Welcome to The Friends of Light’s Fort Committee

Welcome to The Friends of Light’s Fort Committee

Welcome to The Friends of Light’s Fort CommitteeWelcome to The Friends of Light’s Fort CommitteeWelcome to The Friends of Light’s Fort Committee

The Oldest Structure in Lebanon City Circa 1742

Property of the Historic Preservation Trust of Lebanon County


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 The Friends of  Light’s Fort Committee is part of the Historic Preservation Trust of  Lebanon County.  Its efforts are to preserve and restore the historic  Light’s Fort in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.   This site has information on  the fort's history, current restoration efforts as well as the  committee's work. 

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How We're Helping

We are a community-based organization focused on helping make the world around us a better, happier place. With the help of our tireless staff, we organize fundraisers, exciting community-building events, and in-depth training sessions for our volunteers.

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Whether you help through monetary donations, volunteering your time, or spreading our mission through word-of-mouth, thank you. We couldn't accomplish our goals without the help of supporters like you. 


This photo shows the fort c. 1910.  The photo was found on an old postcard marked "

History of Light's Fort

 John Light  (Johannes Licht), Immigrant, purchased the land on December 29, 1738,  from Caspar Wistar, and wife, Katherine, of the City of Philadelphia,  Brass Button Maker, for 82 pounds and 4 shillings. The Tract of land on  which Light’s Fort was built, in 1742, was situated on a branch of the  Quittapahilla Creek in Lancaster County (now Lebanon County) at 11th and  Maple Streets. It contained 274 acres including an allowance of 6% for  roads together with woods, water courses, etc.

II Henry Light,  the youngest son of John the Immigrant, received the western part of the  homestead, the part on which was the “Old Fort.” It seems to have been a  common thing, if not a rule with the early Lights, to give the  homestead to the youngest son. Henry married Barbara Landis. He was a  farmer and like his brothers, prospered. He was a soldier in the  Revolution – “Henry Light, Sr. in Captain John Stone’s Co., the 6th,  2nd Bat. of Lancaster Co. Militia, 5th class.” His second son, John, was  in the same company and his first son, III Henry light, Jr. was in  Capt. Henninger’s Company. His other sons were too young for service. He  and his family were likely Mennonites, though liberal, not lacking in  religion, but not as dedicated as his brother John, Jr. Henry Light (II  generation) had 9 children. The youngest son was Joseph (1778-1854),  known as “Big Joseph” was the third Light to occupy the “Old Fort,” now  containing about 155 acres. III Joseph was married 3 times, first to IV  Maria Meyer, (1795-1823) 3 children; secondly to her sister, Sara Meyer  (1808-1854) 3 children; thirdly to Catherine Light nee Spickler  (1806-1854) 3 children. Big Joseph was not only big in body but also big  in ability to manage and acquire as proved by his extensive holdings  and as revealed in his will. During his time the iron industry was  installed on the land of the homestead. He sold 40 acres to Robert  Coleman on the North Side.

Big Joseph willed the homestead to IV  Daniel Light, the youngest son of his first wife, Maria Meyer. IV Daniel  (1818-1865) was married to Barbara Sholly. Daniel was a farmer and  horse dealer. He built the large brick house beside the Old Fort, dealt  extensively in mules, selling to Canal Men and to farmers. His frame  mule-shed, 100 feet in length, extended along the west side of Fall  Alley (now North Jones Street) on the north from the drive to “Old  Fort,” from 10th Street to Water Street on the south. The mules were  herded, not stalled, in the building. The shed, opened in the Alley, had  old time doors sawed horizontally through the middle. The barn of the  “Old Fort” was south of the house, the stables facing south. On the west  side was a frame wagon shed. The way (path 1 from the house to the  stables was on the east side of the barn. First on the east were the cow  stables, then the place for the large cider-press, and to the west, the  horse stables.

The large orchard was south of the barn (Orchard  Avenue derived its name from this orchard) and west of the mule shed,  and extended south to the family cemetery, which for a period, became  the cemetery of Salem United Brethren Church in the area of 11th and  Monument Streets. The bodies have since been exhumed and removed to the  Ebenezer Cemetery in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. “And the apples”  explained old VI Jacob Light Kimmel. “I wish I could show those apples  to the people today; Focht apples, pound apples, spice apples,  sheep-nose sweet and sheep-nose red, little red sweet apples, and Rambo  apples”! The apple orchard has given way to the Children’s Playground  (now the Lebanon Athletic Association or L.A.A. playground at 11th and  Guilford Streets) and to houses farther south.

V Joseph Gingrich  (1816-1892) of Dauphin County, married to Catherine Sergen (1831-1882)  the son of Nancy Anne Meyer (1787-1845) and John Gingrich (1781-1862)  Purchased a half interest of the Old Fort from IV Daniel Light in 1851.  In 1864 V Joseph Gingrich bought out Daniel’s remaining interest of 23 ½  perches. The Old Fort in 1930 was owned by Joseph’s son David Cameron  Gingrich. Thus ends 109 consecutive years of occupancy by the Light  family in this house. – excerpts from the Reverend J. G. Francis’ book,  “The History of the Light Family.”