|HALIFAX. This picturesque little town, of a population of 771 people, is most
beautifully situated on the Susquehanna river, at the mouth of Armstrong's creek,
seventeen miles north of Harrisburg. It owes it's name tot he frontier fort which was
erected at this place in June, 1756, and which was called Fort Halifax by order of
Governor Morris. The fort, which was erected by Colonel William Clapham, stood at the
mouth of Armstrong's creek, about half a mile above the present town. This site was chosen
by Colonel Clapham, just above the falls of the Juniata, as being the best location for a
magazine between Harris' Ferry and Shamokin (Sunbury), where Fort Augusta was situated,
and also on account of the natural advantages of the location. There was also plenty of
pine timber at hand, from which he had cut 200 logs, when he wrote to the Governor in
June, 1756. Colonel Clapham left Fort Halifax in the latter part of June to go to
Shamokin, leaving behind him a garrison of thirty men to cut logs, erect the barracks,
build a store-house and to guard the fort "to the last extremity." A history of
the fort is given in the Appendix volume to the First Series of the Archives of
Pennsylvania, pages 368-370, and also in Frontier Forts, Vol. I, pages 522-527
At the time when Fort Halifax was erected, there were very few settlers living in the
region, the Armstrong and Meetch families probably being the only occupants of the place
before 1755. The creek was named in honor of the first settler, and the site was first
called "Camp Armstrong" by Colonel Clapham, previous to its being named Fort
Halifax by Governor Morris. Armstrong had been at the place for several years before 1755,
as the place is called "Armstrong's" on the Evans map of 1755. It is not noted
on Evans' map of 1749. It is probable that the Armstrong, after whom the place was first
named, and which name perpetuated in that of the creek, was Alexander Armstrong, who was
an Indian trader at Shamokin as early as 1748. Armstrong probably had a cabin and a
trading-house at the mouth of the creek to catch the trade with he Indians, who crossed
the river from the trails on the western shore, as did Thomas McKee, after whom McKees
Half Falls are named, who had a trading house on the eastern shore on the path to
Shamokin. It is will that the names of these early occupants on the shores of the
Susquehanna are perpetuated, the one in the name of the creek, and the other in the name
of the falls.
The famous, or infamous, Simon Girty, who had been ousted from his lands west of the
mountains, probably lived at or near Halifax before he went westward to the Ohio.
"Girty's Notch" perpetuates his name of the western shore.
The Penns issued the first deed to a white man in this vicinity to Robert Armstrong, in
1755m the warrant having been made in 1764. The creek and and the station at Halifax may
have been named for this man, although the author is of the opinion that the first
Armstrong to live at this place was Alexander, as mentioned above. The name Halifax was
given in honor of the second Earl of Halifax, who as head of the British Board of Trade,
did so much at about the time of the erection of the fort, to establish trade with the
The town of Halifax was laid out by George Sheaffer and Peter Rise on July 18, 1784. It
seems rather strange to think that one of the early paying industries of this town was its
shad fisheries, to which, it is said sometimes from 50 to 60 wagons came to haul the fish
to markets during the shad season in the month of March, of in "Schawanammek",
the "month of shad", as the Delaware called it.
Halifax was incorporated as a borough on May 29, 1875, the first Burgess being Dr. H.
W. Bishop. The various banks and business institutions of the earlier history are
mentioned in previously published histories.
Genealogy Resource Center