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The territory that is now embraced in the township of Franklin was originally part of the old Towamensing township and in 1841 became a part of Upper Towamensing or Towamensing. It so remained until 1850, when at the January term of the Carbon County Court a petition was presented asking for a division of the township. At the next term of court, held in April following, Thomas Kemerer, Thomas L. Foster, and A. B. Nimson were appointed commissioners to view the township, and if thought advisable to run division-lines and report thereon to the next court. The view was made, a line was run, and report made at the June term, but for some reason not mentioned in the minutes the report was set aside. On the 5th of October the same year (1850), the subject was again brought to the notice of the court, and an amendment was ordered. What action was taken is not stated, but under date of the 2d of January 1851, the following record occurs in the minutes: "The court confirm absolute and name the new township Franklin."
It is bounded on the north by the Pocono Mountain, which divides it from the township of Penn Forest, on the east by Towamensing, on the south by Lower Towamensing, and on the west by the Lehigh River. The Poho Poco Creek rises in Towamensing township, flows westwardly through Franklin, and at a point southeast from Weissport turns abruptly and runs nearly parallel with the river for some distance, and enters the Lehigh River at Parryville. The township is uneven, but is well adapted to agricultural pursuits.
About the middle of the last century a few families settled within the limits of this township, but all removed a few years later when the Indians exhibited their fierce enmity towards the whites along the border. Among them was the Hoeth family, who became the victims of a little war-party in December 1753. The house of Frederick Hoeth, which stood twelve miles east of the site of Weissport, was stealthily visited by five Indians while the family were at supper. They fired a volley through the door and window, killing Hoeth and wounding a woman. The other adult inmates rushed out and sought safety in flight and concealment. Mrs. Hoeth hid in the bake-house, to which the Indians immediately applied fire. Enduring the heat and smoke as long as she could, the unfortunate woman finally rushed out, and to relieve her agony leaped into the water. There she died, either from her burns or by drowning. The Indians had, in the mean time, set fire to the house and three children perished in the flames. A grown-up daughter was killed and scalped, and several others taken as captives into the Indian country to the northward. One Indian was killed and one wounded in the affray. The few remaining inhabitants of the region fled.
The earliest permanent settlers in the limits of what is now Franklin township were, without doubt, the Solt family, who settled on land part of which is now owned by Mrs. Maria Colton. Of this family John Solt was the father. In 1781 the names that appear on the assessment-roll are John Solt, Sr., David, Daniel, and John. John Jacob Solt lived on the farm now owned by Mrs. Maria Colton on Poho Poco Creek. He had sons,- Jacob, Conrad, Peter, and Daniel, and daughters, - Eve (Mrs. David Shafer), Susan (Mrs. Daniel Arner), Polly (Mrs. Conrad Solt), Betsey (Mrs. Jacob Swank), Maria (Mrs. Daniel Solt).
Jacob settled on part of the old homestead, and died in 1882 at the age of eighty-six years. He left two sons, - Isaiah and Reuben. They are both living in the township. Two daughters, - Sarah (Mrs. Franklin Klotz) and Elizabeth (Mrs John Hill) - both live in the township.
Conrad remained unmarried and died many years ago.
Peter lived on part of the homestead farm. He married Eva Grover, a sister of Andrew Grover, now living at Weissport. They had one son, Henry, who lived for a time on the homestead.
Daniel lived near the homestead, and died there. His son, Charles, is in the township.
Daniel Solt, who married Maria Solt, was a son of Paul Solt, who was one of the brothers of John Jacob. They had a son, Stephen Solt, who is now living and is the veteran school-teacher of the township, having taught for over thirty years. Daniel Ticebaugh married a daughter of Paul Solt.
John Arner was of the family who came into Towamensing soon after the Revolution and settled on the farm now owned by Benjamin Peter. He lived and died here, and left sons - Daniel and Jacob, and daughter Susan (Mrs. Jacob Snyder) and Mrs. Moore of Conyngham Valley, near Hazleton. Daniel married Susan, the daughter of John Jacob Solt, and moved to Weissport about 1827 where he settled about the time the village was laid out. He was a carpenter and builder. He died there about 1853, sixty-one years of age.
