1836 An Exciting Year in Monroe County
Reporter in Residence
By just retiring to a corner of the Stroud Mansion and tuning in to conversations, I certainly can learn a lot.
For instance, everyone appears excited about the year 1836 in Monroe County history. Well, it didn’t take long for me to discover that this was the year that Monroe County was created. As I vaguely recall there was more than a little controversy about the decision for the location of the new county seat. I must set aside some time to read what is available on this topic. (See How Stroudsburg Became County Seat by Executive Director Amy Leiser.)
For now, I thought it would be interesting to see what was happening elsewhere in the country during this period. Martin Van Buren (Democrat) was elected president in 1836 and Texas won independence from Mexico. Construction was begun on the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital.
My research also found that this was the beginning of some major changes in our country. For one thing the United States was growing. There were now 25 states with Arkansas only recently being added and the Territory of Wisconsin formed.
The census of 1830 reported that the population of the United States was 12.8 million (12,866,020), a 33 percent increase over the previous census. The median age was 17.2, and 91.2 percent of the population lived in rural areas.
Stroudsburg, the county seat, was also growing. By 1840, Stroudsburg’s population was 345 and had 40 dwellings. The small family farm was still the means of a family’s livelihood here in Monroe County.
Canals were moving raw materials and manufactured goods across the country. Textile mills were more evident and the majority of the mill workers were women. In cities like Philadelphia and New York stores were beginning to specialize in the goods they sold. However, in Monroe County the general store was still the place to shop and share local news.
A new means of transportation would shortly replace the Canal Era. In 1830, Peter Cooper built a steam locomotive named “The Tom Thumb.” The race between the locomotive and a horse-drawn Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) railroad car demonstrated the superiority of steam power. The horse won only because mechanical failure stopped the locomotive. The Tom Thumb had led the race, rounding curves at 15 miles an hour.
McGuffey’s First and Second Readers were published, and children learned not only how to read but also the lessons of frugality, industry, and sobriety. The elegant Delmonico’s Restaurant in New York City offered a complete dinner for 10 cents, but the most expensive item on the “bill of fare” (menu) was “hamburger steak” for 12 cents. Also in 1836, Samuel F.B. Morse invented the telegraph and Samuel Colt invented the Colt revolver.
Research can certainly captivate you, but it is time to reshelve some books. I picked up a lot of information on the past, but I am looking forward to participating in the celebrations of Monroe County’s 175th Anniversary. I am certainly going to try to attend some of the special events throughout the county. If you look closely, you just might see me in your area.