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

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save that of God. they recognized was the :
king's prerogative. There is little wonder i
that, accustomed to the rights of man upon j
untaxed soil, and reared to believe in the j
generosity of their ruler, they should imagine
that here, upon the boundless continent of
free America, they had equal rights with all
mankind to possess its wide domain. In-
heriting the blood of contention from stub-
born forefathers, tbey found the possibilities
for exercising contrariness in the disputed \
country west of the Susquehanna. It is not !
to be denied they made themselves very uu- i
pleasant to the governor and his tax-gatherers.
Hardiest and boldest of the early settlers, they
always pressed forward upon the wild fron- |
tier. They were foremost in the acquisition
of dangerous country, and measured their !
helds beyond the most remote outposts.
When they had resolved upon an action no
terrors turned them from their enterprise.
Independent and fearless, they were fit
strength to pioneer civilization into the
wildel-ness, and there lay the foundations of
a rugged church. The Indian named the
streams, the bays and rivers; he left his
records on the rocks and waterfalls. But the ,
Scotch- Irish, bold in his endeavor to uphold
sturdy truth, has left his landmarks not so ;
much in sterile fields, old phimney stacks,
decaying orchards and lonesome fence rows,
straggling through the woods, as upon the i
history of his times, the character of his
posterity, the glory of his country. He too,
indeed, has left his rude, though sweet, me-
lodious Celtic names, where no devastation
nor invasion can be obliterated. They did
not build towns, as the Germans did. They
elanned upon wide scopes, and never huddled
in villages. Where they lived was no -'habi-
tation without a name" — Allen, Hempfield,
Latrobe, Connaught, Conemaugh, Westmore-
land, Monaghan, and beyond doubt. Chance-
ford. The names they gave were clear-cut and

full of dignity. Go where you will, you will
lind vestiges of this people in every section
of the State. Who knows the names of Armor,
Aikin, Taylor, Armstrong, Mitchel, Mcin-
tosh, Cowen, McConnell, Livingston, McClel-
lan,, Graham, Pedan, McKimm, Gal-
braith, McPherson, Ewing, Lowery, Stewart,
McKellum, Mclntyre, McCleans, Mcllhenny,
AIuKeen, McCalloch, McCall, Wilsoa and Bu-
chanan —who knows these and does not know
the old blood of Graham and Armstrong is
iu their veins'? Peculiar people, these
Scotch-Irish, poor, but intelligent; needy,
but independent; paupers, but princes; men,
not weaklings — they had their power within
themselves. The infiiiences of education in
the schools King James had giveu to Ulster
were upon them. Lancaster County for
years drew upon this stock of intelligence
for its schoolmasters, and it has not been
long since every schoolhouse within her bor-
ders had its '■ Irish pedagogue from York
County,'' or elsewhere. Their big Scotch
brains and native wit, their warm, i)assiouate
natures, their intense zeal and earnestness,
marked them with distinctive individuality.
No other nationality had greater integrity of
purpose, more enthusiastic ardor or un-
daunted force of character. They were
young men of vigor and stout principles.
Most of them brought young wives from
Ireland. The women of their hearts were
their only possession, and rich treasures of
love and fidelity they were. They were the
women who reared boys with broad shoulders
and brave, honest hearts. It was they who
poured into their breasts the pure impulses
of patriotic devotion, and kindled the fires of
American independence. Yes, they were
poor; they had left Ireland, because to have
staid meant to starve. They came to found
home.s. Homes were their greatest need.
They had no homes. They came, leaving no
estates in trust; they had no property; they
left none behind. They brought the little
they had with them — a spinning wheel, a
saw, an ax, £10 in money and the hemp clothes
they wore. They left nothing but misery,
and really had nothing but hope. This
explains why few, if any, Scotch-Irish ever
looked for or received legacies from the
" Ould Kentry." The German had treasure
in the ''fatherland," but the Scotch-Irish had
none. They built stone houses and stone
churches. These enduring structures indi-
cate they had come to stay; their old grave-
yards, likewise, that they had made their
resolves to die amid their works. They
tilled the land, and when it was starved out
in one place they abandoned it and cleared



another, farming likewise until it would no
longer grow their crops. Corn, buckwheat
and flax were about all they could grow. The
sickle was their "Champion" mower, the flail
their steam-thresher and the palms of their
hands their patent corn-sheller. Piety and
industry was the story of their daily life.
The "good old times" they had, the trials
and hardships, withal, the contentment and
happiness in their simple lives, their strag-
gles for a homestead and patrimony, are
subjects for deligDtful contemplation, and
have afforded themes for endless winter
night tales by the fireside.

