A brief history of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

In teaching the history of the United States, I have found that Pennsylvania students are lacking in knowledge of their own Commonwealth, and that there is even greater lack of intelligence concerning the county to which they belong.

This has enabled me to understand and appreciate the demand that has come from the teachers and other persons officially connected with the schools of Lancaster county, for a history of the county which shall be available for the school and the family.

Lancaster county is one that demands attention and interest, because of its rich material resources, its large population, and its historical associations.

Then, too, being one of the portions of Pennsylvania that was earliest settled, when emigration to "the West" began, the people seemed to feel that the population was crowding here; and with an inherited hardihood and enterprise many of them became the pioneers of the nearer and more remote Western States, and we think it is not exaggeration to say that there is hardly a State or Territory included within our great domain which has not a representative from this county.

It is also honorably represented in almost every department of art, in almost every industry, in science, and in literature. It has had a fair share of able states men and of gallant soldiers, and of hardy naval heroes, men who have shed lustre upon its past arid who are fit exemplars for the youth of to-day.

All these things considered, we have abundant reason to expect this county to take and maintain a leadership in both material and intellectual affairs.

A better knowledge of its history we feel assured would have a tendency to excite an appreciation of its importance, and thus tend to arouse a stronger local patriotism, something most devoutly to be wished; for while a man's patriotism should not be hemmed in by county or by State lines, but should reach to the utmost bounds of his Nation, yet there is due to his narrower domain of neighborhood a good share of his patriotic devotion.

It is of these apparently smaller interests that he is the special custodian. A fidelity in guarding and caring for these is fair evidence that he will be faithful in guarding larger and greater ones. If the man best fitted to fill a township office is elected to fill that office, the offices of the county and State will most likely be filled with capable men; and that being so, greater care will almost of necessity be exercised in the choice of men to fill our National councils. If men in a neighborhood are wise enough to elect efficient school directors, they can most probably be counted upon to cast an intelligent vote for the Nation's Chief Magistrate, and thus give the people a wise and intelligent National administration.

This brief preface indicates the object of this book, which the editor hopes may contribute something toward the attainment of the purpose at which it aims.


Table of Contents

The Indian. The Tribes; Their Character; Their Wars I

The Indian Trader. His Character; His Life 26

First Settlers. Settlements and Their Progress 45

Early Mode of Life 83

Geography 95

Before the French and Indian War. Organization of the County, and Erection of Townships 108

During the French and Indian War. Dealings With the Delawares and Shawanese 135

During the Revolution 151

After the Revolution 163

During the Civil, War and Since 174

Agriculture. Indian Farming; Later Farming; The Soil 178

Education. History of the Early Schools, and of the Public Schools and Higher Institutions 195

Early Printing 230

Religion 234

Biography. Weiser, Ross, Hand, Yeates, Shippen, Mifflin, Snyder, Muhlenberg, Ramsay, Fulton, Murray, Buchanan, Stevens, Reynolds, Heintzelman, Forney, Cameron, Bowman, Nevin, Atlee, Burrowes, Beck, Haldeman, Rathvon, Wickersham, 240

Government 271

Manufactures, Banking, Etc., 275

Natural History. Geology; Flora; Fauna 280

Indian Legends 313


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Lancaster county is rich in Indian traditions. This fertile and well-wooded country, with its abundance of wild animals in the forests and fish in the streams, attracted the Indians to this locality. The Susqiiehaitnocks, afterwards called Mingoes or Conestogas, whose chief seat was in the present Manor township, were the most important tribe within the limits of the present Lancaster county, and their best-known chief was Captain Civility. The place where the Conestogas had their last home is still called Indiantown. The next important tribe were the Shawanese, who came here from the South in William Penn's time, lived here half a century, and then moved to the West. While in this locality their chief seat was Pequehan, where the Pequea creek empties into the Susquehanna river. They also had two towns on the Octoraro, one a few miles above the present village of Christiana, and the other several miles below the site of that village. The greatest sachem of the Shawanese while at Pequehan was Opessah. The Conoys were a small tribe located at the mouth of Conoy creek. The Delawares, from the Delaware river, and the Nanticokes, from the eastern shore of Chesapeake bay, roamed over these parts to hunt and fish, but had no towns here.