How to keep away conflagrations, dire epidemics and pestilence

FireCharmSm

The field of folk belief among our Pennsylvania German ancestors is a rich one, replete with words. Certain rituals go along with many practices used for healing known as pow-wow, but the words are also specific for each one. They are readily available in books such as John George Hohman’s The Long Lost Friend, probably purchased today mostly as a curiosity. I doubt that it has been out of print since it was first published in 1820.

Charms written by hand on little slips of paper seem to have been fairly common. In a previous post I showed a charm for good luck while hunting game. A friend found that scrap of paper rolled up and inserted in the stock of his grandfather’s shotgun.

Many editions of broadsides printed in German were produced and sold in the Pennsylvania German region, including York County, during the 18th and 19th century and perhaps later. Examples of these larger documents could be house blessings and “letters from Heaven” warning away all kinds of disasters. A friend recently shared the fire charm above, probably from a York County printer. See below for my recent York Sunday News column, which includes further description and translation:
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Posted in 1700s, 1800s, 1900s, charms, fires, German language, Pennsylvania Dutch, Pennsylvania Germans, pow-wows, printers, Universal York, York County | Tagged , | Leave a comment

York County’s St. Jacob’s (Stone) Church 1887 encounter with lightning

Stone Church photo from the St. Jacob's UCC website

Stone Church photo from the St. Jacob’s UCC website

Summer brings thunder and lightning. Here is an account of a quite powerful lightning strike at St. Jacob’s (Stone) Church in Codorus Township. It is from the June 28, 1887 York Gazette.

FEARS OF LIGHTNING—During the storm on Monday, the 20th inst., about noon, the lightning struck the Stone (St. Jacob’s) church in Codorus township and did considerable damage. The fluid entered at the gable-end of the building, knocked down the ceiling, then passed down to the floor, ripped the carpet and splintered the flooring, throwing the fragments into the gallery. The fluid then passed out of the church and struck a tree, glanced to a post, from there it ran over a metallic wash-line and into the ground. Two men and a horse, which happened to be near, were knocked down and stunned by the shock, but not seriously injured.

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Prehistoric and other finds at Camp Security

Spear point of rhyolite from the South Mountian region, possibly Caledonia area.   Late Archaic period (1800-1000 B.C.)

Spear point of rhyolite from the South Mountian region, possibly Caledonia area. Late Archaic period (1800-1000 B.C.)

In my last post, I shared some of the artifacts found at the 2015 Camp Security dig that could be from the 1781-1783 period, the years that the Revolutionary War prisoner of war camp was in operation. Here are some photos of more objects that were discovered; these are from a much earlier time or from a later period

The site, in Springettsbury Township just east of York, was inhabited, or at least visited, by humans long before the Revolutionary War, as it continues to be today. Many of those generations left their mark in some way on these fields.

Partial spear points: top left quartz from the Middle Archaic period (4000-5000 B.C.), the middle piece chert from the Ohio Valley of the Late Archiac  period(1800-1000 B.C.) and the quartz (locally sourced) on the right also Late Archiac. The bottom piece is rhyolite from the South Mountain region dating to the Early Archaic period (6000-8000 B.C.).

Partial spear points: top left quartz from the Middle Archaic period (4000-5000 B.C.), the middle piece chert from the Ohio Valley of the Late Archiac period(1800-1000 B.C.) and the quartz (locally sourced) on the right also Late Archiac. The bottom piece is rhyolite from the South Mountain region dating to the Early Archaic period (6000-8000 B.C.).

The earliest visitors were, of course, Native Americans. No evidence of their any village has been found as yet on these particular acres, but spear points, a stone knife and scrapers show that the area was being hunted as early as the Early Archaic period (6000-8000 B.C.). Some of these items were not of local minerals, indicating travel and trade during prehistoric times. (Archaeologist Steve Warfel kindly shared his identification of these objects, including the minerals from which they were fashioned and the period of origin.)

Top—tip of spear point of jasper from the Allentown/Bethlehem area, bottom left stone knife of argillite of Susquehanna River origin and bottom right scraper of jasper from Allentown/Bethlehem.

Top—tip of spear point of jasper from the Allentown/Bethlehem area, bottom left stone knife of argillite of Susquehanna River origin and bottom right scraper of jasper from Allentown/Bethlehem.


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Posted in 1780s, archaeology, Camp Security, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Springettsbury Twp., Universal York, York County | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

What’s new with Camp Security?

English musket or pistol flint and hand-wrought nails

English musket or pistol flint and hand-wrought nails

The 2015 archaeology dig at the site of Camp Security has come to a close. Over eighty volunteers participated in various ways: shuttling workers to the somewhat remote site, visual and metal detector surveys, digging and sifting tons of soil, or cleaning and cataloging artifacts. These activities were professionally supervised by archaeologist Steve Warfel and his assistant, Amanda Snyder.

Even though the stockade location at Camp Security wasn’t found, this year’s dig ruled out one more possible location. Fundraising continues so that other logical possible stockade locations, and there are several, can be explored in the not-too-distant future.

My hat is off especially to those who actively dug into the sometimes very muddy soil, often in the broiling sun. I didn’t physically participate in the dig, but did get a chance to help clean and catalog some of the objects. They showed humans have trod these fields for thousands of years.

The chronically earliest objects found were Native American spear points and scrapers, used as they hunted the area. Some were of non-native minerals, demonstrating trading or traveling activity.

Pewter spoon handle

Pewter spoon handle

Ceramic shards

Ceramic shards

How about the Camp Security era, 1781-1783? Part of a pewter spoon handle was found; it could date from that time, as could the hand-wrought nails. There were also numerous shards of redware. These cannot be specifically dated because of the long period of redware use, but they could be of the time. A piece of English white salt-glazed stoneware, perfect for the period, a piece of English flint, and several creamware pieces were found. All of these date to the 22 months the camp was in operation.

There were also some scraps of 19th century creamware and of bottle glass, which could even be early 20th century. These latter items could have been broken items discarded in pre-trash collection days and eventually dispersed by heavy rains or a farmer’s plow.

Some of the items that could date from the Camp Security era are shown above. I’ll share a sampling of the objects that date either earlier or later in a subsequent post.

This link will take you to the Camp Security web site to learn more about this important Revolutionary War Prisoner of War center.

Click here for my previous posts and York Sunday News columns related to Camp Security.

Posted in 1780s, archaeology, Camp Security, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Springettsbury Twp., Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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 www.yorkheritage.org 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 Dictionary.com:

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

SpringGardenSchools

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:

TWENTY DOLLARS
REWARD
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.
JOHN IMMEL, PRESIDENT
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

YorkCountyAcademy

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