HISTORY OF MONTOUR COUNTY|
"The History of Columbia and Montour Counties"
History of Danville
History of Danville
HISTORY of COLUMBIA COUNTY (offsite)
"All this part of the State, including what is now Montour and Columbia Counties, was erected in 1772 into Augusta and Wyoming Townships, this immediate portion of the State, that portion east of Fishing creek was Augusta Township. In 1784 what is now Montour County was made Turbut Township; in 1786 Derry and Mahoning were erected, and these included not only all of what is now Montour County but extended into the territory of Columbia and Northumberland Counties. What is now Liberty and parts of Valley and Limestone Townships were made Madison Township in the latter part of the last century.
The name Turbut comes from Turbut FRANCIS, who according to the earliest records seems to have been the first party to purchase lands in what is now Montour County. He was a large land speculator and never lived in this part of the state.
All the townships now in the county were carved ultimately from Mahoning and Derry Townships. When the county was organized, in 1850, it contained Franklin, Mahoning, Valley, Liberty, Limestone, Derry, Anthony, Roaringcreek and a part of Montour, Hemlock and Madison. All that part of Madison in the new county was made a new township and called Madison, and that part of Hemlock and Montour was made Cooper Township. In 1853 the line of division of Montour and Columbia Counties was changed, and Roaringcreek, Franklin, Madison and Hemlock were transferred back to Columbia County; and the new township in Montour County became West Hemlock, taken from Hemlock Township, and the portion taken from Montour was made Cooper Township, and the part taken from Franklin became Mayberry Township. In other words, the final adjustment as we now have them, was fixed in 1853.
January 25, 1839, the people of Mahoning and Derry Townships prayed the county commissioners to lay off a new township, and on September 25 of that year Ezra HAYHURSH, Benjamin HAYHURST, George WILLET and Stephen BALDY were appointed to lay off a new township. Accordingly they proceeded to erect a new one and called it BALDY Township, now Valley Township, the name given it by the commissioners being retained only about eight years."
This was formed in 1849 and named in honor of Judge ANTHONY, who was at that time president judge of the courts in the district. Prior to this it was a part of Derry Township. It is connected with the earliest history of Montour County chiefly through the fact that the old Derry Church, in the division of that old township, fell to the territory of Anthony, and is now within its territorial limits. The first church meetings held here in the past century were under two white oak trees, and which are still standing, and in some respects are now associated in the minds of the descendants of these pioneer Christian men and women, after the manner of the Charter Oak tree of this State. For some years church meetings were held under the spreading branches of these two oak trees. In 1802 a little log church was put up a short distance below the site of the present church building. It had only a dirt floor, was covered with branches of trees and grass and leaves, and on the ground in the center of the structure was built a fire in extreme weather. This log house had a gallery (evidently a space-saving device) and the rough stairway to this was on the outside of the building. A high pulpit was on one side, and just below and in front of this was a boarded up box for the choir. Everything about it was of the olden time that has passed away. Its attendants were scattered over a wide extent of the country. They came from not only the present county boundary limits, but from what is now Columbia County, and from Northumberland, Luzerne and Lycoming Counties.
Among the prominent organizers of this first church were William McVICKAR and Thomas ADAMS; both were the first elders. The first Presbyterian minister who preached under the trees was Father DUNHAM, as he was universally called. The first regular pastor was Rev. John B. PATTERSON, who filled the place of pastor, father and friend to the little flock for forty-one years. He died in 1843 and was buried in the Derry Cemetery. He was followed by Rev. John H. RITTENHOUSE, who came from his native county, near Milton, to take charge. He, soon after being installed, commenced the agitation of the subject of a new building. The building was erected to the great joy of the minister and people. In 1852 he dropped dead while standing in front of the new church that the people were then assembling to hear him dedicate in Washingtonville. He was succeeded in the pastorate by Rev. John THOMAS, and he in turn by Rev. John JOHNSON, and he by the present pastor, Rev. G. A. MARR, who resides in Northumberland County. These were all the regular pastors of this church, but there were a number of supplies, some of whom filled the pulpit for a long periods. The present elders are Andrew BRITTAIN, W. S. POLLOCK, J. W. LOWREY and W. C. McVICKAR; the trustees: D. M. SHEEP, James RUSSELL, A. C. DILDINE. Present membership, seventy-five. W. C. McVICKAR is superintendent of the Sunday-school. The old historic church was torn down (which is now to be regretted) to be replaced by the present building, which was erected and dedicated in 1846.
Col. Robert CLARK, the eminent patriot and soldier of the Revolutionary war, came to what is now this township and settled in 1792. He won and wore his eagles in the front ranks in the war for independence. He was born in Dauphin County and there grew to manhood. He was present at the sighing of the Declaration of Independence. He purchased about 600 acres of land which is now the property of Charles MOWREY, just west of the McVICKAR farm. Col. CLARK's wife was Sallie HUTCHINSON. They both lie buried in the Derry graveyard. Their children, of whom there were seven, are all dead. Their son Robert came to what is now Montour County, with his parents, when but fourteen years old, in the year 1778. He married Jane WILSON, born in 1780. They had eight children. He died in June, 1868, and she died in 1863. They were also buried in Derry Cemetery.
White Hall - The first settler here was John FRUIT. He settled here in the latter part of the last century--some believe that it was in the year 1800. He was a native of Ireland. He opened a store-room in his dwelling soon after he came, and afterward put up a store-room; this he built on property now belonging to Henry C. MONROE. It was a small frame structure, and in it he kept the usual variety to be found in a country store. He sold the store in 1810 to John Frederick DERR who carried it on alone until 1841, when he sold an interest to William McBRIDE. Mr. DERR died in 1853, when Mr. McBRIDE continued to conduct the establishment until 1866 assisted by his son, J. S. McBRIDE, now the proprietor The stock was removed to the present brick structure in 1864. ELY & MOYER were merchants in this place at an early day. In 1841 Neal McCOY started a store which he carried on about six years. The place was called at that day "Fruitstown." The mail was carried by a circuitous route from Catawissa to this place. It was a pony mail, and the first mail boy on the route was Jacob DYER. This postoffice was established in 1820. The postmaster succeeding Mr. BIDDLE was John F. DERR. He remained in the office until 1855, when William McBRIDE became postmaster. The latter remained until 1862, and then John CRAWFORD was installed. He was succeeded by his son, G. W. CRAWFORD, and in turn he was succeeded by the present postmaster, J. S. McBRIDE.
Daniel DILDINE, an Irishman, opened the first blacksmith shop. He was one of the early settlers of the place. The first hotel or "entertainment for man and beast," was the Red House Hotel, by Andrew SCHOOLEY. It occupied the ground and house where the present brick store stands. The hotel was torn down to make room for the store building. David ELY succeeded Mr. SCHOOLEY in the hotel. The latter was succeeded by Ferdinand RITTER, a native of Berks County. Mr. RITTER built the present White Hall Hotel in 1818. It was rebuilt in 1849-50.
The White Hall Baptist Church was erected in 1858 at a cost of about $1,500. The most active parties in raising the money for the church were William McBRIDE, Effie DERR and A. HOLDEN. But they were liberally aided by all the residents in that vicinity. Andrew F. SHANAFELT was the first preacher. He made his residence in this vicinity. He removed from here to Old Chester where he died. The first officers of the church were William McBRIDE and George W. SUPLEE, deacons, and Aid HOLDEN and William McBRIDE, trustees. The present officers are John CREAMER and William McBRIDE. The Sunday-school superintendent is John CREAMER, and the attendance about fifty.
The first school here was taught in 1818 by John REA in a frame building on the site of the present schoolhouse. The building was torn down in 1841. The present one is a brick building.
The old historic Derry Presbyterian Church is situated about one mile from White Hall. The first church building was of nicely hewn pine logs. It was torn down late in "the forties" and the present frame structure was put up.
There is a Baptist Church in the place. A frame building near the village is also the Primitive Methodist Episcopal Church.
Among the old families of this village are the CAREYS. John CAREY, now residing there, was born in the place. He is over seventy-five years of age.
Exchange - St. James Episcopal Church is located here. The first regular pastor was Rev. Milton LIGHTNER. At first services were held in what was known as the Baptist schoolhouse. Mr. LIGHTNER's first visit to the place was to preach at the funeral of Stephen ELLIS--the first of that name to settle here and one of the early settlers in this township. The regular services began in 1843, and were held regularly. When Stephen ELLIS died he left a verbal will giving $200 toward the building of the church, "should there ever be a disposition to erect such a building." The erection of the church was commenced in 1848 on land purchased for that purpose. The corner-stone was laid by Bishop Alonzo POTTER, and that year it was completed and dedicated by the same bishop, assisted by Rev. Milton LIGHTNER and others. The prominent contributors were the estate of Stephen ELLIS, William ELLIS, Stephen ELLIS (son of Stephen ELLIS, deceased, and who now resides in Exchange), Catharine ELLIS and Jane, William, Isabella, Ellen and John C. ELLIS, and Milton LIGHTNER and Amos HEACOCK.
Rev. Milton LIGHTNER served the congregation about ten years, and was succeeded by Rev. Edwin LIGHTNER, who served the congregation from Danville. He was succeeded by Rev. ELSEGOOD, and the ministers in charge, in the order following were Revs. FURY, William PAGE, Albra WADLEIGH, Rollin H. BROWN, Abram P. BRUSH, Baldy LIGHTNER (son of the first of that name), Frank Duncan JADOW, Frank CANFIELD, William JOHNSON, David L. FLEMING, the present pastor, who is located in Muncy. The cost of the church building was over $1,300. The first officers were William ELLIS, Stephen ELLIS, John C. ELLIS and Amos HEACOCK, vestrymen; William ELLIS and Amos HEACOCK, wardens. The present officers are Charles REEDER, William ELLIS, John CALDWELL, John D. ELLIS, Robt. CALDWELL and Stephen C. ELLIS, vestrymen, and Charles REEDER, senior warden, and S. C. ELLIS, junior.
The present Exchange Hall and school was built in 1874, and opened to the public and as a school that year. It was erected at a cost of $1,300. The building committee was Stephen C. ELLIS, Patrick DENNIN and Dr. McHENRY. The first school-teacher in the building was Augustus TRUCKMILLER. This hall is occupied by the Odd Fellows and by the Patrons of Husbandry. The building is the property of twenty-eight stockholders, who joined together in its construction. The first school in Church Hill District, No. 6, was built in 1849. That building was torn down and the present house erected in 1870, in which Miss STINE is the teacher.
Walter JOHNSTON, father of William C. JOHNSTON, the clerk and recorder of the county, was the first hotel-keeper in Exchange--about 1839. He left there in 1840 and went to Jerseytown. Among the early settlers in this place was William CRAIG. The families of John and Alexander CRAIG are still in the place. James McKEE was another early settler. John BULL kept a hotel on the top of the hill, but his family are gone years ago. The house where he kept his hotel is still standing, though it has been closed as a place of entertainment for years. One of the old families living above the hill was that of Patrick MONTAGUE. David WILSON is now a man over eighty years of age; was among the early settlers. Charles CLARK (now a very old man) and family lived north of Exchange. His wife was a DERR. He opened the first store in Exchange, built his storeroom in 1838 and for a time boarded at Johnston's Hotel.
Exchange Lodge, No. 898, I. O. O. F., has a membership of thirty-eight. Exchange was named about 1840. The Crownover mill and a few clustering houses were then there. There was an ancient log schoolhouse across the creek from the place. The first brick house in the place, now owned by Patrick DINNEN, was built by John CALDWELL. It is now a very old house. John CALDWELL married a daughter of James POLLOCK, another family of the earliest settlers. The first postmaster in the village was Gersham BIDDLE.
This is one of the small townships of the county. Its south base rests on the river, and its east line to its north limit follows up the line dividing the counties of Montour and Columbia. The entire township is rough and hilly, and but sparse agricultural spots in it. There are very few even narrow valleys, and yet there is some very good agricultural land. Its most valuable part is its mineral deposits. Here is much valuable iron ore yet to be dug, and its limestone is valuable. Just north of Grovania are the limestone kilns, started some years ago, and promised at one time to become extensive and valuable, but the stoppage of the Grove iron-mills at Danville caused a cessation of the lime kilns, and they have lain idle awaiting the revival of the iron manufactory, when they will become of great value and here will some time again be much activity. Two railroads pass from east to west through this township--the Catawissa and the D. L. & W. Roads.
Grovania is the only village or postoffice in the township--the village here consisting of the name, the store and residence. The place was made a station on the railroad soon after its completion, and designated as a postoffice. It was named in honor of the Grove Bros., of Danville. Near it is a Lutheran Church--St. James--and a cemetery. The church is sometimes supplied from Catawissa and sometimes from Danville. St. Peter's Union Church is on the opposite side of the township. This is also a Lutheran Church, and is supplied in the same manner as is St. James, named above. The place where this latter church is located is known as Ridgeville, situated on the old stage road, but whose hopes departed when the railroad was built south of it and superseded the old coach. It once had a tavern with "accommodations for man and beast." Our information is that the earliest settlers in what is now Cooper Township, were the KRUMs. There is yet a number of the descendants of this family still in the township. Some suppose, on what is apparently good authority, too, that the FOUSTs were the early comers to this part of the county. Here again we find the CROMLEYs, whose descendants are still living in the neighborhood, where they first settled.
This is one of the oldest townships and settlements in the county. The earliest settler in what is now the territory of this township was a Mr. BRITTAIN. One of his sons is Nathaniel BRITTAIN, now aged eighty years, and is still living on the old family place. He has in his possession title papers and other evidences that establish the fact. Among other very early settlers was Jacob SHULTZ, who settled in what is now Limestoneville in 1790; after staying there one year he removed to Derry Township and settled on the place now occupied by his grandson, J. K. SHULTZ, where he died in 1804; he was buried in the Derry Church graveyard. In the year mentioned an epidemic of typhoid fever prevailed extensively and carried off a number of the people. Brady's Fort (generally printed in the State histories as "Boyle's Fort") was erected toward the latter part of the Revolutionary war. It was named after the two brothers Col. Sam. and Hugh Brady, who were prominent soldiers in the war for independence. Mathew CALVIN was an early settler in Washingtonville. The family and descendants are now gone. He built the old frame mill in the town. It was twice burned down and as often rebuilt and the last building is still standing. Joseph HUTCHINSON settled near Washingtonville at an early day.
William McCORMICK, father of Hon. James McCORMICK of Danville, and William SHAW and family were early settlers in Derry. Hon. James McCORMICK was born there in 1818. He married Margaret SHAW, daughter of the above named William SHAW.
John STEINMAN built a saw-mill in 1812, about half a mile above Mr. BILLMEYER's. A turning-lathe is now on the property occupied by the mill.
John AUTEN built a saw-mill in 1812 and in 1814 he built a grist-mill and house. The grist-mill has long since been entirely gone--the saw-mill is still on the same spot. One of the earliest settlers near Mr. BILLMEYER's was John WILSON. He was a prosperous farmer and died on the place where he had made his improvement. Stephen ELLIS and his wife Mary (CUNNINGHAM) ELLIS of Donegal, Ireland, were of the early settlers in this township. Their son Stephen was born in this county May 15, 1807.
Of the earliest ministers of the church was the famous pioneer preacher, Rev. J. B. PATTERSON of the Presbyterian Church. He was stationed at Washingtonville and had charge of the Derry Church and the Washingtonville Church, the latter being both the first log schoolhouse and church combined in this part of the county. Mr. PATTERSON died in Washingtonville, and so deeply had he impressed the purity and excellence of his character upon the people, that his memory now is warmly cherished and is yet "a name to conjure by" among the descendants of his old-time parishioners. His descendants are a son and daughter now living in the township where he died. The present Presbyterian brick church in Washingtonville is a modern building erected about twenty years ago, and is the successor in regular line of the primitive little log church, as that first building had succeeded the inviting widespread branches of "God's first temples."
Washingtonville and Danville constitute the two boroughs of Montour County, and they also mark the two oldest settlements in it. It was only incorporated into a borough April 28, 1870, the first officers being H. C. SNYDER, burgess, and Joseph B. SEIDEL, Andrew C. ELLIS, James A. MILLER, councilmen. The present officers are Charles MOWREY, burgess; Charles SHIRES, clerk; John ANDY, A. C. COURSON and J. B. SEIDEL, councilmen; J. D. GEIGER, postmaster.
A settlement was made here just prior to the breaking out of the war for independence. The BOSLEY water grist and saw-mill had been built prior to 1788. It stood just opposite where the present mill stands. It was burned down in 1826. It was the circumstance of this mill and a few settlements about it, that created Brady's fort, or block-house with port holes and for a while a small howitzer cannon mounted on it, where the people fled at times from the threatened approach of roving savage bands. In the histories of the State this is spoken of as "Boyle's Fort." This is an evident mistake as it was built and named for the two Revolutionary heroes, Hugh and Sam. BRADY, brothers. In 1788, as mentioned elsewhere, great suffering threatened the people in the way of famine. Philip MAUS bought a quantity of grain at the time, of John Montgomery, of Paradise farm and delivered it at the mill. At this early day the place was called Washington. From old papers in the possession of Philip F. MAUS, we learn that in 1778 Samuel SMITH, Adam HELPLEMAN, and Robert ROGERS were some of the parties then living in the vicinity of the place, and that they got some of the wheat he had bought from Paradise farm. Samuel HUTCHINSON purchased the mill of BOSLEY. He was a leading man of the early times, and was principal owner of the village. He was succeeded in the mill by his son-in-law, Mathew CALVIN. He ran the mill successfully for a number of years, and at the same time owned and managed a large farm in the immediate vicinity. He was a strong, intelligent and well educated man; a free and independent thinker on all subjects, but more especially on religion. He donated, however, the ground for the frame Presbyterian Church built in 1832. His son Samuel taught school in Washingtonville at an early day; he removed to Huntington County, became a lawyer and was elected to Congress. Before going to Congress he had been elected and served as judge. Mathew CALVIN was the first postmaster in Washingtonville. Dr. NEWCOMBE was the first physician to locate in the village. Just before the Revolutionary war Mr. ALLEN had built and opened the first hotel in the place. Mr. ALLEN's successor in the hotel was Thomas BUSKIRK. The first blacksmith was Robert WALKER. He was a good workman. He invented and made the once celebrated Walker plow. He was full of industry and enterprise and built finally a factory and foundry. In his old age he removed to Lancaster where he died.
Three churches were built in Washingtonville--the Presbyterian, Lutheran and Methodist. For many years the people worshipped at the old Derry Church, four and a half miles northeast of Washingtonville, where the celebrated Rev. John B. PATTERSON ministered for a long time, the particulars of whom are fully given elsewhere. He went from Danville to Washingtonville in 1798, purchased and settled upon the old homestead farm about a mile east of the village where his son and daughter now reside. The early members of this the oldest church in this part of the county were James BIGGINS, Col. Robert CLARK, the eminent Revolutionary soldier, William McCORMICK, James BARBER, Thomas BARBER, Andrew SHEEP, Samuel BRITTAIN, Joseph HENDERSON, James LOWRIEE, Joseph HENDERSHOT, Gersham BIDDLE, James POLLOCK, Thomas MOREHEAD, John CARR, John ALLEN, James C. SPROUL, Thomas ADAM, James McVICKAR, John RUSSELL, John CRAIG, William PEGG, Samuel HUTCHINSON, Charles McKEE, James SIMINGTON, Robert SHEARER, Thomas FOSTER, Thomas ROBINSON, John BLEE, and Mr. McHORD. These all worshipped at the old Derry Church until 1832, when a building was put up in Washingtonville.
The first store in the place was kept by Nathaniel SPENCE. His successor was William McCORMICK. The latter was one of the prominent men of his day, a native of Ireland.
There is some dispute now as to where the old fort or block-house stood. Some think it stood in the valley just across the creek from the borough, while others contend it stood just back of Front Street, between Church and Water Streets.
The first schoolhouse was built in the last century soon after the close of the war. It was a square pen of unhewn logs of uneven length, a log taken out of three sides for windows. It stood on the street opposite to where John HEDDEN resides. Early in this century Washingtonville was quite an important place; it was on the mail stage route through the county. In 1838 it had as many as four hotels and four stores. The leading business men at that time were James and David McCORMICK, sons of William McCORMICK; Neal McCOY, son of Robert, and the firm of GRIM, DERR & DYE. Aaron MOSER now keeps the hotel that is among the old improvements of the place.
Derry Lodge, No. 759, I. O. O. F., has a membership of twenty-eight.
Col. Thomas STRAWBRIDGE, of Chester County, Penn., was probably among the very first in what is now Liberty Township. He was a conspicuous Revolutionary soldier; a man of eminent patriotism as a citizen, and a Rupert in war. His coming to this part of the State was contemporary with that of Gen. William MONTGOMERY, whose sister, Margaret, he had married in Philadelphia. Col. Thomas STRAWBRIDGE and wife, Margaret, had four children. Their son James married Mary DALE, and of the issue of this marriage is Dr. James Dale STRAWBRIDGE, of Danville. For a full genealogy of this family see the biography of Dr. STRAWBRIDGE in this book. Col. Thomas STRAWBRIDGE and his brother-in-law, Gen. William MONTGOMERY, were among the early settlers in this portion of the State and prominent and central figures. They established almost all the first commercial and manufacturing enterprises; they filled the prominent public offices, and yet were not politicians nor place seekers. If the necessities of their home people required their presence, they were ever ready to resign office and come home, as did Gen. Montgomery when in Congress. Col. Thomas STRAWBRIDGE was judge of the courts of Northumberland County in 1795. He established a tannery in Liberty Township, the first thing of the kind in this part of the State.
The McWILLIAMSes were among the earliest families who settled in what is Liberty Township--Robert McWILLIAMS his three sons, Hugh, John, Robert, and daughter, Jane, who had married Robert CURRY in Ireland. The McWILLIAMSes bought land in 1771, which was the family homestead, near Mooresburg. at the time they came there there was a family named MOORE living where Mooresburg now stands. The sixth generation of the first Robert McWILLIAMS who came here is now represented in the children of Dr. R. S. SIMINGTON of Danville, traced as follows: The eldest son of Robert McWILLIAMS, Sr., was Hugh, whose son was Robert No. 2, and his son was Hugh No. 2, and the last named was the father of Mrs. Dr. Robert S. SIMINGTON, and hence her children: Gertrude, born November 13, 1855, and married Calvin LEINBACH, January 15, 1885; Harriet Elizabeth, born October 11, 1857, and Anna Jean, born June 30, 1867, are the living sixth generation from the first Robert McWILLIAMS. The wife of Robert McWILLIAMS was Jean ORR. They were married in Scotland and removed to the North of Ireland prior to coming to this country. They stopped at first in Chester county, and the wife died a short time before they moved to this place. Hugh was killed by the Indians in 1775. His only son, named Robert, was six months old at his father's death. He was born in July, 1775.
Robert McWILLIAMS' mother was Rebecca DUNWOODY, who had married Hugh about the year 1774. Robert married his relative, Jane CURRY, in May, 1798. She was a daughter of the Robert CURRY who was massacred by the Indians. Her mother was Jean McWILLIAMS CURRY. Some of the children of this marriage were Hugh, born April 18, 1799, died in 1877, John, Mary and Jean. This Hugh McWILLIAMS married Rebecca LEMON April 13, 1830. She was the daughter of James and Rachel LEMON, born in Point Township, Northumberland County. Their children were Harriet, born January 26, 1831, married to Gilbert VORIS March 14, 1854; Regina Jane, born July 3, 1833, married Dr. Robert S. SIMINGTON December 28, 1854, both of Liberty Township, and Anna Rebecca who married January 23, 1861, F. K. HAIN, general manager of the New York elevated railroads. Thus both sides of the house, the McWILLIAMSes and CURRYs, had been sufferers from the murderous Indians. Jane CURRY, who was born February 8, 1773, was the first white child born in this section of the country, between the north and west forks of the Susquehanna River.
Among the earliest records pertaining to this township is the deed from the Penns in 1795 of 329 1/2 acres of land. Thomas J. CLARK now resides on this land, northwest of Mooresburg. The title to this property remained in the church until 1806 and was then sold to Robert FINNEY, where he made his improvement and resided until his death in 1839. FINNEY was in his day a noted character and contributed his full quota to the people's enjoyment by his many eccentricities. He was a harmless old bachelor who lived by himself after the death of his mother and sisters, noted for his hard work, year in and year out, and his pinching economy. He was odd in everything, dress, manners and habits. He purchased the farm and paid for it in threshing wheat with the old flail--a long hickory pole, cut and bent, with the heavy end so as to pound the sheaf of wheat and thus thresh it out. He lived in the old out-building on the place, and in the severest winter weather would take what little stock he had into the building with himself, and often in the dead of winter he carried straw from Danville to his place to feed his kine.
Among the early settlers are the present descendants of the BILLMEYERs. This was a large and influential family noted for their frugality, prosperity and enterprise as farmers. John STEINMAN built a saw-mill about half a mile above BILLMEYERs, in 1812. There is now a turning-lathe on the old mill property. John AUTEN built a saw-mill also in 1812, and in 1814 he added to his saw-mill a grist-mill. The lumber for his house and grist-mill was cut at his own saw-mill, and these buildings were erected as soon as he could thus secure the lumber. The grist-mill was worn out and torn down. The saw-mill still stands in the shape of a modern built mill as a successor to the first one. These two saw-mills and the grist-mill were the only ones in this part of the county at that time, and here for many years the people in the vicinity had their grain ground and their lumber cut.
John WILSON purchased land adjoining the BILLMEYER place. He improved about 175 acres and on this farm made his residence until he died. In the olden time every neighborhood imperatively needed a weaver to weave the cloth from wool and flax for wearing apparel for the people--the hatter, the weaver and the itinerant shoemaker were the only sources of supply for the average person's clothes of that day of rural simplicity and frugality. The entire scheme of social economy is now wholly changed--a change wrought mostly by the wonderful mechanical inventions and appliances of the American people. There are but few of the industries now carried on in which machinery has not been introduced whereby one man can do the work of from seven to ten men, and in no occupation has greater improvement been made than in that of weaving, and yet we note the singular fact that wearing apparel is much more expensive now than it was three-quarters of a century ago. The spinning jenny and the cotton-gins have taken away much the larger proportion of the time and toil upon each yard of cloth, as compared with half a century ago. These remarks are parenthetical to the fact that in the early times George WAGNER, a weaver, located in the township. After working here some years he removed to Limestone, and stopping there some time he again removed, this time to Washingtonville, where he remained until he died about 1862. Of this family there were a number of children. James and John McMAHAN were of the first settlers. These two brothers were noted Revolutionary soldiers, as were the two BILLMEYER brothers, George and Martin. The McHAHANS settled just west of Mooresburg. Another family that to this day are closely allied with the history of this part of the county, the SIMINGTONs, sent John and Peter to the war of 1812-15. This particular family of the BILLMEYERs settled in the Chillisquaque. One of that name is now living in the house built by his great-grandfather.
The oldest church in the northwest part of the county is the Chillisquaque Church. It is still a church regularly offering its ministrations to the living and its hopes and consolations for the dead. Their present building was erected in the early "fifties." The minister in attendance is Rev. H. G. FINNEY, who also serves at Mooresburg. The church at the latter place was erected about forty years ago.
