From The Book
A Collection
By James M. Swank
From pages 53-56
MARCH 11, 1899. REVISED IN 1910.
Page 53
     As all readers of Pennslvania history know, the early
settlers of William Penn's province were drawn from many
European countries. Before the granting of his famous
charter in 1681 emigrants from Sweden and Holland and a
few Finns and some English had made settlements on the
Delaware. After the charter had been granted England
and Wales sent large numbers of Quakers and a few Episco-
palians; the Continent sent still larger numbers of Luther-
ans and other Protestants and a few Roman catholics; Ire-
land and france also sent a few Roman Catholics, chiefly to
Philadelphia, and the North of Ireland sent many Scotch-
Irish Presbyterians. many Prosestants came from Germany,
France, Switzerland, and Holland. The French,Swiss, and
Dutch immigrants have been confounded with with the German
immigrants because they usually spoke their South German
dialect and were of similar religious convictions, and also
because they sailed from the same ports and settled in the
same localities as the more numerous Germans. They were
thus very naturally regarded as forming a part of the
great German wave of immigration to Pennslyvania in the
eighteenth century. Thousands of these French, Swiss, and
Dutch immigrants have left descendants who are known as
Pennslyvania Germans but who are not all Germans at all.
     Most of the French Protestants who emmigrated to Penn-
sylvania came originally from the provinces of Alsace, Lor-
raine, and Champagne, in Eastern France, although these
emigrants had for sometime previously, owing to religious
persecution at home, lived in more friendly German, Dutch,
and Swiss districts. These French Protestants were known
as Huguenots. Other Huguenots came from other provin-
ces in france, and these emigrated in large numbers to
Page 54
New York, South Carolina, and other colonies and provices
of the New World, in cluding Pennsylvania. Some Hugue-
nots had found an asylum in England and Ireland after the revolution
of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 before emi-
grating to this country.
     Among the Huguenot emigrats from Central France
to Pennsylvania in the early days were three brothers named
Royer. From one of these brothers came John Royer and
his descendants. The brothers settled in lancaster County.
The Rev. Mr. Stapleton, of Lewisburg, Union county, an
authority upon Huguenots emigration to Pennsylvania, says
that Sebastian Royer came to Lancaster county in 1721.
We next hear of the Royer family name during the Revolution,
when samuel Royer, the father of John Royer, above men-
tioned, was a commissary in the Revolutionary army. This
Samuel Royer had a brother named Sebastian. In Baird's
Huguenot Emmigration to America I find mention made of Noe
Royer, who emigrated to South carolina between 1681 and
1686. He was the granson of Sebastian Royer, a native of
Tours, the principal town in the province of Tourraine ,
in Central France. Noe himself was born in Tours.
His father's name was also Noe Royer.I mention his an-
cestry because of the coincidence in the name of his ances-
tor, Sebastian Royer, and that of the Lancaster immigrant
mentioned by Mr. Stapleton, and also of sebastian, the
brother of Samuel Royer. Samuel Royer's wife was Cath-
rine Laubshaw, a native of Switzerland. There are Royers
still living in Lancaster county.
     John Royer, the subject of this sketch, was born in
Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on November 22, 1778. We
first hear of him as a clerk at Chambers' Iron Works,
about four miles from Loudon, in Path valley, Franklin
county. These works embraced Mt. Pleasant furnace and
forge, which were built about 1783 by three brothers, Wil-
liam, Benjamin, and george Chambers. The works were
burned in 1843. In 1800 John Dunlap built Logan fur-
nance, near Bellefonte, in Centre county, and about 1805-6-7
John Royer and his brother-in-law, Andrew Boggs, operated
this furnace under lease from Mr. Dunlap, the firm name
being Boggs & Royer.
Page 55
     We next hear of Mr. Royer as the builder, between
1808 and 1810, of Cove forge, in Blair county, the Hunt-
ington county, Pennsylvania, on the Frankstown branch
of the Juniata river, about seventeen miles east of Holli-
daysburg. Mr. Royer carried on Cove forge for ten or
twelve years. In the spring or 1821 he moved from Cove
forge to Williamsburg, in Huntington county, and in the
same year he was the successful Whig canidate for the
lower branch of th Pennsylvania Legislature, defeating Da-
vid R. Porter, the Democratic canidate, also an ironmaster,
who at the time one of the owners of Sligo forge, on
Spruce creek, Huntington county, and who was elected Gov-
enor of Pennsylvania in 1838 and again in 1841, serving
six years. In 1823 Mr. Royer moved from Williamsburg to
a point on the Kiskiminitas river, to engage in the
manufacture of salt in the company with his brother-in-law,
Andrew Boggs, who had laid out the town of Saltsburg in
the winter of 1816-1817 and had given it its name.
     From the Kiskiminitas river Mr. Royer moved to Pitts-
burgh in the spring of 1826, where he opened an iron
warehouse. At the end of three years, in the fall of 1829,
the Pennsylvania Canal having been completed to Blairs-
ville, Mr Royer changed his residence to that place, where
he acted as the agent for the Pennsylvania and Ohio
Transportation Company, goods then being trans-shipped
at Blairsville and hauled over the northern turnpike to
Huntington, where they met the eastern division of the
canal. Some time in 1832 Mr. Royer moved to Saltsburg,
again engaging in the business of salt making, this time at
"Bogg's Works" about two miles east of Saltsburg, on the
Westmorland side of the Conemaugh river. In the spring
of 1834 Mr. Royer transferred his lease of the above named
salt works to George W. Swank and moved to Johnstown,
becoming the agent of the Pennsylvania and Ohio line of
boats and cars for the transportation of freight and pas-
sengers between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Portage
Railroad was opened for business in the spring of that
year. In this occupation, for which he was admirably
fitted, Mr. Royer spent the next eight or ten years, when ill-
Page 56
health compelled him to retire. He was succeeded by Wil-
liam I. Maclay. In the fall of 1838 Mr. Swank also moved
his family to Johnstown, where he died on May 29, 1856,
at the age of 46 years and a few weeks. He was born in
Westmoreland county in 1810 and was my father.
     Mr. Royer died at his residence on Washington street,
then called Canal street, east of Franklin street, on March
5, 1850, aged 71 years, three months, and thirteen days. His
popularity at Johnstown is attested by his election in 1841
as the Whig canidate for the lower house of the Legis-
lature from the didstrict composed of Somerset and Cam-
bria counties. Ill-health prevented him from being a can-
didate for re-election in 1842 and Major John Linton be-
came the Whig candidate and was elected.
     Mr. Royer was a man of more than ordinary ability.
His disposition was genial and his manners were courtly.
He was a gentleman of the old school. Mrs. Royer, whose
maiden name was Jane Boggs, also a native of Franklin
county, but of Scotch-Irish ancestry, survived her husband
many years, dying at Johnstown, at the home of her son-
in-law, Hon. Cyrus L. Pershing on October 28, 1869, aged 85
years and seven months. She was born on March 13, 1784.
The remaines of both Mr. and Mrs. Royer now rest in Grand
View cemetery. To Mr. and Mrs. Royer were born eleven
children, only two of whom are now living, Sarah Jane, who
became the wife of Robert Bingham, and Mary Letitia, who
married Hon. Cyrus L. Pershing. We give their names as
follows: Catherine, wife of Gen. Edward Hamilton, John
Boggs, Samuel J., Theodore, Elizabeth, wife of Dr. Charles
D. Pearson, Alfred, Nancy, wife of William L. Shryock,
Alexander, Sarah Jane, wife of Robert Bingham, Andrew
Francis, and Mary L., wife of Hon. Cyrus L. Pershing. On
Sunday, January 22, 1899, Alfred Royer, the last survivor
of John Royer's sons, died at the residence of his brother-
in-law, William L. Shryock, in Johnstown. Alfred Royer
told us that he was the captain of the first train of freight
cars that passed over the portage Railroad from Johnstown
to Hollidaysburg. This was in the spring of 1834. For
more than fifty years the name of Royer has been prom-
inent in the business and social life of Johnstown.