From "The History of Columbia and Mountour Counties"
Battle, 1887
Chapter XII. (pages 75-118)

Old Presbyterian Church Cemetery

Danville - Part I

Part II

Nestling in the narrow yet rich valley of the Susquehanna is the borough of Danville, just now rounding out its first century. In its story is pretty much all that is of interest in our country since the establishment of our independence, that is, its growth and history are at least cotemporary with that of our present form of government. At the foot of the town flows the gentle blue Susquehanna, with picturesque Montour's Ridge winding by to the north; the stately and venerable Bald Top bracing its rocky supports up against the town itself, the Montour Iron Works crawling up partly on its feet, and sending its steam and smoke rolling gracefully up the hillside--Titan and Cyclops side by side. South of the river rises Blue Hill, and further along the river valley is Mahoning creek as it has cut its way through Montour Ridge, and empties itself in the river; and across the river to the east, the west, north and south, are as fine landscapes, as gentle, wild and varied scenery as the eye ever rested upon. Standing close up to the foot of Bald Top (the bare pinnacle can only be seen by ascending to it) it looks steep and rugged enough for a frowning fortress, grimly watching over the safety of its foster-child, Danville at its feet bustling with busy life and roaring and clanging its great machinery, while the beautiful valley, with its farms and groves and fruit and ornamental trees, stretches away in the distant quiet like a pastoral dream. Where, we know not, is there a spot that so combines the useful and the beautiful as this? Pass around to the southwest of Bald Top and you see the "Dark Ravine," and there is also the precipice that has been called the "Lover's Leap;" but as there are lovers' leaps elsewhere, and as lovers even of the pale face persuasion are now occasionally leaping for life in front of an irate boot or shot gun, the old stereotyped edition of the Indian legend is threadbare and tiresome.

The town was founded by Gen. Daniel MONTGOMERY, and at first his store, his father's grist-mill, on Mahoning Creek, and the half dozen cabins about it were called Dan's town--it thus became eventually Danville proper. The land embraced in the original town plat was 120 acres, extending from Chestnut to Church Streets and from the river to the base of Montour's Ridge, and was surveyed by George JEWEL, April 3, 1769. September 16 of the same year it was purchased of the provincial proprietaries by Turbut FRANCIS. In May, 1782, he sold to John SIMPSON. April 15, 1783, John SIMPSON and his wife (Ann GRIMES) conveyed the tract to William MONTGOMERY, consideration $600. The tract below Chestnut Street, including the mouth of Mahoning Creek, contained 180 acres and was a part of the proprietary manor (that is, lands reserved as private property by the Penns.) This tract was conveyed to Rev. Richard PETERS and John LUKENS.

The Delaware Indians had long hand a village at the mouth of Mahoning Creek. The Indian's instinct led him naturally to pitch his village of wigwams at what afterward was always an eligible town site for the whites. Nearly every great city on the continent was at one time a great Indian rendezvous, extending from New York to San Francisco and Vancouver's Island. An ancient and correct map of all the Indian places of great councils, dances and gathering place, would show a wonderful coincidence in their locations and the present great cities of the country. The early Indians were migratory, simply following the buffaloes, and to one understanding the habits of these animals, as they would gather in immense herds and start on their long voyages, and their peculiar maneuvers when coming to a river of stopping here for some time and finally, driven by hunger, they would begin circling and bellowing at the water's edge, each time as they came opposite the water the inner ones pushing those on the outer line nearer and nearer the water until finally into it, when one would take the plunge and start for the opposite bank and all would follow; and thus it was that the buffaloes were the engineers to the Indians, and the Indians in turn performed a like office for the whites.

On the north of the tracts above indicated the land belonged to John MONTGOMERY, and that on the northeast to Amos WICKERSHAM. Afterward these tracts became the property of the FRAZERS and the YORKS. The lands on the southeast belonged to the SECHLERS. These land titles fix pretty definitely the first owners of the lands now occupied by the borough, and also indicate some of whom were the first settlers.

Phillip MAUS, who came just after the close of the Revolutionary war, has left on record his first impression of the place on seeing it. He thought there were then about half a dozen cabins at what was then called "Montgomery's Landing." Soon after this it came to be known as the "Mahoning Settlement," and by this name it continued to be called until after 1792, when Gen. Daniel MONTGOMERY laid out the town. The territory embraced in his town plat was that now lying between Mill and Church Streets and from the river to the canal. In 1776 Gen. William MONTGOMERY had built his log house that stood so long as the first notable building in the place. It stood near the large stone mansion he afterward built that is still standing. In this log house Alexander MONTGOMERY was born in 1777, and by a singular coincidence, he died in 1848 in the room where he was born.

Jacob GEARHART had at an early day, established a ferry across the river. The ferry house stood a little above Ferry Street. This pioneer ferry was the first step taken toward building the present splendid bridge that spans the river.

John SECHLER, father of Jacob SECHLER, next laid out that part of the town above Church Street. The next land added to the town was by William MONTGOMERY, that part below Mill Street to Chestnut Street. It was of this addition he donated thirty lots for the purpose of an academy. He also donated the ground for the court-house. Gen. Daniel MONTGOMERY donated the jail lot.

The town was laid out by Gen. Daniel MONTGOMERY in 1792, as said above. The MONTGOMERYs were the sole spirits of its first formation and growth, saving the natural accretions of population drawn to this portion of the new purchase after that was made in 1868. The coming here of the earliest strong and influential men was due mostly to the misfortunes that then overtook nearly all the prominent actors in the Revolution, the financial ruin by the depreciation of the Continental money. This ill luck was the good fortune of Danville and what is now Montour County. When Daniel MONTGOMERY conceived the great idea of opening a store here in addition to his father's mill, there naturally opened to his mind the equally important proposition of laying off a town. He was then a very young man, but his vision was long ahead and clear. He could anticipate what was wanted, and set about supplying that want. A mill, a store, a place to buy and sell, a place to have bread ground without going all the way to Philadelphia or Reading, a trip then more tedious and difficult by far to make than to cross the continent now. were strong inducements to settlers. Soon after the store and mill were established, their existence here and the fact that this was Dantown, had its influence in bringing Mr. DEEN and his blacksmith shop--a convenience almost as great to the people as the mill and the store. Then the settlers north and south of the river began to make real wagon roads to reach the town and their wagons, whereas, before there was anything here to sell or any one to buy, they could make their rare trips to the place by means of the trails and paths along the devious way.

