History of South Bethlehem, Pa.
Previous to its Incorporation.
By P. J. Hall, Principal of High School
This article first appeared in the Souvenir History Book
of The Borough of South Bethlehem, Pennsylvania issued in connection
with the semi-centennial celebration Oct. 3-9, 1915.
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, make 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. 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 quarrelled with the Moravians and ordered them off his land.
As the Moravian Brethren in their new settlement, Bethlehem, desired, as far as practicable, to observe a policy of non-intercourse with people of other religious denominations, they decided to purchase land on this side of the river in order to exclude undesirable neighbors. Accordingly, they purchased 274 acres on the south side of the Lehigh, for which they paid $350. Nor was this the first purchase of land within the limits of our present borough, as shall appear further on.
The Deed for the Moravian purchase, dated July 3, 1746, thus describes the property: "Situate on the West Branch of the Delaware River in Buck's Co. (The West Branch is now the Lehigh, and Northampton Co. was then a part of Buck's Co.) Beginning at a marked Bench Oak by the side of said river opposite to an island (at first called Catalpa Island, later, Calypso Island, and recently removed) in the same, thence extending by vacant land S. 20 degrees, W. 162 perches to a post, thence by same and William Allen to a marked Black Oak by the side of said river, thence by same river the several courses and distances to the place of beginning." Though this Deed is dated 1746, the sale, it appears, was actually made in 1743. Previous to this earlier date, and indeed even before the Moravians had entered the Province, a few people, some without title, had established themselves here and in our vicinity. From the early records, the following particulars concerning some of these pioneer settlers have been gleaned:
Perhaps the first white settler in what is now South Bethlehem was Isaac Martens Ysselstein, a native of Holland. He located a farm on the site of the former Zinc Works. The precise date of his coming has not been ascertained, but there exists conclusive evidence that he was here prior to 1737. His first unfinished cabin was swept away by a freshet in the Lehigh. He then built a more commodious log house at a safer distance from the treacherous stream. In this house the Moravians passed a night in 1740, when on their way to build Whitfield's school; and here they found shelter while building their first house in Bethlehem the next year. When, some years later, the Brethren purchased this farm from his widow, it consisted of two tracts, one of 178 acres, and the second 75 acres, due east of the first. Both tracts are now occupied by works of the Bethlehem Steel Company.
Conrad Ruetschi, a Swiss, was the first resident of Fountain Hill. His farm house occupied a position a short distance west of the present Union Station. The exact date of his locating here has not been determined, but a Bethlehem record of 1742 tells that some of their women pulled flax for him that year. It appears that he was a squatter, for when the Brethren had completed their first purchase of land here, they had Justice Irish serve a writ of ejectment on him.
An aged couple, Valentine Loescher and wife, occupied a lonely log cabin near the spring in the present University Park. It is not known when they squatted there. The Brethren, in 1751, secured a proprietary title to this land; but the Loeschers were left in undisputed possession until 1756, when the desperate savages roaming these woods in the early days of the French and Indian War made their situation hazardous, and they were removed to their children, in Philadelphia.
A family named Lee, before and after the coming of the Moravians, lived on the top of the Lehigh Mountain, back of the present Sayre Park. Their place of residence has since been called "Billiardsville".
Solomon Jennings, one of the three selected pedestrians in the Walking Purchase, was one of the pioneer settlers on the Lehigh. His place was later known as "Geissinger's Farm", the present site of the Bethlehem City Water Company's pumping station. His son became sheriff of Northampton County, and his son-in-law, Nicholas Scull, was Surveyor General of Pennsylvania.
Soon after 1743, other settlers came here, who, for the most part, became tenants in houses erected by the Moravians.
In the summer of 1743, a tavern was opened in the Ysselstein farm house, by John Adam Schaus.
The river dividing the respective holdings of the Brethren was called by the Indians Lechauwecki. This was in time shortened to Lecha, and then corrupted by the German-speaking settlers to Lehigh. About the time that Schaus established his tavern, the first Ferry across the Lehigh was opened, with Schaus as ferryman. Its southern terminus was a group of sycamores immediately west of the present railroad bridge.
For a time during 1744, a hospital was maintained in Ruetschi's vacated cabin, on Fountain Hill.
In December, 1744, work was begun on a new tavern, on the site of the present Union Station, but it was not completed until the following year. This was the first building erected in the Lehigh Valley as a public house of entertainment. Samuel Powell, an English Moravian, took charge of it as the first landlord. Here he also opened the first bookstore in the Lehigh Valley. The name, "Crown Inn", was first applied to this hostelry in 1756, when a signboard emblazoned with the crown of George II was suspended above its portal. At an early day the Brethren built several houses near the Inn, and thus a small settlement sprang up there.
