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Jackson Township

Jackson Township municipal offices are located at 862 Waller Divide Road, Benton PA 17814; phone: 570-925-2401.

Beginnings [1]

The first division of Greenwood and Sugarloaf Townships was made in 1838, when Jackson Township was formed from portions of both. In 1840 the section taken from Sugarloaf was returned and the present limits were defined. The whole of the area of this Jackson Township was at first owned by the Asylum Land Company, a syndicate of land speculators whose actions prevented an early settlement of their property. The lack of roads and the hilly nature of the country were also important hindrances to settlement.

Jacob Lunger came from Northampton County to this section in 1800 and settled on Green Creek. About 1805 Abram Whiteman located at the headwaters of Green Creek, four miles from North Mountain. Jonathan Robbins came in 1810 from Sugarloaf, where he had settled in 1795. In 1811 Paul Hess, Levi Priest and George Farver arrived. Others who settled in this section at later dates were the York, Colder, Waldron, Everhart, Campbell and Parker families.

The industries of Jackson Township were few and came into being after the opening of the first good road through the country from Unityville to Benton, in 1828. Most of the first industries were small sawmills, as the chief occupation of the pioneers was lumbering. Judge Iram Derr built a sawmill on Little Fishing Creek in 1841 and soon the settlement that grew up around it was given his name. His son, Andrew J. Derr, ran the mill from 1861 until its abandonment in 1874. He was the first postmaster here in 1879.

The first post office in Jackson Township was that of Polkville, established in 1848 at the home of John P. Hess, near Waller. Mr. Hess was the first official, and the next was Lot Parker, in 1863; in 1866 D.L. Everhart took the office. For a time it was discontinued, and then reestablished at the village, which had changed in name from Polkville to Waller, as it is still known, although the post office is lost to it, being supplanted by rural delivery from Benton. Waller once consisted of a church, used by various denominations, a schoolhouse, a store and a few cottages.

Derrs is slightly smaller, and had a Baptist church and a school. A general store kept by Charles Robbins, and a chop mill operated by Arthur Cole, were just south of the Jackson Township line, in Greenwood Township.

The Baptists were the first to visit Jackson Township, in 1819. Revs. Joel Rodgers, Elias Dodson, Samuel Chapin, Brookins Potter and Merrit Harrison held monthly services on their tours through this wild region in the years afterward until 1845. John Christian was an early promoter of the cause and attempted to have a church built, but died before he could succeed. In 1852 Revs. A. B. Runyon and F. Langdon held revivals here and their efforts resulted in the erection of a church in 1853 at Derrs. In 1859 the Benton Baptist Church was organized with nineteen members. In 1859 it was disbanded, and in 1869 reorganized, with John R. Davis and Theodore Smith as deacons, and John F. Derr, clerk. Pastors of this church have been: Revs. E. M. Alden, J. Shanafelts, Furman, Zeigler, Stevens, Tustin, Benjamin Shearer, and Joseph W. Crawford.

The Christian Church of Jackson Township was organized in 1858 with eleven members, among them being Luther German, Iram Derr, Thomas W. Young, Absalom Henry. Pastors have been: Revs. John Sutton, J. J. Harvey, A. Rutan, Edward E. Orvis, Charles S. Long, C. W. Cooper, and D. M. Kinter. Later, this congregation was included in the circuit that covers Benton, Stillwater, Derrs and Cambra. The church was built in 1879 near Derrs, at a cost of $2,500.

The Evangelical denomination had two congregations in Jackson Township. The oldest was formed at Waller in 1846 by Revs. James Dunlap and Jeremiah Young. The first class had been formed earlier by Rev. James Seybert and consisted of George Hirleman, Henry Wagner, Michael Remley, David Remley and Frederick Wile. The union church at Waller was built in 1854. The class in the southern part was formed in 1876 with nineteen members. Revs. James T. Shultz and C. D. Moore served the small congregation for a time. Later, both of these congregations were under the charge of the pastor at Benton.

The schools of Jackson Township were few at first. John Denmark opened a school in a log dwelling near the union church at Waller in the winter of 1821-22. The next year a building was erected here for school purposes. His successors were John Keeler and William Yocum. The first school in the southern part Jackson Township was built in 1825 at Derrs. The different teachers here were Cornelius McEwen, Helen Calvin, Joseph Orwig and Peter Girton.

The population of Jackson township in 1840 was 265; in 1850, 374; in 1860, 539; in 1870, 565; in 1880, 675; in 1890, 738; in 1900, 700; in 1910, 552.

  1. Historical and Biographical Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties Pennsylvania, Vol. 1, J. H. Beers & Co., 1915.
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