Rye Township was created through a series of political subdivisions. Prior to 1766, the areas associated with the ‘southeastern’ quadrant of Perry County were know as Tyrone Township, Cumberland County, in 1766, a petition was presented asking for the erection of a new township out of the lower end of Tyrone. Upon due consideration the following order was issued by the court at the March term:
“Upon petition of several of the inhabitants of Tyrone Township to this court, setting forth that said township is too large, it is the adjudged and ordered by said court, that from the North mountain to the Tuskarora Mountain by Mt. 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”.
Rye Township, as created by the court, included the area of itself, Penn Township, Wheatfield Township, Miller Township, Oliver Township, Juniata Township, Tuscarora Township, and parts of Center and Carroll Townships. It remained that way until 1793, when Juniata Township was created with it’s southern boundary at the top of Mahanoy ridge, which automatically became the Northern boundary of Rye Township. The present boundaries of Rye Township were 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 was incorporated in 1865. The southern boundary has never changed since it was first created.
The first land warrant in what is now Rye Township was by Hartley Wormley whose land warranted 312 acres in 1792 in the general vicinity of what is now know as Grier’s Point and Keystone. As the population of Rye Township grew additional land warrants were obtained.
The first road was built by early settlers in 1800. Christian Ensminger took advantage of the vast natural resources of the township and built a sawmill between Fishing Creek and Pine Hill in 1797. The construction of the sawmill is recognized as the first industry in Rye Township. With the success of the Ensminger sawmill, Nicholas Wolf and his son-in-law, John Bowman built another sawmill along with a carding mill and a grist mill.
A general store was established in 1866 by C. Barshinger and operated under the proprietorship of E. L. Bell. Dr. Frederick Klineyoung was the first doctor to provide health services to the valley. His practice was located in Keystone where he provided health services from 1825 to 1846.
The first school was built of logs timbered from the Township and was in service by the end of 1800. The first church know as the United Brethren held services at Dean’s Gap between 1838 and 1840 until the church relocated to Marysville Borough. In 1846 the Bethel United Brethren Church was built at a cost of $800.00 and was served by the Marysville Circuit Church until 1907. Bethel and Salem congregations orginally held their meetings together known as the Bethel congregation. The Salem UMC church was built at the current site along SR 850 by the Evangelical Association in 1856.
Services of the Church of God denomination were first held in private homes and the orignal schoolhouse at Glenvale (then known as Oak Grove) beginning in 1856. Their first meetings were held in a local blacksmith shop and an old grist mill. Alexander Hartman, a local farmer and mill owner deeded a tract off his farm, where the church was built along present day New Valley Road in 1881-82 at a cost of $1,800. With all the changes throughout the years, the Salem United Methodist Church (formerly the United Brethren), the Bethel United Methodist and Glenvale Church of God still serve the Township today.
Since the Townships establishment in 1766, Rye Township has remained a rural, but growing township. Initial population centers occurred around such areas as Keystone and Grier’s Point. These population centers were close to early industry, such as grist mills and lumber mills. However with the transportation network improved and employment opportunities expanding in the Harrisburg area, Rye Township became a bedroom community.
With all of its growing needs, the current Township municipal building at 1775 New Valley Road was constructed in 1982-83 and dedicated in 1985 to better serve this community.
In 2003 an office and double garage were added and served as a police department until July 2010, when the Board disbanded the department permanently due to costs and the economy. This former police department garage/office addition located at the western end of the municipal building is now utilized as a meeting room area for the Board of Supervisors. A 30' X 72' three-sided equipment storage shed was added in the rear lot in 2008.
A thank you to all the past and present officials and volunteers who have given or are currently giving their time, to help make Rye Township a great place to live. Let’s work together so that Rye Township will continue to grow and prosper well into the 21st century.
RYE TOWNSHIP 1766-2016 HAPPY 250TH BIRTHDAY!