Barrett Township celebrates its Sesquicentennial

By Amy Leiser, Executive Director
Monroe County Historical Association

Barrett Township will celebrate its 150th birthday at the end of this month. This northern Monroe County township was officially created from parts of Price and Paradise Townships on December 31, 1859, although the area had been settled much earlier.

John and Mary Price of Bucks County, Pennsylvania settled in present-day Barrett Township in 1756. Their first visit did not last long. Ill feelings between European settlers and the Native Americans persisted in the region as a result of the infamous Walking Purchase that had occurred less than 20 years before. The Price family was forced to leave when hostile relations became overwhelming. The Prices would return in 1764, where they remained and raised 12 children; many of their descendants are still in the area.

Other early settlers included the Albert, Bender, Boyer, Deubler, Gravel, Ink, Leek, Long, Seese, Smith, Sommers, Stright, and Utt families. The three largest villages in the township are Canadensis (named for the scientific name for the hemlock tree,
Tsugas canadensis), Cresco (once known as Oakland), and Mountainhome (once known as White’s Tannery).

Barrett Township was named for George Rodden Barrett. Barrett was a lawyer in Clearfield County, Pa., and was appointed judge in April of 1853 to fill a vacancy left open by the resignation of the Honorable Nathaniel P. Eldred. Barrett’s appointment was unpopular as he was neither from nor a resident of the judicial district. Six months later, Barrett, who had only been temporary, refused to run as a candidate.

Over the next two years, the office of president judge would pass from Judge James Madison Porter (who resigned following an “attack of paralysis”) to Thomas S. Bell of Chester County, Pa. Bell’s appointment had been even more unpopular than Barrett’s was a year earlier. By 1855, Barrett declared his candidacy for the position and was elected without opposition. He presided as president judge of Monroe County from 1855 to 1869. It was Judge Barrett who signed the documents creating Barrett Township.

Over its past 150 years, Barrett Township was recognized for its dense forests and clean steams. The early industries of the township reflected the abundance of these natural resources. Bark from Barrett Township trees was used in the tanneries to process leather and pelts. Numerous lumber mills produced not only timber to be floated down the Delaware River to Philadelphia markets, but created items such as clothes pins, roof shingles, shoe pegs, barrels and sprags (used for breaking cars in coal mines).

In 1856, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad created its only stop in Barrett Township in Cresco. In addition to businesses benefiting from the rail line, the resort industry also flourished and promoted the beauty of the area. Vacationers traveled from New York and Philadelphia and further to experience the outdoors and to breathe the clean mountain air. Early owners of area boarding houses and resorts entertained their guests exploiting the outdoors: picnicking and fishing in the summer; tobogganing and skiing in the winter. When the township was formed in 1859, the population was 701 residents. By the 1880s, the population had increased to 1,149. Today, Barrett Township has more than 4,100 residents.

Barrett Township citizens are wrapping up a year-long commemoration of their history. On January 1, 2009, the Barrett Township Historical Society kicked-off its celebration with a pork and sauerkraut dinner. On December 31, there will be a New Year’s celebration at the Inn at Pocono Manor to commemorate the official anniversary of the creation of Barrett Township. The public is welcome to attend this gala. Tickets are required and are $54 per person. If you would like to be part of the fun, please contact Molly Bender at (570) 595-2426 for additional information.

Members in this northern community continue to work to safeguard Barrett Township’s past and its important place in Monroe County’s history. The Cresco Station Museum, run by the Barrett Township Historical Society, features displays relating to the township’s history. For more information on the history of Barrett Township, please contact the Barrett Township Historical Society at (570) 595-2279. Information for this article was provided by the archival holdings at the Monroe County Historical Association and the Monroe County Archives.

Here is a list of historically interesting place names located throughout Barrett Township.
  • Beartown
  • Brinker’s Ridge
  • Hardytown
  • Hoot Owl
  • Pochunk
  • Preacher Hill
  • Purgatory
  • Rattlesnake or Pleasant Ridge
  • Skunk’s Misery
  • Wildcat Hollow