Petitions for a new Pennsylvania county called “Lykens” in 1837

We have previously documented efforts by residents of northern Dauphin County, southern Northumberland County, and western Schuylkill County to form a new county that better represented their interests. Residents in these areas found themselves separated by geography and distance from political power. In other cases, there was a social chasm that separated these areas from their county government.

Read our previous piece on this region’s efforts to form a new county

After some new research, we have found the earliest known record of residents of these regions seeking to form their own county in Central Pennsylvania.

The following comes from The Star and Republican Banner of Gettysburg in February 1837. It was written by the newspaper’s correspondent covering state politics at the capital in Harrisburg:

Tuesday being one of the stated days for the presentation of Petitions, of course little of anything else was done. Among a variety of others presented were 29 signed by more than 900 citizens praying for the erection of a new County out of parts of Dauphin, Northumberland, and Schuylkill counties to be called Lykens.

These petitions clearly went nowhere in the state legislature and dissatisfied residents of the southwestern Coal Region continually brought the issue to the table throughout the 19th century.

Williamstown Coal Miners
This region had significantly different politics than the surrounding communities due to geography and different cultures based on the mining industry and immigration.

Featured Image: The Pennsylvania Capitol as it looked through most of the 19th century, including when these petitions were delivered in February 1837 (Library of Congress)


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