Bethlehem Area Public Library

Return to Community Life

Title & 1  2–3  4–5  6–7  8–9  | 10–19 | 20–29 | 30–39 | 40–49 | 50–59 | 60–69 | 70–79 | 80–89 | 90–99 | 100–109 | 110–119 | 120–129 | 130–139 | 140–151


In 1746, the Brethren purchased the Ysselstein farm, and on May 24, 1747, opened in the farm house a reformatory or school “for boys who had learned bad habits”. This school was removed to Bethlehem in January, 1749, but on May 27 of the same year, a boarding school for girls was opened in this same building, 11 girls being placed there. This girls’ school was maintained until February 25, 1750, when the girls were removed to other localities. But, September 10, 1751, this farm house was again used as a school for girls, and as such continued until 1753.

Chester, Bucks and Philadelphia were the three original counties of our State. Bucks County then extended to the Blue Mountains, "or as far as the land might be purchased from the Indians". The site of our town was, therefore, until March 11, 1752, when Northampton County was organized, a part of Bucks County. With the formation of Lower Saucon, in 1743, it became a part of that Township, which at that date contained about 200 inhabitants.

Northampton County, the seventh in point of time as to its erection, was formed from a part of Bucks, and comprised at first all the territory within its present limits, all of what is now embraced in Lehigh, Carbon, Monroe, Pike, Wayne, and Susquehanna, and parts of Wyoming, Luzerne, Schuylkill, Bradford, and Columbia County. It took its name from the shire or county of the same name in England. The first county court was held at Easton, June 26, 1752, in the 26th year of the reign of George II.

The dissatisfaction of the Indians of this region, as the result of the Walking Purchase, stirred up the hostility of the savages at the breaking out of the French and Indian War; and when, July 19, 1755, the report of Braddock’s defeat was brought by messenger to the Crown Inn, it produced great excitement here, and a general uprising of the Indians was momentarily expected. Consequently, when, November 20, the report was spread that the savages were about to begin hostilities in this vicinity, a crowd of frightened people from the Saucon Valley took refuge at the Crown Inn. The next morning a company of 70 armed and mounted men from New Jersey arrived at the Inn prepared to repel an assault by the Indians. Fortunately their services were not needed, for although atrocities were subsequently committed by the red men near by, this place went unscathed.

On learning of the Indian massacre of the Moravian missionaries at Gnaddenhuetten (now Weissport), on November 24, the Provincial authorities commissioned Benjamin Franklin to take charge of the erection of a line of forts along the frontier. Franklin, with a guard of 150 men and a train of supply wagons, arrived at the Crown Inn, December 18, 1755. On February 4,1756, having completed Fort William Allen on the site of the present Weissport, with an escort of 30 men, he returned here. After a short stop at the Crown, he pursued his journey to Philadelphia.

Shortly after these events, the Governor of the Province invited the Indians to meet him in council, at Easton. Three such meetings were held without arriving at any satisfactory result. But still another meeting was convened at the same place, at which amicable relations were restored by a general treaty concluded October 26, 1758.

On Sunday, August 7, 1757, after the third Indian council, the Governor and his retinue came here and put up at the Crown for the night. The next afternoon more than a hundred Indians made their appearance at the Inn, and two days later, Teedyuscung, chief of the Delawares, with chief Paxinos, and others of prominence arrived here. Though most of these Indians took their departure after a few days, Teedyuscung received permission from the authorities to establish headquarters here for the winter, and a cabin was built for him a short distance east of the Crown. Here he was visited by representatives of various tribes, some of them coming from as far off as Ohio. The other Indians who remained here are described as "a drunken, brawling and thieving lot who sorely tried their white neighbors”. On May 15, 1758, two Commissioners, with about 50 soldiers, arrived from Philadelphia, and the next day they conducted Teedyuscung and his undesirable followers to the Wyoming Valley.

During the period which succeeded the cessation of Indian troubles, considerable progress was made in public improvements. When the pioneers entered these virgin forests, the only road reaching these parts was the King’s Road, from Philadelphia to the Lehigh, at Jones Island, about a mile down the river. This was nothing more than an Indian trail — the "Minsi Trail” — over which the Minsi Indians had, from time immemorial passed to and fro between the Blue Mountains and the lower country. It was improved from time to time, and in 1874, was extended through here, past Ysselstein’s place, to the Ferry. During the same year a road, about 27 miles long, was opened from Walpack’s Ferry, on the Delaware, to Ysselstein's. The next year a road was laid out from here along the northern slope of the Lehigh Mountains to Macungi. This, however, was no more than a bridle-path for about 15 years before it became in any sense a wagon road. In fact, until 1763, there was not a really good road in the country. The best there was was the King’s Road.

It was over this last-mentioned road that the first trip was made with a stage-wagon between this place and Philadelphia, September, 1763. After that it ran regularly, leaving the Crown Inn on Monday mornings, and on its return, setting out from the King of Prussia Inn, Race Street, Philadelphia, on Thursday mornings. During the Revolutionary War the Crown Inn became well known to many persons who passed over the Road in the stage-wagon.

As this place lay in the direct line of march on the highway of travel from the regions south of it, the American troops marching through to Boston during July and August, 1775, with few exceptions, passed through here. In fact, during this and subsequent years of the Revolution, scarcely a week passed that did not witness the arrival, the temporary encampment, and the departure of companies of patriots on their way to the front, and scarcely one of the leading characters in that momentous struggle, from Washington down, but, at some time or other, was a guest at the Crown.



On December 17, 1776, after Washington’s retreat from Fort Washington, General Gates, with a detachment of his command, went into camp here. The next day General Sullivan, with General Lee['s Division of 3000 men, encamped here for the night, taking possession of several fields of waving buckwheat. The next morning the buckwheat, and even the fences, had disappeared.

Anticipating an attack by Howe on Philadelphia, Washington ordered the transfer of the military stores from that city to Bethlehem, and on September 18, 1777, thirty-six wagons and an escort of 40 soldiers arrived here. The next day other wagons came, one of which brought that venerated relic, the "Liberty Bell”, which, with those of Christ Church, was conveyed through Bethlehem to Allentown, where they were kept concealed until after the evacuation of Philadelphia by the British. And, by the way, this was not the only occasion on which the historic bell was here. On the morning of November 4, 1893, on its return from the Columbian Exposition, it was viewed and cheered in a downpour of rain by a great throng of people while the car bearing it lay for a short time side-tracked on the North Penna. R.R., opposite the Union Station,

Shortly after the battle of Brandywine (September 11, 1777), over 700 army wagons, with the sick and wounded, munitions, and baggage of the army, were parked here over night. They were escorted by 200 soldiers, and again were the crops devoured and the fences burned before morning.

After Howe occupied Philadelphia, Washington judging that the British general would follow up his success by an attempt to capture the entire American army, sent the Baron de Kalb, with a corps of French engineers, here to select a position of defense for his army, and to survey the heights to the south of our town with a view to their fortification. But Howe’s continued inactivity rendered these measures unnecessary, and kept the main army away from here.

On June 16, 1779, Martha Washington, on her way back to Virginia after a visit to the Commander-in-Chief, at Middlebrook Camp, N.J., and escorted by a body of distinguished American officers, crossed the Lehigh to this place and continued her journey along the King’s Road through here to Philadelphia.

Toward evening of July 25, 1782, General Washington, on his way from Philadelphia to his headquarters at Newburg-on-the-Hudson. arrived “unexpectedly and very quietly” at the Crown Inn, where he spent the night. He was accompanied by only two aids, and this is the only time that the Father of his Country was here. It has been erroneously represented that he was here on two occasions. The mistake, doubtless, grew out of the fact that Colonel William Augustine Washington, a relative of the General’s, spent the night of July 29, 1779, at the Crown.

As early as 1795 the route to Philadelphia had been improved and shortened by the completion of a new road due south, across the Lehigh Mountain, by the opening of which the old King’s Road fell into disuse as a through route. This new highway is still popularly known as “The Philadelphia Road”. Over this new route faster stage-coaches, making the trip in a single day, now replaced the old stage-wagons. The proposal to open this new road led to the building of the first bridge across the Lehigh, September 27, 1794, when the bridge was completed and opened to traffic as a toll bridge. The structure cost $7,800. This first bridge, like its successor, built in 1816, was an uncovered structure. The old Ferry was abandoned as soon as the bridge was ready for use, and on October 31, 1794, the Crown Inn was closed as a hostelry and became the farm house of the Crown Farm, of 1,200 acres.

The project of securing a 12-foot channel in the Delaware between Trenton and Easton is being vigorously agitated, with every promise of its ultimate success. Our river was, in the early years of the nineteenth century made navigable for certain craft all the way to Mauch Chunk. In 1805 the first “ark” load of coal was poled by here on the Lehigh to Philadelphia. This ark was simply a rectangular box 16 by 24 feet. In 1813, an ark 65 by 14 feet, carrying 24 tons of anthracite, passed down the river to seaboard. The Lehigh Coal & Navigation Co., which was incorporated in 1822, built a series of wing-dams and sluice-gates in the river in order to secure the required depth of water from Mauch Chunk to the Delaware, and thereafter whole fleets of coal-bearing arks were to be seen passing here on their way to Easton, and thence to Philadelphia. This river traffic was continued until June 10, 1829, when the Lehigh Canal was opened to navigation and the first two boat loads of coal passed down it to Easton.

Destructive floods in the Lehigh in 1739, 1786, 1841, and 1862 are recorded. That of 1739 swept away the first building here, Pioneer Ysselstein’s cabin. That of January 7 and 8, 1841, flooded the entire lowlands here and carried away the bridge completed in 1816. During the same year the present covered structure was built, the southern span of which was carried away by the freshet of June 5,1862.

The year 1843 marks the beginning of a rapid and continuous improvement in social and industrial conditions here, brought about by the Moravian Brethren disposing of their lands to individual purchasers. By a Deed, dated December 11, of that year, they conveyed to their Administrator Philip H. Goepp, “all the lands whereof they are seized”; and in 1845 Goepp began to dispose of the Brethren’s land-holdings on this side of the Lehigh. That year he sold to Daniel Desh somewhat more than an acre on the west side of the entrance to the bridge, and the next year the same investor purchased another parcel west of and contiguous with his first purchase, where the large railroad office buildings now stand. In 1846, Dr. Franz Heinrich Oppelt bought a little more than two acres of the Hoffert farm, the present site of St. Luke’s Hospital. This land he improved and built and opened upon it a Hydrophathic Institute, better known as “The Water Cure”, which became a popular sanitarium and summer resort. On April 1, 1848, Goepp deeded to Chas. A. Luckenbach what remained of the Moravians’ four farms here, consideration, $105,395.94. This was at the rate of $75 an acre.


Title & 1  2–3  4–5  6–7  8–9  | 10–19 | 20–29 | 30–39 | 40–49 | 50–59 | 60–69 | 70–79 | 80–89 | 90–99 | 100–109 | 110–119 | 120–129 | 130–139 | 140–151

Return to Community Life