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West Hemlock Township

Montour County, Pennsylvania

West Hemlock Township offices are located at 559 Columbia Hill Road, Danville PA 17821.
Phone: 570‑275‑9101.

Beginnings [1]

This division of Montour County was erected in 1853, after the controversy with Columbia County had been settled. The surface of the West Hemlock Township is extremely hilly, but all of it is now in cultivation. The east branch of Mahoning Creek passes through the northern part of the Township.

One of the early settlers in West Hemlock Township was George Crossley, who built a home about a mile south of the point known as New Caledonia. He had a family, but his descendants long ago left the neighborhood. Michael Sandel, who raised a large family, was next in order as a pioneer. Another early arrival in the community was Burtis Armvine, who built a house in the southern part of West Hemlock Township.

The village of New Columbia, in West Hemlock Township, at one time had ambitious aspirations for its future. Located on the Bloomsburg stage route, the residents looked forward to a healthy growth and material prosperity. But the Catawissa railroad, which later was absorbed by the Philadelphia & Reading, went by another route, and the only effect that its building had on the community was to deprive it of the periodical visit of the stagecoach. St. Peter's Church and cemetery and a cluster of residences marked the village, and the inhabitants have long given up the expectation that the community will undergo any sudden metamorphosis.

New Columbia was destined by its founders to be a village of no mean size, but circumstances willed otherwise, and it is now scarcely a settlement.

Swenoda post office was established here in 1895, with E. C. Crim in charge. It is now abolished.

At Stycr's Corners is located the farm of that family, which they called "Clover Hill." C.F. Styer, the present owner, developed the place into a fruit farm. He had many varieties of apples, peaches, pears and small fruits, and combined with this work the raising of fine swine and poultry.

St. Peter's Union Church at New Columbia was built in 1825 by the Presbyterian, Lutheran and Reformed denominations. The first Presbyterian pastor was Rev. Asa Dunham, and it was part of the Briarcreek charge for some years. The Lutherans and the Reformed members united and were in charge of Rev. Allan Chamberlain of the Buckhorn Church.

The first church building stood in the center of the cemetery, which is called Swenoda. Here are the graves of many of the older pioneers of the county, as well as those of soldiers of the Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Civil War. In 1870 the old church in the burying ground was razed and another one built, across the road. It was a fine brick building, of imposing appearance, standing on the top of the hill and overshadowing the few houses around it. In the rear were two large sheds for the shelter of the teams of the worshipers, ample space being provided for several hundred vehicles and horses.

Frosty Valley Methodist Church was located in the center of West Hemlock Township. The congregation worshiped in a schoolhouse nearby until 1869, when a frame church was built on the road from Bloomsburg to Mooresburg, three miles from Buckhorn. The trustees were Henry Hodge, William McMichael, John Gulliver, Samuel Runsley, William Pooley. This church was served for many years by pastors from Danville and Buckhorn.

There were three schoolhouses in West Hemlock Township in 1914, and the school directors were: L. C. Shultz, William E. Moore, J. H. Tanner, Lloyd Moore, W. W. Laubach.

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