Lancaster (Pennsylvania, USA)

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Lancaster, Pennsylvania, (2000 pop. 56,348), the "Hickory Town" laid out in 1730, was the first inland town of William Penn's backwoods, almost 70 miles (115 km) west of his Philadelphia settlement of 1681. James Hamilton, whose family named Hamilton, Ontario, had earlier circumscribed a hickory tree at George Gibson's Tavern, a frequent native rendezvous. This tavern was near a fine spring, and was the only house in Lancaster. The log courthouse was built on the square in 1730. The town soon became a shopping center for a strong Mennonite community. By 1752 the population was 311. It was the seat of the Continental Congress of the Thirteen Colonies, meeting from 1 October 1777, for nine months. It was the state capital 1799 to 1812, when Harrisburg permanently claimed this honor. It was the home of President James Buchanan.

The Mennonite community in this agricultural Eden and this rapidly growing inland metropolis in the heart of Lancaster County were mutually benefitted. One Mennonite (Mennonite Church) church, the Chestnut Street church, built in 1879, spread so that by the 1950s there were eight missions in and on the borders of this city. In addition there was one Reformed Mennonite, one General Conference Mennonite, and one Mennonite Brethren in Christ church here. The total Mennonite membership in the city in 1956 was about 600.

Lancaster city is the head and trading center of the largest compact Mennonite and Amish community in North America, and probably of the world.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. II, 606.


Map:Lancaster (Pennsylvania)

Author(s) Ira D Landis
Date Published 1958

Cite This Article

MLA style

Landis, Ira D. "Lancaster (Pennsylvania, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1958. Web. 23 Jul 2024.,_USA)&oldid=170289.

APA style

Landis, Ira D. (1958). Lancaster (Pennsylvania, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 23 July 2024, from,_USA)&oldid=170289.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p. 271. All rights reserved.

©1996-2024 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.