The History of the Hempfield Townships as recorded in the ‘1875 Historical Atlas of Lancaster County’

Township Tuesday

Welcome to Township Tuesday, where we will examine the history of different Lancaster County townships each week. This week: the Hempfield Townships as recorded in the 1875 Historical Atlas of Lancaster County. Famous cartographer and atlas maker Major L. H. Everts of Geneva, Illinois, compiled the 1875 Atlas. Click here to read more about the Atlas and Everts. A few minor edits have been made, mostly for readability, plus adding additional images from sources outside of the 1875 Atlas. 

The Hempfield Townships

1821 map of Lancaster County featuring East and West Hempfield Townships.

The territory now embraced within the limits of East and West Hempfield, before the organization of the County, was included in Conestoga Township, then in Chester County.

Immediately after the erection of Lancaster County in 1729, what is now the two townships were organized into one township called Hempfield. Among the old settlers, many of whom permanently located there before 1725, were Andrew Harshey (Hershey), Henry and John Musselinan, Henry and Jacob Landes, Newcomer, Nisly, Funk, Joshua Minshall (a Quaker, who moved to the west side of the river in 1783 and was taken prisoner by Cresap’s gang and confined in Annapolis prison), John Brubaker (first constable of Hempfield), Kauffman, Hoover, James and John Hendricks (Indian traders for many years), Joshua Toul (who was coroner for eight years), and Tobias Hendricks (who served as a magistrate before the County was organized).

James Patterson, an Indian trader, settled in the township in 1717, two miles below Columbia. His widow married Thomas Ewing, who was a member of the Assembly for several years, and the father of General James Ewing, a distinguished officer in the Revolution. After Ewing’s death, she married an Irish officer named John Connelly, by whom she had one son, John, who laid out Louisville and gave the Pennsylvanians much trouble in the western part of the State. He joined the British army, was taken prisoner, and for a year was on parole at General Ewing’s, his half-brother.

John Wright, also an early settler and one of the founders of Columbia, was a Justice of the Common Pleas Court in 1729. He was also elected a member of the Assembly, in which body he served fifteen terms: was speaker of the same one session and held various other positions of trust. He established a ferry across the Susquehanna in 1733 and died in 1751, aged eighty-four.

Columbia Borough on the 1899 map of West Hempfield Township.

Samuel Blunston, also one of the pioneers of Columbia, was appointed Register of Wills in 1729, which office he held for fifteen years. He was also an agent for Thomas Penn, son, and heir of William Penn, in 1734, to survey lands west of the river and grant licenses to settlers. Thomas Penn was a guest at his house (now owned by Samuel B. Heise) in 1736. He built a corn and grist mill in 1738 on Shawnee Run, which he willed to James Wright. This mill made flour for Braddock’s army during the Revolution. He died in 1746. To him and John Wright, the credit is due for checking Cresap’s War and circumventing the Marylanders. Governor Ogle of Maryland offered a $100 reward for their arrest.

Robert Barber, one of the trio-pioneers of Columbia, was Sheriff in 1729. Among other early settlers were the Spears, Scotts, Carrers, Greiders, Stricklers, Forrys, Longs, Mays, Hugh Paden (a captain in Colonel Lowery’s battalion in the Revolution), Weldys, Shellabargers, Shirks, Mummas, Snyders, and Patons. Many of the descendants of the above are still residents of the Hempfield Townships and County. General Thomas Bonde, who married Betsy Wright, was a distinguished Revolution officer and a Congress member in 1800.

As initially laid out, Hempfield extended from Conestoga Creek along the river to Chiques Creek, thence up that creek to Peters’s Road, thence to Little Conestoga Creek, thence down the creek to Manor line, thence along the same to Conestoga Creek. The division of the township was effected in August 1818.

West Hempfield

1875 map of West Hempfield.

West Hempfield contains an area of 13,700 acres. Its greatest length is eight miles; its greatest breadth is five miles. In 1870, the township’s population was 3,688, of which 3,108 were native-born, 580 were foreign, 3,656 were white, and 32 colored. The assessor’s returns for 1,874 give the total number of taxables (exclusive of Columbia Borough) at 935; the assessed value of real and personal property from the same authority is $3,026,309.

