David Long the wagon maker

When David Long died at the age of 82, he had been a respected citizen of Tyrone, Blair County, for over fifty years. After his adventure in the west as a young man, building bridges, he came back to Pennsylvania to marry a local girl, settle down, and start a family. But he enjoyed telling about his experience in the west for years afterward.

David was born in Franklin Forge, Huntingdon County, on November 13, 1849. He had a twin sister Sarah and at least ten other sisters and brothers (and one robust mother, Sarah Zeigler). His father John C. Long was a blacksmith, who probably worked in the iron forge at Franklin Forge. Sarah Zeigler’s father Barney was also a forgeman.

When David was eleven years old his family moved to Porter Township, Huntingdon County, across Tussey Mountain from Franklin Forge. His father took up farming there, close to the Huston family of the widow Mary and some of her children. Perhaps this is when David met Elizabeth. By 1870, when he was in his teens, David was apprenticed to a coach-maker, Joseph Piper. David lived with the Piper family in Alexandria, a small town on the road from Huntingdon to Tyrone, on the Juniata River. At the same time, in 1870, Elizabeth Huston, his future wife, was working as a servant in the household of George Hamer in Alexandria.

David was apparently not ready to settle down to a life building carriages. He headed west and spent some time as a carpenter building bridges in Kansas and Nebraska. He did not stay there, but came back to his family and to Elizabeth. They were married in 1882 at Huntingdon by a Methodist minister. They moved to Tyrone, where David built a house on South Lincoln Avenue and set up in business as a wagon maker. They started their family, with a daughter Mary Ella born in 1883 and a son John Warren born in 1887. They attended the Methodist Church. In 1892 Elizabeth’s mother Mary died; she was living with them at the time of her death. Around  1900 they took in a niece, Catherine Caldwell, the daughter of Elizabeth’s sister Mattie, who died in 1905. Catherine became a foster daughter for them, and probably lived with them until her marriage to Hubert Woodring.

When John was married, in 1913, David built an adjoining house for John and his family. David lived in the house down the hill, while John lived up the hill. They later swapped, since the lower house had more land for a garden (useful for John’s family of four sons).

By 1920 David worked as a mechanic, transferring his skills as automobiles supplanted horse drawn wagons in Tyrone. He was still in business for himself. In 1923 Elizabeth died suddenly of heart failure. David stayed in his house, eating most of his meals with John’s family. If he did not come down, they sent food up to him. He also stayed close to his sister Sarah, and spent several months with her before he died. (She never married and kept the Park House Inn at Alfarata Park, up the road from Alexandria.) David died in August 1932, and was buried with Elizabeth at Eastlawn Cemetery in Tyrone. His obituary called him a quiet, unassuming, home-loving man, who “took particular pride in relating his experiences” in the west.


David Long, born November 13, 1849, Franklin Forge, Blair County, married Mary Elizabeth Huston Oct. 24, 1882 at Huntingdon, died August 7, 1932, buried at Tyrone.

Mary Elizabeth Huston, born Oct. 20, 1851, Woodberry Township, Blair County, married David Long 1882, died May 25, 1923, buried at Tyrone.

Children of David and Mary Elizabeth:

Mary Ella Long, born Sept. 12, 1883 in Tyrone, married Emerson F. Wade on May 26, 1908 at Alfarata, died Oct 13, 1925 at Pottstown, Chester County. Had five sons with Emerson Wade.

John Warren Long, born July 11, 1887, married Ada LaPorte on Oct 30, 1913 in Philadelphia, worked as a clerk for the Pennsylvania Railroad, lived in Tyrone, died Aug 21, 1943. Had four sons with Ada LaPorte.

Catherine Elizabeth Caldwell (foster daughter), born May 18, 1900, in Wilmerding, Allegheny County, daughter of Samuel “Horace” and Mattie (Huston) Caldwell, married Hubert Woodring in 1919 in Cumberland, Maryland. Catherine apparently died young, between 1923 and 1932.



Recollections of Ada L. Long and Harry H. Long

Letter from John W. Long to Mary Ella Wade, June 26, 1923.

Family Bible of David Long.

Federal census records, 1870 to 1930.

Obituary of Mary Gray Huston, Tyrone Daily Herald, March 17, 1892.

Obituary of Elizabeth H. Long, on Ancestry.

Obituary of Sarah Elizabeth Long, 1940.

Obituary of David Long, on Ancestry.

Pennsylvania Department of Health death certificates.

Huntingdon County Marriages, Huntingdon County Historical Society

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