The borough is fortunate to have a well documented history due to its rich heritage. In addition to this website’s pages, a descendant of one of the industrialists has created a website featuring a comprehensive history of Catasauqua, along with information on his ancestor, Hopkin Thomas. Feel free to visit The Hopkin Thomas Project for more information on Catasauqua’s history. Mr. McVey has amassed much biographical information on the early industrialists.
Another local historian, the late Dale Wint, researched many local industrialists, compiling A History of The Iron Borough and Allied Businesses of the Iron Borough, Catasauqua, PA in 1993. This unpulblished book was recently scanned and can be accessed here
To help understand the Crane Iron Work’s critical place in history, see the excellent overview of the Pennsylvania iron industry from the early 1700s into the mid 1900s, see the National Register of Historic Places documentation.
The Sanborn Company, a subsidiary of the Hartford Insurance Co, created maps of cities and towns throughout the country. These maps contain an amazing amount of detail about structures, including their size, bulding materials, uses, street address, along with sources of “energy” that could give rise to fires, accidents, explosions, etc. While this information helped Hartford value insurance coverage, the Sanborn Maps today allow us to follow the history of a building. They are also popular with “bottle diggers” for locating outhouses! Due to the size of each map file, the links provided take you to the PA State Archives to access these high resolution documents which can be easily downloaded. Those up through 1927 are no longer under copywrite protection.
There were two maps published of the town from 1872 and 1876; prints of both are available for purchase from HCPA (call 610 231-0603). The 1876 map can also be purchased through Historic Map Works online.
An 1862 and 1864 map of the town can be viewed on The Hopkin Thomas Project website.
Another valuble historic record are the early town directories. We have been able to locate directories of Catasauqua back to 1877. Two of the directories have been digitized using OCR, allowing them to be searchable. Again due to the size of these files, the link takes you to the Hopkin Thomas website where they have been uploaded for search convenience.
Lehigh County deed databases provide historic information on property ownership and can narrow down the time period when structures were added to lots. Lehigh County’s records go back to the formation of Lehigh County when it was split off of Northampton County in 1812. Deed records prior to 1812 are available at the Northampton County Court House. Prior to 1750s, the records would be in Philadelphia. The information contained on this website, based on deed research, is limited to 1812 or later.