This portion of
The History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania
by J. H. Battle, 1887
is made possible through the efforts of
TRANSCRIBER: Rosana Whitenight
| The unwieldy proportions of Greenwood interfered with the convenient transaction of township business to such an extent that in April, 1837, a proposition to annex its northern portion to Sugarloaf was laid before the court. It was not favorably considered however. The petitioners met with better success the following year by requesting the formation of the new township of Jackson from the contiguous portions of Greenwood and Sugarloaf. Fishing creek became its boundary on the east, and Little Fishingcreek on the west. This arrangement continued in force until January 31, 1840, when the area formerly included in Sugarloaf was reannexed to it, thus reducing Jackson to its limits as at present defined.
Settlement does not appear to have advanced to this region until other portions of the county were marked by the presence of an aggressive population. To a certain extent this may be attributed to the nature of the tenure by which
the lands were held. The Asylum Land Company, a syndicate of land speculators, secured a large tract embracing the whole of this township and the adjoining portions of Sugarloaf, Greenwood and Pine, and of Lycoming and Sullivan counties. The character and methods of such corporations at this period were not such as to recommend them to prospective settlers. This class of people feared and not without reason, that after paying for lands on the representations of unscrupulous agents, they might find the titles defective, or perhaps fail to find their lands at all. The existence of these circumstance, the utter absence of good roads, and the distance from markets seemed insuperable obstacles in the way of advancing settlement. Not until 1800 did the smoke from a cabin reveal the location of a human habitation. Jacob Lunger removed from Northampton county in that year and settled on Green creek. In the autumn of 1805 Abram Whiteman made an improvement at the head waters of that stream, about four miles from the North mountain and the same distance from the southern boundary of the township. Jonathan Robbins, formerly a resident of Bethlehem township, Huntingdon county, New Jersey, entered this township about 1810, having settled in Sugarloaf, in 1795. In 1811 Paul Hess located north of Waller on a tract of two hundred and forty acres. At this time Levi Priest was living southeast of that village, and George Farver on land bought in 1809 by John Conrad Farver of James Barber. These families comprised the population of the township at this time. Subsequent immigration was drawn principally from Greenwood, although several families removed from New Jersey and the lower counties. The familiar names of Yorks, Golder, Waldron, Everhart, Campbell and Parker my be mentioned among this number.
The introduction of church and school organizations followed in the wake of increasing population. John Denmark was the first teacher, and conducted his vocation in a log dwelling near the location of the Union church building at Waller. This school was opened in the winter of 1821-22. A school-house was built in the vicinity the following year, and here John Keeler and William Yocum continued the work begun by their predecessor. The first house for school purposed in lower Jackson was built in 1825. Cornelius McEwen, Helen Calvin, Joseph Orwig and Peter Girton successively taught at this place. The township maintains four schools for a term of five months. The appearance of the buildings and ground compares favorable with similar school establishments in thickly settled localities.
The different religious denominations represented did not secure houses of worship until a comparatively recent period. As early as 1819 the township was visited by ministers of the Baptist denomination on their missionary tours through this section. Joel Rodgers and Elias Dodson, the former a licentiate the latter an ordained minister, regularly help monthly services, preaching in housed, barns, in the open air, in the woods and in school-houses, when they were erected. Subsequent to this Samuel Chapin, Brookins Potter and Merrit Harrison made excursions from Huntington, Luzerne county, and maintained the appointments in Jackson for several years. They all labored without compensation. They were plain, earnest men, and supported themselves by farming at their homes. Elders William S. Hall and J. Edminster preached occasionally, 1845-49. In 1852 Reverends A. B. Runyon and F. Langdon visited Jackson and held a series of meetings which resulted in a number of conversions. For some years previous to this time efforts had been made to build a house of worship. Upon the death of John Christian in 1849, who was deeply interested in this, the work stopped. Finally, September 11, 1853, the completed structure was dedicated. In the autumn of 1848 Reverend John S. Miller held a protracted meeting, and thirty or forty accessions were made to the church. The necessity of an organization became apparent March 24, 1856, the Benton Baptist church was organized with a membership of nineteen, resident principally in Jackson, although twenty-two persons had been converted at the former place the preceding winter though the efforts of Reverend E. M. Alden. The following summer this church was admitted into the Northumberland Baptist association. Reverend J. Shanafelts succeeded Mr. Alden in 1859. The violent political agitation of the succeeding six years resulted in virtually disbanding this congregation. Reverends Alden, Furman, Zeigler, Stephens and Tustin preached occasionally. May 5, 1866, at the instance of Mr. Furman, a meeting was held at Benton to consider the propriety of attempting a reorganization. It was at once decided to do this. John R. Davis and Theodore W. Smith were elected deacons, and John F. Derr, clerk. March 6, 1869, the name was changed to "Jackson Baptist church," which it still retains. The Sunday-school was organized in 1870. The resignation of Mr. Tustin in 1872 severed his connection with this church. Reverend Benjamin Shearer was pastor from 1873 to 1882. Mr. Tustin again became pastor in 1882, but was succeeded in the winter of 1885-86 by Joseph W. Crawford, a licentiate of the Northumberland Baptist association. Considering the difficulties under which the existence of this church has been maintained, there is much encouragement in its present prosperous condition.
The Church of Christ (Disciples) of lower Jackson was organized in 18__ with eleven members, among whom were Luther German, Iram Derr, Thomas W. Young, and Absalom McHenry, all of whom had formerly been connected with the churches at Benton and Stillwater. The following persons have suc-
cessively been its pastors: John Sutton, J. J. Harvey, A. Reutan, Edward E. Orvis, Charles S. Long, C. W. Cooper and D. M. Kinter. Luther German and Iram Derr have been elders of this church since its organization. The church edifice in which this body worships was built in 1870, and dedicated in November of that year by Reverend C. G. Bartholomew and John Ellis.
The Evangelical Association is represented in this township by two organization. The older, at upper Jackson, was established by Reverends James Dunlap and Jeremiah Young. The former preached at "Hilltown" (Waller) in 1846. The first class was formed by Reverend James Seybert and consisted of George Hirleman, Henry Wagner, Michael Remly, David Remly and Frederick Wile. At this time the congregation was embraced in Columbia circuit, which included the whole of this county. The union church building at Waller was built in 1854. The Evangelical class at lower Jackson was formed in 1876 with nineteen members, and D. B. Stevens class leader. Reverends James T. Shultz and C. D. Moore are at present in charge of Waller circuit. It is to be regretted that church buildings in this section were erected with an undenominational ownership. Though a necessary expedient at the time, this has done much to retard the growth of the different churches.