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Derry Township

The Derry Township office is located at 109 Shed Road, Danville PA 17821; phone: 570-437-3388.

Beginnings [1]

Derry Township is one of the oldest townships and settlements of Montour County. A Mr. Brittain, whose given name has been lost in the span of time between the past and present, was the earliest settler in the territory that later became Washingtonville. His son, Nathaniel Brittain, lived to the ripe old age of fourscore years and more on the old family place, and the legal papers that he often exhibited with pride to his friends and neighbors indisputably proved his title to the family homestead. Another very early settler was Jacob Shultz, who in 1790 settled in what is now Limestoneville, from which place he moved to Derry Township after a tenancy of one year. He died in 1804, and was buried in Derry Church graveyard. During this year an epidemic of typhoid fever broke out in the community and carried off many people. Another very early resident of Washingtonville was Matthew Calvin. No trace of his posterity can be found in the modern annals of the community. He built the old frame mill which was a landmark in the early days of the village; twice the structure was devastated by fire and as often rebuilt. Another pioneer was Joseph Hutchinson, who settled near Washingtonville in the earliest times. Another was William A. McCormick, father of James McCormick, who afterwards received honors from his native county. William Shaw was another settler at that time; his daughter Margaret was the wife of William A. McCormick. James McCormick was a colonel of militia, served two terms in the State Legislature, and his descendants are among the prominent families of Derry Township in 1914.

In 1812 a sawmill, the first in Derry Township, was erected by John Steinman, who selected a site half a mile above the Billmeyer place. A little later in the same year another mill was built, by John Auten, who after experimenting for two years found business good enough to add a gristmill to his lumber enterprise, and at the same time erected a house. The gristmill long has passed from the ken of man and the sawmill followed it into oblivion.

John Wilson was another early settler of the community. He located near the Billmeyer place, and died on the farm which he purchased. Stephen Ellis and his wife Eleanor (Cunningham) were also pioneers of Derry Township, emigrating to the vicinity from Donegal, Ireland. A son, Stephen, was born to them in their new home on May 15, 1807.

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