HISTORY OF PERRY COUNTY
S. Wright; 1873
CHAPTER II: FORMATION OF PERRY COUNTY
HOME | BACK
Cumberland county was formed out of Lancaster
county in 1750, four years previous to the Albany purchase, by which was added
to the commonwealth all the lands west of the Kittatinny and east of the
The earliest division of the territory now included in Perry county into
townships was into Greenwood, which included the land between the Juniata and
Susquehanna rivers. This township doubtless included at one time a vast
area in Mifflin, Snyder and Union counties, being the mother of Liverpool,
Buffalo, Howe and Watts, as now defined in Perry county.
Rye township extended from the Kittatinny Mountains to the Tuscarora Hills,
including its present territory, Penn, Wheatfield, Miller, Carroll, Center,
Juniata, Oliver and Tuscarora townships. The line dividing Rye and Tyrone
townships extended direct from the Blue Mountains, passing about two miles west
of Bloomfield to the Tuscarora Hills.
Next to Rye, west of the Juniata, was Tyrone, known as "the everlasting
State of Tyrone." It included parts of Carroll and Center, all of
Springs, Tyrone and Saville. Tyrone was separated from Toboyne by a straight lin
from the Blue Mountains through Center, in Madison township, to the
Toboyne township was farthest west in the county, and included within itself
Jackson and Madison townships. This township dates its formation prior to
This was the earliest division of the territory of Perry county into
townships. When it was formed into a new county there were seven
townships. Of the new townships, Juniata included that part of Rye north
and west of the Mahonoy Hills, Saville, that part of Tyrone west of the
Limestone Ridge, and Buffalo, that part of Greenwood south of the Buffalo Hills.
Villages were formed at Duncannon, Landisburg, Millerstown, Liverpool and New
Buffalo, before or about 1800. These were the earliest towns of the
Millerstown was laid out by David Miller as early as 1780, and for a long time
seemed destined to become the largest town in the county. It was writen
for a long time Miller's Town. Fewer unemployed men have lived in
Millerstown, in proportion to the population, than any town in the county.
Millerstown contains seven stores, a foundry, a large tannery, two
churches--Presbyterian and Methodist--and a Normal school. In
healthfulness of location, convenience of access and the natural beauty of
surroundings, it is unsurpassed anywhere along the Juniata.
Liverpool was laid out by John Huggins in 1808, and soon became the most
important trading point in the eastern portion of the county. Liverpool
merchants dealt largely in liquors, grain, plaster, dry goods and
groceries. The society was made up of almost every hue, from the smooth
and cautious to a sprinkling of roughs, who would extort the laugh of
commendation and social entertainment from the most grave and sedate.
Landisburg was originally laid out by John Landis, previous to 1800, who
disposed of some portions of the town by lottery, reserving the annual ground
rent. It is said "the quit-rents of Landisburg have had as many
owners as Joseph's coat had colors."
The courts were held here until the location of the county-seat at Bloomfield
and the completion of the public buildings there in 1827.
The first Court of Common Pleas in Perry county was held in Landisburg on the
4th of December, 1820. Hon John Reed, formerly of Westmoreland county, was
President Judge and William Anderson and Jeremiah Madden, Esqrs., Associate
Judges. Daniel Stambaugh was the High Sheriff.
The following persons were the first grand jurors: William English, Henry
Beslin, William Brown, Jacob Weibley and Joshua Jones, Juniata township; Andrew
Lynn, Peter Moses, Philip Fusselman, Christian Simons, Henry Hipple, Thomas
Kennedy and John Eaton, Tyrone township; Conrad Rice, John Milligan, Thomas
Milligan, Moses Oatley, Jacob Burd and Jacob Kiser, Saville township; William
Albiogost, Greenwood township; William Porter, Buffalo township; Samuel Willis,
Rye township; Nickolas Burd, John Kogan and Daniel Matzer, Toboyne township.
The list of constables, at this time, were George Fetterman, Buffalo township;
John O'Brian, Greenwood; Thomas Martin, Juniata; DAniel McAllister, Rye; Mathias
Moyer, Saville; John Cree, Tyrone; Abraham Kistler, Tyrone; James McKim, Toboyne.
Robert Mitchell, Thomas Adams and Jacob Huggins were the first County
William B. Mitchell was the first Prothonotary.
The old court-house in Landisburg stood until 1841. It was a log building,
erecting for a church, when it was taken and finished for a court-house, and in
it Robert Gibson, Esq., still dispenses justice with more ability than is
usually exhibited in that office.
