History of Myerstown
The Isaac Meier Homestead, Inc.
In the early 1730's, German immigrants settled in the area now known as Myerstown. On early maps Myerstown was called Herclerode, after the first landowner, Mr. Valentine Herclerode. The Herclerode house still stands on South College Street, and is known as the Isaac Meier House.
Mr. Isaac Meier married Mr. Herclerode's daughter, Catherine, and bought the home and plantation. The home is located near the Tulpehocken Creek and the town was later known as Tulpehocken Town. Tulpehocken is a Lenape Indian word which means "land of the turtles". Mr. Meier laid out the streets for his town in 1768.
In July of 1770, Mr. Meier was shot and killed in a local tavern and his murderer was never found. After Mr. Meier died, his town gradually became known as Meier-Town, in tribute to him. After awhile, the spelling of the name took on an English form of Myer rather than the German form of Meier.
Many of the early homes in the Myerstown area were built of limestone or logs. Examples of these original buildings can still be seen on Main Avenue, South Railroad Street and South Cherry Street.
During the 1820's, a part the Union Canal ran right through the Borough. Utilizing the streams of the area, eight canal locks were constructed and canal boats were built locally. This helped Myerstown to flourish and soon factories, hotels, and stores sprang up in the vicinity.
Then, in the 1850's the Lebanon Valley Railroad was built south of the Union Canal, which brought more prosperity to Myerstown. After the Civil War, horse-trading was a large business in Myerstown, which spun-off to other businesses. Palatinate College as started and later became Albright College and is now the Evangelical School of Theology.
During the American Civil War, many young men volunteered to fight for their beliefs. Several of the many heros of the Union forces were born and raised in Myerstown. One of these heros was Color Sgt. Henry Brehm of the 149 Pennsylvania Regiment. He was mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863 and died of his wounds in August of that year. Sgt. Brehm 's body was returned to his home and is buried in the Union Cemetery on Washington Avenue.
The Borough of Myerstown was incorporated February 5th 1912 and held it's first Council meeting on March 22nd of the same year in the High School Building. The first Council members were: Henry Coal, President; John Donges; James Kolbach; Isaac Haak; Monroe Haak; Samuel Beckey and Joseph Painter. The Mayor was Addison Bowen. The population was 2335 and the assessed valuation of all properties was $1,198,875. Some of the original businesses are still operated in Myerstown ... over a hundred years of service to the community. Examples include: Bahney's Furniture, Wilhelm's Hardware and Kohl Brothers Well Drilling/Pumps.
The ethnic diversity of Myerstown is manifested in the architecture of the early German immigrants, the canal and railroad dug by the Irish and the stonework in the quarries by the Italians.
In this day and age of speed and anonymity, the Borough of Myerstown maintains it's "small town" atmosphere where neighbors know each other and cheerful greetings are shared everyday.