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150 years ago this month in York County, Pa. – Part 1

As part 1 of my series on York County, PA during the month of November, 1863, when Abraham Lincoln came here as he traveled to and from Gettysburg to deliver the Gettysburg Address, I offer this reposting of a blog entry from March 2012. The question still lingers as to whether or not the president posed for a photo or two at Hanover Junction on his way to Gettysburg.

During the mid-19th century, Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania, was a widely used railroad interchange where the east-west railroad to Gettysburg met the north-south railroad which ran between Baltimore and Harrisburg (and points north). During the Gettysburg Campaign, thousands of wounded soldiers passed through there on their way to various military hospitals. In mid-November 1863, trainloads of travelers made their way through the junction on their way to and from the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg.

This three-story brick hotel building contained a barroom, full service restaurant, small general store, and a few nicely appointed upstairs guestrooms.

Matthew Brady (or one of his assistants) stopped at Hanover Junction on November 18 to photograph the people awaiting President Lincoln’s train. Citizens and a soldier stand on the somewhat sagging balcony of the Junction Hotel.

Here’s more on the old hotel, which still stands today near the restored Hanover Junction depot building.

I blew up the above photograph a bit to focus on the folks standing on the balcony. None of their identities are known, but one young lady stands out. She has a broad smile, a rarity for photographic subjects in that day (they had to sit or stand still for long periods while the photographic emulsion-coated plate glass was being exposed).

This extreme blowup of the smiling girl first appeared in 2009 on the website Shorpy. One wonders who she was — perhaps a York Countian involved with the running of the hotel? Barmaid Amanda Gladfelter was 16 years old at the time; could this perky young woman possibly be her?

Her 12-year-old brother Harry recorded visiting her back in June when Rebel cavalry sacked Hanover Junction and guzzled whiskey in the hotel. Some accounts suggest barkeeper John Scott ran the hotel; it would later go by the name John Scott Hotel. As the above photos show, in 1863 the name painted on the bricks was still the Junction Hotel.

Research by Codorus Valley historian Ray Kinard has indicated that John Scott did not purchase the hotel until a later date.

The Junction Hotel still stands, and is seen here in this winter 2009 photograph. The balcony is long gone, as are the train tracks which one led to Hanover. The tracks to York and Baltimore still exist.

On a side point, some observers believe that other photos in Brady’s series of shots at Hanover Junction shows Abraham Lincoln himself, although other historians claim the individual is Hanover Branch Railroad president Abdiel W. Eichelberger.

For more Matthew Brady photographs of Hanover Junction in November 1863, click here.