York blacksmith offers sizable award for return of apprentice

Runaway$30

It is obvious that I find old newspapers fascinating. The items serve as snapshots of the time, giving a picture of what was then happening in the same spaces we occupy today. In addition, the incidents described and unfamiliar terms used are often springboards for further exploration.

The $30 reward offered for the return of this runaway blacksmith’s apprentice is a fairly high one for the period. That would be the equivalent of around $725 today. He also had a nice wardrobe for apprentices of the time, in comparison with similar ads for runaways. It is interesting that his companion isn’t sought, although it seems like he might also work for blacksmith Matson. Perhaps he is a paid worker, not a legally bound apprentice. Both young men seem to have more names than necessary.

See below for transcription of the March 1837 York Gazette ad and explanations of some of the terms used:
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Posted in 1830s, 1850s, advertising, apprentices, blacksmiths, occupations, Universal York, Wrightsville, York County | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Recently discovered correspondence of folk artist Lewis Miller shines light on his later life

Recently acquired Lewis Miller drawing showing Yorkers having a drink after their candidate lost the election for Governor in 1821

Recently acquired Lewis Miller drawing showing Yorkers having a drink after their candidate lost the election for Governor in 1821

Call it providence, serendipity, fate, karma or whatever you want, but in the study of history, as with many things, it is remarkable how undiscovered resources appear at exactly the right time. Just as York County Heritage Trust came out with a new book of mostly previously unpublished drawings by well know York folk artist, Lewis Miller, the Trust was offered a series of touching letters between Miller and his great-nephew, describing how the creation of many of the newly published drawings came to be.

See below for the transcriptions of the letters as recorded in my recent York Sunday News column:
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Posted in 1790s, 1800s, 1860s, 1880s, artists, books, carpenters, Lewis Miller, publications, Universal York, Virginia, York County | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When did York High officially become known as William Penn Senior High School?

First York High on South Duke Street

First York High on South Duke Street

A friend asked me this the other day. I remembered that there were four different high schools in the city of York over the years and where they were, or still are, located, but I didn’t recall the exact dates.

Others, such as fellow blogger Jim McClure, have written on the subject before, but it keeps coming up, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to write about again. I headed to the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives to verify dates and look for photos.

See below for a rundown and photos of the buildings:

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Posted in 1870s, 1890s, 1920s, architecture, buildings, celebrations, education, parades, schools, Universal York, York City, York County | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stauffer’s cookies and crackers have a long and tasty history

HorseWagonSm

A friend told me earlier this week that she was at the Stauffer Cookie outlet on Belmont Street in York, and that they still had chocolate stars. I’m sure they won’t be around too long. Since they discontinued the chocolate bunnies a few years ago, it will seem like a long time until the stars come out again next Christmas.

Here is my recent York Sunday News column on the founding and evolution of the company from a small cracker bakery on downtown York founded by D. F. Stauffer in 1871, to a multinational operation. Just so they keep on making those chocolate stars. Continue reading “Stauffer’s cookies and crackers have a long and tasty history” »

Posted in 1870s, 1920s, 1950s, 1990s, 2000s, bakers, food, Universal York, York County, York Furnace | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ned Spangler at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Part 2

Cell area where Spangler and the other Lincoln prisoners were confined.

Cell area where Spangler and the other Lincoln prisoners were confined.

Here is the second part of the letter published in October 25, 1865 in the Aledo [Ill.] Weekly Record, about three months after Edman (Ned) Spangler began serving his sentence of six years at Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas. He was probably writing to friends or relatives that had moved there during that strong period of westward expansion. A Google search shows that there are Spanglers today in Mercer County, Ill., the location of Aledo.

This letter is one of the earliest I have read written by Ned declaring his complete innocence, as assertion he stuck with the rest of his life. It continues his description of his relationship with Booth: Continue reading “Ned Spangler at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Part 2” »

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Ned Spangler didn’t find Fort Jefferson a nice place to visit

Fort Jefferson in the 1860s. Digital source: U-M Library Digital Collections. Harper Weekly.

