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

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brother, came to America soon afterward, and dur-
ing the Revolutionary war enlisted in Capt. Matthew
Smith's company of Lancaster County Volunteers,
in 1775, and endured all the perils and hardships of
the famous march to Canada and the attack on
Quebec. Judge John Joseph Henry, of the Lan-
caster and York courts, in his personal reminis-
cences of this battle, speaks in glowing terms of the
endurance and bravery of his comrade in arms,
John McConkey. Hugh McConkey, the ancestor
of the family in this county, was born March 14,
1757, and on May 13, 1783, was married to Jane
Neeper, of Lancaster County, who was born Sep-
tember 5, 1760. Their children were Jesse, James,
Anne, Andi'ew, Margaret, Janetta and Hugh J.
The father, Hugh McConkey, who was a Revolu-
tionary soldier, died at Peach Bottom, August 11,

James McConkey, the second son, was born in
Lancaster County, May 37, 1787. In the year 1808
he removed to Peach Bottom, and was in the em-
ploy of John Kirk, who then owned the ferry at
this place, and conducted a general merchandise
business. He soon became a partner with Kirk on
a capital of $500, borrowed from his father, which
he soon returned with interest. Subsequently he
purchased the entire business interest of the place
and a tract of 300 acres of land on Cooper's Upper
Rock Run. At the time of the invasion of the
British toward Baltimore, in 1814, he enlisted
and marched with his regiment to the defense of
that city. He subsequently procured the bounty
land on the western frontier for the members of his
company. In the militia service afterward he at-
tained the rank of major, by which title he was famil-
iarly known. Barly'in his business career his father
joined him in the management of the grist-mill at
Peach Bottom. On account of the scarcity of wheat
in the vicinity, caused by the sterility of the soil,
in that vicinity, they floated wheat, corn and
potatoes down the Susquehanna River in arks and
keel-bottom boats. Here he ground thewheat into
flour, corn into meal, and supplied the inhabitants
over a large extent of country. In the year 18 — he
was elected by the Whig parly to represent York
County in the State senate at flarrisburg. He took
a prominent part in urging the construction of the
Susquehanna Canal from Columbia to join the Tide
Water Canal in Maryland, which, when completed,
in 1839, greatly increased the business interests of
Peach Bottom. It was then that the farmers of this
section began to use lime so extensively as a fertil-
izer, and he brought immense quantities of the stone
down the river and burned it here. In every re-
spect he was a prudent, exact and prosperous busi-
ness man, and at the time of his death, in 1861, had
accumulated a handsome competence as the result
of his assiduous labors. In every respect he was a
prominent and influential citizen of his township,
and intimately connected with the affairs of the
county and State. In 1815 Maj. McConkey was
married to Julia Ann Wiley, by whom he had eleven
children. Of these two are now living: StephenD.,
of Baltimore, and John Q. A., of Peach Bottom.
Henry F., the eldest, died at home, while in business
with his father, in 1859. William moved to Wrights-
ville, and became a very influential citizen of that
town, and was largely interested in the business
affairs of that place. 'He was elected a member of
the legislature from York Coimty, which he repre-
sented with acknowledged ability and credit. He
died in 1880. The first wife of Maj. McConkey died
in 1833. His second marriage was with Rachel
Ramsay, who lived but a short time afterward. In
1838 he was married to Mary A. Ramsay. Their
children were Charles R. McConkey and Mrs. Julia

A. Ross, widow of the late William G. Ross, Esq.,
of Lower Chanceford.

John Qdincy Adams McConkey, .son of Jame
McConkey, by his first marriage, was born February
30, 1838. He received his mental training in the
schools of the township, and also grew up as a clerk
in his father's store. At the age of tliirty-three
years, upon his father's death, he and his brother,
Charles R., succeeded the father in the mercantile
business at Peach Bottom. In 1866 he purchased the
interest of Charles R. in the store, grain and boat-
ing business, in which he is at present engaged. He
has served the township in various local offices. In
1874 he was nominated for county treasurer by the
Republican party; in 1880 he was the party nominee
for State senate. In both instances he received a
large vote, but not sufficient to overcome the large
majority of the opposition. In 1883 he declined
the nomination of his party for congress. He was
appointed postmaster in 1878, and has since held
the position. As partners, he and his brother
Charles own all the business interests of the village
of Peach Bottom and a tract of 350 acres of valuable
farming land. Mr. McConkey is an active Mason,
a member of the K. T., Columbia Commandery, at
Lancaster. In 1860 he was married, in Harford
County, Md., to Sarah S. Whiteford, daughter of
Hugh Whiteford, a descendant of Col. Whiteford,
who commanded at Havre de Grace during the
British invasion of Baltimore in 1814. They had
two children, one who died young and Edward
Everett McConkey, now in business with his

Chaeles R. McConkey, son of James McCon-
key, by his last marriage, was born in 1839; attended
the public and private schools of the vicinity, and
afterward, for a time, was a pupil in an academy in
the city of Philadelphia, then taught by Gen.
Joshua T. Owens. Returning home he assisted his
father in business until at the age of twenty-two,
when his father died. Then with his brother, John
Q. A., engaged in the lumber, lime, coal, grain and
store business. Disposing of his interests at Peach
Bottom, in 1870, he removed to Philadelphia, and
was engaged there in the wholesale boot and shoe
business. At the expiration of two years he re-
turned to his old home, and embarked in the lum-
ber trade and the selling of fertilizers, which he
still continues, and also assists in the management
of a tract of 350 acres of farming land, of which he
and his brother are joint partners. In 1873 he was
elected a director in the York & Peach Bottom Rail-
road, and was subsequently elected to the office of
president of the railroad. For a time he was ap-
pointed receiver of the corporation. He then
assisted in reorganizing the road, and was again
elected its president. He has served his township
very satisfactorily as school director, and in various
ways has been a public spirited and enterprising
citizen. Mr. McConkey was married, December 37,
1866, to Rachel S. Alexander, a native of Belmont
County, Ohio, daughter of James and Elizabeth
(McGregor) Alexander. Her mother was a native
of Peach Bottom. They have three children : Henry
Alexander, Charles Reynolds and Mary E. Mr.
McConkey and family are members of the Presby-
terian Church, to which nearly all of his relatives
and ancestors belonged.

WILLIAM J. McCURDY, son of James and
Martha (Hepburn) McCurdy, both natives of County
Derry, Ireland, who immigrated to America in 1808,
was born March 16, 1813, in Lancaster County,
Penn. His parents soon afterward removed to
Peach Bottom Township, in York County. Feb-
ruary 35, 1840. he married Alice J. Fulton, daugh-
ter of John Fulton, and has five children living;
James C, in Philadelphia; John F., in Chicago,




111.; William H., a ph.Tsician of Delta, and two
daughters, Alice and Guianna, residing with their
parents. He purchased the farm, on which he
lives, in 1844, and by a Judicious system of tillage
has brought it into a high state of cultivation. In
1880 he became engaged in the business of canning
fruit and vegetables, which he has since then suc-
cessfully carried on in connection with farming.
Mr. McCurdy has held the offices of supervisor,
auditor and school director, is a Mason, an Odd
Fellow, and a deacon in the Baptist Church.

WILLIAM H. McCDRDY, M. D , was born in
Peach Bottom Township, October 26, 1834. His
parents were William J. and Alice J. (Fulton)
McCurdy; the former a native of Lancaster County,
4he latter of York County, and were respectively of
Irish and Scotch-Irish origin. They were parents
of nine children, of whom three sons and two
daushters are living, and one son and three daugh-
ters'dead. William H. McCurdy left home at the
age of fourteen to attend Lewisburg University,
Penn., and at the age of seventeen entered Lafay-
ette College, where, in 1876, he graduated. After
teaching in the common schools two years, mean-
time reading medicine under Dr. Scarborough, of
Dublin, Hartford Co., Md., he entered Jefferson
College, at Philadelphia, in 1878. After graduating
in 1881 he began to practice near State Hill, and in
May, 1884, removed to Delta, where he is now in
practice. He married Miss Laura J. Jenness, a na-
tive of Maryland, February 8, 1883, and has one
child— Russell W. In 1879 he began the canning
business in Peach Bottom Township. In 1881 took
his father into partnership, and in 1883 consolidated
thirty-one canning lirms into the Northern Harford
Packing Association, an incorporated company, with
a capital stock of $200,000, of which he is the sec-
retary. He was among the organizers of the Delta
Building and Loan Association, is a member of the
York County Medical Society and chaplain of
Esdraelon Lodge, A. F. & A.'M., at South Delta.
His wife is a member of Slateville Presbyterian
Church, while he is connected with the Delta Bap-
tist Church.

WATSON A. McLaughlin, proprietor of the
Railroad Hotel in Delta, was born to John and Mary
(Miller) McLaughlin, in MiflBin County, Penn., Feb-
ruary 14, 1842, 13 of Irish descent, and is the eldest
of si.\ children. The family immigrated to Dayton,
Ohio, when the children were young, and there
the parents died. Watson returned to Pennsyl-
vania soon after this event, and for some years lived
in Lancaster, attending school and clerking in his
nude's store. He began the miller's trade at the
age of eighteen, and followed the business about
ten years in Township. During the war
he enlisted in 1862, as teamster, served a year and
then passed about one year in government employ
at Washington, D. C, and next worked eighteen
months at milling, after which he worked at mill-
ing and on a tobacco farm at Lancaster County. In
1864 he married Miss Elizabeth Moore, a native of
Lancaster County. They have had seven children,
five of whom are dead. Those living are Daniel
and Nora 0. In 1874 he removed to Fawn Town-
ship in York County, and kept hotel for one year,
and afterward came' to Peach Bottom. The follow-
ing year he moved to Centreville, in Lower Chance-
ford Township, and then to Delta, where he still
resides, having conducted a hotel ever since leaving
Lancaster County. In 1879 he embarked in slate
quarrying, and spent a large sum of money in pros-
pecting, having since then opened five "different
quarries, without finding a profitable vein. He is
at this writing engaged in a new quarry in Harford
County, Md., which promises to be remunerative.
Since June, 1884, he has acted as superintendent of

a slate quarry in Peach Bottom Township for a
Lancaster firm.

WILLIAM T. Mclaughlin, second son of
Theodore and Sarah (Eckman) McLaughlin, was
born in Harford County, Md., May 19, 1847. The
family are widely known as millwrights. James
McLaughlin, grandfather of the subject of this
sketch, with his sons Theodore, Parke, Daniel and
Joshua, having for a great number of years worked
at this trade in York and the adjoining counties of
Lancaster, Cecil a^nd Harford. The grandfather
was a man of immense physical strength and en-
durance, and was highly respected for his integrity
of clyiracter. He died in Harford County, in 1876,
at the age of ninety-nine. He was in Chester
County, Penn., and it is reported that his infant
slumbers in the cradle were broken on the morning
of September 11, 1777, by the cannonading at the
battle of Chad's Ford. The family are of Scotch-
Irish origin. William T. McLaughlin's boyhood
was passed on a farm, and his education obtained
in a public school. At the age of twenty-six he
formed a partnership with Foulk Jones, and for
five years carried on farming and butchering at
Slate Hill. AVith the same partner he then engaged
in the hardware business at Delta. In 1883 he be-
came sole proprietor, and has since successfully
conducted it. He married Annie M. White, Jan-
uary 31, 1873, and has three children living: Howard
L., Jarett B. and Theodore, besides one who died
in infancy. He has served one term as borough
auditor, and is a member of Mount Hebron Lodge,
I. O. O. F. His parents are both living.

WILLIAM McSPARRAN, a native of Lancas-
ter County, Penn., was born November 20, 1820.
His parents, James and Eleanor (Neal) McSparran
were of Irish extraction, the paternal greatgrand-
father having come from Ireland and settled on
land purchased from the Indians, in the southern
part of Lancaster County. This tract has ever
since been owned and occupied by the family,
which is a large and influential one. The subject
of this sketch, after having received a training in
farm life and a fair education, entered the mercan-
tile business at the age of twenty-one at Liberty
Square, and after two years removed to Chestnut
Level, where he remained two years more. He
then removed to Peach Bottom in York County,
where for five years he was engaged in the lumber
and lime trade and in boating. In 1850 he removed
to West Bangor and formed a partnership with
James A. McConkey, which continued one year.
At about the age of thirty-three he commenced
farming, which business he continues to pursue
with eminent success. When about twenty-five
years of age he married Miss Alice Caldwell, who
lived only three months after marriage. He next
married when about thirty. Miss Masaline William-
son, daughter, of Maj. Thomas 8. Williamson, who
was the pioneer of the Peach Bottom Slate busi-
ness. She died in May, 1883, leaving one daughter,
Henrietta, who now resides with her father. On the
land occupied and managed by Mr. McSparran, all
the slate quarries now operated in York County are
located. This tract comprises about 700 acres, fifty
of which are leased as slate quarries. These pay a
royalty on all slate taken out. which yield an income
of about $3,000 per year. Three schoolhouses and
three churches are located on the property, which
in addition to the slate leases, is divided into three
fine farms, two of which are rented out. Mr. Mc-
Sparran's second wife was a near relative of Gov.
Kirkwood, of Iowa. The family are members of
the Slateville Presbyterian Church.

