Commemorative Biographical Encyclopedia of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, pages 44-55

Transcribed by Becky Tuszynski ( for The Dauphin County Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project (
12 October 2000
Copyright Ó 2000 – All Rights Reserved: Use, duplication or reproduction for profit or presentation by any person or organization is strictly prohibited.

. . .1863. It is in Jackson township, and is a post town.

Washington township, named for the illustrious first President of the United States, was formed September 3, 1845. Its population is 1,698, including Elizabethville (named for the wife of the owner of the land) village, a post-office.

Washington Square is its near neighbor on the Lykens Valley railroad.

Short Mountain is another village at which there is a post-office named from the coal mines in its immediate vicinity.

Reed township, the smallest township in Dauphin county, named for William Reed, who lived about midway between Clark’s Ferry and Halifax. His son, William Reed, resides in the old homestead. Previous to being called Reed township it was Penn election district, formed of portions of Middle Paxtang and Halifax April 6, 1849. When the township was erected the portion of Middle Paxtang reverted to the original township. Population in 1890, 267.

Benvenue, a post-office with a fancy name, probably from the Scotch for mountain, and good entertainment therewith. "Choniata" would he a better Americanism.

Wiconisco township, named for the stream of that name, was formed in July 2, 1839. Its population is 2,280.

Wiconisco village (laid out in 1848) and post-office, named for the township.

Lykens is a borough with a population of 2,450. It was laid out in 1848 by Edward Gratz, and is the principal town of the Lykens Valley coal district.

Lykens township was so named for one of the earliest settlers of the locality, and was formed in 1810. Erdman post-office is in this township.

Williams township, formed February 7, 1869, named for an early settler. Its population is 1,485.

Williamstown, a post-office and thriving borough. Population, 2,324.

Rush township, formed October 23, 1819. The least populous of the townships, containing only 151 inhabitants, named for Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Mifflin township, named for Governor Thomas Mifflin, and formed October 22, 1818. Population, 546. Rife and Speeceville are post-offices in this township.

Berrysburg, originally called Hellerstown, a borough of 1871 in this township, named for a family of that name. This village has 426 inhabitants.

Uniontown, at first called Snydertown, officially Pillow P.O., after Gen. Gideon J. Pillow, a soldier of the Mexican war, formed in 1864. Population, 333.

Curtin, for Governor Andrew G. Curtin, is a post-office. Mifflin township has therefore five post-offices.

Jefferson township, named for Thomas Jefferson and formed April 23, 1842. Population, 317. Carsonville is a post-office in this township.

Gratz borough was laid out in 1805 by Simon Gratz, incorporated in 1852. Population in 1890, 490.

Wayne township, named for the gallant Gen. Anthony Wayne, is the youngest of the townships, formed from the east and most populous portion of Jefferson in May, 1878. Population, 512.

Enterline, named for a family of that name; also in this township. Waynesville P.O. is in Wayne.

Penbrook, the latest incorporated borough in the county. It adjoins Harrisburg on the east.

Having reviewed the various civil sub-divisions of the county, we turn to an explanation and description of its valleys and streams.

On the south are Conewago creek and valley. The stream is found on all early charts, spelled as at present.

Then we have the superb Swatara and its fertile valley. It enters the county in East Hanover and finishes its course at Middletown. The old Union canal was laid out on its northern bank. Its tributaries are Bow, Manada and Beaver creeks. All early surveys give the same names.

The Paxtang has its source near Linglestown and discharges itself into the Susquehanna at Harrisburg. It is so spelled in the early surveys and should be so now, although it is frequently written Paxton.

Fishing creek has its source in West Hanover and discharges itself at Fort Hunter. It is almost entirely in Middle Paxtang.

Stony creek, the origin of the name is very patent. Its whole course is turbulent, over a rocky bed, crowded into the narrow valley between the Kittatinny and Sharp mountains. It discharges itself at Dauphin.

Clark’s creek and valley, named for the Clark family who settled there about 1728. Its source is in Schuylkill county, through Rush and Middle Paxtang, to the Susquehanna above Dauphin. The valley is very narrow.

Powell’s creek and valley, named for a family of that name who settled near its mouth about 1760, perhaps at an earlier date. Parts of the valley are quite fertile. Its source is in Jefferson township.

Armstrong creek, named for the first settler in that locality, takes source in Jackson township and discharges north of Halifax. The valley is a very fine one.

Wiconisco creek takes its rise in Schuylkill county, passing Williams, Washington and Wiconisco townships, discharging at Millersburg. The Lykens Valley railroad is along its southern bank. It is an Indian name, and is found spelled on earlier surveys as at present, except occasionally with the French Ouikonisko.

Lykens is a beautiful and fertile valley, named for Andrew Lycans, who was the first to make a settlement in it.

Mahantango creek is the north boundary of the county. It is also an Indian name. On the early maps it is called "Kind creek." There is a finely cultivated valley on either side of it.

This account would be incomplete without mention of the mountainous region of the northern portion of the county. Below Harrisburg, depressed spurs of the South mountain cross from east to west, none of them of great elevation. Above that city the Kittatinny range, known as First, Second, Third and Peter’s dividing ridges, covers a great portion of Middle Paxtang, Rush, Halifax, Jefferson and Wayne townships; then the Broad, Thick, Sharp, Big Lick ridges; then Berry’s and Mahantango, occupying a large proportion of the area of that section of the county. Coal is found in the range along the Wiconisco creek, principally in the Thick or Big Lick mountain. The local nomenclature differs very much from the geographical.

Peter’s mountain has borne the same designation since 1729. Peter Allen came into the neighborhood from Conestoga, Chester, now Lancaster county. He was upon the first tax rate of that part of Chester county in 1717-18. His name is found after that in West Conestoga, then in Donegal, then in Paxtang, then in the present Middle Paxtang; his house is yet standing. That was the northeast boundary of Lancaster County as formed in 1729. He probably came up the river in 1724, and made preparation for permanent location about the time Chambers made his choice in 1725.