120 Stable Road | Lehighton, PA 18235 | 610-681-4202

History

William Penn Early Inhabitants
At the time William Penn received his last grant from the King of England, the area now in what it is known as Towamensing was home to the Lenni Lenapes (Delaware) Indians. The land became part of Pennsylvania as a result of the infamous "Walking Purchase".

The township population increased rapidly with the arrival of German immigrants in the mid 1700's. These Germans often called "Pennsylvania Dutch" (from the German word "deutsch") were fleeing from oppression. Attracted from Penn's liberal immigration policies, many of the German immigrants found rich farmland north of the Blue Mountain.

Family Farms
Early tax records demonstrate the love of the land typical of these early German settlers. Those are not listed as farmers are likely to be found in farm-related occupations, like blacksmith or miller. Some residents had rather substantial average, indicating self-sufficiency. Farms of a thousand or more acres were found in the township. Families of 12 to 18 children were not unusual. Large families were necessary to run the family farm successfully.

Farms were handled down from father to son through the generations. Today some of these farms continue to be farmed by direct descendants of the original owners.

Schools
The first schoolhouse was built between Little Gap and Trachsville in 1839. Other schools were later added; some of these one room schoolhouses still stand. The Strohl's Valley and Eckhart's Valley Schools are used as residences. The Greenzweig School, near Trachsville, remains as it was when it was last used.

In the 1950's the Township School Board felt the need for a more modern facility and built the brick schoolhouse located along Route 209. It is being expanded to accommodate the Township's growing population.

Last Quarter Century
What was once a rural area dominated by family farms has given way to an influx of new residents living on subdivisions on those former farms.

A large recreation area, Beltzville State Park now covers a major portion of the northern section of the Township. On a hot summer day thousands of visitors find their way to the lake to enjoy the water and open space.

In spite of the new developments, the Township continues to have among its major attractions, the blue skies, forested mountains, and grassy fields. We hope this rural atmosphere continues, and that we treat the land with the same respect demonstrated by the Lenape Indians and first settlers over 200 years ago.

Trachsville and Stemlersville
The largest "village" for most of the Township's history was Trachsville. The name was taken from Captain Lynford Troch, who once owned the land in the area. Troch opened a store there in 1856 and since it was on the early "Stagecoach Road", established a post office with himself as the postmaster. Another post office along the road was located in Stemlersville. Daniel Stemier purchased property in that area in 1829 and later maintained a post officer and tavern there until his death in 1871.

Walking Purchase
The Walking Treaty or Walking Purchase is the name given to an agreement in 1737 between the Penn family, the proprietors of Pennsylvania and the Lenape (Delaware) tribe of American Indians. William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania and a devout Quaker, made it a policy to deal fairly with the native tribes. As a result, the traditional mistrust between natives and settlers that existed in most other colonies was not as pronounced in Pennsylvania.

But by 1737, William Penn was long dead and his heirs and their agents were running the colony. The colonial administrators claimed that they had a deed dating to the 1680s in which the Lenape-Delaware had promised to sell a portion of land beginning between the junction of the Delaware River and Lehigh River (near present Wrightstown, Pennsylvania) "as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half."

The legal veracity of this document is greatly debated today and it is now generally believed that at best it was an unsigned, unratified treaty and at worst an outright forgery. In truth, the Penns' land agents had already sold vast areas of the Lehigh Valley and had to clear the Lenape before the land could be settled.

Since Lenape leaders believed that the treaty was genuine, and because they assumed that about 40 miles (64 km) was the most a man could walk through the wilderness in a day and a half, they agreed to honor the treaty. But Provincial Secretary James Logan planned well, and hired the three fastest runners in the colony, Edward Marshall, Solomon Jennings and James Yeates to run out the purchase on a prepared trail. On September 19, 1737, the three began to run west from Wrightstown stopping only to sleep for the night. The pace was so intense that only Marshall actually completed the "walk." After a day and a half, Marshall had reached the vicinity of the town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, a distance of about seventy miles (113 km).

The Penn acquired 1,200,000 acres (4,860 kmĀ²) of land in what is now northeastern Pennsylvania, an area roughly equivalent to the size of the state of Rhode Island in the purchase. The area of the purchase covers all or part of what are now Pike, Monroe, Carbon, Schuylkill, Northampton, Lehigh and Bucks counties.

Lenape Chief Lappawinsoe and other leaders felt that they had been swindled by the British colonists, but felt that they had no choice but to agree to the deal. The Lenape tribe fought for the next nineteen years to have the treaty annulled, but to no avail. The Lenape-Delaware were forced into the Shamokin and Wyoming Valleys, which were already overcrowded with other displaced tribes. Many Lenape-Delaware eventually moved west into the Ohio Country.




Towamensing Township
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