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 Loyalsock Township History

The following is a copy of a letter written to Mr. Bruce Henry of Williamsport, PA, from Genevieve Blatt of the State Department of Internal Affairs, responding to a request Mr. Henry made in 1961 for information about the township:

 

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
DEPARTMENT OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
HARRISBURG

 

GENEVIEVE BLATT
SECRETARY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS

 

October 26, 1961

 

Mr. Bruce Henry
2049 Sheridan Street
Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Dear Mr. Henry:

You requested information on the number of cities, boroughs and townships in Pennsylvania. This Department’s latest count of municipalities indicates 51 cities (one city of the first class -  Philadelphia, one city of the second class - Pittsburgh, one city of the second class A - Scranton and 48 cities of the third class), 952 boroughs (including the Town of Bloomsburg), 83 townships of the first class and 1475 townships of the second class.

The following brief history of Loyalsock Township was com­piled from Information given in “Pennsylvania - Political, Governmental, Military and Civil”, volume two, by Frederic A. Godcharles, Litt, D, “History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania” edited by John F, Meginness and “History of Lycoming County”, volume one by Colonel Thomas W. Lloyd. Loyalsock Township was created from portions of Muncy Town­ship in February of 1786. At the time both townships were part of Northumberland County. Loyalsock Township was formed by petition to the Northumberland County quarter sessions court meeting in its Febru­ary session.

The creation of the new township was the first of several re­ductions in the territory of Muncy Township which, according to one historian, in the late 1800’s encompassed an area large enough to make twenty townships. The reason given by this same historian for the creation of Loyalsock Township was an increase in population which made it necessary to divide Muncy Township. Nine years later Lycoming County was erected by an Act of the General Assembly signed into law by the Governor on April 13, 1795 and Loyalsock Township then became part of the new county.

The territory of the new township lay between the Loyalsock and Lycoming creeks and it was named after the former. The word “Loyalsock” is a corruption of the Indian word “Lawi-Saquick” which means middle creek. The Indians called the creek Lawi-Saquick be­cause it lies midway between the Muncy and Lycoming Creeks. Early historians reported that the township was bordered on the east and west by the two creeks but extended northward for “an indefinite dis­tance.” This northern portion was “wholly uninhabited and wild.”

The township was sparsely settled at the time except along the river and a mile or two up the Loyalsock Creek, Names of early settlers which have been recorded were Peter Smith, his wife and six children, the Covenhoven and Benjamin families who settled at the mouth of the creek in 1768 and Samuel Harris who played a prominent role in the history of Lycoming County. The Smith family was wiped out in June of 1778 when the family and a party of eight others were ambushed by Indians near the mouth of the creek. These early settlers had much trouble with Indian raiding parties.

Rosters of township officials for the first years of the township existence indicate the names of other early families. The records show that the township officers for Loyalsock Township in1787, the first year in which officers were chosen, were as follows:

Constable - Uriah Barber

Overseers - Amariah Sutton / John McAdams

Supervisors - William Winter / William Hammond

Viewers of Fences - Samuel Sutton / William Jones

In 1789, the following men were chosen as township officials:

Constable - William Winter

Overseers - William Hepburn / William Winter

Supervisors - William Winter / William Hammond

Viewers of Fences - Samuel Sutton / William Jones

The county assessor in 1788 reported 23,146 taxable acres of land in Loyalsock Township, 61 horses and 64 cows. The real estate val­uation for the township was listed as 19,079 pounds and county and states taxes for the township totaled 24 pounds 10 shillings and 50 pounds 3 shillings, respectively. In 1796 a county enumeration of taxable inhabitants indicated 100 taxables for Loyalsock Township. A similar enumeration for 1880 disclosed 149 taxable inhabitants.

The histories of Lycoming County do not give a definite account of the amount of territory which Loyalsock Township lost through annexation of its territory to other municipalities which were created after it. One work, “The History of Lycoming County, Penn­sylvania” edited by John F. Meginness stated that Loyalsock Township was originally next to Muncy, the largest township in the county “but was gradually shorn of much of its territory to make room for other townships. Three-quarters of the township was taken for the location of what is now the City of Williamsport.” Frederic A. Godcharles in his work, “Pennsylvania - Political, Governmental, Military and Civil” states that Hepburn Township was erected from portions of Loyalsock township in 1804.

According to the 1890 census the population of Loyalsock was 2,498. At this time the township stood as seventeenth in size among Lycoming County municipalities and contained 15,360 acres. The town­ship was then bordered on the east by Montoursville Borough, Fairfield and Upper Fairfield Townships; on the north by Eldred and Hepburn Townships, on the west by Lycoming and Old Lycoming Townships and on the south by the City of Williamsport and the river.

Early industries in the township were the McKinley Iron Works and the sawmills of Elias Deemer and Company, J.B. Emery and Ezra Canfield. The McKinley Iron Works was organized between 1825 and 1830 when Isaac McKinley and his son built a forge on Lycoming Creek. Later, they built a furnace and rolling mill and made ten plate stoves. The business passed into other hands later but was continued until 1865 when a flood damaged the buildings so badly that they were never re­paired.

In the late 1900’s Loyalsock Township had the greatest population of any township in Lycoming County and had more school houses (12) than any other township. The township also contained three churches and a chapel, one of which was the Limestone Meth­odist Episcopal Church built in 1888.

The oldest cemetery in the present township was known as the Harris graveyard. Samuel Harris started this graveyard for his family but permitted others to be buried there. It is likely that the graveyard was started during the time of Indian troubles and that some of the early settlers who were killed by Indians were buried there. The old graveyard was destroyed by the building of the Cata­wissa branch of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad.

The land area of Loyalsock Township was 20.3 square miles as of 1940. The United States Bureau of the Census publication “Areas of the United States 1940” is the latest available source of data for land area of municipalities since areas have not been adjusted for annexation since 1940.

I hope this information will be helpful to you. Please write this Department again, if I may be of further help to you.

Yours sincerely,
Genevieve Blatt