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Schoolhouse Symbols on Maps; and Introducing the Longevity Code

Northwest Section of Hellam Township, York Co., PA (1876 Map, page 30)

Many older maps rarely note the names of schoolhouses.  The 1908 Topographic Map discussed last Monday named a schoolhouse, however only a few were named on that entire map.  A few maps do note the location of virtually all schoolhouses using a variety of symbols.  This post will discuss how to go about placing the correct schoolhouse name to each symbol location.

The 1876 map section shown today displays the same area of Hellam Township that the 1908 Topographic showed last Monday.  The two schoolhouses are represented by a symbol on the 1876 map: ‘a square surrounding a dot,’ and the word ‘School.’  The word ‘School’ is not always written next to each symbol.  One has to look at these maps very carefully to pinpoint schoolhouse locations.


In red lettering, I have added the names of the two schoolhouses: Furnace Schoolhouse and Burnt Cabin Schoolhouse.  Burnt Cabin was an easy identification, since it was previously found on the 1908 Topographic Map.  I had never before seen a schoolhouse noted near Codorus Furnace.

Related posts include:

1886 History of York Co., PA by John Gibson, page 607

The 1886 History of York County by John Gibson lists the public schools in Hellam Township on page 607.  Using Twentieth Century maps and descriptions, I could account for the locations of all the schools except Furnace and Beidler’s.  I think most will agree that Furnace is the logical choice, since it is next to Codorus Furnace.

Beidler’s School has two possibilities, i.e. there are two remaining unnamed schoolhouse map symbols: one near the east end of Eagles Landing off of Pheasant Run Road. and another along north side of Fahringer Road.  If anyone knows the location for Beidler’s School please reply to this post.

1936-1937 School-Year Directory for York Co., PA, page 8

Directories of Teachers and School Directors of York County, Pennsylvania for the years from 1936 through 1953 are bound in a two-volume set at the York County Heritage Trust.  The 1936-1937 School-Year Directory indicates ten schools in Hellam Township.  The names in the left column are the teachers at each of the one-room schools.

Modern historians have identified the location of the ten ‘recent’ schools from 1936, but what about the location of the Pine Swamp School noted in the 1886 list?  The following map sections show the same Hellam Township area east and northeast of the Borough of Hallam in 1860 and 1915.  Shearer’s 1860 map uses ‘S H’ to note schoolhouse locations.  Here is a link for post on: The making of Shearer’s 1860 Map of York County, PA.  Pennsylvania’s 1915 Highway Map uses ‘circle with +’ symbol to note schoolhouse locations.

1860 and 1915 Map Comparisons for a Section of Hellam Township, York Co., PA

The schoolhouse locations are circled in yellow on each map.  The lowest schoolhouse on each map is along current Route 462.  Exact same location in 1860 and 1915; this is Rudy’s Schoolhouse, always has been.  The schoolhouse to the left side of the 1915 map is Tracey’s Schoolhouse, a more recent schoolhouse than Rudy’s.

The schoolhouses at the top of each map are at two different locations along Codorus Furnace Road.  Modern historians have identified the location of the upper schoolhouse in the 1915 map as Highmount Schoolhouse.

Initially it was up in the air if the upper schoolhouse in the 1860 map was Pine Swamp or Beidler’s.  Barbara Rudy to the rescue!  I was at the York County Heritage Trust Library on Saturday and thought I could stump Barb with the Pine Swamp question; wrong.  She not only knew Pine Swamp was the original name for the Highmount area, but also quickly pulled a family history that noted this fact.

I thought about classifying all the schoolhouses by their lifespan; i.e. longtime (Rudy’s), early and closed about 1900 (Pine Swamp), began about 1900 (Highmount), etc.  I soon recognized a better way to indicate lifespan while also documenting the source of each schoolhouse name using a five digit code; the Schoolhouse Longevity Code.

Schoolhouse Longevity Code

Longevity Code is FIVE digits in length, with each digit either ‘0’, ‘1’ or ‘?”

1886 is the year of the FIRST DIGIT; source is John Gibson’s History of York Co., PA

1907 is the year of the SECOND DIGIT; source is George Prowell’s History of York Co., PA

For first and second digits, if the history names the school in the township history it is assigned a ‘1’; if not named, it is assigned a ‘0’; and if the particular township did not supply a list, all schools in the township are assigned a ‘?’.

1923 is the year of the THIRD DIGIT; source is 1923-1924 School-Year Directory

1936 is the year of the FOURTH DIGIT; source is 1936-1937 School-Year Directory

1946 is the year of the FIFTH DIGIT; source is 1946-1947 School-Year Directory

In these school directories of York County, PA, the same rules apply; assigning ‘1’ if name is in the directory and ‘0’ if the name is not in the directory.

Schoolhouse Longevity Codes for Hellam Township

  • Beidler’s  {1?000}
  • Burnt Cabin  {1?000}
  • Druck Valley  {1?111}
  • Furnace  {1?000}
  • Hauser’s  {1?111}
  • Highmount  {0?111}
  • Kinard’s  {0?111}
  • Kreutz Creek  {1?111}
  • Levergood’s  {1?111}
  • Musser’s  {1?111}
  • Pine Swamp  {1?000}
  • Rudy’s  {1?111}
  • Strickler’s  {0?111}
  • Tracey’s  {0?111}

From the first digit to the fifth digit represents a lifespan of 60 years: {1886, 1907, 1923, 1936, 1946}.  A longtime lifespan (Rudy’s  {1?111}), early and closed about 1900 (Pine Swamp  {1?000}), began about 1900 (Highmount  {0?111}), etc.

One sees that Hellam Township did not include a school list in the 1907 George Prowell’s History of York Co., PA.  The school information for other townships was not in the 1886 John Gibson’s History of York Co., PA.

With these five digit codes, one can see the source(s) of the information associated with each school name.  If all code digits are ‘0’ or ‘?’, the source letter(s) to the right of the Longevity Code is the source for the schoolhouse name.

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