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

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in time to escape being surrounded by the
water; Mrs. Smith, who in the flood of 1817
was nearly drowned in the Motter House,
was rescued from danger in this flood at her
residence on Water Street. She was then
ninety years old. There were many other
similar adventures.

Rtiin mid Desolation. — There is not space
in this article to give an adequate de-
scription of the appearance of the flooded
district and the ruin and desolation. Some
of the names of persons who lost heav-
ily by the flood are as follows: on Market
Street, east of the bridge, Jonathan Owen,
clothing store; Logan Marshall, liquor
dealer; Theresa Seavey, milliner; Hantz
& Bro., hardware; J. D. Harnish, con-
fectioner; Lewis Shive, furniture; Misses
Alleman, milliners; Henry E. Houser,
butcher; Miss Doudel and Mrs. CroU,
private residences. On Market Street, west
of bridge, all was devastation from the
creek to Newberry Street ; among the
losers were William Wiest, grocer ; Peter
Wiest, dry goods merchant, lost very heav-
ily; he had $28,000 worth of goods on
hand; nearly all was damaged or swept away.
Kaylor's bookstore; Frank Rohrbaugh, hard-
ware and grocer; John F. Patton & Co.,
druggists, store was completely washed out
and the goods taken away or lodged in the
back yard, several thousand dollars loss;
Baugher, Kurtz & Stewart's large foundry
sustained a heavy loss; Vigilant Eire Co.;
Isaac Heller, clothier; Joshua Green; H. J.
Gresley, butcher; Michael Smyser, hardware;
C. Landis; Motter House; Alexander Wantz,
tinner; H. B. Schroeder; V. Welsh; E. M.
Hugentugler, grocer; C. A.Klinefelter, hard-
ware; Miss Sue Chalfant. The losses of
these persons ranged from $500 to $20,000.

i David P. Frank's carriage shops on Mason
Avenue, were severely damaged. Along New-
berry Street the scene was indescribable.
Many houses were swept away, and all
damaged. The Colored Church on this street
was badly damaged. J. C. Fallon's plan-
ing-mill, J. R. Davis' comfort works and
soap factory, Jacob Allison & Co.'s brick-
yard, were all badly damaged. The first
floor of every house in the flooded district
was covered with mud and slime, as well as
the streets and alleys. The Empire Car
Works, owned by Michael Schall; Barnitz's,
Wilts', Gerber's, Fahs & Smyser's coal yards,
and the Variety Iron Works, on the east of
the creek — all sustained heavy losses. George
Street, from railway to bridge, was submerged,
as well as a large section of town north of
the depot. Between York and Louck's mill,
along the meadows there was a sight which
was viewed by many people. Huge piles of
rubbish, store goods, furniture, broken
buildings, "etc., were piled up in promiscuous
confusion. Thousands of people visited
York during the week following the flood
to view the devastation. The generous peo-
ple of the town soon took an active interest
in the flood sufferers. Money was raised,
relief committees formed, and many who lost
property received a part of the value thereof.
Several thousand dollars were distributed
among the needy.

Destruction in Other Points in the County.
— The greatest amount of rain fell west and
southwest of York. At Spring Grove, P. H.
Glatfelter lost heavily in the destruction of
his property. George E. Miller, at that

j place, lost 400 tons of ice. A barn was carried
away at Myer's mill and two horses drowned.
Mr. Alwine's brick-yard was nearly ruined.
At Menges' mill, the railroad bridge was taken
away and the track was destroyed for yards.
The coal-yard of P. H. Menges was flooded.
Miss Maggie Straley, aged twenty-one
years, was drowned at Jacob's mills, four
miles east of Hanover. She had gone out to
assist in rescuing some pigs and was unex-
pectedly swept away with the rushing waters,
and thus unfortunately lost her life. The
destruction of bridges, and the tearing up of
railroad tracks was terrible at places, especial-
ly of the Hanover Junction and the Hanover
& York Railroads, and the trains could not
run over them for several days.

The damage done along the Conewago and
Little Conewago was very-great, as also along
part of Muddy Creek. The grain cro^j was
considerably injured, and much hay that was
lying on the ground spoiled. The entire
county suffered heavy loss.


There was much other destruction in the
couDty not herein named.

To the question: Will such a flood occur
again? we answer: Not likely. Even though ,
more than two-thirds of York County is
cleared land, the average yearly amount of
rain-fall now is equal to what it was seventy
years ago. Facts are stubborn things and
they destroy theories sometimes.

The commissioners of York County. Messrs.
Haines, Kiefer and Bentz. placed wooden
bridges at the following places, where the
flood had taken away bridges previously
olaced there: Across Codorus Creek at Spren-
kle's Mill, at the New Salem Road, and
Hyde's Fording; iron bridges across the
same stream at Penn, Princess, King, Mar-
ket, Philadelphia and George streets, in
York; two at Louek's Mill in Spring Garden
Township, at Myers and Brillinger's Mill, in
Manchester Township; across the Little Con-
ewago at Emig's and Neiman's Mills; across
the Big Conewago at Gross' Fording, Diehl's
Mill, Benedict's and Bower's Fordings; one
across Bermudian Creek, across one of the
many Beaver Creeks in York County at Mas-
emer's Mill, two over Oil Creek near Menges'
Mill, and one across Mill Creek in Peach
Bottom. In all twenty-four bridges, nearly
all iron. Their cost was $91,000. At the
same flood Adams County lost 12 county
bridges: Carroll County, Md., 21; Cecil, 15;
Frederick, 20, and Hartford, 20.


November 13, 1833, is signalized as the
period of the greatest meteoric shower ever
known on this continent, and was then de-
scribed by one who witnessed it, as " grand,
awful and sublime." Many superstitious
people believed it was "the end of all things,"
and to them it was overwhelming and terrific.
In the language of an old gentleman, still
living, who witnessed the phenomenon, "it
rained stars." Many of them were globular
in shape, but in their rapid motion each one
left behind a luminous tail, which the imag-
ination of the credulous transformed into so
many " fiery serpents. " ' Some people spent
the time in lamentation and prayer, owing to
the horror of mind that seized upon them.

About 11 o'clock on Tuesday night, Octo-
ber 12. 1833, some meteors were observed in
the atmosphere. They continued to increase
until 5 o'clock on Wednesday morning, when
the heavens presented a sight grand beyond
description. The radiating point for this
latitude seemed to be a little south, south-
east of the zenith. There were short inter-
vals of cessation, and then there was no

space in the heavens, three times the diam-
eter of the moon, which was not filled with
the cele.stial tire-works, with many long
translucent phosphorescent trains. Some
large meteors darted across the heavens, leav-
ing luminous trains behind them that were
visible for ten minutes or longer. Ten thou-
sand little meteors might be observed at a
time igniting, falling perpendicularly for a
short distance and then disappearing, to be
followed by others. Not a cloud was visible,
not a breath of air was perceptible. The
luminous trail which each meteor left behind
it, as ii! moved, gave the heavens almost the
j appearance of a solid mass of flame. The
1 scene continued until their light was eclipsed

by morning dawn.
j Meteoric showers of a similar kind seem
1 to occur about three times a century. The
I first one of modern times, familiar to history,
[ took place on November 12, 1799, and was
I also noted for brilliant display. A,nother oc-
cui-red 1866, when every intelligent person
I in Europe and America was awaiting the ap-
pointed time. The display was prominent
only in England. A shower may be expected
in 1899.


THE topographical features of York Coun-
ty consist principally of easy-rolling
hill and valley surface in a great variety of
aspects. The county belongs to the open
country of the great Atlantic plain, with an
average elevation of about 500 feet above
high tide at Philadelphia. A ridge of
the South Mountains, with an elevation of
about 1.000 feet, enters the northwestern
corner of the county and terminates above
Dillsburg. A spur of these mountains ex-
tends across Fairview Township and down
along the Susquehanna. They were formerly
known as Priest's Hills, after David Priest,
an early settler; they now are called Halde-
man's Mountains or River Hills. Enclosed
within the different smaller ridges are the
fertile Redland and Fishing Creek Valleys,
composed of the new red sand-stone and red
shale formations. Round Top 1,110 feet
above sea level, and its quiet neighbor,
Knell's Hill, are isolated peaks of basalt or
trap formation, located in Warrington Town-
ship. The Conewago Hills, isolated ridges
of South Mountain, cross the county toward
York Haven. Above Wrights vi lie, as far as
to the mouth of Codorus Creek, extending


westwai-d to near the Harrisburg Pike, is a
woodland ridge of white sandstone, known as
Hellam Hills. Between this and Conewago
Hills there is a wide extent of red sand-stone.

Pidgeon Hills extend through the western
part of the county, to within eight miles of
York, and are of elliptical formation. The
southeastern portion of the county contains
slate ridges and hills, and extensive quarries
are worked in Peach Bottom Townshiij, yield-
ing roofing slate in the very best quality.
The Martie Ridge crosses the Susquehanna
from Lancaster County, on which ridge there
are many high bluffs along the river. There
are banks of calcareous rock south of York
and valuable quarries. This ridge extends
westward to Jefferson. The southern and
southwestern portion of the county is undu-
lating, containing here and there woodland

Conewago* Creek is a large stream, which,
with its branches,- Little Conewago, Bermu-
dian Creek, Beaver Creek and Stony Run,
etc., drains the northern part of the county.
Codorus Creek, with its two branches, flows
through the central part, past York. Muddy
Creek, with two large branches, drains the
southeastern section. These streams provide
a plentiful irrigation.

The surface of the • county furnishes a
variety of scenery— rugged and fair, moun-
tain and river, hill and plain, glen and dale,
purling and dashing streams. The climate
is changeable but salubrious. The people
who inhabit this fair land are well adapted !
to the cultivation of the means of enjoyment >
and prosperity so bounteously afforded" them. [

The county has the shape of an irregular
quadrangle. It borders on Marvland and lies
on the parallel of latitude, 89° 43' 26.3" (Ma-
son and Dixon's line), and extends northward
nearly to Harrisburg or about 15' above the
40th parallel, which crosses the county
through Emigsville. The county is crossed by
the meridian of Washington, and with refer-
ence to that, its extreme eastern and western
points are in longitude respectively 45' east
and 10' west. It extends along the Maryland
line about forty miles, bordering on the coun-
ties of Harford, Baltimore and Carroll. It
adjoins on the north and west the counties
of Cumberland and Adams, the latter of
which was formerly a part of it. It con-
tains an area of 921 square miles. The \
Susquehanna River flows for nearly fifty -five
miles along the eastern boundary, and the
extreme eastern point of its southern boun-
dary is about fifteen miles north of Havre De

*Conewago is an Indian name meaning "at the rapids
ivs into the Susquehanna at the foot of the rapids.

Grace, at the head of the Chesapeake Bay,
with which it is connected by means of the
Susquehanna and Tide Water Canals.


The accompanying tallies and specifications
of true altitudes above the ocean level of
many points in York County were gathered
from various sources, many from observations
with transit or barometer; some were gath-
ered from altitudes measured by practical
geologists of the two different State surveys,
and still others from the profiles of railroads.
The average elevation of York County above
the sea level is about 500 feet.

The highest point in the county is the
isolated peak called "Round Top," on ac-
count of its shape.' It is located in the
northern part of Warrington Township and
its elevation above tide water at Philadel-
phia, as taken by the barometer, is 1,110 feet.
Its base is four miles in circumference. The
geodetic and coast survey had a signal sta-
tion and an observatory on its summit during
the year 1884, and their observations accu-
rately taken and furnished uj^on application,
conform to the foregoing statement. The
exact latitude of this peak is 40° 6' 18"
longitude, 76° 55' 34" west of Greenwich,
azimuth, 248° 16' 27" back azimuth, 68° 34'
39.2." Stations under the same authority were
located, and observatories erected on " Pulpit
Rock." the summit of the Pidgeon Hills in
the western part of the county and near the
village of Winterstown.

The following is a table of elevations of
various points in the county above mean tide
at Philadelphia:

Round Top 1,110

Base of Round Top 605

Rossville 501

Mount Royal 547

Conewago Hills, highest point 800

Dover 431

Wellsville 489

Franklintown 580

Emig's Mills 550

Dillsburg 540

Lewisberry 601

York (Center Square) 385

Shunk's Hill 880

Longstown 637

Innersville 680

Loganville 734

Jefferson 600

Hanover Fountain Square 601

Maryland line south of Hanover 820

Dallastown . , 656

Bangor 500

Fawn Grove 810

Castle Fin 190

New Park 812

Bryansville 210




Baltimore 000

Parkton 420

New Freedom 827

Seitzland 611

Glen Rock .' 551

Hanover Junction 422

Smyser's 389

Glatfelter's 335

Tunnel 299

York, Junction with Fred'k. Div. Penn. R. R. 366

Emigsville 376

Mount Wolf 376

Summit, No. 2 466

Conewago Bridge 289

York Haven 291

Goldsboro' 304

Middletown Ferry 307

Jlarsh Run 307

New Cumberland 312

Bridgeport 355


Columbia 251

Wrightsville 257

Hellam 348

Hiestand's 427

York (depot) 366

Codorus Creek 357

Graybill's 426

Hairs 452

Spring Forge 455

Menges' Mill 455

Iron Bridge 496

Jacobs' MiU 504

Railroad Crossing, Hanover Junction and Get-
tysburg R.»R. Crosses at grade 607

Hanover 599

Conewago Bridge 546

Littlestown 619

Bridge 623

State Line 540

The levels on the line of the Frederick
Division Pennsylvania Railroad were copied
from a profile in the office at Philadelphia.
The datum is mean tide at Baltimore.



Lineboro 682

Valley Junction 741

Black Rock 790

Glen ville 701

Junction 544

Porter's 510

Hanover (depot) 590

Abbottstown : 457

East Berlin 273



Susquehanna River 85

Peach Bottom, grade 118

Bangor Summit 511

Delta 435

Bryansville 241

Woodbine 294

Bridgeton 304

Bi-uce 331

Muddy Creek Forks 366

HighRock 382

Laurel 411

Fenmore 434

Brogueville 478

, Felton : 536

Windsor 598

I Springvale 734

Red Lion 900

Dallastown 657

Ore Valley 570

Enterprise 531

Small's Mills 433

Spring Garden 431

York. 372


The elevations here given are estimated
above mean tide at


Havre De Grace

State Line 68

Peach Bottom (on canal) 101

Muddy Creek 121

Slate Tavern 130

McCall's Ferry 117

York Furnace 141

Shenk's Ferry 153

Lockport 163

North Bridgeville 187

Wrightsville (on canal) , 314

By a comparison of all the above tables it
will be observed that the elevation of nearly
all points in the southern part of the county
is higher than in the northern part.


THE expedition sent out by Sir Walter
Raleigh in 15N5 to the Carolinas gave
, to Europe the first information that iron ore
existed in America.

What is known to history as the London
Company, in the settlement of Virginia man-
ufactui'ed. during the year 1619, the first iron
in the limits of what is now the United
States. The early English colonists " set up
three iron works" on a branch of the James
River. These existed until 1622 when they
were destroyed by hostile Indians, and no
other attemjst to make iron in that colony,
I was attempted for one hundred years. A
i furnace was erected at Lynn, Mass. , in 1643,
j by a company with John Winthrop as pres-
ident, and in 1651 a forge was added to this,
the first furnace put in successful operation
in this country. The first vessel made in
Now England was a small iron pot, cast by
Joseph Jenks, at Lynn in 1644. In 1656,
the first iron works were established in Con-
necticut, at New Haven, by Capt. Thomas
Clarke. In 1675, a forge was erected at
Pawtucket, R. I., and was soon after de-
stroyed by the Indians. Henry Leonard,


of Lynn, Mass., about 1664 "set up" the
first forge in New Jersey. Iron was not made
in New York until 1734. The first iron
works in that State, of which there is any
record, were built in 1740, by Philip Liv-
ingstone, ancestor of the signer of the Decla-
ration of Independence, who died at York
while congress was in session here. In 1715,
the iron industry was revived in Virginia by
the erection of two furnaces at Fredricksburg.
Principio Forge, in Cecil County, Md., was
built about the same time.


Experiments were made in 1692 in a common
sraith's fire at Philadelphia to make iron, but
the industry was not established until 1716.
The Swedes and Dutch, who were its first
settlers, alternately holding almost entii'e
possession of its territory down to the grant-
ing of Penn's charter in 1681. so far as is
known, made no iron. In one of William
Penn's letters, written 1683, he states that his
province contains "mineral of copj)er and iron
in divers places. Gabriel Thomas, an intelli-
gent member of the Society of Friends, who
came over in the "Welcome," in 1698 pub-
lished in London a description of the prov-
ince of Pennsylvania in which he says, "there
is ironstone, or ore, lately found, which far
exceeds that in England, being richer and
less drossy." In 1716, two years before the
death of William Penn, Thomas Rutter
erected Pool forge and blomaiy, near Potts-
town, the first in the State. This forge was
attacked by Indians in 1728, but not de-
stroyed. Soon after this a number of forges
and furnaces were erected in eastern Penn-


Sir Wm. Keith became governor of the prov-
ince of Pennsylvania in 1717, and his admin-'
istration continued until 1726. He had iron
works in New Castle County, then in Pennsyl-
vania but now in Delaware, as early as 3730,
and turned a great deal of his attention to
developing the iron interests of the province.
In 1725 he wrote to the London Board of
Trade that he had "discovered great plenty
of ore in Pennsylvania." On April 4 and 5,
1722, Gov. Keith, accompanied by his sur-
veyor-general located for Keith's benefit, a
tract of land in the northern portion of York
County, with the belief that it contained large
deposits of "iron and copper ores and other
minerals." It is known to history as "Sir
William Keith's tract called Newberry" and
was the first surveyed tract of land west of

I the Susquehanna River, under Pennsylvania's
title, the survey being made nearly fourteen
years before the Indian treaty of 1736, which
extended the boundary of the province "west
to the setting sun." That the first tract of
land in York County should have been located

; for its mineral deposits, is a significant fact
of history. It was claimed at the time by
Philip Syng, a silversmith of Philadelphia,
that he had 200 acres of this land granted
him under the Maryland title, some months
before. Singularly, there never was any valu-

! able mineral obtained on this tract even

! though many other sections of York County

] have yielded an abundance of iron ore.

