Founded in 1830: Brief history of Price and Tobyhanna townships

Part 6 of a series of articles commemorating the 175th anniversary of Monroe County

By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association

Price Township

Subdivided out of Smithfield Township in 1830, Price Township was named for the first European settler in the area, John Price. Price had traveled northward from Bucks County, and in 1764, he settled on a tract of land that overlapped both Price and Barrett townships. Price Township is the smallest township in Monroe County in terms of both its geographic area and its human population. It extends roughly seven miles (north to south) by five miles (east to west).

While John Price was the first settler in the area, other early residents included the Michner, Posten, Deubler, Transue, Lesoine, Bush, Seese, Long, and Miller families. These early settlers sought out the rich land along the Brodhead Creek.

Price Township has never had an incorporated village or town located within its borders. The early roads were very few, and those roads that did exist were in very poor condition. According to Alfred Mathews’s book,
History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, even the streams located in Price Township had no bridges built to cross them, and all of the waterways had to be forded. However rugged it might have been, the oldest road in Price Township dates before 1786; the byway linked Stroudsburg and Newfoundland in Wayne County. This roadway followed the Brodhead Creek and traveled through Price Township. Today, Route 447 follows the historic route.

In 1810, the first schoolhouse was built in the township. The school was overseen by John Fulton. By the late 1800s, there were three schools in the township that served roughly 57 students. School was in session for five months out of the year, and teachers made $180 annually.

The most predominant industry in Price Township was lumbering. Saw mills were built to process the abundance of timber within the township’s borders. Those residents who did not work in the lumber industry worked as farmers.
McComas Chapel

In 1856, Methodist sermons began to be delivered in an old schoolhouse on the Price Farm. Eleven years later, in 1867, a small frame structure was constructed on land donated by Harrison Sebring that became the McComas Chapel. The name was chosen to honor the Church’s first minister, the Rev. N.D. McComas. The McComas cemetery is the only burial ground located in Price Township. It appears the earliest tombstones date before the 1850s, making the burial ground older than the associated church.

In the 1850 census, 340 individuals lived in Price Township. Today, according to the 2010 census report, 3,573 people live in the township.

Tobyhanna Township

Tobyhanna Township was formed in 1830 and was taken from parts of Coolbaugh Township. The township’s name means “stream lined with alders” which was taken from the Tobyhanna Creek, a tributary of the Lehigh River. Located in the northwestern portion of Monroe County, Tobyhanna Township features deep woods and swamps and is situated around 2,000 feet about sea level in an area known as the Pocono Plateau.

The earliest European settlers in the township were Jacob Blakeslee, William Hessler, and Ezra Hayes from Ohio, George Sox from New Jersey, Leonard Stoddard from England, Andrew Eschbach from Carbon County, Ira Winters from Connecticut, and Robert Newell from New York.

Hungry Hill Monument on Sullivan Trail
The oldest road was cut through the area in 1779. In June of that year, Gen. John Sullivan was ordered to march north through Pennsylvania into New York to “subdue” and “punish” the Iroquois Indians. The Iroquois were, at that time, allies with the British and had organized various raids in the northern frontier against the new nation. Sullivan and his army of 2,000 men began their march in Easton and traveled through present-day Tobyhanna Township and eventually into New York state.

Tobyhanna Township has long been a densely-forested area and timbering was the main occupation for residents. Many small waterways allowed for the freshly harvested timber to be transported downstream to larger markets in Easton. Because the land was so rich in forests and streams, wildlife and fishing opportunities were abundant and provided all of the necessary needs for developing settlements and sustaining early settlers.

Among the three contiguous settlements of Tomkinsville, Hauser’s Mill, and Millertown (now comprising Pocono Lake and Pocono Pines), one could find a post office, a hotel, three stores, two clothespin factories, two saw mills, a shoe peg factory, a blacksmith, a wheelwright shop and roughly fifty dwellings.

Because of the small population, the early residents of Tobyhanna Township worshiped at each other’s homes. When the need for a house of worship arose, two structures were erected in the township. Blakeslee boasted the first church which was built in 1852. This Methodist church was built at a cost of $1,600 and measured 40 by 50 feet in size. The second church was the Reformed church at Hauser’s Mills (Pocono Lake) which was built and dedicated in 1884.

The first schoolhouse was built in 1831 in the small village of Soxville. The first teacher was Miss Sarah Winters. In 1886, there were 14 schools where 549 students received an education. The school term was five months.

By the late 1800s, Tobyhanna Township began to draw tourists and vacationers who came to get away from the city by staying in the high elevations and enjoying fresh mountain air, which was said to improve overall health. There were two early hotels located in Tobyhanna Township; one was owned by Catherine Shiffer, and the other was owned by John Elminiger. The Inn at Pocono Manor was built in 1902 by the Quakers.

The population of Tobyhanna Township in 1830 was 279 people. In 2010, 8,554 people called Tobyhanna Township home.

Villages of Tobyhanna Township:
  • Pocono Pines
    Pocono Lake
    Pocono Manor
    Naomi Pines