I couldn’t resist sharing with you some of the facts about one of the interesting relatives in the family tree of Mary Baxter Huffstutter, the wife of Ulrich Huffstutter.  Mary’s aunt was Rachel Brown the wife of Michael McGuire Jr. an early Indian trader, hunter and trapper on the frontier.  The McGuires lived near the Huffstutters both in Frederick Co MD and Huntingdon Co PA.  It was to Michael McGuire Jr that Ulrich Huffstutter sold his farm “Dyer’s Mill Forest  in Frederick County, Maryland  in 1782.  When the Huffstutters settled in Huntingdon Co it was near the McGuires.  Doubtless the early explorations of the frontier by Michael McGuire furnished first hand accounts  that influenced the Huffstutters in their move westward into Pennsylvania.

from The Benedictine Fathers in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, by the Rev. Modestus Wirtner, O.S.B. (1925), pages 11 and 12:

“The First Settlement on the Allegheny Mountains

“The history of Catholicity on the Allegheny Mountains begins with the first permanent settlement in Cambria County. Up to the year 1768 Frankstown, at the foot of the mountains was the last frontier settlement. Captain Michael McGuire, a hero of the Revolutionary War for Independence, was a noted trapper and hunter. Before the revolutionary struggle broke out, he was accustomed to start at intervals from his home in Taneytown, Md., and to make expeditions far into the interior of Pennsylvania.

“By a law of Pennsylvania, such as built a log house and cleared a few acres of land acquired a presumptive right to purchase at $5.00 per 100 acres. On one of his trips, about the year 1768, traveling up the Kittaning or Indian Trail, he crossed the Alleghenies and established his hunting camp near the present Chest Springs, on land later owned by Mr. Robert Sisk, then for over 20 years by Lawrence Sutton. This location is to be seen on an old draft of the country made as far back as 1793, which shows the exact location of “Captain McGuire’s Camp.” It is practically beyond all dispute that the Captain was, as Robert L. Johnston, the historian of early Cambria wrote, ‘The first white man who settled within the present bounds of Cambria County.’ Records, deeds, papers, etc., in the possession of his many descendants are more than sufficient to verify this statement.

“When the Land Office was opened Captain McGuire was among those who ‘took up’ land on which he subsequently planted the ‘McGuire Settlement.’ His first and for several years his only neighbors, were the settlers at Blair’s Mill, more than 12 miles away, with a dense, unbroken forest between.

“According to the Rev. Edwin Pierron, O.S.B., of Patton, John McGuire (who built the McGuire grist mill, about the year 1845, on the site which is now within the borough of Patton) in relating his reminiscences stated that his grandfather, Captain Michael McGuire, built a second log cabin near Ashville, which later became the homestead of Augustine Hott, Father Gallitzin’s hostler. No doubt the majestic oak trees at Loretto indicated better land, so he built, with the assistance of his nephew, Michael McGuire, a third cabin in 1784, at Loretto.

“The exact spot, chosen by him for a settlement was the valley just below the present town of Loretto to the east. In a short time a few log cabins were built, and these served for shelter and protection until more permanent structures could be erected. This land is now part of the tract owned by the Franciscan Brothers.

“Captain McGuire brought his family to McGuire’s settlement in the year 1788. In 1790 Luke McGuire, eldest son of the captain, took up his residence on the farm now owned and cultivated by his grandson, George Luke McGuire. He completed his house in 1794 and at present it still stands well preserved. Captain Richard McGuire the younger son of Captain Michael McGuire, was married in 1800, located and built in the vicinity of his brother.

“Taking advantage of the law, Captain Michael McGuire lost no time in providing for the church, for which his wonderful faith alone could have given him hopes, and took up 400 acres of land which he made over to Bishop John Carroll, who had been just consecrated, and returned to the United States. On this land Prince Gallitzin built the first church, used for divine services, between Lancaster, Pa., and St. Louis, Mo.

“The settlement founded by Captain McGuire attracted other pioneers to the Alleghenies, and he was soon followed by Cornelius McGuire, Richard Nagle, William Dodson, Richard Ashcraft, Michael Rager, James Alcorn and John Sturm. These were followed by others. John Trux, John Douglas, John Byrne, William Meloy and many others whose names together with the names of their descendants, are preserved in a Register of St. Michael’s Parish, Loretto. …

“In the summer of 1796 Father Gallitzin came here on a sick call. Mrs. John Burgoon, a protestant woman, was taken very ill (5), and begged so hard to see a Catholic priest, that Mrs. Luke O’Hara McGuire, a good Catholic neighbor and another lady set out on horseback through the wilderness of Conewago, 130 miles distant, to find a priest who would be able and willing to visit her. The message came to Father Smith, now revered as Father Gallitzin, who returned with them, and received the sick woman into the church. He said Mass in Luke McGuire’s log house, administered baptism to a number of children, and even to one or two adults, exhorted them to faith, prayer, courage and perseverance. After that he made several visits.

“In the beginning of 1799 there were ten or twelve families at the McGuire settlement, sometimes also called Clearfield, and also Allegheny. These people with those of Frankstown and Sinking Valley petitioned Rt. Rev. Bishop Carroll, D.D., to give them a resident priest. Father Gallitzin made this request his own and the Bishop cordially acceded to it. On March 1, 1799, Bishop Carroll appointed him pastor of Clearfield, Frankstown and Sinking Valley.”

Additional notes on Michael McGuire

In 1775, Michael McGuire, joined the Continental Army. He served as a captain directly under General George Washington. In 1787, he was awarded a land grant as payment for his service during the Revolutionary War. This meant he could claim all the land around which he could walk his horse from sunup to sundown. He had previously traveled through Central Pennsylvania and decided to stake his claim there.

At the time, he was co-owner of a tavern in Taneytown, Maryland. His partner, also a veteran, traded his land grant for Michael’s share of the tavern. Now Michael had two days in which to block out his territory. Naturally, he chose the time of the summer solstice! Upon taking possession, he became the first white man to inhabit that part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

This land is largely in what is now Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Captain Michael McGuire died in 1793, bequeathing one-third of his property to Bishop Carroll of Baltimore, to be held in trust for resident clergy. Part of it became the Borough of Loretto. In 1796, Rev. Demetrius Augustine Smith (the alias used by the Russian prince/priest, Demetrius A. Gallitzin) arrived at McGuire’s Settlement, as it was then known. He saw the potential of the area as a sanctuary for Catholics and invested $150,000 of his personal fortune in land adjoining that which Michael McGuire had given to Bishop Carroll.

It is mainly because of McGuire’s largesse that Catholicism flourished in this region of the state, but Gallitzin’s legend of trading princely robes for priestly ones gets more attention. The town of Loretto has been under church control for centuries. It once included St. Francis Seminary, which was sold to the federal government when vocations to the priesthood faltered. It still boasts Prince Gallitzin’s Chapel House (historic site), the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, St. Francis University, and the Carmelite Monastery (strangely named, since it houses nuns). Retired Franciscans live at the former estate of Charles M. Schwab, steel magnate.

Prince Gallitzin is much revered locally. Presently, he is under consideration by the Vatican for canonization. The small town of Gallitzin was, of course, named in his honor.


  1. I would like to know on how. the date, November 21 1717 came to be the date Captain Mike was born? I’m doing the research on my side of the family. I also have Thomas McGuire. side of the tree. Any information you may have would be helpful . Thank You .

    • Hello Stephen,
      Thank you for your interest in the McGuire family. The simple answer to your question is the exact birth date for Captain Michael McGuire is uncertain. The reason for this is discussed in the note attached to Captain Michael’s birth date on the page concerning him [I3033] located on The Huffstutter Family website.
      A McGuire researcher, Brenda Wallace, discussed the origin of the date November 21,1717. She said: “Many researchers have given his birth date as 1717. This is based on an entry in Souvenir of Loretto Centenary published in October 1899. Actually there are three entries for Captain Michael McGuire in this book. I would like to compare these with each other and with other known references.

      The first entry in the Souvenir is on page 31. This gives the complete transcription of the headstone of Captain Michael standing in the cemetery in 1899. “Here lie The Mortal Remains of Captain Michael M’Guire. Departed this Life Nov. 17, 1793. He manifested his zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls by bestowing this land for the benefit of the resident clergy. May He Rest in Peace. Amen. Erected by A. J. McGuire, of Baltimore, and R. Scanlan, of Loretto, 1856.”

      The second entry is in the Register of Deaths of St. Michael’s Parish,Loretto, PA. The note at the beginning of the list says the information was gathered from many sources, primarily from headstones. On page 187 there is a list of all the McGuires buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery in Loretto, Cambria Co., Pennsylvania. In the birth column of Captain Michael’s entry we find 1717, however there is no indication as to where this information came from.

      On page 201 begins a list of some of the transcriptions in the cemetery at St. Michael’s. This listing has stones and pairs of stones separated by a line, seemingly indicating stones which are beside each other are listed in one group. Most of the groupings are husbands and wives. The other groupings appear to be relatives. The entry for Michael is ‘Capt. Michael McGuire. Born 1717. Died Nov. 17, 1793. Aged 76 years.’ Coupled with this is the entry ‘Michael McGuire. Born 1742. Died May 1, 1818.Ages 76 years.’

      The first entry is easy to verify. It is written in a box using the apparent layout on the actual stone. Also the current stone is an exact replica of that 1856 stone and the wording matches exactly.

      The second entry is unverifiable. The note itself says the information came from many sources, but not which ones.

      The third entry is the most damaging. If we compare this entry with the transcription given in the first entry we notice several differences in the transcription. First is the spelling of the name McGuire vs. M’Guire. Second is the addition of a birth date and an age at death. Now let’s look at the stone coupled with Captain Michael. The death date given for this Michael is the same death date as Rachel, wife of Captain Michael. Also the age at death matches the age of Rachel as recorded in the McGuire family Bible. I can only conclude that the entry on page 201 is in error. It is in error as to the entry about the second Michael who is obviously Rachel. It is in error on both stones about birth dates, as neither appears on the actual stones in the cemetery.

      My final conclusion is: We do not know when Captain Michael McGuire was born. No birth date or age at death is available. Therefore using legal records we MIGHT conclude that Michael was born between 1740 and 1750. He enters his first land in 1761 probably at age 21. He marries in 1766 probably in his mid twenties. He travels to the frontier in 1786 as a middle aged man and dies in 1793 as a middle aged man.”

      In light of your concern and after reviewing Ms. Wallace’s observations I am removing the 1717 date for Michael McGuire from The Huffstutter Family website. Thank you for bringing the discrepancy to our attention. We like to keep our records as accurate as possible.

      Good Luck with your research.

      Connie Graves

  2. I believe that the year 1742 of Michael McGuire was the cousin of Captain Michael McGuire. which tells me Michael McGuire Sr. had a brothe? I’m looking fot more information on this.

    • I don’t have a lot of McGuire info, just as it pertains to the connection through the Brown and Baxter families with the Huffstutters.

  3. i am descended from the granddaughter of captain micheal mcguire -louisa gaines mcguire tabor.she was married to isaac tabor whose daughter nancy married john bush. their daughter mary elizabeth married john hiram vaughn. their son william alfred vaughn was my paternal grandfather. his son noble vaughn was my father.we are from cambria,illinois.this is all so interesting to me.

    • Hello John,
      I am glad you were able to connect with this fascinating family and found the blog info on the McQuires useful. It is always interesting to see where the descendants went to and Illinois seems to be a logical path from Pennsylvania. Thank you for sharing your family lineage and of course if you would like to share any family stories or anecdotes we would be more than happy to add them to our family records.
      Best Regards,
      Connie Graves

  4. Richard Nagle, early settler at McGuires Settlement, mentioned in your very detailed article is my G/G/G/G Grandfather. His son Jacob, buried in St. Aloysius Cresson, had a son Jacob, who is buried in St. Augustine Cemtery. Jacob II had a son Augustine, who is buried in St. Marys Cemetery Altoona. Augustine’s son Herman C. Nagle, my grandfather is buried in Calvary Cemetery and my Father, Cyril is buried also in Calvary Cemetery, Altoona. Also,Mrs. John Burgoon, mentioned in your article is my G/G/G/G Grandmother. Susanne Barlow married John N. Burgoon Sr. in 1770. Susanne was a Methodist/ Roman Catholic convert who summoned Fr. Gallitzin from Conewago. The Burgoons, daughter Eliza Providence Burgoon, born in 1785 married Daniel Delozier, who is buried at Hart’s Sleeping Place. Daniel and Eliza Delozier had a son, Francis Delozier, who is buried in St. Johns Cemetery, Altoona. They had a daughter, Mary Amelia Delozier who married my Great Grandfather, Augustine Nagle. Augustine and his wife Mary Amelia are both buried in St. Marys Cemetery, Altoona. Their son, Herman C. Nagle was my grandfather, who is buried in Calvary Cemetery Altoona.

