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History of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present online

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John Blackburn, a Quaker, residing in
Warrington Township, presided over the next
court, beginning October 17, 1761:.

George Stevenson. Esq., who was prosecut-
ing attorney at the first court of quarter ses-
sion, and was clerk of the court, register, and
recorder since the erection of the county
in 1749, presented his resignation to the court
on October 30, 1764, after having served in
that office sixteen years in succession.

The court records kept under his direction,
still in an excellent state of preservation, are
examples of neatness and care. The court,
after appropriate ceremonies, accepted his
resignation, and Samuel Johnston was ap-
pointed to succeed him in office. Johnston
presented to the court his commission "from
the Hon. John Penn, lieutenant governor,"
at the next meeting of the court, which was
read and approved.

During the next two sessions, the celebrat-
ed Benjamin Chew, attorney-general of Penn-
sylvania, was present and conducted the pros-
ecution in certain important provincial cases.

Alexander Ramsey, keeper of the jail of
York County, petitions the July court setting
forth, that Andrew McCollins, "a runaway
servant boy (redemptioner) has remained in
jail for a long time, and has been advertised
and notice given to his master," whereupon
the court ordered that the said servant be sold
to pay the said jailer what is due him for
support and maintenance while in prison.

In the year 1768, a certain defendant was
convicted of stealing from John Spore two
gold Spanish doubloons, one gold Spanish
pistole, one gold French pistole, one gold coin
called a half Johannes, two bills of credit of
Maryland, all of which were valued at the
amount of £24 in the province of Pennsyl-
vania. There, doubtless, was a great variety
of money in use during this period. At the
January sessions (1768) the citizens of Man-
I Chester Township petitioned the court, set-
[ ting forth that they had learned that "cer-


tain citizens of Manchester, Dover and New- I
berry Townships had petitioned the court for !
a public road, to lead into George Street,
York; that the said road from the north, as
petitioned for, would lead through James
Wright's unimproved meadow land, which is
low ground, and would have to be cause-
wayed, and extend across Codorus Creek, '
which, during a great part of the year, would
be impassable, except the county would build
an expensive bridge. The creek at this
point is very broad and the banks low. We,
therefore, petition the court to have the road
laid out so as to enter High (Market) Street,
where there ia a bridge. " This petition
shows that no bridge at this time existed
over the Codorus at North George Street,
but that there was one on West Market
Street. At the April session of the same
year, the court, by the advice of the grand '
jury, ordered that '' a good stone bridge be
built over the Codorus Creek in York, and
appoint David Jamison, Martin Eichel-
berger, Michael Swoope and Samuel John-
ston, Esqs., and Thomas Stockton, Joseph
ITpdegraff, Hugh Dunwoodie and "Dr." '
John Meem to agree with proper workmen,
and have the same built as soon as conven-
ient, the old bridge of wood being very
much decayed, and the sills rotten, so that
it was dangerous to cross with heavy wagons."
The old stone bridge, which stood so many
years at that point, was built the following

In July sessions, 1^68, the county com-
missioners requested that the county prison
be enlarged, as it was too small for a work-
house and prison, and that the walls were
not safe, whereupon the court ordered them
to build an additional building. This was
done during the next year. It was the same
building which stood on the corner of South
George and King Streets until 1S55, when
the present jail building was erected.

At the October sessions James Pitt was
found guilty of counterfeiting a two-shilling
bill of credit of the province of Pennsyl-
vania, changing it to a ten-shilling bill of |
credit. The defendant plead not guilty. |
The case was conducted by Andrew Allen,
attorney- general of the province. The de-
fendant, upon a trial before twelve men, was
found guilty and received the following
terrible sentence: "That the said defendant
stand in the pillory in York on the 29th day
of November of the year 1768, between the j
hours of ten and twelve in the forenoon, for 1
one hour. That then he shall have both ears cut
off, and that they be nailed to the said pil-
lory. That the said defendant shall then be

whipped at the publick whipping-post in York
with thirty-nine lashes on the bare back well
laid on, and then pay a fine of 100 pounds law-
ful money, the one half to the governor of this
province for support of the government, and
the one half to the discoverer; that the de-
fendant pay the costs of this prosecution, and
as he has no lands or tenements, goods or
chattels to pay said fine, he is hereby ad-
judged to be sold for the term of four years
to make satisfaction for the said fine of 100

The penalty for counterfeiting was sure
death in England at this time, and until a
much later period.

