Billmeyer, Lancaster County named by Son & Son-in-Law of Charles Billmeyer
The location next to marker ‘6’ on this 1908 Topographic Map is named Billmeyer. This name has a direct relationship to Charles Billmeyer, one of the founders of the rail car manufacturer Billmeyer & Small in York, PA. The location is still noted as ‘Billmeyer’ on current maps, such as within Map Plate 3346 at grid G9 in the ADC Map books; even though the town and the plant no longer exist. Learn the meaning of all those other marker numbers on this map and why the marker ‘6’ location was called Billmeyer.
The Meaning of the Ten Marker Numbers on the Map
Every Thursday, I post the next part of my RAILCAR GOLD novel; a historically accurate multi-generational fictional tale of hidden treasure primarily set in York County during the later half of the Nineteenth Century. In the year 1860, Dan, the main character in the novel, is now in a town on the outskirts of Bainbridge, Lancaster County.
This map points to some of the locations Dan has visited in recent weeks and will visit in the coming weeks. Dan is on a journey where by happenstance he passes through York, is befriended by Charles Billmeyer and decides to stay. Dan spends the greater part of his life associated with the rail car manufacturing business Billmeyer & Small.
- Marker ‘1’ The nearby village where Dan, the main character in ‘Railcar Gold,’ is living with his Uncle Rufus in 1860. In actuality George Stacks moved to this area in 1844 and the initial settlement was called Stackstown. The name of the village quickly progressed through the following names: Stackstown, Bridgeville, Ridgeville, Hancock, Lobato and currently it is nearly back to the original name, Stacktown.
- Marker ‘2’ The town of Bainbridge, Conoy Township, Lancaster County.
- Marker ‘3’ The up-river fishing hole used by Dan and his friends.
- Marker ‘4’ The location where the Conoy Creek flows into the Susquehanna River.
- Marker ‘5’ The down-river fishing hole used by Dan.
- Marker ‘6’ The quarry, plant and town of Billmeyer, Conoy Township, Lancaster County.
- Marker ‘7’ Vinegar Ferry across the Susquehanna River.
- Marker ‘8’ Wildcat Falls in Hellam Township, York County.
- Marker ‘9’ 843-feet elevation summit eventually named Buzzards Roost.
- Marker ‘10’ Burnt Cabin One-Room Schoolhouse in Hellam Township, York County.
Timeline Behind the Naming the Plant and the Town of Billmeyer, Lancaster County
1846 John Halderman, who owns the surrounding property, starts a quarry at this location
1847 Lime kilns are added to produce lime for farmers
1860 The first time ‘Railcar Gold’ Dan is in the area, John Halderman still owns the quarry and kilns. Ownership and renters of the property would change several times in the following years.
1887 In York, PA, John E. Baker, a Limeburner, married Mary Billmeyer; she is the daughter of Charles Billmeyer, one of the founders of the rail car manufacturer Billmeyer & Small.
1889 In Wrightsville, York Co., George S. Billmeyer, of Billmeyer & Small Co. and son of Charles, partners with brother-in-law John E. Baker in buying a quarry and lime kilns in Wrightsville; they call their 50/50 partnership the Wrightsville Lime Company.
1892 The Wrightsville Lime Company’s first expands by buying property at Campbell’s Station, York Co. and operating a quarry (this is the quarry along north side of Route 462 in Hellam Township; near Campbell Road and west of Hallam).
1896 The Wrightsville Lime Company substantially expands by purchasing all the original Halderman properties in Conoy Township, Lancaster County, with all kilns and quarry included.
1904 The J. E. Baker Company is incorporated, successor to the Wrightsville Lime Company. J. E. Baker is President and George S. Billmeyer is Treasurer of the J. E. Baker Company. The growing plant and surrounding town at their operations in Conoy Township are named Billmeyer.
Billmeyer & Baker were involved in two other business ventures. Along with John T. Dyer, George S. Billmeyer and John E. Baker were involved in establishing the Union Stone Company in 1903. John T. Dyer was President, J. E. Baker was Treasurer and George S. Billmeyer was Secretary. Their principle quarry was located in Saginaw, York County. The Susquehanna Railroad Bridge near Shock’s Mills (shown on the map) was started in 1903; the Union Stone quarry furnished most of the stone for its construction. In 1936, the Union Stone Company was purchased by the J. E. Baker Company.
John H. Small, the President of Billmeyer & Small Company, died in 1902. George S. Billmeyer succeeds him as President. George’s brother Charles M. Billmeyer became Treasurer. George’s brother-in-law John E. Baker became Secretary. Billmeyer and Small Company were no longer making rail cars at that time, however they still had a thriving lumber manufacturing business; J. E. Baker remained Secretary of the firm until at least 1917.
Almost all the stone used to construct the 1930 concrete arch bridge between Columbia and Wrightsville came from the Billmeyer Quarry. The remainder came from the Union Stone Quarry, since J. E. Baker had the contract to supply the stone (per page 84 of The History of The J. E. Baker Company).
Quarry and Kiln operations ceased at the Billmeyer site in Conoy Township in 1954. The extensive quarries eventually filled with water. The Bainbridge Sportsmen’s Club now operates the Bainbridge Scuba Center at the quarries.
Go to this post for an index of everything on YorksPast about 19th Century Rail Car Builders of York, Pennsylvania. Check back often, as the posts on this subject expand to include all manufacturers.Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts