Joe Benner recounts how Vera Cruz got its name
Long-time Upper Milford Township resident Joe Benner was the guest speaker at the February 24 meeting of the Upper Milford Historical Society. Benner, who lived in the township for 78 years, and now lives in Lower Macungie Township, spoke to members about the Vera Cruz area.
He began by inquiring if anyone knew how the town got its name. Several people responded with different ideas.
Benner then recounted the “real” story from a 1976 Vera Cruz Homecoming program.
Until 1851 Vera Cruz was an unnamed, but thriving community. According to local folk lore, one afternoon a group of “regular loungers” were gathered around the stove at Alexander Weaver’s store and, “between choice bits of local gossip, their eyes turned to a badly tattered, week-old newspaper spread out on a counter, whose headlines announced: ‘Revolt in Vera Cruz; (Mexico) 12 killed, 20 injured,’ and the conversation turned to discussion of Mexico.”
The sound of angry voices came through the door and the loungers rushed outside, looked up the road and saw two locals fighting –one of whom bit off the other’s finger.
“Jokingly, Alexander Weaver said, ‘Now we have a name for our village. Why not call it Vera Cruz?’ And the name stuck.
Over the years, Vera Cruz has had a grocery store, a creamery, a hotel, post office, an ice shed, silk mill, several schools, a fire company, a saw mill, and a shirt factory.
Benner noted that the second floor of the creamery was the meeting place of the Mystic Chain Lodge, The Golden Eagle Lodge, and the Vera Cruz Band.
The hotel, which sits at the crossroads of Main Rd and Vera Cruz Rd, was established in 1738 and is the oldest continuously run hotel in Lehigh County.
Citizens of Vera Cruz spoke predominately Pennsylvania Dutch and High German, which was of great advantage to Benner when he served in Germany during WWII while in the Army.
As he passed around numerous photos of the area and an old report card found among his items, the group huddled together commenting and reminiscing on each one.