Adam Noel and his wife Susan, a cousin of the Hurds, had settledPENNSYLVANIA TO IOWA
An excerpt by Dave Ladely Referred by Brian Cartwright
Lucinda McGuire was from “McGuire’s Settlement,”
now known as the borough of Loretto, located
in Allegheny Township of Cambria County, Pennsylvania (1), near the western foothills of the
Allegheny mountains, an area originally forested with prime stands of hardwood and pine.
The founder of McGuire’s settlement was Mike McGuire, born in Ireland, who had lived at Pipe
Creek, near Taney Town, not far from Baltimore Maryland. Mike McGuire was truly a
frontiersman, a goodsized, strong man who would go on fishing and hunting trips, wandering
into the hills of Pennsylvania on the Fourth Ridge of the Allegheny Mountains. He walked to
Conewago, the first Catholic settlement in Pennsylvania, stopped first in Petersburg, near
Huntingdon, and from there he explored the Allegheny mountains. He took a trail from there
called the Kittanning Trail, an Indian pathway, up the mountain, which was a wilderness, and
was the first white man to make it to the top of the mountain. The only people he met were
Indians. He traded with them as he hunted and fished. He built a hunting cabin not far from the
Kittanning Path in this northeastern section and was the first white man to settle in what is
now known as Cambria County, in 1768. About that time, the Land Office in Washington allowed
that anyone who wished to could buy land in the wilderness for $5.00 an acre, so Mike acquired
one hundred acres, built a log cabin, and called it McGuire’s Camp.
Michael McGuire later served in the Revolutionary War, rising to the rank of Captain, and
was there after known as Captain Mike McGuire. In 1788, following his service and to escape the
constant clashes on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border, he bought several hundred acres of land
about a mile east of the present borough of Loretto, and brought his family from Baltimore: his
wife Rachael Brown, two grown sons, Richard and Luke, a younger son, and four grown daughters.
Since much of the terrain was a mere footpath, too narrow for wagon and team, this was a
laborious 130 mile trip on horseback, with family, supplies, and household possessions. Richard
and Luke were athletic, like their father, and at once started to help build a bigger log house
for the family down the hill from the old one. So many began building around them that they
started calling it “McGuire’s Settlement” and called Captain Michael and his sons the “big
McGuires.” Eventually the sons built their own homes and were married.
In the course of a few years, several families, relatives of Captain McGuire,
located in the neighborhood, including Lucinda McGuire’s family. Captain Mike died on
November 17, 1793 at age 73, and his sons continued to improve the wilderness. Mr. Robert
Johnson, an early Cambria historian, wrote that Captain Michael was “the first white man, who
settled practically beyond any dispute within the present bounds of Cambria County, today known
as Loretto, Pennsylvania.” Gertrude McGuire Billetdeoux relates that “...while my [McGuire]
ancestors really did start and discover the Western side of the Allegheny Mountains, people
continued to come from far and near to McGuire’s Settlement. The crafts they knew gave work to
the settlers, so the population grew by leaps and bounds.”
In 1789, one year after Captain McGuire brought his family to Cambria County, in
1789, the Gailbraith Road, located several miles away, was opened over the Allegheny mountains,
providing travel by wagon for the westward bound settlers. During this year, more families
emigrated to this vicinity. By the following year, priests from eastern Pennsylvania
periodically visited this isolated and predominately Roman Catholic settlement on horseback,
conducting services in the settler’s log cabin homes as there were no Catholic churches in the
In 1796, Mrs. Luke McGuire (former Margaret O’Hara), only 20 years old, and a
companion took a long and dangerous journey on horseback to Conewago, near the Maryland
border, to see if a priest would come to minister to Mrs. John Burgoon, a Protestant who was
very sick and begged hard and repeatedly to see a priest. She met a priest, Father Demetrius
Augustine Gallitzin, who rode his horse up through the wilderness to the settlement to
minister to Mrs. Burgoon. Mrs. Burgoon became well; she lived to be converted and remained
faithful until her death (2)(4).
Father Gallitzin had been a young Russian prince who was sent to the United States in
1792 to go to school. He decided to be a priest, renounced his wealth, was ordained in 1795,
and never returned to Russia. This religious man first exercised his holy life in the
settlement of Conewago. As laboring in this part of the country became very monotonous, he
chose to concentrate his energies on a single locality - the wild, inhospitable region of the
Alleghenies. To build a spiritual empire here was the vision which dazzled before his mind. It
was while coming to these mountains with his followers that the “Gallitzin Spring” had its
Farther Gallitzin was quite taken with the people of the McGuire settlement and
decided to stay around after he found there was no Catholic church between Lancaster,
Pennsylvania and St. Louis, Missouri. While his mission extended from Huntingdon to Greensburg,
Father Gallitzin spent most of his time in the development of his favorite colony, the McGuire
settlement. He offered the first Mass at McGuire Settlement in Luke McGuire’s log house.(8)
Father Gallitzin returned to Baltimore and asked permission from Bishop Carroll to
stay at McGuire’s Settlement, with the view of forming a settlement for the benefit of
Catholics as most of whom where too poor to purchase land in the lower countries, but it was
four years before he could go back and build his church. In 1799, with a gift of forty acres
of land from Captain McGuire, Father Gallitzin obtained permission to return and establish a
church to provide for the spiritual needs of the Allegheny region settlers. In October,
bringing only basic altar furnishings and his meager possessions, Father Gallitzin (known then
as Father Smith) made the trip to the settlement by Conestoga wagon. With the help of
parishioners, who were scattered on farms through the forest, a rough-hewn log chapel was
constructed that fall. His mother in Russia sent him money and anything he wanted, but he gave
it all to the poor people who were trying to get started. There were a lot of McGuires there
by that time and they were very poor. The church was small and he had to build a larger one
soon after. Later a school for children was established.
A town was needed to meet the expanding needs of the parishioners, so he laid out the
village in 1815 on land he had acquired, naming the settlement “Loretto” for the Italian
coastal town of Loretto that he was very fond of, the location of a famous shrine, and named
streets for Catholic saints.(7) From here, Father Gallitzin devoted his life to the
spiritual needs of his parishioners in many widely scattered locations that are now established
communities, one of which, Gallitzin, is named after him, as is the township in which the town
is situated, immediately to the west of Allegheny township, in which the borough of Loretto
lies. The Hurds were married and baptized their children in St. Michael’s church in Loretto.
Many of his parishioners, including the Hurds, named their children after Father Gallitzin.
William and Lucinda named one of their sons Demetrius Hurd and another Sylvester Gallitzin Hurd
in honor of this priest, who died in 1840.
Growth of the village of Loretto continued with the location of other religious
establishments one of which is the present St. Francis College, founded by the Franciscans.
In 1897, Charles Michael Schwab, a former major figure in the Pittsburgh steel
industry who had grown up in Loretto, decided to give Loretto a gift with some of his fortune
by replacing the second log church that Father Gallitzin had built to replace his small chapel.
There were some carpenters in the McGuire family and they, including Edward Augustine McGuire,
great-great-grandson of Captain Mike, helped build the new church. Ed McGuire and Sushi Little
were the first to get married in the new church of St. Michael’s in Loretto.(8)
Charles Schwab added to the prosperity of the town when he created an extensive
real estate for a period of time, including an elaborate mansion in 1916, now being used by the
priests of the basilica and the college. The borough of Loretto was incorporated in 1845.
In 1996, Rome designated the cathedral of St. Michael’s a minor basilica, St. Michael the
Archangel Basilica, one of fifty in the United States.
While the Hurds lived in the area, a tunnel was bored for the first time through
nearby through Adirondacks for the railroad. In 1848-1849, The Pennsylvania Railroad laid out
and adapted the Sugar Gap Route, which was the beginning of Industrial development at the top
of the Alleghenies. The “Old Portage Railroad” was in operation for twenty years when it was
given up for the “New Portage Railroad, “which was built in 1853-1854. The first scheduled
train, carrying the railroad officials, passed through from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia on
February 14, 1854. Mr. Lenahan laid the keystone for the first tunnel.
In 1850, at a cost of one half million dollars, the E. Rutter & Sons firm was hired to
do the job. Using picks and shovels it took over three hundred men to complete the first
tunnel, known as the Portage Tunnel situated under Tunnel Hill. The Hurds ran a boardinghouse
for the tunnel workers there, keeping the table set 24 hours a day for the shifts of workers;
part of the boarding house was a store they ran, with supplies like clothes for the tunnel
workers and coal miners.(3) The second tunnel, which is the first of the “Twin Tunnels,” is
known as the Allegheny Tunnel and was finished in 1854. Some workers took Lucinda through the
tunnel, making her the first woman through the tunnel (3). The first of the “Twin Tunnels”
completed the railroad west, after passing around the horseshoe curve. This factor made the
tunnels so important that they were guarded by the Pennsylvania Railroad Police during the war
The village that grew up to serve the tunnel workers and miners was formerly a
settlement known as “Watt’s Town” because David Watt, presumably a trapper from Maine, had
such vast acres in a large tract of land secured from the government, likely in recognition of
great service in the Revolutionary War. Others soon followed him to form a small settlement.
The village was named Gallitzin after Father Gallitzin. A third tunnel, the second of the Twin
Tunnels and known as the Gallitzin Tunnel, was begun in 1902 and finished in 1904.
These tunnels are the highest and longest tunnels on what was once the Pennsylvania
Railroad. They are 3,605 feet long and at an elevation of 2, 167 feet. Railroad buffs have
identified the Gallitzin Tunnels a “must” stopover. It provided the visitor a glimpse of the
fascinating railroad “past and present.”
Beginning on June 20, 1994, through 1995, the Gallitzin Tunnel was stripped of its
tracks and the Allegheny Tunnel was made larger by lowering the track to give clearance for
the higher, double stack trailers now being used by the railroads. A second track was also
laid in the Allegheny Tunnel. There are now three tracks, one on the east-bound tracks and
two on the west bound tracks. The newer west-bound tunnel is close to a mile in length, cutting
through Tunnelhill, an elevation actually at the summit of the Allegheny Mountains.
Mining and railroading were the two chief occupations for the men of Gallitzin. In
1854, F. X. Christy opened the first coal-drift, now known as “Number Ten Mines.” The
“Vindicator” was the first newspaper, edited by James Killduff, a great labor leader among the
Adam Noel and his wife Susan, a cousin of the Hurds, had settled in Scott County
Iowa and bought land in the area of Dayton Township in Iowa County in 1855. In 1859, the
Noels, still in Scott County, conveyed 20 acres for a Catholic cemetery and church to the Right
Reverend Clement Smith, Bishop of Dubuque, Iowa, for a Catholic for the sum of $1.00. (9) The
cemetery was laid, but the church was not built until later. The Noels encouraged their
relatives and friends in Pennsylvania, including the Hurds, McGuires, and Wagners, to join them
in settling on this good farmland. Those in Pennsylvania were all strong Catholics living in
a close-knit Catholic community and were reluctant to come to Iowa because there was no
Catholic church in the area.(9)
Eventually the Hurds were persuaded to move to Iowa, arriving in Iowa City in 1857,
where they hired three teams at $20.00 per team to move them to their destination further west.
The Hurds had only $1.00 left when they arrived in Dayton Township.(10) They farmed north of
what is now known as Keswick. No Catholic church was in the area, so the family made the long
trip to Holbrook by wagon to attend religious services at St. Michael’s Catholic Church.(9)
They took their son Galitzen Hurd to St. Michael’s to be baptized.
The first church in Armah, St. Paul’s Church of Aurora, was built after 1869 and before
1873. The settlement was known as Aurora and didn’t become known as Armah until 1895. The
second church, St. Mary’s, replaced the first in 1875.
A third church, Immaculate Conception Church, replaced St. Mary’s in 1917.(9)
Lambert Hurd recalls that relatives of Lucinda McGuire moved to the same area of Iowa,
saying he remembers a cousin by the name of Bill McGuire and a man named McGuire from another
branch of the McGuire clan.
The elder Hurds later moved to Bertrand, Nebraska, not far from Lexington, with some
of their children (who moved back to Iowa after the death of their parents) where they spent
the rest of their days. They attended Catholic church and are buried in nearby Elwood as
there were no cemeteries in Bertrand at the time.
This researcher, David Ladely, was curious to know why his branch of the Ladelys
were strongly Catholic while the rest were primarily Methodist, if anything, as they were not
known to attend church regularly. When John Henry Ladely married Sarah Jane Hurd, he
converted to Catholicism and raised his children in the faith. He and Sarah are buried in the
Mt. Olive Catholic Cemetery in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His son Alvin, my grandfather, a devout
Catholic married Fannie Gill, a devoutly religious Protestant who converted to Catholicism;
they were strong supporters of their church in West Seattle and raised their sons in the faith.
They are buried in Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Seattle, Washington.
(1) “Bicentennial History of Loretto, Pennsylvania”; pub. Damin Printing Ebensburg, PA
and Cresson, PA library.
(2) “Wagner Family History”, provided by the Poweshiek County Historical Society,
(3) Information provided by Lambert Hurd.
(4) “World Family Tree” archives, CD#5, family tree #0643, Burgoon family portion of
Cherry Family History.
(5) “McGuire and Delaney Families”, provided by Cambria County Historical Society,
(6) Prince Gallitzin Chapel House, source: Holy Bible, Translation Latin Vulgate, THE
CLEMENTINE EDITION PHILADELPHIA, M.C.C.C.X.C. - November, 1748, provided by Cambria County
(7) “Loretto”, by A. C. Towner, no. 14, short history of town, provided by Cambria
County Historical Society.
(8) “The McGuires of Loretto,” by Gertrude McGuire Billetdeoux, in the Mt. Herald
news, issue of December 4, 1996, provided by the Cambria County Historical Society. (In a
conversation with this researcher, Ms. Billetdeoux, daughter of Ed McGuire, great-great
grandson of Captain Michael McGuire, said she was not familiar with Lucinda McGuire and
believed that Lucinda was from a different branch of the family.)
(9) “Armah Immaculate Conception Church and Cemetery,” by Mrs. William K. Wagner
(formerly Margaret M. Van Dee Kerkove), 1969; provided by Iowa County Historical Society,
Vignette No. 148, January 1991.
(10) Lambert Manning Hurd, 1997.
McGuire family history resources;
Cambria County Historical Society, 615 N. Central St., Ebensburg, PA 15931, 814)
472-6674, provided records on Loretto.
“Catholic Vital Records of Central Pennsylvania”, volumes II and III; published: Rev.
Albert H. Ledoux, 2329 Fourth St., Altoona, PA 16601
Loretto Historical Society
Frank Seymour, 101 St. Mary St., Loretto, PA 1940; (814) 472- 6279; history only, no
Blanche McGuire, 926 Cherry St., Pittsburgh, PA 15295; (412)921-4421; direct descendant
of Capt. Mike McGuire, researches both family and history of area, provided Catholic Records.
Charles A. Miller, 110 Webster Hill Rd, Cresson, PA 16630; (814)886-5437
Further information, comments, etc.,, please
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