John Pritiskutch Reproductions

History of Lebanon County - Mill Creek

The following is reproduced from the 1875 Atlas of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania

Mill Creek is the extreme south-eastern township of Lebanon county, and until the year 1844, was included in Jackson and Heidelberg, except about 500 acres which were added to it from Berks co.

The Muelbach or Mill Creek, a beautiful stream of considerable size, which flows through from west to east, gave to the township its name. On this stream as early as 1720, the German Baptists, more generally called "Dunkards" had a settlement.

Besides the Mill Creek there are several other streams of smaller size. The South Mountain or Conewago Hills are in the southern part of the township.

The rest of the land is generally level and well improved. The soil, principally limestone, is of good quality. There are several settlements or villages in the township. Near the Berks county line is Newmanstown, which, in 1762 was laid out by Walter Newman. " Millbach," sometimes called " Mill Creek Centre," from the creek on which it is built, is a small settlement near the centre of the township.

Richland and Sheridan are two thriving villages on the line of the Lebanon Valley R. R., which crosses the northern part of the township. The former is near the line of Jackson township, and the latter, which was formerly called Missemer's Station, is near the borders of Berks county. At both of these places business houses and private dwellings are springing up with great rapidity. The furnaces of Messrs. Wm. M. Kaufman & Co., are near Sheridan and have added much to the activity of the place.

In soil, and in the intelligence and enterprise of its people, Mill Creek will compare favorably with any other part of Lebanon county.

The principal settlers of this township were Hessians, Irish and Germans. The Hessians came from the Reading camp in Berks county, and settled principally among the mountains. The first German settlers came from Schoharie county, New York. Among the early settlers of note, may be mentioned Conrad Weiser, who came here from Philadelphia, accompanied by Wm. Penn, about the year 1719. After making a treaty with the Indians, Weiser started a settlement at Millbach. He afterwards settled near the present town of Womelsdorf, in Berks county, where he was buried. A plain stone slab marks his grave. Walter Newman and his wife Elizabeth came to this township from Ireland, sometime between the years 1741 and 1763, having previously, (about the year 1741,) received a grant of two tracts of land from Wm. Penn. This township was then included in or called Heidelberg township, in Lancaster county.

Lice (christian name not given,) settled at Tulpehocken, and worked for Frederick Miller for 9 cents per day. Land at that time sold for one dollar per acre. John Stump, Michael Meiser, John Noll, Michael Zeller, John Moore, Henry Moyer. Nicolas Lechner, John Grove, Christian Seibert, and others came from Schoharie county, N.Y., and settled at Millbach.

Later, Frederick Kopp and several others settled at Newmanstown. In 1704, it is' said that Michael Meiser took up the land now owned and occupied by Geo. Meiser. He, with twelve other families on a journey, encamped at this place over night, and finding a fine spring of pure water, he concluded to settle here, which he did, constructing for himself a hut of bark, in which he resided three years. Among the families that settled here at that time, were the Zellers, Fakes, Stumps, and Beckers. The Moores are said to have settled here two years later. Michael Meiser died at the age of 42 years, leaving his property to his eldest son George and it descended from one generation to another, until now it is owned by one of the fifth generation, Geo. Meiser, who is nearly 7 5 years of age. A strange coincidence connected with this property, is that it has been owned during 4 generations by the eldest sons, and that each ones name was George. The present owner has also a son and grand-son named George. So it is probable that the farm may yet be owned by George the sixth.

The first church built in this township was at Millbach. It still stands as a monument of the religious devotion of a people, who far removed from the civilized world, out in the savage wilds of the wilderness, did not forget their allegiance to him, who rules over and controls the destinies of nations.

Here the settlers from miles around came to worship; generally armed, fearful lest at an unguarded moment an attack should be made on them by their savage foes. The first house built exclusively for school purposes, was erected at Newmanstown in 1810, and was one story in height. In 1827, it was raised to two stories, and the upper one used as a church, The first mill, which still stands, was built at Millbach, the second was built at Jerrington's Hill, by Philip Kalbach, about 1800. The oldest dwelling houses in the township, are those of Mr. Garrett, near Sheridan. and Mr. Zeller, near Newmanstown. Both of these houses were used by the early settlers as forts, to which they repaired at night for protection against the Indians.

The first house in Sheridan was built by Henry Missimer, about the year 1856 or 157, and used as a tavern. The first brick house in Newmanstown. is occupied by Mr. Geiss. Lebanon county, rich in mineral deposits, is also well supplied with manufactories. Of the latter, Mill Creek has its share. The chief of these are the furnaces of Messrs. Kaufman & Co., which are as before stated, located at Sheridan, and give employment to a large number of men. The first one was built by Hunter & Kaufman, in 1862, and re-built as an Anthracite furnace in 1867, by Wm. M. Kaufman & Bro. Furnace No. 2, was built in 1874 by Win. M. Kaufman & Co., the present owners and proprietors. No. I has a capacity of 125, and number 2 of 175 tons of Iron per week. This Iron is in great demand, being made from ore of the first quality, and manufactured in a superior manner. Population of township in 1870 was 1926.