Still more York County people moving west


As you know, the southeastern/southcentral Pennsylvania area was settled early, and then, as families grew, some members spread out through the rest of the country from here. The western parts of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina beckoned, as the settlers travelled down the valleys in quest of land. Some went more directly to western Pennsylvania, perhaps for Revolutionary War service land grants, and beyond, with whole counties in Ohio soon having a large population of former Pennsylvanians from York and Adams counties.

The ad below, from the April 4, 1816 York Gazette, shows that established businessmen went west too, probably to take advantage of the commerce that the pioneering farmers would bring.

“Valuable Property
The subscriber intending to remove to the western country, will dispose of at Private Sale, that handsome and well improved
situate on the main-street, a few doors east of the bridge and opposite Mr. Nes’s corner. The house is two stories high, and did in the month of March and April last undergo a complete repair, and improvement; it has been newly painted both out and inside. There are in all nine rooms, exclusive of an excellent Kitchen, Smoke-house, brick paved yard, good and new stabling, with every other convenience to make it a desirable situation. Part of the house is at present occupied as a store by the subscriber & co., having new and complete shelving and counters—making it an object for persons of any kind. The terms will be made easy.
January 23.”

Noble had quite a sizable house and store. He is also stressing the location and the improvements and fresh paint. It’s not too much different from our real estate ads of today. Since the ad is still running more than three months after it was initially places, Noble hadn’t found the right buyer yet. It sounds like the establishment might have been on one of the corners of Main (Market) Street and Water (Pershing) Avenue.

More on York County people moving west.

Posted in 1810s, Adams County, farming, Maryland, merchants, Ohio, Universal York, York County | Leave a comment

York County people flocked to the 1939 World’s Fair


Did anyone in your family visit the 1939 New York World’s Fair?

From the souvenirs that I have seen over the years at public sales and antique/collectible malls, usually featuring the Trylon (elongated pyramid) and Perisphere (globe), I figured a lot of York County people made the trip.

The railroads of 75 years ago made it easy to get to other places from York County, so I assumed that a lot of local people took the train to the fair. The article below, from the October 14, 1939 York Dispatch microfilm at York County Heritage Trust shows it was even easier than I thought. Evidently large employers sponsored entire special excursion trains:
Continue reading “York County people flocked to the 1939 World’s Fair” »

Posted in 1930s, 1960s, fairs, manufacturing, Pennsylvania Railroad, railroads, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

York County history has some dark sides

KKK39I admit I’m a cheerleader for York County history. Native Americans, about whom I know much less that I would like, made their homes in this area at various times over thousands of years. In addition, we are not very far away from the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the first European settlers on this side of the Susquehanna River. All these people have contributed to our rich and deep local history.

It’s not always pretty, however. I use the microfilmed York County newspapers at York County Heritage Trust as sources for many of my posts. Every now and then I come across something disturbing that I hesitate to share. But, if unsavory past incidents are brought to light, perhaps that can guide us to never going there again.

The report below, from the York Dispatch of October 16, 1939 is under the North York news banner. I’m sure any number of other York County municipalities could have just as easily hosted the convention. It is mind boggling to me to think that this was just 75 years ago.

It reads:

K.K.K, at State Conclave Session in Borough Favors President’s “Cash and Carry” plan.

Climaxing a discussion on the present European war, members of the Pennsylvania provincs of the Ku Klux Klan at their 13th annual state conclave in the borough Saturday adopted a resolution endorsing President Roosevelt’s neutrality program and the “Cash and Carry” plan.

Approximately 200 clansmen assembled in the Queen Street auditorium for the conclave. In addition to the resolution on the European situation the delegates also made public a resolution stating the Klan’s policy for the ensuing year.

State officers were elected and installed at the conclave sessions. Bradford, Pa. was selected as the place for next year’s gathering.

The conclave was brought to a close Saturday night with an outdoor demonstration, at which a large cross was burned on the hill at the rear of the auditorium.”

Click this link to go to the U.S. State Department websitelink to go to the U.S. State Department website for a fairly short explanation of the 1930s Neutrality Acts, including the “cash and carry” provision, that allowed United States manufacturers to sell anything except to arms to countries already at war, as long as they were immediately paid for and not shipped on American ships.

Posted in 1930s, North York, Universal York, York County | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Summer canning in York County

Lucky canning house, probably 1930s

Lucky canning house, probably 1930s

It is canning season again. As I indicated in the my York Sunday News column on York County canning houses a few years ago, there were commercial canneries of all sizes throughout 20th century York County. As far as I know, any remaining are very large scale, such as Hanover Foods.

