Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Toasting a Town: Linglestown–2 roundabouts, 250 years of history.

Screenshot 2015-08-26 00.00.37 Screenshot 2015-08-26 00.00.29Paulus Lingel came to Philadelphia from the Palatinate region of Germany around 1737. He had 11 children. One of his seven sons was Thomas Lingle.

Through generations of begetting, people today named Lingle, Lengel, Langle and Lingle are linked to their common forebear, Paulus, and to the crossroads town that came to be called after Thomas Lingle. Some now will travel from as far away as California and Colorado to join the celebration of Linglestown’s 250th anniversary from Oct. 9 to 11.

The big birthday bash concludes a year’s worth of events involving Linglestown businesses and residents, as well as people who just appreciate the quaint village on the roundabout.


Floored, Flabbergasted

In 1765, Thomas Lingle, whose father had settled in Berks County, laid out 80 lots and called it the Town of St. Thomas after his namesake, the Apostle Thomas.

It’s not known exactly why Thomas chose this spot. Some of his brothers got land grants from the sons of William Penn. Family historian Thomas Lengle, of Crownsville, Md., says he has no record of Thomas getting a land grant, but it’s possible that he received one, sold the land, and used the proceeds to buy the property that would become his village.

People called the village Lingle’s town. After Lingle’s death in 1811, the name stuck. Today, the actual boundaries of Linglestown are a bit fuzzy. It is a cluster of homes, churches and businesses at the intersection of Route 39 and Colonial Road in Lower Paxton Township. And it is a place that people are passionate about.

“There is the actual historic village area,” says Pam Jones, co-chair with Polly Murphy of Linglestown 250, the celebration committee. “I don’t know there is a boundary. People who live pretty far out on Linglestown Road still think they’re in Linglestown.”

The village has celebrated its founding every 50 years, so, around 2012, the Linglestown Area Civic Association formed the Linglestown 250 Anniversary, a project of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities. The birthday celebration was not to be one blowout event but a series of happenings that spotlight local history and culture, sponsored by a wide range of businesses and individuals.

In fall 2014, the kickoff spaghetti dinner and auction raised a whopping $13,000.

“In one evening, we were floored, just flabbergasted by it,” says Jones. “That got us going. That got our funding absolutely on track.”


Flocking to Town

Since the kickoff, there have been many other activities: a food, wine and beer tasting on the square, ladies’ day at Colonial Golf & Tennis Club, a home and garden show, a dulcimer concert, a Lego show and paintball.

The Linglestown 250 speaker series spotlighted central Pennsylvania abolitionists, Harrisburg trolley cars, frontier forts and “Linglestown Then and Now,” featuring Murphy presenting historic and contemporary photos and researchers Laura Gifford and Denise Deimler on their commemorative book, “250 Years of Linglestown, Pennsylvania.”

Celebration weekend, Oct. 9 to 11, promises many more events.

The festivities begin with a community church service. Then there will be walking tours, a flower show, a 5K race, Civil War reenactors, a Native American settlement, crafts sales and demonstrations, a children’s history hunt and the Popcorn Hat Players, music, a time capsule, firefighters vs. police softball and more music, culminating with fireworks in Koons Memorial Park. Colonial Park Rotary will dedicate its Linglestown Clock in the square, and St. Thomas UCC, where Thomas Lingle is buried, is reviving the Linglestown Fair, originally held in the 1920s.

Then there’s the Linglestown 250 parade.

“I think Polly and I want to take a little rest and vacation on the 12th,” Jones admitted.

Jones and Murphy also created Roundabout after a young volunteer suggested the celebration needed a costumed mascot. A raccoon seemed to be the thing. Roundabout has appeared at schools and fundraisers and at Linglestown’s National Night Out festivities. For Roundabout Around Town, entrants are painting wooden raccoons for display and prizes on celebration weekend.

Screenshot 2015-08-26 00.00.45

“Roundabout will be in the parade,” said Jones. “Any place we’ve been, he’s been there to greet the kids.”

Before Friday’s church service, about 100 descendants of Thomas Lingle and his brothers will dine at the Knights of Columbus. A Lengle will sing during social hour. Organizer Thomas Lengle, the family historian, hopes to line up a Lengle minister for the invocation. Prominent historian Edward G. Lengel of the University of Virginia—a great nephew of Thomas Lingle and an authority on George Washington—will keynote on the Revolutionary War service of Thomas Lingle and his brothers.

The fact that a place bears their name may help explain why people are flocking from all over the country for a village anniversary, says Lengle. He’s also “been surprised by the number of young people that have a total interest in this.”

“A lot of people wanted to know who’s who in the family and how’d we get here, and this is a big opportunity,” he said.

Linglestown 250 organizers hope to capitalize on the spirit stirred up by their celebration. Jones likes the small-town feel of Linglestown and its ever-present history. She and Murphy and the other participants “hope this has captured that energy.”

“We hope the vision has caught on,” she says. “We hope that people will keep the enthusiasm going and make this little village a little more attractive for people coming to town.”

Linglestown 250 will take place Oct. 9 to 11 in and around Linglestown. For schedule, sponsorship and volunteering information, as well as book orders, visit

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