Mifflin County History
Decatur Township
"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.



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