Ask Joan: Reader questions from the Dover area
Hello everyone! Today I have two reader questions to share from the Dover area.
This is actually part of an effort I’m making to un-bury myself from a rather stunning number of Ask Joan emails, and I’m hoping to take care of those in the coming month or so and then turn my attention to some of the many great handwritten letters I also receive. I could write an Ask Joan daily for a year and not get to everyone, so if I have not yet replied or shared your question, please know I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m trying to mix up my themes so that we can hit on a lot of different time periods, parts of the county and topics!
1. Seeking info on small cemetery
2. Does anyone remember bazooka explosion?
The first question I have to share today came to me by way of former teacher and lifelong friend Cindy Snyder, who has also long been involved with the Greater Dover Historical Society.
Cindy heard from a man named Walter Durgan, a member of New Creation Community Church, who wanted to know where he might find information on a small cemetery that is on East Canal Road in the area between East Canal, Fairview Avenue and Dover Elementary School?
New Creation is now located on Emig Mill Road, near Leib Elementary, but the church was previously located in Dover Borough at 67 N. Main St. (now the York Rescue Mission) until moving 1989. It so happens that my mother is a member and Stephen Ministry leader at New Creation, and through her I’ve been able to find out a little more about the church and its history in the borough of Dover, where this small cemetery plot is.
Cindy mentioned that Walter and some of the people from New Creation are trying to restore the cemetery and place markers where stones have been removed. Cindy noted that Walter had gotten some information from the York County History Center and the internet, but if anyone knows more about this small cemetery, I certainly would also be interested in could pass it along!
(Also, thanks to some great work by the aforementioned Greater Dover Historical Society, you can read a good deal about the history of New Creation, formerly Otterbein, online at gdhspa.org.
My next Dover-area memory is… a little unusual, and very sad. This came some time ago from reader Dave Flinchbaugh, who said that in the 1950s, his family lived in the Hershey Heights area close to Dover and Weigelstown, and he recalled a really unusual incident there that happened in 1957.
Dave writes, “Going from the main road (I think the Dover Road back to Hershey Heights) there was a nice farm owned by the Weaver family. We all used to play there as kids, and the Weavers were a large family as I can remember. I was about
six or maybe seven then. I have since moved away so some of the places are a little vague to me now.”
He continues, “I had a friend Glen Showalter and a few twin boys and a few of the Weaver boys used to walk through the meadows and get chased by the cows sometimes. It was a lot of fun growing up back there. One thing we played with and had no idea what it really was – was a neat item that looked like a cannon to us as kids. One of the Weaver boys – then
much older than any of us – was in the National Guard. He had picked up something he thought was inert and left it at his home in Hershey Heights. We played with it all the time.”
Then, Dave said, “One Saturday in the summer neither Glen or I were at the Weaver farm (a big stone farmhouse and big porch in front). The twins and a few Weaver boys were hauling what now we know was a bazooka shell in the wagon around the
farmhouse and finally decided to haul it up in a tree out front. As they were all standing there trying to get this bazooka shell into the tree it dropped! Well, it blew the tree out of the ground, the grandfather out of his rocking chair on the porch, and you can imagine what it did to the boys playing with this device.”
“So,” Dave said, “My question after all of this – does anyone remember any of this? My mother made us move right after this – I mean right away we moved to York. I have never heard a report of this or any details – was there a newspaper article about it? I’m sure but never knew about it as I was very young and my parents were so disturbed and never talked about it… I may add all the children at this site were killed instantly! So this may be disturbing to some families out there.”
I had not been familiar with this, but I then did find a news syndicate article published, among other places, in The Kane Republican of Kane, Pennsylvania, and The Evening Times of Sayre, Pennsyvania, both on Monday, August 12, 1957, as follows:
BAZOOKA SHELL KILLS FOUR STATE BOYS
DOVER, Pa. – Two separate investigations today were underway in the wake of the explosion of a “dud” bazooka shell which killed four boys – two sets of brothers – here Saturday. Three of the boys, Lynwood D. Baker, 10, Steven G. Baker, 8, and Joseph Weaver, 10, died instantly. Gary Weaver, 14, died three hours after the explosion in a York hospital. Jonas Jacobs, 76, grandfather of the Weaver brothers, was injured by flying shell fragments but his condition was listed as satisfactory. An on-the-spot investigation is being conducted by state police. A second inquiry reportedly is under way at Fort Bragg, N.C., where the Weaver children are said to have picked up a number of “dud” shells from a firing range while visiting an older brother stationed there with U.S. Airborne forces. State police deactivated four other “duds,” two bazooka shells, a mortar shell and a hand grenade, found at the Weaver home where the blast occurred. The four children were playing outside the Weaver residence. An eye-witness said that one of them pitched the shell a few feet and it exploded when it hit.
Dave, I’m glad I was able to find this, and will certainly see what I can find in more local archives as well. I’d also be interested if anyone else remembers this sad event.Have questions or memories to share? Email me at email@example.com or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.