Chapter 4 - Place names
Back Up Next



Dauphin county was formed of part of Lancaster, part of Berks, comprised all of the present Lebanon county from 175 to 1813. It was named after the oldest son of Louis XVI., whose official title was "The Dauphin." Its official population 1890, 96,977.

Harrisburg, from the owner of the site of the town, the second John Harris. For several years after 1785 the name in all official documents is "Louisburg," in honor of the King of France. The French Revolution came to aid public opinion and its proper name was restored. It was incorporated as a borough in 1791, and as a city in 1860. Its population in 1890, 39,385; 1896, nearly 55,000. It has been the seat of government of Pennsylvania since 1812, and the seat of justice since the formation of the county.

Paxtang was one of the original townships, formed August 17, 1729. The name is derived from the Indian stream passing through it. The township covered part of the present county of Lebanon as far as Raccoon creek. Derry also trespassed on its adjoining neighbor, Lebanon township, but was limited in 1813 to the present Derry, Londonderry, and Conewago. In the ancient surveys it appears to have comprised a greater area, as far east as the Quitopahilla creek, now in Lebanon county.

Derry – One of the original townships formed August 17, 1729, from the town of that name, in the Province of Ulster, Ireland. Population, 2,288. It has several post-offices, Swatara, Vain, Waltonville, and Derry Church, the latter in the neighborhood of the most ancient church in Dauphin county.

Hanover – The three townships of this name preserve the memory of the house of Hanover, in the days when those who named them were loyal subjects of the English kings of that insignificant German Electorate. The original Hanover was formed in 1737. Then as follows:

East Hanover was formed in 1785 – population, 1890, 1,428.

West Hanover formed 1785 – population, 1890, 1,013.

South Hanover formed 1842 – population, 1890, 1,062.

Union Deposit, in South Hanover, was originally Unionville or Uniontown. Its proprietors, Isaac Hershey and Philip Wolfersberger, when they laid it out in 1845, were at a loss for a name. The post-office department stepped in, deciding that it should be "union Deposit P.O."

Hoernerstown, from the family of that name in South Hanover.

Manadaville, from Manada creek, where it joins the Swatara in South Hanover.

Sandbeach is a post-office in South Hanover.

Grantville, from U.S. president of the United States. It is in East Hanover.

Earleysville, formerly Schell’s "West Hanover post-office." Although the village is in East Hanover township.

Manada Hill, in West Hanover, from Manada creek. It is a post-office.

Hummelstown – Laid out by Frederick Hummel in 1762. He called its "Frederickstown." but the present name soon superseded that. In was incorporated in 1874. The population is 1,486.

Londonderry township, from the county of that name in the north of Ireland; formed in February, 1768, originally bounded on the west by Derry and south by Conewago creek. This was changed in 1826, when its present boundaries were fixed.

Geinburg in this township, from a German family who came to Londonderry about 1762, and whose family burial ground is north of Middletown and Lancaster turnpike. The site of the graveyard is in cultivation of crops by the present owners; some tombstones are yet scattered over its site.

Port Royal, in the same township, near the confluence of the Susquehanna river and the Swatara creek, was laid out in the expectation of becoming a considerable town. Hence the high-sounding name.

Conewago township, formed April 2, 1850, from Londonderry, and named from the creek which divides Dauphin from Lancaster. Population, 872.

Bachmanville, named after a family of that name, is the site of a post-office.

Deodate is also a post-office in this township.

Swatara township, named from the creek on its southern border in 1799, when it was formed. In 1840, upon the formation of Lower Swatara, its boundaries were fixed as they are now. Its total population if 1890 was 3,329, including Oberlin, formerly Churchville, and Highland, now Enhaute post-office.

Steelton, from the great iron establishment there. It was incorporated in 1878 and had a population of 9,250 in 1890; now, 1896, well nigh 14,000 including Ewington.

Lower Swatara was from in 1840 from Swatara proper. Middletown was a borough long before its formation. Population of the township, not including Highspire, in 1890, was 793.

Highspire – One tradition goes that his striking name was given by Dautermann or Barnes, who laid out the lots in 1813, from Spires in Germany, the birthplace of Dautermann. A borough with a population in 1890 of 971, now 1896, claiming nearly 1,500.

Middletown received its name on account of its being nearly equi-distant from Lancaster and Carlisle, the great interior towns of the Province, when John Fisher began to survey lots in 1759. In 1761 he had sold thirty lots to actual settlers. This is the oldest town and second in population in the county; was formed into a borough in 1828. Its population, 1890, 5,080.

The Paxtang of 1729 has now dwindled to Lower Paxtang, which it became in 1767, when Upper Paxtang was formed. Population, including Linglestown, 1,517.

Linglestown was "St. Thomas post-office" for a number of years. The land upon which it was built was owned by Thomas Lingle, who set off a village plot as early as 1765.

Susquehanna, a township named for the river, its western boundary. It was formed January 30, 1815. The population was in 1890, 3,653, reduced in 1896 by extending the northern boundaries on the city of Harrisburg.

Rockville, "Fort Hunter post-office," is a village of perhaps 300 persons. It was laid out in 1838.

Estherton (Coxestown), form one of the wives of Col. Cornelius Cox, owner of the land. It was laid out about 1765, and prior to the Revolution was a more important place than it has been since.

Progress, upon the supposition that it was to be a progressive town, in a very rural locality. It is a post-office.

Upper Paxtang township was formed in 1765 and covered all of the county above, north of the Kittatinny mountain. It is now of moderate area, with a population of 1,494 in 1890.

Killinger, a post-office named after Hon. John W. Killinger, is in the township. Paxton is also another post-office named after an English family of that name in Bucks county.

Millersburg, in Upper Paxtang, laid out by Daniel Miller in 1807 and called for him. It is a borough with a population of 1,527.

Halifax township, formed in 1803, and named for the old Provincial form of 1756 of that name. Its population is 1,208.

Matamoras, from the Mexican town of that name on the Rio Grande. When the town was laid out, General Taylor and Matamoras occupied the attention of the whole county. Hence the name.

Powell’s Valley is a post-office in Halifax township.

Halifax borough contains a population of 515. It was laid out in 1794 on land of George Winter by George Scheffer and Peter Rice, but seems to have fallen into other hands before its plot was recorded. It occupies the site of the fort in 1756, named for Lord Halifax by Colonels Clapham and Burd, who superintended its erection.

Middle Paxtang township was formed in 1787. Its population in 1,327.

Ellendale is a post-office in this township.

Dauphin was first Port Lyon, afterwards Greensburg, after Judge Innis Green, who owned the land and laid it into lots in 1824. It was erected into a borough in 1854. Population 740.

Jackson township was formed August 23, 1828, and named for the then President, Andrew Jackson. Its population is 1,137.

Jacksonville in this township, officially "Enders" post-office, was laid out about 1825 on land formerly of George Enders.

Fisherville, laid out in 1854, named for the late Major George Fisher. A joke about this locality long time ago was, that in time of war it would be a safe place "for the location of the Federal Government." At a more modern date a distinguished member of Congress from this district gravely proposed that if Washington was a dangerous locality, Fisherville, in Dauphin county, was a safe one. As no one had ever heard of the town, the suggestion was not seriously considered by the alarmed strategists of