History of Lititz

Excerpted from A Brief History of Lititz Pennsylvania, Mary Augusta Huebner, 1947

A Brief History of Lititz


The history of Lititz, which for many years was coincident with that of the Moravian Congregation, begins in 1742, with a visit of Count Nicholas Louis von Zinzendorf, patron of the renewed Aloravian Church, to the house of Jacob Huber, about a mile north of the present Borough, where the Count delivered an address on the evening of December 2, to some of the neighboring farmers. The Huber house is still standing, and has been marked by the Lancaster County Historical Society, with a tablet commemorating the momentous visit.

John George Klein, Huber's nearest neighbor, failed to attend the meeting on account of a prejudice which he held against Zinzendorf; but his conscience kept him awake all night because of his conduct, for it was a time of religious awakening among the Pennsylvania Germans, brought about, largely, by the preaching of itinerant ministers from the Moravian settlement of Bethlehem, who for several years had been holding services in the vicinity. The next day Klein followed Zinzendorf to Lancaster, heard him preach in the courthouse, and was deeply moved-so deeply, that the whole course of his life was changed.

As a result of Zinzendorf's visit, a resident Moravian minister was sent to Warwick Township, where he carried on pastoral work with much success, also conducting work among the Reformed at Muddy Creek who were without the benefit of pastoral care from their own denomination.

The St. James Church

In 1744, Klein gave permission for the erection on his land of the St. James Church, a log building which stood a short distance west of the road to Lancaster, on a plot now known as "The Old Graveyard" (At the corner of Pine Alley and the western extension of Center St.-between Broad and Spruce Sts.). Here services were held monthly bv the Rev. Lawrence Nyberg, Pastor of the Lutheran Church at Lancaster. He had rather independent views which his congregation did not share, and they finally suspended him in 1746, after which he preached in the St. James Church regularly every Sunday, opening his pulpit also to itinerant Moravian ministers who happened to be in the vicinity. He eventually joined the Moravians.

Warwick Moravian Country Congregation

In September of that vear, 1746, @ meeting was held at George Klein's house to consider building -a "Gemeinhaus" - a combination school and meeting house (as distinguished from the church)-and Klein donated three and three-quarters acres of land for this purpose in the eastern part of the present town. (1) Ground was broken at once, and two years later the building was completed, and a school consisting of four boys and three girls opened bv the Rev. Leonard Schnell. Schnell was soon given an assistant, for he also had charge of preaching and visiting at Muddy Creek, Heidelberg, Lancaster, Tulpehocken, Quittepehille, Donegal, and "beyond the Susquehanna." On February 9, 1749, the "Warwick Country Congregation" of the Unitas Fratrum, or Moravian Church, was organized, with eleven members; the number being increased to thirty-five by the end of the vear.(2) These lived on farms and consequently were widely scattered.

Founding of Lititz

It was Zinzendorf's ambition to organize a Church Settlement, which should be under strict spiritual supervision, where members of the Moravian Church might reside who desired to live and bring up their children in a religious atmosphere, free from worldly influences. Several locations were under Consideration, but when George Klein offered his entire farm of 491 acres for this purpose, his offer was accepted and the village was located in Warwick Township.

The formal transfer of the property was made in 1755 (3) and the next year, 1756, the town received its name, "Lititz," (4) in commemoration of "Lititz" in Bohemia, where, three hundred years earlier, in 1456, the followers of John Hus had found refuge, and where, within the next twelve months, they founded the Moravian Church, the oldest of the Protestant denominations.

Early Buildings

On February 9, 1757, the new town of Lititz was surveyed and laid out into lots. The main street, which does not run due east and west, took its direction from a stone house which Klein had built shortly before he turned over his farm to the church. This was the first house in Lititz. It was in this building that the first settlers of Zinzendorf's Congregation village-three families from Donegal and four from Bethel-found refuge when they fled here to escape Indian raids. A portion of the wall of this first house was left standing when the building was removed in 1866, and now forms part of the rear wall of the present three-story brick building which stands on its site at 125-129 East Main St.

From time to time other families from Bethlehem, Nazareth, Muddy Creek and elsewhere, took up residence in Lititz, and some moved irto the town from the surrounding country. The first private dwelling was built in 1757, next door to Klein's stone house. It is still standing (at 121 East Main Street), as are four others that were built within the next five years.

The first congregation houses built after the settlement was established, were the "Sisters' House," now the Linden Hall .junior College building, and the "Brethren's House," now the old part of the Moravian Sundav School building. These were erected to house the unmarried of both sexes, where they could have special religious supervision and be taught trades of various kinds. Residence in the buildings was not compulsory; the young people took no vows of any kind, and were free to leave whenever they wished.

In 1759 the Warwick and Lititz Moravian Congregations were united, and a few years later a new Gemeinhaus, the present parsonage was built. (The old St.James Church had fallen into disrepair and was no longer used. It was taken down in 1771). Services were held in the new gemeinhaus until the church was erected in 1787. This church is the same structure in which the congregation worships today, but it was remodeled in 1857, when the vestibule and pulpit recess were added and the whole interior renovated.

Government of the Congregation Village

The congregation was divided into "choirs" as it is today - children, unmarried women, unmarried men, married couples, and in those days also widows and widowers. This arrangement was for the purpose of religious supervision, but families lived in their own private homes, and not in community houses as in Bethlehem.

The secular affairs of the settlement were in the hands of a committee of overseers, later called the "Aufseher Collegium," which administered the very detailed rules adopted by the congregation for the conduct of the everyday business and home life of its members. No one was allowed to build a house, change his occupation, or even have a guest over nioht, without first getting permission from the "Collegium." Residents were expected to purchase nothing outside of Lititz which could be secured here, and strict rules were made to prevent profiteering, in the absence of competition. These rules had to be signed and obeyed by every member.

End of the "Lease System" - Other Churches

For a long time none but Moravians were permitted to live in the town, and even tip to the middle of the last century, only members of the congregation could own their houses. The land was all owned by the Church, and lots were leased to house-owners. "This lease-system" was in operation till 1855. After it was abolished the lots were sold to the occupants for $50 each. Then the town was opened to non-Moravians; and, although it lost much of its early quaintness, it developed along many lines, until it became the thriving Borough we know today.

Within twenty years a second church, the Evangelical, was established in the town; ten years later the Lutheran Congregation came into being, followed in quick succession by the Brethren and the United Brethren. Since the turn of the century, the Mennonite, the Reformed, and the Catholic congregations have been added. All these churches are carrying on religious work in Lititz today, and the spirit of co-operation among them is strong. Within recent years the Gospel Tabernacle has been conducting services in the Borough.


It was out of the Sisters' House that Linden Hall, the famous girls' school, grew; and its beginning really dates bick to the Rev. Schnell's little school in the old Gemeinhaus. That was carried on till 1765, when it was divided, the girls being taught in the Sisters' House, and the boys continuing for a time in the original building, which, being built of logs, was then taken down and rebuilt in the town, on a lot nearlv opposite the Sisters' House. In 1766 several Moravian girls from Lancaster were admitted into the girls' school, and in 1794 little eight-year-old Peggy Marvel, from Baltimore, the first non-Moravian pupil, was entered. After this the school grew rapidly and pupils from all over the country, and be- yond, have been enrolled. An additional house for the school, now the main building, was erected in 1769, and later en-larged. The Mary Dixon Memorial Chapel was presented to the school in 1885, by George W. Dixon, the father of one of the students. The Post-Graduate Department, begun in 1880, was expanded into a junior College in 1935. Today the school occupies four large buildings, and has a spacious, beautifully landscaped campus. It celebrated its bicentennial in 1940.

In 1815 John Beck took charge of the boys' school, which in the mean time had been moved into an abandoned blacksmith shop that stood on the site of the Moravian Home, on Church Ave. Under his marvelous teaching it soon outgrew the building, which ivas replaced by more commodious quarters. The new building, in turn, became inadequate so that the Brethren's House, which had ceased to serve its original purpose, was also occupied by the school. During the fifty years that John Beck was in charge, more than 2,000 boys were educated here, coming from most of the States of the Union, some of the principal countries of Europe, the West Indies, and even from Hindostan; and going forth to fill positions of trust and importance in the business and professional world. After Mr. Beck retired in 1865, the Academy was continued for about twenty years by several of his teachers.

A boys' "Family School," conducted for thirty years by Abraham R. Beck, a son of the famous educator, also attained marked success and wide reputation, for he inherited his father's exceptional genius in handling boys and his unusual teaching ability. The school was discontinued in 1895.

The Public School system was introduced into Lititz in 1852; but, because of the excellent girls' and boys' schools already established here, only a primarv school was carried on until 1866, the tuition of the older pupils being paid in these private schools by the District. An additional build- ing for the Iligh School was built in 1870, and both this and the original school building were enlarged from time to time. They were replaced by the present building in 1918. A commodious addition to this consolidated school was erected in 1940, to provide space for a combined public and school library, a more adequate gymnasium, and a number of additional class rooms.

Military Hospital

During the Revolutionary War the Brethren's House was commandeered by General Washington, for a military hospital, and from December 19, 1777, to August 28, 1778, was used for that purpose. The Brethren had to vacate and find quarters elsewhere, and during the eight months' period, a total of between five hundred and a thousand sick and wounded soldiers were cared for in its walls. The building was frequently so crowded that all the rooms and even the halls were filled with the sick. At one time the two military doctors (5) in charge were ill, and were attended by the Lititz physician, Dr. Adolp Meyer. It is hard to imagine the misery at the hospital, due to over-crowded conditions, lack of proper nursing and medical attention. One hundred and ten of the soldiers died and were buried on a plot to the cast of the village, which is now designated by a stone marker, erected by the United States government in 1930. Many of the deaths were due to "camp fever," which, in spite of precautions, spread to the village, claiming six deaths among the townspeople, in addition to a number of cases which did not prove fatal.

At one time it was rumored that the whole town was to be evacuated and used as a General Hospital; but it was not found necessary to take this drastic action.

The Town of Warwick

The Northwestern section of the present borough of Lititz, including the land north of Front Street and west of North Cedar Street, was not a part of the original Moravian Settlement, but was known as Warwick. It was built on a part of what had been Jacob Huber's farm, by people who were not Moravians, and, therefore, could not live in Lititz; but who wanted to share, and have their children share, some of the benefits of the settlement.

According to an old story,(6) Nicholas Stroh, a son-in-law of Huber's, operated a "public house" on this land during the Revolutionary War. Being a Tory, his inn became a rendezvous for the Tories of the neighborhood, who held secret meetings in his barn. Stroh's wife, however, was a staunch patriot; and, questioning the purpose of the meetings, hid herself in a hay mow while one of them was in progress, and learned of a treasonable plot the men were concocting. The next day, she fearlessly confronted her husband and the others in the barroom, and threatened, if the plot were carried (6) out, to tell her father, Jacob Huber, who would have them arrested and hung for treason. The threat had its effect, and the Tory meetings were broken up.

Some time. after Stroh's death, his estate was bought from the administrators by a syndicate consisting of Charles Monteluis, a Mr. Hibshman and others, who divided up the land into 153 town lots, for which certificates were sold, and a drawing was made at a lottery on August 21, 1813. The town was laid out in a rather grandiose style, with a square on Market Street, where a market house was to be erected as soon as the population warranted it. This plan was never carried out.

In 1836, when many of the lots in Warwick had been purchased, and the town consisted of eighteen houses, the entire tract of more than 66 acres was seized bv the Sheriff of Lancaster County and sold for the sum of $6,000 to Frederick Zitzman, to satisfy a claim on the Stroh estate. Zitzman, afterwards resold the land to David Bricker,(7) the later acting for the property owners who had originally bought their lots from the syndicate.

Lititz Incorporated

Lititz was incorporated as a borough April 24, 1888, and on January 25, 1915, the borough limits were extended to take in Warwick, which bv that time had expanded to the east and included not only the original town of Warwick, but the section of land cast of North Cedar Street and north of Front Street, known as the "Leaman Addition." This section was originally a part of the George Klein farm, which had been sold by the AIoravian Congregation.

At the same time, 1915, outlying, residential sections to the south and east were incorporated into the Borough, including the "Broad Street Addition to the Borough of Lititz," and other tracts which have since been developed.

Fire Protection

An interesting chapter in the history of Lititz is its efforts at fire protection, which have culminated in the present efficient organization of approximately five hundred members known as Lititz Fire Company No. I.

In the early "Settlement" Days the minutes of the "Aufseher Collegium" have many references to measures aimed at preventing fires. They wisely decreed that the pottery should be built on the south side of the street, so that the prevailing northwest wind would blow the sparks from the oven away from the houses. Detailed rules were made in regard to the building of houses and shops, the placing of bake-ovens and fire-places, the sweeping and burning out of chimneys. Fire was not to be carried from one house to another except "in well-protected iron or cartherii pots" or, better still, "every family should have its own tinder box." The smoking, of cigars on the street was not to be tolerated. Fire inspectors were appointed to see that these regulations were carried out and were instructed, among other things, to "warn people of the danger there is in cats lying near the fire-places, as they likely to do.

As early as 1790 subscriptions were solicited to purchase a fire engine. It was bought in Germany, and shipped "by the grace of God" (as the bill of lading read) to New York, and thence, through Philadelphia, to Lititz in 1793. It was named the "Assistance." A fire company by that name was organized in 1838 right after a disastrous fire had occurred, which destroyed several buildings and threatened the whole village. Another engine, the "Friendship," was then purchased. Both these engines were pumped bv hand, and fed by a line of buckets passed from one person to another. In 1855 the "Friendship" Fire Company, employing both engines, replaced the earlier one.

The present fire company, itself, has a history of more than fifty years behind it. Organized in 1894, it was, from the beginning, a great improvement over the earlier ones. With its hose-carts (hand-drawn), and thousand feet of three-inch hose, it was able to throw water over the tallest buildings in the borough from the street hvdrants fed by a one-hundred-foot stand-pipe, which the new Water Company, organized the previous year, had installed. Lititz Fire Company No. I has kept abreast of the times by continuous improvement of equipment and methods, so that with its modern motor-propelled and operated engines, and its quick response to calls, it has prevented any major blaze in many years.

The old engines, the "Assistance" and "Friendship," are still in existence. They are the property of the Moravian Congregation, and are on display in the handsome new building at the corner of Broad and West Main Streets, ivhich is the home office of the Lititz Mutual Insurance Company.

Early Customs

Along with the quaint dress which the early settlers brought with them from the old country (for the Moravians are of German descent), they introduced many beautiful customs. The distinctive garb has long since disappeared, but the more significant of the custoims have survived, and even grown in popularity, to the present day. Among these might be mentioned the lovefeasts, the "choir" festival days, the Easter dawn service, and the Christmas Eve service.

The earliest mention of the Easter dawn service in the Moravian Church records is in 1'159, when the congregation gathered around the first grave, that of a six-weeks-old baby, at whose burial, the fall before, the "God's Acre" to the south of the present church had been consecrated. Then, for the first time, a double service was held, first on the St.James graveyard, which had been the congregation btivial place up to that time, ind then on the present graveyard. Every year since then, the resurrection of our Lord, and the hope of His followers in a future life, have been commemorated in this manner. Today, as of old, the inhabitants are awakened in the wee, small hours of the morning, by beautiful Moravian chorales, as the trombonists threacl their way through the quiet streets, announcing the service in this unique manner. Later, after a short liturgy in the Church, they lead the throngs that have assembled, up the driveway to the graveyard, as they play antipbonally their triumphant hymns of faith. There, in the presence of the Chruch Triumphant, the service is concluded just as the sun appears above the horizon.

