York City directory first step in finding history of a house

town
This postcard, courtesy of Betsy Baird and the Dallastown Area Historical Society’s Tumblr account, shows the town with its assortment of housing lining a street. What would you do if you wanted to research one of these houses. (Some ideas on that below). Meanwhile, a caption with this postcard asks: ‘Is this the fabled snow that our grandparent trudged two miles each way to school through? Just wondering too what happened when a horse drawn carriage met the trolley? See it coming down Main Street? Not much room for the trolley much less anything else!’ Also of interest:  Looking forward to Dallastown’s ‘Main Street, the Sequel.’

An e-mailer was curious about the history of a friend’s house.

How could she determine who previously lived in the house? she wondered. …


Lila Fourhman-Shaull, York County Heritage Trust’s archivist, noted that the ease of finding the answer depends on where the property is located. If it’s in the city, the Trust has York directories back to about 1917. With the criss-cross listings in the directories, researchers can even see who lived in the neighborhood, too.
If it’s outside the Greater York area, researchers would need to check the recorder of deeds office.
City directories, of course, can be easily overlooked as a beginning source for information. I recently used the Trust’s set to follow the history of York’s Crispus Attucks Center from its founding in 1931 in the former nurses quarters at the old York Hospital on West College Avenue to its new home at the former St. Luke’s Church on East Maple Street.
Handy sources, those city directories.
The Trust has created a handout listing sources there for looking up a property. (See below) You can send any queries to lfourhman-shaull@yorkheritage.org.

RESEARCHING YOUR HOME AND PROPERTY
Uncovering the history of your home can be very interesting and rewarding. Determining this story requires detective work and research that can not be taken lightly. The Library/Archives of the York County Heritage Trust has numerous sources that may be used in finding property information. It is first recommended that the property owner develop a lineage of previous owners by researching property deeds. It is important to realize first and foremost that not all deeds have been recorded. However, all recorded deeds beginning in 1749 are found at the York County Recorder of Deeds office. The York County Heritage Trust also has copies on microfilm of these deeds from 1749 – 1850 but it may be necessary to begin with recent property transfers and work backwards. It will be these names and dates that will become the “keys” to use with the following sources found in the YCHT library/archives.
* 1850 Moody York Boro map (reproduction available in Museum Shop)
o Lists property owners, churches and other public buildings in York
* 1860 Lake and Shearer map of York County
o large canvas wall map that lists each property owner as well as mills, schools and railroads (reproduction available in Museum Shop)
* 1876 Atlas of York County
o book of township maps listing each property owner as well as mills, schools and railroads (reproduction available in Museum Shop)
* 1976 Atlas and Plat Book – York County, PA sponsored by York County 4-H council
* architectural books
* Dempwolf architectural drawings collection
* family file collections and genealogies
* Grant Voaden York County mill collection
* manuscript files on businesses, locations, people and properties
* original PA. land records
o early 18th and 19th century land applications, surveys and warrants made to the Proprietors of Pennsylvania. Dr. Neal Hively has researched these documents and has printed over 30 maps with 16 related books for York County townships.
o over 13,000 copies of the surviving land records for York County (these are included in Dr. Hively’s compilations)
* photograph collection
* post card collection
* published township/boro histories
* Sanborn fire insurance maps (focus primarily on York City)
* tax maps
* York city directories
* York County histories; each are indexed and contain family and township biographies
o 1886 History of York County – Gibson
o 1907 History of York County – Prowell
* York County tax records (YCHT has microfilm copies 1762-1849) and the originals are found at the York County Archives
All of these materials are available for use at the Library/Archives during our hours of operation; Tuesday thru Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is located at 250 East Market Street in York. A $6 daily user fee is applicable if not a member of the Trust. Photocopies of most of these materials can be made by the staff. The fragile condition of some of these materials prohibits photocopying.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.

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