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

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the boys by moral suasion, and his influence
was long felt and not yet lost to tradition.
William Underwood, the first clerk of the
Warrington Friends meeting, was also the
first teacher in that section, beginning in 17-40.
Zephaniah Underwood and his brother, Eiihu,
were men of equal merit and influence
among the Warrington Quakers, before
and during the Revolution. John Peter
Streher taught the children of the first emi
grants to Dover Township in 1758, and after.
An educated German, Ludwig Kraft, as early
as 1744, began twenty years of continuous work
among the early settlers on the banks of the
Codorus, at York, when the town contained
less than three hundred inhabitants. His
school was organized by the celebrated Mich-
ael Schlatter. Rev. David Candler, who
organized the "Evangelical Lutheran Church
of the Conewago Settlement" (now Hanover),
taught a school in his log church and school-
house, as early as 1738, near the present site
of Hanover. After bis death in 1744, John
Frederick Wildbahn became the instructor
of the youths of that settlement. He also
ministered to the spiritual wants of the first
German settlers of the community. Bar-
tholomew Maul, from 1735 to 1770, taught
the early Lutherans in York.

Among the Scotch-Lish, from the time of
their emigration, schools were established
and supported. The oldest one known was
in the First Presbyterian Chm-ch, then a log
building at the Union of Scott's Run with
the Muddy Creek. It was in operation before
1750. Schools were supported and consider-

able advancement made, at the Presbyterian
churches of Guinston, Chanceford, Round
Hill and Center. A classical school was
opened at the Slate Ridge Church during the
latter part of the last century. It was taught
by the pastor. Among the pupils were the
following persons, who afterward became dis-
tinguished American citizens: U. S. Sena-
tor James Ross of Pennsylvania; Judge Hugh
Brackenridge, and the late Senator Rowan,
of Kentucky.

Jacob Goering, who became a Lutheran
clergyman of rare ability and power, was
born of German jaarents in Chanceford Town-
ship in 1755, upon attaining his manhood, be-
came a successful teacher in his own district.

The people of Hopewell tell many a
quaint story of "Jimmy" McCandless, the
poet, fiddler, justice and schoolmaster, known
throughout the entire "lower end", three-
fourths of a century ago. "Jimmy" Cabot,
of the village of Liverpool, was a similar
personage about the same time. Lawrence
Frost was a successful teacher in "Newberry
meeting" long before the Revolution. Eiisha
Hammond and Isaac Kirk, before 1800,
taught at Lewisberry; Hervey Hammond, the
son of the former, and Jacob Kirk, the first
county superintendent, and the sou of the
latter, both followed in the footsteps of their
ancestors, and were noted teachers of the
same vicinity. John McLaughlin, in 1810,
taught the first purely English school in Han-
over, partly on the Lancastrian plan. The old
Monaghan Church, now the Dillsburg Presby-
terian church, had a parochial schoolhouse
connected with it, which in 1809, was a vei-y
old building. In 1783, John Beals, was a
teacher of this school, and was followed by
William Bowman. Samuel J. Kirkwood,
now the distinguished ex-cabinet officer,
under President Garfield and ex-governor of
Iowa, taught in Hopewell Township early in
life. The old school house of Jefferson is
still in existence, as is the one at Stone
Church near by, erected in 1788. The follow-
ing advertisement, published in 1771, illus
trates that all teachers were not exemplary

RAN AWAY, a servant man, who had followed
the occupation of a schoolmaster, much given to
drinking and gambling. One cent reward is offered.

Well authenticated tradition speaks of
many knights of the rod and ferrule, who
held power by " switch suasion" in different
localities during the early history of our
county. To another class the following
quotation, from one of the world's greatest
poets, would apply:


"Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,

With blossomed furze, unprofitably gay.

There, in his noisy mansion skilled to rule,

The village master taught his little school.

A man severe he was, and stern to view;

I knew him well and every truant knew;

Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace

The day's disasters in his morning face;

Full well they laughed with counterfeited glee

At all his jokes, for many a joke had he;

Full well the busy whisper, circling round,

Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned.

Yet he was kind, or, if severe in aught,

The love he bore to learning was in fault;

The village all declared how much he knew —

'Twas certain he could write and cipher too;

Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,

And e'en the story ran that he could gauge.

In arguing, too, the parson owned his skill.

For e'en, though vanquished, he could argue still;

While words of learned length and thundering

Amazed the gaping rustics ranged around;
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew.
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumphed is forgot,"


In the priojitive days our history among
the Germans and in their parochial schools,
books, imported from their native country,
were used. About 1800 and later, many of
the German susbcription schools were taught
by Scotch-Irish and English Quaker school-
masters. The schools, under the direction
of the "Friends' monthly meetings," at
Warrington and Newberry, were regularly
kept up for three-fourths of a century, and
had a good record. The kindly persuasive
manner and the gentle dispositions of these
good old teachers of the past, are still deeply
cherished in the minds of some oE the old
citizens of the neighborhoods in which they
taught. How carefully they tried to con the
inviting pages of Webster's, Comly's, Cobbe's
spellers; Emerson's, Pike's, Park's and
Daboll's arithmetics; Murray and Kirkham's
grammar: the English Reader and the Intro-
duction; frequently the New Testament, any
history of the United States, or history of
any country that might chance to have found
its way into the scanty library of the early
settlers. The competitive spelling match
always gave rise to much interest, and taught
the early youths the whole of the speller,
possibly much better than spelling is now
taught in many schools. There always was
a great rivalry in attempting to acquire a
knowledge of this art, and he or she who
was the " best speller " in a community, was
a local hero or heroine, as great in import-
ance to the immediate vicinity as Washing-
ton to the nation at large. Teaching the
spelling of words, without understanding
their meaning, is of little value, consequently

outside of the emulation it brought about
and the amusement it afforded, the value
derived may not have been great.

There always was great rivalry in the study
of arithmetic, and often a healthy spirit of
emulation was inculcated. Togo "through
the book," and have all the "sums" copied,
in a large book, specially prepared for the
purpose, before any other schoolmate could
do it, was considered a meritorious victory.
Thus the one who could " cipher the best "
in a community, was a person for whom there
was much admiration. Until the invention
of steel pens, and for several years aftei^this
event, in this section the quill was the com-
mon instrument of writing. Metallic pens
were unknown, and it was an important item
for a teacher to know how to make a good
quill pen. It is now one of the lost arts, but
if we are to judge from the appearance, neat-
ness and accuracy of some of the writing
of our ancestoi's, done by a quill, in contrast
with much writing now done with the metalic
pen, it is a pity that, quill-pen-making is a
lost art. An attractively executed old docu-
ment has come into the hands of the writer.
It contains all the problems of an old Eng-
lish arithmetic, copied carefully and sys-
tematically on old style paper, made in book
form. If Elihu Underwood, who executed
this book in the year 1769, at the school ad-
joing the "Warrington meeting-house," was
not a local hero, he ought to have been con-
sidered one. His father, Zephaniah, for
many years a famous teacher among the
Quakers during the Revohttiouary period,
and Elihu Underwood became one of the first
trustees of the York County academy in

The old fashioned log school houses had
the writing desks almost invariably arranged
along the side walls of the school houses.
These desks were used for writing purposes
only. In most cases the writing was done
in books made at home by parents or pupils.
The firstj writing exercise was a straight mark,
then a single curve, next a double curve, and
the letters taken singly, beginning with "o"
and following with simpler ones. Large
hand was first taught, then small hand. The
teacher made pens and "set the copies."
For the latter, quaint precepts were used.
How many times has the reader as well as his
father and grandfather seen the following:
"Command you may your Mind from Play."
"A Man of Words and not of Deeds, is like
a Garden full of Weeds," "Desire wisdom
from Experience. " In the first log houses,
windows were made by having the space be
tween the logs cut wider and narrow sash-


inserted. Thus one window sometimes was
made to extend along nearly one whole side
of the building. Before glass had become
plenty, oiled paper was used. On this, truant
boys would often place crude hieroglyphics.
Indeed such demoralizing tendencies have
not yet entirely disappeared, to deface these
temples of learning by impure chirography.


At the church schools and some subscrip-
tion schools, in many places the session was
longer than the present common school term.
In 1806 the one adjoining Slate Ridge Pres-
byterian Church was kept open for nine
months. The records of a school near
Spring Forge show that in 1810 it was in
session ten months of the year. A school
was kept eight months of the year, 1803, in
Fairview Township by the father of the lirst
county superintendent. But these long terms
were rather the exception than the rule, as in
general the school term was only three or
fom' months of the year, from the time of
first settlements until a uniform term was
established by act of the legislature.


From the time of the adoption of the
State Constitution of 1790 to 1809, no legis-
lative provision of a general nature was made
in reference to public schools. Dui-ing the
latter year, an act was passed for the "gratu-
itous education of the poor." A report was
made by township and ward assessors to the
county commissioners, of all children be-
tween the ages of five and twelve years, whose
parents were unable to provide for their edu-
cation. These poor children were sent to the
nearest school at the expense of the county.
This law was repealed by the act of March
"29, 18'24, which provided that every town-
ship or borough should elect three "school-
men," who should superintend the education
of poor children in their respective districts.
But each county might authorize the "school-
men" to divide the township into school dis-
tricts, and to establish schools at the expense
of the township, to which all the children
belonging to the districts, might be taught
for three years, at any time between the ages
of sis and fourteen years. This law was
applicable to the whole State, with a few
exceptions. A few of the English speaking
townships of York County accepted the pro-
visions of this act. It was repealed in 1826,
and the act of 1809 revived. By the act of

April 2, 1831, the basis of a more efficient
system was laid, under which certain moneys
and powers were placed under the direction
of Secretary of the Commonwealth, the
Auditor General and Secretary of the Land

The Act of 1884 establishing our present
system of public schools, caused a great and
exciting discussion in the legislature. Its
final passage was considered a great triumph
by its advocates. It was entitled " an act to
establish a general system of education by
common schools."

A convention of delegates assembled in
York on Tuesday, November 4, 1834. Jacob
Dietz was president and Daniel Small secre-
tary. " AVill this convention accept the pro-
visions of the school law as passed in April of
this year, and shall a tax be laid for the ex-
penditure of each district?" was brought up
for consideration.

Some of the delegates were sent to the
convention by certain townships, with
the special purpose of preventing its ac-
ceptance. The following- named persons
voted in the affirmative, in the order
given: Samuel Proweil, representing Fair-
view; Luther H. Skinner, Hanover; Jacob
Emmitt, South Ward, York; Godlove Kane,
North Ward, York; James H. Smith, Chance-
ford; Robert Gebby, Lower Ghanceford; John
Livingstone, Peach Bottom — yeas, seven.
The names of those persons are now historic.
The first affirmative vote was followed by ap-
plause by a few, and marks of disapproval by
many delegates.

The county commissioner and the follow-
ing-named delegates voted in the negative:

Commissioners. — Jacob Dietz, Samuel Har-
nish, John Shultz.

Delegates. — Chi'istian Snyder, Manchester;
John Walker, Warrington; Jacob Emig,
Dover; Ezekiel Williams, Paradise; William
Foster, Newberry; Jacob WeltzholFer. Ilel-
1am; Jacob Feiser, Shrewsbury; Hugh Mc-
MuUin, Mouaghan; James Wallace, Hope-
well; Thomas Brooks, Fawn; Abraham
Burkholder, Franklin; Charles Diehl, Wind-
sor; Samuel Johnson, Spring Garden; Henry
Bowman, Heidelberg; Henry Berkheimer,
Washington; John Wentz, Manheim; John
Fitz, Sr., Codorus; John Kreber, Carroll;
Henry Stover, Conewago — nays, twenty-

On motion, it was then resolved by the
delegates who voted in the affirmative, that
the sum of $1,300 be raised by tax, agreeably
to the provision of said act, to be apportioned
among their respective districts, as follows:


York borough, south ward $S03 99

north ward 223 74

$538 28

Hanover 123 74

Chauceford 173 63

Lower Chanceford 138 50

Peach Bottom. 81 53

Fairview 254 33

11,300 00
Sesolved, That Saturday, the 22d, be the day
in which the people meet in their respective dis-
tricts, and decide by a majority of votes whether
they will raise for the current year a sum in addition
to that determined on by the delegates, as above

The convention then adjourned.

On Thursday, May 28, 1835, a similar
meeting of delegates was held in the com-
missioners' office, which resulted as follows:

Frederick Baugher, North Ward; Israel
Gardner, South Ward; Henry Wirt, Hanover;
Andrew Clarkson, Chanceford; John Living-
stone, Peach Bottom: Stephen McKinley,
Lower Chanceford; Dr. Benjamin Musser,
Fairview; Joseph Willis, Newberry; Jesse
Wheeler, Fawn^yeas, nine.

Commissioners. — Jacob Deitz, John Shultz,
Christian Inners.

John McAllister, Hopewell; Henry Stover,
Conewago; Henry Peter, York — nays, six.

