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Scott Township

Scott Township municipal offices are located at 350 Tenny Street, Bloomsburg PA 17815; phone: 570-784-9114.

Beginnings [1]

Scott Township of Columbia County was formed in 1853 from Bloom Township and named for George Scott, then entering upon his second term as representative in the State Legislature from the district embracing Columbia and Montour Counties.

The early settlers of this section were chiefly of English origin and came from New Jersey. Peter Melick came in 1774 and farmed near Espy. He served in the Continental army and spent the winter of 1776-77 at Valley Forge. He returned home in 1778 to defend his home on the outbreak of the Indians, who burned the house on Sept. 17th of that year. He and his family managed to escape to Fort Wheeler, on Fishing Creek, near the site of the present paper mills, near Light Street.

Henry McHenry, a private soldier who had been stationed at Fort Wheeler, settled at the site of Light Street in 1779. He put in a crop of potatoes, but the yield was poor and the family suffered from hunger during the following winter.

Levi Aikman settled at Briar Creek in 1778. Zebreth Brittain came to this section in 1782, but died before making a settlement; his wife and children remained. John Bright and Alem Marr settled near the Brittains. Others of the earlier families to settle in Scott Township were the Henries, Seidles, Webbs, Crevelings and Boones.

The fertility of the soil of Scott Township may be judged from the fact that every acre not occupied by a home is cultivated and produces abundantly. But the chief wealth in the past has come from the iron ore in Montour Ridge. The first mines were opened on the land of Samuel Melick by Rodman, Morgan & Fisher, the ore being hauled to Espy and forwarded to the furnaces at Bloomsburg by way of the canal. The McDowell and Ent furnaces at Light Street for a time used the ore, but did not prove paying propositions.

Between 1780 and 1850 the fisheries of the Susquehanna River were of great value to the people of Scott Township, the industry bringing many traders to this region. The good points on the river were preempted by different persons and bore their names. From the mouth of Fishing Creek to the rapids at Mifflinville they were known as the Boone, McClure, Kinney, Hendershott, Kuders, Whitner, Creveling, Webb and Miller fisheries. The season began in March and ended in June, a law prohibiting fishing on Thursdays to give the fish a chance to get to headwaters. Two hauls of the seines were made in a day, the nets being about four hundred yards in length and five yards in depth, with meshes two inches square. Seven men handled the seine, four men handled the oars of the flatboats, one man in the stern paid out the seine, while two men on shore held the land end. At the Webb fishery 9,000 fish were caught at one cast in 1830. The price of shad in 1800 was $6 per hundred and in 1830 had risen to double that amount. People came to the river from all points to buy fish, bringing in exchange corn, meat, cider, whiskey, etc., creating a steady and remunerative traffic. But this industry was destroyed by the ruinous methods of the fishermen and became a serious offense to cast a seine into the river, even if there were fish to be caught. During the season in which line and hook fishing was allowed a few fortunate persons landed a trout or a bass and perhaps a few of the other almost extinct fish, but the day of the fisheries has gone.

West of Light Street, on Fishing Creek, near the site of Fort Wheeler, is the plant of the Bloomsburg Paper Company. Here a gristmill, three stories high and operated by an overshot wheel, was built by John Barton many years ago. His successor was a man named Phillips, who for a time manufactured buttons from clam shells, but was not successful, finally selling the property to Thomas Trench in 1830. In 1840 the mill was adapted to the manufacture of paper by Thomas Trench, who some years later took his son, C.C. Trench, in partnership with him. The product was used for wrapping purposes. In 1882 James M. Shew bought the factory and began the manufacture of waterproof cartridge paper for the DuPont Powder Company, of Wilmington, Delaware. He later took his son-in-law, Robert J. Ruhl, into partnership, and at Mr. Shew's death the property came into the hands of Mr. Ruhl, the manager.

The plant has thrice been destroyed by fire, first in 1855, when it was rebuilt by the Trenches, and then in 1903, when it was rebuilt and remodeled by Mr. Shew. The third fire was in 1905, after which the fine outfit of modern paper machines was installed. The power came from turbine water wheels and an auxiliary steam plant. Eleven men were employed the year round. The works comprised four brick buildings on a plat of forty-three acres, and were connected by side tracks with the B. & S. and S. B. & B. railroads, which here have a junction point.

The denominations represented in Scott Township were the Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian and Evangelical. The oldest of these is the Methodist at Light Street. At a camp meeting held at Huntington in the autumn of 1819 a number of residents of that town were converted and on returning home were formed into a class by Rev. John Rhoads, then the pastor at Berwick. For eight years the meetings were held at the home of John Brittain, but in 1827 Gen. Daniel Montgomery, of Danville, donated a plot of ground in Light Street to the Methodists and they built a log chapel upon it. The trustees at that time were Paul Freas, John Brittain, John Millard, Samuel Melick and Peter Melick. In 1851 the church was incorporated and a new deed was executed by the Montgomery heirs. That year the log house was razed and a frame building replaced it. Most of the pastors of the church here had been connected with the Orangeville circuit. The present pastor at Orangeville, Rev. A.R. Turner, holds regular weekly services in Light Street.

The Presbyterian Church had but one congregation in the past at Light Street. The church there was built in 1853, but services were irregular and in the later years, after 1883, it had been used as a dwelling.

