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

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John Garretson, Sr. , Henry Entzminger, Jo-
seph Hufton, Peter Sneider, and Ellis Lewis,
to open such road." It was laid out in Octo
I ber. Its length was "fifteen miles, three-
fourths of a mile, and fifty-six perches." It
began at Lewisberry and ended at New Hol-

In 1769, in answer to many petitions in
behalf of James Cooper, who had built a
merchant mill near Peach Bottom Ferry, a
road was opened from the ferry to said mill.

In 1770 a road was opened from Hellam
Iron Works, at the mouth of Codorus, to

James Dickson, at April session, 1769,
stated that " he had contracted with commis-
sioners, and built a bridge across the Lit-
tle Conewago Creek, - at Henry Sturgeon's
house, for £100, and to uphold the some
for seven years ; at the same time had the
verbal promise of the commissioners that
they would not see him at a loss, lor they


said that it would be wrong to let one man
suffer by a count}'. Accordingly they told
him to lay his bill of expenses before the grand
jury ; that nevertheless he had not yet ob-
tained redress." The court appointed six
men to view the bridge, whose report was
favorable to the contractor, and the eoui't or-
dered the county to relieve him. It is doubt-
ful if a contractor would be so favored now.


In the infancy of our history, letters were
carried by travelers or traders, or by mes-
sengers specially entrusted with them. The
colonial governors began, as early as 1683,
to establish post-routes to the interior settle-
ment, starting at Philadelphia. There was
one to York as early as 175(». and postal
affairs were managed by George Stevenson,
the intelligent court clerk and surveyor.
At first, and for many years, mail was brought
to our forefathers on pack horses.

Stage coaches without springs ran from
Philadelphia to New York beginning in 1756.
During the Revolution, York became a very
important post town on account of the meet-
ing of Congress here, and lines of stages
then ran from Lancaster and Reading to
Y'ork. In 1784 Frederick Sheaffer began to
run a stage line from Philadelphia to Lan-
caster, which a year or two later was extended
to York. William McClelland, and Samuel
Spengler. in 171(7, started the " Lancaster,
York & Baltimore Stage Line. " The trip
one way was made in two days, and was
begitn on Monday, at the house of William
Ferree, in Lancaster; faro for way passengers
5i cents per mile. In May, 1800, AVilliam
Scott started a line from Lancaster through
York, Hanover, Gettysburg to Hagerstown
and Frederick, Md. The line from Balti
more to Harrisburg was a very impor-
tant route from 1796 to 1838, when the
Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad was
completed to York. There were several com-
peting lines over this route. Two rival lines
ran between York and Harrisburg after 1838.
At one time, on account of cutting rates, one
of the owners of a line conveyed passengers
from York to Harrisbiu'g for 50 cents, and
furnished a dinner in the bargain. Nearly
all stage lines exchanged horses every ten
or twelve miles. The York and Harrisburg
line changed a mile below Goldsboro. Stages
on all lines did not forget to stop a short
time at the wayside inns " to refresh the
inner man. " The line from Carlisle through
Hanover to Baltimore was an important
route, and wasopened in 1790, or thereabouts.
The arrival of a stage coach at a town or

tavern was heralded with great joy. The
hardy driver of an influential line always
" felt his importance, " but ho generally knew
very well how to " tip the decanter " as well
as to crack his whip to the trot of his noble

A line was started mainly for the convey-
ance of mails from York, through Dover,
Rossville. Lewisberry, Lisburn to Carlisle in
1815, and also one from Y'"ork to Peach Bot-
tom. All these villages mentioned became
post towns that year mider our present pos-
tal system. During the days of wagoning
to Baltimore, and from Philadelphia to Pitts-
burg, the roads and turnpikes of York Coun-
ty were brought into very important use.
Lines of teams loaded with grain, goods or
merchandise might be seen daily, passing
over our public highways, with six and
even eight horses hitched double, and fre-
quently with bells attached to the harness.
Sometimes horses were hitched tandem.
The stage coach lines have all been discontin-
ued in York County. There are still a num-
ber of government star postal routes in the
County, by which the mails and also passen-
gers are conveyed to points where there are
no railroads.


Wherever practicable, streams were forded,
but when necessary ferries were established.
There were a number of them across the Sus
quehanna at a very early date.

John Wright's ferry, chartered in 1730,
was the most important of its day. For one
hundred years it was part of the great high-
way to the West. Anderson's ferry, at Mar-
ietta, was chartered soon after. The Vin-
egar Ferry was also much used. Peach Bot-
tom Ferry was named as early as 1738; Ash-
more's ferry and Nelson's ferry, later known
as Stevenson's, White's, and now MeCall's,
both originated about 1740. Nathan Hus-
sey's ferry, near Goldsboro, started in 1740,
and many of the Quaker emigrants crossed

Rankin's ferry, 'at York Haven, at a later
day was much used. This was first known
as Joshua Lowe's ferry, as earlv as

There was an important ferry near New-
market, known in early days chronologically
as Chamber's, Chesney's & Simpson's ferry.
William Chesney, prominent in the Revolu-
tionary war, died there in 1782. Gen
Michael Simpson succeeded in the owner-
ship of the ferry, and in 1794, had the dis-
tinguished honor of entertaining President


Washington over night on his return from
the Whisky Insurrection.

The Blue Rock Ferry was established by
Col. Cresap, the Maryland chieftain, under
a charter in 1735 from his own State at the
base of the Conojohela Valley, four miles
south of Wrightsville; it was afterward
known as Myers, and Dritt's Ferry. The Con-
ewago, Codorus and smaller streams had ford-
ing places until the era of county bridge


The first known bridge was built across
the Codorus Creek, at Market Street, York,
about 1743. A legal record entered in Janu-
ary, 1768, petitioning for a new stone bridge,
says, " The old bridge of wood at High
(Market) Street is much decayed; the sills
are rotten, so that it is dangerous to cross
with heavy wagons." The stone bridge was
built there that year. A bridge across the
Conewago, beyond Dover, was built about the
same time, the stone one at same site in
1811. Other county bridges were built at an
early date. The Columbia Bridge across the
the river was built in 1809. It was a covered
wooden structure, stood on twenty-three piers,
and existed until June 28, 1863, when it was
burned by the Union forces under Col. Frick,
to prevent the advance of the approaching
Confederate force, under Gen. Gordon. A
new one has since been erected.

By an act of the legislature approved April
2, 1811, a State appropriation was made to as-
sist chartered companies in the erection of
bridges across the Susquehanna at Harrisburg,
at Northumberland and at McCall's ferry in
this county; they were all built by the dis-
tinguished civil engineer, Theodore Burr, the
inventor of the " Burr Bridge plan. ' ' The
Harrisburg bridge was commenced in 1812 and
completed October 1816, at a cost of $192,-
138. A part of the bridge is still standing.
The part nearest the city was taken away by
the flood of 1846, and a second one at a subse
queut flood. Mr. Burr and his son soon com-
pleting the Harrisburg Bridge, commenced the
construction of the one at McCall's ferry, which
cost about the same sum. During its short
existence, it was considered a remarkable
structure, but was taken away by the ice flood
of 1817. Theodore Burr who was born at
Torringfovd, Conn., in 1762, and in 1789 mar-
ried the grand-daughter of Capt. Cook, the
great English Navigatoi-, died at Middletown,
Dauphin County, November 21, 1822, while
superintending the erection of a bridge across
the Swatarathere.

A bridge was built across the Susquehanna

at York Furnace, in 1855, and taken away
by a flood the next year.

No attempt was systematically made to fit
the early roads for extensive wagon traffic
until 1792. During this year a turnpike was
commenced to extend from Philadelphia to
Lancaster, sixty-two miles long, and was
finished two years later at a cost of $465,000.
This was the first stone pike in the United
States. The progress of roadmaking in
Pennsylvania, however, compares very favor-
ably with that of modern European countries.
After the decline of the Roman Empire, roads
were neglected. One of England's historians
says that in 1770 the trip from Liverpool to
Manchester was not a little perilous from the
bad condition of the road. In Pennsylvania,
within forty years after the Philadelphia &
Lancaster turnpike was built, 220 companies
were chartered to construct turnpikes. The
following descriptioQ and history of the
development of these enterprises in York
County, arranged in chronological order of
construction, was carefully prepared from
the official records of the difl'erent companies:


The charter of this company was passed
by the legislature on March 19, 1804, and
letters patent issued to the stockholders there-
of by Gov. Thomas McKean, May 16, 1808.

At an election held in the court house, on
July 23, 1808, Samuel Miller was elected
president; Jacob Upp, Daniel Spangler, John
Grier, George Bard, Jacob Liephart, Chris-
tian Stoner, Christian Hamaker, William
! Wright, James AVright, Philip Gossler,
Christian Brenneman, Thomas P. Cope, man-
agers, and William P. Beatty, treasurer.
The judges of this election were William
Ross and Godfrey Lenhart. Thomas P.
Cope, the last named director, was a promi-
nent citizen of Philadelphia.

The first business meeting was held at
" Wright's ferry-house on the Susquehanna,"
August 22, 1808, — all directors present, ex-
cept Thomas P. Cope. On this day the
board proceeded to lay out the road, and pro-
gressed the first day as far as Canoe Run.
The next day continued to York. At the
j next meeting, September 10, 1808, John
Barber, of Columbia, was elected secretary.
The macadamized part of the road was made
twenty-one feet wide and one foot thick in
the center, slanting to the sides. After vari-
ous proposals were presented, the one made
by John Grier and Penrose Robinson, of


York, to make the whole road, bridges, aque-
ducts, etc., at $11 per perch, and take tea
shares of stock, was accepted at a meeting,
held October 13, 1808, at the house of George
Bard. The charter empowered the company
to organize with a capital of $35,000. Jacob
Eichelberger was appointed superintendent.
Gate No. 1 was erected at Rudy's Run ; John
Newcomer appointed keeper, at a salary of
$160 per annum, and Christian Kreidler to
keep gate No. 2. This gate has been dis-
continued; it was located on the west
side of Little Codorous, in Spring Garden
Township. A committee was appointed by
Gov. Simon Snyder, to view the road, who
reported it completed according to law,
whereupon he issued an order empowering
the company to erect gates, and turnpikes,
and collect tolls. The first dividend declared
was at the rate of 4 per cent, June 6, 1818;
the second in November of same year of 4
per cent; the third in May, 1819, of 4 per
cent. The following is a list of the presi-
dents of the company in order of succession:
— Samuel Miller, elected in 1808; James
Wright, in 1817; Jacob Eichelberger, in
1821; James Johnson, in 1829; John Bar-
nitz, in 1836; Dr. Jacob Hay, 1849; Philip
A. Small, 1875; E. G. Smyser, 1876. Treas-
urers:- -William P. Beatty, 1808; John
Schmidt, 1817; John Hahn, 1829, and who
was made secretary, 1824; Philip Smyser,
who was also secretary, 1836; John A.
Weiser became treasurer in 1868, and Joseph
Smyser, secretary.


An act was passed on February 2, 1808, by
the State legislature, then in session at Lan-
caster, and signed by Thomas McKean, gov-
ernor of Pennsylvania, " incorporating a
company to make an artificial road by the
best and nearest route from the town of
Hanover to the Maryland line, at or near the
place the turnpike road from Baltimore to
State will strike the same." Conrad Sher-
man, Henry Welsh, Peter Storm, Frederick
Wentz, Francis Lamotte, Jacob Metger and
Peter Eckard were named in the act as com-
missioners. Immediately after the passage
of the act these men began soliciting stock,
and having succeeded in their efforts, an
election was held for officers and managers
on August 5, 1808. The commissioners
appointed as judges of this election were
Henry C. Wampler and George Carl; Jacob
Metger was elected president and Paul
Metger, treasurer and secretary. The man-
agers were Conrad Sherman, Jacob Eichel-
berger, Christian Wirt, George Nace, Adam

Forney, Samuel Lilly, Samuel Graybill,
Henry Welsh, Henry Bowman, Abraham
Hiestand and Peter Forney. Three hundred
and fifty shares of stock were sold, some of it
in Baltimore, but most of it to citizens of
Hanover and vicinity. The price of each
share was SIOO. The entire cost of the road,
however, seven miles in length, was $37,500.
A contract was first made with Conrad Sher-
man to construct the turnpike, but he re-
signed before the work began, and Edward
McCabe entered into a contract to complete
it within fifteen months from time of begin-
ning. It was completed in November, 1809.
Paul Weaver was appointed keeper of gate
No. 1, at a salary of $135 a year, and Abra-
ham Bixler, keeper of gate No. 2, at a salarv
of $140 a year.

C. T. Melsheimer was elected secretary of
the company; Nicholas Gelwicks was elected
president in 1810, and was succeeded by
John Banner in 1815; John Scholl in 1817;
Jacob Eichelberger in 1818; Henry Wirt, Sr.,
in 1840; Jacob Wirt in 1861; Henry Wirt,
who is now president of the company, was
elected in 1870. Tho r Iher members of the
board are R. Young, R. A Eichelberger, W.
C. W. Welsh, Joseph Brockley, Luther
Weigle and W. N. Scholl. Before the rail-
road from Harrisburg to Baltimore was built,
this turnpike was a part of the leading ronto
from Carlisle, and other points north, to the
metropolis of Maryland, to which place most
of the trade of York, Cumberland and Adams
Counties was generally directed. During a
portion of its history the company paid large
dividends. It is npw in excellent condition.
Its course is nearly the same as the old road
laid out by the Province of Maryland, in
1735, to the Conewago settlement, around the
present town of Hanover.


