ABOUT / HISTORY
Jackson Township was established in 1813, one of the eight townships setup when Lebanon County was formed. Land for Jackson was taken from Bethel and Heidelberg, two townships that had been in existence in old Lancaster and later Dauphin Counties. Jackson Township was named for General Andrew Jackson, hero of the War of 1812.
Jackson Township is located in the northeast region of Lebanon County and consists of 15,168 acres or almost twenty-four square miles of land area.
# # # # # # #
Jackson township - this township was originally embraced by Heidelberg an Bethel townships, to which the reader is referred for the names of some of the first settlers, a few of whom had come from Schoharie, in New York, others emigrated directly from Europe. This part of the county was embraced, in what is so well known, in the early history of Pennsylvania, as the Tulpehocken settlement, or as the name is written in the Provincial Records, Turpyhocken. It was through this region, that the Indians had their common course, in carrying their furs and skins from the west to the east, as may be learned from a proposal made by William Penn, in 1690, for a second settlement in the province of Pennsylvania. He says: - "it is now my purpose to make another settlement upon the river Susquehannah, that runs into the Bay of Chesapeake, and lies about fifty miles west from the Delaware, as appears by the common maps of the English dominions in America. There I design to lay out a plan for the building of another city, in the most convenient place for communication with the former plantation on the east, which by land is as good as some already, a way being laid out between the two rivers very exactly and conveniently at least three years ago, and what will not be hard to do by water, by the benefit of the river Scoulkill; for a branch of that river lies near a branch that runs into the Suquehannagh river, and is the common course of the Indians with their skins and furrs in our parts, and to the province of east and wes New Jersey, and New York, form the west and north-east parts of the continent from which they bring them."
The Honorable John Evans, Esq., Lieut. Governor of the Province of Pennsylvania, passed from the Susquehanna, through here on his way to Philadelphia, in July, 1707, as may be seen from the following extract from his journal.
"The Governor, with Messrs, John French, William Tonge, Mitchel Bezaillion, and one Grey, and four servants, set out from New Castle, the 27th of June, and the next morning arrived at Otteraroe, &c."
"On Tuesday, 1st July, we went to Conestoga, and lay there that night, and the next morning proceeded on our journey, and arrived in the Evening within 3 miles of an Indian Village, called Peixtan. The Govr., had received informations at Pequehan, that one Nicole, a French Indian Trader, was at that place, agst, whom great Complaints had been made to the Govr., of which he acquainted the Chief Indian of Peixtan, as also of his design to seize him; who willingly agreed to it, but advised the Govr., to be very cautious in the manner; there being only young People at home, who perhaps might make some Resistance, if it were done without their first being told of it; for this reason we lay short of the Village that night; but Early in the morning we went within half a mile of the Town & leaving our horses, march'd a foot nearer the same; from whence the Govr., sent Martine to the Village; Ordering him to tell Nicole that he had brought 2 Caggs of Rum with him, which he had left in the woods, for fear any Christians were there; and withal to perswade Nicole to go with him and taste the Rum. Martine returned with James Letort, & Joseph Jassop, 2 Indian Traders but could not prevail with Nicole; upon this, Martine was sent back with Orders to bring down some of the Indians, and Nicole with them; then we drew nearer the Town, and laid ourselves in the bushes, and Martine returned with 2 Indians, whom the Govr., acquainted with his intent of taking Nicole, telling at the same time, he had spoken with to the Uncle of one of them upon that head, who ordered the Indians to submit to the Govrs. Commands, with which they were contented, tho' we perceived too well the contrary, by their inquiring how many we were, and how armed; and by the Concern they seemed to be in, when they found we were more men in number than they; but still Nicole was wanting; it was therefore Resolved to try once more if he could be got into the woods, accordingly Martine went again, and brought Nicole to the place where we lay concealed, and asking him to Drink a dram, he seized him, but Nicole started from him and run for it, when immediately we started out and took him, and presently carried him to the Village (thro' which we were obliged to pass,) and there found some Indians with Guns in their hands, who lookt much displeased at what we had done, but we being in a readiness against any surprise, they thought it not fit to attempt any thing; here we stayed about half a hour, and then parted for Turpyhocken; having mounted Nicole upon a horse, and tied his legs under the Belly; we got within a mile of Turyphocken about 2 of ye Clock, on fryday morning, and about 7 the Govr., went to the town, from thence we went to Manataway that night, & the next day to Philadelphia.
During the French and Indian war, from 1755 to 1760, the inhabitants of this township, in common with many others, were repeatedly alarmed by the Indians. Several murders were committed by them with the borders of this township. On one occasion many of the inhabitants of this and adjacent townships, met at the house of Benjamin Spycker's near the present site of Stouchstown. There a company consisting of rising of three hundred men, went in pursuit of the Indians, most of them well armed, though about twenty of them, had nothing but axes and pitchforks - all unanimously agreed to die together, and engage the enemy, wherever they should meet them. This happened in October 1755.
In this, as well as other townships, there were several block houses, or forts, to which, in cases of emergency, the inhabitants would flee. There was one - we were informed by Mr. Breitenbach, on the farm now owned by him - a short distance east of Myerstown.
Philip Breitenbach, the father of Mr. Breitenbach mentioned above, came from Germany - in 1754 he purchased the tract of land on which a fort was afterwards erected, from Martin Noacker. Philip Breitenbach was wont, on many occasions of alarm, to take his drum and beat on an eminence near his house, to collect the neighbors from work, into the fort. On one occasion, the Indians pursued them close to the house, when one of the inmates took up a gun, and shot the Indian dead on the spot.
Jackson township is bounded on the north-east by Berks county - on the south by Heidelberg township; and on the west by South and North Lebanon, and Bethel townships; and contains nearly fifteen thousand acres of first rate land - limestone soil, and the surface is generally very level. The improvements are very firm. Buildings are - many of stone - large and commodious.
The township is crossed by both the Reading and Harrisburg turnpike, and Union Canal. Tulpehocken creek, and the Swatara, are the principal streams, affording water power for mills, &c. In 1840, this township contained three grist mills, one saw mill, two tanneries, two distilleries, four stores, and two lumber yards. Population in 1830, 2,120; in 1840, 2,508. Average tax valuation for 1840, $1,031,326; county tax $2,546 99.
# # # # # # #
Jackson Township was one of the first settled areas in Lebanon County. It is believed that the exact time was prior to 1700. The towship was established in 1813, formed by parts of Dauphin and Lancaster counties. Specifically it came from a part of Bethel and Heidelberg townships but was created as a distinct township upon the creation of Lebanon County in 1813. Jackson Township is bounded on the north by Bethel, on the east by Berks County, on the south by Millcreek and Heidelberg Townships and on the west by North and South Lebanon Townships. The William Penn Highway and the Reading Railroad cross the township as did the old Union Canal.
Beginning on the west side of town you find the pretentious mansion that is now known as Tulpehocken Manor. Older houses on this property are the arches ones along the Tulpehocken and all of limestone. The sandstone corner quoining is evident on all of these dwellings, including the old smokehouse and ancient well housing.
Christopher Ley, the original owner took up 1000 acres, December 2, 1751 and built his home over the spring which is the maternal branch of the Tulpehocken. His land lies on what was known as Kingston Manor, one of the three large tracts that William Penn left in his last will executed in 1711.
In 1769, his son Michael, a Revolutionary soldier, built the substantial homestead that is now the Manor. At this time the Tulpehocken was quite wide and deep. The entire creek bed is still visible and the old stone arched bridges spanning the creek from one end of the town to the other testify to the extent the creek wended is way. According to old records there were many arched bridges of stone in Myerstown.
The Leis quarried their own limestone and the woodwork in the house was walnut from its groves. This quarry can be visited across the creek from the old cheep cote one of the oldest buildings on the property.
The houses all had water supplies of sparkling spring water but the quarries finally caused the scanty flow we now have. The first canal locks were constructed on this property in 1793 and were No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5.
The springhouse is the oldest dwelling. Flag steps lead down into the beautiful stone arches forming the shelter for the springs that were used as refrigeration and reservoir.
The large mansion faces south and at one time had a circular drive in front of the large verandah with a fountain in the center, with fresh water gushing forth continually fed by the underground springs. Large magnolia trees flanked the drive and are still to be found blooming in lush growth. All this was added as was the mansard roof in 1883, as well as fourteen more rooms. This style of the late 19th century is preserved showing the taste of the late owners.
The mortar of this spacious dwelling is pinkish red and the dressed sandstone comes from the South Mountain. The wide stairway has a walnut rail. The original door has a good, the door head of which was hand-carved in patterns of tulip and scrolls. In German appear these words: * Honor God Above * Michael and Eva Magdelane Lei * Name of artist worker from Lebanon. * Eva was a Lauer.
Two mounting blocks of sandstone flanked the steps, the higher one for ladies. On the outer corners of the porch were sandstone posts fine and one half feet high, carved to receive seats. These two posts now act as gateposts and the date 1771 is carved on them. You have to climb out of the window onto the porch roof to see the house blessing carved in German, one for the master, one for the lady. We find on all our old houses blessings and date stones, which is a story in itself that we will tell of later.
LEI is the original German spelling and sometimes appears in records as LEY. The German pronunciation would be LYE. This house was bought by Conrad Loos, later owned by Sherks, then Urichs, all descendants of Loos, and is now Tulpehocken Manor. (The room on the second story on the southeast corner is the one George Washington is reputed to have slept in, on his visits here.)
Further down the creek the Michael Spangler house built over a spring on beautiful arches still stands on the bank of the creek. A later stone house adjoins it built by George Spangler and his wide Barbara dated 1782. The Spangler's bought the land in 1745.
On Lock No. 6 along the Canal and east of Michael Spangler's house is the house built by Christian Spangler, George's son, and grandson of Michael, in 1838. The locks are still in good condition and are constructed of dressed red sandstone and limestone, with the original planking still intact. This is the house where an interesting tunnel was discovered running parallel to the canal.
There is another ancient limestone dwelling built by Johannes Immel across the street from the Ross property. This property was originally George Weirich's. Hannes Immel and wife Anna Barbara as attested by the date stone in 1759 built the house. His son Leonard was an officer in the Revolutionary Army, and married Weirich's daughter. The house, very old world in character has a steep pitched roof that at one time was covered with tiles resembling German waffles. The windows of the house are but small squares and portholes above were for guns to fight off Indians.
The Union Canal, was at one time a very valuable piece of Lebanon County. William Penn had originally suggested the usefulness of such a canal, but it wasn't until 1793 that the public was influenced enough to start building. The canal was finished in 1837 and was the first canal built in U.S. history.
# # # # # # #
Current web content for consideration:
ELCO School District