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How did Barshinger Creek get its name?

1908 Topographic Map of Barshinger Creek in York County, PA  (Creek and Tributary Enhancements by S. H. Smith)

The York Daily Record article on Saturday about Red Lion Area High School alums and students spearheading an effort to protect the Barshinger Creek freshwater ecosystem caused me to dust off some information in my files about the creek name.  This information was gathered for my book Barshingers in America, and is sourced therein.

Through the end of the 1800s the currently named Barshinger Creek was a tributary of the Little Codorus Creek in York County.  I have also seen Barshinger Creek identified as the Little Codorus Creek; this might have been just after the Little Codorus Creek in the area was renamed East Branch of the Codorus Creek.

The first extensive United States Geodetic Survey Topographic Maps were done in York County during the early 1900s.  There were several Little Codorus Creeks in York County at that time.  I suspect during the time of the first U.S.G.S. surveys is when all of the Little Codorus Creeks received unique names.  Many of the newly named creeks had an association with a mill on the creek; hence the name Barshinger Creek.  This post explores the man behind Barshinger’s Mill.

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The earliest map with the Barshinger Creek name is the topographic map shown at the beginning of this post.  This United States Geodetic Survey’s York, PA Quadrangle Topographic Map was surveyed in 1908, engraved in 1909 and printed in 1910.  Therefore by the 1908 survey, Barshinger Creek had its name.  A few years later, a 1915 Map of Public Roads of York County, PA by the Pennsylvania State Highway Department reaffirms the waterway name Barshinger Creek.

Barshinger Creek originates on the grounds of the Red Lion Area High School.  The creek flows south-west past the villages of Arbor and Adamsville, before passing the site of the former Barshinger’s Mill.  Arbor Drive parallels most of the creek’s length.  Barshinger Creek flows into the East Branch of the Codorus Creek at a point 1-1/2 miles upstream of where the East Branch forms York Water Company’s Lake Redman.

Jacob Kohler established the first mill along the creek in 1853.  For many years, the oldest son George Kohler ran the mill for his father.  After Jacob died, his executors sold the mill property to Michael Grim during 1875.  Michael Grim operated the mill until he reach the age of 63; at that time the mill property was sold to 29 year old Simon A. Barshinger in 1892.

Simon A. Barshinger [1863-1945] Photo ca. 1895 (S. H. Smith Collection)
For 28 years, Simon Barshinger expanded and operated the mill now known as Barshinger’s Mill.  This mill was located on the south side of the creek; as indicated on the 1908 Map.  In this area, the creek is the boundary between York Township, on the north side of the creek, and North Hopewell Township, on the south side of the creek.

Mill construction was frame on a stone foundation.  When Simon purchased the mill, it was powered by a 16-foot diameter by 3-1/2 feet wide wooden overshot waterwheel.  The mill had several run of stones when it was purchased in 1892; Simon continued to use two to make cornmeal & buckwheat flour.

Stone milling started to give way to roller milling in the mid-1880’s.  Simon Barshinger might have been among the first mill operators in York County, PA to make the transition.  He had 3 sets of Flour Rolls of 40 barrels per day capacity; flour in 40 barrels would weigh 7,840 pounds; produced daily.

Simon eventually added a second waterwheel to power 2 more sets of Flour Rolls to increase his white flour production to 100 barrels per day; equivalent to 19,600 pounds of flour daily.  The second waterwheel was a 16-foot diameter by 3-1/2 feet wide steel overshot design manufactured by Fitz Waterwheel Company of Hanover, PA.  It is unknown if the mill building had to be enlarged to accommodate the second waterwheel.

Much of the flour from Barshinger’s Mill was being used in another business venture that Simon Barshinger was involved with.  In 1914, the York Pretzel Bakery was begun by Simon and six other individuals: Harry B. Anstine, G. W. Reider, Jacob Beitzel, Horace E. Reider, Harry W. Schaberg and Luther Meckley.  The obituary of Harry B. Anstine noted:

[This was a business] venture which in only a few years was due to prosper to a degree beyond the dreams of even the most optimistic of them.  The company built its new pretzel bakery on Pattison Street [in York, Pennsylvania] where both factory and business enjoyed continued growth and increasing prosperity.  In 1924 the National Biscuit Company made overtures for the purchase of the properties and business of the York Pretzel Bakery and the deal was consummated on January 1, 1925, when the National Biscuit Company [NABISCO] took possession.

Simon was active in politics.  He unsuccessfully ran for the State Legislature in 1904.  In 1919, at the age of 56, Simon A. Barshinger was elected one of three York County Commissioners.  York County is governed by a board of three commissioners; serving four-year terms.  He served four years; 1920 through 1923.  The Commissioners that served with Simon Barshinger were D. Eugene Frey and Dr. Charles A. Keagy.

When Simon A. Barshinger decided to further expand milling operations, he was not tied to waterpower any longer.  Again, he might have been among the first flour mills in York County to be totally powered by electric motors.  Simon Barshinger chose to move milling operations to Red Lion, PA; actually not very far from where the headwaters of Barshinger Creek originate.  He choose property at the end of Taylor Avenue; a very convenient transportation location because it was adjacent to the Maryland and Pennsylvania [Ma & Pa] Railroad tracks.

Being adjacent to the Ma & Pa Railroad made it easy to ship the mill’s flour from Red Lion to York and process it into pretzels.  The York Pretzel Bakery was located on Pattison Street where it crosses the Ma & Pa Railroad.  The former bakery building burnt down during July 2000, it had previously been vacant for a number of years.

The Red Lion Milling Company was granted its charter January 12th 1920.  Original stockholders were Simon A. Barshinger; his two sons Clarence F. Barshinger and Charles E. Barshinger; Samuel A. Roseman and Samuel S. Laucks.  Its principle milling equipment consisted of the five stands of Flour Rolls previously at Barshinger’s Mill along Arbor Drive; plus a new stand of Flour Rolls.  During the first year of operation in 1920, the Red Lion Milling Company had an overall production of 150 barrels per day; equivalent to 29,400 pounds of flour per day.

The original 1920 Red Lion Milling plant consisted of a stone building in which the flour milling equipment was placed, a frame building used as a feed mill and warehouse, and a frame grain elevator of 50,000 bushels capacity.  The following 1930 photo shows that the Red Lion Milling plant had already expanded with additional buildings and storage silos when it was 10 years old.

Red Lion Milling Company from 1930 Golden Jubilee Pictorial Souvenir of Red Lion, PA

After Simon A. Barshinger passed away during 1945, the Red Lion Milling Company was primarily under the control of Simon’s son, Charles E. Barshinger.  Nebraska Consolidated Mills Company, (currently ConAgra) acquired Red Lion Milling Company in 1968.  The mill officers at the time were Charles Emanuel Barshinger, President; Richard Simon Barshinger (Charles’ son), Vice President – Treasurer; and Harry I. Trout (Charles’ son-in-law) Vice President & Production Manager.  In 1968, daily mill production was at 110,000 pounds of flour.

At the time of the acquisition, Simon Barshinger’s son Charles E. Barshinger was 75 years old, however he remained on in an advisory capacity; per Grant Voaden’s 1972 interview with Charles.  Harry I. Trout continued on as Production Manager of the plant until retiring from ConAgra in 1979.  Richard S. Barshinger became Eastern Regional Manager for ConAgra; stationed at the Martins Creek Plant in Easton, PA.

Richard S. Barshinger, the grandson of Simon A. Barshinger, was an alum of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA.  Following his retirement from ConAgra, Richard and his wife Ann provided the leadership gift for extensive renovations to Hensel Hall on F&M’s campus.  The building was renamed The Barshinger Center for Musical Arts.  Richard Barshinger noted:

I remember the many inspiring speakers I heard in that building while I was a college student.  It’s gratifying to me that Ann and I will have this opportunity to rejuvenate this beautiful building for future generations of Franklin & Marshall students.

Following the death of her husband in 2001, Ann Barshinger has carried on the F&M philanthropic work through scholarships and the leadership gift in constructing The Ann and Richard Barshinger Life Sciences Building.  Ann has also been involved in many facets of public service in the community, including a leadership gift towards construction now underway on Lancaster General Health’s Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Center.

Next Week, I’ll post more on the Barshinger Mill site along Barshinger Creek.

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