Drums, Pennsylvania

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Map of Luzerne County, highlighting Butler Township

Drums is an unincorporated community in Butler Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Located about 1,500 feet (460 m) altitude in the Sugarloaf Valley, it sits east of Interstate 81 and north of Nescopeck Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River. It was founded by the Drum family in the late 18th century originally and was originally known as Drum's. Its ZIP Code is 18222, served by the 788 exchange in Area Code 570.


18th century[edit]

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. Family members held positions as pioneers, land developers, justices of the peace, postmasters, school presidents, educators, tailors, shoe makers, Luzerne County sheriff, hotel proprietors, lawyers, and Pennsylvania state legislators.[1]

In 1738, Philip Drum, aged 36, immigrated to America from Germany with his eight-year-old son Jacob. In 1749, Jacob married Catharine Strauss, who gave birth to a son, George, on June 12, 1762 in Northampton County, Williams Township, adjacent to Bethlehem and Easton, Pa. This was a revolutionary time in this area because America's founders such as George Washington, Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton visited Bethlehem numerous times where they lodged at the Moravian Sun Inn before and during the American Revolution. According to the 1790 United States Federal Census, George Drum lived in "Allen Township" (now West Bethlehem) during the 1790s before moving his family to the Nescopeck Valley (now Sugarloaf Valley) to initiate a hotel business eventually establishing Drums town and establishing the Drums post office operation with his son's help serving Luzerne County. A 1758 map of "Bethlehem" clearly shows that "Allen Township" was the area of what is now West Bethlehem. George Drum and his family lived in West Bethlehem before establishing Drums town.[2]

According to the 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.[3] George was attracted to the beautiful Sugarloaf Valley area in Luzerne County as were other pioneers, such as John Balliet, who is also part of the Drum family tree. George became one of the pioneering settlers there in the late 18th century initiating the development of Drums village and Conyngham. George Drum was the first settler within the village of Conyngham,[4] which is where his estate still stands in impeccable condition after 2 centuries of Drum family ownership .... honorable justice of the peace; Susan (Drum) Walter (GG daughter of George Sr.) being the last known Drum family owner of the (George) Drum family estate up until the mid 1970s.[5] Susan lived till the age of 97, becoming the town's oldest resident at that time.

In the late 1700s, George Drum bought land in the Nescopeck Valley (renamed Sugarloaf Valley in 1809) in areas that would become Drums and Conyngham. "Among the early settlers were George Drum, Philip Woodring, Andrew Mowery, and Henry Davis".[6] 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.[7]: 3 [8] The original Drums Hotel building still stands in Drums, but is now a privately owned residence in superb condition. The original Drums Post Office building still remains also, but is now a business center still located directly across the road from the Drums Hotel. During the 1960s the post office operation was moved next to the hotel into a newer brick building. The Drums Post Office operated there up until the early 21st century when it closed after nearly two centuries of service due to the 2008 national economic collapse. 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 joined the Revolutionary War as a private in May 1782 (at age 19) starting with the 6th Company, 4th Battalion in Captain Peter Hay's company under Colonel Philip Boehm in Williams Township, Northampton County. George was eventually promoted and commissioned as Captain of Militia for Frontier Service, 5th Company, Eighth Regiment.[8]

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.

19th century[edit]

In 1808, Philip Drum (son of George Sr.) bought land in Luzerne County from Benjamin Rush,[9] who was a close advisor to George Washington during the American Revolutionary War[10] and signed the United States Declaration of Independence.[3] In 1810, Philip established Drums' first carding mill on the Little Nescopeck River. In addition, Philip established the first wool-processing mill in 1835; it was located a short distance from the carding mill.[11] In 1814, George's second son, George Jr. (born Oct. 16, 1792), bought land next to his brother Philip.[12] 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.[3] 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 principal 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, its natural trading point, between Big and Little Nescopeck.[13]

