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New book traces a York County family’s and friends’ letters to a Civil War soldier


York County historian and author Ronald L. Hershner has for many years been a prominent supporter of this region’s history, having served on various boards and committees and well as actively promoting history and encouraging others to do the same.

He became aware of a series of letters written to a soldier by his family members and various friends, letters which have been handed down for generations to descendants.

The new book is a product of the York County Heritage Trust and promises to be a welcome addition to the historiography of this area.

From the promotional flyer provided by YCHT…

Letters from Home offers a rare personal insight into the Civil War homefront through 23 letters written to Harvey Anderson from 1863 to 1865. Anderson spent his final years with his daughter, Margaret Anderson Wiley. Following his death, this collectionof letters, that had been stored in an old square candy box, remained with his daughter Margaret and eventually was passed on to his granddaughter, Burneta Wiley Anderson.


It was during a visit to Burneta’s home in Lancaster that author Ron Hershner first saw this unique collection of letters. Hershner, her great nephew, opened the candy box and expected to read stories of great battles and soldiering. Instead he found no letters from Harvey, but only those to him. Harvey’s cousin Aggie Anderson shared with him some of the York County news from August 31, 1864. “…they are going to lay a tax on the People for the purpose of getting volunteers you had better believe Coz if it don’t make some of the Copperheads cross they say that the South is going to whip and it is no use to send any more men to the army if I thought such was the case I would go myself rather than the South should gain there Independence…”

“It is a story of a family coping with the distance that divided them from each other,” Hershner writes. “And it is a view into the ardently held and fiercely advocated opinions about the war that divided the southern York County community.” Harvey Anderson’s boyhood home served as a wartime microcosm of what transpired in countless northern communities.

The York County Heritage Trust will host author Ron Hershner on Wednesday, June 19th for the launch of Letters From Home, his new book, now on sale for $19.99 at the Trust’s Museum Book Shop. Hershner will make brief remarks about the book and the letters that inspired it, and will sign copies as well. The presentation will take place at 7 p.m. at the Meeting Hall of the Historical Society Museum at 250 E. Market St. Ronald L. Hershner, a native of York County, grew up on his family’s farm in East Hopewell Township. He is a graduate of Kennard Dale High School, Dickinson College, from which he graduated magna cum laude with Honors in History, and Dickinson School of Law, from which he earned both a J.D. degree and an LLM in Taxation.

Hershner is Managing Partner of the law firm Stock and Leader, LLP. He maintains offices in York and Stewartstown. He is active in a number of charitable and civic organizations. He has served as Chair of the Board of Directors of The York County Heritage Trust and has completed terms as President of the York County Estate Planning Council, President of the York County Chamber Economics Club, and President of the Red Lion Area Historical Society. He presently serves as a Director of the York County Community Foundation, a member of the Professional Advisors Committee for York College and serves on the Council of Advisors of the J. D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. Hershner recently served as an Elder at First Presbyterian Church of York and as a Director of York Health Foundation and The Rotary Club of York.
Hershner has authored several books and articles on local history including his honors thesis The Fertile Barrens: Land and Property in Eighteenth Century York County; Cross Roads, a History and Reminiscences; and Round Hill Presbyterian Church: 250 Years of Faith. He regularly speaks to civic groups on topics of local history.