Methodist services were first held at Espy in 1828 by Rev. Isaac John. In 1833 the famous evangelist, Lorenzo Dow, visited here and preached to a large congregation in the schoolhouse. The services being frequently interrupted by the barking of dogs in an adjoining lot, he announced that he had come to preach to men, not dogs. When a carriage was offered him as a conveyance to Mainville he refused it in favor of a truck wagon. The first church here was built in 1838 and the present one in 1883. The latter was dedicated by Bishop Bowman. The pastor at that time was Rev. H.C. Cheston. His immediate successors were Revs. R.H. Wharton, James Beyer and Richard Mallalieu, and Rev. Edmund J. Symons, who also preached at Lime Ridge and Almedia.

From 1851 to 1853 Rev. William Weaver, pastor of the Lutheran Church at Bloomsburg, preached occasionally at Espy, and during that period a congregation was formed from those residents of the town who attended the Bloomsburg church. They were: David Whitman, John Shuman, Samuel Kressler, John Kressler, J.D. Werkheiser, Cyrus Barton, Conrad Bittenbender.

In the summer of 1853 a church was erected and dedicated, Rev. E.A. Sharretts becoming the first pastor. His successors were Revs. J.R. Dimm, D.S. Truckenmiller, J.M. Rice, J.M. Reimensnyder, William Kelly, E.A. Sharretts, M.O.T. Sahm, A.R. Glaze, C.W. Sechrist, D.E. Rupley, J.J. Minimier, J.H.C. Mansfield, H.E. Harman, L.W. Kline, H.O. Reynolds, and O.E. Sunday.

In 1895 the old church was replaced by a neat frame building, and in 1905 a parsonage was built. The pastors of this church for some years had officiated at the Hidlay and Fowlersville Churches.

The Evangelical societies at Espy, Almedia and Light Street have always been included in the Bloomsburg mission, but were established while this territory was included in the Columbia circuit. During the winter of 1866-67 revival services held by Rev. A.J. Irvine in the Presbyterian Church at Light Street resulted in many conversions and caused the formation of a congregation there. The church here was built in 1869. Almedia became a preaching point in 1866, services being held in the schoolhouse until a church was built in 1872. It was not until 1875 that preaching became established at Espy, and in the following year the church there was built. These churches were under the charge of Rev. John Shambach, of Espy.

The Lutheran Church at Almedia was built in 1852. It was in regular use until 1912, when it was damaged by lightning.

The first schoolhouse in Scott Township was established at Espy in 1805, the trustees being John Kennedy, John Webb and a Mr. Waters. The building stood at the corner of Market and Main Streets and was 20 by 24 feet in dimensions. It had small-paned glass windows, slab benches, writing tables around three sides of the room, and a wood-burning stove completed the furniture.

The second school at Light Street was built on a lot later owned by J. W. Sankey in the extreme lower end of the town, in 1806. In 1814 a third school was opened in a building on one of B. Ammerman's lots, in the upper end of Light Street. The teachers of these schools were George Vance, Joseph Solomon, William Love and John Kennedy.

The school directors of the township were: T.C. Creveling, A.F. Terwilliger, Austin Ohl, Bruce Sneidman, Joseph Hippensteel.

The "Creveling" grape, a famous vine, was propagated by Mrs. Charity Creveling, wife of John Creveling, a member of the Society of Friends, at her home near Espy. The vine ran over a large pear tree beside the house, and cuttings from it were sold all over the nation. It was a popular grape in many parts of the country.

The first ostrich farm in a northern latitude is that of the Ostrich Farm & Feather Company, at the edge of the eastern end of Espy. The company was organized in 1910 with W.H. Hile, president; George W. Oster, vice president; James E. Teple, secretary; A.N. Yost, treasurer. All of these gentlemen but Mr. Oster are native sons of Columbia County.

Mr. Hile was led to organize the company by having visited several of the famous ostrich farms in other parts of the world. He procured the first of his stock in Africa and developed the farm into one of the show places of the State. He also had exhibition yards in Cleveland, Ohio, where forty-four birds were kept. In the Espy farm he had twenty-eight old birds and several young ones. An incubator house, pens, nesting house and factory for the preparation of the feathers were part of the equipment.

Besides ostriches the company bred Belgian draft horses, thoroughbred Guernsey cattle and Berkshire hogs. They were the first farmers in the county to grow alfalfa, successfully, and they had a number of acres of land devoted to grain and forage crops and vegetables. The farm was neatly kept, located beside the trolley line and a popular resort for visitors.

"Ostrich farms were found in California, Arizona, Texas, Arkansas, Florida and Pennsylvania. Ten farms had over one hundred birds each, five farms over four hundred birds each and one farm had over two thousand birds. In all, about seventy-five farms in the United States were making a business of ostrich farming. The number of birds on these farms was about seventy-one hundred, of which 5.685 were in Arizona. Approximately forty-nine hundred of all the birds were plucking birds and gave on the average one and a quarter pounds of feathers per bird, valued at $20 a pound. Besides this, a pair of breeding birds could easily reach $350 each, and eggs for hatching sell at about $10 apiece. Egg shells found a limited market as curiosities at fifty cents to one dollar each."

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