Erin Munley

LEO Internship


Brief History of Bethlehem Area

-1740: Moravians leave Georgia with Reverend George Whitfield. Whitfield invited the Moravians to settle on his land that was "almost identical with the present Upper Nazareth Township." Before the end of 1740, Whitfield had an argument with some of the Moravians and he forced them off his land. The Moravians decided to purchase their own land on the South Side of the Lehigh River in order to distance themselves from any neighbors not practicing the same religion as they did. (Southern Bethlehem Semi-Centennial: Souvenir History 1865-1915 article by P.J. Hall - pgs. 5-6 — Bethlehem Room)

-Spring 1741: "Moravians commenced the building of Bethlehem." (Stories of Bethlehem and the Moravians compiled by Elizabeth L. Myers. This information is in the section: "The Old Moravian Sun Inn" by William Cornelius Reichel - pg. 7 — Bethlehem Room)

-(1743) Moravians purchased 274 acres of land on south side of Lehigh River for $350. The deed was dated July 3, 1746, but the purchase appears to have been made in 1743. (Southern Bethlehem Semi-Centennial: Souvenir History 1865-1915 article by P.J. Hall - pg. 6 — Bethlehem Room)

-March 10, 1746: petition was presented to Bucks County for the formation of Bethlehem


"To the Honorable the Court now met together in Newtown:

The Humble Petition of the Inhabitants of Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Guadenthal, in Bucks County, sheweth: That your petitioners being desirous of settling in a township to be also called Bethlehem, between the east and west branches of the river Delaware: and whereas, there will be more townships in the forks of said river, that each of them may have a proper share of barren land for the use of roads, as well as good land; therefore . . .

The petition was read, and it was agreed upon, that they might have a township; but it was not surveyed before 1762."

(History of the Lehigh Valley by M.S. Henry - pg. 195 - Bethlehem Room)

-March11, 1752: General Assembly made Northampton County out of Bucks County

Northampton County included what are now the counties of: "Northampton, Lehigh, Carbon, Monroe, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wayne, Pike, Sullivan, Wyoming, and Susquehanna and part of the counties of Schuylkill, Columbia, Lycoming, and Bradford." (Southern Bethlehem Semi-Centennial: Souvenir History 1865-1915 article by P.J. Hall - pg. 20 — Bethlehem Room)

-1812: Allen family was successful in its attempt to form Lehigh County from Northampton County. The goal of the Allen family was to make a new county so that Allentown would be more profitable. (Southern Bethlehem Semi-Centennial: Souvenir History 1865-1915 article by P.J. Hall - pg. 50 — Bethlehem Room)

-March 6, 1845: "An act to incorporate village of Bethlehem, in the county of Northampton, into a borough was approved." (A History of Bethlehem Pennsylvania by Joseph Mortimer Levering - pg. 680 — Bethlehem Room)

*At this time, Moravians permit people outside of their religion to purchase land and settle in area

- Following Information found in The History of an Industrial Community by Thomas Patrick Vadasz — Bethlehem Room:

*In 1894, Fountain Hill adjoined South Bethlehem on the west and, in 1901, Northampton Height adjoined South Bethlehem on the East (207).

*In 1904 West Bethlehem Added to Bethlehem–"Bethlehem now had the distinction of being the only borough in Pennsylvania to be located in two counties: Lehigh and Northampton" (209).

*On July 10, 1917 (after many years of opposition from South Bethlehem), the Governor of PA granted a charter for a new city of Bethlehem–consolidating Bethlehem with South Bethlehem (225).

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