ROBERT W. MORRIS, a member of the
Peach Bottom Slate Manufacturing Company, is a
native of Dinorwig, Carnaervonshire, north Wales.


He was born January 37, 1847. His parents,
William and Catherine (Roberts) Morris, had three
sons and five daughters, all of whom, except one
brother and two sistei's, came to America. Robert
came to Slatington, in Lehigh County, and for
eighteen months worked there in a slate quarry,
then came to West Bangor, in York County, where
he has pursued the same vocation ever since, hav-
ing obtained an interest in the quarries of the
above mentioned company in 1884. He was married,
September 5, 1870, to Anne Jane, daughter of
Hugh and Margaret Roberts, and has two sons and
four daughters: Hugh R., Catharine, Annie,
Bertha, Maggie and Willie. They removed from
West Bangor to Delta in 1884 after the death of his
father-in-law, and Mrs. Roberts, his mother-in-law,
resides with him. Mr. Morris is a member of the
Calvinistic Methodist Church at West Bangor. His
parents died in Wales.

WILLIAM ORR, son of Mordecai and Mary
(McNutt) Orr, both natives of Harford County,
Md., was born June 3, 1820, near Darlington, Har-
ford County. He came with his parents to York
County, Penn., when about fifteen years of age,
and settled in Lower Chanceford Township. He
married September 11, 1843, Dorcas Jones, daughter
of Theophilus Jones, of York County, and has five
children: Mary A., Blain, Mordecai J., William B.,
Rachel W. and Alverda. Since his removal to
Peach Bottom, twenty-seven years ago, Mr. Orr
has been engaged in farming and shoe-making. He
has been collector of taxes for the township, and is
held in high esteem by his neighbors. He is a
member of Mount Hebron Lodge, I. O. O. F.

JAMES M. PARKER was born in New York
City, February 19, 1838. His parents, Isaac and
Margaret (Mill) Parker, came to York County in
1857, and here the father purchased a lease, in
Peach Bottom Township, of what was then called
the "old quarry." After carrying on the business
here successfuly for some years he purchased an-
other lease of a quarry in Harford County, Md.,
and operated the two for a number of years. They
reared two sons and three daughters, of whom
James M. is the eldest. He is a graduate of the
University of the City of New York, and while his
father was engaged in slate mining in Pennsylvania,
he was general manager of the business. In 1871
he went to Philadelphia as book-keeper in a shoe
house, but after one year returned to York County,
and became the principal of Pleasant Grove
Academy, near High Rock. He next accepted the
position of book-keeper in a wholesale house in
Baltimore, and remained one year. He then re-
sumed the profession of teaching, which he still
follows, having for several terms had charge of the
Delta High School. While the York & Peach
Bottom Railroad was being built, he was for a time
connected with the engineer corps. He was also
the first postmaster appointed at Slate Hill, and
served two years. In 1881 he was elected justice of
the peace in Peach Bottom Township. He married
Elizabeth R. Beattie. June 30, 18.59, and has three
children: John M., James D. and Margaret A. He
is a skillful accountant and is frequently employed
in settling estates as well as in conveyancing. The
family are Presbyterians and of Scotch-Irish

ROBERT RAMSAY, son of John Ramsay, was
born in October, 1795, in York County. His father
died in 1797, and the son passed the days of his boy-
hood on a farm, receiving such an education as
could be had in the common schools of that time.
When the militia were called out in 1814 for the de-
fense of Baltimore, Mr. Ramsay was enrolled as a
substitute, joined the company of Capt. F. T.
Amos, of Harford County, and with it marched to
the defense of the threatened city. They did not,