Jost Driesbach was also of an old family who came to the township before 1800. He settled on the Poho Poco Creek, below the land of Jacob Housknecht, and died there, leaving a son, Peter, who settled on the homestead, and whose son, Dennis, now owns the property. Mrs. Samuel Hartman, Mrs. Daniel Wentz, and Mrs. William Kern were daughters of Jost Driesbach and all resided in the township. Mrs. Hartman is still living.
Leonard Beltz, a native of Franklin, married Miss
E. Boyer, daughter of Frederick Boyer, and settled on land near Parryville, where he kept a hotel and finally died. His wife died at the age of one hundred and five years in 1867. Their children were, - Nicholas, Peter, Jacob, John, Eli, Frank, Thomas, Susan, Mary, Molly, and Elizabeth. The old farm is now Parryville. Nicholas settled there and his daughters, Mrs. Lenoyer and Mrs. Mowry, now live in the village.
Peter, now ninety years of age, is living with Jacob Hoyt, his son-in-law. He owned a farm above Maria Furnace.
Jacob settled in Northampton County, near Lockport. John settled in Mahoning township. A daughter, Mrs. A. Arner, lives on the farm he owned. Frank settled in this township and a son, John F., now lives here. Elizabeth removed to Schuylkill County. Thomas lives in Mahoning township. Squire H. A. Beltz, of Lehighton, is his son. Susan (Mrs. Samuel Nunemacher) and Mary (Mrs. Jonathan Haines) live in Parryville, an Elizabeth (Mrs. Daniel Bloss) near the town, while Molly (Mrs. Joseph Beck) resides in Illinois.
George Walk about 1800 settled on Saw-Mill Creek, where he built a saw-mill and carried on lumbering many years. The place is now owned by Edward Sensinger. He had five sons, - George, Thomas, Solomon, Simon, and Daniel. George settled above Little Gap; Thomas on the homestead; Simon above Weissport; Daniel at Pine Run. Of two daughters, Elizabeth became the wife of Charles Stetler, and Caroline of Jonah Markley.
Jacob Housknecht was a land-holder here in 1781, his farm including the site of Maria Furnace. The land passed into possession of his son, Martin, who in 1826 sold a part of it to David Heinbach. Little is now known of the original owner.
A number of families came into the township about 1812 - 1815, but they cannot properly be called early settlers.
From information gathered from the oldest residents of Franklin township, it appears that previous to the year 1822 there were no schools in what now comprises the township. Prior to that year the children attended school kept on the site of the old Gnadenhutten Mission. In that year (1822) a school was opened on the site of the present No. 7 school-house, and near the old Hoeth homestead. It was conducted entirely in German, and taught by Lewis Schnell; the only books used were the A, B, C Book, the Psalter, and the Bible. In 1827 the school was removed three miles south to the homestead of Rev. Charles Eichenberg, and kept in the old stone building, still standing, and now used as a residence. At this place the school in the township was held until the present school system was adopted. The teachers at this place were respectively James Keener (a Pennsylvania German) and John Keifer (a native of Germany), the former being still well remembered as a good disciplinarian and laying much stress on having the children commit to memory prayers and hymns, which were regularly repeated before recitations. The schools were entirely German.
The public school law passed in 1834, and in 1836 it was accepted by Towamensing township, of which this was a part. A log school-house was erected by the citizens without taxation nearly on the site of school house No. 5. The logs were furnished by Daniel Zolt (Solt), having been taken from an old building which was erected before the Revolution. This school was also entirely German, and taught by Mr. Stein. The second public school building was erected in Weissport.
The township has at present ten schools. Nos. 1, 2, and 8 occupy the building at East Weissport. This school was organized in 1851 and a school-house erected, which was replaced by the present building in 1867. The schools combined number one hundred and fifty pupils.
School-house No. 3 was originally built in 1847. The present building was erected on its site in 1873. Fifty pupils are in attendance.
School No. 4 was organized in 1866 and the present building was bought from a board of church trustees, it having been erected in 1842. This school numbers fifty-three pupils.
