Smullen's, Greene Pastures site
Juniata Township, as originally formed,
contained all of Tuscarora and Oliver Townships and parts of Miller and Centre.
It was the fifth township to be formed in the territory now comprising Perry
County. It was taken from Rye Township, which then extended clear across
the county from the Cumberland to the Juniata County line.
At the present time its boundaries are as follows: On the north by
Tuscarora, on the east of Oliver, on the south by Centre, and on the west by
Saville. Through it flows Buffalo Creek, and on the south Little Buffalo
Creek divides it from Centre Township, its lands being drained by both
creeks. The most conspicuous physical feature of the township is Middle
Ridge, whose gentle slopes are everywhere under cultivation and dotted with
prosperous farm buildings and homes. Along its very top westward for many
miles runs the Middle Ridge road.
Juniata Township was formed in 1793, or twenty-seven years before the creation
of Perry County. At the January sessions of the Cumberland County courts,
in 1793, two petitions were presented, signed by a large number of citizens of
Rye Township, stating that they "labored under many and great disadvantages
by reason of the great extent of said township, and praying the court that the
said township may be divided by a line along the top of Mahanoy Mountain from
the line of Tyrone Township to the Juniata River." The court granted
the request of the petitioners and name the township Juniata, by reason of its
bordering the Juniata River. Bloomfield Borough was taken from Juniata
before Centre Township was formed.
In the western end of the township, extending into Saville, are lands early
patented by the pioneers, one of 329 acres being granted to John D. Creigh, in
August, 1791, who sold it to Jacob Miller in 1812. In 1788, Job Stretch
owned the land of the Tressler farm; Robert Garrett, the lands on Buffalo Creek
below Milford, later owned by B. F. Miller and George Campbell; James Keenan,
near the old Middle Ridge Presbyterian Church, a farm on which he kept a small
store, and Alexander Stuart, the farm known in the community as the James
The village known as Milford was first known as Jonestown, and was laid out
about 1814-16. It then became Milford, later Juniata, and now Wila, the
post office known as Juniata being discontinued for a very short time and then
reestablished with the name of Wila, as a suburb of Altoona, which had long
wanted to use the name of Juniata, immediately preempted it when it was
discontinued. Many consider the temporary closing of the post office
at this point to have been a ruse to use the name Juniata elsewhere. The
little village is romantically located on the banks of Buffalo Creek, two miles
from Newport, on lands warranted to William Parkinson, in 1755. The tract
comprised 161 acres, on which was located a sawmill and pond. To present
and past generations this site is known as Toomey's mill. Edward Riggins
was the owner of the Toomey gristmill at Milford, in 1841, when Emanuel Toomey
entered it to learn the milling business. In after years he leased the
mill for a three-year period, but never owned it. His son, Jerome Toomey,
one of the best millers in the county in his day, purchased it in 1880 and
operated it until 1896, when his son, Thomas L. Toomey, the present owner,
purchased it. The founder of Milford was Joseph Jones, great-grandfather
of D. Meredith and Alvin Jones, late of Newport; also of John A. Jones, a
cavalryman under Fitzpatrick and a law student at New Bloomfield, who was killed
in action at Solemn Grove, North Carolina. The farm known as the Jacob
Fleisher place was taken up by Job Stretch, who was loyal to the mother country
in the Revolutionary War, and who suddenly left for Canada when things got
Milford was one of the earliest settlements in the county. Prior to 1823
Dr. John Eckert was already practicing medicine there, he having died in that
year. He was a German, said to have been very successful, and was probably
the first physician located there. Then for ten years there is no record
of there being any physicians there. About 1834 Dr. John H. Doling moved
from Newport to Milford, where he practiced until his death in 1857, excepting
for a short period when he got the "gold fever" and went to
California. Of powerful physique he has left a record for wonderful
strength. Prior to 1841 for a few years Dr. Ward practiced there, and then
removed to Carlisle. Before 1847 Dr. Philip Whitesides practiced
there. In that year he removed to Newport, where he practiced until
1856. The Drs. Simonton, who had practiced at Ickesburg, also practiced at
Milford for a time prior to their removal to Illinois. In 1857 Dr. Joseph
Eby settled there, but removed to Newport in 1860. During the early years
of the War between the States Dr. Fetzer was located there. From then on,
excepting for a short period in 1881, when Dr. O. P. Bollinger located there,
Milford had ceased to be the location for a physician.
One of the oldest schoolhouses in this township as now constituted was on a line
running from the upper part of Middle Ridge to Saville Township. Another
was on the Jefferson Super farm, now owned by George H. Super, and was known as
"the Eight-Square schoolhouse," by reason of its being built in
octagon shape. Its location was two miles southeast of Donnally's Mills,
where the road to Newport crosses the road to Markesville. The contract
was let May 12, 1838, to Jacob Swartz, who built it for $140. The
directors were to haul the sand and stone and Mr. Swartz was "to build of
stone in a good and substantial manner of an eight-square figure, ten feet in
the story, and each square to be ten feet in the inside, from corner to corner,
to be eighteen inches in thickness, a twelve-light window in each square, to be
well floored, an well nailed with brads." It was a noted meeting
place, but was torn down almost a half-century ago. Lydia Stewart was the
first teacher in 1839. Dr. Super, one of the two Perry County boys who
became college presidents, first went to school in this building. The farm
on which it stood was warranted by Squire Monroe.
Less than a mile south of Milford, at the tope of Middle Ridge, on the road
leading from Carlisle to Sunbury, was an old tavern known as the "White
Ball Tavern," which was kept by Philip Clouser in 1812. Clouser at
that time owned a large tract of land adjoining. This hostelry was
discontinued about 1840. South of it, on Little Buffalo Creek, John Koch (Kough)
kept the "Blue Ball Tavern," which was a popular resort for
"shooting matches." From the "Blue Ball" tavern a horn
notified the "White Ball" tavern, during the Second War with Great
Britain, that a mounted messenger or dispatch rider from Washington was passing,
so that on his arrival at the top of the ridge a fresh mount was saddled and
waiting. Springing from one horse to the other he proceeded to Reider's
Ferry (now Newport), where a ferry flat awaited his arrival. There being
no telegraph or telephone lines in those days, messages were relayed from the
War Department at the National Capital to the army at Niagara by speedy
horses. The route from what is now New Bloomfield seems an odd one to have
taken, but it most be remembered that Newport and New Bloomfield were
nonexistent and the highway connecting those towns was then not even dreamed
William Fosselman built a tannery near St. Samuel's Church, in 1866.
Robert Stephens, who lived on Hominy Ridge, occupied a stone house and operated
a tannery, but the trend citywards and the modern tanning operations on a huge
scale have left the once busy place deserted and almost a ruin.
Juniata Township was the home of James Stephens, a brother of Andrew, who was
the father of the noted Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the
Confederacy. Their father, Capt. Alexander Stephens, had taken the two
boys, James and Andrew, along to Georgia, when he emigrated there in 1794, but
James returned to Perry County and settled in Juniata Township, where he owned
300 acres of land in 1820, the year of the county's erection. He married
Elizabeth Garrett and was the father nine children, and his brother, Andrew, in
the South, was the father of eight. The sons of James, tall, and erect,
are remembered by many of the present generation. They were full cousins
of the noted Alexander H., but were loyal Northerners. The noted Southern
commoner, when a young man, visited his uncles, James Stephens, in Juniata
Township, an account of which appears in the chapter devoted to Alexander H.
Stephens, elsewhere in this book. Descendants of James Stephens yet reside
in New Bloomfield. From James, who returned North, descended Prof. James
A. Stephens, a noted earlier educator, and his son, Robert Neilson Stephens, the
Markelville. In February, 1763, the lands on which Markelville is located
were warranted to Edward Elliott, and named in the warrant as "Pretty
Meadow." In April, 1769, the adjoining tract was warranted to John
Peden, who came from Lancaster County,and was named "Down
Patrick". The "Pretty Meadow" tract contained 120 acres,and
the "Down Patrick" 142 acres. The "Pretty Meadow"
tract was sold to William Wallace, an innkeeper of Carlisle, in 1782, and he
came into possession of the other tract through the will of his sister, Martha
Peden. In John Peden's will, dated August 1, 1775, is this clause:
"And I allow, in case my child dies, that my wife, Martha, shall have that
plantation lying in Sherman's Valley, known as 'Down Patrick,' she to pay twenty
pounds to the other executor, to be put to use for the support of a minister in
Donegal." By her will, dated a year later, it passed to the
innkeeper. There is no record of any improvements until 1775, when part of
it was under cultivation by some squatters who had been driven off by hostile
Indians. Not until 1776 or 1777 did Elliot and Peden clear and cultivate
land there. Tradition says these lands were settled earlier but there
records do not bear it out.
Wallace transferred the lands to James McNamara in 1793, and he erected the
first house in the place, and later a mill, and it came to be known as
"McNamara's Mill." McNamara sold the tract to Valentine Smith,
from whom his son, John Smith, acquired twenty-two acres, including the grist
and sawmill, and the lands upon which Markelsville is located. From Smith
it passed to John Weary, and from him to William Bosserman, in 1834. It
then came to be known as Bosserman's Mill, and a post office was established
bearing that name. Then the property was sold in two parcels, the lands
principally going to John Leiby, who, in 1853 sold to George Markle, whose
building operations and public spirit gave his name to the town. The mill,
on the other hand, passed to George Leonard, who, in 1868, sold to David Bixler.
The next owners were A. S. Whitekettle, whose title dates to 1886; Henry K.
Frymoyer, 1894; Yearick & Dock, 1898, Mr. Yearick later becoming sole owner;
Gordon Brothers, 1900; J. T. Alter, 1909, selling almost at once to Linn H.
Boyer; Wm. A. Patton, 1911; and Lloyd D. Stambaugh, the present owner, in 1915.
Jonas Lesh kept the first store there. Other early storekeepers were
Thomas Black, Peter Ouran, William Bosserman, George Leiby, George Markel,
Jr., Daniel Sutman, and later A. S. Whitekettle and Miller E. Flickinger.
The present Markelsville includes the site of "Little Vienna", which
was patented by Alexander Myers in 1809, and contained 365 acres. In 1815
he planned and laid out the "future city" on lands just south of the
Lutheran Church. In March of that year he had public auction of lots and
succeeded in selling eighteen, each of which contained thirty-one perches.
But three houses were built upon them, as follows: One by a tailor named
John Smith, another by George Folk, and the third by Isaac Frantz. A
right-of-way was reserved to Buffalo Creek for the residents and a public road
provided, but with the death of Myers also died the dream of the great city to
be located there.
The Markelville Academy was opened in 1855, but its history is more property
part of the chapter on Public Institutions, elsewhere in this book.
Markelsville has been the location of a number of physicians. Among them
were Dr. J. E. VanCamp, 1869-71; Dr. J. D. Shull, 1887-96; Dr. Geo. W. Lupfer,
after 1881, and Dr. Chas J. Manning, after 1889.
According to the report of the mercantile appraiser the following are the
business firms of Juniata Township, the year following names being the date of
M. E. Flickinger (1898), general store and postmaster at Markelville.
Opened by Geo. Markel (1856), whose successor was A. S. Whitekettle.
C. A. Scott and A. F. Walkmeyer, general stores.
L. D. Stambaugh and T. L. Toomey, grain, flour and feed.
Middle Ridge Presbyterian Church: Among the earlier churches located in
Juniata Township, Middle Ridge Church stood first. Many yet living can
remember its individual pews, with gates hung on forged hinges with brass
screws. It stood on the Adam Sheaffer farm (formerly W. E. Raffensberger's),
in the Middle Ridge road, and was used by the Reformed Presbyterians, known as
"the seceders" after it had been abandoned by the Presbyterians.
A full description appears under the chapter, "The Earliest
Sulphur Springs Church. This is now Rodenbaugh's Church, earlier known as
Kough's Church, located near the former Henry Fickes farm, close to Little
Buffalo Creek, opposite Shoaff's mill. It is now known locally as the
Sulphur Springs Church. Its erection must have been prior to 1824, as in
that year New Bloomfield's location is named as "on the road leading from
the Dutch Meeting House in Juniata Township."
Markelville Churches. The residents of this territory practically all
attended the Middle Ridge Presbyterian Church until about 1840, when Marx Bealor
deeded a half-acre of ground to the Lutheran and German Presbyterian
congregations. They erected a union church the same year. German
Lutherans in the community included the Beistleins, Lenigs, Swartz, Smiths,
Crists, Burrells and others. This church was sometimes known as Bealor's
Church. In 1839, Rev. John William Heim began holding services at the hill
schoolhouse, near Bosserman's mill. Simultaneously a Sunday school was
organized. This was the nucleus of this church. Daniel Swartz and
John Bealor were the building committee. It was a log building 30x35 feet
in size, had high galleries on three sides, supported by heavy posts and
crossbeams, a high pulpit and high seats. Of it Rev. D. H. Focht
said: "It seems to have been adapted to make preaching go
hard." The first officers were John Beistlein, elder, and Daniel
Swartz, deacon. It was dedicated in 1841, and was named St. John's
Church. Rev. Heim preached every four weeks in German until his death in
December, 1849. He succeeded by Rev. Jacob Martin, who preached every
third time in English, which enraged the German-speaking members, who even
refused to attend the sacramental service. he resigned in March, 1852, and
was followed by Rev. William Gerhardt, who served until June, 1853. Rev.
A. R. Height followed in March, 1854. He became the first superintendent
of schools of Perry County the same year.
On June 1, 1855, this church became part of the New Bloomfield charge, and on
the same date Rev. D. H. Focht became the pastor. The ministers from then
on have been the same. See chapter on New Bloomfield. The new brick
church was built in 1882, It is 40x60 feet in size. The building
committee was composed of Joseph Flickinger, Thomas Lenig, Samuel Carl and A. S.
Whitekettle. The Reformed Church was built about 1888. It is served
by the New Bloomfield pastors.
St. Samuel's Lutheran Church.* The early history of this church seems to
be somewhat obscured. Rev. Focht, in his Churches Between the
tells of the organization of a congregation at Millerstown in March, 1850, by
Rev. William Weaver, with "upwards of forty persons." He also
tells of a Mr. John Kinter donating a plot for the erection of a church
"near Millerstown" and of the laying of the corner stone on September
26, 1861. His book was printed in 1862, and in it he says: "It
is expected the new church will be ready in August of this year." It
appears to have been built upon the lands of William Rice, in Tuscarora
Township, about two miles from Millerstown. Rev. J. J. Kerr was
instrumental in having it torn down and removed from that location to lands of
Andrew T. Brown, in Juniata Township, later owned by Isaiah Mitchell, and now by
Harvey Ulsh. Since it has been located in Juniata Township the Newport
Lutheran pastors have supplied it. See Newport Chapter.
*To Levi Smith, aged 81 in 1920, the author is indebted for facts
in reference to this church.
Walnut Grove Methodist Church. Prior to the building of the
Walnut Grove Methodist Church the meetings or services were held in the school
building, which was later destroyed by fire. Rev. John B. Mann was one of
the first pastors. The church was built in 1880-81, being dedicated in the
spring of 1881. It was remodeled in 1911. Its membership is about
120, with a Sunday school of over 100 members. It is part of the New
Bloomfield charge, where the pastor's names appear.
Milford United Evangelical Church. The Milford United
Evangelical Church is located at Milford (Wila). The first services in
this vicinity were held at the home of Henry Toomey (now Mr. Kinzer's), about
one mile west of Milford, in or near 1840. In 1844 a church was built, of
which George Houtz, Frederic Dum and Daniel Lesh were trustees. While they
were raising the frame a storm blew it down, so the size was made somewhat
smaller (35x40), so that the same lumber could be used. It was at first a
pebble dashed church, but about 1885 was weatherboarded and new windows and
shutters placed thereon. Samuel Tressler, Peter E. Smith and John
Fosselman were then trustees. In 1902 modern pews replaced the old
seats. In 1913 a belfry and bell were added. It has always been a
part of the Perry Circuit, the ministers being the same as those found under the
Elliottsburg church in the chapter relating to Spring Township.
The above information was extracted from the
book, History of Perry County Pennsylvania; H. H. Hain; Harrisburg;
Smullen's, Greene Pastures site