Most local people in the southwestern part of Clearfield County can direct anyone to the small borough of LaJose, which lies along both state Route 36 and Chest Creek. Directing someone to Newburg might cause confusion.
Like Janesville, aka Smithmill Post Office, LaJose is a community that shares a name with its early post office. Historically, the original post office there was known as the Hurd Post Office.
It dated to 1842 and was named for an early settler, Henry Hurd. In 1887, the post office was named for George Jose, a Maine transplant, who operated a large lumber business that utilized the abundant supply of laborers and the natural flow of Chest Creek.
George Jose’s adopted community grew with the lumbering era in Clearfield County. The small supportive businesses and surrounding farms kept the small-scale economy of LaJose thriving enough in order to provide working families with the means of making a living.
Typically, LaJose supported a school and two denominational churches; Baptist and Methodist. The landmark LaJose Hotel still stands and is an operational enterprise to this day. It was erected during the same year, 1887, when the Pennsylvania Railroad extended it line to the borough.
Lumbering gave way to mining and LaJose’s lower creek side flat lands easily made rail transportation of coal and passengers to nearby Mahaffey and points beyond.
The 20th century brought telephones, electricity and paved roads. But the population never exceed more than a few hundred souls.
Ironically, the map shown in the photo makes no mention of George Jose. It is a segment of the 1866 Pomeroy Map Company’s Map of Clearfield County.
The map was the first comprehensive charting of mid-19th century Clearfield County. It is available online and is fascinating to view. Township lines have changed but many names in many locales remain the same.
The map predates George Jose’s arrival but early family names of Tozer and Hurd stand out. Twenty-four years after the first post office was put in place, Newburg/LaJose had grown, but still had a way to go.