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Lebanon County History

Page history last edited by wikiuser0042 13 years, 4 months ago



 Table of Contents


 1. Bahney House

 2. Issac Meier Homestead

 3. Cornwall Iron Furnace

 4. Fort Indiantown Gap

  5. Kreider Hosiery Mill






The Bahney House


By Andrew Sohn





          The Washington House, later known as The Bahney House, is located at the corner of Main St. and Railroad St. in Myerstown, PA. I believe it was built in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s and used as hotel, owned and operated by Reuben Manderbach. Before Manderbach died at the age of 45, he had the third floor installed. After he died, the Washington house was sold to Jacob Bahney. Bahney bought the hotel to house his many horse-trading clients. He also added a ballroom on the forth floor to be used as a gentleman’s club and a rear wing to accommodate more people.

Business was good until 1888 when a disease swept through horse trading market leaving in its wake many dead animals. Although the disease left him hurting, it did not put him under. That came five years later in 1893 when financial problems hit due to over investment on credit. That is when Jacob Bahney decided it was time to sell all he had and move to New Jersey.

     The Bahney house was sold to a number of different entrepreneurs being used as a hotel the whole time. In its more recent years the Bahney House was also a bar and used for numerous other illegal activities with the Myerstown Police department frequently making stops. It was closed in early 2010 due to a leak that caused stairwell to collapse. The closing of the Bahney house opened up the door for The Fireplace Christian Fellowship a local church in Myerstown to negotiate an agreement to buy the hotel with plans to open it for business sometime in the next year or so.










Isaac Meier Homestead


  By Katie Mason







      The Isaac Meier Homestead is a large limestone building. It may be located along Route 501 in Myerstown, Eastern Lebanon County. Meier worked on the architecture of this house until his death in1770. The eastern part of the house remains Germanic in detail, but the western half is made of parlors, bedrooms, and a central hall, all of which exhibit an English Georgian influence inspired by Palladian architecture.  




     The Homestead was once a part of a plantation. The house was built about 1740 to 1750 by Valentine Herclerode. Isaac Meier was the son-in-law of Herclerode. Herclerode bought the property from Isaac in 1758. Myerstown was first called Tulpehockentown and was called Myerstown in 1768. (Web) The Isaac Meier Homestead was the town founder’s magnificent stone mansion and was recently restored. Isaac Meier was a prominent banker and lender, and there is still a mystery surrounding his death to this day. Isaac was shot at a local tavern. The shooter was never apprehended, even though Thomas Penn, who was a co-proprietor in Pennsylvania, offered a substantial reward.




     The Isaac Meier Homestead building is currently owned by the borough of Myerstown. The historic preservation trust of Lebanon County is leasing it from the borough of Myerstown. A committee was appointed in 1970 to oversee the restoration which is still in progress. They host tours for local schools to get to know the history of the homestead. (Web) During tours, you get see characters dressed from the 1700’s and how they lived. You go into the kitchen and see them making bread from the 1700’s. The kitchen looks like stone with a stone chimney. Sometimes they let you eat the bread they make. Also, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Myerstown has a holiday parade. After the tree lighting ceremony, the Isaac Meier Homestead has refreshments and opens up their doors to the public.




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Work Cited




“Lebanon County Tourism Promotion Agency.” Isaac Meier Homestead. Web. 4 Nov. 2010 http://www.visitlebanoncounty.com




“Vacations Made Easy.”  Isaac Meier Homestead. Web.  4 Nov. 2010 <http://www.vacationsmadeeasy.com/hersheypa/pointsofinterest/isaacmierhomesteadnearhersheypa.cfm>.




" History of Lebanon Valley." Web .  22 Nov. 2010 <http://myhometown-lebanonpa.com/history_of_lebanon_valley.htm>.




"Issac Meier Homestead." Web  30 May 2008.  22 Nov. 2010 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxzma1fegy8>.




Fort Indiantown Gap

Rhiannon Britton


In Lebanon County there is a fairly unknown jewel of the military.  Fort Indiantown Gap rests just north of Annville, Pennsylvania.  It is a National Guard Training Center, with more than 17,000 acres and 140 training areas and facilities.  Troops, law enforcement officers, and civilians alike train year round with its state of the art facilities.(web) 


Fort Indiantown Gap, or “The Gap”, was established in 1931 by the National Guard.  In the 1920’s, cavalry troops swept across the area in search of a new military reservation.  Troops found this area untouched by the dense outside population of the area. Up until the 1930’s, Fort Indiantown Gap remained a serene and aesthetic natural beauty.(Smoker, p8)


The Gap earned its name due to the Lenni Lenape Indians that inhabited the area.  Now referred to as the Delawares, their towns dappled the hills throughout Lebanon County.  These towns flourished here during the 1600’s.  Blue Mountain, part of the Appalachians, served as a boundary for the early settlers.  Today The Gap rests within a gap in the Appalachian chain, so also contributing to its name.(Smoker, p9)


