Lititz, Pennsylvania

 

On 02 Dec 1742 Count Zinzendorf visited the house of Jacob Huber, located about one mile north of the present day Lititz.  Zinzendorf delivered an address to the neighboring farmers, but the nearest neighbor John George Klein did not attend because he did not like Zinzendorf.  During the night, his conscience so bothered him that he followed Zinzendorf to Lancaster where Zinzendorf was to speak at the courthouse.  Klein was impressed and allowed the building of a log church on his land where monthly services were held.

The settlers in the area around Lititz became interested in the Moravian Church.  In Sep 1746 Klein donated land to build a combined school and meeting house.  As the settlers came to know the group, some converted into the growing Moravian community.  On Sunday, 09 Feb 1749 the Warwick Country Congregation, later known as the Lititz Moravian Gemeinhaus (combination school and meeting house) was consecrated.  This was the third Moravian settlement. 

Linden Hall Girls School, the oldest resident school for girls in America, had its beginnings in the Gemeinhaus where Reverend Schnell first taught the girls and boys in 1746.

In Apr 1754 Bishop Spangenberg returned from Europe where he had consulted with Count Zinzendorf about a new settlement in Pennsylvania.  John George Klein offered to donate his entire a farm of 491 acres to the church to establish the new settlement.  In return Klein and his wife planned on returning to Bethlehem, living on the ,70 annual annuity he requested in return for the land.  On 20 Aug 1755, with Zinzendorf's approval, the legal title to the land was transferred.  This former country preaching station was to be converted into a settlement congregation. 

Lititz was to be a less austere settlement than those of Bethlehem and Nazareth, as many of the colonists were not suited for such a restricted life.  This city was to provide greater freedom of action and enterprise than previous settlements.  However, for the first hundred years, only members of the Moravian Church were allowed to live in the town.  The town=s regulations were to ensure that the residents would be sheltered from Aall dangerous and worldly connections and live a peaceful and quiet life of godliness and honesty.@ 

The rules tried to ensure that there would be no Alight-minded, disorderly and needless conversation, no changing of professions, no giving a night=s lodging to any person or no undertaking a journey, neither far or near, without permission.@ The rules banned Adancing, taverning, feasting at weddings, christenings, or burials, common sports or pastimes and playing of children in the streets . . . .  They that have inclinations that way cannot live in Lititz.@

On 09 Feb 1757 Bishop Nathaniel Seidel and a surveyor laid out the streets and lots for the town.  All of the land in the New World was held in trust for the choirs and congregations under the name of Bishop Seidel.  The name Lititz chosen by its 253 residents to commemorate the 300th anniversary (1456) of the invitation from King Podiebrad of Bohemia to the followers of John Huss to make his castle at Lidice (Lititz) their headquarters. 

The first house was a stone building that Klein had built before leaving.  The house was later torn down, but part of it forms the back wall of the brick building at 125-129 E. Main Street.  The next house was built next door at 121 E. Main in 1757.

On 11 Nov 1757 the grist mill was completed and the saw mill on 20 Apr 1758, adding two important elements to the prosperous development of the community.  These local mills were important to all as a meeting place where farmers could have their grain ground for shares and non-farmer could buy flour and corn meal. 

In 1758 the Single Brothers' Economy was established.  Workers building the Sisters' and the Brothers' Houses in new settlement were kept separately in a house near the farm buildings of Henry Haller who was in charge of the congregation farm.  Haller was the future father-in-law of Joseph Ferdinand Bullitschek.  The Haller barn (also called the Klein barn) still stands at the southwest corner of Front and Water Streets in Lititz, but it has been converted into apartments. 

On 14 May 1759 the Warwick Congregation and the members in Lititz were combined in the a single congregation called the Lititz Congregation.

In 1764, Zum Anker (Anchor Inn) was opened to house the outsiders who came to trade in the community.  The inn still operates in Lititz today at Main and Broad Streets under the name of the General Sutter Inn, renamed for Johann Augustus Sutter of California Gold Rush fame, who settled in the community in 1873.

The early town had the Brothers' House for the males, the Sisters' House for the women, a grist mill, a saw mill, a general store, a tavern, an apothecary, and a potash factory.  The town later became the site of the country's first pretzel factory.  The shop still produces some excellent pretzels.  Most activities of daily life were conducted in German as were the diaries of the community.

Because the Brothers' and Sisters' houses had to be self-supporting, each had its own farm.  The houses were also the sources for vocational training.  The Brothers' house could train a young man as a weaver, baker, nail smith, hatter, carpenter, butcher, tailor or shoemaker.  The Sisters' house taught needlework, embroidery, hosiery, and confectionery.

Because of the constant threat of fire, the Aufseher Collegium ruled that pottery shops should be on the south side of the street so that the sparks blew away from the houses.  They created rules governing the location of shops and houses, the location of fireplaces and bake ovens in those buildings and the use and the cleaning of chimneys.  Fire was not to be taken from building to building unless it was in a protected container.  Smoking cigars on the streets was not permitted.  They were even warned of the dangers of cats lying too close to the fireplace.

General George Washington commandeered the Brethren's House as a military hospital from 19 Dec 1777 until 28 Aug 1778.  The building was over-crowded with 500-1,000 wounded, cared for by two doctors.  One hundred ten soldiers died and were buried in a plot east of town.  In 1778 Dr. William Brown, Physician General of the Continental Army Hospital at Lititz, wrote the first pharmacopoeia (medical encyclopedia) published in America.

The caring for the Continental forces did much to firm the Moravian sentiment for the American cause.  The cause of these suffering men slowly became a shared belief.

The present church, the fifth place of worship, was built in 1787.  It was remodeled in 1857 when the vestibule and pulpit recess were added.

The closed settlement plan was dropped on 23 Jul 1855, allowing outsiders into the community.  The city is located in the heart of Amish and Mennonite country.