Drums, Pennsylvania

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Map of Luzerne County, highlighting Butler Township

Drums is a town in Butler Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Located about 1,500 ft. altitude in the Sugarloaf Valley, it sits east of Interstate 81 and north of Nescopeck Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River. Its zip code is 18222.



The village was originally named "Drum's" after the Drum family, whose members developed the village's first school, post office, hotels, churches, roads, and businesses. The apostrophe was eventually dropped. Family members held positions as pioneers, land developers, justices of the peace, postmasters, school presidents, Lucerne County sheriff, hotel proprietors, lawyers, and Pennsylvania state legislators.[1] The founders of Drums were the Drum family.

In 1738, Philip Drum, 36, emigrated to America from Germany with his eight-year-old son Jacob. In 1749, Jacob married Catharine Strauss, who gave birth to a son, George. George Drum was born on June 12, 1762 in Northampton County, Williams Township, adjacent to Bethlehem and Easton, Pa. This was an exciting revolutionary time in this area for George to grow up in because America's founders such as George Washington, Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, John Hancock, Ethan Allen, Sam Adams, visited Bethlehem, Pennsylvania numerous times where they lodged at the Moravian Sun Inn, previous to, and during the American Revolution.

According to Drum family legend, tragedy struck the family in 1774 when their farmhouse was attacked by Indians. The Indians killed Jacob and took Catharine. George (age 12) managed to escape harm by hiding in the fireplace. George survived and went on to develop the town of Drums when he reached maturity.[2] Drums is located only an hour Northeast of Bethlehem, Northampton County. George was attracted to the beautiful Sugarloaf Valley area (within Lucerne County), as were other pioneers, such as John Balliet. George became one of the pioneering settlers there in the late 1700's initiating the development of Drums village and Conyngham.

In the late 1700s, George Drum bought land in the Sugarloaf Valley in the areas that would become Drums and Conyngham. "Among the early settlers were George Drum, Philip Woodring, Andrew Mowery, and Henry Davis".[3] George Drum was an entrepreneur and government documents indicate he was a carpenter, contractor, builder, farmer, and justice of the peace for Sugarloaf Township. George built the first hotel-tavern in Drums.[4][5] The Drums Hotel building still stands in Drums, but is now a privately owned residence in great condition. The Drums Post Office building was located directly across the road from the Drums Hotel until the 1960s at which point it was moved next to the Hotel into a brick building which still stands. The Drums Post Office operated there up until the early 2000s which means the Drums P.O. operated for nearly two centuries. In addition, and according to church records, George was also a founding member of St. Johns Church and cemetery founded in 1799. George, his wife, and many other family members are all buried at St. Johns Cemetery. Other family members are buried at Drums Community Cemetery and Conyngham Union Cemetery.

During the American Revolution (1775–83), George served in the American forces as Captain of Militia for Frontier, Fifth Company, Eighth Regiment.[5]

George married Anna Margaret Woodring (born 1765), a daughter of Philip Woodring (a French Huguenot 1741—1819) and Mary Elisabetha Wagner (1743—1829) from Alsace, France. Anna & her family were from the Williams Township, Northampton County area adjacent to Easton and Bethlehem. Anna Margaret descended from an enterprising French/German family line. Her ancestors included mayors of towns in Alsace that alternatively belonged to France and Germany. Anna Margaret spoke German, Alsatian, French, and English; George spoke German and English. Her surname evolved from the French "Vatrin" (pronounced "Vatree" in French) to the German "Wotring" (pronounced "Votring" in German) to "Woodring" in America.


In 1808, Philip Drum (son of George Sr.) bought land in Luzerne County from Dr. Benjamin Rush [6] who was a close advisor to George Washington during the American Revolutionary War.[7] Dr. Rush signed the United States Declaration of Independence.[2] In 1810, Philip established Drums' first carding mill on the Little Nescopeck River. In addition, Philip also established the first wool-processing mill in 1835, a short distance from the carding mill.[8] In 1814, George's second son, George Jr. (born Oct. 16, 1792), bought land next to his brother Philip.[9] Philip bought additional land in 1814, 1826, 1836, and 1847. George Sr., George Jr., Philip, & other Drum family members owned vast acreage of land in Drums, Conyngham, and surrounding counties. George Drum's two century old estate still stands in immaculate condition in Conyngham and is a fine example of colonial architecture. George Sr. and George Jr. both died in 1831. On February 27, 1858, Philip died in Drums, Butler Township, aged 71, he was buried at St. Johns Cemetery.[2] His wool mill passed to his son Jacob.

