Pike County, Pennsylvania, 1814 - 2014

I arrived home this morning and found a treasure on the doorstep, a rare hardcover edition of the program for the Bi-Centennial Celebration of Milford, Pike County, Pennsylvania 1733* - 1933.  An auspicious start to this, the 200th year of the formation of Pike County, 1814 - 2014, and an opportunity to examine the history of the first Pike County Court & Courthouse, explore  available Pike County records and vintage county land owner maps.

(c) Pike County Historical Society, 1933

Much of the material in the 1933 Bi-Centennial book is excerpted or paraphrased from The History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania by Alfred Mathews; Philadelphia, R. T. Peck & Co.; 1886.  Mathews' work can present difficulties when attempting to source his oral histories, traditional stories and claimed legends of the county, so proceed with caution. There is, however, lots of substantial material from state & county records: 

THE COURTS.- The first court "in and for the county of Pike" was held in the house latterly occupied by Mrs. Lee, in a room of good size up-stairs, and the county offices were crowded into the same house. The earliest entry that can be found upon the oldest book of records in existence is that of a court December 6, 1814, Associate Judges John Coolbaugh and Daniel W. Dingman "being present." The case entered was that of James Wallace against John Barnes. The action was made returnable January 16, 1815. A transcript from a justice's docket was entered, showing judgment for the plaintiff of one hundred and ninety-eight dollars.

...Judge Daniel W. Dingman sat upon the bench as associate judge for a period of twenty-six years, dating from the erection of the county, and his confrere, Associate Judge John Coolbaugh, held his exalted position nearly as long.

... The county commissioners first elected- Hezekiah Bingham, Cornelius Case and John Lattimore- held their initial meeting November 2, 1814, and after producing and filing their certificates and qualifications according to law, elected John Cross their clerk, at a salary of one hundred and fifty dollars per year, and Francis A. L. Smith, treasurer.

When they came to the consideration of the probable expenses of the county for the ensuing year, the board resolved to levy a tax of half a cent upon the dollar on all taxable property in the county. They then proceeded to the appointment of assessors in those townships, in which none had been elected according to law, viz.: in Palmyra, Moses Killam, Jr., with Erastus Kimble and Simeon Chapman as assistants; in Lackawaxen, John Crissman, with Mordecai Roberts and Jeremiah Barnes, assistants; in Upper Smithfield, Edward Mott, Jr., with Jacob Quick and George Westfall, assistants; in Delaware, Solomon Westbrook Jr., with Cooper Jagger and Everett Hornbeck, assistants; Middle Smithfield, Alexander Biles, with Daniel Jaynes and Andrew Eighlenbergh [Eilenberger], as assistants. (Note portions of Middle Smithfield would be set off to Monroe County.)

Pike County Courthouse of 1874 on the left, the original Courthouse & Jail of 1814 on the right

...The work of erecting the court-house was begun in 1814 and the stone building still standing and used as a jail was completed in 1815. It was substantially constructed of native boulders hewn square on the outer side, and the thoroughness with which its walls were laid puts to shame much more recent workmanship. The contractors were Dan. Dimmick, Jacob Quick and Samuel Anderson. At first there was no bell upon the court-house, and when the judges and lawyers and persons interested were to be summoned, the sheriff mounted the cupola and blew most piercing blasts upon a huge tin horn. This was superseded by a huge triangle, upon which the sheriff or a tipstaff dealt resounding blows that were not unmusical, and this, in turn, gave way in 1844 or 1845 to the bell which for many years announced at proper seasons that justice was about to be judicially administered.

This building served as court-house and jail until 1873, when the present court-house was constructed, and the county offices were within its walls until 1851, when a small brick building was erected in front of the site occupied by the present court-house. This was built under contract by George P. Heller.  The present handsome brick court-house, containing all of the county offices and a commodious court-room, was built in the years 1872-7[4], the first action being taken at the February and September Sessions of court in 1871.

The contract for the foundations was let to S.S. Van Auken, but afterwards rescinded and the work was done by the commissioners and sub-contractors.  The contract for building was let March 2, 1872, to A.D. Brown, for $26,096. He was afterwards allowed considerable sums for extra work. The cost of this edifice as completed has been, after careful computation by competent persons, fixed at about $45,0O0.

The people of Milford raised about $1000, purchased two town lots adjoining the public square and donated them to the county as a proper site for the building.  ~ Chapter I, Civil History. A fully searchable version of the Mathews' work is available at Hathitrust here.  
Cornerstone of the Pike County Courthouse, presented by John Fletcher Kilgour

Laying of the Corner Stone of the New Court House at Milford-Imposing Ceremonies-Fine Address by Rev. John Reid.
According to announcement the corner stone of the nwe Court House at Milford was laid yesterday afternoon.  A large concourse of people, among them representatives of nearly every part of Pike county, witnessed the ceremonies. ...

After the address, an ode was sung by the choir, when C. W. Bull, esq., announced the following articles to be place in the box to be sealed in the corner-stone:  Copy of report of the Grand Juries recommending a new court house and list of their names, order of court thereon.  Copy petition of commissioners to the court for an order to issue bonds of the county, order thereon.  Resolution of commissioners to build Court House, state of plan, contracts, &c. Copy of list of subscription to purchase lot to donate to the country as a site for the Court House.   Historical sketch of the county, public buildings, courts, &c.

