In 1799, just twenty-three years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a court order divided Lower Paxton Township into two equal parts. Swatara was the name chosen for the southern part of the area. The word is thought to be from an Iroquois Indian word meaning "Where we fed on eels." Swatara Township is comprised of 14.6 square miles, equivalent to 9,344 acres.
An atlas of 1875 shows Churchville, New Benton, and Highland Village as population centers. Today we know them as Oberlin, Bressler, and Enhaut, respectively. Wheat and corn fields have become Lawnton, Lenker Manor, Harrisburg Estates, Rutherford Heights, Georgian Manor, Lawnford Acres and Chambers Hill. On April 1, 1911 Swatara obtained First Class Township status with a population of 5,630. According to the 2010 census, 23,362 residents now make up the Township.