Turbett Township Sketches
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Turbett Township Sketches


Port Royal Times
Thursday, February 20, 1879

written for the Times by D. E. Robison, Esq;
Sketches of the History of Turbett Township


The tract of land that now embraces the farms of Lawrence Whetzler, Philip Strouse and James North was taken up under a warrant issued to Capt. William Patterson, Feb. 5, 1755. It was surveyed June 3rd, 1763. The survey contained 336 acres and allowance. 42o was the consideration. Capt. Patterson settled where Mr. Whetzler now resides and built a fort for defence against the Indians soon after he took up the land. When the assessment of property was made for the year 1767, he had 20 acres of his land cleared, also 2 horses, 3 cows, and 2 negroes. He seems to have been an active, energetic man, and was no doubt a prominent actor in the stormy scenes of those early times. The fort stood a few rods west of Mr. Whetzler's house, the site may be seen yet. It was built partly of logs and partly of stone. It was in existence but a few years ago, being used for many years as a corn crib. Capt. James Patterson, who settled at Mexico, and Capt. Wm. Patterson both died before the Revolutionary war.

Philip Strouse came into possession of the above tract of land about the beginning of the Revolution. He no doubt built the house in which Mr. Whetzler resides, likewise the warehouse which stood to the right of the lane which leads from Mr. W's house to the Juniata. It was a log building, two stories high, and about 20 feet square, used for the storage of grain during the winter. From this point most of the grain raised in the valley above was sent down the Juniata in arks to find a market.

Judge Milliken in his narrative, read at McCoysville, July 4, 1876, speaks of this warehouse in the following words: "The first and only road which run through the valley is the one called the mountain or back road, leading from the extreme upper end of the valley to the Juniata River near or below where Mexico now stands. Over it all the grain was hauled to the old Strouse warehouse at the terminus of the road, being thence transported on arks or boats to its destination. No competition at that time disturbed the markets. The only dealer being one, Barney McDonald, who, for many years, made an annual tour of the valley and bought of all, setting his own price. The seller to deliver at Strouse's warehouse."

Philip Strouse was married to Savilla Kepner, sister of the late Benjamin Kepner. Their children were David, John, Sidney and Catharine. Sidney was the wife of the late Peter Hench. Catharine married Richard Wilson. She was the mother of Mrs. Sidney Groninger and Mrs. Hannah Crozier, of Missouri. David Strouse married a Miss Holman. Their children were Philip, George W., Holman and Matilda. Matilda is the wife of James North, Esq., of Patterson, Pa. Geo. W. Strouse married Miss Sidney Kepner. Mr. Strouse represented this district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives two terms. He died at Port Royal, Pa., in March 1870 in the 49th year of his age. Philip Strouse married Euphemia North. They had three sons, David, James, and Philip. He died in 1844, aged 31 years.

David Strouse, son of Philip, was a young man of brilliant talents. His earthly career was short, but full of usefulness. He entered the employ of the P.R.R. Co., when he was about 16 years old, and filled various positions of trust and responsibility with honor to himself and profit to the Company. When the war of the rebellion began he was appointed General Superintendent of Military Telegraph lines at Washington City. His labors were arduous, and hastened the ravages of a disease already in his system. He was obliged to relinquish his position owing to failing health and return to his mother's home at Mexico Station, P.R.R., where he died of consumption Nov. 17, 1861, in the 24th year of his age.

A short time previous to his death he wrote the following beautiful lines:

Gentle river, ever flowing,
Where my early days were passed,
Like your waters I am going,
Sadly to the sea at last.

To that Ocean dark and dreary
Whence no traveller comes again;
Where the spirit worn and weary,
Finds repose from grief and pain.

O'er the world I long have wandered
Now a stranger I return;
Hope and health and manhood squander'd
Life' last lesson here to learn.

Calmly on thy banks reposing,
I am waiting for the day,
Whose calm twilight softly closing,
Bears the trembling soul away


Thus he passed away lamented by all who knew him.

James Strouse died in 1875, aged 34 years.

Philip Strouse married Miss Alice V. Witherow, daughter of Mr. John Witherow, near Bloomfield, Perry county.

A man was shot while engaged in digging a foundation for a house near the site of the tool house at Mexico Station by an Indian who was posted on the point of the ridge.

Jesse Kline was division boss at Mexico Station for more than 20 years. Mr. W. D. Oyler, fills that position now.

Many years ago a house stood in James North's field south of Old Olive Branch School House. A cleared place there was long known as the Gabriel Meadow.




Port Royal Times
Thursday, March 13, 1879

written by D. E. Robison, Esq;

Sketches of the History of Turbett Township


Among those who took up tracts of land within the bounds of Turbett township, at a very early day, was Capt. James Patterson, who was settled at Mexico as early as the year 1751. He took up the tract of land embracing the farms of Philip Kilmer, George Boyer, and James McLaughlin, Esq., (late the farm of Daniel Flickinger, dec'd,) in 1755. He bought of Thomas Lowery in 1766 the tract which was afterwards divided into the farms of Wm Kohler, D. T. Kilmer, and the Robisons. In 1767 he took up part of the tract on the Juniata from which the farms of Peter Kilmer, Wm. Turbett, Mrs. Barbara Hartman and A.J. Turbett were formed. As Capt. Patterson was a very early settler and a prominent man in his day, some account of him will be interesting to the readers of these brief sketched. --He was of Scotch-Irish descent, and came to the Juniata from Cumberland valley accompanied by a few other settlers. He settled where Mexico now stands and his companions settled near to him. It is said they erected a log building or fort for defence against the Indians. Patterson obtained a warrant for a large tract of land in that locality, Feb. 4, 1755. And here he and his associates began the arduous task of clearing out farms for themselves. But they were surrounded by dangers. They had constantly to be on their guard against attacks from the red men. --Capt. Patterson was a brave, fearless man, and understood Indian nature very well, and early took means to impress them with fear. It is said that in order to make them believe he was unusually skillful with the rifle he kept a target, the center of which was pierced with bullet holes at short range, standing against a tree at a considerable distance from the door of his house and when he would see a party of Indians coming about would take his gun and fire away at the target, taking good care to stop shooting when they were near enough to detect the trick. They would of course examine the target, and very naturally conclude that Patterson was a dangerous customer. --He thus obtained among the Indians the name of the "Big Shot." But the ruse did not always last. The French and Indian war was approaching. The Indians ceased to visit Patterson for the purpose of trading, and began to prowl around armed with rifles and tomahawks. These were ominous signs to Patterson and his neighbors, they took the alarm, left their settlement and went over to Sherman's Valley. They did not return until the danger had passed by. Capt. Patterson has been represented as a bold squatter, holding in contempt the Penn treaties and the Proprietary Government, and as squatting upon and improving lands without the formality of warrants and surveys. But nothing is further from the truth. He may not have been in sympathy with the authorities that existed at that time, but he was a man of more prudence than to proceed to make the improvements that he is known to have made without a legal title to his lands. In the assessment list for the year 1767, (recently published by Prof. Guss,) it appears that he was assessed with 500 acres of patented land in the neighborhood of Mexico, 13 acres of which were cleared, he also had a grist mill, a saw-mill, a distillery, 3 horses, 4 cows, and 4 Negroes, all of which goes to show he was no squatter, but a prosperous, law abiding citizen. He traded with the Indians for furs. It has already been stated that he took up part of the tract from which Peter Kilmer's and the Turbetts' farms were formed. That was in the year 1766. June 20, 1771, Patterson sold his tract containing 103 acres to James Potter, Esq., of Cumberland county. Mary Patterson, widow of Capt. Patterson, and executrix of his will, made the deed to Potter, August 23, 1772. Hence it appears that Capt. James Patterson died in the latter part of the year 1771, or early in 1772. It would be interesting to learn more of the history of such men as Capts. James and William Patterson, but more than a century has passed away since they died and but little can be learned now concerning them or their associates.