The surface on the northwestern side is hilly and was called by Governor John Penn Hempfield Manor. Most of it is now under a good state of cultivation and quite thickly settled. The valleys below are rich in limestone and very fertile. It contains seven grist, two sawmills, three furnaces, six hotels, seven stores, sixteen common schools, and three brickyards. Forty years ago, iron ore (hematite) was discovered on Chestnut Hill, since which time several million dollars worth of ore has been taken out. A dozen or more furnaces continue to be supplied with ore from that bank. There are ten excellent dairies in the township, which supply Columbia daily with milk. Although (except Columbia Borough) there are no large towns in the township, it is quite thickly settled. The houses are so close together from the Columbia and Marietta turnpike, in a semi-circle along the ridge of the hill five miles, that it has the appearance of one continuous street or town.


Mountville on the 1899 map of West Hempfield.

Next to Columbia Borough is the principal village of Mountville. It is beautifully situated upon a gently sloping hill along the Lancaster and Columbia Turnpike, four miles from the latter place. Isaac Rohrer laid it out in 1810 or 1811. It has two stores, two hotels, two churches, several tradesmen and schools, a Justice of the Peace, two resident physicians, a post office, and about four hundred inhabitants. A newspaper called the ” Mountville News” was started in 1869 and lived for about three years.

Hiestandville was laid out by Jacol Hiestand in 1804. It has a fine location and contains about forty dwellings and an estimated population of two hundred inhabitants.

Kinderhook is situated on Chestnut Hill, along the road leading from Columbia to the Marietta and Lancaster Turnpike at “Boyd’s Tavern.” It was named after the sage of Kinderhook when he was a candidate for President in 1840. There being several Democrats living there and only one Whig—Thomas Mooney—who gave it the name in derision, Dr. George Kline, a Democrat, was pleased with the name and insisted on its retention. It is a village of two hundred inhabitants and forty or fifty dwellings.

Kinderhook on the 1899 map of West Hempfield Township.

The other villages are Salunga, laid out by Colonel Jacob Hostetter in 1840, situated on the Lancaster and Mount Joy Railroad. Although the village does not number more than two hundred inhabitants, a large business is transacted in lumber, coal, and general merchandise. It contains a post office. Ironville, a village on Chestnut Hill, was laid out by John K. Smith. It is a prosperous and thriving village. There are post offices at Chiques and at Silver Springs.

East Hempfield

1875 map of East Hempfield Township.

Among the early settlers who were located here before the organization of the County was those mentioned in the early part of this sketch, the Hershers, Musselmans, etc. The principal village in East Hempfield is Landisville which was laid out forty-seven years ago by John Landis, although the first house was built by Jacob Minich as early as 1798. It is situated on the Lancaster and Mount Joy Turnpike, and half a mile from the intersection of the Reading and Columbia Railroad with the Lancaster and Mount Joy Railroad. It is a thriving village of about one hundred and seventy-five inhabitants, containing one general store, a fine new hotel, a tailor’s shop, three churches, one each of the Old and New Mennonites and Winebrenarian denominations. It is a post-town. John C. Landis was the first Postmaster; Simon Minich is the present incumbent.


The other village and post office in East Hempfield is Petersburg (now East Petersburg), a thriving village enjoying a pleasant and healthful location.

The area of East Hempfield is 14,145; the population in 1870 was 2,602, of which 2,503 were native-born and 99 foreign, 2,592 were white, and ten were colored. The number of taxables, 806; value of real and personal property, as returned for assessment in 1874, is $2,924,951. It contains six grist mills, one sawmill, a distillery, twelve hotels, six stores, and twelve common schools.

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


You can own beautiful reproduction maps of East Hempfield, West Hempfield, and Columbia Borough from 1864 through 1899.

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The History of Columbia Borough as recorded in the ‘1875 Historical Atlas of Lancaster County’

1851 Map of Lancaster County.

In the summer of 1726, three prominent Quakers—Robert Barber, John Wright, and Samuel Blunston—came from Chester with their families to the Susquehanna River and settled in an area that would eventually become known as Columbia. Nearly 150 years later, the community was second in population and the first in importance for manufacturing iron in Lancaster County, having but few equals in the entire State. Click the link to read the full 1875 history of the Borough of Columbia.

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