Paxtang, Pennsylvania

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Paxtang, Pennsylvania
Paxtang Presbyterian Church on an old postcard
Paxtang Presbyterian Church on an old postcard
Location in Dauphin County and state of Pennsylvania.
Location in Dauphin County and state of Pennsylvania.
Coordinates: 40°15′39″N 76°50′02″W / 40.26083°N 76.83389°W / 40.26083; -76.83389Coordinates: 40°15′39″N 76°50′02″W / 40.26083°N 76.83389°W / 40.26083; -76.83389
Country United States
State Pennsylvania
County Dauphin
Settled 1722
Incorporated 1914
 • Type Borough Council
 • Total 0.4 sq mi (1 km2)
Elevation 371 ft (113 m)
Population (2000)
 • Total 1,570
 • Density 3,753.6/sq mi (1,449.3/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 717

Paxtang is a borough in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, United States. The borough is a suburb of Harrisburg and is one of the earliest colonial settlements in South Central Pennsylvania.


Paxtang dates to the 18th century when Euro-American settled at the site of the Conestoga village of “Peshtank”. Peshtank means “still waters”[citation needed]. Several important trails and routes crossed the area. William Penn purchased the area known as Paxtang, or Paxton.[citation needed] The population was 1,570 at the 2000 census.

Paxtang is the site where Presbyterian Scots-Irish frontiersmen organized the Paxton Boys, a vigilante group that murdered twenty Native Americans in the Conestoga Massacre. On December 14, 1763, more than fifty Paxton Boys rode to the settlement near Millersville, PA, murdered six Natives, and burned their cabin. Governor John Penn placed the remaining fourteen Conestogas in protective custody in Lancaster, but the Paxton Boys broke in, killed, and mutilated all fourteen people on December 27, 1763. In January 1764, 140 Natives living peacefully in eastern Pennsylvania fled to Philadelphia for protection. The Paxton Boys marched on Philadelphia in January 1764 with about two-hundred and fifty men. British troops and Philadelphia militia prevented them from doing more violence.

Old Paxton Church[edit]

Paxtang is home to the Old Paxton Church, one of the earliest in the area. Built in 1740 the church is the oldest Presbyterian Church building in continuous use in Pennsylvania, and the second oldest in the United States. In 1726, the Rev. James Anderson of Donegal, Pennsylvania, became the first regular preacher. The history of the church is interwoven with the history of central colonial Pennsylvania.

In 1732, the congregation was officially organized as a Presbyterian Church by the Presbytery of Donegal, with the Rev. William Bertram as the first installed pastor. The Rev. John Elder, the "Fighting Parson," became pastor in 1738. He was pastor during the French and Indian, and Revolutionary Wars, and served as a commissioned officer. Many pastors have served long pastorates; the terms of four of its ministers totaling 140 years.

The present stone sanctuary was erected in 1740, replacing a log meeting house which had previously served as the place of worship. A stone marker south of the sanctuary indicates the site of the log building. A replica of the log meeting house was erected north of the present sanctuary.

Adjacent to the church is a historic cemetery. Here lie the bodies of soldiers of the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and both World Wars. People who molded the early religious and political character of America are buried here, including John Harris II, the first United States Senator from Pennsylvania, William Maclay, as well as four of the six commissioners who planned the town of Harrisburg with him in 1785. Ministers, legislators, farmers, teachers, men of affairs, and even a few family slaves are buried here

For detailed information about the church, a 200-page book A History of Paxton Church, written by the Pastor Emeritus, Dr. Morton Glise, is available for purchase from the Church.


Paxtang is located at 40°15′39″N 76°50′2″W / 40.26083°N 76.83389°W / 40.26083; -76.83389 (40.260760, -76.833782).[1]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 0.4 square miles (1.1 km²), all of it land.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 822
1930 1,594 93.9%
1940 1,707 7.1%
1950 1,857 8.8%
1960 1,916 3.2%
1970 2,039 6.4%
1980 1,649 −19.1%
1990 1,599 −3.0%
2000 1,570 −1.8%
2010 1,561 −0.6%
Est. 2014 1,542 [2] −1.2%

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 1,570 people, 670 households, and 438 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,753.6 people per square mile (1,443.3/km²). There were 703 housing units at an average density of 1,680.8 per square mile (646.3/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 88.54% White, 6.37% African American, 0.13% Native American, 1.53% Asian, 1.66% from other races, and 1.78% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.01% of the population.

There were 670 households, out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.7% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.5% were non-families. 30.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.91.

In the borough, the population was spread out, with 24.4% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 29.9% from 25 to 44, 24.4% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 87.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.3 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $46,250, and the median income for a family was $54,412. Males had a median income of $36,389 versus $29,712 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,217. About 3.4% of families and 4.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.7% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.


Children in the borough attend public school in the Central Dauphin School District.

See also[edit]