LYCO Home     Cemeteries     Census     Family Trees     Lyco History     Links     Obits     Surnames    

History of Lycoming County Pennsylvania
edited by John F. Meginness; 1892








THIS township was formed in 1797 by dividing Muncy. It is the twentieth in size in the county and contains 12,800 acres. The township is bounded on the east by Moreland and Wolf, on the north by Muncy and Wolf, on the west by the river, which here gracefully sweeps around the eastern end of Bald Eagle mountain and bears away to the south; on the south by Northumberland and Montour counties. The township is well watered, being. divided into two unequal parts by Muncy. creek; Glade run and several smaller streams are also found within its borders.

The history of Muncy Creek township is the beginning of history in this part of the valley, for within its borders the first settlements were made and nearly all the stirring events of early times occurred. These events therefore are described in that part of this work relating to the colonial period. The borough of Muncy lies within its borders. By the census of 1890 the population was 1,740.

Geology. - The surface of Muncy Creek consists of Clinton Shales (No. V) around the borough of Muncy, succeeded by Lower Helderberg limestone (No. VI) mostly concealed, except at the ridge southwest of Hughesville.

Next above occur the Chemung measures (No. VIII) in their subdivisions, form-ing the entire southern area of the township. Along the river below Muncy Chemung rocks are observed very much broken up, and in one of the subdivisions occurs a paint shale, mined quite extensively by the Muncy Paint Company, from which a good article of paint is manufactured. The surface of the township is rolling, the land is good, and there are many splendid farms along the river and the creek. The southern line of the township runs across the famous Muncy Hills, which have figured in history from the first appearance of white men.

Port Penn. - The hamlet known as Port Penn is situated on the river bank just below the paint works. Near here stood the great elm under which certain Indian chiefs mentioned in the general history - met to confer with each other regarding their people. From this point several Indian paths diverged. The great Warrior spring, which has been a landmark for more than a hundred years, is seen here. Its main outlet. is along the river's edge.

Muncy dam, built in 1828, at a cost of $23,578.64, for the Pennsylvania canal, lies just below. At the time of its erection it was regarded as a fine piece of engineering work. It was constructed of crib-work filled with stone and covered with spars. The space between the stone and abutments is 973 feet; the wier of the dam is 863 feet, the shute is thirty-eight feet wide, the height of the comb of the dam nine feet, and the comb of the shute five feet above low water mark of the river. The dam is twelve feet high from the bottom of the river. The towing path around the base of Muncy Hills extends from the dam to the head of slackwater navigation., near Port Penn, a distance of four miles, and cost the State $15,369.06. The dam, is still intact, but the shute frequently gets out of order, and for years it has been a terror to raftsmen, who have to pass through it with their crafts. The canal has been abandoned above the dam.

In 1851 H. H. Blair took charge of the Port Penn Hotel. In packet boat days it was a popular station on the canal and all packets stopped there. He left in 1862 to take charge of the Petrikin House, Muncy borough. Port Penn was a lively place up to 1855, two or three boat yards were carried on, and there was con-siderable business activity, but the railroad destroyed all this.

Clarkestown is pleasantly located on Little Muncy creek, in a beautiful cove which opens into Muncy valley, a short distance below where the stream emerges from the rolling surface designated on the maps as the Muncy Hills. It is a quiet and orderly village, containing two churches, one school, one hotel, one grist mill, one saw mill, two blacksmith shops, one wagon maker shop, postoffice, and about twenty- five residences It has a lodge of Good Templars, a band of hopeful workers who would delight to see the abolition of alcohol.

The postoffice was established, June 10, 1869, and Jacob Feister appointed post-master. His successors have been Henry D. Gold, appointed May 26, 1873; John F. Gundrum, November 20, 1885; Jared Dewald, January 21, 1888, and William F. Bitler, November 10, 1891, the present incumbent.

Industries. - There are three flouring mills in this township. Shoemaker's mills, the oldest, historically, in the county, belong to the heirs of Jacob Cook. Willow Grove mill, now owned by the heirs of George Stolz, was first built by Isaac Walton in 1797, on Muncy creek. At the same time he erected a saw mill. The Clarkes-town mill, now owned by W. S. Bieber & Company, was first built by Thomas McCarty about the year 1800.

In 1817 Samuel and Jonathan Rogers bought the Willow Grove Mills and erected a frame woolen mill. It was destroyed by fire in 1826. The Rogers Brothers then disolved partnership, and Samuel Rogers, taking Jonathan's interest in the property, built a three-story brick factory, 75x45, and continued the manufacture of woolen goods until 1840, when he sold out and left Muncy to take charge of the White Deer Woolen Mills. The building was then allowed to fall into decay, and now scarcely A trace of the foundation remains.

In 1812 John Opp, son of Philip Opp, one of the pioneers of Moreland township, built a wool carding and cloth dressing mill on the south side of Little Muncy creek, a short distance above the site of Clarkestown. This was for some years a great convenience to the inhabitants of Moreland and the adjacent country, in the days when little but homespun clothing was worn.

The Muncy Black Filler Company is composed of William G. Elliott, of Williamsport, and Levi Hill, of Muncy. The plant was established in 1888. They manufacture a carriage, car, and safe filler, which is now extensively used. They also make ready mixed paints, in all desirable colors, for house and outside painting. The factory is located just south of the Reading railroad station. They use the black shale found on the Musser farm near by, which, is a solid, impervious shale composed of about fifty per cent silicate, fourteen per cent carbon, and the balance iron, magnesia, and moisture.

