John Pritiskutch Reproductions

History of Lebanon County - North and South Lebanon, and Cornwall

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

These townships were originally settled by Germans. The exact date at which the first settlement took place has not, so far as the writer can ascertain, been preserved; but from information, which seems to be authentic, there was a start made as early as 1721, east of where Hebron now stands, and in 1723-'4, several families had located within the eastern limits of North and South Lebanon, as they at present extend. The fertile character of the soil, and the favorable features of the location, led to a rapid increase in the growth of the settlement. In 1729, it was largely recruited by the arrival of many families from the Palatine in Germany, and clearings began to appear in the dense forests all over the lands now included in these three townships. For many years the nucleus and general centre of these settlements was Hebron, which was probably from 1740 to 1750 in the zenith of its prosperity. Tradition says, that in 1743 both the Moravians and the Mennonites had erected places of worship at or near Hebron. The Moravians were at one time quite numerous and wealthy, and made earnest efforts to convert the neighboring Indian tribes, but of their success in this immediate vicinity, the writer is unable to learn anything. Be this as it may, there can be no doubt that in some sections their labors were attended with a certain measure of success.

That Lebanon township was quite well settled at a nearly date, appears from the fact that as early as 1750, there were 150 taxables in these three townships, then included in one, and also from the many old buildings even yet standing. Persons were buried in the cemetery at Hebron as early as 1748.

Thus until 1750, Hebron was the principal business centre, but from that time Steitztown, the present Lebanon, began to grow into importance, and in 1756-'7, had an equal number of inhabitants. Hebron soon lost its prestige, never to regain it, while Steitztown, ere long, became the first town of importance in the county. During the Indian troubles, the two towns were both places of refuge for those who fled from the savages, who made frequent incursions on the more northern settlements. It is said that a number of families frequently took refuge in the old Moravian Church, now used as a barn by Daniel Fulmer. Old people also speak of a skirmish between the whites and Indians, which took place on property now owned by Joseph Heilman, south of Avon. No particulars are preserved, however, and the probability is, that few or no lives were lost. The log house built here in 1747 by a Mr. Steager has been pulled down, but a portion of the land taken up by him is still in the family. The fourth generation now occupying it. The original purchase was made for Five Pounds sterling, with the privilege of taking from 100 to 500 acres. The Quittapahilla Creek rises on the farm of J. Shank in South Lebanon township, and flows westerly through Lebanon Borough, North Lebanon, and Cornwall townships, into the Swatara. Cornwall township is well watered, as is also North Lebanon township.

The Kimmerling church in this township is one of the oldest in the county. In the southern part of Cornwall township, are located the far-famed Cornwall Iron Ore Banks, near which settlements were also made at a very early period. These will be more fully noticed elsewhere. Little did these early settlers imagine that there was buried here an exceedingly rich mineral deposit, destined to be developed and utilized by future generations; or that within the limits of their settlements would spring up a rich and prosperous manufacturing town. This section is very rich in agricultural productions---a part of the very " heart " of Lebanon county. The soil in South Lebanon and Cornwall is mostly limestone of first quality. There are also many acres of excellent limestone soil in North Lebanon township, and some gravel. The South Mountain or Conewago Hills is in the southern part of South Lebanon and Cornwall townships, and is, as before intimated, very rich in minerals. There is, also, excellent iron ore in the southern part of the level lands lying just north of these hills. The Cornwall, or North Lebanon Railroad, passes from the Cornwall Ore Banks northward to Lebanon, where it terminates at the furnaces of G. Dawson Coleman, and intersects and connects with the Lebanon Valley Railroad, which passes from East to Nest near the northern boundaries of Cornwall and South Lebanon, and through the south-western part of North Lebanon township. The railroad to Pine Grove and Tremont in Schuylkill county, and the Union Canal, also pass through this latter. The population in 1870, of South Lebanon, was 1783; of North Lebanon, 2263, and of Cornwall, 2008. In the latter is Independence, or Bismark, a thriving village on the Horse Shoe Turnpike about one mile west of Cornwall Ore Banks. There is also a large aggregation of population at the Cornwall Furnaces. Avon and Prescott, on the line of the Lebanon Valley R.R. are growing rapidly. The former is on the line between North and South Lebanon townships-partly in each; and the latter is in South Lebanon township. These townships, with the borough of Lebanon, contain nearly one-half of the total population of the county. North and South Lebanon townships were formed in 1840, by the division of Lebanon Cornwall was taken from south Lebanon in 1853. One of the oldest houses in the latter is now owned and occupied by David Hoke. 282 acres of land in its immediate vicinity were purchased of Thos. Dennand and Richard Penn, Governors of Pennsylvania, Aug. 22d, 1734, by Felix Landis, and sold by him in 1757, to George Snavely for 43. 14s. and 2 pence, lawful money of Pennsylvania. At that time, this was included in Lebanon township, Lancaster county. A stone church in the western part, built by the Mennonites about the year 1798, is supposed to be the oldest building of the kind (now standing) in this township. The ground on which it stands (about 3/4 of an acre) was bought the same year for six pounds in gold or silver.

We feel confident the citizens of the county will be proud of this excellent description of the great mineral deposit, which has made Lebanon county famous. The folowing is taken from the "Reading Times and Dispatch," and is probably as correct and reliable as can be obtained.