German prisoners from two wars came to York County
A fight between a developer and preservationists over the Camp Security site in Springettsbury Township has made many York County residents aware of the history of that Revolutionary War location.
Fewer are aware that York County played host to a second prisoner of war camp — Camp Stewartstown in World War II.
More than 2,000 German prisoners camped there in the summers of 1944 and 1945. These detainees came down from Fort Indiantown Gap to work in the orchards and canneries through southern York County. They stayed in tents, within a barbed-wire-enclosed compound at the Stewartstown Fairgrounds, next to the Presbyterian Church.
“There’s no homes built on it yet,” Betty Baldwin commented in presenting information about the camp to a gathering at Zion United Church of Christ earlier this month… .
Betty and her sister Margaret Shaub, both county residents, have connected with former prisoners there and have collected camp artifacts.
Germans link the camps in Springettsbury and Stewartstown. Hessians, German mercenaries, were among the Revolutionary War prisoners housed in York County. These Germans were literally farmed out to homesteads around the county. It’s possible some of their descendants came into contact with the World War II Germans incarcerated in Stewartstown.
It would be intriguing to learn of such links.
So there it is, overlooked county landmark No. 12, Camp Stewartstown. (See earlier York Town Square posts on the Little Courthouse, Prospect Hill Cemetery, War Mothers Memorial, USO at York County Academy’s former gymnasium, York’s Salem Square soldiers monument, the Cookes House, York’s rowhouses, Wrightsville’s monuments, the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge, memorial trees along highways, the Inches.)