HISTORY OF MIFFLIN COUNTY
From Franklin Ellis' History of That Part of the Susquehanna and
Embraced in the Counties of Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Union and Snyder. Philadelphia, 1886.
MIFFLIN COUNTY. 613
THE township of Bratton was erected in 1850, and first appears on the court records of that year. No record of petition or commission report is found. It was, however, taken from the township of Oliver. It is bounded by the Juniata River, Granville township, the range of mountains dividing it from Juniata County and Wayne township, and is settled only on the riverside. The Pennsylvania Railroad passes along the river the entire length of the township. Two railroad stations are in the limits, Longfellow and Mattawana; the last is the station for McVeytown, opposite on the river. This settlement began with the completion of the railroad, in 1850; a depot was erected at that time and soon after the large brick hotel, by Henry Hartzler. About 1860 Joshua Harshbarger opened a grocery-store, which was kept by him for about thirteen years when it was sold to Lewis Cassey, who still keeps it. William Miller about 1873-74 opened a dry-goods store which is now owned and kept by Alexander Cowell. The post-office was established in 1874, with William Miller as postmaster. He retained the position until 1882, when Lewis Cassey was appointed and still holds the position.
In 1877 Hanawalt & Myers erected a grist-mill, which was operated a few years and is now used as a warehouse by William M. Atkinson.
The earliest tract of land located within the limits of Bratton township, of which any record is obtained, was warranted to Alexander Hamilton February 10, 1755, and contained two hundred and eighty acres, on the Juniata River. It was sold by him to James Bratton March 29, 1779, and then contained two hundred acres. He conveyed it to George Patterson, of Fermanagh township July 5, 1795; two years later, November 10, 1797, George Patterson sold the tract to Samuel Bratton. The sons of Samuel Bratton were Charles, Elisha and Richardson. Charles settled on the homestead where his son Charles now resides, near Manayunk. Of other sons of Charles were Horatio G., of Lewistown; Isaac G., of Dublin Mills, Pa., William H. of Sterling, Dakota; and Samuel S., who was a member of Battery G, Second Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery, and died July 10, 1864. Of the daughters, Mrs. Enos Woodruff resides in Lewistown; the others are living in different parts of the country.
The first actual settler in what is now the township of Bratton was Andrew Bratton, who, with Samuel Holliday, his brother-in-law, came over the mountains early in 1755, in search of lands on which to locate. He selected a tract of land on the south side of the Juniata River, and made application to the Land Office at the same time. Samuel Holliday located at what is now McVeytown. Warrants were issued to them September 8, 1755. They were here but a short time before the Indian troubles broke out, and they returned to Cumberland County, and remained until they had somewhat subsided, which was in 1762, when they, with their families and others, returned and began improvements upon their locations. Andrew Bratton built a log house above where James Kyle now owns and later built the stone house now owned by Joseph Harshbarger. A log meeting-house was erected near his house for the use of the Presbyterians in the neighborhood. It is said that the first religious service in this part of the county was held at his house in 1766, by the Rev. Charles Beatty, who was traveling through the country till that year. A burying-ground was laid out and enclosed with a stone wall, which is still standing, where the early settlers were buried; several stones without date are standing, and but one with date prior to 1800. It is now unused as a burial-place. Andrew Bratton had two sons, - William and John and two daughters, - Mary and Nancy.
There were a number of the name who located lands in and near the Bratton homestead. The names, dates and number of acres here all given: John Bratton, July 13, 1762, 150 acres; William and George Bratton, October 26, 1785, each 100 acres; George Bratton, January 6, 1786, 400 acres, and Jacob Bratton,
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50 acres: Edward Bratton, February 28, 1787, 100 acres and George 40 acres; John Bratton, February 21, 1794, 350 acres; James, April 22, 1795, 100 acres. Between 1811 and December 16, 1816, George, Jacob, William, Wallace, James and Andrew Bratton took up over 1000 acres of land. The John and William here mentioned were the sons of Andrew. John was a graduate of Princeton College, a general of militia and lived a bachelor on the homestead. William was elected first lieutenant in Captain Robert Adam's company January 9, 1776, in the Sixth Battalion, under General William Irvin, was promoted captain March 20, 1777, and resigned April 17, 1779. He was at the battle of Paoli and at Germantown, and was wounded at the last battle.
