Pine Township
This portion of
The History of Columbia and Montour Counties, Pennsylvania
by J. H. Battle, 1887

is made possible through the efforts of





     The extreme northern and western parts of Columbia county comprise an extent of surface drained by Fishing and Green creeks. The chief features of this region are the mountains and foot-hills in which numerous tributary streams find their source. That part of this district adjoining Lycoming county, and bounded on the south and east by Little Fishing Creek, is embraced in the political division the name of which appears at the head of this chapter. Although possessing the general characteristics of the entire sections, Pine township has peculiarities distinctively its own. The Muncy hills and their forests of waving hemlock and pine overshadow apparently insignificant streams and shallow water courses which have, by centuries of constant attrition, deeply seamed their ribs of rock. The picturesque and diversified character of the landscape is presented in a most favorable aspect when the last rays of the setting sun gild the clouds above the horizon and infinite variety of contour, elevation and color - the frame of a picture of wooded hills, verdant slopes and winding brooks scarcely less beautiful.
     Natural beauty of scenery, although desirable, was not an essential feature of a prospective agricultural region. It was its economic resources, a fertile soil and the growth of timber to indicate it, that engrossed the interest of the

268farmer, or attracted his attention. Thus neglected by the class of persons known as permanent settlers, that part of Columbia county to the northwest of the headwaters of Little Fishing creek remained a wilderness long after the adjoining valleys of Jersytown and Greenwood had been marked by the presence of an aggressive and enterprising population.
     During this period, however, it was not unknown nor entirely unoccupied. The deer, panther and bear, here found a secure retreat; and even here they were eventually pursued by hunters of undoubted bravery, prominent among whom appears the name of Peter Brugler. It appears that he removed from New Jersey to Spruce creek for the sole purpose of gratifying a decided predilection for the enjoyment of the chase. He discovered the deer-lick above Sereno which bears his name, and kept the matter secret for some years. Not content with this as his exclusive property, he "salted" the earth at a locality more accessible, and so well imitated the natural deposit as to completely deceive the deer. On one occasion a companion had a narrow escape from death in an encounter with a panther. He had emptied the contents of his gun into the animal's flank, but this only served to make it more furious. The hunter had only time to relaod before the brute sprang toward him and seized the end of the rifle barrel between his teeth. At this instant it was discharged and took effect in his throat. The iron was perceptibly indented by the death grip of his teeth. The reminiscences of a farmer in the vicinity of Millville present some curious incidents of his experience at a later period, when wild animals had been partially exterminated. He rode into the brush one evening in search of his cows, which had failed to return at their usual hour. On a rising ground beside Little Fishing creek he found the herds with erect heads and dilated nostrils, apparently in great fright and about to stampede. At a short distance from the rest stood one of the number with his head firmly planted against a tree, bellowing furiously. It was discovered that in this position he held the body of a wolf in which signs of life were not extinct, but which was speedily dispatched by a blow from a cudgel in the hands of the farmer.
     Beside the patrons of gun and rod the hills of Pine were visited by the shingle makers from Muncy, who built lodges in the forest but made no effort at improvement and cultivation. The first work of this kind was reserved for John Lyon, a native of Sussex county, New Jersey. Emigrating to Greenwood in 1796 he remained there until six years later, when he crossed the Muncy hills to their summit, the region known as the pine "flats." At this place, on the land now owned by Jeremiah Fowler, he made the first improvement in the township. In the course of a few years he was followed from Greenwood by David Hamilton and Daniel Whipple, who settled some distance above Sereno. Hamilton's cabin was on the site of a bark-house at James Ritchie's tannery. The next comers were Joshua and Samuel Davis, with their families, originally from the same region in Jersey as Lyon. They built the first saw-mill in Pine township, on the same site as the present one at Sereno. Subsequently Jno. Thomas built another on Little Fishing creek, and these two mills did all the sawing that was done in Pine at an early day. Much of the timber was merely cut into logs and rafted down the creeks and the Susquehanna to Harrisburg and Marietta. There are neither adequate shipping facilities nor reliable water-power to justify the establishment of an extensive lumber manufactory, and hence the population of Pine has not been materially benefited by the development of its timber resources. In 1853 Henry Battin built the California mill, and about the same time Zebulon Robbins embarked in a similar enterprise. The latter bought three-hundred


acres of land formerly embraced in a track of several thousand acres owned by Fredrick Veates.
     He was a member of a corporation known as the Asylum Land Company, which owned the larger portion of Pine township. To evade the requirements and restrictions of the land laws, warrants were obtained for the prescribed four-hundred acre tracts, although the real owners were members of this powerful syndicate of speculators. These warrants were issued December 29, 1792; the names that appear most frequently among the list of holders are Montgomery, Cornelison, McHenry, Giffin, Mackey, Sample and Strawbridge. Some of this land has never been patented. However, under the management of the company which first acquired possession, no conflicting titles or boundary disputed involving any great interest have ever resulted in consequence.
     At the time when William Montgomery as deputy surveyor was marking off these tracts, the region was included in Derry township, Northumberland county, from 1817 to 1853, in Madison, in Columbia. By act of assembly approved January 15 of that year, the township of Pine was erected, its boundaries fixed and its organization ordered as one of the provisions of the act providing for a readjustment of the division line between Columbia and Montour counties. The new feature of the political organization of the former was not however, entirely resultant from the division process. The geographical isolation of that part of Madison, thus separated from it, and the numerical minority of its citizens when voting on questions of roads or schools had created a wish for the change some years previous.
     Since this time (1853) the village of Warnersville has not perceptibly increased in size. It practically began in 1837 with the erection of a tannery by Edward Ritchie, which is still in operation. During Buchanan's administration the post-office (named Sereno at the suggestion of John Starr) was removed to Iola; but in 1861 Francis B. Masters, the present postmaster reopened it. The village comprises a store, several dwellings and a school-house. In the predecessor of the later, John Masters, in 1830, opened the first school in Pine. The schools in the township compare favorable with those in more thickly settles localities.
     Iola Lodge, No. 711, Free and Accepted Masons, was organized at Iola July 5, 1870, by C. F. Knapp and others, members of Van Camp Lodge at Bloomsburg. The charter members were Wilson M. Eves, N. G.; John Lore, V. G.; John Leggatt, treasurer; William Burgess, secretary; W. H. Hayman, assistant secretary; Ira C. Pursel, S. W.; Isaac K. Titman, J. W.; William Lowton, O. G.; Benjamin Lore, L. S. S.; Amos Harlan, R. S. S. It was removed to Pine Summit, October 1, 1881, at the dispensation of the Grand Lodge. The present officers are Samuel Williams, William Kingston, J. R. Fowler and J. F. Crist.
     St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran church was organized in 1879 by Reverend N. A. Whitman; May 4, 1880, a house of worship was dedicated by O. D. S. Marcley, his successor. The officers at this time were John Bruner, P. W. Sones, Samuel Eckman and A. E. Girton. Owing to a change of faith among its members the congregation disbanded. At this time, September, 1886, there is no regularly organized religious body in Pine township.

The Pine Township history was transcribed by Terri Cook.
This page is maintained as part of the USGenWeb Project.