Michael Graybill was appointed keeper of
the workhouse and the house of correction
for York County, to serve during his pleasure,
January, 1771.

An order to build a bridge across the Co-
dorus Creek at William Spengler's mill, on
the road leading from York to Baltimore, was
granted April, 1772. Robert McPherson,
Esq., of Marsh Creek, now Gettysburg, was
then president justice of the court. In 1774
a woman was convicted of stealing two
articles of clothing, and was sentenced to re-
ceive fifteen lashes at the whipping-post.
Extracts from records of a later date might
prove interesting but cannot here be given.
The presiding officers of the court for the
first twenty-five years were all English; Mar-
tin Eichelberger and Michael Swope were
the first Germans who attained prominence
in court matters.

We close these notes with a letter sent
from Conewago, now Hanover, to George
Stevenson, who was one of the "bosses" in
county affairs. Politics is politics even un-
der the King.

Friend Stevenson: We spoke with our nebors
that you shall Run Sheriff on our ticket if you but
in Frederick Gelwix for commissioner that is to say
iu our parts and if not you shall have no interest
more in our parts and if you will Do So send us a
few lines back again. So much from your friends.
Michael Danner.
Fred. Gelwix.
Conewago, Sept. 14, 1765.

The original is in possession of Henry
Wirt of Hanover.

"db." dady.

The following account of that noted im-
postor. Dr. Dady, is taken from that written
lay the Hon. John Joseph Henry, then president
judge of our courts, and sent by him to
Philadelphia with the convicted impostor.
Judge Henry wrote the account from notes
taken at the trial.

Dr. Dady, who was a German, came to this
country with the Hessians during the Eevolu-



tion. Possessing a fascinating eloquence in
the German language, and being fluent in
the English, he was employed as a minister
by uninformed but honest Germans, which he
laid aside and assumed the character of a
physician. He came to York County, and
dwelt among the inhabitants of a mountain-
ous part (now within Adams County), where,
in various artful ways, he preyed on the
purses of the unwary.

The following is an account of an Adams
County imposition :

Rice Williams, or Rainsford Rogers, a New
Englander, and John Hall, a New Yorker,
(both of whom had been plundering the
inhabitants of the Southern States by their
wiles.) came to the house of Clayton Cham-
berlain, a neighbor of Dady, in July, 1797.

In the morning, Dady went to Chamberlain's
and had a nrivate conversation with Williams
and Hall. ' After Dady had left, Williams
asked Chamberlain whether the place was
haunted. Being answered in the negative,
he said that it was haunted — that he had
been born with a veil over his face, could
see spirits, and had been conducted thither,
sixty miles, by a spirit. Hall assented to
the truth of this. In the evening, they had
another interview with Dady. Williams told
Chamberlain, that if he would permit him to
tarry he would show him a spirit. This being
agreed to, they went into a field in the even-
ing, and AVilliams drew a circle on the
ground, around which he directed Hall and
Chamberlain to walk in silence. A terrible
screech was soon heard proceeding from a
black ghost (!!!) in the woods, at a little dis-
tance from the parties, in the direction oppo-
site to the place where Williams stood. In
a few minutes a white ghost appeared, which
Williams addressed in a language which
those who heard him could not understand ;
the ghost replied in the same language.
After his ghostship had gone away, Williams
said that the spirit knew of a treasure which
it was permitted to discover to eleven men —
they must be honest, religious and sensible,
and neither horse-jockeys nor Ii-ishmen.

The intercourse between Williams and
Dady now ceased to be apparent ; but it was
continued in private. Chamberlain, convinced
of the existence of a ghost and a treasure,
was easily induced to form a company, which
was soon effected.

Each candidate was initiated by the re-
ceipt of a small sealed paper, containing a
little yellow sand, which was called ''the
power." This "power" the candidate was
to bury in the earth to the depth of one inch,

for three days and three nights, performing
several other absurd ceremonies.

A circle two inches in diameter was formed
in the field, in the centre of which there was
a hole six inches wide and as many deep. A
captain,a lieutenant and three committee-men
were elected. Hall had the honor of the
captaincy. The exercise was to pace around
the circle, &c. — This, it was said, strength-
ened the white ghost, who was opposed by a
black ghost. In the course of their exercises
they often saw the white ghost.

On the night of August 18, 1797, Will-
iams undertook to get instructions from the
white ghost. He took a sheet of white pa-
per, and folded it in the form of a letter,
when each member breathed into it three
times. The following is an extract from the
epistle written by the ghost.

