From Franklin Ellis' History of That Part of the Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys
Embraced in the Counties of Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Union and Snyder
. Philadelphia, 1886.


Decatur Township


THE territory was part of Derry township from 1767 to 1812, and in August of the latter year a petition was presented to the Court of Quarters Sessions of Mifflin Co., asking that the township of Derry be divided. In accordance with this petition, commissioners were appointed, who proceeded to business and made their report at the January term of court, 1813, stating that in their opinion a division was necessary, and presenting the following boundaries:

"They therefore submit to the Honorable Court the within Plot or Draft of Derry and the part of Beaver Dam township lately annexed to it, and the division line which they have made and caused to be marked on the ground; the said line Beginning at the North Boundary of Derry township, in Jack's Mountain, and running South 25 degrees east five and a half miles to the South Boundary of the said township in the Shade Mountain, and they further beg leave to represent that by the said line the said township is equally divided, and due consideration has been paid to the local interest of said township in said division,"

The court approved, confirmed and ordered "that the new township laid off be called Decatur township."

It will be noticed that a part of Beaver Dam township (later called Beaver) was annexed to Derry township and became by this action a part of Decatur. In the erection of Union County, later in the same year (1813), the territory became a part of that county, and on the 16th of March, 1819 was reannexed to Mifflin County and Decatur township, the line beginning at the southeast corner of Centre County, on the top of Jack's Mountain, and running southerly to the original division line between Union and Mifflin Counties.

An examination of the early assessment rolls of Derry township will show the names of the early settlers in the township of which this was then a part.

The following is the assessment of Decatur township in 1815, and gives the names of owners of real estate, number of acres and mills in the township at that time:

Jesse Anderson, 418; James Bell, 50; John Bowersock, 200; Frederick Baker, 150; George Baker, 80; James Briston, 160; John P. Bell, 300; William Bell, 200; George Bell, Jr., 200; Arthur Bell, 100; Jacob Bowlet, 100; John Baker, 20; Jacob Briner, 100; sawmill; Jacob Berntheisel, 100; Jacob Kammerley, 200; Silas Crist, 150; James Criswell, 249; Peter Cross, 325; Widow Cunningham, 74; Henry Dill, 30; Henry Decker, 171; John Delp, 112; John Decker, 219; Phillip Everhart, 225; Branyan Everhart, 200; David Everhart, 150; Frederick Everhart, 150; John Everhart, 150; George Everhart, 135 and sawmill; Peter Frees, 70, grist and saw-mill; George T. Frey, 100; William Glass. 30; Frederick Gill, 300; Jacob Gill, 300; Isaac Gill, 110; John Gross, 421; John Guthart, 283; Peter Gauf, 150; James Glasgow, 250; John Gwin, 90; Peter Hoffman, 50; John Harbison, 80; Jacob Hal, 50; Adam Henry, 150; Philip Haouse, 162; Frederick Harbison, 80; George Harbison, 380; Stephen Hinds, 540; Christian Hauer, 150; Henry Williams, 300; George Henry, 225; George Knep, 100; Jacob Koch, 200; George Knep, Sr., 200; Jacob Kern, 175; Henry Krebbs, 100; Michael Kline, 70; Christopher Kline, 150; Daniel Knep, 99; Stephen Kishler, 206; Joseph Keim, 25; John Knep, 100; Thomas Kwin, 180; Jacob Krebbs, 279; Henry Knep,130; Peter Knep, 70; Jacob Leyder, 100; Michael Lipley, 100; Nicholas Lughty, 290; John Lauer, 100; Robert McClelland, 200; Daniel Moren, 200, saw-mill; Michael Moren, Sr., 150; David Moren, 200; Andrew Meeks, 50; Frederick Maier, 180; John McAuley, 100; William Mathews, 170; James McDowell, 370; Charles McClinehan, 210; James McClintic, 209; James McGee, 150; Patrick Meck, 170; James McCanahan, 150; James Nixon, 60; fulling-mill, carding-machines and saw-mill; John Price, 247, saw-mill; Caleb Parshall, 200, grist-mill; Philip Prossler, 125; Henry Pomich, 200; L. Reager, 400; Michael Reagle, 94; Jacob Ritter, 155; John Ritter, 87; Christian Ritter, 180; Jacob Reigle, 130; John Reager, 100; John Rayden, 300; Henry Reitz, 222; Bastian Royer, 300; John Shout, 200; Jacob Smith, 200; Meyer Spegel, 300; George Shilling, 200; George Spide, 200; Philip Stroup, 240; William Stroup, 300; William Stumpf, 400; Peter Stumpf, 100; Adam Stool, 300; John Stumpf, 112; William Stumpf, 435; Jacob Smuck, 27; John Shilling, 150; John Thomas, 112; Elizabeth Treter, 30; Mintum Trister, 74; Jacob Triese, 650, saw-


