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Photo shows Lefever's One-Room School students during the 1911-1912 school year. Torn down shortly thereafter, the schoolhouse was located along the east side of the present Haines Road, just south of Eastern Boulevard. (Photo was a donation to the Springettsbury Township Historic Preservation Committee by Luther Sowers)

The youngest township in York County is Springettsbury

The last of 21 York County townships to form, via dividing up the land of an existing township, was Springettsbury Township in 1891; by carving 16.38-Square Miles out of Spring Garden Township; north and east of Mill Creek. This post looks at why and how Springettsbury Township came into existence, plus a look at aspects of its early history.

The introductory photo shows Lefever’s One-Room School students during the 1911-1912 school year. Torn down shortly thereafter, that schoolhouse was located along the east side of the present Haines Road, just south of Eastern Boulevard. In 1912, Lefever’s was the focal point of major changes in schooling within Springettsbury Township. After other facets of early township history are explored; the Lefever’s story will be disclosed.

Background on Formation and Division of Spring Garden Township

Spring Garden Township, itself, had been established in 1821, by carving 24.74-Square Miles from parts of Hellam Township and York Township; two of the large original townships, in existence during 1749, when York County was carved out of the Lancaster County lands west of the Susquehanna River.

Rumblings about dividing Spring Garden Township initially surfaced in the early 1880s; at the same time when the eastern part of Manchester Township was attempting to separate. They succeeded in 1887, when East Manchester Township was established by carving 17.18-Square Miles from the eastern regions of Manchester Township.

Serious overtures about Spring Garden Township being divided into several townships arose in 1890. One of the issues was the single polling location within all of Spring Garden. It was located in the heart of Freystown, just east of York City; at the Public House of Reuben Doll, and commonly known as the Spring Garden Hotel.

The talk of division came from two directions; in the distant northeast and distant southwest areas of Spring Garden Township. These areas had repeatedly requested polling locations in their areas; however those requests fell on deaf ears to a governing body almost exclusively made up of and representing Freystown residents.

Those outlying areas repeatedly had no success in getting any of their people elected to positions in the township. There were claims of unequal taxation for roads and schools. Those became primary issues in the Petitions for Division; made to the Court of Quarter Sessions of the County of York.

Springettsbury Township established in 1891

The Courts approved a Petition for Division, by the people in the distant northeast area of Spring Garden Township. The Proposed Division Line between the new township, named SPRINGETTSBURY, and Spring Garden Township, would be Mill Creek. A special election was ordered and held on Tuesday February 17, 1891. At the time the whole Spring Garden Township had about 1,350 voters.

The only polling place for the special election was in the pictured Spring Garden Hotel. This hotel was in the Freystown section of Spring Garden Township, which was later annexed by York City in 1900. The building still stands at 701 East Market Street; at the northeast corner of East Market and North Franklin Streets. “Spring Garden Hotel” is still chiseled in stone on the west wall, facing North Franklin Street.

A 1891 special election, held at the pictured Spring Garden Hotel, favored establishing Springettsbury Township; carved from 16.38-Square Miles of Spring Garden Township; north and east of Mill Creek. This hotel was in the Freystown section of Spring Garden Township, which was annexed by York City in 1900. The building still stands at 701 East Market Street. (Source: 2019 Google Street View; Annotated by S.H. Smith)

There was a 47% turnout for the special election, where the results revealed; 597 voted FOR Division, and 42 voted AGAINST Division. Those results were made official at the next Court of Quarter Sessions, with a Decree of Division on April 20, 1891; thus establishing Springettsbury Township. Springettsbury Township encompassed 16.38-square-miles and Spring Garden Township was reduced to 8.36-square-miles.

Establishing Webb Township fails in 1892

In 1892, the people in the southwest area of Spring Garden Township submitted a Petition of Division. However in an attempt to neutralize the issue of distance to polling places, Spring Garden Township had established three precincts, with three polling places in their reduced size 8.36-square-mile township. There was a 54% turnout for that special election, where the results revealed; 220 voted FOR Division, and 262 voted AGAINST Division. Thus negating the attempt to create the 22nd new township in York County. If the majority had been For Division, WEBB Township, would have carved an additional 6.26-Square Miles from Spring Garden Township.

Functions of early Springettsbury Township Supervisors

During the initial two decades of Springettsbury’s existence, there were three Township Supervisors, elected directly by the voters in the township. From 1891 until 1912, the supervisors were mainly in charge of maintaining the roads and bridges; not already under the control of York County or a Toll Road organization.

The supervisors adopted budgets and levied taxes to maintain the roads and bridges under their control. They were in charge of hiring workmen and procuring materials and equipment to do that work.

These supervisors might also be involved in handling boundary disputes and conflicts over such items as placement of fences. These types of issues often resulted in the earliest ordinances enacted by Township Supervisors.

Early postal operations in Springettsbury Township

Springettsbury Township had two local Post Offices in its early years. Situated in the village of Pleasureville was the Springet Post Office. It was in existence from November 28, 1891 until it closed November 30, 1908. During those 17 years, the residents in the whole northwest region of Springettsbury Township traveled to that post office, setup in the corner of various Pleasureville stores, to pick up and drop off their mail. This local Post Office closed when Rural Free Delivery, out of the York Post Office, became available to this area in December of 1908.

Situated in the Stony Brook area; the initial local Post Office was called Turnpike. It existed from October 19, 1877 until March 2, 1882, when the Post Office name was changed to Stony Brook, which was the new name for the village. Stony Brook Post Office closed March 15, 1914. After that date, Rural Free Delivery, out of the York Post Office, became available to the southeastern area of Springettsbury Township.

The Postmasters for these local Post Offices were generally owners of stores in those communities. Every few years, a new local Postmaster was appointed, after which the Post Office Cabinets were often moved to a corner of the business associated with the new Postmaster.

Typical rural Post Office that sat in the corner of a village store (Source: National Postal Museum of Smithsonian Institution)

Functions of early School Boards of Springettsbury Township

As part of the Decree of Division on April 20, 1891, thus establishing Springettsbury Township, the School Board of Spring Garden Township turned over all schoolhouses within the new township to the new Board of School Control of Springettsbury Township; while the new board also assumed all outstanding debts associated those structures.

In 1891 the school term was only 6-months in Spring Garden Township (October through March) and the students were already out of school when the changeover to Springettsbury Township occurred. The new School Board had several months to prepare for the 1891-1892 school year.

Most functions of the early School Boards of Springettsbury Township are directly reported in Newspaper articles of that era. Other functions were discovered via interviews of School Board members throughout Pennsylvania; per a 1923 dissertation in the holdings of The Pennsylvania State College.

Township School Boards were elected positions; Springettsbury began with six board members. They adopted budgets and levied local taxes, per State mandates, in order to gain a State appropriation. They were the final say in operating the school system within their township.

Usually in June of every year, School Boards fix the length of the upcoming school year and set teacher salaries. In Springettsbury Township, the school year and salaries started off by remaining the same as those in Spring Garden Township. Going into their second school year, i.e. 1892-1893, they increased salaries one dollar. And as shown in the following articles, for their third school year, i.e. 1893-1894, the School Board of Springettsbury Township further increased teacher salaries by two dollars per month.

Front page articles in The York Daily of Tuesday June 13, 1893

For the 1893-1894 school year in Springettsbury Township; Salary of $32 per month for primary work, i.e. for teaching grades 1 through 4; all in one room. Salary of $32 per month for mixed work, i.e. for teaching grades 1 through 8, all in one room. And Salary of $36 per month for secondary (also known as grammar) work, i.e. for teaching grades 5 through 8, all in one room.

The annual examinations of teachers for provisional certificates are held, usually in June, to fill teacher vacancies. The York Daily article of June 13, 1893, noted those exams, for Springettsbury Township, were held in Lefever’s school house. In which nine applicants presented themselves, of whom three failed to pass.

School Board members also observed teachers, teaching in classrooms several times a year. The Boards used these observations, plus annual exam results, to decide if they would retain a teacher the following year. These observations were also a factor in how the School Board assigned their teachers to the various schoolhouses, at the beginning of every school year.

When Springettsbury Township was established in 1891, it contained nine schoolhouses; to which all students walked to school. Seven of the schoolhouses were one-room, one-teacher; for all eight grades. Schoolhouses in Pleasureville and The Glades were two-rooms, two-teachers; each of which taught four grades.

School Boards established Territory Maps to show the region where each schoolhouse drew their students. The following is what such a map would look like for Springettsbury Township between the years 1891 and 1911.

Shown are territories of the 9-schoolhouses in Springettsbury Township; up to changes during 1912. (A 1911 Highway Map published by PA; Annotated per research by S.H. Smith, 2021)

Some School Boards adjusted their Territories Map continually to even out the number of students in each schoolhouse. Other School Boards kept a general Territories Map and used their influence to even out the number of students in each schoolhouse. The common way to do this was to shift the popular teachers to schoolhouses with the lowest number of students, and allow students living in the vicinity of territory boundaries the one-time choice of switching schoolhouses for that year.

Early Township and Student populations

The population in Springettsbury Township was nearly flat between the years 1891 and 1911; averaging 1750 Total, which included a school age population (Grades 1 through 8) averaging 405 students. In the 11-rooms available for instruction that averages 37 students per room.

There were 348 students attending Springettsbury Township schools, during the 1910-1911 school year. The classes were conducted in 11 rooms, with an average of 32 students per room. With overall enrollment down the School Board was not in a hurry to build a new schoolhouse. However Lefever’s was handing 43 students during the 1910-1911 school year, and that schools population was projected to soon hit 50, as the East York development, in Springettsbury Township, was taking off.

In the introductory photo, showing Lefever’s One-Room School students, during the 1911-1912 school year, I counted 36 students, plus the teacher. That photo was a donation to the Springettsbury Township Historic Preservation Committee by Luther Sowers. I discovered that photo in the Springettsbury Township Historic Preservation Committee Collections only after I wrote the January 2017 post Lefever’s One-Room Schoolhouse impacted York Suburban.

I contacted Luther Sowers shortly after that photo discovery and asked about the decrease in Lefever’s students from 43 to 36; when it was projected to soon hit 50. He indicated some East York residents had already begun to send their children to city schools, via the trolley. They were thus paying school taxes in Springettsbury, plus tuition to the City schools. And rather than paying both, they pushed for the creation of the Springettsbury Township Independent School District; in the territory of Lefever’s Schoolhouse.

The East York residents were willing to pay higher taxes than those in the overall Springettsbury Township School District; to have a school on par with those in the city. The result was Hiestand School in the East York development; which opened for the 1912-1913 school year. That two-room schoolhouse had electric lights, running water and indoor bathrooms.

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos and illustrations in this post.

Links to related posts:

Stony Brook, Stony Run and the Trolley

The Opossum King of Possumtown

When York County almost had a Webb Township

Lefever’s One-Room Schoolhouse impacted York Suburban

Rocky start for Longstown One-Room Schoolhouse

Upheaval at the One-Room Schoolhouse

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