New local history resources on the York County Heritage Trust website

York Square, December 1963  (Gazette and Daily photo)

York Square, December 1963
(Gazette and Daily photo)

The York County Heritage Trust Library and Archives has recently added four databases to the YCHT website.

For nearly 15 years YCHT has been entering cataloging and description information for its vast collections of manuscripts, photographs, postcards, books, objects and other items, such as architectural drawings, into PastPerfect. This software was developed for archival and museum collections and is used by thousands of institutions worldwide. For nearly as long, staff and volunteers have also been scanning the individual items and adding the digital images to the records.

These finding aids have only been available in house, but a recent grant from the Anne M. and Philip H. Glatfelter, III Family Foundation has made possible the purchase of on-line components needed for sharing many of these images with the world.

The first four collections, now available at are York City Streets and Alleys, Family Bible collection, the Dempwolf Architectural Drawing collection and the York County Postcard collection, four of the most used visual collections at YCHT.

The York City street scenes include streetscapes, individual buildings and events taking place on identified streets. The photos date from the 1870s until present, older ones being in the majority.

Postcard view of Red Lion c.1917

Postcard view of Red Lion c.1917

The postcard collection is a nice complement to the street scenes. They date from the late 1800s to well past the middle of the 20th century. Some are in color, showing some street scenes, landscapes, buildings, monuments and other items of interest throughout York County long before the widespread use of color photography.
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Posted in 1880s, 1910s, 1930s, 1960s, architecture, archives, Bibles, buildings, photography, postcards, Red Lion, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Nineteenth century poultry woes

Poultry powder

A friend recently donated some old photos to the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives. The family farmed in Chanceford Township for generations, and there were a few things mixed in pertaining to farm life.

One item was a recipe to treat chickens for poultry cholera, also known as fowl cholera. I gather that it is still a dangerous, highly contagious disease, but today there is a vaccine to prevent it.

The detailed recipe and instructions for administration of the 1870 remedy are transcribed below.

What I found most interesting was that these instructions were hand written in pen on both sides of a piece of tablet paper. The farmer’s name was filled in with pencil, right before the threat of
a $100 penalty if the recipe is shared. I have a feeling that each farmer had to pay for the recipe up front.

Poultry powder for Cholera.
2 oz. granulated Sulphite of Soda
2 oz. ground Mandrake
2 oz. Copperas
2 oz. Sulphur
2 oz. Epsom salts
Put in two gallons of water or milk and mix well.

Pen the sick for a few days and give them ½ to 1 teaspoon full of this powder on lard the size of a well[?]. And this water to drink. Make a slop of bran and this water for sick and well for their feed for a week if the disease is on the place. If they are sick, do not feed any corn excepting well soaked in this water.

As a prevent give to your poultry once a week. About 100 will consume this quantity in a day, and expressly for Daniel Conrad use only and not to give, tell or furnish medicine to any person to avoid a penalty of $100. Secured April 7th, 1870.
By J. J. Early
Palmyra, Lebanon Co., Pa.

P.S. Keep the sulphite of soda in a bottle and corked, as a prevent only 1 oz. of mandrake.

Here are the descriptions of the various chemicals, according to

Sodium sulfite: a white, crystalline, water-soluble solid, Na 2 SO 3, used chiefly as a food preservative, as a bleaching agent, and as a developer in photography

Mandrake: a narcotic, short-stemmed European plant, Mandragora officinarum, of the nightshade family, having a fleshy, often forked root somewhat resembling a human form.

Copperas (ferrous sulfate): a bluish-green, crystalline, saline-tasting, water-soluble heptahydrated solid, FeSO 4 ⋅7H 2 O, used chiefly in the manufacture of other iron salts, in water purification, fertilizer, inks, pigments, tanning, photography, and in medicine in the treatment of anemia.

Sulphur: A nonmetallic element that exists in several forms, the ordinary one being a yellow rhombic crystalline solid, and that burns with a blue flame and a suffocating odor: used especially in making gunpowder and matches, in medicine, in vulcanizing rubber, etc.

Epsom salts: hydrated magnesium sulfate, MgSO 4 ⋅7H 2 O, occurring as small colorless crystals: used in fertilizers, the dyeing of fabrics, leather tanning, etc., and in medicine chiefly as a cathartic.

Raising chickens wasn’t, and isn’t, easy.

