We are on the road, turning family history into a story we can share with our kids and grandchildren. Jeff’s ancestors on his father’s side came to America in the early 1700’s. Travelling from northern New York to Florida is the perfect opportunity to explore a few of the places they lived.
Our first stop is Lancaster Pennsylvania. Several ancestors arrived in America through Philadelphia. Lancaster County was a popular place for the new settlers to travel to or through. We counted at least 12 5th and 6th great grandparents that lived in this area before 1776, and more would have traveled through heading towards Virginia.
Jeff’s 5th Great Grandfather Melchor Engle arrived in America in 1740 with his mother. They traveled to Lancaster County soon after arriving. His mother married John Beyerle who was a widower from Germany. John was a yeoman (farmer who owned his own land) who arrived in America in 1730 and Melchor was a saddler, working in leather. Melchor married John’s daughter Mary making it a very tight family! In 1746 Melchor purchased 225 acres of land in Lampeter Township along the Conestoga River from John.
Jeff also had ancestors who settled in New Holland, Bern, Berks County, York County, and Montgomery county Pennsylvania. With only 2 full days to explore Lancaster we left exploring those areas for another trip.
Lancaster County Central Park
One of the jewels of Lancaster is their County Central Park. Covering 554 acres near downtown Lancaster, it has a golf course, swimming facility, tennis courts, equestrian and hiking trails just to name a few.
Of interest to us is an area that has native vegetation and tilled fields that would have been very similar to John and Melchor’s property being just across the Conestoga River. Christine, Jeff and the dogs walked along Mill Creek through the woods and fields enjoying the late fall colors of Pennsylvania. Mill Creek flows into the Conestoga.
Lancaster Central Market
We also visited downtown Lancaster, stopping at the Central Market. It is the oldest municipal market in the United States on property deeded for that purpose in 1730. The indoor market is full of stalls from local farms including vegetables, fruits, meats and crafts from local Amish and Mennonite farms.
Also in downtown Lancaster is Trinity Lutheran Church where all of Melchor Engle’s 6 sons were baptized. George is the youngest born in 1750. George is Jeff’s 4th Great Grandfather. The congregation was formed in 1730 and the current church finished in 1766. We stopped by and took pictures then spoke with the administrator about getting copies of old records.
We stayed at Mill Bridge Camp resort, just a few miles outside of Lancaster surrounded by Amish and Mennonite farms. Often the clip-clap of horse-drawn carriages filtered through the trees at the campground. It was an excellent campground – good facilities, friendly staff and great location.
On site, is an old grist mill dating from 1738. The area was originally settled by Mennonites in 1710. Lancaster County has one of the largest Amish – Mennonite (Plain People) populations in the United States.
Today, Lancaster is a vibrant town of just under 60,000 people.
Happy Trails from the Trippin’ Engles