The Keystone Paint Company was founded as early as 1873. by R. E. Gray. Later the company was organized with Mr. Gray as president and H. T. Ames, of Williamsport, as secretary and treasurer. Their plant is located on the west side of the canal near the Reading railroad station. They manufacture the "Keystone black lead," a mixed paint for carriages and a slating paint for blackboards. These paints are made from a silicated carbon that crops out from under the Muncy Hills near the river. The annual output of the company is 600 tons of the black filler and from 5,000 to 10,000 gallons of the black lead.

Schools. - The first school taught within the bounds of Muncy Creek, of which we have any reliable account, was presided over by Moses Rorick. There doubtless were private schools before this, when we come to consider the age of the settlement. This school was in the old Immanuel church, on the road between Muncy borough and Hughesville. Another school was opened about the same time near the southwest corner of Muncy manor, and was taught by George Hogg. The first building, erected for school purposes exclusively was built on the road near the manor line by the co-operation of the neighbors, and called the Guide school house. This was completed about 1816. In this house in 1818 a Sunday school was organized, being the first in that part of the county, and was sustained as a union school, all denominations contributing to its support. Samuel Rogers was the first superintendent. The old school house long since disappeared and a more pretentious building occupies its site.

Since that day education has made great advances. There are now nine schools in the township, viz: Guide, Port Penn (two), Shane, Glade Run, Buckley (Northwest), Clarkestown, Turkey Bottom, and Shoemaker's Mill.

Immanuel's Lutheran Church, Clarkestown, is one of the oldest and most historic in the county. Its centennial was commemorated, July 23, 1891, and a historical address was delivered by Rev. J. M. Steck. He says that Henry Shumaker donated the land upon which the first church was erected. It originally consisted of thirteen acres, and the deed conveying the land to Immanuel's Lutheran church was executed, April 5, 1791. The erection of the church edifice was commenced at once. It was constructed of logs and afterwards weather boarded. The exact time of its dedication is unknown. It was a large structure for that time, being nearly as large as the edifice that followed, and that, it is said, seated about 600 persons. There were galleries on three sides of the building, and a "stem glass pulpit" on the other side, with a "sounding board" above it. When the second church was built the pulpit was taken away to do service in another church. The. pews were high backed, about as high as the heads of the worshipers seated on them. The building was in every way worthy of the times, and the means possessed to erect it. The first church edifice was entirely Lutheran, though it was generously opened for service to other denominations. Among the latter were the Episcopalians and German Reformed, who effected organizations in it. For a long time it was the only church located in the lower end of the county, and as far as can be learned, the first church in the bounds of Lycoming county.

The second edifice, Rev. Steck informs us, was built of brick. It was erected in the rear of the old building, so that the latter could be used until the new one was completed, and presented an imposing appearance. The corner stone was laid, April 5, 1832. Had it not been that the walls began to show signs of crumbling it might have stood for years longer as a place of worship and an impressive memorial of other days. The third and present edifice was built under the pastoral charge of Rev. U. Myers. The corner stone was laid, August 28, 1869, and the church was dedicated, May 1, 1870. The cost of the building was $3,480.25.

The first Lutheran pastor, of whom we have any record, was Pastor Lehman. The records show that he baptized Susan Catharine Gortner, afterward Baker, the grandmother of Rev. J. M. Steck, in 1781. That was before the close of the war and when the, times were yet perilous in the valley. There is nothing to show whether he conducted regular services at that day or not, but probably he did. He might have been pastor at the time the church was dedicated. The constitution was adopted in 1794. It is a carefully written document, in German. All the church records were kept in German until 1832. It is supposed he was pastor up to 1795, after which there is no record of baptism until 1801. The next pastor was Victor George Charles Stock. He came from Sunbury and began his labors in 1801, and served till about 1813. That year Frederick Engle became pastor. Among those whom he baptized during his pastorate was "Father Jacob Miller, the Apostle of the dispersion in Lycoming county, who has preached more sermons, traveled on foot more miles to do so, and received less pay, in proportion to his labor, than any other minister who ever labored in the bounds of Lycoming county." He was born, August 9, 1812, and baptized October 26th of the same year. This venerable minister was present at the centennial observances on July 23, 1891, and still survives.

Historian Steck is unable to say how long Pastor Engle remained, but there are records to show that he was there as late as 1823. He was succeeded by Rev. Jacob Repass. The latter was succeeded by Rev. William Garman in 1829, when he resigned in 1832 to enable the church to secure a pastor who could preach in both German and English. Rev. Charles Phillip Miller became his successor, and during his pastorate the second church edifice was completed and dedicated. Rev. Charles F. Staver succeeded Miller, April 9, 1837, and remained until the fall of 1839, when Rev. John T. Williams took his place. During these years the church was prosperous, large numbers being added to it. At a communion held in June, 1843, 227 persons were present at the service. This popular minister was succeeded by Rev. George Parson, D. D., December 8, 1845, and during his ministry hundreds were added to the congregation.

The mother church had now grown to such an extent that it became necessary to organize now congregations. This work was continued until there are now nineteen congregations within the field over which Old Immanuel used to exercise a fostering care. The labors of Dr. Parson became so great that he was obliged to retire, January 1, N65. Rev. E. A. Sharretts became his successor. During his pastorate a difficulty arose and by action of synod the doors of the church were closed. At the end of two years they were again opened and Rev. U. Myers took charge in June; 1869. He commenced with twelve members and in two years the number was increased to fifty-two, and they were worshiping in a new church edifice. Rev. Myers resigned in January, 1871, and was succeeded by Rev. George Eichholtz as regular pastor, who commenced his labors, April 1, 1872, and served for several years. When he retired Rev. W. R. McCutcheon took his place in 1878, and after three years of excellent work resigned in 1881. Rev. J. R. Sample became his successor and served the congregation from 1882 to April 1, 1887. Under his charge the church prospered greatly. Rev. A. B. Erhart was the next pastor and served one year. Rev. A.. C. Felker then took charge, but in the midst of the promise of a successful ministry his career was cut short by death. Rev. Marcus M., Havice, the present pastor, succeeded him and he is doing a good work.,

Among the pastors of other churches who conducted services in the historic church and organized congregations, was the Rev. Caleb Hopkins of the Episcopal church. He began his labors in 1795, four years after the completion of the first edifice. The Rev. William Eldred was his successor. He died, December 16,1827, and was buried in the cemetery of the church. Rev. Lucius Carter succeeded him. During his ministry, in 1828, a notable event occurred in the old church, in a visit to the congregation by the celebrated' Bishop Onderdonk, who conducted a confirmation service.

The German Reformed church also effected an organization in Old Immanuel. Rev. Guetelius was the first pastor. He conducted services in both German and English, and was pastor at the time Rev. Jacob Repass was serving the congregation. Rev. Wagner was the next Reformed pastor, and had as his successor Rev. Tobias. He was followed by Rev. Henry Weignant, who became a co-laborer with Rev. Williams, and was afterwards associated with Rev. Dr. Parson, of the Lutheran church, and often assisted him in conducting revival services.

The old burial ground connected with the church contains the ashes of scores of pioneer settlers, and a study of the quaint tombstones and their inscriptions is both interesting and instructive.

In connection with his historical address Rev. Steck relates many interesting reminiscences of the early settlers of Muncy township and members of Old Immanuel, which are condensed and given herewith. Many of these settlers were descendants of those who fled from the Fatherland on account of the calamities of the Thirty Years' war, which desolated with fire and sword the fairest portion of Germany. Many of these people settled in the Muncy valley before the beginning of the Revolution. Most of them came from Berks county. The names mentioned first in the records of the church are the Hills and the Gortners. John Daniel Hill and a son bearing the same name commenced a settlement where Muncy now stands. Both were captured by the Indians. The son was afterwards killed by them arid the father died of starvation while held as a prisoner in Canada. Joseph Hill, a brother of John Daniel Hill, Sr., escaped. He entered.the Revolutionary army, and at the close of the war returned and settled in what is now Moreland township, where many of his descendants now live. Another brother named Jacob settled on land near Muncy. He had a son who bore the same name, who was the father of David and Jacob Hill. The first named Jacob had also seven daughters, to each of whom it is said he gave a farm as a marriage portion. Catharine was married to Peter Dunkelberger, Eve to J. George Doctor, Mary to Daniel Buck, Elizabeth to John Baker; another was married to Daniel Gortner, and still another to Joseph Hill, and it is not remembered to whom the last was married.

The first records found are those of baptisms as early as 1780, eleven years before the erection of the first Immanuel's church. Jacob Gortner, mentioned in the first record, was a son of George Gortner, who settled in the Muncy valley, near the bridge, on the road leading from Muncy to Hughesville. The descendants of this family are prominently represented in every period of the church's history since its organization.

George Gortner came to the valley as early as 1773, and toiled for five years in: clearing a farm. He was killed by the Indians in 1778, while taking a walk with a friend who was visiting him. He had four sons: Jacob, John, Henry Philip, and Daniel, and a number of daughters. From these sons the families bearing the Gortner name descended, who are connected with the history of the church. The name of Henry Philip is found in the first constitution, which was adopted by the church in 1794. His daughter Susanna Catharine was baptized by Rev. John Lehman in 1781. She was afterwards united in marriage to Jacob Baker. One of the descendants of Henry Philip Gortner-Samuel Gortner-was recently living at the ripe age of ninety-one years. Henry Philip Gortner had two other sons, David and Peter, some of whose descendants are still in the valley. The name of Jacob, another son of George Gortner, is also found upon the first constitution, and was very prominent in the church. Col. John Gortner was one of his descendants. Still another son of George Gortner, John, is represented by the descendants of Col. John Gortner, now living near White Pigeon, Michigan, and of Jacob Gortner, of White Deer valley, and the descendants of the Butler family, some of whom are still connected with the congregation at Immanuel's church. The descendants of Daniel Gortner are found among the representative members of the Lairdsville charge.

Three persons by the name of Shumacher are recorded on the first constitution: Henry, who gave the ground for the church and cemetery; Benjamin, and Conrad. They were among the early settlers in the valley and evidently took a deep interest in the establishment of the church. Many of the descendants of these families are still living in the Muncy valley.

The name of Gottfried Feister is frequently found in the church records. He was among the signers of the first constitution. Some of the representatives of this family still live in the valley. One of the daughters married John Opp and another Jacob Opp; and still another Jacob Courson.

