The very first settlers of the Lehigh Valley region were Germans who emigrated from earlier settlements along the Perkiomen Creek and into the Oley Valley. The earliest settlers arrived in the region over a 20-year period beginning about 1732. The immigration of the Germans and other European natives, including Swiss and Huguenots, was aided by William Penn and his agents. The land lying south of the Lehigh Mountains (South Mountain) was deeded to William Penn in 1713 by the Delaware Indians. The land of Lehigh County lying between the Blue Mountains and the Lehigh Mountains was deeded to Penn's sons by the Delaware Indians in 1732. Emigrants sought the fertile, limestone valley flanking rivers and streams such as the Jordan Creek.
Members of the Reformed (United Church of Christ) faith were settled in the area as early as 1738, and baptisms of their children during the period of 1740 to 1752 are recorded in the Lutheran record book. In 1752 Lorenz Guth presented the Reformed with a 50 acre tract of land, and a log church was erected in six weeks. The second and present church building, with its 110 foot steeple was built in 1808. It stands as one of the oldest church buildings in the country, and is a fine example of the architecture of that period.The early schools of the township were connected with the two Jordan churches for many years, possibly extending back to 1739. According to the Roberts history, the congregations were at first supplied not by pastors, but by teachers who used to read sermons on Sundays. Thus, it is possible that church-sponsored schools taught by the readers existed in the earliest days of the congregations.
Agriculture was the backbone of the economy of the township for many years. Even today much of the land is under cultivation. For more than a century at least six grain mills flourished on the Jordan and Cedar creeks.In the early 1800's iron ore was discovered at different places in the township and mining operations were carried on from 1820 to 1890.In 1864, the eastern portion of South Whitehall and the southeastern portion of North Whitehall were detached and formed into the township of Whitehall.In 1966, South Whitehall became a First Class Township. It currently encompasses 17.2 square miles and is home to 18,028 people. South Whitehall, a planned community, is experiencing a steady growth in population. But even as more farmlands give way to residential development, there is ample open space to give the township the fresh, clean look of a healthy environment.