Camp Security memories tucked inside memoir
J.W. Richley’s memoirs, “Obstacles No Barrier,” offers a full tank of information about the advent of the automobile in York County.
But the early-20th-century auto dealer included a wonderful nugget of information in his 1951 autobiography about Camp Security, a Revolutionary War POW compound.
(Richley’s work is out of print but occasionally available at antiquarian book sellers. The York County Heritage Trust archives has a copy. That’s appropriate. The Heritage Trust is located in Richley’s former dealership.)
Richley sought a rural getaway after his wife’s death in 1925, and came across a run-down 1.5 story house one-half mile north of Longstown.
The house, four miles east of York, was said to be part of the Revolutionary War prisoner of war camp.
From 1781 to 1783, more than 2,000 British prisoners, many from the Battle of Saratoga decided in 1777, were detached to the camp. Many came from Charlottesville, Va., then too close to British troops advancing from the south.
Richley’s new house was reportedly part of the stockade complex built to incarcerate the prisoners.
Here’s part of Richley’s rendition, with prisoner numbers badly overestimated:
“Over ten thousand of these prisoners were brought to this camp, which was on a hill beside a big woods, situated also not very far from several large springs of clear, fresh, pure water. This old log house evidently was thrown up very rapidly, the way it looked, as they did not take time to dig a cellar under it, but just laid the logs on some large stones that were laid all around where the foundation should have been. Even these large stones or rocks were not dug in, which should have been done to prevent the frost from getting under them.”
Richley dug a basement, remodeled the barn and built a springhouse, among other renovations.
There, he spent his summers.
Eric Lowe pointed out this reference, which shows why memoirs are so important. Sometimes, they provide information on events and people incidental to the writer’s main point. This reference to Richley’s Longstown bungalow is priceless.