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August 29, 2001
HISTORICAL SKETCH OF OLD SAUCON TOWNSHIP
Prepared by Jas. J. Hauser, Member of Lehigh County Historical Society
Formed In 1743 On Saucon Creek, From Which It Takes Its
Name, of Indian Origin-Divided Into Upper and Lower Saucon in 1753-Old
Times and New Contrasted.
The Township was formed in 1743, and lies in the rich and
fertile valley of the Saucon Creek (from which it derived its name), in
the southwestern part of Northampton County. The name is of Indian origin.
Sakunk, meaning at the mouth of the creek, where was an Indian village,
where Shimersville now is located.
On the north it is bounded by the Lehigh River, which separates
it from Bethlehem Township; on the east by Williams Township; on the southeast
by Bucks County; on the southwest and west by Lehigh County. It is mostly
hilly with fertile valleys. It formed a part of Saucon Township and was
divided into Upper and Lower Saucon Townships in 1753. The former belongs
now to Lehigh County. Its area is 29 1/4 square miles, somewhat smaller
now on account of the Boroughs taken from it. Its greatest length is from
east to west 6 1/2 miles; It greatest breadth from north to south, 5 1/2
Population in 1750, 350; 1760, 570; 1770, 640; 1780, 825;
1790, 976; 1800, 1410; 1810, 1724; 1820, 2208; 1830, 2303; 1840, 2710;
1850, 2905; 1860, 3486; 1870, 4991; 1880, 5304; 1890, 3913; 1900, 4141.
The soil of Lower Saucon is very fertile and is largely
of limestone formation, well adapted for agricultural pruposes. It became
more or less a manufacturing community from the close of the Civil War
till sometime in the '80s, when the people more or less went back to the
farmer vocation, agriculture, and it is again an agricultural community
to a large extent.
Rivers and Creeks
The river that washes the shores of the Township is the Lehigh on its
Silver Creek rises at the eastern end of the Wassergass road flowing
west, emptying into the Saucon Creek at Hellertown.
Laubach's Creek rises in the Swabia Hills, near Southeastern Schoolhouse,
flowing northwest, then west and enters the Saucon Creek, at Shimersville,
the Eastern Branch rising in the eastern part flowing west into the Saucon
Black River rises in the western part and flows east into the Saucon
Creek at Hellertown. It is a small stock mostly dry during the Summer
time, but during heavy rains forms vast proportions, looking like a fairly
Saucon Creek rises in Lower Millford, Lehigh County, near Dillingersville
(north branch). The east branch rises in Upper Saucon, Lehigh County and
unites near Center Valley, enters Lower Saucon Township at Bingen, flowing
north in the western part and enters the Lehigh River at Freemansburg.
It once teemed with trout and eels, now nearly extinct. A number of grist
mills and saw mills are along its course all doing a thriving business.
Snipe Valley Creek rises about a mile south of Ironville, flows through
a narrow valley of the same name westward and empties in the Saucon Creek
half a mile above Hellertown.
Is temperate, lying in the North Temperate Zone, has four
seasons, namely, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
Iron ore and limestone are found in large quantities. Iron
ore is found in large amounts in Wassergass, Snipe Valley and Saucon Valley
and were largely worked in former years. The limestone quaries are located
in the Saucon Valley, and their produce is used a the furnaces at Hellertown
and South Bethlehem.
No wild animals are any more found except the fox, mink,
weasel, rabbit, racoon, squirrel (red and gray), polecat, woodchuck, opossum,
Owl, fishhawk, heron, whop-poor-will, nighthawk, mockingbird,
swallow, quall, bluebird, blackbird, crow, robin, goldfinch, oriole, soren,
jay, orane, catbird, sparrow and others.
Are white, red, black, burr oak, chestnut, maple, hickory,
shellbark, birch, beech, pine, spruce, butternut, walnut, wildberry, willow.
Fruit trees are the apple, peach, apricot, plum, cherry,
pear, quince and crabapple.
Berries-raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, huckleberries
(whortleberries), gooseberries and currants. Grapes are also found in
large quantities, both wild and cultivated.
Are wheat, oats, rye, corn, grass, potatoes and vegetables.
Mountains and Hills
Swabia Hills (Swoveberg), rise in the eastern part. They
are so called because the first settlers came from Swabia, Germany. Coal
Mountain (Kohlberg) rises in the southeastern part. It is so called because
of the large amount of charcoal prepared ther for use in the early days
of the Durham Iron Works.
Flint Hill (Grubbsberg) undoubtedly so called on account
of flint found there.