The mill, the store and the blacksmith shop continued so steadily to bring people into the wilderness that we find as early as 1806 the Government established here a postoffice. Then surely did the good people felicitate themselves--their lucky good fortune was about full and complete. Once a week, what a luxury, a pony mail passed to Sunbury and back to the old settlements and to Philadelphia and to all the world. The postage on a letter was then 25 cents. It took two weeks at the shortest to send a letter and get a return from Philadelphia or anywhere else, but what a vast improvement was that to these people hungry for news from friends, in the wilderness. Gen. William MONTGOMERY was the first postmaster. The fame of the new town began to then spread abroad in the land. In Scott's geography of 1806, he makes mention of it in these words: "A small post-town on the east branch of the Susquehanna, at the mouth of Mahoning Creek. A store, a mill, a blacksmith shop and a postoffice! No pent up Utica could contract her power," and therefore in 1807 the patriots of Danville and vicinity held a great Fourth of July celebration, and unconsciously they were blessed by the absence of fire-crackers and brass bands. In that day it was only supposed that preachers could speak in public, or at least that they were the only men that knew anything to talk about. Hence these poor fellows usually had to do all the public speaking, preaching and burying, and take their pay in the general gratitude, with a trace of dried beans, hickory nuts and coon skins to make caps for the boys of the household. But to return to our subject of Danville's first Fourth of July celebration. But few particulars of the occasion can now be learned. There was no permanent record made of it, and those who were present are now all dead. Gen. Daniel MONTGOMERY was president of the meeting; James LAIRD, vice-president, and Andrew RUSSELL, secretary. The remembrance of but one of the toasts offered has come down to us. This is interesting as indicating something of the politics of the early day. Jefferson and Hamilton had then joined issue on very much the identical questions that have divided parties from that time to the present. The two political parties were the Federalists and Republicans or Republican-democrats. In the year 1807 there was a slight defection, or a threatened split in the Democratic party in this State over the question of supporting Simon SNYDER. some favored SPOYD for the office and these were called in derision by the Regulars (now sometimes called Mossbacks or Stalwarts) "Quids." James BOYD offered the following toast: "The Quids--a jackass apiece to them, and a snail's horn for a spur, so that each mule may ride his own ass." (Great applause--all standing.) The string of the sarcasm in this was no doubt fully understood by those who heard it read. But this is not what we quote it for. It is something of an index of the political feeling here at that time. The people were generally Democrats. That is, with Jefferson they believed in the divine right of the people to rule themselves. The Federalists on the other hand desired to copy more closely after the British form of government--in other words, more power in the government--centralization. They believed that Jefferson was an irreligious and politically a bad man; they said he was fresh from France, where he had become imbued with the ideas of French revolutionists, infidels and all that was bad; that the government was at last the only safe power to trust, and that it was its province to regulate everything in politics, religion and social life. The ADAMSes, of Massachusetts, and Jefferson, of Virginia, represented these conflicting political ideas. In communities where there was a division on these political questions, passions ran high. In an old file of a Pennsylvania paper of about 1815, the writer of these lines read a long and verbose communication, giving an account of the local preaching having read the Sunday previous the proclamation of Madison, announcing peace between this These old fellows were a very religious, stern and dogmatic people. Their ancestors had been the victims of the most awful religious persecutions in the old world; they had been fugitives from the dungeons, the gibbets and the stake and faggot--ears cut off, tongues cut out, and branded as felons on the forehead--that is, those who had not been burned to ashes over slow fires. There was much iron in their blood, and almost any of them had been ever ready to die, without wincing, the most horrible death for opinion's sake. Their politics were but a second edition of their religion. And in either it was nearly impossible for them to tolerate any shadow of opposition to their cherished notions. Hence when political opinions were once formed they struck their roots deep in their strong natures. With an Eastern devotion they worshipped their political idols, and their hated enemies were little short of devils incarnate, and for them they seized the sword of gideon and smote his majesty hip and thigh. But in all of them, thank God, was an intense and consuming hatred of tyranny. This had passed down in their blood from father to son through generations, ever growing in its intensity and added powers. Here happily for us, for all mankind, were the seeds bearing the fruits of our nation's liberties.

We have stated the era of the coming of the mill, the store, and the blacksmith shop in the proper order of time and importance to these pioneer people. In our chapter on schools it may be seen that the schoolmaster and the itinerant preacher preceded even these prime necessaries. The little floorless, windowless, brush covered schoolhouse had been built, and here the master of the birch and ferule expounded the mysteries of the alphabet. The schoolteacher was an awfully great man, but he stood second to the preacher, great as he was. The average person at that time was of those who supposed all perfect wisdom was lodged in the preacher. Such hallucinations passing through the ages had made preachers very dogmatic in expressing their judgments and men very credulous in accepting them. The good man stood between God's flaming sword and poor, trembling, frightened humanity. By night and by day, on the roadside and in the dark wilderness, at all times and everywhere, he pleaded with God to turn aside the cup of bitter dregs from the people, and in his sermons he would confess with tears in his eyes, and with choking sobs, that God was inappeasable--that the furies of hell had been unchained for a thousand years, and they stalked over the land gathering human fagots for the eternal fires. Mill and store and blacksmith shop and teacher and preacher were all and each important things in their day, filling imperative wants in their time. They would all be very insignificant affairs now, but in their day and time they well performed the great part given them to do. Bless their shades!

Almost the first stroke of the woodman's ax disturbed the malaria of the valleys along the streams where it had brooded for perhaps ages, and sent it riding upon the wings of the wind carrying disease and death to the helpless people, making the doctor, his nauseous medicaments, his bleedings and hot-water, toast-water and elm-water a commanding necessity. Dr. FOSTER was the first, it seems, to heed the cry of these poor people, and came to Danville. Of his descendants are Mrs. Valentine BEST, now of Danville. And side by side, even before the first days of the "post town," had been prepared a little plot of ground for "the silent city," then a goodly distance from the town, now apparently nearly in its very center. Here "the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."

Before towns, mills, stores, blacksmith shops, schoolhouses or churches are provided, in all places in the world, wherever there is resident humanity, among the first is always the compulsory law of nature that compels a provision for a resting place for the dead. It is so written on the face of nature--the law of ceaseless change, from dust to life, from life to dust. Life, existence, death--change, change, change. The vast clock of God ticks off those inconceivable cycles of time, those immeasurable geological ages in one; the changes are the birth, the death, the decay--the smile of happiness, the sob of woe, but all is only change, eternal and ceaseless change; that is the economy, the very existence of nature, with the same laws everywhere in the universe applicable to everything animate and inanimate. It is nature's way as well as all creation's highway. Nothing is more common than death; it reaches everything, and being so, it cannot be an evil. It is a base and bad education that imbues the mind with terrors of its approach, that points it as the king of terrors, that thinks of it with loathing and horror. Because it may be sweet to live, it does not perforce follow that it is the one supreme bitter to die. Nature did not so make it. Anything so common, so universal, could not be so made. To the tired and exhausted form, what is so sweet as the approach of sleep, and death is but the dreamless sleep that, undisturbed, goes on forever.


We communed with the early dead in the old Presbyterian Church Cemetery the other day, wandering between the little mounds and the white slabs of marble, here and there, where first began to gather the denizens of "the Silent City" in this, then far away, wilderness. It was then outside, away out from the haunts of the living; now the little three-acre plot of ground is nearly in the center of the city of the living. It is now fenced up with a low brick wall upon two sides, a barbed wire fence supplanting the brick wall that encloses two sides, and a high board wall on the other sides, and the gates are securely locked, and no more interments are to be made there. Already some of the scared dust has been resurrected and removed to the newer place of burial, still away further upon the outside of the towns. Soon, no doubt, all will be removed.

Who was first buried here is not known. It is said the third grave dug in the place was to receive the body of poor CURRY, who was so brutally murdered by the Indians. The grounds have been well kept by the friends of the dead, but the first stones that marked the resting places are gone. The earliest legible stone now standing bears the date 1801. There are dates of earlier burials than this, but the stones were placed over them recently.

