William Danford (Demetrius) Hurd
Posted By: David Ladely (email)
Date: 1/19/2011 at 21:47:49
William Danforth Hurd
William Danforth Hurd was born on June 5, 1822, most likely near Frome, in Somerset County, England. According to his grandson, Lambert Hurd, William Hurd lived in Frome, near Bath, England, and started work in a coal mine at the age of 6, setting candles on the hats of the miners and later working as a miner himself. Lambert wrote in a letter to an Englishman that his grandfather's father sought work in Wales, finding a job at "Nautgigie."
Frome was one of the boroughs created by the Great Reform Act of 1832, as the town was at that point one of the bigger towns in England which was not already represented, and its then-flourishing woollen manufacturing industry made it seem likely to grow further. The new borough consisted only of the town of Frome, and had a population (according to the 1831 census) of approximately 11,240. The registered electorate at the 1832 election was 322. Frome was near to Longleat, and the Marquess of Bath was influential in election outcomes throughout its life as a borough.
However, the town did not increase dramatically in size in the next few years, and the electorate was still only just over 400 by 1865, although the extension of the franchise at the 1868 election trebled this. By the time of the Third Reform Act, Frome was too small to continue as a constituency in itself and the borough was abolished with effect from the 1885 election.
Lambert said his grandfather had two brothers, one of whom emigrated to Australia and the third to parts unknown. Records show that a John Hurd, laborer, left Bristol for America at the age of 14 in 1775, arriving in the port of Phildelphia ["Passengers to America, Emigrants from England", pub. Broderbund Software, p363].
When William was about 20 years of age, he left England in June, 1842 to escape induction into the military, sailing out of the Bay of Bristol for Quebec, Canada, a voyage which took six weeks by sail.
From there, he went south to Pennsylvania, settling first near Pottsville, then in 1846 he moved to Huntingdon County, where he lived for a year, then he moved to Allegheny Township in what is now Cambria County in central Pennsylvania.
William was unlikely to undertake such an adventure at that age without someone, likely a close relative, to help him get started in life in America. (interestingly enough, Catholic church records of Central Pennsylvania list a possibility: the records show that Henricus Hurd was born in the Loretto area on September 16, 1822 and married Catherine Litzinger on November 12, 1851 in the same church as William married Lucinda McGuire only four years earlier. Henricus Hurd is likely related to William and may be a son of William's brother. These Hurds likely also moved to Iowa around the time that William and Lucinda left, so there should be records of other Hurds in Iowa.)
William met and married Lucinda McGuire, who was living at what was called "McGuire's Settlement," composed mostly of strong Catholics, about a mile west of present day Loretto, Pennsylvania. In 1850, William told census takers that he was a miner. William was known to be a man of considerable ability as a newspaper correspondent.
For a time, the Hurds ran a boarding house just west of Loretta, Pennsylvania, probably at the town of Gallitzin, for the men who worked on the first tunnel through the Allegheny Mountains. They set the table 24 hours a day for the shifts of workers. They also ran a store which was attached to the boarding house, where they sold such things as overalls to the miners. A village grew near the tunnel to serve the miners, which was later named Gallitzin in honor of Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin.
When the tunnel was finished, the workers took Martina through and she was the first woman through the tunnel. William Hurd's middle name is Danforth on all records in Pennsylvania, but his grandson says he knew William's middle name as Demetrius. William may have changed his middle name from Danford to Demetrius in honor of Father Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin, the priest who served the area's spiritual needs; Wiliam and Lucinda named two of their children after this respected priest, as did many other parishioners.
The Hurd family moved to Dayton Township, Iowa, arriving in 1857. They came by railroad to Iowa City, the end of the line, then hired 3 teams at $20.00 each to go the 45 miles, which left William with only one dollar to his name. At the time the Hurd family arrived in Dayton Township, there was no church. For religious services, the families in the area made the long trip by wagon to Holbrook. In May of 1961, William and Lucinda took their son Gallitzin to Holbrook to be baptized. A cemetery was established at what is known now as Armah, and the first church was built sometime between 1869 and 1872 and was known as St. Paul's Catholic church..
In 1875, a new Roman Catholic church, the largest in Dayton Township, replaced the out-grown church. The new church was known as St. Mary's then Immaculate Conception Catholic church.
The Hurd family attended these churches. It was while Father Bernard Flood was pastor of the church that a post office was established and given the name of Armah on January 28, 1895. The building also housed a store, a telephone office, and was the residence of the family in charge. The post office was discontinued in 1901. It is said that Fr. Flood suggested the name "Armagh" for the post office after the city by that name in his native land - Ireland- but when the papers came back from the government the name was spelled Armah.
Other Hurds and McGuires, as well as Wagners and Georges, who later intermarried and became relatives, soon arrived from Cambria County, Pennsylvania and settled nearby, attending the same Catholic Church. These transplants from Cambria county were zealous Christian Catholics who were very reluctant to leave their Catholic surroundings in Cambria county and bring their families to Dayton Township where there was no church and only infrequent visits by missionary priests.
Later, around 1886, William and Lucinda moved to Bertrand, Nebraska, where they died. William died on the 28th or 29th of Mary, 1895. They attended St. John's Catholic church in nearby Smithfield. They were buried at the Highland Union Cemetery, formerly known as Bertrand Cemetery, near Bertrand. Lambert Hurd visited the area and their graves about 1927.
(1) Catholic Vital Records of Central Pennsylvania, Vol. III,1850-1857,
Rev. Albert H. Ledoux, provided by Cambria County Historical
(2) 1850 US census of Allegheny Township, Cambria Co.,
Pennsylvania, p. 42
Much information also provided by:
Lambert Manning Hurd
3270 C Avenue, RR1
Keswick, Iowa 50136-2018
For information, comments, etc., contact Dave Ladely, 4012 3rd Ave. NW,
Seattle, WA 98107 and at the email address link above
Iowa Biographies maintained by Steve Williams.
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