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History of West Penn Township
West Penn Township was settled in 1756 and incorporated in 1811. West Penn Township extends from the top of the Blue Mountain to the South and Tamaqua Borough to the North. The Township is approximately 58 square miles with over 150 miles of roads. The Township has three zip codes: 18211 Andreas, 17960 New Ringgold, and 18252 Tamaqua within its borders.
The early settlers of West Penn Township came from south of the Blue Mountain and were primarily of German origin. These settlers found evidence of Indian villages, mounds and burial grounds. Skirmishes with the Indians in the Township were not uncommon. Fort Franklin was built in 1756 near Snyders as part of a series of forts along the Blue Mountains to help maintain the safety and welfare of the first settlers. Among the first settlers in the 1760’s were Steigerwalt, Gilbert, and Ohl, who settled in the Lizard Creek area.
Farming was the first activity in the Township. Later with the influx of settlers came stores, mills, and taverns. Stores and later a tavern by Tobias Wehr sprung up along Lizard Creek sometime around 1780. Mantz’s store, located in what later became known as Mantzville, was operating around 1807 and in 1832 came the Steigerwalt’s store. Later Adam Andrew store was established along Lizard Creek. The Zehner family built a grist mill in Mush Valley about 1763, and later Michael Ohl built another grist mill along Lizard Creek in 1812. Other mills throughout the Township were built in 1827, 1830, 1831 and 1835. Several Tanneries were established in the years 1822, 1836, 1839 and 1859. As agriculture became more mechanized in the 1830’s Elias Snyder and Son was established in 1869, specializing in threshing machines.
*Some of this information was taken from W.W. Munsell & Co. 1881 History of Schuylkill County.