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…bringing our past into the future

Introduction To This Edition


Aug 25, 2008


YORK COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA, established by Legislative procedure on August 19, 1749, from part of Lancaster county, marks the birthday of a great political and civil division in Pennsylvania. This county was the scene of many early conflicts with nature; yet its subsequent triumph and final emergence among the uppermost of all counties in importance to any and all worth-whole achievements, is now a matter of history. Handicapped with poor soil, unwelcome guests, land titles hard to acquire, and many other incidents quite disturbing to a struggling pioneer people, we now see how they cheerfully made the best of their many, many problems.

The present day populace of York county is very much the same type of honest, steady-going, industrious, home-loving, thrifty, intelligent, religious and genuinely patriotic people as those who commenced its first and continued settlements just two hundred years ago (1729).

Dividing the county into smaller divisions, one notes the generous distribution of German, English and Irish towns and townships. This admixture and commingling of the races just mentioned has made York county signally fortunate and rich in her industry, wealth and history. To write a complete history of the past two hundred years of York county would require the life-time efforts of several scholars, to say the least; not to mention the Costs in dollars and cents. So an enlarged history is not our subject at all.

Only too true is it, that every single day, every week, month, year, etc., is making new history. Newspapers, doctors, lawyers, ministers, teachers, businessmen and farmers are the mediums through which the process operates. It is only too true that America, of all important nations in the world, can say with a degree of accuracy that she knows most of her history from the beginning. It is good for us that our active history – American history – does not go back too far. Much that we would like to know of America’s early years, however, is buried with the past, and there are but few living today who can read the “signs” which the passing decades are more and more successfully obliterating.

To most persons historically inclined, the 1700’s are the years wherein history was made – and of these years we love to read about. So many wars, and other privations were borne by the pioneers in the New Land that all of the 18th Century may be said to have been the “nebular” years, or period when the pioneers were to adjust and adapt themselves to soil, new associations, mode of living and environment generally. Out of those years of struggling for existence have come the men most famous in America’s early history.

It was but natural that the continued healthy growth of the New Nation would induce the publishing of innumerable books and pamphlets dealing with every sort of subject conceivable, running the gamut of the alphabet. Historical treatises, quite extensive, were plentiful even before the close of the 1700’s. These were, however, usually general in their scope, and included such as Proud’s History of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, 1797, (2 vols.); Franklin’s Historical Review of the Constitution,, and Government of Pennsylvania, published in London, 1759; various titles by William Penn on the New Province; Loskiel’s History of the Indians of North America London, 1794; Smith’s History of Pennsylvania, etc., and other titles, quite numerous,

The 1800’s, following closely after the adoption of a permanent Constitution for the government of the United States, saw a great deal of activity in the New World, and the publishing of books, magazines, newspapers and tracts was on in earnest. Many missionaries and travelers had gone up and drawn through the land and their records and diaries commenced to appear as if by magic. Choice lands, tendered patriotic leaders and officers of the Revolution, now made more safe for the whites, were taken up quite rapidly. Industry flourished; frontier towns not long since, were becoming more or less aged, and settled; canals were built; roads rebuilt and others laid out.

About a hundred years after the first settler had come in to what is now York county, and canals were now proving their value as a means of transportation, the proponents of the steam railroad had triumphed – the steam engine for railroad purposes had proven a success. (In after years the city of York had a large part in the development of the locomotive). Simultaneously with the first demonstration of the value of the railroad, there appeared in Philadelphia, one of the most interesting and valuable periodicals published during the second and third decades of the last century – Samuel Hazard’s Weekly Register of Pennsylvania. Containing as it did, information of almost every sort from over the entire State, it is outstanding to this day, as a source periodical for the student. It must have been a source of inspiration to many readers of a century ago, and at this day and age, from a rather professional point of view, it appears to have been a “work of love,” for it was rather short-lived, having been issued from 1828 to 1836, when it passed away from a lack of nourishment.

