Mifflin County History
"A History of the Juniata Valley and Its People," John W. Jordan, 1913
Decatur township, lying in the southeastern corner of the county,
was a part of Derry township for forty-five years after the latter was
organized by the Cumberland county court in 1767. In August, 1812,
the people living in the eastern part of Derry township presented a petition to the court of quarter sessions asking for the erection of a new
township. In response to this petition the court appointed commissioners
to investigate the matter and make a report. In their report, which was
presented to the court at the January term in 1813, the viewers recommended the erection of a new township and closed the report by saying:
"They therefore submit to the Honorable Court the within plot or
draft of Derry and the part of Beaver Dam lately annexed to it, and
the division line which they have made and caused to be marked on the
ground; the said line beginning at the North Boundary of Derry township, in Jack's Mountain, and running south 25° east five and a half
miles to the South Boundary of the said township in the Shade Mountain, and they further beg leave to represent that by the said line the
said township is equally divided, and due consideration has been paid
to the local interest of said township in said division."
The court confirmed the report, approved the recommendations of
the commissioners, and ordered that the new township be called Decatur.
The year following the erection of the township the assessment rolls
showed 149 landowners in the township, eight saw-mills, two grist-mills, a fulling-mill and carding machine.
On January 26, 1763, an order of survey gave John Gilchrist the
right to take up 300 acres of land in the Jack's creek valley, and he was
probably the pioneer settler in Decatur township. The first land warrant
bears date of August 1, 1766, and was issued to Jacob Bach for 250
acres. George Frey located 300 acres on February 12, 1767, and
Philip and William Stroup were early settlers. George Sigler, who
had been captured by the Indians in 1775, took out a warrant in 1784
for a tract of land at the head of Long Meadow run. In 1793 he was
the owner of 400 acres. After the Revolution the settlement was more
rapid, and before the close of the century the Bells, Hoffmans, Everharts, Wagners, Klines, Shillings, Yeaters, Tresters, Caleb Parshall and
several other families had located in the Jack's creek valley, most of
them near the old Indian path that ran from the Juniata to the Susquehanna river. Some years later this path became a public highway, over
which a stage line was operated, and the route is now closely followed
by the line of the Sunbury division of the Pennsylvania railroad.
That part of Beaver Dam township mentioned in the report of the
viewers was made a part of Union county soon after Decatur township
was organized, but on March 16, 1819, by act of the legislature, the
territory was again annexed to Mifflin county and became a part of
Decatur township, where it still remains. With the lines thus established, Decatur is bounded on the northeast by the county of Snyder;
on the southeast by Juniata county; on the southwest by Derry township, and on the northwest by the township of Armagh.
It is doubtful whether a regular school house was built in the township prior to the adoption of the public school system in 1834. Before
that time the schools were maintained by private subscriptions and were
usually taught in a room of some residence or in some abandoned structure fitted up for the purpose. John H. Bell and Samuel Bair were
appointed directors after the passage of the act of April 1, 1834, authorizing the establishment of public schools, and these directors divided
the township into the first school districts, four in number. In 1912
there were eight teachers employed in the public schools.
A postoffice — the first in the township — was established at the tavern
of Stephen Hinds early in the nineteenth century, but after several
years it was abandoned. In 1853 another postoffice was established
about a mile west of where the first was located, with George Sigler as
postmaster. Upon the opening of the railroad, offices were established at Paintersville, Soradoville and Wagner. Some of these have
been discontinued on account of the introduction of the free rural delivery system.
Mifflin County, PA AGHP
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