"Lehighton is a very beautiful and most pleasant town."
Georg Heinrich Loskiel
Moravian bishop and historian
Philadelphia-born Col. Jacob Weiss (1750-1839) was deputy quartermaster general of Washington's army. Between 1784 and 1794, he purchased the land which became Weissport and Lehighton and laid out town plans which included central squares. Weiss built a water-powered mill on the east side of the Lehigh and began grain milling and lumbering operations; the settlement became known as Weiss' Mill. By 1791, when Philip Ginder brought the anthracite he had discovered on Sharp Mountain, Weiss' blacksmiths had been using it as fuel for a decade.
In 1792, Weiss, his brother-in-law Charles Cist and other Philadelphia businessmen formed the Lehigh Coal Mine Company to mine at Summit Hill. The company began shipping anthracite by river raft and wagon to the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia. Anthracite slowly found a market, but transporting it was costly. After twenty-five years of more losses than profits, the mine was leased to the newly-formed Lehigh Coal and Navigation Co., and the original firm folded.
Though plagued with blindness and ill health in his later years, Weiss lived to nearly 90, and is buried in the "Bunker Hill" cemetery in Weissport.
In the late 18th century, Jacob Weiss and William Henry were among the most important men in Northampton County, which then encompassed Carbon and Lehigh Counties. Weiss was a major landowner, and Henry, owner of the gun works at Jacobsburg, was also the county's chief judge. About 1794, they laid out a plan for a town to be called Lehighton. They plotted out 338 sites, from the west bank of the Lehigh to the present Fourth Street.
Weiss and Henry retained nine lots as partners. Their high profiles attracted other prominent buyers, including Weiss' partners in the coal company, Michael Hillegas and Charles Cist. Peter Rhoads of Allentown, Col. Timothy Pickering, former governor Robert Morris, and assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury Tench Coxe all invested in Lehighton land. By 1800, more than 40 others had purchased lots, prompting Weiss to lead a petition to the county for a bridge between the two settlements. Completed in 1805, the bridge carried the Easton-Wilkes Barre Turnpike over the Lehigh, and made Lehighton a stop for travelers.