however, reach there in time to participate in the
engagement. For his services he has for several
years received a pension frdm the Government. He
married in April, 1831, Jane Whiteford, daughter of
Hugh Whiteford, of Harford County, Md., and
niece of James Ross, of Pittsburgh, a gentleman
distinguished in the political history of the State.
Mrs. Ramsay died in 1876. To her and husband
were born the following-named children: J. Ross,
Hugh W., William, Robert, Joseph G., Sarah E.
and T. Cooper. Mr. Ramsay is a farmer owning
230 acres. A large part of the borough of Delta
stands on what was once his land, he having sold it
in lots. He has held the office of supervisor in the
township, and was one of the first council of Delta.
Notwithstanding his age, nearly ninety years, he is
active and intelligent, manages his own affairs and
attends Slateville Presbyterian Church, of which he
is a member, regularly. He called upon the writer
of this sketch to-day (December 33, 1884), having
traveled on foot through snow half a mile to tran-
sact a matter of business relating to his real estate.
HUGH W. RAMSAY, third son of Robert and
Jane (Whiteford) Ramsay, was born in Harford
County, Md., February 11, 1837, his parents were
of Irish and English extraction, and their children
were reared on a farm, now a part of the borough
of Delta. The subject of this sketch was educated
at the common schools and at the age of twenty-
three began the trade of a carpenter, at which he
worked four years. He then embarked in the mer
cantile business at AVest Bangor, and with the ex
ception of two years on a farm, has remained ii
business at Delta, Philadelphia and (since 1876)
at Delta Station, of the York & Peach Bottom
Railway. At about twenty-eight years of age he
married Priscilla Hatton, a native of Lancaster
County, and has two children living: Edgar L. and
Eliza P. He is an Odd Fellow, and has held several
offices in the township and borough, as judge of
elections, councilman and supervisor. He is not
connected with any church. His father is still liv-
ing and is one of the few surviving "Old Defeud-

T. COOPER RAMSAY, youngest son of Robert
and Jane (Whiteford) Ramsay, was born in Peach
Bottom Township, July 81, 1839, on the homestead
near Delta, where he resided until the age of seven-
teen, when he became a teacher, which profession
he abandoned after two years, and with his brother,
Joseph G., purchased a farm of 181 acres near
Muddy Creek, on which he still resides, having
bought his brother's interest. In 1871 he purchased
a property at Coal Cabin on the canal and embarked
in the mercantile business, which he conducted un-
til 1877, when he returned to the farm. Since then,
he has to some extent, been connected with the can-
ning business. He married, December 16, 1865,
Miss Ritchie, of Peach Bottom Township, and has
five children: Luella, Jane O., Robert R., Howard
I. and Eva E. Mr. Ramsay is at present a school
director, and is superintendent and secretary of the
packing firm of Eby. Barnett & Co. The family
are members of the Slateville Presbyterian Church.

JOHN C. RAMSAY was born on the farm now
owned and occupied by him near Slate Hill, Septem-
ber 17, 1835. His parents, William and Matilda
(Cooper) Ramsay, were both natives of York Coun-
ty, and acquired by purchase, a farm of 130 acres,
where they resided until their death. William
Ramsay was one of the "Old Defenders," having
been at Baltimore with the militia in 1814; he died
in 1841, his widow surviving him until 1883. They
left two sons and one daughter: James D., John C.
and Mary A. James went to Nebraska about the
time of its admission as a State, and was a member
of its legislature; he died a few years after his re-
turn to York County; he was prominent here in



local politics, and was one of the leading citizens of
the township. John C. has never taken an active
interest in politics, but has for many years been
noted as among the most intelligent and successful
farmers in the township. He is unmarried.

JAMES H. RAMSAY, deceased, was born in
1844 in Peach Bottom. He began teaching at four-
teen years and at seventeen years entered Princeton
College. He did not graduate on account of losing
his eyesight. He was a very remarkable young
man and possessed a wonderfully vigorous mind. He
died February 22. 1884.

ert S. and Isabella R. Ramsay, was born in Peach
Bottom Township, March 5, 1850. He remained on
the farm until 1883, having, most of the time, been
engaged in teaching in the common schools. He
began teaching school in the district in which he
resided, in 1867. From that time on until 1883 he
spent much of his time teaching und in attending
the State Normal School at Mil'lersville, Lancaster
Co., Penn. During the period spent as teacher he
was engaged three years at Lititz, Lancaster Co.,
Penn., and two years in the schools of Harford
County, Md. He has given some attention to the
study of law, and has acted as an attorney in secur-
ing pensions for disabled soldiers; was a member of
Company A, Pennsylvania National Guards, and
was stationed with a part of the regiment at Shen-
andoah, Schuylkill Co., Penn., June 13, 1875, at
which place he remained until the suspension of the
trouble, ten days later. Since 1883 he has been en-
gaged with the Equitable Life Insurance Company,
of New York. He is unmarried.

WILLIAM J. RITCHIE, son of Joseph A. and
Nancy J. (Barnett) Ritchie, was born in Lancaster
County, December 31, 1844, and, in 1846, came with
his parents to Peach Bottom, where they located
on a farm of forty-six acres. Here they continued
to reside until the father's death in 1866. Our sub-
ject having purchased the homestead and added to
it about forty-five acres, has carried on farming
successfully, and for the past few years has also
been concerned in fruit canning. December 31,
1867, Mr. Richie married Annie E. Hickman, who

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 206 of 218)