South Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania

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South Whitehall Township is a township in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It is a suburb of Allentown, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley area of the state. The population of South Whitehall Township was 18,028 at the 2000 census. It is home to the Lehigh Valley interchange of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Contents

History

The first settlers of the Lehigh Valley region were Germans who emigrated from earlier settlements along the Perkiomen Creek. The earliest settlers arrived in the region over a 20-year period beginning in about 1732. The immigration of the Germans and other European natives, including Swiss and Huguenots, was aided by William Penn and his friends. The land lying south of the South Mountain was given to William Penn in 1713 by the Lenni Lenape Indians. The land of Lehigh County lying between the Blue Mountain and the Lehigh Mountains was given to Penn's sons by the Lenni Lenapes in 1732. Emigrants sought the fertile, limestone valley flanking rivers and streams such as the Jordan Creek.

One of the earliest tracts of land purchased in the Township was by Nicholas Kern who bought tracts of land on December 3, 1735 and October 28, 1737. Some of this was sold to Lorenz Guth on February 27, 1739. Guth continued to buy land in the area of the Reformed church property and also in the Guthsville area. By 1769 his holdings totaled 759 acres (3.07 km2). The Lorenz Guth house near Wehr's Dam still stands in excellent condition and is a fine example of colonial architecture.

Much of the history of South Whitehall can be traced to the Walbert-Guthsville region, and especially the two Jordan churches. The first ministration to the Lutheran people in the township occurred in 1734 when Reverend John Casper Stoever baptized Margaret, the daughter of the John Lichtenwalners, on February 6. In 1736 a Reverend Schmidt preached occasionally to the Lutherans, and in 1739 Reverend John Justus Jacob Birkenstock became pastor of the Jordan Lutheran congregation. In 1845 it was noted that the centennial of the congregation was observed, which would indicate that the first building was erected in 1745. The first church building was of logs and stood near the north wall of the old burial ground. It was used jointly by the Lutheran and Reformed congregations until about 1752 when the Reformed erected a building half a mile to the east, within sight of the current municipal building. The Lutherans built the present church in 1842-1843 at a cost of $3,581.24. It was renovated in 1868, and in 1886 a fine, shapely, slate-covered steeple, 138 feet (42 m) high, was erected.

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