Big excitement – Stroudsburg Bicentennial!

Reporter in Residence
Monroe Mouse

Stroudsburg is 200 years old this year! How historic! Of course, we know people and mice were living in the area WAY before that.
Two important years related to this year’s celebration are: 1815 (of course!), the year Stroudsburg’s charter was accepted by the state legislature; and 1836, the year Monroe County came into being — so I was interested in finding out what was happening on the Pocono frontier at that time.

After the Revolutionary War, many people from New York, New Jersey and southern Pennsylvania moved to the Poconos. Villages cropped up where “first settlers” found good land and ample water. Soon other newcomers added to their populations. Antoine Dutot, a French refugee, founded Dutotsburg (now Delaware Water Gap) in the late 1700s, George Keller set up Kellersville in Cherry Valley in 1812, and in 1833 Joseph Barton’s settlement became ... you guessed it ... Bartonsville.

Jacob Stroud, “the original proprietor of Stroudsburg,” returned from war and quickly became a successful businessman and landowner in the area soon to be known as “the Strouds.”

Jacob’s second son, Daniel, who worked as a lawyer in Easton until he was 28, shared his father’s interest in creating a pleasant and prosperous community and returned home in 1797 to help. By 1810, Daniel laid out wide streets in a grid system and began selling lots “as occasion offered.” Buildings had to be set back 30 feet from the sidewalk, creating an orderly, open and airy settlement.

Streets were named after members of the Stroud family, like Sarah, Ann, and Thomas. (And Main Street was originally called Elizabeth Street after Daniel’s mother.)

Stroudsburg was then a part of Northampton County, and by 1815 it was an important stagecoach stop between Easton (the county seat) and Milford, and was also between Easton and Wilkes-Barre, which provided a substantial amount of commerce to the area.

In 1815, Daniel traveled on horseback to Harrisburg to present a charter for the Borough of Stroudsburg. I like to imagine going on that trip with Daniel — I could have hidden in his saddlebag, peeked my head out, and felt the wind blowing through my whiskers! The charter was granted on February 6 that year, and Stroudsburg officially became a borough!

A local committee was appointed, chaired by Daniel, and its first duty was to “provide school and teachers for youth.” Daniel had already established an academy at 8th and Main streets and helped his fellow Quakers build an elementary school!

The area continued to grow and local industries such as tanneries, sawmills and gristmills were prospering. The population of the borough was about 400.

In 1827, noting that “... owing to the bad condition of the roads and distance from the seat of justice at Easton, it is almost impossible for justice to be obtained by those residing north of the [Blue] mountain,” a petition was sent to the state legislature requesting a new county be created from Northampton and Pike. Meanwhile, the first newspaper, The Stroudsburg Gazette, appeared in 1832, followed by The Monroe Democrat four years later.

Finally, on April 1, 1836, a new county named after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States, came into being. The next step was to choose, by popular election, a county seat. Dutotsburg, Kellersville, and Stroudsburg competed for this important designation and all the benefits it would bring. The election itself was a “curious and interesting contest” that I can report on later. Suffice it to say that Daniel Stroud and his colleagues ensured the choice of Stroudsburg as the county seat.
As is often true, I just didn’t want to stop finding out more about the events and people that made Stroudsburg what it is today. I thank Amy Leiser, Robert Brown Keller and John Appel for their publications, along with other interesting resources at the Stroud Mansion. I’ll share more with you in the next Fanlight.

Meanwhile, enjoy the Bicentennial — and see what YOU can find out about Stroudsburg and Monroe County!blogEntryTopper