The area has a rich and colorful history. Among the people and places of prominence is Shikellamy. Chieftain of the Oneida Indian Tribe, for whom the district in named. Fort Augusta, constructed in 1756, dominated the Susquehanna River area during the British and French struggle for power in Western Pennsylvania.
Joseph Priestley, world famous as the discoverer of oxygen, built his last home in Northumberland on the banks of the Susquehanna River. Now restored, the Joseph Priestly House is open to visitors on a regular basis, and was the sight of an archeological dig within the district which was sponsored by the state historical commission.
Thomas Edison selected Sunbury as one of six Pennsylvania towns in which to test his electric lighting system. On July 4, 1883, the City Hotel (now the Edison Hotel) became the first commercial building in the world to be lighted with incandescent electrical lights.