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Philipsburg's Early Years
Philipsburg, Pennsylvania traces its roots to late 1796 or early 1797, when Englishman Henry Philips ventured from Philadelphia to establish a town in the unbroken wilderness that was part of vast land holdings in Central Pennsylvania owned by John Leigh Philips and Brothers of Manchester, England.
Henry Philips initiated the enterprise of improving the place briefly known as “Mushannon Town. ” Upon the deaths of Henry in 1800 and his brother James in 1809, the expedition eventually fell to the youngest Philips brother, Hardman, who fled to America in 1811 as a fugitive after an affair of the heart ended in an ill-fated duel and his subsequent exile.
Philipsburg’s beginnings were, at times, fraught with difficulty stemming from several sources, starting with false advertising. George Shultz, who was born in Philipsburg in 1806 and wrote of his memories of the town, said he heard “ …our old folks saying that there was some terrible cursing and swearing done by some of [the first settlers], when they came here and found what kind of a trap they had been led into... They cursed with the most direful curses, for the deception they had practiced upon them. ”
The feudal attitude of the Philipsburg's ensuing namesake did not help the town in its infancy, nor did several industrial failures. Nevertheless, Philipsburg did survive and eventually thrived.