On many of the older stones the lettering is now very dim, and on some already illegible. So swiftly does time corrode and destroy the monuments builded by the hands. Nations, cities and bronze and granite monuments are but ephemeral things, and truly, as Lord Bacon has well said, the impressions of the types are the one enduring thing--they are like ships that sail between the vast seas of time, making one nation partake of the thoughts and illuminations of another. The poems of Homer have come down to us through nearly 3,000 years without the loss of even a syllable. The printed sheets of paper, the frail records of papyrus outlast the adamant, and are capable of being ever renewed, and these alone are self-perpetuating. Frail, valueless sheet of white paper, blown about by the winds; a flash of flame, and it is gone like the snowflake on the river, yet touched with the type and you are the one human contrivance that may outlast all other work of the human hands. Thus how wisely it is ordered; the humblest may have to their memory monuments that will outlive the pyramids or the costliest mausoleums ever reared to potentate or king.

There were certainly burials here prior to 1784, and yet, as we have said above, there is no legible stone in it of an earlier date than 1801, and it is not absolutely certain this date can be correctly read. We could find the names of but three persons who were present at the Fourth of July celebration, 1807. In passing through this old, first graveyard, it was suggested to our minds in reading the inscriptions that here we could almost call the roll of that meeting, and we noted the following: John SECHLER, died October 5, 1831, aged ninety-two years; Christina SECHLER, born January 11, 1750, died October 5, 1825; John SECHLER, Jr., died July 16, 1844, aged seventy-two years; Barbara, daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth SECHLER, died January 6, 1807; mother Elizabeth SECHLER died February 11, 1846; Sarah H. SECHLER, died November 4, 1849; Herman SECHLER, born October 4, 1793, died July 20, 1826; Jacob P. SECHLER, died July 31, 1842; Hannah SECHLER died January 7, 1829; Christina, wife of George BERT, died April 29, 1836, aged thirty-three years; Peter KOLB died January 5, 1845, aged seventy-four; Anna, wife of Thomas D. SIGLAR, died December 7, 1843; Rev. John PATTERSON, died May 8, 1843, aged seventy; his wife, Rebecca, died January 20, 1842, aged sixty; the son, John B. PATTERSON, died September 23, 1832 aged twenty one; John BOYD died August 29, 1801, aged twenty-four (the "01" is so indistinct that this is not certain); Gen. William MONTGOMERY died May 1, 1816, aged eighty; William MONTGOMERY, Jr., born January 8, 1784, died at the age of twenty-two years; General Daniel MONTGOMERY died April 30, 1831, aged sixty-five; his widow, Christina, died November 15, 1848, aged seventy-seven; their daughter, Isabella, born August 1794, died October, 1815; Daniel Strawbridge MONTGOMERY, died March 26, 1859, aged twenty-seven; Margaret (MONTGOMERY) WOODSIDE, born January 8, 1784, died aged twenty-two; Alexander MONTGOMERY, born October 8, 1777, died May 29, 1848; Sarah Caldwell WATSON, born May 13, 1815, died March 25, 1849; John THOMAS, born May, 1802, died August 7, 1855; John RUSSELL died June 6, 1851, aged seventy-three;; his wife, Catharine F., died April 27, 1846, aged sixty-six; of their children, Robert died September 26, 1816; James F., died July 11, 1841; Daniel Cameron died March 16, 1831, aged fifty-five; Catharine Cameron died July 11, 1849, aged ninety-two; Mary (CHILDS) CAMERON, relict of Daniel, born July 17, 1795, died July 14, 1873; John GULIC died November 2, 1837, aged sixty-six; Mary, his relict, died October 2, 1848, aged seventy-four; Isaac GULIC died April 29, 1862, aged sixty; Margaret, wife of John GULIC, born October 1, 1803, died October 20, 1855; Gilbert VORIS died March, 1797; Jane VORIS, October, 1816; James CHILDS, born June 16, 1793, died January 10, 1871; John CHILDS, born February 12, 1798, died December 12, 1867; Esther K. CHILDS died May 28, 1849, aged sixty-three; Margaret CHILDS died December 1, 1834, aged thirty-four; Mary GRAGG, wife of John CHILDS, died July 31, 1846, aged eighty-five; Andrew CHILDS died May 7, 1864, aged seventy-four; Elizabeth, wife of James CHILDS, born July 10, 1809, died October 11, 1875; James KREAPTION, born 1796, died July 13, 1875; Thomas JAMES died December 17, 1863, aged seventy-eight; his wife, Elizabeth, died October 12, 1865, aged seventy-two; James EVERETT died February 18, 1859, aged seventy-eight; his wife, Isabella, died January 19, 1849, aged seventy-one; their daughter, Fanny, died January, 1829; Obed EVERETT, born July 22, 1786, died March 30, 1852; Mary born November 20, 1789, died April 14, 1852; Daniel BARTON died April 27, 1808, aged seventy-one; his daughter, Emele, died November 5, 1819, aged thirteen; Thomas COUSART died August 29, 1853, aged fifty-nine; Robert CURRY, born December 21, 1775, died December 14, 1857; his wife, Mary, died November 21, 1848, aged fifty-seven; William CURRY born June 16, 1778, died November 9, 1852; Jane CURRY died April 21, 1825, aged seventy-five; Jane McWILLIAMS died August 4, 1808, aged thirty; Elizabeth McWILLIAMS died January 9, 1813, aged sixty-four; Mary, wife of William CALDWELL, died December 15, 1853, aged seventy-seven; Andrew CLARK, born in 1752, died in 1831; Mary, his wife, died August 3, 1806; their daughter, Florence, born May 19, 1792, died May 28, 1841; Catharine, consort of Orrin SHOLES, died June 8, 1826, aged thirty-eight; Bridget, wife of Cyrus SHOLES, died February 19, 1820, aged fifty-seven; Thomas LEMON died December 9, 1849, aged sisxt-two; James LEMON died January 6, 1843, aged thirty-seven; James LEMON, Sr., died December 11, 1842, aged eighty-five; his wife, Rachel, died August 21, 1840, aged seventy-five; William LEMON died January 3, 1847, aged thirty-eight; Lucinda LEMON died September 3, 1849, aged twenty-two; John McCULLOUGH died November 15, 1832, aged fifty-two; Jane (CRAWFORD) MCCULLOUGH died September 12, 1853, aged sixty-six; George MILLER died October 20, 1843, aged sixty-three; Edward HATHAWAY, born November 1819, died December 8, 1875; Peter BLUE died March 19, 1826, aged seventy-four; Mary (his wife) died September 28, 1838, aged seventy-nine; HON. William MONTGOMERY, son of Edward William, died January 8, 1846, aged seventy-three; his wife, Jane, died October 29, 1807; Daniel W. MONTGOMERY, son of William, died August 28, 1830, aged thirty-nine; Capt. John S. WILSON, died at Vera Cruz, April 12, 1847, aged thirty-five: He was Captain of the Columbia guard; Joseph CORNELISON, born May 17, 1789, died August 18, 1851; Lettia CORNELISON, born July 7, 1778, died September 16, 1863; Sarah CORNELISON, wife of E. ADAMS, died September 13, 1852, aged twenty-seven; on a broken stone that lies prone upon the ground is this: "Anna GRIER departed this life September 10, 1828;" [sic] Robert C. MCWILLIAMS died March 4, 1832; Daniel FRAZER died March 26, 1828, aged seventy-two; his wife Isabella, died January 19, 1856, aged seventy-nine; Jane died January 2, 1828, age twenty; Margaret died March 19, 1824, aged twenty-six; James died March 19, 1836, aged thirty-six; Jacob SHULTZ died August 13, 1863, aged sixty-nine; his wife, Elizabeth, died August 26, 1858, aged fifty-five; Elizabeth, wife of Jacob SNYDER, born May 19, 1827, died October 2, 1853; Hugh MCWILLIAMS, born 1799, died 1877; John SUNDRY, born July 22, 1799, died September 17, 1858; Stuart CORNELISON, born May 12, 1831, died July 30, 1881; Benj. GEARHART died October 22, 1865, aged sixty-one; Mary GEARHART died November 12, 1867; Benjamin GEARHART died February 22, 1854, aged forty-four; Abner PITTNER died October 21, 1867, aged fifty-three; Mary, his wife, died August 22, 1867, aged fifty-eight; John T. NERVINE, born July 6, 1829, died November 13, 1872; Phoebe Agnes, wife of Isaiah BLUE, died January 28, 1864, aged twenty-nine; Lucinda, daughter of John H. RUSSELL, died April 14, 1851; Margaret, daughter of Alexander and Jane MONTGOMERY, died March 18, 1876, aged fifty-eight; Jane BOYD, relict of Alexander MONTGOMERY, died March 8, 1876, aged ninety-three; John BEST, born February 20, 1799, died December 19, 1870; Mary, relict of Andrew RUSSELL, died November 11, 1866, aged eighty; Robert G. RUSSELL, died August 15 1872, aged fifty-three; Valentine BEST, born March 8, 1801, died October 28, 1857; John C. BOYD died October 18, 1849, aged fifty-six; Hannah M. BOYD, his widow, died December 24, 1864 aged sixty-four; Charles R. REYNOLDS, born September 12, 1818, died May 7, 1842; Ann Maria REYNOLDS, born September 13, 1820, died January 2, 1839; Thomas REYNOLDS, born February 10, 1788, died August 8, 1880; Mary M., his wife, born May 20, 1791, died January 6, 1877; James N. NOLAN, died March 31, 1857; Hannah BLUE, born May 10, 1788, died April 6, 1870; John BLUE, born March 7, 1788, died September 25, 1861; James VORIS died May 24, 1866, aged seventy-eight; Anna Gray VORIS died April 26, 1881, aged ninety-two; John VORIS died April 5, 1848, aged thirty-five years, ten months; Elizabeth (GULIC) WAGNER died October 27, 1842; Abraham GULIC died March 4, 1852; Priscilla GULIC died March 4, 1852, aged seventy-five; Daniel CAMERON died March 16, 1834, aged fifty-five; Catharine GULIC died January, 1840, aged ninety-two; Robert MOORE died March 20, 1871, aged sixty-six; Hugh McBRIDE died December 2, 1808, aged sixty-eight; Mary McBRIDE died December 3, 1818; Nathaniel McBRIDE died June 30, 1821, aged fifty-seven; William GARRETT, died September 20, 1842, aged fifty-nine; Sarah, his wife, died June 5, 1856, aged sixty-six; Elizabeth ROSS, born April 11, 1761, died June 26, 1816; Jane ROSS, died July 1, 1820; David MOORE, born May 10, 1765, died March 12, 1829; Mary, born May 7, 1773, died August 16, 1825; M. C. GRIER, died December 25, 1878, aged seventy; Isabella, J. M., died June 12, 1850, aged thirty-eight; John M. MULFINGER, born 1809, died May, 1869; Thomas HAYS, died May 15, 1840, aged thirty-five; George GEARHART, son of George and Phoebe, died May 17, 1817, aged seventy-eight; Phoebe GEARHART, died June 21, 1845, aged fifty-two; Achsa GEARHART, died March 13, 1813, aged thirty-two; William C. GEARHART, died September 15, 1834, aged thirty-four; John FRAZER, died August 1821, aged seventy; Mary, his wife, died 1823; Eleanor, wife of George WILSON, died October 1, 1827, aged sixty-six; Rudolph SECHLER, born February 22, 1773, died June 26, 1857; Susanah SECHLER, died September 20, 1871, aged ninety years, nine months, two days.