Saucon Hill, in the central part, derived its name from
the church north of it. These hills are all parts of Lehigh Mountain.
Lehigh Mountain forms the northeast part of the Township.
Snipe Valley, or Polk Valley (Schnippe Den) is the name
of a small valley in the southeastern part, deriving its name from the
snipes that frequented the brook that flows through it.
Spring Vally derived its name from the clear crystal springs
Wassergass, the name of a road leading from Hellertown to
Ironville, received its name from the springy nature of the ground in
the vicinity of Ironville and the many Wassers settled there and whose
decendants are still living there.
Applebutter road (Latwerg strass) in the northeastern part,
leading from Shimersville eastward, derived its name from the large amount
of applebutter formerly boiled along the route. The people find a ready
market for their products in the Bethlehems, Hellertown and Easton.
pass through the Township - the North Pennsylvania Railroa,
operated by the Reading Railway, from Philadelphia to Bethlehem in the
western part the Lehigh Valley Railroad from Easton to Mauch Chunk and
Buffalo, N. Y.. In the northern part, and three trolley roads, the Lehigh
Valley Transit Co. connecting the Township with the Bethlehems, Allentown
and other parts of the County, the Freemansburg branch of the Easton Traction
Co. connecting it with Freemansburg and Easton; the Saucon Traction Co.
from South Bethlehem to Seidersville and Colesville.
The oldest village, is situated at the mouth of Saucon Creek
and named after Jacob Shimer, contains a foundry and a grist mill. A flour
mill was built there in 1824, removed to Allentown in 1872.
Located in the southwestern part, took its name from the
Leiths or Leyds, who live in the vicinity. Peter Leyd, was the first settler
and the ancestor of the family. Contains a store and a hotel and a number
In the northwestern part, received its name from Charles
Seiders. Contains a store, two hotels a union chapel and a number of dwelling
Is in the eastern part and derived its name from teh Iron
ore found in the vicinity. Has store, an Evangelical Church and a creamery.
Is in the eastern part and received it name from the Township.
Contains a store, grist mill and blacksmith shop.
Was named by F. A. Comly, President of the North Penn Railroad,
in honor of the many German people living in its vicinity, after the city
of the same name in Germany. Contains a store, hotel, grist mill, lime
kilns. A furnace has been dismantled.
Was named by the Coleraine Iron Co. whose works had been
located there, but are now demolished. Contains a store and hotel, and
in its vicinity is the testing ground of the Bethlehem Steel Works.
William Allen, Nathaniel Irish and L.M. Yssels were the
first to take up land along the Lehigh River in the Township, Feb 27,
1727. Nothing remains to mark the spot where rest the pioneers of old
Saucon. Irish's property passed into the hands of George Cruickshank.
Irish built the first grist mill in the Township in the vicinity of Iron
Hill. Dr. Felix Lynn bought the property later. It afterwards passed into
other hands, among them the late Isaac Pearson. Part of the property was
bought by the Bethlehem Iron Co. The borough of Northampton Heights is
on some part of the land.
Dr. Lynn was a son of Peter Lynn a native of Hanau, German,
and came to America in 1734 and died in 1761. Lynn Township, Lehigh County,
was named after Peter Lynn, Sr.
The Township was divided into Upper and Lower Saucon Townships.
The former became a part of Lehigh County when the County was formed in
1812. The petitioners for a seperate Township were: George Hartzell, Henry
Hartzell, Paul Frantz, Mathias Riegel, Christian Laubach, John Danlshous,
Jacob Hartzel, Jacob Maurer, Mathias Mopscher, Frederick Weber, Diter
Knauss, Max Gumschaffer, Joesg Freiman, Rudolph Orweille, George Peter
Knecht, Michael Lintz, Peter Reisser, Joel Arminer, Rudolph Illig.
In March 1743, the petitioners, residents of what is now
Upper Saucon Township, Lehigh County, for a separate Township were Christian
Newcomer, Phillip Geissinger, George Zewitz, Henry Rinker, John Yoder,
John Reeser, Christian Smith, Henry Bowman, Valentine Steinmetz, Henry
Rinker, Jr, George Troba, Adam Warner, Owen Owen, Thomas Owen, John Williams,
John ?, John Thomas, Joseph Samuels, Isaac Samuels, William Murray (now
Mohz), Michel Weber, John Apple, Jacob Gongwere (now Henry Keiber), George
Bachman, George Morsteller (now Marstellar), and Henry Rumfeld (now Rumfield).
Ebrhart's mill is on the property deeded by John, Thomas
and Richard Penn to Christian Beitler (Beydler), 1744, and deeded in 1751
by him to Christian Bachman Miller the ancestor of the Bachmans of the
Hess's Mill was built in 1773 by Jesse Jones and afterward
passed into the Hess family and long operated by Joseph hess; now owned
by Mr. Benner.
Grim's Mill is also an old grist mill that flows but when
built no date given.
Gram's Mill is also an old mill, so is Roth's saw mills.
Wagner's Mill in another old mill, situated just outside
of the Borough of Hellertown, on the south side, Christopher (Stoffol)
Wagner, the ancestor of the Wagner family of the Township, received a
deed for a tract of land from Thomas and Richard Penn in 1751. Mr. Wagner
was a prominent man in his time, serving as a Justice of the Peace, Captain
of militia, fighting under Washington at the battle of Trenton Dec 26,
1776. A mill was built upon the property, which has even since been in
the Wagner family, and is now operated by Victor Wagner, Stoffel Wagner's
place is mentioned on the route of the old King's High road from the Court
House in Philadelphia to Bethlehem, being 47 miles, 3 quarters from Philadelphia.
This road formerly ran through South Bethlehem along the Lehigh River
to the Crown Inn, now the Union Depot. The site of the road is now occupied
by the Bethlehem Steel Works and the road is now nearer the North Pennsylvania
Yeager's Mill was built in 1839, at Bingen.
Christman's Mill is in the northeastern part and was built
Cawley's Mill was built by John Cawly in 1831. Nothing is
left of it.
Saucon Foundry long operated by Daniel Weitknecht, is now
abandoned and a creamery is in its place.
Rev. John Philip Boehm received, in 1744, 200 acres of land
which passed into the hands of his son, Anthony in 1747. Anthony Boehm
is the ancestor of the Boehms in the Township.
John Adam Sch?us opened the first hotel in the Township,
on the Lehigh River. He was a millwright.
Peter Appel, the ancestor of the Appel family, had two sons
and one daughter. John settled near where Appel's Church now stands; died
Benjamin Riegel took up a grant of land in 1734 near Hellertown.
Ancestor of the Riegels of Lower Saucon, Riegelsville and Philadelphia.
Among the other early settlers and whose descendants are still living
in the Township are the Beyers, Owerlies (Oberlies), Lerches, Laubachs,
Kochs, Reises, Ruchs, Knechts, Rothricks, Kaufmand, Roths.
The early settlers of Suabia Hills (Swoveberg) were mostly
weavers, old looms can still be seen in many of the old families, and
many of their descendants are still living there, the Christines, Reichards,
Kuntzmans, Zeiners, Reisers, Wersts, Wassers, Rentzheiners, and Schloyers.
Richard Freeman, the ancestor of the Freemans of Freemansburg, settled
at Shimersville. The Hess family came from Springfield, Bucks County,
PA. Nicholas Hess is the ancestor of the family, and his son George, who
settled in Lower Saucon is the ancestor of the family living in the Township.
The first public house of note was the Crown Hotel, built
of white oak, 23 feet by 40 feet, on the site of the Union Depot at South
Bethlehem. It was transformed into a farmhouse in 1794. When the depot
was built the hotel building was removed and converted into the Continental
Hotel. The whole tract in that vicinity belonged to a Miss Simpson. Before
1747 a graveyard was laid out on the south side of the Lehigh River, near
the ferry and the Crown Hotel, as a burial place of the Moravians of Suacon.
The wife of Frank Hartman, William Tatamy (son of words), interpreter
of David Brainerd, the missionary, and some Revolutionary soldiers that
died in the hospital at Bethlehem, were buried in this graveyard now abandoned
the site of E.P. Wilbur's greenhouses was the former site
of a graveyard, and one was on Daniel Beidelman's farm, and on at Shimersville,
both abandoned. The graveyard at the old Mennonite meeting house, which
stood where the Limekiln schoolhousenow stands is over one hundred years
old. The graveyard at the Lower Saucon Church, still seen, is inclosed
with a stone wall used prior to 1751.
Lower Saucon Church is first mentioned in the records of
New Goshenhoppen by Rev. John H Goetschey and called "Saucon,"
1730 to 1739. Rev. Michael Schlatter in his journal of 1747, speaks of
the congregation being served by Rev. John Conrad Wirtz. The first records
of the church were begun in 1756 by Rev. John E Hecker, up to 1770 by
Rev. John Daniel Gross from 1770 to 1773. Rev Mr. Bitholin, 1774, was
dismissed on account, of intemperance. Since then the congregation had
been served by the following ministers on the Reformed side: Rev. John
W Ingoll, 1775; Rev. Casper Wack, 1775 to 1782, Rev John Winckhouse, Rev
John Maus, 1782 to 1793; Rev. Hobmeinr, 1795 to 1807, Rev Thos. Pomp,
1807 to 1832; Rev. Samuel H Heffelstein, 1833 to 1838; Rev. J.C. Becker,
D.D., 1839 to 1857; Rev. C. Becker, 1858; Rev A.J.G. Dubbs, 1859; Rev.
