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History of Butler Township
Butler Township is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and is located in the southern part of Luzerne County. the Township encompasses 33.6 square miles.
Butler Township was settled in 1784 by John Balliet and incorporated into Butler Township from parts of Sugarloaf Township.
The American Indians passed through but did not settle in Butler Township. Living in semi-permanent villages, the Eastern Woodland Indians supplemented their agricultural diet by hunting and fishing. The preferred to locate on the fertile soil of the major rivers and floodplains. The shunned the ridge and valley domain, in which Butler Township is located, calling it Towanensing, the wilderness.
Connecticut sponsored the first settlements along the northern reaches of the Susquehanna. Connecticut's royal charter of 1662 defined the colony's boundary as extending into Pennsylvania. The Pennamite War resulted. There was a conflict between Connecticut and the Penn Family. William Penn did not receive his charter until 1681. The Pennsylvania Connecticut conflict had a significant impact on the history of Butler Township. The Township was named in honor of Colonel Zebulon Butler, the leader of the Connecticut forces.
In 1784 John Balliet, with his wife and children were the first to settle in butler Township. they did not remain alone for long. Within two are three years, other families moved into the valley. Some descendants of the original settlers are still living in Butler Township.
In 1809, the first sawmill was built along the Nescopeck Creek, and by 1830, several more sawmills had located along the Nescopeck Creek
Wool was the major clothing fiber in the early days of the Republic. By the end of the nineteenth century, sufficient wool was being produced in the township to warrant the construction of a mill. In 1810, Phillip Drum established a wool processing mill along the Little Nescopeck near the settlement then known as Ashville. Today, however, the area is known as Fritzingertown.
The first gristmill was built along the Big Nescopeck in 1813 by Samuel Woodering.
Most of the Butler pioneers spoke German, while English was spoken along the upper reaches of the Susquehanna.
Although the first settlers were German, the were split denominationally into Reformed and Lutherans. In 1792, the first church was established. Services were held in the homes of their members. Both denominations expressed a desire to establish a building dedicated to the worship of God. In 1799 they pooled their resources and built a Union Church building in Hughesville (now Saint John's). The Union Church was dedicated on April 18,1809, by the Reformed minister, Von der Sloot. According to the by-laws of the Union Church, each congregation would have exclusive use of the building on alternate Sundays.
The pioneers did not overlook the need to educate their children. During the first years, the children's instruction took place at home. They constructed a log school on the ground of the Union Church in 1809. As with the church services, instruction was in German. Between 1830 and 18700, Butler township had constructed eight one-room school-houses. The Drums School was moved in 1870 from its original site to a new location across the road from the present Drums School. At that time, the school curriculum was extended to include the tenth grade level. In 1941, the original wooden Drums School was closed and a larger brick structure was built across the street. The following year the small one-room schools were closed and their students bused to the Drums School. The school directors sold the small buildings to the adjoining landowners the same year. In 1966, the Butler Township School District merged with several others to form the Hazleton Area School District. The Butler Township Parent-Teacher Association was formed in 1955.