History of Leacock Township

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The boundaries of seventeen townships were assigned to Lancaster County in 1729. Leacock Township, spelled Laycock at that time, included what is now Upper Leacock until June of 1843, when Upper Leacock Township was taken off and legally organized as a separate township. The area of Leacock Township included eleven thousand two hundred and seventy two (11,272) acres of good productive limestone land. In the most recent census the population was 5,023 residents.

Settlers started coming to the Leacock Township area in approximately 1700. Some early settlers were Irish, German, and Swiss. They brought many different religions with them that included Lutheran, German Reform, Mennonite, Amish, German Baptist, and Quaker. Of all the early settlers, the Germans and Swiss seemed to adapt best to farming the area. As the population increased many of the large farms were divided into smaller farms and building lots.

While agriculture has always been the chief industry of the Township, there has been a large number of cottage industries developed on the farms. In the early 1960's tourism started to grow and today has become a very large part of the Township Economy.

There are two important villages in the Township, Intercourse and Gordonville. The former was called Cross Keys from 1754 until 1814 when it was renamed Intercourse. There are many theories as to why Intercourse was renamed, one being that it seemed a good name for a growing community which had much commercial and social intercourse. No one has ever been able to document why this name change took place. In about 1952, the community began to hold public meetings in preparation of the two hundredth anniversary of the village. At that time, the subject of the name was addressed and the residents voted to keep the name of Intercourse.

The first building in Cross Keys was the Cross Keys Tavern, built in 1754. Leacock Township had many of these taverns because the old Provincial Highway brought travelers from Philadelphia on their way west. The Hat Tavern was located about two miles east of Cross Keys and the Willington Tavern was a mile west. In 1813 an enterprising young man by the name of George Brungard purchased about forty-eight acres of land in the vicinity of Cross Keys Tavern. His intention was to sell building lots by means of a lottery drawing. He laid out 151 lots for two hundred fifty dollars each to be drawn for by number. This drawing took place November 14, 1814, in Lancaster. Even though the lottery was not a success, houses were eventually built in this area and the town grew.

The village of Gordonville's name is much easier to trace. The first house erected in Gordonville and was built by Daniel Gordon about 1832 on the west side of the railroad. In 1836, he built a store and a machine shop on the same property. In 1871, Amos Hershey and his brother carried on the store and warehouse business, besides dealing in lumber and coal. This store continued well into the Twentieth Century. About 1840, a store was erected on the east side of the railroad which was called Concord, but eventually that name was dropped and the entire community was called Gordonville. Gordonville was a regular station on the Pennsylvania Railroad, which has brought many people and businesses into the community. In 1883 the estimated number of residents of Gordonville was 220.

The information in this article came from the History of Lancaster County by Franklin Ellis and Samuel Evans. You can find this book in your local library.