Jack Brubaker

Jack Brubaker

You may remember a story about Lancaster County buggy crashes that LNP published in early August. It included a map showing where the 468 buggy crashes with injuries and deaths occurred during the past decade.

Crashes were concentrated in the middle and eastern section of the county, of course, with a significant number of crashes also in the southern end and in the northeast.

No serious crashes apparently occurred in three areas — the extreme north (Clay and Elizabeth townships), the extreme northwest (Conoy, Mount Joy, and East and West Donegal townships) and the west (Manor, Conestoga and Pequea townships).

The Scribbler assumed the lack of crashes indicated sparse Amish populations in those areas. True, to a point, says an Amish informant.

Amish are moving into or close to those sections, he says, but may not have been there long enough to register serious road incidents.

Clay Township has a relatively new Amish church district. Amish also are moving into West Hempfield and Rapho townships, adjacent to the northwestern townships. Amish have moved into Conestoga and Pequea townships. One Amish family lived in Manor Township but left several years ago.

As for why the northern townships have fewer buggy accidents, the informant suggests, “Either the people up there don’t drive so rambunctious or there aren’t so many people driving.”

Why does Manor Township have no Amish settlers? The River Brethren and Mennonites own many farms in Manor, the informant says, so the Amish have not been able to sustain a settlement of their own.

Tent revivals

Two weeks ago, this column discussed Lancaster’s 19th century “commons.” It was an open area in the city’s east end where people gathered to enjoy circuses and other entertainment and to hear speakers on a variety of subjects.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Black Lancastrians marched from Bethel AME Church on East Strawberry Street to the commons to celebrate the ratification of the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, the amendment that enfranchised Black men.

The column was uncertain precisely where the commons was located. It turns out the “possible site” marked on the map that ran with that column may well be correct. That was an area north of East Chestnut Street that has been occupied since 1905 by the J. Walter Miller Co. brass foundry.

Herb High, of Lancaster, says that site must have remained at least partially open in the 1950s. George and Lawrence Brunk, of Harrisonburg, Virginia, held a tent revival there in June and July of 1951.

The Brunk revival was staged across the street from the East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church at 432 E. Chestnut. Nearly 2,000 people showed up for the first night’s service on June 3. About half that many could squeeze into a huge tent set up in the block occupied by the J. Walter Miller Co. at 411 E. Chestnut.

There wasn’t enough space for all those people, so after five weeks the services moved to the old Lancaster Airport. An estimated 15,000 people attended the revival on its final night, July 22.

According to a brief history written by the Pilgrim Mennonite Conference, these revivals affected thousands. Mennonite farmers reportedly plowed up fields of tobacco. Others threw cigarettes, whiskey, playing cards and jewelry into a Brunk container marked “Offering to Baal.”

The Brunks traveled all over the country. The tent revivals tapered off and concluded with a week-long revival at Landisville in 1982.

Jack Brubaker, retired from the LNP staff, writes “The Scribbler” column every Sunday. He welcomes comments and contributions at scribblerlnp@gmail.com.

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