Ellis' History of Mifflin County, Chapter 13, Menno Township ~ Mifflin County PAGenWeb


From Franklin Ellis' History of That Part of the Susquehanna and Juniata Valleys
Embraced in the Counties of Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, Union and Snyder
. Philadelphia, 1886.



By Miles Haffley


The territory comprising this township was originally in Derry from 1767 to 1770, when it became a part of Armagh and so remained until the erection of Union, and in 1836, upon the division of Armagh and Union, it was erected as given below.

Menno township was erected from Union at January term of court, 1837. A petition was presented to court at the April term, 1836, asking that Armagh and Union townships be divided. Thomas I. Postlethwaite, D. R. Reynolds and Robert Miles were appointed commissioners to divide the townships of Armagh and Union and form tow new townships. The commissioners reported, July 20, 1836, that they believe it very proper to divide the townships of Armagh and Union, and presented a plot of the same as No. 1, Menno; No. 2, Union; No. 3, Brown; No. 4, Armagh. Menno was described as being six and a half miles in length, and the average width from the summit of each mountain as four miles. The report was accepted and confirmed at January term of court, 1837, and the new township No. 1 was named Menno, after Menno Simon, the founder of the Mennonite Society.

The township lies north of Jack's Mountain,


and is the westerly part of the territory that was embraced in Armagh upon its erection, in 1770. It is bounded also by a range of hills on the northerly side, on the east by Union and on the west by Huntingdon County. Kishacoquillas Creek takes its rise in the valley and flows northeasterly through Union, Brown and Derry townships, and enters the Juniata River at Lewistown.

EARLY SETTLERS. - In 1754, Alexander Torrentine and Robert Brotherton, in their wanderings in search for land, located tracts in this valley, and took out their warrants in 1755, the first year warrants were issued.

Robert, Joseph and James Allison, Matthew Kenney, Samuel Gilmore, Hugh McClellan, Henry McConkey, John McDowell, Esq., and John Wilson, Esq., were among the early settlers. Of these families, the Allisons, Gilmores, McClellans, McDowells and Wilsons were living in the township in 1837. Many of the Mennonites and Amish became settlers in this locality.

An account of the Sharron tract of land, granted to Andrew Montour, now, in part, the site of Allenville, will be found in the sketch of that town. This tract, containing seventeen hundred and ten acres, was purchased by John and Jacob King, of Lancaster, Pa., April 12, 1804, for ten thousand pounds.

On this tract Jacob King, with his family of nine living children, removed, the eldest being John, and the remainder, in order of birth, - Anna, Samuel, Barbara, Mary, Elizabeth, Catherine, Magdalene and Jacob. Much of the land originally purchased by Jacob King still remains in possession of the family. John King was, during his lifetime, a farmer in Menno township. He married Elizabeth Yoder, of the same county, and had children, - Samuel, Jacob, John Y., Solomon, Benjamin Yost,


Elizabeth (wife of Christian Myers), Barbara (wife of Jacob Hartzler). All with one exception settled in the county, and of this number John Y. is the only survivor. Yost, a native of Menno township, resided upon the farm now owned by his son Joseph King. He married Magdalene, daughter of Joseph Zook, of the same county, and had children, - Joseph; John, deceased; Peter Y., of Mennon township; Levi, deceased; Yost, of the same township; Elizabeth (wife of Jacob Hartzler), Sarah (wife of Jonathan B. Zook.

Mr. Yost King occupied an influential position in the county, was enterprising and public-spirited and especially well known for his philanthropic nature and many acts of kindness. His political principles were those of the Whig party, by which he was elected county commissioner and to many township offices. His religious views were in harmony with the creed of the Mennonite Church, of which he was an exemplary member. His death occurred in 1859, and that of his wife in 1855. His son Joseph was born on the 28th of September, 1832, on the homestead farm, where, with the exception of six years, his life has been spent. He was early instructed in the various industries of the former, and after a limited time at school devoted his energies to agriculture, remaining as assistant to his father until his twenty-second year. He was married, on the 13th of March, 1855, to Nancy, daughter of John and Leah Esh, of Juniata County, Pa. Their children are Emma S., Lina L., Ida and Albert J. On his marriage Mr. King rented a farm adjacent to that of his father, on which he remained for six years. He finally inherited a portion of the homestead and purchased the remainder, which he continues to make his home, still devoting himself to farming, and giving special attention to the raising of grain and to grazing. He was for nine years a school director. The family of Mr. King worship at the West Kishacoquillas Presbyterian Church, of which he, and his wife and daughters are members.

A tannery was built by Richard Allison about 1815, which was continued until about 1830. It stood near where James and David Allison now live. Robert McDowell erected a tannery about 1830, in Allenville, which was continued for several years, when it was sold to Beatty Cook, who ran it a few years, when it was abandoned. About 1830, Philip Weiler erected a tannery, which was continued by him and his sons until the present year (1885), when it was abandoned.

A short distance from the Weiler tannery, John Gettys, in 1816, built a carding-mill, which was conducted by himself and his sons until 1859, when it was abandoned.

William Allison erected a saw-mill in 1827, which is now owned by his son, Robert Allison.

Abraham Zook, in 1820, built a saw-mill, which passed to his son, Abraham Zook, Jr., in 1851, who, in 1858, sold to Jacob Kurtz. It is now owned by his son Eli Kurtz.

Abraham Zook, in 1831, erected a grist-mill which he sold in 1842 to David Zook. In 1854, it passed to Eli Byler, who, two years later, conveyed it to Harrison Manbeck, who continued it until 1860, when he sold it to Edward Wheaton, who in 1864 sold it to John Metz, Jr., who in 1878 sold to David Peachey, the present owner. It was run by water-power until 1880, when steam-power was added.

The grist-mill now owned by William Mateer was erected by Philip Headings about the year 1827, and by him sold in 1834 to Joseph Zook, who kept it until 1841, when it passed to Isaac Coplin, who, the next year, sold the property to James McDonald, and by him it was retained until 1856, when it was bought by Andrew Beck, who conducted it until 1865, and William Headings became the proprietor and continued the mill until 1872, when it came in possession of William Mateer, the present owner.

The tract of land on which Webb & Zerbe's woolen-factory new stands was warranted by Joseph Kyle, April 5, 1794. The land passed, respectively, to Leonard Cochel, 1810; John Loutz, in 1823; Samuel Loutz and Elizabeth and Catharine Statzfoos, 1827; John Zook, 1832. Many years before the latter date a grist-mill had been erected farther up the mountain, in the gap. Upon this tract a carding-machine, a chopping and fulling-mill were


erected on the site of the present mill, which was erected by John Zook, in 1852, who sold it to Thomas Webb and Jacob Zerbe, the present owners, in 1864.

Samuel King, about 1830, built a clover-mill in Allenville, which was abandoned about 1836.

SCHOOLS. - In 1834 there were four school-houses in the township, - at Yoder's, near the county line; at King's east of Allenville; at Wilson's, and near the Brick Church.

In 1839 the first school directors were elected, and were John Fleming and Stephen Diffenderfer. There are at present (1885) in the township six school-houses, all built of brick, - west of Allenville; at King's, east of Allenville; at Abraham D. Zook's; at near Jonas Yoder's; at Weiler's, and at Allenville, the latter being a double house. The present school directors of the township are Frank Weiler, Thomas S. Pyle, James R. Allison, Samuel Hazlett, J. M. Dechenbach and Abraham Fultz.


The site of the town of Allenville was first granted to Andrew Montour for services rendered at a grand council with the Indians at Easton in 1758. He was a half-breed and an interpreter. He resided upon Sherman's Creek, near Landisburg, Perry County, from 1752 to 1755, when he was placed in charge of the land not then bought from the Indians, and for the purpose of keeping trespassers from settling upon it. It was upon the recommendation of the Indians that several tracts were granted him, of which this was one. The survey was returned May 19, 1767, named "Sharron," and contained 1710 3/4 acres. This in some way became the property of the Rev. Richard Peters, and upon his death John Penn (son of Richard), John Penn (son of Thomas) and Richard Peters, executors of the Rev. Richard Peters, sold, November 11, 1785, the "Sharron" tract to Benjamin Chew, for which he obtained a patent dated September 3, 1796. He purchased also other tracts, two of which were called Chew's Addition, one of one hundred and thirteen acres and the other one hundred and forty-eight acres. This Sharron tract Chew sold to John and Jacob King, of Lancaster County, April 12, 1804, whose descendants are still in possession of part of it. The town of Allenville was laid out on part of it about 1806. A store was soon opened and in 1819 Christopher Howell opened a store and a hotel. The latter was continued for many years, and latterly by John Hoffman, until its abandonment.

The town has been of slow growth and contains three churches (a Presbyterian, Lutheran and Methodist), three stores (kept by William Huey, Samuel Secrist and Focht & Bradley), a post-office, two physicians (Dr. Jacob Metz and Dr. --- Getter).