An October 1939 York Dispatch article, from the York County Heritage Trust microfilm, recaps a successful canning season at Lucky, Chanceford Township. It reads: Continue reading “Summer canning in York County” »

Posted in 1930s, agriculture, canning, Chanceford Twp., farming, food, manufacturing, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Guards at Camp Security 5: Adam Black Part 2


Among the 56 pages in the Adam Black Revolutionary War pension file at the National Archives, two affidavits jumped out at me. While attesting that Captain Black’s company served two tours of guard duty at Camp Security, Nicholas James says that in his capacity of helping supply provisions to the camp, he was present there for much of the camp’s existence.

A word of caution is appropriate, especially I think, where he estimates the numbers of prisoners—James is giving these statements more than sixty years later of activities witnessed when he was a teenager.

Nicholas James’s first affidavit:

“Pennsylvania, York County
On this 19th day of July 1844 personally appeared before the subscriber, a Justice of the Peace in and for said county, Nicholas James aged seventy eight years who being duly sworn according to law doth say that in the Revolutionary War he was acquainted with Captain Adam Black (of Adams County later) then of York County, Pennsylvania, that he knew him at Camp Security in said County as a Captain of Militia for four or five months in the years 1781 & 1782. That in the Revolutionary War the prisoners taken from Burgoyne called the Convention Prisoners were in the early part of the year 1781 brought into the State of Pennsylvania from Albemarle in Virginia wither they had been removed sometime before from the North, that a large body of said prisoners were kept in York County aforesaid at a place called Camp Security—that afterwards the Prisoners taken from Cornwallis were brot from the South and a large part of them ordered to remain at said Camp Security—that during the years 1781-1782 and part of 1783 there must have been three or four thousand there who were guarded by the Militia Companies of the surrounding country. That Captain Black was there twice with a company in 1781 and 1782. The militia were generally required to serve two and three months at a time.
The deponent was engaged in the Commissary department generally, and among other services he rendered, it was his duty to haul and carry provisions to different parts of the Camp, & he was there all the time the Prisoners were in this County, engaged in the Commissary department and otherwise. Major Ashton and Major Bailey were the Commanding Officers at Camp Security.
[signed] Nicholas James
Sworn and subscribed the 19th day of July 1844 before me [signed] Jacob Glessner.

Nicholas James’s second affidavit reads: Continue reading “Guards at Camp Security 5: Adam Black Part 2” »

Posted in 1770s, 1780s, 1840s, Camp Security, prisoners, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Springettsbury Twp., Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guards at Camp Security 4: Adam Black Part 1

Document showing rifles available to each company of guards at Camp Security, February 1782

Document showing rifles available to each company of guards at Camp Security, February 1782

Revolutionary War Captain Adam Black was a native of the part of York County that is now Adams County. He died there in 1816, and his wife Sarah, who had been receiving a widow’s pension, died in 1842. Six of their original 13 children survived Sarah and applied for her pension as her heirs, as was allowed at that point, over 70 years after the war’s end.

Adam Black was named Ensign of a Company of Associators raised in York County on March 8, 1775. Brother Matthew Black attested in 1834, when Sarah applied for a pension, that he was a sergeant twice in Adam’s companies and that in the first tour they marched in 1776 to Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark and Amboy. The second tour, after Adam was named Captain, was spent in 1777 with Washington’s Army at Valley Forge. The unit may have been assigned to procure cattle and food for the army, not an easy task that winter.

According to Adam’s son William, Adam later served two tours as Captain of Militia Guards at Camp Security. Various lists and some affidavits seem to back that up, even though not many people who served at Camp Security were still alive by that time.

William appeared before court August 27, 1844. His declaration:

“…toward the close of the war, [Adam Black] was engaged in guarding prisoners taken from the British… .”

And from William Black’s July 7, 1845 deposition:

“That towards the close of the Revolution the said Captain Black, as this deponent has already stated in his declaration, was engaged with his company as Captain guarding British prisoners. He recollects hearing his father say that the prisoners sometimes were rebellious and sulky, and that the guard threatened to use their arms against them. Part of the service was performed he thinks at Camp Security—he cannot tell how long he was engaged in it, but it was towards York, and he further says that at no other time of his life was the said Captain Black engaged guarding prisoners except in the Revolutionary War.”

Backing up the claims were two documents certified May 29, 1845 by the Secretary of the Commonwealth as being true copies of originals in Harrisburg:
Continue reading “Guards at Camp Security 4: Adam Black Part 1” »

Posted in 1770s, 1830s, 1840s, archives, Camp Security, military units, prisoners, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Springettsbury Twp., Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thaddeus Stevens in York

Print of Thaddeus Stevens from original 1838 portrait by Jacob Eicholtz.  The portrait is owned by Gettysburg College.

Print of Thaddeus Stevens from original 1838 portrait by Jacob Eicholtz. The portrait is owned by Gettysburg College.

History is full or “what ifs.” We can only speculate on how a different path could have affected outcomes of important events in our history.

We might be familiar with the life of Thaddeus Stevens and his role in Congress as a strong advocate for the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment.

His connection with York County is usually ignored in biographical sketches, but there is an important “what if” there. How might history have been changed if the young teacher had stayed in his native Vermont and not applied for a position at the York County Academy, bringing him close to the Mason-Dixon line and the reality of slavery? Did his relocation spur him on to study law here and eventually launch his political career? “What if?”

See below for my recent York Sunday News column on Stevens and how his York sojourn.
Continue reading “Thaddeus Stevens in York” »

Posted in 1810s, 1860s, attorneys, Civil War, politics, slavery, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Guards at Camp Security: William Adams


William Adams is next in my continuing series on York County Militia members who served as guards at Camp Security. Adams was born in Ireland on February 4, 1748 and emigrated with his family to York County, where he enlisted in July 1776. He was later drafted, still as a resident of York County, first in November 1777 and then in August 1781 when his militia unit served as guard at Camp Security.

Adams moved west near the end of the war and, on October 6, 1834, at age 86, he filed his application for Revolutionary War pension in Washington County, Pennsylvania, even though he lived in neighboring Green County. He explained that the Washington County seat was just as close to his home, and that he had lived in Green County for only three years, whereas he had “ lived in Washington County different times since 1782, about forty years and am well known to the people.” (He had also lived for some years in Virginia and in Ohio.) The pension application paperwork was completed by 1835 but not submitted because Benjamin Stewart, Esq. mislaid the documents and then died.

In December 1836, now nearly 89 years old, Adams came to the Washington County court again, because he needed the pension money. He was willing to go through the process once more, but after another search the original papers were found and submitted in early 1837. It seems that the pension was usually paid in arrears, dating to the passage of the 1832 law authorizing the payments, so Adams did receive some funds to help support him until his death on November 2, 1848, only two months shy of his 101st birthday.

Included with the pension application was an affidavit from Rachel Danley, who evidently also lived in southwestern Pennsylvania. According to Adams, she was the only living person that he knew who had known him during the time he served. She seems to have been his sister.

Someone had shared William’s pension application with me a few years ago, and I included part of it in a blog post then. Here is a link to his account of guarding the British prisoners “three miles from Little York.” I think his narrative is interesting because he calls the camp “Cooko’s [Cuckoo’s] Nest” instead of the more common “Camp Security.”

What I hadn’t seen before I looked at the original microfilm at the National Archives was Rachel Danley’s affidavit. It not only names family members and friends that marched off to serve in 1776, but also includes Rachel’s account of babysitting while William’s wife went to visit him while he was serving in the militia guard at Camp Security.

Rachel’s deposition, taken October 15, 1836 before J.P. Alexander Frazier reads:

“Washington County.
Personally before me the Subscriber, a Justice of the Peace in and for said County, came Rachel Danley, who being sworn according to Law, doth depose and say, that she has been acquainted with William Adams, who she understands is now an applicant for the pension from the U. States, since he was a lad, or more than sixty years, and remembers that during the Revolutionary War [illegible word] occasion, Wm. Adams, the petitioner, deponents father, William Adams, Henry Adams, her brother-in-law James Drummond & William Scott volunteered for a two month tour. Deponent saw them all depart from her father’s house in York County.

In addition to the above term of service, Deponent remembers William Adams, the petitioner, was absent from home…two months as a drafted soldier guarding the British prisoners near Little York in this State, and what strengthens her recollections is that she the deponent, nursed and took care of the petitioners wife’s child, whilst the said wife went to visit the petitioner at the camp on one occasion…Deponent never saw the petitioner in camp, but remembers that when the above soldiers came home from camp they brought with them Iron[?] ball and buckshot.”

William Adams appears on the militia list of Captain Samuel Fulton’s company, which guarded Camp Security from August 12th to October 12th 1781. Click here for the militia lists posted on the Friends of Camp Security. They were compiled by Blake Stough from the published Pennsylvania Archives.

Click here for more posts on Camp Security.

Posted in 1770s, 1830s, 1840s, Camp Security, military units, prisoners, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Springettsbury Twp., Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Guards at Camp Security: Andrew Anderson, Part 2

CS-Anderson, Andrew5

My last post included an excerpt from the April 1834 Revolutionary War pension application supplement of Andrew Anderson. Anderson was part of the militia guard at Camp Security near York in late 1781. As promised, here is a more detailed and slightly different version of the description; this one is from his original December, 1833 application:

“That this applicant, under his third draft, was for most of the time stationed at a garrison or fort in the vicinity of Little York, Pennsylvania where the Soldiers laid a few miles from Little York, that the Soldiers built a Stockade at that place in the woods, where the Soldiers built ‘Block Houses’ in live in, that whilst stationed there they built a Block House to keep the Prisoners in, that a portion of the Prisoners who had been taken at the capture of Lord Cornwallis was sent to that place, where this applicant with the Drafted Militia of York County, under the command of Major William Bailey, who was the highest Officer at that place in command, was employed to take care of and keep guard of the British Prisoners who had been sent there to be detained as Prisoners of War.”

As you can see Anderson is using “block houses” here instead of “log houses,” as he did a few months later. He also used the term “log huts.” Anderson continues:

“That this applicant recollects that whilst so stationed there, he and several others went out into the country to get straw to cover their log Huts, that they got it of the Farmers in the neighborhood of Little York, that the Farmers told the soldiers they might have the straw if the grain was out of it. That Major Bailey sent this applicant along with several others to thresh out a large quantity of grain, that the solders could have the straw for the use of the soldiers, that this applicant assisted in threshing it out, and assisted to bring it into the Camp.”

When Anderson says “soldiers,” he seems to be referring to the local militia, as opposed to the term “prisoners” for the British. He also mentioned the sicknesses that affected the prisoners, as well as the poor rations for the soldiers:

“That whilst the British Prisoners were stationed at this place, a great number of them died of a Complaint which seemed to be mortal to the Prisoners, but did not spread or affect the Americans. That many of the Prisoners died of the Complaint whist at that place.

That for some of the time, the soldiers had nothing to eat but ‘Flour.’ That the soldiers could get no meat, that they got, each man, two pounds of Flour, and lived on that till they could get meat. They lived on Flour, or Bread alone, without meat for two or three weeks. That, after they got meat, that the soldiers were frequently out of Bread as well as meat, during the applicants third tour of three months service.”

This link will take you to the Friends of Camp Security website.

This link will take you to my previous posts on Camp Security.

Posted in 1780s, 1830s, Camp Security, disease, military units, prisoners, Revolutionary War, soldiers, Springettsbury Twp., Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Guards at Camp Security: Andrew Anderson

CS-Anderson, Andrew15

Who were the men of the Pennsylvania Militia that served as guards at Camp Security? They could be your ancestors. About 1,140 of these York County citizens, the individuals that served from July 1781 through May 1782, are listed in Volume 2, Sixth Series of the published Pennsylvania Archives. Blake Stough transcribed these lists and they are on the Friends of Camp Security website.

My current project at the National Archives is to research and scan from the microfilm the pension papers of as many of these militia men that I can find. There no papers for the majority of the militia members—they didn’t live long enough to be granted pensions under subsequent laws, some of which were passed fifty years after the war, that would have made them eligible; they didn’t serve long enough; or, they just never applied. Some also mention that it was long ago and they are remembering details to the best of their ability.

The papers that can be found sometimes offer clues that might help us locate the components of Camp Security. I am sharing excerpts from the pension papers in this and future blog posts.

The passage below is from the pension application of Andrew Anderson. He was a native of Hopewell Township, York County and served three tours of duty in the York County militia, including three months as a guard at what we now call Camp Security. By 1833, when he applied for a pension under the Act of 1832 at age 72, he had been living for many years in Wayne County, Ohio. This particular segment is from a paper filed in April 1834 to supplement his 1833 application. I will be including parts of the longer 1833 application, which contain more information on the prisoner of war camp at York, in future posts.

Anderson attests that from September 1 to December 1, 1781:

“… this applicant served his said last mentioned period of duty at Little York, and at a Garrison near that place, that the soldiers built a Stockade of loggs in the woods, and put up logg Houses to live in, that the soldiers were on duty as a guard to keep the Prisoners of War, who had been captured by the Americans, that the Prisoners were kept in stockade at a place near little York in York Co., Pennsylvania, that they had been sent to this place from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that several of the British who were kept as prisoners of war died of a sickness or complaint that affected the British who were prisoners, but did not affect the American Troops at all, that the disease was altogether amongst the prisoners who were confined within the Stockade. That the Captain under whom I served was Captain Furry of York County and Lieut. Sinn, Major Bailey, Col. Davis.”

The Friends of Camp Security invites the public to attend a meeting at the Springettsbury Township building Wednesday, June 18 from 6 to 8 p.m. for information on the archaeological dig planned for the site this September.

This link will take you to my many previous posts on the Camp Security area.

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