The History of Lancaster County’s Borders

Happy Birthday, Lancaster County!

It was on this day, May 10, in 1729 that Lancaster County became a county carved out of a large portion of Chester County. Legend has it that beginning in 1728, residents living in the backwoods of Chester County began to complain that “thieves, vagabonds, and ill people” had infested the rural areas of what is now Lancaster County. They petitioned William Penn’s son for the creation of a new county to jettison these undesirable residents.

1821 Map of Lancaster County

Click to purchase a copy of William Wagner’s beautiful 1821 map of Lancaster County. It is the first official document to show the county’s now iconic shape.

But you might be surprised to learn that Lancaster did not always have its iconic shape. Its shape continued to evolve as neighboring counties in the 18th and 19th centuries were created.

For more information check out this interactive atlas of historical Pennsylvania county boundaries.


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