History of Huntingdon and Blair Counties, Pennsylvania by J. Simpson Africa Philadelphia, PA: Louis H. Everts, 1883, pp. 301-305. Contributed by Mike Gifford, Ken Boonie & Judy Banja
THIS is one of the mountain townships of the county, situated south of the main branch of the Juniata, where the Raystown Branch empties into that stream, including a narrow belt of country on the east side of the latter, extending to the summit of Terrace Mountain, which separates Juniata from Union township; on the southwest is Penn township, and on the northwest is Walker, from which it is separated by the summit of Piney Ridge. Closely hemming the Raystown Branch is another ridge of broken lands of a mountainous nature, called the Allegrippis Ridge. The southern part of the township forms a plateau, containing a considerable area of tillable lands of light soil, but admitting of profitable cultivation. Along the streams are narrow belts of land whose fertility is equal to any in the county. The drainage is chiefly afforded by the Raystown Branch, which has a very sinuous course through the township, and sometimes becomes in seasons of freshets a wild and turbulent stream, causing much damage. Flowing into it and the main river are a number of small mountain streams whose volume becomes very small as the forests are being cleared away. In the northwestern part of the township is the mouth of Vineyard Creek, whose flow is almost wholly in Walker township. The minor streams afford limited waterpower, which has been utilized to operate small lumber-mills, the forest products of Juniata constituting its principal source of revenue. Large quantities of bark are annually shipped from Huntingdon, which is the market of the township, both for sale and supplies, there being no hamlet or business point within its bounds.
Pioneer Settlers. - Although possessing so little land to invite settlements, some of the first improvements in the county were made in what is now Juniata. At the mouth of Vineyard Creek lived a Mr. Brady, the father of the Capt. Brady so greatly distinguished as a scout and Indian-fighter. His claims were probably based on possession, since these lands were warranted to other parties, and as the property of William Smith, D.D., were unimportant in the pioneer history of the county, being occupied by tenants for short periods only. It is believed that the Brady family removed to the West Branch of the Susquehanna some time during the Revolution, and no well-authenticated account of it can here be given. What is well known as the old Ridenour property, on the Raystown Branch, was occupied as early as 1770, by Caleb and Amos Folk, who disposed of their interests a few years later to John Cunningham. Then it was owned by old Master John Shaver, who served in the war of 1812, and from the hands of his son Roger passed into the possession of the Ridenour family, which came from Maryland. John Ridenour reared ten children, he dying in 1852. Of his family, William resides at Altoona, John died in 1863 at Huntingdon, Levi lives in Juniata, David died in the township in 1860, Mary married Rudolph Brenneman, of Porter; Lydia is the widow of Thomas Dean; Rosa, widow of Michael Speck; Sophia, widow of William Dean; and Sarah is the wife of William B. White, of Penn township.
William Corbin, also a native of Maryland, settled on the Raystown Branch, on a farm which had been improved before the Revolution by a man named Pridmore. Corbin died on that place some time about 1820. He was the father of sons named William, David, John, and Abraham, and of a daughter who became the wife of Reading Bye. The first-named son settled in Springfield; David married Nancy Enyeart, and occupied the homestead where now resides his son, William E. Other sons, John and Abraham also live in Juniata, Alexander in Nebraska, David in Mifflin, and George H. in Bedford. His daughters became the wives of John Horning, Samuel Proudfoot, John Bolinger, Joseph Beck, Andrew E. Grove, and Hiram D. Rhodes. Other members of the Corbin family died in Juniata township.
ABRAHAM CORBIN, alluded to above, was one of the leading farmer-citizens of Juniata township, is of the third generation of Corbins known to Huntingdon County history. His grandfather, William Corbin, a descendant of an old Maryland family, moved from near Hagerstown, Md., to Huntingdon County before 1800. Soon afterwards he settled upon the farm in Juniata township now owned by William E. Corbin. Some of his sons and daughters lived to be very old, passing in some cases the great age of ninety. David G. Corbin, one of his sons, was born on the old homestead in Juniata, and after spending his life there, died in 1876 aged seventy-five. He married Nancy, daughter of William Enyeart, of Huntingdon County, and had fourteen children, of whom all lived to marry. Eleven are still living; William E., John, and Abraham being residents of Juniata.
Abraham (born Jan. 30, 1826) was the fourth child, and during all his life has been familiar with the business of farming. The years 1855 and 1856 he passed in Iowa, where he farmed and followed the business of carpentering. Two years in the far West satisfied him, and in 1856 he sold out and returned to Pennsylvania. He had been farming in Juniata on his own account before he went to Iowa, and when he returned be resumed operations upon the same place. About 1865 he bought the farm he now owns and occupies (consisting of one hundred and seventy-eight acres of table land), and subsequently added two hundred acres of mountain land.