The Moravian Christmas Eve services date back to the year the town was established, 1756, when, the Church records tell us, a lovefeast was held on that day. The first children's Christmas Eve service took place in 1759; and in 1765, for the first time, lighted candies were given to the children. Today, although three crowded services are held, and everyone present receives a candle, the joy shining in the faces of the modern children is no greater than that exhibited by the little ones whose faces were illumined by those first tapers, almost two hundred years ago.

Other customs have come down from the past: at Christmas time, the baking of Christmas cookies, making Christmas "putz's" (a "yard" under the Christmas tree) (8) etc.; but the most familiar of all the old customs to everyone in Lititz is the ringing of the "half-past-eleven bell" from the Moravian Church steeple each week-day. Here, as in Bethlehem and other Moravian Settlements, this custom was begun in the early days when time-pieces were few, to call the workers in from the fields for dinner. An entry in the "Aufseher Collegium" minutes of February 20, 1788, is interesting: "Is not the noon hour bell usually rung in other congregations at 11:45? But we found it good to leave it as it is." Elsewhere the ringing of the bell has been discontinued, but in Lititz the Moravian Official Boards, recognizing the time-honored custom, have continued to "leave it as it is"; so that for nearly a century and three-quarters the voice of the past has spoken each day at 11:30, the time of the original dinner hour.


From the earliest days, Lititz was an industrial town. The Moravian congregation itself, as an organization, con- ducted several farms, a saw and grist mill, a general store, a tavern, a potash factory, and an apothecary's shop - the first one in Lancaster County, opened in 1760, by Dr. Frederick Otto, who came here from Bethlehem to serve the congregation as physician and apothecary.

The Brethren's and Sisters' Houses -were required to support themselves as separate institutions. They combined maintenance with vocational training, by running each its own farm, the Brethren's House also conducting shops in which the tradesofweaver, baker, nailsmith, chandler, hatter, carpenter, butcher, tailor and shoemaker were carried on; and the Sisters' House making needlework, embroidery, hosiery and confectionery.

Some of the trades learned in the Brethren's House were later followed by individuals as a means of livelihood, and other private enterprise was permitted in the town. Among the pioneers in rather unusual lines might be mentioned David Tannenberg, the organ builder; Matthias Tschudy, the chip-hat and bonnet maker (the only one in America) ; William Rauch, the pretzel baker; Jacob Geitner, the tanner; and John Henry Rauch, blacksmith and spurrier, who also made the first screw augers. He manufactured these for Judge William Henry, of Lancaster, the inventor, who introduced the invention into England and brought it into general use. The organs and chip-hats made in Lititz attained nationwide farne, and were shipped great distances; and the town is still famous for its pretzels.

Today Lititz is said to be one of the greatest manufacturing centers in proportion to its population, in the United States. Its products are as varied, and some of them as unique, as in the early days. It is the home of the main office and main plant of the Animal Trap Company of America, the largest trap factory in the world; whose products are shipped to the four corners of tl-ie earth. The Wilbur-Suchard Chocolate Company also has its main office and plant here. The Morgan Paper Company, formerly a division of the United States Envelope Company, but now an independent corporation, has its home in Lititz. One of the "Standard Brands" plants, making the famous "V-8"; several knitting and underwear mills, shoe factories, garment factories and furniture factories; besides many smaller industrial establishments; are locateed here. These all keep up the town's early reputation for diversification of products,and helped to cushion the hard- ships of the recent lean years, which hit with particular force communities built around any one line of industry.

"Zurn Anker" Inn

Strange to say, the only one of the early Congregational enterprises still doing business, and at the orloinal site, is the tavern. A frame building was erected for this purpose in 1764; and a two-story brick addition, which is part of the present hotel building, was added in 1804. It bore the name "Zum Anker" (Anchor Inn), which was displayed, with the picture of an anchor, as its sign, before the door. The hotel was administered for the Congregation by a succession of landlords until 1854, about the time the "Settlement" arrangement was discontinued, when it was purchased by Samuel Lichtenthaeler, who operated it until his death in 1867.