What were their influences upon the early
times and the men with whom they dwelt?
What were their relations to the land they had
joined others in occupying? Indeed, what
mysterious agencies evolved the possibilities
of American greatness through them! The
correctness of their judgment, the unchange-
ableness of their decisions, the nobility of
their convictions, their intellectuality and
depth of spirituality, joined to vital physical
force — ^^these were the bases of their influence
and character. Ever since mankind began to
band in families, in clans, and finally into
that vast organization we call society, the
energy of events was moulding and shaping
a people — population eventually — for a great
new continent. The ages grew necessities I
and the world eontribated to the upbuilding
and glory of American nationality. Out of
the old loins children of fate came — came
to an inheritance of fame and fortune upon
our native soil. To Europe we trace our
forefathers and all there is of American gene-
alogy. The Atlantic slope appropriated to its
grand expanse the best head and heart of Teu-
tonic, Gallic, Anglican and Celtic monarchies.
The voluminous past is only known. If you
were to ask what in it were the mightiest
forces employed in laying the foundations of
our republic, of vitalizing its genius of
strength, of surmounting its imposing struc-
ture with the glory of American ideas, I would
answer, there were four. These were the four:
the Puritan, which was pure; the Huguenot
and Waldense, which was sturdy; the Quaker,
which was passive, devout; the Scotch-Irish,
which was belligerent and God-fearing; the
Puritan for intellectuality and courage; the
Huguenot for labor and worth; the Quaker
for peace and unselfishness; the Scotch-Irish,
for impetuosity, fire, valor, war, freedom,
heart. Where the Puritan would build a
church, the Waldense would plant a field.
Where the Quaker would turn his cheek to a
smiting blow, the Scotch-Irish would knock
down and paralyze. AVhile the New Eng-
lander would give birth to pure principles and

load out the virtuous ideas of liberty, the
powerful Scotchman backed them up with
muscle. While the German lived in fertile
valleys, growing rich, the Scotch-Irishman
dwelt upon the poorest hills, producing brains.
While the Quaker loved freedom, he hated
strife. The Scotch-Irish rushed boldly in,
quelling disorder, battering the heads of
cropped bullies, silencing the mouths of
blatant pugilists, grasping the throats of
hoarse tyrants, crushing the breath out of
every kind of arrogance, despotism or trea-
son. They have all filled a wise purpose and
these four are the bed rock of American society
in its every relation to politics, religion,
peace or war. It is difficult to say that one
couid have done well without the other; or
that our national character would have so
grandly developed to what it is, had any been
left out. This we can say: none were dere
lict in their heaven-imposed duty. But as
our choicest blessings of freedom were secured
to us by force of arms, the sons of Graham
and Armstrong performed their conspicuous
part with determination, bravery and honor.
The Puritan came with his laws, the Vau-
dois with his wheat, the Quaker with his fel-
lowship, the Scotch-Irish with his shoulders
and arms. They all came with their Bibles;
and here is the genius of our strength. They
all came with pure, unfettered thought, and
on their coins, as in their breasts, they wrote:
"In God we trust;" and here is the glory of
the American national idea. Jehovah has
blessed the constitution of the Pilgrims, the
fields of the Teuton, the brotherhood of Will-
iam Penn, the zeal and fidelity of the Celt.
The one believed in prudence and preaching;
another in perseverance and plowing; another
in peace and persuasion; the Scotch-Irish in
pluck and power. They all believed in prayer
and Providence. The Scotch-Irish always
asserted, "God helps him who helps himself ,"
and depended outside of himself only for the
blessing that would reward his integrity of
purpose. They knew it a good thing to trust
in Providence, but they were practical, and,
as one of their deacons said whose horse ran
away with him, "I held on to Providence till
the harness broke, then I jumped out." The
Puritan gave wisdom to counsel, the German
sobrietv to judgment, the disciples of George
Fox simplicity to worship, the Scotch-Ii-ish
dignity to impulse and fortitude to every
struggle. Born to all the attributes of true
men, they were workers:^ an earnest worker
is a God-fearing man; courageous thinkers,
they were good preachers; good preachei-s,
they were heroic fighters. Beneath rugged
exteriors gleamed the sunshine^ of gentleness
and affection, tenderest sympathy and un-