May 26, 1847, he married Ann, daughter of Charles Snyder, of Huntingdon County, by whom he had two children, - Margaret Ann (now Mrs. Henry Haun) and Lewis Charles. His wife died, and Aug. 29, 1850, he married again, his wife being Nancy, daughter of Adam Rupert, of Huntingdon County. Of this marriage (ended also by death) there was no issue. May 6, 1852, Mr. Corbin married his present wife, Harriet C., daughter of George Mark, a well-known farmer of Juniata township. Of the third marriage the children have been Martha A., George A., David M., James H., Mary Jane, John G., Abraham L., Frank W., Esther Belle, Ellis M., William M., and Nancy H. Only four - David M., James H., Abraham L., and William M. - are living.
Mr. Corbin is a leader in matters that affect public advancement, and in many ways has identified himself with popular progress in Juniata township. For many years he has been a school director, and in educational concerns takes a warm and active interest. In church affairs he is strong and earnest in his labors. He has been a member of the Baptist Church since 1845, and is now a deacon in the Juniata Baptist Church, of which he was one of the founders, and whose house of worship he erected and liberally supported with a handsome contribution. He is the superintendent of the Sabbath-school, a member of the home temperance organization, and a friend, in short, of all measures looking to the promotion of moral good.
On the same stream, in the upper part of the township, and partly in Penn, William Enyeart began his improvements about 1770. During the Revolution he sought protection in the fort at Standing Stone, and when no Indians were supposed to be about tilled his farm in company with a neighbor by the name of Reed, who improved an adjoining tract of land, one standing guard while the other worked. They several times escaped barely with their lives, on one occasion Enyeart jumping down the bank of the river and running to the fort near Marklesburg, thus avoiding the savages, who waited to waylay him should he try to return to Huntingdon. William Enyeart was several times married, having five children by the first wife and sixteen by the second. Of these, John moved to Indiana, William lived near Marklesburg, David in Shirley, Polly married Isaac Vandevender, and Betsey, Joseph Norris. By the second wife there were sons, Silas, James, Joseph, Thomas, Benjamin, Levi, and Abraham, all of whom removed to the West, and daughters, who married Peter Heffner, William Wilson, John Heffner, John McMonegal, William Watson, David Corbin, and --- Graffius.
The Reed above alluded to was from the north of Ireland, and died about 1800. His sons David and Samuel settled on the ridge, and remained in the township until their death. The latter reared sons named John, William, and Daniel, who removed to the West; Samuel and Robert, who became ministers of the gospel. Near the Reeds lived John Anderson, the father of James, John, Samuel, and of a daughter who married David F. Tussey, of Porter township. In the same locality, on the present Lininger farm, lived William Dean, the father of James and Thomas Dean. Another William Dean was an early settler on the ridge. His house was destroyed by fire while occupied by two of his daughters. One was burned to death, and the other sustained severe injuries. Daniel McMonegal was a pioneer in the same part of the township. The farm he improved was afterwards occupied by Adam Morningstar, and Jacob Pecht was the pioneer on the present John Montz place. On the present Henry Mark place lived Thomas Monroe, and before him a man named John Bigam.
On the Raystown Branch, on the present Kaufman farm, Joseph Douglass settled in 1813. He moved there from Alexandria, and being a blacksmith by trade, put up a shop on his farm, in which he worked until his death in 1841. He had sons named Thomas, who moved from McConnellstown to Ohio; Joseph, a merchant, who recently died at McConnellstown; David, a machinist at Altoona; and daughters who married William Snyder, Alfred Ganoe, William Vandeventer, Samuel Wilson, and William Gibson. At that time Martin Neroushe owned a farm in that locality, which was tenanted by David Shriver. Reading Bye, a cabinet-maker, also lived in the same neighborhood.
On the north side of the river, below the old Douglass place, Michael Brenneman was an early settler. He had a number of sons, among them being Rudolph, living in Porter township; Henry, who moved to Williamsburg; John, who died in Juniata; Michael, living in Porter; and Abraham, who removed from the county. A settler of an earlier period was George Jackson, who lived on the farm which was afterwards occupied by Lawrence Swoope, who there reared sons named Caleb, David, and Moses. This farm became the property of the Shenefelt family. George Shenefelt, who lived in that locality, had no children, but his brother Frederick reared sons named John B., yet living in the county; Abraham, who occupied the old mansion until his death in 1880, and where now reside Miles and John Shenefelt; Jacob, yet a citizen of the township; David, and Isaac, the former living in Henderson.
