Newton Enterprise - January 9, 1885


Mr. Editor: While the 1884th Christmas was passing away, and the people of this township were enjoying it merrily and while the rainy and sleety weather continued, and the 1885th year was drawing near, your correspondent thought he would pass away his leisure hours in writing a few historical facts for your paper that might be of some interest to many readers of the same, relating to that portion of county now known as Jacob's Fork township that was created and established since the late war.

The township is bound on the south by the Lincoln county line, on the west by Bandy's township, on the north and east by Jacob's Fork River, and Newton township line and by Clark's Creek. The township lies on both sides of the South Fork river and embraces all that rich counry know as the South Fork valley. It was the first portion of country settled by the early hardy Dutch Pennsylvanians between the years 1760 and 1770, who were a peaceful and industrious people and dwelt together in harmony and mutual friendship. And the German language was their language until about forty years ago when your correspondent was yet quite a small boy. Since then the English language has come in its place. They were German Reforms and Lutherans and built a Union Church and worshipped God together in the same house. And so have things contined until this good day, without a jar or discord.

Since Catawba County has been established, there has not one lawsuit gone up to the court house to grace the court dockets from any of the descendants of these hardy old German Pennsylvanians. We do not think that there is a pauper in this township receiving aid from the county at present.

Some portions of this township have become somewhat noted by their situation and by name for instance: Longtown, Yodertown, Shakerag (as it has been called), Slabtown, Keeverton and Sroncetown.

The location of Longtown is situated on the Lincolnton and Morganton road, leading by Bost's school house or Early Grove Academy where Prof. C. M. Yoder now is instructing the youth of that neighborhood in the rudiments of education and preparing them for future usefulness and society. The founder of this town was John Cline (a son of Stuffle Cline and brother to Hootsler Belsar) about 80 years of age. He had married a granddaughter of John Shuford, the father of the Shuford family in this country. Its present Mayor, or Chief Justice has been known for a long time nearly everywhere as Black John W. He says the election of Cleveland to the high office of President of these United States has effected a tremendous and powerful change in his color and thinks by the time Cleveland takes his seat on the fourth day of next March that he will entirely appear a new man, will shed off white skin, like a locust or black snake in the spring of the year and become a purified white man. When this government shall pass from under black Republican rule into the hands of a white man's government, then he says he don't want his fellow citizens no more to call him Black John, but Mr. John W. or Esquire John W. and he hopes that his friends will heed this earnest request of his.

Now we will take up Yodertown. The founder of this town was Conrad Yoder in 1760 and had married a Miss Cline and aunt to John Cline, the founder of Longtown. Shakerag, as it has been called, is one its suburbs, and has one store and three jug factories, and these two also have a school house or academy where Prof. D. W. Whitener now also in engaged in instructing the youths in the rudiments of education.

Next in Slabtown, the founder of this town was Ben Friddle, the reason it received the name of Slabtown was that this man Friddle planted his posts in the ground and then weatherboarded it with slabs. It also has an Academy and a young man by the name of Hix of Happy Home is there engaged in teaching the children. Wesley Chapel is nearly located in the center of this town and is known far and wide.

Now in turn comes Keevertown or Keeversville. This town is located on the Shelby road leading from Newton to Shelby. It contains about sixty inhabitants. Its founder was James Keever, about 30 years ago. It has one store and a drug store, one jug facytory, post office and a church. It is here where Dr. A. P. Keever is located and is ready at a moments call to visit the sick, and attend to their suffering wants. Also the Methodist parsonage is located here.

Next comes Sroncetown. This town was located some 75 years ago by old Charley Sronce, as he is know far and wide, and is still living and seeing his town built up by his descendants, he is now enjoying his 94th Christmas. This town has also a school house or academy, with W. S. Jarrett occupying the professor's chair and instructing children in the way they should go and when they will get old, they will not depart from it.

In these rambling historical accounts of this township, I must not forget to say something about that well known place, Startown, as a portion of its suburb lies in this township. This town is noted as the location of Coulter, Herman & Co.s cotton gin. It has a post office, a store, wagon and black smith shop and two churches, a Methodist and Baptist.

The mayor or chief justice of Jugtown is the only blacksmith and his shop is nearly located in the center of this town and does a great deal of work. Killian 's apple nursery is also located near this town to the south west, about a mile and a half from the chief justice's shop. Many years ago there was built a grist mill near the mouth of the Sampson Hahn branch, but nothing now remains but the mud silts. It was not far from this place that Indians got after Henry Widener and a Mr. Warlick while they were exploring the county, and they made their horse run and Indians came after them with their ponies, and Warlick's horse mired down and they got Warlick and killed him, but Widener escaped.

The place now known as Wilson's school house once was the scene of blood by one John Wilson killing a Mr. Wise during the Revolutionary War, which is in the borders of this township. John Harvey Robinson, who was killed in a horse race near where George Thomason now lives, was a resident of this township and lived not far from the place where P. W. Whitener now lives.

John Yoder was the first white child born on Jacob's Fork river in 1764. The largest walnut tree now standing in Catawba county in this township is on the farm of James E. Wilfong at a circumference of about 22 feet amd 20 feet to the first limb. More Anon.

X. Y. Z. ( Col. George M. Yoder)

This delightful item is through the courtesy of Ann W. McAllister from her book of wonderful transcriptions: THE NEWTON ENTERPRISE 1881-1888.
She may be reached at awmcallister(at)

Thanks so much, Anne!

Derick S. Hartshorn - 2008-present
Last Modified: