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History & Folklore
Cameron County

  • Formed: 1860 from McKean, Potter, Clinton and Elk counties.
  • Named for: Simon Cameron, a United States Senator for PA.
  • County seat: Emporium
    • An agent of the Holland Land Co. carved the word Emporium into a tree in 1785, but the village was originally known as Shippen for Edward Shippen who settled there in 1810. The name changed to Emporium in 1861, when it was selected as the county seat. Incorporated as a borough 13 Oct 1864.

Prior to
Check the surrounding counties for the formation of these townships. Gibson Township, in particular, has a complicated history.
Shippen: Original township formed from Shippen Twp, McKean Co.
Portage: Original township formed from Portage Twp, Potter Co. Potter Co. later named another township Potter to take the place of the one lost to Cameron. At one point Portage lost some land to Grove township, and in 1869 the whole southern end of the township was annexed by Lumber Township.
Lumber: Original township formed from part of Clinton Co. The township increased in size in 1867, when a portion of Shippen was annexed to Lumber. In 1869, the northern half of what is now Lumber was annexed from Portage township.
Gibson: Original township formed from Lawrence Twp, Clearfield Co. Named in honor of John Bannister Gibson. Gibson was an attorney and jurist who became one of the Supreme Court justices in 1814 and was appointed Chief Justice of the Commonwealth of PA in 1827.
Grove: Original township formed from Clinton County. The county line between Clinton and Cameron counties divided the old township of Grove (Clinton Co.), leaving a township named Grove in both counties.

Records Location

Records prior to 1795 will be found in Northumberland County.

  • Shippen Township: 1795–1804 Lycoming, 1804-1814* Centre, 1814-1824 McKean or Potter, 1824-1860 McKean
  • Portage Township: 1795-1814* Lycoming, 1814-1824 Potter or McKean, 1824-1860 Potter
  • Lumber and Grove townships: 1795-1839 Lycoming, 1839-1860 Clinton
  • Gibson Township: Historically, this township was part of Lycoming (1795), then Clearfield (1804), then Elk (1843); but records for residents of this township have been located in Centre County.

*Although McKean and Potter counties were formed in 1804, both were part of other counties for administrative purposes until the year 1814. McKean records were kept in Centre Co. and Potter records in Lycoming Co. In 1814, these counties were authorized to elect commissioners jointly until they were separated in 1824. It is not clear which county kept the records for these townships from 1814 to 1824.

Early Business and Occupations

  • Salt mining
  • Ginseng
  • Lumbering and its associated industries (mills, railroads, timber rafting, rafting, tanning)
  • Powder plants


See these sites for more information on Cameron County and its history, or to post queries regarding Cameron County genealogy: