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

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bacco, if raised and cured by skilful farmers.
This is a fact of history which the intelligent
farmers of Y'ork County should know. The
current reports, for many years circulated,
which proved to be detrimental to the in-
terests of York County raisers, originated
thorough the shrewd machinations of design-
ing monopolists in the trade, who resided
outside of our county, and whose whole pur-
pose in misrepresenting the quality of tobacco
raised in York County was for the purpose
of sending purchasers into the county and
buying it at a low price. This was done for
many years.

As a matter of fair argument, it is self-
evident that the product of this county must
be, of necessity, similar to that of Lancaster
County, for the plain and significant reasons
that the meteorological, climatic and geolo-
gical conditions of our neighboring county,
are the same as those of our county : the soil
is similar, containing the same variety, and
upon analysis has the same constituent ele-
ments. It has lately been discovered that
the slate soil of the lower end of York County,
at first considered unfit for the raising of

tobacco, is now most admirably adapted to its

The New Tobacco. —The tobacco Mr. Thom-
as introduced, after being raised a number of
years, changed its peculiar characteristics
from the small Cuban leaf to the larger
Pennsylvania leaf, retaining the better qual-
ities of the finer seed leaf than that of the
old "shoe-string." Mr. Thomas, the first
year after distributing his seed, bought up
the entire crop of York and Lancaster Coun-
ties, in all about fifteen hogsheads. It was
packed at that time, peculiar to the style of
the South. The crop was subsequently sold
to Heald, Buckner & Co., Philadelphia, to-
bacco dealers. The manufacturers of that
day pronounced it to compare favorably with
Connecticut leaf. In the following year it
became a fair competitor of the Connecticut
tobacco, and the pioneer in this industry
found it necessary to pack it in cases as was
the custom in Connecticut. The territory of
its cultivation was then limited to a few
miles of the river shore, on both sides. In
1840, the quantity cultivated had increased
to about one thousand cases for that year.
The territory then extended from Goldsboro',
this county, down the river to East Prospect,
on this side, and from Bainbridge to Turkey
Hill, on the Lancaster County side, and east
and west about two miles from the river
shore. This was then regarded as the full
extent of the Pennsylvania tobacco growing
district. There was some ground beyond this
limit, but considered at that time of an in-
ferior quality. From 1840 to 1850 the culti-
vation of "Pennsylvania seed-leaf" gradually
increased, and at the latter date the product
had reached ".^,500 cases of 400 pounds each.
During this time all raised in York and Lan-
caster Counties was purchased by Benjamin
F. Thomas, the pioneer in the industry, and
packed in York, Wrightsville and Columbia,
until 1853, having associated with him a part
of the time his son, John F. Thomas. About
this time P. A. & S. Small, of York, becoming
interested in this industry.obtained a consider-
able quantity of Connecticut seed, which they
had their agents distribute among the grow-
ers of the two counties. From this dates the
introduction of Connecticut seed-leaf into
Pennsylvania. From 1853 to 1860, P. A. &
S. Small were associated with Messrs. Thomas
& Son in purchasing the crop of the two
counties. The fust-named firm continued in
the business until 1865. In 1853-54-55, bhey
tried the experiment of exporting large quan-
tities of it to Bremen, Germany, but found
the shipping, commissions, and government


charges so expensive, that the business was
considered unprofitable. In those days this
tobacco, ab'eady incased, realized to the
wholesale dealers, wrappers from 6 to 11
cents, and tillers from 4 to 5i cents per
pound. The farmer then received from 3 to 7
cents per pound: a very fine quality was sold
for 9 cents. German orders were received
for the tobacco seed of Pennsylvania at one
time. It was gathered in York County,
hermetically sealed, and sent to the city of
Baltimore to a representative of the German
Government, then located there, who sent it
to his country.

The Tobacco Product. — From the few
thousand pounds raised in the Jamestown
Colony in 1815, tobacco has continued as an
important product until to-day its production
in the world reaches 1.500,000,000 pounds,
and it has been estimated that 800.000,000
of people or one -half of the population of
the globe use it in some form. There is no
instance on record of an article that is un-
necessary to the human race, to have gained
such an extensive circulation in so short a
time. It has grown to some extent now in
every State and Territory in the Union, and is
a staple in sixteen States, which produced in
1884 over 500,000,000 pounds. According
to the census report of 1880, during the pre-
ceding year there were 27,566 acres planted
in tobacco in Pennsylvania, which pro<iuced
36,VJ43,272 pounds; of this amount Lancas-
ter County produced 23,946,236 pounds, and
had 16,992 acres planted. York County
produced 5,753,766 pounds, and had 4,567
acres planted. This illustrates that they are
the leading counties engaged in the cultiva-
tion of tobacco in this State. It is since
1879 that the gi-eat boom has taken place in
this county. In 1881 there were about 10,-
000 acres planted. In 1840 the total produc-
tion returned for the State was 225,018
pounds, of which York County produced
162,748 pounds, or about one-half of the en-
tire crop. Lancaster County grew only 48, -
860 pounds. During the year 1845 there
was a great increase in its cultivation, but
the Mexican war the following year, caused
the growth of wheat to be more remunera-
tive, and the prices of tobacco declined for
a time. Not a pound is reported for Lancas-
ter County in 1850. The amount grown as
reported in the census of that year in Penn-
sylvania, was 912,651 pounds. This was
after the close of the Mexican war. York
County again took the lead and is credited
with a production of 418,555 pounds, nearly
one-half of the entire amount. Lawrence
County came next and Pauphin third. In

the decade from 1849 to 1859 great strides
were made, as the returns phow for the cen-
sus of 1860 the amount of 3,181,586 pounds
in the State, an increase of 248 per cent in
ten years; of this amount Lancaster County
produced 63 per cent and has ever since re-
mained in the lead. In the same year York
County grew 695,405 pounds. The census of
1870 reports for the State 3,467,539 pounds;
Lancaster produced two-thirds of all and
York County 527,809 pounds. The census
of 1880 shows a production of 36,943,272
pounds in the State, or an increase of 965
per cent in ten years. Of this amount York
County grew 5,754,766 pounds on 4,507
acres. The crop has gradually increased
since that year. Experience has caused great
improvement in the cultivation and curing of
it. The average price of the crop of 1879
was 10 cents per pound, but the range
of prices was from 5 to 15 cents, depend-
ing on the skill exercised in curing and
handling. The crop has increased from
10 to 25 per cent annually in York

Varieties Cultivated in York County. — The
varieties of tobacco planted are the Connecti-
cut Narrow Leaf, the Connecticut Broad
Leaf, Hoover Leaf, Broad Leaf, Brooklyn
Leaf, Valley Green, Kill Island, Glessner,
Pennsylvania Seed Leaf, and during the past
few years, the Havana Leaf. There are
some other kinds named after individuals;
whatever new kind is introduced, the dis-
tinctive characteristics are soon lost, and
must be renewed with fresh seed every few
years. Owing to climatic influences, all va-
rieties eventually change their characteristics
to what is known as a Pennsylvania Seed
Leaf. Cuban tobacco has frequently been
tried without success. In some of the lower
townships, within the past two years, it pro-
duced and yielded very well. It is believed
that stalks intended for seed should stand
near each other, and not be scattered over a
large tract. In that way they fertilize each
other and produce prolific seed, true to the
original variety. A southern exposure, fac-
ing the sun, is always preferred for a seed
bed, and the same plant bed can be used sev-
eral years in succession. The bed is prepared
about April 1st, and the plants ready by the
1st of June. It is believed that early cut
tobacco cures into a light color, because the
juices dry out more rapidly, and the late-cut
cures darker because it cures more slowly.
For this reason much tobacco is planted after
10th of June.

Prejjaration of Ground. — Grass lands are
preferred by some when plowed down in the


Fall; some prefer land on wliich corn was
grown the year before, and thus avoid more
the troublesome cut-worm. As a rule, any
land that will produce wheat or corn, will
grow tobacco. Sod or clayey soil should be
manured in the Fall before plowing. To-
bacco ground cannot be made too rich.
According to circumstances from eight to
twenty loads of manure to the acre is neces-
sary. Well-rotted barn yard manure is pre-
ferable for tobacco to all other fertilizers.
Tobacco buyers do not now take kindly to
artificial fertilizers. They claim that stable
manure produces a pure white ash, other
fertilizers do not. Custom demands that
quality now.

