Lower Macungie Township
Lower Macungie is one of the fastest growing areas of Pennsylvania and is undergoing rapid suburbanization. Some fast-growing areas of the township include Ancient Oaks, Brandywine Village, Millbrook Farms, and Shepherd Hills.
Lower Macungie Township was settled in the early 18th century by German immigrant farmers who found the rich, fertile soil and amply watered land to their liking. They remained, caring for their farms, raising large families and eventually becoming prosperous. The massive bank barns and impressive stone farmhouses that can still be found throughout that Township are their legacy to us.
Today Lower Macungie is noted for its comfortable housing developments. It has become one of the most desirable parts of the Lehigh Valley for many families, who have chosen to live here because of the Township's attractive landscape, acres of open space, and excellent schools.
Macungie Township was formed in 1743, when Lehigh County was still part of Bucks County. It comprised the area of present Upper And Lower Macungie Townships, including the boroughs of Macungie and Alburtis. The population then was 650 persons. Northampton County was created in 1752; Lehigh County was separated from it in 1812. The population of Macungie Township in 1810 was 2,420. On May 5, 1832, Lehigh County approved a petition to divide Macungie Township into two, making Upper and Lower Macungie the first new Townships to be created in Lehigh County.
The population in the following census, in 1840, was 2,156. By 1890 it had reached a 19th century peak of 3,657, then began a decline until 1960, when it rose to 3,859. It had increased dramatically in each decade since then, climbing to 8,814 in 1970, 12,958 in 1980, 16,000 in 1990, and 19,220 in 2000.
The name 'Macungie' is derived from a Native American word meaning bear swamp, or place where the bears feed. The early Pennsylvania German settlers took land that had been hunting grounds for the native Lenni Lenape tribe, adopting their name for the area. They cleared the forests and planted crops, selling what they could at market. Eventually they raised enough money to buy land warrants in Philadelphia form the proprietors, William Penn and his heirs.
Early King's Highways, in reality no more than trails suitable in good weather for wagons, were laid north-south and east-west through the area in the mid 18th century. These were used both by new settlers arriving and by wagon trains of farmers traveling to market in Philadelphia to sell their crops for cash. Route 100 and Route 222 through Lower Macungie still follow basically the same routes as when there were laid out in 1735 and 1753.
For generations, the way of life changed little. Mixed farming was the occupation of most of the residents of Macungie Township. Life centered on the family, the farm, and the church (either Lutheran or Reformed).
Formal schooling was perused by very few boys beyond the ability to read, write, do arithmetic calculations, and speak sufficient English to conduct business. Those who wanted further educations had to get it elsewhere. Girls attended school only until they had learned the rudiments of writing and reading, an important ability so they could read the Bible to their children. All schooling was of secondary importance to the work of the family - daily and season farm chores came first.
Lower Macungie's landowners did not accept provisions of Pennsylvania controversial 1835 Free School act until 1849. Opposition was strong, largely due to the fear that the German language would be displaced. By 1854 there were fourteen schoolhouses in the Township, and an average of four months of schooling. Attendance was often erratic. By 1884, there were 22 schoolhouses, scattered throughout the township, so no child would have to walk more then one mile from home. A good relationship among Township school directors, parents, and teachers did much to improve attendance before the passage in 1895 of state's compulsory attendance law, which required children to go to school from the age of 8 to 13.
Most of the one and two room schoolhouses still standing in Lower Macungie date from the late 19th century and the early 20th century. They have been converted into homes and offices.
The East Penn Union School District was created in 1952, as a result of the necessity to build a new high school to serve the region. Previously, Township students had attended Emmaus High School, then in the Jefferson school building, with their tuition paid by the township school district. In 1966, the name 'union' was dropped form the new consolidated district's name.
Rapid changes were taking place in rural Lower Macungie in the early 1960's, as large tracts of farmland were subdivided into residential neighborhoods. Ancient Oak, Shepherd Hills and Ancient Oak west were the first of the large new housing developments. Wescosville Elementary School was opened in 1966 to accommodate the increasing number of children, and in 1970 Shoemaker school was opened. Eyer Junior High opened in 1974 and Lower Macungie Middle School most recently opened in 1998.
Change is not new in Lower Macungie. When in the mid to late 19th century, the Lehigh Valley became one of the states leading producers of cast iron and iron products, most of the farms took advantage of the need for iron ore. On the neat, one hundred acre farms that had been the sustenance of the population for so long, pits began to appear, and washeries to clean the limonite ore of its clay. Large surface clay deposits are very common throughout the area, created by the settling ponds of the numerous washeries. Ore was hauled from the mines to furnaces in Macungie and Alburtis, and to loading wharves along the Indian Creek Road in East Macungie, to be transported on the East Penn Branch of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad. This line later became known as Conrail.
The aspect of the Township changed again, only more permanently when housing subdivisions began to sprout new homes in the early 1960's. High assessments on farmland and the decisions in late 1960's by the Lehigh County Commissioners to place a sewer interceptor along the little Lehigh Creek, right through the center of Lower Macungie Township, precipitated the sale of many farms as elderly farmers sought to make the most of the value of their land. By 1988, homebuilding had consumed 3,500 acres of land. In 2001, the Township Community Center and Library opened its doors to all Township residents.
Lower Macungie Township is 23,2 square miles (14,657 acres) in size, with a population of over 19,000. Lower Macungie is a Township of the second class, under Pennsylvania Law. As such, it has three supervisors as its governing body; each is elected for 6 years. From the days when the supervisors did little more then ensure that the townships roads where maintained in good condition, the position has evolved into a complex one requiring a working knowledge of land use, planning, road building, state and federal regulations, finances, and many other fields.
As of the census2 of 2000, there were 19,220 people, 7,158 households, and 5,611 families residing in the township. The population density was 328.8/km² (851.5/mi²). There were 7,405 housing units at an average density of 126.7/km² (328.1/mi²). The racial makeup of the township was 93.77% White, 0.58% African American, 0.11% Native American, 4.31% Asian, 0.48% from other races, and 0.74% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.52% of the population.
There were 7,158 households out of which 34.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 70.2% were married couples living together, 6.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 21.6% were non-families. 18.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the township the population was spread out with 25.2% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 29.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 95.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $69,592, and the median income for a family was $78,695. Males had a median income of $60,325 versus $33,145 for females. The per capita income for the township was $30,202. About 1.3% of families and 2.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.1% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.
The Township is served by the East Penn School District.
Sources: Wikipedia, Lower Macungie Township Web Site
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