This is a mere pencil point picture of general conditions as they were up to the time of the close of the first hundred years of the history of York, looking toward the time when Mr. W. C. Carter, a student of history, made a number of notes gathered in various parts of the county, and which were, after his death, the basis for publishing the first county history of any county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Mr. Carter may or may not have had an inspiration from such periodicals as Hazard’s Registar, or his interests may have been developed locally and naturally. Left, as they were, in a skeleton form on Mr. Carter’s death, Mr. A. J. Glossbrenner, a comparative newcomer in York at that time (1831-34), acquired these “notes” and expanded and enlarged on them until they all came into print and subsequently became the History of York County.

As an initial venture let it be said here to the credit of these early writers, that those who followed in their footsteps in writing local York county history, have had nothing but praise for the interesting, concise, accurate, admirable and scholarly accounts. George R. Prowell, the eminent historian of York county, in Gibson and Prowell’s History of York County, (1886) says: “The History of York County (1834) contains facts Concerning the early history of the press of York county. It was evidently prepared with great care, and, like other parts of the same work, has much valuable information, which, if the book had not been published, would now be lost to history.”

The Carter and Glossbrenner History is credited as being “quite good,” etc., by any number of others who have had Occasion to use it for reference and source purposes.

In setting the type for this edition, the first complete reprint, coming, as it does, ninety-six years after the original edition, the undersigned was greatly surprised to note the uniform regularity of its general make-up, and the almost total absence of errors in the spelling of proper names, as well as those we commonly term “typographical errors.” A few notable minor exceptions arc that some words are divided in the original edition, different from the accepted way of today. Some few transpositions may be noted in the original edition, which would not necessarily be noticeable to the average student, and in this reprint we have followed closely, word for word, tie entire text of the original edition.

In less than half a dozen instances have we added brackets [] where clarification was desired, Short “and” (&) was used where it appears in the original, which sometimes, it appears to us, was used by the original compositor to save time in filling out a line, rather than that the “&” was “style” and “proper.”

While the names of attorneys, and the various State and county officers, etc., appeared in quite large type in the original edition, we deemed it a desirable and justifiable departure from the old arrangement to place these names in smaller type and in two columns to a page, instead of one column. This enables us to produce a more attractive page, and robs no one, at this time, of any “publicity” In the furtherance of our plan to produce a creditable reprint of this pioneer County history, we have employed the use of an old style type, which, we believe you will agree, lends much toward its attractiveness,

The frontispiece of the original edition is herewith reproduced, exactly as it was known to the residents of York in the early 1800’s. It was engraved as the artist knew it best, which (since it was engraved in 1833-34) included several notable changes that had been made after Congress held its sessions therein in 1777-78. When Congress met in York the court house had gables at two ends only, none appearing at the front of the structure, such as that part containing the “rainbow” window; nor was all the superstructure, or cupola as depicted in our edition, on the building when Congress met therein – half of it being added some years after Congress returned to Philadelphia. Reference to these facts are made at this time because of some confusion that arises when persons inadvertently are led to believe that Congress met in the court house as pictured in the original edition of 1834, and now again reproduced. Congress met in this building, without question, but some years after that the building was remodeled, probably twice, or so, as we now show. An artist’s reconstruction of the original court house, with floor plans, etc., complete in every detail, has been made within the past five years, based on old documents in York and Lancaster, the previous county seat. These reconstructed views have recently appeared in the York directory, and several other reports issued at celebrations in that city.