selfish generosity. They carried fine metal
in their tongues, and high spirit in their
breasts. With towering wrath for treason,
they had all the graces of love and loyalty.
When through the land the tiery whirlwind
swept that British guns had flashed at Lex-
ington, righteous indigation blazed upon
their arms and seized the flaming women in
their homes. The Scottish nature was aroused
— the soul burned — down the old flint-lock
came and hurrying to the scene of action,
Scotch Irish were among the first to hurl
their hate on English foes. American patriots
and Scotch-Irishmen are synonymous. Their
devotion to this land of liberty, the freedom
wiih which they gave their lives and sons a
sacrifice to virtue and independence, will
stand as long as time endures, and the names
of Ewing. Warren, ]\IcCulloch, Montgomery
and Hamilton live immortal. Christianity
always called strong men to do her oflice,
make her history and career. Freedom ever
called upon the monarchs of the land for bat-
tle, and never called in vain. When freedom
called from Concord hills, the plow stopped
in the furrow, and from a thousand fields
went war's proudest heroes. The character
of the Scotch-Irish was the character of the
Kevolution. Hardiest, they were most
enduring in every conflict. Brave, they were
ever bayoneting or clubbing guns with their
enemies. Devout, the hymns of Calvin and
psalms of David arose in every camp. The
Scotch Irish of Maine, Nevv Hampshire, Ver-
mont and Pennsylvania had no superiors in
strength or resistless madness in attack. Their
"onion!" was slaughter, and their charge
death. Go, read of that Ticonderoga Ethan
Allen; of Stark, whose "MoUie Stark would
be a widow," if. ere the sun went down, the
day was lost at Bennington; of that Long
Island, where York County men fought nobly
and went down. Read of that Brandywine
and Saratoga. Take up the records of the
army in the North, and restore that Valley
Forge and all the cruel rigor of an eight
years' war, and from the horrid day at Lex-
ington to that famous day at Yorktown, where
Cornwallis laid his laurels at the feet of
Washington, you will find Scotch-Irish cov-
ered themselves with glory, and won the
abiding praise and love of a grateful nation.
Future generations will revere them even
from the French and Indian war to that great
Rebellion in which God cursed with His
wrath the crimes and iniquities of the times.
They joined in every great attempt. They
signed that sacred chart, the Declaration of
Independence, and in its risks and dangers
took their part. In that immortal assemblage
(born in Pennsylvania, Scotland or Ireland),

I sat George Ross, George Taylor, of North-
ampton, James Smith, of York, James W^il-
son, John Witherspoon. Matthew Thornton
and Thomas McKean. These were the in -
fluenees and resultants of King Jame i,
brought out of jnfeebled Ireland to be u.^ 1
as chief corner-stones in that enduring tem^
— designed by virtue, builded in the might of
the two-fold power vox populi, vox <le>\
the government of the United States. Can
the world leave them go? Can colonies and
commonwealths they gave to the Union see
them vanish forever? Can those who are
their children, or we who live upon their an-

