In search of Potato Town, York County, Pa.


Potato Town, York County, Pennsylvania? This structure, an old school house, was all that was left of the gathering of about a half dozen houses in North Codorus Township when Armand Glatfelter was writing his history of that township. Is it still standing? Let Ron Dise and I know. (Update: Check out this ‘after’ photograph to show Potato Town today. Also see the comments below for more information on Potato Town, including how to get there.) Also of interest: Chipmaking of the potato kinds has deep roots in York County.

The recent Codorus Valley Chronicles carried a reprint from an Armand Glatfelter piece about Potato Town, a settlement of workers houses.

Glatfelter writes in “The Flowering of the Codorus Palatinate” that the extended family of settler Peter Lau operated a potato farm on the south side of the Codorus Creek in the township for decades. He said the houses for those working in the potato patches stood along Martin Road.

The houses included a structure housing a Sunday School and then later a schoolhouse. The construction of Indian Rock Dam in 1942 took the houses, but the schoolhouse remained standing.

Enter tireless student of history Ronald Dise, who is a leader of the Codorus Valley Historical Society and the history community in southern York County.

I asked him whether the old schoolhouse, described by Glatfelter in 1988 as the last remaining log school building in the township, still stands.

Ron went to work.

Here’s part of our exchange:

Me: Ron, really appreciate getting these (newsletters). Very interesting. Hey, could you help me locate Potatotown? You mention a school is still standing there. Can you give me roads that run nearby or landmarks? I know that you mention some houses are no longer there but the school is. Just trying to place where it was. Thanks. And keep up the good work.

Ron: I called the North Codorus Township office and asked them if they could direct me to this building in the Indian Rock Dam area. They never heard of it. So my wife and I drove around the Indian Rock Dam, trying to locate the house that was pictured in the book, I wanted to take an up to date photo. (He explained that he could not locate the home and does not know if it’s still standing. It might be back a private lane.)

Me: Thanks, Ron. Maybe I’ll just ask on my blog if people know where Potato town was. Thanks for checking!

Potato Town

If you can locate the former site of this hamlet or the site of the old school, comment below.

Also of interest:

If you’d like to inquire about membership in the Codorus Valley Historical Society or receiving the Codorus Valley Chronicles via email, contact Ron Dise.

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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9 Responses to In search of Potato Town, York County, Pa.

  1. Sue H says:

    I always heard Potato Town was along the creek between Stoverstown and Bair Station on Martin Rd. Off Stoverstown Rd.

  2. Sue H says:

    When I was little we lived on Sunnyside road and would go for walks along the creek. There were remains of a potato storage building along the creek on the north side.

  3. Jim … Per Sue H’s comments, the closest schoolhouse, and only schoolhouse in the general area, was the Cherry Grove School. The school was located in the North Codorus Township triangle of land bounded by Stoverstown Road, Salem Road and Cherry Lane. Per my school index at YorksPast, a “P” indicates that something about this school is in the “Photo Clippings Notebooks of York County One-Room Schools” at York County Heritage Trust (974.841 Y61); very likely a photo, so that might be a good place to start.

  4. Jim … In my haste to answer, I only looked carefully at my list of Identified Schools; which turned up Cherry Grove School. I failed to look closely at my cryptic list of unidentified schools; i.e. symbols showing up as a school on a map, however with school name not known. Two unidentified schools, on maps earlier than 1900, fall within a half-mile of Cherry Grove School. One school is pinpointed on Martin Road; I visited this site Monday, the house matches the picture at the beginning of your post. See http://www.yorkblog.com/yorkspast/2013/04/02/are-these-three-schools-in-or-near-potato-town-north-codorus-township/

  5. Kyle Dunlap says:

    I just came across this story, and wanted to comment about my recent trip to Potatotown. I am a descendant of Peter Lau and believe I have some of the original deeds to some of the property in Potatotown. My great grandparents (Melvin and Beaulah (Lau) Gentzler lived in a small house in Potatotown after their marriage. My grandfather (Harold Gentzler) and his brothers and sister were born here. He and my grandmother then lived in Potatotown when my mother was born. The only remnants of their home is the stone and brick foundation of the home and barn. My great uncle, Nevin Gentzler, took my mother and I to this site a few months ago. I’m sure he would be more than happy to discuss Potatotown with you. My great great uncle, John Lau (who will be 99 in July) would also know about this site and is possibly the oldest living descendent of Peter Lau.

  6. Louann Hoover says:

    That is my Mom’s house and my Dad is the man in the photo. My Mom still lives there. Daddy is gone now but if he saw this he would be laughing!!!! He just loved that he was in that book!!! Thank you for the memory

    Louann Hoover

  7. Kaela Glatfelter says:

    I think this is so cool! Thank you for the great history lesson on my family. I miss you Grandpa. I wish I could drive past your house and still see you standing there just like the picture. My son Kodee was just there yesterday. I wish he could of know the proud man in the photo. Thank you for bringing me a cherished memory

  8. Nancy Smith says:

    Hope you found this place by now. It is still standing, and lived in . My sister lives there. It was my grandparents , named Goodling, home when I was a child. long time ago.

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