Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania

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Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania is an unincorporated community with parts lying in East Lampeter Township, and Upper Leacock Township, Lancaster County in the U.S. commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The community has a large Amish and Mennonite population. The total population of the community is approximately 300.[1]


General information


The area’s first inhabitants were Native American Shawnee and the Susquehannock.[1]

The earliest settlers of what was to become Bird-in-Hand were Quakers and Swiss Mennonites. James Smith was the first of the Quakers known to have settled in the area, arriving by the year 1715. William and Dorothy McNabb were pioneer landowners and the owners of the original Bird-in-Hand Hotel. The Quakers built a meetinghouse and two-story academy, which stands today, next to the present day Bird-in-Hand fire company.[1]

The community was founded in 1734. The legend of the naming of Bird-in-Hand concerns the time when the Old Philadelphia Pike was surveyed between Lancaster and Philadelphia. According to legend two road surveyors discussed whether they should stay at their present location or go on to the town of Lancaster. One of them supposedly said, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," which means it is preferable to have a small but certain advantage than the mere potential of a greater one; and so they stayed. By 1734, road surveyors were making McNabb’s hotel their headquarters rather than returning to Lancaster every day. The sign in front of the inn is known to have once "portrayed a man with a bird in his hand and a bush nearby, in which two birds were perched," and was known as the Bird-in-Hand Inn. Variations of this sign appear throughout the town today.[1]

In 1834 construction began on the 86-mile Pennsylvania Railroad line between Philadelphia and Columbia. Bird-in-Hand, featuring tanneries, feed mills, coal and lumber yards, was the most important stop on the Lancaster to Coatesville section.[1]

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