History of that part of the Susquehanna and Juniata valleys, embraced in the counties of Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Union and Snyder, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania...
Edited by F. Ellis and A. N. Hungerford.
Published in Philadelphia by Everts, Peck & Richards, 1886
The territory that now comprises the township was embraced in Fermanagh from 1762 to 1767, when it became part of Penn township upon its erection in that year, 1767. In 1772 it seems to have become a part of Greenwood, although no court action is found confirming it, yet its assessment indicates that upon the erection of Northumberland County, in 1772, it was assessed to Greenwood. It so remained until Greenwood was divided, in 1858, action being confirmed July 24th in that year, and Monroe became No. 1 in the division.
It is bounded on the north by Snyder County and is separated from it, the greater part of the line, by Mahantango Creek; on the west by Fayette township and a small part of Delaware at the southwest corner; on the south by Greenwood and Susquehanna townships.
The streams are the Mahantango Creek and its tributaries, of which Quaker Run is the largest, and the head-waters of Cocolamus and Little Cocolamus Creek. The settlements are Richfield and Evandale.
The first settlements of this township were made by settlers who came up the Susquehanna River and followed up the Mahantango Creek from where Thomas McKee, the trader, had settled at its mouth. Probably the first to become permanent settler in the vicinity was John Graybill, in 1772, who located across the creek from Richfield, in what is now Snyder County. The Shellenbergers probably came next.
The first of the Shellenbergers to settle in this section of country was John, who came to this country from Geneva, Switzerland, in the ship “Friendship,” with his wife and children. After coming up the Susquehanna River to Liverpool, then made their way to the mouth of the Mahantango Creek and up that creek to near what is now Richfield. Here, in what is now West Perry township, Snyder County, John Graybill settled in 1772, and his sons had taken up land on the south side of the creek. John Shellenberger settled here a short time, but did not purchase, and about 1780 went to what is now Good-Will, in Fayette township, and purchased part of a tract of land of James Martin, which was warranted by his father David, in 1774, and where David Shellenberger, the youngest son of John, settled, lived and died. John Shellenberger had three sons—John, Peter and David—and two daughters—Catherine and Maria.
John Shellenberger, about 1784, bought a tract of land of Peter Graybill, which he warranted March 7, 1775, and part of which he sold to Peter Shellenberger October 6, 1807. He lived on land now owned by Samuel Puhlman. His children, with the exception of Christian, went West. He settled on the homestead. In 1790 John Shellenberger, Jr., was assessed on two hundred acres of land, a saw-mill and a thirty-gallon distillery. The sons of Christian are living in the vicinity.
The tract lay west of the tract on which Richfield is situated. Next west Peter Shellenberger purchased a large tract, which he patented in two patents, one in 1812, the other in 1816. In 1790 he owned two hundred acres. This tract embraced Evandale. He bought a tract, on March 28, 1791, of Ludwig Goss, which was warranted to Jacob Reice and sold to Goss August 26, 1786.
The sons of Peter were John, Christian, Joseph, Jonathan, Peter, Isaac; daughters, Elizabeth, Sarah and Catherine.
John settled on part of the old homestead, where his son Christian settled. Christian settled in Pfoutz Valley; Joseph, near Oakland, and later moved to the West; Jonathan, on part of the homestead, which his father deeded to him June 4, 1831, and where he still resides; Peter, in Pfoutz Valley, later in Snyder County; Isaac emigrated to Ohio; Elizabeth married Samuel Myers and settled near McVeytown; Sarah became the wife of Peter Graybill and settled back of Richfield; Catherine married Michael Lauver and moved to Illinois.
Jacob Auker, in 1786, took up a warrant for three hundred acres of land on the banks of Mahantango Creek, about a mile below Riceville, on which he built a grist and saw-mill about 1793, which he ran until his death, in 1814. His son, Jacob was a miller and continued it. In November, 1821, the property was divided, and Henry Auker, one of the heirs, purchased the property. A few years later the mill property passed to Andrew Kohler, who kept it many years. The mill, about 1857, was built on the other side of the creek, in Snyder County, where it now stands. A store was kept at the mills from about 1818 to 1830 by --- Clarkson. A school-house was built there, taught by Mrs. Hannah Caveny. In later years Pine Church was built on the other side of the creek.
The sons of Jacob Auker were Jacob, Henry, Christian and Emanuel. Henry Auker sold the property to Andrew Kohler, and moved, about 1822, to Fayette township, in the southeast corner, at the Delaware township line, where he was murdered in 1860.
Emanuel lived near Richfield several years, and moved to Snyder County, where he still lives, at the age of eighty-two years.
Jacob Pyle was one of the early settlers with the Shellenbergers and located west of the John Shellenberger tract (Samuel Pehlman farm). He had sons,--George, John, Samuel and Jacob. Samuel settled on the home place, which is now owned by John Rine, of Richfield. John lives about a mile northwest of Richfield, in Snyder County, and is now over eighty years of age.
The land in the northwest corner of the township was taken up on warrant by Michael Lauver about 1786. It lay back of Evandale and on the line of Juniata and Snyder Counties. His sons were John, Henry, Michael, Christley, Frederick and Balzer. The sons, with the exception of Michael, who was a tailor, were all blacksmiths. John, in 1797, took up a small tract east of McAlisterville, where he built a blacksmith-shop and dwelling, and in 1810 bought the first lot in the new town of McAlisterville and moved his shop to that place. Later he sold to his brother Henry, and bought a farm now owned by John Gerhart, where he settled and died. Henry settled in McAlisterville, and later in Liverpool. Jacob settled on the old farm several years, was with his brother Henry in Liverpool a few years, and in 1830 settled where the Lauver Mennonite Church now is and where his son Reuben, also a blacksmith, now resides. Christian, or Christley, was living in 1878, at the age of eighty-three years. Balzer at one time owned considerable of the east part of the town-lots of McAlisterville, and now, over eighty years of age, lives in Milford, opposite Mifflintown, and a little above. Michael lived in McAlisterville and was postmaster form 1821 to 1825.
An old blacksmith’s account-book, containing many of the old names of this section, and beginning in 1786, is in possession of Mrs. William Sellers, near the old Sellers mill, now Bashore’s. This account-book was doubtless Michael Lauver’s.
The land next east of the Michael Lauver tract was taken up by Thomas Hewes, August 1, 1766, on application No. 164, who sold it to Samuel Wallis, a merchant of Philadelphia. It was patented by him as “Hewes’ Adventure,” and contained three hundred and twenty-six acres of land. He sold it, September 4, 1782, to Henry Drinker, also a merchant of Philadelphia. It was adjoining a tract, that then belonged to Jeremiah Lynn and Gideon Percival. A part of this tract was sold to Joseph and Jacob Sellers on February 4, 1794; and part Stephen Rees. Drinker owned other land near the tract. Joseph Sellers sold his interest in the land, January 15, 1796, to Jacob Sellers, Jr., and removed to what is now Delaware Township (Humphrey’s Mill), where he bought the mill property of John Hamilton, and lived and died there.
Jacob Sellers, Sr., in a German Bible in possession of the family, wrote on the title-page, “Come to this plantation in 1793.” The next year after the purchase was made, other land was purchased by him and his sons. Jacob built a grist-mill on a branch of the Cocolamus Creek, about 1790, on the site of the old lime-kiln, about two hundred rods from the present mill. On the 25th of July, 1826, Jacob Sellers, Jr., sold a part of the land to Peter Shellenberger, who later sold to William Sellers one hundred and seventy-nine acres, on which, in 1846, he built the present mill, now owned by John Bashore. Joseph and Jacob Sellers bought of Henry Drinker a tract of land in 1794, which was sold to Christley Lauver, a son-in-law. He resided at the mill and continued it some years. This was the land bought by Peter Shellenberger.
Jacob Sellers, Sr., died in 1831. His children were Joseph, Mary (who married John Brought), George, Barbara, Jacob, Elizabeth (Mrs. George Rothrock), Alvah, William, Achsah (Mrs. --- Wurtz, who settled in Mifflin County). Mrs. William Sellers is now living near the mill far advanced in years. She was a daughter of Jacob Pyle, who was also a settler in this region.
Caspar Wistar, of Philadelphia, took out a warrant for four hundred and thirty-four acres of land April 14, 1794, adjoining Samuel Osborne, Peter Osborne and Thomas and Bartholomew Wistar. In the year 1814 Jacob Marks settled upon the tract, but December 1, 1829, bought the whole tract of George Wilson, who, June 1, 1832, conveyed it to his son, Luke Marks, who is now living upon it at the age of eighty-two years. It is now in part owned by Christian Knouse and E. G. Schaeffer, but the greater part still by Luke Marks. His son Joseph lives adjoining, on part of the Samuel Osborne tract. The Thomas and Bartholomew Wistar tract lay to the west of the Luke Marks land.