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York County vandalism unfortunately isn’t anything new


Here is another example that the “good old days” weren’t always that good. There were “wicked and evil disposed persons” in our past history too. (Our forebears did love their adjectives.)

The handbill below, from the York County Heritage Trust archives, concerns break-ins and vandalism at Spring Garden Township school houses. The $20 reward would be about $554 today. The image is quite clear, but I’ll transcribe it for a little easier reading:

Whereas, some wicked and evil disposed persons have broken the Locks of the School Houses of the School District of Springgarden township, York county, and have forcibly entered said School Houses and have damaged the property contained therein, and otherwise injured and defaced the outside of said School Houses; therefore the above reward of Twenty Dollars is offered for the detection and conviction of any person or persons who have committed said outrages, or for the detection and conviction of any person or persons who shall hereafter willfully injure or damage the said School Houses or their contents, or break any lock and forcibly enter said School Houses.
By order of the Board of School Directors of Springgarden township, York county, Penn’a.
York, Feb.16, 1859.

Click here to read previous blog posts about local schools of all kinds.

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York County connections not confined to Earth

Kirkwood Crater on the moon. (NASA photo)

Kirkwood Crater on the moon. (NASA photo)

I have shared stories of some of the well-known persons who attended or taught at the York County Academy. They include Thaddeus Stevens, abolitionist and congressman and Samuel Bacon, charged by President Monroe with the founding of Liberia.

Fellow blogger Jim McClure has shared information on other noted YCA alumni, such as acclaimed chemist Edgar Fahs Smith.

My recent York Sunday News column below tells of still another, eminent astronomer Daniel Kirkwood.
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Posted in 1730s, 1780s, 1810s, 1830s, 1840s, 1850s, 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, astronomy, Hopewell Twp., MD, schools, Uncategorized, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

York Academy Public Exams


Remember the pressure of final exams? Putting pencil to paper doesn’t seem so bad when compared to oral exams conducted in public and advertised in the newspaper, as seen by the clipping below from an early York paper:

York. April 22, 1789
There will be a public examination of the Schools of York Academy on Saturday & Monday, the 25th & 27th inst. The exercises to begin on each day, at 9 o’clock forenoon.
On the evening of Monday, the Pupils of the Academy will perform the celebrated tragedy of Cato, to which will be added the pleasing entertainment of the Mock-Doctor. The airs, set to music by Mr. Dyche, who will also perform on the violin betwixt the acts, accompanied by young gentlemen of the Town on German flutes.
Tickets—at one quarter Dollar each to be had at Mr. Spangler’s, Mr. Upp’s, Captain Stake’s, Capt. Johnson’s & at the door of the Academy which will be opened on each evening at 5 o’clock.
Once the exams were over, the public could also gain admission, for the equivalent $6.50 today, to plays and musical performances by the students. Cato: A Tragedy written by Joseph Addison in 1713, with its ideas of standing up for liberty, was very popular during the eighteenth. On a lighter note, Mock Doctor or The Dumb Lady Cur’d was a 1732 play by Henry Fielding, adapted from Moliere).

The York Academy, later known as the York County Academy, was founded in 1787. Girls were admitted to the York Academy in 1801.

From Gibson’s 1886 History of York County entry on the York County Academy:
“The following minute occurs, October 21, 1801, at the close of a public examination of the school: ‘The pupils exhibited evidence of great improvement, and the teachers, as well as the pupils, have obtained the approbation of the board.’ Examinations were held, first quarterly, then semi-annually, and afterward were continued annually.”

Here is a link to my previous post, showing one of Catharine Barnitz’s 1813 report cardsmy previous post, showing one of Catharine Barnitz’s 1813 report cards, which were issued weekly by the academy.

Posted in 1780s, 1800s, 1810s, education, entertainment, music, schools, students, theater, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

York County Revolutionary War Militia Registration

PA State Archives RG-4, Records of the Comptroller General, Military Accounts, Militia, York County 1777-1794, 3 May 1779.

PA State Archives RG-4, Records of the Comptroller General, Military Accounts, Militia, York County 1777-1794, 3 May 1779.

I have learned a lot about the Revolutionary War era in the past six years or so since I stepped up my research on Camp Security.

