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York County Keystone Mystery Marker; GOLDSBORO

Example York County Keystone Mystery Marker with name of Town Removed from the Photograph (2013, S. H. Smith)

Keystone Markers are in the news.  The March/April 2013 issue of Pennsylvania Magazine has a feature article on Keystone Markers.  Last month June Lloyd wrote a post on her Universal York blog about these Keystone shaped signs marking entrances to many Pennsylvania towns.  Jim McClure noted on his blog, York Town Square, Look at the size of that Keystone Marker; in commenting on York city’s work on restoring a Keystone Marker.

The article in Pennsylvania Magazine about Keystone Markers noted; “What once numbered in the tens of thousands has dwindled to about 600 throughout the state,” and “the keystone marker program was a way of strengthening community identity.”  The article includes a contest in which the magazine presented nine mystery keystone markers from around the state.  To make them a mystery, the town names were removed from photographs of the signs.  The readers have until April 25 to enter the contest to guess the names of the nine mystery towns.

I thought, what a neat idea; why not include a York County Keystone Mystery Marker every now and then in YorksPast.  This initial post presents an example York County Mystery Marker and also reveals the town, Goldsboro, to show what I’ll be doing.  The remaining posts in this series will start with a new mystery marker and reveal the mystery marker from the previous post in the series.

Links to related posts include:


The York County Keystone Mystery Marker for the next post in the series is as follows:

York County Keystone Mystery Marker with name of Town Removed from the Photograph (2013, S. H. Smith)

If you think you know the name of this town or village, post a comment.  Otherwise, I’ll reveal the answer in a later post.

Revealing the York County Keystone Mystery Marker with the clue “Named for Major —–, Distinguished Civil Engineer, Founded 1850” … GOLDSBORO.

The site upon which Goldsboro is eventually established was originally a collection of a few houses built around an old gristmill, known as the “Red Mill.”  The turnpike between York and Harrisburg was completed through this site in 1816.  Martin P. Burger eventually conducted a small store east of the turnpike.  The collection of three or four houses was unofficially known as Martinsville; after the owner of the store.

The York and Cumberland Railroad was chartered in 1846 to be constructed from York to York Haven and thence along the Susquehanna River to Bridgeport (now Lemoyne), a town on the west bank of the Susquehanna River opposite Harrisburg.  Financing problems delayed the start of work on this railway for several years.  Maryland was impatient for this northerly rail extension, almost as much as the locals, and ended up helping to finance and organize the railroad construction.

Part of the railroad from York was completed in 1850 and the remainder of the railroad to the west shore of Harrisburg was completed in 1851.  Martinsville had fewer than half-a-dozen houses, a store, and a gristmill when the railroad was completed to this town in 1850.  York County histories note, “the rail station was given the name Goldsboro, in honor of J. M. Goldsborough, the civil engineer of the railroad.”

York County Keystone Marker for Goldsboro (Photographed 13 March 2013 by S. H. Smith)

This Keystone Marker is at the south Rt. 262 entrance into Goldsboro.  The marker shortened the name of the distinguished civil engineer from Goldsborough to Goldsboro.  I tried to locate more information on Major J. M. Goldsborough, however found absolutely nothing.  John W. Heisey once told me when I was working on my Barshinger Book, “if something in county histories smells fishy, do more research because it probably is.”

I believed the initials “J. M.” were not correct.  There was a distinguished railroad civil engineer at this time; his name Major Matthew T. Goldsborough, a member of a prominent Maryland family.  In the late 1830s and early 1840s, he was the assistant chief engineer for the building of the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, which became the Atlantic Coast Line.

2021 UPDATE:

In October 2021, Luke Broersma posted his excellent research, into the Major J. M. Goldsborough mystery, on the Goldsboro Historical Association web site. I’m in total agreement with Luke’s conclusion, i.e. that Goldsboro, PA is named after John McDowell Goldsborough (1813-1895). I continue to be impressed at Newspapers.com as a research tool; I use it regularly now, and wish it was available back when I wrote this post in 2013, when I incorrectly assumed Matthew T. Goldsborough was associated with the naming of Goldsboro, PA, like he was in Goldsboro, NC:

A North Carolina community on the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad became known as Goldsborough’s Junction after Major Matthew T. Goldsborough, the Assistant Chief Engineer with the railroad line.  The town of Goldsborough was incorporated in 1847, and the name officially changed to Goldsboro in 1869.  This information comes from a short history of Goldsboro, North Carolina; on their web site.

I found this story of interest.  The great Goldsboro prize fight of 1867 is noted in George Prowell’s 1907 History of York County, PA, Volume I, Page 884:

Goldsboro was stirred from centre to circumference in January, 1867.  What caused this commotion was the arrival of several hundred sporting men, who came to this place to witness a prize fight between Samuel Collyer, of Baltimore, and John McGlade, of New York.  Collyer came off victorious, after forty-seven rounds, and won the prize of $2,000.  The fight lasted one hour [evidently they had 1-minute rounds in those days].  The sheriff of York County appeared on the ground with a small posse, but being outnumbered, could do nothing to prevent the contest.  It was said at the time that bets to the amount of $200,000 were won on the results of this prize fight.  This money was carried away in triumph by parties from Baltimore.

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