CONYNGHAM TOWNSHIP

Is one of the young and small townships in the way of population.  It was formed in 1875, taken from Hollenback township, is thinly settled, and quite rough and hilly, less than one-third being arable land.
        The first settler was Martin Harter, who came in 1795 and made his improvement near the mouth of Little Wapwallopen creek.  His immediate followers were James McNeil, James Santee, Philip Fenstermacher, John Andreas, Michael Weiss, John Fenstermacher and Jeremiah Hess.  These came up from Northampton county; were nearly all GErmans, whose descendants are now the leading men in the township.  The first white child born in the township was John Fenstermacher, Jr., a grandson of the first settler, Martin Harter; birth, 1804.  The first settlers cut a road along the river, and this was the one common outlet for all.  In 1797 Martin Harter built the first frame house; his old homestead went by descent to the heirs of Absalom Heller.  In 1822 Philip Fenstermacher built the first brick house, which in modern times became the property of A.K. Harter.  This descent of properties gives a correct idea of the intermarrying of the descendants of the early settlers.  In 1829 George Fenstermacher built the first stone house on the old homestead of Martin Harter; afterward a frame addition was added and a hotel opened in it, and was successfully run for several years.  The first store was opened in 1805 by Philip Fenstermacher.  It was not run a great while.  In 1836 John Heller was the merchant.  Jacob Romick, the first blacksmith, had his shop where was built the stone house.  Romick's successor was Peter Mauer, who had learned his trade with him.  A widow, Mrs. Frances Lewis, built the first gristmill; it stood a short distance above the present Samuel Heller mill on Wapwallopen creek.  Her title to the land is dated in 1806.  When this was worn out and decayed a three-story stone mill took its place, built in 1825 by the McPherson brothers.  Philip Fenstermacher built the first sawmill in 1811 on the small spring stream bear A. Boyd's farm and residence.  John Fenstermacher built an early-day distillery near by Romick's blacksmith shop.  The first school was German, 1808, taught by a man named Kroll, in a building belonging to Martin Harter.  In the course of time this temple of learning became the pigsty of A.K. Harter.  An English school was opened in 1811 in a house belonging to Michael Weiss.  A schoolhouse was erected in 1813.
        Wapwallopen village is in the extreme south corner of the township.  Its various names indicate much of the place's history; as, the "Glen," "Powder Glen," "Hellertown," "Powder Hole," etc.  The Dupont powder mills constitute pretty much all there is of the place.
        There are three different collections of houses, but all combined are Wapwallopen.  The powder mills, as said, with a store and a merchant mill and a small cluster of houses, have been known as Hellertown.  The railroad station is the main business center.  About 300 hands are working in the powder mills, and this gives quite a population.  Altogether there are 3 general stores, 1 hotel, 1 saddler shop and a blacksmith shop.  G. P. Parish & Co. came here and built the powder mills near the mouth of the creek and operated the same until 1857, and sold to the Duponts - the largest powder manufacturers in the world.

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This Town History was donated by Deb Horton.

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