Bethlehem Area Public Library

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4

A.N. Cleaver

A.N. CLEAVER
Member Executive Committee

 

Mr. Cleaver located in Bethlehem in the year 1869, and has been a resident of South Bethlehem since 1876. At the organization of the Lehigh Valley National Bank, Bethlehem, Pa., he was appointed cashier, which position he resigned in 1873 to become manager for the firm of Linderman & Skeer, operators of the Stockton and Humboldt Collieries in the Hazelton region. He continued this connection until the firm retired from business. He is now President of W.C. Mason & Co., Inc., wholesale and retail dealers in coal, with offices in New York City and Hartford, Conn. He is also President of the Sayre Mining & Manufacturing Company, with colliery in the Birmingham, Alabama, district. He has been prominent in the charitable, educational and financial institutions of South Bethlehem and Bethlehem for many years, being actively connected with the management of St. Luke’s Hospital; an organizer and director of The Associated Charities; trustee of Lehigh University; director of Lehigh Valley National Bank and E.P. Wilbur Trust Company, and is equally well known in musical circles for indefatigable support of the annual festivals of the Bach Choir of which he is the treasurer. He is universally recognized as a business man of marked ability, — a leading citizen of our community, — a man of broad public spirit, — of great quiet reserved energy, — whose share in the up-building of our community has been and is highly appreciated by his fellow citizens.

 

Robert H. Sayre

ROBERT H. SAYRE
One of the early residents

 

John Fritz

JOHN FRITZ
Founder of Bethlehem Iron Co.

 


5

History of South Bethlehem, Pa.
Previous to its Incorporation.

By P.J. HALL, Principal of High School.

In the following sketch we purpose briefly tracing the development of South Bethlehem, Pa., from the wilderness, through the maturing years of its existence, up to the time of its incorporation as a Borough, August 21st, 1865. Limitation as to space and time, necessitating conciseness of expression and nice discrimination in the choice of material, is our apology should the article herewith submitted prove little more than a chronological summary of events occurring here during the period indicated.

William Penn came into possession of his Province on March 4, 1681, and soon after published an account of it, offering easy terms of lands therein: namely, forty shillings (equal to from $40 to $50 to-day), for 100 acres, subject to a quit rent of one shilling per annum forever. Many people of means embarked in the enterprise, and it is with one of these purchases — that of 5,000 acres, by William Lowther of London, October 22, 1681 — that we are particularly concerned, for the 705 acres within the present confines of South Bethlehem, which cost the original purchaser between $282 and $352, formed part of that tract.

After the death of Lowther, this estate became vested successively in Margaret Lowther, Margaret Nicoll, Joseph Stranwix, and John Simpson, all of London. The last named proprietor acquired possession November 24, 1736.

Up to this time, notwithstanding that emigrants eager to acquire land were fast pouring into the Colony, no effort was made by the respective owners to realize on their investment. The reason for this was that, prior to 1737, the lands north of the Lehigh Mountain was still Indian territory, and not open to settlement. But, in 1735, measures were taken to secure the extinction of the Indian title to lands in this region. A document was produced which purported to be a Deed, made August 30, 1689, by certain Indian chiefs to William Penn for the territory extending from the upper line of the Neshaminy Purchase of 1682, in a northwesterly direction as far as a man could walk in a day and a half, and thence eastward to the Delaware River. It was designed to cover all of what is now Northampton County north of the Lehigh Mountains.

Though the Indians questioned the authenticity of the Deed, at sunrise on September 19, 1737, three selected white pedestrians and three Indians, accompanied by officials on horseback, set out from the present Wrightstown, Bucks County, and headed for the Lehigh River. The river was crossed at the old ford of the Minsi Trail, opposite the Saucon Plant of the Steel Works, near the site of the new bridge, and the “Walk” continued to the Pocono Mountains — a distance from the starting point of 65 miles. Five years after this “Walking Purchase” was consummated, the last Indians reluctantly surrendered possession, and retired north of the Blue Mountains. These Indians belonged to the Delawares, an important tribal confederacy of Algonquian stock originally holding the basin of the Delaware in eastern Pennsylvania, together with most of New Jersey and Delaware. They called themselves Leni-Lenapes, real men, and consisted of three tribes — Minsi, Unami, and Unalachtgo — symbolized respectively under the totems of the Wolf, Turtle, and Turkey. Of these, the Minsi held the upper Delaware, north of the Blue Mountains. The Unami, those in our immediate vicinity, held the middle course of the river, together with the hereditary chieftancy, while the third tribe occupied the lower country.

It was, doubtless, the improved conditions brought about by the removal of the Indians which led the last owner of Lowther’s 5,000 acres, John Simpson, to send Chief Justice William Allen, of Philadelphia, a Power of Attorney, dated August 9, 1740, authorizing said Allen to sell Simpson’s land. Some time before 1737, Nathaniel Irish, an agent for Allen in the sale of lands, was seated near the mouth of Saucon Creek, on a tract of land since known as Shimersville. Here Irish had established a farm, built a grist and a saw mill, and opened a land office. He was commissioned the first Justice of the Peace in this section, and his place became the northern terminus of the first “King’s Highway” from Philadelphia to the Lehigh, which was opened in 1737.

On April 2, 1741, Irish negotiated the sale of 500 acres, lying on the north bank of the Lehigh, at the mouth of the Monocacy Creek, to Henry Antes, trustee for a congregation of Moravians. This was the first land acquired in Pennsylvania by these people.

The Moravians, coming from Germany, had settled near Savannah, Ga., in 1735. They left Georgia in 1740, and, accompanied by the celebrated Methodist exhorter, Rev. George Whitfield, came to Philadelphia. Whitfield, the same year, purchased 5,000 acres, almost identical with the present Upper Nazareth Township, on which he proposed founding a school for negro children. He induced the Moravians to locate on his land and erect thereon the buildings for his contemplated school. But before the end of the year Whitfield quarreled with the Moravians and ordered them off his land.

 

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