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Tri-County Heritage Library vertical files

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Held at: Tri-County Heritage Library [Contact Us]P.O. Box 36, Geigertown, PA, 19523

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Tri-County Heritage Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The region of southeastern Pennsylvania where southern Berks, northern Chester, and eastern Lancaster counties meet is known locally as the "Tri-County" area. Chester County was established by William Penn in 1682 as one of the three original Pennsylvania counties. Lancaster County was established in 1729 from the western part of Chester County and Berks County was established in 1752 from the northern section of Chester County as well as parts of Lancaster and Philadelphia Counties.

The Tri-County area was first settled by Welsh immigrants who migrated westward from the Welsh Tract region around Radnor, PA in the early 1700s. While the area was largely agricultural, it also developed into an important early industrial corridor. The settlers established iron forges and furnaces as well as wool, paper, grist, and saw mills along the banks of the French and Conestoga creeks. The region also included mines for iron ore, copper, Kaolin (clay), and limestone quarries, which contributed to its industrial growth.

As forests were cut to produce charcoal to fuel the furnaces and forages, the landscape became more agricultural, with large farms established by the Germans who began migrating to the area in the early to mid-eighteenth century. Irish and Scottish settlers also came, purchasing large tracts of land for farming, as well as working in the mines and quarries.

In the early twenty-first century, the Tri-County area is a mix of farmland, industry, and suburban real estate development. The eastern part of Lancaster County consists primarily of rural communities of Amish and Mennonite farmlands, where tourism is also a major industry. The southern region of Berks County continues as an agricultural center, although in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century period Berks County experienced an era of industrial growth, particularly the area along Schuylkill River around the City of Reading. Northern Chester County remains largely agricultural with areas of industry and suburban development.

The Tri-County region is home to several historic sites, including Joanna Furnace, Geiger Mill, and several historic homesteads and districts. French Creek Valley, home to Hopewell Furnace, is located in both Berks and Chester Counties. The Tri-County Heritage Library was originally established in 1970 as the Morgantown/Caernarvon Historical Society, focusing on a smaller area within the region. The organization later broadened its geographic area of focus and in 1990 was incorporated as the Tri-County Heritage Society. The society's mission was to collect, preserve and disseminate the history that relates to the people, properties and events of Berks, Chester and Lancaster Counties. In 2024, the Tri-County Heritage Society was disbanded and their assets, including their archival collections, were transfered to the Hay Creek Valley Historical Association. The library is now called The Tri-County Heritage Library

Bibliography:

County of Berks, Pennsylvania. "Berks County Background." Accessed November 4, 2015. http://www.co.berks.pa.us/Pages/BerksCountyBackground.aspx.

ExplorePAhistory.com. "Chester County Historical Marker." Accessed November 4, 2015. http://explorepahistory.com/hmarker.php?markerId=1-A-1A.

LancasterHistory.org. "Overview of Our County and Region." Accessed November 4, 2015. http://www.lancasterhistory.org/learn/overview-of-our-county-region.

Tri-County Historical Society. "About Us: A Brief History of the Tri-County Area." Accessed November 4, 2015. http://www.tricountyheritage.org/aboutus.html.

This collection consists of vertical files on families, churches, cemeteries, and other topics relating to Chester, Berks, Lancaster, and other Pennsylvania counties. The collection is organized into seven series: Series I. Family histories, Series II. Chester County cemetery and church records, Series III. Berks County cemetery records, Series IV. Lancaster County cemeteries, Series V. Other county cemetery and church records, Series VI. Topical files, Series VII. Jane Evans Best research on Welsh families.

Series I. Family histories consists of files organized alphabetically by family surname. The contents of each file varies, but most include photocopies of published materials and primary-source documents, handwritten notes, family histories (handwritten and typed by a family member), and correspondence related to family research. Some of the family histories in this series are published. Only a few of the files have recent original photographs. The Morgan family is particularly well-represented. A portion of the family histories that do not fit in the vertical file storage are located on wooden shelves in the library.

Series II. Chester County cemetery and church records, Series III. Berks County cemetery records, Series IV. Lancaster County cemeteries, and Series V. Other county cemetery and church records consists of files organized alphabetically by church or cemetery name. The contents of each file varies, but examples of materials in these files include burial listings with dates (if known); church histories; photocopies of primary source documents related to churches, cemeteries, and burials; and typed lists of births, marriages, baptisms, and burials from church records. Series V. Other county cemetery and church records contains materials related to Montgomery, Philadelphia, Dauphin, Mifflin, and other Pennsylvania counties. Also in this series is a file with bound photocopies of Quaker records (births, marriages, deaths, etc.) related to the Tri-County area. A portion of the church and cemetery records that do not fit in the vertical file storage are located on wooden shelves in the library.

Series VI. Topical files consists of files organized alphabetically by topic. Examples of topics include agriculture, banks, cannons, Hopewell Furnace, masons, Old Parkerford, Wilmington Railroad, Twin Valley School District, Welsh Settlement, Warwick Township, and other subjects. The content of each file varies, but can include photocopies of published materials and primary-source documents as well as newspaper clippings. A small number of files have printed matter such as booklets.

Series VII. Jane Evans Best research on Welsh families contains files with research pertaining to members of the Evans family, as well as research on Welsh families in various PA counties. The files contain photocopies of published materials and primary-source documents, as well as handwritten notes.

Materials collected over time from various sources

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 as part of a project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Tri-County Heritage Library directly for more information.

Publisher
Tri-County Heritage Library
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
Sponsor
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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