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History & Folklore
McKean County

  • Formed: 26 March 1804 from Lycoming County. Fully organized in 1826.
  • Named for: Thomas McKean, a native of New London, Chester County. McKean practiced law in PA, signed the Declaration of Independence, was Chief Justice and Governor of Pennsylvania from 1779 to 1808.
  • County seat: Smethport
    • First settled and laid out in 1807 by John Bell, Thomas Smith and John C. Brevost. Named in honor of Amsterdam bankers Raymond and Theodore deSmeth. Smethport was incorporated as a borough on February 11, 1853.

Early Business and Occupations

  • Coal
  • Iron
  • Salt
  • Lumber (particularly ship spars)


  • Genealogy & Personal History of Northern Pennsylvania by John W. Jordan, 3 volumes, 1913
  • McKean, the Governor's County by Rufus B. Stone, 1926
  • Pioneer Outline History of Northwestern Pennsylvania by W. J. McKnight, 1905
  • History of the Bucktails by O. R. Howard Thomson and Wm. H. Rauch, 1906
  • Bucktailed Wildcats by Edwin A. Glover, Esq., 1960
  • A Story of the Sinnamahone by George W. Huntley, Jr., 1936


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