Genealogy of the Woodcock Valley

Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania


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Forum Home > Woodcock Valley > H. B. Brumbaugh Talks about Woodcock Valley

Deb (Fisher) Riley
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Posts: 69

Dee Howard sent me a link to this write-up about the Woodcock Valley. It was originally posted to a message board by Wayne Webb from an 1887 issue of the Gospel Messenger. It was written by Elder H. B. Brumbaugh. I am also going to post it to the Blog and add the link to the internet site below. Happy Reading!



This is a narrow belt of land located between Terrace and Tauras mountains, and, though narrow, is noted for its good farms, good farmers and good people. Why it received this name we are not prepared to say with authority. Some of the old citizens tell us that at one time there were a great many birds in the valley of this name, and because of their abundance the valley was so called. Whether or not this is the true story, we are not able to vouch for, but such seems to border on a possibility, at least.

The name, however, is quite ancient, and dates away back of the birth of Webster's Unabridged, in a time when words were not columned by the thousands, as they now are, and at a time when given names for boys were so few that a father of a large family, rather than cast a life-long reproach on his offspring, called his sons John, John Henry, John John, etc., in order that he might get around, and each one have a respectable name.

But our first presentation is likely the correct one, as we have many other valleys with equally odd names; such as Trough Creek, Canoe, Half-Moon, Sinking, Hare's, Smith's, Black Log, Germany, Big, Juniata, etc., all named after some local feature of the different localities, and are generally expressive, when the circumstances connected with the naming are known.

A long time ago, when these valleys were made to echo from side to side the war songs of the red man, ancient Brumbaugh, being of the first generation born on this side of the deep, located in this valley. To him were born sons and daughters, four of the sons, Daniel, Samuel, George and David, concluded to live in the land of their birth, and among their own people. However, after the red man leased his claims, smoked the pipe of peace, and hied his possessions westward, two of the more daring ones, Samuel and Daniel, called for their portion and struck towards the setting of the sun. They pitched their tents in the Miami Valley, Ohio. After being there a short time, they concluded that it was too poor a place to live, and again turned their faces towards the place of their birth; they all lived and died in Woodcock Valley.

Of course, this will not be accepted as a reflection on the present condition of things in the Miami Valley, as circumstances have greatly changed there, and to the present inhabitants our Woodcock Valley, with its hills, would present no attractions whatever. Another of the Brumbaugh family, Henry, located near Dayton, and of his offspring there is quite a number in the Valley at this time. Another of the brothers belonging to the older part of the family, Conrad, settled near where Canton, Ohio, now is, and of his offspring there are quite a number residing in the neighborhood. But as it is not our present intention of writing a record of the Brumbaugh family, we wi!l drop this part and continue on the line on which we started.

The four brothers referred to were all members of the Tunker church. George, our grandfather, lived at the old Brumbaugh homestead within a short distance of where the James Creek church now stands-was a minister and elder. David lived in the old stone mansion just above the village of Markleysbnrg, about a mile from where we are writing. Daniel lived further west, near where the village of Coffee Run is now located, and Samuel still farther west, near Stonerstown.

These were all representative men, physically, morally and spiritually, and from their descendants, or the descendants of this family, the Clover Creek, James Creek and Huntingdon churches are largely represented, all following, religiously, in the footsteps of the fathers.

We are now in the valley, on a visit to father, and the family with which he lives, David, the second son, and walked out to a place where we have before us a view of the old Brumbaugh homestead, the graveyard, where sleep many loved ones, and the James Creek church, where, in former days, we often assembled for worship and praise. It was a sight of these familiar scenes that awakened in us the thoughts that we have so hastily penciled, under the large walnut whose great branches are gently waving over us, by the evening breeze that is receding from the setting sun. With a glance of memory backward, we take in the scenes of decades, and are impressed with the changes that time has made. In our boyhood we are standing at the gate-down the lane are coming grandfather and grandmother-they are now here, and after a most cheerful greeting, they pass into the house. After awhile two more come, and two more, until the major part of the church is present. It

is Saturday evening-!

supper is over, and we are all together, hymns are sung, exhortations and prayers are made, and we go to bed, to be at meeting in the morning, for right here in our father's upper room, in our own home, the meeting for Sunday is held. How we enjoy these meetings-not large congregations, but a deep religious spirit prevails, and we are impressed. These sixteen-week meetings are continued, and years grow upon us. Our associates, with ourself, are converted to the religion of Christ, and we have a third edition of the Brethren church in Woodcock Valley, our fathers being the second, and our grandfathers the first, although it was then known as part of the Clover Creek church. During this decade we see a large ingathering, the James Creek church organized, a commodious church-house built, three ministers elected, and Sunday-schools introduced.

The thought that now impresses us is, What changes have taken place! Surely, things are not as they once were, and the question to comes us, Have these changes been for the better? Those who point back, say, No. Those who look forward, say, Yes. Who is it that says, No? The man that looks back-but there are no crabs in the church of Christ. "I press forward," is the Christian's watch-word. With increased possibilities come increased responsibilities.

We are now in the fourth church edition, and while we do not feel that we are better than were our fathers, we hope that our growth in effective church work has been, to some extent, commensurate with our advantages.

But the sun has fallen behind the western hills, darkness is gathering her shroud around us, and we must leave the sanctum that nature so beautifully has made. To the lovely spot we now bid adieu. And as you, dear reader, glance over these lines, we pray thee, pardon the stray thoughts you may find, and charge them to the strangeness of the circumstances under which they were written.

October 20, 2010 at 5:43 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 2

Thanks, Deb, for following through and posting the writing from Rev. Brumbaugh.  I just re-read the piece.  Didn't remember that so much of it focused on the Brumbaugh family and church.  Wish he had told us more about the valley, but it is a good historical record of the pioneer settlers of Woodcock Valley.


November 12, 2010 at 1:35 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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