By Scott A. Yeager for GANT News
Approaching the Pennsylvania Wilds from the south on state Route 729, one passes through a rural community that represents the true spirit of the residents of both Clearfield County and our region.
Beccaria is surrounded by rising hills, lush fields flush with wildflowers and the air is alive with the songs of cardinals, chickadees and other welcoming creatures.
Small, yet very well-kept, homes dot the territory, many of which stand as silent reminders of the region’s early industries of timber, coal and agriculture.
Roughly 1,700 people call Beccaria Township their home. Good things are always found in small communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds.
Beccaria is not far from Prince Gallitzin State Park, a great place for hiking, fishing and camping.
Most travelers would pass through Beccaria without pause; the truth be told, there are several small communities in the Pennsylvania Wilds that become a mere row of tiny houses, as folks pass through en route to what are often viewed as more suitable tourist destinations.
Thomas Gray’s declaration holds some merit here – “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen.” Such are the treasures that we often overlook and take for granted.
Beccaria is an unusual name for a township and village; yet if we dig a bit deeper, the naming of such a place reflects something special about its people and about the region.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the Clearfield Creek flows south to north across the land.
Even the Ancient Egyptians had a great reverence for north flowing waters, they gathered a great deal of enlightenment from their musings near the mighty Nile.
The township was named after Cesare Beccaria, a social philosopher and thinker who made many viable contributions to Enlightenment thinking – the same thinking that gave birth to our great Nation.
According to Cesare Beccaria, “Happy is the Nation without a history.” In many respects, the Pennsylvania Wilds is a region of our country that is still in a process of becoming something more.
While our region has a rich history that reaches back beyond the founding of the United States, it warms the heart to encounter a community where its very name is still embodies that hope that initially gave birth to something greater than itself, a tract of land between two great oceans that became a place where human beings could thrive in freedom.
Ask any resident of the Pennsylvania Wilds what the value of freedom means to them, and you’ll need a seat.
Cesare Beccaria’s contributions to the Age of Enlightenment are legendary and still with us in 2019. Under social contract, Beccaria believed that if individuals were bound to society that society was bound to the individual.
For our communities to thrive, we must be respectful of one another, care for one another and our collective well-being. It has been often said that Americans may argue and disagree with one another; yet in times of National emergency, no force is stronger.
Before our Nation’s Second Amendment was written and adopted as a meaningful right that all people possessed, as well as their right to speak their minds, it was Cesare Beccaria who commented, “False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that it has no remedy for evils, except destruction.”
Sound familiar? Beccaria continues, “Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed person may be attacked with greater confidence than an unarmed person.”
Beccaria understood the value of keeping communities safe; above all, he recognized that there will always be more good people than those who are less than civil in polite society.
Amidst the rolling hills of the Pennsylvania Wilds, the tiny village of Beccaria stands as a gateway of sorts to an enlightened place where communities, where freedom, and where people matter.
The legacy of Cesare Beccaria is sewn into the character of the people and into the Pennsylvania Wilds. As you travel through southern Clearfield County, know this – you are free, you are welcome and our rural communities await your discovery.