Township History

Feel free to visit the Schoonover Municipal Center on Municipal Drive to find out more about our township. The Center is open Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4 pm.

Many thanks to the citizens of Middle Smithfield Township for contributing photographs and memorabilia at our annual Memory Maker luncheons. Please watch the Event listings for this year's date. A very special thank you to long time resident and advocate Nancy Michael Shukaitis and her book, Lasting Legacies of the Lower Minisink (© 2007 ISBN 978-1-57027-193-9).

All through the French and Indian War (1754-1763) and the American Revolution (1775-1783), the area now known as Middle Smithfield was Native American frontier and the site of the majority of attacks on white settlements in Eastern Pennsylvania. Middle Smithfield Township was established in the year 1794 having been a part of Smithfield or Upper Smithfield Township as it was called, while being in Northampton County. Several county divisions later, Middle Smithfield became part of Pike County, named for Zebulon Montgomery Pike, discoverer of Pike's Peak. In 1814, Pike County included the Townships of Middle Smithfield, Delaware, Upper Smithfield, Lackawaxen and Palmyra. By the Act of April 1, 1836, a portion of Pike County was cut off to form part of Monroe County, named for President James Monroe. Since that date forward, Middle Smithfield Township has been located in Monroe County.

A Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker for Fort Hyndshaw can be found along Route 209 south west of Bushkill. The marker reads "FORT HYNDSHAW Built in 1756 by order of the Providence of Pennsylvania. Northernmost of a line of defenses erected during the French and Indian War."

One of the earliest families in the Bushkill area was that of Manuel Gunsaules, a Spaniard with a wife and ten children. They occupied lands on both sides of the Bushkill Creek. One of his daughters, Elizabeth, was captured by Native Americans at the age of seven years while she and her father were hunting for horses on the Delaware flats near the Bushkill Church. The attackers started in pursuit of them and Mr. Gunsaules escaped by jumping into a washout, where he remained concealed, but little Elizabeth ran in a different direction and was overtaken. That night in camp they talked of killing her, but an older man among them objected saying that she was a smart girl and he would take care of her. She accompanied them to Canada where she married a Chief, bore two children and lived for thirty-two years. After the death of her husband, "Lizzie" was located by her birth family and persuaded to return to Pennsylvania.

A major Native American path leading from the Philadelphia area to Kingston, New York, almost identically followed the route that U.S. Route 209 now takes through Middle Smithfield. This provided a means of travel and communication between the lower Delaware River to the south and the Hudson River to the North. It was called the Minsi Path and went through Minisink ("at the place where stones are gathered together"), the principle Munsee village. Daniel Brodhead and Nicholas Depui used this trail to take their farm products to Esopus on the Hudson River. Today Route 209 is a major thoroughfare in our township.

Ferry service was often used to cross the Delaware River between Pahaquarry Township, NJ and Middle Smithfield Township. The Dimmick/Shoemaker Ferry ran from the early 1800's until about 1940 and used an underwater cable in low water and an overhead cable in high water. The DeWitt Ferry was operated by three generations of the DeWitt family. The Zimmerman Ferry was used by many summer guests on their way to summer camps in Middle Smithfield Township. This ferry service ended in 1927 when the Pennsylvania Power and Light purchased it along with the Zimmerman farm. The Decker/Grube Ferry was the oldest public ferry on this section of the Delaware River, traveling between Walpack Township, NJ and Middle Smithfield. Philip Rosencrans purchased theferry and in 1898 moved it about 3/4 mile upstream to Bushkill, PA. As Rosencrans Ferry, the service lasted until 1945 when a plane accidentally cut the cable.