Nescopeck Township

Stewart Pearce in his Annals, 1866 says:

"Nescopeck township was separated from Newport in 1792. Jacob Smithers, Jacob Shover, Martin Arner and Jacob Seyberling settled in the territory of this township in 1791, on the banks of the Nescopeck creek, near its mouth. In 1796, including Hollenback, Sugarloaf, Butler, Black Creek, and Hazel townships, it contained 31 taxables, 36 homes, 58 head of horned cattle, 3 gristmills, and 3 sawmills. In 1797 Harvey D. Walker built a grist and sawmill about one mile from Nescopeck village. The first church was erected in 1811, on the turnpike, by the Lutherans and German Reformed members, about four miles from the village.

This township contains twenty-eight square miles, a portion of which is mountainous, and the remainder is flat or river-bottom and rolling land. Its timber is chiefly oak, chestnut and hemlock, and its soil is adapted to wheat, rye, oats and corn. Its market is Hazleton. It has 3 sawmills, 2 gristmills, 1 carding and fulling mill, 1 forge, 2 stores, 2 churches and 3 taverns.

Nescopeck village is built on the site of an ancient town of the Delaware Indians. It was the rendezvous of the hostile savages during the French and Indian war, upward of 100 years ago. It has about twenty dwellings, one store and a tavern. The southern line of Luzerne county crosses the Susquehanna at this place, cutting the Nescopeck bridge diagonally about midway.

Listof taxables in Nescopeck in 1796:

Walter Kaar, Henry Hepler, William Sims, Jacob Hepler, Abraham Arnold, Henry Mattis, Joseph Bush, Marti Herner, Henry Nulf, Lawrence Kurrens, Cornelius Belias, Jacob Severlin, Michael Horriger, Christian Smeeders, Casper Nulf, John Nulf, Adam Nulf, John Freese, Benjamin Van Horn, George Tilp, Robert Patton, John Kennedy, James McVail, Adam Lurner John Decker, Isaac Taylor, Daniel Lee, Zebulon Lee, John Pattman, William Rittenhouse and Joseph Kaar.

It is believed the first settler in what is now Nescopeck township was George Walker, in 1786, settled near there was the oldtime Benjamin Evans’ gristmill. Walker made improvement and commenced to buld a mill, but the "Pumpkin flood" of that year washed everything away. About the same time a family settled on the Michael Raber farm. The whole family were massacred. George Walker soon after the massacre left the country, and it is supposed went west, where he could have more room.

In 1787 a road was laid out from Nescopeck falls to the Lehigh river, following afterward very nearly all the way by the turnpike that passed through the village of Conyngham, on its way to Hazleton. Evan Owens was the proprietor of Berwick, and to this day you will hear old men speakof the "Owens road."

The first land grant was the Campania tract, lying west of Big Wapwallopen creek, surveyed to Daniel Grant in 1769; patented to George Campbell in 1778. The next grant was to Jacob Bittendorfer in 1808. This was then Evans mill tract.

Settlers along the Nescopeck creek in 1791 were Jacob Smithers, Jacob Shover, Martin Aton and Jacob Seyberling. In 1807 Henry Dewespecht, Michael Harrier, Conrad Bloos, Jacob Bittenbender, Jr.; William Moore, Thomas Cole, Conrad Reiderich, John Henry, Casper Henry, Michael Whitenecht, Michael Nuss, Conrad Bingheimer, Peter Clingeman, Bernard Snyder, John Rooth, George Bittenbender, George Keens, John Buss, ____ Daly, ____ Bassinger, and a surveyor by the name of Chesney had settled in Nescopeck. They were nearly all from Northanpton county. From this time settlers came in rapidly. The Fortners, Sloyers amd Smiths came about 1828, and the families of Evans and Williams soon after. Jonas Buss, who settled here in 1807, is now living at Mifflin, Columbia county, at the age of eighty-nine. He still retains his memory of early events to a remarkable degree, and we are indebted to him for many facts concerning the early history of the township.

William Rittenhouse, who owned large tracts of land in this and adjoining towns, built a log gristmil on Nescopeck creek about 1795, as an inducement for settlers to purchase his lands. He sold to Jacob Rittenhouse in 1808. Nathan Beach, so prominently mentioned in the account of Salem township as a man of great enterprise, built a mill on Wapwallopen creek near a place called "Powder Hole," in 1805. There were three mills on this site--all burned by accident. In 1796 Samuel Mifflin built his sawmill near the mouth of Nescopeck creek. In 1824 Henry Bowman built on this spot, using the old dam, his three-story gristmill; sold to Daniel Evans in 1838, who added a plaster-mill. In 1853 John McMortria built his gristmill above the Evans mill; he sold to J. Johnson in 1860. In 1840 John T. Davis built a fulling mill on a branch of the Nescopeck; sold it to J. Stephenson in 1860, who ran it until it closed down. H. Haschner built a saw mill in 1867 on Nescopeck creek. On the same creek, in 1830, E. and J. Ledy built their forge, three fires and two hammers, making blooms and bar iron of ore obtained from Columbia county. The late Hon. Simon Cameron at one time had an interest in this forge. It passed into the hands of S. F. Headley, who enlarged it and ran it until 1854, when its fires were permanently banked. A tannery on Nescopeck creek was buit in 1858 by Theodore and George Naugle; run until 1870. They built a sawmill in 1856.

Nescopeck Village was started into life in 1786 by the fact that at that time Samuel Mifflin opened his little store on the bank of the river, now in the village site. His agent and manager on the ground was William Baird, residence and storeroom all one. The building was frame and is said to be the first of its kind in the towndhip. The next move toward making the place was the opening of George Rough’s blacksmith shop near by. A ferry was now operated, and a man named Steiner opened his log cabin hotel at the foot of the ferry. In 1807 John Myers built his frame hotel and then the village began to put on airs, as well it might. Another was built by John Rothermel in 1815. His son, the painter of the celebrated picture, "The Battle of Gettysburg," was born here. In 1817 Christian Kunkle built the stone house now owned by the Cooper heirs, in Nescopeck village burning the brick for the chimneys, and for a three-story building in Berwick, on the ground. Michael Raber built the first brick dwelling and burned the brick for all the rest.

A bridge across the Susquehanna was built in 1816. A flood swept the bridge away in 1836, and the following year it was rebuilt. It is 1,250 feet long.

It is now estimated there are 650 residents in the village. The old stone house was once the hotel of the place. in 1827-8 the place was noted for its rapid growth and the business air that prevailed. The drowsy village was wakened into active life and the musical horns of the canal boats roused up the laten fires of the once lucky-go-easy natives. The little boys then, the little remnant now left are very old men, love to tell how they played hookey and would go down and all day watch the great canal boats arrive and depart, and how they longed, and hardly dared hope, the time would come when they could reach the exalted positions of drivers on the canal. About the total business of the people was at one time canaling, and as soon as a boy was fourteen or fifteen his ambition would be gratified--surfeited the first round trip, and then he would commence scheming to run away from his cruel master. The boy had to whip the mules and the boss would whip the boys, or perhaps it would be more descriptive to say he whipped the mules through the boy--a kind of vicarious tickling. The village has an important railroad junction. The main line of the Pennsylvania Central passes through the place, and in 1886 a branch was built from here to Hazleton. No village in the county is improving better than this. Many of the people have their homes here and do business or work in some of the industries across the river in Berwick. Milton Brundage was the original town proprietor. His three sons have sold their interests and reside in Hazleton. G. P. Miller was the first to buy a lot on the north side of the main street, pick off the stones and build his present Central hotel. There are in the place 2 hotels, 1 grist mill (the old Evans mill mentioned above; 3 general stores; railroad round house and machine shops (working about 60 men); 2 drug stores, 1 furniture, 1 grocery, 1 hardware, 1 meat market, some small tradng places, blacksmith’s and carpenter’s shops.

Briggsville is the only other postoffice in the township. There is a store here; was at one time a tavern, but no longer open to the public.

Sugarloaf is a station on the Hazleton branch of railroad, six miles from Nescopeck. A station House. A fertilizing factory is the only business of the place.

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This Town History was donated by Jacqueline M. Wolfe.

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