' • Go on, and do right, and prosper, and
the treasure shall be yours. I am permitted
to write this in the same hand I wrote in the

flesh for your direction — O „J^^ Take

care of your powers in the name and fear of
God our protector — if not, leave the work.
There is a great treasure, £-1,000 apiece, for
you. Don't trust the black one. — Obey or-
ders. Break the enchantment, which you
will not do until you get an ounce of mineral
dulcimer eliximer; some German doctors has
it. It is near, and dear, and scarce. Let the
committee get it — but don't let the doctor
know what you are about — he is wicked."

The above is but a part of this communi-
cation. A young man named Abraham Kephart
waited, by order of the committee, on Dr.
Dady. The Doctor preserved his eliximer in
a bottle sealed with a large red seal, and
buried in a heap of oats, and demanded $15
for an ounce of it. Young Kephart gave him
$36 and three bushels of oats for three ounces
of it. Yost Liner gave the Doctor $121 for
eleven ounces of the stuff.

The company was increased to thirty-nine
persons, many of whom were wealthy.
Among those who were duped were, Clayton
Chamberlain, Yost Liner, Thomas Bigham,
William Bigham, Samuel Togert, John
M'Kinney, James Agnew, James M'Cleaiy,
Robert Thompson, David Kissinger, George
Shockley, Peter AVikeart and John Philips.
All these were in the words of the indictment
" cheated and defrauded by means of pre-
tended spirits, certain circles, certain brown
powder, and certain compositions called min-
eral dulcimer elixer, and Deterick's elixer."

The following is an account of their pro-
ceedings in Shrewsbury Township: Williams
intimated that he had received a call from a


ghost resident in those parts, at the distance
of forty miles from Dady's. Jacob Weiser
was the agent of Williams. He instituted a
company of twenty-one persons, all of whom
were ignorant people. The same ceremonies
were performed by these people, and the com-
munications of the ghost were obtained in a
still more ridiculous manner than before. The
communications mentioned Dr. Dady, as the
person from whom they should obtain the
dulcimer elixer, as likewise a kind of sand
which the ghost called the " Asiatic sand,"
and which was necessary in order to give ef- :
tieacy to the ' ' power. " Ulrich Neaff, a com-
mittee-man of this company, paid to Dr.
Dady $90 for seven and a half ounces of the
elixer. The elixer was put into vials, and
each person who had one of them held it in j
his hand and shook it as he pranced round
the circle; on certain occasions he annointed
his head with it, and afterward, by order of
the spirit, the vial was buried in the ground.

Paul Baliter, another of the committee-men,
took with him to Dr. Dady's a 1100 to pur-
chase " Asiatic sand." at |3 per ounce. Dady
being absent, Williams procured from the
Doctor's shop as much sand as the money
would purchase. In this instance Williams
cheated the Doctor, for he kept the spoil to |
himself, and thence arose an overthrow of j
the good fraternity. j

Each of them now set up for himself.
Williams procured directions from his ghost,
that each of the companies should dispatch a
committeeman to Lancaster to buy ' ' Deder-
ick's mineral elixer " of a physician in that
place. In the meantime Williams &nd his
wife went to Lancaster, where they prepared |
the elixer, which was nothing but a compo-
sition of copperas and cayenne pepper. Mrs.
Williams, as the wife of John Huber, a Ger-
man doctor, went to Doctor Rose, with a let- [
ter dated '' thirteen miles from New Castle,
Delaware," which directed him how to sell
the article, etc. The enormity of the price
aroused the suspicion of Dr. Eose. In a few
days the delegates from the committee ar-
rived and purchased elixer to the amount of
$740.33. When the lady came for the money
she was arrested, and the secret became
known. Her husband, Williams, escaped.

A few days after the disclosures made by
Mrs. Williams, an indictment was presented
in the criminal court of York County, against
Dr. John Dady, Rice Williams, Jesse Miller, '
Jacob Wister, the elder, and John Wister,
the younger, for a conspiracy to cheat and
defraud. The trial took place in June fol- '
lowing, and resulted in the conviction of
Wister, the elder, and of Dr. Dady — the i

former of whom was fined $10 and impris-
oned one month in the county jail, the latter
fined 190, and sentenced to two years in the
penitentiary of Philadelphia.



SLAVERY was introduced into Virginia col-
ony in 1620, by the arrival of a Dutch trad-
ing vessel at Norfolk, loaded with colored
Africans. It existed in Pennsylvania under
the Swedes and the Dutch, prior to granting
of the province to William Penn. The col-
onial assembly as early as 1712, passed an
act to restrain its increase. Th? same
authority, later, imposed a prohibitory duty
on the importation of slaves into the province.
This was repealed by the crown, as slavery
was then common in England. The price
of an imported negro, about the middle of
last century, ranged from £-10 to £100, Penn-
sylvania currency. The Society of Friends
who for many years controlled the legisla-
tive assembly, took an active part in the abo-
lition of slavery, and at an early period,
would not allow any of their members to
own slaves.

The Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition
of Slavery, was founded in 1775. It contin-
ued an organization until Abraham Lincoln,
in 1863, struck the death blow to slavery, by
signing that immortal document — the Eman-
cipation Proclamation. The great philoso-
pher, Benjamin Franklin, was its first presi-
dent, and Dr. Benjamin Rush, the first sec-
retary. This society, in 1790, sent a memo-
rial to congress, bearing the official signa-
ture of Benjamin Franklin, asking that
body to devise means for removing the in-
consistency of slavery frona the Ajnerican
people. On March 1, 1780, owing to the
pressure of public opinion, the legislature of
Pennsylvania passed an act for the gradual
abolition of slavery. This law required
that all slaves should be registered in the
office of the clerk of the court of quarter
sessions, on or before November 1, 1780.
The name, age, term of service and valuation
of the slave, were demanded; all persons
held as slaves for life, or until the age of
thirty-two years, should- continue as such;
but all persons born after that date of slave
parents should be free, except children born
of registered slaves, who should be servants
until they were twenty-eight years old. This


law was so modified in 1788, as to prevent
persons from taking t)aeir slaves to another
State; an interesting case to test this law was
tried in Lancaster in 180i.

The following are the names of persons in
York who owned slaves in 1780, together
with the number owQed by each individual:

Rev. John Andrews, 3; William Alexan-
der, 1 ; Valentine Crantz, 2 ; Michael Dou-
del, 3, Widow Doudel, 1; Joseph Donald-
son, 1; James Dobbins, 1; David Grier,
Esq., 1; George Irwin, 3; Joseph Cham-
bers, 2; John McAllister, 1; Widow Moore,
1; Peter Reel, 1; Michael Swope, Esq., 2;
Balzer Spangler, 3 ; George Stoehr, 1 ; An-
drew Welsh, 1; Bernard Eichelberger, 1.

There wore 30 slaves owned in 1780, in
Manchester Township, which then included
West Manchester; 40 in Fawn, which in-
cluded Peach Bottom; William Chesney, of
Newberry, who owned the ferry below New
Market, 7 — (he was the only slave-owner in
the township at that time, which included
Fairview); Dover had none; Ephraim John-
son, of Menallen Township, Adams County,
then a part of York County, owned 2 slaves;
one was 110 years old in 1780; Manheim,
14; Monaghan, which embraced Carroll and
Franklin, had 21, James Dill owned 9 of
them; Windsor, including Lower Windsor,
10; Paradise. 2: Codorus, 5; Heidelberg, in-
cluding Hanover, 14; Shrewsbury, 22; Hal-
lam, 8; Warrington none, as slavery was
opposed by the Quakers; Chanceford, in-
eluding Lower Chanceford, 21. Hopewell, 5.
In the entire county, which included Adams
County, there were 471 slaves in 1783, and
499 slaves in 1790. There were 77 slaves
in 1800. In 1810, there were 22. In the
year 1820, 6: four females and two males.
- The last slave in the county died in 1841.
He was owned by the father of Karl For-
ney, of Hanover.

In 18 in Capt. Izard Bacon, a wealthy
planter, who resided in Henrico County, Va.,
manumitted fifty-six of his own slayes.
Some of the heirs attempted to hold them
in slavery, but the courts finally pronounced
them free on June 15, 1819. Charles Gran-
ger, a nephew of Bacon, loaded them on
wagons to take them to Canada. Fifty-two
of them in September, 1819, passed through
York, and most of them located in Columbia,
where their descendants,- the Randolphs,
Greens, Pleasants, Haydens, and others now
reside. The Columbia Abolition Society
procured for them positions when they ar-

In 1821, 100 manumitted slaves, from
Hanover County, Va., came into York; some

remained here, while others of them went to
Columbia and Marietta and located. They
were employed by the lumber merchants
along the Susquehanna. Just prior to the
passage of the Fugitive Slave law, in Sep-
tember, 1850, several hundreds of them
passed north to Canada. In the fall of 1850
William Baker, still living in Columbia, was
arrested and taken to Philadelphia, tried as
a fugitive slave, and remanded into slavery.
This was (he first rendition of the new law.
His friends at Columbia raised money and
purchased his freedom.


The American Colonization Society was
organized at Washington in 1817, soon after
the accession of James Monroe to the presi-
dency. He advocated the colonization of
freed slaves. Through the efforts of the
Colonization Society, the United States
government, in 1819, formed the Republic of
Liberia, on the coast of Africa, and called its
capital Monrovia, after the President. It
was intended as a "colony for any free per-
sons of color who may choose to go tLere. "

On the evening of August 8, 1819, the
celebrated Rev. Dr. Meade, of Washington,
delivered a lecture on the subject: "Colo-
nization," in the ooui't house at York, and the
same evening, an organization was effected,
and an auxiliary society formed, called the
"York County Colonization Society." The
Pennsylvania Society was formed eight years

A constitution was adopted and the follow-
ing-named persons elected as officers and
managers: president, Jacob Barnitz, Esq. ;
vice presidents, George Barnitz and Jacob
Eichelberger; managers, Charles A. Barnitz,
Andrew Creamer, Dr. William Mcllvain and
Charles A. Morris; treasurer, John Schmidt;
secretary, John Gardner.

In 1825 a number of free colored children
were kidnapped in Philadelphia, and sent to
Mississippi, where they were sold into slavery.
This created great indignation throughout

As slavery gradually ceased to exist in
Pennsylvania, most of her people became op-
ponents of it, and abolition societies orig-
inated in the North. Many persons gave as-
sistance to runaway slaves that escaped north
of Mason and Dixon's Line.


A kidnapping ease at the borough of Co-
lumbia, in 1804, incited the j^eople of that
place to protect the colored race. The lead-
er in this work was William Wright, a


grandson of the Quaker emigrant, who was
one of the first settlers there. This plan was
designed to allow escaped slaves at that early
day protection from the "slave- catcher," who
came from Maryland and Virgiuia after them.
This is what gave rise to the esjjression,
"underground railroad," first used by one
of the owners of human fiesh, who could not
find his game, and declared there is an under-
ground railroad somewhere. From 1820, or
earlier, to the passage of the fugitive slave
law in 1750, large numbers of them crossed
York County to Columbia. The persons who
directed the fugitives were called agents of
the underground route and did their work very
quietly. York was one of the stations of the
route to Columbia. William Goodrich, the col
ored man who built "Centre Hall," in York,
was one of the agents there; a man named Fis-
sel, near town, was another, while many prom-
inent persons assisted in one way or the oth-
er. William Yocum was an agent of a line to
Middletown Ferry. He sent them to "Black
Isaac, " north of Yoi'k, and the latter directed
them to Middletown. Another branch of
this road passed through Adams County to
Dover, where Dr. Robert Lewis was the agent.
He sent them to his father. Dr. Webster
Lewis, of Lewisberry, and he in turn sent
them either to a station near Boiling Springs,
Cumberland CouQty, or across the Susque-
hanna, at Middletown JFerry. Many of them
remained at Middletown, and were employed
in the lumber yards. Their descendants are
now there. Persons who helped slaves fre-
quently imperiled their own lives and liberty.
There were a few thrilling incidents in the
county, near the village of Lewisberry, where
there was an abolition society. A negro
slave was shot, though not killed, by his
piursuing master, near Lewisberry, about
the year 1830. He had jumped out
of a garret window of a house now
owned by Jacob G-arretson. Sixteen shots
were taken out of his wound. He recov-
ered, and was taken back to the home of
his owner in Virginia. About the same time
"a slave-driver" snapped a pistol at Dr.
Robert Lewis, in the village of Newberry,
and then fled. His pistol did not discharge.
Some of the persons who came in search of
these fugitives were gentlemen, and were
simply in search of what they considered
valuable property. On one occasion two fine-
looking young Southern planters discovered
three of their escaped slaves working in the
barnyard of a good-natured Quaker, who
resided not many miles northwest of York.
As they approached the mild-mannered old
Friend, they addressed him courteously, and

one of them said: "I see you have some of
our boys." The farmer replied in the
affirmative, and then said to them: ''Will
thee come into the house and have some din-

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 102 of 218)