ackson Township was one of the first settled areas in Lebanon County. It is believed that the exact time was prior to 1700. The township was established in 1813, formed by parts of Dauphin and Lancaster counties. Specifically it came from a part of Bethel and Heidelberg townships but was created as a distinct township upon the creation of Lebanon County in 1813. Jackson Township is bounded on the north by Bethel, on the east by Berks County, on the south by Millcreek and Heidelberg Townships and on the west by North and South Lebanon Townships. The William Penn Highway and the Reading Railroad cross the township as did the old Union Canal.
Beginning on the west side of town you find the pretentious mansion that is now known as Tulpehocken Manor. Older houses on this property are the arches ones along the Tulpehocken and all of limestone. The sandstone corner quoining is evident on all of these dwellings, including the old smokehouse and ancient well housing.
Christopher Ley, the original owner took up 1000 acres, December 2, 1751 and built his home over the spring which is the maternal branch of the Tulpehocken. His land lies on what was known as Kingston Manor, one of the three large tracts that William Penn left in his last will executed in 1711.
In 1769, his son Michael, a Revolutionary soldier, built the substantial homestead that is now the Manor. At this time the Tulpehocken was quite wide and deep. The entire creek bed is still visible and the old stone arched bridges spanning the creek from one end of the town to the other testify to the extent the creek wended is way. According to old records there were many arched bridges of stone in Myerstown.
The Leis quarried their own limestone and the woodwork in the house was walnut from its groves. This quarry can be visited across the creek from the old cheep cote one of the oldest buildings on the property.
The houses all had water supplies of sparkling spring water but the quarries finally caused the scanty flow we now have. The first canal locks were constructed on this property in 1793 and were No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5.
The springhouse is the oldest dwelling. Flag steps lead down into the beautiful stone arches forming the shelter for the springs that were used as refrigeration and reservoir.
The large mansion faces south and at one time had a circular drive in front of the large verandah with a fountain in the center, with fresh water gushing forth continually fed by the underground springs. Large magnolia trees flanked the drive and are still to be found blooming in lush growth. All this was added as was the mansard roof in 1883, as well as fourteen more rooms. This style of the late 19th century is preserved showing the taste of the late owners.
The mortar of this spacious dwelling is pinkish red and the dressed sandstone comes from the South Mountain. The wide stairway has a walnut rail. The original door has a good, the door head of which was hand-carved in patterns of tulip and scrolls. In German appear these words: * Honor God Above * Michael and Eva Magdelane Lei * Name of artist worker from Lebanon. * Eva was a Lauer.
Two mounting blocks of sandstone flanked the steps, the higher one for ladies. On the outer corners of the porch were sandstone posts fine and one half feet high, carved to receive seats. These two posts now act as gateposts and the date 1771 is carved on them. You have to climb out of the window onto the porch roof to see the house blessing carved in German, one for the master, one for the lady. We find on all our old houses blessings and date stones, which is a story in itself that we will tell of later.
LEI is the original German spelling and sometimes appears in records as LEY. The German pronunciation would be LYE. This house was bought by Conrad Loos, later owned by Sherks, then Urichs, all descendants of Loos, and is now Tulpehocken Manor. (The room on the second story on the southeast corner is the one George Washington is reputed to have slept in, on his visits here.)
Further down the creek the Michael Spangler house built over a spring on beautiful arches still stands on the bank of the creek. A later stone house adjoins it built by George Spangler and his wide Barbara dated 1782. The Spangler’s bought the land in 1745.
On Lock No. 6 along the Canal and east of Michael Spangler’s house is the house built by Christian Spangler, George’s son, and grandson of Michael, in 1838. The locks are still in good condition and are constructed of dressed red sandstone and limestone, with the original planking still intact. This is the house where an interesting tunnel was discovered running parallel to the canal.
There is another ancient limestone dwelling built by Johannes Immel across the street from the Ross property. This property was originally George Weirich’s. Hannes Immel and wife Anna Barbara as attested by the date stone in 1759 built the house. His son Leonard was an officer in the Revolutionary Army, and married Weirich’s daughter. The house, very old world in character has a steep pitched roof that at one time was covered with tiles resembling German waffles. The windows of the house are but small squares and portholes above were for guns to fight off Indians.
The Union Canal, was at one time a very valuable piece of Lebanon County. William Penn had originally suggested the usefulness of such a canal, but it wasn’t until 1793 that the public was influenced enough to start building. The canal was finished in 1837 and was the first canal built in U.S. history.