The early settlement of Exchange
MUNCY – Mary Hickey Brouse was inspired to compile historic information about the village of Exchange which became her home after she became employed as a parole officer at the Muncy Prison. Now retired as a supervisor, she has devoted some time into doing research about the homes that exist in the small quaint village known as Exchange.
In 1956 Johhny Dennan who was a teacher at Muncy High School and also an ancestor to an early settler of Exchange contributed much of the information. He and other history teachers from Warrior Run and Danville School Districts assisted with the deed searches on every Exchange home 12 miles east of the the Chillisquaque Creek in Montour County.
James Brennan and Stephen Ellis from Ireland were co-founders and became the biggest landowners in the area. The family descendants had deeds from the 1880’s. At one time it was a thriving community.
The town got its name because it became a common crossroads for stagecoaches to stop as they traveled through during the 1840’s from Muncy to Danville. “Stage coaches would stop there over night and change their horses,” explained Brouse. A tannery was there which gave travelers a place to feed the horses and get “fresh horses.”
In 1874 Exchange had Union Safeguard Company to protect the horses, but it is now somebody’s barn according to Brouse. The building was also used as a school, a town hall and for religious gatherings.
There was a hotel, The Exchange Hotel, plus many small businesses that included a post office with an established mail route, a one room school house and a general store. Gristmills kept the industry going for the town.
The Grange organized in 1874 was the first in Montour County to hold dances and was frequently used by the community and boy scouts but was demolished in 2007. There was also a gristmill, 2 blacksmith’s shops, 3 working sawmills and a distillery.
In 1986 Dr. McHenry built a home and started a medical practice there. He invented a popular liniment for the skin that was used throughout the United States. His daugher, Birdie McHenry, was a lawyer and supposedly became one of the first practicing female attorneys in Pennsylvania.
A large home built in 1878 known as the Evergreen Home because it was named for its many planted evergreens was always a landmark but it was destroyed in the late 90’s.
The first bank in Montour County was in Exchange but in 1931 it was robbed of $1,165. The building still stands today in the center of town on the corner, but it is privately owned and used for storage.
One of two churches remain on the left side of town. St. James Catholic Church was torn down in the early 60’s. Brouse went on to explain that there was an Exchange Band but it closed in September 1952. In 1955 the school consolidated with Warrior Run School District.
Brouse said it took her two years to write the book and compile the research completing it in 2009. Two years ago she introduced the book to the history classes at Warrior Run School District. The book is also available in all of the local libraries and through the historical societies.