About Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania
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About Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania

Published at 03/02/2012 13:14:03


About Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania

Bird-in-Hand Pennsylvania is a little unincorporated community that is in Lancaster County. The population of the village is about 300 people, mostly made up of the Amish and the Mennonites. It is mainly a farm community. The areas first inhabitants were the Shawnee and Susquehannock Indians. The first settlers of Bird-in-Hand were the Quakers and Swiss Mennonites with James Smith being the first Quaker to settle there, arriving around 1715. There are many shops that have hand crafted items made by the Amish and the Mennonites. While visiting, you are sure to see a horse drawn buggy carrying an Amish family into town.


The community itself was founded in 1734. The town supposedly got its name when two surveyors were on their way to Lancaster and did not know if they wanted to stop at the hotel, which was owned and operated by William and Dorothy McNabb. One surveyor said to the other” A bird-in-hand is worth two in the bush”, and they decided to stay at the hotel. McNabb’s Hotel became the headquarters for surveyors, instead of them having to go back into Lancaster every night. In 1834 construction began on the 86 mile railroad between Philadelphia and Columbia. Bird-in-Hand was the most important stop along the route from Lancaster to Coatsville.

In 1863, the post office was established as the enterprise Post Office the name was officially changed in 1873 to Bird-in-Hand PA. A musical on Broadway called Plain and Fancy opened in New York in 1955.
The play was about the little unincorporated village and helped the town explode with Pennsylvania Dutch Country tourism. A restaurant named after the play opened in 1960 and is the oldest family style restaurant in the area. Tourism to this day plays a big part of the economics in the community. Many people stop along the way to Lancaster to eat and shop at some of the little shops that are there. Many of the shops have homemade food goods from jams and Jellies to hand made quilts that are still sewn by hand by the Amish women. If you are lucky, you might see a barn rising. A barn rising is when all of the Amish get together at one farm and rebuild a barn by hand. All of the men pitch in and help and the women all cook.


To this day, the Amish keep things very simple. Most of the kids attend a one room school house and most are done with school in the 8th grade. The boys then help their fathers on the farms and are expected to help; there is no asking if they will. Many people would not be able to live in the Amish community. They do not have many electronics, if any at all. They still believe in doing most things the old fashion way and are some of the most modest people on the earth. If you ever get the chance, you should visit this part of the country and see a simpler way of life.