This turnpike road was organized under
the act of 1804, incorporating the Susque-
hanna and York turnpike. The provisions of
this same act were extended in the charter
granted to York & Gettysburg Turnpike
Company on March 11, 1815. The letters
patent, giving the company power to go for-
ward as a corporation, are dated April 23,
1818, and are signed by Gov. William Find-
lay. On December 15, 1819, Jacob Cassat,
Jacob Hahn and Jacob Metzger were appoint-
ed a committee to report in writing concern-
ing the building of the road, and between
April 23, 1818, and December 15, 1819, the
road was completed. On May 2, 1818, at an
election held in Abbottstown, the first officers
and managers were chosen, as follows — Presi-


dent, Alexander Cobeen; treasurer, George
Upp; secretary, Alexander Russell ; managers, !
William McPherson, George Hossler, John
Hersh, Frederick Baugher, Jacob Smyser
(tanner), Jacob Smyser (farmer), Thomas |
Eichelberger, Henry Wolf, Henry King,
Peter Butt, George Dashiells and John ,
Murphy. A Survey of the proposed road was
made by Jacob Spangler. The next meeting I
was held in June of the same year, when the [
courses and distances of the projected turn- •
pike road were presented and discussed.
The board then proceeded from Gettysburg
to Oxford, and from thence to York, making
a complete examination of the route. Several
meetings were held for the purpose of raising '
stock subscriptions, and giving out contracts
for constructing the pike. The president was \
ordered to meet the contractors at Abbotts- [
town, NovemlDer 7. April 9, 1819, proposals |
were received to build the part of the road
from Codorus Bridge to the borough line.
About this time three new managers, Samuel
Smith, Michael Slagle and Philip Frederick, i
were elected. The other part of the board
remained unchanged. Superintendents were
appointed, and the building of the pike
rapidly progressed. In September, the board
met at the usual place in Abbottstown to re- i
ceive reports from the superintendents. De- |
linquent stockholders were forced to pay up, 1
and Michael Slagle appointed to notify the
governor that the road was ready to be
viewed by commissioners. Two toll-gates in
York County and two in Adams County were

After the work was all done and viewed by
the State authorities, a grand ox-roast was
indulged in on the farm of George Dashiells,
to celebrate the joyful event. Most of the
labor of building the road was done by Irish
immigrants. State aid to the amount of $40,-
000 was received. The total subscription to
stock was $103,516 and the entire cost of
building the road and bridges was $107, .'66.
The length, being nearly a direct line
from York to Gettysburg, is twenty-eight
miles. The income for the first year was
$3,515.73; expenditure for the same year
$3,459. lOi; net income $56. 62|. The fol-
lowing board was elected May 24, 1821 —
president, John Demuth; secretary, George
Wagner; treasurer, George Upp; assistant
treasurer, George Smyser; managers, Peter
Butt, Jacob Smyser, Philip Frederick, Martin
Ebert, Samuel Smith, Martin Banner,
Emanuel Ziegler, Daniel Diehl, A. Campbell,
Thomas Everhart, George AVelsh and Hy.
• King. It will be observed that the composi-
tion of the board had materially changed

from time of the organization. May 24, 1823,
John Hersh was made president, and Philip
Smyser, treasurer. The number of managers
was reduced to six, and Martin Ziegler,
Jacob Smyser, Henry King, George Welsh,
Daniel Diehl and George Baugher were
elected. In 1824. Benjamin Beitzel became
one of the managers and Jacob Eichelberger
secretary. Benjamin Beitzel was elected
president in 1830, and Charles Weiser, secre-
tary. The first dividend, one of three per
cent, was declared May 4, 1831. L. Piosen-
miller was elected president in 1832; upon
his death was succeeded by Charles Weiser
in 1858; Joseph Smyser in 1858, became
secretary, and in 1868, president, which of-
fices he held until 1875 as secretary, and until
1878 as president; Alex. J. Frey was chosen
pi-esident in 1878, C. E. Lewis was elected
secretary in 1875 and Jere Carl treasurer in
1868. This road was an important route to
the South and West, before the time of
canals and railroads. The present board of
managers, 1885, is composed of John A.
Weiser, president since 1883; W. H. Kurtz,
Charles Spangler, G. Ed. Hersh, J. H. Mc-
Clellan, W. D. Himes and C, E. Lewis, C,
E, Lewis continues as secretary and Jere
Carl, treasurer.