Mooresburg was laid out in 1806 by Stephen MOORE, one of a noted family who came to Pennsylvania that year. The town plat originally embraced thirteen acres of ground, and the first house erected as a residence by Mr. MOORE. John, Joseph and Andrew MOORE were three brothers who came to this county in the ship "Welcome" in company with William Penn in 1682. They were members of the society of Friends. Stephen MOORE was a grandson of the John MOORE mentioned above, whose family had settled near Pennington, N. J. Stephen was born in 1759 and died in Mooresburg, January 20, 1813. He had married Parthenia, daughter of Andrew YOUNG. She was born in 1760 and died in 1830. Their issue were ten children, namely: Lydia, Abner, Asa, Samuel, John, Hannah, Burrows, Charles M., Andrew and Edward S. The brothers of Stephen MOORE were Samuel and Edward, and his sister's name was Hannah. John MOORE married Elizabeth DONALDSON of Danville. The only descendants of Stephen MOORE now here are Mrs. Anna A. (MOORE) BIDDLE, the daughter of John MOORE and granddaughter of Stephen, and the children of William BIDDLE, deceased. William BIDDLE and Miss Anna A. MOORE were married December 6, 1860. Messrs. MOORE and BIDDLE lived in Danville and started the first foundry in the town. This they carried on successfully for many years. Mr. BIDDLE was a relative of Nicholas BIDDLE on one side, and was told he was one of the heirs of the great Jennings estate that attracted such wide attention for many years.
The Catawissa Railroad passes directly by the village and has a depot for the convenience of the people.
This was one of the townships struck off from Derry in the latter part of "the forties." It is in the heart of the rich agricultural portion of the county. The oldest living resident of this township is Joseph GIBSON; he is the great grandson of the noted early settler and surveyor, Henry GIBSON. His father, Henry GIBSON, died in November, 1860, aged eighty-two years and eight months. Through the three generations born and reared in this county, they have been of the most prominent people in this part of the State. The VALIET family can trace their lineage back to the Crusaders of the tenth century. The first immigrants to come to this country arrived in Allentown in 1749. The present representative of this family in Limestone Township is Stephen VALIET. Probably the next oldest families to come to this country were the DAVISes, now represented by Joshua DAVIS. They came to the country in 1754. Of the early settlers were the GOUGER family. John William GOUGER was long a representative pioneer settler and the family were among the most prominent and influential people in the county. Jacob GOUGER came with his parents when a child. Jacob SHULTZ was a pioneer to this part of the State and a soldier in the war of 1812. He lived in the township until he died. James SHELL married a daughter of his and is now residing on the SHULTZ farm. The FULMERS were early comers and a people much respected. One of them served some time as associate judge in this county.
Limestoneville was founded by Daniel SMACK in 1835. He had settled here, and about that time erected dwelling and store, making a large establishment for that day, and one of the finest store-rooms in the county. He determined to make a town of the place and he allowed full swing to his spirit of enterprise. He built a blacksmith shop and secured a smithy to run it; then a tailor and fixed him up in a shop, and then a shoemaker. But he did not stop with the temporal comforts and affairs of the people, but pushing ahead he built a Methodist Church and called able and earnest flock tenders to wend their way to his moral green pastures. The church building is a frame, and is supplied regularly from Milton. A very nice brick schoolhouse was put up. Indeed Mr. SMACK's ambition was fully consummated--a town had been built up, and the outlook was flattering for its continued prosperity. A hotel had been opened by a German. BALLIET & McCORMICK had opened a store, and then bought out SMACK's store and its belongings, which included the town itself, and they became not only the store-keepers but the town proprietors. They conducted the mercantile business with success until 1848, when they sold to Jacob WIDENHOWER. There are now two stores in the place, many comfortable residences and the general surroundings that are important to the people in a small village. It is one of the nine places in the county that has a postoffice. Near Mr. GOUGER's residence in this township is a place called California. It is merely a cluster of farm houses adjacent to each other, and in the settlement is a schoolhouse.
An old document, dated June, 1798, was made by Philip MAUS, collector of the township, and contains a list of taxables in the township for all that year. It is only a majority of them who were residents of what is now Mahoning Township, for the reason that now its territorial limits are much smaller than they were then. The list includes probably about all who were then residents of the entire county, and part of Columbia County, and it is as follows: Paul ADAM, James BURK, Robert BIGGERS, John BUGART, Daniel BARTON, Elisha BARTON, Cornelius BOGART, Abraham BOGART, Stephen BROWN, Peter, Frederick and Michael BLUE, Thomas BOYER, John CLARK, James CONIFRAN, Isaac CALDEN, Duncan CAMERON, Widow CURRY, Geo. CALDWELL, John CALDWELL, John and William COX, William CORNELIUS, Widow CAMERON (grandmother of Hon. Simon CAMERON), Andrew COUGHRAN, John and Thomas DAVIS, Samuel ERWIN, John ENRIT, Sr. and Jr., John and Daniel FRAZER, Michael HILLE, Hugh and Thomas HUGHES, David INAWALT, James GETPLIN, James KERMER, David KERR, John MOORE, Philip MAUS, John MILLER, William MONTGOMERY, Alex. McMILLEN, Benjamin MARTIN, William MARTIN, Aaron and Daniel PEW, Daniel PHILLIPS, ____ ROBINSON, Leonard RUPERT, James RABE, John STEWART, James SAMPLE, John SEIGLER, Michael SUNDES, Jacob VANDERBILT, Gilbert VORHIGH, John WOODWARD, John WILSON, Joseph WILLIAMS, Thomas WILLETTS, John YOUNG, Alexander SELIMAN, Harman ZULIC. The list separates the young men from the married men, and the list of the young men is as follows: Geo. MAUS, Isaac BUDWAN, Mike SAUNDERS, John COOK, Samuel ENRIT, Jacob SECHLER, Alexander McGEE, William RICHARD, David STEELE, Jacob GROFF, Widow CAMPBELL (a young widow, it is supposed), Jonathan D. SARGEANT, Michael BRIGHT, William CLARK, Widow DUNCAN, Daniel HEISHER, Abel and Daniel REESE, Aaron LONG, Geo. MILLER, Evan OWEN, David PHILLIPS, Widow ZIMES, Thomas ROBINSON, Alexander BERRYHILL, William ROSS, Abner WICKERSHAM, Dennis LEARY, James HUNTER, George FANT, John BUEL, Cadwallader ZOWNS, Samuel PLEASANTS.
The Danville Insane Asylum is located in Mahoning Township; a full account will be found in Chapter III. The Danville and Mahoning Almshouse is also in this township. It is in the east part of the township, two miles from Danville--the Catawissa Railroad passing through a portion of the land. The land was purchased in October, 1854, of John HARTZELL and wife, consideration &7,000, and comprises 116 acres. It was built for the purpose of caring for the paupers of Danville and Mahoning Township, and is under the control of three directors. The present ones are Elijah C. VORIS, John C. ROBERTS and James WOODSIDES; clerk, William M. RUSSELL. At the present there are twenty-five inmates, eighteen males and seven females, all under the care of Elijah SECHLER, steward, appointed annually by the directors.
This is one of the youngest townships in the county. It is cut off from the main body of the county by the Susquehanna River, including the only portion of the county's territory that runs across the river to the south. The river forms its north boundary line; the east line is the county line, and the south and west line is the dividing line between it and Northumberland County. The township was formed in 1850 of territory taken from Franklin Township in Columbia County, and was named "Mayberry" in honor of Mayberry GEARHART, a descendant of William GEARHART, one of the earliest settlers in this part of the county--then Northumberland.
It is broken and hilly, the level or valley land along the course of the streams being generally narrow. Mountainous elevations rise but a short distance from the Susquehanna River and extend south nearly the length of the township. What is called the Sharp Ridge rises on the eastern side of the township and passes southwesterly and south through nearly the center of its territory; the ascent of this ridge is gradual and the top is comparatively level and therefore along this ridge is the main road that is going from Danville passes across the north end along the river to Mr. GEARHART's place on Roaring creek, and then turns south and passes out at the southwest corner of the township. Another road that joins this at the Methodist Episcopal Church turns south at the North schoolhouse and goes directly south. This is a shorter route to the Lutheran Church and school, but the abruptness of the hills over which it passes makes it more difficult to travel. When the high plane is reached there is frequently level land and from this the timber has been cleared away and farms made. The productive qualities of these uplands are fair, but the natural washing of the soil requires careful and faithful husbandry. The streams all run north and to the northeast and northwest, the two Roaring creeks forming the east and west boundary lines and emptying into the Susquehanna. Then near the center between these two streams there is a stream heading up near the Sharp Ridge and passing north to the Susquehanna. The tributaries of Roaring creek are two, heading at Sharp Ridge and running northeast to the main stream. The tributaries of Little Roaring creek rise on the opposite side of the Sharp Ridge and run in a northwesterly direction.
The first settlements in this portion of what was then Northumberland County were made by Germans, and were on the east side of Roaring creek, opposite William GEARHART's first place of settlement, now owned and occupied by his son Mayberry. The moving spirit of this first German colony was John MENSCH. Charles BOONE, of Berks County, made the original improvement that is now the Mayberry GEARHART place. He lived here some years and then returned to his old home. Dr. William BOONE lived half a mile up the creek. He lived here some years; then went to Ohio, where he was killed. The VOUGHTs were of the first to locate in the township. J. VOUGHT's improvement was about a mile still further up the creek. Among others to come at an early day was Peter OSMAN. He lived near the Methodist Episcopal Church in the north part of the township. The exact date when the VOUGHTs came and made what it is now supposed was the first settlement in this township is not known. It is supposed it was about the end of the last century or the beginning of this. It was about 1820 when the BOONEs came, and it is now fifty-four years since William GEARHART made his settlement. The accessions to the first cluster of improvements along the Susquehanna River were slow in coming. There was then no bridge at Danville and but few and rough roads that furnished outlets to other points to the south. The census of 1880 showed a population in the township of only 230 souls. The township is divided into two school districts, the River District and the Centre District. The first schoolhouse, built many years ago, and used for church purposes also, stands near the road where it turns south, about half way between M. SHULTZ's and D. SHULTZ's farms. About three-quarters of a mile south of the schoolhouse is the first church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, built in the township, and here was the first cemetery. Then about the same distance south of this and on the same road is the Lutheran Church, school and cemetery. These were built about 1856. The churches now are and have been supplied from other points, holding meetings at stated times.
There is no village or township in its confines. A flag station is on the railroad near Roaring creek. The people are agricultural in their habits, contented as a rule to plod peacefully along in the footsteps of their ancestors. The younger generation, not infrequently going out to larger places to attend school, catch the infection of the rushing, ambitious outside world and forsake the quiet, rural scenes of childhood, and take up their habitations in distant villages, towns and cities of the country.
The first permanent settlement made in what is now Valley Township, it is supposed, was by Phillip (or Philip) MAUS, the founder in this country of that large family, in each generation of which there has been a prominent one of that name. An extended sketch of Phillip MAUS, the first, is given in the chapter entitled "Early Settlers," to which the attention of the reader is referred. It is there told that he purchased his land on the Mahoning Creek in May, 1769, as soon as it was possible to obtain title in the new Indian purchase, including all this portion of the State. As soon as the Revolutionary war was drawing to an end, he came with his son and two carpenters to build his house in the wilderness. He first visited his purchase in 1782; reported the little settlement at Danville had just been founded by the brothers Daniel and William MONTGOMERY, and there were there "half a dozen families from the southeastern part of the State and from New Jersey." His recollection, which is the correct one, is that the MONTGOMERYs had purchased the place of John SIMPSON, and also "purchased SIMPSON's saw and flouring mill." So it appears that the "saw and flouring mill" had really been built by SIMPSON. With the carpenters Mr. MAUS brought with him, his own and his son's help, he erected the first cabin in Valley Township. Its site was a short distance from the right bank of the stream, nearly half a mile from the present stone mill. He contracted for clearing a small tract of land, but the Indians grew so threatening that he buried all the tools and other chattels he could, in order to keep them from the savages. From his recollections, as written by John FRAZER, we extract the following account of the killing of Robert CURRY. Of the many conflicting accounts this is probably the most reliable:
"Two years previously, in May, 1780, Robert CURRY and his wife, traveling on horseback from Northumberland, on the way to their little farm on the Mahoning, when about midway between the two places, were attacked by the savages. He was killed and scalped and his skull broken to fragments with their tomahawks. She was taken prisoner. Her hair was long and jet black, which they greatly admired. They told her she was 'a much pretty squaw,' and would not hurt her. They traveled until night when they encamped. They then tied her hands and feet with hickory bark. Soon they were in a profound sleep, when she cut the bark from her wrists and ankles. She had concealed a pair of scissors about her person which, fortunately for her, escaped their vigilant search when she was first made captive. She fled from their camp as fast as possible, but they soon missed her and, lighting torches, pursued her in all directions. She concealed herself in the top of a fallen tree. They passed over the trunk of the tree and, as they did so, cried out: 'Come out, squaw, we see you. Come out, pretty squaw, we see you.' After some time spent in fruitless search they abandoned it, broke up their camp before daylight and pursued their journey. She then returned to the remains of her murdered husband and gathering up the pieces of his skull in her apron, took them to her house which she reached the next day. The agony and deep distress of this poor woman may be conceived, but the pen utterly fails to describe them."
A fragment of a letter from Mrs. MAUS dated "Northumberland, 1783," is so full of interest that we give all that part of it contained in the torn portion of the original letter, as follows:
"Your brother George likes this place very well. When you come, do not fail to bring 100 White Chapel needles and two or three ounces of thread suitable for sewing calico and home-spun linen. Give my love to your grandpa and grandma, and tell her I wish her to come with you and see us; we will arrange for her journey to Lebanon and back. You will see Rev. STOY's palace. Tell her the PENINTON's house up Race Street is nothing to compare to it and Dr. STOY lives only seventy-five miles from us. * * * Tell the girls that Susy and the young girls here take a canoe and go into the river fishing by themselves; the river is as clear as a spring and not half a yard deep. This is a most beautiful and picturesque place. We have the wild deer not half a mile from us, skipping about the hills where the boys go to fetch the cows.
(Signed.) Your loving mother, Frances MAUS
Philip MAUS built his mill in 1793, and here was cut the lumber for nearly every building erected for years in the surrounding country. The limestone found here was a valuable material in building what we may term the second crop of settlers' houses. It eventually became the great source of supply to the Danville iron furnaces. In the year 1800 he erected his flouring-mill. It was an imposing stone building for that day, and still is standing, as sound and durable, apparently, as when first built. His experience in digging his mill-race was varied, one portion being dug by the Catholics and the other by Prostestants; and several times Mr. MAUS had to take possession of the clubs and shillalahs of both parties to prevent their being worn out over bloody heads. This was called their amusement, and by way of explanation of these theological discussions it may be stated that these men consumed eleven barrels of whisky while at work and play of digging the mill-race.
The experiences of the MAUS family are a graphic illustration of what were the sources of past time and work of a respectable, intelligent and well reared people. How completely were they thrown upon their own resources. Only when they had raised their sheep could they clothe themselves in woolen goods in the winter. For summer they made linen goods of the flax they raised. Woolen or linen, the men wore "hunting shirts" much after the style to be seen in the pictures of Daniel Boone. The MAUS family cultivated, early, two acres of flax. There was a Scotch family in the settlement that did the most of the weaving. Before the era of wool and flax they dressed deer skins and the hides of other wild animals, and of these made clothing. Rabbit-skin caps were quite an elegant luxury at one time. A young man when he reached this high-water mark in dress was ready to go "sparking" at the bower of the belle of all the land. We are told that in the MAUS home during the long winter evenings, by the light of lard oil iron lamps they read books of devotion. "Cook's Voyages," Weem's "Life of Washington," "Deserted Village," "Vicar of Wakefield," and even "Don Quixote." These were read aloud, and sometimes Mr. MAUS would contribute immeasurably to the enjoyment by appropriating the dramatis personoe amongst them.
When the family reached the possession of an ample fortune a family carriage was purchased; it was the style of Louis XIV. Nothing ever created a greater sensation in the valley than the arrival of this family carriage. It is said to be the first in what is now Montour County. The two MONTGOMERYs had a gig each, and these three were the only pleasure carriages in the country for many miles around.
Samuel MUSIC was one of the MAUS family's early neighbors. Samuel was noted as a good man and excellent neighbor, but also for his moods of humor, and sometimes when in low spirits his gruffness was amusing. By those who knew him best he was best understood, and when in his grimmest moods his roughest speeches were only the sources of smiles among his friends.
The township poor farm is situated near the residence of Judge John BENFIELD. It was established about four years after the one of Danville and Mahoning. It was made almost compulsory in the township in self protection, after the one had been established, to establish the other.
Peter BLUE, Fredrick BLUE and James STUTFELT leased for a time the MAUS farm, agreeing to take possession as soon as it would be possible from the Indian troubles. They came on according to contract and went vigorously to work The arrangements for them to come here had been made in Northumberland, at the fort probably.
There are three churches in Valley Township. The Lutheran Church, a brick building in Frosty Valley, is the representative of the earliest church in the township. We found the oldest inhabitants unable to give us the date of its founding but it was sometime in the latter part of the last century. It is served from Danville. The Hendricks Methodist Episcopal Church is at a place known as Cambellton Hill and the Mausdale Church.
In addition to the MAUS stone mill, Judge John BENFIELD has a mill on his place that is a valuable addition to that part of the county.
Mausdale is a small village not quite two miles from Danville. It was originally a mere cluster of settlers who were attracted there by the rich and beautiful valley and the MAUS mill and improvements.
New Columbia was once a pretentious village, or rather one that looked forward to some future expectations. It was on the Bloomsburg stage route and at one time, no doubt, promised itself to have some day a postoffice. But relentless fate built the Catawissa Railroad, the stage and stage horn no more were on the road and the promised growth of the place departed--moved down, it is supposed, to Grovania. But St. Peter's church and Cemetery, with a few residences, remain to the place yet. Its name is about all that is left except the few comfortable residences belonging to surrounding farmers. The surface of the township is hilly and parts mountainous. The agricultural lands are limited, being confined to the few narrow valleys. The east branch of Mahoning creek passes through the north part of it.
