York County registration of “enemy aliens” during World War I

Civil War veteran, age 90 needed to register as German enemy alien. (Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

This year is the 100th anniversary of the United States entering World War I.  The war had been raging since 1914, but America was reluctant to get involved until Germany started sinking American ships with their submarines.  It didn’t take long for German-Americans to feel affected by suspicion, especially recent immigrants.  My recent York Sunday News column below outlines what was required of those local citizens who hadn’t completed naturalization. Most surprising to me was the possibility that a woman born and raised in York County, and never having left here could still be obliged to register as an enemy alien.

Uncovering the World War I ‘enemy aliens’ in York County

The bulk of York County’s settlers came from Germanic lands.  The majority of these were the Pennsylvania Germans or “Pennsylvania Dutch” that came to America before 1800.  There was another influx into the area in the mid-19th century–also long before America became involved in World War I against Kaiser Wilhelm’s German Empire.

I heard that many local families started to downplay their German heritage at the time of World War I, which the United States officially entered on April 6, 1917.  Research, mostly in the York Daily newspaper at the York County History Center, provided further insight.

A week after the United States declared war against Germany, headlines read “PASTOR WALKER URGES LOYALTY, SAYS MEMBERS OF GERMAN LUTHERAN CONGREGATION STAND BY AMERICA.”

Henry Walker, pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church on West King Street, said almost all of his congregation had German roots, so it might be natural to suspect them. But he said Germany should be remembered as the “land of our fathers, not our land,” and that the church members stood by their country, America.

The same article announced, in accordance with an order York Chief of Police Fred Kottcamp received from the U.S. Department of Justice, that all enemy aliens [those who are citizens of a country with which we are at war] must turn their “firearms or other dangerous weapons” into the police department. Receipts would be given and the items returned when the war was over. Those not complying within 24 hours of public notice would be subject to arrest and banned articles seized and forfeited to the United States.

Registration of enemy aliens was called for nationally, as England and France had done; on Nov. 16, 1917, President Wilson issued a proclamation that all alien enemy males ages 14 and up would be required to register.  This included those who had taken out their first naturalization papers but were not yet fully naturalized. Information gathered would include names, residences, family, occupations and business connections. Enemy aliens living in cities and towns of more than 5,000 according to the 1910 census (York and Hanover) would register with their police chief.  All others would register with their postmaster, including those on rural routes delivered out of a city post office.

The Daily reported on Jan. 5, 1918, that Chief Kottcamp must report the estimated number of non-naturalized Germans living in York to U.S. Attorney General Gregory. They were to contact Kottcamp immediately in person, by telephone or mail, with their names and addresses.

Three weeks later, Kottcamp announced receiving the necessary registration forms and gave notice that the government had set the dates, February 4 through February 9 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., for registration. All enemy aliens were to “appear without further notice or be liable for summary arrest and internment.”  Each needed to furnish four unmounted photographs of themselves, not larger than 3-by-3 inches, on thin paper with a light background, each signed on the front, not obscuring features.

The applicant would fill out three copies of the registration affidavit blank and swear to its accuracy in front of the registration officer (police or postmaster).  In the registrant could not write, he would make his mark and leave his left thumb print.  The enemy alien was then instructed to come back between 10 and 15 days after the last registration day to obtain his registration card, which he would sign or mark and thumb print in the registration officer’s presence.  They then needed to carry their card to avoid possible arrest and detention until the end of the war.

Leaflets with instructions and suggestions were given to the unnaturalized men, telling them they “…should understand they are giving proof of their peaceful dispositions and of their intention to conform to the laws of the United States,” and advising them to ask questions about anything they didn’t understand before filling out the forms, and that registration officers were instructed to aid with explanations and advice.   The process must have been intimidating, especially since, as the week went along, names and addresses of the registrants were published in the newspaper.

Residents surely took notice when the Feb. 8 Daily ran a short article headed: “REV. ENDERS AN ENEMY ALIEN, PASTOR OF CHRIST LUTHERAN REGISTERS WITH OTHER GERMANS.” A longer piece the next day, “DR. ENDERS EXPLAINS,” clarified that Dr. George W. Enders, pastor of one of York’s largest churches, Christ Lutheran, for the past 35 years, filed an affidavit that he “…conscientiously believes, that he is a citizen of the United States…,” since his father was naturalized while Enders was still a minor.  He registered because he did not have papers proving his father’s naturalization.

Reverend Enders, born in Norheim, Germany, in 1841, came to the United States when he was 13 with his family. His father died when George was about 16.  Enders became a Lutheran pastor, serving in New Jersey, Gettysburg and Indiana before being called to Christ Lutheran in 1882.

