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Bushkill Township

Bushkil Township offices are located at 1114 Bushkill center Road, Nazareth, PA 18064; phone: 610-759-1250.

Beginnings [1]

The township of Bushkill was originally a part of Plainfield. and was then known as "The Plains." It was erected into a separate township August 13, 1813, bounded on the north by Monroe county, on the east by Plainfield, south by Upper Nazareth, and west by Moore township. It was early settled by the Germans; the Moravians, however, owned land in the southern part, and prior to 1770 erected a rude building where religious meetings were held. This was succeeded by another edifice in which the Moravians worshipped until 1793. The Moravians also built in 1752 what was known as the "Rose Tavern," which was used as a place of refuge by the inhabitants during the Indian troubles. Near this was a store or trading post kept by William Edmonds, where traffic was carried on with Indians and settlers as late as 1772, when it was removed to Nazareth.

One of the extreme outposts of the white settlements was a large stone building which was located in Jacobsburg, a small hamlet near the eastern boundary line of the township, and used as a tavern. On the opposite side of the creek was originally the gun works of William Henry, a branch of his factory at Nazareth. This was erected in 1799, made arms for the United States and the State government, and continued to be used for barrel boring and for the manufacture of gun locks for fourteen years, when it was transformed into a grist-mill.

The records of the early settlers are very scant and imperfect. Jacob Werner was a native of Sweden; Jacob Titus removed from Philadelphia to the township in 1776, and lived to a ripe old age, being over one hundred years old at the time of his death; George Tuen was a Hessian, and was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Another early settler was James Williamson, one of General Washington's staff officers. In the first census taken after the creation of Bushkill, the population was given at 1,262. It was purely an agricultural district; the increase in its inhabitants was slow, and in 1870 had reached 1901. The great wealth that underlaid the surface had not been developed at this time; the first attempts to quarry slate were not a profitable undertaking. The average valuation of the land for agricultural purposes was about $20 an acre, but as the slate beds became successfully worked, this valuation naturally was enhanced. At the base of the mountain there were originally forests of chestnut, white, black and red oak, and along the stream, maple, ash and hemlock were abundant. On the banks of the creek and its branches were grist and saw mills. Charcoal burning was at one time an important industry.

The German language was generally spoken throughout the township, though in the north English prevailed to some extent. The first school in the township was taught at the Union church in the German language, and an English school was not opened until 1S20. There are several hamlets located within the limits of the town, small in population, and consist generally of a store, a tavern and a few dwellings.

In the township of Bushkill is the Union Church, situated a short distance from Belfast, erected and dedicated in 1829, and at first used by three denominations—Lutheran, Reformed and Moravian. The Methodist Episcopal church was erected in the northwestern part of the township in 1832, and was consecrated in September, that year, by Rev. Thomas Millard. The Canaan church of the Evangelical Association was erected in 1851 and dedicated in December of that year by Rev. Frederick Crocker, who was the first minister. The Lutheran and Reformed church at Bushkill Centre was erected in 1873 at a cost of $8,500. The cornerstone was laid in May, 1873, and the church dedicated in December of the same year. Of the four denominations the Lutherans are the most numerous, while the Reformed stand next in rank of members. The Methodists are located in the northern part of the township, while the Moravians live chiefly in the vicinity of Cherry Hill. The population of the township in 1910 was 1,586, which shows a decrease of about twenty per cent, over the previous forty years.

  1. William J. Heller et. al, History of Northampton County Pennsylvania and The Grand Valley of the Lehigh, The American Historical Society, New York, 1920.
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