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Locust Township

Locust Township municipal offices are located at 1223A Numidia Drive, Catawissa PA 17820; phone: 570-799-5710.

Beginnings [1]

Locust Township was formed by an order of the court in 1842 from the southern part of Catawissa Township, and embraced at that time all of what is now Locust, Cleveland and Conyngham Townships. It was at first named Scott, but as one of the townships on the north of the river already bore that name it was in a month changed to Locust Township. The call of the northern boundary of Locust Township at the time of its formation was from a black oak tree in the line of Roaringcreek Township by various courses and distances to the mouth of Musser's run on the line of Northumberland County.

From the territory of Locust Township the township of Cleveland was formed in 1893.

The Purchase Line of 1768 is almost identical with the southern boundaries of these townships, and earliest land warrants were issued in the following year. It was not till 1785, however, that the Quakers came from the settlements of Exeter, Maidencreek and Reading, in Berks County, to this section of Columbia County. The names of many of these first settlers are lost, as they were averse to self-advertising and left little in the way of records. Among those who lived in the townships are the Siddons, Bonsalls, Whiteheads, Hughes, Lees, Williams, Millards and Starrs.

One of the first arrivals in this section was Alexander McAuley, after whom the mountain in Beaver Township is named. He first settled in Beaver Valley in 1771. In 1783 he came through the section now comprising Locust and Cleveland Townships in search of some strayed horses. He was last seen at a house near Roaring Creek. From that date no definite trace of him has been found. In 1808 a number of silver buttons and twenty Spanish silver dollars were found in a deep ravine near Bear Gap, Northumberland County, which are supposed to have been his property, although no bones were discovered at the spot. His daughter, Jeannie McAuley, was the first bride in Locust Township, in 1794, her husband being Alexander Mears, son of Samuel Mears, an old settler of the township.

The first roads of this township were merely bridle paths to Catawissa, the only source of supplies. After the coming of the Quakers a number of Germans came from Berks County by way of a road which they opened from Reading across the mountains. This Reading road was much used after 1812, and in 1817 a sum of money was appropriated by the county to improve it. This occasioned much bitterness between rival innkeepers. Caspar Rhoads induced the viewers to decide on improving the upper road past his hotel, but the stage drivers refused to use it, so the lower road was also improved. This caused Rhoads to open another tavern in 1832 on the lower road, in the house built three years before by Benjamin Williams. Soon a few houses arose around this spot, causing it to acquire the name of Rhoadstown. A post office was located here from 1855 to 1864.

In 1825 a line of stagecoaches appeared on the Reading road, operated by Joseph Weaver. Benjamin Potts started an opposition line in 1839, and for some years both lines changed horses at John Yeager's hotel, at Slabtown. They both ceased operations after the building of the Catawissa railroad.

The first school in Locust Township was that of the Friends, near their meetinghouse between Slabtown and Newlin. William Hughes was one of the first teachers. It was established soon after the coming of the Quakers and in 1796 passed into the care of the Catawissa Monthly Meeting, being continued after that date for twelve years. Other schools were later opened by the German population at Slabtown, Kerntown and Esther Furnace, the teachers of which were James Miller, Samuel Bittler, Joseph Stokes, Alexander Mears, Joseph Hughes, Isaac Maish.

The public school system was adopted in 1839 by a majority of but one vote. During that year the Numidia, Beaver, Miller, Fisher, Wynn, Leiby, Eck, Deily and Furnace schools were established.

The population of Locust Township in 1860 was 1,897; in 1870, 1,550; in 1880, 2,014; in 1890, 1,973; in 1900, 1,200; in 1910, 1,191.

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