Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Genealogy

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County Courthouse
Register of Wills
50 N. Duke St.
P.O. Box 83480
Lancaster, PA 17608-3480
email: Mary Ann Gerber -

Office of the Clerk of Courts
County of Lancaster
50 North Duke Street
P.O. Box 83480
Lancaster, PA 17608-3480
Phone: (717) 299-8275
Fax: (717) 295-3686

Quick History

Many Scotch-Irish immigrants settled in Lancaster County in the early eighteenth century. The area was predominantly a German place of settlement.[1]


Parent County

14 October 1728: Lancaster County was created from Chester County. [2]

Boundary Changes

  • 14 October 1749: York County set off.
  • 14 October 1751: Berks County set off.
  • 27 January 1750: Cumberland County set off.
  • 21 March 1772: Northumberland County set off.
  • 16 October 1813: Lebanon County set off.

Record Loss


Populated Places

Neighboring Counties

Berks | Chester | Dauphin | Lebanon | York | Maryland counties: Cecil | Harford



Cemeteries of Lancaster County in Adamstown & Akron Boroughs and Bart, Brecknock, & Caernarvon Townships. Lists of cemeteries, some with lists of burials.

The Family History Library has a number of cemetery records in books and on films.  They would be available either in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City or in one of its affiliate Family History Centers.

Individual cemeteries:


For tips on accessing Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Federal (or United States) census records online, see: Pennsylvania Census.

There are no county or state census records available for Pennsylvania. County and city tax records can be used as a substitute when census records are not available.


Ephrata Community
  • 1728-1853 - Sachse, Julius F. "The Registers of the Ephrata Community," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Burials 1728-1853: Vol. 14 (1890):297-312, Burials 1730s-1813: 387-402. For free online access, see WeRelate.

St. James's Church, Lancaster

Registers begin in 1755.[3]

St. John's Church, Pequea

Registers are lost, but some parishioners appear in the registers of St. James's Church, Lancaster.[3]

St. Thomas's Church, Caernarvon

Registers are lost, but some parishioners appear in the registers of St. James's Church, Lancaster."[3]

Bangor Church, Caernarvon

Registers are lost, but some parishioners appear in the registers of St. James's Church, Lancaster. An old trunk was discovered at Bangor Church with "sundry account-books and ancient title-deeds."[3]


The first Scotch-Irish settlement in Lancaster County was made at Chickies Creek in 1714. Donegal Presbyterian Church was built there shortly thereafter. Pequea Presbyterian Church, constructed at another early Scotch-Irish settlement, was built in 1724.[1]

Paxtang Church and Derry Church were both organized in 1729.[1]

  • 1741-1810 - Marriage Record of Paxtang and Derry Churches, 1741-1810 (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 2, Vol. 8, Part 10) at Ancestry ($); Google Books - free.

The Hanover Presbyterian Church was built in 1736 in a Scotch-Irish settlement. This ground later fell within the bounds of Dauphin County and still later Lebanon County after those counties split off.[1]


Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups



  • Come join our Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Group at Facebook


  • Lancaster County has placed all county land records on-line Which can be viewed for free. Land Records from 1981 to present can be viewed and searched; you do not have to be a registered user, just login as Guest.  Land Records from 1729 to 1981 can be viewed but not searched; the eFilm system is a bit awkward if you don't have the Page number and the Land Record number (Book and Volume for older records).
  • Deeds, 1729-1867; Index, 1729-1894 FHL film 21439 (first of 111 films)
  • Ancestor Tracks has published Early Landowners of Pennsylvania: Atlas of Township Warrantee Maps of Lancaster County which contains the Township Warrantee Maps on file at the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg.  Each Warrantee Map was painstakingly platted by draftsmen from the original warrants, surveys, and patents of current Lancaster County.  The maps show precise outlines in metes and bounds of each original tract and all surrounding tracts in each township. Information included: names of the warrantee and patentee (first owners); tract name and size; dates of the warrant, survey and patent; patent book and page number; survey book and page number; and atlals coordinate.  Surveys have been placed online by the Pennsylvania Archives.

