(this page is a work in progress)
The Lawrence family appears to have resided in Menallen township (now Adams County) since York County began in 1750. However, documents I’ve found trace John Lawrence to Lancaster County, (what York County and surrounding areas was before 1750), as early as 1729/1730. From History of Lancaster County: To which is Prefixed a Brief Sketch of the Early History of Pennsylvania, page 253:
From the online version of A Brief History of Lancaster County :
FIRST LICENSES GRANTED.
In November, 1730, the county court at Lan- caster allowed the petition of thirteen persons who asked to be licensened as Indian traders.
*The Indian traders were James Patterson, Edmund Cartlidge, Peter Chartiere, John Lawrence, Jonas Davenport, Oliver Wallis, Patrick Boyd, Lazarus Lowry, William Dunlap, William Bes- wick, John Wilkins, Thomas Perrin and John Harris.
John Lawrence, Joseph Lawrence’s father, was one of the original “Overseers of the Poor” for Menallen. Per History and Directory of the Boroughs of Gettysburg, Oxford, Littlestown, York Springs, Berwick, and East Berlin, Adams County, Pa:
John Lawrence is also listed as one of the attorneys present at the opening of the first court held in York County, from History of York County Pennsylvania:
Page from the Index to Adams County Pennsylvania Septennial Census 1779-1821:
According to the above information, John Lawrence was around for the 1772 census but not in 1777, and am assuming he died in between this 5 year period.
Documents purchased from the York County Archives:
There are variations of the Lawrence family story, such as G. V. Lawrence, p. 94 which claim that Joseph Lawrence died in Adams, then York County, Pennsylvania, and his widow travelled via horseback with their multiple children:
Those of that name who became prominent in Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania are supposed to have sprung from the brothers who came from England at an early day. A son of one of these settled in Adams county, Penn., about the year 1770, where he afterward died, leaving a family of ten children. About the year 1788 his widow, with this large family, came over the mountains when there was only a pathway, the mother carrying the youngest son, Joseph (then three years old), on her knee on horseback. They settled on a small farm on the headwaters of Pigeon creek, eight miles east of Washington, in a cabin, and here the family seven daughters and three sons grew up.
Another erroneous page listed in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (which references Joseph Lawrence II):
LAWRENCE, Joseph, (father of George Van Eman Lawrence), a Representative from Pennsylvania; born near Hunterstown, Adams County, Pa., in 1786; moved with his widowed mother to a farm in Washington County in 1789; attended the common schools;
This is not true, and as best I can guess is an erroneous reference to John Lawrence’s widow, Joseph’s mother, based on this information located in Pennsylvania Geneologies: Scotch-Irish and German, though I think the 1789 death date may be based on when Joseph decided to start the process to purchase the land in order to sell it:
Joseph Lawrence c. 1733 – Jan. 1, 1795
Served as a Private in the New Levies Continental Line and also served as a Ranger on the Frontier.
Marker location – Pigeon Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Washington County Pennsylvania.
I had attempted to enhance the picture above versus the one on the website, which I can only assume is a rubbing from the gravestone. At some point, we will hopefully get out to Washington County and take pictures. This indicates that Joseph Lawrence was served in the Revolutionary War as a Private in the New Levies Continental Line. What is a “Ranger on the Frontier”? Per the Pennsylvania state archives website:
Rangers were soldiers who served long periods of enlistment to protect the frontier against Indian incursions.
I have enhanced this image from the original, which was photographed by Greg Kimberley.
When I had contacted a wonderful historian named Pam Nixon from Whispers of the Past Family History Research Service, she was kind enough to transcribe a copy of Joseph Lawrence’s will:
According to the will, Joseph had 9 living children: Agnes, Rebackah, Mary, Jane, Elizabeth, Susannah, John, Joseph and Samuel. Some of Joseph’s descendants went on to become involved in politics.
Joseph Lawrence II was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, then served as Speaker of the House and afterwards state treasurer. He went on to become a United States Congressman, and died in Washington, DC in 1842. From the Historic Congressional Cemetery:
Hon. Joseph Lawrence
(b. 1786 – d. 17 Apr 1842) Range 56 Site 137-140
A Representative from Pennsylvania. Attended the common schools and engaged in agricultural pursuits. Elected to the 19th and 20th Congresses (1825-1829). Elected as a Whig to the 27th Congress and served from 1841 until his death.
One of Joseph Lawrence II’s sons, George Van Eman Lawrence, was also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania. According to this transcription of Historical Review of Dauphin County, it notes of another son of Joseph II, William Caldwell Anderson Lawrence:
He was elected to the Legislature in 1857, 1858 and 1859, and was speaker of the House of Representatives, sessions of 1859 and 1860. He died at Harrisburg, Aapril 21, 1860.
John Lawrence, the son of Joseph Lawrence I, moved to Beaver County and twice represented the county in state legislature in both 1808 and 1813.
Candidates John Lawrence John Saviers Affiliation Republican Federalist Final Result 1083 395 Beaver County 1083 395
Candidates John Lawrence Mendenhall Affiliation Republican Federal Final Result 528 378 Beaver County 528 378
Samuel Lawrence was Beaver County’s second prothonotary, and was twice elected to the state assembly in both 1822 and 1824.
Candidates Samuel Lawrence John Roberts Affiliation Final Result  1199 430
Beaver County 1824 General Election for Assemblyman:
Candidates Samuel Lawrence William Adair Affiliation Final Result 1299 682