Mifflin County History
Armagh Township
"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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