History of Hellam Township
The Iroquois claimed the land by way of their conquest of the Susquehannocks in 1675. The land between the Susquehanna River and the Potomac River was shown on old maps to be Conestoga and Shawnee hunting grounds. Prior to October of 1736, all land west of the Susquehanna River was the territory of the Iroquois. In 1736 settlers entered into a treaty with the Indians of the Hellam area for settlement of the lands west of the Susquehanna.
Prior to 1700, the Susquehanna River formed a natural barrier to colonization west of Lancaster County. The abundant streams and hillsides were rich in game and had an ample wood supply. The only white inhabitants west of the Susquehanna at this time were traders who bought furs from the Indians of the Hellam Valley. Colonists began crossing the river to settle in what is now York County. Many areas of the Township were favorites for the Indians before white settlers arrived. Specimens of Indian life, such as stone arrowheads, spear points, axes, hatchets and utensils used by the Indians have been found along the Susquehanna River, streams, and elsewhere in the Township.
In April, 1722, Governor William Keith surveyed a tract called "Newberry", also known as the "Mine Land" for the establishment of a copper mine. This included the area north of Kreutz Creek as far west as an approximate line drawn from what is now Ducktown Road to Wildcat Falls. The Board of Property gave Keith no authority to issue land warrants here. In 1729 John and James Hendricks, with government authorization, settled along Kreutz Creek on 1200 acres of land. John Wright took up several hundred acres of land between the creek and John Hendricks' property. East of the Susquehanna River, Lancaster County was formed from the western part of Chester County with its borders extending to lands west of the river. John Wright was granted a patent to establish a ferry across the Susquehanna River.
Between the years of 1733-34 Samuel Blunston, a Columbia resident, became a land agent of the Penn family and granted permits for land settlement in York, Adams, and Cumberland Counties. Blunston was a Quaker, a Lancaster County magistrate and a surveyor.
In 1736 German, English, Swiss, French, Huguenot and Scotch Irish settlers entered into a treaty with the Indians for settlement of the lands west of the Susquehanna River. From 1736 - 1739 the area was under the authority of Hempfield Township from the east side of the river. Charles Jones was the constable of Hempfield and lived in the Hellam area. In 1739 the Provincial Assembly passed a special act to empower Lancaster County Court to lay off townships west of the Susquehanna. An unsurveyed area about the size York County is today was called Hellam Township. It was settled mainly by industrious German farmers.
In 1739 the Monocacy Road, the first road of Hellam Township, was established. From prehistoric times, this natural corridor was used as a travel route by Native Americans establishing a trail between the Susquehanna River and the Monocacy River in Maryland. It followed the path of an old Indian trail as did many of the roads in Pennsylvania at that time. It began at Wright's Ferry and passed through what is now the borough of Hallam, across the Codorus Creek to what would become Yorktown and continued on toward what became Hanover and down to the Maryland line. This trail was used by settlers and eventually became a main road to the west. Today US Route 30 is located in alignment of the old Monocacy Trail.
In 1741 the Penn proprietors laid out the Town of York on its present site. This new town, combined with the expansion of Wrightsville, increased trade and traffic through the Hellam Valley. An act sanctioned in 1741 by James Hamilton, Deputy Governor of the Province, authorized York as the fifth county of Pennsylvania and the first county west of the Susquehanna.
By 1749 York County contained 1466 taxable properties. The increasing population west of the Susquehanna River and the difficulties of travel to the Lancaster Court for settlement of grievances among settlers caused petitions for the formation of a new county to be signed by some influential citizens of Lancaster County.
Between 1754 - 1763 came the French and Indian War. German immigration halted during this period. With the war came Indian attacks on settlers in the areas west and north of York County. Settlers began to withdraw from the areas to safer places east of the Susquehanna River. With the end of the French and Indian War, immigration from Germany to Pennsylvania resumed and Hellam Township continued to grow.
Deposits of iron ore were found in the Township about this time. The time of greatest migration of Germans from the Palatinate into the province of Pennsylvania was in 1754. The German farmers were drawn from the small farms of Germany, where land was not owned, to the hundreds of acres available for ownership in Pennsylvania. Some of the best farmland was to be found in the valleys of Lancaster and York counties. The Kreutz Creek Valley in Hellam Township attracted these farmers.
In 1775 the Accomac Inn was constructed along the Susquehanna River at the site of Anderson's Ferry, which was chartered in 1742. The ferry was the primary crossing site of the Susquehanna River in colonial times.
In 1783 after the Revolutionary War ended, the distinctive society of the Kreutz Creek Valley had been formed. Occupations, services and businesses supporting the agricultural economy and life of the Pennsylvania German farmers became more established. Some residents who opened their houses to feed and provide sleeping quarters became innkeepers. The inns were the place where locals gathered. Usually the location of the inn was at an intersection of two main roads. The church became the gathering place for social purposes and several congregations were formed, sharing one building. Other businesses were begun to supply food, clothing and shelter.
The boundaries of York County were tentatively defined as the land south and east of the Southern Mountains and north of the Maryland line.