Jefferson borough’s Center Square in the middle of history
The grassy Center Square in Jefferson has been a gathering place for years. That monument in the background is a rare statue in York County devoted to those who served in World War I. A historical marker will be dedicated at 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 27. The Codorus Valley Area Historical Society is sponsoring the dedication that will observe this Civil War event, set for Center Square. Scott Mingus will be the guest speaker. Background posts: Washington Township, Jefferson Borough, Madison Avenue. How about an Obama Street in York County? and Abe Lincoln stopped at Hanover station:”We want to preserve history … so it doesn’t disappear’ and Abandoned Codorus railroad not just any abandoned railroad.
When a new Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker observing Confederate and Union troop movement through Jefferson is dedicated later this month, it will mark just one of many times the southwestern York County borough and its square have made history.
Squares, by definition, are places where townspeople gather and do good things or dumb things – or places where outside forces do things to a community.
But not all town squares are equal.
And Jefferson’s Center Square is more than equal, among many in York/Adams.
For example: … .
– Elijah White’s Comanches, a cavalry unit of about 250 Confederate raiders, passed through Jefferson on June 27, 1863, on their way to destroy the telegraph and rail hub in Hanover Junction and then returned to join the main units of the rebel raid.
– About 4,500 cavalrymen under Confederate Gen. Jeb Stuart’s command, with 125 captured wagons in tow, passed through on June 30.
– Late on July 1, David M. Gregg’s Union cavalry — perhaps 3,000 horsemen — trooped west toward fighting in Gettysburg.
– In November 1863, Abraham Lincoln rolled through Jefferson on the Hanover Branch Railroad, north of the square. His train did not stop. His mission that trip was to give a speech — the Gettysburg Address, as it became known — to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.
– In 1921, local churches and community organizations erected a World War I statue. With its accompanying fieldpiece, it’s a rare monument from the Great War on display in York County. The marker memorializes townsmen Horatio Smith and Edward Swartzbaugh, who died in the war.
– The square was improved after the paving of area streets in 1927, upgrading the square substantially to near its present-day appearance. Today, Jefferson and Goldsboro are the two towns in York County with roads routed around a central point. (Remember, Abbottstown and New Oxford are in Adams County.)
If any readers are aware of other public sites exclusively honoring those who served in World War I, please comment below. (I’m also aware of two in Wrightsville: Road to Remembrance Memorial, South Eighth and Hellam streets, and the Abel-Poff-Leithiser Memorial, South Seventh and Hellam streets.)