Fort Jefferson in the 1860s.
Digital source: U-M Library Digital Collections. Harper Weekly.


Native Yorker Edman (Ned) Spangler was among the eight defendants tried for conspiracy in the assassination of President Lincoln. He was the only one of the eight found not guilty of conspiracy. The 1865 military commission presiding at the trial did find Spangler guilty of aiding and abetting Booth’s escape from Ford’s Theater, and he was sentenced to six years of hard labor at Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas, isolated islands off southern Florida. This link will take you to my previous York Sunday News article on Spangler.

Spangler was pardoned, along with Dr. Samuel Mudd and Samuel Arnold by President Johnson in 1869, perhaps in part because of the assistance rendered by these prisoners during a devastating yellow fever outbreak at Fort Jefferson in 1867. Lincoln conspirator Michael O’Laughlen died there from the disease.

Spangler spent his life proclaiming his innocence, writing articulate letters and statements in his defense. Copies of some of these items are on file at the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives. One item I came across was published October 25, 1865 in the Aledo [Ill.] Weekly Record. He was probably writing to a friend or relative who had moved west. It describes daily life at Ft. Jefferson, where Spangler had been for three months by then. The first part of the letter reads:
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Posted in 1860s, buildings, Civil War, Lincoln Conspiracy, museums, prisoners, prisons, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

York Square fixture—the Colonial Hotel

ColonialHotel-day

(When looking at early 20th century postcards to illustrate this post, I noticed that many of them include both the Colonial Hotel and the Rupp Building, making the hotel seem even more massive. Note the “day” view above has been changed into the “night” view below with the addition of a moon and dark clouds.)

The big yellow brick building on the southwest quadrant of the square in York, Pa. has been a landmark for over 100 years. The hotel building survived a major fire in the 1940s that gutted the top two stories. Many people remember the People’s Drug Store, occupying part of the first floor mid-20th century, as a place to grab a quick lunch, pick up cosmetics and many other items besides medications.

Some of the roofline has been modified, and I believe much of the building has been divided into condos, but it is still an impressive pile of bricks. Building the structure was a major endeavor in the 1890s, attracting the interest of residents, as shown in this article from the May 25, 1893 York Dispatch, shared with me by York County Heritage Trust Director of Library and Archives, Lila Fourhman-Shaull:
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York’s Joe the Motorist Friend was the place to buy Lionel trains

ChristmasToys2-56

The full page ad from Joe the Motorist Friend (see below) is almost exclusively for Lionel trains, a specialty of the Joe’s stores. The address at the bottom of this ad and the toy ad in my last post, both from the December 13, 1956 Gazette and Daily, cite the store at the year-old York County Shopping Center, with its “acres of free parking. There were other Joe’s stores, however, scattered throughout the county.
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Posted in 1950s, celebrations, children, Christmas, holidays, merchants, Pennsylvania Railroad, retail stores, shopping, Universal York, York County | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Sniffles dolls and toy machine guns at York’s Joe the Motorist Friend store.

ChristmasToys1-56

Fellow blogger Joan Concilio discovered York countians have lots of memories of Joe the Motorists’ Friend stores, and she has shared them in several of her blog posts. The regional chain sold tires, automotive items and other things, but the toys stand out at Christmas time.

I’m sharing two full page Christmas ads from Joe’s in this post and the next one. They are both from the December 13, 1956 Gazette and Daily. The text reproduces too small to read, so I’ll pick out some highlights from each ad:
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Remember your letters to Santa?

SantaMail12-56

Do many children still write letters to Santa? According to this article from the December 15, 1956 Gazette and Daily, the post office was inundated with them then.

Billy, the writer who wanted a monkey, must be about retirement age by now. I wonder if he is still looking for Santa to bring his monkey. The account reads:
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