Founded in 1840s: Brief history of Polk and Jackson townships
August 08 , 2011
By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association
Polk Township is located in the western portion of Monroe County and was formed on September 26, 1846, when it was removed from a portion of Chestnuthill Township. The newly-formed township was named for James K. Polk, the 11th president of the United States. Polk served one term as president from 1845-1849, and was seated in office when the township was formed.
It is believed that the first European settler in Polk Township was Philip Shupp who built a small log structure home around 1750. Most of the earliest European settlers in present-day Polk Township were of German ancestry and included Conrad Dotter, Conrad Dreisbach, William Kresge, John Kunkle and John Serfass. The land is very fertile, attracting many farmers to this portion of Monroe County.
Roughly one hundred years prior to the creation of Polk Township, early settlers faced an uncertain life. Native peoples inhabited the land, and tensions between European settlers and Indians escalated during the French and Indian War (1756-1763).
Due to this tension, Benjamin Franklin ordered forts to be built to protect the European colonists; Fort Norris was located in present-day Polk Township. While the structure no longer stands, it is believed the fort was located behind where the Polk Elementary school along Route 209 stands today. Fort Norris was named for Isaac Norris who was the Speaker of the Provincial Assembly. The fort was commanded by Captain Weatherhold.
Frederick Hoeth and his family were Moravians who settled on 700 acres of land along the Pohopoco Creek in 1750. Five years later, in 1755, Hoeth and his family members were either captured or murdered following an Indian raid on his house. In 1760, the Moravians, a Protestant religious sect from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, established two mission settlements in Monroe County; one of those missions was located in Polk Township. The Moravians named this mission, “Wechquetank” and its purpose was to convert native people to Christianity. Because of the ever-growing hostilities between the farmers and the Indians, Wechquetank was abandoned in 1763 after only three years.
The first school was built circa 1830 in Kresgeville on land that had been donated by Nicholas Hawk. In 1855, Edward Hawk discovered a deposit of slate in Polk Township. He excavated a quarry to mine the slate and sold the slate to area schools, so students had tablets on which to write their lessons.
The earliest road through Polk Township was the State Route, now Route 209, and the first church was St. Timothy Evangelical Church, which was built in 1866. The largest village in Polk Township was Kresgeville. Within the town limits in 1880, there were stores, hotels, two gristmills, four blacksmith shops, a shoemaker, a saddle shop, and a furniture shop. In 1940, the population was 1, 005. By 2010, 7,874 people resided in Polk Township.
The villages of Polk Township:
- Dotters Corners
Jackson Township was incorporated on December 13, 1843 and was likely named for the 7th president of the United States, Andrew Jackson. Court-appointed commissioners Peter Shaw, Stogdell S. Stokes, and John Huston were responsible for creating the boundary lines to create Jackson Township and separate it from Pocono Township.
The men reported:
Beginning at a stone on the Hamilton Township line, one hundred and eighteen perches west of the Pocono Bridge, near Jermey Mackey’s, and running thence north forty-five degrees west seven miles and one hundred and twenty-two perches to a stone in Tobyhanna Township line west of White Oak Run. We are also of the opinion that a new township is necessary for the accommodation of the citizens residing within the bounds of the said district, and accordingly set off that part of Pocono Township southwest of the above mentioned line as a new township, to be called Jackson Township.
The first settler to reside permanently in the area now known as Jackson Township was Frederick Miller. Miller purchased 400 acres of land prior to 1765 and established a saw mill. Following the Miller family, other early settlers found their way to Jackson Township. ohn Possinger settled in 1811 and established the first school, while Benjamin Van Horn, who arrived in 1812, began a lumber business. Michael Butz came in 1838 and erected the only grist mill, and Joseph Rinker built the local tavern. Many farmers also chose to settle in Jackson Township including the Hay, Wolbert, Doll, Woodling, Kresge, and Singer families.
The first general store in Jackson Township was located at Jackson Corners and was run by John Osterhock. Jackson Corners also boasted the first post office in the township. The post office began offering mail service in 1861 under W. H. Rhinehart, the first postmaster. The first school was a log structure. There is very little information known about this old structure except that is was known as the Middle Borough School District.
Lumbering and farming were the main industries for the people of Jackson Township; the township’s fertile soil and abundant trees drew many settlers to the area. Ice harvesting in Jackson Township’s two major lakes also played an important role in the early industrial history. Trout Lake and Mountain Spring Lake supplied ice not only for local businesses but for home use as well. Icehouses lined the shores of these lakes and many tons of ice were harvested each winter. Railroads were used to ship the ice to destinations as far away as New York City.
The Wilkes-Barre and Eastern Railroad traveled through Jackson Township with a stop in the small town of Rinkers, named for the family that lived nearby. The far-reaching railroad caused significant expansion in the agricultural industry by opening new markets. Business in the township flourished, contributing to the township’s growth and prosperity.
The census report for Jackson Township in 1900 was 711 individuals; by 2010 that number had increased to 7,033.
Villages of Jackson Township: