James Moorhead

James Moorhead

James Moorhead, b 23 Aug 1780 Waynesboro, Franklin Co., PA, d 9 Jan 1857 Indiana Co., PA, buried Oakland Cemetery, Indiana Co., PA; m. 20 Aug 1799 in Indiana Co., PA, Nancy Thompson Moorhead, b. abt 1780, d. 13 May 1856 Indiana Co., PA.

Alexander Thompson Moorhead Jr. wrote a book History of the Moorhead Family from the latter part of the Sixteenth Century to the Present Time, Compiled and Published by A.T. Moorhead [Alexander Thompson Moorhead, Jr.], Indiana, PA August 23, 1901.

James Moorhead Source also states on pg 15-16: For political service, he was appointed by Gov. Ritner one of the collectors of the Pennsylvania canal and returned from Ohio and located at Blairsville, serving in that capacity for three years, after which he returned to Indiana and established the first antislavery paper in the county, the Clarion of Freedom. It was a small sheet, but full of fire and did much awaken an interest in the cause of the oppressed. He was a prominent member of the "underground railroad" and traveled through western Pennsylvania and Ohio one year as a public speaker for the anti-slavery society that had its headquarters at New York city, making, according to his diary, 233 addresses during the year.

Info taken from the book History of Moorhead Family compiled and published by A.T. Moorhead, Indiana, PA August 23, 1901: In the year 1799, James Moorhead erected a home upon the tract of land given him by this father and on August 20 of the same year he married Miss Nancy Thompson, a daughter of the family to which reference has been made. There they lived, according to his own language, as happy as king and queen. They were born to them ten children -- Alexander Thompson, Polly Parks, Margaret, William. Nancy Riddle, James Washington, Robert Brown, John Milton, Charlotte and Lavina.

James Moorhead sold his farm in the year 1806, and moved to Indiana, where he erected a house used as a hotel, on Water street, which was the first building in the town covered with a shingle roof. He engaged in hotel-keeping and merchandising. Some years after this, he moved to a new town, near Blairsville, called Newport, where he also engaged in merchandising. The county seat being established at Indiana, Newport collapsed, and he moved to Armagh, engaging in the same business. He remained there but a short time, returning to Indiana, where he engaged in newspaper work, editing and publishing the American and Republican Gazette. James Moorhead was a man of more than ordinary attainments. He was a lover of nature, kind and affectionate a man of deep religious sentiment; one who could see God in the flower, and hear His voice in the forest. He saw God everywhere -- in the rock and rill. We find the following entered in his diary on his forty-fourth birthday: "When we came to this county, it was an almost uninhabited wilderness. And laboring under the various difficulties attending the first settlement of a new county I had but twenty-one days of schooling.

Being the eldest of a family, three of whom were girls and the youngest a boy, the care of them and the industry on a farm necessary for their support very much devolved upon me. We were obliged to attack and cultivate the woods, which required hard industry and but little time for the cultivation of the mind. I often felt a strong desire for education, but the place of dependence in which I was situated prevented me and it was impossible for me to obtain anything like a regular education. I am, therefore, a child of nature; but the book of nature and of God were open to my view. My imagination and affections pursued their natural course and were never restrained but by the sanetity of morality and religion."

Not withstanding the many privations and disadvantages surrounding James Moorhead, he embraced every opporunity for the improvement of his mind. He was a diligent student and a good Hebrew scholar, being desirous to read the bible in the original. He was the author and publisher of several literary works, and was the editor and publisher of five different newspapers: -- three in Indiana county, one in Mercer county and one in Ohio. He was editor and publisher of the first newspaper published in this county, the American, of which the Indiana Progress is a continuation. [This paper has remained in the possession of the Moorhead family the majority of time during the past eighty-eight years.] He was a political fighter and a forcible speaker, deciding all political and social questions by the bible, and opposing all secret, cath-bound societies. An anti-Masonic paper was published in this county by him in 1827-9, and afterwards in Mercer county, this state. After the Masonic party was defeated in Pennsylvania, he was induced to go to Ashtabula, O., to conduct a similar paper at that place, which was done most successfully.

He was a man of strong faith and confidently believed that American slavery would be abolished, and, when asked why so certain of this, replied, "Because it is contrary to the teaching of God's word." He observed strictly morning and evening devotions in his family, and a short time before his death made, this note on a blank page of the family bible: "have now read the bible through fifty-three times in family worship."

James Moorhead, died January 9, 1857, in his seventy-seventh year, thus ending a busy and eventful life.

Info from Indiana County 175th Anniversary by Clarence D. Stepehenson Vol. IV page 143 states: b Franklin Co., 8-23-1780, d 1-9-1857. Early IC publisher & literary figure. Abolitionist leader & underground railroad conductor. James began his literary endeavors as early as 1801 with Rationality in Love . . . published in Greensburg. In 1808 he wrote a poem which was included in a volume of poetry published in Pittsburgh. In 1825 Flowers of Song, a 129-page volume consisting of both poetry and prose, was published in Indiana and may have been the first book printed within IC.

Submitted by Karen Moorhead, great great great great granddaughter of James and Nancy Thompson Moorhead and great great granddaughter of Alexander Thompson Moorhead, Jr.


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