He married Hester Hamilton, a sister of Margaret Hamilton, of Newton Hamilton. She was captured by the Indians when a young woman, bound taken up the river. She managed to loosen her bonds, and escaped. She hid in a hollow log, which the Indians passed in looking for her. After all was quiet she made her way to the river and followed in down-stream to her home. Her half-brother, Hugh Brown, was killed near what is now Newton Hamilton. Colonel Bratton settled on a part of the old homestead and built the stone house by the burying-ground, now owned by James Kyle, where he died over eighty years of age. A saw-mill was built on the stream above the burying-ground, and in 1798 one was erected on a stream below. The race of the last is still to be seen. He had two children, Andrew and Elizabeth (Mrs. James Langton). The last settled on the homestead. Andrew married Rebecca, a daughter of Samuel Holliday, and for several years was a merchant in McVeytown, and engaged also in the mill which, with Samuel Holliday, his brother-in-law, he built and which is now in ruins above the canal. In 1827, his wife having died, he married a daughter of Adam Holliday, of Hollidaysburg, who now resides with her son-in-law, D. M. Dull, of Lewistown. About this time he retired to the homestead, where he lived till his death. He was a member of the Legislature in 1834-35. A store had been kept at the old Bratton homestead before 1827 by William Armstrong. The island in the river opposite the house of Israel Zook is known as Pompey's Island, and is said to have derived its name from Pompey, a slave of Colonel William Bratton, to whom it was given. General John Ross married Sarah, a daughter of Andrew Bratton, by his first wife.
Of the many Brattons who took up lands at an early day, George was his executor. He had come to the township many years before, and lived adjoining Nathaniel Standly, or Stanly, where he had two distilleries. He conveyed to his son Edward, September 28, 1784, and improvement adjoining lands of William Bratton and James Crisswell. William Junkin was led to visit this section of country by his old acquaintances, the Brattons and the Hollidays, and took out a warrant, August 6 1766, for one hundred and fifty acres of land, (now owned by William Harshbarger), where he erected a log house, and about 1782 built grist-mill and in 1790 a saw-mill. His children were James, who lived and died on the homestead; Andrew, who moved to McVeytown, where he was a merchant for several years, and moved to Lewistown, where he died; Mrs. T. M. Uttley, of Lewistown, is a daughter. Of the daughters, Rebecca became the wife of Archibald Moore and settled in what is now Oliver; Jane married John McCoy and settled in what is now Walton township; Catharine married David Lusk and moved to McVeytown; two of his daughters became Mrs. Johnston and Mrs. Steele. On the 13th of October, 1836, Richard Miles, as administrator of the estate, offered for sale three hundred acres, grist-mill, saw-mill, chopping-mill, four tenant-houses and two apple orchards. It was sold to William A. Moore, and the homestead now belongs to Wallace Harshbarger. In 1836 Joseph Price was running the grist-mills.
John Beatty, a native of Ireland, came to this country, and on the 21st of October, 1772, took out a warrant for one hundred and fifty acres of
MIFFLIN COUNTY. 615
land, now in part owned by William Harshbarger. He had but one son, George, who died young, and six daughters, of whom Jane married John Ferier; Catharine, Thomas Know; Margaret, John Dull; Susan, Alexander Stewart; Elizabeth, Robert Forgy; and Martha remained single. John Beatty was a weaver, and carried on the business at the place. He lived until after 1800, and the farm passed to his daughters.
John Beard took out a warrant for two hundred acres of land March 27, 1788, and on November 24, 1795, for seventy acres. Samuel Beard warranted two hundred acres November 2, 1785, and, March 24, 1789, two hundred acres. The land John Beard located was on Shank's Run, where in 1793, he had a saw-mill. In 1836 a mill on the site was owned by John Montgomery.
George Mitchell (3d) married a daughter of John Beard, and lived east of the Beard farm (now Kauffman's). On the 3d of June, 1762, James Galley took out a warrant for two hundred acres of land in right of George Mitchell, who settled upon it. In 1783 he was assessed on three hundred acres, which in 1793 was assessed to his widow. A saw-mill was later erected on a small run, which in 1836 was owned by Abraham Kauffman.
Marshall Stanley in 1783 was in possession of three hundred and twenty-four acres of land in Wayne township (now Bratton) opposite McVeytown, and on which Mattawana stands. In 1793 he owned two hundred acres. On May 10, 1802, Nathaniel Stanley, his son, sold the land to Joseph Yoder, who came to the township from Benin, Berks County, and settled upon it. Nathaniel Stanley married Mary, a sister of Archibald Moore, and moved to the West. Joseph Yoder lived on the farm until his death and the property was left to his sons, John, Christian and Joseph, who settled there, and whose heirs still own a part of the property. David Harshbarger also owns a part. A part of the Stanley tract was patented May 5, 1773, to Samuel Wharton. Another part was patented as "Mount Pleasant." Application was made for a part, December 15, 1776, to Samuel Brown, and patented as "Stanley's Choice."
The Rev. Matthew Stevens in 1783 owned one hundred twenty-five acres of land adjoining James Crisswell, on the Juniata River. In 1802 he was living in Huntingdon County, and July 19th sold the farm to Nathaniel Stanley.
John Carlisle in 1783 was living on fifty acres of land, which, with one hundred and fifty acres additional, he received a warrant for February 27, 1787. He had several children, who sold the farm. It was for many years in possession of David Bell, and is now owned by Lewis Hesser.
On the 18th of March, 1793, John Anderson took out a warrant for four hundred acres of land on the mountain back of Longfellow Station; October 20th, the same year, Joseph took out a warrant for three hundred acres; February 28, 1794, William warranted four hundred acres; March 12th, the same year, Thomas warranted four hundred acres; May 21, 1795, Samuel took out a warrant for three hundred and fifty acres; December 22, 1814, Samuel Anderson warranted one hundred acres where Longfellow Station now is. This land was mostly on the mountain and was never used for farming purposes, but for its timber. Samuel lived near Longfellow Station and died unmarried.
The first of the name Crisswell who took up land in this county were Elijah and Benjamin, who, June 1, 1775, took out a warrant for twenty acres; August 4th, of the same year, Elijah took up twenty-five acres; March 29, 1775, Charles warranted twenty-five acres; June 12, 1796, John took up forty acres; March 23, 1787, Elisha warranted forty acres which was appropriated on a previous order of January 30th, the same year, to Alexander and Archibald Stewart. Elijah warranted seventy acres April 4, 1789. In 1783 James Crisswell is assessed on one hundred and sixty acres and Robert Crisswell's heirs on one hundred acres. In 1793 John Crisswell is assessed on one hundred and forty acres. The tract of Robert Crisswell was about a mile below Mattawana and is now owned by Levi Hartzler. The farm was sold to David Hartzler and passed to his son Levi. He had one son, James, who mar-
614 JUNIATA AND SUSQUEHANNA VALLEYS IN PENNSYLVANIA.
ried Anna, a daughter of John Vance, and purchased a farm of four hundred acres in Oliver township and lived there for several years, and moved to McVeytown, where he became engaged in merchandising, contracting for the canal and in the furnace. With John Oliver and Caspar Dull he built the Columbia and Peach Bottom dams. He was an associate judge of the county, and postmaster of the borough of McVeytown. His sons Michael and John Vance were associated with their father in business.
James Johnston, Sr., Lancelot, Edward and Richard Johnston, were in 1783 owners of three hundred and eighty acres of land across from McVeytown, adjoining the Junkin property; the family has long since disappeared.
John McCoy came from Northumberland County, near Sunbury, about 1790 and settled in the family of William Junkin, whose daughter Jane he afterwards married. He died about 1820. William, the eldest son, settled in McVeytown, where he was a merchant, justice of the peace and burgess of the borough. Sarah, a daughter, married Thomas Jacobs and lived in Wayne township, (now Oliver). John became a clerk at the Tyrone Forges and later manager of iron-works in different parts of the State. Catharine, Margaret and Nancy remained unmarried. Rebecca became the wife of Captain Mathias Neice, of McVeytown. James G. settled in McVeytown, where he conducted the business of a saddler and harness-marker for many years and still resides in the borough. Thomas F. McCoy settled also in the borough, published the Village Herald from 1843-45 and in 1846-74 was in the Mexican War. In 1850 was elected prothonotary of the county and moved to Lewistown, where he still resides and is an attorney-at-law. He was active in the late Rebellion and attained distinction in the service.
SCHOOLS. - The township of Bratton was erected in 1851 and at that time contained three school districts, known as Bratton, Humphrey and Yoder. At present there are six schools and three hundred pupils in attendance.
The earliest school-house of which anything is known was built of logs on the old Bratton farm about 1880. James Jacobs was a teacher. In 1834 Andrew Bratton built a brick school-house on his farm, which for many years was a pay-school and became one of the district-houses in 1851, when Bratton was divided into school districts. A log house was erected on the Yoder farm soon after the Bratton house, which was used many years.
A log school house, with greased paper for window-lights, was erected on the John Beard farm before 1800. William White was a teacher. He was succeeded by his son William, who taught after 1812. Alexander McKinstry also taught there. A new log house was built on the site, which, about 1838, was replaced by the stone house still standing. It was abandoned upon the erection of the frame building a short distance above it. The first directors elected after Bratton became a township were William A. Pecht, Charles Bratton, Joshua Yoder, Michael Yontzey, Daniel Yoder and Thomas Rook. The township at present has six schools and has three hundred pupils attending school.
The names of the justices of the peace who have served the township since its erection, in 1851, are as follows:
|1851. Henry Leatton.||1870. Thos. J. Robinson.|
|Charles Bratton.||1871. Washington Watt.|
|1854. Richard Bratton.||1872. John Harshbarger.|
|Adam Hartzler.||1873. Christian K. Moist.|
|1856. Charles Bratton.||1874. Jonath. Bothecker.|
|1857. Thomas Fritz.||1875. Samuel McClure.|
|1858. Thomas McCord.||1876. James Youngman.|
|1859. John Wolfkill.||1877. John Rhinehart.|
|1860. Thomas Fritz.||1878. M. McLaughlin.|
|1861. Moses Gillespie.||1881. John Wilson.|
|1862. Charles Bratton.||1882. A. K. Gunter.|
|1866. James Powell.||1883. Daniel Rodgers.|
|1867. John Wolfkill.||1884. M. McLaughlin.|
|1868. William Reynolds.||1885. Isaac. Long.|
|1869. Richard Bratton.|
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This file has been contributed for use on Mifflin County PAGenWeb by Jana Dress; transcribed by Patty Frank.