The name of Beeber is frequently met with in the records of the church, and is appended to the constitution. John, Nicholas, and Adam are mentioned, all of whom were soldiers in the Revolution and took part in many battles. At the close of the war Nicholas settled in what is now Wolf township, on the farm now belong-ing to the heirs of the late John Beeber. John Beeber settled on Muncy creek in 1783, and is represented by the descendants of Isaac, George, and Col. Jacob Beeber. This family has been prominently identified with the Lutheran church in Muncy valley in every period of its history. Teter D. Beeber And his brother John were prominently interested in the movement to establish, the Lutheran church at Muncy while others of the name are connected with the church at Clarkestown, as well as Immanuel's.

The name of Dimm is also prominent in the history of this church. Those bearing the name are now as prominent in her communion as they were at the beginning. They are the descendants of John Dem, afterwards changed into Dimm, who came from Wurtemberg about 1750. His family consisted of a wife, and daughter, and a son born during the voyage. They lived for a time in Philadelphia, where the father died leaving the widow with two children. When old enough, Christopher, the son, was indentured to learn a trade at Hamburg, Berks county. There he married Margaret Sidtler. During the Revolution he served for a time in the militia, and after his death his widow received a pension. About 1796 he came with his family to Muncy valley and settled on a tract of land, supposed to belong to the State, just back of Hughesville. While preparing a home he found hospitable shelter with the family of the father of the late Jacob Hill, who had come some time before from the same county. After building his house he was forced to abandon it, as well as the land, on account of a prior claim, forfeiting all that had been done by way of improvement.

After this unlucky experience Christopher Dimm. removed to the elevated land, two and one-half miles south of Muncy, and built a house by the road leading to Milton. Here his family grow up and were received into Immanuel's. Lutheran church. All continued to live in the same community, except one son, who removed to Juniata county, where the family is now represented in the Lutheran church. Some of the family took a deep interest in Immanuel's church in every period of its history. The family has one representative in the Lutheran ministry, Rev. J. R. Dimm, D. D.

Another name identified with Immanuel's church in its early history is that of Jacob Hill, son of John Daniel Hill. He was born in Windsor township, Berks county, May 9, 1750. On the breaking out of the Revolution he entered the army and served for over seven years. At the close of the war he was married to Christina Gortner, daughter of George Gortner, already referred to, she having patiently and faithfully waited for his return, as their engagement was made previous to his enlistment. Their children were John, who married Catharine Stock; Daniel, who married Susanna Truckenmiller; Jacob, who married Louisa Morris; Susanna, who married Henry Dieffenbach; Catharine, who married Frederick Stock; Elizabeth, who married John Stock; Hannah, who married Adam Sarver, and Christina, who married John Houseknecht. For several years after marriage they lived in Berks county. In 1794 they, came to Muncy valley, he having previously purchased the farm now owned by Dr. George Hill. He died, January 9, 1824, just six days after the death of his wife, whose remains he had followed to the grave. His son, John Hill, became an active member of Immanuel's church, and was the leader in the movement to build a church edifice and organize in Hughesville. He was about the first man in the community to take a firm stand on the subject of total abstinence. John Hill married Cath-arine, a daughter of Baltzer Steck. Of their daughters four were united in marriage to Lutheran ministers, while a son, Rev. R. Hill, and a grandson, Rev. W. P. Evans, are in the Lutheran ministry.

Baltzer Stock, as well as his gone, Frederick and John, were early associated with the old church. The former was born in Germantown, July 6, 1759, of German parentage, and he and his brother, M. J. Stock, were received into the Lutheran church at that place. Rev. M. J. Stock was one of the pioneers of the Lutheran church. in the western part of the State. He was pastor of the church at Greensburg, together with a number of other congregations, for many years. His son, Rev. M. J. Steck, was first his assistant, and then his successor. Their united ministry in the church at that place, extended over a period of nearly sixty years.

Baltzer Stock was a miller by trade and located at an early day near Northumberland, where he was employed by Mr. Jenkins to run a mill. There he married Elizabeth Fague, daughter of Frederick Fague, who then resided near Sunbury. She was received into the Lutheran church at Sunbury about 1783. At that time services were hold in a building erected in connection with Fort Augusta.

Baltzer Stock died in 1821, and his wife in 1847. This family was identified with Immanuel's church for many years, and the sons afterwards took part in the organization and the erection of the first Lutheran church in Hughesville. Three of the sons of Frederick Steck: Daniel, Jacob, and Charles T., studied for the Lutheran ministry. Daniel Stock, D. D., is now deceased but two of his sons are in the ministry Rev. O. F., of Muncie, Indiana, and Rev, Augustus Stock, of Indianapolis. The other brother, John, has two sons in the ministry - Rev. W. H. and J. M., and the latter has also a son in the ministry, Rev. W. F. Stock. One of the daughters of John Stock is married to Rev. C. W. Sanders, a Lutheran minister of Canton, Illinois. The Stock family has been represented in the Lutheran ministry for over 100 years. The family still has its representatives in the churches of Muncy and Hughesville.

Frederick Fague removed to Wolf township about the same time that his son-in-law, Baltzer Stock, came. He had two sons, George and William. From these have descended the Fagues found in Mancy valley, many of whom are still connected with the Lutheran church.

The Buck family is another largely represented in the Lutheran church. They are descendants of Henry Buck, who was born in 1749. He came to the valley in an early day and resided on lands which were afterwards known as the Narbor farms. He died in 1791. His sons were Daniel, Jacob, Peter, and John. Samuel, the son of Jacob, was a member of the building committee when the last church edifice was erected. His brother Henry was for many years a prominent and highly respected business man in the lower part of the county. Leonard Buck, of the Lutheran church of Montoursville, is a descendant of the Henry Buck first named.

The Poust family is another of prominence in the church today. The first, representative was so early in the valley as to be drafted as a soldier during the. Revolution, but as the war closed almost immediately afterward he did not report, for duty. The family is now represented in the church at Hughesville by the grandsons - John, Jacob, and Daniel, and by others in the Lairdsville charge.

Peter Dunkelberger was also among the early settlers in the valley. He came from Berks county between 1770 and 1780. During the Revolution he served in the army. He too took an active part in the erection of the first and second church edifices.

Another name represented in almost every period of the church's history is that of Harman. They are the descendants of George Harman, who was born: in Germany, came to this country when a young man, and Settled in Berks county. During the Revolution he served in the army. When peace was restored he came to Muncy valley and was employed for some time as a teacher in the school belonging to the congregation. He is still represented in the church by Peter Harman and other descendants.

Another name associated with the history of Immanuel's church is that of Reibsam. They are descendants of John Sebastain Reibsam, a native of Germany. Soon after marriage he came to Pennsylvania and settled at Germantown, and afterwards resided in what is now Schuylkill county. Here he followed big profession as a teacher for several years. And in addition to his duties as teacher, he was frequently called upon to conduct funeral services, and read sermons in the absence of the pastor. In course of time he came to Muncy. His family consisted of five sons and two daughters. One of the latter was the mother of Father Jacob Miller already referred to. The sons - Louis, John, Peter, and Philip - at an early day, settled with their father in Muncy. John afterward removed to Philadelphia and Louis to Union county. Peter and Philip remained at Muncy, and the latter was for many years a merchant in that place.

In conclusion Historian Steck says that time would fail to tell of the "Ulches, of the Narbors, and of the McConnels, of the Artleys and the Butlers, of the Houseknechts and the Michaels, of the Derrs, the Ritters, and Kahlers, and in later times of the Frontzes, Heilmans, Turners, Apps, Lairds, McClains, Frymires, Longs, and Rissels, and others, some of whom were identified with the church in its earliest history, and others as well in its most palmy days, who assisted in clearing the ground and sowing the seed, and reaping the harvest, from which so rich a fruitage of results has been gathered by the Lutheran church in the bounds of Lycoming county."

Old Immanuel! What a glorious record for the church organized before Lycoming was formed, a hundred years ago! In the territory originally under the spiritual care of this historic church there are now nineteen church edifices and as many organizations, possessing church property valued at $80,000, and divided into pastorates which are now supporting seven ministers. The membership numbers 1,714 communicants, with Sunday schools numbering 1,770 Scholars, and 245 officers and teachers.


Lying in the extreme southeastern part of the county is the. township of Moreland. It was formed out of territory taken from Muncy Creek in 1813, and for nine years after its separation, or until 1822, it included all the territory that now comprises Franklin, Jordan, and a portion of Penn. At December sessions, 1821, William Wilson and William Cox Ellis, who had been appointed commissioners to divide the township into three parts, reported that they had done so, whereupon the court confirmed their report and the two now townships cut off were named Penn and Franklin. Moreland as it now stands is the nineteenth township in size and contains 13,120 acres. By the census of 1890 the population was 737. Its area consists almost wholly of Chemung formation (No. VIII). It is bounded on the east by Franklin, on the north by Penn, on the west by Wolf and Muncy Creek, and on the south by Montour county.

Several traditions are given, and may be recorded, to account for the selection of the name Moreland. One of these represents that when the first settler ascended to the crest of one of the highest hills he saw a great deal more-land than he expected to see, and in surprise and delight he exclaimed, "more-land !" Another explains that the early surveys were generally made so carelessly, and the allowances for roads were so liberal, that the settlers found that they got "moreland to the acre" than they expected,, or than could be got elsewhere. Still another tradition says that the earliest settlers had first prospected in the region of Paradise, immediately, south of the hills, and finally concluded to locate there because the land was cheaper and much better timbered, and they found they could get more-land and more value for their money. These are to be regarded as mere speculations, though possibly based upon some fact not now remembered.

The word "Moreland," used to be applied to "a hilly country," as may be seen by the old dictionaries, and it may therefore be reasonably inferred that this is really what suggested the name to the applicants for a new township, as "hilliness", is the striking feature of the whole of the extensive territory of which the then, new province was composed.

Pioneers. Some of the early settlers in this hilly land are deserving of more than a passing notice. Col. George Smith, who had served in the war for independence, located on Little Mancy creek about 1790. He came from Montgomery county. In 1796 he erected the first grist mill in the township. He had three sons and three daughters - Thomas, Jonathan, George, Annie, Hannah, and Effie. William Farr married Annie and came along with the family from Montgomery. William was reared a strict Quaker. The Smiths were equally strict Baptists. The taking of a wife of a different faith was not approved by the Friends, so William was asked to confess that he had done wrong. He could not see that he had erred, and insisted that he neither could nor would make such a confession. He considered his Annie a good Christian woman, and on reflection finally concluded that her religion was as good as his own and settled the matter by adopting her belief. Hannah Smith married Richard Barclay, and Effie married William Chamberlin; they settled with their husbands in Moreland.

Jonathan Smith, son of Col. George Smith, came to Lycoming from Montgomery county about 1795, He had married Annie Simpson, who was a sister of John Simpson, of Ohio, who was the grandfather of Gen. Ulysses Simpson Grant, the most famous of American soldiers of modem times, and twice President of the United States. Jonathan and Annie's children were therefore first cousins of the great chieftains mother, Hannah Simpson Grant. The General's proper name was Hiram Ulysses Grant, but by some inadvertence when the official document was made out appointing him a cadet to the Military Academy at West Point, his name was changed to Ulysses Simpson Grant, and the mistake was never rectified.

William Mears was not only one of the first settlers, but was the first singing master who taught the young raisers of buckwheat of Moreland how to read the buckwheat notes! Mrs. Rhoda Farr Taylor, of Rock Run, a very bright old lady who is now in her eighty-eighth year, and a granddaughter of Col. George Smith, says that she was one of Mears's pupils, and she "don't believe that the young people now-a-days have such fun as they used to have at Mears's singing school"

Philip Opp, who came with his father, John Opp, from Amsterdam, settled on Little Muncy creek, near where Opp postoffice and P. W. Opp's store and saw mill now are, some time during 1790, though he did not get a deed for his land until 1797. He has a great many descendants scattered throughout the county and far beyond its borders. His son, Philip Opp, Jr., married Hannah Smith, a daughter of Jonathan Smith, and, as we have seen, a first cousin I of Hannah Grant, the mother, of the great American soldier.

The late accomplished Lieut. Col. Milton Opp, of the Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, who fell disabled by a mortal wound in the battle of the Wilderness, was a son of Hannah Smith Opp, and a second cousin therefore to Gen. Ulysses Simpson Grant. The great commander was ignorant of his relationship, to, this worthy young soldier and scholar; and the latter was too modest even to mention the fact so that it might reach the ears of his famous kinsman. Milton Opp, one of the most brilliant and promising young men of his time, was born, August 28, 1835, and was not quite twenty-nine years old when he fell, along with. many other brave men of his regiment, in the terrible charge made on the rebel lines at Spottsylvania on the 6th of May, 1864.

Among other early settlers whose names are still remembered, though the dates of their arrival can not be recalled, are Michael Gower, Joseph Hill, Jacob Shipman, Henry Fiester, Nathaniel Brittain, and Peter Jones. The last named, a hero of the Revolution and one of the sufferers at Valley Forge, died in 1850, when within but a few months of being one hundred years old. Hill. was also one of Washington's sturdy soldiers. Christopher Derr and. Thomas Taggart were among the earliest settlers on Laurel Run. The bones of these hardy pioneers, their wives, and many of their children and grandchildren now lie moldering in the silent graveyards beside the churches that rest as diadems on the hills they fondly loved, but the lands they cleared, the roads they built, and the way they prepared for religion and civilization are works that will forever follow and bless their names.

Topography. - Moreland is watered by the following streams: Little Muncy creek, which runs through its center, and its main tributaries of Laurel run, Beaver run, Shipman's run, and Sinking run. There are two grist mills in the township; P. W. Opp's and Hon. Henry Johnson's. The latter was long known as "Smith's mill." There are two steam saw mills-one owned by P. W. Opp; the other by J. H. Magargel. Mr. Opp is also the owner of a, store, and Philip Sherwood conducts another. There are no villages, no summer residences, and no industries, besides those above mentioned, except agriculture. There is very little timber left.

Postoffices. - The people of this township are accommodated with two postoffices. One is named Moreland, the other is called Opp. The first, Smith's Mills, was established March 1, 1831, and Amass Smith was appointed postmaster. He continued to serve until March 20, 1833, when the name of the office was changed to Moreland, and Thomas Smith was appointed postmaster. His successors have been as follows: Robert Colburn, February 18, 1835; William Chamberlin, August 11, 1843; Jeremiah Smith, June 2, 1845; Joshua Bogart, May 8, 1849; Henry Bitter, August 12, 1850; Thomas Opp, Jr., August 27, 1853; Michael Winegardner, September 24, 1857; William J. Schuyler,, November 13, 1860; John D. Smith, January 17, 1861; George W. Crawford, June 15, 1869; Gwyn L. Hess, March 7, 1881; Mark A. Minnier, March 24, 1882; Joseph B. Welliver, February 26, 1884; Henry B. McClain, July 24, 1888; Ruggles S. McHenry, present incumbent, January 26, 1801.

Opp is the name of the second postoffice. It was opened December 1& 1886, and Philip W. Opp was appointed postmaster. He is the present incumbent.

Schools. - Moreland has seven school houses, named as follows: Eighth Square, Opp, Laurel Run, Back Bone, Frenchtown, Hill, and Green Valley. The report for 1891 shows an average of six months of school taught.

Churches. - The township: has two churches - one Lutheran and one Baptist. There is also a Methodist house of worship, but there is no organization of membership, at the present writing, (February, 1892) and the building, is not in use. A cemetery is connected with each of these church buildings.

A goodly number of the early settlers were Baptists and became, members of what was long known as the, "Little Muncy Baptist church," later as the Madison church, which, according to the most reliable information obtainable, was organized in September, 1817, This church served for the people of the adjoining corners of Columbia, Montour, and Northumberland counties, and the greater portion of Lycoming county east of Big Muncy creek and the Allegheny mountain. Meetings were hold alternately in nearly all parts of this great field, often in school houses, private houses, and. sometimes in the woods. The Moreland Baptists formally separated from the Madison church and organized the Moreland church, July 2,1846, and in a few years thereafter raised, a house of worship of their own. They worshiped for a number, of years in the Union House. In 1865 Rev. Henry E. Munro became pastor, and under his zealous pastorate the old building; was taken down and the present more comfortable edifice erected in 1882.


Franklin was detached from Moreland in 1822, and for thirty-two years, included the territory we now call Jordan, and for six years a poirtion. also of what is now Penn township. It was named in honor of the celebrated Dr. Benjamin Franklin. It is the sixteenth in size in the county and contains 16,320 acres. By the census of 1800 the population Was 1,063. It is bounded on the east by Jordan, on the north by, Columbia county, on the wept by Penn and Moreland, and on the south by Montour county. Its topographical features are the same as characterize the mother township, and the younger townships of which it in turn became, the parent. The surface may be described as presenting the aspect of a sea of wave-like hills, mostly short and rounded, with here and there sides too steep to admit of easy cultivation. It is in brief, a section of the Muncy Hills. The soil as a rule is more productive than might be supposed. The general prosperity of the inhabitants and the substantial improvements reared on every hand are evidences of fertility that can not be questioned.

Little Muncy creek cuts through the township nearly in its center. Its tributaries within the territory are Big run, Beaver run, Indian Camp run, Beach Bottom run, and other smaller streams. Laurel run drains the southern portion.

Pioneers. - Among the earliest settlers within the territory of Franklin may be mentioned John Rhen, Frederick Rhen, John Mecum, David Mecum, William Howell, Nathan Howell, Peter Snyder, Solomon Reed, Joseph Lyons, Daniel Ritter, William Lore, --- Raker, John Hartman, and Henry Funston.

Industries. - There are two steam sawmills in the township, viz: Henry Poust's and Lowe Brothers.' There are also fifteen water power mills, owned as follows: John Houseknecht, Dugan & Houseknecht, Jacob Houseknecht, Spring Brothers, Philip Snyder, P. Crouse & Brothers, Raper, & Phillips, P. J. Vandine, Bodine & Warn, ]Killer & Brothers, Jeremiah Phillips, Frederick Kleman, Russel Swisher, Andrew Robbins, and Henry Temple. These mills stand idle much of the time, as lumbering as an industry is yearly becoming less prominent. Already many mills have rotted down that will never be rebuilt.

The most important industrial enterprise in the township for some years was the .Franklin tannery, located about half a mile below Lairdsville, and established in 1832 by Messrs. Enos Hawley and Thomas G. Downing. Mr. Simon Hawley, a resident of Chester county, had an, interest in the business. The firm name was Hawley, & Downing. It was one of the largest tanneries of that period in northern Pennsylvania, giving employment to a large number of hands, and affording a good and convenient market to the inhabitants of the surrounding country for bark and hides. In connection with the tannery the firm several years later opened a leather store and shoe factory in the borough of Muncy, of which branch of the business Enos Hawley then took charge and moved to Muncy, while Mr. Downing superintended the tannery. Simon Hawley attended to the purchase of hides and the sale of leather in Philadelphia. Downing finally sold his interest to John Starr, and. thereafter the firm name for some years was Hawley, Starr & Company. The tannery is now in ruins, and in a few more years nearly all vestiges of what was once a place of interest and activity, and of great advantage to the inhabitants, will entirely disappear. The site is now owned by H. H. Ring.

Robert Hawley, Esq., one of Lycoming county's honored citizens, a member of the bar, and widely known for his poetical genius, was a son of Enos Hawley. He was not born at the Franklin tannery, but he spent some of the happiest years of his boy life there, and at the Lairdsville school received his first instruction, and had his hide tanned by both tanner and teacher, as often as occasion required. Muncy borough claims to be the place, of his death. His brother, Alfred Hawley, now of Northumberland, was born at the tanner on the night of "the falling of the stars", in November, 1833.

Enos Hawley is remembered and honored by the generation that know him as of man of the strictest integrity and morality. He was the first man in his community who had the courage to vote the Abolition ticket. He had considerable of the John Brown in his mental make-up, but being in sympathy with the Friends in his ideas of war, be was not in the same spirit aggressive. He was appointed postmaster of Muncy, July 9, 1861, and served to March 12, 1878, a period of nearly twelve years. He died, October 2, 1881. Mr. Hawley was born in Chester county, near the Brandywine battlefield, in June, 1799, and his parents came to Lycoming county in 1802 and settled in Muncy township.

Lairdsville is the only village in the township. It has two churches, three stores, one hotel, one wagon maker shop, one steam planing mill, one grist mill, two blacksmith shops, and two physicians. It is pleasantly located on Little Muncy creek, on a beautiful alluvial flat, among the Muncy Hills. Benjamin C. Morris erected the hotel and opened a store in 1841, and these, it is said, were the first improvements.

There is a postoffice at Lairdsville. The old postoffice, known as Chestnut Grove, was abandoned. Lairdsville postoffice was established, February 20, 1829,. and John Laird appointed postmaster. His successors served as follows - Hiram Funston, appointed May 11, 1831; Anthony Starr, June 2, 1835; Issachar Morris, December 23, 1840; Charles W. Funston, March 13, 1844; Brittain Magargel, June 14, 1845; William Howell, May 7, 1846; John Everitt, July 7, 1847; Levi Q. Howell, August 4, 1848; Charles W. Funston, May 8, 1849; John, F. Funston, February 12, 1850; John M. Fiester, February 19, 1852. Lairdsville was changed to Funstonville, March 16, 1852, and John Fiester was appointed postmaster. He was succeeded by Brittain Magargel, December 21, 1852. Funstonville was changed back to Lairdsville, October 15,1855, and Brittain Magargel. was appointed postmaster. His successors have been as follows: Hiram. Crouse, March 25, 1861; A. W. Ritter, June 29, 1881; Charles B. Raper, June 26, 1882; John P. Heill, September 24, 1885; Oliver P. Hess, September 5, 1887; Thomas J. Raper, present incumbent, July 20, 1889.

James Derr, who died April 6, 1892, at the age of seventy-nine years, was one of the oldest residents of the village. He had served as a justice of the peace for fifty years, and at the time of his death was the oldest justice in continuous service in the county. His son Charles is the only survivor of the family.

Lairdsville Lodge, No. 986, I. O. O. F., was recently instituted in the village.

Mengwe. - A new postoffice, called Mengwe, was established, November 28, 1891, and Mary E. Smith was appointed postmaster. It is on the road leading to Lairdsville, four miles from Hughesville. The name, Mengwe, was what the Delaware Indians called the Iroquois, or Five Nations. The office was not opened for business till January 1, 1892.

Schools. - Franklin township has six school houses. Their local names are Germany, Fairview, Lairdsville, Starr, Chestnut Grove, and North Mountain.

Churches. - The Lutherans and Baptists each have churches at Lairdsville. The Lutherans also have one in the township, viz., Franklin. The Albright Methodists have one known as Fairview, and there is also a Union church at Stone Heap, which makes five in the township. All have cemeteries attached except the Baptist church at Lairdsville. There are no other cemeteries in the township.


Jordan township was detached from Franklin, by an irregular line running nearly north and south, and organized into a separate subdivision of the county, February 7, 1854. It was named after Alexander Jordan, who was president judge of the district of which Lycoming formed a part at that time. Jordan is the twenty-fifth in size in the county and contains 9,920 acres, with a population of 891 by the census of 1890. It is the last division of the territory extending from the West Branch of the Susquehanna to the North Mountain that was once known as Muncy Creek township. Looking at it on the map it will be found to be the extreme eastern part of Lycoming county, penetrating for some distance the counties of Columbia and Sullivan in the form of an acute angle. These counties therefore bound it on the north, east, and south, and Franklin township of the west.

Geology and Topography. - Geologically the township consists of Chemung (No. VIII) in the south, Red Catskill (No. IX) in the north and east, Pocono (No. X) on the extreme east end or point. Everywhere along the Sullivan county line on the northern borders of the township,, and across, the end of. Franklin township, the soil and rocks are red.

The land is generally high, dry, and rolling, with deep ravines, and does not materially differ from, that of Franklin and Penn; it is occupied by the same class of hardy industrious inhabitants; and the improvements, dwellings, schools, and houses of worship indicate the same general thrift and growing desire for moral and intellectual advancement,

The eastern side of the township, that portion bordering on Columbia, county, is the watershed from which Little Muncy creek has its source, from numerous springs and rivulets; and it flows westward and empties, into Big Muncy about two miles above the confluence of the latter with. the river at the borough of Muncy; and it is likewise the watershed from which Little Fishing creek rises, and flowing southward finally mingles its waters with Big Fishing creek, which discharges into the North Branch of the Susquehanna, in the neighborhood of Bloomsburg.

The First Permanent Settler in the territory of what now constitutes Jordan township is believed to have been William Lore,, who penetrated that wilderness region as early as 1812. After encountering many difficulties and' enduring great hardships, he succeeded in founding a home. Some of his descendants are still living in the township.

Mills. - There is one grist mill in the township, owned by Marshall Stout,, and three steam saw mills. They, are owned by Bodine & Warn, John Stackhouse, and Clark Johnson; there are also four water power mills, run by G. B. Robbins, T. S. Minmer, Henry Gordner, and Daniel Gordner. Timber is rapidly becoming scarce, and lumbering will cease in a few years.

Unityville is the only village in the township. It has one Temperance House, kept by John J. Fay, and two stores - Pennington, Moore & Seeley's, and A. H. Seward's. There are no summer residences within its borders, and no other industries but the gristmill, lumbering, and farming. The postoffice, named Unityville, was established Jane 1, 1854, and Philip Young was appointed postmaster. He was succeeded by James Young, appointed March 28, 1855; Valentine Winstertein, October 23, 1872; John Robbins, Jr., November 23, 1876; Oliver Getty, May 31, 1877; Milton W. Bolsford, February 17, 1879; Charles F. Seely, May 21, 1884; Thomas R. Everett, October 22, 1885; Charles F. Seely, March 23, 1889, present incumbent.

Unityville Lodge, No. 830, I. O. O. F., and Unityville Encampment, No. 284, I. O. O. F., were recently instituted.

Schools. - There are six school houses in Jordan township, and their local names are Salem, Derrick, Richie, Biggert's, Lore, and Prairie. The report of the county superintendent for 1891 shows an average of six months taught.

Churches. - Jordan township has three churches, viz: Evangelical, (Albright Methodist,) Union, (Baptist and Lutheran,) and the Gordner church, which is Lutheran. There are three cemeteries - Evangelical, Gordner, and Ritchard. The first two are attached to the churches of the same name.

Next Chapter

Lycoming County, PA Genealogy home page
© 2001 Lycoming County Genealogy Project

Please note this book was written more than 110 years ago and was reproduced exectly as published.