York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Researcher wrote about Civil War in York County when the topic was not hot

When the Confederates entered York, they would have been greeted by a scene similar to this with the Hartman building towering over York’s Centre Square. The building, referred today as the Futer Bros. building, is being renovated. But the market sheds are long gone. Background posts: York’s western gate: One image says so much, Farm vs. factory tension relieved by overnight raid and Late June has seen pivotal moments in York County history.

Since the year 2000, more than a dozen books have been written that address, in full or in part, York County’s role in the Civil War.
Research was limited before that.
But one writer deserves credit for kicking off the current popular Civil War enthusiasm in York County, complete with stories of the Civil War hospital, the burning of the Wrightsville Bridge, the surrender of York, Jeb Stuart’s ride through the countryside, among many other events.
His name is Gerald Austin Robison Jr., and he was writing about the Civil War in 1965 when it was not a popular local topic… .

The title of his Millersville University master’s thesis, “Confederate Operations in York County,” suggests the scope of his ambitious project.
I started my recent York Sunday News column (6/30/09) telling about Robison’s contribution and then brought the local Civil War research enterprise up to the present day.The column went on the explain why Civil War research was not popular for decades:

I was sitting around at some public event a couple of years ago when a man came up and introduced himself.
His name was Gerald Austin Robison Jr.
I bolted upright and extended my hand.
Here was the man who wrote his 1965 master’s thesis “Confederate Operations in York County,” the first scholarly look at York County’s role in the Civil War since, well, the Civil War. I had sourced his unpublished thesis in my own early-1990s master’s work about the city’s surrender to the invading rebels and numerous other things that I’ve since written.
So, meeting him sent little tingles up my neck.
He told me that he had been a teacher in York County schools for years. He had been around, and I didn’t know it.
His work is an example of the countless unsung efforts going on every day in local Civil War research.

Click here to read the rest of the column, titled “Civil War now a hot topic in York.”