Tri-County Heritage Society

Tri-County Heritage Society
4979 Twin Valley Rd., Elverson, Pa. 19520

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 352, Morgantown, PA 19543

Phone: 610-286-7477


A Brief History of the Tri-County Heritage Society

Organized in 1970 as the "Morgantown/Caernarvon Historical Society," its purpose was to plan the activities for Caernarvon Township, Berks County's bicentennial celebration. Officers and committees were established to bring about the appropriate festivities for all the celebrations to be held in Morgantown. After the bicentennial celebration and later the Tricentennial celebration, the group of officers establish themselves, with the blessing of the township supervisors, as an all volunteer, nonprofit historical organization to collect, document and preserve the history and heritage of Caernarvon Township, Berks County.

For twenty years the Morgantown/Caernarvon Historical Society fulfilled this goal by researching the area's history and collecting and organizing information directly pertaining to that areas history and heritage. The Society's newsletter, "The LOCAL HISTORIAN," was born out of this effort. It was mailed to all Society members on a bi-yearly basis. This publication, still in existence, is written and published by volunteer Society staff; printing and mailing is funded by local businesses. Membership grew as a result. The LOCAL HISTORIAN publication was increased to a quarterly publication in 199?

Historically significant items with local interest began to be given to the Society and placed on display in the township municipal building. This was the beginning of the Morgantown/Caernarvon Historical Society Museum. The Museum and the organization grew, and larger quarters were needed. In 1989, Morgantown/Caernarvon Historical Society moved into the township building at 8 Mill Road, Morgantown. At the same time the officers were making plans to change the name of the organization and broaden the geographic focus of the society to include the larger area of both the upper Conestoga Creek Valley and the upper French Creek Valley. To reflect this larger focus the name change was accomplished on March 16, 1990, by its incorporation as the "Tri-County Heritage Society."

Tri-County Heritage Society has established a local history reference and genealogy library at their 590 Willow Glenn Road address. This library has been in operation since 1989. It is open to the public on Tuesdays, or by appointment Monday, Thursday and Friday. Librarian, Diane Bowman and others will aid the patrons who visit the library. The library collection includes over one thousand books, magazines, journals and other publications. Information is organized as history or genealogy. The genealogy is accessed topically, alphabetically by surname, or as property files. Maps, microfilm, photographs, and other graphics are archived separately. There is a collection of electronic resources with searchable information and available computers for patrons use. A few large private family collections and a number of small individual collections add to the library's resources.

The Tri-County Heritage Society is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of genealogists, historians and preservationists.  Currently there are 11 members serving on the Board.  They are:

President-Barbara Rutz
Vice President-Calvin Kurtz
Recording Secretary/Webmaster-Don Shaner
Treasurer-Ken Benner
Librarian-Diane Bowman
Membership Chair-Jeanne Pavlesich
Jere Brady
Norm Glass
John Malm
Rebecca Leamy
Pat Drake

Volunteer Staff

Triste Elliot

The Board of Directors currently meets the third Tuesday of every month at 7pm at the Library.

The preservation and maintenance of the Old Welsh Cemetery is an on-going project of the Tri-County Heritage Society. CLICK HERE for the history of the cemetery and the names of those interred there.

A Brief History of the Tri-County Area

The three counties served by Tri-County Heritage Society are Berks, Chester and Lancaster.  They were the first settled by the Welsh who migrated  westward from the Welsh tract at St. David’s, Radnor, in the early 1700s .  Their migration followed the old Indian trails through Tredyffrin, Goshen, Uwchlan, and Nantmeal Townships. 
These settlers harnessed the waters of the French Creek and Conestoga Creek to produce the power needed to operate the iron furnaces and forges, and the woolen, paper, grist, and saw mills.  This development created an early industrial corridor in the twin valley region.

Mines for iron ore, copper, Kaolin (clay), and quarries for limestone flourished. As the forests were cut to produce charcoal to feed the fires of the furnaces and forges and to build houses, the cleared land was purchased and large farms were established by the Germans, who were next to settle here.
 The Scotch/Irish were another early group that followed the Welsh into this area.  They came northward from Delaware and Maryland and found work in the mines and quarries.  They bought large tracts of land to farm and founded the early Presbyterian churches.

Each ethnic group that settled in the tri county area brought its individual talents, abilities, and traditions creating a unique community unlike ant other in Pennsylvania.
The pioneering spirit was shared by entrepreneurs, ironworkers, farmers, and tradesmen alike; their collective efforts have made us who we are.  Tri-County Heritage Society will preserve the legacy of history left behind for all those who follow.

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Updated 2/21/2018