The Lenni Lenape (Delaware) tribes hunted, fished, and quarried jasper in the area that became the Lehigh Valley. Europeans first arrived in the area in the early 1700s to trade with the Indians. By 1730, German settlers were drawn to settle the Lehigh Valley after reading favorable descriptions of the land in advertisements promoted by William Penn. In 1737, Penn’s sons expanded their land holdings to include most of the Lehigh Valley through their swindle of the Lenni Lenape called the “Walking Purchase.” The Lenni Lenape retaliated with occasional raids in the 1750s and early 1760s upon the European settlers. However by the mid-1760s, the Lenni Lenape moved out of the area, allowing Europeans to settle it.
The Lehigh Valley was considered part of Bucks County, established in 1682 then became Northampton County in 1752. In 1812, Lehigh County was divided off from Northampton County. The first European settlers were families that moved from the more populated areas around Philadelphia to the valuable farmland further north.
There was no organization to the immigration of thousands of German settlers in the Lehigh Valley in the 1800s. Most of these settlers came to farm and each member of the farming family needed to learn a variety of skills. Their survival depended on it.
You are invited to explore our website. Within these pages you can find a wide scope of information pertaining to the history of the Lehigh Valley, its culture and people.
Bethlehem God’s Acre was consecrated when Nicolaus Ludwig, Count von Zinzendorf (1700-1760) selected a spot in the woods behind the Gemeinhaus. John Mueller, who died on June 26, 1742 was the first to be buried there. Mueller was a young man who had arrived in Bethlehem a few weeks before his death. He was born in Rhinebeck, New York and had accompanied the missionary Christian Henry Rauch and a group of Mohicans to town. Christian Froehlich, Moravian missionary, dug this first grave for Mueller. The northwest portion, along Market Street, is the oldest section of the graveyard.Full Story »
Bethlehem was considered the largest town at the edge of the frontier. When the news of the Indian attacks spread, hundreds of frightened European settlers rushed to Bethlehem for protection.The town’s people built a palisade fence,15 feet high, around the town. Two watch towers were erected, built of logs. Susanne and Georg were among the people who made their way to Bethlehem for protection.Full Story » Full Story »