Nescopeck Valley was settled in 1780. In April of 1809, Sugarloaf Township was separated from Nescopeck and made the 14th township of Luzerne County. Sugarloaf gets its name from the beautiful Sugarloaf Mountain named by surveyor William Gray, who first referred to the mountain as “Sugarloaf Hill” in 1787. In 1980, Sugarloaf’s population was 1,854, as of the 2010 census the population is 4,211.
During the Revolutionary War small battles took place in central and northeast Pennsylvania. On September 11, 1780 an event which would later be known as the “Sugarloaf Massacre” occurred where a group of Northampton militia were attacked. Some escaped, some were taken prisoners, and many were killed. On September 17, 1780, Col. Stephen Balliet collected 150 men to go to the scene of the massacre and bury the bodies. In 2015, Thomas Verenna, an associate editor at the “Journal of the American Revolution”, wrote a piece titled “Murder Along the Creek: Taking a Closer Look at the Sugarloaf Massacre” which better details this historic event.
Many men returned to Sugarloaf due to the beauty of the valley. One of the first to settle was John Balliet, Stephen Balliet’s brother. Many families from Northampton county then traveled to Sugarloaf and began working in the area. These families included Easterday, Miller, Weaver, Mace, Rittenhouse, Drumheller, Spaide, Wenner, and more. Some of the first businesses were a saw mill founded by John Crawley, a gristmill by George Koening, a blacksmith Jacob Mace, a steam mill by Stephen Yost, and the first tavern by Benjamin Koeing. Today there are approximately 172 businesses located in Sugarloaf Township including restaurants, schools, farms, and more.
Sugarloaf Township covered a much larger area of land until it was divided into other townships. In 1839 Butler Township and Hazle Township, which was later split to form Hazleton and West Hazleton, were separated from Sugarloaf. Black Creek Township separated from Sugarloaf on August 8, 1848. On November 7, 1901 Judge A.L.H Wheaton decreed the Village of Conyngham be incorporated as the “Borough of Conyngham”, thus leaving Sugarloaf Township. A meeting was held at the Phoenix Hotel (now Cuz-N-Joe’s) between Judge Wheaton, Sugarloaf Township, and Conyngham Borough to establish new boundaries.
In addition to the beautiful Sugarloaf Mountain, there are many more sights to see in Sugarloaf Township. Penn State Hazleton campus has a beautiful scenic view of the entire valley. Joe Larock Recreational Field contains baseball fields, football fields, and tennis courts. It is a great place for children to play. The historic Brainerd Church, built in 1853, and Cedar Grove One-Room School House were restored and preserved using money raised during local festivals. Sugarloaf Township is also home to two monasteries; the Holy Annunciation Byzantine Carmelite Nuns and the Holy Dormition Monastery. The Holy Annunciation Byzantine Carmelite Nuns raise small horses and other animals, and make and sell soaps, jellies, and baked goods.
More information on the history of Sugarloaf Township can be found in book form, printed in 2018 by the Sugarloaf Township Historian, Helen I. Roth