They always seem to be researching names that I know are not local to the area, but I search for them anyway.  They always seem to have a birth year when so and so was born in Huntingdon County. 


This week, I completed a search on the name Cartwright.  The individual in question was born in 1818 in Huntingdon County and married in 1837 in Ohio.  The requester was hoping parentage could be obtained from Huntingdon County.  After scouring published court records and Africa's History, I came up empty handed again.


I have often wondered, where did all of these obscure names come from, and where did they go?  What drew them to Huntingdon County in those early years that did not keep them here?  When I think of my own family roots from the Woodcock Valley, most migrated here from Maryland and for the most part never left.  What was different for all of these families for which their descendents are still searching frantically?


Huntingdon County was established in 1787 from part of Bedford and Cumberland Counties.  Are the records they are seeking still housed in one of the original counties?  I tell them to try those counties, but I just don't know the answer. 


I have a search option on this website, and Freefind sends me a weekly report of the search words.  It is amazing to see some of the names folks enter on this website; a lot of names I have never heard of associated with this county.  However, I'm sure they all have a scrap of information that mentions Huntingdon County, and they are hopeful...


I'm really curious about what drew early families to Huntingdon County, but then allowed them to move on.  Why did they lay-over in Huntingdon County?  If you have any thoughts, please share them! 

Categories: General Chatter

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Reply Lori Berkstresser Haam
3:58 PM on January 24, 2011 
A really interesting source for this type of information (at least for the year 1871) can be found by going to and searching for House of Representatives, Miscellaneous Documents, First Session, Forty Second Congress, Cessna V. Meyers Papers. There are hundreds of pages of depositions of men from this area, providing names, ages, occupations, political affilliations, relationships, prior and future residences, and other information taken under deposition in connection with a lawsuit by John Cessna (a relative) alleging voter fraud. Very nearly every man who voted in this election in Cessna's district was deposed, so it's a lengthy document, but you can search the document for specific names if you wish. Temporary workers are also listed, and why they were in the area.
Reply Deb (Fisher) Riley
1:46 PM on January 26, 2011 
Thanks, Lori. That is very interesting reading; too bad there is not an eariler version! I have tried posting a link to it, but I can't seem to make it work :(
Reply Esther Parsons
11:36 AM on February 3, 2011 
I love the thought of RAOGK. I am signing up in my county. :) Esther