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. - The first preaching known in Menno township was at the house of Robert Brotherton in the year 1774. His house stood near where the Presbyterian grave-yard now is. The Rev. James Johnston, pastor of the Kishacoquillas Church, also had this congregation in charge from 1783 to 1797, when he resigned; he, however, continued preaching until about 1807. In 1784 John Wilson, John Reed, Francis Semple and ----- Fleming were chosen as elders. An old log school-house, near by, is said to have been used also as a preaching-place. A tent was put up near the house of Robert Brotherton, which was used until 1800, when a log church was built on the present grave-yard lot. This was used until 1826, when it was replaced by a brick edifice, which was used until about 1860, when, upon the congregation building a brick edifice at Belleville, this church was abandoned and sold. In 1862 the members of the congregation in the vicinity united and built a brick church in Allenville, which is still used.

The pastors who have served the church since the Rev. James Johnston are as follows:

Rev. William Kennedy, April 17, 1810, to October, 1822; Rev. James Stewart, April 6, 1827, to his death, February 27, 1829; Rev. Joseph Adams, six months' supply; Rev. McKinight Williamson, six months' supply; Rev. William Ammon, October, 1830, to October, 1835; Rev. Moses Floyd, April 4, 1837, to 1842; Rev. Samuel McDonald, February, 1846, to October, 1855; Rev. James Williamson, April, 1858, to 1860; Rev. Robert B. Moore, fall of


1860 to 1866; Rev. R. M. Campbell, 1867 to the present time.

This church and that of Belleville are under the same pastorate.

LUTHERAN CHURCH. - The first church of this denomination built in Kishacoquillas Valley was erected in Allenville in 1827, and was dedicated in that year by the Rev. ----- Stowe and the Rev. Jonathan Ruthrauff, who remained as pastors in charge, with other congregations, until 1832. The pastors who have served from that time are as follows:

1832-39, Rev. Charles Keyle; 1839-43, Rev. Christian Lepley; 1843, Rev. --- Hesster; 1845-49, Rev. Adam Height; 1849-55, Rev. George Sill; 1855-57, Rev. Jacob B. Crist; 1857-59, Rev. J. N. Burket; 1859-61, John C. Lunger; 1861-70, Rev. J. M. Steck; 1870-75, Rev. J. M. Rice; 1879-80, Rev. David Z. Foulk; 1880-83, Rev. J. M. Steck; 1883, the present pastor, the Rev. C. W. Heisler.

The old church was torn away under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Steck, and the present brick edifice erected on its site. The church has a membership of one hundred and fifty.

THE METHODIST CHURCH edifice was erected in 1852, under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Mills, who was then on the circuit.


White Hall is a small settlement about four miles east of Allenville and two miles west of Belleville. A store was opened at the place by John Lantz, in 1822, which was later kept by Shirk & Hartzley, Henry Cosgrove, George Patton, John Philips, Benjamin Groff, John Peachey, John Hibler, William J. Fleming, John McNabb and the present owner, James R. Fleming. Isaiah Coplin, in 1831, opened a hotel, which was continued three years and abandoned, since which time no hotel has been at the place. A post-office was established several years ago, and is now kept by James R. Fleming.

Except the store, dwelling-house and the hotel, no houses were built until after 1834. There are at present seven houses, a store, post-office and blacksmith-shop, a physician and justice of the peace.



Davis M. Contner is of German extraction. His father was John Contner a resident of Mifflin County, where he followed the trade of a miller. He married Nancy, daughter of Alexander Gibboney, and had children - G. Washington, Jemima, Ann, John, Elizabeth, Gibboney, William, Davis M. and one who died in early life. Davis M., of this number was born August 28, 1815, in Mifflin County, and until the age of fourteen remained an inmate of the parental home, meanwhile enjoying but meager advantages of education. He then entered the family of the Misses Elizabeth and Martha Kenney, of the same county, and after assisting in the various departments of farm labor, ultimately assumed the management of the property. Having rendered them faithful service and been successful in the care of the estate, on the death of Elizabeth Kenney, the farm was bequeathed to him by the latter in 1874. Mr. Contner was, in February, 1857, married to Mary Childs, of Liverpool, Perry County, Pa. The children of this union are Narcissa Kenney, William (deceased) and Ellen Jane. Mr. Contner was formerly a Democrat in politics, but on the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency indorsed the platform of the Republican party, with which he has since affiliated. He represented the Democracy as sheriff of Mifflin County in 1848, and was elected by the Republicans to the same office in 1863. He has also served as jury commissioner and held various township offices. He has on frequent occasions acted as administrator and was formerly a director of the Mifflin County National Bank. His time has, however, been more recently devoted to his farming interests. Mr. Contner is a member of the Mechanicsville Evangelical Lutheran Church.


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