Planting. — When the ground is ready it is
thrown into ridges three and a half to four
feet apart, and the plants placed on indenta-
tions or "hills" twenty-two to twenty-eight
inches apart. Plants should have four leaves,
and the plants three or four inches across.
Some farmers prefer planting on dry ground
and watering the plant, which is costly.
Most tobacco is planted immediately after a
rain. The rootlets of the plants should be
spread out and not squeezed together.

Cultivation. — The cultivation is a great
care, and needs the closest attention. The
disastrous cut-worm sometimes plays sad
havoc which necessitates replanting. The
shovel-plow is run twice between each row.
The hoe is used for making near approaches
to the plant and to pulverize the large clods
near it. The utmost care is demanded while
the plant is small. When the danger of the
cut-worm has ceased the next great enemy is
the tobacco worm. As the tobacco of this
State is iised almost entirely for cigars, the
greatest care is necessary to prevent the rav-
ages of this insect. No definite plans have
been devised to rid a patch entirely of them,
so hand-picking is resorted to. Poisons to
kill the moths have been used, but not with-
out some degree of danger. The hunting
of the worms two or three times a week

Topiying and Suckering is the next work.
Topping is done as soon as the blossom bud
makes its appearance. Some top when the
desired number of leaves have appeared. If
the top is pinched out it will cause less
bleeding than by cutting. Dry weather is
unwelcome as topping comes on. If such
weather occur, the process should be deferred.
Most topping is done too high, and too many
leaves left on the plant. This is owing to
the cupidity of the grower. When this is
done a season of drought produces "foxy"

tobacco, as it is termed, Topping after a
warm soaking rain is most advisable.

Cutting the Crop. — This is an important
work and needs to be understood. Some
years ago farmers let the plant get fully ripe.
The careful grower has several ways of deter-
mining maturity. When the leaves assume
different shades of color and become brittle
and break when turned over easily, the plant
has matured and should be cut. Of late
years much tobacco has been cut when on the
point of ripening. This tobacco cures with
a darker shade, and is preferred by some.
Fashion, as it were, sometimes demands a
dark shade, which can be produced by early
cutting. It is considered imprudent to cut
immediately after a rain, as the gum or resi a
secreted by the numerous hair-like glands is
dissolved and in a measure washed off.

The hanging of tobacco, housing, stripping
and bulking, preparing for market and pack-
ing are all important parts of the process
I which need to be carefully understood.
Space will not permit to discuss them here.
Does Tobacco impoverish the soil? — Soien-
j tific agrieultui'ists now assert that tobacco,
1 though a voracious feeder, does not make
heavier drafts on the soil than other farm
crops. No soil in York County, even in the
river districts, has been worn out by it, after
twenty years of continuous raising. It is
even asserted that the land where it is eulti-
\ vated is growing richer. Where careless
farming prevails the case might be diiTerent.
Tobacco stalks themselves are excellent ferti-
I lizers. They should be thrown on manure
I piles or plowed under. Yard scraps are now
used by experienced raisers with great suc-
cess. A few planters are accustomed to
throwing a handful of hen manure wherever
a plant is set. It has a tendency to burn the
tender plants, especially during a dry season.
Phosphates suit some soils, but are considered
objectionable by tobacco buyers.

Physical Features. — South-eastern Penn-
sylvania is peculiarly adapted to the growth
of tobacco, for which reason the culture of
it is destined to increase in York County.
It being a profitable crop, is another reason
for the increase. Our county has some of
the best soil m the State for tobacco. Me-
sozoic sandstone of the upper end of the
county by proper fertilization produces an
excellent quality. The alluvial soil along
the streams is admirably adapted, the lime-
stone of the center and the eozoic chlorite
slates of the lower end are noted for their
strength and durability. The depth of the
soil varies in different places, but they re-


spond freely to manurial applications,
whether natural or artificial, making it well
suited for tobacco. The statement for many
years made that the limestone land produces
a finer quality of tobacco than any other, is
somewhat discredited. The white ash, so
desirable in the cigar, is due, it is claimed,
to the mode of farming and curing. The
quality of tobacco sometimes depends on the
season ; at times the best and purest kind
grows on sandstone soil. The moist atmos-
phere that prevails along large streams, the
numerous fogs, the low- lying situal.ions, and
the rich, alluvial deposits of soil, make the i
river sections especially fruitful of this j
valuable product. Island lands are there-
fore valuable. The climate is well suited. '
The summer heat is prolonged late in autumn,
and frosts rarely occur before October in this
count}', giving ample time for the tobacco to
matui-e, even though some is planted as late
as July. j

The Cigar Industry. — No other single in- |
dustry employs so many persons in York !
County as the manufacturers oE cigars. In
certain sections whole communities are al-
most entirely dependent upon it for a liveli-
hood, and in those places a depression in the
trade is a cause of great inconvenience.
Many millions of cigars are annually made.
The rapid increase of tobacco culture has
stimulated this allied industry. It must be
considered beneficial in this respect, that it
affords employment to many people.


The project of forming an Agricultural
Society in York County, was first considered
at a public meeting held in the court house
on November 22, ISril, the object of the
society being, " to foster and improve agri-
culture, horticulture and the domestic and
household arts." The first regular meeting
of the society was held January 5, 1852, at
which officers and managers were elected.
The first exhibition was held October 5, 6 '
and 7, 1853, on the Public Common in the
Borough of York, and resulted in a net
profit of $3,000. The second exhibition was
held ill 1854, and resulted in a loss, the re-
ceipts not covering expenses by $110. No
exhibition was held in 1855, in which year
the present location was purchased, origin-
ally containing but seven acres and fifty-one
perches, but which has gradually been en-
larged by purchase, so that at this time
fourteen acres are enclosed. The cost of the
original tract was $2,057,24, the value of
the present $50,000. Since 1855, with the I
exception of the years of our civil war, viz.: i

1861, 1862, 1863 and 1864 (during
part of which years the grounds were used
by the government, and troops were quar-
tered on them), annual exhibitions have
been held, up to the present year (1885),
which marks the 28th, and now the society
distributes in premiums and expenses annu-
ally about $6,000. The following gentlemen
have been president : John Evans, Esq.,
from the organization of the society, to the
date of his death, early in the year 1876 ;
Dr. W. S. Roland, for the years 1876, 1877,
1878 ; Prof. S. B. Heiges, for the year
1879 ; Michael Schall, for the years 1880,
1881, 1882, 1883, 1884 and 1885. The fol-
lowing have been secretaries : Dr. "W. S.
Roland, from the organization to 1876; Hon.
A. H. Glatz, 1876-79; E. Chapin, Esq., 1880-
85. The following have served as treasurer:
William Wagner. 1852-55 ; Charles Weiser,
1856-58; George A. Heckert, Esq., 1859-83;
W. S. Roland, 1883 and 1884 ; Charles S.
Weiser, 1885.

The profits of the exhibition have always
been expended in the improvement of the
grounds and buildings, and now this organ-
ization can boast of as compact and well
arranged ground as any similar organiza-
tion in the country, and is free from debt.
The race track is but-one third of a mile
in circuit, which is the only objection to the
present site. Unfortunately the grounds are
surrounded by streets and roads, and it is
nearly impossible to secure the additional
land which seems necessary for the future
use of the society. The influence of the
society has been abundantly manifested,
and the advantages offered by the so-
ciety, have been profitably appreciated by
the farmers, as is evidenced by the improved
grade of stock now held by them over those
used and kept thirty years ago ; and in im-
proved methods of farming. The annual
exhibitions not only furnish the exhibitor
the means of calling attention to new labor-
saving methods, fertilizers, farm machinery
and stock, but also serve as an annual re- un-
ion, as it were, of friends and relations, who
meet and discuss questions mutually inter-
esting, arising out of past experiences in
farming. The attendance has always been
large, and on Thursdays of Fair week, the
citizens of the borough always expect the
streets to be crowded. Various estimates
have been made of the usual crowds on that
day, from 13,000 to 22,000. The great suc-
cess of the exhibitions of this society are
largely due to the efficient and active inter-
est taken by John Evans, Esq., who for a
quarter of a century was the president of


the corporation. A large exhibitor himself,
he never accepted a premium, although hun-
dreds of dollars had been awarded him by
the judges.