1 cient settlements know so little of them?
Should men who were the first in war to pay
tribute blood to freedom, should they be for-
gotten or lie within their graves their fame
unsung? Conscientious and honorable, by
them no man was ever cheated of his conli-
dence. Quick to resent an injury, they never
forgot the kindness of a friend. With
charity for the defenseless, they could
penetrate and course skillfully the villainy
of a knave. Rigid in the control 'of
family, they grew sons of wisdom and
worth. They trained daughters, wives
to first statesmen in the commonwealth.
Being patriotic, they were sure tyrrany was
the lowest limit of baseness. Being brave,
they believed, where justice was the standard,
heaven was the warrior's shield. Being
noble, they realized "the beauty of truth is,
nothing can rest upon it save eternal jus-
tice." When the Scotch-Irish decivled they
were right, I defy facts to show me they were
ever proven wrong. They scanned enemies and
friends alike; fchey saw motives behind every
action, and principles beneath every pledge.
Their heads and hearts were boldly strung.
In politics and government, in theology and
ethics, in the capitol and home, in the grain-
field as on that other field that drank their
life, they prayed to be a "benefaction to
mankind." Their prayers were answered.
From our hills, from our Susquehanna hills,
we can look over the Scotch -Irish realm.
Among all people are scattered their de-
scendants. Along the slopes their churches
stand. The little graveyards with their
silent slate slabs show where the last of the
Grahams and Armstrongs halted to rest.
Their foot-prints are to be traced from the
Atlantic seaboard to the remote valleys and
summits of the Alleghanies. The old patri-
archs are gone. If we but follow with half
the zeal they pressed on to excellence, our
footprints will yet be seen winding along the
earth, till at last they, too, shall be lost upon
the sunlit tops of the highest mountains.

— - J*..


1^ L


, - 1







-Bizr a-iEOiia-iE le. i^iso-^at-ehll.



CHESTER, Bucks and Philadelphia were
the three original co^^nties established
at the first settlement of the Province of
Pennsylvania, under the direction of its dis-
tinguished founder, William Penn. These
counties were organized within two months
after the arrival of Penn, under the char-
ter granted him by Charles II., king of
England, on March 4, 1681. It was then,
he said, in a letter directed to the inhabi-
tants of Pennsylvania, that they should be
governed by laws of their own making, and
that he "would not usurp the right of any."
Chester, the first county formed, obtained its
name from the following interesting inci-
dent: The landing-place of the proprietary
was at Upland (now Chester City), and he
resolved that its name should be changed.
Turning around to his companion, Pearson,
one of his own Society of Friends, who had
accompanied him on the ship "Welcome,"
he said: "Providence has brought us safe
here. Thou hast been the companion of my
perils. What wilt thou that I should call
this place?" Whereupon Pearson, in remem-
brance of the city from which he came, in
England, exclaimed, " Chester." Penn re-
plied that it should be called Chester, and
that when he divided the land into counties,
one of them should be called by the same
name. Bucks, the next county laid out, took
its name from a district in England, from
whence came a number of passengers in the
"Welcome," who located within the limits of
that county. Philadelphia is a scriptural

name, and was selected by Penn himself to
designate the city which he founded. It
means "brotherly love."

By the treaty of 1718, with the In-
dians, the western boundary of Chester
County was not definitely established until
the erection of Lancaster County, from
Chester County, by act of May 10, 1729.
There were then no authorized settlements
west of the Susquehanna, within the present
limits of York County. As far as the treaties
with the Indians were instrumental in estab-
lishing county boundary lines, the Susque-
hanna was the western limit of Chester
County before 1729. Lancaster County, the
first county formed after the death of William
Penn, owes its name to John Wright, a
prominent and influential settler, who emi-
grated from Lancashire, England, and to-
gether with Samuel Blunston and Robert
Barber, located at the present site of Colum-
bia. When the commissioners were appointed
to divide Chester County, John Wright was
made one of them, and he then petitioned to
have the new district called Lancaster
County, after his native place. He served
tor twelve years as the first president justice
of the Lancaster Court, and in 1730 obtained
a charter to his ferry at the present site of

At the conclusion of the Indian treaty in
1736, the limits of Lancaster County were
extended indefinitely westward. It included
all of the present counties of Y'ork, Cumber-
land, Adams and Dauphin, and a large por-
tion of Berks and Northumberland. The


Indians then being peaceful, the fertile
lands west of the Susquenanna were soon
occupied by immigrants, and in an incredibly
short time hundreds of industrious farmers
were clearing the lands and planting their
crops. In a few years a number of petitions
were presented to the Provincial Council,
signed by influential citizens of "Lancaster
County, west of the Susquehanna," asking
for the erection of a new county, f
_ The causes of these early petitions for the
formation of a new county were owing to the
rapid increase of the population west of the
river, troubles and difficulties that arose
among settlers, and the long distance to
Lancaster Court, where a redress of griev-
ances might be obtained. One of the peti-
tions to the Governor and General Assembly
for the division stated "how difficult it was
to secure inhabitants against thefts and
abuses, frequently committed among them by
idle and dissolute persons, who resort to the
remote parts of the i^rovince, and by reason
of the great distance from the court or prison
frequently found means of making their
escape." /

