Kreider Farms, one of Pennsylvania’s largest egg and dairy farms, has helped to honor an 18th century Native American couple that lived and were buried on Kreider property more than two centuries ago. The couple is documented as the last Conestoga Indians living in Lancaster County, and the story of their escaping massacres that wiped out the remaining Conestoga Indians in the county is a harrowing tale.
Michael and Mary were residents of Conestoga Indian Town near present-day Millersville, Pa. Well before the massacres, they left the town and moved to the farm of Christian and Anna Hershey, ancestors of the founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company. When a Hershey married a Kreider, the Hershey property eventually became a part of Kreider Farms.
Local man and Kreider Farms honor Michael and Mary
Ron Kreider, president of Kreider Farms, had been working with a local historian on the Hershey-Kreider family history and was aware of Michael and Mary’s graves. He had the grave site cleared of debris and, in 2016, met Arthur Young, a local man who had an interest in American Indian history. Young expressed interest in Michael and Mary’s story. He offered to create a permanent memorial for the couple, and he has maintained the site ever since.
In July, Kreider Farms unveiled a sign on the railing of its 100-ft.-tall observation tower, which is located within view of the memorial. The sign tells the story of Michael and Mary and points out the location of their graves. The Kreider observation tower was built from an old grain silo that was moved in May 2016 to its current location from another section of the farm approximately 300 yards away.
Kreider Farms’ car and bus tours and observation tower tours are available Monday through Saturday, and advance reservations are required. For reservations, call Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon, at , or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tours should be scheduled at least three days in advance.
In late 1763, six Native American residents of Conestoga Town were massacred by a vigilante group known as the Paxton Rangers from Dauphin County, Pa. Two weeks later, the Paxton Boys, as they also were known, killed 14 Conestoga Indians who had been moved to a Lancaster workhouse for their protection. When the Paxtons went to the Hersey farm looking for Michael and Mary – the last of the Conestoga tribe – Christian and Anna hid the couple in the cellar under their farm house. When the danger passed, the couple remained on the farm and lived there until their deaths in their late '80s. They were buried on the property near the site of their home.