Markelsville, Pennsylvania

Markelsville is located in Perry County, Juniata Township in the heart of Big Buffalo Valley. Its origin began in 1763. By 1850 it was a booming village. Perry County was formed from Cumberland County on 23 March 1820.  At this time Juniata Township consisted of 7 townships namely, Tyrone; Toboyne; Rye; Greenwood; Juniata; Buffalo and Saville.  The county was named for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.  Perry County is part of the Appalachian Mountain Region.  It is bordered on the north, west and south by the Tuscarora, Conococheague and Blue Mountains.  The county is border on the east is the Susquehanna River.
 
Why Markelsville? My daughter, Charlotte, and her husband moved to Perry County. A few years later my youngest daughter, Carolyn, and her husband moved to Perry County, just one mile east of Charlotte. For five years I traveled to Perry County to visit the girls and became enamored with the country side. I became very familiar with the area and was a weekend customer of “Skyline Country Store”, which was just down the road from my daughters.
 
While in “Skyline Country Store” talking about my idea of a country home in Perry County when they told me about the farmette down the road that was for sale by the owners, Mark and Karen Thompson. It was spring 1993 that the tale of “Greene Pastures” in Markelsville began.
History of Markelsville
Markelsville is located in Perry County, Juniata Township in the heart of Big Buffalo Valley. Its origin began in 1763. By 1850 it was a booming village. Perry County was formed from Cumberland County on 23 March 1820.  At this time Juniata Township consisted of 7 townships namely, Tyrone; Toboyne; Rye; Greenwood; Juniata; Buffalo and Saville.  The county was named for Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.  Perry County is part of the Appalachian Mountain Region.  It is bordered on the north, west and south by the Tuscarora, Conococheague and Blue Mountains.  The county is border on the east is the Susquehanna River.
 
Juniata Township was created in 1793.  It was the 5th of the original 7 townships.  Juniata was formed from a portion of Rye Township.  When it was first created, the area included all of the later formed townships known as: Tuscarora and Oliver Townships and pieces of Miller and Centre. Through it flows Big Buffalo Creek, and on the south Little Buffalo Creek divides it from Centre Township, its lands being drained by both creeks. The most conspicuous feature of the township is Middle Ridge, whose gentle slopes are everywhere under cultivation and dotted with prosperous farm buildings and homes (H.H. Hain's History of Perry County PA, 1922). Big Buffalo Valley, a local name, referring to the territory between Hominy Ridge and Middle Ridge. The village was settled around 1770 and grew through the 19th century. Today it is a serene little community of both old and new residents. Today there may be more chickens, horses, and cows than there are people.

"PRETTY MEADOWS

In February, 1763 a 120 acre tract of land was warranted to Edward Elliot, and was named as "Pretty Meadows". In 1782 "Pretty Meadows" was sold to William Wallace, an innkeeper of Carlisle. In April 1769, an adjoining tract to "Pretty Meadows", of 142 acres, was warranted to John Pedan, who came from Lancaster County, and was named "Down Patrick".   In John Peden's will, dated August 1, 1775, is the clause: "And I allow, in case my child dies, that my wife, Martha, shall have that plantation lying in Sherman's Valley, known as "Down Patrick", she to pay twenty pounds to the other executor, to be put to use for the support of a minister in Dongegal."  By her will, dated a year later, it passes to  her brother, William Wallace. Thus William Wallace, owner of the "Pretty Meadow" tract, came into possession of the "Down Patrick". 
 
There is no record of any improvements until 1775, when part of it was under cultivation by some squatters who had been driven off by hostile Indians. Not  until 1776 or 1777 did Elliot and Peden clear and cultivate land there. Tradition says these lands were settled earlier but there records do not bear it out. Wallace transferred the  ["Down Patrick"] lands  to James McNamara in 1793.McNamara erected the first house in the place, and later a mill, and it came to be known as "McNamara's Mill". Above are excerpts H. H. Hain's book
 
Today it is a beautifully restored farm house called Pretty Meadow Farm dedicated to building a strong, local food system that values the land and animals on the farm.  It was intended to be a Bed & Breakfast”.  Today it is “Perry County Land and Cattle”. “We offer free-range, grass-fed beef, no hormones or antibiotics”.

"Down Patrick"

In April 1769, an adjoining tract to "Pretty Meadows", of 142 acres, was warranted to John Pedan, who came from Lancaster County, and was named "Down Patrick".   In John Peden's will, dated August 1, 1775, is the clause: "And I allow, in case my child dies, that my wife, Martha, shall have that plantation lying in Sherman's Valley, known as "Down Patrick", she to pay twenty pounds to the other executor, to be put to use for the support of a minister in Dongegal."  By her will, dated a year later, it passes to  her brother, William Wallace. Thus William Wallace, owner of the "Pretty Meadow" tract, came into possession of the "Down Patrick". 
There is no record of any improvements until 1775, when part of it was under cultivation by some squatters who had been driven off by hostile Indians. Not  until 1776 or 1777 did Elliot and Peden clear and cultivate land there. Tradition says these lands were settled earlier but there records do not bear it out.
 
Wallace transferred the lands to James McNamara in 1793, and he erected the first house in the place, and later a mill, and it came to be known as "McNamara's Mill". McNarmara sold the tract to Valentine Smith, from whom his son, John Smith, acquired twenty-two acres, including the grist and sawmill, and the lands upon which Markelville is located. From Smith it passed to John Weary, and from him to William Bosserman, in 1834. It the came known as Bosserman's Mill, and a post office was established bearing that name. 
 
Then the property was sold in two parcels, the lands principally going to John Leiby, who in 1853 sold to George Markle, whose building operations and public spirit gave his name to the town. The mill, on the other hand, passed  to George Leonard, who in 1868, sold to David Bixler. The next owners were A. S. Whitekettle, whose title dates to 1886; Henry K. Frymoyer, 1894; Yearick & Dock, 1898, Mr. Yearick later beoming sole owner; Gordon Brothers, 1900; J. . Alter, 1909, selling almost at once to Linn H. Boyer: Wm. A. Patton, 1911, and Lloyde D. Stambaugh, 1915.
Jonas Les kept the first store there. Other early storekeepers were Thomas Black, Peter Ouran, William Bosserman. George Leiby, George Markel Jr., Daniel Sutman, and later A..S. Whitekettle and Miller E. Flickinger.

The Old Mill becomes the General Store and Post Office

The village was originally known first as McNamara's Mill and then Bosserman's Mill until George Markle changed its name to Markleville/Markelville and now Markelsville.
 
Wallace transferred the ”Down Patrick”  lands to James McNamara in 1793, and he erected the first house in the place, and later a mill, and it came to be known as "McNamara's Mill". McNarmara sold the tract to Valentine Smith, from whom his son, John Smith, acquired twenty-two acres, including the grist and sawmill, and the lands upon which Markelville is located. In 1834 The "McNamara's Mill" was  passedfrom Smith to John Weary, and from him to William Bosserman. It the came known as Bosserman Mill, and a post office was established bearing that name.
 
Then the property was sold in two parcels, the lands principally going to John Leiby, who in 1853 sold to George Markle. George  Markel  bought  the two parcels of land, known as Bosserman’s Mill and Bosserman Post Office, from John Leiby. The building operations and public sprint of George Markel gave the town his name. Jonas Lesh kept the first store there. Other early storekeepers were Thomas Black, Peter Ouran, William Bosserman. George Leiby, George Markel Jr., Daniel Sutman, and later A..S. Whitekettle and Miller E. Flickinger.
 
 The mill, on the other hand, passed  to George Leonard, who in 1868, sold to David Bixler. The next owners were A. S. Whitekettle, whose title dates to 1886; Henry K. Frymoyer, 1894; Yearick & Dock, 1898, Mr. Yearick later becoming sole owner; Gordon Brothers, 1900; J. Alter, 1909, selling almost at once to Linn H. Boyer: Wm. A. Patton, 1911, and Lloyde D. Stambaugh.
According to the report of the mercantile appraiser the following are business firms of Juniata Township, the year following names being the date of beginning business:
 
M. E. Flickinger (1898), general store and postmaster at Markelville. Opened by Geo. Markel (1856), whose successor was A. S. Whitekettle, then L. D. Stambaugh and T. L. Toomey, grain, flour and feed.
The mill and house across the street was purchased by D. Dobbs sometime after 1985. Mr. Dobbs was in the process of converting the mill into a private residence when the township rejected him a building permit. Today it stands partly converted. Old mail boxes were found which confirms that it was a post office. Markelsville Road and Creek Road was the main postal route between New Bloomfield and Ickesburg.

COVERED BRIDGE

The main thoroughfare through Markleville to Wila was over the covered bridge on to the original Creek Road and left onto Wila. In the 1950s Rt.849 was improved and a new bridge built on to Wila and Newport. In the year 2000 Juniata Township renamed the roads to their current names. The original Creek Rd became Campbell Road and Rt 849 became Creek Rd. in Juniata Township only. Once Creek Road enters Tuscarona Township it becomes "Buffalo Creek Trace Road".
"I remember the old covered bridge before they built the new bridge.  In fact, some where my Mom has a picture of the two of us sitting on the guide fence as you enter the covered bridge.  When they started building the new bridge (can't remember the year, in the 50s), I was there every day helping the workmen.  I climbed all over that bridge all day long while they were building it and I helped them eat their lunch too.  The creek was my playground and the picnic ground along the creek below the Walker house.  Oscar Campbell & I used to walk to the one room school house on the other side of the creek."
"The old covered bridge was located about 1/4 mile west of the new bridge to the left (of course) just before you enter Oscar Campbell's private lane to his farm.  If you look closely you can probably still see some evidence of it. I don't know the name of that road, but at that time it was the main road. From Alvin & Mary Fosselman's farm (Alvin's mom & dad owned it then)  on the right side of the road traveling to the west, (I think it's west) there is an alley and now Doc (Alvin & Mary's son)  & Gail Fosselman live in that house on the alley.  There was a stone wall in front of the house.  When I was a kid, Charlie Whitekettle, a widower, lived there.  He was such a gentle old guy and always parted his hair in the middle.  He always looked so neat.  The next little house is the house in which I was born.  It has a balcony across the front, which creates a roof for the porch below.  At that time it was white frame and trimmed in green.  I don't know what it is now.  I used to sit on that balcony & play with my Lincoln logs - loved them!  There were about 6 steps from the state road up to the porch.The next big house to the west is the old Walker house.  It had a big front porch which wrapped around to the side also.  Earl & Elnora Walker were like grandparents to me.  When they died the house went to Jack Walker, their son.  Earl was a well driller. " - Sandy Comp Feb. 2004

"LITTLE VIENNA"

The present Markelsville includes the site of "Little Vienna" which was patented by Alexander Myers in 1809, and contained 365 acres. This tract of land lies east of St. John's Church. In 1815 Alexander Myers planned and laid out the "future city" on the lands just south of the Lutheran Church. In March of that year he had a public auction of lots and succeeded in selling eighteen, each of which contained thirty-one perches [square rod = 16.5 ft. x 16.5 ft.]. But three house were built upon them, as follows: One by a tailor named John Smith, another by George Folk, and the third by Isaac Frantz. A right-of-way was reserved to Buffalo Creek for the residents and a public road provided, but with the death of Myers also died the dream of a great city to be located there."...and the David Christ house is the only remaining evidence. At a much later date, David Christ gave a strip of land (a portion of "Little Vienna") to the contrition [of St. John's Church} for addition to the cemetery." - Markelsville Cemetery hand-written account.

THE HUMBLE HOME

It was on a tract of land west of present Markelsville that these folks [Bealor] from Brecknock township, Berks County build for themselves a humble home.  In a few years one of their children died and, because of there being no public burying place in the neighborhood, they buried the child on their own land.  The weatherworn gravestone bears the following German inscription:  “Hier ruhen die gebeine von Sara Bealor, tochter von M. Bealor-starb 6ten August, 1810.  Alter 8 Jahr, 8 Monat, und 26 tage.”
Let the image speak for itself!  I was given a copy of this in 1996 and is a perfect condition: why retyoe it? There's a lot of history buried in this script. .  . read carefully.
What good handwriting they had back in those days!

St. John's Church

"In the beginning of the present century [1800s] a number of Lutheran families settled in Juniata Township, as the Beistleins, Smiths, Lenigs, Swartzs, Crists, Burrels, and others.  Most of these attended preaching at Bloomfield, and some few at Loysville, the distance of six to twelve miles.  After the erection of St. Andrew's (Shuman's) Church in 1831, most of them worshipped there, and the rest at Bloomfield.  All however were deeply impressed with the urgent necessity of having the Gospel preached in their midst.  Hence, in 1839, Rev. John William Heim, commenced to preach for them occasionally in the school-house on the hill near Bosserman's mill, now near Markelville.  At the same time a Sunday-school was also started and held at this school-house.  These visits of Father Heim convinced the members more than ever of the necessity and advantage of having among them the stated ministrations of the Gospel and of a suitable house of worship.  The attendance at the school-house was very encouraging.  Measures were then taken to erect, as soon as practicable, a house of worship conjointly with a sister denomination.
 
By the next year, congregations must have organized. The early records of both became lost or destroyed. On Aug. 7, 1840. a deed was given, by Mark Boehler (Bealor) and wife, to Philip Myers, Samuel Lupfer and William Bosserman, for two and one-half perches [over 1/2 acre] for the consideration of one dollar.  Lupfer and Bosserman were "Trustees of a religious society, ...composed of Lutherans and Presbyterians, united now, about erecting themselves into a congregation".2
They erected a union church the same year. This church was sometimes known as Bealor's Church. The corner stone was laid in October 1840, and en edifice was erected. It was a log building 30x35 feet in size, had high galleries on three sides, supported by heavy posts and crossbeams, a high pulpit and high seats.
 
Rev. Heim composed a church constitution in the German language. In it he wrote: "Our church, called -------, erected on the ground given for the purpose by Marcus Bealor, containing eighty-two rods, situate in Juniata Township, Perry County, and State of Pennsylvania, is and shall always remain a Union church for the use of the two religious denominations, namely, the Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed, and so it shall continue until by mutual agreement the one denomination purchase the right of the other.  And in this church no other doctrine shall be preached and taught than that of the Evangelical Lutheran and Evangelical Reformed Churches according to the Bible and the Augsburg Confession.  One denomination shall not interfere in the divine worship of the other,..."1
The church was dedicated in April, 1841, and called St. John's Church.  Rev. Heim and Rev. Ernst were present and preached on the occasion. The Sunday-school was now removed to the church.1

Rev. Heim preached here once every four weeks, exclusively in the German language.  The members scattered throughout Juniata Township were collected and much encouraged by having a church and regular preaching in their midst.  The Sunday-school was encouraged and flourished. until his death in December 1849. In 1849, the church was rough cast outside and plastered inside, and other improvements were made.Rev. Father Heim fell asleep in Jesus on the 27th of December, 1849, having organized and served the congregation as pastor about ten years.

St. John's Evangelican Lutheran Church

Now the Lutherans and German Presbyterians continued to have differences of opinion through the years. The Lutherans broke away from St. John's and started their own church. In 1882 the brick church, across the road from St. John's, was built.  The keystone over the door reads "St. John's Evangelican Lutheran Church 1882".
The Lutheran church closed its doors in the summer of 1970. Apparently the dissension between the two congregations continued through the years. I can't believe that the congregation of the original St. John's Church appreciating another St. John's church in their village!
In 1970 a retired, New England, United Church of Christ minister was looking for an old church to renovate as their retirement home. Thus Rev. Paul Strauch and his wife, Melva, moved to Markelsville! They converted the front part of the church to living quarters, keeping the back original. The Strauchs remained there for thirty years and became very active in St. John's United Church of Christ as well as Perry County
In the early 1800s a number of Lutheran families settled in Juniata Township.  Most of these attended preaching at Bloomfield, and some few at Loysville. Many from Markelville attended the Middle Ridge Presbyterian Church. In 1839, Rev. John William Heim, commenced to preach for them occasionally in the school-house on the hill near Markelville.  At the same time a Sunday-school was also started and held at this school-house.  These visits of Father Heim convinced the members more than ever of the necessity and advantage of having among them the stated ministrations of the Gospel and of a suitable house of worship.  The attendance at the school-house was very encouraging.  Measures were then taken to erect, as soon as practicable, a house of worship conjointly with a sister denomination. As a result, The St. John 's Union Church, sometimes known as Bealor's Church. The congregation consisted of Lutherans and German Presbyterians. Right from the start there was dissension about the high galleries in the church. There was dissension about preaching in German or English.
 
 

Markelville Academy

In the spring of 1855 Reverend Adam R. Height started an academy at Bosserman's Mills (Markelsville) where he was the principal. It was held in the same schoolhouse that was first begun in 1828 as the Washington Seminary. This seminary would in later years be known as the Schoolhouse on the Hill when it would be used for public education. The Washington Seminary might have been originally a female seminary or a normal school for training teachers. At the time of its establishment it was probably the only institution of its kind in the country. The duration of the school must have been very short. There is no early history of the school or records of who might have taught there. During the tenure of Adam Height he served also as the first Superintendent of Schools in Perry County beginning in 1854 to 1857, and was the Ministr of the Bloomfield Lutheran Charge in 1854. The school in the 1850s became known as the Buffalo Creek High School, and then as the Buffalo Creek High School and Perry County Normal Institute.
The following describes some of the circumstances of the school as written by Reverend A. R. Height in 1856.
 
"Owing to our other duties as County Superintendent this school was discontinued during the winter. The public is hereby informed that the Buffalo Creek High School will again be opened at the same place, on the first day of April net when the district school will be closed. Mr. George Markle, that energetic friend of education is making preparations to accommodate a large number of students and his lind lady will spare no pains in administering to the wants of young ladies and gentlemen. They do not aim to make money. Lodging and board is $1.50 a week. Bosserman's Mills is a location for such a school. Frequent lectures will be delivered by persons from a distance. We recommend this school to young people of both sexes and think it will be greatly to their advantage, if they give it their preference. Persons wishing to attend this school will please address Mr. George Markle Jr. at Bosserman's Mills at as early a date as possible, or the subscriber in Bloomfield."
 