Throughout history, Fort Indiantown Gap has been witness to many of our wars, playing some part in many.  The French and Indian War was merely the beginning.  The Indians offered to fight for the Quakers inhabiting the area, but their offers fell on deaf ears.  The French had threatened to kill their children and women if the Indians did not fight for them, and so many years of war between the Delawares and the town’s people ensued.  After the French and Indian War money was paid for the capture of male Indians, less for female and scalps.  Many Indians moved westward, and eventually abandoned their villages in the area.  The Indiantown Gap area lay in peace for another Century.(Smoker, p18)


In 1929, state legislature realized that there was a growing trend in the worlds military.  Plans were made and troops mobilized to find new grounds in which to establish a training area.  On the 6th of October, 1931, 200 acres of land were purchased from H.H. Nissley for $2,800 by the Department of Military Affairs.  More plots of land were purchased over the years from local farmers, eventually totaling more than 19,000 acres of land.(Pennsylvania Manual) 


Construction began in 1934 to convert the area into a training camp.  The structures were deemed unstable and unsuitable, and in 1940 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania leased the Reservation to the Federal Government.  At this time, federally funded construction began.  Billets were built, chow halls erected, storage and recreational halls finished.  By April 1941, 1,134 buildings had been completed at The Gap.  At its completion, Fort Indiantown Gap had “1,145 mobilization-type buildings, 187 operations-type buildings, and 79 permanent-type buildings.”  As well as fire stations, guest houses, chapels, service clubs, theaters, a sports arena, and Headquarters.  Not to mention the buildings for the troops, their recreation, and support.  Eventually the government also purchased a railhead for mobilizing troops.(Smoker, p49)


Fort Indiantown Gap has since served as a vital Army Training Post in 1941, a staging area for the embarkation of troops to New York during World War II, and a Prisoner of War Camp for German, Italian, and a few Japanese soldiers as well.  The Prisoner of War Camp was active from June 1944 until the spring of 1946.  There were 1,260 German and Italian prisoners interned at The Gap during this time.  In 1946, Fort Indiantown Gap became a Pennsylvania National Guard training site once again.  In 1975 the Gap became a Vietnamese and Cambodian refugee camp.  It housed over 22,000 Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees until they were processed for sponsorship in the local and national area.  Then, in 1980, once again Fort Indiantown Gap became a refugee camp to 19,000 Cuban aliens, and once again these immigrants were processed for sponsorship on the local and national level.  The refugee camp was closed later on that year, and once again it returned to a Training Center.(Smoker, pp97-103)


Since that time Fort Indiantown Gap has remained a Training Center for law enforcement officers, civilians, and military personnel.  It is known mostly for it’s aviation units, including 201st “Red Horse” Civil Engineering Squadron, 203rd Weather Flight, and the 148th Air Support Operations Squadron, to name a few.  Today The Gap remains tucked in the Appalachians, serving its purpose for training until a new order calls it to duty.(Web)


Fort Indiantown Gap is an ever-changing, integral yet little known part of our military history.  It is a jewel within Lebanon County’s hills.  Not only offering and supplying training facilities, but also remaining aware of conservation and providing recreational activities for civilians such as canoeing, paddle boating, volleyball, picnicking, hunting and fishing.  If you have not made it out there, it’s a slice of history worth saving lunch for.



Works Cited


Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs: Fort Indiantown Gap. Department of Military Affairs, 2010. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.


Major General Smoker, Frank H. Back At The Gap. Lebanon, PA: Keycomp Printing Service, 2009. Print.


"The 1943 Pennsylvania Manual." Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (1943): Print. 







Cornwall Iron Furnace


By Sheena Corl







     “To many people in the Lebanon Valley of Pennsylvania, the cornwall ore miners typify the whole range of America’s experience with industrialization.” (Oblinger 1)  The Cornwall Iron Furnace was operational from 1742-1883.  It quickly established itself as the leading producer of Iron in the area.  In the Rise of an Iron Comunity, it estimates from 1724- 1848 the Cornwall Furnace produced 210,000 tons of iron from the limestone and ore at open pit. The ore mine is now located between Miners Village and Burd Coleman. (70)


      In 1742 Peter Grubb, Ironmaster, established the Cornwall Iron Furnace. He named after his fathers home county in England. The new furnace attracted many laborers, by the promise of decent wages and a suitable homes for the workers to live in.  At first, the workers lived in log cabins. Later, once the company was financially stable, they built homes out of brownstone for their employees.  This area of row homes is now known to locals as ‘Miners Village and Goosetown.’ ( Miller 88) Many of the homes remain standing to this day, and are occupied by many Cornwall residents.  


     It was quickly realized by Peter Grubb, how abundant ore and limestone were at the open pit.  This allowed the Cornwall Furnace to be the leading producer in iron in the area.  To keep up with the high demands, laborers had to work long and strenuous hours.  The men at the pit shoveled ore and limestone into carts from sunrise to sunset.  The carts were wheeled to the furnace by mules, where it would be produced in to iron.  These workers had an annual salary averaging between $180- $250 per year.  This was their earnings before they deducted money for rent and essential supplies, such as soap and toliet paper, to fill there homes. (Oblinger 3)  As the Furnace attracted new employees and made money for the area, other business started to gather and form.  School and churches soon followed and other villages were developed, to keep up with the increasing number of people being drawn to the area.


     When Peter Grubb died in 1754, the Furnace was inherited by his two sons.  They continued their fathers work until 1798.  At this time Robert Coleman, one of Pennsylvania’s first millionaires, took over the operation of the Iron Furnace.  The Coleman family remained in control of the Furnace until its demise in 1883.  Newer furnaces using anthracite coal were introduced, making the century and a half old furnace models obsolete.  The Furnace became abandoned and remained silent until 1932.  At this time, the great grand-daughter of Robert Coleman donated the building to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. (Web)  


     Since the Commonweath inherited the Furnace it has been completely renovated.  It now serves as a museum, to honor the industry that prevailed in the Lebanon Valley.  This Industry helped to development of the areas of Cornwall Borough and Rexmont. These areas are now a beautiful and quiet place to raise a family, and also serves as a home


e to many businesses.  The open pit flooded in 1972, and to this day still remains filled with water.   “The Am

erican Society of Mechanical Engineers. Cites Cornwall Iron Furnace as the only one of America’s hundreds of 19th century charcoaled fueled blast furnace to survive fully intact.” (History Cornwall Iron Furnace)














Work Cited 




“ History Cornwall Iron Furnace.” Cornwall Iron Furnace. Web. 10 Nov. 2010 http://www.cornwallironfurnace.org




Miller, Fredrick K. “The Rise of an Iron Community.” The Lebanon County Historical Society. 12. 3B (1951: 70) Print.




Oblinger, Carl. Cornwall the People and Culture of and Industrial Camelot 1890-1980. Harrisburg, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1984.      Print




A. R. Kreider Hosiery Mill



by Kimberly Kreider




                                                                                                                                 Photo Complements of Robert A Kreider



     There is little recorded information about the Kreider Hosiery Mills. The majority of the information found was from two of the six remaining grandchildren of Andrew Raymond Kreider, the founder of the mills.  It is important to specify that it was Andrew Raymond that had the hosiery business beacuse there was another Andrew Kreider that had a shoe factory at the same time in the same area.  He is known as A. S. Kreider in the history and record books and it is important to specify that we are talking about A. R. According to the Lebanon County Historical Society A. R. and his brother Edwin “opened the mill around 1900 and opened a branch in Lebanon in 1905.” (114) Eventually the brothers business grew and according to volume four of the Industrial Directory of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania they had locations in “Jonestown and New Cumberland.” (302) As of 1930 it was noted that the Kreider Hosiery Mill “employed 212 people and maintained a high standard in its modern buildings and equipment.” (leb val 285) The accountants used a comptometer which was basically a calculator that does not use electricity or even batteries. "They were running a “green” office without even knowing it!" mused Robert, the second youngest of the remaining grandchildren or A. R.


     In its prime, the Kreider Mills “ sold to companies such as Sears, JC Penney and Macys. They had a sales representative in New York city, Mr. Bigelow, who had an office in the Empire State Building,” as remembered by Donna Kreider Miller, the middle child and only daughter of Fred Kreider. Robert included that he knew the mills were well known for their quality socks, nylon hosiery and argyle socks. They were also one of the first to produce “seamless” stockings.


     When the mills closed in 1954 the company was being run by Andrew’s four sons. "Andrew James was the president," remembers Donna who was a teenager at the time of the mills closing. "Thomas Cameron was the Vice President, Stanley B. was the treasurer and Fred S was the secretary." It was Fred, the third born, that had the unpleasant duty of telling the employees of the mill’s closing. Fred went to the houses of every employee to tell them that the mill had to close down after 54 years of business because they "could no longer compete with the lower wages, lower energy costs, lower taxes and lower freight costs of the southern companies". (R Kreider Interview)




                                                                     Photo of the building on White Oak St. Annville

                                                                                             Compements of Robert A Kreider





    In the mid 50's the main Annville property was sold to Lebanon Valley College for $100,000. All four brothers, and their father each donated $5,000 to the college as well. The brick and stone building is now used as luxury apartments for the college students. (R Kreider Interview)






Works Cited


Gottschall, M. Hoke et al. Industrial Directory of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Vol 4.


     J.L.I Kuhn Printer to the Commonwealth. 1922. Web.


Kreider, Robert. Personal Interview. 9 Nov. 2010.


Kreider Miller, Donna. Personal Interview. 9 Nov. 2010.


Richter, Fredric et al. A Pictorial History Of Annville. Annville: Donald Byler Offset.

     1983. Print.


Shenk, Dr. Hiram H. History of the Lebanon Valley Volume 1. Harrisburg: The National

     Historical Association Inc. 1930. Print.

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