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…bringing our past into the future

History of Lycoming County, Lloyd, Chapter 16


Mar 21, 2017




Muncy Creek Township is one of the oldest and, from a historical viewpoint, one of the most interesting in Lycoming County. It was set off from Muncy Township, the mother of all those lying north and east of the river, in 1797, two years alter the erection of Lycoming as a separate county. Within its borders some of the earliest settlements in the West Branch Valley were made. It is surrounded on the north by the river and Muncy and Wolf townships, on the east by Wolf and Moreland townships, on the south by Montour and Northumberland counties and on the west by the river which separates it from Clinton Township.

It is well watered, both the Big and Little Muncy creeks flowing through it. Glade Run also traverses it from south to north. It is the twentieth in size in the county and contains 12,800 acres. It lies on the east side of the great bend in the river where it sweeps majestically around the base of Bald Eagle mountain and the land in the immediate vicinity of this bend is of unsurpassed fertility. Close to the river, a short distance below the borough of Muncy, is located the famous Warrior Spring celebrated in song and story and which figured largely in many of the old Indian legends of the neighborhood. It was a favorite gathering place for the Indian tribes of that section and has been a well known landmark for more than a century and a half.

Near the spring is located the little settlement known as Port Penn which at one time possessed very considerable importance. It is one of the oldest hamlets in the county and near it formerly stood a great elm tree under the shade of which the Indians of the valley were accustomed to hold their great councils. During the old canal days Port Penn was the stopping place for the packet boats and boasted of having one of the best taverns along the line of the canal. It also had important boat yards. It was a noted place during the building of the canal and especially the Muncy dam, which was thrown across the river about three miles below for the purpose of flooding the canal level from there to Shamokin dam below Sunbury. Muncy dam was one of the most substantial pieces of engineering work in the state at the time of its construction and cost a large sum of money. Even the towing path which extended around the base of the Muncy hills from Port Penn to the dam cost the state the very considerable sum of $15,369.06.

The stretch of water from Port Penn to Muncy dam was a very important place during the old rafting days on the river. Scores of immense timber rafts tied up there, each waiting its turn to run the chute in the clam. There was a famous hotel of unsavory reputation located just above the dam which was a welcome resort for the red-shirted lumbermen while waiting their chance to “shoot the chute.” Gambling, drinking, prize fighting and other amusements of a like character were common occurrences. At this point there was also located at one time one of the most dangerous gangs of counterfeiters in the country. They made their spurious coin in a cabin back of the hotel and unloaded it on the rivermen. The gang eluded the officers of the law for a long time, but was finally run down, convicted and sent to prison. This place was also the scene of a serious riot during the construction of the canal which resulted in the killing of several men. Muncy dam has always been a favorite place for fishing and there is, perhaps even now, no place on the river where one can find better sport. While the canal was still in existence it was a famous place for eels. Baskets were placed at the head of the canal where the water flowed into it and as many as eighteen hundred eels have been known to have been taken in a single night.

Muncy borough is located within the limits of Muncy Creek Township and, aside from this, and the little hamlet of Pert Penn, there is only one village in the township, Clarkstown. This is located in a beautiful cove which opens into the Muncy Valley along the bank of Little Muncy Creek, a short distance above its confluence with the Big Muncy. Clarkstown is a very old settlement dating back to the eighteenth century. The early settlers were nearly all Germans of a sturdy character who soon became prosperous and some of them comparatively wealthy. In the early days the first improvements that were made were the building of grist mills, carding mills and churches and we find that Isaac Walton built the first grist mill on Muncy Creek near Clarkstown as early as 1797 and John Opp a wool carding and cloth dressing mill in 1812. Both were a great convenience to the early settlers.

The first church edifice to be erected within the limits of what is now Lycoming County was the Immanuel Lutheran at Clarkstown which was finished in the year 1791. There may have been earlier church societies, but this is the first church building of which there is any record. It was unusually large for that period, having a seating capacity of about five hundred. It was built of logs and then weatherboarded. There were galleries around three sides of the auditorium and a “stem glass” pulpit with a large sounding board above it. The backs of the pews were as high as a person’s head. Although it was erected entirely by the Lutherans, other denominations were permitted to use it. The church records were all kept in German down to the year 1832. It has twice been rebuilt or enlarged. In 18.32 a stone addition was erected which became the main church edifice and in 1871 it was entirely remodeled. The burying ground adjacent to the church is one of the quaintest and most interesting in the county and contains the remains of some of the most prominent of the early settlers. The whole surrounding country is filled with historic interest of the Indian and Revolutionary period.

