Manor Township takes its name from the Manor of Conestoga, which was originally surveyed and reserved for William Penn in 1719. There is evidence that William Penn visited this area prior to 1690. At this time the area was Native American territory. The Susquehannocks were the largest tribe in the Susquehanna Valley with the center of their community in the Turkey Hill area. The Quaker government had surveyors lay off a large area bounded by the Little Conestoga Creek near Millersville, to the Susquehanna River, and to the Conestoga Creek.
This area was called the Manor of Conestoga, and some historians believe it was set aside as a domain in which the Indians could live and hunt. The Manor contained 16,000 acres east of the Susquehanna River. For the most part the land was flat and well watered, and the soil was rich and fertile.
William Penn had reserved a 3,000 acre site on the eastern bank of the river just north of Turkey Hill for his New Philadelphia. The city would have been at the end of the present Blue Rock Road. Blue Rock Road was an ancient Native American trail prior to the arrival of the white settlers. The road today is known as Route 999 as it leaves Millersville, crosses the Little Conestoga and heads to the river just south of Washington Boro. Blue Rock Ferry, which operated around 1730, was located at the end of Blue Rock Road. Blue Rock Road had great significance and was considered the first gateway to the west.
Following Penn’s death three of his sons assumed control of the Manor in the early 1730’s. The Swiss-German Mennonites were amoung the first Europeans to occupy the subdivided lots. H. Frank Eshleman’s map of the Manor 1730 (circa), lists 28 property owners and identifies the towns of Washington Boro, Creswell, Safe Harbor, Windom, Letort, Millersville, and Rock Hill. The map shows the 3,000 acres held by the proprietors, approximately 4,000 acres vacant and the area established as Indiantown. Common family names of the people in the Manor were Patterson, Shank, Shenk, Funk, Stoner, Bachman, Hostetter, Herr, Martin, Leaman, Kilhaver, Oberholtzer and Hamilton.
Records indicate the Manor of Conestoga was officially changed to Manor Township in 1759. Additional landowners common family names at this period included Habecker, Shellenberg, Neff, Witmer, Kendig, Eshelman, Stehman, and Miller.
One thing which made the Manor vastly different from other localities in Lancaster County at this period was the existence of the Indian reservation (Indiantown) established by William Penn. It remained until December 1763 when the Paxton Boys invaded the reservation and massacred the few remaining Indians.
A brief history of the Susquehannock Native Americans can be found here:
For the next 100 years the Township was subdivided as the large plantations were cut into smaller tracts to accommodate growing families. The iron industry came to the Township in 1846 when the Iron Works was built in the village of Safe Harbor. The T-shape rail was the principal produce of the mill.
The Civil War came close to Manor Township in 1863. Governor Curtin called every able-bodied man to enroll for the defense of the States. Citizens of Manor and Millersville assembled at the headquarters at Safe Harbor. The invasion threat to Lancaster County ended as the Columbia-Wrightsville bridge was burned and Lee’s army was defeated at Gettysburg.
By 1880 the population of Manor Township was approximately 4,000 people. From the late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s Manor Township was known for producing fine tobacco crops. Manor farmers produced more tobacco than any township in Lancaster County. Churches and schools were built as the area continued to grow. The railroad along the western boundary of the township enabled industries to develop, including a woolen factor near Safe Harbor, match factory in Safe Harbor, and an implement factor near Millersville. In April 1930 construction began on the dam for the Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation and was completed twenty months later in 1931.
Washington Boro’s official merger into Manor Township in August of 1973 was one of the most significant changes in recent memory. Today, Washington Boro remains famous for the tomatoes grown by its farmers.
Most of Manor Township remains rural and agricultural in use. The land is considered by soil scientists to be as fertile as any in the United States. The vast majority of development has occurred in the north eastern section of the Township.