You are here:  Rootsweb > USGenWeb > PAGenWeb > MifflinTownships > Township History

 

Mifflin County Genealogy Project

 

History of Mifflin County Township Formation

 

Contributor: Cynthia Rosenberry and the  Mifflin County Historical Society

 

Townships:

 

Armagh  |  Bratton  |  Brown  |  Decatur  |  Derry  |
Granville  |  Oliver  |  Menno  | Union | Wayne |

 

Boroughs:

 

Burnham | Kistler | Lewistown | McVeytown | Newton Hamilton |

 

Map of the Formation of Mifflin County's Townships

 

Derry

 

Derry Township, the original township in Mifflin County, was created in 1767, then part of Cumberland County. The Scotch-Irish name came from Londonderry, a county in Ireland where most of the settlers could trace their roots.
A number of settlements developed in Derry Township. The largest, Logan, later became Burnham Borough. Yeagertown was named in honor of Jacob Yeager who modernized the art of milling. Kellyville, now Vira, was named for Joseph Kelly, who built the Black Horse Tavern on land he inherited in 1801 and operated the business until 1843. The tiny village of Maitland originated as a station strop on the Mifflin & Center Railroad and was named for a railroad official.
Several points of historical interest in the township include Standard Steel, originally Freedom Forge. A Pennsylvania Historical Marker near there was erected March 31, 1947 and reads: “Iron and steel have been made here for over 150 years. Freedom Forge, 1795, became Freedom Iron and Steel Co. in 1867. Third Bessemer plant in the U. S. Open hearth steel first made here in 1895.”
The Old Arch Bridge, located just East of Lewistown on US 22, was part of the turnpike system of the early 1800s. Another Pennsylvania Historical Marker erected nearby on March 28, 1947, reads: 
“ The restored stone bridge opposite was built in 1813. It was part of the turnpike from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. The arch is without a keystone."
The scenic drive along the Juniata River on US 22/322 through the Lewistown Narrows was the site of the first public road into Mifflin County in 1767 and followed the present state highway routes. Another Pennsylvania Historical Maker there notes: 
“ Five stages of travel can be recalled here. Concrete covers the old turnpike. Opposite are the ruins of the old canal. The Juniata was once filled with river craft. Across the river is the Pennsylvania."
 The marker was erected Mar. 28, 1947.

Armagh

 

Armagh was the second township in what would become Mifflin County, created in 1770 from part of Cumberland County, and was named from County Armagh in Northern Ireland. A court order permitted those people who lived in the Kishacoquillas Valley at that time to have their own township separate from Derry Township.
The main village in Armagh Township today is Milroy, named for Henry Milroy, who, was granted the land in 1766. Some historians believe, however, Perryville, the former name for Milroy, was named in honor of James Milroy, a prominent resident in the 1850s.
Siglerville grew around a blacksmith shop operated by George Sigler in 1847. The blacksmith gave the village its name.
Locke’s Mills, also known as Sterrett’s Mill in 1816, later Locke’s Banks, was named for the mill built their in 1816 and sold to the Locke family in 1841. A post office was established there in 1846, but is now long gone.
Naginey was named for Charles Naginey and is the site of a vast limestone quarry. It was also a station on the Milroy Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Shrader, a small village named after a family who occupied one of the earliest houses in that section of the valley, also began to grow as a railroad station along the Milroy Branch of the PRR.
Part of the Seven Mountain’s region, Penn’s View, Poe Valley Park (lake) and Poe Paddy Park are near the northern portions of Armagh Township.
Salem Lutheran Church, first church building in East end of the Kishacoquillas Valley was built in 1834.

 

Wayne

 

In 1755, Barnabas Barnes was the first settler to live on land that is now Wayne Township. The township was created in 1782 from a portion of Derry and was one of the original townships when Mifflin County was established. The township was named for General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, popular Revolutionary War hero.
In 1776, William Scott bought land that later became Atkinson’s Mill, after Lukens Atkinson purchased some property from Scott in 1812 and built a grist mill.
Ryde, a community with a grist mill, store, depot, telegraph office and a few homes, was a station on the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
“Long Hollow - Small Valley” were noted on the earliest maps of the region are in Wayne Township.
The Matilda Furnace, from the early iron industry, are ruins located in this township.
Pennsylvania Glass Sand Company quarries located in Wayne, have long been a source of sand for making glass.
 

