About Conewago Township
Conewago Township was named for the Conewago Creek, which forms its southern boundary. The (eastern) Conewago Creek runs through Lebanon, Lancaster and Dauphin Counties. Conewago is an Indian word (either Delaware or Iroquois) meaning "at the place of rapids" (Conewaugha). Conewago Township was created in 1850 from parts of Derry and Londonderry Townships. It is located in Dauphin County, which used to be part of Lancaster County, and before that part of Chester County.
Conewago Township is in the southeast corner of Dauphin County, and is bordered on the north by Derry Township (Hershey); on the west by Derry and Londonderry Townships; on the south by Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County; and on the east by South Londonderry Township,
Lebanon County. The Township is about 3.8 miles wide, and an average of 4.4 miles in length, comprising an area of about 16.7 sq miles or 10,700 acres. Conewago Township is mainly a rural farming community.
There are two other townships in Pennsylvania with the same name, where the (western) Conewago Creek runs. They are Conewago Twp, Adams Co. and Conewago Twp, York Co. There is also a township with a very similar name, Conewango in Warren County, PA. And there is a town of Conewango in Cattaraugus County, New York. Conewingo and Conowingo are other spellings of the same Indian term. There is a Conowingo Creek in Pennsylvania and Maryland, and a town and dam called Conowingo in Cecil County, Maryland.
One of two lakes called Conewago Lake is at Mt. Gretna in Lebanon County. There is also a Conewago Lake at Gifford Pinchot State Park. Many people call it Pinchot Lake. The 340-acre lake in York County is off Route 117 between Lewisberry and Rossville.
Click picture to enlarge.
Conewago Township, Dauphin County Timeline
- 1717 - area of Derry Township settled.
- 1729 - In 1729 Lancaster County was formed out of part of Chester County.
- 1729 - Derry Township incorporated as part of Lancaster County June 9 or Aug 1, 1729.
- 1755 - area of Conewago Township settled. Early settlers of this area had their land surveyed by William Penn. Concerning the early settlement of this township, some of the names discovered on early records were: Shoap, Bucks, Wallers, Roan, Carothers and Johnson. Potts and Shenks were present around the 1750's. The Longeneckers, Rissers, Grubbs, Lehmans and a few more came at about the same date and a short time thereafter.
- 1767 - Londonderry Township incorporated from part of Derry Township Feb. 1767 or 1768 while part of Lancaster County.
- 1769 - Risser's Grist Mill, located along Risser Road, was built in 1769 or 1770.
- 1776 - Redseckers's Grist Mill, now Aberdeen Mill, located along Mill Road, was built in 1776.
- 1780 - In about 1780 distilleries were built on the farms of John Risser and Ben Longenecker.
- 1780 - The Mennonite Meetinghouse was built in 1780 (Stauffers Mennonite Church located along Bachmansville Road).
- 1785 - Dauphin County was formed on 4 March 1785 from part of Lancaster County and named in honor of Louis, the Dauphin of France.
- 1790 - In 1790 there were but five schools in Conewago Township. Most of them were German. The first school was taught by ministers of the area. In 1790 there were only five schools in the area which were mainly German.
- 1795 - In 1795 an English school was organized near what is now Shenks Church and Stephen Templeton was the teacher. He taught in a one-story log building twelve by sixteen feet - divided into three rooms, none of which could have been said to be spacious. In fact, one was a kitchen, one a bedroom and the remaining one a schoolroom. On each side a portion of a log was left out for a row of windowpanes, which never filled the opening. The pioneer teacher was never one to suffer from lack of fresh air. It is believed that as many as sixty pupils were at times crowded into this building. The next school was set up by a Mr. McMullin.
- 1799 - In 1799 Goss's mill, now Shiffer's Mill, located along Schoolhouse Road, which was both a grist and sawmill, was erected.
- 1813 - Lebanon County formed from eastern part of Dauphin County.
- 1840 - Deodate was first known as Mt. Harrison or Foltz's store. It was named Mt. Harrison during the Harrison campaign because of the Kreiter family operated a store there and christened the site during the Harrison presidential campaign of 1840. Deodate was the stopping point for drivers of horses, sheep, mules and cattle from stockyards of Middletown to the stockyard in Lawn. Some of the early families in Deodate were the Shenks, Grubbs, Brandts, Bowers, Clarks, Moyers, Hoffers and Foltzes.
- 1850 - Conewago incorporated from Derry and Londonderry Townships April 2, 1850. When it became a township, it formed a separate election district. Elections were first held in the home of Christian Foltz on the square of Deodate. Population was 762.
- 1852 - Bachmansville was named for the Bachmans who erected the first building of any importance. This was the Hotel built in 1852. In Bachmansville the early families were the Ebys, Bachmans, Harps, Yetters, Balmers, Longeneckers, Boosers, Glendeatners, Zimmermans, and Stauffers. Bachmansville also played an important role as people would travel through its small village toward the stockyards in Lawn. In Bachmansville they would stop at the Hotel.
- 1854 - The German Baptist Brethren Church (Conewago Church of the Brethren located along Schoolhouse Road), was built in 1854. The original Brethren Church was located near Deodate.
- 1869 - The Union Meetinghouse (Shenks Union Church located along Schoolhouse Road), was built in 1869.
- 1870 - In 1870 the township had a population of 831 residents of which 826 were native born and five were foreigners.
- 1872 - The Bachmansville post office was established in 1872.
- 1880 - From 1880 on, schools were held at some of the private houses. The names of Abraham Snyder and others, together with those of Reverend Speck, Samuel Hoffer, Joseph Clark and the Techtmeyers, of a later period, appear as teachers in Conewago Township. The Mennonite meetinghouse was used for school purposes to the time when free schools came into general use.
- 1886 - The post office in Deodate was established in 1886. The residents of Deodate and surrounding areas came to Foltz's store to pick up their mail once a week. The post office was given the name Deodate because its original name, Mt. Harrison, was too close to an already established town in the state.
- 1900 - The population of Conewago Township in 1900 stood at 830 persons.
- 1904 - The assessed valuation of all taxable real estate within the township was $548,480 in 1904.
- 1905 - In 1905 there were six schoolhouses with an enrollment of 184 pupils. In later years there were six one-room schoolhouses; namely, Bachmansville, Deodate, Witmer's, Mapledale, Hertzler's and Furhman's.
- 1937 - A rural carrier discontinued the Bachmansville post office in 1937 when mail delivery was from Hershey.
- 1957 - The present elementary school was built in 1957.
- 1960 - In 1960 the Lower Dauphin High School was built and all high school students were transported to Hummelstown. Before the high school was built, students went to Hershey High School. Many rode the trolley to school. A few students went to Elizabethtown High School.
- 1970s - The Township population remained relatively stable over the years. Little growth had taken place until the early 1970's when the Laurel Woods development began, followed by the Chestnut Road development and the Cedar Woods development in the 1980's.
- 1990 - The 1990 census population was 2,832.
- 2000 - The 2000 census population was 2,847.
- 1994 Conewago Township Community Information Guide
- Dauphin County website: 2his page no longer online.)
- Dauphin County Genealogy Resource Center: www.maley.net/dauphin/townshiphistory.htm
- Lower Dauphin School District website: (this page no longer online.)
Other History Resources: