From York County to the Wider World
York County is part of what is known as a “cultural hearth,” an area from which ideas and culture spread throughout much of the country as settlers moved on.
In a recent post, I showed how the Great Wagon road, shown on the 1751 Fry-Jefferson map, carried pioneers to the south and west. Click here for that post.
That was only the beginning.
A more direct route from Dauphin, Cumberland, and northern York counties to Pittsburgh (then Ft. Duquesne) was a result of the French and Indian War (1754-1763). In 1758 British General John Forbes set out from Carlisle to take Ft. Duquesne from the French, building forts and a road as he went. After the hostilities, that road, much of which is traced for a good portion by Route 30 and parallels the Pennsylvania Turnpike, provided another way to the western territories.
A reader from northern Virginia, Bill Harshaw, reminded me, however, that not every family went to seek new land in the south or west. He tells me that his ancestors, Captain John Rippey and wife Mary Orson from Lower Chanceford Township went north, following the Susquehanna to the Finger Lakes area of New York state. Bill points out that the white settlers found that the Iroquois were successfully cultivating the land in that area. After a treaty was made with the Native Americans, settlers moved in, as the Rippeys did around 1804.
Bill tells me that the John and Mary Rippey had 13 children. That number of offspring, or close to it, wasn’t unusual and illustrates why more and more land was needed to farm for each generation. Orson Run, near Chanceford Presbyterian Church at Airville, is named for Mary’s family, so there are probably still relatives living in York County.
Click here to connect to Bill’s Harshaw Family blog, which includes information on the Orsons and Rippeys.
How about your family? You might think you have no York County family connections, but don’t be too sure. You know the “six degrees of separation” theory? I sometimes think you only need three degrees to connect to York County.