The Samuel and Peter Osborne tracts lay to the eastward of the Caspar Wistar tract, and, with other tracts they warranted, embraced about two thousand acres, and were partly in what is now Snyder County. It came to the possession of Peter Osborne, and was known as the Osborne Survey, and was uncultivated and wild land. On the 8th of November, 1845, Joseph Osborne, a son of Peter, sold seventeen hundred and fifty acres of it to Richard Strode, who, in January, 1849, sold it to Jesse Dickey and Dr. R. B. Dilworth, of Chester County, who at once erected a large saw-mill on Mahantango Creek, and began an extensive lumber business. Dickey soon after returned, and Dr. Dilworth conducted the business until his death, a few years later. The property was sold out about 1859, in smaller tracts, and passed into the hands of many owners. In 1877, S. Snyder, J. Barges, M. Minich Zandt and others had saw-mills on the tract which embraced the lower part of Quaker Valley.
The family of Burchfield now in this county, descended from Aquilla Burchfield, who, before the Revolutionary War, resided in Maryland. He came first to Milford township in 1772 and purchased a tract of land later known as the Kerlin place, and, in 1774, moved to what is now Monroe township, and took up land in Black Dog Valley (now known as Chester Valley), in 1774, where he lived until his death, in 1805, aged sixty-eight. His wife, Elizabeth, survived several years later. Their children were Charles, Aquilla, Thomas, James, Robert, Margaret and Sarah.
Aquilla, Jr., married Elizabeth Cookson. He, with his brother Robert, warranted a tract of three hundred and eighty-three acres in the valley, in November, 1794, and settled there, where Aquilla in that year was keeping tavern; later he removed to Millerstown. They had a number of children, who married and settled in other parts. He married Jane Fleming, as a second wife, by whom he had several children, all of whom emigrated West.
Thomas married, settled near Pine Swamp and had six children, all of whom went West about 1825.
Robert married Cahtarine Barrichman, by whom he had seven children, of whom Kezia became the wife of Samuel Van Ormer, of Slim Valley; John married Julia A. Hopple and moved to Mifflintown; Robert settled upon the land he bought with his brother Aquilla, and which land later was owned by John Graybill, who patented it March 15, 1835. It is now owned by Samuel Keller, David W. Swartz and others.
James, also a son of Aquilla Burchfield, Sr., married Rachel Cookson and settled in the valley for a time, and in 1812 lived in Mifflintown; in 1829, moved to Milford, where he lived a few years and returned to near Mifflintown, and below, where he died, February 27, 1861, aged eighty-seven years. His wife, Rachel, died the next year. They had lived as husband and wife for sixty-eight years. Judge Lewis Burchfield, of Milford, is a son of James and Rachel Burchfield.
Samuel Watts was a native of Bucks County. His father, Samuel Watts, emigrated from Scotland and was in the Revolution and was killed at the battle of Monmouth. Samuel came to Northumberland County in 1809 and settled at New Berlin (now Union County). In 1811 he moved to Greenwood township (now Monroe), where he purchased a farm of --- Gottshall, near where his son Thomas now lives. He had several sons,--Samuel Watts (ex-associate judge of the county) lives at McAlisterville, John at Richfield and David and Joseph at Mifflintown.
John Krebs, or Kreps, was a resident in the valley, where John McConnell now owns, as early as 1778; later George Kreps succeeded to the property.
John Niemond, about 1800, purchased land at the head of Chester Valley, and September 16, 1823, purchased one hundred and forty-nine acres of Jacob Lukinton, which was warranted June 6, 1814. His sons were Samuel, Joseph and Simon, and a daughter, Elizabeth. The St. John’s Lutheran Church was erected on part of the Niemond land, and is known as Niemond’s Church. His grandson John, is now on part of the farm. Frederick Keller, a native of Lancaster County, was in the Revolution after which he settled many years in his native county. He came to Chester Valley and leased land of John Niemond, and about 1812 bought ninety-six acres. His sons were John, George, Henry, Peter, John, Daniel. His daughters were Elizabeth, (Mrs. Jacob Stoneing), Mary (Mrs. John Page). Jacob settled on the home-place; George and Henry in vicinity; Daniel and John went West; Samuel, a son of Jacob, now lives on the homestead.
Joseph Page settled in 1792 on the farm now owned by Joseph, his grandson. His son Abraham settled on the homestead and for a time owned the Sellers mill, now Robert Humphrey’s.
Swartz Valley takes its name from a family of that name, who settled there in 1780, as Matthias Swartz was assessed in that year on one hundred acres. Matthias Swartz, Jr., was assessed in 1796 on a tannery, which was abandoned before 1820. The Rev. Peter Swartz, a United Brethren minister, is assessed as such from 1805. He had four sons—Matthias, David, Peter and John—whose sons are residents of the valley.
