|Excerpts from the chapter on the history of Lancaster County,
"Historical Collections of Pennsylvania:
A Copious Selection of the Most Interesting, Facts, Traditions, Biographical Sketches & Anecdotes"
by Sherman Day, Published 1843
Language and spelling is as it was written.
Lancaster County was separated from Chester by the act of 10th May, 1729, being the first county established subsequent to
the three original counties of Chester, Bucks and Philadelphia. It has gradually reduced to its present limits by the
establishment of York, Cumberland, Berks, Northumberland, Dauphin and Lebanon. There is perhaps no county in the state
possessing such an amount and variety of the sources of natural wealth and none where these resources have been more
industriously developed. The Susquehanna, naturally navigable and improved on both sides by artificial canals, flows, for 40
miles, along the SW boundary of the county. The Conestoga and Pequea Creeks, with their numerous branches, drain the
centre. This county has long been proverbial for excellent turnpikes and substantial stone bridges. There are turnpikes from
Lancaster to philadelphia, to Harrisburg, to Columbia, to Morgantown, and one from Chester County through Ephrata to
The census of 1840 enumerates for this county, 11 furnaces, making 6,912 tons of pig metal per year; 14 forges and
rolling-mills, making 2,090 tons; men employed, 784; capital invested in iron works, $420, 500; 12 fulling-mills, 10 woollen
manufactories, 1 cotton manufactory (near Lancaster City), 57 tanneries, 102 distilleries, 8 breweries, 9 printing offices, 128
flouring-mills, 135 grist-mills, 106 saw-mills and 2 oil-mills.
The population of the county is mainly of German descent; the German language, until within a few years past, was more
generally spoken than the English. German thrift and persevering industry are evident in the broad, well-cultivated farms and
substantial stone houses, and still more substantial and spacious store barns, which meet the eye of the traveller in all parts of
the county. Lancaster County was first peopled by Indians, remnants of southern tribes driven out by the encroachments of
European colonists in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas, a few years before, and about the time that Pennsylvania was
founded. Six Nations were acknowledged as the sovereigns of the Susquehanna, and they regarded with jealousy, and
permitted with reluctance, the settlement of other tribes upon its margin. The Cayuga chief told the Moravians of Wyalusing, in
1765, "that the place they had chosen was not proper, all that country having been stained with blood; therefore, he would take
themup and place them in a better situation near the upper end of Cayuga lake."
Mr. Bancroft, in speaking of the Shawanees, says, "It was about the year 1698 that three or four score of their families, with
the consent of the government of Pennsylvania, removed from Carolina and planted themselves on the Susquehanna. Sad, were
the fruits of that hospitality. Others followed; and when, in 1732, the number of Indian fighting men in Pennsylvania was
estimated to be 700, one half of them were Shawanee emigrants. So desolate was the wilderness that a vagabond tribe could
wander undisturbed from Cumberland River to the Alabama, from the head-waters of the Santee to the Susquehanna." They
were some years afterwards persuaded to remove to the lands on Conodoguinet, where a hunting-ground had been assigned
them by the proprietary government. Ever restless and quarrelsome themselves and encroached upon by the whites, they
retired from one hunting-ground to another, until they joined the French on the head waters of the Ohio, in 1755.
The village of the Conestogas is noted in the early colonial history as the scene of many important councils between the
proprietary governors and the Indians of the Susquehanna and the Six Nations. William Penn is said to have visited them once.
James Logan was here in 1705; Governor Evans in 1707; Governor Gookin in 1710 and 1711; and Governor Keith in 1721. They
were often visited by preachers of various denominations, among whom was Thomas Chalkley in 1705, an eminent Quaker
The upper parts of Germany, at the commencement of the last century, contained many Protestant communities, Moravians,
Schwenckfelders, Mennonists, or German Baptist, Dunkers or Seventh-day Baptists, and Lutherans, who, after fleeing in vain
from one principality to another to avoid persecution, at last, listening to William Penn's offer of free toleration, found a
permanent asylum in this new land. The news from the earlier immigrants brought thousands more, and the latter, finding the
townships immediately around Philadelphia taken up, sought the newer and cheaper lands in the interior. Some of the
Mennonists arrived about the year 1698 to 1711, but the greatest numbers in 1717, and settled chiefly in Lancaster County.
