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Pequea Township

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

Pequea Township administrative offices are located at 1028 Millwood Road, Willow Street, PA 17584.
Phone: 717.464.2322.

Neighborhoods

Beginnings

On October 16, 1710, the original order to survey 10,000 acres of land on the Pequea Creek was given to Rudolph Bundely and others. Present Pequea Township was included in this area, which was organized in 1712 as Conestoga Township. In the years following 1712, there was a steady flow of Mennonite immigrants into the area. The leaders of the colony took a keen interest in their brethren and did all they could to make it easy and appealing for them to come to the new land.

By 1717, the population was outgrowing the Township bounds, and consequentlynew tracts were surveyed. It seems the work of surveying and apportioning these lots commenced in 1719. Among the first settlers were John Lines, Hans Boyer, and the Widow (Jacob) Hoover. They bought hundreds of acres at approximately 50 cents an acre. During the early settlement of the region, the language in all probability was German because the early tombstones, the signatures of deeds, and early wills were almost all written in German

Farming was the prevailing occupation by the beginning of the nineteenth century. The area's soils were well suited to farming and, at that time, were described as some of the best for agriculture in the County. In addition to farming, there were several mills located on Conestoga Creek and Pequea Creek. Groff's Mill on the Conestoga Creek opened in the early 1800's. The most important mills on the Pequea Creek were Baumgardner's Mill and Burnt Mill. Both opened between 1800 and 1814. Pequea Township was also known for an iron mine and the best quality all-purpose limestone in Lancaster County. The iron mine opened in 1816 and ore was taken to Conewingo Furnace for smelting. The mine was operated for a short time and then shut down again five years later. Final abandonment came in 1882.

The history of silver mining in Pequea Township dates back to 1709, when an undetermined amount was mined on Silver Mine Run, near Pequea Creek. The 1709 date was determined from correspondence of William Penn, who wrote to mine owners to demand royalty payments. This is the earliest apparent date that silver or any other ore was extracted, since there is no indication that the Native Americans had any metallurgical techniques. All that is known of this early operation is that a large amount of rock was removed, as evidenced by two water-filled inclines 75 to 90 feet deep, and a 100-yard tunnel in the side of the hill. Some ore was apparently removed during the Civil War and the late 1930's, possibly the efforts of a fraudulent stock promoter.

The Conestoga Wagon was commonly used before the advent of railroads when the only way to transport goods was by horse-drawn vehicles. The Old Conestoga Trail traversed the Township from East to West and initially influenced development throughout the area. Later, the stage coach from Lancaster to Port Deposit skirted the eastern border of the Township. In addition to providing transportation for the people, the coach carried mail for the various communities through which it passed. The stage coach always took two days to make the complete round trip between Lancaster and Port Deposit. The Quarryville Railroad, built in 1875, ushered in a new era of transportation.

By the mid 1800's, most of the prime land in the northern portion of Lancaster County was occupied so that the southern part of the County, including Conestoga Township, grew rapidly from 1850 to 1880. In 1852 Conestoga Township was divided and the eastern half became Pequea Township.

The early communities of Pequea Township included the villages of West Willow and New Danville. West Willow was started in the 1700's with the establishment of Christian Snavely's Tavern. By the late 1820's there were about twelve dwellings. The population grew slowly but it was not until the coming of the railroad in 1875 that significant gains were made. In 1880 the population was approximately 150; in 1920 it was said West Willow possessed about 400 inhabitants. Before the establishment of the post office, the village of New Danville was known as Stumptown. In 1830 there were eleven dwellings, two smitheries, a tavern, a store, two wagon and blacksmith shops, a shoe shop and a physician.

† Pequea Township, Comprehensive Plan, 2005, www.pequeatwp.org, accessed August, 2021.

Nearby Towns: Conestoga Twp • East Lampeter Twp • Lancaster City • Lancaster City • Lancaster Twp • Martic Twp • Millersville Boro • West Lampeter Twp •