The first petition was presented in 1747,
but it was unheard. In 1748 a strong and
urgent request was made, whereupon favor-
able action was accordingly taken, and on
August 19, 1741), the act obtained the official
sanction of James Hamilton, deputy governor
of the Province, and the new county, the first
west of the Susquehanna River, and in order
of date the fifth in the Province of Pennsyl-
vania, was formed. The county from which
it was detached had the historic name of
Lancaster, after a shire on the west coast of
North England. East of Lancashire is the
grand old district of Yorkshire, rendered
memorable by the War of the Roses, its mag-
nificent cathedi-als and castles of the thir-
teenth and fourteenth centuries, and for its
ancient manufacturing city of York, where
the first English parliament assembled in the
year 1160. It has been for a long time, and
is to-day, the largest county of England.
It has now a population of more than 2,500,-
000, and an area of nearly 6,000 square
miles. By the unanimous consent of the
petitioners for a division of Lancaster Coun-
ty, in Pennsylvania, and the commissioners,
who formed the division, making low water
mark on the west side of the Susquehanna the
boundary line, York County was named
after Yorkshire, in England. The town of
York was laid out and named eight years be-
fore this event

The commissioners named in the act to
carry out its provision and lay off the new

county were Thomas Cox, of Warrington
Township; Nathan Hussey, of Newberry;
John Wright, Jr., of Wright's Ferry; George
Swope, of York, and Michael Tanner, who
then lived near York, but soon after removed
to the vicinity of Hanover. To him that
town owes its name. The first three were
English Quakers. The others were Germans.
They all became court justices. Tanner was
the first leader of the German Baptists, or
Dunker Church, in York County.


The boundaries of York County, as then
formed, which included the present county
of Adams, according to act of Assembly,
embraced "all and singular the lands lying
within the Province of Pennsylvania, to
the westward of the river Susquehanna,
and southward and eastward of the
South Mountain, bounded northward and
westward by a line to be run from the
Susquehanna River, along the ridge of
said South Mountain to the Maryland line,
and from thence eastward to the Susque-
hanna.'' The northern boundary line was
not definitely established, until after the
erection of Cumberland County, which was
also formed from Lancaster County, by
act of March 27, 1750, and named after
a maritime county of Northern England.
The commissioners to view and lay off
York County viz. : Thomas Cox. Michael Tan-
ner, George Swope, Nathan Hussey and John
Wright, Jr., met the commissioners of Cum-
berland County near the site of the present
village of New Market, Fairvlew Township,
in 1750, to fix the northern boundary, but
they disagreed. The commissioners of Cum-
berland County wished the dividing line to
begin opposite the mouth of the Swatara
Creek, and run along the ridge of the South
Mountain (Trent Hills). By this demand a
greater portion of what is now Fairview
Township would have been included in Cum-
berland County. Much of the land now
embraced in that township was originally
taken up under the name of Pennsborough
Township, Lancaster County, which township
was laid out in 1739. It was the first town-
ship laid out within the present limits of
Cumberland when it yet belonged to Lancas-
ter County, and then embraced the whole of
what is now Cumberland County. This is
what gave rise to the contention and division
of sentiment. The York County Commis-
sioners wished that the Yellow Breeches
Creek should form part of the dividing line.
The difficulties were finally settled by a


special act aL,the Provincial Assembly dated
Feb. 9, 1751. \


• York County, when first formed according
to above specifications, including Adams
County, and contained 1,469 square miles,
or about 950,000 acres. In 1749, the year of
its formation, it had 1,406 taxable inhabitants
with an entire population of about 6,000.
In 1750 there was 1,798 taxables, and in
1751 there were 2,043 taxables and entire
population of over 8,000. This will illus-
trate how rapidly immigration into the county
took place, as the increase of population in
two years was 33]'j- per cent. Immediately
after the close of the Revolutionary war in
1783, by an action of the county court, the
township assessors were required to take an
enumeration of in their respective districts.
According to their reports the county in that
year contained a population of 27,007; of
this number 17,007 lived within the present

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 62 of 218)