The first rush of immigration to this portion of Pennsylvania had been effectually stopped by the incursions of hostile Indians. The Wyoming massacres are a shocking chapter in the history of that time. The first wave of pioneers had but touched this outer border when the mutterings of the swarming red devils from their hilly fastnesses sent the wildest alarms among the hapless and helpless settlers. Danville was perforce deserted, and the most of the people went to the forts for protection. This was a serious loss to the people; it was precious time to them gone in the clearing of their little truck patches, and preparing homes and providing food for their families. It must have taken some time to partially make amends for the sacrifices they made. This seriously retarded the early growth and building up of the town. Thus the eighteenth century passed and the present dawned, and six years of this century had come and gone before a postoffice was established in the place. Its growth was uncertain and slow until 1828. The produce of the farmer was at low prices and far from markets, with but the most primitive means of transportation over the most difficult highways. Gen. William MONTGOMERY had had a grate made in his house after his own original idea, and was practically showing his neighbors that coal could be used as fuel. The avenues of commerce here had not then been opened. The people rafted lumber or rather logs down the river, and for some time this was practically the only real commerce carried on. Early in the twenties the subject of a canal began to be talked about in a vague, indefinite way. The people had never heard of a railroad. They had only just heard of the steamboat, but their information and ideas of it were vague and nebulous. But the canal they understood and fully appreciated. It was the great and perfect highway to the markets of the world. The most daring thinkers of them no doubt anticipated the day when steamboats would ply the waters of the Susquehanna.* [Footnote: In 1824 the "Cordorus," a little steamboat, actually arrived at Danville on an experimental trip up the Susquehanna. The town rejoiced, and a great holiday was had; the officers were fed and toasted at the old Cross Keys Hotel that stood on the bank of the river. Everybody attended, everybody rejoined--the long night had broken away. The boat proceeded on her way to Berwick, and there exploded her boilers, killing some of the crew. The boat and the bright vision of navigating the river were gone, never to return.] But from these day dreams they would ever turn to the subject of a canal to Danville. This was the golden probability that argued itself into certainty at last. About the year 1820 the subject of a canal began to be seriously agitated. In 1826 the State entered upon a system of internal improvements. Gen. Daniel MONTGOMERY, most fortunately, was that year appointed one of the canal commissioners, and became president of the board. In 1826-27 the canal was surveyed and located, and in 1832 the water was turned in--the canal was completed. And the great era in the history of the town then dawned--the year 1832.


Mr. John FRAZER removed from Danville in 1831, and on the fiftieth anniversary of his departure for "my own, my native land," he jotted down his recollections, and the picture he recalls of the people of that distant day is very interesting. The following is the substance of his recollections:

"The population of the village was then 740; the buildings numbered eighty; most of these were dwelling-houses on Water, Market and Mill Streets. They were bounded by the river, Church Street, Sechler's Run and Factory Street; these limits were very much less than the present area of the borough. They were chiefly frames, but many of the primitive log buildings yet remained. The brick buildings were the courthouse, GOODMAN's Tavern, Dr. PETRIKIN's and Mr. FRICK's residences and Mr. BALDY's store. Subsequently many brick structures were erected, all, or nearly all of which remain.

"The pursuits of the citizens were confined too the ordinary mechanical trades, the professions, and, for so small a population, a large amount of merchandising. There was scarcely a germ of the manufacturing interest which has grown to be of such vast importance since that day. About 1817, on Market Street, near Pine, William MANN manufactured nails in a primitive way by hand. The bars or hoops of nail iron were cut by a machine worked by a treadle with the foot, and by a second operation the heads of the nails were formed by a glow or two with a hammer; by unremitting industry, I suppose a workman could produce as many nails in a month as one can now, but the aid of machinery, in a single day. And this simple, modest manufacture was the precursor of the immense iron manufacturers of the present time, which has earned for the place a high reputation excelled by few in that industrial pursuit, and it has been the cause of the rapid increase of the population of the place, so that it now more than equals all the residue of the county.