Powell's successor as landlord of the Crown was Frederick Hartman. His wife dying the following year, her body was interred on the nearby hillside. A special burial ground was then, 1747, consecrated and opened there on the site of the present E. P. Wilbur Estate greenhouses. Of the 17 recorded interments made in this primitive cemetery, ten were the bodies of Indians. The last recorded burial there was that of Captain Jacob Wetherold, who, with Sergeant McGuire, was wounded in a midnight attack by Indians on a tavern near the present village of Howertown. The wounded men were brought to the Crown, where, October, 1763, the Captain died. It is thought that, during the Revolutionary War, the remains of some of the soldiers who dies in the American hospital at Bethlehem were also interred here.
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 attrocities 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 county. 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 3,000 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 cherred in a dounpour of rain by a great throng of peole 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 (Spetember 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 Newbury-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 mistakes, 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 state-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 1806 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. Frantz 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 Hydropathic Institute, better known as "The Water Cure", which became a popular sanitarium and summer resort. On April 1, 1848, Goepp deeded to Chas. A. Luchenbach what remained of the Moravians' four farms here, consideration, $105,395.94. This was at the rate of $75 an acre.
The aforementioned four farms, on which the Brethren cultivated principally grain, hemp and flax, were commonly spoken of as "The Fuehrer Farm", embracing the nearer portions of Fountain Hill and its northeastern descent to and including the old Crown Inn; "The Luckenbach Farm", adjoining the former to the east and extending down the river; "The Jacobi Farm", which lay southof the latter along the sloping upland to the base of the mountain, from about either Walnut Street or the Five Points eastward far down into the heart of the town; "The Hoffert Farm", stretching off to the southwest, over the farthest part of Fountain Hill, down to the Emmaus Road and up to the present hospital and Bishopthorpe Manor and beyond to the Fountain Hill Cemetery. The Hoffert farm house stood near the northwest corner of the present Seneca and Fiot Streets. The Fuehrer farm house was the Crown Inn. The Luckenbach farm house, near by, a little to the east, was replaced in 1849 by a brick house which now serves as a L. V. R. R. Office building. The little stone house of the Jacobi farm was recently removed from the United States government lot, at the northeast corner of Fourth Street and Brodhead Avenue.
On the same day that Mr. Luckenbach acquired the four farms, he conveyed the entire Fuehrer farm to Daniel Desh, at the rate of $95 an acre; the Jacobi farm to Joseph Hess, at $80 an acre; and the entire Hoffert farm in parcels to Charles and Oliver Tombler and F. HJ. Oppelt, at from $70 to $80 an acre. In 1850 and 1851, the Tombler lands were sold to Daniel C. Freitag and Augustus Fiot, the latter a wealthy retired music publisher of Philadelphia. Mr. Fiot enlarged the house built by Mr. C. C. Tombler, beautified the grounds, and called the estate "Fontainebleau". This property, together with the Freitag purchase, eventually came into the possession of Tinsley Jeter, who finally acquired the entire Hoffert farm, with the exception of what was held by Dr. Oppelt. On September 5, 1868, Fontainbleau was opened as a private school for girls, and its name changed to "Bishopthorpe". After being closed during a few years, this school was reopened in 1908 as "Bishopthorpe Manor".
The name, Fountain Hill, was first applied in 1866. In 1854, Daniel Desh sold the Fuehrer farm, now that portion of the Hll extending from the Union Station southwest to Seminole Street, to Rudolphus Kent, Charles Hacker, and Samuel R. Shipley, all of Philadelphia. Ten acres of this tract, including the site of the Crown Inn, were sold by the new owners the same year, to the North Penna. R. R. Co. The rest of the land they laid out in town lots, substantially as it is now, Indian names and all. Shortly after, Robert H. Sayre, Chief Engineer for the L.V. R. R. Co., purchased the extensive grounds on which he erected the first house built on the Hill after it was laid off into streets. At that time, the only other buildings on the Hill were Fontainebleau, the Water Cure, and the Freitag house, the residence of the late Tinsley Jeter. The residence of William H. Sayre, southwest corner of Third and Wyandotte Streets, was erected in 1862; that of E. P. Wilbur, southwest corner of Wyandotte and Lehigh Streets, in 1864; that of John Smylie (now the property of Mrs. Samuel Adams), and that of Dr. Martin, were built about the same time as that of Mr. Wilbur. The Linderman property, now owned and occupied by Mr. Charles M. Schwab, was not built until 1870. In 1868, Mr. Jeter extended the town plot southwestward as far as the intersection of Delaware Avenue and the Emmaus Road.
Mr. Luckenbach retained the farm bearing his name, and in 1852 laid out a portion of it in a town plot, which he called Augusta. This was, really, the beginning of the subsequent town of South Bethlehem. It extended north and south from the present North Penna. R. R. Tracks to the Lehigh River, and east and west from the present Northampton Avenue to Poplar Street. The first building lot sold in the new town was purchased by Levin C. Peysert, for $200. This lot, 40 by 176 feet, lies immediately west of the entrance to the New Street Bridge. The next year the first building operations within Augusta were undertaken by Borhek and Knauss, who erected three double frame houses.
It was about this time that this locality began its career as a manufacturing center, by the production of zinc products. In 1845, William T. Roepper, who, 21 years after, became Lehigh University's first Professor of Mineraolgy and Geology, discovered the presence of calamine and blende, ores of zinc, on the Ueberroth farm, in Friedensville. In 1853, in buildings erected on the Luckenbach farm, in Augusta, the first while zinc oxide was produced from these ores. These buildings were destroyed by fire the following December, but were immediately thereafter rebuilt. In 1855, Samuel Wetherill, Superintendent of these works, succeeded, after long experimentation, in producing spelter, or metallic zinc. But Mr. Wetherill's process proved too expensive to be practical. In the meantime, May 2, 1855, The Penns. And Lehigh Zinc Co., whose corporate title was changed to the Lehigh Zinc Co. in 1860, was incorporated, with a capital of $1,000,000. In 1859, the then Superintendent, Joseph Wharton, contracted with a Belgian firm for the erection of smelting works, and imported three Belgian expert workers in that branch of the industry. One of these three Belgian experts was the late Andre Woot Detrixhe, father of our esteemed townsman, Arthur W. Detrixhe. These works were completed, at a cost of $85,000, and the first metallic zinc produced in them in July, 1859. In 1865, this Company extended its operations when the first sheet zinc produced in America was rolled at these works. In 1877, the Zinc Co. had over 700 names on its pay-rolls, annually consumed 40,000 tons of coal, and had buildings estimated to have cost in the aggregate $276,000. In 1881, these works were taken over by the Lehigh Zinc and Iron Co., which added to its other operations the manufacture of spiegeleisen. A few years ago these works were dismantled and the site is now occupied by the extension of the works of the Bethlehem Steel Co.
To return to Mr. Luckenbach's transactions, after selling two parcels, each of 4 acres, to Samuel Wetherill and the Zinc Co., and 35 acres to Asa Packer, for the use of the L. V. R. R. Co., he conveyed the remainder of the farm to Charles W. And Ambrose Rauch, in 1854. That same year, Charles Brodhead bought the Jacobi farm, 103 acres, and the recently acquired lands of the Rauch's, added his purchases to the town plot, and renamed it Wetherill. The next year he reconveyed to the Rauchs the tract purchased from them.
A "Greater Bethlehem" appears to have been looked forward to as early as 1858, for that year we find even Mr. Brodhead discarding both the town names, Augusta and Wetherill, and designating his lands as in "the southern addition of Bethlehem." It was about this time that the new town was given its third name, Bethlehem South, by which it was known until after 1865. With Asa Packer as contractor and our late townsman, Robert H. Sayre, as Chief Engineer, the original main line of the Lehigh Valley R. R.-from Mauch Chunk to South Easton-was located and the work of construction begun in 1852. The rails were laid through here east of the bridge the last week in April, 1855; and on June 4 the first locomotive passed through here. On June 11 the first passenger train made the trip between Allentown and South Easton, through transportation was opened to Mauch Chunk September 12, and the first coal train passed through here on September 15. The Company's first station and office building were opened in the Luckenbach farm house, built in 1849, standing directly east of the Union Station, and still used as an office building by the railroad.
On June 16, 1853, work was commenced on the North Penna. R. R., and on January 1, 1857, was run through over his road from Philadelphia to Freemansburg. On the completion of the long deep cut at Iron Hill, July 8 of the same year, the Freemansburg branch was abandoned and trains were run over the main line of this road to this place as the other terminal of the line. At the junction with the L. V. R. R., immediately west of the entrance to the old bridge, where the old ferry house had stood, this Company built its first station, in 1859, and it was used in common by both railroads until 1867, when the present Union Station was erected, almost on the site of the Crown Inn, at a cost of $25,000. The precise spot occupied by the historic old Inn is now covered in part by the south platform of the Station, and the railroad tracks run directly over the old well of the Inn. The rise of ground, now occupied in part by the Company's roundhouse and Ritter's coal yard, was the site of the Inn's apple orchard, from the fruit of which was made the "Cider Royal" for which the Crown was famous.
