This portion of
The History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania
by J. H. Battle, 1887
is made possible through the efforts of
TRANSCRIBER: Cal Wright
|GREENWOOD, one of the original subdivisions of the county, and the fourth in order of time erected within its present limits, embraces an area of considerable extent between Little Fishing and Green creeks. In a strictly topographical sense the name is applied to a valley extending east and west between these streams from the hills of Pine and Jackson to the more regular elevations at the south, known as the Mount Pleasant hills. The larger portions of the township of that name, and of Jackson, were embraced in the boundaries of Greenwood as originally defined in 1799; previous to that date, the region was included in Fishingcreek, and still earlier in the extensive township of Wyoming.
It was during this early period of the political organization of Northumberland county that Greenwood valley ceased to be public land, and received its first white inhabitants. Benjamin Chew, a prominent citizen of Philadelphia secured successive warrants at various dates for surveys in the Green creek valley and eventually became owner of a tract the area of which approximated two thousand acres. This tract was the largest in the county held by a single individual. The site of the town of Millville was originally possessed by William and Elizabeth McMean. Their applications for warrants were dated April 3, 1769 and the corresponding surveys were among the first in this region. This part of the township was also the first to receive settlement and cultivation. The title to the McMean tracts and others adjoining passed to Reuben Haines, a Philadelphia brewer, and from him, in 1774, John Eves purchased twelve hundred acres of land for the sum of one-hundred and forty five pounds. There is a difference of opinion as to the time when he became a resident of the valley of Little Fishing creek, but the preponderance of evidence seems to indicate that he settled upon his land before the title was acquired or the purchase concluded.
If this view is correct, his first visit to the region was made in 1769. Leaving his home at Mill Creek Hundred, New Castle county, Deleware, and crossing Lancaster county, he reached the Susquehanna at Harris' ferry. Following the river to Sunbury, he crossed to the east bank of the " West Branch," which he followed to a settlement near the present site of Milton. Here he made diligent inquiry concerning Little Fishing creek, and the location of lands then owned by the McMeans. He was unable to glean any information from the settlers, but two Indians offered to guide him thither; they followed the Indian trail from "ye great isle" to Nescopeck, until they reached the foot of Fairview, an eminence overlooking Millville. When they had ascended to its summit, his guides pointed to the valley below, and Eves knew that he had at last reached the vicinity of his future home. After examining the timber and soil they returned that day to the Susquehanna, whither he continued his journey to Mill Creek Hundred.
The next summer he returned, and with his eldest son, Thomas, built a small log cabin in a ravine to the west of Little Fishing creek. The following
237spring he made his third journey from New Castle county, accompanied this time by his family. They followed the same route as he on his first journey but, from the mouth of the Chillisquaque, were obliged to cut a road through the woods. Shortly after their arrival at the cabin, built the previous summer, an incident occurred which caused some regret concerning the trouble taken in bringing hogs from Delaware. These animals found shelter in a bank of leaves among the branches of a fallen tree. The porcine community was one night invaded by an enemy from the forest, and one of its numbers died a violent death; the next day the drove went into the woods, apparently upon their usual foraging expedition, but failed to return at night. Some months later it was ascertained that they crossed the Susquehanna, and from all appearances were progressing in a bee-line to New Castle county. The first effort to introduce hogs into Greenwood, was thus a failure. The abundance of all kinds of game, however, prevented any serious inconvenience in consequence.
The family at Little Fishing creek were not utterly isolated, although their nearest neigbors were in the valley of the "West Branch." Parties of Indians from Wyoming traversed the trail on visits to their dusky brothers at points farther west, passing and repassing the solitary farm, and bringing its occupants into constant contact with every phase of savage character. The opportunity to receive them with uniform courtesy and kindness was well improved. The presence of the family on an exposed frontier at a time when others found safety only in flight, and the refusal of John Eves, with others of the society of Friends, to take up arms when the war of the revolution began, caused the provincial authorities to suspect him of being a tory. Spies were sent to inquire into the matter, but the charge could not be substantiated. It was not sympathy with the British, but exceptional wisdom and kindness that secured for them an immunity from the ravages of the border warfare.
