John Pritiskutch Reproductions

History of Berks County - Longswamp Township

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

Longswamp was originally settled by Germans. In common with other townships it suffered from the barbarous incursions of the Indians, and its early history is full of accounts of the outrages committed by the natives.

While some attention is paid to agricultural pursuits in the township, the principal interest is that of iron mining. Every part of Longswamp appears to be underlaid with valuable deposits of iron ore; and new mines are constantly being developed. Even in places where it has not before been suspected, the owner of a farm suddenly finds himself rich in the possession of a valuable mine of mineral wealth. Over one hundred mines have been opened within the limits of the township, with an annual production of half a million of tons. Hematite ore of a very rich quality is now being taken from the principal mine in Fritchdale about one mile from Topton.

Owing to the importance of this branch of industry, the township is intersected with a net-work of railroads. Chief among these is the East Penn, which runs through the heart of Longswamp. It has three passenger stations within the township, prominent among which is Topton. The Catasauqua & Fogelsville Railroad passes through the eastern portion, and affords shipping facilities for thousands of tons of ore. The Allentown Railroad skirts along the western border of the township. A branch of the Catasauqua & Fogelsville also extends through the northern portion.

Within the past year quite an important industry has sprung up in Longswamp, known as the Berks County China Clay Works. Some three years ago a specimen of white clay was discovered on the farm of Mr. Long, a short distance from Mertztown. Attention being attracted to it, operations were commenced at once. An engine was erected, and for a whole year the experiment was tried without profit. Recently at a great depth, a deposit of the right kind of clay was found. It is now shipped to Philadelphia, and used principally for the manufacture of white china ware. These are the only works of the kind in the United States.

In educational matters Longswamp is not behind the times. The school-houses, of which there are fourteen in number, are mostly of recent construction, and well supplied with modern improvements. There are four new school-houses to be built during the present year. The one at Longswamp Centre is graded, and has been furnished in fine style. When the improvements now contemplated are finished, Longswamp will in educational matters, be in the front rank of the townships in Berks County.

The village of Topton, on the East Penn Railroad, is a flourishing place, and rapidly increasing in wealth and influence.

Hancock, on the same road, is a growing place. It is nearly in the centre of the township and is an important shipping point for ore. New residences are constantly being erected, and building lots are in great demand.

Mertztown has become one of the most pleasant villages in the county. The large hotel recently erected, and the fine private residences attract the attention of passengers on the railroad.

The township is watered principally by the tributaries of the Little Lehigh river, and by a creek which rises near the line of Rockland twp., and after flowing a few miles, disappears in a limestone fissure, near the Lehigh county border.

The number of inhabitant has steadily increased. In 1810, there were only 998. In 1870 there were 2,910.

It is very easy to see that there is a brilliant prospect for Longswamp. Owing to its mineral wealth, which is apparently inexhaustable, to the fertility of the soil, to its means of communication with the outside world, and to its favorable location, it will continue to thrive and increase in importance and in population for generations to come.