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Mayberry Township

Mayberry Township offices are located at 80 High Road, Catawissa PA 17820; phone: 570-672-2740.

Beginnings [1]

Mayberry Township in Montour County was formed in 1853, and is almost completely separated from the rest of the county by the Susquehanna River. It projects southward like a tongue between Columbia and Northumberland Counties, and could well have been given to either one in the days of separation and dissension.

The territory of which Mayberry Township is formed was originally a part of Franklin Township, Columbia County, and was swapped back and forth between the two counties during the division until it finally landed in the hands of Montour County officials.

The Mayberry Township received its name from one of its chief citizens, Mayberry Gearhart, a descendant of William Gearhart, one of the earlist settlers of the district. The contour of the land is broken and hilly. Narrow levels, which follow the course of the Susquehanna River, mark some of the territory, while mountainous elevations rise in the north end and extend south through almost the length of the township limits. Sharp Ridge rises near the eastern boundary and extends in a southerly and southwesterly direction to the center; the ascent of this ridge is gradual and the top is comparatively level. Along the ridge is the main road leading from Danville, running across the north end of the township, along the river to Roaring Creek, and then turning south passes out of the township at the southwest corner.

The first settler of this section was John Cleaver, a Quaker who came from Chester County in 1783 and settled near the mouth of Roaring Creek, at the site of the present gristmill. Others who settled at this spot were William Gearhart and Daniel Brobst. Brobst was the first blacksmith and Cleaver built the predecessor of the present mill. John Mensch was an active factor in the German colony. Among others to settle, become prominent and then drift to other places was Charles Boone, who came from Berks County, and settled and improved the place that later passed to the ownership of William Gearhart. After living there several years he moved back to Berks County. A physician, Dr. William Boone. built a home half a mile up the creek; after living there for some years he migrated to Ohio, and there was killed. Another settler, J. Yought, built a house a mile further up the creek. Peter Osman moved in and built in the section that is now the north part of the township. The exact date of Vought's arrival is not known, but it is supposed to have been some time during the last part of the eighteenth century.

Mayberry Township contains no villages or towns within its limits. The roads are very poor and hilly and the inhabitants live in semi-isolated points, which cannot be dignified even with the name of settlements. The only post office established in this section was that at the mouth of Roaring Creek, called Howellville after the first postmaster, W. B. Howell, in 1895. The railroad station of the Pennsylvania here is called after the creek.

The scenery at the mouth of Roaring Creek and for some distance above is of great beauty. Here the creek makes a turn like the letter S and falls from one ledge to another in a series of beautiful cascades. The ledges are broken off short in places. The county bridge across the creek is an old wooden covered structure, built upon a foundation of the rock ledge, which is pierced just beneath it by a deep gorge, making an ideal location for the causeway. This spot is a popular resort for picnic parties and anglers.

This section was settled soon after the Catawissa Valley was populated. In 1783 John Cleaver, a member of the Society of Friends from Chester County, came here while on a visit to friends at Catawissa and decided to buy land on the north side of the Susquehanna River. He was deterred from this by the great flood of that year, which covered the lands he had selected, so he took instead a tract on the hills west of Roaring Creek, near its mouth, on the south side of the river. He brought his family here the following year, built a home, and the third year erected a mill on the bank of the creek. He built the dam on a rock ledge about half a mile above the mouth of the creek, anchoring the woodwork to the rocks by means of iron bolts. When this dam was replaced in 1911 by a concrete one the old work was still in a good state of preservation.

This mill passed into the hands of Wellington Cleaver after the death of his father, Jesse, and then in the possession of Henry E. Bohner. The concrete dam is one of the best examples of this class of work in the county, while the forebay has also been concreted for a short space between the edge of the hill and the mill. The old millrace, blasted from the solid rock, needed no repairs or improvement. One turbine of 35 horsepower operated the machinery, and the addition of other turbines could develop over 125 horsepower. The mill was fitted with modern roller process machinery and the output was twenty-five barrels of flour daily.

The most important industry in this section, as well as in the county, was the Roaring Creek Furnace, which to a great extent contributed to the development of the iron works of Danville. All that remains of the old plant now is the heap of slag, which many of the summer visitors think is part of the natural rock formation, so completely has the story of the old furnace passed from memory.

Another industry of the past was the sawmill of R. Davison, at the mouth of Little Roaring Creek, now abandoned. The gristmill of Jacob Swank, in the western edge of the township, on the same creek, about the center of the territory, was later owned by Peter S. Cromley.

The first church in Mayberry Township was the Methodist, built in 1856 almost in the center of the township. There is also an old cemetery opposite, one of the oldest in the southern part of the county.

The first schoolhouse was built before the Methodist church, and was for a time used also for religious services.

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