Welcome to Pennsylvania Genealogy Trails!
The History of Monroe County PA

Transcribed by Nancy Piper


Monroe County Organized

This county was erected out of Northampton and Pike counties, by an act of the Legislature, passed April 1, 1836. It was enacted, "that the township of Ross, Chestnuthill, Tobyhanna, Pokono, Hamilton, Stroud and Smithfield, north of the Blue mountain in Northampton county, together with the townships of Middle Smithfield, Price and Coolbaugh, in Pike county, shall be, and the same are hereby declared to be erected into a separate county, to be called Monroe"* (*In 1843, Carbon county was erected when Penn Forest township, in Monroe county, was included in Carbon.)

By the same act, Moses W. Cooolbaugh, Benjamin V. Bush, William Van Buskirk, Michael Shoemaker and Joseph Track, were appointed trustees, whose duty it (shall be) was to receive written offers of donations, in real estate and money, towards defraying the expenses of the lands and public buildings for the use of the county. The trustees had several offers made them of sites for the county seat; among others, was Kellerstown, in Hamilton township, on the north and south turnpike. Stroundsburg, however, was considered, by the trustees, the most favorable location for the county seat.

Monroe county, as at present limited, is about twenty-five miles in length and the same in breadth, making an area of about six hundred square miles. Embracing four hundred thousand acres of land, the greater proportion of which is forest, and much of it unseated land. Thousands of acres were lately sold "to pay the arrears of taxes due thereon and the costs of such sales." In the majority of townships, lands of this kind were offered for sale by the county commissioners, in 1844.

Monroe is generally very mountainous; much of it is occupied by the desolate ranges of the Pokono mountain, and prominent ridges of a coarse fossiliferous sandstone. The geological features of the county are varied and rugged. Beginning on the south side, there is the lofty Kittatinny mountain, which is rent by the well-known Delaware Water Gap, with its depressions at the Wind Gap and Smith's Gap. Immediately along the north side of the Blue mountain is a narrow belt of red and variegated shale, succeeded on the north by a limestone belt of no great thickness; then follows the coarse fossilferous sandstone, forming a sharp, rocky ridge, nearly parallel with the mountain, forming a line of irregular, sharp, rugged hills, which range south-westward from Stroudsburg. On the north side of this is found an olive slate formation, the lower beds of which are in some places so calcareous as to form a rough, slaty limestone, containing masses of chert, or black flint, and also shells and other fossil remains. Approaching towars the foot of the Pokono mountain, we meet the red sandstones and shales, next in position, above the olive slate; these form the southern front of the mountain, and extend through the country immediately south-east of it. Passing over Pokono, we meet, in the rocky elevated region beyond its summit, the hard coarse sandstone.* (*C. B. Trego, Esq.)

In the north-western part of the county, on the head branches of the Lehigh river, lies an immense body of wettish land, covered with dark, dense, forest of lofty pine. This region is called the "Shades of Death" or "Great Swamp," by the forlorn fugitives from Wyoming, in 1778. The part of the county is still comparatively a wilderness, and most of its lands are classed as "unseated," The opening of the Lehigh navigation, however, is attracting many lumber-men to this region, and ere long will become a brisk and lively place. This portion is very sparsely inhabited; the great bulk of the population is to be found along the valley of the Delaware and Broadhead's creek and between the Blue mountain and a belt of some five miles wide, lying between the Pokono and Kittatinny, embracing four hundred thousand acres of land, the greater proportion of which is forest, and much of it unseated land. Thousands of acres were lately sold "to pay the arrears of taxes due thereon and the costs of such sales." In the majority of townships, lands of this kind were offered for sale by the county commissioners, in 1844.

Settlements had been made here a century ago. The Minisink settlements, partly within this county, may have been commenced two hundred years ago. This settlement is along the flats of the Delaware river, extending into this county, and were undoubtedly made by the Dutch from Esopus, on the Hudson river, in the state of New York.*

The population of this country, as to origin or ancestry, is mixed. In the southern and western parts, the people are German, and still speak that language. About Stroudsburg, the first settlers were friends, and of English descent; in the east, Dutch, French, and one or two Spanish families. Among these are Van Etten, Depui and Gunsaules; but the Dutch, French and Spanish are not now spoken by any of their descendents.

The following extracts are taken from the records of the court of Quarter Sessions, viz:

At a court of Quarter Sessions of the peace, held at Stroudsburg, in and for the county of Monroe, on the nineteenth day of December, A.D. 17836, before the Hon. David Scott, President, Jacob Brown and John T. Bell, Esquires, associates of the said county, came into court and made return of the several writs and precepts, to him directed, and made returned here the same day; and also produced a certain venire facias, juratores, with a panel thereto annexed, which being called over, the following persons appeared, to wit:

1. Sroud J. Hollenshead, foreman

2. John Boys, Philip S. Brown, Frederick Knecht, Joseph Felker, Samuel Rees, James Van Buskirk, Andrew Learn, George Rouse, John Yetter, Jacob Shaffer, George Buskirk, Joseph Vanakep, Samuel Myer, James Morgan, Philip Krasge, George Flyde, Peter Lander and Madison Decker, who were severally sworn or affirmed, well and truly to enquire for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in and for the body of the county of Monroe.

In 1837, there were thirty-two licensed public houses.

[Source: History of Northampton, Lehigh, Monroe, Carbon and Schuylkill counties : containing a brief history of the first settlers, topography of townships, notices of leading events, incidents, and interesting facts in the early history of these counties, with an appendix .... Lancaster, Pa.: G. Hills, 1845, Chapter XI, Page 145-148]


Back to Pennsylvania Trails History and Genealogy