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

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descendant of the Welsh emigrant, James
Prowell, of the sixth generation in America.


Ensign Jacob Barnitz was born in York,
of Grerman ancestry, and early in life was a
brewer. When the Revolution opened, he be-
came ensign of Capt. Stoke's company in
Col. Swope's regiment, which formed a part
of the famous "Flying Camp." He was
then eighteen years old, and marched with
his regiment from York to New Jersey, and
from thence to the defense of the city of New
York, and after the battle of Long Island
joined the garrison of Fort Washington.
When the British attacked this fort. Ensign
Barnitz was wounded in each leg, and when
the garrison surrendered he was left on the
field. The enemy stripped him of every-
thing but his stockings, which were filled
with blood. He lay where he fell during
that night and the next day. As the
evening closed, a Hessian soldier ap-
proached and was about to bayonet him,
when a British officer, who chanced to be
near, took pity on him and thus saved his
life. He was then thrown on a wagon and
taken a jjrisoner of war to New York City,
then in the hands of the British, where he re-
mained fifteen months, sufi'ering from his
wounds. Upon his exchange he was re-
moved on a wagon from New York City to
his home in York. He partially recovered
from his wounds, and in 1785 was appointed
register and recorder of York County, serv-
ing continuously until 1824, a period of thir-
ty-five years. Ensign Barnitz, which name
he always retained, carried a British ball, re-
ceived at the attack of Fort Washington, for
thirty years, but the shattered bone length-
ened, and in 1806 he was compelled to un-
dergo amputation. For a long time kind
Providence permitted him to live, the sole
standard-bearer of the " Flying Camp."
Soon after the war he married Mary, daugh-

ter of Archibald McClean, mentioned else-
where in this chapter. Their eldest son was
Hon. Charles A. Barnitz, an eminent lawyer
and member of the twenty-third Congress.
His second son was Jacob Barnitz, a gal-
lant soldier of the war of 1812, who bore
a distinguished part as an officer of volun-
teers at the baltle of North Point. Ensign
Barnitz lived to the age of seventy years, and
his remains now rest at a conspicuous spot
north of Zion Lutheran Church in York.


Gen. William Reed was an officer in the
Third Battalion of York County Militia
during the Revolution. He was chosen a
member of the convention which framed the
second constitution of Pennsylvania in 1790;
became brigade inspector of York County
Militia, April 25, 1800 and member of the
State Senate from 1800 to 1804; appointed
adjutant-general of the State of Pennsylvania
August 4, 1811, and took sick and suddenly
died June 15, 1813, at New Alexandria, West-
moreland Co., Penn., while organizing the
Slate militia during the war of 1812-15.
His remains were interred near Millerstown
(now Fairfield), Adams County.


Capt. Thomas Campbell was a private in
Capt. Doudel's company that marched to
Boston in 1775; commissioned first lieuten-
ant in the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment,
January 3, 1777, and wounded in the battle
of Germantown; commissioned captain of
his company, January 1, 1781 and returned
home January 1, 1783; member of the House
of Representatives of Pennsylvania, from
1797 to 1800 and a member of the State
Senate from 1805 to 1808; one of the original
order of the Society of Cincinnati. He died
in Monaghan Township, in 1815.


Benjamin Tyson, of Windsor Township,
was of Scotch -Irish ancestry. During the
war of the Revolution he took an active part
in supporting the cause. As a farmer he
was above the average of his section. In
1783 he was appointed commissioner of taxes,
and in 1790 was elected by York County to
be one of its representatives to assist in fram-
ing the second constitution of the State of
Pennsylvania, and in 1791 was appointed a
justice of the peace under its provisions. He
died in Windsor.


James Edgar was born n(

Slate Ridge



Church, Peach Bottom Township, in 1744.
In 1776, at the age of thirty-two, he repre-
sented York County in framing the fir.=it con-
stitution of Pennsylvania. He moved to
western Pennsylvania in 1779, located in
Washington County and became one of the
most substantial citizens of his locality, and
was chosen one of the first associate judges
of his adopted county. Diu-ing the time of
the Whiskjf Insurrection in western Pennsyl-
vania, in 1794, he used his utmost influence
and power to quell it without resort to arms.
He is described by a writer of his day as " a
truly great and good man. In theological
and political knowledge he was superior to
most professional men, had as clear a head
and pure a heart as ever fell to the lot of mor-
tals, possessed an eloquence, which, although
not polished, was convincing and persuasive;
yet he lived in retirement on his farm, except
when the voice of his neighbors called him to
serve the church or the state." In the early
part of the year 1794 he addressed in a
church a congregation of 2,000 people, on
the subject of the Whisky Insurrection, with
a clearness of argument, solemnity of manner,
and tenderness of eloquence that reached the
understanding and penetrated the hearts of
his hearers. The consequence was, very few
of his neighbors were connected with those
lawless riots.


Mr. Brackenridge emigrated when but a
child, with his parents, to America from
Scotland. They settled within the present
area of Peach Bottom Township. His early
education was obtained in the schools of the
first settlers in that region. He afterward
entered Princeton College, where he gradu-
ated in 1771; studied theology, was licensed
in the ministry of the Presbyterian Church,
and served in the American Army as chaplain
during the Kevoliition. He relinquished the
ministry, was admitted to the bar, and about
the time of the closing of the war removed
to the western part of Pennsylvania. In the
legal profession he soon gained prominence
and distinction, and won a high reputation as
a scholar, lawyer and jurist. In 1800 he was
appointed judge of the Supreme Court of

Judge Brackenridge' s opinions while on
the supreme bench were original, and are
remarkable for their keen analysis of the case
before the court and for their humor. This
last faculty he possessed in a high
His book, called," Modern Chivalry, or
Adventures of Capt. Farrago," is a satire
after the order of Hudibras. in which the

captain and his man Dennis wander, like Don
Quixote and Sancho Panza, through the world
in quest of adventure. The book pn
fair picture of the state of society at the
time. The judge, with Albert Gallatin and
other prominent men, participated in the
whisky insurrection, and wrote in vindication
of it. He died at Carlisle, in 1816.


Among the distinguished men of whom
York County has been the place of birth,
may be mentioned -James Koss. He was born
July 12, 1762. He was admitted to the bar
in the year 1784, and he selected Washing-
ton, Penn., as the place of his residence.
He was a member of the Constitutional Con-
vention of 1789, and took an active part in
its debates. In 1794 he was appointed a
senator of the United States, and was made
at one time president peo tern. In 1797 he
was elected a United States senator, and was
a member until the 4th of March, 1803. He
was appointed, together with Jasper Yeates, a
judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,
and with Mr. Bradford, attorney-general, was
appointed a commission to settle the disturb-
ances occasioned by the whisky insurrection.
He distinguished himself by his maintenance
of American rights on the Mississippi before
the cession of Louisiana. He was candidate
for governor of the State, in 1799 and in 1802,
against Thomas McKean. His failures here
did not injure in any degree his fame as an
upright and tried statesman. Ho died, hon-
ored and respected, at Pittsburgh.


Col. Jordan was one of the most promi-
nent men and politicians of his day. He
served as Brigade Inspector of the County
of York for twelve or fourteen years, hold-
ing that oiBce during the war of 1812-14,
and was in constant correspondence with the
authorities of the State and Federal govern-
ments, and in active duty during the rendez-
vous of the Pennsylvania troops at York on
the occasion of the invasion of Maryland and
attack on Baltimore. In connection with
that office, he was made paymaster for the
York County troops, who were engaged or
drafted from the county at that time. He
served four years as a member of the House
of Representatives, and was in high standing
as such. He was a son of Thomas Jordan,
Esq., of Hopewell Township, who was one
of the justices of the peace under the Con-
stitution of 1790, in the Thirteenth District
composed of the township of Hopewell, com-
missioned August 10, 1800. His son, Joseph


Jordan, became possessed of the homestead,
which is now possessed by Col. James Jor-
dan, son of the latter. Several of the
brothers acquired distinction. Samuel Jor-
dan, of Peach Bottom Township, was elected
to the legislature two or three terms. Benja
min Jordan was quite a prominent man in
his day. He served in the custom house as
clerk under Mr. Steele, his mother's brother,
after which he became president of the Mid-
dletown Bank, which position he held for
several years. At the time the United States
Bank question arose, he became a Whig.
He represented Dauphin County in the
House and Senate at the time Hon. Adam
Ebaugh was there from York.

Archibald S. Jordan married Miss Turner,
and they had fourteen children, twelve of
whom grew up. A son and four daughters
are yet living. Benjamin Franklin Jordan,
the son, lives in Baltimore County, Md., near
New Market, and is a prominent politician.
He was commissioner of Baltimore County
several years. The eldest son, John, settled
in Chester County and died there Jame»
Potter settled in Ohio, and is deceased,
James Ross lived on the old homestead ot
his father in Hopewell; was a thrifty farmer
(single) was kicked by a horse and died from
the effects of the injury received. Edward
was a practicing physician in Baltimore city,
who died two or three years ago. Samuel
died a few years ago, and is buried in the
Presbyterian churchyard at Stewartstown.
The sisters, Mrs. Mary J. Arthur, Mrs. Har-
riet Long, Mrs. Rachel McComas and Aman-
da, wife of Mr. Robert Smith, are still liv-
ing. The three first named are widows. Mrs.
Arthur and Mrs. Long are living in Stewarts-
town, and Mrs. McComas is living in Har-
ford County, Md.


James Steel was born in Philadelphia,
about 1774. His father, James Steel, emi-
grated to Pennsylvania from Scotland prior
to the revolution, and with his brother,
Thomas settled at Philadelphia. Being a
zealous patriot and possessed of ample means,
he contributed largely to the struggling gov-
ernment; and when Philadelphia fell into the
hands of the British, he removed to Harford
County, Md. , and purchased a tract of
land. About the same time, Thomas obtained
a warrant for the land now owned by
McSparren, north of Slate Ridge, in York
County. James Steel represented Harford
County twice in the legislature of Maryland,
and was one of three commissioners appointed
to revise the State constitution. He was a

man of liberal education and for many years
was noted as an accomplished land surveyor,
in the lower end of York County ; was
employed to locate and survey the lines of
Peach Bottom Township, when it was erected
from Fawn. He visited Kentucky in 1815,
or thereabouts, and purchased 31,000 acres
of land in the Green River Valley, 28,000 of
which he sold soon after to a man named
Morrison. He died in 1849, at the age of
seventy-five years.


There are a few citizens who will remember
the career of this distinguished "American
Commoner" while he was a teacher in the
York County Academy and a student at law
in York. He was born in Danville, Vermont,
April 4, 1792. His father was a shoemaker,
of dissipated habits, who died of a bayonet
wound in the attack on Oswego, while bravely
defending his country during the war of
1812. His mother, whom he never wearied
praising, was a woman of strong natural
sense and unconquerable resolution. In his
youth, Thaddeus was one of the most diligent
readers, ever known in America, and at the
age of fifteen he began to found a library in
his native town. He entered Burlington Col-
lege, first graduated at Dartmouth in 1815,
and a few months afterward was engaged by
Rev. Dr. Perkins, then principal of the York
County Academy, as an assistant. Amos
Gilbert, the famous teacher of the Lancastrian
School, who resided for a short time at York,
during the period that young Stevens was
here, says: "he was a modest, retiring young
man, of remarkably studious habits." Feel-
ing somewhat displeased with the actions
of some of the members of the York
bar, he made application for admission
at Gettysburg, which at that time con-
tained but few lawyers, as the county was
only fifteen years old. Not having read law,
according to requirements, under the instruc-
tions of a person learned in the law, he was
rejected. The laws of Maryland wei'e not so
rigid; he then went to Bel Air, where he was
admitted under Judge Chase. The committee
on examination he said asked him only three
questions, whereupon the judge promised if
he would buy the champagne for the part) , a
certificate would be forthwith granted. He
agreed to this; the certificate was signed, but
before being handed over, two more bottles
were demanded of the young lawyer. To use
his own words, "when I paid my bill the next
morning, I had only $3. 50 of the $45 that
swelled my pocket-book the evening before."
From there he went to Lancaster, crossing




the Susquehanna at McCaK's ferry, York
County. Here his horse took fright at some
of the timbers of the new bridge, which was
then being built across the river at that
point, and horse and rider would have fallen
into the stream, had it not been for the
bravery and presence of mind of one of the
men working on the bridge. He arrived at
Lancaster, and the next day came to York, and
a few days later located as a lawyer in Gettys-
burg. He did not succeed at first, and while
attending a public meeting at Littlestown,
Adams County, he told a number of persons
that he was going to leave the county as he
could not make a living in it at the practice
of law. A terrible murder was committed a
few days later and he was employed as counsel
for the defendant. From this case he drew
a fee of $1,500, which was the beginning of
his career of fortune and fame. For a num-
ber of years, his familiar form was seen
in the court houses of York, Adams and
Franklin Counties, always being employed in
the most intricate cases. Subsequently as a
lawyer, member of the Pennsylvania Legis-
lature, a distinguished member of the Lancas-
ter bar, and the great American congressman
and debater, his name and fame are familiar
to every intelligent American citizen.


Hon. Ellis Lewis was born in Lewisberry,
this County, May, 16, 1798. and was
a son of Eli Lewis, the founder of the village.
He attended the schools of his native town,
and as remembered by some of the oldest
citizens now living, was an unusually bright
pupil. He learned the printing trade, then
studied law, and was admitted to the bar at
Williamsport, in 1822, and two years later
was elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature
from Lycoming County. In this sphere he
soon showed his ability as a lawyer and leg-
islator. Gov. Wolf, in 1833, appointed him
attorney -general of Pennsylvania; soon after
he was appointed president judge of the
Eighth Judicial District, and in 1843 was
made judge of the Second District, which em-
braced the courts of Lancaster County. In
the year 1851 he was elected judge of the su-
preme court of the State of Pennsylvania,
and succeeded to the position of chief justice.
In 1857 he declined the unanimous nomina-
tion for re-election to the supreme court, and
retired to private life. In 1858 he was ap-
pointed one of the commissioners to revise
the criminal code of Pennsylvania. On ac-
count of his extensive knowledge of medical
jiu-isprudence, the medical college of Phila-
delphia conferred upon him the honorary

degree of M. D. He received the title of LL.
D. from Transylvania University and from
Jefferson College. Judge Lewis' legal opin-
ions on important and difficult cases are fre-
quently cited with approval. He published
a work, of which he was the author, entitled
"An Abridgement of the Criminal Law of the
United States." He was a profound jurist,
and a man of groat versatility of talents.
Some fine specimens of literature from his
pen found their way into the periodical
journals. In early life, during the year
1828, he became an honorary member of the
York bar, but never practiced here regularly.
His death occurred in Philadelphia on March
9, 1871.


G. Christopher Stair was born August 21,
1824. When he grew to manhood he taught
school for a number of years; served also
as school director, and in 1855 became the
second county superintendent. He was a
great reader, and was possessed of a large
fund of general information. He had a
fondness for that kind of information, which
had the keenest wit. His own conversation
displayed a humor that might have been com-
mitted to writing with advantage. For many
years he edited the People's Advocate, a pa-
per noted for its dignified attitude and liter-
ary standing. He was feeble in health and
constitution, and died December 4, 1861,
aged only thirty-seven years. He was so-
cial to a high degree, and was familiarly
known, to a large circle of friends, as "neigh-
bor Stair."


Thomas Butler and Eleanor, his wife, came
to America in 1740, from North Ireland, fol-
lowing the Scotch-Irish immigration and took
up a tract of land in York County, "near ye
Conewago on ye west side of Susquehanna"
May 10, 1743. Here "they lived some
time." Of these parents were born five sons, "a
gallant band of patriot brothers." They
were called in Revolutionary times, "the five
fighting Butlers."

Gen. Richard Butler, the eldest of the
family was born April 1, 1743, in York
County was educated in Rev. Mr. Allison's
classical school in Chester County, Penn., and
then studied law. In 1764, he served under
Col. Henry Bouquet, of the English Army, in
his expedition against the Indians in western
Pennsylvania. At the outset o£ the Revolu-
tion, he was chosen major of the Eighth
Pennsylvania Regiment, and soon after,
lieutenant and ;colonel of Morgan's Rifles,



He assisted in the capture of Burgoyne's
army at Saratoga, iu October, 1777, and was
at the battle of Monmouth, in June, 1778.
He soon afterward became colonel of theNinth
Pennsylvania Regiment, which he commanded
at the battle of Stony Point. He remained
several months with a portion of Wayne's
army at York, and in 1781, marched with his
regiment itom York to Yorktown, Va., and
witnessed the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.
After the war, he lived at Carlisle, and in
1785 was appointed on a committee to assist
in treating with the Indians, of the North-
west. In 1788, he returned to Carlisle, and
became a member of the General Assembly
of Pennsylvania.

