Washingtonboro, PA

Martin Chartier
Died 1718
Noted Indian Trader and Interpreter
In early Pennsylvania and Maryland
Frenchman from Canada
Who resided
At Fort St. Louis
Of the Sieur de la Salle
In present Illinois 1684-1690
A leader thence of the Shawnee Indians
To Maryland 1692 and to Susquehanna River
At Pequea Creek now Lancaster County
Pennsylvannia 1697
Agent in William Penn's treaties
With the indians of the Susquehanna
Settler here in later years
At the site of Washington Borough
On a 300 acre tract
Granted to him by Penn
Father by his Shawnee wife
Peter Chartier
The indian trader & interpreter

Erected by
The Pennsylvania Commission
And the Lancaster County Historical Society

The above words are on a marker along the Highway 441 in Washington Boro. A seemingly sleepy community, its history goes back to the early years of this nation.

Its name has had various spelling over the years - Washington Borough, Washington Boro, Washingtonboro. From the earliest days the lifeblood of the village was the Susquehanna River, allowing travel before there were roads. Three villages were in the area - Woodstock, Charlestown and Schutztown. In 1827, the Borough of Washington was incorporated.

During the 1800's the village prospered with many jobs - rafters, coopers and fishermen - tied to the river. Others walked or rode the short distance to factory jobs in Columbia. During the late 1800's the population was about 600. A decline in river-related industry brought a decline in Washington Boro. Manor Township to the east prospered with many German immigrants farming fertile land. Washington Boro was dissolved politically in 1973 and became part of Manor Township.

The two school buildings (left) used to educate the young people through the eighth grade for the better part of a century are long gone. One building was used for primary grades while the other housed older students. Through the early part of the 1900's, many considered an eighth grade education adequate.

The town itself had the usual businesses - stores, taverns, meat market, even a doctor. The main road follows the river north and south with residences located to the east on higher land.

Islands in the river, adjacent to Washington Boro, provided local residents with excellent gardening areas. They rowed out to the islands in boats to cultivate their plots. In the 1900's an attempt was made to use the produce as a source of income. Though there have been changes, fresh produce continues to play a role in the local economy.

The village survives with a number of old hotels that used to attract travellers and those working on the river still standing. All are private homes now. A volunteer fire department, Washington Boro Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, was organized in March of 1917 and chartered Sept. 8, 1918. Their first piece of equipment was a bucket brigade.

The former Patriotic Sons of America Lodge (right) still dominates the village. It is now a community hall.

Two churches provide spiritual nourishment for the town. The Methodist Church and the Church of God trace their history back to the 1830's. Both are adjacent to the Washington Boro Cemetery. The Methodist Church is on the east side of the state highway that follows the Susquehanna and faces the river. The Church of God is on the South side of Church (Rockfish) Street. A Mennonite church is located elsewhere in the borough.

Resources: Guidelines To History Washington Boro: It Has A Wealth of History, by Charles Douts Jr.; Churches and Cemeteries of Lancaster County, Pennsylvannia, by A. Hunter Rineer Jr.; the Washington Boro Volunteer Fire Company web site; Letters and oral history of Elizabeth Mann Teachman; and old photos contributed.


A Partial transcription of the Washington Boro Cemetery. Names include Kise, Mann and Steiner.

The Mann and Kise Family Page. This includes a transcription of Mann's and Kises in the 1850 and 1860 Federal Censuses.

Mann and Kise letters and notes.

Dan and Joan Shurtliff's Home Page.

This page was created by Joan Shurtliff on June 29, 2002. It was last updated on June 29, 2002.