In the summer of 1925, an eight-year-old boy was visiting in Mahaffey and decided to go fishing near the bridge that separates the east and west side of town.
Everett B. Pennington (1917-2004) was peering down into the water when he caught a glimpse of a gold piece. He retrieved it and found it to be a $5 gold coin dated 1851.
Pictured on the coin is a women’s head in the center with stars around the outer edge. The back of the coin shows 5 D, an eagle and the words United States of America.
The lad took the coin to The Mahaffey National Bank located about two blocks from the bridge. It was judged to be a counterfeit coin. The bank teller gave it back to him and advised him to never try to spend it.
Mr. Pennington was told at that time by a Mr. McGee of Mahaffey that a counterfeit gang had operated at one time in the Westover area.
When the law was starting to catch up with the gang, they dumped all their counterfeit coins into the Susquehanna River at Mahaffey. Mr. McGee was most likely James McGee, who operated a nearby meat market.
It is thought to have possibly been produced by the Loomis Gang. The group traveled through Clearfield County on their way up to Oswego, New York where they were eventually captured in 1880.
The Raftsman’s Journal newspaper also had an account of a counterfeiting operation when arrests were made in the Glen Hope and Cambria County areas.
It is hard to know for sure where the counterfeit coin originated and how it came to rest at the bed of Chest Creek. We do know that the coin now resides at the Clearfield County Historical Society.
Mr. Pennington presented the coin and his story on Oct. 16, 1991. Stop in to view this piece of county history at the Kerr House Museum.