School No. 5 - This location is where the first public school in the county was opened in 1836. The old log house was torn down in 1860, and the present building erected in that year. The school has a membership of sixty-five.
School-house No. 6 is located not far from where the second pay school house was built, and the district was formed in 1851. The old building was used until 1861, when it was replaced by the present brick edifice, which is about three-quarters of a mile further east, at Beltzville. There are in attendance at this school an average attendance of forty pupils.
No. 7 school-house stands nearly on the site of the school-house that was built in 1822. The first public school building was erected here in 1854, and was in use till the erection of the present school building in 1880. Forty pupils are in attendance.
School No. 9 was organized in 1879, and has thirty-four pupils.
School No. 10 was established in 1883, and has a roll of seventy-four pupils.
The oldest teacher in the township is Stephen Solt, who has taught over thirty years almost exclusively in Franklin Township.
Following is a list of names of school directors who have served since the organization of the township:
1851 - Lewis Weiss, Walter Leisenring, one year;
David Bowman, Ashbury Gilham, two years;
James Brown, Peter Krum, three years.
1852 - Joseph Wintermuth, Levi Wentz.
1853 - Daniel Wentz, John DeLong.
1854 - Charles A. German, Charles Stedler.
1855 - George W. Staples, Henry Smith.
1856 - James Anthony, Jonathan Fincher.
1857 - Henry Boyer, Josiah Ruch.
1858 - John Schwab, M. W. Raudenbush, James W. Herberling.
1859 - James Brown, C. Snyder.
1860 - Henry Boyer, D. H. Dreisbach, Peter Krum, James Anthony.
1861 - David Beltz, Edward Sensinger.
1862 - D. H. Dreisbach, G. Laury.
1863 - Joseph Tomas, Henry Boyer.
1864 - Edward Sensinger, David Held.
1865 - Cornelius Snyder, David Beltz.
1866 - Dennis Bauman, Lewis Weiss.
1867 - J. M. Roberts, Edward Rober.
1868 - Daniel Sensinger, Samuel Boyer.
1869 - C. J. Eichenberg, Stephen Best.
1870 - Solomon Walk.
1871 - W. H. Whitehead, Robert Anthony.
1872 - Jacob Ziegenfuss, Simeon Walk.
1873 - Solomon Weaver, Reuben Boyer.
1874 - David Beltz, Abraham Henry.
1875 - Simeon Walk, Robert Anthony.
1876 - Cornelius Rang, Solomon Walk.
1877 - Josiah Ruch, George Senchel.
1878 - Tilghman Dreisbach, Robert Anthony.
1879 - Jacob Straub, Solomon Walk.
1880 - Henry Miller, W. C. Weiss.
1881 - Robert Anthony, Sr., Tilghman Dreisbach.
1882 - J. W. Freeman, J. E. Beltz, Neal Brisbin.
1883 - J. F. Snyder, Henry Miller.
On the 14th of April, 1826, David Heimbach, the elder of Upper Milford township, Lehigh Co., purchased two tracts of land in Towamensing township (now Franklin), one of eighty-six acres of Martin Housknecht, and another of forthy-three and a half acres of Henry Thomas. He built the furnace called "Hampton" in Lehigh County, in the year 1809. In 1817 he and his son, David, built the "Clarissa" Forge on the Aquaschicola Creek. The next year after the purchase of this property on Poho Poco Creek he erected a furnace, which he named New Hampton, and placed his son, John, in charge of it. The same year David, his son, erected a furnace near the "Clarissa" Forge. John Heimbach retained the charge of the New Hampton Furnace till his death in 1834.