Some districts were not represented.

Monday,May 2,1836, the annual convention
of the county commissioners and school dele-
gates assembled at the court house. The fol-
lowing delegates attending produced their
credentials, and took their seats.

Commissioners. — John Shultz, Christian
Inners, Joseph Small.

Daniel Kraber, North Ward; Joseph Mc-
Pherson, South Ward; John Stickel, War-
rington; P. Williamson, Peach Bottom; John
Thompson, Fairview; Joseph McCreary;
Newberry; James E. Mifflin, Hellam; George
Klinefelter, Shrewsbury; John Bush, Dover;
Joseph Parks, Monaghan; William Allison,
Hopewell; Robert Anderson, Fawn; Martin
Carl, Franklin; Michael Paules, Windsor;
Henry Leib, Heidelberg; John Grist, Wash-
ington; Daniel Bailey, Carrol; Luther H.
Skinner, Hanover; Samuel Bear, West Man-
chester; Andrew Clarkson, Chanceford; Mat-
thew McCall, Lower Chanceford.

On motion of Daniel Kraber it was then

Resolved, That a school tax be raised agreeably to
the act of Assembly, entitled an act to establish a
general system of education by common schools,
and the supplement thereto.

The question being taken by yeas and nays,
the vote was as follows:

Joseph Small, Daniel Kraber, Joseph Mc-
Pherson, John Stickel, John Thompson,
Joseph McCreary, James E. Mifflin, George

Klinefelter, Joseph Parks, William Allison,
Eobert Anderson, Daniel Bailey, Luther
Skinner, Jacob Feiser, Andrew Clarkson,

I Matthew McCall — yeas, seventeen.

John Shultz, Christian Inners, John Bush,
Martin Carl, Michael Paules, Henry Leib,
John Greist, Samuel Baer — nays, eight.

It will also be seen that the common school
system was not very popular in the county
generally. Of the nine votes cast by the
county commissioners, at the three conven-
tions, there is but one yea, that of Joseph

j Small. The delegates of the following dis-
tricts voted to a(!cept the system: Fairview,

I Hanover, Chanceford, Lower Chanceford,
Peach Bottom and York borough. The next
year Newberry and Fawn Townships were
added to the list. At subsequent conven-
tions many districts refused to send dele-
gates. At the third and last convention,
Warrington, Hellam, Shrewsbury, Monaghan,
Hopewell, Carroll and Springfield accepted.
In many places bitter controversies arose,
and great opposition was manifested in the
efforts to establish schools. The remaining
townships, with few exceptions, did not
accept the system until after the passage of
the act of 1848, which contained the follow-
ing conditions: "That from and after the
passage of this act, the common school sys-
tem shall be held and taken to be adopted by
the several school districts of this county."
Heidelberg did not, however, accept until
1857; West Manheim in 1858, and Manheim
in 1870. Attempts were made to vote down
the system in some of the German townships.
As time progressed, the new system was re-
ceived with more favor. The examination of
teachers was very imperfectly conducted by
the school directors, or some person selected
by them.


In accordance with the act creating the
office of county saperintendent of schools, the
incumbent to be elected for the term of three
years by a majority of the school directors of
the county assembled, the first meeting was
held in the court house, June 5, 1851. There
was a fair representation of the directors
from those townships, which had accepted
the common school system. Daniel Kraber,
of York, was chosen president; J. H. W^at-
kins and Jacob Greenfield, vice-presidents;
John Finley, of Lower Chanceford, and A.
A. Glatz, of Hellam, secretaries. There
were four candidates named for the position,
viz. : Jacob Kirk, Andrew Dinsmore, C. B.
Wallace and D. M. Ettinger. The law gave the
school directors assembled the power to estab-


lish tlie salary, which on this occasion was fixed
at $500, whereupon all candidates withdrew,
except Jacob Kirk, of the village of New
Market, Fairview Township, and he was
unanimously elected. Mr. Kirk was an ex-
emplary gentleman, representing an intelli-
gent Quaker family of the upper end. He
had not been, however, a teacher for a num-
ber of years previous to his election, and was
not specially prepared to surmount the
obstacles in the way of establishing the
school system in the county. Two reports
were made by him to the secretary of the
commonwealth, which officer then tilled also
the position of State superintendent of com-
mon schools. Mr. Kirk's first report was
dated December 8, 1854, in which he felt
encouraged to say that " the cause of common
school education is becoming so interwoven
with the interests and feelings of our people
as to insure its prosperity. " He suggested
that the law be so amended as to authorize
the school directors to purchase suitable
books with the district funds. There were
then 247 schools in the county under his
supervision, 223 male and 37 female teach-
ers; average salaries of males, $19.17; of
females, $13.00. Number of pupils in all
the schools, 13,652. There were twenty
graded schools in York, and six in Hanover.
His second report was made to Andrew G.
Curtin, secretary of commonwealth and
superintendent of common schools, dated
"New Market, August 13, 1855." There
were then 279 schools, and Mr. Kirk visited
240 of them. The average school term in
the county was a little more than four months,
The teachers, generally, he said, "were
attentive and industrious, but there are some
painful exceptions." The highest average
salary, $28. 75 per month, was paid in
Wrightsville. Mr. Kirk resigned the posi-
tion, after having served about one year, and
G. C. Stair, editor of the People's Advocate,
of York, was appointed to the position. He
was familiarly known among his many friends
as "Neighbor Stair." He was an ardent
supporter of the cause of education, having
used the columns of his paper to advance its
interests. At the expiration of fifteen months,
on account of failing health, he resigned, and
Dr. A. E. Blair was appointed to fill the un-
expired term.

The second triennial convention was held
May 4, 1857; Judge Robert J. Fisher, was
elected president, and Dr. G. L. Shearer of
Dillsburg and Dr. H. G. Bussey of Shrews-
bury, secretaries. There were fifty-six direc-
tors present. The salary was raised to $1,000
per annum, and Dr. Blair elected. During

this administration, Heidelberg and West
Manheim Townships accepted the school
system, leaving Manheim the only non-accept-
ing district.

In the year 1858, Hanover Borough, Hel-
1am and Dover Townships, organized district
insitutes and a union institute was formed by
the teachers of Manchester, West Manchester
and North Codorus. Twenty-three districts in
the county adopted a uniform series of school
books; outline maps were placed in 124 schools
and twelve districts held institutes twice a
month. Whole number of schools in county
310; average length of school term, four and
one-half months. York had a nine months'
term, Hanover eight, Lower Chanceford and
Spring Garden six months. The law required
but four months, and most districts did not
exceed that number. The amount of tax
levied was $42,235 for the entire county.
During this term the York County Normal
School was started.

The third convention for the election of a
county superintendent was held May 7, 1860.
V. K. Keesey, of York, was called to the
chair. The salary remained unchanged and
the incumbent in office, Dr. Blair, was re-
elected on first ballot over four competitors;
at this session 111 directors were present.
In 1862 Superintendent Blair entered the
"Union Army as a surgeon, and Daniel M.
Ettinger was deputized to fill the balance of
the term. In many townships in the year
1860, district superintendents made reports
to the county superintendent.

Among those who reported encouraging
progress were W. H. Bond of West Manches-
ter, Henery Mosser of Fairview, Charles Mit-
zel of Codorus Township, William Linebaugh
of Conewago, J. B. Baughman of Paradise,
Daniel Rhodes of Manchester and Peter
Heiges of Monaghan. Most of these gentle-
men were the secretaries of their respective
school boards. In 1863 Joseph Wickersham,
of Newberry Township, reported that the dis-
trict superintendency "had done much to
improve the condition of oiu- fifteen schools.
A spirit of emulation has thus been encour-

The fourth convention assembled May 3,
1863. Judge Fisher was chairman, C. B.
Wallace and S. J. Rouse secretaries. The
salary remained $1,000. One hundred
and six directors were present. D. M.
Ettinger, S. G. Boyd, and S. B. Heiges
were nominated; Mr. Heiges received
a majority of the votes and was declared
elected. He had been for a number
of years previously a successful teacher in
the county. For the year 1867 he reported


follows: Public examinations, 45; appli-
I cants examined, 377; schools visited, 130;
institutes held, 31; educational meetings, 18;
j days officially engaged, 200; miles traveled,
I 2,100. There were then 353 schools. Dur-
ing the civil war many of the most efficient
teachers entered the Union Army. In the
year 1867, about seventy pupils attended the
Normal School conducted during the Spring
and Summer months by county superintend-
ent, S. B. Heiges, S. G. Boyd and George
W. Heiges. At the next election, held in
May, 186*), Mr. Heiges was unanimously re-

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 75 of 218)