Sunday, April 16, 2017

Pennsylvania Place Names: Almost Counties

David Poyer, who is one of my favorite writers and a Pennsylvania native, wrote a series of novels about a fictional county in northwestern Pennsylvania. While his fictional Hemlock County does not really exist, the map of Pennsylvania would have had a different look had the bid for new counties been successful.

Some counties that almost existed, but did not make it through the Legislature, would appear again, but with a different name. Eagle County would be denied, but would be petitioned again and formed as Clinton. Even Clinton County’s neighbor Lycoming, was almost called Muncy County. Sinnemahoning County would be renamed in Honor of General James Potter while Fulton County was almost called Liberty. Union County was nearly named Buffalo and an early suggestion for Wyoming was Putnam County.

Penns County: One of the earliest failed bids to form a new county began in 1824. The desire was to form the new county out of the northern portion of Berks County, with the county seat being Kutztown. The attempt would renew in 1838 and the vote on the bill resulted in a tie and the county bid failed. There would be other unsuccessful attempts in 1847 and 1849 at creating  Penns County.

Windsor County: A proposal in 1838 wanted to create the county out of northern Berks and Southern Schuylkill Counties. The county would have taken its name from Windsor Township located in present-day Berks County. It was attempted again in 1850 without success.

Jackson County: The effort which was attempted in 1845 and again in 1849, would have been named in honor of President Jackson.

Madison County: The attempt to create Madison County happened in 1847 and was barely defeated in the Legislature. The attempt happened again in 1845 and 1855, but President Madison would not have a Pennsylvania County named after him. 

While I have not been able to determine the size that Jackson and Madison Counties would have covered, both wanted to use land that was a part of Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties. My guess is that these attempts were driven by the same people who used the different names to create their own county.

Conestoga County: An attempt in 1845 to create a county out of Berks, Lancaster and Chester Counties. The town of Churchtown would have been the county seat. The name would have come from Conestoga Creek which flows through the region.

Lee County: A final attempt to carve a new county out of Berks County happened in 1852 with Bernville as the county seat. The origin of the proposed name is unknown.

Anthracite County: The county (which was to be named after the coal mined there) would have been created out of Schuylkill and Luzerne Counties. The plan was set in motion in 1853, but seems to have failed early in its planning stages.

Marion County: The attempt to create this county was fueled by residents of Titusville who desired to have their community as a county seat. The first attempt was in 1858 and a second attempt occurred in 1870. The county would have been formed out of portions of Warren, Crawford and Erie Counties and would have been named in honor of General Francis Marion..

Quay County: In the 1890s there was an attempt to create a county named after Senator Matthew S. Quay. The county would have been created out of Schuylkill, Carbon and Luzerne Counties. The bill passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Daniel Hastings. Thankfully the county never came to be – in 1896 Senator Quay was charged with misappropriating state funds and was removed from office.

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