Tulpehocken Manor's rich origins start as early as 1700's with Christopher Ley and a land grant from the sons of William Penn. It was later sold to his son Michael Ley, an officer of the Continental Army, at which point it was believed that George Washington had visited and stayed at the manor on three occasions. The visits are believed to be between 1777 and 1794. The first time, when at Valley Forge, he came here to rest and to hunt. The other two times he came to inspect the first four locks of the Union Canal which were being built on the property. It is now compromised of 9 buildings on 16.5 acres located 5 miles east of Lebanon, Pa and 2 miles west of Myerstown Pa. Of the original seventeen buildings making up the Ley and Spangler properties there are eight still in existence which now makes up Tulpehocken Manor. More information can be found below on these buildings:

 

 

Additional information on the Ley, Urich and Spangler families:

The history of the plantation begins with Christopher Ley, who arrived in Philadelphia with a group of Palatine pilgrims on the ship "Loyal Judith" in September, 1732. He signed his name "Georg Christoph Lay" on the qualification papers in the Philadelphia courthouse on September 25, 1732. On the ship's passenger list his name is given as Christopher Lay age 37. From Philadelphia he came to the beautiful and fertile valley named Tulpehocken by the Indians.

 

Ley took up a tract of land, supposedly 1,000 acres in Kingston Manor. Ley's land was part of a grant which was left in the last Will of William Penn in 1711 to John, Thomas and Richard Penn.

 

The old cote, or sheep haus, southwest of the 129 foot bank barn at Tulpehocken Plantation is believed to be the first house erected on the property; also believed to be the house in which Christopher Ley lived while he built the barn and his one story stone house over the spring. It was some time between 1732 and 1741 that he built the limestone arched home over the spring which was the maternal branch of the Tulpehocken Creek. This building, with the large arch through its center, is a perfect example of Germanic Swiss Bank architecture. The second story was added at a later date, but believed to have been in the 1839-1850 era.

 

Christopher Ley died about 1741 leaving no Will. His son, Michael, an officer of the Continental Army, bought the estate on November 6, 1760 for 680 pounds. In 1769 Michael and his wife, Eva Magdalina Lauer Ley, built an eight room stone Colonial home of Germanic architecture on the northwest lawn of the Christopher Ley house.

 

George Washington visited the house three known times; once to hunt and rest, and twice after that to inspect the locks being constructed on the property for the Union Canal. He reputedly slept in the southeast room on the second floor of the manor.

 

The Leys contributed heavily to the support of Washington's troops while at Valley Forge. They also speculated in coal and incurred heavy losses. The property was heavily mortgaged and eventually Michael's son, Christian, lost it, being unable to pay taxes on the coal lands. They became Railroad property on sheriff sale.

 

Conrad Loos bought the sheriffed Ley plantation land in 1834. His daughter, Elizabeth, married Cyrus Sherk in 1845. Their daughter, Eliza, married Samuel Urich. He purchased the property from his father-in-law and immediately turned it over to his wife. The Urichs moved in the Christopher Ley house and began to enlarge and restore the manor from 1883-1885, thus changing the eight room home into a 27 room Victorian manor house, with spacious porches and a mansard roof. The Urichs maintained the farm and worked the quarry until it was no longer feasible. The Urich family also acquired the two oldest Spangler houses to the east, and a portion of the Spangler land. Michael Spangler and his family came to America from Germany in the early 1700's and purchased 140 acres of land near the Ley property. The Spangler house, like the Christopher Ley house, was built over the spring. The house directly north of the Michael Spangler house was the home of George Spangler, his son.

 

In 1886 the Urichs built the little frame house on the west lawn of the Michael Ley house. It became known as the Cyrus Sherk Pipe Smoking House, as it was built as a place for Eliza Urich's father to smoke his favorite corn-cob pipe without having the strong odor in the newly restored manor. All this is part and parcel of what is now Tulpehocken Manor Plantation, an outstanding tourist attraction of Lebanon County.

 

The plantation remained in the Urich family until 1960, when it was sold to John S. Nissly, his daughter Esther E. Nissly and James W. Henry.

 

All information expressed hereon has been found through literature, web sites and stories told. This site is a compilation of all of that info, while some of it cannot be proved some of it has been adopted as truth.

 

 

 

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