Local Histories

Some of the Lancaster County histories available in the Family History Library:



French and Indian War

In 1756, Colonel Armstrong recruited many Scotch-Irish men from Lancaster County. They attacked and destroyed the Indian village at Kittanning (present-day Armstrong County).[1]

Colonel Henry Bouquet led a group of Scotch-Irish men from Lancaster County to rescue Fort Pitt. They decisively defeated the Indians at the Battle of Bushy Run.[1]

Reverend John Elder, pastor of Derry and Paxtang churches, recruited Scotch-Irish rangers from his congregation in Lancaster County. Known as the Paxton Rangers or Paxton Boys, they provided security for white settlements between the Blue Mountains and the Susquehanna River. They are remembered for playing a prominent role in Pontiac's War.[1]

Revolutionary War

Local men served in the Lancaster County Militia. A guide at the Pennsylvania State Archives website identifies townships where specific companies recruited soldiers, see Revolutionary War Militia Battalions and Companies, Arranged by County.

Lancaster County men also served in the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment,[4] the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment,[4] and the 9th Pennsylvania Regiment.[5]

Civil War

Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Civil War lists Lancaster County Pennsylvania Soldiers in the Civil War - Civil War Books, Rosters, Medal of Honor Recipients, and Soldier Biographies.


The Lancaster County Digitization Project is a consortium of institutions interested in digitizing the county's newspaper and manuscript collections. Several Lancaster county newspapers are provided in digital format through this and other collaborative efforts. 

Newspapers in Lancaster Pennsylvania at Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers


A number of wills and other probate records from the Lancaster County Probate office have been filmed by the Family History Library in Salt Lake and are available for viewing either in Salt Lake or in one of its affiliate Family History Centers.

Lancaster County has an Online Index for their Probate Files and can be viewed for free.

An Index to the Will Books and Intestate Records of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania 1729-1850 ($) by Eleanore Jane Fulton at Ancestry, institutional access only


  • 1771-1773, 1779, 1782 - Proprietary and State Tax Lists of the County of Lancaster: For the Years 1771, 1772, 1773, 1779 and 1782. (Pennsylvania Archives, Series 3, Vol. 17). Digital versions at Ancestry ($); Google Books - free.

The Salt Lake City Family History Library has microfilmed many Lancaster County taxation records, and they are available in Salt Lake City or in one of its affiliate Family History Centers.

Vital Records

These records are held at the County Archives.

  • Marriage Licenses are recorded continuously from 1885 and an index are available on-line.
  • Old birth records from 1881 through 1906 are kept by the Register of Wills
  • Old death registrations from 1894 through 1907 are kept in the County Archives

Birth/Death records from 1907 to the present are kept by the Pennsylvania Department of Vital Records at New Castle, PA

The Lancaster County Register of Wills maintains a 24-hour telephone information line (717-295-2001) which gives specific details about how to access these birth/death records

Societies and Libraries

There are two very helpful societies in Lancaster County:

Lancaster County Historical Society
230 N President Ave
Lancaster, PA 17603
(717) 392-4633

The society has a research library.
The Family History Library has some of the journals they have published on microfilm.

Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
2215 Millstream Rd
Lancaster, PA 17602-1499
(717) 393-9745

The society has an online catalog.

Family History Centers

Web Sites

  • FamilyHart Online Database This is an online family database containing over 719,000 records, mostly of Pennsylvania Dutch Extraction. Many of the families are from Lancaster County. This database adds 1,000 names per week which is updated online every quarter. It is the most comprehensive family database online for Pennsylvania Dutch families.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Wayland F. Dunaway, The Scotch-Irish of Colonial Pennsylvania (Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1944), 50. Free digital version at PA's Past: Digital Bookshelf at Penn State. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "way" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "way" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "way" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), [FHL book 973 D27e 2002].
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Philip Syng Physick Conner,"Registers of the Anglican Church in Pennsylvania prior to 1800," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 12 (1888):341-349. For free online access, see WeRelate.
  4. 4.0 4.1 John B.B. Trussell and Charles C. Dallas, The Pennsylvania Line; Regimental Organization and Operations, 1776-1783 (Harrisburg, Pa.: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1977). Digital version at Family History Archive.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "9th Pennsylvania Regiment,", accessed 31 May 2012.