York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Mattie Chapman’s barrier-breaking legacy apparent in York County 30 years later

Mattie Chapman scored a number of first during her long career in York County public service. Background posts: Thomas Chatman Jr., pioneering police chief: ‘I thank God and the citizens of York for the opportunity to serve them’ and First York City Latino councilman temporarily state’s top appointed Dem and Pioneers Kim Bracey, Chuck Patterson vying for elected office.
York County voters elected Mattie Chapman to the office of prothonotary in 1975.
She became York County’s first black elected county official.
Nineteen years earlier, she had become the first black person to even work in a county office when she became a clerk in the prothonotary’s office.
Tuesday’s primary election saw several black candidates cue up to become firsts… .

Democrat Kim Bracey and Republican Wendell K. Banks, both black candidates, will square off for mayor of York City.
So, York probably will elect its first black mayor.
Two black candidates – Chuck Patterson and Sandra Thompson – are among four candidates who are leading their tickets for two judicial seats in the fall.
Patterson and Thompson will be on the ballot along with Harry Ness and Kathleen Prendergast.
The Republicans still hold a large voter registration lead so that gives the advantage to apparent GOP winners Patterson and Ness in this cross-filed race.
So, there’s a good chance that York County will elect its first black judge this fall… .
Mattie Chapman paved the way for these successes. The Democrat gained strong support from Republicans as well.
Simply put, she stood out when women and minorities were just starting to gain traction for positions of leadership in York County.
“They (attorneys) knew how well she ran the office,” attorney Nevin Stetler said. “She hired all good people, and they did their job.
Here is a sampling of other female and minority pioneers assuming important community positions since the late 1960s:
York City School District
First Latino school board president: Jeanette Torres
First Latino school board member: Vilma Garcia-Jones
First Latino school superintendent: Carlos Lopez
First black school board member: W. Russell Chapman.
First black female school board member: Doris Sweeney
First black school board president: Douglas Smallwood
First black school superintendent: Frederick D. Holliday
First black female superintendent: Tresa Diggs
First black homecoming queen, William Penn High School: Linda Woodward
York City
First appointed female mayor of York: Jessie M. Gross
First female candidate for York mayor (1973 Dem primary): Genevieve Ray
First elected female mayor of York: Elizabeth Marshall
First black chief of police: Thomas Chatman
First black male member of city council: Roy Borom
First black female member of city council: Carol Hill-Evans
First black candidate for mayor: Ray Crenshaw
First black female candidate for mayor: C. Kim Bracey
First black city controller: Charles B. Walker
First Latino York City Council member: Abe Amoros
York County
First black elected York County row officer: Mattie Chapman, prothonotary
First female county commissioner: Lorraine Hovis
First female York County Common Pleas Court judge: Sheryl Dorney
First black York County Common Pleas Court judge candidate: Chuck Patterson
First female state representative: Jane Alexander, 1964
Other community positions
First black member, York College board: Bobby Simpson
First black member, York County Chamber of Commerce Board: Bobby Simpson
First black chairman, York County Chamber of Commerce: Vernon Bracey
First black member, Lafayette Club: Vernon Bracey
First black member, Country Club of York: George Ruffin
First black nurse, Memorial Hospital: Mary E. White
First black York Hospital board member: Joseph Douglas
First black Wellspan board member: Daniel Elby
First female member, York County Bar: Mary Jane Yohe (1949)
(Sources for information about Mattie Chapman and the “firsts” above: James McClure’s “Never to be Forgotten,” “Almost Forgotten,” various newspaper accounts. Also, Georg Sheets’ “Lawyers and Leaders.”)