He received a U.S. passport in Philadelphia in 1870, traveling with it to England, France, Switzerland and Germany on his wedding trip, and he served in the militia during the Civil War. Enders voted in U.S. elections after turning 21, claiming citizenship under information that his father had been naturalized, until voter registration was mandated and he was challenged because he could not produce proof of his father’s naturalization. He stated that he was “…thoroughly pro-American against all the world, and believes that he is not an alien enemy within the scope of the president’s proclamation, but registers [as an enemy alien] because he feels it his duty to comply with such proclamation.”   A total of 28 men registered with the York police that week in February.  Soon women with German citizenship would also have to register, following the same requirements and procedure as the men. The difference was the confusing status of women’s citizenship, as women assumed the nationality of their husbands upon marriage under a law that was not repealed until 1922.

Therefore, a woman of American parents, who was born here and lived here all her life, would have to register as an enemy alien if her husband had not completed the naturalization process. The York police chief expressed concern that some women might face arrest and detention for the duration of the war because they did not understand their status.    A total of nine women registered during the June 19 through 26 registration period, making a total of 37 German enemy aliens in York city.  I plan to look for additional information on county registration.  If any of your family members were required to register as an enemy alien, I would like to hear their story. I can be contacted at ycpa89@msn.com.

This link will take you to my previous column on World War I Liberty Gardens in York County.

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Grow, Preserve, Eat—York County and food

From the time the first humans walked the productive soil of what is now York County, Pa., food has been grown, preserved and happily eaten here. Here a few examples from our history:

One of my recent York Sunday News columns told about York County’s very successful participation in the World War I Liberty Garden program in 1917-18. Local trolley employees showed a creative use of land by the tracks. An April 23, 1918 York Daily item reads:

CARMEN PLANT GARDENS. Trolleymen, including motormen, conductors and trackmen, with work-a-day clothes on are strung along the entire length of the Hanover line engaged in planting potatoes and preparing the soil for various kinds of vegetables to be cultivated this summer. Among those from the trolley crews who have taken up lots are Eli Eisenhower, Curvin Matthews, Jesse Hoover, Charles Landis, Clayton Koontz, John Bouseman, Robert Haas and Eli Leech. Night Superintendent Oberdick has a plot in the vicinity of Wolf’s church. The men are given every opportunity to get their plots, and to harvest crops. Free transportation is given the members of the family who go there to tend the growing vegetables during the summer, and also to bring the crops to the city after they have been harvested. Last year hundreds of bushels of potatoes were harvested by the men.

Continue reading

Posted in 1800s, 1810s, 1910s, 1960s, Brogue, canning, cooking, Delta, dogs, Fawn Grove, food, gardens, Hanover, inns, Lewis Miller, newspapers, Red Lion, street railways, taverns, Universal York, vegetables, World War I, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Grow, Preserve, Eat—York County and food

York County garages eager to replace your Buick engine

(From Gazette and Daily microfilm at the York County History Center)

I don’t think that today we usually replace any major components of our automobiles unless they fail, so I was surprised by a prominent ad in the March 25, 1948 Gazette and Daily pointing out the advantages of replacing the engine in your Buick with a new one.

The local garages who banded together to place the ad were Miller Buick, 229 South George St., York; Grimm’s Garage, West Broadway, Red Lion and J.T. Amberman, South Main St., Stewartstown.

They would be happy to put the “…brand-new straight-from-the-production-line Fireball engine in any Buick from 1937 models on up.” World War II had ended less than three years before, and I’m guessing that automakers were still trying to catch up on automobile production. Virtually no consumer cars were manufactured during the war years, as the makers had all converted to war production.

The Buick motor plant must have been producing well in 1948. In fact the ad explains “WHY WE CAN MAKE THIS OFFER: Out of the Buick plant engine productions is going great guns. It’s stepping along faster than complete car output. So we have these brand-new engines ready to put in your car right now.”

“Pop and snap” were promised to come back, as well as better gas mileage and less oil consumption with your new motor. Driving would be most responsive, comfortable, dependable and fun. Current technology in the 1948 ignition system, carburetor, air cleaner and clutch were extolled.

The cost of the new engine wasn’t quoted, but the prospective customer was assured it was “…a Price You’ll hardly Believe.” Buick owners were invited to: “Come in and talk it over.”

I don’t know a lot about automobiles, so was/is replacing a still running motor done, or was this an innovative marketing campaign by Buick to avoid having to shut down or slow down motor production until the car production caught up? The only time I replaced a car engine was after an unfortunate encounter with standing water after an intense rain storm a few years ago.

