John Pritiskutch Reproductions

History of Berks County - Oley Township

The following is reproduced from the 1876 Atlas of Berks County, Pennsylvania

This was settled by the French Huguenots, in about 1704. Deeds were given for land in Oley, dated 1682, before William Penn left England for this country. The Quakers also settled here about 1713. These people were great favorites with the neighboring Indians, who, instead of molesting them, even offered their services to protect them from hostile tribes at a distance, who were reported to be preparing for an attack on the settlers.

Oley is noted for its old buildings of historic interest. The house now owned by Mr. DeTurk, was built about 1766. One occupied by J. R. Eshelman is one hundred and four years old, The land owned by Gideon Hoch was bought from William Penn in 1788 by John Snashold or Snatchole. The house of William Weidner is the oldest in the township, having been erected one hundred and fifty years ago. About 1750, a stone house was built by Daniel Levan. which is owned by his descendant, Jacob Leyan, and is still in a good state of preservation. A small building on the farm of F. Y. Kauffman, Esq., was used as a stable for General Washington's horse, and is therefore an object of great historic interest to sight-seers.

Oley furnace, built in 1772, is perhaps the oldest charcoal furnace in blast in the State. It was built. by Lourey & Weiney, who afterwards sold it to General Udree. W. II. Clymer & Co., are the present owners. It turns out twenty-five tons of first-class iron per week.

The principal village is Friedensburg, situated in the northern part of the township, in the heart of a splendid agricultural region. Other places are Griesermersville, on the Oley pike, eleven miles from Reading; Spangsville, on the Manatawny creek, and Pleasantville, on the pike. All these are rapidly increasing in wealth and importance.

The inhabitants of Oley have always taken a deep interest in educational matters. Desiring that their children might enjoy better and ampler opportunities for culture than the common schools afforded. A number of the prominent men formed a stock company, in 1857, for the erection of an academy, which should meet the long-felt want. On the first day of December, of the same year, the school was opened in a now and convenient building. Although specially intended to meet a local want, yet in a short time its reputation for thorough instruction attracted a large number of students of both sexes from a distance. For the accommodation of those living outside of the township, a boarding house was erected in 1874. At the present time the school is in a flourishing condition. Not ambitiously pushing itself into notice, it has risen by the quality of its work to an enviable position among its sister institutions. Under the management of Rev. D. E. Schoedler, assisted by an able corps of instructors, it. has steadily increased in numbers and power, and will continue to prosper, so long as education is prized by the people of the country.

Too much cannot be said in praise of the fertility of the soil of this township. Of limestone formation, and highly cultivated, watered by the creeks which flow through the meadows, the land affords in harvest time a scene seldom witnessed even in the famous regions of the West. Waving fields of grain dot the landscape in every direction. The substantial houses and large barns appear shaded by pleasant groves of trees. The hills are clothed in varied colors, and the forests give a pleasing diversity to the scene. In the pastures the sleek cattle are grazing, or chewing the cud in contentment, under the shelter of some leafy tree. Truly, this is a region blessed both by nature and art. The future of the township is evidently a glorious one. As in the, past, so in the years to come, Oley will continue to be-one of the richest townships in Berks county.

The population, according to the last census, was 1,986.