Rye Township celebrated its 250th Anniversary in 2016. Created in 1766, Rye Township is the third oldest Township in Perry County. Rye is actually older than Perry County, which was formed in 1820. The area associated with the “southeastern” quadrant of current day Perry County was known in 1766 as Tyrone Township, Cumberland County. At the January 1766 session of the Court of Cumberland County held in Carlisle, a petition was presented asking for the erection of a new township out of the lower end of Tyrone. Below is the order issued by the court on March 25, 1766:

“Upon petition of several of the inhabitants of Tyrone Township to this
Court, setting forth that Said Township is too large, it is adjudged and
ordered by said court, that from the North Mountain to the Tuskarora
Mountain by Mr. West’s, and from that Darlington’s and to Strack the
Tuskarora about William Noble’s be the line, and the name of the Lower
be called Rye Township.”

It is believed that Rye Township was so named for the fields of rye grown throughout the Township; and some say for the rye whiskey made from this grain. As created by the court, Rye Township included the area of itself, Penn Township, Wheatfield Township, Miller Township, Oliver Township, Juniata Township, Tuscarora Township and parts of Centre and Carroll Townships. It remained that way until 1793 when Juniata Township was created with its southern boundary at the top of Mahanoy Ridge, which automatically became the northern boundary of Rye Township. The present boundaries of Rye Township were set on the west in 1834 with the incorporation of Carroll Township, and in 1840 when Penn Township was created. The eastern boundary of the Township was established when Marysville Borough was incorporated from Rye in 1865. The southern boundary of the Township has never changed since it was first created.

The Historical Society of Perry County reprinted an article from the May 22, 1907 edition of the “Perry County Democrat,” where it states that the total inhabitants of Rye Township in 1766 were approximately 42 residents. Unlike today where the higher density of population is located to the eastern end of the Township near Marysville Borough, the earlier settlements began in the western end of the current day Rye Township with the first land warrant of 312 acres by Hartley Wormley in 1792 in the general vicinity of what is now known as the Village of Grier’s Point and Keystone.

The area that became Rye Township was a part of Penn’s woods with vast areas of wilderness inhabited by wolves and bears, deer, and yes, Indians. Many early settlers worked very hard to manually clear this land to build their homes and farms, raise their crops and survive the harsh conditions. When Rye Township was created by political subdivision in 1766, King George III was the King of Great Britain. The United States as we know it today did not exist. The thirteen colonies were formed with Pennsylvania being 12th. There was no U.S. flag as we know it today, no president, no electricity, no postage stamps, and no Star Spangled Banner being sung when Rye Township was created.

Haines History records that regular roads were laid out and built around 1800 by the early settlers on trails blazed by the Indians. The first dirt roads were muddy, full of ruts, which made travel difficult, especially after a spring thunderstorm. Other items of early development noted were:

  • 1797 Christian Ensminger built a sawmill between Fishing Creek and Pine Hill Road
  • 1800 The first log schoolhouse with dirt floors was built in the Village of Keystone.
  • 1825-1846 Dr. Frederick Klineyoung opened his practice near the Village of Keystone.
  • 1838-1840 First church near Deans Gap, which is off Mountain Road
  • 1838-1840 Salem & Bethel congregations met at Sitterly’s cemetery.
  • 1846 Bethel Church was founded at Grier’s Point.
  • 1856 Salem Church was built.
  • 1856 Glenvale Church of God was founded, meeting first in a blacksmith’s shop and grist mill. The first church building was constructed along New Valley Road in 1882 costing $1,800.
  • 1865 Marysville Borough, then knowns as “Haley”, was incorporated out of Rye Township. Population centers shifted with the arrival of the railroad along the Susquehanna River.
  • 1866 C. Barshinger established a general store which was managed by E. L. Bell in the area of Grier’s Point.
  • 1880’s Establishment of a post office in the Grier’s Point area

Rye Township has come a long way in 250 years. The year 2016, was a time to celebrate this special milestone, to reflect and give thanks for those who have gone before us. It is a time to remember our history so we can better appreciate all that Rye Township is today and gain a vision for what we can become in the future. Let’s work together so that Rye Township will continue to grow and prosper well into the 21st century.