John Pritiskutch Reproductions

History of Lebanon County - Londonderry

The following is reproduced from the 1875 Atlas of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania

We copy a large part of the following, verbatim, from the history of Berks and Lebanon counties, published in 1844. It is, probably, the most authentic to be obtained.

Derry township, organized in 1729, was then bounded as follows: Beginning at the mouth of the Conewago, thence up the Susquehanna to the mouth of the Swatara; thence up the Swatara to the mouth off the Quittapahilla; thence south to the Conewago, and down the same to the place of beginning. As then bounded, it embraced all within its limits known as the West End, and the east end of Derry, or, as subsequently called, Derry and Londonderry. Derry was settled prior to 1720. About the same time, the Semples, Pattersons, Mitchells, Galbraiths, Scotts, Whitehills, and others settled in Donegal. They were principally Irish emigrants. As early its 1750, many of them moved to Cumberland county.

Though the original settlers in this township were principally Irish, but few of their descendants are residing here now. Some, as stated above, settled in the western part of what is now Franklin county, called the Conococheague Settlement; where are still to be found the Campbells, McDowells, Smiths and Finleys, the ancestors of Gov. Wm. Finley.

This township, lying more towards the interior, was not so much exposed as the more northern, to the incursions of the Indians. Nevertheless, they penetrated into the more sparsely settled parts, and committed several murders, and made abductions.

June 19th, 1757, nineteen persons were killed in a mill on the Quittapahilla Creek; and on the 9th of September, of the same year, a boy and a girl were stolen from Donegal township, a few miles south of Derry. About the same time, one Danner and his son, Christian, a lad about twelve years old, went out into the Conewago Hills to chop some wood. After felling a tree, and while the father was in the act of cutting off a log, he was shot dead, and scalped by the Indians; and Christion was taken captive and carried to Canada, where he was retained several years, but finally made his escape. Another young man, named Steger, was also captured by them, while in the act of cutting hoop poles, but fortunately made his escape soon after.

Jacob and Henry Bowman, brothers, both young men, were captured and tied by the savages to trees in a secluded spot, where they left them and proceeded to the Conestogo Indians, intending, as was supposed, on their return, to carry them to Canada; but in the interim, the young men were seen and released by a Mr. Shalty, who was returning from Lancaster to Lebanon. During these Indian troubles, the men attended church with loaded guns and other defensive weapons. Their pastor, Rev. Elder, ministered to their spiritual wants, and counseled them in these perilous times. It is said of him, that he was doubly armed; first, by faith in the certain protection of an overruling Providence; second, in his gun, which he often had with him in the pulpit, for he was an unerring marksman.

About the year 1756, the church was surrounded by Indians so closely, as was afterwards learned, from an escaped prisoner, they could count the rifles in it ; but as there appeared to be too many of them, the savages went off without molesting the congregation. Berrangles church, in this township, is one of the oldest, but the writer of this was, or is unable to find any record when the first one was built. According to the old church records, in care of Rev. Weibel, at Palmyra, it appears that the first congregational baptism took place in 1723. Through the kindness of Mr. Jacob Keller, sexton of the church, the writer was shown some old relics belonging to the congregation, consisting of a sacramental set, and some other articles, presented to the congregation by Messrs, Miller, Kisner, and some others. There is, at this date, September, 1875, almost $20 of Continental money in the church which was left in the hands of the treasurer. It bears date from 1776 to 1778, and is in good condition.

This township contains nearly twenty-six thousand acres of land, some of the best and some of the worst in the county. The middle portion is level; limestone soil, and some good gravel and slate. The northern part is undulating. The south and south-west is hilly, and much of it is covered with Sienite boulders of huge proportions.

The Swatara Creek runs along the northern boundary, and receives the Quittapahilla, a considerable stream, from the south-east. Killinger's run, a tributary of the latter, flows in a northerly direction. The Conewago Creek flows westerly through the township, north of the Conewago Hills, on which is the Colebrook Furnace, now in operation for over 90 years. The Downingtown, Ephrata and Harrisburg turnpike, on which the village of Campbelltown is rated, passes through east and west. This was once a very important thoroughfare. The Berks and Dauphin turnpike passes through Palmyra.

The Lebanon Valley Railroad passes a little north of what was once Palmyra, but now the town is extended to the depot, which is nearly a half mile from the old town site. The improvements in this township are very good.

The population in 1870 was 2212.