For those residents of Washington Township, Indiana County, they are familiar with the town of Willet, originally known as Marlin’s Mills. Washington Township was formed in 1807 from a portion of Armstrong Township, just four years after the formation of Indiana County in 1803. The Township was named in honor of General George Washington, under whom many of the first settlers in the area served during the Revolutionary War.
The name Marlin’s Mills came from the first settler on the tract of land, the Marlin family. Jesse Marlin built a sawmill in the town in 1832 and a gristmill in 1834. The grist mill stood along Plum Creek. The gristmill had one run of country stone and another of burrs, measuring 30 by 32 feet, it had two stories and a basement and used a “rye fly” wheel. A second mill was erected on the site in 1871, which measured 32 by 38 feet, but built in the same manner as the original mill, except this mill used a reaction wheel instead.
Jesse Marlin was born in 1804, the son of Joshua Marlin. Joshua Marlin bought a 305-acre tract of land in 1785 and was the first settler in the area. It is said that when Mr. Marlin first came to the area of Willet, there were Indian bark huts along Plum Creek.
The post office in Willet was establish on December 28, 1853 with Jesse Marlin serving as postmaster; the office closed on February 28, 1906.
In 1890, a productive filed of natural gas was discovered and the gas was piped to Indiana from this field.
Marlin’s Mill had good farm land and a good supply of water coming from the South Branch of Plum Creek. The mill also helped as people settled in the area. As the town grew, so did the business which included: farmers; millers, dealing in flour, grain, and feed; there were merchants, and general store, and Justice of the Peace. There was also a wagon and carriage manufacturer along with a blacksmith.
The town boasts two churches: Harmony Grove Lutheran, established in 1861, and Plum Creek Presbyterian, which has graves in its cemetery dating back to 1832.