Of the early settlers in this township was George CROSSLEY and family. Their settlement was made about a mile south of where New Caledonia now is. The descendants of this old family have now all left the neighborhood. The next family probably in the order of coming was that of Michael SANDEL. This was a large family. There are now in the township Peter, Jacob and Nathan--the latter was never married; the others have families. Burtis ARNWINE settled in the southern part of the township. This was at one time a numerous family, but now they are all gone from this part of the county. Daniel CROMLEY was one of the numerous CROMLEY family whose descendants are yet to be found scattered over the eastern part of the county. Daniel was among the early settlers in what is now West HEMLOCK. Two of the sons are still residing there; one is on the old homestead.
CHAPTER II. Pg. 6
SOME OF THE EARLY FAMILIES
We are in the dawn of the second century since the first settlers came to what is now Montour County. The only record these sturdy people had time to make of themselves, for the contemplation and pleasure of their posterity, was almost solely by the works of their hands amid trials and difficulties we can but poorly appreciate now. Without machinery, tools, money or the rudest appliances of civilization, they had to carve out their way against appalling obstructions. That they did it, not only well, but at all, is one of the marvels in the history of the human race. The world's "seven wonders" that have passed down for the admiration of so many ages are, in the aggregate and abstract, but childish, simple nothings--floating bubbles--compared to that of the continental conquerors--these liberators of the human race, who builded, no doubt, wiser than they knew, but yet who built for all ages and for all mankind. The sublime story of these simple, grand men and women has never been properly told, is not understood by their descendants of to-day. Their memories have been grossly neglected and too often now their wonderful story has passed away forever with their decaying bones.
The few mentioned in this chapter include but a small portion of those whose family names should be indelibly stamped upon the pages of the history of Montour, yet these few names include about all, in connection with the accounts of many others in different parts of this work, of whom it is possible now to give any definite and reliable information.
To write the history of the early days of what now constitutes Montour County and to write the history of the MONTGOMERY family would be mostly one and the same thing. Gen. Wm. MONTGOMERY wrote this upon the blank leaf of an old family Bible: "August 3rd, 1809. - By the goodness of divine Providence, I have this day numbered seventy-three years," (not noticing the change of style) "and it is but right that I should leave a record of something of God's goodness to me in so long a life. I was the third son of Alexander and Mary MONTGOMERY, who both died leaving me an orphan of ten or eleven years old."
From Mr. A. F. RUSSEL it is learned that Alexander and Mary MONTGOMERY had eight children--seven boys and one girl. William, Daniel and Margaret Montgomery emigrated to Northumberland County together from Chester County. William was born August 3, 1736, and died in May, 1816, at the green old age of eighty years. William had become a prominent man in his native county, Chester, before the Revolution. He was a member of the "Associators" and a delegate in a convention "of the people of the Province of Pennsylvania," assembled in Philadelphia, January 23, 1775. He was again a delegate of the convention that assembled in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, June, 1776. He was now "Colonel" MONTGOMERY.
In June, 1776, Col. MONTGOMERY's battalion, the Fourth Chester County Militia, 450 strong, was "serving its tour" in New Jersey, and it is supposed was in the battle of Long Island in August, 1776. Then his regiment became known as the "Flying Camp." In 1773 he came to Northumberland County, and November 26, 1774, is the date of the deed of J. SIMPSON to William MONTGOMERY for "180 acres of land on Mahoning Creek, north side of the east branch of the Susquehanna, called "Karkaase." This is the land on which Danville was originally laid out. He removed his family to this place in 1776 or early 1777. Here his youngest son, Alexander, was born October 8, 1777.
He was a fearless borderer of brawn and brain admirably suited to the turbulent times that were then upon the country, and that in consequence of Indian raids weighed so heavily upon the outer settlements. In 1779 he was a member of the Assembly from Northumberland County. In March, 1780, he voted for an act "for the gradual abolition of slavery." In 1784 he was elected by the Assembly a member of Congress; resigned February 7, 1785. In 1785 he was appointed president judge of the district composed of Northumberland and Luzerne Counties. In 1787 he was appointed a commissioner to execute the acts of the Assembly entitled "an act for ascertaining and confirming to certain persons called 'Connecticut Claimants,' the lands by them claimed in the county of Luzerne, etc." In December, 1787, he was appointed deputy surveyor of Northumberland and Luzerne Counties; when he received this appointment he resigned his office of president judge of the courts. In 1791 he was induced to accept a commission of justice of the peace. There last two names acts are strong charter marks of the man himself. In 1808 he was presidential elector, the vote of Northumberland County standing: William MONTGOMERY, Republican-Democrat, 2,793, and for the Federal candidate, 220.
This is the briefest outline of his military and official life, but his permanent greatness and fame should rest chiefly upon his domestic, commercial and agricultural loans. To the little colony of settlers he was much liked a careful and protecting father. He boldly ventured upon any scheme of Merchandising or manufacturing that promised to yield good fruits to the people. In an address to his neighbors in the dawn of this century he told them that these hills were full of iron, and he believed there were those listening to him who would live to see here great iron factories, employing vast numbers of laborers and yielding boundless wealth to the country. His prophecy became entirely realized. He established here the firs saw, grist and woolen-mills, the first store, and in fact the first of almost everything that gave such a powerful impulse to the building up of the town of Danville. We cannot better conclude this account than by completing the quotation from Gen. MONTGOMERY's own words with which we commenced this sketch:
"I early married Margaret NIVIN; she was all that could be expected in a woman; she was pious, sensible and affectionate; she lived with me about thirteen years and had issue, Mary, who died at twenty-three years of age; Alexander, who died in infancy; Margaret, who died in the same year with her sister; William, who is still alive and has a large family, is about forty-seven years old; John, who is about two years younger and has also a large family; Daniel, who is still two years younger than John and has a family; Alexander, who died about one year old.
"About twenty-two months after her decease I married Isabella EVANS, a most distinguished and delightful woman, by whom I had issue, Robert, born in April, 1773; Hannah, born the 22d of January, 1775; Alexander, born October 8, 1777, and Margaret, born January 8, 1784. The three former are still living, but she died soon after her marriage with Thomas WOODSIDE. Their mother was called away from me in August, 1791, and in April, 1793, I married a worthy and eminent woman; her maiden name was BOYD, and she was the widow of Col. Mathew BOYD, by whom she had issue, John, who died with the dysentery, aged about twenty-three years; also, Rebekah, who is married to Rev. John B. PATTERSON, lives happily and is raising a fine family. But I have had no issue by my present wife nor has any uneasiness arisen in consequence of it. Nor can it be said that any of my children have had stepmothers, being always treated with as much tenderness and respect as they could have expected from their own mothers. Another instance of my happiness and for which I ought to be very thankful is the untarnished morality of my children, and the peace and harmony that has always subsisted among them.
"Through all this long life I have been abundantly provided for, have enjoyed honor enough unsought by any other means than honestly endeavoring to do my duty to my God and my country--great health and much comfort, retaining my natural powers with little diminution until about five or six years past, since when I feel sensibly the advances of age. But I hope that goodness and mercy which, have followed me through life will not forsake me when gray hairs appear, but continue to conduct me down to death, after which, through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ alone and the mercy of God our Savior, I hope to obtain eternal rest and happiness
"Note this year the woolen factory at Danville established under my care."
Gen. Daniel MONTGOMERY was the third son of the above Gen. William MONTGOMERY, and was fifteen years old when his father brought his family to Danville to reside. When only twenty-five years old Daniel opened, under the guidance and assistance of his father, the first store in Danville. Soon he was the trusted merchant and factor of a wide circle of patrons. This first store building was where the Montour House now stands. November 27, 1791, Daniel MONTGOMERY married Miss Christiana STRAWBRIDGE. The next year he laid out the town of Danville--the part east of Mill Street. The new town received its baptismal name from abbreviating his Christian name through the partiality of his customers. From this time until his death he was the most prominent man in this part of the State; elected to the Legislature in 1800, at once taking his father's place as a trusted leader in public enterprises and politics of his district. By leading men throughout the State he was recognized as a man of great influence in wisely shaping public affairs. During his actual political life of many years he carried on his extensive mercantile establishment, purchased and owned large tracts of land. In 1805 he was lieutenant-colonel in the Eighty-first Pennsylvania Militia. He was appointed major-general of the Ninth Division, July 27, 1809. He was the chief promoter in the building of turnpike roads in this portion of the State. Elected to Congress in 1807 as a Democrat, he served out his term ably and acceptably and declined a re-election. He worked efficiently for the division of Northumberland county and the erection of Columbia and Union Counties; Danville was made the county seat of Columbia County and the father and son donated the land for the county buildings, and contributed largely in money toward their erection. In 1823, though strongly urged by prominent men all over the State, he declined to stand for the office of governor. In 1828 he was appointed one of the canal commissioners, and while in this office the great internal State improvements were inaugurated, and among others the North Branch Canal was located and well advanced toward completion. He was a large stockholder and a strong promoter of the Danville Bridge Company, completing the bridge in 1829. He originated the project of the Danville & Pottsville Railroad and was first president. Amid these varied positions of trust, great labor and responsibility he, like his father, was a noted farmer. Gen. Daniel MONTGOMERY died at his residence in Danville, Friday, December 30, 1831, aged sixty-six years. The old family Bible bears the following record of his children: Margaret, born October 18, 1792, died April 1, 1845, unmarried; Isabella, born August 1, 1794, died October 11, 1813, unmarried; Mary, born July 26, 1796, died September 2, 1797; Thomas, born July 19, 1798; died February 22, 1800; Hannah, born October 16, 1800, married to J. C. BOYD, May 1820; William, born January 11, 1803, died January 23, 1873, aged seventy, bachelor; Polly, born February 6, 1805, married to Dr. W. H. MAGILL, May 1, 1828 (they have two sons and three daughters); Christina, born March 1, 1809, died May, 26, 1836, unmarried; Daniel Strawbridge, born July 2, 1811, died March 26, 1839.