Contents of the Courthouse Corner Stone, 1872.

List of officers of the court, county, representatives and resident members of the bar.  Cross's map and book of the county.  Milford Herald, Pike County Democrat, N.Y. Observer, Advocate and Journal, Public Ledger.  A court house Bond.  Rules of court, commissioners check.  Silver dollar issue of 1872, presented by J. Wallace Heller.  Copy of address delivered by Rev. John Reid.  Holy bible.  Copy of order of exercises.  Full set of the national fractional currency of the present issue, presented by W. H. Armstrong.  Treasurer's deed, bond and list of Treasurer's sale of 1872.

September 15, 1874.

The original Pike County Courthouse, which now houses the Sheriff's Office, is the second oldest courthouse in the State of Pennsylvania.

By the fall of 1874 the new courthouse was completed.  The Evening Gazette would note the approximate county population at the time was 9,000 inhabitants.








Pike County Court House,  c 1875.


Researching the Records of Pike County Online

Researching the county has always been problematic; Land Records, Deeds and Wills for the present boundaries of Pike County can be found in Bucks County through 1751, Northampton County through 1798, and Wayne County through March of 1814. FamilySearch.com, besides census records, has added browse only Probate Records for Bucks, Northampton and Wayne Counties should one care to wade through the material with the above dates in mind. Abstracts of Northampton County Wills & Estate Records, 1752-1802 is a helpful tool for pinpointing probate dates in order to find the original material in the browse only records as above. The Land Records Indices can be found on the PA State website here or in this fully searchable transcription for the Northampton Co Warrant Register as hosted by the State.  

County Maps

1872, F. W. Beers, Topographical Map of Pike Co., Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission or here, Library of Congress.  Loads of land owners, schools, roads, etc on this great Beers map.

Beers Map of Pike Co PA, 1872, detail Lehman Township

Pike County Township Warrantee maps, Pennsylvania Historic & Museum Commission:
Blooming Grove, Delaware, Dingman, Greene, Lackawaxen (North), Lackawaxen (South), Lehman, Milford, Palmyra, Porter, Shohola, Westfall. These maps are a treasure for the Minisink family researcher, the only such maps in the Tri-States NY NJ PA area.

Based on the Warrantee surveys, the 19th century John Cross map of Pike Co.: A map of the county of Pike, Pennsylvania : shewing the location and form of the original surveys with the numbers by which they are designated on the commissioner's books of said county : also the townships, streams, roads, plank roads, railroads, canals, and principal places is available from the Library of Congress.

Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for the County Seat, Milford: 1885, 1897, 1905, 1912. Apparently the other villages & towns of the county were too small for Sanborn to include in their database.

Reseaching Pike County Records On Site

The Pike County Historical Society, at 608 Broad St, Milford, abounds in resources: newspaper clippings, family files, local history books, obituaries and cemetery records. The staff will conduct research for a fee or allow you to research for a donation.  An 1877 Map of the Borough of Milford is among the many items on display. The Pike Co Administration Building, at 506 Broad St in Milford, holds volumes of Wills, Deeds, and oversize editions of each of the Township Warrantee Maps.

McLaughlin House, 1904, home of the Pike Co Historical Society

To the best of my knowledge only one Provincial Pennsylvania settler of the Minisinks survived two frontier wars and each incarnation of County - from Bucks to Northampton to Wayne to Pike - and that is Captain Johannes Van Etten, (1732 - 1815) Northampton County Militia,  who died the year after Pike County was formed. He rests alongside his second wife, Rachel Williams, in a quiet corner of Milford Cemetery.

 photo (c) 2013 Michael J Harding

Special thanks to Milford Borough Secretary, Lizanne Samuelson, Joseph White, & Michael Harding.


*As of this date, I've located no warrant for land as early as 1733, nor evidence that Thomas Quick, Sr. held such patent.  A lengthy discussion on the historical records can be found in our entry on Van Etten's 1756 Account of the Death of Thomas Quick

The Mathews history, without source or footnote, states:
About the year 1733 a Hollander named Thomas Quick emigrated from the Fatherland to the colony of New York, and not long afterwards located on the Delaware, in what afterwards became known as Upper Smithfield, and still later as Milford, Pennsylvania. His circumstances were equal to those of the affluent Dutch immigrants of that period. He pitched his tent considerably in advance of his predecessors, and, according to the testimony of his descendants, was the pioneer settler of Milford. Quick erected a log cabin, cleared land and built a barn, which he stored with wheat and maize, the fruits of his industry. 

In Early Pennsylvania Land Records as transcribed on Ancestry.com (subscription) shows a Petition to James Logan, Philadelphia, 1727:  ...Jacobus Bruin, John Hamilton, Joseph Wheeler, Thomas Quick & Hendrick Schoomaker presented a Petition to purchase parcels of vacant land on this side Delaware of the Indians, who claim it, in order to make settlements for themselves...  There is, however, no evidence as yet if this is the Thomas Quick who held the Warrant of 1750 in present day Pike County.

It is likely Thomas Quick settled on the land before 1750, the provincial warrant being issued after the fact. Perhaps more material will come to light in the future.

Quick's Mill tract on the Vandermark Creek, Milford Township Warrantee Map