04 August 2011

Those Places Thursday: Sadsbury Township, Lancaster County, PA

Sadsbury Township is one of the earliest municipalities in Lancaster County. It is the rural municipality my parents moved us to when I was seven.

As early as 1744, another municipality – Bart Township – was formed from Sadsbury. The first industries included grist mills and iron forges. Later, many cottage industries popped up.

The Quakers were among the first settlers. In 1724 Andrew Moore and Samuel Miller petitioned for the establishment of a meeting house. Approved, the Sadsbury Friends built a meeting house the next year and in 1737 the Sadsbury Monthly Meeting was formed. The Quakers were – and still are – a peaceful non-combative people, believing in equality and fairness. To this end, it is no surprise then that Sadsbury Township was a known stop on the Underground Railroad in the years before the Civil War.

One such stop was the Coates House, located on the west side of Newport Avenue
. The house dates back to the late 1700s. A simple farmhouse, it belonged to the Coates family – a good Quaker family. Local tradition includes the house as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad brought many slaves through the area. On September 11, 1851, slaves from just below the Mason Dixon crossed up into Sadsbury and took refuge at the home of William Parker on Lower Valley Road.  Slaves belonging to Edward Gorsuch of Maryland had escaped and were at Parker’s. Despite rumors that slave-hunters were en route with warrants for them, the four remained. Gorsuch, his men and a US Marshall arrived and words were exchanged. Simply stated, fear and tempers exploded. A horn was sounded for locals to help; shots were fired. In the end, over 30 citizens were charged with treason and Gorsuch lie dead. For more information on what has come to be known as the Christiana Riot
click here
.

Many of the older building are still standing – including some of the older bridges too. Mercer’s Ford covered bridge, for example, was built in 1880. This bridge still remains standing intact at Creek Road
spanning the Octorara Creek. In 1980, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Devore House, along Creek Road, also now stands in ruins. This 2 ½ story farmhouse dates back to 1743.

Some admittedly are in ruins. The forge ruins along Creek Road, for example, date back to the late 1700s. The manufacturing of iron was an important industry to the area from the time of the Revolutionary War to about the mid 1800s. These particular ruins stand north of Brick Mill Road.

Sadsbury Township is west of Chester County. It surrounds Christiana Borough. It encompasses only 19.7 square miles now.

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