"The nucleus of the settlement, around which the accretion of population was subsequently gathered, was American, originating during the last two decades of the last century by emigration from southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Sunbury and Northumberland. To these were added, from time to time, European emigrants--chiefly German, British, Irish and Swiss, a few French and Dutch, possibly some Danes and Swedes. Of British emigrants up to that date I do not recollect a single Welshman, although they soon after became a most important element of population employed in the iron manufacture. These apparently discordant elements soon yielded too the potent attraction of association, so that early in the present century the homgeneity of the young and vigorous community was assured. Seldom did any people enjoy a more happy harmony. This uniformity extended both to religion and politics. They derived their revealed theology from the Bible, as expounded by the followers of Calvin and Knox; their moral theology from the Presbyterian pulpit, the Westminster catechism, and, to no inconsiderable extent, from Milton's 'Paradise Lost,' which was received as a commentary by some, as a supplement by other. With what awe they read:

" 'Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress' was also a work of great authority. The libraries were very limited; neither Aristotle, nor Pliny, nor Buffon were in demand; but 'AEsop's Fables,' 'Weem's Life of Washington,' 'Cook's Voyages,' and 'Riley's Narrative' were among the most popular books for miscellaneous reading. 'Shakespeare's Plays' were placed on the index purgatorius by some, and few advocated their general use. The venerable Dr. NOTT, who was president of Union College for the unprecedented term of sixty-two years, used to say to the students: 'If you want to get a knowledge of the world and human nature, read the Bible; but if you will read any other books, read Homer and Shakspeare. They come nearer Moses and Paul than any others I am acquainted with.' ;Fox's Book of Martyrs' was esteemed a much more suitable book for youthful readers than the great English bard; they were also allowed that most captivating of boys' books, 'Robinson Crusoe.'

"All were not Calvinists; yet, under the wise and judicious pastorate of that good and faithful shepherd, Rev. John B. PATTERSON, ever honored for his blameless life and unostentatious piety, they were kept within one fold and one baptism until the close of his long ministry. He was occasionally aided by pastors from neighboring towns. I can now recall the names of Rev. Messrs. DUNHAM, William SMITH, Nicholas PATTERSON, Isaac GRIER, John BRYSON, and HOOD.

"The Rev. William B. MONTGOMERY and his wife, nee Jane ROBINSON, of the Presbyterian Church, the devoted missionaries to the Osage Indians, had recently departed for Union Station, the scene of their labors, which then seemed to us tenfold more remote than Japan does now, and took a longer time in journeying thither. For more than thirty years they labored there, under great privations, until they both fell victims to epidemic cholera

"For a number of years the followers of Wesley increased in number, and through the zeal and labors of William WOODS, William HARTMAN, William WHITAKER, of the village, Judge Jacob GEARHART, of Rush Township, and others, a church was established about 1815. It was supplied by itinerant preachers. Of these, I can now only recall the name of Rev. George DAWSON. There was a local preacher, SIMONS by name, who occasionally exhorted and preached at his own house, on Market near Church street. I well remember the appearance of these devoted itinerant preachers in their journeys around the circuit, with their jaded horses, their portmanteau and umbrella tied on behind their saddle, and hat covered with oil cloth to protect it from the storms, and their extremely plain garb, such as I saw Lorenzo DOW wear at a subsequent date.

"The Catholics, now so numerous, were scarcely known as sectaries, Michael RAFFERTY and Francis TRAINOR being the only two I can recollect. The Rev. Mr. KAY, a Socinian or Unitarian, preached at times, but without making proselytes. The Rev. Mr. SHEPHERD, a Baptist of the Campbellite portion of that sect, preached occasionally. He was an eloquent and popular divine. There were a number of Lutherans, to whom Rev. Mr. KESLER, from the vicinity of Bloomsburg, preached a long intervals. The Episcopalians were not numerous, and it was suggested that they and the Lutherans unite and form a union church; but this was impracticable, and the former erected, own, and occupy the church edifice on Market Street, on ground included in what at an early day was called Rudy's woods. These sectaries were all destitute of church buildings except the Grove Church. This was the spacious log church, built more than forty years before the time of which I write, in the form of a T, and was amply large for the congregation. Besides the sects named I can recall none others of that date. The old log church had recently been demolished and F. BIRKENBINE was building a brick church edifice under a contract with James DONALDSON, Robert CURRY, Robert C. GRIER, Herman SECHLER and John C. BOYD, the trustees, for the consideration of $1,775.

"The social relations of the community were eminently pacific and cordial, doubtless promoted by the matrimonial unions between members of the several very large families of some of the early emigrants. The MONTGOMERYs, of whom there were two brothers--Daniel MONTGOMERY the elder, and his brother Gen. William MONTGOMERY, whose sons were Gen. Daniel, Col. John, and Alexander. The son of the senior Daniel MONTGOMERY was Judge William MONTGOMERY. The WOODSIDE family was a large one, consisting of Thomas, Archibald, John, James, Daniel, William and Robert; of the MOOREs--Asa, John, Abner, Burrows, Samuel, Charles, Andrew Y., Edward S., and several daughters; of the MAUSES--George, Elizabeth, Philip, Susan, Samuel, Lewis, Charles, Joseph and Jacob W.; of the SECHLERS, I recollect Rudolph, George, John, Jacob, Samuel and Harmon. At a later date came Mrs. CORNELISON and her children: Joseph, William, Jacob, Isaac, Cornelius, James, Ann and Mercy; of the WHITAKERs--John, Thomas, William H., Irwin, Jane, Elizabeth, Polly, Nancy, Fanny and Juliana; William WILSON, the long time justice of the peace, with a large family of eleven children and their descendants, now numbering about 100. there were also the CLARKs, GEARHARTs, GASKINSes, BLUEs, RISHELs, PHILLIPSes, DIEHLs, SANDERSes, FOUSTs, FRAZERs, DONALDSONs, WILLITSes, and BREWERs.

"Many of the pioneer customs still prevailed. Manufacturers of the most pressing necessity were found in almost every household: the spinning-wheel for tow and flax; the big wheel, as it was called, for woolen yarn. These were woven in the place, and made into clothing at home, and most of the villagers and their children were clad in these domestic suits. The tailor and shoemaker itinerated here and in the vicinity and were almost constantly employed. A dwelling without a detached bake-oven would have been deemed incomplete; there were no bakers by profession, and of necessity each housewife was her own baker. The Franklin stove and the six-plate stove were still in use; the ten-plate stoves had recently been introduced and were a great improvement on the former, as much so as the palace cook and heater are upon the latter. Our stoves were then manufactured by Mr. HAUCK, and bore the legend, John HAUCK, Catawissa Furnace; and it was one of the mysteries that troubled the brains of the boys, how it ever got there in iron letters, as much as did the effect of the music of Orpheus, which 'drew iron tears down Plato's cheek.'

"By industry and frugality the people lived in comparative comfort, paid their preacher and school-master promptly, and their printer as soon as convenient, thereby preserving a good conscience and securing peace of mind.

"The school-master was abroad. Thomas GRIER taught a classical school and prepared boys for college. Stephen HALFF also taught a private school, and Rev. Mr. PAINTER was principal of the Danville Academy, then a new institution. The predecessors of these were Master GIBSON who taught in the old log schoolhouse near the first edifice of the Grove Church; Messrs. Andrew FORSYTHE, John MOORE, Thomas W. BELL, Don Carlos BARRET, an eminent teacher; John RICHARDS; Samuel KIRKHAM, the distinguished grammarian, and Ellis HUGHES, a most competent and successful educator, favorably remembered by many of his pupils still living.

"The houses were then chiefly on Water, Mill and Market Streets, and with scarcely an exception, had gardens attached to them, with a portion of each allotted to flowers. The damascene rose, guelder rose, flowering almond, peony, narcissus, lilac, lily, pink, and other familiar floral productions were wont to ornament it and make it 'unprofitably gay.' The boys, after school hours, often reluctantly, tried their 'prentice hands at horticulture, and the most onerous part of their labor was the removal of the water-worn stone, rounded by attrition in by-gone antediluvian ages, in oceanic currents. They abounded on Market Street lots and other elevated portions of the village. Doubtless by this time a succession of youthful gardeners have removed them all and made horticultural pursuits less laborious.

"Amongst other amusements the boys enjoyed skating, sledding, sleighing, nutting, trapping, fishing, playing ball, bathing in the river and in the Mahoning; in the latter, west of Factory Street, hard by a buttonwood or sycamore, was a famous bathing place. Flying kite and playing marbles in the spring, were not forgotten. All these afforded them the needed recreation from study and labor.

"But I must not omit the muster days of the military. The old Rifle Blues was one of the oldest, if not the oldest, volunteer military organization of all the boys of the place, and their parades were gala days. The Columbia Guards was a fine company of infantry, numbering over sixty, commanded by Captain James CARSON. The train band, Captain YORKS, was also one of the institutions of that day. The regimental musters were generally held at Washingtonville, and drew together crowds of spectators to witness their grand maneuvers, discuss politics and tavern dinners.

"The Watchman was then the only newspaper. George SWEENY, the veteran editor, was its proprietor. He had published the Columbian Gazette in 1813, which was succeeded by the Express, by Jonathan LODGE in 1815, and afterward by LODGE & CARUTHERS. The Watchman was established in 1820. It was published on market Street, east of Ferry, and had a sign in front of the office, upon which was painted the head of Franklin with the legend from Milton, 'Where liberty dwells, there is my country.' There were then few painted signs in the place, and this one was very conspicuous. Although the Watchman was not half the size of the American it was esteemed a grand journal, and had great influence in the politics of the county. It was made up chiefly by copy from other papers, and seldom contained editorial articles. Readers were not so exacting then as in these ladder days.

"The politics of the village like those of the county, were largely Democratic. What Democratic principles were I had no very definite idea, but had a vague impression that they were just the reverse of Federal principles, and I suppose that this negative definition quadrated with the ideas of the dominant party. State politics absorbed the attention of politicians and banished from their minds national politics to an extent that must have gladdened the hearts of those stolid politicians, the States' rights men. I remember how a villager pertinaciously urged the nomination of Gen. Jackson for governor, and he honestly believed that the gubernatorial honor was the highest that could be conferred upon the old hero.

"The members of the bar were a few in number. Ebenezer GREENOUGH had recently removed to Sunbury. Judge GRIER, from his profound legal attainments and fine scholarship, stood at the head of his profession. Alem MARR, the pioneer lawyer, was a good classical scholar and a graduate of Princeton. He represented the district in Congress in 1829. LeGrand BANCROFT was district attorney. The other members were George A. FRICK, William G. HURLEY, John COOPER, James CARSON and Robert McP. McDOWELL. A short time subsequently John G. MONTBOMERY, Paul LEIDY and Joshua W. COMLY were added to the number. All of them are deceased except the latter.

"The medical men were not numerous. The first in the place was Dr. FORREST, the grandfather of Mrs. Valentine BEST; his successor, Dr. BARRETT; his, Drs. PETRIKIN and DANIELS. At the period of which I write there were also Drs. McDOWELL and MAGILL. The latter was then a young practitioner in the beginning of his long and successful career, and now remains, beyond the age of four-score years, the honored head of the profession, which has increased fourfold since he became a member of it. And now Danville began to rear medical men of her own. Herman GEARHART and Alexander C. DONALDSON were initiated into the profession under the tuition of Dr. PETRIKIN. At the same time Samuel MONTGOMERY and Matthew PATTERSON were divinity students. John MARTIN was a law student in Mr. MARR's office, and subsequently practiced in Clearfield County.

"Gen. Daniel MONTGOMERY was the first merchant, but, having acquired a fortune, was now residing on his fine farm a mile or two above town. His cousin, Judge William MONTGOMERY, an old citizen, was now the oldest merchant, with his store corner of Mill and Market Streets and his residence on the opposite corner. He bore his full share in the burden of improving and bettering the condition of his fellow-men; was one of the pillars of the church and founder of the first Sunday-school when many others, if not opposed to it, aided it only in a perfunctory way, and he lived to see it permanently established. Peter BALDY, though still a young merchant, was engaged in an extensive business and dealt largely in grain. He commenced in the old log building which had been occupied by KING & HAMILTON; from thence, he removed too his well known store on Mill Street where he continued his business for half a century, when he retired, having accumulated a fortune. The other merchants were John MOORE, John RUSSELL and William COLT, all old and esteemed citizens; and William BICKLEY, BOYD & MONTGOMERY, John C. & Michael C. GRIER, and Michael EPHLIN who had more recently engaged in business. Mr. LOUGHEAD had retired from business to devote his time to the post-office, and Jeremiah EVANS had recently moved to Mercersburg.

"The old Cross-Keys tavern, kept by Mrs. Jemima DONALDSON, was the best in the county and it is doubtful whether it has been surpassed to this day. The Union Hotel, the first three-story brick building and the best one in the place was built and kept by Philip GOODMAN. John IRWIN kept a tavern corner of Market and Ferry Streets; and the most ancient hostelry of them all, the Rising Sun, the old red house at the foot of Mill Street with the walnut tree at the door, and its crowd of devotees of Bacchus who made it resound with

"The Ferry tavern by George BARNHART, where I often hurried by, fearing the sound of the fiddle, judging that old Satan could not be far distant from the violin, thus condemning that first of musical instruments, from its association with much that is vile. Then there was the Jackson tavern, Mill Street near Mahoning, by William CLARK, a soldier of the Revolution, with the likeness of Gen. Jackson painted on its sign, thus superseding that of Washington, as the latter in its day had replaced that of George III, tempori parendum. The taverns then had a monopoly of retailing intoxicating liquors, dealing them out by the gill; and rye whisky was the chief liquor used, and doubtless was less hurtful than the villainous compound now sold under that name. Some who then indulged in 'potations pottle deep' nevertheless attained a great age; when any one of them was warned against indulging too freely in it, as it was a slow poison, he replied that he was aware of that for he had been using it sixty years and it must be very slow. The coffee-houses, now destitute of coffee, the saloons, groceries and other refined modern drinking places were then unknown. In addition to these taverns Mrs. SPENCE kept a boarding house, and had for her guests some of the most respectable people of the place.

