The Senecas were the first nation of the Iroquois confederation that lived in this area. About the middle of the 18th century, the Delaware Indians were forced west across the Allegheny Mountains and the Iroquois permitted them to settle in this area, known as the “the Great Pine Forest.” The nearest Indian village was on the present site of Punxsutawney.
There are various stories of how Sykesville got its name. Sykesville was first known as Shaffer City or Shaffer Town in honor of the first resident, Henry Shaffer. In 1883, the town was plotted out and lots were sold. Jacob Bilger Sykes was born June 9, 1852 and died May 7, 1916. He owned the upper end of what is now called Sykesville in 1884. Sometime in the early 1900s, Shaffer City became known as Sykesville.
The first settlers in this area included the following: Henry Shaffer, 1859; Henry Philippi, 1862; David Smith, 1874; J.B. Sykes, 1883; J.T. Rishel, 1883; G.A. Buhite, 1883; Dr. G.B. Hennigh, 1890.
In 1812, George, Michael, and Frederic Shaffer settled on Sandy Lick Creek. George settled near DuBois; Michael and Frederic settled further up the creek.
At the age of 21, Henry Shaffer (no relation to George, Michael, & Frederic) purchased two tracts of land, married Barbara Smith, and came to this area to clear his land in 1859. He purchased 2 tracks of land consisting of 118 and 135 acres for which he paid $2.50 per acre for one track and $3.00 per acre for the other.
In September 1907, forty-five lots ranging from $20 to $55 each were sold at public auction by the Sykesville Land Company. Sykesville became a borough early in 1907 with the first Borough election held on April 30, 1907. The first Town Council was organized May 8, 1907 with the following members: Burgess – J.E. Rishel; President of Council– C.C. Gadd; Secretary – A.L. Zimmerman; J.B. Sykes; Abram Fye; Earl Long; I.Z. Swanson; and James Shaffer.