By M. Minti Ray

The area of Macungie, located southwest of nearby Allentown and Emmaus, was originally home to the Lenni Lenape Native Americans who were drawn to the location by its rich deposits of jasper which they used to make spears, knives, and arrowheads. As part of William Penn’s three Pennsylvania counties, the area was given its name based on the Lenape word for “feeding place of the bears,” which would emerge in the area during times of food scarcity in the mountains. The first German immigrant settlers arrived around 1735, and the area was formally established as Millerstown in 1776 when Peter Miller purchased a local 150 acre parcel of land.  Macungie continued to develop and grow as a primarily agricultural community and was officially incorporated as the Borough of Millerstown, the second borough in Lehigh County, in 1857.

The establishment of a local route and depot of the East Penn Branch of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad in 1859 sparked a period of rapid industrial and economic development, transforming the village into a bustling rural community. Following in the footsteps of many other Lehigh Valley areas, the town merchants built their own blast furnace for iron production under the name Millerstown Iron Company in 1873. The Macungie Brass & Manufacturing Company, later purchased and renamed the East Penn Foundry Company and eventually acquired by Tyler Pipe Industries, was established in 1887.  Additional local manufacturing companies included the Century Shoe Company, the Macungie Silk Company, and the John Rems & Sons Knitting Mill. It was during this period that residents petitioned for the change of the Borough’s name to Macungie as there were many other towns in Pennsylvania with the name Millerstown. The Lehigh County Court approved the request, and the name of Macungie was officially approved on November 8, 1875.

As local iron production and manufacturing shifted to other more cost-effective regions, Macungie slowly transitioned into a residential area with a population of around 3,000 and maintains a vibrant small business community. The area is also home to expansive recreational spaces including Macungie Memorial Park, Kalmbach Memorial Park, and Macungie Flower Park. In 2002, the Macungie Institute opened its doors as a community center. The Institute was built in 1856 as a private school and later served as a school building of the Macungie School District and eventually the East Penn School District until 1989. Today, the building hosts local community and private events and is also home to the Macungie Historical Society’s Museum. Open to the public by appointment, the museum houses a unique, diverse collection of historical documents and memorabilia illustrating the area’s economic, social, religious, and cultural development. The exhibits stand as a testament to Macungie’s historical significance and contemporary appeal as an integral part of the greater Lehigh Valley.


Husband and wife team Tony and Giovanna DiMaio pay homage to their Sicilian roots and family traditions at Gio Italian Grill. At this rustic Italian restaurant, guests can enjoy traditional favorites including penne vodka and spaghetti with meatballs, as well as artisanal pizzas baked in an authentic woodstone open flame hearth. Sprinkled throughout the menu are more unique and inventive dishes such as white bean cappuccino, a velvety white bean soup finished with savory cream, and alto adige, a preparation of chicken or veal topped with caramelized pear, prosciutto, brie, and cabernet reduction. A chic, yet comforting décor and eclectic drink list add to the restaurant’s warmth and appeal.  6465 Village Lane/Route 100, 610.966.9446,

Located in a picturesque countryside setting, Savory Grille offers intricately and thoughtfully composed contemporary American cuisine with global influences. A true marriage of culinary talent and passion, the restaurant is owned and operated by the professionally-trained husband and wife team of Shawn and Dorothy Doyle, who fittingly met in a high school culinary class.  The seasonally-influenced, frequently changing menu features dishes such as free range chicken paired with polenta fries and a red pepper emulsion and horseradish crusted rack of lamb accompanied by Chantilly potatoes and a rosemary glace de viande.  From amuse-bouche and appetizer to entrée and dessert, each plate is a harmonious symphony of flavors, textures, and visual appeal. 2934 Seisholtzville Road, 610.845.2010,

The Stoned Crab offers classic seafood and steakhouse fare with a touch of modern flair. With its multi level floor plan, the casually elegant restaurant includes cozy, intimate dining rooms and an extensive bar area. For seafood lovers, the menu includes traditional preparations such as colossal crab cocktail and lobster tail, as well as contemporary, internationally-influenced dishes including a lump crab quesadilla with manchego cheese and black bean salsa and sushi-grade ahi tuna served with wasabi and soy sauce. The chef also offers an array of steaks, burgers, pastas, and salads. The restaurant’s cuisine is perfectly complemented by an expansive drink menu featuring craft beers, unique cocktails, and quality wines. 1905 North Brookside Road, 610.398.8060,


For over 20 years, Rosemary Tarola’s Distinctive Accents has been helping Lehigh Valley residents transform their houses into homes full of warmth and personality. This unique store offers a wide variety of high quality, reasonably priced home accessories including accent furniture, lamps, mirrors, artwork, custom silk floral arrangements, and other decorative accessories, as well as jewelry and gifts.  With a regularly changing inventory, the store carries products from a range of unique and popular brands such as Uttermost, a leading accessories designer, and The Light Garden, the largest collection of illuminated floral design accessories.  The staff also provides onsite accessory consultations to meet the unique needs and décor styles of their customers. 6465 Village Lane/Route 100, Suite 2, 610.965.2751,

Driven by a design team with over 30 years of experience, Macungie’s Posey Patch creates imaginative custom and standard fresh floral arrangements of varying styles ranging from traditional to contemporary. The store also offers comprehensive floral products for special occasions and weddings including bouquets, center pieces, and floral cake decorations. In addition, the shop provides dried floral arrangements, plants, and gift baskets. Orders can be made online, and delivery services are available in certain parts of the Lehigh Valley. 142 W. Main Street, 610.965.7673,


Headquartered in Macungie, Allen Organ is the largest builder of church organs in the world.  The company manufactures theatre, church, and custom organs and boasts superior quality, craftsmanship, and technology with over 80,000 installations worldwide. The sales headquarters building houses the Jerome Markowitz Memorial Center, a museum named after the company’s founder and focused on chronicling the company’s history. The museum includes many instruments and walks visitors through the history and technological development of organs. It is open for guided tours by appointment Monday through Friday. Wednesday tours include a ½ hour live organ concert, as well. 150 Locust Street, 610.966.2202,

Stretching across over 330 scenic acres, Bear Creek Mountain Resort & Conference Center is a year-round resort facility offering a wealth of seasonal recreational activities, as well as expansive dining, banquet, and lodging facilities. Summer activities, most of which will commence this month, include hiking and biking across over 6.5 miles of wooded trails and fishing and boating in the fish-stocked 5-acre pond.  Guests can enjoy continental cuisine with local influences at the Grille at Bear Creek or munch on relaxed fare at the bistro-style Trail’s End Café. The resort also features three unique spaces for special events and offers comprehensive packages for weddings. 101 Doe Mountain Lane, 866.754.2822,

Das Awkscht Fescht, one of the country’s largest antique and classic car shows, is held each year at Macungie Memorial Park. This year’s 48th annual show will be held on August 5th, 6th, and 7th and will feature the Chevy Camaro. The show also includes food, live music, arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities, an antique auto flea market, and a spectacular fireworks display on Saturday night. 610.967.2317,


1798-1799 Fries Rebellion

The village of Millerstown fell into the national, political spotlight during the Fries Rebellion as one of the central areas leading the opposition against President John Adams’ unpopular “direct tax.” Local resident David Schaeffer began holding meetings to organize other dissenting citizens.  The resistance against the tax was nicknamed the “hot water rebellion” when according to local legend, Mrs. Schaeffer was the first person to pour scalding hot water on the approaching federal appraisers. Eventually the Millerstown rebellion participants were arrested and were to be tried for treason for the assault of a federal marshal in Bethlehem. Although David Schaeffer died of yellow fever in prison, his wife became a local folk hero known as “Grandy Miller.”

1861 The Macungie Band & The Civil War

In 1855, a group of local residents joined together to form the Millerstown Brass Band, one of the first in the area. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, the federal government authorized military bands for all Union volunteer regiments. The Band answered this call and on November 8, 1861 was incorporated into the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Today, the renamed Macungie Band is still in existence and continues to support the community with a sense of civic pride and honor.

1944 World War II

During World War II and many other wars, citizens of Macungie bravely joined the armed forces to protect and defend the United States and its allies. Local resident Corporal Earl H. Butz of the 101st Airborne Division, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment was among those participating in the invasion of Normandy. He successfully jumped into combat with his unit and assisted in the capture of 80 German soldiers. Though wounded, he continued to fight, but was tragically killed several days later by enemy machine gun fire on June 11, 1944. For his “military merit and for wounds received in action,” he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart by President Roosevelt.


Elsie Singmaster Lewars, a descendant of the prominent Singmaster family of Macungie, was one of the most prolific writers in the United States during the first half of the 20th century.  Born in nearby Schuylkill Haven, she lived in Macungie during her childhood when her father served as pastor of a local church. Although her family eventually moved to Brooklyn, NY and later Allentown, she spent her summers in the idyllic setting of her family farm in Macungie.  A graduate of Allentown High School and Radcliffe College (Harvard University’s women’s coordinate college), Singmaster went on to author over 300 short stories and 42 books. Her works were frequently featured in Collier’s, Ladies Home Journal, and The Saturday Evening Post. The setting of her first novel, Katy Gaumer, was the village of Millerstown. Many of her other pieces took place in fictional settings reminiscent of the landscape and culture of the area.  While her fiction often focused on Pennsylvania Germans, her appeal transcended any cultural or geographical constraints, and her works were published internationally with great praise.  In 1950, Singmaster was named a “Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania,” and she continued to not only write, but also to serve as an advocate for Pennsylvania Germans and women’s education.  Although she spent most of her adult life in Gettysburg, Singmaster was laid to rest with her family in Macungie’s Fairview Cemetery.  Today her works continue to be read and enjoyed in contemporary collections including a recent anthology published by the Macungie Historical Society.

Lehigh Valley Marketplace acknowledges the Macungie Historical Society’s generous contribution of historical research and information for this article.

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