Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg founded in the 1730s

Part 10 of a series of articles commemorating the 175th anniversary of Monroe County

Editor’s Note: The Borough of Stroudsburg’s history began about 1730, when a diverse group of settlers started to arrive from the area of Kingston, N.Y. Some of these settlers purchased land directly from the Native Americans. In the 1740s, the proprietors of the Colony of Pennsylvania issued land warrants for land in what is now the borough. In 1748, the Moravians established a Mission on lower Main Street on land warranted by Daniel Brodhead.

By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association

Borough of Stroudsburg

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.

Jacob Stroud was born in New Jersey in 1735 and was raised in Smithfield Township. At a young age, Stroud found himself working as an apprentice, learning the farming trade under Nicholas DePuy, a large land owner and the first European settler in present-day Shawnee-on-Delaware.

When he reached the age of 21, Stroud enlisted as a Private in the French and Indian War. Immediately following the War, Stroud married Elizabeth McDowell, Nicholas DePuy’s granddaughter. The young couple started married life with very little; they owned no land. Their only property was a wagon and a team of horses that Jacob used to transport supplies to Fort Pitt, near Pittsburgh.

This, however, was not a successful venture, and Jacob became employed by Able James, who had hired the young Stroud to transport goods northward through the wilderness to Shohola, Pike County. James loaned Stroud money to purchase 300 acres of land three miles from present-day Stroudsburg. On this land were a grist mill, a homestead and a barn.

Stroud quickly repaid James and became a successful businessman, acquiring a great deal of land. It is reported that when Jacob Stroud died in 1804, he owned 4,000 acres of land. Stroud built his home in Stroudsburg in 1769.

In 1775, Stroud enlisted in the War for Independence as a captain and rose to the rank of colonel. In 1776, he was elected as a member of the Constitutional Congress. By 1779, Stroud began in earnest to develop the town of Stroudsburg. Stroud began to sell plots of land by placing advertisements in Easton and Philadelphia newspapers.

Stroud Mansion, 1960s

The earliest photograph of the Stroud Mansion, taken in the 1860s

Officially incorporated on February, 5, 1815, Stroudsburg had already established itself as an up-and-coming town. Daniel Stroud, Jacob Stroud’s second-oldest son, moved into the Stroud Mansion in 1797 at his father’s request to help develop the town. Daniel was instrumental in laying out the town streets, donating land for schools and churches, and assisting his father in selling plots of land to families and businesses.

Monroe County was formed on April 1, 1836 from portions of Northampton and Pike counties. Until 1836, Stroudsburg had been officially located in Northampton County. When the new county was formed, a new county seat had to be chosen. Immediately, three towns were suggested to serve as the new county’s seat: Dutotsburg (now Delaware Water Gap); Kellersville in Hamilton Township, and; Stroudsburg. After two elections, Stroudsburg was chosen as the seat of the newly-formed county. The elections were fraught with controversy, and rumors of election fraud resulted in the arrest of two members of the election board. All of the charges were eventually dropped, and Stroudsburg remained the county seat.

The first school in Stroudsburg dated prior to 1800 and was located on Keever’s Hill. The log structure was built by the Stroud family, and the first teacher was Mr. Curtis. Unlike other area schools, at which lessons were taught in German, this school’s language was English. The school was later removed to Green Street, now present day 8th Street.

Industries in the borough were many. The oldest tannery in Stroudsburg began in 1822 and was operated by Charles and Jacob Stroud, Daniel Stroud’s sons. The first woolen mill began in 1865 and was run by Mr. Kitson, Mr. Walker, and Mr. Davis.

Daniel Stroud built the first flour mill in 1823 along the Pocono Creek. Another flour mill was erected along the McMichaels Creek in 1863 and was operated by Mr. Heistand and Mr. Gardner. William Wallace built the first saw mill on the McMichaels Creek in 1865.

The Stroudburg Gazette was the town’s first newspaper. It was issued in 1823 and was owned by John P. Robeson and Co. The Monroe Democrat was in existence prior to 1836, but its first issue date is unclear. It was operated by James Rafferty. The Jeffersonian, owned by Richard Nugent, began running weekly editions on January 15, 1840.

A number of places of worship were located within the Borough of Stroudsburg. It is believed that Methodist services began as early as 1791. The Presbyterian Church of Stroudsburg was organized on August 15, 1827. St. John’s Lutheran Church began offering services on December 23, 1886.

From its humble start as a small log cabin built by Peter LaBar, Stroudsburg has grown to become the administrative center of Monroe County. The census report for Stroudsburg in 1840 states that 345 individuals were living within the borough limits. By 2010, the population increased to 5,567.

