Tyrone Township was established in 1745 and incorporated as a township in 1749. Tyrone Township has been a part of three counties over the course of its history. It was formed as part of Lancaster County. In 1749, York County was formed and finally in 1800, Adams County.
- The village of Heidlersburg was first known as “Starrytown”.A mere 512 Tyrone Township residents were recorded in the Census of 1800.
- The 1801 total assessed value of Tyrone Township for tax purposes was $83,432.
- Excepting railroad bridges, the last stone bridge built in Tyrone Township and in Adams County, was erected in 1823 by David Diehl at a cost of $1,950.
- In July 1869, a volunteer militia company was organized at Heidlersburg under the name “Tyrone Zouaves”.
- With the inception of the Gettysburg and Harrisburg Railroad in 1884, the village of Gardners developed as the shipping point for Tyrone and Huntington Townships.
- According to the Census of 2000, there were 2,273 people, 785 households and 616 families residing in Tyrone Township.
- Tyrone Township has a total area of 21.5 square miles.
- If you would like to learn more about Tyrone Township, please click below to go to the History pages.
The Early Years
In response to an increasing number of settlers' land claims, Tyrone Township was established by Lancaster County authorities in 1745. The township was named for the county of the same name in Northern Ireland. Although court records concerning the establishment of Tyrone Township are not available, it is known that Tyrone Township residents were included in the Lancaster County tax records for the first time in 1746.
The boundaries of Tyrone Township were probably determined by the surveyors who were working in the area at the time for the Penn proprietors. These surveyors chose Bermudian Creek for part of Tyrone Township’s eastern boundary, and the main branch of the Conewago Creek for the Township’s southern boundary. The total area of Tyrone Township (21.5 square miles) was smaller than adjacent townships but similar in size to several other early Pennsylvania townships.
The Menallen Road, confirmed in 1750, was one of four early east-west Lancaster County thoroughfares, and passed through the southern part of Tyrone Township. What was long known as the Oxford Road, the first part of which was confirmed in 1752, extended south from the Cumberland County line through Tyrone Township with the Port of Baltimore as its ultimate destination.
According to the 1762 tax list, the most heavily assessed taxables in Tyrone Township at the time were Victor King, Alexander Brown, Samuel and Thomas Neely, William Delap and Neal McNaughton. These and other early settlers were Scotch-Irish or English in origin. They may have been Presbyterians, Anglicans, or Quakers whose Meeting Houses were located in other townships. Another nearly twenty years would pass before German family names such as Bream, Cline, Fidler, Meals, and Spangler would begin to appear in Tyrone Township.
First Formal Community
In 1812 John Heidler plotted a town, which he named “Heidlersburg” from his 108-acre tract he purchased along the Menallen Road in Tyrone Township. He applied for a tavern license, became an innkeeper moved on after only one year. By 1814 some fifty town lots had been sold, however Heidlersburg had not become a borough.
The gentle to moderate sloping soil in the southern part of Tyrone Township is mostly shallow, shaley, and moderately drained; the best soil for agricultural pursuits is the limestone soil found in a few other places. However, the steep, well-drained soil of the northern part of Tyrone Township is ideal for orchards, bush fruits, and forest. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a study of the occupations of Tyrone Township heads of family between 1800 and 1900 revealed that more than seventy-five percent during this time were farmers or farm laborers. Those that were not were directly engaged in farm activities were closely associated with the agricultural society, and worked as blacksmiths, wagon makers, drovers, wheelwrights, stone masons, tanners, coopers, millers, and merchants.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed the Public School Law in 1834, but Tyrone Township did not move as swiftly as some other districts in Adams County to adopt the Law’s provisions. A year or two later, Tyrone Township voters finally accepted public schools, and the school taxes to support them, only to then exercise the privilege of discontinuing them. Not until the late 1840’s, when there were six to eight schools in Tyrone Township, did the township return to the public school system and its related taxation.
Commerce and Community Expansion
The Gettysburg and Harrisburg Railroad, partially inspired by the need for reliable transportation to move agricultural products to market, opened for business in 1884 and the village of Gardners developed in the northern part of Tyrone Township.
According to the Census of 1800, there were 512 people living in Tyrone Township. A century later, in 1900, Tyrone Township’s population had nearly doubled to 1,007. Tyrone Township’s population declined from 1,007 in 1900 to 823 in 1930. The population rebounded to 1,037 in 1950, and steadily increased to 1,534 in 1980 and continued to 2,273 in 2000. Tyrone Township’s population growth between 1950 and 2000 mirrors that of Adams County during the same period; Adams County’s population increased from 44,197 in 1950 to 91,292 in 2000. Tyrone Township’s population growth during this half century is attributable, at least in part, to the creation of rural housing units and several large subdivisions.
Modern Day Tyrone Township
As was the case in Tyrone Township’s early days, Heidlersburg and Gardners live on as villages and the township’s rural areas are complemented by individual houses, barns and agricultural “out buildings” that reflect its agricultural roots and the unique tastes of modern day Tyrone Township residents. Today’s public schools have been organized into Upper Adams School District, which serves the majority of the township with the balance being served by Conewago Valley School District.