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In 1798, five townships—Buckingham, Canaan, Damascus, Mount Pleasant and Palmyra—became the new Wayne County. Salem Township was formed from Canaan, and Sterling township was split off from Salem in 1815. The new township initially included present-day Dreher and Lehigh Townships. Capt. Phineas Howe had located in Howe’s Valley, south of the Butternut Creek, in 1804. Capt. Thomas Howe, the first postmaster, was a prosperous tavern keeper, first in a log building and later in a fine hotel, which burned in 1826. Other early settlers were the families of Robert Bortree, Edward Cross, John Clements and James, Joseph and Abram Simons. Despite the suggestion by its inhabitants that the township was named for the “high morals and pure character” of its citizens, it is more likely that its name was a tribute to William Alexander, Lord Stirling, a Scottish-American hero of the Revolution. Sterling’s 2010 population was 1,450, the greatest in the township’s history.
From the collection of the Wayne County Historical Society, 810 Main St., Honesdale. The museum, research library and museum shop are Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Saturday, May 4.