"Amongst the active and industrious citizens were the blacksmiths. John LUNGER was one of the earliest, and had a shop on Ferry Street. John DEAN's smithy was on Market near Ferry Street, where by many and well-directed blows he hammered out a fortune. Joseph CORNELISON's was on Mahoning near Mill Street.

"George McCULLEY was one of the pioneer carpenters and removed to Ohio, near Wooster, where some of his descendants still reside. Daniel CAMERON, a worthy Scot and the great pedestrian who walked from Harrisburg to Danville in a day without deeming it any great exploit, was a skillful carpenter and builder. Adam SCHUYLER and George LOTT were also engaged in that business.

"The chairmakers were William HARTMAN who was also a wheelwright, and the brothers KIRK. William MANN was also engaged in that calling for a year or two.

"Shoemakers--William WOODS, Gideon MELLON, Henry SANDERS, Thomas WILEY.

"Tailors--William M. WILEY, who removed to Harrisburg; William WHITAKER, Amos E. KITCHEN. William INGOLD was a vagrant workman who plied his needle at the houses of his employers, and was noted for his quips and quirks and idle pranks, whereby he amused and often astonished the boys of the village.

"Honest John REYNOLDS, from Reading, was the veteran hatter, who for long years supplied men and boys with hats. Martin McCOLLISTER was a more recent and very skillful workman.

"Thomas BLACKWELL carried on the fulling-Mill and saw-mill near what is now the junction of Mill and Bloom Streets.

"The first brewer was Richard MATCHIN. The citizens of that day were not, as we now phrase it, educated up to a due appreciation of that beverage, consequently it proved less profitable than brewing lager, weiss and buck beer at the present time.

"George WILSON was the first cabinet-maker, and some of his substantial old-style furniture has survived to the present day. Burrows MOORE was long engaged in the same business.

"The Scotch weavers had been famous in the early days of the settlement. Of those who were engaged in the business fifty years since I can now only recall the names of Christopher SMITH and Peter GOODMAN. The latter was a most respectable and industrious German from the Fatherland.

"Coppersmiths and tinners--Alexander WILSON, James WILSON, John C. THEIL.

"Watchmaker and Jeweler, Samuel MAUS.

"There were several saddlers--Alexander BEST, Hugh FLACK, Daniel HOFFMAN, and possibly others.

"Rifles were in demand, and had always been much used by the pioneers. These were supplied by Samuel BAUM and George MILLER; the son of the latter succeeded him and still continues the business.

"Of public functionaries, we had but few, and their removals were few and far between. In the language of an eminent statesman it might then have been truly said: "Few die and none resign." Judge Seth CHAPMAN was long the presiding judge of our courts. He was a man of moderate legal attainments, yet he made a good presiding officer. He was assisted by his associates, Judges MONTGOMERY and RUPERT. George A. FRICK was prothonotary, having been appointed to that office by Gov. SNYDER in 1813.

"William WILSON, Rudolph SECHLER and Joseph PRUTZMAN were the justices of the peace; Andrew McREYNOLDS, sheriff; Daniel CAMERON, constable. Mr. SECHLER was also register and recorder. James LOUGHEAD, a dignified yet popular gentleman of English origin, was postmaster, and held the office for the long term of fourteen years, twice as long as any other with one exception. The office was first established in 1806. Judge MONTGOMERY being the first one appointed, and held his commission from President Jefferson, and filled the office for seven years. This just and pious man discharged this trust, as he did all others, to the entire satisfaction of the Government and the community. He was succeeded by that other faithful public servant, Rudolph SECHLER, who held it for a like term of seven years, until Mr. LOUGHEAD's appointment. I never knew a more honest man than Mr. SECHLER. With him it was innate. He could not be otherwise than honest. His countenance, his actions, his words, in short everything about him proclaimed his sterling integrity; and what gave a charm to it he was quite unconscious of his being more honest than other men. Of his large number of connections I never knew one whose integrity was called into question. It is highly gratifying to know that in the seventy years the office has been in existence, there has never been a defaulter to the National Government, and that all of the thirteen incumbents of the office have diligently and faithfully discharged the trust reposed in them.

"One of the eccentric characters of the vicinity was Mr. FINNEY, who died ten or twelve years subsequent to the period of which I write, almost a centenarian. He was a man of gallantry, a kind of Beau Nash of more than eighty, with a peculiar child-like tenor voice, who delighted to play the gallant with the young ladies of the village, and drive them around the place and vicinity in his old-style chaise. Robin FINNEY, as he was always called, from his great age and attention to the fair sex, was a great favorite with them, and was well known to the people of that day. His chaise and one owned by Gen. D. MONTGOMERY and one by Judge MONTGOMERY were the only pleasure carriages of that kind in the county. The old time carriage of Philip MAUS, which attracted the attention and excited the wonder of the village urchins, and the more modern carriage of Gen. MONTGOMERY were the only pleasure carriages of that style. Traveling on horseback was then the proper thing for both sexes, old and young, gentle and simple, and its general disuse is to be regretted.

"Abe BROWN was an African, or an American of African descent, and the only one in the place. He had been a mariner, and after he came here, was a servant to Mr. LONGHEAD. He immigrated to Mahoning County, Ohio, where by industry and frugality he acquired a competency and enjoys the respect of the community where he resides. Jack HARRIS was an octoroon, a fine looking lad, and so nearly white that he might pass for an Anglo-American. though not darker than a brunette, the rude boys persisted in calling him Black Jack. These boys attended the schools and were treated with justice.

"The great flood of 1817, usually called the August flood, surrounded the place so that, for the time, it became insular. The only approach was by boats. I saw the bridge over the brook on the road, then an extension of Church Street, float away with a man on it who secured it before it reached the river.

"The inhabitants were supplied with flour from the mills of John and Alexander MONTGOMERY and Joseph MAUS, all propelled by the water of the Mahoning. Farmers in the vicinity took their grain in sacks to the mills; the miller ground it for a toll of one-tenth. Except for the Baltimore, Philadelphia, or Reading markets, it was seldom put up in barrels. Steam power had not been introduced in the place or neighborhood, except at BOYD's mill, which was then a new one on the left bank of the river above town.

"Whisky was the Archimedean lever that moved the world. Contracts could not be made or performed without its potent aid. The merchant kept it on his counter, for his customers would not purchase goods without it. It was indispensable at musters and elections. The farmer's fields could not be cultivated without its use as a motor. Mr. ROBINSON, in the vicinity, offered the laborers who were employed in his harvest fields extra pay if they would dispense with it, but they refused. The temperance caused was advocated by its friends, but its opponents, numerous, defiant and violent, determined that their liberties should not be subverted by a few fanatics who were worse than the Federals.

"The half century just closed has been an eventful, almost a marvelous one. In 1826 we had no railways, telegraphs, type-writers, gas, petroleum, no canals, iron furnaces, forges, rolling-mills; no bridge over the river, no fire engines of any kind, nor many other indispensable improvements, deprived of which we would speedily retrograde to what we were at that period. The population has increased more than tenfold, and Danville has kept pace with the rest of the world, and shown an energy and perseverance worthy of her, not withstanding the many depressions and conflicts incident to her position as a great manufacturing center. Her numerous sons, dispersed throughout the great West, and in other portions of our vast republic, now in exile from her borders, look with pride upon her onward course in material prosperity, and her commendable progress in religion, morals, and science, the social virtues and the amenities of life, which they trust may continue, and enable her, for all future time, to maintain her elevated position in the good old commonwealth.

