History of Paradise Township
Paradise Township lies in the Pequea Valley area. The township was organized in 1843 having been separated from what remains known as Strasburg Township. The largest village in the area was and still is today Paradise, settled in 1712. Approximately 2000 acres was separated from the 10,000-acre Hans Herr Tract in Strasburg to form the Ferree Tract from Paradise Lane east to Belmont Road along one of the oldest roads in Lancaster County (The Great Minquas Path, or the lower Conestoga Road, now Rt. 741) that went from Gap to the Susquehanna River. Holdings east of Belmont Road were purchased from the London Land Company by Slaymakers and others. A log residence in the village of Vintage can be traced to an early Slaymaker and is the oldest continuous residence in the township. The date presented by the family is 1709-10.
One of the best-known early residents of Paradise, the first white settler, was (Marie) Mary Warenbauer (Fiere) Ferree (ca. 1650-1716) who arrived with her son Daniel Ferree (1677-1762) and his wife Anna Maria and their young son; and Mary’s adopted son (also son-in-law) Isaac Le Fevre (1669-1751) and his wife Catherine (who was also Mary’s daughter) and four of their six unmarried grown children.*+ Mary died only four years after her arrival but many of her descendents are living here today. Years later, when a name was needed for a post office, David Witmer, Sr., Postmaster, chose the name “Paradise.” Early French Huguenot settlers other than the Ferrees and Le Fevre (Lefever) family were the Ranc(k) family, two brothers and wives who settled in East Earl in 1728 and 1729 and whose grandchldren settled in Paradise.
Early German and Swiss settlers in Paradise included the Eshleman family, the Hershey family, the Denlinger family, and the Groff family. Most of the early settlers came to till the soil in an area where they could worship freely. Most of them were followers of Menno Simons but interspersed were immigrants from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. The Irish are credited as masons who built many of the stone structures of the 1700s, many of which are still in use. Many of the brick houses along Rt. 741 and along the connecting links between Rt. 741 and US 30 were once owned by Jacob Eshleman, III. The bricks were formed and fired on a farm located at the intersection of Route 741 and Paradise Lane just south of the 1832 Strasburg Railroad and employed about 65 people at its peak.
Most of the land is rural and agricultural in use. Approximately 65% of the area is being actively tilled. The largest expanse of cultivated land lies south of US 30, the primary artery through Paradise Township. Most of the area being farmed is considered by soil scientists to be prime agricultural land. Farming by rotation of crops and replenishing nutrients through natural processes and/or commercial fertilizer has retained the fertility of the land.
There remains within the township’s borders 1700 acres of land identified as wooded land. While many residences have been built in this area, in recent years efforts are being directed to maintain the wooded scene. Part of this area includes two watersheds that are owned by the Borough of Strasburg. A rather unique feature of this area is the numerous, small wood lots that are owned by farmers and others and used as a source of lumber or firewood.
Residential areas in the township lie primarily along US 30. The villages of Paradise, Vintage, and Kinzers form a line that gradually seems to be joining one to the other. Another developed area lies north of US 30 along Harristown Road and west of Harristown. A planned residential settlement, complete with its own sewage system, is located south of US 896 and attracts citizens in retirement.
* Cultural Heritage, Lancaster County Comprehensive Plan, pages 16-59
+ Letter dated March 15, 2010 from S. Kendrick Eshleman III, M.D. citing a story compiled by Nancy Landis from charts and legends of Mrs. Charles I. Landis.