Home | Whats New | Site Index | Search

Beaver Township

Columbia County, Pennsylvania

Beaver Township mailing address is 650 Beaver Valley Road, Bloomsburg PA 17815.
Phone: 570‑389‑1871.

Beginnings [1]

Beaver Township, formed in 1845, was the fifth in order of organization in Columbia County, and was named from the little run which flows through the central valley between Buck and McAuley Mountains. North of this lies the valley of Scotch run, above which on the north towers Nescopeck Mountain. This region of elevations and depressions did not attract early settlers and was not occupied until the more level and fertile lands to the westward were taken up. In 1774 Beaver Valley was occupied by Alexander McAuley, whose mysterious fate is described in the sketch of Locust Township. He retired from this Indian infested region in 1776, but a neighbor, Andrew Harger, was captured by the savages and kept in bondage for almost a year.

No further attempt was made to inhabit the "Beaver Swamps" until 1799. At that date there appears to have been an Englishman by the name of Thomas Wilkinson living a hermit's existence in a cave along Catawissa Creek. Among the settlers of the following years were James Van Clargan, and the Klingaman, Oaks, Rarig, Mensinger, Swank, Longenberger and Fisher families. At this time a dispute arose between Daniel Oaks and Reuben Eyerly as to the title to a piece of land. Soon after, the Oaks family were burned in their house. Eyerly was arrested for the atrocity, but released for lack of evidence. He was, however, later hanged for a similar crime. John Dalious settled at the foot of the mountain on Catawissa Creek. He was from Berks County, as were John Rarig, Ludwig Mensinger and John Hootz, who followed him some time later.

The industries of Beaver Township in early times, as well as the present, were few and insignificant. John and Christian Shuman ran a sawmill and tannery on the site of the present station of Shuman before 1868, and James Hause had another sawmill near the source of Beaver run.

J.B. Nuss built a gristmill at Beaver Valley post office, which was burned in 1876, while the proprietor, F.L. Shuman, was in Philadelphia. He rebuilt it and sold it in 1881 to Charles Reichart. The latter kept the mills till 1885 and then sold to Dr. A.P. Heller, of Millville. Sherman Heller, the son, ran it until 1886 and then sold to McHenry & Heller. D.W. Shuman was the proprietor in 1914. The mill had an overshot wheel of 35 horsepower, and a capacity of forty barrels of flour per day. It was a buckwheat mill.

The height of McAuley Mountain brings it within the limit of the Pottsville conglomerate, which lies together with the strata of anthracite. These deposits are the only ones in the Columbia County outside of Conyngham Township, and are small in area and difficult to mine, owing to their great height above the valley. This coal had been noted in 1826, during the surveying of the Catawissa railroad, but it was not until the opening of that road in 1853 that the capitalists turned their attention to these deposits. The McAuley railroad was incorporated in 1854 to run through Beaver Valley and connect with the Catawissa Road, a distance of five miles. In 1855 Charles B. Penrose, Lee W. Buffington and John C. Sims formed the Columbia Coal and Iron Company, with a capital of $500,000, and in 1858 they took in the railroad company. The building of the road and breakers and the opening of mines were accomplished in the succeeding years, and in 1867 the first coal shipments were made from the McAuley colliery. The bright prospects of the companies were not to be realized, however, for in five years after the first shipment of coal the mines were practically exhausted. The railroad tracks and the breakers were removed in 1869. These mines thereafter were operated solely for local consumption, under lease.

The mines on the north side of the mountain were opened when the Danville, Hazleton & Wilkes-Barre railroad was completed. Simon P. Kase, one of the promoters of the railroad, built the breaker of the Beaver Valley Coal Company in 1864, and owing to the refusal of the Catawissa railroad owners to run a line along the Scotch Valley he promoted the new road. He leased the colliery to J.H. Losee in 1871 for ten years. It was then idle for five years. In 1886 James and Mary McAlarney undertook to operate it, and were followed by Joseph Donnellan. Later it was operated by E.M. Cook, of Boston, Massachusetts, the local superintendent being Harry E. Keiper. The work was done by means of a steam shovel, and consisted of stripping off the top layers of rock, and soil to get at the upper layers of coal left by former workers. When this layer was removed the mines were entirely exhausted.

As the first miners did not know that the coal deposits were in basins they mined in a haphazard way, thus making the work of the later owners very difficult.

In Buck Mountain, in the southeastern part of Beaver Township, are mines which for many years were worked by the Buck Mountain Coal Company, and later by Coxe Brothers & Co., and then operated by the Lehigh Valley Coal Company. The coal was loaded on cars at Gowen and sent to Hazleton, where it was prepared for market.

The first Methodist sermon heard in Beaver Township was delivered in 1815 at the home of David Davis, on the road crossing Catawissa Creek in the extreme southeastern part of the township. Revs. Dawson, Rhoads, Taneyhill and Monroe preached there for some time, the latter in the years 1822-23 organizing a congregation and building a church near the county line. The Methodist congregation disbanded in 1872 and the Evangelical denomination then held services in the church, the pastors coming from Schuylkill County.

St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church, formerly called Harger's Church, was located on the side of McCauley Mountain, on one of the coldest spots in Beaver Township during the winter. It is the only union edifice in the southern part of Columbia County, used also by the Reformed denomination. The Lutherans organized in 1848, and for a time held services in a barn. Before that the members had to cross Nescopeck Mountain to attend the Mifflinville Church. The first regular place of worship was a log schoolhouse. The first union church was built in 1849, and the second one in 1892. Services were held here by the Lutherans alternate weeks.

The first school in Beaver Township was taught by Isaac Davis in the Kostenbauder gristmill, in 1821. Four years later he opened another in his home, on the site of the Davis church. In 1825 Henry Schell taught in a dwelling near the church, on the road from Beaver to Mainville, and Adam Holocher taught another in a building on the land of Charles Michael. A school was later taught on the land of Joseph Lehr. All of these schools were at first devoted to instruction in the German language, but later English was introduced.

The number of schools in the township in 1914 was seven, and 183 scholars of both sexes attended. The school directors were: Oscar Bredbenner, Ellis Klingaman, John Fritz, C. W. Stead, Miles Rittenhouse.

The population of Beaver Township in 1850 was 672; in 1860, 901; in 1870, 969; in 1880, 1,221; in 1890, 1,039; in 1900, 886; in 1910, 842.

  1. Historical and Biographical Annals of Columbia and Montour Counties Pennsylvania: Volume I, 1915, J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago