As developed and revised by the Friends of Old Annville
Although Native Americans used Lebanon Valley for hunting, it was Scotch-Irish tenants who first put up log cabins along the Quittapahilla. They soon made way for Germans from Schoharie, New York and from the Palatinate. In 1747 Andrew Miller, himself a miller, bought 232 acres from what had been part of William Penn’s original purchase. His son Abraham laid out town in 1762, with King and Queen Streets as principle. Another miller, Abraham Raiguel, and a farmer named Adam Ulrich then added their lands, and the town grew. County records from the end of eighteenth century identify 232 taxpayers, the vast majority of whom communicated in German. German would remain the dominant language until the mid-nineteenth century. In 1845, 308 taxpayers divided the area into North Annville and South Annville, and in 1908 Annville was designated a separate township nestled between North and South.
Increased travel along the Allegheny Trail led to the development of the Berks and Dauphin Turnpike (US 422) in 1817. A street trolley built along this road in 1891 linked Annville with Lebanon and Palmyra. The Lebanon Valley Railroad arrived in 1857 before the automobile steadily took over.
From the start, the town offered the usual agricultural services–wheelwrights, millers, blacksmiths. Weaving began as early as 1768, and in 1812 a cotton and woolen factory was erected northwest on “the Quittie.” The textile industry continued at the Daisy Shirt factory (1890) and A. R. Kreider’s hosiery factory (1900) and through the twentieth century at the K.X.C.F. factory on South Lancaster Street. Bakeries were virtually continuous from Heilman Brothers to Fink’s, Shenk’s and the Pennway. The first shoe factory appeared in the mid-nineteenth century, followed in 1895 by the massive A. S. Kreider shoe factory at Railroad and Sheridan Streets, employing more than 700 people. Millard quarries attracted Italians and Austrians to Annville in the early twentieth century.
Lebanon Valley College began in 1866 as the first co-ed college in Pennsylvania when the old Annville Academy was sold to the United Brethren Church. Though few of the early buildings remain, the beautifully maintained buildings and grounds of the college have expanded on both sides of the train tracks.
In 1804, the Lutheran and Reformed congregations who had been worshipping together north of town jointly erected Jerusalem Church, now the site of Christ Church United Church of Christ. In 1860 the United Brethren built the church at 118 West Main St. before moving nearer to the College and building “one of the most imposing and beautiful churches to be found anywhere” per the Lebanon Evening Report. Their former home has since served Roman Catholic and Coptic Orthodox congregations.
With the reopening of the town theater in 1995 as “The Allen,” the town experienced a renaissance of sorts. An ambitious streetscape project in the early 2000s, followed by the development of the north side of the first block of East Main Street, has revitalized Annville in recent years.
Largely based on the following sources:
Bierman, E. Benjamin. “A Visit to Annville sixty years ago” 1899 in Lebanon County Historical Society.
Fullmer, Paul M. Annville Township, 2011.
Kreider, Anna. “Annville Landmarks,” a paper read at the Home Study Circle, Nov. 30, 1962.
Richter, Kreiser, and Streicher, A Pictorial History of Annville, 1987.
Shenk, Hiram. A History of the Lebanon Valley in Pennsylvania, 1930.
Warner, Joseph. “Annville: Township and town, Part I and II,” 1909, 1910 in Lebanon County Historical Society.