Potosi, a village in Springfield Township, York County, Pa., linked to mining
The major Adhesives Research fire last week leads to the question of how the nearby crossroads of Potosi got its name.
John D. Kilbourne, Historical Society of York County director, weighed in about 50 years ago after receiving an inquiry from a Wisconsin resident.
The inquirer was trying to link mining with other towns in the Americas called Potosi.
Kilbourne wrote back that iron ore mining occurred in the 1880s in Springfield Township. The Potosi Post Office was established there in 1901.
“Circumstances seem to indicate a tie-in with the mining activities,” Kilbourne wrote.
This information came from a York Daily Record article in 1995.
The newspaper further reported that in 1540, Spanish colonists discovered silver in the Potosi state of southern Bolivia. Cerro Potosi mountain was “honeycombed with thousands of mines,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. “Legend attributes its name to “potojchi,’ a Quechua Indian word meaning ‘to explode,’ because of rumblings inside the mountain.”
The capital city of Potosi became famous for its wealth from silver mining in the 1650s.
For more on Potosi, Springfield Township, Pa., see a York Daily Record story on the community below:
Longtime residents of Potosi recall more history than the hamlet would appear to offer, but they don’t know how Potosi got its name.
The Mount Zion United Methodist Church dominates the intersection of Potosi Road and Mount Zion Road, about a mile south of Interstate 83’s Glen Rock exit.
A gray stone above the door shows the red-brick church, on the northwest corner of the crossroads, was built in 1880.
A circular, petaled window above the stone carries the name, “Mt. Zion Evan. U.B. Church,” for the Evangelical United Brethren Church.
Before it erected its first church in 1827, an Evangelical congregation began holding camp meetings in 1810 on land of John and Catharine Seitz, according to a church history.
The Potosi congregation was the second-oldest of the Evangelical Church, said Jacki Starz, pastor of Immanuel United Methodist Church, Glen Rock.
The 1827 church, built of local fieldstone, stood in her yard, on the southeast corner of the intersection.
Potosi extends about a half-mile in all directions from the crossroads, she and other residents agreed.The congregation abandoned the stone church and built another one in 1855, according to the church history.
The current church, on the northwest corner of the intersection, replaced the second church, which became unsafe after 22 years.
J. Thomas Carman bought his farm, which marks the western end of Potosi, from descendants of the Seitz family on March 7, 1939. “It was a nice location, and I wanted a farm. I was a young guy,” said Carman, who will be 81 in June.
While his late wife, Mary, who died in January, collected information on Potosi, Carman doesn’t know the origin of the name.
Only two trees of the campground remain, said Treva Stiles, Carman’s neighbor since 1958. She and her cousin, Stewart Smith, live across Mount Zion Road from each other, and her parents lived a half-mile north of the intersection, just outside Potosi.
Smith, 65, traces his ancestry back to the Seitz family, whose farm included most of what is Potosi 180 years ago. The Seitz farm covered 40 to 45 acres, when his grandfather, Charles C. Smith, bought it in 1929.
His grandfather owned a general store on the northeast corner of the crossroads. The store, visible in a 1969 photograph, was torn down in the 1970s because it “started to pull apart” and became unsafe, Smith said. “I sort of hated to see it go.”
World War I veterans used to sit around Saturday evenings near the pot-bellied stove in the store playing board games.
The Southern York County Band, which others call the Potosi Band, practiced for parades and picnics on the second floor of the general store in the 1930s.
“They’re almost all gone now,” Smith said.
On summer weekends, 80 to 100 horse trailers gather at a horse ring on Line Road, she said.
James Wilson, 40, has lived on Mount Zion Road since 1973, about a half-mile east of the church and just past Woodland Road.
He and neighbors built a distinctive A-frame house four years ago.
“We consider ourselves suburbanites,” he said, chuckling.
Only a mile from the interstate, Potosi is still “just far enough out in the country,” he said.
“It’s great,” Sheila Aldinger said of living in Potosi, but the traffic’s getting worse.
She watched as a neighbor looked both ways before crossing to her mailbox.