Schellsburg, Pennsylvania

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Schellsburg is a borough in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 316 at the 2000 census.



Schellsburg is located at 40°2′55″N 78°38′38″W / 40.04861°N 78.64389°W / 40.04861; -78.64389 (40.048680, -78.643944)[1]. It lies at the south end of Chestnut Ridge.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 0.4 square miles (1.0 km²), all of it land.


Schellsburg was so named after John Schell who settled and founded this community. John Schell's grandfather Michael Schell, the progenitor of this branch of the Schell family in America, first arrived in Philadelphia from the Palatinate by way of Rotterdam in 1727, after which more family members arrived in 1732 and again in 1738. In 1732 when he returned with other members of his family, Michael Schell purchased a substantial tract of land where he settled with his family in the Perkiomen Valley northwest of Philadelphia, an area in Upper Hanover Township later known as East Greenville, in what was then Philadelphia County and became Montgomery County in 1760. The adjoining community of Hillegassville was named after its founder Johann Frederick Hillegass. His granddaughter Elizabeth Barbara Hillegass married John Schell, Jr., who was born in 1725 at the family homestead granted to his father John Schell, Sr., the youngest son of Michael Schell who died in 1770.

At an early age, John Schell, Jr. became possessed of considerable means after his patriotic service in the U.S. Revolutionary War and his father's death in 1777. For many years he traveled extensively on business through Bedford County, western Pennsylvania and Kentucky, which was admitted as a state in 1792. He was impressed by the climate and fertile soil in Kentucky, decided to remove there and select land to establish his own community for his family and friends. In the spring of 1800, John Schell and his family, consisting of his wife, eight young children and his widowed mother, left their home in Montgomery County and traveled west. When they arrived at the Ohio River, he realized that it would be unsafe for his family to traverse the river by boat due to the Indians. He returned through Napier Township in Bedford County and decided instead to settle in what is the present location of Schellsburg.

On May 1, 1800 John Schell purchased large tracts of land of more than 1,500 acres (6.1 km2), which were later divided into farms and given to each of his sons with an equivalent in money and land to his daughters. His own homestead was constructed on property located outside the town of Schellsburg. John Schell generously donated land for schools, churches and town lots and granted parcels to the town and its citizens. In 1808 he laid out the town lots, developed the community and provided impetus for construction of the nearby turnpike as its first president. After he settled in Bedford County, relatives and neighbors in Montgomery County followed and settled in the area and the immediate vicinity. Schellsburg was incorporated as the second borough of Bedford County in 1838. The town was designated an historic district in 2001 and included on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service, in recognition of the town's rich architectural heritage of buildings constructed of log and stone in the 19th century.

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