Main Township, Columbia County, Pennsylvania (PA)

Main Township

Columbia County, Pennsylvania

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Main Township municipal offices are located at 345 Church Road, Bloomsburg PA 17815.
Phone: 570‑271‑6598.

Beginnings [1]

Previous to 1799 Main Township was included in the territory of Catawissa Township. For nearly fifty years thereafter part was included in Mifflin Township and the balance still remained in Catawissa. In January, 1844, the township was formed with its present boundaries, that on the north being the Susquehanna River and the southern limit being defined by the towering height of Catawissa Mountain.

Along the Susquehanna River runs a bold hill which hems in the Pennsylvania railroad, giving it scarce room for one track; to the east rises the crest of Nescopeck Mountain; to the southwest lies the Catawissa range, and between the two Catawissa Creek forces a passage with much violence and many turns of its course. Probably one half of the territory of this division of Columbia County is given up to nature, owing to the abruptness of the hills and valleys.

It was while this region was known as Augusta Township and was included in Berks County that the first permanent settlers appeared within its limits. In 1709 Samuel John emigrated from Wales and settled in Uwchland, Chester County, Pennsylvania. His son Samuel removed from there to Exeter, Berks County, and from that place in 1772 his son, Isaac John, with his wife Margaretta came to the valley of Catawissa, having previously purchased three hundred acres of land here. During the summer of 1778 they were twice compelled to leave their farm for fear of Indian, depredations, and they endured many other hardships incidental to pioneer life. They occupied a log cabin a story and a half high, the door being in the roof and reached by ladders within and without. It is a well attested fact that a family of ten children was brought up in this humble and scarcely comfortable habitation.

Among those who followed Isaac John and settled farther up the creek were Peter Klingaman and John Klingaman, both of whom located at the site of Mainville. Jacob Gearhart settled on the hill above, Jacob Bower on a tract nearer the river, and a few others from the lower counties came before 1808, the Reading Road through the gap made by Catawissa Creek being their route of travel.

The principal industry of this township in the past was the manufacture of iron and its products. In 1815 the first charcoal iron furnace in Columbia County was built south of the site of the village of Mainville by John Hauck. The advantages of the location were the proximity to the Reading Road, the abundance of fuel, and the supply of ore in the bogs of Locust Mountain, near where the town of Centralia stands. Later on some of the ore was obtained from around Light Street. The pig iron was at first sent to Reading to be manufactured, but in a short time Hauck began to cast stoves and plows, one stove in particular serving to warm the old Quaker meetinghouse at Catawissa.

In 1826 Harley & Evans built a forge on the creek below the furnace, where the Kester mill was, which was operated by them until 1854, when Rudolph Shuman became owner. From 1863 to 1883 it was operated by C. E. Pennock & Co., of Coatsville. Later it was operated by Charles Reichart.

One year before he built the furnace John Hauck had taken advantage of the abundant waterpower to build a mill on the banks of Catawissa Creek. In 1831 Abraham Creesmer was the proprietor, and also operated the furnace. The mills on the old site were later operated by Jeremiah Kester.

The Mainville Roller Mills, of which D. W. Shuman was the proprietor, wee located on the creek between the two railroad bridges. The mill was built soon after the Hauck mill, three stories high and in a good state of preservation. Many additions and improvements had been added, the roller process superseding the old method of milling in 1885. John M. Nuss & Son operated the mill from 1876 to the date of Shuman's purchase.

The oldest religious societies in Main Township are the Lutheran and the Reformed. In 1813 they built a log church on the crossroads north of Mainville, calling it Fisher's Church, from one of the farmers who donated the ground for the building and cemetery. The second church upon this site was a frame, built in 1833. The third church, was a brick one, built in 1877. It was badly damaged by a storm in 1896 (the Lutherans had previously sold their share to the Reformed congregation and built a home of their own just north of the town). Frank Shuman donated the land and a frame building was erected in 1888, being dedicated in the following year. The cost was $4,300.

The donors of the ground upon which the successive union churches were built were Henry Fisher, Peter Bowman and John Neuss. The Lutherans organized in 1822 and their pastors to the present time have been: Revs. John Benninger, Jeremiah

The storm or cyclone which struck the union church in 1896 blew in the gable and so damaged it that the congregation had it torn down. The Lutherans having sold their interest in the building, the Reformed congregation sold the remains of the brick church and in 1896 erected a frame church building a short distance north of the site of the old one, at a cost of $2,500.

The membership of this church in 1914 was 138, and there were fifty children in the Sunday school.

Prior to 1880 the Methodists held services in the schoolhouse at Mainville and were included in the Mifflinville circuit. In that year a committee was appointed at the second quarterly conference of the church to erect a house of worship. John W. Shuman donated the ground and in October, 1881, the work was begun. The building, a frame, was dedicated in 1882, Rev. C. L. Benscoter being pastor at the time.

When Main Township was included in the limits of Catawissa the school children were compelled to attend the "springhouse" school in the western part of that township. About the year 1820 a school was opened by Jacob Gensel in George Fleming's carding mill on Scotch run, southeast of Mainville. In 1824 John Watts opened a school in a log building near the Fisher church. When that church was abandoned for the new one beside it the school was removed to the rejected building, which was fitted up for the purpose and used until the establishment of the public school system. Daniel Krist was another of the teachers in this school.

During the year 1886 five teachers were employed in the schools of this township at an average salary of $30 per month.

The population of Main Township in 1850 was 581; in 1860, 529; in 1870, 601; in 1880, 626; in 1890, 595; in 1900, 652; in 1910, 567.

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

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