Chapter XVIII - Maine Township
History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania
PREVIOUS to 1799, what is now Maine township was included in the ea- tensive territory of Catawissa; for nearly fifty years after that date the, portion adjoining Mifflin was embraced in that township, the western part of Maine still forming part of Catawissa. In January, 1844, by authority of the court, the township of Maine was erected, its boundary on the north being the. Susquehanna, and on the south-Catawissa mountain.
It comprises a beautifully diversified area. The distinguishing features in this respect are the bluffs which overlook the Susquehanna; the Mifflin valley in their rear, at the base of the Nescopeck mountains; the regular contour of this range, and its abrupt termination above the Catawissa creek; the valley of that stream, as it winds around the projecting spurs of the mountain of the same name, and the mine-gap road; where it ascends Catawissa mountain.
It was while this region was known as Augusta township, and included in, Berks county, that its first permanent settlers appeared upon the soil. In the year 1709 Samuel John emigrated from Wales to Uwchlan, Chester county. Samuel John, Jr., removed from his father's farm to Exeter, Berke county, and from this place, in 1772, his son, Isaac John, with Margaretta (Broug), his wife, having purchased three-hundred acres of land in the valley of Catawissa creek, removed, thus becoming the first residents within the limits of the township of Maine. During the summer of 1778 they were twice compelled to leave their farm, and, to increase their misfortunes, a loss of one-hundred pounds was incurred by the depreciation of Continental currency. They occupied a log cabin, a story and one-half high, the door being in the roof, and reached by a ladder within and one without. It seems almost incredible, but it is a well attested fact that a family of ten children was brought up in this house, one of whom, Abraham, was the grandfather of Wesley John, the present owner of the land on which it was situated.
Among those who followed Isaac John and pushed farther up the valley of the creek were Peter and John Elingaman, both of whom located in the vicinity of Mainville. Jacob Gearhart, from Allamingo, Berks county, made a clearing on the hill above the town. Jacob Bower, from Lehigh county, settled on a tract nearer the river. These persons were all in the region prior to 1808, and complete the number of early settlers. The route followed by them from the lower counties was the Reading road; from Catawissa a passage was opened by themselves into the valley of the creek at the gap between the Nescopeck and Catawissa mountains. John Hauck in 1815 erected the first iron furnace in Columbia county.
The advantages of this location were the water-power available, an abundant. supply of fuel and the short distance to the Reading road. The ore was brought in wagons from the bogs of Locust mountain; the most important deposit was situated near the present site of the town of Centralia. It was hauled through Roar
ingereek, and thence by the Mine Gap road to Hauck's furnace. It is said that at a spring at the foot of Catawissa mountain the teamsters were accustomed to pour water over the ore, in order to increase its weight. Such a deception could not be readily discovered, as the ore was naturally damp and heavy..
For several years this furnace was the Only one in Columbia county. Its product was sent to Reading to be forged and returned for local consumption. In 1821 1Ir. Hauck built a mill near his furnace, the first in Maine township. In 1831 Abraham Creesemer became proprietor of both. Harley and Evans in 1826 constructed a forge on the same stream. It was operated until 1883; but the furnace, abandoned as no longer profitable, had succumbed to decay some years previous.
The Mainville Mills, grist and saw-mills, J. M. Nuss & Son, proprietors.-The grist-mill was erected in 1814, and after nearly three-quarters of a century still remains. The edifice is 45x50 feet, and three stories and a half in height. The old process was used up to 1.885, but in May of that year the roller process was introduced, and the capacity of the mill is now fifty barrels per day. The miller is Nathan Houck, who has had an experience of twenty years in the business. The mill is conducted by John M. Nuss & Son, who have operated it since 1876. A saw mill, which is run during the winter and spring, is also operated by this firm.
The prospect of a successful manufacturing enterprise being established at MainviIle was not always as discouraging as it has finally become. From 1832 to 1838 the Catawissa rail-road was graded at various sections of the line in Maine township. The gap between Nescopeck and Catawissa mountains was crossed by a network of trestling, constructed at an enormous cost. Then the' work suddenly ceased. In 1853, nearly twenty years later, work was resumed and the road was completed. In the mean time, however, the bridge timbers at the Catawissa crossing had become so rotten as to necessitate the removal of the entire structure before even a track had been laid over it. A second railroad, the Danville, Hazleton and Wilkesbarre line, was built through Mainville some years later, and at a still later period the North and West Branch rail-road was constructed at the extreme northern boundary of the township,
on the southern bank of the Susquehanna. On the Catawissa railroad stations are located at Mainville and Forensty; on the Sunbury, Hazleton and Wilkesbarre road (so known since the sale and reorganization of the Danville, Hazleton and Wilkesbarre), at Mainville and Mainville Trestling. Mainville has in consequence a degree of business activity. The place comprises twenty dwellings, three stores, a lumber yard, school-house and church edifice, in which a Methodist congregation worships.
Previous to 1880 religious services were held in the school-building. At the Second Quarterly conference of the Mifflinville circuit, August 7, 1880, E. W. Low, Lafayette Creasy, J. J. Brown, C. L. Benscoter, J. D. Bodine-and J. W. Shuman were appointed a committee to erect a house of worship at. Mainville. John W. Shuman deeded ground for the location. October 10, 1881, work on the building was begun. , It was completed and dedicated the. following year. Reverend C. L. Benscoter, pastor at that time, has been succeeded by Reverends John W. Hoening and J. K. Dearor.
The oldest religious societies in Maine township are the Lutheran and Reformed. In 1813 they erected a rude log structure, the first predecessor of a. commodious church edifice which replaced it in 1877. The corner-stone was laid July 15th of that year, and the dedication occurred November 11th following. The corner-stone of the second church building was laid September 23, 1832. This edifice was dedicated January 16, 1833. The burial ground near the church was deeded by Henry Fisher, Peter Bowman, John Neuss and John Peiffer. In a cemetery adjoining, many of the first residents of the township are buried. These churches have generally been connected with those of the same denomination at Catawissa.
The primitive structure at Fisher's was used for school as well as religious purposes. In 1824 John Watts opened a school here, which was continued by different persons until public schools were established. In 1820 the first school in Maine township was opened by Jacob Gensel, near George Fleming's carding mill, on Scotch run. During the term ending June, 1, 1886, five teachers were employed for a term of five months, at an average salary of thirty dollars per month. This compares favorably with reports from wealthier and more -thickly settled localities.
SOURCE: Page(s)292-294. History of Columbia and
Montour Counties. Battle, J.H., Chicago: A. Warner, 1887. Transcribed by Nathan