Peter Bricker and the history of the Brickerville Hotel Part 1 of a 2 part series
Recently, the owners of the Brickerville House Family Restaurant contacted the Lititz Historical Foundation and desired background information on their building. I happily accepted this challenge as I too was curious of the origins of this very charming building.
This article will contain two parts. The first part traces to the early 1700s and focuses on Peter Bricker, the early settler of Brickerville. This will give the reader some background on the area discussed, so they may get a sense of how this area came to be. The second portion will focus on the hotel and eventual general store and restaurant that it became in later years.
Researching this topic proved to be very challenging. I found many conflicting dates, names and ownership records. As with many historical vignettes, dates are approximate. Countless old directories, newspaper articles and other resources were checked several times to ensure accuracy.
His parents originally settled in Frutigen, Switzerland; but facing religious prosecution, they left that area in the late 1680s and settled in Germany. Peter Mylin Bricker was then born in Germany in the year 1700.
Bricker eventually left this area with his wife, Christiana, 29, and their two young daughters, Elizabeth and Anna. They boarded the ship "Pink Plaisance" at Rotterdam in the year 1732. Peter signed his name on the ship’s registry simply as "PB". The family was of the Mennonite faith.
A total of 188 passengers set off that day with Captain John Parrett mastering the vessel. They reached Philadelphia on Sept. 21 of that same year.
On Jan.10 1733, he received a grant of 290 acres of land on what was referred to as "Muehlbach Hills" in Cocalico Twp.; in 1741, he was granted additional acreage which brought his total holdings to over 800 acres.
Part of the latter acreage was known as "The Bricker Tract," which is located in West Cocalico Twp.
His wife, Christiana, died in 1735, and he eventually married his second wife, Elizabeth, in 1737.
In 1759, on his land he built a large sandstone, two and a half story house. It boasted individual clay tiles that covered the roof. It is an outstanding example of 18th century sandstone architecture. The house still stands and is located on Cocalico Road at the northwest corner of Shenk’s Mill Road. The structure is sometimes referred to as "the spotted house" due to the different colors of sandstone that was used to build it.
The house bears this beautiful date stone in German:
Gott gesegne dises haus
Und ales was geget ein und aus;
Gott gesegne die Ehr
Und da zu das ganze lant
Gott alein die ehr, sonst keinen
Menschen mehr, Anno 1759 Jahrs.
Peter Bricker, Elizabeth Brickerin
Translated in English, it reads:
God bless this house
and all that enters or goes out.
God bless all the people,
and also all the land.
To God alone be the honor, and to no one else.
Peter Bricker, Elizabeth Bricker
A marker located in the town of Brickerville states that the area was named after Peter Bricker in 1741, who was an early pioneer of that area who went on to become one of the original settlers of what is now West Cocalico Twp.
Peter Bricker died in 1760 in the area where he lived. He was buried at Kurtz Mennonite Meetinghouse, situated on the original Bricker plantation. The modern day church that is associated with this cemetery is now called Cocalico Church of the Brethren, which lies a very short distance from his homestead. A very modest sandstone marker is located in the place where he is buried.
John Bricker’s Hotel
The Brickerville Family Restaurant, as we know the building today, had early origins in Lancaster County. Early records show that the building was constructed on a tract of land which was warranted to Valentine Stover in 1732. A title, or patent, to this property was then given to Wendel Horning on Jan. 27, 1763.
A letter was examined at the Lancaster County Historical Society in July 2011 that was written by Mary E. Lewis, Decatur, Ill., to a Sophie Bricker, Lititz, in 1927. Lewis mentions her great-grandfather, John Henry Bricker, who came to the United States with his four brothers from Prussia and settled in Lancaster County. She states that John Bricker bought land and built a stone tavern or house. Teamsters would stop there to feed their horses and would remain there overnight early on.
Many years ago, Clyde Groff researched this property including its tax and tavern records; much credit for the following information must be given to him.
The earliest record he could find of the building being used as a tavern existed in 1800 with John Bricker listed as the owner. He concluded that the building was probably erected in 1797 and not 1753 as is commonly believed.
During that time, the property consisted of 95 acres and 30 perches. Groff’s research indicates that John and his wife, Barbara, had five children: Samuel, living in Chester County; Isaac, living in Elizabeth Twp.; Henry, living in Dauphin County; Evan, living in Elizabeth Twp.; and Nancy, living in Elizabeth Twp.
John Bricker is listed as the inkeeper from as early as 1800 to 1844. It seems that he died in 1844 because in 1845 the inn is listed as being in the John Bricker estate.
It is of note to mention that in Ellis and Evans "History of Lancaster County" (1883), it states that Brickerville was actually named after John Bricker, who built the first hotel there which lies at the crossroads of the modern day routes 322 and 501. This structure was located a little over eight miles from Peter Bricker’s sandstone house.
Although they share the same last name, it seems that Peter and John Bricker were not closely related. Originally, this inn served guests who were traveling on the Horseshoe Pike from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. The building proved to be a success with township meetings, voting and public gatherings all taking place there.
In a copy of the Lancaster Examiner newspaper dated March 23, 1842 John Bricker applied for a license to keep a tavern in Elizabeth Twp., Lancaster County.
Again on March 15, 1843, another application to operate a tavern stand was applied for. In an issue of the Lancaster Examiner dated Dec. 18, 1844, Barbara Bricker, his widow, is now applying for a tavern license at this same location for the year beginning 1845. She also applied to renew her license on Dec. 24, 1845, for the year of 1846.
One can come to the conclusion that the building originally started out as an inn only, and later a tavern license was applied for and granted to the applicant, making the hotel also into a tavern.
Eventually, the town of Brickerville blossomed into an attractive and useful place to do business. During different times, the town of Brickerville had a distillery, cigar factories, carpenters, masons, a blacksmith, a physician, farmers and shoemakers — just to name a few.
A lesser known three-story building was constructed directly across the street from the tavern in 1813. It was composed of brick, which originated from the nearby Burkholder farm. This building originally served as the first store in Brickerville. As the town flourished, a need for a post office was determined, and in 1847, Jacob Miller became the first postmaster of Brickerville.
It is interesting to note that the 1864 atlas refers to this structure as "S.H. Miller store and hotel", so it seems that this building also served as a fully-functioning hotel for a brief time. A.B. Reist sold general merchandise here for many years, and during at least 1882, he served as postmaster at this location.
In later years, the store was converted into a private residence. At one point, three different families lived in this building. One of the ladies that lived there was a Mrs. Miley, who sold sugar cookies out front. This building was eventually torn down and the lot was sold with the post office moving across the street to the larger hotel. Presently, this property serves as the Hess convenience store.
Another building that stood across the street and heading west was a private home. This house once stood where the Turkey Hill convenience store is now located. It is stated by more than one person who remembers that this house had a white picket fence situated very close to the road, which was struck and demolished many times by cars traveling too fast.
Bricker’s son, Evan, applied for a license to run the hotel for the year of 1847 in an application dated Dec. 16, 1846. He also applied for and his license was renewed in 1848 in a separate advertisement a year later.
An 1848 sale bill advertised property for sale as "Valuable Merchant and Saw Mills located on the property known as The Speedwell Mills". This advertisement states that the auction will be called at the public house of Evan Bricker.
This article is the first in a two part series by Cory Van Brookhoven. The second part will be in a September issue of the Record. From Brunnerville
to Broad Street By
Cory Van Brookhoven More BRICKERVILLE, page A14