    • Hi Herman,
      Thanks so much for adding to the information on the McGuire Settlement and your ancestors contributions to it. Your family details help to broaden the picture of the history of the area and will provide vital information for other researchers.
      Best Regards,

      • Connie: Your summary of information about Capt. Michael McGuire has him constructing his first structure in the area of Chest Springs and later building a log cabin in the Ashville area which became the homestead of Augustine Hott, Father Gallitzin’s hostler or caretaker for his horses or mules. Then in 1784 with the help of his nephew, Michael McGuire, a third cabin was constructed at Loretto. In the next paragraph it states that, Luke McGuire, eldest son of the Captain took up his residence on the family farm and by 1794 he completed his house and at present it still stands, well preserved. Does anyone know where this well preserved house stands today? I often get asked, where the exact location is for McGuire’s Settlement and can’t give anyone a positive answer. Anything you can tell me would be appreciated.

        • Connie: I believe I found the answer to my above question as to the location of the house built in 1794 by Luke McGuire. On the “Find A Grave Website” under the name of Luke McGuire it says the house was about 1/2 mile east of Loretto, on the road leading to the town of Gallitzin. This point was not far from the original cabin and is distinguished as being the location of the oldest house now standing in Cambria County. This information was written in 1899 so the property has been standing another 117 years. I will visit this location and see if I can locate any structure that appears to be that old.

          • Well now, that is exciting news. Have you tried to contact the person who made the entry for Luke McGuire on Find A Grave to see it they know more? Perhaps there is someone locally acquainted with the area who could point out the site. If possible, could you send us a photo of the area?

  5. Hello,

    I believe i’m a relative of CPT Michael Mcguire. My father’s, mother was Romaine McGuire from Altoona, PA

    • Hi Catherine,

      So glad you wrote us on St Patrick’s Day! That was very apropo considering your McGuire connection. They are such an interesting family I know you enjoy researching them. You must have inherited the “luck of the Irish” to have such a rich family history.

      Thanks so much for writing and good luck with your research.


  6. My name is Deb Frey. I live in Perry County, PA. I am a direct descent of Michael McGuire. He is my how many great Grandfather. I grew up hear about hoe he came over from what is now Northern Ireland. My uncle has done the family history. My uncle was unable to find any records of him in Northern Ireland as the British burned the church and all of the records in it. They also destroyed the McGuire family strong hold over there.

  7. I am a descendent of John Byrne and Ann Byrne and thier daughter Eleanor Byrne MCGuire who married Captain Richard Mcguire.on my maternal side. On my paternal side, I descend from John and Ann Byrne’s youngest son John Byrne Jr who married Mary Ann Bender daughter of Emericus. My great grandparents were third cousins. I have been researching the Byrne family along with Bender, Bradley, Weakland, McGuire andf Eckenrode for years. Have you seen any information on John Byrne in your research? Always looking for new information.

  8. HI love to hear all of the information given by your history and the followers.
    My great grandmother was: Mary Ellen McGuire. Her parents were Mark McGuire and Jane Delaney. Wondering if there is any information on the family folklore about a bible and a church fire. My grandmother years ago had a McGuire family bible( lineage was written in the front of the bible )in her possession. This bible was given to her by her Mother Mary Ellen McGuire. As the story goes my grandmother lent this bible to a church for display (in Loretta maybe or Altoona) When they went back to the church at some time later the bible was gone.The priest gave her a old bible but it was not the original bible. So there was talk that there was a bible and it got saved or unsure if it was stolen. More just and interesting story.

    • What an interesting story. Who knows maybe the bible will turn up one of these days. It might be gathering dust on a library shelf somewhere.

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