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Middletown is a borough in Dauphin Countymarker, Pennsylvaniamarker, on the Susquehanna River, nine miles (15 km) southeast of Harrisburgmarker. It is part of the Harrisburg–Carlislemarker Metropolitan Statistical Areamarker.

History

Middletown was founded in 1755 and was incorporated as a borough in 1828. It is the oldest incorporated community in Dauphin County and is in a rich agricultural area bordering Pennsylvania Dutch Country. In the past, it had flouring and planing mills, stove works, car shops, and shoe, hosiery, cigar, and furniture factories. In 1900, 5,608 people lived there; in 1910, 5,374; and in 1940, 7,046. The population was 9,242 at the 2000 census.

The early maps of Pennsylvania show that the area of land now called Middletown was "A Susquehannock Indian Town" (1715). When Middletown was laid out in 1755, some lodges of the Conoy or Ganawese Indians were located on the ground in the area bounded by Pine, Spruce, Main, and High Streets. These two tribes were "remnants" of the once-powerful Susquehannock Nation.

The Scots-Irish were the first white settlers of the area. Not Irish by blood, but Scottish religionists of rigid Presbyterian faith who were compelled to leave Scotland or be prosecuted. These people migrated to Ireland, but as they did not want their children to be under the Irish Catholic influence for too long a time, they soon migrated to America.

Near the mouth of the Swatara Creek, a rough Irishman named "Anderson" claimed on the Susquehanna River. This claim dates back at least to 1728. Jacob Job, a Philadelphia merchant, acquired the rights to the Anderson claim in 1732. It has been estimated that by 1750 there were about 200 Scots-Irish families in the vicinity of Middletown, which was then in Paxtang Township of Lancaster County.

Jeremiah Job was the first English settler of record of lands composing what is now the town. His home was a long two-story log house located on the northwest corner of Main and Pine Streets. Little is known about the English settlers except the Fishers. It is known that William Penn visited the land at the mouth of the Swatara Creek and Susquehanna River in 1683 while on his journey "to the interior".

On January 27, 1759, John Fisher and his wife, Grace, granted unto their youngest son, George Fisher, tracts of land which totaled and 53 perches, plus allowances. It is apparent from this record that George Fisher came there before the actual conveyance of lands to him, as the date of laying out Middletown is given as 1755.

Middletown, the oldest town in Dauphin County, Pennsylvaniamarker, was laid out thirty years before Harrisburg, Pennsylvaniamarker and seven years before Hummelstown, Pennsylvaniamarker. Due to its location for trade, both by land and by water, the town grew rapidly for at least a century and a half. Prior to 1729, this area was a part of Chester County, Pennsylvaniamarker. In 1729, Lancaster County, Pennsylvaniamarker was formed, and on March 4, 1785, Dauphin County, Pennsylvaniamarker was formed. Middletown was a "Post Town" and so named because of its location midway between Lancaster and Carlisle, Pennsylvaniamarker, along the old Stage Coach Road laid out in 1736.

German immigrants began to filter into the area in the 18th century from the Palatinate and Black Forest regions of Europe and the Dutch from the "low country". They came by way of Switzerland, Holland, and England. A few of these families came to Middletown, but most settled east of the Swatara Creek because of the Scots-Irish influence in Paxtang Township.

Middletown is noted in colonial records as being a supply depot for the Revolutionary Armies. Many small boats for the army of John Sullivan were built there and his troops were supplied with provisions from local farms. The Swatara Ferry House (Old Fort) is reported to have housed Hessian prisoners during the Revolution.

On June 10, 1774, the residents of Middletown published their "Resolves of Independence" from Great Britain at a meeting chaired by Colonel James Burd. These ideas thus presented became, in later years, incorporated in the colonies' "Declaration of Independence".

In 1776, after providing shelter for some ill soldiers in their home, George Fisher and wife quickly succumb to illness and died.

After the Revolutionary War, many of the Scots-Irish did not return, or if they did, left shortly thereafter for new homes in the West. It was then that the town experienced its greatest immigration of the German element and population growth.

Volunteers from Middletown were in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, the Mexican American War of 1846, the Civil War from 1861-1865, the Spanish American War of 1898 and all later wars. Camp George Meade, west of town, was a troop garrison during the Spanish American War and Olmsted Air Force Basemarker was located nearby from 1914 to 1964 (now the home of the Harrisburg International Airportmarker).

After the Revolutionary War, both land and water trade revived and flourished until 1796. After that time the river trade gradually declined because of the coming of the "arks" which could safely navigate through the rapids downstream. Trade again grew when the Union Canal marker and Pennsylvania Canal were completed in the 1820s. The town was an important trading center for lumber, domestic produce, grain, milling products and steel implements.

George Everhart (Frey), a poor German employed by George Fisher, and later a peddler, became one of the town's most prominent citizens. He accumulated large areas of land and eventually founded the Emaus Orphan House.

In 1809, George Fisher, son of the founder of Middletown, laid out a town at the mouth of the Swatara Creek, naming it Harborton. By 1814, the name was changed from Harborton to Portsmouth. The Union Canal, the Pennsylvania Canal and the Harrisburg, Portsmouth, Mount Joy and Lancaster Rail-Road all intersected in the Portsmouth section of Middletown. There was one small and one very large boat basin to accommodate canal traffic. There were two blast furnaces, one foundry, two extensive flouring mills, and three saw mills, all propelled by waters of the Swatara. A ferry ran across the Susquehanna River to York County. On March 17, 1814, George Fisher and wife conveyed to John Swar of Lancaster County, "that portion of a tract of on which the town of Portsmouth is laid off". John Swar and Anna, his wife, then deeded the lots to other parties. In 1857, the town of Portsmouth, the area between, and the town of Middletown were merged into one large town of Middletown.

The George Everhart (Frey) Trust still manages leases on much of the land in and around Middletown. The Trust was founded to operate the Frey Orphanage; and did so for many years, in three locations in Middletown. The Orphanage eventually closed and the final location, on Red Hill, has become the Frey Village Retirement Community, a Diakon Lutheran senior living facility.

Middletown is located less than five miles (8 km) away from the Three Mile Islandmarker Nuclear Power Plant. The Unit #2 reactor there suffered a partial meltdown in 1979, causing then-Governor Richard "Dick" Thornburgh to order the evacuation of pregnant women and pre-school children from the area. The Mayor of Middletown, at the time, was Robert G. Reid [19849], the first Black Mayor in Pennsylvania. Then President Jimmy Carter visited Middletown's Community Building to calm the nerves of anxious residents.

Because the town is so old, architecture styles abound. Middletown has everything from a log cabin to Victorian mansions, and beyond.

Geography

Middletown is located at (40.198491, -76.729326) .

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 2.1 square miles (5.4 km²), of which, 2.0 square miles (5.3 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (2.87%) is water.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 9,242 people, 4,032 households, and 2,370 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,536.5 people per square mile (1,749.2/km²). There were 4,387 housing units at an average density of 2,153.4/sq mi (830.3/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 88.77% White, 7.34% African American, 0.27% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.92% from other races, and 2.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.18% of the population.

There were 4,032 households out of which 28.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.8% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.2% were non-families. 35.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.23 and the average family size was 2.90.

In the borough the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 30.1% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 17.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 84.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.5 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $35,425, and the median income for a family was $43,661. Males had a median income of $32,891 versus $24,692 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $18,535. About 4.6% of families and 6.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.6% of those under age 18 and 5.6% of those age 65 or over.

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