Google maps presently puts George Beauty Supply/Golden Beauty Supply at the site of Miller Buick, on the northeast corner of George Street and Hope Avenue. It could possibly be the same building, as car dealerships took up much less space than they do now.

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York’s World War I Liberty Gardens

1918 Liberty Garden pledge card

Some of you might remember the Victory Gardens of World War II, when everyone was urged to grow as much food as they could to feed their families.  This would free up commercially grown vegetables to be canned to feed our troops fighting overseas and training here.  The movement didn’t start with World War II; it was a revival of the World War I Liberty Garden program.

Highly organized under Yorker Anna Dill Gamble, the people of York County enthusiastically embraced the World War I movement. See my recent York Sunday News column below for a recap of the 1918 activities: Continue reading

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More on the Hessians of Lewis Miller

Old Hattendorf by Lewis Miller

My last blog post noted that the book featuring York folk artist Lewis Miller’s drawings of “Hessians” that settled in York County after the Revolutionary War is once again available at the York County History Center, long after it was thought out of print.

The book features 22 full page portraits, each in full color and a size suitable for framing. It was recently discovered that the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association still had some copies of the book, originally jointly published by the JSHA and the Historical Society of York County (forerunner of the York County History Center.)

Each portrait faces a page of biographical information on the individual, with most of the research done by Yorker Jonathan Stayer, now head of Reference at the Pennsylvania State Archives.

Here is the list of the persons depicted and described: Leonard Baumgardner, Conrad Budding, Old Christ, David Craumer, William Farnschild, Old Hartwig, Henry Hattendorf, Henry Henicker, Henry Herbst, John Hubly, Henry Lachner, John Michel, Peter E. Moore, Henry Opermann, George Schaffel, Henry Schelman, Old Scherbahn, George Sleeger, Frederick Stein, Conrad Stengel, Casper Youngker, and John Zangel.

One or more of these subjects might be your ancestor. Even if they are not, the portraits and text give insights of life in York County in the late 18th and early 19th century. The descriptions give information on their military service, residences and family connections (see below). The example shown here, Hattendorf, was probably captured at Trenton; later he followed the trade of plasterer, and shown by his plasterer’s trowel and rag, and he settled in York.

Likenesses of more local citizens can be seen in Lewis Miller’s People (2014), edited by Lila-Fourhman-Shaull and me.  It too is also available from the York County History Center.

Posted in 1770s, 1780s, 1800s, artists, craftsmen, Lewis Miller, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on More on the Hessians of Lewis Miller

The Hessians of Lewis Miller

You might be familiar with two books featuring drawings of Lewis Miller published by The Historical Society of York County/York County Heritage Trust/York County History Center over the years. Lewis Miller, Sketches and Chronicles: The Reflections of a Nineteenth Century Pennsylvania German Folk Artist (1966) is out of print; Lewis Miller’s People (2014), edited by Lila-Fourhman-Shaull and me, is available from the York County History Center.

A third book of Miller’s drawings, The Hessians of Lewis Miller (1983), copublished by HSYC with the Johannes Schwalm Historical Association, was thought to have been long out of print. It was recently discovered that the JSHA still had a limited number of copies. They have been transferred to the York County History Center and are now available at the YCHC museum shop and online (shipping additional).

The 67 page book was coauthored by Yorker Jonathan Stayer, now head of Reference at the Pennsylvania State Archives. It features large scale portraits in full color of 22 persons Lewis Miller identified in his drawings as ein Hess, in other words soldiers from the Germanic regions of Hesse-Cassel and nearby principalities that were hired from their rulers by George III to fight on the British side of the Revolutionary War. Many “Hessians” stayed in America, especially Pennsylvania, after the war’s end. Some had even previously deserted the British ranks and served in the American army. Miller illustrated the local “Hessians,” that he came to know when he was growing up.

Besides an informative introduction, two full pages is allotted to each “Hessian,” a full page of biography and an 8 1/2 x 11 inch full color likeness that could easily be framed. The full-bodied profile portraits sometimes show them holding objects relating to their trade or personal habits.

In my next post I will list the names of the 22 individuals. Even if you don’t find an ancestor, it is a delightful way to get to know York countians who lived and worked two centuries ago where many of us do today.

Posted in 1770s, 1780s, 1800s, artists, immigrants, Lewis Miller, military units, Pennsylvania Germans, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Hessians of Lewis Miller

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

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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.


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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 newspapers.com for YCHC patrons to use at no additional cost. Some, but not nearly all, York County papers have been digitized on newspapers.com. 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 ycpa89@msn.com.

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