SUGARLOAF TOWNSHIP

Is one of the rich agricultural townships of the county and is twenty miles nearly in a square. Its population in detail is given in another chapter. It was carved out of Nescopeck township in 1809 and gets its name from the beautiful Sugarloaf mountain that rises, cone-shaped, 500 feet high, in the valley, like a sentinel's tower, watching over the sweet vale that surrounds its feet and stretches away to the west and east along Nescopeck creek that runs nearly through the center of the township. The large part of the township is the rich valley, which fairly bewilders the eye of the traveler as he descends Buck mountain, in going from Hazleton to Conyngham village. The vision is beautiful in the extreme and the writer halted and lingered long upon the mountain side, enjoying "the dream" spread out beneath him. This rich valley was the "honey plate" that drew here the old-time home-seekers, who had heard from the returning soldier parties about this desirable place to make a home and improve a farm. The world first heard of the valley in the bloody details of the slaughter of Capt. D. Klader and his company by the Indians in 1780, and then by the reports of the party sent up to bury the slain. While there is a full account in another chapter of this bloody day, in the now sweet and peaceful valley, it will not be out of place to here mention the fact that the writer, in company with C. F. Hill, of Hazleton, in a visit to Hon. G. W. Drum, was shown a relic of great interest plowed up in long after years on the slaughter grounds - the lock and rusted barrel of a gun, evidently of English make, that Squire Drum has in his possession. It is nearly proof positive that the English were siding the Indians and supplying them with arms in their raids on the whites in this section at this time.

Another item relating to the massacre may be here mentioned as it relates to the early settlement of the locality. A tradition that found its way into history is that the Osterdock family had settled near where is the old toll house, near where the massacre occurred, and were living there at the time of the occurrence. All the circumstantial evidence in the case challenge this statement; it is doubtless a fiction. Another statement is that the Shaffer family were then settled on their place, further south, along the foot of the mountain. Still another is that there was a Scotch settlement near Nescopeck and they had made clearings in this part of the valley, and when the soldiers reached the open meadows they were rejoiced after their hard long march over the mountains and in the dense forests, and like children just out of the schoolroom, they stacked arms and scattered to enjoy themselves. It is difficult to get authentic facts of what was the real situation here 112 years ago. All this part of the county was then Newport, and of the original townships under Connecticut jurisdiction. The first settler in Newport township was Maj. Prince Alden and he came in 1772 - eight years before the massacre - and he settled up the river not far from Nanticoke and all this part of the county was then an unknown wilderness. In 1799, nineteen years after the massacre, Newport, then including Slocum and Dorrance townships, had but forty-nine taxables.

There were two burial parties sent here after the massacre, and not the slightest mention is made by any one of them of any settlers living in the place. Again when the burial party returned and told John Balliet of the rich and beautiful valley and gave him some idea of how to go there, it is highly probable that they would have directed him to the point where were the two families mentioned. Instead of Balliet proceeding directly there he entered the valley and located further up, in what is now Butler township.

Stewart Pearce, in his Annals, mentions George Easterday as the first settler in what is now Sugarloaf township. He built his log cabin near the Indian path as it came over the mountain, striking the valley not a great distance from the old toll house. Following Easterday came Christian Miller, Anthony Weaver, Jacob Mace, Jacob Rittenhouse, Jacob Drumheller, Sr., Jacob Spade, Christian Weaver - all from Northampton County.

As stated, Sugarloaf was formed in 1809 - then covering what is now Black Creek, Hazle and Butler townships. The oldest document giving us information of who were in the township at that time was shown us by Hon. G. W. Drum, of Conyngham - a list of road work for the year 1810. It seems Michael Bisline was the road supervisor, and kept the record. He was evidently a good old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutchman, and some of his spelling of names makes it difficult to translate into modern English. It is written on an old-fashioned double sheet of course paper, and is headed:

"Work tone on the roth - gretet - Received." Then follows the names and amount of work done by each, as near as we can now read them: Philip Roth, George Drum, Henry Aplinger, Peter Schitey, Jacob Spath, Philip Wattering, Nichols Wottering, John Schavan, Michel Bishline, William Betterly, Joshiph (Joseph) Parke, Retman (Redmon) Conyngham, George Foltz, Jacob Drumheller, Andrew Manners, Roger Parke, George Easterday (spelled with an O), Christian Wenner, Michel Knouse, Michel Mackey, Jacob Cooper, Jacob Rittenhouse, John Gedding, Abraham Schrader, Jacob Loose, Abraham Ballied, John Walk, Nicholas Coner, David Steal, Constans Conyngham, Stephen Ballied (these are of course the Ballietts); on the next page it would seem that Valentine Halshiser was the supervisor, and he spells credit "gretit" and gives the following list:

William Dornbach, Christian Miller, Joseph M. Mottery, Philip Schilhamer, Andrew Wolf, Andrew Weaver. The paper at the foot is marked:

"Aproved by the audetors.

(Signed)George Drum

Philip Wottering."

In 1810 there was sixty-seven taxables in the township; so this road list embraces nearly every one of the able-bodied young men.

In 1812 John Wolf was the supervisor, and a part of his list for the work on the roads that year gives us the following: Jacob Maess, Andrew Wolf (after each names he writes, "workt on the road or bridg"); Sam Dornbach, Peter Oxrider, Joseph Macmurtrie, Fines Smith, George Hoffman, Philip Shellhamer, Bernt Huntsinger, Carls Ruberts, John Laus, John Spate (Spade), Christian Weaver, John Calli, Anthony Weaver.

The next oldest paper giving the names of the township is the following copy of the poll list kept at the general election held in the schoolhouse at Conyngham, October 13, 1818, when the township included Sugarloaf, Black Creek, Butler and Hazle.

Valentine Seiwell, Henry Gidding, John Wolf, John Gidding, Jacob Drumheller, Jr., Conrad Harman, Casper Horn, Henry Winter, Jeremiah Heller, Jacob Keifer, Philip Woodring, James Lormison, Archibald Murray, Jacob Drum, Richard Allen, Andrew Decker, George Drum, Jr., Joseph McMertrie, George Drum, Sr., Abraham Smith, Daniel Shelhamer, Samuel Harman, Phineas Smith, James Smith, Andrew Wolf, John Merrick, Michael Funton, Henry Yost, Micheal Boesline, Jacob Spaid, Henry Boesline, Jacob Boesline, Daniel Maurer, Jr., George Fenig, Sr., Christian Weaver, George Clinger, Anthony Weaver, Andrew Oxrider, Philip Yost, Michael Markley, Peter Stoehr, Michael Frous, Samuel Yost, George Wener, Valentine Line, John Cool, Philip Drum, George Thresher, Michael Shrieder, Archibald Murray, Jacob Foose, Peter Claiss, Jacob Thresher, Conrad Bellasfelt, Abraham Miller, Philip Root, George Hoofman, George D. Strain, Soloman Stroam, Jacob Taffecker, Abraham Steiner, John Adam Winters, David Seickard, Jacob Drumheller, Sr., Christian Wenner and John McMertrie. Total, sixty-six.

In 1835, there were 158 voters in the same territory. The justices of the township, with the years of their election, have been as follows:

Jackson S. Harrison, 1840; Jacob Drumheller, 1840, 1845, 1850; Jesse Hart, 1843; John Andreas, 1851; George H. Gardner, 1855; William Engle, 1855; Robert F. Brown, 1859; Daniel Brown, 1860; George W. Drum, 1860, 1865, 1870, 1875; Oliver P. Kester, 1866, 1871; William S. Miller, 1876; N.D. Smith, 1879; G. W. Drum, present justice.

From the first records of Christ church, jointly built by the Reformed and Lutheran congregations, organized about the year 1800, a deed was given to the church lot by Redmond Conyngham to Peter Stahr, Philip Woodring, Stephen Balliett, Samuel Yost and Valentine Sewell. Their old log church was built in 1826; the elders then were John A. Winter, Jacob Getting. Deacons; Peter Klees, Peter Oxrider, John Seiwell. Building committee: Henry Yost and Jacob Drumheller. The members of the church were: Abraham Minig, Jacob Oxrider, George Koenig, George Drum, Jr., Casper Horn, Charles Keck, John Bergy, Peter Beisel, Abraham Klatz, Peter Stahr, George Hoffman, Conrad Fisher, Henry Oxrider, John Yost, John Smith (2d), Jacob Speth, Michel Cuns, Jr., George Diter, Andrew Maurer, Valentine Seiwell, Samuel Yost, George Stahr, Jacob Bilheimer, Michel Koontz, Sr., Christian Henry, Christian Shadle, John Charles, John Miller, George Shadle, Benjamin King, Jacob Mahs, Jr., John Turnbach, Jacob Kleahs and Abraham Miller, Jr.

In 1822 Joel Rogers and Samuel Yost were county commissioners, and they sent greeting to Richard Allen his commission as tax collector for Sugarloaf township, with a list of the taxpayers from whom he was to collect the amounts set opposite their names, and if one failed to pay them he was to seize and sell his property, and if this failed then he was commanded to arrest the delinquent, send him to "goal" until cost and taxes were paid. The amounts were not large, or would not be so considered now, yet their measures for the enforcement of payments were decidedly heroic. The following is a list: Richard Allen, John Andreas, Peter Andreas, Samuel Balliett, Conrad Bellas, Nicholas Balliett, Nathan Beach, William Bears, Christian Beach, John Bishline, Stephan Balliett, George Biseline, John Barnes, George Bitterly, Jacob Bishline, George Butterbach, Abraham Balliett, John Balliett, Jr., Daniel Balliett, Jacob Balliett, William Bryan, Samuel Bowman, Adam Bowman, Henry Beers, Daniel Bracht, Moses Brundage, Elias Bartlet, Michael Best, Remond Conynham, John Cawley, Eleazer Corps, George Klinger, Peter Close, John Charles, John Cunies, Andrew Decker, John Dornbach, William Dornbach, Samuel Dornbach, Philip Drum, George Drum, Jr., Jacob Drum, George Drum, Jacob Drumheller, Jr., Jacob Drumheller, Abraham Drum, John Engle, Jacob Ero, Jacob Fetter, Amos Foster, Margaret Foltz, George D. Frane, James Gilmore, Jacob Getting, Henry Getting, John Girt, James Getting, George Hoffman, S. and C. Harman, Jeremiah Heller, Jr., Ludwick Keller, Jacob Hoffecker, Casper Horn, Barney Hunsinger, Peter Hunsinger, Paul Hunsinger, Solomon Hunsinger, John Hunsinger, Mordeca Hutton, Jesse Hutton, Christian Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Jackson, Michael Kuntz, M. Kuntz, Jr., Michael Knouse, George Koker, Abraham Klotz, George King, Jr., George King, Jacob Klase, John Klase, Conrad Kester, John Kool, Nicholas Kester, Nicholas Kester, Jr., Jacob Kiper, Jacob Kiper, Jr., John Kiper, Fredrick Krouse, Benjamin King, Valentine Lines, John Lantz, Fred Lavenbergh, James Lomeson, Andrew Miller, Michael Mackley, heirs of Ludwic Mackley, Andrew Mower, Peter Minich, Henry Mower, Andrew Mower, Jr., Archibald Murry, Archibald D. Murry, Abraham Minich, Joseph McMertrie, John McMurtrie, Richard McMurtrie, John Minich, Abraham Miller, A. Miller, Jr., Jacob Mase, Jr., Jacob Mase, John McNeil, John Mayhammer, William Miller, James McCarter, John Mill, Christophel Moore, Fred Nicholey, Charles Nause, Peter Oxrider, Andrew Oxrider, Jacob Oxrider, Mary Osterdock, Henry Oblinger, Redmond Owens, George Obets, George Osterday, Joseph Park, Roger Park, Nicholas Puff, Jacob Philmon, Philip Root, Charles Rupert, George Rupert, David Richards, Martin Rittenhouse, Jacob Rittenhouse, Peter Shida, Peter Shida & Co., Peter Shida, Jr., Sebastian Sybert, Philip Shelhammer, Phineas Smith, David Steele, Daniel Shelhammer, George Shelhammer, John Sewell, John Spayde, Valentine Sewell, Peter Stohr, Isaac Sine, Philip Sine, Jacob Spayd, John Santee, Solomon Strome, Henry Seiwell, Abraham Slichter, Andrew Shiner, James Shiner, John Smith, Samuel Smith, Christian Shadell, John Shover, Charles Scott, Abraham Starner, James Smith, George Shellenberger's heirs, Abraham Sheridan, John Troy, George Thrash, Thomas Troy, Jacob Thresher, John Tharp, John A. Winters, Anthoney Weaver, Christian Weaver, Philip Weaver, Andrew Wolf, Andrew W. Wood, Christian Wenner and Charles Rittenhouse, George and Daniel Wenner, George Wenner, Jr., George Nicholas Wenner, Nicholas Woodring, John Wolf, Jacob Williams, John Winters, Philip Woodring, Samuel Woodring, John Wambold, Jacob C. Wykoff, Daniel Weaver, George Weaver, George Woodring, James Winterstein, Philip Winterstein, William Winterstein, Henry Young, Philip Yost, Henry Yost, Samuel Yost, James Youles.

It should be kept in mind that Sugarloaf was still all of its present territory, and also Black, Butler, Hazle townships. These names were all in the valley, and were the early settlers, therefore, of Butler township as well as this.

The poll list of an election held in Conyngham, March 20, 1835, (still including the three other townships named) is the following list of voters: Jacob Bilhimer, Jacob Lintner, George Sine, Abraham Minich, Jr., Abraham Cole (spelled Coal), Arch D. Murry, John Machiner, Reuben Mill, John Spayd, Jr., Charles Minich, James Gilmore, John Santee, William Beers, George Crecy, Jacob Minich, Philip Wolf, Abraham Drum, Jacob Oxrider, Christian Moss, Christopher Kneely, ThomasM. Dennis, George Eberly, Joseph Miller, Abraham Mowrey, William Bryant, Peter Beisel, Martin Smith, Charles Spade, John Wolf, Joshua Biterby, Joseph Houseknecht, Philiup Winterstein, John Strunk, Henry Benner, Abraham Smith, John Minich, Daniel Spade, Andrew McNeal, William Jovill, Michael Best, James Youles, Henry Seybert, Thomas Krouse, John Andreas, Simon Charles, Jacob Getting, Archibald Murray, Leonard Wenne, John Walk, Daniel Wenne, Solomon Strome, John Geand, John Engle, Abraham Mills, Christian Shadle, Philip Shelhammer, George Clowell, Solomon Hunsinger, Phillip Huffman, John Troy, Andrew Oxrider, George Shelhammer, John Cummins, John Fritzinger, Samuel Woodring, Conrad Kester, Jacob Minich, Samuel Youet (2d), Nicholas Bass, Peter Stahr, Christian Benner, Benjamin Fritz, John Miller, Valentine Lyon, William Davenport, Mordica Hutton, Thomas Gross, George Woodringer, Henry P Youet, Henry Youet, Emanuel Shelhammer, Andrew Wood, John C. Troy, George Hoffman, Philip Woodringer, Usual Bernes, Andrew Wolf, Jacob Bocker, Arkelius Sine, Solomon Youet, Mathias Troy, Philip Sine, Henry Oxrider, Samuel Sevill, Benjamin King, Philip Drum, Roger Park, Jonathan Winters, James Troy, Abraham Klotz, Daniel Roth, George King, Jacob Brisline, Philip Youet, Daniel Santee, Samuel King, Jeremiah Hess, John Stover, Simon Roth, Joseph Keister, Martin Rittinhouse, Daniel Shelhammer, Daniel Hendbach, Thomas Jefferson, William Engle, John Whitney, John Woodringer, Conrad Horn, Amos Rittenhouse, William Woodringer, Philip Cole, John Smith, Mathew Sine, George Stoker, James Winterstern, Jacob Hughs, Thomas Hughes, Andrew Decker, Jacob Hafecher, Andrew Miller, A.G. Broadhead, Joseph W. Greil, George easterday, Michael Brisline, Jr., John Balliett, McVey Troy, Michael Kurtz, Jr., John Kluge, Jacob Dasher, Jacob Benner, William Fowler, David Heller, Abraham Close, James Jonet, Samuel Mosher, M.S. Brundage, Henry B. Youet, John Munsaw, Peter Konick, Joseph McMurtrie, William Drum, Peter Roth, Joseph Engle, Silas Jacobs, Lawrence Smithers and John Spayd.

This is a pretty full directory of all the heads of the families in Sugarloaf township during the first quarter of the century of its existence. The children and grandchildren of the most of these names are to-day in the valley. This is as true of Butler township as of Sugarloaf.

Returning a little in our account we find the roster of the Sugarloaf Rifle company, dated May 6, 1822, and bearing the following names: Captain, Jacob Drumheller; first lieutenant, John Balliet; second lieutenant, George Klinger; privates, George Drum, Jr., George Betterly, Abraham Stanner, Archibald D. Murray, Samuel Balliet, Abram Miller, George Stahr, George Wenner, Jacob Fether, Leonard Wener, John Henry, Marthen Smith, John Dombach, Jacob More, Abraham Balliet, George Earo, John Smith, Jeremiah Heller, Peter Minig, William Heller, Ludwick Heller, Jacob Keifer, Andrew Miller, John Keifer, Charles Rittenhouse, Salmon Staahr, Amos Foster, John Clear, Abraham Maurer, John Wintersteen, George Beesline, Jacob Earo, Jacob Drum, Andrew Maurer, Abraham Drum, William Wintersteen, Ira Heemans, Alexander Klinger, Peter Scheitz, Christian Henry, John Miller, Philip Crum, Daniel Wenner, Jacob Minig, Philip Weaver, Jacob Oxrider, Daniel Weaber, Philip Seine, Henry Maurer, Jacob Geiting, Frederick Neisley, Thomas W. Troy, John Beesleine, James Smith, Jacob Kocher, Benjamin King, John Andreas, James McCarty, Stephen Balliet, John Bright, George Schadle, and Jacob Schaver.

The first road through the township was the old blind way, known to be used as far back as 1800 and called the Owens road, built by Evan Owens in 1786 from Berwick to Mauch Chuck, which passed through William Seiwell's farm. Soon after 1804 a force was at work building the old Lehigh & Susquehanna turnpike that is now the road passing through the village of Conyngham. In its day this was an important internal improvement, and the old four-horse Concord coaches, with the great stage driver, his whip and horn waking the echoes that had so long slept on the surrounding mountain sides, were an era that must have thrilled the very souls of the early settlers. And then along the turnpike farms and taverns "entertainment for man and beast" sprung up at frequent intervals. When lots were sold in Conyngham they were laid out with reference to the turnpike. Richard Allen, the largest taxpayer in the township in 1810, in 1815 built a sawmill on the Nescopeck near Seybertsville.

 

John Cawley erected the first sawmill, an early necessity in helping cut away the dark old forests. It was built in 1810 on Nescopeck creek. The first gristmill was erected in 1820 by George Koenig. Ten years previous to this (1815) they had built a church in the village of Conyngham. Benjamin Koenig built a gristmill at Seybertsville (called Frogtown) in 1815. The first bridge was the one crossing Nescopeck. Jacob Mace was the first blacksmith; he lived and had his shop on the William Seiwell farm. A man named Law soon after had a blacksmith shop on the Black Creek road; George Rupert was the first shoemaker. His place was near the west line of the township. Daniel Brown built the first brick house in the township. Stephen Yost built the first steam mill in 1865. It is now being repaired, rebuilt, and will be a first-class mill, with the patent-roller process. The land in the William Seiwell farm was the first tract deeded by the Penns in the township. The deed called for 311 3/4 acres, and is dated August 3, 1769; grantee, John Foreman. The abstract of title to the tract is a follows: Penns to Foreman; Foreman to John Maxwell Nesbitt, and Nesbitt to Redmond Conyngham, and he to Valentine Seiwell. The latter located on and improved the place in 1811.

George Easterday's land, whose house was near the old toll-gate, was seated by James Jenkins. One of Easterday's great-grandchildren is now living on the old homestead place. There is little doubt but that Easterday's cabin was the first in the township. When this cabin had rotted down another was built by Samuel Winters, who had married an Easterday - a grandchild - and long lived at the old homestead.

Conyngham village was laid out on the Benjamin Rush tract, and was originally called "Venison market." Within what is now the village was first settled by George Drum and then came George Woodring. This George Drum was the grandfather of Hon. G. W. Drum, at present a justice of the peace in the place, and to whom we are indebted for the lists of early settlers given above, found among his father's old documents and papers.

The village was named for Capt. Gustavus Conyngham, who commanded a privateer during the Revolution, who first carried the American flag into the English channel. At present it contains about 400 people, 2 hotels, 2 general stores, 1 grocery and 1 confectionery, 1 furniture and undertaking store, 1 planing mill, and a number of small concerns and millinery stores. Years ago Hess & Robbins' distillery was a flourishing concern. It closed out about 1875. A large tannery was once here. At one time Drumheller's windmill factory was quite an important item. The work was all done by hand, and for nearly forty years it flourished, but finally succumbed to the modern way of making everything by machinery. Billheimers and William Engle had gristmills. The latter was recently purchased by Henry Dryfoos, of Hazleton, who is putting in modern improvements, and will make a first-class modern gristmill of it, and then again the farmers of the valley will have a market for their wheat. This mill is on the big Nescopeck near Seybertsville.

The McMurtrie family are reckoned among the very early settlers here, Joseph McMurtrie a couple of miles from Squire Drum's. William Seibel, son of Valentine, who came in 1810, is living on the old home farm, past eighty years of age.

Nathan Snyder now living in this village, still hale and cheery, came with his parents in 1826, when he was ten years old. His boyhood memory is that Abram Klutch kept the hotel in Conygham when he came; that A. G. Broadhead kept a store in the place; Moses Brundage was running the tannery; he thinks the windmill factory was started about 1838, and that Godfrey carried it on some time; a schoolhouse was where the church now stands, and in it church meetings were held; he remembers Joseph McMurtrie was living where his son now lives; Henry and Philip Yost lived a short distance below him; Jacob Drumheller lived in the village of Conyngham; the Conynghams lived in what is now Butler township, two and one-half mile above the village. Where Peter Stahr lived was a sawmill in 1826. At that time the farms were all situated along the turnpike, and back of this were the great dark forests. In many other efforts at city airs in Conyngham was the one by Broadhead, who once brought here a printing office, and amazed the natives with the proposition to start a great metropolitan newspaper. He got out a few circulars during the campaign and after the election the office was sold and quietly shipped away.

Samuel Benner thinks that Preacher Shaffer was the first settler in the valley. Jacob Drumheller was the first surveyor, and surveyed all this part of the county. He settled on the lot now occupied by Squire Benner. Samuel Harmon was one of the early settlers in the place; he leased the ground and the springs in the village. Samuel Benner is a son of Henry Benner, with whom he came here, and is still actively surveying, and as sprightly as a youth. The family came in 1825. He says Redmond Conyngham left here the next year after he came. His memory is that the old Koenig mill was the first in the valley; that Richard Allen's mill was in the village, or just above Conyngham, and not near Seybertsville, as other historians have put it. John Cawley had several sawmills - one below and one just above Conyngham. He doubts the story of Mace having the fist store here, and thinks probably George Wenner was the first blacksmith. Brown's first brick house in the place is now the property of Charles Kerbaugh. Yost built a steam sawmill. The first postoffice in the village was kept by William Drum in 1826; Charles Kenelly owned the planing-mill. A foundry was built by Mordica Hutton, where is now a greenhouse. Samuel Benner owned the property some time, and sold to Jacob Getting. A great advantage as a market-place for the people of the valley was the opening of the mine and building of a breaker at Black Ridge. It was run successfully a number of years, when the mine inspector notified the company that it was dangerous, and mining was stopped and the building and machinery removed. Conyngham has an excellent system of water works, chartered January 3, 1880, and the village is amply supplied with the best mountain-spring water. The officers are: President, G. W. Drum; secretary and treasurer, Samuel Benner; superintendent, Jacob Getting.

Seybertsville is the other village in Sugarloaf township. It is on the old turnpike, a little over two miles northwest of Conyngham. There is a hotel, store, blacksmith shop, wheelwright and two churches in the place. A tavern was put up in 1825, by Benjamin Koenig; it stood where Henry Dryfoos has a residence. The old tavern was removed and rebuilt in 1835. In 1836 an old-time subscription schoolhouse was built in the place where the present school stands. In 1833 Henry Seybert opened the first store, and the people would "go to Seybert's" to trade, and in this way it was named. He was appointed the first postmaster, and kept it in his store as a convenience to his customers. W. Santee kept store of recent years in the place; Jacob Billheimer built his gristmill in 1861.

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