Land in the upper part of Chester Valley was early taken up by Jacob Landis, and about 1805 was sold by his widow to Charles Magee, who settled upon it. He had daughters, who married and settled in the vicinity.
Black Dog Valley, as the valley extending from Little Cocolamus Creek to the main branch of Cocolamus Creek, in Fayette township is called, was settled by few people prior to 1825. Of those located where Thomas Jones, Frank Shields, Robert Burchfield, John Hawk and Harry Auker. About 1856 a number of families from Chester County bought lands and settled, and the name was changed to Chester Valley. Of these were Thomas Entrekin, Isaac Crossen, N. B. and E. Wickersham, Byard Neils and Rufus M. Ford.
In 1859 the following were the business interests of the township, except farming:
J. & Isaac Ecklin, saw-mill, Little Cocolamus.
Jonathan Gelnet, saw-mill, Quaker Run.
Conrad Markle, saw-mill, Quaker Run.
Joseph Niemond, saw-mill, Little Cocolamus.
Thomas North, tannery, Stony Point.
Patrick Reilly (J. & L. Clenderman), saw-mill, on Mahantango Creek.
William Sellers, grist-mill, west of Evandale.
Josiah Snyder, hotel, Richfield.
Christian Shellenberger, saw-mill, near Richfield.
Tobias Shull, tan-yard, Richfield.
Joseph Watts, foundry, Richfield.
In 1860 John Deans erected a log foundry west of Luke Marks’, which now is owned and operated by his son-in-law, William Siebert.
The reader is referred to the article on taxable industries in Greenwood township for early mills within this territory.
ST. JOHN’S LUTHERAN, OR NIEMOND’S CHURCH.—This church edifice was erected near John Niemond’s in the year 1811, and the congregation was ministered to by the Rev. W. J. Heim, who had charge, until about 1835, of many congregations in this and Perry County. The Rev. Augustus Ellmoyer preached here for several years, and the pulpit later was supplied by ministers in charge of the church at Liverpool or Richfield. It is now in charge of the Rev. S. R. Brown, of the Richfield Church.
MENNONITES.—The first church in this section of the country of this denomination was built, of logs, in 1800, on the site of the brick meeting-house in Monroe township, and was used for both church and school purposes until about 1815, when it was abandoned entirely as a school. The house was used until 1868, when the present brick house was built a short distance west of Richfield. The meeting-house in Snyder County, on the Graybill farm, was built in 1854; the one at Lauver’s a few years later.
The first bishop was John Graybill, a son of John Graybill, who settled here in 1772. He was ordained a bishop by Lancaster Conference in 1808, when twenty-one years of age, and died in service, in 1831, aged fifty-one years. He was succeeded by the Rev. Jacob Brubaker, who had been an assistant for several years, and who served until his death, about 1863. The rev. George Leiter was a bishop from about 1830 until his death, in 1842. The Rev. Abram Haldeman was made a bishop in 1841, and died about 1858. Bishop Jacob Graybill, now living at Thompsontown, was ordained in 1856, and is still in charge.
For some cause, the congregation became divided before the death of Bishop John Graybill, in 1831, and two congregations, known as the Haldeman and Lester congregations, each elected trustees, who held the property. Disputes have arisen; the Haldeman congregation hold the property and the case is now before the courts. The minister of the Haldeman congregation, is the Rev. Jacob Graybill, and of the Leiter, Revs. Thomas and Solomon Graybill.
SCHOOLS.—The first school-house in the section was the old Mennonite Church, built in 1800, which was built for both church and school purposes and afterwards abandoned as a school, and a new one built about 1815 near the church, which was used many years. About 1820 a house was built near the Watts farm, which was known as the Watts school-house. Edward Hays and Emanuel Albright were teachers.
About 1825, a school-house was standing on the top of the ridge, between Samuel Keller’s and Evandale. Jacob Keller, a brother of John Keller, was a teacher. Later one was built on the corner by John Folkroad’s, which was used until 1859, when the one now used was built at Stony Run. A new one is now (1885) in process of erection on the opposite side of the road.
About 1855 a house was built west of Richfield, which was replaced by a brick house in 1862 and sold to the German Baptists in 1875, who now hold it. A new house at Richfield took its place.
Evandale Indepemdent District was formed a few years ago and contains two school-houses. An old school was erected many years ago on the site of the old store at Evandale. This was abandoned and a log house built on the lot where the present house, built in 1882, now stands. The other house of the district is at Cherry Hill, and was erected in 1884.
One of the earliest teachers in the township was Mrs. Hannah Caveny, grandmothe of Esquire Reuben Cavney, of McAlisterville. She taught from 1815 several years at Auker’s Mill, below Richfield, and also near where John Nailor resides, in the southwest part of the township.
