Only in York County

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Ask Joan: See the birds edition

Late last week, our family went on a 4-H trip to Kiwanis Lake to see the nesting herons and egrets. They’re amazing – and it’s cool that some of the most unusual wildlife in York County is nestled inside the city. Read more about the birds at Kiwanis here, through Audubon. We also collected our first letterbox at the park – more on that to come – and, later in the weekend, Sarah made a bird bath for our home garden. I predict even more birds in our future!

What’s inside
1. Size of the softball complex
2. Asked – and answered – by a reader
3. Mahlon Haines’ 3/4 Club

1. How large is the softball complex?
– Dave Benkert

Dave, thanks for asking. The Memorial Park Softball Complex, at Vander and Rockdale avenues in York, has, among MANY other attractions, nine softball fields and a total area of 72 acres. Get all the details through the Convention & Visitors Bureau website here.

From their site: “Memorial Park is a 72-acre municipal park and includes a nine-field softball complex, featuring Hoffman Stadium and eight perimeter fields. Four of the fields are lighted and all but one is fenced.”

Spectator seating is listed at a capacity of 1,100 people; I am not sure if that’s total or just for Hoffman Stadium, the main field; either way, that’s pretty cool!

(A slight discrepancy I found: The City of York website lists the area of the part at 74 acres, not 72.)

2. My family is fairly new to York County. We are in New Freedom. There is an abandoned property not far away. Location is Route 851 (Main St.) just north of Spruce St. There is the remains of a large building still there. Was it a factory, a school?
– John Dolan

I alluded to John’s question last week, when I said I had some things to check out in southern York County. The funny thing is, I was in touch with John in the meantime, and it turns out he at least mostly answered his own question! But, since others might wonder, too, I thought it was fun and worth sharing.

John writes, after doing some digging on his own, “The mystery building is likely The Sieling Furniture Company. If you Google Sieling Furniture Company, there are many pieces of used furniture for sale on line. About half a mile from the site stands an active factory with the name of Sieling & Jones. They supply office furniture, such as for boardrooms, etc. But according to Ed Jones III, the firm’s owner, his company was never associated with the Sieling Furniture Company. The name Sieling is rather prevalent in the area, he said, and there was likely a family connection. The Jones family bought the Sieling & Jones name in 1965.” John got some of that information from a 2003 post on the “Bullsheet” website by Allen Brougham; read more in the second entry on this page.

John also found this anecdotal account on a message board, by a poster named Mark: “When I was 15, I lived near Jacksonville in Balt. County. It was the summer of 1976 and my friend and I packed some things on our dirt bikes one weekday, and went on an overnight adventure/ trip up the abandoned Northern Central Railroad, not knowing where we would end up or stay that night. We discovered an abandoned furniture factory outside of New Freedom, in Rail Road, Pa. It was the coolest place to explore for the many hours we were there. I have pictures of the place and even an old catalog that I saved all these years. I see that there remains an old bill board at the edge of a park where the factory once stood proclaiming the site as ‘The Home of Seiling Furniture.'”

So, John concludes, “Well, Joan, looks like the case is closed. Now I’ll have sniff-out old photos and company history for The Sieling furniture company.” (You can see one 1976 photo here, which is pretty cool.)

I did manage to turn up one other fun reference, confirming, among other things, that it was spelled both Seiling and Sieling at times, much like John’s letter above alludes to. This 2009 post from Jim McClure’s York Town Square blog mentions the company in a post about past York County airports. It quotes Mike Baker Frankenberry, who wrote, “My father, Fred H. Lewis, owned the Sieling (Seiling) furniture co. in Railroad, Pa. He also had a plane which we all enjoyed and kept it at the Roosevelt Ave airport.”

John, maybe those names will give you a way to dig even deeper. I hope you’ll share what you find with us!

3. What information would you know about the 3/4 Club that Malhon Haines created and held a dinner for the old folks (75 years old) called the Old Folks dinner. Know any information? I have a picture of the group that was taken back in 1930 by Simon Photography. Would really like to know where the photo was taken and more about the people. The history of Haines should be more publicly noted, without him so much of York would not have existed!
– Sheree

Sheree, I couldn’t agree more, and that’s part of the reason it’s taken me so long to field this “Ask Joan” question. I was hopeful to find an actual answer, but I’ve been able to turn up relatively little, especially, as you mentioned, given Mahlon Haines’ status in the community.

Unfortunately, other than the shoe house, little of his work is documented. I did find reference to a book, “The Life and Times of Mahlon Haines,” by Michael W. Weaver, which I am going to see if I can find later today!

In the meantime, I’ll turn it over to everyone else. Anyone know about the 3/4 Club?

Got any questions? Ask Joan using the form at right. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future “Ask Joan” column on this blog. I’m already getting a big volume, so it might take me a while, but I hope to be able to answer as many as possible!

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