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Cover of book “Barshingers in America”

Unusual bits and pieces associated with Local Family Histories will be one of many areas that will be explored in the YorksPast Blog.  Even though I wrote a genealogical history of all Barshinger Families in America since 1735, it is essentially a local family history.  Second generation Barshinger Families were in York County by 1772 and virtually every succeeding generation remained in York County.

I am a lifelong Yorker who caught the LOCAL history bug in high school while writing a report on an influential local personality.  My report was on Mahlon Haines, the successful shoe salesman and businessman that built the Shoe House.


The report on Mahlon Haines was memorable because of a personal connection.  I saw Mahlon during Cub Scout outings at his Wizard Ranch near Accomac.  However I primarily remembered him as the jovial guy that visited our farm.  My Dad bought a flock of sheep from Mahlon to keep the grass down in the pasture.

In gathering information for my report I discovered a half-dozen large scrapbooks at the Martin Memorial Library.  These were scrapbooks put together by Mahlon Haines that covered his life and were donated to the library just before he died; they are now in the Library of the York County Heritage Trust.

Soon after writing that 1966 report, I started to keep a notebook and files of things I did and observed; kind of like Mahlon.  Every year I started a new folder for the current year and dropped items of interest into the appropriate folder.

I attended a motivational lecture during 1977.  The emphasis was on setting life goals and keeping a journal.  The lecture reinforced and expanded what was started in 1966.  I made folders for years prior to 1966 and to fill them, an ever-growing curiosity in researching local history was launched.  My growing collection will form the basis for an eventual Autobiography.

My initial family history book was published in 2001.  I included local history interspersed with the family history.  I entered my book “Barshingers in America” in the 2002 National Genealogical Society’s Genealogical Writing Competition.  One top award is given annually in three categories.  I was told that “Barshingers in America” won the Genealogy and Family History category in large part because of the quality and extent of related history included with well-researched and documented genealogy.

I have continued researching local history to enhance other family histories, to develop talks on various aspects of local history and to lay the groundwork for planned historical novels.  I will be sharing a hodgepodge of my explorations of York’s Past in this blog.

“Barshingers in America” can be found in the Library/Archives of the York County Heritage Trust among the many shelves of completed family histories.  There may already be a book completed on your family.  Make sure this library is your first stop when starting a family history project; you will be amazed at what you will find.

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