Bethlehem, Pennsylvania collection 1741-1784
Collection Scope and Content Note
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This collection contains letters and documents related to the early history and economic development of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Most of the items originated in the town itself, though correspondence addressed to Bethlehem locals also forms a significant portion of the material. Examples of documents are a copy of the original indenture for the plot of land that became Bethlehem (July 18, 1741), an order to open a road through the town (June 7, 1755), and a number of receipts and financial documents. Of interest is a petition sent to the Pennsylvania General Assembly on behalf of a group of Bethlehem residents, who wrote, "...the said Brethren are willing and ready, to contribute whatever sums of Money shall be necessary for the Defence of his Majesty's Person and Government in such Proportion, as such sum is usually rated on other Persons residing in the said Northhampton County" (March 30, 1759). Moravian and other religious influences are apparent throughout the collection, which has a minute book kept by an anonymous religious society between 1745 and 1747. Other material includes a significant amount of correspondence focusing on financial matters, as well as a series of affectionate personal letters written by John Okely of Philadelphia to Heartzel Brownfield in Bethlehem. Also of note is a German-language letter from Peter Böhler to an unnamed group of brethren about Native Americans and treatment of Native Americans in Philadelphia at the close of the French and Indian War.