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Sunday, August 13, 2017

The "Preserving Our Native American Heritage In Manheim, PA" Story

The Kreider Farm tower
It was an ordinary day.  Searching field after field in the area near the Kreider Homestead for the grave of two Indians who died years ago and were buried in the fertile farmland in the area surrounding the small town known as Manheim, Pennsylvania.  It was about a year ago that I traveled to Kreider Farms for a tour of their farm where they raise cows and supply many with milk and milk products.  As I climbed to the top of the tower they had recently completed, I noticed something off in the distance; in a field to the north of the tower.  Looked like a colored design that reminded me of a Indian design.  Wasn't long after that I read of a Lancaster native who had taken it upon himself to save the grave site of two Native Americans who lived their last years on a farm near Manheim.  
My search began on Indian Village Road
The married couple were Conestoga Indians who had lived in Manor Township, an area to the southwest of Manheim.  They had left Manor Township a few years before the Paxton Rangers, later known as the Paxton Boys, who had traveled to Lancaster County from along the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania to retaliate against local American Indians in the aftermath of the French and Indian War.  They did manage to kill six natives in Manor Township and then followed 14 more into Lancaster where they broke into the jail, where the Indians had sought refuge from the group, and killed the last 14 Conestogas.  They had heard of the two who had sought refuge in Manheim and tried to find them.  The two Native Americans, husband and wife Michael and Mary, had moved to the farm of Christian Hershey, a Mennonite farmer and ancestor of Milton Hershey, founder of the chocolate empire.  
I first stopped at the Kreider grave site, then discovered
that the gravesite I was after was back a road by this sign.
The Hershey's hid the two in the basement of their home until the Paxton Boys had left the area.  They then lived on the land in a wigwam or hut for the remainder of their lives while working on the farm.  One of the Hersheys married a Kreider and the land on which they died became part of the Kreider Farm.  Well, as I climbed the tower on the Kreider Farm last year and saw the colored sign, I knew someday I would have to see what that might be.  
I parked my car and walked back past the corn.  On the
right is a small stream.
Then I read that the sign was placed there, on the Kreider Farm, by a fellow named Art Young.  He too had read about Michael and Mary and had taken it upon himself to make their final resting place into a Native American shrine.  Worked with the Kreiders and after discovering the burial site, built a wooden pole enclosure around the burial site to avoid it from being farmed.  
I finally discovered this site.  The sign is the Native American
butterfly symbol I had seen a year ago from the tower.
He cleared the site of weeds, placed four stones on the corners of the site and fashioned a traditional Native American butterfly symbol in bright red, yellow, green and black on a white frame.  That was the same frame that I saw from the tower.  My first try to find the site ended in failure.  I did find a burial site, but it happened to be the Kreider family graveyard.  
A closer look at the burial site.  The square on the grass
is the site where the two graves are located.  The tall
wooden posts are to tell farmers of the grave site.
I placed a call to the farm and was told how to find the site and on my second try found the plot in the middle of a field of corn; along a meandering creek.  Walked the hundred yards through cornfields and found the sight.  Mr. Young has done an excellent job of preserving the burial site of the final two Conestoga Indians known in this area.  And, the marker is a beautiful memento to honor the memory of these two humans.  As I stood in the corn field, corn tassels towering above me, with the sound of running water nearby, I could see why these two Native Americans chose this peaceful arena to escape the terror in their life.  May they forever est in Peace!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

A better view of the butterfly.

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