This famous old hostelry, the Crown Inn, was a two story building, constructed of white oak logs, and having a peaked roof, small windows and a low porch with carved pillars. Near-by was a picturesque well-sweep, orchard, and fields. On the walls of the long, low reception room, at the farthest end of which were the bar, powder horns, bullet pouches, guns, deer antlers, and, in a little 6 by 9 frame, the first license, which was granted in 1746. The railroad company sold the building to David I. Yerkes for $30. Yerkes used the material in the construction of the "Continental Hotel", near the southeast corner of Second and New Streets, and now belonging to the T. C. Caffrey Estate and occupied as a tenement house.
On the opening of the new railroad, Abbott & Cortright, in 1857, established a foundry and machine shop near-by the Union station, where the plant of the Bethlehem Foundry & Machine Co. is now located.
Though our pioneer industry, the Zinc Works, was in operation as early as 1853, the very rapid growth and prosperity of this community really dates from the opening of the railroad lines. Without the facilities for transportation thus afforded, the greatest of all our industries, The Bethlehem Steel Co., would have been an impossibility. Naturally, the large land owners of the new town were desirous of promoting the value and sale of their holdings by inducing manufacturers to locate their establishments here. Thus, the late Charles Brodhead, about 1854, endeavored, through U. S. Senator Richard Brodhead, father of our Judge Brodhead, to secure the location of a government foundry here. But, though the project was favored by the then Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, it failed to receive favorable Congressional action. Mr. Brodhead then, in 1857, joined with Augustus Wolle, the father of the Bethlehem Steel Co., in the organization of "The Saucona Iron Co." Mr. Wolle had conceived the idea of locating a blast furnace on Saucon Creek for the manufacture of iron from ore from the nearby "Gangewere Mine", of which property he had recently become possessed. Having also acquired the Rauchs' portion of the Luckenbach farm, he was persuaded by Mr. Brodhead to erect works on this land rather than on the Saucon, to broaden the scope of his Company, and to change its corporate title to the of "The Bethlehem Rolling Mills & Iron Co." The original subscribers to the new undertaking were Augustus Wolle, Charles Brodhead, Charles W. Rauch, Ambrose H. Rauch, Charles B Daniel, and the Moravian Congregation. The financial panic of Buchanan's Administration halted this project, but , in 1860, the late John Fritz, a noted iron-master of Johnstown, was engaged to superintend the erection and the operation of the new works. On June 14, 1860, the Company organized with Alfred Hunt, President; Augustus Wolle, Asa Packer, John T. Johnston, John Knecht, Edward Roberts, Charles B. Daniel and Charles W. Rauch, Directors; Charles B. Daniel, Secretary and Treasurer. On May 1, 1861, the corporate title of the Company was changed to "The Bethelehm Iron Co." Seventeen acres of land on either side of the L.V. R. R. Having been secured, on July 16, 1861, ground was broken for the first blast furnace. This, however, on account of the Civil War, was not completed and lighted until January 4, 1863. The next day the blast was turned on by Miss Kate Powell, of Philadelphia. The first iron was smelted from a mixture of brown hematite from the Saucon Valley and magnetite from Morris County, N. J. The rolling mill, commenced in the spring of 1861, was finished in the summer of 1863. The first iron was puddled July 27, and the first rails-for the L. V. R. R.-were rolled September 26, of that year. The second furnace was commenced in May, 1864, and completed in March, 1867. The original machine shop was built and equipped in 1865.
The Lehigh Valley Brass Works were erected in the fall of 1863, by the proprietor, B. E. Lehman, whose father had carried on the business in Bethlehem since 1832. The Brass Works buildings, laying opposite the old L. V. R. R. Freight station, are at present occupied by the Bethlehem Foundry & Machine Company.
The New Street Bridge Company was chartered on May 3, 1864, and in June, 1867, the bridge, 1170 feet in length, was completed at a cost of $65,000, and opened as a toll bridge.
The population of our town, which, at the close of 1861, was 947, had
increased to about 1,500 by the end of 1863. The population at the time of
incorporation is not known, but that the increase in numbers was remarkably
rapid may be inferred from the fact that the census returns of 1870 shows
a population here of 3,556.