Union

 

Created in 1790, Union was the first township to be formed after Mifflin County was established in 1789. It was named for the new union of the Thirteen Colonies, with the adoption of the U. S. Constitution.
Settlers living in this section of Armagh Township petitioned the court to create a new township with boundaries “at a certain stream of water extending from the Plumb Bottom to Kishacoquillas Creek emptying into the same near the Widow Alexander’s.”
This is the area where James Alexander, the first settler in the Kishacoquillas Valley is believed to have settled in 1752.
Originally called Greenwood, the largest settlement in Union Township is Belleville, named by a local blacksmith, because it meant “beautiful village.”
The Kishacoquillas Seminary was established in 1847 as a religious school, operated until 1877. A bronze tablet on a native boulder marks the site along US 655.
The Kishacoquillas Valley Railroad operated through the valley from 1893 to 1940. The tracks ran from Belleville to Reedsville in Brown Township, following the south bank of Kishacoquillas Creek.
Amish settlers moved into the area in 1790 and remains one of the most diverse Amish communities today.

 

Decatur

 

Decatur Township was carved from Derry in 1813 and is named for Stephen Decatur, naval hero of the War of 1812.
This township was the site of an earlier kidnapping by Indians of George Sigler, Jr. in 1782. While on his way from his home to that of George Bell, George Sigler was seized and taken to Canada, but released a year later. The Sunbury and Lewistown Railroad is credited with creating several Decatur Township settlements: Paintersville, Soradoville and Wagner. Soradoville was the site of e recreation area in the 1870s.
Here or just across the county line in Snyder County, lived Paul Trimmer and son Anthony, (1786-1802), both ancestors of Pres. Richard M. Nixon.
 

Oliver

 

This township was formed in 1834 from part of Wayne. It was named in memory of John Oliver, a well-known individual who was a teacher and later a Mifflin County Court Associate Justice and first Representative of Mifflin County in the General Assembly.
Oliver includes the Borough of McVeytown, incorporated in 1833, on the site of Holliday’s Mills where Rev. Charles Beatty preached the first sermon in Mifflin County in 1766, while touring as a Presbyterian missionary.
Joseph T. Rothrock was born in McVeytown. A Pennsylvania Historical Marker erected along US 22 & 322 April 1, 1947 reads: “Born here April 9, 1839. Conservationist and father of the State Forest idea in Pennsylvania. Pioneer in development of forests fire control, reforestation and scientific forestry.”
Lockport, once called Three Locks, is a village in Oliver Township named for the locks and lockhouse there on the Pennsylvania Canal in 1829.
On US 22 & 322, near the township line with neighboring Granville Township, 4.6 miles southwest of Lewistown, is another Pennsylvania Historical Marker, Three Locks, which states: 
“Preserved here are three locks of the Pennsylvania Canal, Juniata Division. Unique in that three locks and levels were adjacent. Stonework and the old bed of the canal can be seen."

 

Brown

 

Brown Township was created in 1837 from Armagh and was named for William Brown, early settler, founder of Brown’s Mills, Reedsville today. Brown was a leader during the Revolution and first judge of Mifflin County Courts.
Brown settled in the Kishacoquillas Valley in 1754, and in 1775 or earlier, established a grist mill where the village of Reedsville is today. A mill has operated on that spot continuously since that time. Reedsville was laid out in 1838 and named for early settler, James Reed.
Another settlement during the early years was Barrville, named for several local farm families.
A Pennsylvania Historical Marker is located on old US 322, .5 miles north of Reedsville. It was erected to Chief Logan on March 31, 1947 and reads: “Logan, son of Shikellamy, and famous Mingo chief, lived in a cabin near the spring opposite. It was his home from about 1766 to 1771, when he moved to the Ohio country.”
East Kishacoquillas Presbyterian Church, second church building in Mifflin County, was erected in Brown Township in 1777. Two years earlier, Rev. Philip Vickers Fithian preached here while on a missionary tour in the valley.

 

Menno

 

Menno Township was created in 1837 by a division of Union Township and named for Menno Simon, founder of the Mennonite religious sect.
The largest settlement in the township is Allensville, named for early settler Chris Allen, who bought land from Jacob King. Allensville originally was called Horreltown or Horrelton.
This tract of land was first granted to Andrew Montour, close friend of Chief Logan. This grant of land came from the colonial government as reward for service as an interpreter at the Grand Indian Council of Easton, Pennsylvania in 1758.
White Hall, the other Menno Township settlement, was developed after a store was opened in 1822 by John Lantz. The name “White Hall” came from the wide hallway in a small tavern located there that was annually repainted the same color, white.
The fourth church building in Mifflin County, the West Kishacoquillas Presbyterian Church, was built in what would become Menno Township in 1789.

