Kreutz Creek, &c.
THE first settlements in this county were made on Kreutz creek * and in the neighborhood where Hanover now stands. Before the erection of the county of Lancaster in 1729, a number of persons resided on tracts of land lying on the west side of the Susquehanna, within the bounds of what is now York County. These persons, however, remained but a short time on the lands they occupied - were not allowed time to warm in the nests on which they had squatted - and may not be looked upon as the progenitors of the present possessors of the soil of York county. They were known only as "Maryland intruders," and were removed in the latter end of the year 1728, by order of the deputy governor and council, at the request of the Indians, and in conformity with their existing treaties.
In the spring of 1729, John and James Hendricks, under the authority of government, made the first authorized settlements in what is now called York county. They occupied the ground from which some families of squatters had been removed, somewhere about the bank of Kreutz creek. They were soon followed by other families, who settled at a distance of about ten or twelve miles west and south west of them.
Sometime in the year 1732, Thomas Cressap came from Maryland, and forcibly seized and settled on the lands from which the before-mentioned squatters had been removed. With him originated the violent measures, sometimes issuing in murdering affrays', which attended the disputes between the proprietaries of Pennsylvania and Maryland, respecting the proper boundary of the two provinces. On the 24th of November 1736, this restless and quarrelsome individual was apprehended by the Sheriff of Lancaster county, and committed to prison on the warrant of the two provincial judges. - Thereupon the President of the province called the council and assembly, who detailed the facts connected with the outrage committed, and referred the matters, in a memorial to the King; which led ultimately to an amicable adjustment of the disputes Concerning the boundary. At that period, it is believed, there were between three and four hundred inhabitants within the present limits of this county.
The earliest settlers were English - these were, however, soon succeeded by vast numbers of German emigrants. It is a remarkable fact, that, when the first settlements were made in this county, the great portion of the lands in the eastern and southeastern part of it were destitute of large timber - in sections where now the finest forests of large timber stand, miles might have been traversed without the discovery of any vegetable production of greater magnitude than scrub-oak; and in many places even that diminutive representative of the mighty monarch of the forest was not to be found. This nakedness of the country was generally, and we have no doubt, correctly, attributed to a custom which prevailed among the aboriginal owners of the soil, of annually or biennially destroying by fire all vegetation in particular Sections of country for the purpose of increasing the facilities of hunting.
Most of the German Emigrants settled in the neighborhood of Kreutz-Creek, while the English located themselves in the neighborhood of the Pigeon Hills. In the whole of what was called the "Kreutz Creek Settlement," (if we except Wrightsville,) there was but one English family, that of William Morgan.
The early inhabitants of the Kreutz creek region were clothed for some years, altogether in tow cloth, as wool was an article not to be obtained. Their dress was simple, consisting of a shirt, trowsers, and a frock. During the heat of summer, a shirt and trowsers of tow formed the only raiment of the inhabitants. In the fall, the tow frock was superadded. When the cold of winter was before the door, and Boreas came rushing from the north, the dress was adapted to the season by increasing the number of frocks, so that in the coldest part of the winter some of the sturdy settlers were wrapt in four, five and even more frocks, which were bound closely about their loins, usually with a string of the same material as the garments.
But man ever progresses; and when sheep were introduced, a mixture of tow and wool was considered an article of luxury. But tow was shortly afterward succeeded by cotton, and then linsey woolsey was a piece of wildest extravagance. If these simple, plain and honest worthies could look down upon their descendants of the present day, they would wonder and weep at the changes of men and things. If a party of them could be spectators at a ball of these times, in the borough of York, and see silks and crapes, and jewels, and gold, in lieu of tow frocks and linsey woolsey finery, they would scarcely recognize their descendants in the costly and splendid dresses before them; but would no doubt be ready to imagine that the nobles and princes of the earth were assembled at a royal bridal, But these honest progenitors of ours have passed away, and have left many of us, we fear, nothing but the names they bore, to mark us their descendants.
But all of good did not die with them. If they would find cause of regret at our departure from their simplicity and frugality, they would find much to admire in the improved aspect of the country - the rapid march of improvement in the soil of their adoption. Where they left unoccupied land, they would find valuable plantations, and thriving villages, and temples dedicated to the worship of the God of christians.
Where they left a field covered with brush wood, they would find a flourishing and populous town. The Codorus, whose power was scantily used to propel a few inconsiderable mills they would see with its banks lined with large and valuable grist mills, saw mills and fulling mills - they would find the power of its water used in the manufactory of paper and wire - and they would find immense arks of lumber and coal floating on its bosom from the Susquehanna to the very doors of the citizens of a town whose existence commenced after their departure from toil and from the earth.
But, to return to the situation of the early settlers - For some time after these early settlements were made there was neither a shoemaker nor tanner in any part of what is now York county. A supply of shoes for family use was annually obtained from Philadelphia; itinerant cobblers, traveling from one farm house to another, earned a livelihood by mending shoes. These cobblers carried with them such a quantity of leather, as they thought would be wanted in the district of their temporary visit. The first settled and established shoemaker in the county, was Samuel Landys, who had his shop some where on Kreutz creek. The first, and for a long time the only tailor, was Valentine Heyer, who made clothes for men and women, The first blacksmith was Peter Gardner. The first schoolmaster was known by no other name than that of "Der Dicke Schulmeister."
The first dwelling houses of the earliest settlers were of wood; and for some years no other material was used in the construction. But about the year 1735, John and Martin Shultz each built a stone dwelling house on Kreutz creek and in a few years the example was numerously followed.
Of the settlements in the neighborhood of the Pigeon Hills, we shall speak more particularly when we come to that part of our history embracing the borough of Hanover.
SETTLEMENT OF "THE BARRENS"
For several years after the settlements were made in the neighborhood of the Pigeon Hills and on Kreutz creek, the inhabitants of those regions were the only whites in the county. But about the years 1734, 1735 and 1736, a number of families from Ireland and Scotland settled in the southeastern part of the county, in what is now known as the "York Barrens." These families consisted principally of the better order of peasantry - were a sober, industrious moral and intelligent people-and were for the most part rigid presbyterians. Their manners partook of that simplicity, kindness and hospitality which is so characteristic of the class to which they belonged in their native countries.
The descendants of these people still retain the laid~ which their respectable progenitors chose upon their arrival in York county. And we arehappy to add, that the present inhabitants of the inappropriately named "Barrens" inherited, with the lands of their forefathers, the sobriety, industry, intelligence, morality and hospitable kindness of their predecessors.
The townships comprised in the "Barrens," are Chanceford, Fawn, Peachbottom, Hopewell and part of Windsor, and from the improvements which have of late years, been made in the agriculture of these townships, the soil is beginning to present an appearance which is entirely at variance with the idea a stranger would be induced to form of a section of country bearing the unpromising name of "Barrens."
Before the commencement of the improvements in farming recently introduced, the mode of tilling which generally prevailed was ruinous. Having abundance of woodland, the practice was to clear a field every season. Wheat was uniformly the first crop, of which the yield was from 18 to 20 bushels per acre. The second crop was rye, then corn, then oats. After going through this course, it was left for a year or two, and then the course began again; this was continued until the soil would produce nothing. But most of the farmers have, as we have said, much ameliorated the condition of their lands, by the adoption of a better system of culture.
Having introduced the first settlers of the "Barrens," we shall defer further remark upon this Section of country - while we return to "olden time," and look after the early settlers of other parts of the county. We have now settled the eastern, south-eastern and south-western part of the county, and leave the settlers "hard at it," while we take a view of the north and north-west.
SETTLEMENT OF NEWBERRY AND THE ADJOINING TOWNSHIPS.
About the same time that the "Barrens" were settled by Irish and Scottish emigrants, Newberry township and the circumjacent region was settled by a number of families from Chester county, who, under the auspicious influence of that spirit of peace and amity which had been spread abroad, by the wise and excellent proprietary of Pennsylvania, sat themselves down here and there in a few rudely constructed cabins, surrounded on all sides by the still more rude wigwanis of their aboriginal neighbors. Thomas Hall, John McFesson, Joseph Bennet, John Rankin and Ellis Lewis were the first persons to visit this section of the country; and having selected the valley in which the borough of Lcwisberry is situated, they gave it the name of the "Red Lands," from the color of the soil and "red rock" on which it is based. By this name it was principally known to them and their eastern friends for many years. It was by a descendant of Ellis Lewis that Lewisberry was laid out - and it is from Joseph Bennet that the main stream which winds its devious way through the valley derives its name of "Bennet's Run."
An anecdote is related of Bennet, Rankin and Lewis, connected with their first visit to the "Redlands." Having arrived at the eastern bank of the Susquehanna river, and there being no other kind of craft than canoes to cross in, they fastened two together, and placing their horses with their hinder feet in one and their fore feet in the other thus paddled to the shore, at the eminent peril of their lives!
This section of the country, naturally productive, had suffered a material deterioration of quality, and was indeed almost "worn out," by a hard system of tillage, when the introduction of clover and plaster in the year 1800, established a new era in the husbandry of the neighborhood, and gradually produced a considerable melioration of the soil. At present the spirit of "liming" is gaining ground rapidly in New-berry and the adjoining townships, and promises very fairly to effect a material increase of productiveness.
There is also a great change of system in the husbandry of this section which is doing much for the land. Formerly the farmer depended mainly upon keeping a large stock, and enriching his land by the manure which he would thus be enabled to make, at the expense of all the hay and grass on the farm. At present he keeps a comparatively small stock, except where there are extensive meadows, and depends more upon ploughing a clover lay and liming. It is to be remarked also that his quantity of manure is not lessened by this curtailment of the stock of his farm; but with care may in fact thus be increased, and his land greatly benefitted. For instead of putting all his hay and straw into them, he turns some under with the plough, leaves some to shade the ground, and saves a goodly portion to put under them.
We have now fairly settled those parts of the county which were first to be inhabited by whites. Those parts of which we have made no mention in noticing the early settlements, were not in fact taken up by emigrants to York county; but became populated from the stock which we have introduced to our readers, in the course of time the Kreutz creek settlement increased in population, and gave inhabitants to a large tract of country surrounding it, including parts of Hellam, Springgarden, York and Shrewsbury townships. The few early settlers of the region in which Hanover stands gave population to several townships in that quarter of the county. The number of families in the "Redlands" and thereabout was for some time annually augmented by fresh emigrants from Chester county - the small portion of territory at first chosen become too small for the increased population, and the whole northern division of the county, comprising Newberry, Fairview, Monahan, Warrington, Franklin and Washington townships, were partially settled as early as 1740-50.
A considerable portion of the inhabitants of the townships we have just named, are members of the society of friends. There are also methodists, lutherans, and reformed presbyterians,
* Note - Some persons say that the proper name of this creek is Kreis' creek from an early settler near its mouth, whose name was George Kreis. But others, with greater appearance of truth, say that the common name Is the correct one. It is called Kreutz creek, not from a man of the same name as some assert; but on account of the union of two streams, and thereby the formation of what the Germans call a "Kreutz," (i.e. a "cross".) In the return of a survey made in 1722, it is called the "White oak branch." It had however, no certain name until about the year 1736, when numerous German settlements were made on its banks.
** In order to counteract the Maryland encroachments, It was the policy of the proprietory agents, to invite and encourage settlements on the borders. Such settlements were made within the manor of Springettsbury. There was a contract that titles should be made to the settlers whenever the lands should be purchased of the Indians. Certificates or licences were accordingly issued, promising patents upon the usual terms for which other lands in the county were sold. A commission was issued to Samuel Bluntson on the 11th of January 1738-4, to grant licenees to settle and take up land on the west side of the Susquehanna. The first license issued by Bluntson is dated on 24th January 1732-4 and the last on 31st October 1737. All of the numerous licences prior to the 11th of October 1736 were for lands out of the Indian purchases; yet these grants, though at first rather irregular, were of right to be confirmed by the proprietors as soon as the lands were purchased of the Natives. The early settlement In York county commenced In quarrels, and the effects of those quarrels have descended unto our days.
Source: Page(s) 10-16, History of York County From its Erection to the Present Time; [1729-1834]; New Edition; With Additions, Edited by A. Monroe Aujrand, Jr.