One of the old Enyeart farms became the property of the Yocum family. John Yocum came from Chester County in 1800, and for some years had a smith-shop at Huntingdon. From there he removed to McConnellstown, where he died. Of his family, Richard, the second son, died in Hollidaysburg; Edmund died in Walker; William lives in Scott County, Iowa; Samuel is a citizen of Henderson; Isaac, of Walker; and James, of Iowa. His daughters married James and Samuel McGee, of Indiana; Jesse Yocum, of Brady; Arthur Foster and Joseph Gibbony, of Shaver's Creek; Robert Carmon, formerly of Alexandria; and John Houck, of Fulton. The oldest son of John Yocum, also called John, lived on the Enyeart place until his death in 1857. He was the father of John W., J. Williams, Silas E., Rittenhouse Porter, Elmer W., and Lewis C. Yocum, most of whom yet remain in the township.
Above the Yocums lived William Dowling and his sister Polly, the latter's farm being occupied many years by John Thompson, who reared sons named John and Edward, who are yet citizens of the township.
What is now known as the mansion-house of the Haun brothers was formerly the residence of the Kisling family, who are interred on the farm. John Haun, the ancestor of the family, was a native of Germany, where he was born in 1768. After coming to America he lived for a time in York County, but before 1795 became a resident of what is now Brady township, living near Mill Creek, where he died in 1805. After that event all the members of the family, except Michael, removed to Woodcock Valley, and about 1829 to Juniata. Of these brothers, Jacob, John, George, David, Daniel, Peter, and Isaac, the former is the only one that entered the marriage relation, and reared a large family, most of the members yet living in Juniata, and the three last named are the only survivors of this somewhat remarkable family of brothers. The Haun's were very industrious, and amassed considerable wealth, which induced a robbery of the mansion and attempts on the lives of some of the inmates, John dying from the injuries he then received. Michael Haun was born in 1793, and died at Mill Creek in 1864. He was married to Eva Speck, and was the father of George Haun, of Mill Creek; Daniel, of the township of Brady; and Michael, a boatman, who died of cholera while on one of his trips down the river. Isaac has also deceased.
Martin Speck, a son of Michael Speck, an early settler on Jack's Mountain, in Brady, located on Piney Ridge some time about 1800, the country being at that time wild and an almost unbroken forest. He died some time about 1860. Of the family he reared, Abraham is a well-known citizen of Brady, and David of Juniata. Other boys were Michael, Peter, John, Adam, Henry, Alexander, Valentine, and William. A daughter Mary married Jacob Lininger.
John Geissinger, a native of Northampton County, after living a number of years in Juniata County, in 1825 moved to Piney Ridge, where he died in 1839. He was the father of Charles Geissinger, who died in Union township in 1879; of John Geissinger, who married Jane Barrick, of Walker; and who is now living, at the age of seventy-six years, in Penn township. He is the father of Sheriff William J. Geissinger. William, the third son, yet occupies the homestead on Piney Ridge.
The names of other pioneer settlers may be seen in the lists of inhabitants of old Huntingdon township in 1788 and 1802, of Porter township in 1815, and of Walker township in 1828. The year following the organization of Juniata as a separate township the following persons were its residents and property-owners:
In 1880 the population of Juniata was four hundred and thirty-eight.
About the only machinery that has been operated in the township is that connected with saw-mills, of which Jacob Hawn had one of the first as early as 1825, and members of that family have operated sawmills ever since. In 1881 there were mills owned by George W. Hawn, John Morningstar, John W. Snyder, and Elmer W. Yocum. A few years previous portable steam saw-mills were operated by Aiken & Chilcott and Steel & Lytle, which manufactured large quantities of lumber.
In 1875, Richard Langdon erected a distillery in Juniata, near Huntingdon, which was put in operation in October, 1876, by Martin Gruhe, and carried on by him until May, 1881, since when the firm has been M. Gruhe & Son. The house is of brick, thirty by forty-five feet, and two stories high. It is supplied with steam-power, but is not operated to its full capacity.
