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Published in 1962

David Witmer Senior and his wife Esther Kendig moved into this area in 1778. In the year 1781 they built a house along the road that now leads from Paradise to Gordonville. This house is now The Creekside Inn B&B. Two stone tablets in the wall of the house read "Bilt by David & Esther Witmer" and "In the year of our lord 1781." David purchased this land (51 acres and 50 perches) from Jacob Fierre, son of Philip, son of Mary Warenbuer Fierre. Thus this land was part of the original tract granted to Mary Fierre {by William Penn}.
David Witmer, Senior, was a forceful figure whose talents included farming, milling, construction of bridges and roads, politics and community service. He operated a mill near the site of his home. It is possible that this mill had been operated by Jacob Fierre, who is recorded as being a miller. The house that is referred as the "Mill house" is still standing across the road from the house that David, Senior built.
It appears that David was a personal friend of George Washington. His descendants have records to indicate that David traveled to Philadelphia to meet him while Washington was enroute to New York for the inauguration in 1789. A few years later, in 1794, George Washington visited this area and is reported to have visited a mill to study the processing of hemp. Legend states that the miller was over-enthusiastic in his attempted demonstration and a catastrophe resulted. One record states that the miller was injured and another states that the millstone was broken. At any rate, Mr. Washington decided against erecting a similar mill at Mt. Vernon.

David Witmer's Tavern & The Sign of the Stage

One of the regular stopping places for stages that traveled on the Lancaster and Philadelphia Turnpike was the stage house built by David Witmer, Sr., sometime between 1790 and 1800. This building is now used as the store property of Charles K. Singer.

It is logical to assume that this was made a stage stop because David Witmer joined with John Rieley and George Weed in operating a stagecoach line known as the Stage Dispatch. It is said that George Washington dined here when he was returning from one of his visits to the west or south.

Over the years, this building was also used as a post office when various members of the Witmer family served as postmasters.

For a few years in the mid-nineteenth century, it housed the Paradise Female Seminary which was also known as Eden Hall. This school closed due to the fact that the Civil War greatly reduced the number of students. Many of the girls were daughters of Southern aristocrats who were sympathizers of the Confederate cause.

David Witmer's Church & School

All schools established in Lancaster County prior to the Common School Act in 1834, were the outcome of private effort... With relationship to Paradise Township it appears that David Witmer, Sr. was responsible for the first school of the area... About 500 feet south of what was the Witmer Tavern on the road running from the old Strasburg Road to the Turnpike, stands the Mennonite Meeting House. It was originally known as David Witmer's Church. David Witmer gave the land now used by it, and the building was erected thereon in 1806. The early minutes of the church contained the following entries: "I do engage to give land opposite my school house to the Mennonite Society gratis forever, for the purpose of building on it a house of worship for said society. As witness my hand and seal the 26th day of September, 1806. David Witmer."

The "school house" referred to by Mr. Witmer in his offer of the above land was either a stone building, which yet stood in November 1916 on the old Strasburg Road at the foot of the grounds of All Saints' Cemetery, known as Lafayette Hill, or the brick building, since altered, standing on the northeast corner of this road and the road to the turnpike. It is not known when the schoolhouse was built, The "Paradise Hornet" was printed from 1821 to1823, by David Witmer, SR. and Henry Witmer, his son, in the said brick building. In 1841,the Paradise Seminary was conducted in the said stone building. The Mennonite Church is the oldest church in Paradise Township... Until 1806 the meetings were held in homes in the same manner as the Old Order Amish Church now holds its meetings...

The congregation built its first meetinghouse in 1806 on land contributed by David Witmer, the village innkeeper, who was a member of the Mennonite congregation. An interesting sidelight on this individual is the fact that his church tolerated his being an innkeeper, but several years after the church had been built he was excommunicated because he used a carriage with "springs."

David and Esther Witmer


The original portraits of David and Esther Witmer are on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

c. 1835 Artist/maker unknown, American

Oil on canvas, mounted on panel 41 5/8 x 35 3/4 inches

From the Collection of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1970

Cathy & Dennis Zimmermann, Innkeepers
44 Leacock Road - PO Box 435
Paradise, PA 17562
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Local Phone: (717) 687-0333
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