© 2020 by Roots & Wings Research, LLC

  • Kristin Wenger

On the Road


Conestoga wagon [1]


“Is anyone here from the Hersh family?” Art Reist asked. Speaking enthusiastically about the history of the Conestoga wagon to a packed crowd, he seemed almost disappointed when no one raised a hand.


“The Hershes were the very last family to make the Conestoga wagon," he continued. "In fact, one of their wagons is on display at the Landis Valley Museum.” [2]


At that moment, the dots connected in my mind. He was talking about my husband’s 2nd and 3rd great-grandfathers: the Hersh blacksmiths and wheelwrights of New Danville.


As soon as I got home, I opened up the Wenger family history book created 20 years ago and written in Eric’s grandmother’s own hand. [3] I remembered reading about them making various vehicles, of course, but I hadn’t realized their distinction as the final producers of the famous Conestoga wagon.





The photograph below was taken circa 1910 by the Landis brothers (who would go on to create the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum) depicting an early 1800s Conestoga wagon scene. [4]



How fascinating to realize that the Hersh family played a key role in the history of this essential mode of transportation that enabled a growing nation to get on the road!


To read more about the Conestoga wagon, check out these sources:

  • Book: Conestoga Wagon – Masterpiece of the Blacksmith by Arthur L. Reist (1975)

  • Or click here for a brief online synopsis



Sources:

[1] Photograph: http://public.media.smithsonianmag.com/legacy_blog/Wagon.jpg


[2] Art Reist, “The History of the Conestoga Wagon,” presentation at the Lititz Public Library (Lititz, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania), 16 March 2019.


[3] Mary Kathryn (Heller) Wenger et al, Our Heritage scrapbook, 1999.


[4] Photograph: http://explorepahistory.com/displayimage.php?imgId=1-2-118