Monroe County's off-the-beaten-path gems

Part of a special anniversary section
published in the Pocono Record on April 1, 2011,
as Monroe County turned 175.

If you think all you need to know about history you learned in junior high, think again.

Sure, you can win points playing Trivial Pursuit or watching ”Jeopardy’ if you know how many children Paul Revere had or what beverage was promoted by President Jimmy Carter's brother.

(The answers are: 16 children and Billy Beer.)

Monroe County has some history that is not only worth reading about but visiting, too.

Here are some off-the-beaten-path places to visit:

The Devil‘s Hole

Where: From Route 940, follow Devils Hole Road into State Game Lands 221 in Paradise Township

Significance: The Devil's Hole is a narrow, rocky and deep canyon. Devil's Hole Creek forms the canyon, and there is a network of hiking trails.

Folklore surrounds the area known as The Devil's Hole. The name comes from a large lake that used to exist in the area and was reportedly washed away in the flood of 1955. According to local stories, this lake was bottomless, and anyone who dared swim in the lake would sink and go straight to hell.

According to the archives at Monroe County Historical Association, there are a number of ruins along the trail including:

  • Ruin 1: Residence once known as "Seven Pines Lodge" that was washed out in the flood of 1955. The legend tells that the area was named "Seven Pines Mountain" for seven early settlers who were hanged from seven pine trees by seven American Indians.
  • Ruin 2: Power dam/powerhouse. Also washed away in the flood.
  • Ruin 3: Williams farmhouse.
  • Ruin 4: A sanitarium was built in 1910 and burned down in 1911. The foundation and chimney still stand.

Norton Mausoleum

Where: Stroudsburg Cemetery, Dreher Avenue, Stroudsburg

Significance: Col. Emery Ebenezer Norton (1816-1901) and his wife, Jeanette Norton, are interred in this prominent temple-style mausoleum in Stroudsburg Cemetery. Norton left home at age 16 — with only 17 cents in his pocket — to make his way in the world.

Norton worked in a law office and, by age 20, was admitted to the Bar. He purchased the law office and ran it by himself. In 1861, Norton enlisted in the Civil War with Cassius M. Clay, a veteran of the Mexican American War, and his battalion to protect the White House, President Abraham Lincoln and Washington, D.C.

Immediately following the Civil War, Norton left the Army and traveled to New Orleans, La., where he opened a law office. While in Louisiana, Norton's law practice thrived; he handled bankruptcy cases for Louisiana and Mississippi.

In 1867, the Norton family came to Stroudsburg and purchased the 183-acre John Malvern farm on Dreher Avenue near present-day Glenbrook Golf Club. The following year, the Nortons had an extensive addition built on the side of the old farmhouse that featured a three-story castlelike wall and tower, long thin windows, and a balcony. Many locals referred to the property as Norton Castle.

In 1948, the tombs were vandalized. Rumor had it that the Nortons were buried with valuable jewels. Edward L. Burnett, great-grandson of E.E. and Jeanette Norton, wrote in his book, "Branches":

"The stone doors of the mausoleum are kept locked these days to prevent vandals from entering the tomb. I remember when the doors were left open, and only a gate of iron bars separated an onlooker from the sepulchral vaults inside. It thrilled me as a boy to peer into the tomb and see staring vacantly back at me a life-sized copper bust of Col. Norton, his full beard spreading halfway down his chest."

More on E.E. Norton

Shawnee Presbyterian Church

Where: Shawnee Church Road, Shawnee-on-Delaware

Significance: Started in 1752, Shawnee Presbyterian Church boasts the oldest, longest-standing congregation in Monroe County. The initials of the Old Stone Church's building committee are at the east side of the Foundation:
  • N.D.P. — Nicholas DePui
  • S.D.P. — Samuel DePui
  • A.V.K. — Abraham Van Kampen

The church was expanded in 1893, and several gravestones were used in the foundation at the rear of the sanctuary.

Monuments for Moravian settlements

Where: To get to Meniolagomeka in Kunkletown, take Kunkletown Road to the general store. Turn and follow the road up the hill. At the fork, bear left towards Smith Gap. The monument is on the right, in a garden area.

To get to Wechquetank in Gilbert, follow Route 209 South to First National Bank of Palmerton. Turn left and follow the road to the general store. Turn right. Drive 1/4; mile and cross a little bridge. The monument is contained in a small wrought-iron fence across from a barn.

Significance: There are two monuments in the West End of Monroe County signifying the location of former Moravian Indian villages, Meniolagomeka (1749-1755) and Wechquetank (1760-1763).

During the 1750s and 1760s, Moravian church missionaries established two missions at these villages to convert American Indians to Christianity. The missions were abandoned after the outbreak of the French and Indian War and ongoing hostilities between farmers and Indians. There is nothing left of the missions today.

More on the Moravians

A. Mitchell Palmer house

Where: 712 Thomas St., Stroudsburg

Significance: Although Alexander Mitchell Palmer was born in Luzerne County in 1872, his family relocated to Stroudsburg when he was young. After graduating from Swarthmore College, Palmer returned home to Stroudsburg and became a partner in law with Judge John B. Storm. Palmer became active in numerous civil affairs, clubs and organizations, and in 1912 began his active role in national politics and supported Woodrow Wilson for president.

For receiving his support, Wilson offered Palmer the post of Secretary of War, but because of his Quaker background, Palmer declined the position. In 1919, Wilson appointed Palmer the 50th U.S. attorney general. Palmer served as such until 1921.

More on A. Mitchell Palmer