History of Union Township, Union County, PAUnion Township was divided out of Buffaloe (present Buffalo) Township at the September 1815 Session of the Union County Court in New Berlin. Its boundaries were decided by Andrew McLenachan, John Hayes, and Adam Wilt. Those boundaries are: on the east by the west branch of the Susquehanna River, the north by New Berlin Mountain (Shamokin Ridge), the west by Limestone Township and the south by the Snyder County Line. The first township supervisors were Soloman Kleckner, John Eirly and Jacob Hine.
The land that was to become Union Township was first settled by the Native Americans. Teepees, Campfires, Indian Dances, etc. covered the land. Then in the 1700s the settlers arrived.
The earliest known settler was Jacob Brylinger, who settled on the land two miles east of New Berlin which was to become the Maize farm. David Emerick settled at the site of Winfield in 1772. In 1778, John Macpherson settled south of Winfield along the river. In the valley to the west, John Lee, Johannes Oldt, and Abraham Eyerly cleared land which became the farmland of today and is now known as Dry Valley.
In 1797, Abraham Eyerly (later Eyer) bought 300 acres of land in the Winfield area from Robert Lee, son of John Lee. He moved there in the early 1800s, built the famous Eyer barn in 1805 followed by the Eyer home in 1813. Eyer died in 1823 and his 300 acres were sold to Rev. J. Nicholas. The barn was removed in 1962 to make room for Route 15, but the home is still standing.
Evangelicals held their conference in the Eyer Barn as early as 1816. It is said that many preachers stabled their horses there while preaching in the barn. Bishop Christian Newcomer of the United Brethren Church spent more than 30 years trying to unite his sect with the Evangelicals.
In 1841, Napoleon Hughes discovered iron ore along the Shamokin Ridge at Yankee Spring and later Miner’s Hollow. At first this iron ore was shipped to Danville or Glen Iron. It is written that Charles Reagan, as a boy in the mid 1880’s, saw four-mile long caravans of five-ton wagons heading to Glen Iron from the furnace which was just across the road from his home. John Youngman and Jesse M. Walter operated a mercantile and grain business near the mining of the iron ore and on the Mensch land in 1851.
Samuel Geddes, James Marsh, Elisha Marsh and Joseph Shriner of Lewisburg operated a foundry in Lewisburg. In 1853, they purchased 20 acres south of Turtle Creek and began the Union Furnace. Thomas Beaver of Danville, his brother Peter of Lewisburg and Charles E. Morris of Chester County joined up for added capital. The furnace was named Beaver, Geddes, Marsh and Company and opened early in 1854. The first tap was made October 30, 1854. Row houses were built for the employees along with a company store.
In 1856, Dr. Levi Rooke arrived from Chester County where he had attended Jefferson Medical College and became a doctor. After a few years in this profession, he decided being a medical doctor was not his calling in life, so he came to Union County and worked in the Berlin Iron Works located in Glen Iron. He soon became known in the industry for his knowledge of chemistry and was asked to work as the superintendent of the Union Iron Furnace along with Mr. Charles Morris. They needed to keep a close watch on the furnace, so a large two-family home was built for them by the company just across the road from the furnace. Limestone was needed to help with the furnace and soon Dr. Rooke started the Dry Valley Limestone Manufacturing Company, which was the beginning of our Winfield Quarry.
1870 and 1880 brought the logging industry to Union Township. In 1873, there were several million feet of logs on the Susquehanna River. No doubt most of these logs came from the White Deer Mountain. Piers were built to form log booms to guide and trap the logs as they moved down the river by Union Township. The booms forced the logs to the east side of Catbird Island and the boom to halt their progress was near the Kapp pier. These booms and piers were probably used for the iron ore also. If the water is low and clear enough, boom and pier remnants can still be seen on the river bottom today.
The Reading Railroad had a station at Winfield and was quite active in freight and passenger service. Farmers from the west end of the township would ship their grain and produce on the train and the businesses in the township would receive merchandise on the train. The schools in the township only taught through the eighth grade so for higher education, students would take the train to Sunbury and later to Lewisburg to attend high school. A narrow gauge railroad ran from Winfield to New Berlin and back, operating from 1905 to 1916.
Township social activities were centered around the three churches, the P.O.S. of A., and gatherings in each other’s homes. These included picnics, dinners and a Memorial Day Parade to the cemetery. Picnics and dinners continue at present, centering around the churches and the fire company.
The township today is mostly a bedroom community in the east with agriculture between the ridges. Much of our heritage still remains. For example, quarrying & highway construction which started as the Rooke Quarry & Limestone Company, remains as New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Farming is still prevalent in the western part of the township with many of the farms still owned by the original families.