Catharine (or is it Catherine?) Meyer merits ‘Mother of Red Lion’ (or is it Red Line?) title
Catharine Meyer, known as the “Mother of Red Lion,” was a successful community leader whose contributions were recognized publicly before women generally achieved such. Also of interest: Ma & Pa rabbit trains passing through Red Lion: ‘I hope they thoroughly hosed out the cars.’ and Red Lion, then and now: ‘Welcome to a popular page on our web site’ and Every day, York County struts its diverse architectural stuff and Penn State student renovates Red Lion Victorian-era house.
Catharine Meyer was a late-19th century/early-20th century Red Lion business woman and landowner.
She was one of York County’s most publicly successful women in those days before women could even vote.
Interestingly, she was not included in the American Association of University Women’s “Legacies” project in the 1980s. That project profiled prominent 19th- and 20th-century York County women.
Not all deserving people could be included in the booklet, to be sure. And the book tended to be York centric.
There’s even uncertainty about how to spell her name – whether her first name is “Catherine” or “Catharine… .”
Catharine Meyer’s business card, noting she’s from “Red Line.” (Courtesy, York County Heritage Trust)
Red Lion history books go with Catherine.
Cemetery records at the York County Heritage Trust list “Catharine.”
Her obituary in The York Dispatch used the “e.”
And a business card, on file at the Heritage Trust and discovered recently by Yorkblogger June Lloyd, lists her with an “a.” But that same business card says she lives in “Red Line.”
Fortunately, Red Lion bestows the Meyer Award each year to a deserving person who displays the same interests of development and betterment of Red Lion as Catharine Meyer. That annual brings the Mother of Red Lion’s contributions into the public sphere.
The borough’s Web site, in describing the award, spells her name with an “e.” (Betty Rhodes was the honored awardee in 2009.)
The York Daily Record/Sunday News keeps an updated local style book. In naming the award, the newspaper will go with “Catherine,” the name on the award. In reporting on her name, it will go with “Catharine,” which is closer to her original name.
Newspaper correspondent Lori Badders wrote this about “Katarina Denker,” Catharine Meyer, on Jan. 11, 2010:
Born Katarina Denker in Oldenberg, Germany, in 1828, she became Catharine Meyer after marrying childhood schoolmate John Meyer upon his return from America.
In 1853, the couple purchased 55 acres north of the present Red Lion borough square and set about raising his three children from his first marriage as well as the children they had together.
In the years after his death in 1865, she became the borough’s chief philanthropist, giving land for what became Fairmount Park and the Red Lion Cemetery. When she became postmistress in 1874, she erected a building on what later became the site of the Red Lion Train Station on North Main Street. There she conducted postal, rail, mercantile and barroom business.
She also built Meyer Hall, later named the Red Lion Hotel; donated land for the construction of Grace Lutheran Church, North Charles Street; and pushed for the borough’s incorporation in 1880. She died in 1919 at age 91.
Meyer photo courtesy of “Red Lion, The First One Hundred Years,” published in 1980.