York Town Square

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Archivist’s finding sheds light on famous note among the roses

Confederate Gen. John B. Gordon, recipient of bouquet shrouding a note from a spy.
Archivist Lila Fourhman-Shaull was researching a routine request for information about York’s St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in the York County Heritage Trust’s library.
She was working through Paul J. Kane’s 1986 “A History of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.”
As was customary for the Civil War enthusiast, her eyes moved to that era of the church’s history.
A letter from the pastor’s son Charles Baum gave an eyewitness account of the Confederate invasion of York on June 28, 1863.
She read the oft-told incident in which Gen. John B. Gordon received a large bouquet of flowers from a girl. The note exposed Union troop positions in Wrightsville, where Gordon was heading. One sentence riveted her eyes to the page… .

“The girl was said to have been the daughter of William Small of South George St., York, Pa.”
The archivist immediately tried to recall whether the girl or her family had ever been identified.
She rushed to the 1850 map of York and saw that William Small lived right next to St. Paul’s church. June Lloyd, library volunteer and former Heritage Trust archivist, joined Fourhman-Shaull on the multi-week research project to identify the girl and understand more about the William Small family. The formidable duo deftly unraveled the apparent identity of the girl, Margaret Small. Their findings formed the basis for an article that appeared in the York Sunday News on Jan. 21.
For Fourhman-Shaull, her answer to a longtime York County — and national — riddle was gratifying, akin to seeing National Archive documents handled and signed by famous generals.
“The hairs were up on the back of my neck,” Fourhman-Shaull recalled about her discovery.
Their research helped bring forth the following story in the York Sunday News on Jan. 21: http://www.ydr.com/newsfull/ci_5056238
Photo credit: Gordon’s “Reminiscences”