Mifflin County History
Union Township
"A History of the Juniata Valley and Its People," John W. Jordan, 1913


Wayne township, which was formed seven years before Mifflin county was erected, occupies the extreme southwestern part of the county. The records of the Cumberland county court for July, 1782, contain the following entry:

"Upon the petition of the inhabitants of Derry township to the court, setting forth that they labour under considerable disadvantage, from the great extent of their township and the inconvenience of serving in public offices for the same, met by appointment on Thursday, the 13th day of June, 1782, and chose Arthur Buchanan, Samuel Holliday, John Keever, James Ross, Joseph Westbrook, William Armstrong and Matthew Wakefield to form a line to divide said township into two equal parts, and that they mutually agreed the run called Brightfield's Run should be the division line, from the rise of the main branch thereof until the mouth, and from thence in the course that it enters the Juniata, directly to the mountain. And praying the Court that the said division may be confirmed and entered of record according to the aforesaid line, and that the inhabitants of the upper division desire the name of their township may be distinguished by the name of Wayne township, which division having been taken into consideration by the Court, is accordingly approved and confirmed, and that the upper division thereof be distinguished by the name of Wayne township."

The assessment rolls for 1783 showed the names of 121 landowners, holding nearly 20,000 acres. Besides the farming interests there were in the township two saw-mills, two grist-mills, one tan-yard and five still-houses.

The first warrant issued for land in Wayne township was dated February 14, 1755, and was issued to Barnabas Barnes for a tract "situated on the north side of the Juniata river, about a quarter of mile below the falls." This land was soon after sold by Barnes to Richard Tea, who sold it to Daniel Carmichael in December, 1767. In 1762 James Ross, Hugh Brown, John Carmichael and Christian Hamilton settled in the township. David Jenkins, a native of Ireland, was a soldier with General Braddock in 1755. Not long afterward he came to the Juniata valley, and for several years was a teacher in the early schools of Mifflin county. His wife, a Miss Miller, was a cousin of General Anthony Wayne, for whom the township was named. James Jenkins, a son of David, was with the Aaron Burr expedition in 1806 and later served in the United States army in the War of 1812. Robert, another son was also in the War of 1812 and was killed at Black Rock. On February 28, 1766, George Galloway took out a warrant for 150 acres of land on the south side of the Juniata, at the place long known as Galloway's ford. Other early settlers were Alexander McKinstry, John Miller, Patrick Dunn, William Scott, Arthur Starr, Joseph Corbett, John Cunningham, William Alorrison, John Unkles, Samuel McKeehan, Francis Hamilton, Samuel Drake, James Macklin and William McMullen.

Samuel Drake settled on fifty acres of land at Jack's Narrows, where he established a ferry and conducted a tavern for many years. About 1840 he removed to Newton Hamilton, where he passed the remainder of his life. His sons continued to operate the ferry for several years, when they also located in Newton Hamilton. Drake's ferry was known far and the tavern was a favorite stopping place for travelers. It was at this tavern that the sheriff of Huntingdon county was arrested in 1 79 1, while the dispute concerning the boundary line was before the people of the two counties.

William Scott's warrant, which was dated February 22, 1776, called for 100 acres of land, including the site of the present village of Atkinson's Mills, in the northern part of the township.

At the time the township was erected the line ran from Concord gap to a point on the Juniata between McVeytown and Galloway's ford and included territory that remained a part of Huntingdon county until annexed to Mifflin by the act of April 15, 1834. The township is now bounded on the north and west by Huntingdon county; on the east by the townships of Oliver and Bratton; and on the south by Juniata county, from which it is separated by the Blue ridge. The Juniata river flows through the township, and closely following its course is the main line of the Pennsylvania railroad, the stations in Wayne being Vineyard, Ryde and Newton Hamilton. Large sand quarries are operated at Vineyard.

Probably the first school teacher in Wayne was David Jenkins, mentioned above, who taught in a small house built of poles on the old Galloway farm. In 1793 there was a school house on the farm of John James. When the public school system was adopted in 1834 John Oliver, Jr., and Dr. L. G. Snowden were appointed school directors for the township, which then included Oliver and Bratton, in which they established ten school districts in March, 1835. In 1912 there were eleven teachers employed in the public schools.

In 1837 the Matilda furnace was built on the Juniata river, opposite Mount Union, Huntingdon county, by John F. Cottrell and others. Power was at first supplied by a large overshot wheel and charcoal was used in the furnace, but in 1851 the plant was purchased by John and Peter Haldeman, who installed a steam engine and began the use of anthracite coal. The furnace was operated by different persons at intervals until 1884, when it was abandoned.



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