Brief history of Paradise and Eldred townships
By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association
Paradise Township was divided from a portion of Price Township on November 26, 1848, receiving its name for the beautiful natural scenery it included. Geographically speaking, Paradise Township is composed of hills that surround two large valleys which parallel each other through the length of the township. Long Swamp Creek (renamed Paradise Creek) runs through one valley, while the Timber Hill Creek (renamed Forest Hills Run) flows through the other valley. Together, these two waterways join the Brodhead Creek which eventually flows into the Delaware River.
Because of its exceptionally clean water and rich farmland, the Paradise Township area was sought after by early Europeans settlers. In one of its valleys were the Bush, Everhart, Kleckler, and Learn families, while the other valley was occupied by the Bowman, Dornblaser, Hilgert, Nauman, Setzer, Transue, and Wagner families. The two most predominant trades of early European settlers were farming and logging.
The earliest road in the township, built in 1825, connected Stroudsburg to Swiftwater and was known as the State Road. Today, the road is Route 191. Residents of Paradise Township had to travel to Stroudsburg where, “the usual necessities of life could be obtained.” That changed as the populous grew and in 1845, James Morgan and Edward Brown opened the first general store in Henryville. Four years later, in 1849, James Kintz opened a store in Paradise Valley. The first tavern was opened by George Bowman in 1838. The first grist mill was built by James Henry in 1835, and a small saw mill was opened by James Kintz in 1842.
Early settlers worshiped in private homes until 1826, when a log church offering Lutheran services was built for area parishioners. The church remained in use until 1856. The structure is no longer standing, but the small associated cemetery remains. In 1838, the first Evangelical Church meeting was held, but an actual church building was not constructed until 1852. Today, the church is known as the Keokee Chapel United Methodist Church. Jones Church (now St. Paul’s in Swiftwater) was erected in 1856 under the supervision of Henry Heller and John Rhodes and cost $800 to build.
Prior to 1834, children received an education in their homes as there were no organized schools. By 1880, four schools were located in the township. The first post office in Paradise Township was located at Paradise Valley in 1849, with John Edinger and David Edinger serving as the first postmasters.
With the introduction of the railroads in the mid-19th century, Paradise Township quickly became a vacation destination for tourists. The Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad stationed a depot in Henryville. With vacationers being dropped off in the heart of Paradise Township, many resorts and boarding houses of all size sprung up in the area. James Henry established the Henryville House in 1842. William Henry built the Park House, which was the largest boarding house in the Township, in 1880. The Wiscasset House was operated by Chase and Cattell and could accommodate 75 people.
The Paradise Brook Trout Hatchery, founded in 1902, is located in Paradise Township and is the oldest trout hatchery in the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
According to the 1880 census, 688 people lived in Paradise Township. Interestingly, in the Alfred Mathews book, History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, it was noted that of those 688 individuals, 25 individuals had “remarkably” attained the age of 75 years of age. In the 2010 census, 3,186 residents called Paradise Township home.
Early place names in Paradise Township
- East Swiftwater
▪ Paradise Valley
Eldred Township was named for Nathaniel B. Eldred who served as a Monroe County judge from 1849 to 1853. In May of 1851, the residents of the area now known as Eldred Township, petitioned the courts to create a new township. On September 23, 1851, the residents received their wish when Eldred Township was carved from part of Ross Township.
It is believed that the first European settler to come to the area was a Moravian missionary who arrived in 1742; he was Count Zinzendorf. In the area, Zinzendorf encountered Native Americans living in their village of Meniolagomeka which translates into “a tract of fertile land surrounded by barriers.” It was at this location that Zinzendorf and other established a missionary in hopes of converting the native people to Christianity. The missionary lasted until 1760.
Eldred Township has remained generally unchanged since early European colonization, and many of the residents today are descendants from the earliest settlers of the area. The early family names in Eldred Township include Barlieb, Berger, Christman, Frable, Frantz, Greenzweig, Kunkle, Silfies, Smale, and Smith.
The largest village is Kunkletown which is named for Joseph Kunkle, one of the earliest businessmen and hotel owners in Eldred Township. Abraham Smith erected a grist mill in 1762 along Prince’s Run (Princess Run). In 1812, Phillip Hess ran a gun factory for the U.S. Army. The gun factory closed in 1830, and Samuel Berger and Abraham Blecker began a tannery on the old gun factory property until the tannery closed in 1877. Thomas Snyder opened a store in 1832, and the Kunkletown post office wasn’t opened until 1864, with Joseph Johnson serving as the first postmaster.
Early education in Eldred Township took place in private homes until 1783, when a log structure school was built in Kunkletown. Mr. Noah was the first school teacher, and all of the lessons were taught in German. In 1885, the average monthly salary for school teachers was $23.
Residents worshiped in private homes as early as 1770, and it was not until October 27, 1779 when citizens could travel to the newly-built log Union Church, now known as St. Matthew’s United Church of Christ in Kunkletown, to worship. The original structure is no longer standing.
Historically a farming community, Eldred Township comprises a large concentration of Pennsylvania German farmers. The land is very fertile with the Aquashicola, Buckwha, and Frantz creeks draining into the Lehigh River to the west.
Interestingly, the residents of Eldred Township have generally not participated in Monroe County’s largest industry: the resort and vacation business. Eldred Township did support the New York and Philadelphia Brick Company which was the largest industry in the township at the time. Beginning in 1899, the factory produced bricks (roughly 2 million annually) and built the eleven-mile long Chestnut Ridge Railroad to transport the bricks to the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey for market.
In 1870, there were 931 people living within Eldred Township’s boundaries. Eldred Township currently has the smallest population of residents of all the townships in Monroe County, with the 2010 census reporting 2,910 residents.
Early place names in Eldred Township
▪ Smith’s Gap