Col. William Butler, the second son, was
born in York County, June G, 1745, was Lieu-
tenant Colonel of First Pennsylvania Reg-
iment. He died in Pittsburgh, Penn. , in 1789.

Col. Thomas Butler the third son, was
born May 28, 17-18. The other two, brothers,
Col. Percival Butler and Capt. Edward But-
ler were born in Cumberland County.


The Rev. Lucas Raus, son of Lucas and
Justina Raus, was born in May, 1723. His
native city was Hermanstadt, the capital of
Transylvania, which formerly was annexed
to Hungary, but now belongs to Austria.
The family to which he belonged, had pro-
duced many eminent divines in Hungary;
and among them may be mentioned his own
father, and his maternal grandfather.

Mr. Raus spent the first twenty years of
his life in the city of his birth. There he
pursued his studies under the direction of
his father, preparing himself for the pulpit.
Hermanstadt being mostly a Catholic city,
Lucas was induced to visit the institutions of
other places, in order to complete his studies.
Accordingly, he left the paternal mansion in
1743, and proceeded to Presburg, the capital
of Hungary, At this place he continued
four years in the prosecution of his studies,
when in May, 1747, he removed to Leipsic,
in upper Saxony. In the year 1749 he
removed from Leipsic to Jena, the place
which, on the 14th of October, 1806, wit-
nessed the triumph of the French over the
Prussian Army. At Jena he resided but a
few months, for he had now completed his
studies, and was, by travelling, adding the
polish to the polite world to the erudition of
the scholar. His inteution was now to visit
Holland and then to return directly to the
residence of his father. He proceeded to
Amsterdam, where, at the time, there was a
general spirit of migration to America.

Much that was inviting was said of this part
of the world; and emigrants from various
parts were sailing weekly from that city.
Mr. Raus caught some of the feeling which
then prevailed; and as a good opportunity
offered itself, he determined to cross the
Atlantic, spend a few months in this country,
which was represented as the land of promise,
and then, returning to Europe, commence
the labors of his holy calling. Accordingly in
the year 1750, Mr. Raus sailed from Amster-
dam, and arrived at Philadelphia.

In a few years after his arrival in that
city, he changed his views as to his future
residence: for, although youthful affection
still bound him to Hermanstadt, which he
had not visited since he first left it in 1743,
yet he determined to spend the remainder of
his days in this country.

Soon after he determined to remain in this
country, he commenced his ministerial labors.
Being invited to settle in Germantown, he
accepted the invitation and preached in that
place and its vicinity for three or four years,
when he removed to York.

Mr. Raus was married at Germantown, in
1753, to Sophia, daughter of Mr. George
Gemling, then deceased.

At York, Mr. Raus continued to reside,
until the time of his death, as the minister
of the German Lutheran Congregation in
this place. In connection with the church
in York, he presided over the spiritual con-
cerns and occasionally preached to four or
five congregations in the vicinity of the

This faithful servant in the vineyard of
Christ, was at length called to rest from his
labors. In the latter part of June, 1788, he
was attacked with a billions fever. The dis-
ease raged with great fury for the space
of about two weeks, when, on the 11th of
July, 1788, the subject of it departed this
life, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.

Mr. Raus was eminent as a scholar. Hav-
ing devoted nearly all the first thirty years of
his life to undisturbed and undivided study,
he was not only a profound theologian but
an accomplished scholar- in the polite
branches. Among the languages with which
he was familiar, were the German, the Eng-
lish, the French, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.

Mr. Raus was the father of twelve chil
dren, four of whom surrvived him, viz. :
Margaret, Elizabeth, Catharine and John.


The Rev. Thomas Barton was a very im-
portant personage in the colonial history of
York and Cumberland Counties. He was


born in Ireland in 1730; educated at the
university of Dublin. In 1753 he came to
America, and was employed as a teacher for
two years in the academy of Philadelphia.
At certain intervals he visited the church
people at York, Huntingdon (now York
Springs, Adams County) and Carlisle. After
making the acquaintance of the English peo-
ple at these places, he was induced by them
to return to England, obtain clerical orders
from the proper authorities, and become the
officiating rector for the people of the Epis-
copal Church in York and Cumberland Coun-
ties. He came back to America in 1755, and

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 83 of 218)