There was a very early settlement of Mennonists at Pequea Creek. The Dunkards came from Creyfield and Witgenstein in the
duchy of Cleves in Prussia, chiefly in the years 1719 to 1723 and settled at Oley, Conestoga and Mill Creek and afterwards at
Ephrata on the Cocalico, about the year 1732.
It is a singular fact, that when the Germans entered their land, and afterwards applied for the privilege of naturalization, the
proprietary ordered that their German names be translated into English; and thus many German families received English
names, which they retain to this day. The Zimmerman family for instance, is now known by the name of Carpenter.
The Presbyterians from the north of Ireland came in at about the same time as the Germans, and occupied the townships of
Donnegal and Paxton. Collisions afterwards occurring between them and the Germans concerning elections, bearing of arms,
the treatment of Indians and the proprietaries instructed their agents, in 1755, that the Germans should be encouraged, and in a
manner directed, to settle along the southern boundary of the province, in Lancaster and York counties, while the Irish were to
be located nearer to the Kittatinny mountain, in the region now forming Dauphin and Cumberland counties. There was deeper
policy in this than the mere separation of the two races. The Irish were a warlike peole and their services were needed in the
defence of the frontier.
The Welsh and English Quakers from the head waters of the Brandywine, and the Great valley of Chester County, gradually
spread themselves over into Sadsbury township. Robert Barber, Samuel Blunston and John Wright, three Quakers from Chester
County, came out in the year 1728 to Columbia, where they had purchased large farms. The Lutherans came in at a later date,
about the year 1740 to 1748 and are first heard of about Lancaster. The Moravians began their establishment in Warwick
township, about the year 1749. Many redemptioners (people who were sold into temporary service to pay for their passage
across the ocean) found their way into this county, where, after working themselves free, they obtaiined small tracts of land on
easy terms and became eventually valuable citizens.
Lancaster County, thus settled on the principle of free toleration, by men of widely different races and religions, has continued
to prosper, until it has become the most populous and wealthy inland county in the state.
The subsequent history of the county will be continued in connection with its more important towns. Lancaster City, the seat
of justice of the county, occupies an elevated site near the right bank of Conestoga Creek, 62 miles west from Philadelphia, 36
miles southeast from Harrisburg and 11 miles east from the Susquehanna at Columbia.
This place well deserves the title of a city. There is nothing rural in its aspect. The streets, laid off at right angles, are paved
and lighted; the houses, generally of brick, are compactly arranged, and those of modern date are lofty and well built; the
courthouse, as in all the older proprietary towns, occupies the centre of a small square at the intersection of the two principal
streets; the place is supplied with water by an artificial basin and "waterworks;" stores, taverns, and shops abound in every
quarter; railroad cars, stages, canal-boats, and wagons, are constantly arriving or departing; and altogether there is that rattle
and din that remind one of city life. A stranger is particularly struck with numerous tavern-signs that greet him by dozens along
the principal streets. They form a sort of outdoor picture gallery and some are no mean specimens of art. Here may be seen
half the kings of Europe, the king of Prussia, of Sweden, and the Prince of Orange; and then there are the warriors, Washington,
Lafayette, Jackson, Napoleon, William Tell and a whole army of others; and of statesmen there are Jefferson, Franklin and
others; and then comes the Red Lion of England, leading a long procession of lions, bears, stags, bulls, horses, eagles, swans,
black, white, dun and red, not to mention the emblems, the globe, the cross-keys, the plough, the wheat-sheaf, the compass and
square, and the hickory tree. These numerous inns tell of bygone days, before the railroad and canals were constructed, when
the streets and yards were crowded every evening with long trains of Conestoga wagons, passing over the turnpike, by which
nearly all the interior of the state ws supplied with merchandise. They tell, too, a sad tale of the ravages of that disease of good
fellowship which has blighted the prospects of many a worthy family of the city and county. It is to be hoped that the
temperance reformation will soon exterminate the disease, and that the young men of the growing generation will be spared to
honor and usefulness.
The following lively sketch of the appearance of Lancaster in olden timeis extracted from a communication in the Lancaster
Journal of 1838.
