Abraham Elder was born in 1754 in Path Valley, Franklin County, Pennsylvania to Robert Elder and Elizabeth Watt. He married Susannah Ardery, daughter of James and Sarah Ardery. Abraham Elder served in the American Revoultion in 1781 for Franklin and Cumberland counties. Abraham migrated to Centre County in 1784, and his family settled there in 1785. He built his house there, and lived in it until his death on July 7, 1827.

American Revolution

Abraham served during the American Revolution under Captain Noah Abraham's Company. He was in 2nd class, along with eight others (James Harvey, James Neiley, Daniel Colbert, Jno. Mears, Natt McCallah, Jno. Johnston, Robert Alexander, and Andrew Douwglass). On April 10, 1781, Abraham was listed under Captain Askey's Company of the Sixth Battlion of the Cumberland County Militia, there he is listed under Class 2. As of August 27, 1781, Abraham was a Class 2 Private.

Exporation of Centre County

Abraham Elder was the first settler in the year 1784, migrated from Franklin County, and located upon a tract of land now lying near the village of Stormstown, and owned by J.A. Hunter, who married one of Abraham Elder's graddaughters. Elder came probably to prospect more than anything else, for he came alone, considering, no doubt, that he had better get a taste of life in the woods before asking his family to share it. He found an abandoned cabin, the earlier temporary home of some hunter, and making it his abiding place for the summer, made a small clearing and put in crops of turnips and wheat, so that by the time his family came there would be something in the way of subsistence for them to start upon. Elder was a lonely tenant of an unbroken wilderness.

An Indian path marked the way through the woods, but other thoroughfares there were none. In the fall Elder returned to his family in Franklin County, reported the result of his mission, and announced that in the spring they would push forward to take possession of the new home in the woods, and make of it a permanent habitation. Accordingly, in the spring Elder and his family, together with his brother David and family, set out upon horseback (conveying also by that method their household effects) for Half-Moon valley. Upon his previous visit Elder had selected for his brother David a tractof land in Patton township. They went there for the purpose of preparing a home for David, but they had not begun when they received a visit from a fierce-looking Irishman, and from him the announcement that if they had come to stay they had better make up their minds to leave, for he lived, he said, only a mile removed (at the locality now known as Fillmore), and wanted no neighbors that near to him. There was some discussion as to the advisability of abandoning the location at the whim of an unpleasantly-disposed Irishman, but calm judgment suggested that the Irishman might be troublesome, and it was therefore thought best to leave him in peace. Elder found his old settlement undisturbed and his wheat crop promising. He put his familly into the old hut, and set about making it more comfortable. In a day or two David looked about for a site, and eventually settled upon the place later taken up by George Wilson. David did not take kindly to the situation, and after a not very satisfactory stay of a few years he moved into Huntingdon County.

Life in Centre County

Abraham Elder's stone mansion

Abraham Elder built a new home of logs, a better and larger home than the hunter's hut. Upon the same site he erected in 1808 a fine stone mansion, regarded in that day as an imposing structure. In 1832 his son Robert put on a stone addition, and as thus completed the house still stands. Abraham Elder was a man of energetic temperament and liberal enterprise. He put up on the run near his house a saw-mill, carried on a distillery, and erected a grist-mill in Bald Eagle valley, near Port Matilda, on the site of the Woodring saw-mill. He hauled his flour to Baltimore and brought back goods in exchange. When the road to Pittsburgh was opened, Elder established a tavern in his house, and kept also for sale a small stock of goods for the accommodaition of his neighbors and the traveling public. The tavern-stand, known far and near as "Elder's," was the first halting-place after leaving Bellefonte, and a place much patronized by freighter, haulers of iron, and other wayfarers. It was on the direct route from Bellefonte to Pittsburgh, and bore for a time much traffic, especially by reason of the transportation of iron from Centre County to Pittsburgh. Elder maintained the tavern-stand about twenty-five years. It was a favorite place for public meetings, general trainings, and similar gatherings, and rarely lacked for some enlivening incident. From his tavern Elder contructed a roadway over the Ridge into Bald Eagle valley, and by that route took in his supplies and held communication with his mill. Soon after coming to the valley he bought not only the land upon which he originally located in 1784, but the tracts later owned by P.B. Waddle and Elijah Chambers, on Buffalo Run. He used to say that when he settled in Half-Moon his nearest neighbor on the east was the unpleasant Irishman already alluded to, at what is now called Fillmore.

The first public religious meetings in Half-Moon valley were held at Mr. Elders' house; not long after he built his log cabin the Presbyterians of the valley used to gather there occasionally for worship. Mr. Elder filled considerable space in local history during his life in Half-Moon, and commanded high esteem as a man of more than ordinary prominence.

Abraham Elder's house was also the location that voters of Franklin and HalfMoon townships voted at, according to Section VII, Chapter MMCLVIII of The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania, posted January 7, 1801.


Abraham and Susannah's gravestone.

Abraham died in the old stone mansion on July 7, 1827, aged seventy-three. Susan Elder, wife of Abraham, died in Half-Moon township May 7, 1831, aged seventy-two. Her remains were placed in a coffin with the body of her deceased husband, which was disinterred agreeably to a wish expressed before his decease, and conveyed to the Presbyterian churchyard on Spruce Creek. Abraham and Susan are buried in Graysville Cemetery in Franklinville, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.


Offspring of Abraham Elder and Susannah Ardery (1759-1831)
Name Birth Death Joined with
James Elder (-1854)
Elizabeth Elder (1788-aft1850) 1788 Halfmoon Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania, United States 9999 Worth Township, Centre County, Pennsylvania, United States Michael Brown (1780-bef1850)
Robert Elder (1785-1871) 1785 (Pennsylvania) 1871 (Pennsylvania) Esther Wilson (1788-?)


  1. 1790 United States Federal Census, , Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
  2. 1800 United States Federal Census, Warriors Mark, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.
  3. 1810 United States Federal Census, , Centre County, Pennsylvania.
  4. 1820 United States Federal Census, Half Moon, Centre County, Pennsylvania.
  5. Franklin County, Pennsylvania American Revolution soldiers
  6. History of Centre County, Pennsylvania, Page 308-9, Chapter LXXI. Half-Moon Township.
  7. The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania, Section VII, Chapter MMCLVIII. Dated January 7, 1801.
  8. Historic Buildings of Centre County, Pennsylvania: The Historic Registration Project of Centre County Library

Footnotes (including sources)