Joseph McGiffin was born in County Down, Ireland, on 12 June 1806. He came to the United States with his parents in 1812, landing in Philadelphia. They first settled in Patterson,
New Jersey, then moved to Adams County, PA, and finally settled in Huntingdon County. In 1826, at the age of 20 years Joseph walked to Jefferson County and made his permanent
home in the area of Baxter.
In March of 1827, he started a subscription school in what is now Rose Township in a house built on land donated by Charles C.
Gaskill for the school purposes. This school was near the present day Old Jefferson Cemetery. In 1828, he moved his school to a house on the Robert Andrews farm in what is
now Clover Township and taught a 6 month term there. In 1829, he again moved his school, this time to a farm near Summerville, teaching there for 4 months. Then in 1830, his school was for
4 months and was located on the Anderson farm, west of Summerville.
He married Sarah Shields in 1830, and in 1831, they established a permanent home and farm in
Rose Township where they spent their married life raising their family. Their children included John, who lived on the family homestead, Silas who lived in Summerville, Mrs. John K. Moore of
Lake City in Elk County, and Sarar A. McGill, a resident of Baxter.
Joseph died on the family homestead on 5th of September 1905, and was buried in the Old
Jefferson Cemetery. His wife Sarah died in 1874, at the age of 68 years, and is buried in the same family plot.