Landisburg is the starting point of Rice's
stage lines, which carry news to and from Newport from all points on the route.
Duncannon, Petersburg, until 1865, was first settled by a Mr. Miller, who took
up ten acres, in which it was included. His house was situated on the
point between the Susquehanna river and Little Juniata creek.
The oldest store in the town was kept by a Mr. Vanfossen, then there were only
four houses in the place.
The settlers that took up land and came to Petersburg after Mr. Miller were
Myers, Young, Fessler, Baty and the widow Armstrong. Philip Sweishler, a
German, kept the first hotel. At this time the post-office was kept by
Jacob Keiser at Clark's Ferry in the stone store-house.
A Mr. Keaseberry was the first postmaster after the office was moved to
The tories mustered their troops during the Revolutionary War on Young's Hill.
The oldest church in Petersburg was the Methodist church, which was dedicated in
1838. The first preaching in the town by this denomination was in a Mr.
Brook's dwelling houses in 1812.
The Presbyterian congregation of the Juniata church, on the hill west of the
junction, included the members in Petersburg, with many who lived on the
opposite side of the river in Watts township. Rev. Joseph Brady, whose
remains rest in the grave-yard belonging to the church, was the pastor at this
The grave-yard on the property owned by Mr. Charles Godshall is the oldest
Methodist burial ground in the county. The oldest house in the
neighborhood of Duncannon was near the position of Jone's mill. The brick house
there now was built in 1800.
Along Sherman's creek, near the river, are the Duncannon Iron Works, owned by a
company which has been in the business for many years in that place. These
works consist of a rolling mill and nail factory; the latter is capable of
turning out 800 to 1,000 kegs, 100 lbs each, per week. There is an
extensive anthracite furnace in operation closer to the river.
The extensive flour and lumber mills, recently owned by Major Griffith Jones,
have passed into other hands.
A company has purchased an extensive tract of land, and, by means of a building
association, is fast creating a new western addition to the old town.
Duncannon public schools have always been among the best in the county.
Newport was laid out as a village of Juniata township in 1814, by Daniel Reider.
It was called Reidersville until the formation of Perry county in 1820, when
sanguine hopes were entertained that it would be the county seat; hence its name
was changed to New Port, which has since been conveniently modified to Newport.
Its growth was very tardy until the canal was made, since which it steadily
improved, until about six years ago, since which it has made good its claims to
be the largest town in the county.
It has a deposit bank, a printing office, from which issue the weekly editions
of the Newport News, two steam tanneries, one of which is the most
extensive in the county, a steam planing mill, marble-yard, three commission
warehouses, a boat-yard, and an anthracite furnace just ready to be put in
operation. Three churches supply the various congregations. Two of
these are large brick edifices on the modern plan, owned by the Methodist and
Reformed congregations, while the third is a frame building likely soon to be
superseded by several others, since it is used by the Lutherans and
Presbyterians, and others, on the union principle.
A tract of land was purchased and laid out in lots by Mr. J.B. Habecker.
This part of town attracts considerable business now. These lots will
doubtless soon be improved through the efforts of a building association
Newport has tasteful and commodious hotels, kept by gentlemanly and intelligent
proprietors. But it cannot truthfully be avoided that her educational
interest is below par. This is not owing to the want of a large and
commodious school building, for that was erected in 1866, on a plan which
compelled the admiration of all her sisterboroughs, but a lack of fostering
interest by her entire community has caused the failure, in part, of every
educational project which contemplated permanency.
In 1840 Newport was next to Liverpool in the number of its population. It
then had 423, and Liverpool had 454 inhabitants.
New Buffalo was laid out as a village of Buffalo township, Perry county, in
1800, by Jacob Baughman. It is situated on the west bank of the
Susquehanna river, nineteen miles above Harrisburg.
It has been a town of steady growth and contained in 1840, between thirty and
forty dwelling houses and 200 inhabitants. The location is pleasant,
surrounded on either side by charming natural scenery.
The present county seat was fixed upon by the fourth set of "disinterested
persons" provided for in the act of separation and named Bloomfield,
on account of that being the title given to the tract of land in the
patent. The set of commissioners who concluded this important work, were
Messers. Laycock, Sheets, Pearce and Jenks. Bloomfield was auspiciously
appropriate for the new town from the fact that its original plot was marked out
in a clover field when in full bloom in the month of June, 1822. It is
healthfully located in the narrow, fertile and beautiful Mahonoy Valley,
twenty-six miles from Harrisburg, and five from the Central railroad.
Large brick church edifices have been erected by the Reformed, Lutheran,
Methodist and Presbyterian congregations.
A brick school-house, sufficiently large to accommodate all the pupils, has been
erected recently, Bloomfield Academy, more fully noticed under Educational
History, continues its good work at this place. It is now owned by William
The manufactories of the place are a steam tannery and a foundry.
The Perry Forrester, for August 1826, contains the following description
of the place: "New Bloomfield has eighteen buildings besides from
twelve to fifteen shops and stables." The offices and public
documents of the county were removed to Bloomfield on the 12th and 13th of
The Forrester, in 1829 gives the population of Bloomfield at 220, the
number of dwellings, twenty-nine and the shops and offices, twenty-one.
The court-house, erected in 1824-5, was remodeled in 1867-8. It is now
well adapted for the purpose. A large clock has been placed in its cupola
by the citizens of Bloomfield, aided by the county commissioners.
There are four printing offices belonging to as many weekly newspapers.
The President Judge of the Ninth Judicial District resides here.
The people are social and intelligent.
Marysville was laid out by Theophilus Fenn, the proprietor of the land on which
its is built, as a village of Rye township, and up to April 12, 1866, was never
incorporated, when it was incorporated as Haley, which was the name given to the
post-office for a year or more. Since its incorporation, Marysville has
improved so rapidly that it now ranks third in the county in number of
The round-house of the Northern Central railroad is located here, and added to
this there is an extensive "shifting-yard."
Two railroad bridges cross the Susquehanna at the eastern and western termini of
the town. The eastern bridge is on the line of the Pennsylvania Central,
and the western on that of the Northern Central. There are two railroad
stopping-places, one a regular depot, and the other merely a
stopping-place. The depot is called Marysville, and is at the extreme west
of the town, where the railroads cross each other.
A block-house was built at the end of the Central railroad bridge to guard it
from the attacks of rebel invaders during the late war.
Marysville has a fine location, which, added to its proximity to Harrisburg, and
the other probabilities of its rapid improvement, will cause it to be, in the
extent and variety of its business, and the number of its inhabitants, the
largest town in the county, in 1880. Marysville public schools are kept in
operation from six to seven months of the year.
Loysville, formerly called Andersonville, was laid out in 1840, by Michael
Loy. The commodious Academy building, north of the town, which was erected
by Mr. John Tressler, continued to be liberally patronized as a higher
institution of learning, until the 8th of May, 1865, when it was selected for a
Soldier's Orphan School. After it had been in operation four or five years
as an orphan school for the children of deceased soldiers, the Tressler heirs
sold the building to the Lutheran Church, since which it has been continued as
Loysville Orphans Home, receiving as many soldiers' orphans as could be
accommodated without crowding out the church orphans. There were 83 in
this Home on the 31st of May 1871.
Loysville has a large brick church, owned by the Reformed and Lutheran
denominations. About one-half mile south-east of Loysville, is the farm
and houses appropriated for the use of the poor of the county. The old
buildings, two or three in number, have been superseded by the most extensive
edifice in the county, estimated to cost, when entirely finished, upward of
Andersonburg is a post-village of Madison township, and was so named on account
of the land formerly belonging to Judge Anderson.
About three-fourths of a mile to the north-east are the grounds and buildings of
the justly-celebrated Andersonburg Soldier's Orphan School. The extent of
ground was reported on the 31st of May, 1871, to be twenty-four acres and the
number of pupils enrolled, 133.
Hon. Martin Motzer has been the principal since the organization of the school,
and so satisfactory has been the treatment of the wards entrusted to his care,
that complaint against the school has never been heard abroad.
Blain---William Douglass built the mill from which the name of the post-office
(Douglass' Mill) was obtained. He soon after built the stone house
occupied at the present (1872) by Mr. Jeremiah Hench. This stone house and
an old log house which was torn down about six years ago, constituted what was
known as Multicaulisville.
The original part of Blain was laid out on land granted by warrant in 1765 to
James Blain. That part of the village west of Main Street, was laid out on
land originally granted by warrant, in 1762, to Abraham Mitchell, and the north
part was warranted to James Morrison, in 1766.
In the spring of 1846 Francis W. Woods sold three acres of land to Dr. William
Hays, which he divided into twelve lots and sold them out to different
parties. John Seager and William Shively erected the first house in the
fall of 1846.
The first post-office was kept by William Douglass. Capt. David Moreland
and Anthony Black succeeded. In 1840 Anthony Black got the name of the
post-office changed to Multicaulisville, to commemorate his great speculation in
the morus multicaulis or Italian mulberry trees, which he was engaged in
selling at ten cents each.
Soon after Blain was laid out in 1846, James and Francis W. Woods got the name
of the post-office changed from Multicaulisville to Blain and from the
post-office the village was named.
The site of Blain is naturally the prettiest in the county. This fact
seems to be recognized, for we find improvements here not found in any other
town in the county. It is the only town into which and along whose streets
water is conveyed in pipes. The buildings are mostly new, elegantly and
substantially built and neatly painted.
It has a select school in charge of Prof. Gard. C. Palm and one of the finest
churches in the county. This church belongs to the Lutheran and
Presbyterian congregations, and was built to take the place of a venerable old
building erected in 1816. The old folks of these congregations were very
loath to exchange the old church even for such an elegant new one, from the fact
that it seemed to link them to the past. The shingles that covered it were
carried across the Conecocheaque Mountain on the backs of pack-horses. Their
fathers and mothers reared this temple and they did not like to see it
New Germantown, a post-town of Toboyne township, was laid out by Solomon
Sheibley, and named to commemorate Germantown, near Philadelphia. It is
twenty-three and a quarter miles from Bloomfield, and is the western terminus of
Rice's stage route in the county. It contains several stores and churches,
a tannery and a school-house, in which a graded school is kept open during the
free school term.
Ickesburg and Eschol are the post-villages of Saville township. The former
is the older, and is the starting-point of Mr. Samuel Rice's stage, which makes
the round trip on alternate days from Millerstown and Newport carrying the mail
to and from Donnally's, Eschol, Milford and Markelville.
Eschol was formerly known as "Shuman's." It was early settled by
Mr. Andrew Shuman, who gave the land on which St. Andrew's Lutheran Church is
Donnally's mills is a post-village of a half-dozen
houses in Tuscarora township. Geo. W. Lobaugh, Esq., keeps a store and a
post-office at this place, and metes out justice to deserving offenders.
Milford and Markelville are post-villages of Juniata township. Each
contains a store in which the post-office is kept.
The former was called Jonestown after its earliest settler and first postmaster,
Joseph Jones, Esq. Markelville was formerly known as Bosserman's Mills
until Mr. George Markel so changed the place by his enterprise and thrift that
it was named after him.
The following is the essential part of each section of an Act erecting part of
Cumberland county into a separate county to be called Perry:
SECTION 1ST enacted that from and
after the first day of September, 1820, all that part of Cumberland county
lying north of the Blue Mountain, beginning on the summit of the Blue
Mountain, where the Franklin county line crosses the same and running thence
along the summit thereof an eastwardly course to the river Susquehanna, thence
up the west side of the same to the line of Mifflin (now Juniata) county,
thence along the Mifflin county line to the Juniata river, thence along the
summit of the Tuscarora Mountains to the Franklin county line, thence along
the Franklin county line to the place of beginning, be and the same is hereby
declared to be erected into a separate county to be called Perry.
SECTION 2d declared that after September 1st, 1820, the inhabitants of all
that part of Cumberland County thus separated, should have all the rights and
privileges to which the inhabitants of other counties are entitled under the
laws of the Commonwealth.
SECTION 3d enacted that the several courts in and for the said county of
Perry, shall be held at such house in the town of Landisburg, as may be
designated by the commissioners of said county, to be elected at the next
general election, until a court-house shall be erected in and for said county
as is hereinafter directed, and shall then be held at said court-house, at
which place the returns of the general election shall be made.
SECTION 4th transferred all suits pending in the courts of Cumberland county,
on the first day of September, 1820 between residents of Perry county to the
Courts of Common Pleas of Perry county, to be continued in said courts as if
originally begun there, except that the fees on the same due to the officers
of Cumberland county, shall be paid to them when recovered by the sheriff or
prothonotary of Perry county; and the prothonotary of Cumberland county shall
on or before the first day of September next, purchase a docket and copy
therein all the docket entries respecting the said suites to be
transferred as aforesaid, and shall on or before the first day of November
next, have the said docket, together with the records, declarations and other
papers respecting said suits, ready to be delivered to the prothonotary of
Perry county; the expenses of said docket and copying to be paid by the
prothonotary of Perry county, and be reimbursed by the said county of Perry,
on warrants to be drawn by the commissioners of Perry county on the treasurer
thereof. All certioraries to or appeals from justices, where the
parties have resided in Perry, which have been returned to the Court of Common
Pleas of Cumberland county, at any time after the 22d of March, 1820, to be
transferred to Perry.
SECTION 5th provided for the equitable distribution of the taxes collected in
Perry county by the officers of Cumberland county, until the proper officers
were appointed or elected to take charge of the financial affairs of Perry.
SECTION 6th required the sheriff, treasurer, prothonotary and all such
officers, whether appointed or elected, to give such surety for the faithful
performance of their duties, as they are obliged by law to give in Cumberland
SECTION 7th made it the duty of the sheriff, coroner and other officers of the
county of Cumberland, to exercise the duties of their offices within the
county of Perry until similar officers shall be created therein.
SECTION 8th. The inhabitants of the county of Perry shall elect one
representative, and the county of Cumberland two, until otherwise altered and
in conjunction with Cumberland county one senator to serve in the Legislature
of this Commonwealth, in the same mode, under the same requisitions, and make
return thereof in the same manner as is directed by the fifteenth section of
SECTION 9th. That the Governor be and he is hereby authorized and
required, on or before the first day of September next ensuing, to appoint
three discreet and disinterested persons, not residents in the counties of
Cumberland and Perry whose duty it shall be, to fix on a proper and convenient
site for a court-house, prison and county offices within the aforesaid county
of Perry, as near the center thereof as circumstances will admit, having
regard to the convenience of roads, territory, population and the
accommodation of the people of the said county generally; and said persons, or
a majority of them, having viewed the relative advantages of the several
situations contemplated by the people, shall on or before the first day of
September next, by a written report under their hands, or under the hands of a
majority of them, certify, describe and limit the site or lot of land which
they shall have chosen for the purpose aforesaid and shall transmit the said
report to the Governor of this Commonwealth; and the persons appointed as
aforesaid, shall receive three dollars per diem for their services out of hte
moneys to be raised in pursuance of this act: Provided always,
That before the commissioners shall proceed to perform the duties enjoined on
them by this act, they shall take an oath or affirmation before some judge or
justice of the peace, well and truly, and with fidelity to perform said duties
without favor to any person, according to the true intent and meaning of this
act. (The Governor to appoint the commissioners to review the site fixed
by former commissioners.)
SECTION 10th provides for the collection of taxes and the preparation by the
commissioners elect for the erection of the necessary public buildings at the
place designated by the aforesaid commissioners.
SECTION 11th. Perry county with Cumberland, Franklin and Adams to elect
one member of Congress.
SECTION 12th. Perry annexed to the Southern District of the Supreme
SECTION 14th. The County of Perry to be annexed to and form part of the
Ninth Judicial District of this Commonwealth.
SECTIONS 16th, 17th and 18th. Prisoners to be committed to the
Cumberland county jail until a building for the purpose is erected in Perry
county, or for three years.
SECTION 19th. The poor of Perry county to be kept at the place provided
for them in Cumberland county.
The foregoing is an abstract of the Act of
Separation of Perry from Cumberland county, passed March 22d, 1820.
Hon. John T. Reed, a Senator from Westmoreland county at the time of his
appointment, was the first President Judge who held courts in Perry county.
The expenses of Perry county from the 4th day of November 1820, to the 30th day
of January, 1821, both days inclusive, was $4,555.34.
The receipts and expenditures from February 1st, 1821, to February 1st, 1822,
was $10,580.02; from the 8th of January, 1822 to the 7th of January 1823, $12,
056.19; from January, 1824 to January, 1825, $13, 992.62; from January, 1825 to
February, 1826, $13, 644.52; from February, 1826, to January, 1827, $12, 832.51;
from January, 1827, to January, 1828, $12, 555.36; from January, 1828, to
January, 1829, $12059.08; from January, 1829 to January 4th, 1830, $11,200.87;
from January 4th, 1830, to December 31st, 1831, $16,071.28; from January 6th,
1832, to December 31st, 1832, $16,353.71; from January 1st, 1833, to December
31st, 1834, $16, 167.34; from January, 1866 to January, 1867, $23, 131.54; from
January, 1867, to January, 1868, $27,826.57.
HOME | BACK