John V. R. Hunter and Obadiah Weaver were administrators of the estate of David Heimbach, the elder. On the 23rd of April, 1836, he conveyed the property to William Miller, by whom the name was changed from New Hampton to Maria, in honor of his wife. Paul Miller, the son of William, was placed in charge of the furnace. On the 2d of November, the same year, William Miller conveyed one-half of the furnace property to John V. R. Hunter. The business was continued by this firm until Nov. 14, 1838, when it was sold to Thomas M. Smith and Thomas S. Richards, ironmasters, of Philadelphia, and Samuel Richards was chosen as superintendent. This firm purchased two thousand four hundred and twenty-eight acres of wild land in the vicinity. On the 18th of March, 1841, Thomas S. Richards conveyed his interest in the lands, forge, and furnace to Stephen Caldwell, also of Philadelphia. In the year 1845, the furnace was enlarged, and continued by Smith & Caldwell till 1850. (At this time there was at the place, in addition to forge and furnace, a company store and ten dwelling-houses.) In a year or two after this time it was leased to Samuel Balliet and Samuel B. Lewis, by whom it was operated till Jan. 1, 1859, when it was blown out, and its fires have never again been relighted. The land on which it was situated is now owned by Edward Rober and Joseph Anthony.
In the year 1849, James and Daniel Laury erected a forge on Pine Run, near its entrance into Poho Poco Creek. It was carried on but a few years. The property is now owned by C. Radetz.
Following is a list of names of farmers given in the assessment-roll at the time the township of Franklin was set off in 1851:
Daniel Arner, Jr. J. D. Bauman, Jr., Charles Belford Charles Blohs
James Brown Alexander Bean Peter Dreisbach Simon Dreisbach
John Grover Daniel Krum Peter Krum Peter Klotz
Peter Rainer John Solt, Sr Thomas Stout Daniel Solt
Thomas Straub Peter Solt Daniel Wentz
Following is a list of names of justices of the peace who have been elected since the organization of the township:
Edmund Neff, 1851
Henry Boyer, 1852
William Kern, 1854
William H. Knauss, 1855
Henry Boyer, Jr., 1857
D. H. Dreisbach, 1859
Stephen Solt, 1861
Henry Boyer, Daniel Wentz, 1862
Henry Boyer, Daniel Wentz, 1867
Joseph Young, 1868
J. Z. Bagenstoe, 1872
O. A. Rives, 1873
Henry Campbell, 1874
Isaac Bagenstoe, 1877
Webster C. Weiss, 1879
Henry Campbell, 1881
The boroughs of Weissport and Parryville are within the limits of this township. Their histories are treated separately, and will be found elsewhere.
For many years the land on which this settlement is located was owned by Joseph Wintermuth, who was a brick-maker. In 1864, he sold eight acres to Emanuel Reinhart, who sold two lots, and in 1865, sold the remainder to J. K. Ricketts (now of Weissport), who made a plot and sold a number of lots, upon which dwellings were erected. The principal cause that induced building at this place was the character of the ground, it being higher than the surrounding country and not liable to devastation such as occurred in Weissport a few years previous.
Within a mile of the settlement is situated a church edifice of the Evangelical Church Association. The corner-stone was laid June 29, 1879, and completed at a cost of one thousand dollars, and dedicated August 10th , the same year. It is a chapel of the association at Weissport, and is supplied by the minister of that church. A Sunday-school comprising one hundred and twenty-five pupils is connected with the chapel.
A chapel under the charge of the Lutheran and German Reformed Church of Weissport, and served by its pastors, was erected near the settlement in 1878, and dedicated June 21st in that year.
On the main road running east and west through the township and near the Poho Poco Creek are two chapels, St. Paul's Lutheran and German Reformed and that of the Evangelical Association. St. Paul's was erected in 1841, and at first was under charge of the Rev. Charles Mendson, and in 1850 the Rev, Charles J. Eichenbach was pastor. It is a chapel of the church of that denomination in Weissport, and supplied by its ministers.
The Evangelical Chapel, near St. Paul's was built in 1870, and is supplied from the Parryville Circuit. It is at present under the charge of the Rev. A. Kindt.
A little settlement known as Walksville is in the northeast part of the township, on a branch of Poho Poco Creek. Several years since the Prince Paint Works were located at the place, flourished a few years, and were removed.
At the locality known as Beltzville, John Bauman many years ago erected a hotel, at which the elections for old Towamensing township were held. Later David Beltz built a hotel and store at the same place, both of which he conducted, and has continued to the present time.
The History of the Counties of Lehigh & Carbon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Alfred Mathews & Austin N. Hungerford
Published in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1884
Transcribed from the original in October 2003
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