Happy 200th Birthday, Stroudsburg!
View of Stroudsburg in 1842, showing site of Fort Hamilton.
Monroe County Historical Association
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.
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. Able 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.
Officially incorporated on February, 6, 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 before 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, in 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.
The Borough of Stroudsburg is planning a 200th celebration in conjunction with StroudFest on Saturday, September 5, 2015. Visit www.borough.stroudsburg.pa.us for more information or to view the schedule of events.