South Whitehall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania

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Coordinates: 40°37′31″N 75°32′29″W / 40.62528°N 75.54139°W / 40.62528; -75.54139
South Whitehall Township
Township
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Lehigh
Elevation 443 ft (135 m)
Coordinates 40°37′31″N 75°32′29″W / 40.62528°N 75.54139°W / 40.62528; -75.54139
Area 17.2 sq mi (44.5 km2)
 - land 17.1 sq mi (44 km2)
 - water 0.1 sq mi (0 km2), 0.58%
Population 19,180 (2010)
Density 1,115.1 / sq mi (430.5 / km2)
Established 1810
Timezone EST (UTC-5)
 - summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP Code 18104
Area code 610
Code 2 484
Location of South Whitehall Township in Lehigh County
Location of South Whitehall Township in Pennsylvania
Location of Pennsylvania in the United States
Website: http://southwhitehall.com

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 19,180 at the 2010 census. It is home to the Lehigh Valley interchange of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Dorney Park, as well it has the distinction of having the second highest tax rate of any township in Lehigh County.

History[edit]

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.

Members of the Reformed (United Church of Christ) religion settled in the area as early as 1738, and baptisms of their children during the period of 1740 to 1752 are recorded in the Lutheran record book. In 1752 Lorenz Guth presented the Reformed with a 50-acre (200,000 m2) tract of land, and a log church was erected in six weeks. The second and present church building, with its 110-foot (34 m) steeple was built in 1808. It stands as one of the oldest church buildings in the country, and is a fine example of the architecture of that period.

The early schools of the township were connected with the two Jordan churches for many years, possibly extending back to 1739. According to the Roberts history, the congregations were at first supplied not by pastors, but by teachers who used to read sermons on Sundays. Thus, it is possible that church-sponsored schools taught by the readers existed in the earliest days of the congregations.

The original name "Whitehall" dates to 1740 and encompasses the land now found in North Whitehall, South Whitehall, and Whitehall Townships. Prior to the establishment of Northampton County in 1752, the area was part of Bucks County and the land currently occupied by South Whitehall was known as "the back part of Macungie" on the "Heidelberg District." The name Whitehall is thought to be derived from one of two sources: either a place in England, or for a white house erected as a hunting lodge near the Jordan and Cedar Creeks.

South Whitehall Township was established in 1810 by a petition to the Northampton County Court to divide former Whitehall Township into two areas, North Whitehall and South Whitehall Townships. In 1812, Lehigh County was divided off from the original Northampton County, establishing South Whitehall Township within and nearly at the center of Lehigh County. At that time, according to historians, "...many prominent and influential men who lived in the vicinity of Guthsville exerted themselves to secure the selection of the village as the place best adapted for the county seat on account of its situation in the geographical center of the large area of territory to be erected into a separate county, but their efforts proved unavailing and the advocates of Allentown were successful." (The quotations from Roberts History published in 1914.)

Agriculture was the backbone of the economy of the township for many years. Much of the land today still is under cultivation. For more than a century at least six grain mills flourished on the Jordan and Cedar Creeks.

In the early 19th century iron ore was discovered at different places in the township and mining operations were carried on from 1820 to 1890.

In 1867, the eastern portion of South Whitehall and the southeastern portion of North Whitehall were detached and formed into Whitehall Township.

In 1966, South Whitehall became a First Class Township.

Main entrance to Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, in South Whitehall Township, 1950.

The Dorneyville Crossroad Settlement, Haines Mill, Manasses Guth Covered Bridge, and Wehr Covered Bridge are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]

On Tuesday, May 21, 2013, according to a story appearing on the online Philadelphia, Pennsylvania edition of NBCNEWS.com, it was stated that,: "A former municipal employee and her husband, a former police officer, have been charged with embezzling more than $850,000 ..." from the township, beginning in 1999 and extending until June 2012. The couple (they were named, but are unnamed here because they have not been indicted or convicted), 66 and 69, respectively, are from Emmaus, Pennsylvania, and allegedly stole from the finance department utilities account and had had extensive slot machine losses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.[2]

Geography[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 17.2 square miles (44.6 km²), of which, 17.1 square miles (44.3 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.46%) is water. The township is located immediately west of Allentown and approximately 55 miles (89 km) northwest of Philadelphia. It is drained by the Jordan Creek and the Little Lehigh Creek into the Lehigh River.

The Lehigh Valley interchange of Interstate 476 and U.S. Route 22 is in the western part of the township. Other north-to-south throughfares are Highway 309, Cedar Crest Boulevard, and Mauch Chunk Road, while other east-to-west thoroughfares are Walbert Avenue, Tilghman Street, and Hamilton Boulevard. South Whitehall's villages include Cetronia, Crackersport, Dorneyville (also in Salisbury,) Greenawalds, Guthsville, Mechanicsville (also in North Whitehall,) Meyersville (also in North Whitehall,) Orefield (also in North Whitehall,) Parkway Manor, Scherersville (also in Whitehall Township,) Sterlingworth, Walbert, and Woodlawn.

Adjacent municipalities[edit]

Demographics[edit]

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 19,180 people, 7,814 households, and 5,339 families residing in the township. The population density was 1,115.1 people per square mile (431/km²). There were 8,180 housing units at an average density of 475.6/sq mi (183.8/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 89.8% White, 2.8% African American, 0.1% Native American, 4.7% Asian, 1.3% from other races, and 1.3% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.7% of the population.[3]

There were 7,814 households out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.6% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.7% were non-families. 24.827% of all households were made up of individuals and 35.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.89.

In the township the population was spread out with 21.6% under the age of 20, 3.9% from 20 to 24, 20.8% from 25 to 44, 31.7% from 45 to 64, and 22% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females there were 89.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.9 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $64,854, and the median income for a family was $78,629. Males had a median income of $55,047 versus $41,610 for females. The per capita income for the township was $36,274. About 2.6% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.73% of those under age 18 and 4.2% of those age 65 or over.[4]

Recreation[edit]

Dorney Park's Steel Force and Thunderhawk roller coasters, in South Whitehall Township, 2006.

South Whitehall Township is best known as the home of Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom, a popular area amusement park. It also hosts the Lehigh County Soccer Fields which are accessible from Broadway east of Route 309.

Government and politics[edit]

South Whitehall is represented by State Senator Pat Browne in the 16th district and US Representative Charlie Dent in the 15th district. State Representative Julie Harhart serves the 1st, 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 8th wards in the 183rd district and State Representative Ryan Mackenzie serves the 3rd, 4th, and 5th wards in the 134th district. All of its legislators are Republican.

Board of Commissioners[edit]

South Whitehall elects five at-large commissioners for four-year terms.

  • Christina "Tori" Morgan, President
  • Glenn Block, Vice President
  • David L. Bond, Secretary
  • Dale W. Daubert
  • Thomas J. Johns

Public education[edit]

The Township is served by the Parkland School District. Students in grades 9 through 12 attend Parkland High School, located on Cedar Crest Boulevard in the township. Both of the Middle Schools (Orefield and Springhouse) are in South Whitehall, as are Cetronia, Kratzer, and Parkway Manor Elementary Schools. Some of the township's students attend Kernsville Elementary just over the North Whitehall line, while others attend Ironton Elementary located in North Whitehall Township. Kratzer is located in Greenawalds. [1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  2. ^ http://www.nbcnews.com/id/51954060
  3. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  4. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 

External links[edit]