Native American Presence
Evidence exists of Native American presence in Millcreek Township as early as 3700 BC. The township's Sommerheim Park is the location of the Sommerheim Park Archaeological District, which has yielded archaeological artifacts from the Archaic and Woodland periods.1
One of the earliest townships in the Erie Triangle to be settled, Millcreek was one of the original 16 townships of Erie County. As families came they moved from the bayfront settlement of Erie they began to form small hamlets such as Federal Hill, Kearsarge, Marvintown, Weigelville, etc. all to become part of Mill Creek Township. As the Erie settlement grew, first into a borough, then a city, it annexed more and more sections of the township. However, it never surpassed Millcreek in total size.
According to Nelson's Biographical Dictionary (published in 1886) Erie County was officially formed by an act of the state on March 12, 1800. The original townships established include Millcreek (originally spelled Mill Creek).
After the east and west roads were laid out, taverns began to sprout about every mile or so. Along the Ridge Road (U.S. Route 20), which was laid west through Millcreek in 1805, one of the few that remains is the Nicholson Tavern. Built in 1836, mostly by Isabella Nicholson and her sons, it is still owned by the family and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A recurving sandspit peninsula, Presque Isle, connects to the mainland in western Millcreek. During the War of 1812, Oliver Hazard Perry commanded his fleet in battle and strategically used the peninsula's bay as a harbor to construct six out of nine of the ships in his fleet. In 1921 the peninsula was made a state park and was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service. Today the park is a bird sanctuary with over 150 different species identified here.
Just west of the entry into Presque Isle was a well-forested area known as Hopkins Grove. The Erie Electric Motor Company purchased the grove in 1896 for development into an amusement park. Today Waldameer is one of the oldest amusement parks in the nation.
- Johnson, William C. National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Sommerheim Park Archaeological District. National Park Service, 1981-06-29, p. 2.