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

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settle the accounts of the county lieutenants
of the State. He was a member of the Su-
preme Executive Council, of the State of
Pennsylvania, during the years 1783-84-85-
86, and was a member of the Council of
Censors. He was foreman of the jury at the
York County Court perhaps more frequently
than any other person of his period.

He was commissioned justice of the peace
and justice of the court of common pleas un-
der the colonial government in March 1771,
and under the first constitution of Pennsyl-
vania in 1776, and on September 17, 1784, be-
came presiding justice of the court of the
Common Pleas of York County. It will thus
be seen that he held many responsible posi-
tions and was held in high esteem for his
administrative and executive abilities. He
died in Hanover at 4 o'clock in the evening,
October 7, 1795. His remains lie in Mount
Olivet Cemetery. His wife died a few years
before him.

Gen. Jacob Eyster, eldest son of George
Eyster and Mary Slagle (sister of Col. Henry
Slagle), was born near Hanover, June 8,
1782, and was a descendant of John Jacob
Eyster, of the kingdom of Wurtemburg, Dur-
ing the war of 1812 he was employed by the
secretary of war (Armstrong) and the gov-
ernor of Pennsylvania, to distribute arms
among the militia of Pennsylvania, He was
elected a member of the State senate in
j 1819, was reelected and resigned in 1824,


being chosen deputy surveyor general of
Pennsylvania, and afterward became presi-
dent of the bank of Harrisburg. He died in
that city March 24, 1858.


Says Dr. H. A. Hagan, professor of ento-
mology in Harvard College at Cambridge,
Mass.: "The Melsbeimers of York County,
Penn., have been considered by the English
entomologist Th. Say, to be the fathers of en-
tomology in the United States." Dr. Carl
Zimmermann the distinguished scientist, in
order to know all that could be learned of
the elder Melsheimer, visited Hanover in
1834, before the time of railroads. From his
manuscript diary was found the following:

"From York, Penn., I walked eighteen
miles to the southwest to Hanover, where I
arrived January 7, 1834. Introduced to a
Mr. Lange, the editor of the Hanover Ga-
zette, I was informed that the older Melshei-
mer died twenty years before. Mr. Lange
had been well acquainted with him, and the
widow and several children are still living in
the town. The following I copied out from
the obituary in the Hanover Gazette:

" 'Friedrich Valentin Melsheimer, minis-
ter of the Evangelic- Lutheran Church in
Hanover, died June 30, 1814, in consequence
of a lung disease of thirty years' duration,
sixty-four years, ten months and seven days
old. He was born September 25, 1749, at
Negenborn, in the dukedom of Brunswick.
His father, Joachim Sebastian Melsheimer,
was superintendent of forestry to the duke.
F. V. Melsheimer was sent, in 1756,'to school
in Holzminden; in 1769 he went to the uni-
versity in Helmstpedt. He received, 1776,
the appointment as chaplain to a regiment,
which he accompanied to America, and ar-
rived July 1st, in Quebec. In 1779 he came
to Bethlehem, Penn., and married, June 3,
Mary Agnes Mann, by whom he had eleven
-children. From August 19, 1789, he was
minister in Hanover, Pa.' "

Dr. Zimmermann called on Mrs. Melshei-
mer, and was told by her and her daughter
that after his death his eldest son, John
Friedrich Melsheimer, succeeded his father as
minister, whose love for natural history he
had inherited, together with his collection
and library. Rev. J. F. Melsheimer is the
entomologist quoted so often by Th. Say,
in his American Entomology by Anihicus
bicolor. The father, F. V. Melsheimer, was
in correspondence with the well known Ger-
man entomologist, A. W. Knoch, in Bruns-
wick, who states in the volume before men-
tioned that up to 1801 he had received from

him over 700 American insects. He gives still
very valuable descriptions of twenty-three

F. V. Melsheimer published the welt
known catalogue, "Insects of Pennsylvania,"
in 1806. It contained sixty pages.

This is a work much sought after, but
now very rare. It contained a description
and classification of 1,363 species of beetles,
the first work of the kind ever published in
America. Dr. Knoch of Germany printed a
book in 1801, dedicated to F. V. Melsheimer;
it is now in the Harvard Museum. Rev.
John Melsheimer died about 1830 and his
brother, Ernst Frederick Melsheimer, M. D.,
inherited the collection and library of father
and brother who had done so much for ento-
mological science. He removed to Davids-
burg in Dover Township. The celebrated
Dr. Zimmermann, when on his visit to Han-
over, went to Davidsburg to visit Dr. Mel-
sheimer, and in his diary is found the fol-

" The house rudely constructed with
boards, painted red, stood all alone in the
middle of a forest. His wife was at the
spinning wheel. The reception was indeed a
very cordial one, and when he heard that his
father's book was well known, and mentioned
in German, English and French works,
which he never dreamed of, he became ani-
mated and talked with great interest on
entomological matters and books."

Dr. Zimmermann wondered at this and soon
found that Dr. Melsheimer himself was a
devotee of the science as well as his deceased
father and brother. They looked over the col-
lection of specimens which were kept in good
order, and all the labels of his father's hand-
writing were correctly attached. Twice
more in 1839, Dr. Zimmermann visited Mel-
sheimer in company with Rev. D. Ziegler, of
York, who then began to turn his attention to.

In 1842 the Entomological Society of Penn-
sylvania was formed, and Dr. Melsheimer,
of Davidsburg was chosen president in 1853.
The only survivor of this society now ia
Dr. J. G. Morris, of Baltimore. The object
of this society was to publish a catalogue
of the known coleoptera of the United
States. Pastor Ziegler and Dr. Melsheimer
were co-laborers in this important work, and the
book was soon after published, and is now
very valuable in scientific circles. The
work was revised by the late Prof. S. S.
Haldeman and J. L. LeConte in 1853, and
published by the Smithsonian Institute at
Washington. Dr. Frederick, Ernest Mel-
sheimer, the third of the name who won


fame in the science of entomology, died at
Davidsburg, March 10, 1873, aged ninety-
one years. He was born in Hanover, 1782,
and graduated in medicine in Baltimore.
His father, brother and himself were known
throughout Europe by the great naturalists.

The Melsheimer Collection of entomolog-
ical specimens was sold by Dr. Melsheimer in
1<^64. to the distinguished naturalist Prof,
liouis Agassiz, who also bought the collection
then owned by Rev. D. Ziegler. They are
now highly prized and are in the museum at
Harvard College, Massachusetts. The Mel-
sheimer collections, when sold, filled 41 wooden
boxes 10|^sl4 inches and 2 inches high, each
one lined inside with Helianthus pith. The
price paid was 8250. It contained, netto,
5,302 species with 14,774, specimens. Of this
number 2. 200 species belonged to the United
State.s; 1.894 species from Europe; 422 from
Brazil, 8 from Mexico; 9 from West Indies;
4 from Siberia; China, 74; Java, 8; Africa,
39; Australia, 14. The other insects were.
Hymenoptera. 148 species; Hemipteran, 28;
European Diptera, 90; Lepidoptera, none.

The contents of the Ziegler collection
were, after the the same report, netto, 5,302
species, with 11,837 specimens. United
States Coleoptera, 1,794 species with 6,262
specimens. From Europe, 1,729 species;
Brazil, 378; Mexico, 34; West Indies, 40;
Siberia, 21; China, 55; Java, 12; Africa,
110; Australia, 14, besides Lepidoptera,
Orthoptera, Neuroptera, Hymenoptera, Dip-
tera. The Ziegler collection filled a cabinet
with 45 boxes in three rows. The boxes are
a little smaller than the Melsheimer ones,
the bottom of plain wood, the cover with a
pane of glass. Every species had a square
written label on the pin, with the name and
the locality.

Among the former citizens of Hanover who
held official position were associate judges.
Jacob Rtidisill, Henry Slagle, John L. Hin-
kle and David Newcomer whose biographies
appear in the chapter on the "Bench and
Bar" in this work. A sketch of Congress-
man Jacob Hostetter, appears in the chapter
on "Historical Biography." Other citizens
of note in Hanover who are now deceased
were Dr. Henry W. AVampler, W. D.
Gobrecht, Christian Henry and Jacob Wirt:
Adam, Philip, Marks, Jacob Forney, and
Matthias N. Forney. Jacob Eichelberger,
Oeorge Nace, Henry Danner, Elder Metzger,
Dr. J. P. Smith, D. P. Lange and Dr. Cul-
bertson. Jacob Tome, the great financier,
who now resides at Port Deposit, Md., was
born in. Hanover, August 13, 1810, of very
humble German parentage. Michael Africa,

the grandfather of Hon J. Simpson Africa,
secretary of internal affairs, of Pennsylvania,
in 1783, lived near Hanover.


The following genealogical record, received
too late for insertion in that part of this
work, is inserted here:

John George Kuntz, one of the first set-
tlers on the site of the town of Hanover, emi-
grated with his wife Catharine from Germany, :
together with 171 other Palitines. landing in |
Philadelphia September 11, 1732, in a sail- J
ing vessel called the ''Pennsylvania." He gave
the land for the first Lutheran Church of
the settlement around Hanover, and was
instrumental in having Rev. Candler, the
first pastor, come to America. John George
Kuntz died April 7, 1748, and his wife Cath-
erine died January 22, 1758. They had one
son named John, and two daughters. Eve
married Philip Morningstar. Catherine, the
eldest child, was born in 1729, and in 1745 i
married Adam Hubberl, who lived in the vi- i
cinity of Hanover and died July 13, 1781,
aged sixty-six years. His wife died in 1812,
aged eighty-three years. Their daughter,
Ann Eve Hubbert, born in 1751, married
Jacob Rudisill, who became associate judge
of the courts of York County. Their eldest
daughter, Catharine Hubbert, born in 1748,
married Peter Welsh. Christiana, the third
daughter of Adam and Catherine Hubbert,
was born in 1753 and married Henry Welsh,
brother of Peter Welsh, and a son of Jacob
Welsh, who came to York County from Etu-ope
in 1737.

Henry AVelsh was a prominent man dur-
ing the early history of Hanover. In 1795
he became the first postmaster and afterward
collector of excise, justice of the peace and
in 1776, during the Revolution, was commis-
sioned second lieutenant of Casper Reineka's
compaoy in Third Battalion of York County
militia, commanded by Col. Richard McAl-
lister. Henry Welsh died August 21, 1827,
and his widow, Catherine Hubbert, died June
1. 1828. They had foitr sons: George, Henry,
Jacob Rudisill and Benjamin.

George Welsh, Henry's eldest son, was
born in Hanover, and died in Waynesboro,
Penn.. in 1854, aged seventy-seven years. The
late Henry Welsh, of York, was born in Han-
over January 13, 1800, was a son of George
Welsh. Early in life Henry Welsh moved to
York and engaged in the mercantile business,
and soon after became one of the publishers
of the York Gazette. He was appointed State
printer, and at the same time was proprietor
of the Harrisburg Reporter. From 1834 to



r^ ^. St^^/—


1838 he was part of the firm of Welsh, Cam-
eron & Co., of Philadelphia. In 1842 he
was appointed naval officer of the port of
Philadelphia. After serving four years he
was appointed United States revenue collector
of the York District; was a director in the
NortherQ Central Railway Company, and for
many years president of the York Bank. He
was three times a presidential elector. He
died at his home in York June 23, 1883,
aged eighty-three years.

Benjamin, the youngest son of George
Welsh, married Elizabeth Myers, lived in
Hanover and died February 27, 1843, aged
fifty. two years, leaving children as follows:
Amelia, Henry D., George W., Agnes and Will-
iam C. W. Henry D. Welsh, his eldest son, was
born in Hanover ; early in life entered the store
of Welsh & Hoff in York; return ed'to Hanover
and conducted a store on Baltimore Street.
In 1845 he went to Philadelphia and soon
became a prominent merchant of that city, as
part of the large mercantile establishment of
James, Kent, Santee & Co. He was presi-
dent of the American Steamship Company, and
is now prominently connected with the rail-
road interests of this State, being a director
in the Pennsylvania Eailroad Company and
other companies, and president of one or two

George Washington, second son of George
Welsh, was born February 22, 1826.
For many years he was one of the
leading merchants of Hanover, and was an
enterprising citizen. He died July 5, 1880.
His children were Emma, married to G. M.
Bair, and Albertus C, member of the firm of
Welsh, Sleeder & Co., of Hanover.

William Centennial Washington Welsh,
youngest son of George Welsh, was
born on the one-hundredth anniver-
sary of the birth of Washington, Febru-
ary 22, 1832, from which circumstance the
middle name Centennial was given. He is
married to Cornelia Jane McFarland, and
has four sons, Harry B., William Ernest
Paul and Ivan. Mr. Welsh is the senior
member of the firm of Welsh, Sleeder & Co.,
who are largely engaged in the manufacture
of flour in Hanover.


WRIGHT'S FERRY was one of the first
ferries on the Susquehanna, and for
many years the most important one over the
lower part of the stream.

*By W. W. Moore, Esq.

In 1726 Robert Barber, Samuel Blunston
and John Wright, Quakers, came from Ches-
ter County and settled upon the east bank of
the river, where Columbia now stands.
Wright took up 250 acres lying south of
Walnut Street in Columbia, and Biunston,
500 acres north of that street. In two or three
years after their arrival, John Wright took
up) several hundred acres of land on the west
bank of the river, extending from the creek
up to John Hendricks' land, about 200 yards
above the bridge.

Although the Proprietaries of the province
prohibited any settlement west of the river,
and refused to issue a license to any one ex-
cept John Wright and John and James
Hendricks, several families from Chester
County settled in Conojohela (now called
Canodocholy) Valley, four miles lower down
the river, who were removed in 1730. A
number of German families came over the
river and settled in the valley. These set-
tlements having been planted west of the
river it was with great difficulty others were
restrained from joining them.f John Wright
saw the necessity of establishing a ferry and
applied for a patent, but on account of the
opposition of a rival application at the larger
settlement in Conestoga Manor, four miles
below Wright's, he did not procure his pat-
ent until 1733. Immediately thereafter
John Wright and Samuel Blunston petitioned
the court to appoint viewers to lay out a pub-
lic road from the ferry at the foot of Walnut
Street, in Columbia, to the borough of Lan-
caster, which road was laid out and confirmed
by the court in 1734. John Wright, Jr., son
of John Wright, removed to the west side of
the river and erected a ferry house at the
foot of Hellam Street. He received a license
to keep a public house for the years 1736-37-
38-39, and, in 1739, a public road was laid
out from- his ferry, extending thirty-four
miles, and connecting with the Monocacy road
in Maryland, and from thence to the Potomac
at the base of the great Virginia Valley.
In the year 1729, Joshua Minshall. John
and James Hendricks, Quakers, came from
the east side of the river. John Hendricks
received a license for 350 acres of laud ex-
tending along the river above John Wright's,
and Minshall settled about a mile and a half
back from the river on the land now owned by
John Strickler and George D. Ebert.

John Wright, Jr., was quite a prominent
man. He was elected a member of the
Assembly for York County at the first elec-
tion after the "erection of the county in 1749,

tFor a history of the troubles of early settlers see ai-ticle on



and annually re-elected until and including
1759. He died about the year 1763.

Wright's Ferry, during and after the Rev-
olutionary war was well known throughout
the entire country, being the principal thor-
oughfare over the Susquehanna, and from
the celebrity gained in this way, became one
of the points named for the National Capital.
Mr. Parton in his "Life of Jefferson." gives
an interesting account of the proceedings of
Congress on this subject, while sitting in
New York, in 1789 and 1790. Condensing
his language, he says: "A ring loomed up
dimly upon the imagination of members,
supposed to have been foruiod 'out of doors,'
in order to fix the Capital at Wright's Ferry,
on the Susquehanna. The members from
New England and New York agreed in pre-
ferring it, as the point nearest the center of
population, wealth and convenience; and for
many days it seemed to have a better chance
than any of the other places proposed — Har-
risburg, Baltimore, New York, Germantown
and Philadelphia. But Wright's Ferry lost
its chance through the opposition of the
southern members and the ring rumor was
the ass jaw-bone which they used to kill the
project. The members from New England
and New York denied the offensive charge,
and contended that Wright had fixed his
ferry at the point which would be the center
of population for ages to come. With regard
to the country west of the Ohio — an unmeas-
urable wilderness — Fisher Ames was of the
opinion (and it was everybody's opinion) that
it was perfectly romantic to allow it any
weight in the decision at all. When it will
be settled, or how it will be possible to govern
it, said he, is past calculation." Southern
gentlemen, on the other hand, denied the
centrality of Wright and maintained that the
shores of the noble Potomac jaresented the
genuine center to the nation's choice. And
so the debate went on day after day. The
Susquehanna* men triumphed in the House,
but the senate sent back the bill with Sus-
quehanna stricken out and Germantown in-
serted. The House would not accept the
amendment, and the session ended before the
place had been agreed upon. The subject
being resumed in the spring of 1790, it was
again productive of heat and recrimination:
•again the South was outvoted and the Poto-
mac rejected by a small majority. Baffled in
the House, Southern men renewed their efforts
over Mr. Jefferson's wine and hickory- nuts in
Maiden Lane. It was agreed at length that

■^According to the speeches in Bt
gress" the east side of the SusquehaD

proposed site of the Capital.

for the next ten years the seat of government
should be Philadelphia, and finally, near


