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History of the Township

West Manheim Township was established by an Act of Assembly of Pennsylvania on February 28, 1854. The first Township election was held at the home of Abraham Hershey on March 17, 1854. The first Supervisors elected from the newly created Township were Jacob Mummert and Michael Resh, for one year terms.

The rich history of structures, located in the Township, started in 1750 with the building of the St. David Lutheran and Reformed Church. However, perhaps the most notable of structures was the Mary Ann Furnace, erected in 1762. This was the first furnace located west of the Susquehanna River. The furnace was located in the Township due to the large amount of Chestnut Oak timber in the vicinity, which was burned into charcoal and used in smelting iron ore. Mary Ann Furnace’s contribution to the history of the United States was to supply cannon balls and grape shot to the American Army and Navy during the American Revolution.

During the Civil War, on June 30, 1863, Confederate Troops, under the command of J.E.B. Stuart, passed through the Township and engaged Union Troops, under the command of Kilpatrick, in Hanover. Later in the afternoon, a small squad of Union Calvary was watching the movement of a Confederate supply train, of 125 wagons, traveling through the Township, toward Jefferson. An attachment of 100 Confederate Soldiers engaged the Union Squad and after several shots were exchanged, the Union Calvary withdrew with one soldier wounded. This was the only skirmish fought on Township soil during the Civil War. On July 1, 1863, Union General Sedgwick moved 16,000 soldiers through the Township on his way to Gettysburg.

In 1960, the population of West Manheim Township was 1,265. This was the first census taken after the creation of the Township. In 1990, the population by census had been established at 4,590.

The highway system within the Township has changed from the approximate 20 miles of unimproved roads in 1854 to the approximate 5 miles of improved State roads and 55 miles of Township roads, of which approximately 50 miles are improved. Snow removal and maintenance of Township roads has also changed. From 1854 to 1954, Township policy was to hire farmers and their horse teams or tractors to help with snow removal and maintenance. From 1954 to 1980, the Township employed 2 part-time men and a Roadmaster, who was an elected Supervisor, to work on the roads. From 1980 to present day, the Supervisors appoint a Roadmaster, and have 4 full-time and part-time employees to maintain the Township roads. The earliest record of $394.30 was spent in 1888 for road maintenance. In 1995, the appropriated money in budget for highways totaled approximately $215,000.00.

The Municipal Government structure for West Manheim Township has also changed. West Manheim Township was the first municipality in York County to adopt a Comprehensive Plan for land planning. The Township adopted its first Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance in 1969. These Ordinances and their amendments allow the Township to plan an orderly development of the community. With the continued growth of the Township, the first full-time Secretary/Treasurer was hired in 1975 and began to maintain set office hours. An Administrative Assistant to the Board of Supervisors was employed in 1978. A Code Enforcement Officer was added in 1990. A long awaited change in police protection began in 1979 with the appointment of a full-time Police Chief. Before 1979, police protection for the Township consisted of part-time Township Police Officers and the Pennsylvania State Police. Since 1979, the Township Police force had grown to include a Police Chief and six full-time Police Officers.

From 1854 to 1960, all Township functions were held at the private home of an elected official. The Township in 1955 made a big step forward in the purchase of a tract of land from Oscar Nace. This tract of land contained a building that was used to house the Township Road Equipment. In 1960, The Township added an addition to the existing structure to conduct Township Meetings and in 1973 another building was constructed to add garage space and an office/meeting are. The two buildings were joined together in 1980 to from one large Municipal Hall that houses the Administrative Offices and Police Department. Also, in the same year a large pole building was constructed at the rear of the tract of land to house the Public Works Department.