North and South Middleton Townships received a charter of incorporation in 1810 dividing what was originally Middleton Township.1 This area in the twenty-first century is composed of residential and commercial interests and a few farms.
The township of Middlesex lies along the northerly half of the west side of the Stony (“Stoney”) Ridge, a geological trap dike (older than the North or South mountains) which formed the original boundary between the west and east divisions of Pennsborough Township (established in 1735) as early as 1740.1 It lies within the section of West Pennsborough set up as Middleton Township in 1750 and divided into North and South Middleton in 1810. Middlesex Township was created from eastern North Middleton by court order on November 25, 1859.2 “Middlesex” was the name selected by Col. Robert Callender for his tract of 459 acres and 60 perches, patented March 20, 1773, on a warrant he had taken out March 8, 1768, located at the confluence of the Letort Spring with the Conodoguinet Creek.3
This township is traversed not only by the Conodoguinet Creek but by the Raystown Indian Path’s east section,4 U.S. Route 11 (on the “Great Road,” opened in 1744), Interstate 81, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and the old Cumberland Valley Railroad line now operated by Norfolk Southern. The creek confluence is situated, and all of these routes except the railroad intersect, at the village of Middlesex, where the Callender estate was centered, and has become a large nexus of transporting activity and warehousing, encroaching on the surrounding farmland which supported the local economy in the first two centuries after settlement. The mid-20th-century term “Miracle Mile” describes the businesses (motels, truck stops, restaurants, and a variety of other shops) lining the stretch of U.S. 11 connecting I-81 and the Turnpike. Other communities in the township are Carlisle Springs, Drytown, and the north half of Hickorytown. On the 1872 county atlas map of the township the east end of what is now named Ridge Drive, in the south end, is called “Springdale.”5
Local lore fills some of the historical gaps with a number of remembrances including the story of President Washington travelling west on Trindle Road in early October 1794 on his way to Carlisle to take charge of militia units assembled for quelling the Whiskey Rebellion. He was entertained at the home of Matthew Miller, today in South Middleton (and participated in a ball held in his honor in the second story of the house),6 came up South Middlesex Road, was met by the governors of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey at “Washington Point,” where Old Stone House Road North intersects,7 and went north to Middlesex, where he was hosted by Col. Ephraim Blaine before proceeding into Carlisle.8 In the Civil War the Confederates passed along Trindle Road eastward toward Mechanicsburg but were supposedly briefly halted in a skirmish where Hickory Road intersects.9 A marker was erected on Carlisle Springs Road in 1928 at “the high water mark of the Confederacy,” the rebels’ northernmost reach.
The “Miracle Mile” area and U.S. 11 form a manmade geographical division reflected in township politics. The township “shed,” now accompanied by an official building, is located in the north end, reflecting the skew of population in that direction caused chiefly by the building of large mobile home parks. The voting place for the entire township, which has been solidly Republican for many years, was at Middlesex Elementary School, which is also along North Middlesex Road, for over 130 years. A second precinct was created in the south end in the 1990s, centered at the county agricultural extension building, and when the extension office moved in 2008 it was changed to the rear structure of the Hickorytown Methodist Church.
When Edward J. Stiles, Esq. married into the Duncan family in 180810 he acquired the old Duncan homestead in southwestern Middlesex, named “Claremont,” but moved to Philadelphia in the late 1820s, and the county acquired the country home from him for use as an asylum for the poor. Today it is the site of the Claremont Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center. 11 In the same section of the township is a portion of Carlisle Barracks, along with the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, established in 1999. The road past the County Home, originally Claremont Drive, was changed to Army Heritage Drive around 2007.
The population of the township in the 2010 U.S. census was 7,040.12