April has been designated at Montour County History Month by the Montour Co. Commissioners. To commemorate, the Montour Co Historical Society will have articles and photographs thru the years about Montour Co. We hope as you read the articles, look at the photographs you learn about the heritage and history of our home, Montour County.
The best place to start, the history of Montour County.
In 1772, Northumberland County comprised what we how know as Northumberland, Columbia and Montour Counties. As the Susquehanna Valley began to fill up with settlers a demand arose for the erection of additional counties. Columbia and Montour Counties were taken from Northumberland County and organized as a new county on March 15, 1813. This new county also included the town of Milton and the townships of Turbot and Chillisquaque. Danville was most centrally located and made the county seat. The erection of the court house was begun in April 1815 and completed in 1816. The total cost of the building was $3,980.00. No sooner was the construction started on Montour Co.ís courthouse when the legislature returned Milton and the townships of Limestone, Liberty, Turbot and Chillisquaque to Northumberland County. The leaders in Bloomsburg regarded this dishonest, a trick in order to secure Danville as the County seat. This started a contest to remove the county seat to Bloomsburg that lasted 30 years. On February 24, 1845 an act was passed to move the county seat of Columbia Co. to Bloomsburg. Public buildings were built in Bloomsburg and in November of 1847 the records were moved there. The first court was held in January 1848.
The people of Danville and the citizens in the lower part of the county were not happy having to travel all the way to Bloomsburg to do business in that courthouse; they demanded a division of the county. In 1848, Valentine Best, publisher and editor of the Danville Intelligencer newspaper was elected State Senator comprising of Columbia and Luzerne counties. He introduced a bill creating Montour County and on May 3, 1850 Gov. Johnston signed the bill erecting the County of Montour and making Danville the county seat. The new county was given the name Montour for Montour Ridge, the rich, iron-laden range that stretched across the county. The mountains were either named for Madame Montour or her son Andrew Henry Montour; both were helpful to the settlers as an interpreter and liaison with the Indians of the area.
The present courthouse was built in 1871. It stands on the same grounds as the first court house. The total cost of ground and building was $55,000. The first floor was and still is occupied by the offices of the Country Commissioners, the treasurer, prothonotary and recorder. The second floor is devoted to the main courtroom. Renovations through the years included removal of a staircase adding additional offices and an elevator.
The first 100 years brought controversy and uncertainty to the area we now know as Montour County. The next 100 years brought Montour County to the top of the Iron Manufacturing center. Since then, Montour County, the smallest county in Pennsylvania, has become an independent and distinctive entity of its own, famous for rolling the first T-rail in the Montour Iron Works, the Geisinger Medical Center and Merck & Co. Montour Co. is also know for itís prominent citizens such as Christopher Sholes, Joseph Parry and Thomas Beaver.
The Montour Co Historical Societyís mission is to preserve local history, and to continue the collection of local historical artifacts. The Montgomery House is open Memorial Day through October on Sundays 2pm to 4pm and by appointment by calling 570-275-0383 or 570-275-
7875. The Mooresburg Schoolhouse is open for the day the first Sunday in October and by appointment by calling 570-275-3690. We invite you to join this growing organization that is dedicated to preserve our past. Membership to the MCHS is yearly with a fee of $15 individual, $25 family (living under one roof) and $300 life time. Newsletters are sent out quarterly. Send your membership dues to MCHS, PO Box 8, Danville, PA 17821
Sources: Commonwealth Magazine, April 1950
History of Montour County, Fred W. Diehl 1969
Danville, Past & Present, Historical & Biographical Sketches, D.H.B. Brower, 1881