Further community and land development by family members made Drums and St. Johns the commercial centers of the township. Drums is the principle village in Butler township. It is in the heart of a rich agricultural section and is on the Old State Road leading to Hazleton, Pennsylvania and Wilkes-Barre, about six miles from the former, it's natural trading point, between Big and Little Nescopeck.[10]

The Honorable George Drum Sr. was elected justice of the peace for Sugarloaf Township in 1811; his son, George Drum Jr. later held the same office, while his grandson George W. Drum, born March 12, 1832, was elected justice of the peace in 1860 for Sugarloaf Township based in the town of Conyngham adjacent to Drums. Hon. George W. Drum was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly (Pennsylvania legislature) and served from 1879 to 1882.[2] The Hon. George W. Drum was also a member and trustee of the German Lutheran Church and trustee of the Conyngham Church and school land lot.[11] Jacob Drum, a son of Philip Drum and namesake of his great-grandfather, Jacob, served as justice of the peace in 1847 and 1852. Jacob's mother was Philip's first wife, Magdalene Beisal, for whom Beisals Road in Drums is named. Jacob and his wife Susan are buried at St. John's Cemetery and have an obelisk for a gravestone.[12]

Philip L. Drum III born 1871, was the grandson of Philip, and son of Nathan. He was an alumnus of Lafayette College and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Philip became a popular lawyer and a Pennsylvania state legislator in 1901 and 1902.[13] In addition to the attorneys and state legislators in the family, Abraham Drum (son of Philip) became sheriff of Luzerne County for several years.[2]

William Drum, son of George Sr., established the first post office in Drums in 1826 as postmaster. George Jr. was postmaster for a time as well during the late 1820's. William Drum also helped organize the Conyngham Post Office as postmaster there. During the 1880's Abraham Alex Drum (son of Josiah Drum & Maria Balliet) became postmaster. [14] Carrie Drum (grand daughter of Philip the 2nd) was postmistress from the 1890's into the early 1900s.[15] All told, the Drum family operated Drums post office for about a century.

George's son, Abraham (Abram) b.1797, took over ownership of the "Stage Coach Stop" Drums Hotel in the center of the town when he reached maturity. Abraham's son, George Drum (b. Dec. 2, 1827) then became proprietor of the Drums Hotel by the mid 1800's and married Emma Fritzinger[16] The hotel was passed on to succeeding generations in the family. Abraham built an additional hotel in the mountains of Drums, just north of the town's center. The Drums Hotel (which operated for well over a century) and other family businesses, sat within a triangle of roads that was the commercial heart of Drums.


Charles Lindbergh landed twice at Reifenberg Airport, the airport that served Drums and St. Johns, flying The Spirit of St. Louis in 1928 and a Ford Tri-motor in 1931.[17]

City services[edit]

Drums is served by the Butler Township Police Department, which employs Chief David Pavelko, a sergeant, and five other officers.[18] Fire, rescue and emergency medical services are provided by volunteers from Valley Regional Fire and Rescue, which was formed when Butler Township Fire Company and Conyngham Fire Company merged in 2005.[19]

The city's zoning and code enforcement department issues building permits.[20]


Drums' first school was founded by Drum family members and named the Drums school. It was constructed with logs in 1809, "on the grounds of the old Union Church", and served all the township's children. "In 1870, the Drums school was moved to a new location across the road from the present Drums school".[21] "In 1941, the original wooden Drums school was closed and a larger brick structure was built".[21] The school is now known as Drums Elementary/Middle School and is at 85 S. Old Turnpike Road.

Drums Elementary/Middle School is served today by the Hazleton Area School District.[22] In addition to the Drums Elementary Middle School, the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences (HAAS) will be located within Drums for the 2013-2014 school year. HAAS is a magnet program that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.[23]


The Trinity Church project, which George W. Drum donated his land to, organized a Sunday School on May 6, 1844. The president, Isaac Drum, was born in 1820, the son of Jacob Drum. Isaac served in the American Civil War.[24] Other officers included superintendent James Smith; secretary James Hillman; treasurer William Harker; and managers Adam Beisal, Mrs. Beisal, Daniel Durst, Mrs. Yost and Mrs. Hunt. A constitution was adopted August 25, 1844. By about 1880, a new group of officers took control: president Nathan S. Drum (Son of Philip); vice president John S. Spencer; superintendent Cyrus Straw; secretary Abraham Alexander Drum (son of Josiah Drum and Maria Balliet); librarian Mary Jacobs; treasurer Josiah Drum; and managers Cyrus Straw, Henry Gilmore, John Spencer, Mrs. Hedian, Mrs L. Straw and Miss E. Jacobs.[25]

