History of Silver Lake Township

The township was formed in 1813 and originally encompassed part of what is now Forest Lake Township. Named after the lake and the Silver Creek, which flows from it, the Township was always distinguished by the number of picturesque water bodies it included. Among these, of course, are also included Quaker Lake and Cranberry Lake. All of what is now Silver Lake Township was purchased by Dr. Robert Hutchinson Rose in 1809 as part of a 99,200 acre tract and this area of the county was known as "Hibernia." Dr. Rose was of Scotch-Irish decent and became the largest landowner and wealthiest citizen of Susquehanna County, establishing his home on the South side of Silver Lake.

Dr. Rose was also the Township's first major developer and sub-divider, promoting the sale of his holdings through advertisements in newspapers throughout Pennsylvania and offering land along the turnpikes at $6 per acre and off them at $5 per acre. The area quickly settled and forests of beech, chestnut, maple, hemlock and pine were lumbered and turned into farms. An English settlement was also established in the vicinity of Quaker and Laurel Lakes and named "Brittania," but many of those attracted to the area became disappointed with the circumstances and gradually left for greener pastures. Dr. Rose subsequently appealed to African-American and Irish families, many of whom were brought to this country to build the North Branch Canal along the Susquehanna River, to move to the Township and the latter gradually replaced the English settlers and became a majority in the Township. This accounts for many of our roads having Irish names and also for the term "Out our way," referring to a section of the Township

Sheep farms were prevalent in the early days and a strong dairy industry was also established, including a cheese factory. Dr. Rose established a sawmill below the Lake as early as 1810 and subsequently built a gristmill. Still later he constructed a woolen factory. A small distillery was erected by Roderick Richards in 1817. A tannery was put in operation at Brackney and several other sawmills and gristmills went into business. Brackney is named after J. W. Brackney who constructed that tannery and various other enterprises within that village. He was also the first postmaster. The Laurel Lake area also had a post office known as "Harewood" and Dr. Rose was the first postmaster of Silver Lake. All these post offices were located along the Montrose to Binghamton routes, which defined the Township in many respects. Congregational, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches were established in Silver Lake and Brackney and the Roman Catholic Chapel of St. Augustine was erected on the knoll not far off the intersection of Routes 167 and 4002.

The economy of the Township shifted over the years to more dairying and today this remains a very valuable industry, which shapes the landscape of the area. Farms have become fewer in number but larger in size. The lakes have mostly evolved into strong seasonal-recreational and second-home communities. Each year more families are choosing to make these second-homes into their year around residences contribution to the continual growth of the Township.

Other industry has migrated to the more populated Triple Cities and the Township is very much a part of that area economically with both jobs and water flowing in that direction. There exists various remnants of the past that are of historical interest today, including the Presbyterian Church at Laurel Lake, the St. Augustine Chapel which is the oldest church in the Scranton Diocese, and various old farmhouses and village structures.

Also the attractive farm and forest character of the Township along with its beautiful hills and small mountains, verdant valleys and sparkling streams helps to maintain its appeal to both residents and visitors. Portions of the original Rose land holdings near Silver Lake were conveyed to the E. L. Rose Conservancy, the goal of which is "to preserve natural resources through land acquisition for water and soil conservation, wildlife sanctuary and refuge, and the preservation of scenic beauty." The Conservancy represents approximately 400 members and presently owns about 300 acres of land. Its plans include acquisition of additional properties and/or easements, which will link these open spaces for education and passive recreational purposes.