Previous to 1N38, charcoal made from
chestnut wood or coke was invariably used in
smelting or blooming the ore, and in the

' manufacture of wrought iron. The process

' of manufacturing wrought iron, at first, was
to burn the ore and then pulverize it, then it
was placed in an open fire, about eighteen
inches square by fifteen inches deep, formed
of stone, having a tuyere five inches below
the top, one inch in diameter, supplied by
blast from tubs, and water-wheel to drive the
tubs, making a half pound to the inch. Work
commenced by filling the open fire with char-
coal; the blast was applied to the tuyere, and
pulverized ore put in from above with a
shovel; as it melted, the iron ran down be
low the blast, the cinder being drawn off. and
when the space below the blast was filled up
to the tuyere, being in a solid mass, it was
raised out by a bar 100 pounds in weight,
and taken to a hammer weighing about 500
pounds, driven by a water-wheel at the rate

i of rom 50 to 200 strokes per minute. The
chunk was then hammered into a bloom; then

! one end was heated in the same fire to a
welding heat and drawn into what was called
an anchony, when some twenty or thirty of
these were made. Workmen then enlarged
the fire to twenty inches square and twenty

' inches deep, and heated the bloom or large
end and drew it out under the hammer into
bars of various lengths from five to ten feet
long, and various widths and thicknesses,
ready for market. When the furnaces were
under way and pig metal was being made,

j old fashioned Dutch fires were used to work
the pig metal into anchonies, and draw it
out into bars. This was the work of the

There were several charcoal furnaces and
forges in York County which manufactured

i iron, as has just been described, or on a

j very similar plan. A description of each
one of these follows in chronological order.

I They have all long since ceased to exist.




As early as 1756 an enterprising iron man -
nfacturer, from Delaware County, Penn.,
named Peter Dicks, came to York County,
and according to a description of Acrelius, a
Swedish clergyman and historian, about that
time "Dicks found a valuable mine of iron,
^ near which he erected a bloomary, and im-
^ mediately began the manufacture of iron, i
r^ The ore he found must have been the rich
vein along the Pidgeon Hills. He was the
^~^ first person to engage in the iron business
^ within the present limits of York County, and

^;^ here made the first iron west of the Susque-
hanna River. This is an intensely interest-
ing and valuable fact of history. The breast
of the present paper-mill dam is largely com-
posed of cinders which yet contain consider-
able iron in them. This is faithful evidence
that a bloomarj' once existed at this place,
even though there is now no tradition of it
among the oldest citizens of the neighbor-
hood. There are no records to show how
successful he was with his enterprise. The
bloomary was discontinued and a forge was
erected in the year 1770. which was given
the familiar name of "Spring Forge." There '
were two forge fires and two hammers. The
greatest amount of bar iron made in any one
year at this forge was 223 tons. It was made
in many forms and varieties, for the use of
blacksmiths and other mechanics. About the
time of the beginning of the Eevolution.
1775, the property was purchased by Daniel
Shireman. It then contained the forge and
1,000 acres of land. It was purchased by
John Brien. Esq.. of Philadelphia, in the year
1800, and then contained a forge, ISO acres of
cleared land, and 700 acres of woodland, all
of which were then valued at £2, 100 in
Pennsylvania money.

Hon. David Eaton, of Philadelphia, be-
came the owner of forge jsroperty, and 980
acres of woodland in 1807. and sold ittoPiob-
ert Coleman in 1815 for $9,000. From the year
181 1 to 1850, it was owned by his son,
Thomas Burd Coleman, who, during which time
in connection with his brother, did a large
business. When he became the owner, in addi-
tion to the forge property, there were 1.093
acres of woodland on Pidgeon Hills belong-
ing. The entire valuation was $11,000.
During the year 1832, it was assessed $32.-

In 1849 there were 190 tons of bar iron
made, forty workmen were employed, and
twenty-five horses and oxen were used. The

Online LibraryJohn GibsonHistory of York County Pennsylvania From the Earliest Time to the Present → online text (page 99 of 218)