mill; Andrew Uls, 35; Jacob Waggoner, 117; Jacob Weiam, 100; John Waggoner, 118; John Whils, 80; Elihu Wilson, 180; Andrew Wonder, 87; Adam Waggoner, 30; Daniel Waggoner, 330; John Weeks, 171; Anthony Warner, 150; Godfrey Warner, 200; Henry Warner 100; Henry Waggoner, 70; Jacob Yetter, 440, saw-mill; John Yetter, 160; Ludwig Yetter, 150; Samuel Zigler, 220; Adam Zigler, 130; John Zigler, 220; Henry Zigler, 200; George Zigler, 208; John Zartman, 300.

EARLY LOCATIONS The valley along Jack's creek was not settled as early as the valley of the Kishacoquillas. The dates of warrants of the earliest settlers are here given: The first warrant bears date August 1, 1766, and was taken by Jacob Bach, and contained two hundred and fifty acres. John Gilchrist took out, on an order of survey, January 26, 1763, three hundred acres; George Frey, three hundred acres, February 12, 1767. Of these names, only the name of Frey was in the township in 1815. In 1784, George Ziegler, Sigler, took a warrant for land at the head of Long Meadow Run, a branch of Jack's Creek. He took up lands also in 1786, 1789, 1793 and in the latter year was in possession of four hundred acres. He had been a resident upon these lands many years before his warrants were taken out, as in1775 he was taken prisoner by the Indians and was in captivity one tear, and released the day independence was declared, July 4, 1776. He returned home and lived and died on the homestead. His children were John, George, Henry, Adam, Samuel, Jacob, and daughter, Elizabeth. John took out a warrant for one hundred acres May 16, 1786, and Henry one hundred acres December 11, 1793. Thompson G. Sigler, now living on the homestead, is a grandson of George Sigler. Absalom, also a grandson, lives in the township. Johnson Sigler, of Derry township, is a son of Adam Sigler.

The family of Stroup were early settlers in the territory of Derry township (now Decatur). Philip and William Stroup were warrantees, and their descendants are living in the county.

John Stroup, who died December 11, 1867, aged seventy-four years, was of the family, and was born in November, 1793. After a limited education he began life as a farmer, first working for his father and subsequently renting a farm. He then, having inherited a portion of the homestead in Decatur township, purchased the remainder, where he resided until his death. He was also for many years extensively engaged in the purchase and sale of stock. He was married, in 1817, to Margaret Bair, one of eleven children of Michael Bair and Catherine Bowersox, who was a German descent, and born in York County, Pa. Her death occurred January 21, 1843. Their children are William, born November 9, 1817; Catherine, May 16, 1819; John, November 5, 1821; Elizabeth, October 2, 1823; Margaret, September 17, 1824; Sarah, September 5, 1826; Henrietta, December 30, 1828; Sophia K., November 2, 1830; Mary, November 21,1832; Susan H., December 3, 1834; Martin Luther, March 1, 1837; David A., March 21, 1839; John L., September 25, 1841; Lucinda A., December 18, 1842; of whom nine are still living. Mr. Stroup, as an exemplary and respected citizen, wielded much influence in the community. Apart from various township offices held by him, he manifested no desire for distinctions of political character. He was a member and for many years an elder in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Decatur township.

Sarah, daughter of John Stroup, was born on the homestead and married in Lewistown, Pa., on the 19th of January, 1846, to Joseph Mohler. To them were born eleven children, eight of whom are now living. Mr. and Mrs. Mohler reside upon their farm in Derry township. The latter united with the German Baptist Church in 1848, of which she has since been a regular attendant.

Sophia K. Stroup was born in Decatur township, and on the 19th of May, 1853, was married, at the house of her sister, Mrs. Bridge, of Decatur township, to John G. Yeager. After engaging for five years in the business of hotel-keeping in Centre County they returned to Decatur township and resided for three years upon a farm. They resumed hotel-keeping at Millersburg, Pa., and ultimately removed to the farm now occupied by Mrs. Yeager, in her native township, where Mr. Yeager died on the 13th of August,


1867. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Yeager are Oscar W. and James W., the latter being deceased.

Susan H. Stroup, the tenth child of John and Margaret Stroup, was born in Decatur township, and married, on the 11th of October, 1853, to John M. McAuley. They have six children, three of whom survive. The present home of Mr. and Mrs. McAuley is at Locke's Mills, Mifflin County.

David A. Stroup resided with his father until twenty-four years of age, meanwhile assisting him on the farm. He has more recently been engaged in the wood and lumber business, though much of his life has been spent as a farmer. He married, August 6, 1862, Mary E., daughter of Thomas and Mary Kearns. Of their eleven children, seven are now living.

Martin Luther Stroup was born in Decatur township and received limited educational advantages at the public school. For years he assisted his father on the farm, and, receiving his portion of his father's estate, purchased a farm in the same township. Having sold this property, he purchased again in Derry township, where he now resides. He married, October 5, 1857, Caroline, daughter of Jacob Miller, of Schuylkill County, Pa., their children being John M., Sallie, Katy J., Jacob W., Harry B. and Frank M. Mr. Stroup is a member and served for years as deacon of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Decatur township.


John L. Stroup, also born on the homestead, in Decatur township, was married to Mary Dressher, of Centre County, Pa. They have had seven children, all of whom, with the exception of a son, McClellan, are now living. Mr. Stroup has always been engaged in the employment of a farmer and resides at Paintersville, Mifflin County, Pa. In politics he has been for years a Democrat.

Of other warrantees were John bell, who warranted one hundred acres March 4, 1786. He, with McClenahan and Dorman, came up the


Juniata, and after examining the richer lands near the mouth of Kishacoquillas and Jack's Creek, journeyed up the latter creek and located lands along its banks and vicinity, for the reason that the locality was better hunting-grounds. In 1815 the sons - John P., William, James, George and Arthur Bell - were in possession of eight hundred and fifty acres. James was in the War of 1812-14. William resided where Ross Aurand now lives, and died in 1825. They settled near Belleville, and later drifted to other parts. John H. Bell settled on the township line of Derry and Decatur, where his son, William S. Bell, now lives. He married Mary E., a daughter of George Sigler, and settled on a tract of land given to her by her father. Thompson J. Bell, of Kellyville, is also a son of John H. Bell. In 1793 John Brady warranted three hundred acres July 6th; Jacob Roff four hundred acres January 21st; and Conrad Robb, Jr., the same date four hundred and ninety-six acres; John, Elizabeth and Daniel Gross, over four hundred acres. On the 19th of September, 1794, Robert Duncan warranted four hundred acres.

Of families remaining in the township who were residents in 1812, are the Bells, Bowersoxs, Everharts, Hoffmans, Hardsters, Knepps, Klines, Lepleys, Lauvers, Riggles, Reagers, Siglers, Stumpfs, Spegles, Shillings, Tresters, Wagners and Yeaters. Many of the lands in the township were sold at sheriff's sale years ago, and passed from the original owners. Caleb Parshall was an early settler in the township, and in 1793 owned a grist-mill upon the Long Meadow Run. He continued the mill many years, and died there. He and his wife are buried on the James Glasgow farm, Glasgow being his brother-in-law. His son married a sister of Mrs. William Brown, of Armagh township. The Parshall farm and mill passed to Robert Sample, and later to Dr. Joseph B. Ard. About 1840 Joseph Burkholder bought the property, the old mill having gone to decay. He built a new one about twenty rods down the stream, continuing the old race down to the new mill. The farm and mill are now owned by Mrs. Fear. The Glasgow farm is now owned by Samuel Sterrett.

On the farm of Robert McClelland, in 1815, was a large distillery, which was carried on for many years. The farm is now owned by Mrs. Mary Stewart. The Sigler lands reached from the head of Long Meadow Run down the Run below the old Parshall mill. The property below the mill is now owned by John Steel. The saw-mills on Jack's Creek are many of them on old mill-sites. The one farthest up the stream, on the Snyder and Mifflin County line, is now owned by Edward Lash; in 1812 it was owned by George Everhart. Below is the mill formerly owned by Jacob McAuley, now by George Krich; on a branch of the creek below, John Burkholder is running a saw-mill; below on the creek is an old mill formerly owned by John Sigler, later George Oldts, now Jacob Trouch; still below is a mill built by John Miller, Sr., now owned by F. H. Miller; down the stream is the John Stroup mill, now in possession of Henry Stine; next is a mill of George and John Reagle, and near the Derry township line is a mill formerly owned by Jacob Yeager, now owned by George Frain. A distillery was built by Mitchell Jones and Peter Hauer in 1856, which was continued two or three years and abandoned.

The first road through the territory was an old Indian path from the Susquehanna to the Juniata; later it became the stage-route and a township road through the valley. The Sunbury and Lewistown Railroad follows the valley the entire length of the township, along Jack's Creek and the base of Jack's Mountain.

POST-OFFICES. - The first post-office in the township was at the tavern of Stephen Hinds before 1812. An old letter is found directed to John Miller, Sr., to this place in that year. This office was continued several years and abandoned. In 1853 a post-office was established one mile west of the old office, which is still continued. George Sigler, Esq., was appointed postmaster. He was succeeded by Miss E. Sigler, A. M. Ingram, Esq., and by the present incumbent, Samuel Muthersbough. Upon the opening of the Sunbury and Lewistown Railroad three other offices were opened in the township, - one at Paintersville; the following have served as postmasters: Abram


Kaley, D. B. Weeber, F. M. Fisher and Joseph Sigler, who is the present postmaster. Soradoville, three miles east of Paintersville, with F. H. Miller postmaster. Wagner, two miles farther east; Joseph H. Wagner has filled the position of postmaster from the opening of the office.

LILLEYVILLE. - About 1836, S. P. Lilley, a local preacher of the Methodist Church, bought the Isaiah Mathews farm and built thereon a grist and saw-mill and erected a store; the latter was conducted by his son Walter. The business was conducted by them for many years. The place was of slow growth, and when it arrived to the dignity of a name was called in honor of Mr. Lilley. At present it contains a mill, two stores, a Methodist Church, a schoolhouse and a number of dwellings, and two stores, one kept by Squire William Swartz, the other by J. C. Burkholder. A hotel was erected in1854 by Elias B. Hummel, and kept by him for several years, and at present by John Hummel.

WAGNER. - This town was laid out soon after the railroad was opened, a post-office established and a store was opened which is now owned by William H. Gibboney. The tannery near the town was built, about 1853, by William Mitchell & Son, and is now carried on by George Saylor & Son. A Methodist Church is also at that place.

SORADOVILLE was laid out by F. H. Miller, and contains a post-office and a few dwellings and a railroad station and the Lacleid Hotel.

PAINTER, also a station on the railroad, contains a post-office, a store and a few dwellings.

CHURCHES. - The first church edifice in the limits of Decatur township was begun in 1820 on the lands of John Miller, Sr., on Jack's Creek, near the present town of Soradoville. The members of the Lutheran and German Reformed congregations united in the erection. Before its completion, however, strife occurred between them, and it was abandoned. In the year 1837 another effort was made by the same congregations, and the Stroup Church edifice was built under the care of the Rev. Mr. Smucker. This later passed entirely to the Lutherans, who now have it in charge.

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. - In 1843 the congregation of Little Valley, at Belltown, erected an edifice for their use, the church to which they belonged being seven miles distant, at Kellyville. James Dorman, Sr., George Sigler, Esq., and John McAuley, Sr., were appointed as building committee. The Rev. D. L. Hughes was chosen pastor. He was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph S. Smith, Samuel Cooper, Cooper Wilson, William Prideaux, John Clarke, John McKean and by the present pastor, the Rev. George Chappel. The congregation in later years grew weak in numbers, and it was thought best to sell the church edifice to the Evangelical congregation, which had increased to considerable extent in the locality. The building was conveyed to that society August 13, 1881.

SAMUEL'S CHURCH. - by Rev. J. P. Shindel. In 1848, Samuel Barr donated a lot of land to a board of trustees of the Lutheran and German Reformed congregation. This congregation was a considerable portion of the members of the church at Black Oak Ridge (St. John), living west of that place, some a great distance, who came to the conclusion to put up a church building more convenient for them. The corner-stone was laid November 3, 1849. It was finished and dedicated to the worship of the Triune God on the 16th of June, 1851. It was built for the use of the Evangelical Lutheran and German Reformed denominations. The house is a log frame, and weather-boarded, painted white. The building is two stories high, with galleries on three sides. The seats are so arranged as to accommodate about five hundred individuals. At its dedication it was Samuel's Church, after the owner of the land. The dedicatory ceremonies were performed by Rev. J. P. Shindel in the presence of a very large concourse of people. On the 6th of November the Rev. J. R. Shindel commenced his labors among them as pastor of the Lutherans, and Rev. Hackman became the pastor of the German Reformed congregation. They preached alternately each every four weeks, so that service was held regularly every two weeks.

The first communion was held on the 1st day


of May, 1853, when ninety-six members communed. Rev. Shindel continued to preach for them until November, 1857, when, on account of ill health and physical prostration, he resigned the congregation after having served them five years and seven months. The successors were John Kempfer and J.G. Breininger, who served a short time, followed by Rev. Groenmiller, who was their pastor a very brief period. Rev. Stettler then became their pastor, who served them some years.

BAPTIST PREACHING. - About the year 1840 services were held by the Baptists in the McAuley school-house, the Rev.______ Bunker and the Rev. David Williams making occasional visits to the locality. The families who were connected were the Houghs and Samples. No church was erected, and preaching was abandoned after about five years.

METHODIST CHURCH AT LILLEYVILLE. - In 1852 a church was built upon lands of the Rev. S. P. Lilley, who was a local preacher of the denomination and resided at the place. The congregation is supplied by pastors on the circuit.

METHODIST CHURCH AT WAGNER STATION. - In 1861 a lot was purchased of Edward Krichbaum; a Methodist chapel was erected under the care of the Rev. Samuel C. Smith, who was then preacher in charge of the circuit. It was dedicated as the Kemmerling Chapel, in honor of John Kemmerling, who was largely instrumental in its establishment. The church is supplied by pastors on the circuit.

THE ALBRIGHT METHODIST CHURCH. - This congregation worshipped for many years at the house of Samuel and Jacob Louver, in the winter season, and in the big barn in the summer. The congregation increased, and in 1865 the Louver Church was built on a lot left the society, by will, for their use.


The schools prior to 1836 were pay or subscription-schools, and were taught either in rooms in houses or some abandoned building fitted for that purpose. The directors appointed at the November term court, 1834, under the law of April preceding, were Samuel Bair and John H. Bell, who took charge of the schools of the township and formed them into districts The first school-house was known as Siglers', and stood near the old Parshall mill. Four districts were formed under the law, which were increased as occasion demanded, and at present there are seven districts. In the Bowersox school-house the German language was taught until 1860. The largest house in the township is at Lilleyville, and contains two schools. It was finished September 1, 1885, at a cost of ten hundred and forty-five dollars, Samuel Sterrett being the contractor. The present school directors are F. H. Miller, R. W. Ingram, Emanuel Oldt, Henry Goss, George Benfer and John S. Groff.

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