Roaring Creek Township
Roaring Creek Township municipal offices are located at 336 Independence Street, Catawissa PA 17820; phone: 570-799-5214.
Roaringcreek is the third township formed from Catawissa Township in 1832, and then embraced all of Locust, Cleveland and Conyngham Townships, but at various periods since it has been shorn of territory until it finally reached its present dimensions. Catawissa Mountain on the eastern boundary forms a natural barrier between it and Schuylkill County, while on the south a spur of Little Mountain and several hills break up the landscape into picturesque beauty. Roaringcreek Township is entirely agricultural, but the broken character of the land is such as to interfere greatly with farming operations. The name of Roaringcreek is now hardly applicable, as since the year 1850, when Montour County was formed, most of the territory through which Roaring Creek meanders has been taken from the township. The Indians gave the name of Popemetung to this creek.
Among the first persons who came to this section were Samuel Hunter and Bezaliel Hayhurst. The former secured a patent in 1774 for a tract known as the Trout Springs farm, southeast of Mill Grove. Alexander Hunter succeeded to the farm after his father's death in 1784, and from him it passed into the hands of George Randall, then into the possession of Abram Whitner, his son John, and his descendants. Other later settlers in this township were Samuel and Anthony Morris, Hugh and Michael Hughes, Francis and Barbara Artilla, Henry Hartzel, Andrew Helwig, John Hemminger, John Harmon, George Groh, George Duval, Stephen Peabody, George Dewees.
Adam Zantzinger settled on Mill Creek in 1784, and others who resided in that section were Jonathan Pearson, Bartholomew Wambach, and the Wilsons and Robinsons. The mountain lands above Mill Creek were owned by Christian Immel, Peter Minnich, Frederick Wagoner, William Lamon, Christian Shultz. The best farming land in the township came at first into the hands of Matthew McGlath, Charles Truckenmiller, John McKay, Jacob Shakespeare and Thomas Fisher. Most of these persons were Quakers who later removed to points farther west, being followed by distinctively German settlers, among the latter being the Rarigs, Kunkels, Driesbachs, Houcks, Holstines, Kreishers and Longenbergers.
The road to Reading runs directly through Roaringcreek Township from northwest to southeast, with a branch in the central part towards Hazleton, over which a large traffic was done in the era of settlement and development. This road was used for a time after its improvement in 1812 as a route for stagecoaches, but a few years later the Reading Road through Locust Township drew all of the trade from this section.
The first mill in Roaringcreek Township was erected about the year 1816 by James Hibbs at the site of Mill Grove, which is now just on the border line between Locust and Roaringcreek Townships. Hibbs also bought from John Nixon and Alexander Foster, two merchants of Philadelphia, a tract of land, having as his partner Joseph Hampton. The mill was replaced by the one built by Judah Cherrington in 1856. Peter Swank was the next owner, followed by J. W. Hibbs and David Long. It later was in the possession of the Cherrington family. Another mill was built on Mill Creek, some years after the Hibbs mill, by Abner Hampton. This later came into the possession of William Heupka, who rebuilt it, and then later the operator was John Mourey.
A few houses were built around the Hibbs mill and eventually the village of Mill Grove was established. Judah Cherrington opened the first store there in 1859, and his son, O.W. Cherrington, was the first postmaster, in 1886. A.E. Cherrington is the present successor of the storekeepers and postmasters of the past.
The first school in Roaringcreek Township was opened in 1816 in the home of Mahlon Hibbs, at Mill Grove, and was taught by Joseph Stokes. It was a subscription school, and ran for two sessions. It was reopened in 1821 by Charles Breech, who was followed by David Chase.
The Cherrington family for years was connected closely with the interests of this township, particularly the schools. Samuel Cherrington was a locally famous millwright, having built most of the gristmills in this and neighboring townships, he found his growing family in need of schooling and sent to Berks County for his father, who had taught schools there for thirty-six years. Thomas Cherrington, the father, opened his school in 1817 and taught it for four years, being then succeeded by his son Samuel. Thomas Cherrington was a mathematician of no mean attainments, and his descendants have in their possession a manuscript treatise on mathematics by him that gives evidence of much knowledge of the subject.
The first schoolhouse in Roaringcreek Township was built in 1830 near Mill Grove. For twenty-three years this building was the home of the Methodist denomination.
The population of Roaringcreek Township in 1840 was 1,842; in 1850, after the formation of Montour County and the consequent reduction in territory of this township, it was 519; in 1860, 509; in 1870, 485; in 1880, 533; in 1890, 580; in 1900, 631; in 1910, 569.
The first religious denomination to form a congregation here were the Methodists, who began to meet at the home of John Yocum, north of Mill Grove. Mrs. Yocum had been a MacIntyre previous to her marriage and her father was one of the founders of Methodism in Catawissa Township. After the building of the schoolhouse, meetings were held there regularly until 1853, when the church building a short distance north of Mill Grove was erected. The trustees at that time were William Yocum, David Case, J.J. Thomas, and William Rhoads. The first members were Phoebe Dyer, J.J. Thomas, Joseph Yocum, Jesse Yocum, Ezra Yocum, and Samuel Horn. The pastors who served this congregation in the first years of its existence were Revs. Black, Tague, Mendenhall, Haughawaut, Gearhart, Cleese, Savage, Brown, Guilden.
In 1873 William Yeager offered $100 and an acre of ground to any denomination which would build a church on his land. This offer was accepted two years later by Rev. M.P. Saunders, of the United Brethren Church, who held a meeting here and converted fourteen persons.
The Freewill congregation was organized and the church completed in 1876. The membership was then increased to sixty and continued near that figure. Successive pastors were Revs. S.R. Kramer, H.S. Gable, J.G.M. Herrold, and B.F. Goodman. The church was burned down in the fall of 1914.