History of Reamstown

Eberhard Ream (Johann Eberhardt Riehm 1687-1779) of Leimen, Germany came to America in 1717 and settled at what is now Reamstown in 1723 or 1724.  The land was originally conveyed to Eberhard by primal patents signed by William Penn, through his son, Thomas, after Eberhard had obtained the consent of the Cocalico Indian tribe to settle in their midst.  He was the pioneer in what later became Cocalico Township.  His nearest white neighbors were 12 miles away.  Others followed and by 1732 a Lutheran and Reformed Church was established at Muddy Creek.  In 1745 the first school house was built there.

When the early settlers arrived, this community was part of Chester County.  Lancaster County was created in May, 1729, and a month later, June 9, 1729, at a meeting of “Magistrates and Inhabitants of said county”, the boundaries of the townships were determined.  Cocalico Township was not on the original list; however, in the fall of 1729, the Magistrate appointed a constable and overseer of the poor for Cocalico Township, so it was evidently established in the fall of that year.

It is said that the name ‘Cocalico’ is a corruption of the Indian name Koch-Hale-Kung, which means a cave or den of serpents, and that an abundance of these reptiles along the creek suggested the name of the creek and the name of the township.

In 1815, Cocalico Township lost some territory to Elizabeth Township (which became part of the present Clay Township in 1853).  In 1838 the Township of Cocalico was divided into East Cocalico, West Cocalico, and Ephrata Townships.

This village, now in East Cocalico Township, was laid out by Tobias Ream in 1760 on land obtained the previous year from his parents, Eberhard and Elizabeth Ream.  The town was name Zoar, a name originally given to this section of the country by the leaders of the Ephrata Cloister.  As early as 1772, the name Reamstown came to be used by the Reams themselves in the writing of deeds.  It was called Reamstown in the reports sent out from the Revolutionary Hospital in 1778 and when the post office was established in 1803.

During the Revolution, Reamstown served as one of a number of field hospitals for the wounded following the Battle of Brandywine on September 11, 1777. A dozen or more of these troops died here and are buried in unmarked graves in the Salem Evangelical Cemetery. The cemetery is also home to a large boulder that once served as a mortar and pestle by the Indians who lived on nearby Ephrata Mountain. It was transported to Reamstown by Pierce Lesher and today a plaque on the stone details both the Native American and military history.

Excerpts taken from the Reamstown Bicentennial Book, Historical Sketch of Reamstown, Pennsylvania (1952), and Wikipedia.

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