"Wabank House"

In 1863 Mr. Lichtenthaeler purchased the "Wabank House," a large four-story frame building which stood on the banks of the Conestoga Creek some distance southwest of Lancaster. He took it down and re-erected it in Lititz on hotel land extending along South Broad Street southward almost to Juniper Alley, where he operated it in connection with the original brick hotel. The building made a fine appearance; and, with its genial landlord, and colored waiters to serve the patrons, attracted summer boarders from near and far; making Lititz quite a resort town for years to come. Ten years later, on July 21, 1873, after it had passed into other hands, this frame structure was destroyed by fire.

General Sutter Hotel

The old brick hotel building was later enlarged to several times its original size; and in 1929 was purchased by the Community Hotel Corporation, an organization of citizens of Lititz, sponsored by the Young Men's Business League, who formed a stock company to take over the property and make it into a modern hotel. It was very much changed and beautified, both inside and out; a large dining room, sun parlor, and other additions being built; but it -,till incor- porates the original brick building of 1804. in 1930 the remodeled hotel was opened to the public - again as in the beginning, a community project.

The building is now known as the "General Sutter" Hotel, being named for General John Augustus Sutter, on whose land gold was discovered in California; for he spent his last years in Lititz, and, with his wife, is buried on the Moravian graveyard.

It is interesting to note that a most unusual dual ceremony was conducted simultaneously in Lititz, Pennsylvania, and, across the continent, in Sacramento, California, on August 12, 1939, in commemoration of the centennial of the founding of "New Helvetia," now Sacramento, by General Sutter. Among other features of the ceremony was the unveiling, by the Hon. Frank H. Buck, of California, of a plaque, presented and erected by the citizens of Sacramento, at Sutter's grave, and, in Sacramento, a tablet at the entrance to the reconstructed Sutter's Fort, a cift of the citizens of Lititz. The latter was unveiled by C. Robert Longenecker, a former res dent of Lititz.


The Lititz Springs Park is a further evidence of sustained community spirit, and a real asset to the town. Although title to the lai-id is vested in the Moravian Congregation, the park and its activities are under the management of a committee which is a cross-section of the citizenship of the borough.

The first mention of the Lititz Springs a pleasure resort is in May, 1778, during the time when the hosiptal was in operation here; when the "Aufseher Collegium" was very much exercised because "some of our musicians are in the habit of indulging, late into the night, in merry making at the Big Spring," where Tobias Hirte, one of the young musicians, had laid out a special place for that purpose. It was also frequented by some of the convalescent soldiers. However, early in the Nineteenth Century, although somewhat against the better judgment of the village fathers, the young people were given the use of an acre of ground around the Big Spring," which they then, with the consent of the authorities, fitted up as a pleasure ground; planting arbors and trees and laying out walks. The arched stone bridge was probably built at this time for, according to a Mrs. Haldeman, who was a pupil at Linden Hall between 1800 and 1802, the spring was then already "arched over."

From 1846 to 1856 the park was given over to John Beck to use as a pleasure ground for his school boys. He, with his boys, took great pains to develop it, and many of the large trees growing there today were of his planting. The sandstone fonts and coping around the head of the spring were laid in 1856 by a committee of public-spirited men of the town. The park has been further improved and beautified with the passing years, by the ever-active Springs Committee. It is a natural beauty-spot, with one of the strongest springs in Pennsylvania.

Points of particular interest in the park are the carved lion's head, the work of the artist, J. Augustus Beck, done in 1857; the log cabin built on the hill in 1927 by, and for the use of, the Boy Scouts of Lititz; and the band shell erected in 1937 by popular subscription through the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce, and dedicated to the memorv of the late Prof. Paul E. Beck, band and orchestra leader, and for many years Supervisor of Music and Art in the Lititz Public Schools.

Fourth of July Celebration

As early as 1811 Fourth of July celebrations were held on the Springs grounds; and in 1843 the candle illumination was introduced, 400 candles being used. This illumination has become more extensive each year, and now the park becomes a veritable fairyland, with thousands of candles, doubled by their twinkling reflections in the water beneath them. The One Hundredth candle illumination was com- memorated in 1942, by instituting the crowning of "The Queen of the Candles." This ceremony met with instant approval, and has since become one of the most pleasing features of the annual celebration.