York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Northeastern York County’s Paddletown: Children paddled back and forth to visit grandma

Springettsbury Township’s Clair E. Wentz provided this photo of Newberry school students in 1946. Wentz started a school reunion in 1998 and the former classmates plus their counterparts from Roxbury and Beshore schools have been meeting every other year at Paddletown (St. Paul’s) United Methodist Church’s Christian Education Center. Background posts: Stetler Dodge transition indicative of other York-area changes , Smoketown a popular York County name a century ago and York County libraries offer serendipity – and have done so for decades.

My conversation with the woman scheduling me to speak at a Newberry Township one-room school reunion went something like this.
Reunion contact: Do you know where Paddletown is?
Me: I know about Paddletown Road, near Newberrytown.
Contact: It’s at the Paddletown Church hall.
Me: What’s the name of the church?
Contact: It’s just known as the Paddletown church.
It was as if, everybody knows where that is. No further explanation needed… .

I found out that the Paddletown Church is St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. And its new hall across the street is a popular community gathering space. Local folks don’t need any more explanation than: “It’s at the Paddletown Church.”
The church well represents that region. It’s made out of the red sandstone that gives the Redlands its name.
While the hall is detached, its matching standstone parsonage is not. It’s a throwback to the days that churches married ministerial living quarters – and thereby their pastors – to their buildings. Today, many churches either offer off-site housing or a housing allowance built into pastoral compensation packages.
And while English Quakers founded Newberrytown, the German origin of that church suggests a strong continental influence in that area.
Anyway, back to this northeastern York County village of Paddletown.
How’d it get its name?
Historian John Gibson gives this explanation.
“A long while” before the 1880s when Gibson wrote, Newberrytown’s Abigail Miller’s two daughters lived near a settlement near Newberrytown.
“Their many children ‘paddled’ back and forth to visit the affectionate grandmother, who gave their home the name long since used,” Gibson wrote.
Town names must be important to those at the reunion.
Two women asked me if I knew where Yocumtown was.
I told them it was in the vicinity of Valley Green or Newberry Commons shopping center.
They looked at me with just a bit of reproach.
“Valley Green Shopping Center,” one of them said with a laugh.
It was as if everybody knows where Yocumtown is. No further explanation needed.
For a site filled with info on one-room school, click here.