Jamaican fruit pickers worked York County orchards in World War II
About 2,500 German POWs spent their days in orchards and canneries and their nights in Camp Stewartstown, seen here in this Stewartstown Historical Society photo, in the World War II summers of 1944 and 1945. These tents are located on the present-day ballfield at the community park occupying the site. The Germans had non-prisoner counterparts in the orchards. Jamaicans came north to pick fruit. Background posts: Story revives memories of oft-forgotten POW camp, Good stuff found in ‘Codorus Valley Chronicles’ and ‘Yesteryears’ chock-full of Southern York County sites.
The fact that Jamaican fruit workers worked orchards in southern York County in World War II came as no surprise to members of the Codorus Valley Area Historical Society.
During a recent speech to the group, I covered the Jamaican presence in York County.
Members of the historical group remembered them well, saying they worked from camps in Brodbecks and Fawn Grove… .
In fact, the Brodbecks camp is still there. It’s the former AMP building, now apparently vacant, at the Route 516-Schaffer’s Church Road intersection.
Here’s background on this 1940s version of migrant farm workers, as found in “Never to be Forgotten:”
Councils, with elected officials, govern the two camps. One leader is Elijah Lewis, a graduate of Tuskegee Institute and a teacher in Jamaican schools. The Jamaicans are to return to their homeland by Oct. 1. “The Jamaican accent baffles county residents, totally unprepared to hear English with a British accent complete with broad a’s and extra h’s,” a newspaper reported. “The rising inflection of their speech, however, gives their speech a Latin emphasis so that it is difficult to understand Jamaicans speaking among themselves.”