History

Pequea Township was originally part of Conestoga Township, organized into a separate municipality in 1853. The Pequea Creek, from which the Township derives its name, forms the south and southwestern boundary, while the Conestoga Creek forms the northern boundary.

In the book Indians of Pennsylvania, Author Paul A.W. Wallace says, “Opessa, Chief of the band of Shawnees, came up from Maryland and settled in Pequea around the year 1697.” A township historian said that “Piqua”, meaning “straight arrow”, was the name of a clan of Native Americans and a sub-tribe of the Shawnee Nations, some of the first inhabitants of the township. They initially settled at the mouth of the Susquehanna River along the Conestoga Creek. According to their “ancient traditional history”, there were five tribal divisions and among them was one called “Pec-ku-we” (Wallace 125). Shawnee villages were commonly named after the division to which most of the members belonged. Thus, the name Pequea appeared in many forms applied to streams and towns in Eastern Pennsylvania.

In 1710, William Penn granted 10,000 acres to Swiss Mennonites that extended from the present Millwood Road to the present Jackson Street in Strasburg (Musser 1). After Lancaster became a county in 1729 the magistrates and inhabitants met to agree upon names and boundaries of townships. Pioneer settlers had begun to “stake out their claim” since the fertile soil was well suited for agricultural purposes (“History” 1). The settlers established a farming community and a religious heritage took root in the township. Boehm”s Chapel, the first Methodist Church in Lancaster County was built in 1791. It is the oldest existing structure built for Methodist Worship in Pennsylvania and the fourth oldest in the nation.

The Lancaster & Quarryville railroad brought new life and economic growth to the little village of West Willow when it officially opened May 11, 1875 (Musser 24). The village of West Willow was not officially named until a post office was established there in 1879. It became the home of small enterprises such as a tavern, hotel, merchant store, blacksmith and a cigar factory (“History” 4).

Pequea Township also contains an old Silver Mine. In the document from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, geologist Don Wise tells how at the Pequea Township Silver Mine quartz, galena and small amounts of silver were extracted. The existence of ore in the Pequea area was known in colonial times, but the bulk of the workings visible today at the Pequea Silver Mines date back to the time of the Civil War (Wise 4).

Works Cited