Freedom, Pennsylvania

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Freedom is a borough in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States, along the Ohio River 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Pittsburgh. In the early years of the twentieth century, the chief industries were the production of oil, caskets, and monuments. In 1900, 1,783 people lived in Freedom; in 1910, 3,060 people lived there. The population was 1,763 at the 2000 census.

Contents

History

In 1824, the Harmony Society returned to Pennsylvania, from Indiana. The society settled in what is now Ambridge, Pennsylvania, five miles (8 km) up the Ohio River. One of the reasons the society left Indiana was because of harassment for their abolitionist activities. Their settlement was in Beaver County along the Ohio River. There they founded "├ľkonomie," now better known as Old Economy Village. Here the Society gained worldwide recognition for its religious devotion and economic prosperity.

The Harmonites were abolitionists, and began placing signs along the Ohio River with one word, "FREEDOM". The Harmonites selected this location because the river curves at this point. The river is actually flowing North, so runaway slaves from the South would be traveling up the river. The FREEDOM sign on the river bank was to let runaway slaves know that they had reached freedom (and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania). If the runaway slaves were still in Illinois, Indiana, or Ohio, then slave hunters from Kentucky or Virginia could legally cross the river and capture them. Once in Pennsylvania, the slaves were free.

The area of present day Freedom, Pennsylvania, began to be called "Freedom" on maps of the Ohio River used by the steam boat navigators.

Establishment

The community of Freedom was founded in 1832 by Jonathan Betz and Stephen Phillips, co-owners of a steamboat building business. They purchased about 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land for $2,000.00 from General Abner Lacock. The original village was surveyed and plotted by Simon Meredith. All of the lots, streets and alleys were located with special preference to the steam-boat building business, the only business at the time. Later, an additional 39 acres (160,000 m2) were purchased from Captain William Vicary for $2,500.00. Vicary himself retained some property in the area, including a stone house; today, the house remains a local landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]

About 150 people first located in Freedom and it grew rapidly. The town was laid out on a Tuesday and by the following Saturday, fourteen houses had been built.

In 1833, Freedom contained 40 dwellings, 47 families, and about 320 people. Boat building and distilling were its two main businesses.

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