Sinking Valley Family Tree Project
Devoted to farm and family histories in Tyrone Township, aka Sinking Valley, Blair County, PA.
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A Great Cloud of Witnesses
When my husband and I moved into the big house on the farm in 1979, we were the fourth generation to raise a family here. As we got settled in, I began to find evidence of past generations tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the house that was built in 1870. Particularly intriguing were the old photographs. Who were these people? Thus began a passion for genealogy and the history of Sinking Valley. From the beginning I was reminded of Hebrews 12:1. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…".
There were at least 43 early settlers who purchased land in Sinking Valley from William Penn’s heirs between 1787 and 1813. Some of them had arrived in the valley before the Revolutionary War. The early settlers came with different religious convictions. The families with surnames of Crawford, Murray (Morrow), Stewart, Dysart, Moore, and Wilson were Scotch Irish Presbyterians. They founded the Sinking Valley Presbyterian Church in 1790. Settlers with surnames of Fleck and Cressman were German Lutherans who formally organized a church in 1804. The McClain and the McMullen families were Catholic. They built a church in 1840 but it closed in 1916 when the remaining members joined the Catholic Church in Tyrone borough. A German Reformed church was organized in 1846 but disappeared in the early 1900’s. Regardless of the domination, their Christian faith endured through the hardships of settling on the frontier and reminds us to “... run with perseverance the race marked out for us”.
Marriages between these families and subsequent landowners resulted in a complicated web of relationships that can be a challenge for the modern researcher to sort out. The Sinking Valley Family Tree Project was started to connect the ever reaching branches of these family trees and to locate their original property in Sinking Valley. In future postings, I will be sharing some of my research with the readers of footnote.com.