Iva and Luther Smith photographed in back of their home at 332 East Locust Street, York, PA (1953 Photo from Collections of S. H. Smith)
Love blossoms at a Yorkana Campmeeting
Ten-day Yorkana Campmeetings were annual occurrences during summers of the late 1800s to refresh body and soul. It was also the place where love blossomed for young people; as was the case for my grandparents, Luther and Iva Smith.
The Yorkana camp was located in a grove of trees on the farm of State Senator Gerard C. Brown in Lower Windsor Township. Today the location of that grove is identified as near the intersection of Barcroft Road and Gun Club Road; just south of Yorkana.
Familes, living on the grounds during campmeetings, rented tents set up for the occasion. Living on the grounds was preferred to get away from busy cares and bustle; to thoroughly refresh body and soul. The submitted photo is suspected to show a group of those tenters at a Yorkana Campmeeting in the late 1800s. However, non-tenters also attended campmeeting devotional services, via daily stagecoach service, directly to the large tabernacle tent, from surrounding communities.
After one of my resent talks I was shown the submitted photo and was questioned about the specific location of the Yorkana Campmeetings. I did not know the answer, however I had a personal interest in that question; so it bubbled directly to the top of my research To-Do-List.
In a family history interview, done in 1998, I heard the Yorkana camp is where my grandparents, Luther and Iva Smith, fell in love. Soon after that interview, I researched Yorkana Campmeetings at the York County Heritage Trust, however their collections did not have exact location or any other details; except for a small booklet of hymns and choruses compiled for distribution at a Yorkana Campmeeting. Several days ago, I discovered another copy of that booklet has been scanned and is now available on the Internet, at this LINK.
From the 1998 family history interview, I wrote: “Luther’s parents and Iva’s parents, and their children, annually camped the full week at the Yorkana Campmeetings. Luther and Iva knew of each other in East Prospect, however at one of the Yorkana Campmeetings they formed a bond, the first love for each; leading to marriage several years later.”
I turned to Newspapers.com, in search of a specific location clue. The Gazette newspaper, of York, PA, reported extensively about the 1898 Yorkana Campmeeting, of the United Evangelical Church, on the front page of their Saturday July 30, 1898, issue. Quoted passages are from that article.
“Several families had moved in on Wednesday, but the greater number took possession of their tents on Thursday [July 28th]. By night everything looked lively and promising. At 7:30 P.M., Presiding Elder Rev. A. H. Irvine, of Glen Rock, called the tenters into the spacious tabernacle for the first service. There was a large audience to greet the first speakers:” Rev. Irvine, Rev. B. Hengst, and Rev. U. F. Swengel.
“The president of the camp announced the rules of the meeting. There are eight different services beginning at 6:15 in the morning and closing with the preaching service at night. The first bell rings at 6:00 A.M. for rising and silent prayer. The services are as follows: 6:15 A.M., general family worship in the altar; 8:30, prayer and praise meeting; 10:00, preaching; 1:15 P.M., children’s and young people’s meeting; 2:30, preaching; 6:30, prayer and praise meeting and meeting for young people; 7:45, preaching. The following ministers are on the ground: Revs. A. H. Irvine, B. Hengst, U. F. Swengel, P. C. Weidemyer, B. F. Keller, E. Fulcomer, F. H. Foss, W. M. Sanner and G. E. Zehner.”
Ninety-eight tents were rented to families from places such as: East Prospect, Freysville, Glen Rock, Golden, Harrisburg, Holtz, Loganville, Long Level, Potosi, Red Lion, Shrewsbury, Stony Brook, Wrightsville, York, and Yorkana. The July 30, 1898, Gazette article printed the heads of the all the families renting tents at the 1898 Yorkana Campmeeting; along with where they were from. Included were: “Jacob Smith, East Prospect” (Luther’s father) and “John Gilbert, East Prospect” (Iva’s father).
Luther Smith and Iva Gilbert either fell in love at the 1898 camp; or at a campmeeting, a year or two earlier. Rev. Edward Folcomer, of Yorkana, married Luther and Iva on April 15, 1900; in the Margaretta Furnace Mansion. The following photo shows Iva and Luther Smith in back of their home at 332 East Locust Street, York, PA; after 53 years of marriage.
Newspaper articles note the Yorkana Campmeeting was located in a grove of trees on the farm of State Senator Gerard C. Brown in Lower Windsor Township. I plotted the mites and bounds from the 125-acre farm of Gerard C. Brown, which existed in 1898, upon a present tax assessment map:
Currently the groves of trees, within the Brown farm, are along the southern end of Barcroft Road and also south of Gun Club Road. That is same region where the tree groves are also located in the earliest aerial photos of the 1930s.
A historic topographic map, from 1908, is annotated with the boundaries of the Senator Brown farm and present road names:
“Campmeeting Grounds” is a note on a 1908 Topographic Map; in terms of present roads, it is south of Gun Club Road, near Barcroft Road in Lower Windsor Township. The symbol, next to the note, most likely indicates where the tabernacle tent sat; i.e. in a grove of trees on the farm of Senator Brown. I suspect many of the 98 family tents were located immediately around the large tabernacle tent, south of Gun Club Road; although some of the family tents may have been also located the woods along the east side of Barcroft Road.
Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos and illustrations in this post.
Links to related posts include:
Woman born in 1794 inspired Yorkana naming
Jacob Smith and John Gilbert among the 30 Founders of East Prospect
Iva Gilbert in 1896 Photo of Edward J. Sitler Cigar Factory Employees in East Prospect
Mary (Dietz) Poff was a Yorkana Postmaster
Satterthwaite artwork of unique store near Yorkana
Luther Smith connection to the firm Billmeyer and Small
John Gilbert’s connection to the Burning of The Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge during Civil War
Memories of the IVA-LU Bungalow upriver from Accomac
Snowball fight in Yorkana Graveyard
Roy Rogers in York and at Valley View Park, near Yorkana