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 now embraced in this township was embraced in Fermanagh township at the time the latter was erected. From the township of Fermanagh, in 1767, was formed the townships of Greenwood and Penn’s. Upon the erection of Northumberland County, in 1772, the part of Penns township that lay west of the Mahantango Creek became a portion of Greenwood, the greater part of Penn’s being east of the creek and in the new county of Northumberland. In 1789 it became a part of Mifflin County, and a large portion of Greenwood township remained in Cumberland County (afterwards Perry).
In 1857, a petition was presented to the court of Juniata County, asking that Greenwood township be divided into three townships. This was voted upon by the qualified electors, January 15, 1858, and resulted in a vote of two hundred and sixteen in favor and twenty-one against the division.
A full account of the proceedings will be found in the sketch of Greenwood township. The township here treated was in the division called No. 2, and named Susquehanna. The proceedings were confirmed July 24, 1858.
The township is bounded on the south by Perry County, and the Susquehanna River, on the north by Snyder County and Monroe township, and on the west by Greenwood township. The Susquehanna River is on the southeast border and Mahantango Creek flows in a south-westerly direction along its northern boundary and joins the river at Weiser’s mill.
Jobson’s Run rises in Perry County and enters the township at the extreme southwest corner and flows northwesterly and makes a junction with the west branch of the Mahantango northwest of Oriental. Kepner’s Run rises in Greenwood and flows easterly to the Mahantango, north of Jobson’s Run.
The earliest settlement of this territory was made on its eastern limit, near the river. Thomas McKee, who was an Indian trader, took out, March 5, 1755, a warrant for a tract of land above and below the mouth of the Mahantango Creek, embracing the meadows along the river and the Half Falls above the mouth of the creek.
The past known as McKee’s Path was mentioned in 1767 in the boundaries of Penn and Greenwood townships. On the 28th of July, 1767, McKee sold the tract to Jacob Segrist, of Manor township, Lancaster County, for Ł46 1s. It then contained four hundred and fifty-six acres and embraced the meadows, the Half Falls land and three islands,--one of one hundred acres, now owned by Shuman; Hay Island, of seventy acres, now Kline; and the third, of eighty acres, now Yeager’s. McKee died in 1772. The tract was surveyed May 26th in that year. A portion of the tract, embracing three hundred and forty-eight acres and allowance of six per cent., was named Segrist’s Meadows. A portion of the tract, where the Weiser mill now stands and other lands adjoining, were purchased by Michael Whitmer in 1772, for which he obtained a patent September 11, 1773. It contained two hundred and thirty-two acres, and was named “Mill Range.”
The Segrist Meadows lie on the river and are partly in Perry County, and are to some extent still in the family.
Michael Whitmer also purchased a tract of land of one hundred and fifty acres, above McKee’s Half Falls, and adjoining which was warranted to Rudolph Shmelzer, August 7, 1766, and returned to Michael Whitmer March 7, 1772. Without doubt he erected the old stone mill, saw-mill and distillery at the place, which, in 1790, was assessed to John Whitmer, his son, to whom it was left by will from his father. The deed, however, from the executor, Jacob Frank, was not made out until March 2, 1793.
The stone house the present residence of Mrs. Jonathan Weiser and her sons was erected in 1797, and bears a date-stone, “John and Elizabeth Whitmer, 1797.” John Whitmer died previous to 1818, and his estate was divided into four parts, the mill property passing to his son John, by whom it was sold to Dr. Samuel Mealy, of Millerstown. At that time there was a grist-mill, saw-mill, distillery, a store-house and the mansion-house. On April 1, 1840, it was sold to Frederick Kramer, who, in 1852, conveyed it to Jonathan Weiser, whose heirs now own it. The present mill was built by Jonathan Weiser in 1858. A store had been established by Jonathan and Jacob Weiser at the place in 1849, which was kept for several years. A post-office was established about the same time, which was continued there until 1866, when the office was moved to the lock, where it now is. Jacob Weiser established a store at the place, and, in 1873, erected the three-story brick store and hotel building now in use. The Pennsylvania Canal crosses the township at this place, and is within the limits about a mile and a quarter in length.
In the year 1812 a road was laid out from McAlister’s mill (now Brown’s) to Whitmer’s mill, at the old fording. A petition was presented to the courts of Mifflin and Union Counties, in April, 1814, for a bridge over Mahantango Creek, at the crossing of the road from Harrisburg to Sunbury. It was ordered built by the counties at the January session, 1815. Contract was made with Frederick Moyer, who completed the bridge in November, 1817. It was located near the Whitmer mill and was about two rods below the old fording. While the mill property was in possession of Dr. Samuel Meally, October 1, 1831, he sold to Owen Owens and Frederick Kramer, trustees, a tract of land (the site of the present church) on which to erect a house for school and church purposes. On the lot a log building was erected, and, in 1871, the present brick Union Meeting-House was erected. It is known as St. Paul’s Union Church and is used by all denominations.
A portion of the John Whitmer lands, as they were divided in 1818, now belong to Abraham Whitmer, and lie directly south of the mill property. Jacob Weiser also owns a part; a portion also is in possession of the Walter App estate.
