Monroe County Historical Association

Stroud Mansion Museum & Library • Stroudsburg, Pa.

Keystone Shortway (Interstate 80) comes to Monroe County

Every day, thousands of motorists travel Interstate 80 through Monroe County. Interstate 80 traverses the United States, beginning in the east in New Jersey and ending in the west in California, and 311 of the nearly 3,000 miles of the highway are located in Pennsylvania. Plans for what became known as the Keystone Shortway began in the early 1950s. Read More...

First Laurel Blossom Time Festival held in 1931

Every June in the Poconos, mountain laurel flowers bloom. A relative of the rhododendron, mountain laurel blossoms delicate pink and white flowers that can only be seen for a few short weeks in early summer in our area — deep in forests, along our mountain streams, and lining our many small country roads. In the early 1930s, a committee was formed to celebrate this flower and to bring visitors to the region, and in 1931, the first “Laurel Blossom Time in the Poconos” festival was held. Read More...

‘Julia’ honors those who served in World War I

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first observed on May 30, 1868, just three years following the Civil War. General John Logan proclaimed the day as an important opportunity to honor the graves of soldiers by decorating them with flowers. Read More...

John Summerfield Staples: In the Shadow of History | Legend and Legacy

Many have risen to positions of power and glory only to end up as footnotes in seldom-read history books. John Summerfield Staples of Stroudsburg is different — he’s always been a footnote. His position as President Lincoln’s representative in the Union Army is certainly unique in military history, but attempts to recognize and honor him have not exactly ignited the public’s interest, although there have been some highlights. Read More...

1948: Pocono Mountains alive with the sound of music

On December 8, 1948, the Von Trapp Family Singers — whose story was made so famous in the movie “The Sound of Music” — performed in the auditorium at East Stroudsburg State Teachers College (now East Stroudsburg University) to a sold-out crowd. The Baroness Maria Von Trapp, two sons, and six daughters blended “their voices in beautiful harmony” while adorned in “colorful Bavarian costumes.” Read More...

Happy 200th Birthday, Stroudsburg!

The Borough of Stroudsburg’s history began in 1730 as Peter LaBar established his homestead, a log cabin, on the corner of present-day Main and Ninth Streets. Unfortunately, the log cabin is no longer standing. It was not until decades later, when Jacob Stroud purchased land in the area, that Stroudsburg emerged as a developed town. Read More...

Keeping warm - colonial style

Nowadays, when one walks into a chilly room, it’s easy to take for granted that with a simple push of a button or a turn of a dial on the thermostat, the room will warm in a matter of moments. Prior to 20th and 21st Century conveniences, all homes were kept warm by burning wood (or maybe coal) in fireplaces. Chopped and seasoned logs placed on a burning fire were the only source of heat for our ancestors. If you’ve ever cut firewood with a chainsaw and split it with a gas-powered splitter, you know how much work preparing for winter can be. Needless to say, it took quite a bit more time and energy to prepare firewood to heat a room 200+ years ago when hand saws and axes were an individual’s only tools. Read More...

John Summerfield Staples: In the Shadow of History | Joy and Sorrow

John Summerfield Staples returned to Washington D.C. from a lengthy and stressful prisoner guarding sojourn to Ohio and found the Capitol celebrating the re-election of President Lincoln. He wondered how Stroudsburg would be marking the event. Parades and flag-waving were probably not on the agenda. Read More...

It’s the most wonderful time … to bake cookies

What is Christmastime without cookies? The tradition of baking holiday cookies began in the early 1800s and was brought to America by the Pennsylvania Dutch. They embraced the Christmas spirit of giving by baking hundreds of cookies in a variety of shapes to share. The cookie cutters they used were handmade of tin by local tinsmiths. These cookie cutters were used to create the unique cookie shapes found throughout many Pennsylvania Dutch homes. Read More...

Railroad tower in East Stroudsburg

Near the corner of Lackawanna and Analomink streets in East Stroudsburg stands a strange, small building located just next to the railroad tracks. With a footprint of only about 15 by 21 feet, the tower stands two stories tall. This is the railroad signal tower. With its many windows in the upper floor, the tower provided a man working inside with a clear view of the tracks. The man could also be easily seen from below, but the structure was private, not open to the public, and perhaps there was a bit of a mystery about what the building was for and why the man was working there. Read More...

Dying in Monroe County: Old time disease names

As Halloween looms, there is always a feeling of macabre in the air. Neighborhood children will don costumes of zombies, mummies, or ghosts in hopes of trick-or-treat goodies. But the genealogical and historical importance of death cannot be taken lightly. Read More...

John Summerfield Staples: In the Shadow of History | A Meeting with President Lincoln

Washington, D.C., July 1864 — Life in the nation’s capital was unlike life in Monroe County’s seat of government. John Staples, Summerfield’s father, experienced a period of adjustment, but was now accustomed to the traffic, heat, humidity, and the crowds of people, to say nothing of the mosquito population. Read More...

Education in yesteryear

Educating the younger generation has always been important to Monroe County residents; the earliest schools in the area date back to the late 1700s. This commitment to youngsters’ schooling notwithstanding, present-day education is quite a bit different than education was in the past. Read More...

Stroud Theater born out of an idea of an opera house

In 1910, several citizens of the Stroudsburg community created the Stroudsburg Industrial Club to “cultivate the social side, as well as to look after the business welfare of our town. The idea being to rent and furnish suitable quarters, where the members can meet for recreation or business.” Within a year’s time, the members of the club had come up with their first idea to help better the community. They wanted to erect an opera house within the borough limits of Stroudsburg. Read More...

John Summerfield Staples: In the Shadow of History | Retreat to Stroudsburg

New Bern, N.C., May 1863 — Home and family seemed a distant memory. In the delirium of fever, brought on by typhoid, John Summerfield Staples struggled to recall the events of the past seven months. He concentrated on separating reality from dreams. There was no doubt about the reality of death. They had buried three men, boys really, along the route of march, all lost to the same disease he now lay stricken with. Read More...