In 1857 the academy was moved out of the Schoolhouse on the Hill and into  a new building as shown by the following accounts:  "Mr. George Markle Jr. is now erecting a commodious building for the double purpose of a schoolroom and boarding house, with direct stage route from Newport to Ickesburg." It was also stated that, "There was no temptation to immorality and no liquor sold for miles around." The name of the school was changed at this time to the Normal Institute of Marklesville and then afterwars became known as just the Marklesville Institute.
 
Another advertisement for the school stated: "Normal Institute of Marklesville, formerly known as Buffalo Creek High School is in the new building. Tri-weekly stage, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from Newport on the Central Railroad." [At this time there was railroad service between Harrisburg and Lewistown. One could take the railroad to Newport, then the stage from Newprt to Marklesville].
In 1857 George S. Rea became the principal. (He would later own the Bloomfield Academy in the early 1860s) The new building was located somewhat east of the Schoolhouse on the Hill on the opposite or north side of the road (Route 849). This building was a three-and-a-half story frame structure with stuccoed exterior and fifteen rooms for students. The basement was on the ground level in the back and used for classrooms. The second floor had five rooms and the third had ten rooms. The building could have accommodated as many as fifty pupils, who boarded at the school, with others taking room and board at neighboring houses. 
 
In 1859 the Superintendent of Schools reported that the Markleville Academy furnished about fifteen or twenty teachers every year. In 1860 the school was attended by 112 boarding and day students. By the end of 1864, however, there was a substantial drop in enrollment resulting from the Civil War. George W. Lesher was principal at this time with a salary of $250 for the term, with an additional instructor. The enrollment had diminished to forty-nine pupils whose avergae age was seven-teen. Twenty-nine pupils were males and twenty females. Twenty-two were preparing to teach; twenty-three were boarding students and twenty-six were day students.  The library contained fifty volumes, and the avergae amount expended for books by the students was ten dollars a year. The cost of tuition was eighteen dollars for the term, and room and board $1.80 per week. Revenue from tutition was $25-; expenditure for servants, fuel and printing six dollars. Valuation of the building and grounds amounted to $1800.
 
The year 1864 saw the death of George Markle and it was not known if the school could continue as it had before. Professor C. W. Super attempted to revive the school in 1866 when he was principal for a term. Alexander Stephens and Adam Zellers followd him before the school finally closed in 1872.
 
 
The principals of the Marklesville Institute were as follows: Reverend A. R. Height, 1845 to 1857; Professor George S. Rea, 1857 to 1861; Professor George W. Lesher, 1862 to 1865; Professor C. W. Super, 1866; Professor ALexander Stephens, 1867 and Professor Adam Zellers, 1868 to 1872. The building erected for the Marklesville Academy or Marklesville Institute in 1857 is now a private dwelling.  Just recently the house has been purchased and the couple are in the process of revenerating.

Markelville Schoolhouse

“The Markelville Country Schoolhouse is located on a hill in the small village about five miles from Newport. It was begun a hundred years ago [ca 1830].
The school is a small, red brick building with a tin roof. There is a large bell on the roof, but when it was used in later years the rope broke and the teacher used a hand bell to call the children. Inside there were shelves for lunchboxes and nails on the side of the wall on which to hang coats. An old potbelly stove was in the middle of the room. There was a piano and a movable closet for storage of books, pencils, paper, teacher's desk was in the middle of the room, and a blackboard was behind the teacher's desk. The school seated about thirty pupils. There was an attic in which they stored desks and other things. They reached it by climbing on a desk and going through a hatch in the ceiling. This hatch was near the back of the room in front of the door. The door lead to a closed-in wind-breaker -porch. There was no well on the property so either the teacher or an older boy would go across the road to a neighbor's house and get water out of a pump. The neighbor's house being the Markelsville Academy.
Some of the teachers that used to teach there were: Bertha Stambaugh, T. W. Tresseler, Anetta Hench, L. D. Stambaugh, W. H. Long, Carrie Fosselman, Mossalene Baker, Mrs. Horace Troutman, Mrs. Tamar CXlouser, Lester Turnbaugh, Lester Sheaffer, Clarence Flickinger, and the last teacher was Graffius Sheaffer.
The school was closed on February 29th, 1956. On July 1956, a sale was held, and Ivan Rice, a nearby resident, bought the school. Many others things such as books, bookcases, and desks were purchased from the school." - A Sesquicential Commemorative Book for Newport, Pennsylvania 1840-1990