Philip MAUS was born in Prussia, 1731. In company with his parents he came to Philadelphia in 1741, being then ten years old. He attended school and soon he could speak and write both English and German fluently. In 1750 he was apprenticed to the trade of manufacturing stockings, a circumstance that enabled him in the times of the Revolution to greatly aid and benefit the country. Within five years after he commenced to learn his trade he established himself in the business, conducting it with great success for the next twenty years, when the troubles with the mother country suspended operations. His brothers were Fredrick, Charles and Mathew. The latter became a prominent surgeon in the war and was with Gen. MONTGOMERY in his expedition into Canada, and when MONTGOMERY fell before Quebec he aided Col. BURR in carrying away his body. Dr. MAUS served through the entire war of independence.
Phillip MAUS married Frances HEAP, a native of England, a most estimable wife, mother and friend. When his business furnished him the capital he invested in the purchase of 600 acres of land. the patents from Thomas and John Penn are dated April 3, 1769, and are among the earliest in what is now Montour County. The proprietaries reserved a perpetual quit rent of two pence per acre, which was paid until the commonwealth compensated the Penns and became the proprietor of the lands. The tract of land lay in the rich and fertile valleys of Valley Township. At the time of the purchase it laid on the outer fringe of the settlements, and hence no improvements were made on the property until after the Revolution. But as soon as peace and safety permitted, Mr. MAUS brought his family to this place and for more than thirty years it was his home. The children of this happy union were George, born 1759; Elizabeth, 1761; Phillip, 1763; Susan, 1765; Samuel, 1767; Lewis 1773; Charles, 1775; Joseph, 1777; Jacob 1781. During the Revolution Mr. MAUS was an active and earnest patriot. He formed the intimate acquaintance, which extended to the end of their days, of Benjamin Franklin and Robert Morris. Mr. MAUS invested very largely of his ample fortune in furnishing clothing to the army, took his pay in continental money, and of this money, when it became valueless, he had several thousand dollars on hand. Baskets full of this old currency may yet be found in the possession of Phillip F. MAUS. What would a modern army contractor think if he was to hear this story?
Here is a letter that now possesses a historical interest:
Philadelphia, 9 Octo, 1776.
Mr. Samuel UPDEGRAPH, Sir: - By the bearer, Mr. Joseph KERR, I send you the ballance of the price of 8 doz pairs of buckskin breeches I bought of you, having paid you L9 [9 pounds] in advance, the ballance being L143 3s [143 pounds 3 shillings] which he will pay you on delivering him the goods. If you have any more to dispose of he will contract with you for them, and I shall be glad if you and him an agree.
Your humble servant,
Leather breeches, moccasins and hunting shirts of the same were the clothing of some of the grandfathers of many of our most aristocratic and exclusive people of fashion and wealth of the present day. Could the rehabilitated form of one of these appear in his buckskin jerkin well soiled in the service of camp and field and, unkempt and unwashed, appear in some of our modern parlors unannounced, would not the cooing Charles Augustus and Floritina faint dead away?
At the close of the war his fortune was so reduced, as he had expended his good gold for materials to manufacture clothing for the army and took his pay in what was in the end valueless Continental money, that he turned his attention to his land in this county, and came here in 1782. He found the infant settlement of Danville, which had then been founded by Daniel MONTGOMERY and his brother, William consisting of a few log cabins and half a dozen families, nearly all from the southeastern portion of the State and the western part of New Jersey. His lands, when he then looked upon them, presented a mass of verdue and deep, tangled wild woods, stretching along the northern base of Montour's Ridge, with the Mahoning flowing through them. He brought with him from Philadelphia two carpenters, and his son Phillip and his own willing hands were the means at hand to clear away the great forest and make his beautiful farm. He erected the first cabin in Valley Township. Its site was on the right bank of the stream nearly half a mile from the present stone mill. He contracted the clearing of other parts of his land, but then the Indian troubles commenced, and the people in these unprotected parts had to flee to Northumberland for safety. Before leaving the place everything they could not carry away, such as implements, tools, etc., was carefully buried and secreted from the Indians. The place was then rented to Peter BLUE and James SUTPHEL, the bargain being that the lessees were to return and occupy the lands as soon as it would be safe to do so. Mr. MAUS and family remained in Northumberland only a brief time and then proceeded to Lebanon, where he remained one year; then came back to the Mahoning settlement.
Phillip F. MAUS, now living in Mausdale, in this county, is the son of Joseph and Sally MONTGOMERY MAUS and is the grandson of Phillip MAUS, one of the first settlers in what is now Valley Township and of whom there is an extended sketch in the chapter entitled "Some of the Early Families." the direct line of descent to young Phillip Eugene MAUS, now of Mausdale, is as follows: Philip MAUS, his son Joseph, then Joseph's son Phillip F. and then Phillip F.'s son Phillip E. MAUS. Joseph MAUS Was born in Philadelphia, October, 1777, and came to this county with his parents when about eight years old. He married in 1808 Sallie, daughter of John MONTGOMERY, of Paradise farm. The issue of this marriage were Phillip F., born September 27, 1810, and John M., born in 1812. Joseph MAUS died July 26, 1867. Sallie MONTGOMERY MAUS died May 20, 1872. John M. married Rebecca GRAY, who was born in 1812 and married in 1833. Phillip F. MAUS married Sarah GALLAHER, of Lycoming County, in May, 1838. Of this marriage there were six children--four boys and two girls--all of whom except Phillip E. died in infancy. Mrs. Sarah GALLAHER MAUS was a daughter of William and Margaret GALLAHER, who were early settlers in what is now Lycoming county. They were of Scotch-Irish descent. The history of the MAUS family elsewhere in this book is very nearly a complete history of the county from its first settlement to date.
John C. GULICS was born in Mahoning Township, December 1, 1807, the son of John and Mary (GEARHART) GULICS, natives of New Jersey. Grandfather Jacob GEARHART was a Revolutionary soldier, attaining the rank of captain, and was long in the service under Gen. Washington. John and Mary GULICS had five children, of whom one only is now living.
Nathaniel and Sarah (BOND) WILSON were of the early settlers in Columbia County, Liberty Township. They were natives of Pennsylvania, of Scotch-Irish descent. Nathaniel was a soldier in the war of 1812-15. Descendants of the BONDs and WILSONs are now citizens of Montour County. One grandson, James WILSON is a clerk in a store in Danville.
Samuel KIRKHAM--how that name brings up the writer's school days and "parsing grammar." Pennsylvania must have bred great grammarians--Lindley MURRAY was a native of York County, and Mr. KIRKHAM was a teacher in the Danville school in 1819-21. It is said what little grammar Mr. Lincoln ever knew he got from KIRKHAM's grammar.
Daniel FRAZER came here in 1790. He purchased a farm of John FRAZER--100 acres. Here he resided thirty-eight years, or until his death. All the south part of his farm is now in the corporate limits of Danville. He was a most estimable farmer and his death was mourned by a wide circle of friends. In 1824 he built his stone residence which is still standing in good repair.
Ellis HUGHES came here a school-teacher, and for some time taught in the schoolhouse a short distance from where the Montour House now stands. He was appointed register and recorder by the governor, and served to the public's entire satisfaction. He died in 1850.
William HARTMAN came to Danville in 1814, a chairmaker--at that time a very convenient kind of workman to have in a community where three legged stools were chiefly the seats of honor. He died in 1851.
November 24, 1784, is the date of the oldest record extant containing a partial list of those who were first here. It was a subscription paper, drawn by Gen. William MONTGOMERY's hand, and entitled "Preaching Subscription." It was not especially sectarian and as all men in those days were deeply religious in faith and pined for the expounding of God's word, it is quite probable that the list contained nearly every head of a family then in the county, who was able to subscribe toward the desired fund. It is an interesting relic. To their descendants it is kind of "Declaration of Independence signers," and it is due their memories that their histories, so far as can be now obtainable, be gathered up. The list is here given in full, and following it is such an account of their descendants as the writer has been enabled to gather from some of our oldest citizens.
Following is the document and the amount respectively subscribed:
We, the subscribers, promised to pay the several sums annexed to our names into the hands of such persons as shall be named by a majority of us to receive and collect the same, to be set apart as a fund for the encouragement and promoting the preaching of the Gospel among us at the settlement of Mahoning.In those days distance had but small control in determining where the good people would attend divine service. And it is highly probable that the subscribers above named included families from every settlement in the county.
Done this twenty-fourth day of November, 1784.
Jno. EMMITT 7s 6d
Jas. EMMITT 7s 6d
Charlie McCLAHAN 7s 6d
David SUBINGALL L1
Peter BLEW 7s 6d
Jno. WILSON 7s 6d
Jos. BARRY 7s 6d
Jno. IRWIN 15s
David CARR 7s 6d
Jacob CARR 7s 6d
Gilbert VOORHES 7s 6d
Wm. MONTGOMERY, Jr. L3
James HENRY 15s
William GRAY 7s 6d
Asahel FOWLER 7s 6d
Benjamin FOWLER 17s 6d
Robert HENRY L1 2s 6d
James GRIMES 15s 0d
Martin TODD 5s 0d
Peter MELICK 7s 6d
Wm. MONTGOMERY L3 0s 0d
John EVART L1 0s 0d
John BLACK L1 0s 0d
Daniel KELLY 15s 0d
Peter RAMBO L1 0s 0d
John EMMET 15s 0d
John CLARK L1 0s 0d
Andrew COCHRAN L1 10s 0d
Alex. McMULLAN 15s 0d
Thomas GILES 7s 6d
Robert GILES 7s 6d
William LEMAR 15s 0d
William MOORLAND L1 2s 6d
John WHEELER 15s 0d
Levi WHEELER 7s 6d
Garret VANCAMP 7s 6d
John OGDEN 7s 6d
Lemuel WHEELER 10s 0d
David GOODMAN L1 2s 6d
Joseph ROSBERRY, Jr. L1 10s 0d
Peter BLEW (BLUE) lived in Valley Township, a good man and a much esteemed neighbor among his farmer neighbors. One of his grandsons now resides in Campbelltown.
John WILSON, we are told, was a Quaker. John, Thomas and William lived many years in Frosty Valley, on the Black road. One of the grandsons now lives there. John WILSON married John MAUS's daughter.
David and Jacob CARR settled just across the river from Danville. One of Jacob's sons now resides there.
It is said that some of the descendants of peter MELICK live on Fishing Creek.
John EVART lived in Frosty Valley. His son John lived and died on the old home place. There is one daughter surviving, living at Danville.
John BLACK lived in Derry Township, where he died many years ago.
John EMMET lived in Frosty Valley. He removed to Bloomsburg. It is told that he was one of the believers in the wild story that the Indians before they left these parts buried vast treasures of gold in this hill. There was a further wild superstition that those who attempted to dig and find the hidden treasure would be stricken by the spell of the dusky ghosts, and would flee away in terror and pine away and die. A man named RUNYON, it was gravely related, went there to dig after EMMET had fled and left his digging implements. He too fled in terror before the spooks and went off and died.
William CLARK, in company with his brother John, kept CLARK's tavern, which stood where BROWN's bookstore now is. The building was burned down in 1835 or 1836. Tom CLARK, son of William, lived here, and died aged eighty years. Several of the grandchildren of William CLARK are now here.
Andrew COCHRAN died many years ago. His son Preston was reared in this county and moved away and died.
William CROWLE was a stone-mason and helped build the old still.
Thomas GASKINS and family were among the earliest settlers here. He had six children: John, Jonathan, Thomas, Mrs. Polly McMULLIN, Mrs. Betsy FORSYTH and Rachel (unmarried). Of these John was born her in 1775 and died in 1856. His son, William G. GASKINS, was born in 1817, and is now a resident of Danville.
The property now belonging to the Danville Insane Asylum was the house of the GULICS family. There was a large family of children. Of these, Catharine GULICS married John GASKINS, whose descendants are now residents of Danville.
John DEEN, Sr., the first of the name in the limits of this county, came here in 1790. He was born in Philadelphia December 22, 1783. When he was an infant his father was lost at sea--a seafaring man in command of a vessel. His mother, Eleanor (FRAZIER) DEEN, was a native of Scotland. Some of the FRAZIERs were of the earliest settlers in this portion of the State. John came to this county with his uncle in his seventh year. The widow married John WILSON. She died in Danville, October 1, 1827, in her sixty-sixth year, and was buried in the old Presbyterian cemetery. Here John lived from the time he came, with his uncle, Daniel FRAZIER, whose log house was on the hill side a little east of Bloom Street, near the present site of the Reformed Church, his farm covering the ground that is now the Fourth Ward. Here, at the short-termed subscription schools, John acquired what education he possessed. In 1796 he was apprenticed to Mr. HENDRICKSON to learn blacksmithing. In 1809 he married Miss Mary FLACK, daughter of Hugh and Susan FLACK, who was born near Washingtonville in April, 1785. The FLACKS were a large family, and their descendants are intermarried with many of the pioneer families. The father on the maternal side of the FLACKs was McBRIDE, another of the very early settlers in what is now Montour County. McBRIDE settled on a farm at what is now White Hall.
In 1809 Mr. DEEN and wife came to Danville. The town was then a mere hamlet of log buildings scattered over the territory west of what is now Church Street and south of the canal. He occupied the corner now occupied by G. M. SHOOP, where he lived until 1814. Here he had his smithey-shop; here three of his children were born, viz.: Thomas, who died at the age of five years, John and Julia Ann. He then purchased ground on the opposite side of the street of Daniel MONTGOMERY. Here he erected what is now the eastern end of the frame house now owned by his eldest daughter, Miss Julia Ann BOWYER. Here he lived the remainder of his life.
The work in a blacksmith shop in those days was very different from that of to-day---but very little machinery; everything had to be hammered out on the anvil, and charcoal was the only fuel used. Mr. DEEN's account books are still in the possession of the family and here are recorded business transactions dating back to so long a period as now to possess much historical interest. As an instance, between 1820 and 1830 here are some of the prices for his work: "Setting pair horseshoes, 12 1/2 cents; pair steel-toes shoes, 58 cents; toeing old shoes, 12 1/2 cents: pair of shoes (not toes) 46 1/2 cents; mending bridle-bit, 12 1/2 cents; 12 screws, 59 cents; laying a hammer with steel (both ends) 46 1/2 cents; ironing a two-horse wagon, $15; laying an ax with cast steel, 70 cents." Bar iron at that time was worth $100 to $120 per ton. At this time buckwheat was selling at 30 cents to 35 cents a bushel. In 1824 wheat sold for $1.87 1@; 11 yards blankets, $10.31; potatoes, 12 1/2 cents; muslin, 14 cents; a day's plowing, with two horses, $1.40. Soon after making his residence here he obtained a interest in a fishery located above the mouth of Mahoning Creek, and also one in Culp's Eddy, above. The fish caught here at that time were many and of the best quality, shad weighing as high as seven pounds, and salmon weighing fifteen pounds and rock-fish thirty pounds. The best fish sold at 6 and 7 cents a pound. The women made the twine of which the nets were made, as they then also made the clothes worn by men and women. The spinning-wheel and the loom were then to be heard in almost every house. The first woolen factory was erected in Danville more than fifty years ago. It was on Mahoning Creek, at the Northumberland street crossing. This is wandering slightly from the subject of this sketch, but at the same time it is suggested by gleanings from Mr. DEEN's old account book. His close industry and economy brought him prosperity, and in 1820 he purchased of Gen. MONTGOMERY the land running eastward along the south side of Market Street, paying $100 per acre for it. This was stony ground, not fit for cultivation. It was once a great place to pick blackberries. It has long been covered with the fine improvements we now see there. In 1826, in addition to his business of farming and his large blacksmith shop, he purchased of the patentee the right to manufacture threshing machines and opened a factory. These were evidently good machines and well made, as Mr. A. J. STILL, grandson of Mr. DEEN, informs the writer that he saw one of them in 1868 and it was still fit for service. Mr. DEEN had contracts on the canal, then being constructed, as well as on the river bridge. When the canal was opened he owned and ran a boat thereon in the coal trade. At an age when ordinary men retire largely from active business life, he built a tannery on the river near Church Street. January 5, 1852, his faithful helpmeet departed this life. After a long and useful life, widely esteemed, and beloved by a great circle of family and friends, he breathed his last July 16, 1864, leaving behind seven children. His oldest son, John, married Jane HUTTON and died in 1874; four of his children are still living. Julia Ann, aged seventy-three years, is the wife of John BOWYER. James married Margaret SANDERS; Jane married Thomas BRANDON; Hannah married Rev. Amos B. STILL, and has but one son living, A. Judson; and Perry, the youngest son, married Mary Jane RITCHIE; after her death he married Jane FULLMAR. Susan, the youngest of the family, married Isaac TYLER; she died in 1865; three of her children are now living.
Frequent mention of the FRAZERS (sometimes spelled FRAZIER) occurs in other parts of this work. Daniel FRAZER was born May 2, 1755, and married Sarah WILSON in 1772. She died in 1775; he was again married. His second wife was Isabella WATSON, whom he married on the sixth day of February, 1777. He died in Danville on March 26, 1828. His children were Charles, Emma, Margaret, James, Alexander, Sarah, Jane, William, Christiana M., Agnes, Daniel and Thomas, all of whom are dead, except Christiana, who married Enos MILLER, who died in 1870. His descendants reside in Montour County, New York, and Michigan. He came to this place about 1790 and purchased of John FRAZER 100 acres of land in the southwest part of his 284-acre tract. On this land he resided thirty-eight years, until his death in the seventy-third year of his age. He was an honest and industrious farmer, enjoying the respect and confidence of his fellow citizens. For a long time he resided at the base of the hill, near the site of an old Indian trading post, and a very short distance north of the spring. In 1824 he built the substantial stone residence which is still standing. All the southern portion of his farm is now within the corporate limits in Danville.
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