30 July 2015

Those Places Thursday: Octorara

Octorara Lake is a great little fishing and picnic area in Colerain Township, Lancaster County. Today the Octoraro Reservoir falls under the authority of the Chester Water Authority. Years ago, circa 1880 and into the early 1900s, Octorara was a thriving little community.

A History of the Octoroaro Farmers Club mentions an Octorara Post Office. Originally the post office in that area was called Andrews Bridge Post Office. However it was changed in 1850 to Octorara Post Office. In 1860 Wilson Dobbins bought the store, as well as 14 acres, according to LivingPlaces.com. He managed both the store and the post office, which was housed there as so many were then, until his death in 1878. (Wikipedia photo)

Unfortunately the census records do not list Octorara as Dobbins’ post office. The 1870 census lists “May” and the 1860 census simply says “Colerain”, which is the name of the township. The US IRS Tax Assessment List for 1866 (see below) does note his address, that is his post office, as being Octorara.

The Lancaster Historical Preservation Trust identifies a four bay brick store/house along Creek Road as Wilson Dobbin’s Store, which housed the Octorara Post Office. It is also listed by the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. The building was built circa 1800-1835 and was used as the post office in the early 1880’s.

Franklin Ellis and Samuel Evans, in their History of Lancaster County, note that in 1883 the Octorara Post Office was housed in Roop’s Store. The building is part of the Andrews Bridge Historic District. The Historic District comprises less than a dozen buildings in what is essentially little more than a crossroads village.

The Octorara Post Office however had to have included a larger area. Many older residents have recalled a town – a hamlet really – where the Octorara Lake now stands. In fact, when the water is low, you can still see the outlines of a few foundations. The houses there are believed to have belonged to the quarry workers.

In 1952, according to Jim Neary of Jim Neary’s Live Bait & Tackle, the reservoir was impounded. Today it is home to many varieties of fish and birds. Visitors may rent a boat or a kayak or enjoy fishing in the lake.


Ancestry.com. A history of the Octoraro Farmers Club, 1856-1946 : prepared as a tribute to those men and women of yesterday, the charter members [database on-line]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

“Andrews Bridhe Historic District” LivingPlaces.com. Accessed 30 July 2015 http://www.livingplaces.com/PA/Lancaster_County/Colerain_Township/Andrews_Bridge_Historic_District.html

“Our Present Past” Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County, Lancaster, PA, 1985. Pp 65-66.

Dobbin’s (Wilson) Store. Philadelphia Architects and Buildings. Accessed 30 July 2015. https://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/phmc_display.cfm?KeyNo=078751


Those Places Thursday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers.
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015

1 comment:

  1. The 1870 census reference to "May" is what gave the southbound road from Strasburg its name, MAY POST OFFICE ROAD.


Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.