Springettsbury Manor is sometimes spelled with one and sometimes with two. The Penn for whom the Manor was named was known as “Springett” Penn, and the 1834 history spells it “Springettsbury.” We have followed that spelling in this reprint. This spelling is at variance with that of the Surveyor, Jno. Lukens, who resurveyed the Manor “In pursuance of a warrant of resurvey under the hand of James Hamilton Esqr” etc., “dated 21st day of May 1762.” The re-survey was “returned into the Secretary’s office,” as of “12th day of July Anno Dom: 1768.” The original return of this resurvey, which may be seen on file at Harrisburg, bears but one “t.” A copy of this resurvey is included in Vol. IV, Third Series, Pennsylvania Archives, part 63. It is therefore fairly safe to assume that the ancient spelling would be “Springetsbury.”

Another of the Proprietary Manors laid out by William Penn, was that sometimes spelled “Springgetsbury Manor,” of 1840 acres; granted in 1703, at Philadelphia.

Volume III, Colonial Records, pages 184-5, we read under “Copy of Warrant for Surveying the ‘Mannor of Springetsbury’,” (1722) the return of Messrs. “Cob. John French, Francis ‘Worley, & James Mitchell, Esqrs.,” that they completed the survey of the “Mannor of Springets-Bury, upon the River Sasquahannah,” etc.

Ancient spellings are bound to vary from generation to generation, and while these variations ought to be guarded against, they cannot well be avoided or ignored, since they are ever-present, In other words, the crossing of a “t,” or dotting of an “i,” are not nearly so important as getting at the meat of the nuts! Facts should not be set aside because of mere fancy!

The reader will note in the present edition the reproduction of an early map of the county of York, which then also included what is now Adams county. This map is copied from one made for the Proprietaries, by William Scull, in 1770. The map appears as it has come to the undersigned, and there can be no doubt but that its reproduction in this edition will be appreciated by many who have never seen its counterpart before. It details many roads, towns and ferries, which may or may not be exactly as the historians of today think they ought to be. So far as we can learn, it has been a faithful reproduction of the county and surrounding Counties, as nearly so as the cartographer knew how to make it,

York county is rich in historical material – much of it lying dormant. Almost without exception, those who have published any histories about the county have always referred to its first history. Thus we note such as Prof. I. D. Rupp, Sherman Day, John Gibson, George R. Prowell, etc.

John Gibson, in his “Introductory” to the History of York County, (1886) has this to say regarding the edition of 1834:

“A complete history to its time, was Written by Glossbrenner and Carter – a work well known to the citizens of the borough of York, but copies of which are now scarce (1886).


The great amount of information contained in it, the accuracy of its details of facts, and the pleasing style of its composition, as well as the curious nature of its contents, have made it a literary production.” Gibson further states: “The work, therefore, ought to be perpetuated for the benefit of our people.”

The preceding statement was made in 1886, by one of York county stock, who was prompted by the most sincere regards and motives, and forty-four years have elapsed since his petition was made, and which, with the publication of this edition, is now come to fruition.

History, being the true account of the lives and accomplishments of a people over a period of years, such as have passed since the first settlement of York county, ought not be left unlearned and unloved. The heritage of a people is that which our forebears have made and left at their going. Without any mental reservation or evasion whatever, it seems but right and proper that there is not a single thing in the world that ought to interest the people of York county more than * * the people of York county!

If the achievements of those of the pioneer days are not worthy of mention and study at this day and age, of how much less value and appreciation will our labors appear to those of a not-far-off-tomorrow?

The men in the shops, in the fields, in the offices; the professional men and the tots in school ought to and must be made more fully acquainted with their coming into the community through a generous and right-thinking ancestry; and there is no more profitable, agreeable and consistent way in which this education of the people can be accomplished, than through an applied study and reading of just such books as local history, in all the schools and homes of the county.

It is because of a firm belief that York county’s traditions have always been of an ideal nature, and that Messrs. Carter and Glossbrenner have given to them a type of book second to none for the home, school and office, that this edition of a very scarce book, is again made available to all.


HARRISBURG, PA., May 1930.

Source:  Page(s) vii-xiii  , History of York County From its Erection to the Present Time; [1729-1834]; New Edition; With Additions, Edited by A. Monroe Aujrand, Jr.

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