Harrison Hoppes is back. The former 1953 Lehighton High School senior class president and valedictorian has retired to his boyhood hometown of Lehighton.
During his career, Hoppes chalked up degrees in engineering, management and a doctorate in business administration, and attained positions of chairman, corporate vice president, and director of operations in a variety of high tech companies.
Along the way, Hoppes began researching his family tree, following it back to an offshoot of the 12th century Habsburg family that ruled the Holy Roman Empire. His curiosity and scholarly research led him to write seven books - one of those books sheds a new light on Carbon County, Behind the Blue Mountain: Tales from Upper Northampton County, PA during the 18th Century.
Carbon County was cobbled together in 1843 from parts of Northampton and Monroe Counties. What would become Lehighton (Lehigh Town) and Jim Thorpe (Mauch Chunk) were part of Northampton. To be accurate, the history of what is now Carbon County in the years between 1700 and 1800, was Upper Northampton County.
In 1700, William Penn had just begun organizing the colony of Pennsylvania, a land that was populated by a variety of warring Native American tribes which included the Delaware/Lenape, Mohican, Iroquois and Susquehannocks. Behind the Blue Mountain begins its discussion of the 18th century with the Native American tribes weakened by years of conflict with one another, and willing to trade with the Europeans for arms and ammunition.
Following the fraudulent Walking Purchase of 1737, Pennsylvania's European settlers began expanding to the north side of the Blue Mountain, what they called at the time, "behind the Blue Mountain."
The Moravians were the first group to expand behind the Blue Mountain. In the 1740s a group of Moravians from Bethlehem founded a village on the Mahoning Creek which they called Gnaden Huetten. Their intention was for the village to serve as an outpost for living together with the two local Native American tribes, the Munsee branch of the Lenape and the Mohicans.
"Half of the Indians in Gnaden Hütten were Mohican," Hoppes said. "They left the New Jersey area because the New Jersey colony made life difficult for them."
Hoppes' book is divided into four periods: 1700-1755 Early Settlements in Northeastern Pennsylvania, 1755-1770 The French and Indian War, 1770-1785 The Revolutionary Turmoil, and from 1785 on - Toward the 19th Century.
"I grew up behind the Blue Mountain in northeast Pennsylvania, never realizing what a boundary that majestic wall posed two hundred years ago," Hoppes wrote in the book's Acknowledgements.
"To Its south lay a broad, fertile valley that quickly became populated in the 18th century by white settlers from northern Europe. To its north, a series of seeming endless smaller mountain ridges created a hugeness inhabited and controlled by Native Americans until approximately 1785.
'By my youth in the 1940s, my homeland no longer was a unique location. True, hunting, fishing, trapping and hiking were more popular in the woods and streams on our side of the Blue than in the Lehigh Valley to our south, but it took a special event, such as getting off from school on the first day of buck season, to remind me that living behind the Mountain was somewhat special."
Everything in the book came from primary sources. Hoppes, who is fluent in German, researched material from the Moravian archives in Bethlehem, with supplemented material from the Pennsylvania Archives series.
"I reviewed many secondary sources and found they were entirely false," Hoppes noted. "Yet they are predominantly recognized as what happened during that period. One of the purposes of this book is to provide a revised history to correct the errors that are common today."
Behind the Blue Mountain: Tales from Upper Northampton County, PA during the 18th Century was published in a limited edition. For information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.