Butler Township, which is home to about 10,000 people today, saw its first settlers in 1784. Even before that, American Indians had passed through the area, although they did not settle there. They located on the fertile soil of the major rivers and floodplains, staying away from the History of Butler Townshipridge and valley domain, in which Butler Township is located, calling it “Towamensing” (wilderness).

Some of the Wyoming Valley’s first settlements, those along the northern parts of the Susquehanna River near Butler Township, were sponsored by Connecticut. King Charles II of England had granted the land to Connecticut in 1662 but also to William Penn in 1681. As a result, settlers from Connecticut and settlers from Pennsylvania, both of whom claimed the same lands, battled during the Pennamite-Yankee War with conflicts from 1769 to 1799. In 1799, the area officially became part of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania-Connecticut conflict had a significant impact on the history of Butler Township. The township was named in honor of Colonel Zebulon Butler, the leader of the Connecticut forces.

In the late 1700s, families began settling in Butler Township. Some descendants of the original settlers are still living in Butler Township.

In 1809, the first sawmill was built along the Nescopeck Creek, and by 1830, several more sawmills had located along the Nescopeck Creek. Another early industry in the township was wool, which was the major clothing fiber in the early days of the United States. By the end of the 19th century, sufficient wool was being produced in the township to warrant the construction of a mill. In 1810, Philip Drum established a wool-processing mill along the Little Nescopeck near the settlement then known as Ashville and today known as Fritzingertown. Also, the first gristmill, grinding grain into flour, was built along the Big Nescopeck in 1813 by Samuel Woodring.

Butler Township was officially incorporated in 1839.

Most of the Butler pioneers spoke German, while English was spoken along the upper reaches of the Susquehanna. Although the first settlers were German, they were split denominationally into Reformed and Lutherans. In 1792, the first church was established. Services were held in the homes of church members. Both denominations expressed a desire to establish a building dedicated to the worship of God. In 1799, they pooled their resources and built a Union Church building in Hughesville (now St. John’s). The Union Church was dedicated in 1809. According to the bylaws of the Union Church, each congregation would have exclusive use of the building on alternate Sundays.

The pioneers did not overlook the need to educate their children. During the first years, the children’s instruction took place at home. They then constructed a log school on the ground of the Union Church in 1809. As with the church services, instruction was in German. Between 1830 and 1870, Butler Township had constructed eight one-room schoolhouses. The Drums school was moved in 1870 from its original site to a new location on Old Turnpike Road. At that time, the school curriculum was extended to include the 10th-grade level. In 1941, the original wooden Drums school was closed and a larger, brick structure was built across the street. The following year, the small one-room schools were closed and their students bused to the Drums school. The school directors sold the small buildings to the adjoining landowners the same year. The Butler Township Parent-Teacher Association was formed in 1955. In 1966, the Butler Township School District merged with several others to form the Hazleton Area School District. In 2001, the Drums school closed when the new Drums Elementary/Middle School opened just down the road.

The village of Drums, located in Butler Township, was named for the Drum family. It was originally named “Drum’s,” but eventually, the apostrophe was dropped. Members of the Drum family were instrumental in the area’s early days, serving as justices of the peace, postmasters, hotel owners, a county sheriff and a state legislator.

Philip Drum and his son, Jacob, came to the United States from Germany in 1738.

Jacob married Catharine Strauss in 1749 and their son George was born in 1762. When George was 12 years old, the family’s home was attacked by American Indians. Jacob was killed and Catharine was carried off by the Indians. George survived the attack and went on to acquire land in the area in the late 1700s, when he built the first hotel-tavern in the village. His “Drum’s Hotel” led the way for several other businesses to locate nearby at the convergence of three roads in Drums. Later, George’s sons Abraham (Abram) and George II ran Drum’s Hotel, and by 1873, his grandson George III operated the hotel. In 1820, Abraham Drum opened another hotel called the Stage Coach Shop in the mountains not too far from the business district. Over the years, other hotels have opened and closed at that site.

George’s son Philip II purchased land in what would become Drums and Conyngham in 1808 from Dr. Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He made additional land purchases in 1814, 1826, 1836 and 1847.

George Drum, who previously served as captain of militia for Frontier, Fifth Company, Eighth Regiment in the American Revolution, was elected as Sugarloaf Township’s justice of the peace in 1811. At the time, Drums was part of Sugarloaf Township. His sons George II and Jacob and grandson George III later served as justices of the peace in Sugarloaf Township. George III also served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly from 1879 to 1882.

Also serving in the public domain were Philip Drum III, great-grandson of George Drum I, who was a lawyer and a Pennsylvania state legislator in 1901 and 1902, and Abraham Drum, who served as Luzerne County sheriff.

The Drum family also played an important role in the history of the post office in Drums, which was founded in 1826 and operated by the Drum family for about 100 years. George Drum I’s son William owned the post office and served as postmaster. Later, in the early 1900s, George’s great-granddaughter Carrie Drum worked as postmistress of the post office.

Many Drum family members are buried at St. John’s Church in the village of St. John’s. It is because of their contributions to the area that Drums and Butler Township were able to become established municipalities.