World War I Food Army active in York County

World War I Food Pledge poster

The United States officially entered World War I on April 6, 1917, but America had been already preparing to join its allies in the fight. Mobilization on the home front accelerated as the year progressed. Grier Hersh was the Chairman of the York County Unit, Committee of Public Safety for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His position included being the food supply overseer. The press release below is included with some of Grier Hersh’s papers at the York County History Center Library/Archives. It is undated, but National Food Pledge Week ran from October 24 through November 5, 1917. The local release reads: Continue reading

Posted in 1910s, archives, drugstores, food, Universal York, World War I, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on World War I Food Army active in York County

York County servicemen and servicewomen star in local news, Part Two

My recent post shared some of the World War II related items from one page of the Gazette and Daily of October 1943. The rest are transcribed below. We might tend today to forget how such a major conflict affects just about all of those left back home, whether missing family and friends gone off to war, working directly to manufacture war materiel, or trying to conserve consumption so that food and fuel are available for the troops.

Besides all the military news included in each community’s local news, a small public service announcement at the bottom of the page also has to do with the war. It reads:

UNITED STATES IS AT WAR: Fats, Tin Cans, Waste Paper, Rags, Scrap metal are needed. Turn Yours In Today. The photo above, from the war years, shows cans collected in huge bins on the southeast quadrant of the York square.

The community news items continue:

From East Berlin:

Pfc. Melvin Baker, son of Mr. and Mrs. John S. Baker, near here, who is stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., is spending a furlough at the home of his parents.

Pvt. Charles B. Wallace, this place, who was inducted into the Army several months ago, has been transferred from Fort Custer, Mich., to Camp Como, Miss.

Lieut. Richard G. Eustice, former member of the faculty of East Berlin High school, is at Goodfellow field, San Angelo, Texas, where he is teaching meteorology

From Dillsburg:

Corp. Tech Bruce Paup, Fort Benning, Ga. is spending his furlough with his mother, Mrs. Carrie Paup, and sister, Ruthanna.

Clair Starry has been transferred from Camp Livingston, La. to Rome, N.Y.

From Brogueville:

Seaman 2/c Arthur Shaull enjoyed a short leave with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Shaull.

Cpl. Lloyd Hannigan, Camp Edwards, Mass., spent the week-end at the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Walter B. Hannigan.

From Windsor:

A supper was held in honor of Pfc. Lawrence R. Kinard at the home of his step father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Spyker. Those present were: Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Herman: Harry Herman: Naomi Myers, Henrietta Silk, Mr. and Mrs. Preston Miller and daughter, Faye; Maggie Wilhelm; Walter Bowers; Mr. and Mrs. William Fox and children, Margaret and John, York R.D. 3; Mrs. Rebecca Emenheiser; Romaine Abel, East Prospect; Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Leiphart and son, Robert; and Ernest, Irene and Ruth Spyker. Pfc. Kinard returned to Fort Monroe, Va.

From York Haven:

Pfc. Garland S. Clemens, has been graduated from the Army Air Forces Technical Training Command school for airplane mechanics at Gulfport field, Mississippi. During his 112 days of instruction, Private Clemens received a highly technical course of mechanical instruction.

Some of the young people mentioned on just this one page probably never returned from the war, others undoubtedly suffered wounds. A few perhaps still survive; if you know any, pass on thanks from us all for their service.


Posted in 1940s, Air Force, Army, Brogueville, Dillsburg, East Berlin, military units, soldiers, Universal York, Windsor, World War II, York County, York Haven | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on York County servicemen and servicewomen star in local news, Part Two

York County servicemen and servicewomen star in local news, Part One

Two of York County’s World War II airmen

I often use newspapers of the past to look into the lives of those who have proceeded us. The York County History Center has local newspapers on microfilm from the late 1700s up to the present. In addition, the YCHC Library/Archives now has a subscription for Pennsylvania newspapers at for YCHC patrons to use at no additional cost. Some, but not nearly all, York County papers have been digitized on The advantage is that they searchable, saving lots of time if you are looking for a specific topic, person or event.

As I have mentioned before, each small community had its “stringer,” someone that reported what was going on in the neighborhood in minute detail. The community reporter was usually paid by volume, surely an incentive, but it was a good way to keep up with friends and family. I often come across interesting tidbits when I am looking for something entirely different. For example, while looking through papers for the fall of 1943, I realized how many of these small items were related to World War II, a global event that touched just about everyone on an individual level. Most families probably had a friend or relative serving, and thousands of York countians were manufacturing war goods.

Besides the small community news items, it was common to include a photo or two of local servicemen and servicewomen, as shown above, along with their current activity. The caption for each of these two airmen reads:

Cooper: AERIAL GUNNER—Sgt. Horace J. Cooper, son of Mr. and Mrs. Clinton Cooper, York, who is gunner at the Smoky Hill Army Airfield, Salina, Kan. Sgt. Cooper attended New Freedom High school and has been serving with the Air corps for the past year.

Kehr:  STATIONED IN KANSAS–Sgt. Wade Kehr who is an aerial engineer stationed at Smoky Hill Army Air field, Salina, Ka. He has been in the Army Air corps the past eight months and is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Melvin E. Kehr, Dallastown.

Note that both Cooper and Kehr were serving in the Army Air corps. The U.S. Air Force did not become a separate service branch until 1947.

There were so many reference on just this one county news page of the October 7, 1943 Gazette and Daily that I have transcribed some below, and I will share the rest in my next blog post:

From Glen Rock:  A total of $78,675 was raised by the pupils of the borough schools during the Third War Loan campaign in September. This amounts to nearly $270 per pupil.

and:  Herbert C. Hoover, chief observer for the air craft warning station on the roof of the Community building, announced that by order of the War department, the station, which was on a 24-hour a day, seven days a week basis, will be operated on Wednesday from 1 to 5 p.m., starting October 13. The station was sponsored by Austin L. Grove post No. 403, American Legion, with the assistance of the borough council, Civilian Defense crops and many spotters who gave their time without pay.

From White Hall:  Daniel H. Wood, who is in the service, is spending his furlough with his wife, this place.

and:  Pvt. Charles Wright is spending a furlough with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. William P. Wright.

Click here for Part Two.

Posted in 1940s, Air Force, Army, bonds, Dallastown, Glen Rock, military units, New Freedom, soldiers, Universal York, World War II, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on York County servicemen and servicewomen star in local news, Part One

Wrightsville’s rich history is commemorated by many plaques, another sought

Wrightsville railroad bridge

For the past few years, Albert Rose, long-time volunteer at the York County History Center Library/Archives, has been documenting war memorials throughout York County. He has visited and photographed many of them and also verified some that no longer remain. But he looking for still more, such as the ones described in the 1907 newspaper clipping transcribed below.

With its Civil War involvement, in addition to its sons and daughters that have served in conflicts, Wrightsville abounds in commemorations. Two pictured here concern the Civil War. The one with cannons reads:

photo courtesy of Albert Rose





photo courtesy Albert Rose

The marble marker above stands in Mt. Pisgah cemetery in Wrightsville. It says:



photo courtesy Albert Rose

Several remember those who served in World War I. One reads:







Road of Remembrance marker at Wrightsville

The Road of Remembrance was a World War I memorial project carried out by women’s clubs, including the Woman’s Club of York, across the country on the Lincoln Highway. The trees they planted are long gone but York County’s segment is still marked by heavy brass tablets on granite at Wrightsville and at Abbottstown.  This link will take you to my York Sunday News column on the Road of Remembrance.

Veterans Memorial Bridge, linking Wrightsville and Columbia, also commemorates World War I veterans, with appropriate plaques in place.

Rose is looking for still another set of tablets, if they were ever erected in the first place. These would have been on the railroad bridge that used to run parallel to the Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Here is the article he found in the November 28, 1907 York Gazette:


Wilbur C. Kraber of this city [York], chairman of the committee that has been organized to place memorial tablets on the Pennsylvania railroad bridge, at Columbia and Wrightsville, to commemorate the burning of the bridge in 1863, by the civil war forces, says he had received word from H.W. Kapp, general agent and superintendent of the Northern Central railroad, that the tablets can be erected, providing the plans are submitted to the railroad company in advance of the unveiling exercises.

The burning of the bridge that spanned the Susquehanna river was a memorable event in the civil war and it is understood that the citizens of Columbia and Wrightsville are greatly interested in the project and will help financially and otherwise to see that the tablets are erected. The bridge was burned on Sunday evening, July 28, by order of Jacob G. Frick, colonel commanding the Union forces in Columbia and vicinity. The day before an effort was made to blow up the bridge, but the fuses failed and then Colonel Frick ordered that it be burned, so that the Confederate men would not cross the river.

Plans for the tablets have been submitted to E.G. Smyser company in this city, and every effort will be made to have the tablets placed in position early next spring.

The metal railroad bridge was torn down in the early 1960s. Does anyone know of the plaques described above? If so, please email me at

Posted in 1860s, 1900s, 1950s, Abbotstown, African Americans, bridges, cemeteries, Civil War, Columbia, PA, Militia, Northern Central RR, organizations, railroads, roads, soldiers, Susquehanna River, Universal York, World War I, Wrightsville, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Wrightsville’s rich history is commemorated by many plaques, another sought

Former Soviet spy called York County home

Reino Hayhanen/Eugene Maki/John Linden

You never know what fascinating stories you might uncover in the York County History Center files. I never expected to find one on a Soviet spy who allegedly hid from the world in plain sight in the little village of Delroy. (Delroy is in Lower Windsor Township on Route 124, the East Prospect Road, where it intersects with Blue Stone Road and Barcroft Road.) My recent York Sunday News column on Reino Hayhanen/Eugene Maki/John Linden is below.

His name might not be familiar to us, but the name of top Soviet spy Rudolf Abel might ring a bell, lately thanks to the recent Bridge of Spies motion picture. If not for our eventual York County resident, the United States would probably not have had someone of Abel’s rank to exchange for our spy, Francis Gary Powers. How might that have changed history?

If anyone has any further information or clues on Linden’s York County stay, please email me at Here is the column: Continue reading

Posted in 1950s, 1960s, attorneys, Cold War, Lower Windsor Twp., ministers, newspapers, prisoners, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Former Soviet spy called York County home

More on York County research and connections

York Daily clipping. Courtesy of

My York Sunday News column last month illustrated how you often to take several sources and put them together to round out the story on a person, an event or a place that you are researching.

Speaking of research, a couple occurrences this past week reminded me that you should never give up. Just when you least expect it, that proverbially “brick wall” might develop a crack.

First, after my search of about 40 years for the parents of my great-great grandfather, Henry Burk (c. 1810-1871), a fellow volunteer at the York County History Center, LoAnn Clark, shared recent emails from a cousin who lives in another state. Their research seems to match up with clues I have found in records at YCHC and Henry’s Civil War pension papers, as well as some information posted online by another researcher. It’s always exciting for anyone working on family history to find a new generation, and that often leads to identifying even more ancestors.

Secondly, I received an email from an out-of-town reader of this blog. He said:

Hello-  I recently found an article you wrote for the Universal York Blog about my Great Grandmother, Henrietta Stair, in the June 22, 2008 issue.  I have been trying for years to determine who her parents were, since my family records do not mention more than Henry Stroman. I have not been able to find a family or marriage record for Henry, so it is difficult to find who his wife was or who his parents were in York.  Where did you turn to get the historical background on Henrietta?  Does York have a historical society which may be able to help me? Thank you for your help, and thank you for the informative article from the Civil War.

This link will take you to my lengthy post of nearly nine years ago of Henrietta Stroman Stair’s Civil War memories of Hanover.

I emailed back to Henrietta’s descendant and told him that I do practically all my research at the York County History Center, and that he will probably want to visit to continue research on the Stroman and Stair families, both old York County names. He replied that he too “thinks it will be worth a trip to York.” I am looking forward to seeing what he finds.

To continue the story—I did a Google search on Henrietta Stroman and found this gem on, from the March 17, 1876 York Daily:

A RELIC—The Hanover Citizen of yesterday states that Mrs. D. F. Stair, of this place, formerly Miss Henrietta Stroman of York borough, has in her possession a lock of hair cut from the head of Henry Clay, the great orator and statesman. The following letter accompanied the lock of hair:


Dear Miss—I received your note requesting a lock of my hair, which I have the pleasure according to send you. I subjoin sincere wishes for your health, happiness and long life.

I am respectfully, Your obedient servant.

H.CLAY. Washington, Jan. 19th 1850.

(The YCHC Library/Archives subscribes to for patrons’ use.)

I wonder if Clay’s hair lock still survives, perhaps passed down in Henrietta’s family. There is another one of those connections between York County and the larger world.


Posted in 1810s, 1850s, 1860s, 1870s, 1910s, 2000s, Civil War, Hanover, newspapers, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on More on York County research and connections

More on Lewis Miller and the York County Jail

In a recent York Sunday News column I used Lewis Miller’s carpenter work on the 19th century York County Jail, which stood on the northeast corner of George and King streets,  to illustrate that you can tie together several sources to paint a more complete picture of the past.

When I posted the link to the blog post and the column on the Retro York and Preserving York groups on Facebook, I received several comments about the Lewis Miller drawing that I used with the column and post. Here is a larger portion of the drawing, from the York County History Center collections, showing more of the neighborhood. Miller gives details of the 1808 incident of “Arresting the Irishmen” that inspired him to draw the jail, and also lists the York County jail keepers from 1799 to 1846. Miller describes the incident:

Michael Kleinfelter, Sheriff, taking a gang of Irishmen as prisoners in goal, the[y] brought them one-mile from town, working on the Baltimore turnpike. Kleinfelter had a man arestet for murder, and the Irish meddled and should not be taking him from them. The mob knocket the Sheriff down, and the murderer made his escape, the Sheriff came to town for assistance.

The picture shows ten armed men on foot, five on each side, escorting a group, probably the Irish road workers who had helped the alleged murderer escape. A man on a horse, most likely Kleinfelter, leads the party to jail, and another mounted man brings up the rear. Continue reading

Posted in 1790s, 1800s, 1810s, 1820s, 1830s, 1840s, crime, Lewis Miller, prisons, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on More on Lewis Miller and the York County Jail

Putting historical pieces together with York’s Lewis Miller

Lewis Miller drawing of the early century York County Jail

Doing historical research? Can’t find much on a particular person or family? Don’t despair—just keep looking and widen your search to include many resources. Sometimes you find what you are seeking where and when you least expect it.

See below for my recent York Sunday News column using York’s 19th century folk artist Lewis Miller as an example. When I first became acquainted with Miller’s work through the York County History Center, I thought that much wasn’t known about his life, but there is lots when you put the pieces together. The same could be true for whoever or whatever you are pursuing. Continue reading

Posted in 1790s, 1820s, 1880s, archives, carpenters, craftsmen, Germany, Lewis Miller, Pennsylvania Germans, prisoners, prisons, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Putting historical pieces together with York’s Lewis Miller

York County native makes national news in tense 1960s

Rina and Ernest Evans (Chubby Checker) with Reverend George and Betty Garver (Picture from Bradenton Herald, December 2015)

Remember “The Twist,” the dance craze from the 60s? Remember Chubby Checker who brought “The Twist” to life? What connection could this have to York County? Read on.

A friend recently mentioned that her cousin, Reverend George Garber, a retired Lutheran pastor who now lives in Florida, was over 100 years old. She was planning to get some family information to him that another relative from their shared Bahn family had recently given to her.

I Googled Reverend Garber and found that he had made national news in 1964, retold in 2015 during his 100th birthday celebration. See below for further discoveries from those news accounts. Continue reading

Posted in 1960s, 2010s, African Americans, Lutherans, music, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on York County native makes national news in tense 1960s

York County “molasses”

York County historian of a century ago, George R. Prowell, was a prolific (and sometimes wordy) recorder of York County history. Some of the stories he wrote were passed on from others, perhaps with occasional errors creeping in. Still, Prowell’s writings are the only source for quite a few interesting accounts, such as the one below.

A lengthy newspaper clipping pasted in one of Jere Carl’s dozens of turn-of-the-century scrapbooks in the York County History Center Library/Archives is headed:




Historian Prowell Relates How Captain John J. Young Brought First Sorghum Seed to York—South Killed Industry Here.

Prowell says David Heckert told him that retired naval Captain John J. Young introduced the sorghum plant into York County in 1858. Young was said to have been on the Lawrence during the Battle of Lake Erie. The ship was commanded by a Captain Elliott, whose wife was a daughter of General Jacob Spangler of York. After recovering from a later shipboard accident that resulted in partial loss of his legs, Young came to York to visit the family of now Commodore Elliott, and he stayed. Continue reading

Posted in 1850s, 1870s, agriculture, food, Navy, U.S. Navy, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on York County “molasses”