Alexander Denniston took up the tract of land lying between and adjoining that of Capt. William Patterson and that of Capt. James Patterson on the Juniata, Feb. 5, 1755. It contained over 200 hundred acres. --Denniston owned this tract until June 27, 1772, when it was sold by Ephraim Blaine, Sheriff of Cumberland county, to James Potter, Esq., of said county, for the sum of 270o, or about $720. James Potter having secured both the above mentioned tracts, sold them Dec. 5, 1773, to John Bonner. Bonner becoming advanced in years, willed this land, in November, 1784, in equal shares, to his wife Sarah, and his five children, David, William, Judith, Margaret, and Sarah. Judith became the wife of Thomas Ghormley, Margaret the wife of William Curren. William and Sarah died unmarried before the year 1802. In that year David Bonner sold his interest in said land to Ghormley and Curren. They divided it into two tracts again, March 11, 1811. Ghormley getting 122 acres and allowance, and Curren 159 acres and allowance, the widow's portion remaining in the latter tract. The widow of John Bonner married a man by the name of McCord. She and Curren sold their tract to Philip Kilmer, May 16, 1811, for the sum of $3359. This is now the farm of Peter Kilmer. Ghormley sold his part to Michael Brandt, April 23, 1818, for $4900. This is now the farm of Mrs. Hartman and W. Turbett and part of that of A.J. Turbett. Ghormley built the stone mansion house in which W. Turbett now resides about the year 1812. The Currens and Ghormleys moved to Ohio. The stream of water which passes down through these tracts is still known as Bonner's run, although the man whose name it bears was laid in his grave nearly a century ago. It is nothing more than right that those who endured the privations of pioneer life in these valleys should be remembered in some way.

John Turbett, who it is said was a brother of Col. Thomas Turbett, took up a tract of mountain land adjoining the above tracts on the south-east in the year 1793. He willed this land to Priscilla Turbett and the above mentioned Sarah McCord. --These women moved to Chillicothe, Ross county, Ohio, about the year 1812, and were residing there when they sold the said Turbett land to Michael Brandt, August 25, 1813 for the sum of $724. IT was a son of Thomas Ghormley that wrote the poem entitled "Ghormley's Farewell," that was published a few weeks ago. This young man displayed considerable poetic genius, and seems to have been more successful in courting the muses than he was in courting the young lady who broke his heart. It is a pity that he did not adore the muses more and the lady less. The following lines from that poem are certainly very beautiful and expressive:

A limpid fountain of crystal water,
Brought forth a prattling in Emry's brook,
On a mossy bank near this fountain's border,
With pen and paper my seat I took,
To write my mind in a doleful letter,
To her that reigns in my tortured heart,
Tis the last sad letter I mean to send her
Before that she and I do part.


This young man's agony of soul was certainly most intense, it was a consuming flame that burned to the very depths of a "tortured heart," and the remorseless grasp that was tearing his heart strings asunder as he penned the line, "Before that she and I do part."

Tuscarora station, on the P.R.R. is located on the Capt. James Patterson tract. It was made a block signal station in 1876. The R.R. company has a large reservoir to supply their engine with water. Mr. W.W. Wilson has been division boss at this station for many years. The Roaring Spring is a short distance below Tuscarora station. Before the rail road was made over it, a large stream of water issued from the crevices of the rocks with such force as to cause a loud roaring sound that could be heard more than a mile, hence the name Roaring Spring. The flow of water is still accompanied by considerable sound. Near this spring there are the remains of what seems to have been an ancient fortification, but by whom it was constructed and for what used no one can tell. On the opposite side of the river on the Wilson farm there exist the remains of an Indian mound. Bones, tomahawks, beads, arrow-heads, &c., are frequently found. These remains are found near the log tenant house which stands a short distance from the canal.




