Hepburn History

Hepburn Township was organized in 1804 out of a territory set off from Loyalsock. It was named to honor William Hepburn, an ex-State Senator and judicial administrator. It embraced the territory, now found in the Township of Lewis, east of Lycoming Creek, and a portion of Cascade and Eldred Townships.

Among the first settlers on the Lycoming Creek was John Thompson (1784) who opened a hotel a mile below Cogan Station. Samuel Reed built the first house in Hepburnville in 1800, which stood until 1874. It was the only house between Newberry and Trout Run. He was also the first teacher in the township.

In the early 1800’s William Ball settled in the area now called Ball’s Mills. William built a fulling mill, clover mill, woolen factory, and a sawmill. His son Samuel built a grain cradle factory in 1867.

During this same period, a tract of land in Loyalsock Township, called Hopewell, was obtained in 1792 by James Willits. It contained 422 acres. In 1804 Wendle Harmon arrived in this country from Germany and purchased the land from Willits for the purpose of founding a colony for his countrymen. By 1812, a small community of German colonists was developed known as Blooming Grove. The colonists were families named Heim, Ulmer, Bertsch, Staiger, Scheel, Waltz and Kiess. The best land cost $1.50 per acre, and the second grade, $1.00.

In religious belief, the colonists were Dunkards. In Germany the belief was prohibited and they were compelled to worship in secret. They, therefore, sought the land of freedom where they could worship God according to the dictates of their conscience.

When the purchase was affected in 1805, the colonists at once went to work building log cabins and clearing timber for farming. The name “Blooming Grove” originated: When the colonists had cleared their land and planted crops everything “bloomed” like a flower, and in the exuberance of their joy they called the place Blooming Grove!

In 1840 Reverend Konrad A. Fleischman made his appearance in Blooming Grove. Dr. Fleischman had been converted in Germany nine years before and came to America vas the first Baptist missionary among his countrymen. The Dunkards of Blooming Grove gave him the privilege of using their church, and he labored zealously among the people. In 1841 he baptized twenty-nine converts in Blooming Grove. These baptisms marked the beginning of an important religious epoch—the founding of the first organized German Baptist Church in America.