Haines Twp, Centre County, PA

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Aaronsburg is located on Route 45 (Aaron Square Rd) about a mile east of Milheim Borough.

Beginnings [1]

Aaronsburg was laid out upon the Alexander Grant Warrant by Aaron Levy in October, 1786, and therefore bears the earliest date of any town in the county. In 1804 Levy conveyed all his interests in his large bodies of real estate in Centre County to Simon and Hyman Gratz, and after that ti tles were derived from the Gratzes. Its wide streets, its freshly painted white houses, tastefully ornamented with beautiful flowers, its churches, its school houses and Academy, are early glimpses of Aaronsburg that please the eye and impress the mind with admiration. In the month of June the scene from the mountain north of Aaronsburg is truly imposing, and as far as the eye can reach lies Penns Valley with its beautiful panorama in the distance.

The first house built in the town was by Frederick Henney, his initials and the date of building being cut in stone in the west gable end of the house. James Duncan was the first store keeper in 1790 and a postoffice was established in 1798, with Mr. Duncan appointed postmaster. He migrated on horse back from Northumberlhnd with a small stock of goods, arriving in Aaronsburg in the year of 1790. He was the first sheriff of Centre Co. October 28, 1800, he built Elk Mills, at Millheim (later Mussers), 1817, and rebuilt Spring Mills in 1822. He took John Forster into partnership and the firm of Duncan & Forster was known all through western Pennsylvania. Even after stores were established at Bellefonte and other places. people passed them by to deal with Duncan 8 Forster, on account of supe riority in quality, cheapness in price of their goods, and prolonged credit of a year, which they usually gave their distant customers.

Some of the early settlers of Aaronsburg were John Matthias Benck, who left many descendants in Centre County. Among the earliest tavern keepers of the town were Felix Crisman, Philip Callaghan and Philip Frank, whose hostelries were in full blast as early as 1801. Lyons Mussina, a native of Poland, started a store about the same time upon the spot later covered by Mussers store. Michael Bol linger came from York Co. and located in Aaronsburg in 1799, and engaged in the manufacture of chairs and spinning wheels; in 1809 he was elected sheriff of Centre Co., and in 1812 served as a member of the State Legislature. George Bright came from one of the lower counties previous to 1800 and lived in the dwelling later occupied by Mrs. Somers, which was built by John Stover. Michael McCool fol lowed the occupation of carpet weaving in a small house later occupied by George Bright and Benjamin Miller. Daniel Spyker, a hatter, was one of the early settlers; also John McPherson, Johannes Brown, a blacksmith, Philip DeWalt, a nailsmidth, Jacob Krebs. The first two physicians who practiced in Aarons burg were Dr. Klepper and Dr. Charles Coburn, 1805 to 1811. Dr. Klepper was the only physician and he was succeeded in 1811 by Dr. Coburn who was a prominent physician and identified with many large material interests in Penns Valley until his death in 1858. Jacob Stover, in 1814, was a tan ner; Michael Kurtz, 1813, a carpenter: Emanuel Ettinger, 1.820, was a dyer and weaver.

The Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church cornerstone was laid on May 1, 1794, and in the spring of 1802 had a membership of 137. In 1852 the old church edifice was torn down and a commodious brick structure erected in its stead at a cost of $5,400. -We are unable to give the date of the erection of the Aaronsburg Reformed Church as all the records of this church were burned with it, but, the present church was erected in 1842. In 1850 the Presbyterian manse was erected at Aaronsburg.

The first session of the Aaronsburg Academy was held in the fall of 1854 in an old schoolhouse in the northern part of Aaronsburg, which had been put up by subscription for school purposes under the old system. In 1858 a new building was erected by Thomas Yearick, who had control of the acad emy until near its close in 1868. The academy later become the property of the township and was used for the higher grades of the free schools. The academy at one time was in a flourishing condition, having enrolled some 30 to 70 students during its different sessions of the year, among whom were many of the common school teachers. In 1865 the academy was purchased by a stock company consisting of John H. Stover, William Stover, Dr. P. T. Musser and Emanuel Ettinger; but the enterprise was not successful and the building was finally sold to the township authorities for school purposes.

It was the vision of Aaron Levy, when he acquited the land on which Aaronsburg is located to make it the Capital City of the state instead of Harrisburg, but owing to its lack of water facilities and other advantages which the Capital City might require, Mt. Levy had to give up his dream, and consequently in 1804 he conveyed all his real estate interests in Centre County to the Gratz Bros.

What has always been regarded as one of the first school houses in Centre County, had its location on the turnpike about two miles east of Aaronsburg, which building was erected in the form of a double house, one room being reserved for the schoolmaster and his family, and in its day became quite famous as an institution of learning.

In 1802 some of the names found on the tax roll were: Jacob Albright, Obediah Allen, William Armstrong, George Bowers, John Brown, Philip Donner, James Duncan, David Fibs, George Frank, Philip Henney, Jacob Herring, Christian Horton, Michael Kirk, Michael Klapper, John Kreamer, Christian Kreps, John McPherson, John Mitchell, Peter Ox, William Sowerwine, David Storm, Henry Wise, John Young and Godfrey Zettlemeyer.

  1. Marks, William E., Biographical Survey, Centre County, 1941

Street Names
Aaron Square • Plum Street • Rachel Way

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