Did you ever wonder how those farmers, merchants and craftsmen in the far flung reaches of York County, including the area that is now Adams County, came to be members of York County Militia companies? Once militia members, they had to meet periodically for practice, or pay a fine if they didn’t show up. Some were then marched off to join the fight for independence at Boston, New York, Philadelphia or sites of other engagements. A good portion of the local militia served at least one two month tour of guard duty at Camp Security between July 1781 and May 1783.

Yesterday I came across two documents at the Pennsylvania State Archives outlining the process of joining the militia:
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Posted in 1770s, 1780s, Adams County, Camp Security, military units, prisoners, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Market sheds in York Square torn down in 1887

Looking toward the southeast corner of York's square

Looking toward the southeast corner of York’s square

York Mayor Daniel K. Noell and many of the town fathers seem to have concluded that it was easier to ask forgiveness than permission when they tore down the market sheds in the square on an 1887 summer night. My recent York Sunday News column below outlines how and why it came about.

Looking toward the northeast corner of York's square on June 30, 1887.

Looking toward the northeast corner of York’s square on June 30, 1887.

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York County weather from the past

From the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives

From the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives

The July 16, 1953 Gazette and Daily carried an article on Harry C. Arnold, superintendent at the York Water Company; he had been recording the weather at the York Pumping Station since 1915. He used three instruments: “an alcohol thermometer which records both the running temperature and the day’s minimum, a mercury thermometer which keeps track of maximum temperatures, and a calibrated canister and measuring rod for establishing the amount of precipitation.” He gauged the wind velocity by observing the treetops.

Arnold reported that between 1915 and 1953, the lowest recorded temperature was -21 F in January 1925. Looking at a modern chart, that record still stands, being matched only once, in January 1994.
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Posted in 1880s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, floods, Universal York, weather, York County | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Gazette and Daily birthday club, part 2


Here is more on the Gazette and Daily’s Boys’ and Girls’ Newspaper and the birthday club. Erma Henry Raver recently shared some of the birthday and Christmas cards shown here and in my previous post. She and her husband Clinton received them from the paper when they were young.

The cards below are from a series that commemorate the young person’s age that year. I too remember getting birthday cards from the club when I was young, but I didn’t remember what the cut off age was. I thought it was 16. At one time, as shown by Erma’s cards, it went up to at least 20.


I am also showing the bottom part of the October 3, 1940 Boys’ and Girls’ page. My last post showed an example of the top of the daily page for boys and girls. This one includes Clinton Raver’s 15th birthday and crafts with gourds, as well as the regular connect the dots puzzle and riddles (including answers). The Boys’ and Girls’ page took up three or four columns of an eight column newspaper page, so it is too skinny to reproduce a whole properly on a blog format.


Have any of you saved the cards you received from the Gazette and Daily?

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Greetings from the York Gazette and Daily Boys’ and Girls’ Newspaper

Boys' and Girls' Newspaper Birthday Cards

Boys’ and Girls’ Newspaper Birthday Cards

You might remember the daily Boys’ and Girls’ Newspaper page in the Gazette and Daily. The page had puzzles, riddles, jokes and crafts, but the highlights were the letters from area children telling a little about themselves or a relative and asking for enrollment in the Birthday Club. (See example below.)

Once you were a Birthday Club member, you received a birthday card every year. Christmas cards were also sent out (see below), but I think they later just did the birthday cards. The very best part was the list each day of the celebrants and their ages. Once you could read, you could see your name in print. As I remember, since the Gazette and Daily didn’t publish on Sundays, there would be two lists in Saturday’s paper.

So, if you grew up in the 1930s through the 1960s (the Gazette closed down in 1970), you were sure to check the paper on your birthday. I remember being enrolled, as were my children, but we evidently didn’t keep the cards.

Part of May 20, 1935 Boys' and Girls' page (Erma's eighth birthday)

Part of May 20, 1935 Boys’ and Girls’ page (Erma’s eighth birthday)

Erma Henry Raver did save some of her cards and those of her late husband, Clinton. She recently shared them with me, and she is donating them to the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives. I’ve scanned a few of her cards here, and I am also sharing a page showing Erma’s birthday from the YCHT newspaper microfilms.

At one point the Gazette used a series of birthday cards mentioning which birthday the young person was celebrating. They have appealing illustrations and seem to be by one, or possibly two, artists. I’ll share them in my next post.

Boys' and Girls' Newspaper Christmas Cards

Boys’ and Girls’ Newspaper Christmas Cards

Posted in 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, celebrations, children, Christmas, holidays, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment