History of Eldred Township
Eldred Township is one of the smallest townships in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. The township has a total area of 14.3 square miles. The unincorporated village of Warrensville lies nestled on a narrow plain between two fertile hills and is a “cross-roads town” with roads leading from it in many directions. Travelling east is Loyalsockville, formerly known as Slabtown, because slab wood was collected at the bridge during the logging days. Southeast is Montoursville, formerly called “Tea Town” and “Coffee Town”, named by teamsters who while passing through on their way to Williamsport were often besieged by housewives requesting them to bring a quantity of these commodities.
Eldred Township was formed November 16, 1858, by order of the court, having been taken wholly from Hepburn Township, containing rolling hills with many fine farms. John F. Meginness wrote in 1892 that Eldred Township lies directly east of Hepburn and extends from there to Loyalsock Creek, and is the thirty-seventh in size, with an area of 7,680 acres.
This region was within the original timber belt which once covered the hill country bordering the wide valley along the river. It was a dense mass of vegetation and timber that only admitted a dim twilight on the brightest day. The timber included white pine, hemlock, birch, maple and poplar trees along with other hard woods and shared the geography with dense thickets of rhododendron, witch hazel and other growth found in forest shade.
Deer, bear and other edible animals were numerous, but the terrors of the forest were present as well. Wolves, panthers, wildcats and minor beasts prowled the area.
Samuel Wallis, a great land speculator, held the deed to nearly all this region. Upon his death, English Quakers bought tracts of land, now known as Quaker Hill. Among the first white settlers to this region in 1798 were the Wilsons, Winners, Pidcoes, and Marshalls.
Samuel Carpenter cleared the land for the village of Warrensville, the only village in the township. He was a very active and enterprising man. He built a combined saw and grist mill, while later added a carding machine (a mechanical process that disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibers to produce a continuous web). In 1807 Nicholas Flieger came from England and married Leah, the aunt of Samuel Carpenter. He became a miller in this area. Henry Kettering ran a blacksmith shop, Charles Henxler had a wheelwright shop, and John Hoffman ran a store. Along with those businesses, there were tanners, tailors, shoemakers, weavers, spinners, farmers, teamsters, and laborers before the village even became an established place.
In 1841, John Weisel laid out the village with streets and alleys. The population of the village soon increased to 200 people. The village is still in this format, but the 2000 census reported the population to be 2,178 people.
The residents of Eldred Township had to travel to Williamsport to vote at the post office. This became a hardship and an inconvenience, so a post office was needed in the township and a name was needed for the village. Some wanted to call it Johnstown after John Weisel, some wanted Sidneyville for Mrs. Weisel but because women were not recognized publically, that was not passed. Livingston was another name that was proposed for the English explorer and missionary, however, the younger residents wanted to name it in memory of General Warren, the hero of Bunker Hill. Therefore, the Warrensville name was finally adopted, and the post office was established July 25, 1842, with James Torbet as postmaster.
Warrensville became the birthplace of many honorable and noble people who became doctors, lawyers, and educators. Names such as Kimble, Mudge, Mansel, Crawford, Milnor, Wilson, Waltz, Stabler, Kiess, Haines, Champion and many others whose names are familiar to this community.
The Quakers were an intelligent class of people, and they considered the education of their children important. Schools needed to be built for the education of their children. The first schoolhouse can be traced to the Christian Hill School, which was located on an acre of ground on the public road leading to Loyalsockville. The Christian Hill School, church and cemetery were located on this road adjacent to one another.
Four more schools were erected in the township to accommodate the growing population, Warrensville, North Eldred, Excelsior and Quaker Hill. All were made of logs except for the Quaker Hill schoolhouse, which was constructed of stones. The earliest schools were about 16 square feet with an open fireplace. They had desks facing the walls and seats made of slabs turned flat side up with stakes driven into auger holes for legs. The small children sat around a low table in the middle of the room.
In the early history of Eldred Township, the religious sect known as Christian was popular. People worshiped in homes, barns, and the school until their church was built near the cemetery and school at Christian Hill. Methodist prospered for many years in the area along with the Baptist faith. The Dunkers came to the area west of Eldred Township in 1805 and settled in Blooming Grove. In 1807 and 1817, more Dunkards arrived in the area, and the younger generation wanted a less strict religion. So, in 1839, the German Baptist Church was created and was originally called the Eldred Church. In 1884, the Baptist Church was rebuilt and in 1900 the parsonage was built next to the church. The service was conducted in both German and English, but later the German language was dropped.
Eldred Township is bordered by the unincorporated village of Balls Mills, Hepburn Township to the west. Gamble Township to the north. Plunketts Creek Township and Upper Fairfield Township are to the east, following the course of Loyalsock Creek. Loyalsock Township to the south.
Mill Creek is the principal stream running through the township. It empties into the Loyalsock Creek about 1 mile above Montoursville. Its tributaries are Sugar Camp Creek, Caleb’s Creek, and Lick Run. Miller’s Run is in the southwestern part of the township and empties into the Susquehanna River.
Mill Creek was an important part of the early development of the area. When the grist mills were built, this creek was dammed which allowed the water to flow when needed. Wooden troughs called raceways were built into the hill sides and would carry the water from Mill Creek to the water wheel at the mill to make power so the machinery could turn grain into flour.