Stone structures tell York countians how their ancestors lived

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Welsh miners from the southeastern York County village of Coulsontown worshipped at the nearby Slate Ridge Presbyterian Church. Clearly, some of the slate they mined found its way into the church’s cemetery as headstones (the darker markers), rather than the primary use for the stone – roofing shingles. (See additional photos below.) Background posts: Delta-Peach Bottom slate shingles: ‘Nothing works as good as this’ , Southeastern York County made for Sunday drive and Site filled with wealth of York County geological info.

When settlers legally moved into York County after 1730, they often constructed their homes out of the most-readily available building product.
Mostly, that was wood, and many of the log homes still standing around the county have long been covered with protective siding. But of course, most 1700s and 1800s log structures are long gone or are disappearing even today.


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Members of the Old Line Museum – Friends of the Welsh Cottages – have opened one of the former slate miners’ homes near Delta, right, to visitors as workers are rehabilitating it. The cottage at left will be restored later and serve as administrative quarters to prepare for visitors to this village – Coulsontown. (Photos in this post courtesy of Robert E. McClure III.)
Most of the county’s oldest homes were built from stone – the Schultz houses, the Gates House and the Cookes House are such examples. The Colonial Courthouse in York’s Centre Square was made of brick and would still be standing if the town’s fathers hadn’t clear it out in 1841. The Golden Plough Tavern is made partially of brick and partly of wood – called half-timber construction.
In the 1850s, the Welsh made their cottages in Coulsontown near Delta out of a local, easily workable stone called Cardiff conglomerate.
Their roofs, of course, were covered with slate. They used green marble, another prevalent stone in those parts, more sparingly.
Generally, those settlers with the means or seeking to build meeting places used field stones. The Guinston Presbyterian Church near Muddy Creek Forks is an example of that.
Good thing they chose building products sturdier than timber.
We can tell how our ancestors lived thanks to the handful of 1700s structures that stand today in York County.
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Guinston Presbyterian Church brings you back to the 1770s, which is when the stone church was built. The church’s pulpit is tall — almost as high as its balcony. A low bench to the side of the pulpit brings to mind stories about how children sat around the pulpit in the old days. With a pulpit that high, the preacher could scarcely see them.

About Jim McClure

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