In 1858 two school-houses were erected, one at Quaker Run, the other at Swartz. There are now seven houses in the township,--two in Evandale district and in Richfield, Watts, Quaker Run, Stony Run and Swartz. They contain two hundred and twenty-six pupils.
The plat of land on which the town is located was warranted July 1, 1776, to Jacob Moyer, who, May 26, 1791, sold the tract to John Graybill, who, in 1772, had settled upon a large tract of land across Mahantango Creek, now in Snyder County. On this tract a grist and saw-mill had been in operation for several years. He died about 1800, and December 26, 1808, the heirs conveyed the tract to Christian Graybill, one of the sons who settled a short distance from where, in 1818, he laid out the village of Richfield. Christian Auker, February 10, 1821, bought lots 20 and 25, and erected a house, Christian Zimmerman having built one previously. The family mostly settled in what is now Snyder County, but inter-married with the Wineys and Shellenbergers and their descendants are numerous both in Juniata and Snyder Counties. The village did not begin to grow until about 1833.
The first store in the neighborhood was at Auker’s Mills, and kept by --- Clarkson.
About 1833 John Wallis built a store building, still standing, where he kept store for many years. A tavern-stand was opposite, kept by Joseph Schnee until 1844, when it was destroyed by fire, M. S. Graybill, now of Evandale, being the last landlord. John Miller kept a tavern in the place at the same time. The present hotel was established in 1874 by E. C. Graybill, who now keeps it. It was first used as a store by Abraham Graybill and later by Andrew Kohler. In 1859 Tobias Shull was operating at the place a tannery, Joseph Watts a foundry and Joseph Snyder was keeping a tavern.
The post-office at Richfield was established about 1833, and the following persons have served as postmasters: John Wallis, William Boyer, Dr. J. M. Wallis, A. G. Shellenberger, Andrew Kohler, Peter S. Graybill, A. G. Shellenberger, H. C. Landis, D. G. Shellenberger, Enoch Shellenberger, Wilson B. Winey, B. H. Curtis, Dr. G. J. Crouse and Dr. J. W. Decker, the present incumbent.
LUTHERAN AND GERMAN REFORMED CHURCH.—The church edifice was erected at the east end of the town in 1835, and was remodeled in 1858. The congregations each number about forty members. The Rev. J. W. Seibert, of Selinsgrove, was in charge for about ten years, and was followed by Rev. Augustus Ellmoyer, who also had in charge the congregations of Freeburg, Freemont and Mount Pleasant. He was succeeded by Revs. – Hackman, John Kohler, J. W. Hackenberger, James Sandoe, H. C. Heiser, --- Reed, John Doughnut, --- Reed and the Rev. S. P. Brown, the present pastor.
THE UNITED BRETHREN CHURCH was organized about 1840, and united with the Evangelical and Methodist congregation in erecting a church on the east side of the Mahantango Creek, near Auker’s mill, called the “Pine Church,” which was used until 1874, when a Union Church was erected at Richfield. The pastors who have served are the Revs. John Smith, John Uhler, J. Zimmerman, Robert Arndt and J. W. Buchter. The pastors of the Evangelical Church have been the Revs. J. W. Dillinger, James Binckley, J. W. Siebert, Jacob Miller, T. R. Morris, J. G. Swingle, J. W. Bentz, Jacob Young and Noah Young, who now is the pastor. The congregation first worshipped in the “Pine Church,” and now in the Church of the United Brethren, in Richfield.
THE GERMAN BAPTISTS in this section purchased the brick school-house near Richfield in 1875, and fitted it for a church. It is under the same charge as the Goodwill Church. The school-house now used contains two schools and was built in 1876.
INDEPENDENT ORDER OF ODD-FELLOWS.—McWilliams Lodge, No. 702, was organized in 1863 and abandoned in 1878. A hall was erected in 1873, which was destroyed by fire in 1880.
Richfield at present contains a population of about one hundred and eighty, a hotel, three churches (Lutheran, United Brethren and German Baptist), post-office, hardware-store, tin-store, drug-store, carriage and blacksmith-shop, two dry-goods and grocery stores and cabinet-maker shop.
Evandale was on part of the Peter Shellenberger land, and was sold to Abraham Haldeman, a preacher of the Mennonites. A school-house was built at the place many years ago. Isaac Haldeman established the store about 1855, and the post-office, which prior to this time had been ad Sellers’ Mill, was removed to this place. The postmasters have been Job and Isaac Haldeman, Roper & Snyder, Byard Nields, John S. Graybill, and since 1881 M. S. Graybill. The brick store was erected in 1874.
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