J.S. Kossler, D.D., 1860 to 1862; Rev. Wm. R. Hoffonl, 1868 to 1870; Rev.
T.O. Stem, 1870 to 1876; Rev. Dr. A.B. Koplin, 1878 to the present time.
Lutheran ministers were the following: Rev. Christian Andreas, Rev. S.K.
Brobst, Rev. William Rath, Rev. Dr. C.J. Cooper, Rev. W.J. Bieber and
Rev. H.B. Ritter.
The first church was a log building and stood on the east
side of the road. The second church was a stone building (1751), also
on the east side. The third building, also built of stone, was built in
1816 on the west side. The fourth church was built in 1876, also on the
west side. The church at first belonged entirely to the Reformed denomination,
but in 1805 the congregation sold the half interest to the Lutherans and
from that time it has been a union church.
Appel's (New Jerusalem) is a union church in the southwestern
part, near Leithsville, was built in 1834. The Reformed ministers have
been Rev. Samuel Hess, 1834 to 1864; Rev. S.M.K. Huber, 1864 to 1868;
Rev. A.F. Ziegler, 1868; Rev. A.P. Horn and Rev. T.C. Brown. Lutheran
ministers have been Rev. H.S. Miller, Rev. Benjamin German, Rev. William
German, Rev. J.F. Vogelbach, REv. William Rath and Rev. W.W. Kistler.
The Ironville Evangelical Church was built in 1871. Prior
to its building the members worshipped in the old schoolhouse. The following
have served as pastors of the church to connectionn with Pleasant Valley
Circult, to which it belongs; Revs. J. Zern, D. Hambright, G.H. Laury,
Moses Dissinger, H.D. Schultz, D. Yingst, M.L. Custer, J.W. Woerhly, W.H.
Weidner, A. Ziegenfuss, W.H. Riney, D. Lentz, F.G. Stauffer, J.K. Seyfrit,
W.A. Shoemaker, C. Rothenmal, I.F. Heisler, T.L. Wentz, J.U. Weidel, E.
Butz, J.H. Smith, A.S. Kresge, W.W. Holter, S.B. Frey,mP.A. Gruver, D.G.
Hopkins, Henry Wentz, L.A. Werner, C.K. Fehr, J.L. Boyer, and A.W. Buck.
The Township sustained from 8 to 10 schools long before
the Public School system came into existence. The first teacher's salary
was $19 a month for a term of six months (free school system); but once
was it less and that for only one month. The present term is eight months
and the salaries from $42 to $75 a month. There are at present eighteen
schools and a Township High School. A fine modern High School building
was erected the present year, containing all the modern improvements,
being a model building in every respect and reflects great credit on the
Board of Directors and the Township. Township examinations were held from
almost the beginning, until 1867 when they were discontinued. The present
corps of teachers; Rev. T.C. Strock, Principal of the High School; J.
Angstadt, Harvey F. Schloyer, R. Weidner, James J Hauser, Hattie Pearson,
E.E. Shiffer, Blanche Abrams, Alma Nicholas, Harvey A Bachman, Warren
achey, Paul E. Romig, E.F. Snyder, G.R. Diehl, Linda Sanders, Henry Strunk,
David Reese, Ida Trythall, Helen Horn, Wm. Maurice and Helen Strohmeyer.
Board of Directors; P.O. Bachman, P.W. Beidelman, Frank Ruch, D.W. Getter,
Maurs Uhler and Milton Lerch. Among the early teachers were Dr. Henry
Detweiler, Rev. Samuel Hess, Valentine Hilburn, Rev. William Rath, Peter
Boehm and Thomas Weber.
Old Saucon Sons
Old Saucon sons have filled many public offices and professions;
Jer. S. Hess, State Senator; Dr. H.D. Heller, State Senator; Dr. A.J.
Harris, member of Assembly, in the ministry; Rev. Samuel Hess, Rev. Strock,
Rev. Stewart Mitman, I.F. Bergstressor, Rev. Goerge Roth, Rev. R.C. Weaver,
Rev. Charles Weaver, Rev. Robert Bergstresser, Rev. C.K. Fehr, Rev. J.F.
Lambert, Rev. George Lambert, Rev. Syd Lambert and Rev. David Lambert.
Attorney; J.T. Woodring.
Physicians; W.F. Detweiler, Chas. Detweiler, A.J. Harris,
W.H. Rentzheimer, J.F. Cawley, M.F. Cawley, Thomas Cawley, R.C. King,
Levi Zeiner and William Kuntzman.
Teaching profession: Stephen King, Thomas King, Wilson Werst,
Edward Werst, Thomas Reichard, Wilson Stauffer, Charles Stauffer, Peter
Stauffer, John Stauffer, Jacob Stauffer, Peter Leidich, Jacob Nickum,
William Young, Newton Young, Prof. Harry Reichard, Prof. Calvin Bergstresser,
Prof. Ruch, A.T. Bergstresser, Prof. W.D. Landis, F.S. Landis, J.R. Koch,
J.O. Knauss and Howard Mitman.
Rev. John Philip Boehm received a deed for a tract of land
of 200 acres, and lived for some time in what is now Hellertown, in a
stone dwelling house still standing and owned by John A Geissinger. The
house is occupied by two families and stands on Main street, between the
Hellertown Hotel and Depot street. The house ought to be preserved as
a reminder of days gone by.
The Old King's High Road
Passes throught the eastern part of the Township, a reminder
of days long ago. Thwn on passes over the road one's thoughts are carried
back to the time when the country was thinly settled and belonged yet
to the Penn family and Indians yet roaming about. The road was made historical
by Washington, Greene, Wayne, Lee, Lafayette, Morgan, Steuben and other
Revolutionary officers traveling over it, and members of Congress, during
the Revolutionary War, and the proprietary government officials as well.
It will perhaps be of interest to the reader to know the route of the
Old King's High road, from the Court House, in Philadelphia to Bethlehem:
|Farmhill meeting house...................
|Germantown meeting house...........
|White Marsh Church.....................
|Baptist meeting house....................
|Swamp's meeting house.................
The Walking Purchase
Part of the Township is embraced in the famious Walking
Purchase of 1737, which created so much discontent among the red men.
The line or the "Walk" passed through the Township in a northwestern
direction in the eastern part of the Township from a line stating in the
meadow of Hon. H.S. Funk, at Funk's Mill. Springtown, in a straight line
northwest crossing the Lehigh River between Bethlehem and Freemansburg.
Parts of Southeastern, Union and Shimersville School Districts and Franklin
and Redington School Districts are embraced in the Walking Purchase.
The people of old Saucon are mostly engaged in farming and
trucking. Truck companies find ready market for their products at South
Bethlehem and Bethlehem, Easton and South Easton. The variations in the
population show no decrease, but the formation of the Boroughs of South
Bethlehem, Northampton Heights and Hellertown, which are wholy formed
out of its territory, decreased its area very much.
The site of South Bethlehem Borough was the first that was
taken from its territory. It is a growing and prosperous Borough, the
seat of Lehigh University, founded by the late Ada Packer; the Bethlehem
Steel Works, on of the largest of its kind in the United States, and numerous
other manufactories are here.
Which was next detached, contains a lumber yard, numerous
small factories, is a nice town of some 800 inhabitants on Saucon Creek,
four miles from South Bethlehem.
Was the last Borough taken from Saucon territory. It adjoins
South Bethlehem and its prosperity is largely due to its proximity to
the same. All three Boroughts are situated in the oldest part or old Saucon
and many historical incidents occurred in their vicinities.
Old Saucon gave many of her sons to defend the country,
from the French and Indian War in 1754 to the Spanish-American War in
1898. On many a battlefield her sons laid down their lives that the liberty
of the people might be safe and their rights preserved.
The only Postoffices in the Township at present are Bingen,
Redington and Seidersville. The Postoffices at Wassergass, Lower Saucon
and Leithsville have been discontinued and the people are served by rural
free deliveries, three from Hellertown, one from South Bethlehem and two
Mean temperature for Summer, 70 degrees: mean temperature
for Winter, 27 degrees: average amounts of rainfall, 42 inches: geological,
Lower Silurian strata.
The Township is divided into six (6) election districts:
- Lower Saucon District, 'at Joseph E. Ruch's private house.
- Hellertown District, at the public house of O.E. Roth.
- Leithsville District, at the public house of Jacob A. Borger.
- Seidersville District, at the public house of Henry G Durner.
- Shimersville District, at the private house of Howard Knecht.
- Wassergass District, at the store of M.O. Johnson, Ironville.
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