Historical View of Clinton County, Pennsylvania by "D. S. Maynard"
Previous to the formation of Clinton county what is now Crawford township was included in Limestone township, Lycoming county, after which it was comprised in Wayne township till it was separately organized in 1841. as it is now bounded, about one third of Nippenose Valley lies within its limits, the other portion being in Lycoming county.
As the history of the township under consideration is inseparably connected with the history of that beautiful valley, general view of it will be in place. The following is the description given by Meginness in 1857:
A few miles south of Jersey Shore is a very peculiar valley called Nippenose. It is an oval basin surrounded by a chain of high mountains containing about 13,000 acres. The land is good and produces heavy crops of wheat. Limestone abounds in great quantities, and the valley underneath is evidently filled with fissures and caverns to a great extent. The name is corrupted from the old Indian called Nippenucy, who had his wigwam there, and in the bottom of the same name, where he lived and hunted alternately. This is the true origin of the present title.
The first improvement was made in 1776, by John Clark, on the farm now owned by David Shaw. He was driven off with his family during the war, but returned in 1784.
John and William Winlin lived in the valley in 1790. They commenced to sink a well, and after digging some distance came to a flat rock that resisted all further progress. One of the workman commenced striking upon it with a sledge, when a hole broke through, and there appeared to be a large cavern underneath. A plummet thirty feet in length was let down without finding bottom. They became alarmed and filled it up again.
The valley is very thickly populated, and contains several villages and hamlets, with stores, hotels, churches, mills, &c.
Most of the streams running down from the mountains sink and disappear under the valley. There appears to be only one place of outlet, called Antis creek through the gap of the same name. It is a small stream abundantly filled with trout, notwithstanding they are constantly fished for, and great numbers caught, yet the supply seems inexhaustible. It is supposed they multiply in great numbers under the valley, and come forth in the creek. The theory, it must be admitted, looks plausible.
About one third of the territory of the northern part of Crawford township is included in Nippenose Valley; the remaining portion of the township is mostly unimproved and unsettled. However, there are several families living upon well cultivated farms in the southeastern corner, where the land, though lying high, is well adapted to agricultural purposes.
There are public roads leading out of the valley to Jersey Shore through Antis Gap, to Pine Station through Loves Gap, and to Sugar Valley.
The principal timber of the mountain portion of the township is pine, oak, chestnut, &c. The valley is almost entirely cleared, except an occasional small tract that has been reserved for ordinary home uses.
The entire Nippenose Valley appears to be underlaid with limestone, as mentioned by Meginness. What is pronounced by competent judges to be a fine quality of black marble, has been found in large quantities on the farm of Daniel Shadle. Indications of coal exist in various places along the base of the mountain which surrounds the valley.
Very few authentic records relating to the early history of this township are obtainable; but it is well known that among the first settlers were a number of individuals who figured conspicuously as great Indian hunters. One of them, Peter Pence, settled upon the farm now owned by Thomas Gheen, who is a grand son of Pence. Of this once noted character Meginness says:
There was another remarkable hunter and Indian killer in this valley, named Peter Pence, of whom many wonderful stories are related. He is described by those who remember him as being a savage looking customer, and always went armed with his rifle, tomahawk, and knife, years after peace was made.
The accounts of his adventures with the Indians being in such a vague and unsatisfactory form, I have concluded to omit them altogether rather than detail them incorrectly. I much regret this, since it made some effort to get a correct sketch of them. It is said that an account of his life was published some thirty years ago, and is remembered by some, but the most careful research has failed to develop it.
Nathan Gheen, who came from Chester county, was also one of the early settlers. He occupied a farm now owned by Mr. Leonard, of Williamsport. About the year 1815, Charles McElhaney settled on lands now owned by Daniel Shadle; Wm. Shaw located on the tract now owned by George and Jesse Gheen. The farm on which George Gheen lives was first settled by a man named Fullerton. The Wm. McKeague farm was settled by John Stine, and Christian Showers first occupied the land now owned by Jesse Showers, his son. Michael Shadle came from Dauphin, at quite an early day and settled on land now owned by his son, Daniel Shadle. At one time Michael Shadle was collector for the township of Wayne, previous to the organization of Crawford, and for his services in traveling over the mountains and through the valleys to gather the taxes, his commission amounted to about seven dollars at the end of the year, having worn out ten dollars' worth of shoe-leather, as he claimed, in the discharge of his official duties.
Crawford township was erected by act of Assembly, January 14, 1841, and named in honor of the Hon. George Crawford, one of the first two associate judges of the county, and member of the legislature from the district of which Clinton formed a part. The first constable for the township was Jacob Stein.
Crawford is bounded on the south by Green, on the west and north by Wayne, and on the east by Lycoming county.
According to the census of 1870, the township had a population of four hundred.
There is but one church in the township. It is located near the property owned by Mr. John Getgen. It was built by the Evangelical denomination. At present there are four school houses in the township, and they are not in the best condition.
The only village in Crawford township is Rauchtown, located near Rauch's Gap. This place was started about the year 1850, by Peter Rauch, who previously came from Union county, and purchased a tract of over two hundred acres, including a mill property, the building being of logs. Afterwards the mill became the property of his son, Tillman Rauch, who built a new mill on the site of the old one. It finally passed into the hands of D. H. Shale & Co.
Although the name of the village is Rauchtown, the post office is called Rauch's Gap. The name, as is evident, was given in honor of the founder of the place. The first store was started about 1860, by George Rauch; the next was started in 1870, by Gheer & Burrows; it is now owned by Jesse Bowers.
There are now two wagon shops, three blacksmith shops, two shoe shops, one hotel, and about thirty dwellings in the place. The hotel was first opened to the public in 1873, by John Metzger. Peter Irwin is at present Justice of the Peace, and George Rauch, post-master. There is one school house at Rauchtown, in which religious services are occasionally held by various denominations.