 

Granville

 

Granville Township was formed in 1838. Its name is derived from two sources: Ft. Granville, frontier fort built in 1755 to protect the area during the French & Indian War and burned in 1756; the other was for Granville Penn, relative of William Penn.
Strodes Mills is located in both Granville and Oliver Townships. Isaac Strode was the first white settler in this area in 1766, but the village retained its name from the grist mill and sawmill Joseph Strode built in 1793.
Granville Township is the birth place of Daniel Dobbins, who migrated as a youth to Erie and from there traveled to Washington to persuade President Madison and his cabinet to defend Lake Erie during the War of 1812. During this war he oversaw the building of the USS Niagara, flagship of Commodore Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie.
The Dobbins family records indicate Daniel Dobbins’ homestead was on the south bank of the Juniata River in Granville Township.
Ft. Granville was located in what would become Granville Township. Two Pennsylvania Historical Markers were erected to the memory of the French and Indian War fort. One was dedicated on May 16, 1916 and reads: 
“About 650 yards south of this spot, on the high bank of the Juniata River, was the site of Fort Granville, which was erected in 1755-56. This forts was twice attacked by Indians. It was destroyed on July 30, 1776, when in command of Lt. Edward Armstrong, who was killed in the battle with a large body of French and Indians. The entire garrison was carried into captivity. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission in co-operation with the Committee of Historical Research of Mifflin County, 1916.”

 

This plaque is at 1200 W. 4th Street. (US 22/322), Lewistown.

 

The second marker was erected March 24, 1947 and states: “Erected in 1755-56 along the river just south. An important link in the chain of early frontier defenses. Destroyed July 340, 1756 by French and Indians under Capt. Coulon de Villiers.”
Hope Furnace, operated by William Lewis, for whom Lewistown was named, is located in Granville Township. Also in Strodes Mills, 4.9 miles southwest of Lewistown, is another historical marker erected August 21, 1947 to Juniata Iron: 

“Along streams of this region are ruins of many charcoal iron furnaces and forges built between 1790-1850. Juniata iron was the best in America. Its reign ended with the rise of coal and coke iron making."

 

Bratton

 

Bratton Township was created in 1859 from a portion of Oliver Township and named for Andrew Bratton, the first white man to settle this section of Mifflin County. He ventured into the area in 1755 along with brother-in-law Samuel Holiday. They left the area, but returned in 1762 with their families and other settlers. Holiday built a grist mill and later a sawmill, butcher shop, ferry service across the Juniata, a distillery, house and barn and established two orchards.
The first church building in Mifflin County was erected about 1776 on Andrew Bratton’s farm by a Presbyterian Congregation.
The Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad created stations at two other Bratton Township villages, Mattawana and Longfellow.

 

Boroughs in Mifflin County

 

McVeytown - Originally called Waynesburg, this borough was named for John McVey, who settled here in a log house in 1787. The borough began to grow when the Pennsylvania Canal reached Mifflin County in 1829.

Newton Hamilton - Incorporated in 1843, a settler named Hugh Brown originally lived on the land in 1762. He was killed by Indians and his half-sisters, named Hamilton, inherited the land. The Pennsylvania Canal also contributed to the growth of Newton Hamilton.  (Named after the town of Newton Hamilton in County Armagh, Ireland).

Burnham - Incorporated in 1910, this community was built around Freedom Iron and Steel. Originally called Logan, when a post office was to be opened there, the government found there was already a Logan, Pennsylvania. In 1887, the name was changed to Burnham, for William Burnham, an official at the Standard Steel Works.

Kistler - Incorporated in 1925, it was a community built for the workers of the Mount Union Refractories Company. Eventually, the citizens petitioned the court for their own government in 1925.

Juniata Terrace - This is the youngest borough in Mifflin County, incorporated in 1968. Originally it was the planned community for the American Viscose Corp. workers and was part of Granville Township.

Lewistown - County seat, it is the county’s largest borough. First settlers came to the area in 1754 following the Albany Purchase, the first known settler was Robert Buchanan.


The Indian village of Ohesson, home of Kishacoquillas, Shawnee chief, was first located where Lewistown is today. Later the settlement was known as Poketytown, Old Town and Kishacoquillas Old Town. Lewistown was named for local iron master William Lewis, operator of Hope Furnace.


In front of the 1840s courthouse, the county’s third, on Monument Square in the heart of Lewistown, an historical marker notes: 


“Mifflin County - Formed September 19, 1789 from Cumberland and Northumberland Counties, and named for Thomas Mifflin, Governor, 1790-99. County seat. Lewistown, was laid out 1790; incorporated 1795. Important in Pennsylvania’s canal development and early iron industry.”

 

Excerpted from:


Mifflin County: Yesterday & Today, Mifflin County School District, 1993

Places of Scenic and Historic Interest in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania, Mifflin County Historical Society, map, 1953

Guide to the State Historical Markers of Pennsylvania, PHMC, 1991

Data on this page was contributed by the Mifflin County Historical Society

 

Mifflin County PAGenWeb

 

       

 

  Josie Baughman, Mifflin PAGenWeb County Coordinator

 

Copyright 2004-2008, Individual file contributors.  All rights reserved.