The History of Williams Township

THIS township is bounded on the north by the Lehigh River, separating it
from Palmer township and the Borough of Easton; on the east by the Delaware
River, separating it from New Jersey; on the south by Bucks county; and on
the west by the Township of Lower Saucon. It was erected as a township of
Bucks county, in the year 1750.

For a number of years prior to its erection, the county records mentioned
the name of this township as Williamstown, a name which is presumed to have
been given it for John Williams, an early and prominent settler.

Settlements were made as early as 1725. When Easton was being settled in
1752, William Parsons, in December of that year, remarked, “that most of
the provisions supplying the infant town are brought from Williams and
Saucon townships, which contain a considerable number of inhabitants.”

The first settlements were made in Williams, probably about 1725, though
it was stated in a report made to the Legislature some years later, that
there were settlements above Durham Furnace, in 1723. In 1730, there was a
population of about fifty persons within the present limits of the
township. In 1740, the number had increased to about ninety, and at the
time of the erection in 1750, the population was fully one hundred and fifty.

Among these were:

John Williams
Melchoir Hay
Michael Shoemaker
Philip Bossart
Martin Lehr
George Raub
Uri Best
Nicholas Best
Adam Merkle
Jeremiah Best
George William Keils
George Best,

all of German stock, while there were some of the name of Richard and others
of the English-speaking race.

A large amount of land in the township was held by William Allen, of
Philadelphia, under a deed from the Lord Proprietaries, dated August 29th,
1728. It was from him that the Bests-Jeremish, George, and
Nicholas-purchased their lands; and their purchases must have been made
earlier than 1740, as their names, as property holders, are found mentioned
in an old survey of this portion of Bucks county, which was made in that year.

About the year 1764, Jacob Best, great-grandfather to John, Josiah, and
Peter Best, built the stone house now occupied by Josiah Best. Also, in
1762, Christian Best, built the stone house now owned by Christian Cullmer.
Both these houses are in a good state of perservation.


In those years, these old settlers worked at their clearings during the
day, with their rifles always within easy reach, and at night they crossed
to the Jersey side of the Delaware to meet other white settlers for mutual
protection against Indian attack.

The seventh generation are now living on the land originally bought by
the Bests, and which has never been out of the possession of the family.
There are some Indian traditions in this township, but they must be read
with the due allowance, after being handed down verbally for several
successive generations.

It is said that the kitchen now attached to the Valley Hotel, at Glendon,
was once used as a place of refuge and defence against the Indians. This
was built in 1740, and wits perforated with loop-holes through which to
fire on the savage enemy. The door was of white oak, six inches thick, and
in it were deep marks, supposed to have been made by battering rams. We
have been unable to gather any fact that would show that any such a fight
occurred, though it is not impropable.

The last family of Indians living in Williams’s township, resided on the
banks of the Lehigh, where the Keystone Iron Companys Works now stand. The
foundation of their hut was ploughed up and thrown off during the memory of
John Best. He also remembers hearing his father say that before the Indians
left, he saw them one day on the flat near a large walnut tree fighting
among themselves; when one made an attack upon his companion and, to save
himself from danger, ran around the tree. The other, reversing his course,
struck him with his tomahawk and killed him instantly, and then buried him
on the spot where lie fell. They all left the neighborhood a short time
thereafter. The spot where this occurred was covered by the tow-path of the
Lehigh Canal.

The first tavern opened in Williams township was built in the year 1770,
and kept by a Widow Morgan. Perhaps the reason why the township was without
a public house for so many years after its first settlement was on account
of its proximity to the town of Easton, where taverns were rather
overabundant than otherwise.

In the year 1773, the total valuation of real estate in the township was
£966 = $2,576, The taxes in that year amounted to £9 5s 10d., and the
number of taxables, seventy-eight. The “single men” of the township then
numbered only five. There were at that time two grist-mills in Williams,
one owned by Henry Moritz, and the other by Jacob Riech.

In the year 1760, the population: of the township had increased to two
hundred and forty
in 1770, it reached a little over four hundred
in 1780, it was five hundred and fifty
in 1790, it was seven hundred and twenty-six
in 1800, it had grown to eight hundred and forty-six
in 1810, it was very nearly 1,200
it 1820 was 1,590,
in 1830 2,707
in 1840 1,937
in 1850 2,634.

In the last named year, Williams township produced
16,272 bushels of wheat
11,365 bushels of rye
22,830 bushels of corn
8,570 bushels of oats
340 bushels of buckwheat
11,085 bushels of potatoes
1,645 tons of hay
42,150 pounds of butter

There were
446 families
444 dwelling houses
107 farms in the township

The assessment of 1853 was as follows:

11,442 Acres of Land (av’g $55.34 per Acre) $633,218
Money at Interest 63,212
313 Horses and 523 Cows value, 20,934
Stock in Banks, ect., 3,160
106 Pleasure Carriages 3,290
Total $723,814
State Tax $2,180 11
County Tax 1,937 52
Road Tax 1,000 00
School Tax 700 00
Number of Schools 10
Number of Teachers 10

In 1870, the population of Williams was 2,428, an apparent decrease of
two hundred and four since the year 1850, but it must be remembered that at
that time, the population of both South Easton and Glendon was included in
the township figures, which was not the case in the last census.

The land now comprised in Williams township, was, when first settled,
heavily clothed with fine timber of white and black oaks, walnut, hickory,
and chestnut; the latter being found principally on the hills. The ridges
of the Lehigh Hills cover a good portion of the township.

Among these is one known for a century and a half, as the Hexen Kopf
(witches’ head, or knob), in the interior of the township, “an isolated
prominence on one of the ridges of the South Mountain. It affords an
extensive view of the surrounding country, and having been regarded by the
first German settlers, with superstitious awe, as the fancied scene of the
witches revelries, has become a place of resort for pleasure parties.”

The soil along the rivers is limestone land, which is naturally very
productive, while that of the hills is more gravelly and not so fertile,
although many of the farmers, by taking advantage of their easy access to
lime, have raised their farms to a high state of cultivation. The springs,
on the mountain and hills, cannot be surpassed for their quality of clear
mineral water. There has been considerable attention paid by the
inhabitants to the planting of good qualities of fruit trees, and in this
respect the township is, perhaps, equal to any in the county.

Mr. Seitz’s grapery, near South Easton, is well stocked with the choicest
varieties of vines, which reflect credit to the township as well as to the