Most of the land in Muncy Creek Township is very fertile and productive, although some of it is extremely hilly. There are some valuable deposits of minerals, noticeably a kind of silicic clay which is extensively used for paint fillers and the manufacture of some varieties of coach paint. Opps, near the Muncy Township line is the only post office in the township. In 1920 it had a population of 1,283.

Jordan Township. – Down in the extreme eastern end of the county there is a little triangular stretch of territory with Franklin Township on one side and Sullivan and Columbia counties on the other two. This is Jordan Township which was sliced off Franklin February 7, 1854. It was named for Alexander Jordan, who at that time was president judge of the county.

The character of the country is high and rolling with many deep ravines, but does not differ materially from that of the surrounding territory. It is occupied by a hardy, industrious and frugal set of people and its churches and school houses are of the very best. The first permanent settler was William Lore about 1812, who succeeded in founding a home in the wilderness after many hardships and privations. The eastern part of the township adjoining Columbia County, is the watershed from which Little Muncy Creek has its source It is the twenty-fifth in size in the county and has an area of 9,920 acres.

There is nothing to differentiate it from the adjoining town-ships as all are of the same general character as to topography and quality of the soil.

Unityville is the only village in the township and there are no industries located in the town except a grist mill. It is a pleasant place in which to live if one has plenty of leisure and is fond of the beauties of nature. It is prosperous because of the many well-to-do farmers who do their buying in the town. Jordan Township, 1920 had a population of 697 and is more thickly settled than the other townships in the immediate vicinity.

Wolf Township lies just east of Muncy and Mill Creek and has a very interesting history. It was taken from Muncy in 1834 and named for George Wolf who was then governor of the state. It is thirty-ninth in size and its area is 8,960 acres. Mill Creek runs through the lower end and is fed by several good sized streams. Wolf Township, like Armstrong, has the distinction of having had two boroughs erected within its limits, Hughesville and Picture Rocks.

David Aspen was the first settler about the year 1777 when it was a part of Muncy Township, Northumberland County. He had been a refugee at Fort Muncy at one time and then returned to his home to look after his property. Nothing being seen or heard of him for several days, a searching party was sent out and his dead body, tomahawked and scalped, was found at the door of his home. He is buried in an unknown grave and his antecedents are also unknown.

Abraham Webster was another of the early settlers. He came from England and located on what afterwards came to be known as Henry Ecroyd farm. One of his sons was killed by the Indians and two of his daughters were carried into captivity. One of the girls was thrown overboard from a canoe in Seneca Lake by the squaw to whom she had been given, because she became enraged at the girl for some reason. The other daughter was never heard from after she was taken away.

One of the first improvements in the township was a grist mill built by a Mr. Clayton in 1816. The history of Wolf Township is so interwoven with that of Muncy that a relation of it here would be only a repetition.

Wolf Township is well supplied with churches and its schools are of the best. A post office was established at Bryan-town April 8, 1892, but it is no longer in existence. At this place a man by the name of Bryan built a woolen mill in 1842 which is still in operation. Wolf Township had a population of 590 in 1920.

Mill Creek Township. -February 25, 1879, Judge Cummin, presiding over the courts of Lycoming County, upon petition, ordered that a new township be erected out of a portion of Muncy Township. This is the youngest of the family in Lycoming and was the last to be taken from Old Muncy which has given such a large progeny of lesser townships to the county. It was given the name of Mill Creek from the stream that rises in it and drains through it. It is the thirty-sixth in size and has an area of 8,000 acres.

Among the earliest settlers of what is now the township was Jonathan Collins who was a prominent man of his day. He was followed by the Nunns, Lockards, Moons, Merricks, Reeders and others.

The soil is about the same character as that of the surrounding territory and the population is wholly devoted to farming although lumbering operations were carried on extensively at one time. It lies directly north of Muncy Township between Upper Fairfield and Wolf.

The only village is Huntersville which is also the name of the post office which was established June 25, 1853 with Robert G. Webster as its first postmaster.

Mill Creek, like all the other townships in the county is well supplied with churches and good schools. It has a population of 277.

Penn Township. -Tobias and Isaac Kepner were largely influential in having Penn Township erected in 1828 and, having come from a place of the same name in Berks County they gave to it the name of the illustrious founder of the Commonwealth.

It is the twenty-third in size in the county and has an area of 10,880 acres. Columbia County bounds it on the east and Shrewsbury Township on the north. Wolf lies on the west and Moreland on the south. The elevation is high and the climate delightful in summer time. The surface of the township is generally rough and mountainous, making it poorly adapted for farming. At one time it was a great lumbering center.

The early settlers were among those who first came to Muncy Township, among them being Benoni Wiesner, Christopher Frey, Thomas Strawbridge, John Craft and Thomas Reed, names still well known in the community.

Church and school accommodations are of the best and the township is inhabited by a sturdy class of American citizens. A post office was established at Fribley June 26, 1873, but was abandoned on the advent of rural free delivery. There was also one at North Mountain but it, too has since been discontinued. At present there are post offices at Mawrglen and Tivoli. In 1920 the township had a. population of 658.

Plunkett’s Creek Township. -Colonel William Plunkett, a physician by profession, had rendered valuable aid to the settlers of the upper reaches of Loyalsock Creek and further down during the colonial period, and because of his medical skill was regarded as a valuable man in the community. In reward for these services be was given, a grant of land on Loyalsock Creek, although during the Revolutionary war his status was somewhat questionable, some regarding him as an outright tory.

In 1888 a wild and mountainous region near the mouth of Bear Creek was taken from Davidson Township in Sullivan County and Franklin Township in Lycoming and erected into a new township and when the time came for a name to be selected that of Plunkett was suggested. It met with determined opposition from John Barbour, one of the prominent men of the section, he claiming that Plunkett was not loyal to the colonies during the Revolutionary war. After considerable discussion, Barbour finally consented to the name if the word “Creek” was added. And so the township of Plunkett’s Creek came into being. It is the fifteenth in size and contains 17,600 acres.

It is a mountainous region and except along the creek bottoms is poorly adapted to farming. It was a famous lumber center in the days of that industry as some of the finest timber to be found anywhere grew on its mountains.

Both branches of Loyalsock Creek run through it and also Big and Little Bear and Plunkett’s Creek, all good sized streams.

Among the first settlers were Louis Donelly and Charles Smith who located near the mouth of Big Bear Creek at an early day. Subsequently John Barbour came to the mouth of Plunkett’s Creek and established a, settlement and his memory is perpetuated to this day in the village of Barbours which took his name. He was a public spirited citizen and built a school house, store and saw mill at the mouth of Plunkett’s Creek. Barbours was established as a post office July 19, 1839 and John Barbour was the first postmaster.

In 1868 a large tannery was erected in the township by Thomas A. Proctor and for many years did an enormous business, giving employment to a large number of men. The town of Proctor was named for the owner of the tannery.

Plunkett’s Creek Township, by reason of its many mountain streams and pure water, has always been a paradise for trout fishing and many club houses and summer cabins are located in the mountains and along the streams.

Churches and schools flourish in Plunkett’s Creek Township although, owing to the paucity of the population, not many are needed. In 1920 the township had a population of only 330.

Fairfield Township. -Lying north of the borough of Montoursville is a fair domain, well watered and well cultivated, which contains some exceedingly rich farms and is noted for the beauty of its scenery. It is known as Fairfield Township and it does not belie its name. There is no record of the date of its organization but it must have been about the year 1825. It was taken from a part of Muncy Township and is the twenty-ninth in size in the county and contains 9,067 acres and is practically of the same size as its parent. Its western border is washed by the waters of Loyalsock Creek and Muncy Township lies directly east of it. It extends down to the river east of Montoursville and there are many fine farms along the creek and river bottoms. There are no mineral developments of any great moment although limestone has been quarried and burned and there is a deposit of valuable white sand just below Montoursville which is owned and operated by the Lycoming Silica Sand Company.

Settlements were made early in the southern part of the township and Madame Montour’s Village and Fort Muncy were located close by. The great highway from Northumberland to Williamsport, now known as the Susquehanna Trail, passes through the southern part of it. Among the prominent men who lived in the township at an early day was Ex-Governor John Andrew Shulze who came there after his term of office had expired and built a fine mansion, in which he lived until his death. It was subsequently purchased by Charles Lloyd and, his brother, Colonel Thomas W. Lloyd, first, lived there for many years and died there. Henry Rawle at one time state treasurer, owned a fine home in Fairfield Township near the river and Charles Lloyd’s fine old mansion was also one of the show places of its day but was afterwards taken into the borough of Montoursville. There are no towns or villages in Fairfield Township except the small hamlet of Farragut on Loyalsock Creek where there is a store and church. Fairfield township is well supplied with good schools and its citizenry is principally engaged in farming. In 1920 it had a population of 368.

Upper Fairfield Township. -Lying directly north of Fairfield, and of about the same size, is Upper Fairfield Township. In 1851, when there were not as many roads through that section as now, the inhabitants petitioned the court to divide Fairfield Township into two parts as there was too much inconvenience for collectors and assessors in getting around. The petition was granted September 12, 1851, and a new township set off. It was at first given the name of Pollock in honor of James Pollock, who was then president judge of the county. After two years the people became dissatisfied with the name on account of the judge’s political affiliations and asked the legislature to change the name to Upper Fairfield which was done by act of January 29, 1853. It is the twenty-second in size in the county and contains 11,200 acres.

The surface of the lower part of the county is rolling with hills and mountains to the north. There are some fine farms especially along the creek bottoms and low lying lands. In the early days the northern part was covered by a heavy growth of timber and lumbering was the only industry.

Upper Fairfield was settled at an early day by a sturdy class of pioneers and many of their descendants still live in the township.

Loyalsock Creek flows along its eastern border and afforded a vehicle for floating lumber during the period of the ascendancy of that industry. There are two villages in the township, Loyalsock and Fairfield Center, both of them composed of houses with no industries, the population being wholly devoted to farming. According to the census of 1920 there were 542 in the township, not as many by two hundred as there were in 1880.

Shrewsbury Township is one of the oldest in Lycoming County, dating back to 1804, when it was separated from Muncy. It lies in the extreme eastern end of the county and is bounded on the north by Plunkett’s Creek Township and

Sullivan County, on the east by Sullivan County, on the south by Penn Township and on the west by Wolf Township. It was originally a very extensive territory, embracing not only that part of it which is now included within the limits of Lycoming County, but also a considerable portion of what is now Sullivan County, this having been detached in 1847. Its first loss of domain, however, occurred in 1836 when Plunkett’s Creek Township was formed. Shrewsbury is the thirty-fourth Township in size and contains 8,533 acres.

The suggestion of the name is attributed to Theophilus Little, Sr. The Little and Bennett families were among the earliest settlers, and as they came from Shrewsbury Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey, it is presumed that the name of their old home county seemed a suitable one for their new habitation, but it is very probable that the New Jersey Township took its name from the original borough in England called Shrewsbury and of which the famous John and Charles Talbot were both earls and dukes. Indeed, although many of the names given to the inland counties and townships of the state of Pennsylvania were brought to this section by those emigrating hither from New Jersey, Delaware and the settlements in the immediate neighborhood of Philadelphia, all of the names, except those given in honor of individuals who had rendered distinguished service either in the military or civil life of the state, can be easily traced back to English origin. Among such are the counties of Chester, Northampton, Lancaster, York and Delaware.

On the dividing line between Shrewsbury Township and Clinton County extends the great North Mountain, one of the most important spur ranges of the Appalachian chain. It rises to an altitude of 2,550 feet above sea level and from its summit one of the most entrancing views in this section of Pennsylvania may be had. Stretching away in all directions the low-lying hills seem like ocean billows as witnessed from some rocky shore along the Maine or Massachusetts coast of the Atlantic ocean.

In fact, the great mountain stands like a. magnificent barrier between the two counties of Sullivan and Lycoming, one side sloping away to the northeast into Sullivan County and the other to the southwest into Lycoming.

The North Mountain forms the great watershed of the Muncy Valley, Big Muncy Creek flows along the dividing line between Shrewsbury and Penn townships and the Williamsport and North Branch railroad follows closely along the creek. The smaller streams heading in the great North Mountain and draining the whole of Shrewsbury Township are Roaring Run, Big Run, Fox Run and Lake Run. They all rise within the limits of the township and flowing southward, fall into Muncy Creek

One of the most attractive portions of Shrewsbury Township is Highland Lake, located away up on top of the mountain near the northern border of the township and for many years a famous summer resort. Like Lewis lake at Eagles Mere, Hunter’s Lake above Sonestown, and Crystal Lake, it seems to be one of those curious formations of nature so many of which are to be found along the topmost range of the North Mountain.

The township of Shrewsbury was settled at a very early day by a number of adventurous pioneers, who came hither from the lower counties of the state to make a home for themselves in the then unbroken wilderness. Among the most notable of these early settlers was Peter Corson, who came from New Jersey in 1794. He became very active in the early development of the township and was closely followed by Owen Malone, Peter Buck and John Rynearson, all of whom have descendants still living in the township.