James Ewing, son of Thomas Ewing, was
born 1736, in Manor Township, Lancaster
County, about two miles east of Columbia.
He married a daughter of John Wright, Jr..
and removed to the farm now owned by the
heirs of the late William McConkey, near
Wrightsville. The land was part of that
belonging to John Wright, Jr. James Ewing
came from the Scotch Irish stock in Donegal,
and inherited iheir love for fighting. He
enlisted as a private during the French and
Indian war of 1755, and was with Braddock.
He was also a lieutenant in the company
commanded by Capt. Robert McPherson.
under Gen. Forbes, in his expedition to Fort
Duquesne in 1758. In the years of 1771-
72-73-74;-75 he was elected a member
of the assembly. He was an ardent patriot.
On July 4, 1776, he was elected second
brigadier-general in the Pennsylvania Militia
or Associators, and commanded the .First
Brigade of the Flying Camp. He was at the
battles of Brandywine, Germantown, Trenton
and other battles in New Jersey. He was a
splendid military ofiScer and was greatly
esteemed by Gen. Washington. November
7, 1782, he was elected vice-president of
the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsyl-
vania, which position he held with great
honor to himself and State, until November
6, 1784, when he was compelled, on account
of his health, to decline another election.
He was elected a member of the senate for
York County, for the years 1705-96-97-98
-99. He died in March, 1806, aged seventy
years, upon his plantation near Wrightsville.


Notwithstanding the early settlement of
the locality, and the prominence attained by
the ferry, the town was not laid out until
1811, and later. The part of the town
known as Wrightsville containing 101 lots,
lying between Hellam Street and Limekiln
Alley and between the river and Fourth
Street (except a portion of the square be-
tween Front and Second and Hellam and
Locust Streets), was laid out by William
Wright in 1811, and by him conveyed to
Jacob Kline. To the lot owners of this
portion of the town belongs to the public
ground at the corner of Front and Walnut
Streets. "Westphalia," containing ninety-
six lots, and "We.stphalia continued," were
laid out by Susanna Houston in 1811 and



1812, and embraced all that part of the town
south of Hellam Street. "Wrightsville con-
tinued," embracing the jaart of the town
north of Limekiln Alley was laid out by
William Wright in 1813. "Wrightsville ex-
tended," lying Iwtween Hellam and Locust
Streets, and west of Fourth Street, was laid
oat by Samuel Miller. It may not be un-
interesting to know that the lots in Wrights-
ville were disposed of by lottery, or rather
that the lots were sold at a uniform price,
and the choice of lots was determined by

The first bridge over the Susquehanca
at this point was erected, in 1814, and since
that time the place has been known as
Wrightsville, instead of Wright's Ferry, as
before. This bridge crossed the river at a
point higher up the river than the pi-esent
one, the Wrightsville end of the structure
being about opposite the farm-house of the
old Wright farm, now owned by Detwilers,
North, Crane & Co., and occupied bj* Henry
Crumbling. This bridge was destroyed by
the ice freshet of 1832, and a second bridge
was built in 1834, where the present one
now stands.


Wrightsville was incorporated as a
borough, April 11, 1834, and the first elec-
tion was held on the 9th of May, following.
At this election Henry Snyder was elected
chief burgess, William Wilson, assistant
burgess, Tempest Wilson, Michael Clepper,
Samuel Sheaffer, George Green and Eobert
W. Smith, members of the town council,
and Jacob Harris, constable. This council
organized on the 12th of the same month by
the election of Robert W. Smith, president
of the council. The amount of the tax
duplicate levied by this council at a tax rate
of 2i mills was $162.87, showing the assessed
values of the property in the borough at that
time to have been $65, 148. These facts may
be interesting in comparison with the present.
The assessed valuation of real estate for 1884,
was $439,560; number of taxable inhabitants
541. A writer describing Wrightsville a
few years later (1844), says: "It contains
between sixty and seventy dwellings, several
stores and taverns. Population about 800.
A good turnpike leads from this place
through York to Gettysburg, in Adams Coun-
ty. This place may, before many years, be-
come of some note and distinction."


During the war of the Rebellion Wrights-
ville was visited, in June, 1863, by a brigade

of Southern troops, under the command of
Gen. John B. Gordon, afterward a United
States senator from Georgia. On the 28th
of June, the Confederate batteries shelled
the town, a number of houses in town bear-
ing marks of the enemy's projectiles. The
militia, under command of Major Haller,
United States army, had thrown up rifle-pits
for the protection of the town, but made but
little actual defense, soon retreating to the
east side of the river, burning the bridge
after them in order to prevent the Confeder-
ates from crossing the river. The enemy
immediately occupied the town, and assisted
the citizens who remained in putting out
the lire and saving property endangered by
the burning bridge. The next day they left
again, not having molested any citizens, or
disturbed any property where the owners
I'emained at home to take care of it, but doing
considerable damage in cases where property
had been left unoccupied.

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 122 of 218)