Historical Society to Mark Bloody Knox Anniversary

KELLYTOWN – The Clearfield County Historical Society will mark the 150th anniversary of the Bloody Knox shootout at the reconstructed cabin site in Kellytown at 6 p.m. Dec. 12.

The cabin, which faces Route 453, is located nearly halfway between Madera and Curwensville in Knox Township.  The public is welcome to attend and take part in the program.

On the night of Dec. 12-13, 1864, Tom Adams, a local logger and army deserter was hosting a gathering of deserters at his log home, which stood on the present cabin site. The Lincoln Administration’s war policies were held as widely unpopular in that part of Clearfield County.

The then wilderness became a hideout for deserters and those who would resist the despised army draft.  Although many local men enlisted in the Union Army, a good number of north central Pennsylvania men deserted and many because of the dire poverty, which overtook their families while the war dragged on.  Families could not thrive with the long absence of their main breadwinners.

Events culminated as Federal Veteran Reserve troops were sent to the area to establish order and enforce draft and desertion laws.  These troops were stationed at the Union (Mud) Church in Philipsburg. They were informed of the deserter’s planned gathering and, with horses and a wagon, traveled by way of present day West Decatur, Morgan Run, Sanborn and across Clearfield Creek to Kellytown. They surrounded the cabin late on the night of Dec. 12.

Adams was alerted to the soldier’s raid and ran to the upstairs of the cabin. From there, he shot and killed young recruit, Private Edgar Reed.  Reed’s fellow soldiers, in a rage from seeing their comrade killed, in turn shot and killed Adams.  The 16 deserters inside were arrested and brought to Philipsburg for arraignment.

This tragic incident showed the apex of the bitterness and hate-filled violence that overtook parts of Clearfield County during the last two years of the Civil War.  It is a sad but significant event to memorialize, according to David Wulderk of the Clearfield County Historical Society.

The evening’s program will include a toast to the memory of all involved at Bloody Knox.  County Historical Society members, Denny Shaffner, John Warsing and others will appear as re-enactors in Civil War period uniforms.  Richard Hughes and Wulderk will give a detailed presentation, explaining the events of the night a century-and-a-half ago.  Light refreshments will be served and the cabin grounds will open for viewing.  Please dress appropriately for the weather.

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