Although one of the oldest townships in the county, Shrews-bury has grown little in population since its first settlement. During the “boom” times, when lumber was the principal business of the Muncy Valley, that portion of the township lying along Muncy Creek, was a hive of industry and a number of saw mills and tanneries were kept busy for many years. But with the passing of the lumber industry the mills as well as the people passed away with it so that much of that section of the township is now only a memory.

Shrewsbury Township, however, will eventually become the location of many summer resorts as it possesses unsurpassed advantages in this respect on account of the healthfulness of its location and easy accessibility by rail. The township is well supplied with schools and churches.

It has a population of 330.

McIntyre Township. – In 1848 a large slice was cut from Lewis Township and that of McIntyre established. It was named for Samuel McIntyre, of Philadelphia, who was one of the original incorporators of the Williamsport and Elmira railroad. It is the second largest in the county and contains 46,260 acres. Tioga County adjoins it on the north. It is a mountainous region and although there is some farming land on the plateaus the soil is thin. Its early history is that of Lewis Township and it differs little from the surrounding territory except that coal deposits were found many years ago and the McIntyre Coal Company was opened and operated a few miles above Ralston for a number of years. Then the veins gave out and it suspended operations. Recently new veins-have been discovered and the company is again in operation. The coal is of the bituminous variety and is of fairly good quality.

Early settlements in the township were slow on account of the density of the wilderness. John Smithkontz and John Blackwell were the first corners. Iron was discovered in the mountains at an early day and a furnace was built below Ralston where the ore was smelted for some years. The Williamsport and Elmira railroad was built for the purpose of getting the manufactured pig iron made at this furnace to the canal at Williamsport. But the ore was not found in sufficient quantity to warrant a continuance of the business and the whole enterprise was ultimately abandoned. There was also a furnace at Carterville, a few miles above Ralston, but, after operating for a time, this too was abandoned. There is also a coal mine at Ralston operated by the Red Run Coal Company and valuable deposits of fire clay.

Ralston is the only town in the township. It is a post office, which was established May 5, 1838 and called Oakville. The name was changed to Ralston December 11, 1839 and the first postmaster was James Batchelor.

McIntyre Township was at one time the scene of some of the largest lumber operations in the county, but with the passing of this industry much of its prosperity vanished. It has been the scene of many ambitious industrial enterprises but most of them have proved failures.

Marsh Hill at the junction of the Pennsylvania and Susquehanna Railroads has become an important railroad center, but aside from this, there are no other towns in the township. Marsh Hill is a United States post office, established December 29, 1884 with W. K. Heylman as first postmaster.

The schools are of the very best of those in rural communities but the only church is at Ralston. In 1920 McIntyre Township had a population of 1,012 which includes the village of Ralston which is not an incorporated town.

Cascade Township, which adjoins Lewis on the east and extends over to the line of Sullivan County is the sixth in size in Lycoming County and has an area of 28,800 acres. It is one of the largest townships in the county.

The region is wild and mountainous, the only farming land being in the valleys and high plateaus. Burnett’s ridge extends across it from east to west for its entire width. This ridge was a famous landmark in the early days and was designated as a line of the Indian purchase of 1768. It was named for William Burnett, at one time governor of the colony of New York, and a prominent man in England during the reign of William and Mary. It takes its name from the numerous cascades which are to be found in the mountain streams which course through it.

It was not settled until 1843 when Michael Kelly, a sturdy Irishman, made his way into it. He blazed the road from Lycoming Creek for six miles so that he could drive an ox team along it, built a log house and engaged in the business of hauling logs to the nearest mill on Lycoming Creek.

Other settlers soon followed in the. wake of Michael Kelly, most of them Irishmen, who bravely battled with the hardships of the wilderness, built houses for themselves and reared families, many of whom have left a lasting impression on the history of the county.

Kellybury named after Michael Kelly is the only town. It has an imposing Catholic church which is the only place of worship in the township. The schools are all good and on a par with others in the county. Kellyburg is a United States post office, one having been established there July 25, 1866, with Michael Kelly as its first postmaster.

On account of the wildness of the territory Cascade had a population of only 532 in 1920 notwithstanding its large size.

SOURCE:  Page(s) 204-218, History of Lycoming County Pennsylvania, Col. Thomas W. Lloyd, Volume 1, Topeka – Indianapolis; Historical Publishing Company; 1929

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