History of Brookville
Settlement in the Brookville area dates back to 1797 when Joseph Barnett brought his family to the place now called Port Barnett. Several years earlier Joseph, his brother Andrew, and his wife's brother Samuel Scott had arrived and with the help of nine Native Americans, built a mill. In 1804, Jefferson County was established from part of Lycoming County and initially included much of what we today know as Forest, Elk, and Jefferson Counties.

When Moses Knapp built a mill at the confluence of the North Fork and Sandy Lick creeks, he became the first known settler within the present borough limits.

Three commissioners appointed by the Legislature designated Brookville the county seat in 1830, and surveyors laid out the town in a grid pattern with most lots measuring 58' by 150'. Lots were sold for $30 to $300, and specific lots were reserved for public buildings and a burial ground.

Brookville's early growth can be attributed to its strategic location along the S&W toll road completed in 1822 from the Susquehanna River in Clearfield County northwest to Waterford in Erie County. The population grew to 276 by 1840, but when the Brookville Academy was built at the corner of Jefferson and Barnett Streets, much of the town was still a wilderness.

The Low Grade Division of the Allegheny Valley Railroad arrived in 1873 along with coal mining, and prospects soared for industrial and commercial development. Brookville had a number of diverse industries, most of which faded from the scene as new technologies developed during the late 19th and 20th centuries. These included a ladder factory, two breweries, a number of hotels, furniture and glass factories, several livery stables, carriage manufacturers, a woolen mill, and foundries. An axe factory produced 250 axes per day, and the Twyford Motor Company, which operated around 1905, produced at least six of the world's first 4-wheel drive automobiles.

During the 20th century, timbering, which had waned about 1900, once again became a major industry. I-80 crossed the county in the 1960s, and in 1983 Brookville was named a National Historic District becoming one of Pennsylvania's first Main Street Projects. Many of the exquisite buildings of more than a century ago have been preserved as one of America's Treasures.
bkv map.jpg


This project was developed by the Jefferson County History Center, in partnership with Historic Brookville Inc. and the Brookville Area Chamber of Commerce. Funding for this project has been provided through grants made possible by the Jefferson County Hotel Tax Committee, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pennsylvania Lumber Heritage Region, and Pennsylvania Great Outdoors