John Pritiskutch Reproductions

History of Lebanon County - Heidelberg

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

Heidelberg Township is in the south-eastern part of Lebanon county. It is bounded on the North by Jackson township ; on the East by Mill Creek ; on the South, by Lancaster county, and on the West by South Lebanon township. It was first settled by German Jews, in the vicinity of Schaefferstown. They must have carne here as early as 1723, as they had a church and cemetery here only a few years later. Here, with others of their religious faith from many miles around, they gathered to hear their Rabbi read the Scriptures to them, and perform the religious rites of the Jewish Church. The cemetery is all that remains to show that they once were here, the church having long since crumbled into ruins; and as the march of civilization surrounded them with a class of neighbors who were somewhat prejudiced against their religion, they disposed of their effects and went away ; where, tradition does not tell. That they must have settled early in the eighteenth arrived early enough to build a church in 1765, which is still standing in century, is shown by the fact that the people who succeeded l them, good condition. In the vicinity of Schaefferstown the famous Baron Steigel owned a castle. Here, he at times indulged in the riotous festivities common to his native country. On the tower of this castle was a cannon, which, on the occasions of the Baron's visits, was fired to notify the neighborhood of his arrival, so that his friends might gather to welcome him, and enjoy his lavish hospitality. He is said to have a dies bankrupt. According to one authority, while acting in the capacity of a school teacher. According to another, while superintendent of a foundry or funrace. Steigel stoves are still in existence. On the farm of S. Bomberger, it is said, was erected in 1723, a log fort, which was used by the settlers as a protection against the Indians, and near which several skirmishes occurred, of which no particulars are given. The old fountain or hydrant in the square at Schaefferstown, was built in 1755. The township contains very many old buildings. Schaefferstown, by its interior position, did not suffer greatly from the incursions of the Indians. Among the elemets of natural wealth in the township, should be mentioned the great deposits of brown sandstone in the south-eastern part, much of which is on lands owned by Wm. Weigley, and Dr. Zerbe, Sr., and of which Mr. Weigley's elegant Mansion is built. When railroad communication shall be obtained to Philadelphia, these deposits are destined to add both to the wealth and population of this section.

Heidelberg originally comprised (besides the present township) the three Heidelbergs in Berks county, and part of Jackson township, in Lebanon county. The first division was made at the time of the formation of Berks county in 1752, when the larger part was incorporated with that county.

The soil, as is the greater portion in the southern part of the county, is limestone of fine quality, and is well cultivated. The township has several small streams, the two principal of which are Mill Creek and Hammer Creek, in the southern part.

Schaefferstown, situated in the centre,'is a town of some importance, and the largest in the township.. It was settled or laid out about the year 1715, by a family of the name of Schaeffer, who emigrated from Europe. The house built by them still remains. It is built on pillars, and is at present used as a tavern.

There are, besides, several smaller towns or villages, the two principal of which are Kleinfeltersville in the eastern, and Reistville in the northern part, each of which have post-offices.

The population of the township in 1870 was 2236.