BOROUGH OF WEISSPORT.
Pages 773 to 777
Including sections on:
“Jacob’s Church” – Lutheran and German Reformed
Carbon Academy and Normal School Association
Lehigh Valley Emery-Wheel Company
The borough of Weissport is situated on the east bank of the Lehigh River, and opposite the borough of Lehighton. The greater part of the land on which it was built was patented to John Roberdoe in 1791, and later came in the possession of Col. Jacob Weiss. That portion along the river and at the north end of the borough was a part of the one hundred and twenty acres which was deeded to the Moravians in 1745, the greater part on which lay on the west side of the Lehigh River. The Gnadenhütten Mission was established in 1746, and became a prosperous settlement and trading-post. The Moravians here gathered about them about five hundred Indians of the Mohegan and Delaware tribes. Schools were established, mills erected, and agricultural pursuits and stock-raising were extensively carried on.
The Indians gathered here were taught in the schools and assisted in agricultural pursuits. Early in the year 1754 it was decided to establish a new mission on the east side of the river, to be called New Gnadenhütten, to which place the Indians were to be removed.
The Carbon Advocate, in 1879, published an article entitled "New Gnadenhütten, Weissport One Hundred and Twenty-five Years ago". The writer says, "Independent of the English and French war raging on the Susquehanna, there were dissensions and bickering among the Indians themselves, and especially a feud between the Delawares and the Five Nations. In the commencement of 1754, a young white man having murdered the peaceable old chief, Tattemi, that astute diplomat and Quaker Indian, Tadeuskund, was chosen leader and king of the Delawares. Tadeuskund had been converted to Christianity and baptized, and his chief purpose was to preserve an equilibrium of peace between the white colonists and his own people, and it is likely he saw in this peaceful living together of whites and Indians at Gnadenhütten a serious cause for jealousy among the tribes outside, and so arranged with Bishop Spangenberg, at Bethlehem, to bring about this separation. And thus was established New Gnadenhütten, now Weissport.
"In the removal the Indians were kindly assisted by the congregations at Bethlehem, Nazareth, Christianbrunn, and Gnadenthal, who furnished not only workmen and materials, but even contributions in money. Unanimity and diligence contributed so much towards the progress of this work that the first twenty houses were inhabited by the 4th, and the foundation-stone of the new chapel laid on the 11th of June. Bishop Spangenberg offered up a most fervent prayer, and delivered a powerful discourse on this solemn occasion. The houses were soon after completed, and a regulation made in all the families for the children, of each sex, to be properly taken care of. The dwellings were placed in such order that the Mohegans lived on one side of the street and the Delawares on the other side. The brethren at Bethlehem took the culture of the old land on the Mahoning upon themselves, made a plantation of it for the use of the Indian congregation, and converted the old chapel into a dwelling, both for the use of those brethren and sisters who had the care of the plantations, and for missionaries passing on their visits to the heathen. A Synod was held in New Gnadenhütten from the 6th to the 11th of August, 1754, and the chapel consecrated. Many Indian assistants were invited to this Synod, the chief intention being maturely to consider the situation of the Indian mission."
The two missions under the same management prospered greatly until the defeat of Gen. Braddock, in July, 1755, at which time the frontiers were left open to attacks from the Indians, who were incited by appeal to their prejudices and promises held out to them by the French, who went among them for that purpose. The Indians living in this section of country were also jealous of the influence exerted by the Moravian missionaries over their people. The defeat of Braddock caused great uneasiness and consternation among the settlers who had taken up lands outside of the mission, and many of them left their homes and fled to Bethlehem, Easton, and other more thickly-populated localities. The brethren of the mission decided to remain, and took every precaution against surprise, but it was in vain.
On the evening of Nov. 24, 1755, the old mission was attacked by a party of Indians, who, after vainly endeavoring to get in the house, set the building on fire, and killed and scalped those who were not burned in the dwelling, except those who escaped. The light of the flames, and two Moravians who escaped to the new mission, notified the Indians of their danger. They at once offered to attack the enemy without delay, but were advised by the missionary in charge to the contrary, and they immediately gathered together a few effects and fled to the woods. The next day troops arrived from Bethlehem, and many of the refugees returned. No further trouble was occasioned by the Indians until the 1st of January following (1756), when a part of the troops, who were skating, saw two Indians above them on the river, and following them, they were led into an ambush and killed. This so alarmed the remaining troops that they, with the Indians, fled. The savages then burned the Indian houses at the "New Gnadenhütten" Mission.