St. John's Church was organized December 26, 1799. George Drum (the first) was a founding member of the church. By April 18, 1809, Rev. Frederick Van de Sloat wrote a constitution and by-laws for the government of the congregation. The subscribers to this document were George Drum, John Balliett, Philip Woodring, Jacob Speth, George Wenner, S. Earles, Jacob Balliett, Peter Hill, John Balliett sen, Peter Scheide, Michael Beishline, Jacob Drumheller, A. Maurer, P. Ruth, J. Fuse, J. Wenner, H. Maurer, George Beishline, and Michael Bitterle.[4] One of the founders; Jacob Drumheller (in the Drum family tree), built the first building in what became Hazleton, Pennsylvania in 1809. Many founding members of the Drum family have their final resting place at St. John's Cemetery, including the original George Drum and wife Anna Margaret Woodring; Philip Drum and second wife Magadalena, Jacob Drum and wife Susan Mochamaer, Abraham Drum and wife Magdalene, John Drum and wife Anna Marie, and Isaac Drum. Present day descendants are also buried at St. Johns such as Edward T. Drum (Corporal - Sergeant j in WW II, d. 1995) who is the 3rd great grandson of George Drum the first. St. Johns has become the family's primary cemetery for the past 215 years.

Balliett, Beisal, Beishline, Butz, Chapin, Curwood, Drasher, Dreisbach, Drumheller, Eroh, Fink, Fisher, Fritzinger, Gilmore, Greece, Hart, Heller, Helman, Hess, Hughes, Klinger, Lauderbach, Miller, Mochamer, Morgan, Santee, Schleppy, Shearer, Strauss, Straw, Turnbach, Roth, Wagner, Whitenight, Whitebread, Wilkins, Winter, Wolfe, Woodring, Wotring, Yoch, Young, and Zimmerman are some names in the extended Drum family who lived in the Drums area and contributed to the community.[26]

Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church was founded with the building committee team consisting of Rev. Colborn, Stephen Drum (son of Abraham), Cyrus & Andrew Straw, an A. P. Goedecke.[4]

As of 2013, places of worship include Drums United Methodist Church, Good Shepherd Church, Christ Reformed Episcopal Church, St. Paul's United Methodist Church and Seventh Day Adventist Church.[27]

Notable residents[edit]


  1. ^ Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family. Press of Berkemeyer, Allentown, Pa. 1927, p.2 p.3, p.12, p.14, p.13, p,28
  2. ^ a b c d e Helman, Laura (1927). The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family. Berkmeyer. 
  3. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania"1893 Chicago: S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers. p. 539
  4. ^ a b c Butler Township. "History of Butler Township, Lucerne County 1786-1880", Butler Township Publication Book, p.3
  5. ^ a b Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Press of Berkemeyer, Allentown, Pa. 1927 p.3
  6. ^ Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Press of Berkemeyer, Allentown, Pa. p.28
  7. ^ "The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush: His "Travels Through Life" Together with His "Commonplace Books" for 1789-1813, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1948, p.126
  8. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania" Chicago: S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers. 1893 p. 540
  9. ^ Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Press of Berkemeyer, Allentown, Pa. 1927 p. 28
  10. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania" Chicago: S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers. 1893 p.540
  11. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania" Chicago:S.B. Nelson & Co.,Publishers. 1893 p.857,
  12. ^ Butler Township Booklet. "History Of Butler Township, Luzerne County, 1786-1880", 1880, p.6
  13. ^ Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Berkemeyer, Allentown, Pa. 1927, p. 12-13.
  14. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Lucerne County, Pennsylvania" Chicago: S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers.1893 p. 856
  15. ^ Helman, Laura. The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family, Press of Berkemeyer, Keck & Co., Allentown, PA, 1927, p. 12
  16. ^ Helman,Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family", Press of Berkemeyer, Keck & Co., Allentown, Pa. 1927, p. 25
  17. ^ Drums Lions Club. "Two Hundred Years Of Progress:Butler Township, 1784-1984" published by The Drums Lions Club, Butler Township, Luzerne County, Pa. 1984, p.25
  18. ^ "Police". Butler Township. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  19. ^ "About Us: Valley Regional Fire and Rescue". Valley Regional Fire and Rescue. Retrieved April 25, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Zoning and Code Enforcement". Butler Township. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b Drums Lions Club. "Two Hundred Years of Progress: Butler Township, 1784-1984" published by Drums Lions Club ( publication verification at "butler-township.com"), Butler Township, Pa. 1984, p.42
  22. ^ name=Hazleton>"Drums Elementary/Middle School". Hazleton Area School District. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences". Hazleton Area School District. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 
  24. ^ Helman, Laura. "THE HISTORY AND GENEALOGY of the DRUM FAMILY" Press of Berkemeyer, Keck & Co. 1927, p.14
  25. ^ Butler Township. "History Of Butler Township, Luzerne County, 1786-1880" Butler Township printing, 1880, p.4
  26. ^ Helman, Laura, "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Berkemeyer Press, Allentown, Pa. 1927
  27. ^ "Butler Township Churches". Butler Township. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Bio: Nate Eachus". Kansas City Chiefs. Retrieved April 27, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°01′05″N 75°59′42″W / 41.01806°N 75.99500°W / 41.01806; -75.99500