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Borough of York in 1860s; Six Newspaper Offices for a Population of 10,000

East Side of the Borough of York from Shearer’s 1860 Map of York County, PA (Street Names noted from other parts of map are in Red, plus Blue Markers added by S. H. Smith, 2013)

This 1860 map of the east side of the Borough of York is from upper right corner of Shearer’s 1860 Map of York County, PA.  Here is a link for post on: The making of Shearer’s 1860 Map of York County, PA.  I’ve completed the street names from other parts of the map in Red.  The present Market Street is identified as Main Street on this map; it had previously been known as High Street.

Another major change from the present time, the Agricultural Society’s Fairgrounds (7) are located along south side of King Street; east of South Queen Street.  The twin Market Sheds (8) are located in Centre Square, and the Railroad Station (3) is located on the south side of North Street; instead of its eventual location on the north side of North Street.


The eight blue markers pinpoint some of the locations that fictional character Dan DeWyatt, in my Railcar Gold historical novel, encounters after his arrival in York on July 4th 1860.  At the time, Dan is a 9-year old orphan, arriving in York as a stowaway on the train from Wrightsville.

In last Thursday’s installment of Railcar Gold, Dan DeWyatt pulled off his escape from the railcar undetected.  This escape occurred at location (1) on the map, with Dan heading towards Queen Street.  The identities of the other markers on the map are as follows:

  • (2) York Car Works of Billmeyer & Small
  • (3) Railroad Station House
  • (4) Union Car Works (vacant since 1857)
  • (5) First Presbyterian Church
  • (6) Home of Charles Billmeyer
  • (7) Agricultural Society’s Fairgrounds
  • (8) Market Sheds in Centre Square

An 1866 synopsis of the Borough of York was found in a national gazetteer.  It provides a concise description of York from that time period.  J.M. Bradstreet & Son’s 1866 Gazetteer of the Manufactures and Manufacturing Towns of the United States said this about the Borough of York:

YORK.—A wealthy and handsome post borough, the capital of York County; is situated on Codorus Creek, 10 miles southwest of the Susquehanna River, 28 miles S. S. E. of Harrisburg, 24 miles west by south of Lancaster, 48 miles north of Baltimore, and 92 miles from Philadelphia, with which cities it is connected by railways.  Numerous turnpikes, extending in various directions, connect this place with the principal towns of Pennsylvania and Maryland.  The Northern Central Railroad connects York with Baltimore on the one hand, and Harrisburg on the other.  It is surrounded by a populous and fertile farming region, which is well watered and highly cultivated.  In 1777, the Continental Congress met at this place while Philadelphia was occupied by the British forces.  Laid out in 1741.  There are in this place 18 churches, and 6 newspaper offices.  Three banks are located here, with an aggregate capital of $1,100,000.  It also contains 2 extensive manufacturers of cars, 1 large distillery, 3 soap and candle factories, 1 manufactory of agricultural implements, 2 flour mills, 4 tin and iron factories, 4 tanneries, 1 rope factory, 3 iron foundries, and 1 manufactory of scales.  Population of the borough in 1850, 6,863; in 1860, 8,605; at present (1866), estimated at 10,000.

The 2 extensive manufacturers of railcars are the York Car Works of Billmeyer & Small and the Empire Car Works of Michael Schall.  By 1866, the York Car Works (2) had expanded along North Street towards Duke Street.  In 1866, the Empire Car Works along North Beaver Street was the larger and older of the railcar manufacturers in York.

J.M. Bradstreet & Son reported six newspaper offices are in operation within the Borough of York during 1866.  Here is my attempt at naming these six newspapers:

  • The York Gazette
  • Democratic Press
  • York Republican
  • The People’s Advocate
  • The York Pennsylvanian
  • True Democrat

Post a comment if there is a correction to the name of any of these 1866 newspapers; although follow-up research showed these are correct.  The newest newspaper of the lot is the True Democrat; Gilson’s History of York County notes:

The True Democrat, a paper of strong Republican principles, which soon became a prominent and influential journal in York County, was started during the civil war, as an ardent advocate in support of the imperiled government.  The first number of this paper was issued on June 7, 1864, the same day that Abraham Lincoln was renominated for president of the United States by the National Republican Convention, which then convened in the city of Baltimore.  It was first issued by a stock company with Hiram Young as editor.

Links to related posts include:

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts