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Tuscarora Township, with the single exception
of Howe, was the last division in so far as the townships of Perry County are
concerned. It was at the October term of the courts in 1858 that the
matter of the formation of a new township from parts of Greenwood and Juniata
Townships was presented. The court ordered an election to be held, which
was the only instance in the entire list of townships where such a course was
taken, and it was accordingly held on November 30, 1858.
The result of the election being favorable the court at the session of January
3, 1859, issued the following decree:
"Whereupon, January 3, 1859, the Clerk of the Court of
Quarter Sessions having laid the within return before the court, it is ordered
and decreed that a new township be erected agreeably to the lines marked out by
the commissioners, whose report is filed, and that the said township be named
"Tuscarora," and further, the court do order and decree that the place
of holding the elections shall be at the house of Michael Donnally, at
Donnally's Mills, and do appoint Jacob Yohn, Judge, and James H. Deavor and
David Leonard, Inspectors, to hold the spring elections for the present year,
and also appoint John S. Kerr, constable."
Tuscarora Township is bounded on the north by the Juniata County line, on
the east by the Juniata River, on the south by Oliver and Juniata Townships, and
on the west by Saville Township. Its territory is considerably of wooded
land, being traversed its entire length by four ridges of more or less
importance. At the north is the Tuscarora Mountain, its crest being the
township line as well as the county line. Ore Ridge, comparatively low,
and running parallel, comes next. Then south of the fertile Raccoon Valley
lies Raccoon Ridge, and south of that is Hominy Ridge, which separates it from
Raccoon Valley is drained by Raccoon Creek, which empties into the Juniata River
below Millerstown. The streams from the Tuscarora Mountain all flow into
Raccoon Creek, and the streams from Raccoon Ridge and Hominy Ridge flow into
Sugar Run in Buckwheat Valley. The soil in the latter valley is not so
fertile as that of Raccoon Valley.
Among the early warrants for lands was that of Robert Larimer for 219 acres,
opposite Millerstown and above Raccoon Creek, in 1766. The next property
northward was warranted by Lewis Gronow in 1775, and contained fifty-three
acres, and still further north Thomas Craig warranted 214 acres in 1794.
Up the valley to the north, James Black warranted 251 acres in 1763; John Black,
Jr., 366 acres in 1790; Robert Cochran, 212 acres in 1767 and Samuel Atlee, 200
acres in the same year. The John Black tracts were occupied in recent
generations by Jonathan Black and James G. Kreamer. The tannery built by
John Black and operated by him, and later by his son, Jonathan, was located
The mill property known as Donnally's Mills and still in possession of a member
of that family, L. E. Donnally, who once represented his county in the General
Assembly of Pennsylvania, was warranted by Henry Bull in 1763. He built
the gristmill and sold to Michael Donnally about 1840. The William
Fosselman and B. H. Inhoff farms were warranted to William Bull in 1767.
Other warrants were granted A. Thomas White, Janet Brown in 1763, Robert McCrary
in 1767, and George Robinson in 1763. The Loudons took up almost a
thousand acres, as follows: James Loudon, 266 acres in 1767; Matthew
Loudon, 372 acres in 1768, and Archibald Loudon, 296 acres in 1784.
Another warrant was that of John Murray, for 130 acres in 1766.
In Buckwheat Valley Cornelius Ryan warranted lands in 1792, George Leonard in
1782, and Edward O. Donnally, the ancestor of the Perry County Donnallys, in
1782. John Miller warranted lands in 1794 and Robert Campbell's heirs in
1767. This is, no doubt, the Robert Campbell referred to in one of our
chapters on the Indians, in which a house was attacked while six men were at
dinner, and all of them, including Campbell, were murdered, except one George
Dodds, who escaped. The cabin was burned by the redskins.
A thousand acres of ridge lands were warranted by Peter Jones, Philip Jones and
William White. The John and Matthew Louden lands were later known as the
Devor tract. Colon John McKenzie buit the gristmill there about
1840. In 1845 it passed to Devors. On Sugar Run, William Brown
warranted 416 acres. The Archibald Loudon named here as warranting lands
was doubtless the author of the famous Loudon's Narratives, reference to which
is made a number of times in this book. The William Bull named as
warranting lands, had three sons. One one occasion he and his son William
were in a field planting corn when they were surprised by the Indians and taken
captive, being held for a year. One of William Bull's children, Rebecca,
later became Mrs. William Neilson, who was the grandmother of the late Judge
William Neilson Seibert. Bull's Hill graveyard, which was a burying ground
for a hundred years, was named after this family. This place of burial was
started by the burial of a man who was crossing the old Indian path over the
Tuscarora Mountain and was frozen to death. The graves in the earlier days
were covered with stones to prevent the wolves from digging up the
remains. The oldest stone in this graveyard is dated 1783, the the memory
of James Loudon, who was the father of Archibald Loudon, author of Loudon's
Narratives. Colonel Bull was killed after the surrender of Fort Erie on
July 4, 1814, being ambushed by the Indians. See chapter on the War of
Ward's mill was located in Tuscarora Township, near the mouth of Raccoon Creek,
and not far from the line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, on lands once owned by
Jacob F. Markley, which passed to George Rothrock in 1844, and to others in
1858. In 1868 Fietta Ward, wife of John Ward, became the owner. Just
when it was built cannot be stated but, in the deed of 1868, from Wm. and Jacob
Rothrock and William J. Jones, it is described as having thereon erected "a
frame gristmill an sawmill." About 1886 it was burned down, ownership
at that time resting in the Wards. It was never rebuilt.
The oldest schoolhouse in Tuscarora Township was situated in "the
narrows," along the road from Donally's Mills to Buckwheat Valley. It
was built in 1780. Owing to defective wooden chimneys three houses were
burned on this site. There was an old-time house in Buckwheat Valley and
another known as Bull's, at Donally's Mills, in an old carpenter shop.
Donnally's Mills M. E. Church. The Donnally's Mills M. E. Church
was erected in 1868, under the pastorate of Rev. A. R. Miller. It then
belonged to the Newport Circuit, but in 1904 it was assigned to the Millerstown
Circuit, whose pastors serve it.
The Gingerich Church. This church was formerly an old stone school
building which was remodeled for church purposes about 1861, for the U. B.
denomination. In 1892 it was replaced by a new church while Rev.
Barshinger was pastor. Henry Harman, Samuel Buchanan, Andrew Paden and
Chas. Gutshall were then the officials. The split in the U. B.
denomination caused it to be sold, in 1910, to the Methodists who are served by
the pastor of the Millerstown church.
According to Wright's History, that part of Tuscarora Township known as Raccoon
Valley was settled by the Blacks, the Nobles and the Robinsons, in the order
named from the Juniata River westward. We quote: "In this
selection certain distinctions gave precedence of location. Their pastor,
Re. Wm. B. Linn, having the preference, chose his portion near Robinson's Fort;
the father of the Irvin families in Saville Township, chose their old mansion
property; he was joined by Elliot's on the west, and he in turn by a younger
man, until we reach the Robinson, Noble and Black farms in Raccoon Valley,
extending to the Juniata River. The chain of settlements extended more
than twenty miles, and included some of the best and most highly respected
citizens of the county. It is historic for its arrangement of families in
chronological order, as well as the noble record made during every war in which
its own or he general welfare was endangered."
The business firms, according to the report of the mercantile appraiser, are as
follows, the date being the time of entering the business:
L. E. Donnally, flour and feed; J. Logan Jones, general stor; R. H. Kerr (1913),
groceries, old location of Marsh Run post office; I. B. Secrist (1910), coal,
feed, flour, etc...
There was once a United Brethren Church near Donally's Mills, known as Otterbein
Chapel, which was then a part of Eshcol Circuit, long since out of
existence. The church was sold on April 3, 1900, to Harriet Hogentogler,
Donnally's Mills United Evangelical Church. Services by the members of
this faith were first held in the homes. About 1870 the first church was
built, the building committee being Mr. Inhoff, John Bressler and Joseph Lesh.
It has always been a part of Perry Circuit, whose minister resides at
Elliottsburg. The names of the pastors will be found under the chapter
relating to Spring Township.
The above information was extracted from the
book, History of Perry County Pennsylvania; H. H. Hain; Harrisburg; 1922.
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