Benjamin Franklin was in the same month appointed to build a line of forts, one of which was to be at this locality. A full account of Fort Allen and its occupation will be found in the Indian history.
On a morning in January, 1761, the little body of troops, who for five years had been stationed in Fort Allen, were ordered to prepare for evacuation. When all was ready, the column marched out and down the military road towards Bethlehem. For several years the locality, now left to desolation, had been the abiding-place of several hundred people, who were engaged in agricultural pursuits, and of troops to protect them. Twenty-three years passed before an attempt was again made to settle at this place.
Col. Jacob Weiss, a native of Philadelphia, in the year 1784, while on a tour through the county with a view of purchasing land, passed up the Lehigh River. The well-timbered lands along the east side of the river attracted his attention, and he purchased of the Moravians of Bethlehem seven hundred acres of land, between what is now Parryville and Long Run. He erected a log house for his own use on the site of the Fort Allen House at Weissport, and a saw-mill and a log house for his sawyer, John Roth. He had married a few years previous to this time, and in the next year (1785) moved to the new home, his family then consisting of his wife, two children, and Mrs. Robinson, his wife's mother. At this time the Solts, Arners, and Hoeths were living west of him from six to eight miles, and on the other side of the river were the families of Dodson and others, four or five miles distant.
Active work commenced in the woods and at the mill. the sound of the woodman's axe, the falling of trees, and the loud voices of teamsters resounded in the woods along the river. In a few years the forests were cut away and fields were cleared and planted. Other large tracts were purchased by Col. Weiss, and lumbering was carried on for many years. The next year (1786) after the arrival of the family, a great flood occurred, which was long remembered by them. The following account of this flood is given in Rupp's "History of the Five Counties," the facts therein being stated by Mrs. Weiss and her son, Francis, in September, 1844: "on the night of the 6th of October, 1786, Mr. Weiss' family was roused from sleep between ten and twelve of the clock by the cry of some one, 'We are all surrounded.' At this cry the first thought that struck them was that the Indians had surprised them, but they soon found they were surrounded by water, for the Lehigh had swollen so suddenly and so high that the whole flat of Fort Allen was inundated. To save themselves they had to leave the house. They drove the sheep into the kitchen and penned them up in the loft; the cattle were on the hills. Old Mrs. Robinson - the mother of Mrs. Weiss - and the children were carried in a wagon to the higher ground, and Mrs. Weiss, between two and three in the morning, mounted behind her husband to go on horseback, but was obliged to dismount, for the horse could not possibly carry both, on account of the ground being so completed soaked that he sunk to the flanks. Mrs. Weiss, however, was carried in an arm-chair by some men to the hill east of the canal. At the same time a house near the river was swept away with its inmates, - Tippey, his wife, and two children. As the house was floating each of the parents had a child by the hand, the house struck a tree, the parents caught by the limbs and were saved, but both children perished. In this predicament Mr. Mullen, a sailor, at the instance of Mr. Weiss, took a canoe, and rescued Tippey and his wife from the angry waves which had borne off their tender children." This flood is known as "Tippey's Flood."
In the year 1791, when Philip Ginter discovered coal at Summit Hill, he brought specimens of it to Col. Weiss, who at once became interested and went to Philadelphia, and with others formed the Lehigh Coal Company. About ten thousand acres of land were taken up on the mountain, and efforts were made to bring the coal to market and in use, but for the time they were not successful.
Col. Weiss was engaged in all movements to advance the best interests of the county. In his advancing years he retired from the more active duties of life, and his sons, Francis and Thomas, were in charge of his business. He was a native of Philadelphia, where he was born Sept. 1, 1750, and was educated at Nazareth and Philadelphia. Upon the breaking out of the Revolution he entered the army, and was an active participant during that memorable struggle. At its close he married, and in 1785 came to the place which now bears his name, and lived there till his death, Jan. 9, 1839, in his eighty-ninth year. His wife, Elizabeth, survived him several years. Their children were Rebecca, Francis, Jacob, Elizabeth, Thomas, and Edward. Rebecca was born in Philadelphia, passed her youth at Weissport, and became the wife of Dr. John E. Thompson. They lived at that place many years, and after her death her husband moved to Mauch Chunk, and died of cholera in 1854. Francis, son of Jacob, was also born in Philadelphia. He attended school at Nazareth and Easton, and gave particular attention to surveying. He learned the trade of printing, but forsook it for surveying, which he made his life-work. For many years he did most of the surveying in this region of the country. He remained unmarried, and died about seventy years of age. Jacob, son of Jacob, remained at home till he reached maturity, when he traveled for several years, and later became interested in coal and mining operations. He also was unmarried, and died about sixty-five years of age. Elizabeth, daughter of Jacob, became the wife of Jacob Horsfield, and for several years resided at Emaus, where her husband was engaged in the mercantile business. Later they removed to Bethlehem. Thomas, son of Jacob, settled
on the homestead farm and carried on the farming and lumbering. He married the daughter of Paul Solt, who was one of the early settlers. His children were Elizabeth (Mrs. Jacob Bowman), who now resides at Millport; Charles, who became a surveyor, and emigrated to Michigan and died in Detroit; Lewis remained at Weissport, and was for some years engaged in boat-building and in the mercantile business from 1836 to 1857, and in 1872 removed to Lehighton, engaged in boat-building and the mercantile business in Bethlehem, and is still in that borough; Alexander, in 1870, went to California, and is still there. Edward, son of Jacob, remained at his native place and engaged in boat-building, mercantile business, and also kept the Fort Allen House. He died in 1864.
Soon after the year 1800 a tide of emigration began to flow to the west side of the Lehigh River, and Col. Weiss, with others, presented a petition to the court of Northampton County asking for a bridge across the Lehigh River at the termination of the road that was built in 1748 from Bethlehem to Gnadenhütten. This did not meet with prompt attention, and another was presented bearing date Nov. 5, 1803, which was favorably received, and viewers were appointed, who at a later term of court reported as follows:
"The Honorable Jacob Rush, President, and the Associate Judges, &c."
"We the Subscribers, the viewers appointed by the within order of Court, having in pursuance of the said order met upon the spot to view the scite of the Bridge pray'd for, Do report That a Bridge is really necessary for the accommodation of the Public at the said place. We find the river to measure one hundred and twenty feet width, having a substantial rock on the western shore, which of course will not require any or very little walling. And on the eastern it will require an abutment and wing wall extending about one hundred and fifty feet from the abutment eastward; and we further suggest that the lower timbers ought to lay about twelve feet above low-water mark. We herewith also present a draft of a bridge (which altho' not fitted to the width of stream as above mentioned, it being calculated for one hundred and forty feet) will sufficiently describe the structure we would approve of. The dotted lines in the draft describes an arch of 18 feet elevation composed of eight rows of timber, each one foot thick, spreading from shore to shore, to which the flooring is hung by as many kingposts as there are ten of feet in the span, which posts are to be well fastened with iron bolts to said arch of timber, and rising to a proper height, and with a horizontal floor. It is to be covered with a shingle roof, and sides to be boarded. We would further add that a bridge thus constructed will be much better than the common construction of an arch and flooring, as in the ascent and descent of a heavy-laden carriage upon such a flooring the frames labors hard, and of course wears fast; again, in the structure we propose the timber being covered in; it will also be much more durable on that account (although the order of court does not require it). We may add that we estimate the expense of the construction of such a bridge Three Thousand dollars."
