1600's ~ 1700's
The Province of Pennsylvania was created in 1681 when King Charles II granted a tract of land in the New World to William Penn. After the death of William Penn, his sons, John, Thomas and Richard, became the owners of Pennsylvania. The Delaware Indians deeded that part of Lehigh County lying between the Lehigh (South) Mountain and the Blue Mountains to Penn’s sons
A wave of immigrants from Germany’s Palatinate settled in Whitehall Township, the first being Jacob Kohler, who settled in the vicinity of Egypt about 1728. The settlers staked their claim on the lands by applying to the Penn's for a land warrant. They cleared the land for farming and established churches around which villages grew.
The local tribe of native Americans, the Lenni Lenapes, lived peacefully among the white settles for a time. They suffered injustices at the hands of the settlers and lashed back during the last Indian uprising in Lehigh County in 1763. Fort Deshler, which stood near Rt. 145 at Chestnut Street, played a key role in the defense of our lands during this battle in which 23 settlers were killed.
1800's ~ Early 1900's
The original Whitehall Township , established in 1753, was split into the three townships of Whitehall , North Whitehall and south Whitehall in 1867. The name Whitehall is said to have originated from Lynford Lardner’s hunting lodge that was painted with whitewash. Lardner named it “Grouse Hall”, but the common people of the region called it “White Hall”. Whitehall Township ’s villages include Cementon , Egypt , Fullerton , Hokendauqua, Mickleys, Stiles and West Catasauqua . Coplay was also part of Whitehall until it incorporated as a borough in 1869.
Agriculture was the major industry until the mid-1800’s. Today, about 2,000 acres are under cultivation. There were six grist mills in Whitehall , built to process grains for the farmers into flour and animal feed. Only one grist mill remains - the Helfrich Springs Grist Mill. It is the home of the Whitehall Historical Preservation Society, which has preserved the building for use as a local history museum.
Completion of the Lehigh Canal in 1829 led to further development. Discovery of iron ore deposits brought Whitehall into the Industrial Revolution when the first blast iron furnace was built in Hokendauqua in 1854. This was immediately followed by the establishment of a railroad system to transport raw materials to the furnaces and to ship the final product. Population grew rapidly as these industries attracted Welsh and Irish immigrants.
While the railroads were being constructed, cuts in the bedrock led to the discovery of Whitehall ’s deposits of Jacksonburg limestone or “cement rock”. David O. Saylor perfected and patented the process of manufacturing Portland Cement. The first Portland Cement plant was located between the villages of Cementon and Coplay. Others quickly followed and, by 1914, 70% of the cement produced in the United States came from the “Cement Belt” or Lehigh District. The cement industry attracted a new wave of immigrants from Austria-Hungary , creating yet another population spurt.
Whitehall became classified as a First Class Township with a population of 7,935 in 1900. This gave the Township specified municipal rights for supplying electric lights, highways and sewers at public expense.
Recent & Present Day
The post-World War II era began the transition from the manufacturing industries to the retail industry as Whitehall became a bedroom community as a suburb of Allentown . The individual villages became united into one entity known as Whitehall in 1968, when the U.S. Post Office combined its separate town branches.
In 1974, voters approved the adoption of a Home Rule Charter form of government, creating a seven-member legislative body and an elected Executive. Today, with an annual budget in excess of $16 million, Whitehall provides a full range of municipal services to its residents.
In the year 2006, Whitehall Township offers all of the amenities of a highly desirable quality of life, as well as an excellent climate for business, commerce and industry.
As of the census² of 2000, there were 24,896 people, 10,376 households, and 6,817 families residing in the township. The population density was 764.7/km² (1,981.1/mi²). There were 10,744 housing units at an average density of 330.0/km² (855.0/mi²). The racial makeup of the township was 90.56% White, 2.74% African American, 0.13% Native American, 3.62% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 1.71% from other races, and 1.18% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.37% of the population.
There were 10,376 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.3% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 452% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.93.
In the township the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 22.7% from 45 to 64, and 18.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 92.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.3 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $43,070, and the median income for a family was $51,597. Males had a median income of $39,175 versus $26,933 for females. The per capita income for the township was $21,383. About 4.4% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.7% of those under age 18 and 7.0% of those age 65 or over.
The Lehigh Valley Mall, the largest Lehigh Valley-based shopping mall, is located in Whitehall Township.
Whitehall Township operates as a First Class Township. On November 5, 1974, the township adopted a Home Rule Charter form of government that became effective January 5, 1976.
As part of this governmental arrangement, the Township has separate executive and legislative branches. The legislative branch consists of a Township Board of Commissioners of seven (7) members, each serving 4-year terms. Four of the seats have terms that overlap the remaining three seat terms (e.g. four of the current terms end in 2007, while the remaining 3 terms end in 2009). The seated members then elect a President and Vice President who conduct Board meetings.
The executive branch consists of a Township Executive, who also serves a 4-year term. The Township Executive may appoint an Assistant Township Executive at his/her discretion, with approval from the Board of Commissioners. The Assistant Township Executive does not automatically become Township Executive should the standing Executive leave office for any reason--a replacement is to be appointed by the Board of Commissioners.
Whitehall Township also maintains an elected Treasurer who serves a 4-year term.
The Township is served by the Whitehall-Coplay School District.
Sources: Wikipedia, Whitehall Township Web Site