The day after ther Wyoming massacre, July 4, 1778, a friendly Indian gave timely warning of the approach of danger. By noon of that day the household goods were on the wagon, and by nightfall the party reached Bosley's mills, a stockade on the site of Washingtonville. From this point the journey was pursued to Mill-Creek Hundred.
In 1785 or 1786, the settlement of Greenwood valley was again begun. On their return the Eves found their buildings a mass of charred ruins, and the fields overgrown with bushes. Two houses and a mill were built, the latter being the first in the township. Piles at the side of the old mill race are still in a good state of preservation after the lapse of a hundred years. Others began to enter the township about the same time. Among these families appear the familiar names of Lemon, Lundy, Link, Battin and Oliver. The Lemons located about the center of the township. The Lundy family built a house in which Reuben S. Rich, a descendant, now lives. Jacob Link, in 1797, opened the first tavern in the township. In the same year four brothers Thomas, Samuel, John and William Mather, removed from Buffalo valley to Green creek. Joshua Robbins, Archibald Patterson, George aud William McMichael, native Scotchmen, settled in the same locality.
The first road through this region followed the course of the Indian trail from the " West Branch" to Berwick. Until 1798 the trail itself constituted the only highway to the "North Branch." In that year a road was surveyed from the river across the Mount Pleasant hills. At this early date, and to a greater extent during certain periods since, the Green and Little Fishing creeks have been the channels by which the timber on their banks has found its way to the Susquehanna, and thence to the mills at Harrisburg and Marietta. During autumn and winter, trees were felled, and logs collected where the banks of the
streams were high and deep. They were here built into rafts of such shape that when the streams current had risen to a sufficient height these could be pushed into the seething torrent below. Skillful piloting was required to conduct them safely to the broader channel of the river. Sometimes the fastenings of a raft would burst asunder, and the logs and driftwood form a compact dam, diverting the water of the creeks into the meadows on their banks; or perhaps the jam would break, and the pent-up volume of water rush madly on with overpowering velocity. The sluggish appearance of these streams in the summer months cannot convey an adequate idea of their importance in years past in connection with the lumber industry. As early as 1820 an effort was made to obviate the danger of thus transporting the principal commodity of the region by opening another road to the river. It was not until 1856 that the final success of this project was assured. The legislature in in that year made an appropriation for the construction of a road from Bloomsburg to Laporte, in Sullivan county, though the valley of Little Fishing creek. The extensive travel which has ever since passed over this highway proves its necessity and importance. The year 1856 begins an era of rapid development and improvement in the whole township, but particularly in the struggling village of Millville.
239in places of its size, is the "Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Millville." It was incorporated September 7, 1875, and organized the following month with Joseph W. Eves, president, and Ellis Eves, secretary. They have held their respective offices continuously to this time (September, 1886). For the six years prior to July 31, 1886, there was no assessment whatever, notwithstanding the low rate at which policies were issued. Nothing further need be advanced in proof of the prosperous condition of the company's finances.
Amid all this business activity, the social necessities of the people have not been neglected. The Millville Reading Circle was organized in Winter of 1882-83, and met at the houses of its members. In order to increase and extend its usefulness, it was subsequently merged into the "Good Intent Literary Society.'' A large library has been collected through the co-operation of the citizens and public schools.
Several fraternal and beneficent societies are also represented. Millville Lodge, I. 0. 0. F., No, 809, was organized August 20, 1872 , with twenty-one members. Its first officers were Ellis Eves, William Burgess and John Richart. After an existence of ten years the interest had abated to such an extent that the charter was relinquished. Valley Grange, No, 52, is one of the oldest in the state. It was chartered with twenty members, February 4. 1874, having been organized the previous year. The library organized by the association comprises a number of judiciously selected works. The grange numbers one-hundred members, and exerts an influence in the direction of more general intelligence among the agricultural community.
J. P. Eves Post, No, 536, Grand Army of the Republic, was mustered September 3, 1886, by M. M. Brobst, A. D. C. as P. C., assisted by M. L. Wagenseller, of Post No, 148, Selinsgrove, William Mensch, T. F. Harder and J. M. Seitzenger, of Hoagland Post, No. 170, Catawissa. The following is a list of its members: James W. Eves, Henry J. Robbins, George W. Belig, B. F. Fisher, Isaac M. Lions, John Shaffer, J. C. Eves, W. G. Manning, Emanuel Bogart, Jacob Derr, Henry J. Applegate, John Thomas, D. F. Crawford, Charles M. Dodson, William L. Caslan, W. H. Hayman, Richard Kitchin, George W. Perkins, John Applegate, Harvey Smith, John Krepneck and John M. Mordan. [J. P. Eves, in whose honor the post has been named, was a member of Company I, One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. He was wounded at the battle of Fredericksburg and died in the field hospital. His remains found their last resting place in an unmarked grave on the banks of the Rappahannock.]
Greenwood township comprises, in addition to Millville, three villages of minor importance: Rohrsburg, Iola and Eyer's Grove. Rohrsburg is so named from Frederick Rohr, a Prussian who had fought against Bonaparte, and who secured the site of the town in 1825 from Samuel Sherts. It was included in one of the Chew surveys. In 1826 the wheel-right shop of Robert Campbell comprised all of the village that then existed. In 1828 Peter Venett opened a store in this shop, and, at a later date, Shoemaker and Rees became the second merchants of the place. Rohrsburg Grange, No. 108, was organized February 12, 1874 with 30 members. The report of its secretary for the quarter ending June 30, 1886, showed a membership of eighty-four. A commendable degree of energy is display in testing and discussing various methods of conducting farming operations.
Industries of varied character have been established in the vicinity of Rohrsburg. A flouring-mill below the town on Green creek was built by Joseph Fullmer of Limestoneville, but this original structure has long since disappeared. In 1832 a fulling and carding-mill was operated on the same
stream by Joseph Sands. For many years lumbering was a thriving business. In 1820, four brothers, Joseph, Jonathan, Isaac and William Lemon, started a saw-mill on Green creek below the village. They owned a tract of timber extending three miles in the direction of Millville. In 1847 Kester Parker established a pottery on the Greenwood road. It is still operated with a fair degree of prosperity.
241Mary Robins, Elizabeth Richie, Mary Richie and Jacob Evans, who was appointed leader. For sixteen years they held meetings in William Robbins' barn. A house of worship was built in 1825, and after thirty-five years of use was abandoned as unsafe. In November, 1882, the corner stone of a new building was laid. The site of the first structure was at the forks of the roads from Millville to Rohrsburg. The adjoining burial ground is known as Greenwood cemetery. The second and third Methodist church buildings were erected in 1850 at Rohrsburg and Iola. The pastors at this time were Reverends Joseph S. Lee and George H. Day. Eyer's Grove and Chestnut ridge appointments were formed in 1860 and 1881, respectively.
The Presbyterian church of Rohrsburg has been a regularly organized body since 1843. Previous to that date the Presbyterian element of the population worshiped at Orangeville, and attended occasional services at school-houses in the vicinity Finally application was made to the Presbytery off Northumberland for aid in effecting an organization, and Reverends Williamson, Thom- son and Boyd were appointed to that service. Philip Sipley, Elias Smith, James Wilson and Charles Fortner were among the original members of the congregation thus formal, which for seven years met for service in William Mather's barn. In 1850 the church edifice still occupied was completed. This church forms part of the Orangeville pastorate.
The Christian church at Rohrsburg was the third and last religious body formed at that place. August 4, 1870, Elder J. J. Harvey organized this congreation with a membership of thirty-one. Services were held in Appleman's shop until the following year, when a house of Worship was completed. This society is also represented at Millville. In 1870 and 1871 Elders Harvey and Radenbaugh held occasional services in the school-room of the seminary. February 21, 1880, a number of citizens assembled here to consider the feasibility of erecting a church building for the use of all denominations. S. B. Kisner, R. M. Johnson, and Josiah Heacock were appointed a committee to superintend the financial requirements of the work. In November of the same year the "Free-Church" was dedicated. At this place, in the autumn of 1881. Reverend F. P. Manhart organized the Millville English Lutheran church; a charge was formed embracing St. Paul's in Pine township, and Cady's church, in Lycoming county.
The most recent addition to the number of religious bodies is the Greenwood Evangelical church. April 22, 1880 Reverend W. H. Lilly conducted its first service at the house of Eli Welliver. The following year, through the efforts of David Albertson and Wilson Kramer, a church building was erected. The appointment is embraced in Waller circuit.
The religious and educational institutions of a community are reciprocally related in various ways. With the Quaker settlers of Greenwood, schools and churches received an equal degree of attention. One end of their first meeting house was petitioned from the rest and used exclusively for school purposes. In 1798 Elizabeth Eves instructed the children of the vicinity in this room; Jesse Haines and John Shirely were among her successors. The first school house in the eastern part of the township was situated on the farm of Jacob Gerard. The school was subsequently removed to a building erected for its use where Catharine McCarty now lives.
If the Friends deserve honorable mention in connection with the early schools, much more should their later educational efforts receive favorable comment. In the year 1851 a number of citizens of Millville, influenced by a desire to provide for their children better educational advantages than the public schools could confer, erected a suitable building by their joint efforts
242and planned an institution known as the Millville High-school. In the following year, William Burgess, a man of broad culture and liberal views, was called to the principalship of the school. He opened it in the autumn of 1852 with an enrollment of thirty, and continued at its head for twelve years. During this period, although the school was a complete success, it became involved to an extent that threatened to result in its permanent suspension. To avert this impending danger, the Greenwood Seminary Company was organized March 31, 1861, with a capital stock of five-thousand dollars, It assumed the liabilities of the former management; made extensive improvements and additions to the buildings, and established the school on a firm financial basis.
Professor T. W. Potts, of Chester county, took charge in 1865. July 17, 1866, the property was leased to C. W. Walker. Three years later William Burgess returned and remained until 1872, when he resigned to accept an appointment on an Indian reservation tendered him by President Grant. He was succeeded by R. H. Whitacre. During the winter of 1974-75 Florence Heacock, of Benton, conducted the school. March 6, 1875, the trustees leased the property to the Fishingcreek monthly meeting of Friends. Professor Arthur W. Potter was employed as principal. Two years later the property reverted to the trustees, an R. H. Whitacre was again placed in charge. During the succeeding seven years the seminary was conducted only in the summer. John M. Smith, Harold Whitacre, M. C. Turwell and A.. L. Tustin were the teachers during this period.
At the opening of the present school year (1886) the Fishingcreek monthly meeting of Friends has again become lessee of the property. The buildings and grounds have been improved in appearance, courses of study have been prepared, and every arrangement completed for the accommodation and instruction of a large number of students. The management has not been disappointed August 1, 1886, the school opened with 75 pupils. Anna C. Dorland, of Philadelphia, is principal. Her assistants are Roland Spenser and Frances Foulk. A normal class is under the tuition of Lizzie Hart, of Doylestown, Sidney B. Frost and George L. Mears, of Philadelphia.
Among those who have attended this school may be mentioned B. Frank Hughes, of Philadelphia; Charles B. Brockway and Thomas J. Vanderslice, of Bloomsburg, and J. B. Knittle, of Catawissa, all of whom have at various times been members of the state legislature. It remains to be seen whether the record of the seminary in the future will approach its usefulness in the past.