York County, Pa., lacks brainpower, researchers say. But here’s the rest of the story.

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Pennsylvania Furniture, the West York-based fine furniture manufacturer operated for about 70 years after its founding in the 1890s. By 1949, the York County, Pa., company had manufactured more than 100,000 bedroom suites. Its craftsmen were an example of York countians who did not seek higher education, but performed their fine art with their hands. The old Pennsylvania Furniture building, center, still stands along Sumner Street in West York borough. Background posts: These antiques bear the York, Pa.-made Pennsylvania Furniture Co. label and Red Lion’s Ebert Furniture: From bedroom suites to gunstocks and Bethlehem Furniture Co. woodworker carved JFK statue.

York Town Square viewers have read the story of William Henry Hubley before.
A 1949 newspaper article about Hubley caught up with the 75-year-old in his 47th year at Pennsylvania Furniture, maker of fine bedroom suites, among other high-end furniture.
Hubley had missed only about 10 days of work in his tenure and could not recall being late for work.
“The dean, whom everyone familiarly called ‘Willie,’ would like to stay on the job so long as he is physically able,” the newspaper reported.
Willie comes to mind at a time that a study claims that the York area lacks brainpower… .


The research, put forth by online business magazine Portfolio.com, ranked the York area at 170 out of 200 in brainpower.
Somehow, the magazine assessed educational attainment and earning power of adults older than 25 years in age.
For years, York County has been moving its percentage of population with at least high school degrees upward.
In 2000, only four out of five adult York countians had a minimum of a high school degree. In 1970, that total was less than 50 percent.
Blame our agrarian heritage and a formerly healthy industrial base for that. Historically, people could get jobs without post-secondary degrees, and often without high school diplomas.
Times have changed, and York County schools are quite correctly emphasizing the value of post-secondary education, either at universities or trade schools.
They must keep drilling on that need, and students must realize that education doesn’t stop after 12 grades. Indeed, education is a lifelong process.
That said, does all this mean York countians lack brainpower?
It is true that York countians sometimes hold onto unenlightened ideas. The idea that tiny governments or police departments can manage efficiently in 21st century is one of them.
And the notion that York County can turn its back on the City of York and not suffer downstream consequences is another. So, you’ll hear stuff like: I’m not going into there (York) any more.
But York countians are clever and shrewd and practical.
And their interests are more varied than they’re given credit for.
So we’re back to William Henry Hubley.
Willie regularly attended York Symphony Orchestra concerts and avidly read
newspapers, to keep up with world happenings.
He enjoyed church concerts and regularly listened to “better musical programs” on the radio.
An accompanying newspaper photograph showed Hubley, clad in bib overalls, one hand on a piece of fine furniture.
That crafted, durable dresser, no doubt, sits in a bedroom somewhere today.
People who work with their hands can be Renaissance men and women, too.

Also of interest:

From bedroom suites to gunstocks and York-area woodcarver, furniture maker made life-size JFK statue. But where is it now? and Springetts collector attracts ‘Antiques Roadshow’s’ Kenos and Of York antiquarian Joe Kindig III: ‘He is generous with his knowledge’.

Archives:
All York Town Square posts from the start. (Key word search by using “find” on browser.)
– Of course, you can always search for York Town Square post on Google.

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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2 Responses to York County, Pa., lacks brainpower, researchers say. But here’s the rest of the story.

  1. Joe says:

    As I mentioned in another topic recently, how the rest of the country may look at York County is similar to how York County looks down upon York City. Proof being from the wonderful Topix commenters on the original article. Once again the City is to blame!
    While we have many great minds in this area, and we have a slew of professionals that specialize in great fields we also have an abundance of blue collar, under educated but quite possibly over-achieving citizens. Keep in mind how much of York County remains rural. Many farmers will be lumped into this category of “uneducated” especially those who learned farming through family lineage. By no means are they unintelligent! That is just but one example. So while our area does retain some highly intellectual, college educated individials, we do lose some to other areas due to lack of demand for a high quantity of those individuals here. But, we are far from an area filled with idiots!

  2. Jo says:

    Blue collar jobs equal blue collar salaries, blue collar politics, blue collar religion, blue collar literacy, blue collar lifestyle; little upward mobility. Under-educated and over-achieving? Perhaps. But there’s little better to offer in York and, indeed, most of Pennsylvania, which has been depressed since the closure of coal mines and steel mills more then thirty years ago. It is not York–it is Pennsylvania. The savior of areas like York County and the city will be mobility of outsiders who bring with them big money and who will insist on changes. Two of which, Yorkers dislike!

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