Pre-History: Before the White Man Came

As the climate moderated after the ice age, great forests grew in North America from the Atlantic coast to Ohio.  Dense stands of gigantic trees covered the land, except in swamps and open areas where fires had created meadows.  They were called climax forests.  There were enough meadows and lowland swamps to create the forage needed by herbivores, such as deer, elk, bison, rabbits and upland game birds like the ruffed grouse and woodcock.  The trees also provided food and cover for squirrels and birds of every variety.  It was a paradise for man.  He came from Asia.

Anthropological research has shown that the first native Americans crossed an ice bridge (or possibly a land bridge) near the end of the last ice age, about 30,000 to 40,000 years ago.  Their migrations were probably induced by a search for game at the southern edges of glaciers as they melted and created habitable zones conducive to animals.  As they reached North America, they spread out to the East and South to occupy the entire continent and continued on to South America.  The migrations ended about 8,000 years ago when the glaciers receded and sea levels rose - a prehistoric global warming. 

These Indians, as they were later called by the first European explorers, were hunter/gatherers and to some degree agricultural.  They were very clannish and formed into distinct tribes to conquer and defend the new lands they found.  The first evidence of permanent habitation in Pennsylvania is over 5,000 years old.  These were the Monongahela culture, which, for unknown reasons disappeared by 1650.  They were replaced by the Algonquins, the Iroquois and the Shawnees, among others.  The Iroquois claimed Pennsylvania as their hunting grounds and warred often with other tribes that tried to establish a presence here.  There is no evidence that any of these tribes had permanent villages in our area.  However, the Shawnee were the most likely natives you might have the misfortune to run into on Allegheny Mountain.  Prior to the influx of Europeans in the 1750's, the Shawnees had a hunting village at the foot of the Mountain at a place called Shawnee Cabins near Schellsburg, PA.  The Bedford valley east of Folmont was known as the Shawnee's happy hunting ground.  As the white men moved in to the Allegheny Mountain area, the Shawnees moved further and further west, but not before creating much terror, death and destruction throughout the region.

Further study of Pennsylvania Indians can be done at this excellent website.