The act incorporating this company was
approved by Gov. Thomas McKean, March 31,
1807, The commissioners named in the act
for the purpose of receiving subscriptions
were Adam Hendricks, George Lorman,
George Bard, Caleb Kirk, Philip Frederick,
Robert Hammersly, Jacob Lucks, Isaac Kirk
and John Brillinger. The form of the sub-
scription was $100 per share. The act states
that the road was to be built by the best and
nearest route from the borough of York to
the Maryland line, at the place the old York
road passes. Ten dollars on each share were
paid by the original subscribers.

The York & Conewago turnpike was con-
structed to York Haven before 1814, and in
1838 was extended along the river to Harris-
burg pike. These were all important high-
ways of travel.


The act incorporating this company
was passed in 1810. The commissioners
named in it were Samuel Fahnestock, John B.
Arnold, William Paterson, Borius Fahne-
stock, Tobias Kepner and Frederick Baugher.
The first recorded meeting was held Decem-
ber, 11, 1811, when the following board was
elected — President, Samuel Fahnestock ;


directors, Peter Becker, Peter Binder, Daniel
Baker, John Deardorff, Michael Gyselman,
Valentine Hollinger, John Miley, Ludvvig
Swartz, John Fox. Jacob Hoffman and Will-
iam Patterson, who proceeded to locate the
road from Berlin to Abbottstown, the courses
and distances of that part being decided upon.
At a meeting held September 26, 1S12, the
road was located from Abbottstown to
Hanover. The contract for building the
road was concluded and given out October 10,
1812, to the following parties, and at the
prices named per lineal perch.

Per Perth.

James Tuly, first mile from Berlin $ 8 33i

James Tuly, second mile from Berlin 8 73

Cormick McNulty, third mile from Berlin. . . 8 60

William Henry, fourth mile from Berlin 11 34

Cormick McNulty, fifth mile from Berlin ... 6 85
Cormick McNulty, sixth mile from Berlin ... 7 10
Richard Murray, eighth.ninth and tenth miles

from Berlin 10 31

The names of the contractors show their
nationality. The road was to be twenty-
eight feet wide, paved with stone, twenty-one
feet wide and one foot thick, six inches bot-
tom, to be large stone well laid together, and
to be covered with six inches of stone, made
small enough to go through a three-inch hole.
These prices iiicluded the building of all the
bridges and culverts on the line.

The first installment of §5 per share on
the stock was called for payment, January
15, 1813 — to be advertised in the Carlisle,
Hanover and Gettysburg papers.

Frederick Baugher was appointed by the '
board shortly after this as the first superin-
tendent at a salary of §199 for the work
until finished. He was to see that the con-
tractors carried out their part of the contract
according to the agreement, and make report
to the board from time to time as to the pro-
gress of the work.

The board contracted with Christian Nagle j
to put up ten mile stones at stich places as
the board should designate for the sum of
$50: the stones to be sandstone, four and
a half feet long, ten inches thick, to be cut
two feet nine inches, and one foot nine inches
in ground; painted white with black letters.
James Tully, the first two miles from Ber-
lin, failed to pttt in an appearance, and one
mile was afterward given to Daniel Manear
on the same terms. The other mile was un-
dertaken and contracted for by James Heth-
erington and William Turner.

July 13, 1816, the board resolved to make
no further payments to the contractors "until
evidence appears from their conduct and in-
dustry that they intend finishing their con-
tracts, and this evidence to rest with the
board. "

' March 23, 1816', the president, Samuel
Fahnestock, resigned. At the election held
April 25, 1816, to fill the vacancy, Henry
Picking was elected president.

November 9, 1816, the board contracted
with John Fox to finish that part of th3 road
not completed by Richard Murray, being the
three miles nearest Hanover, at the rate of
118 per perch. November 1, 1817, the board
passed a resolution relieving Valentine Hol-
linger of his ofSce of superintendent, which
he filled to the satisfaction of the directors,
the road having been inspected by a commit-
tee appointed by the governor and pronounced
all right. Arrangements were also made for
the appointment of gate-keepers, and the
road must have been opened for travel very
soon after this date. Thomas Abbot was the
first gate keeper appointed.

Tlie present officers are president, R. A.
Eichelberger; treasurer, Jacob Resser; sec-
retary, Henry Wirt; directors, D. N. Bitcher,
Jacob Resser, Henry Wirt, William Stoner,
Reuben Young and Henry Hollinger.


Feeling the necessity of a turnpike road
towards Peach Bottom, upon application a
charter was granted for that purpose by the
legislature of Pennsylvania, through the in-
strumentality of Stephen G. Boyd, who was

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 68 of 218)