As you drive through Lancaster County, you may come across some towns with tongue-and-cheek and just plain wacky names. Or maybe you saw the video of the Chicago news anchor fumbling over the pronunciation of “Lititz”.
How did these names come to be? We’re digging through the history books to find where these unique names originated, giving a rhyme and reason to the names that make us giggle.
The town of Lititz traces its name back to Germany, where the founder – Count Nicholas Ludwig – hailed from. The Count left Saxony, Germany, and settled in this area of the state in 1741 with Moravians who were seeking religious freedom. The name “Lititz” was inspired by a Bohemian Castle near Kunvald that held the name “Litice.”
Resource: Venture Lititz
While this name may make us chuckle, its origins are pretty straight-forward. The town is named after an 18th century inn, located in the town. The owner hung a blue ball on the building, referring to the inn as “The Sign of the Blue Ball.” The name stuck – and the rest is history.
Welcome to Paradise – Paradise, PA that is! Two people, Joshua Scott and Mary Ferree, are commonly credited with the naming of this town. While standing in the middle of the road, Joshua Scott stated that the town should be called Paradise because of the beauty he saw around him.
Mary Ferree’s story, on the other hand, has a little more legend involved. After fleeing France, Ferree and her family received a land grant for the acreage in PA. Her family arrived and lived peacefully among the Native Americans who called this area home. Legend has it that upon arrival, Mary said “this is truly a paradise,” giving the town its name.
There are a couple theories behind this cheeky town name. The first theory comes from an old race track located on Old Philadelphia Pike, called “Entercourse.” Some think that the name “Entercourse” evolved to “Intercourse” and became the town name in 1814.
The second theory stems from the two famous roads that intersected in the town, one running east and west from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and one running from Erie to Wilmington. Because of this, the town was called “Cross Keys” which may have eventually became “Intercourse.”
The third theory concerns the language used during the town’s early days, when the word “intercourse” described fellowship and social support in the community. The town name of Intercourse would have described the comradery of the town.
Resource: Intercourse Heritage Days
Have you heard the saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?” Legend has it that the saying played into this unique town name. Two men were surveying the highway between Philadelphia and Lancaster. Needing a place to stay, they found an inn (a simple log hut), quoted that saying, and stayed for the night. The inn became known as “The Bird-in-Hand,” giving the town its name. The sign outside the inn depicted a man holding a bird, which made it easy for travelers to find.