"When I was a boy, our good city of Lancaster was quite a different affair from what it is at present, with its Conestoga
navigation, its railway and improvements of every kind. At the formerly quiet corner of North Aueen and Chestnut streets, where
lived a few old-fashioned German families, making fortunes by untiring industry and the most minute economy, there is now
nothing but bustle and confusion, arrivals and departurs of cars, stages, carriages, hacks, drays and wheelbarrows, with
hundreds of people and thousands of tons of merchandise. I cannot help contrasting Orange Street's present appearance with
what it was in my boyhood. At that time, it was little more than a wide lane, with half a dozen houses, nearly all of which are yet
standing. The peaceable and retired looking mansion, with the willow trees in front, at present inhabited by the widow of Judge
Franklin, I remember as a commission store, whwere trade was carried on with a few Indians still in the neighborhood and also
with those from a greater distance, who exchanged their furs and peltries for beads, blankets, cutlery and rum, as is still done
in many parts of the western country. The house in which the North American Hotel is kept, was occupied by the land
commissioners a few years later.
Annually in those days a fair was held on the first Thursday and Friday in June. You could hardly see the street for the tables
and booths, covered with merchandise and trinkets of every kind. There were silks, laces, and jewellery, calicoes, gingerbread,
and sweetmeats, such as the ladies love; and that was the time they got plenty of them, too, for the young fellows used to hoard
up their pocket-money for months together to spend at the fair; and no girl felt ashamed to be treated to a fairing, even by a lad
she had never seen before. This was the first step towards expressing admiration, and she who got the most fairings was
considered as the belle. Then the corners of the streets were taken up with mountebanks, roepdancers and all the latesty
amusemetns. To see these, each young man took the girl that pleased him most; or, if he had a capacious heart, he sometimes
took half a dozen."
During the old French war, and that of the revolution, the Scotch-Irish of Lancaster County, and such of the Germans (the
Lutherans chiefly) as were not conscientiously opposed to it, cheerfully took arms in defence of the frontier. At the time of
Braddock's expedition, Dr. Franklin, by his tact and perseverance, raised a large force of horses and wagons among the
farmers of the county. Those who scrupled themselves to fight, did not object to send a horse and wagon to carry provisions,
and to relieve the wounded. At Lancaster, on the return of Gen. Forbe's army from Fort Pitt, a barrack was erected for the
accommodation of his troops. This building is still standing, though recently somewhat altered in its appearance, in the
Middle-street near Mr. Fries' tavern. It is generally known as the British prison, from the fact that during the revolution it was
selected for the confinement of the British prisoners, who were brought here because the inhabitants were thought to be
decidedly hostile to the English.
Columbia borough is situated on the left bank of the Susquehanna, 28 miles below Harrisburg and 11 miles west of
Lancaster. A part of the town occupies the slope of a hill, which rises gently from the river and the business part of the town
lies along the level bank of the river. The scenery from the hills in the vicinity is magnificent. The broad river, studded with
numerous islands and rocks, crossed by a long and splended bridge and bounded on every side by lofty hills, presents one of
the finest landscapes in Pennsylvania.
The public buildings here are Catholic, Presbyterian, two Methodist and Baptist churches, a Quaker meeting-house, a town
hall, a lyceum hall and a bank. The main current of travellers which formerly passed through here has been diverted by the
construction of the Harrisburg and Lancaster railroad; but the emigrant travel still goes by way of Columbia.
Marietta is situated on the left bank of the Susquehanna, 3 miles above Columbia. It was incorporated as a borough in 1812,
and the adjoining villages of Waterford and New Haven were included in the borough. It contains about 100 dwellings, a
Presbyterian church, a Female Seminary and about 500 inhabitants. Anderson's ferry was originally the well-known name of
Maytown, a small village two miles in the interior from Marietta and Elizabethtown, on the Harrisburg turnpike, were laid out
many years before Marietta, and not long after the commencement of Lancaster. The township containing these villages is
called Donnegal and was originally settled by Scotch-Irish. The venerable Presbyterian church of Donnegal, about 100 years
old, is still standing about four miles north of Marietta. Rev. james Anderson, who emigrated from Scotland in 1709, after
preaching for some years at New Castle and New York, was called to the church of "New Donnegal" in 1726. He died here in
1740. He is said to have been too rigidly Scotch in his Presbyterian notions for the people of New York who then inclined
towards Congregationalism, or toward the lax Presbyterianism of South Britain. The presbytery of Donnegal was the parent of
that of Carlisle and others west of it. All this region was famous in early times, especially during the revolution, for the convivial
and sprightly spirit characteristic of the Irish.
Bainbridge is an ancient village at the mouth of Conoy Creek, 9 miles above Columbia. It was formerly the site of Dekahoagah,
the village of the Conoy or Ganawese Indians. John Haldeman, an early pioneer, first built a mill at Locust Grove, below
Bainbridge. This was for a long time the principal mill in the whole region. Flour was then hauled in wagons to Chester, until the
people learned to construct and navigate arks. Mount Joy and Richland form together a continuous and very thriving village on
the Harrisburg railroad. Mount Joy was laid out by Jacob Rohrer in 1812, and disposed of by lottery; and Richland a year or two
afterward, by several individuals. They have Presbyterian, Methodist and other churches.
Litiz is a beautiful village belonging to the Moravians, 8 miles north of Lancaster. It was laid out in 1756. The houses are
principally of stone, arranged along one street with a public square in the centre. the square and streets are shaded with trees,
and the village has the air of neatness and order characteristic of the sect. The population may be about 400. There is but one
tavern in the place; and a stranger is much better accommodated there than in towns where it is thought, by politicians,
"necessary for the public convenience" to license half a dozen. In the centre is the church, with a cupola. Adjoining the church,
on the left, is the minister's dwelling. On the left of the view, at the end of the square, is the celebrated Female Seminary. On
the right is the Academy for boys. In the rear of the church is the "dead house," to which persons are carried immediately after
their death, previous to interment. The Moravians are celebrated for their musical taste; there is a fine organ in the church; and
the villagers have a band who are always ready, on proper occasions, to entertain strangers who desire to hear them.
Manheim, a village 5 miles of Litiz, was laid out at an early day by Mr. Steigel, and was famous for its glass and iron works. It
contains about sicty or eighty dwellings. Strasburg is an ancient village, 8 miles southeast of Lancaster, built along both sides
of the road for a mile and a half. It was never regularly laid out as a town, but seems to have grown up by the attraction of
cohesion among the earlier German emigrants. The ancient road from Lancaster to Philadelphia ran through it, and took its
name of the Strasburg road from the place. It was first settled about the same time with Lancaster. The inhabitants were
nearly all GermanThe father of Dr. Sample, who lives near Paradise, was the first and only Englishman in the place at the time of
the revolution. The place was formerly known as Peddlehausie.
About 4 miles southeast of Strasburg, near the railroad, is the village of Paradise, famous for its pleasant name. It was first
settled many years since by Mr. Abraham Witmer and his family, who built a mill there. When it was made a post-town in 1804,
and needed a name, he remarked that to him it was a paradise, and it has been so called to this day. New Holland is a neat
village, 12 miles northeast from Lancaster, in a rich limestone region. It is built on one long street, well shaded with trees, and
is distinguished by an appearance of thrift and comfort. The place was settled long before the revolution by German emigrants.
Mr. Primmer was one of the first settlers. The old Lutheran church bears the date of 1763, and is said to have been preceded
by an older one of logs.
The other important villages of this county are Elizabethtown, Falmouth, Washington, Millerstown, Neffsville, Soudersburg,
Intercourse, Reamstown, Adamstown, Hanstown, Warwick, Charleston, New Market, Petersburg, Fairfield, Little Britain,
Ephrata, Safe Harbor, Hinkletown and Swopestown. Some of these are villages of considerable population; other are merely
clusters of houses and stores at the intersection of roads.
|The Penn house, built in 1683,
in neighboring Chester County
|A view of the Sisters' house and of what was
formerly the Sisters' chapel, but is now occupied
by brethren and sisters in common. The similar,
but much larger house, and chapel, formerly
occupied by the brothers, are still standing, but in a
dilapidated condition. The other houses of the
society's village are occupied by separate
families. The sisters' house is on the left of the
view. Only a few aged brethren and sisters remain
Street in Columbia
|North Queen Street in Lancaster,
the courthouse is seen in the distance.
Public square in Litiz
The entrance to the Pocono
Mountains of Pennsylvania