Lewisberry, the Quaker town that the Lewises (who else?) built: The boroughs of York County series, No. 3
This pen and ink copy of older portraits show Major Eli and Mrs. Lewis, who directed that the village of Lewisberry in northern York County, Pa., be laid out in the late 1700s. The village became a borough, one of York County’s oldest, in 1832. Also of interest: Big Conewago serves as physical, symbolic divider of York County culture and Lewisberry project uncovers hidden American Indian mural and Jimmy Carter in Lewisberry: ‘He knelt down and prayed’.
Third in a series of occasional posts about York County’s 36 boroughs (see Felton and Yorkana)… .
Not surprisingly, the Lewis family, a Quaker family, made Lewisberry happen.
The family store was the center of the Quaker settlement in the northern tier of York County in the second half of the 1700s. The settlement was – and is – closer to Harrisburg, and like many villages and boroughs north of the Conewago Creek, it is more oriented to Harrisburg than the county seat of York… .
Background: One prominent Lewis, Major Eli Lewis, was a Lewisberry merchant and a Harrisburg newspaperman in the 1790s. His son, born in a growing village in the Redland Valley that later took on his family name was Ellis Lewis, later chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and one of the most accomplished public figures from York County’s past.
“The Life of Chief Justice Ellis Lewis,” says of Ellis Lewis’ birth in 1798, “(I)t is a fact, however, that on May 16th of this same year, there was born to him a son who inherited many of his talents and was chosen to perpetuate the name of the first American ancestor of the family and furnish the line its most distinguished career.”
Origin of its name: From the family of Eli Lewis.
Formed: April 2, 1832 (York County municipal founding dates.)
Population in 2000 – 385 (York County census numbers.)
George Prowell’s description of Lewisberry in 1907: “The Borough of Lewisberry lies in the centre of the Redland Valley, fifteen miles from York, eighteen miles from Carlisle and ten miles from Harrisburg. The valley which surrounds it is a rich agricultural region, upon which the earliest Quaker settlements were made west of the Susquehanna.”
Interesting fact about Lewisberry: The Lewisberry area was an influential northern tier community before the Northern Central Railroad came through about 1850. After that, communities along the line attracted the trade.
Second interesting fact: York County native Ellis Lewis replaced future York countian, Jeremiah Sullivan Black, as Pennsylvania Chief Justice in the 1850s.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ellis Lewis, a native of York County.
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Sources: George Prowell’s “History of York County,” “Gazetteer of York and Adams Counties,” Burton Alva Konkle, “The Life of Chief Justice Ellis Lewis.” Photos above from Konkle’s work.