This portion of
History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania
by J. H. Battle, 1887
is made possible through the efforts of
TRANSCRIBER: Tina Fiorani
| Previous to 1799, what is now Maine township was included in the ex-
tensive territory of Catawissa; for nearly fifty years after that date the
portion adjoining Mifflin was embraced in that township, the western part of
Maine still forming part of Catawissa. In January, 1844, by authority of the
court, the township of Maine was erected, its boundary on the north being the
Susquehanna, and on the south Catawissa mountain.
It comprises a beautifully diversified area. The distinguishing features in
this respect are the bluffs which overlook the Susquehanna; the Mifflin valley
in their rear, at the base of the Nescopeck mountains; the regular contour of
this range, and its abrupt termination above the Catawissa creek; the valley of
that stream, as it winds around the projecting spurs of the mountain of the
same name, and the mine-gap road, where it ascends Catawissa mountain.
It was while this region was known as Augusta township, and included in
Berks county, that its first permanent settlers appeared upon its soil. In the
year 1709 Samuel John emigrated from Wales to Uwchlan, Chester county.
Samuel John, Jr., removed from his fatherâs farm to Exeter, Berks county, and
from this place in 1772, his son Isaac John, with Margaretta (Broug), his
wife, having purchased three hundred acres of land in the valley of Catawissa
creek, removed, thus becoming the first residents within the limits of the
township of Maine. During the summer of 1778 they were twice compelled
to leave their farm, and, to increase their misfortunes, a loss of one-hundred
pounds was incurred by the depreciation of Continental currency. They oc-
cuppied a log cabin, a story and a half high, the door being in the roof, and
reached by a ladder within and one without. It seems almost incredible, but
it is a well attested fact that a family of ten children was brought up in this
house, one of whom, Abraham, was the grandfather of Wesley John, the pres-
ent owner of the land on which it was situated.
Among those who followed Isaac John and pushed farther up the valley of
the creek were Peter and John Klingaman, both of whom located in the vicin-
ity of Mainville. Jacob Gearhart, from Allamingo, Berks county, made a
clearing on the hill above the town. Jacob Bower, from Lehigh county, set-
tled on a tract nearer the river. These persons were all in the region prior to
1808, and complete the number of early settlers. The route followed by them
from the lower counties was the Reading road; from Catawissa a passage was
opened by themselves into the valley of the creek at the gap between the
Nescopeck and Catawissa mountains. John Hauck in 1815 erected the first
iron furnace in Columbia county.
The advantages of this location were the water power available, an abundant
supply of fuel and the short distance to the Reading road. The ore was brought
in wagons from the bogs of Locust mountain; the most important deposit was sit-
uated near the present site of the town of Centralia. It was hauled through Roar-
ingcreek, and thence by the Mine Gap road to Hauckâs furnace. It is said that
at a spring at the foot of Catawissa mountain the teamsters were accustomed to
pour water over the ore, in order to increase its weight. Such a deception
could not be readily discovered, as the ore was naturally damp and heavy.
293For several years his furnace was the only one in Columbia county. Its
product was sent to Reading to be forged and returned for local consumption.
In 1821 Mr. Hauck built a mill near his furnace, the first in Maine township.
In 1831 Abraham Creesemer became proprietor of both. Harley and Evans in
1826 constructed a forge on the same stream. It was operated until 1883;
but the furnace, abandoned as no longer profitable, had succumbed to decay
some years previous.
The Mainville Mills, grist and saw-mills, J. M. Nuss & Son, proprietors.-
The grist-mill was erected in 1814, and after nearly three-quarters of a century
still remains. The edifice is 45X50 feet, and three stories and a half in
height. The old process was used up to 1885, but in May of that year the
roller process was introduced, and the capacity of the mill is now fifty barrels
per day. The miller is Nathan Houck, who has had an experience of twenty
years in the business. The mill is conducted by John M. Nuss & Son, who
have operated it since 1876. A saw-mill, which is run during the winter and spring, is
also operated by his firm.
The prospect of a successful manufacturing enterprise being established at
Mainville was not always as discouraging as it finally become. From 1832
to 1838 the Catawissa rail-road was graded at various sections of the line in
Maine township. The gap between Nescopeck and Catawissa mountains was
crossed by e network of trestling, constructed at an enormous cost. Then the
work suddenly ceased. In 1853, nearly twenty years later, work was resumed
and the road was completed. In the mean time, however, the bridge timbers
at the Catawwisa crossing had become so rotten as to necessitate the removal of
the entire structure before even a track had been laid over it. A second rail-
road, the Danville, Hazleton and Wilkesbarre line, was built through Main-
ville some years later, and at a still later period the North and West Branch
rail-road was constructed at the extreme northern boundary of the township,
on the southern bank of the Susquehanna. On the Catawissa railroad
stations are located at Mainville and Forensty; on the Sunbury, Hazleton and
Wilkesbarre road (so known since the sale and reorganiztion of the Danville, Hazleton
and Wilkesbarre), at Mainville and Mainville Trestling. Mainville
has in consequence a degree of business activity. The place comprised twenty
dwellings, three stores, a limber yard, school-house and church edifice, in which
a Methodist congregation worships.
Previous to 1880 religious services were held in the school-building. At
the Second Quarterly conference of the Mifflinville circuit, August 7, 1880,
E. W. Low, Lafayette Creasy, J. J. Brown, C. L. Benscoter, J. D. Bodine
and J. W. Shuman were appointed a committee to erect a house of worship at
Mainville. John W. Shuman deeded ground for the location. October 10,
1881, work on the building was begun. It was completed and dedicated the
following year. Reverend C. L. Benscoter, pastor at the time, has been suc-
ceeded by Reverends John W. Hoening and J. K. Dearor.
The oldest religious societies in Maine township are the Lutheran and Re-
formed. In 1813 they erected a rude log structure, the first predecessor of a
commodious church edifice which replaced it in 1877. The corner-stone was
laid July 15th of that year, and the dedication occurred November 11th fol-
lowing. The corner-stone of the second church building was laid Septmeber
23, 1832. This edifice was dedicated January 16, 1833. The burial ground
near the church was deeded by Henry Fisher, Peter Bowman, John Neuss
and John Peiffer. In a cemetery adjoining, many of the first residents of the
township were buried. These churches have generally been connected with
those of the same denomination at Catawissa.
The primitive structure at Fisherâs was used for a school as well as religious