ALBANY TOWNHSHIP HISTORY
“Rural Community Rich in History”
(from the Reading Eagle and Reading Times)
Albany Township, Berks County’s second largest municipality and often referred to as “the environmentalist’s paradise” is situated north of Interstate Route 78, at the northern tip of the County.
Like most of the county, the first settlers to the area were of German descent. Settlers originally referred to the area as “Allemaengel” after an area of old Germany now encompassing part of Switzerland, from which many of them came. The word means “all wants”, which settlers also thought appropriate based on the fertility of the soil.
Albany’s first settlers lived in the section of the township called Die Eck, German words for “The Corner”. The village is known today as Eckville, which is located near the base of Hawk Mountain.
Soon after the township’s incorporation in 1752, it was divided into two districts, with the northern part retaining the name of Albany and the southern part being named Greenwich, both named after districts in England.
A significant portion of the township is located on the Blue Mountain ridge, a part of the Appalachian Mountain chain that runs along the entire northern border of the county. Albany Township shares a portion of the world-famous Hawk Mountain Sanctuary with Schuylkill County, which borders the township to the north. The Pinnacle, at 1670 feet elevation, is the highest point in Berks County and located just southwest of the center of the township.
Albany Township contains several villages; the busiest and most populous area is Kempton. The other villages include Stony Run, Trexler, Quaker City, Albany, and Eckville. The village of Trexler was placed on the registry of National Historic Districts in 2001, with its character largely intact after 100 years.
A timeline of notable events in the history of Albany Township follows below:
1752: Township incorporated.
1755: Hostilities between settlers and American Indians begin
1774: Bethel Church dedicated after Albany church
1825: Albany Township opposes Kutztown’s effort to annex it
in the creation of a new county - first to be called Penn
County, then Girard County.
1855: Albany and other municipalities succeed in their
opposition to create a new county, Kutztown abandons such efforts.
1867: Centennial Slate Quarry opens.
1876: The establishment of the Schuylkill and Lehigh Railroad
makes Kempton a center of commerce.
1910: Berks and Lehigh Telephone and Telegraph Company
chartered to serve the township with 3 employees and
208 phones in its service.
1947: Rail freight service stopped to Kempton.
1954: Albany Township recognized by PA State Historical and
Museum Commission for having the greatest number of
and most elaborate hex signs in the state.
1956: State park proposed for the area around the Pinnacle.
1957: Plans for state park halted due to strong opposition from
1962: Commuter train service stopped to Albany Township -
Public Utility Commission orders bus service between
Reading and Albany Township to compensate.
1987: Albany Township among hardest hit by late summer
drought. Many farms apply for Federal crop disaster aid.