Probably the oldest inland settlement in the township was on the tract in the extreme south-west corner, now owned by Levi Light, Henry Miller and James Frey. It was a tract of two hundred and eleven acres, granted on an application, No. 922, to James Gallagher, August 22, 1766, who sold his right to Samuel Osborne, November 12, 1772. He obtained a warrant January 5, 1773, and later a patent as “Samuelsburg.” It was left, by will, to Elizabeth, wife of George Wood, who, June 21, 1814, sold it to Morris Howe, a Methodist clergyman, in whose possession it remained until 1837, when he sold it to John Light, whose son Levi now owns a part.
The land in the northwest part of the township, and partly in Monroe, was a tract of three hundred and eighty-five acres, warranted to Samuel Osborne, November 25, 1784, and sold by him to Joshua Hunt, December 2, 1785. It is now owned by Joseph Watts and Edward Shaeffer, in Susquehanna township, and Joseph Marks, in Monroe.
The land where the Dresslers reside, and in that vicinity, was taken on a warrant April 14, 1794, by Casper W. Haines, of Chester County, and came into the possession of Adam Dressler about 1818, and Jacob Dressler in 1823.
The land on which Daniel Knouse now lives was taken up by Martin Doctor, September 15, 1766. It passed through many hands to Adam Wilt, who lived near the Seven Star Tavern. In 1839 it passed to John Bay, who sold to John Rhoades.
Joseph Jobson was located in Turkey Valley before 1790, where he owned one hundred acres. Jobson’s Run passed through his land, and it was from him the run took its name.
A tract of two hundred and forty-two acres was granted on application No. 89, August 19, 1766, and warranted June 30, 1773, to Henry Zellers, adjoining John Zellers. It was located on both sides of the Mahantango Creek, was sold many times and is now owned by Andrew S. Limpert, Frederick Meiser, E. G. Sheaffer, Henry Miller and Daniel Knouse.
The land along Turkey Valley, adjoining Perry County, embracing four hundred acres, was warranted to Lazarus Wingert, and is now owned by Mrs. Shaeffer, D. G. Garman, Levi Light, Joseph Cain, Moses D. Costeller and Christian Forney. But few settlements were in the township, back from the river, before 1825. Christian Knouse came to the township in 1831 and settled. At that time Anthony Rhoads lived where Sophia Shaeffer now resides, and Peter Rhoads where Henry Strasser lives; Jobson on the Benjamin Long farm; Morris Howe on the Levi Light farm. Between Oriental and the creek, John Rouch, where now George Leiter resides. Northwest from Oriental, near where the German Reformed Church stands, Philip Lininger lived and had a saw-mill. Frederick Sellers resided where William Fahnestock now lives. Andrew Limpert lives on the Adam Wilt farm; and Simon Miller on the John Wilt farm; Jacob Dressler where his son, Jeremiah, now lives. Benjamin Sellers owned a saw-mill on the creek, near George Goodling’s farm. There was no school-house in the township, except the one just built (1831), at Mealy’s Mill.
The mills in the township, at the time of its erection, were Nicholas Brown’s saw-mill; Jacob and Samuel Dimm’s saw-mill, on Jobson Run, at the southwest corner of the township; Christian Forney, on Jobson Run; George Goodling, saw-mill, on branch of Kepner’s Run; Jacob Lininger, saw-mill, on Kepner’s Run (the saw-mill and a German Reformed Church were at the place before 1834). The mill was abandoned before 1875. Michael Shetterly, saw-mill, on Mahantango Creek, above Weiser’s grist-mill. The reader is referred to the Article on Taxible Industries in Greenwood Township for early mills in the township.
The churches in the township are St. Paul’s Union Church, at Weiser’s, built in 1871; St. James’ Reformed and Lutheran Church, at the southwest corner of the township; German Reformed Church, at Lininger; Evangelical, at Dressler; and the Strasser Church, in Turkey Valley.
St. James’ Church was erected on Jobson Run in 1852, and is in charge from Liverpool. The Reformed Church at Lininger’s was erected in 1833, of log, and weather-boarded. The early pastors were Augustus Ellmoyer, --- Sandoe. The Rev. Mr. Brown, in charge of Richfield Church, now has it in charge. It was rebuilt in 1883.
Oriental contains store, post-office and a dwelling. The first store was opened in 1855, and kept for ten years by Amos Miller. It is now kept by E. G. Shaeffer, who also keeps the post-office. There are at present but four schools in the township,--Laurel, in the northwest part; Prosperity, near Oriental; Weiser’s, at Weiser’s Mill; Seiber’s at the southwest corner of the township. The township contains at the present time two hundred and five children attending school.
The first school-house erected was near the river, as early as 1814, near the Sechrist’s and Whitmer’s.
About 1834 a school was opened in Lininger’s Church. --- Patterson was an early teacher. In 1837 Daniel Knouse taught school in a house on the Backstresser farm, and was succeeded by Jonathan Gilnit, Michael Rothfong and David Hummel.
A lot was bought, August 29, 1839, where Daniel Knouse’s wagon-shed now stands. At that time the directors of Greenwood township, of which this was a part, were Luke Marks, Emanuel Albright, Paul Cox, John Shellenberger, John Niemond and Christian Knouse. The house was abandoned in later years, and one was built near Oriental, which is now used. The meeting-house and school-house at Kramer’s Mill was built in 1831 by the people in the vicinity, and used for church and school purposes until the one was built about 1858, opposite the present house, at the foot of the hill, which was used until the present house was erected a few years ago.
Benjamin Benfert Post, No. 316, G. A. R., was organized a few years since. Its meetings are held at Oriental, and camp-fires are held annually in the vicinity.
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