Mifflin County History
"A History of the Juniata Valley and Its People," John W. Jordan, 1913
Armagh township was created and organized by the authorities of
Cumberland county in January, 1770, nearly twenty years before the
erection of Mifflin county. About the close of the French and Indian
war a number of settlers came into Derry township, Cumberland
county, which township then included all of the present county of Mifflin, and located in the valley north of Jack's mountain. The elections were held, and in fact all the township business was transacted
south of the mountain, and as there were no roads yet opened the people on the north side of the mountain were placed at a disadvantage.
By the latter part of 1769 the population of the valley had increased
until the settlers felt justified in asking for the formation of a new township. A petition was accordingly presented to the Cumberland county
court, which in January, 1770, took action upon the question as follows:
"Upon reading the petition of several of the inhabitants of Kishachoquillas Great Valley, setting forth that they labour under the Burden
of being in one township with Derry, and as Jack's Mountain lies between the Great Valley and the rest of the township, which cuts away
all communication only at the Narrows. The Petitioners therefore
humbly prayed that the Court would take them under due consideration
and strike the Great Valley into a township by itself, leaving Jack's
Mountain to be the division line. The Court do thereupon consider and
order that Jack's Mountain aforesaid be the Division line between the
township of Derry and the part struck off from said township, which
is called by the name of Armagh township, allowing the township of
Armagh to include Kishachoquillas Narrows to where the road now
crosses Kishachoquillas Creek."
When Brown and Menno townships were erected in 1836 Armagh
township was reduced in size. It is bounded on the northwest by Center county; on the northeast by Union and Snyder counties; on the
southeast by the townships of Decatur and Derry along the summit of
Jack's mountain; and on the southwest by Brown township. Huntingdon county forms a small portion of the boundary at the northwest
corner. After the formation of Brown township Armagh was described
as being "six and a half miles in length and six miles in width, and
from the Knobs eastward to the Union county line it is uninhabited,
being a continuous range of mountains."
Among the early settlers in what is now Armagh township were the
five McNitts — Alexander, John, James, Robert and William — who
located near the foot of the Seven mountains in 1766. Other early
settlers were George Sigler, James Alexander, Mathias Ruble, John and
Edward Bates and George Bell. Indian depredations were of frequent
occurrence in that day and the settlers united in building a fort of the
stockade type near a spring, on the land taken up by Robert McNitt.
The Indians continued their raids for more than ten years after the
coming of the McNitts, when the white men in the valley had become
so numerous that the savages apparently concluded that "discretion is
the better part of valor" and ceased their forays. In July, 1775, a party
of Indians captured George Sigler, Jr., a boy thirteen years of age,
and carried him to Canada, where he was kept a prisoner until after
the treaty of peace, when he was released and returned to his home.
About the same time another party attacked Mathias Ruble's house in
the east end of the Kishacoquillas Valley, but several cross dogs owned
by Ruble gave the alarm, which enabled the family to defend the house
until one of the boys slipped out of the window unobserved and ran to
the nearest neighbors, who organized a rescuing party. The Indians
had left, however, before the assistance arrived. In 1777, in one of the
latest raids made by the Indians in this section, Robert McNitt, the
eight-year-old son of Alexander McNitt, was captured and taken to
Canada, where he was kept for four years. He was then rescued by a
man named Lee, who had gone there after his daughter, also a captive
among the Indians.
Among the pioneers on the Kishacoquillas the mill and the still-house were the principal manufacturing enterprises. As early as 1781
there were six mills, seven still-houses and two tan-yards in operation
in Armagh township. William Brown, who operated two of the mills
and two stills, was the owner of two negro slaves, and Matthew Taylor,
who also operated two stills, was the owner of one negro. The first
assessment roll after Mifflin county was erected in 1789 showed 159 taxpayers, of whom 126 were land owners.
Probably the first school house in the township was on the old road
leading to Penn's valley. It was of round logs, with a clapboard roof,
but the date when it was built is uncertain. The second school house
was on Cameron hill, and another early school house was on James
Armstrong's farm on the south side of Honey creek. In 1912 there
were sixteen teachers employed in the several schools of the township,
and seven were graduated in the township high school at Milroy.
The first postoffice in the township was established in 1828 under
the name of Valley. William Thompson, the first postmaster, kept the
office at his residence a short distance northwest of Milroy. In 1850
the name was changed to Milroy.
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