No action seems to have been taken on this report, and a petition was again made June 4, 1804, "for a bridge over the river Lehigh, at or near the house of Col. Jacob Weiss, in Towamensing township, on the public road leading from the Water Gap of Lehigh to Berwick on Susquehannah." The court appointed as viewers Jonas Hartzell, Esq., Michael Musselman, Stephen Balliet, John Snyder, Jacob Kuntz, and Henry Bowman. They viewed the site and made report June 14, 1804, which report was accepted, and bridge ordered built. The commissioners of the county decided to have the work of building the bridge done by the day; a temporary structure was erected near by, and the men were boarded there, the commissioners furnishing all the supplies. The entries are given in full in the records at Easton, and among them are the following, June 14, 1805: "To Jacob Lay for a Fresh Milks Cow for the use of the men who work at Lehigh Bridge, at $19.00; and John App for one and a Calf, at $20; and $2 for bringing them up to the bridge, at Weiss's." "To Jacob Lay for 10 Fat Sheep for the hands at Lehigh Bridge, $20." "Sept. 20. To Katy Kickin on account of cooking, $4.00." Coffee, tea, sugar, whiskey, brandy, beef, pork, and other supplies were furnished in large quantities. The bridge was finished in the summer of 1805, and the road was continued on the west side of the river to Lausanne (Landing Tavern), and from there over the Broad Mountain, and from 1808 became the Lehigh and Susquehanna Turnpike, better known as Easton and Berwick Turnpike. The bridge remained in use with occasional repairs till 1841, when it was partially destroyed and again rebuilt, and from that time was in use until the freshet of 1862, when it was entirely swept away. The present bridge was then built by the county.
No effort was made to establish a village at Weiss' mill until the construction of a canal in 1827-28. At that time the Coal and Navigation Company desired to locate the canal on the west side of the river, but Col. Weiss offered the company right of way free through his farm on the east side, which extended some distance down the river. The proposition was accepted and the canal was constructed. After this was decided upon, Col. Weiss and his sons laid out a village plot into lots, streets, and a public square, and formed a lottery scheme, in which each ticket was placed at a cost of seventy-five dollars, and was to entitle its holder to a lot, the only difference being in location. About forty tickets were sold and drawn.
The canal was completed through this place in 1829, and the building of houses soon commenced. Jacob Weiss' house (a frame structure) stood where the Fort Allen House now stands. The tavern-stand, now known as the Weissport House, was built in that year by Peter Snyder, and opened by Daniel Heberling.
About 1832, Lewis Weiss commenced building boats on the bank of the canal for the Morris Canal and Banking Company and the Lehigh Navigation Company. In 1836 he opened the first store in the village, at the corner where Franklin Laury now is, and remained in business at that place until 1857. In 1838, Daniel Heberling, who at first was in the hotel, opened a store abut the centre of the town, where he was in business many years. He was school director in 1838, and for many years a justice of the peace. In 1836, Andrew Graver, who had formerly lived in Lehighton, moved to Weissport, and followed boating till after the freshet in 1841, when he built a …
…boat-yard below Lock No. 9, and commenced the building of boats for the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. He continued this branch of business till 1877, and still resides in Weissport.
In 1846, Nathan Snyder opened a boat-yard above Lock No. 9, and built boats there till 1872. In 1850, Miller & Heimbach, who formerly owned the Maria Furnace, opened a rope-factory, which was continued three or four years. A post-office was established in 1863, and Christopher Grote was appointed postmaster. He was succeeded by William Grover, who served till June, 1869, when Perry J. Kistler was appointed, and served till June, 1882. William H. Knecht succeeded him, and is the present postmaster.
Flood of 1862 - In a little work published in 1863 called "Incidents of the Freshet on the Lehigh River, Sixth Month 4th and 5th, 1862," occurs the following: "Weissport, owing to its low situation, suffered severely. It is thought that there was hardly a dwelling in the place escaped the effects of the water. Upon our first visit to it after the disaster, the scene of desolation it presented was appalling; lumber, wrecks of bridges, broken canal-boats, parts of carriages, etc., lay in endless confusion the length and breadth of the town. In its main streets lay canal-boats, parts of houses, and logs piled a story or more high for a long distance, effectually stopping all travel from it, and furnishing a sad memento of the overwhelming destruction. At the Fort Allen House the flood was on the bar-room floor several inches; the stabling and out houses attached to the hotel were all carried away. A resident of the place had taken much pains to furnish a correct account of the number of buildings destroyed. The whole number was eighty-nine, consisting of sixteen dwellings, thirteen kitchens, thirty-seven stables, two barns, two blacksmith-shops, two slaughter-houses, two wagon-sheds, two built of brick, one school-house, one Methodist meeting-house, one saw-mill, one rolling mill, one foundry, one warehouse, and one carpenter-shop, coach-factory, cigar-shop, feed-store, shoe-shop, and tailor-shop. Four residents of the town were drowned."
"Jacob's Church" - Lutheran and German Reformed. - This congregation was organized in the spring of 1839, under the Rev. Mr. Yerkes (Lutheran) and the Rev. Mr. Gerhart (German Reformed). A village lot (the site of the present church) and an acre of ground on the hill north of Weissport were donated by Col. Jacob Weiss for church and burial purposes (Col. Jacob Weiss was the first to be buried in the burial-ground. The services were held in the school-house, as the church was not yet complete). The present brick edifice was at once commenced, and completed Christmas-day the same year. The pastors who have served the German Reformed congregation from that time to the present are as follows:
Revs. Rybel, Helffrich, Charles J. Eichenbach, Bartholomew, and Joseph Freeman, the present pastor. The Lutheran pastors were the Revs. E. Augustus Bauer, Henninger, and H. Erbst, the present pastor. Each congregation has from eighty to one hundred members.
Evangelical Church - About 1844 a number of persons in sympathy with the views of the Evangelical Church Association met in Weissport, and were organized into a church by the Rev. ------Myers. A church was erected on the site of the present school-house, and occupied till 1853, when the present house of worship was erected, at a cost of five thousand dollars. It was known as the Weissport Station of the Carbon Circuit, and was supplied by pastors on the circuit until 1870, when it became a regular station. The pastors who supplied the church while a station in the circuit were Revs. Myers, George Knerr, John Kohl, William Bachman, John Schell, Edmund Butz, Joseph Specht, Abraham Schultz, ----- Kester, S. G. Rhoads, C. B. Flier, J. Iern, ------ Goldschull, George Knerr, ----- Bleam, Joseph Steller, Benjamin Schmoyer, A. Kindt, M. Dissinger, and J. Savitz. Since 1870 the pastors have been as follows: 1870, M. Dissinger; 1871. A. T, Seyboldt; 1874, G. T. Haines; 1876, J. H. Knerr; 1878, J. K. Seifried; 1880, E. J. Miller; 1882, A. A. Long, the present pastor. The church has a membership of two hundred and six, and a Sunday-school which numbers about two hundred pupils.
Schools - The first school-house in Weissport was erected in 1838, at a cost of four hundred dollars. It was built on the site of the stone building now used as a lock-up by the borough, and was swept away by the freshet in 1841, and the stone building above referred to was erected upon the site, and used as a school-house until the present school building was erected, in 1865. The old church of the Evangelical Association was purchased by the school directors in 1853, upon the completion of the new church of that society, and used as a school-house till 1862, when it was destroyed by the freshet of that year. The present building was erected on the same site in 1865. The directors of the school prior to 1868 will be found in Towamensing and Franklin townships.
Weissport became an independent school district March 21, 1867, and the directors since that time are here given:
1867 - Franklin Reed, Francis Yundt, William Koonz, Andrew Graver, Henry Boyer, Lewis Weiss.
1868 - Lewis Weiss, John Hawk
1869 - Owen Moyer, Daniel Schoch
1870 - J. G. Zern, Francis Yundt
1872 - Owen Moyer, A. Oswald
1873 - J. G. Zern, Francis Yundt
1874 - H. H. Musselman, John Arner
1875 - None
1876 - J. G. Zern, D. V. Albright
1877 - Andrew Graver, Sr., H. H. Everett
1878 - Reuben Musselman, Frederick Schmidt
1879 - Joseph Feirt, W. H. Miner, Charles Boyer
1880 - Milton Florey, Reuben Musselman, J. C. Arner, and D. B. Albright (tie)
1882 - H. H. Musselman, William Florey
1883 - A. J. Guth, E. H. Everett, and Frank Laury (tie)
The schools of Weissport are under the charge of Professor J. F. Snyder.
Carbon Academy and Normal School Association - In 1853 a stock company was formed under the above title. A house was purchased, remodeled, and furnished. Professor Eberhart was employed to take charge of the school. After an experience of two years it was found that under the management the company were in debt. Professor Eberhart resigned, and was succeeded by Pliny Porter, who conducted the school for another year, when it was thought advisable to sell the property to pay the debts of the company, and R. T. Hofford, of Lehighton, became the purchaser. The building was refitted, and opened May 1, 1857, with ten pupils. Patronage increased, and an additional teacher was employed. In 1862 the building was destroyed by the freshet, and rebuilt the same year in Lehighton. In 1867, Professor A. S. Christine became proprietor, and school under his management prospered until June, 1868, when it as closed by his death.
Hotels - The first hotel was built in 1829 by Peter Snyder, and opened by Daniel Heberling, who was landlord for three years, and was succeeded by Lewis Weiss, and later by the following persons: Charles Snyder, Alexander Lentz, Jacob Snyder, Col. John Lentz, and others. It is now kept by Joseph Webb.
The Fort Allen House was built by Edward Weiss, son of Col. Jacob Weiss, in 1857, on the site of the old house and within the limits of the old stockade of Fort Allen. It was kept for a time by Edward Weiss, and later by George Moyer, Yuna Culp, and others. At the present time Henry H. Everett is landlord.
The Franklin House was built as a dwelling-house by Nathan Snyder in 1860, and rebuilt as a hotel and store in 1865. It is now kept by Edward Raber.
Rolling-Mills - These mills were built by Lewis Weiss in 1855, and operated by him till 1863; they were then sold to Bertolette & Co., who enlarged their capacity and operated them till 1881, when they were sold to Lilly & Co., by whom they were again enlarged, and ran till the summer of 1883, when they were closed.
The Fort Allen Foundry was established in 1874 by William and C. D. Miner, who have enlarged it several times, and still continue the business.
Lehigh Valley Emery-Wheel Company - This company was organized in June, 1874, with a capital stock of thirty thousand dollars. The business had been conducted on a small scale prior to this time, but in this year buildings were erected especially fitted for the carrying on of the manufacture of emery and corundum-wheels. As the business increased additions have been made from time to time. The present officers were William Lilly, president; L. E. Wills, secretary and treasurer; Directors, William Lilly, W. H. Stroh, Dr. J. H. Zern, R. T. Hufford, W. R. Butler, W. C. McCormick, and L. E. Wills.
Weissport Borough - Petitions had been made to the courts of Carbon County asking for the erection of the village of Weissport into a borough for several years before any action was taken. The matter was again brought to the notice of the court in 1867, and was favorably received, a decree of incorporation being granted on the 3d of June in that year.
The first election for the borough of Weissport was held in March, 1868. The following are the names of members of Council and justices of the peace from that time to the present:
1868 - Franklin Reed, Francis Yundt, Daniel Shoch, Frederick Schmidt, Joseph Feist, Thomas Koons
1869 - Joseph Feist, W. Koons
1870 - H. W. Mentz, E. Miner
1872 - Joseph Feist, Henry Tropp
1873 - Joseph Fenner, William Hollinger
1874 - Francis Yundt, William Hollinger, Owen Moyer
1875 - Andrew Grover, Sr., Henry Boyer, William Koons
1876 - John Arner, William H. Knecht, William Koons
1877 - H. H. Musselman, William Hollinger
1878 - Henry Tropp, Oscar Arner
1879 - C. W. Lentz, John Arner, Sr.
1880 - W. H. Everett, Andrew Grover, William Schreiber
1881 - J. B. Seidel, William Schreiber, John Gilham
1882 - Benjamin R. Culton, J. B. Seidel, W. Koons
1883 - Henry Boyer, P. J. Kistler, W. Koons
1872 - Henry Boyer
1874 - S. R. Gilham
1876 - Charles B. Becker
1877 - Henry Boyer, Alfred Whittingham
1881 - John S. Miller
1882 - Henry Boyer
The History of the Counties of Lehigh & Carbon, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
Alfred Mathews & Austin N. Hungerford
Published in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1884
Transcribed from the original in November 2003 by
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