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Mifflinburg Borough

Union County, Pennsylvania

Mifflinburg Borough Hall is located at 333 Chestnut Street, Mifflinburg PA 17844.
Phone: 570‑966‑1013.

Buggy Town [1]

Youngmanstown served briefly as the acting county seat when Union County was created in 1813, but New Berlin succeeded it a year later. In 1827 Youngmanstown and Rhodestown were joined officially to create the borough of Mifflinburg, so named to honor the state's first governor, Thomas Mifflin. In 1855 the rivalry of Lewisburg and Mifflinburg surfaced briefly when Snyder County was removed from Union, and a new county seat was determined by referendum. Lewisburg won after a hard contest, and Mifflinburg's future seemed less rosy.

But in the 1860s the horse-drawn vehicular industry in the village, heretofore limited to two or three shops, and possibly ten or twelve mechanics, gained momentum. Since almost every fair-sized village in the area had at least one wagon-carriage shop, and since iron and wood, and blacksmiths and woodworkers were commonplace, a specialization in a particular community would have appeared remote indeed. But it happened in Mifflinburg.

Competition invited competition, and a more vigorous salesmanship. Apprentices left their masters to open their own shops, and by 1881 more then 30 buggy works were in operation. Most employed but one or two mechanics, but several as many as 12 or 15. During the winter of 1880-1881 one shop turned out 138 sleighs; another 90; and a third 71. The largest builders in the 1880s were the three Gutelius brothers, Thomas, Jacob and John each of whom operated his own shop. Frederick Gutelius and his wife Anna Bishel had moved to Mifflinburg from Berks County about 1805, and after three generations Gutelius was the most common surname in the community. Energetic and raw boned they furnished more than their share of leadership in civic and religious activities.

The expansion of buggy making made Mifflinburg the "buggy town," and the buggy capital of Pennsylvania. Vehicles were shipped by the box car into the South and West, as far as the Carolinas and Kansas, and they were towed in tandem to markets across Pennsylvania.

Thus the significance of the buggy town can scarcely be exaggerated.

  1. Dr. Charles M. Snyder, Union County Historical Society, Mifflinburg Historic District, nomination document, 1980, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.