Port Royal Times
Thursday, April 3, 1879

written by D. E. Robison, Esq;

Sketches of the History of Turbett Township


In the year 1766, Thomas Lowery took up a tract of land which forms in part the farms of Wm Kohler, D.T. Kilmer and the Robisons. He sold it the same year to Capt. James Patterson. Patterson sold it to William Cochran, (alias Corren or Curren), of Lancaster county, in the year 1770. He and his wife Eleanor, conveyed it to Philip Kilmer of the same county. August 21, 1786, for the sum of 250o (a sound Pennsylvania currency being about $266). Kilmer moved to this land soon after he bought it, and resided first in a little cabin that stood near the sink in D.T. Kilmer's field. Here the late Samuel Kilmer was born in the year 1790. Within a short distance of this spot he lived for the long period of 80 years, and the stone that marks his grave may be seen from the same place. At his birth the land was covered with the primitive forest, with here and there a little opening among the giant trees where stood the humble dwelling of some early settler; at his death the change is known to us all. Kilmer soon after he came here put up buildings where the Robisons live. He erected the stone barn in the year 1802. Mennonite preaching was held in this barn for a number of years. --The Rev. John Graybill was one of the ministers. Jacob Lemey bought a part of this tract of land from Kilmer, but sold it in a short time to Hugh McLaughlin. Hugh McLaughlin and his wife Elizabeth conveyed it in the year 1804 to their son James. Wm. Kohler purchased and moved to this farm in 1850. In the year 1772 the above named William Curren took up a tract of land which was afterwards divided into two parts, one of which is owned by Mrs. Sidney Groninger, the other by Noah Hertzler. -- He obtained a patent for it from Thomas and John Penn in the year 1773, being the 13th year of King George the Third. It was customary in colonial time to give the year of the King's reign, likewise to give names to tracts of land when patented. The Curren tract being named Williamsburg. It is interesting to notice the care and precision with which deeds and patents were written in those early days, and the beauty of the hand writing in many documents now more than a hundred years old. Curren sold this tract to Philip Kilmer, August 21, 1786. --Kilmer sold it to Sohn Shupe in 1791 for the sum of o187. He sold it to Philip Strouse about the year 1800. It was conveyed by the executors of Strouse's will to Richard Wilson in 1814. Wilson was married to Catharine Strouse. Their two daughters, Mrs. Groninger and Mrs. Crozier divided it into two parts in 1850. --Noah Hertzler purchased Mrs. C's part in 1858. The above named John Shupe lived at the old orchard on Mrs. G.'s land. He moved west many years ago. Kilmer bought of John Shupe the ridge land of the Robisons in the year 1800 for o35. It was taken up in 1799, and patented in 1802, being named Manchester. It was stated in the last sketch that Philip Kilmer bought the farm now owned by Peter Kilmer from William Curren in the year 1811. He likewise bought a large tract of mountain land from James Cummin. Most of this land now belongs to D.T. Kilmer. At the time of his death he owned about five hundred acres of valuable land in this neighborhood.

I shall now notice briefly the descendants of some of the persons named in this and the last sketch.

Philip Kilmer was of German descent; his father, Henry Peter Kilmer, came from Germany in the year 1754. He was an energetic, thrifty man. He was twice married. His first wife died about the year 1791. --After her death he married Mrs. Susanna Stoner, of Lancaster county. She was the mother of the venerable Abraham Stoner, of Fermanagh township. She died in the year 1841, aged 73 years. He died about the year 1815. He and his first wife had children as follows: I. Isaac, II. John, III. Philip, IV. Elizabeth, and V. Samuel. Isaac was a minister of the Mennonite church. --He was married to Eve Shelley. In the division of his father's estate he obtained the farm now owned by Peter Kilmer. In the year 1832 he sold it to his brother Philip, and moved with his family to Ohio, where he died. His descendant's are in Ohio and Indiana. John and Philip Kilmer had learned the trade of pump-making from their father, and John was killed many years ago while engaged in putting a pump in the well at the Jacobs' House, in Mifflintown. III. Philip Kilmer was born in the year 1785. In the division of his father's estate he obtained the farm on which the Robisons live. He sold this place to Thomas Robison in 1832, and bought his brother Isaac's farm as has been stated above. He married Mary Rice, daughter of Peter Rice and he died in 1843. She lives with her son Peter an dis now far advanced in years. Their children are as follows: 1. Peter married Fanny Shelley. Their children are (a) George Washington, who married Arahima P. McConnel; (b) Mary, wife of A. Y. McAfee; Emma, first wife of J.P. Johnson, Jr.; (d) Eliza J., wife of Thompson Kepner; (e) Philip, who married Elizabeth Rice, of Perry county; (f) Dr. John S., who married a lady of Mifflin county and (g) Maggie, wife of James Kirk. Peter Kilmer, after the death of his first wife married Julia Ann Bender, now deceased.

2. Eliza, who was married to the late John Hartman, of Walker township. She is the mother of Henry Hartman.

3. John, who married Catharine Rice, daughter of Jacob and Mary Rice. They moved to Ohio. Their son William edits and publishes the Shiloh Review in that State.

4. Philip, who married Mary Ann Koons, daughter of George and Mary Koons. Their children are (a) Margaretta, wife of T.H. McClure, of Turbett township, and (b) George, deceased.

5. Mary, wife of James Shoaf, of Port Royal.

6. Abbie, deceased.

7. Rebecca, she was married to David Kepner, and after his death to Mr. LaFayette Lyons. They reside in Ohio.

8. Sarah, deceased.

9. Margaretta, she was married to James Hill, of Chester county, and after his death to Daniel Winfield. --They reside in Kansas.

IV. Elizabeth Kilmer was married to John F. Rice, "the last survivor of Perry's victory." They moved to Ohio. She died in 1860. John F. Rice enlisted in Capt. Mathew Rodger's company and served in the war of 1812. (Capt. Rodgers was the grandfather of Mathew Rodgers, of Walker township). Rice is about 90 years old. He is said to be the last survivor of Perry's victory. He still resides in Ohio. He is a son of Peter Rice, who came from Chester county to Perry county about the year 1790, who purchased from Abraham Wells in the year 1797 the farm now owned by Judge Koons, and moved to it the same year. He was the father of Peter Rice, who is now in his 93rd year.

V. Samuel Kilmer married Sidney McCulloch, daughter of William McCulloch. In the division of his father's estate he obtained the farm now owned by his son David T. Kilmer. Samuel Kilmer died in 1870, in the 81st year of his age. Sidney, his wife, died in 1866, aged 71 years. Their children are as follows:

1. Mary Jane, who married to Dr. Kirk, of Waterford. They had one son, Samuel Kilmer Kirk, now residing in Illinois. They are both deceased.

2. Elizabeth, who married Isaiah Rice, of Port Royal. They are both deceased. Their children are (a) Hannah Catharine, who married David Reese. They live in Wyoming Territory; and (b) Jennie, deceased.

3. David T., who married Elizabeth Moss, daughter of William Moss. She was the mother of Howard Kilmer. After the death of his first wife, D.T. Kilmer married Priscilla Jane Boyer, daughter of Michael and Eveanna Boyer, of Perry county. Their children are (a) Sidney Catharine, (b) James C., who married Laura Baker, Alice C., Samuel B., Della and Ira.

4. Catharine, first wife of David Koons.

5. Susan, first wife of Joseph Kessler.

6. William A., who married Mary Yohn. He is now deceased.

7. Sidney, first wife of R.E. McMeen.

The name Kilmer is sometimes erroneously written Gilmore. They are separate and distinct names. --Philip Kilmer wrote the name "Kilmer" a century ago. The Kilmers have been from first to last a thrifty, industrious, upright, hospitable people--good citizens. The writer has not at hand data from which to write a fuller sketch of the family. This sketch has grown to such length as to make it necessary to defer notices of any other families to a future time.







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