William Penn’s Holy Experiment: Early Cultural Groups Settling in Berks County, Pennsylvania

Loading Events
  • This event has passed.

When looking for settlers to colonize Pennsylvania, William Penn was guided by a “holy experiment,” an attempt by the Religious Society of Friends to establish a community guided by the principle of freedom of religious conscience.  Join the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society for a tour of the Oley Valley that explores the diverse cultural milieu created by Penn’s approach on Saturday, May 19, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Registration costs $100 for Society members and $115 for nonmembers; registration is due by April 19. The tour includes lunch at the historic White Horse Inn at Historic Morlatten.

The Oley Valley region encompasses three townships in eastern Berks County which, by the mid-eighteenth century, was inhabited by German, Swiss, Swedish, English, Welsh, Scots-Irish, and French Huguenot settlers, as well as by slaves, free blacks and Native Americans.  By 1750 a dozen different religious groups practiced their faiths in the region. The region was the home of the Boone and Lincoln families.  Today the region preserves significant examples of Germanic and English colonial architecture.  Oley Township was the first township in the nation that was placed on the National Register for its remarkable state of preservation.

The tour of Oley will discover the rich diversity of the region and will travel through the English and Germanic settled areas, highlighting the historic and architectural gems of the valley, as well as the traditional agricultural and cultural landscapes.  The tour will visit the Daniel Boone Homestead, the Exeter Friends Meeting, and several historic buildings administered by the Historic Preservation Trust of Berks County.

The tour will be led by Jim Lewars, a native of Berks County where he still lives. He has a B.A. and a M.A. from Penn State. In 2017 he retired after 41-plus years working for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. He directed state historic sites for most of those years, including the Conrad Weiser Homestead, the Daniel Boone Homestead, the Ephrata Cloister, and (from 2009 to 2017) the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum. He has studied the history of the Oley Valley and has lectured and led numerous tours through the region. He continues to serve on the board of directors of several historical organizations and volunteers at Landis Valley and at other museums.

Fee charged, advance registration required

May 19 2018


Date: May 19
Time: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Event Categories:


Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society

2215 Millstream Road
Lancaster, PA 17602 United States

+ Google Map