The John Wm. Rauch House (1761, 69 Main Street)



This first business establishment in Lititz was the large brick building erected by Christian Blickensderfer, Sr. He was born in Mannheim, Palatinate, Germany of Mennonite heritage. In 1748 he married Catharine Sherger and with their two children they settled on a farm near Lititz in 1753. In 1761 he built the house at 69 Main Street. Records show that he was a teamster but there was a store of some sort in the building. When he lost his wife in 1778 to camp fever they had seven sons and two daughters. In 1779 he married the widow Barbara Mueller. His son Matthew built the log house at 25 Main Street.

John William Rauch (1790-1863), son of John Henry, became the owner of this building about 1820. He was a confectioner and baker and his products were sold in the store. There were two ovens and a fireplace in the basement of the addition built to the rear of the building. Here the first pretzels in Lititz were baked and sold. There is a story told that Rauch obtained the receipt (recipe) for making soft pretzels from a German peddler in exchange for a meal. One day his baker fell asleep and the pretzels were ruined by overbaking. It turned out that the pretzels were much improved and the hard pretzel of today was born.

In 1814 John William married Barbara Rudy and they had five children. He had two more children to his second wife, Anna Busse, but no children to his third wife, widow Lucetta Wolle.

Henry, son of John William, next took over the bakery, but later sold it to Julius Sturgis in 1861 who then moved the business to 219 Main Street where the first commercial pretzel bakery in America set up for business.


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