Civil Organization. - The township became a civil body by order of the Court of Quarter Sessions, Nov. 19, 1856, when the name of Juniata was bestowed upon the territory indicated in the following report:
"To the honorable the judges within named:
"We, the persons appointed by the within order of the court to inquire into the propriety of forming a new township out of a part of Walker township, in Huntingdon County, do hereby most respectfully report: That agreeably to due notice being given both to the commissioners and the inhabitants of said township, we met at the house of Benjamin Megahan, in McConnellstown, in said township, on the 10th day of April, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and fifty-six, when, after being duly sworn according to law, we proceeded to hear the complaints of the petitioners, and also the objections offered by those opposed to said division. We then proceeded with much care to examine into the propriety of forming said new township, as prayed for by the petitioners, when, after examining the boundaries of said township and the territory contained therein, and the advantages and the disadvantages which would be likely to arise from the proposed division to the inhabitants on each side of said division, we arrived at the conclusion that by making the summit of Piney Ridge the line, as prayed for by the petitioners, it would interfere very little with the individual rights or interests of any one, and would make an equitable division as to quantity of territory, and would, in a measure, obviate the great inconvenience set forth by the petitioners, arising from the distance required to travel, and the crossing and recrossing of the said Piney Ridge in the ordinary transaction of the business of the township. And we believe that it would have a tendency to allay that state of feeling that now appears to exist on the part of the citizens on each part of the said Piney Ridge towards the other; and, further, we believe that each side of said ridge is sufficiently able to sustain itself as a corporate body, separate and apart from the other, so far as township purposes are concerned; and in finding said Piney Ridge a complete natural division of said township, dividing the territory nearly equal as to schools, etc. In taking into view these facts, in connection with others that could be advanced, we firmly believe that the prayers of the said petitioners ought to be granted, and we therefore beg leave to report to your honorable court for confirmation the following described boundaries of said new township, to wit: Beginning at a rock-oak on the south side of the road leading to Huntingdon along the summit of Piney Ridge, two miles and six perches from a stump, a corner on the line dividing Penn from Walker township, and about four miles from the summit of Tussey Mountain, and about the same distance from the summit of Terrace Mountain, on said line between Penn and Walker townships, near to Martin Speck's, on said Piney Ridge, and running from thence along the summit of said ridge with the various bearings represented on the draft hereunto annexed nineteen hundred and eighty perches to the lower abutments of the lower bridge across the Juniata River at Huntingdon; thence down the meanderings of said river four miles to a post on the margin of said river, opposite the summit of Terrace Mountain; thence along the summit of said mountain eight and three-quarters miles to the corner between the said Penn and Walker townships; thence along said line north fifty-four degrees west four miles to the place of beginning. Provided, always, that the part lying north of said division line shall be at the expense of keeping in repair the road along the said Piney Ridge, as it is now located; and said northern division shall keep in repair that portion of the two bridges that cross the Juniata River at Huntingdon that the said Walker township was entitled to keep in repair previous to said division, and shall hereafter be entitled to no assistance from the said southern division in making the aforesaid repairs; and, further, all the roads that have been petitioned for, confirmed, and in process of being made, but not yet finished, south of said division line in that part of said Walker township lying between the summit of Piney Ridge and the summit of Terrace Mountain shall be finished in a customary and suitable manner to accommodate the traveling community by the two divisions of said township jointly, as though no division had been made of the same; and, further, we would recommend the court to give a name to said new township as described above, a draft whereof is hereunto annexed.
" WILLIAM CHRISTY,
The following have been the principal civil officers of Juniata since its organization:
1857, Isaac Long, Peter Heffner; 1858, Adam Morningstar, George W. Clark; 1859, John Heffner, David Corbin; 1860, John Richardson, Rudolph Brenneman; 1861, John Richardson, John Hawn; 1862, Henry Miller, Levi Ridenour; 1863, David Corbin, William Dean; 1864, Thomas Dean, John Heffner; 1865, John Hawn, Isaac Long; 1866, John Hawn, Rudolph Brenneman; 1867, R. Corbin, Augustus Bush; 1868, Abraham Corbin, Augustus Bush; 1869, William H. Brenneman, Augustus Bush; 1870-71, W. E. Corbin, James Parks; 1872, W. E. Corbin, James Parks; 1873, Peter Heffner, George Corbin, William A. Dean, John R. Long, Washington. Long, Jackson, Morningstar, William Oswalt, William Mountain; 1874, John Montz, L. C. Corbin; 1875, John Thompson L. C. Corbin; 1876, John Oswalt, Charles Heffner; 1877, Adam Bagshaw, H. A. Mark; 1878, Peter Heffner, Augustus Bush; 1879, John Corbin, Ellis Beames; 1880, Augustus Bush, Martin Getz; 1881, Enos Ridenour, Augustus Bush.
1857, J. W. Yocum, John Oswalt, Henry Mark; 1858, Abraham Corbin; 1859, William E. Corbin, William Geissinger; 1860, John Hawn; 1861, William Speck; 1862-63, William E. Corbin, J. N. Geissinger; 1864, Henry Hawn; 1865, William Yocum, Henry Mark; 1866, John N. Geissinger; 1867, J. W. Yocum; 1868, Albert Hawn; 1869, A. H. Kaufman; 1870-71, William Chilcott; 1872, A. H. Kaufman; 1873, Lewis Corbin; 1874, M. Shenefelt; 1875, A. H. Kaufman; 1876, Harrison Speck; 1877, W. H. McCall, L. C. Yocum; 1878, George R. Mountain; 1879, John Shenefelt; 1880, John Geissinger; 1881, J. P. Snyder.
Educational and Religious. - In the sketch of Walker township appears an account of the early schools. It seems that the free-school system was not kindly received by many of the inhabitants at first, but after its advantages were better understood it was not so strenuously opposed as to become inoperative. The sparsely settled condition of the country had much to do with the slow advancement of the cause of education, necessarily keeping the schools backward, and preventing until recently the erection of a good class of buildings. In the winter of 1881 the schoolhouse in the Corbin neighborhood was swept away by an ice gorge, and in its place a new brick house has been built which well accommodates the people of that section. In 1881 there were in all five districts, each provided with a house in which five months' school were taught. The males attending numbered sixty-six, the females forty-nine, and the average attendance was sixty-two. The salary paid to teachers was but twenty dollars per month. The officers of the school board were William Geissinger, president; D. W. Womelsdorf, secretary; and Enos Ridenour, collector and treasurer. Their co-members of the board were David Speck, Abraham Corbin, James Parks, and J. W. Yocum. The following have been the directors since the township became a separate organization:
1857, William E. Corbin, William Geissinger, John Thompson, George Morningstar, William Speck, Abner Speck; 1858, John Ridenour, William Dean; 1859, John H. Stone, Levi Ridenour; 1860, William A. Corbin, James Johnston; 1861, Thomas Dean, Abraham Speck; 1862, William Geissinger, Isaac Long; 1863, William E. Corbin, W. B. White; 1864, Isaac Heffner, John Heffner; 1865, William Geissinger, A. B. Shenefelt, Abraham Corbin; 1866, William E. Corbin, Abraham Corbin, J. P. Snyder; 1867, Charles Heffner, John Heffner; 1868, Daniel Weight, Samuel Bagshaw, Samuel Peightal; 1869, William E. Corbin, Charles Heffner; 1870-71, A. B. Shenefelt, W. A. Corbin, J. W. Yocum, J. P. Snyder, Adam Fouse; 1872, John Heffner, George Hawn; 1873, W. E. Corbin, J. W. Yocum; 1874, William Geissinger, John Lefford; 1875, J. P. Snyder, James Parks; 1876, W. E. Corbin, Joseph Logan, W. H. McCall; 1877, Charles Heffner, David Speck; 1878, John Oswalt, J. P. Snyder; 1879, D. W. Womelsdorf, John Heffner; 1880, William Geissinger, David Speck; 1881, A. Corbin, James Parks, J. W. Yocum.
The only house of worship in the township is the Hawn meeting-house, which was erected by the Hawn brothers, John, George, Peter, and Isaac, for the use of such persons as adhered to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. It is a brick building of plain but not unattractive appearance, and affords ample accommodations for all who congregate there. Among these is a small Lutheran congregation, which has the same pastoral service as the church at Huntingdon, and is, for all practical purposes, a part of that organization.
The house is also occupied at stated periods by the Juniata Baptist Church as one of its preaching-places, Corbin's school-house being the other. This society was first formed in August, 1869, and at that time bore the name of Raystown Branch Baptist Church. It was constituted of nine members who had previously sustained a membership at Huntingdon, and had been favored with preaching as an outstation of that church. The pastor of the Huntingdon Church, the Rev. J. W. Plaunett, ministered to the church until 1871, when the Rev. W. G. Coulter for the next two years served them in holy things. The society, unfortunately, did not enjoy great prosperity, and in 1874 it was disbanded. In 1876 the pastor of the Huntingdon Church again began holding meetings in Juniata, and in the course of a revival many persons were converted, who joined the church at Huntingdon. In December, 1879, fifty-seven of these received letters of dismissal, and constituted themselves into the present Juniata Church, which was formally recognized by a council Dec. 9, 1879. The Rev. D. W. Hunter was called to the pastorate, and still serves the church, preaching twice per month. The officers in 1881 were William E. Corbin, Abraham Corbin, Adam Bagshaw, and E. W. Yocum.
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