George Drum Sr. was elected justice of the peace for Sugarloaf Township, Luzerne County, in 1811; George Drum Jr. later held the same office, George Sr.'s grandson, George W. Drum, born March 12, 1832, was elected justice of the peace in 1860 for Luzerne County based in the town of Conyngham adjacent to Drums. George W. Drum was elected to the Pennsylvania General Assembly (Pennsylvania legislature) and served from 1879 to 1882.[3] George W. Drum III was also a member and trustee of the German Lutheran Church and trustee of the Conyngham Church and school land lot.[14] 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.[15]

William Drum, son of George Sr., established the first post office in Drums in 1826 as postmaster. George Jr. was the postmaster for a time as well during the late 1820s. William Drum also helped organize the Conyngham Post Office as postmaster there in 1828.[16] According to the "Appointments of U.S. Postmasters" register, George Drum (son of Abraham) was appointed on April 28, 1854 as postmaster for the Drums post office during the 1850s. During the 1880s, Abraham Alex Drum (son of Josiah Drum & Maria Balliet) became postmaster.[17] Carrie Drum (grand daughter of Philip the 2nd) was postmistress from the 1890s into the early 1900s.[18] All told, the Drum family personally operated the Drums post office for at least a century. The Drums post office continued to operate until 2008 at which point it closed because of the nation's economy. It was in operation for nearly 2 centuries.

George Sr.'s son, Abraham (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 19th century and married Emma Fritzinger.[19] 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 over a century) and other family businesses, sat within a triangle of roads that was the commercial heart of Drums. During the 1850s and until his death in 1862, Abraham Drum was sheriff of Luzerne County.[3]

20th century[edit]

Philip L. Drum III (b. 1871) was the grandson of Philip Drum and son of Nathan from Drums. 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.[20]

The advent of the car required modification of the township's roads. During the 1920s most of the town's roads were paved. In 1929 construction began on the present Route 309 to permit horseless carriages a more gradual incline up Butler Mountain. The automobile offered new business opportunities.[21] Drums and Saint Johns served as the commercial centers of the township for most of its history, but with the advent of automobiles and housing developments, the hub of commercial activity shifted to Route 309 by 1936.[22]

As early as 1923, the Rose Progressive Development Company plotted Drums Manor as a suburban development, but the company was unable to translate its plans into reality. In 1929, however, Mr. Creast from Media, Pennsylvania, successfully developed Stone Croft Manor.[23]

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.[24]

In 1938, a group of men organized the Drums Lions Club.[25]

In 1958, Susan (Drum) Walters, great grand daughter of George Sr., was elected justice of the peace for the Sugarloaf Valley, serving the community until her death in 1973.[26] She was the oldest resident at age 97. From 1811 to 1973 (162 years) the Drum family held office as justices.

In 1962, the Conyngham National Bank opened a branch in Drums. Later, the Conyngham Bank merged with the First Eastern Bank of Wilkes-Barre. Under the capable direction of Frederick Peters, the Drums office of First Eastern expanded with the township with deposits of several millions.[27]

On January 3, 1990, Edward W. Drum was elected Sugarloaf County Chairman for the community's government. Edward died on March 17, 2005 at age 79 bringing an end to nearly two centuries of Drum family governmental leadership.

City services[edit]

Drums is served by the Butler Township Police Department, which employs Chief David Pavelko, a sergeant, and five other officers.[28] 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.[29]

The city's zoning and code enforcement department issues building permits.[30]


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".[31] "In 1941, the original wooden Drums school was closed and a larger brick structure was built". The school is now known as the Drums Elementary/Middle School and is at 85 S. Old Turnpike Road.[31]

Drums Elementary/Middle School is served today by the Hazleton Area School District.[32] 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.[33]


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.[34] And 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. Around 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.[35]

St. John's Church was organized on 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 Balliet Sr, Philip Woodring, Jacob Speth, George Wenner, S. Earles, Jacob Balliet, Peter Hill, John Balliet Jr, Peter Scheide, Michael Beishline, Jacob Drumheller, A. Maurer, P. Ruth, J. Fuse, J. Wenner, H. Maurer, George Beishline, and Michael Bitterle.[7]: 5  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 & father of Gary E. Drum, Richard, & Nancy). Edward is the 3rd great grandson of George Drum Sr.. St. Johns has become the family's primary cemetery for the past 215 years.[citation needed]

Balliet, 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.[36]

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.[7][page needed]

As of 2013, places of worship includes the Drums United Methodist Church, Good Shepherd Church, Christ Reformed Episcopal Church, St. Paul's United Methodist Church and Seventh Day Adventist Church.[37]

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. ^ Moravian Archives, Bethlehem, Pa. Drawer I -right, #1
  3. ^ a b c d e Helman, Laura (1927). The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family. Berkmeyer.
  4. ^ Hazleton Standard-Speaker newspaper publication, Hazleton, Pa., October 10, 1966, p. 23
  5. ^ Hazleton Standard-Speaker publication, Hazleton, Pa. August 29, 1973, p. 40
  6. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania"1893 Chicago: S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers. p. 539
  7. ^ a b c Butler Township. "History Of Butler Township, Luzerne County, 1786-1880" Butler Township printing, 1880
  8. ^ a b Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Press of Berkemeyer, Allentown, Pa. 1927 p.3
  9. ^ Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Press of Berkemeyer, Allentown, Pa. p.28
  10. ^ "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
  11. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania" Chicago: S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers. 1893 p. 540
  12. ^ Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Press of Berkemeyer, Allentown, Pa. 1927 p. 28
  13. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania" Chicago: S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers. 1893 p.540
  14. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania" Chicago:S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers. 1893 p.857,
  15. ^ Butler Township Booklet. "History Of Butler Township, Luzerne County, 1786-1880", 1880, p.6
  16. ^ "Celebrate Conyngham: A Centennial History 1901-2001", Citizen Publishing Company, Hazleton, Pennsylvania, p.16
  17. ^ Bradsby, Henry. "History of Lucerne County, Pennsylvania" Chicago: S.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers.1893 p. 856
  18. ^ Helman, Laura. The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family, Press of Berkemeyer, Keck & Co., Allentown, PA, 1927, p. 12
  19. ^ Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family", Press of Berkemeyer, Keck & Co., Allentown, Pa. 1927, p. 25
  20. ^ Helman, Laura. "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Berkemeyer, Allentown, Pa. 1927, p. 12-13.
  21. ^ 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.26
  22. ^ Drums Lions Club. "Two Hundred Years Of Progress:Butler Township, 1784-1984" pub. Drums Lions Club, Butler Township, Luzerne Cty., Pa. 1984, p.42
  23. ^ 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.29
  24. ^ 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
  25. ^ Drums Lions Club. "Two Hundred Years Of Progress:Butler Township, 1784-1984" pub. by Drums Lions Club, Drums, Butler Township, Luzerne County, Pa. 1984, p.34
  26. ^ The Plain Speaker publication, Hazleton, Pa., Jan. 11, 1958, P.17
  27. ^ Drums Lions Club. "Two Hundred Years Of Progress:Butler Township, Luzerne County, Pa. 1984, p.42
  28. ^ "Police". Butler Township. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  29. ^ "About Us: Valley Regional Fire and Rescue". Valley Regional Fire and Rescue. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  30. ^ "Zoning and Code Enforcement". Butler Township. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  31. ^ 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
  32. ^ name=Hazleton>"Drums Elementary/Middle School". Hazleton Area School District. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  33. ^ "Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences". Hazleton Area School District. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  34. ^ Helman, Laura. "THE HISTORY AND GENEALOGY of the DRUM FAMILY" Press of Berkemeyer, Keck & Co. 1927, p.14
  35. ^ Butler Township. "History Of Butler Township, Luzerne County, 1786-1880" Butler Township printing, 1880, p.4
  36. ^ Helman, Laura, "The History and Genealogy of the Drum Family" Berkemeyer Press, Allentown, Pa. 1927
  37. ^ "Butler Township Churches". Butler Township. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  38. ^ "Bio: Nate Eachus". Kansas City Chiefs. Archived from the original on October 31, 2012. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  39. ^ "Jack Palance to Auction Pa. Home Items". Washington Post. Associated Press. October 9, 2006. Retrieved January 9, 2018.

External links[edit]

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