The Hanover Agricultural Society was
organized in September, 1884, by electing
Stephen Keefer, president; R. M. Wirt, vice
president; M. O. Smith, secretary; Joseph
Gr. Keagy, treasurer. The directors, includ-
ing the president and vice president, were
William Boadenhamer, W. 0. Stick, H. Y.
Sprenkle. George Bowman, David Newcomer,
H. J. Lilly, George A. Long, L. P. Brockley
and E. H. Hostetter. Twenty-eight acres of
land were purchased to the right of the
York Road, adjoining the borough limits, at
a cost of $"275 an acre; including land, build-
ings and all needed improvements the
amount expended by the association was |15, -
000. In 1885 two acres of the land were

In the early part of June, 1885, an exhi-
bition was held under the managemeut of
W. C. Stick. On this occasion there was a
large attendance of people.

The regular annual fair was held in Sep-
tember of this year (1885).

It is thoroughly believed that this fair will
be of inestimable value to the rich agricul-
tural section around that interesting town.
For many years Hanover has been known as
a prominent place for the purchase and sale
of tine horses.

At a recent election John R. Bittinger, A.
Schmidt, J. H. Schmuck and H. W. Parr have
been elected directors to lil] positions of
those who retired.


THE founder of the great commonwealth
of Pennsylvania, was an ardent advocate
of schools and education in general. The
class of settlers, who represented the Society
of Friends in this county, established schools
soon after the settlement was formed. They
were kept in the meeting houses at first. The
Quakers deeply cherished the thoughts and
opinions of their great prototype, William
Penn. Among the many circular letters he
sent to them, one contained the following
forcible sentences: "Nothing weakens king-
doms like vice. It is the enemy of wisdom

and religion. If we would preserve our
government, we must endear education to
our people. The government is a trustee
for the youth of the kingdom." The intelli-
gent Friends, some of whom were prominent
in the administration of alTairs at the time of
the first settlement of this county, filled the
desires of Penii by encouraging education.

The Scotch-Irish, who by nature were an
educating people, also brought the church
and school with them. Parochial schools,
similar to those established in Scotland dur-
ing the latter part of the seventeenth century,
were organized here.

The first German churches also had paro-
chial schools, yet no systematic effort was
made to improve the schools among the Ger-
mans in Pennsylvania until 1751, when
Michael Schlatter was sent to this country
on that mission and did noble work. A plan
was laid by some noblemen of Europe, for
the instruction of the Germans and their
descendants in Pennsylvania; consequently,
through the efforts of Rev. Muhlenbei'g on
the part of the Lutherans, and Rev. Schlat-
ter on the part of the German Reformed peo-
ple, parochial schools were very early estab-
lished in this county and State. These
schools continued in force until the present

In addition to these parochial schools,
private schools were established in places
remote from churches or meeting houses.


The names of some of these early teachers
and schools are mentioned elsewhere, and
frequently appear in the township history.
Rev. John Andrews, an Episcopal clergyman,
afterward provost of the University of Penn-
sylvania, at Philadelphia, beginning about
1770 and continuing during the Revolution-
ary period, taught in York the first classical
school west of the Sus([uehanna River, an
important fact in history, and like the Rev.
Mr. Dobbins, who opened a similar school in
the Marsh Creek settlement. Gettysburg,
was a gentleman of great force of char-
acter. Both these schools were then in
York County, Adams not being separated un-
til 1800. While Andrews eagerly taught the
rising generation of the better class of people
in and around York to con the pages of Latin,
Greek and the higher mathematics, Dobbins
was doing a noble work for the Scotch-Irish
of Marsh Creek. The ~ former trained the
minds of many of the early lawyers of the
York bar, and some of the early clergy. At
least sixty of Dobbins' pupils became profes-


sional men, and twenty became ministers of
the gospel. Eev. Andrews removed from
York; Rev. Dobbins died in this county, his
remains were interred in the Lower Marsh
Creek burying ground near the town of Gett-
ysburg, and the old stone building known as
the "Dobbins property", in which he taught,
is still standing in the suburbs of the town.
These were representative men, who labored
zealously and earnestly among our ancestors,
to mold the facile minds of the young, in
those early days, that they might become the
ideal prototypes after which they were

The teachers of York County, in its early
history, especially of the rural districts, were
varied in character and ability. They re-
mained longer, however, in one locality in
many instances than teachers now do.
Thomas Garrettson taught twentj'-three years
in succession, at the Newberry Friends'
meetinghouse, in a school kept up by that
denomination. He was a mild-mannered,
genial gentleman, who generally controlled

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 74 of 218)