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Madison Township

Madison Township, P.O. Box 620, Millville PA 17846; phone: 570-458-0224.

Beginnings [1]

Madison Township, the most westerly township in Columbia County, is noted as the only one which is partially drained by the headwaters of Chillisquaque Creek. The "Divide," a sharp ridge, separates this stream from the waters of Little Fishing Creek. At the corner in the northwestern end of Madison Township, where Columbia, Lycoming and Montour Counties meet, is the site of an old Indian town, and the trail from the West Branch to Nescopeck crossed the "divide" just above the village of Jerseytown.

In the year 1776 the Whitmoyers, Billhimes and Wellivers came to this section from New Jersey. Michael Billhime located on Muddy run, where he built a cabin and cleared six acres of land. Daniel Welliver selected a place on Whetstone run, an affluent of Little Fishing creek. The Whitmoyers settled a short distance west of Jerseytown. When the Indian outrages induced the settlers to take refuge in the forts, the Whitmoyers remained. In March, 1780, some of the men went to a sugar camp, leaving several of the women and a few men at home. A son returning the following morning for a forgotten utensil found the whole family dead and scalped. Fearing for his life he fled to Fort Augusta. The next day a party of rangers returned to the spot and buried the bodies. The graves are on the road from Jerseytown to Washingtonville.

In the autumn of 1780 the Billhimes and Wellivers returned, accompanied by John, Adam and Christopher Welliver, cousins of Daniel. Christopher bought land south of Jerseytown, John located on the site of the devastated home of the Whitmoyers, and Adam occupied the site of Jerseytown. Michael Billhime found his home in the possession of another, and had to clear a new spot, on Spruce run. About this time Joseph Hodge and Peter Brueler also arrived from New Jersey. In 1785 William Pegg (or Pague) settled on the Chillisquaque, two miles southwest of Jerseytown, and three years later Phineas Barber took up a tract on the opposite side of that stream. The following year Hugh Watson located a mile east of the village site, as also did John Funston, and Evan Thomas settled a little west of town. In 1786 Richard Demott located east of Jerseytown. Lewis Schuyler, a Revolutionary soldier, came in 1794, and George Runyon and Jacob Swisher followed soon after. Swisher was the first justice of the peace in Madison Township, having been appointed by Governor Snyder, and holding the office until it became elective some years later. He also started the first tannery. Other settlers were John Smith, James Laird, Thomas Laird, Henry Kitchen and Hugh McCollum.

After the peculiar methods adopted by the land speculators who first controlled the titles to tracts in this county had been aired by those who had suffered from their dishonesty, the former adopted more reasonable methods of sale, and honest settlers came to this section in increasing numbers. By 1817 the growth of population was such as to warrant a separation from the extensive township of Derry. Accordingly the court at Danville ordered the erection of the township of Madison, naming it from the president, who had just completed his second term. Since that time, the township has been twice reduced in area for the benefit of other townships.

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