The History of Mount Joy Township and Borough as recorded in the ‘1875 Historical Atlas of Lancaster County’

Township Tuesday

Welcome to Township Tuesday, where each week, we will examine the history of different Lancaster County townships. This week: Mount Joy Township as recorded in the 1875 Historical Atlas of Lancaster County. A few minor edits have been made, mostly for readability, plus adding additional images from sources outside of the Atlas. 

1875 Historical Atlas of Lancaster County

The 1875 Historical Atlas of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was compiled by the famous cartographer and atlas maker Major L. H. Everts of Geneva, Illinois. Click here to read more about the Atlas and Everts.

Mount Joy Township and Mount Joy Borough

Mount Joy is one of the northwestern townships and was organized in 1767. It occupied a conspicuous position during the Revolution, particularly that portion of it that now constitutes the borough of Mount Joy and its surroundings.

Here General Anthony Wayne was encamped with his army in 1777-78. We publish a letter from a series of correspondence submitted to I. D. Rupp, the historian, by Charles McClure, Secretary of the Commonwealth, under date of October 11, 1843:

Mount Joy, 28th Dec., 1777.

To his Excellency Thomas Wharton, Esq.

DEAR SIR,—I was favored with yours of the 12th inst., but the enemy being then out, prevented me from acknowledging it sooner.

I can’t help expressing both surprise and concern at the Councils directing the clothing collected in this State into the hands of the Clothier-General, especially after being informed that the other States were collecting clothing for the use of their troops; clothing for the Eastern troops has actually arrived,—they are now comfortable, while ours are actually perishing.

His Excellency is also informed that Governor Henry, of Virginia, has ordered on clothing for the troops of that State, which he expects at every hour.

Thus, sir, whilst other States are exerting every power (under a resolve of Congress) to provide for their own troops only, you are following the generous course of providing for the whole. This, sir, is being generous out of time. It is an old adage, that a man ought to be just before he can be permitted to be generous. The case applies in full force here. Supply the immediate wants of your own troops first; then give scope to your generosity. Enclosed is an estimate of the cost of six hundred and fifty suits of uniform, which Mr. Zantzinger has provided for the troops of that State. He is in great want of money. I wish you would assist him to the cash he wants, and to take some effectual method to clothe the troops in the best, speediest, and neatest manner possible. Lest you should be under a deception with regard to the mode in which the clothing in the hands of the Clothier-General is distributed, I am to inform you that they are delivered in proportion to their wants (or in plain English), to the number of men in each regiment throughout the army.

Judge how inadequate our proportion must be to our wants, whilst the troops from other States have an equal dividend in addition to their other supplies.

At this inclement season, one-third of our troops are totally destitute of either shoes, stockings, shirts, or blankets, so that unless they receive an immediate supply of those necessary articles, sickness, death, and desertion will be the inevitable consequence.

“I am your Excellency’s most ob’t humble serv’t,


Borough of Mount Joy

1875 Map of Mount Joy Borough.

Mount Joy was laid out by Jacob Rohrer in 1811, who owned the land up to the Cross Roads. It was then, and until the consolidation of it with the village of Richland, known as Rohrer’s Town; previous to that as “Nicholas Tavern,” afterwards kept by Samuel Atlee. The consolidation of the two places and the incorporation of Mount Joy into a borough was effected by an act of Assembly, approved February 10, 1851.

The town is beautifully situated on the main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The surrounding country presents a fine and picturesque view. The Harrisburg and Lancaster Turnpike runs through it. The place has always been an attractive and desirable location for private residences. The beauty of the gardens of many of them forms quite an interesting feature in the general loveliness of the town.

1894 Map of Mount Joy

Thirty years ago it had the most extensive axe manufactory in the country, carried on by the Brady Brothers. It now contains one of the largest agricultural implement manufactories in the County. In 1839, Rev. N. P. Dodge established a ladies’ seminary at Cedar Hill, which is now used as a seminary for both sexes, under the management of Prof. D. Denlinger.

Two or three years later Mr. Moore built an academy for boys, at the northeast edge of the town. It was recently converted into one of the State schools for soldiers’ orphans, for which benevolent purpose it is now used. It is under the management of Prof. J. Kennedy.

The town is partly in Mount Joy and partly in East Donegal Township, Main Street forming the dividing-line. It contains four dry goods and grocery stores, two hardware and two drug stores, a stationery, book, and variety store, four millinery and trimming establishments, a jewelry store, three boot and shoe stores, two furniture stores and one manufactory, five hotels and three restaurants, two banks, and two newspapers (the ” Herald” and the “Star”).

The manufacturing interests of the town are represented by four foundries, an edge-tool manufactory, an agricultural implement works, plow factory, a steam tannery, a furniture manufactory, and a steam cabinet shop.

There are six secret and benevolent societies, viz., a lodge of the Independent Order of Odd-Fellows; a senior and junior lodge of the Order of United American Mechanics; a commandery of Knights of Pythias; a lodge of the Order of Red Men, and one of the Patriot Sons of America; also, a Young Men’s Christian Association.

There are seven churches,—one each of the Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist Episcopal, Church of God, United Brethren, Evangelical, and Presbyterian denominations. In addition to the seminary and soldier’s orphans’ school, there is a fine high school, graded into six departments.

The borough is supplied by water from Chiques Creek, the works having been recently introduced.

The population of the town, according to the census of 1870, was 1,896; it is now estimated at 2,200. The number of taxables, as returned by the assessor in 1874, was 511; assessed value of real and personal property by the same authority was $473,470.

The town is rapidly increasing, both in financial and business importance.


Springville, the post-office of which is called Spring Garden, is a beautifully situated village, located one mile west of Mount Joy Borough. It contains three general stores, a hotel, a cigar manufactory, two churches (one United Brethren and one Dunker), and two common schools. It was laid out by Christian Hertzler in 1812. Its close proximity to Mount Joy gives it superior advantages.

Springville, PA

Centreville (post-office, Milton Grove) is a conglomerate of a few houses, with a general store and a hotel. Part of Elizabethtown Borough is also in Mont Joy Township.

Milton Grove, PA

The boundaries of the township, as at present defined, are: Bounded north by Dauphin County, northeast by Lebanon County, east by Rapho Township, south by East Donegal, and west by West Donegal. It contains an area of 16,373 acres., Its population in 1870 was 2,037, of which 1,196 were native born and 41 foreign; 2034 white and only 3 colored. The number of taxables, as returned by the assessor in 1874, was 625; assessed value of real and personal property, $1,760,462. It contains seven grist and three saw mills, three hotels, three stores, and twelve common schools. The Conewago Creek flows along the northwest border, and the Little Chiquesalunga on the eastern boundary.

1899 Map of Mount Joy Township.

Mount Joy Township constitutes a rich farming region. Its chief productions are wheat, corn, oats, and tobacco. Among the best practical farmers of the township are the Missleys, Wolgamuths, Andrew Heisey, Aaron Martin, Henry Witmer, J. K. Hoffman, Aaron Kuhns, John Young, Henry Shearer, Jacob G. Stauffer, Christian Coble, Isaac Mackley, the Risslers, and many others.

Click here to see additional entries from the 1875 Historical Atlas of Lancaster County.


Now you can own a beautiful reproduction map of Mount Joy, Mount Joy Borough, and Mount Joy Township.

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Peculiar Names: Mount Joy

Lancaster County is full of communities with peculiar names. This series examines their curious etymology. Up next: Mount Joy. The town takes its name not from some nearby mountainous peak but from a 17th-century ship that saved the city of Londonderry in Northern Ireland. Click the link to read the full story.

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