The Historical Society's focus is on northern Lancaster County, particularly that region known as the Cocalico Valley. The Cocalico Valley includes the areas which originally fell within the boundaries of Cocalico Township, as it was defined at the formation of Lancaster County in 1729; East and West Cocalico and Ephrata Townships were all originally part of Cocalico Township. In addition, we consider Clay Township, West Earl Township, and some of the northern portion of Earl Township to be included in the Valley.

The Historical Society offers researchers a diverse assortment of research materials. The research library includes the Lancaster County sources generally considered to be fundamental: census records, microfilmed wills (through Book R, Vol. 2); will abstracts through 1820; microfilmed Orphans’ Court records; county-wide baptismal records through 1800; the classic histories and biographical compendiums of the county; the county's three atlases; and other such basic and indispensable items. Numerous published books of European/immigration records are also available; because of the German ethnicity of the Cocalico Valley at the time of settlement these focus on Swiss and German immigrant groups.

The library also offers pre-1800 baptismal records for Berks, Lebanon, and York Counties; will abstracts for Chester, York, and Berks Counties; biographical annals for Berks and Lebanon Counties, etc. Post-1800 church records are available for a number of Berks County congregations, particularly those in the Tulpehocken region and those near the Lancaster/Berks County border.

Records specific to the Cocalico Valley and closely neighboring areas include an assortment of church records extending into the 19th century and beyond, as follows:

    • Records of Cocalico (Bethany) Reformed Church, Ephrata Township

    • Records of Muddy Creek Lutheran Church, East Cocalico Township

    • Records of Muddy Creek Reformed Church, East Cocalico Township

    • Records of Bergstrasse Lutheran Church, Ephrata Township

    • Records of Swamp Reformed Church, West Cocalico Township

    • Records of Swamp Lutheran Church, West Cocalico Township
    • Records of Emanuel Lutheran Church, Brickerville (Elizabeth Township)

    • Records of Reiher’s (Zion) Reformed Church, Brickerville

    • Records of Trinity Lutheran Church, New Holland (Earl Township)

    • Records of Zeltenreich Reformed Church, New Holland

    • Records of Heller’s Church, Upper Leacock Township

    • Records of Zion Reformed Church, Lincoln (Ephrata Township)

    • Records of Salem Reformed Church, Reamstown (East Cocalico Township)

    • Records of Salem Lutheran Church, Reamstown

    • Records of Mellinger’s Lutheran Church, Schoeneck (West Cocalico Township)

    • Records of St. John’s Lutheran Church, East Earl Township

Similarly, the Society has copies of the pastoral records of local pastors Stephen Schweitzer (Reformed) and Benjamin Welder (Lutheran), as well as the published records of Casper Stoever and John Waldschmidt and the marriage records of Rev. Daniel Hertz. Other records specific to the Cocalico Valley area include lists of inscriptions from numerous cemeteries; warrantee or connected land-draft maps, some of which have been indexed; tax records; published and unpublished genealogies; community histories (Reamstown, Denver, Akron, Ephrata, Adamstown, etc.); the Society's own research publications; and, almost in their entireties, the manuscript and photograph collections.

Speaking very generally, the Society's records grow less geographically and more topically diverse as they grow later. The Ephrata Review newspaper, an excellent source of obituaries as well as local news articles, is available from 1883 to the present. Numerous local burials which took place between 1883 and 1944 have been extracted from the paper and indexed. Denver funeral directors records are available from 1906 to 1941 and similar Ephrata records (some years missing) from 1904 through 1953.

Library holdings unique or likely to be unique to the Society's collection include a large assortment of manuscript materials, including recorded and unrecorded deeds, land drafts, daybooks, ledgers, hotel guest books, the minute books of organizations and other organizational records, correspondence, diaries, family Bible registers, land drafts, student copy books, etc. The Society also maintains an extensive, completely cataloged photograph collection. Some of the previously mentioned funeral/burial material is unlikely to be available at other research facilities. The policy books of the Northern Mutual Insurance Company of Lancaster County, which date from 1844 past the turn of the century and contain descriptive data for insured properties in northern Lancaster, Berks, Lebanon and Dauphin Counties, are an excellent and unduplicated source for property research.

+ The Historical Society is located in the former Moore Connell Mansion at 249 West Main Street (Rt. 322), Ephrata, at the corner of Oak Street. Parking, accessible from Oak Street, is available behind the museum/library building. Both the library and the museum are open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:30 — 6:00 and Saturdays from 8:30 — 5:00. There is a $3.00 per day charge for non-members to use the library; visits to the museum, which displays numerous objects made or used in the Cocalico Valley area, are free. If you wish, you may arrange to have research conducted for you for a moderate fee.

If you have specific questions not addressed in this handout, please call the Society at (717) 733-1616. We welcome your inquiries.