The importance of Poconos history

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

By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association

Often, when we think about studying history, we think of sitting in a classroom, listening to a lecture or reading from a text, memorizing names, dates, locations, battlefield tactics, etc.

But the study of history is much, much more than that — it's personal, alive and relevant.

Each of us is here because past events shaped our world, our cultures and communities and our families. Because of this, we study history's lessons to understand how our shared and personal histories have shaped the present and will shape the future.

Respecting our past, learning from it, and applying those lessons to the future connects each of us to our ancestors and to our descendents. Asking questions such as, "Was my great-great-great grandfather a school teacher, a merchant or was he a farmer or a slave? helps each of us understand how we have arrived at the places we are now and helps us understand the direction in which we want our lives to proceed.

Connecting to our personal history is much more dynamic than memorizing dates in densely packed, voluminous textbooks.

Within the 611 square miles that make up Monroe County, we can explore our own histories, focusing on railroads and industry, early education, farming, early settlers, native peoples, local municipalities or any number of topics in which we find interest.

And, we can explore those histories by reading documents written a century or more ago, by visiting churches and cemeteries, taking a moment to read a roadside historical marker or by taking an excursion on a local railway or historic road.

There are so many opportunities to learn about local history, and these opportunities are here for all of us. In addition to the Monroe County Historical Association and the Monroe County Archives, there are numerous township and local-interest museums and historical destinations throughout the county. Whether your ancestors have been calling Monroe County home for generations (such as my son, who is ninth generation Monroe County) or you are the first in your family to move to the area (such as myself), your personal history is forever tied to Monroe County.

I encourage everyone to visit these sites, to become active in our local organizations and to continue to shape Monroe County's rich history.

The following articles from the Monroe County Historical Association archives were reprinted in the special 175th Anniversary section of the Pocono Record, and can be found in our Articles archive: