The name "Paxton"
has a long history in Pennsylvania and there are two theories
about its origin. The first theory is that it may have
been brought here from Scotland by the Scottish Presbyterian
settlers who settled in the upper area of what was then Lancaster
County. Possibly the name comes from the Latin "pax"
meaning "peace." With the addition of "ton,"
Scottish for "town," the liberal translation can
be "Peace Town."
The second theory is that "Paxton" is a derivation
of the Indian name "Peshtank" which was originally
given to the area by its Indian settlers, the Susquehannocks.
"Peshtank" became "Paxtang" and finally
"Paxton." John Harris, in fact, wrote his
letters from "Paxtang" or "Paxton," not
Harrisburg. This Indian derivation would roughly translate
Paxton Township was created in 1729 within Lancaster County.
Organized long before the City of Harrisburg, it was at that
time about the size of Dauphin County. In the years
after Dauphin County was established, the township was slowly
divided. Hanover Township was cut off the east in 1736
and Upper Paxton Township was cut off the north in 1767.
What remained in 1767 was then renamed Lower Paxton Township.
The divisions continued. Harrisburg Borough (now the
City of Harrisburg) was formed in 1791 and Swatara Township
was created in 1799. In 1878 more land was cut of the north
and became Middle Paxton Township and in 1815 Susquehanna
Township was formed.
Settling within the township during its colonial period were
many German and Scotch-Irish immigrants. They established
several farms and settlements throughout the area which eventually
developed into the township's three villages.
The oldest established village was created in 1765, and named
"The Town of St. Thomas." After its founder,
Thomas Lingle, died in 1811 the name was unofficially changed
to Linglestown, as it is known today.
The Township's other two villages, Paxtonia and Colonial Park,
were developed in the 20th Century.
Paxton Township is well represented in the early history
of our country. Township residents played a major role
During the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War
periods. Forts by the names of Gilchrist, Patton, Barnett,
and Berryhill were located in the valley immediately south
of Blue Mountain, along what is now known as Linglestown Road
(PA Route 39). This road, originally an Indian trail, later
became a major east-west road for settlers traveling to Fort
Hunter (along the Susquehanna River) and beyond.
On Newside Road, just south of Union Deposit Road, is a small
church yard. A tablet erected there in 1924 by the Harrisburg
Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution furnishes
the following information on the early history of the site.
"This tablet marks the site of the Newside
Church Yard given by Captain Joseph Sherer to the congregation
of which the Reverend John Roan was Pastor from 1745 to 1774.
Here lies the pioneers, defenders of the frontier, soldiers
of the French and Indian Wars, the American Revolution and
The War of 1812. This church yard is the symbol to the memorial
of the early history of Lower Paxton Township and the men
who served their country."