Borough of Strasburg

Preservation and Progress

Borough of Strasburg History

Strasburg Borough’s origins can be traced to the Old Conestoga Road, now Main Street, which passed through the area which was to be developed as the town of Strasburg. The Old Conestoga Road was already in use by 1714. Between 1730 and 1750 a tavern and a few log houses were built alongside this road in the vicinity of what is Strasburg Borough today. At one time, the village of Strasburg was known as Bettlehausen (beggar houses). As trade and transportation prospered, Strasburg grew. As Conestoga wagons were used to carry goods from Philadelphia into the interior, Strasburg became a way station with as many as ten hotels and as many stores for the travelers. By 1759, there were 32 taxable properties in the town. Most of the early settlers of Strasburg Borough were Mennonites of Swiss or German lineage. Several church congregations were formed around the 1760s. The first church building was built later in 1807 by the Methodists. The Mennonites, the Lutherans, the Episcopalians, and the Presbyterians all had churches soon thereafter. The small hamlet was known as Strasburg by the beginning of the Revolutionary War and is one of the few places in Lancaster County which was named for a place in Germany. Because Strasburg was located along the Old Conestoga Road, rapid growth occurred within the hamlet during the late 18th Century, and it subsequently became a commercial center for the residents of the surrounding farmlands, as well as passers-by. By the late 1800s, Strasburg had become the most populous town in Lancaster County.

Strasburg was a center for locally-oriented, small-scale industries such as blacksmithing, weaving, clock-making and cabinetmaking. A post office was established in Strasburg in 1804, and the town was officially incorporated as a borough in 1816. Along with its local commercial and industrial importance, Strasburg played a significant role in establishing local education opportunities. Records show that, as early as 1790, there was a small, private school available. About 1808, the first school building was built which was later incorporated into the State school program. Strasburg was one of the first communities to favor free education and, in 1831, sent a petition supporting free general education to the State Legislature. This petition directly contributed to the passage of the Act of 1831, appropriating monies for the establishment of a public school system.

History Postcard
The Historic Preservation trust of Lancaster County, Our Present Past, (Lancaster, PA: 1985), p. 316.