Washington Street, East Stroudsburg

Washington Street, East Stroudsburg

Borough of East Stroudsburg

The area now known as East Stroudsburg has a rich and early history that dates back to the 18th century. East Stroudsburg was originally named Dansbury after Daniel Brodhead who settled there with his family in 1737.

Daniel Brodhead was born April 23, 1693, in Marbletown, N.Y. In 1737, Brodhead purchased land in present-day East Stroudsburg, near the area where Pocono Medical Center now stands.

Daniel, along with his wife, Esther, and six children built a home on 1,000 acres alongside Brodhead Creek, then known as Analomink River). The property was known as Dansbury Manor. A few years later, Brodhead added to his land holdings by purchasing an additional 500 acres on the west side of the river and into present-day Stroudsburg.

The area in which the Brodhead’s settled was considered wilderness. The only neighbor of the Brodhead family was Nicholas DePuy and his family, who had settled along the Delaware River in 1727 near contemporary Shawnee-on-Delaware.

Often, Moravian missionaries would travel through the area and lodge at the Brodhead home. These missionaries would travel back and forth from Bethlehem in the south to northern destinations, including Dutchess County, N.Y. Daniel Brodhead supported the missionaries and their way of thinking. He and his wife converted to the Moravian faith and donated 3½ acres for them to build a small chapel. In October 1744, Moravian missionary James Burnside built a small log cabin for that purpose and named it Dansbury Mission.

On June 20, 1755, Daniel Brodhead became ill and traveled to Bethlehem for medical treatment. By July 22, Brodhead had died and was buried in the Moravian Cemetery in Bethlehem. Brodhead's five sons (the oldest of whom was 26) were left to run the family estate.

Because of increasingly strained relationships with the native people, the Dansbury Mission was attacked by more than 200 Native Americans on Dec. 11, 1755. The Dansbury manor was quickly fortified, and Brodhead's five sons, Charles, Daniel, Garret, John and Luke — as well as Brodhead's youngest daughter, Ann Garton Brodhead, who was only 12 years old — took up arms and fired through windows of the manor. While Daniel Brodhead's children successfully defended the family home, the Dansbury Mission was destroyed and never rebuilt.

The area that would become East Stroudsburg remained a farming community for almost a century until the development and arrival of the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad in 1856. The town grew rapidly because it was situated along the mainline of the railroad. After the rail line opened, the town became known as “East Stroudsburg by the Railroad.”

The community’s population grew so rapidly with the introduction of the railroad that the courts found it necessary to incorporate the Borough of East Stroudsburg on May 23, 1870. An early map shows the original borough consisting of 590 acres with 51 houses. The Borough of East Stroudsburg’s first election took place on June 11, 1870 at the Analomink House, and Isaac T. Puterbaugh was elected the first burgess.

Because of the increased traffic caused by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad, a great many businesses, industries, and hotels came into existence, and East Stroudsburg became the industrial center of the county. The first general store was opened in 1863 and was operated by Thomas Stemples; C.S. Detrick began the first drug store on Crystal Street. The first mercantile store was owned by Alexander Loder and opened in 1868. Loder also served as a justice of the peace, postmaster, and a member of the school board.

W.E. Henry and Company began a match factory in 1882, and A.F. Kistler opened a cigar factory two years later. John Burt established a brewery in 1867; the brewery specialized in ale and porter brews and produced 15,000 barrels per year. William Burrows and Milton Yetter ran the successful East Stroudsburg Glass Factory that employed 100 men and produced 3,600 bottles daily, in all shapes and sizes. John Ryle and Company managed the silk mill in 1885, and Stephen Kistler ran the Elk Horn Tannery in 1869.

Three places of worship were located within the Borough of East Stroudsburg to tend to the spiritual needs of the growing community. While the East Stroudsburg Methodist Church wasn’t built until 1874, it is believed that people of the Methodist faith began worshipping in private homes as early as 1871. The East Stroudsburg Presbyterian Church was incorporated in 1876, and St. Matthew’s Catholic Church was dedicated on August 28, 1870.

The East Stroudsburg State Normal School (now East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania) began offering classes on September 4, 1893. The enrollment at that time was 320 students who were taught by a faculty of 15.

The Borough of East Stroudsburg began with the Brodhead family of eight individuals settling in the 1730s. Since then, the town has become the largest of the four boroughs in Monroe County. The population when East Stroudsburg became a borough in 1870 was 500 people. By the 2010 census, 9,840 individuals called East Stroudsburg home.