"There was an old tradition, or rather a prophecy, among the Indians that roamed about the Susquehanna, that great floods in this river occurred at regular intervals of fourteen years. The first great flood of which we have any account was in 1744; the second in 1758; the third in 1772, and that which is known as the great 'pumpkin flood' was in 1786--there being just fourteen years between each of these floods. The 'pumpkin flood' was in the month of October, and was so designated on account of the immense number of pumpkins that floated down the stream from the fields above. It began to rain on the 5th of October, 1786, and rained incessantly for several days. The water rose rapidly and swept all before it. Several persons were drowned near the place now called Rupert, and at Sunbury houses were overflowed and many people were lost. Northumberland was also flooded and much damage was done. This flood was long remembered and known among the old settlers as 'the great pumpkin flood.' In the spring of 1800, just fourteen years after the 'pumpkin floor,' another great freshet occurred. It rained three days and three nights, carrying off a deep snow and doing much damage. In 1814 there was another destructive flood that caused much loss of life and property. Here the old Indian tradition that floods occurred every fourteen years failed; for the next was in 1817, after an interval of only three years. The next flood of not was in 1847. If there were any from 1817 to 1847 we have no record of them. Many will remember that of 1859, which also raised the water in the North Branch over eight feet above high water mark. Still more vividly do they remember the extraordinary flood of March, 1865. The exciting scenes in Danville on the 17th and 18th of that month will never be forgotten. The river began to rise on Friday, and on Saturday the water rose to four feet above the highest flood on record. A great portion of Danville was overflowed and many families were compelled to leave their homes in haste. Women and children were taken from their houses in boats. The whole district from Sageburg to Mill Street was covered with water reaching up Mulberry Street and to the scales in front of the Montgomery building. The low lands along the Mahoning were also under water. On Mulberry as well as on Mill Street boats and rafts were moving among the houses and gliding high over the gardens. The river bridge was much injured but withstood the onset. Many stables and other buildings floated about and found new and strange foundations as the water receded without any regard to the side that was up or down. Only one man, Peter GREEN, was drowned at this place. He fell into the Mahoning from a small raft while attempting to supply his family with coal. His body was recovered and properly cared for. Another great flood in the North Branch in 1875 took the river bridge that had so long withstood the assaults of the angry torrent, but when the Catawissa bridge came down and struck it broadside it had to yield. It has since been rebuilt more substantially than before. There was another great freshet on the 12th of February, 1881."

This account of fifty-six years ago rounds out the first half-century of Danville, completing the history to the second and important event in the town's history. The opening of the canal started the second era in the town's growth and its permanent and solid development. As soon as the building of a canal became an assured fact, men of enterprise and capital, anticipating the results to flow along with its completion, began to rapidly come to the place. Capital was attracted here, labor came where it was sure of ready employment at living wages. Iron ore was here in great abundance and the best quality, and the canal brought the coal fields almost to our door, and soon the movement was on foot that moved with mighty strides to the building of the great factories that have made the name of Danville familiar throughout the commercial world.


Danville became an incorporated borough in 1849. Its growth from its settlement until the building of the canal had been very slow, the improvements more than keeping pace with the additions to the population. In 1840 the population was 1,100. In the next decade, however, it was increased over 200 per cent and in the next half-decade, 1855, to 6,000 and in 1857 to 8,000. In that day this was unprecedented. The present stationary condition of the town shows that the large part of this population was drawn here by the iron manufactories. In 1849 it was reaching rapidly its importance and growth as a manufacturing town. In the establishment of its manufactories, the public and private buildings, and its commerce and increase of capital in every line of industry, were then widely known and began to give the place an enviable reputation throughout the country.

When made a borough it was divided into two wards. Its official machinery was simple, economical and effective. The freshets in the river had suggested that the lower parts of the town must be raised to an established grade to prevent the injurious overflows. In 1852 Northumberland Street was filled up to grade. At different times fills had been made in the low parts of Mill and other streets in the near vicinity of the canal. The fills on these streets can be readily seen by their present elevation above the tow-path, and here there is nearly an average fill of three feet above the natural surface of the ground.

In 1855 the borough limits were enlarged and for the first time accurately defined as they exist now. These limits contain 996 acres, lying in greatest length along the river and extending back to Montour's Ridge. There were only two wards until 1867, when the divisions were made into four wards, and by this change twelve councilmen were provided for, or three from each ward. At the then following election three alderman were elected in each ward to serve respectively one, two and three years, and one to be elected at each succeeding annual election to serve three years.

In common with the entire country the business of the place suffered a check from the financial panic of 1857. This was especially felt in its large iron mills, but was only temporary. It had disappeared in 1859. In the latter part of 1860 the portentous war clouds were lowering upon the country, and in 1861 the storm broke and the Nation trembled in the throes of war. The imperative wants of the country had soon set to work the busy machinery of Danville, and again the tide ran high in all its lines of industry. The demand in the ranks of the army upon employers and laborers was great, but great as it was it was met with an enthusiastic rush, and in Danville as everywhere in all the land, men were going and coming, the prices of labor and commodities went up and up, wants increased, the flow of money from the government center was immense, which rapidly circulated among the people and they were exuberant and intoxicated with patriotism, and money getting, and this rapidly bread extravagant habits in the majority and colossal fortunes in the hands of many. The war over and people again settling down to the attempt to try the old fashioned anti-war simplicity and sobriety, that had unconsciously passed away apparently never to return, and hence to many the times were out of joint, and others were at a loss to readjust themselves, or, to use the term that was then applied properly only to the revolt States, to put on and wear gracefully the new habiliments of reconstruction. The war left the country flooded with cheap money and flush times. Men no longer hesitated to go in debt, to pay the heaviest discounts upon the glittering but deceptive future. The thinkers of pessimistic tendency argued that the war closed, the debris cleared away, that the reaction would swiftly come that would engulf every daring adventurer. But the war closed in 1865, and a lustrum of years had come and gone and financial prosperity only swelled its daily great volume. the reaction had not come. The pessimist ceased to warn, the optimist confidently told himself that the resistless stream of prosperity could not be stopped or changed in its onrushing course. Had not the northern patriots put down at incalculable sacrifices the monster rebellion? The South was crushed, pauperized and millions of slaves were freed, and no longer did northern labor have to contend against the unpaid slave labor of the country. Was not Providence justice? Was it a farthing more, indeed, but a pitiful recompense for our great sacrifices that this stream of financial and industrial prosperity should flow on forever?

To these golden dreams came the fatal year, 1873. The telegraph flashed the simple announcement, but really portentous news over the land, "Jay Cook's failure," and in a day the average business man of the country was in fact a bankrupt. The sad scenes around the bankrupt courts exceeded even those in England when the great South Sea Bubble burst. may a return of the like be ever spared our land! We had trampled upon every financial law of political economy, and we had to pay the most fearful penalties, compounding the interest to the most implacable Shylock that ever demanded the pound of flesh from nearest the human heart.

In this financial revolution, following upon the heels of the social and moral upheaval of the times, Danville, because of its distance from the great cities, probably suffered less severely than the majority of places of its size. But still it felt severely the shock. It to-day bears the marks of the wounds thus inflicted, although a decade of years have come and gone since the great panic passed away. The financial, commercial and industrial history of the town from the commencement of the war to the present is contained in the history of the country during that period--a history yet to be written, but a fruitful and instructive theme indeed, to the historian able to write it.

Continued in
Danville - Part II


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